Taking photos of fireworks

Yesterday was Canada day, and I was in a location where I could picture of the fireworks. This is the first time I have ever taken photos of fireworks, and it was a bit of a learning experience. If your exposure is too long the fireworks will be washed out and over exposed, increase the shutter speed and you won’t get amazing lines. The hard part is practice, you get about 20 minutes to get it right and fireworks are somewhat rare for me.


1 second exposure, 400 ISO, f/6.4

I used auto exposure setting and was playing with the exposure time. in hindsight, I should have set it to manual mode and tried playing around with the time. The wonderful thing with digital cameras is you can get the instant, feedback of your exposure settings. Some of the photos that I took were a were way too overexposed.

1/2 second exposure, 400 ISO and f/7.1. Before edits on the left, and after edits not he right shows how important Lightroom is in making firework shots look good.

A ND filter would have probably produced better results too. Making sure the camera was set to the least sensitive ISO would have been a good idea, it was not.

1/2 second, 800 ISO, f/16

I used a tripod, that worked great, but I didn’t have a remote release for the camera. Because the Fuji X100s doesn’t have wifi, I couldn’t hook it up to my phone to remotely release the shutter and change the settings. This is something the GoPro excels at.

1 second exposure, 200 ISO and f/16, nicely exposed fireworks

Lightroom edits can make a huge impact on the image. I made simple edits to darken the sky to let the fireworks pop. A bit of split toning to bring out the pinks, greens and purples.

6.5 Seconds, f/11 and 800 ISO, lots of room to reduce the over exposed areas of fireworks.

I need practice taking photos of fireworks. There are so few opportunities to do so. I am writing this blog post as a reminder to myself of the lessons I learned last night. Not sure the next time I will be able to take photos of fireworks.

Posted from Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
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Family Vacation, Okanagon Valley Part 2

Part 2 of our trip to the Okanagon where we camped in Bear Creek and spent some time in Kelowna.

Family Vacation, Okanagon Valley Part 1

Family trip to the Okanagon Valley. This is part 1, of the series, part 2 will be coming soon. We traveled from Victoria to Vernon to visit with my sister. We went to the beach and went for a few mountain bike rides.

Posted from Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
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Learning the GoPro

The GoPro camera is one of the most interesting cameras around. It’s small enough to add to a selfie stick or your helmet, yet takes amazing video. Like all cameras, there is a learning curve with this camera. The limitation of this camera result in a frustrating experience, but learn how to use it, and you will take amazing footage. Personally, there are few uses where this camera is perfect:

  • action shots while riding a mountain bike (or snowboard, or anything requiring a helmet)
  • action shots while near water, with the right housing, this thing is waterproof
  • providing a birds eye view when attached to a selfie stick
  • a dead easy way to setup 4K timelapse shots (why doesn’t my x100s do this?)

Battery life

I am not clear what good battery life for a camera like this is. For the Fuji X100s you can expect around 400 images, on a DSLR you can expect 2000. For the GoProd you get somewhere between 1 – 2 hours worth.

60 min * 60 seconds * 30 fps = 108,000 images

Just doing the raw math, it looks like getting an hour footage is a lot of images, and one shouldn’t complain about getting less than 2 hours of footage per battery.

Going for a long ride? Carry extra batteries.

Taking a time lapse longer than 2 hours? Attach an external battery.

Wifi is killing battery life

I thought that the wifi is killing your batter life. Wifi lets you connect to the camera via that GoPro remote or the GoPro smart phone app.

After reading Understanding your GoPro Part 2 and doing some rough battery tests, I am changing my opinion. Wifi does decrease battery life, but having the access to the app is worth the loss of battery life.

Using the app (which requires the wifi from the GoPro to be turned on) is really sweet. It allows you to change settings, see what the camera sees from your phone and enables a neat bookmarking feature. I am thinking that you would be silly to not use wifi, unless you really need the battery power.

Timelapse battery life

While taking a timelapse, I found you get almost 2 hours of footage.

  • Timelapse in picture every 10 seconds 28 seconds (112 minutes of footage)
  • Timelapse in picture every 10 seconds with wifi on 25 seconds (100 minutes of footage)

Lesson: if you need to take a long timelapse hook the GoPro to external power. Hooking up external power is really easy.

The remote rocks, but the battery sucks

The remote for the GoPro is cool, it uses wifi to connect to your camera and provides and extra set of buttons. I have attached this to a selfie stick and my handle bars and both situations I was happy with the results. The only complaint I have is that the battery life isn’t as good as it could be. When it is convenient to pull out your smart phone, that is the better way to go. But when you can’t pull out your smartphone (near/under water, using gloves) the remote is perfect.

The battery life is only good for a couple of hours which isn’t long enough in some cases.

Know you modes and settings

The GoPro has three capture modes:

  1. Video
  2. Photo
  3. Multi-shot

Inside each mode, there are many different settings. I usually welcome this level of configuration, but when you are first learning how to use the camera, you will end up missing some shots. On April 20, 2016 I rode Cobble Hill with the chest mount on. When I got back home I noticed that the only part of the ride I recorded was four 1 minute clips of the end of the ride. Turns out I had the video setting to looping, which only keeps the last X minutes of recordings. My Cobble Hill ride was set to keep the last 5 minutes.

In the video mode, yo have the following settings:

  • video
  • time lapse video
  • video and photo
  • looping

Inside each setting, you get to choose the resolution, the frame rate and a multitude of other options. This level of configuration is great, but at the same time, somewhat intimidating, you definitely need to RTFM.

An example of a time-lapse 


Too dark

On April 26, 2016 I rode Hammerfest with the ISO set to 400. When I looked at the footage, it was way too dark, and I am pretty sure this is because the ISO is set to 400. I changed the setting to make it higher with hopes that it will look better.

Follow up, on April 27, 2016 I rode with the ISO max much higher (3200) and the footage is much better. Don’t keep you ISO too low if you are in low light situations.

Frame rates and quality

This camera is too good for the average person. The standard setting for this camera is 1080 at 60fps, and that is too high in my opinion. 10 minutes of video at this quality is 4GB. My average ride is 2 hours long, which would be almost 50GB. Meaning that my 1TB drive could only hold 20 rides worth of footage.

More than 30 fps

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should
– Sherrilyn Kenyon

When you are strapping a GoPro camera to your helmet to take shots of a trail, you don’t need to take 60fps. 60fps allows you to slow the footage down, but if you are me, you will likely be speeding up the footage, not slowing it down.

If you are using the camera to get a sweet action shot, then it makes sense to use 60fps, like this shot:

Things that I love about the camera

There are a few cases where the camera rocks:

  • you can hook up any USB battery to the camera with a USB mini cable extending the battery life significantly
  • the camera is small and easy to bring along on almost any adventure
  • there are many options and modes, allowing you to pick the right setting, once you figure out how to use it
  • super easy to strap to a Joby Tripod which is helpful for time lapse shots and holding the camera

Most people seem to buy a GoPro camera to strap to your helmet and use for action shots, and that is what this camera was designed to do. I am not extreme to justify using that as the only usecase of this camera, I use it as a small camera to capture video, and it works great for that.

Final thoughts

This camera is awesome. Whenever I look at the quality of the footage from this camera I am impressed. I feel compelled to use this camera in novel ways, capturing life with a unique perspective. Whether it is high up on a selfie stick, down low near the water, or on your chest while you ride down a 40% grade with your mountain bike, the GoPro is there for you. This camera takes high quality shots of your extreme life, or if you are like me, your pretty mundane life. There are a ton of options and settings, learn the camera and make good (edited) videos of your adventures.

See my channel on youtube to see what I am up to with the camera. Not all videos make it onto this site.

Fall on the mountain bike

I took a bit of a tumble last night. I was riding Who’s Your Daddy at Hartland. I went to the hospital because there was a bit of a gash, good thing because I got stitches.

Time for me to get some elbow pads, and knee pads.

Posted from
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Cumberland Race

Click for Details


On the hottest day of the year, I decided to complete a race, in Cumberland. The race was 30km long and I convinced Ed, my friend to come a long for the ride.

My goal was to finish, and I did. It took me 2 hours and 43 minutes to complete the race, and it was fun and challenging.

This was posted on June 27, 2016, the race was on June 5, 2016.

Tanya got sick, Oliver Laughed and Kelly rode his bike

I made this video just after May long Weekend, but I didn’t have a chnace to embed it here. So this is posted a bit late.

The style of video is inspired by Casey Neistat, who is someone who makes normal life interesting through the use of multiple camera angles, great editing and good music. His videos flow and I tried to make mine flow in a similar way.

I started editing this on my iPad on iMovie. The whole process worked out well, but I would have enjoyed doing the fine edits on my Mac. I couldn’t get them to transfer between each other (I think the issue was space, HD videos take up a lot of space).

Grumpy Face

That time when your kid starts to use his sense of humour, that was yesterday. 

So many neat things to see downtown.

Tanya works the odd Saturday, and with winter coming really close, there isn’t a whole lot to do without a car. This weekend Oliver and I went on a little adventure, to get sushi and some mittens.

Selling the dream

It started the night before, I asked Oliver if he wanted to get sushi for lunch while mom was working. Oliver was game, but I think it was more the promise of riding the bus than getting the sushi.


Oliver wasn’t the biggest fan of the sushi, although he did like pulling the avocado and yams out of the sushi and eating that, al el carte style. The dorayaki was a big hit though. 

Running around downtown

Kids have a lot of energy, and this was super clear as he would run up and down the sidewalks. He likes to jump on man holes (or whatever you call them). I could take a few pictures, but he would move after I took a few. The fact that he is willing to let me take a few shots is pretty cool though, which is a change from this summer.

So much movement, running sround and around and around

The highlight was probably when I saw this alley and thought it would make a good gangster shot. I told him, “show me your grumpy face,” he was pretty excited, and gave me a pretty good grumpy face, in which you can see he is bursting with excitement and happiness underneath.

Rocking the V60

Last Christmas Tanya gave me the Hario V60 come filter system and a Hario gooseneck kettle. Together with a scale and timer, you can make damn good (and sour) coffee.These essential coffee nerd components hard hard to use, but with practice you can master how to make a great tasting cup. I usually make my coffee at work using a simpler system, and I enjoy the times that I get to use the pour over at home.

Coffee Blooming

There are a lot of variables with the V60, which complicates the process. The size of your grind, the speed in which the water washes the beans and the temperature of the water. For these reason, the V60 is not for everyone, but if you are will to work at the process, you can make some great tasting coffees.


There are a ton of resources on the web to tell you how to make coffee using the V60, or any other obscure coffee brewing method. For me, the following were the techniques I used to learn how to brew with this setup:

  1. Unsurprisingly, YouTube. There are hordes of videos that will show you how to make a cup of coffee, the best part of these videos is you learn the jargon.
  2. The Kohi app which is a great time and brew calculator. You put in how much coffee you want to drink, and it tells you how many beans to grind and the rate of flow for the water. This app helps you nail the timing when washing the beans.
  3. Visiting good coffee shops, in Victoria like Hey Happy Coffee or Bows and Arrows. Make sure you get close to the barista while they make your coffee so you can see what they are doing.

sour coffee?

Most people don’t like sour coffee, but I do. After drinking coffee for 15 years, I think my palette is searching for something different, most coffee is boring, predictable, and uninspiring. Slowly I have transitioned to single origin coffee, which provides the adventure that I am looking for. When coffee is brewed through a V60, the coffee is left intact, allowing you to taste the kaleidoscope of flavours surrounding the bean. It just so happens the beans that I buy (mostly Kenya these days) are sour, fruity and acidic,.
Out of all the coffee preparation tools at my disposal, nothing pulls the unique flavours like the pour over. The la Pavoni was harder to master, but the pour over makes the most interesting flavour beans.

This is called riding the bloom.

My Favourite places to buy coffee from

Being on the west coast, Victoria has a lot of great coffee shops. Many roast their own coffee and they create some amazing beans.

  • Hey Happy Coffee is not a roaster, but they do stock a selection of coffee from elsewhere, which can provide you with a distination when you are abroad (when I was in Portland, I went to Heart Coffee because I bought it from Hey Happy Coffee)
  • Bows and Arrows roasts the best coffee (and supplies Habit with their coffee), but their odd hours make it difficult to get there.
  • Drumroaster Coffee has been around forever, and is available all over Victoria. Their beans are top notch and their prices are 1/3 cheaper than the other two listed above.
  • Discovery Coffee and Fernwood Coffee roast great coffee too, I just find they never have anything as bright and acidic to my tastes

Cycle tour to Sequim Bay and back

There is no way to arrange English letters to describe how to pronounce Sequim. Take the ‘sq’ from square and finish with the ‘wim’ from swim, and you get Sqwim, which doesn’t fit our English language rules either, so instead you get Sequim.

Over the past four days we have learnt a great deal about Sequim, two of it’s beautiful parks and one amazing bike path called the Olympic Discovery Trail. It all started with Tanya and I trying to be cycle tourists while including our 2.5 year old at the same time. We love to ride, and we have proven that it is possible to do one or two night trips with only the gear you pull on your bike. But we wanted to try something more ambitious, something with multiple campsites. This trip was a trial, to see what it is like to do a real cycle tour with a kid.


TL; DR means Too Long; Didn’t Read and is used to as a one liner about long posts, like this one.

Sequim is a nice place, the Olympic Discovery Trail is amazing and cycle touring with a kid is really hard. We will probably stick to car camping for longer trips in the future.

Day 1: Leaving Victoria and Port Angeles

Storing the bikes on the Coho Ferry

Saturday night Tanya and I packed our panniers for the trip ahead. We have a pretty good system for packing our gear and attaching it to our bikes. On Sunday morning we left our house about 9:30 to catch the 10:30 ferry from the Victoria harbour to Port Angeles. During boarding and on the ferry we were asked a lot of questions about our setup. The combination of the Weehoo, our gear and the 2.75 year old raises a lot of question from other travelers.

After arriving at Port Angeles we took turns grocery shopping at the small grocery store, when we were ready, about an hour later, we were on our way to our first campground. We headed east down the Olympic Discovery Trail.

The paved trail is restricted to foot traffic, bicycles and horses (we didn’t see any horses). The trail follows the shoreline for while before heading inland where it traverses farmlands. We broke off the trail and headed North to Dungeness campground. I can’t think of a better way to tour, no traffic, great views and a smooth ride, the Olympic Discovery trail is close to perfection for cycle touring.

One of the bridges on the trail

Day 1–2: Dungeness Spit and campground

Just happy to be camping

“Sooo, I guess I better make some dinner”

The first two nights we stayed at the Dungeness campground, which is located near the Dungeness spit. Tanya did her homework and picked a great campsite. It was open and perfect for catching the heat from the sun, yet protected enough from the constant cool wind form the Juan de Fuca. The campsite is perched near a 50m Cliff to the ocean, which resulted in some amazing photos of the sun setting.

The sunset at Dungeness spit

Dungeness paths, perfect for Oliver

The spit is also very cool, similar to the Sidney spit, there is a small band of sand that stretched out into the ocean for long way. The main difference between Dungeness spit and Sidney spit is the west coast feeling you get at the Dungeness spit. Large waves crashed along the shore, accompanied by a strong cool wind, such a powerful feeling and much different than the hot and calm Sidney spit.

Going for a ride down to the spit

West coast dad: strider bike attached to bike messenger bag, down at the ocean.

The steep cliffs of Dungeness park

Walking up from the spit

The campground is about 16KM from Sequim, and the best route would be to take the Olympic Discovery trail. The bridge spanning the Dungeness river was out and you need to take a use a detour to get around the stream crossing. The detour forces you to ride on a quiet highway, which isn’t great, but isn’t horrible either. Sequim is filled many bike racks, lavender plants and restaurants.

White chocolate raspberry pancakes from the Oak Table in Sequim

Day 3–4: Sequim Bay State Park

On the Olympic Discovery Trail to Sequim Bay State Park, so sweet

The bike train that I get to drive, bike in front, with Weehoo (and Oliver) behind.

The next campsite that we stayed at was Sequim Bay State Park. The Olympic Discovery Trail continues through Sequim on a path through the rain forest that is parallel to the 101 highway. The campsite is nice, quiet and protected from wind. This protection from the wind comes at a cost, tall Douglas Fir and Cedar trees block the sun from reaching the campsite, make it this site feel like a cramped BC parks campsite.

Bubble gun = hours of entertainment for a 2 year old

Just happy to be out riding a bicycle

Sequin bay campground

On day 4 we took a rest day, this was a day for Oliver. From using a bubble gun to riding his strider bike, we wanted to minimize the time he spent in the Weehoo.

Making drinking chocolate and wine.

Day5: The ride home

The last leg of our trip was the ride home, which was a 40km ride to the Port Angeles ferry and another 5km back to home from the Victoria Harbour. Packing up the bike was a challenge, by 10am we off to the ferry. We had planned to catch the 5:20 ferry, we thought this would give us sufficient time to complete the ride.

Hmmm, oatmeal


We stopped in Sequim for a quick snack and a coffee. One thing we didn’t notice on our ride to the Dungeness valley was the tail wind. While heading home Westward, we fought the head wind and it was a little bit of a slog. Tanya even coined a term for riding against the headwind:

It is like pedaling through pudding

The wind was constant, but throughout the trail various windbreaks and treed areas improved the riding conditions. Given the blue sky and the mid 20° heat, the ride was very enjoyable.

A good mix of terrains and vistas

Riding the whole route from Sequim bay to Port Angeles gave us the opportunity to see the varied terrain on the Olympic Discovery trail. From Sequim bay, this list represents the different types terrains that we experienced:

  1. Start at Sequim bay
  2. Rolling hills, covered rain forest and slight ocean views
  3. Suburban/rural Seqium, flat with with low traffic
  4. Flat farm land, head wind
  5. Step hills and rain forested covered (probably the most challenging part of the ride)
  6. Ocean views, strong headwind, think pedaling through pudding
  7. Port Angeles

Most of the riding was on a dedicated cycle/walking trail without cars. The prevailing wind comes from the west, so if you are going to do this leg of the trip in a one way direction, I would start in Port Angeles. This path is amazing, we saw many cycle tourists along the way using the path and I bet this helps the local economy with attracting tourists. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a similar trail from Victoria to Nanaimo?

Time for a break, in the middle of the brutal hill section

Letting Oliver ride his bike

Riding home

This trail is perfect for toddler on strider bikes, there are no cars and little cycling traffic which is perfect for the sporadic and winding cycle behavior of our son. In total he rode about 3km, and I noticed a difference when I wasn’t pulling him and his bike. This gave him and opportunity to stretch his legs, burn some energy and have some fun. Although this slowed us down a bit, it was well worth it and Oliver loved it as well.

Riding down the (small) hills of the Olympic Discovery Trail

Dinner and the ferry home

We arrived in Port Angeles around 4pm, just enough time to eat at the Next Door Gastro Pub and pick some hard to find american IPAs. I fell asleep on the ferry ride home and it was so nice to arrive in the busy Victoria inner harbor. It is nice to be home after a trip like this.

Our cycle touring style

It has become apparent to me that our cycle touring style is not well suited for a toddler. We typically like to set up camp and head into town to get groceries and grab a bite to eat at a restaurant. This means that we spend a lot of time on the bike, which isn’t that much fun for Oliver. 4 our of the 5 days we cycled 30km or more, and Oliver didn’t enjoy these long rides. Before Oliver was around, this type of cycling was great, it meant that we burnt a lot of calories and we got to see a lot of the communities that we visited.

As I said above, this trip was a trial, and to me, it doesn’t make sense to cycle tour with a toddler. I love the challenge of touring, and do so with a young one adds another level of complexity. The added pain with the takedown of camp, cooking meals and riding long distances makes the trip a bit too hard and had us longing for our car a few times.

Goldfish crackers are a great way to keep Oliver occupied while we pack up camp.

This does not mean that we are done with cyclo-camping. Cyclo-camping offers the best of both worlds, one day of a decent ride, a consistent home-base (with a playground or beach nearby), no runs into town to stock up and the only time you take down camp is to head home. For this, there are a number of campsites perfect, including: GoldstreamMcDonaldBamberton. and Ruckle.

What’s next?

Bikes have always been a big part of our lives, after all we have traveled through India and Mexico on them. Using bike as the only form of transportation with a toddler may not be the best option for trips longer than 2 days. We have plans to do another cyclo-camping trip on August long weekend, but I think both of us want a little break from the bikes and would welcome the amenities offered when you use a car.

Dreaming of a sprinter van RV, something that is a little less work

Posted from Sequim, Washington, United States
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