Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Here's Sirrus on a sunny mid-winter's afternoon drinking in the wholesome wonderfulness of being sun drenched while surrounded by a dozen of her favorite toys. Cat nirvana I'm guessing.

Her and her sister Sheba, since they were kittens, have been fans of movable things in general and cat toys in particular. What excites a cat though is often something as simple as a piece of torn cardboard (check out the sliver of stuff just to the left and down a bit from Sirrus's head) or, best of all, rolled up tinfoil.

The store bought variety of toy though, in particular the soft and cat-nip filled ones, have been a top of the hit list with both of my cats. Popular enough that I'm now well trained and when shopping for food, cat litter and cat grass, I'll remember their advice just before leaving. "Bring back some new toyz or don'ts come back at all."

Who's trained who I wonder. :)

A Magical Moment

This was a totally unplanned shot but one that I was quite happy with. No digital manipulation was performed to create it. Photoshop was not involved but a bit of mirror trickery was.

The setup that produced the image was a bit complicated so bear with me.

I've been experimenting with solar power for a year now and while the results are pretty depressing (3 days of summer sun equals two hours of lap top computer power) it's been quite educational. Mounted at the base of my living room window is a an 18 watt solar panel which I use, via a small regulator, to charge a 400 watt hour sealed battery backup unit.

Several weeks ago, as the day neared the end, the clouds parted and the sun at last arrived. It's image was reflected from the solar panel onto the living room window in front of it then up into my eyes. Looking down from my living room window on a normal day I have a great view of the Burrard Street bridge as well as the Sunset Beach dock of the Granville Island Ferry company . Merge a reflected sunset with a ferry in motion and, poof like magic, a surreal moment is born.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Techno Gremlins's being a bit fussy today and is not letting me upload images. Perhaps my excessive use of the entire orange color spectrum in yesterday's photos put me on some sort of "no-photo-no-fly watch list". Right now, deep in some hidden bunker outside of Arlington VA a operative who looks alot like Chloe O'Brien from the TV show 24 is looking at yesterday's photos for the upteenth time. No doubt she's mumbling things like "Jack's not gonna like this guys fixation with orange. Bet he shoots him in the leg."

I've got to admit that after posting those two pics I realized they are more on the art side of things than reality. The orange glow that oozes out of the photos like yesterday's maple syrup is an artifact of the long time exposure times (5 to 10 seconds) and is not actually how the Vancouver skyline looks like at night. Over the next few days, hopefully, I'll upload some of the more natural light pictures I took. I've a pretty cool one of the Burrard Street bridge itself that I'm quite proud of.

Anyway, it's a big no-go on new photos for today and that's a shame. I have a cute one of one of my cats overdosed on cat toys and a very dreamy image taken by bouncing and merging two images between two panes of glass. In theory I could claim the second image is some politcal statement on how it's possible to create cool photos without Photoshop but in reality I don't understand Photoshop well enough to do pretty much anything with it. I think it's because I have a PC wired brain and Photoshop is written for Mac heads.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The City That Never Sleeps

Well, actually it does sleep. From 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM during week and about 4:30 AM to 5:30 or so on weekends. I can tell because during those two intervals, if I'm awake, a certain stillness comes over the downtown core and the usual rumble of the traffic coming and going across the Burrard Street Bridge subsides to a soft whisper. How a city can get by on just an hour of sleep a night is beyond me. What's even more interesting than a sleep deprived city is that even though the downtown core of Vancouver has seen explosive growth the past 15 years (thousands and thousands more urbanites) this nightly pause in the to'ing and fro'ing has not changed.

The Close Encounters of the Third Kind lights in the top left corner of this image are actually from the Cypress Mountain ski area. One of the three ski hills within 45 minutes or so of downtown Vancouver. Yeah, it's tough living in paradise. :)

The photo above is of Sunset Beach which follows Beach Avenue down to English Bay Beach. The storms of November and December have not been kind to these beaches with several 150 year old trees that once fronted onto the bay now just tangled heaps of wood. If you have not yet seen An Inconvenient Truth do yourself a favour - rent it and watch it. While not without it's bias and occasional distortions it's a message you will never forget and might be just the nudge you'll need to lower your carbon footprint. Going green is a series of small steps and is not as tough as you might expect.

These two shots were taken around 7:30 in the evening last week from one of the four balconies on the Burrard Street bridge. I've gradually become used to the orange cast the mercury halogen street lights produce but I do pine, somewhat, for the old energy wasteful days of white streetlights.

If someone wanted to make a bazillion dollars they should invent a pair of night vision goggles that turned the Dawn of the Dead color palette of a city at night into something ... well less orange for starters. :) ... OK, maybe not a bazillion dollars but I'd buy a pair.

This second shot is looking up Thurlow Street with the Vancouver Aquatic center at the bottom of the hill. At the top you'll find Davie St. that unlike a good chunk of Robson St. (furthur downtown) still has much of it's old style west-end Vancouver charm not too mention some rather awesome restaurants.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

'Post A Day' Week!!

I've taken so many cool photos this month. The fog has been awesome. The days sunny. The dark ends of the cool winter nights filled with moonlight.

I've also made some pretty impressive progress on the first diet of my life. Six pounds baby!! I'm a long way from my ultimate goal (30 pounds lighter than today) but I'm in no rush and have found a nice balanced groove. Exercise - calorie counting and attitude. I'm not dieting so much as I'm relearning how to eat.

As a funny side effect of being so anal with something so invisible as eating I'm finding that this "just do-it" mantra has spilled over into other aspects of my life. As such this will be the week of one post per day. The images I've seen through the view finder of my D80 have been awesome and for the next seven days it will be one killer pic per day. Rain or shine.

First off Vancouver's planetarium, also know as the H.R. Macmillan Space Center nestled in bay-fog at sunrise: Temporal Coordinates ->

Monday, January 01, 2007

Winter Water Fall
Shannon Falls

After 3 or so years of talking about the idea my brother and I finally took his two children to see the Brackendale eagles. Each year between 3,000 and 4,000 bald and golden eagles spend the winter months feeding on the salmon that run up the Squamish River just 45 minutes or so north of Vancouver. That many birds together, especially given their position on the food chain (at the top) is anything but a flock. A tribe of eagles seems more fitting.

Walking through a forest sprinkled all around with eagles is pretty spectacular and contrary to popular belief these beautiful raptors are anything but solitary. As you'll quickly discover during chilly winter days they love to snuggle up beside each other and chat. The sound of eagles chirping about how freakin' cold it is!! is a pretty unique experience.

However, as awesome as that moment in time is it's not the subject of this blog.

I was hoping that the stills and video footage of the eagles would be blog-worthy but, sigh, such was not the case. We did see loads of eagles but in picking the touristy spot rather than my secret spot of years past it was all, ... well, .... sort of touristy.

In a few years the kids will be savvy enough to handle a bit of hiking. Until then I'll deffer to safety and will happily settle for touristy.

On the way back from Brackendale we took a quick detour just south of Squamish to show the kids Shannon Falls. Shannon Falls is the third highest water fall in British Columbia and for 365 days per year is equally as spectacular as the eagles. During the summer months, if you ignore the various "You have got to be out of your mind!!1" warning signs you can hike to the base of the falls itself. The photo opportunities at the ground zero of a 335 meter / 1,100 foot water are, needless to say, pretty incredible. However it's a hike best attempted during the summer. During the spring the occasional 20 meter long log will drop down onto the base and during the winter it's just too damn cold and slippery for city dwellers such as myself to attempt.

Access to the falls is wheel chair friendly and the provincial government (thinking ahead to the winter Olympics in 2010) is improving this particular slice of perfection with some serious upgrades.

My advice for the best view is to see the falls in the early afternoon during the summer. At that point the sun will be perfectly positioned to better accentuate the beauty of the water worn rock and, if you have the guts, you can hike closer than you should.

As an added bonus the Shannon Falls park also acts as a nice on-ramp to the Squamish Chiefs trail system. This year for sure. Me, the first Squamish Chief peak, digital camera, ... paradise.

For those who need "more" than the artistic splash of stills here's some video candy. Scoot to the end for the link to Stage6 and the better resolution 720p semi-Hi-Def DivX version.