The picture revolution

October 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm (Photos) (, )

There’s this company in California called Lytro that has developed the world’s first light field camera. I still haven’t fully grasped the technology, but what it boils down to is that pictures can be taken and the subject can be focused later. Rather than having a focal point, the camera captures all of the light rays (11 million of them) so the photographer can decide what they want to be in focus after the fact, and change their minds even later than that.

It’s pretty crazy … slash amazing. Don’t take my word for it, go here and check out what they call living pictures.

The Lytro camera

The first camera was unveiled last week, as a regular subscriber to Lytro news, I checked it out. And began drooling. I managed to convince my sister, who happens to live in the U.S., to be my shipping station, since they aren’t sending these guys to Canada just yet. So tonight, I put in my order. I should have a graphite 8gb Lytro in my hand by next March.

I’m seriously excited.

The weather has thwarted plans for a couple of photo shoots this fall, but I have done two family sittings and I have a wedding coming up in less than two weeks. I finally managed to complete a contract, something I probably should have done quite some time ago. So … my photography is going somewhere. The progress is slow, which is fine with me considering I have about a zillion other commitments as well.

But I think the Lytro will re-ignite my passion for photography, for capturing moments and taking home a still frame of life. I don’t think it’s the be-all, end-all, and it will never replace my beloved Nikon. However, thanks to the focus-later technology, it will be easier than ever to snap the shutter without missing a thing.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


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West coast vacation

September 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm (Photos, Travel)

I’m in British Columbia. On vacation. Hanging with my sister Karen, my brother, his wife, their 1.5-year-old son Silas, and their yet-to-be-born second child. It’s good times.

So far, we’ve trekked over to Vancouver Island for a jaunt around Victoria and surrounding areas, visited the Greater Vancouver Zoo, renovated an office, wandered through Fort Langley, painted pottery, shopped, and walked around the neighbourhood of Walnut Grove. I also ventured out on my own to catch up with a few dear friends who now call this city their home. Here’s some photos of my adventures in the last week.

Silas at Crescent Beach

Yeah.... the ferry ride was windy.

The siblings

Statue of Queen Victoria outside the provincial legislature

Side note: I am pretty sure visiting all of the provincial and territorial legislatures should be on my bucket list. Three down (PEI, Northwest Territories and BC), ten to go.

A giraffe at the zoo

A peregrine falcon - the fastest animal on earth.

This is the epic cake Shannon and I made for Karen's 18th birthday.

Silas and his sweet hairdo.

I seriously love Vancouver. The mountains, the ocean, the city lights … so much diversity, so much beautiful scenery, so much still to explore. I think that I could probably live here quite happily.

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U2, check

July 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm (Entertainment, Photos, To do before I die) ()

32. See U2 in concert

Wow. There are not enough adjectives to describe the display I saw last night at Montreal’s Hippodrome. It wasn’t just a concert, it was a full-out production of light, sound, and images.

It takes three days to set up this thing.

I went to the U2 show with my brother, sister and brother-in-law. We arrived around 4 p.m., a little intimidated by the massive amounts of people ahead of us, but we managed to stake out a spot only about five feet from the fence.

Ryan, Chris, Lisa and I ... and thousands of other people

It was crazy to see 75,000 people gather to hear four guys play music. We waited hours before they made an appearance … our feet were sore, we were drenched in a rainstorm after, we didn’t get home until 2 a.m. And it was all completely worth it. I have a couple video clips, though I apologize for the audio quality. No photos or film could capture that experience anyway …

Rocking out ...

My favourite song was Beautiful Day, mostly because it was introduced by Mark Kelly … from the International Space Station. He recorded a greeting during his recent mission on the Endeavour, then put cut-out words into the air that finished with “It’s a beautiful day.” He also recited some of the lyrics as Bono sang them out. It was so neat, especially for me because I followed that mission so closely. It was many additions to the set list that encouraged global citizenship and social justice.


There was always something going on … if it wasn’t music, it was images on the giant screen, lights and smoke, or moving stage pieces. City of Blinding Lights showcased it all to the max.

I only have a few complaints: the band didn’t play Magnificent, the security guy tossed my aluminum water bottle without so much as an explanation, and the dude beside me kept smoking pot … not cool, man.

But seriously, it was an incredible show and overall experience – one I’m thrilled to be able to check off my life to-do list. And with that, I’ve officially completed a quarter of the 100 items on that bucket list.

Bono on the big screen ... and me. My voice was shot the next day from all the screaming I did ...

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Royalty, check

July 8, 2011 at 7:01 am (Photos, To do before I die) ()

37. See Queen Elizabeth or a member of the Royal family

I was on Parliament Hill for Canada Day last week. So were William and Kate, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or the Prince and his wife. I totally saw them.

I wasn’t exactly close – to shake their hands I would have to be there at like 6 a.m. – but I caught glimpses as they walked the Hill for the ceremony, then returned to the road to enter their car, then drive by on Wellington Street as adoring fans cheered and waved.

Look for the white dress and red hat ...

The departure of the Royals

Yes, I’m fully aware my photos are terrible. I’m short okay, and have to shoot over everyone else’s heads … it doesn’t always work out.

It was great to have Will and Kate in Canada. I was so pumped that their first trip as a married couple would be to our great nation. They are definitely taking advantage of the opportunity to revitalize the monarchy: they’re making changes to help it become more relevant while still bringing the pomp and ceremony we love about royalty.

But I’m not going to lie, I still want to meet the Queen . . .

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Recap: Cuba (part two)

June 9, 2011 at 8:40 am (Photos, Travel)

As promised, here are some photos and video from my week in Cuba last month. It was a phenomenal trip – you can read details here.

The beach area outside the hotel in Varadero.

The view from my room at the camp - the church is the main building in the centre.

The crew from Mexico that I was with, and the national youth pastor from Cuba (with his wife and son, centre).

The view from the church balcony - hundreds of young people rocking out for Jesus.

Here’s a video of pieces of a few services … and even that doesn’t do it justice. You have to be in that room to truly understand the experience.

Enthusiastic, excited, charismatic, joyful, passionate – just a few of the adjectives I could use to describe these young people.

Our group in Havana, our last night in Cuba.

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Recap: Cuba (part one)

May 31, 2011 at 8:06 am (Ministry, Photos, Travel)

In case you thought I fell off the face of the earth last week … well, I sort of did.

I flew into Havana, Cuba, on Monday, May 23. After about a half hour of waiting around in the airport baggage claim, I found the Mexican group I would be traveling with for the week. The troupe included Pastor Eric Jaquith and his wife Ida, one of their interns Edika and her mom, and two young people from their church. We hopped on a bus and drove a few hours to Varadero – a gorgeous peninsula about 30 kilometres long, sandy shores on both sides. After a couple of nights there I am officially a big fan of all-inclusive resorts. The beach was beautiful, the ocean clear and salty as it should be, the sand white, the sun hot.

We only really had a day to enjoy it though and do some exploring of the city. On Wednesday a group of 11 of us piled into a ridiculously old Toyota van, along with all of our luggage, and drove roughly five hours to Santa Clara, which is in the middle of the island country.

We spent the rest of the week at a Methodist camp called Canaan, basically going to church all day long; it was awesome. About 800 young people between the ages of 12 and 35 were there, soaking up everything the visiting pastors had to say. It was far from a five-star resort – we had to chase frogs out of our room and the shower was a cold trickle. But I absolutely loved it. I was able to meet so many people, and – thanks to my ever-improving Spanish – have some great conversations, learn a ton about the country, hear some powerful sermons and generally fall in love with Cuba.

On Saturday we headed back to Havana, but not before we prayed and cried with the pastors. We left a pile of our clothes behind and donated probably a year’s salary to the main youth leader / conference organizer.

With only a few hours left until our flights would wing us home, our group toured around the capital city and had dinner before collapsing into bed. I spent most of Sunday coming home … reluctantly. I feel like I was gone far longer than a week. So much happened … my life was impacted immensely. Photos and video will be coming soon – they will be able to provide far more than my words.

Needless to say, God is flippin’ awesome. And he’s doing some pretty incredible things on an impoverished and communist island called Cuba.

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Road trip recap

February 26, 2011 at 10:11 am (Photos, Travel)

Newcastle. Durham. Three Rivers. Hammond. Chicago.

I had a marvelous time. Long talks about birth, death and everything in between. People watching. Photo shoots. Games and movies. Snowstorms and warm spells. Window shopping. Souvlaki and deep-dish pizza. Dancing.

I crossed three state lines and one international border. I drove roughly 2,700 kilometers, filling up my gas tank five times.

My favourite day was Tuesday, when Amy and I took Isaiah to the SkyDeck in Chicago’s Willis Tower. It was fantastic! The glass floors were pretty cool – standing directly 130 feet above the streets of the Windy City. We took hundreds of pictures, of course.

Good times. I can’t wait for my next adventure …

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September 18, 2010 at 10:47 am (Photos, Random)

I have a car. It’s amazing.

My sister shipped me her Toyota Echo, and a couple of weeks ago I finally got all the ownership and insurance changed over to my name.

Changing the license plates ...

A set of wheels is freedom. I’ve been up to Ottawa nearly once a week in the last two months, something I would never have been to do without my own vehicle. I can’t wait for my first road trip in the Echo … hopefully to western Ontario and into Chicago? The options are endless.

I love my Echo.

My freedom.

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Oh, Canada

June 3, 2010 at 10:44 am (Photos, Travel)

It was a quick, whirlwind of a trip, but I was in Ontario for about four days over the weekend. It was fabulous! I was a bridesmaid in my beautiful cousin’s wedding (pictures coming to my photography blog soon) and then spent a couple days with my family. Here’s a few photos to show what I did with my time.

I drove a car! It had been over nine months, but it felt totally natural to be back behind the wheel.

I ate lasagna! It was one of the foods I missed most in Colombia.

I met my nephew!! Tayte is SO adorable.

I played Settlers - I even won a game of Seafarers.

Tim Hortons. Enough said.

I also ate some delicious barbecue, hung out with my other nephew and niece that live nearby, and generally had good times with family.

I am now back in Colombia and back to work teaching. We have exactly two weeks minus one day left of school before presentations and graduation. I take off on July 3, and will be back in Canada to stay.

I didn’t have time to see too many people outside my family when I was home over the weekend, so I can’t wait to make some trips to Ottawa and Massena to visit everyone.

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Lago Calima

May 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm (Colombia, Photos)

On Saturday – which was Labour Day down here in Colombia – I was invited to accompany the Vasquez family to a resort on Lake Calima. It was great, except that I got the worst sunburn of life; somehow I keep forgetting that I’m near the equator. Here’s some photos of our adventures.

Gorgeous, eh?

Laura enjoying the waterslide.

My Colombian family: Alejandro, Orlando, Mery, Laura and I

Alejo, Jacob, Laura and I - notice the difference in skin tone?

Jumping pictures are the best. Alejandro and Jacob.

I also have new pictures up on my photography blog of my first wedding shoot. Check it out.

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