Saturday, January 01, 2022

New Year, New location

looking down at los palmas, Gran Canaria

I fell asleep early last night. it was on purpose, not that i had any plans last night to stay up late. with covid lurking around and visiting a new country i didn't want to chance visiting a hospital up close. Also my communication is terrible here as i'm not fluent in spanish.

I had eyeballed this hill on google maps. There was a tourist photo icon so naturally i was drawn to that to take photos. what a better time than to be up there on the new year just as the sun was coming up.

So I planned on getting up early and walking over there. i left around 4am in the morning as managed to make it all the way up the hill just before the sun popped over the horizon. it was great timing.

It should be noted that while the hill had a pretty gentle slope up to what resembled a small park bench, on the other side of the park bench there was a 80m drop down a rocky terraine right into the ocean. so it was good that the sun was just starting to light the ground i was walking on. When I saw how close my foot was to open space, a large wave of adrenaline washed over me.

So this year started on the right foot by not falling to my death. Yay, me!

I stayed a while watching the sun come up all while taking photos. "I should have brought my 360 camera and my monopod." I thought to myself. hindsight is 20/20.

I waited until the sky had more light then made my way back down to the road and then back down to the city.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Green milk

 2020 10 10

Day 6

I got up early to go outside to the exercise lot, the portion of the hotel parking lot that has been fenced off and used as a space to go to walk around, stand in the sun or shade, to exercise.   Aside from the smoking section in front of the hotel (and who wants to go there), the exercise lot is the only place to really go.

It wasn’t to get the blood pumping for me, it was to do another time lapse.   This time looking at the building as the sun moved behind it.   I figured with the camera tilted up no one would get in the way of the lens even if they were tall.   There were a a number of runners that got pretty close to the tripod but none of them bumped it.

We have a limited time frame out there because the guards need to go home to sleep and all that.   So we can go out between 07:00 and 21:00.   I went out at 07:30, set up the tripod, came back in at 09:00, had breakfast, went back out at 10:00 and was out there until 13:00.

Having a thing, whether it be a camera on a tripod, or a piece of chalk, people are going to make conversation.   I met a few people and talked to security and some army guards that changed shifts.   Exchanged a few stories from living in Canada and how the lock down was going over there to how things were going over here.   The conversations made the time go by pretty quickly and before I knew it I was going back inside to the warm hotel.

My lunch was waiting for me in a brown paper bag.   And next to it were three other paper bags with the groceries I had ordered online last night from the countdown grocery store, kind of like loblaws, it’s a large grocery store chain.   I wanted to buy some green milk but as it turns out there’s a $50 minimum to be able to use the delivery service plus there’s a $15 service charge.   My tiny fridge might be able to fit 10 bottles of milk. It I thought I’d get some fruit and some other stuff.

- 1.5 L bottle of lime flavoured milk

- 1.5L bottle of banana flavoured milk

- 2 x 1kg cartons of Jazz apples

- 280g bottle of vegemite

- 250g Whittaker’s creamy milk Hazelnut Block

- 400g Hubbards crispy crunchy granola (raspberries, cranberries, coconut, currants, cashews, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds)

The fact that all the items I bought are made in New Zealand aren’t a coincidence.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Steve in the Fiat

Steve in the Lego Fiat 500 (afternoon shoot)

Woke up super early today 5:00am.  To get outside to do a small photo shoot across the street before the sun came up. I had just received the fiat500 model car by LEGO.   I spent yesterday, roughly seven hours assembling it.   It turns out it’s hamster scale.  So today I would take Steve out and work the camera.   It’s been awhile. I wasn't really that happy with the photos.  It was too dark.  If I left the shutter open any longer Steve would be blurry, or I'd lose depth of field had I changed the F-stop.

I did another shoot in the afternoon in the front yard.   With this lock down, quarantine in place there’s not a lot of places to go.   So I have limited options.   While shooting Steve in the front yard, I lost a piece of LEGO of the car.   Being yellow it blended in with all the grass and dandelions.   The OCD part of me was cursing inside.  But luckily it’s not my first missing a piece of LEGO rodeo.   Because the set is from this year, and new, it would mean that replacement parts could be ordered from the LEGO site.  No problem.   No stress.   Just log in and order another piece.

The stress levels sprang back up as I logged in and realized that LEGO is still under quarantine operation.   I already have two emails that are in a queue in which they never got back to me on their, I’m guessing, smaller staff.   Turns out that the LEGO company has shut down the Canadian part replacement service.  Ugh!  

The American service was still open so I thought I’d just run the part number through the database to see if it was even in stock.   It was, and could be mine for the cost of 15 cents (US) and shipping.   As they probably don’t ship to Canada, I mean that’s what the Canadian store is for, I would have to ship it to a friend in the USA and then have them ship it to me.   While doable I thought maybe I’d sleep on it.

All kinds of scenarios popped up in my dreads about that stupid brick.   Maybe it got flung out of the bag I was carrying it in from the wind, or maybe the hamster grabbed it as a trophy and hit it inside it’s sleep pod to snuggle over, or maybe it flew out under a clump of grass, near a rock, maybe a crow took it after that to reward a small child.  I woke up, by this time it was around 12:30am.  Put on the pants, and went outside with a flashlight.   I figured it would be easier to find a piece of plastic at night because the flashlight would reflect differently on the plastic object than on the grass.  

In less than a minute I had found it.   It was sitting right under where I would have been photographing from.  The yellow piece of plastic stuck out like a sore thumb.   I went back inside and placed it back on the car model not allowing for chance to have me lose it again but in the apartment.

I went back to sleep.  

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Polar Bear Dip 2019

Toronto's Polar bear dip of 2019

Why anyone would want to jump into a lake when the outside temperature is under 0 degrees beats me. Just getting out of a nice warm bed on an early January 1st was a painful hurdle. Perhaps the shock to the system would rev you up for the rest of the entire year? I decided to get out of that nice warm, cozy cocoon, and venture forth outside.

I thought to myself "It's good to socialize, letting people, friends, know you're still alive. When it gets busy during the rest of the year you won't see anyone.".  That's a hard truth. Having friends takes effort.

Showing up to something when you have nothing else planned is not a hard thing to do.  You just have to get out there.  If you're under the weather or injured it might start to become a Herculean task but I was neither.  Maybe getting over a bit of food poisoning but that was really more of a yesterday thing.  Out to the beach I went.

There was the usual contingent of photographer friends.  Paul, Victoria, some others that I've met sporadically over the years. The event took place at noon.  We showed up around 11:00.  Basically people run into the water and then come running out.  It really doesn't take that much time.  Maybe 5 or 10 minutes max.  After photographing what we could we would then meet up at a pub somewhere and catch up.

If interested in going on a photo walk in Toronto you can check out their page...
Toronto Photo Walks

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

To New York... because why not?

23:20 - The bus station

I had gotten to the bus station 2 hours early. My bus scheduled to leave at 23:30. I realized I had forgotten my snow boot covers for my shoes. Thinking I had ample time I went back home to get them. Those easy plans were destroyed by the Bloor train having problems with some signal malfunction at Dundas west station. This resulted in the 20 minute train ride taking 40 minutes.

Dancing to Bus Terminal Music

I got out one station earlier and grabbed the first taxi I could find. Got to the house, picked up my boots, took the same taxi all the way down to the bus station. I still arrived early by an hour.

For the most part I just grabbed an iced tea from the vending machine, sat down, and started to zone out. I was a bit tired.

Then about 10 maybe 15 minutes before my bus arrived this couple started dancing to the boring bus terminal Muzak. At first it was a slowish dance with the odd dip here and there. I took a few photos then left for my bus. Outside I noticed a guy going to Philly taking photos of them with his cell phone. They had upped their dance numbers to a combo of ballet and jazzercise, the girl had taken off her puffy coat to get more movement. Large kicks and hand gestures were now part of the routine. I could have stayed and watched but instead got on the bus.

On the bus, some seats were worn, some were slashed, I was too tired to really care.

01:34 - American immigration

Note: When they ask you for a reason why you’re going to the US do not say “I’m shooting the parade”. Say “I’m photographing the parade.”. Maybe because I was tired, or maybe because I don’t think about these things, I said the former. There was a short uncomfortable silence then I added “with a camera”. Tensions, if they were any, lowered after that.

01:50 - some small bus terminal

Definitely Buffalo

Possibly buffalo given that there are “welcome to buffalo” signs all around. Our bus is being exchanged for another one. The greyhound bus we were in was a bit used and maybe overly loved. The odd slashed seat covers, the grayness of color being bleached by the sun (or scrubbed for germs, who’s to say). The seats were a little worn out. I noticed this when I went to sit down, and some one else’s or maybe multiple people’s bodies had already made a shaped imprint.

Not surprisingly, the wi-fi on the bus didn’t work.

Despite the worn out character of the bus, it was clean, and didn’t smell like pee or vomit, or even lemony cleaning fluid so there’s that. One of the advantages of traveling at night on a Monday, was that the bus was less than half capacity. Everyone got a pair of seats and might have even had space behind or in front as well.

03:00 - onto New York

Got crammed onto Ann express. Is to New York. I suppose that’s nice. Don’t have to stop in Syracuse any more. Also means one less bathroom break. This bus is packed. Every seat has a person in it. I wonder what happened to the other bus?

06:45 - where are we

Woken up to the sound of the bus driving on rumble strips, I was pretty alert. Nothing gets your heart racing more than thinking you’re going to die I suppose. Who the heck needs coffee? I was sleeping soundly, then awake in probably less than five seconds. I looked around the bus and pretty much everyone was awake, looking around. I suppose the sound woke up the driver as well as he corrected for this little mishap. Some people went back to sleep. Me? I was (am up) as I write this now. Might as well take some photos.

It’s all snowy out.

08:00 - the driver needs to pee

The bus driver announced this fact to us and that he was going to pull into a McDonalds, that someone told him about. We drove around trying to find this thing. It didn’t take long. Wherever we were, it was a small town. How long could it have even took?

The McDonalds

By this point I had to get out, my camera bag was on my lap since Buffalo being squashed down by the guy in front leaning his seat into me. It was pretty uncomfortable. I thought about putting the bag on the floor but then I wouldn’t be able to grab my camera should the need arise.  Plus I'd have to get up and wake up the sporty girl next to me.

I wasn't really hungry but I was super dehydrated.  I bought two sauage and egg McMuffins and two bottles of water.  The extra water was for sporty girl.  She stayed in the bus.

A real McDonalds play land.

lining up for a Sausage and Egg McMuffin

11:00 New York City

Exiting the Port Authority Bus Terminal I start to walk down to the Bowery, and look around to take some photos.  No set path, I know I have to go south.  It's been a while since I looked at a map.

"The commuters"

stepping out of the Port Authority

Ralph from the Honeymooners

West 40th and 8th

times square

The naked Cowboy

some old phone technology

the new Magnum P.I.

old SuperB drug store sign

I bought a few bananas

$1 pizza

I also bought some roasted beer nuts

some cool graffiti.

A street with trees

the Mexican statue of Liberty

Is it me or does this door look like some one likes pencils?

random room with a bunch of American Flags

ChinaTown, I recognize the McDoanlds

someone is a fan of dogs

I took this photo because I liked the business of it.  It's something I could only imagine taking in a large city.

dramatic lighting

Things to ponder

more graffiti

a rare chance to see graffiti being made,

15:30 the Bowery... finally

By the time I got to the Bowery I was pooped.  So I checked in and took a nap.  I woke up later to search for food.  The sun had gone down (as you can see from the above photo).  The Bowery has a nice roof patio thing going.  You can sit at one of several chairs/tables or you can walk around look over the brick onto the street.

The rooms are super tiny fitting the small, just less than 6 foot bed, with just enough space for you to open the door and slide in.  That said the place is super clean.  oh and did I mention that I was staying a week for just over $600 US.  That's pretty cheap for New York.  Other places averaged $170 a night with the creme of the crop, the Plaza, going for over $500 a night.

It must be said that I didn't plan any of this trip so far in advance that maybe hotels or transport would be cheaper.  That's the thing with last minute adventures.

right now I can eat the first thing that comes my way, chemicals or no.

"Where to eat, where to eat?"

Do I want bagels?  Not for dinner.

One deep pot hole

random graffiti

I headed out toward Chinatown, I figured it would be a safe bet that something would be open.  Without really thinking about it I ended up going to the China Village restaurant.  It's the same place I visited back in 2016 when I was working on Fast 8.  Same look, same menu, maybe even the same waiter.

Return to the China Village restaurant

I am the only one here.

Beef Brisket on Rice, Super Yummy

The dish was simple, beef brisket on rice.  It was perfect.  I ate the small plate of food feeling satisfied then left back to the Bowery cutting through little Italy.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Nikon D850

The dim sum I ordered for just me

This weekend I started out in pretty rough shape.   I had rolled into bed saturday morning at 05:30 from doing a fraturday work schedule.  We started at 15:00 on friday and worked through the night.  Side note:  I have to say that this production is great in that it offered us taxi rides home and or a hotel to sleep in.  All this for only working 14 hours.   If this is the norm in Vancouver then they totally have a one up on the film industry in Toronto.  I'd worked 16-20 hour shifts on some shows in Toronto with none of that offered.

I got out of bed feeling pretty groggy.  It was raining and overcast outside which didn't help me feel awake in anyway.   I had posted an invite mid week for some friends to meet up for dim sum at 13:00.   I never changed the time because I'd have to reset my sleep habits for the following monday and while I made it out of bed at 11:00 the cobwebs in my head continued to give me a foggy brain until at least 15:00.    The Fortune Garden restaurant was a bit pricey (maybe not by Vancouver standards) but the food was good.   I didn't order that much, some chicken corn soup, some shrimp (prawn) dumplings, radish cake and chicken feet (see photo).

If I was tired before dim sum I felt more tired after dim sum, I could almost feel the blood going from my brain to my stomach to help digest all the food I ate.  The eating took only 40 minutes in total leaving me with another hour and twenty minutes on the parking meter.  So after paying the bill and leaving a nice tip I left and waddled over to the Broadway Camera store. I was visiting to pick up a UV filter to replace the scratched one on my 70-200mm 2.8 lens.

As i walked in Peter, one of the store employees, called me by name.  "Derek, your 850 is here.  I tried to call you but had trouble with your Toronto number.".  Yes. I've only been going there for maybe six weeks and we're on a first name basis.  Sad?   Maybe, but they're quite nice...  and knowledgeable (a rare bonus in this day and age of brick and mortar shopping).

Secretly I was hoping the new camera body was in, but had come to the realization that the probability of getting the D850 in the first shipment was low, I mean I had never gotten any gear right off that bat.  I usually had to wait a few months.  (I'm still waiting on that Nintendo Switch to be released after their inital run back in March; now to the point that I don't really care any more).

I had gone around and checked other camera shops in BC and some wanted a $1000 deposit. Broadway Camera only wanted $50, they were closer to my hotel than any of the other camera stores, also Paula Kulkoskey had kind words about the store, so I put a down payment on the d850 with them. 

What can i say, people not showing up for dim sum was pretty depresssing.   I'd been trying to meet up with people since I got to Vancouver (way back in July).  Shout out to Alex, who met me the first weekend, after that meeting up with friends went quickly downhill.  Also being my birthday week (technically thursday) not having anyone show up just made things feel worse.

So when i found the camera was waiting for me I had a spike of happiness for a short while.   It's been a while since I bought a camera or any pricey gadget for that matter.  It's been about 8 years since I bought my first D700.  It's crazy.

My happiness was quickly greeted by a bunch of hurdles.  My debit card maxed out at $2000.00.  Peter was pretty easy going and said they could keep the camera on hold for a few days while I got the money together.  "No!" was my reply.  I was determined to get the camera on a non-work day and fiddle with it over the weekend.

As luck would have it, a few blocks down the street was bank branch that I bank with and they were open on Saturday.  I hurried over there after telling Peter I would be back and to not give the camera away to someone else, Got the remaining money in large bills, headed back to the camera store, realized I had left my wallet at the bank, went to the bank to find that it wasn't where I left it, while waiting in line for the teller I found it stuffed in my camera bag (where it's not normally stored), walked back to the camera store, paid for the camera, a spare battery and the UV filter, then bee-lined it back to the car and drove swiftly to the hotel where I opened the box to see what I had just bought and to check if everything was there, then crashed into a dim sum coma.

the conveted Nikon D850 plus some other things

I woke up a few hours later, downloaded the D850 manual to my iPad because my eyes are starting to have a hard time reading tiny text in tiny manuals, and started fiddling with the camera.  The first thing I noticed was that the light meter settings were reversed.  Maybe Nikon did this to make Canon users more at home?  Whatever the reason, I found it annoying.  Luckily in the menu you can flip this display so it's like the past Nikon cameras I've had.   Some of the controls moved.  My hands have gotten so used to the D700 controls that I found myself trying to push a button that wasn't there (ie.  the MODE button; where did it go?).

There were a bunch of things that have been changed or added.   The D700 never had video.  One of the things that kind of angered me when buying the D850. I don't want to do video, I just want to shoot nice photos.   But adding everything including the kitchen sink seems to be the trend, I really didn't have a choice.   Maybe one day that video feature with be useful to me.  For now that menu items and buttons are just getting in the way of me shooting stills.  I need to go over the controls in more depth,  I still don't know how to bring up the histogram.

The biggest disappointment for me with the D850 is that the bracketing only does 5 brackets at 3 stops apart.   While it's better than the 9 brackets at one stop apart (for me), it would have been nice if I could do more brackets and change the spread in 1/3 intervals.  Ideally 7 brackets at 2 1/3 stops apart.   This is the magic number for doing HDRIs with our 8mm lens when doing visual effects, going from 1/4000 of a second to 4 seconds. 

If Nikon had a suggestion box on their web site, I would have requested this feature years ago but like most business web sites, the ability to actually contact anyone is either hidden or non-existent.  I tried, i gave up. Maybe Nikon will read this blog entry and fix it in a firmware upgrade?  I'd be hopeful but I doubt it.  As a result I'll probably have to also buy a Canon mark III or mark IV to conform to the rest of the visual effects industry. *insert sad trombone.

I'm still happy overall with the Nikon.  As a camera for personal use I would have still bought the Nikon just because the Nikon world is so ingrained in me.  It'll take me a few days to really get comfortable with this model.   I'll try to update the blog as I find things out.        

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Postcards from the Edge of the water

Giant rubber duck

After seeing Baby Driver (a great movie by the way) with Darryl Stawychny, I got home to work on making a postcard based on an image (see above) I shot on sunday morning.  The last postcard I had made didn't do well for me financially, it was of the Hammer City Roller Girls but making it was fun and there's about 60 to 100 of those cards floating around the world.  Maybe they'll be a collectors item after I've died?

The printing service was having a 25% off sale that ended today which put a bit of fire under my ass to get stuff done.  I've been pretty terrible at being productive these last few months.  It's only been this weekend really where I thought I've been doing something creative-ish.

There's only so many episodes of the MOD squad that you can watch before you have to get off the couch and do something I guess.  You dig?  Solid.