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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.