Well here we are in 2014. I haven’t really been into the blogging much these last few months, however, I have a really good reason: I’ve been insanely busy.
The irony though is I actually have less to show for it than I normally would… The latter half of this past semester was focused on writing, multimedia and longer form photo pieces. Meaning while I was busy it was doing things, like calling sources, conducting interviews and video editing as opposed to just taking pictures.
I am feeling a little more refreshed after the winter break and upon my return to Belleville my roommate and I and stumbled onto some news. This morning after breakfast we noticed a huge plume of smoke rising about eight blocks away and decided to check it out.
Frankly Chris (my roommate) and I hesitated to leave, it was minus 30 today and we’re still on vacation. However, we ended up trekking out. By the time we got there the fire department had already cordoned off the block.
I spoke with some neighbors who were huddling in the cold, they speculated on the cause of the fire. They also told me everyone made it out safe, with the possible exception of one of the neighbors cats.
We didn’t stay long because of the cold. However, sitting at my kitchen table editing I was able to watch as the smoke plume dwindled over the course of an hour or two from the comfort of my own home.
Now, rolling back the clock a bit to early October, we had a news video assignment due for multimedia class. We had to find a community event and shoot and edit a short news video about the event. So I did some research and found a small concert series that was kicking off an eight-month season of monthly shows featuring local musicians. It was a really fun assignment and good chance to further improve my video skills, which is a medium I am growing to love more and more.
As October wore on I dove into one of our major, and cross-platform, assignments. It was called Sense of Place and we had to visually connect a Belleville resident with a significant place in their life in town.
I found Lois Foster, a wonderful lady who has become one of the cities best known archivists (which is important in a small town with a big past). Her home was once a veterinary hospital staffed by her and her husband, they ran the clinic for 40 years before her husband died nine years ago. She still occupies the house that they shared and worked out of.
At the time I thought it was a really touching story about love, commitment and devotion and their story reminded me of my own maternal grandparents.
Underscoring this whole term has been a news photo assignment we needed complete. The spot news assignment requires you to get a photo of an unplanned news event. Really the only challenge is in finding the event, after you show up just get a good angle/vantage point and wait for the decisive moment.
I had a big telephoto on that, to give you an idea of what I mean here is a photo from my Instagram that I took showing the view I had without a telephoto.
In addition to videos and stories, I’ve been working on a documentary project about the issue of gender dysphoria, which in a nutshell, is a disorder where someone is born the wrong sex. The story is a work in progress and I have more images here. Below is a portrait of the subject of this story, a trans-man named Martin.
That project sprang from one I started working on last year, also for class, on a drag queen in Ottawa named Savannah Couture. I have a written profile and photo story here. However, when it came time for us to do our final video this semester I thought it would be interesting to go and check out one of her performances with my camera, below is the result.
Also please check out this group project I had the pleasure of collaborating on, it’s a sweet story about a former CN brake man who now runs the Belleville model train society.
Finally with the passing of 2013 I feel it’s time to declare a theme, for me, it was the year of the car. In January 2013 I bought my first ever car, a 1996 Mazda 626 DX. It was a gutless, featureless, rust-bucket that cost less than most of my lenses. But she bore me safely across 50 000km (Largely from trips to Ottawa) and through my summer in Toronto. In October the problems started. First a leaky tranny line, then the exhaust rusted off then I was told the engine sub-frame was rotten and needed replacing (about $1000…) however, when they took it apart I was informed the rust had spread further than they knew, in short, it was terminal. We went for a final ride, and then I stripped her of her logos and useful components before dropping her off to be scrapped.
It took a month of concerted effort, but it was worth it, for the same price I paid for my 5D mkII I found a 1996 Acura (Honda) Integra RS, so for you Honda nerds that means there’s no Vtec, although I don’t care because I don’t wanna burn oil, use premium fuel or need to drive at 5500 rpm with any regularity. That being said, the previous owner added a short ram air intake, heders, custom exhaust and three strut bars. The car has a lot of power for a 1.8L and literally floats on air around corners and because it’s a hatchback, I still have the same cargo space I had in my 626. It’s also the first manual transmission I’ve ever driven, and I am hooked, I never want to drive automatic again.
So last semester was a tough one, but standing on the edge of 2014 with a bad ass new car, and a confident set of skills I’m pretty excited for what 2014 has in store.
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.