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Almost, but not quite

Almost fell for a scam the other day. At this point, I’m not sure if its a scammer, spammer of a phishing expedition:

Spam_Screenie.jpg

I received a message via my websites form submission page that said that I misspelled the word “elit.” Naturally, being the suspicious guy that I am (Sad, isn’t it? Suspicious of some nice person pointing out that I’ve made a spelling mistake), I decided to Google the good fellow and came up with a few blog entries of other creative types that have received the same email.

So, if you receive an email from Mr. Scott Matthews Sr., beware.

Stay safe out there. Sadly, stay suspicious too.

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Instagram Weirdness

It takes a lot of work to post your art and photography on Instagram. The manual work of conceiving, planning and executing a drawing or painting. The manual work of scouting, planning, shooting and editing a photoshoot. And then there’s the work involved in preparing the post—making sure they all have the proper meta tags, making sure that you’ve watermarked the images, and finally, composing a little write-up for the post. All told, literally hours of work per post.

Only to find out that the posts don’t even show up in the hashtags.

When I originally posted this drawing to the hashtag #yycart while logged into my art account, I can clearly see the post inline with the other images posted at that time.

When I originally posted this drawing to the hashtag #yycart while logged into my art account, I can clearly see the post inline with the other images posted at that time.

When I switch accounts and go to the #yycart hashtag under my photography account, however, the drawing post seems to have disappeared. 

When I switch accounts and go to the #yycart hashtag under my photography account, however, the drawing post seems to have disappeared. 

I’m not one to stress too much about the number of followers I have. I would rather engage with someone who is truly interested in what I do than to have more people who follow and unfollow on a whim.

But after 2+ years of doing this, I'm finding it hard to justify the amount of work and effort it takes to stay on Instagram. I refused to go on Facebook for the exact same reason. I would rather spend my time creating stuff and post it for my own satisfaction. If there are a few people that like what I do, that’s great.


Some posts I found in my research: Lifehacker, Mic, Alextooby, and Entrepreneur.

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Guys and their Equipment

WARNING: Sarcasm Ahead

As a hobbyist photographer, I never understood why someone would ask me what camera I create with (brand?, cropped frame, full frame or medium format?, film or digital?), or what settings I used for a particular image (f-stop, ISO, etc). I don’t understand the concept of pixel-peeping to judge the ‘quality’ of a particular image either.

You would think that most people would consider the overall composition of an image, but you would be wrong according to the pixel-peepers.

You would think that most people would consider the overall composition of an image, but you would be wrong according to the pixel-peepers.

This is apparently how normal people should view photographs. Preferably with a loupe, and about an inch away from the screen or the photographic print. Note the general 'softness' of the image because the cropped sensor doesn't have the resolving power of a medium format sensor.

This is apparently how normal people should view photographs. Preferably with a loupe, and about an inch away from the screen or the photographic print. Note the general 'softness' of the image because the cropped sensor doesn't have the resolving power of a medium format sensor.

As an artist/illustrator, I’ve NEVER had a discussion about the merits of the granular structure of the carbon used by the different charcoal pencil brands, or the quality of the pigments used by Staedtler as opposed to Faber Castell. I’ve also never gone to an art exhibition or museum and put my eyeballs one inch away from the surface of a painting or drawing and declaring that the artwork is no good because I can see the brushstrokes or that they clearly failed to blend the colour transitions together.

Hmm, does the typical artist concern themselves with the granular structure of the materials they use?

This image is obviously shoddy - you can see the brushstrokes! The image maker didn't bother to blend everything together! The resolution of the image is quite primitive and the colour is too punchy and way off. He should have used a full frame canvas at the very least. A medium format canvas would be the ideal.

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Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows, 1890

When I go out for fine dining, I don’t ask the chef what brand stove he/she uses and walk out in disgust because they don’t use my preferred brand, or that they use a brand that I think will not do a good job with the food I’m about to eat.

And yet, this attitude is often accepted in photography.

I learned to shoot with a film camera that my father gave me. No autofocus, image stabilisation, or a fully automatic mode. This is the reason why my current digital camera (which is now six years old and very beat-up) is always on full manual. Because I learned to shoot that way. I normally don't walk around with my camera dangling around my neck like an oversized necklace, although I would consider it if I could afford a Leica. I usually just use (gasp!) my iPhone.

Limited edition Lamy fountain pen or Bic 4 Colour ball point? The choice is obviously the superior Lamy pen! Why? It's got a red dot at the end of it!!

Just like I learned how to draw pictures with ‘everyday’ writing implements that were lying about the house. When I grew up and could afford fancier drawing tools, I bought and used them with no more thought than they were tools I used to accomplish the drawing goals I had. I still occasionally use the cheap Bic ballpoint pens of my childhood to execute fairly involved pieces. Oh, and no one has told me that these pieces were shit because they were done with Bic pens. At least, not to my face.

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Flags of our Forefathers

"Flags of our Forefathers," 2017, 13" x 19"

"Flags of our Forefathers," 2017, 13" x 19"

Symbols mean everything and nothing.

In the end, what do you want your country to stand for - equality for ALL, or equality for the select few?
Rich or poor?
Black or white?
"WE THE PEOPLE...," or we the ___________ people?

The choice is ours to make. Our children are watching. Make sure the symbols we pass on to them are worthy of our highest ideals and not our lowest nightmares.

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Printing Memories

Two years ago this March, my father-in-law passed away. He was a man that I greatly admired. He reminded me of my own father—a man who packed up his life and moved his entire family to another country. Several nights before his funeral, I sat with my in-laws and went over the mountains of pictures that were stored in a lot of albums all over his house. My father-in-law was an avid amateur photographer when he was a young man. There were selfies taken with timing devices, pictures of the children and grandchildren at special events goofing around, pictures of places visited and adventures lived. All contained in precious little pieces of paper.

A young man with his entire future ahead of him.

A young man with his entire future ahead of him.

As the night progressed, my in-laws began accumulating small piles of pictures around themselves. Some images were for the memorial service, and some were pictures that they wanted to keep for themselves. Real and tangible artifacts of a life well lived. They also served as emotional triggers for memories stored away and long forgotten. Memories that made you realize that the images that you are looking at are mere representations. That it pales next to the memory of actually LIVING that time. Of BEING in that moment.

Which made me think of my own mortality. In the future, will my smart device be passed around for my relatives to look at and wonder about all the images I’ve created, all the things I’ve seen, all the events I’ve witnessed, and all the adventures I’ve been in? At one point, my current device had over 1,000 images that were never backed up to either the cloud or my computer. Not one of them were ever printed. Although not particularly large, my backups contain over 3 terabytes of sketches, illustrations and photographs. Again, none have been printed. We live in an age where everything is being digitized. Everything from books to movies, music, and images are consumed or viewed on a digital device of some sort. There are cries to digitize everything. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? Is that even a good idea when you consider some old stone tablets, papyrus manuscripts and books have lasted for centuries? I have a twenty-five year old SyQuest disk but no SyQuest drive to read the data on that disk. Even if I did have the drive unit, I can’t simply plug it into my current desktop computer. When the technology industry moves on to the latest storage device and connection technology, how many of us will take the time to migrate all of our precious data to the new standard? After one passes away and no one pays the company that hosts all your precious memories in the cloud, will they just disappear?

A print, on the other hand, doesn’t disappear. A print is the best substitute we have of time that’s long passed into memory—a slice of time that we can never get back. An old photograph possesses magic that enthrals people. Even if you don’t know who the subject is, you are often left to wonder what the subject was like, what deemed the moment important enough for a photograph, and what they were thinking at the exact moment the shutter button was pressed. I observed all this that night as my in-laws carefully peeled back the brittle, yellowed plastic cover of the photo album page to retrieve the paper treasure underneath. After staring at the image for a few moments, they then passed it around with a knowing smile and a “…remember when…?”

Who will remember the moments that are stuck in digital limbo? More importantly, are you missing out on the magic of being in the moment with family and friends by fiddling around with your digital camera?

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It Matters

I don’t know what compels me to do these paintings. The audience I reach with this blog and my Instagram feed is somewhat limited. And yet, I still do them. I still do them despite the fact that they are sombre and somewhat depressing to research and execute. I would like to think that I’m contributing something to the grand scheme of things in my own small way. That it matters. Somehow.

Since my early teens, I’ve settled into the habit of watching the evening news, and what I’ve seen lately doesn’t look good. Granted, only the most sensationalist events ever make it on the evening news. Events like the plight of the Syrian refugees. These people want nothing more than what my parents wanted for their children: opportunities. They’ve risked everything to flee from the civil war being waged in Syria. In return, they are met with indifference, annoyance, suspicion, or sometimes open hostility by certain communities in the countries they wish to join.

"Am I My Brother's Keeper?'"   2016, 19" x 13"

"Am I My Brother's Keeper?'" 2016, 19" x 13"

Being a naturalised Canadian citizen has afforded me and my family a life that I could not possibly have imagined in my country of origin. It has opened up opportunities. It has given me a chance to meet people I would never have met. It has given me a chance to participate in a free and honest society. For this, I’m forever grateful to Canada.

That being said, there have been jarring situations where I’ve been reminded that I’m a person of colour. That I somehow don’t belong in this place that I call home. Simply because of the colour of my skin. As much as this bothers me, it’s no comparison when contrasted with the plight of people of colour in the U.S. Especially young African American men. Simply because of the colour of their skin, they are harassed by the police. They are treated with suspicion. The most disturbing aspect of this is the fact that guns are more freely available in the U.S. than in Canada.

"I Have A Dream,"   2016, approximately 80" x 60," 4 Panels

"I Have A Dream," 2016, approximately 80" x 60," 4 Panels

"I Have A Dream,"   Detail 1, top left panel

"I Have A Dream," Detail 1, top left panel

"I Have A Dream,"   Detail 2, middle of lower panel

"I Have A Dream," Detail 2, middle of lower panel

In the end, I guess that it would be far easier for me to stop watching the news. To stop being engaged with what’s going on around me. To stop caring about what happens to my fellow human beings. To stop voting. To stop advocating for issues that I deem important. In essence, to allow myself to die inside and buy more material things to fill that empty hole.

So, in the end you have to ask yourself, am I my brother’s keeper? It’s a hard question to answer. Everyone answers it differently. But I continue to answer it the best way that I can.

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Fall Drive

It’s weird that fall has become may favourite season. As a child, fall heralded the end of summer and meant that winter was on its way. Being an island boy, I never liked winter. Winter always meant less sunshine, shorter days and the requisite ‘seasonal affective disorder,’ (which I always thought was a made-up condition). As a grown man, I’ve grown to like winter for all its clean, stark beauty.

Fall offers a wealth of natural beauty along the foothills and mountains of BC and Alberta. Our recent drive out and back from Radium, British Columbia reinforced why this season is so special. Fog covered peaks and the brilliant yellow foliage of the foothills by the Rocky Mountains. Also, those twisty mountain roads are something special when driven in the right car ;-)

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Fall_STI_03

It just goes to show you that you don’t need a lot of money to revel in the beauty of the world. I’m enjoying this season for as long as I can.

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Available Light

Every time I visit my brother-in-law's house, we have to enter through the garage. In that garage he keeps his new toy - a Harley Davidson Fatboy motorcycle. Because of the single window at the side of the garage, the Harley is sometimes bathed in a magical afternoon light. I can't resist taking pictures of the motorcycle every time I see it in that light. I have a lot of photos of that bike littering my hard drive. Here are just two shots:

Brooding Fatboy
Leaning Fatboy

The quality of the late afternoon light filtering through the single window, then passing through the dusty air of the two car garage is simply magical. I sometimes spend countless hours in the garage while family events are happening within the main house. 

I'm not a rider, but under that magical light, I can almost be persuaded into adopting a Harley lifestyle.

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Art Defined by Venn

I ran into a VENN diagram on the internet that best illustrates the definition of artists, or those with artistic leanings. I thought it funny and informative.

Art VENN

Depending on your definition and your tastes, hitting the middle is hard work. With some seasoned and experienced creatives, that middle sweet spot is huge. With others, it may be a small sliver. As in any creative endeavour, I have to keep reminding myself that it's all subjective. What I think of art isn't necessarily the same as everyone else's definition.

As it stands, I swing wide in either direction. I'm trying to make that sweet spot bigger. I have my good days and bad days.

 

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Mr. Bob Ross

As a child, I was fascinated watching this man paint on the local PBS station. My siblings thought that I had lost my mind sitting there literally watching paint dry, but I thought differently.

Watching him create scenes out of thin air was magical. Hearing him explain why he put trees, mountains and happy little streams reinforced my belief in the power of my own imagination. YOU can create anything you want. YOU can arrange things any way you want. And YOU can choose to look any way you want (that was a bad-ass Afro man!). 

I can now stream his shows from Netflix! Happy, happy, happy! Joy, joy, joy!

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What Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson Meant to Me

Nothing Compares 2 U

Nothing Compares 2 U

Toiling away in my little office day in and day out has given me an appreciation for music. Without it, I think that accomplishing what I need to do would be a little more difficult. Music sets the mood - happy, sad, or something in between. Sets the tone, and more importantly, sets me up for a successful day of wrestling with the images in my head.

Music frees up the imagination as it evokes certain memories and emotions. I find it helps grease the rusty cogs and enables me to do what I need to do in a much more deliberate and efficient manner. Which is why the death of Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson has affected me much more than I would have anticipated.

As an unsure teenager, I came across a weird little album in the main branch of the Edmonton Public Library titled “Prince.” I borrowed the album and brought it home inside my big gym bag because (if I’m being honest) my teenage self was inexplicably uncomfortable with the rather forward gaze of the seemingly naked androgynous man on the front cover. The track “I Wanna Be Your Lover” reminded me of some of the upbeat pop/R&B/disco songs from Cool and the Gang and Earth Wind and Fire. I also thought that “I Feel For You” had an honesty that the later overly polished and produced Chaka Khan version lacked (although I still loved it). While the general feel of the songs reminded me of these other groups, they had a feel of their own. A signature. I was hooked.

Later albums with tracks titled “Head,” “Do Me, Baby,” “Jack U Off,” and the legendary “Darling Nikki” only cemented Princes’ place in the soundtrack of the uncontrolled raging hormone period of my life.

Later on in college, I was delighted to learn that some new artist named Sinead O’Connor had done a cover of Princes’ song "Nothing Compares 2 U." I sought out the album at the local record store (sounds weird saying that in these days of digital downloads) and eagerly brought it home for a listen. I was blown away with her interpretation. The words were the same, but this was something different. I had a new appreciation for Princes’ songwriting when truly phenomenal artists like Ms. O’Connor takes the basics and make the song truly their own. It was magic.

I admit that Princes’ albums after “Diamonds and Pearls” failed to register with me. In trying to establish the ‘adult’ phase of my life, I lost touch of Princes’ work. Until yesterday.

I was genuinely shocked when my wife told me that Prince had passed away. I guess I always expected him to be there. Looking back on it now, I didn’t realize how this stranger had affected me. This man that I’ve never met. It seems really shallow to just bring out that hackneyed expression ‘rest in peace’ when he did so much for me and others like me - people who were desperately trying to fit in. And along comes this dude. This dude, though small in stature, oozed self confidence. This dude didn’t care what other people thought of him. This dude was true to himself.

I hope all artists achieve some measure of this. I know sure as hell that he did.

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Digital Photography First Steps

While I've been happily shooting film for most of my life, I understood the need to jump into digital - the places where I usually get my film processed were disappearing. My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix S6 - a camera with one of the first implementations of a touchscreen and really iffy wifi connectivity.

The Nikon Coolpix S6 point-and-shoot. While it had no manual settings, it took excellent pictures - as long as you weren't indoors.

The Nikon Coolpix S6 point-and-shoot. While it had no manual settings, it took excellent pictures - as long as you weren't indoors.

It was purchased to serve as an introduction to digital photography for me as the little camera was more about style than substance. It was a six megapixel bundle of fun that was was small enough to put into my pocket, so it went with me everywhere. Walking around town. On vacation. To the local coffee shop. It was small, compact, and adequate for my needs at the time. It reminded me of the fun I used to have when my dad introduced me to photography with the Canon FTb. All that fun, without the hassle of limiting yourself to 24 or 36 exposures. More importantly, there was no waiting for processing, printing or scanning. I quickly reached its limitations and even managed to push the little camera beyond its capabilities through really heavy editing in Photoshop and Lightroom. I didn’t care though - I was having too much fun. Ten years ago, before the age of selfies and the ubiquitous smart phone, this camera was the most compact you could buy that offered reasonable image quality.

Images from the S6 were bright and punchy - I consistently had to tone them down in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Images from the S6 were bright and punchy - I consistently had to tone them down in Photoshop or Lightroom.

The cliché shot of the Porsche crest covered in and surrounded by water droplets.

The cliché shot of the Porsche crest covered in and surrounded by water droplets.

After reaching the limits of the little Coolpix, I decided to get a digital SLR - similar to the Canons of my past. In researching the DSLRs, I found them quite big, bulky and unwieldy. At this point, I was used to the compactness and the go-anywhere size of the point-and-shoot and since this was only my first foray into digital photography, I was reluctant to take the plunge without further research.

At this time (2009-2010) there was a lot of buzz in the photo industry about the new micro four thirds format (M43) being manufactured by both Olympus and Panasonic. Upon investigation, I fell in love with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2. While technically not a DSLR (more like a mirrorless camera that looked like a DSLR), It offered a reasonably compact physical format along with a bigger (than my point-and-shoot) sensor and the ability to change lenses. 

My first interchangeable lens digital camera (ILC) - the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 with the LUMIX G VARIO 14-42/F3.5-5.6 kit lens.

My first interchangeable lens digital camera (ILC) - the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 with the LUMIX G VARIO 14-42/F3.5-5.6 kit lens.

After the getting-to-know period, I decided to see what the little Panasonic was capable of and tested it on a more formalized photoshoot. I used my car as the subject and drove it to an underground parkade. 

The grunginess of the garage added to look of the car.

The grunginess of the garage added to look of the car.

A wider view with more grunge.

A wider view with more grunge.

The obligatory badge shot.

The obligatory badge shot.

Digital Photography - Blog Post

I was worried that the cropped sensor would be a handicap in really dim light, but I shoot mostly static objects and landscapes on a tripod, so I was quite happy with the results. I have since purchased a newer Olympus OMD-EM5 body, a few more lenses and am happily snapping away.

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Sign Painting Renaissance

As more and more people place greater and greater importance in a digital presence, remnants of the old ways of communicating begin to take on an appeal that’s hard to deny.  A case in point is the trade of hand-painted signs. One can argue that the heyday of hand-lettered signs was between the 1930’s through to the 1970’s. In this period, most forms of outdoor advertising was hand-done. The trade saw a steep decline in the 1980’s with the advent of cheap-and-fast digital vinyl lettering. The advances in desktop publishing and large format inkjet printers in the new millennium almost completely killed the trade. Almost.

Today, hand lettered signs are seeing a resurgence. Perhaps it’s the imperfect way that the typography is rendered that gives it a connection to the ‘human’ that created the forms in the first place. Perhaps it’s the realization of the immense skill involved in rendering the composition on the fly without the safety net of ‘undo’ and spellcheck (a requirement with me). Either way, the message is instantly removed from the cold, clinical look of most street-level advertisements cluttering our field of vision on a day-to-day basis. It’s has an appeal that connects to the public precisely because it’s slightly imprecise and unique. Not unlike the difference between the real and personal connection shared with friends in real life, as opposed to the cold and sterile interactions that we have online with our internet ‘friends.’

From the local coffee shops to the redevelopment of inner city properties…

I'm guessing this was done on a small scale and then scanned and enlarged to enhance the hand-done look.

I'm guessing this was done on a small scale and then scanned and enlarged to enhance the hand-done look.

Sign Samples
Sign Samples
Sign Samples
Sign Samples
Going back a ways - adverts on a refurbished barn in Inglewood.

Going back a ways - adverts on a refurbished barn in Inglewood.

A more recent example in Eau Claire.

A more recent example in Eau Claire.

This renaissance has inspired me back to one of my first loves - handwriting. Specifically, doodling out random phrases like the following.

Lewd & Crude
Filthy
Let's Get Dirty

They are just little doodles like the ones I used to draw on the edges of my notebooks during chemistry class in high school.

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Hoarding

Looking over my files, I’ve come to the realization that I hoard almost all of the previous versions of the files that I’m working on. I guess this stems from working with unreliable computers and storage systems.

In the past, I worked on various computer systems (Mac and PC). All hooked up to some form of external storage like SyQuest, ZIP or Jaz drive. These invariably used one weird connection scheme or another. Small Computer Serial Interface (SCSI) was especially evil. The Macs themselves were notoriously buggy with their mono-tasking, shared memory systems. One misbehaving app can and did take the whole system down. The point is, with this type of working environment, you really had to save and save often. It HAD to become a habit because if you lost what you were working on, you were royally screwed.

Which is why my job folders end up looking like this:

Each of those files average about 200 megabytes or more. A monumental waste of space on the local 500Gb hard drive. I can’t delete them. Too scared. I might need them. Someday. Maybe…



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Sketching Through the Holidays

The yearly trip back to see loved ones are invariably punctuated by periods of soul-crushing boredom as we all wait for the next 'exciting' thing to happen. Between family dinners and events, there are what I would call 'sketching opportunities.' Sometimes I would sit down and stare at a blank page. Sometimes nothing would come. Sometimes, without consciously bidding it, images like this would appear.

Troubled Sleep

Perhaps it's the gloomy cold winter weather exerting its effect on me.

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The Learning Process

When I first picked up a camera, I was amazed at what it could do. Back in the days of film, the process of image making required some forethought as the time lag between pressing the shutter button and actually seeing your image spans almost an eternity by today's standards. But there was magic. There was anticipation. There was both awe and disappointment as I eagerly awaited the little package containing my negatives and prints from the one hour lab (or even worse - the next day service). Leafing through the individual prints and assessing the results of my deliberate choices in camera settings, I anticipated the next time I would be faced with the same lighting situations and mentally deliberated what changes in settings I would make. It was awesome. I had control.

A lovely old Agfaflex film camera and lenses given to me by my father-in-law. The little box sprouting from the top of the body is a wind-up mechanical timer.

A lovely old Agfaflex film camera and lenses given to me by my father-in-law. The little box sprouting from the top of the body is a wind-up mechanical timer.

Along with the Agfaflex, my father-in-law also gave me his trusty Canon AE-1. Both cameras are in excellent, mechanically perfect condition and is used as often as I can find film (and more importantly, places where I can get them developed and printed).

Along with the Agfaflex, my father-in-law also gave me his trusty Canon AE-1. Both cameras are in excellent, mechanically perfect condition and is used as often as I can find film (and more importantly, places where I can get them developed and printed).

In art school, I learned to develop my own film and make my own prints. The variables expanded exponentially. It was bewildering. I soon realized that in the days before I had learned darkroom techniques, I was reliant upon machines to develop my film and make my prints. In essence, the machines and their operators had more control over my final images than I had. As I moved from film camera to film camera, then to digital, the process changed and yet remained the same. Remained the same in that all the basic controls were pretty much the same, changed in that the time lag between pressing the shutter button and reviewing the image had been obliterated. Also, as digital cameras became ever more sophisticated, it gave rise to the automatic settings and with it came the cursed, convoluted computer menu systems. It ruins the creative process when you have to dig really deep into the UI just to find a basic setting.

I don't fault camera manufacturers for stuffing ever more features into their increasingly sophisticated cameras, but it would seem that it's ceding control over the very things that make your images unique. Although, to be honest, most people will never move the dial on their fancy DSLRs from 'Auto' to 'Manual.'

This is exactly the reason why my digital camera is always on the fully manual setting. In maintaining complete control, you are given the opportunity to succeed in executing your creative vision as you see fit without any safety net. Conversely, you are also given the opportunity to fail and take blurry, incorrectly exposed and indecipherable pictures. This fear of failure is what makes photography so exciting. Without the limitations of pre-set exposures of 24 or 36 offered by film, plus the added benefit of absolutely no waiting time, no processing costs, and accelerated trial-and-error learning, digital photography offers an avenue for self-expression that I find exhilirating. This is why I'm continually looking for that elusive digital camera that has honest-to-goodness analog controls (controlling f-stop on the lens barrel and exposure compensation on a real dial instead of a hard-to-navigate computer menu), a simple viewfinder to review the image you just snapped, and a form factor similar to my dad's old beat up Canon Ftb or my father-in-law's Canon AE-1 (pictured in the above image).

Oh, it also has to be much less expensive than this all-manual digital camera. I can dream, can't I?

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Snow Day

The snow is flying in Calgary today. For some, time to hunker down and hibernate indoors. For others, a change of seasons represents a chance to indulge in a different set of activities outdoors. To enjoy and be inspired by our ever-changing seasons.

Get outdoors and enjoy the weather.

Get outdoors and enjoy the weather.

 

 

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Cars in my Neighbourhood

Saw this on my way to work this morning and it made me smile.

There's small. Then there's this little beauty.

There's small. Then there's this little beauty.

The Mk3 Mini Clubman Estate (or Austin Countryman/Morris Traveller) was already considered small with respect to its contemporaries when it was new in 1969 - 1980, but compared with what we consider as a ‘small car’ today (Smart ForTwo in front, Honda Civic behind), the difference is breathtaking.

Originally conceived by a small design team to utilize as much of its interior space for passengers and luggage, the Mini managed to transcend its original design and intended purpose and become a rally racing legend by beating cars that were bigger and more powerful. This success, coupled with the sales success of the street cars spawned a myriad of sub-models including this Clubman Estate. This demonstrates that even though the vehicle was essentially built to adhere to a limited specification, the original design was strong enough to jump into a totally unrelated function. A case for very good design. 

I can’t imagine what it would be like driving around in Calgary traffic surrounded by truly gigantic SUV’s in such a tiny car. Truly, that driver has nerves of steel. Tip of the hat and a ton of respect for the gearhead that chooses to drive this beautiful machine daily.

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The Daily José Redux

With the valiant effort by Canada’s Toronto Blue Jays baseball team now over and their superstar player’s name on the tips of everyone’s tongue - José Bautista - can I assume that my name will now be spelled correctly on my coffee cups from this time forward? I would hope not, for that would be a sad ending for The Daily José!

Without further ado, let's go to the archives!

OJ sounds phonetically close to José.

OJ sounds phonetically close to José.

I think they just plain gave up here. Or I took someone else's coffee.

I think they just plain gave up here. Or I took someone else's coffee.

Interesting...

Interesting...

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Finding Inspiration

It seems laughable that Hollywood continues to perpetuate the stereotype of the lone, tortured artist working away in a (big and expensive) studio loft apartment in a trendy part of the big city with only his muse for company. The fact of the matter is, most artists I know take their inspiration wherever they can get it. Nature, their loved ones or everyday events. The headline image above is the usual scenario for me: a cup of coffee, a few old-school drafting pencils and one of my many trusty, beat-up Moleskine sketchbooks in a quiet corner of some coffee shop somewhere. Could be a local mom-and-pop shop or one of the big chains. It doesn’t matter. Once I get into a sketch, I’m usually lost for hours.

The simple fact that most of my illustrations start as snippets of ideas that are eventually cobbled together in digital form gives me great satisfaction. From an idea in my head, to a finished, printed piece in my hand.

Truthfully though, my illustration ideas rarely, if ever, turn out the way I pictured them in my head. The process of resolving an image changes the original idea - distills it. I also embrace the many happy little ‘accidents’ or ‘mistakes’ that happens during the process so that in the end, it becomes new and surprising. At least to me.

The three sketches below took up two solid hours in a coffee shop in a small Alberta town. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with these.
Finding Inspiration
Finding Inspiration
Finding Inspiration

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