Friday, November 30, 2018

The Dec cover

Some of you know that I volunteer for the local community association. A few of my photos end up on the cover of the community association newsletter. I like to let that hit the street first. This was shot in Fish Creek a few weeks ago, just after a snowfall.

The cover is cropped a bit, and that is the full image.

This, of course, it Curtis's tail, glowing in the morning light.

I can pick up a new lens tomorrow (Saturday) and I can't wait to get it on the camera. It should be amazing for night skies. Think wide and fast. Wider. Faster. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A sunrise

The 13th was good for both a sunrise and a sunset, but I've been distracted with other things.

Like the library shoot, you can see all 26 shots here.

The sunrise, from our front step.

Towards the end, on the way back in for coffee.

Then that evening, me wishing I'd taken out a longer lens.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Library, the wood!

This is the post for the wood lovers. I was totally enraptured by the wood in the new Central library. The curves, the colours, the light, the space are amazing. There are great shots almost no matter where you point your camera.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Library, the stairs

Stairs are a major part of the central area in the new library. But not obvious stairs all in a neat pile, good only for walking up and down. No, these are are part of the ambiance. They are a joy to walk up, and to do them all you have to stroll around a bit and you get to appreciate more of the lovely views. The curves never stop!

This was a fun shot, pointing the camera up along the rail. Almost kind of a pity someone wasn't standing just exactly in the right place at the top of the stairs.

Yes, I hung onto the camera quite carefully for this shot. It's a long way down.

I played with the settings for these next two shots, trying to get the effect of ascending the stairs from mostly darkness into the light, but I never quite got it to work out the way I wanted.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Library, the metal

More from the Central library shoot. Much of the library is wood, and there's more of that coming tomorrow. There's concrete too, but I didn't pay much attention to that. Then there's some metal.

The stairs have these metal studs at the top. I'm guessing they are to warn people. I liked the pattern.

One of the first things you see when you come in the doors is this bison. About the only thing that I'd have liked to see added is eyes. As you may recall from several years ago, I used to ride past a bison herd while training for Ironman. For several rides there was a bison mama with a calf near the fence, and I would get major stink eye from her. I had zero faith in the bison retaining capacity of the fence if she got pissed off, and even less faith in my ability to ride up the hills faster than she could run.

I don't know if the library staff have named this bison or not.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Library, the beginning

Yesterday I mentioned the Saturday morning shoot in the new Central library. Here's a few more shots.

I got there early, of course, and strolled around a little in the light snow, looking for outside shots. There's a wide staircase leading up from the east side, and I think it looks sort of like a plow. Linda thinks sort of like star trails. Each piece of wood was individually cut and steamed to fit.

The other side, looking at the ugly end of City Hall. I was just loving that blue light from the big mural.

One of my fellow photographers.

From the inside, looking at the reflection of that mural, and the outside scene.

This is some of what you see in the entrance hall if you lie flat on your back and shoot straight up.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Early morning library shoot

Really early. Central library. It was snowing hard overnight. We had to be there for the staff to let us in at 6am.

It was so worth it. Holy Doodle! I'd been in on a brief visit a few weeks ago, along with a zillion other people. Today was some staff and about 20 other people. We had free run of the place. The best part is that the other people are photographers who are aware of what other people are trying to shoot, and everybody was really good about coordinating walking and shooting, and sharing the space. Even the staff were really good, pausing before walking where a camera was pointing.

This is not your parent's library, with Miss Grundy shushing you if you breathe loudly. It's meant to be a living space, with a section for kids (books and play), lots of meeting and work rooms,  a reading room that is so gorgeous it nearly brings a tear to my eyes, and quieter spaces for people to read or work on their laptops, or just hang out and relax.

The heart of the library is a wood enclosed central space that is nothing but curves. Lovely beautiful curves leading your eyes along, with more to see everywhere. I suspect that every piece of wood is individually measured and cut, with no two alike.

Rather than hitting you with more than 2 dozen shots at once, I'll space them out so you can appreciate them.

When you walk in, you will look up. You will be amazed. You have never seen anything quite like it. The entry is below me in this shot, but this is the space you are looking into.

OK, it's taken me a while to get to this next photo. I keep finding more things to look at in that first one. Do you see the person? The scaffolding was being assembled to replace a pane of glass.

Here's the reading room I mentioned. Several people had fun playing with the composition by putting some books on the table in the foreground. I moved them. I deliberately wanted to contrast the curves and the warmth of the wood, with the angular tables, with just one book to break the curves and symmetry.

Yes, I'm lying on my tummy stretched out on the floor, playing with the composition of those curves. When you're shooting a wide angle lens even an inch or two here or there, or pointing it in a slightly different direction can make a huge impact on the photo. Naturally, I was concentrating on the prow of the ship, and the shape of the ceiling.

Here's the group I was with, with the famous Neil Z off to the left, helping us understand how to get the best shots. I'm fairly pleased with my pre-Neil advice shots, but the ones after were better.

Stay tuned for more!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Cats spooning

Can't say much, had a busy day today, and need to prep for a photo shoot at the new Central Library. A prominent local photographer has arranged for him and some buddies to get into the library early. We get to shoot this stunning building in the morning light, with hardly anyone around. I hope to have some nice photos to show you, though it's going to be tough to top some of what I've seen so far.

In the meantime, you get Curtis and Celina.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Not gonna Black Friday

My email and Facebook feed is full of Black Friday sale advertising. I don't mind when it's people I know personally, showing some hustle for their business. But everything else, I don't need it, and don't want it. That's both the advertising and the products.

Many of the things we buy are like kitty litter. This is an essential product in our house, and we go through a certain amount of it a month. We buy more when we need it. There are some things we buy, and pay a little extra for it, because we want to. Can we eat cheaper cuts of meat than rack of Alberta lamb? Of course, and we often have chicken, or bison, or other cuts of lamb, or various kinds of fish. But BBQ rack of lamb in a specialty Linda marinade is an amazing meal, well worth it.

We buy various plants for the garden, and stuff to decorate the house or garden with, and periodically replace appliances. We suspect the fridge is the next thing to go, and that might be a problem. There is a relationship between fridge size, and waistline size for most people, and I'm not sure which is cause or effect. The problem is that our fridge fits inside a cabinet, and that cabinet is a limited size in comparison to the obese fridges of today. Last time we looked, a few years ago, there were a very few  models of fridge that would fit. Mind you, it cuts down our choices, and therefore simplifies our life, so there is that.

There is a particular camera lens that I'm thinking about buying. Think wide and fast. Wider and faster and more expensive. This is purely a luxury, in that I don't need such a lens. If it had been on sale, I might have lined up, but not to save $50. Maybe to save $500. But it isn't, so there is no urgency to buy it now. Maybe in a few weeks. Certainly when the store is less crowded.

I try to scroll past all the other ads. I'm slowly learning how to do this, though developers do everything to make that difficult. Consider text on paper. Yes, old fashioned. I have decades of experience in reading text in various formats (books, magazines, newspapers (for my younger readers I'm not going to explain, ask Mrs Google what those are)) and looking past the advertising.

On line it's all pop ups, and pop unders, and embedded junk, and all sorts of other coding tricks. I'll tell you a secret. I will not click to a next page. Ever. If the web server complains about my cookie policy, or doesn't like my device, or wants me to enable something, I close it and go on to something else. The pain in the ass is sometimes finding that little x to close it. I have no patience for such nonsense.

Just think about all those consumer products that are advertised. You've seen the video of people lining up at some retailer and bursting through the door to grab some box of cheap shit made in China by slave labour. Sad.

You may recall me blogging about the clean up day my local community association puts on twice a year. The sheer quantity and variety of stuff is amazing and overwhelming. Once it was new, now it's mostly landfill. There are more ways to pass these goods to someone who needs them, but it's still really difficult to connect a giver to a wanter, and arrange transportation.

I find myself thinking if I really need a particular thing, and the answer is often no. Even the things I do need, are distressingly poor quality. I remember when new jeans were nearly bullet proof and lasted years if not outgrown. Now they're almost as fragile as nylons. Our garbage is killing our planet and we have to stop.

Humanity lived for millennia without an economy. Without businesses to provide jobs. We can't live for one day without our environment. We need to be smarter about managing our 'economy' to better sustain life on this planet, and I do not mean providing more toys and trinkets for the masses.

So Black Friday I'm going to avoid the stores. I'm planning to swim in the morning, then we'll have lunch with friends. Linda has a few finishing touches for the seasonal decorations in the planter pots. Here's a teaser for you.

This sky has been a bit of a tease sometimes as well. I saw this happening and had high hopes for a little later, but no. This was as good as it got.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sunrises lately, especially today

Wow! I didn't even start to make coffee this morning. The sunrises and sunsets lately have been pretty nice, but today! Double wow! One glance out the window and I was running for my shoes and the camera. The lovely light took up a huge part of the sky.

Looking east.

Looking south west.
 West and bit south.

A reflection in the front window.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

morning wide angle panorama

Some days you see the potential, and you scuttle to get the coffee ready. I had just enough time to pour a cup, put a silicone oven mitt on it to keep it warm, and hustle out.

Now, the interesting thing was that off to the east there was a nice orange glow on the horizon, but off to the west the clouds were lighting up wonderfully! I still had the crop sensor wide angle lens on the camera, and got this panorama.

A couple of the shots looked a bit like the chessboard in the sky, but not as clearly as a few weeks ago.

It wasn't even cold out, but coming back to a hot coffee ready to drink was nice. The day was nice enough to run in shorts and a tech shirt, though my legs felt a bit clunky about the whole thing. One of my buddies took her bike and spin trainer outside and rode in the fresh air for 4 hours. At least you don't need a fan blowing stale air on you to stay cool. You never know with Calgary weather. We've got a few more days of it. Maybe tomorrow I'll get on my hybrid and go for a ride, see what photos I can find.

This coming Saturday is library day! A group of photographers get in our new central library early, before the general public. There are a few shots I want to get, and it will be nice to only have a few other people around. Other people that are mindful of getting in someone else's shot. This should be fun. Hope to have my shots up on Saturday.

Monday, November 19, 2018

While I was grilling bison burgers

There I was, about to put bison burgers on the BBQ (It's November 19) I heard a goose honking and looked up. There was a good sized V of geese heading north. There was another one, even bigger, behind it, completely silent. These guys were good, it was actually a double V.

Part way through the grilling, about to put the cheese on the buns, and there's a huge commotion of geese. This flock was more than twice as big as the first several put together, and they were a mess. No established V, or anything close to it. I could easily imagine the birds swearing at one another.

There's been several more along the way this evening, all heading north and a bit east, towards downtown. Maybe there's a goose festival happening.

Peering out at the sky has become a habit of mine. One never knows when the clouds will be good. I didn't think they would work out since it was pretty clear, but there was some lovely orange light in the sky and I zoomed out.

That's actually a play on words. I put on the wide Tokina lens. It's really built for a crop sensor camera, but it's got an odd design, in that I can put it on my full frame. As long as I don't try to go wider than about 18 mm, I get a 2.8 lens, which is sort of the minimum required for astro stuff. So, ok, no, this is nothing special.

Then I turned around just in time. Look at the moon. closer. You might have to embiggen it, though the shutter speed was a bit slow and I moved ever so slightly.

Same with this one, but I held still.

Pity the geese hadn't given me just a few seconds more warning.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Well, that was funny light

I was out chasing sunset the other night. The rest of the sunset was so-so, but I kept looking at this, wondering if the camera would capture those rays of light. I've seen the opposite of this many times, where there are rays of sunlight coming through the clouds and spreading out, as if the sun was just above the clouds.

But as I took this shot the sun is setting behind me, almost completely obscured by low clouds. Anderson road is heading essentially due east, and the rays look like they are coming from the little mall at 24th and Braeside.

Except I suspect there are clouds refracting the sun's rays like a giant lens, focusing the light off to the north east. Kind of a pity there isn't some loathsome politician at the focus point, getting roasted.

A little later I got this, still looking mostly east, this time a bit south.

The action to the west was meh. By this point the sun was completely behind a huge bank of clouds, so it was interesting to see the clouds off to the east being lighted up.

This is as close to an artistic shot the evening got for me.

Hardly anyone has read yesterday's blog, so I suspect I forgot to tell you about it. Mostly about swim stuff, if you're interested.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The swim groove

It's a funny thing, how easily the groove goes away, and how hard it is to get back. Back in May I was swimming well, coming off some shoulder cranky. Then June and July it totally fell apart, and I struggled through August and September. It was rare to swim more than 500 m at once, it felt slow and weak.

I started getting a bit more regular with the run and the swim, and added water running to my swim. It's been getting much better. A week ago, 500 m took 9 minutes without working too hard, or being out of breath, and I could have gone on. That is what I normally think of as race pace, and it happened because the water feel was there. The groove was back.

Then Monday I forced myself to swim 500 a bit slow so I could focus on some 100 m intervals. That 500 was 9:20 and felt so easy. Pushed myself in the rest of the workouts, getting the focus back for the 100 m intervals.

Then Wednesday I felt so good and relaxed at 500 m (9:20) I kept going, and finished the 1K in 18:40, nice and relaxed. In the pool again today, same thing, nice and relaxed, but 500 in 9:10, and the 1 K in 18:20, and could have kept going. A couple years ago I swam 3K at an 18:30 pace.

So I'm not swimming faster than I have been, but I think I'm getting it together here and swimming better. I do know my stroke changed and is staying more consistent, though I'm still having to think about it just now. It used to be I could not even think about my stroke, and next thing I knew one, or two, or maybe even 3 K would be done.

There was nobody I knew at the pool Friday, so mostly I thought about the novel. I've got the event sequence sorted out and the text sorted out. I think. I've had a couple other sequences come to mind, and I was working with one of them while water running and basking in the hot tub.

I was also thinking about some of the winter photo projects I want to work on. It should be fun.

Friday, November 16, 2018

William Goldman RIP

I grieve this afternoon. I'd just completed another blog, and found out that William Goldman has passed away. That other blog can wait.

I've been a reader since grade 3. I spent much of my childhood and teenaged years with my nose in a book. It's always been my opinion that writing is THE fundamental invention of humanity. Without it, we wouldn't be humans. I think it's remarkable that with a trivial effort someone today can find out what some of the smartest people to ever live have thought about various topics.

Think of it, shapes of ink on a page can bring forth every emotion known to us. I've laughed and cried at the antics of characters that never existed, but in the author's brain, till they were set down on paper. Sometimes I lose my mind in admiration at the brilliance of the words I've just read.

It doesn't have to be "For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;"

How about:

Follow the money.


Life is pain, anyone who says differently is selling something.

Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!

And the best explanation of why there are so many crappy movies, "Nobody knows anything."

I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as a kid, and loved it, but I didn't know anything about screenwriters then. It was only later I found out he had done that. Then I discovered The Princess Bride marked down in a bookstore, and darn near read all of it before buying it. I probably paid a dollar for it. I laughed myself silly. The movie is almost as good as the book. Over the years I've read and watched a number of his works.

When you're working on writing, you pay attention to the words you hear and read. There is so much bad writing it hurts my brain. There is writing that mostly gets the job done, with some clunks. There is writing so good you barely notice it till you pay attention. Then there is writing that whaps you between the eyeballs with it's brilliance. Then there is writing that is so good it just slides into your brain and you don't even notice the words, and you have to go back again to see what happened.

Some people have a way with words, and those of us who aspire to be writers have our favourites. Isaac Asimov, E. B White, Donald Westlake, Lois McMaster Bujold, William Goldman.

The world of letters is a darker place today.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I got a strange letter today

It was almost hysterical in an amusing way. It starts, above my name and address, in big bold letters (BIG LETTERS!) "Politicians in Ottawa are planning a new GUN BAN!"

As if there was ever an old one.

The letter is from the NFA, Canada's National Firearms Association. I hadn't known there was such a thing, but that's just me.

The phrase I see again and again is "law-abiding gun owners". Funny how you never see that 'law-abiding' part anywhere else. Do you ever see a headline, 'law-abiding homeowners protest property tax increase', or 'law-abiding car owners protest price of gasoline'? No, you do not.

So on with the letter. They say that Prime Minister Trudeau is planning to ban guns, based on a rumour that he asked a Minister to explore "harsh new regulations" regarding firearms ownership and a ban on guns. How do they know this?

They complain that they aren't being told what's being banned. Mainly, probably, because if they're just starting to look at the issue, they haven't got a proposal yet.

They go on to say that I'm like "law-abiding gunners across Canada" which I take exception to. I'm not like them in one important regard, in that I don't own, and have never owned any kind of a firearm. And no, that does not prevent me from having an opinion about firearm regulation.

They add "for many Canadians it's an attack on their very way of life." That's in bold, if you were wondering. Just a little over the top. I found several sources indicating that about 25% of Canadian households have a firearm of any kind. This varies dramatically, with rural and northern households far more likely to have firearms, and urban households less likely.

In more bold letters, they go on to say, "They'll stop at nothing to take our guns away and infringe on your rights." Except there is no right to own a gun in Canada. Like any other property, gun ownership is subject to government regulation. This government regulation is proposed, debated, perhaps amended, and signed into law, (or not) by democratically elected politicians doing their jobs under the scrutiny of the public. Presumably they are acting on behalf of all Canadians, but that's another blog topic for another day.

They do not say it in the letter, but they clearly think that more guns is better, and less oversight is better. The counter argument to that is just south of us. There is no developed country with the level of gun violence and mayhem than in the United States. They are the only country that sees children being shot in school, and do nothing. People going about their business in shopping malls, movie theatres, churches, or just strolling in the open air have been subject to so many mass shooting incidents they blur together. The United States is an effective counter argument to the concept that an armed society is a polite society. Except, wait, there aren't enough guns yet.

In case you were wondering, I will say loud and proud, I do not want to see that happening in Canada. If the price of that means making it more difficult to own a gun, especially automatic or semi-automatic firearms, I don't have a problem.

I was working for a company selling an asset management database when the long guns registry was a thing. We were baffled about the cost over runs and the difficulties involved. So I'm a bit dubious about the efficacy of further regulation around gun ownership and registration. I'd need to take a good look at the existing regulations, and what is being proposed to solve which problems, before coming to a final opinion. I'm also a bit, (a lot!) dubious the government intends to ban guns entirely.

It just reminds me of the hysterics when President Obama was elected. Even when he said out loud in front of God and everybody that his administration had no intention of banning or grabbing guns, the NRA went berserk flogging that fear, and gun sales escalated.

The main point of the letter is to ask me to buy a membership (to protect my rights!) so they can  send a petition to Trudeau "to abandon his (alleged) gun ban, and to show law-abiding gun owners the respect they deserve." That's in bold letters. I'm sure I don't understand why gun owners deserve respect as opposed to those who own any of the other many consumer goods for sale in Canada.

I admit to wondering where they got my name and address from, but I suppose there are any number of places they could have bought it. I also admit to being tempted to organize a balancing petition to the NFA one. A petition that says, go on with whatever you have planned, and we will examine it on the merits, but in the mean time, consider each signature as cancelling out one on the NFA signature.

The thing we are supposed to do is send a letter to our MP, but the problem is that the guy that replaced my MP, Prime Minister Harper, is a conservative shill. His latest blurb is all carbon tax all the time, and how it is ruining Canada and Alberta, and the first thing the UCP will do is remove it, blah blah blah. Except he's a federal guy, and the UCP is provincial. Two different arms of the same idiocy, I guess. The carbon tax is another blog, for another day.

To calm you down, or soothe your giggles at the letter, here's a nice moon shot, peaceful, tranquil, shot Oct 19 with the behemoth lens at 600 mm. No cropping. Maybe I should have put photo of the letter up. Hmmm. Naw, why give them more exposure?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Colour or B and W?

So yesterday I posted a photo I'd taken during my ramble earlier this week. As soon as I saw the scene I liked it.

As I was editing the photo, though, I was a little less happy with it, particularly the sky. During my swim today I had the happy thought of changing it to Black and White to see how it looked.

Like so many things, you'd think it would be simple. But no. Well, actually the process is simple. Within Lightroom alone I have 17 choices of slightly different B&W options, and one click later I'm done. Some of them I can't tell the difference. I got it down to a couple choices and tweaked slightly.

I still don't like the sky. It's kind of ugly, and the shape is bad around the trees. Sometimes when you over edit photos, you get this halo effect around trees and other objects. Just raw the clouds give it a bit of a halo effect, and trying some of the more pushy effects looks gross very quickly. Someone with mad Photoshop skillz could replace the sky and put anything in there, but then it wouldn't be the scene I saw. I think I'll have to go back again and try to catch it with better light.

Here's the black and white version, and the colour below. Which do you prefer, and why?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The rest of the ramble photos

Remembrance Day is usually a quiet time for me. Unlike many Canadians, I don't know of any close relatives that were killed in either of WWI or WWII. My father was still a child at the end of  WWII, and both my grandfathers would have been mid-teens or so at the end of WWI. There was a Lieutenant Arthur James Austen-Cartmell killed in action at Vimy Ridge in June 1916 aged 23. In November that year, his brother Captain Hugh Geoffrey Austen-Cartmell was killed in action in the Somme. At closest they would be cousins of my father's father, and may well be essentially no relation at all.

Still, one need not have relatives killed or wounded in action to appreciate the society we live in, one of peace and freedom, and remember the price in blood that was paid. We keep poppies on our fridge year round as a reminder.

I was out for a photo ramble in Fish Creek that day, hunting for a cover photo for the local community association. I could wish the light was better, but we don't get much choice about that. I've already posted some of the photos I had taken, here. One has been chosen, and here are the others. Once the December issue is published, I'll post that photo here or on my photo blog, if I think of it.

This is Willem, the fat-bike guy I was chatting with.

Bridge 3