Saturday, May 31, 2008

91:365 At the museum - playing with a new lens

Anna: Philippe got himself a new macro lens today - I'll leave him to explain what he got - so we went to the museum again to test it out. I didn't take very many pictures myself this time, but I did get a few interesting ones.

Can you figure out what this is?

Here's the whole thing. It's the result of a lightning strike following a copper wire into damp soil. The lightning boiled away the water and melted the soil into glass, leaving a bit of copper wire still visible at the end. Freaky!

I finally got a decent shot of my favorite egg in the birds gallery - taken from the rear of the display, so I wouldn't be blocking the spotlights. I just love the patterns on this egg!

Philippe was having problems with blogger, trying to upload his pictures, so I found a way to upload them differently. You can view the whole set here. He'll add his comments when he gets a chance to, later. :-)

Philippe: I got a 90mm 1:1 Tamron macro lens because they were absolutely *out* of the cheaper nikkor 60mm micro. This lens rocks :D

The lens is a bit of a pig, so I have to use either a tripod, high ISO or a flash... The cat did not appreciate my choice here ;)

*NO* clue what this bug is, but I liked the focus point.. Manual is almost mandatory with this lens as auto hunts for a while.

Synthetic Bismuth; again, with the manual focus set a little within the structure. I think I'll be kissing this lens goodnight for a while.

Gypsum.. Pretty... monosyllabic...

This was one of my first tests of the lens.. "Don't... move.. the pencil....." :P

Friday, May 30, 2008

90:365 Talking back.

Anna: We didn't head out at all today, as we normally do on Fridays. My shift last night ended shortly after 1am, and I was just too achy and tired to head out.

Our younger daughter loves jigsawpuzzles. The only flat surface we have that's large enough for them is the box the BBQ came in - and it can be tucked away under the back of the desk at the end of the day. So every day, she slides out the box, grabs a folding chair and brings out the plaid seat cushion she won as a door prize during this year's Robbie Burns Day supper.

Tiger, we've discovered, loves the seat cushion. As soon as my daughter leaves the chair, the cat will jump up and position herself in the hollow left by the "doughnut hole" in the middle. I had tried a few shots when I guess she got tired of me, so she turned around and positioned herself like this, with her head under the back support of the chair, and started listening to my daughter, who was standing behind me and talking to her.

Then she started to talk back. *L*

Thursday, May 29, 2008

89:365 - Higher Learning - updated: Morning Walk

Higher learning takes a sharp left turn.... :D

Philippe: Not sure if this was supposed to be higher learning or 'advanced worship', but it's still funny :D

Anna: Had another sleepless night, so I went for an early morning walk in the river valley. It helped. :-D The following pictures are from my walk.

I almost wore this guy before I saw him. Do you have any idea how hard it is to focus on something that's swinging? I'm sure you do! *L* This is one of a very few pictures that was at least partly in focus. :-D

During the walk, I passed several groups of bushes that were filled with birds. Mostly, I just heard them and saw the leaves moving after they fluttered away, but I did manage to actually see a few. I lightened this photo a bit, so the bird is actually more visible in this picture than it was IRL.

Here, I'm looking back towards home from one of several cliff points along the path. This point is a fair bit beyond where I took this picture a while ago. I'm about half way up the valley on this path, give or take a few feet.

I could hear the bird. I *knew* it was there. I could even tell which tree it was in. I still had to stand and stare for at least a minute before I spotted it. Ah, the joys of zoom. This photo also got lightened up a bit and the bird is more visible in the photo than what I was actually able to see when I took it.

I don't know what this bird is, but it has a voice about 3 times larger than its body. ;-) We have one that lives near our apartment. It starts singing every morning at about 3 am.

Every. Friggin'. Morning.

Guess how I know that? *grumblegrumble* Some mornings, it's so loud, I have to close the window so I can get back to sleep!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

88:365 End of the day.

Anna: Didn't get a chance to take photos while we were out and about, so I got some off our balcony. *L*

Can you come out and play?

When we first moved into our apartment, we were really impressed with the size of the balcony. My daughter's cat had been an outdoor cat for the last 3 years, and I knew she's miss it. We figured at least she'd be able to go onto the balcony and get some fresh air.

So shortly after the move, we'd let her onto the balcony with us. We promptly discovered that there's an open space along the rail at the wall separating our balcony from our neighbour's, and she could fit through. *L* We got her back and plugged the space and thought things would be fine.

Then this cat arrived. I think it lives in one of the ground floor apartments. Suddenly, Tiger was no longer on our balcony. She'd jumped from our 3rd floor balcony, to get at this cat.

Directly below us are patios with paving stones instead of grass.

I was able to catch her when she ran into the storage area of one of the patio areas, which happened to not have any tenants at the time. She had a bloody nose, a sore hip, and was very nervous. Nothing was broken, thank God, and she soon healed. It was over a year before we let her onto the balcony again, and she's constantly watched when we do.

Meanwhile, this cat still comes by.


Every evening at sunset, we get bright reflections off this downtown building. I like how the leaves seem to glow from the reflected light behind them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

87:365 A day at the museum

Anna: Lots of pictures today. The girls and I headed to a museum - I ended up taking some 180 photos alone, plus a couple of videos. (More photos available here.) I still need to go through them and toss the ones that didn't turn out. This museum has really excellent grounds, and we spent quite a bit of time getting pictures. It was a great way to avoid the three bus loads of school kids that were there at the same time. :-/ I have to admit, when I saw those three buses, I just about turned around and went home! *L* It worked out all right, though.

This is a Jeongja, a Korean pavilion built in the old way, using joining techniques and no nails. It's absolutely gorgeous, and I got lots of photos of it.

This is a detail of one of the faces on a Ksan totem pole.

There are a lot of statues on the grounds, and this is one of my favorites. There's just something about the upward turned face that I really like.

As we were waking into the building, in between the inner and outer doors, I spotted a sign on the wall I'd never noticed before. It turns out the stone on these walls are Tyndall Limestone from Southern Manitoba. The walls were filled with fossils of all kinds. The kids say this one looks like some types of bacteria.

Now I know what those fossils I'd been finding on Gimli Beach were. :-D

Before going to the front desk, the girls and I went to the cafe for lunch. We'd placed our order and were sitting at our table waiting for it, commenting on the changes since the last time we'd been there, when my younger daughter suddenly exclaims, "there's a whale on that lamp!"

Someone had taped a toy Sperm Whale onto the electrical cord of one lamp.


To make visitors wonder, perhaps? ;-D

The museum is setting up for a new theme of dragons next month. In the entry was a 1:4 model of a Korean turtle ship. The plexiglass covering the spikes is definitely needed - those things are real metal, and real sharp!

One of my favorite displays is the eggs. It's amazing how different they can be! I wasn't able to get shots of my very favorite, but I like this "painted" looking grackle egg, too.

Because of the lighting, I had to take these shots from the rear of the display, so they were upside down.

I couldn't resist adding this one of the girls. I thought it was just neat. :-D

There are several displays of these "floating" artifacts. One was all arrow heads, another spear heads, but I can't remember what type these ones were. Possibly fishing harpoons.

And finally, a guest photo from my younger daughter, a macro shot of one of the skulls they have on display for people to touch.

Monday, May 26, 2008

86:365 Waterfowl

Anna: Today wasn't a very prolific photo day for me at that park - I've already taken an awful lot of pictures of the same things already. I did get a few I liked.

I believe this is a male wood duck. Although I got better pictures of him, I like this one the best because of the motion.

correction: I now know this isn't a wood duck. I think it's a wigeon.

This is the first time I've seen a Common Goldeneye out of the water. This female decided to head in my direction, and had the most delightful, comical waddle.

This is the mate of the above mentioned female. I'd seen them stretch their necks out in an odd manner before, and couldn't quite figure out what they were doing. These ones were close enough to the shore that I was able to actually hear them. They make a quiet noise that I have difficulty describing - a sort of cross between a quack and a purr. *L* A rather pleasant sound, really.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

85:365 Downtown

Anna: The kids and I headed downtown to take in an event that turned out to not be running on Sunday. We still got a chance to get pictures, though. Our older daughter is really enjoying the new camera - her typical photo day would be just over 40 photos with the old camera, but for the last couple of days, she's been taking double that. :-D

Watch Your Step!

We all thought this piece of graffiti was very cool. I do wonder how they get onto the roofs of these places, though.

Eyes: Some graffiti can only be described as works of art. I love the detail on this guy! The eyes are really impressive.

Art: I walked right past this thing without noticing it. It was the girls that pointed it out to me. It's a piece called Hollow Point.

Uhm... ok.

Hockey Season: For the truly dedicated, hockey season never ends.

There's a square in the downtown core that is frequently booked for summertime events. Today, the square, 3 blocks of street around it, plus another block alongside the City Hall, which you can see in the background, were fenced off into hockey rinks. Two of the street sections had 3 rinks on them each.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

84:365 - Architecture

Morning walk; the light was a nice diffused grey, so eldest and I went photo hunting :)

Philippe: This little bit of architecture is just plain interesting to see. It's an innovative approach to ensuring a bit of light :D.

Philippe: This building is now closed down, but I've always appreciated the way they actually tiled the signs right into the wall :)

Philippe: Just a nice flower.

Philippe: The focus is a little interesting on this one as the wind was catching it so I ended up with a sharp focus on the side of the flower, and the rest diffusing out a bit.

Friday, May 23, 2008

83:365 Ingredients list

Anna: The girls and I were able to stop for lunch after our library trip. This is the ingredient's list on a bottle of carbonated mineral water.

You have to wonder when understanding an ingredients list requires knowing the periodic table.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

82:365 Testing

Anna: We discovered that our daughter's new Nikon D80 takes a different memory card than the D70. Instead, it takes the same type of card my Canon S3 uses. We had a card for her, but it was only 1G, so today we went looking for a larger memory card. We ended up getting a 4G card for her, and an 8G card for my S3, since I also use it to record videos.

This photo of a piece of watermelon was my test shot using the new memory card. Not a very good photo to start with, but after using the auto fix function on PSP X2, then using the one step digital noise removal, I liked it a lot better.

We also discovered that our computer's built in card reader doesn't "see" the high memory cards. We have to use the USB to upload the pictures from the camera, rather than directly off the card. That's going to eat up my batteries a bit faster. Ah, well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

81:365 Not what I intended

Anna: I was quite pleased with the yarn I'd used for the bag I'd made. I decided to take advantage of how it was so good at holding a shape and make another bag. What I had in mind was a round wrist bag with a drawstring top. As I was building up the sides, however, it occurred to me that a pop can would probably fit quite nicely inside it. Sure enough, it was the exact size for a pop can. So I ended up making an insulating can holder, instead.

I might actually make more of these. *L*

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

80:365 New camera

Anna: Today, after a bit of hoop jumping, we picked up our elder daughter's new camera. One of the benefits of living in Alberta is that it's the only province that funds home schoolers (rather than giving the funding to the schools they don't go to...). Through our school board, we were able to get a Nikon D80 with kit lens. Technically, the school board owns it - but then, technically, the school board owns the computer I'm posting this with, too.

It's a sweet deal, and I look forward to the work our daughter will do with it. Unfortunately, she wouldn't take it out of the bag for me to get a picture. She wants to take a picture of it herself. :-D

Monday, May 19, 2008


Philippe: They've got a new addition at the WestEd Mall fish tanks; this guy was thoroughly enjoying himself in the water movement :).

Philippe: The neat part of this one is the model fire escape bolted to the outside. According to the plaque, the model was created in 1930 ish (I think) as a marketing tool for the shop that created the actual fire escape for the building.

Philippe: I just can't resist a good starburst.. :P

Philippe: Old fashioned construction is such a marked difference from today's standards.. There's a real sense of solidity and stability from this brick building that just isn't there for me in the modern glass and plastic constructions.

Anna: I just couldn't do it.

Normally, I will at least resize my photos so they are smaller file sizes, faster loading, etc. They loose detail, though, and for these, I just couldn't bring myself to resize them.

Click on the photos to see them at 100%

Saturday, May 17, 2008

78:365 Random Acts of Kindness

Anna: Yesterday evening, both at and after work, was truly interesting, and showed me again why I have come to really enjoy people. I'm actually a hermit by nature. I would be quite happy sitting in a corner, interacting with no one, buried in a book or a craft. Over the years, I had reason to make the effort to reach out to people and discovered that, in general, people are really fantastic.

I found myself working a convention of some kind - the room was filled with vendor's booths and large equipment. Coring and drilling rigs, and contraptions with names like "Mud Puppy" and "Geoprobe" on them. I had only the vaguest idea what I was looking at, but still found them beautiful. I have a thing for heavy equipment. ;-)

For the most part, all we had to do was wander around, cleaning up glasses and plates from the many tables scattered around. There were also 2 large food tables with chefs cutting meats for the guests as needed, plus two other smaller food tables with chafers and staff serving out pieces of hand thrown pizza. There were 3 bars, too. Those of us who were wandering with trays would sometimes help those at the food tables, clearing away empty food trays and replacing them with fresh.

In the back, where only the staff goes, the kitchen and dishwashing staff were kept hopping, making sure we servers had plenty of space on these great rolling shelf units, taking away and replacing them as soon as they were filled. At one point, I was walking back towards where these were kept, just as one of the kitchen staff was rolling a shelf away in the other direction. As we crossed paths the guy looks up at me, then suddenly smiles, reaches onto a tray, grabs one of the fresh flowers that were part of the decorative display and handed it to me, with a cheerful compliment. I thought that was pretty sweet, and I ended up wearing the flower tucked into my name tag for the rest of the evening.

The convention shut down at 11pm. By then a lot of the staff were sent home, having started much earlier in the day than I did. Even so, the few of us that were left were able to get everything cleared and put away before midnight.

It was a gorgeous, warm evening, so I waited for Philippe outside the building. As I was sitting, watching the classic and muscle cars cruising by (they seem to all come out on friday nights. :-D), I heard a loud bang. Looking over, I saw a guy had opened the lid to one of the garbage cans in front of the building and was rifling through it. The noise I'd heard was the lid falling and hitting a post. I've seen people going through garbage cans before, and this guy wasn't at all like any of them. He was well groomed and well dressed, wearing a backpack on his back and carrying a plastic bag for his finds. I think he was gathering plastic recyclables. No big deal. I go back to watching the traffic.

A minute or so later, he came up to me. Seeing my uniform, he thought I might be security (which I found kind of funny - banquet staff wear formal clothing; tuxedo shirts and bowties). He wanted to let someone know that he'd found a "50 pounder" 0f Morgan in the garbage can. With it being grad season, he thought it might be good to warn someone that there was probably a guest - or 5 - that was really drunk. We started joking around about just how sick drinking that much would make someone - and that hopefully, the person would learn their lesson and never drink that much again! Then he moved on.

Moments later, he's back - wearing a black plastic top had and carrying a gorgeous, long stemmed rose with bud, pictured here. He asked me if I was on my way home, and I said I was. He then offered me the rose. The rose and hat had been left on a bench nearby, and he thought I might like it. As he hands it to me, joked, "just to show how much I love you." Suddenly, he doffed his hat, struck a pose and began to sing,

"Just to show how much I love you,
Just to show how much I care..."

He then asked if I remembered that old vaudeville song. I had just been thinking that it sounded familiar, too. So we laughed and joked some more, before he headed off down the street, still wearing the shiny black plastic top hat.

And I have a beautiful white rose.

Friday, May 16, 2008

77:365 Italia

Anna: I missed out on posting yesterday. Not only did I not take a picture, I was hardly up at all. :-/ I had a late shift the night before and got home at 2am. That, in itself, wasn't a big deal. It's just that I was on my feet the entire time, and I'd forgotten to bring my painkillers. Arthritis sucks. So I slept in, more or less, but was in such a fog after I got up, I finally gave up and went for a nap. You know those sleeps where your dreams are so busy, you wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed? By the time I got my butt in gear, I ended up having to rush to get to work.

Thankfully, though, last night's shift was a lot easier. I got to count cutlery for most of it. Then I got to polish cutlery. I even got home before midnight! Not too shabby. :-D

This is one of my favorite pairs of earrings. I like to wear them for work, because they're so simple, elegant and professional. No worries about loosing them, either. They have the most unusual clasp - I've never seen anything like them before or since.

They were sent to me as a gift from my penpal in Italy, some 20 years ago. I was about 15 when we first started writing to each other - back when home computers were almost unheard of, and writing involved pen and paper, then waiting for the post. *L* Now, we can email each other. I even bought a new web cam so we can see each other and talk. I need to figure out how to use Skype.