Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Contagious!

I've been away from the bands for quite some time as a result of tripping off to Canada and the UK.  Last night, however, I managed to get down to Ellerslie's Cock 'n Bull to see Contagious.  They were superb ... as usual.

There were a few issues with the lights, but I reckon I managed some of the best shots of the band last night.  ISO was set at 2500, shutter at 1/80 and aperture at f2.8.  I tried a wide angle lens, but with f4 I either had too much noise or too slow a shutter speed.  Back to the nifty fifty and f2.8!

I've just put three shots onto this post.  The first image is of Carlos Cameron, the band's lead guitarist.  Previous times I've seen the band Carlos has been somewhat in the dark.  This time, however, he was quite well illuminated and I managed a few pleasing shots of him.  Take a squiz on Facebook for a few more :-)

Second shot is of the bass player, Terrence Guillard.  Not as many lights on Terrence this time, but still enough to use a reasonable shutter speed and get some good shots.

Third shot is of Birgette Marie.  Birgette is the main vocalist in the band and the shot you see here was a bit of a fluke.  The lights were playing odd games and went off when I took the shot just leaving a red spot onto Birgette which gave a sillouette type effect to the image.  I quite like it.  what do you think?

So there you go.  I had a great time.  Seemed ages since I'd taken shots of the band ... seemed more familiar with landscape shots from overseas than subdued lighting and live music!  Can't wait for the next gig now :-)

Don't forget that there's a few more shots on Facebook and you can check out Contagious's website to see when and where they'll be playing next.  If you get the chance you really should go and see them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lynn Canyon ... and a question

Lynn Canyon; wonderful place.  There's a few images in the post to tempt you to find out more or even visit.  Finding the park is real easy, and there was plenty of parking.  The walks are pretty easy, but are quite long and take a few hours to complete ... mainly because of the views you'll encounter.

One thing that fascinated me was the way that trees seemed to grow out of other trees.  There's an example of this in the image to the left, but it was quite a common sight.

Tree stumps, probably the result of felling as the tops of the trunks seemed quite level, have new trees sprouting out of the top. How did this happen?  Does the park ranger embed seeds in the old stumps or do seeds fall naturally into cracks in the old stumps?  Usually there was only one "new" tree, which sort of favours the park ranger answer, but I really don't know.

I can't recall seeing this before in NZ or the UK, and am not sure if it was a particular type of tree.  Anyway, if you know if it's a natural occurrence or not please let me know.

Should you be expert in these matters, and it's a human intervention, you could perhaps let me know why and for how long this activity has occurred.

I'll close this post with a couple more images from Lynn Canyon.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deep Cove ... Stunning!

Whilst in North Vancouver we took a trip out to this gem of a place, Deep Cove.

After parking the car were greeted by the view you see above.  It was a lovely sunny day and the sea and sky were glorious blues.  I was seriously impressed with the place.

Apparently it's a safe place to learn to kayak, but we didn't have time for that!  All we could do was enjoy the views, walk around the coastline and enjoy and ice-cream by the water's edge.  Not too bad eh?

If memory serves me the Baden Powel walkway goes from here toward Lynn Canyon, so that may be a tramp we can try next time we visit :-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

There's Bears!

 "There's bears in them there hills!"  Very true.  We'd heard of bears wandering down close to the place we were staying, but never saw or heard any.  However, there were two captive bears atop Grouse Mountain.  You can see one of them in the image below.  Apparently these bears had been orphaned at a tender age and hand reared which meant they were unable to be released into the wild again.
We'd been a tad concerned we might meet a bear in the wild and couldn't really decide what actions to take.  It seems that anything you can do, bears can do better.  Running away or climbing trees are not good ideas and neither is standing still.  Telling the bear to go away in a deep voice whilst looking as large as possible seemed to be the best course of action.  Then again, if you want to be prepared, taking a dog seems a good plan!

One thing that amused me on the TV was a warning about bird feeders.  Apparently you must avoid putting these out until after the bears had gone into "hibernation" for the winter.  I know my mother has problems with squirrels raiding her bird feeders, but never imagined bears wandering around folks' gardens eating bird food.

Besides bears, there's skunks.  Seems that skunks are of more concern to the locals than bears.  "Don't get skunked!"  Accurate up to 5m the scent from the spray is VERY difficult to remove or disguise.  5m is a long way and I suspect you could easily be within range and not realise it.  Thankfully we didn't get skunked, but we did smell the smell in the bush so perhaps somebody else did?

It didn't seem the best of days for the trip up Grouse Mountain as it was very cloudy and we couldn't see where we were going on the way up.  In fact the mist and low cloud remained for an hour or two until eventually the sun burnt it off and we could make out Vancouver as you can see in the image below.
The trip up the mountain was OK, but would have been much better without so much cloud cover.  On the way back it was clear and we had wonderful views over Vancouver.  The shot below was taken through the glass of the cable car, so you'll see some reflections, but it gives you an idea of the view.

The lake bottom right is part of the Cleveland Dam.  You might like to see an early evening 5 shot HDR image of this lake taken from close by the dam wall.  You'll also notice the ships in the harbour I mentioned in an earlier post and the bridge you can see (centre left) is the Lion's Gate bridge.

Don't forget to take a squiz at some photos on flickr and click on the images above to get an enlarged view.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Whistler :-)

We travelled up the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whister which was wonderful; the scenery was superb!  There are so many things to see, not least of which were the Brandywine falls close to Squamish of which you can see a snapshot above.  There was also a rather pretty lake on the route of which there are some images here and here.

Whistler was great.  Geared up for skiers when there was snow and mountain bike riders when it was warm and dry.  The downhill bike routes looked fantastic, but suspect after falling off my mountain bike and sustaining a reasonable head injury wifey wouldn't be too impressed if I tried them out!

The town itself was very pleasant , if not a tad "touristy".  There were heaps of cafes and bars, places to buy postcards and other tourist type paraphernalia but the overall impression was of a tidy and clean town with loads of fun activities to try out.  Much of the touristy part of the town was "pedestrianised" with vehicles banned to the huge carparks in the town.

We took the cable car up the Whistler mountain to enjoy the views and then took the Peak2Peak cable car over to the Blackcomb mountain.  This trip is superb and affords quite stunning views.  This cable car has a world record breaking longest unsupported span of just over 3kms between supports and is the highest lift of its kind in the world at over 430m above the valley floor.

The next photo shows a Peak2Peak cable car on its travels between the Whistler and Blackcomb peaks.  It was tricky to get any reasonable shots due to the reflections on the glass, but I have the memories :-)

Atop the Whistler mountain ... well, in fact, in lots of places of significance ... we came across these Inukshuks.  I think you'll remember the symbol from the recent Winter Olympics that were held here in Canada.

I'll close this post with a couple more shots for you ... just to whet your appetite to visit Whistler.  The first shot is taken from the Peak2Peak cable car and the second is from the close to the Whistler town centre.  Great place to visit.

Don't forget that you can click on the images to get an enlarged view and there's some more images from Vancouver on flickr. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vancouver ... first impressions.

We arrived in Vancouver close to 10pm in a very tired and weary state.  We picked up the car from Alamo and then set off for North Vancouver for our accommodation.  The car was great ... a bit tricky to start with as everything was back to front.  The steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car, the indicators were on the wrong side, the handbrake was operated by your foot etc. etc.  Nevertheless, the drivers in Vancouver were great and we had no dramas on our 30 minute drive from the airport through the centre of the city to our accommodation at Nature on Norwood.  On arrival at our accommodation we soon fell into bed and off to sleep after a VERY long day.  First impressions then ... very good indeed.

After breakfast we set off for Stanley Park.  This meant traversing the Lion's Gate bridge (you can just make out the green bridge in the image above).  The original plan was to have a quick squiz around the park, but we ended up spending the whole day there.  We walked through the trees, along the beach and then found the totem poles.  There was heaps to see both in the park and from the park.  Definitely well worth a visit and it did nothing to detract from our initial very positive impressions of Vancouver.

One thing that did intrigue us was the number of large ships anchored in the harbour.  We knew Vancouver was a busy port, but didn't realise quite how busy.  Many industries transport their goods into and out of Vancouver via the sea and there were ships a plenty in the harbour.  Timber, chemical and food stuffs seemed to be the main exports, and ships were coming and going all the time.  Even so, the waters seemed clean and people were bathing in the sea.  The second shot shows a Lifeguard at one of the beaches in Stanley Park, and a few of the ships in the distance.

I mentioned that ships were coming and going all the time.  This was nothing compared to the seaplanes!  Very regular services were being maintained by a variety of operators.  Great fun to watch the 'planes take off and land ... but not sure the 'planes were big enough for me to try.  Perhaps next time?

I'll close this post with an image of the totem poles and a seaplane.  In the meantime I'll start to create an album on flickr for some more shots you might like to view.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm back!

Whoa, seems like ages since I was here.  Where've I been?  Quite a few places really and had a great time in the process.

The aim was to visit the UK to see family and friends, but we took the opportunity to spend a bit of time in Vancouver on the way over.  I took quite a few shots of the various places we visited and hopefully as I sort through my efforts I'll be reminded of the great time we had on vacation.  I'll share some of my experiences and images on these pages and encourage you to make comments on what you see and read.

We left Auckland on a glorious spring day.  The cherry blossom was out, tuis were fighting over the nectar and the sky was a lovely even blue.  Not a day to be leaving I thought!  In fact, looking around the garden I couldn't help thinking this was an ideal place to go for a holiday rather than leave!  When you understand that our destination in the UK was Manchester, which has an unpleasant reputation for being cold, wet and miserable, you'll appreciate why I was wondering if leaving NZ was such a good idea.

The flight away from NZ wasn't the direct flight to Vancouver we'd hoped to use, but rather an Air New Zealand flight into San Francisco and then a United flight to Vancouver.  Not the best of experiences I have to say.  The flights were OK, but San Francisco was not the most pleasant.  After leaving the plane we queued for two and a half hours just to get photos and finger prints taken.  We then had to collect our bags even though we were in transit.  This was a HUGE difference to the experience at Singapore's Changi Airport on our return trip, but more about this later.  Needless to say when we arrived in Vancouver we were shattered. One flight was 12 hours, we then waited 7 in transit, a further 2 hours to get to Vancouver and then we had to drive to our accommodation.

Accommodation in Vancouver was superb.  If you're staying in Vancouver check this out ... Nature on Norwood.  We'd originally thought of staying in the city and using public transport, but in the end a hire car from Alamo and Nature on Norwood was more cost effective and significantly more versatile.

So there were were.  Exhausted, but in Canada and the weather was every bit as good as that in New Zealand :-)

Over the next few days we travelled around the Vancouver area and had a wonderful time, but I'll tell you more about that in the next post.  If you can't wait to see more images from my trip check out my Facebook album for a few more shots.