Saturday, March 31, 2012

Backwards Portrait: Walking Down Gastown with Friends

My buddy, his wife, and my wife hanging out in Gastown on a cloudy afternoon.  It's not easy taking a moving picture, especially with the slow focus and shutter lag of the iPhone.  Also with motion, people sometimes can look awkward frozen in an static image.  This moment I froze in time captures that very second perfectly.........

James Bond Spy Camera: Minox IIIS

A good friend of mine gave me this super cool Minox IIIS because he knows how much I enjoy collecting classic photographic paraphernalia.  Even without taking pictures with it, you can sense the high quality German engineering as you open and close the compartments, and as you turn the dials. It is a precision instrument that is really hard to compare with today's quick-build electronic/mechanical photographic tools.

It was featured as a high-tech toy in James Bond Films and by today's standards, it's still a pretty small and precise photographic instrument.  The metal fob/chain with metal ball markers is meant to give accurate distances to objects so as to focus correctly, as you have to manually focus by a focus distance dial.  To advance the film you have to slide the camera open and then close it , like a shotgun...and it slides nice and tight.  Even the 50+ year old leather case is in very good condition. 

A real piece of mechanical art. I sometimes carry it around in my man-bag just to have it with me and play with when I get the chance to.  Some day I'll special order in some film and take a few pictures with it. Look for it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Star Wars and Japan: Part 2

In Japan, you can find Darth Vader or really anything Star Wars on almost any product.  Darth Vader on sides of buildings trying to sell cell phones or R2D2 trying to flog Coca-Cola six-packs. On my most recent trip to Japan I was delighted to find a Darth Vader handkerchief to add to my collection (not my Star Wars collection, but my handkerchief collection, which is probably more nerdy I know.....).  Notice the Japanese style pattern to it, but still with a nice Star Wars dark-side touch. 

Just a quick side point: did you know Mark Hamill actually grew up in Japan, going to school there for a few years as his father was in the US Navy and traveled around a lot?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Graffiti Signage on Door

At first, I thought someone scratched graffiti on the backdoor of this townhouse complex, but I realized this was actual signage made by management. It was scratched on with an inscriber, and the hand-scratched font style looks good, and the information given and placement of the signage is done well enough (even though there is a slight grammatical error). I'm just wondering why they wouldn't just get a proper aluminum, plexi or even coroplast sign made up? What if they change locks in the future and you have to turn the key to the right instead? What if they paint the door in the future? This is just the rambling thoughts of an ex-sign guy........

Sushi and Star Wars?

What does Star Wars have to do with sushi?  Nothing. But that didn't stop this local Japanese restaurant from putting up Star Wars themed cloth print posters up next to more traditional decor throughout the restaurant walls.  There is a connection between Star Wars movies and Japan though, as George Lucas admits being strongly influenced by Akira Kurosawa movies (think Jedi's and Samurai's), especially The Hidden Fortress . There was one more print I wanted to get a picture of, but a group was already sitting right in front of it so i couldn't get a clean shot.  I'll try and get it next time. Want to eat sushi while staring at Star Wars posters? Go to Daimasu in Burnaby.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ambleside Beach and a Seagull

I quickly grabbed this picture at Ambleside beach in West Vancouver while my wife and sister-in-law and family finished up eating at the Savary Island Pie Company. I just caught a seagull flying across as I was framing the shot. I tried to get seagull in just the right spot, but the shutter lag is ridiculously slow (because the iPhone isn't really a camera!) so the bird is a little too far off to the edge of the frame. Oh well.....

Shot on my iPhone, Hipstamatic, John S lens, Black Keys Film, adjusted on my iPhone using Photoshop Express.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Basement Jam Session

If I had the opportunity I'd jam once a week, but alas I seem to only do it once or twice a year.  This was set up at a buddy's basement and we had a short but good time.  It was the perfect trio set-up: guitarist, bassist, drums. This is the ideal band line-up for me. Jimi Hendrix and the Experience, The Police, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, Rush, Primus, Wide Mouth Mason and many jazz trios as well. I only had my iPhone and it was very dimly lit, so the picture is very grainy and fuzzy looking, but you get a sense of the mood.  Hopefully we'll jam year!!

Irritating Backward Portrait

I found a picture of my wife from the summer that I hadn't posted yet, as I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. A few things irritated me after I took this shot and looked at it carefully, and it has nothing to do with my wife, of course! 

First, the line between the water and the trees cut right through my wife's neck, as if it's slicing across, which bugs me.  I should have made sure the line runs lower, by her mid-shoulder, which would have been closer to the proper rule of thirds of the horizon line anyway. Second, there's a piece of whitish-gray tile next to my wife's right knee that looks out of place among the natural looking rocks and wood pieces.  Why didn't I see it and throw it away?

Finally, my wife should be placed another two feet over to the right, or I should have framed the shot two feet to the left, since she's neither centered, nor on the right third of the image. Because of this, notice how one piece of log sticking out of the ground next to my wife's right elbow is just a little too close to her?  Also notice the other piece of wood next to her left hip? If I re-framed the shot, her body would have covered the one entirely, and the other revealed it completely. That really bugs me!! Arghghgh!!. 

All these small things that bug me add up to a lot of things that bug me.  I know nobody would have noticed these things unless I mentioned it, but now that I did, how does the image make you feel?!?!?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cross-Stitch Spider Web on a Tree

I caught this awesomely crazy public art piece from the corner of my eye as I drove past it this morning. Someone cross-stitched a spider web like piece on a tree. Sorry if I have my stitching terms incorrect, and if so please correct me if I'm wrong. Totally cool.  I colour isolated it so it stands out better against the ordinary urban background.

Whistler, Snowboarding, Fashion?

Another backwards portrait of my wife posing with her new Park Pickle snowboard, jacket and colourful pants!! It's funny how people choose the most insane colours and patterns when skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, even though they may be more conservative fashion-wise in normal work/school/social life.  Snow is the perfect canvas for colourful, over-the-top fashion, but how crazy can crazy get? I saw bunny ears, clown outfits, huge leprechaun hats, and jackets that looked like they ran on batteries! I needed shades because of the bright fashion, not because of the sun or the snow.  What's my mountain couture? Black pants, black jacket, black helmet, black gloves...... I know, I should loosen up just a little bit right? Maybe I'll wear pink socks next time........
Captured on my iPhone, Hipstamatic, John-S lens and Blanko film.

Doesn't the snow and trees look fake?  I didn't heavily modify this image at all, except cropping, sharpening, white balance and contrast.  It really did look this 'dreamy' when we were boarding. The trick to shooting in snow is to exposure compensate by at least 1.5 stops to factor in the reflective nature of snow which throws off the metering.  It's also really difficult to snowboard and take pictures.  I think I may need to invest in a helmet cam? Sorry..... I can't do it!  I'm too old school. I guess.....
Captured on my Panasonic FX-50, snow-mode, iso 200.