A busy photography time of year.
Aunt Jennie Returns to Hong Kong
Helen's Aunt Jennie has been staying with
us for a few months since Claira was born and has helped out a
lot. Sadly, all good things come to a close and Jennie is
returning back to Hong Kong to see her family and experience
warmer weather. Before Jennie went I wanted to get some
portraits done so Jennie has pictures to show around.
Bright Nights in Stanley Park
Every year the various firefighters
around the lower mainland setup a light show in Stanley
park. Each city sets up a little diorama - some are quite
new, some are showing their age. They collect a donation ($5
recommended) at the entrance and the show gets busier as we get
closer to Christmas. I went last year with my mother
so this year I wanted to try something a little different - I
added a paper cutout to the front of the lens. The paper
cutout was made of black construction paper and I cutout a star
about the size of quarter. The results speak for themselves.
I seemed to get best results when I had Nara close to a
light source to light up her face. Most of the show has
short fencing with lights so I made sure that Nara was close to
the fence (with working lights) to get that illumination.
The paper cutout obviously influenced the bokeh (out of focus
regions) but it also added a strong vignette that helps focus the
eye on the subject. Obviously this was all shot wide open
(f1.4 in my case) to maximize the out of focus area.
Victoria for the Holidays
Where better to learn about Christmas than
Grandma's house? I took a few days off before the holidays
began, we packed the family in the car and headed for the
Island. Traveling non-peak sure is a luxury - we caught a
ferry an hour earlier than expected and it was only 30% full so
there were free seats everywhere.
Nara and Grandma took a walk to nearby McMinn Park which has a
playground. Nara's interest in playground equipment is
evolving - the swing used to be her favorite gear, but now she has
a real enjoyment of the balance beam. Grandma helped Nara
get started and Nara jumped off at the end.
Christmas Trees at the The Empress Hotel
The Williams arrived for an overnight.
After dinner we had originally planned on going to Butchart
Gardens but it was raining so we decided to go to the
Empress/Victoria Convention Centre to see their Christmas Tree
display. Most of the 30+ trees were setup by companies with
varying degrees of gaudy sponsorship. The tree in center of
the Empress Foyer was quite impressive though - it was more than
two stories high and had a monochromatic decorating scheme -
something I quite like.
The Williams stopped for a family portrait
in front of the tree. With so many lights behind people, you
would expect some silhouetting, but the foyer has some fill lights
to ensure the tree doesn't overpower the scene.
Arranging a Harvey Family Portrait was a
bit of a challenge so I just took some photos of Nara. I'm
using my 35mm f1.4 (Manual Focus) which gives quite a nice look to
the out of focus areas.
We found some trees in a darker part of the
Hotel was made for some nice lighting and contrast. Nara was
full of gusto so we took a quick trip around the inner harbour to
see the lights there as well.
The next morning we had a small gift
After gifts, we took a walk to the park.
Marcus and his brother
have "walking sticks" and I don't think Nara has ever played with a
stick. (When your kid is in Daycare, you don't really know
what they know - they surprise you sometimes by knowing how to do
things you have never seen them do before). Found some sticks
and the kids started poking around in the pond digging up
leaves. I said yuckie (I didn't want them on my jacket) and
all of the sudden a game was on.
The following day it
wasn't raining so we decided to take that walk around Butchart
Gardens. We drove out around 5:30 and encountered the wicked
queue of cars going to gardens - maybe 15 minutes of stop and
go. The usual parking lot was full and we were directed to
park in the bus parking area - a new experience for me. We
walked for about 20 minutes before it started to rain. Oh
Nara quite enjoyed the Carousel. There is only so much rain I
want to subject my camera gear to. The irony is that after rain is
probably the best time to photograph lights because the wet surface
reflections double the number of light sources.
T'was the Night before Christmas
Another year around the sun, another
Christmas! Grandma and Nara put out a plate of cookies (two)
for Santa and they laid out the stockings on the table. My
mother was quite impressed with the pattern Nara layed them out in -
I should have brought my camera. Nara was excited about Santa
coming but wasn't much trouble to get to bed. Claira has her
own schedule, but she too eventually went to sleep.
Christmas proper didn't
get started until quite late. My mom volunteers at Hospice and
her day happened to line up with Christmas so the least we could do
was wait until she got back before we started opening gifts.
Just around the corner from my parents
house is Outerbridge Park. When it was someones personal
property (9.3 acres), the owner made it into a garden with water
features and plant species to attract birds - their own little
Sangri-La. The owner has since passed the property to the
municipality and the property has transformed. The
municipality has done some work to keep the place up (there are
really good foot paths) but not everything has been
preserved. The original owner planted a number of invasive
(but ornamental) species and some of them have exploded.
Volunteers are reshaping the park, but much of the original
character still remains - especially the attraction to
birds. There are a number of dead standing trees (large
Douglas firs) and I saw two species of woodpeckers when I went to
The volunteers (I assume) had just spread a new layer of mulch in
some of the beds the ground birds were having a great time eating
bugs in the soil. Watching the spotted Towhee's (probably a
dozen of them) dig up the soil was actually quite
entertaining. A Varied Thrush (quite a skittish bird)
stopped by - I only saw it once before it flew away - but it's
orange and black features are quite memorable.
The real prize for me was the resident
Anna's hummingbirds. These tiny birds (there are at least
two males in park, maybe more) are easy to miss as they fly around
from food source to food source. I was surprised to see them
given the cold temperatures and lack of flowering plants, but
apparently they don't migrate much in the winter. The
iridescent black feathers on the birds head are quite striking -
at most angles they are a dark black, but caught at the right
angle they glow bright pink.
Tags: christmas tree(6), stars(4), Bright Nights(4), Outerbridge Park(4), bokeh(3), vignetting(2)
People: Nara(23), Claira(8), Marcus(6), James(5), Jennie(3), Janet(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2016 to 2005 > December 2012
Last Modified Saturday, January 5th, 2013 at 23:04:45 Edit
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