Aug 21 2017

The Toronto 2017 Eclipse

We weren’t in the path of “totality” and as tempting as it was to go on a road trip to get on that path I am happy to be home for a week. So I took some photos from a school yard close to home.

It felt like a good idea so I went with it. And I’m glad I did, it was a delight to hang out with locals in a local school yard. And thanks to a CBC Metro Morning interview I learned about a telescope shop that still had certified solar glasses and more!

Last Minute Decisions

I sat of the fence about the eclipse for a long time… I couldn’t decide if I could fit it into my schedule and so I didn’t make plans. Including not getting things like protective glasses or the camera gear needed to photograph an event like this. So when I finally decided yesterday that I would like to test myself by seeing what I could capture I knew I was on my heels… (that’s the back part of my feet btw, contrary to The Donald who seems to think that’s how we get better). And then a few things fell in place and I found the tools I needed for this! All thanks to some local radio and a shop that wasn’t Amazon.

Sharing the Wealth

When I found the lens filter I knew I didn’t need glasses but I bought them anyhow thinking I would want them a little and perhaps in the future. Then I had to decide where I wanted to go and in the end I packed my camera bag and walked over to nearby Maurice Cody Public School. There were a couple of people there. One pair of binoculars to project on a paper screen and a few shoe-box pin-hole cameras. I’ll just say this: the glasses got put to good use! As the maximum coverage approached there were a few families (a dozen people or so?) enjoying all the different ways we had available to watch the eclipse the right way.

And the view of my camera screen was definitely a popular one. As were the glasses.

The Eclipse

It lasts a while and without totality the effect was significantly less. It was still very noticeable with the sky dimming (Toronto had about 75% coverage) and the temperatures dropping noticeably.

I was using my 150-600 Sigma Sport with a Canon 1.4 Extender ii on my 7D mkiii body for about 1300mm reach. All of these photos are as shot… no cropping and no adjustments of any kind as I wanted to give the equipment a good test. Let me know what you think!

So without any more words, here are a few photos I took! Look for a video to follow tomorrow…

Aug 21 2017

The Marinoni Hour

I have a couple of updates so I’ll make this a quick one and then move on to the next…

This past weekend was a track hour record attempt by Giuseppe Marinoni (marinonimovie.com) in the Masters 80-84 Y/O Best Hour category. The lead-up and build up were huge. He set the 75-79 record 5 years ago and that part of the theme in the documentary. And the effort to follow up with the record in his new category was significantly harder as the record was almost 5km/hr faster. Think about that for a minute… 5 years older you have to go even faster.

Anyhow… this is a gallery of photos from the event! If you haven’t read about it then I won’t be the spoiler.

 

The Kraiker.Photography gallery for Marinoni Hour Attempt

Aug 07 2017

2017 MSA UCI MTB Photos

I’m sitting in the empty media center here at Mont-Sainte-Anne wrapping up my weekend and about to go ride the trails before I leave. Not before adding some photos from the weekend… hope you like them!

DHI Photos

XCO Action

Jul 25 2017

A New Tool in the Camera Bag

(WARNING: camera gear geek-out. You’ve been warned)

I’ll skip over saying how long it’s been since I last wrote a blog entry! People who are able to do weekly updates amaze me. It’s a labour of love although not getting to a post doesn’t mean the love isn’t there. Anyhow… ‘nuf said.

New Lens

I’ve had a Canon 300mm L series lens for years. And I stopped carrying it around as it’s not really the right tool for what I think I am trying to capture. Perhaps it’s because I got very comfortable using the f2.8 70-200 L series that’s my go-to lens. For whatever reason I stopped using it. I’ve been more inclined to bring along a 1.4 extender (the second edition, not the newest iii) and have found that pretty good for finish line shots. Plus it’s easy to bring along, weighs very little and fits anywhere.

Finish

Charge to the line

Still… I didn’t feel like I was getting what I wanted from that position. I’ve struggled with what it means to get a finish line shot for years too; if you’ve seen photos of me in the “pen” where photographers are allowed and what it takes to get a good spot in there you know it’s a bunch of people with big lenses all taking the same shot. So I’ve been trying to get something unique and decided to try changing the tools I have at hand for that.

So I bought a new lens.

Going Long

In place of the 70-200 with extender and the 300 L I don’t bring, I added a heavy-weight. I considered 3 different lenses to address what I hope to accomplish:

  • Canon 100-400 L f4.5-5.6 IS USM
  • Sigma 150-600 f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport
  • Tamron SP AF 150-600 f5-6.3 G2

I’m looking for images that will probably need something around 500mm to capture and so I decided at least 400mm on a body with an APS-C sensor (1.6x crop factor) should put me in the right range. So far they all fit. Weatherproofing is another factor I take seriously having had gear fail during a race because of the conditions. That ruled out the Tamron for me. I also wasn’t impressed by reviews that talked about failures unrelated to crappy weather… I need it to be reliable without question or worry.

Weight is another factor… big lenses get heavy quickly! I will never forget carrying the Canon 400 f2.8 L lens I rented from the Vistek location to the opening ceremonies of the 2015 PanAm games. I should have taken a cab! That was a tick in favour of the Canon 100-400 as it’s significantly lighter than the Sigma S. The slightly faster aperture was another plus for that lens. F4.5 beats f5 🙂

In the end I decided to go with the extra reach the Sigma gave me though… with the 7D sensor the 600 is closer to 900mm. And with the 1.4 extender I have it gets me well over 1000!

Both lenses are fast and have lots of great features. Only time will tell if I made the right choice (for me, there’s never one right answer when creativity is involved).

Here are a few shots in a controlled space to see what the Sigma looks like…

May 22 2017

A Road Race and a Night of Camping

It’s funny. I’m done my IT contract now (it finished a week ago) and I’m still too busy to have time to write about the adventures on Sark and Normandy/Brittany. Hopefully I will find the time soon, there are lots of tales to tell. It was a good trip.

Back on The Road

Before we left I brought Babe to Volker for some small tweaks and a little warranty work. The 2016 camping season was a great shakedown and gave me enough time to go over the full system. It was a short list of things for him to look at and we were both sure it would get done before my first camp out. And it was.

This past weekend (a long weekend here… “May 2 4” or Victoria Day) was my first planned trip and it included both a bike race and a visit with some VW friends. It worked out well. First a photo of Babe’s new cousin though. One of Volker’s clients decided they wanted an orange Westy. So there’s a second camper clad in Matador Orange. You’ll notice a major difference between these two though. And I’m very happy with my decision to paint the top white. I wonder if they’ll ever meet out on the road.

Two buses clad in the same paint

Two buses clad in the same paint

The Steve Bauer Classic

I spent Friday getting all of Babe’s contents back in… stocking towels, putting dishes and cutlery back in, dish towels, flashlights, and all the things that came out for winter storage. Then I loaded up my camera gear on Saturday and headed out to the race.

This race is definitely one of the hard ones on the local calendar. It has one climb up the Effingham hill that starts with a long false flat and then hits the riders with a tough 500 meters of climbing on each lap. It also features a Queen and King of the Mountain category for the elite races. Winning the race doesn’t guarantee winning the other and both are fought-for prizes.

Here’s a small galley of the elite women plus junior and elite men. There are some photos on PedalMag.com as well.

You can find my larger gallery at http://www.kraiker.photography/Bicycle-Races/2017/SB-Classic/

Camping at Brandywine

After the race I hopped back into Babe and headed west. Some friends in the VW camper family are moving to Victoria to be close to their daughter and grand children. Jay and Jaye are great folks and we’ll certainly miss seeing them around these parts. And being the great folks they are they decided to host a farewell to their place in Appin (good luck finding that on a map!). Brandywine has been their home for something like a dozen years and has Jay’s private airstrip, a couple of hangers with two planes and a lovely garden. The hope was that the long weekend would be good enough for people to fly in and bus in, with campfires in the evenings. A good plan that the weather didn’t want to co-operate with.

We were three campers strong (including J & J’s Eurovan) and only one early-bird who managed to fly in early Saturday before the clouds and rain rolled in. So we dined with shelter and sat around various tables talking about a myriad of topics. Quite a variety as Jaye brought out some bottles of whiskey she didn’t want to have to pack 🙂

I didn’t take many photos but have these to offer…

There will be more camping and more bike races to come. We’ll see if I’m able to get caught up with my writing before then.

Apr 30 2017

The Victoria and Albert Museum

A Facebook comment from a friend welcoming us back and playfully asking for more photos from the V&A prompted me to put a gallery together. I’m publishing it here rather than only on FB. I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and this is a good reminder that I should be paying a little more attention to it. Hopefully I’ll get around to publishing some galleries of photos from other parts of the trip, Time will tell.

I’ll post one photo as a teaser, the Dark Sky Sanctuary designation for the Isle of Sark was the initial idea behind the trip. Here’s what we found…

Coupée

The starry sky of Sark as seen from the foot of the Coupée

The V&A Museum gallery

Sark was the first part of the trip and merits a proper telling. So does the second which was a week of roaming in Brittany and Normandy in a VW high-top camper. The last part of the trip was in London. Despite only being three days long, we were able to pack a lot into it. And the highlight for Andrea was going to the Victoria and Albert museum. A bucket-list item we’ve now checked off. So I’ll just put the gallery up here and let the images and captions tell part of the tale of our visit.

Feb 01 2017

Another Cover

I’ve been working at this photographic next chapter for over 8 years now and I measure it by time invested and treasures uncovered. Getting a magazine cover is certainly something to be treasured. And with the latest issue of Pedal Magazine I now have my 4th cover. One was for a trade show magazine, the other three have been for Pedal. And each is unique…

 

#1 – 2012

The first went along with a major article about doping and the state of cycling in Canada. This was a long and involved combination of photographic and written journalism. 2012, midway into this adventure. It was put together through a couple of Skype interviews with Michael and supplemented with assorted photos (some mine and some from others).

Doping hits Canadian Cycling

 

#2 – 2015

The next was to celebrate how significant the organizers behind the Mont-Sainte-Anne MTB events are in the grand scheme of mountain bike racing. The cover features Marie-Helene Premont and again there was a significant written piece… this time about how MSA is the last venue from the originals and is the only one to celebrate 25 years (now heading to 27!).

MSA cover featuring Marie-Helene Premont

I also did a video for the 25th anniversary… the interviews are from 2014 so it was a year in the making. The video features a few athletes but the story is really told through Patrice & Chantal.

 

 

#3 – 2016

And the latest is a product shot… it’s been years since I’ve done staged photos and I’ll admit I prefer event photography. No written content from me this time, I’ll have to make a point of getting back into writing.

Still.. it was a fun change of pace and I enjoyed the challenge. And hanging out with Tim for an afternoon was a treat… we’ve known each other casually since 2004 so it was nice to have time to get caught up.

Tim and the S3 Disc

 

Dec 31 2016

A Sonos sound system upgrade

In 1990 I bought a nice Denon stereo system with B&W speakers from Bay-Bloor Radio. It was my first serious investment in a sound system and I quite enjoyed it for many years.Some time in early 2001 the speakers told me they were getting tired and the amp was getting a little noisy. Plus it was a big system so it ended up in the basement, not ideal for enjoying music upstairs. For a while it got re-purposed to augment the TV as an early home theater setup.

In 2001 I got a new setup for the living-room with a stack of compact Teac & Yamaha components and Mission speakers. Again… nice rich sound highlighted by the crisp sounding bookshelf speakers. Some time back the CD changer decided to give up the ghost. This wasn’t really a big deal as by now we had adopted iTunes and were using various portable devices to stream music. And as the Internet continued to evolve and home networking became more integrated we got into some Bluetooth speakers and streaming Internet radio from these various devices. And at some point I realized we seldom used the stereo other than to play local radio. And I realized that the little Bluetooth speaker, while convenient, we really weren’t satisfied compared to the previous two systems.Perhaps I should say I wasn’t satisfied. I believe Andrea would have been happy to keep it the way it was. Not me though…

And so I began musing about getting something to integrate the streaming we do with the sound quality I look for; something Andrea picked up on.

So she went back to Bay-Bloor Radio and asked what they would recommend. And for Christmas there was this cute little white box with the name Sonos on it. It’s meant to connect all the streaming devices to the stereo and take advantage of the sound quality it delivers by using a wifi connection to the audio sources and connecting via a line in to the stereo. And it worked great for that!

Looking at their full line of products I started imagining extending the sound to other rooms. Starting with the kitchen. Andrea uses the small Bluetooth speaker when she;s cooking or baking so she doesn’t have to turn up the stereo. So I decided to add a wifi Sonos Play:3 speaker to the mix and be able to move the music or talk radio from room to room.

This presented a challenge though… it sounded ok as long as the audio source was coming from the Sonos Connect. If the stereo was the source and being fed into the Sonos the output was out of sync between the wired and wireless speakers. There are some ways to reduce the gap but I couldn’t eliminate it so after doing some more reading I decided to flip the model. The Connect got replaced with a Connect:Amp so it was the driver for all of the output. The big difference between the two devices is where the analog speakers get connected. Once the wired speakers were controlled by the Sonos amp everything synced up perfectly.

Connect:Amp

Sonos Connect:Amp on top of the 2001 Teac Amplifier

Play:3

Sonos Play:3 speaker, wall mounted

You can probably guess where this goes…

Once I had that all working I decided my office could use some better speakers. So I added two of the smaller Play:1 speakers and configured them to be left & right channels. And then one last Play:1 to sit next to the bed. It’s configured as an alarm clock 🙂

Play:1

Beside alarm & evening/morning entertainment

Play:1

Two Sonos Play:1 sit on top of my desk-side cabinets

All in all… I’m very pleased with the setup. And three stereos in 26 years isn’t bad!

 

Oct 31 2016

CXTO

Cyclocross racing in Toronto got a big boost with the recent CXTO event in Christie Pits Park this past Saturday. And it was a fun event to cover. Lots of people I know were there, a good turnout of racers and good crowds.

I haven’t finished processing my photos yet, in part because there was another race on Sunday. And in part because I had an unexpected request to provide some photos for this article on the CBC.CA website.

Oct 24 2016

Colorado wrap-up

Well! September 25th to October 15th was a home to Fruita Colorado and back trip. What a trip it was! Let me wrap this up in a summary entry.

  • 4,149 miles (6677 km) for a 2016 total of 9,022 miles (14,520 km)
  • 741 miles was the longest single day of driving according to my RoadTrip app (650 was my earlier estimate)
  • 10 states and 1 province
  • 14 nights camping and 5 nights in a motel
  • 671 L of diesel (177 US gallons) with a 23.5 MPG average

Previous blog posts cover the getting there and the bike riding while there. What an amazing place to be, I already long for being back there and Andrea does too. So wrapping this trip up I have to say that spending most of the time camped in Babe was perfect. She never let us down. The nights in motels were a bonus and I think for the most part they were optional. Staying longer, even heading further south to do more riding would have been awesome. Could’a should’a? No going back though, it would have required better planning on my part. And things like full campgrounds at the end of September wasn’t something I expected. Now I know better.

Leaving Fruita

I don’t think Andrea and I talked much about this moment but it was the end of our time riding in CO. Something we’d been planning for a long time and something that was ending too soon. It arrived and there was no turning back so we loaded up Babe, headed out of town and steadily uphill. The climb led us from Fruita at 4500 feet to Vail and over that pass at 10,662 feet, then down to Siverthorne/Dillon/Frisco (9,000 feet) for our overnight stop. We had a late lunch in Frisco with a stop at Rocky Mountain Roasters to stock up on coffee beans.

The weather was changing as we left and while we didn’t get snowed on the was certainly freshsnow up in the mountains. Our days were still warm enough for t-shirts but the nip of winter was there.

Boulder

After a night in a Dillon motel we went up over the Loveland pass (11,990 feet) and then took secondary roads down through the mountains until they were behind us and the high plains were in front. The distinctive Flatiron foothills were all that remained of the majestic Rockies once we got to Boulder (elevation 5,400 feet). Babe was happy to be done with mountain passes for this trip though 🙂

We spent the day wandering around historic downtown Boulder enjoying the pedestrian shopping area and some of the fascinating architecture. And then a delicious dinner at the Leaf restaurant that was 100% vegetarian. Our plan was for a late(ish) dinner and then head to Denver for our last night before Andrea flew home. I thought we should eat a little earlier because I wasn’t keen on driving in the dark and we agreed to an earlier meal since we’d also be able to watch some of the “presidential” debate (neither a true debate nor very presidential!). Dinner was good though. And the “debate” didn’t take away from that 🙂

On a side note… every town we were in that had a bike shop got a stop from us with me looking for the perfect hydration backpack. Not too big, not too small, room and secure places for all the things I like to bring. That included Boulder. And I’m home without one. I’ll have to look for sales over the off season.

CO to ON

The next morning was one neither Andrea or I was looking forward to. It all went smoothly though. Andrea got to the airport with time to enjoy the lounge. Babe navigated her way eastward and was happy to be getting to lower elevations. And I know we both wished it would have been longer… a good sign that it was a great trip.

I missed my chance to get some wifi before Andrea took off and my route had me in remote places for the next day plus so we were on our separate ways back home. Let’s just say mine was a little slower so it took a little longer. A few days longer. Like the trip out though it was filled with amazing scenery and I very much enjoyed it. I camped in an abandoned campground, next to a couple or lakes, had to use my bug netting for the first time, and enjoyed a final few campfires. I hiked and biked a little. Even took out my u-bass. A little.

I was pressed for time to get to Denver to make sure I was there when Andrea arrived. The return trip wasn’t the same though so I kept my driving time to shorter chunks and avoided major highways until I got close to Canada. And then it a border crossing and a few final hours until we were all home.

It only took me a little over a week to wrap up this trip report… not too bad since there were so many adventures along the way. And now I’m back into my “winter” mode getting Babe ready for hibernation and looking into some IT consulting. And covering bike races… the Vaughan Cyclocross Classic was yesterday.

I’m back.

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