Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A month down already !!!

Wow end of January already here, was only a few weeks ago, we were all fighting holiday traffic.

A quick self-portrait done in the office with the Canon 5D, 50mm f1.4 1/640 ISO400
And quick blast through Aperture 3.0 and a preset called Simply Silver .

Suddenly February is here, today is a spring day here in London,ON a balmy +8c.
Its been up and down, one day rain , the next a snow storm then rain, throw in a day like today and your not sure how to dress till you look outside.

Great example is this pic from Jan 3rdth at 9am ish , out the top of the office.

And then 4 hours later , like nothing ever happened !

Been a quiet month though, passed quick.
Did manage to get out for some pics and pick up some new business photo wise.

First up was The Wrecks playing at Sunny's in St Thomas,ON. Great band, great players.

The Lead Guitar Player, was suffering miserably through a need for some tooth surgery , but still managed to get up and wail away the night.

Brought up memories of seeing Rick 'Flash' Dion playing the hotels and bars of Timmins,ON so many moons ago, nailing every solo.

Have to admit I enjoy taking pics of the bands playing in London and area, though gets a little tiring when your dealing with my usual lack of sleep issues and then going out at 10pm on a Friday night after relaxing for a few hours at home.  OK am sounding old but....

Attended the London Wine and Food Show, as a guest of Lotus Thai Restaurant, St Thomas,ON.
Take a few pics of their booth and of course sample some food.

Small statue outside their booth .

The ladies of course made sure i was well fed while i was there.
Recommend their restaurant to anyone.

Interesting though was i showed up early, before opening and simply walked in , camera swinging.
No one stopped me, asked for my pass or who  I was with, even security said 'hello'
hhhmmmm gonna have to try that some day at the John Labat Centre and see if I can get in through the back door for pics.

Lots of food and wine of course, and some nice displays, like this fruit arrangement from Edible Arrangements here in London, actually not to far from the office.

And some Creme Brule from Aroma , a Mediterranean restaurant here in London at Richmond and Piccadilly. If your looking for a taste of Spain, it is the place to go.

For the price I recommend them, as the average plate was around same as The Keg, but honestly a whole lot better. Feels and tastes like someone actually cooked your meal, the heart and soul of the Chef is in the food.

Latest fun is through a posting in Flickr and hooking up with a website called www.airbnb.com.
Basically a Bed and Breakfast online service, with everything from a room for $20 a night to a Hong Kong apartment for rent at $2000/night.  So i am now the local London rep for any requests to take pics of client places, be it a room , shared or whole apartment.

My first assignment was a place in London available for rent by the night, great old house close to downtown. Really nice couple own this.

The idea is to get natural light pictures (if possible) and get the basics of the room , so people have a sense of what they will see when they get there.

You also highlight cool or interesting features of the room or place, as points of interest. There are some limitations, must be very hi rez pics and only in landscape view like you see here.

An actual paying photo shoot, and my first real one.

So that got me thinking about my own vacation plans.

If you remember from last year, I was getting all set for a whirlwind trip of Japan. Had bought my ticket and then 3 days later , earthquake tried to sink Japan into the ocean forever.
Well that credit has been sitting with our warm hearted friends (I say that very very sarcastically) at Air Canada waiting to be used and about to expire.

So what do I do with it ?
Cant transfer it, cant split it, and must fly from Canadian soil.
So the options are wide open, could go just about anywhere and decided to return to Barcelona, Spain.
As much fun as it was the last time (September) really we crammed a lot of  city into 3 days and actually missed out on a quite a bit. So this will be a week in Barcelona, really take my time, act like a real tourist and see everything, especially what we missed out on in Sept.

Instead of trying to Priceline some Holiday Inn, I used the Airbnb site and looked at a complete apartment for a week. The advantages being, no housekeeping barging in each morning to fluff your pillows, an actual kitchen to be able to have some real food, specially when it comes to breakfast. Being able to get up and enjoy a coffee and food without leaving the room and not paying 20euro is a great option. Also mean can have goodies on hand for travel snacks and night time.

After searching around and a few emails, found an apartment in The Gothic area , blocks from the beach and harbor.

View Larger Map

As we know from the last voyage most things are in walking distance, and even then the metro is fantastic there and pretty cheap. Getting around the city is least of the issues when there.

Here is a view of the actual apartment living room, with windows open to the street below.
These are from the Airbnb website

That wall and window would be great for some pics - will try some self portraits there.
will have time and got space to pull back the furniture and redecorate haha
And bedroom shot

we will find out how much photoshopping was done , once inside haha.
Kind of like a bachelor apartment, with a small efficiency kitchen.

Oh ya the place has wifi so no 8euro a day trying to get internet in the hotel.

Now just have to figure out the best time to go and get it booked before end of March, when my ticket expires.

Noticed something on the door of the Terrain a few weeks ago and made a point of taking a picture.

These stones were from a walk on the beach in Port Stanley in 2010. I need to remember to take one out and add it to my small collection in the house.
If you don't know, when I go places, if I remember , I pick up a stone , bring it home, wash it and then mark the place and date on it, and add to the collection.

Took this tonight, so you can see what they look like.

I can read  a stone and remember the place, who was there, why I was there.
Much better than any souvenir that you can buy on the street, and will outlast any picture I have taken.

Few more photo ops coming up this weekend, possibly a new band to take pics of,  and another photoshoot for Shisiedo at The Bay, Masonville Mall, London,ON.

Travel plans being put together for the new year also but nothing really set yet.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year !!

2011 is over - great year - really no complaints about it at all.

Did not get to do a pic New Years Eve, oh well next year - haha

Finished off the year with some pic sessions.

First was a promotion I got involved in at the Shiseido counter at The Bay , Masonville, London,ON.
This started form a conversation this past summer, while picking up some product to bring to China.
Started off with "I am flying out tomorrow and need this...", where I was going, what i was doing , the subject of pics came up (of course) and then a promise to return to show what I saw in China and share camera talk. 

My original idea was to offer my services at The Bay for any woman who had a complete makeup session done, to take a few head shots, for no charge, email them. add some something to what they were already getting and to push myself outside my comfort zone once again.

It all finally happened in December, when I got contacted by the Shiseido Manager back in October , asking if I would work exclusively with them on this idea. 
Can't say no can you !!
Clientele is primarily Asian, the product is well known Japanese company.

This  would be exclusive to that counter, special invitation only to the customers.
 So took a small room in the store used for facials, and transformed it into mini-studio !!
White paper on the wall, barely squeezed in and then i was pushing my back into the drywall to get some distance between me and the subjects.

 One thing i realized after is I was getting a lot of yellow cast from the wall on the right, bouncing back into the pics . Next time will bring a piece of left over paper or white sheet to put on that wall.

First up was a lady from Hong Kong, amazing smile, after a few minutes she really warmed up to the camera and started to have fun.

Followed by sisters, Jie and Lila, originally from Shanghai.

We know who the poser is !! Lila had previous experience with having her photo taken back in China and used it to her advantage. Lucky me !

The experience forced me to talk to them , find something to take them away from the camera pointed at their head, get them comfortable, find that smile or look that speaks about who they are.
Not easy, 
Remember that next time you have pics taken at some large chain store photo studio and then compare them against pics done by a professional studio.  The difference is the person behind that camera, what they bring to the table, what they see, how they feel.  Big Box stores can pump them out at high volume, camera, lights all locked down, every pic the same. Like a cookie cutter or photo copier.

I will be doing this again ! learned alot and will be smoother and more confident the next time around.

To close off the year, I actually ended with thet Gents that helped me really get out there at the start of the year back in May 2011. Hurtin Merv and The Boys were tearing it up at The Wortley Roadhouse, London,ON.

Calm before the storm as they say. 

The Wortley Roadhouse has been in business since 1990, caters to a real broad range of customers, though seems the average person is past 40 and has a few dollars to spend.

The Wortley was its usual Cougar and Sausage fest - haha.

That's Merv down on the dance floor, doing what he does best, keep the customers happy. That's at least 8 women standing there taking it all in.

Place was packed, boys were playing their usual, so took advantage to get some shots,  like above , behind the band.
Few extra of Mr Greg on skins, he usually seems to be in the shadow of front men Ryan (bass) and Terry (guitar) holding it all together. So his turn to be in the spot light.

Would say am starting to see a difference in some of the pics I am taking of music groups now versus at the start of the year. Pushing past my fears to get those shots.

Next up Bender at the Eastside this coming Friday and then Sabbath Only Sabbath, with opener Nail  on Jan 28th.  Should be good shows.

All the best to everyone in 2012. 
I encourage everyone to get outside, take a camera, take pics, push yourself.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” Helen Keller