i left around 10:00 this morning (via bike) for the (first annual) halloween canine promenade happening on the esplanade in boston. it's basically a halloween parade for dogs, a half mile route along the banks of the charles river with grand marshall dylan dreyer,1 WHDH morning meteorologist. participants gathered in front of the lotta fountain (between berkeley and clarendon street).
i felt a little self-conscious being there without a costumed dog, but i wasn't the only one who was there just to watch the spectacle. most of the animals were small dogs, but there were a few medium-sized pooches, and some large ones as well. whatever the size, there were so many dogs there (and their leashes) that it created a road block, as joggers and bikers tried to make it through the canine gauntlet. owners were encouraged to dress up as well, and a few came in matching costumes. for some reason there was at least 4 dogs dressed as bees (which is surprisingly, because the most popular halloween costume for dogs is the devil).
the parade started at 11:00. my familiarity with the esplanade allowed me to catch the route at 3 different locations: once when they first started, on the other side of the canal, and when they had a closing loop back to the starting point.
some of the costumes were pretty creative. a woman came dressed as a lumberjack, her dog in a beaver costume. there was a little dog in a bruins outfit with a miniature stanley cup. a great dane dressed as a horse arrived with an owner dressed as a jockey. another woman dressed up as orko (esoteric 1980's he-man reference) with her dog dressed as a battle cat with a little he-man action on its back. finally, the best ensemble costume was a group that showed up as characters from the wizard of oz. dylan dreyer brought her own terrier, which disappointingly was only dressed in a color bandanna around its neck.
leaving boston, i rode in the direction of cambridge, where the head of the charles was happening. i'd never seen the head of the charles from the starting point before. a bunch of rowers were in the staging area (outside of MIT) waiting for their event to start. definitely a lot less spectators than in harvard square (the finish line).
it got easier to travel once i got close to harvard square, since they closed off memorial drive starting from western avenue, so i rode my bike on the empty road. i noticed the barricades around the edge of the weeks foot bridge, normally a very popular spot for spectators. i was afraid the bridge closing would drive more people to the eliot bridge, but when i got there, there was still a few empty spots left.
i got to eliot bridge by noontime and didn't leave until 2:00. spectators to either side of me had already changed 3-4 times by the time i left. today's temperature was barely supposed to break 60°F but on the bridge with the sun shining down, it felt downright hot. i might've also been overdressed, wearing my fleece hoodie with a down vest.
i caught the tail end of the men club singles followed by the women. next i saw the club fours, then the club eights.
besides coming to the head of the charles to watch the spectacle, i'm also there to get some photography practice. today i was trying out a new technique called back button autofocus. apparently this is what the "pros" use when they shoot action shots. normally when i press the shutter button halfway down, that's when it focuses. but i can change the setting of my canon XT so that the shutter button just takes the photo,2 while the focusing is done with another button on the back of the camera. why would you ever want to do that? that's what i thought when i first heard about this technique. but by separating the two functions, i can do a continuous autofocus while i'm holding down the back button and take the photo without worrying about the image being out-of-focus.
it's difficult to explain, that's why i wanted to try it out for myself. at first it took some getting used to, as i'd hit the shutter button halfway trying to get it to focus but it didn't. but using this technique, most of my photos came out clear, when normally a lot more would be blurry because i'd lose the focus (especially for moving options). to be honest, it wasn't entirely a controlled experiment, because the sun was also pretty bright, so i was hitting shutter speeds upwards of 1/1600 seconds. i was also shooting in 400 ISO, and as large an aperture as possible (f4.0 to f5.6 with my 70-300mm telephoto lens). shutter speed is pretty important when it comes to action shots; at one point i was shooting in 100 ISO and f8.0 aperture, and a lot of those photos came out blurry with shutter speeds of 1/100 to 1/125 seconds.
i've photographed the head of the charles a bunch of times but i'm still not sure what's the best angle to shoot from. i like the overhead from a bridge versus standing on the shore and getting only a side view. but the boats go by so fast, i only have a few seconds at most to snap as many photos as possible before they're far gone. even from overhead, i'm not sure if the best view is slightly off to the side, or directly on top (i like to think off to the side is a bit better).
instead of going home, i went to the cafe where my mother was working today. i was surprised to see my father there as well, because i thought he was at home. i rode to belmont because my mother said she might want to visit one of the nearby crafts stores. the weather by that point had changed. the sun was still shining, but there was definitely more overcast. the clouds overhead looked ominous, like tornado cells. despite the dramatic clouds, there was never any rain.
my mother later decided against going out, since she already has way too much yarn. instead she hunkered down to get her knit on.
my sister was cutting hailey's nails when the dog gave a loud yelp. my sister had cut too deeply and hailey was bleeding. as befitting her personality, my sister said it wasn't her fault because hailey moved as she was cutting. i told her the dog was in shock, trying to force her on a guilt trip.
close to dinner time my godmother called to say she was coming over the house with a delivery. that forced everyone in a mad rush to clean up before she arrived. an hour later and close to 7:00 she was still there. i was starving, having just had a simple sandwich for breakfast, my stomach already grumbling earlier while watching the head of the charles. my mother and my godmother were still talking, with no end in sight. i thought i could drop a subtle signal by pretending to leave, but when my godmother didn't take the hint, i left for real, riding back home in a foul mood, deprived of a home cooked meal.
back in cambridge, tonkatsu leftovers saved the day.
1 i kind of have a crush on dylan, since i watch her during the day for the latest weather report. having met her in person, she seems different from my expectations. maybe i'm just so used to her reporting the weather, it's weird seeing her talk and not tell me something about the forecast.
2 actually, the shutter button also meters the light, but that's something else.