Monday, August 31, 2009

Salvador (1998-99)

Salvador was one of the three cats who lived in the apartment on Black Street in Halifax, and belonged to the woman who was the primary (long-term) tenant. He was a large, ginger tabby (I'm not sure I've ever seen a ginger tabby who wasn't "large"). Here he is pictured engaging in one of his favourite activities: enjoying the view from the top of my old PC, and conveniently soaking up with warmth from the monitor as well.
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Birthday Candles (late June, 2005)

Queen Street South apartment, Hamilton, Ontario.

Deirdre's birthday is June 28th, but I think the party was a few days beforehand since it was also Pride weekend. I always liked this photo, taken on the back porch. There's something about the light sources, and the blurriness--and how in spite of the blur you can still see what is going on, and the expressions. It reminds me of the way figures emerge in some paintings by Rembrandt, with a remarkable detail that is shown in spite of what look like (upon closer examination) very large blobs of paint, rather than dainty, delicate articulations. This photo is warm, and vibrant, and I think it captures the moment (a birthday party held in a back-yard on a summer evening) rather nicely.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Miramichi (July, 1997)

Taken from the Via Ocean train to Montréal.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Piazza del Duomo (May 24, 2007)

I took this picture from the roof of the Duomo in Milan, Italy. I think it was over 30 degrees (celcius) that day, and I was up on the roof of this white stone structure, trying not to get blinded and thus lose the opportunity of creating images like the one above.

This whole image is amusing to me because of its bizarre juxtapositions. Firstly, I am somehow high up above the scene, which is evident but not explicable by anything present in the image. Secondly--more obvious--there is an over-sized skeleton lying on the ground, which dwarfs the small crowd next to it. And the skeleton, in turn, has a very pointy nose. It makes me think of what one of those commedia dell'arte masks might look like if you removed the mask and found a real face, to match the contours of the facade, underneath.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sky (August, 2000)

I shot this from the terrace in front of l'Oratoire Saint-Joseph, in Montréal, Québec. Not sure why it turned out so dramatically, though I would have had a polarising filter on my Minolta by this time.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fishing (February, 2002)

Taken on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, during a break from the drive to Tofino.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Haute Tension (April, 2001)

As you may begin to notice (if you follow this blog over time at all, which I certainly don't expect of anyone), I like public texts. Especially "mundane" ones that, upon first glimpse to a stranger or traveler, might seem a little bit out of the ordinary. So I'm sure that over time, I'll start posting more of the many "sign pictures" that I've collected over the years. This is a good beginning, I think--it's an example of what I used to call the Montréal metro's "Electro Man!", where the exclamation mark is required.

I maintain that the only thing missing here is a silhouette of his entrails being zapped out of his body by that electric shock that is so cleverly depicted as skewering him through the torso.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tree Blur (November, 1998)

Another one taken on the Via Ocean train to Montreal from Halifax. I believe this was somewhere in New Brunswick.

This reminds me very much of certain early 20th-century artworks, particularly this one by Mondrian which, if I remember rightly, was one of a series in which he abstracted the form of the tree to a greater degree with each successive image. As usual, I am interested in the effects of exposure time and the ways in which certain lines remain "clear" while others blur, creating a sense of movement and depth.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Christie Street (July 24, 2008)

I took this picture one evening when I was out for a walk in Toronto's west end. It was taken under a cloudless sky at dusk.

In terms of the technicalities, I'm not quite sure how this picture happened. It has a slight blur that looks more like a faint doubling and slurring of edges in the image. I believe that due to the odd lighting situation, the camera's light meter read "low light" and as a result, a longer exposure time was used. During that time I must have moved the camera slightly, though the exposure time wasn't long enough--and my movement wasn't significant enough--for serious blurring to occur.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Towhai Hotel (January, 2001)

Taken on the drive north to the Bay of Islands with my mother, during my last trip to Aotearoa.

I hate to make any comment about an image summing up a "stereotype"... but this one does it, in a way (for me). There's something about the hotel with its Lion Red advertisements (in small towns in New Zealand, as I recall the town pub was often in the town hotel, as in this case. Not that I saw a town), and that Toyota parked out front, and the blank "Specials" board, in combination with a glimpse of nearby fields and a leaning power pole.

Unfortunately, what's probably the most amusing thing in the picture is scarcely visible--it's that old car next to the white shed (which actually looks like a defunct auto shop) in the background. The car lacks headlights and pretty much any semblance of functionality. Yet stuck inside the windshield is a large "For Sale" sign.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Eggs & Table (November 4, 2008)

Sometimes light just draws me in with its effects. I see some eggs sitting next to the kettle, and I get the idea for an image wherein the overlapping arcs of shadows and curved objects resemble something like an early Cubist composition... everything is so crisp, yet soft.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Icicle (Winter, 2002-03)

Taken in Hamilton, Ontario, on James Street South.

My interest in snow and ice never seems to abate, even after the many winters I've now spent in Canada. Huge icicles are sort of riveting in the same way as large boulders balanced precariously. There's a fascination, almost a morbid one, stemming from the possible peril of the icicle dropping (on someone), or from the boulder somehow coming unstuck and clobbering everything in its path. The difference between those examples being the eerie (because dangerous, yet delicate?) beauty of ice, I think.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Winston (September, 1994)

Serendipity intervened in this image, which I captured very early in in my photographic "career" (I was 14) and which is still one of my favourites. It was taken outside the library on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I'm not sure which elements of the photo are deliberately framed; I get the impression that I was lining up a photo in which it would appear that Churchill was emerging ominously from the shrubs. The accidental addition of a well-posed pedestrian was the lucky part.

I'm not sure which camera I was using at this time, but I think it was a borrowed one (side note: The camera I was given after this was a Vivitar, evidently not of any quality since it soon developed--hah!-- an issue with light leaks that led to the ruination of a number of rolls of film).

Winston, or rather the statue of Winston Churchill that was my target in this photo, was created by sculptor Oscar Nemon in 1980 as part of a series. I'm not sure if the statue was unique to Halifax; since then, I thought I had seen it (or duplicates of the same original) in a couple of other places, but these could have been different members of the same series--I assume they look somewhat similar.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Love Affair with the Lamp (August 14, 2009)

This is the first time I've posted a recent photo here; I found this one quite funny. Recently my cats have been oddly obsessed with this lamp, which stands in one corner of my living room. They seem to develop this interest only at night; the lamp doesn't need to be turned on for them to gravitate to it, either.

There's nothing special about this lamp--I got it at someone's garage sale, and that person evidently got it from Ikea--and certainly nothing about it has changed over the past ten days or so. Nothing (I can see) that would justify their sudden, intense fascination, anyway.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Halifax HMV (October 2, 1997)

Taken at a Plumtree concert, held at the HMV on Spring Garden Road in Halifax.

I used a Mamiya 220 (or 330, but I think I usually preferred the 220) with 120 film, most likely Agfa 400 ISO. The camera was borrowed from "the cage" in NSCAD's photography department. it's unlikely that I used a light meter at all for this shot, since there is no meter built into the Mamiya twin-lens reflex cameras that were available, and I usually only took one general reading with a hand-held light meter before shooting a series of photos (metering for each photo is fussy and takes a little while, which can get in the way when you have moving targets).
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Highcliffe (August 13, 2004)

Taken by the ocean in Dorset; I think this was the day before my sister's wedding. Two of her friends took me for a drive to the coast, shortly after we arrived at the B&B at New Park (in the New Forest, Hampshire).

For me, there is something deliciously appropriate in the name of this place, and the images of it that I took. Here, for example, the clouds seem somewhat dark and faintly "brooding", and the sea looks as if it should be preparing for a storm. To me it seems as if some 19th-century hero/ine should be standing near the cliff, bemoaning his or her fate--Jane Eyre, or perhaps Heathcliffe.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Highgate Cemetary (August 12, 2004)

Karl Marx's grave at Highgate, taken on my first trip to England. The stone holds the classic line, "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it". Above, just below Marx's head, are the words "Workers of all lands unite".

Highgate is the loveliest cemetery I have ever seen, and I do like a nice graveyard. I'll be posting more pictures of it eventually. I recommend going out of your way to see it, if you get the chance.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Avenue Coloniale (Autumn, 1999)

Another image that I enjoy without really knowing why. There seem to be no words for it--not the scene itself, which is remarkably ordinary (for the area, Montréal's Plateau district), but the reasons why it appeals to me.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kitten Leg Cleaning (December 10, 2008)

One of the first images of Mr. Darcy that I was able to capture. I got both my cats when they were about 9 weeks old (litter-mates).

Here, the more-orange kitten (Mr. Darcy) enjoys late-morning winter sunlight as he gives himself a wee bath.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sun Rises Over Japan (December 10 [?] 2000)

Taken (with my Minolta) on a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei.

The effects of light I discussed in an earlier entry--those that follow movement, and cause temporal disorientation--were even more apparent during this flight to New Zealand, during which I stopped in LA, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur (then looped back to Auckland), and consequently lost all sense of the actual date. By the time I arrived, it appeared as if three days had passed (hence the question mark in the title).

Technical note: I had trouble uploading this image. Sorry about the size (a bit small), and also for the flecks of dust; I believe this was residue on the scanner.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blue Sky, Highway (March 6, 2007)

Taken on the GO Transit bus from Hamilton to York University (407 Highway), probably in the early morning.

I include this in a series of photos that was jokingly nick-named "Development!", and which I started shooting in 2002 on colour film (I'll post some of those eventually). There are now two sets of images belonging to that group, and the above is drawn from the second set (taken with my Cybershot). Both sets focused on the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but the initial series was focused on "cookie-cutter" housing developments around Hamilton, Oakville and Burlington, while the follow-up set was shot along the 407 Highway that also passes through Missisauga, Brampton, and the northernmost part of Toronto.

The latter were inspired by my commute between Hamilton and North York (York University) during my Master's degree in 2006-2007. I usually took the bus three or four times a week, and after I bought a digital camera in October 2006, I started using it during the long (1h 45m) rides to and from campus.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Running Raku (Spring, 2001)

A Raku session in the small courtyard adjacent to the glazing room, ceramics area, Visual Arts Building or VAV as it was known (Concordia University, Montréal, Québec). Apparently the Visual Arts have been moved to a new building now; from what I recall, this one was converted from a parking garage. Even if that was a myth, I could see how it could have been true (given the size and shape, and general layout, of the building).

After being removed from the dustbins in which the "reduction" of the glaze took place, Raku pieces were carried with tongs (as in this image) to buckets filled with water in which they were dunked, before being cast onto the snow to cool. Later they were scrubbed to remove traces of sawdust and ash.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Loch Lomond, Cape Breton (September, 1998)

Something about the colour in this image pleases me a lot. There's a kind of sharp saturation to it, it's like a visual salad of bitter greens with vinaigrette--muted, with twangy intensity. The picture is of the fire pit used for cooking and general fire goodness on the island I was visiting.

Cape Breton, like the rest of Nova Scotia (and indeed, Eastern and Central Canada) takes many of its place names from the UK and from Scotland in particular. Loch Lomond is clearly no exception to this trend. Note: There's also a Liverpool, Nova Scotia, complete with a Mersey River.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Matapédia, Train (July 18, 2000; 04:45)

Matapédia, Québec, taken from the window of a VIA Ocean train to Halifax (with my trusty Minolta and 35mm lens).

Two things struck me about this image, and have always made it a favourite for me. One was the softness captured with the movement of the train, softness brought about not only by the blurring of the closest trees due to a slow shutter speed, but also because the early morning mist is still muffling the firs, causing them to recede more rapidly than is normal into an opaque backdrop of fog.

The other element is time, a factor built in to the title of the photograph. I've found that when travelling to the far north or south (I have done a little of both), my sense of time and space becomes a shifting disjuncture, one often brought to focus by the effects of light: as here, where (I note) the time is slightly earlier than 4am, and yet there's enough light that it echoes off itself (the drops of water forming the dense mist), forming the impression that dawn has passed and that an overcast sky now hangs, threatening, perhaps, a heavy fall of mountain snow.

In fact, it is July and not far past dawn, if dawn has occurred; tricks of light and water play havoc with time, causing doubts about movement/directionality and location. Like the 9:30pm sunset I saw last time I was in the southern hemisphere, this northern dawn conjured something mystical akin to a sense of approaching limits (limits of the earth? Of latitude? Of day and night? Dawn and dusk?). The feeling of journeying, rather than merely travelling, is somehow heightened by these alterations.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Snow Blown (February 14, 2007)

One of a series of "snow photos" that I have taken, over time. I really enjoy the apparent physics/resultant aesthetics of snow, and also the great variation in effects according to what variety of snow happens to have fallen.

This was a very large snow-storm; a number of my best snow shots were taken immediately after it. In this one, a spray of snow left earlier by a passing car or plough has been dusted with a drifted layer of much lighter, powdery snow, which fell later.

What's interesting is that the effect is very similar to that of wet and dry sand on the beach, a sight familiar to me from spending a good deal of time at the ocean when I was younger (in New Zealand). Dry sand seemed to build eddies in the lees of clumps thrown up earlier in the day by vehicles' tyres, dogs' paws or the furrows left after beach-goers had dragged their umbrellas, beach chairs and "chilly bins" to and from whatever spot they had staked out for the day. This memory is probably one that informs my enjoyment of the patterns made by sun on snow, and highlights a kind of analogous yet oppositional relationship (winter/summer, moisture/dryness etc.) between the images involved.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Columbine (June 7, 2007)

Taken in early morning sunlight. I planted columbines in the garden at the Queen Street South apartment (Hamilton) during the summer of 2006, and in summer 2007 they grew back far more lusciously and produced hundreds of flowers, with one plant producing flowers of several different colour combinations.

I will probably feel the urge to post a lot of garden pictures, but I'll try to restrain myself (not everyone sees plants the way I do, though hopefully some of my photographs can change that!).
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