Things, stuff, and other items of interest

September 5, 2011

Full of Hot Air

It's been a while since I last posted anything up here, primarily because I got side tracked by a sudden outbreak of summer. I was then further delayed by a sudden breaking of my foot. That in and of itself will be the basis of another post, but for now I want to share with you a small portion of what was a most excellent day.

(Image: DSC_0071, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

The "Festival de Montgolfières de Gatineau" (or "Gatineau's Hot Air Balloon Festival" for us anglophones) has been a point of both annoyance and delight for me over the last couple of years. Last year was the first time I really tried to get some shots of the balloons, but I was foiled at each attempt as Mother Nature wasn't terribly cooperative.

(Image: DSC_0400, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

The festival itself follows a pretty strict schedule for take-offs. The pilots have a pre-launch briefing where presumably the weather conditions are discussed and the launch status is decided & announced. I don't know the specifics of that process, but I do know if you follow the festival on twitter, you can keep up to date on the launch status for each scheduled take-off. If the last few years are anything to go by, being a hot air balloon pilot must be a very frustrating job.

(Image: DSC_0243, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

This year was going to be different, I had a plan. Basically this involved me getting up before the sun and hustling my sizeable caboose down to a 'secret location' and then checking the festival's twitter feed to see if the launch was going to happen or not. Believe me, no one is more surprised than I that this actually worked.

(Image: DSC_0160, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

As it turned out, there were a few flaws in my plan. Specifically:
  1. Given the safety concerns and the unpredictable impact of Mother Nature, getting there over an hour early was a little excessive.
  2. My secret spot was anything but. As launch time arrived about six SUVs and a dozen or more cars start piling in and unloading their passengers. Thankfully my particular perch was a bit more removed. I ended up hanging out with another photographer while we waited for the balloons to arrive. 
  3. I hadn't considered that the National Capital Commission may have something to say about all of this. More on that in a moment.
(Image: DSC_0104, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

After about two hours or so, the go ahead was given the green flag hoisted on the launch field, and the balloons started to fly. It may sound a little corny, but it really was like nothing I've seen before. Balloon after balloon each jumping up into the air and never coming down. It seemed like they were in a race as cluster after cluster took off. All said and done, the launch window was pretty short as they only had about ten minutes left of their schedule take off time. I'm guessing they had about twenty-five or so balloons take off, maybe a few more or less.

(Image: DSC_0230, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my  photostream)

When it was finished, I headed back to my bike only to find that it was surrounded by barricades, and there were two NCC trucks waiting for me. It seems that the NCC shuts down this particular location for each launch. I'm going to guess it has something to do with safety reasons, but then it could just be for pure spite. Local opinion tends to vary widely on the good nature of the commission. One of the fellas in the truck hopped out and explained that they closed the parking down and that since I had made it there before them, and the fact that there were no signs posted, they weren't going to ticket me. Gee thanks. They asked me to keep it in mind for next time. So all in all, an excellent start to what turned out to be a really good day.

Personally, my favourite shot of the day was this one:

(Image: DSC_0351, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

If you'd like to see the rest of the photos, please feel free to check out the full set on Flickr. It's taken me a couple of days to get this post written since I first posted the photos, and as it turns out they've become my most successful set so far.

May 29, 2011

That's a whole lot of very sweaty people - OR - Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon pics

I wasn't too sure if I should head down and snap some pics this morning or not, the weather didn't seem to know what it's plans for the day were either. It was raining when I got up, then it stopped, then it started again, then it stopped again, and then it decided to be difficult.

I eventually got my butt in gear and headed down to the corner of Preston & Somerset and snapped a few pics:

(Image: DSC_0266, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

(Image: DSC_0345, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)
(Image: DSC_0381, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)
The photos below were all taken along the Ottawa River parkway.

(Image: DSC_0460, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)


(Image: DSC_0677, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

(Image: DSC_0707, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

(Image: DSC_0769, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)
It won't come as much of a surprise when I say that I've never really understood runners or their masochistic tendencies, but I respect their discipline & hard work. This was the first marathon I've ever seen and it was something to behold. When they started to crest the hill on Somerset coming down to Preston, it was quite amazing. The sound of all the shoes hitting the asphalt was mesmerizing.

I found it fascinating, the runners were all very focused at the first location (Preston & Somerset) but seem to have loosened up a bit at the second location. (Ottawa River Parkway). A lot of them gave me big smiles and waves, a few even hammed it up a bit and struck a few poses.

I tend to avoid taking pictures of people most of the time, favouring landscape shots and other things. Mainly because I can't stand being on the opposite end of the camera myself so I try to respect the privacy of others for the most part. Obviously, I threw that rule-of-thumb out the window today. Hope you folks enjoy the pics, there are quite a few more that I didn't show here. You can find them on Flickr if you're interested.

[ UPDATE: ]

Well, these seem to have gone over well. The pics set a new personal record for views on Flickr, and one of the ones posted above (The Little Italy pic) got used on OttawaStart.

May 18, 2011

Notes to my Nephew #004

Dear future Jack:

Hey there little dude, I hope this note finds you happy and full of hope. I know it's been a while since I last wrote to you. Sorry about that pal, but there are and will continue to be times where I just run out of things to talk about. Just between you, me and the internet, there's nothing quite as pitiful as a person who keeps talking (or typing as the case may be) long past the point they stopped having anything to say.

As you grow older, you're going to meet all sorts of people. If I were a smarter man I'd be able to offer you some sort of wisdom about how to take a measure of a person in their handshake, or whether or not they look you in the eye. I wish I could share with you some insight about judging a person's character on how they hold themselves or whether or not they square their shoulders and straighten their back. All I can tell you is what I've picked up so far:
  • Someone's posture will reveal less about their personality than it does about their choice of footwear.
  • Vocabulary and diction may offer some clues about someone's education level or reading habits, but it won't help you one iota if you're trying gauge someone's integrity.
  • The quality of a handshake is important only if you're going to be arm wrestling the person to whom the hand belongs. It reveals diddly squat about a person's character.
I guess what I'm saying is that if there is a short cut for figuring out who you can and can't trust, I don't know it. As with most things in life pal, if you want to do it properly, it'll take some time. If you'll bear with me, I'll tell you about a time I wished I had some sort of secret to determining a person's merit.

When I was young man, I wasn't too bright. As a result of some poor decision making skills on my part, I ended up going to jail. Ok wait a sec, that isn't quite what I mean. Or rather, it sounds a lot worse then it actually was. What I mean to say is that I took part in a volunteer program where I and a group of kids / young adults  spent some time hanging out with other 'youths' who were 'residents of the state'. Officially it was called a 'Bible Study Group', and it took place in a room in one of the administration buildings inside the Brookside Youth Detention Center for Boys. In truth, we didn't spend much time studying the Bible, but we did spend a lot of time talking. I can remember quite clearly walking into that room for the first time. As you well know bud, I've always been a hefty fellow. That was just as true back then as it is now. If I wasn't six feet tall yet, then I was close to it. I remember entering that room and having to look up to be able to look those guys in the face. They were giants, all but one of them. I can't recall another time where I've ever been so intimidated.

The guy in charge of our group was called Mike (not his real name), he worked as part of the staff of the facility. The whole program was his idea. Essentially it boiled down to finding some volunteers to come in and just shoot the shit with the guys inside. Mike figured it would benefit the kids inside, as well as those of us on the outside. Your grandparents thought that the program would do me some good, so I got volunteered. At our first meeting, Mike laid down some ground rules:
  1. No last names.
  2. No asking the inmates why they were incarcerated. If they chose to tell us, that was their choice. We weren't allowed to ask.
  3. No bringing anything in.
  4. No taking anything out.
Other than that, it was pretty laissez-faire. We had to gather as a group at the gate house, where we'd go through a security check of sorts. We'd proceed through the gate, under escort, to the administration building. When we'd get to our room, the guys from inside would be waiting for us and  there would be some sort of discussion point for the day usually on topics dealing with trust or ethics or some such thing. We would put in a token effort to follow the suggested topic for about half an hour, inevitably though discussions wandered and no one really cared. We'd meet once a week for an hour, over a period of a few months. For those of us on the outside it was just something we did. For those on the inside it was a highly coveted reward for good behaviour. These guys had to earn the right to be there, and it wasn't an easy task for them to achieve given the nature of their surroundings, and the realities of life inside. This one hour each week was a chance for these guys to let their guard down if only momentarily, and it wasn't an easy transition for most of them to make.

During one of these sessions, I met 'Corleone'. (That's not his real name.) Corleone was a small kid, which was a serious disadvantage given his circumstances. One of the things I did each week was to make sure I had a new & very dirty joke for the guys. The dirtier and raunchier the better. It helped break the ice for what was usually a fairly tense first couple of weeks. Corleone and I hit it off when we started swapping jokes back and forth one session for nearly the full hour. We started talking and soon found out we were both football fans. I of course started talking up my beloved 49ers, while he turned out to be a Dallas fan. After a few more weeks, Corleone decided to tell me what he had been arrested for. He was there for a full term (five years), as he had been convicted of murdering someone.

It's hard to fully understand how powerful a moment that was. Telling me this was a real risk for Corleone, it was no small event. At the same time, information like that obviously impacts how you look at someone, and it wasn't an easy fact to reconcile with the guy who shared my twisted sense of humour. The risk for him was whether or not I'd still feel comfortable talking with him, knowing in the back of my head that this guy had ended someone else's life. Corleone went on to explain that he hadn't really done it, but rather his uncle had. He had agreed to take the blame for the murder as he would only have to do five years on account of his age, where if his uncle had been caught he would have been locked up for twenty-five years. There was no remorse or regret, just an explanation of events as though he were reading a shopping list. A bill of lading, all part of doing business. It was unnerving to listen to to say the least. Going into to this program, it was explained to us that the guys inside were there for good reason, their crimes weren't minor. These were serious criminals who had committed some of the most violent of crimes. This point really came home to roost when I realized the scope of what my new friend was telling me.

Now I already mentioned that I wasn't too bright, so this next part probably won't surprise you too much. Our conversations usually started with me recounting the details of the week's football games, and both of us discussing how we thought the rest of the season would play out. It's no great surprise that we rarely agreed on our respective prognostications. I honestly can't recall who first brought up the idea, but it was suggested that we bet on the outcome of the Superbowl. Being a moron, I accepted. We decided to wager chocolate bars, as it was something he could earn & purchase on the inside, and of course I would have no problem getting them on the outside. This was a colossally stupid thing to do. I can't stress that point strongly enough. It hadn't occurred to me at the time, but if Corleone was to be believed (which was a very big if) he was in fact a member of a mafia family operating somewhere in Ontario and I had just opted to make a sports based wager with him.

Over the next couple of weeks, I didn't really think too much about the bet as it never occurred to me that it would be a problem. It was a chocolate bar, who gives a shit? Superbowl time came and went, and as with every other sport based wager I have ever made, I lost in spectacular fashion. Things became more complicated when I missed the next few weeks of meetings because of a variety of reasons. I was sick, I was out of town, kidnapped by space aliens... whatever. Over the next three weeks, I legitimately could not make it to the meetings. All the while completely forgetting about the wager I had made. Thankfully, a month after the Superbowl I was finally able to make it to one of the meetings and more importantly, I had remembered the bet the day before. I had stopped off at the corner store and picked up three giant chocolate bars. One giant Coffee Crisp, one giant KitKat, and one giant Aero bar. These things were huge. I think they may have cost me a grand total of five dollars.

As per usual, I showed up at the gate house, and went through a security check in. It was winter and I was wearing a heavy coat, so no one clued in to the fact that I had the chocolate bars on me. This wasn't part of a nefarious scheme on my part, but rather glaring stupidity that this might even be considered a problem. We got escorted into the building and once we got in the room, I took off my coat. I pulled the bag containing the chocolate bars out of my pocket and Mike immediately went apoplectic.
Mike: "What the hell is that?!"
Moron: "It's three chocolate bars I owe Corleone."
Mike (Getting angry now): "You can't bring those in here."
Moron (Starting to clue in that I may be in shit): "Oh, sorry. I didn't think it would be a problem."
Mike (Getting angrier now): "What do you mean you OWE Corleone? How do you OWE him these?"
Moron (Beginning to worry now): "We made a bet about the Superbowl, and I lost."
Mike (Now somewhat awe-struck at my staggering ignorance & naivete): "You made a bet with one of these guys? You know this is a prison right? They can't just go buy a chocolate bar, it takes them months to earn one. These guys are convicted criminals."
Moron: "Sorry Mike, I really didn't think it would be a problem. They're just chocolate bars."
Mike: Stunned silence, shaking his head.
After some more discussion I managed to convince him that there wasn't any contraband or drugs stronger than corn syrup in the chocolate bars. Probably more out of a motivation of potentially saving my life than preventing me from welching on a bet, he let me take the chocolate bars in. Truthfully, I think it was at the point where I offered the bars to him that he decided to let it go. I didn't want to cause a problem, it really was a case of me being staggeringly stupid. I have no idea what would have happened if the guards had found them, I assume they would have confiscated them. It didn't occur to me until later that their first suspicion would be that I was trying to smuggle in drugs, or weapons, or God knows what else.

Once the drama had subsided, and I had apologized a millionth time for causing a problem and we went into the room. Corleone was there, and he didn't look happy. As soon as he spotted me his entire body language changed; he became tense, and wouldn't stop staring at me. Shortly after the session started we broke into groups and I went over to talk to Corleone, it was clear he was pretty angry. As I made my way over to him, I reached into my coat pocket and started to pull out the chocolate bars. The instant he saw them, everything changed. His jaw dropped then he started to smile, and then stopped when he saw that there was more than one and that they were ridiculously over sized. It was a weird reaction which I didn't know how to take. I handed the bag of chocolate bars to him and he just sat there holding them without saying anything. I began apologizing about missing the last few meetings and taking so long to make good on the bet. I explained why I hadn't been able to make it and joked that he might have to eat the bars right there on the spot as there was a bit of a problem bringing them in. He never looked up or said a single word the entire time I was talking, he just stared at the bag of chocolate in his lap. At first I was relieved that he seemed to relax, but he was quiet for so long I wondered if something was wrong. It wasn't until he got up to shake my hand, and give me a bear hug that I realized he was crying. Not just crying but out right weeping, almost sobbing.
Corleone: "I thought you had forgotten. I thought you ditched the group so you wouldn't have to pay up. I thought you welched on our bet."
I don't mind saying it was a pretty touching and kind of weird moment. I had had absolutely no idea how important this had been to him. The entire room at this point was completely silent, and everyone just watched this tough as nails, convicted murderer as he hugged me and cried. It was, and remains one of the most sincere, powerful, touching and awkward moments of my entire life. You could hear a pin drop in that room. No one said a word. After a couple of moments, he let go and immediately punched me in the arm and said: "Next time, no coffee crisp. I [Expletive deleted] hate coffee crisp." Then without missing a beat, he started opening up the three chocolate bars and passing pieces out to everyone in the room. I was first to be offered a piece, which I tried to decline thinking that this was a real treat for him and he should be able to enjoy all of it. He would hear nothing of it.
Corleone: "These are mine, and I want to share them with you guys. Besides, if I take them back to my cell, they'll just be stolen or confiscated."
I tried to convince him to keep them, but it was actually Mike who talked me out of it. It gave Mike an opportunity to confirm that there was nothing illicit in the chocolate bars, and it also was a very effective and tasty way to dispose of the problem all together. So the entire room got a small piece of either a KitKat, Aero or Coffee Crisp, and we just sat there munching away for a couple of minutes.

I don't know how to describe these sessions. I won't say that I enjoyed it, because it's not the right choice of words. It wasn't something you would describe in terms of 'liking' or 'disliking'. It was an incredibly potent experience, easily one of the most meaningful things I've ever done in my life. At the same time, it wasn't easy. These guys had done awful horrible things, and it wasn't always possible to take that into account and move past it. That first session made a big impact on me, I ended up taking part in four sessions all together. Corleone was transferred to another detention center after that first session but there were other guys who kept coming back time and time again. I have no idea what became of Corleone. To this day, I still don't know what to think of him. He was a friend of mine, we got along and we joked around. On the other hand, he was convicted of killing another human being. His life lead him to places and circumstances that are outside of my scope of experience. I have no idea if anything he said to me was true, or if he just made it all up. It's about twenty years later now, and with the benefit of hindsight I can say I learned three things that day:
  1. Never welch on a bet. Ever.
  2. There's no quick way to sum up an individual no matter who they are, or who you are.
  3. I really need to stop betting on the Niners.
I hope all is well with you little buddy. Eat your veggies (except the brussel sprouts) and listen to your folks. Be good. I'll see you soon.

Uncle Onion

April 4, 2011

My camera is considerably more intelligent than I am.

Image: Front, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream

  That picture probably took more time than any other picture I have in my collection. Admittedly, it's not the most eye catching shot you're ever going to see but I had fun making it and I like it. That's really all I'm looking for from my efforts. If others get a kick out of it as well, then that's a bonus. If not, well there's always next time.

This one picture is comprised of forty-six different shots. Each of those shots was one of three taken, in one of three sessions. Each session required about thirty to forty-five minutes set up, which consisted of setting up the placement, the background and managing the lighting (sunlight + a forty inch gold reflector). I needed to set the controls of the camera so that each shot appeared (more or less) consistent. The post processing wasn't too bad, some light retouching, minor uniform cropping, resizing and consolidation of the shots into the picture above.

Sounds boring right? I'm starting to yawn just typing it in, and I find this stuff fascinating. My point is that this particular shot was more about the learning process than the final product. Not the most beautiful shot I've ever taken, but probably one of the more complex ones to date. Which is a little pitiful considering that it boils down to me taking pictures of my baseball hats in the middle of my living room over a couple of weeks.

I've been playing around with cameras on and off (mostly off) for quite a while now, and I have something of a small confession to make: I know diddly squat about cameras. I've got the basics just barely covered, but my knowledge doesn't extend much beyond that. If I'm going to be honest then I should probably admit that I could use a review session or two on even that paltry modicum of information. Basically I know enough to be able to gauge my own stupidity and very little else. This is both very encouraging and crushingly depressing all at the same time.

It's easy to hide my expansive ignorance because the cameras that are being sold today are terrifyingly smart. Even the most basic point & click camera performs a few thousand calculations every time you press the shiny button. The camera starts by focusing on the subject for you, then it gauges the light, chooses the appropriate aperture size that the lens can accommodate while also managing the shutter speed and iso levels of the sensor that captures your image. While it's doing that, it's also determining the appropriate white and black balance so as to be sure that your colours are coming out near-perfect. As though this weren't enough, most cameras come with a whole slew of preset configurations for a variety of different situations. Outdoor in retina-searing sunlight? No problem! Indoors under life-sucking fluorescents? Easy-peasy. Low light? Night time? Under water stuck in a cave with nothing but a single key-chain LED? Done, done, and done.

I'm all for the unending march of progress and technology, but there is something to be said for learning things the old fashion way. Believe me, I love the idiot proof camera mainly because I'm it's target audience. Just being around cameras for a while you'll eventually pick up some understanding if through nothing else than a weird application of osmosis. If I considered myself a real photographer then I'd talk to you about composition and lighting, about framing your subject, about managing your depth of field through setting your aperture and shutter speeds accordingly, all while making sure you've a ideal exposure for the appropriate iso level. I'm not a real photographer though, I'm just a guy with a camera who's killing some time and having a few laughs. An analogy I heard recently springs to mind that I believe captures the sense of 'la mot juste' that I'm looking for:
Buying a camera doesn't make you a professional photographer any more than buying a tooth brush makes you a dentist. 
- A very bitter, angry & abused professional photographer.
So what's with the rant about amateur camera enthusiast vs. the professional photographer? Well, I wanted to establish that I understand the difference there in. I consider myself barely qualified for the title of amateur. I feel I needed to make that perfectly clear before moving on to this next step as it's a bit of a doozy.  I've been getting a few questions lately about camera stuff. Actually, that's not entirely true. I've been getting a lot of questions about camera stuff. Trust me when I say that no one is more surprised about this than I. My first concern was that I wanted to stress the point of how completely unqualified I am to answer those questions. Thankfully, I've never let that stop before so I don't see why it should now.

What I know about cameras, photography, and pressing shiny buttons I've scraped together mostly from online sources, a few books, and a hefty chunk of trial and error. (Emphasis on the 'error') I could try to pretend like I had half a clue, but no one's going to believe that for very long. Instead, what I thought I would do is add a page / tab at the top of the blog for camera stuff. This will be coming online over the next few days and weeks. This will largely consist of online resources for camera info that I've found. Sites that I check regularly, links to helpful pros, etc. That sort of stuff. I'll do my best to keep it current and up to date. It's likely that it'll be more up to date than my regular posts are.  Hopefully some of you will find this useful, and I won't come across as too much of a pompous ass while regurgitating other peoples knowledge and hard work. If there are specific questions that you'd like to see addressed, either add a comment below or send me an email and just keep in mind... I have no idea what I'm doing.

[ April 13th 2011 - UPDATE: ]

I've finally got the camera page started. You can find it here if your interested. If it's missing something, feel free to send an email or leave a comment.

February 6, 2011

Lions, Dragons & Rabbits invade Chinatown

I know that I'm overdue for a post, and believe it or not, there are a few posts in the works but I put those aside today and took the camera out for a spin. Hope you enjoy it.

I've become a bit of a twitter fiend. A low grade addiction is probably an accurate way to describe my fascination with the hundred and forty character cyber-blurbs. I was planning on heading down to Winterlude today, when I saw this tweet from the fine folks at OttawaStartWinterlude will have to wait until next week.

DSC_0187
(Image: DSC_0187, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

Ottawa's Chinatown Business Improvement Association hosted a celebration of the Lunar New Year's, by inviting some Lion Dancers to parade up and down Somerset St. in order to scare off evil spirits, and to bring good fortune.

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(Image: DSC_0192, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

I figured I'd go check out the show, as it's kind of an iconic practice of the Chinese culture that I've never seen in person. Glad I decided to go. It was a beautiful day out, nice walking, and the promise of some interesting stuff to look at through the camera lens.


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(Image: DSC_0372, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

I had some time to kill before the parade was scheduled to start, so I figured I'd walk the couple of blocks and see if I could get an idea how to frame some of the shots I wanted to get. I guess a tall tubby guy walking up and down the same street for forty-five minutes looks a little conspicuous because while I was waiting for the dancers to show up, I got stopped by three or four different people, all of whom asked me the same thing:
"Is there some sort of a parade today? Do you know when it starts? Do you know where?"
It never fails to amaze me peoples reaction to seeing a camera. While I'm flattered they assumed I had a clue as to what was going on, I felt bad I couldn't help them out with any extra information.

I found out later that the dancers would be marching from Preston St, to Bay St, then back again. Fantastic news to my ears as it allowed plenty of opportunity to get lots of shots in. Given my normal ratio of decent to crappy shots, I was happy to hear I had lots of time.

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(Image: DSC_0392, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

It was quite an event. The parade itself was pretty small, but surprisingly interactive with the crowd. People were walking up and snapping pics, posing with the people in the rabbit costumes, and of course everyone jumped when the fire crackers were set off.

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(Image: DSC_0324, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

The shot above was taken just outside the Yangtze Restaurant, shortly before all three dragons accompanied by cymbal smashers and drummers did a left face turn and proceeded into the restaurant where they paraded around the dining room. I'm assuming this is pretty standard fare, because it happened a few times along the procession and everyone seemed to get a kick out of it.

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(Image: DSC_0353, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

The photo above was taken outside of the Mekong Restaurant where the owners were up on the second floor balcony, with a head of lettuce on a jerry-rigged fishing pole. The crowd seemed to get a kick out of the poor bugger in the costume trying to jump and get the lettuce. It took him a few tries, but as evidenced above, his persistence paid off.

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(Image: DSC_0405, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

All in all, quite a neat day. The festivities were a hoot, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The guys in the costumes never seemed to stop smiling from start to finish. Happy Year of the Rabbit folks.

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(Image: DSC_0288, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from my photostream)

[ UPDATE: ]
So it would seem that  some of you folks like the pics as both OttawaStart & SpacingOttawa decided to use my pics on their respective sites. For those that aren't too familiar with the Ottawa blog scene, these are two pretty high traffic sites, which are currently showing my photos. That's pretty cool. Glad I gave the Winterlude stuff a pass today.