Photo of the Month – Winter Storm

Hi Folks:

Today is the last day of December, and that means it’s time for the ‘Photo of the Month’ post.  Being December 31, it’s also the last day of 2010.  There’s an old story about spring coming in like a lamb or a lion, and if that also applies to winter, this one could be interesting!

I was walking back from the grocery store on December 20, and when I got to Dallas Road the wind was just howling and the waves were crashing into the beach.  Despite this, the sun was still shining.  I later discovered this is known as a ‘King Tide‘ event, a biannual event caused by the alignment of the sun and moon that creates extremely high tides.  All I knew at the time was, “I’ve got to shoot this!” Continue Reading →

He Says, She Says… How to Be Santa Claus

Hello, Dear Reader:

Being Christmas eve and all, it seemed like an appropriate topic for today.  This ‘He Says, She Says…‘ post is going to be primarily a ‘He Says’, and it’s likely to be our last blog post of 2010, so I’ll add in a greeting from Marcia as well:  However you celebrate it, we wish a joyous Holiday season to you and to those near and dear to your heart.

When you look like me, a lot of kids call you Santa Claus.  I’m also very fortunate to have my own Mrs. Claus.  Being called Santa may be partly because of the white hair and beard, but I still remember one day over 15 years ago when I was standing at an ATM outside (in July) wearing a headband, sunglasses, denim jacket and jeans, and a girl passing by called out, “Look mom, it’s Santa Claus!” “No, I don’t think so.” was the reply.  “Yeah, it is!”  Mom was thinking ‘Hells Angels’ was more likely, but the little girl could see through the disguise.  I also remember the first time a little one, too young to talk, walked by with his dad in hand.  As they walked away the little one began saying, “Ho Ho Ho.  Ho Ho Ho…”  His dad didn’t know what he was going on about, but we did.

However, this isn’t a post about how to look like Santa Claus, it’s about how to be Santa Claus, no matter what you look like.  And that’s something anyone can do, no matter your faith or beliefs.  The ‘father’ of the modern day Santa Claus was St. Nicholas, a Grecian man who lived in Lycia in the 4th century.  Born to wealthy parents, they died when he was young and he was raised by his uncle.  As he grew up St. Nick was a pious man, and very generous with what he had.  He also encouraged his associates to be generous as well.  There are a number of stories about his life; this is one of my favourites… Continue Reading →

2011 Photo Calendars

Hi Folks:

Update: If you’re looking for 2014 calendars, please click here.

As one year closes and another begins, a popular present this time of year is a calendar for the coming year.  One of the things on my ‘to do’ list this year was to create a set of background calendar templates that I could use with Lightroom to create a 2011 calendar.  Before I could get to them, however, John Murray was kind enough to create a set of .png files of his own and to make them available for download: 2011 calendar templates.  Thanks, John!  On his website, John suggests using the .png files with Lightroom’s ‘watermark’ feature in the Print module; I’ve always used them as a graphical identity plate, but either way works.

That done, I got to thinking about people who don’t have (gasp!) Lightroom or Photoshop or another equivalent software package, and that got me thinking about Microsoft Word.  I started with a letter-sized (8½” x 11″) page and set the margins to ½”, then created a table with 10 rows and 8 columns and added in the dates, like this (the outlines are there only to show the borders in this example):

Word table Continue Reading →

Being Green – Celebrating the Holidays

Hi Folks:

Been a little quiet in our corner of the ‘net lately for several reasons, but partly because of the holidays.  There are so many different traditions and celebrations this time of year it’s hard to count them all, from the Islamic New Year (a different calendar, but corresponding to Dec. 7 this year) to Kwanzaa to Hanukkah, Solstice, Saturnalia and Christmas.  I’m sure there are others.  Here in the northern hemisphere we’re coming up on the shortest day of the year, while our neighbours south of the equator will be celebrating their longest.  All in all, however, while it’s certainly possible to get caught up in the mad scramble for presents, holiday deadlines, office parties, too much traffic and too many people crowding into too many stores, I also see more people being kind, open, polite, generous and giving.  It’s something that was written very well in a story called ‘Patience Pants‘.  This time of year we are reminded that no matter where we live or how we live, we are all part of a larger brother/sisterhood of humans and beyond that to being a part of the intricate web of life on this little blue marble we all share. Continue Reading →

Should I Get Lightroom or Photoshop or…?

Hi Folks:

One question I see a lot on Twitter is, “Should I get Lightroom or Photoshop?”  It seems to me that people who ask that question aren’t familiar with the limits, features or capabilities of either program so I thought I’d do a quick post on that.  Now, there are entire libraries of books, tutorials and instructional videos available on using these programs, so this blog post couldn’t hope to compete with them.  This post is not intended to be a series of instructions on how to use these programs, but an introduction to a few of the ways in which they differ and how they can be used together. Continue Reading →

Photographing Moving Water

Hi Folks:

As a landscape photographer,  I’ve always been captivated by images of moving water.  By varying the shutter speed one can create many different effects.  A very high shutter speed can ‘freeze’ the moment…

Shuswap Lake Bubbles

Continue Reading →

He Says, She Says… Abundance: A Fresh Perspective

Hello Dear Reader:

We wrote a ‘He Says, She Says…‘ blog post a while back on ‘The Elephant in the Room‘. The ‘elephant’ in that case was money.  However, we recently rediscovered Bashar‘s talk on ‘Abundance‘, and that brought the idea back for us but in a different way.  Bashar defines abundance as:

“Abundance: The ability to do what you need to do when you need to do it. Period. Did you hear anything in that definition that said anything about money?”

Mike and I have both been considering the implications of such a simple concept – simple and yet radical at the same time. Though normally each of us would write about our own individual interpretations of our He Says, She Says topic, since I’ve been working full-time and away from home, Mike has been flying solo on a few of our dicussions with me reviewing and editing before posting.

Well, today the roles are reversed and it’s me doing the writing, with Mike doing a review and edit. Turn about is, after all, fair play!

So … back to our quote:

“Abundance: The ability to do what you need to do when you need to do it. Period. Did you hear anything in that definition that said anything about money?”

Two scenarios – both related to movies we’ve recently seen again: Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell and Star Trek: Insurrection. Though you may find it odd to compare these two, I do hope you’ll stay with me here.

In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray finds himself reliving the same day over and over and over again. Every morning he awakes on February 2nd, and every night all failures (including bank robbery and death!) are wiped clean. Initially his life is mundane and boorish and his purpose for existence is to bed the character portrayed by Andie MacDowel. But after what you realize must be months of repeating the same day, (all unsuccessful in his attempts to win and woo MacDowell) he becomes an intelligent, talented and caring man, beloved by the people of the small town. Once he gets to this point in his life, he no longer seeks satisfaction from the MacDowell character – his life is rich without her. Only then does ‘fate’ intervene to bring the two of them together.

In the Star Trek movie, the people from this magical planet live rich lives well up to over 700 years – that second zero was intentional! There is no money in this society, yet everyone does anything and everything that they have ever dreamed of doing. If it is a thought or passion, they know they can do it, and they follow through on these dreams! These people are rich in talent, creativity, and self-satisfaction. Nothing stops them from completing their goals and each person in their society supports the success and achievements of all others. This year they might choose to study to become a doctor, next year might delve into pottery to the point of mastery, then tackle and perfect a new style of fabric, move on to become a chef … the options are limitless and the success to the point of mastery is a given!

In case you do not see where I’m taking this thought in relation to our topic … there is no ‘working for money’ in either movie. Bill Murray’s character finds ways to take piano lessons till he is a master pianist. He becomes a doctor and helps the people of this town in innumerable ways by caring about them as individuals – right down to the local street person who repeatedly dies every day till Murray finds a way to save his life! In Star Trek, the wellbeing of each individual in this utopian society is paramount … and the peace and beauty – both externally and internally – is tangible. Each person gives of themselves to enhance and support the community.

To consider a life of abundance without consideration of money as we know it in our society today is a radical concept! Yet as I’ve been playing with the idea of this as an option in my life, I have been finding magical scenarios popping up and providing me with physical expressions of abundance yet without the need of my having finances to ‘buy’ them.

Here are some simple examples:

* while awaiting our local library’s purchase of a book that I want to borrow in order to read, a co-worker brings her copy in for me to enjoy without having been asked – nor did we ever even talk together about my interest in it … she said she just ‘thought’ I’d enjoy it! YES!

* wanting the latest Abraham-Hicks book and CD: Getting into the Vortex yet not having the funds to provide it for myself, it arrived in the guise of an unexpected gift from a friend who claims she ordered two (bless her beautiful heart!).

* at a time when I find myself looking within to determine a healthy and contrasting perspective between my comfort in a small living space versus the more expansive and potentially labour intensive demands of residing in a larger home, a friend calls to see if we can house-sit her comparatively much larger house for 3 weeks!

Though simple examples, I think you get the idea that my life is filling up with magical expressions of abundance in marvelous ways that do NOT require the having of money as the prime prerequisite for their appearance in my life.

So let us review that quote one more time:

“Abundance: The ability to do what you need to do when you need to do it. Period. Did you hear anything in that definition that said anything about money?”

How does this quote sit with you? Where does the thought take you? Does it resonate well? Does it challenge your current concepts? Does it inspire you? I’d be delighted to hear from you … I encourage you to leave a comment below!

In Light and Laughter,

Marcia

Being Green – Biomimicry

Hi Folks:

It’s Friday evening as I write this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.  I had the opportunity this past week to watch a webinar on Biomimicry presented by Marie Zanowick, Certified Biomimicry Professional at the US EPA.  The talk was called, “Biomimicry in Action: Using Nature-Based Principals to Promote Sustainable Solutions (.wmv file).  You can also download the Powerpoint presentation (with notes).  This talk was well done, but it wasn’t my first introduction to the idea of biomimicry; that came from two TED talks given by Janine Benyus: “Janine Benyus shares nature’s designs” and “Biomimicry in action“.

Essentially, the idea behind biomimicry is to look at the rest of the planet and see how nature deals with specific challenges, then to adapt those ideas for human use.  The results may lead to better ways to capture and store water in dry regions, better ways to manage waste, less toxic alternatives to chemicals currently in use, and much more.  People involved with biomimicry start with a question such as, “How would Nature move through the air?” and then come up with different strategies on how this is done.  Ms. Zanowick’s talk covered the essentials of biomimicry very well, but I believe she also touched on something important when she asked the ‘opposite’ question – namely, “If nothing else in Nature is doing _____, should we?”  It reminded me of the slogan on the ‘3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’, and someone suggested adding a fourth – ‘Reject’.  If a product is over packaged for example, don’t buy it.  If a chemical or process brings harm to living creatures, why use it?  Is there a better way to achieve the same result?

When it comes to ‘being green’, understanding and utilizing biomimicry principles is one tool in the toolbox, but it has vast potential to improve the way we interact with the world.  Some of the species with which we share this little blue marble have been in existence for millions of years, adapting perfectly to their environments.  It would be the height of folly to ignore them.

There are three ‘branches’ to the Biomimicry Group.  The Biomimicry Institute is the not-for-profit organization.  The Biomimicry Guild is the innovative consultancy that seeks to develop solutions to challenges.  One of their projects is ‘Ask Nature – the Biomimicry Design Portal‘.  And next spring the Biomimicry Group will be offering an 8-month biomimicry training program called the ‘Regional Specialist Program (BSpecialty-Biomimicry Specialty Program)‘.  If you’re not familiar with biomimicry and what answers it may have for the challenges your company is facing, I highly recommend checking them out.

Okay, the links for this week include:

That’s it for now. Have a great week!

Hugs,
Mike.

P.S.  The 2011 Random Acts of Kindness Week will be coming up in a couple of months (Feb. 14-20, 2011), and I thought these might give you some ideas to consider:

  1. The Giving Effect – matches donors with organizations
  2. Man bikes 25,000 miles promoting kindness
  3. William Ury: The walk from “no” to “yes” (TED video)- one way to promote peace in the world

Photo of the Month

Hi Folks:

In our last ‘He Says, She Says…‘ post I mentioned that we’re currently house sitting for a friend, and that our new (if temporary) home is only six houses away from the ocean.  Therefore, it only seemed fitting to make November’s ‘Photo of the Month’ an image of the mountains in Washington across the Juan de Fuca Strait.  I was walking by there yesterday and the light was so incredible I had to stop and make a few images.  This one is combined from 7 images using Autopano Pro, and finished in Lightroom.

Juan de Fuca Strait

I think this image turned out pretty well.  I’ll definitely be back.

Now go out and make some photographs!

Mike.

Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Tea Time!

Hi Folks:

In a couple of previous ‘Food‘ posts we’ve discussed some of our favourite coffee shops in and around Victoria.  We thought we’d switch that up a bit and talk about tea instead.

1) Murchie’s Tea and Coffee: Murchie’s has been an icon in Victoria for somewhere around a century.  Located on Government Street, it’s a short walk from the Inner Harbour, and a ‘must stop’ location on many visitors’ agendas.  Murchie’s has a seating capacity of 110, and in addition to fine teas and coffees they have a wonderful lunch menu and many different choices for desserts or accompaniments to ‘afternoon tea’.  There’s also a large shop with loose teas, coffees, spices, teapots, coffeemakers, cups, saucers, kitchenware and more.  The ‘tea rooms’ at the top of the stairs also feature work by local artists.  If you’ve walked out of Munro’s Books (just up the street) with a package under your arm, this is a great place to sit and flip through your purchase! Continue Reading →