Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Critters going about their business

Here's a few critters hard at their business. I didn't mess with them. They were found during a photo-trip last fall. Never know what you'll find, that's why you go look.

On the way back in I saw these guys hard at it. The right camera was on the lens, and while I'm busy trying to find the focus I'm hearing my name. Several times. Yelling. A horn honking. Distraction. Can't they see I'm busy?

Then I recognized the voice, and it turned out to be my neighbour. I finished up, and got home just as he was finishing a smoke, and we chatted about it. They had seen me several times out and about, and finally felt guilty. Not that I had notice them.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Instead of Canstruction

Once again it's time for Canstruction, where various teams build a themed response to a challenge, using food cans. There are rules, of course. I think the first one is, have a steady hand. Some of these things are huge.

I've been blown away in years past, but this year was sort of meh. The theme was super-heroes, and that's a tough one for me to get interested in. Super-heroes are boring, doubly so for the comic book editions.

There was a surprise, in that one represented various first responders. I think they'd be the first to say that they aren't "super-heroes". They are well trained men and women that spring into action when required, doing work that is usually difficult and often dangerous. It isn't one person making it up as they go along; its almost always a team effort, doing things they've trained over and over to do. It's nice to see them get the recognition.

I was musing about which lens to take, and in the end took the carry around lens, figuring that if I needed a different one for a shot, I could come back later. Just as well. I'd been looking forward to trying this with my good camera, rather than the iPhone shots of previous years, but no. None of them did anything for me.

But here's what did. It breaks some composition rules, and follows some others. I'm such a rebel.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Here we are, between

Spring in Calgary is cruel. People are sick of winter, and the snow is almost gone. The ground is beginning to thaw out. The dog poop is well and truly emerged and it has thawed out.

People can't wait for this.

They want to be outside, relaxing, not worried about frostbite.

Yet this wasn't so long ago.

Mark my words, Calgary. There is some winter left. We are almost certain to get at least one more good snowstorm between now and the May long weekend. Stay strong.

The first of those was taken last fall, and revisited over the weekend to bring up the colour a bit. The second is a winter sunrise looking west. (duh!) Also tweaked a bit to bring up the light on the trees.

Why, yes, I was outside barbecuing today. Bison burgers, since you ask. And the day before. Steak, if you were wondering. Both so yummy. But we didn't eat outside. One of the patio chairs is still frozen into the the ice in the shadowy parts of the patio.

Did you know that TIFF files are a lot bigger than full sized JPEG files? Like 5 to 7 times bigger? Fairly soon I hope to be able to show you why and how I know that now.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fake ice, foothills, clouds?

This is the last photo I took during a short photo-walk in Fish Creek last weekend. It's only a few steps from the stairs leading to the parking lot.

Some might say the ice looks weird, and they'd be right. The thing is, playing with the settings didn't change the ice hardly at all. It looks kind of like grainy blue plastic to my eyes and in the original shot. I was more interested in capturing the colour in the reflected trees.

But it gets me thinking about editing the images from the camera. Sometimes I'm after a fairly realistic look. Some tweaking to dress it up a bit and I'm done. Other times, what I see in my mind is not "realistic" at all. There's been a few times where I've played in Lightroom or Photomatix and deliberately pushed the settings well past realistic.

I shot this next one last October, but the original image was grey and subdued. I didn't really like it, but today I figured what the heck, lets play with contrast and brightness and a few other things and see what happens.

Those blues and purples are not the colours I saw that morning, but they are possible colours here, under some circumstances. I think the grass being a fairly natural green helps anchor it, though maybe I shouldn't say it was kind of grey as well. Once I got here, I liked the mood it evoked.

I shot this one a little later that same day, and was never happy with it either. I'm still not completely satisfied. It looks stretched sideways because of the clouds looking like they are crushing the mountains, and the clouds look kind of fake. Maybe I chopped out too much of the sky. At least tweaking the colour brought up the trees and detail in the foreground, and I liked that. Maybe cropping out some of the sides might make the photo work better. Hmmm.

During my run with BRBE in North Glenmore I was looking at the ice, thinking there might be a layer of water on it, good for reflections. But no. Still ice, if kind of mushy looking. We ran down into the weasel head, and turned around where the ice started at the bottom of the hill, right at the sharp turn onto the flats. It was a lovely day for a run, though we had to dodge lots of people and their dogs. 9 K, 1:08:30, nice and easy and relaxed. My legs were feeling pretty good about it till the last few hundred meters.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What I wanted to do Friday

Yup. Curl into a ball and snooze. I'd been thinking about a swim, but no. We ran a few errands, and I found out I'd forgotten my wallet when we went to vote. Once home I napped. Big time.

Voting, you ask? As it turned out when the Conservatives were defeated in the last election, the Great Troll Harper decided he didn't want to play anymore. He essentially left our riding without representation while he job hunted. Not that he did anything for us anyway.

A by-election was duly called, and we ended up with 7, count'em 7 candidates. The usual main party suspects ran. (Conservative, Liberal, NDP, and Green) In addition we had Libertarian, Christian Heritage, and something called National Advancement, which I'd never heard of before.

My take on them:
Conservative. Bob Benzen, a Harperite. Enough said.
Liberal. Scott Forsyth. The Liberal name is a millstone around any candidate's neck in Alberta. Physician. Photographer.
NDP. Khalis Ahmed Federally the NDP are considered a left-wing party, but they've been moving toward the centre lately. He is a geologist with a background in project and financial management.
Green. Taryn Knorren. Federally the Greens are centrists leaning towards the left. She is an education postgrad, and a policy wonk.
Libertarian. Darcy Gerow They want to cut the carbon tax, and reduce the federal tax rate to 15%. Their way of balancing the budget is to eliminate the Canada Revenue Agency. They will loosen the shackles of gun ownership. His personal statement is that everything the government touches "turns to s#!t". And yet, he wants to be government.
National Advancement. Stephen J. Garvey. Their party platform is a barge of dog-whistling intolerance imported from Trumpistan and translated into a variant of Canadian.
Christian Heritage. Jeff Willerton. They want Canada to be governed by biblical law. With them in charge of interpreting it, of course. At least they're honest about being intolerant.

Let me just say this was not a terribly difficult decision keeping me up at night. I would be delighted if any of Liberal, NDP, or Green won, because that would mean Benzen lost. Canada is all the better for the remaining taints of Harper being scrubbed away. However, my neighbours are a conservative lot, and the habit of voting Conservative here is strong. Our provincial conservative MLA was one of the few that survived the long overdue NDP flood washing out the Augean stables of 4 decades of Conservative rule.

While I'm on the political soapbox, I've been amusing myself watching the shit-show in the USA. Is there anyone that still thinks electing Trump was a good idea? As for their efforts to write a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), they've been saying "NO!" to anything health related for 7 years now, and they couldn't break the habit. Part of the party wouldn't vote for it because it left in benefits for many people. Another part of the party wouldn't vote for it because it took benefits away from many people. Some were uneasy about the process that produced it, and some were probably pissed at Trump in general, and some were smart enough to realize it was all round bad policy.

All politicians lie. It's inescapable if they want to get elected in the first place, and stay in office after the next election. The trick is to tell plausible lies, ones with more than a hint of truth. The best ones are actually almost true, if you look at things a certain way, and allow certain assumptions.

But Trump tells palpably stupid lies. Many of them. Everybody knows they're lies, and lets him skate by. Well, not SNL. They had his number from the start. I nearly peed myself laughing at the Spicer skit. That's what you do with such people. You laugh at them. They can't take it.

I shouldn't be too complacent. As expected, Kenny won the leadership of the provincial PC party, which has nothing progressive about it. He was ruthless in driving out anyone with a pulse, I mean, with a heart, or a brain, out of the leadership race, and out of the party generally. And don't get me started on the federal PCs. They are hoping the Harper dog whistling will work once more, so they can get in on the gravy train, and reward their buddies, while they get off on the jollies of hurting the ordinary people they crow about so much.

That's enough serious stuff. I'm working through photography books, making notes, and thinking about my next photo-walk. There's still a couple of places left in Neil's Yukon trip in September. It's going to be great!

Next week is the long awaited day to drop into Resolve and get some prints done. I've never done anything like this before, and hope they can lead me through the various paper choices, and that I've got the files set up correctly.

There are hints of spring coming, but experienced Calgarians know there is going to be at least one more good dump of snow. In the mean time, people are tempted to get into their gardens and do something. Doesn't this look ready for some greenery?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Semi-abstract wood

These were a challenge. The light was changing quickly from clouds and gusty wind blowing the trees around. For a while I was twiddling the shutter speed dial back and forth as fast as I could and the light was changing faster.

Part of the plan was to walk around (wearing traction aids as it was extremely icy) and think about the scene, trying to find interesting images. There's no shortage of interesting lines and angles from fallen trees, one just has to compose them, while not walking into the half frozen swamp, or worrying about the deadfall making it the last few dozen feet to the forest floor, or impaling vital bits of anatomy on spiky tree bits. Lots of fun.

That last one has a bunch of images as I experimented with trying to frame the shot just right. This was one of the times I wished I'd had my tripod. I was getting this image of a mouth emerging from dragon scales, but couldn't quite find the framing. The footing was tricky and the light kept changing. I might have to go back and revisit this.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last one of buildings

Here we are again, last one of buildings. For now. Unless I find more cool ones. I'd wanted to get a shot of City Hall right from the point of the triangle, but someone put a sculpture right there. Exactly there. Sigh.

I was a little disappointed in one shot. I could see a reflection of the cars on the street, and buildings in the other windows, but somehow it didn't work out. But these with the various lines and angles please me. Yes, I meant to have the triangle of dark in the picture. It's the +15, note the angle of it, with the vertical concrete wall, and the panes of glass. 

There is a building in there, really. Old City Hall is being renovated. There was something about huge  chunks of sandstone falling on pedestrians that City Council didn't like.

And just like that, another weekends starts! I'm going to go pour a glass of wine and contemplate my options. I expect to be busy.


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