Thursday, November 16, 2017

Night gritty

Last night I published some of the moody shots from a night shoot over the weekend. These ones are taken along the way, just a little (a lot) more industrial. Still, I suppose they evoke a mood as well, but I didn't want to bore my readers putting them all in one blog.

I think this machine shreds metal; it would be fun to see it in operation.

Some of the shimmer of plastic and rock shows up, but not like I saw it. The plastic looked almost like a layer of water on the rocks. The orange facing on the trailer was glowing.

This was a tough one to get framed. There is a building right behind it, and I didn't want any of it in the frame. It looks like a panorama, but no, I just chopped the top third of the image off. I can't help but think it's going to be a while before someone rents this office, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had nice wood flooring and spacious offices. The brick facing is handsome, and with a nice awning put up on that framework, it might even look pretty classy. In the meantime it just looks sad.

This is the source of the funny smell you sometimes get in that area.

A couple people inside gave me funny looks along the way. I suppose from their perspective, seeing a little car pull up, and a big guy in a big parka with reflective stripes on it get out, might make them a little nervous. Then I zoom off, and they probably wonder what the story is.

Places like this I don't mind going alone because I'm on public streets in well lighted areas. I was thinking about going down to the river to get some reflection shots, then thought about it again, knowing that the homeless like to set up camps to avoid going to the shelters. They might get unhappy were I to disturb them.

Of course, there's always the risks of stumbling around on rocks, at night, when it's below freezing, near a river, when a simple slip and fall could turn out very serious. If I'm going to do night river stuff, I'm going to look for company. Maybe I'll call you. Or you could call me and set up a date.

Next up will be some from a photo ramble in an unexpected location. Unless something else comes along and I change my mind.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Night moody

Night shooting is fun. We can play all sorts of games with the camera settings to make the scene look like daylight, or so the viewer can barely make anything out. I like to edit the shots to be dark like my eyes saw it, but bring up the colour a bit, and sometimes show effects our eyes don't see.

I've always wanted some shots of the cone of light from beneath the streetlights, stretching off into the distance. Preferably with a curve in the road, but when I saw this I didn't complain.

Yes, a house in an industrial area. I suspect it's an office, or a storage area, but at one time I'm pretty sure that people lived there. Zoning might have been different back then.

This was shot at the same place I got the nice panorama yesterday. If you missed it, go back for a look, you won't regret it. Third one down. A few nights ago I was trying to get a long streak across the sky, but had an equipment adventure. This night was better, but still not quite what I have in mind.  I'll keep working on it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Night and contest results

I was out for two nights in a row in one of the older industrial areas that isn't far from one of the places I used to work. I drove past it and marvelled at the changes. I'd love to get in there with my camera, but suspect all the people I ever worked with are long gone. It's been 27 years since I left there, after all, so I don't think there's much chance of an informal tour. Still, maybe I'll drop in one day and ask nice.

Along the way I relearned a photography lesson. Take your time, explore the shot. This one, for example was taken the second night, just before packing it in.

Yes, yes, you say, a nice shot of the skyline. Ho hum.

Compared to this one, taken the first night.

The same shot, you say, what's your point?

They're not the same shot. The top one was taken a little bit further to the left, maybe 50 feet, so the foreground changes from that nice railway line to seeing more of the highway. Pity, I liked the railway. Pity I blew the shot because I rushed. On the plus side, I get rid of the distracting bright area in the lower right. You might not be able to tell from the web version, but the camera was moving ever so slightly. I suspect the tripod wasn't completely anchored, and was still settling as I took the shot.

It looked in focus on the back of the camera, but I didn't look that carefully, and I didn't take another shot. At least this time I could get back, and capture the Tower lined up with the new Brookfield Place building. Sometimes you can't go back and have another go at the shot.

The real winner in the skyline shot sweepstakes is this panorama taken the second night. It would print out 42" x 12" at 300 dpi or 5' x 1.5' at 200 dpi, which is still going to come out very nice.

 There I was, wandering around a deserted industrial area, looking for photo possibilities. No cars, no people. I'm all set up on a railway track and as soon as I press the button, I get this.

Here's the other railway shot I like from the night. Some of you may have seen it on Facebook or Instagram.

Plus an industrial selfie, just because.

And the contest results you're all waiting for! Not many entries, and thank you to those that played along, or commented. Here's a bigger view of the whole thing.

Two people said 'cat brush'. The judges have conferred, and decided that is a winner! Sophia and Michelle can contact me and arrange a time to decide which photo they want. Coffee, tea, or wine will be supplied as desired.

More night photos coming.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Macro Monday 12, contest, diamonds

I was thinking Sunday midnight for the entries to close on the contest, but the actual text says Monday at midnight. Oops. That's today for those that have are reading this now. Which could lead me down the rabbit hole of discussing what 'now' means in an asynchronous world, but we won't go there. Today. Maybe a different now. For all I know 'now' I'll come back in the future and put a link there.

So, one more last clue, a somewhat less zoomed in version of the object. Scroll down.

Wine diamonds are rarely found in commercial wine. They are made up from Tartaric acid binding with potassium, and are generally held to be an indicator the grapes were on the vine longer, and the wine fermented longer. The red ones have just been stained by the sediment.

What puzzles me is why the red ones are curved and ridged, but the white ones are more crystalline. In any case, they're tiny. These were not attached to the cork, so I had to figure out how to get them positioned and stable so I could capture the images. These are all at between 4 and 5x mag.

I managed to get them set up so that some of the crystals were in the morning sun, plus an LED light, plus the macro flash of course. The combination sometimes produced a lovely glow that doesn't really come across well in the photos. By the time I got to some of the other crystals the sun had moved.

And your last, really, no fooling, not kidding around this time, clue. Remember, several other recent blog posts have clues, most particularly, this one. Remember, the prize is to choose one of my 35K plus images and get a file suitable for a desktop screen or printing out fairly big, though the printing is on your dime, but printing is cheap. Many of mine will look lovely on canvas and then you don't need to frame, though putting canvas in a float frame looks stunningly good.

It just occurred to me that my out of town readers will not get quite as wide a selection, unless they want to come here. In that case I'll roll out the red carpet. But they can choose between any of mine that have appeared in this blog over the last year and a half or so, or more recently on my photoblog. Most of the images on Facebook or Instagram came through my good camera, but not all. We'll work something out.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunset fail. But. And last clue.

Some days you just have itchy photography fingers. It was getting towards late afternoon, and I wanted to be out for the sunset. The sky was iffy but possible, and you never know till it happens or not. I was thinking it was more likely to get a nice landscape with the slanted light.

So many places to go! In the end I remembered South Glenmore park looking west, not far from the big power line tower. I've run and biked past there many times and thought the light might be right. I walked a trail I've never been on, and while I could see downtown through the trees, the photos didn't work.

There are several spots along the fence with a nice view west, but it wasn't as nice as I had remembered. The ring road construction doesn't help. While I was waiting to see if the sky would light up, I found these three shots. You could be forgiven for thinking it was still summer.

And then this happened! I'm not sure where they appeared from but there were 5 altogether. I didn't have enough lens to do these guys justice. They knew I was there, and showed no signs of coming any closer. In the end the sun fizzled out and I went home to a lovely lamb shank dinner.

Later that night (Saturday) I went out for some night shots. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow is macro Monday, and the results of the contest. You still have time to enter. Several of the blogs between now and last Monday have clues in them. Here's the last clue. After his food bowl, this is Curtis's favourite thing, and is why he has human servants with all their attendant frustrations in opposable thumb operation.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Plants and snow and gear

I don't know what sort of plant this is, but I was amused by the thought of it reaching for the sun, trying to escape the snow.

This one, of course, is the dread Alberta Rose, looking out at the snow and sneering. It will take more than a little bit of snow to slow down it's plans for lawn and garden domination. The return of the glaciers might do it.

The errand today was to get a new tripod head. I was thinking of getting  a new tripod as well since mine has a leg with a broken plastic thingie inside, so the second segment pulls right out of the first. No doubt if I could find the parts it would be easy to fix. Maybe one of my buddies will have an old one with those sorts of parts they'd be willing to let go. (hint, hint). My plan is to set up the old one permanently with the macro stuff mounted on it.

Turns out The Camera Store had a smoking hot deal on the tripod I had my eye on, knowing that several of my photo buddies use it and like it. So I got it too, always nice to save $50. It only took two in and out clicks to fall in love with the camera to tripod head attachment system. I'm going out tonight to test it all out. Hopefully it will go better than the session the other night.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A tree, twice. Thoughts. Hints.

You might be thinking, that tree looks familiar. It should, for people that have been reading my blog for a year or more.

My eyes saw a slightly hazy moon behind the tree, and I knew it would be a tough photo, but I zoomed out anyways. Several lenses and several shots later on each, I had this. I like how it's lit up by both the little more than half moon, and the streetlight across the road. The house isn't quite that yellow, but such is the price of getting the rest of it looking nice. I think the brightness of it balances the darkness of the rest of the image.

Here's the photo of the same tree a year or so ago. One of the nicer sunrises, even by the standards of the last little while.

Today was a thoughtful day, mostly. I think that people need some time to be quiet and think about whatever pleases them, and today was it. There was some time editing my various written works, fixing things that baffle me I could have written in the first place, and not noticed in the various re-reads. There was some time thinking about where I want to go with photography, and what, if anything, to do about equipment. All this was while Curtis was purring in time with my thoughts.

It's kind of cool out today, and I was feeling like a bit of a weenie so I didn't run. I can console myself that I had a really good swim and water run yesterday. Today was about 45 min easy spin. From there I crossed a few things off my to-do list.

There's been a few more entries in my contest, but no correct entries so far. One great idea for a macro photo session, so thank you there. There was a suggestion about hints, so I did one here. Here's another one - look at this recent blog post carefully. That should give you some ideas.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My equipment drooped

Last night I was itchy to be out shooting night scenes. Some of the people I follow on Instagram and Facebook have been posting these luscious photos of buildings at night. It's fun to go shooting at night. There's all sorts of interesting photos happening if you open yourself to the possibilities.

Firstly, you have to dress for it. I did.

Second, you need to make sure your camera batteries are charged, and you have all of them. I did.

Third, you need a tripod. I did. Emphasis on the past tense.

The tripod has to be sturdy and stable. I was having fun, even though the place I started at didn't see the curves of the road quite like I had hoped. So there I was shooting skyline, and some other cityscapes, when I noticed my lens was starting to drift down a bit. It's common for it to settle a little as the weight of the lens takes up the slack in the ball tightening mechanism. I usually aim slightly high, it settles to where I want it, and I don't think about it anymore.

So I reach around, loosen the lever while putting the lens where I want it, and tighten up the lever again. Whoopsie. Around and around, nothing getting tight enough to hold the lens. I didn't think I reefed on it that hard, but I know a stripped bolt when I run into it. Crap. Turns out the manufacturer's warranty is 1 year, and it's a year and a half old. Sigh. It's just a chance to get better equipment.

Anyone have a sturdy tripod ball head they want to sell? Rated for at least 10 kilos, and preferably with a quick release plate, not the Vanguard thumbscrew thingie.

So that was pretty well the end of the night's shooting. It's impossible to hold a camera steady for the longer exposures needed at night, and there is rarely a good surface to put the camera down on. So home again. It was kind of on the verge of snowing anyways, and the sky didn't really look that nice anyways.

Here's the only 4 shots I thought worth editing. This first one turned into an exercise in manual focus. The camera was absolutely fixated on those trees, and I wanted them slightly out of focus as a frame. The tower looks terrible if it's out of focus.

I was trying to find a long exposure that would capture the airplanes taking off as one long streak that didn't over expose everything else. This is where I noticed the drooping lens while I waited for planes.

In other news, still no entries in the contest, though I've had some commentary on private channels. It's maybe too obscure, and it was suggested that some hints would be appreciated. Fair enough, you are only seeing a few mm of the business end of an object in common use in our house. Any visitors have probably seen it, though probably not paid any attention to it, even if I was using it in front of them. So it's not a sex toy. I know for a fact that many of my readers will have a functionally identical object, even if it might be shaped slightly differently.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Some of you are probably scratching your heads, wondering what that photo is. It didn't quite work out like I intended, but the blog version I see as I type is better than the Lightroom version I edited. Not sure how that works. In any case, it's not my most successful image, and that's fine. I may revisit it and have another go.

I've been looking at the world around me, trying to open my mind and get past the recognition part of my brain saying 'that isn't anything dangerous, look somewhere else for something dangerous that might pounce and eat me.'

This is an example of that. As soon as I I saw it glinting in the light, I knew what it was. Being a guy, my first thought was NOT that the house needed vacuuming. My first thought was to move on and think about the next photo trip, or something else. But then I dragged myself back for another look, and tried to think about it as sunlight refracting off a semi transparent substance. Would it be a good image? Could I tweak it Lightroom to make it an interesting image?

At the time I was thinking of a sort of reverse image of solar flare prominences with the sun part being blacked out. No surprise it didn't come out that way, but in the bigger version I see lots of tiny rainbows, which was a bit of a surprise. That's why I'm willing to try these shots, just to see what will happen.

 Anyone that's been to our house knows whats happening in this next photo. There's lots of people going to be taking poppy shots over the next little while. I'd like to think this one is unique, showing a reflection of poppies (with all that implies) buried amidst the knickknacks on something we look at many times a day, and not just on Remembrance Day, but all year.

And last, just because. Curtis! Some days I think he's the real star of this blog.

In followup, don't forget the contest running here. So far I have zero, count'em, zero entries. So your odds are pretty good.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Macro Monday 11, metal

A contest! These two things are not the same. Neither are as clean as perhaps they should be, but it's not terribly important. The first is pretty obvious, so no prize there.

The second though, in photos 3 and 4, is a bit more obscure. If anyone can specifically guess what it is, they can choose any image of mine they like for a prize, (there are about 35,000) and they'll get a file suitable for printing. I would suggest at Resolve, but some of you live elsewhere. Or if you would prefer a medium quality shot for a good desktop image, I can do that too. If you have a nice frame you want to fill, I can usually tweak the image to fit it. The framing is the expensive part.

I know people sometimes read my blog in batches, so the contest will stay open till Monday November 13 at midnight, then I'll draw between the correct answers. You can enter by commenting below on the blog, by commenting on the Facebook post, by private messaging me on Facebook, or sending an email to keith at nucleus dot com. If you know my cell number you can text if you want to do that. I'm not going to notice anything via Twitter. The winner will hear from me, and then once that's all sorted I'll announce the results. No comment till then. Bonus points if you mention which image you would like.

All of these were shot at 5x (except #3) all with extension tubes, which messes up the magnification numbers a bit. I'm not sure how much, but at 5x without the tubes, the camera sees about 4.5 mm wide, and with all the tubes it's about 3 mm.



3. About 3x mag with tubes.

4. Remember, you are seeing about 3 mm worth of this object. The white substance would wash off.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Missed my own bloggy-versary

How could that happen? Ten years is a long time in the blog universe. Just a few days and 10 years ago I started this fitness blog. Oct 27, 2007. 2530 or so blog posts later, one every 1.44 days on average, here we are. Much has changed.

We won't get into how much I've changed, other than saying I'm way, WAY more healthy now.

The blog started as a way for my fitness coach to keep track of what I was doing. One of his other clients was already a friend, and several others have become good friends. Some of the readers that started with me way back then are still reading, at least some of the time. (Hello!) Some have drifted off to other activities and don't do triathlon anymore.

Lots don't blog anymore. Blogging doesn't seem to be as popular, both reading and writing, OR commenting, as it once was. Maybe they've migrated to Facebook or other platforms, but those other platforms piss me off, what with fickle article ordering and (gag) advertising. My readership has stayed fairly constant, maybe slowly growing over the years. I've gained some readers and lost others.

I enjoy writing it. I figure if you didn't enjoy reading it for whatever reason, you wouldn't be here. Thank you for coming. Essentially, I plan to keep on writing it. What you have seen is what you will continue to get. A bit of fitness, lots of photos of various things, some wine, a bit of news, a rant every now and then, but no dancing girls or click bait. This is a quality blog.

To celebrate here's one of the first photos with the good camera that I really liked. I can do better now.

And more blog fitness related, one of the very first photos to go on the blog, my bike Estela. She is just coming up on 10 years as well, and has been a great bike for me. Pity I'm not out on her more often this summer, but maybe next. I am being encouraged to do an Oly next year, perhaps Chinook. I haven't had such good luck with their half, maybe the Oly will be the trick.

Oh, and don't bother going back to the beginning and reading the first posts. They're pretty dreadful.

Now it's your turn. Who are you? Leave a comment, or or a Facebook reply if that's where you saw the link. I'd love to know what you like about the blog, or what makes you cringe.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The cats are ganging up on us

Yes, these two.

For a while Celina was a bit picky about canned food, but she was having some issues with her teeth. That all got cleaned up and she was eating with a good appetite again. We worry a little about her eating enough.

Curtis, on the other paw, is a big inhaler. He always wants more food, and is willing to be helpful about finishing off Celina's. Or ours, if we don't keep an eye on it.

What started happening is that Celina would be eating slowly, then Curtis would come along and push her aside. We started separating them at meal time. Then it seemed like Celina would wait a bit, and then would eat, slowly, while Curtis watched, while we kept him back. She would crunch a crunchy or two, while watching him, then look over the remaining crunchies, pick one, chew it, think about it for a while, and meanwhile Curtis is well on the way to being around the bend with frustration.

We've always been willing to give her more food when she asks. She's a bit of a snacker. But then we realized she was leaving it for Curtis, and he was plumping up again. Now we're back to watching them to make sure she eats it all, and if not we set it aside for her. Well, unless there's just a mouthful or two.

Celina was being a coy subject, and I was playing with manual focus, just because.  One photographer video I was watching suggested that rather than playing with auto focus points, or getting focus then re-composing, why not learn how to focus manually so what you want is in focus. Clearly this wouldn't work for fast action, but it seems like a useful skill to have. As a beginner tip, it works easier with lighter lenses.


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