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Y’know that night time… July 27, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Admin Messages, photography.
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.. is the right time.

This might be a little jumpy, but what can ya do. First of all, I seem to have a small consistent readership so to those of you who check in regularly, thanks! It’s cool to see how I come up in people’s searches but it’s also pretty cool to notice that (I think, anyway!) a few of you are coming back. Cheers for that.

Before I get to what prompted me to post I just thought I’d share another PhotoStitch image and point out the new set I’ve created on Flickr: PhotoStitch Images. Figured I would keep all of ’em in an easy-to-find spot. I like the tags and I could do a lot of my organization through tags in lieu of sets (say just remember to click my “Ottawa” tag instead of having an “Ottawa” set) but – well, I like sets. I heard a rumour that someone heard a rumour that Flickr is working on super-sets/sets-within-sets, so I’m looking forward to that if it’s true!

Anyway. I may have mentioned previously that I first “stitched” an image in high school by creating a large panorama with a series of 8×10 prints in black & white (an image I’ve yet to really try to recreate, eugh!). I remember being very careful, using a tripod, wanting a smooth transition. With PhotoStitch software and how easy it is I’ve learned that I don’t have to do that – really, could’ve been more creative with the prints and didn’t have to do it then, either, but hey. So here’s an example where it works and click here for a sample of when PhotoStitch isn’t always perfect. I may be able to correct that by learning more about the software, I pretty much still just let it do its thing.

Pinhey's Point: Horaceville PhotoStitch

Both of the above were recent pictures from Pinhey’s Point in Ottawa, ON. Onto the night time.. a friend and I recently decided that we wanted to take photos at night. Try the moon, some stars, long exposure fun. Unfortunately we had this moment of genius when the weather sucked – the temperature was lovely, it was a nice night to be out, but it was overcast so that meant the sky was out. Fear not, however, traffic would be a good thing to try, too.

The set is here: Long Exposure with Kasia. Things worked just as expected – tried different apertures and different shutter speeds. Mostly shot in aperture priority, never used a flash. I have two shots that stand out as favorites for me and the first is actually a bit of a disappointment. The problem with the shot is I didn’t take the time to think about composition. I was preoccupied with timing and threw my usual thoughts of composition out the window – basically the angle of the shot bothers me, it’s just boring. Still, the whole light thing as the cars turn the corner is pretty cool.


The other stand-out shot that I really like from that night isn’t of the traffic and the lights at all. The following shot is just some trees along the side of the road but I’m really pleased with it. It’s one of those things where you just kind of get lucky – with the trees, the clouds behind them, and the glow from nearby street lights. I’ve tried this shot in colour and in black & white. I like the B&W version but I think my preference is the colour.


This is definitely something I want to get out and do a lot more of, this night time thing. Hopefully these clouds will clear out soon and give us a chance to shoot some stars.


I want to ride my bicycle… July 26, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in bicycle, cycling, fitness, health.

I want to ride my bike; I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like!  Oh, Queen.

On and off I’ve been cycling, and I’m in a major on phase.  Getting to 10km was a big milestone and then a push to 15km, 20km and I think I’ve maxed out just under 30km.  Maxed out as in, that’s the most I’ve done – not that’s the most I’ll do.  As I’ve been better – after a couple of spotty weeks – I’m trying to get five solid days a week of cycling in.  I came across seajlorraine.wordpress.com and thought I’d point anyone who comes across this in her direction, worth a look.  In one post she discusses fitness goals vs number goals and I couldn’t agree more with the idea of setting fitness goals rather than number goals.

I’ve never been all that preoccupied with the number, my weight.  My weight has been a concern but more as it made me feel, made me look in my clothes (or stopped me from fitting into certain clothing) and I’ve always thought that as long as I could focus on feeling good then looking good will fall back into place again.  Seems to be working : )

Last week I biked 99.96km in total.  I also measured myself and weighed myself, something I hadn’t done in a while – my weight has dropped, which makes sense ’cause I can fit into my favorite old jeans again.  The measurements I took were to check out my body fat percentage – used this calculator here to do it.  It requires that you measure your waist, hips, neck, and height.  I tried several calculators and always came out about the same – 21% which is right on.  I wish I had taken those measurements before I started cycling to see how things changed, but what can ya do.

A great website that I don’t think I’ve linked to previously is Gmaps Pedometer for planning your routes (as long as you stick to roads).   I’ve used this site to plan several routes that are different but add up to the same distance so that I don’t get bored.  It works well ’cause when I compare the plan to the cycling computer I get essentailly the same thing.  Sweet.

Fitness Goal
My plan is to get a month solid of a schedule I’ve worked out – last week was week one, this is week two.  Last week my rides throughout the week were kind of inconsistent – so this week my goal is 20km rides four days a week and one longer ride, length yet to be determined.

Every other day I am additionally incorporating strength training into my routine.  For now it isn’t much, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

If I can do this well, eventually I’ll get there and can add more strength training into my workout plan and cycle and do yoga instead of just picking one.  Yoga has taken a major back seat and I’d like to re-incorporate it.

Music to make you move
I really need to figure out a way to make myself some new mixes for my work-outs, it’s a great way to listen to your new favs or some classics and music really helps me.  If I’m thinking about the great tunes I’m listening to I don’t think about the work-out so much.  It is fun finding old mixes and seeing what I’d used to motivate myself previously but I need some new stuff.  I’m craving some of my bluesfest favs like Metric, Controller.Controller and Hilotrons while I’m out there.  As iTunes Free Single of the Week I just got a MSTRKRFT track that is fantastic (“The Looks”) and some new tunes would be great.  Maybe a new mix-tape type list will be posted soon, some workout recommendations.

So that’s the goal:
20km rides 4x per week
Longer ride 1x per week
Strength training consistent for remainder of month
Re-introduce Yoga at one month (as regular routine and not occasional enjoyment)

Also, of course, keep eating well.  It’s making a huge difference in how I feel and I feel that I can be conscious about it without obsessing and calorie counting (I don’t think I’ll ever be a calorie counter, thank God).  There it is!

Ottawa BluesFest 2006 July 25, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in music, photography.
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Every summer in Ottawa we have lots of fantastic music festivals. I’ve usually caught at least one show at BluesFest each summer for the past few years, back as far as the festival was held at LeBreton. I saw Matthew Good Band as part of the festival as well as The Tragically Hip and Sarah Harmer. Last year I had really wanted a pass but couldn’t find enough people to go, so I just went one night – any night, I said, I just wanted to go. A friend and I went on the only night in the entire history of the festival, according to the news then, that a night was actually cancelled (not just delayed) due to rain (and, well, thunder – lots of it). We saw Xavier Rudd, Michael Franti, Dutch Mason, and Keller Williams. That was the first time I went and wandered from stage to stage checking things out – I had never heard of Xavier Rudd and he was so much fun that my friend and I each bought a couple of his CDs.

I was totally stoked this year to be able to get a full pass for the festival, it was definitely worth it. I saw a lot of great people and while I don’t have much commentary on photo-takin’-stuff I felt like sharing a bunch of pictures from the week. So, here’s who I saw:

Corb Lund (just a couple songs)
Seu Jorge
Great Big Sea
Ani DiFranco
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Blue Rodeo
Nelly Furtado
Etta James
Jim Bryson
Danny Michel
Sharon Riley & Faith Chorale
Meligrove Band
Chicago Blues Reunion
KC & the Sunshine Band
Sister Sledge
Gloria Gaynor
The New Pornographers

Some highlights:

  • Seu Jorge – very cool.
  • Michael Franti was outstanding and I’ve just ordered my copy of Yell Fire!. Check him out if you get the chance, you’ll have a good time and you’ll feel better.
  • Blue Rodeo was stellar, second time I’ve seen ’em and I’ll see ’em again if I can, too. You can’t help but want to make out with Jim Cuddy, seriously.
  • Much as I enjoyed Mobile, Live was the highlight of that night. Was surprised at how many of their songs I knew and how ridiculously happy those guys seem on stage. It’s very cool to watch a band really look like they’re enjoying themselves. Played a lot of old hits which I appreciated ’cause I knew ’em. Awesome stuff.
  • Etta. Freakin’. James. ETTA JAMES! What can I say; it’s Etta, baby, and she was fabulous. What fun!
  • Metric puts on a good, fun, high-energy show. Would definitely go see them again, would go see just about any of these people again but hopefully in a cooler setting – God it was hot out during the festival.
  • Ottawa’s Hilotrons were a real treat, my first time seeing them but not my first attempt to. They make you wanna get up and move, and many people did despite the heat. They’re another must-see-again band. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Boogie Blast? Best crowd of the whole thing. We had a great time shmoozin’ with people who could’ve easily been our parents (hehehe) and I think Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” should’ve been dedicated to the dude near us in the crowd. Red Shirt Guy, you were awesome.

And now for a few photos… :

City Hall

Location, Location, Location: Ottawa City Hall


Blue Rodeo Crowd

Bein’ in the Crowd: Blue Rodeo



Live @ Main Stage, BluesFest 2006



Metric @ MBNA Stage, BluesFest 2006



Hilotrons @ Blacksheep Stage, Bluesfest 2006


Ani DiFranco, Sea o' People!

Sea o’ People


Parliament Buildings

Ottawa @ Night


It was a great week, a lot of fun, anyone who enjoys live music should get to Ottawa and go. Best part of the summers, here, in my opinion.

Ooh baby I like it RAW July 18, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography.
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I’m not entirely sold on going all RAW all the time with my digital photos but I think it really is useful in some instances. I’ve found myself really paying attention to the image type/quality settings now depending on what it is I intend on shooting and what I figure I’ll be doing with the photos. I generally shoot in JPEG at the highest quality format just in case I get a really great shot with which I’d like to make a great print. However, for certain things I have used a medium-setting just to get more images. The big adventure, though, was trying RAW.

As usual, Wikipedia has a good article on RAW to fill you in on the details of what the RAW image format is. Basically, RAW stores all kinds of unprocessed data and necessitates some work on your computer before you can share your photos. It gives you a great deal of control and flexibility in your digital darkroom, so you need software that can view and edit RAW images in order to make use of this feature of your camera. The file sizes are quite a bit bigger, so you won’t get nearly as many pictures on your camera.

I first tried using RAW when I was working with some Macro photography. I took photos of a bunch of cufflinks that had belonged to my dad and my grandfather. First I took some time to set things up and then spent some time working with the RAW data on my computer. The programme that my camera came with was Canon Digital Photo Professional. It has some options for working with RAW image data and RGB data. There are some good tutorials and explanations, from the looks of things, on that site.


I managed to do a good job of things working in RAW but I wasn’t quite convinced that RAW was leaps and bounds ahead of working with JPEG, simply, and I managed to create very similar and sometimes even better effects working in JPEG. It may be a comfort-level thing with the programmes I use or it may just be I wasn’t really in the right application of RAW.


After my issues with the lighting in concert photography I decided that the next time I went to watch my friend I would take more shots, this time using RAW so that I could work with things later. I still think the light is so incredibly harsh that I’ll never rid my images of it completely and re-create natural looking images, but in the mean time the colour effect has gone over well with the musician. I think RAW may work best when you know you will have little control over the conditions in which you shoot.

Chad @ Urban Well I: Original Chad @ Urban Well II: White Balance Chad @ Urban Well III: Black & White

The first shot is the original shot, how things really looked – way way red.  What you can see in the black & white version at the right is that the light is actually good, it’s nice and bright, my camera settings for the light are fine.  The red is just so harsh so something has to be done about that.  Since I was shooting in RAW, this time I tried adjusting the white balance to see what kind of colours I could get.  Now I haven’t learned enough to be able to really customize this but it’s not too bad – the result is a kind of interesting tone and I’m quite pleased with the difference.  Trying to adjust the colour levels in JPEG left things far worse, so in comparison I much prefer this.

Still, I mostly like the blakc & white which is something I am able to achieve equally in JPEG.


That’s what I’ve learned so far with RAW – in some instances it is great/ideal even because you may have little control over your surroundings so RAW leaves you with the most flexibility later.


More photo stuff to come soon.. !