Packing Heat

One of the gallery rooms at the G20/20 showOne of the rooms at the Hindsight’s G20/20 exhibit

I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but if the open mic portion of the Hindsight’s G20/20 exhibit goes ahead today, here is what I would say:

There is a town in Europe that at one time as a tourist attraction, would put on a life-size chess game once a year. The part of the chess pieces would be played by living people dressed in costumes, white or black, appropriate to the piece. The chess board was appropriately large, of course. The actual chess game however was a reenactment of a game from a few hundred years ago, so the outcome was predetermined. There would be no surprises, everyone knew what they were supposed to do, and were constrained by moves hundreds of years old.  In a sense, everyone was a pawn.

I have felt in the past that protest marches in Canada have often been like that; everyone knew their role, invisible boundaries and unwritten rules would be observed, whether by protesters or police, and at the end of protest nothing would have really changed.

The impact G20 protests are helping to change that, not because of the police brutality, or the childish actions of the so-called Black Block, but because of the overwhelming presence protesters and observers, armed with cameras and video recorders, many linked to social networks. Citizen journalists all, who turned the surveillance society back on itself, as the authorities ended up under the microscope of thousands of lenses. The police have lost the advantage of plausible deniability; it is almost impossible for them to brutalize  and then claim it never happened.

The lens is a more powerful weapon in the long run than teargas, billy clubs or bullets, whether rubber or lead. When it comes to the camera, we have the right to bear arms, and thus we need to be “packing heat” every time we step outside our homes.

I’ll finish by co-opting a slogan from the NRA: You can have my camera when you pry it from my cold dead hands.


The Ghost Bike

People used to say “the camera never lies.” Nonsense. The world is 3-D, cameras for the most part are 2-D. The world (for humans at least) is in colour, and photographs are often in black and white. I would go so far as to say that what makes a photograph special is how it differs from reality, and that the difference directly informs what the photographer is trying to say in an image.

The image below is unrealistic. It is black and white, and deliberately underexposed to bring out the white bicycle and roses, which where in fact a temporary monument to cyclists killed on Toronto streets earlier this year.  (The monument has since been removed.)  For the subject matter, the non-realism I added to the image for me captures a tragic reality, and that’s as real as it gets.


Bicycle Memorial, Toronto

Time-Warp Tuesday: The Eternal Summer

This week’s time warp doesn’t go back as my other time warps to date.  The image below is not even analog film, but a digital image created in late summer, 2004 using my old Canon Digital Rebel. The picture is a portrait of my niece, sitting on the deck of my sister’s cottage.


In Canada, summer is a temporary, uncertain season; we know that the inevitable shadow of winter is lurking beneath the horizon. But for a moment, whether the moment that is summer or the seeming moment that is childhood, time can stand still, allowing us to contemplate the peace, contentment and joy of that fleeting time.

In the six years that have passed, we have known plenty of winter in the relentless passing of time; childhood has been left behind, loved ones have passed away, and summer has often seemed distant. At least a photograph allows us to perceive a visual echo of a perfect, eternal moment.

Photo Exhibit: Hindsight’s G20/20

I thought I would put in a reminder/plug for an art exhibit featuring G20-related work by a number of photographers (including me!!) this coming weekend called Hindsight’s G20/20, at Studio 561 in Toronto. There is also a Facebook event listing for this exhibit.

This is the first time any of my work has been part of an exhibition, so I am quite excited!! What’s also fun is doing relatively large prints of some of my photographs of what I saw on that unique day.

Tools of the Trade

What wasn’t fun was cutting mat boards for the prints. Thanks need to go to my wife, who is better with sharp objects than I am 🙂

I’ll be at the exhibit at various points during the weekend, so I hope to see you there!

Icon or Eyesore?

From the beginning, the crystal addition to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto has been a source of controversy.  Some people like it, and many people (probably the majority) consider it an eyesore. For the record, I actually like it, and the way it is juxtaposed against a more traditional building. From a photography point of view, it is a most interesting subject!

No Right Angles

Nikkormat FT2, Tokina 35-105mm lens, Ilford XP2+ film


I love reflections, especially reflections that create distortion: geometry and optics become a plaything, and all I do is capture photons at play.

This image is of reflections on a building in downtown Toronto, not far from the Ontario Art Gallery. I am reminded a bit of Escher; if I stare at this image long enough the shapes and angles almost seem to ripple.


One technical point about the photo; I used my just acquired Nikon N90s to create this picture. Little more than 10 years ago, the street price of a N90s body was around $1,000. I got my somewhat beat-up but perfectly functional specimen for about $50 on eBay.

Obsolescence rocks!!! 🙂