Thursday, July 29, 2010

iPhone Diaries #202: "The Shed"

Probably inspired by Edvard Munch (or South Park). July 28th.

iPhone Diaries #201: "Tracks and the shed by the tracks by the Eramosa River on Stone Road"

July 28th.

iPhone Diaries #200: "The Cannon: Old Jeremiah"

The Cannon is one of the most revered sites on the University of Guelph campus. If you're a student at Guelph, you've painted the cannon or you will be painting the cannon at some point during your university career. It sits in the centre of campus, outside of the Univerity Centre, in Branion Plaza. Even on a cold January night, mighty Gryphons will brave the ice to paint a message on the cannon. Here's a little history about "Old Jeremiah":
"The cannon itself is a British naval gun, most probably used in the War of 1812, although there's no concrete proof of that. It was likely made around 1800, during the reign of George III. In fact, if it weren’t the target of repeated painting, it would probably rank as a valuable antique. Sometime between 1878 and 1879, the cannon arrived on the campus, though no one really knows how. During its early years, it was used as a training gun for the Guelph Field Battery. Lieutenant John McCrae, author of "In Flanders Fields" was the commander of the Battery for a while.
Since the cannon arrived here, it has been moved several times. It has been beside the old gardens in front of Johnston Hall, beside Creelman Hall, guarding the old reservoir that used to sit on campus, in front of the Johnston University Centre and in front of the Engineering Building. The last time it was successfully moved was 1973, when engineering students concreted it into Branion Plaza. The last time it was fired was 1914 with a blast so loud that all windows in the area were shattered."
-Tej Gidda, Engineering Alumni Association Newsletter 1998

In 1998, possibly one of the biggest pranks on the Univerity of Guelph campus was pulled off by some creative Engineering students. Here's an account from the Engineering Alumni Association Newsletter:

"One of the biggest pranks in recent memory occurred in 1998. Members of the classes of 95, 97, 98, 99, 00, and 01 combined their skills to relive an old tradition - moving the cannon. While Old Jeremiah had historically been re-located around campus on occasion, this practice became significantly more onerous in 1973 when it was concreted into its current position in Branion Plaza. Onerous, yes, but not impossible to a group of imaginative engineers. Applying the principles of mechanics as learned in their studies, the group constructed a sturdy wooden cart complete with car axle and pivoting castor wheel. On a cold March night, the cannon barrel (weighing in at 6000 lbs!) was slid from its existing base to this new base using only two hydraulic jacks, several hundred feet of rope, and the elbow grease of about a hundred students. Once the gun was on its new base, the cart was wheeled down to the front of the Engineering building (just outside Bill Verspagen’s shop), and the wheels were removed. At the same time, close to eighty other engineers created a snowball-fight distraction amongst the residences at the north end of campus while a second unit released fireworks on the rugby pitch, activities designed to divert the attention of any law enforcement personnel who may have desired to intervene in the Branion Plaza activities. The prank was completely successful and employed no motorized device of any kind.
The following morning, several large lecture halls were diverted to the vicinity of Engineering 100 at the same time, to show off the relocated cannon. Over the next few days, rotating teams of engineering students worked to remove the numerous layers of paint from the cannon as it sat in front of the engineering building, eventually succeeding in getting right down to the cast iron. During this time, the cannon and base were repeatedly vandalized by groups of students who were apparently of the opinion that the Engineers had no business moving the cannon as they did. This culminated about a week later, when some representatives from the OAC student body attempted to drag the cart, without its wheels, back to Branion Plaza. It is rumoured that they destroyed two truck transmissions in so doing, while leaving the cannon dangling several feet from its old home. As this situation was somewhat dangerous, the university brought in a crane to put the cannon back onto its base. It is with some degree of pride to note that the specific mechanics and design process behind the cannon prank of 1998 are annually taught to the frosh class in the first year mechanics course.”

July 28th.

Monday, July 26, 2010

iPhone Diaries #199: "Gordon Street Bridge"

July 25th.

Uncommon heroes

Two people from  opposite sides of the political spectrum were on the headlines this week: Kelly Rose Pflug-Back and Munir Sheikh. According to the Toronto Sun, "police alleged the University of Guelph student is responsible single-handedly for thousands of dollars of damage". Kelly Rose gave herself up to police on charges of setting fire to a police cruiser and inciting others to do likewise (1). Munir resigned as the Chief Statistician at Statistics Canada rather than sacrifice his professional integrity and that of his Office. in my opinion, both took steps to trumpet the need for rational analysis and sanity  to prevail over ideologically-driven decisions.

I liken Kelly Rose's actions to that of  Thich Quang Durc, the Vietnamese monk who burned himself in 1963 on a Saigon street to protest the persecution of Buddhist monks by the U.S.-backed Vietnamese government. His self-immolation brought widespread condemnation of the government's actions and led to international pressure for reforms. It's debatable whether or not Kelly Rose actually torched a police car and broke store windows; suffice to say that she, as well as her sympathizers' actions, has further engaged the public's awareness to the insanity of an elite club of a few nations, clearly not a representation of the world's population, and arguably, in the payroll of major commercial interests, determining the future of our planet. 

Munir is a respected academic and career bureaucrat who felt that the current government's use of Statistics Canada as a tool for implementing policies based on ideologically-driven notions  was unacceptable. The viability and utility of a venerable institution such as Statistics Canada was clearly threatened by this and other political interference. Munir did what is unthinkable for a government official of his rank and status; he resigned.

Kelly Rose is a 21-year old student (read: meagre finances) who has staked her future in  defence of principles she obviously strongly believes in. If convicted, her record will be a hindrance to future activities, e.g., entering the United States may become an impossibility. Munir is a career civil servant who has been well-compensated for a near lifetime of public service; he can look forward to a comfortable life beyond this. Doubtless, he will be getting offers for prominent postings.

Two Canadians. One unwavering principle. You have to love Canada!

(1) Kelly Rose's photo and quote from the Toronto Sun, 22jul2010.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Views from one vantage point

Looking towards the north, the Banting Building.
Looking further north, "Gotham City".
Looking westward, the copula on the MaRS Building.
Canon 5D2, 24-105f4L, Sigma12-24, Photoshop CS5, Photomatix. July 20th.

Monday, July 19, 2010

iPhone Diaries #193: "Boy up in the tree"

Retrieving a soccer ball that got stuck while trying to dislodge a shovel handle that got stuck while being used to shake-down a frisbee that got stuck while the boys were playing, well, frisbee. Nelida's place north of Guelph, July 18th.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes as seen from Wilson Street, Guelph. July 17th.


As seen on Wilson Street, Guelph. July 17th.

The iPhone Diaries - a description

A back-to-basics, less-is-more, photographic project. As photographers, we are inundated (and jaded) by the plethora of digital devices, the latest ones promising (but not delivering the goods) more megapixels and the latest super-ultra-extreme-XLT processor to (potentially) allow everyone to be the best photographer that they could be.

The most popular camera used by Flickr uploaders is the cameraphone (the Canon Rebel Series comes in second). For me, using my cameraphone is an exercise in purging the mind of clutter, as well as in actually shooting on a regular basis, as opposed to "binge" shooting (1600+ clicks on a typical wedding). The limitations imposed by the cameraphone (low resolution, fixed lens, severely reduced dynamic range) forces me to work within these parameters. For example, I have to use my feet to compose the image; I don't have a zoom lens. I am now a slave to how the camera thinks; I can't adjust the exposure to suit my needs. This is the digital Polaroid.

The best camera in the world is the camera that you have with you and that you actually use. The best advise for the "artist" is to practice their craft on a consistent basis. Sketch if you're a painter, sculpt if you're a sculptor, shoot if you're a photographer.

So I leave the 21MP FF Canon with the L lenses at home; I use my iPhone whenever I can.

iPhone Diaries #192: "Self-portrait"

July 18th.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Art on the Street, Guelph,July 17th

One of many chalk drawings by the water fountain on St George's Square as part of the 8th Annual Art on the Street:
More chalk drawings on my own website at:

iPhone Diaries #191: "The sun and storm clouds"

Sun and storm clouds, inspired by my wife, Mary. July 17th.

iPhone Diaries #190: "The sun and storm clouds"

Observed over The Zehrs' Plaza. July 17th.

iPhone Diaries #189: "The most welcome sight in the world"

It is a treacherous time in this world, full of danger and uncertainties. The sight of this flag is most welcome! Southampton Beach (on Lake Huron), July 16th.

iPhone Diaries #188: "A day at the beach"

It's not a beach in the Philipines: the water wasn't warm, it wasn't salty, and there wasn't a fish in sight but the sky was just as blue and the water was almost as turquoise-y. Most important of all, home was just 2 hrs away on the best paved roads in North America. Southhampton (on Lake Huron), July 16th.

Monday, July 12, 2010

iPhone Diaries #184: "For the pampered cat"

Prominent ad space for feline products (on a barrel where the bulk of the contents is made up of canine by-products deposited by conscientious owners). Macalister Park, July 11th.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

iPhone Diaries #183: "Woman on a red chair"

Observed at Simcoe Park, beside the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery, in Niagara-on-the-Lake. July 10th.

iPhone Diaries #182: "Bride with picnickers"

Bride posing with picnickers while taking a break from a wedding shoot at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a picturesque village (on the shores of Lake Ontario, where the Niagara River ends it's journey from Niagara Falls) that is the hub of the Niagara wine region and world-famous for the Shaw Festival (the Shaw Festival produces and presents the work of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) and playwrights writing anywhere in the world during, or about, the era of Shaw’s lifetime).

Niagara-on-the-Lake (600 metres away, across the river, on the American side, is Fort Niagara) is also a favourite destination for urbanites looking for fresh air and a change of pace. The bride and these picnickers have never met each other before. It's amazing what a smile and a courteous approach can do! July 10th.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010