Summer Wedding

One particular photo shoot was a particular pleasure for me: a wedding that covered two distinct locations.
The local hall is where the wedding took place and a provincial park is where most of the guest photos were taken.
It was a wonderful but also challenging experience. Wonderful because of the people involved and the location of the outdoor shoot but challenging because I had not not seen the venue before hand. It was an unexpected shock to see how dimly lit the hall was and I realized the windows had been so covered to keep the tremendous heat at bay. Likewise the doors were closed for the most part which cut out most of the usable light so it was flash photography the whole way. I was scrambling like crab on the beach trying to stay ahead of the happy couple capturing the moments on their way to the alter .


From the photography perspective it required me to get a lot closer- figure out the balance of capturing the moments without getting in the way and I am very pleased that there are many shots that were very focused on the bride and groom. I'm also happy that I didn't fall on my face at any time and the wedding went without a hitch!
The informal reception at the park was amazing- we took our cars down to the tiny reaction ferry to cross over (4 cars at a time) to the Stein Valley Park gazebo which is a stunning location. Here was the beauty of nature and the light of the sun to enhance the happy day.

Overall it was my favorite shoot of the year.




Powershot in Podunky

I was in the market for a small camera to carry around in my purse and after a few false starts finally settled on a model.
In the past my favorite pocket camera of all time was an Olympus model that had a fantastic lens, good zoom, good macro ability and I wanted those things in my new camera. That old camera was just under 5 mega pixels but I had no issues getting 8x10 prints and even 11x14 from it so mega pixels themselves were not an overriding issue in my new purchase... new cameras now average 20 mega pixels. The biggest factor was image quality and a moderate zoom.
Where I live today does not give me much choice for models so I went out of town. (I do not believe in shopping online unless it really isn't available in my province- end of story.)
I have to admit I didn't do much research and thought I couldn't go wrong with the mighty name of Nikon...till I looked at the photos I took on that camera on my computer monitor. I was not happy about the 'look' of the images. Later on I read a review of this camera and it noted that image clarity was not a strong suit. There are many words used to describe this 'look': pixilation, grain, artifacts, blur etc and in all honesty I couldn't even use those words to describe it; it was more like the finest resolution rendered an image that looked like it has been painted with a very fine brush.
I returned it. This was a costly mistake in terms of time wasted and fuel money...London Drugs in Kamloops is an hour's drive away. It has to be said that this store is a great place to shop for computers and electronics with very knowledgeable staff so I was able to pick up a few things I needed anyway but I resolved to content myself with a camera I could buy in my own town.
Unfortunately my second purchase turned out to have a ridiculous problem: The flash unit was automatically disabled when the camera was set to operate silently! This made absolutely no sense- audible beeps are the last thing a photographer needs. The camera was a Fuji model that was rated waterproof to a certain depth; perhaps there is a need for swimmers, divers and snorkelers to hear beeps- I have no idea but had to return it for that reason. I discovered during the initial purchase that the electronics store does not stock batteries for it's cameras...nor did the big box stores. This is another issue about living in Podunk.
A Samsung model was available at the big box store but when I asked about it the clerk told me the supplier hadn't provided new stock...just a floor model. How...stupid. I ended up buying a Canon Powershot SX50 HS model and testing it out the next day and so far am very happy with the picture quality and the additional extras like the James Bond-like zoom. There is a lot of exploring to do with it yet...the literature recommends a 'fast' memory card for movies and today I was going to pick one up the electronics store but, this being a small town, a staff member put the 'OPEN' sign out 20 minutes before the store actually opened for business. This had the effect of sending me to the Big Box Store...I could have waited to buy the memory card...it was simply because of a foolish act that annoyed the consumer that the smaller shop lost a sale.

The image below represents a cropped portion of an image taken in the evening - a handheld shot of coloured pencils. I am obviously happy about the macro capability!

This pano was created with the software included on the disc that came with the camera. I take many landscape photos for the express purpose of creating a panorama manually...I tried the software out for the fun of it and with 3 very easy shots to work with. I circled the unacceptable area.


Fire in Merritt

Copyright: Heidi I. Koehler

July 2nd Edit: It was the Earthwalker store, not the restaurant Starz which shares the same name as the hair salon, which was so heavily damaged in the fire. In case it's not clear in my commentary the firefighters did a tremendous job in trying to put it out.


After a nice day fishing, planning what to do July 1st (Canada Day), and making cherry jam the day came to a close with a fire in downtown Merritt.
Evidently the local pet shop, East Indian restaurant and hair saloon are toast. The fire fighters were trying to contain it when we left at about 11:00. It had started at about 8:30pm we heard from other people.
Back of the shops on Quilchena
Police and Firefighters keeping public away

Looking East on Quilchena- thick, nasty smoke

The fire kept spurting up- most of the pets were rescued from the shop

We watched and there was simply not enough water- burning continued

The smoke was horrid- at one point police yelled at bystanders to get out of it

At least 3 shops are probably completely destroyed

July 2nd- the day after:


Spring Critters

Copyright: Heidi I. Koehler

Spring is upon us and the animals of farm and field.
It's a good time to see nature when everything is lush and green...because it doesn't last long in the Thompson-Nicola. This land is quite arid and in summer time becomes almost devoid of green with the exception of the irrigated alfalfa fields and the needles of the Ponderosa pine. Bunch grass turns yellow and the sage that discretely speckled the landscape in Spring becomes glaringly obvious as the season changes.
Right now cows have their calves, deer are wandering in the pastures, marmots are peering out of their burrows and birds are looking for mates...or planning their new families in the case of lifers like geese.
I noticed with interest that the doves around here don't seem to be afraid of the ospreys...they were more nervous of me actually. Speaking of Ospreys, the usual battle for the local nests has been won yet again by the raptors...every year the geese try to take over an osprey nest and in some parts they succeed but not over the Coldwater River in Merritt. Maybe next year :)


Spring Rivers

Copyright: Heidi I. Koehler

It's been very sunny in Merritt for quite some time with a brief intermission of snow last week but May is now quite warm.
My husband and I walked along the Coldwater River towards the end of April and witnessed a young man tear off his outer wear and run into the swiftly flowing water. There were friends- some of them female- to impress and it carries on a fad that the teenagers were into over the winter. Merritt's idea of polar bear swims and aboriginal spiritual cleansing rituals.

I don't recommend doing this unless you know the water quite well and even then, make sure someone is with you to make sure you get out. I'm a good swimmer myself but I foolishly went into the Coldwater at another location against my better judgement two summers ago and thought I was going to drown- my sister almost did. We did it because 'other people were doing it' so it looked fun. The water actually moves very differently at depth than it does at the surface and creates a turbulence/whirlpool effect that can- and did- pull us under. Only the fact that the current was so swift is what propelled us to the shallows where we could come up for air.

So, with that warning out of the way, I will say that the Coldwater River where it flows through Merritt COULD be an ideal location for summer swimming HOWEVER:

The river needs maintenance desperately....unfortunately the very notion of tampering with a river in BC is akin to butchering a Holy Cow. The lower photograph clearly show the erosion over the Claybanks- as they are called- properties are slowly but inexorably being eaten away by the waters which form a gouging arc. Fish habitat is the usual concern but there are very few salmon coming up this river to start with. I actually think that carving out a new channel to funnel the main stream's current further north would create additional spawning ground not to mention reducing (at least temporarily) the amount of additional clay and soil dropping in which would also slow down erosion of the southern shore.

 Erosion of the banks is not the only issue; sediment build-up is also occurring especially on the Nicola River as it enters town. There is a yearly expenditure for sandbags to curb the flow from the street and back into the water which is great for the local gravel company. I would love to see this part of the river dredged- oh the horror! and a permanent structure put in place to prevent street flooding.

The panorama below is of the Coldwater River in Merritt.


Photo Editing Functions in Irfanview Image Viewer

© Heidi I. Koehler

This post is about image management using the image viewer Irfanview. I have been using this program for a long time- more than 10 years starting with version 385 and it is now at version 4.37. It is a free program that is deceptively simple looking and I am still discovering features it probably had for a long time but I wasn't aware of.

 The search function for instance. For almost as long as I've used Irfanview I've also used a search program called AgentRansack which, when I first tried it out, turned out to work better than Windows search and I believe it was because it was accessing what is now commonly called 'Metadata'. Metadata is simply information that is imbedded or encoded into files from the program that created the file or manually added in by the user

With photos and many digital images the user can include information like who took the picture, what the picture shows, etc. under information Fields (you can think of fields as labels or categories of information) such as Copyright, Caption, etc. There are many, many more fields than these two are the most important. In this day and age where most photos are recorded as digital images there has to be some way of identifying the ownership and content since we can't flip the digital file and scribble on the back like in the old days.

But getting back to Irfanview's features here are some of the best:
Drag and Drop. This is new and much appreciated!
Speed. The program opens very quickly and displays thumbnails of images that you can specify a particular size for.
Selective Loading. You can choose to display all images from subfolders- very handy when you have a large folder/directory structure.
Searching. I just discovered this. Images can be searched based on the contents of their meta data. This is an incredibly useful feature when you regularly edit the caption fields of your images.
Using Irfanview-1-Search Files
All of these things are only useful of course if you make a conscious effort to always include the captioning of your images- this isn't simply something journalist do- it's simply the modern equivalent of writing on the back of a hard copy photo.

Using Irfanview-2-Search Criteria
It should also be said that you should always use 'test images' to try out the features of any program including this one. It has resampling, renaming, and converting functions that might differ from systems you may have used before or never used! :)

Using Irfanview-3-Load Thumbnails from subfolders
One thing that might be helpful to know as well: metadata - or rather the fields that hold the metadata- are somewhat standardized but different programs will create different fields. I am used to referring to the metadata fields I use as IPTC but you will encouter EXIF data (which pertains to camera info) and XMP (similar image fields as IPTC). Windows (and probably Macs) have their own proprietary fields as well. This can get confusing and Irfanview keeps it simple.

Using Irfanview-4-Thumnails loaded
My own experience is that Irfanview's IPTC fields of Author (byline), Copyright, Caption (description), and Credits fields are almost universally the same in other programs that handle images. This is important because using software like Adobe- and particularly it's Keywording or whatever metadata editing terms it uses- tends to be proprietary. Proprietary means it's only useful in the program that created it- and IPTC is not proprietary. I can open any of my photos that I've edited IPTC fields with Irfanview in any other program and that data can be found and read.
That's the most important thing.


Boston Bar Heritage Home Photos

© Heidi I. Koehler

I have always been fascinated by old and abandoned buildings...not only their look but their construction as well.
I grew up in a log home back at a time when it was possibly cheaper to have one built rather than buying an existing home. My parents had a company called Panabode construct the house and it was simple to see even as a child how the construction relied mostly on tightly fitted logs to hold together. The other houses in the area were kind of mysterious because their framework was hidden behind drywall or paneling unless you had access to the attic where often you could see what was essentially the skeleton of a home revealed.
I liked new construction sites or the same reason- seeing the concrete foundation with the re-bar sticking out and the 2x4 lumber squared up into walls and potential rooms. As I got older and explored abandoned houses I began to appreciate the design and layout of square homes with more than one level. Most of the homes were a big contrast to my own which was basically a very linear L shape.
It's getting more difficult to find the kind of homes that have interesting forms and history so when it came out recently on the news that 2 old houses in the North Bend of Boston Bar were being sold for 1 dollar each (there will no doubt be a bidding battle) I made it a point to visit the area last weekend on my way to the coast. Part of the stipulation of purchase is the requirement to maintain the exterior character of these heritage homes.
The story is here CBC but I would also like to point out a site called Vanishing B.C. that details some of the history behind these two homes as well as some lovely water colours by artist Michael Kluckner.

Here are a few shots of the exteriors of the homes....

House in Boston Bar North Bend for 1 dollar

House in Boston Bar North Bend for 1 dollar

House in Boston Bar North Bend for 1 dollar

While I took photos of the interior of one of the homes I will not post those unless someone is particularly interested. That means contact me via Facebook  or a DeviantArt account.

Here is a scaled down version of a panorama of the home's location.

A larger view can be found on my DA account here.

And here is a scaled down version of a panorama showing the view immediately in front of the homes.

A larger view can be found on my DA account here.


Brain Drain

My husband and I went to the reception of 'Brain Drain' which is a show featuring the work of Eric Drane at the Courthouse Gallery in Merritt, B.C. His work is primary digital which was quite a change from the usual more traditional art. His pieces feature 3-D manipulation of mechanical and natural elements and employ symmetry and strong colour...there is almost a 60's feel to the work using techniques that weren't even around back in those days. The show is hosted by Nicola Valley Community Arts Council and includes some work by art student Justine Brown.