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Challenging Digital Media: The Performing Arts

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Challenging Digital Media: The Performing Arts is a conference taking place in (my home town) Stratford, Ontario, Canada. The conference is billed as "an international community of artists, creators, producers, developers and visionaries as we explore how the performing arts are pushing the boundaries of digital technologies and shaping innovative artistic experiences."

The first day featured some fascinating presentations including: the intersection of technology and the arts, the concept of the missing half-second, the Hexagon Project and a telementoring session between a teacher in Stratford and a musician (trumpet) in New York City.

Here are a few quick photos from the event.

17-55mm, 1/50 second, f/2.8, ISO 1600

17-55mm, 1/15 second, f/2.8, ISO 1600

17-55mm, 1/30 second, f/2.8, ISO 1600


VisualDNA: New York Times Personality Test

Monday, September 26, 2011

Like many people, I get a kick out of taking online tests. They usually serve as a nice momentary break from doing work. I suppose some people would call that procrastination. ;)

I recently took the New York Times Personality Test, powered by VisualDNA. Here was the result:

You're a Tech Guru

You are open-minded and always on the lookout for new ideas. Your modernist point of view means that you are often fascinated in evolving ideas whether it be in the form of the latest piece of gadgetry or an avant-guard piece of artwork. When all is said and done, you are a bit of an intellect with a tendency to do a spot of soul searching from time to time.

You have an inquisitive mind and possess an irresistible urge to experiment with everything around you. You're a real get-up-and-go kind of person who likes to keep at least one finger on the pulse of everything that's hot and happening from the latest movies and sport to the coolest technologies and gadgets. A true entertainment junkie, there's no chance of you ever getting bored and you're always the first to get your hands on some shiny new gizmo that's going to revolutionize your life. You have a realistic outlook on what you can achieve and enjoy attention to detail in most aspects of your life.

Try it out for yourself:


TEDxToronto 2011 After Party Photo Booth

Monday, September 26, 2011

Toronto recently held it's version of the TED conference, otherwise known as TEDx. Christened TEDxToronto, the conference "is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level."

I was asked by TEDxToronto volunteer Eric Portelance to run the conference's Official After Party photo booth.  These events are always fun to photograph, so I jumped at the chance to do it!

I brought my Elinchrom studio lights and a backdrop rig while the organizers supplied the backdrop and some fun props for people to use when getting their photo taken. Props always seem to break the ice for even the most camera shy individuals.

Special thanks to Eric for the invitation and organizers Andrea Liew, Lisa Pozhke and Satish Kanwar for their awesome assistance during the event!

The full set of photos can be seen on the TEDxToronto Facebook Page. A few samples can be seen below.


Alanna Foell

Friday, September 16, 2011

Yesterday I did a photo shoot with Alanna Foell at an abandoned candy factory in London, Ontario.

17-55mm, 1/50 second, f/2.8, ISO 1600

I met Alanna, a great photographer in her own right, through my friend and former podcast co-host Ren Bostelaar. I soon found out that Alanna and I grew up on farms that were basically a stone's throw from each other in southwestern Ontario! Yes, that's a tattoo of the world on Alanna's left arm.

17-55mm, 1/40 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 500


Ten Years Gone: Reflections on 9/11

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Here we are, ten years after that fateful September day when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked by terrorists hijacking commercial planes. Like millions have done today, I took time to think about the events of 9/11 and where I was (both physically and figuratively) in my own life. I also thought about how a significant date becomes a marker in time for annual reflection.

On September 11, 2001, I was working as a Web Developer at my first technology job, an eLearning start-up. My morning routine consisted of arriving at work shortly after 9:00am, reading a bit of news, grabbing an almond vanilla coffee, then doing research or web programming until lunch. The first website I would launch was Slashdot. I typed their URL into Mozilla (yes, I was an early adopter of their fledgling browser) and waited for the website to load. Sensing something was wrong with our servers (given Slashdot's established uptime reliability), I asked a co-worker if our company Internet connection was having issues. He said a plane or missle had hit the World Trade Center and rumours of it being a terrorist attack was causing extreme Internet congestion. Slashdot eventually loaded with some brief snippets of news about the attacks. Google's home page was the only other online source for small tidbits of news. Every other major website was down.

For the previous five years, the eleventh day of September had a different meaning for me than most people. My Mom died on September 11, 1995 after a short battle with cancer. For the next five years, I would wake up on that date with thoughts of her heavy on my mind. I would lose concentration throughout the day reflecting on my life with her in it and the gaping wound her absence had created.

But now, the bastards had stolen the date from me.

The bastards stole it from thousands that day. They created grief and loss where it didn't have to exist. Family members were lost in the attacks when they should have come home that night. Kids needlessly lost their parents. As David Letterman put it (during his first Late Show episode after the attacks): "if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any goddamned sense?"

There was no stopping the cancer that took my Mom from us. It was heartless, savage and unrelenting. It proceeded with one goal in mind - to destroy life. When medicine gave up, my Dad stepped in and did everything he could to stop the cancer. There were a few successes, but eventually she lost the battle and we were left to pick up the pieces.

The people that suffered during (and after) 9/11 shouldn't have had to endure the same sense of loss and tragedy as myself and my family.

Humanity is capable of such amazing things. In 2008, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was directed to photograph the Phoenix Lander during its descent onto to the Martian surface. This is what we're really capable of accomplishing.

Creative Options in Waterloo, my location during the 9/11 attacks. I returned here today to grab a photo.
10-22mm, handheld HDR, f/8.0, ISO 100


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