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June 03, 2013

Paris, la Cité D’Amour

Take52 Challenge – Week 15

Pre-amble…I may be behind on my posting; however, all photographs were taken during the week they were challenged.  My home computer has bit the dust and finding time to use (borrow) other computers has been difficult, and then there was a vacation, and then there was the start of the new school term.  I’m now hoping that I will be able to post on a regular basis…

This is it…it’s gonna happen.  At the end of this week, I’ll be off to another dream vacation.  Jeremy and I will be starting our three week vacation; Paris, road-trip through Spain, and southern France.  To get me through the last week of classes, I’ve been doing nothing but dreaming of our upcoming trip.

Every trip to Paris must include a visit to les Jardins de Tuileries.  Some how the bustling park seems to be quiet too.  We pull up a pair of green metal lounge chairs, sit back and relax.  A nice little picnic with some cheeses, breads, and pastries.  The beautiful flowers in bloom with a view of the palace behind.  This is where dreams do come true; Paris, la Cité ’Amour.  Or so I thought.  It seems that he had other plans.  My dream was not to come true in the Jardins de Tuileries; but, instead on l'Île de la Cité.  It is there that after 13 years of being together, that I said “Yes.”

Below is "our" spot in the Jardins de Tuileries.  It's here that we pull up the green chairs to sit, to relax, and to enjoy each other's company.  I've slightly edited the photograph to intensify the colours as I remember them on the trip.  Again, dark clouds; but just enough sun to make the flowers pop.

Aperture Priority; ISO 200; Shutter 1/320; Aperture f9; Focal Length 35mm; ev 0; WB – Auto

Hearts were a flutter.  Love was in the air (or on the ground).  While exploring Montmartre if you were able to find gratified hearts all around on the old paved stones.  Not that we often look down, but this time is was worth it.

Manual; ISO 200; Shutter 1/60; Aperture f5.3; Focal Length 66mm; ev 0; WB – Custom

As always I welcome thoughtful critiques.

Patterns, Patterns, Everywhere

Take52 Challenge – Week 14

Pre-amble…I may be behind on my posting; however, all photographs were taken during the week they were challenged.  My home computer has bit the dust and finding time to use (borrow) other computers has been difficult, and then there was a vacation, and then there was the start of the new school term.  I’m now hoping that I will be able to post on a regular basis….

I love when family is in town.  You tend to get out more and explore, going places you normally wouldn’t take the time to visit.  While my cousin’s daughter was still in town we took the time to go to Chinatown.  (Okay, it is somewhere I would go normally; I did take my photos there for the “Red” Challenge). 

While walking throughout Chinatown, I came across an unusual pattern.  Or a not necessarily an unusual pattern, but a pattern we normally wouldn’t consider.  A Foo-Dog. 

Aperture Priority; ISO 640; Shutter 1/1250; Aperture f5.6; Focal Length 35mm; ev 0; WB – Shade

And why not include another pattern?  Skiers and boarders are covered head to toe in patterns; the louder the better.  I wasn’t interested in these patterns; I thought I’d look down.  While looking down, I came across some patterns that typically go ignored. 

Aperture Priority; ISO 200; Shutter 1/40; Aperture f7.1; Focal Length 80mm; ev 0; WB – Shade

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

Ooey, Gooey, Goodness

Take52 Challenge – Week 13

Pre-amble…I may be behind on my posting; however, all photographs were taken during the week they were challenged.  My home computer has bit the dust and finding time to use (borrow) other computers has been difficult, and then there was a vacation, and then there was the start of the new school term.  I’m now hoping that I will be able to post on a regular basis….

Sticky, that’s easy.  No challenge here.  Look for a yummy food item that you eat with your hands.  Of course this food item must be sticky.

As a short mini get-away to Whistler was in order; no, not just for this photo challenge.  My cousin’s daughter was in town for a visit from Michigan, her first visit to Vancouver on her own.  Throughout all of her trips to Vancouver she has never been to Whistler.  So we were off.  I have a number of quintessential places I like to eat while there.  One of which being Beaver Tails.  If you have never heard of Beaver Tails, it is another version of a Whale’s Tail.  It is fried dough with a heap of messy toppings.  Well you could have it plain with sugar and cinnamon; however, the more you pile on the yummier it is.  At least in my mind.

After a Peak to Peak trip up to the top of of Whistler mountain and a to Blackcomb mountain, we decided it was necessary to stop for an afternoon snack at Beaver Tails.  While we could’ve gone to the one located in the Village, we wanted to enjoy the sunshine in the Spring-like snow conditions on the mountain.  Although my cousin’s daughter went for the not-so-sticky option, I loaded myself up with the ooey gooey goodness.  The Triple Trip; a Nutella base with peanut butter drizzle and Reese’s Pieces.  Yummy, Ooey, Gooey, Goodness.  My mouth is watering with the thought.

Manual Priority; ISO 1000; Shutter 1/800; Aperture f16; Focal Length 48mm; ev 0; WB – Shade

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

Motion a Buzz Downtown

Take52 Challenge – Week 12

Pre-amble…I may be behind on my posting; however, all photographs were taken during the week they were challenged.  My home computer has bit the dust and finding time to use (borrow) other computers has been difficult, and then there was a vacation, and then there was the start of the new school term.  I’m now hoping that I will be able to post on a regular basis….

Thinking about motion I was indecisive.  I couldn't decide how I wanted to capture it.  I was downtown Vancouver for a staff retreat and knew there would be a constant buzz of motion.  Thankfully it was a sunny afternoon.  I took off during our lunch break and headed down to the water.  These photographs represent only a small portion of the buzzing motion during a sunny afternoon lunch hour.

I love the first as I feel that it captures the quint essential feeling of the City Wharf in Coal Harbour about a century ago. It is  a half scaled freight shed and is meant to represent the industrial activity at the time.  Paired with the flying seagull and the contrast between the dark storm clouds mixed with the highlights of the direct sun, is speaks to me.  

Aperture Priority; ISO 250; Shutter 1/2500; Aperture f4.8; Focal Length 55mm; ev 0; WB – Sunlight

This next one is a simple water feature that I happened to be walking past on my way back to meet my colleagues after lunch.  I'm drawn to the warmth provided by sun kissing the water through the tall buildings downtown.

Shutture Priority; ISO 200; Shutter 1/30; Aperture f5.6; Focal Length 80mm; ev 0; WB – Shade

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

Nothing More Simple than Simple Machines

Take52 Challenge – Week 11

Pre-amble…I may be behind on my posting; however, all photographs were taken during the week they were challenged.  My home computer has bit the dust and finding time to use (borrow) other computers has been difficult, and then there was a vacation, and then there was the start of the new school term.  I’m now hoping that I will be able to post on a regular basis….

As a science teacher, more specifically as a teacher that was preparing to teach Science & Tech 11 in a few weeks, I was deep into my Simple Machines.

I love things that are simple, I love simple décor, I love simple days spent at home, I love the simplicity of a photograph.  I may love simple things, I do not love Simple Machines; but, I do love their simplicity.  I also love that when multiple simple machines are put together they are able to form a complex machine.

And it is these simple machines that I drew on for my inspiration for this week’s challenge.

Nothing like a plane and a screw.

Aperture Priority; ISO 400; Shutter 1/3200; Aperture f5.0; Focal Length 60mm; ev 0; WB – Sunlight

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

March 10, 2013

This Little Piggy Went To the Market – Adorable Toes

Take52 Challenge – Week 10

It was meant to be.  To continue building on my photography skills and to continue building my idea bank I had been studying other photographs of feet.  Knowing there would soon be a new arrival to our family, I had been studying photographs of baby feet. There’s something about those fleshly wrinkled feet.  Through days of studying photographs I had seen so many tiny toes that there were absolutely adorable.  But none seemed to be of newborns.

Only hours after the challenge was assigned for the week, the newest member of our family was born, a gorgeous baby girl.  It was one of the longest days of work.  I wanted to up and leave as soon as I heard the news.  It was tough; I had been there at the time of M's and K's births, Baby M’s two brothers. 

After sitting through the day of work, I was finally able to make my way to the city I grew up in.  After nearly an hour of driving to the hospital I was able to see Baby M.  Upon arrival there were others in the room, all ooing and ahhing over this cute little thing.  Thankfully, they did not stay long.  Then it was time for me to have Baby M in my arms, I held her pretty well the whole two hours I was there.  I’m sure many of you know there is nothing like the warmth of the sweet body against yours.  The tiny little hands wrapped around your finger, the chubby little legs wanting to be eaten.  Every little part of their body is so precious.

If you read between the lines, I refused to give Baby M up.  It was only when she began fussing for her snack that I gave her back to T, her mommy.  It was during this time that I snapped a few photographs.  After all her mom’s friends had bundled her up, putting her in a bunting bag, and putting mitts on her feet, yes, that’s right…mittens on her feet, that I unbundled her to take a photo of her “Little Piggies.”

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/60; Aperture f4.5; Focal Length 40mm; ev 0; WB – Auto

I am not one hundred percent in love with the composition of this photograph.  However, I did not want to disturb her while feeding, then immediately sleeping.  There will be time for more photos.  I do love the colour though, it's a great representation of how pinkish/blue her little feet actually were.

And of course, I couldn’t post a photograph of Baby M’s feet without sharing a couple of photographs of her precious face.  She is a sweet little girl in pink.  I can only imagine with being the "little sister" to two "big brothers" that she will be spoiled, dressed up like a doll, and given anything she wants.  I can see that she already has so many of us wrapped around her little toes.  Mind you, I'd pretty well drop anything I was doing for her brothers M & K too.  And of course, that she will be well "protected" by her brothers.

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/80; Aperture f4.5; Focal Length 52mm; ev 0; WB – Warm-White Fluorescent

After hearing, or recognizing already, the sound of the camera's shutter, Baby M woke up just enough to flash a smile.  Or perhaps she's laughing at all of us, wondering why there are so many photographs being taken of her.  And she finds our actions amusing to her.

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/100; Aperture f4.5; Focal Length 52mm; ev 0; WB – Warm-White Fluorescent; Black & White was done with editing

Today was more about preserving the moment of time.  Creating a memory.  There will be many more opportunities for me to take the time for the perfect pose.  Although, I think that she looks pretty perfect.  I still have many ideas roaming around in my head.  I can’t wait until the next time, I have a chance to see her again.  It’s hard to live so far away.

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

March 08, 2013

Sprouts – Time for a Little Colour

Take52 Challenge – Week 9

This was a challenge for me in many ways.  How do you interpret “sprouts”?  Well…I’m not a fan of sprouts; whether they are brussel sprouts or sprouted greens, bean sprouts are okay but are not in our refrigerator on a regular basis.  They certainly were not there this week.  I could go to the store to buy some sprouts to photography; but lets be honest, I wouldn’t be eating them after so it would be a waste of money and food.  So, it was to the outdoors to find something sprouting.  I can’t find anything sprouting in my house, since my cats both eat any plants and flowers that are brought in.

Keep in mind I live in Vancouver; this time of year we have liquid sunshine and long hours of darkness brought on by the grey clouds.  Well, I don’t think that we have much light, that’s only because my workdays bring me home after the little light we’ve had is gone for the day.

On my day off I ventured outside into my front yard in the rain.  I made sure to wear my raincoat, but didn’t bother to put one on my camera.  You see I wasn’t going to be outside that long.  Just long enough to where I didn’t want to get damp, since I knew I’d then be cold the rest of the day.

Not many plants are sprouting in my gardens.  Most are perennials that are simply green leaves.  I do have my one favorite plant though.  And this is the best time of year for it.  This plant brings life back to the garden.  It brings just a splash of colour, not too much.  But, this plant always manages to bring a smile to my face.  (At the same time a sense responsibility and a sense of need to tend to the weeds that have taken over during the dreary winter months).

Even though I love that fact that this plant brings life back to my gardens, I think I love the fact that when it starts to “sprout” and buds begin to appear it symbolizes the nearing of the end of our wet winters.  It lets me know that somewhere just around the corner spring will appear, bringing an always much anticipated time away from school.  Providing me a little rejuvenation.

This plant is my Lenten Rose.  My mother had one outside of her kitchen window and I’d always loved it.  There was something unique about it, it always stood out from the rest of the plants.  I loved this plant so much, that when I moved out of the house and started planting a garden of my own, it was the first plant I placed in my cart while shopping at the garden centre.  I know if I ever move, that I will be planting another Lenten Rose.

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/400; Aperture f5.6; Focal Length 75mm; ev 0; WB - Cloudy

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

March 06, 2013

Mirrors – Looking Past Our Reflections into the Futures

Take52 Challenge – Week 8

Mirrors are magical objects.  They allow the individual standing in front of them to look upon the past, the present, and the future.  Seeing our reflections staring back at us, we can’t help but think of where we have come from to get us to where we are today.  We cannot help but think about where we will be days, weeks, months, years down the road.  As we age and as we mature, our styles and appearances change.  Some are changes we’ve set in motion; some are changes that were placed upon us without our input.

But nonetheless, it is the mirrors and the reflections within that allow us to recognize and to be who we are.  The mirrored reflection does not know how to lie.

This mirror that I have found has allowed me to reflect upon my school and myself…

This moment in time has been in the works for many years, on many levels. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a warm, welcoming, caring, and positive environment. 

On February 21st the school that I teach at celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary.  The POWER Program is an alternate school offering students aged 16-19 years an opportunity to complete their education in a setting that is vastly different from the “traditional” schools.

The celebration provided former students and staff to gather and reminisce about the past.  It also provided current staff and students the opportunity to look past who we are and into the reflections of the future.

When the program was first developed there was a large open area with stark white walls, some tables, and some chairs.  There were no “real” desks for teachers to sit and to use, there was not even an office.  Overtime the space began to fill with students and with desks; but most importantly with life.  The POWER Program had turned from a semi-school setting to the community that it is today.  All staff and students hold a mutual respect for our environment and for each other.  We share our lives as if we were all family.  We are a family!  It is only possible for us to continue to build on the great successes we’ve had.

Shutter Priority; ISO 1600; Shutter 1/30; Aperture f4.2; Focal Length 45mm; ev 0; WB - Custom

Shutter Priority; ISO 1600; Shutter 1/30; Aperture f4.2; Focal Length 42mm; ev +0.3; WB - Custom; B&W was done during editing

It was this night, this celebration, thinking about reflections that I had the opportunity to look at how far I’ve come in the past 5 years of my career, and where I came from even before that.  Looking past the night’s reflection and where I am today, I can only hope that I am provided the chance to continue teaching at the POWER Program.

It was an amazing event that could not have been possible without EVERYONE that has ever been, that is, and that will be a part of the POWER Program!  Here’s to another 20 years!

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

February 22, 2013

Celebrating Red

Take52 Challenge – Week 7

Throughout the week surely ever where you looked you saw RED.  How couldn’t you, it was Valentine’s.  I’m not a strong believer in celebrating Valentine’s, in my mind it’s about spending more money to show someone you love them.  Hopefully you do not need to show the amount of love you have for someone by spending large sums of money.  And hopefully you are not showing them you love them only on one day of the year.  But I digress.

This week my family celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year.  We actually celebrate it every year, no we are not Chinese, but it was a tradition that started a few years back to celebrate the year of the Ox.  At least I think that’s when we started it.  At any rate, we have continued celebrating the Chinese New Year each year to celebrate the family member(s) whose year it is.  This year being the year of the snake we were celebrating LD, and C’s dad.

In my family I’m known for my baking and desserts.  Needless to say I was put in charge of the desserts for our dinner.  There were some traditional Almond Cookies, some Peanut Candies, some Coconut Balls, and of course Fortune Cookies.  Granted, I had the best intensions in the world to make the almond cookies from scratch, but I didn’t.  So I did the next best thing; I made my way down to Chinatown to shop for some goodies and take some photographs.  I was hoping that it would’ve been a more festive atmosphere, it actually being February 10th, the start of the New Year, but it wasn’t.  All the festivities were taking place the following weekend.

Nonetheless, it was a gorgeous day for a walk in the sun.  And it’s always fun to take a look in all the little shops along the way.  In each of the shops I went to, I was greeted with “Gung Hay Fat Choy.”  And if I purchased something from the store, I was given a red New Year’s envelope. 

The first envelope I opened when I returned home contained a Fortune Cookie.  And this is where I drew my inspiration from for this week’s challenge.  I told the envelope that and placed my freshly broken fortune cookie next to it.  I purposefully left the fortune where you were unable to read it.  I believe that it might not be so lucky then.  And it was a great fortune.  One of the best I’ve ever received.

Aperture Priority; ISO 1600; Shutter 1/60; Aperture f4.2; Focal Length 48mm; ev +0.7; WB - Custom

As I mentioned throughout my walk in Chinatown there was red surrounding me everywhere I turned.  The red of the lampposts contrasted with the crisp blue skies caught my eye all afternoon.  I simply had to take a photograph of it.  Once again the ISO escaped me while I was out walking.  It’s something I’m committing to focus on with each photograph I take.  I’m loving the contrast that I was able to get with the high ISO, and the fact that there is little to no noise that appears (at least that I notice, or is that don’t notice?).

Shutter Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/3200; Aperture f22; Focal Length 35mm; ev -2.0; WB – Daylight

It was a great long weekend, with celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year and our first ever Family Day here in BC.  It provided my family a chance to get together to celebrate the New Year on the New Year, unlike other years when we’ve had to postpone celebrations waiting for a weekend.

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

February 20, 2013

A Little Unconventional

Take52 Challenge – Week 6

From my experience, just last weekend, I can let you know that those “brilliant” ideas for photographs that appear in the wee-hours of the morning, when you’ve spent the night with friends aren’t always the best.  The photographs will most certainly wind up “unconventional” but not really what you’re looking for.

Last fall, I discovered an unconventional berry, or what I assumed was a berry on some dead bushes.  Nothing to special, but they caught my attention.  While on a walk along the river this weekend, I discovered these “berries” again.  Why would a berry be unconventional?  Well, I’m used to seeing round red berries, blue berries, among others.  However, I have never seen popcorn on bushes.  That’s right popcorn. 

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/4000; Aperture f5.6; Focal Length 35mm; ev -1.0; WB - Daylight

Not only did I have the opportunity to photograph a little unconventional berry, or maybe it was unconventional popcorn.  I also had the opportunity to take a little unconventional photograph of a couple portrait.  It was a great walk along the river spent with Jeremy, in the gorgeous sunshine.  It was so sunny, unusual for Vancouver this time of year, that we were wearing our sunglasses.  If you knew me, you’d know I’m “obsessed” with looking at myself.  I don’t go out of my way to do it, but there just something about catching a glimpse of myself that I just can’t stop.  This inspired me to take a photograph of my reflection in Jeremy’s sunglasses. 

It turns out that although I like being able to look at myself, I like being able to see Jeremy’s smile.  I can read his facial expressions so well, that behind those glasses I can see it resonating through. 

I couldn’t choose which photograph of us I liked more, so they are both included.  The first one I like the balance in the contrast, and being able to see Jeremy’s skin tone.  Yet, you can’t make out the details in the reflections.  The second one, I like the stark contrast, how Jeremy is washed-out and you can see the details of me in the reflection.

Manual Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/4000; Aperture f14; Focal Length 80mm; ev -3.0; WB - Daylight

Manual Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/1250; Aperture f5.6; Focal Length 80mm; ev -3.0; WB - Daylight

Should mention…that is was so bright out that I was not able to see what was appearing on my LCD screen.  And didn’t realize that I had completely neglected to adjust my ISO for the bright sun.  Again, the ISO shuts me down.

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

February 04, 2013

Time to Smile

Take52 Challenge – Week 5

After a week of chaos, I was looking forward to claiming this weekend for myself.  I left all of my marking and prepping for school at school!  This is a rare occurrence for me.  But it was time to find some balance.  It was time to do something that brings a “smile” to my face. 

After an early night to bed on Friday, it was up early on Saturday.  I was to spend the morning with a friend snowshoeing.  I was uncertain as I left the house and drove through the dense fog to pick her up.  The fog was so thick that I could barely see more than a car’s length ahead of me.  As I drove up the hill the fog began to break.  And it became clear that it was going to be a gorgeous day with beautiful scenery on the mountain.

Less than 30 minutes later we were parked and making the long trek up the hill (road) to the trailhead.  You have to understand the mountain was so busy that the actual parking lots were full, and we had to park approximately 1 km down the hill from the trailhead.  I was going to be about done, before we even started.

Once my feet hit the snow and the snowshoes were put on, I was in a whole other world.  I was in a place of pure happiness and relaxation.  It’s this that brought the “smile” to my face.  It was time to take back my time and claim it to myself.

After some trekking, and a little break to find a geocache, something else I haven’t had the opportunity to do in a while, we reached the summit.  Amazing views of the mountains and views of endless fog blanketing the city surrounded us. 

Aperture Priority; ISO 250; Shutter 1/4000; Aperture f13; Focal Length 35mm; ev -3.0; WB - Daylight

Aperture Priority; ISO 250; Shutter 1/1600; Aperture f13; Focal Length 55mm; ev -2.0; WB - Daylight

Aperture Priority; ISO 250; Shutter 1/320; Aperture f13; Focal Length 35mm; ev -2.0; WB - Daylight

I couldn’t have smiled more that day.  A day claimed to doing something I love, a day spent with a friend catching up, and a day outdoors in the gorgeous sunshine.  Nothing but smiles!

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

February 03, 2013

Celebrating the “Chill”

Take52 Challenge – Week 4

This post is only coming a week late! The photograph was taken within the actual assigned week.  The past couple of weeks have been chaotic and stressful to say the least.  Last week was preparing for provincial exams, and this week was invigilating the exams and a full day of staff meetings.  This was the first time that I had nightmares about writing provincial exams.  My students’ stress and worries were getting to me so much, that I had sympathy nightmares to share the experience with them.  Once again, by the time my nights at school were over, I had no energy to put into posting on my blog.  Something I’ll need to work on.

The mention of “chill” instantly brought me to chills.  Not out of fear, but now realizing that the exam prep and nightmares sent chills throughout my body, that I could’ve used that as a jumping point.  It brought me to chills because I was already there.  My house was chilly, and I was freezing cold.

Okay, I live in Vancouver, BC, and compared to many of you with your well below freezing temps with wind-chill to boot, I’m in warm weather.  But to us Vancouverites it’s been chilly.  The cold dampness is hard to rid yourself of.  Especially when you live in a house as old as mine.  After standing strong for 50+ years this house has lost much of its insulation and can be quite drafty.  Below our main floor we have a dirt basement, with no insulation remaining what-so-ever.  This time of year you always want to have socks or slippers on, otherwise you might as well be walking around outside with bare feet.  All of our windows are single-paned, are no longer sealed properly, and are drafty.  For a number of years now, we’ve installed the plastic draft barriers on our windows.  This helps quite a bit.  Although our cats like to rip the sealed windows and we have to repair them on a monthly basis. 

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my house (on most days), and I love where I live!  This time of year it’s just a bit cold.

So…this is where I received my idea for this week’s photo challenge.  Quite often you’ll find our boyz sleeping in their bed that’s placed right beside one of our space heaters.  We started putting their bed in front, since it seems to keep Sam from sleeping right up against it.  Jeremy and I often say that Sam is “sunbathing”.

This is Sam annoyed with me that I am interrupting his restful catnap while trying to keep warm.

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/200; Aperture f4.5; Focal Length 42mm; ev 0; WB Auto; Flash Fill

There was one other idea I had.  Something simple, something reminiscent from my childhood.  I don’t know why but somehow this week I started singing the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air staring Will Smith. 

Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys, they were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
And said “you’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air
- "The Fresh Prince" by Will Smith as The Fresh Prince

It took some timing, trying to get in front of the television when the show was actually on.  But I got it, since I don’t have the ability to pause my television the frames were flashing by quickly.  This is the one that appeared the sharpest.

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/40; Aperture f14; Focal Length 35mm; ev 0; WB Auto

Here’s to “chilling.”

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

January 20, 2013

And The 8 O’clock Alarm Rings

Take52 Challenge – Week 3

“8 O’clock.”  It doesn’t leave much room for interpretation; but does give you an opportunity to think about 14 different options, or less, if your 8 O’clocks repeat in any way.

I briefly considered taking my photograph at 20:00.  On Monday it would’ve been a photograph of my runners, a sweat towel, and a water bottle.  It would’ve been an accurate description of my Monday nights spinning.  Throughout the rest of the week, by 8pm I can be found on the couch with the television on.  Depending on the night, I might also be preparing my lessons for the next day’s classes.  Truthfully with this being the first week of second term I was pretty well burnt out by the time I made it home at the end of the day.  I had no motivation to photograph in the evening.

You can typically find me doing one of two things at 08:00.  If it’s one of my four teaching days, I’ll be standing in Starbucks waiting for my Grande – Triple-Shot – Half-Sweet – Non-Fat – No-Whip – No-Foam – Mocha.  Otherwise I’m tucked into bed, hopefully sleeping soundly.  It was clear that I wouldn’t be capable of taking a photograph while I was sleeping, so a photograph at Starbucks it will be.

This idea was still “fresh” in my mind from last week’s assignment.  It was one of my many ideas to shoot photographs of the coffee plant at Starbucks.  I simply never got around to asking the Baristas for permission, and never brought my camera along with me.  This week was different.  On Friday morning I brought my camera with me inside to grab my coffee.  After Bill, a barista, took my personal cup I asked if it would be alright to photograph the coffee plant that was sitting at the end of the counter.  Bill had no problem with it.  After being served my coffee by Judy, I also asked her, since there was a chance she may walk into the background.  Judy didn’t have a problem with it either.

I made my way through the crowd of caffeine addicts to get to the end of the bar.  I moved the coffee plant from its original position, over to the left about 1 foot.  Placed my freshly brewed mocha slightly in front of the plant.  Then I started shooting.  I remembered to change my ISO, something I usually forget.  Then the aperture, I knew I wanted the focus to be on the plant itself.

I wanted to attempt to capture the calm before the storm.  With coffee in hand the warmth comes over me and I'm able to take my last deep breathes before the day truly begins.  I know once I arrive at school I'll be going until I'm in my car driving back home.  I love my morning ritual of my Starbucks.  It sets the tone for my day.  I know without the caffeine I'll feel lost.

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/40; Aperture f4.5 ; Focal Length 35mm; ev 0; WB Temperature - 10000 K

This was my original composition for the photograph.  My blinders were on and I didn't notice the negative space.  I think I was also lacking the creativity in the morning.  Looking at it now, I think the composition would improve if the plant's and the tumbler's positions were switched.

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/50; Aperture f4.5; Focal Length 35mm; ev 0; WB Auto

Here I wanted to try something a little different with the cropping.  Trying to minimize the negative space I didn't even realize was there.  And I'm prone to Black & White.  I love the deeper contrast. 

Aperture Priority; ISO 3200; Shutter 1/40; Aperture f4.5; Focal Length 35mm; ev 0; WB Fluorescent - Sodium Vapour Lamps

I’m not as happy with my composition this week.  Looking at the photographs on the computer I’ve now noticed a large negative space on the left.  I don’t know how I missed it while I was shooting.  I was probably subconsciously thinking about getting to school, and to try to avoid annoying any other customers that were in need of their caffeine fix.  All in all, maybe a little rushed.  

As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.

January 16, 2013

An Adventure of a Life Time

Cycling Throughout SouthEast Asia!

As I write my brother, Houston, and his fiancée, Johnny, are flying high in the skies!  They’re embarking on a trip of a lifetime.  Leaving their home in Vancouver, BC they will land in Singapore, open up the boxes containing their bicycles, assemble their bicycles, and start peddling.  So long as their money last, they will not be returning home for another eleven months!  Houston and Johnny will spend the next eleven months cycling throughout SouthEast Asia.  “On [their] loaded touring bikes [they’ll] be cycling throughout Asia past cities, beaches, jungles, deserts, and the highest mountain in the world..”  (  Their journey will begin in Singapore and finish in India.  If they hold true to their plans the two of them will each put over 15, 000 kilometers on their bikes travelling through nine countries.  I don’t know about you; but to me that is a concept I cannot comprehend.

It’s important for you to know, that when I say eleven months and that they will finish in India, that’s simply the current plan.  On Houston’s first cycling tour he had only intended on being gone half a year.  This was when he was cycling from the Southern-most tip in South America to the Northern-most point in South America.  Once reaching his initial “final destination” he had come to the conclusion that this ending would just be anti-climatic.  Instead he flew to the “0km” marker in Eastern Canada in St. John’s, Newfoundland to ride his way past home to the “0km” marker in Western Canada in Victoria, BC.  His finial “final destination” was now going to be Victoria, BC adding on another few months to the initial half a year.  So, you can see that with Houston plans do change. 

This trip will be a hard trip for me to sit through.  My brother is four years younger than I am, but over the past couple of decades we’ve come quite close.  Even though we don’t always agree or see eye-to-eye, we both respect each other and the lives we lead.  After I graduated from highschool, I was the one that would pick Houston up every day (or as often as I could) so he wouldn’t have to walk the long route home.  For a period of time, again when Houston was still in highschool, he and I would go out to dinner just the two of us once a week.  Houston is the one that first got me on a snowboard and taught me how to board.  Now with Johnny all the active things we used to do are done with the three of us.  We go snowshoeing, snowboarding, geocaching and every once and a while we just hang out.  Not to mention I’m still a chauffeur.  Since they don’t own a car, I’m the one that drives them out to our mom’s for family dinners.

Johnny, Houston, and I on New Years day this year.  Snowshoeing around Lost Lake in Whistler, BC.

I’m jealous and envious of them and their abilities to quit their jobs and simply travel.  Jealous of the fact that they both have jobs that they can quit and return to with very little difficulty.  Being a teacher, that’s not the case for me.  I’m envious of the destinations that they will be able to experience.  Many of the countries they will tour through are ones that I would like to make my way to in the upcoming years.  I’ve only been to a couple of them, Thailand and Vietnam, and that was over 12 years ago!  I’m envious of they way they live their lives in such a care free way.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t live a strict regimented live myself.  And I LOVE everything in my life!  But, I’m at a different point in my life with my career going in the direction I want it to.  And my family couldn’t be any better; I love my life with Jeremy (my boyfriend, partner, other-half, common-law husband, husband, what ever you want to call it) and our two boyz (cats), Sam and Gimli.  There’s not one thing I’d change about our life.  We get to travel every year 3-4 weeks at a time.

It’s just that it’s human nature to want what you don’t have.

I was so excited for their trip that I decided that Houston and Johnny needed a special gift.  I had customized t-shirts and hats made for both of them.  Hoping that they wear them throughout their trip, of course not when they’re peddling away, since it’s not technical gear.  I also thought that it migh be a way for them to spread the word about their blog.

Johnny and Houston sporting their new threads.

Johnny showing off his new HoJoBiking hat with Houston looking on.

The excitement grows, as I know Houston and Johnny only have another 60 minutes in the air before they land at 5:30 am in Singapore.  Over the next eleven months I will be following their adventures and watching their love for one and other grow as I read their blog, HoJo Biking: Bicycle Touring SouthEast Asia, and follow their tweets @HoustonMarsh and @hojobiking. 

If you, yourselves, have any interest in living vicariously through two adventurous people I suggest you follow along too.  And if you’re interested in the cycling tours, check out Houston’s blog from his trip across South America and Canada at Vagabonding around South America & Canada.  Houston will also be posting their current trip there.

Houston & Johnny, I wish you both all the best!  And can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures.  Johnny you better make sure that you both email us on a regular basis back home.   Love you both!!

January 14, 2013

Something a Little Fresh

Take52 Challenge – Week 2

This week was a challenge for me.  Almost immediately I my idea; I was going to photograph of Fresh Water.  Thinking rivers and lakes since I teach all about their properties in Earth Science, this idea was fresh in my mind.  Unfortunately someone beat me to the punch and shot photos of water. 

Then to the fish stalls on Granville Island.  Had all the intensions in the world to head there on my day off during the week.  Well, apparently I wanted to be lazy and never made it out of the house that day.

Onto the next idea; a freshly brewed cup of coffee, my morning ritual.  Only I was going to add a twist of including an actual coffee plant and freshly ground espresso beans.  I’ve been keeping my eyes open for coffee plants in the local garden stores for months now, only I still haven’t been able to find one.  I look at a coffee plant every morning before work, as I await my Grande – Triple Shot – ½ Sweet – Non-Fat – No-Whip – No-Foam – Mocha at Starbucks.  I thought about asking if I could borrow their plant but never got around to it.

Fourth idea; freshly cut oranges slightly squeezed so it would look extra juicy.  Only by the time I got around to photographing the oranges were all gone.  And by this point there were photos of lemons, limes, and oranges that had been posted.

Lost count yet?  Fresh baking, I was going to bake my favorite oatmeal muffins and have a nice perfectly square piece of butter melting on it.  Then I thought to myself, "then I'd have to eat them."  And this wouldn't fit into my attempts at getting back into healthier eating after a couple of weeks of over indulgence.  Ah well...maybe in a months time for a special treat.  (My muffins are extra fattening with the amount of butter I use).

I was stuck; I knew I’d find something eventually that I wanted to attempt to photograph.  Ah… “fresh” threads?  The new t-shirt and hat I had designed and made for my brother’s upcoming cycling trip.  Although, the term “fresh threads” didn’t quite have the right ring.  Maybe “new threads”; but not fresh threads.

In the back of my mind I had the idea of a “fresh perspective” and was going to take a photograph from a new perspective.  A perspective you normally wouldn’t encounter.

But that’s okay…Sunday night I saw it…it was calling to me.  A pomegranate.  It’s a fruit and fruit are fresh.  And there it was!  I knew I wanted it to have a strong contrast to bring out the red, so after being cut and half of it seeded it went on display on a white plate.  And a white backdrop was added too; okay it was a piece of paper that I had taped onto the backsplash of the kitchen counter. *I couldn’t get any of the preset White Balances to bring out the correct colors, so I used a gray card to create a Custom White Balance.  Due to the slower shutter speed I had to use a tripod too.

Aperture Priority; ISO 400; Shutter 1/2; Aperture f5.6; Focal Length 80mm; ev 0; WB Custom*

I’m quite happy with the results.  As always I welcome any thoughtful critiques.