Friday, September 30, 2016

A bridgy sort of mood

Not abridged. No, you get the full version.

Just bridges inspiring some transitional thoughts today. First things first. After shooting downtown yesterday I took a scenic route home, checking some vantage points along the way. There was one I hadn't known of, where I got this nice panorama. (Look maw, no tower!)

From the same place I got this bridge.

Then a little further along I drove through Brittania. There are some very swanky homes there, most of them being classy and elegant, rather than cheesy McMansions. Some of them have a stunning view of the Elbow River and downtown. If I were to come into a ton of money (and you'd need it!) and happened to need a home, I'd love to buy there. I digress, I got the other bridge of the day from there.

Yesterday afternoon I met up with some Penn West alumni for drinks. Some are working in their field, one has changed industries, one is looking hard, and then there's me. Technically on vacation, in that I told one project manager I needed a month of vacation. That's winding up and I'm awaiting news of that project. Perhaps they've found other people more eager to participate, ones that could start now, and I'm no longer involved. At least they could tell me. Or maybe it's taking a little longer to get everything lined up and they have no news for me. Whatever.

Without going anywhere I've had a lovely vacation. It's been a busy month! The running has sucked slough water this month, which I think puts the October marathon out of reach. I could probably finish it, but I've no need to suffer through to just finish a race. Yesterday's 5 K, 33:18 was the first good run in almost a month. My legs felt springy and strong. The Tuesday 5K, similar time still felt a bit choppy and feeble.

I've been out on a number of photo shoots and taken a zillion pictures. Many are slight variations on what you've seen already. What boils down to the one skyline shot where the light and everything is nice, might have taken several hundred shots at slightly different times as the sun rises. Then you can pick the best one.

What's interesting to me about the photo shoots is finding neat little spots that I hadn't known existed in a city I've lived in for 36 years. I'm loving all the different shapes to the skyline, and how different it looks as the light changes. I'll probably keep doing skyline shots for a while as a way to practice composing shots, doing panoramas, dealing with all the choices in an HDR photo, and trying to get the light just perfect. Plus bridges, and landscapes/cloudscapes, and flowers, and who knows what else might catch my eye? I find I'm looking at the world differently now that I'm thinking about what the camera sees. I've got some nice compliments on photos so far, thank you very much. Don't be afraid to leave a comment about what you like, or don't like.

When I didn't work much in 2009 I found that I was busy almost all the time. Part of it was looking for work, of course. I was beginning to seriously wonder if I'd ever work again, or where I'd find the time to do so. I'm having some of the same thoughts now. I'm liking being able to swim in the morning and not have to be at work right away. I'm liking to be able to meet buddies and have lots of time to choose from. I'm liking being able to do what interests me during the day (well, except for this tax paperwork thing, there's some serious procrastination happening) or at night. I've been up late a few times and might do that more for sunsets, moonrises, or aurora chasing. Even getting up early to catch a sunrise is fun when you're also thinking about where you want to catch it from.

So, yesterday, I knew perfectly well that I was too close and too low for a really nice skyline shot, and I suspected the vibration from the trains a few feet away might ruin many shots. Even so, I wanted to do it and see for myself. I knew the sun was rising behind me, and there might be some good reflections. It's all about the experience of trying different things to see how they work out, and what you think. Sometimes the result is "won't do that again", and other times it's "holy crap that was awesome!"

The novel(s) have been on pause for this month, but I think things are coming together in time for a run up to NaNoWriMo. The mysterious behind the scenes villain has been making some noise in my head. Something one of the panelists said at WWC is "remember that the antagonist or villain is the hero of his or her own story." Stay tuned. Anyone else taking a run at NanoWriMo this year?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It was a good idea, but darned ghosts

This morning I found myself a few blocks down from where I often parked when I was working downtown, wondering what the sunrise would be like. There I was, happily shooting away, mildly astonished at the number of trains rumbling by. Exchanged waves with one train driver. Wondering what the vibration would do to the shots, since sometimes the whole Penn West building shook when a train went by. (It messed up only one, to my surprise.)

It was nice watching the sunrise. There was a bit of haze, and I had high hopes that I'd get that rosy background again. I did for a little while, then later the buildings got that golden glow that's nice if there isn't too much of it.

The good idea was to take one of the photos from earlier, with the rosy background, and combine them with another with the nice but not too much glow, and another with nice balanced light. The camera had been on the tripod for the entire sequence of shots, no change to the zoom, only to the shutter speed. What could go wrong, I thought?

Stupid crane driver messing up my shots.

As I was importing them into Photomatix I realized that one of the shots I wanted had a crane moved into the frame on the right. No big deal, I thought. It's called ghosting, where part of the 3 shots doesn't line up because something moved between the shots. Either I didn't do something right, or this was a really strong ghost. Even after importing, you could see where it was, sort of. Trying to correct it just made a bigger mess, then I realized the golden glow had got out of hand. While I was playing with it, wondering why it didn't look focussed, I realized the camera had moved ever so slightly between the set of shots. Back to the beginning.

I ended up doing two separate shots, one with the crane, and one without. One was shot just before sunrise, and the other just after it. You can tell me which you like better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sky, trees, water

Most people use sight as their main tool for sensing the world. Light from the sun or some other source bounces off various objects and enters our eyes. Our brains have learned to interpret this so we know that's our friend Kim, we can see our destination across an open area, and that's a car coming towards us quickly.

Our other senses don't let us move as quickly or confidently around in the world. Compared to dogs we don't have a sense of smell. Our range of hearing isn't particularly good. Our fingers and sense of touch are good as far as they go, but any octopus can do better. Taste only works on things that are in our mouth.

There are other senses as well. If we've seen an object we want to pick up, even though we can't currently see it, we can reach out and pick it up. Our sense of balance is pretty good; we are the only creatures that have mastered walking on two legs all the time.

But our eyesight is not infallible. In fact, it's pretty easy to fool us. We only actually really see a tiny fraction of what is in our range of vision. Our brains stitch this together so we perceive an unbroken whole. Usually this works pretty well. But there's a famous video where watchers are asked to count the number of times one team of basketball players pass the ball. Afterward they are asked if they noticed anything else. Most don't. That video has been updated, and I was fooled again. You can see several of these here.

I think one of the reasons I like reflection shots is they distort reality, and remind me that so-called reality was already distorted even before the light enters my eyes. A simple example of this is a ray of light bouncing off a surface. The exact mix of light wavelengths and the colour, texture, opacity, and other qualities of the surface influence what my eyes will perceive. Then there's what the brain does with the information. There are many ways we can be deceived or deceive ourselves.

Then we come to photographs. There used to be a saying, "the camera never lies." It did, and it does, and did so even before Photoshop. I've already had some fun playing with photographs. It's trivially easy to manipulate a photo to appear unreal. But even an ordinary photo is likely to have been manipulated in some way. The photos that make you go oooh and ahhh are certainly manipulated, often producing an unreal effect that nevertheless is accepted as real. What I'm working on these days is to produce an image that is still a photograph. Tweaked and tuned to make it the best photograph possible, what our eyes might see under ideal conditions. If I tweak and tune too much, I hope viewers consider it art instead of a badly edited photograph.

The first is near Baker Park, and the second is in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Over the hill, the old, the dead, but not morbid!

I was just a tad dubious this morning. Dubious about the whole darned thing, starting with getting out of bed. Still, it was supposed to be a nice day, and I was mostly awake, especially after the excitement of signing up for a Lightroom course put on by the famous Neil Zeller.

At first I thought of shooting downtown from a location I've run a number of times, but then realized the light was coming quick, and I wouldn't have time to get there. Then I remembered a suggestion that Tom Campbell's hill was good. I didn't know where to park, so I goofed there, but made it to the top of the hill just in time.

The light was never what I'd call spectacular, but it was pretty darned good, and I'm still at the stage where I'm working on reliably getting good images to work with. My theory is, get good at the ordinary images, then I'll be ready to take full advantage when spectacular comes along. In Calgary, that's every few weeks, on average, if you're in the right place at the right time. (There's an app for that.)

Downtown, looking over the hill. Yes, the purple and blue haze was there.

Remember I promised a week ago to get the Tower, the Palliser and the Grain Exchange into an old skyline shot? Here it is, though you have to settle for the back of the Exchange building. Unless you've got a magic lens, or a honking big mirror (hmmm) there is no way to get the front of the two buildings, and the tower, with no other buildings in the same photo. Give it a try, if you like, I'd love to see your results. Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure I can get the back of the Palliser, the side of the exchange, and the tower in a photo, but I'm not so sure about the no other buildings part.

The dead are sometimes good companions. They don't talk much, they listen if you want to talk, and they don't mind if you do other stuff like read, or take photos. Of course, this is ordinary light, nothing special. I'll have to come back earlier in the morning, later this year, when the sunrise is right.

My question about the whole morning is how did I not know about Tom Campbell's hill? That's a lovely place to go for a sunrise or sunset walk. I got a number of other potentially nice shots from up there that I'll have to develop. I am amazed and happy that some developer didn't snatch it up to sell off lots for expensive homes.

I scouted out a few other promising locations while taking the scenic route home. The wind picked up but it was still nice for a 5 K, 33 min run, 6:36/K pace that felt pretty good by the end. It started a little clunky and I didn't feel as strong as I would like, but it's in the books now.

Monday, September 26, 2016

And X never marks the spot

Where have you heard that before?

We all know, or can know (there's an app for that) how many days since we were born. None of us know how many days till we die, not even those who have been told by their doctor to put their affairs in order.

That number of days is probably biggest variable in retirement planning, and nobody knows the number. Leaving money to your children is ok, but it's money you earned and could have had fun with. Or if you don't have children, and your money lives longer than you do, you can gift it to an organization you like.

More fun, though you won't live to see it, is to gift it to a relative. There are many novels built around that premise, where the rich deceased leave their money to an already rich person, or to a relative not in the line of succession, or one considered undeserving. If you're really over the top you can put clauses into your will to torment those left behind so they earn your money. Such fun!

The living longer than your money thing is on my mind lately. Medical technology has been extending life expectancy by leaps and bounds. It seems reasonable to consider the possibility that they will continue to extend it, perhaps to the point that death becomes a voluntary act. At that point your choices would seem to be working on a regular basis, though perhaps nothing close to full time. In that case you'd better be doing work you like. Or do something that lets you accumulate a pot of money big enough that you can live on it in perpetuity. With a sensible lifestyle that number is probably smaller than you think. Part of the problem is that almost everything people are exposed to leads them away from a sensible lifestyle.

My current thinking is that I could work more now if an interesting project came along, or if it turns out there is something really expensive that I want, maybe I'd work on a less interesting project. (Really expensive is more than a new car and less than a new house, in case you were wondering.) But as time goes by it becomes harder and harder to work, and the pay gets less and less, and paradoxically, the work gets harder and harder. Working as a Walmart greeter, for example, pays the cube root of diddly squat and is a close approximation of hell on earth. Wait too long to find out you are living longer than your money, and there you are. Some might consider it a suitable punishment.

To not change the topic, this morning I was listening to the swim club kids in the hot tub. They are mostly high school age, and perhaps the oldest are in university. Their outlook on life is charmingly naive. They have a mental model that says if they do certain things, that they'll get certain results. A car, a boy or girl friend, a degree, a job, whatever, they just have to follow the path laid out for them. I wish them well in the learning experience they are setting foot on.

The famous X on the map that marks the spot never moves. In the books I read as a child it marked buried treasure. The books never talk about the getting past decomposing corpses on the way to getting the pirate's treasure chest out of the ground, or the finder's disappointment in the contents of the chest. Or even if they survived the experience, since there were usually other people hot on the trail. By definition it's someone else's map, not yours. That's what you get for chasing someone else's goals.

So much of what passes for information about life is all one time satisfaction. X marks the spot. X being marry the prince and live happily ever after (LHEA). Win the lottery and LHEA. Get that right job and LHEA. Live in the right neighbourhood and LHEA. Drive the right car, date the right person, drink the right beer, it goes on and on. But so does life. It's more than a one time thing. How many divorces do you hear about where the people involved were sure they were marrying Mr or Miss Perfectly Right? Yeah.

Happiness in life isn't a one time event. It's finding happiness every day. What makes you happy today might not make you happy tomorrow. Find happiness today. What will you do, or have already done today to find happiness? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Still have colour in our garden!

We've had several fairly hard frosts, but Linda has been diligent about covering the plants or moving the most delicate into the garage. Yesterday we were out and about for Doors Open YYC. We visited Lougheed House; their garden is spectacular! I was looking at ours in strong evening light, and realized there was still a ton of colour to be had, if you looked carefully. So here you go. If you want to know what is in the photos, you'll have to leave a comment and ask Linda.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Witch-King of the oil patch

So I promised, so I deliver.

My Wednesday blog had a dressed up overly-dramatic photo of sunrise over Calgary. The second photo, not the first. Or you could look at it embiggened here. I'd suggested a couple of story lines where this photo could be used as illustration, but nobody commented on the blog. One of my facebook buddies mentioned "It's the Witch-King of the Oil Patch donning his armour."

I suspect all my readers know that the witch-king is a character in Lord of the Rings. Once a mortal man, he was seduced to the dark side, I mean, corrupted to evil by a ring of power.

So who is the Witch-King of the Oil Patch? My take on this is corporatism drunk with profits. Corporations are made up entities that exist to make a profit, and insulate the people running the corporation from whatever bad things happen as a result of corporate activities. Everything else that corporations do is to serve those goals.

Compared to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the oil and gas industry is a very new kid on the block. It's only in the last 100 years or so that we've figured out how to extract the black goo and make it into useful products with a reasonable degree of safety. That last bit, safety, has been hard won. Safety was often the last thing on corporate owners minds. They wanted production now.

The result was a lot of people killed or injured along the way, and the dramatic expansion of regulatory bodies around every aspect of the industry. The bigger companies, by and large, have embraced safety culture as part of the social license they seek to keep operating. They've discovered that it really is cheaper to keep a worker healthy, than to deal with an injured one.

But there's still a bit of a cowboy mentality out there, that it's a manly profession, get in there, get'er done, get paid, and bugger off to the next job. I remember the first time BP started testing for Benzine in pressure vessels before people went in. (Exposure to Benzine is one way of getting cancer.) There was lots of pushback. "What do you mean, go in under mask? It's not sour, get on with it!"

Some of the other standards are a little tougher. Take pipelines, for example. Pipeline are the safest way of transporting petroleum products, provided they are built and maintained to the appropriate standards. And there's the rub. When a pipeline ruptures there are typically 4 possible root causes.

1) A known condition such as corrosion was allowed to continue without adequate mitigation for too long. (It's easy to believe that a functional pipeline will continue to be functional for another year. Or two.)
2) Something changed in the product stream that introduced a new condition, such that existing mitigation activities were no longer adequate. (Sometimes that change is known of, sometimes not.)
3) An external event happened, such as an equipment strike, or a flood washing away the surrounding earth. (Some of these can be planned for. There are extensive procedures around excavating soil near a pipeline.)
4) Something was not correctly understood and allowed for. At one time Stress Corrosion Cracking and Hydrogen Embrittlement were new and not well understood. Sometimes new materials do not behave as predicted.

When a company wants to build a new pipeline it's easy to say that they will adhere to all the relevant standards and implement a robust maintenance plan. Then budgeting happens, and it becomes all to easy to "tweak" the model, and defer work, or use a cheaper chemical, or something. Then we read about a pipeline rupture. The least damaging outcome is a fresh water leak, but even too much water in the wrong place can be a bad thing.

Other products getting outside a pipeline get to worse consequences very quickly. An explosion can cause many deaths and catastrophic equipment damage. Sour gas can kill quickly and with little warning. We've all see what happens with oil leaks; fouled waterways coating the creatures living there with oil.

I've been in the oil and gas industry for 25 years or so, and by and large it's been good to me. It's been quite the roller coaster ride, but it's very easy to make the case I'm one of the lucky ones. Mostly I work in an office in Calgary dealing with nice clean data, though I've done time out in the field getting my coveralls dirty. Not as dirty as some, I'll be the first to say.

There are lots of people that the industry has not been good to, mainly those unexpectedly exposed to petroleum products as a result of some incident. I can completely understand why various groups protest pipeline expansion. It's one thing for an executive approving a risk ranking to say that a certain level of risk is acceptable. The protesters rightly point out that executive isn't bearing the risk; that the people living next to the pipeline (or other facilities) are the ones that have to live with the consequences of an incident, not just now but forever after.  They have to trust the goodwill of a corporation, not just now, but every year into the indefinite future. There are lots of reasons why that might not seem like a good bet.

The recently ousted PC provincial government was hand in pocket with the industry. It's hard to say which was running the show. Decades of power corrupted the PC's and everything associated with them. The new NDP government is still rooting it out, and discovering the temptations of being in power. Just after the election there was lots of talk about uprooting and going to seek greener pastures. Greener meaning not yet plundered and with weaker guardians. Except that there really aren't any. I've heard of companies going bankrupt, but not of pulling up stakes and moving elsewhere. And no, the NDP didn't cause low oil prices.

There was talk of fighting the government, as if that would get anyone anywhere. Remember that social license? The NDP was a newly elected government. There isn't an oil company in the world that would come out on the good side of a name calling match. I had to admire the honesty of one executive who said something like "Our industry has always faced various winds and this is another; we will set our sails accordingly." I suppose one can read that several ways.

And after a big rant, the photo of the day. I hope you haven't read Day of the Triffids lately.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Recent reading and a flowery smile

Or I suppose, recent read. Only one book. This one.

I'm a bit of a sucker for productivity books, often prey to the though that I could/should be doing more with my time. It's probably true, what with hearing about people with demanding careers, children, and all sorts of activities on the side that alone would knacker most people.

This isn't the usual name-dropping bit with "advice" that is either really stupid or really obvious, together with "examples" that are fatuous at best.

There are 8 separate ideas, but they are more states of minds than activities. The one that got me was chapter 8, Absorbing data. I've spent my life absorbing data in one way or another, and recently reorganizing it to illustrate a point, or support a work plan. All too often the recipients are rolling their eyes, baffled at what seems to me to be a completely straightforward xl, complete with an explanation.

Not that long ago my boss asked to be walked through one example. I turned one monitor around so he could see the xl, but left the other so he couldn't see it, then I proceeded to read the email I'd sent to him, pointing at the various tabs, highlightings, pivot charts, and summaries as I did so. He said that was really good and exactly what he wanted, in both senses of the word. But he hadn't liked the email. Sigh.

The main point in chapter 8 is that, paradoxically, if you make it harder for people to understand the information, they will have to work harder and thus will understand it better. Two examples. One was people taking notes by handwriting or by typing into a laptop. As anyone who has seen it can attest, my handwriting is a scrawl at best, and quickly descends into a cryptic code I can't even decipher. It's slow and messy, and I often worry I'm getting behind because I'm not listening to what's being said now, as I'm trying to capture a comment that was said then.

I shared an office with a young woman who had the most amazingly neat handwriting, and it was fast. She could take notes in a meeting almost as fast as I could type. If I have to take notes for some reason, I want to type.

The problem is that repeated tests have proven that people that write notes remember the material better than the ones who typed them. I would like to disbelieve that, but I can see how it's true. I did lots of data entry. The data flows in your eyes and out your fingers, and typically does not pass through your brain in any real sense. When you are writing, you have time to think about it. You say the words to yourself as you write, you think about different ways to express the thought that might be quicker to write, you might use your own contractions, and there is something about the motion of your hand that links the words to memories.

The other example involves teachers not getting any real meaning out of expensive and carefully thought out dashboards of information about each student. So they forced the teachers to go through the data manually, to develop the dashboard results for themselves. Their comprehension and understanding of the data increased dramatically, and they better understood how it related to each child. Yes, it took longer, and was harder to do, but it worked.

At the end, the author offers a chapter on how it applied to him, and includes extensive notes. A fun and interesting read. I'm trying to apply these concepts in my own life.

It's a cool rainy day here today. It's snowing not that far away. But here's a nice reminder of summer from just a few days ago.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

So when the light is blah, make it up

Out at sunrise this morning, this time trying a silhouette. My original thought was to have sunlight or a bright sky behind the buildings, with the building lights on. That didn't work out so well, but it's still ok. I did get the sunlight coming right down 6th Ave, so that part worked out.

The sunlight in the clouds was kind of blah, so this is an example of an HDR image that has been manipulated hard. HARD! But I had fun making up a comic book story of big events in Calgary to go along with the image. What do you think, an alien invasion, someone having a bright idea, a super-villian weapon test firing, or what? Put any suggestions in the comments and maybe I'll blog on that. You know I will.

 When I was packing up my gear I had no idea what was actually in the camera. You can't really tell till you see it on screen, and even then it can be manipulated. I decided to take the scenic route home and scout out locations for future shoots, and I wanted to find one place I noticed during the basic Zeller photo tour. Which, just saying, if you haven't taken, you should, that's the first step to producing nice images with that nice camera you have.

The scouting wasn't what I'd call productive in terms of adding places to my list of good spots to go to. All of these were shot to simulate what the eye sees, without much attention paid to exposure. This first place had such promise, but I hadn't remembered that cell tower. Sigh. I certainly don't have the skills to digitally remove it from a photo.

No, I wasn't driving for the next batch, though you could be forgiven for thinking so. It might be fun to try a night shot and work in the head and tail lights, but I can think of lots of other places to shoot first.

Then next bunch is a good place, but holy doodle the way I took to get there is a bit of a scramble. I'm glad I wasn't carrying a pack with all my gear. Of course, I discovered after the fact there's an easier way to get there. Longer, but easier, and park somewhere else. But there was an upside, besides all the up involved.

And ta da! The upside, there is red red vegetation in Calgary! Just not much of it, and I came THAT close to wearing a lot of mud just before getting this shot.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The surprising skyline

I seem to have developed a bit of an infatuation with the Calgary skyline. It's always been there, of course, even back in the day when the Palliser Hotel and the Grain Exchange were the tallest buildings. Now you have to work to get those to show up in a Skyline shot. (Never fear!)

There are all sorts of places you can see the skyline in Calgary, and some of them are a surprising distance from downtown. Like 22 K. I've got it so I know it can be done, but I want to get a better one to put here.

As you run or bike around the reservoir, the skyline pops up here and there. Like this. Go a few feet to my left as I take this, and the tower essentially disappears.

Then I turned a little and got these upturned water craft with the beautiful colours. That tells you where I was, if you hadn't figured it out.

But the real treat this morning was to figure out where the sun would be coming up, finding a place that should give the desired reflection, and to get the shot. I took 146 shots so as to be sure I'd get a choice of what to develop. Even though it was cloudy the sunrise still painted the buildings a gorgeous rosy pinky orange. This took surprisingly little editing in Lightroom, mainly to bring up the colour swirl in the clouds, and a bit of cropping to fine tune the frame. From the same place, if it had been clear, you'd get the mountains as a backdrop. Another time.

My buddy Bart came along, but I haven't seen any of his shots yet. It was nice to watch the sunrise, chatting as the cameras clicked away. We were fortunate that the rain held off just long enough. In some ways photo shoots are like workouts. You never know what the weather is going to do, so you go anyways, and go prepared.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Right out of the camera

There's a story I read in a book about working with photographs. The young new photographer shows this beautiful photo to the grizzled pro photographer during a job interview. "That's a great shot," the pro says. "How long did it take you to get those effects?"

"Hours! This and that till it was perfect."

"Hmmm," the pro thought, then said, "That's too bad, I'd be interested in seeing what you could do in a few minutes. I can't afford for a shot to take hours."

I haven't played with any one photo for hours (yet). Part of the process is knowing when to stop. And sometimes, that's right at the beginning. I've had a few shots right out of the camera that I don't want to touch, though maybe other photographers would. This was shot with the new lens during a walk around the neighbourhood, taken only to show Linda how far away from the flower I had to be to get it to focus, as opposed to the 100 mm macro lens where you can get right into the flower's little face.
The only thing I did was crop to 16x9.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A change of life

My last day at Penn West was Aug 31. I have deliberately tried to think of myself as a retired person, rather than a working person on vacation. For a start, I don't (yet) have a job to return to. Not that I'm out there digging under rocks looking for one. There's been some expressions of varying degree of interest, but there's lots of ways for the wheels to fall off the various wagons before the paperwork is signed.

The first couple weeks of retirement have not been entirely unalloyed pleasure. I got a sniffle as a departure present so I was fighting that off. There was a 26 K run scheduled for the 3rd, and I bailed out at 22 K. From then till now the running has essentially been a no go zone. I don't think I actually injured myself, but I do think I was right at the ragged edge. My running mojo was in the middle of that zone where I couldn't get at it.

Other things happened as I gave my legs a break. Lots and lots of photos, some blah, some good, and some spectacular. They haven't all made there way to this blog, but some will, at least one a day. You may have missed yesterday, a skyline shot from the west, since I posted it quite late in the day.

Naturally I've been taking some time for reflection. Lots of people think of September as a time of new beginnings. A new school year. Coming back from vacation. Lots of people schedule new jobs for a September start after the kids are back in school. Money managers in various corporations look at their budgets and decide if they are actually going to spend, because now is the time if they're going to at all. Moms with kids going to school get together with their mom buddies to have a little celebratory freedom drink, then get down to the serious business of whatever it is that newly free moms get up to. It's probably best if their husbands don't know. I know some moms read this blog, and some might have kids that age. Feel free to comment!

The trees are changing colour here, meaning lots of golds, yellows, and almost orange. Not much red. Still, it's pretty spectacular.

The other day while rolling and stretching I got a huge thunk from my back and things started feeling better. There was a baby 3K easy run that felt pretty good, as did an easy spin on Thursday. Today I was itching to run, and ended up 5.5 K around the neighbourhood with my run buddy. We were forced, FORCED to stop and admire the view of Fish Creek. (Assembled from 7 individual photos, the resolution in the original is amazing.)

Since the clock wasn't running, we didn't mind taking a minute. That's been my mantra just lately, it doesn't matter if things take a few minutes longer. Unless it's traffic on the way to a place to watch a celestial event. Then minutes might matter.

So far I'm enjoying it, sniffles aside, and I'm glad that's ovre. The run felt good, and stretching after produced another series of good noises. I am hopeful I'll be back in the running groove soon, though I'm not going to push for the October marathon. I've seen too many buddies injure themselves trying to come back too fast, too soon, too hard. Not me. I'd rather settle into good volume, quality runs, and postpone a marathon till next year.

I'm having fun taking photos, and learning more about Lightroom and other photo related software. Still lots to learn. I've seen a couple more potentially good places for skyline shots I'm going to explore. Photo buddies, feel free to reach out for shared photo trips!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Skyline from west

The intent was to shoot the harvest moon. It didn't quite go the way I expected, but I wasn't the only one surprised. I wanted a photo of the moon rising just above downtown, but it rose further north than I thought. Later I figured out because we were on a hill the moon appeared to rise earlier. I'm still playing with some of those, but got this nice one earlier in the evening.

Yes, the sky was that funny greenish colour, with some rusty haze beneath it. I played with the image trying to get a nice blue, but I wasn't doing something right.

Besides Beakerheading, I'm loading photos onto a chip for a digital frame going to Linda's office. It ended up being about 6GB of vacations, flowers, and sunrises or sunset photos, plus whatever else might have sneaked in. I hadn't realized how many duplicates I had in iPhoto, need to clean that out.

Friday, September 16, 2016

First Image of the day

I've been thinking about lots of stuff lately, much of which is not fit for public discussion, at least not yet. But Neil had one piece of advice that struck home as I was thinking about how to use my time.

So this is going to be the start. I want to post an image every day. It will start here, because it's a platform I have now. Later it might migrate to another. They could be an image I just took, or it might have been taken a while ago. The images might be pedestrian, in that it's an image of something, in focus, hopefully a nice photo but maybe nothing special. Or maybe it's something nice dressed up in a way that has people saying "ooooh!". Maybe something unusual, or an image I got lucky with. Whatever.

Maybe I'll tell a story with the image, or maybe not. Maybe it will tie into whatever I'm blogging about, or maybe not. Maybe it will confuse you, or fascinate you, or enrage you, or make you want to give me money for an autographed copy of it. Whatever. It's a place to start, and I'll be trying to make them better every day.

I'm not going to bore you with the camera settings, and if you ask I won't tell you. There's any number of settings that will produce a similar image; find out which ones will work for you. This was during my walk on 8th ave during Beakerhead while Linda was busy with something. Later we strolled actual Beakerhead stuff, and there's more photos taken, but not yet published. Maybe later.

As always, comments are welcome. You can tell me you love the shot, or that I screwed up and it would have been much better had I done such and such.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Not out in the cold dark after all

Last night I decided to take advantage of the clear "dark" skies to have another go at the star shots, even though it's nearly a full moon. Here's a shot of my surroundings, shot in available light with the real camera. Why yes, I think that's a sour gas well, why do you ask?

I consulted the trusty Photographer's Ephemeris app and got into this screen. One is a zoomed in version of the other.

Those rings of colour are an expression of light pollution. Where I ended up was way west of Millarville, about 45 minutes from here. You'd think it would be dark, but no. The moon was bright enough to cast a strong shadow. If I'd brought a book I would have been able to read. As far as I know, there are no communities west of there, yet there was light on the western horizon, even after astronomical dark.

If I'd gone a little bit further and turned left, I'd have ended up in the dark green, maybe the blue, but I've no idea what the road is like. As I was looking later it says the skies south of Longview are dark. Maybe I'll try that in a couple weeks during new moon. Any of my photo buddies up for a road trip?

I got set up and after a few misteps let the camera do it's thing. I saw several airplanes, and what might have been a meteorite or satellite. I'm not going to be sure what the camera saw till the computer finishes processing the images. It's still chugging.

Here we go, 4 airplanes, 1 that might be a satellite or airplane way up high (look for the faint line top right to centre), and 4 what I think are meteorites (look in the bottom part of the screen). Essentially anything that has a circular motion is a star. Any other lines are something else.

Pro tip, clean your screen when you're going to be working with star images. Just saying.

For a first try I'm pretty pleased. The hi resolution version is very nice. All I did was point the camera directly away from the moon, set it to keep taking pictures, and let it run. No composition considerations. Nothing special done to it in Lightroom other than tweaking contrast and haze. Next is to have another go at importing the photos into iMovie or another app that will display them sequentially like a movie.

I did a few other experiments that didn't turn out quite like I thought they might, but it's all a learning experience. One thing was a surprise, I hadn't thought about cell coverage. I was getting 1 bar of 3G coverage, which is pretty pathetic. Maybe that's the case everywhere there is dark skies. For a summer evening with no wind, it was pretty cool. I think I'm going to wear a heavier coat, and maybe bring gloves. I was wearing a warm sweater, a windbreaker, and my bowtie hat, and was almost warm for most of it. Just before leaving it started getting actually cold.

This is the first time I'd actually used the ephemeris app, and it's awesome! There is a ton of info presented to help photographers plan their shots. In fact there is so much I'm going to have to take another run at the tutorial videos. Knowing where and when the sun and moon will rise relative to your location, or any chosen location is a huge advantage to planning a photo shoot. It will even tell you where it is anytime throughout the day or night.

For no special reason (Hi Janice and Janet!), I looked at LaHave NS to see what light pollution was there, and in particular, for the cottage we stayed in last time. Pretty dark. Pity that it's sold and doesn't seem to be on the rental market anymore. I could quite happily have set up the camera on the deck for some great star shots.


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