I have been an inactive blogger for sometime. I think in February I thought life couldn’t get busier than it was but that changed in March, when I had an assignment (at least one) due every day for the entire month. By April things started to slow down, and since May it’s mostly been a waiting game.
However, while things in April started to slow, I had also begun my chase for summer work. Initially I began with high hopes, at one point in mid-April it seemed like there were at least three reasonably likely prospects with different newspapers. Those petered off and by mid-May I began fearing I’d have to find work outside photography for the summer.
So I travelled to Ottawa, there I found work as a student house painter. On the day I was supposed to start working though I received an email offering me a job with Metroland’s group of newspapers in Toronto.
While I start tomorrow I realized I hadn’t posted a blog update in months. First I was too busy, then I was too lazy and on summer vacation and finally my computer was in for repair. So now I’ll catch up.
My last blog posted was at the end of February, so I’ll start in February in Ottawa.
In mid-February I photographed the Ottawa Fashion Week for FAJO Magazine. It was an interesting affair and my first time shooting anything in the fashion world. While most of the weekend was spent at the end of the runway, I was able to get some interesting moments and get a tour backstage.
My trip backstage was brief, I was only allowed ten minutes but it was fascinating to see what happens behind the scenes at a fashion week event.
Most of my other February exploits are detailed in a previous post here.
As March dawned the second years began finishing up their final projects in preparation for their end of program internships. The first years meanwhile were trying to keep from drowning in tedious assignments. The program is four semesters long and semester two and three are notorious for their intensity.
On the second weekend in March I returned to Ottawa to photograph the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 men’s basketball championships. It’s Canada’s version of NCAA final in March.
The games were hosted at Scotiabank place in Ottawa, and they were very well attended. As a student at Carleton I photographed this tournament twice before for the charlatan, Carleton’s student newspaper, you can check out some of those pics here for a look at some of my older stuff. I was flooded with nostalgia, especially because several friends from Ottawa were also there photographing the event it felt a bit like a working reunion.
For a while it looked like it was going to be an Ottawa vs. Ottawa final, but The University Ottawa Gee Gees didn’t quite make it. The Carleton Ravens won again making it a record number championship wins in CIS history.
Next weekend I drove a carload of Loyalist students past Ottawa to Montreal for the annual anti-police brutality protest. The protest was begun 17 years ago in response to suspicious deaths at the hands of Montreal police officers. However, in the years since, the march has attracted a more dubious reputation as an opportunity to confront the police directly on the streets.
After last year’s student protests in Montreal new legislation had been passed. In addition to the more controversial Loi 78, Montreal passed municipal laws requiring rally organizers to submit march routes in advance for approval from the police. If not then the protest could be declared illegal and that gave the police sweeping powers of arrest. Which is exactly what happened, as soon as marchers began assembling the police declared the protest illegal and began dispersing it and making arrests.
Loyalist students, completely by accident, went en masse to Montreal. There were about 23 of us in total. We stayed at hotels and spent a few hours chasing columns of police who were chasing the scattered protestors around the downtown core.
I ended up in a CTV News clip during one of the several on street interactions with the police. You can view it here, I’m on the left of the screen taking pictures when the police charge, it’s at the 48-second mark in the clip.
Just before 7pm, two hours after the protest started, the scattered protestors and police now converged at the intersection of Rue Sainte Catherine and Rue Saint-Andre. The police formed a kettle and closed ranks.
Partly by chance and partly because of experiences learned from the G20 I jumped back, narrowly avoiding a gloved hand that was pulling people in. As we found out later 15 Loyalist students were caught up in the kettle.
Some were released on the street, after Montreal police filmed them, and took down their info. They were told they’d be mailed a $640 ticket and to return home, that if they were found out on the streets again that night they’d be arrested, spend the night in jail and face possible criminal charges. Those not released on the street were loaded onto a repurposed city bus and taken to various precincts where they were processed and released. By 10:30pm we had confirmation that everyone was out and everyone was safe. By the numbers Loyalist students, there to photograph the demonstration, accounted for 8% of total arrests that night.
Everyone in my car, myself included, avoided the kettle and arrest and the next day we were all cheerfully headed back to Belleville, where Loyalist College is located. Along the way as we were passing Napanee, which is near Belleville, we spotted a huge plume of smoke rising from a field off the highway. We pulled off the highway and found the source of the fire, a barn in a farmer’s field and began taking pictures. The timing was convenient as we had a spot news assignment, any news that is not scheduled, due in class in two weeks time.
Later that week came the second round of advisory board meetings of the year. Advisory board is a once a semester picture review with photographers and editors from newspapers and newswires across Canada. I sat down with four different people and showed them the same sets of pictures, I heard four different critiques ranging from, “Yeah! This is great!” to, “None of your pictures are memorable.”
The most useful piece of advice I received was to stop pursuing things I thought others wanted to see and instead go with my gut more. So I decided to try and do that, although I was a little uncertain what that meant, I thought I had been going with my gut before.
Around this time we had a whole host of different projects to work on, from videos to picture documentaries, and once a week a lighting assignments. One of the more interesting lighting assignments was the environmental portrait. Which is a fancy way of saying a portrait in a relevant environment… So a firefighter in a fire hall, or a doctor in a hospital. Ours was specific, we had to find either a CEO or business owner, a blue collar worker or a luthier (someone who repairs stringed instruments, specifically lute based designs). I was in Ottawa one weekend, so I started phoning luthiers in the city and David (below) agreed to pose for a photo.
A week later I found myself once again in Ottawa. It was now the end of March, school was truly slowing down and I was trying to find a way to keep busy. So I returned to photographing the drag queen Savannah Couture. Savannah had agreed to let me photograph her before during and after performances a few times and the project had been universally well received amongst the advisors I met with.
Savannah started drag professionally only a month earlier, but with the help of her brother, who also happened to be a well-known queen in Ottawa, she was able to secure a regular weekend performance at Edge, a well-known gay bar in Ottawa.
A drag performance is essentially three parts, the first is the dress, which needs to compliment the queens own style and the song choice. The second is the performance, which is generally a lip sync set to music, song choice determines clothes, hair make-up and the dance itself, and most queens won’t repeat songs, every weekend it’s something new. The final part is audience interaction, like at a burlesque show in part drag is a celebration of sexuality, and so queens interact with and tease audience members usually as part of the show.
On this night there were three individual queens who performed and a fourth, Savannah’s brother and drag mother, who MC’d the evening. The night ended with all four of them dressing like the girls from the Lady Marmelade music video and performing the song as a quartet.
I had produced far better performance pictures that night than I ever had but I also recognized the familiar symptoms of artistic burn-out starting to set in. All of my pictures looked like crap, or that’s how I felt at the time. Scrolling through contact sheet after contact sheet they all looked uninspired. I began to understand what the advisor had meant about photographing things as I felt others wanted to see them. As the end of semester began to wind down I started focusing more on the multimedia projects I had to do, and writing.
In the final week of classes I received a call from the Oakville Beaver, they had been one of the many places I’d applied for a summer internship with. I had been selected for a working interview of sorts along with two others. So I scheduled a day to come down to the 905 and work for the Beaver for the day. In addition to a job interview I was asked to photograph two assignments as a freelancer, one for the Oakville Beaver and one for the Burlington Post, they both work out of the same office.
The first event was a children’s French ‘rock’ concert with Gregg LeRock, I remembered going to a similar show with a guy named Etienne who had songs like, “Etre is to be not, not, to be…” and other such clever things. The kids seemed to genuinely like it though which was the point after all.
Next I had to hop on the 403 and race to Oakville for a presentation at a local public school about a new energy use and education initiative that was being launched in the region.
A week later I was told I didn’t get the job. Later that afternoon I applied for another job at Inside Toronto another paper owned by the same company. After an interview there and a few more weeks of waiting I was offered a paid-summer internship there.
Starting Monday I expect to be busy for at least the next calendar year. This internship has me working full-time until I start school, then I enter into the most important and competitive parts of the Loyalist program and hopefully that leads to an internship and summer job next summer. All of that is to say I spent the last week watching cheap made-for-tv documentaries on Netflix and playing computer games, biking, reading and generally having a pretty ideal summer break.
Fortunately I have a friend who has agreed to rent me an air mattress in a corner of his bachelor’s apartment near High Park and the Junction. So for two months I’ll be living the dream… of sorts.
So with a new job in hand, motivation, functioning computer and period of artistic burn-out conquered, hopefully I’ll be inclined to blog more regularly. I think the summer’s going to be a good one.
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.
Well I’ve made it… or almost.
I’m in San Jose, I need to be in Nosara…
I should start with mentioning that I didn’t sleep the night before my departure, my nerves made sure of that. Thus at 5am Ottawa time (4am Costa Rica time), on zero hours of sleep, I trekked out to catch a bus to the airport. Ottawa was freezing, something like -30, I wore the only pair of pants I’m bringing, in addition to my packed sweater and windbreaker – I was just warm enough to wait for the bus.
Departing Ottawa was like clock work. However, because of the sub-arctic temperatures they had to coat the plane in a layer of anti-freeze. It was a little concerning at first because we weren’t told that this would happen. Suddenly moments before the engines lit to carry us into the sky the plane stopped and a weird looking truck drove up to the plane. A part of the truck lifted on a small crane attached to the back and then began spraying the plane in an orange mist from some attached hoses. I deduced it must be anti freeze.
In Toronto I had to re-check my bags, because I was transferring through Miami and the US makes you clear customs (even if you’re just transferring through an airport) before you take off. I arrived in Miami and had 45 minutes to race from one end of the huge airport to the other. Than my flight was delayed, so I bought Wendy’s and watched Boston Legal to pass some of the time.
One more uneventful flight (third flight that day) and I landed in San Jose, Costa Rica. I was bound and determined to get downtown via local bus as opposed to taxi, which meant saving around $19.60 USD. It also meant dusting cobwebs off my Spanish, despite running on zero energy. The bus rise was a little tense… I didn’t know where the stop was, what it looked like, when to call the stop, how to call the stop or if I was even on the right bus. Turns out I was, the bus dropped me off about a block from my hostel where I am now.
The hostel is cool, painted in random colours and run by some fat American ex-pat who wanders around between the front desk and his Wii console… That said this place has charm I was told there were three rules that applied to me when I arrived: 1. No drugs, no outside booze, they have their own 24h bar. 2. Return sheets and towels when I check out. 3. Be cool. I’m in an 8 person room, the hostel is almost empty right now and my room is something like $10 a night.
I haven’t slept in two days. The last three have been a crazy emotional rollercoaster, however, sitting here typing this out over a beer in the front foyer of the hostel has me facing a really cool new reality… I’m actually going to be in Costa Rica for the next six months. Crazy. Anyway, I need to sleep, tomorrow is touring around and I need to purchase a bus ticket to Nosara for the day after.
P.S. I’m currently talking with a lady who works at the hostel… she’s from Guelph, what a small world.
This morning I was en route to the Service Ontario counter at Ottawa City Hall. I needed to extend OHIP coverage for my trip to Costa Rica. Ottawa City Hall is right near Confederation Park and I decided to check it out. Two days ago I wrote a blog post about the day after the eviction and received a surprising amount of traffic on my site.
That night, or rather the next morning, Ottawa Police served the notice and removed the remaining protestors. For context, the first night of the eviction there were 200 people in the park to resist, the second night there were 25. Police made eight arrests, by that I mean they cuffed eight people and dragged them out of the park then uncuffed them and told them to go home.
There was one guy, named Obert Madondo, who was charged under the trespassing act and fined $65. He also had to be taken to hospital after an incident during the arrest. He claims police treatment caused injury, he was taken to hospital and released later with his arm in a sling. The police claimed in a press release that the arrest aggravated a pre-existing condition. There is a video of Madondo leaving the emergency room at Ottawa General hospital here, and his statement.
Either way things happened largely the way the Ottawa Citizen hinted they would, not with a showdown and epic last stand, but rather remaining protestors were quietly removed and ticketed in the night. It was sad to see it end that way somewhat.
While I was at the park I was trying to find a photo that included some evidence of the 38 day occupation that had ended only 48 hours ago, there was almost nothing. I noticed some areas in the snow, squares and circles where there was no snow, these were footprints of the tents that had been there the night before. I started photographing some of the footprints of tents I had photographed two days earlier when suddenly a passerby started to shout at me.
She indicated there was a cute squirrel eating a peanut (it was actually eating a cookie) in a tree, she was hinting that I should photograph that instead. I humored her and she remarked, “Isn’t it nice to have the space back again?” before leaving.
The photo is cropped a lot, and was shot with Canon’s ‘thrifty fifty’ 50mm f/1.8, so there’s some gross chromatic aberrations at this crop… Its a good thing I ordered a 135mm f/2.
As a final note, early in occupy Ottawa’s infancy I took a proactive role in the media committee. At the time I felt documenting the creation of this alternative society was what I had to offer. There is a flickr photostream, where I uploaded most of my photos but here is one I liked. It was taken at a march on October 19th before the movement in Ottawa started to drift away from the so-called 99%.
That’s it for today.
Below are my thoughts on the occupy Ottawa movement, they have been shaped by my visits to the camp, my involvement with the occupy Ottawa media committee and conversations and interviews with people for and against the movement. My interest was peaked by the inner journalist and my involvement was driven by the political science student in me. I stepped away from the movement a few weeks ago because of how felt issues of harassment reported in the camp were being handled, and because I felt occupy Ottawa was failing to achieve what it had intended to do. That and the ever mounting pressure of school and work. However, with the eviction process started, it seemed time to take a look at the occupation again.
The nature of an occupation is never considered pleasant. Typically an occupation implies the removal of rights from citizens native to a place by others from another place, usually imposing foreign values through force. North America understands this concept because that is the nature of the foundation of our societies. For all but a few, occupation is an unpleasant and oppressive thing.
The nature of the occupy movement is somewhat Marxist as it promotes class distinctions, are you in the 99% or the 1%? The typical organization of each occupation in Canada has been anarchist in nature, promoting social organizational values of non-oppression, decentralization and consensus building. In Canada at least, the occupy movement has been somewhat detached from the so-called ‘99%’ as a result.
In the United States, the middle class has been bullied by more than just the banks; for decades there has been the health care industry, insurance providers and their own government as well. The United States is going through a period of self-awareness that Canada has either already experienced or has yet to experience. Either way our middle class has not historically been hurt in the same way; while that is not the prevailing trend of the future for the Canadian middle class it is the pattern of the past. Since the occupy movement draws support from the ‘99%’s’ experience of oppression at the hands of the ‘1%,’ for an occupation to be successful it requires the middle class of a society to feel oppressed.
The Canadian middle class does not feel oppressed enough for occupations like those in the United States to work. This has become apparent through the somewhat lackluster display of physical defense as evictions across Canada roll on.
We have not seen photos of riot police beating protestors in Canada because the cities and police forces have chosen to allow the movements to whither and then used tenancy law as a means to remove them whilst maintaining a positive public image.
This morning, the day after the National Capital Commission was supposed to evict everyone, and the day after the general assembly in which occupy Ottawa voted to resist, 10 or so people remained. If occupy Ottawa and other so-called, ‘occupations’ want to remain relevant it may be time to pack up, regroup and reorganize. I would suggest a start would be to change the name, as occupations have not been pleasant or positive things, historically.
It will be interesting to see occupy Ottawa and the NCC handles this in the coming days.
**The following photos were added a few hours later**
Played around a bit with shooting into the sun, but I thought with the sun, tents and courthouse it said, “Morning, still there, law.”
Then I wandered around the camp a bit, it was quiet people were cleaning up. I saw a few protestors playing with sticks like swords, so I took a few photos.
After I turned back towards the courthouse and noticed some people taking some tents down, so I snapped a few photos, I liked this one.
So that is all for this post, I promise.
It has been almost two months since my last post. While I find that hard to believe, the last little while has been very busy. Although I’m not inundated with photo work right now I am in the final stretch of my undergraduate degree at Carleton. I’ve also been preparing for Costa Rica somewhat. One consideration has been which film camera to bring? At the advice of a friend I’ve decided against bringing a 35mm SLR and opted instead for 6×6 medium format.
I’ve been playing around with a Bronica Medium format. I’ve used it for a few daytime walk arounds but for the most part I have had unstable results with low light exposures. However, last night I performed test using a roll of Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 1600. I’ve figured out the camera’s operation, mostly and have my first scans. The operation and results have been great thus far and medium format strikes me as a great new medium (hahah) to play with.
Firstly; the frame is square, for someone used to the standard 4×6 ratio of a 35mm frame this is new. Secondly; the camera uses a top down view finder which means rather than hold the camera to your eye you cradle it in your hands and look down to frame, its called a ‘waist-level view finder,’ great for low angles. Also the focusing screen is mirrored so all the framing movements feel backwards.
Here are some low-res uploads regardless the sharpness and level of detail is incredible…
The colour photos were shot on Velvia 100 ISO 120 format film and processed by the good folks at Labworks on Bank St.
The black and white photos were shot on Ilford fp4 ISO 120 format film and processed by myself in my kitchen..
However, the cost of scanning 11 negatives at medium resolution (equivalent to 3 megapixels or so) was $37… Kinda ridiculous, the film is still affordable, especially if you buy in bulk and purchase online; scanning at high resolutions is not. So I think I need to find an affordable high-res medium format film scanner.
About a week ago I shipped off my broken camera to Canon for repairs. Since then I’ve been shooting slides and film only. Its strangely liberating being free of the digital screens and turnaround time…
In order to supplement my income (photography covers its own costs, not actual living expense right now) I work part-time as a kitchen supervisor at a coffee shop atCarletonUniversity. As the summer draws to a close were going to lose two of our staff. One is going to grad school the other on exchange. So last Saturday we decided to celebrate by going to the Elmdale tavern in Hintonburg for a performance by the Sin Sisters, an Ottawa Based Burlesque group.
Photographically speaking I got to do something I haven’t done before, shoot film at ISO 12 500. I used Ilford Delta 3200 black and white, however, through push processing I pushed the actual ISO value two stops. Delta 3200 is actually ISO 1000 film meaning that developing it at 3200 (its advertised speed) is actually pus processing by one stop, meaning using it at 12 500 is actually three stops pushed. Every stop you push film gives your more light sensitivity and stronger grain. I figured burlesque in a dark bar would warrant grainy black and white. Furthermore my camera (Canon EOS 1n) only meters to ISO 6400 so to me equivalent exposure for 12500 I had to underexpose everything by one stop. I’m actually fairly pleased with the results.
About a week before the burlesque show wasOttawa’s annual festival of graffiti, hip-hop and break dancing called House of PainT. Hosted underDunbarBridgenear Carleton U andBronson Rdit was a day of spray painting and break dancing. I dropped by for a few hours near the start of the break dance competition.
Well that’s it for now, my friend recently lent me his Bronica SQa, a Japanese med format made to resemble a Hasselblad. I’ve never used medium format before so I’m very excited.
The Sunday before last was a hell of a night and the intervening week and a bit has been somewhat of an equally hectic blur.
There was the collapse of the main stage at this years Bluesfest here inOttawa; caused by a sudden high speed downburst of fast wind from an incoming thunder storm. Three people were taken to hospital with injuries; one had been pierced through the abdomen by falling debris, although all would be released the next morning.
I wasn’t aware of any of that; no one on scene was at the moment. After leaving the scene I bumped into some friends seeking shelter from the rain following the sudden storm. It was at this point that they noticed the camera I was cradling under my shirt.
“What’s up? Get any good pics?” I was asked, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t entirely sure. I had pictures, but I also had serious doubts. I use a Canon EOS 1D MK II, a top of the line piece of equipment in 2003… The thing’s a tank. However, I used it without regard to the rain during the Black Keys storm a week earlier on July 8 and serious damage I believe was done to the lens contacts. An error 99 message, an error code meaning general or unspecified mechanical error, flashed and the camera has been steadily losing functionality since. Two of my lens’ (70-200mm and 50mm) no longer function properly either, the only lens I have that will work is my 24mm. It’s a great lens but not everything can be shot with a wide angle. Finally the shutter seems on the edge of malfunctioning, a piece of plastic has collapsed partially obscuring my view through the lens. Although it is above the mirror so it doesn’t affect the actual picture, it significantly reduces my ability to properly frame pictures.
Bearing all these mechanical failures in mind I raced home on my bike through a rainstorm, fearful that the water had already creaped into the camera and corrupted the memory card somehow. I knew I had friends who’d like to see the pictures ASAP, so I threw together a hasty blog post and posted links on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I have a modest following of about 100 humans and 50 bots on Twitter, but the power of the #hashtag and RTretweet got the link to my blog to other more prominent bloggers who then retweeted to their 4000+ followers…
Suddenly I began receiving text messages from a friend who is interning at the Globe and Mail inToronto, she earnestly suggested I contact some photo editors about the pictures I’d just posted… With her help I decided the best option was the Toronto Star. As they were outside Ottawa and not a part of either Postmedia or QMI, both of which had photographers there in the form of the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun, they may actually want to PAY for images, a rare thing for an outsider.
The Star got back to me almost immediately saying they wanted the photos but that they weren’t sure if they had money available, the photo editor then suggested contacting the Canadian Press, who were apparently looking to buy photos; she gave me their phone number only.
I hastily tried to calm my anxiety and focus; this had escalated fast. The Canadian Press is the Canadian subsidiary of the American press wire, the Associated Press. As a wire this is the company that sells the news to everyone else. Photos and stories filed on the Canadian Press wire are accessible by subscribers to CP inCanadaand subscribers to AP globally.
I picked up my phone and dialed the number, the phone was picked up on the first ring… I hastily blurted out my memorized intro, explaining who I was and what I had. The guy on the other end of the line explained that he was actually looking at my blog post, someone had sent him the link and he was interested in buying four pictures. He told me which ones and I emailed them to him.
Within an hour the photos were on the Globe and Mail’s website, in the article, the teaser photos on the main page and a special web gallery featuring all the CP photos from the collapse. I couldn’t believe it, at the same time I watched the publications and news alerts roll in I watched my website page views. On July 18 there were more than 5500 page views; in all of 2010 I had 2200 views, prior to that the single busiest day wasJune 26, 2010(G20) with 246 page views…
On Tuesday after the collapse I googled, “Adam Dietrich Canadian Press,” my photos were in papers across north America, linked to in music blogs in Brazil and Portugal, and even used on a news site in Indonesia, which got the photos from AP. Wednesday afternoon my friend at QMI called and said he’d been on a flight coming back from vacation and AirCanadagave him a copy of the Globe and Mail, they’d used one of my photos in print in the Folio section.
The final feeling of accomplishment came when I found a copy of the previous days issue (July 19), which had run the photo. On the front page, below the fold, was one of my pictures in a standalone photobox teasing the folio section which had coverage of the stage collapse.
Since then I’ve been trying to save some cash and work out a plan to get some new equipment…. Freelancing is not lucrative, regardless an invigorating experience.
Here are some of the places the that popped up in google….
Yahoo! Via 2space (US/International) – http://www.2space.net/news/article/369427-1310957402/
Middletown Journal (Ohio, US) – http://www.middletownjournal.com/entertainment/stage-falls-at-ottawa-bluesfest-8-injured-1209414.html
Globe and Mail (Canada/National) –http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/in-pictures-storm-brings-down-main-stage-at-ottawas-bluesfest/article2100366/?utm_content=2100366&utm_medium=Feeds%3A%20RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=News
The State (South Carolina) - http://www.thestate.com/2011/07/17/1901835/stage-falls-at-ottawa-bluesfest.html
Merced Sun-Star (California) – http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2011/07/17/1972729/stage-falls-at-ottawa-bluesfest.html
Access Atlanta(Georgia) – http://www.accessatlanta.com/celebrities-tv/stage-falls-at-ottawa-1022695.html
Kansas CityStar (US) – http://www.kansascity.com/2011/07/17/3019879/stage-falls-at-ottawa-bluesfest.html
Global (Regina) – http://www.globalregina.com/story.html?id=5117889
Komo News (Seattle, Washington) – http://www.komonews.com/news/national/125726133.html?tab=gallery
Canada.com (National) – http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=5117889&sponsor=
Springfield News Sun (Ohio) – http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/entertainment/music/stage-falls-at-ottawa-bluesfest-8-injured-1209414.html
KimaTV [CBS] (Yakima, Washington) – http://www.kimatv.com/news/national/125726133.html?tab=gallery
Stamford Advocate (StamfordConnecticut) – http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Stage-falls-at-Ottawa-Bluesfest-8-injured-1470172.php
Lancasteronline (Lancaster, Pensilvania) – http://lancasteronline.com/article/ap/423063_Stage-falls-at-Ottawa-Bluesfest–8-injured.html
Greenwich Time (Greenwich, Connecticut)- http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Stage-falls-at-Ottawa-Bluesfest-8-injured-1470172.php
July 8 I continued covering Bluesfest with a solid Friday evening lineup. In the early evening there was Chicago punk, Rise Against and in the evening the Black Keys.
I was pumped for Rise Against. I love punk music and I’ve been listening to Rise Against since the seventh grade. It’s true that they’ve changed, lost much of their edge and commercialized. Regardless its always awesome to photograph an artist you grew up with. the band seemed to recognize the diversity of their own fans in attendance and played a fair number of older songs as well.
I last saw them play in 2004 behind Siren Song of the Counter Culture at Elements nightclub in Kitchener, I was 15 I think. The music has grown somewhat poppier, but I have to admire their longevity.
They had a lot of energy, which after 12 years is impressive.
And as always with punk shows… the crowds are nuts. I had some kids fall out of the crowd onto me while I was shooting…
Then came the rain… I was backstage at the MBNA stage around 9:15 waiting for the Black Keys to take the stage. Suddenly gale force winds swept up and intense rain started. I hid under a fence like a lean to with a few other photographers. Then around 9:30 the cables on the left side of the MBNA stage broke lose under the pressure of the wind. Security freaked and pushed all the gathered media back about a hundred feet while they tried to fix the problem.
So after an hour of that crap it seemed like the Black Keys weren’t going on and I had plans for later in the evening. I left at 10:30, around 10:40 they went on stage. Fuck. And lesson learned.
Sunday was a much drier affair. I was there to see the Dropkick Murphys (speaking of longevity in punk). From Boston, they play punk infused with Irish folk, its a cool combination and anyone who has seen The Departed has heard their song, “Shipping up to Boston.” I was pretty excited to see them. There were a lot of mohawks, Bruins jerseys, green shirts and even kilts out. Ken Casey jumped in the crowd but I missed that one… I think I was drinking and dancing with some friends by that point.
Ken Casey was an ass and talked about how great it was to gloat about Boston’s win in Canada. Good thing they were in Ottawa not Vancouver.
I discovered too I’m having camera issues. My EOS 1D MkII developed an error 99. Error 99 is a terminal disease for Canon cameras, I had one with my 30 D last summer and the camera just started to degrade and break down rapidly. I’ll have to send it into Canon, depending on the cost of a refurbishment it may be worth it, it’s been a good camera. Also i’m not sure if this is related to the error 99 or not but my 50mm and 70-200mm no longer work well. There is a small black circle in the view finder covering up the light meter. Even still the exposure meter is inaccurate and the autofocus won’t work. However, I put those lenses on my EOS 1N (old film news camera) and the lenses work fine. Also my 24mm works fine on the digital. Ergo, it has some problem with lenses that use compression and concave glass.
If it’ll hold out a month I can send it off and finance a 5D MkII… Fingers crossed, knock on wood etc.
Because there’s still Bluesfest and other things!
There is some exciting news this week as yesterday I found out that I will be going to Costa Rica in January of 2012 on an expenses covered, paid internship with a community newspaper called Voice of Nosara. Although I still need to hammer out the finer points it looks like I’ll be producing content, mostly photos although stories and multi-media as well, for the papers hardcopy and website. In addition they have an apartment they’ll give me and pay for and an ATV to drive to local assignments and a monthly salary of $500.
I urge people to go to http://www.voiceofnosara.com/ and check out the work done by Pinar Istek. She’s their current intern.
The opportunity came during game six of the NHL playoffs. I was at the Georgetown Pub in Old Ottawa South with my girlfriend and some journalism friends. My friend and former coworker/boss at the charlatan, showed me an email he’d received from the journalism department. It was a forwarded internship opportunity looking for an advanced photojournalism student who spoke Spanish. I figured, “what the hell,” and applied. The deadline was July 1st and on July 2nd I had an interview over Skype with the managing editor at Voice of Nosara.
In the meantime I have the time to brush up on Spanish, finish my degree at Carleton and pick up a few pieces of equipment I’m missing.
For those curious my portfolio is available here: http://adamdietrich.carbonmade.com/
…Now onto BLUESFEST. The annual music festival hosted at the Lebretton Flats here in Ottawa. Yesterday was the second day. I saw the Roots and Skrillex, although I missed the media call for the Roots, so I only have pictures of Skrillex. Enjoy.
So I was merrily making pictures, then crap started happening during the second song then after security called a stop to the music because their barricade had broken from the crowd.
There will be more Bluesfest…. Rise Against, Lupe Fiasco, Black Keys, Dropkick Murpheys and Cheap Trick are what I can think of off the top of my head.