Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Savvoy

Keith Sweeny at the Savvoy

Tonight I spent about 8 hours shooting at the Savvoy. A real nice resturant on Victoria just south of Dundas. Keith Sweeny, one of my biggest photographic supporters and an up and coming talent (movie, music, producer, you name it) pulled some strings to reserve the second and third floors of this fine establishment just for shooting.

The Savvoy is a great venue. The second floor has a small stage, some chairs, a small room in the back, and a bar running the length of the room. It seems perfect for having a jazz band playing with people milling around socializing. The third floor has a chic couch area, a bar, and an outdoor patio. A perfect place to unwind with a drink and some friends.

Part of the third floor at the Savvoy

The photoshoot was a bit grueling. We had to get through a number of people in different locations and with different lighting set ups. I really need to get another studio flash to help illuminate these large areas. Also a vehicle would be nice to help move all the gear around. I used my wheeled suitcase to carry the camera, lenses, accessories, extension cord, and my studio flash. On my shoulder I had my tripod. On my other shoulder I carried the four light stands, 2 umbrellas and a softbox. It was a bit cumbersome.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Cold cold cold

Cold? Yes it is!

For whatever reason, perhaps to get the most out of my bus ticket to and from Hamilton, I dragged Craig and Nanook to various parts of Hamilton on a shooting binge. That is I was doing the shooting, Craig and the dog were freezing standing around while waiting for me.

We were down near the Hamilton docks, I didn't even know Hamilton had a boat dock, where I spied the trees in the picture above with frozen icicles that were created by the splashing waves of water. Craig noticed some ducks swimming around. It made us consider the question how ducks keep from freezing while swimiming around? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Exhaust from some industrial factories.

How the ducks were fending off the cold remained unanswered. As a human standing on the docks I came to the conclusion that it really wasn't very pleasant. My hand froze everytime I took it out of my glove to press the shutter release button on my camera.

We left the water front and did a quick trip to the beer factory and it's industrial looking structure. Once at the foot of the building we couldn't see any of the "industrial" part. I didn't see anything worth shooting so we packed up and drove back to the bus station where bought a ticket and headed back to warm Toronto.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Hammer

The button rack at "Reigning Sound"

Hamilton, known for it's steel work, polution and the Tiger Cats among other things is also the spawning ground for a bunch of my cousins. For some reason, perhaps like salmon swimming back to mate, I decided to venture to Hamilton. Not to get any readers hopes up. I did not mate, find a mate, or even a potential mate.

I did find a store called Reigning Sound. Well actually I was driven there by Craig, Leah's boyfriend and the guy that picked me up from the bus station. Like a Cygnus getting sucked into the black hole we made a bee line right for the store. Craig being brain washed by the store's owner, Jim, bought a bunch of stuff including a B-movie where a doctor saws a persons head. The sales pitch was great. "Hey Craig", Jim says while waving the VHS tape in the air, "In this movie a guys gets his head sawed."

It was like watching the Jedi mind trick in real life.

Inside the awesome Hamilton Punk superstore "Reigning Sound"

The store itself was a visual overload. I could spend hours in there shooting various knick knacks. Record covers, bumper stickers, a guitar signed by Joey Ramone, and everything in between. Eventually with Craig and his armload of stuff we left the store and proceeded to the house where Leah and the dog, Nanook, were watching the Olympics.

I watched the speed skating with Leah while Craig and his brother fixed the bathroom sink. There was a black goo pouring out with something that had clogged the drain. I didn't really pay much attention to what was going on as my eyes were glued to the TV set. It's been a while since I've watched live TV. I've been watching LOST and HUNTER on DVD these last few days so I haven't seen a commercial in eons it seems.

The commercials were peppered with the odd feel good Olympic themed commercial. The grandfather and the dad seeing the Dad's son play hockey. Dad finds out that the grandfather used to watch him play hockey as a kid and the grandfather even carries a picture of the Dad when he was a kid. Touching stuff for a Tim Hortin's commercial. Then there's the Petro-Can gas commerical where Olympic athletes thank the average joe for helping him or her get to the games by buying gas. I can feel a tear coming out of my eye just thinking about that great heart string pulling writing. Geez, I could write stuff like that.

Craig, Nanook, and Leah

Once the sink was fixed we decided to take the dog out for a walk. The walk had a duel purpose. Exercise the dog and allow me to take pictures. I didn't really take that many pictures as it seemed really, really, really, cold. The sun was going down and I didn't really want to stick around to set up the tripod to shoot anything. The tripod felt like a metal pipe on a cold day. I could feel it freezing my back and shoulder through my coat.

Once back at the nice warm house, Leah made some soft shelled taco food. We ate that and finished the night off by watching WEW (Women of Extreme Wrestling) and some weird Japanese womens wrestling on the FIGHT network. Some of the japanese women were wearing bug masks or school girl outfits. It was really bizzare.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Juicy Stuff

Emmanuel poses with his Shock-in stuffed animal.

Thursday night. Juicy Stuff, the organization that brings you interesting, trendy news via the web, held a party on the second floor of Gabby's. Gabby's is a resturant located west of bathurst on the south side of Queen street. The party hilights included a tarot card reader, amazing fruit baskets, a hand masseuse, a cute bartender, some stuffed animals created by Geoffrey Davis, two very attractive PR women from Flip! and an assortment of very fun, nice interesting people.

I was invited to the party by Emmanuel and found out that I already knew some of the people from meeting them at
Darryl's Hard Liquor and Porn film festival. It turns out I even shot some pictures for an article on their site. What a small world.

All in all the party was great fun. It was a good pick me up as this week had started to take it's toll with the combination of job prospects going away and the whole funeral thing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A New Thai Place

Michelle and Ian at the "new" Thai place.

After the funeral services for Zee's dad, Michelle and I decided to walk home. We did the trek the day before after the viewing and it only took about an hour and a bit. On the way home we bumped into Ian, followed him to to the local video store, then to the local Starbuck's where we sat and chatted for what seemed like a few hours. Really a few hours, upon which we were offered free samples ranging from cookies to crusty bread with cheese.

I had gotten a lemon muffin and a peach juice and after eating still felt ravenous. After all I only had half a veal sandwich which I crammed into me before the funeral just before 10am. That was only three hours ago. Ian suggested a Thai place that had just opened up located just south of St. Clair on Vaughan road.

I ordered the green curry chicken lunch special. It was pretty good. Wow, two good food places in two days.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gelato Good, Death Bad

Tiramisu flavoured gelato at the "La Paloma"

Anyone who hasn't tried freshly made gelato really hasn't lived. I've tried store bought stuff before and thought "What's the big deal?". Going to a real gelato parlour is something else. With the tragic event of Zee's father dying Michelle and I were on our way to his viewing when we noticed we were going to be early. Really early.

We decided to get off the street car a few stops before the funeral home and walk. That's how we found "La Paloma", a gelato place up on St. Clair just a bit east of Lansdowne.

A sign that seemed appropriate for the day's events.

Just before walking into the funeral home and the visitation room we walked by this church with this larger than life sign.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

King City or there abouts

Looking down the road.

I was invited to visit the parents of some friends a few days ago but had to decline on the basis that I was A) taking someone out on a birthday lunch and B) had a photo shoot to do of a club opening later on in the evening. The photo shoot went away (see yesterdays blog entry) and the person I was supposed to take for lunch came down with food poisoning earlier on in the week.

I was looking forward to the lunch birthday for a couple of weeks as eating food with good company is always top on my list of things to do. After the lunch was cancelled and my schedule became wide open the visiting of the parents became a nice plan B.

The parents place from the backyard.

Kyoko's mom had her birthday last week. This was the week that a bunch of us could get together and help celebrate. So up off to somewhere around King city we went. Kyoko and I drove up early to get the food cooking. Note: Kyoko did the cooking I went outside to stay out of the way. She was under a lot of stress with prepping the meal for her mom and worried that Chris would get into an accident. Chris biked up, in the cold, against the wind. It took him 2 and a half hours to pedel up there. Pretty good as it took us about 45 minutes up the highway by car.

Despite the temperature being -10 C, the hike outside around the backyard was nice. The air crisp, clean, and undisturbed snow that had a thin frozen sheet of ice covering it. I noticed some rabbit tracks but didn't see any animals.

The backyard.

I did find the stream in the backyard. It was by accident as I stepped on a snow bank and fell through to the water. Luckily the stream was shallow and my boot was water proof. There was a frozen shell of ice around my boot by the time I got back to the parents house.

Dinner consisted of a succulent pork roast and some tiramisu. The visit was cut short when the neighborhood lost power. It was in the middle of watching the documentary "March of the Penguins". I arrived home at about 11:30pm. Just in time to go check out the club.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Move

Juley and baby Michaela

Today I would find out I lost a booked saturday photo shoot to a photographer charging a lower fee and be put on the back burner for another job where I was interviewed yesterday. On the plus side I did manage to spend time with a friend who I haven't seen in a while. I was helping move him and his family out from his condo to his parents place. They are still waiting for the construction of their house to be finished somewhere in the burbs.

Zee drives the truck singing.

Renting a UHAUL truck we packed, moved, and unpacked the stuff from Zee's condo in record time. On the way to the parents place Zee started singing some country western song that was, at the time, catchy. I can't remember what is was now though. The singing reminded me of the Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run, and Gumball rally movies all we needed was a CB. Yeee Haaaw.

Being in the truck we thought we were traveling at about 20 km/h. At least it felt like cars were going slower and the truck itself wasn't going that fast. Looking at the dashboard we noticed we were actually going at 100 km/h. That's when I noticed that if we got into an accident our feet were at about the same level as most people's heads who were driving in cars.

"Hello old people"

After dropping off some stuff at the parents we zipped up to Juley's parents house where we stored a bunch of stuff in the garage. It was here that we had a quick bite to eat with a bit of a baby break before bringing back the truck.

Baby goo.

As unappealing as some babies are with all the stuff that comes out of them, from whatever end seems good at the time, it's still quite fascinating to see how they react to things and soak in the world. Kind of like watching an alien life form learn before taking over the planet. The kid, Michaela, seemed pretty stunned most of the time. Kind of reminded me of a certain Dad. Although I would not describe the ordeal as looking into the eyes of a chicken it was more like she was trying to use mental telepathy to suck the IQ from my brain.

Zee cleans goo.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A bird dropped it's load on me today

Possible poop generator, this is what the culprit may have looked like.

"Do you feel lucky? Well do ya... punk?" as the bird targets you from the heavens above to leave a mass of yuckiness all over you...

Why is it that when a bird poops on you it's considered good luck? At least that's what the urban legend around these parts would like you to believe. Personally I think that idea just came from the guy that got pooped on to make himself (or herself) feel better. Afterall, who in their right mind would laugh at someone with good luck? Someone getting pooped on? Laughs all around.

At some point today, around noon or so, I noticed some goop on my index finger that looked a lot like bird doodie. Not a large amount, like a blob oozing off my finger tip, just a small white dab of what could have been mistaken for some wet white paint. In fact that's what I thought it was.

For those that don't know because they've never had the pleasure of being pooped on by a bird or have never looked into a bird cage at the zoo/in a pet store, or had to take care of a bird as an owner, or looked carefully at most statues located in parks, bird droppings consist usually of a green to black-ish blob of gunk surrounded by a wet white substance. Sort of like an egg yoke surrounded by egg white where the egg white seems to take up a larger surface area than the yoke.

It wasn't until later on in the evening that I was going into my camera bag that I noticed the bird dropping that looked like it came from a bird that ate smaller birds. So okay, technically it didn't poop on me, my body or head, but it took a massive dump on my bag. The item in question took over the surface area that would span the size of the palm of my hand. Mostly white stuff with a big honking smeared greenish blob of mass in the middle. It landed right where the zipper for my bus token compartment was. As I usually don't look at the bag when I'm grabbing stuff out of it, this would explain the "white paint" on my finger tip earlier on in the day.

I was with Dave, my cousin, at the time. He pointed out that it was lucky to be pooped on and told me I should buy a lottery ticket. So we did. We managed to find a variety store and bought one ticket each. In the end he got one number, which doesn't get you squat and on my ticket I got nothing. So much for the being lucky.

I suppose I could use my small shoe theory with the falling piece of turd. As stated in some earlier blog entry. Putting on small shoes that are uncomfortable makes you realize how great things are when you take them off. Your feet feel great after being in such a cramped confined space. Much like getting pooped on it makes you appreciate the "normal" days where nothing happens. At least you're not getting pooped on.

In the grand scheme of things a lot of bad things could happen to a person over the course of the day. Dying by choking on a pork chop, getting stabbed in the head, poking your eye out with a spoon, drowning while doing your laundry, stubbing your toe (breaking the toe nail in half), burning the roof of your mouth on a freaking white hot bagel, you get the idea. Bad Things. If getting pooped on is the worst thing that's happened to you in that 24 hour span of space then perhaps you're lucky after all.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

X-ray labs

The pillow looks good.

While visiting an X-ray lab. I noticed that A) the lab was in a basement, B) the basement was dimly lit, C) the Pillow on the X-ray table didn't look like it was ever used. I'm not really sure if there's any kind of relationship between these observations. They were just random observations.

For some of the readers that might be asking what I was doing in an X-ray lab my answer would be "I'm the sort that gets around". I was looking for some old X-rays taken of me a few years ago during a car crash on Laer's birthday. To keep the story short and simple a few years ago while Laer and I were in a taxi we got T-boned making a left turn by a trans am speeding through a red light. The trans am hit the door, the door hit laer, laer hit me, I hit the glass on the other door.

As a result, other than being in a daze and having a valid excuse for it, I got a bunch of X-rays to see if I was alright. Most of them being of my head. At the time I wanted to take the X-ray pictures home but the technician told me they had to be kept on file at the lab for X number of years. That was 7 years ago now.

Unfortunately I didn't go back sooner to get the pictures. I found out that after three or maybe even four years they recycle the photos to get the silver out and the photos are no more. D'oh!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another normal day at the office

Brunell enjoying a nice cup of coffee

While shooting a TV documentary based on real life disasters I managed to meet some interesting people. Don't worry the girl above and the girl below are fine. The documentary we were shooting is based on events that happened in the past. The two women are wearing pretty convincing gore make up. It just goes to show you that people may not be exactly what they seem at first glance.

Antoinetta waves "Hello".

Monday, February 06, 2006

Film: that other stuff for taking pictures

An old plastic fuji film container (left) next to a brand new package of film (right).

Buying some black and white film I noticed that the film now comes in potato chip bag type packaging. Has anyone else noticed this? As I've never bought Ilford film before let alone black and white film. Have they always delived film like this?

"What's with using film anyway?", you ask. Well it seems my realist camera had some film in it. I found this out a few days ago while doing the whole apartment cleaning thing. The film was from last may, I think, and wasn't all used up. I decided to shoot some stuff this weekend and thanks to seeing David Trattles' photo gallery I was inspired to go around shooting black and white photos once I went through the old color roll.

The realist is also a square-ish format as it shoots five p (sprocket holes) across the film as opposed to the standard eight. For some reason I like shooting with a square composition from time to time and since I don't own a medium format camera the realist is the next closest thing. Plus there's the whole 3D aspect. I'll post some images once I get the roll developed.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

XL sea pit

No it's not a extra large hole at the bottom of the sea. It's the 40th superbowl with the teams Seattle and Pittsburg playing against each other for the title. Sports, at least watching sports on TV, really doesn't interest me. I find watching people watching these events is more interesting. With the superhbowl or any other game finals for that matter the fans are usually more on edge and as a result more interesting to observe. There are of course the commercials which I find great for production value. These things put together aren't really enough to get me out of the apartment but throw in a Bikini competition and, well, that's another story.

My friend Simon managed to get free tickets to go to the superbowl party at the docks. Surrounded by big screens, large masses of people (of both sexes), beer, food, and the odd beer girl, well there was probably going to be some kind of photo opportunity. And since it was sunday there really wasn't much to do anyhow.

Two contestants in the Superbowl half time bikini contest.

I decided to shoot without a flash and just shoot with existing lighting. Most of the photos came out okay but needed a little bit of color tweaking. Using the Nikon Capture software which for the most part has been collecting dust except for converting RAW files to jpegs I actually got some pretty good results playing around with the D-lighting option. It brings out details where the image is normally black. The more I use the software the more I'm beginning to like it. It is a bit weird at times though.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Sunny - up and coming model

When shooting at various events, be it band performances or car shows, over time you tend to run into the same group of people. Much like going to the same art gallery or gym. In this case I ran into Sunny, a model known for winning this year's CHIN bikini title, at the Speed-o-rama car show. The last time I saw her was at the Playboy Fashion launch a few months ago.

The speed-o-rama show usually has a few very well painted 70s muscle cars that I enjoy looking at. Probably bad on gas but they look great. For all you Dukes of Hazzard fans they even had the General Lee.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Taking the Bus

One of the damaged windows on the bus.

Like any other day I'm taking transit I usually go into that zombie like trance while waiting for the vehicle to get to my stop, today was no different. It was late and I was taking the Coxwell bus south from the train station. Doing the usual thing you do while riding a bus, looking around at other passengers (while avoiding eye contact), reading ads, looking out into the dark outside through the dusty window. It was too bright in the bus to really see anything outside.


"What the heck was that?" I thought to myself and proceeded to look around the bus.


I noticed small particles of glass coming from the window. The window? Upon closer inspection something hit the bus window. Something small and hard, like a rock or metal ball bearing. Looking at the impact damage on the window it was definately something small, about a centimeter in size.

The bus pulled up at the next stop which was a few meters away from the incident and the driver got out to look at the damage. When the front door opened to let him out I noticed the first hit that looked like a green paint ball hit on the door. Shortly after stopping a women approached the bus from across the street pointing up the street saying "It was them! Those two guys."

Being as we were in a new, and might I add poorly designed, TTC bus there is no back window. In fact there were no windows you could slide open to see outside except for the one next to the driver. I tried peering out by putting my faces around my eyes to block out the light coming from within the bus but the windows were too grubby to see anything.

The end result was that the only person who saw anything was the women outside the bus who really didn't have much of a description other than the height of the two vandels. She saw them just walk away from the scene. It took the police about 10 minutes to arrive after the driver called the TTC dispatcher. Supposedly the police had been getting reports all night about some kids throwing glass bottles and firing some kind of weapon at cars passing by and breaking windows of people's homes.

Stupid kids.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It Boggles the Brain

Boggle the 3 minute word game.

A few days ago William, the husband of Cupcake, introduced me to the game of Boggle. It was one of those games that escaped my childhood. Mastermind, Monopoly, Pay Day, Life, Trouble, Connect Four, Stratego, Battleship, Admirals, Mille Borne, even Holy Cow!, games I've played but Boggle nope. I heard of it but wasn't really sure what it was. As a single child playing board games became relegated to being used when friends or cousins came over to visit or your parents could put up with entertaining you.

Come to think of it I had heard of Boggle recently on the "King of the Hill" tv show. There was an episode where Peggy goes to a Boggle championship. "Whooo Aahh!". It was a show in one of the earlier seasons.

William, the husband of Sara, noted that with all the other things for kids to do these days, video games, scheduled after school events, and other mindless activities, kids just don't have the time for the old board games. Some games, like Trivial Pursuit, have incorporated DVDs while playing the game. I wonder if this is recapturing the market? Are games too primitive for our brainy, MTV lack of attention kids of today?

Then again when I was a kid I remember collecting bottle caps, bubblegum cards, and sharpening popsicle sticks on the side walk. It wasn't like I wanted to use the sharpened sticks as weapons and jab someone. I think, as a kid, I just gravitated to sharp, pointy objects. Either that or sharpening a popsicle stick just seemed like what a kid was supposed to do in the neighborhood. That and putting bubblegum cards on your bike so it made a clacking sound between your spokes when your bike was moving.

For those of you that thought being a kid sucked it probably sucks more today to be a kid. Sure there's better technology, more sophisticated toys, and the all powerful computer. But do kids even know how to interact with other kids any more? We're becoming a society of thoughtless, uncreative, blobs with short attention spans, starting with our kids.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The world is my playground

Part of an installation at Aspace is a sandbox of globes

Somewhere down on Spadina, 401 Richmond, suite 110 to be exact there's an art exhibit going on. It seems there are art exhibits small and big going on all the time. It's pretty incredible the amount of work that goes into these installations for only a select number of people to see, mainly due to not knowing that a lot of these things are going on in the first place.

A couple of people wandered in while I was shooting. I thought "hmm.. I wonder what brought them here?". My question was answered later when one of them told me they saw my flashes going off and just wanted to see what all the fuss was. Kind of like looking up at the sky to stretch your neck and then noticing people around you trying to look at what you were "looking" at. I find this works better if you have another person with you and you point up randomly at something. Sheesh, the things you do for personal entertainment.

Entertaining can work the other way as well. A few days ago I was reading a photography book, it's not really important was the title was, the book told the reader (in this case me) to try looking at the world through the lens at different heights. Usually people just stand there or sit there if they're tired or lazy and just shoot. I try to move around the subjects I shoot but I would say at least 50% of my photos are taken at a standing/rest position. I might move my body right or right or even stretch my neck but moving up or down not so much.

Anyhoo, on the way home going up Spadina, I noticed a small tot with big eyes looking around in wonder. Most kids are like this I suppose an/or tourists for that matter. It's only after we've been to the same place a number of times that we figure that there's nothing new to see and just stare down or watch where we're going so we don't bump into anyone or thing.

As an exercise I thought I'd squat down at try to see things through the camera trying to imitate the kid. The goods news is that I found a few loonies on the ground almost right next to my foot. The bad news is that I kind of looked like an orangtan on drugs with a camera wobbling down the street. I was alerted to this by two "model" type girls wondering by laughing and pointing (there's that pointing thing again). I immediately straightened up.

Before my moment of humiliation I did notice there are some interesting things to note from a lower height. Everyone and everything being taller, creates a forest like effect. Trying to see over garbage cans or around people's legs becomes a problem. Remember when you were a kid and lost your parents at the mall and they were only two meters away? I now understand this. We have to make GPS systems that kids can use. Sure a piece of string might work too.

I like the GPS idea with two floating icons. A big red icon labeled "Your Parent is Here" in the center and a big blue icon "You are here" which would be in a relative position to the red icon. You could, of course, change the settings so the blue icon, you, where in the center. The device would also tell you how far your parents were away from you. More expensive models could calculate how long it would take to reach them at your current speed and direction. That way you, as a kid, could get the tears going before having visual contact by the parental units.

So next time you see a kid, or a friend that's shorter than you, remember to be nice to them. They don't see the world as you do and another thing, don't forget to offer to press the high up elevator buttons for them. You'll feel better you did and so will your shins.