Alright, I signed up for nablopomo. That means I’ll be posting every day for the month of November. I don’t know, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Also, I’ve been on twitter for a little while now. You can follow me here if you want. It’s possible my daily blog posts will be made in 140 characters each.

pics from my new Yashica

So I got my first roll from the Yashica processed and scanned to cd (holy crap it’s expensive! I’m going to have to find somewhere else I think) and I’m pretty happy. Mostly I was just trying to put the camera through it’s paces so I could see how accurate the light meter is, how the lens performs wide open, at how slow a shutter speed I can handhold, etc. The negatives look a bit underexposed in some of the lowlight situations, so I think I’ll want to get a handheld light meter eventually, but for now I think it’s ok. Overall, I’m impressed. Here are a few samples from the roll.



I really, really like the last one…

I’m an idiot but my friend’s cool!

So it’s dare week for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and I still haven’t come up with a dare that’s challenging but do-able. I have, however, created a new 2010 calendar, and if you buy it, I will donate all the proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. This new calendar features images from my 2007 trip to South Africa that aren’t displayed in the gallery here and that I’ve never offered for sale. You can preview all the images in the calendar here. The calendars I sold last year are also still available, updated for 2010, and I will also donate 100% of the proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Happily, my friend, Janna, has come up with a fantastic dare. She and her family are eating a typical Malawian diet for the week. That means no booze, no juice or pop, no prepared foods, and a limited menu of beans, Nsima, the Malawian staple of corn meal, and beans. They’re even inviting us over for dinner tomorrow night.

Funnily enough, when I told my husband that we were going for a Malawian dinner of Nsima (the South African version is called mielie pap), he mentioned that he’s actually kind of already done the challenge. Years ago, when he lived in Toronto, he could only afford a $5 sack of corn meal, and because his job was a long commute, he only had time and energy to cook it once a day. Within a few weeks he started getting paid, and then he shifted to Chinese buffet once a day.

The great thing about this dare is that anyone can donate online. So please go support her. The Stephen Lewis Foundation does wonderful work, and this dare is a genuine challenge for them that requires a lot of thought and planning to actually carry it out.

So what are you waiting for?

more snippets

Yesterday I received a list of the other artists being included in Mother/mother-. There’s only one other Canadian besides me. Her name is Lindsay Page, she’s also a photographer, and her work is amazing. So go check it out.

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In other news, after months of planning to start upgrading my BA in English to an Honours BA in Studio Art in January, I’ve done a total about-face. I had been hoping to do 2 courses a semester for the first few semesters, so I could get through the first year prerequisites and to the stuff I really want in the photography classes in about a year. But I discovered this week that the studio art classes have 6 hours of classes per week each, and another 6 hours of homework. Which means I could only do one class a semester, and then I’d probably have to choose between photography time and family time, since the homework probably wouldn’t involved photography. And that kind of choice just doesn’t seem tenable at this time, especially when what I really want to do is improve my photography. I also realized that the core photography classes are all film-based, and mostly 35 mm I think. Now, I do want to learn more about film and darkroom techniques, especially colour printing, but I’d rather have a course about film practice, a course about digital practice, and a bunch of courses about personal vision in which you could pick your poison – film, whatever format, or digital. Finally, I also discovered that the darkroom has very limited hours, which would make it even more difficult for me to balance my family life, work life, and student life. Add all those realities to concerns I’ve had about art school all along (mostly worries, probably unfounded, that all the theory will make my work suck [more] or give me analysis paralysis), and that’s how you get a total about-face. So now I will probably become obsessed with discovering other avenues. A certificate in Photography from Ryerson may be one, although I really don’t fancy driving into Toronto one night a week all winter.

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Look what arrived on Thursday morning, a day earlier than expected?!?

new toy

I’ve shot a roll on it but it’s not processed yet. I’m curious to see whether the meter is accurate at all, and whether any of the frames are in focus… Also to what shutter speed I can hand-hold it. With no mirror slap and no heavy lens out front, I’m hoping for at least 1/60 but 1/30 would be sweet.

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David duChemin posted the other day about being present when you’re shooting. And waiting beyond the boredom. It really spoke to me, as I’m becoming increasingly aware of my impatience when shooting. I can go out on the streets with the intention of finding a place and waiting for something to happen, and I just can’t bring myself to sit down and wait. I just keep walking around until I decide to go home, with virtually nothing shot. (As Anya said in the season 6 episode of Buffy I watched last night, “I tried being patient but it took too long!”) It’s either that, or as I think I’ve mentioned here before, I shoot continuously and compulsively, often shooting the same frame over and over again.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out with my neighbour Joan to visit her husband, Royce, who lives in a long-term care facility. I spent 2 to 2 1/2 hours with her all told, and I only shot 50 frames. I watched and I waited. These are my favourites:

Backing out of the driveway from the home she and her husband built…

Although he’s retained his sense of humour despite his stroke dementia, she told me he’s not the man she married.

I’m a bit worried these pictures make her look impatient, and she’s so good with him.

She said the house was really bright when they first built it, but since the trees they planted have all grown up, it’s really dark now.

She’s making Christmas ornaments to be sold at a craft sale for Royce’s home.

Royce’s bed.

update on my latest obsessions and NYC

Once again it’s been too long since I blogged. My day job is insane right now, and it means I have very little mental space and energy for things photographic. I’ve also been trying to keep up with the books I have out of the university, without much success. The one book I’ve been really enjoying is Photography After Frank by Philip Gefter, former Picture Editor for NY Times. One of the reasons I’m enrolling in school next semester is that I really want to learn more about the history of photography, and the essays in this book are really all about that. I’m only about a quarter or a third into it, but I can confidently recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the last 50 years of the medium.

I’ve also been obsessing over the purchase of a new (to me) camera. I’ve been noticing that the best portraits are often made with large format cameras, which require a very slow process to create a single image. I find working a digital SLR, especially for portraits, has pros and cons. It’s fast so you can capture actions and moments really well. But it’s also a big black machine that I have to have up to my face to get those moments. And I’m generally very impatient, so the speed suits me. But I want to slow down a bit, to become a bit more deliberate. And I want to have the ability to make pictures without a big black machine in front of my face. Also, I’ve been loving the square aesthetic lately, and although I can crop my digital pictures to square, I like to frame very carefully while I’m shooting, and I can’t really see the square that well. So for all those reasons I’ve decided to try medium format, with a twin lens reflex. I’ve been losing auctions left and right on ebay and checking out stuff on craigslist and kijiji. So far no camera, but with any luck I’ll have some kind of Yashica Mat soon. They have a waist level viewfinder which reverses the image left to right so that should slow me right down, along with the manual exposure and the possibility of not even having a meter in camera. No doubt I will experience extreme frustration in the beginning, but hopefully I’ll get through it and my photography will improve.

I promised a while back that I’d give details about the Mother/mother- exhibit and opening reception when I had them, and I’ve had them for a while. The exhibition opens on Dec. 2, and the opening reception is on Dec. 3. I believe it will be up for the month of December. I’m still trying to decide what we’ll do. Originally I’d planned to go up with my whole family but now that I’ve looked into prices, I’m not sure. I find it slightly horrifying that a few nights in NYC will cost at least as much as a week or two in the Dominican Republic, to which my sister and her family just moved last week. So now I’m wondering if perhaps it makes sense for me to find a friend to travel with. I’m even considering not going (I’d feel out of place! What would I wear?! I’d have to pretend I’m smart and gregarious!), but I’d like to meet Jennifer Wroblewski, who’s curating the show and who has been very supportive of my work. I’d love to experience NYC with my husband, but the idea of leaving our son for a few nights kind of terrifies me. Anyways, I’ll figure out something.

Thanks to that exhibition, another opportunity has opened up. It’s looking like the two pictures that are being included in Mother/mother- will also be included in The M Word: Real Mothers in Contemporary Art. I find this very strange. I’m all for being in a book about real mothers, but me? IN contemporary art? I don’t know… Anyways, you can pre-order the book, which is being published by Demeter Press, a very cool publisher out of York University focused exclusively on motherhood.

I’ve had so many rejections lately that I find I don’t really believe these good bits. But a wise friend reminded me that all arts generate more rejections than acceptances, and you just have to guard the acceptances fiercely, which is easier said than done. But I’ll try.

So that’s all for now.