Skirting the Storm

Summer Storm

My ride home from work yesterday managed to avoid this storm. It hit north of me just before I started out, but by the time I arrived safely at home the storm was over my departure point. Strong winds, some lightening and thunder, but a dry ride.
This post is a response to the Daily Post: Storm

Street: not a parking lot

One of the intriguing aspects of my job at summer school is PCO (Parking Control Officer) duty and the fact that people use this blind corner as a parking lot. Even though we tell them every day there is a safe and accessible parking lot on the other side of the building, with a door to the classroom hallway, parents still want to let their kids off on this blind corner. This is a relatively busy street with a city bus route. Amazingly there have been no accidents yet. Of course there are still 15 days of summer school ahead.

This panoramic picture is part of the WordPress Developing Your Eye course. 

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Transitions

For this week’s Photo Challenge, I combed the photos I’ve taken on my phone this fall. As an English teacher, I spent s considerable amount of time discussing the notion of change and subsequent rebirth with my students. We looked for this in the various texts we read, viewed, listened to, or observed. Encouraging the students to consider a text to be more than the printed work on a page or screen was an important aspect of my classes. 

Each picture shows the transition from summer to winter. The hope for something better is held in the crumbling beauty that we at left with in autumn, and in our memory of that object during its growth phase. Assuming we stopped to smell those proverbial roses. 

Flowers in the garden


Cattails about to explode


Sun setting on another November day

Of course sometimes the transition works the other way.  Rather moving from life and beauty towards decay, our environment moves from chaos and destruction to rebirth and renewal. Moving into our house last year has brought about numerous opportunities for renewal. Our latest was a new floor in our sunroom. 

Where once there was nothing, now there is something


This little project was much bigger  than originally planned, but the outcome is worth it. 

As we head from November to December, autumn to fall, and year to year, enjoy the various transitions. 


Maple leaf with frost before the fully crosses it


Art Imitating Life: Hectic Days

The last few days at school have pretty hectic. These pictures I took in the summer seem to be a good visual representation of how we’ve been feeling.  The pictures were taken at the Ottawa International Airport, and I was experimenting with light trails.

Thankfully today was an easier and more positive day thanks to our Junior Awards Ceremony when we took time to recognize and celebrate our students’ successes during the last school year.

Photography Browsing

As often happens with many people, I have lots of photographs on my computer. I take them. I look at them in the 2 inch viewfinder. I load them onto my computer. I kind of forget about them. My wife and I have been talking about getting some of the pictures printed and framed for our home, but it just hasn’t happened yet with all of the other things that need to get done. Today, however, I had some time and I started looking. What did I discover? Well I take a lot of pictures. A LOT! and quite a few are almost meaningless to me know that the event has passed. That said, there are some that are a pleasant surprise, and others that are worth revisiting. Not everything is worth printing, but they do deserve a second look. Here are some of the photos I found that deserves a second look. These pictures were predominantly taken at various point in the last year.

Let me know what you think. May be I should do a keep or pitch type activity at some point, but not today. I just started looking at and organizing the pictures.

Self Assessment Time

As a teacher, a coach, and a parent I often challenge people to do a little self assessment of their goals and progress.  Today (okay I really started this 2 weeks ago) seems like as good a time as any for me to commit a bit of time to some self assessment on my exercise plan, my blog, and my photography.  Some reflection on our learning. As often happens, self assessment isn’t all sunshine and glory, but that’s okay because that kind of learning is just as important.

First off, my exercise plan is going just about as well as it did last year.  If you know me then you know this isn’t a good thing.  I have not been running nearly as much as I had hoped.  In fact I just about to restart the 5k plan I started 5 weeks ago because the first week and a half of May were complete write-offs.  Sure I walk the dog multiple times every day, and I walk around my school and community as much as possible.  No I don’t have a pedometer for my walks around school, but I do track my dog walks.  As always, I do have grand plans, but somehow being a parent and husband keep getting in my way — yes I know I am supposed to make time to exercise, but I have not started scheduling it into my day like Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) suggests in her blog.  Oh to be like Vicki!  But really this is okay.  I must have been getting enough exercise since I managed to get through the winter maintaining my weight for a change.  Anyway, the snow is finally gone, the weather is warmer and dryer, and I still have a good plan to get more exercise into my life.  My brother-in-law is once again pushing me to be more active.  This year he says I need to try a duathlon with him.  So it looks like I might be giving it a try.  Who doesn’t want to run 2k, bike 20k, and then just for kicks run another 5k?  I will let you know how this goes, or if I even have the nerve to try.

After a torrid start to blogging this year, the blog also slipped by the wayside.  The only person to blame is me as I didn’t give myself the 15 minutes a day I should have dedicated to just writing as suggested by Steven Downes a few years ago. There were many days when I could have, but I just didn’t.  Sure I can blame work and my coaching schedule, but the reality is I just didn’t make the time for writing.   When people learn I taught English, they assume I was or am also a writer.  Nope. Not ever.  I didn’t teach English because I like to write.  I taught English because I like to read and talk about books and other media forms.  To actually commit to writing a blog has actually been a challenge for me.  A challenge that I enjoy, but one which I need to make a greater effort with.

When I started taking pictures last century, I had a Polaroid, a little 110 mm point-and-shoot, and then an SLR.  I learned to take pictures and develop them as well.  I had to be careful about what I shot because I only had 24 exposures available.  I really loved photography.  The pictures I took made great gifts for family and friends.  Some of them are still on display in people’s homes.  Then life kind of got in the way, and I put photography aside.  Sure my wife and I have had a few smaller point-and-shoot cameras, both film and digital, over the years, but we didn’t seem to do too much with pictures we took.  When I turned 40, my wife bought me a Nikon DX-40 — my first DSLR — and I was thrilled.  To be back in the land of real cameras was awesome.  Except that I had almost forgotten how to take a picture with a camera that wasn’t using an AUTO feature.  EEEKK!  One the interesting things about the advancements in phone technology is that almost everybody now has a camera in their pocket.  Sure that’s a great thing, but there is a science and an art to taking a picture that is lost when all you have to do is point and shoot.  I have continued to experiment with my camera in different settings, using different settings, and getting varied results.  That’s okay.  I just want to keep taking pictures and doing something with the photos.  Much like Peter Reynolds books Dot and ish, I am learning to accept that what images I take are picture-ish, and art-ish.  Also, I have found an audience who appreciates my attempts at photo art-ish.  My daughter wants me to print some of the pictures for her room.

As with all good reflection on learning, there needs to be some next steps, some planning for improvement.  So as summer approaches, I am going to try to write more.  Or at least post more things to this blog more regularly, whether it be the ongoing journey of my efforts to become a fit human in the last few years of my 40’s, or some of the pictures that I take and then usually do nothing with.

Trying New Photography Tricks

Over the last little while I have been trying some new things with my camera.  What’s the point of having the thing if I’m not going to try to use some of its cool features.  Also, I want to get back to taking pictures like I did with my first real, and trusty, camera — a 1970’s Pentax K1000.  That’s right, my first camera is that old, and I really did STOP using the AUTO setting.  After years of point-and-shoot cameras and phones with increasingly improved cameras, I am taking more time with, and getting more enjoyment from, my DSLR.  Actually I pretty much moved away from that basic AUTO setting when I bought the current camera, but every once in a while I fall back too or some of the other presets so I have been making a concerted effort to take different types of photos.

Here are two photos I recently took as I try to expand my skills.  I still have a lot to learn, but it was fun researching how to take the pictures (sometimes afterwards) and seeing what I managed to take.

Unedited image of lightning strike over Cobden

Unedited image of lightning strike over Cobden

RAW photo

Unedited long exposure star trail photo

The lightning strike image was taken fairly quickly as the storm rolled through the Ottawa Valley.  I didn’t really set up the camera properly, which is why the image is a bit blurry.  Also, I didn’t have a god sense of all the settings needed for a good shot.  The star trail shot was taken with a 90 minute exposure in my backyard.  I had done some reading about how to take this kind of shot, but it was really just a shot in the dark in terms of what I would get.  There is a fair bit of ambient light from neighbours’ windows, a street light, and the moon so I’m amazed I managed to get anything at all.

After I played with the Nikon photo editing software, which is relatively basic stuff but good for me to start with, I ended up with these images.

Lightning Stike Storm in Cobden Mother's Day Weeekend 2015

Lightning Strike Storm in Cobden Mother’s Day Weekend 2015

Star Trails test Shot over Ottawa May 2015

Star Trails Test Shot over Ottawa May 2015

I still have lots to learn about the photographic techniques required for these shots, as well as the post processing tricks, but I’m actually pretty happy with the results.

As always, tips and suggestions are welcome.