The Unique Magic of Film

Here is an image from my recent trip to Salisbury England. It is a close-up of an old door knocker on one of the massive doors of Salisbury Cathedral. It’s also the first black and white film I’ve shot in about twenty-five years. I used a Nikon N6006 film SLR (purchased very cheaply on eBay) with a Nikon 55mm Macro lens (very sharp and also very inexpensive on eBay).

Today, I got a delivery of an ancient Minolta Dimage film scanner (again, purchased on eBay); using Vuescan software on my Mac I was up and running relatively quickly. I’ve still got a few kinks to work as I get this old beast dialed in, but expect to see more film scans posted here. For B/W close-up work, film still has a unique magic!

Door Knocker, Salisbury Cathedral

Portrait of An Artist

I met an artist yesterday via a mutual friend. Her medium of choice is Encaustic Painting, involving the use of oil pigments suspended in melted beeswax. This technique is both ancient and challenging, and her studio showed evidence of mastery and enthusiasm. It seemed to me that the studio itself, covered with colour, was a portrait of the artist.

In addition to some black and white photos taken with my vintage Nikkormat, I also used my iPhone to capture some of the colour. My good friends Rob Lee and Katherine Matthews (also along for the visit) recommended the free Morelomo app, and as I love vintage/Lo-Fi photography I had to give it a try; I was quite happy with the results!

Lofi Paint Bowls

The Best Camera is the One You Have With You ….

It had been a disappointing day, to say the least. In Amsterdam for only four days, and the first full day we lucked into the worst rain the city had seen all summer. My photography got curtailed, and my wife will tell you I was not in a good mood.

In the evening we were scheduled to meet up with some of my wife’s relatives, and since the weather still sucked as we left our hotel to go back downtown, I made the decision not to bring the DSLR along. So of course, 15 minutes after we left, the weather miraculously improved, and all I had was my iPhone 3GS to capture the amazing light

After a long day of rain in Amserdam

I got a few decent shots with the iPhone, but I am still kicking myself for not bringing my main camera along 😦

Goodbye Kodachrome Retro Photo-walk 16 October, 2010

I’ve decided to take the plunge and organize a photo-walk in Kleinburgh to mark the passing of Kodachrome once it can no longer be developed after Dec/2010.

I have set up a Facebook event for it, but if you are not on Facebook, the info is reproduced below. Please let me know if you would like to attend and whether or not you wish to reserve a roll of film!

Goodbye Kodachrome Retro Photo-walk LOCATION CHANGE!!!

Date/Time October 16 · 10:00am – 5:00pm
Location Morningside Park, Scarborough Ontario.

We’ll meet at 2nd last parking lot (beside a playground), shoot for a while, then how about a late lunch?

More Info What better way to mark the passing of this legendary film than to shoot it one last time, a photo-walk capturing the beautiful fall colours in Kleinburg, Ontario (home to the McMichael Gallery and its renowned collection of Group of Seven art).

As of December, 2010 the one lab that still processes Kodachrome slide film will stop this service, and the glorious era of Kodachrome will end. While Kodak no longer sells Kodachrome, it is still available on eBay.

Depending on numbers, I can provide some Kodachrome at my cost, and provide instructions on how to get it processed. I have bought 14 rolls online so far, at an average cost of $6.33. I will buy more if numbers warrant. One roll per person, and people who confirm attendance with me will get priority.

You’re responsible for providing a 35mm camera. If you want to reserve a roll, let me know ASAP either here, or via email

Note: Digital photographers also welcome!

Edge Cases

I made this image of the Thames, London, while standing on the Millennium bridge about 2 weeks ago.


Exposure was a 1/4 second, handheld. While I love old film cameras, without the VR technology on my D90, there is no way I could have created this image in a film camera, without a tripod,

Celebrating the CommonPlace

Museum photography can be tough; images of art and artifacts seem to end up being mere record-keeping, like a receipt of what was seen, rather than interesting photographs in their own right.

Last week we visited the British Museum in London. This museum contains the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, etc. but here is a commonplace image I took, which I rather like. I saw this at a cafe in the gallery portion of the museum and was struck by the presentation of the fruit.

The irony is of course travelling thousands of miles for an image I could likely have found in Toronto.



I am currently on vacation in Salisbury, England and in a town like this, it is certainly easy to feel overwhelmed photographically speaking. The Salisbury Cathedral is certainly the most iconic object to make pictures of, and therein lies the challenge.

How do you find a way to take a photograph of something that has been photographed many times before, and be original (instead of just saving money on postcards)?

I think the answer lies in looking for a detail, perhaps even macro images. Each detail holds a story, waiting to be explored and communicated

Paying the Price

Since 1977, when I took today’s picture of a close-up of iris petals, I have moved about 6 times, and sadly I have lost the original slide. This is one of my favourite pictures, but all I have left is a slightly damaged Cibachrome print I made of it in the early 1980’s. I have always been somewhat disorganized when it comes to slides, negatives, etc. and this time it bit me!

An object lesson to take care of ones pictures, whether analog or digital.

Yellow Flower 1977

Social Media Has Changed My Photography

It has been some time since I was seriously into photography, and in that time, I have become involved a lot in social media, and it has had an interesting effect on my images. I am an introvert by nature, and in the past, taking pictures of people I didn’t know was difficult. Since getting into social media however, it’s been easier for me to meet new people, and now taking pictures of people I don’t know is getting easier.

A few weeks ago, along with my daughters I was involved in a video shoot for local Ontario singer/songwriter Andrea Gauster. I was playing a photographer in the video, and also took the chance to take a lot of pictures of the video shoot. While in position, waiting for the camera to roll, I saw another cast member perfectly posed, in great diffused light, so I went up and asked to take a picture (seen below).

I couldn’t have done that five years ago.


Lo-Fi iPhone Photography

I’m having fun working on one project right now, a lo-fi iPhone project capturing the experience of my daily commute to and from work on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). I go the work early, and am normally on the subway by about 6:20 a.m. At that time of day, one does not see the rich latte drinkers, or other privileged classes of Toronto that for so many people form their only impression of the city. One sees the working class, an awful lot of diversity, and often, sheer fatigue, which I tried to capture in the photo below, taken with the iPhone 3GS camera, then given a vintage, lo-fi effect which I feel was ideally suited for the mood.

TTC Monday Morning