Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bridge Pics and Equipment Debate

I'm facinated by cloud patterns. I love the big fluffy ones (aka Cumulus). Whenever I ride home and I see a bunch of clouds just hanging around, I stop and I take a picture.

I've posted 4 pictures, two are taken with my Minolta A200 camera, and the other with my Panasonic FX50. Both have similar pixel count, but notice the difference in over all texture of the images. Even though all pictures have been edited, they still have a distinct look, especially the grain pattern. I like the look of the Minolta (the top two pics) versus the Panasonic. There's too much smudgy noise reduction on the Panasonic pics..... too bad it was pouring rain when I shot with the Minolta (you can see where the raindrop hit on the first image), while the Panasonic got the killer clouds!! As mentioned earlier, my Panasonic FX50 is a cheap work camera, but is small enough to be on my hip whilst I ride my bike, so it's always ready to take a picture. My other cameras I have to pack in my bag and takes a lot longer to set-up before I can shoot.

The answer to my dilemma? Buy a better, smaller, work camera. Which camera? My dream would be the Ricoh GR D III. Next, perhaps the Canon S90. A reasonable option would be aused Panasonic FX35 or FX37. Sorry for nerding out on equipment....but you know what they say: Neither wise men nor fools can work without tools!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 00? Shipyards....

Well, I haven't posted any new pics for a while, only posting lost pictures from my picture a day project. I've got some input from others, and I think I'll do a few mini projects from time to time, and also post pictures when I've shot something interesting.
I don't think I've actually mentioned this in my blog, but I started this blog to get myself back into creative photography. I wasn't trying to take prize-winning pictures, and I avoided using my top equipment. In fact, I shot mostly on my cheap work camera... it takes not so good images. Noisy images even at a low iso 80, and then attempts to correct it with noise reduction that smears details. As well, most shots were taken on the go, at work, or commuting to and from work while on bike. I didn't use a tripod, nor did I spend time pondering over the shot. I see a shot peripherally while riding, stop, take the shot, then back to riding. Gone in 30 seconds!!
At home, I edit on a free photo editing program (Photoscape, found free online), and do so as quick as possible. The whole process is sloppy at best... haphazard photography. This style was inspired a bit by John Frusciante's (lead guitarist for RHCP) 6 albums in 6 months project. It wasn't about making each song or album perfect. It was about putting ideas down quickly, so the inspiration wasn't lost in overthinking the song, or in my case, the image.

Anway, I'm going on and on. I was at the shipyards today doing an install and took some cool shots. It's a heavy industrial and ugly place, but even there you can find cool pictures. I love it when the big horn blasts to announce coffee or lunch, and all the guys (and gals) go marching off, so it leaves the shipyard empty. That's when I take my 1 minute break, sip some tea, eat a cookie, and take a few shots. Here are some pics I took today (although 2 are from last week)..... sorry for writing so much!! My wife told me to keep it short and sweet!! Arghghgh!!! Stop writing.......

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lost Dogs

Pearl Jam had a double cd with all their b-sides and movie soundtrack and other obscure song releases throughout the years that were never officially released on any albums, and they released them all in one collection and called the album "Lost Dogs". These are my Lost Dogs, the pictures that never made the blog, but got pretty close..... ha ha.... lost dogs.....

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 30: Which House Do You Want?

This may be the last day of my project. I don't know how long I can keep this up, as fun as it is. I was thinking I would last 60 days, but perhaps 30 is the number. I did my long route home through Stanley Park and DT, knowing I'd find something cool to shoot. This was the last picture of the day for me. I found this uber modern house right next to an almost cliche ghetto-home. Colour isolation emphasizes the isolation of the house from the rest of its surroundings......

Although this may be my last day of my shooting and posting project, I will still post a few more pictures, perhaps the lost pictures... the shots that never made the blog.... I have a mess of cool shots that I mulled over posting or not posting......

Anyway, thanks for viewing. I don't think I got a single comment , and neither do I know if I actually have a viewing audience. But I had fun, and its got me back into taking pictures. I may eventually go public with this blog, just to see what strangers think.........

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 29: Painting with Light

I know, 2 days in a row of a bridge shot. I almost posted a cool picture of a block full of fluffy cherry blossom trees that made the street look like an insane tunnel of pink leaves ...... but I just loved this shot more. This is what I was trying to get yesterday. I love the swirly cloud patterns circling the rising sun, and how the industrial smoke climbs up into the sky and tries to join the clouds.....this picture looks so much like a painting to me, it definitely felt like I was painting with light this morning as I snapped this picture....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 28: Sunrise or Sunset?

There is a debate if there is a light quality difference between a sunrise versus a sunset. Some claim they can tell which is which from a picture. Others claim there is no difference, the quality of the light is the same going up or down. I don't know if there really is a difference, but there is something about a sunset that I like better than a sunrise. Maybe its the idea of it being the end of the day and the sun is the last thing that keeps the day "alive" until it disappears beyond the horizon. Or maybe its because I hate getting up early, so I see much less sunrises. Well, I took today's pic on the way into work, and I have to say, the light was pretty cool. I like how the factory smoke to the left and the single cloud puff above the train bridge tower sort of contrast each other, and I like the way the light hits the railway tracks to the right of the image... reminds of a Blue Rodeo album cover..... very little post processing. Contrast, sharpen, and slight vignetting..

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 27: Do you really gain 5 pounds in pictures?

I think the saying goes for video, that you gain 5 pounds, but is it really true? I thought I'd test the theory. I've been a steady 160 for a few years now, and the "Healthometer" keeps me on tract since it's located in the staff washroom and I check it almost every day..... I just loved the name "Healthometer", and I visualized the picture in my head ahead of time. Totally worth getting another washroom shot. I mean hey, we all spend a lot of time in there right? I'm very regular. What can I say? Oh, and I just happened to be wearing my merino wool socks with the orange tips, so it kinda worked out in the picture.....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 26: The reason why WD40 was invented....

I found this bike leaned up against a rail behind the MEC in N.Van. It's not locked up, but as you can see, there's no point. I don't know if the rust from the rail worked its way to the bike, or the other way around. You can smell the rust in the air. It makes for a cool pic though. I had to do some heavy handed post production work to isolate the bike from the goofy pink wall. Colour isolation, vignetting, focus blur.... I know, I'll try my best to stop using photo editing "tricks" to get my pic of the day. I'll try to find more pure shots with as little editing as possible. Tomorrow is a meeting night, so my shooting window of opportunity will be very small..... maybe I'll get more washroom shots at work.......

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 25: Zoom Zoom

When I was young, I dreamed about driving. The only way to satisfy this need was by playing with Hotwheels cars. As I got older, I continued playing with them, even though I did so in secret. My mom gave them all away when we got older, to the shock of all us brothers. When I got older and married, and after many years of driving, I realized I still wanted to play with Hotwheels.....well, maybe collect them and just look at them. Now that I have two nephews (and a niece) I've started buying for them as well...... I'll make sure their mommy's won't give them away when they get older!!

I took this shot on top of my wife's glossy black piano bench and used window light. I fisheyed the picture a bit, colour isolation and focus blur.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 24: Me, Wife and our Toques....

I had already picked the shot of the day, but I passed my wife in the hallway as she showed off her new goggles and I saw the new shot of the day...... it's a pretty busy picture but it works. It's my first non-landscape post, although it's almost a square pic. Very little post-production. It's all in the picture...... and oh ya, another self-portrait again!! Vain!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 23: Biggest Frame Ever

It was a beautiful day and I thought I'd take the long route home through Lions Gate, Stanley Park, downtown, and then through East Van, then back to N.Burnaby. I knew I'd fine some sweet pics on my journey home on my bike. I picked up some cds from HMV on Burrard & Robson, and slowly made my way home. I roamed strange neighbourhoods, and took really cool shots. However, the shot of the day was one of the last shots of the day. I take this route home all the time, so its funny that none of my other exotic downtown shots made the blog. The lighting was just perfect, as the sun was just beginning to set and hit the yellow of the bridge.What I like about this shot is the bridge acts as the frame for my picture, as it leads your eye to the centre of the image. To emphasize this, I used a very subtle bit of colour isolation and focus blur, but very little..... your eye naturally looks under the bridge......

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 22: I Dig Music

Some of the pictures I've taken reflect the things I enjoy: bike riding, eating, and obviously photography. Some pictures don't, like flowers and pets.....However, one of my biggest passions is actually music. If I had to give up all hobbies and only choose a single one, I'd say that music would be it. I love listening to music, I love playing music, I love writing music..... I dig music...... Anyway, finally, a music themed picture has made my blog.

I was visiting a newly re-opened cafe near my work, and owner clearly enjoys music as well. She has 3 guitars and a piano in her very small cafe, including guitar plectrums (aka picks) at the bottom of every glass sugar package holders at every table!! I quickly took this picture with very little thought to composition, although it worked out okay I think. You can see the over exposed picture of a guitar to the top left of the picture.

What drew me to take this picture was of course the piano, but I love the two Beatles' song books, which ended up being the focal point of the image. Notice the book cover is similar to the Let It Be album cover, but instead of 4 pictures of the John, Paul, George and Ringo on it, it's 4 pictures of screaming, crying fans. Way to sell the books.... weird cover choice for a song book.....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 21: Drive-By Shooting

Okay, to start off, as they say, don't try this at home. That is, don't take pictures while driving. I don't do it all the time...... okay, I almost never do it, but I've seen some pretty spectacular images while driving, and this shot was one of those impossible shots unless driving up high in a van. I was on lower levels in N. Van and I saw this perfect landscape, including a group of crows flying together in a big flock over to the right......I grabbed my camera, which is usually on my hip when I'm working, and I quickly shot off a few shots, with minimal composition. I did shoot in colour, but that's only because I didn't have time to switch the camera to b&w mode. It didn't matter because it was cloudy and gray and pretty much monochromatic anyway........but the picture works. The glue that holds the image together is the sideview mirror showing what's behind. I'm happy with this dangerous, accidental, uncomposed, spontaneous shot...... not too much modification, just darkening of the highlights, up the contrast and switching to black and white.......

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 20: 2nd Narrows Bridge

The 2nd Narrows Bridge is the bridge I must conquer to and from work every day on my bike. On the way to work is mostly downhill, but on the way back is a grind!! The McGill / Hastings Street exit sign is about the halfway mark of the hill, so when I approach it, it's a psychological marker, as I tell myself: "I'm halfway there, I've almost conquered you, you stupid bridge!!" So this time, I decided to stop and take a picture of it. As I did, a quick rider was riding up my butt really fast, so I'm happy I had a reason to stop and take this picture.... or else I'd have to jump on my pedals and make sure he couldn't catch me!!

I did a lot of post production work on this, including fake tilt-shift, equalizing shadows and highlights, contrast boost, sharpening. I also shot it because I liked the shape of the clouds that day. It was just about ready to rain on me........

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 19: a Kingly Breakfast

Today is check-out day in Whistler. We did our best not to eat out, so we brought up lots of food and did most of our own cooking. This morning's goal was to finish eating what we could, so we didn't have to carry anything back to Vancouver. There is a chaotic randomness to this meal: carrots with veggie dip, pancakes, scrambled eggs, banana loaf, veggie soup and apple pie (still being heated up in the oven). Although there are all these different colours (I like the smoky green of the green tea), the consistently white plates acts like the glue that keeps the randomness in tact, sort of like picture mattes.......

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 18: Main Street

Third day in Whistler, and I spent from 8am to 4pm snowboarding. The pictures I took up at the mountain were more smiley tourist shots, and my mind was not in photo-blog mode. I was in "don't fall on my face while trying to go from heel to toe edge" mode...... anyway, after getting back to the apartment, taking a shower, going out for dinner and then back to the hotel, it was pretty late. After looking at all my pics during the day, including food pics at the restaurant, nothing was blog-worthy. So I trekked out late, hunting down a good shot. Not unlike the night before, I took lots of shots at dark, empty store windows, lights and buildings, and finally I took the above shot. I love the halo around street lights, especially the type that arches straight down. I waited for a car to pass by just to add a bit of something to the picture.... I did want something or someone under the street light.....a couple kissing under the light would have been too cliche...... how about a young kid doing a headspin on a sheet of cardboard? How about a clown in full circus-garb?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 17: Pose for me Rose

I love window displays at night. There's something eerie about a display that is so animated and meant to attract attention, but late at night and long after the store is closed, it's sort of out of place. It's like running into a clown in a dark alley. Out of context. I also always shoot in black and white to accentuate the shadows.... it increases the mood of the already moody picture..... by using focus blur, it makes the model look 3 dimensional, even though its just a flat image. I also shot from an angle to avoid window glare and to distort and compress the space between the objects in the picture......

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 16: Glow in the Dark Inukshuk

What a long day!! Work all day, and then scramble to pack to go to Whistler, go to a buddy's house to pick up snowboard equipment, fill up gas, and then finally off at 7pm!! We rolled into Whistler at 8:30pm, and it was snowing hard. As we drove in off of Highway 99, what greeted us was a big, illuminated Inukshuk, a remnant of the 2010 Olympics.

After dropping off our luggage and settling in and relaxing a bit, I ran outside in the snow to take this picture. It was cold and wet, but I was well prepared. I braced myself against a light post so I could still shoot at iso 200, a wide open F 2.0 and a slow 1/6 of a sec. You can see the snow coming down in the top right of the image, falling like stars...... not a great image, but good enough to make the blog. I was too tired to run around the village at 11pm to look for the perfect picture.......