Celebrating Today 🌎 Every Day

Hi Folks:
The other day a good friend sent us a link to a New York Times Opinion article titled: “What Is the Plastic in Our Bodies Doing to Us?” Essentially the article covered the likelihood that you have micro- and/or nano-plastics in your body’s tissues, along with the suggestion that this may be a problem but nobody really knows for sure. Our friend asked for our thoughts. Mike wrote the following, and Marcia suggested we post it here:
I find articles like this sad – not because they’re untrue, but because their only purpose seems to be to instill a vague sense of unease, to add to people’s feeding craze for fear and to simultaneously instill a sense of powerlessness. There’s nothing you can do about it, may as well give up trying… 
Nearly a century ago we exposed ourselves (and everything else) to DDT. WE didn’t stop there of course, but added DDE, chlordane, heptichlor, malathion, parathion and thousands of others. We invented fission energy and used it to annihilate each other. We created acid rain, PCB/  BPA/ pthalates and other xenoestrogens, thalidomide… the list goes on and on. 
In 1965 James Lovelock presented the Gaia hypothesis, which suggested that the earth is an autopoeitic network. He was shouted down by scientists around the world, even though people who live close to the earth have known this for millennia. We have discovered bacteria that eat plastic. We have seen how Sacred Mother Life adapts and changes, every day. 
I still remember my mother telling me that when she was a girl she told my grandmother there was no point in getting new shoes for school because the world was going to end soon. I believe Noam Chomsky would put that under the title ‘Manufacturing Consent’. 
For myself, I share news that highlights positive action, new breakthroughs, new developments. Some may consider this ostrich syndrome, but I disagree. It’s not trying to hide from or outrun the dark. It’s about choosing light, every time. In any moment one can only focus on one thing. Mother Teresa is famously quoted as saying that she would never attend an anti-war rally, but to invite her to a pro-peace rally. 
As Seth said, “A generation that hates war won’t bring about peace. Only a generation that loves peace can do that.” Among Native Peoples there’s a saying that if you had a community of ___ people, and everyone in that community cared for everyone else, there would be no disease. 
We can’t change how or what other people think and feel (no matter how hard we try) but we are all teachers for each other. Everyone has a role; for Marcia and me it’s to create a garden where those who find it can stop and rest. 

Can you imagine a world where all of the news shared by media was positive, where people responded kindly to each other? We do, every day.


Sending love and hugs your way. Feel free to spread it around!! 

An Unusual Lightroom Problem… And Solution

Hi Folks:

Last fall we were at Hatley Gardens at Royal Roads University and (among other works) I made some bracketed images for building HDR panoramas. Unfortunately, due to a technical error (the nut behind the camera) I violated one of the basic tenets of making panoramas: always use manual exposure. As such, for one of my panorama images (made from two bracketed sets of exposures), the right group of images came out visibly lighter than the left. Compare the large Douglas fir in both images:

In current versions of Lightroom one can make HDR panoramas in one step, but in my older version I have to do this in two steps. No matter. The challenge was that when I joined the two HDR composites together, it was easy to see where the join between them is:

What to do? Fortunately, Lightroom has a built-in solution, although it’s not well known. In the Library module one selects the group of images involved (two in this case) and moves to the Develop module. Under Settings, about ½ way down the menu, click on Match Total Exposures. We did a blog post on this back several years ago (Match Total Exposures in Lightroom) if you want to know more. Basically the tool works only with the Exposure slider, and – using the most selected image as a baseline – adjusts the exposure of the other selected image(s) to match. In this case it turned down the exposure on the image on the right by ¾ stop:

Comparing the above two images you can see that they’re much more in line with each other. This time when I combined the two into a panorama the results were much more even:

Finally, after setting the white balance and pushing the image around a bit we come to the final output:

Japanese Garden, Royal Roads University

Okay, that’s it for now. Go out and make some photographs!


Photo of the Month – July

Hi Folks:

End of the month again, and that means it’s time for my favourite image made in the past month.  This month is a little different because the image of choice was sort of a collaborative effort between three people: Marcia, Freeman Patterson, and me.  Granted, my input was limited and Freeman Patterson’s was purely inspirational, because this is Marcia’s image, made with her cell phone camera.  For some inexplicable reason Marcia doesn’t share my fascination with f/stops, ISO and shutter speeds, but she has a very good eye.  To that end, I borrowed a copy of Freeman Patterson’s “Photography and the Art of Seeing” from the library for her.  It remains one of my favourite photography books of all time, and it’s now one Marcia appreciates too.  It’s changed the way she looks at the image in her viewfinder.  As I said, she has a good eye.

This image was taken at the rose garden at the Empress Hotel here in Victoria.  You can see some more images of Marcia’s, made the same day, here: Empress Rose Garden.


Now go out and make some photographs!


Photo of the Month – Spring Flowers

Hi Folks:

At the end of every month I create a post with my favourite image of those I’ve taken in the past month. However, since this site belongs to both Marcia and me, this month I’m going to break with tradition and post one of Marcia’s images instead.   For some strange reason she doesn’t have the same fascination with shutter speeds, f/stops and depth of field tables that I do, but she has a good eye.  This image was made yesterday, using Marcia’s new cell phone camera, while we were walking around the Rockland district of Victoria. I admit I did push it around in Lightroom a little bit, but she nailed the lighting and composition to start with and all I did was accent it. It’s an image of a group of hellebores, or ‘winter roses’ as they’re sometimes called. These were growing in one of the gardens on the Lieutenant Governor’s grounds.Winter RosesSpring flowers. January. I’ll get used to it eventually…

Now go out and make some photographs!


The Dangers of Planting Bulbs

Hi Folks:

I thought that subject heading might cause a few people to scratch their heads in wonder, so permit me a moment to explain.  First of all, I’ve had a love affair with the earth since I was a boy living in the woods in Quebec.  I’d come home from school, drop my books on the kitchen counter, yell a quick hello and I was gone until dark.  To this day, the ‘woods’ is my true home.  As such I’ve loved gardening for a long time too, both indoors and out.  The first apartment Marcia and I had together was above the double garage, attached to the main house.  We had a large picture window in the living room and we had so many plants that several visitors to our landlady asked her if she had a greenhouse!

Marcia’s often said that all of my plants want to be trees.  In one home we had a 15-foot cathedral ceiling and we had 4 plants over 10-feet tall, including FRED, our Christmas tree.  In our guest bedroom we had a hibiscus plant that was basically an 8-foot diameter ball that took up half the room.  We planted a Brugmansia in a pot, expecting it (as per the image that came with it) to grow about 2-feet high and have a number of white flowers.  Ours grew 6 feet in a couple of months and had one flower that was nearly 2-feet long.  It was a night bloomer, and every evening all four floors of the house were filled with the most amazing scent.  In our last place together we had two poinsettias that re-bloomed 14 months after we got them.  One of them put out 24 blossoms!  So, where’s  the danger in all of this you ask?  Ah, I was just getting to that. Continue Reading →

The Magic Garden

Hi Folks:

There’s actually a book called ‘The Magic Garden’ by Gene Stratton-Porter (published in 1927) which I highly recommend, but this isn’t about that book.

Today Marcia and I took a trip out to Langford, en route to Royal Roads University.  Neither of us had been there before.  ‘Our’ son Nick is attending there, and by next year he will have Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication.  Proud?  Well, maybe just a little.

We took a shortcut to get there, and if you’ve read our previous posts, you’ll have some idea of what that means.  First we had to stop at Lee Valley Tools, simply because they have a store in Langford.  If you know Lee Valley Tools you’ll understand what I mean  here, and if you don’t, well, there may be hope for you yet.  They’ve come a long way from having a counter at the back of a warehouse in Ottawa.  Then we had to stop for lunch, at a little place called the Chocolat au Lait Café.  It was the name that drew us in at first, but the fact that she had free sample truffles didn’t hurt either!

Of course by this time it was starting to get dark, and we figured we’d best be on our way.  Traveling via pedestrian taxi, we hit the Galloping Goose Trail and headed west… for about 2 km, I think.

We arrived at Hatley Castle just as the sun was tucking itself in behind the mountains and the last stray bits of golden light were reflecting off the upper stones of the castle.  After a short pause to collect our jaws from the ground, we continued on, feeling the pull deeper into the magic as we walked.  Being a Saturday night the campus was quiet, with only a few students wandering from building to building.  Other than the trees and the peafowl, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

We entered through the gate into the Italian Garden as the darkness continued to creep in around us.  Shadows lay deep on the ground and we wandered slowly down the paths, stopping to talk to the trees here and there, sharing hugs with those that felt so inclined.  There are some huge red cedars, and some wonderful douglas fir trees as well.  In the Japanese Garden the sounds of running water were all around us; this contrasted beautifully with the utter stillness from the rest of the park.  We were ‘alone’ with this beauty and the night.

There are really no words to describe the beauty of the park, so I’m not even going to try.  I can see myself returning there, again and again, in all seasons… bringing cameras on some occasions, a notepad on others, and sometimes, just my playfulness.

We finally returned to the gate at the top of the garden, only to find it locked.  Now, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened to us.  The last time we were in another park in another city, and on the ‘wrong’ side of a fairly wide but not too deep creek.  The gate was locked at the first bridge we came to, and we hurried off to the second.  As we walked I was thinking about how we could climb around the barrier or whether or not I could carry Marcia across the water on my shoulders without both of us falling in.  For her part she was silently planning my imminent demise – ‘short, effective and painful’ was how she worded it.  Being a salmon stream she was wondering whether the body might be written off as the victim of a bear attack…  Fortunately, we got to the bridge to discover that someone had left it unlatched for us.

Tonight, while I was wondering about climbing the fence or circling around out of the gardens by a more circuitous route, she simply picked up the phone located beside the gate (for just such a purpose, according to the sign posted there), and called campus security.  The guard on the other end of the line was kind enough to provide instructions on how we could find a way out, but we’ve been sworn to secrecy.  The very best part was that once we passed through to the ‘outside’, right where we were we found two wing feathers from one of the peafowl.  Feathered angels, guiding our steps.  I should mention here that we have a whole collection of feathers, from hummingbird feathers to those of raptors and herons.  Moulting may be a matter of course for birds, but to us each one is a precious gift.  Arriving as they did made our magical night in the garden, perfect.



Hatley Park, Japanese Garden

Hatley Park, Japanese Garden