Friday, September 29, 2006

Bay Fog Arrives

It's proven to be yet another hazy and lazy fall day here in Vancouver made all the more beautiful by the arrival of the first blankets of Bay Fog (Hoar Fog for you purists) of the fall. I was able to get some nice stills while taking my car in for a tune-up at my regular dealership just south of the Granville Island market.

Once I'd dropped off the car and got back to start the work day I recorded some cool time lapse as the fog bank rolled in and out of English Bay. Hopefully I'll digest the post-production of the videos into something less daunting and get today's treat up on YouTube sooner rather than later.

Fog? We Don't Have No Stinkin' Fog!

During the winter, from November to February, we'll get persistent banks of bay fog that often shroud the city for an entire week. By that point in the winter while we're pretty much used to perpetual moisture the fog itself is often a nice break from the unrelenting rain. Living high above English Bay has an advantage during this period in that the fog will often be low enough to let winter sunshine pour into my apartment. A cool damp atmospheric blanket that muffles the smells and sounds of the city.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

YouTube Test - Free Hugs

YouTube is a new net-phenomena that hit critical mass during the later part of 2005. It's a pretty nifty site that lets anyone upload videos which are then presented to the masses. People can view the videos, comment on them, add the producer/director of the video to their list of favorites, become a director, etc. and etc. It's one of those "flash of brilliance" sorts of ideas that while not quite, yet, to the scale of Google is something that I expect will, over time, become larger than searching the net.

The core reason for this blog is to publish photos and pictures that distort time. Temporal Distortion, in it's simplest, means to distort the temporal, aka time, axis of our reality through various means.

I love time lapse. Compressing hours of time into minutes of video shows a side of nature reserved for 300 year old Douglas Fur trees.

I love altering the presentation of time just as much via the world of still photography. Compress 500 milliseconds of the life of a waterfall into a single still image and you get the shot on the left.

Water becomes almost milk and what were basic highlights of color and sun sparkle become almost primordial pools of infinity.

In fact photographers call this effect "milky water" and, as with any cool photo, all you need is a bit of knowledge, a good sense of composition and the ability to see multi-seconds of reality blurred into a single moment. Easy right? :)

Tech specs wise this photograph was taken at f/18 using a non-digital Nikkor AF 70-210 f/5.6 lens at 70 mm with an exposure time of 1/2 second. No post production was done on the image. What you see is what me and the camera got. The pretty subject itself is of one of three drippy pools of photo-delight on the north shore of Vancouver where Crypress Mountain runs-off into the pacific via Cypress Creak. I've been there more than once but not yet with the new Nikon. Sometime this week or next though for sure.

Anyway, I digress.

Here's my first test of linking my blog to YouTube. This will be an embedded link to a video I found today that made me feel really good inside. Who can pass up a free hug? Many it seems but once the word spreads it's a hug-o-rama.

To view the video click on the link below. If you are new to the net you may be asked to install Adobe's Flash Player in your browser. Doing this is a good thing in that lots of cool web sites, including YouTube, use the Flash Player.

If you have the Flash Player already installed the embedded link below should work and there's no need for you to go to YouTube to watch the video. All ya gotta do is click twice on the image below and sit back and enjoy.

Macro vs Micro

Trust the big guys to try and change the world, one idea at a time. Nikon does not produce macro lenses they produce micro lenses. These micro lenses perform the exact same function as macro lenses (extreme closeups with tight depths of field) but that's not the point. The point is .... erm .... I've no idea what the points is. Some marketing flash of brilliance (aka more money) that just escapes my simple mind at the moment.

Nikon produces some of the best lenses on the planet (their Nikkor line) and whether it's a macro or a micro lense I really could care less. What I want is a lense that will let me get 10 cm away from my subject and take a nice crisp photo with a super-model thin depth of field.
Wood Eye? You Bet I Would!!

Ack, bad pun aside for some reason this macro ... erm ... "micro" shot of a weathered wooden plank, part of the actual wall on the Vancouver Seawall walk in the West End, reminds me of an owls eye.

Macro photography is a brand new tanget on my photographic journey and in upgrading to the very new Nikon D80 digital (the coolest camera I've yet owned) I decided to go one step furthur and snagged the Nikkor AF 60 mm, F/2.8D Micro lens.

Macro photography will take a good amount of practice and even in my early "oh my god this is just too cool" infatuation phase a bit of pragmatism is sneaking in. Given that at f/8 your depth of field is measured in just a few centimeters (that's an inch or so for my American brothers & sisters) macro photography just begs to be done on a tripod. While shooting this pic today I noticed that even with continuous focus running after the first focus the image would start to magically blur as my center of gravity shifted a few cm. Slap me if, after a few beers, I announce now is the time for some point-and-shoot-micro photography. Yeah .... right.

English Bay Beach - Sept 26 2006
As you can see there's no snow on the mountains yet. In fact that particular part of Vancouver's beauty is still two months or so away. Still loads of time to get down to the beach for some serious tanning four days before the start of October and the arrival of our annual 6 month monsoon season.
With this shot I'm using a macro lense to do the work of a wide angle or zoom telephoto. The photo looks good. The image is nice and crisp and even unprocessed the white balance on the shot is a respectable 6 out of 10 on my overly fussy wb scale. I don't expect the new lense will take over for my 18-200 mm zoom DX VR (vibration reduction) Nikkor but in a pince the result's no too bad.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Free Cat Treats?!?!?

I love cats.

  • When I left home to start my graduate degree in chemistry in Ottawa back in September 1980 I did two things right off.
  • * Rented a 17 inch color TV for my bedroom.
    * Started looking for a kitten.

By October I'd found Jennifer, my first cat who patiently trained me in the ways of the feline and brokered the idyllic life of those of her kind who came after her. Since Jennifer I've proudly shared space with numerous cats 4 of whom I'd consider soul mates. The over-the-top-cute cat in this photo is Sirrus. Your basic domestic short hair, five years old and 16 pounds of fur that has more personality than half the humans I know.

In the previous post the second photo is of her sister Sheba. A long haired, high maintenance cat that defines the word timid. Timid yet her trust of me is so total it's sometimes exasperating. What would posses any creature to hop into a chair this big human is just about to sit on?

These days the phrase "pet owner" has evolved into "guardian" and/or "companion". Politically correct terms which are all well and good but for me a better descriptor of the human/cat relationship is "soul mate". Feeling the twitch and wiggle of a cat's paws as it sleeps and dreams in your lap makes it tough to think these creatures lack a soul.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

You Did 'What?' To The Blog?!?

Ok, Ok, so sue me.


I saw a button that says "Upgrade Your Blog" and guess what flashes through my mind?

Yup. Words like 'Bigger', 'Better', 'Faster', 'Stronger' and with a much better page editor to boot!.

Sigh. I'm such a sucker for marketing.

So far I've found some nifty new templates but no matter how friendly Google makes their blog software (and it's extremely friendly by the way) to get that crisp awe inspiring professional look for my blog site I need to add some crisp awe inspiring professional HTML not to mention design. By hand. The old school way. Ugh. The improved spell checker though is rather killer.

You Through Yet!?!?

Ahhh, nope. Not really.

I mean come on. This is an organic evolutionary thing that will, over time, morph into the penultimate site for not only cool photos of Vancouver and British Columbia but ... well links to cool videos as well.

It's going to be awesome!! Just as soon as I develop the patience and aptitude to edit some 50 hours of time lapsed video, much of it totally cool, into something worth posting on

The idea of publishing my videos online kind of terrifies me. Once posted the videos are exposed to the rabid comments of the millions of YouTube visitors who have no qualms in either trying to direct you to their 'killer' video or comparing your video to that wierd goo that snails leave being. I've done several searches for 'Time Lapse' videos on YouTube and based on what I've found (20 seconds of fast moving but none the less boring clouds) I've a hunch some of my better ones will gain some quick attention.

Ok. Wake Me Up When It's Over Then

I am looking forward to getting the videos up in a "scary, feelings of doom and gloom" sort of way. This blog has been fun to update and apart from my grumblings over the pathetic HTML editor I can't beat the price - $0.

Gotta love those Google guys.

One final note. All of the photos, apart from the 1985 shots in New York, were taken using a Nikon D100 6.1 MPixel digital camera. The photos were marginally processed using ThumbsPlus Pro and resized from their original 3008x2000 24 bit Nikon RAW/NEF format down to 752x500 25 bit RGP JPG renditions. The reason I bring that up is that come tomorrow I'll be upgrading to the Nikon D80s 10 MPixel digital camera. It feels like the night before Christmas. :) Funny how going from a 4 year old D100 to a 1 month old D80s is an 'upgrade'. So much for numbering schemes.

Gull In Motion
Fall, 2005

Is photography an art form? It depends I guess on what you define as art. A question I've been asking myself since my first finger painting in pre-school. "Look mom!! Brown streaky finger printy art of a cow!!" ... "That's very nice Dougie."

Over the years I've accepted two things about art. First, everyone has their own definition of what it is and while it's great when two people agree on a common definition such agreement is not the norm. Second, for me art is the artist capturing an emotional moment and being able to share that emotion with me through his or her medium. Whether it's a digital or analogue photograph, a painting, an addictive tune by the French pop star Alizee or the CBC Radio Orchestra giving a stellar rendition of the second movement of Beethoven's 6th symphony to me it's all art. All of those media can capture the artist's emotion and act as a conduit to share it with me its consumer.

Here's a seagull in full glide-mode over the rich and varied orange hues of Sunset Beach Park, downtown Vancouver, bathed in the warm glow of a fall westcoast sunset. The cool thing about this shot is that apart from the regular digital cleanup and slight sharpening that I do to all my digital photographs no other manipulations were employed. What you see in the photo is pretty much what I saw through the view finder of my Nikon D100. The question is can you feel what I did when I took the shot?

Is it art in other words?

For me, the artist, the answer is an easy yes. Each time I look at this photo I can feel the gull skipping on the end day thermals as she glides across pure golden warmth. I can feel the sun on my face and almost hear the sound of her wing on the wind.

And I worked hard to get the shot. I could feel the moment was perfect, the light was just right and the gulls were having enough fun swooping and climbing to give me enough time, light and their varied antics to get at least one good shot. I pulled out all the technical stops and eventually captured just the moment I wanted - this one.

Art - plain and simple.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Spanish Banks, Kitsilano
Mar 26 2006 6:21 PM

I love sunsets and when a particularily good one arrives it feels like I'm watching God as a painter. The day's nearly come to an end, at least for this pilgrim, and God whips out the paint brushes, a billion shades of red and organge and goes nuts.

What photos never capture though is the flashes of brilliance this painter often displays in the blink of an eye. A zodiacle flair will suddenly appear and then just as quickly fade away. At times I wonder if I've been the only one to see such beauty.

Gulf Island Orange
June 2005

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Burrard St. Bridge, Vancouver
August 28 2006 8:38 PM

Here's a 25 second exposure taken just past sunset. During the last 10 seconds I performed a slow manual inward zoom to give the photo a nifty sense of time and motion. It's a cheezy sort of shot in that nearly every one I take with this technique looks pretty cool yet the image is more effect than substance.

Cheezy but yummy. Sort of the junk food of the "Oh cool" genre of night time shots.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Stuff of Tears
Gone But Not Forgotten

The 5th anniversary of 9/11 is just around the corner. An anniversary I never want to forget but at times prefer not to remember.

Such senseless horror that, for better or for worse, removed in my mind any illusion that all the world in general and the Muslim community in particular needed was a good hug.

The wide-eyed naive liberal in me died that day and I cried till the end of the week. Lost in bottles of wine, cases of beer and CNN 24/7.

I loved New York and still do.

A city that has an organic almost corporeal feel to it 24 hours per day.

As a fan of architecture I fell in love with the Twin Towers to the point that on that day I felt the loss for the buildings first and for the thousands second.

I'd been there.

I'd stood on the observation deck and looked into the heart of Manhattan and then turned 90's west to gaze at a New Jersey caught in the lazy haze of summer.

So here were are, 5 years past that rude awakening and what have we learned?

We've re-learned what we already knew and been shocked to get confirmed what we had once only feared.

Take anything to the extreme, in particular religion, and you'll find paranoid fascism.

We've learned that the world is not all peaches and cream and that assimilation is perhaps the lesser of two evils when compared to the supposed noble purity of multiculturalism.

We've learned that others hate simply because they can't stomach the thought of being more alike than different.

We've learned that one parasitic and cancerous slice of our world will only be happy when we role our ethics and beliefs back to the time of Mohammed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Holy cow!! Two blog entries in one day? What's next? Three?

(July 29 2006 10:16 PM)

During the final week of July and the first week of August Vancouver plays host to the Celebration of Light fireworks competition. (Web Site Link) It's a pretty spectacular affair with four different countries competing and simultaneously amazing upwards of 400,000 fans lining the beaches of downtown Vancouver. This year the festival played host to:

Czech Republic

Mexico won the festival but personally I think China, shown on the left, delivered the better show. I mean come on. They invented fireworks rights? On top of that, having watched all but one of the shows since 1991 I feel eminently qualified to judge.

Afer years of frustration with taking pictures of fireworks I've finally figured out how to get some pretty spiffy images. As with most things learned via the school of hard knocks in the end the tricks are simple & straightforward:

  • Go digital. If you haven't your missing out.
  • You'll need a camera that can be set to full manual. This is where you control both the shutter speed and aperture setting. When you are shooting fireworks you'll be adjusting both settings, reviewing the images, adjusting some more, etc. If you've never gone manual with your camera or can't then trying to photograph something like fireworks will be more frustrating than it's worth.
  • The camera has to be mounted on a tripod and you'll need to connect a shutter release cable to take the picture without shaking the camera.
  • Volume, volume, volume. With today's digital cameras and large capacity media cards you can shot hundreds of photos during a 25 minutes show. This year during China's performance for example I shot just under 170 images or roughly 7 shots per minute. Out of those 170 I liked 30 or so and out of those 30 I really liked 6.
  • Remember, when you are taking pictures of fireworks you're painting with light. Use the LCD on your digital to review what you just took and prepare for the next image.
  • Try as many different ways of taking pictures as you like. Increase the length of the exposure, fiddle with the aperture, etc. Eventually you'll find the groove and if you are lucky you'll find that groove before the fireworks end.

Welcome to the Temporal Distortions blog site!

I've been an avid still and video photographer for many years now and the ability to use photography to distort time has allways intrigued me. Whether it's a 30 second still photo of a waterfall or a day in the life of my living room compressed into 3 minutes of widescreen video the results never cease to amaze me. I'll use to host part of my collection of time lapse videos but to keep things simple and being a blog-noob I'll start simple and post some of the cooler still photos from my CoolPics archive.

Sunset Beach - Lowtide Rock Seagull
(Taken: Feb 17 2006 - 1:17 pm PT)

Surrounding the downtown core of Vancouver, aka the West End, is the Seawall. A 15 km pedestrian and bicycle walkway that now almost completly encircles what has allways been, in my opinion, one of the coolest places to live in Canada. On the western edge of the downtown core you'll find a series of named beaches running from the Burrard St. bridge (cool photo to come) to deep into Stanley Park. This photo is of the very start of the very first named beaches - Sunset Beach at low tide. A cool rock formation artfully crafted by the city engineers into the shape of a seagull in flight.

What's equally interesting is that during the summer months, usually a half hour either side of sunset, flock after flock of seagulls will head north along the beach towards the North Shore of Vancouver. The food must be better in West Vancouver or something.