Friday, May 20, 2016

A Long Weekend Photography Challenge

Today in Canada is the start of a long weekend. Across the country people will enjoy time off in celebration of Victoria Day. This is held annually on the Monday before May 24,  in recognition of Queen Victoria's birthday.

My husband and I typically take advantage of what will hopefully be good weather on this weekend to get the gardens and yard in shape. Any time left is spent trying to fit as much good stuff in as possible.

We plan to kick off the three days slowly with a pizza date night on the deck following work Friday. Saturday will be yardwork and a trip to the nursery before our daughter arrives with her little girl in tow for a visit. There will be fun and games, followed by a campfire before bed.

Sunday includes a sojourn at the beach, while Monday will be finishing what we started  working feverishly until late afternoon. At this point, we will hook up with the neighbours and try to slow down the clock, having realized that the first long weekend of summer is fading fast.

Of course, part of the fun of any weekend is knowing that plans can change in a minute.  Unexpected guests drop by to take you away from chores; rain showers can put you behind or put a damper on anticipated excursions.  But, as a person who at least likes to think they have all of their ducks in a row,  there has to be some order.  And so I plan.

Since I have given thought to how the next three days are supposed to go, it started me thinking about opportunities for taking some photos too. Inevitably, when a change of scenery happens, when family and friends gather, my camera is at the ready. It struck me, then, that with so many activities on the agenda it might be fun to create my own weekend photography challenge.  Some will be straightforward, some will require a new way to look at an old subject. Then there are those that have been tricky in the past, which I can only hope to improve upon.

I also thought it might be fun to share my list so that others could take on my Victoria Day long weekend photo challenge too.

• Photos of gardens — Flowers are blooming, shrubs are greening.  Fauna is crawling around and flying above. There are mama robins feeding their babies, bees hovering near dewy flowers. There is no end to the photo ops provided by nature.

• People at work — Hands in earth, and the sundry tools of yardwork can offer unique subjects.

• Children — Trying to capture the wonder of little ones as they play and discover life outdoors can result in captivating photos

• Campfires — The combination of flame and darkness is challenging, particularly as you try to capture the social vibe of this favourite summer pastime. It's not just about the fire, but also about the faces of the people around it.

* Fireworks — Capturing spectacular pyrotechnic displays that shine above others' efforts ups your game.

* A day at the beach — Any picture of sand and water is nice, but trying to take it to the next level is where the challenge lies. How can you go beyond what the eye sees?

* Time with friends — Catching the mood through candid photos of people you know well in a social setting can get some terrific results.

So there you have it. Should you choose to accept this challenge I hope you have fun with it. Either way, enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

49 Photos Celebrating PSW Day

As my younger children were looking to careers, I heard a few of their friends one evening discussing the possibility of becoming personal support workers. This profession wasn't mentioned often, most of those interested in healthcare were looking more seriously to nursing and even becoming doctors. But a few felt that they wanted the less glorified, but certainly greatly appreciated, role of PSW.

At the time, I wasn't exactly sure what that role was. It was 15 years ago and it had been my experience that tender loving care came at the hands of nurses.

However, over time I began to understand that this type of support was essential. The ageing population and the desire for many of the elderly to stay in their homes as long as possible, had created a need for assistance that went beyond what nurses and doctors could handle. PSWs fill this important role. They visit the aged client in their residence to offer such support as needed, whether it's making meals, cleaning the house or assisting with personal hygiene.

And when a person must make the move to an assisted living or long-term care facility, the PSWs are there for the hands-on caring required. From supporting the nursing staff to bathing and dressing patients they are the familiar faces upon whom residents come to rely.

When my mother became seriously ill last year just before her 95th birthday, the decision was made that she would remain in the nursing home with the people who had become her family, rather than send her to the isolation of a hospital.

My siblings and I have not been able to say enough about the care she received in her final days.  The staff, most particularly the PSWs, treated her as they would have their own loved one. Gentle and compassionate in their handling of her, and for that matter of us,  their efforts went a long way to easing the sadness. Mom could not have been shown more love and kindness.

It would have been so much different in a hospital where she would have been among strangers.

So, while I've already respected PSWs for the beneficial work they do, it has increased tenfold since those days. To me they are angels.  In recognition of the TLC they offer and in support of PSW Day, I offer this collection of photos: Pictures for PSW Day

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1,250 Illustrations for International Museum Day

It's a lovely experience walking around a museum by yourself.

Not something I've ever done, but I have to say after reading actor Brad Pitt's comment, I started to imagine it and it really does seem like it would indeed be quite a lovely way to while away a few hours.

It's always been in the company of others, but any time I've visited a museum — and they've ranged from those where the exhibits are wax to  those with dinosaur bones — I'm completely in the zone. As it is in no other situation, my mind is focussed yet relaxed.  Sauntering from display to display my thoughts centre around what sits before me and the story that lies behind it.

As of this writing we are celebrating International Museum Day, a time to promote awareness of the challenges faced by museum professionals and the benefits of their facilities to society.

My understanding of these facets actually happened a few years ago when our son worked for a county-run museum. A history major considering a career as an educator, he fell in love with the conservancy aspect of his job and for a time rethought his future.

The availability of work in the field, however, led him back to his original plan. But his summers at the museum are fondly remembered and recognized for the experience and education they provided.

While he was there we too learned more about the trials of the industry, which include lack of funding and lack of space. We also had the pleasure of visiting the facility on rainy summer days to take in new exhibits. The frustrations surrounding the first for the staff were evident as was the excitement surrounding the latter.

We can't live in the past, but it most certainly shouldn't be forgotten. Understanding it is an understanding of life today. There is much to learn from yesterday. So if you haven't already, take in a museum or two this summer and enjoy the lovely experience.

In the meantime for International Museum Day here is a perfect collection of illustrations from

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tips for Photographing Fireworks

Several years ago our daughter got married in a destination wedding up north. Ontario's beautiful French River area was a favourite vacation spot for her and her soon-to-be husband, who actually proposed to her at a campfire there following a day of shooting rapids.

When it came time to select a location for the wedding, her heart was set on this place. While I had problems figuring out the logistics of this for guests I wouldn't have even dreamed of arguing that it wasn't a picturesque setting.

Still relatively unscathed by mankind, it offers a landscape of flowing waters and majestic trees. Its music is the cry of the loon, the bold bass of a bullfrog and assorted birdsong.

The lodge she chose for our stay and the ceremony is rustic elegance perfect for the occasion. Since that day it has been featured in Brides and National Geographic magazines so she was certainly on the right track.

Nothing could have been more perfect than the day, which first featured a leisurely group cruise along the river on a floating dock, powered by a pontoon boat.  The wedding took place before a wall of windows overlooking the water after which guests were treated to a lovely meal.

A real highlight, however, came as a surprise to most during the reception. One of the ushers and his wife, a bridesmaid, had arranged for a fireworks show out on the water. For more than half an hour the sky was lit by a display of pyrotechnics celebrating the start of the couple's new life. If there was any question that the entire stay had been magical this spectacle answered it.

Taking pictures of fireworks requires a little more than point, shoot and cross your fingers.  Many, of course, had cameras out to photograph the fireworks, but only one person really succeeded — the professional hired to capture the weekend.

Since Canadians will be celebrating Victoria Day this weekend, of which fireworks are a part, and given that many other similar events will highlight this summer both here and south of the border in the United States, I decided a few tips might be beneficial.

Here is advice from the pros to help you put the sparkle in your fireworks photos:

National Geographic Photographing Fireworks

Digital Photography School How to Photograph Fireworks

Canon Photographing Fireworks

Nikon Taking Pictures of Fireworks

DIY Photography Tips for Photographing Fireworks

 The Digital Picture Fireworks Photography

Monday, May 16, 2016

1,100 Glorious Fireworks Photos

It's not official yet, but for those of us in this corner of the world, moods will shift to a summer vibe as we mark our first long weekend of the warm season this week.

Forget the fact that there was snow this past Sunday; when Canadians look ahead to Victoria Day weekend, they are daydreaming about toasted marshmallows and campfires, lakeside vacation spots, picnics and barbecues.

Around our house the long weekend tends to be a three-day opportunity to get some tasks done. Flower pots are planted, the garage cleared out to bring home our classic car and accessories are added to the garden. In between we try to fit in a beach visit and touch base with old friends.

Most anticipated, however, is the first campfire of the season. No matter where we've been and what we've been doing,  responsibilities stop and with coolers and chairs in hand we make our way over to the neighbours'. There is talk, and laughter, of course. But underneath it all is the bliss in knowing that this  tradition is just the first of many we will enjoy this summer.

Across the country, people will be spending the weekend in much the same way.  Some areas, however, will be hosting parades.  And of course, there will be fireworks. Ashbridges Bay Park in Toronto has marked the occasion for years with a dazzling display of phyrotechnics.  Viewers are treated to thousands of fireworks before the breathtaking finale.

So, as we look ahead then to our unofficial kick off to the Canadian summer, here are some terrific photos of fireworks: Pictures of Fireworks Fireworks Photos