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Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Guitar Project

Harmony Archtop
Harmony Archtop

I must have played hundreds of guitars over the years. It is hard for me to just pass by a guitar shop without stopping in. The Mill Wheel (now long gone) was the first store I frequented. Every time I was downtown Toronto, I would pop in, pick up something and play. One of those guitars has haunted me ever since. It was an old beat up Gibson, probably a J45 made in the 1950’s, but I don’t know that for sure. It had obviously been well loved. It felt and sounded like no other guitar I have played before or since. In 1979 I didn’t have a budget for even a cheap guitar let alone a vintage one. I wanted it bad. After clearly falling in love with this worn piece of wood, I slowly turned the price tag around. It was $3,000.00. I gently put the coveted guitar back, slipped out of the store and into a deep funk.

The guitar I owned at the time was from Sears. It was so terrible I could barely play it and needed vice grips to tune it. Frustrated after trying to jam with a friend from school, I finally decided to get a playable guitar. I bought a cheap Yamaha acoustic. It is now as worn as that old Gibson but still sounds great. I play it often to this day.

Moving forward 40 years, I have a nice growing collection of new and old guitars. I play everyday I can.

Gretsch Steel Guitar
Gretsch Steel Guitar
Harmonica and Guitar
Harmonica and Guitar
Larrivée Guitar
Larrivée Guitar
Gibson Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul
Fender Stratocaster
Fender Stratocaster
Yamaha Acoustic Guitar
Yamaha Acoustic Guitar

My love affair with the guitar continues as a player, owner and photographer.

Here are a few guitars from my most recent photo shoot:

Fender Telecaster
Fender Telecaster
Guild Acoustic Guitar
Guild Acoustic Guitar
Bourgeois Guitar
Bourgeois Guitar

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Monday, 27 August 2018

Dog Days of Summer

Australian Blue Heeler
Australian Blue Heeler

We are going through yet another heat wave in the city. Lori had dried laundry in the backyard. She must have brought in a Cicada in the laundry basket. We are seeing them everywhere right now. I took this opportunity to take a set of stacked images to increase depth of field. The image below is a composite of 11 images, each with a different focus point. This method works well as long as your subject doesn’t move.


Dog-day Cicada or Heatbug
Dog-day Cicada or Heatbug

It has been a turbulent summer for us and for Toronto.

Toronto Nathan Phillips Square
Toronto Nathan Phillips Square

There are times when I feel like I need to just keep my head down and weather the storm. Music is often what I turn to when I need to escape. We went to see Brandi Carlile in June. She was one of the last few performers at Massy Hall before it closed for renovations. I have witnessed many great concerts in my life but this was the best yet and in the best venue in the country. This grand old hall has been a part of my life since I was in grade school. My first visit was to see a quintet made up of members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I can’t remember what grade I was in but it was around grade 6. With many visits since, I have watched my heroes play their hearts out on this stage: Bruce Cockburn, Stevie Ray Vaughn, BB King and Emmylou Harris. So many great shows. I have really enjoyed Massey Hall.

Massey Hall Toronto ON
Massey Hall Toronto ON

Massey Hall Toronto ON
Massey Hall Toronto ON

We spent a bit of time in Eastern Ontario and Quebec this summer and visited Gatineau Park for a few days. It is an interesting place. There are many lakes and trails to discover. We hiked into the Carbide Willson Ruins, near Meech Lake. I hope to go back again this fall and photograph this scene in fall colour.

Carbide Willson Ruins, QC
Carbide Willson Ruins, QC

To end off the summer, we spent a bit of time with family in Brockville.

Brockville City Hall, ON
Brockville City Hall, ON

We then headed north to Manitoulin Island via highway 17. It was quite smoky in some areas from all of the forest fires.

Manitoulin Morning
Manitoulin Morning

Summer is never complete without a trip to the north shore of Lake Superior. We spent time in Lake Superior Provincial Park and in Pukaskwa National Park.

Bathtub Island, Lake Superior Park ON
Bathtub Island, Lake Superior Park ON

Bathtub Island, Lake Superior Park ON
Bathtub Island, Lake Superior Park ON

Canoe in Pukaskwa National Park, ON
Canoe in Pukaskwa National Park, ON

North Beach Pukaskwa National Park, ON
North Beach Pukaskwa National Park, ON

I hope things settle down for awhile. For us and for Toronto…

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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Last Day of 2017

The years sure fly by. It seems to get faster and faster. We lost some friends, connected with a few from the past and gained some new ones. Spring Thaw, Bruce Peninsula, ON
Spring Thaw, Bruce Peninsula, ON

I didn’t feel like I did much although it turns out we added many new images. We stayed in Ontario for the most part. No big trips. No unusual adventures. It was nice not to drive quite so much. Here are a few of my favourite images from the past year.

Sometimes, the best images came from close to home like this one in my back yard:

Northern Flicker Yellow-shafted Male
Northern Flicker Yellow-shafted Male

Dog-day Cicada Adult and Exoskeleton
Dog-day Cicada Adult and Exoskeleton

We travelled to a few of our favourite haunts in Ontario. We found this Coyote in Killanrey. Coyote
Coyote

Lori found this Yellow Warbler building a nest. It was quite accommodating. Yellow Warbler Female with Nest
Yellow Warbler Female with Nest

We also checked out some Ontario Provincial Parks for the first time: The Pinery Provincial Park
The Pinery Provincial Park

Awenda Provincial Park, ON
Awenda Provincial Park, ON

The college where I teach went on strike this fall. So I took some time to shoot the fall colours in Algonquin. Fog in Algonquin Ontario
Fog in Algonquin Ontario

We had one final trip to Parc Omega in Quebec and Wolfe Island in eastern Ontario: Bull Moose
Bull Moose

Grey Wolf
Grey Wolf

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

Happy New Year! All the best for 2018.

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Monday, 2 October 2017

Objects of Desire

Gibson Les Paul Guitar
Gibson Les Paul Guitar

My first guitar was not much to look at. It was a small parlour sized Sears special. It killed my fingers to play. I was 10 years old and it was the start of a life long fascination with the guitar. I’m not sure what happened to it. Maybe I gave it away, can’t even remember.

My next guitar was full sized but not much better quality. In it’s final days, the tuners were so stiff, I had to tune it with pliers. I finally threw it in a dumpster. I still have my 3rd guitar, a Yamaha acoustic. It was my first guitar that was really playable.

Yamaha Guitar
Yamaha Guitar

The Yamaha still plays and records well. But the frets are worn out and the finger board has large groves in it from years of playing. I took it everywhere. So many memories are embedded in that hunk of wood.

I have added to my guitar collection over the years and hope to add a few more before I’m done. Playing every day is a great way to escape the stress in life.

Larrivée Guitar
Larrivée Guitar

Fender Stratocaster
Fender Stratocaster

Gibson Les Paul Guitar
Gibson Les Paul Guitar

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Following the Sun

I don’t get too excited about photographing sunrises and sunsets. It can be a bit cliché. However, sometimes it is so beautiful, you just can’t help yourself. Lake Superior Sunset
Lake Superior Sunset

Fiery Sunset
Fiery Sunset

However, I do include the sun quite often in my photos. It can be very dramatic if you can catch it at the right time. Spring Thaw, Bruce Peninsula, ON
Spring Thaw, Bruce Peninsula, ON

Spring Ice Formations
Spring Ice Formations

Canoeing the French at Dawn
Canoeing the French at Dawn

Of course silhouettes are fun to shoot as well. Oil Pumpjack at Dawn
Oil Pumpjack at Dawn

Great Sandhills at Sunset
Great Sandhills at Sunset

This summer the sun was one the dominant subjects with the solar eclipse visible in much of North American to some degree. I was tempted to try to photograph it here in Toronto. I have a ten stop neutral density filter but that is not quite strong enough to protect my eyes and camera. Lee Filters sells a Solar filter that is 20 stops and a deep blue colour that removes harmful infrared light. I hope to get one of these for the next eclipse:
https://www.dpreview.com/news/8485854753/lee-filters-introduces-solar-eclipse-filter-and-new-filter-wash-fluid
I was also not in the path of the total eclipse. So, what was I to do? I didn’t want to risk my camera or my eyes. The best thing I could come up with was to create an illustration in Photoshop: Solar Eclipse (digital illustration)
Solar Eclipse (digital illustration)

The next solar eclipse will have a path through Ontario. April 8th 2024 will provide an opportunity for many of us here in southern Ontario to witness one first hand. I will have my filters and be ready. Now if we can just get clear skies that day…

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Happy 150th Canada!

Thinking back to 1967, it was a big deal when Canada turned 100. I was 8 years old when I received my centennial coin at school. It was also the year my Dad’s company printed a book called Canada – A Year of the Land. The book celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday.

Dad brought home tear sheets for me to put up on my walls. The photos really stuck with me. I wanted to be one of those photographers travelling across Canada taking wonderful images of the landscape.

That desire really never left me. I still love what I do and hope to continue for many more years.

As Canada celebrates it’s 150th birthday, I will continue to travel and capture images. I’m fortunate to be in two books that celebrate Canada's sesquicentennial. The first book is called The Colour of Canada by Roy MacGregor:

Here are my images from The Colour of Canada:

Red Canoe
Red Canoe

Covered Bridge in Wakefield, Quebec
Covered Bridge in Wakefield, Quebec

Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec
Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec

The second book is called, True North: The Canadian Song Book by Eleanor McCain:

Included with the publication of this coffee table book are two CDs Eleanor has recorded of classic Canadian songs. She is performing these songs across Canada with a slide show of the images from the book.

Here are my images from True North: The Canadian Song Book:

Fundy Mudflats in New Brunswick
Fundy Mudflats in New Brunswick

Bison, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba
Bison, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba

Of course our self-published book “Canada through our Eyes” is still available on Blurb:

I have spent the last 27 years travelling across our great country. I’m proud to be a Canadian and I’m proud to help celebrate its 150th.

Happy Birthday Canada!

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