Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Work on the house continues...

Pumpkin still feeling a bit displaced sleeps in my sock bin

Now finished with my taxes, ugh that was a lot of work, I have been helping out Kyoko and Chris ready the apartment downstairs for the new tenants. The weekend had a whole slew of neighbourhood friends come out and help.

The cat seemed a bit displeased. I don't think the cat liked the idea of all the people running around doing things and that it's world was being moved around. Pumpkin stayed in my apartment for most of the day and night.

Nadine helps paint the kitchen

Monday, September 29, 2008

Busy bees

A bee doing the bee thing.

While finishing the tax stuff I felt poking in the back. It was the cat, Pumpkin. He had quietly come upstairs and sat in the chair behind me. I went downstairs to check what was going on and found a beehive of activity moving stuff from the porch to the front of the house. Needing a break from staring at the screen I helped out a bit.

Meanwhile the Morri sisters clean out the porch area.

Michiho and Bill paint the new quarter round.

Chris' Dad holds pumpkin.

After a few hours I went back upstairs to find the cat now moved to my bed and sleeping on my pillow. I resumed the tax work. A bit later I got a phone call to join Leah for dinner. She wanted to take me out for my birthday. We ended up eating at an Indian food place. It was while walking back home that I noticed a store dumping a whack of monitors. Ugh... landfill.

Meanwhile down the street a store throws away monitors

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Birthday shenanigans

Wow, even the facebook team wishes me Happy Birthday!!! What's the catch?

While doing some actual work on my taxes I got a phone call from Juliet. "Did you get Dominic's email?". "Email? What email?". "Don't you read your email? Dominic sent you email regarding dinner tonight". "Oh really for what time?". "5:30."

Holy cow! 5:30! Not only would dinner, even if it was my birthday, impede any progress doing the fun taxes but I just ate at 3:00. It was now 3:30. Dinner was only two hours away. Aggh. The thought of having organized dinner was too nice to pass up so like a trooper I went out to eat food. I know, you're thinking "What? Derek eating food? No way" (Note the dripping sarcasm).

Dominic poses with Juliet unaware I'm taking a photo.

We ended up at Rol San, the same place I sometimes go for dim sum. The food was great and I stuffed myself to the point a person pushing a wheel barrel would be proud of. It took four hours out of my tax time but it was a great outing.

Later on, with the cat sleeping behind me, the door bell rang. It was 11:40pm. At first I thought it might be Chris or Kyoko. Even an image of some weird stalker Avon lady came to mind as I walked down the stairs. Turned out to be Darryl and he had a cake. Wow!

Darryl with the cake

Me with the cake

The cake was from Metro, the new name for the old Dominion grocery store. It was moist and pretty good for a manufactured cake. We ended up eating three quarters of it leaving the last forth for Chris and Kyoko.

The half eaten cake.

Procrastination strikes again

A super clean toilet bowl

I was jarred awake by my landlord calling me on my cellphone at 9am to wish me happy birthday. I didn't get up to answer the phone but it woke me up enough to realize i didn't get enough sleep. Again, at 11am, another phone call and again at noon. By noon I was awake, kind of, to speak to Emmanuel who had also called to wish me a Happy Birthday.

I managed to avoid doing my tax work today by going out for a bit, to the front yard, to see the sun, get some fresh air, and pet the cat (Pumpkin). I think the cat is feeling a bit distraught over the last few days with Kyoko and Chris moving to the other house (next door). This will be the second time in under a year that they've moved.

Pumpkin ran upstairs and started meowing at me. I gave him a bowl of water and went to wash the toilet. After all anything is better than working on taxes. I should really hire someone to wade through all my receipts and stick them into a database.

With the toilet clean enough to eat out of I decided to update this blog, hence this entry. I will get back to doing the tax stuff once I post this.

The cat, Pumpkin, in my sock bin

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chalk it up to procrastiation

Sarah Jelly at the pool table

I've been hard at work doing my taxes over the last few days. Finding receipts, categorizing them and adding them up. It's one of those tasks that take forever as I tend to want to do other things instead... eat, sleep, even clean!

I'd managed to fend off other work and activities to concentrate on this one goal, at least, until today. I was invited out to another Simon Mah event. Yes, another playboy bunny guest appearance surrounded by fans and photographers and weighted by the birthday pull. "Come on out we have to celebrate your birthday." Tempting, very temping.

Adriana cues up.

Of course there's also the food aspect, after all one has to take a break to eat dinner. So there I was, in the midst of photographers and fans swarming around two models, Sarah and Adriana. I have to admit, it was nice to see the fellow photographers as it's been a while. Comparing camera features while being able to photograph attractive young women can't be a bad thing.

Sarah strikes a pose

I shot the photos here in this blog entry with no flash. I was pretty impressed with the results as the lighting at Chalkers was quite dim.

Adriana tries to hand at pool

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Baddie and Goodie

Baddie and Goodie

Woke up this morning early. Early for me that is. It was 6:30am when I found myself wondering why I would agree to take on any job so early. The job wasn't that early. I had to wake up early to put together a camera package for the day's shoot. I wanted to sleep badly the night before that I convinced myself that waking up a few hours earlier would be so bad. I was wrong.

A make up artist by the name of Christine had an idea for a shoot involving special effects make up. The location was unclear, the last I heard it was going to be at a bus station. I told the person organizing the shoot that we would require permits to shoot on location (especially if it happened to be a bus terminal). That was two weeks ago. I had not heard a peep back since then, even after leaving a barrage of phone and email messages.

It was going to be one of those fly by the seat of your pants days. Nothing new really. Most of my gear was packed from the trip to Fort Wayne so that made it easy. It was just a matter of pulling out gear I didn't need and putting gear in that I would need.

The meeting location, at least, was consistent from the day we all decided to meet up. As for time, I was told to show up at 9:30 but figured I'd show up earlier just in case I had to take time to set up. I hate rushing things.

I arrived at 8:30am. About an hour early. The first model was in her finishing stages of make up application. I thought the make up would be more gore related, as when people talk about effects make up I tend to think gore, but I was pleasantly surprised to find an evil elf, an evil sci-fi elf?

Christine has just started working on the second model when I decided to throw up a black background. Since this was for her make up portfolio I figured some close up head shots couldn't hurt. Once I got those we could then, if time permitted, go outside to do some impromptu action shots.

The photo shoot like most photo shoots flew by and before we knew it, it was noon and time for the models to go. I forgot how much I like to shoot studio type lighting shoots. I'll have to make an effort to do more in the next few weeks.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Trip to Fort Wayne

The sun set while driving to Fort Wayne, IN

The trip to Fort Wayne started in the early morning. Around 8:30am Lydia drove by to pick me up on her way home. She works in Toronto but lives in Hamilton. It worked out well as I had to go to Hamilton to get a ride to Fort Wayne.

The idea was to arrive in Hamilton, get breakfast, then spend a few hours at the Pheasant Plucker and wait for my 1pm ride with Cheese and Miss Carriage to Fort Wayne. Cheese drives a Toyota Yaris which is great on gas but to fit four of us, Eduskate was added later on, with all our gear was not really ideal... at least without piling a bunch of stuff on the roof. So I opted to go with Trevor who was driving down to Fort Wayne by himself. More leg room and trunk space for all my camera stuff. The only thing was that we wouldn't be leaving until Trevor got home from work (6:00pm). This meant spending the day in Hamilton. There could be worse things to do.

Once we were in Hamilton I had breakfast with Lydia, Melanie and Laine at Steve's Open Kitchen. After that Laine and I made our way over to the Plucker to have more food and drinks. It was going to be a 7 hour wait. Laine looked like he needed sleep in a bad way. His eyes were blood shot. Around 11:30 he wondered off to do some errands. He didn't return until about 2pm. I just figured he went home to get some sleep.

While sitting by myself, in the corner of the patio, in a place that got no sun (it was a bit chilly), I nodded off for a bit clutching my camera gear. When I came to noticed a bunch of people with notepads looking at the pub and scribbling stuff. Building inspectors? No they looked too young. Art students? not artsie enough. I took out my camera and took a few photos of them. It seemed to scare off some of them off but the remaining few kept going about their business taking notes or whatever they were doing with their pads of paper. It was pretty surreal.

When Laine eventually returned he looked a lot more awake. We stashed my photo gear in the basement of the Plucker and headed out to Jackson Square, one of Hamilton's depressing malls as there's really no large anchor stores (like the Bay) that are located in there. It was a good place to kill some time before meeting Trevor at the Plucker. We ended up visiting the dollar store, a Radio Shack (now called the Source) and some other small magazine/book stores.

By 6:30 Trevor was at the Plucker and we left for Fort Wayne by 7:00pm. The hilight of the trip, if you want to call it that, was getting pulled over at the border. They say it's totally random but I somehow doubt it. I think we were profiled in some way. Perhaps it was because we were two males crossing the border late at night? The passport check took a while and the border guard told us the computer was down so everything had to be checked by phone.

While waiting for our passports to clear we could hear giggling from the lane next to us. It was Jett, Perky, Dicey, and Carla (a few hammer city roller girls) signing autographs for the border guy next to us. Their car zoomed off and I swear I could still hear giggling. Meanwhile we were told to go visit the border office as something didn't check out with the guard's computer call.

After parking in the appointed parking place pointed to by another border guard we entered the government office and got into a line. The lighting and drab surroundings were pretty depressing. I would hate to work as a border guard.

Despite this the guy behind the desk seemed nice enough in a detached kind of way. Trevor was trying to be friendly with a odd funny quip here and there. The guard made no response of being entertained or even being amused slightly. "Why are you going to the US?", "What do you do for a line of work?", "Where are you coming from?", "Where do you live?" was his dead pan reply.

Eventually we were given forms to fill out kind of resembling the forms you have to fill out on a plane when coming back in to the country. We were then asked if there was any money in the car. I had left my american money in my camera bag in the car, so I said "Yes". This puzzled me a bit. I was then escorted out to the car to get my money. Back in the office we were told that our car would be searched. I have a few thousand dollars worth of camera gear in the car why did I only get to take my money equalling maybe $80?

Especially after customs had dropped my lens on my way back from Heathrow I was a bit worried. They worked on going through our car for a few minutes but it felt like hours. I could imagine a big guy with sausage fingers saying "oops" after hearing a piece of glass shattering. I think I started to look pale.

Despite my worries, the guards finished with the car and allowed us to leave. The whole experience took about half an hour and all my gear was fine. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful with maybe the exception of getting pulled over for speeding in a 55 zone. The officer let Trevor off with a warning and we arrived in Fort Wayne around 2:00am.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How to mess up a trip to the United States

Driving to Ohio

One should really make a check list before leaving on a vacation or just travelling in general. Not just a mental list in the head but a physical piece of paper with a list of details of what to bring. I had spent the last day packing. That involved charging batteries, cleaning the camera gear, and actual packing things into two cases and a bag.

It wasn't until I was on the 1pm GO bus that it hit me about 15 minutes on my way to Hamilton, Aaahh!, I forgot my passport at home. I could see it sitting in the ziplock bag with some American money on the table next to where my laptop was. D'oh! I'd be in Hamilton an hour early before the meet time (3pm) but not early enough to take a bus back, pick up my passport, and get back to Hamilton ans still make the 3pm meeting. It would be about two hours minimum. With rush hour traffic probably more like 4 hours.

Thankfully the roller girls I was travelling with were pretty understanding, saying it was a typical guy thing, and to ride back to Toronto (in the opposite direction) from Ohio was a doable thing. I offered gas money and dinner to soften the blow and to cover their inconvenience.

The Denny's waiter.

Dinner was at a Denny's along the way just after the border crossing. Some of the girls had already eaten so there were only four of us that ordered anything.

We arrived at the Motel 6 around 1:40am. about 40 minutes after the gas station stopped selling beer. The gas attendant gave us directions for the local 230, a drive in beer store, located about 15 minutes away by car.

The intersection we were given was pretty deserted. We wondered if the directions were to a car chop shop. Streets in the States are pretty dark and pretty much void of any humans walking around. It's kind of creepy. Down the street there was a bar called the cotton club. It was such a contrast to just a block away. There were tons of people standing around and milling around the parking lot. Right next to it was the 230.

A guy came up to our window to take our order. By the time we drove in and got near the end of the room, our two cases of beer were being pushed into out back window. Wow, talk about efficient.

The beer drive through entrance

The 230 beer drive through

A happy Hoof Hearted with a case of Bud.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Portable Photography


If you were to look at this photo where would you think it was taken?
a) in a nice warm studio
b) in a backyard with a neighbour's cat wondering around
c) in a supermarket with people knocking on melons in the background
d) in a basement with 6 foot ceilings
e) in an apartment

If you picked B then you are right.

Last night while packing for Ohio I received a phone call. A friend of mine needed photos, head shots, done quickly. For anyone that's knows me I am what they call a "saver", I believe the not so PC friendly term is "pack rat".

I have an apartment that's filled with stuff. With all my gear lying around on the floor as I was customizing my gear for the trip, there wasn't any room to photograph. I forgot about this when I was asked if I could take photos. After hanging up the phone this small detail dawned on me. Ack! Where to shoot.

I have two lighting systems. One portable and one not so portable. The portable one consists of a few sb-800s, some stands and some umbrellas (by photoplex). It's battery powered so I don't have to worry about cables for power. For heads shots it's perfect.

I set up a background by hanging it on the clothes line outside. Since the sun went down I didn't have to worry about light leaking into the set and luckily there was no wind. That would have caused a bit of fun with the umbrellas.

By the time Nigel showed up the make shift studio was ready.