Thursday, December 29, 2016

La La Land

La La Land is a delightful song and dance film starring Ryan Gosling as a struggling jazz pianist and Emma Stone as a wannabe actress. Both are trying to make their way through the dog-eat-dog world of present day Los Angeles. Though beaten down almost every single day they continue to encourage each other to follow their dreams.

I've never been much of a musical type of guy, but I really enjoyed this movie. What can I say about Ryan Gosling? Is there anything more sexy than a guy who can both tickle the ivories and is light on his feet? And Emma Stone - she's wholly unremarkable, but those vulnerable eyes and girlish charms just draw you in.

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for these kinds of romantic love stories. So, two big thumbs up for me. Loved this movie.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Season

It's been a busy Christmas season for me. Mostly with work and related activities. Traffic has been slowed with an early season snowfall a couple of weeks ago and the Christmas shoppers driving from mall to mall. It's made long days even longer. Thankfully I'll have a few days off work to rest up and relax.

We had our family Christmas dinner at my parents' place early this year. Bern took the kids down to Florida to see his sister and parents (who had gone down earlier). It was a surprise visit that they were very happy about.

For me Christmas was also about hellos and, this year, some good-byes. At our annual Christmas Eve dinner and service at church I had a chance to meet with some former CPCers who were back in town for the holidays. That's always cool. A chance to see familiar faces from the past.

As for the good-byes, Rachel is leaving for home after completing her studies here. She'll be traveling to Yellowknife and the Rockies before that. And Tom is taking a much deserved 5-month sabbatical after around 30 years of preaching without a break. We'll be in good hands with Hilkka who is taking over for him in the interim.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Gift for Me

After church on Sunday I walked over to Henry's on Church Street and bought a lens. My friends and I are thinking about visiting the Faroe Islands next summer and I figured I'd need a lens to shoot birds there. The westernmost island, Mykines, has puffins and other seabirds nesting there.

I settled on the Canon 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM mostly because it was the right price. Canon had it's annual Best in Glass Sale and it was reduced $250 to $399.99.

Of course there are higher quality lenses, but I didn't feel like breaking the bank for a lens that I wouldn't be using an awful lot (my primary lens being my 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 USM). It had reasonable reviews which was good enough for me.

I only took a few shots in the store. I'll practice with it sometime when the weather is nicer outside. I'm sure it'll suit me fine.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Market at the Distillery District

After my boarding home visit last Sunday I thought I'd head over to the Christmas Market at the Distillery District. I found some free parking on Villiers Street off Cherry Street around a kilometre away.

I've been to the Christmas Market once or twice in the past, but not in a little while. Due to the increase in popularity they've introduced a $6.00 fee on weekends and Fridays after 5:00 p.m.. The proceeds go to charity, so it's fine.

I arrived at around 4:30 p.m.. There was still a little daylight in the afternoon sky. That gave me an opportunity to handhold some of my shots for the first half an hour or so. A little more flexibility with the opportunity to move around for better angles.

After that I brought out my tripod. I only started using it more often since I bought a half-decent, used one off Markus. It's easier to manipulate than my older one. Still, I never liked lugging one around. But, for low light situations, it does make a difference.

There were a number of things to take pictures of. Where I entered there was a large heart that people could stand underneath and take pictures with. Right behind it was a small forest of pink Christmas trees that you could walk through. Then there were the various carts selling food and goods and the huge Christmas tree and stage for performances and ferris wheel and merry-go-round.

A good way to spend a few hours on the weekend with your friends, family or, even, by yourself.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Search for Christmas... Lights

On Sunday after church and lunch I went on a search for Christmas lights. The night before they had the opening for Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Philips Square. I was actually down in the area, but skipped it because it was drizzly.

After seeing my friend Gabe's shots I got the idea of going to Brookfield Place to take photos as well as at Nathan Philips Square and the Eaton Centre.

Brookfield Place had a snowflake theme going on. There was one large snowflake on the floor in the middle of the atrium as well smaller different coloured ones hanging from the ceiling in the surrounding buildings. In front of Marché they had this large, white tree sculpture hanging from the roof.

Next I went to the Eaton Centre. I was saving Nathan Philips Square for last because when I walked through earlier they were still dismantling the Cavalcade of Lights stage and things from the night before.

Except for the Christmas tree at the north end, the decorations at the Eaton Centre don't change much. I guess it's expensive to make new ones all the time. For the past few years they've had these large metallic deer set up around the mall.

This year the Christmas tree was an enormous one that sat on the lowest level (in the basement) and rose almost all the way up to the very top of the glass ceiling. You could barely see the green through the red and white lights that covered almost every single inch of it.

I walked the top level of the mall taking shots as well as some of the catwalks above and up the stairs to the parking garage in the middle of the mall. That gave me a few unusual vantage points to shoot from.

Lastly I went to Nathan Philips Square. For the opening of the Cavalcade of Lights they opened the skating rink at City Hall too. Unfortunately the upper level surrounding the square was blocked off. They offer you the best view of the whole square for shots. That was really annoying. I had to make do walking around at ground level.

I think I managed to get some okay shots there with the skaters and Christmas lights and Christmas tree. If I had a tripod it would have been better though.