Monday, March 30, 2009

Sea to Sky: Hwy 99 North to Whistler, BC

A few of us did a Sun Dance a few days ago and the Sun God granted us our wish of a bright, rainless, sunny Sunday. While the sun looks as warm as that of Florida, we are still in the grips of winter, even though it is technically Spring. Oh, what to do ? Whister is not my first choice of a relaxing place to wander around but I have not driven the "Sea to Sky Highway" since last year. We got an early start and headed North from the heart of urban Vancouver, BC. The locals call this the "Killer Highway".

(just south of Squamish, BC Hwy 99 Sea to Sky highway)

They are doing a major facelift of the highway which runs along Howe Sound. It is very expensive to blast the rock faced cliffs, and during the winter and rainy season there are a lot of rock slides and bridge washouts which often close this Highway. There is no alternate route Northward from Vancouver.

(another view, south approach to Squamish, BC)

This was originally, mostly a single lane road with limited access passing lanes. During most of its length towards Whistler it is mostly 4 lanes, however in the mountainous sections it is 2 lane (one lane each direction) or 3 lane (usually 2 lanes uphill, 1 downhill) alternating, dependant on direction. There have been countless accidents along this highway due to the many twists and turns, mostly head on as the offending vehicle could not manage to stay in their own lane and end up crossing the line onto the opposing lane -- mainly due to speed.


As you take the upper levels highway (Hwy 1 TCH) from West Vancouver, Squamish is approx 70 kms north, and Whistler is another 50 kms further. In the old days, before construction, you were able to travel this distance in just and hour and 20 minutes. With all the construction zones and heavy traffic it is taking closer to 3-1/2 hours (each way). We left home around 9am and did not arrive at Whistler until around 12:30pm



There are not many places to safely pull over due to all the pylons and cement barriers but I did manage to stop a few times when traffic was light.

(Notice motorcyclist in the oncoming lane)

The closer we get to Whistler, the more snow we see


(Whistler Vistor Centre)

We eventually arrive in Whistler and head over to the "The Village" , Whistler Village, that is.

(Whistler Village)

Blackcomb-Whistler is one of the finest ski resorts in the world. Acres of ski runs, two separate mountains (next to each other) with the "Village" in the middle.

(Blackcomb Gondola)

Turn your head a few degrees to your right and you see one of many Whistler chairlifts.

(Whistler chairlift, one of many)

About a half block further (to the right) you come across the Whistler Gondola building

(Whistler gondola)

We purchased tickets to go to the top of the mountain


We have to wait our turn and let the occupants egress


Here comes Gondola #147, can't wait to jump aboard

to be continued . . .

Here's the first thing we saw as we got to the top of Whistler, Roundhouse station.

(Whistler mountain, Round House station)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring has sprung & Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver

Yes, this is the first weekend of Spring. We had torrential rains all week but for some reason the clouds parted and we had a sunny, but cool, weekend. Everywhere we went there were lots of Riders out and about. It was a great day to be out on two wheels, but I was exercising my cameras so today it was the car for me. As mentioned on previous entries, this was family Sunday (a day relegated for 4 wheeled transport). Most Sundays will find us having brunch somewhere and go for a ride in the country to take photos. I am trying to re-acquaint myself with the finer points of shooting film instead of digital, like the way it was done over half a century ago.

(Toyo 45A 4x5 field camera with Nikor 180-W)

Many years ago I decided to get serious with photography and purchased some professional grade equipment. Then there was the steep learning curve to learn how to use it. I read a lot of books, purchased magazines and bought lots of film and learned how to develop so I am a self taught advanced amateur. It is only a hobby for me and I do not make any money for my efforts. There is nothing so satisfying as to "make" a photo for a friend to hang on their walls. The Toyo 45A is a metal field camera and is solid, very stable in the wind. This is the one that I usually take with me when I am in the car.

If I am walking about town I prefer to take something lighter. Of course lighter means less stable.

(similar to Nagaoka 45, folding wood view camera)

This particular camera folds into a small package. There is not much room for a lens to be attached, while folded but I discovered that if I mount the lens backwards, I could actually fold the camera with the lens inside.

(camera is small when folded, showing Tamrac photgraphic backpack)

This wood field camera is the one that I was going to pack on my motorcycle (somehow). I purchased this at a camera swap meet years ago and there was a name on it that I can't remember.

You will notice from the background of these photos that I was at the Cypress Bowl Viewpoint overlooking the City of Vancouver & Lion's Gate Bridge/Stanley park. There were a few other photographers there taking scenic photos and many made comments to the affect that this was an "old" camera, but little do they know that some of the best modern field cameras currently for sale are made of wood. I also have a Wista 45 folding wood field camera that is too beautiful to use. It is made of Rosewood with brass fittings. I think it looks better on a shelf.

Lately there has been a lot of interest in photography from our fellow bloggers. Even Conch of Key West Diary recently mentioned how he takes his photos to post on his blog. I re-read his post a few times and still can't understand how he does it.

My photos are hosted on two sites; photobucket and webshots. I enter my blog ramblings and whenever I want to post a picture I insert the Html code where I want it to show. Then I allow at least one space below the photo and continue to input more words. I still don't understand how Conch uploads a set of photos and then expect it to magically appear where he wants it to.

My workflow consists of taking "whatever" photos at the full resolution of the camera that I am using. I carry at least two cameras; Canon digital Elph SD700 and Canon G-10. The G-10 was purchased to replace the SD700 which I have had for over 2 years, but as it is so very small I continue to carry it in my jacket pocket. The G-10 is a larger camera which I carry in a waist pouch. If I am working on a video I also carry my Panasonic SDR-20SW. This uses flash memory and is shock proof and can be submerged under water. I use it a lot in the rain, or mounted on my motorcycle SV650 using Ram-Mounts. I also have a Nikon D-80 which I purchased a couple of years ago which I use when I need to shoot faster images as with both the G-10 or SD700 there is a delay between pictures as it is re-generating. I was going to upgrade the D-80 but instead decided to go for a smaller camera due to the limited storage options on the SV650 or scooter.

My full resolution pictures are downloaded onto an external drive (of which I have a few). All my editing is done on a small 14.2" laptop and I don't wish to clutter the small hard drive with photos, other than the ones I am currently working on. My desktop unit failed over a year ago and since I don't like Vista I decided that I could do without it. I use an image reducer program to "batch" downsize the resolution of my photos to 800x600, but I have all the full resolution files available if you should ever want it. For my videos I often downsize batches of 300 photos with just ONE click.

I am not a flowing writer like Jack Riepe of "Twisted Roads" where words just flow out like a beautiful waterfall, rather my words are sprayed out like "stuttering mist" and it takes me a while to gather my thoughts, delete, re-write and re-organize my thoughts into something cohesive. All of this takes time, usually 2-3 hours before I am finished. It was my plan to have at least one post per week or perhaps 3 every 2 weeks but until riding season actually starts I am struggling for current material. I try to post mainly riding material but when I started this blog I also wanted to showcase some of the scenery of our area which includes an adjacent state or province or two. I have never been the one to write too many personal things about my life but as I have noticed others that DO, I am getting more comfortable in doing so.

ET: Earl Thomas of Two Wheels and an Engine recently posted something that I was curious about for a while and why he was known as "The Vampire Duck". And if a shy person such as ET can make such posts. Don't get me wrong, I love to meet people and can be an extrovert if need be, but most often prefer to remain in the background and analyze the proceedings and form opinions . . .

As my goal today was to take some scenic photos, soon we left Cypress Bowl and found ourselves at Whytecliff Park


This is a favour spot for Scuba divers and Kayakers. There is a small island accessed by a small rocky causeway at low tide

(Whyte Island, West Vancouver, BC)

(rising tide)

When we first arrived the rocks were a lot higher than they are now. The water is rising fast. Soon the island will be cut off from the mainland. There are a few people on the top who are oblivious to the situation and they may get stranded if they are not paying attention to the tides. Note the scuba divers in the foreground.

(Rocky's Cafe)

There is a small coffee shop overlooking the cliff, but will not be open until the warmer weather sometime in late April, unlike in Key West where they are enjoying warm sunny weather. We are still within the fringes of winter's grip waiting our turn to bask in the sunshine. There was a chill in the air but no hot chocolate today.

Nearly forgot to post the view of Vancouver from Cypress lookout:

(Vancouver, BC Sunday, March 22, 2009)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cityscape: Vancouver, BC

I have been busy of late trying to rekindle my photographic roots. Years ago I belonged to some photo clubs and many of the local photogs gather weekly to socialize and talk about cameras over dinner and which B&W film and developer combinations work the best. I have been an ardent user of Divided D-76 which is a 2 part developer used for contrast control. Of course I mix all the ingredients myself on a 3 beam scale. Tom Abrahamsson ( suggested I try Beutler and tonight gave me some Sodium Carbonate which was the only ingredient I was missing. So while I plan on doing all my own B&W processing I have been busy digging out my dusty cameras and plan on doing more professional quality prints. As you probably know from my YouTube channel all of my vacations are devoted to travelling the backroads of the PNW and taking scenic pictures (which has been my hobby for many years). This year, if I can figure out a way to safely transport and secure my camera and accessories to either my Scooter or Motorcycle, I plan on riding with photographic destinations in mind. This will include stopping at all viewpoints looking for nature's scenic beauty. Right now, I cannot figure out a way to secure my tripod without a thief spotting it, and I don't want to have to carry my camera whenever I am away from the bike. I only have soft cases which are not really secure. (more discussion on a future blog entry)

For now, here is a photo of Vancouver's Skyline, taken from the inner harbour from Stanley Park facing south east

vanc m crop
(Vancouver, BC Cityscape March 15, 2009)

This is a stitched panorama from 5 photos taken with a Canon G-10. Click on the image for options to view at full size

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mumblings: One

I think this is a great idea to write about my mumblings, sort of like Vignettes from my colleague Key West Diary (<-- example here) . Sort of not enough information for a complete essay but rather a few short paragraphs of thoughts.

Back to my confrontation:

The light changed and the truck remained stationary in front of me. At least the back up lights are not on so I know that he is not going to be backing on purpose. The truck started to move forward at a couple of KMH, sort of barely rolling. As we were crossing the intersection I was contemplating just making a right turn to "get away" but he wasn't far enough ahead and I thought that he could still turn and follow me. To my surprise he turned into the gas station and I quickly accelerated and kept an eagle eye on my rear view mirror, but as I passed I noticed that the truck was backing into a parking spot. When you have erratic/unpredictable drivers it is safer to be behind them rather them being behind you. I have not changed my route to work and I have not seen this truck again. I doubt that this person would recognize my car anyway as last week was before DST and I had my headlights on, and also I have a very non-descript vehicle which blends into the background.
There has been a lot of Gang Activity here in Vancouver, so in retrospect you never know who you are dealing with, Nor what weapons, if any, they may have on their possession. As a law abiding citizen I also have a possession firearm permit but there are restrictions as to when and where you are allowed to carry a firearm. You cannot just have one in your trunk but thugs and gansters are above the law, so next time I'll just turn a blind eye.

Attention: Jack Riepe of "Twisted Roads" (<-- click)

Thank you very much, for your envelope arrived today. I know it has been a while but our Canadian Postal Service is not as efficient as the USPS. I was very surprised to find what was inside. I was expecting a "coupon" of some sort and was going to put it to very good use down in Bellingham, in the very near future. From your writings I feel that I almost know you and your desires so when I come across images that reflect your ahem, "style" , I just can't help myself. So to Jack . . . enjoy. These images are "in the style of Jack Riepe" , un-annotated as I am not at his literary level, nor is my limited vocabulary up to his high standard, but I am sure if I post the photos, Jack will come up with the narrative.





Jack Riepe, recently posted this comment in reponse to another post . . .

Jack Riepe said: "It is the policy of Twisted Roads to explore every aspect of motorcycling, and to present photographic proof whenever possible. As they say, one picture is worth a thousand words.

I am forced to compete with Key West Diary, Wet Coast Scooting, Scooter in the Sticks, and REDLEGS Rides for meaningful pictures. Most of the shots in this episode of Twisted Roads frame my thoughts exactly"

So in Jack's words, and in the spirit of Key West Diary, Conch who rides up and down every street in KW taking photos of everything he sees, it is getting harder to compete with his documentary style, but I am trying and my mandate is to attempt to include lots of photos with my posts. I have recently discovered that his Squeeze Leslie, is also a very accomplished artist and photographer in her own right and I am surprised that some of her photographic skills did not rub off on him.

ARCTIC air has invaded British Columbia again

Just when we thought that we were rid of Old Man Winter, the cold air returned.

(view from the office parking lot)

Now I know that Conch gloats and posts the odd cutting remark about those of us who live in the northern regions of the country, (hoping that we don't notice) but one day the warmer weather will return. We don't take chances with the possibilty of snow or ice on the roads but we ride as much as we are able. Most years we are able to ride all year except for a week or two, but this year was different. We had the worst snow storm in 40 years and we are not alone. Many areas of the country has had miserable weather due to global warming, or was that global cooling ?

ONE WEEK: (the Movie) :

(One Week: movie poster)

We are not movie goers but it was Mrs Scoot's BD a couple of weeks ago and we went to see a movie (her choice, of course), Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio "Revolutionary Road" a great character study. Anyway they were showing previews of the upcoming movies and they showed the trailer for "One Week". It's about someone diagnosed with a terminal disease and given One Week to live. Well, actually not exactly One Week. Could be One hour, One week, One month, One year, you get the idea. He decides to purchase a Norton Commando 850 Motorcycle and travel across the country "to find himself" and go on an adventure. It's a Canadian actor, travelling across Canada from Toronto to Tofino, on the West Coast of British Columbia showing some key sights along the way. Now it's giving me ideas of travelling across . . .

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Confrontation . . .

For those that know me also know that I am a “meek” and sociable person. I always go out of my way to meet people and share stories and experiences. I am the most approachable person around. If there is anything I can do for you, just ASK, and it shall be done.

I have also learned how NOT to be an aggressive driver. In my earlier days (notice that I choose not to use “younger”), I was one of those that would constantly change lanes and push the pedal to the metal, power shifting in every gear just to be in the front of the line. Sure I have had fast cars/motorcycles but I find that if you have power “on-tap” you tend not to use it. Call it small car syndrome but my 36hp VW beetle back in the 60’s was always being pushed to the limits. I also recently sold my ’67 Firebird Convert muscle car and I don’t think I ever went very fast in it either. I just liked the sounds of the dual “flowmaster” exhausts . You always drive classic cars slowly to make the ride last longer. Around 1980 I purchased a fast bike. It was a Suzuki GS1100, the fastest production bike of that year and I never went especially fast on that bike but it felt nice to have that extra power when you needed it. I think I went faster on my BWS Yamaha scooter. It started out as regular 49cc slow-mo machine that could go nearly 40 km/ltr. When it was de-restricted plus installation of a 70cc cylinder kit, different clutch, belt and muffler, it could fly, and it did fly every time I rode it. You could hardly keep it under the speed limit. Again it was small car syndrome taking over. I don’t know what it is but when you have limited power it seems that you just go faster and when you have the power, then speed just doesn’t matter anymore.

firebird S
('67 Pontiac Firebird Convert, 1st Gen 326-HO)

Now, I have a long commute to work. For those of you that know the layout of Vancouver you know that there is no fast way to get about town. I live in the heart of the City (no freeways around here), and I have to travel on busy surface roads to get to my destination on the fringes of civilization., approx 25 km each way. (32miles in US talk). When I was younger you could say this was “on the fringe” but due to urban sprawl and congestion, it is just as busy throughout every corner of the Greater Vancouver area.

I have changed my commuting route several times now switching to slower roads. Slower you ask, when many would choose the faster. I found that I was getting drawn into the Indy 500 mentality. Yes, I do know how to drive fast, but I choose not to and I found myself changing lanes often and of course you are going a speed often in excess of what is allowed. I finally realized what I was doing so changed to a much slower route with lots of signal lights to slow you down. I find that my commute is a refuge from the outside world. When you are in a car you are in your cocoon, listening to your thoughts, or the radio, hot line, singing to yourself and just rolling along subconscientiously towards your work destination. Sure I can change lanes and roll with the flow, but that would get my adrenalin up. So I am content to merely just follow the vehicle ahead.

So it was this morning. I was at a stop light with 3 lanes of traffic waiting for the “green” light to start the race. I am usually content to just follow the leader ahead, but today there are two vehicles to my right, in the 3rd lane. Just across the intersection these 3 lanes merge into 2 lanes. I am 3rd in line. The light changes and the race is on. My job is to keep distance from the person ahead while the other two on my right are trying to merge into our lane and their portion of roadway is ending fast. This large silver 4x4 quad cab monster truck starts to move into my lane with ME in the way. I had to swerve left to avoid the “crunch” . I don’t know if this was intentional or whether he just tried to run me off the road. He may just be a driver who doesn’t look into his mirrors. I recognize this truck before on my morning commute. For some reason these big gas guzzlers think they own the road.

(Grey 4X4 Quad Cab pick up truck, that cut me off)

Now I’m following this truck until we get to another light. I pull out my camera and take a few pictures of his license plate. I make sure he sees me taking these photos. I see his face in his mirror and his back up lights come on. He is reversing . . . I immediately think to myself that he is going to RAM me. It is a slight incline so I roll backwards a few feet. I think the car behind sees what’s going on and immediately turns into the left lane which is free of cars. Now I have no one behind me and can roll back further. I think to myself, now what do I do. So I whip out my cell phone and pretend to be talking to someone even thought it is OFF. I’m trying to make him think that I have called 911 or the police.

(4x4 Quad Cab, in front of me at the next signal light)

The light changes, all the traffic is moving, except for this aggressive 4x4 quad cab which is stopped in front of me. I think now that there is going to be a confrontation of some sort, or he thinks that I will change lanes and speed ahead of him. I think the last thing I want is for him to be behind me, so I stand my ground and wait . . . (to be continued)

I finally got to work and was still shaking and looking over my shoulder and in the rear view mirror. I just wanted to get away. I think tomorrow I'm going the slow way, or visit my nearest autobody shop for a colour change . . .

Often when I need a rest from the pressures of life, I turn to Baron's View (<--- Click link) He has an interesting perspective on life and his jokes can keep you amused for hours. In the spirit of Baron's View, here is my contribution for today. And Baron, enjoy . . . and keep up the good work. One day we should take out our Moskva's and take a few pics

Hung Chow calls into work and says, 'Hey, I no come
work today, I really sick. Got headache, stomach ache and legs
hurt, I no come work.'

The boss says, 'You know something, Hung Chow, I
really need you today. When I feel like this, I go to my wife and tell her I want sex. That makes everything better and I go to work. You try

Two hours later Hung Chow calls again. 'I do what you
say and I feel great. I be at work soon......... You got nice

Monday, March 2, 2009

Imaging . . .

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time pursuing my photography hobby. Whilst I have had many digital cameras during the past decade I have lost touch with my analogue roots. I think there is a conspiracy from all the photography manufacturers to entice us to keep up with technology thus making our cameras obsolete every year or so. I know there are other bloggers such as Steve (click for his recent post) who photograph their scooters against scenic backdrops.

(Granville Island, Vancouver, BC)

I am preparing to embark on more rides focused towards photographic destinations. As A past camera collector, I dusted off a few collectibles and ventured out last weekend shooting B&W film for the first time in many years. I know that Steve (Scooter in the Sticks) mentioned recently that his darkroom was a cozy place. Well, I can tell you that in the past I have spent many hours in my darkroom until the wee hours of the night making prints and listening to my music.

(excuse the darkroom mess)

I have a Durst M601 (dichroic head) medium format enlarger where I use for enlargements from 35mm to 6x6. For my larger formats (MF/LF: 6x7, 6x9, 6x12 & 4x5) I use my Omega D2 (condensor). I also have a subminiature collection and I use my minox enlarger for those.

(Jobo CPE-2 colour processor, with lift, magnetic drums)

Most of this stuff hasn't seen the light of day for years. I originally purchased the Jobo to be able to do my own E-6, or C-41. As you can see, I am a hobbist and was not afraid to purchase all this equipment to "learn the trade". I have spent countless hours learning/practicing and I think that I have come to the point where I have forgotten mostly everything.

I was interested to shoot a couple of "test" rolls to get back into the developing groove. I was going through my film supply of black and white film and found that my most recent roll had expired nearly 6 years ago. Oh well, not to worry, just a little loss in speed or a minute or so of more developing. While I was pondering which camera to use, I noticed that my Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta A had a partial roll loaded. You can tell by looking through that little red window on the back (120 roll film). The Super Ikonta A is a small 645 folding camera. The one I have is prewar (non coated lens) made in the late '30s making it over 70 years old.

(Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta A, 645 folder with 3.5/7cm lens)

After I finished the film, I switched over to my Certo-Six (6x6 format). This is a lesser know model over here in North America but it is made in Germany and is a very solid camera with an excellent reputation.

(Certo-Six, w/ Zeiss Tessar lens)

Not wanting to "ruin" both rolls I took my first "test" roll from the Ikonta A and prepared to develop the film. I purchased "fresh" developer the other day, BUT in an effort to save some $$, I found a brand new, sealed bottle that I have had sitting on the shelf for 6 years. I opened the seal and noticed that the liquid had turned a muddy, dark brown, sort of like a strong cup of coffee. I used it anyway which was a big mistake. I developed for 7 min, in 1+9 dilution of Ilfosol agitating every minute and the negatives came out a little "light".


Tonight I came home and decided to "run" the other Certo roll using my fresh developer, Ilfosol 3. When I opened the bottle the solution was nearly clear light water, NOT brown like the old mixture

(Ilfosol "s" OLD, vs Ilfosol 3 NEW)

Because of my error yesterday, today I overcompensated and developed the negatives too long. I developed for 8-1/2 min, 1+9 dilution Ilfosol 3 agitating 10 sec/min. Now that I have honed in on my times, the next "batch" should come out just perfect. Ilfosol is not my usual developer, it's just the one I use when I am testing new film, or in this case, I haven't had time to mix up a new batch yet. I am a purist and prefer to mix my own developer from powder. I have had good results in the past using a divided D-76, 2-step developer system which develops in 2 stages; A + B which you can tweek for contrast control, or to collapse the "zones" to elimininate burning and dodging when making your prints.

(False Creek, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC)


Summer's not quite here. While the sun is out and the rain has stopped the heat of spring is just around the corner. Next weekend we start Daylight Savings Time. One more hint that summer is near.

During my travels on the weekend, I came across this tree full of "Bald Eagles" and tried to go for that silouette look. How many bald eagles can you spot ?

(Bald Eagles, Delta, BC)