St. John’s, Newfoundland

Unusual. Usually, I travel to places I know, like visiting family back in Switzerland, stopping by a place to meet people I work with or going back to a place I already lived at.

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Not for this summer vacation, I decided to visit a new place. The choice felt on St. John’s because it is at the sea, it is just a short flight away, there is wildlife just across the street and finally, I saw some photos of the colourfully painted houses and I looked forward to see them personally.

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Standing 10 minutes at the exit of the airport, I joked to return immediately as I haven’t seen one bird, not one. A joke. Let’s see what I will bring back from this trip. Later that day, I saw some birds and I even took a photo of what I suspect was a European Starling.

Reflections

Something different than the usual. Raw shots without editing from my iPhone to the cloud and back to my laptop to find the way, finally, into this small gallery.

I have been looking for repetition, disruptions of intended structures, but mostly for reflections. Reflections of buildings within other buildings as metaphor.

It has been 5 years since my last visit in Atlanta. A great opportunity to compare who I was then and where I got during these years.

Biking around Island Montreal – 200+ km

Cycling is my preferred way to travel because different to walking or hiking you actually get somewhere. And on the bike, I feel a strong freedom in my choice where to go. At least for the first few miles.

Anyway, to start my 2017 bike tours on Island Montreal, I began slowly and tested my bike, bags and equipment by visiting Ile de la Visitation. I then increased the pace and biked to Technopark, Park Pointe-aux-Prairies and finally to Park Ile Bizard.

I geared up my bike by adding feet bracelets to the pedals for the last tour. I had them years ago and I remembered that they ease biking a lot but now I am not sure if that was just wishful thinking. On my last trip, I was faster in average but it could be due to having improved my condition over these days. The bracelets are definitively a hassle with all the stop lights in Montreal, though.

The purpose of these trips was not only to cycle around although this is enjoyable itself. With the bike, I am able to get to parks which are difficult to reach by public transportation and the reason to visit these parks is mainly, and you may know it already  by now, to take photos of Island Montreal’s wildlife.

I add here some shots including two species which I observed for the first time and a Great Egret flying by from my last trip.

I have added all photos except the flowers to my galleries:
https://xcmsmedia.appspot.com/species?view=selector
The over 20 new flowers are still in process to be identified and will be added over the next few days.

 

Accelerating – 100+ Species

The main purpose of collecting photos of different wild animals and publishing them in a web site, is to obtain a sort of guide which should allow a person interested in visiting a park in or around Montreal to prepare on what to expect and maybe even providing him/her a resource to id species he/she may spot during the stay in a park.

In order to get the resource somehow useful, it is mandatory to have photos and information from as many species possible. A difficult to achieve endeavour considering the limited time available. Limited not only because of other, very important, time consuming activities such as earning money, but also because of the short spring/summer/autumn up here in Montreal and the uncertainty of good weather conditions.

Anyway, I just published the species #100 and having still photos of more new species on my media drive to be processed and published. I decided that species #100 will be the “Common Moorhen” for several reasons.

Common Moorhen

First, excited to have been able to spot for a first time a species, I arrive at home looking it up and realizing that it is just a “Common” one: Common Garter Snake, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, and so on. For a non-professional nature enthusiast having been able to spot them is nothing common, I swear!

Secondly, I was able to spot the Moorhen by having changed my approach to spot animals. Previously, I was hasting through the parks from spot to spot with the idea that covering more terrain will increase the chance to see different species. More by accident, during a lunch break, I realized that running around may be contra-productive. Because, during such a short break, I was able to see as many different species as during a few hours running around:

As result, now, I am looking for a good spot, shady with the sun in the back [if there is sunshine] and wait. The animals will show up soon and there are plenty of them.

I upgraded the gear. Now, I have a Nikon D500 with the possibility to shoot up to 200 photos with high fps. This is specially useful when animals are in action.

Nikon D500 connects to my iPhone and allows adding geolocation to the shots. A real time saver as I don’t have to tag them later manually. Also, I can publish some impressions to social media when I am outdoors:

https://www.facebook.com/MuuuhMedia/

I worked some more hours on my web site where I publish all these photos. I added a tool which allows you to browse the species and even may serve you as a resource to id your observations:

https://xcmsmedia.appspot.com/species?view=selector

It is built so that it can be used in the field on your mobile without having to worry too much about data consumption which is an issue up here in Canada where there are no unlimited data plans.

Finally, I learned a lesson during my photo sessions in spring 2017. As closer an animal as better. Carrying around the Tamron 150-600mm may give the impression that it allows getting pictures of shy animals at far distance. It does, when the animal is huge [White-tailed deer]. For small animals, they have to be close, 5 meters is optimal but not more than 15 meters:

 

Spring 2017 Has Arrived!

Don’t get me wrong! I love winter up here in Montreal and this year brought a nice amount of snow early in December as well as late March. Nevertheless, I always look forward to Spring  and to start to realize all the projects I planned during dark and long afternoons and evenings for the coming season when outdoors activities don’t involve an indefinite number of clothing layers.

To close this season a shot taken at Park Angrignon

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Still all grey. It is always astonishing to observe how vegetation proliferates during late April and May. A few days and weeks and the dominant grey is gone.

I have taken another photo which represents the arrival of spring more accurate. Although the lake in Park Angrignon is still frozen, I watched a Great Blue Heron flying over the park. These birds pass winter South and their arrival at Park Angrignon is a definitive sign for Spring.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

By the way, I switched from Nikon D7100 to Nikon D500. I hope that the ads turn out to be true and I will be able to catch that particular magic moment of animals in action thanks to the 10fps! ;)

Shapes and Patterns – Park Mont-Royal

From November till March, animals are rare and I don’t need a grey filter to turn photos into black and white.

Park Mont-Royal, January 2017

An unusual warm January day lurked me out of my cave on the search of some wildlife. No luck at all. Nevertheless, having the camera with me, I started to catch some random impressions during my walk.

Sunset, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

A Year Ago: Really?

It looks like November is the month of the year, I almost never take photos. May it be because of the gray cold weather we usually face during this time of the year? Scrolling through the camera roll on my flickr account, I had to go back till 2005 [11 years!!!] to find a photo taken in the month November and no surprise, the photo hasn’t been taken in the North but on Isla Mujeres an island close to Cancun, Mexico.

Sunset, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

I like this shot very much which may explain why the file survived all these years in spite of a various laptop crashes and hard disk failures. Taken with a small pocket digital camera, I consider it perfect therefore nothing to comment about what I could have done better. It is one of my favorite landscape photo and I hope to take many more of similar quality.

During the time I lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico, North Beach, Isla Mujeres was my favorite spot to spend a relaxing Sunday. Usually on these Sunday trips, I ended up in the only beach restaurant there, enjoying some fresh sea food plate. The shot has been taken from the beach terrace after dinner, shortly before returning home.

Full Moon – November 2016

I was planning to take a shot of the full moon event in November but it was a bit cloudy. I then noticed a angle where I could focus on the cross on top of Catholic Church St. Denis near Metro station Laurier having the shiny moon in the back. I “worked” the scene until I got both, the cross and the moon, in my shot. A bit more dramatic to the scene has been added playing around with the filters Silver Efex Pro 2 resulting in this photo.

Full Moon - Last Stand

The setup reminded me a paint I have seen in Montreal Museum of Fine Art. It’s a oil painting of a full moon with some sheep and a shepherd in the dark. I was impressed about the artist’s ability to paint a such a strongly shining moon.  The painting was presented in a darker corner of the museum, turning the scenery very dark almost black where it seemed that the moon lightened not only the scenery but actually the room where the painting has been displayed in.

I am not 100% sure but I think the painting was “Moonrise at Auvers” by Charles François Daubigny.