Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Lord Strathcona Mounted Troop

As part of Corpus Christi primary school's 60th Anniversary,  the Lord Strathcona Mounted Troop entertained kids and a few neighbours with a musical horseback ride on the school grounds.  A friend called me up, thinking I'd be interested in shooting some photos. It was a lucky call. The few bystanders I spoke to heard it from a friend or maybe through the local church or they happened upon it on their way to somewhere else. Or they were kids and faculty from Corpus Christi.

While we were waiting for the performance to begin, one of the school faculty came over to let us know where the best places to sit were to watch the show.  She said they invited another nearby school to attend, unfortunately, there was an issue with release forms because the event was off school property.  A few laughs. The other school was just across the street.

"Things were simpler in my day," an old guy responded.

"Well, things are more libellous now," the staff person replied.

Eighteen red uniformed riders on eighteen brown horses circled, charged, and paraded around the small field. The kids were encouraged to make a lot of noise during the musical ride, which they did with gusto, yelling and screaming like little banshees. 

The show looked pretty cool from ground-level, but the formations would have looked amazing if I could have shot from above the riders. I tried doing some video with my Pentax, a zoom lens, and a monopod, with so-so results. Very shakey. Very noisy lens clicking. It will take hours of editing to get anything resembling presentable. Apparently, the Strathcona Mounted Troop performs frequently at Spruce Meadows. Maybe a chance to try again.

At the end of the show, kids could visit with the riders and their horses. The kid next to me turned to his friend and said, "Wanna go play on the playground?"


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Rally 4 Indigenous Rights

Local Indigenous people rallied together in Olympic Plaza Monday afternoon to protest bills being passed by the Federal Government that change Indigenous rights and treaties. The protest calls the new bills Whitepaper 2.0, referring to PM Pierre Trudeau's attempt at changing the status of Indigenous persons with the Whitepaper proposal of 1969.

I was on my lunch break for the May 27th rally, so I only had time to catch the protesters leaving Olympic Plaza, marching to the Harry Hayes Building. Indigenous people across the country have vowed to protest through the summer if necessary.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

#strike4climate - Youth Climate Strike rally

Interesting Friday - I yelled at a driver, followed a youth climate change protest, and spoke with a couple of female Mormon missionaries.  The yelling I will save for another post that will probably turn into an idiot-driver rant.  This posting is mostly about the mass of young people who decided to skip school to protest climate change.  It was actually a worldwide event that I guess not many people knew about, but because I subscribe to a few environmental news sites I learned that Montreal had approx 100,000 kids in the streets.  Other cities had more, others less. Being that Calgary is a petroleum-dependent city, I wasn't expecting to see many kids there. There weren't hundreds, but there were enough to make a point.  The enthusiasm of youth.  Gotta love it.  Treehugger has an excellent article, posted March 15, of news Tweets from around the world: Young people take to the streets around the world in the #strike4climate.

Protesting at the doors of City Hall.

"Come on out! Come on out!" No one came out of City Hall.

Peas for the planet. This girl told me that last summer her family went away and when they came back the peas they planted were too far gone to eat. So at her birthday party, she gave everyone peas to plant. She brought her pea plant to the protest.

Later,  I had a sit-down in Olympic Plaza to check out my photos. I was approached by a couple young ladies who happened to be missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS); one from the US and the other from Japan.  We had a nice chat. I told them that they were the first young women missionaries I had ever seen, that usually, I've seen young men LDS missionaries.  They asked what I was taking photos of and I told them about the rally.  They then ask why I take photos of activists.

Two men discuss the appropriateness of pontificating out of turn. The bald guy on the right felt entitled to share his opposing opinions to the climate change movement.  The man on the left had to remind him that the protest was for the kids. That it was their moment, not his. 

I told the LDS missionaries that while the kids were rallying a single adult male decided to counter the kid's chants of "what do we want" by shouting "we want jobs."  He was promptly told to cease and desist by someone's father.  That almost got out of hand too when the father told the entitled-one that his opinions would be best shared with Yellow Vesters.  Enough of that or I'll be starting an idiot-male rant.

I told the missionaries that at most rallies I've attended there is the one person, usually a man, who feels entitled to steal the soap-box for his own agenda.  I take photos for the people who share his view, who cannot change their perspective, and who need to know that their opinions aren't shared by everyone. Call me Don Quixote. Calgarians are a comfy, complacent bunch.

I told them that most of the protesters at the climate rally were girls and that if there is going to be any meaningful change in the world that it would be done by women.  This particular rally was inspired by Greta Thunberg the young Swedish girl who started a solo climate strike last year. According to The Guardian, 20,000 students worldwide have joined her.

Word has it that Calgary kids are going to try to rally every Friday.


On Social Media:

Friday, February 1, 2019

Creating my first professional looking video

Rant warning...

This week I completed SAIT's disappointing DSLR Video 101 program.

Class instruction relied heavily, too heavily, on bland PowerPoint presentations (with errors occasionally corrected mid-lecture), four thin module handouts, and YouTube videos that I could have accessed for free. The instructor also called upon an unsuspecting but accommodating classmate, a professional photographer, to basically co-instruct. Not surprisingly after two classes, he dropped the program.

The first class pretty much set the tone with the instructor geeking out with the students who already had some video experience. Leaving those of us who had no video knowledge to either tread forward on our own or ask the instructor questions after the lecture. So not everyone learned the same thing. During one of the class geek sessions, the Dragon RED 4K camera, a camera I could never dream to own, sidelined us a little. Still, while it was interesting to see on the website the films that were shot with it (I checked it out at home), I couldn't help but feel we were missing other things that could have been covered.

Module assignments had to be shot on the SAIT campus.  When one classmate asked why that was so, he was told that it was "the curriculum." He also dropped the class. There was no feedback on the assignments submitted, so no real idea if you were on the right track unless you asked the instructor during the next class.

During the video editing portion, using Adobe Premiere Pro, I learned more from the Adobe tutorials, figuring stuff out on my own, and co-classmates figuring stuff out on their own and sharing, than from the instructor's notes. The software ran so slow in class that I downloaded the trial version to my home computer so I could complete the editing before the final assignment deadline.

The redeeming feature of the SAIT program is the cool people I met. We floundered in the SAIT hallways playfully together as we tried to complete the assignments during the class times allotted.

Also not surprising, there wasn't a student evaluation at the end of the class. Here are links to a couple of the better YouTube videos shown by the instructor:
As I usually do when the instruction is lacking, I explored other means of learning and found the treasure that is the Studio Binder website. Studio Binder had everything covered in the SAIT program and more. And better! For free!

The Studio Binder page, "How to Make a Storyboard for Video and Film: A Definitive Guide," not only explains in detail about how to make a storyboard it also has online templates you can use to create your own storyboards (for free!). Plus brilliant video tutorials. There are other tutorials for basic movie-making needs like script breakdowns, shooting schedules, and call sheets. Did I mention it is free?

Another freebie I explored months before the SAIT program was "Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR" on, accessible through the Calgary Public Library's e-Library. Very introductory, still it covered things like how still photographers need to think differently when shooting video. Also, how to position the camera to get the needed shots and how to focus (it's different with video).

A YouTube search for "videography for beginners" or "DSLR videography tutorials for beginners" results in a ton of video tutorials. My favourites:
Long story short, if you want to learn how to shoot video with your DSLR camera skip the video program at SAIT and instead search Google, search YouTube, search the Library, and then go out there and shoot.

Here is my final assignment submission. Not proud. I had problems with my camera's sound (because I didn't know what I was doing and had calibrated the audio wrong). When I tried to reshoot the audio in the next class, the environments had changed from a near dead campus to one bustling with open house visitors. So I had to improvise with some of the background sounds. (One is a sound-clip of Sexy Bingo in the SAIT bar. See if you can spot it.) I hope to do better with practice.


Some books that I've placed on hold at the Library (keyword searched DSLR video and subject searched Cinematography):