Waiting for Spring

March 2, 2011

College is still the main focus of my life at the moment. We’re now well into Semester Two. So far, mostly good. We’ve just started the production of our major class project, Pacific Rim Magazine. The next two months are going to be busy beyond belief! 😀

The major highlight of the last few months was the extended visit of P, my boyfriend from Australia. It was his first overseas trip in about 30 years. During the course of his two month stay, he finally got to see Vancouver (and parts of Vancouver Island), met some of my friends here and witnessed the stress that comes with full-time college studies.

Having P be a part of my life over here for a while served to remind me of how much I miss him. Having one’s partner around on a day-to-day basis is something many people in long-term relationships often take for granted. When there’s long periods of enforced geographic separation between a couple – whatever the reason – it takes a lot to keep things going. Fortunately, for us, all is well and we’re keeping in regular contact. As I type this, we’re planning to meet up in Hawaii sometime in late August, once college is over. That will be a well-deserved vacation!

In other news, Vancouver recently had an unusual bout of freezing weather and snow. I’m hoping it’s the last blast of winter before spring kicks in. Apart from a recent trip to Bloedel Conservatory, I haven’t had many chances to get my camera out and about lately. However, I did grab some snow shots.

Here’s a panoramic view from my apartment of the snow-covered West End:

The aftermath of an overnight snow storm - West End (Vancouver), February 2011

Spring, wherefore art thou?


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…


Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage – A Review

June 18, 2010

(Note: If you have not had a chance to see the documentary yet, this review may contain spoilers!)

I made my way down to Cinemark Tinseltown in Vancouver at about 6.30pm, for the 7pm showing. Got my ticket and looked around for the RushCon/Rush promo table. Try as I might, I couldn’t find it anywhere, but a few people did have RushCon fliers in hand. 🙂

Speaking of RushCon, I bucked the trend of Rush t-shirts somewhat, preferring to don my “Rush fans do it in odd time signatures” t-shirt from RushCon 7. The shirt drew the curiosity of a few people, so I had the chance to tell them about the convention.

I wound up sitting next to a couple, T & J. He was a hardcore Rush fan, she not so much, but she definitely appreciated their musicianship. We had some really good conversation AND they’ll be going to RC in Vegas. Yay!

The lights went down and the screen lit up. What followed was two hours of solid Rush-y goodness and one of the best music documentaries I have ever seen.

Some of the highlights:

  • Seeing home movies and photos of the boys in their childhood & teen years.
  • The old photos, videos and audio recordings of early Rush performances. (Underwear party, anyone? ;))
  • Hearing the voice of John Rutsey for the first time.
  • Watching a young Alex arguing with his parents about his music career. Whilst their concerns about his education were certainly valid, one can only hazard a guess of what might have been if he hadn’t had the guts to follow his dream.
  • Amusement at hearing Alex’s & Geddy’s first impressions of Neil (although I think Neil is now well & truly beyond the ‘new guy’ stage).
  • The beautiful way that the Ghost Rider period was handled.
  • Various talking heads (Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor, Gene Simmons and others expressing their admiration of Rush).
  • Seeing a couple of fellow RushCon peeps on the screen, including Christopher Schneberger (Rush roadtrip buddy of 2008)

The only two downsides were Jack Black’s interview and the scant attention paid to the 80’s/90’s period of Rush.

Whilst I have no doubt that Jack Black is a fan, his contributions came off as superfluous, almost nonsensical rambling. I’m also puzzled as to why very little attention was paid to the time between Signals and Vapor Trails. Why skip over almost two decades of the band’s history? If anything, it would have served to dispel the common (and ignorant) image of Rush as “a 70s band who wore kimonos and sang about elves.” Maybe more will be present in the DVD extras?

Overall, it’s a very well made documentary – many kudos to Sam Dunn & Scot McFadyen.

Returning to Tinseltown Vancouver…

Throughout the movie, I listened to fellow patrons laughing in recognition at certain points during the interviews and upon seeing the old photos (complete with kitschy outfits and…interesting fashion sense). Whilst it wasn’t the same level of immediate connection and friendship as can often be found at RushCon, there was still a pervasive feeling of being in a room with people who ‘ged’ it. Those are rare and precious moments, even in the current resurgence of Rush’s popularity.

On the surface, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage gave me a little more insight into the history of the band and filled in more of the gaps. (The joys of being a younger, late-into-the-fold fan). Ultimately, it served to remind me why I love the music of Rush.

For more information on the documentary: http://www.rushbeyondthelightedstage.com/

For more information about RushCon: http://www.rushcon.org/


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 – Grouse Mountain

April 20, 2010

I’ve lived in Vancouver for almost three years now. It took me that long to finally pay a visit to Grouse Mountain!