Snap Shooting For Booze

The days have been dreary following Christmas- what photography I got done was for the most part family oriented other than the moose we saw on the highway in the morning- it didn't like me up there on the road trying to take it's picture and made things difficult by dodging around the trees.
I gave up on it and we drove onwards to Langley where we had a morning coffee with my cousin, lunch with my brother and sister, then on to Surrey to pick up the goodies my sister had made for dinner in Burnaby with her British friend Claire and her mead-making husband Chet.

Photography did actually come out of this experience but not in the typical sense and it ties squarely in with the mead. When Chet first offered us mead I was kind of in awe...I had never had it before and here was this home brewer explaining how simply it is made. I'm afraid I had 3 (small!) glasses! He said the recipe could be found online... ("just google it" is probably going to become the most-used phrase of the decade)...I hope to return the favor next year. :)

4 days later after doing my research and making a few purchases at the grocery store I made mead. This was yesterday actually and having read so much about the simple concepts behind basic home brewing I went all out and made wine as well. The following day it hit me what to do with last years rose hip jelly batch that didn't set right (it was runny syrup): more (highly experimental) mead!

1...The new mead is close to where I'm preparing dinner so as to monitor it. The pin holes in the balloon got clogged by the rising berries...I didn't realize till today that I had used "fast-rising" yeast!

Photography was the means by which I chronicled these experiments. I have done this often in the past for the purposes of explaining a procedure or technique of some kind and particularly for writing tutorials about food preparation. These kinds of photos aren't art or high end documentaries, they are simply a means of recording interesting things for informational purposes and they are straight forward captures that focus on clarity and getting to the point of things.

2...I made wine the same evening since all the supplies and fruit was already laying around...

I don't think many people realize the value of their own undertakings...the knowledge they have and how they have put it to use...nor the desire of so many other people to learn new things; people are especially interested in going back to the basics.

3...The two meads and the wine from yesterday are bubbling nicely (venting gas) and are now in the dark cool basement.

In the internet-enabled age with digital camera's so cheap and available it's a wonderful thing when people take the time to photograph examples of their hobbies and interests with the aim to show the online world that "this is what I made and how I did it!" It's easy enough to write descriptions of what's going on and include it wherever you may have your online content, or even simpler, include links to where you got the idea.

4...Rose hip jelly that didn't set (runnier than syrup) from last year formed the basis of two more meads. (Not technically meads on account of the base is sugar rather than honey...don't know what to call it! (empty bird nest was found in a rose bush)

If you have something unique to show the world, a creation or invention that you are proud of, take a picture of it and show us! Not too many rules here- just make sure to use the flash indoors where it's dark and mind the reflective surfaces! *if there is interest in mead making I will put together a series of photos in a tutorial-style to show the process I am following.

It will be quite some time before I know how successful my attempts will be. Right now my main credit goes to Chet who showed it to me in the first place. :) and to two web sites in particular: The Joy of Mead and the strangely titled How To Make Homwmade Wine


Looking Good for the Internet

In the course of updating my website I got to thinking about how people LOOK when their picture is taken.
I say 'when their picture is taken' deliberately- is anyone really aware of how often they are photographed? Think about parties you go to, events you attend...shopping even. Most people realize that cameras are omnipresent in our world - what they don't often consider is the willingness of people to use those cameras. These days it's become trendy to photograph total strangers in department stores and post those images on websites.
This brings me back to my opening sentence; how do you look in your day-to-day ventures into the world outside your home?
If you're like me you probably have days where you just can't bother changing out of the rubber boots, torn jeans and dirty plaid shirt as you head out to the hardware store to replace a trowel that just broke whilst gardening.
Fortunately the hardware store people aren't judgmental about this kind of thing...but would you dress that way in WALMART? I don't mind looking like a grubby gardener because I actually did get grubby in the garden and am going right back into it after shopping...I didn't dress this way for the intent of shopping!
The point of all this is that nowadays people are taking photographs of other people everywhere- and those anonymous photographers focus on people who are somewhat...unkempt. PEOPLE OF WALMART is a website some of you may be familiar with. You won't find too many images of grubby gardeners but you will find plenty of images of people who just don't care about their physical appearance. I would say that 99% of the photographs are of folks who did not need to look like clowns or prostitutes- they chose to. Perhaps these are harsh words for people who are 'simply expressing their individuality and creativity' or who 'may not know better because that's how their peers dress'...or 'who had no idea they were being photographed!'(I might ad here that this isn't just happening in Walmart but in many other places.)
It's time to wake up a little and realize that looking in the mirror before you go out might not be enough these days...it just may be that you need to look at your reflection first and then imagine that image captured in a digital photograph that could be posted all over the internet.
Some may not care about this phenomena...and some may wring their hands and wail that those anonymous photographers are mean and this sort of thing shouldn't be allowed...but don't forget that it's an individual's right in this country to exhibit his or her photographs in whatever venue will host it - gallery, website, bulletin board- even photography whose only merit is to make others laugh. And the legal considerations of private versus public property won't matter much in the face of how swiftly digital images get passed around. Walmart may soon forbid cameras in their stores but that won't stop people who enjoy spying on strangers from taking pictures of them in the store...and since such is the case it probably wouldn't hurt anyone to put just a bit more effort into their appearance- for all our sakes!


A Photograph's Death and Future

I am including a lot of links to Wikipedia that explain terms that may not be well understood. 

We will all pass away some day and what becomes of our photographs...particularly our digital images after we are gone? Before computers and digital cameras- and especially the internet- our shoe boxes, cartons, portfolios, albums and envelopes that contained our original art, prints and negatives would be disassembled, dismantled and dispersed via family members. Unless people made a living from their images very few would have thought to include their photograph collections in a last will and testament. 

Today is probably no different- in fact it's probably worse because our image collections build up much faster than before- so much so that we can't even keep track of them properly and content ourselves to let the images reside in the ephemeral environment of a computer. We can't even be bothered to print out even 'the best shots'...most people if asked wouldn't know how many images they even possess on their computers...I know I don't.This is compounded by how we share our images- via emails and online image galleries and social networking sites. Back in the old days you had to plan on who would receive a copy of any of your photographs and you would have to let the photo processing center know you want 'doubles' or x number of copies of  a particular negative or colour slide. Nowadays it's simply a matter of copy/paste or drag and drop from the jpg file to another computer and from there on potentially into anyone's hands. 

It gets worse still: who actually backs up their images to a safe location? When I talk to people about digital photography and bring the subject up most say "oh, my pictures are on my computer". When I hear that I usually suggest they get a portable/usb drive, copy their photos onto it on a regular basis, and keep the drive stored in a safe place with a label on it that identifies ownership.. 

It's far too complex a subject to say much more but this is what can happen to anyone's photographs (and images from scans) that just live on a computer: they can completely disappear in a computer crash which actually happens a lot. I personally know one person who got a lot of photos back from a crash because of a backup I had made. The sad thing is many of the photos are still retrievable if you know how to find them or have a good computer technician to go to.. 

Likewise I once foolishly allowed someone to keep copies of high resolution files on her computer and one day she literally disappeared from town. Her assets were liquidated and now I occasionally wonder if someone is printing out cards or posters based on the pretty images I had left on that computer...)

In case my point has not become apparent yet: We may own our pictures but it is very easy to lose them to unknown individuals even while we still possess the original files! Also, all pictures have potential value to greater or lesser degree - people reading should remember this.. 

The options for backups are much simpler than they were in previous years...besides using a burning program to transfer the image files to a labeled disc media (which have standardized holding capacities)  we now have portable/usb drives of much greater capacity that just pop into a usb port and it's as simple as copy/pasting to get the images from the computer to the drive. Alternatively you can do what a friend of mine does- she keeps her images on the original memory cards and then buys new memory cards...that's a bit pricy but it certainly is simple! What is most important is labeling the cd, dvd, portable drive, memory card or whatever future storage media that comes up with the photographers name. 

(I do not recommend storing images on an external hard drive because it can- and eventually will- succumb to breakdown. This has happened to me with two top of the line drives - right after the warranty expired! - and recovery was only possible because I had continued to maintain backups on cds. And those offers of online photo storage from various vendors...NO. NO. NO. This should never be considered as the sole option for storing images. I would not even consider it as a secondary backup...it is simply another place that is potentially open to theft from dishonest people and hackers.) . 

I haven't really addressed the perils of sharing photos without any kind of identifying information such as watermarking or manually embedding copyright into them- that is a subject that ties directly into backing up and doing a basic identifying job of the media that contains your images but will have to be dealt with in a separate article. 



Bears are difficult for me to photograph when I come across them. Difficult because they strike on a primal fear that I have to intellectualize past. This kind of gets in the way of things like having quick reaction on the camera controls, setting up the photo's composition...planning my path of retreat first tends to take priority and remains an ever constant thought. Because of this I am unlikely to ever get a good photograph of a bear without a really long zoom lens because large wild animals and people in close proximity simply don't mix.

I was reading in the Merritt News yesterday that a bear had to be shot last week- only the second one of the year. According to the conservation officer this is a very low number for this area. Merritt is surrounded by hills, mountains, and grasslands for many kilometers and part of the community backs right against the wilderness. Many residents have fruit trees in their yards and are in the midst of cleaning up their gardens so one would think that this is a tempting place for a bear to come...until you read a bit more and realize that wild food sources have been very plentiful in our region and that people are taking more responsibility in keeping their properties clear of edible attractants. The Bear Aware campaign has no doubt helped make people realize that bears are opportunistic creatures that will take advantage of people's bad habits- they will get into garbage containers placed out over night or root around the apples that start to rot on the ground which bears find very easily by smell. People are taking more precautions for the practical reason of safety.

This is in sharp contrast to the story that I read in the Vancouver province where one bear in particular had to be caught in a trap and then shot. The town of Whistler which is also located in a heavily mountainous area has no doubt always dealt with roving black bears in and around the community and this bear in particular for 15 to 20 years. I can't understand why food garbage on the scale that wealthy tourism-based Whistler must produce is handled in the same way as a community in the lower mainland.
Why can't they remove and relocate the green waste they produce on a daily basis to a remote location instead of doing this to the problem bears? Green waste can actually be part of a composting campaign but a bear will just come back unless you take it really far away where it may well die because it can't locate food.

A small town in the interior does not produce so much food waste and is far less likely to have maudlin ideas about dangerous wild animals. Hunting is part of what keeps the bear numbers down and the less encumbered management of bears which seems to be another problem closer to large urban areas. It is disgusting to read online comments made by ignorant people who know nothing about wildlife or conservation yet viciously attack the conservation officers who actually have to deal with the problem.

 In my opinion if people want to see and photograph wildlife they should go into the wilds to do so- not take advantage of an animals natural tendencies to scavenge for garbage and certainly not to take advantage of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and it's resources.


Falls Lake

I was missing the green-ness of home when I suggested to my husband and brother-in-law that we check out Falls Lake. This is a tiny little lake located within the Coqhihalla Summit Recreation Area. While I would like to have explored more of the park we came rather late in the afternoon of a sunny weekend. It was distinctly cooler and damper in this area compared to Merritt which lies within the southern interior bio-climatic zone. Forests of fir, cedar and pines cover the mountains and I saw wild blueberry among other plants.

The hike in is a kilometer and a half mostly uphill but nothing strenuous. It opened out onto a shore that had small boat access and plenty of room to set up a tent although there are no facilities. The water was alive with little trout coming up for whatever was landing on the water and I imagine the deeper part of the lake holds good sized fish.

It was a nice break from the usual brilliant sunshine of the Nicola Valley and I had to remind myself that one of the best reasons for living in Merritt was because of the absence of such a forceful and damp atmosphere as Falls Lake. It is almost typical of the brooding, misty feeling of the west coast tucked away into the mountains until the sun breaks out and makes it look like there should be a summer camp on the far shore!

To get there you drive to the Falls Lake turnoff which is located midway between Hope and Merritt, B.C. The road in goes for about a kilometer west and from there on you walk in. The Coqhihalla Summit Recreation Area itself is open to fishing, hunting, hiking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. It is a very historic area as remnants of the Kettle Valley Railway which operated from the 1900's to the 60'd can still be found here.
We concluded our day with a stop at Kingsvale which is located on the Coldwater Road coming into Merritt. Kingsvale appears to have been a small community that established itself along the Kettle Valley Railway. There is one very old but well preserved building beside the road and remains of a bridge and a few smaller structures.


Photography Exhibition

 Our local gallery in Merritt is exhibiting some of my photography along with another artist, Helmut Kanduth. It will run all month and hopefully there will be a nice turnout at the reception which is at 6:00 on the 8th- a Friday.

Past experience has shown me that the community needs to give more support to the arts- even the organizations that promote art have to put in more effort as their focus tends to be more towards performing arts rather than the visual.

The gallery is a nice place to showcase photography, paintings and sculpture but does suffer somewhat for being a bit off the main drag...I have taken a more assertive approach to promoting this show by going further out to advertise and choosing different venues and Helmut thinks along the same lines.

He is classically trained in traditional art media and consequently knows instinctively what to get out a camera image with colour, composition and subject matter. I think our work goes well together.

 I knew he was going to be putting in a lot of local views and wildlife so limited that kind of subject matter and focused on close to home and macro oriented work although I brought in some favorites from last year.


BC Boat & Sportsmen's & BC Hunting Show at Tradex, Abbotsford, B.C. Part 2

More photos from Tradex (see previous post)

Auto focus busted on my wide lens so I have a few bad shots but better than none- Wiens Taxidermy had the most beautiful mounts in my opinion.
This is actually a 3 picture panorama of the measurer's were scoring antlers based on Boone and Crockett/Pope and Young standards.
Othmar M. Vohringer and Mike of BC Outdoors
A really pretty girl trying out at the archery demos. I regret I didn't get a good capture of her face which was of model caliber.

 Canine Trainer Fernando Silva and Sky
Othmar and Johnny Mac, a professional animal caller whose speciality is moose. Sorry about the blur guys- busted auto focus.
 Othmar talking with one of the retailers for a hunting product.
Othmar with show manager Les. ( Square Feet Northwest Event Management Inc.)


BC Boat & Sportsmen's & BC Hunting Show at Tradex, Abbotsford, B.C. Part 1

BC Boat & Sportsmen's & BC Hunting Show at Tradex, Abbotsford, B.C. is now finished. I have to admit that despite doing almost nothing for 3 days but drive, take photos, and film seminars, I rather enjoyed the whole experience.

I got to know the new camcorder pretty well and it was really fun to film with. My husband did three seminars on Friday and Saturday and concluded Sunday with two more. These seminars were well received as far as I could tell not being a hunter; I noticed people paid close attention, some even took notes down, and quite a few asked Othmar questions afterward.

Othmar posing beside a lovely Black Wolf

Othmar standing next to trophy salmon
This hunting and fishing show is a massive venue with loads of distractions- representatives and gear from the world of boating, off-roading and recreational vehicles. Guns, bows, archery demos, camping supplies, clothing retailers, taxidermists, fly tying experts...it just went on and on.

 Reels galore!

Loads of lures

On the second day the auto-focus on my trusty old Sigma lens broke and it was the only one I could use in the building as everything was so closely packed together. Fortunately manual focus was o.k. but a lot of pictures suffered because I am out
of the habit of using manual focus. I will have to retrain myself! In any case, I am breaking the event into several blog posts since there are so many pictures.

A huge custom log home skeleton composed of about 3 images

 Boat trailers stacked to the roof

And finally, I had a bit of fun at Othmar's expense putting together this little collection of some choice facial expressions from his seminars!

Talking the Talk


March- 2011

February was on the slow side aside from the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club dinner and awards and a reception for the community arts show in Merritt where I've submitted an abstract photo and a painting.

As the weather warms up there will be more opportunities for photography - this month in particular will be busier as my husband is engaged in several hunting related seminars. The weather is so awful- it's brutally cold at times with the wind that blasts through Merritt and even on the coast there was 10 cm. of snow. My sister told me the story of how her car glided through an intersection in Burnaby on pure ice- brakes were absolutely useless.
But back to the NVFGC event: I'm pleased that Othmar himself got a prize for best wildlife photo! There was a good turnout for the dinner/awards considering there was another large event going on in town. I thought I would share some of the pictures (which were taken rather hurriedly on my part) as well as a few other things I'm engaged in.

Genealogy project: this has been an ongoing thing for decades that I'm determined to finish this year. The (basic) translation of enough documentation to build a family tree along with the story behind the immigration of my parents and their ancestors. My mother's side of the family is mostly put together but it's my father's that is such a monumental task. I have a document archive of about 100 or so old papers written in German, Hungarian, and as it goes further back, Latin (not including personal letters of more recent vintage). The website Burgenland Bunch has been a great resource for me and recently I got in contact with some very knowledgeable people to try to focus my efforts on tracing back an apparent nobility. I've also delved into the history of Europe with more interest than in my high school days and have to be grateful for the internet being what it is: a place, where if you look hard enough and make use of all the available tools, is a potential goldmine of information for just about any subject you care to name. That's not to say all of it is accurate or unbiased!

It comes through that we have it very easy compared to those who came before us. My father's people lived in the border region of Austria within a few kilometers of Hungary. It seems his ancestors knew nothing but war for centuries with just a few breaks of relative peace in between...Catholics versus protestants, one monarchy versus another, infighting within the regions...my mother as well come to think of it. She was technically born in Poland but other members of her family from the same village are technically of German citizenship simply because a border changed during the war. I just discovered last month that my father was (technically) a Hungarian- 1 month after he was born his hometown- along with the entire Burgenland- was given to Austria. His parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc. hung onto every piece of official documentation that was required of their people (particularly birth records) which is very fortunate for me in the study of my genealogy.


Merritt Ice Fishing Derby

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club's annual ice fishing derby at Mamit Lake was a great success.
It started off cloudy but cleared up later on and actually started to get really warm.

I spent a good portion of my time there on the back of skidoo helping Paul sell 50/50 tickets to the folks camped out on the ice and unlike last year it was quite enjoyable because this machine actually was roomier and fast.
Paul even stopped for me to take pictures of all those derelict log cabins that I'm so fond of!

And of course there were plenty of fish to be found everywhere; here are some Rainbow Trouts:

A closeup of a coarse fish's scales:

Merritt's mayor Susan Roline and her husband came to the event and handed out prizes for the main fish categories.

I noticed something interesting about the ice fishing crowd...they are very patient people. I guess you have to be when you basically sit on the ice waiting for the bobber to jiggle above the icy well that the fishing line is immersed in. And they are very good natured: no one chafed around while waiting for the prize presentation and no kids were bawling unlike at most other venues.
Because my feet had got wet I had to put on my spare boots later on which are city style and the water on the ice was about 3 inches so couldn't take pictures from ground level. Stood on the back of a truck instead and took general shots.

Some of the fishermen:

Here's an early view of the lake in panorama style:

There is a bigger version of this at Heidi Koehler at DA. Use the download button under the advertisement on the right to see it really big.

If you decide you want to take up ice fishing you had better get warm, waterproof rubber boots and ice grippers. I don't recommend the kind that are supposed to just slip over the toe and heel. They did the job but kept coming off.

The better kind look kind of like squid wrapped around your feet. Get those at Canadian Tire.


Snow Pics

It snowed today- started last night. I guess about 3-4 inches fell on top of the existing 2 that hadn't melted away from the previous week. I wanted to go out this morning to take landscape photos but besides it being a kind of foolish idea what with how thick and fast it came down it was cloudy as well. I took some photos from off the deck to see how well my little point and shoot Olympus camera dealt with the exposure- and to see how quickly I was able to alter the exposure by switching to manual metering! Pretty quickly it turns out. I may take this camera to the ice fishing Derby on the 16th to take photos rather than the SLR but the trade off is I won't get to take as many pictures. The battery is just not what it used to be.

Here's what an ice fishing derby looks like:


The derby is hosted by the Nicola Valley Fish And Game Club.

But getting back to today:

First shot was at f7.1 and the automatic exposure reading was 1/160th of a second- I knew that would look rather dull.
Second shot was also at f7.1 but I exposed manually for shorter time: 1/200th of a second and that made the image even duller as you might imagine.
In the third shot I increased the exposure time to 1/80th of a second which is was about right to expose the snow properly.

I still muddle this concept up a bit when shooting manually; that is to say that longer exposures are required for lighter subjects and shorter for dark subjects because I don't think of the camera as a decision making machine but in fact it is. That's what the meter is for!

Ideally we will have good weather for the derby- Merritt is rather known for it's blue skies and sunshine. I shall end this post with a shot I particularly like; a shot of the Quilchena Hotel taken last month: