Monday, December 29, 2014

The new camera

The bad news is I dropped my Lumix just before Christmas and the zoom function was ruined. At a cost of $160, the repair wasn't worth it.  The good news is that my sweetie got me a new camera for Christmas.  It's smaller and less of a photographer's camera but I think it will serve well for our upcoming trip.

The Sony DSC-WX350 is a point-and-shoot model but it has some intriguing capabilities. Here's a sampling.

First, three different takes on the Amaryllis flower. The first with the regular lighting, the second with what is called soft focus, high key, and the third in monochrome with high contrast.  Quite different effects.

Now we get really wild with posterization, high contrast and pop effects:

Then, just for contrast, this is with what's called a retro effect.

Of course all of these effects can be achieved with photoshop or another photo editing program. But I've never really gone deeply into these so it's fun to be able to do it with a camera setting.

 These photos are taken with a setting that allows only one colour through. This is with the partial colour yellow

The next is with the partial colour blue (showing only the teapot)...

And of course, the partial colour red.  All very interesting effects, I think, although you would want to be careful not to overuse them.

Here are a few different shots of the same view with different settings. Can you see why I am excited about the creative possibilities?  

Now that I have this exciting new toy I can hardly wait to do some experimenting when we get to Mazatlan. We leave Victoria on New Year's Day for Vancouver and fly out the following morning.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas is now in the past

Christmas dinner with friends and family.

What could be better than gathering around a festive table with loved ones to enjoy a feast? We had a wonderfully fun time celebrating. The only drawback was that my sister Jan wasn't feeling well enough to come.  Maybe next year.

Our Christmas season ended that night though. On the 26th we took our tree down and chopped it up and put all the decorations away.  We are now in serious departure mode for our two month get-away to Mexico.  We will be leaving on New Years Day and will spend two months in the balmy warmth of Mazatlan. Today we're getting travel insurance, cleaning the oven, beginning to pack and sorting out all the details involved with being away for 8 weeks.

Now I'm beginning to get excited. It started when I pulled out the summer clothes and realized that it will be 80 degrees instead of 34. We are leaving Geordie the dog at home with Carol, a friend from Massechusets, who is coming to enjoy our balmy weather. It's all relative!  

I'm thinking that I'll be inspired to do a bit more blogging in the new year with the tropical experience. So keep in touch. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

A new author

Don't you just love it when you discover a wonderful new author?   My new discovery is Amy Bloom, an American writer of poignant, funny books that are both tough and tender. She has an amazing literary voice that brings her characters to life.

I first read "Where the God of Love Hangs Out," a collection of connected short stories set in the present time. Then I read "Away," a tale of a plucky woman who lived in the late 1800s in America. The latest read may be my favourite to date. It's called "Lucky Us" and is the tale of a young girl's coming of age in America in the 1940s.

All I can say is this: If you haven't read anything by Amy Bloom, run don't walk to your nearest library or bookstore and get one. I think you won't be disappointed.

Thankfully there are still several books by this author that I have yet to read.

Two different artists in one day

The other day I got to see some new paintings by two artists who are a big part of my life: Ben Fox and Bill Porteous. They paint very differently; Ben is a landscape painter and Bill does abstracts. But they are both exceptional painters whose work is to my mind just gorgeous.

First, look at Ben's work. He spent the summer and fall up in Haida Gwaii and came back with some beautiful work that captures the serene beauty of these islands off the north coast of BC.

This is Ben standing in front of two paintings of the deep woods. You can see they're quite large paintings and they really reflect the sense of the west coast landscape. I visited the North Island in the early '70s and seeing these paintings was like being transported back to that magical place.

We got to visit his studio (the living room of his apartment) where he had a showing and sold three paintings in one day. Congratulations Ben.

The same evening we attended the opening of Bill's annual show. Bill has been doing abstract paintings for forty years and is quite well known in Victoria. He is also the mentor to those of us in the Wednesday Art Group.  He doesn't bring his paintings to our group so I hadn't seen these works before.  These first three are smaller works 16 inches wide.  

And this one is larger about two by three feet.

Bill's work uses colour in a really gorgeous way. Looking at his paintings makes me want to run back home and start painting. (Although I won't be able to do that until we get back from Mexico in March).

Can you see why I like these paintings so much?

If I'd had time I would have done a separate post for each of these painters because their work is quite different.  But Christmas approaches and I'm not finding much time to blog.  On December 26th we will go into serious departure mode, packing and organizing our house for the dog and house sitter who is arriving on December 30th.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December in the city

We love living so close to the city centre. Tonight before dinner we walked up to a little wine bar and restaurant about three blocks from our house to have a glass of wine before dinner.  I had the most delicious white wine, although I can't remember the name of it. It had hints of pink grapefruit! Here are a couple of views of Stages. It's a fun and happening place--and so close to our house.

By the way, they are looking for abstract paintings for their walls so when we get back from our trip to Mexico in January and February I'll be trotting some of my canvases over there to see if they're interested.

Here's the view of our front porch across the street to the family apartment building.  The kids who live there are starting to get excited about Santa Claus.  How fun is that!