what's that?

Yes, this post WAS made at 4:15 a.m.  Sleep is still for sissies.

A small digression here - we're not going to debate or discuss my sleeping habits.

Alberta has THEE most messed up weather on the planet, and Edmonton in particular is super messed up.  We have spans of 40 degrees between the highs and lows on some days, we get floods, snow, tornadoes, and droughts.  We dress in layers for anything from a blizzard to a heat wave.  The saying, "If you don't like the weather wait 5 minutes," is only partly said in jest.  If you don't believe me, ask a meteorologist - apparently people come from all over the globe to study the peculiar weather patterns in Edmonton.  

Which brings me to this post.  After playing slip-n-slide on two wheels on the bike ride in to work this morning (the skating rink from last night's rain in the Bonnie Doon parking lot was a special treat, I assure you) and coming home wet as a drowned rat and looking like the victim of a drive-by mudding, I was treated to sleet and lighting.  Yes, that's right - sleet, and lightening.  In January.  In Edmonton.  Did anyone else witness this?

Messed.  Up.

reverse culture shock

I know I still have LOTS of pictures to post, and you're all being SO very patient with me... however, I must warn you that I am in full-fledged reverse culture shock, a phenomenon that (apparently, ~whew~) is quite common, though most of the people I've talked to about the trip can't really associate. And while I admit I'm not a totally seasoned traveler, I have had enough experiences traveling abroad that I have comparisons, and the trip to the Dominican Republic has affected me in a much different way than my other travels ever did.

I've gotten into some arguments, gotten into some trouble, gotten into some heated debates. I've expressed some thoughts I have previously censored and made some statements I've never really had the balls to make before, and I'm actually pretty (more than) OK with it. I was profoundly and with any luck irreversibly affected by the trip, for which I intend to make no apologies. There are things I have often pondered which were affirmed in huge, living, breathing ways.

What it means to ME is huge - though others who have not experienced the same thing kind of think I've gone a little nutso - and so I'm willing to let go and ride the wave as I'm assured it does come full circle. All the readings I've done have promised me that not only is re-entry shock normal, but in fact has the ability to turn me 'cosmopolitan.' Yay! Me? Cosmopolitan? Heck, yeah - I'd like to be cosmopolitan!

So if I'm acting weird, it's normal.  If I'm acting extra weird, it's extra normal.  Please be extra forgiving of my extra weirdness while I traverse this extra normal bridge between Edmonton and Puerto Plata.  If you haven't experienced reverse culture shock, you don't know what you're missing out on... (D&E - if on the off chance I go completely insane, I'll send you the bill for the therapy...)

Soggy Bottom Boys- I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow

A little Thursday music to tide you over... man, I love this song. If you sing the melody I can sing a mean harmony for ya... any takers?

Hope and Bill's Dominican Adventure January 2009: Day 3

Day Three we woke up at 4:30 am to catch the 5:00 am shuttle out to Samana for a whale watching tour.  (A word to the wise - if you're doing the whales in Samana from the north coast, buck up the $45USD for the charter helicopter ride - the bus trip is BRUTAL.)  The weather had turned - it had rained all night and ominous clouds hung in the sky, alternating between torrential downpours and a perpetual sprinkle.  My spirit wasn't dampened - I was on my way to see WHALES!  Now, we had been warned that it was really early in the season for whales.  We had been told yes, whales had been spotted.  The people we met at the dock said yes, they had seen whales, and someone on a deep-sea fishing adventure has said yes, we've seen the whales... alas, after 4 hours on a bus, and 3 hours in driving rains, we landed for our late lunch on Bacardi Island without having spotted a single whale.  

Miss Maddie and her Mom had come with Bill and I - and we were all crestfallen - but our time on Bacardi Island was pretty sweet (the sun even put in a brief appearance!) and made the trip memorable instead of a complete bust.  Fabulous live music, THEE best rice and beans and fish (head on of course) of the entire week, coconut and pineapple drinks, swimming in the ocean on one of the most beautiful beaches, and beachcombing... 'twas heavenly.

It was on the whale watching tour that Maddie, Bill and I bonded.  In hindsight, it's a good thing - she was a touchstone for us both.  Being so far away from our own children for so long, we needed her.

Weeks 2 & 3 exercises DLS 2009

My bad, guys! I'm really sorry I didn't post last week - there was no access to internet in my hotel room and the by-the-minute rate was astronomical!

Week 2 Exercise.

Hint: you may need to use a tripod or a stable surface and your 2-second delay feature. This exercise is also best done in daylight - a kitchen or coffee table near a window would be ideal.

Find any 5 objects and arrange a still life to photograph. Set your camera to M. Put your Aperture to f8.0, ISO100, SS60, and take a shot. Adjust your SS up or down until you get an exposure you like. Put your camera back to SS60 and adjust your ISO until you get an exposure you like. Put your camera back to ISO100 and adjust your aperture until you get an exposure you like.

Compare your 3 successful images. What kinds of things can you note about the quality of the picture? The depth of field? The noise or grain? Which image do you prefer, and why? Were you unable to get a successful exposure (reciprocity failure) in any of the three variations?

Week 3 Exercise:

This exercise involves water and possibly electricity - be careful! Again, you may need to use a tripod or find a way to stabilize your camera (a bathtowel is GREAT and totally moldable!) and use the 2-second delay.

Get a clear glass or small clear bowl and put it in the bottom of your kitchen sink. If you do not have much light coming over to the sink, you may need to get a lamp or flashlight (no flash please!) to shine on your work area. Starting with your camera in M, ISO 400, SS60, your challenge is to take 2 completely differnt pictures of water running into/splilling out of your glass or bowl. The first picture is of the water 'frozen' - you should be able to see droplets and clear crisp edges of the rivulets. (Hint: this is going to require a very fast SS!) The second picture is of the water flowing. The glass or bowl should appear crisp and clear, but the water should be foamy, frothy and white. (Hint: this is going to require a REALLY slow SS)

Hope you guys have fun!

jumpin' the queue

I know I have other sessions waiting to be blogged, and a whole slough of Dominican pictures to post, but how could I resist this sneak peek at Vala and Vandy's 6 month session today?!?!?!

Hope and Bill's Dominican Adventure January 2009: Day 2

Day two we woke up to beautiful sunshine.  Despite our very late night, we woke up fairly bright and early and went to explore the resort.  As we were waiting for some of the other guests to arrive on Thursday, we stayed at the resort for the whole day, wandering about and managing to only randomly run into a few people from our group.  In retrospect, it was a waste of a day.  Bill and I had contemplated bringing our bikes, and it would have been a perfect day for going off exploring.  However, we did manage to amuse ourselves enough to have a pleasant day, and get an early bedtime for our whale-watching excursion on Day Three...  stay tuned...


The Dominican offers a variety of savoury food and drink to tantalize your imagination and your tastebuds.  Amoung mythical foodstuffs like chocolate and oysters, besides being touted as a cure-all for any number of ailments from infertility to stomach aches, DR's specialty mamajuana has earned the monicker 'liquid viagra' - but is, in my opinion, just a darn tasty shot, the kind that leaves a pleasant aftertaste in your mouth and warms you up right down to your toenails.  I LOVE mamajuana.

Although recipes and brewing tips varied, the basic idea is to take a bottle stuffed with twigs, leaves, and bark that roughly resemble the cedar shavings you buy in a heavy plastic bag from Home Depot, soak them in wine and honey for a few days, empty out the contents, then refill with roughly equal amounts of dark rum, red wine, and liquid honey.  One may add a stick of cinnamon or a splash of vanilla for a twist, and I imagine there are many variations on the theme just waiting to be discovered.  After about 2 weeks, it's ready to drink.  Once you've consumed the contents, you simply refill it and start over.  And apparently, the older the twigs and bark, the better the flavour.  

Our first batch is currently steeping; we have some Dominican liquid honey here as well as a big bottle of Brugal for when our sticks are seasoned.  Lucky for us, we bought a bottle of pre-brewed mamajuana to tide us over until our home brew is ready...  Next time you come over, be sure and ask for a shot!

Bill & Hope's Dominican Adventure January 2009: Day One

The story unfolds with the captions under the pictures in the Picasa Album... please join us on our adventure.

guess who's back!

7 days, 3600 miles, 6000 raw files - one couple in love made it official in the Dominican Republic 19-01-09.  Perros, mamajuana YUM!, amigos, beaches, casas, bambinos, haircuts, rain... I am in LOVE.

Stay tuned for the whole LOVE story... 

2009 DLS Week 1 exercises

This exercise is to help you experiment with the Law of Reciprocity as well as hone your understanding of DOF while practicing manual focusing. It is also to get you thinking more about making creative choices - what objects will you choose? Where will you choose to shoot? What time of day will you shoot?

All 3 tasks can be completed in a period of an hour or less - make sure you remember to post them somewhere!

Find a nice bright spot to take a picture - a kitchen, bedroom, or living room floor with lots of natural light would be ideal, or this could be done outside. Set up a series of about 5 similar or identical items in a row, each about 3-4" apart from each other. Be as creative as you like - they could be anything from beer bottles to baby bottles, Hotwheels, walnuts... You could make a train of some sort with your kids. You could put pinecones on the snow. Really, the sky is the limit...

Disable your flash, set your camera to MF, Av, f3.5, ISO 200. (Remember, if you're using a zoom, your zoom may need to be at the widest angle to get to f3.5, and if your lens only goes as low as f4.0 consider using a different lens. Otherwise, set your aperture to f4.0)) Standing at one end of the row, focus on the object closest to you. Take one picture. If it's properly exposed, continue. If not, you will need to adjust the settings on your camera until you get a proper exposure before proceeding with the rest of the task.  

Note how many of the objects are in focus at f3.5, and adjust your aperture one f-stop at a time until almost all the objects are in focus. How many f-stops did it take you? Note the light and what the camera set your shutter speeds at - did you have to deal with camera shake at all? If you had trouble getting pictures with higher f-stops, what would your options be for increasing the shutter speed without altering the depth of field? Hint - law of reciprocity only has 3 parts: light intensity (aperture) sensitivity (film speed) and duration (shutter speed). If you're feeling inspired, try it again by setting the camera on the surface your objects are restin on or on a tripod if you have one. Remeber: you should be using the 2-second (10 on some Canons) delay.  See a sample.

Post 3 images - the one at the WIDEST aperture (shallowest depth of field, small f-stop number), one in the middle, and one at the SMALLEST aperture (deepest septh of field, high f-stop number)

Go outside during the day, set your camera to MF, Av, f3.5, ISO200. Find a straight edge - the fence in your backyard, a swing, a bannister, a sidewalk... Standing in the same spot at one end, manually focus so that you have 3 images with distinctly different focal points along that straight edge. If you're still feeling inspired and want to take your shooting to the street, this would be a really fun one to do in a grocery store in the soup aisle or in the library along the bookshelves! If you really want to challenge yourself, find a table or countertop that has a distinct end - something about 6-8 feet long. Try adjusting your aperture so that the entire length of the edge is in focus, but drops off suddenly at the end so everything beyond the table fades off into Bokeh oblivion...

Post a set of three pictures with the three distinct focal points ("sweet spots").  See a sample.

Gather 5 items to make a still life - a vase, an orange, a placemat, a flower, and a feather; a shoebox, a strainer, a rubber dog bone, a roll of toilet paper, and an origami crane... whatever you can find. Set your camera to M, f4.0, ISO 100, ss 1/60. If the picture tunred out perfectly, great. If it's over- or under-exposed, try adjusting the settings manually (according to the Law of Reciprocity) to correct the exposure.

Post 3 successful pictures with distinctly different settings and include what your camera settings were as well as your own written observations of the different qualities those three images have.


If you've still got Christmas lights up, you can try this exercise to get bokeh balls...

Set your camera to Av, f4.0, ISO 400. Set up something close to you to focus on so the lights will be in the background. (You may need a solid surface and the 2-sec delay!)

I'd love to see what you are coming up with! I strongly recommend using Picasa as both a photo organizer and for very basic editing features. It has an easy upload interface to Picasa web albums as well, for both Mac and PC. Mac users can set up iPhoto to upload images directly to Picasa web albums using the 'uploader' application If you are using flickr or Facebook or another site for online sharing already, no worries. Send me a link to wherever you're uploading whatever you're shooting!

get ready for some LOVE

New website launching 
February 14, 2009

New sessions to show your LOVE.
New products and services to LOVE
New image galleries to LOVE.

Are YOU ready to spread the LOVE?  
Let's have an all-out hippy LOVE-in.
Comment and tell me what your LOVE.

(don't worry - you'll always have ticblog to LOVE.)


I keep thinking some day I should put together an 'all-time favourites' album. Honestly, with over 150,000 photos it's a little overwhelming. I get hives and hyperventilate just thinking about it. However, it is on the list of 'things to do' in 2009. Without meaning to sound immodest, I'm curious if anyone out there has any all-time ticblog favourites? (Feel free to post a link from the Picasa Web Albums in the comments and I'll try and add them here!)

welcome, 2009!

I did my first official session of 2009 today. I had the splendid opportunity to visit little C, who was a bump in the tum the last time I met up with Mom. C was cooperative about everything but sleeping for me, but while waiting for Mom to at least try getting him to snooze I got to hang out with big brother B, who is a Mr. Smartypants! I really can't think of a sweeter way to kick off the 2009 photography season.

high ho, high ho

Today marked the last day of my vacation.  Tomorrow I have clients again, Monday classes start, and this time 2 weeks from now I'll be in the Dominican Republic shooting a wedding.  It was a lovely break, and the next few weeks are surely going to be hectic so I figured I'd post a synopsis of my holidays, from the lovely lunch with the office ladies on the last Friday before the break, to hanging out with my dear friend Tasha and her crew at the gymnastics centre today.  Part of me is very sad that my R&R is over, but the other part of me is very excited about the New Year which is already full of promise.  Click on the slideshow to go to the actual album to see everything from icing-covered guitars to snow on leaves to platform shoes and mating beetles...  Be sure to read the captions!