Thursday, October 27, 2016

Garden, effect, cause

The colour in the garden is mostly looking like this rose lately. There are still a few pansies hanging there, but not much else.

Mainly because of this a few weeks ago. It's nice now, but only going to get worse.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Frosted my bag awaiting the light

It was a chilly one this morning. I've shot downtown from the north several times, but never for sunrise. I have to say the street scene is much, much quieter in the morning, compared to an evening photo shoot. (That's the description, here's the photos.)

Everybody was headed into downtown, with one exception. A woman in a white hat and headphones did the stairs at least 4 times, and ran the hill at least once. Good for her. Hills and stairs are speed work in disguise. If she keeps this up all winter she will be very fast in the spring.

I shot from a few different spots, so if you're thinking you can't get all those shots from the same place, you're right. Lots to look at, even though the light was just ok, nothing spectacular. It's good practice to get out and get the shots.

Thinking of my buddy Neil while shooting this. It's his favourite bridge. Lots going on in this photo, and because it's nearly Halloween I left in some ghosts. In some of the versions I considered for processing, you can just see the mountains, which was a surprise to me. My eyes couldn't see them at all during the shoot. If you look at this one full sized, very carefully, you might see the mountains.

East village. This is as good as the sky got.

I goofed composing this. I love the contrast between the windows and frame of the two skyscrapers, and how small the hotel looks.

In the always look around, I caught the windows in these buildings winking at me. I hadn't realized the mountains would show up.

On the way home I got out of the car and fired this handheld, and I think it's the nicest traditional skyline shot of the morning.

I like taking a picture of the camera against whatever backdrop I'm shooting. I don't know why. Just because, I guess.  Something to do while waiting for the light.

For the last shots I was one landing down from the top of the stairs. They were pretty darned slippery! My bag was sitting on the bench as I was shooting. I thought it looked a lot whiter, and when I got back to the car I realized it had frosted up up quite a bit while I was shooting.

The Anderson pedestrian bridge is coming along. They are working on landscaping. I can't wait to find out what the camera will see at sunset or sunrise. Ran 5 K, 34 minutes, feeling pretty good. Towards the end my hams were talking to me a bit. Longish walk for a cool down, and stretched after. Anyone want to take bets on whether I core or not tonight?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fitness, blog anniversary retrospective, and cats

Oct 27, 2007 I started this blog. The very first one is ok, but then it was nothing but fitness blither for a while. Nine years in a couple days. This is blog post number 2190 over 3285 days, or a blog post every day and a half.

It's been fun. Unlike many people that either don't know what to write about, or have trouble finding the time, this usually doesn't seem to be a problem. If anything, the problem is the opposite, to capture the stream of consciousness that goes through my brain, weed out the drivel, and put it in writing in such a way that readers can get some faint sense of what I was thinking. I write about what pleases me, and usually it doesn't take long. I'm not about trying to increase my readership by pandering to the mob. I have a small but loyal readership, thank you guys for reading and commenting.

Like I said, it started as a fitness blog. Then I started slipping in a few rants on various topics. People seemed to like those. From there I branched out to include work stuff, NaNoWriMo, photography both iphone and Canon, and whatever other topics took my mind. One reader used the word eclectic, after a pause to think about it. I took it as a compliment.

So let's deal with fitness stuff and get it over with. The swim mojo is back. Today was 1 K, 18:25 nice and relaxed, even though my stroke had about 100 m of clunkerfest in the middle and some of the flip turns got tres sloppy. Some drill, and an 88 second 100 m, plus some pool yoga rounded things out.

We ran indoors after Sunday's swim. 30 minutes, and my phone says 4.25 k or so, legs feeling pretty good. First run since early October. I was really pleased with my run over the summer, and was a bit grumpy I didn't pace myself better during August. I'll be more careful with my builds next year. I'm looking forward to another winter of running.

I've been on the bike a few times, mostly easy spin to get my butt used to it again, and see what my quads and hams think. My heart and lungs are not working as hard for a given wattage as last year, but my legs feel weaker. I'll be working on that lots over the winter.

Core. My nemesis. I try to be regular, I do. Except I don't. Still, now is a good time to start building new habits.

No work stuff just now, though I'm trying to think about writing and photography in a work sense, in that the way to get it done is to just do it. Which explains sunrise photo shoots. I was thinking of heading out after second breakfast this morning to try for some foggy shots, but it had lifted to be uninteresting, and it started to drizzle in a cold almost sleet sort of way. Yuck.

Part of the joy of taking photos is showing them to other people. The blog has been getting at least one photo every day. Sometimes it inspires the text, sometimes they are not related.  These aren't always just the winners. I've included some that are flawed, sometimes as a demonstration of something I've learned, or because it inspired the blog text.

I've had lots of surprises about what other people think is a good photo, or what they like. I remember one particular photo captured totally by accident. I didn't even want to show it to her, and expected she would ask me to delete it. She loved it! Wanted it tweaked and sent in a reasonably high resolution.

I just started an instagram account (@keithcartmell if you're interested), though it isn't the best way to display them at all, but it is a good way of finding other photographers, and learning from them. I'm investigating a few other options of displaying my photos to best advantage, and to make it easy to buy them, if anyone should be so inclined. Only the winners will go there. One person has been promised a particular shot, and I haven't forgotten. I've had some nice compliments about my photos, and thank you very much!

"They" say that bloggers should do this and that, and there are "rules" about blogging. Post every day. Stick to one topic. Put advertising on it. Don't say "buy my book." Bah! This blog don't need no steenking rulz! So what you've seen is what you're going to continue to get. Unless I come up with other ideas.

Now to the important part of this blog. The cat photos. That's all you've come here for today, I know this. Although Curtis is very literary, often looking at what I'm writing or editing, and criticizing it, he won't put his paws where his opinion is and do his own blog. Celina is strictly verbal. We hear lots about what she thinks of the world in general, and the inadequacies of her humans in particular.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The clouds didn't cooperate

Shooting downtown skyline from the south at sunrise. There was great colour in the sky off to the east and I was hoping it would light up the sky above downtown. Alas.

I'd never really noticed the roof and lighting of this condo building. The semi-circle roof thingies (I'm too lazy to look up the correct architectural term) look like they should have a clock in them, and I was thinking of that old Harold Lloyd movie, where he is hanging off the clock face. You've seen the image. The sky is an ugly colour and I couldn't do much about it, but the buildings are nice.

One of my favourite buildings in the city. It's entirely possible I've spent more time inside it than any other building in the city other than my home.

I had hoped the pre sunrise rose glow way up high would deign to descend, but no.

Off towards the east there was a fairly nice sunrise going, but this is all the pink I could get over the city, and I had to push the image a little to get even that.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tracks in the fog

Some tracks are easy to miss. It used to be a valuable skill to be able to follow the tracks animals left behind. Maybe it still is, I don't know these things. But some tracks are unmistakable and unmissable, like the ones down the middle of Calgary, and many other western Canadian towns and cities.

It used to be the railway station was the center of town, and if the town grew, it grew around the station. It was common for a train to block traffic. Even now in downtown Calgary, there are only 8 ways to cross the tracks by car or bike, with underpasses at 4th St SE, 2 St SE (Macleod Tr North),  1 St SE (Macleod Tr South), 1st St SW, 4 St SW (one way north), 5th St SW (one way south), 8th St SW, and a level crossing at 11th St SW.  There are a few +15 pedestrian bridges, a couple of which are cunningly concealed within buildings or parking structures. If you have nerves of steel and don't mind trespassing, sometimes there are gates left open, which let me get this shot. Having buildings disappear into the clouds is an interesting effect.

The underpasses have gradually become eyesores. The homeless hang out in them. They are narrow and dark.  Lots of people hate going through them, but have no practical choice. Calgary is finally spending money to upgrade the underpasses and about time.

Sometimes it can be very frustrating to get around downtown, what with the limited railway crossings, one way streets, a couple scramble crossings to be careful of, and pedestrians who don't seem to understand they are taking their lives in their hands by stepping off the curb.

There have been discussions about moving or elevating the tracks, but the expense would be astronomical. Even after decades of growth, there are still empty lots beside the tracks.  The way the economy is these days, if there isn't a building going up on those lots now, it's going to be more decades till another one is started.

In a real sense these steel tracks were the first bones and sinews of Canada. That used to be the only way to travel long distances. Now it's difficult and expensive to travel by rail in Canada, which is a pity. The scenery along the rail line is often stunning. It's much more civilized than what air travel has become. I miss the trains in Europe, where even cars that look old and shabby on the outside are nice inside and travel 150 Kph at least. Some are much faster, and why don't we have them here?

Every now and then people bring up the idea of a bullet train between Calgary and Edmonton, but I don't think the market is there yet. Southern Ontario, from Montreal to Hamilton should be a natural. I remember when I first moved to Calgary there was rail service between Calgary and Edmonton, most days. It was called the dayliner, and ended service in 1985. It seemed that every week there was a news story of someone driving their vehicle into it or thinking they could beat it. Oops.

Now the bones and sinews are air routes and internet links. Airline travel used to be civilized. I flew periodically as a child, and remember men wearing suits, and women wearing nice dresses. Real  steel cutlery.  Airports were fun places to be. Not anymore. Given a choice I'd travel by rail over air any day.

A few weeks ago I was shooting downtown from beside the tracks, and was astonished how many trains were rumbling past. I probably spent more time listening to trains than not. One was so loud I was wishing I'd brought hearing protection. All freight trains though, no passengers. It's an interesting vantage point, but I don't think I'd do it again.

I suppose if I'd been really careful, I might have been able to capture the rail lines meeting at a point off in the distance, in the fog. Maybe next time.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I photospectathaleted

The original plan for today was to run a marathon. I didn't. I didn't even do a half. Don't feel sorry for me. I overdid it in August and am still recovering from extremely tight and cranky legs. Maybe next year.

I knew one of my buddies was running a half so I had committed to cheering her on and taking photos. I'm going to babble about the photo bit for a minute, feel free to skip a couple paragraphs. When I was taking photos of Michelle, Antje, and Amy at the 70.3 this summer, I was using a 100 mm lens. The shots turned out beautifully, but with such great subjects what else could happen? The only problem was I had to be a long way away from them to get the various posing shots that happen, and people were walking in between. That lens doesn't zoom.

This time I was using the new lens, a 70 to 200 mm zoom lens. I love it, though it weighs a ton. Even at 70 mm I still needed to be a little further away than I liked for the pre and post-race 'milling around' shots. It worked beautifully for the out on the path shots. I just need to get better at framing the person I'm shooting. I'm still aiming too high. Plus when I'm starting to shoot at 200, I need to remember I can zoom in and continue to shoot. Several times I stopped shooting and looked up only to realize they were still a long ways away.

One of the better shots of the day happened before the race as I was dialing in, figuring out what settings to use, and saw this couple trying to stay warm. I've no idea who they are.

This was a challenging shoot for me, so it was good experience. Pre-race was cloudy, so that's one set of settings. I rode my bike to meet Patricia at Crowchild so she could drop any extra gear. That's under the bridge and really dark with construction scaffolding, so another set of settings. Then I waited for her to come back outside, with light cloud gradually clearing, so another set of settings. Then back to the finish line, under clear sunny skies, for another set of settings.

I spent some time trying to figure out how to get the classic finish line photo. From a photographers point of view it sucked. Shooting from the corral to the finish line, it was really hard to include both the clock and the finisher in the photo. If you were back there waiting you had essentially no warning your athlete was coming. You were shooting towards the sun so your athlete's face will be shadowed. Let's just say I'm not happy with the finish line shot. When we got to the front of the line for the finisher's podium the shadows were unfortunate. There are some shots I'm happy with, and I'm sharing them with the appropriate people.

I've been on a bit of a tear, both taking photos, and going back to develop older ones. One image in particular was in my head for a bunch of reasons. It's a shot of downtown at sunrise, but everything at the base of the image is dark, so it looks like the buildings are anchored in darkness, and rise up to the light. Perhaps it's an allegory of some kind; feel free to speculate in comments. This isn't quite how I had it pictured in my head, but pretty close.

Which leads me to keeping track of photos so I can find them again when I have imagery thoughts. One of the things that kills me in Apple's iPhoto and whatever they call the current abomination for collecting photos, is finding a particular one. Lightroom offers sophisticated ways to group photos in collections, and using keywords, and star ratings, and perhaps there are other functions I haven't explored yet. I haven't taken advantage of any of them yet, wanting to see what I actually end up shooting, and how I'd think about it after. I'm thinking I need keywords for this one like; skyline, downtown, sunrise, from bluff above Inglewood Golf course. That narrows it down to several hundred photos now, and there might be more next week. I need to start putting some thought into this. It might well be the first major project once I get Lightroom going on a new iMac. Soon.

This other one was shot just across the road a few days ago. It's a little overdeveloped, but I was looking for a bit of a painting feel.

While I was watching all the other runners, and I was surprised by another buddy I hadn't known was running, I was thinking it's been an excellent year for running. I was consistent, I built gradually, I had the support of the best running buddy in the world, and ended up running better than I've ever run since I was about 17. So that's all a learning to carry into next year. My legs are feeling better, enough so that I was thinking about a run this afternoon or tomorrow. We'll see.

Oh, and my buddy? She did awesome! A new PB at this distance, and missed her A goal by a minute or so. If she wants to blog about it, I'd be happy to guest blog her. (Hint, hint.)

Late update, no guest blog. But here she is, running strong just past the half way point.


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