Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Nose Hill - April 1, 2020


As I drove west on Mcknight I could see a heavy cloud hanging over the downtown core. The western end of the cloud was catching some sunlight but looked like it wasn't quite over top of the buildings. I didn't have a way of gauging how fast the cloud was moving and if the light was going to change a lot. By the time I reached Center street it looked like the big cloud hadn't moved at all. I didn't think that the angles would work out if I drove any closer to downtown so I decided to drive up to Nose hill off of 14th street.

I've lived in Calgary my whole life and I've probably been to Nose hill less than 5 times that I can remember and just once with photographic intent. I shot some crocus flowers a few springs ago for a 365 project that I was doing. I wondered if there might be some frozen crocus's covered with recent snow but honestly I don't think it's been warm enough this year for anything to have had popped out of the frozen ground yet.

I had seen an instagram post recently where someone had posted a photo of downtown from Nose hill so I had an idea of what the view would be like. Of course I was hoping for a brilliant sky and yada yada yada.. it's a common mantra that I'm sure you've heard already if you've been following along. lol.

After parking the car and hoofing it to the top of the hill I saw that there was a streak of light across the downtown core and the cloud that I was tracking was in a good position. I quickly setup the tripod and mounted the camera.

Light brushing the scene.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Grungy - March 30, 2020


With the car battery dead to the point where the key fob wouldn't unlock the door I'm unable to pop the hood to get a charger on the battery. For some reason the key itself won't work on the door handle. I've researched a bit online and some options to get out of this predicament are: raise the car on jacks and attach a power source to the starter motor input, which comes directly off the battery, then use the fob to unlock the door. Take apart the drivers side wheel well and yank on the cable that's latching the hood down or break in through the window by poking a long stick at the lock. None of these options seemed feasible to me with my current skill set so I guess it's time for a new car. Anyone want a well used Honda CR-V?

Oh wait, we have AMA. A quick look at their website and they offer break-into-your-car services. Yay. I just saved $40k for not having to replace the car. We called and soon the fellow showed up and was trying the 'poke a long stick' method. It was tricky because he need to push the lock latch forward but the latch is smooth and there's no real edge to leverage off of. He had a rough time getting his stick to stick. After quite a number of attempts he was finally able to open the car door. We then jumped the battery. I left the car running for a while so as to build up a charge.

Later I headed to the grocery store to get a few things for dinner, hoping that the battery had charged enough to start the car after I was done shopping. (spoiler: it was, but I did have a scare when I pushed the fob button and the door didn't unlock. I turned out that I had both my regular keys and the spare keys in my pocket. The spare key's battery is dead - so many dead batteries - and I had pulled that fob out of my pocket with out realizing it.) As I left the parking lot I decided to drive around a bit. The weather was cold and it was foggy which can make for interesting photos.

truck trailers

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Uncomfortable - March 29, 2020


I must have left a dome light on overnight and now the car battery is dead. A few times this winter when the temperature dropped and block heater wasn't plugged in the battery would struggle to start the car. No problem though, I'd hook up the charger, plug in the block heater, wait a bit and that would do the trick. But now it seems the battery seems deader than dead. I can't use the key fob to unlock to doors and the key doesn't work in the handle lock. I'm guessing the door lock is electronic it just doesn't turn or maybe it's broken somehow. I don't know, I never use the key in the door. Anyway, without being able to unlock the door I can't pop the hood because the little lever is inside the car. If I can't pop the hood I can't charge the battery. I might have to call the AMA to see if they can slim jim the door.

With my car out of commission I was able to borrow Jen's van and was again headed towards downtown. Like the past few days, there were clouds above and towards the east, a heavy cloud bank on the western horizon and a gap in between. The gap was wider than yesterday and I was hopeful that the setting sun might catch the clouds at some point. With the sun directly out I ended up on 10th ave and about 5th street SW. The shot below is just after I'd parked the car.

hard light

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Grey - March 28th, 2020


If you're reading this in the distant future we're in the early stages of the Covid-19 epidemic. Jen's been working at home for the last week and a half and we're staying away from other people as best we can when going to the grocery store. Lots of things are closed off. I've not really checked what the malls are doing or other stores are like but overall it's been pretty quiet. We've been taking walks 'around the circle' at noon-ish as a break from work and for a bit of exercise. I've been out in the evenings at sunset looking for light and see few, if any, other folks on those excursions.

Today being a Saturday, the walk ended up being a bit later in the afternoon. It was chilly and overcast at -3 degC with a light wind. Normally I don't bring my camera on the walk but we decided to head down towards a wetlands area with a bit of trees and I thought there might be some photo opportunities, and who knows, maybe there'd be owls (spoiler: there wasn't..)

Grey skies

Friday, March 27, 2020

Skyline - March 27, 2020

Left the house with about 30 minutes before sunset. There were clouds in the sky and I was hoping that they would catch fire today. I didn't have much time and I knew that after the sun fell any foreground light would be pretty dark so I decided to head towards Deerfoot and 17th ave for a view of the skyline. I was visualizing a horizon shot with colourful skies. I wasn't sure that once I got there if I'd head north towards MaxBell or south to the bluffs over the canal.

As I drove up 17th ave I figured heading north towards MaxBell would be the better option due to the positioning of the sun. I ended up sitting a streetlight waiting to turn left for waaaay too long. The intersection has been modified somewhat recently to include an express bus route lane, with that and the various advances it seemed to take forever before my light turned green. I was losing sun! From there it's sort of a convoluted path through residential housing to get to the MaxBell parking lot.

I drove past the middle school that I attended so many years ago. My memory banks were tweaked and I started remembering all kinds of random bits of my childhood. It's kind of cool how we can have inactive thoughts in our heads that are activated by visual stimulation. I attended that school for thee years in the early 80's during my formative years.


Just missed the sun.

As I finally pulled into the MaxBell parking lot the sun had just dropped out of view but the sky was still glowing.. I quickly stopped and took this photo out the car window just in case it suddenly became pitch black and I ended up with nothing for my trouble.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Empty - March 26, 2020


All afternoon and into the evening the wind was howling and blowing. It was still sunny out and kind of warm but the wind had a bite to it.

After dinner I was eyeballing the clock, watching it get later and later and I wasn't moving. I finally got up and started gathering my things.. the memory card from downstairs, the wider lens that I wished it'd had yesterday and packed up. Soon I was out and driving with the sun directly in my eyes it was about 30 minutes until the sun would be down.

I didn't have a destination in mind but I drove along McKnight towards Center street then turned south on Center towards downtown.  The sun dipped behind a cloud for a while and I could see again but as I neared the river it was back out in full force. I turned west on to 4th ave and directly into the sun blinding me again. I quickly found a place to park on the empty street and got out of the car.

Tunnel view

On foot now, I had an idea about taking a wide angle photo of the sunlight shining down the length of the street with the buildings on either side reflecting light and there'd be this cool tunnel effect. I kept moving up the street towards the sun looking for this image to appear.

It didn't quite work out, the buildings weren't reflecting any of the light and I could see that it wasn't going to work out how I imagined it. So I swapped my wide lens for the telephoto zoom in order to compress the view.

It felt like a bit of a ghost town there were very few people around. When I did spot some pedestrians crossing the street, they were far away. I took some shots in a hurry trying to frame them up in the light. Sadly the photos have quite a bit of motion blur because I wasn't holding the camera all that steady. It's not as noticeable when the picture is small so I'll post it here and maybe on instagram, but it'll never make it into the book.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Gaps - March 25, 2020

It was snowy and overcast yesterday with little or no light so I didn't venture out and continued to social distance by staying in the house. Today though there were big puffy clouds in the sky that I got a excited about but that was at noon. By early evening it was clear. 

I left the house at around 7:05pm with no clear ideas about where I'd go.
I did pack my bike in the back of the car so that I could go somewhere, park, then use the bike to cover different locations.. at least that was the idea. I thought about going up to McHugh Bluff above Prince's Island but while driving I realized it was actually later than I exected so I parked in Inglewood at the same place as last week.

I quickly unpacked and re-assembled the bike ( the front tire and seat have to be taken off so I can stuff it into the back of the car) and started riding towards the river and crossed the Zoo bridge.


The birds

Two things right away, one was the number of seagulls on the ice/snow covered river and the other was that the sun was almost directly behind the tower from where I was positioned.

I took some photos of the tower first but because I had to keep an eye on my bike I was somewhat limited in movement.  There was no way to avoid the massive number of birds in the sky and I was behind some trees.  It's interesting how quickly the sun was moving. Within 10's of seconds it's position would shift and I'd have to take 5-10 paces to my left to keep it centered behind the tower.

My goal was to have the sun positioned symmetrically behind the tower but the birds and the trees and trying to keep an eye on my bike made it more complicated that it should have been. I was able to fire off a few shots that I was happy with. It's pretty close to what I got last week but I guess that's just how it is.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Sunrise on Monday - March 23, 2020

I woke up early with the intent of trying for some sunrise photos. Looking out the window squinting at the sky to see if it was cloudy or not and if it'd be worth heading out.

I'm still looking for a mixed sky and cloud sunrise/sunset to occur where the light catches and burns the clouds across the sky.. it's going to be so awesome when it happens ! (I've only really been at this for about a week or so, lol.. I'll happen eventually.. right?!)

I could see a few stars in the sky so I got dressed. There was still time for a coffee. ;) Sipping my coffee and browsing The Photographers Ephemeris website I angled around and looked to see where the sunlight was going to be and decided I'd try Memorial drive and Edmonton trail.. There's a few bridges and the river's right there. Should be great!

When I finally left the house I saw that there was a cloud bank in the east with a small gap at the horizon. As I drove, with about 20 minutes until sunrise, I could see in the rear view mirror that that cloud bank was starting to catch some colour. I contemplated aborting my plan and just going east of the city but decided to keep on with my original destination.

I found a place to park that had 1 hour street parking starting at 8:30am so I had until 9:30.. perfect! Looking back towards the east the little cloud was having a colour party. Sadly, downtown was still in shadow and there weren't any clouds to catch the light.


Maybe I should have gone east!


Friday, March 20, 2020

Frost and fire - March 20, 2020


When I first got up in the morning I peeked outside and it looked like the sky was cloud covered and that there wasn't going to be an interesting sunrise. I had thought that if it looked like the light was forming that I'd head out for some photos. A while later, as I drank my morning coffee, I noticed that the sun was indeed out and brightening the neighbors house. After deliberating back and forth for a few minutes I decided yes, I'll go.

Being that it was later I wasn't going to head towards downtown because all the great light would be gone. So I soon found myself driving east on McKnight towards Conrich behind a big truck that wasn't going very fast.

Usually when I finally decide to do something like this and I feel like I'm late to the game, I notice ALL the little delays.. like all the lights turning red as I reach the intersections, being trapped behind another car that doesn't care that I'm chasing light and so on. It's a test in patience.. Soon enough though, the truck pulled off and I had nothing but open road before me.


otherside


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Center Street - March 19, 2020

Yesterday, I went out after dinner thinking that there would be a sunset. I had been fiddling with a photography app on my phone (photopills) using it to determine where the sun would set and what the best position to be in would be. I knew as soon as got outside I knew it was all for not.. there was heavy cloud in the west and the sun hidden. I quickly lost interest in the plan but drove around anyway. I couldn't really find the motivation to stop anywhere and with all the flat light so eventually I just drove back home. Today, after dropping Conor off in the Northwest I thought I'd make my way downtown to see about taking some photos. The light still wasn't great and it was pretty cloudy but I wanted to go anyway, possibly to make up for last night.

On the way, I needed gas and stopped at a station on 16th ave over by the Foothills hospital. As I was filling up I noticed the group of workers gathered across the street. It looked kind of interesting (to me) so I parked the car, changed lenses and tried to frame up a photo. For some reason I felt very self conscious about the whole thing. Because I was across the intersection I needed to wait until there wasn't any traffic between me and the scene so I'd end up standing there out in the open waiting to take a photo. Some workers were making their way across the intersection and buying snacks at the gas station or coffee at the Tim Hortons behind me.. As they came close I'd put the camera down and sit in my car and for them to move out of the way. It got a little silly because I'm sure I was in and out of the car about four times before being able to grab a couple shots and then decide that I was going to move on.

On break


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Photo walk - March 15, 2020

Oh no.. another photo walk, which will likely result in a horrifically large number of posted photos. I'm not sure we can keep up with the processing and uploads that I add to my smugmug site. So to compensate, at the end of this post I'll link back to the smugmug site that will link all the photos that are not featured here.

It's Sunday. It feels like I haven't been out of the house much the last week other than to get groceries or to drive Conor somewhere. I've been following all the panic buying on twitter .. wow.. it's nuts out there. Luckily I was able to grab some groceries last week before it all blew up.

Regardless, it was sunny out for a change.. and cold (-12 degC). After dinner, I decided I'd head out to see about taking some photographs. I left the house around 6:30pm. Sunset would be after 7:30 so I felt I had some time to find some compositions.. I drove towards downtown and while driving I tried to think of different places to go and decided to head towards the Deane house on 9th and see what the light might give. From there I could walk towards downtown.

Elbows deep.
After finding parking on the street I started walking west behind Fort Calgary.  I came across a scene where the light was grazing the snow and creating nice textures.  The view in this photo is quite low, I was scrunched down a snow drift propped up on my elbows trying to get the frame. The sunlight here is actually a reflection off the distant building. The sun was setting on the left side of the frame. I'll be a while before the sunset is that far north..


Friday, March 13, 2020

Winter returns - March 13, 2020


After performing my taxi duties for today I drove towards downtown thinking that I'd have a photo session in the mid-afternoon. While in the car I saw a bunch of scenes and I though for sure I'd be able to get some shots today. Winter has returned and there was snow and blank skies everywhere. Being a weekday and the middle of the afternoon there's no free parking downtown. I thought that the streets near rotary park might have street parking so I made my way up there.

I was correct in my memory, 3 hour street parking on top the hill. The only downside is that it was pretty cold out -15 degC with gusty winds and I'd have to walk down the hill and across the center street bridge before I could scope out any downtown locations.

Crossing center street bridge, I can't help but make the photo below.. it happens every time if I have my camera with me..

Obligatory Center Street Bridge shot..

It's O.K. though. I was watching a youtube video and the premise was that you should shoot the things you know across different conditions.. so based on that I don't feel guilty for posting this photo as the entry to the rest of the story..

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

More skyline - March 11, 2020


I had a chance to get out around 6:45pm which was perfect given that that sun sets at 7:35 tonight. I had high hopes about the light because I was out so early. Trying to think of a place to shoot from I picked Scotsman's Hill. There's a nice lookout over Stampede park with the Saddledome and downtown buildings clustered around behind. After figuring out how to actually get there I found parking on the street in a 1 hour zone. A city parking authority car happened to be skulking around so to be safe I set a timer on my phone for when I'd have come back and move my car.

I made my way over to the lookout and mounted the camera on the tripod, picked my view and waited for the light to do something. It was kind of flat, with clouds hovering in the sky casting a shadow over the downtown core. My hopes for spectacular light were diminishing.

Throwing shade

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Skyline - March 10, 2020


Driving to Tuesday horn lessons after springing ahead into daylight time last weekend meant that there was still light in the sky at 7:30pm when we left the house. In fact, sunset was at 7:33pm and is setting later by 2 minutes every day.. by the time spring arrives on March 21, it'll be setting at 7:52pm. The latest the sun will set around here will be 9:54pm on June 21, the first day of summer!

In our somewhat northerly location after sun sets there's still about an hour or more where the western skies aren't totally black. In case you can't tell, this is getting me all excited that we're finally starting to crawl out of the depths of winter's night. The changing seasons are one of my favorite things.

But back to today, as I drove I was trying to think of a location to shoot from that might take advantage of it not being completely dark. I wouldn't be able to shoot anywhere until about 8:10pm which is almost 40 minutes after sunset so I kept my expectations in check about what I might be able to shoot.

I decided my goal would be to head towards 14th street bridge and see if I could shoot the skyline. My hope was that shooting towards the east would allow any light in the west to reflect off of the buildings and give them a bit of colour.


Looking down 6th Ave.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

RGB tree - March 5, 2020


Dropped Conor off for his horn lesson, had a few errands to run and drove around for a bit looking for something to photograph. I was largely uninspired not having a preconceived idea this time. I was sort of hoping something would spring up in front of me but for the most part it was a bust. I drove through downtown and everything just looked so inky black.

I'm anticipating that as the days pass and spring returns the evening light will come back and I'll have more opportunities. On the other hand, maybe this is just a stupid excuse to be lazy and not make any photographs.. I'll admit that I did feel kind of lazy.

After killing time I ended up back at the university.. I still had 30 minutes before he'd be out. There's a parkade nearby that has some colourful lights in the stairwell. I've looked at them every time I've driven by and wondered what a photo would look like, so I decided this was it. I stopped and took some shots. Below is the result.

stairwell pixels

Using a telephoto zoom I took a bunch of photos at different shutter speeds so that I could HDR the result in lightroom. I knew that the colours would be way over saturated and blown out if I tried to expose for a single photograph.

One thing that was totally cool was an owl flew by and disappeared into some trees at the edge of the parking lot. When I was done taking photos I drove past the trees to see if I could find it, but alas I did not.

Thanks for looking.



Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Wood - March 4, 2020


I was heading downtown on the c-train and waiting for the train at the McKnight-Westwinds station. The platform is covered with this really cool wooden structure. I think I've made a photo here before and I didn't really want to replicate what I'd shot. I took this photo of one of the pillars. Converting it to monochrome helps to bring out the texture in the wood.

steam-punk windmill?

My dad was an accountant and had a couple side clients to his regular job that he did books for. One of the clients was a lumber yard. Baldy's Lumber (?! I was pretty young). Maybe I'm not remembering or I wasn't privy to the information but he ended up with a lot of wood. Maybe that's how he was paid for his accounting work. Cedar mostly.. Our yard was more than half covered in decking, the roof of the house was covered in cedar shingles. The basement was all done up with cedar on the walls, the ceiling.. Dad had a lot of wood working skills. The wood textures here remind me of those days, so long ago.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Diamonds and rainbows - March 3rd, 2020


The days are a blur, it's Tuesday already and after spending most the day routing through items and trying to get a little more organized we headed out for horn lessons and some photography time.

After dropping of Conor I drove towards downtown thinking I'd try and get some shots of the parkade entrance on ninth ave. The plus15 people recently built a section connecting Gulf Canada Square and Penn West Plaza and it was done up with a bunch of colorful lights and I thought it might make an interesting subject that I could fill the frame with.

On my way I passed an empty Mercedes dealership lot just off of 9th ave. The outside lot was empty but all the lights were on and they had built some structures to park cars under. I'd seen this spot a few times while driving here and felt like I could find an interesting photo there.


Diamonds

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Nifty Fifty - Feb 27, 2020


I had an appointment downtown so I was gathering up all the stuff I'd need for all the things I wanted to do. Some gym clothes, runners, a book, laptop, notebook, pencil case, phone, water bottle.. When it came time to grab the camera (always take a camera) I started poking though a few lens choices. I was going to be downtown at sunrise and maybe nice light would hit the buildings so I thought of a wide angle but also maybe a zoom then I realized I wouldn't be able to carry everything with my two bags.

The other night when shooting the bridge I'd had the 50mm prime with me and it was already on the camera and is rather small so I settled on just bringing the one lens. I'm not a huge fan of the 50mm because it's too narrow for wide angle views and too wide for telephoto shots. For me it's kind of a no-mans-land.. I remember thinking maybe it'll be a fun challenge to shoot with something unfamiliar.

As we drove into downtown the light from the east was reflecting off of the buildings. Nearing the end of February the light is starting to get brighter earlier and earlier. I'm not out every morning these last few months so it felt like a sudden occurrence to have all this light. I made a few photos out the window of the van. I have a large collection of photos that include a very similar view but I find it doesn't get old for me and I'll just keep on adding to my collection. I especially like the way the light was in a gradient on the buildings.

From the bridge
Also from the bridge

I have this thing where, when I photograph the Calgary skyline, that I need to include the Calgary tower if it's visible.. so that second shot makes me feel uncomfortable in ways that I can't explain.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Red Bridge - Feb 25, 2020



With Conor taking french horn lessons three nights a week I've developed a new-found ambition of making photos while waiting for him. After dropping him off I've been driving around seeing things. It's quite dark in the evenings and the sky's been inky black and most of the stuff I look at isn't all that interesting because of the super harsh shadows. I have a suspicion that with the changes that the city has made moving towards LED based street lights that there's way less ambient light floating around and everything just feels darker.. or maybe I'm just old and my eyes are starting to go.

During my short photo stints, I usually head downtown to find something to make a photo of.. time passes quickly and oftentimes I'm rushing back to MRU, driving up Bow trail to get to 37th street. During that drive I've noticed this bridge and I've noticed how the light caresses it and I noticed that it might be an interesting subject that I wanted to shoot. Today would be my attempt to go there.. I had it all planned out in my head.


Sexy reds

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Day and night. Feb 18, 2020


I had an appointment downtown in the early afternoon and rather than take the train downtown I grabbed a ride with Jen. It was a pretty lengthy time to hang out so I started by going to the gym to get some stairclimber time in. Instead of watching netflix like I usually do, I had some reading to do to prepare for the meeting. After the gym, I grabbed a coffee, made my way up to the building's cafeteria and did a bit of work before finally walking over to the appointment at around 1:30.

On the way I was distracted by this frosty tree  It was somewhat cold out so frost was forming on the branches dressing it in white.

Frosted
After the appointment I walked back towards downtown. The sky was clear with the sun lower in the sky making some nice colour. I had packed the 70-200F4 for zoom and a 24mm tilt shift for wide angle shots in my bag. I like the 24mm for building shots because I can 'shift' it instead of pointing the camera upwards and the buildings stay straight.