Sunday, December 27, 2009

Banff Over-nighter

I went to Banff on Saturday (boxing day) for an overnight stay at the Douglas Fir resort with Clare and Conor. It was a last minute idea and although I was a bit tentative about going I'm glad that I was able do it. We packed our tobaggons, skates, warm winter clothing and our swimsuits because the hotel has a water slide and a swimming pool. Of course I brought my camera with me.

Last year - after hiking around Grotto Canyon we'd gone into Banff for dinner and I remember stopping at Vermillion lakes to see if there was any photo opportunities and I saw a bunch of people skating on the lake.  The memory stuck and I had this vision that we would go out there and skate on Vermillion lakes. A couple of summers ago we kayaked on the lakes and I was excited to see it in the winter on skates.

No skating here !.. keep trying.

We left Calgary just after 11 o'clock.  I drove the new ring road from our place round to the TransCanada on the other side of the city. It took about 25 minutes to get from here to there. Normally I'd go McKnight to John Laurie and down Stoney to the TransCanada which could take anywhere from 45min to an hour. I think the ring road will work out well for scooting around the city. There are still some traffic lights on the NorthWest side though, and I hit all the red lights. Another thing to consider is that there isn`t anywhere to stop and get coffee when going this way. I'll have to remember to get coffee before leaving the NorthEast.

An hour into the drive we were almost at Lac-Des-Arcs which I thought was pretty good. We do a bit of hiking there at Heart Creek, and to get there in an hour will be cool. As I approached Canmore it was close to lunch time and I was thinking that if we stopped to eat we could be at Vermillion lakes by two, a couple of hours of skating, some nice sunset pics of Mt Rundle before checking in to the hotel by four. Sunset at this time of year is around 4:30pm, but I figured that any light would be gone earlier because of the mountains.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Portraits.

Melanie and her boys were going to over to do some Christmas baking and I was asked if I could take some pictures of her kids. Jodie heard that I was taking pics and asked if she could come over and bring her kids too.

I have a large backdrop - it's a 10x20' sheet of heavy white cotton - that came with some stands and a cross bar. I set it up in the basement after clearing out an area to give some room. Because it had been folded up into a small bundle it has some pretty serious wrinkles and creases in it. I tried to iron it, but my ironing board isn't 10' long. It was very frustrating. I did about 1/3rd of the length before giving up, the part that was ironed would be hanging from the stand, and most of the larger creases were gone, so it didn't look too bad. I read on the internet that some people use hand held steamers to de-crease their backdrops. I my look into it that to see if it's something that I'd like to try.

Nathaniel jumping around.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

PSA Hockey Tournament Championship game.

The championship game was played on Sunday afternoon. Again I was able to shoot from the players bench which was a pretty good vantage point. Sometimes when shooting the net at the far end players at the blue line would drift in front of the action blocking my view but there wasn't much I could do about that.

For some reason, I got colder at this game than I was at the first one. By the third period I was shivering quite a bit. Perhaps I should have worn my toque to keep the heat in.

Players get ready to take to the ice

Saturday, December 19, 2009

PSA Hockey

Tonight I went to the Sportsplex to shoot my nephew Matthew`s hockey game. He was playing in a tournament and this was the last game of the tournament. Although, I`m told they`re playing in a game tomorrow, and I`m planning to attend to take more pictures so obviously this wasn`t the last game. I think I heard something about the game tomorrow being a championship game.  Maybe I should pay more attention to the details if I`m going to be writing about them. :-)

Matthew Hoffarth - Number 15, playing for PSA 
Click on the picture to see the gallery.

Read more after the link.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More snow..

Saturday morning - it wasn't snowing any more, but it had drifted around over night. I had to push the door open to move the snow out of the way. I was able to trudge out to the front of the house and survey the driveway.

Snow drifts block the front door.

The drive way in front of the van was full of snow - the street behind my car was full of snow. There was a lot of shoveling to do. I started shoveling, the whole time thinking about how the first snow fall usually leads to news reports of people dropping dead from a heart attack due to the exertion, so I made sure to take it easy and rest often :-)

Snow drifts in front of the house.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow !

It snowed !! We've not really had much of the white stuff this year. There was a few days last week, but it didn't last long, just enough to make the drive home interesting. This time the snow may go all weekend with temperatures plunging to -20c by Monday. There is a lot of wind right now and it's drifting all over the place.

Clare in her snow cave.

We haven't been tobogganing since last spring. I asked the kids if they wanted to go while they were eating dinner and they both became very excited. So excited, in fact, that they almost forgot about eating. ( this isn't really anything new, they're easily distracted when eating and prone to wondering between bites ) after dinner was finally finished the hunt began for toques, scarves, mitts, boots, long underwear, snow pants and coats. All the gear had to be found and put on. Next the toboggan's had to be brought out of summer hiatus. Conor and I had to dig them out of the shed - literally!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Space Shuttle over Calgary

Is the smudge leading away from Venus towards the left. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Was leaving work for the first time.. Didn't recognize that guy in the mirror in the elevator, realized that I'd taken off my glasses to rub my face or something and had left them in my office. So, I went back up and got them. On my second attempt to leave I ran into Dave.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Botanical Garden at the Zoo

The new Botanical Garden opened up at the Zoo yesterday. I've been waiting for over a year for them to re-open it. I use to frequent the old one quite often with my camera, macro lense and tripod in hand. I have been able to capture a few nice pictures from my visits. I enjoyed all of the flowers and the butterfly house was always lots of fun.

Purple orchid.. at least I think its an orchid, 
I love the green leaves in the background

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Drumheller Sunday

Lying in bed dozing on a Sunday morning, Conor comes in for a snuggle. I was thinking that I want to go to the mountains. I've not been to the mountians for what seems like months. I want to go west, he says we should go to Drumheller. Conor wants to be a palentiologist, he wants to grow up and study marine dinosaurs. When I was 8, I remember trying to find money so I could go spend it at the arcade - Joust, Tron, Asteroids, Wizard of War, Defender.. probably couldn't even spell dinosaur when I was eight.

Skull fossil found in the Badlands of Drumheller or a cleverly designed fake ?

So here he was, trying to get me to agree to Drumheller, and I looked out the window from the bed where I was lying.. all I could see was a dull grey sky and I could hear the wind howling. Tried to imagine being in the mountains in the wind, in the cold - there is probably snow everywhere out there. We've not had much snow yet this year and I don't know if I'm prepared yet. If I'll have all the right stuff - mitts, hats, boots. I didn't really want to go anywhere if the weather wasn't going to play along but I also didn't want to stay home - I'd spent too much time on the couch the last few weekends with my best friend - the TV.

Went to the Zoo

I like to go to the Zoo and try to take interesting pictures of the plants and animals. I have an annual pass so it's easy to go there and just spend a couple of hours walking around with my camera. The Zoo closes at 6:00pm, but they stop letting people in at 5. I like to go between 3 and 4 because often it's not very busy. Conor and I went today.

I get real excited when I can find some nice light like I found on this flamingo here. We walked into the Destination Africa building and there was this beam of sunlight coming in. He was the just standing there and it didn't last more than five minutes before it all faded away. I love how the light and shadows define the texture of the feathers on his neck.

This and two other flamingos were in the Destination Africa Exhibit where the vulture lives. There were a couple of Zoo staff in the pen feeding the flamingos with pans of a pink liquid, which I guess was some kind of shrimp mixture. Whats cool is that you can see the teeth along the beak of the flamingo that, I'd guess, they use to strain shrimp out of the water.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jr Boys Volleyball

My sister asked if I'd like to shoot some pictures of my nephew playing volleyball. He's on the Boys Jr. team, and this was the last game of the season before the playoffs start next week.

I said YES!! because I really really like taking pictures. He was playing a home game at the same high school that I went to - too many years ago.

I thought I'd be overwhelmed with memories when I was back inside the building, but it didn't happen. Possibly because I didn't spend enough time in the gymnasium when I went to school or I was just too busy thinking about the photos. I did find that being in that environment made me wish that I'd been more involved when I was that age.

The games were pretty exciting. It was best of five. They got off to a slow start and had lost the first two matches. They were able to win the second two and force a tie-breaker. The scoring in all the games was close. They won the final game 15-12.. Maybe I'll be lucky and they'll ask me shoot some Playoff games too.

Click on the photo to see some more. My challenge was trying to keep the shutter speed up there, I was shooting at 1/200th or 1/250th of a second at F3.2 which put me at an ISO of 1000 or 1250. One day I'll upgrade the camera to something that has a nice clean 1600 or 3200iso to play with, but those cameras are expensive.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pictures witout context.

So I signed up for an account over at Smugmug to host my pictures. I'm still fidgeting with setting up Smugmug how I want it, and thinking about having all those pictures up there and I'm afraid that pictures will just turn into a LARGE collection of photos without any context.. so I thought maybe I could utilize this blog to add some context to the photos, and make them a little more interesting to look at, or at least to give you a backstory to the photos and all the adventures that I get to take part in.

Not sure if this will work out how I expect, but I'm going to give it a try anyway.

So here is a picture of Conor in his Halloween getup.

I was going to shoot him in the basement against the cabinet when I remembered the walls in his room are red. I think it made a nice background for the theme.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Still unsure

Don't know about this.. not sure if it's what I want to be committed to.. does anyone else out there wonder if they want to be committed to blogging.. and linking and all that stuff that goes along with it..

I want to get my stuff out there.. I have a lot of stuff, lots of pictures, maybe some stories.. is this the place to do it ? is it future proof ? Alot of it will be stories of my adventures with the kids. Where we went, what we saw, what we did.. I like taking pictures, so I don't know if this is the place for it.

So here is a picture of a mountian that I climbed on Sunday.. it's Nahani Ridge, looking south/east climbed it with my nephew, it was windy..