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Our son is so thoughtful, when he is eating his favourite food (watermelon) and Tanya isn’t, he asks,’Mama’s watermelon?’

Becoming a better Photographer

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I was sent a link to an article from a photography friend – How to Become a Photographer. I enjoyed this post, particularly this point:

Photograph the way you like it. Don’t believe in anything but your taste, you are life and it’s life that chooses…You are the only criterion.

Everyday I see things that amaze me, and I want to take photos of these things because they interest me. I need to develop my own style, one from within my self that is a reflection of me. This is hard to do when you are looking to impress other people with your photos.

The article is great and contains other suggestions, below are my favourite points:

  • Don’t force the photos
  • Get away from familiarity and move towards the unknown
  • Print your photos and post them on the wall, put the ones that you like the best higher on the wall

I think the last point is a powerful as well. Posting your photos on wall and constantly changing the order to meet your taste is a form of self reflection.

Self reflection is very powerful.

Phat Thai

About six months ago I bought the book Pok Pok which contains a number of ambitious Thai recipes. This recipe is one that is one of the lowest effort in the book. I have adapted this slightly to what I had on hand and I am putting it on this blog for my reference.

The sauce

This sauce makes the noodles taste great. To make the tamarind water, take some tamarind pulp, chop it and add hot water. Mix well then strain out the pulp. The rest is your water. Use a 2:1 ratio of water to pulp, you may need to add water if it remains too pulpy.

  • 3 tbs of tamarind water
  • 1.5 tbs of fish sauce
  • 1.5tsp of shrimp paste
  • 1tbs of sugar

Mix everything together, taste and adjust. It has a lot of umami  and salt so it isn’t the most pleasant flavor, but you will be adding it to a lot of noodles and this is the main flavouring agent.

The Noodes

  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 lbs of rice noodles cooked
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro
  • A couple handfuls of roasted peanuts
  • Sriracha
  • Lime
  • Sprouts

Beat the eggs, reduce the eggs and add cooked shrimp or chicken if you would like. Cook in small batches, this is enough for two meals, so divide everything in half.

  1. Heat the wok on high
  2. Heat oil in a wok, add the garlic.
  3. Add the eggs and cook, stirring so they don’t burn to the bottom, remove and set aside
  4. Add the drained cooked noodles, carrots and the sauce
  5. Stir until  warm and mixed
  6. Add the cooked eggs and cilantro
  7. Plat the noodles, top with roasted peanuts and sprots
  8. Server with Lime
Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Cycling with a kid

Cycling has always been an important part of our lives. Before Oliver, Tanya and I would ride a lot. This all started to change when Tanya was pregnant. With Oli on the way, riding a bicycle became more difficult for her and long multi-day rides were out of the question. This was our summer of 2012.

In 2013 we hardly cycled, and we knew this would happen. You can’t really cycle with an infant and we didn’t. In the fall of 2013, my parents bought him a Bobike City Mini (handle bar mounted bike seat) which we tried a few times, but ultimately Oliver still needed to grow into it.

One of our first rides in 2014.

2014 is the year we took to our bicycles. Oli was the perfect size for the Bobike seat. In the spring we started to take small trips around town. Then I started to pick up Oliver from daycare on the bike. We were hooked, a way to ride to work, pick up Oli and get exercise. We then tried cyclo-camping and we were having a blast.

On the ride home from daycare.

The Bobike City Mini

Oli lives to ride. Sitting on the front of the bike he likes to point out the things that he sees. He get excited about cars, trucks, bikes and dogs. Although a little uncomfortable for the me, the handlebar mounted seat does an amazing job at keep Oli in the action. The trick with riding a bike with a handlebar mounted seat is to slow down and enjoy the ride. Lower your seat and submit to the scenery, take your time and ride a little bow-legged.

Riding on the Galloping Goose trail headed downtown.

The one issue with the front mounted seat is naps. There isn’t the support that the trailer has, so you have ride with a floppy kid in front of you. This happened for the first time this weekend, he would flop around, first off my right forearms, then head back on my chest, off to the left and finally forward. If a kid needs sleep, he get it, as uncomfortable as it might look.

Oliver, fast asleep while on a ride.

Bicycle trailer

For cyclo-camping, we bought a used chariot to tow behind us. It works great for longer trips, you can store gear in the trailer, keep Oliver out of direct sun light and let your child have a somewhat normal nap (at least compared to the handlebar mounted seat). I think Oliver likes the front mounted seat the best, but for longer trips, the trailer is the best.

Stopping for a photo at Langford on our way to Goldstream.

One of the great advantages of the trailer is that you can ride a bicycle normally. There is no Bobike seat to hit your knees on and you can push yourself to catch a ferry or to get home as quickly as possible.

Back on the saddle

It is nice to have a focus on the cycling again, I am hoping that we will continue to focus on our bicycles in the future. As Oliver grows from a toddler to the next stage, our needs from our bicycle will change and I am looking forward to it.

Posted from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
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Family Visit

A photo of us getting ready for a shot. I find that the photos taken just before a posed shot look more interesting than the posed shot. This shot is alive, fully of action and expression; it is so much nicer than the actual composed shot.

This park is a hidden gem in Victoria. It is called summit park, it has a great view looking north and is really accessible. It would be great to see the sun setting from the top of this park.

Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Tanya on the Beach

Hanging out on the beach, enjoying the sun.

Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
This entry was posted in Family on by .

Sooke Potholes

Ever since moving to the Island I have heard people rave out the amazing Sooke Potholes. We decided to check it out when my sister was in town. I am told that the Sooke potholes have an amazing geological feature that resemble potholes in the river bed. We never got to see them (if you have kids, you know what it is like and sometimes any beach is better than walking another 100m).

We arrived early, got a parking spot and walked up the road. There were a number of beaches a long the way, but the cool pothole feature was a long ways up the trail, so we settled at this location on the Sooke river.

The water was refreshing, and everyone had a great time. I want to go back to see the actual potholes, but that will take a bit more effort.

Heading out for the day at the beach

We are blessed to live in Victoria. Within a short drive there are so many beaches and fun things to do in the summer. My sister was in town a couple of weeks ago and she loves the beach. Oliver also loves the beach. It is a no brainer way to spend the weekend at the beach.

This is us as we head out for the day. We have everything. We need, swim gear, food, the carrier (called an ergo) and Oliver. Oliver also brought this pool noodle, which never made to the beach.

Man snack

Oli gets a man snack, something fast, easy and really tasty. Smoked salmon (caught and smoked by my parents), blueberries (pick by us), avocado and crackers. He loved it.

Posted from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
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The Fuji x100s

This week I bought a new camera. We didn’t need a new camera, our Rebel T2i works great and is only 3 years old. But it is a DSLR and with the amount of camping and cycle trips that we have been doing, we started to think about getting a smaller mirrorless camera.

Early in the morning, the Fuji camera takes amazing shots, even with the black and white setting.

Mirrorless cameras

Mirrorless cameras are the next evolution I the DSLR. Camera technology as matured a lot in the past decade and cameras are starting to shrink. The mirrorless camera create DSLR quality shots in the size of a large point and shoot body. Just like DSLRs, you can buy into a system of lenses and change them.

Tanya excited about coffee in the morning.

The Fuji X100s

The camera I bought is a Fuji X100s, which isn’t technically a mirrorless camera but has many of the same characteristics and internals of a mirrorless camera. The lens is fixed, which means that I can’t change it. At first, I saw this as a disadvantage, a fixed lens would limit my options for the photo that I can take.

Amazing detail in low light.

I thought I would regret not being able to change my lens to a different focal length. Then I thought about it for a while

  • I never change the lens on my Cannon DSLR, it always has the kit lens on it even though I have a more interesting and better quality fixed lens
  • Lenses are expensive, I can’t afford too many other lenses unless I am will to give change my lifestyle, like give up drinking beer (and that isn’t going to happen any time soon)
  • Most of the reviews I read about this camera said they loved that the lens was fixed
  • The lens that Fuji paired with the X100s is a great a lens and is perfectly tuned to this camera

The other issue I originally had with this camera is the lack of zoom feature. It is nice to have the flexibility to zoom for a shot. I started to think of how much I enjoyed using my Pentax istDL with a 50mm fixed lens. Sure zoom is nice, but it isn’t required. Plus fixed focal lenses (aka prime lenses) take better shots.

Taken after the sun had set. This is when I realized how well this camera works in low light.

Retro look

There is a growing trend in cameras to go towards a retro look. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it. The retro look puts a whole new spin on the camera and affects the experience of taking photos. The old-school viewfinder is fun, the controls are all in a logical location and the build quality is what you would expect from a camera from the 70s (good and solid with lots of mechanical switches). This camera is far from retro though. With a large screen on the back and all the things you would expect from a modern digital camera.

The view from the top, keep the tradition of retro cameras and physical controls of the camera settings.

First impressions

I’ve owned the camera for a couple of days now and I love it. I don’t miss the zoom, I don’t want to change the lens and I love shooting photos with this camera. I find that this camera works great in low light situations, like when the sun is setting or inside a dim restaurant. There is something with the way it processes the images that it just rocks.

The Johnson street bridge at night.

It is hard to take amazing photos in the middle of a sunny day with any camera, and the X100s is no different, the harsh light makes it hard to take photos and I have found the DSLR slightly more enjoyable taking mid-day photos but the quality of photos is similar.

Victoria’s inner harbour at night.

Autofocus is another area that the DSLR is a bit better. DSLRs use a different technology for autofocus, which is currently better and faster at focusing the lens, but not by that much. The real questions is the impact of the reduced autofocus capability. Anecdotally I would say I loose 3–7% more photos due to out of focus shots with the X100s than my T2i. However, if I shoot the T2i with live view (though the big lcd screen on the back), the X100s is way faster at focusing. There are a couple of neat manual focus features that give you options when autofocus becomes an issue.

Tanya and I posing for a photo.

This camera rocks in low light. This is where you can see the quality of the lens and sensor. Low light shots taken at ISO 800, 1600 or 3200 look amazing.

Me posing for a shot.

The lens also looks great, in all conditions. I love the bokeh you get with it.

No more photos dad! Taking photos on full auto, just amazing.

The X100s is a great camera and I love using it. The smaller size of the camera means that I will bring it along when I wouldn’t otherwise bring my DSLR. I am looking forward to using this camera in the future.

Posted from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
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