A new year ahead

08 Jan 2018

It seems that the last year has seen some “holes” in my posting on my blog. Sometimes, the daily chores become overwhelming and get in the way of leisure and healthy living. And unless I now get up at 4am, this doesn’t seem to look different for the new year.

Heavy takeoff after a successful hunt and meal...
Great Grey Owl, Strix Nebulosa, Manitoba, Canada

Should I be making New Year’s Resolutions? Nah, I don’t think so. Those resolutions tend to go to New Year’s Heaven as soon as the Christmas Tree has been put away. New Year’s Eve already breaks a few rules and by the end of January everything is back to what it was before. I think I will be doing it differently this year.

No resolutions, no promises, I’ll just stay the grumpy old self that I have been until today. I will TRY to change some things, but I offer no guarantees to myself. So what is in store for my blog then? I started out by saying that postings were a bit irregular last year. They will probably be a bit irregular this year too. Old business needs to be taken care of, as well as new business ventures are on the horizon. All of them taking their toll on the frequency of the blog posts.

Male Evening Grosbeak. Showing off a little...
Evening Grosbeak

The format of this blog will probably change a little bit too. After all, it has been eight full years of the “same”. Time for a change and we’ll see what will happen. For one, you will be able to order/purchase prints of any picture that you see here on the blog, more on that very soon.

Measuring ice accumulation
Measuring ice accumulation

But one question always returns at the beginning of each year. What will I do with my blog? Should I give it up and do something else? I have seen many a blog being converted into a money machine without taste. And more so, without the previous quality of the images or posts. Should I make this into a tasteless money machine and lose my “faith” in doing quality stuff? I don’t think so.

Multicoloured aurora
Multicoloured aurora

Like I said, soon you will be able to order the pictures on this blog, but I will continue to write the stories as they pop up in my head, not as they should be to sell more pictures. In other words, the blog will not lose its soul of imagery from Manitoba, Holland or Ukraine. Or wherever I may travel to in the future. One thing will remain as it is, though. Only my own photos will be here on the blog, unless it is some screen capture that is needed to explain some point I will want to make.

White Tailed Buck
Proud buck

So why was last year so irregular? Mostly because of other activities. You may have seen an increase in night photography, like Auroras or star shots. That is because my free time to devote to photography seems to be more in the night time than in daytime.

The Principal and the Sidekick...
Railroad through the Whiteshell

This year I will try to devote more time to travels with family and friends, that’s for sure. Even if some of those trips are only for a few days or even a single day, they simply recharge the batteries so much that after that, work seems to be easy and pleasant. A small trip to a provincial park like the Whiteshell or a national park like Riding Mountain will be a nice change of scenery.

Timid Lady Aurora
Timid Lady Aurora

Whenever Lady Aurora will grace us with her presence, night’s rest will be in short supply. Auroras are always a pleasure to see and experience. Being from Europe, auroras are not on the menu at all. At least not where I come from. The closest I ever came to them was in a geography book, as a black and white picture. Hardly enough to give me a good idea of what they were.

When being alone on an island isn't so bad after all...
Nocturnal reflections

Since being in Canada, that has changed and I must say that whenever the aurora is supposed to be active, I will be out in the night, somewhere. There are lots of places that allow for spectacular night photography. Something I would like to share with people who usually cannot experience them first hand.

Aurora Borealis
Aurora Borealis

Of course, wildlife will also be on the photographic menu this year. Last year didn’t seem to be auspicious for bear photography, every time the moment seemed right, weather and insufficient light were on the menu. As a result, no bear pictures, only memories. Birds, however will be there and I will continue to photograph them.

You can hear them everywhere in spring, but seeing them is a different matter...
Wild turkey

Some friends have told me that they cannot be bothered with bird shots and prefer to scroll away to more interesting work. To them I would say: “Sorry guys, but I will continue to shoot birds and present them here”. There will be enough other stuff to show as well. After all, Manitoba has more to offer than a few birds and auroras. Birds with attitude, like this Wild Turkey for example. How could I pass up on that one?

Halo around the sun
Halo around the sun

“Manitoba Skies” will probably also see some new installments. After all, skies in Manitoba are nothing short of spectacular in any season. Even storm-free winter skies can have their surprises and attractions. This winter I am still hoping to shoot the elusive “Sun Pillars” as they can appear in cold skies before sunrise. The last time I caught one of those was in Kiev, Ukraine, some twelve years ago.

Star trails in the night
Star trails in the night

Starry nights? Sure there will be some of those. The Perseids in August for example are always a great night out with friends and fellow photographers. I don’t always catch the falling stars, but the night shots themselves are always worth it. Should it be cloudy, this year, the company of friends will be more than enough to have a great night out.

Summer storms
Summer storms

Will there be storms this year? I sure hope so, at least from some decent distance. Getting caught underneath is for sure an experience to never forget, but perhaps not one to repeat. Stormy skies are best photographed from a safe distance.

Hard wind, small waves
Hard wind, small waves

Wave action from some hard wind is always welcome. A huge lake like Lake Winnipeg (11th largest in the world) can whip up some serious waves. The above example was only a “sample” of what can be on these shores.

Sunrise over the lake
Sunrise over the lake

Another trip to do will be going out on the water with some professionals, like for the trip I had with fishermen back in July. Getting up at 2am to catch them going out on the lake at 3:30 is not exactly the best for me, but the resulting pictures are nothing short of spectacular.

Fishermen
Fishermen

Working men on the lake, always a good subject to shoot. Even more if you are present on the boats and experience the spray of the water on your gear. At least the lake water is not salt, it does relatively little harm to any camera.

Summer skies
Summer skies

What about landscapes? There will be lots of landscapes, as soon as I will get a chance to go out and stay out for some time. Canola fields with clouds and a lonely tree, what more can you imagine for a Manitoba landscape?

Western Prairie fringed-orchid (Platanthera praeclara)
Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

Well, there are 39 different species of wild orchids, for example. The above Western Prairie Fringed Orchid only grows in Manitoba. There may be many more that do not grow here, but this one is unique to Manitoba. What better subject than this to show the beauty of the province?

Ram’s Head Lady Slipper
Ram’s Head Lady Slipper

The Ram’s Head Lady Slipper is one of the most coveted orchids here in the province. It is not very common and will flourish only for barely a week. So, little time to find them and even less to shoot them. The above one was pointed out by a gardener charged to mow the tall grass around the parking lot of the Wetlands Reserve. When I questioned him why he didn’t mow all of the grass, he pointed out this little orchid. It is protected, so cutting it with a lawn mower would have been punishable by law.

Wild raspberries, nature’s sweetness
Wild raspberries, nature’s sweetness

But overall, birds, nature and some personal shots will be here, if we can find the time for that. Eating wild raspberries was an unexpected little pleasure. They were delicious. But we do not simply eat everything we see. We also feed birds if they are inclined to eat out of our hands.

Trust
Chickadee

Chickadees are not protected and feeding them is not a crime. Even better, these birds are so friendly that I had to push them off of my camera in order to take pictures of them. Talk about being used to people Smile.

Grey Jay
Grey Jay

Another very friendly bird is the Grey Jay or Whiskey Jack. This bird is still on the nomination to become Canada’s National Bird, mainly for it’s friendly character.

Will this be all you can expect from here? Nope, I have many more ideas, but revealing them before I even get a chance to check their possibilities is not a good idea. You will have to wait and see.

Coppertone. I guess that's what you get when shooting at night in the city...
Coppertone Tree

One thing is sure, lonely snowy trees will be part of the pictures and subjects.

So, until next time, have a Happy New Year!