Monday, April 27, 2009

Wolverines & Wushu

The forecast for Saturday was calling for an 80% chance of thunderstorms up in Muskoka, which is a two hour ride north of home, and also the proposed location for a TPMG ad-hoc event at the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. Throwing caution to the wind and looking forward to, at a minimum, a drive through cottage country, we decided to take the ride. And were rained upon for the majority of the trek north. We arrived at the centre a few minutes (half an hour) early - before the event - before the place even opened. And while we sat and waited for the opening, something glorious happened. It stopped raining. And the sun came out. In fact, the entire time we were out looking at their animals it was pleasant.

Pleasant enough that after the event, a group of us decided to drive even further north to check out High Falls. At High Falls there were actually three different falls, each a different size. I managed to snap a few shots, being not entirely enthusiastic (and a bit pouty to be honest) since I forgot to bring along my tripod (the best falls shots in my opinion are the ones where the shutter if left open a bit longer to get a nice flowing image of the water going over the falls - which isn't possible if you don't have a tripod to steady the camera). Anyway, after a few shots and a bit of a hike around the fallses (is that even a word? How do you say falls plural?), it started to drizzle, so we headed back to the car. Just in time. Within minutes it started pouring. A torrential down pour which had a lot of (smarter than me) people stopping at the side of the highway to wait for it to slow down. At least my car received a nice (and free) wash.

As for the centre itself, well, it was basically a zoo and reminded me of a smaller version of the Canada exhibit at the toronto zoo. They did have more animals from Ontario than the Canada exhibit, but all in smaller enclosures.
And speaking of the enclosures, the fences, well, sucked. There were double fences so you couldn't put your lens up close to the fence. Every picture ended up with the green or grey fence featured prominently in front of the animals, or blurring the close up of the animals, or being the subject of the photograph as the auto focus zeroed in on the fence instead of the animal in behind. The centre does offer an opportunity for photographers to get closer to the animals...for a fee. $250 for the first hour, $100 per hour for each subsequent hour, for groups of up to five. When the foliage comes in, this may be a consideration, depending on what animals they would feature.

Sunday taught me a hard lesson in lighting.
I had a "media" pass for a sanshou / wushu tournament up in Richmond Hill.
It was an eye opening lesson because it was in a hockey arena with crap awful lighting. I don't think I snapped a single decent shot. Even at maximum aperture and iso through the roof, I couldn't speed up the shutter to a point where the combatants were frozen in action. So I came away with a lot of noisy dim shots of blurs wearing sparring equipment.
Now I understand why people laud large apertures and cameras that have super high iso capabilities.

I will update the galleries at the end of the week (hopefully before the end of next weekend) with pictures of Aves, Mammalia and Other Fauna. And may be a Landscape.

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