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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!!!

It's been a year full of exciting experiences as well as soul crushing experiences as well. Began in 2012, with an extreme family issue that continued throughout 2013, having devastating effects that may very well be permanent and may never be resolved. Just when we thought it cannot possibly get worse, we learned never to say that, because it can and it did :-(  Many have said to me, "you gotta write a book" however, no, that won't solve anything, would take the rest of my days, I don't really have the talent to make it great, and on top of it all could actually continue the destructive affects that the catalyst person had on my siblings Dad and I our whole lives and the destruction they left us and do more harm than good to anyone. Time will tell if people and circumstances will heal. Sadly, I suspect no but have to learn to live with that. Life is very short really.

My camera breaking was not a fun event either. It took away the ability to do something I enjoy - taking photos. I do use my boyfriend's but I miss my zoom lens.

Never have I been a superstitious person but I am glad to see a year with 13 in it gone.

Exciting events included moving to what will be a permanent till the end of life home. It isn't as gorgeous and enjoyable an area as where we lived near the lake and conservation areas in Whitby but we like it very much. Without my camera, I don't have the drive as much to visit those areas anyway as that was half the enjoyment. There are many areas near where we live that are gorgeous to visit, such as Rosetta McClain Gardens and the Bluffs. We will hopefully get to them more as time goes on. I plan to visit the bluffs, though really I was not a huge fan of them when I lived in Scarborough in the early 90s, being scared of the area really, but I want to search for fossils in the rocks in the spring and get some images of those with John's camera. We are also closer to The Leslie Spit which we love going to.

My kids come by often and they like our place. We also enjoy using the pool, hot tub and exercise room. We have yet to bring and watch a movie on the theatre movie screen that is available but we are planning to do that soon! Our place is easy for me to get to work and we no longer have to drive to the grocery store or any mall to shop. We are able to walk! So awesome.

There is so much to be thankful for in life and though huge and little challenges, some that must be accepted as impassable, some we are able control, will always present themselves, life can be exciting and beautiful if we work to make it so. So many have less tools than any one of us are equipped with.

Here is to 2014 - wow, 2014, it seems like 1980 was just a few years ago.

Saturday, 28 December 2013


My boyfriend's daughter brought some cookies she had made, from a vintage recipe she found on a blog. They were absolutely to Die For! She added to the recipe: substitute lime juice and zest add about 1/2 tsp Appleton Estate rum to frosting

The Blog

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Beautiful Destruction

Little did I imagine just how ominous John's statement would be Saturday night when we were in the Loblaw's parking lot at 10pm awestruck over the beauty of the sparkling backlit ice covered trees. Here I am admiring the chandelier look of the tree branches laden with ice and he mentions that if there is too much ice on them the weight will break the branches of a lot of trees. Me? I was all gung ho about going out the next day to get some real photos as opposed to the crappy cell phone images we got while out shopping. I was so worried it'd all be gone. Wow, little did we know :-(

It is like a war zone out there. Silly as we see it now, safe in our condo viewing the images, I was bent on going to Rosetta McClean Gardens to take some shots of ice laden dead flowers, trees, pine trees, berry bushes and such. Getting out to Ellesmere we run into the first of a series of non working street lights. A few more lights and I am now thinking "we are morons, this is stupid". As I entered the older more home areas along Midland we realized the magnitude of the destruction that surrounded us. Really, overlooking a major mall out our condo windows, we really had no idea :-( My jaw hung open as we passed literally hundreds and hundreds of downed huge tree branches, power lines swinging in big arched curves and wrapped around huge piles of fallen tree branches, huge limbs across the right lane and countless spots of chaos. Tree branches hung down almost to the roof of any cars passing below in the right hand lane closest to the curb. Stupidly, the occasional car zoomed through a major intersection, not caring about the "treat it as a 4 way stop" law. The only smash up we saw was some BMW sedan in a small intersection on Brimley, and these intersections were actually a Relief compared to the major intersections.

We made it to Rosetta. It was unbelievable. Tree branches were everywhere. We did not go very far into the park. The crackle of the high swaying branches was scary enough but at least 5 times a huge thunder crack could be heard and within viewing range, down came huge branches from these old trees. Sadness is what I felt seeing some of these magnificent trees being felled by the ice which had built up on their branches.

Juxtaposed with all this destruction we couldn't help but say "isn't that Gorgeous" pretty much every few minutes. Little gems of jewelled stems, leaves, berries, pine branches, grasses, etc. were everywhere to be seen. We had to crunch our boots down hard in the surface to make sure we could walk ok. We also were scared and thrilled at the same time because any time we had no choice but to cross under a large tree with ice laden branches, we realized really, how silly we probably were and how chancy this was. We did not venture near the huge trees deeper into the park and we stayed mainly around the entrance fence and in open areas.

Though this was probably not one of the wisest photography choices I've made, I somehow am glad I saw this, was out in it, because I would never have realized the impact of this what seemed like a nothing storm, never have actually seen the destruction that some people had to endure to their homes, cars, beautiful trees, churches, businesses, and everywhere one turned. It truly was unbelievable.

These photos and the beauty in them belie the true awfulness that we saw in order to be able to take them.

Friday, 20 December 2013

An Early New Years Resolution :-)

I seriously have been debating Not going back to painting. Since 2008, it honestly, if I am boldly honest with myself, has Not been working. Whether it is eyesight changes, bad working space issues, light issues, focusing problems - whatever, no idea, but it just is Not working. I painted better at 17 years old lol! It began with a personal portrait I was doing that was working so well it was like it was painting itself. Someone stood in front of the window I worked from the light of to measure it, and instead of getting up and waiting, I stubbornly continued. Big mistake, huge, to quote that movie lol! because I messed it up beyond repair. I had to toss the painting :-( I began 2x more and nada, nope, no way was it going to ever work again. I was using the portrait for a portrait painting in acrylic thread on an art forum too and had to embarrassingly cancel it mid way :-( The next 2 portraits I took on as commissions did not go well either. Something was wrong though I ignored it. I kept on trying, wasting money, materials and precious time - shit I don't have a lot of. So, ok, fine, I will drop it. And do I want to start trying abstract? No, doesn't come natural to me and frankly, not appealing a venture though I see abstracts I drool over sometimes. However, I can still draw and draw well! Boring as it is really lol! But, I was looking at something recently and I realized that there is a medium I may get excited over again. Yes, it's wimpy and wishy washy, low on punch with great dark darks, but it is enticing none the less. Silverpoint. Do I know anything about it? Nope. Am I going to dive in head first? Of course :-) Who lives twice around here? Not me! lol! Granted, my partner has some materials I can begin with (no, the medium still exists lol! it's not a 16th century dead medium or anything). So, in the new year, I will begin, probably with my old fav - a portrait. Maybe of my partner, maybe my daughter, not sure, but someone whom I am familiar with well. Silverpoint appeals for the very fact that I Love Silver, I love tarnishing and it is not a forgiving medium - hence it will be a challenge and maybe a struggle but I want to try it :-)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Waiting For Spring - May Redstart

Just a cute little shot from May 2013, not long before summer, of a Red-start at Thickson Woods. Miss you spring and summer.

Thrilled to Learn Something in Photoshop Elements!

This morning, wanted to go back to a photo I opened a couple days ago but hadn't time to work with till the weekend. I wanted to sharpen the bird and details such as the fish, but have the water less sharp and recede into the background so shallow the depth of field slightly.

In a few steps, my boyfriend walked me through me how to use the quick select tool, create a mask of the bird and water below, then select that shape and reverse the selection, add a gradient mask which will recede the sharpened details back to the original blurred background below but in a nice progressive stage. To make it more natural, a Gaussian blur goes on the whole black and white mask then :-) That's the short of it and I Like the result, it is what I wanted!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Itchin' to Paint

Unfortunately, Not painting painting, wall painting. Our place was light whittish pinky when we got it but to paint it all right away would have been very taxing on my partner, as he'd just done it for someone else recently, so I figured "we can definitely live with it" for a year. However, I bought one camel colour for the spare room and I may tackle it myself on some days off I have. If I painted a bathroom at 7 months pregnant I think I can definitley do it myself :-) I'm a lazy room painter, I won't fill holes and stuff, figuring I'm just putting the pictures and things back in the same spot anyway, buuuut I guess I'll do it right lol! Have my warm Mexican influenced colours pretty much decided on but they may change at the last minute. Never know :-)

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Owl

Have recently discovered that an owl is back in the old area where we lived, and visited the owls, last year. We hoped to go see it but may have to wait. Unfortunately, I am unable to get boots or even runners on, having injured my left foot in a silly manoeuvre at work. Since it is winter already, with actual snow on the ground, and ice, flip flops just won't cut it on conservation area paths. The TTC subways I can manage and the only worry is being able to find a place to stand where someone may not clomp on my foot in their big winter boots lol! Soon as my feet can go in shoes again, we hope to visit our old areas. Other reason that the desire is gone for hikes is that my camera cannot be replaced any time soon therefore no zoom lens :-( Kind of takes half the enjoyment out of it for me since I am a creative person and taking photos is a passion and outlet for my creative side lately, since realistic drawing and painting hasn't really been feasible right now. Good to see that the owls have returned! They must feel comfortable in the area. Previously, we were told that they only seem to show up every 2 years.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Industrial Chic Brick Shelf :-)

We collected a few old weathered bricks from the shores of Lake Ontario in Durham Region, before we moved. I had wanted to eventually use them in our new place as little wall shelves. I found some cool customized brackets on eBay that sort of contrast with the natural shapes of the worn bricks. We were originally thinking of putting a little rectangular piece of bevelled glass on top but seeing them up without glass, I am kind of liking them as is. I put my little crystal owl ornament on this one. I have 3 other ones to use around the condo once I decide where I want to put them.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Moving Day (s)

Spent the last weekend and up to Wed, moving. Tues was to be the only moving day, but it ended up being Wed as well. Thank God for the kindness of a friend who allowed me to use his truck the second day. We are in our new place now, just have a lot of stuff to sort through. However, I am not one to leave it long, I'll be getting through it all by Christmas if it kills me. Though we have not had a chance to go for any walks, we did see one bird fly by the window - a pigeon lol! No lack of exercise though. Carrying, lifting, moving stuff, packing and repacking and such, we are beat. My mistake was not booking the ay after the move off though in reality, there was not supposed to be any "moving" on Wed. I was dead on my fee Thurs, still am today, but went to work. The subway was a joy :-( lol! Ah, I'll get used to it. The Go was expensive but I guess you get what you pay for. Our move was not the nightmare it could have been, considering 2 days before our scheduled move, the owner of our old building puts a note on our door that the driveway around the apt building was to be paved. Well, too bad, we were ppulling our moving truck up still, and we did. We were done fast thanks to my son helping. The second day of our move was by far way way harder. However, we lucked out as it was spitting rain in the am. but stopped. Hopefully, in the next month or so, we'll get out to the bluffs and Rosetta Park again.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Couple of Kookie Bird Pics

Going through photos off and on the last couple of weeks, I've run into some that bring back cool memories or that deserve a "oh, I remember that day!"

There's so many but a couple are here:

American tree Sparrow eating from John's hand

Mallards flying funny - they look placed in - wings all aligned

Friday, 25 October 2013

John's Canon and a Panorama

Since my camera has been out of commission, I've been using John's Canon. I love the value transitions Canon gets, though John has a good lens on his, better than Nikon. Though I will stick to Nikon out of use familiarity and also lens compatibility with the ones I have already, one being an old old manual lens I love.

During walks though, I've been using his camera. I forget what model it is. It is about the same age as my 7+ yr old D70 though. We don't have a 70-300 for his Canon so I've been stuck using the 35-70mm lens again. So, no pics of birds lol! However, his lens has an aperture of 2.8 which I LOVE! I can do close up images of cool little textures and lower light shots than with my lens, which has only a 5.6 aperture ability as its widest open ability. This is closer to my manual Nikkor lens, which has an even wider aperture than that.

I shot a series of images of the sky over Lake Ontario, always haphazardly, hand held and just manually panning lol! John helped stitch them together in a panorama and remove a hint of tree branches on the very right of the picture plane which added nothing, and took away from the flow of the image's composition. I cannot use Content Aware Fill with PS Elements as it does not have it. I do that kind of thing manually in Elements but then it destroys the pixels somewhat and noise to match the rest of the noise in the image often needs to be added. Content Awareness Fill is an amazing amazing tool!

The colours here, the way the light seems to be opposite, dark and light transposed, almost creating a Rorschach like feel, are so appealing to me.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

To Process or Not to Process, That is the Question

As a painter, and I guess too as a photographer, I was not so much into over synthesizing my imagery. As many artists who know me have mentioned, I am a tertiary palette liker. I love earthy and natural tones, natural light, and don't buy many "man made" colours when I buy paint. I stuck mainly to natural colours, though of course, not just the 3 primaries.

These preferences stretched into everyday things as well. I do not like HD tv - the over crisp hard lined outliney, high contrast images, dark flat shadows, that seem to be the norm for television the last decade or so. I prefer more subtle value change, especially in figures and faces. Not to say though that I don't love dramatic light conditions.

Photography has always sort of been there, along with painting. I loved working from photographic reference for my paintings, logical since I loved painting portraits (who the hell has time to sit for someone all the time lol!) and also since my love was realistic rendering. Though I have drawn from life since age 16, and still do, and do it well, I prefer my finished pieces to be from worked out compositions and proper reference for subjects or objects, though I am not a slave to my reference material.

Photography has sort of actually taken a forefront seat as my artistic outlet the last 2 1/2 yrs. This was mainly due to limited space in which to work, possibly eyesight changes, and gawd knows what else, but my painting instincts and abilities seemed to just leave me. Hopefully they will return, but if they don't......I guess photography will have to do.

I have even begun to consider a photo a finished piece of artwork, and not just a tool for or stepping stone to a finished painting or drawing. I can't just treat a photo anymore as "who gives a crap as to what is in the background, I don't need to draw that in anyway" or "who cares what colour that is" etc., Or...I'd be doing a hell of a lot of work in Photoshop Elements to clean up my obliviousness to composition and distractions mistakes at the photo taking stage lol! I have to consider my composition at the time I shoot now, if I want something I can work with to create a composition that works in the end. And I know, myself and from others, I am a nitpicky visual artist lol! I like to tweak and finesse till my eye and emotions are satisfied lol! Even if in the end I am the only one who feels the whole image works lol!

Beginning to actually consider the advice a few have given me that I should offer my images for sale, I have come to realize, somewhat sadly, a fact. Natural images with soft transitions and not always sharp sharp detail, do not attract the eyes of many viewers, hence buyers. Viewers want highly saturated colour, high contrast, over abundant detail everywhere, etc. They love HD'd to death images. I don't. But, I will admit, having used a couple filters recently, I have been excited by my original image as well as the finished product I get after "processing". I still try to maintain something of the original that drew me to shoot the image in the first place, and some images lose their special thing when processing is added so those, I don't do too much to, possibly just clean up distracting little things in the subject matter, such as sticks sticking up, little weird shapes in the background, grungy spots on petals, etc. that take away from the subject. Other images, I have used a combo of filters and hand work, such as erasing back and forth with a brush on a layer mask or eraser, to maintain blurred backgrounds but keep a focused subject 3 dimensional and focal. Which means I do have to do a lot of manual labour, like a painter, on my image to get it where I want it, to where my eye and brain go "Yeah!" So, this means not just applying a filter and voila, a perfect photo no sweat.

Unfortunately, the images that have the most "pumping up" with processing seem to garner the most attention, votes, likes, comments, etc. sad but true :-( Some do end up as my favs but I must say, most of my true favs among my own photo work are often ones that are very close to exactly what I saw and shot.

My 500px

My Fine Art America site

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Broken Camera :-(

I guess I'll see when I can replace it. Got 7 years out of it and probably close to 40000 or more shutter clicks so considering myself pretty fortunate. Hope I can get a D600 in a few months. Update: Ixnee on the D600, D7100, I leanred from someone who knows, is better suited for what I want in a camera :-)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Black Throated Blue Warbler

Not so much into the birds lately, mainly due to time and also more so concentrating on taking and working with my nature and flower and texture images. It's so bad that I am used to taking pics of things that Don't move lol! and I've lost some of my lightening quick photographing skills (within the limits of my camera and lens' ability to focus fast of course). Therefore, I've missed a few 1 sec excellent opportunities when I've spotted a bird that I haven't seen or rarely seen.

However, I did get an ok shot of a new to me bird the other day. It is a Black Throated Blue Warbler, I am fairly sure. the site is unfortunately not working the way it used to so I have to rely on Google image searches which are not always reliable since people miss-tag birds and more.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Woolly Apple Aphids - a Continuation of the WTF?! Post

Today, the day my camera died, and our walk through the eastern most area of Second Marsh, just past the GM plant in Oshawa. However, before my camera gave up completely :-( it had two revivals. Luckily as we saw the most incredible and freakishly odd yet adorable creature we've ever seen.

As we walked through the path, we spotted what appeared to be these neon periwinkle blue lavender coloured little tiny flying creatures. They appeared to float lackadaisically through the air. I reached out my arm to catch one on my black sleeve and here I saw this tiny little fuzzy moth like flying insect. Little pieces of itself seemed to come off and stay on my sweat top cuff as it crawled a bit along the material. They appear to be almost dying. I tried getting one shot with my camera in between its death throes but they are difficult to photograph. This is probably due to their minuscule size as well as the fact that they get overblown easily because of their almost white value.

Here is the previous post I made about them, not realizing what this clump of fuzzy white stuff all over a tree branch was. Turns out it is a huge hoard of these aphids. Incredible! In my life I have never seen or heard about these insects. Though they are pests they are adorable and fascinating to see with the naked eye.

To add to the images in my previous post, this photo, which completely freaked me out as I opened it on my computer and upon closer inspection realized that the petals are not dead dried Pink Cone Flower petals, but are the flowers' petals covered in thousands of these aphids!

Here is another interesting article on these aphids, on Wordpress.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Weird Blue Jay Behaviour

As we stood at the observation deck at Halls Rd., John had been offering peanuts to the couple of blue jays that often will show up there and eat from your hand. The 2 there that day were too timid to take the nuts from your hand so he put them in the feeder that is there.

One jay flew down and grabbed a peanut and went up into the tree that sort of overhangs the corner of the deck and is right behind the feeder.

Then the oddest thing happened. It flew back down to a lower branch with the nut, then down to the feeder. It dropped the nut back into the feeder, had a look around and then picked the same nut back up again.

What in hell was it doing?! lol! Was it too small? Was he looking for a better one but at the same time didn't just abandon the one he had in case there were no more?! It was just Weird! lol!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Always Something Gorgeous Seen at Halls Rd.

John'll check the night before on Friday or Saturday to see if the next morning may be bringing fog. The forecast was fog, clearing by morning. Fog conditions are my favourite early morning scenes and photography opportunities, I love fog! We woke around 6ish and by 6:45 were up and ready to head out. It didn't look like spectacular fog and light conditions but we figured we'd like an early morning walk as we have not done one for a while.

There were still lots of cool sights. The light on the plants and wild flowers still left, like asters, the virginia creeper, and other plants and leaves. I'm not a real plant or flower person so I rarely know what any are. Here is a great link for identifying Ontario Wildflowers that has just about every one on it I personally have seen on most of our walks.

There were lots of birds to spot too, ones on their way south during fall migration. There were warblers, I believe a Northern Parula (sp) and Kinglets, Vireos, and we saw Swamp Sparrows, both what appeared to be adult and older fledglings or maybe females, not sure. The White Egrets we saw in the dozens last weekend were sparser but there, and we saw one fly by Mute Swan.

I even grabbed some shots just of the bokeh effects I was seeing through my lens, abstract art photography :-)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Quintessential 1970's Camping Photo

While searching for a photo for my daughter I'd assume for her grade 12 grad, I ran across what is probably one of my favourite photos from my childhood. My parent's 1970s VW camper, parked at my Grandparents' trailer site on Lake Erie ( hated that lake as a kid because it is so yucky lol!), my Mom on the right, my brother, then my aunt, my grandmother, my grandfather (who is standing in front of 11 year old me unfortunately) and my Dad's legs lol! Looking at this, it is then hard to believe my aunt was 29 here, not even 30. And gawd knows Why her and my grandmother are so dressed up for camping lol! Probably because she was only down for the day in my aunt's case. Not sure who took the photo, maybe my aunt's husband. Not sure where my sister was as she is missing from the pic too.

I love this photo. Though looking at it you'd never know any stories about these particular people, I guess like any photos of people.

Rosetta McLean Gardens in Scarborough

Haven't been to This park in over 20 years, not since I lived just east of there for about a year and a bit in my 20s. Last time I was there, there was a couple actually doing the deed under one of those pink blankets with the satin edging and in the middle of a sunny day with families and kids and such all walking around the grass area where they were lol! Didn't see anything like that this visit, maybe next time lol!

The reason we went there was a curiosity upon learning it is a very well known spot for raptor viewing. Kind of have lost interest in the bird thing lately but we went to see mainly since we'll be nearer there when we move, and for something different.

Since we won't be far from there in just over a month, we'll definitely go back in the spring if not in the winter!