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May 31, 2012

Saskatoon Forestry Farm and Zoo 2012 - 1

This year has had a very nice start to the zoo trips. The hills are becoming a bit less challenging the more I visit, the plants are filling in and blooming and the zoo residents are growing in number.

We had to wait our turn a bit yesterday as buses of wild animals were set loose in the zoo. Their keepers had a very minimal hold on their reigns, if any. :)

This calf was one week old yesterday. Sorry for the blur due to fences. Just can't get close enough by wheelchair to shoot through the holes in the fences.

Some fine families of the cutest week old babies. How that little big horned sheep got up there at only eight days old, I'll never know.

A few days ago the Zoo Society reported on twitter that twin pygmy goats were born but as the mother was not very interested in them they were being kept under quarantine to be safe. Paprika's kid, pictured below, was doing just fine.

I normally keep to myself and think hard before I speak or write. Today I am choosing to write about something I almost spoke about yesterday.

As a friend and I made the round we regularly crossed paths with a mother with her young daughter. Their full sugar Sprite was disappearing fast from each of their bottles in the mid-morning hours. No, it wasn't water. i heard the hiss when they opened them. Whatever. Who am I to judge your choices for your child's nourishment and hydration?

We observed other impolite behaviours by both while among other zoo patrons who gave head shakes or dirty looks as these two carried on. It was when the mother encouraged the child to chase the peacock so she could pet it that I felt irritated to the point of wanting to speak up. They must have tried for five minutes to catch that poor bird.

The last thing I observed was the mother repeatedly throwing grain and shouting at the above pygmy goat to try to wake it up. I was ready to leave for the day so kept my trap shut.

It wasn't just the ignorant behaviour. Our poor zoo is crumbing in places. It needs some funding quite badly. The last thing it needs are fewer patrons because or other ignorant visitors or a lawsuit because a peacock harmed a child who was encouraged to torment it.

My apologies for the rant. Did it help anyone? Probably not. I just do not want one of my favourite, accessible, peaceful places any less inviting.

Tomorrow will be something far more beautiful than these words.

May 28, 2012

Hot Racks Cinnamon Buns

Last week when I was on a shooting rampage I was quite looking for food to shoot. It feels like it has been too long since I have made myself or anyone else hungry with my photographs.

Seeing as how we were short on sweets in the house we headed a few blocks over to Hot Racks Bakery and picked up some of their reliably scrumptious cinnamon buns. Responsibly, we only purchased two even though their buy three get one free deal was sitting right before us. Part of me would love to make far more frequent stops there but carbohydrates are one of my weaknesses and when they are as delicious as the products you'll find at that bakery it would be even easier to let indulgence get out of control.

The next product we really want to try is their beet dill bread. It is a regular item on their menu on Thursdays and typically we don't cooking elaborate meals with which a nice loaf of bread would go except on Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays. I will have to plan to buy some, photograph it, sample it and then freeze it for the next time we make a nice batch of soup.

If you are so inclined I would really appreciate a comment about which of the two photos you like best.

Have a delicious week.

May 24, 2012

Beef and Onion Stuffed Biscuits on a Rainy Day

I was in a cooking mood the other day. Seemed like a good day to be making something tasty to take the chill out of the damp air.

They weren't spectacular but the leftovers dunked well in out roasted red pepper and root vegetable soup we made for supper last night. I always like it when Angie's clients come in and comment on how good it smells in here when I have something aromatic on the go like that soup was.

It sure is nice to be able to cook interestingly.

May 23, 2012

One of Our Yard's Nicer Features

It has been a few years since we landscaped our yard. Since then it has had its ups and downs. Mostly downs. Dead cedars, dead rose bushes, unremarkable double flowering plum, moth infested kohlrabi, mediocre tomatoes (except that one excellent crop of cherry tomatoes). Yes, the silvermounds grew like weeds along with the snapdragons and other beautiful annuals.

But one dead clematis was followed by a second one that thrived then suddenly rotted. We cut it back and it began to grow beautifully again, then rotted. The stick not yet removed by the workmen is all that remains.

This year it will be a vine of hops or Virginia Creeper or something very invasive to grow mightily beside our slowly recovering Linden tree.

One thing that has not let us down is our Thunderchild crab apple tree.

This year was exceptional. We made sure to get out and shoot them before three days of wind and rain claimed the nicest ones. I say we because without Angie's help and breaking the wind with a reflector there would be no in focus shots as the gusts brought in the moisture of the next few days.

It is a shame how briefly beautiful spring blooms such as these last. But I suppose that without them, and their getting out of the way, the fruit will not have time to grow, ripen and be ready for the next season of photos.

We both hope that the yard continues to grow in beauty and fullness. I'm anticipating a new variety of vine and some lilies this year. Always happy with Angie's choice of annuals and the opportunity to continue using this excellent new macro lens that is carrying its weight very well.

May 20, 2012

Oh, Right!

A solar eclipse. Better do something with that!

Still want my portrait with a bolt of lightning behind me. But this was much easier to time, if rarer.

May 17, 2012

It's All in the Details

A short while back I completed the website for friends of ours who own and run Baraka Care Homes Ltd here in Saskatoon. Nothing fancy about the site, just the necessary information. The last wrinkle was to get Google, the host of the site, to detect it and put it in their own directory. Ironic, we know. Hopefully by linking to the site here in this post it will boost it to the top position when searched for. It began around sixth or seventh and within a few days was second. Only a care home aggregator is higher.

The frustrating part of the build was that they wanted their addresses kept off the site to minimize the number of drop-in visitors but every other site they were listed on had their address. Far beyond our control. Just to clarify, people are welcome to learn about the homes if they are considering it for themselves or their parents. But Dwayne and Karen are not always at either of the two homes and dropping in when the staff may be busy is not ideal. Not to mention, those residences are people's homes and they don't necessarily want strangers dropping in and disrupting their very important routine. A little notice ahead of time goes a long way.

Above is a test photo from the purchase made with the gift given for the website build. A Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR Micro Nikkor. A peacock left us this present yesterday down by the pond at the zoo. Not my best photo, but for now I'm testing the lens' performance. Much more interesting photos will come.

One more using a six second long shutter length and painting the light in precisely where I wanted it. Just one little flash from the side to rim the feather and give it some dimension.

Much like sparkling snow, it was difficult to capture the beautiful colour and shimmer of this little feather. I did get a bit more out of the second photo by rotating the light across the front during the six second exposure.

From the twenty photos I made with this I know I will be happy with it. In nearly pitch black the autofocus locked on easily. That's the Nikon AF system for you. :) The closest distance it can focus is superb (these feather photos are much further away than the closest it can go) and will reopen the door to water drop photos and much improved food and flower photos.

It is so nice to buy a piece of equipment and not worry if it is a lemon. Of course some are defective. It happens. But maybe one out of one hundred. Not three out of the five like from my old system purchases. Sorry, Pentax, you let me down. I'm a Nikonian.

May 15, 2012

Work in Progress

It has been a while since I have had anything to say. Not that things have not been going on, just that nothing is terribly noteworthy at the moment. I have been working on a few things but cannot share them just yet. I will give you a glimpse of the largest photo in the form of a behind the scenes video below. Of course, as with any studio photo, the final product looks vastly different than what you see when looking at the set up.

The time lapse video was made during the Ebenezer Baptist Church arts team first day of working together. I would not have minded having a better angle on the room that was less focused entirely on me but I did not know when I set up the time lapse where everybody would be positioning themselves throughout the room. It was a very good day and amazing to watch those talented painters create their art.

Here is a sneak peek of the final product.

We were gone to Swift Current this past weekend to visit my parents, help sort out garage sale stuff and go Gopher hunting. Dad and I were the ones who went Gopher hunting and we had a good time hanging out in the fields together, shooting a couple gophers and destroying a coffee can. It's been too long since I enjoyed that sport. It was a good weekend was great food, excellent time together as a family and some good discussions. It really flew by and felt like we could be used another day or two.

Last week's rain certainly has things growing and I am getting itchy to go out and photograph the color. Hopefully Wednesday will be a good day for that. As much as I have said in the past that gear does not make a photographer, it certainly can help. As I have completed a number of the tasks on my to do list, I believe now is the time to reward myself with that next purchase. Now that those tasks are completed I will feel like this macro lens that I ordered on Friday will not distract me from more pressing jobs.

The new barbecue has been proving itself as I cooked for nine last Wednesday and for four of us last night with a grill full of baked potatoes and souvlaki pork tenderloin. I'm really enjoying cooking for more people and hosting more gatherings. I hope to make a regular thing this summer and that the propane tank needs to be filled a couple extra times this year.

I hope to have something more interesting than just a few words and a very mundane time lapse video in the next little while. My favorite time of year is upon us and I will be spending more time shooting in the next little while.

Happy spring, everyone!

May 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Imogen!

We had the opportunity of meeting Jason and Jenn's new daughter, Imogen, this week. It was a quick meeting between my appointments on a busy day so I look forward to the opportunity to make much better photos than just one ceiling and one wall bounced flash in the future.

What a perfect little girl! Congratulations, Jason & Jenn!