The Forks

Fall is here. 

I often forget that I live a short walk from a National Historic Site, and an even shorter walk to a beautiful riverside walkway.

Stairs into the city

My “red chair moment”

Changing of the seasons, as witnessed by the shoreline

“Man’s Trail”, a replica gambling stick, by artist Robert Houle

It was a leisurely stroll. The only disappointment was the detour for food, drink, and candy at the Forks Market.

But I got to end it off by seeing the sky on fire on the way home, with a stark reminder that winter is right around the corner. 

Lorelei, the harbinger of winter

Rando Photo 1: Songkran on the Moat (3238)

I have a lot of photos that I do nothing with. That’s not to say they’re bad photos, just that I don’t do much with them once they’re off my camera.

Inspired by an offhand comment by Xeni Jardin, I’m just going to put some out there. Mostly for me, and if anyone else likes them then great.

So I picked a random number – 3238, and checked my hard drive for that photo.

Loi Krathong on the Moat, Chiang Mai (2011)
Loi Krathong on the Moat, Chiang Mai (2011) [IMGP3238]
My wife walked in while I had this photo open, and said “I recognize that — it’s Chiang Mai!” The Flight of the Gibbon banner was the giveaway, even though it’s an attraction we never took in.

This was in the middle of Loi Krathong. While we were there, we were told the whole festival was Loi Krathong — loi being the paper lantern and krathong being the “boats” made of coconut leaves and trunks, holding flowers and candles.

Wikipedia tells me that’s not entirely accurate, with it actually being the confluence of two festivals — Loi Krathong (the floating basket festival) and Yi Peng (the floating lantern festival).

There’s obviously a bit more to the festivals than these rudimentary descriptions, and we were lucky enough to be hanging out with people from our school who explained the personal and spiritual significance of the festival(s). They both generally had to do with cleansing, and letting go of negativity through symbolic action.

Releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)
Releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)

After the description of the festival, we we honoured to make krathongs with our gracious hosts. I’ll post more about that later, as it’s a thing unto itself.

A few more khom loi shots:

Kelly, releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)
Kelly, releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)

Khom Loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)
Khom Loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)

august long redux (found on roadside edition)

There was more to the August long weekend than I let on here.

Part of the 1,200km of driving was a 10-hour trip within the trip, to visit an aunt and uncle in Saskatchewan for a celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. As my uncle mentioned in his speech, it’s not very often we see an anniversary of 50 years, but it’s even less often that a parent of one of the celebrants is alive to see it; his mother is still alive and kicking at 107 years old.

According to Statistics Canada she has already lived three-quarters longer than the life expectancy for a woman born in 1908. Statistically most of her peer group wouldn’t even have lived to see my uncle’s fifth wedding anniversary.

Along the way to the party we decided to selfie-document the trip:

Hour 0: Welcome to Saskatchewan. Watch out for fire-farting birds.


Hour 2: Grenfell. Land of…well, land.


Hour 10: Back in Manitoba. Someone was sleeping in the car…


Another roadside attraction encountered was the field of sunflowers in all their beauty, and while not as breathtaking, I also took a much more interesting photo of them.

This is with the same camera, #nofilter:

Sunflowers, 1970's style

I love it because it inexplicably feels like a grainy Polaroid from the 1970’s. Just as the other sunflower photo, this was taken with my iPhone, within a meter or two of the other location.

To get the same feel with my Pentax, I had to tweak some of the lighting in post-production, but here’s my attempt at retro bad photography:

sunflowers, aged
sunflowers, aged

I actually like it because it has similar (though more vibrant) colour, but it doesn’t have the grainy blur that the pixelation gave the other one.

And to prove I didn’t just travel back in time to get 70’s light everywhere, here’s the before and after of my modified photo:

sunflowers, before and after
sunflowers, before and after


The chickens are now safely in our freezer. Plenty of feet, liver, and meat to take us into winter.

We also got a handful of gizzards in the mix, which Kelly made up popcorn chicken style (along with popcorn olives and yams). Yum! It was the first time we’d had gizzard, and based on the prep necessary, probably the last. But if you’re looking for a good way to prepare chicken gizzard (or probably anything, really), try battering and deep frying.

meeting the city

If there is one thing that characterizes my travels, it is wandering. Exploring. Finding the nooks and crannies of new and old cities. Including my own.


I love glancing — and walking — down back alleys to see what’s there, climbing hills and objects to get another view, and — when I have my camera in hand — being a tourist wherever I am.

I love the beauty of nature and of urban portraits.


I love the familiar and lifeless made personal. The transformation from forgettable background to memories. From downtown back alley to “the back alley with numbers written on the metal door that’s sunken into the wall. There was a piece of ice hanging onto its anchor for dear life, dancing around in the wind, right over there.”


illumination | photo challenge

Old NO. 7 (illumination)

I wanted to start the photo challenge again, and thought bottles of liquor would work well with the theme of “illumination”, giving a chance (and challenge) to work with the various shapes and colours that are out there.

I went with Bombay Sapphire and Jack Daniels, as the gin bottle is a lovely blue with clear liquid, and the whiskey bottle has such a distinctly recognizable shape.

Steve let me use a few of his softboxes for the shoot, along with one of his speedlights. My main focus was the Bombay Sapphire bottle, as it nearly glows when you use the light properly. The Jack was a bit of a disappointment, as the bottle and liquid are both dark, so try as I might, the light would just get sucked up with nothing but glare to show for it.

This shot was the surprise of the night, though — cropping a shot of the entire bottle just above the shoulder, as I really liked the colour of the whiskey in the neck (this is what I had been hoping for with the whole bottle, and might still go for by removing the label), as well as the look of their trademark “No. 7”.

The original shot also works well when cropped just above the main label, as it’s more recognizable as a bottle of whiskey (and still a compelling photo), so I might put that up later for comparison.

in-flight groovie

April 27, 2012

it’s an odd feeling to go for a stroll in the middle of the night on an airplane and realize that the window covers are blocking mid-day sunlight. 4AM is no longer such in this state of timezone flux.

the plan is to stay up all “night” so that we can easily get back on the Manitoba clock when we hit the land of the free. we’re arriving at 7-something PM Vancouver time, having left 11:55PM that same night Taipei time. it’ll do a number on you, for sure.

to keep myself busy and awake, i’m skimming through the last seven months of photos from life and vacations, picking the keepers for a slideshow this weekend. luckily for me, the in-flight entertainment system includes new albums (I didn’t even know half of them had been released, since I’ve been completely out of the loop in the past year) from Coldplay, The Black Keys, and Florence + the Machine, and others.

Every time I listen to the Black Keys, I wonder why I don’t listen to them incessantly. They’re so much fun with just the right grit thrown in.

Back to the photos. At the rate I’m going through them right now, I might actually have some to post in the next few days. I’m already over a month behind in sharing photos from the dance exchanges we hit in Vietnam and Cambodia, so that’ll probably be my next photo culling/posting project.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam
March 11-14, 2012
Temp: 13-19°C

The first stop on our dance-fueled tour of South-East Asia was Hanoi, Vietnam. There was no dancing, but there were friends and relaxing, which was exactly what we needed.

We stepped off the plane and realized very quickly that we should have checked the weather report before packing our carry-on bags. Luckily, we had each packed a pair of jeans and a light sweater, though that almost didn’t happen since we were coming from a very hot and dry stint (mid to high 30s) in Kanchanaburi.

After getting through Vietnamese Passport Control, we were welcomed by our hosts, Dan and Michelle. While I had met them once before, quite a while ago, I didn’t really know who they were when we landed. That changed quickly, as the entire four days we spent with them were like days spent with good friends.

Our view in Hanoi.

After relaxing and being introduced to Avatar: The Last Airbender, we saw a bit of the town, took in a tourist attraction or two, and took a few photos. Some activity-specific posts will come in time, but here I wanted to show an overview of our time in Hanoi.

The places we’ve been in South East Asia all have their similarities in architecture (among other things), but Vietnam is the place where the narrow building was king — even in establishments where you wouldn’t expect them to settle with a narrow plot of land.

A single-wide hotel in Hanoi.

Yes, it does look like this hotel only has one room per floor. And yes, this was a common sight with businesses and homes in Vietnam. They likely had more rooms in the back, but nothing like the hotels we were used to seeing in Bangkok — let alone Canada.

There were some attractions that were easier to discover than others, and this one kind of snuck up on us as we were walking along the lake in the touristy area of Hanoi:

Beside the naga bush was a symbol of Vietnam’s place in the world. Or, at least an artist’s rendition of Vietnam’s place in the world.

Sometimes the best scenes unfold around you when you least expect it. We were walking along, on the way to some delicious Papa Roti, when a wall of balloons appeared in the road ahead. It was one of those times I was very happy to have my camera at hand.

And finally, a visit to the lake temple wouldn’t be complete without some serious pondering, courtesy of Kelly.

Our time in Hanoi was short, but it was just what we needed after the last few months and weeks of being on the go in Thailand and before the next few weeks of dancing and being on the go in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Pentax K-x memory card problem: solution update

I’ve long since fixed the memory card problem I was having five months ago with my new Pentax K-x, but I just realized I hadn’t updated the saga on here.

I left it in Part 2 with a possible solution and a new approach to memory card management. It’s been working fine since updating the firmware and formatting the card in-camera a few times. Since then I’ve relaxed my proposed approach without any problems. Specifically:

  • I have plugged the SD card directly into my computer’s card reader for importing, and this has not been a problem;
  • I have deleted individual photos in-camera without problems;
  • I have deleted all photos in-camera through the “Delete All Photos” menu option without problems.

So, really, it looks like it was a firmware update that did it. Update the firmware in your cameras, kids. And format your memory cards in-camera before using them.

I’ve taken thousands of photos on that card since fixing the problem, so it’s definitely working as it should.