Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Joyous Spring!

This year my pear tree was laden with blooms - almost more than I remember from other years. After a longer and colder winter, the signs of spring are especiailly welcome.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Last weekend I went on a field trip to Chalk Ridge Falls Nature Area below the dam at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Right near the parking area we saw two wrens - a canyon wren and a rock wren. I wanted to go back with my big Sigma lens and see if I could get photos.

We went this morning. At first I was disappointed - no wrens in sight. But I meandered the path below the dam, rewarded by a sighting of a kestrel and a phoebe as well as watching the vultures (both turkey and black) begin their morning soaring, riding the thermals around the dam. As I was heading back to the car, I saw movement at the top of the boulders along the dam slope. Yes, it was the rock wren. But so much farther away than on Saturday. I dutifully took my photos, knowing quite well that I would have a little wren in a big picture. It would still be a good memory, even if not publishable quality.

I came on back to the car, and stopped to study the area where the water was spilling out. It was on these rocks that we had seen the canyon wren the day before. I was about to give up, when I saw movement again. Yes . . . it was the canyon wren, but really far away - a very small bird in a big frame. And there was a swallow as well, a rough winged swallow, I think.

I came home and took a look to see if I had anything and began to play with two of the images. Now one of the phrases of common wisdom in photography: "garbage in-garbage out" which means it is really difficult if not impossble to create a high quality image in photoshop when the original is not good. And, I agree with that statement which is one of the reasons I work really hard when I am working with the camera to capture the best image possible. But sometimes, that is not always possible. These two little birds were a long way away and not willing today to come down and play with me. I'm hoping to go back more than once with the big lens and hope that I get lucky enough that I have the chance to capture them up close and personal with publishable images. But I wanted to have images to share with the group that went birding last week.

I started with the rock wren. I picked the frame that looked the best and did the standard conversion from RAW. Then I used Genuine Fractals to enlarge the image, knowing I was going to be cropping a lot and would need all the details I could keep. Then I chose my crop, knowing that even with the crop, I would not be able to fill the frame and have a decent image. Then I went to Topaz Sharpen which can do a really nice job in bringing out details that are trying to hide in the pixels. I had to use enough Topaz that this really becomes "digital art" rather than straight photography.

I went in with the canyon wren and did things a little differently. I upsized in Camera Raw. I left him smaller in the final crop because there just wasn't enough detail to make him look good larger. Once again some creative work in photoshop left me a a image that if nothing else will be a great memory shot for me of one of the few canyon wrens I've ever seen.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Crab Pots

One of the main industries and certainly the oldest industry in Labrador is fishing.

I wanted to see what I could do artistically with these crab pots that we were seeing so frequently.

I was hoping to capture both texture and abstract ideas.

The colors are subtle, including the rusty frame.

And I was also trying to find views that would work as marine still lifes.

For many reasons, the fishermen in Labrador and Newfoundland face difficult challenges - declining catches, over fishing, fishing from foreign nations, and recession caused slower demand. I suspect that being a fisherman has always been a physically demanding profession, but for many reasons, I hope that the small fishermen in this area can find a way to continue this traditional way of life.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


We had noticed a number of cars parked along the road in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. There were usually no people in sight. We wondered about it, but couldn't think of a good explanation. As we were enjoying our picnic lunch, we saw a lady coming back to her car carrying a plastic container and wearing high topped water proof boots. It was bakeapple season! And she was gracious enough even in a year that was not a good crop of bakeapples to give us a sample. She warned us that they were better with sugar. As we travelled through Labrador and Newfoundland, I took every opportunity to try bakeapples - bakeapple sunday, bakeapple cobbler, and bakeapple jam.

Bakeapples are orange berries in the bramble family (raspberries, blackberries) that grow in bogs, coastal marshes, and moors in far northern climates. In Scandinavia they are known as cloudberries. They grow in the Nordic countries, a few places in the moors of Britain and Ireland, Canada, Alaska, northern Minnesota, New Hampshire, Main and even a few on Long Island, New York. They don't propagate well, so if you don't live near an area where they grow wild, you are not likely to run across them. They require both male and female plants to create the berries from the blooms.

One source said they only produce one berry per plant which would certainly make them harder to get outside their growing areas.

We found them to be mild in flavor, slightly tart. We enjoyed them wild and fresh, but we also enjoyed the ice cream sauces, the jellies, and the baked products.

The Dark Tickle Company carries bakeapple jam that can be ordered and shipped. $15.00 is the minimum shipping charge for up to $25.00 worth of jam.

I brought home some small jars of jelly and jam for some of my friends, but I put them in a "safe" place. I can hardly wait till they come out of hiding so I can pass them around.

Monday, March 01, 2010

South from Cartwright

While there was a long string of cars leaving the ferry at the beginning of the road south from Cartwright, everyone travelled at their own rate. We were not in a big hurry, so before long we had the road to ourselves. I loved the local greeting!

This fish trap reminded me of one's we had seen on our Alaska trip.

This stretch of road is dotted with small fishing villages to visit. I was amazed at the ingenuity and use of local materials. Note the wooden platform boat ramp. We did not see much concrete up here.

I was fascinate by the nets hanging out to dry.

We were on the Islands and Coves loop. We saw these wooden sleds everywhere. So much of the land is "crown" land. People are allowed to cut wood on crown land and they leave the piles of wood, properly labeled, near where it is cut. Then in the winter, they make runs with these sleds to bring wood back home.

The small fishing villages are just so photogenic! I love the beautiful white frame houses and the small communities.

This is Fox Harbor Labrador.

We were thrilled to see an iceberg in the bay.