Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Keeping memories alive

Just as much as my wife enjoys photo scrapbooking, she loves spending time looking at old photos and scrapbooks. That is the big reason most people take photographs, but so many of us file the photos and memorabilia away and never spend the time enjoying them again. One of the factors is the sheer number of photos we now take with the ease-of-use of digital photography. I'm probably guilty of this and although I save a vast majority of photos I take, I only publish the very best. For me, photos like this one, helps me tell a story.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kids' driveway tennis photo break

Although my kids partake a lots of organized sports, simple make-do games around the house can keep them entertained for hours. Who needs centre court at Wimbledon when you have a small, sloped driveway in the front of your house, some chalk and two enthusiastic kids. I lay down on my back and had the kids stand over me for a more unusual point-of-view.

High stepping at Wasaga Beach

I love running into the water, trying not to fall down too quickly and end with a refreshing shallow dive and splash ! I'm happy to say my kids are in agreement - simple games in the water are lots of fun, not to mention it's a great workout.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kim Churchill, Buskerfest

It was the first year I made the time to go to Buskerfest on Front Street. Although the crowds and heat were tiring, I had a great time with my family and was really impressed by the quality of the entertainment. Kim is from Australia and had rigged his guitar with extra pickups and learnt to get drum sounds out of the guitar body...mix in some down home lyrics and you've gone one fantastic one man band.

This shot was a little tricky as it was such a bright day and he was in the shade under a tent. I used center weighted metering and added .3 EV to bring up the exposure.

Supergroups, Reunions and Solo Projects

Imported from My Life Is Like A Song (you can view post comments here)

I started this post months ago. When I first heard that Guy Berryman of Coldplay and Tim Rice-Oxley of Keane were joining separate supergroups.

Apparatjik is a group that consists of bassist Guy Berryman from Coldplay, guitarist/keyboardist Magne Furuholmen from a-ha and singer/guitarist Jonas Bjerre of Mew.

Mt. Desolation is a alt country group formed by Tim Rice-Oxley and Jesse Quin from Keane that consists of
Andrew Lowe - Bass
Fimbo - Drums
John Roderick - BVs, Guitar (from Long Winters)
Pete Roe - Keys, BVs
Tom Fiddle Hobden - Fiddle (from Noah and the Whale)
Jessica Staveley-Taylor - BVs
John-William Scott - Bass, Guitar
Phil Renna - Fiddle, Keys

and also feat:
Ronnie Vannucci - Perc, good vibes (from The Killers)
Country Winston Marshall - Banjo (from Mumford & Sons)
Charity Quin - BVs
Jayne Rice-Oxley - BVs
Francois Deville - Pedal Steel

I was quite excited that some musicians that I love would be coming out with more music (without breaking up their original bands), but my enthusiasm waned when I heard the first few songs they released. Just because I love Keane and Coldplay, it turns out that I don't necessarily love the music of Mt. Desolation and Apparatjik.

At that point, I let this post go...but I kept hearing of new collaborations or new solo projects. It frustrates me sometimes that I hear about an album release months before it's actually released. Sometimes, I forget about it when it actually does gets released.

So to help me remember about these new releases, I decided to finish this post.

Tired Pony is a group that features Gary Lightbody (of Snow Patrol), Richard Colburn (of Belle & Sebastian), Iain Archer, Jacknife Lee, Peter Buck (of REM), Scott McCaughey and Troy Stewart. It turns out that this is also a country inspired group. I remember reading that country music was becoming popular in Great Britain. I am NOT a country music fan, so this does not excite me...but I will give it a chance.

Before hearing Mt. Desolation, I did say that if anyone could get me to like country music, it would be Keane. I haven't loved the first few songs I have heard, but will keep giving it a try.

The best "supergroup" of the year has to be Broken Bells composed of artist-producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) and James Mercer from The Shins. High Road is one of the best songs of 2010 in my opinion.

Freebass consists of Peter Hook (New Order and Joy Division), Gary (Mani) Mounfield (The Stone Roses and currently in Primal Scream) and singer Gary Briggs (Haven). Andy Rourke (The Smiths) was originally involved, but may not involved with them at the moment. Years after first announcing the project, they have released an album and toured a few dates. In Canada, an EP Two Worlds Collide was just released a couple of weeks ago.

Beady Eye isn't really a supergroup...but I didn't know where else to include them. They consist of Oasis members minus Noel and are set to release a single in the fall followed by an album in early 2011.

Noel Gallagher is said to have been in the studio recording drums for an unnamed musician last week. Is this the beginning of another supergroup? Or will he go solo to continue the gigs he has been playing this year? Time will tell.

If some groups are mixing it up, other groups are having reunions.

Gavin Rossdale is rejoining Bush and releasing a new album in October.
Robbie Williams and Take That are getting back together.
Soundgarden have reunited and performed together.
Roxy Music will be touring next year.

And finally some singers are going on their own.

Brandon Flowers of The Killers will be releasing a solo album in September and playing concerts....but uggg, I should have completed this blog earlier. I just found out that he's performing at the Mod Club in Toronto on Wednesday. There was a contest to win tickets, but it's closed now. Oh well, if he comes back, I'll hopefully buy tickets. I can't complain. I saw The Killers from quite close last year and I won tickets to see Coldplay's buzz gig in 2005. I can't win them all. I quite like his first single so am looking forward to the album.

Fran Healy of Travis also has been touring on his own. After touring with Travis last year (which I saw at Sound Academy), he and Andy Dunlop toured for a while as a twosome (which I missed when they played The Mod Club) and now, Fran didn't want to stop. I saw him last month at Molson Amphitheatre in a mini festival. He's so great live and he followed the festival tour with a headlining tour including dates in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. He has a solo album coming out this fall and from the sounds of it at the concert, it will be great!

Not necessarily a band member going solo, but I read that Hugh Laurie recorded a blues album. If you're interested, you can do the research on this one ;-)

I read that Peter Hook will be taking Joy Division's classic album 'Unknown Pleasures' on a tour of the US. I'm not an expert on Joy Division but from my understanding he may have already been doing that in the UK. Again, if you're interested, check it out.

I am so relieved to finally finish this post. I'm sure that there are many other supergroups, reunions or solo projects so don't be surprised to see a part 2...but for now, I am happy to finally get all this written down and out of my head!

It's about time...

We were talking last night and said we should use this blog to simply keep our friends informed on concert listings they may have missed or tips on bands that may be new to many people, but who we think you'll like.  We agreed for this blog, content is king and prose can wait for another day.  So we'll try and keep the content coming, especially as we head into cooler weather and perhaps a rush of end of year releases.


  • Gorillaz at Air Canada Centre, Oct 14th.  Really looking forward to this one - I'm going with my son and have lower bowl seats.  I have a DVD of their Demon Days concert and the performance is wonderful.  With all the guest musicians and singers and orchestral elements I have no idea what this Toronto show is going to be like, but it's a must-see for me.
  • The Boxer Rebellion at Horseshoe, Sept 27th.  Getting some well deserved attention because of their inclusion on the Going the Distance soundtrack.  Pop melodies that could be compared to Coldplay.  We have tickets to this one.
  • Katie Mulua at The Mod Club, Sept 8th.  I've always liked her soft tunes and songwriting.  Not for everyone, a little Kate Bush mixed with Carole King perhaps.  She hasn't played hear ever/for a long time and has a new album coming out.  Perfect venue choice.
  • K'Naan and Shad at Koolhaus, Oct 1st.  By now, I hope you know you K'Naan is or at least have heard his massive hit Wavin' Flag.  We saw both K'Naan and Shad this year and they are now performing on the same bill in a few cities across Canada over the next few months. Highly recommended if you're into some local hip hop, strong songwriting and storytelling by some fantastic entertainers.  Unfortunately I'm out of town for this one.
  • The Charlatans at Lee's Palace, Sept 17th.  Old time Manchest'or survivors have a new album coming out.  Should be a lot of fun at one the hottest (literally) small venues in town.
A quick mention to some others with upcoming concerts in Toronto that caught my eye - lots of great tracks from everyone: Hot Hot Heat, MIA, OK GO, City and Colour with Tegan and Sara, Kele (of Bloc Party), Vampire Weekend, Tom Tom Club, Simian Mobile Disco, The XX, The Scissor Sisters and The Foals.

I'm still a little disappointed I missed Buckwheat Zydeco last week.  It made one NOW Magazine's shows of the week, but it coincided with my Wed night ultimate game.  Priorities got a little tangled.  If Buckwheat is coming to your town, make sure you see him !

Toronto Concert Venues

While I've been adding some interesting concert dates, I thought I'd also take this (early Saturday morning) opportunity to rank the most popular venues in Toronto as the venue often dictates whether I'm willing to pay good money for a concert or not.
  1. The Mod Club - perfect size, high stage, great sound, always a great atmosphere.  Lots of pre and post options in the Lil' Italy neighbourhood.
  2. The Horseshoe Tavern.  Old, dirty, low ceilings, hot and often too loud.  But you can't beat the energy of the old place and they let me in with my DSLR camera.
  3. Koolhaus - large, unseated, warehouse-like venue.   Large enough for some big name acts and decent light shows.
  4. Lee's Palace - fun old joint, good size, good viewing angles and decent sound.  Seems to attract a lot of once great bands coming back for an encore.
  5. Phoenix Concert Theatre - gets pretty jammed, pretty quickly, but hosts some great artists.  Sound is usually good, but security is very strict and lineups are often a problem.
  6. Molson Amphitheatre - large outdoor venue.  Sound is pretty poor from the lawn, but can be very good in the closer seats and in the general admission area.
  7. Air Canada Centre - large arena, ok sound if you're in the lower bowl or up front.
  8. Sound Academy - this place gets a lot of good artists, but the layout is all just wrong and the sound is suspect.  Above all, difficult to get to if you're not driving and if you are driving, a nightmare parking lot.

Friday, August 27, 2010

2 minutes for tree tripping

I was taking a variety of angles of these trees in my back yard while the evening lighting was just right. I took a shot of an old hockey stick close to the tree and thought it would spin the shot into something with some humour as the tree trunks looked like legs when I spun the camera around. I tried a few different compositions as the light was fading and grabbed this one and just had to invert the image to create this unusual back yard shot.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walk home towers

Walk home towers - #285/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
A quick shot of a few office towers walking home from the subway station. As with many architectural shots, it's often important to make sure vertical or horizontal lines are aligned nicely, so I was pretty happy here that I got it spot one without any post-editing. As summer winds down, I'm trying to take advantage of those "golden hours" after work.

Brandon Flowers @ the Mod Club

My wife wons tickets to Brandon Flowers' buzz gig at the Mod Club and she got us nice a close to see the Killers' lead sing his new solo material. As usual, DSLRs were not allowed so I had to take my chances with the Fuji point-and-shoot. This shot turned out quite nicely with the brighter spot light and Brandon show much he was enjoying his own gig in a small venue.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heading home in white

Heading home in white - #283/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I took quite a lot of shots today, but they were straight up shots capturing events of the day, without a lot of artistry. My wife and I went out for a late bite to eat and grabbed this shot on the way home. Luckily she was wearing a white top that worked perfectly on the dark street. I used my "nifty fifty" and a very high 1600 ISO setting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fire escape contrast

Fire escape contrast - #282/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Out and about at lunch close to my office, Massey Hall is a regular stop. I really like Massey Hall's black fire escapes, but the lines and details get lost against the dark brick hall. So this time, I got close to the hall and underneath one of the fire escapes and shot upwards to get some contrast against the building across the street and found some organic contrast and composition additive too with the street side tree.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don Yeomans' "Where Cultures Meet" with iPod

My wife is a big fan of the Group of Seven and she got us a family membership to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg this year. I visited the gallery and had a wonderful afternoon soaking in Group of Seven art along with an exhibition of Dorothy Knowles and landscape photography from Jim and Sue Waddington that match work from the Group of Seven.

Although photography in the gallery is restricted, there are some interesting pieces on the grounds and in the entrance hall. This piece from Don Yeomans I found interesting as it intersected traditional totem art with a modern materialism.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Italian flag ingredients

I cook Italian food quite often at home. The family enjoys pasta dishes and enjoy cooking with simple fresh ingredients. I set the shot up using Nikon's built multi-flash Commander mode. I hand held my Speedlight flash above and to the left of the subject and I lowered the power of the pop-up flash.

After choosing my favourite shot which was this tighter composition I noticed the distinct colours and was pleased that the composition coincidently matched the colours of the Italian flag.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Simpson's reflection of Old City Hall

I'm finding it challenging these days trying to find new subjects and angles in the vicinity of my office building. I glimpsed this reflection of Old City Hall in the bronze windows of The Simpson Tower on Queen Street. I like how the mirror's grid lines appear to mimic a viewfinder's grid.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Don Mills boy ghost

Don Mills boy ghost - #278/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
It was the first time I rode the Sheppard subway line today and took a few shots of Don Mills station. The colours were rather subdued but the lighting was quite sharp and I liked the pixelated patterns.

I slowed the shutter speed down to 1/15 sec to capture some motion and got lucky as I snapped the fast little boy in the frame.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tree foot

Tree foot - #277/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I see many old trees like this one when I'm walking my dog around our neighbourhood. I tried a few different angles, but I wasn't that pleased with the results. This shot was a rather simple straight on shot from across the road, but the way it turned out I think it kind of looks like a big tree foot. I used a medium f-stop to make sure detail of the whole tree was sharp and the front of the yard was in focus.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Happy early birthday Mom

My Mom is in town for the theatre and as I won't be with her to celebrate her birthday in a few days, I took her shopping with a stop in Yorkville for a little lunch and some people watching. I walked across the street to capture a telephoto pseudo-paparazzi shot and caught her as the wind picked up and messed with her hair. We had a lovely time and I think the shot captures her youthful looks and attitude.

I had a few challenges with this shot and keeping it "in-camera". The shot was a little overexposed and Nikon's D-Lighting feature couldn't help. Although I "trimmed" the shot in camera I still wanted to capture a full length shot of my Mom, but my backpack was rather distracting as it is bright red. Nikon's in-camera monochrome conversion to sepia came to the rescue. It got rid of my red backpack distraction and it seemed to help slightly with the exposure (although I know that's not possible, but it "appears" to have helped perhaps by some subtle sepia contrast effect).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Handcuffed police

Handcuffed police - #275/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I had my tasty and filling carnitas burrito as usual for lunch in preparation for my evening ultimate game at Chipotle Mexican Grill which is nice and close to my office. I noticed quite a few police officers in line for their Mexican lunchtime fix and when I came out I saw all their bikes locked up safely with their handcuffs.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wired and green cityscape

I used to walk this way to work everyday when I lived close to Casa Loma over 10 years ago. I stopped by today hoping to get a shot of the storm that passed by but my timing was a little off. But I did find this angle which shows the typical Toronto skyline and our lovely city trees, with some wires and cables which I thought created some unusual lines.  I often get annoyed with the amount of overhead wires ruining the shot in Toronto, so why not focus on the wires instead.

The kids are back in town

My kids returned home from a week at camp today. They told me lots of great stories about their week and all the friends they met - odd feeling really not being their to witness it all. For the shot, I took one test snap, then this shot. From working a little more with flash recently, I dialed back the tone setting back to auto to reduce the chance of over-saturation, then used a 45 degree angled bounce flash and composed the shot. Oh yeah, and I'm lucky that I have kids that are pretty photogenic.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fashion free Friday

Fashion free Friday - #272/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Night was drawing on my day once again without a daily shot, so I grabbed the light from his shop while my wife and I were out walking the dog.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Marshes sculpture

The Marshes sculpture - #271/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
If you enjoy playing or watching golf on TV, you may appreciate the artistry of golf courses. This was taken from my hotel window early morning.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lobby Porsche

Lobby Porsche - #270/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
This is the lobby of the hotel where I was staying in Ottawa. I thought the tropical greenery and large windows provided some nice lighting for the Porsche.

Brookstreet night colour

To get this night shot of the hotel where I was staying in Ottawa, I held my camera steady against a lamp post and used a high 1250 ISO setting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brookstreet pear

Brookstreet pear - #268/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I usually stay at the Brookstreet hotel when I'm visiting our offices in Kanata. It's a wonderful, modern hotel and has very reasonable rates. They have complimentary pears often available at the reception desk and on each floor's elevator waiting area. Nice, classy touch which I always take advantage of !

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Eyes for home

Eyes for home - #267/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I love my wife's eyes. I like the tone, her smile and the casual composition after a long day on the road. She was happy to be home.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Roundabout Kap

Roundabout Kap - #266/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I slowed the shutter down a little to capture the motion blur and then just snapped away trying to perfect the timing and composition.

Remi chalet

Remi chalet - #265/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Just enough light at dusk to capture some details of the beach and my in-law's cottage on Remi Lake in Northern Ontario. I used my mini-tripod, but had to lie on my belly on the dock to set the shot up. The slow shutter speed did an okay job capturing a little fog coming off the still water.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Raspberry highlights

Raspberry highlights - #264/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
My father-in-law loves picking berries around his Northern Ontario home. I used my 4x close-up filter and natural light from the window.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Contemplating Remi Lake

I used this dock for many family portraits during our stay by Remi Lake in Northern Ontario. I really liked the lighting later in the day and chose this shot as I thought it was a little more thought provoking.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Jean Jacques

Jean Jacques - #262/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
My father-in-law thought I'd be interested in meeting his old friend Jean Jacques because he'd just finished building his own airplane. I couldn't imagine building something so significant in my life and I've always loved airplanes, so I grabbed my camera and eagerly jumped at the opportunity to meet Jean Jacques.

Jean Jacques is 80 years old and after 4 years of construction, has completed building his own airplane. He told me a lot about the difficulty of reading the engineering directions and starting out in his basement workshop. He persevered through the directions and only needs his registration completed before he can take it for a maiden flight. Like many of the projects he's undertaken in his life, he's now rather disappointed the construction is complete, I could see in his eyes he's already thinking of his next project.

After our discussion about the airplane, he took us inside to meet his wife Fleurette. I was immediately impressed by their beautiful wooden home and wasn't that surprised to learn Jean Jacques had built it too.

We talked about lots of different subjects, including languages, travelling, technology and photography. We talked a lot about the 100 Stranger project and I told them many stories about the strangers I'd met. Looking around their home, you can tell Fleurette and Jean Jacques keep up with technology very well for their years - I even commented on their stereo system which had a vertically aligned turntable. Fleurette spends a lot of time on the internet and feels lost if she loses her connection. When I asked where they'd like their picture taken for my 100 Stranger project, she decided that beside her computer would be perfect.

We picked some apples off their trees before saying our thank yous and goodbyes. I really enjoyed my visit with this wonderful old couple and hope to see them again on a future visit to Northern Ontario.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Ford truck family fun

Ford truck family fun - #261/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I was sitting in the back yard chatting with the family and looked over to my father-in-law's Ford truck. I suggested it would make a good setting for a family shot and luckily everyone was game and very patient as I set up the shot and we tried different poses. I really like this fun shot and intend to do some Photoshop work to blur/replace the background to make it look like we were driving along the road !

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Taylor Made versus the weeds

Close to my in-laws cottage, we used to go to this mini-putt quite often. Sadly, the business has closed, but the course remains, although rather neglected with uncut grass, sprouting weeds and less than ideal putting surfaces. It didn't bother my son who got us to play a round !