Monday, December 20, 2010

The Munk Debates: Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair

A must-listen-to podcast between Hitchens (author and atheist) and Blair (former British PM and recent convert to Catholicism) on religion.
"Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects, in a cruel experiment, whereby we are created sick, and commanded to be well,... And over us, to supervise this, is installed a celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea … Salvation is offered at the low price of the surrender of your critical faculties.”
“It is undoubtedly true that people commit horrific acts of evil in the name of religion. It is also undoubtedly true that people do acts of extraordinary common good inspired by religion. Almost half the healthcare in Africa is delivered by faith-based organisations, saving millions of lives. A quarter of worldwide HIV/AIDS care is provided by Catholic organisations. There is the fantastic work of Muslims and Jewish relief organisations . . . So the proposition that religion is unadulterated poison is unsustainable. It can be destructive, it can also create a deep well of compassion, and frequently does.”
The memorable phrase I took away from this debate Is "... the sheer force of logic."

iPhone Diaries #279: "creative ways for funding photo gear"

Photo District News, Dec 2010. Photographed at the Food Court, Stone Road Mall, Guelph. Dec 19th.

iPhone Diaries #278: "Hear, hear!"

How about 50? Chapters, Guelph. Dec19th.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

iPhone Diaries #275: "The University of Guelph Cannon"

Old Jeremiah. See a previous blog entry at:
Dec 11th.

iPhone Diaries #274: "A tree of many colours"

Observed while on a run through the U of Guelph Campus. Dec 11th.

iPhone Diaries #273: "Mouse with a new lease on life"

Just released this mouse outside the house after it spent most of the night being chased by and toyed with by Moxie and Belle (our two cats). Remarkably, other than being drenched in cat drool, this mouse was unharmed. Just goes to illustrate the fact that contrary to popular mythology, cats and mice aren't sworn enemies. Mind you,  if our cats weren't regularly fed, the outcome would have been different.
Dec 11th.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

iPhone Diaries #272: "Cold ducks on a frozen lake, on being creative and the futility of it all"

It's a slow drive along Lakeshore West (Jameson Bridge still undergoing renovation) and Lake Ontario looks frozen still in this -15 Celsius morning. Might as well get off the road and spend a few minutes to take in the view.
And then you notice these ducks, lots of them, hardly moving, seemingly immobilized by the cold, the lake not quite frozen.
And this got me to thinking about what we are all about, in a cosmic sense... the absurdity of our existense. Sure, we can delude ourselves on our self-importance (religion), and immerse ourselves narcissistically in the minutae of our daily lives (and tell the world about it on Facebook). Unfortunately, as a group, we will focus our attention on the supposed failings of others, in order to deflect attention away from our own inadequacies.
We all try not to look at the big picture...we purposely subconsciously miss the forest for the trees. Because if we really look at the forest, I'm afraid we will see that we are not that important in the whole scheme of things.
You know what will make us feel good about ourselves? How does one attain some measure of significance in this huge void? I would guess by being nice and kind to our fellow denizens! By  rejoicing in the small victories that come with raising families and on personal, work, and school achievements, no matter how small! By taking in and appreciating the beauty around us!  By being  creative!
The Toronto skyline as seen from Lakeshore near Ellis. Dec 9th.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I think this is a beautiful word to say out loud... the way the British pronounce it (frak-ah).
It's a noun meaning a noisy, disorderly disturbance or fight; a riotous brawl; an uproar. Try using it instead of the f-off word.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

iPhone Diaries #269: "Off of its moorings...unhinged"

Elm and Elizabeth Streets. Dec 2nd.

Will that be a chicken shawarma? with artwork? to go?

Due to popular demand, the best Shawarma place in Guelph will now have a limited selection of my photo works available for sale, by special order only.
It started out with my offer to decorate the walls of the restaurant with pictures depicting Guelph, particularly downtown Guelph. Mani and Bal, the proprietors are down-to-earth folks who offer the best shawarma I have ever tasted this side of Beirut, at a very reasonable price and with a smile! They were kind enough to say YES to my offer!
Comments on my photos have been unanimously favourable, and inquiries have come in as to their availability for sale. Starting on Monday, December 6th, a portfolio will be available...just ask either Mani or Bal for it. Prints up to 13x19 may be ordered and the prints will be ready in 3 days,  unframed.
The prints will be very, very, reasonably-priced. It is my philosophy that artworks should be viewed (and/or owned) by as wide a circle of  people as possible. Life is short...enjoy the view while we can!

User review: Canon Pixma PRO9000 Mark II inkjet printer

What's a photographer to do when a client orders a 4"x6" from each of 600 files. Especially when a machine-print from either Costco,  Vistek or Henrys just won't do. So I suggested inkjet prints... more expensive than machine prints but guaranteed to look like the files as viewed on the computer screen. I was given the go-ahead shortly thereafter.

I can regurgitate the printer specifications and features but it would be more efficient for you to go to the Canon website as well as the various other websites with their reviews. Here is my layman's user review showing the cost per print as well as the image quality.

The printer cost $299 at Henrys, down from the regular price of $499. I also got the inks from Henrys at $19.95 ($26 at Future Shop). Epson Premium 4"x6" Photo Paper was $19 at Henrys ($25 at Staples). As luck would have it (for ease-of-calculation purposes), I printed exactly 600 - 4"x6" and used exactly 10 cartridges: 2-Yellows, 2-Magentas, 2-Photo Magentas, 2-Blacks, 1-Cyan, 1-Photo Cyan. The Red and Green cartridges were barely touched.

In summary, a 4x6 print on this Canon printer cost $0.533 in materials (ink and paper only). A Costco print would have cost $0.20.

The Canon Pixma PRO9000Mk2 is a dye-based printer, with the archival print-life surpassing by a wide margin the life of chromogenic (traditional photo) prints; approx. 80 years vs 22 years. Pigment-based printers (from Epson) are rated for 100+ years. Of course, the actual life of a print depends on several factors such as ink-and-paper combination, and atmospheric and storage conditions.

Image quality, based on default settings, is amazing! Colours tend to be more saturated than Epson (pigment-based) prints and the blacks aren't as nuanced as, for example, Epson 3800 prints. After all, this Canon has 1 Black cartridge while the Epson 3800 has 3 Blacks (Photo Black, Light Black, Light Light Black).

Speaking of inks, dye-based inks are water soluble (as opposed to the discrete globules of pigment-based inks). It stands to reason that nozzle heads are less prone to clogging, particularly after long idle periods. One notable feature on this Canon is that it has a user-removable print head. Since the print head is the one of the first items to malfunction, this is a welcome feature!

I haven't done side-by-side speed tests but the Canon is slightly faster. As far as costs are concerned, an equivalent Epson printer costs almost twice as much. The inks also cost significantly more.

I'm very happy with this printer (and so was the client). This one job alone paid for the printer...and then some.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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 #268: "Toronto City Hall"

A wet and chilly Tuesday night. Nov 30th.

iPhone Diaries #267: "Yumms"

Fish and chips...
Onion rings, and...
the Lady in front of me. To go.
Queen Street/City Hall. Nov 30th.