October 31, 2003

Mama/Papa


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Mama, Papa
Taken with Lomo LC-A

I had way creepier photos that I wanted to put up here today for Halloween but they're from World Toy Camera Day and I haven't selected my best shot yet. All the creepy shots are contenders and I have to keep them secret until the judging process is over.

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TONS of projects have been put to bed recently. While I'm actually really proud of my accomplishments right now, I am most happy to have cleared out some space in my life.

This weekend will be the first, in literally.... I can't even say when, that I haven't had something that needed doing... that couldn't wait until Monday... or that I felt obligated to do. Every minute of it is mine to do as I please. I will go eat breakfast in my favourite cafe followed by a day of being outside taking pictures. Sunday I don't even know. But I can do whatever the hell I want without the weight of my inner voice nagging me "You're not supposed to be here, you're supposed to be doing such and such."

This feeling, this place, is what I'm striving to attain all the time and not just on special occassions. A balanced life. When I decided to become my own boss I didn't realise I would become the boss from hell.

I feel incredibly liberated.

Posted by Gayla at 10:22 AM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2003

Pink Chair


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Taken with Lomo LC-A

Posted by Gayla at 08:09 PM | Comments (2)

October 28, 2003

Photoblogs/Clean Office


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Looks like a G
Taken with Spartus Full-Vue

Photoblogs is relaunched with a new design and a new voting system. I'm not the first to say the new system makes more sense. The old system seemed to bring out fucked up nasty competitiveness in some people. p.s. Make this site your favourite n' stuff.

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I need to clean my office desperately. Paper, film, spools, etc everywhere and a stack of books next to my chair that is literally knee high. What I need is a happy little tidy helper elf... or to just get off my ass and do it.

Posted by Gayla at 06:36 PM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2003

Horror Films, Holga B&W


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Creepy Doorknob
Taken with Holga 120 (and a magnifying glass)

What a day... what a last week really. Just sent off a print project at 6:00pm that was infesting every bit of my life... minus Saturday afternoon when we went picture taking for WTCD. So later I turn on the movie channels and what do I see is on but the horror film that ruined me for babysitting... "When a Stranger Calls" (1979). When I last saw that movie I was much too young and sensitive for such things. So of course when I hit babysitting age and sat alone, late at night, watching the shopping channel and reading past issues of "Woman's Day" in the finished basement/dens of various suburban homes in the Garden City, every creek and house groan brought me right back to that eerie voice on the phone "Why haven't you checked the children yet?"

So it's that time of year again to figure out what horror movies I haven't seen and to then go out and rent them. Mind you I have a thing for scary movies and I tend to rent them on a regular basis regardless... Just last week we rented "28 Days Later" which was the best horror movie I've seen in ages.

My taste in scary films tends towards the 60s and 70s era. I like the way suspense was built, the music, the quality of the film and the fact that things don't always end with the usual predetermined heros surviving/saving the day/some other happy lala poo poo ending. "Rosemary's Baby" is a great example. Satan wins. Okay the infant son of satan lives which is basically the same thing. That would never happen now-a-days. The ending is just too "unhappy" by todays standards.

If I had to choose one, I'd say my favourite horror film is probably "The Omen" followed closely by "The Exorcist". You can't beat the soundtracks of either film. Even though we have the Mike Oldfield "Tubular Bells" album I can't listen to it. Too scary.

I recently watched "The Eyes of Laura Mars". It was fairly crap but I was excited to see Faye Dunaway (who plays a professional photographer) using one of the Polaroid Land bellows cameras (of which I have a few) for proofing her shots.

Anyways, have any scary/suspense/thriller movie suggestions?

Posted by Gayla at 11:16 PM | Comments (9)

October 26, 2003

Orange Campervan Revisited


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Orange Campervan
Taken with Holga 120

Recently I have begun scanning the negatives of photos I took several months ago. Because of the scanner I no longer get any of my 120 film printed. I simply have it developed and then scan it all myself. It's a bit time-consumming but I'm discovering that it is worth the extra effort. It turns out that many of the photos that I thought were boring, badly framed, or lacking in vignetting and other toy camera quirks are actually good photos with all those assets. It's just that some photolabs either crop light leaks out thinking they're giving you the best print possible, a bit of the pic gets cut out in order to add borders, or the colours are off.

I'm discovering that photos I took way back in May and June are good or actually just better than I had thought. While I think my photos have improved greatly over the last six months, my perception of the quality six months ago was off.

Take the above campervan photo for example. This was taken on my second roll through the Holga. I really did like the picture at the time, but the other night I scanned the negative and discovered that it was much better than the initial print from the lab. See a scan of the original print here.

Posted by Gayla at 12:46 PM | Comments (5)

October 24, 2003

Magnifyed Zinnias


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Taken with the Ansco B-2 Cadet (with Magnifying Glass)

Tommorrow is World Toy Camera Day.

I've got a ton of work to wade through today. It's nice to see a project in the last stages... and I have a few projects that are all at the cusp of completion... but it's also way more hectic than I like.

Posted by Gayla at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2003

Car, WTCD


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Car Fin
Taken with Great Wall DF-

I think I like the above car photo more than this one.

World Toy Camera Day is only three days away! I've got my cameras ready but can't decide where to go to take pictures. Do I stick to my usual spots or try and find somewhere new, and if I go for the new where will I go?

Have been meaning to point to Jimbus.org for a while. He's got some toy camera spotlights as a lead-up to WTCD.

Posted by Gayla at 05:50 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2003

Ansco B-2 Cadet vs Brownie Hawkeye


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Taken with the Ansco B-2 Cadet (with Magnifying Glass)

Got some 120 photos back last night. One roll of film had two photos on it from June. This is a clear sign that I've lost some enthusiasm for the Brownie Hawkeye Flash. I think this comes in part because many of the photos from this camera taken on our June trip to Montreal were a disappointment. I have a tendency to blame the camera just a bit. As I have acquired or experimented with new cameras, there have been a few that have fallen to the wayside in favour of the ones that I gel with.

I'm enjoying the B-2 Cadet experiments with the magnifying glass so much, I think I'm going to start using some of the other, lesser used box cameras in this way. Every roll I get back has had two or three pictures that qualify as overall favourites. There's something about the quality of the images that appeals to me. It's probably the short depth of field. Now that I've expanded my repetoire beyond flower photos (with this process I have kept to plant close-ups) I am again inspired to experiment more.

Posted by Gayla at 12:14 PM | Comments (2)

October 20, 2003

Area 17, Canzine


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Taken with the Great Wall DF-

Not sure what "Area 17" refers to but we sure did go ballistic taking photos of this sign. I alone took photos with no less than four cameras, and from every side. The other photos are yet to be developed.

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Yesterday afternoon we went to Canzine. Last year we had a table but I have since decided that sitting at a table all day isn't for me. Anyways this year's event was right down the street at the Gladstone, an old, and sadly rundown hotel with amazing architecture. I have to admit that I was less excited about the event and more excited about the opportunity to have free reign of the building to roam about and snoop. It didn't disappoint. I wish I had taken more photos but I tend to get nervous in situations in which I know I'm somewhere I'm not supposed to be. I'm a simultaneously reluctant, yet eager trespasser. Some of the rooms (which were tiny) were used for art exhibits but they still had beds and other furniture in them which was just downright creepy.

In the end I purchased very little at the show. My best purchase was a lovely three colour silkscreen that was only 5 bucks! I think he should have charged more but people tend not to buy much art at those events since they are there more for the zines.

Oh I also bought a cd-rom zine called The Repository for Strange Dreams. The editor is taking submissions for a new project called "The Repository for Washroom Graffiti".

Posted by Gayla at 10:37 AM | Comments (3)

October 18, 2003

bell hooks, crappy 35mm


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The above photos were taken with that .99 cent crappy plastic 35mm I bought a while back. I can't say the photos turned out to be super exciting but they weren't bad/good either. I think part of the problem was that my test roll was a subject matter I don't usually photograph.

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I did indeed go to see bell hooks speak last night. As I expected, she was an engaging speaker with a good balance between reading, speaking about her ideas and relating personal stories. She has been criticised at times for her use of anecdote and personal experience in her writing, but I have always enjoyed that aspect of her work, even when I didn't agree with her point. I strongly believe that cultural theory outside of a living human context is interesting to contemplate but nearly useless beyond that. I am also always most interested in what life experiences draws a person to the conclusions they arrive at. That train of thought.

Ms. hooks has been a busy woman, having three books coming out in the next few months. She read from them and the two I am most interested in are on the subject of masculinity. The first is called We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity and the other is The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love.

Some things about bell hooks:

  • She has a fairly high pitched voice. This shocked me. It wasn't high in a "Hi, I'm Melanie Griffith. I'm like 40+ and talk like a little tiny baby" forced-hyper-cuteness-kind-of-way. But it was much higher than I expected. I have this thing with voices. When I read a person's words I have a tendency to anticipate and imagine their voice in my head. I know this is extremely biased but I still do it. I even do this with people I have email correspondence with. So often times when I meet the person I am shocked by the sound of their real voice.
  • She loves to use the word "diaspora"... a lot. We currently have a client who also uses this word a great deal. It's one of those words that when pulled out, makes the user seem very intellectual. I've made a mental note to introduce it into my vocabulary. "Histrionic" is a similar word. I haven't used that one in ages.
  • "Pedagogy" was another word in regular use last night.
  • Not only does she repeat the phrase "White supremist, imperialist, capitalist, patriarchy." in her writing, she does indeed pull it out when speaking. I have to admit that while I understand her reasoning for using it and appreciate that, I skip over it and sort of blur it all together when I read her books. I'm a fast and also somewhat lazy reader.

    Posted by Gayla at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
  • October 17, 2003

    On Creativity, bell hooks


    greatwall_doorway.jpg

    From Therapy
    Taken with Great Wall DF-

    We're going to see bell hooks speak tonight. I found this article about design online a year ago and really enjoyed it.

    "Today design has little meaning for masses of people for whom interbeing seems only a romantic dream as they scramble to fulfill materialistic fantasies, believing, as everything teaches them to, that consuming is the only way to ecstasy. Sorrow stirs in me every time I face the myriad ways in which advanced capitalism removes the cultural conditions that would enable everyone, including the poor, to have access to learning an aesthetic appreciation of design."

    Within this article she talks a lot about design being something we are born with but must be fostered in order to maintain our gifts. She points out how class comes into play in that regard in this day and age.

    "...I think about the way in which class often over-determines our relationship to design. It is hard to imagine that as late as the fifties it was still possible for families without much money to own an exquisitely designed chair or table. Today, there is no design for everybody."

    I have been contemplating this question for years... What determines our aesthetic taste, what determines how we relate to design, art, creativity... the visual world? What determines how we see things and how does that effect what we create? Is it nature or nurture and where does this stuff intersect and how?

    As you may know I make my living as a graphic designer and being a very visually oriented person I spend a great deal of my time looking, thinking about looking and in turn creating things to look at. However, I come from a background in which creativity was not fostered. My parents simply did not care about their environment... did not think about design, aesthetics... anything. It wasn't that they had never been exposed to it, it was that they had cut themselves off from their emotional life and as a result they did not have a need for creative thought... probably regarded it as a dangerous thing to avoid at all costs.

    So having been raised in this environment, exactly how did I become the person I am? How is that even possible?

    Having turned this stuff over and over in my head, nature vs nurture etc., the conclusion I keep coming to is that creativity in any form is the expression of the self inside us. We are all creative, or have the potential for creativity because we are emotional beings. And we use creativity in everything we do from how we perform the most mundane daily tasks to how we conceptualize the world... it is limitless. Expressing oneself creatively is living. However if you sever yourself from your emotions, for whatever reason (and many people have good reason to protect themselves in this way) you will find it difficult to be creative. You will be unable to express yourself because you will have lost a sense of self.

    So in that matter I do believe that this stuff is innate. That our social and cultural upbringing informs and twists it, but that we all have this massive potential for creativity inside ourselves. And even if we lose it or get disconnected from it along the line, it can be found again.

    Posted by Gayla at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)

    October 15, 2003

    Kindly Keep Canada Clean


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    Taken with the Windsor

    The other day Mr. Risk and I were watching the film Spider, which as an aside was visually beautiful in that dark-around-the-edges, beautiful decay way I love and shows a more mature side to David Cronenberg. I have always found his depictions of sex relations to be embarrassingly adolescent with over-the-top and rather silly Freudian themes.... not that this film lacked in Freudian themes, just less so.

    But I digress, there was a scene in the film in which the main character was sitting in a crappy little cafe (in England) and behind his head was an ad that read "Keep Britain Tidy" over a pastoral scene. Well that just cracked me up. It was so fucking polite. Our own ads here in Canada have not been far off at times, having been a British Colony and all. I made a joke that here we'd have signs that read "Kindly Keep Canada Clean" or "Kindly Remove Your Rubbish Won't You".

    I don't know... that kind of bizarre politeness, however engendered into our culture just makes me laugh it does.

    Posted by Gayla at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

    October 14, 2003

    Scylla and Canon AE-1


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    Scylla
    Canon AE-1

    Another photo of my grandmother taken way back around 1995/96.

    Posted by Gayla at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

    October 10, 2003

    Canon AE-1, Scylla and Jay


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    Scylla and Jay
    Canon AE-1

    The photo above is an oldie. I took it way back in (possibly) 1995. My recent photos of Mount Pleasant Cemetery have had me digging through and scanning old negatives searching for photos taken in Salem, Mass on a long ago road trip to New England. The grave stones were so ornate and beautiful. The searching ended in the discovery of a group of photos I took of my maternal grandmother and brother.

    These photos were taken with the famous "Bill the Camera". We have recently begun trying to use Bill again and have discovered that I'm not crazy there IS something wrong with the lens I was using! This sucks because it was the wide angle which has always been my favourite lens. Considering photos I've taken with several other cameras since March of this year have been in focus, I just knew it wasn't me. It's not as if I suddenly forgot how to focus... and I know my eye sight hasn't degraded recently.

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    Last night we watched a lovely film called Raising Victor Vargas.

    Posted by Gayla at 11:16 AM | Comments (2)

    October 08, 2003

    Spartus Ferris Wheel


    spartus fullvue ferris wheel

    Kiddie Ferris Wheel
    Taken with Spartus Full-Vue

    Today is another fine fall day. If only there was a way to soak up the sun like a solar cell and store it for the grey days that are bound to come.

    Maybe that's a little bit what photography is about. When I look at that photo above I recall the nice sunny day and the fun of being outside and enjoying life. Even the bleak photos are accompanied by a positive experience for me as the photographer.

    p.s. Sorry California.

    Posted by Gayla at 12:11 PM | Comments (1)

    October 07, 2003

    Grave Architecture


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    Taken with the Windsor

    I took these photos a few weeks ago at Mount Pleasant Cemetery... the same fateful day I dropped my Lomo LC-A on the sidewalk.

    Overall I was a bit disappointed by the cemetery. In the ten plus years I've lived in Toronto I always meant to go to Mount Pleasant imagining it to be filled with interestingly carved markers of the area's deceased rich and famous. While I did see a lot of cool, old grave markers and mausoleums they were spread out amidst contemporary graves. And to be honest despite the fancy spires, statues, and other displays of wealth, my favourite grave markers continue to be the simply and nearly unseen bricks marked "sister", "mother", "father". I remember as a kid going to check out a country graveyard with my parents' friends' kid. She wanted to visit a horse that lived next to the lot and I wanted to check out a graveyard without my parents being there. It was a small country grave sat next to a small community church. That was the first time I saw grave markers without names. I was astounded. It was one of those tiny but significant moments in which I became ever-so-slightly-less naive about how the world operates.

    Overall it felt weird being at Mount Pleasant. The place is a strange cross between public park (people were riding around on bikes, hiking, etc) and grave yard (some were there to visit loved ones). I've been to cemeteries many times before... but not with an armload of cameras (usually only one in the past). I don't believe in burial and I'm an athiest, yet I didn't want to be a complete ass and disrespect the living humans who were there to grieve. A few times I curtailed my want to shout "Hey Mr. Risk... Over here... Check this out!"

    Posted by Gayla at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

    October 06, 2003

    Tags Galore


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    Tags Galore
    Taken with the Windsor

    Alley Swing

    Posted by Gayla at 12:16 PM | Comments (6)

    October 03, 2003

    Inside the Subway


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    Two recent photos from the Lomo LC-A. For PhotoFriday Interior.
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    If you're living in Ontario you probably know that yesterday's election was a pretty big win for the Liberals. A drag about what happened with the NDP. If you're not living in Ontario, you probably don't care.

    Posted by Gayla at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

    October 02, 2003

    Election


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    Slut 2002
    Lomo LC-A

    October's LaLaLand is round three of Urban Textures. Yay. It's kind of sad that I haven't submitted even one photo since 80% of my photos* tend to be exactly that. *That's of my overall photos and not the ones I actually post.

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    If you're living in the Province of Ontario don't forget to VOTE today!! I for one am excited about FINALLY booting out the Conservatives.

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    Been very busy lately. Feeling creative, energetic and free even... have been working hard redesigning this site in preparation for a new format as well as figuring out the design of the book. I feel good. And that's despite the fact that it's friggin COLD outside!!

    Posted by Gayla at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

    October 01, 2003

    Hilbilly elephant


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    CNE
    Taken with the Windsor

    Posted by Gayla at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)