Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge’

A Day and A Night in Hespeler

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

This past weekend I was pleased to have some of my photos exhibited at the A Day and A Night; Art Meets Music event in Hespeler (a neighbourhood of Cambridge, Ontario). I ended up spending most of the day wandering around the festival snapping photos – here’s a look:











Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I’m proud of several of my photos. I work hard at learning and practicing the skills required to get the shot I want when I want it. Sometimes an opportunity presents itself that allows you to put those skills to work – often in a hurry – to create a really stunning image. That happened tonight.

We had been hearing all afternoon about the storm that was approaching promising strong winds, lightning and possibly hail. I didn’t think much of it because, well, we haven’t had much rain at all this year and every time the weather dude says it’s going to rain, it doesn’t. However, I found myself very awake at 1am sitting on my front step watching the intermittent glow of lightning over the north end of the city. I thought of my camera but realized that the trees and houses made for a very poor view of the horizon. Then I remembered the little park I found a few months ago at the south end of the city – on a hill overlooking all of south Cambridge.

I ran back into the house, grabbed my camera bag and tripod and rushed out my car. I drove VERY SLOWLY AND SAFELY the to the park on the hill. As I setup my tripod and got the shot framed up, I could see that rain was already falling on the horizon and I had little time. I had done exactly ZERO research on how to shoot lightning – but I trusted my instincts and set the aperture to 8 and the ISO to 100. I then set shutter speed to “Time/Bulb” and the drive to “Remote”. At the time I had no idea how I knew that this was what I should do. I now realize that it’s what I learned while shooting the Canada Day fireworks earlier in the month. I had researched that a LOT and that experience served me very well here.

Unfortunately, you can’t anticipate lightning the way you can fireworks. So I just opened the shutter and waited. Every so often, I’d close and re-open the shutter to keep the ambient light low enough to still look like nighttime. I captured lots of lightning but no ground strikes – it was all in the clouds. Then the magic happened and a big beautiful fork of electricity hit the ground just on the edge of the frame. I waited another second in the hopes a second strike would happen but none came so a press of the remote closed the shutter. I took a few more exposures of varying lengths but got no groundstrikes. This was it – and it was enough:


The technical stuff: 23 second exposure at f/8, ISO at 100. The lens was my trusty 28-80G at 28mm
Post-production: no colour correction at all. I lightened the lights and darkened the darks and added just a touch of noise reduction. That’s it.

37th Cambridge Highland Games

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

20120721_CRC4684I am not a Highlander. The Scottish blood that runs in my veins is of the more sedate lowland variety. My wife, on the other hand, descends from the Sinclairs – the highest of the Highlanders – hailing from the most northern tip of the auld sod. It’s no surprise, then, that the Highland Games in our adopted city are a “must attend” event for the family.

The Cambridge Games have struggled in recent years with low attendance due mostly to uncooperative weather. This year, however, there was no evidence of the recent troubles. Media reports say that over 6000 people visited the site in the scorching heat. As this was my first games with a proper camera (and the skills to use it) I was excited to see what I could capture. One thing is always certain at a highland event – lots of interesting colours, patterns, and personalities!

I took a lot of photos that day – many of them duplicates and many more that just didn’t turn out for one reason or another. From my original number of 425 exposures, I ended up with 35 finished images. One of the 35, though, is pretty special. This is Keegan. He’s four years old and was at the Cambridge Games for his first competition!


I had seen Keegan earlier in the day competing and so when the massed bands streamed onto the field during the closing ceremonies, I kept an eye out for him. 20120721_CRC4440As it turned out, the spacing between the other drummers worked out perfectly as Keegan came into frame – and just as I was snapping a few shots, he looked right at me with the slightest of smirks on his face. Perfect. I knew immediately that I had captured the shot of the day. It was a good feeling.

Of course, I had no idea who Keegan was at the time. That took a little bit of detective work after the games were over. I’ve since been in touch with Keegan’s Mom and they are as excited about the photo as I am.

Highland games are not ALL about the pipes and drums. There are the heavy events (which I didn’t get as many shots of as I would have liked, see right) and the highland dancing (which I didn’t shoot at all) and, the family favourite, TUG-OF-WAR! Perhaps I had just not paid as much attention in past years, but I noticed something fascinating about the tug-of-war participants this year… their footwear! If you look closely, those are hockey skates! they have hard plastic soles in place of the blades. Only a Canadian could come up with that!


I’m already planning my shots and angles for next year’s games – there were so many that I know I could have gotten! In about a year’s time, keep an eye out here for my 38th Cambridge Highland Games post!

You can see the full set of 35 Highland Games photos here:

Save The Dam? Really?

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

I really don’t want to get dragged into this particular debate but last weekend provided an opportunity to, at the very least, provide another perspective. Any idea what this is?

Well, it’s gross, is what it is. It’s the what the water looks like from above in the area that the Save The Dam (STD) people want to “preserve”. Here’s a wider shot to show what I’m talking about:

The STD acronym is fitting, I think, because it looks like you could actually catch an STD in that stuff. This is NOT what rivers are supposed to look like. Here’s another view closer to the dam:

Now, I’m no expert… but I’ve never seen an obstructed river do that.

For my part, I will leave the decisions to the experts and bureaucrats. I simply want to illustrate that it’s just not as simple as saving a dam.

If you’d like an alternative opinion, I suggest you look through local photographer John Mitchell’s blog. I’ll admit he makes a pretty strong photographic argument for keeping the dam but I just don’t think it’s as simple as that.

Canada Day 2012 — Fireworks!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

20120701_CRC325220120701_CRC3254This past Sunday was Canada Day which, of course, means fireworks. My mom lives on the 12th floor of a building that just happens to overlook Riverside Park where the fireworks are set off. It has, naturally, become a tradition to gather the family there to watch the fireworks.

I was determined to get some proper photos the fireworks this year since, for the first time, I had all the equipment I should need: camera+lens, tripod, remote. Rather than just “spray and pray” at flickering lights in the sky, I did some research. I didn’t want to screw this up and have to wait a year to try again! This article from DPS was the most help with 10 distinct tips plus a bunch more from readers. There are several other good articles on the subject as well. Google is your friend.

To say that I’m pleased with the results would be an understatement. Throwing all modesty aside, I got some really great shots. Even better, though, I learned a ton and will be better prepared next year.

20120701_CRC3265The photos are most interesting to me because they don’t represent at all what we actually saw. Take the photo on the left for example. We didn’t see all of the red, white, and blue elements all together. (My American wife loves that it’s red, white, & blue). We saw a white flash at the bottom, red streaks upwards, and then blue sparks at the top. We saw a sequence of colour and light. The camera captured the entire sequence in a single image with a 3-second exposure. I don’t think any of the three elements would have been particularly interesting on their own. Put together, however, they make for a striking image.

For the photo-geeks among us, this was shot at 28mm, f/20, 2.9 second exposure. I should also note, for those who drool over pricey lenses, that all of these images were shot through my fifteen-year-old 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G lens that I paid $25 for at a used camera shop. EXIF info for every shot is available on Flickr.

Here’s a slideshow of the full set of fireworks photos:

Cruise Night #2

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Since my first cruise night post, I’ve been down a few more times and snapped a few more shots. The cars make great subjects because they tend to sit still for you. ;)





A New School in the Neighbourhood

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Having kids changes your life. Duh. Just a few years ago, the building of a new school (and all of the bureaucratic wrangling that goes with that) was a mildly interesting civic event to someone like me who has an interest in local politics. Now, as our second child prepares for kindergarten in the fall (just as our oldest is leaving) the prospect of a new school in the neighbourhood has ramifications that will profoundly impact our family’s daily life.

My wife sits on the ‘School Council‘ at our kids’ school. The new school planned for southeast Galt (the part of Cambridge that I live in) and the boundary implication were mentioned at a recent meeting. This isn’t news but I hadn’t thought about it for a while and I was curious how the existing school boundaries would be affected.

A quick Google search brought me to the Waterloo Region District School Board’s Accommodation Review for southeast Galt elementary schools. There is a LOT of information here, and I will admit that I have not read it all. I did, however, spend a little time poring over the maps provided in Appendices C&D. (I love maps)

Appendix C: JK-6 boundaries:

click image for full-size

Appendix D: 7-8 boundaries:

click image for full-size

There are a couple of weird things I noticed:

  • our kids will go to the new school for 7-8 even though Stewart Ave is closer. This is even more problematic for us since we’ll have kids going in two directions (Chalmers and Glenview to the west and ‘NewSchool’ to the east even though Stewart Ave is situated between Chalmers and Glenview.
  • kids who live on Dudhope (a block away from Stewart Ave) will now be bussed the 1.9 kilometres to ‘New School’?
  • Based on my reading of the busing rules (here), it would seem that our kids will be bussed to ‘NewSchool’ (1.85 kms) when they could easily walk to Stewart Ave. (1.1 km). It’s ridiculous to bus kids within city limits when there’s a school within walking distance!

I realize that these are pretty complex things to figure out (especially with the Jr/Sr split) but I will maintain my position from my trustee campaign last fall that if we had smaller schools in more neighbourhoods we could probably eliminate all intra-city busing.

If you live in southeast Galt – or even if you don’t – what do you think of the plan for the new school? Leave a comment below…

Cambridge Reporter Revisited

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

It seems that my foray into community publishing in 2008 has garnered some interest on the Twitter… There is some confusion, understandably, about who was doing what when and under what when.

I may do an in-depth post sometime on the whole experience, but for now I’ll offer a simple timeline to clear the air:

(I’m doing this from memory, so I may revise these a bit after publishing)

June 2008: I launch it’s a community-driven site where anyone can submit stories and opinion. It’s intended to be more news than opinion – similar to but on a smaller scale.

October 2008: TorStar sends me a friendly email about how they still own the Reporter name and they’d appreciate it if I could stop using it. Important to note that in Sept 2008 TorStar did not own any of the relevant URLs, but in October, suddenly appeared with syndicated content from the K-W Record. Update: did a story about this here:

Later in October 2008: becomes

Spring 2009: The Cambridge Voice becomes The Cambridge Advocate under new ownership. (I’m totally drawing a blank on the timing here, so I’ll update after a little research)

There it is – my best recollection of the events surrounding my involvement with the Cambridge Reporter.

On the Twitter, there’s already talk about trying again to create a community-driven local news & opinion website. Stay tuned.

Meeting Called to Discuss Coworking Space in Galt

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Yesterday’s blog post sparked quite the conversation on Twitter last night! I thought we should try to capitalize on the momentum and get a bunch of people in a room to brainstorm, so I called the first meeting of the Galt Coworking Group.

We will meet Monday, December 21st at 8:30pm at the Golden Kiwi pub on Dickson St.
RSVP here:

Everyone is welcome to come and offer your $0.02 on this idea.

Update: There is a public working document for fleshing out the principles of what we are trying to accomplish. Read and edit it here:

Working alone, together.

Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Not an ideal working environment...

Not an ideal working environment…

Guess where I spent most of my day today? The public library. Why? Well, long story short, the weather made commuting to the office a silly thing to attempt so I was stuck in town with nowhere to work.

I essentially have three options in this situation: 1) work from home, 2) work from a cafe, 3) work from the library

The first option is really not an option since there are 4 pre-schoolers there and no “home office”. Option #2 is my usual habit – but you can only drink so much overpriced coffee in a day. So today was #3 – no pressure to leave , but still less than ideal.

The biggest problem with each of these options (even #1) is isolation. Humans are social creatures and require social interaction, within the context of their work, to be creative.

So what to do? I’ve been intrigued by the concept of coworking for some time. The idea of being able to work on my own but in an office full of people I know is very attractive!

I have this feeling that we’re reaching a critical mass in Cambridge that could support some kind of cooperative working environment. In talking with a few folks today and yesterday, I’m sure I’m not alone in that belief.

So let’s do it. Let’s incorporate a non-profit to create a cooperative working space for professionals in Cambridge that need a place to hang their hat from 9 to 5 but have no use for a full office of their own.

Who’s with me?

UPDATE: a few of us are throwing around ideas on Twitter. Use the #galtcowork hashtag to particpate!