Monday, December 31, 2018

Industrially long and year end

Fish Creek is a beautiful park stretching across most of south Calgary. Much of it is so scenic you'd hardly know you were in the middle of a big city. Other places you can see distant homes. Some homes back onto the park and have to trade somewhat less privacy with a great view. I often wonder how often the people with that great view actually enjoy it by sitting out on their deck.

One place, however, that is not quite as scenic is right where MacLeod Trail, the LRT, and the CPR all cross the park. Fortunately, I like doing industrial stuff sometimes, and the CPR bridge has some interesting textures.

Your eyes are playing tricks on you. That post really is vertical. I've checked. Twice.

Don't forget the AMA! The clock is ticking.

Some year end burble.
It went by awfully quickly, let me just say that. It's the last year I expect to work in an office. While I liked several of my colleagues, one of them was a complete deal killer. In times past I might have taken more drastic steps to push back, but I didn't feel the need. Life is too short for such nonsense now. Sooner or later he will try that game on someone who is both ethical and has the authority to string his career up on a barbed wire fence to desiccate in the wind. Many will cheer.

I've had lunch with various people that are still working, and nothing they say about going into the office makes me want to do it again. Other paid work, however, would be considered. I've been doing some volunteer photography on request, and so far that's been a lot of fun. More on photography stuff in the image of the year blog next week or so.

Linda finished up her master Gardener course over the winter, then worked her volunteer hours mostly at Lougheed House. That and her own garden additions was a full load for her, to say nothing about staying ahead of the damned lily beetles. This coming year should be a bit more of a laid back year on the gardening front.

Fitness stuff has kind of come and gone for me this year. I'm glad I'm not training for anything because my consistency sucks. I ran a bit in the fall and it mostly felt good, but I dialled back (and by dialled back I mean essentially stopped) once the crappy icy weather came. Last thing I needed to do was injure myself by slipping on some ice just before our vacation.

It was not a big year for swimming either, though other than the last couple weeks, it's been a good fall, building speed and volume. The only outdoor biking this year was on my hybrid bike, after a sweet tuneup by Ken, Michelle, and Antje. I really need to figure out a better way of carrying camera gear while riding, since that's an ideal way to explore.

The road bike is still firmly on the trainer (which makes her sad, I know) but there's no way I'm riding through the ring road construction zone, and it's not been convenient to take the car out to a place beyond the construction.

Construction. That's practically the word of the year. For much of the year we could not get out of our neighbourhood without going through a construction zone, and for a while there was construction right in the neighbourhood. A detour on the detour, for heaven's sake. It's quiet now, but will fire up again in the new year. Like they were saying when I first moved to Calgary so many years ago now, it'll be a great city when they finish getting it out of the box. Pity we don't have much reason to drive on the new sections of the ring road going north.

Out of town guests used to happen a lot for us when we were active in the SCA, but not so much now. Still, it happened a few times. My buddy Janice from Nova Scotia was in town and we got together for coffee, though pity there's wasn't time for a photo ramble. I must get back to Nova Scotia in the fall with my camera, and since she is on the cusp of retirement, we ought to be able to plan something fun.

The conspirators got together to organize a party for me, which involved virtual out of town guests Kris and Sophia, and an actual Julie, who I don't get to see much. Later in the year the virtual guests became actual ones, to our delight.

So, the retirement thing, you ask. It's been lovely. My last day in the office was early August. To some extent it's been like an extended vacation. Sometimes I'm up early with places to go and things to do. Sometimes I'm feeling less energetic and have a quiet day around the house. I'm starting to think about longer term projects and have begun setting up. All my photography gear is downstairs in one place now, as opposed to on the dining room table, my desk, in the media room, or in the car. I want to set up a macro area once we're back from vacation. Last year I got the blues over the last part of the winter and intend on staying busier. I've been looking speculatively at various parts of the basement, and thinking. Yes, I made a ton of wine last year, and will be making more this coming year.

There are a lot of things one can do in retirement. You may have heard people saying they don't know how they found time to go to work. It's true. While we've been taking it easy over the holiday season, it seems like there's always something to do, or go to.

What's funny is how often things try to happen at the same time. Nothing is planned. Then a place date time is suggested. The next thing that comes up is almost always for that date and time. Sometimes things can be shuffled around, sometimes not and regrets are sent.

So even though I'm retired from office work, I'm not retired from life. Last year was pretty darn good,  and the most recent 5 years have been the best it's been. I'm thinking about ways of making the next bunch of years even better.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Oops, so busy I almost forgot

Busy with what, you ask?

My year end summing up burble. Or babble.

December Image of the Month. (a fairly painless choice this time, at least, so far.)

2018 Image of the year. (A painful choice, as always. I'm down to a short list of 23.)

Working on all that, I forgot todays. I was going to show you some bucolic Fish Creek photos.

Shot from Bridge 8, playing with zoom. This is 600 mm, hand held. That tree trunk is a long way off.

No idea what kind of bird that is.

Love vegetation that still shows a bit of colour even this late in the year.

Don't forget, AMA! So far, no takers other than the already fulfilled request for the seasonal decorations. Drunk texts on New Year's Eve are fine.

Long from wide

I'm having fun thinking about images with the really wide lens, compared to really long.

Starting with long today, even though this is really a continuation from yesterday's blog. Here's a companion image to one from yesterday. It's not quite as serene, but there's more texture in the ice.

Another view of bridge 8, and one of the views from the bridge.

What's making the murals even more interesting is that my buddy Sean has posted some of his photos on his blog. For the first three below, I'm thinking his edits are a bit more accurate in matching the actual colours. Mine are a bit more vivid, shifted a bit from green to blue, and I brought up the contrast in the bricks.

The artist is Adam Zhu, BUMP website, personal website. What complicates this one is there is a parking lot vending machine right in the middle. The BUMP website shows one solution to that problem.

This is another where the light was difficult, with a strong divide between the brightly lighted left and  shadowed right side. It's obvious where the divide is in mine, and completely not obvious in his. There are tools in Lightroom to fix this, but I decided to go towards the lighting I saw at the time.

The artist is Katie Green, BUMP website, personal website. Note, her personal website is totally NSFW.

Did I mention that it's time for AMA? I've already started to think up questions to be attributed to non -contributers.

Yes, I know which is going to be December Image of the Month, but I've still got two days where I might get an even better photo. You never know...

Yes, I'm working on 2018 Image of the Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Wide to long

Over the past several weeks I've been shooting the new Sigma 14 mm lens almost exclusively. It's a lot different than all my other lenses. One has to pay a lot of attention to the edges of the frame, and keeping the camera as close to level as possible. Plus it sees stuff that is almost beside me when I'm shooting. It's changed a lot of my thoughts about composition.

On a private Facebook page one of my photographer buddies was talking about her new 150-600 mm lens and asked for advice. Since I love giving advice, I shared. That got me to thinking, I hadn't shot mine for a little while, so lets go do that. It isn't as heavy as I remembered.

I did a couple pedestrian bridges, then down into Fish Creek, for nearly 300 photos. Many of them are near duplicates, of course. One of the tricks for such a long lens when shooting hand held is to take several shots at once. That way you're likely to get at least one nice one.

As a digression, for a while I was running low on current photos for the blog. After a night out with Sean shooting the belt line murals, and my day with the long lens I've got lots to share with you. I'll spread it out a bit so as to not overdose you.

Starting with wide.
I've been seeing these green bikes everywhere, but this was the first time I've had a camera in hand. I like how the light is working with that green, but I think I'll have another go next time I'm out.

On to the murals.

The artist is Natalie Nehlawi (website) and this is only part of the delightful mural. Darn that couple that parked a car just out of frame to the right! Sean and I had a nice evening scouting out the locations, and coping with the challenges of photographing them. Lots have signs (mainly no parking) or power lines, and glare issues from artificial lighting to complicate things.

The artist is Curtis Van Charles Sorenson (website) and this is one that suffered from glare coming from the big advertising sign nearby. That explains the slanted perspective, otherwise the glare is right in the cat's face, even using HDR tricks. Sean and I were discussing that early morning on a hazy day, after the sign light is off might be a better time to photograph it.

The artist is Kalum Teke Dan, with Colouring it Forward given as the (website). Here's his personal website. Pity about the car, and the glare from the restaurant. I'd like to have another go at this one in different light.

There are about 18 murals, and it's well worth a stroll to see them all. The map here is a guide, but Sean and I had to scout around a bit to find them. Plus he knew of one by the Rose and Crown that wasn't mentioned. In an update, you can see Sean's photos here.

Now to long. Getting warmed up. This is a case of the photo looking better than reality, mainly because the zoom lens compresses the scene. Downtown looks like it's just over the hill, but no. It's clear where I shot it from. 300 mm hand held.

Bridge 8. I don't think this is an especially attractive bridge, but it's looking pretty good here.

Three rocks in a frozen creek. I hope you can see the different textures in the ice.

A vegetative art shot for you

Friday, December 28, 2018

Fish Creek skyscrapers

I'd mentioned the ramble in Fish Creek earlier this week. Here's the little trickle I found with open water, and even better, something to cast a reflection. Yay!

These first two are taken from nearly the same place. The water looks like you could swim laps in it, but no, it's only a few inches across and a few feet long.

 I've been thinking about shots like this one ever since I got this lens, but this is the first time I've liked the composition, and had good light.

The life cycle of bullrushes is a complete mystery to me, but I somehow suspect that new plants grow from beneath the water and the dead ones eventually fall down into the water. The circle goes round in the course of a year, though I suppose breaking down the dead material might take a little longer.

For too long people believed that wetlands like this were a waste, that they should be drained and put to 'productive' use. We mostly know better now, and are starting to install artificial wetlands. In a generation I suspect they'll be indistinguishable from the natural ones, aside from some inconspicuous bits of concrete.

I'm finding the wetlands to be great subjects, assuming one can get in and out without being swallowed by the swamp, or eaten by bugs. Winter gives great access, you just have to look harder to find the subject. I've no idea why this water hasn't frozen over. It's barely moving, it's quite shallow, and there doesn't appear to be a warm source.

The trees take longer to grow. The ones in the photo have probably been there several human generations, maybe more. In a park there isn't much danger of them being cut down. They'll likely be there till a really big wind comes along to blow them down, or they get a tree disease. They are a fair way up the hill so I don't think the roots will be undermined and topple the tree. That happens in lots of other places in the park and can be photogenic. Often it doesn't even kill the tree, it continues to grow, just in a new direction.

Our own skyscrapers aren't nearly so durable. Usually they're torn down long before their useful life is over. Still, they grow from under ground, stand proud in the sunlight for a time, and eventually fall with some of the materials being recycled.

Perhaps there's a message there for us.

The message for you is, don't forget this is your chance to AMA!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Fish Creek ramble in flat light

Yesterday we had a bit of snow and some hoarfrost happening. I went down into Fish Creek near bridges 5, 6, and 7, but the light wasn't especially good. There's still some colour if you know where to look. This one is deceptive, though. That bluff looks like it's about 10 feet high and a person could scramble up. Not.

I was wondering if a musician had skied along here.

There is still some open water in surprising places, and some nice reflections to be had just behind these rocks. I'll put them up tomorrow.

Tonight is a planned walk in the Beltline with a buddy looking for more of the murals.

There is still some time for your Ask Me Anything question. So send them in via comments below, email, Facebook, even Instagram if you want, but no Twitter anymore. If you know my mobile you can call or text. At some point I'll get tired of bugging you for them, gather what I have (which could include made up questions attributed to people who didn't contribute), dip into the well of creativity, and answer. I'll warn you first so you can fasten your seat belts. You can search for earlier AMA results by using the search box in the upper left corner of your screen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Counting down

Another year almost over. Wow! This one went by quickly!

I have already responded to one AMA request. (See the festive display blog.) But there is still some amount of time for your Ask Me Anything. So send them in! At some point I'll get tired of bugging you for them, gather what I have (which could include made up questions attributed to people who didn't contribute), dip into the well of creativity, and answer. I'll warn you first so you can fasten your seat belts. You can search for earlier AMA results by using the search box in the upper left corner of your screen.

I'm starting to think about Image of the Year for 2018. It seems like just a week or two ago I dithered in agony about IotY for 2017. I've got some 19,000 photos to consider. So if you see me wandering around in an abstract haze, that might be why.

In fact it isn't that bad. Only 13 photos have 5 stars just now. I'll need to review and see if any should be bumped down to 4 stars, and look at the 4 star ratings to see if any have moved up in the world. That's obviously the short list. The toughest part will be looking at all 1545 three star (or better) shots to see if I've overlooked anything. No surprise if I have. My keywording and star ratings are sometimes done sporadically, erratically, and idiosyncratically.

Many bloggers write a year end post summing up the year. 10 best movies/books/TV shows/whatever. Bleah, not going to do that. But I might do something. Hmmm, it's the last year I can do a worst co-worker of the year. There was one of those for the few months I worked in an office this year. I didn't think it was possible, but 3 of 9 might lose her place as worst. (For those of a certain vintage, there's a Trooper song that might give you some clues.)

One last evening shot, just because it was fun to play with the wide lens, seeing how it deals with buildings.

You might remember I was helping a buddy with a studio shoot a little while ago. I got a photo of my own out it as well. I liked the sunlight on Steve's artificial hair. I'm in talks with some hairy buddies about doing a photo shoot for them. Wait, that didn't come out quite right. We're all busy with many things and scheduling is complicated. Working with the studio lighting was really good practice.

Here's another view of Steve.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Those seasonal displays

One of my long-time faithful readers prodded me a little this morning, in a seasonal greetings email (we email other times too) reminding me that I hadn't blogged photos of Linda's seasonal displays. Oops. My bad.

Which reminds me, here is my seasonal greetings to all of you. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, HoHoHo, Bah Humbug and all that. (Now that's done with, on to the good stuff.)

I'd taken some photos of them shortly after completion, but I wasn't entirely happy with them. So the light is nicer today, in a gently soft sort of way, so out I went. Here you go. The tree, out in the open, defenceless against the predator cats. But we've fooled them again. All the ornaments are unbreakable by cats. Toddlers, not so much, but none of those around here.

And the promised displays. Try to ignore the odd perspective on some of them.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Wide and otherwise south skyline

This is the last photo on the way home from beers and camera. In case you were wondering, it was only one beer, and food, and a several hour walk before heading home. It's done with the new wide lens. I could have cropped it to get rid of the fence, but three things. I like the glints of colour on the fence. It makes a dandy leading line into the photo. I really like that building in the lower right corner. Plus I like that you can see the stars and a airplane light trail if you look carefully.

As I was wondering about what to write for the blog today, I got to thinking about my other photos from this vantage point. This one is 40 mm equivalent, and cropped in a bit from there. Don't worry about the equivalent thing. Just thank me for the consideration of changing the numbers so they are comparable. You can see downtown appears to be a bit closer.

About 45 mm equivalent and cropped in a bit, so closer yet.

About 72 mm equivalent and cropped a bit so quite a bit closer. I wanted to get the tall buildings and that beautiful colour on them, and didn't mind losing the Tower.

Lastly, at 283 mm equivalent and uncropped, so this is no longer a skyline, properly speaking. At least I don't think so.

I suppose if I'd thought about this in advance, I'd have taken the behemoth lens and see what 600 mm looks like, or even put it on the old T6, and get 960 mm. I'd be able to peer into my buddy's office in the Bow and see where he gets his coffee from. Another time.

Another year is drawing to a close. Blur. My blogging schedule is going to be a bit erratic over the next little while. You may wish to keep an eye out on Neil Zeller's blog here, (at least I believe it's there, if I find out otherwise I'll fix it) and see what I said about the experience of taking his workshops. I did. You should too, if you're interested in photography and haven't yet.

I often do an Ask Me Anything feature about this time of year. So, AMA. At some point I'll gather the questions, dip into the well of creativity, and answer. I'll warn you first so you can fasten your seat belts.