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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

End of the Summer

Some final photos to bid farewell to another Summer.

This garter snake on the dock slipped into the water and swam to shore.

This frog was almost invisible on the shore. I wonder if a snake could eat him. He was quite big. Hmmmm.

I'm always fascinated with the way genetics and evolution work to make a Phenotype. This fly looked an awful lot like a stinging insect. He was such a slow flier, that if it were not for his "costume", I'm sure he would be eaten.

This fox had a limp in it's hind legs. Poor fella.

This bear was like a ghost in the forest. He looked like a young one, maybe 150 pounds? He had trouble climbing trees.

I will miss you Summer!

I look forward to the gloriousness of fall. Fall colours are beautiful, and make for great location portraits. And no bugs to boot! Don't wait too long to book an appointment!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Summer Photos

Random shots.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dark Skies

I was able to spend some time far from city lights in August, and the weather cooperated long enough to get some night sky shots. These were taken over the course of two nights. In these shots, you can see the streak of the plane of our own galaxy, the milky-way.

In this next shot, you can see the apparent paths the stars take around the north pole of our planet as it spins around in space. The northern star (Polaris) is just off camera to the top right. If you could see it in this shot, you would see why it is such an important star. It barely "moves" over the course of the night, making it useful for navigation.

There is nothing like these kind of views to make you feel small. Each little light in the sky could light someone else's day. For some interesting reading, check this link out. Carl Sagan is one of my heroes, and I miss him. This is obviously an old video, but it is still quite thought provoking. Bear in mind that he is talking only about our galaxy. And consider that the Hubble telescope (which wasn't around when this video was made) is able to see hundreds of billions of galaxies in the night sky. How does considering all the galaxies in the observable universe make you feel? Put aside the notion of communication. It seems to me that it is inconceivable that intelligent life, other than our own, is not out there. We just may never have a conversation with each-other. Or perhaps we will! OR HAVE!!!???

But we are just barely making steps out into our own cosmic neighborhood. So if we have a conversation with anyone else in my lifetime, the other end of the line is surely far more advanced than we are now. Personally that assures me a little bit. If they have advanced that far, chances are they are not murderous galactic carnivores bent on eating my brain.

This photo is of one of our own planets. Jupiter in his distant glory.

UPDATE: An acquaintance of mine researches UFOs around the world, and just posted this entry in his blog. Right here in Winnipeg! I don't know what "it" was, and he doesn't yet either, but I thought it was a little bit of synchronicity. Maybe someone knows for sure what this thing was? Post a comment over at his blog if you have some sort of first hand knowledge that can help shed some light on this mysterious black triangle.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Northern Trip

August has been a busy month. I have been shooting like mad, and I have not posted much, so I'll try to make up for that a bit.

Our first stop was Steep Rock, which is not far from Winnipeg. It is close to a quarry, and the town has some static displays of mining equipment in a park just as you enter the town.

The cliffs themselves are quite nice. Very aesthetic. I can totally see doing a shoot there in the near future, perhaps some engagement photos, or family portraits.

There were quite a few dragon flies hanging around the cliffs. Not really flying about, just relaxing on the rocks. I don't know much about dragon flies, but maybe they were warming themselves? Their camouflage was amazing. You could not see them from a distance, only when you were right on top of them did they not look like just another crack in the face of the rock.

The woman behind the desk at the campground we stayed at was very helpful, with both finding the cliffs, and finding a "bed" as it were. We camped in her campsite over night.

We are fairly certain one of the garbage cans had a visit from one or two raccoons over night, because garbage was strewn all around a neighbor's campsite in the morning, but the can was un-disturbed.

The weather was not great over all, but we still made it out to Pisew falls to do some shooting. The mosquitoes were pretty bad, and the weather didn't cooperate for comfort, but sometimes a little cloud cover can add to photos, and I'm really pleased with these shots of the falls.

There is a bridge near the falls, that takes you across the Grass River to get a different perspective of the falls, and it also allows access to the hiking trail to the other falls in the area called Kwasitchewan, which are a day's hike away . We didn't make it that far, as the sun was quickly going down and we still had to find a place to camp. We did however see the other side of Pisew, and it was quite grand.

On the way back, we stopped at Baldy Mountain, Manitoba's highest point. Ok, so it's not that high, but this antenna was literally scraping the clouds when we were there. The views in the areas between there and Winnipeg were very picturesque. I will return for some more shots, I know it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Days of Summer

There is no doubt about it, I love summer. This summer holds the promise of more good times, and more great photos! Summer is also the best time of year for great looking outdoor photos of all those special people in your life.

You can't beat the colours!

Thanks to all the friends and family who are behind me. I couldn't do this without you. Please let people know, you "know a guy".

'til next time!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Recent Favs

I have decided to share some of my recent favourites, without a long description as they are somewhat unrelated. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Please feel free to comment on the blog, or to send blog ideas.

Also, the season is now well upon us, so if you need photography services, contact me by e-mail.


-David Williams

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Snakes on a Plain

Well, as most of you know, I am writing this blog in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Smack-dab in the middle of the prairies of Canada. An odd thing happens just north of Winnipeg every spring, near a little town called Narcisse. Tens of Thousands of garter snakes congregate in the area, concentrating themselves in the "Snake Pits". They are protected in a wildlife management area, but are still quite accessible to anyone who has a desire to see such a thing.

When we arived in the area, I was shocked to see how many cars there were in the parking area. I estimate roughly 50 cars. We parked our own car and set off with wonder at what 10 000 snakes might look like. We were greated at the trail head by a very friendly and informative representative of Manitoba Conservation, who told us that the snakes were already active, but not as active as they would be a week from then. We thanked him and set off onto one of the trails.

The first snake pit was quite close to the parking area. It only took 2 or 3 minutes to walk there. There was quite a crowd watching the pit from a wooden observation platform. The pit itself was rimmed by a chainlink fence. I'm not sure what the purpose of the fence was, but I suspect it was to keep people out of the pit. Someone else suggested it might be to keep people from falling into the pit, but it extended quite a bit beyond the pit itself, so I think it was more aimed at the deliberate person.

There were about 3 clumps of writhing snakes in the first pit, and umpteen others not in the pit at all, but slithering through the grass and trees that surround the pit. The conservation officer had encouraged us to pick them up and get interactive, as long as we put them back down at the same spot that we encountered them. I have handled many of these guys since I was a young-un, but these guys were different. They seemed to have only one thing on their mind if you found them near the pit. They were almost oblivious to anything else. There attentions were fully focused on the rare females. The ones out in the grass or on the trees seemed a little more defensive, and some of them bit.

The females tended to be the larger ones. I'm not a herpetologist but I could tell which ones were the females because they all had 10 or more males wrapped around them, doing their best to be the ones to fertilize the eggs carried by them. They do not lay eggs though. The babies are actually born live, and are fully independant as soon as they are born.

Some of the snakes don't make it out of the pit. We are not sure how they met their demise, but I have never met a garter snake that would turn upside down. There were several upside down, some looking a little worse for wear. I suspect the birds and other creatures raided the pits for easy food during all of this.

If the wind blew the right way, the smell of the snake rose with the heat of the sun to meet our nostrels at the edge of the pit. It was quite strong. Interesting, but not pleasant. You could also actually hear the writhing of the normally silent creatures. No hissing, but just the friction of the snake bodies on eachother, and the rustle of foiliage as they moved about.

Appearently the garter snake is in-fact venomous, even though I only recently learned of this fact. Their venom is not very potent, and their mouth parts are not typically able to deliver it to a person. I have been bitten several times, including on this trip, and never been the worse for wear.

There were four pits all together at the site, and we visited all four, however only the first 3 were active that day. The other was still too cold and wet.

All in all, it was a very interesting visit. Well worth the trip.

On our way out, we stopped for a bite to eat at Rosie's Diner in Inwood, MB. They have delicious chicken fingers, with honey dill sauce, amoung other things. They are just down the street from the Inwood roadside attractions "Sarah and Sam", the giant statue of two garter snakes on a rock pile. We took some photos of the statue, and met a genuine snake breeder from Iowa who showed us how to really tell the difference between a male and a female snake. I'll spare you the details, but it was interesting to have met him at the site. He was quite enthused about the whole situation. I don't blame him. His kids were having a blast too.

So, if you ever get the chance, head to N 50° 30.512 W 097° 29.701 and check out Sarah and Sam, and the nearby snake pits, in the Spring and Fall. It's quite a sight. Unless your name is Indiana Jones.

Till next time,


Friday, May 8, 2009

Mirages over Winnipeg

On May 3rd I was privy to a rare sight in the skies over Winnipeg. The French Air Force had eight Dassault Mirage 2000s and two KC-135 Stratotankers in Alaska for Exercise "Red Flag". On their way back home they landed in Winnipeg to refuel. I was there with my camera.

The jets looked, at first, like a flock of birds far off over the horizon. Tiny in the sky. But they moved in perfect formation, turning slowly towards the airstrip. They came in, all together, for a slow pass over the strip, in a racetrack pattern. One pass over the strip, I presume to check it out before landing. One at a time they peeled each ship from the formation, coming straight down the pipe over my head. I ran off to one side to get a better view. I could not contain my excitement, shouting things that I don't remember now, at my girlfriend.

You can see the nozzle with a basket sticking out the rear of the KC-135 that mates with the nozzles in front of the canopies of the fighters.

Red Flag is an annual, two week gathering of multiple nation's air-force representatives, for the purposes of training together, and learning from each-other in a role playing environment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flood peak.

As we approached the bridge over Sturgeon Creek, we came across a military convoy of heavy trucks all emblazoned with "Student Driver" tags. We followed them west on Saskatchewan avenue until Hamilton where they stopped. It looked to us like they were going to deploy, but when the half dozen soldiers who got out all jumped back in their trucks and drove away down Hamilton, we got out and started walking. I suppose they can't afford radios? The term "sneaker net" comes to mind. I know it's not a perfect fit, but it does describe what happened.

We walked quite some way past the barricaded road before we got anywhere near water. Our first sign, was a large puddle on the street that lay directly upon a sewer drain hole. Water would normally flow down into the sewer, but in this spot the drain must have been below the waterline, because it was not going anywhere.

We continued to walk towards the creek and eventually came to some yellow caution tape strung across the road. It was now strung across the flowing water of the creek, which looked now like a large fast flowing river.

We were not alone. There were about 20 people watching the spectacle from various vantage points along either shore and also from atop the railway bridge that runs just north of Saskatchewan avenue.

We climbed up to the bridge for an overlook of the space between the two bridges. The water was boiling and swirling, with debris popping up and disappearing constantly. One thing that sparked my imagination was a life preserver of the sort that is usually kept in a clear doored box on the railings of many bridges in Winnipeg. I couldn't help myself from thinking how a person would have a hell of a time if they ended up in the water between the bridges.

We climbed down the rail ballast and skirted around the water on the road, for a look from a different angle. I was setting up my tripod for a shot of the water coming over the road when a large splash happened right beside us. At first I thought that it was a fish. Then I thought that it might have been someone throwing something into the water. That idea didn't sit well with me, as my equipment was perilously close to the splash, and I feared it might be damaged. Then we saw the culprit. A large beaver was swimming towards the flow of water coming across the road! I have heard that the sound of running water is irresistible to beavers. They have a built in instinct to dam the
water that is making the noise. He must have been about 2 feet from my camera when he noticed we were there.

I suppose our beaver got a little nervous and turned around and headed downstream, so of course I decided I needed to get a shot of him. We followed in hot pursuit.

We finally caught up to her beside a floating pad of chewed branches in the middle of the creek. There she sat, while I shot some frames, and the next thing we knew, she was joined by two more beavers.

Next we headed to Ness avenue to see how far up the water had come from our previous visit. It had risen considerably! We could no longer walk across the bridge. While the depth of water was only a foot or two, the current would have certainly knocked us off our feet and swept us into the creek.

The light was fading fast, so we didn't hang around for very long. We headed down to Grant's Old Mill for some sunset photos, which I think turned out pretty well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sturgeon Creek on the Rise

I caught these photos just as Sturgeon creek started to trickle over top of Ness avenue on Tuesday, Apr 14th.

As you can see, there were a fair number of onlookers, as well as the press. I'm sure that this fact was helped out by it being well into the double digits temperature wise. I heard several mothers admonish their children to not get so near to the water. I found myself wondering if the engineering of the bridge was up to snuff as I walked from one side of the bridge to the other, my shoes partway submerged in the creek-water. What also struck me was the collections of debris, and garbage in the eddies and swirls of the current. Just remember the next time you think about tossing away that McDonalds cup. It doesn't just disappear.