Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Another plant that is flowering around here at the end of August is meadowsweet . The blooms are pinkish-white and not too spectacular until you look very closely and observe the white petals, light pink stamens and deep pink and green centres. These are very common and normally I let them grow wild, but weed them from my flower and vegetable gardens.

Meadowsweet has many medicinal uses, in fact it was the main ingredient in the first forms of aspirin. Some native Americans used to make a herbal tea from this plant, which some web sites call an herb. I think the species growing around here is Spiraea latifolia which has less of the salicylic acid, one of its main medicinal compounds. If anyone on this list knows more about the medical uses of this particular variety of meadowsweet, please let me know.

I started using extension tubes, which I use to make macro images, but with a slight breeze moving the plants, it was near impossible to capture a view that was in focus. Instead, I used my 28-80 mm zoom lens to get as close as possible, then cropped them to show you the very close views.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Canadian Burnet

Yesterday I weeded for a few hours in the afternoon and noticed that many of the weeds had tiny, beautiful flowers on them. I decided to photograph samples of the weeds growing in my yard and show you how beautiful the flowers are when you look at them closely.

I heard a horticulturalist once say that a plant is only a weed if you don't want it to grow in a particular place. That is the way I feel because I would take these out of a flower or vegetable garden, but let them grow wild elsewhere.

From a distance, the unusual flowers of the Canadian burnet look like old fashioned bottle cleaners but a closer view shows the delicate reproductive parts of the plant.

Note the differences in the background of the first and fourth images. To capture the first I stood about 10 feet (3 m) away and used my 70-300 mm lens to get a close view. Using this lens caused the background to be thrown totally out of focus making a "softer" background than that in the third image which was made with a 28-70 mm lens. Even though the background is still out of focus, it isn't as soft as the other.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I don't think I mentioned that on the last day of school (June 25) I twisted my knee and have been hobbling around all summer. I initially twisted my knee three summers ago, it healed, then I twisted it again last January and since then it has been very weak. An MRI is scheduled for September 10, and my doctor thinks I may need surgery to repair the damage. Apparently it is minor surgery and usually 100% successful. As a result of the injury, I haven't been hiking or taking as many photographs as I normally do during the summer. However, I have been photographing the plants and flowers around my yard and will share some of those images over the next few days.

Four years ago, a person gave me a bag of nasturtium seeds that he collected from his yard. I planted them around my property and they grew well providing beautiful yellow and orange blossoms from mid-summer to the first frost. I collected seeds and have done the same each summer since then. Last year I collected many seeds and, despite the fact that I gave away LOTS, I still have thousands left. I have many nasturtiums growing around my property this year and really enjoy the colours this time of the year. I'll probably collect some seeds later, just in case those I have left from last season are no good.

The photos I am sharing today were taken under different lighting conditions. I have mentioned previously that a bright, overcast day is good for flower photography, but if you want strong backlighting on the leaves, you need to get out in the early morning light. Occassionly, I will make photos mid-day (see the Tangled Garden series I uploaded to my Blog in July) and have gotten very beautiful images. If you want to make photos of flowers and plants, I suggest you experiment. Since most, if not all of you, are shooting with digital cameras it costs nothing to experiment.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Red Currants

On July 7, I posted images of red currants that I had taken in Tangled Garden, Nova Scotia a few days earlier. I was amazed that the red currants were ripe that early. (You can see the photos on my Blog.)

This morning I am sharing photos I made on August 25 of the berries on my red currant bush. The ripe berries are approximately 8 weeks behind those in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. We had a very wet and cool spring, and that may be a contributing factor. As well, this was a new red currant bush that I planted on June 8 this year. I will keep a photographic record of its growth and observe when berries ripen each year.

My grandparents in Grand Falls had red currant bushes and I remember picking, and eating, the berries during the summer. My grandmother always made red currant jelly, which I will try in a year or so. There are only enough berries this year to have a tasty snack!

To make these photos, I used my new 70-300 mm lens and sat on the ground about 5 or 6 feet away. The first image was taken at maximum zoom focusing on the few closest berries causing those behind it to be completely out of focus. The fourth and fifth images were cropped from wider views and you will notice that most of the berries are in focus. The last photo was taken at minimum zoom (70 mm) and the whole bush is in focus.

In this series you can see how changing the focal length on a zoom lens changes the resulting images.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Minke Whales

Minke whales have been in the news a lot in Newfoundland and Labrador over the past couple of weeks. Orca whales have been attacking and killing minke whales in a couple of locations around the province. It may be the same group of orcas, but no one is certain of that. While it is natural for orcas to kill other whales, it is unusual that they have been doing it so close to tour boats where many people on board capture the whole thing on video. Just two days ago, a person from Trinity Bay witnessed two whales being attacked and one of the injured minkes was so close to his boat that he could actually touch it.

In early August I purchased a new Ultrasonic 70-300 mm lens that has a built-in Image Stabilizer (IS) and used it for this series. Some camera manufacturers build the IS into the camera bodies, but Canon technology has the IS in each lens. Most point and shoot cameras on the market these days have IS.

One afternoon, I drove to Holyrood harbour and saw many people watching and photographing a couple of minke whales feeding on the capelin (small fish that spawn on beaches all around the island of Newfoundland) that were waiting for the right time to "roll" on the beach. I stood on a small cliff overlooking the harbour and waited for one to surface. If you have ever photographed minke whales you know that you have quick to capture a decent image because you are not sure where one will surface and when it does, it just takes a quick breath and disappears again. Fortunately, my camera focuses and shoots fairly quickly so I was able to make a few before they moved too far away.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gros Morne National Park

It was almost 6:30 PM as we drove past Park Headquarters in Gros Morne and we still had a three hour drive to our destination, but I had to to make photos of Gros Morne Mountain with the summit covered by clouds. It was much like the day I hiked to the top of the mountain in 1984. - a beautiful day all along the trail but "foggy" on the summit.

The second image shows clouds moving over the nearby mountains and valleys. The final image made during the trip was taken looking across Bonne Bay with low clouds moving across the hills. I have uploaded wider views of each scene to my Blog.

This is the last in the Viking Trail Series. As stated yesterday, I made enough images during our two day trip to share the highlights with you for over a month. After editing, I have 744 images from the trip. I shared about 25% of them with you, but you have seen a good selection of the main photographic subjects I saw during the trip.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lobster Cove Lighthouse

The sky was still blue as we approached Rocky Harbour so we drove to Lobster Cove Lighthouse to make a few images. I decided to walk around the lighthouse and photograph it from different angles. I am sharing three photos here but am uploading 4 more to my Blog. You will see how the light affects the subject in a photograph by examining these images.

To make the silhouette I walked into the shadow of the lighthouse, then positioned myself so the sun was directly behind the top of the tower. Because it was so bright, I composed the photo very quickly and looked away as I pressed the shutter release. Remember, if you try this type of photo, don't stare at the sun.

Tomorrow I plan to wrap up the Viking Trail series. The main purpose was to show you the types of images, in the order they were taken, I make on a typical photo trip . In two days I made enough photographs to share for over a month. Sometimes the weather does not cooperate fully, but that is part of the experience. Earlier in the summer I told a couple of tourists that were heading to this province to keep in mind that they are not visiting Newfoundland and Labrador for the weather!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Western Brook Gorge

As we drove by Western Brook Gorge we just had to stop and photograph the mountains from the highway because the scene was so beautiful in the early evening light. As you can see from the photos, I tried different views of the magnificent view. As I said when I posted comments about the Rocky Mountains back in June, it is difficult to capture the grandeur of mountains because close-ups show only a small portion of the scene and wide views diminish the size.

I am still amazed that even though I visited Gros Morne Park many times, I have never taken the tour up Western Brook Pond. Once I walked in, but the boat was leaving as I arrived and I never got back. I have seen photos taken from the tour boat and the views are spectacular!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reefs Harbour 2

I mentioned the long, dilapidated wharf in Reefs Harbour in yesterday's post. I was surprised that someone had driven a truck nearly to the end of the structure despite the fact that there was a sign warning that it wasn't safe to drive on. An old house with paint peeling off and some broken boards, looked interesting, and I couldn't resist taking a few photos.

There were small vegetable gardens all along the highway on the Great Northern Peninsula. It was interesting that, in this day in age, people could grow vegetables along secluded parts of a highway and that no one would steal the vegetables. I had planned to photograph a few of the gardens but on the way up to L'Anse aux Meadows but it was too foggy and, up to this point on the return drive, it had been raining too hard to stop. The scarecrow caught my attention and I was happy to be able to make photos of the garden with the calm ocean in the background.

Islands Recently, I started a new Facebook Album to share photos of Islands around Newfoundland and Labrador. Most pictures were taken from ...