Well as I approach the end of July and the start of my final month here at Toronto Community News, it feels like it’s been a valuable summer so far.
I’ll start with this past weekend at the Beaches International Jazz fest. I was sent to cover a specific singer, but once you have a decent shot of them performing it’s fun to look around and see what else is there.
Earlier that Day I had been at Scarborough Town Centre for a vintage car show, it took me a while to find the actual part of the parking lot where they were, but once you found it, all those shiny old cars stick out.
The day before I was downtown at Yonge – Dundas Square for the Unity Festival. It featured music and breakdancing, the breakdancing took me back to shooting Ottawa’s House of Paint event on film a few years ago.
Earlier on Saturday though I got to check out a rugby game down in the Beaches area.
My weekend started off with some huge technical obstacles though. On Friday afternoon I went to photograph a graduation ceremony for some new Toronto Paramedics and EMS workers.
However, I started noticing a black bar across my photos, when I checked the sensor I realized a shutter blade was loose. That black bar has turned into a horizontal light leak across my sensor. The biggest issue is it’s my 1D MKII body, it’s one of Canon’s proline camera body and I use it in inclement weather or situation where I fear for the safety of my, much more fragile, 5D MKII
The above photo was shot on my 5D. The photo below was on the 1D after the light leak, at that point it was still only affecting some of my pictures. It was at the Cultura Festival in Mel Lastman square and there was a sudden thunderstorm, blowing rain sideways, I was soaked from head to toe in seconds, this is the type of situation where I need this kind of bulky camera.
Here is a sample of just how the loose shutter blade was affecting my pictures, until I can find a repair quote (because I’m not sure Canon Canada still services this make) I’m down to one body.
The weekend before that I got to check out the Thai Festival in Nathan Phillips Square.
Sometimes interesting photos come from other things too, like off to the side of the Mad Pride Parade in Parkdale. Mad Pride is a march to celebrate of those who have interacted with the mental health system and while waiting for the march to arrive at an intersection I looked down the road and spotted a lady leading another one by a leash. Not something you see everyday, so I instinctively took a picture… Before I got the chance to go over and introduce myself, they turned and came towards me and offered a business card asking for a copy.
The evening before I popped by the Latin Arts Festival in Mel Lastman Squre in North York. While it was slow to start, in terms of interesting pictures, it turned out to be quite the event.
While the event was still gearing up I walked around to a few vendors and asked to do some portraits. One of them, an artist from Buenos Aries, had great pieces for a backdrop but I discovered quickly spoke limited English, at one point he asked, “Hablas Espanol?” Which coincidentally, I do, so we had a brief conversation I snapped a picture and continued on.
It had been a South American kind of day. Before the Latin Arts Festival I had been to the Salsa on St. Clair festival, a huge dance festival on St. Clair Avenue downtown. Nice light, low film speeds, almost wide open apertures and cool dancing made for some interesting pictures.
However, the biggest surprise was twenty minutes after arriving while I was still making my way down the festival from one end to another the first time when I came to a road block. The police had set up tape and were blocking access to a section of the street. I learned later that two people had been stabbed pretty much at the same time I was arriving at the festival at the other side, about twenty minutes earlier. One man had been taken to hospital with a chest wound, the other was in the ambulance still on scene about to leave with a hand wound.
Blood was still fresh on the pavement, CBC was a sponser of the event and had been handing out pins.
That Sunday was a busy day, before Salsa on St. Clair I stopped by a local hockey arena, the ice had been melted and a massive all day roller derby was happening. I only had time to photograph one game, and by total coincidence (honestly) the game that I ended up shooting was Ottawa Vs. Guelph (my two homes). Guelph destroyed Ottawa.
Even earlier in the day before, the Roller Derby, I went to Ashbridges Bay Skatepark, the beaches editor wanted some filler, in the form of nice pictures of regular things happening. Skateboarding is always fun to shoot and that’s where the photo request said to go.
The day had started off near the harbor at Yonge and Lakeshore heading south. The festival of India had begun and they started with and epic parade down the centre of Toronto to the harbor front, where the festival then moved to Toronto Island.
Going into my last month I’m pretty excited, there’s a by-election in Scarborough next week and soon it will be the Rogers Cup. Until next time.
So it’s been well over a month since my last post. Whoops?
Frankly since this blog is mostly about me I’ve been waiting until I had some interesting pictures to share. My main focus over the last month has been finding work. It’s been a pretty decent month, albeit low key.
First off though I want to show some pictures from Nosara. Since being back I’m now slowly working my way through the unprocessed film I have. While there I used two rolls of Fujichrome 100F. It’s a beautiful daylight slide film and it worked pretty well in combination with my antique Baldex.
The film was processed by a place in Ottawa, Labworks, where I’ve been going for years. They have a great deal too on 120 prints; one processed roll plus a set of 5×5 prints for about $12. Since I don’t have a medium format film scanner I scanned the prints and at 2400dpi it managed resolutions at 6000px x 6000px. Which is higher resolution than my 5D mkII. Not bad for a 65 year old camera…
Slide film doesn’t have a lot of latitude. You either get the exposure or you don’t, which made shooting with it much more difficult because I had no lightmeter… so I guessed most of the exposures, using some basic photography principles like ‘sunny f/16,’ and some basic math. However, the following two were a little overexposed and pulling down the exposure using modern editing techniques did some cool things to the colour.
This one from when Yamina (girlfriend) came to visit me the second time in May.
So I’ve been trying to keep busy and keep some of the momentum gained from school and Nosara as I continue through the fall. I am slated to start at Loyalist College’s Photojournalism program in January 2013 but that’s a few months away.
School went back two weeks ago and though I wasn’t there, my good friend was, and I’ve been receiving reports on the program and what to expect. Including some of the assignments. Each week there is a photo assignment where you have to do something specific. In abstentia I’m going to try to do as many as I can.
The first one was to take a picture of an interesting person, who is not a friend, family member or member of the Loyalist community. It took a day or two to set up the interview, but I ended up doing a photo of the dude who repaired my cellphone a few weeks ago. He has a unique operation run out of his apartment. So I showed up and photographed/interviewed him while he worked on a clients iPhone.
Photography has not been my main pursuit recently though, finding a job has been. I succeeded in finding a job as a full-time dishwasher at a restaurant/café around the corner from my house called With the Grain. I also got a job as a nightclub photographer for Guelph nightlife promoters Freshmedia. Tonight is my first night with them and it will be at the Vinyl (always the Trasheteria in my heart) and Friday and Saturday will be at the Loft.
However, whilst job searching in August I had a pretty fun time running around Ontario. I went to My dad’s cottage in Huntsville, stayed with my girlfriends family in Ottawa, saw some old friends and spent a day wandering Toronto before landing back in Guelph.
In Toronto I took a lot of pictures of the CN Tower… I haven’t actually tried to photograph the CN Tower since I got into photography, so it seemed like a good idea. But I was trying to find something unique and I think I did beyond just a tourist shot.
Toronto has a lot of Pigeons and there were a lot in the park near Kensington where Yamina and I ate lunch, I spent more time than I should have trying to photograph the nearby scavengers…
To get there we took the GO Train from Guelph to Toronto, which meant an early morning, by the time we arrived in Toronto I needed coffee. So we stopped at this place on Queen St West. It looked like grunge and dirt was the theme of the place….
Over the Labour Day weekend I had the opportunity to go to my dad’s cottage on Cowan Lake near Huntsville. There are great sunsets and glass-like water. I spent most of the weekend sitting on a dock drinking beer.
Also hung out with this wonderful lady.
See what I mean? Great sunsets…
So that about sets the tone for the next few months here. I’m trying to work as many hours as I can in anticipation of school, and keep from falling behind. This week we need to make three pictures, all themed around motion: one using a panning motion, one freezing motion and one blurring motion. So this Sunday I think I will pop over to the University of Guelph for some sports.
I’ve also been looking for assistant work in Guelph and have had some minor luck. I photographed a wedding with Trina Koster Photography on August 11, pictures are here and I assisted Ross David-Pilon from studio 404 during a commercial shoot with the Brampton Arts Council as an onsite editor. I’ll tease my new wedding post with one picture below.
Autumn must really be coming and for the first time since January it actually feels cold…
I am back from Costa Rica. I left Canada on the 16th of January for Costa Rica and I returned on the 25th of July. I flew through Houston into Toronto and cleared security sometime just before midnight.
One of the biggest changes coming back, is that I am no longer living in Ottawa. Frankly I have no reason too. I went there for university and I finished that shortly before leaving. I will be going back to school in January at Loyalist College for Photojournalism, but until then I will be in Guelph. Hopefully I will be able to find some work in photography while I’m here otherwise… waiting tables?
Needless to say emails are going out today and tomorrow, to let people know, I’m here and I can do photography.
However, this post is going to recap my final days in Costa Rica.
I was at the Caribbean!
I mentioned the hostel I was staying in my last post, as a somewhat unique place, and not for good reasons necessarily. One of the drawbacks was that the beach in front of the hostel was rocky and kind of sucked. However, I had been told that about a 20 minute walk away was a nice sand beach, and there was so I spent a few hours there.
There was also a small island off the coast that reminded me Jurassic Park…
More interesting than another white sand beach (I know I was spoiled) were the jungle paths. The jungle basically pushed right up to the beach and there were some cool paths to some deserted places I went along.
One of those paths led up to a cliff with a sheer drop 50m into the ocean. It was a dramatic place to sit and read for a while, although one that required caution while climbing around.
On the 24th I packed up my stuff and set out into the rain. It had been pouring that morning but had slowed to a light drizzle around 10am when I left. I boarded a bus to San Jose and 5 hours later I was back in the big city.
I made my way 20 blocks across town with my backpack and found myself back at Galileo Hostel, the place where this had all began, so to speak. I stayed there for two nights when I first arrived and had nothing but nice memories of the place. Sure enough the experience was about the same this time around.
I spent the evening at the hostel bar, chatting with other people staying there. It was a little strange. As the night wore on, I was tired and wanted to sleep, but at the same time sleeping meant I would wake up, and waking up meant it would be over. I didn’t want it to be over.
The next morning while waiting to depart for the airport I took some pictures of a map they had spread out on a table at the hostel.
I decided to do an overhead shot and then I put the map photo into Photoshop and used the paint tool to circle all the places I was, and the roads I traveled to get there.
Considering I was just there to be in Nosara I think I got some pretty decent travelling around in as well.
Three hours later I was in the air to Houston, Texas.
Here is a short video I took out the airplane window of our take off, and my final glimpses of Costa Rica. I think the best part is the commentary from the four-year old sitting next to me.
I’m gonna miss Costa Rica. In my list of places to visit in my life, frankly Costa Rica wasn’t on it. I only went because the Voice of Nosara offered me an amazing opportunity. As I look back over previous travels though there seems to be a pattern of ending up in places I never intended to visit, which I then grow to love.
I hope I’ll be able to return someday soon. Financially speaking I should be able to, it’s almost cheaper to fly to San Jose from Toronto than it is to fly to Vancouver. And now West Jet is flying regularly to Liberia, Guanacaste.
Until then it’s time to hit the ground running. Photojournalism is an intensely competitive industry and I’m going into Loyalist with experience and a competitive advantage, the next two years are going to be fun.
P.S. To the regular blog followers who I haven’t met, glad you’ve enjoyed reading, hopefully I will be able to keep this interesting as time goes forward.
P.P.S To those at Voice of Nosara and the people of Nosara in general, thank you very much for everything over the six-months. Thank you very much.
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,