Thursday, June 30, 2022

The flatulent school bus is gone

Mornings are much quieter now. We live on one of the main loop roads through the neighbourhood. That means a certain amount of traffic noise as people try to get to work, or their kids to school. For years when I was between contracts, or taking time off, I've been amused by one family living behind us in the cul-de-sac. The bus would pull up, I could see the driver peering down the street, then sigh, and put their head down on the steering wheel. Sometimes a van would pull up and two kids would pile out and run for the bus, trying not to get run over. Sometimes the van just missed the bus, and it would zoom off in hot pursuit. 

The bus would lumber off, with a particularly distinctive flatulent roar. I could hear it in the bedroom, and I'd know it was 7:35 or so. Time to get up and get on with it. I can just imagine the mom trying to herd the two kids out the door. I'm pretty sure it was the older one that was difficult. Once that one was off to post secondary activities, the morning show was less erratic. 

But school is out now. No morning show. No busses on the street other than the regular public transit. Driving to the pool is much less fraught, given that it's right beside a high school, and I often swim near lunch time. One of the women I sometimes swim with is a teacher, and she's just as happy to have the kids gone for the summer, as they probably are. I was always delighted to be out of school. September was always a rude shock, that I was expected to go back. Summer was never long enough.

Writing the blog I've sometimes touched on last times. Sometimes we know, or we're pretty sure. Given how long the kid/bus show has been going on, I suspect last week was the last time. 

Often we don't know when something happens for the last time. A couple blogs ago I mentioned spending childhood summers on grandparents farms in Fraser Valley. My father's family farm was fronted by 4 homes. First was my Aunt Bessie (grandfather's sister), then Uncle Arthur (grandfather's brother), then Uncle Barrie (father's brother), then my father's parents. Bessie died in 1969, but I remember she was an amazing baker, and always asked what shape I wanted my birthday cake. One year she delivered one that was recognizably a DC-3. My uncle Leonard (father's brother) and Aunt Doris tore that house down late 60's or so, and built a new one for their family. (I don't know who moved into Arthur's house. Barrie's house was the original family home, owned by my grandparents. Then they built a new house, and lived there till the early 80's or so. Then my aunt Marilyn (father's sister) lived there, and then her son Renee and his wife Jean lived there. They've since sold it outside the family.)

Once as an adult I happened to be passing through and dropped in on my aunt Doris. I'm thinking this would be late 80's, or early 90's. Uncle Leonard was out, as were all my cousins. We had a lovely chat, then like any other busy young adult, I was on my way. I did not know that would be the last time I would talk with her. I saw her briefly at grandmother's funeral, but we didn't get to talk, I'd been captured by younger cousins who wanted to see the gray sheep of the family. She recently passed away, and I'll be attending a celebration of life in a few weeks. It will be nice to catch up with cousins I haven't seen in a long time.

Given that I live here, and they live in a multitude of theres, that event is quite likely to be the last time I see some of them. I just won't know which. I plan to make the most of the trip.

This wasn't the last time I had a beard, but pretty close. I think this is during a visit to the Toronto zoo. I didn't have a beard for job reasons between mid 1983, and Sept 1990, so I'm guessing before that earlier date. I mean, look how skinny I am, must have been before Linda started feeding me.

Of the Day


Film (35mm Ektar 100)

courtesy of Green Fools 
Clowns playing a game, starring Lauren, Kestrel, Anne-Marie, Chris, and Lance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Peony pre-popping

It's a little like that old ketchup commercial. Annnnticccciiiipaaaaaaaaaaationnnnnnnnn. The established peonies are almost ready to put on a huge show, and I can't wait. The red and white peonies have at least 4 dozen blooms each, while the other 3 have somewhat fewer, but they are many years younger. They've been doing really well.

I was out this morning and captured some of them. Once again, the red has proved elusive. The poppies are starting to do their thing, and the iris are the main show at the moment. There's other flowers blooming as well. You know, flowers. 







Last night was our community association volunteer appreciation evening. Not so many photos as usual since I was actually put to work. You can see links to all the community association photos here

Of the Day


Landscape, during the 20210820 Southern Alberta Tour with Neil Zeller.

Courtesy of Green Fools, a clown wedding starring Lauren, Ali, Chris, and Lance.

Film,  during a walk with Sean and Cam. (35mm Ektar 100)

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Ignoring the elephant in the room

Once upon a time I blogged about the floating elephant rule. There is a very large floating elephant consuming the news right now. I'm trying to ignore it, but it's difficult. All I'm going to say is that the relevant historical parallel happened Nov 9-10, 1938. Like the events of then, the recent court decision is a big step along what is now an inevitable path. I consider the USA a failed state and it's only going to get worse. Get out while you can.

To happier topics. The peonies are still almost ready to do their thing. Perhaps today I'll go take some photos of the ants on the peony balls that are almost ready to bloom. The other thing today is bottling another wine kit, the second last of the season. 

Something that should be a thing today is tuning up the lawn mower. I use one of the reel mowers, and mostly it works well, provided the grass isn't wet or too long. I need to sharpen the blades and tweak the exact position of the cutting bar, which is a bit tedious to get just right. I'm wondering if it's time to send it to the shop and get the bearings replaced and new wheels installed. The old wheels are nearly smooth. No idea how much that will cost, and I won't be surprised to find it's more expensive than buying a new one. If I do that, I have to figure out what to do with the old one.

Those following me on Facebook might or might not have seen the photos from the great kitchen cupboard clean out yesterday. (Who knows what Facebook will show users?) What had happened was after I washed the coffee cups I tried to put them back where they go. Except some other mugs or glassware had shifted position and the door wouldn't close. I started shuffling things around a bit, then realized I could see some stuff that hadn't been used in a decade or more. Why was it taking up prime cupboard space?

Associated with this was wine glasses. Linda found a set of nice ones, since all we had was twos and threes of older wine glasses. You will be astonished to be told there was no space for the new ones. 

I started hauling things out. Stuff that I figured we didn't need at all anymore went on the table for review by TOIC. (She picked out 3 things to keep, one of which is a replacement for something nearing the end of it's useful life.) Stuff I knew we wanted to keep stayed on the counter to be washed and put back, hopefully in a more orderly way. 

One of the things I found was an engraved mug commemorating my departure from the City in August 1990. Yes, more than 30 years ago. That mug has been sitting there unused, taking up space, gathering dust. There were lots of work related mugs, none of which get used.

It was kind of fun. There were many things in the back of the cupboard that I had forgotten we had, and several that neither of us had any memory of how it came to be here. Two large boxes went to the Women in Need store. Mugs, glasses, an electric kettle, travel mugs; it would be nice if they found a home where they'll be used, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of it goes straight into the trash bin.

When I was a child I loved roaming around my grandparent's farms. I was fascinated by all the stuff that had accumulated over time. On a farm one never knows when something will break or stop working, and what it will take to fix it, or at least get it working long enough to finish the job at hand, or get it back to where you can work on it properly. There is no end of bits and bobs, and thingamajigs, and thingies, and doodads, stuffed into boxes, or under a work bench, or up in the rafters, or hanging on a wall. Both farms had the same smell where that sort of stuff was kept, a combination of various petroleum products, dust, leather, wood, and in one of them, cigarette smoke. Nothing got thrown away because it might be needed tomorrow or next week, and it's cheaper than buying the new part. Money didn't grow on trees, after all! Thinking about the original purpose, or what the related (but missing) parts might be, or if it was something I could play with occupied many happy hours.

Now, of course, neither of those farms exists. Even in my childhood I suspect neither was actually economic. One was a hobby farm on the wrong side of the dike between the Fraser River and the nearby town. The barn has been replaced by a home, though I think the drive shed is still there. None of the 4 homes in a row fronting the old farm are owned by my family anymore. The other was a small dairy operation a long way from the bleeding edge of mechanization. Last I saw it was an empty field, and now  Google maps shows me a swanky McMansion.

At some point all the farm stuff was examined. Some of it would go to the scrap metal yard, some to the dump. I suspect there was an auction sale for the rest. Whatever route, it's not there anymore, regardless of the utility or actual value, or whatever emotional value it might have had.  

I came by my pack rat tendencies honestly, and don't deny them. But I have been thinking about the purpose of things. Why we buy them, use them, and keep them even if not used. Some things are obviously needed again, like a winter parka and other cold weather gear. Some things have an emotional value, like a gift from a friend. But other things stop getting used, and they sit there gathering dust. Some people think of what they paid for the item, and can't bear to let it go because they will have "lost money" on it. Or maybe they intend to use it again, like that set of golf clubs I have in the basement, that I bought in the mid-80's because I actually played golf. (Very badly, in case you're wondering. I came within sight of breaking 100 several times, but never actually did so.) I'm not likely to ever use them again, but the possibility is there. Which I guess explains why so many treadmills actually function as a laundry rack.

I'm thinking the next clean out project will be the drawers beside my desk. 6 drawers, 8 cm, 11 cm, and 17 cm, all of which are essentially completely full of mostly paper, but all manner of other odds and ends. I can't remember when 5 of the drawers were last empty. The one least full one is only half full because I removed the corporate tax paperwork to put in a box labelled 'shred in 2030'. When I was cleaning it out I found a pay stub from 1997. I've no idea what I'll find this time. Maybe I'll actually document this for posterity.

I suppose if we're talking about things that have outlived their owners, or are past their lifetime, it makes sense to show you some flower blossoms past their prime.



















Of the Day

The industrial view from a ridge in Calgary, with an odd sky.

Film (35mm, Ektar 100)

Friday, June 24, 2022

Green Fool photo back story

This post is mostly a follow up from a post a couple weeks ago, with some more details about the recent Green Fools shoots. 

Most people know of writer's block, where the poor writer can't get the words to come out. Blogger's block is sort of similar, in that most blogs have writing in them. There's been lots of words swirling through my head lately, and there's lots (and lots and LOTS!) of photos to choose from, but it seems that being retired and having more time (theoretically) to write means there's less time to spend on the blog.

Plus, it's been a busy several weeks. Part of the holdup is wondering what to put in which blog, and who my audience actually is, and what's public and what's private, and how long it takes to look through about 14,000 images and think about each one long enough to decide to delete or not and then if it merits a second look and if so how much editing to do.

So let me back up here a bit. Regular readers will know that I have done some photography for Green Fools Theatre Society over the last several years. There's a story about how I met them that deserves it's own blog, but I'm waiting for the other half of the story to tell her side of it. One of the photography rules is that to get more interesting photos you have to find more interesting subjects. And the people involved with Green Fools are that, in spades!

After struggling through COVID, they've come out the other side and are resuming their work. One element of that is teaching theatre and circus related skills. Their two most recent workshops were 3 full days of Theatre Intensive that featured mime, clown, and Bouffon, then the next weekend was a puppet intensive that covered more aspects of this than I knew existed. And yes, all this is fascinating, and almost all of it makes for good photos. The problem was not finding some photos worthy of being shown to Green Fools, it's picking between them.

Most people are astonished at the number of photos taken during this sort of thing, and have never really thought about what happens after the photo session. Taking the photos is the easy and fast part. Click, click, click. Or hold the button down and clickcklickclickclick. So let's just walk through this, shall we?

The selection process actually starts during the initial negotiations with the client. It's important to understand what the client wants or doesn't want. In some cases there will actually be a shot list that defines the desired photos, and it becomes a matter of methodically creating each one. The stilts shoot was like that. The camera was on a tripod aimed at a seamless paper roll, tethered to the laptop, with Dean directing the stilt performers through each shot. 

Once we got dialled in for camera and studio lighting settings, I actually didn't take that many photos, and typically the one to choose was the last one. Even with two pairs of performers, it took longer for them to change than it did for each set of shots. We probably could have had 3 sets of performers. My major learning out of all this was that next time I'm going to wrap some black gaffers tape around the bottom of the stilts. That will make editing much easier.

I'd mentioned that during events my philosophy is to shoot lots. If I get some time during the event, I'll look at the back of the camera and delete the obvious out of focus shots. Once home there's the import process, which mostly means leaving the computer alone to do it's thing. (After checking to make sure there's enough space on the relevant drive! Running out of space part way through is really bad.) Copying and doing preview calculations for thousands of photos takes a while. 

Then its scroll through and look at them all. This is usually pretty interesting, because when shooting I'm normally looking through the viewfinder to keep the selected focus point on someone's face. What's in the rest of the image is often a surprise. Or I'll do zone shooting with the 14mm lens, where I know everything from about a foot from the camera out to several dozen feet will be in focus. 

We had agreed to divide up the photos by event, rather than just a list by day. In addition to the agreed list, I included behind the scenes and bonus shots because these are often the most interesting to me and the participants. I've found I can usually get really nice portrait shots of people while they are involved in something else.

While going through these I'm looking for obvious winners and pretty good photos, and ones I can delete because they are out of focus enough that I'd never show them to anyone. Sometimes trying to decide which group a photo will go in can be difficult. I'll make a preliminary edit pass with the computer doing most of the work and then assess what I've got.

From here it's more individual work, cropping photos, tweaking the editing. For the dark shots, one of the secrets is not to apply the lens profile corrections. During this stage I'm often comparing several very similar shots, or a sequence. Like this sequence, for example. The middle 10 shots took place over about 2 seconds. Which to pick?

This is Lauren doing a clown routine where something is supposed to go wrong, then recover from it. Note her purse disappears. Picking one shot out of this was fairly quick. I used to agonize over picking between several similar shots, but I came to realize that if I couldn't quickly tell the difference between shots looking at the full size image, then nobody will see the difference at social media size. Pick one and move on.

Review the final selection of shots and make sure there's no really similar shots, or too many of one person or not enough of another. It's really easy to pick the most photogenic or active of the bunch and shoot lots of them. Make sure there's no obvious lighting differences, except for where there is.

So here's some selections from the shoots. Even though these are not watermarked, they are still copyright to Keith Cartmell Photography, and are courtesy of Green Fools.

A moment of celebration during the clown wedding, before things go sideways.

The clown funeral, when they dropped the casket.

Bouffon. A dramatic poetry reading.

Everybody survived the crossing of The Abyss, then they all died during the Great Chicken War.

On the rocket to the moon.

Behind the scenes, training for a puppet routine on television.

Taking their bow afterward.

So much fun! Can't wait till they call me for the next shoot! In the mean time, they have both kid and adult classes you can sign up for.

Of the Day


Landscape, sort of this. This is the two route finders on the Leseuer Ridge walk. Yes, we got snowed on several times.

At one point during the walk we were on top of that ridge.

Film (35mm, Ektar 100)