Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two events of interest

Well of interest to me... and hopefully some of you.

Before I get started: I have a question for those who are more knowledgeable
than I. I just joined FaceBook because "everybody" told me I should. I have
absolutely no clue how this can help me. As far as I can tell, I have everything
FaceBook offers already in place: I have my Outlook address book (complete with
pictures), I have a photo gallery, I have this blog, I have distribution lists
for people interested in certain subjects: for instance motorcycle instructors,
photographers, etc., and a personal "friends & family" email list.

So what is it exactly that I would do with Facebook that I'm not already
Send me an email to give me a clue, please.

Event #1: the Tilley Sale
Every August, Alex Tilley holds a warehouse sale. If you're not familiar with Tilley products, check out their website here. They make arguably the finest outdoor, adventure and travel clothing anywhere, as well as the trademark Tilley hat. I've been wearing Tilley's since the early 80's when I outfitted the entire Ontario Combat Pistol Team in Tilley's for the national championships.

The sale has products at half-price or better. Of course it isn't cheap stuff to begin with, but the value is there. The dates announced for the sale are August 6th to 16th, but they don't tell the public that: for those not in the know, it only starts on the 8th. Their new location this year is 1100 O'Connor Drive (Google map here) and they open at 9:00am. Get there on the 6th or 7th: you may think it's crowded then, but it's nothing compared to what it's like on the 8th. And the selection is at it's maximum.

Two warnings: it is usually a total zoo. You may have to wait in a Looooong lineup for the better part of an hour to check out. And it's like going to Costco: you know, you went in for one item worth $20 and when you get to the cash you have a full basket and swallow really hard as the cashier rings up $300 on her register.

I find the Tilley hat superb for photography. It offers full sun protection all around, stays on your head and the floppy brim doesn't get in the way when you hold the camera up to your eye in portrait rotation like a baseball cap does. Their vests have so many pockets you can't count them, although I haven't found one big enough to accept a 70-200 lens, I have to admit.

Event #2: The 2009 Great Lakes Police Motorcycle Training Seminar
This is to be held at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer, ON from the 19th through the 22nd of August.

Whether you are a motorcyclist or not, this is an event worth visiting. If you visit their website, you will see that this is where they train already superb police motorcyclists to become outstanding riders. The venue is open to the public and for me, it represents a superb photo opportunity. Check out the videos and photos on their site.

There are competitions throughout the event, but looking at the schedule, the Friday and especially the Saturday events are going to be the most fun to watch (and photograph). Click on "events" on their site. I notice the Golden Helmets (OPP Precision Team) are doing a Friday afternoon show in St. Thomas.

I have a couple of photos to show you -- one was from the BAD Ride in May where the Toronto Police Winged Wheels did a demo -- this image has been in the blog before. Another is from a practice session at last year's event, held at Humber College. It shows RCMP Sgt. Luc, a friend of my friend Lori's, practicing on his bike.

Although it's a 2 hour drive down the 401 from Toronto, I think it's well worth the time. If I can get away, I'm planning to spend a couple of days down there.

One final note: for those concerned about my health issues: I'm fine. I've come through the surgery OK, with only some lingering voice problems which will eventually go away. I tell you what, though: I'm going to do something about my knee issues before it turns into surgery. This is the second time I've shared a room in hospital with someone who had knee surgery. Let's just say both of them gave their morphine pumps a lot of exercise and I'm not into that.

These issues have kept me from shooting pictures the past few weeks and although I had great intentions to work on my book, I've not done much. Watch this space for progress in the near future!

Friday, July 24, 2009

An update and a few photos

Many of you know that I had surgery on Monday. They went back in to clean up a cancerous node where my Thyroid used to be. According to the surgeon, they got it and I should be OK. He used a different "C" word: "CURED". There were some issues, especially with my voice, which is barely there but which should come back in a matter of weeks.

I need to take a moment to thank everyone who showed they cared so much. I was inundated with good wishes, visits, lifts, phone calls (I told you, I can't talk!), magazines, books and chocolate! All of the nurses at Mt. Sinai were great, there was one special one, though, named Mielana or "Mills" who actually went down and got me a Tim Horton's coffee when I said I was dying for one. She always had a smile and really cared, even when she was sticking needles in me!

I'm home, bored to death, but can't really get motivated to work much, although I did do some work on my First Aid website and some bookkeeping. I should be back in the swing of things next week. I have a Monday appointment to get the stitches removed and maybe I'll go up North for a couple of days.

So I can't write a Blog entry without some photographic content. I took a self-portrait with the Blackberry a couple of hours after surgery. Just thought I'd share...

A couple of weeks ago, Ron Goodlin and I shot the whitewater kayaking races up in Minden, then we drove around and got a few other shots. Here's one of the kayak images that I kind of like: although it's high key, it typifies the action that day for me.

We drove up to Dorset where I took this shot on the dock. I did a burst in order to create an HDR of the image, in an effort to capture the texture of the wood and the blue of the sky as well. Not dramatic, but I think it worked.

I love shooting pictures of moving water. "Painting with Water". You have to experiment with the exposure times -- for me, somewhere between 1/2 sec and 1/10 sec seems to work best. Here are a few examples.

I took a series of pictures here, each with a different shutter speed.
This one was 1/6 sec. Needless to say, a tripod is not an option.

This was an HDR composite. Then I converted it to black and white and cropped it a bit. I was trying to capture some of the detail in the rocks and the moving water. The early morning mist and soft lighting adds a different dimension to this image.

Again, I took a series of pictures here, each with a different shutter speed. This one was 3/10 sec.
Needless to say, a tripod is not an option.

This one is cropped really tightly. I was actually trying to enhance the noise and the texture in this composition. The original photo was not spectacular, but if you use your eyes, you might come up with something unexpected.

I'm almost ready to start putting the next book together. It's going to be quite an effort, but I'm sure it will be worth it. Catch you later!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Testing some new techniques

I spent a little time looking through the workbook and my sketchy notes from the Adobe seminar. What the seminar was about, was to point out useful features in Photoshop. He did a quick demo of some of those features and then left the participant to go home and play with them. As I said, if he had spent a little more time explaining "why" he did certain things and how to use the features better...

Anyway, one of the things I've been meaning to do is to learn about "smart objects". So I created a poster (below) just for playing purposes. I used some of the font techniques he talked about (knew them anyway), did a couple of drop shadows because I think he showed an alternative way to achieve the same thing but I didn't get it, and tried the 'flaming ribbon' thing he presented. Oh, and I used the pen tool to create a path and then stroked it. If you read my Blog you'd know I do use the pen tool, but this is a new way of achieving stuff.

It's not great art but it's a basis for trying new things.

The picture of the kayaker is a 'smart object'. It's a simple matter to replace it with another image and retain all its characteristics. And rescaling it doesn't create resolution or resampling problems. Cool. Of course I'd have to redraw the ribbon if I changed images. Click on the picture to blow it up.

I have to spend some more time with some of these techniques before I can share them with you. Of course they say the best way to learn how to do something is to teach someone else how! Give me a few weeks.

There are a number of people asking me for Photoshop lessons. Most of them are almost new at it, or have minimal practice with the program. So I'm considering structuring a one-day seminar to show people some of the basics. I don't want to fall into the same trap that Corey Barker did, so I need to put some thought into it. If you're interested, email me and tell me (1) what version of Photoshop you have and (2) how much you've played with it. You could also send me an image or two that you've done and tell me what you did. Let's see if we can't get this together in the next couple of months.

I'm looking forward to the weekend shoot at the above venue. I was there yesterday scouting shooting points and I think I found a new one I like on the other side of the river. I plan to get there fairly early on Saturday, and Sunday morning Dr. Ron is coming up to join me so watch this space for some neat images.