Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Iced tree and bench

Iced tree and bench - #48/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Jack Campbell

I was watching the end of The Family Man the other night.  Nick Cage plays jack Campbell is this wonderful "what's important in life" story.  The next morning I overhear that Jack Campbell had a great game as goalie for the US junior hockey team.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Fuchsia crown, empty glasses and Christmas games

Winter Garden glow

Winter Garden glow - #43/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

We went to see the Robin Hood Pantomime today at the wonderful Elgin Winter Garden with the whole family - great fun and perfect for Christmas eve, perhaps a new tradition -

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cello fellow

Cello fellow - #41/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

A rather serious cellist playing along to a Beatles soundtrack.

Self portrait

Self portrait - #40/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I notice that a lot of photographers take self-portraits and since I wasn't too happy with a limited choice for my daily pic, I set up the tripod and tried to apply some tips I've learned from sites like Digital Photography School. I tried a few different poses and compositions, but decided this one was the best, technically and I was happy with my smile and the look in my eyes. The most difficult aspect of taking your own picture is focus, especially when you're working with quite a shallow depth of field as is the case here. I decided to keep the camera on autofocus and I used a remote shutter release. The one feature of my D80 I did use which I don't think I've ever really used is selecting the specific focus zone - in this case top-medium-right, which I hoped gave me the best chance of getting my eyes in focus. Lucky I didn't have anything between my teeth !

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Drake Hotel

My brother and sister-in-law will be arriving for Christmas in a few days and we're going out for dinner and drinks.  So I'm thinking about West Queen West, with a stop at The Drake Hotel for drinks later in the evening.  Today, with no direct connection, The Drake Hotel added me as a contact on Flickr.  They follow the Toronto group so that's probably where they found me, but still, too much of a coincidence.

DJ Hero

My son got DJ Hero for the 13th birthday gift last week.  A few nights after his birthday I was winding up the day channel surfing and I picked up the DJ Hero box to review the game features.  Just as I did that, the DJ Hero commercial appears on TV (and I'd never seen it before).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Your table awaits

Your table awaits - #38/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Da Gianni e Maria Trattoria on St. Clair West.

Olympic Heights

Olympic Heights - #37/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

An athlete performs during the Olympic torch ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DJ Hero

DJ Hero - #36/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
It was my son's 13th birthday today and we bought him DJ Hero, the new interactive music game (Playstation). Similar concept to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but very different music content. I really like it (although my wrist is already sore after just a few turns), probably because I used to DJ (campus radio, CKMS - U Waterloo) and had aspirations of club DJ'ing over the years. Plus I enjoy the beats from hip hop remixes. Music has always been a big passion of mine (fighting with photography for my attention these days) and I was always the one making mix tapes in the day...and that's where I got my alias PJMixer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Mark - #35/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Mark is an old friend of mine and when he asked for a co-pilot for his Holiday Helpers ( deliveries a few weeks ago I jumped at the opportunity to do a little for those less fortunate than us this Christmas time. We had a great morning and made 4 deliveries of trees, decorations and gifts to two families and 2 young single mothers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Metropolitan United Church

Note - one small cheat on this "inCamera" shot, I straightened the shot slightly - I found it very tough to get it level, especially in very cold conditions today.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Gladwell goes Private

I'm really enjoying Malcolm Gladwell's new collection of articles - What the Dog Saw.  The article I was reading today discusses the invention of The Pill and more interesting the mistake the inventor made.  In true Gladwell big brain thinking style, the article delves deep into related fields, in this case, cancer.  He also talks about the circular design of The Pill's case and it's significance.

I pop downstairs in the evening and catch a few minutes of one of my wife's favourite TV shows - Private Practice.  There's a scene where one of the doctor's slyly hands the familiar looking, circular Pill case to a Jewish lady for medical and perhaps contraceptive reasons.

Haven't thought about The Pill for a long time and there it is "popping out" twice in one day. 

Slush - Tracks - Bike

Slush - Tracks - Bike - #29/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The urban beauty of leafless trees and early darkness

Sure, fading daylight naturally comes with the fall of the leaves from our trees.  But for this urbanite, I've been noticing how beautiful the city is this time of year.  I've been taking my dog for walks in my North Toronto neighbourhood almost daily and the lack of leaves on the trees reveal some of the beautiful homes in this old and well kept part of our city.  In the early evening, the darkened residential streets, unmasked of tree foliage, produce a perfect backdrop to the welcoming glow of a house awaiting its owners return.  You add the occasional aroma of a wood burning fireplace and in a few weeks, the crunch of crisp snow underfoot, and you have a picture perfect winter neighbourhood walk.  In warmer months, seeing neighbours working on the yards or enjoying a patio provides the neighbourhood feel, but in the darker months, the homes themselves take on the character of the street, displacing the homeowner, but seem to provide an warm invitation for the passerby.

I'm also driving downtown once a week for an indoor ultimate [frisbee] at Lamport Stadium, and I'm enjoying the beauty of our busy night time street scenes. I'm thinking that for many reasons, a true city is at its best at night.  For a business focused city like Toronto, the day just shows us the work life of Torontians and our suburban neighbours.  But as soon as the clock strikes five, the city begins to transform into a living, social and artistic canvas.  You add the reflective properties of a damp and glistening street and you can be driving through a stellar light show.  Catching sight of friends chatting on the street, mates gathering at a local bar, or romantic couples in a cozy cafe, makes me want to pull over and soak up that urban life.  But with an appropriate accompanying soundtrack (urban, hip hop and electronic for upbeat hours and jazz for later hours) and a warm car, you can appreciate your city in a different way - taking in big slices of urban life, with the ever-changing lighting of the street scape, along with the constant trail of car taillights, sprinkled with sites of locales that trigger memories of your time with the city.

I love the oranges of the warm cafe, the bright whites of the mega billboards that temporarily turn a corner to day, the silhouetted office worker high up in his tower, the brick glow of history's landmarks, the faint din of music coming from a club or the rattle of a street car, and the neon pulses that are our city's heartbeat.  And over the last few weeks, the Christmas decorations and lighting have added to the blaze and colour on our city streets.  And don't forget those special Christmas shop window displays

On a somewhat related note, I have a strong feeling that black must be the predominant clothing colour these days.  The fashion of the youngster masses definitely skews the noir balance, but the preference for the ultra dark seems to span all walks of life.  Is this just a city thing ?  Is it a seasonal byproduct ?  Whatever it is, I don't like it.  Come on people, show some individuality, lighten up these dark nights and add some fresh colour to our often too somber world.

It may be my focus on photography these days is opening my eyes to new angles, interesting lighting and beauty of our everyday places, but I'm enjoying the beauty of the city as we close in our Christmas.  If you love city life, if you love this city, bundle up and go for a walk a night around your nighbourhood or get comfy and warm in your car and take a drive around your city.  If you want some iPod soundtrack recommendations for your nightime urban tour let me know, I've got lots of ideas.

Downtown Home

Downtown Home - #28/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Patient - #26/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Well Kooper wasn't that patient with me today as I was trying to get my picture of the day, but he was for this shot.

The big story today was that I had another problem with my 8GB SanDisk Ultra II SD card. I'm not certain what the problem was/is and I've only had problems over the last few days. How sensitive are these SD cards, could a gentle clasp between my teeth do serious damage ? But today, not only did I lose this picture, I lost a whole bunch of shots of my brother-in-law's 40th birthday party. I almost cried when I got home as I was (by default) the primary photographer for the party. I felt horrible, embarrassed, an idiot, and much worse. But I thought - I've heard about data recovery software, there could be SD card recovery software that may work. I did a quick search and found many choices, but I felt a little uncomfortable downloading an app without a personal recommendation. But I wanted this hell to be over as soon as possible so I trusted the user testimonials and downloaded Cardrecovery - It was advertised as a free download, but of course there was a catch (or I didn't read the fineprint). After downloading the software and letting it scan by card, it showed me all the found (previously lost) images. That was their sales pitch - I could see my lost images ! At this point, I would have almost paid anything, so I made the required purchase (CAD$44) to complete the recovery process and low and behold I can now have a good night's sleep. Cardrecovery saved the day.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

My new muse

My new muse - #25/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Tough day behind the camera today. I went out to the movies with my daughter and took my camera along. Right at my corner there's was a student jazz band playing on the street - but I forgot to put my SD card back in the camera. Then later in the day (after I made a pit stop at home and put the card back in the camera) I run out to do a few errands and take my camera along for my daily pick before dark. I saw an old wood paneled Buick station wagon in a alley with a fire escape and some nice lighting. Took quite a lot of shots...but for some very odd reason when I got home, the photos weren't on the SD card. I'm still baffled. Temperature ? Accidental delete bag button press? So, it's getting late and I'm looking for my shot of the day and my 7 month old Australian Shepherd is just chilling out at my wife's feet. He is my new muse, never complains about having his picture taken, has a natural high contrast coat, comes up with some interesting poses and has soulful eyes. My family helped pick this shot over the next next one as the pose was some adorable.

My Mom and My Dog

My Mom and My Dog - #24/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009