Sunday, January 30, 2011

Willie said it well

“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?” (William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing)

What's good about a truncated month? In February's case - not a lot. Oh well - there's Groundhog Day on February 2nd - the midpoint between Winter and Spring - to give us hope that the cold, damp, dark winter days will pass soon. And, there's Shrove Tuesday - I mean, who doesn't like pancakes? There's Valentine's Day - a time to celebrate love and lovers and faith in 'forever after'.

And, in my case, it's the month in which my first grandchild, Mattias, was born. My sister Dawn's birthday falls in February too. Both are occasions I like to celebrate.

So, all of those occasions at least help to pass the time through what, for some strange reason, seems to be the most dismal of months. We often get our coldest temperatures in 'heart' month, but according to the website, February boasts the fewest days of precipitation. Of course, when we DO get precipitation, it's usually in the form of a massive dump of snow, just to remind us that Mother Nature Rules and winter is NOT over yet.

When that happens, I find it helps to curl up by the fireplace, put some music on the stereo and read and sleep until it's over. Forays into the 'wilderness' with the pooch to take care of his physical needs represent my attempts to 'get outside'.

February truly is the longest short month.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Three days left...

There are only three days left in January until we enter the longest short month of the year.

There is something about February that brings you down. For a short month, it always seems like it will never end.

So, to counteract the effects, I've vowed to make February my self-education month. My plan is to read the myriad of books I've acquired about photography - and stop just dusting them in my virtual e-library. I might actually learn something useful and that, in turn, I can pass on to my two Fun with Photos groups.

If I can stick to that plan, practice what I learn, and keep busy - I won't even notice the days inching forward toward March that at least brings the promise of spring to come.

Bring it on!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Have you noticed?

Those of us who don't revel in hurtling down snowpacked hills or venturing forth in the cold in search of mid-winter diversions LIVE for this moment - the day you finally really notice that the days are truly getting longer. It's more than a month since the winter solstice and we now have daylight available from around 7: a.m. until well after 6:p.m.

The darkness scatters and the light begins to break well before sunrise offering hope and cheer to the light-deprived masses. And, after the supper dishes are done, there's still a hint of light in the yard, even though the sun has set.

Now all we need is a bit more warmth - but I suspect we may have to endure a few more cold snaps before we can say the worst is really over.

Halo has the right idea - bask in whatever warm sunlight can be found - and stay in the house.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No thaw in January

Baby, it's cold outside! According to the thermometer we hung in a tree outside the dining room window the ambient temperature has ranged from -15C to -27C in the last 48 hours. Add a wee breeze and we're talking cold, folks! If I'd wanted to live in the Antarctic, I would have! I am not a winter person. Period. Bundling up like the Pillsbury doughboy just to take the dog out to piddle doesn't make me a happy camper. I do try to make the best of it - but, admittedly, grudgingly. I much prefer the chair by the fireplace, cat happily ensconced on my lap.

That said, last week-end I did brave a nasty winter storm to head up to Fredericton and participate in the annual "January Thaw Equine Expo". Despite the snow, lousy driving conditions, high winds and blustery whiteouts, approximately 50 exhibitors managed to get there and get set up in time for the 9:a.m. opening on Saturday.

Saturday dawned clear, but it was the beginning of the current nasty cold snap. Nevertheless, several hundred horse enthusiasts managed to dig out and get down to the Capital Exhibition Centre to attend the Expo, say hi to old friends, make some new ones and take in the many displays and demonstrations offered throughout the day. The event, now in its fourth year, was organized by Karen Thomas of Northstream Tack and Brenda Noble of Holiday Ranch Ltd. As usual, the two ladies did an amazing job of pulling it all together. The $2 admission plus funds raised from various on-site raffles garnered over $3500 for the area chapter of the NB Children's Wish Foundation.

I offered a few photo shoots as prizes. Linda Clark of Norton won the draw at my booth, and I'm still waiting to find out who the winners were at the Children's Wish Foundation booth and the Earth Spirit Horse Rescue booth.

Shows like this are a lot of work for the exhibitors too. It takes a long time to decide what to put in your booth and how to decorate. Then there's the set up (and the tear-down when you're exhausted). Finally, the visitors come through the door and you stand, and stand, and stand some more oh hard cement floors - smiling and greeting customers and potential customers with as much enthusiasm as your aching legs and back will allow. And after it's all over, the decorations taken down and packed up and the long drive home on a cold winter night has ended - there's nothing like a good hot bath and your very own bed to restore life to aching muscles. And on we go - gearing up for the next show - the annual Equine Review in Sussex on the week-end of May 1st. See you there?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January means...

In New Brunswick (probably as in most of the northern hemisphere at least), January means more unpredictable weather. We fluctuate from torrential downpours and temperatures between 5-10C to bitter cold (-25C or worse) with gale force winds to remarkable snowfalls exceeding 30cm (1 foot) in a short period of time. In other words, January is the definition of winter.

Locally, though, if you have even a passing interest in things equine, January also means it is time for the annual January Thaw Equine Expo! It will be held in Fredericton this week-end at the Capital Exhibition Centre on Saturday, January 22nd from 9-5. As it currently stands, there are more than fifty exhibitors in the trade show itself plus there will be informative presentations going on all day long. For details check out their website at

Designed by Lisa Boudreau Imaging and Design

I've been toying with my display booth content for the past few weeks and have finally decided to cut it back, simplify and make it easier to set up, tear down and yet keep the visuals. Wish me luck. I'm trying out the new system tomorrow.

Mother Nature is threatening to make life a bit miserable tomorrow afternoon and evening so I'm heading up early in the a.m. to get my booth set up before the storm hits. Hopefully it will blow itself out quickly so Saturday can dawn clear and clean and people will be able to get out and about!

Hope to see lots of folks on Saturday and be sure to drop by my booth to say hello, fill out a ballot for my door prize, and catch up on what's new.

Friday, January 14, 2011

C'mon, you can do it for us free, can't you? Think of the exposure.

I don't normally blog three times in one day, but this is well worth passing on. Check it out!

Sharing and photography

I learned to share. Really I did. So today, when two members of our Fun with Photos group wanted a little extra help, I enjoyed providing what I could - not to mention fresh baked cookies and tea.

We talked about a few basic flash settings for Canon cameras and how you really need to use a tripod and a fast shutter speed to get 'tack sharp' images.

Then there was a lengthy discussion about various software programs for editing images.

At the end of it all, here's hoping the two ladies went away with a bit more knowledge then they came with. It's good for me, too. By answering their questions I'm forced to think and remember a myriad of details that I, too, often forget about. So I learn as much from them, many times, as they learn from me.

I know some photographers who would slit their throats rather than share their knowledge with others, but that's just not my style. I so enjoy the discussions and we have a great time.

If you know something, it's fun to share. If you want to learn, ask questions.

Halo - sidelight from bright window.

The blessings and the curses of technology

Next week-end I'm participating in the 2011 January Thaw Equine Expo at the Fredericton Exhibition Centre. I've been getting my display gear together in anticipation of the event and, among other things, I purchased a small mini-projector that I can use to show my slide show on a screen larger than my laptop. All was good until I found out that, despite the fact that 3M provided a variety of patch cords to connect said projector to my laptop, NONE would fit the MAC's mini-display port outlet.

Apple doesn't sell such a thing. Go figure? By trial and error I found a place called and ordered what I THOUGHT was the right thing. Wrong. Back it went and, with the help of the nice folks at StarTech we figured out what I really needed. Three days later it arrived at my door. Yay! Another hurdle cleared! Now I'm one step closer to being ready.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Illusive waterfalls

Slow shutter speed

Faster shutter speed

We three adventurous photographers (Hetty, Sherry and I, and Hetty's daughter Isaline) set out to find waterfalls to photograph - with little success. We traversed the road, following the directions, back and forth a few times - unable to locate the necessary landmark that would lead us to the woodland road that would take us to the foot of the waterfall. Buried under snow, the old graveyard on Keirstead Mountain was nowhere to be found.

Undaunted, we headed to the other side of Sussex to Waterford where waterfalls can be seen from the Cedar Camp Road bridge. Of course, to get truly dramatic photographs you need to be at the bottom of the waterfall. New Brunswick hasn't experienced the truly bitter January temperatures (yet) so as a result, the streams and rivers are still open, and the waterfalls flowing - but the paths to the bottom of the falls are ice-covered and too treacherous to chance without proper climbing gear.

So, we contented ourselves with a few shots taken from above the falls on the bridge. Despite our lack of success in nailing those waterfall photographs, it was a good outing for a sunny afternoon in winter.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It is winter, after all

Hoover knows it's winter. He revels in the newly fallen snow - leaps and bounds about chasing snow flakes; plays fetch with snowballs that vanish when they hit the ground; and generally exudes an amazing amount of joy when the door opens on a fresh snowfall.

The rest of us, however, seem to have a tendency to gravitate to the fireplace, soft music and low light, book in hand, blanket artfully draped around the supine body. While this image is good for the soul, and perhaps even the intellect, it does little for the rapidly expanding posterior or for productivity in the sphere of work.

To counteract at least some of this winter lethargy (oh yes, I am among those who loathe being cold), tomorrow I will bundle up and sally forth with a friend in search of waterfalls to photograph - running waterfalls, frozen waterfalls - it doesn't matter - just waterfalls. I am psyching myself up now to look forward to freezing my toes, nose and other parts off and trying to keep my camera warm and dry while trudging over ice and snow, lugging 40 pounds of gear, to find these marvels of nature.

In reality, I probably will enjoy it. Or, if not the actual hunt, the creation of the images at the end of the trek. In the meantime - lining up the clothes. For those who know me, and fail to recognize me tomorrow, I'll be the one that resembles the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's almost time to wrap up the ornaments, take down the tree and put the lights away for another year. January 1st brings both joy and sadness - the excitement of a new year beginning and all of its infinite possibilities; and the sadness of seeing another year come to an end.

The good news is that the shortest day of the year is behind us and from here on out, despite nor'easter storms, snow drifts, freezing rain, black ice and dark afternoons - each day will offer more daylight, more cheer and be a step closer to warmth than the day before.

So, hang in there. Spring will come.

Have a Happy New Year! And watch those days lengthen, one by one.