Three Months Later…

September 18, 2010

It’s been a crazy three months…

Shortly after my last post, I headed south for my annual summer pilgrimage to the US. Highlights included Arches National Park, a visit with a friend in New Mexico, day trips to Santa Fe, the old Crossroads Diner in Mount Olive, IL and a flying visit to Chicago before crossing the border to Toronto, Canada.

The two Rush concerts went off like frogs in socks, particularly the Molson Amphitheater gig. RushCon Toronto also went well and much fun was had. Being one of the organizers, there was a lot of running around to do both before and during the convention.

Somehow, I had the endurance to go north and west via Highway 1. On the way, I battled the torrential summer storm downpours in Ontario, stopped in at a friend’s for the night in Winnipeg, chased star trail and prairie shots in Saskatchewan and left my driver’s license behind in Canmore, Alberta (more details later).

Upon my return to Vancouver, I collapsed for a few days. Little wonder – driving over 10,000km (6,213 miles) over the course of a month does tend to tire one out.

Here’s a map of the entire route:

In August, I flew to Las Vegas for another Rush concert and RushCon Vegas. This was the first time we’d held the Con outside of Toronto. New city, new venue, a one-day only event…we were a little nervous about it! It turned out that we didn’t need to worry. The Con was a success! Many new faces, a lot of enthusiasm and so many attendees that we ran out of stars for our Charity Auction! 😀

The Rush concert at the MGM Grand that evening was deemed by many to be one of their best-ever shows. Another spectacular performance by the boys. Following the concert, a couple of Rush friends held a private party in their suite at the MGM Grand. Caught up with some old friends and (finally!) being able to put real-world faces to a couple of names in the virtual world. Good times. 🙂

Whilst the Sunday was a relatively chilled out day, I wasn’t able to sleep that night. As a result, I have it on very good authority that I looked like hell at McCarran Airport on Monday morning. Props to C for holding seats for my friend & I on the flight to Denver. I’d sat down in the plane and fell asleep almost immediately – I don’t even remember taking off.

My friend and I landed in Denver, proceeded to our hotel and had a nap before the Rush concert at Red Rocks that night. Despite a number of technical glitches, the boys went off, particularly Alex during  “Working Man”.

May I present the evidence:

Red Rocks itself is a spectacular outdoor venue. If you ever get the chance to see a show there, take it.

During all this Vegas/Denver madness, I’d also returned to college on a part-time basis for Digital Intermediate Photography. Unlike previous studies at Langara, this was an Accelerated summer course. Classes were held twice a week, rather than the standard one. My friend Cindi and I finally got the chance to take a class together!

Overall, I was quite disappointed with this particular unit. I didn’t really click with the lecturer, there was a lot of concepts repeated from the Basic levels and it ultimately turned photography into a chore for me.

During the Basic units, we’d gone shooting on location to places like Granville Island and Vanier Park. I had thought the Intermediate unit would be similar, but upping the ante. For instance, a late afternoon/evening shoot on location with models and lighting (set up by the instructor – can’t do our own lights until we’ve completed Practical Lighting).

Instead, we were stuck on the college campus. I can understand what the lecturer was trying to do, by forcing us to be creative in difficult situations. Such an approach, however, only dimmed my enthusiasm for the subject in general.

On top of that, I’d started full-time studies in Publishing in early September. The last two weeks of Photography clashed with Publishing classes, so I’d be at one class at 6pm, then bolting to Photography for 6.30pm. Yikes! It is not a scenario I recommend to anyone!

The Publishing Diploma is going to be a lot of work, given that it’s a 2 year course crammed into 12 months. Despite the intense workload that lies ahead, it’s going to be fun!

So, that’s the nutshell version of my life over the last 3 months. Much of my time is going to be taken up by college studies until August 2011, so travel will be limited at best. If nothing else, it’ll give me a chance to catch up on posting photos of these journeys…


Photos – Vancouver Aquarium

May 11, 2010

A few days after my 30th birthday, I made my first ever visit to the Vancouver Aquarium (courtesy of my friend C). We had a great afternoon wandering through the exhibits and shooting with our cameras.

I found this particular shoot to be quite a challenge. My Pentax *istDS is now almost 5 years old and it’s beginning to show it’s age. Also, the camera’s performance in low-light situations has often been touch-and-go, at best. Without the use of a tripod – as was the case in this shoot – I often wing it and hope for the best. Whilst low light issues can be resolved by boosting the ISO, my pictures start developing major noise artifacts after ISO 400.

Given these limitations, I was quite surprised to get these results. Yes, I did tweak some of the shots in post-production. The topic of natural shot vs post-production is hotly debated amongst many photographers. I have my own opinions on the subject, but I’ll save them for a future blog post.

Thanks again to C for the Aquarium visit  (and showing me the dolphins!) 🙂


Night Shooting

May 4, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, our Basic Digital Photography class had an evening shoot around the Planetarium & Vanier Park. Most of these shots were my submissions for that particular assignment, but I threw in a couple of extras. 😉

I have experimented with night photography & long exposures previously. Some results were good, some…not so good and a few turned out to be rather interesting. I’ll dig around in my archives and see what I can find.


Photos – Basic Digital Photography Term Assignment

April 21, 2010

These are the shots I submitted for my Basic Digital Photography Term Assignment.

The brief of the assignment was to choose eight subjects out of ten and present an image embodying that particular subject. The eight I chose were:

  • Portrait
  • Blurring Motion
  • Freezing Motion
  • Maximum Depth of Field
  • Minimum Depth of Field
  • Backlit subject
  • Rule of Thirds Landscape
  • Subject/photo converted to Black & White or Sepia (I chose B&W).

I am happy to report that I got a 10/10 for the assignment! 😀


Photos – Arbutus Community Garden

April 19, 2010

My friend C & I went on a brief photo trip to the Arbutus Community Gardens back in mid-March. There’s a number of small community gardens scattered around in Vancouver. This particular garden is located near West 6th Ave & Maple Street in the Kitsilano neighborhood.


Vancouver 2010 Street Art

February 1, 2010

Images of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics “Public Street Art”.

Location: Granville Street, Vancouver (between Robson & West Georgia)


Musings of a novice web designer

January 26, 2010

It’s almost one o’clock in the morning. I’ve spent almost the entire day at the computer, working on the site overhaul for wanderingpixie.com.

So far, reasonably good. I’ve created the primary template & CSS for use across the entire site and generated all the first level pages today.  However, for the articles and photo galleries, I daresay the “Detach from Template” command in Dreamweaver may come in handy from time to time! 😀

In conjunction with the design work, I’m also going back through my entire travel photo archive. I’ve done this before, back in 2007, whilst working on the “Phase I” version of the site. Even though I’ve just started on the Photography Certificate program at Langara, the lessons I’ve learnt so far have been invaluable. I’m cultivating the ability to be more critical and objective when it comes to my own photography. It’s an essential trait, particularly when one is sorting through about 20-30,000 photos (!)

I went through the entire 2004 archive yesterday, followed by some of the early 2005 shots today. This part of the project led to some colorful idioms spouted to the thin air and the pigeons on the balcony. Even when one takes the relative primitive capabilities of my old Vivitar digital camera into account…AGH! A major portion of the photos from that period aren’t really usable, for various reasons. Dodgy composition, blurring, you name it. Most of the shots in question are great memories for me to reflect upon personally, but they’re not really suitable for publishing them on the Internet for all to see.

If I had the ability to travel back in time – or at least, Doctor Who’s telephone number – I would go back to the early 2000s, slap myself around the head and tell myself to get cracking with some photography related studies sooner. Yes, it is true that every photographer has to start somewhere. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling of kicking myself for the lost photographic opportunities that were all but handed to me on a silver platter, particularly in Europe.

One valuable lesson I did learn in 2004 was the concept of taking charge of one’s own photographic storage. A dodgy CD burn job at a photo place in London led to the loss and/or corruption of some of my Europe and UK shots. My trip to Stonehenge was the worst casualty – only two or three photographs survive from that entire day. 😦

If nothing else, that debacle has given me inspiration for the second of what will hopefully be many articles on wanderingpixie.com.

1.23am – all caffeine has worn off and I’m getting tired. Time to call it a night, I think.