Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ben-evolent dogs in Guelph: another update from the editors of the Guelph Mercury

It will be interesting to see what becomes of Ben Baena based on his Dinosaur Dog venture.
When – if – he is the subject of a biography, one gets the sense the Dinosaur Dog episode would either be omitted altogether or form a key turning-point sort of chapter.

Baena is the Guelph entrepreneur/down-market restaurateur who caused something of a stir this summer by operating Dinosaur Dog — a pay-what-you-can (or want) hotdog cart near Gordon and Essex streets.
The part-time business venture operated for a short period. But it still gained a following and something of a social media glee club for bucking the traditional street meat retailing price structure.
Alas, the impact of this disruptive innovation in the local hot dog cart industry was a brief one; at least, phase one of the experiment was. It was also something of a cautionary tale about the need to do your homework – or at least enough of it – before jumping into a business venture.
Baena, a student, had a hotdog cart, the foodstuffs to operate it and no shortage of energy and zeal as its owner operator. He just didn’t have the necessary paperwork from the city to run or even start-up this business legitimately.
He’s pretty quick to allow he started up the business quick and on more of an apologize-later rather than get-permission-first basis. His lack of negotiating the municipal red tape required for this play led to its demise with the city shutting him down over it Tuesday.
Baena, who holds down another job this summer, suggests he’ll be back on the weinie scene next year. We hope he makes good on that undertaking and jumps in in 2011 with all the permits and such he needs for Dinosaur Dog to be legal.
It would be interesting to behold this social and entrepreneurial experiment for a longer spell. It seems likely it will also prove compelling to follow Baena’s career and impacts as well.

iPhone Diaries #225: "Three people in the mirror"

Photographed at the Harbour Banquet and Conference Centre, Oakville, ON while shooting a wedding. Aug 28th.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Goldie Mill in Guelph: Images from an afternoon visit

Pictured here is my Trek leaning on the stone walls of the ruins of the Goldie Mill, a historical site situated between Cardigan Street and the Speed River. More images on my site at:
The images were taken yesterday as the sun was setting down. The idea was  to take photos of the structure as a whole. But as I get into the hollowed shell of the mill, the stones seem to come alive as each stone seem to take on a personality of it's own. The stones are golden and the algae on them are a greenish, golden yellow. And as I look in closer, I notice  delicate cobwebs laden with stone dust. One has to get into a wabi-sabi state of mind to appreciate this. This mill, like all structures that have witnessed lives come and go, has an unquantifiable life of its own. Aug 26th.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

iPhone Diaries #224: "Horned red tomato"

Tomato from Ben's this the kind that goes into the Red Devil Tabasco Sauce? Aug 26th.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

iPhone Diaries #223: "Breakfast on a day-off from work"

Home-made waffles (newly-discovered recipe using egg-whites and corn starch resulting in a light airy waffle with a thin browny crust), fresh blueberries on Astro organic vanilla yogourt over organic pumpkin-seed granola, and Pike-Place coffee. Off camera is a dish of the best smoked bacon in the world (Klops Deli on York Road). This meal lovingly whipped up by Mary. Aug 25th.

Church of our Lady Immaculate - a Tourism Guelph Project

I'm in the midst of shooting a series of images, in and around Guelph, that I hope will be decent enough to be accepted by Tourism Guelph as part of their stock collection. Below are two interpretations of the Church of Our Lady Immaculate as seen from Norfolk Street. 
The upper (normal) image was a pain to achieve...the dynamic range was extremely wide. To the naked eye, the sky was pitch-black, the church was invisible save for the lit doorway, the lamppost lights were paper-base white, and of course, the colour temperature of the different light sources were all over the place. The statue of Our Lady was lit by the lights on Norfolk as well as from the business establishments across the street. Overcoming the limitations of technology in order to represent what the mind sees is the ultimate aim of any photographer worth his f-stop!
The lower image was more fun to play around with...sort of the Church of our Lady on LSD.
early August, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Desiderata - words to live by"

To the artists and poets out there torn between their artistic impulses and the realities of making a living... and to everyone else trying to make some sense of their existence in a world seemingly gone mad with aggression and acquisition, this is dedicated to you:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble,
it's a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann was an attorney turned philosopher-poet who lived in Terre Haute, Ind. He spent his life wrestling with the realities of making a living and following his personal calling to a life of poetry, literature, and thought. He wrote A Prayer, which became a message of hope for thousands, but he is best known for Desiderata, which he wrote for himself, "because it counsels those virtues I felt myself most in need of." Max included this work as part of a personal Christmas greeting in 1933, and Desiderata's power and appeal have continued to reach out to and significantly affect readers ever since. 
He died in 1945.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ben-evolent dogs in Guelph: an update

Check out the front page of today's Guelph Mercury, with a photo, no less. Stay tuned for more "thinking-out-of-the-box" and "on-the-fringe" initiatives from Ben. And yes, they are called "Dinosaur Dogs"... prescient, or what?
For now, while he's attending the University of Guelph and working part-time at Guelph General, Ben's dogs will be available for private events. Plans are on for resuming his dog business next summer, this time with the appropriate permits.
To elaborate on the Guelph Mercury's article on Ben's short-lived experience, he did end this adventure chapter with  net financial proceeds as well as a deeper insight into people. He was never told by the City of Guelph staff about the required variance to allow his set-up even after the numerous times he went to the City in the process of applying for permits. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

amazing need to understand the words!

Stumbled across this blog. Im a huge fan of photos taken (or made to look like they were taken) by "cheapo" cameras such as the Diana, the Holga, the Lomo, or vintage bellows-type camera with simple elements and simple lens coatings. Polaroids are nice too!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The future of photojournalistic/reportage wedding photography: STILLS and VIDEO shot by the same photographer.

No, the current crop of DSLRs with video capability such as the Canon 5DMarkII and the Nikon D3s aren't ready for prime time. IMHO, they're missing 5 key ingredients for run-and-gun events such as weddings: quick auto-focus, decent audio controls, decent manual exposure controls, a different form-factor (an articulating LCD will suffice, for now), and fifthly, motion-JPG capture for easier editing and better frame-grabs. Shallow depth-of-field is all well and good but out-of-focus is not cool. There's hardly any set-up time for weddings, let alone retakes. Heck, most times, HD (high definition) is not even requested; SD (standard definition) will suffice. The majority of videographers all use pro SD cameras (with largish 1/2.5" sensors) from Sony, Panasonic, and Canon.

But yes, the future belongs to candid photographers who can rewire their brains to be able to think and shoot STILLS and VIDEO, sequentially or simultaneously. After all, isn't reportage photography just another way of saying discreet movies without sound and movement? Furthermore, post-shoot editing expertise will be much in demand. In any case, editing expertise is a necessity for pre-visualizing shoots.

I'm in the market for a well-priced camcorder with a 1/2.5" sensor. The Canon Vixia offerings fit the bill but they're still out of my price range. I will have the opportunity to shoot STILLS and VIDEO on two upcoming shoots: Sept 1st and Sept 5th. I plan on using an 8-year-old Sony miniDV for these shoots, unless I come across another camera I can afford.

More updates to come.

BEN-evolent dogs in Guelph

It's not a new concept but it's an audacious one, nevertheless.  Pay-what-you-can hot dogs and sausages! Ben Baena of Guelph, Ontario is rolling out his shiny, gleaming, heavy-gauge, stainless-steel cart with the concept of leaving it up to his customers to pay whatever they can afford for his hot dogs and sausages. The price for his soft drinks and water will be set at $0.50 (cheaper than the standard $1.00); after all, he has to make sure he operates his cart without a loss.

After obtaining the required permits from  City Hall and investing hard-earned dollars on a top-of-the-line cart from Willy's Carts (the Subaru of the cart world), the original plan was to charge traditional prices ($2.75 for a dog, $3.75 for a sausage, $1.00 for drinks/chips). But after a day of watching people go by his cart, checking their pockets for change, and not having enough to pay for a dog, Ben decided to try this concept of having people pay what they can. The hope is that some people who can afford it will pay a little bit more in order to subsidize the others who can't. 

Although this is in keeping with Ben's socially-engaged sensibilities, this is not an entirely altruistic plan; Ben hopes that at the end of the day, he will be able to pay for his expenses and have money left over to go towards his college tuition. There is, after all, some value in watching your fellow man/woman walk away happy and fed (albeit with nitrite-loaded wieners), as hackneyed as that may sound.

Far from being a starry-eyed socialist, Ben is a realist so he is giving this plan a chance to work out. For now, it is a limited time offer, while quantities (for each day) last.  If it does work out that people get fed while Ben goes home with some  net proceeds, then you might still see  Guelph's version of Ed Mirvish (without the wealth)!

If there's a town where this concept has a chance of  being feasible, it would be in Guelph. Ben is at the Loonie-Wash property on Essex, near the southwest corner of Wellington and Gordon, most days this summer, when he's not working at his other salaried part-time job. When he goes back to U of G, you may see him at the same place only on weekends, maybe.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Images from Ghana: photos by Rob Teteruck

Rob Teteruck, friend and fellow Medical Photographer has just gotten back after spending a week in Ghana. Have a look at his Ghana pics on his site at:
View the lush imagery, appreciate the intimacy of the portraits, feel the heat and the humidity. 
And have a peek at the rest of the images on his site; they're not too bad either.

Saturday, Aug 7th, Exhibition Park, Guelph

Keep the inner activist's spirit burning...a worthwhile cause! I hope to be there myself.

iPhone Diaries #212: "The Bear at the Donald Forster Sculpture Park"

The Bear, on Gordon Street, in front of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, changes its outfit to suit the changing moods of Guelph and its people, often on a daily basis. Aug 3rd.