life Photography travel

Viva Las Vegas

I realize it has been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, but I’ve been busy!

New York, New York

Most recently I’ve found myself down in Mesquite, Nevada getting ready to watch my brother-in-law compete in the World Long Driving Competition.

Today my family and I drove to Las Vegas to take in the sights and sounds of the notorious city. I’d share everything that I did, but you know what they say about what happens in Vegas.

If you’re so inclined, you can check out and comment on some of my flickr photos from today’s travels.

Photography Sport

Glen Hutchinson in the World Long Drive Competition

My brother-in-law, Glen, was in Wyoming a couple weeks ago competing in an Open Long Drive competition and ended up winning a ticket to the Re/Max Long Drive World Championship Tournament in Mesquite, Nevada this October.

Glen Hutchinson in preparation for Long Drive Competition lists him as the Open Division Winner with a distance of 337 yds 24 inches. I’m looking forward to watching him progress through the 11 rounds that it takes to win the Championship in Mesquite.

(Photo credit to Glen’s talented wife Jackie Hutchinson. IMHO she’s the best photographer in Drayton Valley Okotoks.)


The Amazing Intelligent Resize

Currently if you have a large image that you need to make smaller for the web you can either scale it or crop it. Scaling makes everything smaller and cropping can cut out important content. This incredible video demonstrates an image re-sizing algorithm that is content-aware. It’s pretty cool and I figure it’s something that is going to make someone a boatload of money.

[Content Aware Image Sizing – YouTube]


TED Talk by Blaise Aguera y Arcas

What you are about to watch is truly remarkable, and it just gets better as it goes.

Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from [Flickr], Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo.

See more on Seadragon and Photosynth.


Flash Photography Tip

I just rediscovered a great photography tip. It involves setting the flash to fire at either the beginning or end of a long exposure.

But only when I read this article was I reminded that the rear flash on a long exposure can be a great way to expose those fun low light party situations.

For Nikon DSLR users, like myself:

“Press and hold the flash pop-up button, then rotate the thumbwheel. Try having the camera in the “M”, “A” “S” and “P” modes to see the different flash sync options in different modes.”

Instructions for other cameras are given in their comments.

This is something I learned some time ago but somehow neglected to put into actual use. Now that I’ve been reminded of it, it will change the way I use my on-camera flash; it will tide me over until I get that off-camera flash that I’ve been dreaming about.

documentary Photography Politics

The Kurds of Northern Iraq

During a seven-week stay in 2005 in Iraq, photojournalist Ed Kashi captured thousands of images that were used in this interesting flip-book style animation, “Iraqi Kurdistan“.

Iraqi Kurdistan is an expansive look into the daily lives of the Kurdish people of northern Iraq. These images provide an alternative perspective on a changing culture, one different from the destruction and discord that dominates so much media coverage of the region.

Here are policemen seated on the floor, eating lunch and laughing, old men taking care of their fields and young girls celebrating at a suburban birthday party.

There is also hardship and tribulation, to be sure; the Iraqi Kurds endured generations of brutality under Saddam Hussein. His genocidal campaigns cost close to 200,000 lives. But as Iraqi Kurdistan documents, the region is mostly peaceful today. The people enjoy more autonomy and women’s rights continue to grow stronger.

Very compelling on a social studies level, but also I also found the images themselves to be fantastic—they are not only beautiful but also capable of stirring a variety of emotions.

I had a hunch he was using a Canon 5D and though I’m still not 100% sure, I saw the Canon logo in one of the photos with a mirror in it. I would love to get myself one of those.


April Snow

Snowy Travels

They say April showers bring May flowers. What does April snow bring?


Flickr Safe Searches

Lately, Flickr has been whipping out new features left and right. I particularly like their new “collections” feature for Pro account holders and the ability to mark images as either photos, screenshots, or art/illustration is also nice. With it comes the ability to search by image type as well.

flickr safe search screen cap

In addition users can now set their comfort levels for what kind of images they want to see.

life Photography

Whoop-Up Daze

I’m not exactly a professional photographer even though I have a very nice digital SLR camera. However, very often people assume that seeing a person carrying a professional looking camera is seeing a person that takes professional looking photos. This can be good and bad, because while I have been known to get some pretty good captures, I feel a little intimidated that people expect all my photos to be great. (I do my best.)

Big Jump

This last week has been Whoop-Up Days in Lethbridge, which is to say the Rodeo has been on at the Stampede and Exhibition Park and though I’ve lived here for almost 4 years, this was the first time I’ve been to the Lethbridge Rodeo. I took a bunch of photos that even though I know will probably never win any awards, they do give a pleasant taste of what the rodeo is all about.

The rodeo I remember as a kid was not nearly as entertaining as my experience on Friday and Saturday night. I remember sitting through extremely long breaks where it seemed that nothing was happening followed by short bursts of entertainment which if you were not careful, you might miss completely because hey what’s going on UNDERNEATH the stands? Needless to say I was always looking for entertainment. The other thing I remember about the rodeo as a kid was that there were a lot of cowboys smoking cigarettes and drinking beer—which coming from a non-smoking, non-drinking, somewhat religious family—made me extremely uncomfortable. The other thing I didn’t like about the rodeo as a kid was that we always sat so far away from the action. It was hard to see what was really happening.

That all changed this weekend. Well the drinking and smoking didn’t, but I came to realize that the breaks are actually not that long and this time I didn’t waste my time with all the suckers up in the stands, I got down right beside the field because my plan was to get some really nice photos. I was a little nervous just heading down there, because I didn’t know if you needed special permission or what? Well, I guess people just saw my camera and assumed I was a seasoned photographer and obviously was supposed to be there taking photos. It turns out that’s all it takes.

Look Out

I had such a good time at the Rodeo on Friday night, that when my brother arrived in Lethbridge on Saturday, I talked him in to going with me for another night of photography fun. He’s got a lens that lets in more light and therefore is able to take photos later into the evening after the sun has gone down and he actually is a seasoned photographer. He gave me lots of good tips.

Army Mascot

Anyway, Gary and I, each had our cameras out, shooting next to the Global TV camera man when we met a friendly guy from the Canadian reserves. He asked if we would mind taking a few shots of their mascot for him, since we had fancier cameras, and then just emailing him. We agreed and he gave us his card.


Well a little while later someone official looking came up to us and asked us if we had press passes. The old “carry a fancy camera and get into restricted areas” trick had used up all its juice.

But as we were getting told that if we didn’t have press passes then we would have to leave, I whipped out the business card I had just been given and explained that this guy asked us to shoot photos for him. What a stroke of luck because the guy knew who we were talking about and all of a sudden it was fine for us to be there. We were rodeo photographers again!

But the fanciest camera and all the permission in the world won’t necessarily help one to remember to set his white balance properly. I can’t believe I shot the whole night with my white balance set for fluorescent lights. Luckily Photoshop is helpful at fixing such issues. We had a lot of fun at the rodeo and Gary, as expected, got some really great rodeo photos (which he hasn’t uploaded yet).

You can check out the rest of my rodeo photos in my flickr set: Whoop-Up Days 2006.

life Photography travel

La vie au Québec

My red eye flight with Air Canada was, as is no surprise to any of you that have flown with Air Canada, delayed. I missed my connecting flight but caught the very next one (though my bags did not). Anyway, enough complaining about Government funded private ventures that are bound to fail…

Québec has been more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. My host, Danny, is a fantastic cook and continues to surprise us with delicious recipes at every meal.

July 1st is known in Qu̩bec as the moving day. People take it seriously and actually do move on Canada Day Рthere is probably some deep symbolism behind their choice of days Рbut I prefer not to think about it. My host, Danny, is also in the process of moving, so while he worked to get things transferred to his new apartment, I went for a walk in the old city of Qu̩bec.


The old city or Vieux-Québec is located beside the St. Lawrence river. The smaller width of the river as it enters the towns of Quebec and Lévis, on the opposite bank, provided the name given to the city, Kébec being the Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows”. It doesn’t appear very narrow to me, but I guess it’s a relative thing.

Walking through the old city makes me feel like I’ve travelled back in time. Founded almost 400 years ago (1608), the old buildings and French architecture have a magic way of connecting me with my Canadian heritage. I spent the day walking around taking a plethora of photographs of Quebec.


That evening my new roommate and I walked down to The Plains of Abraham and enjoyed a free concert followed by Canada Day fireworks. As a note of potential interest I learned that the Plains of Abraham is the largest urban park in Canada, and repeating this fact at the Welcome Party last night won me a nice red University of Laval t-shirt.

On Sunday Danny took us to see La Chute Montmorency (Montmorency Falls). They were named in 1613 by Samuel de Champlain in honour of Henri II, duc de Montmorency, viceroy of New France. (That area of Canada used to be called New France).

La Chute Montmorency

It’s been too long since I’ve been around anything so breathtaking. There is a lot of water moving out into the St. Lawrence over the falls and I had a good time watching the hypnotic motion of the water falling so far down. Apparently early explorers were excited to have found such an abundant supply of fresh water so near the St. Lawrence River.

I’ve started my month long French immersion and I’m loving it! Of course I’m just at the elementary level, but I’m thrilled to have actual conversations with people in French. It’s a lot less stressful when you know the other person is just a nervous about their French as you are with yours.

Oh, and one last thing, the University pool is fantastique.