Monday, July 30, 2012

Sculptures in the Forest!

Before I return to the valley (we're actually already back), let me tell you about the astonishing, lttle-known sculpture forest at Haliburton School of the Arts. The sculpture trail has 22 modern sculptures, in a trail through the forest, wrapped around the Haliburton school, and I was blown away by the quality of the sculptures!

'Kennisis: Horse and Rider', by Bill Leishman, is the most stunning sculpture there, standing near the welcoming front doors. Bill is the innovative ultra-light pilot who first flew with migrating swans.

This heavy duty steel box, etched with outlines of tree leaves and ferns, is actually a resonant chime in disguise, 'Sound Vessel: Forest', by Metalgenesis, a team of Don Dickson and Amy Doolittle. I expect relatively few observers stick their arms through the holes to move the musical chimes, but being curious, you know what I did.

'A Walk in the Woods in Haliburton', is by Ellen Farrow. Holding a Canadian maple leaf to its chest, this symbolic hiker rested on another boulder down the trail - many of the sculptures were mounted on natural boulders in the forest.

The other one that intrigued me was the 'Redwing Frond' by Darlene Bolahood. In the early morning sun, it was stunning against the blue sky.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Learning Better Photography

Just back from an intense, educational and inspiring week at Haliburton School of the Arts, and we're both exhausted! I took a course on photography and travel writing, so I'm hoping it will help me improve my blog, both with better photos and better writing! 

Grass in the early morning light

We had two instructors, who were outstanding. I moved a long way beyond the 'auto' setting on the camera, and learned about white balance, ISO settings, and depth of field. I'm now shooting mostly in 'aperture-priority', and have significantly improved my range of options for pictures.

Water spray

One morning we were challenged to get out with our cameras by 6.30 a.m., to take advantage of the early morning light, so these pictures were mostly taken then. It's the magic hour for photography, and I'm determined to make a date with myself to get out early at least occasionally to take advantage of it.

Willow trees

We also practiced close-ups, using a combination of aperture and shutter-speed settings to get the close-up while leaving the background blurry, and sometimes focusing on just part of a subject, like this.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Eugenia Falls

Stopped by Eugenia Falls today, having heard a rumour that they were shutting the power plant for a week, and all the water flow would be going over the falls - usually a fairly small trickle of its former self. And they were right! It's flowing with more water than I've ever seen.

Eugenia Falls is on the Beaver River, in the village of Eugenia, where the famous Eugenia Gold Rush occurred in the last century. In the early 20th Century most of the water was diverted through pipes to a power plant on the edge of the escarpment several miles north. Two dams back up the water to form Lake Eugenia, and normally only a small amount flows over the original falls. But today is was almost like the spring flood.

The falls has carved a deep but short valley known as Cuckoo Valley, westward into the Beaver Valley itself. This is the view west - note the river, a light spot on the bottom left of the picture.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inglis Falls

The best known waterfalls in this area is Inglis Falls, at Owen Sound. A group of us went on a photo expedition there today, and I practised getting photos from different perspectives, crawling over the boulders at the base of the falls to get close.

The first is the conventional view of Inglis Falls; the rest are my different perspectives.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day Lilies Galore!

We're right in the middle of day lily season in the garden. I'm constantly amazed by the different varieties, from pale yellow, almost white, to deep reds and purple. Here are a few from the last few days - the first picture taken after a rain a few days ago, the others more recently in the morning sunlight.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day Lily Season

It's been day lily season now for nearly 3 weeks, certainly the brightest time of the year in our garden. This tall yellow day lily was the first to bloom, all by itself on the first day, and continuing in large groups of blooms every day.

My favourites are the brightest ones, preferably bright orange, like this 'Saugeen Sunrise'.

There are two or three dozen other varieties, from pale cream coloured to deep purple. This deep red and yellow/green one is another early one.

Monday, July 9, 2012

And a Few More ...

The first one below is a Northern Crescent, and there have been lots of them around. It's a small butterfly, little more than an inch across, and they were fluttering by the dozen along the edge of a field recently.

The second I've only seen briefly, and managed one picture; it's a Northern Pearly Eye, recognizable by the unique pattern of dots on the underside of its wings.

The third one is much more common; three or four have beenfluttering around the yard for a more than a week now. It looks like a black butterfly until you get a close look, and then the pattern of dots on the underside of its wings identifies it as a Common Wood-Nymph.>


The last is a poor picture, taken on a slant, but it still shows up enough of the pattern to recognize it as a Common Buckeye.

Besides the Photo Field Guide mentioned below, I also made good use of Tim Kings's collection of pictures 'butterflies-of-southern-ontario' on his blog 'littlebrownjobbies' - though he has far more, and far better pictures than do I!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Yet More Butterflies!

Once you start looking closely, there are a surprising number of different butterflies around. Stalking them with my camera, I've managed to get photos of a number that are at least good enough to identify them by, even if they're not great photos.

White Admiral, black and white and easy to recognize

Great Spangled Fritillary, very silvery underside hind-wing

Eastern Comma, looking a little bedraggled

European Skipper, a tiny common butterfly

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Butterflies!

Sitting around relaxing over the holiday weekend, and started noticing the number of butterflies floating around the yard. We have a meadow with lot of wildflowers (that some would call weeds), and lots of flowers around the garden, and they all seem to attract the butterflies. Even the clover in the lawn gets its share of attention, as in the picture above of a Clouded Sulphur, probably our most common butterfly at the moment.

I stalked the butterflies with my small telephoto lens, and over about 3 days ended up seeing 10 different species! First time I've got to use my little 'Photo Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Ontario', but you've no idea how few seconds butterflies spend sitting still!

A Painted lady, sitting still for me to photograph on the ground.

The underside of the wings of a Painted Lady.

A Cabbage White, white wings with two black spots.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Waterfall Pictures

Went out to Hogg's Falls in the upper valley today to practice taking pictures of waterfalls, and learned something new. For the first time I tried taking the camera off the 'automatic' setting which I use almost all the time, and using 'speed priority mode' instead. I could then set the speed either quite fast or quite slow.

Shooting at a fast speed, in my camera's 'sports' setting - the first picture below, I almost stopped the water falling. But at the slow speed - the second picture below is taken at 1/4 second exposure; slow enough you should really use a tripod, I get a very different picture. And I like the result!