Archives: “photographica”

He has his mother’s sense of humour

Me: Hey, let’s get a card for mommy.
The Boy: Sure!
Me: Okay, you pick one.
The Boy: (grabbing a card) Daddy, this one!
Me: ….

Hooray for Spring



Go this way

Pointing Hand, part of the Croft Street wall mural

Shadowy Geese


Michael Snow’s Canadian Geese, probably one of the most photographed pieces of public art in Canada. Every time I see this and the inevitable small group of tourists taking photos of it I can’t help but think of an excerpt from Don Delillo’s novel White Noise.

Here’s the excerpt. I normally don’t dump a large section from a novel into a post, and maybe you already know it well, but it’s so awesome it’s worth repeating. I’ve been thinking about it a lot these days.

Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the sign started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides — pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.

A long silence followed.

“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

» Shadowy Geese continues...

A powdering of snow

Pimp my Nikon D50

Nikon D50I just picked up an early Christmas present for myself. I bought a new camera: the Nikon D50.

I thought long and hard about this decision. I’m no great photographer by any stretch, and I’d like to improve my skills and develop photography into more than the occasional habit that it is right now for me. In my mind a big part of this means learning how to actually control the light that enters the camera. This means moving past the digital point-and-shoots that I’ve relied on for the past few years and buying a true SLR camera.

» Pimp my Nikon D50 continues...

Autumn in High Park

I absolutely love the fact that literally right outside of my front door is High Park. Living in this area, especially in the fall, makes life in the city feel like one long, uplifting sonata or a pair of fuzzy, warm slippers.

On the way to do some grocery shopping, I took a detour through the park to try and capture some of the autumn colours before they were gone for good. Check out the Flickr set.


Creeping vines on a building in the Ryerson Campus.

Five things I wish I knew before the day started

  1. That scouring the city for an air conditioner would make me very grumpy.
  2. That getting the last window air conditioner available at Costco would almost precipitate a fist fight with a large, very sweaty and hairy man.
  3. That attempting to install a window air conditioner in +34° temperatures (+42° with the humidity) would leave me feeling woozy and dizzy.
  4. That window air conditioners often require wood shims underneath (less it fall on top of unsuspecting people below) that are very difficult to find in High Park and often mean negotiating with large, very sweaty and hairy men at lumberyards.
  5. That after three hours of struggling and cursing it turns out that air conditioners cannot be installed on side slider windows.

All I can say is: crap.

late night stream of consciousness

i was having a dream last week about chris martins from coldplay. he was giving me a rather vigorous massage while weaving this convoluted and rather dull story about sexual conquests in the upper quarry of brazil. i have absolute no idea if there is such a place as the upper quarry of brazil, but that’s what the guy said and you gotta take the brits at their word, don’t you? for some reason stephen chow was there, frowning rather disapprovingly at the spectacle while teaching harry dean anderson the finer points of oyster shucking.

i often have dreams involving famous people. i don’t know if admitting this leaves me just one or two steps away from a life of pure cliché, but what the hell. at any rate, it’s late and i’ve decided i don’t like capitalization any more. well, at least right now, until i get a that dream job redesigning the lcbo nhl abc ibm etc. web site.

it’s been incredibly hot and muggy here. so hot that you start to feel like your brain has evaporated itself into an extended steamy vacation, and nothing but pure bullshit comes gushing out of your mouth in unstoppable waves. i would say that this post fits into that category (which normally mean that it gets regulated into the draft bin for an eternity) but i don’t care, and i’m sick of looking at the previous post. that’s why you subscribe to the feed for this site anyway, right?

okay, enough of that. to make up for this waste of your precious seconds and minutes, here’s a photo of a mace flower i took at the jardin botanique de montréal:


(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

College Flower

(with apologies to e.e. cummings)

Off I go to Winnipeg for a visit, Prairie spring weather, clean air, and some perogi. Have fun while I’m away.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

(but inside it’s warm, baby)

Coming back home always feels a bit strange, though the wind chill and my shivering, ice-cold kneecaps has helped take my attention away from such thoughts. To quote the inimitable Mssr. Waits, it’s colder than a well digger’s ass.

Fucking inhuman “exposed-skin-freezes-in-seconds” weather aside, it’s nice to be back. I’ve missed basking in the glow of my friends’ and family’s brilliance. I’ve always felt that the perfect city for me would be one where I could slum with my beautiful kith and kin whenever I wanted, while still being able to indulge in the art / music / culture / humanity that is cities like Toronto and MontrĂ©al. You can’t have it all, I suppose.

Homecomings are a strange beast. For one thing, the run-up to the holidays causes Winnipeg’s population to swell by at least a few hundred thousand people, as hordes of expats flood back into the city. Excursions out to the King’s Head pub are half joyous reunions with old friends, and half “hey, isn’t that…” as one recognizes long-lost Winnipeggers, back from far-flung locales to get their annual fix of family and festivities.

Returning home is like time is being folded. You seemingly joins the moment you last left and the moment you returned, and all of the time you were away steps back into the shadows and disappears.

I suppose that’s the small tragedy I feel every time I return to Winnipeg. Even though it seems as if all of my time away somehow vanishes when I step off of the plane, there’s this gap in each of our personal histories. The people I love have changed, have lived through life’s small victories and defeats, and I’ve missed it all. And yet it feels like it once was…

But, this is what warm evenings indoors with friends and families are for: unravelling our histories and sharing ourselves with those we’ve missed. I, for one, am thankful that I am fortunate to have many who have been missed dearly, and whose stories I hold on to every word.

Happy holidays, folks. I hope you’re spending time with your favourite troubadours.

the heart is an organ of fire


Our neighbourhood is absolutely gorgeous at this time of year.

Note: If you ever see an image on this site with a frame (like the above image), that means you can click on it to view a larger version. Maybe this is obvious, but some people have emailed who didn’t know this, so I figured I’d mention it.

Check the Photographica archives for more things you can click on.

Moment of Clarity


When things are going well, it opens up time to think about the deeper issues. These are the things that the white noise of everyday existence overpowers and pushes into the background. For me, this opening is brought on by the potent mix of Autumn (season of quiet contemplation and change), and of finally being in a place where I can just be.

The proximity of trees can’t hurt, either.

For me, one thing that grates on my conscious is the fact that I don’t contribute “back to society” as much as I’d like. Sure, I donate to the usual suspects (Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, the local Humane Society, Cancer / AIDS / Diabetes research, etc.), but that doesn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. The money goes away somewhere and I have absolutely no idea what it’s used for.


Here’s the thing: I’ve always believed that people generally want to help others. The problem is that people don’t know how to help. They have no idea what the time or energy commitments might be, and I believe there is an air of suspicion surrounding giving:

Oh, they’ll just use that change to buy drugs.

Most of the money I’ll donate will go towards administration - it’s all corrupt, anyway, so why line the pockets of the bureaucrats?

For me, this low-level guilt is augmented by the fact that I work with computers and the Web, which more often than not means that the work I do is directly, or indirectly related to business. The area that I’m working these days is crawling with web-types; it’s all talk about deliverables and monetization and bottom-line residuals. People either want to be where the money is, or are already there and want to stay where they are.

It all leaves me feeling cold. There has to be a better way to do what I enjoy, while still feeling like I’m not contributing to something that in the end is completely meaningless. Really, who gives a shit if some person has turn-key access to top-tier content and just-in-time rich media?

I’ve reached a point where I need to feel like what I’m doing is leaving the world in a better place than before I started, and this includes my career. So the question then is, how can I do this while maintaining a reasonably humble lifestyle?

Do No Evil, as Google espouses, isn’t enough; the connotation is it’s okay to do nothing. You have to Do Good.

Once more, around the bend

autumn tree

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest, And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe; And all the daughters of the year shall dance! Sing now the lusty song of fruit and flowers.

~ William Blake

My favourite season comes but once a year.

Snow in May #2

This is the second time in three years.

Snow         snow

The storm started as a rain-snow mix in Southern Alberta overnight but is expected to turn into a full-fledged winter storm today. Between 15 and 25 centimetres is forecast for parts of Southern Aberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

All I can say is feh.

Sometimes It’s Winter


It Begins…


l’automne, c’est la saison pour moi

fall shot fall shot fall shot

Fall in Winnipeg comes abruptly, and like a gust of cool wind through an open window the chill is delicious, prickly, revitalizing. Fall is undoubtedly my favourite season, if only for the fact that everyone starts wearing all of the cool fashions that they've hiddem away during the sweltering summer.

It's no surprise that most of my life's major decisions (quitting bands / jobs / bad relationships, moving away from Winnipeg, moving in with my girlfriend, getting a real life) were made in the fall. The coolness of the season seems to give the brain some breathing room and space to allow decisions to expand, exhale, and spread into the deepest crannies.

The leaves seemed to change so quickly this year. One moment the whole world is green and alive, and in the next the streets are littered with a thousand corpses, puddles running red with the blood of summer's best intentions.

Golden Brown

fall shot fall shot fall shot

I'm just getting over a totally brutal flu - no delirious hallucinations, drooling mania, or weeping mother dabbing a damp cloth at my feverish brow, but sick all the same. Of course, this happens just as Winnipeg goes through a rather unseasonal heat wave (+28 degrees for the past three days). Suh-eye.

Picnic Triad

Taken near the Skinner's Wet 'n' Wild Foot-long Hotdog stand

The Provencher Bridge

Provencher BridgeI'm not sure how interesting this will be to most of you, but I've been a bit fascinated with a construction project going on here in Winnipeg. The city has been building a replacement for the aging Provencher bridge, and it looks pretty interesting. The bridge joins the city with the old French quarter, Saint-Boniface, which is home to the largest population of francophones in Canada outside of Quebec.

The cable-supported spire structure will be a pedestrian bridge, which will accompany and augment the existing vehicle bridge. Apparently there will be some kind of commercial presence on the pedestrian bridge, though I have no idea how they're going to implement it. Strangely, there used to be a creperie halfway across the old bridge - don't ask me why. I hope they move it over to the pedestrian bridge. You never know when you're going to need a crepe.

So, put on some La Boutine Souriante (a French-Canadian music group that I couldn't find a URL for) and check out the Provencher Bridge photos.

There's also a few bonus photos of some Winnipeg Exchange buildings I took today that I tossed in, including two shots of my favourite, the famous Nutty Club building. It's smackdab in the middle of the Winnipeg financial district. How fitting. If you like these, there's more like them in the first set of Exchange photos.

The Exchange (part of a series)

doorI'm finished. I plowed through and completed all of my marking, and recorded final grades for all of my classes. My first year as a teacher is over, and, starting very soon, my summer vacation will begin. Can you see me dancing?

To celebrate the return of that completely foreign concept over the past ten months known as "personal time", on the way home I shot some photos of the area that the campus is located in, called The Exchange District.

I think this will be the beginning of a series, as the Exchange is teeming with photographic opportunities. Unlike Toronto and some of the other larger cities that have torn down a lot of their older architecture, Winnipeg has maintained the Exchange in much the same way it looked over a hundred years ago. This is one of the major reasons why film companies shoot here so often (like the currently in production Jennifer Lopez / Richard Gere movie, Shall We Dance) - it's fairly easy to make the area look like Chicago, or recreate some turn-of-the-century city.

Go and check them out. It's not much, but it's a start... and it's good to get back to shooting.

Designers and their Pets

rajEmma.jpgContinuing the vein of photographs somewhat related to me, I recently added a photo of my cats to Orca Girl's Animals & their Designers. Send in your favourite animal buddy, too!

My favourite pet photos are probably Todd Dominey's Burger, or nate's cat Jenny. Two fine tabbies.

Pet owners should not be allowed to dress up their pets. Ever.


broken wing

I don't know what it is, but it seems like everyone I know is smack dab in the middle of a period of transition.

Friends and family are contemplating new jobs, new homes, new loves, and new lives. People that have worked in The Industry since the web was a place where anything could happen (and did) have decided that they can no longer wring a life from it. Longtime couples have gone their separate ways, leaving behind acrimonious feelings and disappointment. And new lives and new families have been sowed, providing hope, life, and long, sleepless nights.

With all of this, and that is going on in the world, I have found myself feeling more and more introspective. I think about the fact that I will be turning 33 this year; no major milestone, but somehow still a number that brings with it a perceptible weight.

I think about mortality a lot these days.

» Stages continues...

No sleep for the guilty

Lomoized Springtime

Another end of term flops its way past the finish line, and I am once again up to my eyebrows in marking. The strange thing this time around is that the overall student stress level seems much lower than last term.

I can't figure out if this is because everyone (including myself) has prepared themselves for this, or if the grinding workload has pushed everyone past the point of caring; are we now creative automatons, spitting out work to the relentless beat of deadlines?

I would love to write more about my experiences as a teacher, but I can't. Being a spectator and a part of this mass of emotions and personality and intelligence that is my students has been constantly inspiring. Keeping a daily journal has been almost effortless.

And yet my students and the administration know about this site. I have better things to do with my time than deal with any potential fallout from my observations. Web site be damned; it's just easier.

An old acquaintance was in town visiting last week from The East, and it's always refreshing to reconnect with someone I haven't seen in a long, long time. I'm convinced that there's something magical about certain friendships -- how there can be years between visits, and yet the thread is picked up so effortlessly that it is like they never left.

It's spring here. The sidewalks have become one giant, swampy mess, and pedestrians tread carefully, avoiding the deep, slippery puddles strewn everywhere.

Cat and Mouse

Raj 'n Mouse

Montreal Photos

They're probably not the most exciting photos in the world (and I've posted almost all of them, so friends can see them), but I've finally gotten around to posting my vacation photos from Montreal.

What you'll get to see: lots of Montreal architecture, photos of a few of my Montreal friends, an evening at Le Jardin Tiki, and other various touristy stuff. The photos were taken by both myself and my friend Paul, who gallivanted around town with me for most of the trip. If that sounds interesting to you, go check them out.

One strange thing I noticed is that the focus is soft in most of them. I think this is because of the multiple trips my digital camera made through airport x-ray machines, but I'm not sure. At any rate, enjoy.

Cat Vee at 33° Celsius

catveeS.jpgIt is hot. The heat is so muggy and tacky and completely bewildering it's difficult to do anything but slouch on the futon and have mental arguments with oneself. About what? Such things as the plusses and minuses of rushing out to buy a portable air conditioner (even though we can't afford it, and besides, this weather won't last forever, and it's a sucky, wimp-ass thing to do) - important, meaningful arguments.

To make matters worse, the infamous Prairie mosquito season is upon us with avengence. Renée and I tried walking down to the local gelati joint last night, and after a mere hour outside I was literally engulfed in loonie-sized mosquito bites. We beat a hasty retreat back to the sauna-like (but mosquito-free!) confines of the apartment, where the cats were well-nigh swooning in the heat. I sprayed them with the watter bottle and swear I heard them squawk "hallelujah!"

So, on this Canada Day weekend, it's hot (45° Celsius with the humidity factored in), during the day, and encephalitis-carrying, nunchuck-wielding killer mosquitos at night. Here's hoping you're comfortable and bite-free - happy birthday, everyone.

Ice. Snow. Pool. Shower.

The Ex

theEx.jpg Okay, I posted three more iPhoto movies in the Photos section of a visit to the Red River Exhibition that me, my brother and my nephew made. Nothing spectacular photography-wise - just a weekend family outing and that's that - but you may find it interesting.

One thing's for sure: if the overwhelming presence of Scooby-Doo dolls as prizes was any indicator, the Scooby Doo movie is going to be huge. They were everywhere.

(Oh, and a photography tip: never take a bunch of photos without checking the white point setting of your camera first. I had mine set to "interior", and spent a very long time colour-correcting these to get rid of an infernal bluish-magenta cast. Sigh.)

New (old) Photos posted

With some embarrassment at how long it's taken me to get these up on the site, I present the final selection of images from my Europe trip. This set covers part two of Barcelona, plus a few shots from the French village of Annecy.

There's something wrong with my scanner and a bunch of the images scanned with rather soft focus. That, or it's time to buy a new scanner. Plus I left these two rolls sitting in the fridge forever, so they printed rather badly. and the colours were hellish to try and correct. At least they're up, and I can stop resting on the laurels of old vacations and start planning a new one... at any rate, Go and take a peek.

Photos updated: Gaudi is my god

The photos section has been (finally!) updated with more photos from a trip to Europe that Renée and I took last year. This update: part one of two from Barcelona. Enjoy!

Photos Updated

Photos updated today (slightly) with more shots from Giverny and Monet's Garden, in honour of Monet's birthday yesterday. Enjoy!


Today is Claude Monet's birthday. I've never been a huge fan of Monet, but thinking about him does make me feel all warm and jiggly inside.

When Renée and I were in France, we spent a day in Giverny, at Monet's Garden... site of his home, and the inspiration for many of his best know paintings.

As we expected, the place was crawling with old people, consisting mostly of loud, crabby Americans. Still, it was a quiet, peaceful day; the perfect counterpoint to the previous four days in wild, swinging Paris. And yes... it was romantic.

Perhaps those old folks were onto something... or perhaps I'm just old.

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