Sunday, December 30, 2007

One of the reasons I won't be moving back to Ontario anytime soon

On the 27th we drove to Waterloo from Toronto. Along the way there was a storm of flurries resulting in poor visibility and generally nasty weather. In our entire week in Ontario we've seen no sunshine and only dull gray skies. I've been uninspired, so photographically speaking the week has been a bust. I'm hoping Alberta will be better.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-70.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope that everyone gets a chance to spend some time with their family (or away from their family if that's what makes them happy) and folks have a safe and restful holiday.

Tomorrow is Boxing Day in Canada (and a few other Commonwealth countries). In the past I've spent boxing day getting up early and hunting for deals on various cool electronic gadgets. Futureshop started their web boxing day specials yesterday. I looked through for some deals. Sadly after comparing even their door crasher prices to what I could get from various online retailers back home it doesn't seem worthwhile, especially if one has to start lining up before 6 am.

Starting tomorrow we'll be out and about visiting friends and family in the Southern Ontario area.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-70@54mm, f/8, 1/50s, ISO 3200.

P.S. The picture is of an angel perched atop the Christmas tree.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Favourite Holiday Past-time

Playing video games is probably my favourite past-time. Its usually the only time of year that I have the time to pretty much sit around and do nothing, thus indulging in a little gaming can be done without much guilt. I remember from my days in University where I would even plan out the game I wanted to play during the holidays in advance. Some of my favourite holiday games from the past are Wing Commander IV (1995), C&C: Red Alert (1996), Total Annihilation (1997), Starcraft (1998), Homeworld (1999), Diablo II (2000), Civilzation III (2001), Warcraft III (2002) and Civilzation IV (2005). In 2003 I played no games (nor did much of anything else) as I worked feverishly through the holidays to complete a paper submission, and in 2004 I spent the holidays in India. All of the games I have played in the past have been PC games, however in the last couple of years I've all but stopped playing PC games. I was fortunate enough to get a Nintendo Wii this summer so this holiday season I'll be playing Wii games, though I still haven't discovered what the killer Wii game that will occupy my time will be.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-70 @ 24, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 1600.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sitting in the Vegas airport

I have decided I like McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, for mainly two reasons:
  1. They have free wi-fi Internet. Its not the fastest in the world, but hey its free.
  2. Where else can you compose a shot to include slot machines and flight information screens?
Well our red-eye to Toronto departs in about 40 minutes. That slot player is Kim by the way. Maybe I'll kill more time with pointless web surfing...

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-70@70mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 1600.

Last Minute Birding

Kim and I are just about to leave for the airport on our trip to Canada. We both came home early to take care of a few things before heading to the airport. I noticed a few birds hanging out in the backyard and went out to try and grab a shot or two.

Anyway for the next while, hopefully there will be pictures from Canada. I am actually looking forward to the snow and yes even the cold.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 300 f/2.8 IS + 2x TC, f/6.3, 1/1250s, ISO 1600.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Moon at Dusk

It rained the entire day today. However around 4 things started to clear up a little and there was a nice sunset. As I came home I saw and heard several birds hanging out in the backyard. Unfortunately by the time I got out there with my camera, they were gone. Hence the picture of the moon. One of the nice things about a day of rain is that it tends to clear the air of other aerosols. In fact if it were a clear night tonight I bet the viewing would be pretty good. I think the results are pretty good considering this was shot hand held.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 300 f/2.8 IS + 2x TC, f/7.1, 1/800s, ISO 800.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Showing Holiday Spirit

Most people string up a few lights, maybe toss a reindeer or two on the lawn and then there's those folks who take holiday decorating quite seriously. I've driven past this house several times in the last month or so and its always catches my eye. I wonder how much their power bill runs them...

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24L, f/2.2, 1/50s, ISO 1600.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I've been playing around with trying to photograph this bottle of scotch the last couple of days. I been having a lot of trouble with the reflections, especially the light reflecting off the back window. What I really need is a nice backdrop to put behind.

This result isn't too bad. Its not that great either, there's still a lot of reflections all over the place. I used one strobe with a reflector umbrella bouncing off the wall to the right. I think for ideal conditions here's what I would want:
              • One softbox at the right with a reflector on the left. The softbox should give nice diffuse lighting and a key light on the bottle while the reflector should provide adequate fill for the front of the bottle and glass
              • A backdrop and sides to get rid of errant reflections
I'll have to try this again in a few months.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 85L, f/4, 1/4s, ISO 400, strobes fired.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Purple Daisy

Took these this afternoon in the front yard. I'm finding the MT-24 flash works much better with the stofen omni-bounce; I really like the results now (less harsh).

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 180mm macro, f/16, 1/300s, ISO 800, MT-24 flash.

RCX400 Clutch Upgrade

Yesterday afternoon I performed the Declination clutch upgrade on my RCX400. The upgrade basically involves removing the clutch plate, cleaning off all the grease, installing a piece of cork to act as a 'dry clutch' and re-greasing the gears.

The instructions were well written and I had no problems. It took me about 80 minutes to do the whole thing (longest part was removing all the old grease from the various parts).

Since the pictures in the instructions were from an LX200 and weren't of the highest quality, I took a series of shots and have posted a guide to the upgrade.

This particular picture was taken after installing the cork and re-greased parts. At this point all that was left to do was test it out and put the cover back on.

With the upgrade the clutch seems to work a lot better and doesn't require me to over-tighten the Dec. knob in order to avoid slippage.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-70 @ 70mm, f/4, 1/5s, ISO 800.

Friday, December 07, 2007


A little bored this afternoon so I decided to play around with the macro (which I haven't done in quite some time). This is a piece of orange pasta that we picked up in Italy last year.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 180mm macro, f/16, 1/200s, ISO 160, strobes.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Meade LX90

This is the telescope I've had for just a bit over 3 years. Today, I started gathering all the stuff that goes with it and started getting it ready to be shipped to its new owner.

I've had a lot of fun with this scope and though the RCX400 is a definite step up, I'll probably miss the LX90 (especially when I'm hauling the RCX onto its monster tripod).

Technical Specs: 1D3, 35L, f/7.1, 1/200s, ISO 200 (with strobes).

Safari pictures are finally up!

After a month of slacking (well I wasn't actually slacking just too busy to sit at a computer and process pictures all day), I've managed to get some of the pictures I took while on safari in South Africa up.

Overall, the results are decent, though none are going to win any prizes. I do wish I had more time to do a few more game drives.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4 TC (420mm equiv.), f/4.5, 1/500s, ISO 1600.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Black Phoebe

I photographed his Black Phoebe yesterday morning at the Palo Alto Baylands. He was an active little guy but he did manage to stay still for a brief moment.

People are sometimes curious why I bother with bird photography. It certainly seems like a hassle, getting up at the crack of dawn, hauling all that gear in the cold. I do it for a couple of reasons:
                • There is beauty in everything and birds (and wildlife) are no different, hence its worth photographing
                • I find it very relaxing. Its great to spend a couple of hours with very few people just waiting for a bird to return to a particular spot or look in a particular direction. It has a Zen quality to it.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 500mm f/4 + 1.4x TC (700mm equiv.), f/5.6, 1/320, ISO 800.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

California Condor at Pinnacles

This afternoon Kim and I went for a hike at Pinnacles National Monument. I brought along my camera in the hopes of getting a glimpse at the Condors that roost there. Right near high peaks we spotted a couple of the Condors flying around. I took a series of shots but this was the only one that turned out.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 300mm f/2.8 + 2x TC (600mm equiv.), f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 640.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Light with RCX400

Santa came early this morning and a Meade 10" RCX400 telescope showed up. I bought this used from a local bay area fellow. This evening, I quickly set it up (needed some help lifting with Kim) and did a very quick auto alignment and checked the optics.

A couple of first impressions:
                • The tripod is seriously heavy and seriously solid. I am still surprised by just how sturdy it is.
                • The OTA is very heavy (85lb compared to the 32lb of my 8" LX90).
                • The combination of the optics, 10" aperture and 2" eyepieces make for a very pleasant viewing experience.
I didn't test the tracking performance or Go-to performance since the transparency wasn't that great and I didn't want to run the scope for too long.

I am planning on doing a bunch of preventative servicing before seriously using the scope, including replacing the plastic gears with steel ones, upgrading the RA clutch and installing Peterson handles.

Know anyone who wants an LX90 in great condition? :)

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 35L, f/2, 1/50s, ISO 800.