Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday's Sunset ~|~ 8:43 PM PDT

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Saturday's Sunset ~|~ 8:41 PM PDT

As expected the arrival of a bit of transitional weather and high cirrus cloud produced a classic English Bay spring sunset. Rich with reds and oranges accenting the high jet contrails of the Alaska to California jet traffic.

There was also a rather interesting dueling cruise ship moment with two leaving Vancouver for Alaska crossing paths, at a very safe distance no doubt, with one returning to port. With the regular compliment of cargo ships waiting for the Monday rush just hanging out it made for an interesting view. Gigantic lumbering iron ruling what few waves there were.

, Alaska.

I haven't been there yet but it's very much on the list of "Top Ten Things To Do Very Soon". Well into the top ten actually but not quite up there with seeing the volcano's of Hawaii.

Ahh motion that becomes art.

For the past few weeks I've been watching the hi-def version of the BBC TV series Planet Earth. The series has been, pun sort of intended, an eye opener both from the quality of the visuals as well as the numerous moments of "Wha?!? I've never seen that!".

My best viewing moment so far has been the story of the male Emperor penguins in Antarctica keeping their single egg warm for 4 months of no food and perpetual darkness. This bit of instinctive heroism is also at the heart of the fairly decent animated movie Happy Feet. After having seen the real event on Planet Earth I'm now quit impressed at how the creators of the animated film were able to stay as close to reality as they did yet still entertain. A highly recommended viewing experience with the recommendation that you watch Happy Feet after you watch Planet Earth.

Here's my little slice of Planet Earth - an English Bay seagull in motion in hi def no less. :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday's Sunset ~|~ 8:40 PM PDT

The thin cirrus clouds last evening added a really nice impressionistic feel to the post-sunset twilight. While the rich reds and deep oranges make for some dramatic views there was something almost feminine about yesterday's sunset. Soft and delicate with just the right blush of pink

It was also a great day for a trip to Cypress Falls Park in West Vancouver. This is one of my favorite photo locations that's in close range to my apartment and includes numerous water falls sprinkled along Cypress Creek as it slices down the mountain. The park is a thick second growth stand of 100 year old fir trees that includes numerous trails and bridges that snake back and forth around the creek. The smells of the trees in spring and the sound of the rushing water is quite inspirational.

It's not a venue to rush through however. Yesterday, as I hurried through my mental itinerary that included each one of my five favorite water falls I wound up 110 digital shots richer but in a way poorer for the lack of compositional artistry. Start to finish it was a 2 hour hike with half that ascending the 200 meters to the highest falls and the other half rushing through the process of snapping pictures.

Next time (which will be soon) I'll target just one of the falls and spend the entire trip finding the perfect angle and the perfect shot. I'll also hit the park at high noon rather than 2:30 in the afternoon. The light was either too bright or too dark and, as testament to how hurried I felt, I completely forgot that I'd brought along several neutral density Corkin glass filters that would have helped with the demands of such challenging lighting.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wednesday's Sunset ~|~ 8:37 PDT

Today was a gorgeous day for this little slice of paradise known as British Columbia. Very much a 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' sort of day. Not too hot. Not too cold. Mmmmm, just right.

Last night's sunset was one thick with much gold but short on drama. I roamed along the Seawall looking for the perfect sunset shot for an hour between 7:40 pm and 8:40 pm but the lack of cloud felt like being a painter without half his palette of colors.

Tonight's sunset, 3 hours before it happens as of this post, is looking to be same. The wonderful high pressure weather system that is covering most of BC is delivering fantastic and nearly summer like days but the result is sunsets devoid of punch.

On the upside though, given that the days are going to be predictably perfect for a week ahead and that the winter snow melt is cresting as I type this I'm heading to Cypress Falls Park in West Van to gather some dreamy milky water waterfall shots tomorrow. This is a fantastic photo location that is my personal favorite in Vancouver. It is quite literally the backyard for some of the lucky residents of the western part of West Vancouver. This tucked away city park on the slope of Cypress Mountain includes 100 year old pines and fantastic micro and major water falls that is, in my opinion, the best of Vancouver's photographic and hiking jewels.

I'm quite looking forward to tomorrow's shoot.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tuesday's Sunset ~|~ 8:36 PM PDT

Yesterday was quite blustery with Environment Canada's Weather Office issuing wind warnings for the western edge of Vancouver Island for most of the day. The remnants of the island winds made it across the Straight of Georgia and created small white caps on English Bay.

This photo was taken several minutes after sunset and if you look very hard or expand the image by clicking on it you'll see a thin misty edge right at the horizon. This mist being the result of the chop created by the mild wind storm.

Spring Color Spectrum

Based on the leafiness of the trees along the Vancouver Seawall I would estimate that the blossoming phase of spring 2007 is 80% complete. A few of the more reluctant trees are just now budding but the vast majority are either finished sprouting their fresh virginal green or are nearly so.

We've even had our first grass mowing.

The weather for the next week or more looks to be glorious with warm sunshine and little cloud or rain. I think I'll gamble and start the 7 Day Sunset-Photo-O-Rama this afternoon. Last evening's sunset was quite pleasant and the weather today promises an even better display this evening.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Golden Wake

Super Weather

On May 15th the Eastern Pacific Hurricane season begins. Two weeks after that, on June 1st, the Atlantic season kicks into gear.

I don't know about you but one of the big things I took away from 9/11 was that ignorance was not bliss. No matter how deep I'd bury my head in the ground the reality of living in the 21st century and it's immediacy of information transmittal made the excuse of stupidity totally ineffective.

When Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed New Orleans two years ago the images and the feeling of living the 9/11 ignorance-is-not-bliss feeling again shook me to the core. ... Again ... Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice ... well ... shame on me again.

After 9/11 I learned much about Islam. I learned much that was good and much that I still consider bad. After Katrina I learned much about hurricanes and now each year, from the middle of May till early November I subscribe to the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic e-mail advisories from the National Hurricane Center, a subset of the wealth of weather information sharply presented by NOAA - the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

Hurricanes begin their life at the equator over Africa and head east across the Atlantic. Thanks to these two sites you can watch hurricanes pop into existence and then, like last year thankfully, head north into the middle of the Atlantic and spiral into obscurity. Or ....

If you consider yourself a weather geek and prefer having your head above the sand rather than in it these two sites and the e-mail newsletters are a great way to get real information weeks before CNN even considers it a news worthly footnote. A word of caution though - if a big one is in progress expect 5 to 10 e-mails a day.

This picture, while anything but a hurricane, I just love as a weather nut. It was taken last Thursday, May the 3rd of English Bay Vancouver looking north just after 6:00 PM. It's a slice of pacific weather in action as cool, moist air from northern British Columbia and Alaska rolled on top of the warm Californian winds that we'd been basking in for several days. Needless to say there was much rain to follow. The good news though was that I didn't have to punch anyone for saying how good a day it was if I was a duck. :)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Have You Hugged Your Cats Today?

Here's Owen and Alfie lounging on the couch circa October 1997. Two wonderful cats that during 13 wonderful years together disproved two of the more common cat stereotypes. First, contrary to popular belief male cats make wonderful feline companions. Second, while more expensive than regular domestic cats purebreds, in particular Bombay's like these two, are anything but maladjusted. Purebred dogs on the other hand .... shudder.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lost Lagoon Part One

I've begun the multi-year project of scanning my 20 years of 35mm photographs into the digital domain. I talked to Dad this morning and went even one step further. During this coming summer I'll snag his collection of slides that date back to the 60s and push the family digital photo archive back years before Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

It should make for an interesting project.

Shown here is step one - day one of the mother of all scanning projects. This is the first of many photos from a magic roll of Kodak Infra Red Hi Res (25 ASA) film exposed at Lost Lagoon and along the Seawall one sunny afternoon during August of 1997. Nearly 10 years ago. The images were scanned at maximum resolution (21 mega-pixels) using a Nikon CoolScan V ED 4000 DPI scanner.

I've just started learning the numerous things you can do with this rather awesome device and found that using several of the digital enhancements the scanner is capable of, in particular the GEM grain reduction tool, has produced some pretty spectacular scans.

One major thing that I've learned is that to scan a 35mm image correctly you should plan on spending a good amount of time with the image. 10 to 30 minutes per image is often necessary to perform the adjustments needed to create a perfect scan. As such the idea of blindly scanning each and every 35mm photo I've taken since 1980 has quickly faded from my plan. I'll focus on the 4 and 5 out 5 photos first and worry about the rest later.