Monday, October 30, 2006

False Creek Magic Light
Oct 23 2006

One of the first things I discovered when I embraced photography as a hobby was that taking a picture is, in essence, painting with light. I don't expect that I'm the first photographer to realize this but when that particular realization struck me it radically changed how I looked through the camera's view finder.

Don't get me wrong, I still love to point and shoot whatever the moment brings but as a nature/landscape photographer when I get serious and spend the time to first embrace, then frame and then finally configure a photograph it's all about light.

I was pretty thrilled then when a week ago, as happens two or three times a year, a local film crew setup their lighting gear on Sunset Beach to shoot some exteriors on the other side of False Creek. Night became day and I had a front row seat on thousands of bucks worth of magic light.

This time I opted for high vantage point shots rather than venturing down to the beach for some close ups. The light and the compositional opportunities were pretty endless from 32 floors up and I spent a third of the 104 shots doing that cheesy but fun expose & zoom trick. Having already subjected this blog to the results of this technique I'll skip including any of them with this entry. .... Must ... resist ... must ... :)

Anyway, with a 10 mega-pixel camera I now shoot at a resolution of 3,872 by 2,592 pixels. This is roughly the number of pixels you would find on seven and half 19" LCD monitors running at their native resolution of 1280 by 1024.

JPG images take up roughly 4 MBytes and Nikon's native RAW format (what they call NEF) produces an image that comes in between 9 and 11 MBytes. Thank goodness for 2 Gbyte memory cards. Being able to shoot at such a super high resolution however is a two edge sword. When an image is displayed at it's native resolution I can instantly pick up even the slightest of blurry imperfections. Grumble.

What I've discovered is that when taking long exposure high resolution shots, even when the camera's mounted on a nice solid tripod with a locked down ball style mount, 10 seconds or more of settling time is needed before I should press the shutter on the cable attached remote shutter release. The shot above was taken at an aperture of F5.6 and exposed for 3 seconds with an auto-ISO setting of 400. It was also taken about 30 seconds after I'd taken the first shot in this sequence which turned out to be blurry enough to be pretty much useless. Patience grasshopper. Compose, take 2 deep breaths then click the shutter release cable.

All part of the never-ending learning curve that is any cool hobby. :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Winter?!?! Oh Nooooo!!!

Just kidding. While the monsoon and fog season has begun here in Vancouver our climate is so temperate that a snow storm is defined as an inch or more of snow that stays longer than 24 hours.

Winter is quite mellow and laid back when he visits Vancouver and prefers to chill on the beach and dust a few mountains if the spirit so moves him. When he visits this slice of paradise he's got anything but a hate-on Nothing like the one he seems to have by the time he reaches the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and passes over Calgary. Who could blame him actually. :)

So, while it's anything but winter here on the wet-coast it is coming up to the time to start thinking a few months ahead. This year I'm going to try Future Shop's photo services for my Christmas cards.

I've selected three images for the the 36 or so cards I plan to ship (family, friends, work associates and clients). As luck would have it we had a nice winter blast nearly two years ago and I was able to capture quite a few of it's angles on digital film.

The one to the left is my favorite followed very closely by the darker image above. The dark image might seem beyond surreal initially. As a hint it's a high altitude shot from my apartment of the small ferry dock down below. On the right is the gangway out to the dock itself. At the bottom is part of the Sea Wall walk-way including a few intrepid and no doubt chilled walkers.

If you'd like a Christmas card from yours truly leave a comment with your postal address mentioning which one to send and I'll be more than happy to do so.

As allways I'm looking forward to that magic day, perhaps a month or so away, when the clouds will part after a few days of rain to reveal the North Shore mountains sprinkled in snow. I'm already planning where I'll take photos from when that happens and should have a test picture up in the next few days ... assuming the sun shows it's face.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

English Bay Fog

A week or so back a soft, gentle fog rolled into English Bay in Vancouver. It was very much a kiss from the ocean. Smelling of salt and the end of tide it was a crisp hint of the winter to come tempered with the promise of only a few days of snow. Three days of winter or, at worst, perhaps a week of what would be, in hindsight, simple fun.

How can you not love a part of the world that Mother Nature also loves? It's as though she saves her best weather for this particular ground zero. The planet's sweet spot.

Fortunately only a few lucky fools have found this particular slice of paradise. If everyone knew how great a place to live Vancouver was the parking would be horrid.

Here's a few hours of the fog that visits English Bay.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Summer Sun Time Lapse
August 2006

Here's the first in what will be a never ending series of time lapse flicks from yours truly. This one was taken during mid-August from 4:30 PM to an hour or so to after sunset (9:40 PM). I was quite happy with the results but couldn't find the particular piece of music I wanted to include to accompany it. I had this classical track rattling around in my head for a month after creating the video but couldn't' for the life of me recall the artist or the piece.

It's funny how synchronicity works but last week I digitized one my of my favorite classical albums and uncovered the exact piece I was searching for. On the B side of a collection of Pachelbel's works, including his famous Canon in D major, was the allegro movement from Johann Friedrich Fasch's Symphony for Strings in A major. The piece I think has a nice circular rhythm to it that I felt would be the perfect compliment to the spinning of the clock and the relentless motion of the shadows as they skate across my living room's floor.

The clock itself came from the Bombay Company and each hour of real-time was compressed into 15 seconds of wide screen, 16:9 video. Seeing Sirrus and Sheba pop in on-and off during the filming was a total and unexpected bonus.

Next up, 3 hours of fog rolling into and out of English Bay. I just gotta find this rift of music that will compliment the flow of the fog. I'm thinking The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana. Now to find it ...

Monday, October 02, 2006

One Month Anniversary Entry!
Stratos - Vancouver


Congrats me!! One month of blogging under my belt and I'm more charged about the medium then I was when I first started.

Here's a shot of me looking out onto a west coast sunset with one of those pensive "If they discover I'm an advanced scout for an alien invasion armada I'm doomed." sorts of looks. I'd better call the mothership.

"May you live in interesting times".

A fortune or a curse?

Personally I consider that phrase a fortune and, having given the subject considerable thought over the years I would consider it a fortune to be witness to the earth being hit with one of those monstrous, Manhattan sized cometary fragments. Yes, such an event would kick us back several epochs prior to the stone-age (and then some) but being part of a one in a 20 million year event, for a species that is barely 10,000 years into civilized, I would consider to be rather cool. Cool in a way that makes James Dean's "live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse" motto come out pretty thin.

Anyway, time for some fun with this new media.

I expect that few peope (if any save me) have this net location added to their web browser favorites. But, being the perpetual optimistic, I've long since realized that having an audience for the content is secondary to the experience of creating it.

21st Century Audio System

Alot has changed since I bought my first stereo system in the summer of 1974. Back then a month's wages for a teenager working a summer job bought the basic of the basics which, funny now that I think of it, was a Sony system.

Shown here is my final analogue system which goes beyond the audio-phile standards of even a decade ago by several generations. Shown in the photo is a digital surround sound processing amplifier, 200 CD changer (the gizmo on the bottom), a super VHS VCR, a dual Dolby NR cassette deck, belt drive turntable (on the top), USB 2.0 integrated analoge to digital audio conversion hardware, USB 2.0 analoge, composite and S-VHS interconnect hardware and just over 1,000 GBytes of USB 2.0 wired disk storage. Not shown is the PC the system connects to.

This is my evolutionary system in that I'm fairly certain that my audio listening needs, as they have been for the past 4 years or so, will be fully satisfied via computers in various sizes for the rest of my life. So long analogue ... well, sort of.

I love my iPod just as much as I love my media PC. Having thousands of hours of CD quality audio just a few clicks and shuffles away boggles the mind of even this gray haired geek.

So many changes in so short a space of time. So many changes so fast that, naturally, I'm still a part of the 2 TV channel world and miss the snap, crackle 'n pop of my vinyl records.

When the CD revolution errupted in the 1980's I was one of the first to embrace the new media. I can still remember the first time I listened to the album Brothers In Arms by the Dire Straits on my first generation portable, ... Sony (again), ... CD player. It was a sunny Friday afternoon and I was sitting on my first couch, headphones on, listening to the first track. The sound was beyond anything I'd experienced in the world of vinyl and I was hooked. Hooked to the point of switching 100% of my music purchases to CDs and eventauly loosing touch with my vinyl. A respectable 200+ album collection by then.

The platters were gone but they were anything but forgotten.

For several years now I've been on an Analog to Digital Mission From God and this year I have finally cracked the digital equivalent of the Da Vinci Code!!

Yes brothers and sisters!! There is a way to bring back from the dead those musical memories of old!!

This month, in a series of what I think will be pretty cool blog entries, I'll detail the technical, personal and philosophical details, start to finish, in moving your favorite LP to your favorite MP3 player. It's not as tough as you might think (technically) but it is a process that will set you back $200 or so for the necessary hardware and cables. The price tag will be less if you want to go cheap. More if you want to make the tortuous journey to digital nerd-vana.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have popped in every once and awhile to read this blog. It's a fun media to express yourself via and one I'd highly recommend trying out. All you have to loose is a bit of time and while time is precious so is sharing with the rest of the world who you are and what turns your crank.