Saturday, July 30, 2005

Jenga Master Zee

Mike Zanette holds one of the Jenga blocks after winning the nights Jenga tournament.

There are some board games that get kind of simple and or boring as you grow up. Snakes and ladders for example seems pretty simplistic and Monopoly seems to always play out the same. Enter Jenga, a game where you have to pull blocks out of a stack and place it back on top. Sounds simple, it is simple, but it takes a bit of motor coordination to play. It's even more fun when you have to play for shots.

Tonight's tournament was played at Tony and Reneta's place, somewhere just north of Aurora. Where that is exactly I don't know. I got a drive up and never really paid much attention to which way it was out of toronto or how far. Some where out in farm lands would be a good description. It started off as a foodfest bbq and tour of the "new" home. Eventually due to rain and being too full to move we ended up in the living room. That's when the game came out.

After a few hours it was down to two people. Both Marc and Zee had not toppled the tower of bricks at all and so the last game that was played was between just the two of them squaring off for the title of Jenga master. In the end ti was Zee that tasted victory leaving Marc with the agony of defeat.

Camera stores

Toronto skyline 2005

I thought I would work the photo stores along queen street to see what's new in the tripod world. As my tripod has now been missing for several days I have decided it is gone and should replace the "lost" item with a new one.

My dad has a buying philosophy which resembles "Buy cheap, if it breaks (or you lose it) you can afford to buy another one.". I, on the other hand think the opposite, "If you buy quality it will last a lifetime and you'll save money in the long run because you'll just have to buy it once.". Now that I've lost the tripod that last statement seems rather naive.

In the end I picked up a Manfrotto 055MF4 (legs) with a 229 3D super-pro head. Compared to my old tripod the legs are in four segments instead of three. The advantage being the legs collapse slightly shorter than the 190pro but extend so the tripod is a bit taller. The head however is a heavy brick like thing. It's heavier than the head I had on my old tripod. I may try to pick up a lighter ball head later on when I get another paycheck. I was looking specifically at the Acratech ball head which is really nice and light. The only bad thing is that you have to buy a camera plate seperately and the camera plate requires an allan key to put it on. It's a really nice design though.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Still Lost

Blimp grounded at Hanlans Point Airport

I got a phone call from the people at the lost and found building on the island. So far no one has turned up a tripod. It doesn't look good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


The haunted lake lighthouse located behind some trees on Hanlan's Point.

We have all done this at one time or another. Loosing a cell phone on the bus, forgetting a camera in a bar, taping over an unwatched TV show, locking yourself out of your apartment to do laundry, locking yourself out on the apartment balcony (while doing laundry), attempting to eat a really hot bagel. Yes, losing your mind for a few seconds/minutes only to discover that you made a terrible error and as a result have lost something or have found yourself in a peculiar position. The results vary but the question that comes up after is always the same, "Why did I just do that?" or maybe even "Fu*k!", depending on how bad the situtation is.

Usually the said event happens after a segment of time when everything seems to be going okay. It's like someone (possibly upstairs) says "Hey don't get too comfortable" or "Appreciate what you have". One day you wake up, maybe still sleepy, you put the house keys in the freezer while getting out some frozen blueberry waffles. After eating breakfast you leave for work and realize you don't know where your keys are. Then you go around looking for your keys that you knew you had earlier that morning. If you're lucky you get your keys in time and get to work. If you're not too lucky, you get to work a bit late. If you're really unlucky, you get to work but have to smash in the lock on your door when you get home. It's like the brain stops working for a second.

First off I would like to say that I'm glad, and I'm sure other people are too, that I'm not an air traffic controller or doctor. "Where did I put that plane?", "The sponge was right there on the tray a second ago.". Not everyone is ON all the time but there are those that are ON more of the time than others. I would like to think I'm one of those people. Until something like this comes along and informs me otherwise.

For me it's usually due to lack of sleep (as stated above - yes that was me with those house keys) or maybe because there's a girl involved. A lot of bad things come from the result of thinking of the opposite sex. It's kind of like seeing a girl then walking into a column or street lamp. That's on a good day. The brain stops thinking for a second and then there are the consequences. Today my brain turned off while taking a pebble out of my shoe. Well before I get to that let me paint a picture of what I was doing today...

Tuesday. I decided to go to the Toronto Islands to take pictures. Newspapers predicted rain and maybe some thunder. Well we didn't get thunder but we did get rain. As I tend to set out to do something that my brain has decided on (stupid brain), I left the house and went to the Islands. As soon as the boat dropped me off at Hanlan's Point (the western part of the Islands) it started to rain. It came down in buckets.

I waited around till the rain eased up then proceeded towards centre island (located between Wards and Hanlans, the three are actually one big island). There was a beach with a lot of birds lying around so I thought I'd shoot some of them. Crawling on my stomach to get some worm eye photos eventually pebbles managed to find their way into the holes of my shoe. There was a nearby bench where I decided to put down my tripod, sit on a semi-wet bench, take my shoe off, and get the pebbles out.

I continued to walk along the boardwalk to Wards island and when I got to the end and the ferry docks I decided to take a picture of the Toronto skyline. I decided to use the tripod so I could take a series of pictures for a large panormic shot only there was no tripod. Crap! I left it on the bench at centre island. I walked back the pebble extraction bench only to find it wasn't there.

The bench that I left my tripod on (between the center island snack bar and the boardwalk going towards Wards island).

The lost and found building was closed and the lost and found building on the Toronto shore didn't find anything. I'm hoping someone returns it over the next few days. I left my phone number in case someone does. My gut feeling is that I'll have to buy another one.

When you loose something you always tell yourself things like "Well that wasn't very bright" or "It could be worse". It's funny, I said that to myself just before losing my tripod when a drink machine, I was trying to buy a bottle of lemonade, gave me my change without giving me my drink. "Gee, I lost $2.75. Well it could be worse". Yes you could have lost a tripod worth $500.

The guys working at the Ferry docks were quite helpful and sympathetic. Through them I heard some kid burnt his hands on a park barbeque because he forgot it was hot from his parents cooking on it earlier. Painful and not too bright. I decided losing a tripod is better than third degree burns on your hands. So yes, "It could be worse".

Despite the loss I'm still trying to optimistic that the someone who found it will turn it in and I'll get a call sometime this week. Keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime I will be looking into new tripod gear. I've always wanted a carbon fiber tripod with a head that rotates around the camera lens axis and has a hex mount.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Land of the Gulls

Scrutinizing the cake offering.

Monday. I didn't have any work today so I slowly made my way down to the beach. I had about 3/4 of a cake I had made for William and Sara's pot luck that didn't go over very well. First time for everything. The three layered cake was pretty heavy. It was based it on a couple of muffin recipes that sounded like a good idea at the time. As a giant muffin it would have been good. As a cake it was dry and dense.

Just so it didn't share the same fate as the bread I decided I'd bring it down to the beach and see if it could be used as bird food. If I could get in a shot or two great. I dumped the cake into a plastic bag and rode down to the beach. The beach was pretty populated by people. Doesn't anybody work these days? I wanted to find a place on the beach with as little people as possible. A) to make sure people didn't walk into the shot scaring off the birds once I had baited them with the cake, B) to make sure people lying on the beach sun tanning didn't get a swarm of birds around them (as I type this the scene from the Hitchcock movie Birds comes to mind where the girl is trapped in the phone booth).

There are those that think of these birds like rats with wings as opposed to the cute bowling ball pins with legs. Actually that's pigeons, to me anyway. I find gulls annoying, like white mini vultures that populate Toronto green space. Still they're an interesting subject to photograph.

I found a spot. It looked like a dock hidden behind some rocks. It was almost the same height as the water line. It was perfect. I threw some cake at some geese passing by but the cake dropped into the water like a rock. There were no birds around other then the geese and I scared them away with my rock cake. Fortunately, birds have keen eyesight. I wasn't long before a gull flying by figured what I was up to. Then like a siren informed other birds in the area of the cake buffet. In less than 15 seconds, after the bird cry, I had about twenty gulls hovering over my head waiting for the next crumb.

"That was my piece!"

To get the shots on this blog a placed a rather large piece of cake (about the size of two fists) in front of me. Then laid down on my stomach so I could look through the camera at ground level. I have to say I really miss my Nikon 990 (with the swivel body) for stuff like this. I could only stay in that position for fifteen minutes before my neck started to cramp up.

Eventually the cake was devoured by the gulls, a two pigeons, and a duck.

As a side note, these birds are not the same as the gulls shot the other day. I thought they were just younger versions of the same bird as the feathers may not have turned white yet. The eyes however on todays birds were black (like a sharks) where as the other bird's eyes had some color (a greenish yellow). Anyone have a bird guide?

Late Night Outing

Coxwell and Gerrard at night..

It was pretty humid last night. Couldn't sleep so I decided to run out and play around with some camera settings. Mainly the white balance function. The camera lens fogged up resulting in blurry lights in the pictures. The above shot was taken over a 20 second interval with an aperature of 1/36. There was an overall red cast to it which I pulled out a bit using photoshop.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Beach Jazz Festival

Facing east on Queen street during the beach jazz festival

Saturday night. Each year around this time William and Sara host a pot luck dinner that coincides with the Beach Jazz festival. It's very convenient as they live in the beach area. We stuff ourselves with food then wander off to queen street to burn it off while enjoying some good music.

This year the amount of people seemed a bit more overwhelming than the last few years. Between Coxwell and Beach ave (near the fox theatre) the street was just packed. It reminds me of the episode of Star Trek (the mark of gideon) where Kirk beams down to an almost empty Enterprise, there's a girl on it of course, only to find out he's on an over populated planet.

Facing west on Queen street during the beach jazz festival

Once the sun went down picture taking became a bit more difficult. You'd have to resort to using the flash and hope someone didn't stick their arm or head into your picture. I should bring a milk crate or box to stand on next time I'm at one of these things. Maybe even platform shoes or stilts. Now that I think about it my 990 (swivel camera) would be more ideal for taking these types of shots. You don't have to have your eyeball looking through the viewfinder.

As inviting as the beach party is there's always something else that I'm missing that I'll forget about or that has to be skipped because there's just not enough time. The thing I forgot (now it seems five years in a row) being Mike Demonte's birthday party. The thing I missed was the Thin Lizzy show put on by Roger Costa at Monster Records. I even bought a ticket. D'oh!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Happy Meal

Breakfast at the skyline restaurant (located on Queen street west).

Like yesterday, I ended up going for breakfast before going to work on set. My breakfast consisted of three eggs, three sausages, some home fried potatoes, and a tiny glass of orange juice. All for under $5.00 (including tip!) It was odd seeing the configuration of the food on my plate. When was the last time I ate food that resembled a smiley face?

Although unintentional I think the happy eggs brought back a flood of childhood memories. Eating the broccoli like you were a dinosaur eating trees, having the food plane spoon land into the "hanger", making moats in your mashed potatoes to help keep the pea people from being drowned in the flood of gravy. It was all fun until some parent told us to "Stop playing with your food.".

Wasn't it the parent that started us down the dark path of playing with the food in the first place to get us to eat things we didn't want to? I have this sudden urge to eat mashed potatoes and relive the flooding of the pea people.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Easy Breakfast

One of the sugar containers at Easy.

On the way to set, Peter (the other playback technician) and I stopped into a breakfast place called Easy located on Queen street west near Roncesvalles (south east corner). As an aside, Easy is an amazing little breakfast place. If you're in the neighborhood go. On each table along with the salt and pepper shakers and maybe a bottle of ketcup there was a suger container with a blurb. Each table had a different blurb as far as well could tell. We only checked about three of them so if you go there and you find some blurbs that repeat... well you've got too much spare time on your hands.

The blurb, which might be a little hard to read, in the photo says "The contemplative life is often miserable. You should do more, think less and not watch yourself living.". Followed by the guy that who said those words, a Nicholas-Sebastien Chamfort.

People tell me this all the time. It's odd that the words really didn't sink in until I read it on a sugar container.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Gopher It!

An odd little visitor making the rounds.

I was just getting out stage one, the set for Mayday, heading to the truck when James noticed this little critter roaming around a few meters away. The gopher (I think) came closer then scurried away into the bush. James tried to coax it out with a left over french fry. It worked. I took this picture, then we left.

Gophers seem to be rare within the city limits. Usually one might spot a raccoon, or maybe even a skunk. Come to think of it a few nights ago we (Ryan, Kim, and I) actually did see a raccoon. It was crawling up a telephone poll trying to get away from us. Later on it climbed back down when it figured out that there was no where to go.

A baby raccoon.

If I should run into a skunk it goes without saying I will be sure to use a long lens.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I've got Gull. You can too!

Gull - close up, head side shot.

A few months ago I went to the beach and attempted to photograph the local gulls. Some of the pictures turned out okay but I felt the eyes were a little blurry. So today I decided to give it another try.

Gull - medium shot.

I tried the same technique. Prefocus the camera, throw a piece of bread with the left hand, wait for the bird to eat the bread or fly towards it, shoot with the right hand. The big change from the last time shooting that made a difference was that it was windy. The wind blowing at my back, head on into the birds, allowed the bird I was shooting to effectively hover in one spot without too much trouble. The hovering allowed me to take more time to focus (after the bread was thrown) with the right hand.

Gull - wide shot

I'm a bit happier with the shots only there wasn't any clouds in the sky for texture. I guess that will have to wait until the next time I go out.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Due dates are there for a reason!

A "found" loaf of bread teaming with some sort of copper colored bacteria.

"Oh! That's where that is!". How many times have I said that line while the sounds of a bugle playing the death march sounded in my brain? Plenty unfortunately. Yet another victim of refrigerator neglect. Shoved into the far reaches, in this case, the back of the fridge to be forgotten and left for dead. Later, perhaps months later, to be pulled out in a half mutated form.

This time was better. This time the victim could be identified. Not like the last one. The black ooze on the bottom of the lettuce crisper wrapped in a plastic bag. Lettuce? Banana? Onion? It was some kind of organic vegetable mutated into liquid form. Meat would stink more. Cheese would be more white maybe green.

Yes this is the exciting life of Derek Lang, fridge forensics officer! In a world where no egg is too smelly, meatball too green or yogurt too tasty, the victims are put into ziplock body bags where they won't stink up the apartment and can mix with the other garbage until the next trash pick up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Frizzy Head

Kim MacDonald - victim of frizzy head

After half a week of being sick. Coughing, vomiting, sweating, sore throat sick, that sort of thing, I eventually got better and made my way outside to the beach to play volley ball. Like most sports that I play the playing ends and we (the people playing) find ourselves out drinking and/or eating. Tonight was no exception as we ended up at Lick's, a local burger place, and later Captian Jack's, a local "seedy" pub. Before continuing on I would like to note for the record that Captain Jack's is not really "seedy". It just doesn't fit into the yuppified category that other bars in the beach area seem to fall into.

Kim was telling us how she was the victim of frizzy head, hair that puffs out when humid. Neither Ryan or I really noticed and I wondered if secretly that bugged her more, us not noticing that is. How many times has a male gotten into trouble because he didn't notice a new hair doo, dress, or make up application? Usually the result ends up being the women getting very angry or upset with the guy and the guy wondering what he did to deserve this. The worst is when the guy asks "What's wrong?"and the girl shoots back "I think you know!". The person that makes a brain implant to read these women brain waves will make a load of cash.

It's interesting what a female notices compared to what a male will notice on other women. The first thing to come to mind are fat ankles. Women seem to always notice fat ankles. I don't know why. What draws a womens eyes to the ankle area in the first place? Are they checking out the shoes and just happen to look up? Maybe the shoes are a good target to sully the other womens character. "Those shoes make her feet fat.". The fat ankle is just a bonus.

What about "bingo arms"? This is a term I picked up from Kyoko and Chris who in turn found out through some aussies while on a camping trip. "Bingo arm" is the arm of a bingo player. Usually stereotyped as over weight, the bingo person waves their enormous flabby arm when getting five numbers in a row and yelling "bingo". To add more insult there's a country that is associated with bingo arm but since we're making fun of over weight people playing bingo, well... that's probably enough discrimination for one blog entry.

Also I've noticed that if a women is shown a picture of a well dressed women that just happens to be large in the upper body area (large breasts) she will be labeled a "tart" even though the two women have never met. It can be pretty ugly when women judge other women. Do guys do this to other guys? Usually it's an attack on the other guys character. "Look at that loser". It's rarely ever "Look at those fat ankles".

Then again there are the exceptions to the rule as one reads about the Elephant man or the Hunchback of Notre Dame. But those guys were pretty hideous. Maybe that's what it takes? Guys with features so hideous that even a blind person would notice. It goes then that women can be a lot meaner when it comes to criticism. At least based on this bloggers observation.

"Hell hath no fury like that of a woman...". They should just end that line there. Leave out the scorned part.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Girls: The Other Attraction.

The Molson Indy girls sign autographs. Starting from right to left Yanka Clementi, Denise Thomson, Zarah Pacheco and Stephanie Marson.

When a newbie thinks about the Molson Indy or any car race for that matter images of sweating under a blistering hot sun while waiting for the cars to whiz by every so often come to mind. The highlight of the race being cars crashing into one another and seeing who comes in first. Well okay maybe just the cars colliding with something.

As your official newbie race fan/reseacher the first thing I noticed upon entering the gates was the large number of attractive females that visit and/or work the event itself. Gorgeous women everywhere. It was like a machine was dropping them off via conveyer belt. Who knew? The beer company that's who.

Dawne Furey Miss Molson Indy contestant #9

First there's the girls that were part of the model search for the Molson Indy girl. Then there were the "beer" girls working the event. Some of them playing volleyball and just standing around being eye candy, some of them working to sell you drinks, food, or give out free stuff. Yes free stuff. I got handed a free razor and a bottle of "dippity do" hair gel. Aside from the official females working the event there are of course the spectators. One wonders if the cars racing around is just an excuse to gather all these women together in one place.

Ashley and Natalie work the VIP area.

So okay, aside from the oggling of women and the cars racing around the track, I managed to find other things to do. There's the pit. This is where the car technicians change tires, parts, basically tune up the racing vehicle during the race. It's incredible seeing these teams in action. The speed at which they upgrade the car and get it going again is amazing. Although the super photo pass (SPP) doesn't let you shoot while the main (champ) car race is on it does let you get in while they're doing practice runs.

If you want to see the cars being worked on at a slower pace you can check out the paddocks. The paddocks is an area that you have to pay extra to see if you have a normal ticket. As a SPP holder this is included. The paddocks is where the team trucks are located. Tents are put up next to the trucks to create assembly areas for the cars. If you're a fan of technology this is one of the best places to see the car with the engine exposed. I suppose it would be like the outdoor version of being in a garage. The technician will use various devices to take readings on the car and adjust things accordingly. You can get some good shots of fiddling. Bring a long lens as the car areas have partitions keeping people from getting too close.

Then there's the convention center with vendors selling everything from food and beer to car polish, T-shirts and toy cars, and don't forget those ever popular orange chamois. The same chamois that they seem to sell at every other convention. If you're not in the mood to buying anything you can sit back and watch whatever is going on stage while eating an over priced sandwich.

With tickets from the indy you could check out the Grand Tuner show, a show that ran concurrently with the rest of the Indy. In this show you could see cars that have been "pimped out", modified for all us old people. Everything from putting flouresent lights under the car, adjusting the wheels for the low rider effect, to adding video screens next to your licence plate. I wondered about the purpose of this. Maybe the video screen would confuse the officer taking down your licence plate number while speeding? Whatever happened to just having a really good paint job?

There are actually contests dedicated to seeing who has the loudest speaker system. "Would you like a car with your speaker system?" comes to mind. The whole back trunk fits the woofer and nothing else. I suppose it's good to have a hobby. It's not as geeky as pimping out your computer. By the way, you can get flouresent strips for inside your computer that pulse to your audio output. Somehow I can't see that really impressing the chicks. With a car at least you can drive her home.

When done looking at the cars and their steroid speaker systems you could then go to the other side of the room and check out the imported models. Two girls from the sunny land of California, Jeri Lee and Melanie Tillbrook. An obvious attempt at using sex or at least the allure of the opposite sex to guarantee a certain attendance and demographic. If the two girls weren't enough pull, the Grand Tuner show also had their version of the Miss Molson Indy, the Grand Tuner Bikini competition.

Asia, one of the contestants of the Miss Grand Tuner contest.

Like a moth to bright light people would hover around the stage waiting to see what was to be seen. I noticed that the group was composed of 20% females. I would guess that they had friends competing, were dragged to watch the contest by their boyfriends, or were there to try to grab the free stuff being thrown into the crowds by the people on stage unknowing of what was to come.

The girls filed out one at a time. Sunny, the winner of the CHIN contest was there as well as some other familiar faces. As the guys in the crowd became more rowdy I noticed the female population of the crowd scurry out of the front lines. Probably to get some air and avoid being trampled. Half naked girls with free stuff being thrown at you is a good recipe for a destroyed camera if one is not careful. With zealots jumping all around me trying to grab free stuff or get the girl on stage's attention I decided it was statisically safer to shoot fast moving cars from behind a concrete block and fence.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Practice Run

One of the offical blue vested photographers sits next to a photo window with Mario Dominguez flying by for Team Forsythe Championship Racing

Before being allowed to stand next to the track, a super photo pass holder has to attend a safety meeting to go over a few rules.
1. You cannot wear red or yellow clothing.
- these are the colors of the warning flags that get stuck out of holes similar to the photo holes to warn drivers that there might be an accident on the track.

2. You cannot lean on the fence or kneel on both legs while shooting.
- this is just in case the car gets out of control and decides to head right for you. Kneeling on one knee you can get up out of the way faster.

3. You cannot use the concrete block holding up the fence as a shelf for stuff.
- if a car does hit the concrete block it's going pretty fast. The collision could destroy your gear and/or turn them into flying debris.

4. You must wear long pants
- I didn't get this rule. I just figured it had something to do with flying debris.

5. You must give priority to offical media to use the photo hole.
- obviously the media guy gets paid to take the "good" shots. Sometimes that's all the money they might make as some newpapers only really pay by the photo taken.

After the safety meeting one of the guys told us how one of the cars, during the practice run, ran right into the concrete block he was standing in front of. The block was moved 6 inches towards him.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Super Photo Pass

The 40 minute line up at Gate 9.

It all started about a week ago when I decided to pick up a ticket to the Molson Indy. As I'm a computer user the web seemed like a good place to start. Log in, purchase ticket, log out. Seemed simple enough. Surfing around I found a offical molson indy web site. It describes all the tickets, events, and even had a large map that you can download as a PDF file. If interested in buying tickets you click a button and get bumped off to ticketmaster to purchase them on line.

One ticket that caught my eye was the "Super Photo Pass". It was expensive. It figures. Priced at a whopping $250, it was a lot more than the standard entrance fee of $20.00 for a day. The SPP was good for all three days allowing access to the paddocks, track and even the pit (not during the champ car race but during the practice and time trials).

As my main purpose to go was to go to take a few pictures the super photo pass seemed like a good idea. What's the point of spending $50 - 60 if you can't see anything unobstructed by fences? In for a penny in for a pound and all that. I clicked over to the ticket master site. They only had gold seating. The SPP wasn't even listed. Maybe they were sold out. Gold tickets weren't too bad. I could see the cars cross the finish line and I'd have a place to sit (baking in the sun). With the super photo pass you don't actually get a seat as you're supposed to be wandering around the track taking pictures. Reluctantly I clicked on the gold ticket option.

Most web sites are fat by 1990 standards. That is to say that someone with a modem using dial up has to wait quite a long time to get a page to download with all the fancy graphics and java scripting. To be honest it's because most people do not know how to optimize a web site, instead they rely on programs to do it for them. The result being fat jpegs and redundant code and long download times.

Yes I'm a dinosaur with a modem. I don't really know why but I like the option of being able to switch the modem off with a hardware switch. I suppose I could jury rig my computer to switch off the ethernet port. But like the guys that design those fat web sites I'm just too lazy to bother.

When ordering tickets, Ticketmaster, thanks to their infinite wisdom has a small graphic that pops up with text. You have to read it (sometimes it's warped) and retype it into a text box below. It's so the site doesn't get bombarded by automated programs trying to purchase tickets. Added to this is a timeout feature. The "feature" releases the tickets that you are buying if you do not respond in the allocated time thus allowing another lucky user to buy them. Problem is the time out is only one and a half minutes. It takes about a minute and 10 seconds for me to download the page.

By the time I entered in all my billing information the web site reponds with a text window saying that my ticket has been released. After three attempts at speed entering I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to get my ticket this way. To speed up entry I even tried typing all my info into word pad so I could just copy and paste each line as the web page popped up. No such luck.

It then occured to me that ticketmaster has a phone line. After finding it on the Indy site I gave it a call. I was greeted by a cheerful operator who informed me that you could still buy SPP tickets. He then told me of the small service fee involved (just under $10). Since I made more progress over the phone in two minutes than on line I thought the service charge was pretty reasonable.

He told me I could get the tickets mailed to me but thought it would be better if I just picked them up at the track on the day. It seemed logical and a good idea at the time. After giving me a serial number he told me to just show up at the ticket booth with my photo ID and credit card.

Fast forward to today. Friday, July 8th, 2005. I woke up late. Originally I wanted to get up and get to the track at 7:30am. I could wander around, checking out the place to figure where to shoot at specific times of the day. My pillow would not let me wake up until 9:30. I dragged myself out of bed and headed out the door on autopilot towards the Canadian National Exhibition where the Indy was taking place.

Walking toward the ticket booth I noticed that there was no one in line. Fantastic. I guess I arrived earlier than I thought. The guy in the ticket booth, after realizing I was trying to get a SPP told me that I had to get my picture taken to be put on the ticket. He told me it would be a lot easier if I were to go to the Skydome to get my ticket and get my photo done in the same place. As I was a bit early and the guy told me it was only a ten minute walk and there really wasn't another choice in the matter I headed toward the Skydome and the Renassance Hotel.

Twenty five minutes later I arrived at the hotel. There wasn't any signage that made sense so I asked a girl working the front desk. She told me in order to pick up tickets I had to go to Gate 9 on the other side of the Skydome. Okay fine. When I got there there was a line up right out to the side walk. There were two guys working the ticket box and seemed to be taking their time.

Forty minutes later I finally got my ticket but was required to get my photo ID from the hotel. Arg! The guy at the track could have given me the same ticket. I went back into the hotel looking for signage for the "credentials" room. About half and hour went by and I bumped into another photographer looking for the same room. Finally we found a very small sign which was previously covered by a luggage wagon. It told us that it was on the second floor.

The elevators all had buttons to go down and none to go up. I asked a resturant employee for directions. They told me to head for the fire exit. Bob (the other photographer) and I finally got to the second floor where we followed a narrow hallway to an open room. It was sectioned off for photos, SPP, and media. There were a bunch of people with laptops and TV screens. It sure looked like we stepped into an official room of some sort. Bob went off to get his media pass. I went to the table label SPP.

The women got me to sign a bunch of papers. In case I got hit by a car or flying debris I wouldn't sue. I also had to sign a contract stating that I could not use any of my images for commercial use. Thanks for letting me know at this point and not earlier. The photos could still be used to fatten the ole portfolio I kept telling myself.

The pople in the room looked bored. But once I approached them they were cheery. I just a bit of it rubbed off. I didn't feel so bad being led around for the last few hours. I finally got my photo and headed back to the CNE. The process took three hours in total.

One of the good things that resulted from all this is that I bumped into Ashley who I haven't seen in a while. She was running of to work at the VIP room while I was waiting for a safety meeting to begin. If I got the track earlier I would have went to the earlier meeting and we would never have met. It's funny how things work out.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Party in the Street

The pre-Molson Indy street party on John street

With the Molson Indy just around the corner. Molson (canadian beer company) closed off part of John street just south of CityTV to put on a street party. The main area of activities was fenced off to keep the beer drinkers in and the under aged kids out. On display there were some cars, girls standing in front or along side the cars, girls serving beer, girls serving food, and just girls with Molson Canadian labeled shirts.

One of the activities offered was allowing a person to see how fast he or she could change tires using a power wrench that one might find in a pit at the race track. There were two setups so you could race someone else. I wonder if people did this for drinks? It would be interesting to see a power wrench in a person's drunken hand. Maybe not.

In the middle of the street in front of the Lucid lounge a stage was set up for some pre show musical talent, prize give aways, Salad (a feature band), and of course a Molson Indy Girl talent search. Translation: Girls in Bikinis. For the most part the street in front of the stage wasn't too crowded. At around 8:30pm about a half hour before the "girls" came on the crowd started to gather. While looking for Simon and waiting I met a few other photographers. Some pro some hobbyists.

I found out through these guys that this model search had been going on for the last month. The girls had been weeded out down to these last few. These were the cream of the crop. The search had taken place at a bunch of various bars through out the month of June. Some of the photographers were showing pictures of their work from the previous venues. It gave me inspiration. If these guys can get work on a regular basis then why can't I?

The girls would eventually parade out in Molson Indy Red and blck and white checkered bikinis. Following that they would change, show up on stage in some themed bikini garb (Baywatch suimsuit) with music that they picked out themselves giving the judges and watchers a sample of their character.

contestant number 9 - Dawne Furey with her "Surfer Girl" theme.

Doing some research later I found that the bathing suit that each girl wore was something they had to buy or own already. Also they had to apply their own makeup and buy their own shoes. The shoes actually had to meet a corporate level of shoe critria. There's actually a web site that has examples of good shoes and bad shoes (drat the site has been updated and the shoe section taken off otherwise you would have seen a link for it here). One would think that if a girl wore bad shoes (and people noticed) that would give her lower points on her final score.

Also after shooting a fashion show I would have thought that there would have been make up artists for a contest like this. It could be that the judges want to know the girls personality through their application of makeup but I think it's just a way for them to be cost effective. Then again good make up and wardrobe can improve one's attractivness and I suppose if the girl didn't know how to do either, well, she could end up with a pretty low overall score. So okay no help from external sources.

Girls that have no shoe sense? For some reason I can't imagine this but hey you never know. It's good to know that a beer company sets a standard for things like this. Because if a beer company doesn't set these standards who will? (He says with a sheepish grin)

At the end of the day I don't drink beer (of any sort-too gaseous) but if invited to a party will gladly buy a pack for friends that do (provided they request it) and what name will I think of? Molson Canadian of course. Those beer guys know what they're doing.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Laer's Birthday Cake

Laer attempting to blow out the candles on his cake.

In Canada and some other countries around the world it is customary to blow out all the candles on your cake. The number of candles coincide with the number of years you have been around and you only get one breath to extinguish them all. If successful you get a birthday wish granted. A Lego train set, peace on earth, a new Nikon lens, sex with two members of the opposite sex (at the same time of course and on a regular basis), whatever it's up to you.

Generally, a birthday wish is done just before attempting to blow out the candles. That said it then seems that you're most likely to get your birthday wish, blow out your candles, in your teens. A) there aren't as many candles to blow out, B) you have better coordination than when you're one or two.

Chances are when you were one or two you really didn't know what you wanted anyway. You just wanted someone to change your diaper on a regular basis and maybe feed you, maybe both. Also at that ripe young age you probably had the help of your parent blowing out your candles for you thus negating your diaper wish. At that age the birthday was proably more for the parents anyway. It's to pat themselves on the back for dealing with you for so long and surviving with all, mostly all, their hair intact.

On the opposite end of the spectrum when you get older and the candles accumulate to the point that there's no exposed birthday cake, when you put your face to the cake you can feel it getting 20 degrees hotter, maybe it's at this point that you should be thankful that you've lived that long and forego the birthday wish. Your hair didn't catch fire gettting close to all those candles. That could be a great birthday wish. That is if you still have hair.

Laer didn't blow out all the candles with one breath but in his attempt he gave me an idea. In order to help your friend blow out all the candles, one could buy or make a smaller cake thus reducing the surface area of where to put the candles. Doing this would allow for more of the breath to be blowing candle instead of cake. Do we really want cake spit on our cake slice? It seems to be a win win situation.

Quick hide your children! It's Darryl... just Darryl.

One could just put all the candles in one spot creating an inferno in the middle of the cake (see Darryl's Birthday). Now that I think about it Darryl couldn't blow out that inferno on one go so forget about that theory. All the candles clumped together made for a bigger fire in general. Might as well try putting out a bon fire. I suppose the easiest way to let the birthday boy or girl off the hook is to buy those birthday candles that are digits. Then you'd be dealing with only two maybe three digits.

If you wanted to make the blowing out easier but not too easy you could buy ones and zeros and put the age in binary. Wow, now that's geeky.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

That Blows

A "toy" I saw in Chinatown.

Looking for a possible gift for Laer (it's his birthday tomorrow) I ended up downtown. Chinatown to be exact. They usually have the latest japanese imports and/or ripoffs in terms of toys or gadgets. I saw this and gave up searching soon after. Who makes this stuff?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Subway Workouts

TTC rider exercising. And I thought eating on the go was a time saver.

In all my years of commuting I don't think I've ever seen a guy hanging upside down from the subway poles. Maybe I just don't ride "the better way" enough at odd hours. I suppose it's better than kids vandalizing posters or ripping of ad signs and tearing through the seats with knives. This guy was a threat to himself.

He looked pretty clumsy. Like I was watching a bad kung fu movie with a real low budget. Maybe writers could use something like this for the next Remo Williams movie. The main character is poor so before he can beat up and bad guys he has to train on a train. Prefecting his coordination and combat skills before climbing a large structure with scafolding.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Canada Day!

Sunny (left) being interviewed during the evening wear segment of the contest before winning the title of Miss CHIN bikini.

Friday July 1st. Canada Day. Part of the tradition of celebrating Canada Day is going to the CHIN picnic where you can see everything from food eating contests, music, and the ever popular Bikini contest. There's also a show for the opposite sex called the Mr. CHIN for anyone that's interested.

Years ago I made the front page of the Toronto Star (or was it the sun) as I was the pack mule for my father and all his camera gear. Back then I shot with a Kodak brownie. I think I was in grade 4, 5 maybe even grade 6 at the time. The shot was of me standing next to my Dad. He had a camera and was concentrating on the contestants while I had all the camera gear wrapped around my neck.

Back then I don't think I really understood the full appreciation of good bikini design and the girl wearing it. So now making up for lost time I have to say that a good bikini really isn't that hard to find if one knows where to go or look. Not every girl can wear them just like not every guy can wear a thong. Sorry for putting that picture in your head.

Bikini example worn by Sunny

Bikinis have been around for about 59 years. They were first introduced to the world by a guy from France named Louis RĂ©ard on July 5, 1946. And who said this blog wasn't educational? I wonder if they have a statue of this guy somewhere? Before that bathing suits had a lot more coverage and were made of of a minimum of six pieces of clothing. So was it that Louis wanted to see more skin? or was it that he didn't want to carry his girl friend's outfit when swimming? Hmmmm....

Photographers gather around to get some photo time with the winner (Sunny) and the runners up of the Miss CHIN bikini contest.

The attendence for the bikini contest was packed seating at the CNE band shell. The contest was about two hours long and if one wanted good seats (near the front middle) one would have to get there early by about an hour to do so. So for about three hours you were sitting in the hot sun. Luckily I met up with other people. While I sat in the sun waiting and holding their seats I could get them to get water and food.

Not an easy task as angry people showing up later on would complain saying that you couldn't save seats. It's amazing how people can get real ugly when good looking women in bathing suits are involved. One old guy sat down and refused to leave when politely asked to. Another guy sitting directly behind him was more forceful and verbally abusive. The old guy moved somewhere else a little pissed off. It's a good thing people don't carry sticks and/or clubs with them.

After the title of miss CHIN bikini was announced, Sunny, and her runners up walked around the CNE grounds with the official and not so official photographers following them. Something I noticed was the the offical photographer always shot them with the sun at their backs. I would think this would make for a sillouettte shot unless you were using a flash. And if you were using a flash wouldn't that make them look flat?

Someone told me that the photographer didn't like sharing his models. If that were the case then shooting them with the flash into the sun would eliminate most hobbyists as they probably wouldn't know enought to use a flash and if they did they may not have enough flash power to lighten the girls significantly with their less than professional gear. Sneaky. You know I could be analyzing this way to much.

Simon Mah (photograher to the Stars) and his model friends.

One photographer I met at the show, Simon, knew some of the contestants and spent some time talking to them giving support and advice and was included in the odd family photo. As with most people photographers I noticed Simon is quite a nice guy who is very personable while still maintaining a level of professionalism. Most guys would be hollering or hooting some kind of wolf calls. It was that type of demographic that we were surrounded by. Not a great example of the male character perhaps.

As a photographer you have to be at least a bit personable to make the subject feel at ease while shooting them. So yelling out "Nice Tits!" might not go over well. At least not with most of the women there. But what do I know? If you can't make a person feel at ease then shooting people, especially nude people shouldn't be your thing. I'm probably putting my foot in my mouth right now as the exceptions are putting up their hands.

You can see Simon's work at and the odd copy of Urban Male Magazine. Be warned that there may be nudity and obviously may not be suited for under aged kids... at least not until they're in grade 4, 5, or was it 6.