This Loyalist PhotoJ program is pretty intensive…
As of right now I have a few projects ongoing and essentially an assignment due every school day in March. I should clarify this is not me complaining, but rather just me remarking on a fact. Frankly I’m relishing the pace and pressure, although this week (break week) has been a much needed respite. It’s allowed me catch up on homework and sleep, resume blogging and reinstall Civilization IV (because it is better than V).
But I digress…
The week before break week I finally got around to shooting the local OHL team, the Belleville Bulls I timed it so I got to see them play the Ottawa 67’s, the OHL team from the city I lived in for the last several years. I wanted to see the Guelph Storm, but they’re in a different division and don’t play Belleville very much.
The game was good although incredibly high scoring with the Bulls winning 8-5. It was also pretty dirty, a few fights and some nasty penalty-deserving plays in the third period. I’ve never photographed hockey at this level before, really the only practice I had was with the Carleton University Ravens and they’re just not as fast or aggressive as their OHL counterparts. It also gave me the chance to practice in game filing, meaning I shot the first period then found a spot, pulled out my laptop and edited and captioned my pics from the first period before the start of the second.
I spent a lot of time trying to anticipate plays rather than follow the action, goalies make for great places to anticipate.
This photo is missing a few elements to make a good pic for a newspaper, but as just a picture I like it.
At the risk of inundating this blog post with hockey pictures I will cut it off there and continue.
The weekend before I was once again in my adoptive hometown of Ottawa. This time I went to Edge Nightclub, up above Sparks and Bank St. with some friends for a special outdoor drag show. The club is Ottawa’s only gay nightclub, I’m told there are many gays bars and places with a bar/club but Edge is the just nightclub place. It’s also home to one of Ottawa most successful drag queens Icesis Couture.
It was a frigid affair, hosted on Edge’s rooftop patio, you could hear the music two blocks over on Metcalfe St, and the club had put out heaters on the patio, but I would argue there were not enough.
The performance was pretty awesome, although I was told Icesis’ hair was tamer than it normally is…
The day before going to Ottawa Justin Trudeau came to Loyalist College as part of a promotional tour. The college had secretly arranged an emotional presentation for Trudeau, which you can view here, you can also see me in action at the start of the video while he’s walking down the hall. The reason I’m not going to talk about it is I missed the golden moment, I had to leave the presentation early because I had to get to a class, and though for this I would have skipped class I couldn’t really. The week before car trouble had me stranded in Ottawa for a week and I skipped a bunch of classes, following that I felt I couldn’t skip anymore. Plus my teacher’s reaction when I said might be late went like this:
“Hi, so I might be late I’m shooting Trudeau.”
“Yeah… so is everyone else.”
“Get your pics quickly and come to class”
So I left when I thought the thing was almost over, still cutting it close, and while I was in class Trudeau gets presented with a photo and tears up. Again check the link.
During the weekend before while staying at my friend’s place I was able to complete my spot news assignment. I was at his place on Flora St. when I saw on Twitter that a car had flipped on its roof a block away at Bronson. I raced out and snapped some pics of the fire crews righting it and towing it away. I also got a chance to talk to the driver, who was unscathed amazingly. He said he swerved to avoid a car and clipped the edge of the snow bank and then the car flipped.
Stepping back further into January, I skipped school on 28th of January. I don’t normally do that but I was in Ottawa that weekend and I found out there was an Idle No More Day of action on the Monday. I was also buying a car that weekend. So Monday morning I photographed the protest, which was much, much smaller than the one two weeks earlier, then bussed out to South Keys to pick up my fancy not-new ’96 Mazda 626, oh yeah. It runs pretty nicely and I got to test it out driving back to Belleville that night, the snow in the day turned to sleet and freezing rain that night and a 2.5 hour drive became four.
Also that weekend I assisted a friend on an engagement shoot on the Saturday, we were in Alymer Quebec and I noticed tons of ice fishing huts. The next day I came back with my gear to shoot what Loyalist calls ‘feature photos’ basically just a fun photo of things happening. In this case because we had so much leeway I borrowed Loyalists 300mm f/2.8 which is a big obnoxious white lens weighing 2.5kg (5.6 lbs), I also own a 2x teleconverter which doubles the focal length of your lens, so I wandered around with the 600mm and discreetly photographed ice fishers. Our news photography teacher loved the ridiculous telephoto and wanted to know if I’d ever stacked converters, I haven’t yet…
That weekend though I was mostly in Ottawa for Raven’s basketball, I was trying to get four assignments done in one weekend and I succeeded, sports feature, sports action, sequence photo and portfolio. Talk about efficiency, three classes, four assignments in two games.
The second game I was specifically looking for features, so I spent little time shooting the game and more time shooting everything else.
That was the second weekend in Ottawa shooting Ravens basketball, the previous weekend I decided to come up for something to do and ended up doing that. I also managed to double up on another assignment, for news photography we had to shoot a collector for what is known as an ‘environmental portrait,’ basically a person known for something photographed in the context of that something. In this case the something a collection. My friend’s roommate collects ‘physical media’ meaning DVD’s, Books and Comics, and has one big shelf dedicated to each collection, alphabetized, I ended up using the pics for our portfolio class and our lighting class in addition to news photography.
After shooting the portraits I went to Carleton to shake the cobwebs out of my head. It had been a year since I photographed any sports, not including surfing. And frankly I was surprised how quickly I fell back on the saddle. I spent a lot of time watching Dave Smart the coach whose animated coaching style made basketball games during my four years at Carleton that much more entertaining.
That brings me all the way to the week following my last blog post, when Idle No More was still headed off at full steam. There had been a day of action the previous week with thousands of people in the streets and a historic meeting between Indigenous peoples, the Crown and the State. That was followed up with the promise of a day of action and that the next Wednesday blockades would happen all across Canada.
There is a Mohawk reserve, Tyendinaga, near Belleville, it’s where I get my gas (avg $1.20/L) and it is also the location of a CP/CN rail line intersection. I found the whole situation immensely interesting. As photographers and journalists we spent the day trying to figure out where and when this would happen. When we found out where the blockade was we had to walk through back woods trails to get to the intersection. A few falls, bruises and cold, wet feet later we found the blockade, although they were absolutely not happy that we were on their land taking pictures.
This is where I found the situation more interesting, technically the rail lines are federal property, but they run through a reserve. In this case the rail line carries Via passengers from Toronto to Montreal and is a pretty important one, but I understand why the police mostly stood back and watched. As it was the protestors hung around for a few hours and made their point, which was that they have the power to do this, then left and things continued on.
As I mentioned March will be a busy month and April will be a lot of wrpping up. For my part though it was nice to have a few days at least to check out mentally and play Civ, but I think those days are past time to get back to work.
New glass is almost more exciting than new cameras. There’s certainly a greater feeling of permanence, good glass will last for a long a time if its treated well and as long as you use the same lens mount, lens are interchangeable with newer camera bodies.
I generally prefer fixed focal length lenses, the reason is two-fold: speed and weight. Fixed focal lengths are lighter because the don’t have to have the glass or mechanisms in place for zoom lenses. Secondly, the base aperture, or ‘wide open’ is usually much wider on fixed focal lengths.
For example the Canon 135 L f/2 is 7.5″ long (with hood) and weighs 1.6 lbs the Canon 70-200 L f/2.8 is almost a foot long and weighs 3.2 lbs.
The 135 is faster (f/2 is a full stope brighter than f/2.8), lighter at almost half the weight and smaller. The only difference is that you can’t zoom.
So the other day I took a break from studying on campus, wandered down to the Ravens nest and watched some of the game. The basketball court (Ravens Nest) has notoriously poor lighting. Shooting there has been the bane of my existence as a photographer at Carleton. No matter how good my gear, or how on the ball I was that day, or what edits I did, the Ravens Nest’s crappy lighting seems to have always made my photos somewhat bad. For the first time this past weekend, exposure in the Ravens Nest was not difficult.
Afterwards I went back and finished my essay.
Thats for today,
I recently bought a Canon 5D Mk II, brand new. It’s a full frame, 1080 DPI, 22 megapixel, 28 000 iso capable camera and it weighs less than the lenses it uses… Previously my primary digital bodies had been the 1D Mk II and 30D, fairly good crop body, 8 megapixel cameras, biggest issue with the 1D was its weight though, it weighs about 10 bricks. I posted about my new camera on facebook and a friend responded with the following:
“I just wanted to say, welcome to 2011. Since you’ve been stuck in 2003, a Black man is President of America, The European Union has realised they can’t artificially inflate their currency. The Canadian dollar is higher than the American dollar, There was a giant earthquake in 2006 in the Indian Ocean that made the Earth change it’s orbit slightly. Oh, and Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi are dead.”
Pretty much sums it up, my 1D was released in 2003 and the 30D a year later, in short – The 5D is the most advanced and only new camera I’ve ever owned.
That said it’s low light performance is a little slow (my only complaint).
I found it ironic that the same night I purchased my 5D I also purchased a bottle of paper fixer for black and white paper printing, regardless the darkroom process gave me something to shoot right off the bat: the darkroom process.
I haven’t had an actual event yet to cover with the camera, although I have no doubt it will perform well when I need it to. I mostly keep it in my bag on my to and from work and school, and sometimes make an interesting picture or two.
I need something to shoot….
For now that is all peace,
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted here. On March 16 there was an event to celebrate Islam awareness week. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do any photos and most of the events were low key. I did however, find this in the Atrium. I like the vibrancy of the orange.
Shortly after that I developed another few rolls of film and found this photo on the roll. It was taken in Guelph, I was playing around with some fine art photography during my last trip back. This is from the church of our lady.
Speaking of fine art… below is a photo that happened almost accidently, but I’m quite proud of it. Mitch the charlatan features editor was looking for some pictures for his sections look into whether or not porn contributes to sexual/gender-based violence. We decided to use shadows in the layout, one group of shadows is supposed to be kissing… the other mimicking domestic violence. It so happens that Mitch’s girlfriend, Catherine is a friend of mine from res so the three of us spent some time working on getting the shadows just right. Then I happened to catch them and the shadow while shooting, so I threw it into lightroom and played around with vignettes and some spot burning and dodging to come up with this.
On Tuesday this past week Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), a Carleton student group which believes Israel is an apartheid state held a protest/sit-in. Normally these things sorta fall flat on their faces here at Carleton… Not this one. Essentially the Carleton Board of Governors keeps some of its pension fund in investments, several companies which SAIA claims are complicit in war crimes committed by Israel. Carleton does have investments in companies like Northrup Grumman which sells Israel jets, bombs and missiles but also companies like Motorola which apparently help with surveillance technology for the Israeli government. Anyways SAIA activists met at the university centre and walked to the admin building where they staged a sit-in. They blocked enough members from the board of governors that the meeting actually had to be called off.
I’ve shot a lot of student protests, this was the most directed and organized protest I have ever seen. The above photo was used for the cover of the charlatan this week. The article can be found here but I also put together a web gallery of images here. And below is a fun crowd shot to give you an idea…
As a final note. Metro news Ottawa called a day after the protest and asked if we had any pictures. The guy promised me, “Exposure and full credit,” which was great. I also inquired into whether or not there was a freelance budget, so they’ll be paying me. It was my first photo published in a daily newspaper! It was in the Print edition and online. The article with the photo is here. I’m not gonna lie, Thursday night (the photo was published Thursday) I walked home from school and passed about 15-20 empty Metro boxes. Free papers have pick-up and it was cool to think that at least for that day, lots of people were looking at my pictures….
A photographer friend once told me, “keep your ego in check and always remember, you’re only as good as your last photo.” Let’s say I’ve been a little cocky this week…
That’s all for now. Peace,
On February 2, 2011 Dan Savage, sex-columnist and creator of the “It Gets Better Campaign.” Savage spoke about his campaign the issues faced by queer youth. I grabbed a photo with him and some of the Carleton organizers in the GLBTQ centre before he spoke.
On February 3, 2011 there was a crash at the entrance to campus involving a bus and a taxi cab. No one was hurt.
For our most recent cover we were illustrating an article on shisha. This cover caused a bit of an issue. I had spent a large amount of time micro-editing this picture to make it perfect. However, at 1am on Production night a decision was made by the charlatan editor-in-chief and the production assistant to add large white block text on top of the picture. The Idea was to spoof the DVD box of the Social Network. This was done in an effort to be topical, because the movie is nominated for some Oscars and draw attention to the fact that shisha is a social activity. I disagreed with the choice and made my voice heard, although they still went ahead with it. At the end of the day I was a little pissed that my name remained attached to a cover I felt I had no role in. The original photo is below and the cover is available here.
For the last few weeks the Carleton University Students Association has been in the midst of elections. It’s a dirty affair. Student politics are… Stupid. There were numerous elections violations and some small controversy. Either way one evening the head of one of the slates, Obed Okyere, was in the elections office appealing his slate’s violations. We weren’t allowed in so Instead I stood outside the office door with the writers and set my camera up. It was as simple as waiting for the door to open. I got lucky when it did Obed walked out, I lifted my camera and fire off a few frames.
Not a super interesting photo, but the process was interesting.
Anyways, that’s all for this week.
I was told to shoot every day. Regardless of what, go out and find something to shoot everyday, so I’ve been trying to do that:
On Monday I received a last minute email from Carleton Now! an internal communications newsletter, they were asking for some last minute head-shots of a few Carleton Profs who were receiving awards for their research. I was asked for head-shots, specifically only shoulders and up and told to make it interesting…
Prof. Michel Rod – Sprott School of Business - is looking at the realities and the causes of burnout to help companies either prevent it or decide how and when they can help their employees who work on the front lines, according to the Nov 21 2009 issue of Research Works.
On Tuesday, Aboriginal Awareness Week kicked off in the Atrium. There was a performance featuring different dancers. I really liked the frame I got.
Stephanie Sarazin, from Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation – Golden Lake, Ontario. The hoop dance is symbolic of the circle of life – the never ending cycle of renewal. Hoop dancers tell stories with their hoops, often depicting Mother earth, nature and all its elements – from the sun and the moon, to insects like the butterfly and animals. The fluid movement of the hoops from one story to the next, represents the interconnectedness of all living things, according to Naomi Sarazin the Aboriginal Cultural Liaison Officer for Carleton University and one of the organizers of Aboriginal Awareness Week.
Wednesday was production night, the night before I had taken a TV apart in my living room. It was for the cover of this weeks paper. The headline was also my suggestion. Although I set up and took the photo Tuesday night I spent most of Wednesday afternoon touching and retouching in Photoshop. Some of the clone stamping on the left hand side of the TV is a little shaky, however, overall I like what we did.
On Wednesday night Andrew Nguyen, one of the news editors, shot a quick sign-off and tacked it onto video I had taken the night before showing how I took the photo. The segment is called “Making the Cover” and it’s on Youtube. Check it out here.
Thursday I started in Westboro helping a journalism student with an audio slideshow. I really loved the background and lighting in the store, so I asked the store owner if she wouldn’t mind posing for a photo. This is what I got.
Later that day I was at Carleton. They were unveiling of the new Canal Building which opened for the faculty of engineering. The building was constructed using federal tax dollars as part of the governments economic recovery plan. There were some interesting people there… So I went over and took some pictures.
In a nutshell that’s been this week for me in pictures.
Until the next time, peace
Part one: vol.38 2008-2009, the volunteer
When I first arrived at Carleton University in 2008, I had little to no knowledge of photography. I did, however, have a cheap Canon SLR and some old lenses. On clubs and societies day during frosh week I wrote my name on about 50 sign-up sheets. The one I was most excited about and the only one I have stuck with was the charlatan. My interest in photography started with this:
A simple photo, which said more about the massacre than words ever did. I wanted to take that picture, or the equivalent thereof. The problem was I had absolutely no clue how to get a job as a photographer for a newspaper. It seemed like volunteering at the student-run paper on campus during my time would be a good call.
Field Hockey – Sports
Losing your virginity is a metaphor that I feel transcends boundaries, sexual, eventful, in this case; professional.
I’d already gone on two different photo assignments, however, neither of them had resulted in a published photo. I was growing angry, at myself, at CJ (photo editor 08-09) and my equipment. Id’ gotten into the habit of spending my breaks from work at Roosters in the charlatan office. This came to be how I got most of my first assignments. I came in, CJ was slumped in his chair drinking a red-bull.
“Sup?” he asked.
“Not much, got any photos?” I asked.
“Got a telephoto?” questioned CJ.
“A 75-300mm.” I replied.
With that he passed me a photo request for a women’s field hockey game that weekend.
That Saturday I trekked from Prescott residence to Keith Harris Stadium some 500 metres away. I had a Rebel XT, a tripod and a kit 75-300mm f 5.6 whose autofocus was busted was not functional. I’m not really sure how this photo happened, wither way it was intense, enjoyable – yet not totally satisfying - and over way two quick.
After seeing it in print a week later I decided it was time to get better as a photographer and try this again.
Gulu Walk – National
I didn’t know where the park was, it was off campus… I hadn’t really been off campus before. I google mapped the location, it was only a 10 minute walk. Great. Then came the rain.
It had been a few weeks since my field hockey photo ran and when I had been asked to shoot the Gulu walk I jumped at it. This seemed cool. Basically a bunch of people were going to walk the equivalent distance that child soldiers in Uganda walked to reach amnesty. They do it under the dead of night, usually under threat from the group they’re fleeing. It seemed appropriate that it would at least rain like hell in Ottawa.
My equipment was not weather sealed – at all – and I might have been a bit hung over. However, I followed the walkers until I ran out of space on my memory card.
At the time too, the charlatan was printing small photos on the covers as teasers. I was ecstatic that my photo, although tiny, was featured on the cover.
Inside they’d printed five photos from that day. I was quite pleased.
CERN – News
I read Angels & Demons, I have yet to see the movie though. Thus I was pretty pumped to go see the director general. This one is a short story, I learned how to crouch and take photos, I stalked the Ottawa Citizen photog and I jumped on the shot he set up at the end. This was my first photo for the news section.
Clocktower – Perspectives
I love beer, I like bars, I enjoy learning about how beer is made and I love photography. Those pleasures collided when I was asked to take a portrait for the perspectives section. It was the softest least intense photo assignment I’d done yet. It was kind of nice because for once I wasn’t battling nerves, self-consciousness or equipment limitations.
Patrick took me on a tour of the back room where he brews the beer then we went outside and I took a few photos. It was one of the best ones I did in my first year and the first time the CJ simply said, “Nice!”
In December CJ asked if I would be one of two volunteer web editors. It was a trial run for what is now a tradition. After the last print issue each editor picks one-three volunteers to do their section for an online only edition of the charlatan. I was paired with a guy named Andrew and we split the load. Ours was a fairly eventful issue as OC Transpo went on strike on our production night. The strike would last 85 days and quite frankly piss everyone off, and we kick-started the charlatan’s coverage of it. It’s still available online here.
Taken from Andrew’s facebook he took this photo sitting at the photo desk on production night. From left to right, Angela Walsh news ed, Adam Dietrich photo ed, Joel Eastwood news ed (now e-in-c), Chris Hannay editor in chief and Ryan Price production assistant.
The latter half of that year was an important lesson in deadlines. About two weeks into the winter semester I was asked to take a photo of a movie poster. The night before I was going to do it I stayed awake writing an essay, and was quite frankly too tired to do it. I never called CJ and never gave him a photo. Needless to say he was a little pissed, I got an angry phone call and didn’t seem to be able to get any assignments during that time. In March he pulled me into the CIS Final 8 national basketball tournament. I shot the quarterfinals and my photos never made it to print, but the experience taught me something. I needed to keep doing this stuff. Though I needed to be better.
In mid-march the charlatan host’s their elections for the next ed staff, CJ told me applications were due on Tuesday, they were due on monday, journalism has no remorse for missed deadlines. Although I initially resented Lasia a bit for winning the position by default, vol. 39 (2009-2010) became a very important year.
Part two: vol. 39, the photo-assistant (staff photographer) will be online in a few weeks I think. When I get time.
IT’S HERE! THE LAST (print) ISSUE OF THE CHARLATAN IS OUT! I may rest (a little).
Still the last week of the semester was a hell of a week. I woke up monday morning after having slept in the office Sunday night, I was up until 7 writing an exam because my laptop isn’t working. My phone was ringing, on the other end was Andrew Nguyen, news editor, “uh there’s apparently a deer in the quad and uh the admin has given CUSA their money back.” My process went something like this, albeit slowly as I was half asleep, oh… I get to keep my job. Shit my essay is due in half an hour I need to print it and go to class. Fuck! there’s a deer on campus. I pushed the CUSA issue to the side and ran to the quad and saw nothing, so I handed in my essay and returned to the office. By this point there were a few people there, including the cleaning lady. The deer was a big topic of conversation, and I overheard the cleaning lady, Liz, say that the deer was apparently cornered under the University Centre/Tory Building loading docks. I wandered down the stairs and came face to face with three campus cops and one Ottawa cop. I took a couple photos and asked the campus safety guy how the deer got here. He had no clue, so I went back to the office. Next thing I know i’m with my boss, Joel Eastwood and reporter Hilary Roberts, literally tracking a blood trail and hoof prints for an hour an a half. We figured out the deer’s route two hours before safety did.
(Two Campus Safety officer watch as a deer stands cornered by saftey and Ottawa city Police bylaw officers. Authorities cornered the deer after it had fallen through the ice at Dow’s lake then crashed through two windows in the Herzberg Building at Carleton University, Ottawa Ontario on November 19, 2010)
Here are the photo’s from the trail of destruction.
That’s all for today, time for a housewarming. I’m certain i’ll find reasons to shoot between now and 2011. However, the charlatan’s out of print until then. Feels a little liberating.