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Far Away & Close Up June 29, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography.
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Wow, I haven’t updated anything in over a month and in that time I have huploaded 18 pages worth of photos to my flickr account. Eesh! That’s a lot of photo work I’ve been doing to catch up on, so some of this will get a brief drive-by point-to while others may get a little more in-depth discussion.

One of the greatest things about flickr is the kind of feedback you get. On June 16th I hit the 5,000 photostream views milestone! Roughly one in six of my photos receives comments and having people add your photos to their favorites is pretty darn cool. But since becoming a paid user of that website, I have loved the sets feature the most.

All of my photos are put into at least two sets, one geography-based set (all of my photos from around Ottawa are in one set, for instance) and one camera-based set. I know, I could use tags for all this kind of thing but I like the sets function. So all of my Rebel XT photos are in a set, all of my EX-Z30 photos are in a set, polaroids in another, and so on. I have some event-based sets and some theme/style-based ones, too. So that’s something that has had quite a bit of work recently, updating and maintaining all of these sets.

Some recent sets worth checking out are my walk in the Glebe, creatures, wild & otherwise, and flowers.

So this past month the two big things I’ve done quite a bit of work with are using my 75-300mm lens (for some wildlife photography and sports photography) and macro photography (some found-stuff but mostly tried setting things up and doing some work with RAW images).

Telephoto: EF 75-300mm Lens
This is the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III lens. As the USM model page explains, it is a great lens for sports & wildlife. As it’s spring, of course this means animals everywhere and lots of babies .. so I went to get some pictures late in May of the baby geese. I wouldn’t have been able to get these kinds of up-close-and-personal shots without this kind of lens, it was a lot of fun being able to really get the kind of composition I wanted without disturbing/getting too close to them. The thing I learned here, really, was that depth-of-field makes a huge difference in a shot and that you have to be patient and set your shot up sometimes hoping you’ll catch something. You’re kind of at their mercy, so for some shots patience is key, and others just shoot as much and as quickly as you can ’cause they’ll be gone as fast as they came.

Baby Goose, III Red-Wing Blackbird, IV


Essentially the same thing can be said about sports photography. Your settings have to be such that you can take pictures quickly to capture the movement, sometimes you get something great and other times you’re not quite quick enough .. and if you’re lucky, that works out okay too. For the complete set, click here. For now, here are a few previews from The Churchill Cup, Canada vs Scotland @ Twin Elm Rugby Park.

Rugby, XXVI: Line Out Rugby, IV: Kick for Two Rugby, XXVIII: Scrum


Macro Photography: Close-Up Filters
Wikipedia, as always, has some useful information on Macro Photography – including the classic definition of macro photography requiring a 1:1 ratio but that commonly it’s anything that appears life-size or larger on standard print. In my macro photography set, you’ll find way-close-up stuff in addition to plenty of images that are in the latter classification.

Having a prime macro lens for these kinds of shot would be brilliant, but being kind of broke lately I make due with close-up lenses or close-up filters (I refer to them as filters). I have +1, +2 & +3 which can be combined to get anything from +1 to +6. These filters work much like a magnifying glass and enable you to focus closer to the subject than you would normally be able to with the lens you are using. Anything I have taken with my SLRs uses these filters. Anything I have taken with my EX-Z30 or other digital point-n-shoot is using the camera’s built-in “macro” function.

Flowers are a great subject, hence the photo-set dedicated to them exlusively. I got to Ottawa’s Tulip Festival too late to actually catch nice looking tulips in bloom, but that didn’t stop me from taking shots of the worn down, droopy from all the heavy rain, open tulips.

Macro Tulip, Purple I

Some shots, like the above, are taken as-is. Come across the subject and shoot. Others, like the following, I took the time to think about how I would want the final image to look and set things up. From a bouquet of flowers I received I decided that instead of whatever wall they sat in front of a much nicer backdrop would be the sky. Outside they came (inviting quite a few bees to hang out with me, not so cool) and I rearranged things to get the shots I wanted. That’s a big thing with macro photography is working hard to get the exact composition you want.

Yellow Roses, IV

That is, of course, the image I have now used in my header 🙂 Have I mentioned yet how much I am loving this custom header thing, getting to use our own images? Fantastic!

With the weather being questionable at best some days over the last little while I continued my set-up-macro experimenting in the house and tried shooting in RAW for the first time. That’s another subject for another post, maybe I’ll get to the whole set-up and post-production thing later this afternoon 🙂


Concert Photography May 22, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in music, photography.

Normally I bring my point n' shoot, Casio EX Z-30, to take pictures when I go to shows.  I'm just looking for the odd fun shot, a quick snap to help remember things.  It's easy to carry, I can put it in my pocket when I've snapped off a few that I want.  Finally, though, I tried out my SLR at a live show.  I went to see a friend of mine play and brought along the Rebel XT and let me tell you – it's quite difficult to take photos in that kind of setting.

Chad @ Urban Well, I: GIMP Edit


In this particular setting, Urban Well, there wasn't much apart from a single harsh red light over the stage.  All my photos came out red & black – looks kind of cool, representative of what things actually looked like that night, but hard on the eyes.  So I did what I could using both The GIMP and Canon's Digital Photo Professional  to remove some of the red and usually was left with almost sepia-toned images.  I like how they turned out but I'd like to have some more natural looking colours.  Will have to read up and learn how to make adjustments on my camera to account for the strange lighting.

 Chad @ Urban Well VI (B&W)

I tried most photos as they were originally vs as they look in black & white vs as they look with some editing.  Still, honestly, undecided as to what I prefer.


Check out the complete set here: Showcase Saturday @ Urban Well, Ottawa.

Concert; Cycling May 5, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in bicycle, cycling, fitness, health, music.
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One of my absolute most favorite things to do in the world is to watch music, live.  I've seen a few local shows recently, so I'll probably go back and update on what I've seen in 2006 but to start I'll fill you in on what was a great fun show: Great Big Sea @ The National Arts Centre, in Ottawa.


A few months ago a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join in on a group of people going to see Great Big Sea.  I had always heard what a great time everyone has at their shows, especially as I have a lot of friends who went to University on the east coast.  So finally the time came for us to head to the show and we all had a really great time.  It was "An Evening With…" so there was no opening act or anything, all Great Big Sea.  The first half of the show was mostly new music with the odd old folk tune – followed by a brief intermission and when we came back they were blaring Johnny Cash in the theatre, no complaints there.  The second half of the show was full of older hits, including one great sing-a-long moment which included crowd-favs everywhere like "I Fought the Law," "Blister in the Sun," "Video Killed the Radio Star," The Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" (so fun!) and – Summer of '69!

The fellas talk to the crowd a lot, telling some great stories, making the whole thing feel very cozy and fun.  In summation, they're great – check out my flickr photo set for more!



Onto the cyclingness.  When I tuned up my bike myself I had a little one kilometer ride.  I also went out in some crazy bad-ass wind we had the other day and got a whopping two kilometer ride in.  Today, as it was gorgeous out, I decided to go for a bit more of a ride.  Unfortunately, that 2km was more difficult than I had anticipated.  So instead of starting my ride at 10km, I figured 5km for a little bit would be better.  I wound up biking 6.5km!  I was very pleased with that, it took me about 20 minutes.  Next ride I will probably do the exact same thing and then I'll try an 8km ride and then map out a 10km route.


Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. 

Spring time is exercisey time. April 25, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in bicycle, cycling, fitness, health, why.
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Okay, so I might blog here about more than just craftiness and crafty things.  I think I really should call this "a beginner's blog" 'cause I hope the odd person stumbles across this who is just starting out into different things and finds this useful – you are not alone in finding your hobbies through your quarter-life crisis!

Last year I started into yoga a little bit, just in the privacy of my own home.  Something a little more into cardio and less into flexibility I would be fine with doing in front of other people but as my flexibility is now laughable (wasn't always, I was a dancer!) I feel more comfortable with Rodney Yee talking to me and only me in my Power Yoga videos.  I also have found the website ExRx.net very helpful for strength/weight training.  As for cardio, I always played sports and loved it – mostly soccer, but I dabbled in basketball, volleyball, and rugby as well.  Once I graduated from high school though and my schedule became so irregular I found it difficult to make the same committments and slacked off big time.  Eventually I realized – as my fat pants became my regular pants – that it was time to get back into that, time to stop feeling like such a lazy sod.  Only way to stop feeling that way was to stop being one.  So I took up running, but I don't really like running.  I don't stick with it for long when I start – but something I want to get back into and am just now, right now, starting to get back into is cycling.

Not used in ten years, I have a mountain bike from Canadian Tire – a purple SuperCycle "Breeze" which I remember riding with my best friend to the only store nearby at the time, the local Wal-Mart.  I am on the lookout for a new bike, but they're too rich for my yet-to-be-employed blood so I tuned 'er up to take her out in the mean time.  Also have been buying the bike accessories in the mean time.

Cycling Gear, guess I'll do that run down like a knitting pattern or my photo gear.

. Blackburn TPS-2 floor pump
. Filzer dB4LW wireless cycling computer
. Zefal 'Ping' bell
. MEC microwedgie seat bag
. Tools
… 6" wrench
… 4" vice grip
… bicycle wrench
… Louis Garneau compact tool
. Raleigh bicycle helmet

 What about a lock, you're wondering!  Yeah, I haven't picked one up yet – going to pick up one when I purchase a bike.  Maybe sooner depending on how long I wait to get a new bike.  So I'm looking to get a hybrid bicycle 'cause for now I've got a mountain bike which isn't really the right bike for the kind of riding I want to do.

Today I tuned up the old bike, which sat lonely and deflated in my basement, with the help of this tutorial.  It's very satisfying, just like all this craftiness, to work on something like that yourself.  By and large not much needed to be done – the most work came in making sure the wheels & brakes were alright, the wheels were just about perfect and I replaced the well worn-out brake pads with new ones and now I feel confident that my bike will actually stop when I want it to.  I attached my bell so I can ride legally, and unfortunately the little pouch I have is not going to fit under the kind of seat I have.  I then set up my wireless bike computer, which I tested out and it works like a charm.  Awesome.

I'm totally stoked to start riding – this is part good fitness, health & wellness, and part energy conservation for local travel.  I won't lie, this is also motivated by the desire to shed a few pounds – the warmer weather is coming and I would like to lose my winter-warming fat.

So here we go.. !  For now, on the sporty front, time to go watch the Ottawa vs Tampa Bay game.  Playoff game 3, baby, oh yeah! 

More with the GIMP. April 10, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.

My previous post on The GIMP dealt mostly with the 'selective colorization' technique. I've also been working on the Gaussian Blur Overlay tutorial. I tried a landscape that wasn't so great for the shot – in fact it's the very same landscape I used for the other tutorial. For my second attempt, I went with a picture I took in February of some lovely orchids I was sent. Here again is a before and after shot. Or rather, after and before.


GIMP Tutorials April 9, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Links, photography, tutorial.
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About a year ago I abandoned (well, mostly abandoned) my desktop computer – quite the ghetto box running Win98 – for a totally hot, totally enjoyable iBook. At the time I needed to find some image software that was – free – and so I went with The GIMP, The GNU Image Manipulation Program. I would highly recommend this to anyone – in fact, anything I’ve come across with the GNU philosophy has been impressive and it’s just a neat idea. Open source, yes please. And this is from someone who is far from a developer of any kind whatsoever, just someone who uses computers and likes free stuff.

Anyway – so iPhoto is pretty great, for someone like me who was way late into digital and someone who generally doesn’t do much manipulation of any kind. I have been (mostly) satisfied with it. iPhoto Buddy has really upped the satisfaction as my library grew too big and I started using multiple cameras. I have an EX-Z30 Library & a 350D Library, for instance. iPhoto has its limitations, though, it really is for the most minor of touch-ups and if you take good photos that should be fine for the most part. However, some digital darkroom techniques are just too cool to be so in the dark about them. It’s not the same as spending time in the dark & stinking of chemicals, but I am enjoying this on another level.

Anyway – I have had The GIMP for quite some time and I understand that it’s a powerful program – I understand this because I don’t know how to use most of it. But, I figured it was time to learn. And what better place to start than The GIMP’s own TUTORIALS.

I began with the Tutorial on Selective Colorization – that is, taking an image and having most of it be black & white with only a few small things (or one small thing) in colour. Y’know, like greeting cards with two little kids in black & white holding a bright red rose or something. Like that.

I found the tutorial very easy to follow, so if you’re just starting into this sort of thing I would recommend diving right in with it. You just follow their easy steps to create your image and it can be such a dramatic effect that it is terribly satisfying and will give you the confidence to try more techniques and eventually play around with this one to see what you can do. Here’s what I came up with, the second image I tried though I think it’s much cooler than the first.

I used the tutorial on a picture I took in Toronto of a street car crossing Spadina somewhere..

I’m a fan of the technique and will surely be looking for places to use it!

WIP – Mom’s Sophisticated Scarf March 30, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Admin Messages.
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I haven't made much progress on most of my WIP scarves in a while, but I felt like posting a picture of Mom's Sophisticated Scarf that has a minor alteration. Instead of doing the whole thing one colour I added a little stripe. The colours were chosen before the pattern by the scarf recipient so that's where some of that comes from.

I'm really enjoying the look so far, so much so that at some point I will have to make myself one, too! Really, I swear, I promise, at some point I really will make things other than scarves..

Not the greatest photo, but you get the idea. : )

I think when I make it for myself, I may make it a little less wide (it's about 6.5") and I am going to do it either in the grey again, because I love it, or I will do it in a nice bright colour. This is Paton's Classic Wool, black & dark grey.

The Digital Photography Manual March 22, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Admin Messages.
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One of my favorite things in the world is Chapters’ Bargain Books section. I always find good things there, and on my last trip I picked up a copy of Philip Andrews’ The Digital Photography Manual (Fully Revised and Updated): An Introduction to the Equipment and Creative Techniques of Digital Photography.

$12, not too shabby. I have been reading through it and making notes – that’s something I’m getting back into the habit of doing now, taking real actual notes on paper with a pen. So far I’m liking this book, really great explanation for people who know a little but not too much.

The big draw for me is all the stuff on manipulation – it’s the post-processing thing that I know virtually nothing about. While I’m only just starting to get that info now I’m very pleased with this book.

While I’ve only read about a quarter of it I’d have to say I recommend it for amateur photographers who are comfortable with the composition thing but not so hot necessarily on the technical side of things. Good stuff.

Canon PhotoStitch 3.1 March 6, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.

Ever since I first started seeing images digitally “stitched” together, I’d been way impressed and way intrigued. When I got my Digital Rebel XT it came with PhotoStitch software that is very straightforward and does the job. I thought I would take a few screenshots on my iBook and post the process for anyone not in the know.

First thing you do is open the “photostitch launcher” which is an application that lets you either stitch a new image together or view images that you have stitched together previously.

This is what you get. A big blank screen with big buttons that are easy to follow.

So you import the images you have taken and want to stitch together. Just a quick click of the “Open” button to select your images and away you go. When you bring ’em in, you’ll see something like the following in the middle of all that white space as above.

If you squint, there, you can see that these images all have little overlapping bits. From here, you can select some merge options – such as whether or not your image is horizontal, a matrix, and so on. I just use the default settings, myself.

Once you’re ready, you move on to the next step where everything gets stitched together – you’re out of “1. Selection and Arrangement” and into “2. Merge” – easy as pie. You basically just click a button and it does it – gives you back something like this..

As you can see, I did not use a tripod. I just stood in one spot and turned as I took about five or six pictures looking out over the Ottawa River from a spot on Parliament Hill behind the library. Gorgeous day. Now it’s time to save things.

The green outline there is the part that gets saved. You can stretch that however you would like – you can save things in a way that shows the white space to indicate that this is a series of photos stitched together or you can select a part of the photo inside that space so everything looks like one giant image. I shrunk things down and even then my image was over 5,000 pixels wide. It’s pretty spectacular to scan through these huge panoramas, I must say. Here is the final result, which I posted to my flickr photostream. If you view it there, you will see the photos notes which highlight which significant buildings are easily visible in the image.

“Pont Alexandra Bridge” 2006.03.04

Check out the larger size here.

All in all, a very cool programme.  I still have yet to recreate a high school photo project where this same thing was done in film, with the sun out today perhaps I will head out to recreate the shot digitally this afternoon.  That’s something I’ve been meaning to do and meaning to do and I don’t know what has been stopping me – re-learning that course with my new camera.

Knitting Olympics – GOLD! March 1, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in fo, knitting, knitting olympics.

How cool is the Knitting Olympics, seriously. I just loved reading the Yarn Harlot’s post today, The Podium. Towards the end of her post she writes, and this is where I fit in, “[…] those of you who finished very quickly…let this be a lesson to you. You are more remarkable than you think you are. Aim high.”

I technically finished my mittens during the mens gold medal hockey game where Sweden took Finland in a tight match, good game. However, I managed to whip through the first mitten and then took a long break, much longer than should have allowed someone doing such a challenge to finish.

Still, I learned so much – followed a pattern again (second time doing that, after the Irish Hiking Scarf) and knit a project on DPNs for the first time. I learned how to increase, and I decreased, and I picked up stitches. I have a few scarves currently on the go that I have to whip through now before I can make something new and even more exciting.

I’m amazed at the kinds of projects I’ve seen and how quickly they’ve been completed and still so well as a part of this challenge. As I said above, how cool.

Also very cool, our athletes in Italy – what an impressive haul, with the only real disappointment being our men’s hockey team. Am I a complete dork for finding the Nelson Mandela commercial where he talks about the athletes living together for seventeen days and spending only a few moments as adversaries – what a world that would be – really touching? Probably – but that’s okay.