Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

My First Paid Gig

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Well, it finally happened – someone gave me money to take pictures of them! My friend Tammy needed new headshots and I needed a first client. Perfect.

Tammy was looking for something to use on her various online profiles, especially her professional profile on LinkedIN. For that reason, she wanted something appropriate as a business portrait but a little more interesting than your standard charcoal-background studio portrait. We decided that an outdoor shoot in business attire would be an interesting combination that would suit her needs.

Here are the best five photos:

For those of you who read this blog who are “real” professional portrait photographers, I’d love to get your honest feedback on these.

An Impromptu Photodrive

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Driving home from St. Catharines this afternoon, I decided to make an effort to stop several time when something caught my eye. It was like a photowalk – but in my car. These are the result.

Cruise Night – a love affair with curves

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

20120704_CRC338120120704_CRC337820120704_CRC3439I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that I like about photographing the cruise nights in Galt on Wednesday nights. You can see previous posts here and here. On previous occasions it has been the colours I’ve noticed most, but this week it was all about the curves. There were several Corvettes from the mid-sixties present this week and if ever there was a car with great curves, it’s a pre-1980 Vette!

I was surprised at the number of folks who showed up because it was very hot and sweaty that night – even at 8pm. Lots of people milling about makes it difficult to get wide shots and even the closeups are sometimes ruined by a reflection of bystanders. I have found, though, that you can only really appreciate the curves when you get really close. From ten feet away a ’68 Vette is just a beautiful car but at ten inches it’s a beautiful curve contained within another curve.

The wednesday night cruise nights have rekindled my love affair with cars. Twenty years ago, though, it was about horsepower and cubic inches. I have now discovered the art of automotive – and you have to get up close to see it.

You can see the full set of cruise night photos, including the 18 from this week, in this set on Flickr:

Canada Day 2012 — Fireworks!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

20120701_CRC325220120701_CRC3254This past Sunday was Canada Day which, of course, means fireworks. My mom lives on the 12th floor of a building that just happens to overlook Riverside Park where the fireworks are set off. It has, naturally, become a tradition to gather the family there to watch the fireworks.

I was determined to get some proper photos the fireworks this year since, for the first time, I had all the equipment I should need: camera+lens, tripod, remote. Rather than just “spray and pray” at flickering lights in the sky, I did some research. I didn’t want to screw this up and have to wait a year to try again! This article from DPS was the most help with 10 distinct tips plus a bunch more from readers. There are several other good articles on the subject as well. Google is your friend.

To say that I’m pleased with the results would be an understatement. Throwing all modesty aside, I got some really great shots. Even better, though, I learned a ton and will be better prepared next year.

20120701_CRC3265The photos are most interesting to me because they don’t represent at all what we actually saw. Take the photo on the left for example. We didn’t see all of the red, white, and blue elements all together. (My American wife loves that it’s red, white, & blue). We saw a white flash at the bottom, red streaks upwards, and then blue sparks at the top. We saw a sequence of colour and light. The camera captured the entire sequence in a single image with a 3-second exposure. I don’t think any of the three elements would have been particularly interesting on their own. Put together, however, they make for a striking image.

For the photo-geeks among us, this was shot at 28mm, f/20, 2.9 second exposure. I should also note, for those who drool over pricey lenses, that all of these images were shot through my fifteen-year-old 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G lens that I paid $25 for at a used camera shop. EXIF info for every shot is available on Flickr.

Here’s a slideshow of the full set of fireworks photos:

Cruise Night #2

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Since my first cruise night post, I’ve been down a few more times and snapped a few more shots. The cars make great subjects because they tend to sit still for you. ;)





Malawi: Day Twelve

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

20120502-DSC_6029Ok, be honest. How many of you noticed that I skipped day twelve? I’m sure you were all just too polite to say anything…

20120502-DSC_6043Our only full day in the Zomba area began with a trip to the Domasi Likuni Phala production facility. Likuni phala is a fortified maize flour that has certain nutrients added to make it a more balanced food. The Domasi facility was started by World Vision Canada in 2001 but has been wholly owned and operated by BSHDC since 2008 – which is convenient as it is located on the Domasi CCAP Mission itself.

20120502-DSC_607420120502-DSC_614620120502-DSC_6154After seeing the milling process and learning a bit about small-scale flour production, it was on to our next stop, H. Parker Sharp Medical Centre, also located on the Domasi Mission. This was perhaps the most troubling visit of all. While parts of Ndirande were worse off, there was always an air of hope there. H. Parker Sharp was the first time, twelve whole days in, that we experience a sense of hopelessness. The maternity ward had recently closed due to a lack of resources forcing women to walk or get transport to another hospital many miles away. The clinic still looked after the needs of the children from the schools located on the mission – but it seemed only just barely.

20120502-DSC_6171We returned to Naming’azi for a rather somber lunch after our visit to H. Parker Sharp before heading out again to visit a village that was having an “open house” of sorts to celebrate the livlihood programs that BSHDC was providing. The phrase “Open House” doesn’t quite match what we saw when we arrived. There were over a hundred men, women, and children dancing and laughing and generally having a good old-fashioned block party, Malawian-style! There was a shaded area for the VIPs (evidently there would presentations and speeches) but we were somewhat relieved to discover that we were the second-tier dignitaries. Eight of the local village chiefs would also be attending the event – which is apparently quite a big deal.

20120502-DSC_6198We were treated to presentations outlining each of the BSHDC livelihood programs present in the area – and the senior chief even tried his hand at sewing which brought howls of laughter from everyone – especially the women! When the speeches were done, we, along with two dozen or so villagers, walked a few hundred metres to a small farming plot where we learned about the benefits of growing sweet potatoes versus maize.

20120502-DSC_6236The excitement and energy of this community was just what we needed to see after the morning’s visit. We laughed and danced our way back to the coaster (well, some of us did) and headed “home” to Naming’azi. On the way, we made one more stop to hear a personal story of the “goat program.” Under this system, qualifying families are given a female goat – the only condition is that they must give the first-born female goat to a neighbour – arranged through BSHDC – and that goat starts the process again. We heard how a single goat (and its progeny) would allow a family to send its children to school – or provide enough income and food to simply sustain a family.

Malawi: Day Eleven

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

20120501-DSC_5638Today we said goodbye to Likhubula and Mulanje – but not before spending 3+ hours hiking up the mountain to the waterfall. The views were breathtaking and the waterfall itself was beautiful. The members four of our group from Trinity Presbyterian in Winnipeg braved the cold water and went for a dip.

20120501-DSC_6000After lunch it was back on the coaster and onwards to Zomba (north of Blantyre) where we would stay for two nights. We arrived at Naming’azi Farm and Training Centre just as dusk was approaching – but we had time for a tour of the property and a look at the various crops and animals being grown and raised there. There is a local connection to Naming’azi – it was founded by David and Miriam Barrie of Cambridge, Ontario where I live! Dave and Miriam were PCC missionaries to Malawi many years and have maintained a close connection with the country since then.

Malawi: Day Ten

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

20120430-DSC_5392We were up & ready earlier than usual on this Monday morning so Rev. Ted Creen and I took the opportunity to walk the few hundred metres from our chalet to the Likhubula Pools – it’s a gorgeous spot. Then we were on the bus and headed into Mulanje.

20120430-DSC_540720120430-SDC15735Our first stop was Apatsa School – an off-shoot of the Mulanje Mission – where 150 children, mostly orpans, are educated and fed. Presbyterian World Service & Development pays for the tuition, books, shoes and uniform for up to seventy-five students. The school was started by three retired Malawian teachers and these three women – now in their seventies – are still running the school day-to-day. To say that they are amazing women doesn’t begin to describe them.

When we arrived, the children had prepared several presentations including songs, dramas, and “acrobatics”. They then went to their classes where members of the PCC group were invited to help out with the various lessons. The children were then fed a meal of nsima porridge and it was suddenly time to say goodbye.

20120430-DSC_5528We stopped in Mulanje for lunch where we had what must be the best pizza in Africa. The group was glad to lounge a bit while our lunch was prepared. While the temperatures were not terribly hot (mid-20s celsius) the intensity of the sun so close to the equator can be quite tiring.

20120430-DSC_5565After lunch, we visited the Mulanje Mission Hospital where we given a tour and a presentation on the healthcare situation in Malawi. To protect the privacy of patients, of course, there aren’t many photos of the hospital.

20120430-DSC_5571Our last stop of the day was a village that is a member of the Uchembere Network. The Network, a project of the Blantyre Synod, that “aims to attain sustained comprehensive integrated Sexual and Reproductive Health services that are accessible, acceptable, effective and safe to individuals, couples and communities.” Each participating village has an Uchembere committee and this was the group we met with. They explained how the Network had helped improve maternal and reproductive health by encouraging births to happen in hospital and by discouraging teenage or other unplanned pregnancies.

Malawi: Days Eight and Nine

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The weekend in the middle of our trip was a “home visit” weekend. This meant that each member of the group was paired with a member of one of the CCAP churches in the City of Blantyre Presbytery. Most of the team were extremely nervous about this experience – but the anxiety had very little to do with being Malawi. Most just didn’t feel comfortable staying with strangers.

20120428-DSC_494520120428-DSC_507320120428-DSC_5095After being picked up by our host families on Friday evening, the group gathered together again on Saturday morning to participate in an orphan-feeding program at one of the churches. Most of the host families joined us as we prepared nsima and “all the fixins” for about 165 children.

Saturday afternoon was spent with our host families and/or churches. Arminta and I were lucky enough to be staying together with a host family from Michiru CCAP. Stephen and Annie Kamwendo were great hosts and we had lots to talk about and share with one another. The most shocking moment came when we realized that while my grandfather was teaching at Blantyre Secondary School (BSS) from 1965 to 1967, Stephen was a student attending nearby HHI (H. Henderson Institute). Due to Stephen’s involvement on the football team, he was at BSS quite often – and knew my grandfather. Let me say that one more time. The husband of our host family knew my grandfather 45 years ago. Amazing.

Back to Saturday afternoon – after a very nice lunch a local Italian restaurant, we were taken on a tour of the neighbourhood around Michiru CCAP by the Session clerk. We saw the primary school that the church is building and then the church itself.

Malawi: Day Six… and Seven

Friday, May 18th, 2012

20120426-DSC_4756By the time we approached the end of the first week, I was clearly exhausted. It wasn’t clear to me then, mind you, but when I look at the photos for Thursday and Friday, well, the low number of photos alone tells me I was tired. What photos I did take are not good at all – well, most of them aren’t. I took so few photos on these two days that I’ve combined them into a single post – but still with separate sets and slideshows.

20120426-DSC_4762Thursday morning we went back into Ndirande to visit Malabata Health Centre, a BSHDC owned and operated private health-care clinic. This was our first glimpse of health-care without doctors and it was staggering. We saw the maternity ward and a new in-patient care wing. Beyond the complete lack of doctors, a chronic shortage of medications makes caring for patients extremely difficult if not impossible.

20120427-DSC_4827For lunch and the rest of the afternoon, we were back at BSHDC headquarters in Blantyre talking about HIV/AIDS strategies and the impact of BSHDC programs. There are so many factors contributing to the epidemic – from health infrstructure to cultural traditions to illiteracy to poverty – that it is difficult to imagine how the BSHDC staff feel that they can make any difference at all. One thing is clear, however, they do believe they can make a difference and are passionate about doing just that.

20120427-DSC_4906On Friday morning, the group split up again to visit two Community-Based Childcare Centres. Similar to the children’s corners, groups of children played educational games, learned songs, practiced English and Chichewa and, most importantly, had a meal of nsima porridge made from maize flour.

Friday afternoon was spent packing and preparing for our home visits. Each member of our group had been paired with a family from one of the congregations in the Blantyre City Presbytery and we were due to be picked up in the late afternoon. More on that experience in the next post.