marmalade.ca

have passport, will travel


Travel PSA of the Day:

Travel PSA of the Day:


Posted on Aug 8, 2014 in Travel, USA

Don’t use Canadian Visa debit cards while in the USA, it leaves you open to merchants doing post-purchase shenanigans that your bank can’t do anything about. Of the five places I used my bank card in Denver, two did hinky post-purchase adjustments that ended up costing me roughly $20 (thankfully I didn’t use it more!).

Mystery debits and credits

Mystery debits and credits

I spent an hour with my bank manager, and he said that this was not something he had ever seen before and that it was not related to foreign transaction fees. It was the merchant (or their banks) refunding my original purchase and then ringing it in at a higher rate for some reason. My bank felt bad that they couldn’t do anything about the mystery charges, and weren’t aware that this was even a potential issue with the Visa Debit cards, so instead refunded my $14 bank fee from this month for the hassle (thanks TD!)

Also, because the US machines read the Visa debits as flat-out Visa cards you aren’t asked for a PIN or signature if the amount is less than $50US, which means anyone can use your card should you lose it.

TL;DR — Use cash or credit only in the US, don’t use your debit card *especially* if it’s the Visa Debit that some banks now use as their bank cards.

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FujiTuesday: Stranded on The Island

FujiTuesday: Stranded on The Island


Posted on Jul 27, 2014 in Toronto, X-E2

Toronto Harbour

Toronto Harbour

Last week I joined the FujiTuesday meetup group for a photowalk on Toronto Island. Sponsored by Aden Camera and FujiFilm Canada (they paid for everyone’s ferry tickets), they not only gave our prize packs of Fuji sling bags (of which I won one!), but also a shiny new X100S (of which I didn’t). The ferry was an hour delayed in taking us over, so the walk itself was a bit rushed. I would have enjoyed more time to stop and smell the roses as it were, but it was still a great evening out and I liked the opportunity to get a few pointers from other Fujinistas :)

I had recently bought a circular polarizer, which had been left on for most of the walk, so most of my photos came out underwhelming. This was the first time I’d shot with it and was something of an experiment, so I can’t say that I’m surprised. I’ve definitely learned that unless shooting into very bright light to remove the filter unless I want everything dull and kind of meh.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

Alternate ways to get to the island

Alternate ways to get to the island

On the ferry

On the ferry

The clocktower

The clocktower

Hydrangeas and day lilies

Hydrangeas and day lilies

Literally the bird's eye view

Literally the bird’s eye view

The fountain

The fountain

The pier

The pier

Old-time buoys

Old-time buoys

The lighthouse

The lighthouse

The lighthouse at sunset

The lighthouse at sunset

Dusk on Lake Ontario

Dusk on Lake Ontario

Sunset on Lake Ontario

Sunset on Lake Ontario

These here are some of my favourite pictures from the day, but you can view the complete collection on my Flickr page.

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BIG on Bloor street festival

BIG on Bloor street festival


Posted on Jul 21, 2014 in Toronto

Ball python at Big on Bloor

Ball python at Big on Bloor

Big on Bloor is a Toronto street festival that “celebrates business, community, arts and culture, with a unique community and city-building festival featuring hundreds of events, activities and exhibitions”. Even though this was its 8th year it was the first time I’d attended and I was eager to check it out. With hopes that this wasn’t going to be just another tacky street festival like Taste of the Danforth or Taste of Little Italy, with maddening crowds, bouncy castles, and tacky dollar store tat for sale, I packed up my camera and headed to Bloor Street.

It was awesome!

Instead of all the crap that makes the other festivals events to avoid, BIG on Bloor had tables with artists selling their creations, interesting food, a hula-hoop station for the kids, and even a snake table! The only thing it didn’t have was sunshine. I went on Saturday, and within minutes of arriving it started to rain. After stopping to take pictures of this friendly ball python here, I put the camera away and took out the umbrella so that I could walk the length and back of the festival.

Snap not-so-happy

This was the first time I’d been out with my X-E2 in inclement weather, and I was nervous about damaging it in the rain. The only photos I took were under the safety of a tent where I could be sure no water would fall on the camera. I threw the shutter speed into A and hoped for the best. Of the photos I took, only the one at the top turned out as expected; the snake moved too much for clear shots. Had I not been nervous (or in such close quarters under the tent), I would have liked to spend some time playing with the different shutter speeds in hopes of getting clearer photographs.

Oh well, next time!

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After the storm

After the storm


Posted on Jul 9, 2014 in Toronto, X-E2

Gorgeous clouds after a day of crazy weather

Gorgeous clouds after a day of crazy weather

Info from Flickr

Info from Flickr

There was a certain poetic irony that one year to the date after intense flooding that put Toronto on its heels, Mother Nature walloped us yet again with torrential downpours. These fluffy beauties just drifted past my window and I had to try and photograph them.

Now that I’m taking photos on a nearly daily basis, I’m looking at a number of solutions for sharing my images online. There’s this blog, Twitter, Flickr, 500px, Facebook, Google+ — so many possible communities! I’ve resurrected my Flickr account for now, as I’m really keen to see what other X-E2 photographers are coming up with and I really like the little EXIF data graphic it generates for each photo, but I’ve always preferred the artistic community on 500px a little more (plus it’s made here in Toronto!).

Any photographers out there? What are you using for your online photographic community needs?

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Shots from a moving streetcar

Shots from a moving streetcar


Posted on Jul 8, 2014 in Toronto, X-E2

Alone on the 501

Alone on the 501

In which I attempt candid street photography with my X-E2.

I’ve never been very good at street photography. I love other people’s photographs, but I’ve always feel so timid and conspicuous with my Canon DSLR that I never really got the hang of it. With my Wee Beastie, as the X-E2 has been ceremoniously dubbed, I found it a lot easier to take photos of strangers out in public. Being on a moving streetcar also helped up my confidence level, although I still half expected people to come running up to my window and yell at me for taking their photograph.

Yesterday I crossed town on the 501 Queen streetcar, and thought it would be fun to take a quick and dirty shot of a building, person, or event at each stop along the way. Some of my photos turned out better than expected, others not so much. Overall the photos are a touch blurry, so the biggest struggle I had was getting the shutter fast enough to take photos of moving subjects. I did my best, and think I’m beginning to get the hang of it. Even though I’m coming off of seven years with the DSLR, I rarely if ever shot full manual; I was more of an aperture priority kind of girl. The Wee Beastie is making me want to become a more technical photographer, and I’m thrilled about it!

Downward Dog Yoga Centre

Downward Dog Yoga Centre

Checking out VHS tapes outside of an antique shop

Checking out VHS tapes outside of an antique shop

Loft

Loft

I didnt realize it when I took this photo, but I know this guy! I love how surprising this was.

I didnt realize it when I took this photo, but I know this guy! I love how surprising this was.

I've always wanted to try these places but somehow never have

I’ve always wanted to try these places but somehow never have

Roman Holidaying it outside of American Apparel

Roman Holidaying it outside of American Apparel

A family dressed in sailor outfits cross University Ave.

A family dressed in sailor outfits cross University Ave.

The shot that made me want to master shutter control

The shot that made me want to master shutter control

While there is definitely room to grow with the quality of these photos, I’m really in love with this camera. It’s so light and quick, and fun to use, and I can see street photography becoming a new passion as my confidence increases. I’m looking forward to expanding my arsenal of lenses to include the super low-profile 14mm pancake lens for even more quick and dirty street shots in a few weeks’ time!

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