Cotopaxi Volcano with an early morning start

So we decided to go camping on a whim, without much planning and as the weather isnt’t the best at the moment we went open minded to see if we would get any decent photos or not. So we loaded up the car and set off, the weather was dry and cloudy. The National Park Cotopaxi entrance is close by to us, but we were headed further into the park to the Santo Domingo Lagoon, where we have never previously visited.

So far the weather was stunning. Wild horses by the dozens, blue sky and some well placed clouds. 

The openness (is that even a word?) and isolation of this place is special and unique, you do not want your car breaking down out here.

While we were setting up camp and eating our meal the weather closed in and there was nothing of the volcano to be seen. 

Yep. the photo above, that is where the volcano was 5 minutes before, actually the volcano is still there, it is just hidden behind the clouds. So after we finished eating, we got into our sleeping bags and tried to get some sleep.

Hubby needed the bathroom, I have no idea what time it was but he got me out my sleeping bag to see the most amazing sight. I have no previous experience with long exposure night time photos, so we just took loads and hoped something would turn out. Oh, and the weird lights in the middle  left of the frame, just hubby messing around with the torch.

So, next morning after something of a cold night as there was no cloud cover, I put my head of the tent at 5.50 AM and said, bugger, we are going to have to get up. And this is what we got up to.

This is probably not the best photo, but I think it is great cause hubby took it of me while I was taking another photo. You can see here all the ice on the ground. 

Best of 2012

The best of 2012? well I am not sure about the best, but the best for me is not loads of likes or shares on Facebook, or on various other social media websites, but the ones that mean the most to me for what ever reason that maybe.

Below is a selection of that. I hope you enjoy the photos. To view the photos in large just click on it. Atacames

The coast of Ecuador is long and there are plenty of places to spend a few days relaxing on the beach but the local Quiteños favourite beach is probably Atacames. A long walk along the beach before I was able to get this photo one of my favourites. Such a stunning sunset. You might ask where are all people, well there are some times of the year and certain days when the beach is less populated, not empty but at less poeple at least and thats the times we like to visit.

The llama and the railroad

The Boliche National Park on the road from Quito to Latacunga is a great place for am overnight stay, bbq or simply a walk in the woods. It has a wide area covered with pines introduced many years ago. The newly recovered train travels along the Panamerican Highway and there is a station at the Boliche NP. The park is adjacent to the Cotopaxi NP although there is no joining route. There are various families of alpacas living freely here and this one decided he/wanted to view the train.


Oh this was a fun shoot, we were asked to visit a ranch in Morona Santiago province as they have just had a notable birth: the first jaguar born in captivity in Ecuador, her name is Tiara. We had the best time and she is the cutest little jaguar I have ever meet, no I have not met many jaguars at all, so I am a little biased.


My hubby is one of my best models and a most patient one at that, I was sitting at my desk and he was eating an orange, the light was coming through the window and it was beautiful, I wouldn´t allow him to eat the segment of orange until I was happy with the photo.


I took this on a trip to Otavalo, there is a superb bird park close by, where the photography is excellent and you can get some great close ups, this is my favourite of the lot. I wonder if  I am being yelled at to stop taking photos or  to attract my attention to take more. Anyhow it was a great day to remember.


Ah what a beautiful sight, this is the Atillo Lake on the highest part of the journey from Riobamba to Macas, what a stunning journey, with a newly paved road (ok the last or the first 30 kms are still to be finished) and there is some of the best views of the páramo to be seen in the whole of Ecuador. Just remember to wrap up warm as it is a bit chilly up there.


Wildlife in Ecuador is plentiful, this fox was taken a high altitude on the Chimborazo Volcano, and allowed us to get close, well sort of close, at least close enough to get some beautiful photos, and he/she was quite unfazed by our presence, well, I imagine there are plenty of hikers so it must be used to it.

Climbing the Chimborazo

Just a photo of the Chimborazo snow, each year there is less and less snow, but it is still one of the best places to reach it. I would imagine that the person in the photo is going for the summit, I wonder it he made it.


Ecuador is a religous country, although not as much as it used to be, but still, each year there is a parade in Quito, (the capital) to walk through the streets with no shoes, carrying crosses,  even with barbed wire attached to the body. For most it can be barbaric but for these people it is a way to pay for their sins. You can even see children alongside the adults. The walk is quite long, and with the added extra of discomfort it is not something I will be doing in the near future or the far future. These are the things that make Ecuador the country it is.

Ecuadorian Railways

One of the many achievements of the President Correa is to rebuild the railroad, a huge undertaking, but after a couple of years there is now 500kms from north to south and they all have some stunning views. They are restoring a couple of the old steam engines with plans to restore around 5 more in the near future. How cool is that. One of the hardest routes to build was the Nariz del Diablo from Alausi to Sibambi an unique zig-zag route built over 100 years ago to join the highlands with the coast.


One of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador, the Tungurahua Volcano, at 5,023 masl it is very active, and offers a quite a spectacle. As it is over 2 hours drive from us we don´t often rush there when it is active, but on this occasion we happen to be staying at friends and managed to get these stunning photos in the early hours of the morning.  Not long after we had taken these the cloud covered the crater and that was the end of the photos.


One of the many views of the highlands in Ecuador,  wet is not so frequent but it does happen, any trip to the highlands require adecuate clothing as it is cold, very cold, and these local people live from the land and their animals and it make you glad of what you have. Taken from the warmth of the car as we drove along. Even though it is cold the highlands have some of the stunning views any country can offer and are well worth a visit, even better if you can get off of the beaten track as we like to do frequently.


Ecuador is a delight for orchid lovers. The Orchid is a flower so beautiful and varied that it is renowned and treasured across the globe. Ecuador is generally considered to have the highest biodiversity of plant and animal species in the world and about 4000 species of orchid have been found here.  Thanks  for the quote Robin

This photo was taken handheld with extension tubes, with very good light I was able to get this photo, one of my overall favourites.  Taken at the Hosteria Las Orquideas  where they have a small but well stocked garden. Waterfall

This is the Agoyan Waterfall very close to the Agoyan Dam 7 kms from Baños de Agua Santa, Tunguahua province, many water photos are taken with slow shutter speed to show the dreamy water, but I decided to take this photo on a fast shutter speed to show the force of the water, it is impressive. The waterfall is at the beginning of the Route of the Waterfalls with takes you around 30kms towards Puyo, the capital of the Pastaza province. It is one of many waterfalls along with many places to enjoy adrenaline adventures like canyoning, white water rafting, cable cars crossing the river and many other activities.


The vicuñas are of the same family as the llama & alpaca, but smaller and more delicate producing a fine wool that is made into jumpers, scarfs, gloves, etc, and costs a pretty penny also.  The vicuñas have been introduced to Ecuador. (they are native to Peru) and these live on the Nature Reserve of Chimborazo They live at around  an altitude of 3,200 to 4,800 metres. They are a little skittish but this group was taken from the car window with a long lens (It was too cold to get out of the car).


Ambato has a wonderful history and this arch is part of the Juan Leon Mera´s Quinta located in the city. It is part of the botanical gardens and only cost .50 cents to enter so it is also a cheap day out for the family.

On the Farm

A day on the Farm, in Ecuador there are still plenty of people living from the land, we get to see this loads of times on our travels, the above photo for the bright colours and representation of people living in the highlands of Ecuador.

White DaisyA simple white daisy, taken with studio lights, close up lens and loads of patience. converted to Black and White. If you can view this is large you can appreciate the detail on the delicate petals.


This is the crater of the Pululahua Volcano, to the north of Quito taken as sunrise, this is the only inhabited volcano crater in Ecuador (I think, please don´t quote me on this though) it is a dormant volcano and there is some interesting history here and here.  It is pretty amazing to look down on a volcano crater.
(I have no connection the the hostel in the link, I just though they had the best info on the website.)

Lens Lingo – What do all the letters and numbers on a lens mean?

I am sure that at some point you have looked at your lens and said to yourself  “I wonder what all the numbers and letters mean?”, so I decided to write a little about each letter or number for the most common lens makes.


So for example:  AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm 3.5-5.6 G ED

AF-S: Autofocus Silent: Focusing is driven by a “Silent Wave” motor in the lens instead of the focus drive motor in the camera. AF-S lenses focus faster than standard AF-Nikkors and almost completely silently. AF-S lenses with a “II” designation weigh less and are generally smaller than their equivalent predecessors.

18-105 mm is the focal length, you will find a variety of different zooms, for example 18-55,mm or 55.200mm etc.,  there are lenses that are zoom and some are prime lenses, prime lenses will only have one number before the mm, for example 50 mm. This is for all lens makes.

3.5-5.6: this will also depend on the lens, but it refers to aperture, so at 18mm the widest aperture is 3.5 and at 105 mm the widest aperture is 5.6, there are lenses that have a widest aperture of 2.8 throughout the zoom, these are expensive lenses. This is for all lens makes.

G: The lens has no aperture control ring and is designed to be used with cameras that allow setting the aperture from the camera body. G lenses also provide Distance information to the camera.

ED: Extra-Low Dispersion glass: High-quality glass that corrects for chromatic aberration, a type of image and color distortion that occurs when light rays of varying wavelengths pass through optical glass and don’t converge or focus at the same point. Nikkor lenses with ED glass deliver superior sharpness and contrast, even at maximum aperture. Super ED glass is a new type that is used together with ED glass in some lenses to achieve an even higher degree of freedom from chromatic aberration.

VR – “Vibration reduction”

DX: The lens is specifically designed for use on Nikon digital SLR cameras. It produces a smaller image circle for more efficient coverage of the imaging sensor in these cameras, which is smaller than the 35mm film frame.

M/A: A focusing mode on some AF-Nikkor lenses which allows switching from automatic to manual focusing with virtually no lag time by simply turning the focusing ring on the lens.


Canon IS stands for ‘Image Stabilisation’. Lenses with Image Stabilisation allow you take handheld images at slower shutter speeds without camera shake blurring the image.

A Canon EF-S lens is designed for EOS digital SLRs with an APS-C sized sensor. EF-S lenses are a subset of the Canon EF mount. The S in EF-S stands for ‘short back focus’, referring to the distance between the rear element of the lens and the sensor is shorter. EF-S allows lighter, smaller lens designs that cost less to be produced. EF-S lenses are not suitable for full-frame EOS digital SLRs and mounting the lens may cause serious damage to the camera.

Canon L-series lenses are top-end, professional Canon lenses. L-series lenses are sometimes dubbed ‘Luxury’ lenses. The ‘L’ moniker is reserved for professional Canon lenses, which tend to have extra weather sealing, a constant maximum aperture and superior optical performance. You can spot many L-series lenses thanks to the distinctive red ring around the lens barrel. L-series lenses include a lens hood (to reduce the chance of unwanted flare and protect the front element) and a lens pouch.

The USM label means the lens features an Ultrasonic Motor Drive. Canon USM lenses allow quick, accurate autofocus, which also produces less noise than traditional autofocus systems. There are two types of USM found in Canon lenses: Ring-type USM (premium) and micro-motor USM (value). Ring-type USM has the advantage of full-time manual focus, which allows you to adjust the focus manually without switching between AF and MF modes.

DO stands for diffractive optics, a special glass designed to reduce chromatic aberration and allow a shorter lens design. You can spot a Canon DO lens thanks to the thin green ring around the lens barrel.


Sigma DC lenses are designed for digital SLRs with ‘cropped’ sensors. Cropped sensors are smaller than traditional 35mm film or full-frame sensors. Sigma DC lenses are suitable for cameras with APS-C size or cropped sensors that need a smaller image circle to cover the sensor, compared to conventional lenses.

Sigma DG designates the lens is designed for use with digital SLRs but can still be used with 35mm film SLRs. Sigma DG lenses are suitable for cameras with full-frame or cropped sensors.

OS designates the lens has Optical Stabilisation built-in. Sigma OS lenses compensate for camera shake which can blur images at slow shutter speeds or whilst hand-holding telephoto lenses.

HSM stands for Hyper-Sonic Motor, a type of autofocus motor that provides fast, accurate autofocus whilst making less noise than traditional autofocus.

Sigma EX denotes greater optical quality and superior build quality. Sigma EX lenses used to have a distinctive crinkle finish, but this has recently been replaced with a matte black finish.


Tamron VC lenses are designed reduce image blur from camera shake. The Tamron Vibration Control (VC) technology corrects for camera shake at 4000 times per second, for a smooth stabilized view in both the viewfinder and your image. The VC system also allows you to pan without changing any settings.

Tamron PZD stands for Piezo Drive, a form of ultrasonic autofocus. Tamron PZD lenses offer you fast but silent autofocus, in a more compact lens size than traditional ultrasonic autofocus motors.

Tamron USD stands for ultrasonic drive, used for fast and smooth autofocus. Tamron USD lenses use deflective traveling waves to drive a rotor, moving elements within the lens to focus your image.

Tamron XR denotes the lens has extra-refractive glass, allowing Tamron to make the lens barrel shorter whilst retaining the same optical quality.

Tamron Di II lenses are designed for digital SLRs with ‘cropped’ sensors. Tamron Di II lenses are specifically designed for cameras with APS-C size sensors, whereas the Tamron Di series (without ‘II’) are compatible with full frame and APC-S digital SLRs.

Learning to live again – Linda Pollock

I have been asked by Jo to write a blog about something very personal to me as well as many others. I agreed to do so, in hopes that some one may
read this blog and realize that there is so much joy and beauty to be seen in this world.

My name is Linda. I am 48 years old and suffer with deep depression, Psychosis, as well as Agoraphobia. I will explain a little about each one as it effects me.
I am not a Dr. and don’t have the answers and may not know the right lingo, but will do my best.

Deep Depression: There are times when all of us feel blue, or a little down. Maybe something didn’t go as planned, or a loved one is sick and we feel bad for them.
Having deep depression (to me) is lower then the lowest you’ve ever felt. When every bone in your body aches. You can’t brush your hair, either because you just don’t care or because it even hurts to touch your head. When you visit a doctor for depression they will ask you a group of questions and you have to rate on a scale from 1-10
on where you are. For all the questions I have never scored any higher then 3. You are also asked from 1-10 were are your moods most of the time. My mood at a high would be at 3. So to crash into a low mean that I’m even below 1. When this happens, I don’t shower. If I do, it’s only because I have really forced myself into doing this. I’m not able to take care of my children the way they need to be taken care of. I have a boyfriend who is amazing. He drives in every morning to take my little ones to day care or school.

With out him doing this, my children would never make it. My home is a constant mess. Oh sure a 5 and 4 year old can do a lot to a home, but most days I don’t even have the ambition to pick up a piece of paper that has sat of the floor for 4 days. With deep depression every day is a chore. A chore to exist. The thoughts of dying are a constant wish. I suppose that is why I like to stay up late. The rooms are dark, and everyone is sleeping. I don’t have to force myself into doing anything. I can just sit and think. Deep depression makes a person think a lot, the only problem with that is that our thought are not in the right frame. All passed memories are relived over and over again. Each time thinking of different ways to solve the situation. At times this is all consuming.

Psychosis: Remember, I’m speaking of only myself. For many others who suffer from this, their symptoms can be quite different. Since I was a young girl I have been able to see and speak with spirits. Some times they were family members other times not. Some times even bad spirits would make them self known. This was the norm for me and never thought to much about it. Then one day I was sitting at my dining room table ( in my mid 20’s) and heard my name being called. It was a different voice and a different way of speaking. I looked around the house and saw no one. Even checked out side, no one was around. This continued for quite a few years. Never once did I think I had something wrong with me. Then a new voice yelled out one day “Mom!!”. I looked around and no one. Then about 8 years ago, while walking down the street I felt some one tap my shoulder and say “ how you doing?” I turned and no one was around me.

Now I was starting to get scared. It was happening more often. While crossing busy city streets. While sitting on a bench at a park. Once a young girl walked passed me. I could have sworn she called my name and asked me how I was doing. I looked up at her and of course she didn’t even notice I was sitting there. Then I became paranoid, and eventually went to my dr.’s. He quickly put me on meds. The voices are still there, but not as often as before. I should also add that this is different then having Schizophrenia. So like I said I became very paranoid and soon became a shut in.

Agoraphobia: Plain and simple…the fear of leaving your home. I’ve come a long way since first having it 5 years ago. Back then I lived in Hamilton Ontario, in an apartment building. I couldn’t even leave my apartment to check my mail. My sisters had to do all my shopping. I couldn’t even leave to go with them. Now I had just been given full custody of my Grand daughter. She was born a very sick baby and needed medical treatments constantly. This meant that either I had her die in my arms or I fought my illness and looked after her. I chose to look after her and began to bring her to the hospitals for treatments. Now 5 years later, I find myself able to leave the house, do my shopping, check the mail and even go out for outings…As long as there is some one with me. A couple of weeks ago I was bent and determined that I was going to step out my door and go for a walk by myself. I woke up that morning in such a panic that I bald and bald. Needless to say I didn’t go for my walk. But I’m okay with where I am with this illness. One day I will make it out on my own.

How my illness’ came to happen: I was in an awful marriage for quite a few years. To be honest I can’t remember how many years. I can’t even remember the date we got married. I remember the day  I left and the day I arrived in Hamilton. After that life for me became a blur. I ended up in a hospital on the phsyc ward for 3 months. Left and began to see a physiatrist 3 times a week. The Dr’s nurse would call me a cab I would take the cab to the hospital, and the meter didn’t change. I was less then 5 minutes from the hospital and couldn’t walk it. I remember sitting in the nurses office one day waiting for the Dr’ to show. There was a student Dr. there. She asked me how long I have been coming for visits. I said “ I think 6 months”. The nurse looked down at my chart and said “ Linda, it’s been 3 years.” I had absolutely no memory of the 3 years that had passed. It scared me so bad that I went home and attempted to kill myself. While in the hospital on the phsyc ward again I found out that my daughter was expecting her first child. Joy was back in my life, the first time in a long time. Things happened, found out my daughter was a junkie and living a very bad life style and CAS was now involved. CAS in Canada is an organization that looks after the welfare of children. I knew I had to get out of the hell I was in and became determined to become healthy for my grand daughter. About 6 months before she was born, CAS came to me and asked if I would like to raise her. I jumped at the opportunity and said I would of course. By now my life was consumed with Dr appointments for my daughter and her and babies well being. My depression and all the other mess was put behind me…so I thought. About a month before the baby was born another bout of deep depression hit me again.

With out thinking of what would happen, I took as many of my pills as I could in hopes of dying. I can’t tell you what happened or who showed up. I just remember waking up in the hospital and my daughter standing over top of me. I made a promise to her and to the Lord that I would never try this again if He could some how erase what happened and allowed me to go home and raise my grand daughter. By some miracle that is exactly what happened. A doctor came in, asked how I was feeling. I said okay. He said I could leave. For me I will always think of my grand daughter as my saviour. Some say that she is lucky to have me in her life, but the truth be told. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her.

Now the years have passed…5 1/2 years have passed. I am blessed to be able to raise two of my grand children. Something else they gave me, besides the will to live is the love of photography. Of course like every grand parent we are out there taking picture after picture of our babies. Something about children that I just love is their excitement over everything, no matter how small. Watching them and listening to what they had to say opened my eyes to the world again. I began to look at the world in a whole new way. They taught me to see, not just look. To go out and take pictures of something anything…everything, come home and upload them and see all that I was able to capture makes me realize just how blessed I truly am. Some one else who I owe a great deal of thanks to is Rick. He will take me for miles to take a picture of a flower or a tree that I’ve been thinking about. He’s an amazing man and I love him for his constant encouragement and strength. Life is good. Oh sure I still have my weeks. But at least now I have 2 good days out of 7 instead of 7 bad days. And who knows maybe next month I’ll have 3 good days. I could never imagine not being able to take pictures now. It has become a huge part of my life. It has filled an emptiness in me, it has made me want to be out there, and experience life again.

My advice to others who suffer with depression or deep depression is…that one hour or one day that all seems to be right with the world, think about what makes you happy. Go with it, and just do it. Oh sure, it may take you a while before it becomes a big part of who you are, but in time it will help. And use sticky notes!! Post them every where. Write on them…” I am good” “ I am smart” “I’m going to be okay” “ I am the best me that I can be”. When you see these notes around your house, say the statements out loud. In time you will grow to believe what is true…You are good. You are are funny…you are do have a reason for being here…you are loved…you can love.

Thank you Jo for giving me the chance to speak, and thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

Linda. xo
Linda you are more than welcome, and for anyone wishing to get in touch with Linda-Tiger Lilies Photography CLICK HERE