A painting of me

Paris 2024

   27 February 2024, late morning

Paris Day 4

It’s been a full week since we returned from a trip to Paris. I managed to go through all my photos and share them on Flickr, and then edited that group of photos down to a smaller set I’ve shared on my Format portfolio. Paris is an incredible city. Beautiful and dense. Even in the grey of February it’s pretty and lively. This trip was all about doing the most touristy things our niece and daughter wanted to do. Next time we can get back to wandering the city looking for the best croissants.

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Craig Mod's Special Projects

   6 March 2023, mid-morning

I’ve been following Craig Mod and his work for over a decade now. My copy of Art Space Tokyo is one of my favourite books, one I hope to finally put to use this May. In recent years he’s been publishing a newsletter, Rodan, which I have enjoyed reading for its mix of photography, travel blogging, and occasional nerdy discussions. He has been funding special projects and walks through membership drives, in the vein of PBS or NPR. He wrote about that activity recently, and for whatever reason this year his writing finally sucked me in: I signed up! (You can too, if you are the sort of person that loves supporting people’s artistic endeavours.)

I’m now watching a video of him talking about his book Kissa by Kissa. It’s an interesting deep dive into his process, but also into his almost neurotic levels of perfectionism that I am 100% here for. I love books. I love well made beautiful books. It’s amazing to listen to someone talk at length about the pains they went to in order for this book they made to be the best book it could possibly be.

Of course I bought the book as well.

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Candid Photography and my old Ricohs

   21 February 2023, mid-afternoon

Self Portrait

I picked up an online course by Greg Williams, who does candid photography (of celebrities) that I quite like. Candid photography is what I enjoy shooting the most. I started my life as a yearbook photographer, and I suppose that is the direction I am always pulled. I was lamenting to Shima that I feel out of practice when taking photos. I look back at old pictures and think, “I shot this?” (The same tragedy when I read old math assignments from university: “this is my handwriting?”) I thought watching to this course would give me some ideas and get me thinking about photography once again. I find it interesting to listen to people break down their process and approach to their work.

Greg’s class doesn’t focus at all on cameras and lenses and that nonsense, but I noticed Greg Williams shoots predominantly in 28mm, a focal length I love. A few years ago I wrote about the 28mm focal length on my Format portfolio, and the sorts of things it lets you do with a photograph. All of my Ricoh’s are 28mm fixed lens cameras, and they have been my go-to camera for the 10-15 years. I don’t think expensive cameras or particular gear will net you better photographs, but I do think the gear you have ends up informing how you photograph the world.

Both my GR Digital II and IV do a poor job with low-light photography. The photos I get out of the camera often have off putting white balance and ugly noise when I shoot at night. I’m sure I could have worked to figure out how to correct that, in camera or via post-processing, but in the end the route I took was far simpler: shoot in black and white and use the fill-flash to light the shots. Those tiny flashes on your camera are simply there to blast the shadows out of people’s faces, so shooting at night with my Ricoh is all about jamming my camera in people’s faces. The depth of field on that camera is quite wide, between the focal length of the lens and the size of the sensor. Shooting this way makes the background disappear into black. You end up with a tighter (fake) depth of field, as the subject ends up being the only thing in focus in the photograph, more or less. The photographs are about the people in the scene, the environment often bleeds away.



Shima and Krishna: Dancing


This look ended up defining all of the parties and outing at Security Compass, but sadly those photographs are all private. You’ll have to imagine me and my old coworkers having fun.



   13 February 2023, late at night


I’ve been paying (a lot) of money to get my photographs developed. This has been the other thing that’s pulled me back into photography. This roll was from 13 years ago, shot during our trip to India. As rolls of film go, I was pretty happy with the photos I took. Even when I get a roll back and feel the photos are a bit disappointing, it’s still weirdly engrossing. Old rolls of film are like a time capsule. There is nostalgia and emotion tied up in seeing these old images—for me, anyway.



   10 February 2023, lunch time

February 10, 2023 - Anser

Is this old graffiti, or something new since Anser returned to the city. One of my favourite artists all the same. I need to figure out how to set up a photoblog that’s a lot lower friction than posting to Textpattern like this. Both Flickr (where this image is currently hosted) and Mastodon seem like viable options, but I want stuff to exist on my own domain. I might look at creating a script to create static pages based on stuff posted elsewhere.


Ricoh GR III

   8 February 2023, mid-afternoon

After meeting Ali at MaRS to catch up, I walked over to the Service Ontario in College Park to try and renew my health card. You can make appointments online nowadays. That would have been good to know before I arrived. I had nothing else to do, so I sat down and read a book while waiting. All in all it took about an hour, and probably 90% of the time was waiting: live and learn. Walking back to the subway, I spotted an Aden Camera. I walked in and left with a Ricoh GR III, quite the impulse purchase.

I’ve had the camera on my mind for the last few months. I love my GR Digital IV, but it’s really showing its age. At this point I almost exclusively use it to shoot candid portraits at parties in black and white with its fill flash to light the scene. It’s a whole aesthetic. In many other situations, my iPhone feels like it does a better job. That’s probably not quite true, but it’s true enough.

Hopefully this camera lives up to its predecessors. There seems to be a lot of hype around it, which feels funny to me. The original GR Digital had a bit of a cult following: lots of people felt the noisy JPEG photographs looked like film. Daido Moriyama shot with the older film camera, the GR1, perhaps giving it some notoriety. For the most part I always felt Ricoh was an obscure camera for photography nerds. This latest iteration seems have a bit of a following, perhaps scooping up people who were unable to buy the Fujifilm X100V. For my part, right off the bat I love that it charges with USB-C and can send pictures directly to my phone is already quite promising. I’ll have to see what else it has to offer soon.

Expect more photos.

Ricoh GR III - Portrait Test Colour

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Flickr Still Lives

   9 September 2020, mid-morning

Yoga Mythilli

I started posting photographs on Flickr again. I have years of photographs just sitting on hard disks doing nothing. Never mind the film in my fridge. I should put them all somewhere.

Flickr is a strange beast nowadays. Smugmug has bought it, but will it survive? I assume there must be enough people who pay for Pro accounts because they are emotionally attached to the service. Or have so many years of photos and albums they want to preserve. Is that enough to keep the thing chugging along?

Such a shame Yahoo did so little with the service. They hoovered up so many classic Internet properties and then did nothing with them. There is an alternative time line where Flickr is the preeminent social media platform, and the world is good.


Throwback Film

   23 May 2014, early morning

I’ve had some film sitting in my fridge for 4 years now. Some of the film might be closer to 5 years old, I suspect. I used to be reasonably good about processing my black & white film as I shot it, but once you slip it’s easy to end up with an insurmountable backlog. Thankfully I found someone in Toronto who will process the stuff for me. It’s getting quite tricky to find places that process film, let alone black & white film. So, now I have film I need to scan. That part of the process might be worse than the developing.

This photo is probably from the summer of 2010, based on the other photos I found on the roll. Shima is probably pregnant with Mythilli. You’d never know. I like the composition. In particular that both are hands are in the shot, and that her arm seems to belong to someone else. It looks like it is photobombing this photo.

Shooting film has several pluses completely unrelated to the quality (or lack thereof) of the images you get back. Film can be like a time capsule. Who knows how I would have felt about this photo 4-5 years ago. Today it is interesting simply because of the amount of time that’s passed since I shot it.

Originally posted to my 4ormat blog.

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Backyard Portraits

   29 November 2013, early morning

I finished up a roll of film in my backyard taking a shot of everyone sitting on our deck.






Trip to the Park

   16 October 2013, mid-afternoon







I developed a big batch of film recently. It cost me a lot of money, and i’m not too happy with all the photos I got back. That’s not Downtown Camera’s fault, though. I need to take more photos again. And look at them. That’s how you get good at photography. (That’s a pro-tip for all of you just starting out taking photos.)


Every 4 Years

   26 February 2013, late afternoon

2005 using a Canon S30:
2005/02/27 - My New Hat

2009 using a Ricoh GR Digital II:

2013 using a Ricoh GR Digital IV:
Wallace and Symington

By coincidence i’ve ended up taking a photo of myself in a bus shelter every 4 years. I should go back to the Gladstone and take another one there.


Photography is a thing I used to do

   20 December 2012, late evening

I thought after having Mythilli the number of photographs I would take would increase, but that hasn’t been the case at all. I used to be an avid photographer. At some point I stopped being one. I had some sort of crisis of faith, I suppose.

One of the last lines in Six Feet Under is, “You can’t take a picture of this. It’s already gone.” Photography is an artistic pursuit, but it’s also a documentary one. Photography is all about capturing a moment in time. Well, sort of.

I used to take lots of photos at concerts I went to and then I more or less just stopped. When I watch people photographing a concert now I find they look ridiculous. You are a few feet from a band, watching them play through some shitty LCD screen or viewfinder. Sometimes you should just stop and enjoy the experience.

I think about this a lot when taking pictures of my baby.

All of that said, I should take photographs again. I quite like it. And every so often I take a photograph that is pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.

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Once more with the Colour

   9 September 2012, lunch time

Dirty Guy Derby 2012

I got 9 rolls of film developed yesterday. It’s been a long time since I’ve shot with film. My old standby, the Shopper’s at Yonge and King, has let their machines turn to shit. I got sick of getting back grimy scans and decided to try something new. I ventured out to Pape to get them processed. There is a Shopper’s there that apparently does a good job—which I can now confirm. Shopper’s still develops and scans for $3, which is probably best prices in the city for film processing. If you want higher res scans and less scratched negatives Downtown Camera is my second go-to place, but it’s about 2-3x more expensive. Photography is an expensive hobby.


Shima on Elite Chrome 100

   29 July 2011, late evening


Shima on Kodachrome

   2 December 2010, late evening

Shima in Kodachrome

My friend Jonah was giving away rolls of Kodachrome. His only condition to claim a roll was was that you had to actually use the stuff before Dwayne’s — the last place in the world that still develops the stuff — stopped processing the film. I wanted to shoot with the film at least once in my life and so I told him to save a roll for me. The film I was given was Kodachrome 64, from 1992. That makes it 18 years old. I shot all 36 frames on my birthday, mostly taking portraits of my friends hanging out in my parents backyard. Some photos are better than others. This photo I quite like.


Bangalore (and Mysore) — Jan 29th - Jan 31st

   13 April 2010, lunch time

The rest of our time in Bangalore was spent loitering around Gandhi Bazaar, for the most part. It was pretty relaxing. We got quite comfortable with the area. My pictures of Bangalore on Flickr. (Or IMG VQVZ) We also travelled to Mysore for a quick day trip. In hindsight we probably should have spent a bit more time in Mysore. There was so much to see in that area. My pictures of Mysore on Flickr. (Or IMG VQVZ) I took these notes to myself on my iPhone, hence the strange change in tense, poor grammar, and what have you.

Read the rest of this post. (519 words)

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Puttaparthi — Jan 28th

   27 March 2010, early morning

We travelled off to Puttaparthi from Bangalore for the day. Puttaparthi would have been just another small rural town in India if not for the fact it was home to the religious leader Sai Baba and his ashram. My pictures of Puttaparthi on Flickr. (Or IMG VQVZ) I took these notes to myself on my iPhone, hence the strange change in tense, poor grammar, and what have you.

Read the rest of this post. (285 words)

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Bangalore — Jan 25th - 27th

   14 March 2010, late at night

We left Cochin early in the morning on the 25th. I was still incredibly sick at this point. I didn’t think i’d make it to the airport. Bangalore more or less cured me. The first three days there were spent loitering around and attending a wedding. My pictures of Bangalore on Flickr. (Or IMG VQVZ)

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Kerela — January 21st - 24th

   2 March 2010, mid-morning

After Chennai we travelled by plane to Cochin, in Kerela. I was very excited about coming to Kerela: it’s the communist state in India. Sadly, after a day and a half there I ended getting incredibly sick. I don’t think i’ve been more ill in my entire life. So, I spent most of my time in Kerela in bed. My pictures of Cochin on Flickr. (And IMG VQVZ)

Read the rest of this post. (609 words)

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Chennai — January 18th - 20th

   22 February 2010, early morning

I took short little notes on my iPhone while traveling around in India. Here are the first set of notes from my first three days in Chennai, and our flight to get there. There are more images from this part of the trip on Flickr. (Or on IMG VQVZ)

Read the rest of this post. (1221 words)

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The Hindustan Ambassador

   20 February 2010, evening time

The Hindustan Ambassador is an awesome car. I was expecting to see more of them on the streets of India, but they weren’t as ubiquitous as they may have been a few years back. Our driver in Chennai was saying that they have fallen out of favour, and most people know bought the car he drove. (His car was made by Tata, and I can’t recall what it was called. It didn’t look nearly as cool as an Ambassador.) I think of all the cities we visited, Cochin in Kerela had the largest number of Ambassadors on the road. I’m not entirely sure why.

The Hindustan Ambassador on IMG VQVZ.

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   16 February 2010, lunch time

Auto-rickshaws are little three-wheeler taxis ubiquitous throughout most of Asia. They are all over the place in South India. They are one of the easiest ways to get around a city. The only problem with them is that the drivers can be a bit sketchy, and are likely to rip you off. Your best bet is to negotiate the price of your trip before going for a ride. (I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting ripped off a little bit in India. What is a few cents to you is a big deal to them.) Autos are fun to ride in. They are open air, they feel quick, and you get a real feel for the city as you zip through it in one.

Auto-Rickshaws on IMG VQVZ

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Stray Dogs

   12 February 2010, late at night

One constant throughout most of our trip in India were stray dogs. We would find them in every city we stayed in. More often than not we’d pass a dog passed out on the ground, probably because it was so damn hot out. Indians don’t seem to have any real soft spot for the animals. Honestly, there are far more pressing things to deal with in the country than dogs without owners, regardless of how lamentable they may look.

Stray Dogs on IMG VQVZ.

Stray Dogs

Stray Dogs

Stray Dogs

Stray Dogs

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We Must Abuse the Broadband: Pre TXP.

   12 January 2010, late at night

I took my original photoblog down sometime in November 2006. When I moved all my sites over to Dreamhost Movable Type, which was what I was using to run the site, stopped working. I can’t recall why. At the time, I wasn’t particularly enamored with Movable Type anyway; I figured I’d eventually move things to Textpattern. I did do this, but it took me a good while. The thing is, the site never really worked as well under TextPattern. While the site was on hiatus I put all the photos I had posted over the years on Flickr. There were 718 photos in total. Without titles and descriptions though, it was really just a big mess of images. My plan was to one day figure out how the Flickr API worked, figure out how to parse my Movable Type export file, and then fill in all this information. It took me 2 years or so, but i’m finally done.

I did this all using Ruby. I used FlickRaw to talk to Flickr and ruby-mtexport to parse my MT export file. Thankfully all the images on my site were named after the date they were posted, which made it easy to match up data in the export file to a photo on Flickr. I can’t recall the last time i’ve been so productive when programming. Ruby really is a great little language.

For the time being Flickr continues to be the place to go to see my photographs. I still want to turn IMG VQVZ into a proper photoblog or portfolio site. I just need to sort out how that would work.

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Developing Film at Home: A Year in Review

   7 January 2010, mid-morning

AGO Stairs

It’s been a little over a year since I started developing and scanning my own B&W film. In that time i’ve developed 49 rolls of film. Well, those are rolls that actually turned out. I’ve also destroyed 4 rolls of film due to using bad chemicals or other stupidness on my part. Developing film is a pretty satisfying process. For the most part, I think I’ve more or less sorted out how to do it properly. I’m probably not as careful as I should/could be, but my negatives seem to turn out fine nevertheless.

I’ve been using FilmDev.org to track how I develop my film. The site works well, and can be instructive in showing you how different films and developers work together. Because HP5+ is readily available on the cheap here in Toronto, that’s the B&W film I’ve used the most. I started off using Ilfosol-3 as my primary developer, but I think I prefer T-Max Developer from Kodak more. It seems more versatile, and the results seem a bit more punchy. I suppose it’s all a matter of taste.

Developing B&W film at ImageWorks costs $7 a roll, which works out to $343 to process everything I’ve done. (Holy shit, right?) Since I started developing at home I’ve used up one bottle of Ilfosol-3, one bottle of T-Max Developer, one bottle of Ilford Fix. That’s around $30 of chemicals that are now all gone. I’ve still got bottles of: T-Max Developer, Diafine, Ilford Fix, Ilford Stop and some Kodak Photoflo. That’s probably $50-$60 worth of chemicals that should last a good while. I could probably do another 50 or so rolls with what I have left. I had to pay about $40 to get all the other materials I need to develop film, but that’a fixed cost. So, the conclusion here is that it’s a lot cheaper doing this all yourself. I think the results are better as well.

The big problem with shooting film is getting the results onto your computer. I have an Epson V500 scanner, which has an attachment for scanning negatives. Having ImageWorks scan film for me would cost $6 a roll, which would have cost me $294. My scanner cost me $200. Again, this is a fixed cost. So, for the most part scanning at home is another win. Well, almost: scanning film is horrible. It’s a slow, boring, and more often than not frustrating process. I still can’t figure out — at all — how to scan my slide film correctly. Colour film is just as problematic. I manage well enough with B&W film, but it’s not without its own issues. No matter how hard I try I always end up with dust marks on my scans. All the scans I post online need to be spotted to get rid of all these marks. The whole process, scanning and touching up, is so damn slow. I’m not sure if there is really anything I can do to improve this situation.

You can see all the photographs I’ve developed myself in my Flickr set, BYOB&W. (If you have a fast connection, IMG VQVZ will probably present them in a nicer fashion, all the images on a single page.) I’m quite happy with all my recent shots. This roll in particular has some really nice pictures.

I’ve been developing film at home for a year now and save for some strange stains on my bathroom vanity I think the process has been a positive one.

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