January 31, 2010

WinterCity 2010: Cosmogonia (Jan 30 2010)

France's Compagnie Les Passagers made an appearance at WinterCity to present "Cosmogonia," an aerial dance inspired by the book of Genesis.

Click this post's title to see all 33 photos at my Flickr site.

WinterCity 2010: The Cube (Jan 30 2010)

Toronto street artist Peter Jarvis is probably best known to most Torontonians as Silver Elvis. At WinterCity, however, he showcased one of his other performances: The Cube.

Click this post's title to see all 15 photos at my Flickr site.

Picky Strategy

Even though I planned to shoot one event at WinterCity yesterday evening, I ended up photographing two of them, along with a few “practice” shots. In reality, there were a few events I could have photographed, ranging from the skating party to the performances of the Flaming Lotus Girls. However, I deliberately decided to concentrate on two of these events as opposed to spreading myself thin for the sake of quantity.

One of my reasons for doing this was the cold weather. Mind you, I had a new pair of gloves; along with my good old Hot Paws, they helped me keep my hands warm and shoot dexterously. Even with those facts, the chill can still get to you when you’re not at one of the warming stations. My other reason for this strategy was the desire for optimal positioning. As I found out the hard way at Faber Drive’s Cavalcade Of Lights concert, if you’re not in optimal proximity to the event, you might as well not take any photos. This ultimately depends on the lens you’re using, but don’t forget that my main lens is a 50mm prime. As a result, I’m forced to zoom with my feet.

The majority of people crowded around the events right before they began. If I followed this crowd, I might have photographed more events, but the resulting shots would have been from lackluster viewpoints. I instead found out where the shows were set up so that I could better position myself before they started, thus leaving the spectating to the spectators.

I don’t mind giving my cameras a break, but I prefer to make this decision before I leave home.

January 30, 2010

Beautiful Accident

Before I go on a photo shoot, I always take one shot in order to check that everything is working as it should. There is value in this process; for example, I've previously discovered that I had forgotten to insert the memory card after charging the battery. I can't imagine the shock of finding out that I had forgotten one of my most important tools after arriving at my location.

Before going to WinterCity earlier this evening, I took my usual test shot. Here it is below.

Beautiful Accident

I forgot to put the shot into focus before hitting the shutter button. Thank God for that; the blurriness is what made me elevate this photo to "keeper" status.

For the record, I tried reproducing this shot, but I ended up deleting these attempts. They may have been beautiful, but they definitely weren't accidents.

January 28, 2010

Jian Ghomeshi Interview At Ryerson University (Jan 27 2010)

Radio host Jian Ghomeshi showcased his intelligence and gregariousness in his interview at Ryerson University.

Click this post's title to see all 30 photos at my Flickr site.


Yesterday evening, I had the good fortune of listening to an interview with radio host and former Moxy Früvous member Jian Ghomeshi. His intelligence and gregariousness made for a memorable experience, along with the fact that he and his interviewer were perfect foils for each other. Much like my encounter with Jully Black, the good times didn’t stop when the actual event was over.

Thinking that I should snap a shot of the night’s interviewee, I got in line and waited for my turn. Before I got to the front, Mr. Ghomeshi looked at me and asked, “Are you the tweeter?” I was a bit surprised at this turn of events, but the truth is that I shouldn’t have been. Earlier in the day, I uploaded two pictures to TwitPic featuring my planned outfit for this event. My rationale was that if any of my Twitter followers recognized me, they could say hello and strike up a conversation. Obviously, I was hoping for success, but I never thought that my technique would have worked like this. Then again, tweeting my intentions using Jian’s Twitter name might have helped a little bit

After a brief conversation, I asked if he’d mind if I took a shot of him. He suggested that I should be in the shot with him; I declined at first, but he (wisely) insisted. Here is the resulting shot, taken by a fellow interview attendee.

As you can see, I should have adjusted my Kangol hat and my disposition, but at least my shirt looked fresh. I wasn't the only one who thought so. ;-)

*EDIT on Jan 29, 2010 at 12:20 a.m.* The above photo was taken by Allan, who has also written his impressions of Jian's interview.

January 27, 2010

Indignation Vs. Privacy

Last year, I had an incident where a former photography teacher attempted to draw me into a debate about taking photographs without permission. Immediately after this event, I stopped taking pictures of people sleeping on public transit. Also, I’ve become much more careful about taking pictures at public events.

Needless to say, I find the recent brouhaha caused by this photo of a sleeping TTC worker very interesting. George Robitaille, the worker in the photo, obviously couldn’t ask that the photo not be taken. Regardless, he has become the lightning rod for transit users’ discontent with the TTC. In light of the recent fare hike and the bad disposition of some employees, this is not a surprise. However, it seems as if George’s right to privacy has taken a back seat to our right to use him as a whipping boy. None of the stories I’ve heard or seen about this photograph have even mentioned the privacy issue. The situation isn’t much better on the photo’s TwitPic page; only two users mentioned personal rights in their comments. Having said that, both of them made fair points.

In light of my aforementioned experience, I likely would not take a photo of a sleeping TTC worker if I saw one. Given how I handled my “debate” with the former photography teacher, I don’t think I’d be prepared for the ensuing privacy questions. Then again, since they’ve taken a backseat to customer indignation in George’s situation, I’d probably have nothing to worry about.

January 26, 2010

Increasing The Dot

As I said in my last post, I attended ING Direct’s Meet and Tweet last Thursday evening. Despite initially feeling overwhelmed due to being surrounded by strangers, disaster was definitely averted. Besides having a few new followers for my Twitter page, I also have a reconnection with a former high school classmate whom I had not seen in twelve years. Initially, I couldn’t understand his introduction, but when he pointed at his name tag, no more words were necessary.

I don’t expect this to happen at the next event I’ve signed up for, but it wouldn’t hurt. Dinnerworks is hosting a launch party at the Ultra Supper Club, where it will officially change its name to The Works. Given the environment and the type of people who will likely be in attendance, the stakes are higher for this gathering. In other words, I will either confidently break the ice with strangers or spend a few hours playing the wallflower.

As for my camera gear, it will once again stay home (apart from Old Faithful, but this is by no means guaranteed). Having said that, WinterCity is fast approaching; I’m already making plans to shoot a few of the events at Nathan Phillips Square. Seeing that this is a photoblog, I can’t talk about my socializing efforts forever…

January 18, 2010

Falling Slowly

Lately, it’s been slow here at He Shoots… I haven’t lost my will to take photographs; it’s just that there haven’t been too many events which I thought I could photograph. Worse, last year’s subway incident has made me even more hesitant in photographing events with strangers in attendance. However, weather permitting, I’m pretty sure that one of my next shoots will be the Bloor-Yorkville Ice Fest next month.

This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out and about; au contraire, thanks to my Digital Cleanse, I’ve been seeking more opportunities to enjoy what Toronto has to offer. For example, I attended a Pillow Fight League event last week; I had a blast watching women fight each other while swinging pillows. Mind you, the intermission was a sad reminder of my inability to break into mutually exclusive clique circles, but it didn’t ruin my night by any means.

This Thursday evening, I’ll have another chance to have a fun night without any assistance from Nicky. I’ll be attending ING Direct’s Meet and Tweet at the Darkhorse Espresso Bar. I did some recon last week on the venue; it looks as if I’ll need to learn how to break the ice with strangers if I’m going to enjoy myself.

January 12, 2010

A Tale Of Two Foxwells

Last year, I first noticed this street sign at the corner of Jane and Foxwell.

A Tale Of Two Foxwells

At first glance, it doesn't look as if anything is amiss. However, residents of this neighbourhood should automatically notice the error in the street sign. Foxwell should not be designated as an avenue, but a street.

I have two pieces of evidence to corroborate my assertion. First, here's a photo I took at Foxwell and Handel; note the correct designation here.

Second, have a look at this Google map where the same designation is used.

View Larger Map

Strangely, this isn't the first instance of incorrect road designation which I've seen. At Keele and Humberside (south of Annette St.), the same thing happened last year.

January 10, 2010

Bar Exam

I had long promised to take a photo of the "waterfall" on Cumberland Street near Bay station. Right before going to Freedom Clothing Collective for the last Designer Saturdays shoot, I got my chance.

Bar Exam

I made the mistake of not wearing gloves since I thought that this shoot would be a quickie. I ended up taking almost thirty shots; the only reason I chose this one was because Sarah Lynn Ottewell liked it more than the other ones.

How soon is summer?

Designer Saturdays: SLO (Jan 9 2010)

The last featured designer at Freedom Clothing Collective's Designer Saturdays was SLO's Sarah Lynn Ottewell.

Click this post's title to see all 48 photos at my Flickr site.

I See You

In light of my recent digital cleanse, I’m slowly making a greater effort to connect with people in the flesh. As part of this effort, I tried a different approach at my Designer Saturdays photo shoot yesterday. Instead of whipping out my camera gear immediately after getting acquainted with the featured designer (Sarah Lee Ottewell), I established conversational rapport with her before going to work.

I’m happy to report that I very much enjoyed yesterday’s shoot for reasons other than the number of good shots taken. Not only was our rapport easily established (despite a few bad jokes on my part), but it was enhanced due to a few more people joining us later on. On top of that, thanks to Sarah’s lesson on sewing mittens out of old sweaters, I’m now the proud owner of a brown and pink pair.

Yesterday’s shoot makes me wish that there were more Designer Saturdays to look forward to. Even though it’s the last one for now, I hope to reap greater benefits from my new approach as I will be using it as often as possible.

January 08, 2010

Digital Detox (Epilogue)

Hello, again. Much to the chagrin of single females everywhere, I haven’t disappeared. ;-)

For those who haven’t figured it out yet, I participated in John Mayer’s Digital Cleanse for the first seven days of 2010. Among other things, this meant no logging in to social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. This also meant that I couldn’t read or post blog entries, hence the dearth of updates here. Despite that latter rule, I wrote five new entries during my cleanse, one of which goes into a more detailed account of my experience. You can read those entries immediately below this one.

Apart from accidentally clicking (and then promptly leaving) a few blogs, I’ve made it through the cleanse without my social networking crutches. Apart from writing the blog entries, my time was mostly spent getting reacquainted with Super Mario Bros. via my emulators, along with reading various Wikipedia articles. I also watched Avatar for the second time in IMAX 3D (go see it, trust me) and purchased its soundtrack CD, along with The Essential “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have taken an influential Twitter user to make me ditch my social networking habits for one week. However, I’ll be forever grateful for this Digital Cleanse and the lessons learned therein.

Thank you, John.

P.S. No new pictures…yet!

New Faithful?

As I said in a previous entry, this blog may not be as active when I start working again. In any event, I surely won’t be taking Nicky to work with me. Old Faithful will be my camera of choice, so I’ll probably take a lot more individual photos with it.

Up to this point, I haven’t had a problem with my point-and-shoot’s lower quality (compared to my DSLR). However, now that I may be using this camera more often, it may become a sore point. Since I often submit my photos to Flickr groups for Toronto blogs and news agencies, I want my photos to look as professional (and therefore presentable) as possible. As much as I love my point-and-shoot, its pictures cannot cut it when compared to Nicky’s output. I reckon that when I save enough money, I’ll start thinking about replacing Old Faithful with a more robust point-and-shoot like Canon’s G11 or Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX3.

No matter what happens, be prepared to see more shots from my current point-and-shoot.

(Originally completed during my digital cleanse on January 7, 2010 at 9:29 a.m.)

Balancing Act

When I was outsourced from my last job, I thought I had two alternatives: keep looking for another day job, or go back to school to retrain in a different field. However, this blog and my camera gear purchases have enabled me to take a slight detour which I'm grateful for.

Unfortunately, it has become evident that I’ll need to take on another day job. I've recently completed my budget spreadsheet for 2010; unless I acquire a well-paying and stable source of income, my own income will take a big drop near the middle of the year. Worse, if my employment insurance (EI) benefits are revoked this week, my income will nosedive even sooner.

Also, the prospect of going back to school is unattractive right now. My preference would have been to attend one of Ontario's public colleges as part of the Second Career program. However, a strike by college teachers seems imminent. If I was already enrolled, I would have been on an emotional rollercoaster much like the one I encountered during the outsourcing process.

Very soon, I will be blowing the dust off of my résumé and making improvements to it. Upon completion, I'll engage in an all-out job searching blitz for the sake of my future. I'll also be preparing myself for the inevitable balancing act between this job and my blog.

Have no fear, though - the blog may not be so active in a few months, but it is in no danger of dying. I'll make sure of that.

(Originally completed during my digital cleanse on January 5, 2010 at 11:04 p.m.)

Digital Detox

A few weeks ago, John Mayer announced that he’d be taking a one-week digital cleanse. In short, he wouldn’t use social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, nor would he read or post blogs. He’d also avoid entertainment and gossip websites during his cleanse. Of course, the best (and most ironic) part of his announcement was his suggestion that we take this cleanse with him.

I admit that I initially wasn’t going to take Mr. Mayer up on his directive. However, I later thought that this would, at the very least, be an opportunity to test my discipline in avoiding frequently-used websites. Since the cleanse started on New Year’s Day at 9 a.m., I made preparations after arriving home from my church’s New Year’s Eve service.

As I type this entry in MS Word (instead of Blogger), I’m on day three of my cleanse. Apart from accidentally clicking on a CNN blog, I’ve managed to follow John’s directions with hardly any withdrawal effects, even though I somewhat miss my daily logins to Facebook and Twitter. However, the absence of these crutches (among others) has shown me one important fact: instead of relying on them to satisfy my social needs, I must give first priority to interactions with people in the flesh. I had this idea in mind when I attended the gospel dance party a few days ago; even though the execution was a total failure, at least my intentions were good.

If you’ve ever taken a psychology class, you may have come across Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs. In its original form, it’s represented by a five-stage pyramid. Each stage represents a set of needs; the lower the stage in the pyramid, the more fundamental it is to the human existence. In my personal experience, I’ve definitely neglected the need for love and belonging; my accomplishments in life seem worthless in light of that unfulfilled need. In layman’s terms, what good is achieving a career milestone when you have no one to celebrate it with you?

Let’s recap: my digital cleanse has already helped me reduce my dependence on social networking websites. However, since nature abhors a vacuum, I’ll need to fill the resulting void with consistent social interaction. It won’t be easy, but it is definitely necessary.

(Originally completed during my digital cleanse on January 3, 2010 at 11:39 p.m.)


About one month ago, I undertook what turned out to be my first paid photo shoot. This should have been cause for celebration, but unfortunately, it was the beginning of financial stress.

A few months after losing my last job, I started to receive employment insurance (EI) benefits from the federal government. As part of this program, I have to file a bi-weekly report detailing my activities for the preceding two-week period. This includes any income earned or work done for which compensation is pending. In my desire to be honest and avoid the repercussions of deception, I declared this photo shoot even though I hadn’t yet received payment for it.

This is where the scaremongering began.

For the purposes of EI, I’m considered self-employed since my client didn’t take any income taxes out; as we all know, the government does this to your gross income when you work for an actual company. Thanks to this "change" in my employment status, I had to complete a form at a local Service Canada office with the details of my "employment." As ridiculous as it sounds in light of the small payment I received, the loss of EI benefits is a real possibility here. As I write this entry, I’m still waiting for the federal government’s decision on revoking these benefits. Depending on that decision, I may need to find a stable source of income - quickly.

In my belief, pitfalls like this make people hesitant to fully pursue their dreams. Needless to say, freelancing can be financially risky, especially when you don’t have a day job to fall back on. In this time of economic uncertainty, who wants the additional pressure of worrying where rent or mortgage money is coming from? Worse, if you have dependents, how do you balance their care with your own without running out of money? Thankfully, I don’t have to think about that last question right now, but this doesn’t mean that my financial alternatives are inexhaustible.

I conclude this entry with a thought expressed during one church sermon a few years ago. The worst thing about cemeteries may not be the dead people, but the dreams which died with those people.

(Originally completed during my digital cleanse on January 2, 2010 at 11:37 a.m.)

When I Can't Break Through

I like to think that I’ve invested time and money into my photographic aspirations because of a desired career change. However, considering certain photo shoots and events outside of photography, perhaps I’m just avoiding deeper issues which need to be resolved.

I recall a recent shoot which happened one month ago; for the prevention of burned bridges, I won’t say which one. However, this shoot was a somewhat painful experience for me. I took a few good photos, but I had no genuine interaction with the subject at all; there was an invisible wall between us. She had a few friends who were talking to her during the shoot, but they might as well have been her security detail. Other than our initial greetings, I don’t remember saying anything else to her - not even goodbye. I ended up feeling like an intruder on a conversation in a language I didn’t understand.

It’s a good thing that Nicky isn’t a person; she’d be upset if I told her that I sometimes use her to help me interact with people. As you can see, this technique doesn’t always work, but at least I don’t leave photo shoots empty-handed. However, what if Nicky is not around to act as my security blanket?

I got a painful answer to that question on New Year’s Day.

My evening was already disappointing due to IMAX screenings of Avatar being sold out, even though I arrived one-and-a-half hours before the start time. Mind you, this would have been my second viewing. After deciding to postpone this repeat viewing to the following week, I eventually decided to go to a gospel music dance party at Dovercourt House. The event started much earlier in the day and there was only one hour left in its duration when I arrived. I didn’t think of the possible negative implications of those facts, but I instead focused on the opportunity to meet new people. As I went up the stairs to the sound of "This Little Light Of Mine," I prepared to pay the admission fee and looked forward to a better start to 2010.

In short, the event was a social disaster for me.

Even before I made my way to the far end of the room, I saw that the attendees were already in their cliques. That is not meant to be a disparaging statement; I’m only saying that each clique represented a group of friends (or, at the very least, acquaintances). Some were dancing and some were sitting, but none of them seemed eager to start a conversation with a stranger, and I wasn’t in any mood to risk rejection. There were two people who tried breaking the ice, but after about forty-five minutes of interpersonal stalemate, I prepared to leave. As I was putting on my coat, one of the attendees came over to talk to me, but her interaction was rooted more in pity than any genuine desire. I was past hoping for a good time, so any thoughts of dancing or prolonging our conversation evaporated like the hopes of a prisoner as he is strapped to the electric chair.

Most people would agree that I’m too young to be jaded about social interaction; after all, I’m only thirty years old. However, with or without my camera gear, it’s sometimes one heck of fight to connect with people. For every reason to come out of my shell, I can think of ninety-nine as to why I should stay inside.

(Originally completed during my digital cleanse on January 2, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.)