Jun 20, 2013

Back to the Zoo - 2

My last post spoke about the zoo but I had yet to get to animal photos in the previous post. Hopefully by the time you read this we are having a top-notch time in Vancouver and starting to get excited about the next leg of our trip down to Seattle.


I cannot help but wonder about how excited, and even anxious, I will be feeling when this post goes live. You see, if you haven't read on Twitter by now, we have been invited to stop in at Chase Jarvis' studio this coming Tuesday. I do not have a lot of things on my bucket list, and it's not for the wrong reasons, but one of the things on that list is to meet Chase Jarvis. There is a good possibility that he will not be there. The episode of Chase Jarvis Live that was scheduled to be on Wednesday was postponed. We were going to be part of that studio audience, which would've been cool. Just stopping in to see the studio is great with me. If he happens to be there, well, it will be even more amazing. To be part of a studio audience of 50 people would be great. To meet him one-on-one would be amazing.


Now, as much as I talk about him so highly, I know that without a strong crew behind him he could not do all that he does. Regardless of his presence, meeting that team will be great. Seeing in person where so many of the shows I watch online have been made will be excellent. Whenever I need the motivation to start shooting again or continue working on something that has been on the back burner it only takes a couple of his videos on YouTube or reading his blog to get me back in gear.


In my previous post I spoke about the attractiveness of being able to share a photo so quickly and easily through services like Instagram. It was Chase the first came up with the idea with his groundbreaking app, Best Camera, which had the features adopted by future apps, but before the social media integration had come as far as it has today. More than a few great ideas and trends have started in the back of his mind.

Creative Live, the free online educational tool for creatives, was founded by him and is steadily gaining momentum and maintaining quality instructors. Both of these apps have changed the industry. He was one of the first people to do extensive behind-the-scenes videos of how he worked. This and Creative Live brought much criticism from people who feel that he is giving away the secrets of the industry. Everyone is a photographer today and, as shown by so many people, hard work and uniqueness is what stands out over some collection of Gnostic trade secrets. That could be said for so many fields long before the digital age.

Maybe in years to come I will scratch Joe Mcnally and David Hobby off my bucket list, too.


Back to the zoo photos. This piece of shrub that had grown through the fence, before the shrub was trimmed way back, at first looked like a dead rodent hanging waiting to be snacked on. When I got closer I knew immediately what it was but the fact that it was hanging from the fence of the red fox enclosure made me initially think it was lunch.


New do. 'Nuff said.


This is your consolation photo. I'm afraid that the few day-old baby sheep that I was struggling to get a great shot of (the slope by this enclosure is absolutely terrible to stop on with a wheelchair to get a photo without rolling away) saw that his mama had left for the other side of the enclosure and he dutifully followed her. All I got was the cutest little blur of legs and baby fresh wool.


I'm still itching to have a photo session in this portion of the zoo. When those trees are in full bloom, probably about the time this is posted, they are just beautiful, smell amazing and are a fairytale setting for a round of photos.


It's not a smile, but it's not aggressive, either. I don't know what got the bears so excited but they were very energetic and entertaining when I first got there. The second photo is not one of boredom or sadness, but resting. Whatever they were up to it tired them out.

We may hit up the zoo in Seattle if time and weather cooperates. Until then, these photos should keep me in good shape until we are home and I can return to unwind from what will probably be two very busy and full weeks. No doubt I will have the full report for you in the days to come.


Until then, I ask that you continue to visit Challenging-Reality. Posts will be occurring there every Monday morning for many months to come and your support is appreciated. I appreciate the views but what I really need is you could take the 5 seconds it takes to share it on Facebook or Twitter or wherever else you partake in social media. Spread the word to your friends and feel free to leave a comment, drop me an e-mail or let me know how you think it could be better, easier to navigate or find what people are looking for or any other thoughts and feedback that would make it more worthy of the content I worked so hard on to be shared, so that it may help the individuals it is intended to help.

Thanks!

Jun 16, 2013

Coquaholla Highway Adventure

Today we drove down the most intense road I have ever travelled. It was not unlike many of the fastest driving video games I have ever played except for two things. I did not have a top of the line sports car, I had a minivan, and this was our lives in my hands, there is no replay the level if you have a fatal crash.

That said, people drive this highway all of the time and have for many years. It was just a new experience and took a little bit of cautious getting used to before I felt comfortable on it. Still, I was pretty glad to be done the 8 percent slope.

Angie was very busy holding on tight so she was unable to make a video but thankfully there is a great channel on YouTube of a couple of guys who ride their bikes all over Western Canada who have done a fine job. It will be a bit of a watch but, if you're interested, here are the videos.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Please excuse it if any of these things do not work or send you to the wrong link. I created this post on my phone and they certainly do not yet replace a computer.

I cannot imagine driving that highway in the winter. If you snoop around YouTube a little bit further you can find videos of people driving it in the winter. Two busy lanes on a dry summer day was plenty for this Saskatchewan guy.

Jun 13, 2013

Back to the Zoo

After a few days of heavy exercise wheeling down by the river and around the forestry farm park, I took my next visit to have a much more leisurely pace and make sure that it was a photo-centric visit.


Knowing that I would not be taking my DSLR on our upcoming vacation I thought I would give smart phone photography greater attention. It should not be difficult to determine which photos were made with the phone and which ones were made with the DSLR, but I must say that I am very impressed with the image quality produced by my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the images produced by my Pentax K10D. As long as the amount and quality of light are respectable, and with a little tweak of the white balance and exposure compensation, that tiny little chip can record some very fine images.


It may have been a coincidence but the fact that it was a reduced cost day the day prior to my visit seemed a bit obvious to me. Not just by the peacefulness of a Zen garden interrupted by a paper coffee cup, but just other aspects of the park that made it feel like it had been visited by a number of non-regular patrons. I know it's not "my" park, but I care about the place and begin to wonder about the type of person that would intentionally placed it there instead of carrying the additional 10 yards to the garbage can. I would have been unable to reach it without damaging plants or the garden so I just made my ironic photo. People walking by seconds later politely asked me if I had forgotten my coffee. I let them know that I would never do that but it made for an interesting photo.



So many of the plants with small blooms were nearly in full force. I hope that by the time I am able to return to the park it is a nice mix of the smaller flowers and larger ones that will be coming into their prime.


The perfect example that the best camera is the one you have with you: I was just about to make a photo of this path with my phone, which over grows early in the season and is impassable for me by wheelchair. Just as I was about to make the photo I heard the rustling in the shrubs, the squirrel popped out onto the path paused while I made the photo and ran off across the garden into the shrubs on the other side.


I have had many people ask me why in the world am I not taking my DSLR on our vacation to Vancouver and Seattle. My response has been that the amount of distance we will travel on foot will mean energy spent. Carrying a case with an appropriate amount of equipment would consume additional energy. I do not have a "travel lens" as many people do. I have lenses for specific purposes and in order to get the full gamut of ranges you need all lenses. It means off quality but it also means maximum weight.

As well, so many of the photos that I would make would be snapshots. Snapshots can be made with a phone. It is when I am making a photo, with lighting and significant intention, that I insist on optimum quality. The biggest exception where I am convinced I will miss the DSLR is when we see massive things where an ultra-wide-angle lens would be the exact tool for the job.


In addition to the weight factor, it may end up being more of a source of worry or unwanted attention for us. Add to that the time I would want to take to make my photos just right would add up and prevent us from seeing as much as we could. Not that the whole vacation is going to be rushing to cram in as much as we possibly can, but I do not know when or if I will ever get back to Vancouver and Seattle. I do want to take in as much as we can while there.


I have always been very diligent about taking an ample amount of gear with me so that I am always prepared, should I need it. I'm pretty sure that there is only been a few times that I needed the extensive load I've taken with me, and I was glad to have it, but I am skilled enough that I would have been able to make a fine photo with what I had. Many of the mentors that I follow online have downsized significantly, lately. They still have their full setups for big jobs but for travel they have something smaller that allows them to be more discreet, make a photo much more quickly and save their energy by not calling 15 pounds of gear everywhere they go. Not that I have to mindlessly follow the herd, but their decisions have lightened my firm stance of carrying everything just in case. Perhaps this trip will further lighten it or solidify it further. The biggest thing, though, is that they are carrying smaller but very capable cameras.

My problem is that most of the smaller cameras I cannot handle and when you add up the cost of running a second system you start getting into the price range of Elinchrom Quadra Rangers which I confess to being curious about.


I believe that the convenience of my phone will be nice and, as much as a lot of people find it to be quicker to make a photo with, I find that adjusting my settings using a touchscreen takes five times as long as the dials and buttons on my DSLR which I can adjust my sleep. However, with this phone, as with the squirrel on the path photo above, I can get angles that I cannot get easily with my DSLR. The reason being that thanks to the Android operating system on the phone I can fire the camera with my voice. Of course there is an app for that in the iTunes store for you iPhone users, but it'll cost you; nothing new for anyone who pays the Apple tax. ;)

The image quality is just fine, the macro capability is impressive and I will bring along my usual flashlight and a reflector so that if I do want to take the time to create an intentional photo I will have a few tools to help it stand out from the average snapshot.


The final reason for me being comfortable taking only my phone is the ability to share so easily. As much as I do not care for the filters Instagram or similar photo sharing apps include, they do allow you to get your photos posted to multiple locations very quickly and easily. It took me a long time to get on board with Instagram, mainly because the camera on the iPod just didn't cut it and I didn't have any other tool that shared to Instagram at the time. Now that I have my phone Instagram is quickly becoming my favorite social media tool. You can find me on Instagram @jayscottphotography (link opens a new window to my gallery) or view the posts as they show up in my Twitter feed which can be viewed on the site near the bottom of the right-hand navigation bar.

Jun 4, 2013