lions in montreal (video)

Shot this video on a trip to Montreal.


I am in Montréal for Le Congrès des Sciences Humaines and L'Association canadienne pour la formation en travail social conference. Nice city - could easily live here - although I would have to brush up my French.

DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G VRII

Yes another test! This time an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G ED VRII. And yes I once had the older version of this lens too, but I got a very good offer for it some 6-months ago, so I let it go with an eye to upgrading to the new one. The upgrade has many benefits over the old lens but mostly the addition of a lens lock so that it does not slide out to the fully extended zoom position when carrying the camera on a strap with the lens in a pointed down position. I kept putting off getting the new model though, the image quality is no match for the 17-55 and 70-200 lenses I have that are f2.8s, but I was missing the convenience of this lens so I finally gave in. Very light and with an incredible range - you will not get the best quality shots from this lens - but you will get the shots!

So far the testing indicated the lens is a good copy. Images are a little softer than I hoped, you can see that in todays shot over yesterdays, but maybe the slow shutter speed on this one is a factor, or maybe I have simply been spoiled by the sharpness of the professional f/2.8 lenses I have been using. Exposure is off too. But once I get a change I will do some more extensive testing and give you verdicts.

NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II

If you visit often you know what this shot means - something new to test - this time a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR II lens. I know what you are thinking, "didn't he have the VRI version of this same lens?" Well yes, but Nikon gear holds its price so I was able to sell it to trade up to this new model. The new model has few benefits over the older one on my D300s cropped sensor, but considerable benefits on the Nikon full-frame DSLSs. In a few years I will probably be using full-frame, so now seemed like a good time to trade up while the older one was retaining a price that made selling it viable.

I have not had much of a chance to test this new one yet but so far it seems good. This shot is a little off in terms of exposure and has some blown out highlights, but it was a quick shot taken in JPEG so the exposure it is a photographer issue not a lens issue, I hope.


The building where I used to work at the University of Victoria - such a brilliant place to work!

movie time

This is not one of my photos - it is one of Daniel's from China - but I like it so I have posted it. These are local kids who came to his and Plum's apartment, he put a kids movie on his laptop for them to watch.

Of course missing is Nicole. For those of you who donated to the memorial fund, thank you. It was gratefully received by the family.

I am off to China again soon but the place will not be the same without her, but everyone is left with fond memories of her, and that is the way she will be always remembered.

context and mind

If this was a Toronto backstreet it would be vandalism. If it were a gallery in the Tate it would be art. So much depends on context. I saw art, even though it was a Toronto backstreet. The men watching me taking this photo in the rain saw a crazy person. So much depends on our minds.

chinatown bike

No picture yesterday because I was recovering from the flu - but today I much stronger - soon strong enough to ride bike!

another portrait

I have been home with the flu for a couple of days - so no new pictures - but here is a portrait froma few weeks ago.

cuban portrait

So I was walking past this bar in Cuba and liked the scene so much that I indicated to this girl, by pointing to my camera, that I would like to take a picture. She smiled back nodding and then took this very natural pose that fitted nicely into the scene. Any kudos for this shot have to go to the model, not the photographer.


This in the Imperial Roman Senate which is quite small really, I thought it would have been bigger. There were a few buildings that housed the Roman Senate before this one, this one is the third and was started by Julius Caesar in 44BCE, and finished by Augustus in 29BCE. Much of what is seen here is the repairs undertaken by Diocletianus of about 290AD. Even so, starting about 2040 years ago and on this very spot, the fate of the world was discussed for several hundred years. Why I say "discussed" and not "decided" is because under imperial rule it was the Emperor (and later the Praetorian Guard) not the Senate that held real power in Rome.

the roman forum

After yesterday’s post about Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus I just had to follow up with a shot from Rome – so here it is – the Roman Forum. I spent almost an entire day here when I visited Rome last year because there was so much to explore. In the very spot I stood when taking this photo, or close to it, Scipio would have made his arguments for the strategy that would end the Second Punic war in the battle depicted in yesterday’s post. Of course, in Scipio’s day, there was not all this broken marble laying around. In fact there was little marble at all because it was not until long after Scipio that the Emperor Augustus turned the city of brick into a city of marble. If you listened to the audio-podcast attached to yesterday’s post, however, you will know that it was the personality of Scipio, hero of the Roman Republic, that set the stage for the Roman Empire.

I Cornelius

Well this afternoon I Cornelius beat the Carthaginians once again. It was a close run thing - but then again it was originally. The battle was at Zarma and I, taking the role of Roman General Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, was outnumbered by Hannibal who had 45,000 infantry to my 34,000, but those are fairly good odds for Roman Legions who are quite used to fighting against larger forces. My 3000 Roman regular cavalry were matched at 3000 by Hannibal’s, but Hannibal also had 80 war elephants. I however, had an additional 6000 Numidian cavalry, who I had convinced to switch from the Carthaginian to Roman side. Hannibal had the advantages of fighting on Carthaginian home turf, but I got to choose exactly where the battle took place and used that to my advantage. Hannibal deployed his elephants at the center of his line so I decided to deploy light infantry at my center because they could dodge the elephants, but to be safe I held heavy infantry in reserve back from the center to fill any breach. I had cavalry off to the sides with which I tested the Carthaginian flanks. When their Hannibal's left flank began to crumble my Numidian cavalry off to my right side took quick advantage and attacked the rear, and the rest was history repeating itself. Thanks L for a great game! If you want to hear the history of this real historical moment, and you have fifteen minites or so to spare, listen to it here, and you will find it very similar to the way yesterday's game played out. Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes my name (middle name) really is "Cornelius!"

knowledge totem

The Knowledge Totem in Victoria, British Columbia. Carved by Master Carver Cicero August and his sons Darrell and Doug August of the Cowichan Tribes.

stolen photo stolen pearl

Well the photo is not really "stolen," but I have to admit this shot was not my idea. A few weeks ago I saw a shot of this exact scene on the site of photographer rrz and I really liked it. Well today, driving to a PhD defence at the University of Toronto, I was heading up Spadina Avenue and off a side street I caught a glimpse of an alley with this scene. So of course I stopped and took a photo.

When I first saw this scene through western eyes I thought that here is a poor girl being chased by a nasty dragon, but likely she needs no St. George to rescue her, because she seems to be some type of Kung Foo expert. But then I remembered that Chinese dragons are not bad like their western counterparts, in fact they are quite nice and noble. I also remembered that each dragon has a pearl which is a great treasure because it is the source of their strength and wisdom. So another interpretation of this scene is that this girl has stolen the dragon’s pearl and he (dragons are usually boys) of course is not too pleased and is simply trying to get it back without being poked in the eye by that sharp sword she has. I think there is even an ancient Chinese legend of a queen mother from long ago sending a guard to steal the Jade Dragon’s pearl. Maybe this is that guard and the scene depicts that story.

The other more modern meaning and the official reason for this mural is that these alleyways have had a graffiti problems and the Toronto Mayor’s solution was to sponsor this art. That will work – not only are dragons good at chasing Kung Foo girls — they are good at cleaning alleyways up too.

Anyway enjoy - and thanks to rrz for the original idea.

fast food

I think this is the Cuban equivalent of Tim Horton's.


A squirrel at McMaster University.


Victoria in Victoria


As you know, I like taking portraits, especially when they turn out like this. What makes a portrait like this work is the eyes - they have to be exactly in focus. The shot is taken at f/2.8 so that everything except the focal point (the eyes) is soft, which is exactly what I wanted in this shot. The need for the focal point be be exactly in focus is is why a few weeks ago when I was buying a new camera, the issue of having no backfocus was so crucial.

strange landing

Driving to Fonthill this week I noticed strange marks in the middle of a farm field. They looked like tire marks but they came from nowhere and went nowhere. It was as if something landed and left again. One of life's mysteries.


Well anyway I was walking along a street at UVic and I heard this voice saying, "Goodevening Mr. Mykodachrome." Well I turned around and here was this rabbit. I thought nothing of that because when you have visited UVic as much as I have you get used to the fact that everyone knows your name.


Tulips, or something very similar, in Victoria.
GPS: N48.421887, W123.368058