Fall Photographs

The seasons are changing, and here are a pair of recent photographs that show it. You can click on the pictures to see them in higher resolution.


Icy Pond

The little pond by the Sandy Nook trail on Tunnel Island froze over the other day. It’s in a shadowy hollow that makes it hard to get the morning light to shine on the ice, so my first batch of pictures were a bust; the ice was barely noticeable. An hour later, I passed by again, and by including the reflection on the small unfrozen portion of the pond I got the ice to stand out better.

Closer to home, Caroline spotted this magnificent fungus on one of the trees by our driveway. It’s bigger than both my fists.

Tree Fungus

I’m amazed at the macro capability of my smartphone’s camera, (a Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo, if you want to know).  I shoot mostly landscapes, where everything is in sharp focus, so it’s nice to see the limited depth of field come into play for a change.

If you know anything about tree fungus types, I’d love you to comment on this one.

A note on my photographic preferences: I prefer to show the world without people or their constructs. I try to avoid power lines, contrails and so on unless I’m specifically taking pictures of a bridge or something. The pond in the first picture is plagued by utility poles, so I did a lot of walking around to get a vantage I liked. Scrutinizing the fungus picture reveals the rooftop of one of my neighbour’s houses, but mercifully, it is so blurred as to be ambiguous.

As to the seasonal theme, I can’t resist bringing up my position that Kenora (and much of Canada, for that matter) doesn’t really have four seasons. We have two: the one when the temperature is above freezing, and the one when it isn’t. Sure, there are a couple of shoulder periods where the daily highs and lows straddle the line, but when it comes right down to it, the mean temperature is either one or the other.

It snowed a little last night—although nothing like as much as our first snowfall on October 10th—so I took down the Halloween decorations from our front steps, and put up the winter ones. I’m going for a walk soon, and I’ll be looking for beauty, but squinting grumpily.

Extreme Cold

I go for a walk every day, even when it’s extremely cold. I try to keep my eyes open for beauty, and sometimes I remember to take a picture.

Yesterday morning, walking in the icy mist by the river on the Tunnel Island hiking trails, I got this.

Iron & Ice

Iron & Ice


Today, our extreme cold warning came back, so I waited until the afternoon. The wind died down, but it was still bitterly cold down by the river.




You might be wondering why I shoot landscape photographs in portrait mode. It’s partly because I like the depth of having the near foreground start right at my feet, and it’s partly because I like to save them as wallpaper for my computer monitor. Yes, I have my 27″ monitor in portrait mode, for writing, so I resize and crop the images to 1200×1920. You can click on the pictures to see them at that resolution.

Those letterbox pictures at the top of my blog are also my own work, by the way.

PVR 6.0

Apparently I cannot count. Today is not day 6, tomorrow is. Oh well, I’m not going to go back and renumber everything now. But part of me wants to!

Down for breakfast early again today, as the staff were just getting set up. Most of them probably had a late night last night, but not one of them showed the slightest sign of having over indulged. Coffee rated an eight on my ten point scale, which I just instituted today.

I cringe whenever I see someone open the glass doors to the restaurant by placing their hand on the glass. The staff spend all day wiping off the prints. No wonder they jump to open the door for you! I am very careful now to only touch the handles. There is a young man on the staff, Marco, who we see everyday cleaning the mirrors in the elevators, and polishing the stainless steel doors. He must have the temperament of a saint. I would go berserk on my first day, and they would never get the bloodstains off.

We both thought it would be a nice day to walk on the beach, as it was cool and would likely be quiet all morning. Caroline quickly decided the sand was uncomfortably cold and chickened out. I set off to walk as far towards town as I could manage, and made it to the south end of the designated turtle hatchery zone. I soon found out it was much warmer to walk at the edge of the surf, where the warm water had taken the night chill off the sand.

I waded through one of the little rivers, and that’s where I stopped to photograph these birds, which I assume are egrets.


There were sandpipers, too, and pelicans, but they didn’t let me get close.

Got caught by a wave on the way back, and thoroughly splashed to the waist. I did see it coming a few seconds in advance, but was not quick enough to escape, or quick-thinking enough to hurl my smartphone to safety on the dry sand. Luckily, the phone was not affected, but I dared not return it to my saltwater soaked pocket.

Back to the hotel to check in with Caroline and get a change of clothes. Napped until the maid came, then bailed out and went to sit with C at the cabana. Over lunch, we decided we would like to get a proper look at the south side at least once during this trip, so unless the weather turns rainy, we are going to take a cab downtown in the afternoon, walk around a little, and go to the Cafe de Olla for supper. I didn’t think they would be open today, but their website doesn’t say they’re closed, so we’ll go see.

Only a handful of restaurants still remain from our first visits to PV. Pizza Joe’s morphed into an art gallery years ago, Puerto Nuevo came, prospered and went. Cafe Adobe burst onto the scene in a flurry of great reviews but faded away again just as fast. Same with the Argentine place. Last year, we noticed that Tres Huastecas is still going, as were Andale’s and a few others we used to eat at. The Choco-Banana lady turned into a kiosk. Let me rephrase that. The Choco-Banana lady turned her business into a kiosk. Sometimes writing is more fun if you don’t stop to think too hard about the grammar!

More after supper.

Day Trip: Smuggler’s Notch

Today is not a travel day. We knew we’d need a few hours to buy a cooler and some picnic things, so we scheduled two nights in South Burlington to give us an errand day. Since the weather was rainy and windy this morning, we did those first. By mid-day, the sun was peeking through, so we walked part of the Burlington Bikeway, and that led us to having our picnic lunch at the Burlington Beach campground. Not sure that’s the proper name, but it’s on Institution Road. This is the off season, so no admittance fee.

In the afternoon, we took a forty-five minute drive out to Smuggler’s Notch, which takes its name from the Prohibition era, and is where Highway 108 narrows to a single lane to wind through blocks of rock at the highest point of the pass.20141007_133538[1]Smuggler’s Notch.

Saw the Least Likely Licence Plate of the Day there: Tennessee. The driver was getting out for a look around so I tried to speak to him but I had trouble with his accent. He was from Denmark.

This morning’s windy weather may have taken a toll on the foliage, the trees were a little bare at the higher elevations.

We did see the covered bridge at Stowe, but we didn’t photograph it. Sorry, Dwayne, but the original bridge is now the pedestrian walkway attached to the more modern road bridge, so it looks more like a covered sidewalk, and it would be tricky to get a picture that brought out its historical best. Maybe we’ll find another.

Back to Burlington to try and figure out where the filler cap is and how to open it so we could buy fuel. I had actually given Caroline permission to open the forbidden manual of arcane knowledge by the time I found the release. It’s okay, this wasn’t witnessed by any men.

We hear good things about the restaurant at our Best Western, but it’s a steakhouse, and neither of us is really into red meat by the pound. We’ll figure something out, maybe pizza.


Two Seasons

It’s popular to say that places with varied climates have four seasons.  Bunk! I say.  Kenora has two seasons: Summer, during which temperatures remain above freezing, and Winter, during which temperatures remain below freezing.  I grudgingly concede that the two transitional periods that feature melting by day and freezing at night could be considered mini-seasons, and that there are people that like to pretend that they are Spring and Fall.  However, it is also common to hear them described by locals as ‘thaw’ and ‘freeze-up’, especially the latter.

The definitions I offer above are nice and simple, and do not tie Mother Nature to the calendar.  This has merit, because yesterday there was a whole lot of melting going on, and today it snowed.  Then turned to freezing drizzle, and will turn back to snow tonight.  Sounds like Winter to me, Saint Patrick’s Day and Daylight Saving Time notwithstanding.  By the way, if you are fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where your ‘winter’ temperatures do not remain resolutely below freezing, you do not really have a winter that I consider worthy of the term.   A ‘white Christmas’ does not count.

Because I am more hardy than sensible, I go for a walk every day, all year, usually first thing in the morning. This sucks for temperatures – I am often out while it is just hitting the overnight low – but it is wonderful for photography.  Here are a couple pictures from my winter walks, but both of these were taken at sunset, not dawn.

Icy River Sunset

I like that in this one, the snow is not white.  I did not retouch this picture except to crop it to the right proportions to use as wallpaper on my computer monitor.

Winter Bridge

Come to think of it, the snow isn’t white in this one, either.  I shoot most of my landscapes in ‘portrait’ mode.  I started doing it so I could have tall wallpaper for my computer monitor, which is oriented vertically because it’s nice for Word, but I have come to like it, because a good landscape picture  should have foreground elements, and the tall narrow view emphasises that.

Both these images were captured on Kenora’s Tunnel Island trails, using my Samsung Galaxy III.