Archive for the ‘Personal Photography’ Category

As everyone in Atlantic Canada knows, this has been an unusual fall. It was fairly innocuous and pleasant until Post-tropical Storm Noel hit in November, immediately followed by a mix of rain and snow (I wish it had been a bit less post and a bit more tropical). Then winter hit a “little” early, with frequent flurries and temperatures that rarely made it above -5 C. Then we got this week’s weather. Things started warming up until today it broke plus 10 in places, a fair amount of rain fell, then it cleared up this afternoon and was amazingly sunny, with brisk (to a Newfoundlander) winds and temperatures staying above zero.

The nice thing for me was that the storm gave half decent waves along the Atlantic coast, so I rushed to Peggy’s Cove after work. Except for the wind blowing sea spray directly onto my lens when shooting straight at the waves, it was perfect. I finished around 4:40 pm, then drove back to town. Things had become strangely calm, with very little traffic, almost nothing open (except video stores and movie theatres, of course). The sense of calmness and serenity was wonderful.

I went home, downloaded some of the images from the Cove, and present them as one view of an Atlantic Canadian Christmas. Happy and peaceful holidays, and may your New Year’s resolutions be little ones.

Looking Out the Entrance

Looking Out the Entrance
The Gulls were really active, since the waves had stirred up the ocean.

In the Cove

In the Cove
Bad waves almost never make it into the Cove. Today there were 4-5 metre waves outside the cove and pounding on the entrance.


Tip: Don’t shoot directly into the wind, unless you like spray on your lens…I wanted this shot so much I tried it anyway.

Broken rock

Boroken rock
The large flat rock near the centre was broken off the ledge in the foreground. I estimate that it weighs on the order of 120 metric tonnes.




Best Viewed Large. Note the chunk gouged out of the rock in the foreground. This comes from Noel in November. There was a lot of damage in the Cove.


Along the Coast

Along the Coast
The entrance to the Cove is just beyond the little red shack. This coast is full of rock ledges and often has a lot of wave activity.

 The Evening Light

The Evening Light
I know it is cliche, but the light was very nice.

Again, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and Happy Quanza, Hannukah, and Chinese New Year (coming soon). Given the recent weather, I’m just as happy with a warm and dry Christmas.

a quickr pickr post


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I had been working hard all day, and as I left the office we were getting thunderstorms just east of the city. I was hoping they would continue in that direction, as I had no rain gear. There’s one thing about Halifax; if you’re a pedestrian, you see some strange and interesting sights. This is partly because it is a university town, combined with a naval base, combined with a fishing village, and combined with a mix of Scots, English, Acadians, and African Americans, who had all emigrated to Nova Scotia hundreds of years ago. Also, port cities are inherently interesting because of those who visit.

This day there was an American carrier visiting called the Wasp (after the famous World War II ship), and it was also the night of a high school prom. The first thing I noticed on my way home was a nice old Ford (from the 1910’s) with dear old dad (from the 1950’s) driving the kids (born in the late 1980’s), who were appropriately dressed for the gay 90’s (1890’s) in this year of Our Lord 2007.

Then I saw a sign in front of a stylish and brash clothing store catering to the university crowd.

The store, called the Peepshow, always has unique and flirty advertisements. You should see some of their mannequins.

Then I boarded the ferry to cross the harbour, and I had a nice view of the Wasp from a distance.

Silva Wasp
The “Tall Ship” Silva passed near the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship. The Wasp was in town doing joint security exercises with Canada, and is extremely versatile. For example, it can provide medical care for up to 600 people, can handle flight operations for many aircraft, and can land or load massive amounts of people or equipment almost anywhere.

I've got an idea
Then I saw the small tour boat/bus called the Harbour Hopper (the green boat just to the right of the carrier) much nearer the ship. Then a light-bulb flashed in my head, and when I stopped blinking I went to get a ticket for the Hopper.

The Harbour Hopper is a LARC-V from the Vietnam era converted into a tour bus/boat. It was originally designed to carry up to 5 tons of cargo, and can navigate through 3 metre waves when landing or going into the water. It’s also quite annoying for residents of Halifax, with the tour guide blaring cute anecdotes about the city and history of same, and with the passengers waving to all and sundry. Normally I wouldn’t go near the monstrosity, but I wanted to get close to that ship!

Screwy wheels
Here is what we depended on for locomotion in the aqueous realm. The screw is linked to the wheel drive-shaft, and both turn at the same time, even in the water. The LARC can putter along at about 16 km/h in the water.

Last one in is a rotten egg
After a quick tour of the town and Citadel Hill (I actually learned a few interesting things, and it was late enough and gloomy enough from the looming storm so that we weren’t bothered much by waving) we headed for the ramp leading into the water. Having seen these boats zoom straight into the water, I knew how high a splash they could raise. I had to get a shot of the splash. However, we were all forced to say “Ribbit” very loudly as we went into the harbour. It was very traumatising, and not very complimentary to Kermit, who I have always respected.

Right of Way
We started heading up the harbour towards the carrier USS Wasp. Like on regular streets, you keep to the right. We were scrupulous about observing the rules of the road, as were other boats when they stopped staring at us. The LARC rode the water very well, and had little trouble with the waves from other ships and boats.

Bare Sticks
There were a number of tall ships in the harbour recently. These are the masts of two ships from Brest. In the old days the harbour would look like a denuded winter forest.

Guest from Brest
This is one of two ships visiting from Brest. She looks more like a vessel designed for an inland sea like the Baltic than an ocean-going vessel.

Size matters
Two lookouts and a US Coast Guard helicopter on the flight deck, after a hard day’s work. They really helped me to appreciate the true scale of the ship. If one of them had fallen overboard, just hitting the water wrong would either have seriously injured or killed the person falling.

The USS Wasp is about 840 feet long and the flight deck is about 100 feet wide. Plenty of room for four US Football games, or 3.5 Canadian games.

Look up, look way up.

From a distance
Except for the American nuclear carriers, the Wasp is one of the largest vessels in the American Navy.

Sundown on Thunderclouds
There were some storms east of town, but luckily not a drop fell in town, and I had an uneventful walk the rest of the way home.

If you try hard enough, you can always keep from being bored.

a quickr pickr post

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“Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.”Unknown
It's eating my thumb!

“Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men.”Kin Hubbard
Car Wash!

“Why is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?”Francois de La Rochefoucauld (also mea culpa)

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Here are some random images from the area around Peggy’s Cove taken in the last few weeks. It is pretty similar to home, and I like wandering around. Occasionally there are some half decent waves, as well.

Happy Birthday,  Heather!
I found this on the barrens east of Peggy’s Cove. It was an iron sculpture in the shape of a flame standing exposed on a large erratic. I have no idea who made it, why it was made, or when it was made. It is a solid orange-red with rust.

Frosting on the Cake

Egyptian Tuckamore

On Castors
This Erratic had the most rocks and pepples supporting it.

Peggy's Cove From the East

Shed in Gold

Dawn Light on the Light

The Mirrormere

Jade and Whitewater
Still plunging, but with a nice wall of spray generated. Some of the water is being accelerated at 10-100 times the force of gravity as it is bounced upwards.


Jade and Foam
2/3rds through the plunge


About to Plunge
This is called a plunging breaker (the ones surfers like). This and the following picture were taken with identical settings.

There were some nice waves breaking on the coast on Sunday. I’ll be putting up some images for the next while; I took more nice ones than I had thought.

The front edge is accelerating downwards very fast. The shutter speed was okay for the previous shot, but the edge is moving too fast here. I still liked the effect too throw this out.

There were some nice waves breaking on the coast on Sunday. I’ll be putting up some images for the next while; I took more nice ones than I had thought.

I was driving along the coast and the wall of whitewater rising over the breakwater caught my eye. It was 20-30 feet high, judging by the 15 foot high breakwater.

Prospect's  Sunrise
Looking from Peggy’s Cove towards Prospect. ‘Prospect’s Sunrise’ On Black


Steel Dawn

A Minor Reflection
‘A Minor Reflection’ On Black

Gold Headlands
‘Gold Headlands’ On Black

Tending the Nets
‘Tending the Nets’ On Black
Fishermen from Peggy’s Cove heading around the point to tend a net. They put one person in each of the skiffs around the net to help handle it. They really stood out against the lowering horizon.

Reflections on the Weather
‘Reflections on the Weather’ On Black
There was a storm approaching, and I thought there was a bare chance of catching the sunrise before it clouded over. I did make it, but within half an hour it was dismal and intermittent showers started.

a quickr pickr post

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About a month ago I needed to break away from school and work. I rented a car and wandered south along the coast. I was hoping for some nice pictures, but the weather and sky didn’t really cooperate. However, I made the best of things and kept my eyes open. Here are a few of the things that made the trip worthwhile.

First I drove towards Peggy’s Cove, hoping to get there before sunrise. As I passed a lake, I saw the dawn blazing on the clouds and reflected on the lake ice.

Cold Reflections of Dawn

When I made it to the Cove it was mostly cloudy, but the sun peaked through nicely three times, allowing me to shoot these.

The first image was sunrise through the clouds.

Prospect's  Sunrise

The second was when the Cove became sunny for a few minutes, and there were little ice pans from the upper part of the bay.


The third and final sunny image was a silhouette I saw as I was leaving the cove.

Steel Dawn

As I drove around the Bay I stopped at Northwest Harbour, a picturesque little harbour surrounded by hills, and well known for its colourful boats. However, what drew my eye that day was the quietness and the calm of the water.

Sunday Reflections

When I made it to Mahone Bay I found this little park on an island with a path around it. The bay was pretty calm, and the overcast sky had little clouds below the main deck reflecting on the bay. Just looking out on the bay would reduce your blood pressure, and I came away fairly relaxed.

Cold Lunch

Then I drove up the side of the LaHave River, which is about the size of the Humber River in Western Newfoundland, and which usually freezes up every winter. As I drove along I saw a rainbow conglomeration ice fishing tents and shacks on the water, which I had never seen home in Newfoundland when I grew up; we’d just cut holes in the ice and wander back and forth between the holes, and occasionally we’d make a fire on the ice to keep warm. In this case there was a seemingly semi-animate tree observing the activities of the strange hominids who would willingly sit on the ice for hours in temperatures near -15 C.

Huorn perplexed by human recreational practice.

Further down the river I saw an iceboat, which I had only seen once before. It was scooting along in a brisk breeze at about 60 kph, and I was driving along the river road at the speed limit trying to keep up. Then I found the boat’s home base and parked, trying to get a non-blurred image whenever the boat came close enough to shoot. It looked like a lot of fun, but when I fall out of a boat I’d rather fall into liquid water, and I’d also prefer my watercraft not to have three huge blades attached. However, these boat can easily exceed 100 kph, and if you like speed, they have plenty of it.

Breezing along at 70 kph.

While I was sitting in the car and shooting (to avoid the cold) I noticed a Merganser Duck in the water near the shore. It wasn’t looking at me, so I carefully egressed the vehicle and tried to get closer. I wasn’t careful enough, and he lit out like a bat out of a Persian Hell (i.e. cold), but I did get this snapshot.


Finally I headed back, and one of the sights that I enjoyed on the way home was of the shore-fast ice in the upper bays.

Tied up for the Evening

Finally I came back into town relaxed and refreshed, except for a sore posterior from sitting in a care for over eight hours. Despite the bad lighting I saw some unique things, hiked around a bit, and just enjoyed the day. Maybe I’ll get out again before the spring breakup, and maybe conditions will be nicer this time.

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There is a new Google search ability. It seems they have combined some cutting-edge science related to personal compatibilities with their search algorithm to create a beta version of an online dating service called Google Romance. I found the results of trying it gratifying and a little amusing. The Tour will give you a good idea about how this works. Let me know what you think.

Good luck, and I hope you make Google Eyes at your significant other.

Summer Fashion?

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After a series of long shifts at work, on Christmas Eve I went for a walk along Spring Garden Road, a popular street with small coffee shops, diners and restaurants, and a very eclectic mix of stores. It was surprisingly quiet that day; coincidentally, the news mentioned that there were fewer people visiting Bethlehem on that day.

Anyway, people seemed fairly relaxed and quiet, and there was no real hint of frenzied shopping. One image that caught my eye was a velour-clad Santa Claus playing his beautiful saxophone with a nice jazz beat. The song was “I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus” which brought a smile to my face, since it had probably done the same thing to Santa! Then he played some more traditional songs, and he was excellent; Santa’s a great musician, which probably helps when he chooses violins and tin whistles for the kids.

Jazzy Santa and a Merry Christmas to All!

Then I headed towards St. Mary’s, the local Catholic Cathedral. I was hoping to shoot some stained glass before sundown, but it turned out to be too cloudy for my purposes. Also, I was disappointed to hear no bells, and there was no sign of Bing. However, there had been some decorating going on. A wall hanging showing three wise men and shepherds caught my eye, and I tried for a shot, even though it was a bit blurry to shoot without a tripod.

Camel Postehaste

I had heard once that the pillars and arches of the great Cathedral in Chartres were designed to give the feeling of a great forest, with the pillars and arches evoking the massive trunks and branches of the sacred grove that had previously existed on the site. St. Mary’s also has a feeling like this, and as I was leaving along one of the aisles I looked behind me and saw this small Christmas tree between two of the massive pillars.

Pagan Evergreen Among Christian Pillars of the Earth

Initially I found the image to be striking, with the small, fragile, yet brightly lit evergreen cone against the dark and massive grace of the unlit white pillars merging into the branching arches of the nave and clerestory. Then I started thinking about the multiple levels of symbolism in this image. The Christmas tree at the time of Yule has a long history as a pagan religious symbol before Christianity added it to their culture (as they have added so much from other beliefs and cultures, including the date for the birth of Christ). Yet here it was prominently displayed in the centre of religious authority for the Archdiocese of Nova Scotia, and probably is similarly displayed in almost every Christian church in the Western World. This made me think about how the incorporation of this symbol into the Church could have occurred hundreds of years ago, but would probably not occur now.

The way that the early Catholic Church absorbed and melded other beliefs with their own (as long as the other beliefs were not antithetical to the core Christian doctrine) helped them immeasurably to convert much of western Europe. While the motives of the Church were probably often not altruistic, the attitude of using similarities in belief and religious practices to get to a meeting of minds where possible, and in trying to maintain local cultures and practices where these did not contradict fundamental Christian beliefs, was encouraging. This was probably related to the Roman policies of the time, where peoples who had been annexed were allowed to maintain their cultures, and attain citizenship, insofar as this did not conflict with the security of the Empire.

It is a shame that this flexibility and ability to look for similarities rather than differences is not really practised any more by most Christian denominations. The rigidity of beliefs and intolerance of other beliefs in the Catholic Church started in the Dark Ages and continued until modern times. The reformation movements that produced the Protestant and other Christian denominations were sometimes tolerant and adaptable, but many were as rigid or even more authoritarian than the Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic and Protestant inquisitions were primarily directed at heretics rather than witches, and were as dark a period in Christian religious history as the Crusades.

A fairly extreme example of compromising with local customs and beliefs was in Ireland, where the Irish Catholic Church had developed many beliefs different from the more Roman Catholic centre in York. These differences started after the Romans left England until the Irish Catholic Church came to a compromise with York and Roman Catholicism late in the Dark Ages. Part of the divergence was a willingness to compromise with local beliefs, and part was due to the long isolation from close links to Rome. Difference included allowing priests to marry, and monasteries and abbots had much more power than bishoprics and bishops. In fact, monasteries and abbots in one kingdom would occasionally war against those in other kingdoms. Also, they were willing to read and to collect any knowledge, in contrast to the self-imposed censorship of much of the church; this is one of the main reasons that so much knowledge during the Dark and Middle Ages were preserved in Ireland, and also why it was a fount of scholarship during the same period. The Irish church was also much less authoritarian and accepting of individual difference; for example Brigid was made an Abbess and accepted as such. Many of the monks and priests were not from the aristocracy, and there was a belief that ability and talent were as or more important than a birthright. The Irish were also the first to establish private versus public confessions, and to allow repeated absolutions (for example, on the continent if you stole, were absolved, and stole again you were excommunicated without the possibility of forgiveness).

The idea of coming together is currently being practised by some great people influential in religion and in the world in general. Ex-president Jimmy Carter is a good exemplar of this; he considers himself a Fundamentalist Christian, but he tries not to focus on arguments about differences in doctrine, but in coming together over the core elements that most denominations agree on. For example, he argues arguments about beliefs in Creationism versus Evolution are unproductive, and he will not argue with others about this. Instead he will focus on where his beliefs are identical with or can be reconciled with others. He also had great respect and admiration for John Paul II, and willingly met with him; while disagreeing with him on many areas of belief, he was able to work with the Pontiff on humanitarian issues. Carter was also able to work with integrity within the American constraint that matters of Church and State should be separate; while personally opposing abortion, he did not act to reverse Roe versus Wade. What he did do was to promote programs that encouraged safe sex and planned parenthood, and that made it easier for unplanned babies to be adopted or fostered. Rather than fight over whether abortion is wrong, he tried to prevent the problem and the resultant suffering from occurring in the first place.

John Paul II was one of the most conservative Popes in the Twentieth Century, but he also cared for and understood people regardless of their beliefs. When I was a teenager, I experienced the phenomenon of his link to young people, and his great energy. His influence on the events and people in Poland helped cause a peaceful revolution in Poland and eventually in the Soviet Republics that rivals Ghandi’s liberation of India. He made a major beginning in redressing old animosities with the Jewish faith, exemplifying what it means to hold your beliefs but to still come together with others with integrity.

Christmas is a time to come together, and the little tree in the cathedral gradually reminded me of this. Carter and John Paul II showed me that even strongly fundamentalist people can come together with hope and integrity. They show that people who are consciously fundamentalist and who act intelligently with integrity (rather than being blindly fundamentalist) can do a lot to bring the world together, and to exemplify the fundamental (and liberal) ideals of compassion, empathy, and courage.

Here’s hoping for a better New Year!

Votive Hopes
Votive Prayers

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