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Entries are often works in progress that take a while to edit.     Mostly about windsurfing, photography, and wandering about…


Scroll down for older entries.


Recent videos…

Droning around Long Beach.


Some video footage along the shoreline and elevation at 500 feet at Lasalle.


The Nanny Drone ~ Do You Know Where Your Children Are?   (New Video)


Sailing to Dunkirk NY and back home to Port Colborne…


Going very fast on my 105 Quatro and 6.3 Ezzy Tiger…


Going fast on my 161 L Mistral Explosion and 6.3 m2



        Sept. 29th     Hello Newfoundland.

We found an apartment here in St.John's with all the comforts of home and easy parking.   Three nights living out of our suitcases in B&Bs had become a bit of an uncomfortable hassle.   With a full kitchen, huge bedroom, a complete bathroom with a jacuzzi tub, right in downtown St. John's, the car parked conveniently just outside, plus a Sobeys food store with an adjoining wine/beer/liquor outlet just 2 blocks away, it's way, way better than any retirement home imaginable.   Out living independently on the economy with the ocean in clear sight is the only life for us - (two somewhat mature, elderly, fable mineded, oald fahrt torists as they say with a grin in the pubs 'round here!)

We've finally settled into a wonderful routine of eat, sleep, shop, travel, sightsee, happy hour, and talking to fellow travellers.   Friendly, helpful locals are the best and go out of their way with suggestions, directions, and all kinds of information.

All that said I also discovered two new delightful lagers that are literally over the top.   Traditional Black Horse Beer (Molsons) is #2 in provincial sales, and Iceberg (#4 best in sales here) - brewed locally using 25,000 year old water from nearby icebergs.   Iceberg Beer is a refreshing lager, brewed by Quidi Vidi Brewing Company right here in St. John's.   The brewery buys chunks of the huge glacial icebergs either grounded or floating about from fishermen and locals.   And to top it off Iceberg comes in a clear, dark blue bottle.   A true collectors' item.   The someday to be found, water-worked beach glass, from the bottles will also be something to add to the shell collection and skipping stones…

If that's not reason enough to come here for a visit then check out the rugged coastline, quaint villages, incredible museums, galleries, local language and expressions, odd town names, friendly locals, and amazing seafood.

We have thoroughly enjoyed fish & chips every day since we arrived.   Not making this up.   The cod is absolutely fresh, sweet, and tasty.

You simply won't believe the steep grades heading up and away from the ocean and the odd, irregular layouts of many streets.   Not sure how they manage driving about safely during the winter here in St. John's…

For you windsurfers Newfoundland as a whole has the strongest winds of any Canadian province.   However, the weather is quite unpredictable.   A warm and sunny day can turn cold and drizzly fast.   Or otherwise.   That's why locals here often say: "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes."

Fog, rain, bright sun, wind, heat, humidity, hail, cold, and snow, can happen in any given day throughout the year.   Windsurfing would be great here is it wasn't for the frigid 40oF - 45oF summer water temperatures what with icebergs floating around until early August.   The larger of the many inland lakes hold some promise for sailboards and kiters.

The rest of the week will pass way too quickly for our liking but we will hopefully cover much of the scenic south-east coastline and experience more of this Atlantic province's culture and history.   Labrador is now on our list of must see, except during mosquito and black fly season.

Aloha!






        Sept. 22nd     Our last race of the season was dedicated to the memory of John Beck who we sadly lost this past summer.

The Memorial Cup Race was a toss up either west to Mohawk Point or east to Point Abino depending on the more favourable wind conditions.

The North-East forecast for Sunday moved the race start east.

The day was a beautiful.   A fresh breeze, sunshine, and blue sky dominated the morning for the start.   We were able to fly the drifter a few times and had the spinnaker ready just in case the home run was downwind.

We are packing for a flight to St. Johns later this week to sightsee some of the Rock.   Originally we had hoped to make this an autumn road trip in our beloved 911 but time is a bit tight.   Our children are coming in October.   Helping put the sailboat away for the winter is near, and with an upcoming windsurf adventure in the Outer Banks we opted to fly and rent a car this time.

The air conditioner is finally silent, and lake temperatures are falling slowly.   Wind is always in the forecast for September and October so I'm sure a few good days will be missed.   Not sure how our server connection will work in Newfoundland but we'll try to upload a few pics from time to time, at least for the main page.







        Sept. 18th     Sailtrim.

It's interesting to note the similarities when trimming sails on windsurf rigs and on big sailboats.

Outhaul and downhaul are the main wind adjustments on our windsurfing rigs once we nail the correct sail size.   It's pretty much the same thing on a sailboat including getting the sails optimized in wind though furling or reefing.   Serious racers often change sails to suit the wind like windsurfers.

Rigging, cleats, winches, cranks, stoppers, and pulleys are essential on a sailboat so sail adjustments can be made while sailing a race course with wind and direction being the constantly changing variables.   Once a windsurf sail is set it stays untouched until we can get back to shore (or a safe place) to make adjustments or switch to another size.

Sailing can sometimes be a technical nightmare what with changing wind, waves, traffic coming and going, a huge book of changing rules, and creative thinking going on everywhere.

All that aside, there's absolutely nothing quite like the exhilaration and joy involved in being driven by the wind in open water on any given day.














        Sept. 16th     Waiting for wind.

It isn't all about raging wind, riding waves, and flying high.   Sometimes it's all about patience.

In the past four days I've been skunked three times.   My choice.   My fault.

Wrong location.   Promised forecasts didn't come through.   Pretty sure the wind report said kilometres/hour, not knots.   Hey, they both start with the letter K.

Veni, vidi, vici.   I came, I saw, I conquered.   Julius Caesar wasn't a windsurfer.

We go, we hope, sometimes we wait.   Hapless and jinxed we glance furtively out at the lake, at the motionless tree tops, and up into the sky.   This frustration must occur in other outdoor high energy recreational pursuits.   OK, lawn bowling, fishing, and rock collecting are the only three that come to mind so far.

Sometimes I'm too ashamed to drive all the way home and tell the truth so I hang around even longer further aggravating the situation.

Hi.   My name is John.   And I'm a wind junky.

So, what happened to Mr. Positive?








        Sept. 13th     Seek and ye shall find.

The ENE wind ultimately perfected at Lakeside Park yesterday afternoon.   The waves were a joy on the way out and even better riding back toward the lighthouse.   The warm water was a bonus.

NE/ENE on Lake Ontario's south shore is much the same as my more familiar SW wind the north shore of Lake Erie.   Except the waves run cleaner from the longer fetch and prevailing SW on Lake Erie.   I spent most of my life windsurfing that beautiful SW tack.

The day at Lakeside became a complete surprise when the wind finally stabilized and hung in there.   The 105L and the 85L boards had switched about several times with the 6.32 and the 5.5m2 sails trying to make it right.

This wonderful session ended after 90 perfect minutes on the 105L/5.5m.   Everyone's sails ands kites were filled with more than enough wind.

Brenda took a few pictures on the water yesterday to help save the joy.   (Thank-you!)   Looking forward to seeing the smile on my face.










        Sept. 12th     You can't stop the wind, so let it fill your sail.

Much like the waves.   If they pose an issue then learn to use them.   As John Zinn said, "You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf"…

Attitude is everything.   And much more, it's ultimately the only thing.

The hope to remain vibrant for just a few more years.   To have another season though which to live and another into which look forward fills all hope and pulls out whatever needed effort still beats strong in all that might be left.

The best is yet to come.

Maybe not perfection or le dernier cri, but simply put, the very best that it can be.

Ka-ching.







        Sept. 11th     When there might be too much colour.

Maybe consider shooting black and white when colour saturation changes a photo.   The setting sun changed the white hulls and sails to a warm golden red/orange/rose in the shot below.

Digital cameras permit this feature either while shooting or in a post-edit (conversion) program like Lightroom or Photoshop

Black and white (film) was a way of life for some photographers who shot for newspapers and magazines thoughout the past century.   It still works.

Here's a compilation using several different coloured filters showing the difference they make to a post-edit b&w shot.

From left to right (Row 1) yellow, red, blue, green.   (Row 2) max white, neutral density.

There are an unlimited number of filters and filter combinations available.   Maybe gets a bit too complicated for my liking.

















        Sept. 8th     The ultimate Café Racer.

Half a century ago the Triumph Bonneville might have been one of the leading contenders for this acknowledgment.   Or maybe a BSA Gold Star or a Norton Commando.   There were and currently are many other worthy machines.   Ok, maybe not a single cylinder orange BSA 441 Victor Special with a compression release to help keep you from getting kick started over the handlebars.   Picky, picky, picky.

Today, the Ace Cafe London, UK, is still the place for bikers to meet and eat.   Plus they will build you a motorcycle to go with your fries, mushy pees, and a pint.

In my opinion, the Ace 904 S is one of the ultimate Café Racers.   Simply start with a Triumph Thruxton.   And let the Ace Cafe engineers and mechanics go from there.   It turns better, stops better, and looks better.   Not to mention it will easily rocket you ton up from cafe to cafe, if that's your cup of tea old chap.

Being wind and board deprived three years ago and in London was somewhat challenging.   I actually pretended to windsurf on the Thames by Battersea Park down from the Albert Bridge in Chelsea.   Desperation creates moments like this.

But seeing a beautiful swarm of Café Racers roar into the Royal Hospital Open Ground at the Chelsea Auto Legends helped to make life right again.

The Ace Cafe London is on my absolutely must do list next trip.   In the meantime my two Quatros will help launch me into the fast lane and open the sunroof in my head.

Ton up anyone?


The Ace 904 S reviewed and ridden by Lauren Richards


Thruxton 900 Coffee Run   (Video shot in California - a fun ride on a stock Thruxton)


Ace Cafe London


Ton Up Vintage Slideshow…


Five good reasons to own a Cafe Racer!


Top 10 Cafe Racers (2014)












        Sept. 6th     Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Windsurfing some days doesn't come easy.   On Friday, Lake Ontario (at LaSalle, St. Catharines) turned over in the gusty east wind pushing against the current at the canal, (a condition known as upwelling).   The water temperature dropped rapidly.   It actually felt frigid as the year round 400 F depth was forced upwards to displace and mix with the warm, summer surface.   Plus, it was hugely gusty.   Abysmal.   No fun for this old guy.   I've always maintained that something is often terribly wrong windsurfing at LaSalle.

Thank goodness for a strong, personal philosophy that helps me overcome and accommodate negative environmental issues like these.   Having read Motorcycle Maintenance five decades ago (and a few other books like it) I was ultimately able to overcome my discomfort and love of the moment.   Ok, it was later on the drive home, but I did it.

Personal peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.   (One of Richard Dyer's quotes.)   And yes, that helped a bit too.

Back to the Zen of it all.

"The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself."

Robert Pirsig wrote that, and it went more like this, "The study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself.   Working on a motorcycle, working well, caring, is to become part of a process, to achieve an inner peace of mind.   The motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon.   The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself."

Most of us are capable of seeing the beauty of technology whether it be a motorcycle repair, a tuning correction, an epoxy patch over a crack, learning to waterstart, or a rig adjustment needed to improve sailing in high wind.

The conceptual framework in all this can be easily aligned to a windsurf existence.   Cherish, understand, and take care of your gear.   Cherish, understand, and take care of yourself.   Sail well, live well.   Enjoy this working journey that we have chosen to take.   Mindful maintenance of everything we own including ourselves will hugely improve the quality of our lives.

As in Zen, the secret here is to become one with whatever the activity we do, to engage in it fully, and to see and appreciate all the details that we can.   Whether it be washing dishes or chopping wood.   Whatever, anything, and everything worth doing.   Simply take the time to do it right with all your mind, heart, and spirit.

Persig's Motorcycle Maintenance is one of those books that should be a close part of our resource reference material both in our memory, and nearby on our shelf for a refresher from time to time.

Lasalle for me is quite simply an on-going, personal challenge.   Kinda like black flies, mosquitos, acid indigestion, hangovers, and telemarketers.   An addiction of sorts.   Maybe like an imposed marriage gone awry.   You probably get the idea.   That said I am constantly reminded, by a good friend, that most of the best windsurfers we know learned to sail at LaSalle.   They learned to overcome the tougher conditions from a predominant south-west wind driven erratically along the escarpment, and LaSalle's close waves and chop generally set on the opposite tack compared to the North Shore of nearby Lake Erie.   (And just maybe I should keep my negative thoughts to myself and get my sorry ass back out there till I get it right).

So hang in there Bucko.   And maybe nod a polite yes and be thankful for an elusive blessing hiding somewhere in it all, waiting to be discovered.

Sigh.


Read a few parts of his book here - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.









        Sept. 5th     The light conditions, strong wind, and sky/clouds made for some interesting compositions during the past two races.

Almost surreal sometimes.   It's huge fun to shoot into different conditions when the exposure is a bit uncertain, or the composition captures an ongoing dialogue or a unique shared moment.














        Sept. 2nd     Saddened by the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer.

He was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago.   He died this past Saturday night in Maui, Hawaii, on August 29th.

I watched his motivation TV specials and read most of his inspirational books.

His words and messages will be remembered.


Some of his quotes worth remembering…


Same quotes in a cleaner, simpler outline…




        Aug. 31st     Karma, payback, or something else?

So all through the 80s and early 90s I watched windsurf videos.   Pretty much nonstop.   Short Board Technique, countless videos of Robby Naish, Bjorne Dunkerbeck, annual Neil Pryde promotions, hundreds of minutes of instructional moves, plus exotic great wind destinations like Hawaii, the Gorge, Margarita, and Bonnaire.   And much more.   You get the idea.   I was a complete watch-anything windsurf-junkie.

Our state of the art Sony HI-FI Stereo 4 Head SLV-N50 VHS VCR Player Video Cassette Recorder coupled to a 18“ Sony Trinitron was pressed into endless service.   And it was wired to a pair of kick ass Acoustic Research AR-2ax studio speakers.   All enough to make your eyes glaze over and leave you near speechless.   Non stop windsurfing when I was home, with no wind in the forecast, and any free time.

I loved the Sony's sharp, crisp definition as Robbie and Pete rode those Giants at Ho'okipa and the booming sound of the waves rolling under my two agile icons taking great leaps and making tight turns.

We finally upgraded to a bigger screen, and a DVD player.   I was personally horrified when we sold that still working TV at a garage sale to a freaky guy sporting a huge blond afro and a sloppy, oversize, tangerine coloured MoPar T-shirt.   With his tape measure in hand, and a set of Mechanic's Illustrated plans titled How to Convert Old TVs Into a Fish Tank he truly believed that he had reached the mother load with my beloved Sony in clear view.   Not making this up.   No negotiating for a lower price with this creep who failed to recognize the precious memories and profound moments this old friend had shared with me.   Enough.   I'm choking up again.

Moving ahead through 25 years.   Cooking shows began to get to play in our home and take over.   Happy Hour and early evening were both shared and celebrated with the likes of Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, outrageous reruns of Graham Kerr, Emeril, Yan Can Cook, Alton Brown, and the too many others brainwashing and clouding my carve jibe and fast tack routines.   Worst of all my windsurfing began to suffer.   And to add the the fray, I began to gain weight.

BAM! (Emeril)…   "Stir it!   Stir it!   Stir it!", from the ever frenetic, say it three times, Yan (Can Cook).   Endless Cooking 101.   My body thrived but my sadly deprived, visual mental need for wind, wave, epoxy, mylar/XPly stimulation suffered terribly.   A mild depression settled over me and my wind driven dreams that winter.   Memories of Naish and Cabrina began to fade.

May be a kind of payback with a simmering hint of Karma in the exhaust fan from the new Jenn-Air down-draft cooktop and whir of our first generation, top-rated, Vitamix Professional Series.

Today, the Cooking Channel still holds a priority place in our day.   I sometimes wear my Guy Fieri wig-cap backwards sipping a bourbon manhattan, talking Flavour Town, Kulinary Gangsta, and Shut The Front Door, as we shuck corn, chop olives, and thaw the lamb burgers while the barbie heats up.   My heart is finally all in.   Honest.   Well OK, maybe mostly.

But in actual truth, from deep in my heart of hearts, being denied the opportunity to review all those windsurf moves at the end of the day has had a slightly serious, detrimental affect on my overall windsurf-wellbeing.     I may actually be slightly permanently damaged a bit.   But the joy of celebrating great cuisine and seeking out nearby restaurants featured in You Gotta Eat Here has another near equal reward.   For sure!   Sigh.

Who cares if I only get to watch windsurf technique and new moves on one of our computers late at night with the volume turned way down.   Not me.   Save your pity for accident recovering kiters or SUP paddlers with tennis elbow.   Oh yeah.   In this world it's really all about being mature enough to rise above any media frustrations and finding joy in letting a loved one control the channel changer and taking precious gear storage space both in her garage and basement for the bread machine, a freezer, wine storage, shelves filled with high-end cookware, cans of San Marzano tomatoes and the like, gourmet sauces, and more.   Argh.

Hey, I'm ok.   My gear-filled, deeply cherished van still sits outside, alone, aging, vulnerable, exposed to the harsh elements, and like me, waiting for some decent wind action, real or recorded.

Cheers.




        Aug. 30th     What about all the shark attacks in North Carolina this year?

It's simply all a matter of mistaken identity according to Paul Barrington, director of husbandry and operations at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, NC.

He notes that North Carolina has had an unusually hot summer this year, with temperatures rising above 100 degrees in June.   More people are going to the beach to escape the asphalt-melting misery.   And they're spending more time in the water.   So, more a case of shark interactions, not shark attacks according to Paul.   Hmmm, is this a PR hype?   But other experts in the same field of expertise agree with and support his view of the situation.

The link below helps to explain the reason why this year has had an unusually high number of shark bites.   It all boils down to simple maths.   More people in surf means more shark encounters.

The article also helps clear up what to avoid when swimming along the eastern coast or the Outer Banks.

In all of the 30+ years that we have been travelling to Cape Hatteras to windsurf we seldom run into any sharks, barracuda, rays, snakes or the like.   These sea creatures are all there but keep to themselves and away from human activity especially in shallow Pamlico Sound where we windsurf.   The deeper channels that have been dredged for fishing boats and marinas attract sharks and rays and most of us try hard to avoid sailing in these traffic trenches whenever possible.

Bullsharks in particular deliver their offspring into the warm shallow Sound to ensure their early life is easy and safe so more can return to the ocean as adults.   They are a nuisance mostly to fishermen who find them caught in their nets.   By the way, it worthy to remember that adult bullsharks can easily survive in less than a metre of water.

So, it's business as usual for us along the Outer Banks Of North Carolina.   Just follow the guidelines.

        1. Don't swim at dawn or after dark, when sharks are known to be most active.

        2. If you get cut, stay out of the water.   Note that sharks can sense blood up to 3 miles away.
        Also note that urine, feces, and any discharge or disturbance of anything from any creature can be sensed for 1 mile and can arouse curiosity.
        Sharks can move left or right to locate prey guided by their nostrils and have excellent hearing under normal circumstances.

        3. If you see a lot of small bait fish swimming around, or spot dolphins (which, like sharks, eat the bait fish) get out of the water.
        Baitfish could be a sign that sharks are in the area.

        4. Stay a decent distance from piers, where fishing bait and fish guts (from cleaned fish) smell like ambrosia to the average bull shark.

        5. If you have the choice, swim in the Sound.   Conversely, avoid inlets, where the frenetic activity of estuaries meeting the sea
        both attracts sharks and makes it difficult for them to see and hear clearly.

I Googled the part about - Does peeing in water (even in a wetsuit) attract sharks?   Yes, it does.   Darn.



North Carolina Shark Attacks Explained








        Aug. 29th     It currently seems that the past eight weeks have been worth the effort converting exclusively to shooting in camera RAW and using 2015 Lightroom and Photoshop CC as post-edit tools…

Images captured have generally improved and the time to get from camera to website has been cut in half by developing an efficient, post-edit workflow routine.

Using an external hard drive for storage and retrieval works well.   And shooting only in RAW (.CR2) instead of .JPEG fine takes a bit more memory card and hard drive space but file storage, and workflow have ultimately benefited from this one change.

In summary the image quality, exposures, and overall capture, have all upgraded to some degree in my opinion.   Especially noted are those more difficult and previously elusive back lit shots (below).   So, quite safe in saying, it's all a part of another photog growth spurt.

Nice.










        Aug. 28th     It's mostly about going fast.

When asked about why windsurfers need a van, get a bit panicky when the wind is up, and travel to windy destinations for a few hours, two weeks, or a month there's one simple answer that works well.   It's fun to sail fast.

Perhaps The Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC, offers most everything that we need and want.   Flat water blasting, wind, waves, warm shallow water, and beaches galore.   It's pretty much a windsurfing paradise and it's only 14 hours south of Niagara Falls.

Being able to capture a few go fast moments on video helps to better explain what our sport is all about.   Have a quick look below.   BTW - The 2 minute videos are not speeded up.   The footage was taken this past April on a GoPro Hero 4 (black) with a few edits in Final Cut…

Like so many other unfinished projects these two vids have been waiting for some free time to surface.



From The Windline Into The Fastlane…


My 161 L Mistral Explosion perfectly mated with a 6.3 m Ezzy Tiger in higher wind…




        Aug. 27th     We maybe, just maybe, found our rhythm and our place in the fleet last evening.

Only three of us on board.

With a reef in the main and some of the jib held back we had our 6 ton Pegasus on her side in the waves and pushing 8+ knots in the near race cancelling 18 knots blowing out of the west.

What a rush.   And we mostly held our own heading to the mark downwind and sometimes stalled in Zulu's dirt.   Our huge keel kept us steady after we rounded the mark and we not only pulled ahead but maintained a gradual time advantage as we headed to the finish.

Our Performance Handicap (PHRF) is the time we have to give everyone else in the fleet at the finish.   It was an amazing moment when we heard the horns for us and others tick into the seconds we needed to take a first.

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.   Somehow our universe unfolded as it should for the first time in two years.

Maybe just the right wind.   Maybe just a great start position.   Maybe the dice were shaved a bit in our favour.   Maybe we finally had our shiza together.   Nice.

And the pics worked out well to boot.   Dark and white clouds popped out in the photos creating good contrast.   Blue skies abounded.   Boats heeled over in the higher wind and huge rollers crowned with whitecaps and spray added nicely to the fray.

Life is good.












        Aug. 23rd     You gotta have a big board for light wind, and much, much more…

My recently acquired and much beloved, decade old, 161 L Mistral Explosion is a great board for those 10 - 13 knot days.   Even better with a lighter 6.3 m2 sail.

Much easier to uphaul and even waterstart on occasion than those bigger, heavier, X-ply monster sails, geared for light wind but built to withstand hand grenades and strafing from low flying military aircraft during bombing runs.   At least that's how my aging body perceives them.

Driven only by a deep love of planing in any conditions this wonderful board is a joy, a blessing, and pure fun with any sail.   Teach kids the basics with a 3.5 m2 sail.   Work on moves with a 4.7 - 6.3…   Or blast about in 10 - 12 knots with that 7.5m ultra light wind Zephyr.   It can do it all.   And with ease.

We did some footstep placement repositioning during our last trip to Hatteras.   So now the choice of either very fast, or highly manoeverable is all in its game.   This small boardshop investment (Fox Watersports, Buxton) was a good move to accommodate everyone/anyone, including old timers, racers, intermediates, or beginners.

And best of all it easily fits inside or on top of the Dodge Caravan because of its shorter length.

I wouldn't sell this board under any circumstances or for any reason so leave your wallets locked in your dash, and remember that I'm deaf to any of your useless pleadings.

And at the end, kinda like the Vikings, it will serve as my last launch as a flaming arrow ignites my WD40 soaked funeral pyre.   Slowly, I drift away, engulfed in flames, headed vaguely toward Dunkirk, NY (or Valhalla) from Morgan's Point.   All in a light offshore N wind, at sunset, with no fear of being stopped by any coast guard, stealth police boat, or volunteer rescue service, who if by chance came near, as sea faring comrades, would simply doff their caps as my charred, smouldering, ashy remains drift by.   And, attracted by the fish oil based propellant (scented in the WD40), a large host of curious marine creatures follow along reverently in all this, my final entourage.   Nice.

Make your own plans!

Cheers!


Video   Going fast on the 161 L Mistral Explosion…













        Aug. 20th     Posed close-ups and portraits (17mm - 74mm) are generally a bit more difficult to capture than stand-away candid shots.

Especially when there are a larger number of people.   The chances of someone closing their eyes, or maybe glaring, or having a silly look increases with the numbers in the group.   Always take at least three to five shots in these situations.

For larger groups take a few minutes or as much time as required to set up and compose their placement to get them relaxed and better positioned.

There's sometimes a resistance that shows when the camera is close up and in your face.   Close family, like my shots below, are generally a good place to practise and get confidant.

But, the shots can be great when you relax and let a few shots slip by, smile, or laugh a bit, and pretend that nothing really matters.

And all that said, weddings, birthdays, and the like are usually somewhat easier because everyone is having a good time, the moments are precious, and (most) everyone is working at being compliant.

(Aside: Both of these last two posts were a part of an email conversation when asked about which two lenses are a better purchase choice for general use.)













        Aug. 19th     Why I like a long lens.

Portraits and poses can be truly great captures.   But it's fun to use a longer 75 - 200mm lens, stand way back, wait patiently for a moment to appear, and try to capture a few easy photos of my grandchildren when they are simply being themselves.

Even in a group when they are getting ready for a group pose a shot can show feelings that could otherwise be masked by a "Say Cheese!".   I see some jealousy showing just before the portrait set up shot was squeezed off, (2nd row left).

Good fun.


















        August 15th     Party balloons in the lake and bad Karma.

Karme.   One of those - If you are responsible for an A, then somehow a B result will follow at some point in time.

Cause and effect.   Every action has a(n equal and opposite) reaction.   Our lives are filled with great big ones and a multitude of little ones.   So be careful.   Please keep reading.


It annoys the crap out of me to witness (party) balloons with sometimes sappy sentiment being released into the air or onto the lake by someone so besotted with the hope that releasing a gift into the environment will forever hold whatever memory was believed to be wrapped up in that helium filled memento.

Back in the heyday of our late middle age we had two long deflated balloons suspended in the four maples that bordered our driveway on Sunset Bay.   A high wind had lifted them from along the shore over the cottage and lodged them high above the driveway.

Covered by leaves in the summer and fall, but dancing about throughout the winter and early spring months, and held captive by the highest branches unwilling to let them go.   Plastic can take decades to decompose.   When the time comes to sell set the closing date before the leaves fall.

Why did other peoples' thoughtlessness become the source of my discomfort and aggravation.

Type A.   That must be it.   I'm a type A personality.   Not much hope!   Cut down the damn trees.   Or maybe at least get them pruned.   And the pruner can remove the tangled mess.   Hey, it's only money.

Now for the bad karma maybe somehow slowly unfolding.

On our wave-washed lakefront beach was always strewn huge quantities of discarded plastic and other waste debris mixed into the seaweed, gravel, and sand.   It worked at irritating my idealistic hope that our planet would somehow return to being healthier and safer for shoreline creatures and all aquatic life.

Then, one day more than a dozen years ago, a bright orange and red birthday balloon with crimped candy apple red and chrome blue ribbon came slowly drifting along in the shallow water propelled by a mild breeze.   Attached was a weathered card with a name still intact and legible.

Happy Birthday Kristin.   Kristen!   If I could find this Kristin I could return the balloon to her and share my concern.   Or better still maybe fill a paper bag full of doggie doodoo, place it on her doorstep beside the half-filled balloon, light it on fire, ring the doorbell, and run away knowing that I did my share in righting that huge wrong.   Hey wait a minute.   That was a late 1940s Hallowe'en prank employed when paper bags were still in fashion and kids carried matches.   Plus I was, at that time, in my early 60s, not nine years old.

I plotted and ruminated about how to better seek my revenge and sooth my annoyance in payback revenge scenarios that were both extremely creative and highly satisfying.   Likely a form of some kind of mental illness.

Then I was informed that Kristen was one of the more popular names from the 1980s.   And worse the week before had mixed wind directions so I couldn't really plot the course from where the balloon had originated.   And maybe it came from random kids partying on one of the nearby points.   Bummer.

The balloon was sitting in the garage beside my workbench, not far from my table saw.   Not that it was a distraction or even obvious, but it was there and the memory of the motivation was still working in my mind.

Was the cause (finding the balloon) and the effect (letting my hand drop into the blade while ripping a long piece of moulding that had raised from the table and need a push down) somehow related?

Maybe.   Maybe not.   Not sure.   But the knowledge of the possibility of a karma somehow still haunts me   Many times, looking back and wishing I could relive that one careless, distracted moment.


Seeing another red balloon in the waves yesterday as I windsurfed by in the high wind and waves made me drop the sail and attempt to retrieve the damned thing.   (Pic - below left)   But it was skimming along the surface a bit too quickly and it soon disappeared behind a huge roller.   I let it go.

Nice move.   Good karma.

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…







        August 12th     So, who in their right mind, with any common sense, really wants or needs an oh so cool drone with a super HiDef, controllable, camera, with a fully programable gimbal?

Me, me, me, me, me!   Pick me!   I do!

Sean and I had a blast working his drone for the third time.

The potential and sheer joy of getting up (high) is a bit over the top.

Two people don't necessarily create the best footage because camera control guy and drone control guy sometimes get the same idea or somehow both turn or raise/lower the camera and the drone at the same time.   This makes for a shaky, wrong, or a fast pan that doesn't work well in the grand scheme of a video production.

It takes a thoughtful plan from take off to target to achieve smooth results.   Otherwise fifteen minutes of random footage can be easily edited into 2 - 3 minutes of a final cut.

Having a definite purpose and agreed on plan in mind, like anything, is the key in making a successful drone-controlled movie.

And when all else is said and done the flight is sheer joy.   Seeing the world from a (controlled) bird's eye view is more than fun.   Now, get all those empties back to the beer store and pray for the recession to heal so the mutual funds get back to earning better returns again.

Oh yeah!


Droning around Long Beach.












        August 11th   The summer is still in full swing.

With children and grandchildren here life has become a new and unfolding novel.

Each is growing and becoming his own person.

Conversation, play, their arguments among themselves, and points of view all contribute to a fun time likely unique and certainly cherished.

Sean brought his drone and that's added some new adventures.

Although it adds variety to capturing video the set up and time and space needed is a bit over the top to actually consider adding one to my photog quiver.

It shoots great pictures and video (both in RAW and 1980p).   Amazing.   Two videos below.

Missed all of the wind this past week but more is near and the fall always holds great promise on our lakes.


Some video footage along the shoreline and elevation at 500 feet at Lasalle.


The Nanny Drone ~ Do You Know Where Your Children Are?   (New Video)



        July 31st   When you can change your mind you can change anything.

False Certainty.   As Kevin Ashton says in How To Fly a Horse   ~   Make an enemy of certainty and befriend doubt.   (Hey, this worked for me.)

When we are absolutely certain about something our mind closes and a better truth or a truer reality regarding that concept cannot be acknowledged.

In the new (BBC) TV series, Banished, British convicts sent to Australia in 1788, have to adapt to new lives.   Everyone in the penal colony has to adjust and readjust in order to survive in a new and different land.   Soldiers, clergy, leaders, as well as the prisoners begin to see things differently in a God-forsaken land (a generalization to which New South Wales is referred over and over).   No rule remains sacred.   Minds and attitudes struggle and begin to change as laws bend and commands are reissued.

We have endured false certainty throughout history.   The earth is flat.   There are canals on Mars.   Religious wars are right.   Inquisitions, a Holocaust, persecutions, witch hunts, slavery, false arrest and unjust imprisonment, have all been mandated and condoned.   The list goes on.

By the way, the canals on Mars that Percival Lowell saw through his telescope were actually reflections of the blood vessels on the retina of his eyes being reflected through the (too) small aperture in his telescope.   So were the spokes on Venus, the tores on Saturn, the cracks on Mercury, and the lines on Jupiter.   And too, Galileo was kept under house arrest until his death in 1642.   He had discovered that the earth was not the centre of the universe as the church taught and he wouldn't change his belief to comply with Pope Urban VIII.   He was found guilty of heresy.

You get the idea.

All of this has little to do with windsurfing and more to do a personal challenge currently unfolding and affecting my life and in many others quite close to me.

I was lucky in working my way through a challenge.

Having a confidant with whom you can dialogue is one of the best ways of finding ways to help get you through life.   Your wife or husband's point of view is hugely beneficial.   A friend who has shared some uncomfortable moments that were hurtful can offer suggestions.   A councillor, clergy, doctor, whoever.   Any objective view apart from our own perspective can help get us back on track if we are willing to ask and share with an open mind.

A very recent suicide, an insulting personal attack, a bitter divorce, a depression, and a very serious family hostility quite close at hand all come to mind as this thought unfurls.  

Situations can become dead end streets and easily escalate into a serious loss if they are left to run their course without an intervention or a change of mind.

Cat Stevens sang, "Oh very young, What will you leave us this time, You're only dancing on this earth for a short while…"

A line in the second verse reads "There will never be a better chance to change your mind"

And the last line "What will you leave us this time"

The wind and waves at Long Beach were amazing yesterday, and maybe today as well.   Life is good.


Oh Very Young



        July 28th     (from July 24th - 25th)   Across Lake Erie and back home to Port Colborne.

Our voyage was in near record time.   About 4 to 4.5 hours each way in the good wind.   The drifter helped us reach well over 8 knots of boat speed on the return.

Didn't actually plan to make a video until the footage was reviewed.   The hand held video was a bit shaky.   A gimbal for the GoPro, or a drop pole would help stop the shake.   A clamp mount here and there for different angles would have helped add interest and variety.   Put a gimbal on the need list and don't forget the clamp mount next time.   A hot shoe mount on the drop pole would improve sound quality to get the Rode VideoMic Pro pressed into full time service.

In hindsight there was opportunity to get some great footage at the Dunkirk Yacht Club and around the Marina as well but being intrusive and with several cameras might have been an issue.

In any event there really wasn't a production plan in place for the movie.   But watching the footage brings back the simple joy and rhythm of the sailboat and all the good times that we shared for two days.


Sailing to Dunkirk NY and back home to Port Colborne…



        July 24th     Making progress.

Now that Camera RAW files are being stored on an external hard drive and only being imported or added in Lightroom when necessary my photog life is becoming quite manageable.

We finished well in the race this past Wednesday.   At least before our PHRF handicapping numbers were applied to the fleet.

In any event some good photos were captured as we sailed the course.

Raw files contain so much more usable information.   It's like having a flash (speedlight) when shooting into the sun to fill in backlit subjects as shown in the three shots below.

I absolutely love the results that can be achieved handholding my 5D2 with a zoom, and working camera settings on the fly.

Changing the three zoom lenses (from 24 - 400mm) does dirty up the camera sensor but the sensor cleaning Gel Stick between shoots quickly helps remove any dust and whatever else sneaks into the camera body.

We're off the Dunkirk on Pegasus this afternoon and returning tomorrow.   Looking forward to some good wind to speed our journey.

For the record:   Spent yesterday afternoon doing uphaul duty at Long Beach.   A bit stiff and sore this morning.










        July 21st     A musical video created on magnificent Vancouver Island.

Take a moment to watch this artful production.


Once Upon A Day… Cowichan



        July 20th     Zen and the art of uphaul.

As the wind shut down yesterday I failed to make my turn.   My right foot didn't exit the tight right footstrap soon enough.   I went down.

To my ultimate dismay there wasn't enough wind-lift in my sail to water-start.   Whitecaps had disappeared.   Thank-goodness for a new bright tangerine red uphaul that matched the sail, waiting patiently and hugging the mast.

Here goes.   Be careful not to jam the hook into the deck of the fragile 116 L.   Land carefully on the deck pads.   Yikes, over shot them and headed into the sail as the board somehow tipped.   I struggled to turn sideways and keep the dreaded hook from doing any damage.

It was a bloody Cirque du Soleil balancing act as I floundered about in a delicate struggle to mount the board and get into a reasonable stance.   Finally got onto my knees and began to carefully find a standing position.   The uphaul in one hand and the other hand flailing about from the deck to somewhere above my head seeking equilibrium.   Giddy thoughts of sailing back to shore, enthusiastically gripping the boom raced though my head.   All of a sudden it was 1980, the year before before waterstarts had been invented.   But that first 240 L Mistral Super Light and 6m2 sail had been replaced with a light 116 L shortboard and a heavier 7m2 Freeride rig.   And some 35 years had passed.   Stay focussed.   But the board rotated and wobbled, and despite my awkward but recommended wide foot pose, the now sinking tail somehow tossed me back into the drink.   Start over.

No luck.   The short, tipsy board, and windless, heavy sail would not cooperate with my awkward need to get that elusive boom in hand.

Start over.   Start over.   One more time.   Nope.

Try another waterstart.   Swim up the mast and pop the battens.   Nope.   Drag the boom up over the tail of the board.   Nope.   Let off the outhaul for some more sail pocket to trap any incoming wind.   Nope.   Not in the meagre 4 - 6 knots that were leisurely blowing at me softly from the west.   (Sounds of muffled laughing as the waves lifted and then let me down as they passed on their journey toward shore…)

Darn.

Thoughts of practising uphauling on the shorter 116 L Goya had never entered my mind before this.   Thoughts of being this far offshore, off my board, and being stuck in the water hadn't been any where near entering my otherwise productive, optimistic, and preoccupied mind.

Ok, just wait a few minutes.   The wind will pick up again amy moment.   Nope.   Nope.   And more nopes.

Rather than tire and become exhausted or frustrated I began the push and swim toward shore.   Think about it as great exercise.   And it was.

The warm water, blue sky, and bright sunshine were a wonderful setting for the 80 minute challenge to touching bottom.

Plodding through knee deep shoreline back to the launch area with mast on shoulder and board in tow was also perfect leg and core toning.   My hill climbs tomorrow on the bike will be easier than ever.

If this stalled dilemma becomes more of a routine in the coming years anyone without a watch can look out on the lake and say, "Hey that looks like John out there swimming his rig back in.   It must be somewhere around 2:00 pm."

Ha!   Time for an uphaul review using that old Turn For The Better DVD hiding somewhere in the basement, or maybe search out a YouTube video tutorial.   But most important - some real time practise in shallow water this week.

And too, as a postscript, maybe age, balance, and strength issues will need to factored into this challenge.   Just might have to book a consultation with Zenmaster Soen Yoda SaaKe.   (See journal entry February 19th, 2015)   Or renew my membership at the YMCA swim and gym for the summer.






        July 16th     Life just got a whole lot easier.

To make a long story short a few of my my older Mac and MacBook Pro Aps (like iPhoto) are not compatible with a recent and necessary Operating System upgrade regarding 2015 Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC.   Adobe tutorials were somewhat confusing because my screens were never the same as the ones showing in their tutorials.   My confused workflow had become mismanaged and muddled.   Most of my pictures and events became lost somewhere in the vast, complicated Adobe Lightroom structure.

In simpler terms, I've been floundering about with limited success without a decent map for the past month.

I finally found an easy to understand video on YouTube showing a step by step plan for organizing and managing RAW photo files for the new Lightroom and Photoshop CC that works easily.   It simplified all of the naming, storing, and transfering RAW file from camera to website.

Here goes.   Buy an external hard drive.   Create folders in the hard drive for week by week, place by place events.   Copy the files to the folders in the external hard drive directly from the card reader.   Now import these files into Lightroom without any recognition resistance.   Either delete or work the pics in Lightroom using the Adobe workflow.   Then finally export the edited RAW files as JPEGS back to the folders into the hard drive.   And lastly do a final touch up & resize in Photoshop CC for upload into a website, Twitter, or FaceBook account, whatever, wherever, whenever.   Nice.

And best of all, the external hard drive can be readily swapped between my Mac and MacBook Pro computers.

So simple and quick.   Ta Dah.

A huge personal achievement upgrade.


A quick and simple way to manage and organize RAW files from Camera, to Lightroom/Photoshop, to website.










        July 8th     Moments in time…

Photography is a recent invention as a tool in our artful quest that has evolved remarkably over the past few centuries.   Capturing images goes way back in human time.   Way before recently discovered cave art dating back about 25,000 years.   Sketches, painting, sculptures, whatever, have been found from Stonehenge to the Pyramids and in every civilization known.

Art has coexisted with war, evolution, tool making, religion, politics and all of our passions and pursuits throughout our human history.

Having a sense of stopping time with an image, creating something that could long out live us, giving us some authenticity, clarifying or expressing our unique talents, and preserving moments with an image helps give us a sense of purpose and achievement.

Like anything else worth accomplishing it takes time, practise, and discipline to improve.   Perfection is alway a distance away but we do get a sense of becoming a bit closer when a good shot comes to life.

Of course all of this background rambling brings me to my immediate quest and challenge about working with newer updated technologies both in camera and on my computers.   The picture results are showing better but the learning curve to manage the RAW files continues to be too slow and sometimes awkward.   It will most likely all begin to come together and speed up as the month unfolds.   No more complaining.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.   And, Rome wasn't built in a day.   Hey, Hey, Hey.









        July 6th     Chuggin' on…

It's taking about four times longer to store, manage, and process RAW images at this point using Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC compared to using JPEGfine, iPhoto, and Photoshop CS5.

For sure, picture quality is superior and exposures are hugely improved shooting CameraRAW.

Hopefully files can be stored, named, and accessed more easily in external hard drives shared between both computers that also allowing for Final Cut Pro and Time Machine backups on the lap top.   And time spent will decrease significantly over the next month.

Persist.   Pretty sure that we can out-live these issues.   Have faith.

Persevere and endure.   Perhaps there are others who have maybe faced greater challenges than mine and survived.

And hey, those no flash, great backlit exposures, and rich colours are calling like those ancient Greek Sirens luring me to self destruct.   Yes.   Yes.   Yes.









        July 4th     Learning to manage all of my new and old photos using Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC has been difficult.

Raw files take up so much more space both on the camera and in the two computers.   Everything slows down for one thing and after somehow mistakenly importing too much into the Mac it became almost impossible to find anything.

And, to add to the problem, this past Wednesday evening was very windy and changing lenses when needed was an unnerving challenge.   We were (three) crew short so that also added many issues.   Made the best of what I could pitching about, frustrated, and undecided at times, more often using the wrong lens, and fiddling about with camera settings while also maintaining helpful focus on keeping the sails trimmed and staying safe in the big waves and strong winds.

All of this digital photog uncertainty and bewilderment will soon pass, like the snow and frigid conditions from this past winter.

Shooting JPEG-fine and using iPhoto and Photoshop CS5 just two short weeks ago was so, so much easier.   And no drama.   Sigh.

Using RAW camera settings and switching to new editing software was maybe somewhat like trying to learn to fly and land a helicopter from watching oversimplified tutorials over the past few days.

Take a deep breath.

Hey, we did squeeze off a few fun shots.









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