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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tale of a Ducky Picture

I remember seeing a book at the local bookstore last week called The Curse of the Labrador Duck. I took note of it since it sounded like a book I would be interested in reading (it's about one person's quest to learn more about an extinct species of duck) and I also noted the the cover of said duck against a red background.

The Book's Cover

I paused and wondered why it looked familiar, and a figured it must be the same specimen of a Labrador Duck I remember seeing at the Redpath Museum in Montreal the last there a year ago. I remember taking a pic and posting it to Wikimedia Commons.

So today I was given the offer of a Google Wave account, and I asked the sender to pass it to my captmondo email address on there.

I haven't checked that address in months, but I had reason to check it today.

And there in my inbox is an email from a contact at HarperCollins publishers requesting permission to use the WikiMedia pic for their book "The Curse of the Labrador Duck", sent during the summer.

Yes, the are using the same image I shot and posted to Wikipedia for the book's cover.

The Original Picture I Took

Some Context: The Rest of the Duck

I responded to the publisher, who has apparently already given me credit on the book jacket and now that they know where I am, are going to send me a copy of the book as well.

So now I can add a book cover credit along with that for National Geographic and for a couple of other book illustrations.

Also in my inbox was a similar email from a zoologist from the Netherlands who studies Homotherium (a type of extinct sabre-toothed cat) asking me for more info of a shot I took of a specimen while visiting the dino museum in Beijing last year. Apparently he thinks it is a specimen that has gone unpublished in Western literature on this type of cat, and is very interested in seeing any other pics I may have of it.

These really made my day.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Colours and Critters in Deloro

This grasshopper posed for me on a boogie board down by the river. It was cold, and rather than hop away from me and my macro lens he opted to stay put, warm up, and take his chances. This was the best pic I managed to take of him.

Detail of a leaf turned orange

Part of a ruined wasps' nest found on the ground

Curly orange leaf

Red dragonfly on an orange leaf

A holey orange leaf

A red salamander. I think it is a Redback Salamander

A grass snake doing a bad job of trying to hide under the leaves

Another orange leaf flecked with green

A red leaf in the mud

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Day at the Zoo

My office shut down for the day which extended the long weekend by another day. It was a rainy, miserable day. I wanted to see if I could get a good bird picture entry for the Themed Photo Contest on Facebook, so despite the weather I decided to head to the zoo. I figured that the crummy weather would likely keep most people away, and that interior lighting would mean that I could get some decent shots of animals without having to resort to flash.

Wrong on both counts, as it turned out. I hadn't accounted for the school-group option, so there were hordes of kids around. Not so bad really, as in most cases I just had to out-wait whatever group was passing through so that I could take the shot I wanted. The greyness of the day meant that whatever interior light was also severely reduced, so I opted to use a fill-flash on a few occasions. In the end the images you see below were culled from a much larger number of pictures taken, many of them blurred or where the focus was not as good as I would have liked because of the poor light. I was also disappointed to find that many of the exhibits were being revamped, with fully half of the Africa Pavilion closed off, leaving the Gorillas in the other half as the main attraction, with the colourful Chiclids in there huge aquarium being the only other major thing on view.

Am happy with what I came away with below, but I think it will be awhile before I willingly return to the Metro Toronto Zoo.


A Jumbo Gourami


A pair of Spectacled Owls. I took a zillion pictures of this pair but the lighting was so poor (and I didn't use flash) that I could never quite get the picture I was hoping to get. I'd hate to be a mouse under that stare.

A tiny mouse found scurrying outside of the exhibits in the African Pavilion

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Chinese Autumn Moon Festival Lunch Includes Tentacles!

I was invited to join in for lunch at a local Dim Sum place in Markham (near where I work) by some of my colleagues who hail from mainland China. The lunch was to celebrate the mid-Autumn festival, also known as the "Moon Festival".

One of my favorite dim sum dishes is squid. I saw cuttlefish on the menu and asked for that. It wasn't what I expected, and though it may look unappetizing to some (Bill didn't even touch it ;-) I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Cuttlefish tentacles

Another pic of them

One of my colleagues mentioned that they liked jellyfish, and asked if I would like to try it. I was game, and tried it as well. More tentacles, chewy and a bit crispy in a light vinegar-based sauce, served with slices of beef. Yum!

Beef slices and jellyfish tentacles

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Celebrities at Word on the Street

Alt. cartoonist Chester Brown signing a copy of his Louis Riel

Margaret Atwood, taken from just outside a packed tent with me using full zoom on my telephoto

One of the TVO Kids TV Hosts On Stage

Jian Ghomeshi and a Literary Panel on Stage

My own little celebrity, Annie, at the Where the Wild Things Are promo cutout

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Bear and a Kite

While I was taking the dog (and my kids) for a walk down by the boardwalk, we saw a man flying a trick kite down by the beach. He gave us a good little show, including some precision flying where he managed to pick up a plush bear (that had a "T" hook in it) from the ground using his kite. Here are a couple of pictures I took of it.

Shortly after picking up the bear

This somewhat surreal shot of a bear seemingly hovering in air simply crops out the t-bar and the lower edge of the kite holding it. I enhanced the colours in the picture somewhat to make the scene to further emphasize the oddness of the image.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Another Attempt at Astrophotography: The Moon Through a Telescope

Saw the moon appear under clear skies, and I decided to take another try at taking a picture of it -- this time trying to see whether I could use my camera along with my little Meade ETX 60 telescope.

After about an hour of fiddling with the telescope's focus along with my camera on a tripod and playing with many, many exposure settings, the following pic was arguably the best of the bunch I shot.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Wasps and Leaves Already Turned Red

Last summer we had a lot of yellow jackets. This summer it seems to be these guys. They're annoying, but at least this one posed for my camera.

Took a walk down by Woodbine Park, and was surprised to see that some of the sumach there had already turned red. Am guessing the relatively cool weather this summer along with all of the rain is turning them red earlier than usual. Still, makes for a nice picture.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Warrior's Day Parade at the C.N.E.

Went to the Canadian National Exhibition this morning, mainly to catch The Warrior's Day Parade. There are several aspects of it that appeals to me: the chance for some interesting portraiture shots, the many different types of dress uniforms over different times and places and of course it is also a slice of history. It is also a way to honour the memories of my parents, both of whom played their part in WWII.

According to the Warrior's Day Parade Web Site the order of the contingents in the parade are as follows:

Contingent 215. While not in this pic, both NATO and U.N. flags were in their contingent.
Pipers from contingent 228
Three standard bearers from contingent 147
Pipers from the Toronto Rameses Shriners Band
Standard Bearers from the Woodbine Heights branch of the Canadian Royal Legion
Two WWII veterans from the Highland Light Infantry of Canada and their driver
Accordionists from the contingent 138
More Royal Legion Veterans
Drum Major from contingent 122
Pipers from the same contingent. That can't be good for your cheeks.
Close-up of a standard bearer
Veteran in a wheelchair
Veterans from the contingent after 183
Pipers from the Derry Flute Band
Veterans in a vintage M38 jeep
Standard bearers
An RAF veteran in a wheelchair
Drum Major and Pipers from contingent 121
By this point in the parade many of the vets who had been in earlier parts of the parade had started walking back, and I caught this fellow beside me giving a salute to those who passed. The one moment I wished I had caught on my camera was a smile and a hand-shake an old WWII vet had given to a young boy from an Asian family who had paused to let a contingent pass. A nice moment.
Drum Major from contingent 105
Drum Major and pipers
WWII veterans from the Toronto Police contingent
The sole Mountie in the parade
Flutists from the Queen's York Rangers of Toronto
Members from a Parachute Regiment, contingent 269
We're definitely into the "Allied" portion of the parade now: these are trumpeters from the Polish contingent, #103
Flag bearers from a South Korean contingent
Trumpeter from a Guards unit
A WWII vet and sole participant from an Indian contingent, #240
WWII veterans
The sole (horse-)mounted soldier in the parade, from contingent 268
Veteran from contingent 264
U.N. contingent from Ghana
A couple of wheelchair-bound veterans from the Taiwanese contingent, #274
A few other members from that same contingent
A much be-medalled veteran
A very young Drum Major and piper from contingent 139 (not 266, which follows) of a Georgian-era re-enactment regiment
Members from another re-enactment group (#266), also in Georgian-era uniforms

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Studies of Old City Hall

Went to the Wold's Biggest Bookstore downtown in order to pick up the fourth "Thursday Next" novel by Jasper Fforde, and then walked down Bay Street to Queen Street in order to catch a streetcar home, and passed by both Old and New Toronto City Hall in the process. So I took out the camera and took some pics, mainly of Old City Hall.

The building was bathed in that wonderful warm glow of an summer evening sun, adding contrast and picking out colour in the old stone. Here are the pictures:

The Old City Hall clock tower against the modern Cadillac Fairview tower

Close-up of one of the Old City Hall gargoyles.

Gargoyle and Clock

North face seen from an angle

North face detail, straight on

Gargoyle detail facing north-west

Detail of the scroll-work on the last half of "Court House"

The clock tower in light and shadow

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