Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Flashback to Montana, July 2011

The other day I was over at Kari's blog and she made a comment about our trip to Montana during July 2011.  You can read about it   HERE1  or  HERE2   or  HERE3

but of course you could go to Bluekat's blog and read   THIS1  or  THIS2  

    Our Home away from Home,  Cabin near Hungry Horse, Montana             July 2011

the difference being is that all of my photos are GONE.  My memories have been reduced to bland letters while her's is vibrant and full of photos.   As we look back upon life and memories of what made us happy I have fond memories of this trip and our time together.    It was my pleasure to spend a few days with Kari, Ron and the Dom Family from Denver, CO (and Martha blogs too).   I had met Kari and Ron before in Bend, Oregon during our first iMBC2010, but it was my first meeting with Dom (aka: Charlie6)

We had one real washroom with running water for 7 adults and 2 teens and we had to make a schedule for washroom and shower times.   It was sort of like turning back the clock to simpler times as there was no radio, nor was there any TV or internet.  I remember that we were just one happy family.  There was one washing machine and we pooled our clothes together into one wash and thanks to Martha I had clean clothes to wear

    Our first glimpse of Dom  (aka: charlie6)                        see one of   Dom's post  here  

Bluekat (Kari) & Ron came from Corvallis, OR while I rode south from Vancouver BC.  We decided to meet in Ritzville, WA and then ride together to Montana

    Entering Idaho.    Kari & Ron

We took turns leading

    Kari with her Ninja

and we eventually made it into Montana

I think it was because I was leading on the last stretch where we got lost.  We didn't realize that Dom was waiting by the side of the road looking out of us and he was just going to go back to the cabin so we were lucky to come along at the right time before he left

The last section of the road turned to hard packed gravel with a steep incline.  You can see our cabin in the distance.

With our bikes parked we could finally relax and settle in for the next few days.    The Going to the Sun highway was not scheduled to open for a day or so due to the heavy snows and the road was not cleared so the next day we decided to go for a day ride.  It was one of the lastest opens for the road over Logan Pass

Kari made mention that she enjoyed looking at photos from this trip so here are a few that you may not have seen before.   She has had some challenges this year and I thought I could put a smile on her face and bring back some happy times.   I hope that one day soon we can do it again

    Lake Koocanusa,  MT

    Lake Koocanusa, MT                 Kari & Ron

    Kari & Ron          Glacier National Park,     July, 2011

Here's a video I recorded on  July 13th, 2011.   This was the latest opening of the Going to the Sun Highway

It was gravel nearly the whole way with lots of road construction and single lane traffic

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Learning to move Pixels around

I have a mental block against PS    I admit that I tried to learn a long time ago when it was PS3, then it was PS4 . . . I always managed to get hold of an evaluation copy but somehow I just never understood how it worked and I had no one to mentor.  Now remember that this was long before internet and easy access to videos and tutorials.   When I got into video editing I bought PREL7 and I bought the dual pack which included PSEL7 but I never installed it.  I thought PSEL was inferior to the full PS so I kept using my evaluation copy of PS CS2 for basic contrast and curves adjustments.

When I bought my new i7  4-core laptop 2 years ago, it came preinstalled with PSEL9 which I never used.  I did buy the dual pack PREL10 with PSEL10 but again, I only installed PREL10 so I could edit my videos.

When David  (from Montreal) was visiting here recently we were talking about our ride to State College, PA this past July 2013, and I mentioned that it would be nice if we could make a T-shirt or something so that we could all have a remembrance from our time together.  This is how THIS T-shirt evolved

Here is the original graphic

Remember that I am not a power user of PS or PSEL9 and I wanted a graduated border, rather than an abrupt border.   I looked on-line for the solution and while the tutorial was rated as "easy" and 2 minutes to do,  this took me 2 days of frustration trying to make it work.  Eventually I managed to get it done

This photo was taken on Thursday, July 18, 2013 and Steve Williams made time to come and visit us at the KOA in Bellefonte, PA,  our last night before leaving.   We managed to snap two group photos and Steve was snapping photos of all of us and he was going to post something funny about us, but so far we haven't seen them.  The sun was going down and we were losing light fast.   One thing about photography is that it brings back so many memories.  David came up with the "Bloggers in the Sticks" banner and I tried to match the font on "Scooter in the Sticks".

I am not a fan of those do it yourself iron-on transfers as they rip and don't turn out very well and the last time I wasted a few T-shirts before I got a "keeper".  I managed to find someplace who had a "direct to Material" printer.  They have two; one for dark material which uses "white" inks and the other printer to print on White material which uses black inks .

During the past few weeks I have been learning more about image editing.  I bought a book and have been reading and also learning "from the internet".  Many things that were cloudy before have become a bit more clear.  I cannot read a book from the beginning chapter to chapter.  I find that if I have a project to work on then I will just learn what I need to know to be able to complete the project.   The same thing I did when I needed to learn how to do graduated margins on the first photo above

When I was in PEI: Prince Edward Island this summer, I regretted not buying a T-shirt from PEI.  Now I am not usually a fan of wearing shirts with writing or photos on them but I thought it would be different if I was actually displaying my own photo.  So I had this project in mind to make my own T-shirt

This was produced on "their"  White Ink printer, DTG: direct to garment (printer)    This is a 2-part process.  Chemicals are first applied to the dark material to "bleach" the base ink and then pressed under high heat to dry.   The white ink printer makes two passes over the material.  One pass to spray on the white ink and the second pass to apply the image.  After the T-shirt comes out of the printer, it is pressed under high heat again to "seal" the ink

I asked Phaedra to hold my shirt "hot off the press".   I bring my own .PSD file and they load it up in their own computer using Photoshop CC.    This whole process is done while we chat about this and that and I am usually gone within half an hour

Notice that I have also been working on Watermarking my images.  I didn't realize that my program can process multiple files or a whole directory at a time.   I can resize all of my images from one folder and also have them all reduced in size, apply colour correction and auto levels to them as well as print the watermark all done with just  "one click".   You can adjust the opacity which I set at 50% in White (you can change the colour).   

Here's the full graphic

The weather wasn't so great while we were there so the colours are a little subdued but it "is what it is"   I blended two photos.  One was with the Confederation Bridge in the background and the other was in Historic North Rustico Harbour.   More memories from the summer with my bike

And here it is "under construction"

I am learning to use Layers with adjustment masks so the original images remain unaltered.

I'm also playing around with making a logo as my watermark and I had some blogging business cards made and all of this is being done using  PSEL9

Here's Vstar*Lady on the ferry heading over to Prince Edward County, August 5th, 2013.   No, I'm not going to use that one but I had to manually place and resize it after saving it as a .PNG file.

crop taken from photo above.  I'm playing around with moving text around

As I look at my photos from this summer I can see more projects to work on as the weather deteriorates.  Things to keep me occupied until riding season starts again.   A sneak preview   . . .

More memories from the Bestest Summer Ever . . .   Summer, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Longest Covered Bridge in the World

While I had been riding to Oregon for several years, I had never ridden inside of a covered bridge but I finally got my chance a couple of years ago.  Oregon probably has the highest concentration of covered bridges in the country but I had never found one.   Look HERE     After iMBC2012,  I left Bend, OR early in the morning and after riding Hwy 242 the McKenzie Highway  (info)

I found myself at the beginning of the Aufderheide Memorial Drive  (info2)

It was July 24th, 2012 and it was a hot day but I was riding alone so I took the opportunity to stop at the 

Cougar Dam and Reservoir.

On the left you can see down into the Valley but in the photo immediately above you can see the water is nearly level with the road

The Aufderheide is a road which twists through the forest and since I didn't really see anyone else besides myself I was getting a strange feeling inside like someone was watching me so I kept riding and didn't stop

Even today as I think about it I still get this uneasy feeling like the forest was going to grab me and take me away.  Either that or a hungry Cougar was waiting to make a meal of me after all, they didn't name that reservoir the Cougar Dam for no reason.  All the time as I was carving through the corners all I could think about was when will this road end ?

After an hour or so I was greatly relieved to find myself in Westfir/Oakridge

where I stopped to snap a few photos of the Oakridge Covered Bridge

Soon it was time to ride to the other side

Where to my delight was a very nice, clean washroom.  Just what I needed to find at just the right time

I  can't be positive but it seems like this covered bridge has been restored as it looks very new

There's no one around so naturally I park and pose my bike for more photos

soon enough it was time to leave and make tracks toward Eugene, OR where I had planned to stay for the night

This year on my cross country tour, my tour guide V*star Lady took me to Hartland, New Brunswick on our way to Quebec City

I know, I may have posted these photos before

but the Hartland, NB  Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the world at 1,282 feet

and I'm setting the stage for the following video which was recorded on  July 31, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Between storms, Merrell's and VFF

It's been raining heavily the past few weeks but it was bound to stop . . .  sometime

    Sony NEX-5n  with 16mm prime

I had to do a few erands and found myself on Granville Island.   It's an early Saturday morning and nearly deserted

    Sony NEX-5n with 16mm prime

except for this little bird who was waiting to be fed.   They are used to human food .  There are many stores waiting for you to spend your hard earned money and this one was selling T-shirts of that famous Mayor in Toronto

   Canon T2i, with 18-250mm super zoom

 This day I decided to visit a shoe store

    Panasonic Lumix TS3

and saw a running shoe that looked dressy enough to wear at work.  It was a Merrell Barefoot Life Tour Glove, like  THESE    I've been buying Barefoot type sandals for a couple of years now and I think they are healthier for you.  Merrells make a larger toe box in their shoes to allow your toes to splay more than being all squished together.  They also have a zero rise design so you don't land on your heels like standard shoes

Since I was in shoe buying mode, I also went to another store where they had Vibram Five Fingers on sale.  This is the Treksport Five Fingers Glove VFF (for short)

    Panasonic Lumix  TS3

It took me a while to get these on as your toes don't go where they are supposed to.  These shoes fit like a glove so there is no room for socks

    Panasonic Lumix TS3

I managed to get these on and  What a Difference they make vs My Keens.   I had to try a few pairs on to get the right size but they are like a second skin and so comfortable that I didn't want to take them off.  These are probably the most comfortable shoe you may ever find

   Panasonic Lumix TS3

Walking in them is like walking barefoot, except that you aren't.  You just have to get used to people staring at you

Many years ago I bought a few pairs of toe socks.  You will love them in hot weather as I don't think your feet smell as much when you wear them.  These are all Cool Max type

so I put on a pair of these toe socks and changed into my Merrell Barefoot Life Tour Glove

I've been wearing them for a couple of days now and I must say that these are very comfortable.

Now you are able to experience the Barefoot experience all year around.  These shoes are very light and your toes are able to move and utilize muscles as nature intended.

I used to collect cameras.  I used to also buy & sell cameras and often purchased a table at the camera swap meet so I could buy and sell cameras.  It has been my hobby since high school and I like to keep pace with technology.   I used to joke with my buddies that even if I didn't have money for clothes, I always had money to buy cameras . . .

   Taken with my new Sony RX100M2

I wanted something that I could put in my pocket, yet still get a good photo

   Sony RX100M2               Shelter Island Marina, Fraser River, Richmond, BC

This camera has a 1" sensor, the largest of most P&S cameras that can fit in a pocket.  The video mode is amazing.   I like to shoot in Aperture priority mode and now I have full control over my settings.  It was an expensive weekend as I also bought the Fuji X-E2.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Snow Tire Crackdown in British Columbia

Vancouver is surrounded by Mountains and except for the Lower Mainland area of BC (and Southern Vancouver Island), during the winter months, namely from October 1st to April 30th every year there is a requirement on "most" of our highways to have Winter Tires installed  OR  carry chains

Here is a small section of a Map from the official Government website   (more info HERE)

Notice the Purple lines where winter tires are required.  On the news lately they have been discussing winter tires vs all season tires which most of the drivers use out here as we get very little snow as compared to other areas of our Country.  Here is an except from our Motor Vehicle Act

Now there has been an ongoing argument with the Province of BC, the various jurisdictions and the Motor Vehicle Department as to what tires are considered to be Winter Tires.   Our Motor Vehicle Department is under the wing of ICBC: The Insurance Corporation of BC and they say that as long as your tires are marked  "M & S"   for Mud and Snow then they are  considered to be Winter Tires.

The RCMP say that is not good enough and Winter tires must be stamped with the icicle mark, like this

BC is not motorcycle friendly and I noticed this thread on our local Sportbike forum where a group of riders were riding during the first week of October in bright 20°c sunshine and were stopped by the RCMP for not having snow tires installed on their motorcycles with tires marked with the icicle symbol.  They are not using discretion as to the conditions and are merely just looking at the calendar and upholding the letter of the Law.   Read more   HERE2

If you look at that first map again you will notice that DAR is stranded in Victoria as Hwy 1 is marked purple because as you ride north from Victoria you have to go over the Malahat Mountain.

I am confined to the Fraser Valley and cannot go farther East than Hope, BC because as you get close to Hope you have to go through Sumas Prairie, one of our worst snow areas where they have large accumulations of blowing snow and drifts.

I got to thinking that they don't really make snow tires marked with that icicle symbol so that means you wouldn't be able to ride a Hack either.   I also got to thinking that many times Spring weather comes early, much earlier than April 30th and many bikers dust off their bikes and ride up the Sea to Sky highway to Squamish when the weather turns, but with this crackdown you won't be able to ride up there until after May 1st.   All because of an arbitrary date without discretion to deviate because Winter is over.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shanghai, October, 2010: Street Scenes


I'm so far behind.  I still haven't wrapped up my trip this summer.  There are a few more things to say, people to thank, some statistics, thoughts about riding solo for so many miles and perhaps how much a trip like this would cost, similar to this for others contemplating a long multi-week trip across the country.  I am thankful for being hosted by some of you, some of whom I visited for a few hours and others for a few days.  My hosts went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and gave me a home away from home as you will see on future posts.

I have been working on a project for the past couple of weeks, finding tutorials on the internet and I even bought a book but it has been a frustrating experience trying to get things to work.   I read the words and I think I understand the steps but when I try them myself, it doesn't work.  The problem with self instruction is that you follow the steps exactly laid out, sort of like this

1) open the image (background layer)
2) duplicate layer (layer 0)
3) make new adj/fill layer . . .  etc.   I mean where is Steve Williams when you really need him ?

I'm still upset with the closure of Webshots, my former photo host.  My blog was supposed to be my Diary and something that I could look back upon to see where I had been, but all is now lost.  All I have are words with no images to remember the good times,  like our trip to China back in 2010 so from time to time I will post some "flashbacks" . . .  and most of these images would also be those I had never posted before

   Local neighbourhood "restaurant"

It was not easy to snap photos while walking around.  I had problems with people staring at me and some were actually shouting something that I did not understand and waving their hands, so I immediately went into stealth mode.  This meant that I had to cradle my big Canon dSLR in my elbow and snap photos without aiming so most of the locals didn't really know if I was taking their photo or not.   In retrospect I think a GoPro Hero would have been a better choice

Here's what I mean.   See how low my camera angle is, around waist level and he is staring me down not wanting me to snap his photo.  He is another food cart vendor.   You will find areas like this just around the corner from a 5-star hotel.  Cars would be a rarity in these neighbourhoods as you will see mostly electric scooters, bicycle or these 3 wheeled bicycle carts.  This is a poor area and most of these homes will NOT have running water

Lots of human powered carts delivering goods.  In the background you will see that most business is conducted in the streets.   The Vendors would have their wares on the sidewalk in front of where they live

Again,  it was difficult to raise my camera and snap an overhead shot so I can't remember what this vendor was selling.   Perhaps live fish.    You will see mostly live animals being sold.  Live fish, live chicken, live frogs and when you buy a fish, they will kill it in front of you and gut it so you have the freshest fish to take home.  Some will just take the live fish home in plastic bags filled with water and tied at the top

We were walking around before lunchtime so some vendors were still setting up their tables

Everything is done "on the street".  Those clothes in the left background may be for sale, or they may be laundry left outside, hanging to dry.  Those bicycle would be for the residents transportation.  There would be no hope for any of them to be able to have a car, or even afford a scooter

Notice the "sink" outside.  Probably COLD water only.  Most likely this would be the only sink for the residents living in the apartment accessed from that door on the left.   These sinks are found at recurring intervals up and down the street on both sides.   We have seen people brushing their teeth, washing their hair and doing laundry using these sinks

That store on the right is typical of most stores which only do ONE THING.  The owner would live in the back and have things for sale in front.  That looks like a window pane store

Another one of many bicycle vendors you will see on the street

There you see another one of those sinks.   Those people must live there but their living room is on the street.  That vendor has no table to display things for sale, so they use the road and put things for sale on top of a blanket or ground sheet

There is virtually no such thing as a grocery store here.  Fruit is displayed outside and different vendors will sell different fruit or vegetables.  We stick out like a sore thumb.  We get stares from everyone wondering why we are there.  These are areas which the Government wants to keep away from tourists.  There are no other tourists here, other than us.  We are only here because we decided to stay over another day after our tour ended, thus giving us more time to wander around by ourselves.    Our tour was sponsored by the People's Republic of China and our tour guide told us they were not allowed to take us to certain areas.  They were restricted to places where they wanted tourists to spend money

Here is a typical local neighbourhood "cafe".   Most of these places would have a limited selection of specialty items, or may only make just one thing.  You eat and walk as there are no places to sit down.  Oh almost forgot none of these places would have washrooms either.   There are communal washrooms on every block using those "Pit Type" toilets.   I can dig out photos if you want.  You even see these at the airport when you arrive.  Just make sure you use the hotel facilities before you leave for the day.  Western type hotels mostly have western standard fixtures

I can't remember but I think this guy is delivering LIVE chickens.  He is using a tricycle with a small motor

80-90% of scooters are electric, maybe more.  You will seldom see a gas powered scooter here.   They are trying to cut down on smog so have banned most of them.  You are not allowed to ride a scooter or motorcycle on a highway or over most bridges.   Notice the smog in the background.    You can barely see the building  (top of photo)

Typical household.  These people are lucky to have their own sink and not have to share with other residents.  It is usual to have your living room outside on the street and just watch the world pass by.

Can't be sure but it looks like they are playing some sort of game and having lunch in their outside "living room"

Relaxing and enjoying the summer sun with nothing better to do

It seems like he is trying to feed an animal under that basket.

That's it for now.  Just some street scenes from a poor part of Shangahi under the shadow of our 5-star hotel.  Our hotel was 5-star western standard.  We had marble entrance, marble washrooms, flat screen TV, electric curtains. The locals are not allowed inside of our hotel and we as westerners are not allowed inside a Chinese Standard hotel either.   Streets are very clean as the Government pays people to sweep them up as there is no such thing as welfare.  You can spot these people as they are always wearing BLUE clothes and ride around on a standard issue CART and carrying straw type brooms.

I have more photos if you are interested . . .