Friday, January 27, 2017

A renewed appreciation for that bowl of rice

A film by Alexander Baumgartner
As someone who eats rice 3x a day, not much thought goes into reflecting on where that rice comes from. This is a video of a typical day in a rice farmer's life in the southern Philippines. This is small scale (human scale) farming, in an ecosystem where very little goes to waste. The rice is grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides.
There are so many places in the Philippines similar in atmosphere and tranquility... in the quiet of the night, this is where my thoughts go to.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


2017's first blog post

December 2016 came and went, and while I was able to post quite a few photos on to Instagram, I haven't had the time (read: suitable mood) to post anything here. I wanted to start 2017 with a hopeful spirit, far from the bad news of 2016. I want 2017 to be uncluttered, minimal, focused only on what is essential: at home, at work, and at play.
It came as a very pleasant surprise when I came across the music of a kababayan (almost 2 generations younger), on Instagram. His video on Youtube is elegant in it's simplicity, and yet bursting with hope and goodwill, expressed in that most primal of activities: two people dancing!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sony Diaries #988: missing my bus stop

It was a damp and foggy night on the commute home and the bus was so nice and cozy I fell asleep and missed my bus stop. I got off on the next stop and what would have been a 10 minute walk home turned into 30 minutes. 
And so I imagined myself to be Henri Cartier-Bresson, with a  Sony RX10 instead of a Leica M3.
Here is what I saw on the walk home:
3 runners and 3 border collies
 shower heads for light
 parking lights
warm bus. November 24th.

Sony Diaries #987: The views around College and University

 November 24th.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sony Diaries #985: on a walkabout on a cold Sunday morning

Walking (or biking) is the way to go to see and feel the view. After an early morning taking head shots of the members of the Guelph Marlins Aquatic Club, and not having the use of a car that morning, I walked home. These are some of what i saw.
November 20th.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sony Diaries #984: it still comes down to great service with a genuine smile

photo courtesy of
For the last nine years, and counting, from the demise of film to the advent of digital, from 6MP Pro cameras to today's current 24-36MP, I have been working with Chris and Shelley at Boston Images. In a business where you're only as good as your last job, in an industry where the price of entry is as low as the price of a consumer-grade camera at Best Buy, in a world where referrals rule and fancy websites, not as much, I'm still shooting. I work alongside shooters young enough to be my twenty-something kids. What's the formula for longevity?
I think it's the same formula used by any other long lived enterprise. Great Service. Beyond a basic level of technical and artistic competence commensurate with your pricing structure, what wedding clients will remember is the atmosphere of the day (or the absence of anxiety and concern for the photographers' conduct), the agreeable "flow of events" initiated by the photographers' instructions,  and the photographers' people-management skills (some clients need bossing around, others not so much). This is for the day of the wedding. 
There's is also the front-end consult and back-end post-shoot relationship, which I'm not qualified to comment on as much. Suffice it to say that they're just as crucial; these 3 aspects are closely interrelated. 
Wedding clients won't remember (or care to know) how much your gear costs, or what f-stop was used for the portrait session. They'll remember the feeling, of how they enjoyed themselves that day. This is what leads to referrals. And longevity in this business.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sony Diaries #983: a renowned mathematician, and the Sigma 35F1.4ART

It was a distinct honour and a pleasure to cover the 2016 Symposium at the Fields Institute, esp since the guest of honour was Manjul Bhargava, Canadian-American mathematician, awarded the Fields Medal (known as the Nobel Prize for Mathematics) in 2014. Manjul, who combines sky-high intelligence with a beautiful personality, can mesmerize an audience of mathematicians and lay people (like myself) with the same material: quite a feat!
As he was being introduced for his talk, Manjul was in the back of the theatre, in the upper stands where he seemed to glow with an electric energy, in the dark. Wanting to capture this image in my head, I knew I had to shoot wide-open, slow shutter speed (1/30, Sony SteadyShot helped avoid camera shake), high ISO (6400). I chose the Sigma 35 F1.4 ART, one of 2 lenses I own that is sharp wide-open.  He was looking straight ahead, slowly shifting from left to right, wanting to avoid being in front of me, thinking that he was in the way of my shooting. I kept the camera pointed at him, hoping that he would turn to his left side for a profile. For a split second, he did! and the light reflected off of his glasses was perfect, punctuating what would have been a profile all in shadow. I only took 1 shot.
More photos of Manjul in "sufficient " light:
University of Toronto, November 2016