Monday, March 29, 2010

First day of work

A cold wet College street

I woke up early to go to work today. It was raining. By the time I got out of the house it was 5am. The sun hadn't come up yet. For all intensive purposes it was still night. It was wet and cold and I was making my way over to the Sutton Place hotel at Bay and Wellesley or there abouts. It would be in front of a garbage bin that I would be picked up by Harrison (the visual effects coordinator) and driven out to Stouffville for my first day working on The Thing. I didn't forget what I was working on. It's not something, it's the Thing as in a movie like the John Carpenter's Thing from the 80s.

Parking Lot

There's an interesting thing about morning outings. Maybe it's the light, the lack of people, maybe the water washed all over the roads. Makes for some great photos. I didn't have a lot of time to soak up the surroundings (I realize that that was a bad pun) as I had to make my way across town.

The Timmy's across the street from the garbage bin

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pizza Time

Today's pizza

I arrived home early and made a pizza. Today's toppings included: mushrooms, purple onions, pepperoni, cheese, Prego spaghetti sauce, and asparagus.

Pizza crust

While the technique for making a pizza round still needs work, the pizza was quite tasty.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rice Crispex Squares

  • 4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 2 cups Crispex cereal
  • 250 gram bag of mini marsh mallows
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  1. melt butter in pot until liquid
  2. add marsh mallows
  3. add vanilla
  4. stir marsh mallows until uniformly melted
  5. add cereal, careful not to crush, by stirring into marsh mallow goo
  6. turn off heat
  7. pour mixture into glass tray
  8. spread around so that it's even
  9. let cool

Additional notes

You can pretty much use 6 cups of any type of cereal you want. Originally this recipe called for just Rice Krispies. Since I like Crispix I replaced two cups of the Rice Krispies with the Crispix.

Additonal additional notes
I was going for the sci-fi, X-files look with the above photo. The space age food container and lab like lighting. While the food may not look as appetizing with the dramatic sci-fi lighting, it is tasty. Especially just out of the pot. Trust me on this.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Search for a Gretsch

Yonge and Dundas (near the HMV superstore, Future Shop, Best Buy, and the Game shack)

Spent the day looking for a wireless guitar for rock band. Specifically the Gretsch model made during The Beatles rock band game launch. It's supposed to look like George Harrison's guitar.

A while ago, William and I saw the guitar at Toys R Us. It looked a lot better made than the equivalent Guitar Hero version. It was also a bit more money ($90 vs $60). When I see something that there's only one of I should really buy it at the time. In the long run it would have saved me this day to walking around.

Getting lunch in the depressing, cheaply designed, sparse, dundas square mall

I travelled to a few places looking for the guitar. Yonge and Dundas, Yonge and Eglington, Dufferin mall. None of the video game stores had it in stock for the Wii. Actually, there were no Rock Band guitars for the Wii of any model. Guitar Hero or Band Hero yes, Rock Band no.

I never got the guitar today and ended up settling on the purchase of a used copy of the Rock Band AC/DC track pack. It was only $5.

Dufferin mall Toy R Us, no guitar here either.


On the way home from Dufferin mall I saw a blue bear mascot for Boston Pizza. Weird.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Late night snack

Homemade Cinnibon

Made some cinnibons from one of those Pillsbury pre-made can things. While I love the smell of these things I find the icing way too sugary. I'll have to attempt to try to make these things from scratch one day (when I have more time).

Greta Constantine, two for two

FW 2010 Greta Constantine line

The Greta Constantine catwalk tonight was a success. At least to this photographer. The designers, Kirk and Stephen, still coming up with some great designs to wear. This is the second catwalk I've photographed of theirs and the second one I've been impressed with.

For more on the Greta Constantine line click here.

I have to give these guys props for doing their catwalk independent of Toronto Fashion week. Getting a nice venue and having good lighting isn't something that comes cheap. But perhaps not having any association with Toronto Fashion week is a good thing.

Generally only a handful of designers get press during fashion week. It's generally the same designers year after year. The newer designers get nothing in terms of media coverage. For a designer that's a lot of money to shell out for 15 minutes of runway time. Toronto Fashion week was late this year as well. Way after buyers would have bought anything for the fall/winter season.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Canadian Horror

Alan Gordon and Allan Price of Cannibal Girls

There was a screening of Cannibal Girls (1973) at the Bloor Theatre tonight. The two "surprise" guests were the two Allans from the movie. They played the first two victims.

The movie was pitched to me as a movie with Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin, a campy Canadian comedy directed by Ivan Reitman. I found out in the theatre that it was a horror movie that resembled Auntie Lee's Meat Pies... or vice versa since the Canadian movie was made 19 years earlier.

While I'm not really into the horror genre I did find the film entertaining. Probably had more to do with the people that I saw the movie with than the movie by itself.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Made to Measure

The Disto D8

I've been wanting to get one of these for a while. The last job where I needed to measure stuff I had to talk 5 meters through knee deep snow, battle the winds trying to use my trusty tape measure. Improvising by packing one end of the tape measure under a block of ice didn't help. The wind was too strong. Eventually I got a distance and it probably wasn't that accurate. I also permanently bent the metal tape thanks to it folding in on itself.

To measure the height of the camera which was about 20 feet up on a crane was another story. I used the shadows around and using similar triangles approximated how high the camera was. The shot was done quickly and the shadow moved. Didn't give me enough time to have accurate markers let alone take an accurate reading.

Enter the Disto. While they're handy, they're also expensive. It's a tough to justify if you're not using it every day. To be honest I'd rather buy another lens. Borrowing the device off someone else is possible if they're not using it, that is provided someone else has one.

What you get with the Disto D8

I bit the bullet so to speak and picked up the current model, the Disto D8. It fires a laser that slices through the air and is accurate over a 30 meter range by plus or minus one millimeter. Supposedly it can measure up to 650m if on a tripod.

It's cool. You just point the laser (watch people's eyes though) at what you want to measure the distance to and viola your measurement is displayed on the screen (in metric or imperial). "What was that you say? It's too sunny out and you can't see the little red dot of the laser?" No problem, there's a built in camera that can show you on the screen what you're pointing at!

If that's not geeky enough, there's some simple trig functions in the unit that allow for other measurements pretty easily. Like the height of that window way up on the fifth floor. Just zap the top of the window and the bottom of the window. Using the built in 360 angle locater and the distance it'll calculate the height for you. You can then transfer the data using the built in blue tooth option.

Crazy nerdy fun... and it works off two non-proprietary AA batteries!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Photo test day

Emmanuel, the "me, myself, and I" photo

I was fiddling around these last few days using my panoramic gear. Emmanuel volunteered to be my subject and we used his apartment to shoot in. As I'm not really into photoshop for fixing up photos, I do like using it every now and then to alter reality.

There are too many photographers that rely heavily on photoshop. It has become, in my opinion, a tool to save their asses on such a regular basis that they get lazy and forget to improve their camera skills.

That said, photoshopping is an art unto itself. Used by the right people can get pretty nice, if not incredible results. In the wrong hands... crap (ie. those ads where the model is missing an arm or has skin with no pores). For more photoshop disasters click here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rainy Day Photo Walk

"I'm walkin' here"

Went out with the Toronto photo walks group today. Started by meeting in front of the east side entrance of the Museum TTC subway station at 10am. From there we walked east then up to Bloor and Bay and across to church. It was raining all day so a lot of the meet up time occurred in a pub called the church mouse and the firkin.

Lindsey's boot color match the sign

Despite this we managed to get a lot of good photos with the sky being overcast and objects being wet. Colors in photos came out super saturated.

An ad.

I have no idea what this ad is for.

Photographing the King George statue in Queen's Park.

Lunch room at U of T

Wall paper for you computer?

It's the photo walk group in the mirror under an escalator at College Park

Construction at Gerrard and Yonge (north west corner)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where's my monopod?

Modelling the Phillip Sparks collection

The start of the Fall/Winter 2010 fashion season (in Toronto at least) began with the Phillip Sparks catwalk located in a building near Bathurst on Queen street. I had gotten there early, as usual, and grabbed a nice spot to photograph at the end of the catwalk.

My editor had been going over procedures in case I got there late or couldn't get in. I was the first photographer on the scene and I arrived late, late for me. I had misplaced my monopod and spent a while looking for it. Not finding it I decided to leave before I really was late . I would have to photograph the show hand held.

Watch by Hamilton.

It wasn't until after the show that I retraced where I last used the monopod. "Good Gravy!", as my grandmother would say. "I left it at Massey Hall!". At least that's the last time I remember holding it to photograph Jamie Cullum.

I had been told to move out after the third song and in my haste had my lenses, camera bag, and monopod in a disarray. I stopped at the exit door, leaned my monopod next to the door frame, I swapped lenses from my camera into my camera bags to carry back home, then sorted out my long lens. The 70-200mm had a lens doubler that I was using to get the 400mm range. I had to dismantle it and pack that away as well. I then left Massey Hall.

A woman in the audience enjoying a cranberry martini

The question was "Did I take the monopod with me from the door frame or not?". I may have left the monopod on the subway. I was tired that night. I knew it wasn't at home in my apartment from the search earlier on in the day. I didn't have anything to loose so after the Sparks catwalk I made my way back to Massey Hall.

There was some other event going on at the time but no one lined up for tickets when I got there so I went right up to the ticket booth and asked "Did anyone find a monopod?". "What's that?". "It's a metal stick to put your camera on.", I replied.

The guy in the booth asked me to wait inside. I wasn't there very long when a security guard came out of a door carrying the "camera stick". It was like he was surrounded by golden light from heaven. Small angels "ahh ahh"ing. "There it is!", I exclaimed. The guard could see the amazed, happy look I had on my face, and handed it to me like I just won an award. "Thank you so much.". "You're welcome so much."

I left happy to not have to buy another replacement camera item.

Note: It should be known that between the location of the Phillip Sparks show and Massey Hall I had gone into the Eaton Centre and saw a monopod at Black's Photography. It's about half the size of my existing monopod and can be stored in a camera bag quite easily. I never got the price of it because if I knew the amount I might want to buy it. The only bad thing about it was that the quick release clamps were not adjustable. If they wore out you couldn't take them off or readjust the tightness on them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Power of Fashion

A deflated Santa

So now with a bunch of employment coming my way I decided to do what I'd normally do, go outside for a walk. I found myself scoping out the new location for fashion week. It looks like a dumpy warehouse. This is at least the second location that had been picked by the fashion council for this season's catwalks. I'm not sure why they picked this place or why they didn't stay with the previous places.

Do you live in a haunted house?

The area looks pretty dumpy as a lot of it is still under construction. Not only that available parking around here didn't seem to be in abundance. Throw in some potted plants and red carpet, kablam, the new place for fashion week. Heck, they did a good job with the unused car dealership building last year.

30 ordinance street, "the power of style"

Liberty street

A dog sign

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jamie Cullum

Massey Hall

I got a gig tonight to photograph Jamie Cullum playing at Massey Hall. As a general rule photographers are usually only allowed to photograph during the first three numbers. After that your time is up and you're being led out of the venue. There are the odd exceptions, photographing wakestock, bands in small venues, bands in big venues. Now that I think about it why is there a three song rule anywhere?

It makes sense if the photographers are in the way of the paying audience. That wouldn't go over well. Even the clicking of the camera shutter can be annoying. So okay three songs and you're out. Seems reasonable.

Jamie Cullum on piano

We waited outside off behind the stage somewhere. There were three of us, photographers shooting for various wire services, newspapers. Some other act was just finishing up and our escort was waiting with us. We were given stickers as badges identifying us as press.

Having not shot at this venue before the escort asked if I was carrying a zoom lens. Usually I shoot with a 70-200mm but because I was given a head's up by Dominic, the photographer I was standing in for I brought my lens doubler. This made my range go from 140-400mm. The disadvantage is that I would lose two stops going from 2.8 to 5.6. I would have to have the shutter open longer to get a proper exposure, meaning that I couldn't shoot any quick motion without blur.

There was an intermission and we were let in, following the escort, to the back row on the main floor. Wow, we were really far from the stage. The photo above was shot with a 400mm lens on a monopod. I would have liked to have gotten closer as this still feels far away. It was.

I lost count of the number of songs and by the end of the third song found myself juggling gear on the way out toward the exit. I rearranged everything into my camera bag and left thinking I had forgotten something.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Goings on

King George, a statue in the park north of Queen's park.

Not much happening today, or so I thought. I decided to walk around downtown. Unbeknown to me my cell phone was racking up calls. My ringer is terrible and I can't hear my phone most of the time. It's even worse when I'm outside.

Roger at Monster Records.

I was walking around contemplating work and what work I could get. How to get enough money together to pay rent, bills, etc. Did I have another change jar hidden some where? Down to three weeks before the end of the month. It didn't seem like I was making any progress in the last three weeks.

I got home to find I had three job offers. None of them were from phone calls I had made. They were all from out of the blue. Feast or famine. This was definitely a feast situation. Work on a movie, doing photography of Fashion week, photography of some music gig. I was all pretty good timing. Did I mention I still had three weeks?

"What's going on here?"

Meanwhile, on Yonge street, a whole section was blocked off by police tape. To walk south you had to go down another street or alley. I wasn't sure what was going on. I heard rumours that a truck had hit a lady. There was a truck but it seemed like something bigger to warrant the large police presence. Maybe it was just to block off one of the busiest Toronto streets? I never heard anything on the news.

I find this police car funny for some reason.

A whole section of Yonge street is blocked off

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Paula's pup

Molly, photo subject.

Went over to Paula's today to help her with getting to know her computer. Spent some time taking photos of her dog.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Rainy's 80s Party

Rock hair and an air guitar... good to go.

Rainy's birthday party was an 80s themed crazy fun time. It was a nice distraction from job hunting. The cheesy big rocker hair, the feathered hair, the skinny leather ties, the big shoulder pads. Bands like Wham, Duran Duran, Journey, Power Station, Def Leppard, Michael Jackson playing in the background with folks dressed up like Robert Palmer, Tina Turner how much more 80s could you get?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sign of Journey

Leah next to the sign.

I had to call in some money that people owed me to pay off some bills. It wasn't a lot to pay off when working with steady income. In lock down savings mode it was the difference between not having a phone and having a phone.

If people can't get in touch with you finding work will be that much harder. Still have 20 something days left in the month to make rent. Plenty of time.

Leah, the delivery person for the person that owed me money met up with me to give me cash. As we were walking down the street talking about work, finances, and all that, we stopped at a bar that she recognized. It looked like it was closed for good. I looked up and saw this sign. "Don't stop believin'". A sign from God? Probably just a Journey fan. Still, it was a weird coincidence.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

When bored, go for a walk

Some doggie in the window.

Originally I left the house to go get groceries. It's been the thing to do the last few days. On lock down mode for spending money and still looking for work. Photography work, at least on Craig's list and Kijiji is pretty dismal. Most of the people looking for photographers are looking for photographers to work for free, photographers to maybe work in the future, or photographers that will pay to do the work.

"Eh? What's that? I have to pay you to photograph something I have no interest in? Uh, no.", a well known web site for job placement had a posting looking for a photographer to work for three months on a trial basis. If at the end of the three months the photographer worked out they might hire that person into a full time position at $10.00 an hour. Oh, did I say that the first three months, the trial period, were non-paying. What kind of small piss ant company was this? Working as a teenager way back when we were hired onto a job maybe at a lower rate but not for free and not for three months. Three weeks maybe.

Turns out the employer wasn't some small company, just a company that was looking for cheap labour. It was Bell. Yes, Bell that phone company bell. The same company that told me I couldn't drop my phone service because I had a 3 year contract. A 3 year contract that I never signed because I bought the phone out right.

As someone that's worked for the most part in middle to upper management and freelance for as long as I can remember this working for free thing (internship) would have escaped me. It's only recently while shifting work priorities that I have found this exploitation. For some school courses some programs require that the student put in 40 hours or so to get their degree, program certificate, what have you. This is where companies have jumped on the band wagon to get free employment. Slimy money grubbing opportunists getting free labour, promising jobs but releasing people after their internship to replace them with new people willing to work for free.

This made me furious. I actually wanted to start a company just to train kids while paying them then getting them jobs so they can by pass these bastards. I was brought back down to earth by one of my friends saying maybe I should find a job first for me. He had a good point.

It's Ian!

I decided to go out and get some air, and groceries. My random wanderings ended up with me walking down to Queen street taking photos of the odd store and bumping into Ian at Squirrelys. It was a random occurrence. While photographing store fronts I noticed him and his friend in the front window of the restaurant. They had just gotten out of some rock climbing gym and were finishing dinner.

I walked in and joined them for a drink. We talked about how we both had horseshoes up our butt when it came to work. Usually things would get pretty dire. Not being able to pay rent, maxed out credit cards, and then just as things looked financially bleak... we'd get a job, pay off our bills, rent, be able to eat out and spend some money. Someone up there likes for sure.

I told Ian how angry I was at these companies hiring people for nothing. It bugged me that much. Then the issue of me not working came up. "I'm not too worried. I still have a whole month before rent is due. A lot can happen in a month." I told him. Being in the same situation before he agreed. It wasn't like rent was due the next day.