Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mountain, zoom, not B and W, but almost

Yesterday I posted a B&W shot of a mountain as seen from the Ink Pots above Johnston Canyon. I've been editing more of the photos today, in between a busy swim, and fun coffee date with buddies, where I drank a superb decaf mocha. Oh, what the heck, it's really pretty, probably the nicest ever looking cup of coffee I've ever had. And you wonder why I don't go to Starbucks.

This shot is a tiny subsection of that shot. For the photographers out there, yesterday's was at 70 mm with a crop sensor, todays is at 200 mm, handheld.

If I were a real imagery geek I'd put that other image here, with a tiny square and the four lines indicating where it came from. But I figure my readers are smart. If I tell you it's from near the centre, the ones that care will find it and marvel at the zoom. The ones that appreciate the textures of rock and trees will do that and move on.

Yes, it's an odd shape for my photos. Thank you for noticing. My normal pattern is to crop to 9x16, and portraits go to 8x10. Sometimes the photo will demand a different crop for some reason. This one? I couldn't bear to cut any of it out. Plus, cropping much of it out will have the effect of zooming in further and I think that starts to degrade the image quality.

Still, I can't get over how many trees there are, clinging to what must be a tiny patch of soil along the ridgeline. That's mother nature's tenacity for you, trying everything and seeing what works.

In comparison, here's what it looks like at 20 mm. The light was kind of flat while we were there, and looked like it was clouding over more as we waited for nicer light. By the time we got down it was clearing, and was mostly blue sky on the way home. Perhaps had we waited even longer...

My buddy Sean also has some photos from the day on his website. I haven't got around to do the ice falls yet. Stay tuned.

This was one of my best photography expeditions, and I'm so glad Sean suggested it. Normally the trail is really crowded. On the way up we saw about a dozen people, including a couple of women older than us who skied up. Good for them! Just walking up had me sweating hard, and I wouldn't want to think about up or down on skis. And yes, it totally went into the fitness tracker!

The way down was different, we saw lots of people, some of whom were barely dressed for the weather. I would not be surprised to hear that some of them had some slip slide adventures along the way, even on the lower portions of the trail.

I mentioned the mini-crampons I bought, and I can't say enough about them. I walked on sloped ice like I was in running shoes on the street. Up and down steep hard packed slopes, steep like a set of stairs with the snow completely filling it up, felt perfectly secure. And the best part? If you wear one or several of the individual cleats, you can buy a replacement package from Lee Valley Tools, and replace them as needed. If you look closely, they are a hex bolt with the centre hollowed out by a drill. $50, and a great deal. I might actually run with these on my shoes when it's icy out.

In other news, none of you will be surprised that I didn't run today. Swam instead, mostly pretty easy, except for when the guy in the lane next to me tried to race me. Put him in his place. And the woman I was sharing the lane with, wearing fins and working hard, tried to race me and mostly kept up to the swimming part, but I do my flip turns way faster. Gotta work on that core!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Just another mountain B and W

It's 12 k return from the parking lot. Wearing mini-crampons on boots. Uphill big time, 215 m net elevation gain, but the up goes up more, then down to the Ink Pots. Here's part of the view. More later.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The score

On Monday I gave you a choice of two really similar bridge shots. Some of you played along in comments and other communication. Thank you for your preferences, and for the ones that commented about why it was their preference, thank you ever so much!

The original was deliberately composed to have the bridge deck in a certain place in the photo, right along the top third line. It only took minor cropping to do that. In that sense it was a success. However, it didn't make for the best photo. Several people suggested the mountain behind the bridge was more interesting.

So I took the exact same photo, and re-cropped it to show more of that, and not worry so much about where the bridge was. Nothing else at all changed between the photos.

And ta da! The second photo won 7 to 3. Thanks again for playing along.

The lesson for me here is not to get too hung up on composure rules.  Rather, look at the scene and see what is compelling that makes the best shot. Humans are notorious for seeing what they want to see, and I was focussed on that bridge.

In novel news, a germinating idea burst forth and I pounded away on the laptop for a couple hours to capture it.

Here's another black and white from the Waterton trip.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The coffee experiment, revisited

Once upon a time I didn't drink much coffee. Then we got a French Press and fell in love with good coffee. The only problem with that is that it becomes easy to drink too much coffee. For a while at Penn West I was drinking too much and tried to cut way back, too much too fast. I started getting some headaches that went away as soon as I drank some coffee. I experimented a bit and found that a cup at home, plus a cup brought from home in a nifty little travel thermos was perfect.

It turns out lots of habits change when you stop working. Who knew? The two cups still happened, but often both at once. Then sometimes there was a coffee after a swim or a run, or coffee with a buddy. We were out for a swanky brunch buffet on the weekend, and I drank their coffee like I'd never have it again.

Then I realized my sleep has been crap for the last little while, and decided it was time to take myself in hand, or rather take just my mug in hand. It's been a cup and a half only since Sunday, and I'm sleeping like a rock. Yay! So that will continue for a while. I think the better sleep will help the fitness.

What's your experience with coffee affecting sleep and fitness?

I'm bumping up the fitness stuff a bit, mainly trying to build consistency. Right now it's swim and run, and I'll add in the bike soon. Swims are typically 500 m then a bunch of 100 m intervals at CSS pace. For today, the 500 was 8:50, then 7x100 on 2, max at 1:45, and most were 1:43. This has been pretty typical. Then 100 fast (trying to keep up with Ed the Repsol swim coach), 87 seconds. Then some backstroke to cool down.

Running has been going well too, spending some time on the treadmill, wearing my heart rate monitor again. So yesterday:
-1.1 K brisk walk to warm up
1.3 K easy run to warm up more
On the treadmill, 5 min at 7:30 pace with HR steady at 125. (this could have gone on for a long time, till I was thoroughly bored.)
5 min at 6:00 pace, with HR steady at 140 (I'm not sure how much longer this could have gone on, but a while anyway.)
2 x 2 min at 5:28 pace, HR at 146 first time, 143 the second time. (My legs were starting to come apart, and my breathing was really hard, I'm pretty sure this is right up at the top of the aerobic zone, maybe even into anaerobic.)
Cool down a bit on treadmill, then another 700 m or so walking on track to cool down.

It felt surprisingly good, and my legs have felt really good since. I was on snowshoes about an hour and a half today, but I was getting tired at the end. Not like I was plowing through a ton of snow, it was pretty hardpacked. West Bragg Creek is nice.

Sunrise the other morning was lovely, though I missed a good one today.

I'm getting ready to count up and publish the score for the bridge photos, probably tomorrow. If you want to take a look and have your opinion counted, visit and comment.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Keith, Hydraulic Engineer wannabe

Here I am, preparing the course for the dragon boat races scheduled for tomorrow.

Yes, it's really T shirt weather outside.

My neighbour Jeff and I have learned from bitter experience that we don't give the water a place to go, it will pool on the sidewalks and not go anywhere. This is bad because it will freeze overnight.

Oh, and sunset last night was ok. Nothing special.

This is an old photo, but Curtis and Celina are always special.

Monday, January 16, 2017

You get to choose!

This is how much snow we have now. I'm going to take this same photo every morning for the next week or so, and see how it changes day by day.

This is really one photo, edited slightly different ways. It was on Neil Zeller's workshop page and was the subject of some great discussion. I'm curious, which do you prefer, and why? You might wish to open each in a larger window. Vote in comments, or respond to the Facebook post or the tweet.

This is the second version of it, after a bit of tweaking.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Fact 1: We've had lots of snow over the last several weeks.
Fact 2: It's been consistently very cold until yesterday, and today is well above zero in brilliant sunshine.
Fact 3: The roof of our house is a metal shingle system that looks black but is actually called Charcoal.
Fact 4: Then this happens.

This is a small roof avalanche, and I was fortunate enough to catch it. Sometimes the entire roof clears at once and it sounds like a train going by, complete with noise and vibration. The first time it happened the cats just about wet themselves, wondering what was going on. 

There is one spot where it can fall onto our front patio, which is not the best thing. It turns to cement as soon as it lands, and gets worse if left. Good thing we don't get a lot of visitors.

The sunrise was amazing today, with all sorts of reds and purples and dark blue backgrounds. These photos are not particularly dressed up to push the colours; this is really the way it looked.

We've been happily binging on Fringe, generally watching 3 episodes an evening. I think we've got a couple left in Season 1, and I completely expect it to end on a big cliffhanger. We happened to see seasons 2 and 3 in a used books store and picked them up. No waiting to see what happens!

The Adobe Portfolio thing is still in progress. When complete I'll put a link here.


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