Mud Lake in September

september-2016-013

september-2016-068 september-2016-119 september-2016-145A random, mid-week visit to Mud Lake. We all needed it. It is a great place to go for a walk, with many different trails to take. Some are heavily wooded and others take you along open (and often muddy!) water. The wildlife we often see include a variety of ducks (Wood Ducks are my favourite), geese, herons, chickadees, turtles, and squirrels. It is so wonderful to have places like this right here in town. On this particular day we drove with my mom, but we noticed that there are a few city buses that come pretty close. Click HERE for a map and description of the area.

While out in the woods, we actually ran into someone we know. My friend Amanda Sage, who shares my love of photography, was out bird-watching. She is also a talented writer, who has just published a children’s book to raise funds for CHEO.

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First flowers

Aren’t the “little things” really the most important?

scilla

april 2015 288

I took these photos a few weeks ago. For me, the first signs of spring are the swaths of scilla on the lawns of the Experimental farm. So perfect and tiny, arriving just in time for us not to lose hope that warmer days are coming. More flowers have opened up since then; cherry blossoms, lilacs, tulips. For the next few months, I will be soaking it all up with my little girl and my camera.

xo

Silly Goose

Before all of the snow had melted (there was still quite a bit, actually) we went down to Mud Lake for a walk. I spotted this funny-looking Canada Goose:

silly goose

The white face and patchy colouring stand out the most, but then I realized his feet and beak are orange instead of black! I have looked it up but I am still not certain if this is a natural colour mutation or a hybrid between a Canada Goose and a Greylag. As usual there seem to be a lot of theories on the internet. You can see a Canada Goose with normal colouring in the background of this photo:

silly goose 2

I have seen a goose like this twice before, just further down the river in years past. I can’t be certain if it’s the same one, returning to the same area. I know I took photos of it but I can’t find them. Must organize photos…

:::

Check out some of these amazing photographs from Mud Lake that CPAWS posted recently on their facebook page. I can’t believe there are owls nesting there! How come I never see these things?

Nesting Behaviour

Things are slowly coming together to create a nursery in the nook of our home office. We are still waiting for some furniture to come in before we can really get started, but I do have some artwork picked out already. I have been collecting pieces for awhile, mostly nature-inspired, of course. Here is my collection so far:

Large Owlphabet Poster, Alphabet Art, Owl Art, Education Tools, Nursery Art

Owlphabet by Stacie Bloomfield of Gingiber

Minimalist Photography, duckling photo, nursery decor, little black duck, black & white art, minimalism, child's room wall art, 8x10 Print

Little by Amy Tyler

Quest, 8.5 x 11 print

Quest by Cathy McMurray

Bird No.28

Bird No. 28 by Geninne Zlatkis

We don’t have a lot of wallspace, but hopefully I can come up with some kind of arrangement so that I won’t have to hang anything over the crib.

There are a few other treasures I’d like to share as we put this room together for our baby, Things I have been collecting and some vintage pieces that I have saved from my own childhood. There will also be some things that are still in the process of being knitted and stitched…

Two Swans, Three Ways

I took a couple of photos of this Mute Swan, who was completely engaged in preening and oblivious to me and my camera. I was able to get pretty close- they truly are elegant birds, with their long necks and snowy white feathers.

It was a fairly bright day, as you can see the warm light of the late afternoon sun in the ripples of the water. But since this picture was taken in the shade, I lightened it in Photoshop. I have a few Photoshop Action Presets which I have never really mentioned here. Mostly I use them for efficiencies like adding light to an image with one click. I use The Pioneer Woman’s presets quite a bit.

MUTE SWAN 1

MUTE SWAN 2

I downloaded a few presets from Florabella and CoffeeShop a couple of years ago and they are a lot of fun to play with. I like the image as it is, but the subject is so feminine and I felt that it needed softening and warmth. One of the presets is called frosting, which essentially adds a pale, opaque wash of pink over the image:

Mute Swan Soft 1

Mute Swan Soft 2

Then of course I had to try it in black and white. The Pioneer Woman has a high contrast black and white preset that works well on certain images, but on others it can make the white overpowering. There is so much white in this image that I had a feeling it would give it and interesting advantage: cleaner lines and fewer shades of gray:

MUTE SWAN 1 BW

MUTE SWAN 2 BW

I have learned a lot using these presets, most of them are left open so that you can adjust the layers and levels yourself. Of course I could do a hundred things differently~ the possibilities are endless! What are your thoughts on the process? Do you use presets? Which ones do you like best? Which of these effects do you prefer?