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Friday, 24 August 2012

Fireworks in Whitby in August - A 1 Time Chance Shot

Of course, I had my camera on jpg setting instead of RAW, from the last usage for something specific, and therefore was not really able to do much to clean up this shot. However, having it is better than nothing. When I got home that night, after taking some shots at the local marina day fireworks show on the August 1st holiday weekend in Whitby, I was shocked to see what I had captured all in one shot.

It was Harbour Day at the Whitby marina on the Saturday of the August long weekend. We didn't feel up to venturing down to the marina in the heat and crowds during the day like we had sort of tossed around the weeks preceding harbour day, but we decided last minute to walk down to the beginning of the harbour and see the fireworks. I half assed planned to try taking some shots, by hand though, with my camera. Last time I shot fireworks was probably 14 or so years back and I used a tripod, was using a Nikon FE at the time, set the dial at B and used a remote shutter cord for the shutter control. Not into that this time so whatever I chance shot for fun was good enough.

A storm started to whip up before the fireworks started. There was distant lightening and thunder and the winds were getting stronger, whipping across the water over us. The geese were panicking and flying by in little groups. There was fork and curtain lightening. They did start the fireworks and I grabbed some shots, hoping to get lightening shots too. I did a lot of shots one after another. When we got home and viewed the photos on the computer, my jaw dropped to see the one photo which was pretty amazing timing. Forked lightening, fireworks and geese flying across the lit up sky lol! Too bad it was shot in jpg as not much could be done to correct the quality much but it is still cool none the less and one of my most fun and memorable lucky captures.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Began Latest Acrylic Portrait Again

Unfortunately, what has seemed to happen to me the last few years is that I have had to scrap portraits due to the issue of my surface becoming too built up with paint to continue working on. This has yet again occurred :-( Whether it is light, choice of reference quality, changed eyesight, regression, or who knows, I have no idea. Instead of giving up, I decided to completely change my surface choice from stretched canvas as well as drop using the medium as a vehicle for acrylics and go back to water being the main vehicle.

I bought an Ampersand panel which is pre-prepared, 11"x14" and toned it in a medium warm stain of acrylic which I then wipe off slightly. I then drew the head and shoulders only this time, using charcoal pencil, which took a couple hours. My likeness seemed not quite 100% but I was pretty sure that my shapes and distances were fine so I dove into painting. I know a lot of the subtle shapes, contours and highlight/shadow shapes cannot be drawn in line easily but painting will mould them correctly.

I got fairly far in 2 sessions, about 2-3 hours long. I'm loving this surface so far! It turns out that a tiny bit of the medium has actually been a benefit with this surface, allowing me to drag and dry brush lighter tones over darker tones real well. But I am limiting use of it to only when it is specifically needed.

I have quite a ways to go yet but the tattoo on the neck will be the next thing I begin to tackle on this.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Second Marsh - Fourth Visit

One of our favourite places to go to for long walks is Second Marsh in Oshawa. It is difficult to see most of the marsh now due to very tall cat tails and marsh edge grasses and growth but we are still pretty much guaranteed to see something cool each visit. Our second hike there delivered a coyote sighting as well as wood ducks. There are tons of great blue herons, little herons, hawks,cormorants, some swans, osprey, swallows, terns, and many other wildlife to spot.

On 2 occasions, John spotted humming birds but I could not see them. On this particular visit, I got to see them as well as blue-grey gnat catchers. I got a couple not too bad photos of both these tiny and speedy birds. There were also loads of dragon flies and monarchs, many of which were flying and mating at the same time lol! I failed to be able to focus my lens on this feat.

Last time we were there, we got ourselves cut by the rice cutgrass that was near the very water's edge of the marsh so though it was tempting, we stayed away from venturing down any of the little paths that lead to the marsh edge. However, in spots, we could see sections of the marsh. In one spot, there was what appeared to be a young cormorant just sitting on a piece of a fallen tree, craning his neck around spotting things. He was also there in the very same spot an hour or so later as we passed that spot on our way back. Something seemed not quite right and I wondered if something was wrong with him.

One of the coolest sightings this time around, was 2 adult mocking birds flying back and forth, and then 2 fledgling mocking birds. I did get a shot of one of the babies. This, as well as the what we think were probably baby turtle prints in the sand at the shores of Lake Ontario, made up a few of the neat and unique sightings of this particular visit.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Fishing Osprey and Tern

This past week, my daughter came with us on a short walk at Lynde Shores. There were chipmunks to feed and we saw black and white warblers as well as rabbits and blue jays. Some blue jays were molting and some looked to be done. We also spotted a turkey vulture trying not to give up its find though was timid of people coming close. We headed to the dock that leads out into the marsh. It is a bit skanky at this time of year and the water is very low. Seagulls were a plenty, as usual, and we also spotted a tern fishing as well as an Osprey circling just above us, probably hunting too. A cool sight!

Lynde Shores is cool to take little kids especially to, but can be a little more populated with visitors compared to some places we go. The chipmunks are abundant there and lots of jays and other birds that will come pretty close so it's a cool place to take kids and guarantee they'll see something or experience chickadees landing on their hands to take seeds and chippies accepting peanuts from their hand.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Bald Headed Blue Jays

Something I've never seen before - hideous looking skeletal headed Blue Jays in their molting stage. This is a creepy and humourous sight lately as it seems to be molting season for them all over the place. There were a few at Halls Rd. and quite a few at Lynde Shores.

We did a recent Sunday walk, mid day, from Halls Rd. down along the shoreline and into the back of Cranberry Marsh, up to the lookout over the Marsh. The frogs were yet again a prevalent sight, as were the cormorants and snowy egrets and great blue herons. We also had the lucky chance to see a merlin perched above us on a branch. We thought it was a Kestrel at first but soon learned from a bird watching community that it was a Merlin.

An exciting and very unexpected surprise encounter that day occurred with a mom and 2 baby deer. As we walked back up the path that comes from the shoreline back into the main path at Halls Rd., there is an apple tree at the cross path spot. I had almost reached the tree when a large doe suddenly leaped out from the edge of the path into the gravel path about 5 ft from me. She stared for a second then disappeared into the edge on the other side. We could not believe seeing her at that time of day and also with the amount of people who had been coming and going in that well known area. Usually we have to go early in the am to see the deer. Most likely, they were eating the apples off the tree, many of which littered the ground. I realized she'd have to cross over the other branch of the path on the right, up ahead, so I readied my camera and as I reached that path, I saw her appear from the bush, along with a fawn, then a second fawn. They were fast so I got a couple shots but they moved so fast I failed to get a clear image of the 1 fawn. It was amazing to get to see them so close and to hear their hooves on the gravel as they jumped away. There were people up ahead, sitting on the wooden overlook to the marsh, and they were totally oblivious to the fact that the deer were right behind them.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Prehistoric Like - Great Blue Herons and Cormorants

This year, on walks, we have seen a lot more Great Blue Herons than last year. Last year, you'd just step near the marsh and you'd see the tail end of one taking off in fear. Needless to say, last year I never got a great shot of one at all. It has been a whole different story this year. From the time we tried to follow the paths into the great blue heron colony area at Minesing Wetlands near Collingwood with no luck, here, we've seen literally tons of them. Cranberry Marsh, we've come upon the lookout area only to be met with at least 50 herons spread out all over the marsh. On top of this, there are often 5 to 7 snowy egrets hanging in their own little area, as well as the odd small heron. We have seen night herons and small blue herons as well. Not to mention the american bittern which I spoke about in the previous post. There also has been belted kingfishers hunting over the marsh.

I often find myself remarking how prehistoric the Great Blue Heron and the many Cormorants we run across are; both their squawks and their appearance in flight. The GBH sounds to me what I'd imagine a pterodactyl would sound like. They seem both, very ancient creatures.

We've done a couple long hikes lately, at Cranberry Marsh and at Second Marsh and every time we venture out on one of these hikes, something neat or different is sighted. Never a dull moment. Bird activity can be freaky, especially if there are tons of dragon flies to be had, or wax wings seem to take on the behaviour of red wings and swoop over the marsh, grabbing a hold onto reeds and cattails momentarily, birds mating or fighting, king birds flying and landing repeatedly in the same tree tops, terns fighting over prey one in the group is holding on to for dear life, and lots more. We even saw a great blue heron suddenly take flight and land in a nearby tree, probably due to the canoe that rounded the reeds in the marsh and scared the crap out of it.There is also the never ending sightings of bunnies of all sizes along the usual routes we take. This then leads us to not being surprised by the coyote skat we see off and on in these same areas. The frogs have also appeared by the dozens recently and they are so beautiful to hear and cute to see in the marsh.

Every evening or morning we do a 3+ hour hike, we think "ok we've had our fill for a couple days" but then find ourselves wanting to get out and do it all again.

- egrets and little heron were a bit too far for my  lens

- you can see a few dragon flies in this shot