Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hammer City Fashion and Rock and Roll

Morgan in evening wear

Blackbird studios had a showing tonight of their fall winter 2010 line. Among the models featured were some of the Hammer City Roller Girls. As usual it's always good to see them and photographing a fashion show is always kind of fun.

The venue was dark. Luckily I brought some external flashes. Unfortunately I didn't bring enough remotes. So I only had one slaved flash. There was a point that I attempted to use a second flash but it was tripped by other photographer's flashes. I didn't have enough time to set it up properly.

Ginger St. James sings to the audience

With the one flash I probably got the best photos at the venue as none of the other photographers brought extra lights. Yay me!

Brandi-Lee shows off one of the Blackbird Studios T-shirt prints

Buckshot Bebe and Kiki, Blackbird studios designers

Monday, November 15, 2010


Fashion editor of FAB, Max Macdonald interviews hairstylist Oribe Canales.

Oribe, for those not in the know, is not just a hair stylist he is one of the best and renowned the world over. Mainly from working with well known celebrities and photographers (see his wiki page here). At the time of the interview I didn't know any of this. It was just another assignment for FAB.

Max had been going on about him as soon as he knew he was going to interview him. I blocked most of that out. When photographing people I'd rather just concentrate on the person and not how famous they are. After all when dealing with famous people you treat them like any other person. If they're nice to you, you're nice back. If they're crumby to you hopefully you don't spend a lot of time with them and move on.

Oribe talks to Max about Justin Bieber's doo (among other things).

From the interview and spending a short moment taking photos afterwards I have this to say. Not only is Oribe well dressed, well mannered, with great stories, he is also a very gracious open individual. Max and I found the time we had with him to be too short. Personally I could have listened to his celebrity stories for hours. We didn't even get to ask him about his work with some of the more famous American photographers.

It was a real privilege to be able to meet him even if only briefly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mallville with Larry

Larry in a Scarborough mall.

While I still had the car rental from yesterday's dance shoot and derby bout I figured I'd maximize the car rental by going shopping for food and stuff that seemed to be too big to carry while on foot. Even with my errands of running around I still would have the car for a few extra hours. It wasn't due back until later on in the evening. I called Laer to see if he needed to get anything.

Our first stop was to drop off a disc to Emmanuel. Laer was looking for some washers and parts for repairing stuff so the next stop was the Home Depot at Gerrard square. From there we drove up to Congee Queen for lunch, then headed over to the Golden Mile.

For the outside the Golden Mile seemed small and there was parking. That should have been our first clue. Available parking. Heck Gerrard Square parking was pretty full and Gerrard Square is one of those malls bordering on being a ghost mall.

Inside the Golden Mile it looked like something you might find in the neglected part of Detroit. Boarded up shops and a lot of room with no one in it. Zellers, one of the anchor stores, was no longer there. It was pretty depressing.

Larry and the Golden Mile.

Depressing but for some reason we couldn't stop making jokes at the Mall's expense, "Golden mile? Mile of what? That sounds disgusting." An image of elderly people with poorly working bladders waiting in line came to mind. "A whole mile of them" and other images which were probably more stupendous than the first.

We hit the road and looked around for other stores. I started out looking to buy socks but instead bought a Lego set on sale. It was after hitting about 4 toys R us shops that Laer spotted the giant Lego train set and it was on sale! I had plans for this to possibly make the hamster's life more exciting. My brain works in really odd ways at times when it's trying to justify a purchase. It would be my early Christmas gift to myself.

"There it is!"

Our last stop was at a No Frills where we picked up some food.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

ToRD 2010 Championships

Dust Bunny of the Gore Gore Girls zooms around the track as lead jammer.

After photographing the dance school I packed up my gear and made my way over to the Hangar to set up my lights. While the owners have replaced a few of the bad bulbs that weren't turning on the light is still way to dim for action photography.

The car rental allowed me to bring in the studio lights. They would be heavy and awkward on the public transit system.

Some of the girls from Hammer City

While the strobes provide adequate lighting they unfortunately are also very fixed in position. This limits where I can go shoot. Ideally I like to have eight around the track but I only have two.

The Derby Nerd has a second floor seat thanks to Rogers and their camera scaffold.

Lunchbox of the Gore Gore Girls skates around MegaBouche of Chicks Ahoy

A gore gore cheerleader/fan.

Wipe out!

FINAL SCORE: Gore-gore girls 107, Chicks Ahoy 31

The after party at the Garrison

White Cowbell Oklahoma performs

A derby after party wouldn't be a derby party without girls wrestling on stage.

Having a laugh outside

The big finale

For more photos of the bout and the after party go here (

Dance to that happy place

Serge stands as a lighting model. Looking good!

Erin needed some photos of her teaching dance lessons to kids. I was a bit worried about taking photos of kids. Specifically ones with parents. Parents can get touchy about photos of their kids floating around the web. As it turned out Erin had already thought of this and had the parents sign a wavier letting us take the photos.

Since I was taking photos anyway I though a way to make more money and share the work with the parents would be to sell the photos to the parents themselves. From past events I have found that it really isn't worth taking orders, going off to a print house, then shipping the photos. I actually dislike all that work and would rather be off photographing other stuff. Plus no one really wants to pay for my time to do all that shipping stuff.

Erin teaches the kids to dance

Colin, one of my photographer friends in Detroit, uses a web service on the web called Zenfolio. You can see and buy his photo work here at 'shot on a whim photography'. I had been looking at the service for a while but didn't really have a gig to pay for it or make it worth my while. until now.

The nice thing about this service is that certain galleries that are made can be password protected. A very important feature if you're taking photos of kids. It can also be used for photo shoots where you only want the photos accessed by the clients.

And so... the Bagelhot photo store was born.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Visit to Hamilton and Hammer City Records

Slow moving traffic heading to Hamilton.

It took two and a half hours to get to Hamilton today. That's about a hour and a half longer than usual. I'm not sure why. Weather wasn't that bad. Construction? Accidents? It's all a mystery to me.

I was on my way to deliver the final picks of the wedding photos to Melanie. She already had all the photos I took but the photos on today's drive were the edited ones. Some were even color corrected a bit. It was Art crawl night and finding parking proved a bit difficult. I ended up parking next to Hammer City Records. It was the only place on James street near Melanie's studio that I could find parking.

The Hammer City Records sign.

Odd how things work out. So I dropped in for 45 minutes (all the time on the meter that I had quarters for) to say hello. The record store had a large gap of a door that you could walk through to see one of the galleries that normally you could only access via the front door off the main street.

Employee of the month (complete with portrait in the BG).


Leah looks perplexed.

Some stuff on the walls.

After saying 'hi' (and the parking meter running out) I drove over to Melanie's. The parking wasn't as bad and I managed to find a spot in the parking lot across the street.

Nope it's not a sock puppet on Jackie's hand.

Originally I wanted to go through some of the photos to finish a final edit of them but ended up talking to people about some of photos I shot. I really need to get out more as I only have about 5 years of stories in me and to me they sound pretty boring (as I retell the story of the fashion cockroaches, for example, for the upteenth time). I suppose to the new audience these stories seemed mesmerizing. I blabbed on until everyone but one had left. One person and Melanie that is.

Dancing to the Electric Company theme music

From there we ended up going to the Boathouse (Ray's place, 303 Dundurn street, Hamilton). The Philly cheese steak sandwich was really good. Crunchy bread bun, hot meat, real cheese. I was starving at the point of eating it so pretty much anything would have tasted good I suppose. Still, I'd like to go back just to make sure.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We stand on guard for thee...

Support out Troops!

Who would have thought that you could have a fancy dinner gala with troop carriers and jets? The True Patriot Love Foundation did and it was awesome! Tonight's photo assignment was to assist photographer David Artemiw to photograph the enormous gala event. High ranking officers, dignitaries, a past prime minister and on top of all that I was wearing a suit (and tie! - I know crazy!).

There were helmets with artwork on them being sold, lounge areas sponsored by Bell, a troop transport carrier that you could board, a body of a CF-18 where you could sit in the cockpit, there was even a photo booth where you could dress up in fatigues and get your photos taken. All that would take place before dinner.


One of the things I love about being a photographer is the different things that are introduced to you, the photographer. A hamster one day, a General the next. You could be swamped with bodies in a mosh pit, or freezing your butt in -40 C degree weather taking photos of nature.

Today was a good photo day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Oily, salty, grease... with chicken

Poutine and the Double down

While buying a tie at the Dufferin Mall I noticed a Kentucky Fried Chicken and was wondering what all the hubbub was with regards to the new bread-less sandwich, the Kentucky Fried Chicken Double Down. Like a hamster that keeps "falling" off the side of the table to get to see what's on the ground far (usually hard surface) below, ordering this new meat/processed cheese concoction with bacon was right up there on my list of things to do.

It's good to be adventurous. Sometimes there's disastrous results. Well okay, a lot of times there are disastrous results, Like when I made pizza with a can of bad mushrooms; the can was dented and I guess the mushrooms soaked up the rust. My roommate at the time, Laura, who owned and donated the mushrooms ate some of the pizza which resulted in her having to get her stomach pumped. I ate the pizza as well and keeled over for about half an hour before going out to grab something better to eat (this was back in my younger days when I could eat Christmas turkey in February).

Then there are the wonders of success like deep fried mars bars, poutine (with smoked meat), seafood poutine, pirogies and mayonnaise, cheese on a apple pie, the list goes on. It was time for the Double down to have it's turn. As it happened, the other thing that turned was my stomach.

Gads, the amount of salt in the sandwich had to be exceeding the human body's limits. It's a heart surgeon's dream come true. As for the grease, I'd have to say that it's the same amount as any other chicken wing, leg, breast that you're used to while eating at KFC. It didn't bother me that much. I realize, as I'm typing this blog entry, I'm still burping up the grease from the double down that I ate an hour ago.

I love food but if you go through discomfort while eating it then maybe that's not the right food for you. Overall I'd give the double down a two thumbs down. As the food sits in my stomach like a brick I'm consistently reminded of what a poor choice that was. Just like the hamster bouncing off the floor on it's head, dumb move, really dumb.

On the plus side of the KFC visit, I also tried the KFC poutine. It seems all the fast food places are trying to jump on the poutine band wagon. The poutine actually wasn't bad. There were cheese curds and the KFC gravy. I don't know what spices they throw into the gravy vat but it's one of those things that I can drink right out of the little styrofoam tub. But like the McDonalds shake, KFC gravy has an optimum time for ingestion. It's got to be eaten or drunk while warm. Once it gets cold it changes consistency. It's like fat that cools. Not only does it go down weird but it looks bad for you.

To summarize using BRS (yes, this rating system works for things other than movies)
  • Double down (zero bagel)
  • KFC poutine (full on bagel)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Captian Hill versus Gravity

Today while cleaning out parts of the hamster cage, I plucked Captain Hill from out of the sleep pod and placed her on a chair with a towel on it. She seemed content to sit in the middle and clean herself.

After a while, as most hamster do, she got curious and started crawling around. Nose twitching, possibly searching for that hidden peanut, she crawled around the chair in an orderly pattern, stopping, smelling and moving on.

At a certain point she stopped at the edge and looked down. At this point I was taking more photos of her than doing any actual cleaning. She started to reach down and slowly started to creep further and further until only her back feet were holding her.

I grabbed her and plopped her back to the middle of the seat. She crawled around a bit more then returned to the edge and started looking over the edge and then, again, started the descent toward the floor.

It was at this point that I thought should I grab her or take a photo then grab her.

The point of no return

I placed a pillow on the floor beneath her then I took the photo (see above). Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to catch her. Her back landed on the footrest of the chair as she bounced off of it, missing the pillow, and hit the floor. D'oh. It was at this point that I grabbed her and put her into the clean cage.

Off to Nikon... again

I just got my D700 body back from Nikon on friday and as luck would have it my 28-70mm f2.8 lens aperture mechanism died on the weekend. So back off to Nikon I went. I bought the lens back in 2007 so it should still be under warranty. This is a good thing as money is pretty tight right now. At least until I start getting paid from the last few gigs.

It's times like this where I'm glad I have a zipcar. Taking transit to get to Nikon would take 3 hours each way and taking a cab would be easily $120 for the round trip. With Zipcar it's only $26.00 and it still gives me time to do grocery shopping.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

King's Crown

Melanie, Rebecca and I pig out at Sneeky Dees.

I had gone through all the wedding photos and needed to give the photos to Melanie. As it turns out she was in town visiting her sister so we all met up at Sneeky Dees for mexican food.

If you've never gone to Sneeky Dees one thing that stands out on the menu is the King's Crown. It's an $18 plate of nacho chips with layered, bean, meat, salsa, and stuff that will fill you up pretty well. I had a beef burrito as well and in the end, even with my legendary eating, couldn't finish the crown. I took it home as leftovers.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Wedding at the AGO

With the D700 body back in my camera kit after a week and a half at Nikon I thought today would be a breeze to shoot. This all went out the window when I realized my 28-70mm lens was acting up. While doing some test photos in front of the church, I had gotten there early, I noticed the aperture in the lens wasn't closing down to f22. It was sticking at a larger opening. This threw off the camera's ability to properly take a light reading. A lot of my photos were coming out over exposed.

Ugh, and I just got it back from Nikon for the focusing issue.

Luckily I had my 50mm f1.4, and my 70-200mm f2.8, and for the really wide shots my 10.5mm DX lens. While it wasn't the same range I would make do with those lenses. I really didn't have much of a choice. They would have to work out.

The advantage of using primes is that you get a sharper image in general and generally the focus is much faster. The ended up being great for taking those candid photos.

I have to thank Melanie for giving this gig. Not only did it put much needed money in my pocket but it was a lot of fun to photograph. Better than staying home on a saturday night watching TV.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Captain Hill versus The Pod

Captain Hill in the sleep pod.

Having just gotten back my D700 back from Nikon today I figured I'd do a run through on the camera focusing issue. It's always good to test your gear before going into the field. With the wedding photography tomorrow I didn't want to take any chances the focusing would be flaky. I'd need help. This is where an active hamster would come in handy. Nothing tests a focus mechanism quite like a small active rodent. The reflexes of Captain Hill are so sharp that she'll move upon hearing the click of the camera.

So it would be difficult to get her to 'pose'. I took her from probably a nice nap. She was in the sleep pod and I basically detached the whole pod to get her to start roaming around. I figured it would be better to have her crawl out of the pod bowl that to actual pick her up.

The bowl has been disengaged.

Why is my bed on an angle?

Captain Hill driving the bowl.

Really? This is for a camera test?

Stop, no more photos. I want to go back to sleep.

The test went well. The camera seemed fine. Nikon had fixed the focusing issue. Hurray!

24 playback operator gets married

My friend Mark gets married at city hall.

As a wedding gift I went to city hall to take some quick photos of Mark getting married. He's a friend of mine that also works the 24 frame playback gigs.

One wouldn't think there's much to photograph in a government building other than cubicles wrapped in the awful glow of florescent light but in the "new" city hall (Toronto has two, referred to the "new" and the "old" city hall) there's a piece of art work that's made out of nails (see photo above). It provided an interesting background for the newlyweds.