Ripley’s Aquarium Or Nature is SO COOL RIGHT?

Who remembers Ernie fishing with Burt, calling out, “Here fishy, fishy, fishy!”??? I have to admit this is the first thing that entered my head when we passed by the cylinder of silver fish at the mouth of the aquarium entrance.

We arrived in the square surrounded by the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and the aquarium around 8:30 in the morning. I had anticipated people coming from all over the city and thought it might take us a while to congregate before the door opened. Not so. Our party consisted of Janet, Deborah, Pam and myself. Who all arrived relatively on time. As soon as I saw other people arriving inside we gunned it for the entrance. There was a little bit of a line up for those who already had tickets. Janet was the only one who hadn’t bought the express ticket, but was able to buy one at such an early hour without a hitch.

The express ticket, I learned, can be used at anytime up to 364 days of the year from the time you buy it. I thought this would be a fantastic gift for my mother. I’d send it in the mail for Mother’s Day so she can use it when she comes to visit me in September, or whenever she’s able to get up. The aquarium was always on our list of things to do.

Two hours slipped away before we knew it. You could stand mesmerized in front of one the walls of fish for a good 15 minutes. Just as we were coming to the tunnel there was a serving butler cart off to the side. I joked to the security guy standing next to it that I had hoped there was coffee. He said in an hour there would be, but we can go to the café for a coffee, and he showed us the way. Janet was a little along in the tunnel, so I told here what we were doing. We all made a bee-line to the café and were very happy to know we were able to take our drinks with us into the passage ways. We all put our one-handed, coffee drinking, photo techniques into practice.

By the time we got back to the tunnel, there was a manageable crowd. Many people were content to remain in the conveyer belt watching the aquatic scene pass by before them. Yong and old were pointing out all manner of fish that swam past them. I had to wonder what how much research was put into choosing the perfect viewing speed. Just like what is the perfect conveyer belt speed in an airport or on an assembly line?

Many sharks, or rather the few sharks that were there, swam overhead and through the tunnel. They were an amazing site, they big toothy smiles. Just then a Frank Sinatra song, Mack the Knife came to mind….

When the shark has pretty teeth dear
and he show ‘em pearly white
Just a jack knife has Mac-Heath dear
and he keeps it out of site

When that Shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlett billows begin to spread
Fancy gloves though has Mack-Heath dear
So there’s never, never a trace of blood

On the sidewalk, one Sunday morning
Lies a body…”

Hmmm…..can anyone say Mob? Anyways, you get the idea.

Pam had brought a snood she made. It fit onto her lens to isolate the light around what she was shooting. Here is her experience with making the snood and the results she got.

Below article courtesy of Pam R.

With a trip coming up to the Ripley’s Aquarium I realized that there would be a lot of reflection from the tanks and that I should get something to reduce the amount of light bouncing off of the glass. So I looked around on the internet and found some decent looking products with good reviews, but I wasn’t sure how often I’d use it so I thought I’d try the DIY route.

I bought all the materials from the dollar and craft stores: a plastic pitcher, twine, 5 sheets of black felt and a hot glue gun. I made sure the pitcher was wide enough and deep enough to accommodate my camera with my 18-105mm lens fully extended.

Instructions

Cut the bottom off of the pitcher and leave the top edge in tact to ensure a smooth edge to butt up against the glass. Cut several pieces of black felt to cover the front end of the pitcher. Fold the pieces over the edge and hot glue them in place.

Then make the outer cover and flexible cowl that will be attached to the camera body. I test fit the felt around the pitcher and found that two pieces with the long edges sewn together would work best. Sew up both sides with a 5/8 seam leaving a 1″ opening on one side. This will allow you to accommodate the drawstring. Fold over 1/2″ of fabric and pin the fabric on the end with the gap. Sew 1/8″ from the bottom edge of the fold to leave room to pull the drawstring through. Turn the finished tube right side out with the seams on the inside and push the drawstring through with a safety pin. Knot the ends. Pull the finished felt tube over the pitcher and glue it in place. Cut pieces to fit the inside of the pitcher and glue them in place also.

You now have a cheap DIY tool ready for use the next time you need to shoot through glass! It really reduces reflections and color fringing. You can see the difference below.

Images courtesy of Pam R.

12 Dresses

My sewing teacher and Friend Marianne, wanted to have a ball with the new English Country Dancing group she joined a year ago. Her excuse to have the ball was to celebrate 55 years in Canada. To get people involved she decided to make 12 dresses and 8 vests for some of the hard core members of the group. I made my own dress.

When she first told me of the idea I volunteered to do portraits of people all lovely and dressed up. Here was my chance to try to recreate painted portraits with a modern tool, and yet still make them have all the charm a regency portrait painting would.

I had asked a good Friend to assist me on the day. What a huge help he was. Suggesting to people how they should sit, asking them to take off watches and glasses that looked too modern. He had set up the lighting and even moved the table from one side of the set to the other.

For my purpose, I had borrowed from Rob a mottled brown back drop that completely fit the bill along with a backdrop stand, and a 20 prime lens. How I LOVE the 20. I almost bought one at Christmas, but I had to pay up front and they had to order it from the Canon warehouse, maybe next Christmas bonus. For now I’m lucky to be able to borrow Robs.

Along with the back drop I brought some props. Books, teacups and saucers, a makeshift table cloth and another to contrast over that. This would give people a choice of things to hold onto so they may feel more comfortable. Some didn’t because I think it may have looked too contrived. But those touches come out very well in the photos.

Originally was going to borrow Rob’s 400 Alien Bees, but when I thought of even more things to carry to the venue, I decided to go with two speed lights with soft boxes over them instead. They worked quite well until the batteries started to run low. I tried to push the speed lights until they were nearly dead, which was a bad idea because when I went to edit them, I realized I had lost detail I wasn’t able to bring back.

At Photographers anonymous, I was given lots of great advice for the next time. Like use Alien Bee’s instead of speed lights. Use a larger space to make the background higher. I had to use the path tool to get rid of the rings that were in the fabric. Especially where there were tall people involved. It’s amazing how well the patch tool works. Another piece of advice was that the stage right light was too low. You can see it in the cast shadows on the background. I would have set them up differently was well. One light almost in front and the other to the side of the subjects. I would liked there to be a candelabra and flowers on the table as well. As it turns out, I didn’t have to bring my outdoor table after all. There was a nice small round table already there.

Everyone who had their photo taken was a trooper. On lookers would make them break into smiles, but I didn’t want full on smiles, Kevin was good to ask them not to. I had a very good plan to keep everyone straight, which was have everyone write their name and email on a piece of paper to hold up in front of them for one shot then onto the serious stuff. Well, didn’t I forget the paper and markers? Luckily I had my model sheets, though I had to ask Marianne to remind me who everyone was. Sorry guys!

So there you have it. All edited, resized and watermarked. Ready to email to everyone. I’ve only had 3 people say they didn’t want me to use their image online or elsewhere. Out of such a large group, I think that was pretty good. And now you see them here on my blog.

A huge thanks to the English Country Dancers in their beautiful costumes. And to all who worked so hard to pull it together. Thanks Mandeep for the first dance. I can’t wait to do it again.