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…


Layover Limbo in LAX

February 11, 2010

Thursday 11th February, 8.18pm.

The Departures Hall in the Tom Bradley International Terminal (aka Terminal 2) buzzes with activity. Incipient travellers engaging in a number of past-times. Standing in check-in lines. Watching the departures information board. Talking on cellphones or typing on computers. Wandering the upper concourse in search of food, drink or diversion from the boredom of waiting.

Out of all the food establishments, Mickey D’s has the longest lineup. Camacho’s Cantina is behind me, shuttered – renovating or out of business? Same for Sushi Boy next door.

To the left of me is a young woman on a laptop. To the right, a young man talking on his cellphone as he rummages in a fast food bag. The latest in a parade of travellers witnessed during the past six and a half hours. The sky outside has progressed from light grey to blackness, punctuated by the lights of taxis and control towers.

I entertain the thoughts of photos, of a snack, of  more internet surfing to kill the next 94 minutes. Once those 94 minutes are up, my limbo ends. I’ll find out whether I continue on to my final destination or not.


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.