Saturday, March 31, 2007

It's so often such a tough choice, isn't it? Cook or eat out? Hmmmm.....

If you haven't seen "The Host" yet, save your money. Rent it. Download it. Whatever. Don't spend good "big screen" money on it.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Jesus, Tony Soprano, and Alberto Gonzales - there's gotta be a connection there somewhere, doesn't there? Having the Statue of Liberty in the background of a portrait of a thug is a nice touch, isn't it?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kinda breaks your heart, doesn't it? Poor little guy, standing there all alone. Quick, somebody - a match!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

For my next career, I want to get into precision hedge trimming. These are at least 8 feet tall. Who does this stuff?

Speaking of which, I think it's time for a hair cut.

And, O.K., maybe I was a little hard on my poor old 18-200. Yeah, there's a lot of distortion - it's a zoom lens - what was I expecting? But it's pretty darn sharp and you've really got to love VR. I did some "test" shots (sitting on my couch, shooting my bookshelves illuminated by a 60 watt standard bulb - fancy, huh?) and was able to get reasonably sharp photos at 1/8 sec. at 200mm (300mm in 35mm terms). You're not supposed to be able to do that. You can't do that, handheld, without VR. So, I'm just going to have to work with it, and get used to its unique "charms".

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I have no idea what this thing is supposed to do. I'm guessing that it's a radar reflector, letting ships out in the Georgia Strait know that, despite the way it looks, there really is land nearby.

On a more tragic note, I'm not sure that the 18-200 is the swell lens it's supposed to be. I suppose I should have known, really. Zoom lenses suck. Sure it's sharp. And, yes, the vibration reduction is swell. But the distortion is cutting very close to unbearable. Back when I used to sell cameras, I knew this. Prime lenses were always, always, always better. I had a 24/2.8 that I'd kill to have in digital (except that it'd be a 16/2.8). At 18mm the 18-200 has enough pincushion distortion that you're afraid the subject is about to explode. At 200mm it's the other way - implosion! But, this seems to be the way of the digital age - zooms dominate, even though they're crap ('Cause they're convenient. And, well, let's face it, the 18-200 is, in a weird way, cheap. I'm pretty sure the 80-200/2.8 - which is definitely not cheap - is just fine). And they're sooooooooooo slow!

Full photographic happiness is so elusive.

Oh, well. I'm sure I'll come to love it................eventually. And (phew!), I can always fall back on my 60/2.8. Now that's a beautiful lens.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ah, the things you notice while killing time waiting for a bus.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Isn't it nice to let someone else do the work for you?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Which reminds me - it's about that time again.

Friday, March 23, 2007

And speaking of heat, isn't it wonderful reading the front page of the New York Times and seeing the Bush dreamland coming apart at the seams? Krazy Karl might be forced to testify in what looks an awful lot like tampering with the justice system, one of Bush's pals who was close pals with Jack Abramoff is off to jail, and, last but not least, Congress has voted to get the U.S. out of Iraq by September 2008. Now, this last one is not, unfortunately, as big a win as some folks might think. For Iraqis, it's going to be disastrous - at least for a while - and, for America, well, it might turn out to be not altogether good either. I'm not sure it's realistic to expect to be able to go into a country, completely ruin it, kill tens of thousands of its citizens, and then just walk away saying, "Oops. Sorry."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Christmas came a little early today - my shiny new 18-200 VR came. Now, if only the weather around here would improve enough to take it out for some shake-free shooting.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Back in the grad school days, I "worked" as a field assistant for a friend of mine doing some studies over on Vancouver Island. The settings were rural and we often saw homes and farms for sale. Most of them had an addition to the typical "For Sale" sign that read, "Plenty of RV Parking". Being a couple of city folk, this always cracked us up. Imagine my surprise, then, to find this little scene in downtown New Westminster.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Well, I'm a disgrace to my country. I showed this picture to someone and they said, "Oh, how appropriate - the NHL play-offs are just about to start." I had no idea. I lost interest in hockey as soon as I didn't need "Hockey Night in Canada" as an excuse to stay up past my normal bedtime. That was a looooonnnnnnggggggg time ago. To further erode my status as a loyal Canadian, I don't like beer!

Oh, and more heresy - "The Prestige" isn't worth your time. Good actors wasted on a dumb story. Unlike "The Illusionist", in which everything that happened was at least theoretically possible (i.e. no breaking of the laws of physics or, for that matter, history), "The Prestige" relies on both for its wrap-up. Did Nikola Tesla ever invent a machine that could make exact duplicates of real-world objects (including people)? Nope. Is such a thing possible? Maybe, but no one's anywhere near close. So, the entire story collapses on the impossibility of Hugh Jackman's character running off endless copies of himself (each copy subsequently murdered) in order to lure his rival into a situation in which he'll be mistaken for a murderer. The film's writer and director either forgot (or, more likely, are totally ignorant of) the rule that you can't come to the end of a complex story - even when the story itself is about magic - and go, "Ta-da! The explanation of it all!"

Monday, March 19, 2007

Nothing like dinner with your former flame to bring an otherwise dull day to a rosy conclusion (provided, of course, you both still get along - which we do).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Now, that's deluxe accomodation, isn't it? It is if you've got no other place to go. If you're terminally umemployed for one reason or another. Trouble is, the Olympics are coming to town, and cheap joints like this are being rapidly converted to accomodations suitable for our future out-of-town guests. The poor will just have to find someplace else to stay. The question of "where?", of course, hasn't actually been addressed. Beyond, I suppose, "Anywhere but here!", that is.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to do a little time travelling, go get Orson Welles's "A Touch of Evil". Two good reasons. One, it's a great movie. Welles was one hell of a film maker (and a darn fine actor, too). He ended his life as a joke, but that wasn't entirely his fault. Two, the notion of "evil" has definitely changed. Imagine the scenes with Janet Leigh and the bad guys today. Things have definitely not gotten better.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Finally got to see "The Queen". Oooooohhh, so that's why Helen Mirren got the Oscar.

What do you think Elizabeth's diary would be worth on the open market? Imagine taking on her job at 26. Not to mention her life. Rich enough to do anything she wants, except for the fact that she's tied up in protocol and formality and can't make a move that doesn't conform. Yikes. She deserves an Oscar, too.

Friday, March 16, 2007

And this is New Westminster. On the far right of the photo is the parking garage I mentioned the other day. The "dust spots" in the sky are pigeons.

Now, the observant out there will have noticed a new link over there on the right hand side of the page. Don't click on it! Not unless you've got some extra cash you've been wondering what to do with because, once you start reading the essays on the site, and looking at the "how-to" articles, you're going to develop a powerful urge to go out and blow a bunch of money on lighting equipment. Not necessarily a big "bunch" (the site's author is very large on the concept of cheap), but, with caution. It's great stuff.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pretty darn convenient, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Another spring milestone was reached today - after work drinks downed while basking in glorious sunshine. I'm not sure, however, that this is a good thing - for me, at least. I'm already on vacation. The rapid approach of genuine spring only means that a return to reality is fast approaching.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another bit of the urban landscape that'll soon be gone. The street these buildings face runs along underneath a parkade, so it's got a touch of the catacomb about it. The street itself is mainly a by-pass for large trucks trying to avoid the main street that's just up the hill. Running beside the trucks are railroad tracks. And, beside these, eventually, is the Fraser River. So, what you're looking at here is the old waterfront part of a small town (now just another part of Vancouver) called New Westminster. People gave optimistic names to their new towns 'way back when, didn't they?

Speaking of things that will soon (with any luck) disappear, here's one of the niftiest uses of DNA profiling. Maybe it won't be too long before no one ever has to hear anything as stupid as, "Oh, your skin colour is _____, you must ________". I don't know about you, but I can't wait.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for something to read, go get "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith. Yeah, the title's a little "precious", but the book is very, very good.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sometimes change is abrupt, isn't it?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Oh, so many applicable issues, and only one poor photograph. It's just not fair.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

So, there I was, waiting for a bus...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Actually, tonight it's been "81/2" - Federico Fellini's famous movie. Excellent. All about the frustrations of art - in this case, obviously, film-making. How tough it is to get things right and how painful it is to watch things go inevitably wrong, despite one's best efforts. Which, I suppose, Fellini was also using as a commentary on life in general. In the end, though, it's worth all the effort and frustration. If you haven't ever seen this movie, or it's been a while, go get it.

And, if you're a Woody Allen fan, this is the movie "Stardust Memories" is an homage to.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weird how it's so often the back alleys that are the most colourful part of town.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Good thing everyone's going "green", huh?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wandering home from work today (actually I'm on vacation, but...), taking pictures as I went, I remembered one of the reasons I like photography so much. It's a great way to get lost. In the process, that is. When I'm really looking, and thinking about the picture, everything else disappears - traffic noise, surroundings other than those important to the picture, thoughts of anything else...gone. It's a nice little interlude.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Just finished "White Teeth", by Zadie Smith (yes, I'm slow to pick up on new, real good writers, O.K.? Thank heaven I have literate friends.), and, if you haven't read it, you really ought to. Darn fine book. And just a tad prescient, all things considered. Go buy it, read it, and you'll get my point. Not that that's the main reason to read it. Smith's an excellent writer.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Just makes you want to drop on in and buy a shovel, doesn't it?

I finally made it to the Fred Herzog show at the Vancouver Art Gallery today. If you live within any sort of decent driving distance of Vancouver, you really ought to make the trip. The photographs on exhibit are mainly "street photography" in style, but done with Kodachrome. When was the last time you saw Kodachrome used for street photography? How about "never". The colours are lush, the moments are decisive. What more could you want? Me? I want a spare few thousand dollars so I could afford to buy a couple of his prints.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

If you haven't seen "Chinatown" lately (I say "lately" because I know you've seen it at least once), you really need to see it again. It's an amazing movie. John Huston, as the very rich Mr. Cross, exudes evil from every pore. Jack Nicholson, only just becoming famous, hasn't yet become "Jack Nicholson", so he's actually acting, and doing a damn fine job of it. And Faye Dunaway is porcelain perfect and just as fragile. Last, Roman Polanski is one heck of a director. This is a movie that will, assuming a suitable medium can be found for its preservation, continue to be watched for decades to come.

Friday, March 02, 2007

So, over the past week or so, there's been a lot of discussion on various photography blogs about "meaning" in photography (possibly inspired by the meaningless photographs of Jeff Wall). Art (or, perhaps, "art") seems to attract this kind of analysis and it can get fairly heated. I'm not really sure why this is, but maybe, just maybe, it's because people are more fond of certainty than uncertainty. People like things to have meaning. Actually, it's not just "meaning" that they seem to want, but a meaning, a correct meaning. In this instance, what did the photographer intend when he or she took the photograph? What should the photograph mean to the viewer?

But, there isn't such a thing as a "correct" meaning. What I saw when I took the above photograph (or any of the preceding photographs) is almost undoubtedly not what a viewer might see. What I get from looking at other people's photographs might be worlds away from what they felt when they took their photograph. And, just to add to the confusion, what I see when I take a photograph isn't necessarily what I see later when I process that photograph, and I'll bet I'm not the only photographer who's had that happen. So, which meaning is correct in a case like that? The one the picture had when I took it, or the one it had when I looked at it later?

Art inspires an awful lot of air.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I'm sure there's something meaningful about a photograph of a door without a doorknob, but danged if I know what it is.