Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Fisheye Christmas!!

 Jeffrey and I's birthdays both fall in December and with Christmas at the end of the month as well, December ends up being a month full of celebrations, family and presents. This year since we are spending Christmas in Alberta with Jeffrey's family, so my parents came down to the coast to visit us during my birthday weekend to celebrate our birthdays and Christmas together.
We dined out for my birthday, had family over for brunch and even hit the Vancouver Christmas Market (though the market nearly didn't happen because of my mom's bad knee, but she was a trooper and we made it out for just a quick lap around to help get in the Christmas spirit). For Christmas, my parents got us a fisheye lens for the digital camera and I have been having fun playing with it ever since!
So here are our Merry fisheye Christmas wishes to you and yours!
~ MelRoy

Jeffrey hams it up for the lens

So many beautiful displays! These are actually soap!

An overly happy, but adorable Gingerbread Man greets vistors

An old time carousel for the kiddies

Giant nutcracker statues keep an eye on things

What are you looking at?

The giant Christmas tree- I can only imagine how beautiful this is at night

WAW - Ornaments & Holiday Lights

Over the holidays we received two weekly assignments that were a little time sensitive (so folks like me couldn't procrastinate like usual) - "Ornaments" and "Holiday Lights". Though I guess the "Holiday Lights" assignment could probably be put off for a few months before people actually take down their light displays in March or so. ;)
The majority of my ornament photos were taken back at home or at the Christmas Market. I had high hopes of getting some better ornament photos at Crazy Christmas Lady's House (a friend of Jeffrey's family whose house looks like Christmas literally exploded all over it!), but because there was so much stuff, I really had a hard time focusing on or creating good framing on any one thing.

I haven't been able to get many holiday light photos either as we don't have our tripod with us, and the cold Alberta nights don't lend well to holding a camera still for a long period of time (if only I could stop shivering). For now, here is my favourite shot from a neighbor across the street from Jeffrey's parents' place.

I really wanted to try out a homemade "shaped bokeh filter" on the Christmas tree lights, but we'll have to see if  a) I can actually pull it off, and b)  I manage to find the time to do it. In the meantime, we found a neat pair of glasses that look similar to the old 3D movie glasses but actually make any lights look like stars. I was playing with them and wondered what would happen if I put them in front of my camera lens.
Here is the result... fun, hey?!

Friday, December 23, 2011

WAW - Zoom & By Request

Last summer the Weekly Assignment was to ask other people for "requests" of what they would like to see us photograph. My friend Aleta asked for a "zoomed out" photo in which each shot gets progressively more and more zoomed out until it finally reveals a larger frame shot. The request was inspired by a book we used in our post-graduate studies during the summer called "Zoom" by Istvan Banyai (here is a summary or a video of the book). Of course Banyai's zoomed out pictures are far more impressive; but I think I managed alright with the assignment (even if it is only a few months late). This was one of the toughest assignments yet, because the settings for a close-up are quite different than the settings for larger framed shot. The toughest part was adjusting for the lighting and white balance to maintain similar colours as I got further and further away; but I definitley learned a lot about the settings and abilities of my camera.
Conveniently, a few weeks after the "Request" assignment, Michelle chose the "Zoom" subject for a weekly assignment. So yet again, I get to hit two assignments with one post. Boo-ya!

This is the Christmas tree at my in-law's house. I love the little village built around the bottom. I actually took some photos of this with my Olympus Pen F two years ago when we were back for Christmas. This gave me a neat way to look at and photograph it again.

Photos taken with DigitalSLR Canon Rebel XS, Mosaic created with PhotoFiltre
p.s. I am adding on this mini zoom-mosaic that I did at the Crazy Christmas lady's house (as in "crazy about Christmas" not "mentally unstable") just because it is fun. Those little blurry figures in the middle are little figure skaters that spin around on the mirror when you turn it on. More on the Crazy Christmas Lady to follow.

This mosaic was created with Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WAW - Message

I can't believe that it has been over a month since I have posted here! The madness of December (and the lead up to it) really seemed to be multiplied in our house this year between me finishing up my post graduate program (yay!), the end of the school term, a big move for Jeffrey at work, both of our birthdays, a visit from my parents... oh yeah, and that whole Christmas thing too. But now we are officially on holidays and relaxing in the snowy homeland of Jeffrey at his parent's place in Alberta. I intend to do some serious photo-catch-up.

So to begin, a weekly assignment from ages ago - "Message".

I feel that I am extremely fortunate to work at a school that values and encourages altruism in all sorts of ways. We are school a of mixed means and the emphasis is often placed on helping others in whatever way you can. In fact, part of our school motto is - "Take care of others, Take care of yourself, and Take care of this place." I mean, doesn't that just sum it all up in the simplest of terms?
And so I went to work armed with my camera and tried to capture in whatever way I could, the ways that this important message is shared.
Three of my students who participated in the "Vow of Silence" put on by the Free the Children Campaign. Students go silent (no talking, no texting, no emailing, etc) for 24 hours to raise awareness for children in the world who can not speak up to protect their rights.

A rainbow of student & teacher hands in our main foyer, each one indicating something they have done to "make the world a better place". Isn't it beautiful?

My dear friend Michelle (organizer extrodinaire of Weekly Assignment Wednesday) used another example from our school for her "Message" assignment as well. She featured photos of students participating in the Love Is Louder Campaign earlier this year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Auntie Em, Auntie Em, It's a twister!

While sitting at home enjoying a quiet day on the couch, I looked out the window in time to see the craziest weather pattern I think that I have ever seen! First it started to pour rain (like in buckets), then the sun came out and shone so brightly that I nearly pulled out my sunglasses, then just as suddenly the wind picked up and started to blow like I had never seen it before. It was sheer madness!
So of course, I grabbed my camera and ran outside.
I just barely caught the end of the sun against the grey sky contrast, and by the time the leaves really started to blow, the sun had gone away. Because I ran out so quickly and was trying to catch a moment, I put my camera on auto white balance and just snapped away. The result was some pictures with interesting movement, but not great white balance or colour. So, although I usually try to create the right photo within the camera, rather than doing it afterwards in a photo editor... due to my lack of experience and general rushed-ness in this situation, the photos needed a little help. I think it was worth it.

All photos taken with my digital SLR Canon Rebel XS and edited with Photofiltre

WAW - "Significant" (Lest We Forget)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
- John McCrae

On this day of remembrance, we pay tribute to the men and women who have served to keep us safe and to protect our rights and freedoms. Every year I tell my students about how both my grandfathers served in WWII, and how they went into Europe on D-day (one in France, the other in Holland) and put their lives in danger to stand up against hatred and tyranny. This year, after hearing my stories, the students got together and made a card for me to send to my grandpa from them; the front of the card reads "You're our Hero" and inside each of them wrote a message of Thanks for my grandpa - thanking him for fighting for their freedom, for making Canada and the world a better place, for standing up for their rights. I was moved to tears, and I can hardly wait to send it in the mail to my Pa so that he can know that their sacrifices are still appreciated and remembered today.
So for my weekly assignment "Significant" in which we were to photograph something that may be seemingly insignificant but actually held much significance, I chose to take a photo of my students all wearing their poppies in rememberance of our veterans.
Because a new generation of people choosing to remember, that's pretty significant.

Photo taken with my digital SLR Canon Rebel XS

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WAW - Autumn

Please sit down before you read this... because it may shock you, and I don't want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt. Ready? Ok...
This weekly assignment was actually completed... on time! I know, astonishing right?
Well, since the assignment "Autumn" is time sensitive, and because it is also perfectly timed right now as the leaves are changing and the sun has been shining... I think it would have taken more effort NOT to complete it on time. In our "photo group" where we post our assignments, we are only supposed to post 3 examples, but I had more that I wanted to share... so you guys get them all! Lucky ducks.

That last picture also actually fulfills another weekly assignment - "By Request" where my friend and colleague Danielle requested a photo of something humerous. When a pumpkin makes me laugh out loud and still chuckle everytime I see the photo... that counts as humerous!

All photos taken with my digital SLR Canon Rebel XS

Saturday, November 5, 2011

WAW - Cameras

Sometime back, I tried to post a photo of all of our cameras. But the quality and the set up wasn't great. When the Weekly Assignment of "Cameras" came up, I was super excited to take some shots of our "babies". Unfortunately, the assignment came out exactly 1 day after I had packed up all of our cameras (except the ones we use most frequently) for the move. So I had to wait until we were moved in, and unpacked before I could really complete this assignment. But it was worth the wait.
Here are our camera "babies" (we actually have a few more, but I didn't include and duplicate cameras, and of course I was using the digital, so that isn't in there either).

About four of these get regular usage. The others either don't have enough manual settings or we can't get film for them anymore. But we love them all the same.
My next project is going to be learning how to use the old Super 8 video camera my grandpa gave me. Some day.

WAW - A Day in the Life

This autumn, though beautiful, has been jam packed with stuff... you know, just life stuff that gets in the way of posting here, or taking photos, or visiting with friends, or reading, or painting, or cooking, or doing some of those things that I just love to do to keep my sanity. Most of the stuff is good stuff - like moving into a new apartment, and the rest of it is just fact-of-life stuff - like taking on more responsibility at work.
But I feel like this weekend is the first weekend where life is starting to feel back to normal.
So what better time to catch up on my blog posts, and my weekly assignments?
I am really behind on weekly assignments, but I am still powering through and doing as much as I can. Since I have been so focused on getting my life back to normal, I thought it would only be natural to post my photos from the weekly assignment "A Day in the Life".
Here is a day in my life...

All photos taken with my DSLR Canon Rebel XS. Mosaic created with Big Labs Mosaic Maker.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Paris Highlights

 These are two of my favourite shots from Paris. I still am not sure that I really know what I am doing with this whole photography thing, but these two photos give me some hope. I am so thrilled with how they turned out.

I have no idea what this second building is, but I was obsessed with it during our visit (and it's not just cause I can totally imagine myself being a bohemian artist of the past sitting in one of the windows painting or writing poetry as Jeffrey creates beautiful music...). I loved the way the light hit and reflected off of it, and how that would change the entire feel of the building and the city.
I am already wanting to go back there. *le sigh*

Olympus Pen F - Fuji Colorsuperia film

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WAW - Broken

I really wish that I was one of those people that was always on top of things. One of those people who can do like a million different things and do them all well. I wish that I could keep a cleaner house, cook all my own dinners, bake delicious treats for friends, and make incredible crafts, cards or clothes with my hands.
I wish that I was one of those people that could actually keep up on my weekly assignments.

But I am not one of those people. And one of these days, I will learn to accept this and stop beating myself up for it (not literally of course).
Until that day, here is my shamefully late Weekly Assignment - Broken.

We had someone come in to trim one of the trees out at our family cabin in the Okanogan. At one point he cut off a particularly large branch, which fell directly onto our brick campfire pit. No one was really too upset though since my mom has been wanting a new fire pit, and I had the perfect subject for my weekly assignment!

This also fills one of the requirements for a very old weekly assignment - Requests. One of the requests was for "something broken" (thanks Michelle for giving me an easy out on that one).
I am still working on the rest of the request list which included:
something humerous,
zoom-out photos (progressively more & more zoomed out),
favourite things I use everyday,
insect battle royale (I almost had shots for this one, but didn't get my camera out quick enough!),
shoes or cocktails or jewelry,
my dad giving my husband a noogie (that one might be even tougher than an insect battle!)

Weekly Assignments shot with my DSLR Canon Rebel XS

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tally-ho, pip-pip and all that...

Whenever I see a carousel, I think of that scene in Mary Poppins where they ride off of the carousel and along the animated English country side right into a horse race that Mary Poppins, of course, wins (sorry for the spoiler).
When we came across this carousel in Paris, I was a little disappointed that I had black & white film in my camera... but in the end, I actually really like the results. They feel old and ironic somehow (though I am sure an English teacher somewhere would tell me that there is nothing ironic about these photos and that I clearly don't actually know what the word means).
But here they are anyway...

Taken with my Olympus Pen F - Kodak BW400CN

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The view from the top

After an exhausting first week back to work, and a busy (but very enjoyable) Saturday, I woke up this morning craving this view with some French pastries and coffee.
Vancouver is a beautiful city and we are enjoying a very late summer right now, so I am not complaining.... there is just something about enjoying the view and the food on holidays that makes it all the more sweet.

Photo by Jeffrey with his Pentax K1000 - fuji color superia 

P.S. Even the birds are different in the south of France. They would whip around the hilltop where we were staying, at top speeds chasing each other around, and not once would they even pause to look at our tasty pastries. They simply did not pay attention to us at all.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WAW - Slow Shutter Speeds

Ok, so I know that the purpose of the Weekly Assignments is to try new things and learn about my camera and photography. But I am falling very far behind and with the beginning of the new school year already in full swing, I fear that my chances of catching up are slim.
So I cheated a bit... but just a little. This week's assignment is "slow shutter speeds" which I have to admit is one of my least favourite things in taking pictures. I rarely have a tripod with me, and I am terribly impatient. So, I was dreading this assignment a little.
Then I saw this post about abstract photos on Photography Blogger - a photo blog that I follow, and it got me thinking... about some pictures that I took in the past. And yes, also some pictures that I could try out in the future.
Last Christmas when my digital camera was new, I was trying to learn about all the different settings and how it all worked. So I was playing with the shutter speeds and experimenting with "fun tricks" I could do with it - a luxury the film cameras don't allow me. These are the shots I got:

"Light Painting" with Christmas Tree Lights

None of these penguins was actually lit at the same time! Sans tripod - not too bad.
Yes, I would still like to play more with low shutter speed and maybe try out some of those abstract photos, but in due time my friends, in due time.

All photos taken with my Digital SLR Canon Rebel XS

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Things that make you go hmmm....

I have said many times before,  and I'll say it again - one of the things that I love about film is it's unpredictability. Though sometimes this can result in disappointment (which I am starting to encounter less and less these days), it can also result in these wonderful textures or effects or feelings that add so much to the picture, but that are completely accidental. Maybe one day I will actually learn how to take photos like this "on purpose".

Olympus Pen F, Kodak BW400CN

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vivre la France, Vivre la plage!

We are heading to the Okanogan today to spend my final weekend of freedom with my parents in the warm Okanogan sunshine. My family has a cabin on Okanogan lake that is absolute paradise. It is hands down my favourite place in the world. (I have some posts from my last visit there in the archives from last September)
Though, looking back at these pictures from the Mediterranean, I might start to consider a close second. *love*

I took 3 shots of this boat to make sure I would get a good one!

Olympus Pen F - Fuji 200 Color Superia

Jeffrey also took a great shot of that boat from the other side on the digital (Canon Rebel XS)