Posts filed under ‘Blog’

Nikon Back

I love doing new things that require a bit of planning. As previous posts show, I have started up photography again and been a bit successful with it. I recently had a photo chosen by the Torontoist to display on their site. If you want to see the photo go here.

Anyhow, that bit of news is not what I want to write about here. In browsing Flickr I discovered a Flickr friend had produced an image using a Canon 5DmkII mounted on a Widepan sliding back attached to a Linhof 4×5″ Technika V camera with a Wollensak 11.5″ lens (see the image here) . I loved the color the lens produced and I also was attracted to the challenge of doing the same thing using my Crown Graphic. I decided I would try to attach my Nikon D80 to the camera. The fun was in the planning.

I needed a mount for the camera and Stan, at International Camera (now closed) gave me an old Nikon lens that had the mount I needed. I took the lens apart and voila, I had the adaptor. My next problem was to decide how to mount the adaptor to the Crown Graphic. I let the problem sit for a few weeks and one morning woke up with the solution. I would go to the art store and pick up a foam board that I could cut to proper dimensions and mount the adaptor on. While looking at the foam boards I saw a 5×7 canvas that artists use to paint on. It was perfect, two glued together would be just the right thickness for the Graflox back on my Crown. I bought some flat black paint and three boards and the total came to $11.

I measured the film holders and applied the measurements to the canvas, cut the canvas, found the centre location for the adaptor and cut the required hole for it. Everything worked like a charm. Actually, I was going to mount the adaptor with the lens barrel but decided to use an extension tube as a spacer for the camera and mount the adaptor fluch on the back. Here is the pre paint (I need to paint the Nikon back black) results……………

Initially I mounted the camera using a 36mm extension tube for a spacer but I couldn’t focus the camera to infinity. I stopped down the lens to f32 and this photo resulted……….

This was my very first picture using the Nikon on my Crown Graphic. Although totally out of focus I was really happy about it.

I exchanged the 36mm tube with a 20 mm one and these are the shots I took with it……….

All the above shots were with the focus on infinity so I had to test a macro shot using the same setup.

Since the Graflex uses bellows there was no reason why I couldn’t get as close as I wanted to my subject. Anyhow, the results of a closeup………………….

The lens on my Crown Graphic is Schneider Kreuznach Xenar 135 mm, a “normal” lens for 4×5. I don’t know what the focal length is when my Nikon is mounted on it but I suspect it must be around 500 or 600 mm. It was a fun project and now I need to find another one. Hmmm, maybe build a camera using an old Minolta zoom lens as a start.

May 10, 2010 at 8:25 pm 1 comment

Large Format – A Love / Hate Relationship

I belong to an online photo management and sharing application called Flickr. It’s a great place to get answers to technical questions, get critiqued on your photos and make contact with other photographers. As I have mentioned here, I have been slowly immersing myself in the world of large format photography and have documented stupid mistakes I have made while trying to take photos. A friend I had met on Flickr (and gone on photo shoots with) provided a link to endless errors large format photographers make.

If you want to browse the actual location it is here.

I have edited the list here but left the Flickr names of the members at the beginning of each entry. If you link to the site you can click on any of the contributors to see their work.

The originator of the discussion is Berin Loritsch and he starts off with;

“I have a love/hate relationship with large format photography. I think I have made enough mistakes to fill a book. As far as operating a LF camera, it’s easy to appreciate the creative freedom that it provides. Although if composing a picture on the ground glass was all that was needed, life would be good. It’s when you have to deal with everything about film handling and exposure that you really appreciate all that your small format camera does for you–film or digital.

 Here’s the challenge, let’s see if we can come up with a complete 101 ways for messing up a LF picture. I’ll get the ball rolling:

1. Load the film backwards in the film holder
2. Load the film in front of the retaining rails so that when you pull the dark slide out, the film falls into the camera. (that was embarrassing).
3. Pull the dark slide out before you switch off the preview mode on the lens.
4. Use the numbers from a meter that only gives you EV100 values when you have ISO 25 film. Really dark negatives.
5. Shoot a really low contrast scene and forget to push development. You get negatives that don’t have enough contrast even when printing grade 5.

Michael Costolo
6. Put empty film holders in your bag (only to find out they are empty when you go to develop).
7. Not flipping the darkslide over after a shot and then not being able to determine which sheet you exposed.

Berin Loritsc
8. Forgetting to compensate for bellows draw on closeups
9. Forgetting to compensate for reciprocity failure for long exposures

csant
10. Forget to tighten the controls and have your composition go down the drain when you insert the film holder (of course you realize the mistake only once you develop the film).

mattneighbour
11. Forgetting to wind on the roll film back and making a double exposure.
12. putting roll film in the 6×12 back the wrong way round, then wondering where all the frame numbers went. Fortunately I realized and didn’t try to shoot backing paper.

csant
13. When using several holders with different films (b/w, colour…), forget to take note while loading – and then not remember which film is in which holder.

electrosmack1
14. Always remember to clean out the film holders before inserting a new sheet of film. I’ve messed up more than a few negatives with dust.

Rob Cruickshank
16. Pull the Grafmatic right out of the back, instead of changing sheets.

matthew_comeskey
17. load two sheets into the holder, both backwards.
18. forget to change the lens apeture and speed when changing the lens.

and so on…

tALSit de CoD
19. Pulling off the WRONG darkslide when about to take a shot and ruining a great shot… 
Originally

Ray Pempengco
20. Forgetting to bring either a loupe, cable release, or a tripod (or all of the above).

Seqqat
21. Lose track of which film is in the holder (getting mixed up in pencil inscriptions on the holders), eventually shooting black and white when you thought this was velvia…
22. Forgetting to turn dark slide after loading the holders, getting confused, and paying E6 development of unexposed sheets…

Mr. E.
23. scratching/bending film when it doesn’t want to come out of the holder easy.
24. forgetting to change ISO on your meter when shooting different speeds.

xtol7
25. loading multiple sheets into the same Expert drum slot for developing
26. shooting film at the wrong speed after carefully labeling film holders
27. forgetting to close down the lens
28. trusting old beater shutters which were wildly inaccurate
29. light leaks on a homemade lens board
30. lensboard not secured and lens jumped into a lake
31. taking spot readings with my fancy meter in incident mode
32. fingerprints on film from clumsy loading 
Originally

Paul Vernon Photography
33. using so damn much front tilt that the edge of the image circle runs across the middle of the frame.

Paul Vernon Photography
34. Set tripod up temporarily with legs still collapsed. Put 4×5 field camera on top of tripod. While rummaging in bag for lens, use big butt to knock tripod and camera over into rushing stream. Spend rest of day drying out camera.

yo_tuco
35. Forgetting to reverse the darkslide when sliding it back into the holder after taking to picture to indicate an exposed sheet .
36. Unexpected double-exposures

OldUncleMe
37. Lose grip on darkslide in the wind and watch darkslide sail away.
38. Bump camera unknowingly and make exposure 20° to the left.

pax.
38. Load the holder with a sheet of film only to discover when you go to develop the sheet, the backing paper was loaded into the holder too.

pommas
39. Forget to drop the bed when using a wide angle lens and get blessed with fuzzy stuff in the foreground of every shot

40) Assume that what is in focus with the rangefinder is in focus on the film 
Originally

jayavant
missing number 15 in a list of 101 things that can go wrong

so i’ll do it now, out of order
15. forgetting which box you have stored your exposed sheets of film in, waiting to be processed, and opening a box of film thinking it is the box you keep processed velvia slides in….

Tim Johnson
41. Having two unopened boxes of Type 55 in the fridge – finding it difficult to make the decision on which first and last project to shoot with this classic film.

GregRob
42. Being so afraid of the wasting precious large format materials that you let purchased film expire instead of shooting it.
43. Failure to fully re-insert the envelope on a Polaroid packet into the holder before pulling it through the processing rollers.
44. Forgetting to switch the Polaroid 545 holder over to “process” mode before pulling the envelope while the holder is in your hand.

Sandeha Lynch
45. Kick tripod without realising it.
46. Somebody else kicks tripod while you were searching for the cable release.

OldUncleMe
47. Insist on hand inspection (in dark-loading bag) and almost get laughed out of Schipol Airport (Amsterdam). The security genius followed my instructions, but left the film box open in the bag when he was done!!

enjoy_alaska
47. When using quickload holders, don’t pull the darkslide out enough and get a cropped image.
48. Using a wide angle lens, carefully take a picture of your cable release.

OldUncleMe
49. Count seconds by Mississippi’s because you forgot your watch.

Berin Loritsch
50. Your cable release gets stuck because you bought a cheap Chinese release… only to find out that the release works differently than you thought.

pommas
51. Today’s screwup: Change lenses but still set everything up as though it were the other lens (went from a 90mm to 135mm, but looked at the DOF for 90mm and used the viewfinder set for 90. Grrrr)

Rob Cruickshank
52. forget to set the focal plane shutter on the Speed Graphic to “O”
53. Set the shutter to “T” when you mean “B” and turn a 5 second exposure into an indeterminately long exposure.

Berin Loritsch
54. buy outdated color film, but forget to compensate for speed loss… On the bright side, the home development went well and the color balance was good.

Ben Rains
55. Having holes in your camera bellows that cause secondary pinhole images to show up on your film.
56. Not being careful enough with your film development agitation and having your negatives come out unevenly developed.

killtheDJ
57. Mis-labeling your film holders so that you think you are shooting black and white, when instead you are shooting color, and then subsequently developing those color negatives in b&w chemicals… oh and it’s 8×10 film.

MJM67
58. Having you stopwatch malfunction (OK it was me) 3 times in a row on 12-15 sec exposures!. I was actually using my cell phone as a stopwatch–it has a stopwatch function, but it was a pain in the butt to use,

OldUncleMe
59. get lazy, and don’t drag your camera with you, don’t even go out … this has messed up untold shots for me!

Ben ©
60. Buying film then getting so broke you need to sell it.

angryalan.com
61. Forget your tripod plate and have to hand hold the camera.

Cristiano Abreu
Been there myself… traveling more than 100 kms to shoot with a F2 monorail, just to find that I forgot the tripod on the floor of my room 😦 that’s what I gain from sleeping too little

My history of goof-ups has been to forget to change back the ISO setting on the lightmeter for different films and underexpose the negative, pulling the DS before cocking the shutter with the preview lever opened (normally manageable by estimating a new time and re-exposing the shot if the overall exposure was long enough in the first place), and
62. taking the holder out of the bag accidentally by pulling the DS, which was not secured due to a loose pin, and partially exposing the neg before sliding it back again in hastiness.

Al Graham
63. Drill the hole for the shutter’s locator pin in such a way that it gets covered when you open the aperture to set up your shot, then uncovers a bit when you turn the aperture down to shoot.

Mr. E.
64. Shoot at an out of town location, wandering around. Instead of putting finished exposed holder in your ass pocket or back in your bag leaving it on the ground and not realizing until you get home and go to develop. Was one of my few good holders too…

pommas
65. From yesterday: Realize after two sheets that today’s loaded holders do not follow the usual convention of “black side unexposed, white side exposed”. So, change to proper system for holders 2 and 3. But holder 4, already in the bag, had the correct system. So which is which? Bound to have two blank sheets. Grrr

matthew_comeskey
66. take the wrong tripod head to location and get stuck finding a way to fit a LF camera to a MF head. sighhh… will the stupidity end? Probably not.

pommas
67. Try using a Quickload holder and realize that the release button must be depressed before any pulling happens and thereby yank off the metal slide that holds the envelope closed. Hello, over exposed $3 film sheet.

pommas
68. (tonight’s other screw-up) Forget which of the three infinity stops is the right one for a given lens and end up with out of focus sheets (difficult to focus on the GG in the dark). A whole evening for naught!

picsbymac
69.Deciding to start shooting at 11 pm when tired is silly, and possibly .

spiky247
70. the ground glass is dark, so you open up the lens, but it’s still dark, and then you realize you just made a double exposure on an already inserted, and open film holder.

Alex.Springer
71. Insert your film holder and pull out the darkslide, then cock the focal plane shutter on your Speed Graphic. Then realize that cocking the focal plane shutter will expose the film as the slit winds past.

cabbiinc
72. buy a LF camera but fail to buy any film holders for it.
73. forget to tighten the front standard and the first few frames are spot on while everything else gets that fuzzy foreground effect increasing more and more.

GregRob
74. Get frustrated with your Polaroid holder, and start slamming things a little too hard so you end up knocking the camera out of whack. (Shift and Swing the rear). 
-or phrased differently-
Not being cautious while inserting things into the camera and accidentally changing the swing and shift.

Th@fred
75. shooting handheld with my Graflex 4×5 and in a hurry put the dark slide in my trousers front pockets, the scene needed a lower pov and as soon as I bend my knees I cracked the darkslide in two (I had only 2 holders at the time)….
76. pulling a holder out of my messenger bag and finding only a darkslide in my hand and a open holder in my bag (curse those loose fidelity elite “locks”!)* allready mentioned under #62 sorry!

jayavant
77. load a quickload backwards

csant
78. “Now, *this* is an empty holder, I always put the exposed ones over *there*” – and open it for cleaning… (in daylight, of course, why would you clean the holder in the dark?…)

Xia Ke
79. Went out shooting some lobster boats in the cove this morning. Had a great scene all composed. Apparently after I composed I was a little too focused on making the exposure as when I got home and developed the shot, I found a few people had walked in frame, dead center 😦

pommas
80. Set up a night shot outside the house, open the shutter, leave, and completely forget it. Wake up the next morning and think, “wasn’t there something I needed to remember?”

NoJuan
81. Break your ground glass on the first day of a two week road trip!
82. Run out of film with three days left on your trip and trying to find film in a series of small towns along the way.

libertyinlight
83. Meter with a DSLR with a polarizer on, then forget to transfer the polarizer to the LF lens and make 3 frames 2 stops overexposed.
84. Decide “4 shots is enough” the night before and not reload the other 4 film holders, then burn 3 of them as mentioned above.
85. Brag to mother in law how quick I was getting setting up the LF camera, make the mistakes above, only realize it after screwing the bellows back down and have to completely reset to get the shot with the remaining piece of film. Elapsed time: 45 minutes.
86. Not test every single film holder before flying to Alaska only to discover that one of them has a not-insignificant light leak. I still don’t know which one of them is the culprit.

John Falky
87. Proudly demonstrating your camera out in the boonies to a Mexican Rancher, only to find that you have no battery in the light meter….who nods and nods, and then drives off….failure and humiliation.

spodzone
88. Realise, 55miles up the road, that there’s not much point in carrying a LF lens if the rest of the LF camera is still at home, resulting in emergency trip to one of the better camera shops in Scotland en route to the scenery. Oops.

Rob Cruickshank
89. Hand Speed Graphic to friend, but forget to tell him about the shutter select switch which always slides back up to “back” and which I hold in place without thinking. Forget to open back shutter again after explaining problem to friend. Spend rest of evening shooting blanks.

Ben Anderson (#BennehBoy)
90. Shoot some portraits on 8×10 chrome, sync a shoe mounted strobe on Auto for fill and forget to not obstruct the meter on the flash whilst holding it up = overexposure.

ndavid
91. pushing the release button on the Fuji Quickload when pulling the envelope out for the shot, pulling the film too. paying to develop a blank sheet.
92. finding a great landscape shot with a painter painting the scene, and getting him to agree to pose. (he was very helpful in getting the lighting just right) forgetting to stop down the apreture, oeverexposing by more than a few stops. It would be too embarrassing to meet that gentleman again.

Chris McIntosh [www.cmcintoshphoto.com]
93. Missing the correct tray when developing.
First times developing sheet film I a) put the negative in the stop bath first- fail, and b) missed the tray and had the negative stick to the scratchy sink surface. Too bad there’s no clone stamp in the real darkroom for scratches/ dust.

cjcowan
94. Finish shooting. Take lens off camera. Realize the film holder is still in the camera and along with the lens, you’re holding the darkslide.
95. Start developing film at 1 in the morning. Place 6 sheets into the developer at the same time instead of one by one. Swear a lot for the next 5 minutes while you try to pry them apart.

John Falky
96. You take your Crown Graphic on a hike. The girlfriend comes along. you take a picture of the Crown Graphic and the girlfriend with your 35mm, and after developing you find unfettered hate being displayed toward the Crown Graphic, it is wisely left at home on subsequent trips. Now the girlfriend is gone, the Crown Graphic lives on.

Matt Perko Photography
97. Changed a lens on a Cambo 4×5 and when sliding the lever back to lock the lens in place, I inadvertently slid it too far which unlocked the bellows. The bellows hung there about a 1/4″ or so away from the front standard while I took a shot.

angryalan.com
98. Set up final shot, remove darkslide, shoot exposure, start to disassemble camera beginning with lens, completely forgetting to replace the darkslide.
Too late, film is overexposed due to light.
No more film left.

JackDahlgren
99. Change your portrait set-up, open the lens up to recompose, shoot photo at 3 stops over-exposed
100. Hold camera up, set shutter and aperture, check rangefinder, check wire frame, anticipate the moment… shoot…. pull darkslide…
101. Buy a large format camera

Just another train nut
102. Get fed up with all of the above and go buy a digital P&S.

pommas
103. Think you’re all sophisticated using the zone system in a new way, but forget to re-set the light meter to reflect the N+2 situation. Shoot 4 sheets of precious, irreplaceable film. Somewhat rescued by developer….

Medusa83
104. Forgot to bring film and film holders as they were in a separate bag from the camera. Needless to say very short day after a very long drive.

GregRob
105. When using a digital camera to check lighting before exposing real film forgetting to set the DSLR ISO to match the 4×5 film ISO.

NO Photography
106. Getting permission to use your schools darkroom to load film. Then loading the six film holders and turn on light to leave, realizing as the flourescent lights were warming up that the rest of your film was outside of the box on the table. Thankfully I only lost 2 exposures

zach elston
107. shifting your crappy super cheap tripod because you shoved your ill-fitting film holders in too hard, losing composition…being too lazy to fix it.
108. dropping all of your film holders in the snow by accident before you even take one shot…

Chris Walrath
109. While waiting for the light to change with your Sinar on the tripod, throw a stick for your dog to fetch, forgetting your holding the leash. Oh, you threw the stick past the camera and your dog is a Great Dane.

pommas
110. Set up shot for long exposure, hit shutter. Repeatedly run to camera to cover lens to avoid car headlights in shot. At the end of the 6 minute exposure, realize the lens was not set on T after all, but on 1/15.

And I wonder WHY we do this …………………………….

April 20, 2010 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

Two Months Later

Well, it’s been quite the journey. In the last post I talked about my two new cameras. The Monolta Autocord and my Pacemaker Crown Graflex. I have pretty much all I need to develop my skills with these two cameras but I must admit, the large format Crown is going to be a challenge.

I have taken 2 rolls of 120 with the roll film back and both of those were a disaster. There are too many things wrong for me to begin analyzing at this time. Some of it is mechanical, either the film back or the camera. I have stopped trying to get this back to work.

The other format, for which this camera is designed, is 4 x 5. I have taken 12 shots, actually, 14 shots. I develop the sheet film in batches of 6, since that’s all my tank holds. The first batch I developed was a first on many fronts. A first using the tank system I bought, a first loading sheet film into the holders and after, into the tank holders and a first shooting with the camera. There have been 3 runs of developing and each one has been totally different from the last. In the first batch, I had two negatives that I shot and 4 that were in the holders when I received them. My two negatives turned out fine. The second batch had light leaks on ALL the negatives and the third batch , well, let’s see. I had two shots that were good, except for the minor light leak. The two middle shots were completely ruined by a major light leak and the last 2 were actually funny. I took my shot and then changed the shutter and f stop for the second shot. I did not reverse the film holder so I ended up with 1 totally blank negative and 1 double exposure. Thank goodness I was bracketing the scene with a tripod so the blur is not too bad. Anyhow, here are the examples…….

This is a photo of vertical blinds. I shot this to test the shutter and other things. It was more or less my first shot with large format and it was also the first batch of developing. Notice there aren’t ANY light leaks in this shot.

This is from my second batch. Notice the light leaks on both sides of the image. This same pattern also appeared in the third batch and I have no clue where it’s from. The contrast in this one is ok but the image is a little harsh

This image is also from the second batch with the same light leaks. In addition, the whole image is kind of a gray, Contrast is bad. The other images are more or less like this one in terms of the gray and the light leaks. Notice the light leak is the same pattern as the others

These last two images are from my third batch. Out of 6 negatives I manged to get 2 of any use. This image is great, except for the light leaks. This is the result I am looking for. Lot’s of tones, good highlights and detail in the shadows. I had a hell of a time during developing this batch. When you pour the developer into the tank you want to make sure it goes in relatively quickly. For some reason, the liquid would not go into the tank quickly enough. It took over two minutes for me to get the developer in. I extended the developing time by 30 secs and I was lucky with this negative. Note the persistent light leak again.

This is the other image that was more or less useful. It’s a double exposure and you can see from the swirls on the image that the developer didn’t get in there quick enough. It’s still a success as far as I m concerned, lol. Actually, the reason I am very pleased with these two is because of the tonal range in both of them. If I can keep producing images with these tones I will be very happy. Note the light leak again.

The Minolta is another story. I am REALLY happy with this camera. I have lot’s to learn with it but overall, I have been taking some nice photos with it AND developing the film myself. Here’s some of the results with this camera.

This was from the very first roll I shot with the Minolta and probably the reason I kept going with it.

There were LOTS of mistakes with those first few rolls and there are still mistakes being made but I am REALLY pleased with this camera.

And a little later…………

and I blew this one up to 20 by 20 and it’s still crisp and sharp……..

I can see myself giving in to the large format but never to the medium format of the Minolta. I’ll keep trying to perfect the large format and see where it goes. First thing is to figure out where that darn light leak comes from.

Until next time…………………..

April 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm 2 comments

It’s Been Awhile…….Time to Blog

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here and thought about Felix (I’ll explain Felix in another entry).

Ceramics is out and photography is back in (for now). Actually, I am mixing film and digital. Shooting macros with a Nikon D80, extension tubes and a 50 mm lens and pretty much everything else with a Minolta Autocord and Canon G6. I’ll shoot with Alex’s G11 from time to time but only when I want to carry a camera in my pocket. I just bought a Crown Graphic 4×5 so I’ll be taking photos with it from time to time.  I am also getting into creating images by cutting and merging pieces of existing photographs like this.

I’m not very good at it but I hope I do develop a better eye for content and composition.

Right now(Jan 312, 2010) I am sitting in JetFuel with Alex and reading up about PhotoShop and some of the things I need to do to configure it for our IMac.

Well, that’s it for now, I will write more as we go.

February 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Skeleton Lake

The first week of August was reserved for a getaway to our friend’s cottage north of Toronto. Skeleton Lake (see more about the lake here) is home to Pearl and Al’s amazing hideaway. We spent seven days exploring the lake and making new friends.

We were woken on the fist morning by a bright light. I got up and walked out to the deck and was greeted by this view…..

On that first day, Alex went down to the dock to face the sun and do her yoga. It just seemed to me that the way she faced the morning sun was how yoga should be done.

After doing her thing we had breakfast and went for a swim in the clear water. Visibility was spectacular and on a clear day we could see down at least 10 meters. It was about this time we discovered we were supposed to bring our own towels and we needed them. We hopped in the boat and motored back to the docks. There is an inn there and we thought we might be able to rent some towels. Don and Jenn were sitting outside and we asked if it was possible to rent some towels. Jenn looked at me for a moment trying to register what I was saying so I explained our situation. They laughed at the request and lent us a full set of towels. We sat with them for a while and got to know them a little better.

One morning we heard a motor boat and looked out to see this………………….

The rest of the week was spent exploring, relaxing, enjoying the solitude and the views. We would paddle around in the canoe, under cliffs and around huge boulders

Some boat houses were more luxurious than a lot of the cottages

At one point we paddled over to a spot where we could hike up to High Lake which was another lake in the area. It was well worth the trip and we were rewarded by the view.

We could have sat here for hours just soaking up the sun and atmosphere.

The lake itself must be about 50 meters higher then Skeleton Lake and is held back by a huge rock wall. A stream runs down from High Lake to Skeleton Lake. The view back to High Lake from the stream bed in the forest.

The changes in the weather was spectacular and we would sit on the deck and watch natures shows. We could see rain as it traveled across the lake.

It really stormed on Friday so we just sat inside and watched the opening of the Olympics, read and I practiced guitar. In other words we relaxed and enjoyed it. I must admit I was a bit concerned about the next day. One thing I should have mentioned is that we were on an island, about a 10 minute boat ride from the docks. I worried that the rain would not stop and we’d have to motor back with our luggage soaking wet plus I had my guitar and Alex had her lap top. Waking up Saturday morning we were treated to this……..

It was breathtaking and it also poured so much that the boat was filled with rain water. At 12:15 it stopped and let us go. It always amazes me how fate takes care of us all the time.

Many many many thanks to Pearl and Al for giving us this week.

Next year for sure………..

August 10, 2008 at 7:10 pm 5 comments

Wandering Barcelona

Well, before I begin I want to show you the ceiling in the post office. We had to get some stamps and I had to take a picture of it………..

Alex took the day off work and we went to MNAC in the morning (Museu Nacional D’Art De Catalunya). We’d not been when we were living here and it was on the list of things to do.

We approached from the 55 bus stop on the way up to Montjuic.

As you can see it was a gorgeous day, the type of day we had grown used to when we lived here. I took most photos of the architecture and Alex has a few of the displays.

The stairs reminded me of Escher drawings so I HAD to take some pics of them.

I loved the way you could see through the building by all shapes of doors and portals. The building itself was built for a World Exposition in the 1920s.

It is truly a grand building housing some beautiful exhibits

After the museum we went to meet Joy for lunch and slowly made our way back to the apartment.

June 12, 2008 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Segovia – Day Two (June 4, 2008)

Before I begin day 2 I should say a bit more about the hotel we stayed in. A group of entrepreneurs purchased the entire building with the objective of opening a hotel. The building, as purchased, was divided into may independent sections such as shops, restaurants and apartments. Workmen began to tear out the divisions and discovered a trove of art treasures hidden behind false ceilings and walls. The ceilings in particular had been protected so well that little restorative work was needed. Apart from the fantastic Mudéjar moulded ceilings from the XV century, (see photos here) the hotel also has the most important Roman remains found in Segovia, apart from the Acueduct, and that is the “Aljibe” which was the biggest cistern in the city and now has been turned into a meeting lounge in the hotel. Excavations are still ongoing in the basement as more discoveries are being made. The hotel is right across the street from the chapel where princess Isabella of Castile/Leon was crowned queen in 1474.

We got up at 7:00 and headed down to breakfast with other delegates in the conference (I forgot to mention that we were here because Alex was presenting a paper at a conference being held here). I have to say I enjoyed breakfast more than I thought I would. Having breakfast with learned historians leaves one VERY INFORMED of the area. I really enjoyed the small talk and left with a plan of touring the city on my own as Alex was working all day.

The first place I wanted to see was the Alcazar……………….

This place has a history that goes back to the early days of the 12th century. Over the centuries it served as the Royal court, state prison and a military school. I was the third one in and the place was empty, I had it all to myself. The first room I entered the Old Castle Hall containing articles of war.

The mounted knights were full sized…………

The details were amazing and I kind of got carried away with the sense of who had come before me, especially when standing in the throne room…..

The next room was as impressive, called the Galley Chamber because the shape of the ceiling resembled an inverted hull. Queen Catherine of Lancaster had this room built in 1412.

The other rooms including the centre court were filled with artifacts collected from the artillery school

They warn visitors that the climb to the top of Torre de Juan II is an arduous climb of 152 steps. I figured that wasn’t bad so I climbed up. Yes, it was 152 steps but they failed to mention that each step is much higher than normal. I climbed to the taop and was rewarded with spectacular views.

It’s funny to note that when I was leaving I had to use the washroom which was down a flight of stairs. There was a small sign leading down further to some roman ruins which aren’t mentioned anywhere.

I left Alcazar and went way down to where the rio Eresma flowed. We found a footpath yesterday and someone mentioned at breakfast that this went around the city so I wanted to walk it. I started at the bridge.

The path followed the river but there were a few branches so I kind of kept to the foot of the cliff to make sure I ended up going around the city.

Looking back on the path as I climbed back towards the walled city

The building at the end of the wall is an old slaughter house that has been turned into a museum, Museos de Castilla y Leon.

I had to hurry at this point because I need to meet Alex for lunch at 2:00. We met at Plaza san Martin and here she is waiting for me………

When lunch was over I returned to the place I had entered the city after the walk. I stood on one of the towers and walked along the wall where I came across the museum. I decided to go in and I was the only one there. It was all about the history of Segovia, describing the origins of its geology, the inhabitants and architecture. There were artifacts from the bronze age, visigoths, romans and medieval. There was even a skelton of a roman centurion with pieces of his armour still attached. I had an almost personal tour guide as each guard was more than eager to tell me about their part of the museum. I saw this water driven machine consisting of two massive wooden hammers. Someone mentioned it might have been the device that so terrified Don Quixote in the night. Once again I had to hurry because I was going to meet Alex for a visit to a chapel that was once a synagogue.

We visited and she went back to the conference. I went to our room for a nap……. Ask me if I love naps.

We met around 9:30 had dinner and off to sleep.

June 9, 2008 at 2:54 pm 1 comment

Canada, The First Week

We’ve done a lot over the past week. Signed our lease, got our medicare cards updated and I joined Hart House so I can get back to the gym.

Our apartment is right down town and actually 3 floors directly above our old one. Talk about luck. We move into the place in June. This is our little oasis in the middle of downtown Toronto.

Yesterday, Pearl took us to a park right near her place. Consider this, the park is in an urban area, cycling distance (long maybe) from downtown Toronto. When we went I felt that the ambience and feelings were Canada. This park represented how I felt about Canada. It was great. I had never felt that way before but as Alex explained, sometimes you have to leave and come back before you notice these things. It was so true. There were loons diving for fish, geese flying low over the water and lines of other water fowl flying in formation past the point. The mist was light and the air cool. It really struck me that I was back in Canada.

Not many people around either. After the crowds in Barcelona, this was nice.

The trees had not yet grown their new leaves and most of them held only the hint of green. Some were further along than others but the mixture was lovely. Subtle coloring in the background and calm waters made for a sensuous ambiance.

The boats were ready for another season and people were out cleaning and socializing. For boaters, it was more socializing than cleaning……

Alex exploring the photo ops of bleached driftwood. She bought herself a new digital camera and was testing it out.

We had a great time thanks to Pearl. We will be doing this once a week like we did in Barcelona. We hope to pick a neighborhood in Toronto every week and go exploring with our cameras. I’ll post something about where we went and some photos and if I can, I’ll give a little history. Our friends in Barcelona will be able to know more about Canada. I hope it makes them interested enough to come visit.

May 10, 2007 at 3:32 pm 1 comment

Barcelona, The Final Two Months

Well, it had to happen. Our stay here is coming to an end. We stayed with Jackie and Sebastian for the last few months and had an absolutely fantastic time. I don’t think I managed to get on their nerves but I have been known to be wrong. Jackie and I would have some pretty heated discussions in the morning and most times she was right but I’d never admit that. I’ll miss the times we had.

Most of the last few weeks was saying goodbye to all the amazing and woderful friends we had made over the past year. There are some that will remain close to my heart forever (and they will never know who they are). I’ve put together some photos of some of the people we partied with or dined with or just hung out with over the last few weeks.

Bradley at Wushu’s

Paul

Francesca, I’ll miss her humor and outlook on life. We had fun communicating. Sha actually thought I spoke Italian but that’s a whole other story.

Sara, my spanish teacher. We became good friends. I really hope her and Andrea come to visit us in Canada. Actually I hope they all come to visit us in Canada.

Matt, a great friend whom I met in Spanish class.

His wife Elena, always smiling. The two of them were a lot of fun.

Marc, another friend from Spanish class.

I had to have a few friends who were closer to my mental age and Elena’s cousin’s baby fit the role. Same sense of humor too.

Jackie, Alex, Joy and Jesus at Joy and Jesus’ casa. They had us over for a farewell lunch

Alex and Andres having a chuckle. Andres taught Alex how to make mate.

Francisca and Sylvie fooling around. Those two were really great people. Sylvie was stressing out about her newly purchased piso in Bari Gotic. It’s an amazing place and I am sure she’ll love it when all the work is done. Francisca returns to Chile in October and we hope to visit her soon.

Mireia, she just finished her Phd thesis and was preparing to defend it. Her and Pau were super and Pau has to send me my honorary Catalan citizenship card. I’ll hold him to that too.

Jackie getting her hair done

Pau, Mireia and Jackie having a discussion. I’ll miss my discussions with Jackie………

Joy and Jesus

I have missed posting photos of many others because I don’t have them or they are really blurry. Photos taken while drinking too much wine ……

Last, but not least is Naomi. It was through her thoughtfulness and consideration that we met most of these people. Naomi always made sure that Alex and I were invited to different places. She is a bundle of energy and always up for a good time.

Many thanks to all of you who made Barcelona a special place and time for us. You are all invited to visit us in Canada anytime. Our home is always open to you so please come.

Now for the next series of adventures ………

May 10, 2007 at 2:37 pm Leave a comment

Last Visit

This was the last visit to Barcelona’s beaches. It was ana mazing day and lot’s of people were out. Many booths were open on the boardwalk and the crowds were thick.

It was kind of weird though, looking south the sun was shining and the air clear but looking north was another view altogether.

A fog was rolling in off the sea and it had this really strange effect. People were wondering what was happening and the sun worshippers began to leave in droves. Soon, the beach looked like this…….

The fog itself was low and buildings above it still had sunlight. Made for a neat photograph and dramatic effects.

All in all, it was a dramatic last view of Barcelona’s beaches. One I’ll not forget.

May 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

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