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Back on the tripod

One evening I was sitting on the balcony, enjoying the cool view from our building – and a chord was struck inside me. I grabbed my tripod (which has not been touched since being unpacked from the move) and camera (which has only been touched to retrieve the memory card from – for something else), and set myself up on the balcony for some practice with my photography skills.

The sun was setting, so my instinct was to grab an HDR of the sunset. Why? Because it’s a technique I know how to do – it’s safe.

Boring HDR sunset
Boring, safe HDR sunset

It was ok, but boring. I needed a challenge. With my tripod set up, I thought about playing with my aperture and shutter speed settings. I set out to achieve two goals:

  1. Get a photo of a light with star streaks – small aperture, long shutter speed
  2. Test shutter speeds to get streaking headlights and brake lights of cars on the highway

I started mucking around with my shutter speed and aperture – starting with the aperture being somewhere in the middle and the shutter speed being relatively fast, and changed them one by one to get the desired effect. Once the sun set, it was much easier to get results, because the light wasn’t constantly changing. I managed to get a few neat photos of streaking lights, and then lo and behold! I captured a few lamp posts with star streaks around them (check out how many I got in this pic below!). I was excited!

Long shutter speed cars with sunset
Long shutter speed cars with sunset

As I looked through my captures, I noticed I had also caught something else moving through my long shutter speed photos – a plane! After that, I set out to capture the flights taking off from the airport – long exposure. I ended up with some neat shots, but I still need to work on playing with my ISO settings and my aperture to get the best results. Here are the fruits of my discovery! [Click on a photo to enter the slide show, hit ESC to exit!]

Christmas Leftovers

Christmas OrnamentsNope, not sick of the decorations yet! I love turning the lights on and seeing the glow fill the room. I’d also like to point out that on Monday night, when my girlfriend came home from work she asked me why I hadn’t turned the lights on yet. I think the Christmas spirit is spreading!!!

So… we put lights up on the balcony 🙂 I ended up standing on a chair and tying wire to existing screws in the cement at the top of our balcony so we could string one strand up along the edge. It wasn’t too cold out, so my hands didn’t freeze, and the job was done quickly. We had to run an extension cord out one of the windows, but it lets in minimal air, and we have a bar to lock it just in case 🙂

The one strand fits perfectly on the outer rim of the top of our balcony! But if you remember, we bought two strands… We’ll have to figure out what to do with the extra string of lights!

It’s perfect out on the balcony now, with the warm glow of classic frosted Christmas lights shining! I made a suggestion that we just keep them up, because it’s nice to have that extra light on the balcony when you’re out enjoying the view. I think it might fly! 😀 With the exception of that last strand of lights, the Christmas decorating is done. I have a few presents that I already purchased that I can wrap and slide under the tree. Then it will REALLY look festive!

Next up? I’m thinking of making a wreath for the door. And of course there’s always holiday cookies and baking to do!!! The holiday cheer continues!

Balcony christmas lights
The lighted balcony!

‘Tis the season! (Part 2)

In a previous post, a strand of Christmas lights went up. A suitable compromise between my girlfriend and I – I being of the Novmeber 1st decorating train of thought, and she being of the December somethingth train of thought. Last I left you, we had put up the lights, and were wondering if this small act of decorating would tide us over until our later-in-November-and-possibly-even-December slated Christmas decorating date.

The answer is NO. On Sunday, it happened. My lady came home from work around 2:30 and we had some time to kill before heading to a family dinner. Surprise, surprise – it wasn’t me that broke! I asked “What do you want to do?” and she replied (with no coaching, begging, or pleading from me) “Let’s put up the Christmas tree.”

YES!!!!!!!!!!!

With this decision came the great furniture shake-down. We had to make room in the living room for the tree – and decided to switch the large living room chair for a smaller one from the bedroom. This resulted in approximately 45 minutes of furniture re-arranging in the bedroom – and a completely new setup in there. Mission accomplished! With the living room appropriately cleared out, we happily began putting the tree up. The branches of the tree were carefully spread and we and settled it into place. Together, we wrapped the white garland around the tree and got things started. Soon, it was beautifully decorated with glass ornaments, silver bells, nut-crackers, and a few odd balls! Our white-themed tree turned out beautifully, topped by a white paper star! The only thing missing was Christmas music playing softly in the background, but I think that might have been pushing it…

Woodsy Christmas Ornament
A woodsy Christmas ornament. So cute!
Chubby little snowman
A chubby little snowman on skis! Old school glass with glitter!
Nutcracker soldier ornament
A classic-looking nutcracker soldier ornament. So handsome!
Modern wire Christmas ball
A modern wire Christmas ball, an amazing silver accent!
gold and white santa ornament
Another glass ornament. Santa in white and gold!
White owl ornament
To go with the white theme, we got a few glittery white owl ornaments!
glass horse ornament
Another glass ornament of a rocking horse with presents. Love the colours!

To finish things off, we hung up our stockings (and one for my girlfriend’s fantastic and bordering-on-famous sister) and lit some candles.

the stockings
The stockings were hung by the candles with care (we don’t have a chimney!)
The tree and the lights!
The tree and the lights! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… ♫♪♪♫♫

Now it feels like Christmas! I love decorating 🙂 On the way to family dinner, we stopped at Canadian Tire to grab two more strands of frosty lights for the balcony…

‘Tis the season! (Part 1)

OK, so the cat is out of the bag… I’m a holiday FREAK. Not so much the Easter bunny and Four-leaf-clover kind of holiday (although I do love me some Lucky Charms!), but the Christmas variety (and also Halloween, as per my last post)! In the past few years, I haven’t really done Christmas right. Last year, I didn’t even have a Christmas tree up in the apartment (Blasphemy, I know. But it’s a long story involving a crappy landlord resulting in a space I hated to come home to – so why decorate?).

Anyhoodle, I’m psyched and excited this year! I get to start from SCRATCH and build a new Christmas inventory with my favourite girl. My lady is not as much of a Christmas freak as I am, so there are going to have to be compromises. First of all, I usually love decorating on the first of November. It’s only fair, since Halloween is over. Doesn’t it make sense, since I’m already taking down Halloween stuff and putting it away (OK, so this year it was just two soggy pumpkins I threw in the trash) to put up shiny, sparkly Christmas stuff in it’s place? It only seems logical to me. The love of my life disagrees, and made a strong argument that we might get sick of the Christmas decorations if we put them up too early. I listened patiently, all the while the Christmas conscience in my head screaming “WHO GETS SICK OF CHRISTMAS?!?” I’m willing to meet her half way, so I proposed decorating closer to the end of November – somewhere in the third week. I felt strongly that December 1st was much too late to decorate. Thankfully, we agreed and all seemed to be well in our future Christmas Wonderland!

Then we put up a string of lights…

OK, so we were in Canadian Tire and found our all-time-favourite lights (also, uber hard to find). Remember those super awesome old frosted C9 bulbs? Classic!!! We had to buy the strings and then get a bunch of boxes of lights, because they don’t come all together anymore (not that I’ve found). Who says money can’t buy nostalgia? It can! We also picked up some ornaments (those super cool old-school glass ones with glitter and creepy faces) and I managed to find some garland for the tree as well. My lady and I happily headed home with our much sought after lights, and couldn’t wait to put them up!

We carefully unboxed all the ornaments, the tree skirt, and the garlands, and packed them gingerly into a plastic bin so that we could be organized come tree-trimming day. But the lights just had to go up! It was just too exciting that we had found the perfect frosty lights. Assembly began, starting with a red bulb, and filling in the sockets with blue, then green, yellow, orange, and white and so on until the whole strand was full of awesomeness. Note: It’s important to follow a pattern of colours and stick with it – no randomness will be tolerated. It was just too much not to plug them in to see what they looked like and bask in their warm, Christmassy glow. We plugged them in. *AAAAAAAAHHHHHH* It was like pouring a shot of Christmas down your throat – instantly, my chest was warm with a fuzzy, Christmassy feeling!

After bathing in glow of the Christmas lights for a while, we packed bin carrying the new ornaments and garlands away with our recently purchased pre-lit Walmart Christmas tree (only $49 – a bargain!) for later decorating awesomeness. I was happy and decided that hanging the lights would be awesome enough to carry me through til our much-later-than-normal decorating date. It was nice to turn the lights on and feel the Christmas warmth flow through me… but would we be able to wait?…

To be continued!

Photo day: Week 16!

Can you believe I’ve been at this for almost 4 months now? Granted, there have been a few slips and slides, but I’m trying to roll with the punches. This little blog has come a long way – from being a creative motivator for me, to becoming a showcase for some pretty fantastic artwork! Let’s keep the ball rolling… Here are this week’s photos from yours truly! They are actually photos collected over the last two weeks, since I had a featured photographer in last Friday’s post 🙂

Don’t forget to click on the image if you want to see more detail, and have a spectacular Friday!

One foggy morning I went out to start my car. As I walked back to the house to make my tea, this was the sight I beheld!
On the way to a halloween party, I took some shots out the window as we were driving. This is the one of the fruits of my labour.
The first frost is always good and bad for me. It means it's going to get much colder, but just look how beautiful everything looks!
I had to capture these shadows in the parking lot. You only get to see shadows like this when the leaves have all fallen 🙂
This little guy was the last of his kind. I found a bunch on the ground, but they were all rotten. What beautiful colours!
Last night, lying in bed, I looked up at my spider plant, and I saw a monster in my bedroom! If you can make it out, you can see the crazy shadows that my spider plant makes on the ceiling when my printer light is on.

I think I tied my mind into a knot

You’re in an unknown office, a new apartment, or someone else’s place. When you walk into a room and flip the light switch, some lights go on. You flip the next switch and the room is lit. There is a third switch. You flip it on, and nothing happens. A few more on-off on-off flicks follow, as you gaze around the room looking to see what lights up or turns on as a result. Even though you know that likely this switch doesn’t work, you still find yourself investigating as to what it could be turning on (or off). You flick the switch a few more times, looking inside the room, and out. Sometimes you go as far as looking from room to room to see if this switch controls something further away.

Likely, the switch is not connected to anything at all. But we still insist on flicking it up and down, expecting something to happen.

This happened to me this morning… and I found myself spending time worrying about the switch, thinking about the wiring, and wondering if it was ever connected to anything in the first place. My mind drifted into a scenario involving the home’s previous owners putting the new switch in… Why did I go to all this mental trouble? Does it really matter?

And when I was leaving the room, I even flipped the switch a few more times and peered around to see what else turned on 😉

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