Balance, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Our usual practice is to meet at a local park early Saturday or Sunday morning, spend an hour or so photographing the area, then head somewhere for breakfast where we share our photos and talk. With only a few exceptions we’ve done this once each week since mid-January, roughly 15 times in a row and it’s easily one of the highlights of my week.

We have no rules governing what pictures we take – landscapes, macro shots, animals, it doesn’t matter. As you might expect, we’ve developed a bit of a routine. We meet at Scott’s place, pile the gear into his SUV, stop at Tim’s for a large double-double and an earl grey then head off to a predetermined spot. On site we go our separate ways seeking inspiration, wandering back and forth, paths cross from time to time but only briefly. At some point one of us will comment that the light has become too harsh or they’ve got what they need – for me this usually means I have about 60 shots to choose from.

Breakfast is either at Tim’s or Perkins, it all depends on the time and other commitments. It’s there we invariably discover that despite moving in different directions, we’ve managed to capture many of the same subjects – a water scene, birds, rocks, a bridge. The opportunity is obvious though, we learn from one another. The shots often have not so subtle differences and I’ll realize I had not considered that angle or those settings. My personal objective, though, is to come away with something different each time.

Last weekend we were at a park along the Rideau river in Ottawa. We all have shots of the mother duck with her chicks (ducklings) and the larger birds on land or in the water. Scott has a great shot of a blue heron, he was in the right spot at the right time and more importantly with the right camera settings. Dave has a great shot of a bird landing. Mine was a spontaneous shot but especially different since it included a person – we tend not to include people in our shot but that’s a story for a different post.

We were not alone in the park, a lot of people were out enjoying the morning sun. One young woman passed Scott and me as we were watching some ducks. A brief moment later she hopped up on the rock wall and continued her walk along the river, maybe the stone is more comfortable to walk on than the asphalt, I’m not sure but the scene looked different enough to me so I snapped a quick shot. It turned out to be one of the better ones from the day.

For the three of us, the picture that stands out from the others was one that captures a brief moment. Scott and Dave probably expected the birds to take flight or land but still had be ready for the shot. I didn’t expect my shot but realized the curve of the wall, the lighting and the unexpected position of the woman made for interesting contrasts, created mystery and conveyed motion. Wo what made these shots work? I think being there, ready and recognizing potential are the common elements in the shots but more importantly, including action or the unusual is what sets these shots apart from the the others that day.

Calling, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

My brothers and I have been out almost every weekend taking pictures as part of our Project 52 (one new picture each week, see earlier posts). You might suppose that by week 16, since we’ve limited ourselves to the National Capital Region, we would begin to run out of new places to visit. Trust me, some weeks it feels like that.

It’s usually Tuesday or Wednesday that one of us will send out an email asking where to next. At the end of April, Scott was out of town on a business trip to Vegas (the poor thing) leaving Dave and me to fend for ourselves. By chance I had been visiting with an old friend and she mentioned how she’d enjoyed the park behind the old city hall. Dave and I had not been there before so our destination was set.

Saturday morning was clear. We headed downtown around 6:30 and were on site well before 7:00. You might imagine that we’d missed the golden hour. Not so, the park is surrounded by trees, homes and buildings, the sun was just cresting that horizon by the time we arrived.

What a treat this place turned out to be. Calm waters with reflections, Canada Geese drifting by, ducks and not a breath of wind. We spent an hour there before the light became too harsh. I’ll certainly be going back again as I limited my pictures to just a relatively small section of the park.

Our next stop is another park along the river, this one near some embassies. I hope that we don’t attract too much attention with all our camera gear.

Cuddle up, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

I had the good fortune to visit Halifax this week. The last time I was there was April 2007 but my time there was limited and I didn’t get to see much of the city. On this business trip I made a point of allowing more time for me and pretty much just what was required for work. The end result was a more enjoyable time and a few nice pictures.

This shot was taken on the second day after the conference. A co-worker and I walked up to Citadel Hill and wandered around in the fortress. There we saw these two birds huddled together against the cold. I think I like this shot the best, plus it seems appropriate for Valentine’s day.

Squirrel 3, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

On both days this weekend my brothers and I went to the Stony Swamp Conservation area to take pictures at, or about, dawn. We all greeted the Sun on Saturday. My brothers were more energetic than me on Sunday and arrived around 6:30. I got there closer to 7:30. The lighting was not as good on Sunday so no landscapes. On the trail however there were lots of woodland critters.

After I took this shot I walked further along the path trying to be quiet in hopes of seeing more animals. After a time I got distracted by the trees, the shapes etc. Suddenly my brothers whispered from 15 feet behind me. There about 20 in front of me was a doe foraging for food. She probably walked much closer to me in clear view but I missed the opportunity.

This time I’ll have to settle for the squirrel and the birds.

Fruit and veggies, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Very early Saturday morning I headed out with my brothers to catch the sunrise at Stony Swamp in the South of Ottawa. It was one of those outings where things just didn’t go as planned. One of us overslept but recovered quickly enough. We drove for a long time on what we eventually was not Moodie Drive, but we still got to the swamp in time for the Sun. My own landscapes were not exposed properly but the shots of the birds turned out better than I expected. As one of us said, lessons were learned and we’ll know better next time. The shot with this post was the last one I took and I think is one of the better ones.