Monday, August 8, 2011

Bird Sanctuary

While in Vancouver I went to the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary.

It started off as a miserable, wet day. Grey skies and steady rain. It didn't look very promising for photography, but we set out anyway.

Thankfully, my weather god skills were in full force, and as soon as we parked the rain stopped, and didn't start again until after we left. And so, camera in hand, we set off into the tamed wilderness!

This guy didn't seem happy to have his picture taken
At first it was a lot of ducks and geese, followed by more ducks and geese, but as we progressed we found more, different fowl creatures.

 Eventually lunchtime rolled around, and snacks were distributed:
But I think my favourite sighting was right at the end, when we heard some hoo-ing and traced it up to a tree. This guy was really well camouflaged, and at first we couldn't see him at all!
I took the picture to the admissions desk and mentioned it to the lady there and she identified it as a Great Horned Owl and this guy looks pretty similar to the picture on Wikipedia, so I must agree. So far they hadn't had any Owl sightings in the sanctuary this season, so we were the first! We were quite pleased with ourselves for our that.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maestro and Tweeter

While on my roadtrip to Vancouver I stayed for a few days at a friend's home, and 'lo and behold they had two brand new kittens to play with and be scratching posts for.

Maestro (the black one) and Tweeter (Tabby) are both littermates, and Tweeter is apparently the runt of the litter, as she is considerably smaller than Maestro. She doesn't let that slow her down, though, and she's learned to push Maestro away when he tries to horn in on her food bowl. Good for her!

In these photos Maestro looks very calm, cool, and collected. Very appropriate for his name. I assure you it is all an act. 90% of the time he was running all over the place trying to climb or attack anything that he possibly could. In short, very typical kitten behaviour, and loads of fun.
Tweeter, of course, is exactly the same. Just smaller, and harder to catch. She has a tendency to gnaw on fingers in a way that implies she hasn't quite figured out the difference yet between playing and fighting, but she's getting better. When she doesn't get carried away, there is little else in the world as cute as a kitten playfully nibbling on you.
 Could you tell, by the way, that my friend is a musician? Tweeter was named in preparation for getting a dog named "Woofer".

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Plains of Alberta

Last week I began a roadtrip out to Vancouver, with a number of stops along the way. I decided to take the southern route along Highway 3, with a stop in Drumheller. This made for a distance of 1639km, and according to Google Maps would take about 22.5 hours of driving time.

Along the way to and from Drumheller I found some striking prairie landscapes. I tend to forget how beautiful my own province can be. Since I live here and can see it every day it all just seems normal to me. For this trip, though, I wanted to make a point of stopping and really SEEING what I can see every day.

I was certainly lucky to have lots of cloud cover to add texture to the sky. In fact, it had been raining on and off all day, and rained overnight as well, but thankfully whenever I was out and about the weather was perfect.

Of course, the reason to go to Drumheller was for landscapes that cannot be found elsewhere. These will be appearing here soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Drums of Canada Day

I haven't updated here in quite some time, but I have indeed been busy. Let's get started with the backlog, shall we?

First up, the most recent! I went to City Hall for Canada Day specifically to catch a part of their multicultural performances, specifically Booming Tree Taiko. This is a duo of drummers who have taken traditional Japanese drumming and put their own twist on it.

Canada Day (30 of 41)  Canada Day (25 of 41) 

Their show was, as always, very powerful and lively. They try to tell stories with their music, and I think they succeed. In particular, one of their songs was played by competing fishing villages as they bring in their catch, and the competitive aspect between the two drummers was quite apparent.

After their show I explored Churchill square a bit to practice some candids. Nothing special, but fun was had.

More to the point, though, Canada Day isn't complete without fireworks. Thankfully I have access to some of the buildings at Government Centre, and made my way to the top floor of one of the office buildings where I was able to get this:
I will readily admit that this is a photoshop of multiple fireworks bursts put together, but I think everybody agrees that it looks pretty spectacular!

More posts to come soon. I won't let several months go by without a word again!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Young Couple

A friend of mine whom I have known for years was finally offered a ring not too long ago. Of course, she was thrilled, and immediately accepted. Then, of course, the long planning process begins of making the wedding actually come to pass.

Thankfully I was honured to be able to take some engagement photos for her and her fiance. Complicated somewhat by them living out in Ontario, but nothing insurmountable. We arranged to meet up when they were visiting her family over the Christmas holidays.

It wound up being a beautiful day, too, but none of us wanted to spend much time outdoors, all bundled up in winter jackets. It wasn't THAT nice of a day. So off to Muttart we went for as much variety of background as you could find.

All kinds of beautiful growing things to act as backdrops and props, and even some really weird things in the feature pavilion.

Fun was had by all, but I really had driven home to me the importance of making sure that your models feel comfortable. Apparently her fiance is never really comfortable getting his picture taken, and it really came through on a  lot of the shots. I found that many of the really good ones were the ones where, later, I found out they had no idea I was shooting.

We had hoped to also get in to some of the buildings at the University, as they can have some really neat interior architecture, but it happened to be a holiday for the staff, so all of the interesting buildings were locked and inaccessible. That was alright, though, as after wandering around the University for a little while, we were all pretty tired and it was starting to get late.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Electric Love Song

A few months ago I went to Lyve on Whyte (now closed!) as I was invited to come and check out a band. It was a local group called "Electric Love Song" and I thought I would take the opportuntiy to practice some of my concert and musical photography.

I was pretty happy with what I came up with. The lighting, as always for a musical event, was horrid but I think I managed to adjust fairly well in post-processing.

I found that a lot of it was about location, as in the above image where I get to frame the guitarists head with some background lighting...

...and timing, as in this case where I catch a moving strobe just as it passes by to give me some hair highlights and a lens flare. Often enough those lens flares are undesirable and kitschy, but I think it works out pretty well in this instance.

One thing I have to work on is figuring out how to photograph a drummer. I can't seem to figure it out. I do take photos of them, but none of them come out looking at all interesting. I think there are several problems working here... specifically that they are always at the back, far away from where I will typically be standing and they have to move their hands quite quickly, making for a lot of blur given the longish shutter speeds that I have to work with.

I really need to learn to get up closer and use my prime (non-zoom) lenses. I feel like I shouldn't be on the stage, though, and I get annoyed when I see other photographers getting that close.Intellectually I understand that this is acceptable (with permission, of course) but on a visceral level I really don't want to get in the way of the audience.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Blast from the Past

This was one of my earlier, and funner, experiments in off-camera lighting.

I for some reason was quite taken with the idea of taking some shots in Film Noir style. That old, gritty, 1940s PI type feel. The sort of thing that needs a Maltese Falcon somewhere nearby. Thankfully I had a roommate who was in to that sort of thing, and had all the appropriate clothing and accoutrements to go along with it.

I tried experimenting with a few different things. One flash, two flashes, sometimes blocking the light, sometimes not. Always aiming for a very stark, somewhat uncomfortable feel. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to be caught in a dark alley with somebody that looked like this!

And to think... I was living with him!

I would love to be able to do something like this again if the opportunity presented itself.