Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Photography - Capturing Animal and Bird Images

Frame, check focus and click. That's it. Take another image at a different angle, repeat. Before digital, photo bracketing helped ensure the photographer had several different light levels and poses. Taking several images of the subject will give you better photos if you change position or lighting in each. There are some things to be aware of while photographing--background, positioning of the subject, and point of view or angle of the camera. Here are some examples.

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Scrape

This stallion's portrait was taken for the owner of the horse. He was in the process of training Scrape, since the young horse had a knack of getting himself into scrapes. . .  He's relaxed in this photo, because he's at home in his own corral, that's part of the fencing you see in the background. The natural setting keeps the image uncluttered.


'Scrape', Willie's horse, by DG Hudson


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Waterfowl

Viewpoint can present an entirely different look, so try an overhead shot of the subjects. In this case, ducks indigenous to the Lower Mainland are feeding. Feather patterns and coloring become prominent. Centering the ducks is a great way to frame a motley group. Click quick as these subjects are very mobile.




Ducks by Neens; printed by permission 2014, DGH



Ducks are sociable, especially when food is being shared. These mallards and females stop long enough to pose. Framing this shot close to the action (duck-level) gives an immediacy to the viewer. The effusive color of the heads, bills and feet brightens the image. For professional use, you may want to crop out the human element, highlighting the main subject.


Mallards and Friends, by Neens; printed by permission 2014. DGH


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In the photo shown below, the bird has been framed slightly off-center so the Sandhill Crane is prominent and the mallard is in the background. This photo is landscape oriented; use the portrait orientation if the subject is tall. Be quick when photographing nature. Try not to disturb them if they are feeding.  

I accidentally created a fantastic 'ducks in flight shot' by opening an automatic umbrella at our local lake, also a city bird sanctuary. A beautiful-to-humans, heart-stopping-to-ducks flutter arose at that end of the lake. I felt guilty scaring the ducks as the umbrella opened with a Whoosh! I felt even worse that I was holding the umbrella instead of my camera.

The images of waterfowl in the last three photos were taken by photographer Neens at a bird sanctuary in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, B.C. Information follows.




Sandhill Crane, by Neens; printed by permission 2014, DGH



George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, is a protected area in Delta, British Columbia, Canada. This is a suburb of Vancouver and part of the estuary of the Fraser River. It is also a Site of Hemispheric Importance as designated by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. (Wiki)

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Do you visit bird sanctuary or animal preserves? Are there any in the area where you live? Do you look for nature shots on your runs/walks? Have you had your vacation time?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.

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References:

Photo credit: Waterfowl photos printed by permission of Neens, the owner of these images.
 
Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_C._Reifel_Migratory_Bird_Sanctuary 

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Monday, June 23, 2014

VANCOUVER - Grouse Mountain and Carved Animals


Look North in Vancouver to see the nearby mountain lights hanging in the evening sky. Grouse Mountain is one set of lights in North Vancouver, located on the other side of the inlet.

Grouse Mountain

Exceeding 4000 ft. (1200 meters) in altitude at its peak, Grouse Mountain offers alpine skiing in the winter and hiking trails and other activities in summer and autumn. A breathtaking view awaits you. An occasional high-flyer is deposited via helicopter on the top of Grouse. Four chairlifts and 26 runs are approximately half an hour away from the city of Vancouver. The Grouse Grind is a popular trail for fitness enthusiasts, which runs directly up the fall line paralleling the gondola towers. Be sure to come prepared.



Grouse Mountain Tram, Vancouver's North Shore, by DG Hudson

Grouse Mountain had its first lodge built by hand by Scandinavians in the 1920s with wood they carted up themselves. In 1976, a second aerial tramway was built by 'Garaventa', which became known as the Super Skyride. This is now the main tramway, using much larger gondola cars and depositing passengers at a separate terminal. The main lodge is only accessible by tram, hiking trail or helicopter from the parking lot midway up the mountain.


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Chainsaw Wood Carving
Grouse Mountain
Lining the pathways between various activities



Wood carving of Bear with Salmon, Grouse Mtn., by DG Hudson


A picturesque location, Grouse Mountain has been used in several productions:

- 1994 The X-Files episode of 'Ascension'.  Actor Duchovny dangled from a gondola in one scene. 
- The ski lodge and facilities were used in filming the cartoon, Mr. Magoo.
- Nelly Furtado, singer-songwriter, filmed the video for Spirit Indestructible at Grouse Mountain.



Regal Eagle with Fish, Grouse Mtn, North Vancouver by DG Hudson


Always check the website to plan your visit to Grouse Mountain.


Carved Bear, Grouse Mountain, N. Vancouver, by DG Hudson


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Have you seen or visited Grouse Mountain? Do you like aerial views or are they vertigo-inducing?
Do you remember the story of Paul Bunyan, a giant lumberjack in American folk tales? (Before chainsaws) OR Have you heard of 'Monty Python' lumberjacks?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for stopping by. I'll respond!

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References

A Monty Python skit of The Lumberjack song: Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zey8567bcg&feature=kp 

Wiki of the song
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lumberjack_Song 

Wiki for Grouse Mountain
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grouse_Mountain 

The website
https://www.grousemountain.com/ 

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Friday, June 13, 2014

PARIS - The Man Who Walked through Walls

The Passer-Through-Walls Or, the Wall-Passer
(Fr.=Le Passe-muraille)



The Wall-Passer Statue, story character, Montmartre, by DG Hudson


Caught in an element he heretofore could pass through, Dutilleul, is forever left to ponder his mistake. It all started when. . .


The Man Who Walked through Walls or The Walker-through-Walls, (various translations) is a short story published by Marcel Aymé in 1943. It inspired a few film adaptations as well.

The character, Dutilleul lived in Montmartre and had just turned 43, when he discovered a strange talent - the ability to pass effortlessly through walls. He asks a doctor about it, and receives pills guaranteed to fix the problem. They are never taken and are soon forgotten, as Dutilleul instead goes to Egypt where he meets and falls in love with a married woman. Cherchez la femme**? He comes and goes as he pleases when the woman's husband is away. He becomes complacent in his ability.

On the fateful occasion, he took a pill for his headache, the wrong pill. The medicine the doctor had given him suddenly took effect as he was passing through the outer wall. Dutilleul was trapped in the wall, where he remains to this day.

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
This is a summarized version. check wiki link under references for the complete story.

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The Wall-Passer, Place Marcel Aymé, Montmartre, DG Hudson


The location of The Wall-Passer or Le Passe-muraille is at Rue Norvins/Place Marcel Aymé. We heard the story from our tour guide, an young American (ex-pat?) from St. Louis who now lived in Paris, because guess what - 'Cherchez la femme'. He had met a  French girl and decided to stay.

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Have you heard the story of the Wall-Passer? Would you like this ability? Wouldn't it be great to have one of your characters made into a public commemorative statue? AND, What do you think of the use of the phrase, 'cherchez la femme' ?



**Interesting Definition

'Cherchez la femme' is a French phrase which literally means 'look for the woman'. This is used as an excuse for why a man acts out of character or in an otherwise strange manner. He is usually trying to hide an affair, trying to impress or gain favor with a woman. This expression comes from the 1854 novel and was used in the 1864 theatrical adaptation of The Mohicans of Paris, by Alexander Dumas. The phrase is repeated several times to emphasize the point.

'Cherchez la femme' has become a cliché of detective pulp fiction. It becomes easy to name this as the root cause of whatever problem or situation the male protagonist has at any given moment.
Note: This cliché appears a lot in literature and in real life.

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References:

http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2011/12/paris-walks.html 
Paris stories - original mention of The Wall-Passer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_passer-through-walls Wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherchez_la_femme Definition of this phrase

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

French Historical Interiors - Art Moulding at Versailles

To have beauty in art and design where one cannot fully see it is a pity. The purpose was to impress in a setting of luxury. The following images are all from Versailles.



Ceiling Detail at Versailles, France, by DG Hudson


Plaster used for moldings is formed by mixing dry powder with water to form a paste. It can then be worked and shaped with metal tools and sandpaper to a specific shape. Plaster can refer to gypsum plaster (plaster of Paris), lime plaster, or cement plaster.



Ceiling Detail Closeup at Versailles, France, by DG Hudson


A large gypsum deposit in Montmartre in Paris led gypsum plaster to be commonly known as 'plaster of Paris'. Many great murals in Europe, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling are painted in fresco, or the paint is applied to a thin layer of wet plaster. The pigments then merge with the plaster layer to form a very durable surface.

 The Louvre Museum also has extensive mouldings since it too was a palace.







These two images above and below show the intricate detail that can be carved or molded to fit the shape or size required. Plaster can be worked easier than stone or wood, and is lighter. Seeing the detail in the construction of such a grand palace helps us understand why the French treasury was drained in part by this project.



Versailles Ceiling Art and Mouldings, by DG Hudson


Click to see more Ceiling Art at Versailles

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Are you interested in information about historical places? Do you get curious about how things are done? Have you visited Versailles? Any other castles or churches you have visited with interesting architecture and ceilings?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.


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References

Basic Plaster Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaster

A post on Ceiling art at Versailles and the Louvre Museum
http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/04/v-versailles-palace-to-z-challenge.html

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

PARIS - Eiffel Tower Illusion



In Late September, it's strolling weather in Paris.


The Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero, Paris, by DG Hudson



The Eiffel Tower stands across from the Trocadero, two worthy guardians of the intersection. On the left is the lower end of the Trocadero fountains. Straight ahead, the traffic appears to go beneath the tower, but the roadway diverts. Foreshortening of the distance through the camera lens provides the illusion.

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Up close, you can see the detail in the ironwork of the supporting legs. That traffic light is at the intersection where the traffic diverts.




Detail of Eiffel Tower, Paris, by DG Hudson



The Iron Lady's mood can change with the weather, turning from a warm bronze color to cold gray metal matching the clouds.




Eiffel Tower Ironwork detail, by DG Hudson



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La Tour Eiffel appears to change when viewed from different angles and distance. Standing underneath, you feel sheltered. At a distance, it appears solid and balanced. Up close, you see more design elements.


Eiffel Tower and Pont D'Iena, Paris, by DG Hudson

 
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Have you photographed images like this where an illusion is created? Were you aware of it at the time you snapped the photograph? Did you enjoy seeing more outtakes of the Eiffel Tower?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.
 
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiffel_Tower  Details about the construction  of the Eiffel Tower

http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/04/t-trocadero-paris-to-z-challenge.html The Trocadero post from the 2012 A to Z challenge.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Environmental Colors - Tankers vs. Whales

The protection of the North Pacific Humpback Whale has been downgraded. This was a government decision which seems to relate to Northern Gateway's oil distribution project.

These whales have recovered, so we are told, enough that we can risk them and our British Columbia coastal waters, for loading and transporting oil from Alberta onto tankers bound for foreign ports. How can they fix an oil spill in a space so vast? Look at the Valdez oil spill. . . or the Gulf of Mexico. . .



Humpback Whale, property of Nat'l Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin, US,  WC-PD*


A 'concern' means it will be watched due to possible hazards, such as collisions with shipping traffic, but the species is not considered enough of a 'concern' to protect its habitat. By changing the rating for the whale to a lesser degree, the requirement to protect that species' environment is no longer in effect. Loopholes.

Humpback whales like to breach and slap the water with their tale. These immense creatures can be seen in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South America, and the United States. The whales measure 39 to 52 feet (12-16 meters). A moratorium in 1966 (Wiki) was introduced as their population had fallen by 90%. So, now that whale numbers are looking better, we invite more shipping traffic. Does that make sense?

The Vancouver Sun newspaper article contains more information and the details of the federal 'review' panel. One example in the newspaper cited that Burnaby Mountain oil pipeline traffic would increase from 8 to 28 tankers or ships per month if approved.

What does that mean for marine parks on the Inlet? That much extra shipping traffic will affect any wildlife along the way. . .these parks line the Inlet. Herons and seals are seen in this inlet. The herons are fishing. What will happen to their food supply in such a small waterway?

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How Safe is the BC Coast? What do the experts say?

The oil companies say IF, and the environmentalists say WHEN a spill or leak happens. How confident are you that any oil company can FIX it?


This decision to downgrade the watch on a species that has previously been threatened, was made over the objections of concerned groups, environmentalists and scientists.


In the photo below, you see a few seals in our harbor, inquisitively looking up, another species which will be threatened by any negative change to our coastal waters. This photo was taken as we passed by on a ferry. If shipping traffic increases, will we still see sights like this?


Vancouver Harbour Seals, by DG Hudson


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Have you ever been whale watching? Have you cruised the coastal waters on either coast to see sea lions, seals or other wildlife?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for stopping by. I'll respond.PS -  I saw my first whale in Victoria, BC. I've been Zodiak whale-watching with Tofino BC guides, on a choppy day. . .

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References:

This post inspired by an article in the newspaper. Bravo, Peter O'Neil.

Ottawa downgrades whale protection

Tanker traffic from pipeline project poses major threat to North Pacific humpback whale, critics say

Reference: Peter O'Neil, author
Front page article Tues Apr 22/14; Breaking News, Vancouver Sun

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Image of the *Humpback Whale, Public Domain

This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Penelopiad by M. Atwood, A Review

What would you do if your husband took a wrong turn on his way home, lost his ship, got tripped up by goddesses, and along the way fought a few battles. . .?



The Penelopiad Cover, by Margaret Atwood 



The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus * is well-known, but how did the lady feel about it? Waiting all that time. . .was she true, or did she have lovers? Rumors were rampant. And those twelve maids, were they helping their mistress, or undermining her authority? It's a matter of viewpoint.


In The Penelopiad. . .we hear the other side

As the years stretched out and Odysseus didn't return, Penelope tired of keeping the suitors fed, entertained and out of trouble. Caught in her falsehood about the shawl that she weaves and pulls apart, she must set a date and a requirement for the husband to replace Odysseus. (see * below)

If you remember the mythology or epic poetry from some time in your past, you may remember how Penelope resolved the matter. In Atwood's version, we are treated to Penelope's skewed reasoning and patient acceptance of the crosses she must bear (Odysseus' roaming adventures and her cousin, Helen of Troy). 

Ideas and themes discussed include the double standard between the sexes and classes, the fairness of justice, and competitively antagonistic female relationships. Using the viewpoint of Penelope, this story takes on a different angle, less ominous. One that rings truer to life. The truth of any subject is determined by your perspective.

The Penelopiad has been translated into 28 languages around the globe. Some critics think the writing of this book typical of Atwood, while others found some aspects disagreeable, e.g., the chorus of maids near the end of the book. I tend to agree with those in the second group. I recommend it, if you like mythology.

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* The Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer, centers on the Greek hero, Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten year Trojan War. It is assumed he has died, and therefore his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with an unruly group of suitors who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage.

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Have you read this book or any book by Margaret Atwood? Do you like books that spoof fairy tales and myth?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by!

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References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Penelopiad - Wiki on The Penelopiad

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey Homer's Odyssey

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