Calgary Stampede Fireworks Panorama

Photo of the Day

The view of Calgary and its skyline from Scotsman’s Hill is classic, but when you throw in the fireworks of the Calgary Stampede grandstand show, the sight is even more stellar.

Watching the fireworks from Scotsman’s Hill was a mandatory part of growing up in Calgary, so I had been to this exact spot plenty of times before and I knew roughly what I wanted to try to capture. I got there early, since I know the prime spots fill up fast. After all, you can watch the chuckwagon races from up there for free – crowds start forming hours before the fireworks begin.

So, that leaves plenty of time to watch the chucks, dodge mosquitoes, check out the sunset, set up the tripod and chat with fellow fireworks aficionados.

On this particular night, the threat of rain hung in the air the whole evening. We were mostly spared the drizzle until the fireworks began and the rain made taking photos a bit awkward. Water on the lens wasn’t really the effect I was going for here, so my umbrella was open above my camera and I had a cloth handy to clean my lens when errant drops got through. The result is that I didn’t get quite as many shots to choose from since I spent half my time keeping my gear dry, but I managed to get enough to piece together the panorama below.

Click to see a larger image:

Calgary Stampede Fireworks Panorama

Calgary Skyline Panorama

Photo of the Day

Here’s another HDR panorama, this time from my hometown of Calgary. On a recent visit, I made a point of getting a few shots of the skyline. Since moving to Manchester, I hadn’t shot Calgary’s skyline and my catalogue of images was in need of a bit of updating. That Encana building changes the view in a big way.

Click to see a larger image:

Briefly Home in Manchester

I’m back from my trip to the Baltics and I had a blast. My backlog of photos to be processed just got that much bigger…

But of course, I’m not here in Manchester for long. Tomorrow, I’m heading off to Calgary, my former home. I have a week there where I anticipate a much more relaxed than my trip to the Baltics. A lot of putting my feet up and visiting with family and friends is on the agenda.

In between heavy doses of relaxing, I probably won’t be able to resist the lure of my new photos and I’ll start working on them. Hopefully, they’ll start trickling onto the site sooner than later.

Just wish my ailing back luck on the long trip over the ocean! It was bad enough today to keep me off work, so I’m a little bit angry with it and it has to do some kissing up to me. I’ve asked it to play nicely while I go on holiday and I will reward it by not lifting anything heavy for a week (except large quantities of food into my mouth).

Presentation at the Foothills Camera Club

On February 20th, I have the privilege of addressing the Foothills Camera Club. I will be discussing travel photography in Asia and all the challenges and rewards of living and working in foreign locales like Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and more. I’ve been given a blank slate for my talk, so I’m still working out the details of what I will cover, but I expect it will be an informative and fun ride through some fascinating cultures while making images in faraway lands.

If you are interested in attending and you are not a member of the FCC, you can still come along. Non-members’ first two visits to the club are free and additional visits are $4. If you’re not a member, I hope you might also take this opportunity to see if perhaps you would like to join the club. It’s a worthwhile organization for photographers of varying levels with a mandate of education and fellowship. Before I embarked on my travels to Asia, I was a member and I would have happily continued my membership if I had not been moving around so much in the last couple years.

I will post a reminder or two here closer to the date of the event. See you there!

Fort Calgary
Main Auditorium
750 – 9th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta

Tuesday, February 20th
7:30 – 10:00 pm

Photos of the Calgary Zombie Walk 2006

I’ve gone through a bunch of my photos from the Calgary Zombie Walk this year and They are now available here. Limp, don’t run to check out the photos!

This year’s turnout was equal to or possibly greater than last year’s and a number of people were intent on outdoing their costumes from the previous year. That meant more gore, more blood, more guts and more fun. Some personal favourites included the zombie whose face was wrapped in barbed wire, the biohazard zombie who carried four litres of fake blood in a pack beneath his clothes to spurt on command, and the golfer zombies pinned back to back having been impaled by a stick.

The Elvis Zombies entertained and the doctor zombie carrying an animatronic baby (with slightly too realistic movements) disturbed. A zombie slayer dressed as Ash from the Evil Dead series (he only needed Bruce Campbell’s chin to complete the look) and a Shaun of the Dead zombie added some star power to the event as well.

It made for a great, early Halloween treat. Here are some samples of the horror awaiting you in the gallery:

New Photos of Calgary

In celebration of my return home, I have just posted some images of Calgary, my hometown. Included in these photos are updates to the following galleries: Calgary Skyline, Downtown Calgary, and the Centre Street Bridge.

In addition to the new photos posted in those galleries, I have also posted a couple of new sets of images: photos of the Calgary Tower and photos of the Board of Education Family of Man Sculpture.

Travel Photography at Home

Freshly home after travelling for months? Feeling a little bit bored by the offerings your home town has to offer? Wishing you could fill up your day with culture and spectacle?

Yesterday, I answered yes to all of those questions. But since a quick hop over to Asia wasn’t on the agenda, I had to make due with Calgary’s offerings. Fortunately, Calgary’s offerings were a bit more interesting than usual.

My afternoon was occupied by a trip into Chinatown where I was able to feed my addiction to Asia. I’ve had the chance to visit that area a few times since being home and each time has offered me a glimpse of that part of the world that has become my second home. I’ve become comfortable in the oddities of Asia and I miss being bombarded by its endless surprises.

But yesterday, Chinatown was even more appealing than usual. A Street festival took over the area with a market hawking Asian wares and a stage featuring performances from the area. Karate, Thai dance, Chinese Opera and more entertained the sun-baked crowds and of course, I was there in the front row, snapping away.

After spending a couple hours in Chinatown, I wandered downtown for a while where a host of wedding photographers and their subjects were swarming around the Hudson’s Bay building. Brides and grooms mingled and I could hardly figure out who had married whom.

I then headed over to Mark and Kara’s where they and James were getting ready for our evening of fireworks. Calgary’s Globalfest was wrapping up its final night and the final night of the fireworks competition was the main draw.

The four of us headed in the direction of Elliston Park but not before stopping for some fantastic Indian food (there’s another country I’ll have to visit).

At the park, we claimed our spot in front of the lake and waited for darkness to fall while the mosquitoes hovered over my head. Kara, James and I all had our cameras propped up on our tripods leaving Mark as the only one of us that probably maximized his enjoyment of the show.

I have to admit that I have been a bit spoiled by some of the fireworks extravaganzas I’ve witnessed in Japan. They seem to have a surplus of explosive material in that country which leads them to draw out their displays for a good 90 minutes or more. This finale at Globalfest lasted around 20 minutes, but it was an impressive 20 minutes. A good diversity of colourful blasts and bursts were well coordinated with the music and made for a fine spectacle.

A day like that was just what I needed. After some of the adventures I’ve had this year, it’s certainly an adjustment to be back home, back in a world where everything seems familiar and sometimes even predictable. Maybe I just need to look a little harder to find adventure, trouble, and fun – it’s not always going to fine me as seems to happen when travelling.

Thai Dancer

Chinese Opera Singer

Downtown Wedding

Globalfest Fireworks

Planes, Some Including Snakes

Last night, my friend Kara told me that for as many hours time difference as you have changed, it will take as many days to recover from the jet lag. That means I should have another week or so of this lethargy.

Fortunately, it’s not hampering me too much. I can crank up a burst of energy when I need it for, say, a job interview or the first chance I have had to see some of my Calgary friends in more than seven months, or of course, for some snakes, on planes.

But first, my journey here, because it involves planes as well. And considering how miserable one of my flights was, I would have probably preferred to have some pissed-off venomous snakes on board.

My flight to Singapore was uneventful. My time in Singapore’s Changi airport was as good a time as one can have in an airport. With an early check-in under my belt, I got to wander the busy terminal to browse the stores, taste plenty of food and even watch a free movie in a small theatre. The flight to London was as pleasant as an 11-and-a-half hour flight can be with a good selection of movies to choose from on the Qantas flight.

I stopped in Frankfurt for a transfer of planes and then touched down in London where I promptly squirted through the overwhelmed Heathrow airport and into Chelsea to see Caroline for a day. We mostly lunged the day away and went for a wander in her neighbourhood where my fondness for London and the UK burned bright and bid me to return to the country as soon as I was able.

The next morning, I headed off early to Gatwick where a flood of people stood shoulder to shoulder waiting in endless cues and sharing in a collective exasperation at the scene. Though no one was moving any faster than a tectonic plate, everyone seemed to be in decent spirits and we were all able to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

Since I couldn’t take all my camera gear and laptop onto the plane with me as I would normally do, I headed over to the oversize and fragile luggage line and said goodbye to my precious cargo. When I asked the attendant if he was going to slap a ‘fragile’ sticker on my bag, he reassured me that everything would be taken care of. I worriedly left it behind and headed through security and to my plane.

On board, I soon discovered that there was a misbehaved infant convention soon taking place in Calgary and all the delegates happened to be sitting in the rows ahead of me. A lot of moaning, crying and stomping filled up the next nine or ten hours of the transatlantic flight. Combine that with having coffee spilled on my by a flight attendant (who promptly wiped my seat then scurried away), and the flight wasn’t the happiest way to return home.

When I arrived in the baggage claim area, I immediately began my search for my camera bag. When I couldn’t find it at the oversize carousel, I hoped that it was yet to arrive and headed over to the normal carousel to retrieve my other bag. There, to my horror, I witnessed my camera back tumbling down the ramp towards the carousel. In a panic I charged towards it through the crowd to catch it before it went slamming to the base of the conveyor belt. Fortunately, everything in it seems to be functional.

The final absurdity came when, having exited the plane, all passengers had to clear immigration. But since no pens were allowed on the flight, there was a sizable bottleneck as we all lined up for the use of the three available pens to be able to fill out our immigration cards.

Since then, I have mostly been unsuccessfully trying to get into a sensible sleep pattern while reacquainting myself with Calgary (and overcoming a bit of reverse culture shock).

But yesterday was a bit more interesting since I had my first job interview for the position that drew me home. I thought it went well and the job seemed like something that would keep me more than content. I really have my fingers crossed for one and I’ll be pretty disappointed if I don’t get it. I did, after all traverse a few continents to get here for this job. It really is perfect for me, so if anyone out there happens to have any good luck they aren’t currently using it, I will happily accept it. Thanks!

After the interview, I wandered downtown and found myself soon gravitating towards Chinatown. I miss Asia. As I wandered the Calgary streets, no tuk-tuk drivers offered me a ride. No sleezy suit salesmen suggested I might look better if I was wearing their wares. No durian smell met my nose. And yes, I actually missed all that.

But Chinatown here has a fantastic little restaurant called Veggie House that caters very much to both my vegetarian side and that part of me that pines for the Far East.

With some veggie dumplings happily swirling in my stomach, I decided to walk across downtown to pay a surprise visit to Mark and Kara. I like surprises (both giving and receiving), so I reveled in the confused look on Mark’s face when he opened the door. Few people knew I was going to be home, so the word had not spread to Mark’s ears yet.

We went for a drink then hopped over to Brian and Janice’s place for a barbecue. Later, Kara showed up after a CPR course and I got the chance to surprise her too before we set off to see Snakes on a Plane.

And despite the astronomical Internet-fuelled hype, it did not disappoint. Though I suspect, if you don’t see it on opening in a busy theatre, you may miss out on a lot of the fun. Our Friday-night trip to the film included plenty of patrons donning plush snakes on their heads and a large group of rowdies tossing out rubber snakes to every member of the audience.

With every ludicrous death scene we waived our snakes above our heads in salute to the makes of this magical film and when Jackson uttered the film’s climactic line, we all shouted along to the line that we, the citizen’s of the Internet, helped to pen.

I giggled all the way home reminiscing about cobras, anacondas, chihuahuas, the mile high club, the rest of the totally ridiculous spectacle I had just witnessed. I only wish my flight from London had been so entertaining.