We Have Moved!

Attention:

We have made some changes at mphocus.wordpress.com. I have now moved this blog over to my own website at  * mphocus.com.*

Please update your bookmarks. You may have to refollow me as well so I will continue to show up in your wordpress readers. I enjoy all your postings and I will continue to be stopping in to reads yours frequently.

Thank you for all your continued support, my fellow bloggers, and I look forward to the continued friendship

Averil Hall @ mphocus.com

Lost the Drive

McPhedran Phocus

Saskatoon Sunset

Let me first apologize. I haven’t written a new post for quite some time. I apologize for that. You see the wind had gone out of my sails. Let me go back and start at the beginning.

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I was sitting down working on pictures and I was thinking to my self. “Self you need to back up these photos before you lose any of them. I will need to get another extended hard drive to do that. I wonder what kind I could get that would be reliable. I should go and look in the latest office supply flyer to see if there are any on sale” I went to put my lap top down on, I must confess, a very cluttered table. Moving things around so I could place the lap top on a smooth surface so it wouldn’t fall. Bang goes the extended hard drive, which was…

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Lost the Drive

Saskatoon Sunset

Let me first apologize. I haven’t written a new post for quite some time. I apologize for that. You see the wind had gone out of my sails. Let me go back and start at the beginning.

Thanksgiving blog-1-2  Thanksgiving blog-2-2

I was sitting down working on pictures and I was thinking to my self. “Self you need to back up these photos before you lose any of them. I will need to get another extended hard drive to do that. I wonder what kind I could get that would be reliable. I should go and look in the latest office supply flyer to see if there are any on sale” I went to put my lap top down on, I must confess, a very cluttered table. Moving things around so I could place the lap top on a smooth surface so it wouldn’t fall. Bang goes the extended hard drive, which was operating at the time, on to the floor. Oooops. Oh well pick it up and carry on.

“Self you better check that out the extended hard drive to see that nothing serious happened to it.” I tried to go into the files on the drive but nothing showed up. I will shut it down and reboot the computer then it will work I am sure. Still nothing. Oh well, no worries, the boy (my son) is a computer pro he will be able to fix it. I brought it to him and he had many ideas on how to get it to work. Whew I knew he could work it out.

Autumn Road Thanksgiving blog-2

As the weeks went by and the boy kept trying I realized I better send it to the local computer store where they had special equipment for this kind of accident. Getting worried now. I better check it out with a facebook photography group I belong to. I am sure they have ideas. There was one fellow that recommended a place in another part of Canada that could help me. I will try him if local computer store guy can’t fix it. What will happen if I can’t get those files back I wondered. Worrying now.

I sat down trying to remember everything that was on there besides the thousands and thousands of pictures I took not to mention the ones I took when the children were small. There were office files which included the records kept for the tax man, family history, my mother’s stories she made years ago, trips I took over the years, and the list goes on. What will I do if I can’t get them back?!

Local computer store tech guy explains that he can’t get the material off the hard drive. He knows of a company out of Vancouver that helped a local photographer out when his hard drive crashed. But there is the fellow from the facebook group I belong to, recommended to me whom he had to use.

In the end I chose the facebook group guy’s advice. I got a hold of this company and started the ball rolling. Sent the extended hard drive disk to him. In a few days they sent an estimate for $1850. and $95 hard drive to put any files they retrieve on to. The small print also explained that this is an estimate and after they get going the costs may be more depending if it was more difficult than originally thought.

So that is the situation up to date. In between all of this I hadn’t taken many photos that I could share with you dear readers. I was feeling all out of steam trying to deal with this loss and couldn’t muster the ability to create a new blog post. But wait I also knew that I didn’t lose my camera or the ability to take photos and I came to the realization this is only a little set back. The one thing that helps me cure the doldrums is to get out the camera and go and take more photos.

Saskatchewan Sunset

The photos you see here are ones that I have taken since the accident. I also went on the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk on October 5th and took some photos there. Being surround by other like-minded photographers and talking shop is a cure in itself.

So the lessons I learned were to back up, back up and back up my files over again. What a supportive family I have and when it comes down to the crunch they will always be there. The boy (my son) is going to set up a system where I can put  photos on an extended hard drive and automatically it will back up to another one. I have the money to pay for the company to recover my files but it means I will have to forget about getting that new camera any time soon. My family didn’t want me to have to spend that so they have offered to help me in paying to recover files. They have also been willing to accompany me on different excursions to take more photos. They have also had encouraging chats with me to build up my spirits.

So on this Canadian Thanksgiving Day (October 14, 2013) I want to give thanks for all that I do have. A very supportive family and many wonderful friends, a great job, the ability to do the photography I do do and living in a wonderful country, Canada. With all the abundance that I do have, how could I have room to worry about what I have lost such as the files in the hard drive.

As a follow up to this post: I have received back from the Recovery company ALL of the files I thought I lost. It cost me just under $2100.00. Please learn from my mistake and go back up your files now.

Sunset on the Prairies

A Century year old? You don’t look a day over 99!

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to partake in a celebration. It was to celebrate the birthday of a place that was either a work place or home for some. The place I am referring to is called the Saskatchewan Hospital. It is a place that has helped thousands of people who have had or have mental health issues. It was built in 1913 under the superintendent Dr James MacNeill. He believed that people who suffered with mental issues were not criminals as the majority thought at that time. People believed that insanity was a criminal offense and with such should be sent to prison.  MacNeill believed because they were not criminals he was able to get these people to go to an asylum in Manitoba.

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The asylum was not any better than the prisons they had been sent to before. So Saskatchewan decide to build a hospital to house their citizens that were diagnosed ‘insane’. It was believed that the beauty, trees, scenery, river, good air and quiet rest would help in the cure of the patients more than any other treatment available. The province didn’t spare any expense to build. Originally it allowed $450,000 for the building but in the end it ended up costing $1,000,000.

There were houses built on the property to house the doctors, nurses, and other people that were needed to run the hospital. With that were children which needed a school to go to. As well as playgrounds, and recreational fields. There were gardens to grow the food that fed the population. It was it’s own little community.

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One of the tour guides that took us around the grounds last weekend recounted how it was like to grow up on the grounds. The teacher they all loved, the smells coming from the bakery, the camaraderie amongst all the families living on the grounds. She loved growing up there and there was no danger felt by anyone.

ARTIFACTS IN THE MUSEUM:

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MacNeill did much to remove the stigmatism that the patients were not prisoners. He removed all the bars off the windows, got rid of the airing courts, had the patients work in the hospital and its grounds, forbade any mechanical restraints and the term asylum was not to be used.

By 1946 the number of patients peaked at 4,000. The hospital was first to use many of the medication advancements so by 1980 that number dropped to 300. Patients were allowed to live in the community while been overseen by medical staff.

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Now that the hospital has reached an age of 100 years and the wards that were once the top of the line are now old.

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It is time for newer surroundings for the citizens and staff. Plans are being made for a new hospital to be built on the same grounds so the view, trees, and peaceful surroundings can still be used.

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The pictures of the buildings and grounds along with the artifacts seen in the museum on site tell just a little bit of the story of the hospital. For a more in depth story please click on this hyperlink Sask Hospital History to read a (PDF format)  detailed  history and see old pictures of this wonderful hospital.

No one’s gonna break my stride

This blog post doesn’t have to do with photography but I will place a few pictures I have been working on lately but I wanted to write something that I have been pondering lately.

Daisies in Bloom

I work as a dispatcher/office clerk during the day. Some days it gets to be very busy, so much so that the day flies by before I know it. Some days are slow. My main job is to be at the ready to answer the phone. Secondary work is do some accounting, put stats together, and any other office items my boss and/or I can think up. I like to be kept busy but just some days there is nothing much to do but just answer the phone. On days like that the silence is deafening and every little sound the building or the people in the building make I can hear loud and clear. One of the sounds are the sound of footsteps. I can distinguish most of the different footsteps that are coming towards Continue reading

Delving into Dalvay

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You will notice that I have been lax at writing on this blog these past weeks. I have been away on a little trip to Prince Edward Island (PEI). I took many pictures of this island of beauty. There are many things to write about this province in Canada but I wanted to write first about the place we stayed at in the National Park. The place is called Dalvay-By-The-Sea National Historic Site. You may recognize it as The White Sands Hotel in the popular Anne of Green Gables series starring Megan Follows.

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As soon as I stepped into the Hotel I was transported back to the 19th Century. The walls were made of pure wood. The big fireplace was lit and warm and inviting on the rainy day we arrived. The hotel staff were so pleasant and helpful. We were made to feel like royalty. Our room was on the top floor of the 3 story building. We first had to descend on the lovely wooden stairs with wooden railings.

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We were brought to Room 21. The room had 3 windows in the front which overlooked the lake (the lake of shining waters as I like to call it) and beyond, the ocean. It had a smaller window on the side which overlooked the side of the house. We had to climb a couple of steps to get to the king size bed which we had to literally stretch our legs to climb up on top as the mattresses were very large. We were able to look outside at night as we drifted off to sleep and welcome the sun in the morning as we awoke.

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We decided to eat in the half circle shaped dining room which overlooked the ample gardens and lawns as well as the lake. The decision was made to have the lobster for our evening meal. The chef had decorated our plate with a very tasty delight to our eyes. I say decorated, as the food was laid out on the plate Continue reading

Spring Show – Need Help

I plan on entering some of these in the upcoming Spring Show with the Photo Club I am belong to. I want to come up with some catchy names for the photos. I feel catchy names also are a tool for people to be drawn to the picture. Are you able to help me out? Just make a comment below this post with your idea(s) for a name

What do you think of the picture of the little boy directly below being called “Water Giggles”I 

I wanted to update you on how the show went. Please see the results in red. Please excuse the iPhone pictures.

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This one of the boy I named “Water Giggles” and it won me first prize in the Color Photo – People Category

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This purple Iris I name “Purple Iris” and I entered in the Color Photo – Floral category and it didn’t place

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This little bird one I named “Yellowstone Bird” and it won first in the Color – animal category

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I decided not to enter this one of the moth.

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I decided not to enter this one either.

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I decided not to enter this one either. I only wanted to enter one flower and Continue reading

For My Mother on Mother’s Day

This weekend is Mother’s Day in North America. It is a time to say thank you to all mother’s that we know, but especially the one who gave birth to you or raised you. My mother was a mother for 13 years before I came along. I am the youngest  of 5 girls in my family and after me finally came a brother. With my mom having so much experience being a mother before I came along you would think she would know how to handle everything. No! I was a different kind of challenge. No one could have prepared my mother for what laid ahead of her when I arrived into this world on that Halloween day.

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I had epilepsy when I was very young. My mother told me of when I went into a state of epilepticus where I Continue reading

Ride Em’ Cowboy and/or Cowgirl!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking in my first indoor rodeo. I have been to an outdoor rodeo eons ago where I saw Chuckwagon races. I was just a teenager and was able to see all of the action from the bleachers but it was a fair distance away from the action. This time I was up front and close enough that dirt and other forms of brown stuff hit my face as the riders rode by. I was covering the action for our local newspaper. I love action photography. To catch someone or something in the middle of an intense action thrills me to no end. I get a rush of adrenaline if I capture the shot of the day. In this case it was the horse and their rippling muscles as they flex their bodies in hopes of throwing the rider off of them. The bull twisting his massive body to and fro. The concentration of the female rider as she takes command of her horse. The male roper as he concentrates on jumping off his horse to grab the bull by the horns.

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The audience was entertained by the rodeo clown. He had the corniest jokes but he was hard not to laugh at because of the other laughter erupting from the rest of the crowd. His wardrobe in itself was funny. He did have to show us the many layers of clothing he had on. He exclaimed he bought if from the greatest store ever, Value Village. For those not familiar with Value Village it is a huge store which sells  second hand clothing, furniture, appliances etc. It would be a great place to find clown paraphernalia and also for Halloween costumes. The Rodeo Clown also entertained us with a race between two audience members, a young girl and an adult man, which made the audience squeal with laughter once again.

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The night ended too soon but nevertheless I enjoyed it while it lasted. I am hooked. I will be looking to go to my next rodeo but I think I would like to go to an outdoor one. I had a little trouble with the lighting inside and had to bump up my ISO which produced a little grainy of a picture.  Have you gone to a rodeo before? Was it indoor or outdoor? What did you like best about it? Have you taken action photos at it?

Please share this blog. I like meeting new friends.

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Never Too Late to Learn!

A few years back, a friend, Brian Zinchuk,  recommended that I shoot in RAW instead of the JPG format that I had been  using.  By suggesting this friend opened a whole new world of photography to me. With JPG, I was letting the camera do most of my post processing decisions. Shooting in RAW, I now had to have a program, that could work with the format and then convert it into JPG. S0 my friend suggested I try Lightroom. I looked into it and decided it was the program for me! I searched the internet to find out everything I could about Lightroom. I then discovered the web site authored by Matt KloskowskiLightroom Killer Tips. He had free presets that worked remarkably well with my photos. I also saw that he was affiliated with NAPP and Kelby Training. How wonderful to have all these famous photographers teach all a person wanted to learn about photography simply by for signing up to Kelby Training. I soon learned that it cost $199 for a year! Although I was serious about getting into photography, $200 was hard to come up with from the household budget. I decided to carry on searching for free “how to” videos and/or websites from the internet, to help me learn Lightroom.

Sunset on the pasture

As I continued on, I  found it increasingly difficult to do all I wanted to do with just Lightroom. Lightroom is an incredible program and I highly recommend it, but to do the extra little tweeks I wanted to do, I needed Photoshop. But unfortunately, I was not prepared to put out that kind of money for the latest version which was CS5. Again my friend, Brian Zinchuk, suggested that I invest in Photoshop Elements 9. He said that it would pretty much cover all the items I wanted to do, but at the fraction of the cost. So again I followed his advice and purchased the program. I was truly overwhelmed with the power at my fingertips. I watched a number of YouTube instructional videos on how to create such things as a layer, a layer adjustment, a masking layer; use the brush; and the etc etc etc. What the hell are these people talking about???! Where do I go to to get that and find that and do what?? I was overwhelmed and really thought the easiest thing to do was forget it all and just go back to taking pictures in JPG! I felt it would have been easier to just be satisfied with whatever came out of my camera. Forget about all this RAW business and everything else!

But, what about those aspects of photography I wanted to explore, like HDR, long exposure…what about all the wonderful things I wanted to know about? Dammit, I too wanted to create beautiful photos like those I saw on the internet!

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At the same time I was working as an Educational Assistant in an Elementary school. Every day I would see kids struggling with the different concepts we tried teaching them. They too wanted to just give up. They questioned why they needed math, learning about vowels, and even why they had to read. It too was difficult for them, instead they would rather do something more comfortable like playing. So it was the teacher’s job and mine to make these aspects of learning more relevant to these young minds.

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As adults we understand how important it is to learn math or to read. Without these tools,  these children wouldn’t be able to succeed in life. So I used to encourage them to, “never, ever, ever, give up.” “Keep going.” “Never, ever quit.” These things might be hard to learn. They are suppose to be.  Every grade is harder than the last.  But with learning being a just a little bit harder each year it allows the dendrites in their brains to grow just a little more. These children were able to look back and see how far they have come and how much they have learned.

So while I encouraged these youngsters…I was actually talking to myself. I said, “Hey, how can I be telling these children to never give up, but here I am willing to give up because things got a little hard!” “Shouldn’t I want to grow the dendrites in my brain too?” “YES!” So just as these kids were in school to learn, I figured I better go to school too.

Bridge pic small The best way to do this was to study online. I wanted to learn at my own pace without having to attend a regular classroom. I checked out the local college and discovered they offered a 12 week online course in Photoshop Elements. It promised to break it down so it would be easy to learn. I approached the MR. aka my husband and we decided the $115 would be a doable amount. I was eager to get started so when the course started I hit the ground running. After 12 weeks I got the basics down-pat and passed with an average in the 90’s.  I was encouraged to learn more. I saw the college also offered a Part 2 of the course. Since I did so well with Part 1 and wanted to learn even more, I decided to continue on and I also got the go ahead from MR again. I put down another $115. and the next 12 weeks went along swimmingly and again I passed with a score in the 90’s.

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To my surprise a couple months after my 2nd course ended I got a message from Adobe telling me that since I already owned Photoshop Elements I could be able to upgrade to CS6 for a reduced price! I approached MR again and he told me it would be smart to take advantage of this great deal. So I abandoned Photoshop Elements and graduated to using  CS6. Because a lot of the basics are like Photoshop Elements it wasn’t too difficult to transfer the knowledge I learned from the online courses. But what about the other parts of CS6 I wasn’t familiar with?

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I then remembered that Kelby Training covered the use of Photoshop as well as many, many, many other courses from professionals I looked up to.  Again I looked at the cost of Kelby Training of $199 for a year for unlimited use. I had just spent $230 on 2 courses which lasted a total of 24 weeks in total. Kelby Training was looking like more of a bargain all the time. I could learn about Photoshop plus all the many other intriguing elements of photography. So I talked to MR again and explained how much I would be saving by signing up with Kelby Training. He agreed. Fortunately, Kelby Training had a promotion and I was able to get a discount off a subscription as well as receiving a free book for the latest Lightroom upgrade. How could I lose?

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I signed up with Kelby Training and I haven’t looked back since. I have been happily watching different training videos. Matt Kloskowski has shown me lots of additional things I can do with Lightroom. Moose Peterson has taught me how I can take photos of birds right in my backyard! Syl Arena taught me more about using my Speedlite. Scott Kelby has taught me how I can grow my business. That is just the tip of the iceberg. I am eager to listen to Tim Wallace, Tamara Lackey, RC Concepcion, Joel Grimes and Glyn Dewis and many more. I can do this in my leisure time. I can also do this even when I am out of town through an App I downloaded on my iPhone. I am also able to listen to them during my lunch hour at work during the cold winter months when it is more inviting to stay indoors than go outside and drive home to have lunch.

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Imagine this all started with a friend telling me that it is better to shoot in RAW! I can’t thank him enough for open this wonderful world to me!