Saturday, July 19, 2008

Virgin Suicides Brawl

Ted Reeve arena

Today's big roller derby event, at least the one I attended, was at the Ted Reeve arena. The Virgin Suicides Brawl. It's called that because most of the teams participating are newish. Newish but still great to watch.


Teams that showed up were...

Bytown Blackhearts (Ottawa, ON)
Death Row Dames (Hamilton, ON)
Derby Debutantes (GTA Rollergirls, Toronto)
London Thrashers (London, ON)
Thames Fatales (London, ON)
Venus Fly Tramps (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON)
Vicious Dishes (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON)

Vicious Dishes sport new uniforms (woo woo).

Hamilton's Death Row Dames squeaked by Ottawa's Bytown Black Hearts and won the bout by one point.

Odd Topsy of the Death Row Dames gets a spiral fracture in the ankle.

During a karaoke session at Wise Guys, Doug sings bust-a-move from memory and gets Roller Girls chanting "Go Grandpa! Go Grandpa!"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Car rides to Montreal

Lydia transports me from Toronto to Hamilton

As it turned out, and not surprisingly, I didn't get any sleep. I spent the night packing gear and last minute stuff. Later on I would find that I forgot a bunch of things. Underwear, socks, map of Montreal, compass, camera batteries, and the battery chargers for the Nikon EN-EL3e camera batteries. D'oh! That's what happens when you pack last minute.

But I did have my GPS.

At 8:30 Lydia dropped by to pick me up. She had just gotten off work and was driving into Hamilton. Convenient? Yes, very. To thank her I offered to take her to breakfast or dinner as the case may be. It was at Steve's (I think it was steve's), a breakfasty place in Hamilton, that we ran into Melanie. What a small world. After breakfast Allison showed up for a cup of coffee and some take away food.

Mel peeks over Allison's seat

We unloaded Lydia's car of my gear, stashed it at Allison's and went off to do some errands. It didn't take long and before we knew it we were on the road to Montreal with Doug and Paul.

Doug, Paul, and Allison

Road paint testing

Compared to the bus trip to La Belle Province a few months ago travel in the Jeep was pretty low key. One of the highlights of the trip was we drove through an area for road paint tests. At least that's what the sign indicated. I imagined it was a paint crew that went nuts but instead of removing the paint off the road it was cheaper to add a sign. "Look at me! I'm the Picasso of the Road!!!! A-hah HA ha ha." Yes, completely nuts.

Allison's 407 conspiracy.

The second interesting thing was Allison's theory of the 407 highway and usage of it. For those that don't know, it's a highway built and maintained by a private company. As such to use it one has to pay extra to roll the wheels of the vehicle along it. Because of that generally the road isn't used as much as the local government owned highway. Allison's thought was if she owned the 407 she'd get trucks to drive slowly down the government highway to get other drivers to be fed up and pay the 407 guys just so they could get to where they were going faster.

A little while after putting that idea into the air we slowed down because two trucks were hogging the road.

Eating outside Cornwall

Hee hee hee.

And the third interesting thing about the trip was that the GPS seemed to give us wonky information. It kept computing ways to get to Montreal by getting us off the highway. It wasn't until we arrived to Montreal that I realized the GPS was in Pedestrian mode. It was probably trying to get us there by sidewalk. Mental note: when driving put GPS in "vehicle" mode.

Leah and Chris in Montreal

Eventually I was dropped off at Sandra and Chris' place where I met up with Leah and Chris. We ate at a Caribbean restaurant while waiting for a couch to arrive.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Did someone say "Party"?

One of the greeters at the entrance

I got a call last night (actually a facebook email) with the offer to attend a party, partake in the eating of the food and drink provided and meet a bunch of models. Such is the life of a photographer. Well maybe not a photographer that does landscapes, but a photographer that lives in a city and shoots events. Yep, that's me.

I wasn't given much information other than there would be really good food so when I arrived I wasn't too surprised to see really yummy looking appetizers. I was a bit surprised to see it was taking place in a furniture store, a really nice furniture store, a really nice upscale furniture store.

The people I met were very pleasant, nice to talk to. There was no pressure for me to take photos but I took a few any way being the trigger happy sort that I am. Photographing the odd pretty girl here and there didn't hurt.

Overlooking the party

Did I mention that there was good food? It was odd. With all the great looking food I only tried one of the samples (that being the chilled water melon gazpacho). It was cold and very refreshing. The shrimp was good too. I'll have to add that to my food making skills sometime.

Cheese entrees

Anya strikes a pose

By midnight the party was over. Pretty early for most parties but by that point I was pretty tired. Tomorrow would be a big travel day so I needed to get sleep.

Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho
spiked with vodka topped with a vanilla, Lime and mint marinated tiger shrimp

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Just our Luk

Fun photo shoot

Today's photo fun was shooting comedian, improv pro, and friend, Jane Luk for a poster to advertise an upcoming Bad Dog Theatre show. My favourite prop was the rubber chicken (see photo). When you squeezed it an egg, with yolk, would stick out of it's butt. I should have taken a photo of that.

Sometimes it's the simple things that are the funniest.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Photo Disaster Day

The rented Yaris in front of Nikon Canada

My day started this morning waiting for James to call, return my call, to see if he could make a trip to Nikon. The night before he told me he could be swayed into going. It was 8:30am when I made the decision to leave without him and rent a car.

I had come to the conclusion of renting a car long before talking to James the night before. It was a plan B or rather plan A, James was the plan B. A car rental plus gas would be less expensive than getting a taxi to go to Nikon and back. Plus it would let me putt around a bit, maybe even do some grocery shopping.

The reason for going to Nikon this time was to pick up my camera. I had brought in the D200 body because I dropped it last week during a boat cruise. I had a different camera strap on the body and when I went to grab the old strap, it wasn't there. Whack! The camera dropped onto a carpet.

At first it didn't look like it had sustained any damage. The lens was intact. Whew! It wasn't until I tried taking out the battery that I noticed a small hairline fracture in the body. D'oh!!! The nikon guys at the counter practically know me by name. Anyhoo... I brought the camera in last week. I got the call that is was repaired yesterday.

Because I had a full day planned for today (which was going to lunch with William and seeing "Wanted") which meant I had to get to Nikon and back before noon. With the car I was done by 10:30. The camera was in great shape. Nikon did a great job restoring it back to brand new condition. I had them replace the cracked part in the body, clean the thumb knobs, the eye piece and the sensor. It cost me $300.00 but was well worth it.

I arrived about half an hour early in front of William's house. Instead of going and ringing the doorbell I drove down to the beach, parked the car, and sat on a bench watching some lifeguards out rowing boats. It wasn't really planned, just what I ended up doing.

life guards out rowing.

At noon I picked up William and drove to the all you can eat sushi place, Wasbi, up on Steeles. Another advantage of having the car. Did I mention it was a Toyota Yaris? Wow, does this car get good mileage. At the end of the day I refilled the tank with $17.00 (more travelling to come).

After eating lunch, driving over to see the Wanted movie, driving to Best Buy where I impulse purchased a GPS, I drove William home, then drove myself home. Took a photo of a plant in the backyard that I parked next to and noticed the sky starting to getting dark. I jumped back in the car thinking I would take photos of lightning hitting the CN tower and I knew just the spot.

The backyard plant

Just south of the CD tower near the Gardiner express way there's a garage with the top floor exposed to the outside. It was my belief that I could drive up onto the garage and take photos with my camera on a tripod, aimed at the CN Tower while it was getting hit by lighting.

Skies getting dark with strange blue clouds

As things turned out, I couldn't find the entrance to the parking lot in time and by the time I got to the top of the roof I only had a few minutes to take the shot below before being pelted by rain. I was on the roof for about 30 minutes (that's how much I was billed) before leaving for some place better to photograph. Perhaps away from the CN tower looking up at it from the ground?

A panoramic photo I took using a bunch of photos and stitching them together

Traffic on the Gardiner

Me with my newly acquired GPS, looking for another spot to shoot from

There was a baseball park near the Tip Top Tailors condo and Ontario Place with parking! I parked the car and moved my gear to see if I could shoot from under the nearby building, which I think it was a bunch of public bathrooms.

I started shooting a panoramic shot, kind of boring actually, it was the rain coming down hard with a drinking fountain in the foreground. About half way into my photo taking two joggers came up to me and asked if they could use my cell phone to place an emergency call.

While one of them called 911, the other described to me what was taking place. Apparently three people in a car somewhere near Ontario Place were trapped with water pushing the car toward the lake. The joggers didn't really know where they were and asked me for their location. I said "near Tip Top Tailors". Once finished with the phone they jogged away before I could ask them where the trapped car was. The only reason why I thought to ask was if 911 decided to call back my cell phone for better location details. I didn't know where it was specifically just somewhere near Ontario Place.

Then I thought "Hey, I have a GPS.", I could find the spot and get more accurate coordinates. So I got into the car and drove toward Ontario Place. I didn't have to drive far. There were emergency vehicles already at the scene. Firefighters were already trying to figure out how to get people out of the car.

A family looks over at a car between two broken sewage pipes

At first glance it looked pretty crazy. The car trapped was sandwiched between two springs of sewage water. Then with a little more inspection I noticed that the levels of the water really wasn't that deep. Maybe up to your shin or even knee. Still, the firefighters piggybacked the people out of the car.

Firefighters start to help people out of car

Car in relation to all the water

The sludge water.

Sky starting to clear up.

With a bunch of photos I drove back home to upload them to the Sun (newspaper). Should they be interested in them I didn't know but figured it was worth a try. This time I got photos of actual firefighters at work... rescuing people.

On the way home I noticed some really cool sky colors. The sun was setting and the clouds were starting to break up. I pulled the car over and ran out and took some shots before continuing on.

Normally, that would be a pretty interesting day as far as photo taking goes. Since I had the car I decided to see if Darryl wanted to meet up for food. Maybe we could drive somewhere that we don't usually go to eat. On my way to the office I drove by Queen and Spadina. There was smell of smoke in the air. I parked the car nearby and walked over to find that the police had just gotten there and started taping off the area.

A third floor fire had broken out in a building across the street from the Cameron (a local bar). I thought to myself why are there all these disasters and me carrying my slow lenses. Agh! I tred shooting a few shots. The flood shots of the car when seen on my computer monitor were a bit blurry and I only got a few non-blurry photos (seen here). Now there was a fire. The sun had gone down and my largest aperture was 3.5-5.6? arg! For the wider photos it wasn't too bad. For the long shots (300mm, f5.6) I ended up squeezing next to a telephone poll to shoot so the photos wouldn't suffer from camera shake.

Police block off Queen street.

Fire on the third floor

fire engine parked near the fire

A closer shot with the help of a telephone pole.

wide shot

Recognize this family? They were at the car flood. How's that for coincidence? We joked that we'd meet each other again at the "famine".

Fire fighter going into action

Fire put out from the inside

Parked fire trucks

The fire truck ladder operator

Police car on Cameron blocking traffic and pedestrians

Waiting for the fire to go out.

Once the fire was over I went to Darryl's office and conveyed the odd day I had while using his machine to upload the fire photos to the newspaper. We went for dinner at Xulah, a restaurant located only a few blocks away from the office.

Darryl at Xulah

The moral of this blog entry? Even though it would have been way more convenient to get a lift from James, going out and renting a car allowed me to see all this stuff. A good example of "When a door is closed, God opens a window." or for everything bad the happens something good comes out of it.


The next day in the Sun there was a better photo of the flooding that happened. The photo featured a TTC bus and car in the water... a lot deeper water. As for the fire, I didn't see any photos of it at all.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The bike trail

I had to drop off some stuff at Andrew's (the designer). When I arrived at his home he was still out doing some errands so I went across the street to the park, sat under a tree to get out of the sun, and took some photos of the neighbourhood pigeons.

Later on my way home I decided to bike along the Mark Goodman trail. It runs along the Toronto waterfront for the most part, then cuts through a bunch of park like green spaces. Somewhere around cherry street there's a beach that has these old barbecue grills that are permanently there for public use. They used to be all over. High Park, the Toronto Islands. Now not so much.


The Marc Goodman trail marked by the blue green lines

The old barbecue grill...


and closer still