Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shooting for the moon

It was all over Facebook and on every news station - a supermoon, a blood moon, a total eclipse of the moon all on one night - possibly the last one in my lifetime.  The moon for the past few nights had been tempting me outside with my camera - cool fall nights with clear skies or just a few wispy clouds make for interesting shots of the moon.  In fact, the night before the supermoon, I shot this image:

The night before the supermoon

Usually solar or lunar events seem to pass virtually unnoticed in our town, but not so the Night of the Supermoon.  The neighbour across the street was up on his roof setting up a tripod to take timelapse shots with which to create a composite picture, and his friends and family had gathered to watch the event through his telescope.  Most of the town, however, headed down to the seawalk, including yours truly.  I didn't take my tripod - some may remember that the last time I tried to shoot the moon with the camera on the tripod, it landed on the concrete and my favourite lens has never been the same since.  Which might account for why I didn't have much luck shooting for the supermoon.

My best photo of the night was actually taken while waiting for the moon to appear - as the sea and sky turned to shades of pinks and azure blue:

Waiting for moonrise over Osborne Bay

When the moon did appear, it was barely visible, despite a lack of city lights and a relatively cloudless, starry sky.  Visibility wasn't helped by the fact that it wasn't really dark out yet!

Can you see it? Can you? Can you?

So mostly we all just stood around on the seawalk and had an impromptu community party - sharing stories, greeting neighbours, chatting with people we'd never met.  Eventually, about the time that the eclipse should have been almost over according to the astrologers among us, the blood moon appeared - distant, small, and not quite bloody.  I tried to capture it, I really did.  But without the tripod, my attempts were shaky at best.

Not exactly a steady hand!

I thought I'd got it with this one, but when I uploaded it to the computer, I found I'd shot James and the Giant Peach instead:

James and the Giant Peach?

Eventually I figured out the right manual settings and got something less blurry, though I swear the harvest moons I photographed last year were much brighter and closer and bigger!

The not-so-super Supermoon

On the beach at the other end of the seawalk, some people let off Chinese flying lanterns, which flamed and flew high into the sky.  I tried to photograph them too, but all I got was wavy abstract colours and flying neon snakes:

In the end, I wrote it up to a fun night meeting old friends and new down by the beach, and then I had a little fun with the photos as well:

PS:  If you want to see some truly awesome photos of the supermoon, check out this link featuring some of the best shots of the supermoon by photographers far more talented and knowledgeable than I!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sorrow at the Sanctuary

For those not already following on Facebook, the new animal sanctuary near me is currently  grieving and on lockdown after the sudden deaths of eight potbellied pigs over the past 72 hours. There were no symptoms, no indicator anything was wrong - they were mostly found snuggled in their hay in their cosy shelters as if they were sleeping.

Sudden deaths like this could be caused by numerous factors, and believe me when I say that Lucie and those closest to her have considered absolutely everything  and have been over every square inch of the property.

The Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, the government agricultural lab for BC, is currently analyzing tissue samples from the first three, plus doing full autopsies of  two pigs who died in the early hours this morning and who I transported over there today. We hope to have some preliminary results soon, though the full report will take a week to ten days.

As the sanctuary must decline all donations of food until this is resolved, and has had the added horrendous cost of multiple emergency vet visits, autopsies, etc., any financial donation you can make would be most welcome. You'll find their donation link on their website here .   

Run free, Timothy, Zoe, Webster, Bella, Dolly, Guinness, Josie and Buster.  I wish we'd had more time to get to know each other.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Irrepressible Poms

Cosmo and Lexi

The poms, Cosmo and Lexi, stayed with me for a few days while their mom was travelling.  I took the opportunity to work on my skills photographing dogs, especially black and white dogs, colours I've always had trouble with.   I really wanted a photo of the two of them sitting nicely in front of my lovely red impatiens,  but who am I kidding?  One year old poms do NOT sit still.  In fact, getting any photos of them was a challenge, but with the help of the action setting and a little photofinishing magic, here's a few I hope their mom will like:

Cosmo and ball

Cosmo with flowers

Cosmo and flowers, take two thousand and three.

I'm coming Auntie Jean, I'm coming! 

Lexi and ball

Lexi and ball again!

Lexi and flowers

You can't catch me, Auntie Jean! 

And now, back to editing those two thousand Tofino shots, as well as fifty or sixty more RASTA ones.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Duck, Goose, Goose

Ha! I bet you thought I made a mistake and meant to call this 'Duck, Duck, Goose' like the game we played as kids.  Wrong!

It's 'Duck, Goose, Goose' because that's who lives at RASTA, the animal sanctuary where I volunteer. One duck and two gooses geese. Plus, of course, many pigs and a steer and two mini donkeys and a mini horse and two chickens and a rooster and a dog and a cat. But today's entry is about the Splash the Duck, and Sergio and Sarah, the geese.

We better get cleaned up -
we're about to make our blog debut!

Even though ducks and geese might be different species, these three are clearly all one family.  They waddle around the sanctuary together, often one following the other following the other, they eat together and they bathe together. And they are really quite fun to watch!

Don't forget to gargle -
mustn't have bad breath when we're interviewed!

For some reason, after having a drink (and gargling!) at the larger pool, they chose to head off to a smaller one to finish their ablutions:

Let's find a more intimate spa -
some real pigs have been using that one! 

Well, it could use some maintenance,
but at least it's clean.

Must get all these feathers straight!

Don't forget the armpits!

Splish splash I was takin' a bath......
Hey.....what's that?

Paparazzi!  Paparazzi taking pictures of me having a bath!

Well I never!
Is nothing private anymore?

See if I'll grant that reporter an interview!
Humans can be sooo inconsiderate!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Shutterbug's Syndrome

South Chesterman Beach, Tofino BC
I've just returned from a trip to Tofino, on the west side of Vancouver island.  My late sister's partner, Bev, and I rented a vacation home on Jensen's Bay for the week, just a two minute drive or ten minute walk from my favourite beach in that area.  We had a great time. But....

There are a few problems with taking a vacation when you are a blogger with a camera:
1.  You want to blog about it and post photos so your readers know you haven't dropped off the face of the earth, but don't want to advertise that you are not at home. So you have to wait until you return home. 
2.  When you go somewhere REALLY fun and different and full of photo-ops, you take a lot of photos. Like a couple of thousand photos.  Sometimes more than 500 photos in just a single day.  That's a lot of photos. 
3.  Taking that many photos is painful - holding the weight of the camera, thumb and index finger spread apart, click, click, clicking a mile a minute causes what I am now officially naming "Shutterbug's Syndrome" - a hand and forearm and shoulder so sore it is hard to lift a wine glass water bottle, let alone spend hours on a computer editing and sorting a couple of thousand photos. 

But in the interest of giving you something to look at over your morning coffee, here is a sampling of just a few of those two thousand photos.  

Rosie Bay / South Chesterman

A little guy having a blast learning to surf

Tadpoles' surfing lessons

Incinerator Beach surfer

Stay tuned for more to come (along with some RASTA animal sanctuary ones I took just before leaving on vacation and haven't yet posted!). 

Monday, August 31, 2015

No Horses, No Owls.....

Although the place where I was horse-sitting last week is only just over an hour north of here, and only ten minutes or so inland, the ecosystem  seemed quite different - drier air, hotter sun, cooler nights, trees taller and more sparsely branched,  with a feel to the air that reminds me of the Okanagan. Perhaps it was coincidence - our long hot dry summer is coming to a close, and even a small change in elevation can bring a marked change in the environment and temperature.

Bright fall colours
a week earlier than in Crofton

The property I stayed at is quite high up, offering distant views of mountains to the northeast and a feeling of incredible freedom in all directions - no dark ugly condos staring one in the face here!

Mountains in the distance,
not a condo in sight!

Some things are familiar - the deer are plentiful, just as they are here in Crofton, though I was surprised how many very young, still spotted, fawns I saw.  Here in Crofton, most have lost their spots already.  Perhaps the slightly different ecosystem and climate means ours are born a bit sooner.

Spotted fawn prances across the field

The rabbits are even more plentiful - on one evening's walk, I counted over 30 on a neighbour's lawn, in an area no bigger than my own small front yard.  They ranged from very teeny newborns to granddaddies twice the size of little Mitzi.  They are very skittish, and trying to get more than one in a frame was impossible - lift the camera, even from many yards away, and they skedaddled to the safety of the shrubs.

Run, rabbit, run, rabbit
Run Run Run

The geese were already heading south, and we saw and heard several flocks overhead.  This group had just risen from a nearby field and was hurrying to catch up with the rest of its v-formation:

The geese are on the wing

One evening, Mitzi and I went for a long walk up the road, passing by a spot where yellow grasses waved in the foreground of  a ridge of trees at the edge of what seemed to be a cliff - we couldn't check it out as it appeared to be private property, and besides dusk was quickly becoming dark. But we did take the time to capture these two shots:

Multi-toned rock in grass

Grasses, trees, and endless sky

The night sky and sunsets often took my breath away.  At twilight the towering, sparsely-branched or barren trees and short bushy shrubs turned into black silhouettes against a deepening blue sky, and the orange and red of the setting sun could soon be seen along the horizon.

Twilight at 'the ranch'

Sunset through the trees

But perhaps the most fascinating sight - other than the owls whose photos I posted last week - occurred not at dusk but in the afternoon.  A cloud began moving in, and all along the wavy leading edge of the cloud was...... a rainbow!  Not the traditional arc so often seen here, and not the pulsating prism of Northern Lights I came to know and love when I lived in the Northwest Territories, but a simple undulating rainbow ribbon that stretched along the length of the huge cloud mass  - too huge to get all in one shot - as it made its way across the azure sky.

I watched the rainbow ribbon for half an hour as it moved in unison with the cloud, never deepening but never fading,  until it was time for me to feed the horses. By the time I returned to my camera, the rainbow was gone. The memory, however, will stay with me for a long, long time:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

One of the drawbacks of looking after horses is the tendency to take a zillion photos, because - well, they are just such beautiful animals!  Boo and Magic, whose personalities are quite different yet who are clearly best of friends, told me in no uncertain terms that they deserve their own post.  So here we go:

Y'hear that?
We get our own post!

So what's the post time and who are we running against?
I made a racing joke! 

Me:  Magic, you are silly!
Magic:  Pfffffft! 
For some reason, I ended up with far more photos of Magic than of Boo - perhaps because Magic lost his initial shyness with me and decided I was his new BFF, or perhaps because black horses (like black dogs) are harder to photograph.

Or maybe because I'm
SUCH a handsome horse!

Yeah, and he's so humble too!
Boo:   Judge for yourselves, blog readers -
This Princess is mighty fine looking!
Yeah, yeah!
Forget the beauty pageant and let's EAT!

Got hay?
And that's the best of the horse photos, I think, though I've dozens more if you really want to see them.  Meanwhile, I've a few non-horse photos still to edit - of deer and bunnies and skies and trees.  I'll likely post those ones tomorrow.  But for tonight.....