Tuesday, 31 August 2010


The YD's very white dog decided to go swimming in the beaver pond.  Here are the ED's photos of  her glorious romp and of what she looked like when she came out.

 And here are my shots of the clean-up.

036/365  Clean Once More.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Rideau Canal - Photo Post

We are lucky to live within an easy drive to a good concrete boat launch on the Rideau Canal system: our main recreation in the summer (in guaranteed thunderstorm-free weather) is to trailer the boat to this launch, roll it into the water and play around on the lakes and canal pieces that form the Rideau system.

It is lots of fun to zoom up and down Big Rideau Lake checking out the osprey nests, concentrations of loons and fancy cottages.  It is equally fun to lock through from Upper Rideau Lake (which is the 'top' of the canal system) and lock down toward Kingston or go down the Rideau River to Smiths Falls and lock down toward Ottawa.  Last week we did the latter and I took a bunch of, I hope, explanatory photographs to use in this week's 365 Project. ( I am up to date for this week's prompt and am, therefore, just using these up.)

The lakes, rivers and canal sections that form the waterway are marked with navigational buoys - red and green pylons floating attached to anchors to indicate the navigable portions of the waterway.  In big open areas or where there is a split in marked chanels, you will find a red and green striped buoy, but the majority of them look like this.

or this.

Boats that draft more than 6 feet need to stay between the buoys - red to port (left) and green to starboard (right) going downpstream and the reverse going upstream.  On Big Rideau with depths of over 100' in spots, the markers are far apart: on the Rideau River, where the channel twists and turns, they are quite close together and going outside them could land you  .... on mud or rock.

From the river one enters a section of the canal between two markers and proceeds very slowly to the gates of the lock.  There is docking just outside and if you want to lock through you pull up to a blue painted strip of dock and wait for the gates to open and the lock master to tell you what to do.

Here is a boat coming into the lock.  We are already inside and I am taking this picture going upstream.
You can see the lockmaster on the left.  He will shortly crank the gates closed as shown in the photo below.

Next he and his assistants (usually bilingual university students: the lockmaster himself is most often a local with years of experience) will move to the downstream gates and by turning a crank, open the drains that let the water out of the lock.

As the water drops there will be turbulence and boats in the lock keep their stations by holding on to a type of stanchion along the sides.  The canal stanchions are wires run through rubber tubing so that they will not rub the boat sides.

When all of the water is out, the lock keepers will open the gates and direct the boats out.

The gates are opened by cranking the chains (see the two handles on the sides of the drum).  the horizontal timber is the guide to keep the gate straight as it opens.

Unpowered craft go through free and powered craft pay a sum calculated on the length of the vessel.  Parks Canada does not make money at this, in my best estimation.  We buy a lock pass that gives us a number of days of access, any number of locks in a day counting as one day's use.

This shot is from below the downstream gate of a lock being used to lock boats downstream  and you can see the water swirling out as the drains are opened.

This is a photo of water being added to a lock to raise the boats in it.  You can see why the boaters need to hang on to the stanchions.

After a day playing about in the locks, we headed home.  This is taken as we left the Rideau River and headed off into lower Rideau Lake.

The Rideau Canal system is over 175 years old and has a long and interesting history, if you are into such things.  You can find a lot of information here.  I have older posts about playing on the Rideau Canal system.  Here, covering the same part of the canal as above.  And here.  This one is not a photo essay, but a description of the Perils of boating with the YD.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Canal, Part One

JG and I spent Tuesday motoring up the Rideau River and Canal as far as Old Slys Locks.  It is my intent to do a post about how the locks work, sometime in the near future, but for now I give you green and dreamy riversides, fringed with reflections.

034/365  Leaving Slys Lock

035/365  Dreaming Toward Autumn

365 Project - Fringe


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

An Interesting Failure

We were out on the Rideau Canal today; I took, I think, 84 shots in total.  I got a couple of good ones, of which more later, but this one is amusing.  We were heading home up the Rideau River, about 4:pm, and going fairly fast.  I had the camera set on auto, no flash, and I had only one instant to get this shot.

Here is what I got.
Sigh.  Overexposed, horizon madly off and the extreme telephoto making the focus pretty shaky, given that I did not have time to let the camera identify a target.

I've played with the shot, because I love the V of ripples.  Here's my best edit.


The thoughts I still have about it are these: should I crop out the overexposed shoreline; should I play with the contrast; and, last but not least, should I just throw the dern thing out.

Thursday Evening

This is a cropped edit I received from Anvilcloud, who is one humdinger of a photo editor.  He advises darkening the white reflections, but even without that the improvement is great.  As he has revised it, I think it's a save.  Thanks, AC! 

Sunday, 22 August 2010

An Afternoon at the Park.

Little Stuff spent part of July with me while her parents were away, part of it with all of us at a cottage and a few days doing fun stuff with her parents.  In August her parents returned to work full time and her program was to be gymnastics three mornings a week and a local day care for the rest of the time.  But by the start of this last week, Little Stuff had had more than enough of the large, noisy and disorganized daycare where she had been spending her afternoons.  The friend she was counting on hanging around with was being cool to her, and while she was loving the gymnastics, the afternoons and especially the two full days at daycare were reducing her to tears.

The ED called me and asked if I could go in to the city for a couple of days and provide child care: she did not have to ask twice.  I picked up Little Stuff from her gym and took her back to her own house for lunch.  The last bite was not in her mouth when her chum from next door, who had been away visiting overseas for the whole summer, appeared at the door to the breakfast room.  There was a joyful reunion.  Little Friend is a year older than Little Stuff and a grade ahead of her at the same school, so they don’t spend too much time together at school, but they are the best of companions otherwise.  They asked if they could go to the park and feed the animals.  No problem there.  Little Friend went home to gather permission and provender, Little Stuff gathered up stale bread, peanuts and carrots, and we wandered off  to the park, which is a riverside park, very large and full of overfed animals and birds.

The girls chattered non-stop all the way to the park, most of it lost on me.  Little Friend speaks four languages but not one of them is English  - the two of them communicate in soft and idiomatic French and Little Stuff translates as needed.  Going to feed the birds and animals is a regular treat that they have both been doing since they were toddlers and they know just what to do.  In a very short time they were surrounded by pigeons 

027/365 and 028/365

and, aside from Little Friend having a finger mistaken for a peanut, a very good time was had by all, including grama who was photographing like a mad woman.

They played in the park the whole afternoon, checking in with me only to let me know if they were going some distance away.  They climbed trees and giggled and collected weeds and giggled and showed off their new dance and gymnastics to each other 


and giggled and ran and jumped and .... well, you get the idea.  It was probably the first unstructured afternoon either of them had spent for a long time.

Grama lured in the wildlife with some of the stale bread and took more photographs.  The wildlife gets fed a lot at that park.  
Check out the tummy on the second squirrel, the grey one.  
The river carried masses of ducks 
and gulls, all with one eye for a handout, the park itself is full of squirrels and along the river bank live groundhogs and other small mammals.  When I finally decided that we had to go back (Grand-mere a besoin du cafe!), they were both rosy and exhausted and when we got back to the house they were glad to collapse in front of the TV and watch the Blue Planet video until supper time.

I’ve just described what appears to be a rather boring afternoon in excruciating detail.  It wasn’t boring to me, however; I had a beautiful day, a camera (should have taken a flask of coffee, though) and a happy, relaxed grandkid enjoying some truly unstructured time.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to leave a record of who I am and how we related for Little Stuff.  She has just turned seven and if I died tomorrow she would remember me, I think, but probably only vaguely.  I was lucky to have one grandmother who lived until I was an adult with children of my own; of my other grandmother, who died when I was four, I have only scraps of memory and mementos.  I want Little Stuff to have much more than that available if, as an adult, she wants to know.  I wonder if she will remember this day, or the days at the cottage, as special, happy ones or if, like me, her memories of these very young years will be hazy at best.

If so, maybe this story and the photos will remind her.  I hope so.  It is always good to remember being loved.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The 365 Project - New Key Word.

Sue's prompt for this week is vintage Sue - Fair is foul or fowl is fare.  To take a look at the project as a whole, follow the link at the top of my sidebar to the right.

Since I spent a happy day in a park by the riverside photographing Little Stuff and Little Friend and some of their friends and activities, I do have only slightly skewed takes on this prompt.  And so, with no more ado, I give you fair is fowl.



Fed is fowl.


Monday, 16 August 2010

Along the Roadside

Maybe you have heard of purple loosestrife?  It was originally a garden flower but it escaped from captivity and did so well in the wild that a few years ago it threatened to choke native growth out of the damp boggy ground it prefers.  It was declared a noxious weed and people devoted their spare time to uprooting it.  Finally a bug was identified that would eat it and not cause even more harm to the environment, the bug was released and the infestation has been reduced.  There is still a lot around, however, especially in my Canadian shield environment where boggy ground and stream sides abound.

What the worriers missed, in my opinion, is that purple loosestrife is beautiful.  Even one clump packs a punch; and seen against a green or blue background, with other flowers for contrast, it makes spectacular scenery.  And so, to finish up the 'bold' keyword, here are three photos of a wetland near my home.




All of these were taken using autofocus - it was really windy this morning and the vegetation was doing a lot of bending and waving.

Sunday, 15 August 2010



Here's a boldly spotted little frog with amazing camouflage.  I chased him around the lawn yesterday, having only spotted him as he jumped frantically away from my foot.  And I had the devil of a time finding him, even though I knew exactly where he was.  In real life he's only about an inch long - the grass badly needed cutting.

I've been thinking about his protective colouring a bit to-day as I did the ironing (several week's worth) and listened to the rain pound down.  I believe a lot of camouflage can be quite dramatic and work well.  Think of the big dapples on a fawn's coat.  If you see one against a plain background, the pattern looks bold.  But if the fawn is curled up on the forest floor, you can almost step on it before you see it.

And so here's the introspective bit.  My public personality is uber-cheerful.  I talk a lot, even to strangers in elevators.  Most acquaintances like me.  But inside that protective coating lives a very private person who can be content with books and her own company.  Not unlike the frog, I guess.  Although I doubt frogs read a lot.

Friday, 13 August 2010


"Bold" is the prompt for this week's 365 project - if you aren't aware of it, look for the link at the top of the right column.

If you ask a graphics person to think about 'bold' you immediately get 'bold', fonts being the life blood of business cards, letterhead and half a dozen other things I do.

But if you ask a right-brained wordsmith, you also get:


And I haven't even got to colour and design yet.  LateR.

PS.  My first attempt had the 'u' between 'l' and 'd'.  Thanks to faithful reader Anvilcloud for finding the error.  Graphics people ought to be able to proofread, no?  Sigh.

Monday, 9 August 2010

After the Rain

I am not much of a Shelley fan, but this is just too apt.

I am the daughter of earth and water,
And the nursling of the sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.
From The Cloud.




The self-portrait was taken against a rainy window but I had to fiddle the contrast and intensity to get the reflection clear.  And, for the record, the camera is a Nikon D90 with an 18-200 Nikkor lens. Yeah, it weighs a lot.  But I'm kind of obsessive about it so it goes everywhere with me.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Associative Agony

This 365 project I am working on is giving me fits.  The word for this last week was 'scrub'.  As soon as the word hit my brain, the word 'brush' was permanently attached to it.  To the point that at one point I was taking photographs of hair brushes, having totally lost the real word.  Delightful.  Not only do I have earworms on a regular basis, I also can't keep a simple word from mutating.  'Why do you have a photo of the edge of a beaver pond?' ask the puzzled YD.  Echo answered.  I also 'photoshopped' that photo to increase the contrast and saturation.

That exercise lead me to start playing with some of my water photos ( I use Corel PhotoPaint10, btw, not Photoshop), with the results shown below.

009/365  -  this is a view of one of the bridges on the Columbia River, cropped and with the blue values enhanced.

010/365 - this is also a view of the Columbia River from the Washington State side, taken the same day, contrast enhanced.

011/365.  Now I am really playing.  Here is another of the sunset photos from Opinicon Lake, fiddled with a tool that Corel calls 'embossing', with the major colour value selected as the taupe. (Just found a double number.  This is old 10 in Sue's comment.)

012/365.  A more traditional YF in her canoe shot, this one tweaked to strengthen the greens in the reflection.  Corel has a feature called 'auto equalize' that I used for this.  I also cropped the photo from landscape (horizontal) to vertical.

013/365.  The same shot, embossed, but with the original colours intact.  Red canoes make wonderful photo subjects.

014/365.  Yet another YF (and dog) in canoe, this one reimaged with  a PhotoPaint10 tool that edits the image into a watercolour, with various values and brushstrokes that you can set.  I love this tool and use it a lot.  I've left the colour alone in this attempt.

Brush strokes, from scrubbrush, scrubbing being a technique you can use with watercolour.  Sigh.  It's a reach, and I know it.

015/365.  This time the YD and her faithful companion have had all the colour replaced by shades of grey, and the result equalized.  The fact that YD and dog were slightly out of focus, as I had a single focal point centred on the front of the canoe (don't do this a dusk; use multiple points or a bracket focus) is now disguised.

Thursday, 5 August 2010



Scrub - as in Scrubland.

Okay, this is an older photo.  But the internet has been down for two days.  Reason, not excuse.