My Highlight of Space City Con Jan 2014: Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

As convention highlight goes the Phoenix Comicon was Excellent, with the “Promise panel” where Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS) told the story of Michael O’Hare’s illness leading to his departure from Babylon 5 after the first season. That was the absolute highlight of any convention for me and probably for the few hundred other fans attending the panel.

The other highlight was, of course the Reunion Panel with 14 people involved in creating Babylon 5, including JMS.

Come Space City Con in the beginning of January in Galveston, Texas.

One of the guests, Marshall Teague, was probably the most approachable of the guests from the Babylon 5 cast – with Jason Carter as a close second. Mind you, essentially all the Babylon 5 cast is very appreciative of the fans

First of all, on Friday evening, just having met with Jan (Schroeder), we entered the lift. He was in the lift already, and immediately started greeting every one of the fans there – personally – handshake and all. It gave us all the sense of a very gentle man.

He had also brought the sword of Ta’Lon and displayed it in public for the first time. At the “Narn” Panel he told that JMS had asked for some input for the character. This sword was his input to JMS for creating the character of Ta’Lon (aptly named after a talon, this sounds very much like JMS) .

At the last hour of the con I took time to go to all the B5 cast still present at their tables, and thank them for coming to see us fans.

I walked up to his table and did just that, when he asked “Have you seen the sword ?” “No, not really”. It was hanging on the wall behind him, but I had not seen it close-up.
He then invited me behind the table and took it down from the wall and handed it to me. I took and held sheathed sword carefully, studying it, knowing that is is a personal treasure for him.
I was standing there holding the sword of Ta’Lon in my hands.

I then was startled that he asked me to “Draw it !” I looked at him in the “Really ?” questioning look, and he repeated. Carefully I drew the sword and held it, felt the weight and balance, carefully moved it a bit around, then re-sheathed it.

Sword of Ta'Lon

Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

I was stunned when he told me “Apart from me, you are the first person I allowed to draw the sword.”

I have no idea why this honour was bestowed on me, and I am pretty sure that my face looked absolutely ridiculous at that moment.

The morning after the con I talked to some of the people who accompanied him during the con, and they already knew the story, *he* had told *them*. They also told me that he was very particular about who could handle the sword.

When they heard that no pictures of the situation were taken, they kindly arranged for a picture to be taken, so on Monday evening I was holding the sword once again, this time for a picture with Marshall Teague.

A most extraordinary experience. I doubt that I will reach that level of excitement again at a convention, but then again, I thought that about the JMS “Promise Panel” at Phoenix CC. But The sword of Ta’Lon was a personal experience, and not shared with a few hundred people.

Update :
When thinking a bit about it, I realized that this is the first time that I have been recognized as a martial artist by another martial artist – without doing or saying anything consciously.
Interesting.

New Header picture, and some travel news.

I have installed a new theme for the blog.
The old one seems to have developed some errors in the rendering, and I did not have the inclination to look into the CSS or PHP code.
On top of that, The theme had some stock images (not too bad), but I decided to make my own Header Image.
The image is a crop of a photo I took a few weeks ago in Arizona.
Yes, I travelled to the USA in order to visit the Phoenix Comicon, since they had a celebration of the 20th anniversary for Babylon 5. How could I resist that ? 14 of the cast – well it ended up being 13, Bruce Boxleitner got work and had to cancel – and the creator of the series (“Great Maker”) Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS), in among others a big reunion panel on Saturday.

When travelling from Europe to the South West of the US, do you only go there for 4 days at a convention, and nothing else ? Of course I had to combine the convention with some travel in California, Arizona and Nevada, so I spent 2 weeks total in that area, and took a fair amount of photos. I was driving about 1900 miles (close to 3000km) in 7 days of driving.

One of them has now landed as the Header image for this blog. It is taken near Sedona in Arizona.

Apart from the convention the trip took me to :
San Francisco,
Joshua Tree National Park,
The area near Sedona, yes, all the red rocks,
Grand Canyon,
The Hoover Dam,
Passing by “Area 51”,
Yosemite National Park

Quite a lot in 2 weeks, and I had to cancel a few destinations I wanted to see, such as the Petrified Forest and the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

The trip is clearly too short for what I wanted to see, so I may have to go to the area again some time to complete the experience.

I have organized the pictures from the convention, and I am in the process of organizing the pictures from the rest of the trip.

Expect to read more about the trip later.

The convention pictures can be found at : http://jgander.home.xs4all.nl/photo/phoenix2013/index.html

Have fun if you take a look.

– and 2 weeks before the Phoenix CC I went to the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany. Probably not the last time I do that, especially since it is only a few hours drive from where I live right now. Pictures will be sorted out for that one, too.
I expect to look through pictures from more conventions after that, most likely in the autumn/fall this year.

Weeky Photo #20 : Dutch Windmills

Near The Hague in The Netherlands we find these Windmills.

In the days of old they were used to pump water out of the low lying areas surrounded by dikes (polders).

Nowadays the pumping is done by diesel- and electric engines, so these three have people living there.

The picture is taken at a time when I had not yet learned the advantages of RAW shooting, so it is simply a JPEG with a few adjustments.

3 Windmills

Dutch Windmills

Photo of the week #19 Portrait of an Owl

I love this picture. How do you get close enough to get such a picture of an owl ?

Easy, you go to the zoo and watch the “Birds of Prey” show, and then stay after the show to chat a bit.

You may not end up with a picture like this every time, but I had a bit of luck with the timing.

Owl

Portrait of the Owl

Weekly Photo #18 : Qingdao Skyline

The trip to China yielded many interesting pictures.

This one comes from the area of Qingdao where the Olympic sailing competitions took place.
The only drawback is the grey weather which was all to common during most of the trip.
The Chinese sense of colour shines through in this picture, too.

Looking at this picture, the Chinese do a lot of building construction, don’t they ?

Qindao Skyline

Bridge and skyline, Qingdao, China

Quick Photo Experiment – Paper Photo Scan San Fransisco

Here is a quick example of what can be done with a quick scan of a paper photo.
This photo is 15 – 20 years old, from a trip to California, this one is from San Fransisco. More edits of the text possible.

This is a quick experiment:
1) Scanning the paper photo with a cheap paper photo scanner
2) Using photoshop elements for shadow/highlight enhancement
3) Slight sharpening using Unsharp Mask

I need to try making a scan of the negative (I expect that is in the folder)
I consider it possible to do that with my existing Digital camera and some good, even white background. It will probably not be as good as a professional scan, but likely better than the paper scan.

Comments are welcome on this subject.

Colour image :

San Fran colour

San Fransisco by day

B/W image :

San Fran BW

San Fransisco by day BW

Edit :

Dia-copyer received, after a bit of experimentation I succeeded in getting a decent colour from a negative “scan” (RAW photo), it ended up like this after a bit of processing :

SanFranNegativePhotoScan

The picture “scanned” with a digital camera

Edit2 :
Testing with noise reduction :

SanFranNR

SanFran with noise reduction

Photo of the Week #17 : Mountains near Qindao

Taken at Laoshen near Qindao, this is a picture I did a bit of adjustment on

When I looked at the RAW picture it looked a bit dull. The adjustment is simple, a bit of highlight and shadow adjustment followed by contrast adjustment via Levels.

No sharpening, just reduced the size of the image to make it suitable for the blog.

Laoshan Lake and mountains

A lake due to a dam, Laoshan Mountains

As an experiment I made a black and white version, and I actually like that one, too.

Laoshan Lake B/W

Laoshan : Lake and mountains, B/W.

I think that both pictures are good.
Which one do *you* like best ?

Photo of the Week #16 : Making Waves

The daily walk to work and back is yet again the basis for this weekly picture.

I was looking a bit at this and decided that the distorted reflections were an excellent opportunity.

The picture has been cropped a bit for a better view, that’s all. The old Canon Pro 1 did well for this exposure.

Making Waves

Making Waves

Photo of the Week #15 Misty Opportunity

I always bring a camera with me, even if I just walk to work. You never know which opportunities arise. – Even if it is just a small compact camera.

One autumn morning when walking to work in the mist this was one of the sights. Taken with a Canon A610 compact, one that only allows JPEG images :

Misty

Into the mist . . . click on image for a larger version