December 31, 2003

Two Benches | Best of 2003


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Two Views of a Bench
Taken with Holga 120 & Lubitel 166U

I have a strange love for old City of Toronto benches. The ones made of little pebbles are the best. I can't stop taking pictures of them. An example of nice Parks & Rec design that has managed to stick around without being replaced by some nasty Postmodern mess or new plastic.

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Check out PhotoJunkie's Best of 2003. I chose a photo of an orange chair taken with The Windsor as my favourite photo posted here in 2003. I made my decision based on level of excitment when the roll came back and how much the resulting photo reflected the intended image as I was taking it. I remember being very happy about this photo and stating at the time that it felt like me... whatever that says.

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Announcing the New Leica-H!

Posted by Gayla at 10:20 AM | Comments (5)

December 28, 2003

Tracks II


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The Tracks II
Taken with Horizon 202

See another. Tracks I

I love the old-tymey look of this photo. Several of my first roll Horizon shots developed this look. I say "developed" because the first roll was a whole lot of guesswork and I wasn't expecting this result. But now that I know how to get it, you can bet I'll be working at it intentionally.


I'm thoroughly enjoying the panoramic format. We made a trip to High Park yesterday for some much needed exercise to counteract an assload of holiday ass sitting, and of course, to take some pictures. I have now managed to complete a couple of rolls of colour film through the Horizon. I've tried a few experiments so we'll see how they work out.

While I love the expansive width of the image, the biggest difficultly is keeping things out of the picture. I have stated before that I nearly always use the viewfinder, as I make a concerted effort to crop in camera rather than elsewhere. But with so much width to cover, it's no easy task, especially in the city. My aim, with probably every photo I take, is to crop out certain contemporary details that date the photo too much; mainly cars. I've joked in the past about my tendency to eliminate people from photos, but cars are actually a MUCH, MUCH bigger issue. I don't like the styling of most contemporary cars and I especially don't like them in my photos. I know I'm depicting a distorted reality of life in the city, but I suppose that's the reality of picture-taking. I take photos of how I see, not necessarily what I see.

Posted by Gayla at 11:07 AM | Comments (5)

Panoramic | Tracks I


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The Tracks I
Taken with Horizon 202

The tracks and alleys are my favourite places in the city. If my destination is accessible via either system then I'll always chose that path over the street. It's amazing how far you can get on the tracks without running into another person, yet you're right in the middle of a populated city. Streets are boring. Everyone walks on the street. Streets are busy and hectic and affected. On the streets people are working at creating a facade. But these other places are like secret, hidden, behind places. No one cares what they look like so they are often constructed piecemeal of discarded bits and pieces. All that rusted tin and old wood. That's where the character is. I love it.

Alleys are in a sense an old system. They don't have alleys in the suburbs. Too bad for them.

Posted by Gayla at 11:02 AM | Comments (3)

December 26, 2003

Holiday Displays


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Holiday Displays
Lomo LC-A

Posted by Gayla at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2003

Horizon | Jay Tracks


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Jay on the Tracks
Taken with Horizon 202

See more photos. 1 | 2

The first roll from the Horizon 202 is back. Despite the fuss, only one of 15 photos had banding due to loose film loading. Seeing the results of this first roll has inspired more ideas in my mind for this camera. Fun.

Posted by Gayla at 10:39 PM | Comments (6)

Horizon | Noble


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Noble
Taken with Horizon 202

Posted by Gayla at 10:34 PM | Comments (3)

Horizon | Coffee Time


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Outside the CoffeeTime
Taken with Horizon 202

Posted by Gayla at 10:33 PM | Comments (2)

He doesn't like to pose for pictures


lubitel 166u

Taken with Lubitel 166U

Thought I'd post some more Lubitel photos for the people coming from the Yayhooray thread.

Now that I've tried out a variety of Lubitel models (except the 166b), my favourite, by far, is the Lubitel 2 (with english characters). It may come down to aesthetic appeal, but the 166U is a fairly ugly, mottled-look, lightweight plastic while the older models are bakelite with nicer styling. The Lubitel 2 had a good weight in my hand while the 166U feels like... cheap plastic... which it is.

In case you're wondering, I buy a portion of my film on ebay. For the lubitels, the box cameras, and the pinhole, I buy up lots of slightly out-of-date agfa optima 100 asa (colour). I'm rarely so lucky with 400 asa or other types of film but I can always count on finding cheap 100 asa film.

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My first roll from the Horizon is coming back today. Sadly the lab I use does not print from swing lens panoramics so I'm going to have to do the scanning myself. I shot about half a roll of colour film yesterday but kept forgetting to check the level. What's worse is that many of those shots were of walls and buildings, of which I already expected a certain amount of distortion due to the 120 degree curved swing of the lens following such a linear surface. oops.

Posted by Gayla at 10:57 AM | Comments (3)

December 22, 2003

More Horizon Talk


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Taken with the Great Wall DF-

I shot one roll in the Horizon 202 camera, but have a bad feeling I didn't wind the film on tight enough. This camera has the most unusual film loading regimen I have ever seen. Lots of under, over, under, arounds.

The craziest thing though has got to be the lens swing mechanism. First you cock the shutter, and then when you hit release the lens swings at varying speeds depending on the shutter speed you have set. It's good fun. Unfortunately having read warnings on several websites about destroying the mechanism with one misplaced grain of sand, I have become precious about the camera. Don't keep the shutter cocked for too long, don't get it cold, don't get it hot, don't get it wet, etc, etc.

Posted by Gayla at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)

December 19, 2003

Shoot from the Hip | Horizon | Rich Girls


holga_street.jpg

Bending
Taken with Holga

This photo was my attempt at the Toy Camera Group Project "Shoot From the Hip". The project requirements included; no use of the viewfinder, black and white film, and the inclusion of people in the shot. This proved to be difficult for me. I nearly always use the viewfinder (which is why I rarely crop my photos), and I never take photos of people I don't know. I ended up taking two photos total, that actually met the project requirements, and the second was underexposed.

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In other news my holiday gift, the Horizon 202 panoramic camera arrived. The film is loaded but due to low light levels I have not taken any photos. I have however carried the camera, in it's special bag, around the apartment like a total spaz. Just like a kid with a new toy.

Despite being exhausted beyond belief last night, I managed to blow a few hours reading up on the use of this camera. That was followed by an MTV marathon of some show I'd never heard of (and wished I hadn't) called "Rich Girls". I love the way the class war is played out on television. Rich girls are either insanely stupid, "over-sexed" (in the words of one of the girl's big daddy), incredibly naive, fucked up... or all of the above. We get it. Mind you I continued to watch it through a few half hour shows so who's the moron in this scenerio?

Posted by Gayla at 10:37 AM | Comments (7)

December 18, 2003

Black Truck | Holidays


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Black Truck
Taken with the Windsor

Oh the Holidays. Not my favourite time of year. Last night we went to a performance put on by one of our new clients, followed by a late-night meal at the Marche (the closest place to the performance open at that time of night). Despite having not been in any stores and very few public places in general lately, I am so over-holiday-music-ed. I've only heard "Jiggle Bell Rock" one time, but I swear if I hear that or see one more commercial for "Rita McNeil's Christmas" special I will go berserk. eeeeeee

Posted by Gayla at 11:28 AM | Comments (3)

December 16, 2003

Synchronicity


windsor_tree.jpg

Fall Tree
Taken with the Windsor
(several second hand-held exposure... I am a human tripod)

Today I had one of those perfect, beautiful moments in which everything meshes just right.

I was riding in a cab, looking out the window and listening to music on the walkman. The song I was listening to was "It Never Entered My Mind", a quiet, contemplative piece by Miles Davis. Lately I have been seeking out music with that characteristic... that minimal, haunting trumpet (suggestions are always welcome).

As I travelled in the car, I sought the expressions on the faces of the people in the street. I can tell you that they were not happy expressions... but they were honest.

The rhythm of the car, the scenery as it trailed out of sight, the mood of the music... it was all in perfect synchronicity. Sad and glum but wonderfully beautiful none-the-less.

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I have made a few small changes to my links and about pages. With so many entires piling up I have collected some personal favourites together.

Posted by Gayla at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2003

Roots | Lomohome


lomo_roots.jpg

Roots
Lomo LC-A

I put up a bunch of images on the Lomography site. I also posted a small gallery of ten lca photos taken on our June 2003 trip to Montreal. These images were my first using the lca camera.

Posted by Gayla at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2003

Hot n Cold | Night Time in Parkdale


holga_hotcold.jpg

Hot + Cold Sandwiches
Taken with Holga

I actually have no recollection of having taken this picture nor where I took it. That's really unusual for me as I have a good memory for that kind of detail.

I'm on a black and white kick. It started with the holga, but now I'm starting to wonder why I haven't used black and white in many of the other cameras. The other night we went out for a walk in the neighbourhood in an attempt to take holiday lights photos. There is one local street of low income high rises that usually goes nuts with the lights. Unfortunately they did not this year. After bundling up for the cold and lugging a tripod and several cameras, I took all of two long-exposure pinholes and a few snaps with the lomo. I really don't care for the holiday season but I do enjoy bugging out to pretty, oscillating lights and cheesy displays. I'm planning another night neighbourhood tour with the pinhole once I get up the nerve to go out into the wet, slushy streets.

On the way back from the no-lights display, as we walked through Parkdale, the quiet, empty streets, with a light snow falling down inspired me to take some pinholes of a few local mainstays and my favourite shit-hole laundromat. Once this roll is done I'm going to try a shift to b&w in the pinhole.

Posted by Gayla at 06:12 PM | Comments (2)

December 12, 2003

Camera Curses


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33 Newtonbrook (R.O.M)
Taken with Great Wall DF-

This photo was taken at the R.O.M a while back. It's a row of rolling coatcheck boxes for visiting public schools. I took some photos of this with the lomo lc-a but they were lost. An unhappy number of photos have been lost because the damned camera is acting up. I have no idea why having changed the batteries twice now. So now both lc-as are messed. Lately I've been cursed having broken or damaged several cameras within a short span of time. The count comes to one Lubitel 2, two lc-as, one anscoflex II and one brownie hawkeye flash (can still use it with a lot of fuss). Plus I have lost two lens caps (they were very loose). Mr. Risk has also suffered having received two recent rangefinder duds through ebay. Curses!

Does anyone know of a place in Toronto that fixes lomos and old rangefinders?

Update: Get this. Last night I put the batteries from my broken lc-a (which should be too old and dead) into Mr. Risk's lc-a and it worked. Maybe I bought the wrong batteries. Will have to do more experimenting.

Posted by Gayla at 10:52 AM | Comments (4)

December 10, 2003

New Photos/Time Camera/Sickness


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Jars
Taken with Great Wall DF-

Got back a bunch of film just in the nick of time. I've been BORED to tears with everything currently scanned but too sick/lazy/busy to bother digging around for anything decent to post. Two of the rolls are from two recent 35mm plastic lens purchases; the Anny-35 and the TIME camera. I thought Marcy's review of the OFFICIAL TIME MAGAZINE camera was very amusing. Despite her scepticism I am happy with the photos it turned out. Nice vignetting on most shots with a soft focus, but a lack of decent colour saturation. Still, worth the way-too-much-money I paid at the local Salvation Army a week or two ago. The Anny-35 camera images on the other hand have very vibrant reds, but no vignetting and strange lens flairs that I find unattractive but Mr. Risk thinks are kind of cool.

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Been sick recently. Had my first cold/virus in several years last week and continue to feel like hell today. I'm going to make myself soup and then lay in bed.

Posted by Gayla at 06:56 PM | Comments (7)

December 08, 2003

Holga Fen


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Singing Sands Fen
Taken with Holga

Posted by Gayla at 09:55 AM | Comments (3)

December 06, 2003

Pieces of a Man


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Taken with Red Rainbow Brownie Box Camera

Since Thursday I have become addicted to "Pieces of a Man" by Gil Scott-Heron. It is a quietly beautiful and tender emotional narrative. I just love when he changes his voice and intonation to speak the words of the mailman. The line "Felt the burden of his hand" is such a perfectly succinct description of being struck, it has been on repeat in my mind.

I couldn't find lyrics posted online so I wrote them out here. (As an aside I'm not a fan of weblogs that promote rampant consumerism, however this song is only one of many great songs on the album of the same name.)

Jagged jigsaw pieces
Tossed about the room.
I saw my grandma sweeping
With her old straw broom.
She didnít know what she was doing
She could hardly understand
That she was really sweeping up
Pieces of a man.

I saw my Daddy meet the Mailman
And I heard the Mailman say
"Now don't you take this letter too hard now, Jimmy, coz they've laid off nine others today."
But he didn't know what he was saying
He could hardly understand
That he was only talking to Pieces of a Man

I saw the thunder and heard the lightening
And felt the burden of his hand
And for some unknown reason
He never turned my way

Pieces of that letter
Were tossed around the room
And now I hear the sound of sirens
Come knifing through the gloom
But they don't know what they are doing
They could hardly understand
That they're only arresting
Pieces of a Man.

I saw him go to pieces
I saw him go to pieces
He was always such a good man
He was always such a strong, strong man
Ya I saw him go to pieces
I saw him go to pieces

- Gil Scott-Heron (from "Pieces of a Man" 1971)

Posted by Gayla at 10:13 PM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2003

Rainbow Jumpsuit


Photo most likely taken by my mother.  I'm smiling but it's fake.


The above is a marriage of a few of my most hated things: that typeface, novelty hair bobbles, dumb photos taken on the laps of costumed characters, and that spaced-out rainbow jumpsuit.

Way back in grade school, my position in the social heirarchy was single-handedly doomed to failure due to the control my mother had over my wardrobe and style. While at age nine I was allowed to chose my clothing every morning, she still bought the clothes and styled my hair. Each morning's challenge consisted of carefully selecting the best of an extensive collection of style-less crap followed by a tortuous turn in Fern's personal living room pull-my-hair-so-damn-tight-it-lifted-my-eyes-a-good-half-inch-hair-salon. Some days this worked. Some days a good hour of easing the skin of my forehead down with my palms was all it took to pass for a minor social outcast. I had a revolving door of aquaintances and besides the odd "Gay-La. Get it? Gay. Gaylord.", I was mostly just the quiet kid (and reluctant leader of weirdos) with sort-of bad clothes.

But some days, and here's where it get's tricky, my mother would decide it was time I wore the really bad crap I had deliberately stuffed at the bottom of my bottom drawer. She had some kind of equal opportunity plan for my clothing. I begged and cried and screamed about the cruelty of children and the slow, growing tear in my already thin position in the social fabric of school life, but she was unrelenting.

The absolute worst of that really bad crap was the spaced-out rainbow jumpsuit. Dear god I hated that thing with all my might. It is possible that I hated it more than every single morning hair-ripping style session combined. It was truly hideous. It was a blue, one piece, synthetic mess with puffed-out cap sleeves, a high, mock neck, a long zipper down the front and angled rainbow trim. What's worse is that my mother consistently insisted on pairing it with a light pink large collared shirt, hideously printed with dark pink polka-dots and a man reading the newspaper design.

The mornings I left to school in this outfit were terror-filled. I was so horrified and ashamed. I was certain that any number of horrible stories of suffering and torture were better against the brutality I would surely endure as a result of the rainbow jumpsuit. I hoped there would be a reason to keep my jacket on in class that day. I hoped to be rendered invisible somewhere between the front door and the schoolyard.

One day in particular (around the same time the above photo was taken) stands out in my mind. I was in grade 4 but I was in a mixed class of grade 4 and 5 students. My school was a failed experiment in open concept layout and new-style class structure. On this occassion we were all sitting on the carpeted floor of the classroom engaged in some sort of group learning activity. At some point I lost track of the teacher and became aware of a conspiracy of whispering students surrounding me, all of whom were discussing, at length, the hideousness of my outfit. Now I was no idiot. I did not wake up that morning thinking "I know, today I'll be a superhero and wear that badass blue rainbow jumpsuit!" I knew I looked like shit. I knew that next to their era appropriate, suburban middle class attire I was a freak.

The whispers turned to pointing and jeering on the part of one particular girl, a fifth grader named Tracy Hindman (who later became a total stoner in high school) who just couldn't let it go. Eventually she decided that my outfit was such a horror to her eyes that she needed to teach me a lesson and threatened to beat me up after school. Now, at the time I was a fairly meek kid. The problems in my own home and the violence heard through the thinnish walls and open windows of my townhouse complex had rendered me shy, introverted and fearful of confrontation. This girl was bigger than me and she had that look in her eye that some kids get when they need to prove their position in the group. I was pretty nervous but my sense of injustice was far greater. I mean, if you've got a problem with my jumpsuit, take it up with my mother.

In short, after an entire afternoon sweating it out and agonizing over my fate, her mother unexpectedly showed up to drive her home and the fight was cancelled. I went home and she, nor any other student ever threatened me with violence again. Two years later I did get in the first and only physical fight of my life with Janet McCurry, a long time nemesis, but it wasn't over the jumpsuit that I had thankfully, long-since grown out of. That evening , following an hour of posturing, name calling, plenty of "What's your problems", and one punch, I went home to a victory meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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This entry is a part of A PhotoJunkie Christmas

Posted by Gayla at 10:45 PM | Comments (11)

December 04, 2003

Fire Hose / Good Day

sx70_fire.jpg

One of the better first Polaroid SX-70 Alpha1 pics.

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Today was a great day. The sun was shining, it was cold but not brutal, I could walk around with my hands in my pockets without gloves... I felt really good. While out and about I decided to walk on the opposite side of the street in an area that is still marginally unexplored. I nearly walked by a convenience store that had lots of old stuff in the window. As I processed the potential in my head, I stopped, turned around and went inside. The place was filled with old crap alongside the usual corner shop stuff. The man behind the counter said he'd been there 35 years. That's 35 years of old stock. Only the perishables were from this era.

My eyes darted around frantically passing over old holiday novelties, a box of bad 70s era stickers (lots of 'hang loose' and silly sexual innuendos such as "Take me to your teepee"), key chains, rainbow pins that said "mom", "dad", "grandpa", a stack of personal name bags and another stack of glitter name stickers, breck shampoo, cards, Toronto postcard booklets, sun bleached board games, a display case of costume rings, peanut necklaces, mugs and 126 instamatics... it was endless. It was so stuffed I had to constantly adjust my bag to keep from knocking stuff over. The proprieter seemed happy that someone gave a shit. He gave me a giant plastic tooth for free and said he hoped it inspired me. Places like this are like special hidden museums. Finding a place like this is like walking into my best dreams.

Good things always happen when I'm feeling good. The only thing that would have made it more perfect would have been if I had been listening to Nina Simone sing "Feeling Good" on the walkman.

"Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Yeah freedom is mine and I know how I feel
"

Posted by Gayla at 06:50 PM | Comments (1)

December 03, 2003

My First Camera

polaroidonestep.jpg

This morning my ultra classy Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 fold-up camera arrived. Man, I have wanted one of these for years but could never find one at a decent price. Even the local pawn shops overprice it. I promised Mr. Risk I would get rid of my two One Step cameras, but now I'm not sure. One of those cameras is the first camera I bought myself.

Actually, my first EVER camera was a Kodak 126 Instamatic. It took a 126 cartridge and the photos were pretty crappy and grainy. Someone gave it to me as a birthday gift but I don't remember being allowed to use it until around grade 7. I still have a few photos taken on a grade school trip to Quebec City and the scary Bible Camp my 'loving' parents sent me to twice (grades 6 & 7 I believe). Most of the images are typical pre-teen girl photos; friends posing in bad 80's outfits with bad 80's hair. There are also plenty of my usual "building with no people" shots (now you know where it comes from). I've always been a documentor and a curator, well before I knew what that was.

The Sears Special SX-70 OneStep was the first camera I actually bought myself. It was purchased for one dollar at a Salvation Army some time in the early 90's. At the time I was very poor and didn't own a camera. I don't remember being around people who had cameras. There are very few photos from that time in my life. To be honest I'm a little unsure as to why I bought that particular one or even why I bought a camera at all. I had been a regular thrift store shopper for years and had seen an assortment of cheap cameras lining the shelves (I kick myself now!). At the time I think I was stuck in the thinking that to take good pictures you had to have a good camera... and that was photography was something unatainable and intimidating. One required a shiny new camera to take good pictures. But I was poor and I couldn't afford a shiny new camera. I also thought the cameras were too old and unusable. I was clueless. I think I bought the SX-70 because I knew I could still get film for it. Even if the film was expensive, it was easy. Shove the cartridge in and you're off.

random artistic photo

I did use the camera quite a bit. I took random "artistic" photos and I later used it to document a few art projects in my first year of University. It wasn't very reliable for artwork documentation but it was better than nothing. Then Mr. Risk came into my life and he brought with him Bill the Canon AE-1 and a nice point-n-shoot Nikon. The cheap camera that took expensive film was shelved.

So of course I will soon have no use whatsoever for the SX-70 One Step but I'm having a difficult time parting with the object. I'm trying to learn that parting with "the thing" doesn't mean parting with "the memories". I guard my memories well.

More about the Polaroid SX-70

  • I'm a big fan of the "grouping". Gorgeous triptychs by Doctor Foxglove
  • Manuals for both the One Step and Fold-up SX-70 cameras can be found here.

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    This entry brought to you by Gil Scott-Heron's "Who'll Pay Reparations on My Soul?" (I've been heavily addicted to this song for weeks). -- From Black and Proud Volume 2

    Posted by Gayla at 11:03 AM | Comments (7)
  • December 02, 2003

    Brown/Yellow, Spectacle


    lomo_brownyellow.jpg

    Taken with the Lomo LC-A

    A joint gallery up on 28mm.org by myself and Mr. Risk. These photos were taken way back in June. Wish I hadn't used the photo of the red wall.

    We didn't link to our photo sites. I've been doing this site nearly a year now and I'm still not sure how I feel about having clients find it. I started this site as a place where I could be more personal and honest without worrying about who was reading it. I have been and continue to work very hard at creating a conscious and contemplative life for myself. This has partially sprung from a great need to bring more of my inner life into the things I make. Over the years and for lots of reasons, this became increasingly difficult for me to do. Sure I could keep the process to myself (and there is plenty I do keep private), but making this site was my small attempt at reconciling two parts of my whole in a more public way.

    There are things I think we all need to keep private for ourselves, but I also think there are too many things people keep private for the wrong reasons. If we're more open about who we are in a more public way, that should and could be something good for everyone.

    I talk about documentary film a lot because I think it can be a great medium for acheiving that. The best and most moving documentaries are always the ones in which the humanity of people's lives, both good and bad are explored honestly. That line gets crossed and becomes something negative with the opposite effect when those bad parts of life are exploited. This seems to have become a growing problem (especially in television) recently. We're creating a culture that seems more open on the surface, but on another level we're turning what makes ourselves human into spectacle... and spectacle seems to be a tool for creating distance. I used to be more open to the idea, but I'm pretty sure now that it's not a good thing.

    Posted by Gayla at 11:10 AM | Comments (7)

    December 01, 2003

    Harbourfront


    shurshot harbourfront

    Harbourfront
    Taken with Ansco Shurshot (box camera)

    Posted by Gayla at 11:50 AM | Comments (6)