Star Wars and other cosplayers in Calgary for the annual  POW! Parade of Wonders @calgaryexpo

On the POW line: Boussh in between the Rebels and the Bounty Hunters at the Parade of Wonders, Calgary Expo.
© J. Ashley Nixon

POW! Parade of Wonders

The Calgary Expo got wired up today with its fifth annual appearance of a host of cosplayers, showing off their brand new costumes and love for pop culture. As parts in the POW! Parade of Wonders, they walked through a massive downtown crowd of cheering onlookers along 8th Avenue and Stephen Avenue towards Olympic Plaza.

Structured around themed groups, POW! included Harry Potter book characters, Spidermen (lots of them), other Marvel favourites and more, headed up by the BassBus, belting out film tunes. Also up front was Mayor Naheed Nenshi, perched in the back of a nice and flash-looking Range Rover convertible, not on a horse, his usual mode of transport in the Calgary Stampede. Once gathered in the Plaza, Mayor Nenshi, came up on stage, greeted the dressed-up crowd with enthusiasm and officially opened Expo for another year.

Princess Leia Organa on the steps of Olympic Plaza during the POW! Parade of Wonders, opening up the Calgary Expo.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Princess Leia in the Plaza as the Storm Troopers come in

Princess Leia Organa made her way across the steps of the Plaza and might just have paused for a moment as a big outfit of Storm Troopers went past. They belonged to the 501st Legion TK 6944 Badlands Garrison, part of an international volunteer organization who dress up a lot for fun as well as raising money for charity.

Commanding Officer of the 501st Legion TK6944 Badlands Garrison guarding the Calgary Tower at the start of Calgary Expo.
© J. Ashley Nixon

I had an inter-galactic conversation with their Commanding Officer, Allen Shortt dressed in his complete, menacing Shadow Storm Trooper outfit and his partner, Lorri-Ann. She was in civvies, busy directing traffic for this villainous group of cosplayers who play characters within the expanded universe of books, video games, and toys that go beyond the Star Wars movies.

Playing next to the 501st Legion troopers was their sister organization, the Rebel Legion, who focus their appearances on the good guys in the Galactic Empire. The Mandalorians, hailing from the planet Mandalore in George Lucas’s Star Wars were also there. Best known for the character Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back, this group is more diverse in the expanded universe and includes warriors, mercenaries and bounty hunters as well as more passive folks.

The Rebel Legion-the good guys in the Galactic Empire- on duty at the start of Calgary Expo.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Boushh: is she a rebel or bounty hunter?

In the middle of this costumed display was a fabulously dressed and masked character that I still cannot decide if she is Rebel or Bounty Hunter. This was Boussh, who is actually Princess Leia in disguise as a bounty hunter in a scene from Return of the Jedi. In the film, she brings her big shaggy prisoner, Chewbacca into a bar to collect a bounty from the slobbery beast, Jabba the Hutt. You can see the video clip here but the big question to end with is where does Boussh fit within the Star Wars universe of cosplayers? I’m going to the Calgary Expo to find out. Somebody, please help me!

Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Art & Design, Calgary, Canada, Cosplay, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capturing the Hawks hockey season: new publication on @BlurbBooks

Book cover: Calgary Hawks celebrate a goal at the Canal Flats tournament,. Canal Flats, BC, Dec 9, 2016.
© J. Ashley Nixon

It’s not the first book I have had published, but that was a while ago and this photo book was the first that I have self-published, using the good services of Blurb.

The complete set

As it says in the introduction to the book: “I don’t recall such an exciting and inspiring season as we had in 2016-17. The complete set was there: a full team of committed players; motivational, positive coaches; and a friendly, fun-loving parent group who got along wonderfully well. In short, a top notch sports and youth development year which saw the Girls Hockey Calgary (GHC) Bantam 1 Hawks travel south across the Canada-US border into Montana, up and down the QE II Highway and north to Edmonton where they won a silver medal at the Alberta Provincial Championships.”

Self-publishing experience with Blurb

I put the concept together using a storyboard which facilitated working out a structure, and the juxtaposition between words and images. Using a mock-up with folded blank pages helped later on when figuring out the number of pages that I could use.

After researching a number of self-publishing possibilities, I landed on Blurb. I liked the templates they offer, the ability to publish with an ISBN and their pretty friendly Help Center. I also liked the idea of being able to put my book into their bookstore along with my profile. Yes, I added some of my blurb on Blurb!

What to watch for

This is not a definitive how-to guide by any means but here are a select few observations from my photo first in self-publishing.

Shaping your photo boxes: It’s probably a good idea on the first go-around to select one of the many templates available. I went with something that suited photography and travel but quickly realized its limitations for my needs and ended up making quite a few layout changes. Creating boxes for text and photographs is a fundamental part of that but look out for the sizing of those photo boxes. It’s hard to see the actual size so some guesswork comes into it. What is important is to match as best as possible the size and orientation of the photo you are selecting to import. Put a landscape picture into a portrait shaped box and you will be battling with the Fit to Frame and Fill to Frame options. Avoid that as much as possible.

Bleeding spines: Getting a photo to bleed, i.e. run through to the edge of the page is a tad fiddly, but after a few goes you get to know how far to pull the images across. Double page spreads, though they are fabulously impactful, will disappoint you and your readers if an important face or other feature is left over the spine area. It’s probably not going to work well so choose double spreads carefully.

Inside covers: It took me a long time to realize why the number of pages I had in my draft book was not working. I eventually found out that Blurb doesn’t print on the inside of the covers. Makes good sense when you know!

Image resolution: The good news is that Blurb accepts pretty large file sizes for the images that you can import. That may surprise you if you have got used to social media publishing which tends towards piddly little files. You can import a file as large as 75 megapixels but I put my own threshold just below, at 70 MP, which is around 35 MB. You may need to change your export settings if you tend to send out your images to Instagram and Facebook. They can be much bigger with Blurb!

So, all in all, a pretty good experience over a couple of days to put my first self-published book out there. If you’re interested, you can preview the first part of the book or purchase from the Blurb Bookstore.

J. Ashley Nixon (2017). Hawks hockey highlights: capturing the 20116-2017 season. Blurb Books, pp 36 (ISBN 9781366025760)




Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Hockey, Photography, Sports, Sports photography, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Determination & belief: @rugbycanada win @HSBCworld7s in Singapore

Lucas Hammond scored the winning try for Canada in the final game versus USA to take the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series cup in Singapore.
© J. Ashley Nixon

First ever win for Canada in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series

A wonderful weekend of rugby was capped on Sunday in Singapore with a historic win by Canada over USA to take the Cup in the latest round of the HSBC World Rugby Series.

In the first minute of the game, Matt Mullins took a slip pass from Harry Jones just inside the USA half and outpaced the fastest man on the pitch, Perry Baker, to score Canada’s first try. Two minutes later, BC Boy Harry Jones from the Capilano Rugby Club passed to John Moonlight, who slipped the ball back inside to Jones who was left open to cruise half the length of the pitch and put the ball down under the posts. The 80th try of his career in World Rugby Sevens and Nathan Hirayama converted with the drop goal.

Great handling skills from the lads in red created another try after Lucas Hammond kicked through for Mike Fuailefau to drop on the ball as it went over the try line. Another conversion by Hirayama and Canada were up by nineteen points.

The Florida Flyer, Perry Baker, put the first points on the board for USA after picking up a loose ball from the tackle inside his own half and beating John Moonlight on the inside. Baker’s season-leading 40th try was converted by Madison Hughes to make it 19-7. Stephen Tomasin squeezed in between Hammond and the left corner flag for Team USA’s second try and with the conversion just missed, the teams went into the break with a lead by Canada, 19-12

Be determined and believe

Canada’s coach, Damian McGrath got in with his team at the interval to say a few words. “Be determined and believe.” the Yorkshireman said, positively. They had shown a lot of spirit and desire so far over the weekend with wins against New Zealand and England in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. But Canada first had to get over a second try from Baker who put on the jets to go, left wing, accelerating past Moonlight and Hirayama to score under the posts. With the drop goal by Hughes, it was 19 points apiece and five minutes to go. Team USA almost took the lead three minutes later as Tomasin went for the line but the four strong defending arms of Fuailefau and Jones jointly held him up, no try.

With less than two minutes on the clock, Lucas Hammond from the Toronto Nomads took a short pass from Nathan Hirayama on the USA ten-metre line, sided stepped a couple of defenders and stormed through to score under the posts.

Final score: USA 19-26 Canada. Precious. Brilliant and awesome!

You can view the match here:

For more rugby images, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography

Canadian rugby fans around the world are celebrating their team’s win in the final versus USA to take the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series cup in Singapore.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Posted in Canada, Photography, Rugby, Sports, Sports photography, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking one for the team: photographing hockey

J. Ashley Nixon showing some facial damage after taking one for the team, filming hockey on the ice.
© Jennifer Nixon

You’re not close enough

As Robert Capa frequently used to say “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”  Capa’s front line was a perilous one, photographing with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, or with the Allies on the D-Day landings in France in 1944. His work led to his untimely death in 1954 when, covering the Indo-China war, he stepped on a landmine.

Stix on the ice

My own line of photography has much less of the risk that Capa was exposed to but it came, nevertheless, with some pain over the weekend while filming and photographing a hockey practice for Global Sport Academy Group.  Paying due homage to the motto of a founder of Magnum Photo, I was on my skates, getting in close to the action with the Stix Hockey Bantam Female Elite teams as they prepared for their Frozen Four competition and the Western Canada tournament in Kelowna, BC, in May.

Unfortunately, I stepped in the way of a puck flung up high and, by the feel of it, produced by a pretty good slap shot by player unknown (darn, I didn’t catch her number!) The missile struck me hard on the cheekbone close to my left eye. By good fortune, there was no ocular damage but the blow left me with a shiner to explain to my students the following day.

Wear a helmet!

As the Calgary Flames flew out to California to prepare for their Stanley Cup opener with the Anaheim Ducks, it made me look (feel?) like a hockey player.

Of course, I should have worn a helmet and that is the main takeaway from this story. But I made the choice not to as the visor was impairing my ability to focus the cameras. Maybe I should have cut a hole in the perspex, just like it’s done for the photographers at the NHL games?

For sports photos and more, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography

Stix Hockey Bantam Female Elite practicing at Crowfoot Twin Arenas, Calgary.
© J. Ashley Nixon


Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Hockey, Photography, Sports, Sports photography | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Inside and outside Hip-Hop with Zeko Deshoda at Kawa espresso bar, Calgary

Zeko Deshoda plays their fusion of Hip-Hop, jazz, and R&B at Kawa espresso bar, Calgary, Canada.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Zeko at Kawa

Zeko Deshoda pulled a capacity crowd of appreciative fans into Kawa espresso bar in Calgary on Saturday night. It was standing room only as the band got into an opening jam followed by Dial, Dial, Dial and Craving. Their jump-out from hip-hop begins with lyrics written by Zeko, delivered with zest in front of a band comprising guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and saxophone. There’s a cocktail of influences for many music lovers to enjoy ranging from cool, laid down jazz riffs to funk and R&B plus some Indie tones thrown in for good measure.

Zeko Deshoda play their fusion of Hip-Hop, jazz and R&B at Kawa espresso bar, Calgary, Canada.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Alternative view of Hip-Hop

As the band continued their set, which included just one number from their current album, Early Mornings to Late Nights, I explored an alternative view of Hip-Hop, from the wet pavement of 13th Avenue. It continued to sound good through the glass and the cityscape reflections added a cinematic feel to their performance.

An alternative view on Hip-Hop from Zeko Deshoda playing at Kawa espresso bar, Calgary, Canada

See and hear more…

You can find out more about Zeko Deshoda here and listen to their music here.

For more photographs from the Zeko Deshoda gig, please visit:

J. Ashley Nixon Photography.


A short film on my Vimeo film site is also available here:

Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Music, Photography, Street photography | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

World film premiere and release of Hockey Road Trip: Montana

Photograph from the set of Hockey Road Trip: Montana, a documentary film from Nixon Films
@ J. Ashley Nixon

Hockey road trip documentary film premiere in Edmonton

Hockey Road Trip: Montana had its world premiere last weekend at IceDance, an alternative hockey film event. Programmed to coincide with the Alberta Hockey Provincial Championships, the event attracted a large, receptive audience at the Fairfield Marriott in the great hockey town of Edmonton.

The short (30 min) documentary film follows the Girls Hockey Calgary White Hawks team on their road trip south across the border from Alberta, Canada to Missoula, Montana, USA and their games in the Northern Rockies Classic tournament at Glacier Ice Rink.  It’s the first documentary production in a while to go public from J. Ashley Nixon and NIXON Films.

Photograph featuring coach Mark Maloney from the set of Hockey Road Trip: Montana, a documentary film from Nixon Films
@ J. Ashley Nixon

The film features on and off-ice action, including never seen (or heard) before inspiring commentary from Mark Maloney and his coaching team, inside the dressing room.

See the film on Vimeo

You can view the entire film on Vimeo or by following this link:


Please comment

If you like the film, please leave a comment!

Photograph from the set of Hockey Road Trip: Montana, a documentary film from Nixon Films
@ J. Ashley Nixon

Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Documentary photography, Films, Hockey, NIXON Films, Photography, Sports, Sports photography, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blades edge Hawks in thrilling Bantam Female A final @HockeyAlberta #HAProvincials #ATBProvincials

Action in the final game between Calgary White Hawks and St. Albert Blades at the Alberta Hockey Provincial Championships (Bantam Female A).
© J. Ashley Nixon

The result

It took the three plus hours drive home south to figure out how to write this final feature of the hockey season. First, the result: St. Albert Blades won the Alberta Hockey Bantam Female A Provincial Championships, presented by ATB Financial, on Sunday. Their win against the Girls Hockey Calgary White Hawks was a thrilling contest that ebbed and flowed with energy and passion on the ice.

Ella Kitchen scores for Calgary White Hawks in their final game against St. Albert Blades at the Alberta Hockey Provincial Championships (Bantam Female A).
© J. Ashley Nixon

The performance

St. Albert took the lead in the first period with a goal by Aleena Taylor, her fourth in the tournament, assisted by Marissa Steinke. Calgary drew even in the second when Ella Kitchen put away her sixth goal of the weekend, assisted by Kayla Ironside and Chyenne Risling.  The temperature was moving up towards 212 degrees in Castle Downs Arena on its last day of action before going into renovation for a couple of years. Both teams toughed it out during the final period, determined not to let a goal in. But the Blades put one in with 6′ 42″ on the clock, scored by Anika Neset. Some frantic moments with the goalie pulled were not enough for the Hawks and the score stayed that way: St. Albert Blades 2-1 Calgary White Hawks.

Congratulations to the players, coaches, and parents of the St. Albert team for your well-worked result. Thank you also to the organizers and volunteers for putting on an excellent display of female hockey over the last four days in Edmonton.

Action in the final game between Calgary White Hawks and St. Albert Blades at the Alberta Hockey Provincial Championships (Bantam Female A).
© J. Ashley Nixon

The experience

While winning is, undoubtedly, a pleasurable experience and an ever-increasingly important objective as young people progress through their chosen sports, this is developmental hockey and hockey helps with development. Hockey provides these young female athletes with many life skills: determination and dealing with adversity; friendship, teamwork; and creativity. While most certainly not mutually exclusive, strong is the new pretty.

A pause in the action in the final game between Calgary White Hawks and St. Albert Blades at the Alberta Hockey Provincial Championships (Bantam Female A).
© J. Ashley Nixon

The White Hawks and all the other teams in the Alberta Provincial Championships put in their top effort, built on six months of hard work, dedication, and preparation. The Hawks placed as league leaders without a loss in their season and progressed through the first stages of these provincial playoffs undefeated. Their goal difference was an outstanding 15 points, three times better than their nearest rival, giving testament to both good attack and defense. Calgary players Ella Kitchen and Carolyn Berze finished top in the standings for goals scored and assists.

So the long drive south was without a banner, girls. You came away, however with a silver medal each and many stories to share with friends that will be with you for a lifetime. For all of that, a huge shout out and thank you to the coaching team, Mark Maloney, Dale Risling, Steve Ironside and David Thomas. You are the best. Much appreciation to our manager, Kathy Noonan and to the parents who made it all, and continue to make it all happen for you, the players. As Mike Myers might call the season: “Yeah baby, it’s been brilliant!”

Enjoy your break, girls and take care, wherever your skates take you.

Go Hawks Go!


Posted in #YYC, Calgary, Canada, Hockey, Photography, Sports, Sports photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment