The One With the Chair

A few days before Christmas vacation, we were handed our Christmas bonuses. That weekend, when walking in my old hood, The Beaches, I noticed a new antique pop-up store next to Ends. Needless to say, I went in to see what treasures could be found. It was destiny to have found a beautiful Victorian chair and a mid 1930’s sewing machine. Destiny? At that time I was wondering what my next Anachronist shoot would be. When I saw the chair in the window, I knew immediately what that shoot would become. In the case of the sewing machine, my 1950’s Omega was on the fritz. Quite the regression, I agree, but it works wonderfully! Each was bought at an amazing price, including delivery.

More recently, a girl, who also uses the studio space, and I went halves on a storage locker a block away. How convenient! Slowly we’ve been filling it up with things like chairs, fabric backgrounds, fake flowers and other things. I have a feeling our little 5×5 storage unit will soon be full enough upgrade before too long. Especially at the rate I’m going because on my way to work one day, walking up Pape Ave I found rolled up, slung over someone’s fence a beautiful area rug. There’s a large red (like Cool Aid) stain at the back and a small bare spot, but otherwise in excellent condition and thankfully not too large to prevent me from carrying it. So into storage it went. Along with a a new pair of IKEA faun coloured curtains bought at Value Village. The three most recent arrivals made up 90% of my set for this shoot.

It’s dangerous having a storage locker. It has become an excuse to go shopping for things that you think will do well on a set. When shopping at antique and second hand stores I’ve begun to ask myself a list of questions; How will this purchase fit into the look and design of your shoots? Does this object look authentic period wise? Is “X” amount of dollars really worth it for this purchase? How often will you use it? Are you buying for the sake of buying it, or will you use it? I’m sure there are many more questions I ask myself as I gaze in stunned contemplation around the store. My general rule, if it’s something amazing that you just can’t pass up, buy it! If it’s on the sidewalk in good condition, take it! Back to the subject at hand.

When looking back at these photos, I love how the colours are so soft and graceful. The background, the curtains and the first two costume changes worked well. When the image is changed to sepia, it’s a cohesive image. That being said, some of the images do well with an autochrome treatment. Something I’ve recently discovered in the many hours of pouring through Pinterest.

A while back I had asked my friend and sewing teacher, Marianne from Costume Witch, to help me with dressing and keeping an eye on the general all around look of my costume to ensure there was nothing sticking out, the train of my skirt was nicely laid out, in short, that I looked presentable. She worked in the costume industry for some time on film sets and plays, eventually opening a costume store. We’ve been Stitching and Bitching for many a year now, helping each other out with fittings, asking advise and just hanging out having fun.

I’m extremely happy with this shoot, but not as much as I was with the last one. Perhaps it’s because I’ve realized, unless I do the shoot again with hair down and in my under things, or re-do the moon making it out of ridged insulation board, The Anachronist Project is swiftly coming to a close. From here on in I’ll be shooting on location. My much anticipated shoot at Lucy Maud Montgomery’s house I hope, will be the crowning jewel. To prepare, I’ve begun to read volume two of her selected journals. Throughout the summer, I’ll be hitting, picturesque parks, beaches, gardens and wooded trails here in Ontario and home in Cape Breton.

There are a few ideas for what comes next floating about in my head. The main goal of this project is to create a museum-like photography exhibit. I was hoping to get a spot within Gallery 44, the Members Gallery, but sadly that did not come into fruition. It doesn’t do to dwell on rejections, but I can only think, this body of work is not contemporary enough despite the following definition from Foto Relevance: “A relevant definition of the word contemporary is happening in the same period of time, of/or, in the style of present or recent times.” Hmmmmmm…… the style of present or RECENT times. Since I’m using modern technology, wouldn’t this count as contemporary photography? Like I said it doesn’t do to dwell.

Jewelz Journey

A few months ago, I signed up with Model Mayhem to get myself motivated to photograph more people, experiment with light and basically let my imagination go wild. Not too long after signing up I had two people contact me asking to photograph them based on the photos I posted to my profile. On Remembrance Day, I photographed Jewelz, a vivacious, curvy young woman who’s goal it is to break into the plus size modeling world. She is so passionate about this, she even has “EFFYOURBEAUTYSTANDARDS” tattooed on her left calf.

Before the photo shoot, I researched how to photograph curvy women. I managed to find great images online for tear sheets that both of us looked through for inspirations. In my research, I discovered a household icon, whom everyone knows as Spock, photograph curvy, voluptuous women along with other fantastic bodies of work. ‘scuse the pun.

Leonard Nemoy is interviewed in this article showcasing his work from, “The Full Body Project”. It’s so far, one of the best articles I’ve read about this project. Perhaps it’s because I can hear his voice ring out that is truly his and not Spock’s. Thank God… I don’t… have… to hear… Kirk’s! For the first time in my mind, Leonard Nemoy is his own person. I sent another article about “The Full Body Project to Jewelz. I wasn’t sure if she knew about it already. Turns out she didn’t and here’s what she she wrote back, “OMGSH THAT LINK WAS DOPE. I have no idea Leonard N did photography and he is fucking fabulous at it. The black and white was dope and then i saw the full body and im like WOO.” I was very pleased to know she was as much excited about this discovery as I was. Indeed, I’d love to get my hands on a Leonard Nemoy book of photography.

It was a simple set up; a canvas mottled brown background, 1 Alien Bee with a shoot through studio umbrella. In the beginning, I didn’t move the light source from the left side I had it in. The light filled the space completely lighting her softly, so for the most part we went through many poses, some working some not. Jewelz had so many great facial expressions that I asked her to look pouty, surprised, or sheepish. Another great feature, her hair. I kept fluffing it forward and she kept smoothing it back. From these batch of photos, I had an inkling they were like a painting I had once seen, or several paintings from the same artist, but I couldn’t put my thumb on it until Rob mentioned it at Photographers Anonyms. “You know what these are like?” asking me to scroll back to a full length of Jewelz pieogioned toed and looking as though she was caught with her hands in he cookie jar. ” No what?” “It looks like a Botero Sculpture.” Not recognizing the name right away, I said, “it looks like that Mexican Folk Artist.” “Yeah, Botero! And he’s Columbian, not Mexican.” It’s because of his suggestion that I’ve contacted Jewelz again to see if she’d like to do another shoot in the Botero Style. She’s agreed and the shoot takes place on December 3rd, but more about that later.

Close to the end of the night, I decided to move the lighting from the front to the side. Tethering or wifing it through the Canon 6D would have come in handy at this point. Now I had dramatic lighting, but felt as though I’ve exhausted every pose. Or the poses that looked great before, didn’t work now. This was what I needed. A chance to switch up the lighting and experiment, especially with a challenging unique body type. I In the end I had some successful poses, but because there was little time remaining, I wasn’t able to pull much more from myself or Jewelz. My favorites besides the Boteroesque images were the portrait shots. Jewelz full moon face, rosebud mouth and runaway curly hair reminded me of a cherub from a Leonardo Di Vinci painting. Lol. I’ve also thought of cherubs as yet another themed photo shoot for Jewelz.

Parkdale Walk OR Parkdale Alleyways

Sadly, no one was able to answer the question I posed in my outing summery of the Parkdale outing for a free drink. The definition of a gladstone is a suite case with flexible sides on a ridged frame that opens flat into two compartments. Neither Pam nor Joanne won a free drink. Sorry guys. Joanne should, however, get brownie points for doing research on the history of the neighbourhood. Not only did she do the research, but brought a print out in a file folder.

According to Wikipedia Parkdale has a riches to rags story. Some of the most prominent families and what would be founders of Toronto lived here. However, the thing that’s causing so much headache and debate today was the neighbourhoods destruction in 1955. The Gardner Express. What we’re seeing now with condo’s happened then with block apartment buildings. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. And now the neighbourhood is no longer well to-do, but house working class families and new-comers to Canada. Although condos’s and new townhouses in this area are starting to be built up, it will take time for the area to become gentrified again.

We started a little too far east, but made our way west through side streets but found interesting alley ways that seemed to have the most interesting textures on fences, garages, garage doors and stone walls. I recommend to anyone to keep a folder of textures for any future Photoshop projects.

Something we’ve noticed was how neat and tidy these alleys were; not an inch of graffiti to be seen. There were however, dilapidated sheds that stuck out like a sore thumb among otherwise pristine properties. There was only one or two sad streets in need of the love and attention for someone to spruce up a house here and there. Parkdale is no longer what it was. It’s come a long way over the years. After I had a call from one of our clients who still believed Parkdale was still populated with druggies, I was even more interested in seeing the neighbourhood. I was quite delighted with it. Nestled in itself behind the train tracks divided from the hustle and bustle of Queen St.

We went into two vintage stores. One of which Pam was saying went downhill in the past three months. She said it use to be so organized. Now there were items in the isles. There was no rhyme or reason to anything. The second was full of stuff. Though I was disappointed with the lack of frilly dresses. Perhaps they were downstairs with the bolts of fabric I purposefully for another day when I had more time to look.

For lunch, Pam suggested as Tibetan restaurant. There was one that I ate at twice before called Tibetan House or something like that, but we say a cute little yellow place that served both Indian and Tibetan cuisine, so we decided to try that. We ordered four dishes to try between us. A veggie fried noodle dish, spicy pork, a beef soup, steamed beef dumplings, and our waiter gave us a free dish of rice to sooth the spicy food.

Every dish was quite different in taste and all very delicious. Our waiter was telling us the traditional meat was Yak. But since there is only one at the Toronto Zoo, and it would be expensive to import otherwise; what dishes would be yak are make with pork instead. I would defiantly eat there again. If you’re looking for something different, try Om Restaurant.

Although it was cold and blustery, and starting to rain, we decided to check out a lush community garden and another alley. One so different from the others we came from; it was an extension of Graffiti Alley, but further west at Roncesvalles. There were a few fantastic sections, my favorite, a wall painted in multiple shades of green with vines hanging over it. I’d call it the Hanging Garden, but the feeling was nothing like the movie. These graffiti artists are amazing!

On the way home there was much debate about going to Nuit Blanch that night. I don’t think anyone of us made it. We’ve endured the chill of the days wind, but I we shivered at the thought of how cold it would be that night.

Junction Walk

There were four of us on the first outing of the Beach Photo Club season; Catherine, Joanne, Pam and myself. It rained on and off all day, but that didn’t deter us as it was but a mist, not getting any worse than a drizzle. People had suggested more outings to be with in the city, and through I put them on the calendar, I was a little disappointed with the lack of interest this day but hope it was only the weather that kept people snug and warm.

As it happened we went on a little side adventure. After meeting at Keele Subway Station as planned, we went south instead of north to an ally way that ran parallel to the subway line. When the train comes up from underground to the station, you can see a stretch of buildings with beautiful graffiti. We must have spent an hour or more there finding other nook and crannies with beautiful container gardens on balconies. There was a garden by a Hockey store that made its fence from broken hockey sticks. It was beautiful cherry tomato’s ( I wonder if they were growing them in lieu of Don Cherry. That would be cute), zucchini and another type of tomato growing.

When we finally did go north, we headed west onto Dundas. I was surprised at how beautiful this part of Dundas was. There are still old buildings on this corner and along this stretch that reminded me of the main drags of smaller towns through out Southern Ontario. Pam , our local guide for the walk, commented on some black and white images she found of the junction and how she was still able to recognize the area. And building in relation to where she lives now. It’s nice to know a neighborhood can still have its character in tact.

What was really great about this neighbourhood was all the wonderful salvage shops. The first one we went into was Post + Beam Reclamation Ltd. It’s chalk full with old windows, doors, tools, mantel pieces. Once of which had crackled paint of a beautiful blue. We all agreed that if we were to purchase it, we would preserve the paint as is. To do otherwise would be sacrilegious. They also had two claw foot tubs (I’ve always wanted a claw foot tub!) and so much more. I asked if we could take photos and they said yes. All of the shops we went in to were very obliging in this respect.

In SMASH, I bought a pair of deer antlers that were cut to a smaller size from the full rack. Ever since I took the photos of Amanda last weekend, I had in my head the Vogue fashion photos of models wearing antlers. Now, I just have to figure out how to affix them to a headband sturdy enough to stay on the models head.

For Lunch, in between salvage shops, we went to lunch at Indi Ale House. Pam had suggested this as an outing, but seeing how small the back room was with the copper kettles, I don’t think there would have been enough room to shoot. Even if we didn’t plan any outings, there’s always a good excuse to go back. Three of us had the Breakfast Porter, a creamy dark beer with a smooth caramel woody flavor. Porters are considered to be a strong beer, almost a stout, but it’s very hard to find one in a Toronto restaurant. I know only one other place who has it and they too make it themselves. It’s the place where I first discovered porter, Black Creek Village. To eat I had the special, a grilled chicken club sandwich on a pretzel bun with Caesar dressing, crispy kale, cheese, and tomato. It was so large, I wondered if I could fit my mouth around it, but it squished down to a more palatable size. I told the waiter it was the best club sandwich ever. I only said that once before at Shanghai Cowgirl on Bathurst. When the table behind us heard, they asked to see it, but I asked them not to be fooled by its sorry state.

One of the last shops we went to was Mjolk,, a mix of Scandinavian and Japanese furniture with an air of vintage all about it. In one corner was a high-end record player. I turned around to the clerk asking, “Can you hear the difference between vinyl and digital?” “Oh yes. I can hear it.” We all listened to the warm classic 1940’s jazz as we watched the vinyl spinning, the needle gliding over it. I would love to have a turntable again. I wonder if there’s still one in my parents basement. Hmmmmm…… But how to get it up here is the question.

I had a revelation that day. I discovered the Junction might be a neighbourhood I would consider moving to because of all the nostalgic reclamation stores. But to bee so far away form the water, is unthinkable. People say West is Best, but you know me, always and forever the East Coast girl.

Ripley’s Aquarium Or Nature is SO COOL RIGHT?

Who remembers Ernie fishing with Burt, calling out, “Here fishy, fishy, fishy!”??? I have to admit this is the first thing that entered my head when we passed by the cylinder of silver fish at the mouth of the aquarium entrance.

We arrived in the square surrounded by the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and the aquarium around 8:30 in the morning. I had anticipated people coming from all over the city and thought it might take us a while to congregate before the door opened. Not so. Our party consisted of Janet, Deborah, Pam and myself. Who all arrived relatively on time. As soon as I saw other people arriving inside we gunned it for the entrance. There was a little bit of a line up for those who already had tickets. Janet was the only one who hadn’t bought the express ticket, but was able to buy one at such an early hour without a hitch.

The express ticket, I learned, can be used at anytime up to 364 days of the year from the time you buy it. I thought this would be a fantastic gift for my mother. I’d send it in the mail for Mother’s Day so she can use it when she comes to visit me in September, or whenever she’s able to get up. The aquarium was always on our list of things to do.

Two hours slipped away before we knew it. You could stand mesmerized in front of one the walls of fish for a good 15 minutes. Just as we were coming to the tunnel there was a serving butler cart off to the side. I joked to the security guy standing next to it that I had hoped there was coffee. He said in an hour there would be, but we can go to the café for a coffee, and he showed us the way. Janet was a little along in the tunnel, so I told here what we were doing. We all made a bee-line to the café and were very happy to know we were able to take our drinks with us into the passage ways. We all put our one-handed, coffee drinking, photo techniques into practice.

By the time we got back to the tunnel, there was a manageable crowd. Many people were content to remain in the conveyer belt watching the aquatic scene pass by before them. Yong and old were pointing out all manner of fish that swam past them. I had to wonder what how much research was put into choosing the perfect viewing speed. Just like what is the perfect conveyer belt speed in an airport or on an assembly line?

Many sharks, or rather the few sharks that were there, swam overhead and through the tunnel. They were an amazing site, they big toothy smiles. Just then a Frank Sinatra song, Mack the Knife came to mind….

When the shark has pretty teeth dear
and he show ‘em pearly white
Just a jack knife has Mac-Heath dear
and he keeps it out of site

When that Shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlett billows begin to spread
Fancy gloves though has Mack-Heath dear
So there’s never, never a trace of blood

On the sidewalk, one Sunday morning
Lies a body…”

Hmmm…..can anyone say Mob? Anyways, you get the idea.

Pam had brought a snood she made. It fit onto her lens to isolate the light around what she was shooting. Here is her experience with making the snood and the results she got.

Below article courtesy of Pam R.

With a trip coming up to the Ripley’s Aquarium I realized that there would be a lot of reflection from the tanks and that I should get something to reduce the amount of light bouncing off of the glass. So I looked around on the internet and found some decent looking products with good reviews, but I wasn’t sure how often I’d use it so I thought I’d try the DIY route.

I bought all the materials from the dollar and craft stores: a plastic pitcher, twine, 5 sheets of black felt and a hot glue gun. I made sure the pitcher was wide enough and deep enough to accommodate my camera with my 18-105mm lens fully extended.


Cut the bottom off of the pitcher and leave the top edge in tact to ensure a smooth edge to butt up against the glass. Cut several pieces of black felt to cover the front end of the pitcher. Fold the pieces over the edge and hot glue them in place.

Then make the outer cover and flexible cowl that will be attached to the camera body. I test fit the felt around the pitcher and found that two pieces with the long edges sewn together would work best. Sew up both sides with a 5/8 seam leaving a 1″ opening on one side. This will allow you to accommodate the drawstring. Fold over 1/2″ of fabric and pin the fabric on the end with the gap. Sew 1/8″ from the bottom edge of the fold to leave room to pull the drawstring through. Turn the finished tube right side out with the seams on the inside and push the drawstring through with a safety pin. Knot the ends. Pull the finished felt tube over the pitcher and glue it in place. Cut pieces to fit the inside of the pitcher and glue them in place also.

You now have a cheap DIY tool ready for use the next time you need to shoot through glass! It really reduces reflections and color fringing. You can see the difference below.

Images courtesy of Pam R.

Photo Booth at Soho House

Like everything, the way we think of a term or product changes over the years. One example is the photo booth. What’s the first thing you think of? For me it’s the Christmas photo booth my co-worker and I set up when we had the company party at the CN Tower this year. It’s great fun to done masks, boas, fake lips and mustaches for an evening of revelry.

With Digital cameras, it makes things like this so quick and easy to pull off for any occasion. For this event, I was able to rent one LED continuous light and humongous studio Umbrella from my photography teacher. Once set up, people could take pictures with their cell phones. Those of us who had DSLR’s brought them that night. No, I was not the official photographer, and I tried to keep it that way.
Depending what age bracket you’re in, say 30 and over, you may remember you and your friends squishing into a tiny photo booth that took a strip of 4 images. When I was a kid, it cost $2.00. Though there are still photo booths in the malls, the price is now a hearty $4.00! Ok. Maybe it’s not THAT much. But I have to wonder how often they are actually used now in an age of smart phones and selfie sticks.

One such photo booth at Steam Whistle. During a field day workshop for Wedding Photography at Ryerson we all delighted in asking our Bride and Grooms to hustle themselves in there for many creative shots. Unfortunately, I think these photos have been lost when my hard drive died a few years back.
At the end of the exhibit, when we found out it was free, my co-worker and I commandeered the photo booth. We took 7 sheets of photos, that’s 44 photos in all. Within 3 minutes there were spat out, still a little sticky, but when were there not when they were freshly developed? The bottom of each sheet included a Soho House banner at the bottom, a nice reminder of where the photo booth was should you have been in a drunken stupor.

The same silliness of old came flooding back. Instead of being an adult, you were once again transported into a teen again. Look funny, stick out your tong out, look provocative, laugh out loud! Then there’s the tradition of picking and choosing amongst your friend which photos you’d like to keep for yourself. Can you remember any fun times at the mall with friends that involved the photo booth? Do you remember especially any photos you laughed so hard over you keeled over? Leave your memories in the comment section of this post.

Photo Booth image taken by Colleen