Nov 30, 2008

A Walk Down Main Street in Vulcan, Alberta

My motel sits directly across from the Information Trek Station in Vulcan, Alberta where my dad grew up. We're in town for the funeral of my grandmother who passed away at the age of 92.

Putting the sad stuff aside, I took the opportunity shortly after my arrival to take a walk down Main Street.

First, I had to check out the "space ship." It was closed which is too bad... but the outside of the white painted building was nicely lit by the late afternoon sun.

It looks like much of the town has picked up on the Star Trek tourism thing, for example the computer store called DND Computer is alternatively named Starfleet Engineering.

As well as this HUGE mural on the side of a drug store.

I remember as a youngster during my visits to Vulcan that the local newspaper, The Advocate, switched the logo on its masthead to a pointy ear (I think) and then to the Starship Enterprise. I might be getting the ear thing mixed up because you could actually purchase rubber Vulcan ears that fit over your own... had a lot of fun with those back in the day.

On Main Street The Advocate's office was empty and a sign in the window said they had moved mid-November to a new location in town. I really liked the building they were in for its cool sign. Its seen better days though. I would hate to come face to face with the bird/squirrel that took the chunk out of the 'e'.

Across the street is the Canadian Piano Museum. It was closed too... maybe it will be open before I leave. Who would have thought that such a museum would be located here.

Signs around town showing directions to important locations are very amusing. Love the way those green aliens are dancing.

On the way back to the motel I came across the Vulcan County building which had some important offices in it:
  • County Administration Offices
  • Literacy Programs & Adult Learning Center
  • Vulcan County Waste Authority
OK, so I was mildly amused with the sights, but was noticing a lack of activity on Main Street. Most of the stores were closed and only one cafe and the liquor store seemed to be open. There was also a thing going on in one of the churches (turns out it was a birthday party for someone my uncle knew). I stopped in at the liquor store and bought a four pack of Boddingtons Ale. I only mention this because when I went into the store the change in the quality of light threw me completely and I kind of felt like I was entering a cave... then a voice that I thought was coming from my left said, "good afternoon!" I looked left and there was just a bunch of liquor bottles on a shelf, so I was kinda startled and started to look back forth wondering what the hell. The thing is I kept walking the whole time (only a couple of steps) and was startled to realize the voice was coming from directly in front of me from the proprietor. I think I jumped a couple of inches and I'm pretty sure he thought I was crazy. I got my beer and got out.

By this point I'm feeling like I'm in the twilight zone, THEN I see a fellow photographer from Winnipeg taking photos with a Hassy... what!? I did a double take and a few steps toward the fellow before I realized it wasn't who I thought it was. But it WAS a guy with a Hassy taking photos. I didn't introduce myself and just scurried back to my room.

What a weird day.

Nov 28, 2008

Eight Years for Drunk Driving Death

Back on May 24 of this year I was on my way into work my night photodesk shift when I came across an accident on Redwood Avenue where a pickup truck had slammed into the back end of a parked vehicle. All I had on me was my cellphone so I took photos hoping that everything would be OK for the guy that was being loaded onto the stretcher. I think the driver had been taken to hospital before I got there. I was told that someone else who had been riding in the box of the truck was sent to hospital in very serious condition, people on the scene didn't think he was going to make it.

Well he didn't make it and today the driver of that vehicle was sentenced eight years for the drunk driving death.

Nov 26, 2008

A Trio of Whitetale Deer

I came across these deer while driving around the south end of the city. I was quite surprised at how close I was able to get to them. Crawling through a field on my knees they just stood there and watched as I got close enough with my 70-200mm (plus the 1.4x teleconverter). At one point the largest of the three started to stomp its feet in an interesting semi aggressive way like it was trying to scare me away. It actually started to walk towards me.

Then a noise off in the distance, I think it was a car, scared it away.

Nov 25, 2008

Christmas Cheerboard launch

Jeanne Block (foreground) a volunteer in her 15th year at the Christmas Cheerboard wraps a gift.

Almost 50,000 kids and adults will receive something from the cheerboard.

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UPDATE (081125 6:00PM): One of my infrequent videos... it's amazing the interesting people you get to meet while on assignment.

Nov 24, 2008

Gone Fishing

I haven't been able to put the new point'n shoot camera down and today managed to get some photos from the pet store while we were shopping for Aa's big Christmas gift (no we did not get it at the pet store!!!). She talked quite a bit about Santa though when we finally got her in Santa's village she choked. He did give her a candycane which was the only reason she let us drag her in there anyway.

Nov 22, 2008

10,000 Villages

The store in the south end was so full I started to imagine/fantasize throwing people aside so I could get to the cash register. When I did get to the front of the line and all the stuff was rung through I discovered that I had left my wallet in the car.

I think my vision went a little pinkish red as I calmly gritted my teeth and made my way outside. Patiently watching the little old lady put the pottery nick-nack back on the shelf in the narrow isle. Rest assured I did not mutter and threaten to stuff her in a wicker basket.

After finally paying for everything I made my way to the girls. I felt I had to ask A if she had looked at the price of one of the gifts (which was going to be for Aa) and was in my opinion too expensive. No she had not looked and agreed, it was too expensive. I had to return it.

I'm not sure but I have a feeling the only thing that kept me from bursting into tears was the gingerbread cookie that I was given by one of the many volunteers. The cookie I had planned on giving to Aa. The cookie I stuffed almost whole into my mouth.

It was a good cookie.

We got the recipe.

It also didn't seem as cold outside compared to when we first got there. And it felt like it should have been dark outside too (like when you come out of a matinee).

I was glad to be moving on, though I have a feeling I will be going back soon. They have some really good stuff.

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Nov 21, 2008

Early Christmas for me...

I've never been one for waiting when it comes to gadgets or cameras... I buy it when I want to especially if I can get a deal on the thing I've been obsessing about.

So, yesterday when I opened up the morning paper and the large pull-out ad told me I could get the Canon G10 for less than even I thought I could talk the sales people down to, I decided it was a sign from above. It no longer was a question of if I was going to get this camera, but whether I was going to be able to get it that day.

I went to work and got my assignments and then headed straight over to the store.

The Canon rep was giving the sales people a rundown on the new 5d mkII when I walked in and again feeling it was a sign from above I asked if I could have a look. My boss recently put in a request for a couple of them in his budget proposal for next year. It is definitely a nice camera and one I look forward to using. Hopefully.

From the store I had to go to the Manitoba Legislature to shoot the Throne Speech. I felt this could be a good test of it's capabilities straight out of the box.

First off, I really like the exposure compensation dial... in a pinch instead of trying to figure out how to change the shutter speed and aperture I used it in P mode and dialed down the exposure for the scrums that happen after the big speech.

Shot with an ISO of 400 at 1/50 sec at f/2.8 the camera's auto white balance did a great job, better than my 1d mkIIn which gave me a slight yellow cast from the lights on the half dozen TV cameras.

The image is very large (twice the size of my 1d mkIIn) but the chip is small and viewing the image at 100% shows the resulting artifacts. So, though my mkIIn is only 8MP compared to the G10's 14MP the image produced from the mkIIn is much smoother and less pixly.


1D MkIIn

So, conclusion is it's a keeper. Thanks Santa for the early gift. ;)

If you were wondering who that is in the photos, it's Jon Gerrard the leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba, and yes he obviously forgot to take the stickers off his new glasses. Ouch. I didn't get a chance to watch the television coverage of the speech. My paper didn't use the scrum photo, but rather the photo of him listening to the speech from the throne without his glasses on.

Nov 15, 2008

Santa Claus Parade

Aa got to say hi to Santa before the parade began. Ok... she looked at him from the street and he waved to her. I could see the gears shifting into place in her eyes. The look she had on her face was priceless.

Somehow she had it in her head that they were going to hand out candycanes to everybody. There were a few tears while we walked home, but otherwise I think she had a great time.

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Harper Protest

A protest rally outside the Winnipeg Convention Centre where the Conservative Party of Canada is holding its convention. Organized by the Real Majority Coalition around 100 protesters stood outside the convention centre to listen to speeches and make noise as convention goers entered the building.

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Nov 14, 2008

Sip the Water of Life

Today I got one of those assignments that will last a long time as one of the best experiences ever.

I got to sip from a bottle of scotch that can't be purchased over the counter any more. When it was for sale it went for around $600 a bottle.

A 32 year old Private Vintage Glenfiddich single malt.

Peter Gordon (not my father-in-law even though they have the same name and both are Scottish) is a bigwig with William Grant & Sons the distiller of Glenfiddich and other great Scotch Whisky. He's in town for a chairty whisky tasting dinner to raise funds for the Moose Yearling Foundation.

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UPDATE (081116): The video I shot during Doug's interview was posted this weekend.

Stephen Harper

My first Prime Minister assignment. It was a quick press conference prior to him leaving the conservative convention for the big G20 meeting in Washington.

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Here's the photo on the front of the Free Press website:

Nov 13, 2008

Ground Breaking for Richardson College for the Environment

The sod-turning for a new $60 million science complex dubbed the Richardson College for the Environment.

After the requisite gold shovel earth toss Dr. Charles Wong the University of Winnipeg's Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology receives a certificate. To his right is Lloyd Axworthy, University of Winnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor, Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba, Hartley Richardson, James Richardson & Sons President and CEO, and Susan Thomson, President of the U of W foundation.

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Nov 12, 2008

Blue Bombers Head Coach Released

Winnipeg Blue Bomber President and CEO Lyle Bauer announces the release of head coach Doug Berry. The team had nothing to say regarding a replacement, but seemed to indicate that a GM/Head Coach combo position is possible.

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UPDATE (081112 4:30PM): Our video editor did a great job at the presser and even got me in one of them working!!! Though I may have been caught chimping...

Lyle Bauer announces the release of Doug Berry:

and Doug Berry talks about being fired (with me as the co-star working in the background):

The photo that was on the front of the Free Press website:

UPDATE (081112 4:45PM): I just saw some video from the Blue Bomber website that has me standing up right in front of the camera... :)

Nov 11, 2008


Parade Marshall Ronn Anderson leads the 402 Squadron Pipe Band down Lyle Street in a parade to the Bruce Park Cenotaph on Remembrance Day.

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UPDATE (081111 5:30PM): A Slideshow of the photos I submitted to the Winnipeg Free Press today:

Nov 7, 2008

Crystal Shawanda wins three awards

The Manito Ahbee festival awards.
Best Country CD, Best New Artist and Single of the Year award winner Crystal Shawanda.

More later.

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Snow Bowl

Snow Bowl, originally uploaded by mdcellphoto.

Around 200 other volunteers shovel snow Friday night at the CanadInns Stadium the night before the big playoff game with the Edmonton Eskimos.

More later.

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UPDATE (081107 11:00pm): I was sent to get a photo of Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer shoveling snow with a couple hundred volunteers at the CanadInns Stadium the night before the playoff game against the Edmonton Eskimos. Mr. Bauer got caught in traffic and I had to stand around for about 45mins which wasn't so bad, though it was chilly out.

I watched as the last of the sunlight slipped away and was really happy they turned on the big lights. While I waited I got a photo of a bunch of the volunteers picking up some shovels. They arranged to have around 250 of them on hand just in case.

UPDATE (081108 2:25pm): To get the photo of Lyle Bauer I wanted to have it look like he was shoveling snow right into the camera... after several attempts at tossing snow AROUND me I just told him to "throw it right at me, cover me with the snow!" Boy did he ever! With a big grin he just dumped snow on me. After a few of those I started to worry about my gear. I still had to go to the Manito Ahbee awards at the MTS Centre.

I decided to put together a slideshow of the whole photo shoot... many bad images here, but I think it's an interesting bit of what we go through to get the photos for the newspaper.

For some reason the software I used to make the slideshow inserted a few white frames and a couple of jumpy spots... couldn't figure out how that happened or how to fix it, so I apologize for that.

Here is the photo that ran on the front of the Free Press...

Nov 6, 2008

Donated Christmas Tree

Donated Christmas Tree, originally uploaded by mdcellphoto.

Allen Kotowski and Sandra Colles who live in the North End on Fortier Avenue donated their 30' Colorado Blue Spruce to the City of Winnipeg for the tree that will stand in front of City Hall this holiday season.

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UPDATE (081106 3:20PM): My boss made a combo image of some of the photos I took for the main page of the website.

I decided to put together a slide show of the ten photos I submitted to the paper...

Nov 5, 2008

Tuition Freeze Rally

Tuition Freeze Rally, originally uploaded by mdcellphoto.

I was sent to a rally at the legislator today.

I didn't have much info prior to getting there, it turned out to be about the tuition freeze.

Here's what our website posted,

University and college students will be rallying on campuses and then gathering at the Legislature today to urge the Doer government to reinstate the tuition freeze.

Still not a lot of info...

Lots of students, lots of noise. Some of the students got into the Legislature building and occupied the Black Star Chamber which stretched the security a little thin. They called in the cops, so I had to stay to see if anything happened.

After about an hour and a half the University of Manitoba Student Union president showed up and told everyone that he had talked to security and made arrangements so that the protesters could stay.

They just had to sign in at the front desk like all visitors are supposed to... and that was that.

Crisis averted. I could leave.

Watch for a small slideshow later of the photos that I took.

UPDATE (081105 6:30PM): A new story has be posted to the Free Press website...

and the photo that was posted on the front of the site.

UPDATE (081106): The video I shot was posted this morning at the Free Press website.

Nov 3, 2008

Bob Dylan concert

Bob Dylan concert, originally uploaded by mdcellphoto.

I forgot that Dylan doesn't interact with the crowd, though it was my third concert of his I've been to.

The top three songs he played tonight would have to be All Along The Watchtower, Like A Rolling Stone, and Blind Willie McTell. Like the reviewer for our paper said Blind Willie McTell was

haunting and defiantly modern, perhaps the most immersive tune of the night.

I was a lot further back from the stage than I thought I would be... 16th row on the floor. I wanted to get closer to try to get a better photo of Dylan, but security was more intense than I would have thought. At one point mid-concert our row was asked to show our tickets...

It was a fun concert even though my better half almost couldn't go because of a migraine just before the concert.

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Nov 1, 2008

Bomber Report

A little late to get this out there, but I got to shoot my first Bomber Report video this week during the last practice of the regular season. Usually shooting the Bomber practice involves a lot of looking for the handful of players the reporter thinks might make it into the story and trying to get still images of them. Video is not shot during most practices.

If I have time (ie. no other assignments to rush off to immediately) I take my time and can spend most of the practice trying to get a good shot.

On Friday when I shot this video I had to go from the Dough Barry press conference to the field to get stills of a couple of players then off to do the post practice player interviews with the video camera and then the Bomber Report stuff with Ed Tait and Tyler Walsh.

Normally the assignment is a no stress job, but on Friday it felt like everything could go wrong any minute. The players were not really practicing so not much action was going on. Thank goodness one of the players, Alexandre Gauthier, brought his daughter onto the field in her Halloween costume. That made the Sports front. Other than that there was not much to shoot.

Then, when we did the Bomber Report I was convinced that the exposure compensation I made was too much. The sun was directly behind our commentators and I had to lighten the image so that they didn't have too much shadow on their faces.

Even though Tyler assured me that everything was fine I was still nervous.

Pooh Sticks

Pooh Sticks, originally uploaded by mdcellphoto.

After the female side of A's family had their photos taken by a pro photographer (not me) at the BDI bridge we played Pooh Sticks. Aa was great and actually seemed to be having fun. I have her trained not to be fearful of the camera.

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