Disneyworld – Epcot (Pt 3 of 5)

Well we’re back to Disney and this time I’m wandering around Epcot. You’ll notice a distinct lack of Epcot itself other than the giant ball (which is known as Spaceship Earth). Epcot is an odd little place which is basically a small copy of the world. So as you wander around the lagoon you see a small Eiffel Tower and other country landmarks. I found it a little too fake, so didn’t take many pictures of the park itself. However, we were lucky in that the Flower and Garden Show was on at the same time, so there were all these Disney sculptures made up of flowers.

As you walk into the park you are met right away with some of the sculptures and the rest are scattered throughout the park. Crowds at Disney are a matter of course and Epcot was no exception.

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F8 – 19mm – 1/500 – ISO 200

The level of detail of these sculptures is fantastic, and with the glorious weather, the colors were incredibly vibrant. I also wanted to get a sense of place whenever I could, so you’ll see Spaceship Earth showing up in a number of these pictures.

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F2.8 – 16mm – 1/6400 – ISO 200 – Exp comp -1

I was really playing around with angles when taking these shots. I was trying to avoid people where possible, but also trying to get an angle I liked. So imagine me photographing each of these sculptures like a fashion shoot, yelling “work it, work it” at a bunch of bushes!!

Thumper and Flower are probably two of the earliest Disney characters that I fell in love with and I thought this little group was adorable.

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F8 – 22mm – 1/500 – ISO 200

Tigger however, is hands down, my favorite Disney character of all time. I had taken a number of full body pictures but ended up really liking this closeup of him.

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F3.5 – 40mm – 1/400 – ISO 100

They had Snow White and all seven of the dwarves in a row, but I liked how Doc, Grumpy and Happy were set up at the back of the line. I was also able to get some of the international pavilions behind them.

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F8 – 26mm – 1/160 – ISO 100

They had set up Lady and the Tramp in the Italian section of Epcot, which considering the spaghetti scene in the movie is a great fit. As with the others, I tried this from many angles, but I ended up liking the staircase going up behind them. The diagonal line of the stairs combined with the Tramp’s glance to the right, leads your eyes over to Lady herself.

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F3.5 – 31mm – 1/640 – ISO 100

Disney souvenirs are everywhere in all of the parks, and most are pretty straight forward fully licensed items. However, just like other parks, some interesting items creep in. This one in particular caught my eye. Not surprisingly, this booth was in the U.S. section of Epcot. I think it’s supposed to the be the evil queen from Snow White… holding an American Flag. I think all these dolls are supposed to be various Disney characters with various flag adornments. Take a moment and guess how much this particular doll was selling for………………………………………………………………….$60 – I am not kidding you.

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F3.8 – 55mm – 1/800 – ISO 100 – Exp comp -1

As part of the Flower and Garden show, they also had a whole honey display, so I had fun playing around in this area. Here’s another example of Spaceship Earth out of focus in the background, so while you are focusing on the hives you still know where you are.

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F3.5 – 50mm – 1/3200 – ISO 200 – Exp comp -1

Here I was just playing with focusing on this bee and lid of this hive.

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F4 – 80mm – 1/5000 – ISO 200 – Exp comp -1

This was a closeup shot of Spaceship Earth. I loved the geometric pattern of the ball so I zoomed in on a small section of it. Because it’s a ball the light changes cause a transition in color from a light brown to a blue across the photo.

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F3.5 – 27mm – 1/160 – ISO 200 – Exp comp +1

Throughout all of parks there are apparently over a thousand “hidden Mickeys”. Display sections where you can find the Mickey Mouse ears and face. To be honest, I only noticed two of them the whole time, and this was definitely the most obvious. It would make an interesting scavenger hunt to poke around to find as many as you can.

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F3.8 – 60mm – 1/500 – ISO 100

In one section of the flower show, they had about a dozen fairy houses. They were all about the size of a birdhouse, but all different designs. They were quite magical:)

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F4 – 66mm – 1/500 – ISO 100

For the final shot of this blog, I’ve included this one. I love the monorails at Epcot, and there were a few different locations where I found a shot that I wanted to have a monorail as part of it. That involved settling in for up to a 15 minute wait. This particular angle looked very futuristic, so I found a spot where the buildings were not blocked by the monorail track and waited….

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F11 – 28mm – 1/400 – ISO 200

That wraps up Epcot, and for those keeping track that just leaves one park to go. Join us next time as we head to Animal Kingdom (SPOILER: my favorite of all the parks).

Canada Day Fireworks and No Traffic!!

Hi everyone, figured I’d drop a quick little post and give you a break from Disney. On Canada Day I was able to sit out on my balcony to grab shots of the Ashbridge’s Bay Fireworks. It was great to be home 1 second after the show was over.

I spent some time waiting for it to get dark, so grabbed this shot of the highway traffic next to Bridgepoint.

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F/11 – 122mm – 5 secs – ISO 200

Usually folks fire off the sparklers in the lower park area, but not this holiday. I did manage to capture this one a little further back.

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F/8 – 122mm – 5 secs – ISO 200

For the show itself, I was using a remote shutter release and manually controlling how long the shutter was open. As the show went on, the smoke was blowing in the right direction and we got some great red smoke on the bottom of the shots.

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F/8 – 200mm – 2 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 2 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 1 sec – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

Back to our normal posts next weekend:)

Disneyworld – Hollywood Studios (Pt 2 of 5)

For the second blog post we’re off to Hollywood Studios. I actually visited twice, the first time after my race (and to be honest I don’t remember that much of it) and on my final day in Disney. I find it lacks that Disney feel, in that this area could have been in Universal Studios and I am not sure I would have noticed. Although the brooms from Fantasia that you meet on the way into the park might be a little on theme:)

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F8 – 32mm- 1/400 – ISO 200

Of all 4 parks, this one felt more like a mini-mall than an amusement park. Hollywood Studios is made of of mostly shows and exhibits with very few rides. This is the view that meets you as you enter the park.

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F1.8 – 4mm- 1/3800 – ISO 20

I did enjoy a few of the shows, and one of the current Disney properties is the Muppets. The Muppets and Jim Henson were and are a big part of who I am, and so I definitely had to attend the Muppet Vision 3D show. While the show itself was a simple 3D movie, we were treated to Statler and Waldorf in the balcony doing their thing.

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F4 – 80mm- 1/40 – ISO 6400

One of the things I enjoyed over my stay was watching the little ones really enjoying themselves. This little princess decided to try out the stairs in full regalia and I had to grab a shot of her. I loved that she did this as the stairs were empty, so she stood out a little more.

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F6.3 – 185mm- 1/640 – ISO 200

As mentioned in the last post, I’m still not tired of Let It Go, so my friend and I headed off the the Frozen Sing-a-Long show…. yep, I have the soundtrack and know most of the songs. My favorite moment came at the end when the audience got to experience an indoor snow storm during the big finale.

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F5 – 18mm- 1/125 – ISO 6400

I know some of you may be thinking, why did you visit it twice if you thought it looked like a mini-mall?? …… the answer is simple – STAR WARS. I was thrilled when Disney purchased the Star Wars brand because I knew they would be able to do it right. So right in fact they are opening up a Star Wars land at the end of next year and man, am I heading back to see that when it’s done!!!

They have stormtroopers patrolling the park throughout the day, and I have to confess I am fascinated by their armor. I just think it has a great look to it. My hats off to the troopers as well as it was incredibly hot and they just got on with their jobs. On occasion they would stop and “interrogate” the locals to see if they had any info on the rebels.

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F9 – 56mm- 1/100 – ISO 200

They have  a couple of Star Wars shows that run multiple times during the day. The first is March of the First Order, where a squad of troopers march in formation led by Captain Phasma. For shots like these, I was glad that I had taken a wide angle lens so I could get the whole shot. I was only about 20 feet in front of them at this point.

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F8 – 16mm- 1/1250 – ISO 200 -exp comp -1

I was really happy to get this shot of them marching out of the parade grounds. This was another time that I stood in the bright noon time sun for 40 mins so I could get a shooting location at the front of the ropes.

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F3 – 24mm- 1/4000 – ISO 200

The second show is In A Galaxy Far Away, and they have a number of Star Wars characters come out on the catwalk. From C3PO to Chewbacca to Rey, they have a great lineup of characters. As always, I gravitated to the Storm Trooper outfits. I may have a thing for the white trooper outfits, but I absolutely love the silver of Captain Phasma’s armor. Just for the record, I do not believe in or support the actions of the Empire, but I do think they are snazzy dressers!!

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F5.6 – 80mm- 1/320 – ISO 200

I thought we’d finish on the big bad himself, Mr Vader. I picked this shot as I was able to grab the cloak action as he spun around.

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F5.6 – 56mm- 1/320 – ISO 200

That wraps up my visit to Disney Hollywood Studios. I wouldn’t say it was a must see park, but if you are a Star Wars geek it’s worth a wander through. Next week we’ll be heading the Epcot for the flower and garden show….

Disneyworld – Magic Kingdom (Pt 1 of 5)

In April of this year, I got the chance to go to Disneyworld for the first time. A lot of people I know went as children and I was curious what it would be like to experience the place for the first time as an adult. It was an interesting experience. In some ways, no different that going to Canada’s Wonderland but it other ways truly magical.

I’ve been pondering the best way to share this trip with folks and after working through the over 2000 pictures I took during this trip, I came up with a plan. Step 1 – I’m not going to show you all 2000 shots… you’re welcome. Step 2- try to highlight the place and experience instead. This is going to be a 5 part series where I show you each of the parks plus a final post with some of my favorite shots.

I wanted to start with the Magic Kingdom as this is the most Disney place of them all, and this shot of Walt and Mickey in front of Cinderella’s castle was a shot that I knew I had to get. You do get caught up in the moment when you come across iconic views like this.

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60mm – f 3.8 – 1/2500 – ISO 200 – exp comp -1

As this was my first time visiting, there were certain rides I felt I had to do by law in the Magic Kingdom – It’s a Small World, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. The first one in the queue was It’s a Small World.

The ride is a technical marvel with what feels like thousands of these child dolls from all over the world singing the song (about a dozen times at least by the time you make your way through the place). I really appreciated the complexity of keeping a ride like this going- that’s a lot of moving parts. That being said, it’s a ride out of time. There are a lot of cultural depictions that land on the wrong side of stereotypical and it feels very awkward in 2018. My friend had overheard that this ride will be shutting down in the next year or so, and I can understand why. Also, my horror movie watching side was convinced they all come to life after dark 🙂

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38mm – f 3.3 – 125 – ISO 3200 – exp comp -1

The Haunted Mansion was up next, and it was a lot of fun. Another dark ride (you sit is a seat and move through a place), you travel through the house and get to see a lot of fun setups, including one where holographic ghosts are dancing around a ballroom. One of the things that Disney has done very well is that the areas where you line up for rides usually have a lot of visual items to keep you occupied while you wait. The winding line for this ride starts with these family busts and moves you through  graveyards with cute tombstone epitaphs and architectural features.

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16mm – f 6.3 – 1/200 – ISO 200 – exp comp -1

As I walked around (and I did a lot of that, each day at the parks resulted in at least 20,000 steps on the old pedometer), I was trying to keep an eye out for shots and angles that I found interesting. This shot was me enjoying how the lamps lined up. I also framed it so you couldn’t see the hordes of people travelling under the archway.

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40mm – f 3.5 – 1/3200 – ISO 100 – exp comp -1

Experiencing Disneyworld involves three things: hot sun, so much walking and crowds. There is no way to avoid any of them. I wanted to capture this shot of one of the gazillion stroller/scooter parking lots around the place to give you that sense of busyness. One of the things I can say about Disney is that they have crowd and traffic management down to science!

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16mm – f 5.6 – 1/400 – ISO 100 – exp comp -1

As mentioned earlier, there are moments of Disney magic that caught me off guard. This was a show they do in front of the castle many times during the day. It has Mickey and Minnie going around to invite other Disney characters to a party they are having. As you might guess from this photo, they have stumbled into Frozen land and we are being treated to Let It Go once again (as I didn’t have small children through the Frozen time, I still love this song so much). This moment when Elsa produces snow in the 30C temps of Florida made me gasp a little, it was such a fantastic moment. This show also ends with them shooting daytime fireworks out of the castle:)

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80mm – f 8 – 1/125 – ISO 100 – exp comp +1

One of the things I knew I wanted to see was the Festival of Fantasy parade that takes place at 3PM every day. Getting a good photography location for this one resulted in my burning the back of my hand and ears as I waited in the sun- the price of photography!! The parade features a number of character floats, and the details on them were incredible. This one for The Little Mermaid (you can see Ariel’s tail at the top) was just one example of this detail.

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The highlight of this parade for me though was the steampunk designed dragon from Sleeping Beauty. As everyone know, I have a bit of a dragon thing, and watching this one go by was amazing.

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22mm – f 8 – 1/160 – ISO 100

In yet another example of detail, as this is the Sleeping Beauty dragon, the inside of the dragon is powered by the spinning wheel. I will confess I found out about this detail on the Disney shuttle we took in from the airport. It’s such a nice touch!!

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19mm – f 8 – 1/125 – ISO 100

As I walked around, I came across Rapunzel’s tower. I loved how it was framed with the trees and thatched roof. I used a wider aperture to get the tower in focus but blur out the flowers on the branches a bit, lending it a bit of mystery.

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80mm – f 4 – 1/1250 – ISO 100

The castle is definitely the key landmark in the Magic Kingdom and I was very happy when I came across this angle that let me frame it between these rocks in Tomorrowland.

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55mm – f 3.8 – 1/8000 – ISO 400 – exp comp -1

The Magic Kingdom was an interesting place to visit. As the oldest of the 4 parks, it does feel quaint at times, but definitely is the most Disney of all of them and is worth a wander around if you have the time. I won’t be redoing any of the rides again if I go back, but it’s a wonderful place to just experience. As I and several hundreds of my closest friends left the park at the end of the parade, I relished the atmosphere of the place.

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31mm – f 8 – 1/400 – ISO 100 – exp comp -1

Stay tuned for the next blog where we move over to Hollywood Studios and I come clean about my fascination with Storm Trooper outfits!!

 

Slimbridge (Let there be birds!)

Hi Everyone,

just dusting off the blog for a new year, and thought I would kick it off by just sharing some remaining photos of my trip to England last year. We spent the day at the Slimbridge Wetlands Sanctuary, and here’s some of the folks we ran across. It was a fairly overcast day (shocking for England I know), but it was a great property to wander around.

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F 13 – 1/200 – 32mm – ISO 800

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F 6.3 – 1/200 – 185mm – ISO 3200

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F 6.3 – 1/200 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 14 – 1/200- 90mm – ISO 800

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F 11 – 1/200 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 10 – 1/250 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 16 – 1/250 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 14 – 1/200 – 250mm – ISO  800

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F 20 – 1/250 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 10 – 1/250 – 18mm – ISO 800

The blog itself will be returning shortly. The weather’s warming up, and my willingness to go out is increasing as well. This year’s posts will include Disneyworld, more Fan Expo and anything else I come up with. Stay tuned!!

 

Fan Expo ’17 – The Panels

I’m trying something new with the format of this blog. The pics now appear as thumbnails and you can click on them to make them larger.

Welcome to part 2 of my Fan Expo 2017 coverage. Fan Expo holds a number of question and answer sessions with various celebrities across the expo, and I’d thought I’d write up the ones I attended (couldn’t see them all and had to make some tough choices). You may be asking yourself – how could she possibly remember what happened two months later? I TOOK NOTES:)

After going through all my pictures, I found 250 of them that I was willing to share. Don’t panic, they are not all here. Where appropriate, at the end of each section, you will find a link to a Flickr album that has the rest of the pics for that person/group. You can click on pics in the album to make them larger as well.

Matt Smith (Doctor Who, Christopher and His Kind, The Crown)

Okay, I don’t have notes for Matt Smith, but he had the first panel of the expo. One of the things I look for is what I call the Fan Expo Ripple Effect. It’s when I hear about something that convinces me to check it out. In this case, it was Matt talking about playing Prince Philip in Netflix’s The Crown. I was so intrigued, I watch the show in my hotel room during breaks:) – It’s really good and Season 2 is starting soon. He was also fantastic with the wee kids in the crowd who got up to ask Doctor Who questions.

Matt Smith Flickr Album Link – click to open

 

John Barrowman (Arrow, Doctor Who, Torchwood)

This man was the highlight of the expo for me. He came out on stage in a trenchcoat and proceeded to do a burlesque strip tease to reveal the TARDIS onesie above. His joy of being on stage was incredible and he loved interacting with the crowd. The picture in the middle shows him with one of the Fan Expo sign language interpreters – he spent a few minutes getting her to repeatedly sign “hung like a donkey” . That gives you some idea of how his panel went. He answered questions about working on Doctor Who and Arrow and finished his panel by leading the audience through a group sing of “Copacabana”.

John Barrowman Flickr Album – click to open

Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Clue, IT)

Tim Curry made a very rare appearance at Fan Expo this year. He suffered a massive stroke a few years ago which has left him quite impaired. I felt honored to see him. He’s played some of my favorite characters in film, from the hilarious Wadsworth the butler in Clue, to the terrifying Pennywise the Clown in IT, and the transformational Frank N Furter in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

He was charming and funny in his panel. He mentioned that one of his favorite films he worked in was Muppet Treasure Island and that they had had a 2 week rehearsal period prior to filming Clue, which let them really work out the madness of that movie. (If you haven’t seen Clue – make it a priority). When someone asked him about the upcoming IT remake, he remarked that he just hoped they fixed the ending of the movie (referring to the terrible giant spider effect they had in the 90s TV miniseries).

Stranger Things Panel (Finn Wolfhard – Mike, Gaten Matarazzo- Dustin, Caleb McLaughlin – Lucas)

Definitely one of the most popular panels, their lineup went up the stairs and outside of the convention centre. These guys were hysterical. Although they had moderators to help with their panel, they basically took care of it themselves. Gaten and Caleb both had broadway backgrounds prior to Stranger Things (Les Miz and Lion King  respectively), while Finn was a relative newcomer. They really enjoyed working on the show, especially all the 80s stuff- and were sworn to secrecy about season 2. They said the highlight was finding out that corduroy pants while incredibly ugly are also shocking comfortable! They described their first day filming which was the opening Dungeons and Dragon scene in the show and how it took forever due the attacks of nervous giggles.

Stranger Things Flickr Album – click to open

Star Trek Discovery Panel (Jason Isaacs, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Shazad Latif, Doug Jones, Sonequa Martin-Green)

A fun behind the scenes fact… They were filming this panel for the Innerspace TV show, so prior to the panel, a person had to go through and tear all the labels off the water bottles so the brands wouldn’t appear.

The panel was great and certainly huge- all the main actors and showrunner. The actors seemed to be very excited to be participating in a new Star Trek – which takes place about ten years before James T Kirk heads to the skies. Jason Isaacs said his biggest geek moment was standing on the set holding a phaser and yelling “energize!”.

I’m going to finish off this panel with a hat tip sidebar to Doug Jones (The guy in the grey vest above). If you watch horror and sci-fi you’ve seen him (he’s always the guy under the monster makeup). He was the main creature in Quarantine, Pan’s Labryinth, The Ancient in the Strain, Cochise in Falling Skies, Abe Sapien in Hellboy, one of the Gentleman in Buffy… etc, etc, etc.

Star Trek Discovery Panel Flickr Album – click to open

Nathan Fillion (Firefly Castle, Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog)

Nathan Fillion was as charming, witty and handsome as ever:) He talked about learning the art of acting when he worked on “One Life to Live” (an extinct soap opera). He spoke about his love for scuba diving which led to me discovering we share the same fear of being eaten alive – he specifically mentioned sharks and bears (“the sharks of the forest”).  As always he spoke of his love for Firefly and what that show meant to him.

Nathan Fillion Flickr Album – click to open

Billie Piper (Doctor Who, Diary of a Call Girl)

Billie Piper’s panel was a low key affair. I could only stay for 30 mins as I had to scoot to my next panel, but it seemed it was taking her awhile to warm up to the session. She spoke about how overwhelming all the attention was when she started on Doctor Who (even though she had been a big pop star in the UK previously). Hilariously, she talked about how she could never take the daleks seriously, as on the set they were always bumping into things and incredibly clumsy. She also confessed to nicking small props of the set of Doctor Who whenever possible:)

Billie Piper Flickr Album – click to open

Justin Roiland (co-creator and the voices of Rick and Morty – on the right)

The expo was pretty well organized this year with lines, rooms etc – except for this panel. I suspect they seriously underestimated the popularity of this show. They had set it up in a room that held 400 people. 30 min prior to the panel 1000 people had shown up and had to be turned away. The ONLY reason I got into this room was my VIP badge.

Rick and Morty is a new love affair in my life. It’s a cartoon that’s just finished it’s 3rd season, and tells the story of a drunk mad scientist who travels the multiple universes with his grandson…. yes, this is Doctor Who on acid – except bitingly funny.  Justin immediately won my heart by saying his favorite sci-fi show was Farscape.

He spoke about writing and voicing these characters and confessed that he is more Morty than Rick. As Rick is a drunk, he has occasionally gotten drunk while recording the voices, which often goes off the rails. His favorite episodes have been the Interdimensional Cable episodes where the dialogue is often improvised.

Stephen Amell (Arrow)

Stephen is a Toronto boy and he always enjoys being home. He was managing his session by himself and doing fairly well. He did have to deal with David Ramsey crashing his panel, but it was sweet to see them together. He shared stories from the set, and jokingly discussed how he always assumes John Barrowman is right behind him.

Stephen Amell Flickr Album – click to open

Anthony Daniels (C3P0 in Star Wars – the only actor to appear in all of them)

What a classy man! He walked through the audience to get up on stage, and then wandered around himself taking the microphone to folks who had questions. Also reminded people to put down their cameras and to be in the moment (which is a big personal philosophy of mine too and yes, I’m aware of the photo blog irony)

He provided lots of stories from filming the movies – including the improvements in the C3P0 costume. It originally would take them 30 min to get him out of the C3P0 head, but now it just takes a few seconds. At the end, he spoke beautifully about Carrie Fisher, and how she will live on through these movies – it was very sweet.

Anthony Daniels Flickr Album – click to open

Rocky Horror Show Panel (Patricia Quinn – Magenta, Nell Campbell – Columbia)

Rocky Horror is a movie that holds great significance to me. As a naive 18 year old from the sticks, it was the first time I was shown a world where things were not as “straight” forward as I thought. It was a seminal moment in my adulthood.

Patricia and Nell both shared they’re memories of working on the stage version and then moving to film for Rocky Horror. Patricia who was the “Lips” at the beginning of the movie, described how she had to be clamped into this mask so that only her lips would be seen. Someone has asked them if they had kept their original costumes, and both jokingly said if they had they wouldn’t be here now:)

Rocky Horror Flickr Album – click to open

Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Repo the Genetic opera, and if you’re old enough a series of Nescafe Taster’s Choice Coffee commercials in the 80s)

True confession: I had a mad crush on Giles the Librarian in Buffy. He was handsome, smart AND A LIBRARIAN…. what was not to love? This was my most anticipated panel of the whole expo.

He was as charming and funny as I could have hoped. He spoke of the various shows that he’s worked on, and particularly Buffy. He said that “The Body” is still one of his favorite episodes he’s ever worked on. He said that the character of Giles was half Prince Charles and half Alan Rickman:)

Anthony Steward Head Flickr Album – click to open

That wraps up Fan Expo ’17 coverage, stay tuned for next year’s edition. I think for the next blog we will get around to those ducks and geese I promised you next time:)

Across the Pond… and then more ponds…

At the end of September this year I had the chance to go visit my aunt and uncle in England for a week. They live in the wee town of Ruspidge, located about 3 hours west of London near the border with Wales. It’s a beautiful area known as the Forest of Dean and I spent an amazing relaxing week hiking around forests, ponds and wildlife.

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Look for the little red marker in the top left:)

The area is incredibly hilly and used to be mining country. This statue dedicated to the miners of the Forest of Dean can be found in the neighboring town of Cinderford.

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iphone (4mm – f2.2 – 1/1200 – ISO 32)

My aunt lives  at the bottom of a hill close to one of the trails that go through the forest. The first morning I was there we strolled through the forest and came across this waterway. The weather while I was there was around 15 degrees and misty, foggy and rainy (mostly due to the geography of the area). As a result, all the greenery was incredibly lush and robust.

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f5.6 – 18mm – 1/125 – ISO 280

We took several drives to walking trails while I was there. The fantastic thing about the area is that there are a ton of walking trails that you can drive to. The next few pictures were taken in the Cannop Pond area. We came across this cormorant sunning himself. My poor aunt ended up acting as a tripod for me as my hands were shaking too much to get a steady shot. I cropped this picture so that he was at the bottom right and pointing towards the greenery at the top left to balance it.

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f10 – 250mm – 1/250 – ISO 800

As we walked around the pond I came across this tree and loved the way the light was playing through the leaves. I walked back and forth and took a few different shots until I settled on this one.

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f8 – 18mm – 1/250- ISO 800

Just before we left the area, I noticed this bird feeder by the side of the road. I had to creep through the trees to get this angle but I loved how the close branches acted as a frame for this shot. The feeder was crazily busy with birds and I took a bunch of shots. I finally settled on this trio as I liked how different they looked and they were nice enough to be facing in the right direction:)

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f6.3 – 250mm – 1/320 – ISO 800

On one of our trips we headed out to a lookout point know as Symonds Yat. The name is said to come from Robert Symonds, a 17th-century sheriff of Herefordshire, and yat, an old word for a gate or pass (Wikipedia). The weather had decided to cooperate with us and we could see clearly to Wales. The view was breathtaking and we spent sometime just looking out. 

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f8 – 18mm – 1/250 – ISO 160

We took advantage of some of the more unique places in the area. In the nearby Wye Valley was a butterfly zoo. For those that have been to the butterfly place in Niagara Falls it was very similar. For those that have never been, you walk through a greenhouse type area where the butterflies flit around. If you are still enough they will come and land on you. The credit for the shot below goes fully to my aunt. These are known as windowpane butterflies and it was her idea to take a shot where you could see the edge of the leaf through it.

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f5.6 – 62mm – 1/100 – ISO 800

We had a number of meals out while I was there including fish and chips, full English breakfast and in the case of the shot below, we headed to an inn for a traditional Sunday roast dinner. Before the meal came, I enjoyed my traditional English pub drink Pimms. They went to town on this one and the fruit and cucumber were all freshly sliced for my drink.

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Photo credit Uncle Phil (iphone)

One day, my aunt and I drove to the town of Ross on Wye. They had a walking path along the water which was lovely and then we walked through town. We came across the statue below that was called Mallards. I don’t think it was meant to be as terrifying as it seemed but it looked like they were diving in to eat your face:) I decided to do this one in black as it didn’t have a lot of color in it and the sky was quite grey. I found this helped focus on the contrast of the metal in the sculpture.

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f9 – 44mm – 1/500 – ISO 1600   (in case you’re wondering, my shutter was at 1/500 because I had bumped the setting and did not notice – as these weren’t moving, should have been much slower. Same is true for the rest at Ross on Wye 🙂

In contrast to the picture above, we strolled by the nearby candy store. I felt like I was walking up to Willy Wonka’s. We arrived just before 3PM, and at 3PM all the schoolkids began shuffling in just as they do on TV!

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f3.5 – 18mm – 1/500 – ISO 800

As we were walking along the water we came across this red door in the stone wall. It was so vibrant compared to the stone area around it.

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f3.5 – 18mm- 1/500 – ISO 800

The final day we were there we drove to Slimbridge, a nearby wetlands sanctuary. I’ve include a few shots here, but standby for the next blog post where you’ll learn more about it.

They have a mix of protected birds that stay year round, and those that migrate through. The first ones we say were these flamingos. Every time the wind picked up they would do this display with their wings. The black underside was quite eye catching.

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f16 – 250mm – 1/400 – ISO 800

I came across this dragonfly sunning himself. I’m very happy with the diagonal angle of this picture. It allowed my to crop it so it almost perfectly divides your view in half.

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f22 – 250mm – 1/250 – ISO 800

We came across these guys hanging out on the fence near the local cafe. I loved that they both kind of have this stink eye expression on their faces. Felt like we were about to get mugged:)

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f22 – 155mm – 1/200 – ISO 800

Slimbridge has about 5 different types of flamingos. Not all the flamingos have the same amount of coloring and I liked that these two pale ones were just sauntering through all that color.

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f14 – 105mm – 1/200 – ISO 800

Finally, you can buy bird feed to toss out to the birds as you move around the area. As a result, birds will come right up to you. While my aunt was feeding some Mandarin Ducks these Hawaiian Geese sauntered up with a “what about us” look.

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f7.1 – 38mm – 1/200 – ISO800

One of the things I wanted to take pictures of were birds that we do not have here in Ontario. Of particular interest were two specific birds and I spent the week hunting them. Below you’ll see a English Robin. They are much smaller than ours, about the size of a sparrow. I found this one singing out his heart near the butterfly zoo.

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f6.3 – 250mm – 1/500 – ISO 1600

The other type were Magpies. I stalked these birds for almost the whole week and only got this shot at the far end of my telephoto lens on my last day. Usually they hang out at my uncle’s workshop by the bunch. I maintain there was a conspiracy to keep away from me while I was there.

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f9 – 250mm- 1/400- ISO 800

The last set of photos were all taken around my aunt and uncles house. We had an incredibly foggy morning and I like how eerie it looked out the window.

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f4 – 18mm – 1/60 – ISO 560

When they moved in this garden area was empty. My aunt has worked hard to fill it in over the years. It was a great place to explore, with lots of details and nooks and crannies. I took this shot through the kitchen door.

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f5.6 – 18mm – 1.125 – ISO 200

One of these details was a spiderweb underneath one of the ledges. The morning dew was still caught on the web.

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f5 – 62mm – 1/125 – ISO 100

The entire week I was in England was grey, overcast and rainy. On my very last morning just before I left to catch the bus back to the airport the sun came out and gave me this view from my aunt and uncle’s driveway. They both claim it was a sign telling me I have to come back and I couldn’t agree more!

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f8 – 50mm – 1/250- ISO 100

Below you’ll find my hosts with the mosts, my Aunt Fiona and Uncle Phil taken up on the Yat. It was amazing to spend time with them as well as explore the area. I can’t wait to go back again.

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f8 – 18mm – 1/250 – ISO 180

In the next blog, we’ll spend more time at Slimbridge Wetland Sanctuary. Be prepared for more birds (and perhaps an otter)!!