Sunday, April 27, 2014

Comic Expo 2014

So after vowing that I would never return to the Comic & Entertainment Expo (I say it every year), I found myself on the Stampede grounds yesterday having a blast in the snow and rain taking photos.  What can I say?

Initially, I started off searching for costumers on or near the downtown C-Train line. At first I waited on the City Hall platform, then I got on the train and travelled from the end of the Free Zone and back.  I found a few costumers.  I even found a bunch of Highlanders. (Not part of the Comic Expo.)  But what I really wanted to capture were the father/son Aliens that I saw on the news casts of Friday's POW parade.

Elf trying to figure out the C-Train ticket machine.

Ninja Turtles on the C-Train.

A ComEx fan friend at work told me that the costume competition was going to be held in a big white tent on the Stampede grounds.  I thought maybe I could sneak in to catch some of the costumers going in.  Maybe see the Aliens.

So, I thought that maybe if I went in at the parking lot entrance no one would notice that I didn't have a wristband.  (Took a photo of a couple of girls behind a SUV fine tuning a satyr costume.)

Well, no sneaking was required (although I did follow in a father herding three young girls at the parking lot entrance).  When I got in I saw the big white tent, a Aliens Haunted House (for $5), and food trucks.  There were giant inflatables, too -- Elmo, Kermit, a Smurf, and something else that I can't remember at the moment.

Even better -- they had free outdoor events, like the Viking village where later the men-folk had at each other with steel weapons and much yelling.

Joseph Potosky, a member of the Sons of Fenrir

Ted watches the Sons of Fenrir fight.

The Sons of Fenrir charging up for combat.  The one in middle calling commands is Jason Clarke.

There were green meenies (my name) jumping out and scaring passersby at the entrance to the Round Up Centre.  One costumer actually berated them.  

"I saw you last night," she called out. 

"Yeah!" one creature cheered.  

"You made a little kid cry," she said.  

"Yeah!" the creature cheered again.

A costumer berating a green meenie.

There were the usual fantastic costumed volunteers, including the father/son Aliens.  Awesome!  I found them in a corralled area.  The little Alien was in character, attacking people.  Not sure who was having the most fun; the little kid attacking, the father Alien watching him, or those being attacked.  I had a blast shooting it all.

I posted a bunch to my Flickr page, but here are some of my favorite captures.

Even superheroes need hugs.

Don't know what this little critter is but it moved like it was alive.

A fluffy dragon.  This one also moved.

Watched this girl fuss with her mask before I got this shot.  She didn't know I was waiting until he put the mask on and saw me.  I think it was worth the wait.

Ted & the Happy food truck

A Flickr comment called this Spider Jerusalem.

Amazon passing a giant Kermit.

Star Wars bounty hunters.

Elvis is entering the building.

Iron Man


Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo official Parade of Wonders video.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pre-Flood Construction

On the way home from work Wednesday I stopped to watch crewmen add what I thought was a preflood dike on the south end of Centre Street Bridge.  It looked like something that would redirect the Bow River when the June monsoons hit.  I watched as the driver slowly moved rocks to the river's edge.  I shot a few photos, hoping to eventually get a good splash shot.

Then the driver stopped, poke his head out his window, and stared at me.  I put my camera down, rested my chin on my hands on the Centre Street Bridge wall, and stared back.  Next thing I know, the driver is working way faster and the rocks he's dumping in the river are making great splashes.

At one time I paid a one year membership to join my community association.  Although that was a while ago, I still get the occasional email.  Today, they forwarded the following information supplied by Druh Farrell, Ward 7 Councillor.

Over the weekend Roads crews will be doing flood recovery work on the Centre Street Bridge beginning at 7 a.m. on both Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27. Crews will be repairing a scour hole in the river channel next to the bridge.

The reason work will begin early in the morning both days is because of the limited time crews have to work in the river. In-stream work in the Bow and Elbow Rivers can only be performed during two short “fish windows” that occur in April and from July to September. The approval of several regulatory bodies must first be obtained to perform work in and around waterways including river banks. Additionally The City must protect fish habitat from the potential impacts of construction.
Here’s some additional information on the work: 
  • The repair includes the backfilling of a large scour hole in the river channel next to one of the bridge piers
  • The work will involve stockpiling large rock on both sides of the river and then moving it into place with equipment operating in the river
  • The work will require access from both the north (off Memorial Drive) and the south (through Sien Lok Park) sides of the river.  Both will impact pathways.
  • Parks has already placed detours around the affected areas of the pathway.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nik software - crow deconstruction

I saw this crow on my way home from work as I was crossing Centre Street Bridge.  In the background are the stairs that lead up to Rotary Park.

Thought maybe I should talk a little bit about how I edit.  The following is a step by step view of how this crow photo was edited using Nik software (a recent acquisition) and Photoshop CS5.

The original crow photo, shot with a Canon PowerShot G15 using the Auto setting.  I chose Auto because it gives me a little more zoom than the other settings.

Crow cropped in camera. (Say that 10 times fast.)


Using PhotoShop CS5s Spot Healing Brush tool, set to Replace mode, I removed the white bridge wall just below the crow's tail.


Next I used one of the Nik Silver Efex filters to turn the photo black and white.


Maybe I should have stopped with the Silver Efex, but I wanted to see what would happen if I combined effects.  So I ran the photo through one of the Analog Efex filters hoping to add shading to the background and to make the crow stand out more.


Finally, using Photoshop, I tweaked the levels and contrast a bit and added a signature. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

William Kaleta mystery

A Flickr photographer that I follow recently posted the above picture with a request for anyone to explain the story behind the grave marker.  Thank you so much, John.  Could not resist trying to find an answer to your question.  Half a day later...

An initial Google search found a lot of hockey references, which I ignored (at first).

So then I checked my bookmarks.  My browser has all kinds of historical websites for when I do family searches, so I thought I'd give it a go for William Kaleta.  Thing is, I started with William and couldn't stop once I found an article in the Lethbridge Herald.  Here is what I found.


[Lethbridge Herald article issued July 21, 1953] - Calgary - CP -

Dragging operations are continuing on Spray Lakes, 15 miles southwest of Canmore, for the bodies of two miners drowned Sunday night when their small fishing boat capsized 100 yards off shore.

RCMP from Canmore are conducting the search for the bodies of William Kaleta and Bert Czeck, both about 35 and residents of the Canmore district.

A third member of the fishing party, Steve Jerwa, 40, also of Canmore, escaped the fate of his partners when he managed to cling to the bottom of the upturned boat for an hour until rescued by another boatman.

Newspaper Archive

So then I did a search on the survivor, Steve Jerwa, thinking maybe at one time he told the story of their accident.  I found that Steve died in 1992 and is buried in Canmore [Findagrave].  Also found a brief bio on Lawrence website: Steve Jerwa - Retired Coal Miner.  But nothing was mentioned about William or the boating accident.

Then I thought, maybe there's something in the hockey references.  A Kaleta searched found Alex (Killer) Kaleta who was born in Canmore, played for the Blackhawks, and is attributed for the term "hat trick."  A hat company offered him a free hat he was eyeing, if he scored 3 goals in one game.  He scored 4 and got the hat.  SOURCE: Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends - Killer Kaleta  It also mentions that he was the son of a coal miner.    Findagrave  Hmmm.

The search to solve the mystery of the grave marker continues.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nik software

Well, I bought the Google Nik Collection photo editing software, mostly because I loved the b&w filters, and partially because it only cost $145.  The need to up my photography was also a factor.

So now comes the playing.

"funky blue truck"

A funky little truck seen at the Calgary Horticultural Society's annual Garden Show held this weekend at Spruce Meadows.

Almost went a little overboard with Nik until I found the look I wanted... meaning I don't remember all the tools I used until I got the eureka moment.  I do remember adding a little bokeh effect to blur up the stones a little.

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"apple & book"

Combined an HDR filter with a vintage filter (to get the frame) and a very slight vignette blur. Then made some minor level and contrast adjustments with Photoshop CS5.  For this one, the tricky part was to not make it look obviously HDR.  In hindsight, I should've removed the wood bar in the background before taking the shot.

- - -

"tye-dye sky"

I don't remember what exactly I used, but it upped the blue sky and brightened the statue.  Will have to pay better attention (read: write things out), so that I can duplicate this sort of thing.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Real Family


What is a real family?  
Is it two parents of 
opposite sexes
with a kid or two 
and a dog?
Is a "real" family 
a fantasy? 
A dream?
A dark impossibility,
because it was
never possible.


It finally looks like the winter snows and cold might be over. Yeah!!!

Tonight I went on a walkabout with a new photography Meetup group called Calgary Photo Walkers.  Although it was the group's first meetup (we wandered down Stephen Avenue) I had met five in the group before from other meetups.  Which was a good thing, since I had to work and missed the first hour of the walkabout.  Familiar faces made catching up with them easy.

It felt so good to finally get out without the added weight of winter boots and heavy sweaters.

Here are some of the photos I took with the group.  Editing was done mostly in camera.


Loud angry words... the brave fellow in the middle stepped in to quickly stop a fight before it went beyond words.

where ever he laid his hat was his home

red hat

A homeless man sleeps off a drunk on Stephen Avenue.  Don't know how long he was there, but when a photographer friend and I couldn't wake him I called 911.  He was sitting up on his own commenting about our cameras before EMS arrived.  This wasn't the first time I've called 911 for an unconscious person and it probably won't be the last time, either.  The number of people walking past him, some without even a look, was more disconcerting than his unconsciousness.

the audience

wordy busker 1

wordy busker 2

bike shadow

x marks the spot