Saturday, December 8, 2012

My annual year end soapbox rant... and a photo mosaic

This is a little earlier than I usually do this, but seeing as we're leaving tomorrow morning for 'Nam, and not coming back till 2013, I guess this will be my final post for the year.

We're in the midst of a season of gluttony and overindulgent consumerism, and while we toss away unfathomable amounts of money on meaningless trinkets and junk, I'm hoping these few words can serve as a reminder that there are many struggling folks that could use a helping hand... whether that's a donation to a food bank or charity providing services for the needy, or volunteering to help out at whatever social agency you see fit, I'm hoping that we can all find the time to think of those beyond our immediate circles, and give back to society for all that it provides for us.

For my part, I chose to do something that has significant meaning on a personal level. A little context: this time of year always brings back emotional memories of my childhood - I LOVED this time of year, but for reasons entirely different than the average middle class child. We were poorer than poor (I remember living in a house that was so badly insulated, the front door would freeze shut from the inside, and we had to chip the ice off with a cleaver just to get out). So rather than gifts of toys and other fun things, we were told at a young age that we were too old for money wasters like that. They simply could not afford them, and rather than sugar coat the reality of our situation, they told us like it was. And so while we did not receive much in the way of fun and entertaining gifts, I still LOVED the fact that catalogs and flyers of all the latest cool toys and games would be printed and delivered with the papers. I remember staring at each and every page of these toys for weeks on end, imagining how much fun they'd be to play with. And as sad as that sounds, that truly was satisfying, because that was the best we could make of the cards we'd been dealt. So this year, we decided to buy up a bunch of toys to donate, hoping that some children in similar circumstances to that of my youth won't have to spend weeks looking at toy catalogs, dreaming of what it'd be like to have something for himself.

If you've read this far, I plead with you to take a few minutes and do something that has meaning to you for those in need. That would be better than any 'trinket' or 'gift' you could get me.

With that, I want to leave you with two things: 1) a mosaic of my year in photography, and 2) wishes for a wonderful holiday season filled with the love of friends and family, good food, and as much drink as you can handle without regretting it the next morning. Cheers!


The Year in Photos

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Confessions of a Cameraholic - pt. 2

I ran a test roll of Ilford XP2 Super 400 through the Pentax 6x7 last weekend. I'm quite pleased with the results - the 105mm f/2.4 lens is killer. Not quite sold on the 165mm yet, but I did only shoot a couple things indoors with it. Can't wait to try this lens outdoors for some portraits. Who wants to come for a portrait session? Promise I'll do my best to not make you look fat.

We leave for Vietnam in just over 72 hours. Shiat, I have a lot of stuff left to do before then. Someone please find me that time stopping sub-weapon from Castlevania.

More Camera Porn

120 Camera Porn

Asahi Pentax 6x7 Test Shots-2

Asahi Pentax 6x7 Test Shots

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Confessions of a Camera-holic

I've officially lost my mind. I bought my 30th camera this week (25th film one at that). This is my new (to me) Asahi Pentax 6x7 medium format SLR, with 105mm f/2.4 and 165mm f/2.8 lenses). It's a beauty - I'm going to borrow a description from that Chinese newspaper/ The Onion's declaration of Kim Jong Un as Sexiest Man Alive - and say that this beast is 'Devastatingly Handsome.' You don't get a true sense of scale from looking at these photos but it's a tank, weighing in at over 5.5lbs (and a bit heavier when mounted with the 165mm f/2.8 lens). When the shutter is fired, the mirror slap sound is like cocking a shotgun on steroids. Oh the glorious photo adventures we will go on.

Asahi Pentax 6x7-4

Asahi Pentax 6x7

Asahi Pentax 6x7-2

Asahi Pentax 6x7-3

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Demilitarized Zone and Joint Security Area

Anita and I will be spending a couple days in Korea on the tail end of our Vietnam trip next month, and we will be hitting up the DMZ and JSA where (if we are lucky), we may get a chance to physically step over the border into the DPRK (albeit inside a UN building that technically straddles both sides of the Military Demarcation Line).

While this series of photos was taken in Calgary, the setting of this scene is pretty much how I envision the Bridge of No Return would look. The bridge's name is a reference to its history in prisoner exchanges between the two Koreas - if you crossed over it, you would not be allowed to go back. Up until recently, I hadn't gotten excited about our upcoming adventures in SE Asia, but now I am getting super stoked. Some people love laying on the beach for a week. Us? We go to places like Chernobyl and Sarajevo to see the remains of devastation first hand. Hoping to add one more place to that list.





Saturday, November 24, 2012

Life Drawing at Harcourt House

A recent life drawing session at Harcourt House. I wasn't feeling the poses this time, so there was a bit of goofing around instead of sketching. Regardless, these are a few results that I liked - Pentel Pocket Brush, White Chalk Pastel, and Conte Crayons.

Life Drawing at Harcourt House-4

Life Drawing at Harcourt House-6

Life Drawing at Harcourt House-7

Life Drawing at Harcourt House-2

Life Drawing at Harcourt House-3

Life Drawing at Harcourt House-5

Life Drawing at Harcourt House

Life Drawing at Harcourt House - Texture
This last one is a 100% crop of a scanned page. I liked the look of the fibrous texture of this paper, interacting with the ink and chalk media.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rummel Lake: Through the Viewfinder

One of the best parts about shooting with a medium format film rig like the Hasselbald (or in my case, the poor man's Hasseblad - the Kiev88) is the ability to use a waist level finder. Rather than bringing your camera up to eye level and looking through a small pentaprism or a digital LCD, you get to compose your shot by looking down on the scene as it enters your lens and is projected upwards onto a focussing screen. The first time people see this, they often think they're looking at a digital image, which it's not. I know the first time I encountered this on a Mamiya twin lens reflex camera, I felt like a caveman seeing his first TV - 'What kind of charlatan sorcery is this?!'

Shooting with a WLF takes a bit of getting used to, as the image projected is right side up, but inverted left to right. It really forces you to slow down and think about your composition (you have to check the digital mentality of 'shoot first, edit later' at the door). While this may not be convenient for fast moving scenes or subjects, you will learn so much more about photography and composition this way than just by snapping a million photos and hoping one turns out.

Sorry to get all preachy on you. The point of this post was to show you some images shot through the viewfinder (TTV) of my Kiev last weekend, while out snowshoeing. For you newbie photographers, TTV is a technique where you use one camera to shoot a scene through the viewfinder of another camera. If you want a visual of how to do this, see the last photo - point digital camera down at the WLF of another camera. It's THAT simple, and also gives you some interesting images that you don't have to 'filter' with Instagram or other crap to make it look 'vintage'. The scratches, dust, and other imperfections in the focussing screen all show up on your TTV shot.

Rummel Lake TTVs

Rummel Lake TTVs-5

Rummel Lake TTVs-4

Rummel Lake TTVs-3

Rummel Lake TTVs-2

Rummel Lake TTVs-6

If you feel you need a bit more instruction on how to shoot TTVs, drop me a line in the comments. Cheers!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stars and Metric, Live at the Corral

Anita and I went to catch the Stars and Metric show this week at the Stampede Corral. First off - the Corral is one of the WORST venues in the world for concerts. You could hear a better show by tying an a.m radio to your head, putting on some earmuffs, and diving underwater. Just SHIT acoustics for anyone who isn't directly in front of the stage. We didn't shell out the 120 bucks for general admission floor tix, so we were relegated to the peasant seats (shudder) around the rink, which exacerbated the acoustical nightmare even more.

The show itself was also a bit of a let down for me because I'm THAT guy in the crowd screaming for the band to play their obscure older material (ie: circa early 2000's). Many kids in the crowd were probably still single digit aged then. I may as well have been demanding the merch table be stocked with cassette tapes... GAAAWWD I'm old.

Anyways, a few photos for you - two of the Stars, who despite playing only a couple tracks off their fantastic LP Set Yourself On Fire, still tickle that warm and fuzzy spot for me. And the latter two photos are of Metric, whose set largely ignored their two brilliant LPs Old World Underground and Live It Out in favour of recent radio friendly singles. blegh... But at least they did play Black Sheep, which some of you may recognize as one of the songs from the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Check the video below I captured of that one.

The Stars




For the camera nerds: all photos and video shot with the Sony RX-100. Shot at ISO 1600 because the lens slows down to f/4.9 at the long end. The jpgs straight out of camera were so clean that I ended up adding back some 'grain' to give the images a more concert feel to them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Showshoeing Rummel Lake

Kris and Nic came down for the weekend, and rather than spend the entirety of it drinking and eating and drinking like last time, we went out for a winter adventure in the mountains. We trekked out to the Spray Lakes area, and snowshoed in towards Rummel Lake. Sadly, we had a late start, so ran out of light before making it to the lake, but the alpine forest winterscapes we did see were beautiful. I love snow ghosts.

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-8

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-9

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-6

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-7

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-10

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-12

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-3

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-4

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-5

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-18

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-13

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-14

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-15

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-16

Snowshoeing Rummel Lake-17

Monday, November 5, 2012

A poor segway into the photos...

Who's ready for the endless media circus of election night coverage tomorrow? The past few months of political fencing and media spin from both sides of the great divide that is US ideology have been both entertaining and infuriating at the same time. Infurtertaining!

But frankly, the rhetoric is getting old, the GOP can't open their mouths without something about "Rape-be-damned abortion is evil" falling out, and the left has spent more time spawning comedic internet memes than they have actually addressing issues faced by the middle class they claim to champion.

Personally, I'm just looking forward to a day in the near future where the Four Horsemen (Obama, Romney, Bettman, and Fehr) aren't the headline newsmakers, for a change.

As a poor segway into the photos, I'll lead off with a Parisien publication's front cover. My skills en Francais are rather lacking, but I'm pretty sure the headline refers to Romney as an alien. The other few photos are just sights seen in France that I liked and wanted to share.



French Sights-2

French Sights-3

French Sights