A painting of me

Buying a Bessa

   17 January 2008, early morning

Yesterday evening was busy. After having decided to buy a Bessa I found one used on Craigslist going for $450: If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is. $450 may sound pricey for a camera without an LCD display and Mega-Pixels and all that junk, but you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that $450 is a deal. Still, being an avid negotiator I emailed the seller asking if he’d sell it for $400. He replied with $425 and we had a deal. I was off after work to grab my new camera.

I asked the seller why he was getting rid of the R2A. I think when buying used gear it’s good to find out why the person doesn’t want it anymore. (I have faith in people not to lie out their asses.) When I bought my 17-40L the seller wanted to buy some prime lenses to take photos of his baby indoors — clearly he didn’t need a slow wide-angle zoom anymore. This fellow was selling this range-finder because he never used it’s auto-exposure modes. Also, he already had not one, but two Leicas. Son of a bitch.

Actually no, the fellow was quite friendly. We met in the lobby of his building and he explained the ins and outs of the Bessa, and compared it to his Leicas. All three cameras had very bright viewfinders, though the 50 year old M3 seemed to be the winner in that department. The controls are what’d you’d expect from any old film camera. Of course, I need to grab a lens and start taking photos to really form an opinion on the camera. The R2A is a nice solid camera, but the Leicas he had were really something else: you could bludgeon someone to death with that M3.

After parting ways I was off to see Magneta Lane play at the Rivoli.

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   25 July 2007, early morning

Pictobrowser is a nice frontend widget for Flickr. Sunny mentioned it on his Twitter page.

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The Lomography Supersampler

   18 March 2007, early morning

My Lomo Supersampler

Getting people to shell out $200 dollars for a junky Russian camera is hard work. At some point, the people behind the Lomographic Society started pimping cheaper novelty cameras. Shima bought me one when she went to the MET in New York with her family, the Lomography Fisheye. More recently, my cousin Jana also bought me a Lomo camera, a blue Supersampler.

The Lomo Supersampler is a small light plastic camera. Instead of housing a single lens, like most cameras, the Supersampler has four; these four lens fire in sequence to create little photo-montages. They can fire over a period of 2 seconds, or 0.2 seconds. Like the Fisheye camera, the Supersampler is a straight-up point and shoot. If you want to shoot on a bright sunny day, you better have loaded the camera up with ISO 100 film; If you want to shoot indoors, you better have some ISO 800 and a bit of luck.

As with the Fisheye, the appeal of the camera comes from the fact its so mindless to use. You pull a rip-chord to spool the film, press a button and you’re done. My first roll turned out much better than my first roll with the Fisheye. This Camera works best out doors. It took me ages to finish my first roll of film with this camera. Know that I now it works I think i’ll have to experiment with it more.

Carvill pointing

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My 4 Million Dollar Home

   23 October 2006, late morning

Crumpler opened up a store in West Queen West, which I stumbled upon last time I was in the area. It was closed that day, so I decided to check it out this past Sunday, while I was in the area meeting up with Tyler. I wasn’t planning on going, especially since it was a dreary rainy day, but I’m not usually out in West Queen West so I felt it best to make the most of my time there.

The store is filled with bags on shelves, a giant piano, and not much else. It might look like a chic boutique if not for the fact the bags are so funky. The day I was there, two people were working, and the store was otherwise empty. Everyone was quite nice, but I knew what I wanted, so I didn’t really need their help picking something. I ended up leaving the store with a 5 Million Dollar Home bag. It was quite roomy, and felt it’d fit my camera and massive lens just fine, with room to spare for my other stuff. I trekked home in the rain.

Home again, I filled my new bag with my camera stuff. To say the bag was a bit too huge for my needs would be an understatement. I seemed to have greatly over estimated just how big my camera was. I called up Crumpler and explained I didn’t need such a giant bag. They said I could exchange it today, or during the week if I felt like it. I looked out my window; it was still raining. I sighed.

One subway and one street car later I was back on Queen, walking West. My 5 Million Dollar Home was filled with the camera gear I wanted my camera bag to hold. I got to the store and apologized for being such a flake while the fellow who sold me my bag went and grabbed me a 4 Million Dollar Home. I stuffed my gear into my new bag, and was back on my way. The people at the Crumpler store were still quite nice.

The bag is quite nice. It’s padded, which is a step up from the messenger bag stuffed with t-shirts which I was using since getting my new lens. It fits my camera with the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens just snuggly, with room for another stubby lens. (In my case, this lens is the Canon 50mm f/1.8.) You may be able to fit a lens slightly larger than this one. I can also fit the lens hood for the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L if need be, and my camera’s charger. I don’t normally carry those things around. There is a small pockets on the front of the camera, which would fit memory cards and what not nicely. There is also a mess pocket on the inside of the flap of the bag. In short, there is plenty of space to put stuff.

Its a comfortable bag, and if it lasts a long while, I’d say it is well worth the money. At $70, it is a bit pricey for a camera bag in my opinion, but I am happy with it so far. (All of one day!)

My 4 million dollar home bag.

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Unpacking My MOO Flickr MiniCards

    3 October 2006, terribly early in the morning

MOO is a company that makes tiny business cards that feature photos from your Flickr stream. I ordered a free 10-pack of cards from them as part of a promotion they ran to announce the service. They gave away 10,000 cards (in sets of 10) to Flickr Pro users.

The cards arrived today. They came in a small envelope. Inside the envelope was a colourfull card, with a little slot that contained the 10 cards I ordered.

On the back of the card was a short message explaining what the cards were all about.

The first card was a message indicating I was MOO’s new best friend. Nice.

The cards are on thick slices of cardboard. The prints aren’t bad; they look like the sort of thing a fancy ink-jet printer might produce. Some prints turned out quite nice, but for several the colours seem a bit flat, and the contrast a bit lacking.

The back of the card can be customized with a short message of your choice. These could make neat calling cards. You can order a set of 100 cards for $20 USD. This sounds pricey for small business cards, but then again they look cool and don’t require any design effort whatsoever on your part.

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Another Long Post on Lenses

    2 October 2006, mid-afternoon

Since the last time I wrote about lenses, I ended up buying the Canon 50mm f/1.8 I mentioned, and a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L. I’m quite happy with both.

Me standing in my bathroom, snapping a self-portrait

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RAW, Why Must You Torment Me So?

    6 February 2006, mid-morning

I have been taking photographs using the RAW capture mode on my digital camera. What this means is that my camera takes the raw data it reads on its light sensor and saves it to an image file without processing it whatsoever. You are supposed to post-process the images on your computer, which give you much more control.

The other option available to me, and the one most people use, is to save their photos as JPEGs. If I went this route, the camera does some processing on the photo—colour correction, white-balancing, and what not—and then saves the images as a JPEG image. JPEGs are smaller, and easier to work with on a computer. The problem with JPEGs is that they achieve their size by throwing away a lot of the data in the image. You can’t take a JPEG and apply some transformations to get the original image back; once an image is compressed, the information that was removed is gone forever. As such, we call JPEG a lossy compression scheme. A high-quality JPEG will still give you a very good image, however, you will never have the exact image your camera saw.

The main advantage of shooting RAW is that you can do post-processing on your computer with an untainted image. On your PC, you can fix the white-balance, curves, and other such things, getting the image you want, before exporting the photo as a JPEG (or some other image format you can work with). You can decide what you think looks best, as opposed to letting the circuits in your camera decide. This is a big plus.

There is however a big problem with shooting RAW, at least for myself: the files are huge and a pain to work with. It takes my iBook a full minute to convert an image from a RAW file to a JPEG. One minute is a really long time for a computer to spend doing anything in this day and age. It took me 45 minutes to export this set of photographs from a dinner I had at my house on Saturday. I am still trying to figure out the best—and quickest—way to deal with processing a large batch of RAW images.

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The Lomography Fisheye

   28 January 2006, early evening

Shima holding my Fisheye Camera

Shima bought me a Lomography Fisheye camera when she was in New York city a few weeks back. The Lomographic Society got famous by selling Lomo LC-A cameras, but now they sell other cheap cameras at boutique prices. This fisheye camera is one of many cameras you can now buy online at the Lomography website.

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Where do you get your photos developed?

   27 January 2006, early morning

pketh asks, in response to my complaints about developing film downtown:

So where do you go to get the film developed, and how much is it? Iím still looking for a good developer actually, crazy expensive to shoot film nowadays sadly.

I get my film developed in Scarborough, at the Shopper’s Drugmart at Woodside Square. When they first opened up, I was pretty impressed with the photolab. I wasn’t super impressed because they had a bad habit of scratching my negatives. I pay $7 Shopper’s $7 to develop my photos, print them, and burn them all onto a CD. They do all that in an hour. I have yet to find a store downtown that comes even close to doing all that for the price.

Recently I have been disappointed with the results I’ve been getting from them, but I think this probably has a lot to do with the fact I push a lot of the film I use. They say they’ll push process it, but I don’t think anyone in the photolab actually knows what that means. I suspect they develop it normally, and then compensate for the underexposed shots when printing. That’s why I always seem to end up with high-contrast super-grainy photos. West Camera did an amazing job developing my slide film, but I think it must have cost me something like $24 dollars to do 36 exposures. (Mind you, Shopper’s couldn’t develop slide film period, so I suppose that is a moot point.)

Other places worth checking out if you want quality prints are Pikto and ImageWorks. If you want prints on the cheap, like myself, then I think Shopper’s might be your best bet.

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A Long Post on Lenses

   23 January 2006, early afternoon

I have owned my trusty Pentax K1000 since the end of high-school. In that time, I have bought two lenses for the camera. The first was a Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.8 lens, which I bought when I bought the camera. The second lens replaced the first, and was a Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.4 lens, which I bought when I threw my camera and it landed lens-side down. (The Pentax K1000 is a rugged sonuvabitch. Even the lens I destroyed didn’t shatter or break, I just jarred it enough that the focusing ring wouldn’t turn anymore; manual-focus lenses are built like bricks.) I like Prime Lenses.

Read the rest of this post. (658 words)

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Flickr Pro

   20 January 2006, late morning

I bought a Flickr Pro account the other day. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t get one sooner. I have never thought they were particularly expensive, but at the same time I suppose I have never had a big reason for getting one.

My photoblog isn’t well suited for posting a set of photos. The few times I have used Flickr in the past, it was to post a set of photos from a day or night out. For example, here is a set of photos I took on Caroline’s adventure around Toronto. A few of the photos in that set are also on my photoblog, but many of them are not, either because I didn’t think they were interesting enough, or because I didn’t want a weeks worth of very similar photographs.

Now that I have a Pro account, I am trying to think of the best way to use it. The upload limits for Pro users are basically non-existent. With unlimited sets you have a lot more freedom in how you can arrange your photographs. I have started cross posting my photographs to Flickr, and will probably continue to do so. I want to figure out the best way to move all my old posts from We Must Abuse the Broadband over to Flickr. I’ve been looking at how to do this via a computer program. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyone join any interesting groups on Flickr? Anyone have good suggestions on what to do with the account? You can expect a boatload of pictures from Tokyo up there some time soon.

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Annex Photo

   30 March 2005, early evening

I wasted my time today heading down to Bloor and Spadina to check out a photo-mart in the area. Annex Photo was recommended to me in a reply to an Ask.Mefi thread I posted some time back. I wanted to get a roll of 400 ISO film that I had pushed to 800 ISO developed. Shoppers Drug Mart does this just fine, so I expect proper photo-marts to be able to accomplish such a task.

I was told Annex Photo couldn’t develop my film as ISO 800; they’d have to send it out, and that would cost a lot of money. The place was already quite expensive, so I can only imagine how much sending it out would cost. Worse of all though, the guy helping had no idea why I pushed my film the way I did. He thought I should set my ISO lower and overexpose all my photos. If I wanted to use slow film I would; I’d also probably carry a tripod and not take pictures of anything that moves.

I’m so disappointed. I love the Shoppers Drug Mart near my house, but they have a bad habit of scratching my negatives. My search for a good photo-mart in Toronto continues.

Update: The Shoppers at King and Yonge is good. Now you know.

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   18 March 2005, evening time

I just got back from the PubliCity exhibit being hosted by Toronto Free Gallery. Spacing were the sponsors for the night, and happened to be selling their TTC buttons at the show. I am now the owner of a Kennedy Station button. I couldn’t find myself a High Park Station button, which is a shame. I brought my SLR out with me to snap a few pictures. A room full of photographers is strange. People don’t flinch when you take out a camera. No one gives you strange looks as you take photos of strangers. The photographs on display were amazing. It was very inspiring. I feel like I should start updating my site daily again.

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Yashica Electro 35 GSN

   22 December 2004, late at night

My Yashica Electro 35 GSN

My Yashica finally arrived today. Shopping on eBay, while quite cost effective, lacks the instant satisfaction one gets from going to the mall. Camera shops in Toronto seem to sell cameras for much more then eBay, so I am willing to put up with less them prompt service. The camera looks great; I wasn’t sure what to expect. I still need to track down some sort of battery for the beast so I can give it a run. Most everyone is quite favourable in their reviews of this camera: Matt’s Cameras, Photoethnography, Yashica Guy, Alfred’s Camera Page, Nikonian Discussion.

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Kiev 35

   16 October 2004, the wee hours

My Kiev 35 arrived with little fanfare a few weeks back. After a few missteps I finally got to try it out last Sunday; I moved a few things into my new apartment, and was going to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with Shima. We began by heading down to Queen West, in search of some Pumas. Shima had little luck finding anything she wanted or that was in her size. We continued further west in search of furniture shops. They have a few nice places around Bathurst and Queen, though most of the stores sold stuff I simply couldn’t afford.

I documented the whole outing with my new camera, who’s electric shutter didn’t inspire much confidence in me. My parents and Shima both laughed at my camera because it seems so broken. Even I had my doubts it was working. However, I am glad to say that the pictures came out quite nice. You can see them at my flickr home page. I’ve created a set of the photos. Flickr is probably the best photo album site on the internet, hands down. I’ll probably fill up We Must Abuse The Broadband with a few of my favourites from the roll. I got two great pictures of Shima, and some other interesting shots that day.

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Over 10,000 Photos

    9 August 2004, the wee hours

I’ve taken over 10,000 photos with my Canon S30. Mind you, I haven’t kept anywhere near that many of the photos. As of right now I have 4608 photos spread over 6 photo albums. Each album contains all the photos I took in a particular 4 month chunk of time. Because of the co-op program at my university, I have taken to organizing my life into discrete 4 month chunks.

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   28 January 2004, lunch time

Mezan sent me this link a long time ago. This is a wicked black and white photo. I feel like loading up my SLR and going out after looking at it.

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We Must Abuse the Broadband Moved

   17 November 2003, mid-morning

Has moved again. Expect daily updates, as I’ve moved the whole thing over to a moveabletype back-end. I’m hoping it is a lot easier for me to update and maintain now. This site will probably be revamped too, as if I do daily updates there, I don’t see the need for my very short and pointless messages here. More to come.


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