Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Day 119

This was taken in a PARKED car. Safety first!
Day 119

Monday, 28 April 2014

Day 118

#365FeministSelfie photography project

Getting the backyard ready for the Mermaid Garden of 2014!

Day 118

Selfies and the Calgary Expo and C-3PO, oh my!

I spent the weekend volunteering at the Calgary Expo. My shifts were either 10 or 11 hours long, so blogging wasn't a priority. :-)

Neither was taking pictures of the people in costume. So, I direct you to two excellent sources of amazing cosplayers, here and here.

April 24 Day 114 selfie - The next best thing to Wil Wheaton being there!
Day 114

I forgot that I had a geek t-shirt that hadn't been in a photo op, so I wore my Paul McCartney t-shirt for my Anthony Daniels photo op, for the British connection. This is me getting ready.
I'm ready

Oh my goodness. Where do I start? I made line buddies while waiting for the photo op. We were all so cool, sharing photo op stories from previous conventions. We were such veterans of the experience. We thought we couldn't be blown away because we had already been there, done that.

The line seemed to be moving slowly, and we couldn't figure out why. When we got closer, the reason became apparent. Anthony Daniels wasn't just chatting up the attendees, he was going over to the camera to make sure that the photo was okay and didn't need a retake.

The couple ahead of me were just thrilled. The guy shook his hand and said he'd been 20 feet from Anthony during Star Wars in Concert. Anthony asked which city (Calgary). They thanked him profusely and then it was my turn.

Well. First of all, I noted that he had his own C-3PO toy. He told me to get rid of mine (no! They've been in every photo op!) He asked my name and talked with the photographer about the best angle. Cheekily, he noted that I'm one of the few people shorter than him. The photo was taken, Anthony walked over to check it, and the photographer said that I had a great smile and we didn't need a retake.

I gushed and thanked him and said that I'd also been at Star Wars in Concert in Calgary. I told him that I liked that I saw him sitting off to the side during the filmed segments, and I liked that I saw him watching the screen with everyone else, not fiddling with his Blackberry. He said that he first understood the whole Star Wars saga storyline when he started narrating the concert.

Anthony Daniels was incredibly gracious and kind and I was just glowing. :-)

Since the next fan was taking his mark, I went off to where the photos were being printed. My line buddies and I just kind of stared at each other before we exploded. We could not believe the wonderful and joyous experience that we'd each just had. Amazing. :-)

Photo op with Anthony Daniels

April 25
Day 115 selfie - I bought one t-shirt (being worn in the photo). They gave me a giant bag. Day 115
Awesome Han Solo

This cutie enjoyed having the run of the VIP Room, so that she could crawl without getting stepped on. She's not just rocking Batman socks, she also had a Batman onesie.
Bat baby

The other side of the giant bag.
Giant bag

Hermione, for size reference.
Giant bag

April 26
Day 116 selfie - ugh, worst selfie. If I'd known how blurry it was, I would have taken another. I was tired, and I'd poured a couple of ounces of Bailey's over ice cream.
Day 116

Clearly, the Frozen cosplayers summoned snow in late April.
Stop the snow!

This was my favourite out of all of the Tardis costumes this year. I also had a really great conversation with this lovely woman, I was glad I had the time to sit and talk and hear her stories.

Amazing Dark Crystal costume.
Dark Crystal costume

April 27
Day 117 selfie - playing around with Gollum while helping to take down the Expo. Day 117

Another great year for the Calgary Expo! I got to meet a lot of fun and interesting people and look forward to next year!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Day 113

Day 113

Day 112

#365FeministSelfie photography project

Charlie doesn't think there are monsters under the bed. He thinks there are zombie killer bunnies about to attack, and it's my job to go outside and check, because he is driving me crazy with the scared meowing.

Day 112

Yes, Charlie is a cat.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Selfie catch up!

Day 107 - apparently I misplaced my hairbrush, so heavy cropping it is.
Day 107

Day 108 - so sick of the snow!!!
Day 108

Day 109 - Easter. Yay.
Day 109

Day 110 - I bought this cup for my sister's birthday because it is fun and festive. She likes it because it has a lid and she won't spill so much.
Day 110

Day 111 - Homeward bound.
Day 111

Northern Lights at Elk Island

My plans for the weekend were:

Friday - drive to Edmonton, stay with my sister and her family

Saturday - spend the day in Edmonton, have Easter/birthday supper at my sister's house (date and time chosen because of three different guests having dogs on certain feeding schedules).

Sunday - spend most of the day in Edmonton because it was my sister's birthday, drive back to Calgary.

Monday - chill out.

I wanted to drive because I'm feeling adventurous these days and am tired of taking the bus. Also, there was the strong possibility of Northern Lights, and Elk Island National Park is by Edmonton. It's renowned among the Alberta Aurora Chasers group for being away from city lights. It's not perfectly free of light pollution, but an excellent spot.
I figured that if I did go chasing Friday or Saturday night, I could bring my nephew. He's up all night anyways, he could be my bodyguard. ;-)

My plans fell apart Friday with a snow squall that left the roads icy and slushy. I bought a bus ticket and decided that there must be a Reason that my plans changed.

The Reason was that the Northern Lights came Sunday night, when I was still in Edmonton and not in Calgary as planned. :-)

And it wasn't just my nephew with me. I asked my sister if I could borrow a car and she said, "I'm coming with you! It's my birthday!" Her husband drove us out to Elk Island, along with my niece, and my nephew's friend.

I took a lot of photos, even before the Lights showed up at midnight. At one point, I just pointed my camera at the sky. And accidentally got some meteors.
Meteors in the Night Sky

Here are my favourites:
Northern Lights Elk Island 01

Northern Lights Elk Island 02

Northern Lights Elk Island 03

There was a pesky cloud formation on the horizon, but I managed to shoot above it. We left after that show - people had work to go to and buses to catch in the morning. I'm a LOT happier with these photos than last week's.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Catch up post

Proof that I went outside and didn't just spend the entire on the couch eating chips while playing games on the iPad.

Day 105
I went hiking on Nose Hill Park with a couple of friends. It was cold.
Day 105

Among many things, we talked about vision. I mentioned I'm farsighted. Later, I proved it by spotting a porcupine.

Day 106
I don't normally blow-dry my hair because of heat damage, but I did today, so that my hair would be dry by the time I got to lunch with a friend. One of my better hair days. Day 106

I impulsively stopped by Carburn Park after lunch. I hadn't been there since the flood last year, and it was depressing. The trees were still full of leaves and debris from where they were underwater.

I did spot some deer hiding in the brush.
Deer in Carburn Park

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Penumbral eclipse

Penumbral eclipse:

The moon is entering the Earth's penumbra, before the clouds rolled in.

Gauzy moon

Unfortunately a thick cloud cover rolled in. This was one of the last photos I took before the moon completely disappeared behind the clouds.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Day 104

365blogDay 104

I have two cameras with fully charged batteries and empty memory cards, ready for tonight's eclipse. Now I need the clouds to go away.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Photography mojo

I posted in the Aurora Chasers Facebook group about needing to learn more about night photography. I got some really great constructive feedback.

And tonight I took this in my backyard, with my camera and telephoto lens. It felt good to grab this image.
The moon

Tomorrow night - the eclipse!

Days 102 and 103

365blogI crawled into bed this morning at 3 am. Posting selfies was not a priority. :-P

Taken before I left in pursuit of the Northern Lights. My fingers were crossed, hoping I would be successful. And I was!
Day 102

Freshly henna'd hair. Grey hair begone!
Day 103

Northern Lights

I'm not really thrilled with my pictures of the Northern Lights last night. It was my first time using the Canon SL1 for aurora. The pictures looked good on the preview screen, but were grainy and under-exposed when I downloaded them. I did use a tripod and the timer to avoid jiggle. I should have used longer shutter exposures. I have to do a lot of processing to remove the grain and I'm not that skilled in Lightroom.

Northern Lights

That said, the experience itself was great. I belong to a Facebook group of Alberta aurora chasers. When the space weather reports showed great conditions, and the skies were clear, I hoped to be able to partner with someone. I don't like the idea of driving around the countryside by myself, as a single woman. If I couldn't partner up, my plan was to move around quickly and not stay in one place too long.

Fortunately, another woman, C, asked if anyone was going to go shoot up by Airdrie. I took a quick look at her Facebook profile to assure myself she wasn't going to be an axe murderer, then replied that I would gladly go to Airdrie. She DM'ed her cell phone #, we chatted, and agreed we would buddy up. All of my equipment was ready, so I hopped in my car and drove to her house. She had experience shooting the Northern Lights on country roads so she took the lead. I'm also glad she drove because she has a BMW with heated seats. :-)

She's nice and I think we could be friends. She is also single and has a cat. I used her bathroom just in case, before we headed out, and I blinked a little to find myself in a stranger's house - I'm really started to fail as an introvert. ;-)

We stopped in Airdrie to meet four other people. They are a group of friends from Ireland who have been working in Alberta. Seeing the Northern Lights had been on their bucket list, and it was the one item left. And they are flying back Monday morning. So they were really happy that C knew the area and had great photography tips. Especially M, because it was her birthday and getting to finally see the Northern Lights was the best gift ever.

We went to one spot and that's where the Lights were the best.

Photography tip from C - if you see a greenish haze on the horizon, take a test shot with your camera to determine if they are the Northern Lights.

The Lights grew bright enough that we didn't need a camera to see the banding and the pillars. Awesome. The temperature was between -4 and -10, which is cold enough. We kept jumping back into the vehicles to warm up. After those Lights faded, we tried another spot. They came up again but not as bright. We decided to pack it in. Some others from the Facebook group got brighter shots around 2:30 am.

So - not ideal, but it was a good learning experience, and now I know more about which country roads to drive to. I got to meet new people and not feel scared out there. The people in the Facebook group are saying I'm on the right track with my photos.

C also took a picture of everyone against the Northern Lights - so this is her wonderful photograph of my giving a cold thumbs up: bychristy

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Day 101

Day 101

After a week of work crisises, I told Susan I needed drum circle this week. She had to say goodbye to one of her kitties today, so we both needed good vibrations.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Day 100

Day 100

I can't wait to start transforming my backyard into the Mermaid Garden of 2014. Spoiler: it will be flowery.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

I photographed Mars

Tonight, I made sure the tripod was stable and played around with different settings, including a faster shutter speed. I also used my handy-dandy new remote control.


I cropped this, but did not use filters or make any other adjustments. I think a telescope would definitely give a better picture. But, I did it. I figured out how to get a non-blurry photo of Mars and I'm happy with it.

Day 99

365blogDay 99

Infrared filter selfie. The angle didn't make me look like me so i decided to get creative.

Also, I was at a healing meetup tonight that was very interesting and illuminating, so this is a good representation of the experience.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Mars over Calgary

Since Mars is close to the Earth now, and there is an eclipse happening next week, I decided I ought to experiment with photographing the night sky.

Mars over Calgary. In the middle of the photograph.

Mars over Calgary

I used a timer on the camera to reduce jiggle. I need to tweak the shutter speed because all of the close-ups showed jiggling. This is a heavily cropped image of one of the close-ups. And holy crap, my camera photographed another freaking planet. Who cares if it isn't perfect? Teenage me, who used to spend a lot of time in the backyard looking up, is very pleased with this.

Blurry Mars

FYI, if you ever want to buy one of my photos, that can be arranged. I don't tend to post links here because this is more of a personal blog, but I do have photographs for sale on other sites.

Day 98

365blogDay 98

Mermaid selfie. ;-)