Monthly Archives: March 2015

The many faces of Great Blue Heron

First up is classic great blue. He (she?) just stands there doing nothing. Classic great blue is vaguely narcissistic, hoping passers-by will say “Ooo, awww, isn’t he (she?) beautiful?”

Great Blue Heron

Next up is reflective great blue. This is a little bit like classic great blue in that he (she?) is doing that narcissistic posing thing. But don’t be fooled. Great blue has one eye on the water, hoping to catch sight of food.

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Posted in Heart Tagged , , , |

Bullet Proof Vest at an Art Show

So Saturday we’re driving down Highway 27 from Haines City towards the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at the corner of Thompson Nursery Rd. It’s 32 degrees Celsius which is a far cry from the sub-freezing temperatures we left behind in Toronto. We pass a sign advertising a gun show this weekend. Hey, I’ve never been to a gun show before; I bet we’d meet some interesting people there. Tamiko frowns at me and we keep driving. Meanwhile, the news is overrun by pundits debating the local hot-button topic — college students packing sidearms on campus. Clearly, we ain’t in Canada anymore (though if PM Harper had his way, Cda would look a whole lot more like Fla).

On Sunday, instead of a gun show, we go to a massive outdoor art show in Winter Park which is kind of like a suburb of Orlando the same way Thornhill is kind of like a suburb of Toronto. Did I mention it’s 32 degrees Celsius? I don’t say that just to rub northern noses in it. I say that to underscore the fact that it’s awfully hot to be wearing a black bullet proof vest. And yet a bullet proof vest is exactly what I see some old guy wearing at the art show.

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We’re not talking about some private security personnel strolling the grounds to ensure public safety; we’re talking about an ordinary guy out with his wife, wandering from booth to booth checking out the sculptures and paintings. When I first see him, I rub my eyes in (naïve Canadian) disbelief. I start to stalk him. Then, naturally, I shoot him. There may be such a thing as a bullet proof vest, but, so far as I’m aware, there’s no such thing yet as a photo proof vest.

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A few things occur to me. First, this must be uncomfortable, especially in this heat. Second, this is an art show. I mean, really, what’s he afraid of? Getting caught in the cross-fire between rival landscape painters? Third, I wonder at what point fear becomes, not paranoia, but self-parody. Yet there’s a whole personal security industry down here that encourages people to engage in this self-parody.

As an after-note, I don’t know how to categorize this post. I have categories based on body parts. Heart, Elbow, Head, Spleen, and Hands. i.e. Emotional, Funny, Intellectual, Angry, and Technical. My first impulse is to categorize this as a spleen post. It makes me angry that people can be enticed to be so fearful. But I think I’ll stick it in the elbow category. It’s sadly funny that a grown man can be tricked into believing that his life is in danger at an art show. Or maybe he’s one of the exhibits. A piece of performance art.

Posted in Elbow Tagged , , |

Yes You Can Break A Carbon Fiber Tripod

Another gear mishap. The last time was a lens dropped on gravel with a scratch that rendered it unusable. This time, it was a broken tripod. On Monday, I was up to my wazoo in snow as I tramped through the sugar bush at Williams Farm (see yesterday’s photos). I was trying to get early morning shots of sap lines through the trees. The problem with setting up a tripod in snow is that it’s hard to find a stable base. That problem is compounded late in the season by the fact that the snow is dense and compacted. I was ramming my tripod through the crusty layers to find the ground. But once I hit the ground, I couldn’t open the legs. So I tried ramming the tripod into the snow with the legs slightly apart. The idea was that, as I shoved the tripod down, the legs would splay further into an open position. Seemed like a good idea. I shoved down and heard a loud crack like a branch or a bone breaking, but the only pain I felt was in my hip near my wallet. One of the legs had cracked lengthwise along the grain of the fiber.

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A couple takeaways from this experience:

1) When the salesperson tells you your carbon fiber tripod will be the last tripod you buy, don’t believe them (unless you’re really dainty with your gear).

2) When shooting in snow, don’t be impatient. Spend some time tamping the snow down with your boots before setting up your tripod.

3) Always have some duct tape on hand. I could still have gotten a few shots if I’d had some duct tape in my pack.

And, in case you were wondering, yes, I replaced it the next day with the same tripod – a Manfrotto O55. It’s an awesome piece of gear.

Posted in Hands Tagged , , |

Maple Syrup @ Williams Farm

The sap is running at Williams Farm in Wyebridge, ON. March offers a sweet spot (so to speak) when the temperature rises above freezing during the day and dips below freezing at night. If the timing works, then the sap flows each day without pouring out all at once and overwhelming the operation. I went up to Williams Farm last week while John was scrambling to get everything in place. I went up again yesterday to watch as another syrup season gears up. I tried to take photos of each stage in the process, though I didn’t get to witness the bottling (or selling) this year.

Sap lines running from tree to tree in the sugar bush.

Sap lines running from tree to tree in the sugar bush.

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Posted in Heart Tagged , , , , , |

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Some images from Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade here in Toronto. I didn’t mean to take these photos. It’s just that I had to go through the parade to get home and happened to have a camera in my pocket. Incidentally, the parade taught me a valuable lesson. In an attempt to get interesting angles and points of view, I set my camera on the pavement for some low shots. I forgot that the marching bands are all dressed in kilts. If I’d been shooting in Dublin, maybe they would have beat me up. But the Irish in Canada have learned Canuck politeness and only swore at me. Next time, I’ll try to be less pervy.

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Posted in Heart Tagged , , , , |

Ice On Yellow Creek

There’s been a lot of fuss in the news about how cold it is in southern Ontario this winter. It’s so cold, in fact, that portions of Niagara Falls have frozen. Surely, if the Niagara River is freezing at the Falls, a piddly little creek in Toronto would freeze solid. Seems logical. So why do many of the creeks in Toronto’s ravines continue to flow? Does the Public Works Department add anti-freeze somewhere upstream?

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Why do they call it Yellow Creek? It doesn’t look yellow at all.

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Posted in Heart Tagged , , |

Good Samaritan

I saw this guy sweeping broken glass from a smashed up bus shelter at the corner of Jarvis & Carlton. Although the scene was surrounded by yellow tape that said “Police Line – Do Not Cross” and although he had clearly crossed it to do his sweeping, I didn’t question him on what strikes me as a minor technicality. Who am I to judge? He said he was doing it for his dog. He didn’t want the glass to cut his dog’s paws when he took the dog out for a walk. It turns out that broken glass is quite heavy, as you can see from his box that broke when he tried to lift it.

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Posted in Heart Tagged |

Under The Glen St. Bridge in Winter

In August, I posted photos from under the Glen St. Bridge which passes over Toronto’s Beltline Trail and Yellow Creek. But it’s worth posting new photos of the same locale. What with all the trees losing their leaves, and the lower angle of incidence for morning light, and snowfall acting as a natural reflector, things look very different at the opposite end of the year.

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Posted in Heart Tagged , , , , |

Shooting Children

No I’m not advocating violence against young people. And, to be honest, I usually don’t shoot children with a camera, either. But every now and again, a scene cries out to my camera and says: shoot me, shoot me. Like this one of the little girl who just had to stick her foot in a hole. You can see the mother’s hand reaching out. You can almost hear her telling the girl to keep up.

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And then there’s this one, which I place firmly in my WTF category. The child’s cute enough, but all the interest lies with the person passing on the sidewalk. What’s he got strapped to his leg? I followed him for a while, to see if I could figure it out, but gave up. I haven’t got a friggin clue. It looks like a fuzzy strip of cloth tied with a pink ribbon.

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Posted in Heart Tagged |

Canadian Drinking Fountains

In the middle of winter, public drinking fountains are pretty much useless.

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Forget about a drink of water in Nathan Phillips Square.

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The Brickworks drinking fountain is dry … or at least chilly.

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Drinking fountain in Barbara Hall Park.

Posted in Elbow Tagged , |