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Jun 19, 2014

Spring at Innovation Place

I was going to do my absolute best to get some shots of the spring fruit tree blooms this year. In the past it seemed like it was either rain, wind or other commitments that made me miss this beautiful time of year and perfect photo opportunities. It was the very next day that we had wind gusts up to 70 km an hour, combined with some rain, that made what you see here almost completely fallen to the ground or damaged to the point of withering.

  Photograph Innovation Place in Bloom by Jay Scott on 500px

The photo above scored me a lot of love on 500px. Like Angie said, even the skilled and discerning photographers that post, share and peruse work on the website appreciate a nice scenery photo. You won't see that much appreciation of a good food photo which took a lot more time to prepare, stylize, light and execute. These I just showed up at the right time of year, found a nice framing and made a few images.

Below you see the Saskatchewan Research Council and one of my favorite places to hang out with a coffee. The grounds are beautiful, the planters (not put out yet) are always full of the nicest succulents and there's always a nice fragrance in the air. The fountain provides the steady soothing sound of flowing water and there is plenty of sun or shade, whichever you prefer. This time, the group in the photo was enjoying the shade under the vibrant pink blossoms.

To the right, out of frame, is a nice patio with raised planters that are always full of some of the nicest flowers that bloom all summer long. You can find the photos I made over there in past years right here, here and here.

  Photograph Innovation Place - Saskatchewan Research Council - HDR by Jay Scott on 500px

I really wished I had more time to stay longer and keep shooting but I had another appointment to get to for the promotion of Challenging Reality. It was interesting to see newly injured individuals, remember some of the things I went through and to see firsthand which technologies I've shared were of most interest to them. It was very good to see their interest and to be affirmed that my work there is appreciative and helpful. The writing splint that I use was available to them but they were incorrectly instructed on how to fit it on their hands by their occupational therapists. I just don't see how it can be used any other way than it is supposed to be. That's why when I made a photo that I did not include my hand. The description I gave probably isn't even necessary. But, I helped accelerate the ability of two men to resume handwriting. Combine that with the photos you've seen here and it was a good day.

Jun 16, 2014

Zoo 2014 - 5

I will be cramming in as many visits to the zoo as I am able to before our baby arrives. I have no doubt that will be one of our favorite spots to visit, relax and get out of the house even this year. Or, at least I hope so. So many uncertain questions of how things will change in the near future and in the long-term. It's all good, though.

I tried to be appreciative of the seasons but I'm still convinced that I would be quite happy being able to barbecue all year-round. I think the same could be said for flowers. So many of them have their brief lives and time in the shine only to be done for another year but thankfully replaced by other types that come into their prime shortly after. Still, I'd love to see all of them all spring, summer and early fall.

You might recognize this next photo. It's one tree over and one hour earlier in the morning than the one I made a few years ago. Amazing what three flashes and the little postprocessing can do to make quite a different photo. This one was just a snapshot.

As I said before, I love flowers but the blooms of trees are just so much more conveniently positioned for me to photograph from my wheelchair. I seldom have the right angle to get what I'm looking for from my chair and the hope of getting the focus exactly where I wanted simply by resting the camera on my feet is slim. As you will see in my next post from a visit to Innovation Place the day before this visit the trees were quite cooperative for me. In fact, I was able to make my third-highest rated photo on 500px. It's already over there if you want to go take a look but I will be posting in a few days.

Apparently it was time to move on as I had an angry crow hovering over my head. Where's that 12 gauge when you need it?

Jun 14, 2014

My Gratitude

In the past it seems as though big things happen all at once. Yesterday was another one of those days.

A few weeks ago, while scouting for some exercise locations, I received a phone call from the Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Paraplegic Association asking me if I would be interested in being the recipient of their annual merit award for significant contributions to the CPA and the disabled community. I was a bit overwhelmed but, after a brief hesitation, I said, "yes!"

After understanding what was just said to me I asked why I was selected. I was told that it was because of my work on Challenging Reality and because of the special Help-Portrait event at the CPA office we organized at the end of November, 2013. That answer made sense to me but sparked dozens of thoughts and multiple additional questions I decided to keep to myself at the time.

I'm well aware of my ever-fickle fear of success. It is the unknown. What might it do to change a person? How might it affect expectations of me to continue to contribute, grow and improve in what I do? Might the attention be more than I want, especially considering how much of a introverted person I am?

The more I thought about it the more I realized that, regardless of the times when I like it or dislike it, the attention would be necessary if I hoped to make something of my efforts. What good are efforts and quality bodies of work if they do not reach the appropriate people to be enjoyed by the viewers, of any help to those they are intended to help, or to maintain the momentum to continue on with new material which completes the cycle and makes the work self-sustaining?

Even before I began writing my words of appreciation, to be spoken when I received the award, I knew that I could not fail to mention everyone involved. I did not put on the CPA Help-Portrait event independently. It was a great combined effort of many willing hands that made it possible for us to serve as many people as we did that day. To create portraits of that many people independently would have taken me numerous sessions and weeks of processing the resulting photos. All that we did in one day was thanks to the team effort. I made certain to mention this in my acceptance remarks. And, I'm saying it now. Thank you, Help-Portrait Saskatoon team! Your work, experience, equipment and time are appreciated and essential to successful events.

If I had to guess I would say that my dear wife, Angie, has assisted me in some way with two thirds of my Challenging Reality photos. It may be helping me to stylize something, carry something to where I can more easily make a photo of it or extensively helping me to set up and take down, whatever the subject might be. Many of those photos I could make independently given adequate time. Some of those would not be possible without her help. I needed to acknowledge that as well as express my appreciation for the numerous times she has been my model and test subject. I was also pleased to acknowledge the contributions of my friends. Paul has been the largest contributor in helping me to name it, being my model for multiple photos, providing fair feedback which includes critique when needed, and suggestions for material. Heather has given me feedback and ideas and I have multiple ideas from Delynne. All of those are on my list of subjects to shoot and as time permits they will be photographed and archived.

The brief description of Challenging Reality, and the work it consists of, was also included in the annual report that is distributed to every member of the CPA. That coverage will help to sustain the project with new contributions, new readers and new ideas for subject material. However, that was not the only publication I saw my face in yesterday.

After discussing my work with my contacts at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago they had me write an article for them to be in their newsletter. It was difficult to reduce what I wanted to say down to three paragraphs because whose story can be summed up that briefly? However, I felt like their revisions to squeeze it into the allotted space was beautifully worded and I am very appreciative of the coverage and the support from them. I do not know how many hundreds of thousands of people receive their newsletter but I have noticed a significant increase of traffic on Challenging Reality. I don't deny the pressure I feel to make certain my posts are both well photographed and as well written as ever. Again, what good is that work without people to benefit from it? Perhaps the pressure is most added because my face is now visible and I am by far most accustomed to being the one making the photos, not being in them.

One final thought. In anticipation of having my photo made, of me receiving the merit award, for the CPA publications I found myself planning some polite and helpful tips for the person to make our photo. You see, I've been receiving their publications for 16 years now and the vast majority involve photos of people in wheelchairs made by someone at a full standing height. That is, looking down on the people in the wheelchairs. I know that they do not mean any harm by this but I also know that their mandate includes equality. A good starting point is by giving viewers of their photos and equal eye level to the camera. Likely it would be subconscious but by removing that angle of view of looking down on someone you are removing the viewer's tendency to feel above the photo of who they are looking at. My suggestions were welcomed and I hope that the photo I see in the next publication will be improved from some I have seen in the past. Now, if we could just get people to turn off that on camera flash…

Jun 12, 2014

Dock Walk

In an effort to make the most of our short summer, and get out before the long stretch of forecasted rain arrives, I headed down to the river this morning behind the Mendel art gallery. It was a very comfortable morning and the sights and sounds, minus the construction sounds from the Kinsman Park, were very soothing.
Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the full picture.
I thought we had seen the last of the fruit trees blooming, especially after the wicked wind we had last week that blew away any but the heartiest blooms. Then, on my way back up the river bank I spotted this vibrant tree. I must have missed this while focusing on slowing my descent so I didn't go for a swim.

A few of the winter berries that did not get picked off by the birds. I find it so interesting that it wasn't until a few years ago that I realized, thanks to our tomato plants, that the ugly dried-up parts of the bottom of the berry were what once was the blossom which grew into the berry. We probably learned that in elementary school, but the things a person does not think about on a daily basis are sometimes the simplest.

One more shot from the top. One of the things that frustrates me the most on the days like this when my intention is to get some exercise is that the pain I feel is not in my muscles. Most the time it is the seams in my gloves, where the thumb is sewn to the main body, that digs in to my toneless webbing between my thumb and index finger. After a number of hard pushes up a steep hill it feels like someone is jamming a hot fork in there. The dust and grime on my gloves and push rims prevent me from moving forward using a different group of muscles because there is a greater risk of my hands slipping off, losing my forward momentum and even hurting myself.

Not the strength training I was hoping for on a nice day like this. However, I did take the time to stop in at Museo before I left. Enjoy a top-notch coffee, have a look at the photos on my camera, read a few articles and then head home.

The rainy forecast has eased from what they were originally calling for so maybe it will miss us all together.

Jun 7, 2014

Abstract Shooting

  Photograph Abstract Long Exposure 2 by Jay Scott on 500px

Love it or hate it, here is my first attempt at something a little more abstract. Taking a page from David duChemin, I tried my hand at some intentionally out of focus, long exposure, shots to see what I could make out of them. Hard to believe that the photo above was made in the exact same spot, at the same time of year, as the one below. The top one was nothing more than a camera, lens and experimentation while the one below this was a combination of multiple light stands, flashes, radio triggers, much experience and meticulous tweaking to get it looking exactly as I wanted.

  Photograph Forestry Farm Thunderchild Crab Apple - 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

The photo below this was made no more than 10 meters away from the first photo, just chosen because of the delicate spring shade of green nearby and the hint of pink that entered the frame near the end from a similar, deeper coloured, tree.

  Photograph Abstract Long Exposure 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

I know that the comment section is pretty quiet in this space, but I know you are out there reading. I'd love to know what you think of this abstract style. It's just my first attempt, but it wasn't unenjoyable. We will see where my experimentation goes.

Jun 6, 2014

Zoo 2014 - 4

This is the final post from this trip to the zoo. I had another since then, but will add to that in a few weeks after we get to the lovely spring blossoms on the fruit trees are in Saskatoon. Those will be in my next post in a few days.

First, we start with a nice action series of a duck taking off. I love this time of year when the waterfowl is so active and you get a lot of good action shots of them taking off and landing, as you might've seen in my last post with some landings and saber rattling.

I don't know what it is, but the kids always seem most interested in the farm animals. I suppose it's no different than when I encountered a rabbit in my last visit. I looked over and saw an animal not in a cage and wasn't sure what I was seeing. Then, they proceeded to hop no more than 4 feet away from me. I suppose the cages take away the fascination even more than a young child watching their mother feed a simple chicken.

I'm always cautious when photographing people and their children. There are a lot of people who are opposed to having their photo taken, and I understand and respect that. However, these people were really friendly and more concerned that they were blocking my way than anything. I whispered back but they were not and asked if I could take a picture. Of course, they said yes. The caged animals will be there for a long time. It's the unique moments like this that I love to sit and enjoy, especially with our own little one on their way. Maybe I'll be feeding the chickens to the enjoyment of our child in a year or less.

It was getting pretty hot and just as I was leaving the zoo I spotted a peacock hiding under the bushes, getting some shade. It was a very nice and peaceful way to end that visit to the zoo. Both arriving and leaving I was just a few feet away from a nice peacock.

Jun 5, 2014

Zoo 2014 - 3

Continuing from my previous post, here are some more of the photos from the same trip to the zoo.

This peacock had much nicer plumage than the one from my previous post, but was not as cooperative as the first one. Still, stood still long enough for one nice portrait.

I have been surprised at how nonaggressive the geese have been this year. Most years you get within 30 feet of them and they're hissing like a snake about to attack. This year, even with the gaggle of 15 goslings, they were particularly calm. Maybe it's because there were far fewer noisy children chasing and disrupting their children. Still, cute and fluffy as they get.

Finally, is the date that draws near while the tummy grows larger. Look at the spurt on those last few photos! You can click on the image to enlarge it and get a better side to side scroll view of Angie's progress.

The next post will wrap up this visit to the zoo and the post following that will look at the amazing, beautiful blooming for trees Saskatoon was blessed with this year. There are going to be a lot of crabapples and berries covering the ground this fall.

Jun 4, 2014

Zoo 2014 - 2

It has been very good to be able to get back up to the zoo again in nothing more than a T-shirt or two. There really isn't a whole lot to say about these photos so sit back and enjoy! I will add commentary where necessary.

This Peacock is not headless, just grooming itself under its wing. I certainly had the pleasure of being very close to it for a long period of time. Those calls it lets out sure are startling, though.

This little guy was born less than a week ago and was just the cutest little thing galloping across the field to get to its mother. Of course, I missed that shot because I think I may have spooked him and caused him to run across as I approached. That's why I didn't have my camera up and ready.

There will be more to come in a few days from this trip and, as of the writing of this, I've had two more excellent photo walks with results to post. They will be coming in the next little while as time to work on them and write posts comes.