Monday, April 30, 2012

The Beauty of Decay - Inglewood, pt II

More from the urban decay photo adventure from a couple weekends ago in Inglewood - a set of buildings awaiting a refresh, or demolition to make way for something new.  These were the film shots, all taken with a Kiev 88CM on Ilford XP2 Super 400.  The results are super contrasty cause I shot them at 800, but the lab refused to push them the extra stop in processing, and so I had to recover the details in the scanner.

Urban Decay - Hooked

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-4

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-8

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-6

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-7

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-9

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-10

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-11

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-5

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-3

Urban Decay - Inglewood II-2

Urban Decay - Inglewood II

And somewhat related to this theme of beauty in decay, I caught a glimpse of someone from my past at the Comic Con this weekend.  Wasn't sure whether to say hello or not, and by the time I'd decided to take a second pass and see if she was still there, it was too late anyways.  Got me thinking about how far I've come these past 7 years.  Strangely, it was the tragedy and loss of then that led me to the happiness of today.  Semisonic had the truth of it in their (one hit) song, Closing Time.  "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

So this may seem weird and out of the blue, but… thank you.  Anita and I owe you more than you can imagine.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The other side of my other half

The scene - a beautiful summer-like early evening.  The windows are open, and a gentle warm breeze sweeps in through the sliding patio screen door.  The slowly fading rays of the golden sunset filter in through the blinds.  A bird chirps softly off in the distance.

To which Anita mutters: 'Shut up bird.'

Autumn Anita-1

This photo obviously wasn't taken tonight, but the expression she has is what she would've shot the bird if it were in the room.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Urban Decay - Inglewood

James and I went on an urban decay photo adventure in the Inglewood area yesterday, thanks in part to him having access to a set of light industrial buildings that have been out of use for some time...

Urban Decay - Inglewood-17

Urban Decay - Inglewood-1

Urban Decay - Inglewood-3

Urban Decay - Inglewood-8

Urban Decay - Inglewood-13

Urban Decay - Inglewood-4

Urban Decay - Inglewood-5

Urban Decay - Inglewood-6

Urban Decay - Inglewood-7

Urban Decay - Inglewood-11

Urban Decay - Inglewood-12

Urban Decay - Inglewood-15

Urban Decay - Inglewood-16

Urban Decay - Inglewood-18

Urban Decay - Inglewood-10

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Some people collect stamps.  Some people spend their time blogging about suffering the rest of eternity in a lake of fire (that's the moron Wildrose Party candidate, in case you've been an ostrich the past few weeks).  And then some people just can't keep their hands off of cameras and related gear.  To call me a camera nut might be a bit of an understatement.

Camera Family

Camera Family-2

Camera Family-3

Camera Family-4

I had a few minutes of free time, so decided to host a camera family reunion of sorts. Neither of my DSLR's are in this shot, so the total count shown is 25 cameras, only 1 of which is digital (can you pick it out?).  Hint, it's NOT the white camera body with black grip  - that's an iPhone case.

And now I'm off to shoot bikini models in an old abandoned building...  minus the bikini models.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"WTF, was that a UNICORN?!"

This was one of the most unproductive weekends I've had in a long time. The most important thing I accomplished over the two days was having a bowel movement. Oh, no wait. I forgot, we actually went to see The Cabin in the Woods last night. So depending on whether you're a Joss Whedon nerdgeekfanboy or not, dropping a deuce or this movie could duke it out for top spot.

The movie itself was decent, if a bit on the "WTF, was that a UNICORN?!" side of horror films. And in somewhat related Whedon nerd news, we also watched a season 2 episode of Castle, in which Firefly alumnus Nathan Fillion dresses up as a space cowboy (Malcolm Reynolds, brown coat style!) for halloween. So awesome. It was enough to make me crap my pants a little.

Anyways, I didn't want to be a complete waste of precious oxygen today, so I set out to paint something.

Crap Watercolour Sketch

If you didn't get up close and inspect, you'd almost think this was done in markers... but it's actually watercolours over top of a pencil and ink sketch. I'm not terribly pleased with the results, but I'm still learning the medium, obviously. If you don't like it, please feel free to crap all over it in the comments.

You think I referenced bowels enough in this post yet? Shit...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

No Patience, No Talent - Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Edition

I'm on a real sketching kick lately. This is a half successful attempt at recreating the poster for the US version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I say half successful as the girl actually looks like Lisbeth in the original poster (as played by Rooney Mara), while the dude looks nothing like Mikael Blomkvist (as played by Daniel Craig).

This movie kicked ass, by the way. I would actually say it rivalled, if not outright surpassed, the Swedish original.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Monday, April 9, 2012

No Patience. No Talent. Part Deux.

I went looking for colourful socks at the mall yesterday, and I overheard this rather L-A-R-G-E man in the Gap say to his equally large friend, "I don't think I can fit into these slim fit shirts anymore." And I know this is going to sound mean spirited, but my first thought was, "Dude, I don't think you could fit into these slim fit shirts 300 hot dogs ago."

And if you're thinking, "Wow, George is a dick, Karma's gonna get him, he'll probably get hit by a car", well you'd almost be right. We narrowly missed getting smashed to bits this morning by a moron turning left, but only looking right for traffic while doing so.

Anyways, on with the show. I present to you, part two of my No Patience, No Talent sketches. Did this one tonight. 2H, 2B, and 3B pencils. Spent a little more time with this one, but still, got antsy towards the end, and did the old 'random scribbles throughout' to avoid having to actually put in correct detail. Commence slagging now.

G Star Raw Ad 2

No Patience. No Talent.

A quick sketch I did in my moleskine tonight. In a sure sign that I have less patience as I grow older (which is sad, considering I was really impatient in my youth), I stopped trying to get the details in the fabric right after spending about 20 minutes on this sketch. Once I hit the 20 min mark, I sort of gave up, grabbed a 3B pencil and just started broad stroking to fill in enough to call it a day. 1) No patience. 2) No talent. I guess I'm just physically incapable of producing a masterpiece...

G Star Raw Ad

Friday, April 6, 2012

Montreal in Random Photos - Part 2

I'm uploading a second set of randoms from Montreal while Anita slowly wakes from her marathon 20hr sleep (okay, maybe I exaggerate just a touch)... funny story, yesterday we were talking about Kris Kross (remember them? Wiggity Wiggity Wiggity Wack), and I was telling her about how they only had one hit. And she was like, "Oh they're a 'One Song Hitter', right?" Sometimes her slightly incorrect use of colloquial terms is pretty funny.

Anyways, on with the show. JUMP JUMP. Mac Daddy make ya...

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-1

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-2

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-3

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-4

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-5

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-9

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-6

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-7

Montreal Randoms - Part 2-8

In order from top to bottom:
1) Beautiful homes in an affluent neighbourhood just south of Sherbrooke Metro Station.
2) Dinner at the 'good luck getting in if you don't have a reservation' Au Pied De Cochon.
3) We didn't have reservations, but managed to snag the one remaining table anyways. Anita had the Duck in a Can, which was literally served to you out of the can. It was fantastic.
4) Street Art involving Batman... kickass.
5) Another film shooting student I spotted during the massive student protest. She was rocking a Mamiya C3 TLR.
6) Breakfast at St. Viateur's, famous for their fresh bagels
7) Decor at Khyber Pass, an awesome Afghan restaurant next door to Au Pied De Cochon.
8) Beautiful architecture in the square surrounding Basilica Notre-Dame.
9) A delicious savoury crepe with eggs, ham, bacon, and maple syrup.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Test Drive - Alien Skin Exposure 4 for Lightroom

A year ago, I checked out the Alien Skin Exposure 3 plugin for Lightroom, and wrote up a brief review of this film simulation software. I've since had a chance to test out the latest offering, so here's a quick review of Exposure 4. And if you don't feel like doing this thing called R-E-A-D-I-N-G you can just skip to the bottom and look at the pictures.

The original:

Exposure 4 review-5

To start off, Exposure 4 is on the pricey side. $259 or so for the brand new bundle. The nice thing is that you get the plugin for both Lightroom and Photoshop, so you can use it in either environment. But still, considering the new Lightroom 4 is only $150 for a new user, and about $80 for an upgrade, $259 for this effects plugin seems high to me. However, having said that, the software itself is very snappy, and gives you hundreds of options in adding that bit of nostalgic flare to your otherwise sterile digital photos. Many purists would argue that you could just shoot film to get that film look… but this point is becoming increasingly moot considering the rapid demise of film stocks (I'm looking at you, Kodak!), and the decreasing prevalence of local labs that will process anything but 35mm C-41 films. It's tough enough finding labs that will process E-6 or true black and white film, let alone ones that will do these in 120 size. That's like finding a unicorn in a hay stack... or something. Anyways, I digress.

Exposure 4 - The pros: As in the previous version, every major film stock and look you want to emulate is built in and ready to tweak to your liking. They've now even broken out film stocks like Kodachrome by version or era (that emulsion went through a huge number of changes during it's 70+ year run, and you can pick and choose the period of Kodachrome you want to simulate). The factory settings let you choose from Color print and slide films, Polaroids (just the colour and look, not the white borders), Vintage processes like daguerrotypes and calotypes, Cross processing of various print and slide films, Black & White films, and a good handful of Lo-fi effects. Essentially, if you want to replicate a the look of your favourite film stock or process, the factory presets do a pretty good job with just one click.

In version 3, you had further control over colour, tone, focus (blur, halation, etc), grain, and 'age' (dust, scratches, vignetting). These have all been retained in version 4, and most have received minor upgrades in terms of how you tweak them. The 'Age' function is where I noticed a large addition of functionality. No longer are you limited to adding some not terribly convincing dust and scratches, but now they've added things like light leaks, paper textures, a limited set of borders, and a couple other things that give you full control over how truly aged, vintage, or lo-fi you want your photo to look. The dust and scratches are far more convincing in this version (they look much more true to life like scratches you would see on mistreated negatives) than the previous version, and the light leaks options offer an endless array of randomly generated leaks to give even a Holga toting hipster some pause. If you thought Tumblr was full of faux vintage photos before, wow, are you ever in for it going forward.

The biggest beef I had with Exposure 3 was that when you launched the plugin, you had to choose upfront between either making B&W edits, or colour edits. You couldn't flip back and forth between these without relaunching the plugin. Apparently, Alien Skin has grown a bit of common sense and realized how incredibly stupid and annoying that was, so they have integrated B&W and colour into one module. YAY! For me, that alone would be worth the upgrade.

On the con side, I still wish they had included something like a history or state palette, so that you could easily compare various effects that you had applied, or jump back to previous edits/ changes made. Sure, you can click back and forth between any number of factory preset options as comparison, but there is no fast way to do this if you add your own tweaks to the presets, outside of saving each tweak as a custom user preset. Not terribly handy if you just want to quickly compare your work. I also dislike that there is still no way to add multiple effects to a photo in the plugin. For example, in the 'age' menu, you can choose between adding 'dust and scratches' and 'light leaks'. But there is no custom way to add both to a photo, except where a factory preset with both of these is present. And in those cases, you can't independetly control one vs. the other. Minor annoyance, but still.

I could go on and on for pages about all the other functions and features of Exposure 4, but nothing beats letting photos speak for themselves. Here are just a few examples I generated from the above raw photo I took in Montreal a couple weeks ago of a girl's film camera.

The edits: Dust and scratches, vintage low contrast, cross processed Provia w/ light leaks, and lo-fi b&W.

Alien Skin Exposure 4 Plugin

Exposure 4 review-4

Exposure 4 review-2

Exposure 4 review

Overall, Exposure 4 builds solidly upon the successes of 3, while taking into account some of the flaws of the previous version, and ultimately takes a few of the features to new heights. If you are anything like me (ie: averse to spending hours in Photoshop just to edit one single photo), then Exposure 4 is a great option to add a bit of filmy impact to your images. Just, please don't over do it. The world is already chock full of instagram and hipstamatic shooters pretending to be 'art' photographers. You know the cliche, too much of a good thing…