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The Raven and the Mouse - Aesop's Fable gone wrong.

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A field mouse was out during the day, enjoying the early morning light and cool air.  As the tiny mammal surveyed its surroundings, a small black dot appeared on the horizon.  Captivated, the mouse watched the dot grow in size and it became obvious that it was a bird. The mouse had been warned by Mother Mouse; "Don't let a bird get too close to you, they can be dangerous, especially large ones."  But surely this bird must be safe, its glorious plumage was a beautiful shiny black and very small when it was first noticed.  After all, it was only the size of a dot. Uncertain as to the intent of this just-arrived denizen of the air, the field mouse was about to turn and descend into the hole it came from when the bird spoke.  "Good morning, young mouse.  I see you are enjoying the beautiful day as I am.  Oh, how I love to stretch my wings and fly." The bird seemed very friendly and the mouse had always wondered what it must be like to fly in the air.  Indeed, betwee

Male northern flicker eating Russian olives - Did someone say martini?

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Northern flickers are one of my favourite birds.  They are common throughout much of Canada, are readily identified, and have beautiful feathering.  Best of all, they are woodpeckers; in the spring their drumming can be heard throughout neighbourhoods as they stake out territory and search for mates.   Of course, not everyone is enthralled with this fact, especially if it is your house the birds happen to use as their percussion instrument.  They seem to favour tin as the resulting din (tin din?) resounds for considerable distances. Flickers are significant consumers of insects, especially ants, but such fodder is not readily available in winter.  So they forage for seeds, dried berries, and in the case above, Russian olives. I had not even heard of Russian olives until two days ago.  Also called wild olives or silverberry, they are an imported plant from western Asia that produces many seeds, each one about the size of a grape.  They are edible by mammals and birds alike and serve as

Chichester Wetland Park, Kelowna

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Lone female bufflehead duck at Chichester Wetland Park. Today I visited a wetland I had not been to before.  I learned of it last week and decided to go today to see what there was.  The park is located in the Rutland area of Kelowna, BC and was easy to get to.  It is surrounded by suburbia, but that did not seem to diminish the presence of wildlife.  Upon arriving, the first thing I witnessed was a Merlin chasing down a small songbird of some sort.  A burst of feathers was a testament to the hawk's intentions. There were a lot of mallards, perhaps over a hundred.  About half the pond was frozen over; the ducks were either in the open water or foraging on land.  The only other waterfowl present was a solitary bufflehead duck.  I photographed it with my 500mm and 1.4x teleconverter.  The gray day did not help with my shutter speed, as I shot at 1/125th of a second using an ISO of 200 and a fully opened aperture at f/8 (includes the extra stop from the TC).   I also photographed a fe

Cell Phone Photography Book - 2nd edition

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As many of you know, I teach courses in Photography.  I have taught them from home, from school, through continuing education, through recreation centers, and even through the church.  My first book, General Photography, was written around 1996 and was based on film cameras.  In 2000 I bought my first DSLR camera and wrote a book called Digital Photography.  Over the years, as digital cameras changed, my book grew through 4 different editions.  I have also written books on Photographing Birds, Macro Photography, Photography for Teachers, Advanced Photography, and a book called Digikids which was geared toward children. My two latest books included one I wrote a blog on earlier ( Situational Photography ) and the one mentioned above.  My Cell Phone Photography is now in its second edition.  It is comprised of 42 pages and includes information on both Android and iOS devices.   My go-to choice for a camera has always been something in a SLR-type format.  Currently, that means either a DS

Working out life's problems.

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Kathryn and Eric - together for 35 years. Whoever said life is easy hasn't been alive for very long.  Yes, although there may be times when everything sails along very nicely, the truth is that hardship is just around the corner, in both directions. The essence of the problem is that we are imperfect beings and we live in an imperfect world.  Bad things happen, both to us and those we care about.  We make decisions and take actions that others may oppose or be hurt by.  Even when, after much thought and research, we do what we think is best or right, our opinions or behaviours are not approved by those we love.  People get hurt, and sometimes the hurt leads to serious repercussions.   I can say that Kathryn and I are happily married.  But I can also say that our relationship has gone through difficult moments.  A great deal of the challenges we have faced have come about because of differences in opinion, differences in problem management, and difficulties in effective communicatio

No way, can my phone really do that?

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Camera phone - It may do more than you think. Although I am a diehard DSLR fan, albeit being dragged to the mirrorless kicking and screaming, I do use my cell phone to take pictures.  In fact, I am teaching a course on the subject and just recently produced my Cell Phone Photography Book - 2nd Edition .  I have discovered a great deal about cell phone camera capability in putting the course together.  The photo above is a case in point. People don't usually need to make large images when taking a photo, often something around 10 megapixels (MP) is enough.  Most cell phone cameras will create a 9 MP or 12 MP image with the front-facing cameras.  The rear-facing camera, the one you use to take selfies of, is smaller, coming in at about 5 MP.  Those pixel counts are all you really need, most of the time.  The rear camera is used for social media while the front cameras may be called on to produce prints or require cropping. My Android phone has 3 front cameras, the main one (1x power)

Teleconverters - the TC14E III by Nikon - a field test.

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Great blue heron shot with (above and right) and without (below) a teleconverter. A teleconverter is a lens accessory that fits between a camera's lens and its body.  It has optical-quality glass elements in it, usually 7, and magnifies the focal length of the attached lens.  There are three common strengths, 1.4x, 1,7x, and 2x.  I have seen 3x teleconverters but they are rare. The upside to a teleconverter, as you can guess, is that it magnifies your image, it gives you more resolving power.  The downside is two-fold.  First, you lose light, a full stop for a 1.4x TC and two stops for a 2x TC.  That is going to mean slower shutter speeds or higher ISOs.  The second issue is that your image is degraded because of the glass elements.  Although Nikon's TC14E III is exceptional, the image still loses about 5% of its quality. I used the TC on my 500mm PF Nikkor prime lens with a minimum aperture of f/5.6.  The 1.4x TC gives a 40% boost to the focal length that now comes in at 700mm