Monday, October 31, 2005

Trick or Treat

actual Lego figures from various sets

It's time to lock the doors, turns off the lights and hide behind the couch... unless you have goodies for those dressed up kids on your street. Me? I'm lucky enough have my entrance in the back of the house. So no candies for kids this year. Unless the kid is me. Tonight I wanted to go around and take pictures of the neighborhood houses. There's a number of them that have incredible set ups fpr scaring/entertaining the kids. Maybe next year.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Darryl selling issue #1 of HLAP at Canzine

Sunday afternoon. I made my way from the photo exhibit to CANzine at the Gladstone hotel. It was crazy packed and took me about half and hour to locate Darryl. In the last week or so Darryl had been putting together HLAP #1. I wanted to see the final product to A) see what exactly it was and B) to see what photos he ended up using.

Raymi displays a work of art.

Not being able to stand the being squashed part of the show I decided to check out the upstairs part of the hotel. It really was packed with people trying to move down narrow aisles of magazine pushers. That's where the picture of what I thought was a hamster caught my eye. Turns out it was a gopher, or alligator. Last year it was a postcard of a slug from Montreal (which by the way is still on my refrigerator), this year the gopher. I don't really know what possessed me to buy it. Perhaps the roundness of the thing drew me toward it. I don't know. Later on when showing it to Darryl, he speculated that it looked like something I would draw. So maybe that's it.

Jubilant Essence

Anna-Lea, Photographer

At 260 Carlaw there was an open house featuring pilates and yoga classes and displaying the photography works of Anna-Lea Boeki. Comprising of a compilation of nature photographs, one of them being a creepy forest alluding to fairies and leprechauns. A photo interesting on its own but enhanced by Anna-Lea's picture taking experience as told by her. It sent shivers down my spine with that one.

Originally when I thought of leprechauns the images of Darby O'gill and the little people or the box of lucky charms came to mind. Happy, mischievous, little elves dressed in green with a pot of gold that sing and dance. It wasn't until a few years ago that leprechauns became synonymous with the gold happy, greedy, little, ugly drawf that violently killed people to get his gold back thanks to the movie series starring Warwick Davis (the same actor from Willow). Although it can't really be taken seriously, they did do a space movie after all, it still diminishes those happy childhood memories.

If you get a chance wander on down to the studio and have a look. 260 Carlaw, unit 209b. Just north of Queen street.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bibles at the Bovine

Tijuana Bibles play the Bovine sex club

Saturday night. I'm at the Bovine sex club where there's a zombie make up artist adding some blood curdling detail to some lucky winners faces. It would be another hour before the Tijuana Bibles hit the stage and start their set. Everyone, except for me it seems, is dressed up in some halloween garb. From a fairy godmother, to stinky pirates and everything inbetween, the bovine was packed with people.

Stacy gets zombie make up done by Karen of

Bomb experts?


Lemon and Ginger tea

During a long seven hour wait for the police. It's a long story but the long and the short of it is that we required 14th division to get into my cousins old apartment. At one point, after standing outside for about four hours I decided to move inside where I could sit down. What do you know? Dufflets pastry shop was right behind us. Eating and taking the above picture kept me occupied for maybe ten minutes.

Even with the work to rule going on, the police have always seemed to respond slowly to non-emergency calls. They should have a service that automatically calls you when the police are on their way. That way you can sit inside or sleep somewhere until they show up. What's the point of meeting them outside at 1pm if they don't show up until 8pm. I suppose it's good that it's not snowing yet.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Leather Uppers

The Leather Uppers

One of the cool things about this two man band is that they switch places on guitar and drums half way during the set, all while sporting the 70s look. In case you didn't notice Craig (the one playing guitar below) is also in the Tijuana Bibles.

Groovy Greg Tymoshenko (drums/guitar) and Graig Daniels (guitar/drums).

Starvin Hungry

StarvinHungry - right to left Eric Larock (Bass), Scott Mucklow (guitar), John Milchem (vocals, guitar), and Spencer Warren (drums)

After eating a burger at Natasha's birthday gathering I headed over to the horseshoe tavern to shoot the "Leather Uppers". The band that preceeded them were "Starvin Hungry", a band from Montreal. A band that was pretty good. I ended up picking up their CD and buying their T-shirt. I suppose it was their logo on the shirt that hooked me. It's a picture of a drawn hot dog.

Scott Mucklow (guitar)

I also seemed to get some pretty good shots of the band. The lighting was just right or their placement under the lights was just right. Maybe a bit of both.

They like me, they really like me.

Christos brings in the surprsied Natasha

Friday night I arrived at the Foggy Dew to add another body to the surprise birthday gathering. As most surprise birthdays are generally flops this one went pretty well. Natasha, my ex-roommate, was actually crying with tears of joy (or maybe anger that her boyfriend could pull a stunt like this off without her knowing) when she showed up.

A quick cut and paste panaramic picture of the people that showed up

"Hey Monica, That'll teach you to make faces at the lens."

The birthday continues...

What's a birthday without cake.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hotel Happy

James, 24frame Playback Technician

Today I got some work on a show called "Hotel Metropolitan". Above you can see my employer, James, in front of a bunch of gear we were using for the show. It was a long day that seemed to take forever to pass. To help pass the time I stuffed my face (all day) eating ju-jubes. One of the perks of working on a film set.

In the end I was happy to have gotten some work (job C) after passing up work (job A) for another job (job B) only to find the other job (job B) got cancelled. Does that make sense?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Family Visitor

Cousin Dave

Anyone that knows me probably also knows that I'm not that close to the family like some other people are. I don't visit my parents on a weekly basis and I can go without seeing them for months (and yes they live in the same city). It may seem odd to outsiders but it is our way. I don't think I keep in touch with any relatives for the most part.

So it may seem bizzare that my cousin Dave is going to be visiting for a while as he sorts out his apartment status. Since my apartment is really only large enough for me. Having my cousin around makes it cramped. That said. It's actually nice to have family around. Especially someone you haven't seen for years. For one thing it forces you to clean. Not just to impress the other person or convince them that you don't live in a dive but just so it's easier to find things. Especially if someone else living there is moving stuff around.

I admit I've been doing my laundry more frequently where now my clean piles of clothing out number the dirty piles. So okay maybe I was living in a dive. It's amazing how much one can let themselves go if left unchecked.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Red Eye

My eyeball upon waking up

I woke up with a very red eye this morning. What the heck? Did I poke my eyeball while sleeping? If so, with what? Of course I had to take a picture to share with all of you. I'm actually getting pretty good at shooting my own eye with a flash in one hand and the camera in the other. It only took about 30 tries to get this shot.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Beware the Furry Onion

It was time once again to do the monthly random inspection of the refrigerator. Well okay, I usually don't look through the fridge for bad food on purpose. I look through the fridge to make room for more stuff. That's when I found a plastic cup with an onion in it. When I pulled out the onion, the side that was in the cup, had grown a perfect looking furry side. It looked like a candy floss onion. Probably wouldn't taste too good though.

So in the spirit of not wasting food... entirely, I decided to shoot it and create the above masterpiece. I call it "Onion Planet".

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Darryl's Brain

Sunday. Today I was asked to help take some pictures at Darryl's place. One wonders what goes on in that mind of his to come up with ideas like putting a disposable camera into a plastic water bottle, among all the other porn and non-porn related stuff. But more importantly where is all this going?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cold and Rainy

Looking out of the side rear window on the the way to Doom.

I woke up today feeling completely crappy. My camera hand felt like it was going to fall off and my left shoulder was in pain. Overall, I was sore all over. Was it because of the cold air hitting me at night? Or was it from freezing last night and lugging my normally not so heavy camera bag? I think I'm going to have to upgrade that thing to something that will evenly distribute the weight of all my gear (which I still say isn't that much).

I crawled out of bed to get to the weekly dim sum meet to find that no one would show up. Later on I found Marc had shown up but arrived after I had finished eating my food and left. It all seemed to work out anyway. I felt awful from the time I got up and decided after eating to get home as quickly as I could so I could go back to bed and pass out.

I woke, around 2pm, in time to call Michelle to meet up to see a friend of hers perform at second city. It was cancelled. As luck would have it I turned away a job to see the second city performance. If I took the job I probably would have done a lousy job as it took most of my energy to stand up straight without collapsing.

Later that evening, feeling a bit better, and despite Marc's warnings about movies based on video games and how they all sucked, Michelle, Marc, and I ended up seeing Doom. Not a bad movie if you want a action movie based on a game you played 12 years ago. Like most video game based movies there really wasn't much to it. Lots of killing of weird ass creatures, and the use of weapons that made the game fun. I was throughly entertained.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Red Hot Dating

Ashley, hostess of the Red Hot dating competition.

My evening started by getting an email a few days ago asking if I wanted to attend an event that Ashley would be hostessing. "Why not?", afterall it's been a while since I've seen her with my busy bird watching schedule and the odd days of work. That, and her being in Europe. Despite our two busy schedules we've managed to keep in touch through the odd email.

The event was some what of a mystery. I was told that the event was a pageant of some kind and that it was taking place at a club called "Metro". I arrived a tad early. I wanted to scope out the place to see where I might be likely to get the best angles for photos. I noticed the mean looking doorman/bouncer and I told him I was on the list. The list which apparently he never received.

After a bit of questioning and a firm "Stand right there" I was greeting by another person, a female, "Who are you?". She seemed to have no idea who Ashley was or this pageant that was taking place. I wondered if I was on the right door step. After a bit more questioning I was told to follow her inside. We went downstairs to a security room where I was greeted by more bouncer types. Luckily Ashley saw me and was IDed the bouncers became very friendly. "You have one of the luckiest jobs in the world.... being a photographer and shooting all the good looking chicks."

After a few more minutes of getting acquainted I made my way upstairs to the main dance room and the stage. When you have a camera, not a dinky thing like my 990, but an SLR probably of any model it's incredible how many people come up to you and ask for their picture to be taken. Male, female, young, old. If I had a nickel for every girl that just turned 21 and wanted a picture taken with their friends or the guy with two girls wanting a picture to use to brag to his friends that didn't show up. Incredible.

As I meandered my way through a mass of soft, scented, gyrating bodies, cleavage, and exposed leg I came to the conclusion "Wow! I'm old!", "I'll bet most of these people were born after StarWars (1977)", "Did they even know what it meant to get up and change channels using a TV knob or if the knob was broken a wrench or pliers?", "I am going straight to hell".

The epiphany of how young the demographic was only made me pause for a moment. After that I went into photographer mode. "I've got a camera and the the bouncers like me dammit."I became a fly on the wall, be it with a very bright flash, determined to do my best to capture the very essence of the event.

The event was for the Red Hot dating network. Which boiled down to a small bikini, lingerie contest... small in terms of number of contestants as opposed to small bikinis and lingerie. The top three winners winning a few hundred bucks and a few prizes being given away to the fortunate few who filled out ballots. The main prize was a trip to a destination of your choice one of which was Las Vegas. How fun is that?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Silver Elvis, a Beaver, and a bunch more people in silver

Silver Elvis (for more info check out

One might think that the combination of these three items would be the signalling of the apocalypse. Either that or one should buy a lottery ticket or there's a pig somewhere flying out of a person's butt. Whatever the case, it was all very entertaining.

Beaver Guy

I found out that the beaver walking around with a guy in a banana suit (not pictured as the suit was kinda of lame) were some guys promoting a band called the "Bloodhound Gang". They were doing a bit of self promotion in front of the Much Music/CityTV building.

"Is there a radiation leak somewhere I should know about?"

As for the Silver people, that I can't really explain. At first I just thought it was a couple in some outlandish rain coats, but then there were more of them. I was reminded of the bits and bites snack that you buy in boxes. There are two silver bags in those boxes containing the food. Okay they were not preserving themselves for later consumption.

Next, something more plausible, I did hear on the radio that there was this new underwear made with silver that prevented underwear stink. Could this be an ad campaign?

A Wizard of Oz try out for the tin man? A Silver Surfer movie? A new solar sheeting for insulation? A Jiffy pop ad campaign? A silver man group because being blue was taken? TV dinners? Aluminum foil promotions? The list seemed to go on and on.

In the end I never found out what they were doing in the silver suits.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Photo Novels

A one page attempt at a photo novel I started a few years ago.

Darryl is creating a small zine based on the hard liquor and porn theme. So as a submission I thought I'd create a small comic strip, much like the one you see above, only with better photography.

Photo comics are not a new thing. They seemed to be a fad while I was growing up. Then they just died off as quickly as they became popular. I had a number of books as a kid but lost them somewhere down the road.

Recently, within the last two years, I managed to pick up the StarTrek, "Devil in the Dark", novel from Monster Records. At about the same time I got inspired to create the page above. I seem to remember it being time consuming. Not just taking the photos and putting balloons on them but to also hunt for the other pictures.

The photo of Toronto was a picture that I took looking out the window of a plane while flying to the States. It's total luck that I happened to get a window seat on the proper side of the plane. The light bulb above Darryl's head was actually a picture I took way before the comic. I'm not really sure why. Perhaps I thought "Some day I might need a light bulb picture" and what do you know? I did.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Buffalo, New York

The Walden Galleria shopping mall

When I think of Buffalo the first things to come to mind are all the brain washings from watching TV as a kid. TOPs friendly markets, Rocketship 7 with Commander Tom, eye witness news, Channel 4 news with Irv Winstien, "it's eleven o'clock do you know where your children are?", the random fire in Cheektowaga, the random fire in north Tonawanda, and the pre FOX channel WUTV 29 of which I watched hordes of cartoons before the CN tower was built and seemed to jam the signal.

Not surprisingly, when we did spot a TOPs Friendly market, I had to resist the urge to jump out of the van and go there to buy a box of Cookie Crisp. The cereal that was banned from entering Canada for one reason or another. The thing about Cookie Crisp was it resembled small penny sized chocolate chip cookies that tasted like chocolate chip cookies when you added milk.

The important part was adding the milk. This I found out when travelling to New York city to visit a cousin. I bought a box of cereal to get to my cousin's place only to find he didn't have milk. I took matters into my own hands and ate the cereal right out of the box. After all, they were mini cookies how bad could they be? I think chewing on milk bones had more flavor, especially the little green milk bones.

Years later, I found at the time of purchase the cereal was made by Ralston (Ralston Purina, makers of dog and cat food). To make things right at the time of having the actual cereal in my hands and just to make sure the TV brain washing wasn't a bizzare attempt at getting a kid to part with his money on a cookie taste thing I ran out to make a separate trip for milk. Once back I flooded the bowl of dry cookie-like things. Like the commercial stated they stayed crisp in milk. It was like adding the milk was magic. They really did taste like little choclate chip cookies. Wow, they were good! How could I doubt a TV commercial for cereal again?

As an interesting side, the mascot of the cereal was a "magical" wizard named Cookie Jarvis (what else?) that protected the cereal from a thieving burglar. I don't know if the burglar had a name but he always got caught with his hands in the cookie jar and the cereal always managed to get to the deserving kids. Kids that should have been me.

Buffalo today. Why were we there? Why to go to the Walden Galleria of course. A rather large-ish shopping mall that would rival Toronto's Eaton Centre if it were slightly bigger and had more natural light. As with the cereal there's always neat stuff that they sell in the States that they don't offer in Canada. For example hunting equipment. Rows and rows of guns, rifles, and crossbows that could shoot a dart easily through a small tree. It made me shudder while in the section looking for a duck whistle.

Sure guns don't kill people. People kill people. But if you take away the guns, killing people becomes a bit more difficult. People would have to work at it. Guns are like the infra red TV remote control. Whereas if you were to use a knife to kill it would be like using a dial on the TV you'd turn to manually change the channel.

Take channel surfing. Would people change channels the same amount of times at the same frequency if it involved getting up off the lazy boy, going over across the room, over to the the dial on the TV, and back to the lazy boy? Compared to clicking the remote. I'd bet a lot more infomercials and crappy TV programming would be watched just because we are too lazy to change channels that way. Same thing with a gun. Just whip it out, pop the guy off, put the gun away. Effortless. With a knife. Take a hold of the knife in the back pocket, think the gruesome thoughts, then take the hand off the knife because you've already spent way too much resources and it's just too much effort involved.

A duck whistle. Yes a duck whistle. Since there aren't that many hunting stores in Toronto that I know of. At least downtown. I thought a duck whistle would be a great thing to buy since it seems there's a hunting section in every sports store (see convenient and laziness comes into play here as well) and I've been photographing all these birds recently. Bird photography good. Bird hunting bad. Plus it's great device to use before leaving your verbal response on a telephone answering machine.

The Smooth Talker coming to an answering machine near you.

To my surprise there were many makes of duck whistles. Some even came with instructional videos (VHS and DVD). The names of the whistle models were great. "Smooth Talker", "Yo, Sista", "P.H.A.T. Lady", "The Hag", "Original Wench" . Really, they exist. Some were single reed and some like the "Smooth Talker" were double. What that really means I don't know it just sounded more impressive and because of that was also a bit more expensive. Heck it could have said "contains no MSG" and I would have bought it.

Thinking "How hard could using a duck whistle be?", I opted to overlook the whistles that included the video instructions. There are only two ends. A duck whistle ranks up the musical chain next to a wooden block or triangle. Besides, on the back of each package, video or not, there was a short description telling how to use the whistle. One of my favorites being "Make the whistle sound natural". Not only simple instructions but all encompassing.

I guess it was put there for the same people that chain saw packaging put "Do not stop with genital area". Although to misuse a duck whistle is probably less dangerous. Unless you get pecked to death by all the ducks wanting you to stop using the device. Mind you, duck beaks are rounded. You'd get bludgeoned to death as opposed to speared to death. Stay away from the Blue Heron. Now that bird has a spear (see previous entry). Conclusion: Ducks are cute, harmless, and funny looking. Why irritate them with bad duck calls? ...and so I bought the Smooth Talker, the Barry White of the bunch.

I think the highlight of the trip was seeing the canadian customs officer's face when I demonstrated it.

CCO - "You bought a duck... what? a whistle?"
Me - "Quaaaaaaack" (imagine the duck is half wheezing)
CCO - "go on through." (smile on his face)

For an instrument that plays only one tone it really takes some practice. If you blow too softly it sounds like your duck is slowly deflating, too hard and your duck is having it's life squeezed out of it, much like you were playing it under your arm like a bagpipe.

Over the next few days I will try it under different conditions and get back to you with the results.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The lightbulbs are nice...

One of the lightbulbs hanging over the counter at the bar in Camera

After a night of staying awake due to some kind of food illness. I'm not sure if it was food poisoning, coming down with something or a bit of both. I used most of the day to sleep. I even missed the weekly 11am dim sum meet. My sides felt bruised probably from all that upchucking action the night before. That along with my body being sore every where. Aches, pains, and things I'd imagine I'd feel on a regualr basis once I'm old. Spoken like a true nursing home veteran.

I did manage to crawl out of bed and slide into some clothes in order to go to Camera (1028 Queen street west). About a week ago, Daniel, the same friend that produced a half hour suspense short had asked me if I wanted to attend the screening just in case he couldn't make it and on the off chance someone in the audience had a technical question. I said "sure". That was a week ago. Today I felt pretty wiped out. Along with the bruised stomach and slight pounding headache I decided to go out of duty.

The hilight of the evening was ordering and eating a pizza slice just before the films. The three films lasted two and a half hours and for those two and a half hours I was trying to keep said pizza slice down. It was one of those times if someone wanted me to vommit on command I could do it. All night there was a little piece of something at the back of my throat. Coughing it out would only open the flood gates of recycled pizza mayhem. Oh what fun.

While waiting for the movies to start we (Michelle and I) waited at the bar. I ordered a Coke and that's when I noticed the lightbulbs (see picture above). They were kind of neat and for about 30 seconds took my mind off the pizza trying to get out. By the time the films were finished I felt more like myself. The urge to orally slop pizza everywhere subsided. What a better time than now to order a Hero burger with fries... and an iced tea.

The food went down fairly easily and I eventually made it home without incident.

Friday, October 14, 2005

One person's junk is another person's trash

Beach chair or unwanted garbage

Who puts a lazy boy chair on the beach? As if we don't have enough trash to contend with. Empty bottles, cans, potato chip bags. Yeesh. C'mon people! Throw your litter where it belongs.

Back to the lighter side of blogging...

"It was this big"

"Turbo mode ON!"

You'd think with captions like these I could apply for a job doing America's funniest videos. Heck NO! Funny enough I can see at least two readers giggling. You know who you are. Since we were on a bird theme this week I thought I'd throw in some Mallard duck shots. Because ducks are funny looking and because I happened to take a bunch of photos of some on the beach today. Look at that duck in front. He's like a hydrofoil.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sparrow by any other name.

Yes... that is a peanut.

House Sparrow? Chipping Sparrow? One of the problems with the book is they both look very similar.


After more careful examination my conclusion is that it's a house Sparrow. An interesting fact. 8 pairs of house sparrows were brought to North America from Europe in 1850 to deal with cankerworms in crops.

This data comes from the book mentioned before (sometime this week). The factoid kind of reminds me of the hamster thing where all hamsters in North America are desendants from a couple of hamsters found in some desert.

Here's some info that you can use to amaze or scare your friends (you determine which)...

Hamster Factoid #1
The average Hamster will crawl on the average of two miles a day. There's got to be a way to power up my game boy at least from the tread mill alone.

Hamster Factoid #2
If you start with two hamsters at the beginning of the year and give them all the space and food they require you will have a million by the end of the year. And you thought rabbits were good at being busy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Monster Records... Go there now

Roger Costa at Monster Records demonstrates the keen use of my P-2000.

On my way to a photo store just off of Yonge on Charles I stopped by my favorite store, Monster Records, for all my memorabilia shopping needs. There is this fad that is going around where people take pictures of what's behind their computer monitors then place that picture as their desktop. They then take a photo of their computer with the "invisible" screen. Rather geeky and probably done with a lot of time on one's hands. Some pictures I've seen are quite elaborate using multiple overlapping screens. For better examples go here.

We tried doing a similar thing with Roger and my epson P-2000. Although the line up is quite a bit off it was still fun to do.

Imaged Text at the York Quay centre on until november 6th.

Later on (after the photo store) I made my way down to the harbourfront. There, at one of the art gallaries, they had some comic book art on display. I didn't really have enough time to check it out so I'll have to go back. I was trying to get to the bird sanctuary before the sun went down on todays already dark cloudy day. As it turned out the bird park was empty and the pond that used to run through it has dried up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Great Blue Heron

Close up of the great blue heron

Today I made my way back to High park. As it's one of the bigger parks in Toronto I found myself at a different location than the one I was at a few days earlier. Today I spent most of my time shooting this bird, the great blue heron. It was pretty fascinating to watch as it slowly walked around looking for fish. Evey now and then it would lunge it's beak into the water. About one in five times it would come up with a small fish.

The bird spots a fish.

I think I was more amazed that there were that many small fish in the pond than the fact the bird caught and ate them all. The pond water looks pretty scummy. There's plastic crap floating around with other nasty looking debris. It's a wonder anything lives in there at all.

With surgical precision it catches a fish.

Monday, October 10, 2005

If it's gray shoot all day

Storm Trooper on Dewback

After spending the day helping move stuff, mainly a television and a tub, I decided to shoot indoors. The day was cloudy with the look that it would rain any second. Indeed the autumn has kicked in. Gray wintery days are upon us. A photographer once said "If it's gray shoot all day". He was a nature/landscape photographer.

Gray days are nice because you get soft lighting everywhere with the absence of harsh shadows. Of course there's always the chance it'll pour and you'll get drenched. I've had one camera's motherboard get fried due to humidity and that's enough for me.

I decided to build the Mos Eisley Cantina set I've been storing for a rainy day. Number 4501 in the Lego catalog it contains 193 pieces. The figurines include Han, Luke, Ben, Greedo, and a Storm Trooper that rides a Dewback.

Using the 105mm micro lens (Nikon uses micro instead of macro and I don't know why) the details on the tiny faces are difficult to get into focus as the depth of field is so tiny, we're talking millimeters, at that scale. I didn't notice the faces were blurry until I transferred the pictures from the camera to the computer and saw the images on a larger monitor.

I did a reshoot, then shot some more. I've been toying with the idea of creating another animated short using the D70 so I shot a couple of test frames. All in all the lens is pretty nice. I would have liked to shoot some bugs with it this weekend but the only one I saw was a cockroach at the television store. For some reason I didn't think pulling out the camera to shoot the roach was worth it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Autumn in High Park

A maple leaf

To continue with the whole park theme and because I couldn't really think of anything else to do low key this Thanksgiving day weekend I went off to the other side of town to High Park. I'm not really sure I know why. The changing of the leaves, the clean air, being surrounded by nature, the ability to take pictures in a different location. Yes, probably the later.

I've now had the 105mm lens for two days and felt that I haven't gotten my $26.00 worth yet (the rental fee). When I started out today I really didn't have a theme I was going for. I just wanted to see if I could take some pictures. What, who, where, when... none of that really mattered.

European Starling sits on a branch at Peace Garden, City Hall

Before I actually managed to get to High Park I ended up at the Peace Garden in Nathan Phillips square (new city hall) where I shot this European Starling. At least I think that's what the bird was referring to my Toronto bird book ("Pocket Guide to Toronto Birds" by Jeffrey C. Domm ISBN 1-55028-772-9). As informative as the book is, it only shows the colors of the bird during summer and they're drawings/paintings. Basically you have to rifle though the entire book and see which picture looks most like the bird you're trying to reference.

Not knowing a lot about birds I have come to the realization that the bird will not only change colors for the winter but over time as it gets older. The ring billed gull (for example) has black eyes when it's young. As it gets older the eyes become yellow while it's feathers become more white. See image below.

Birds eye view (as usual click picture to enlarge)

I believe the picture of the European Starling is showing the bird in it's winter configuration. The beak is black. In summer it's supposed to be yellow. As a novice birder it can be a tad frustrating not knowing what it is you're shooting.

Originally I bought the book to help me identify some pictures I took over the year so that I could submit them to a bird photo contest. The International Wildbird Photographers Competition 2005 to be exact. I found it in the brit magazine "Practical Photography Film and Digital", September 2005. Since buying the book I've been looking up the various critters to see what they are.

One of the problems (as a canadian) you encounter when you buy a british magazine is that all the contest deadlines are over almost on the day you purchase it. This is because we usually get the magazines here on our continent about a mounth late.

To enter the IWP contest I had to fedex my submission. It cost me just over $50 CAN and another 10 pounds to do this. I almost didn't enter as the deadline was the day following the purcahse date of the magazine. While on the web however I found that the date, as luck would have it, is extended by a week for us international types. Although it would be nice to win something I'm more interested in seeing how well my photos do against the professional photographers in their exotic locations. Who knows if I'm actually good at this maybe I'll get some work down the line.

We're to find out the results of the contest in December so keep your fingers crossed.

Back to some pictures taken today in high park. As a reader I'd like to ask for you to take some time to comment on these. A) to see what people think out there. B) just to see how many people read this blog.

Dead Tree in High Park

Ring Billed Gull in flight

Mallard Duck

Squirrel at rest

Thanks for stopping by. More images to come tomorrow. I haven't figured out where I'll be going yet.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Park it.

A wild rock pigeon eats a bagel.

After the traditional weekend dim sum outing Michelle and I decided to see the Wallace and Gromit movie, Curse of the Were Rabbit, at the Paramount. We had some time to kill while waiting for Marc to show up. The movie didn't start until 5:30. We found ourselves at the Paramount shortly after 2:00. Michelle ended up at the nearby Chapters bookstore and I made a bee line for the local variety store, bought some bagels and headed for the park.

Lighting was pretty good so I figured I'd take out the 105mm lens for a test run. I parked myself in Grange park and had a bunch of pigeons well placed using bagel crumbs and was just about to take a picture when a dog came by and ate all the bread. The owner was oblivious. The dog could have attacked some small children and I'm sure the owner wouldn't have noticed. It was then that the happy, full of energy, fat dog ran across the park to some kids and started humping them. One of the kids started crying. The other looked puzzled. It took the parent of the kids to call attention to the owner to put a halt to the dog's actions.

To climb the tree, to not climb the tree?

Once the dog and owner disappeared out of the park I went over to a shady area where there were pigeons in hordes. I stretched out on the grass aiming my camera at them. For some reason a bunch of squirrels started coming toward me. It was like I had peanut butter on me or something. While aiming my lens at the squirrel next to the tree, see above, another squirrel ran and jumped over my lens! They were like furry raptors. One gets your attention while others perform circus acts around the camera. I guess there's a lesson in there some where. Maybe keeping both eyes open.

Margaret (pronouced Marg-gar-eet)

Later on after the movie, which was great by the way, I found myself walking around Bloor street. I was in the various book stores looking for some kind of graphic novel (fat comic book where the story is contained within said book - ed). I never did find any reading material so I headed toward Indigo on Bay street. It during this walk that I bumped into Margaret from soccer thursdays. After saying "hello", talking a bit about the porn festival, and saying "good bye", I eventually made my way home.