To all ye who want to paint with light ...

I should have started this blog many moons ago as I started experiencing the joys of rediscovering the art of photography. But as the saying goes - it's better late, than never!
So, here I am, in the hopes of recording what I learn as I progress from ignorance to enlightenment; about what my eyes can see that my camera can capture; and, what my mind imagines and my camera paints with its capabilities.

Please feel free to add any comments and share your wisdom (tips or tricks) that you have picked up along the way.

And do check out my How-To and Birding pages as well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 337 - Extremely Windy

This mallard was getting swept around by the extremely high winds causing the waters to be really turbulent and the river looked more like an ocean with all the waves!

Choppy waters

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 336 - Wildflowers and a Cat

Quick post for today after missing yesterday.  :-(



The Hunter


Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 335 - Not So Fresh Strawberries

Quick post


Day 334 - Bok Choy Flowers

Tiny yellow flowers that grew out of my bok choy!


Day 333 - American Goldfinch

The birds were really too far for my lens, and these shots were all I got on a really gusty day when the branches and birds kept blowing and bouncing around.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 332 - The Story of the Red-Shouldered Hawk

I did some serious birding yesterday - I went deep into the woods, sank my feet into swamps, got scratched by thorns and underbrush, but I managed to get some shots of the Red-Shouldered Hawk couple that is nesting out there.

Red Shouldered Hawk

I had already got a couple of really nice shots of the Northern Flicker and a Thrush earlier during the day, but I still wanted to go out and see what other birds have migrated to these parts.  I didn't think I would get into birding so seriously when I started taking the first bird shots last Spring, but here I am a year later, doing something exciting and educating.

I found the nest quite by chance.  I kept hearing the calls of this hawk, which initially I wasn't aware of being a hawk's call at all!  And as I've become quite adept at following bird calls and then tracking them down, I soon spotted this hawk on a really high branch of a tree deep in the woods.  I took a few first shots of the beautiful bird right from where I stood - this is a habit, even if they don't turn out that well and I ultimately discard, because I need these images to identify them, in case I'm meeting them for the first time.

So, I took the few first shots, and then tried to find a way of getting closer to it.  It meant I would have to walk through the swampy spots, and then walk through the thick brambly bushes to get there, all the while keeping my eye on the subject since I didn't want it flying off to where I wouldn't be able to track it again.

Finally, I came much closer and could now just point my camera right overhead to get a few shots - and that's when I discovered that there was a nest right there, and there was the second hawk that was sitting on the eggs!  What a find!  And all this was possible, because there are still no leaves on the trees, but I'm seeing the buds and my heart sinks at the thought that when the little ones are ready to come out, I might not be able to sight the nest again!  :(

The nesting red-shouldered hawk


I spent close to 2.5 hours watching the movements of both the hawks (and being watched in turn by them) and noticed a couple of crows trying to bother them.  The partner that was standing watch wasn't always near the nest, so the nesting partner would call out and the guardian did the due diligence and chased the crows away from time to time.



I didn't get good shots of the chase through the branches, but got a couple good enough to record the behaviour.  What was funny was that at times, the crow ended up chasing the hawk around!  And what was even more amazing was that there were smaller birds and squirrels flitting around the hawks without an ounce of fear for their lives!  However, there was a little pond just a few feet away, and when I trained my lens on the surface on the little floating bits, I observed they were bird carcasses.  I immediately knew what they indicated!

And while waiting around to see what happens next, I caught one of the hawks finishing off his meal!  Uggh.. that was a little creepy, watching the hawk tear away at its food, but I guess I have to stop feeling squeamish at these things - this is Mother Nature in her truest character!

Dinner Time!

I met three other birders while I kept up my vigil, and had a chance to chat with them to learn that they were serious hobbyists as well.   I actually pointed out the hawks to a couple of them who stood around and took a few pictures.  The third one had me look through his telescopic spotting device that made the hawk seem like it was right in front of me, when in reality it was at least a hundred feet away!  And I just looked it up on the Internet, and that device retails at $2400!  Not much more expensive than my 100 - 400 mm lens, but oh what a difference!

I have posted a few more shots on Flickr, so please feel free to check them out if you are interested in seeing more.

Day 331 - I Deleted My Best Pictures!

Well, there's no harm in saying that because who's to know if they were my best? ;-)

But jokes apart, I had some really nice "moments" from the day when I photographed a squirrel way up high on a tree branch, standing up on its hind legs and holding a branch with its two front paws nibbling at it.  It could pass off as if he was playing the flute!  He looked really cute, and I'm kicking myself for inadvertently deleting the shots!

I also deleted some nice shots of the first bluebells I saw by the riverside, and also a few nice shots of the chickadees that I always find so difficult to expose properly.  Well, I was at least lucky that I had my second camera with the 18 - 55 mm on it, so I still had a few pictures on that card, that I didn't delete and that I can post now.


I also have a tree silhouette that I forgot to upload to Flickr to link here.  I'll have to come back to this post when I've uploaded that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 330 - For Want of Energy and Subject

I had been meaning to take a few nice shots of the  Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras, but it just didn't happen.  Although these aren't the kind of shots I wanted to put up at all, I didn't want to miss the shot of the day.  I will definitely revisit this subject again - sooner or later.  But I'm not going to give up in the last leg of the 365 project - I'll post snapshots if I have to! :-(



As I've mentioned in one of my previous posts, the camera and lens together weigh close to 2.3 kgs!  But I'm slowly getting used to the weight and although tiring, I shot at 1/60s yesterday, and I was still able to keep a steady hand!

Day 329 - More Birds in the Bush

This White-breasted Nuthatch was pulling something out of the tree trunk and it looked like a snail or some kind of worm.  Ugghh!

White-Breasted Nuthatch

My first time seeing Dark-Eyed Juncos - there were a few flocking around.

Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco

My second time seeing a Northern Flicker, but first time in my neck of the woods.  The first time I ever saw them was when I was visiting my friend in Fremont, CA last Christmas.

Northern Flicker


Day 328 - Sugar-Crusted Pannettone

I think I am addicted to this!  I love pannetone, and when it's sugar-crusted.. I can't stop eating it!

IMG_3237 copy

IMG_3238 copy

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 327 - Balcony Birding

I just decided to stay on my balcony and photograph some birds through the windy and mostly miserable day.  The wind's still howling outside my window, even as I write.

Common Grackle

Male Red-Winged Blackbird

American Robin Posing

And the squirrel takes the cake!  It looked so cute holding this piece of bread like this - almost as if it was offering me some!  :=D


Day 326 - Rain, rain go away!

I am sure you think I'm a complainer, because I've been complaining incessantly about how out of energy I feel these days.  Ergo, my slow posting rate to this blog.

Yesterday, amidst a flurry of activities, and bad weather, I managed to take a couple of shots from my balcony, just so I wouldn't fall behind on my shots.


In this shot of the Grackle, you can actually see the raindrops on it's feathers. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 325 - First Flowers

I saw the first flowers, purple crocuses, on the forest floor by the river.  I had almost passed them by because they were so tiny, but things seldom get overlooked these days.  I only had my  Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras with me, and therefore, I was a little bit constrained with trying to get the perspective right.  In the end, it's just recording the detail that was more important for me.


It had been extremely chilly and windy, and I hardly saw many birds.  It seemed like they were all hiding from the cold and the wind somewhere, because a lot of the birds have just migrated, and they are probably as surprised as we are at the lack of milder Spring temperatures. 

The waters were extremely choppy and I had fun watching this Mallard couple bobbing up and down on the waves.  They kept getting pushed up on the crests of the waves and then dipping into the troughs.  They looked really cute! 


And a few others from the evening:




Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 324 - Dusting off ...

... my long-forgotten book of poetry, I found a sheet with a short poem I had written years ago.  I can't remember when exactly, but I know it was definitely when I lived in Ottawa.  I do remember buying that notepad from my favourite dollar store close to where I lived back then.

And coincidentally, the poem was written in Spring.  As always, my poems are childish, and silly, but I thought I'd share it anyway. ;-)

Winter's gone; welcome Spring!
How cheerful looks everything.
In the trees the birds do sing
While shrubs are busy flowering.
All the world looks glad and bright
In the mellow dawning light.

So, I decided to find another one of my favourite Spring poems - this time by Shakespeare. :)


Day 323 - Colourful Chaos

After two days of intensive training at work, and then hours of fighting to revive my home computer, I was exhausted.  I had a different subject in mind than what I'm posting here.

I was on the phone with my friend Swati, when I saw these gorgeous colours in the sky.  I knew I wouldn't get a good shot because I had no time to change into outdoor clothes and then leave home to find a proper location for a shot.  Therefore, I had almost resigned myself to not taking the shot, but gave in to Swati's urging to go capture the sunset.  And so I did!

I lost time when I tried to change the lens on my camera and the beautiful light was slipping really fast, as is usually the case for sunsets or sunrises.  So, I just dropped the idea of putting the camera on the tripod and had to use a faster shutter speed.  This led me to add a stop of light in post-processing.  I haven't touched the image otherwise.

The striations in the sky were much more pronounced when I looked at the sky initially.  I missed the opportunity to capture that.  Furthermore, it took me a while to try to make some sense out of the chaos of barren trees silhouetted against the fiery sky, and the ceiling of the balcony that I wanted to frame the shot with.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 322 - Party Favour

This was from yesterday's baby shower.  Thought I'd use it as my subject for the day.

Party Favour

Day 321 - Baby Shower and Henna Designs

I attended a baby shower for a friend's sister who's soon going to be a proud mom of twin baby girls.  I wasn't the official photographer but I had offered to bring my camera when my friend told me that she didn't have any photographer lined up for the party.   I soon turned into the official photographer, and tried to capture the moments as well as the events.

The momma-to-be is a beautiful young lady and in keeping with her Moroccan traditions, she served wonderfully aromatic teas, delicate-looking and delicious cookies, and a variety of juices.  Normally, she should have been the guest of honour, but she ended up being a wonderful hostess.  Her first-born, also a girl, was looking all pretty in a while dress, but unfortunately she was really shy of the camera.


The highlight of the evening was the henna party that my friend had organized where she had a local henna artist, Shaista, from Hennarinah ( come and apply henna (also known as mehendi) designs on her sister's hands as well as the guests' hands, if they so fancied.  The henna artist happened to be a young Indian girl, who I got a chance to practise my Hindi with.  Very vivacious, she explained to us how she uses all-organic materials to make the henna paste which she then applies to the hands.



I have had henna applied to my hands before, but I have to say that she took it to an entirely new level.  The henna paste, which usually has a very distinctive smell of ... well, the leaves that it's derived from, was perfumed with most probably cardamom and cloves.  It smelled wonderful as she applied it, and it felt tingly and fresh on the hands as the paste dried.  She then sprinkled beautiful glitter all over the design, and sprayed a mix of lemon juice and sugar to seal the paste in.  This helps develop the rich and dark brown colour that's characteristic of the henna.



I too got a small design done on the back of my hand, and left the paste on overnight.  I applied a bit of olive oil over it in the morning, and let it sit for a while before scraping the dried design off.  The colours gradually developed over the course of the day and while I was initially disappointed that the design on my hand looked much lighter than on another friend's hand, I noticed that the colours have developed even further.

If you're in the Montreal area and are keen on getting a temporary tattoo, look up Hennarinah ( and I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.  She's a fantastic artist and the designs speak volumes.

However, here's a little trivia about the deep, dark colour of henna - there's a saying in India that the colour of your henna is directly proportional to how much your mother-in-law loves you!  ;-)  So, if you are your MIL's pet, by all means, go get a henna design and show it off! :=D

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 320 - My Bad!

I will post my latest findings on the new lens in a day or two.  Right now, I'll let the images speak and I would love to hear what you think of them.

Most of the images have been touched up a little bit - cropping, and some very basic enhancements.