Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favourite Shots From 2012 (aka my 2012 Pic Picks)

The holiday season is a good time to look back and celebrate your successes and analyze your failures (I prefer to call them learning experiences). And looking forward, the new year is an exciting time full of anticipation of what's to come both known and unknown.

With that in mind, I wanted to do a retrospective of my photography for the year. My original idea was to do a Top 10 but I liked too many so instead I'm just calling it My Favourite Shots From 2012. :)

My only criteria was how the photos made me feel. Maybe it was the visual impact, maybe it was the technical challenge in putting it together, or maybe it was a happy memory of when the photo was taken. After putting these together, I realized it was a good exercise to learn a little bit more about myself as a person, a photographer, and what my favourite subjects are. Some things were fairly obvious such my love for motorcycles, sunsets and animals. However I did learn something interesting. Apparently I much prefer shooting the right side of motorcycles. I didn't say I learned anything deep.

In no particular order, here are my favourites from 2012:

1. The Bendy Photoshoot

(Click for larger photo)

(Click for larger photo)

Every year I plan a big motorcycle photoshoot where I get a couple models, make-up artist, a few different bikes, etc. I was at a loss as to what to do this year when a crazy idea fell in my lap. My friend Adrian from the YouMotorcycle blog asked if I wanted to a motorcycle photoshoot with a contortionist. So I bent over backwards to make this happen (did you get the pun?). It was amazing to watch these talented and flexible ladies right in front of me. It was like having a personal Cirque du Soleil performance! And they did it with grace, smiles and pointed toes.

Credits: Bendy in Black: Gabriella (Twitter @gabby_db), Bendy in White: Danielle Gnidec (Twitter @Gnidec) Makeup Shannon Spence (Twitter @shannonaveline), Motorcycles: YouMotorcycle and Mark Gornik.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Memories from September 11, 2001

The memory is an interesting thing. When significant events happen, your memory takes a snapshot of the things that were happening at that time. When September 11, 2012 rolled around I posted a status update on my Facebook wall:

"I bet you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing 11 years ago today."

Ground Zero of the World Trade Center Towers. Taken from the
Millenium Hilton in 2005 with my old trusty Fuji F601.

I received a number of responses. Here is a look into 23 different lives on September 11, 2001:
Paul : "I was teaching an AIX sysadmin class at IBM 3600; I had just completed the first lecture of the day and the class started to do labs. I logged onto Sametime and a friend pinged me saying 'Do you know what's going on? Planes have flown into the WTC!'"
Scott Forgie For our parents it was " where werr you when JFK was shot?"...but for our generation it was 9/11. I will never forget.

Me: "I was on the bus (TTC #53 Steeles East) listening to the radio on my earphones when I heard the news."

Matt: "Getting ready for school. Had a first period spare. It was picture day."

Kathy: "I was at work, listening to the news on the radio."

Marta: "Sure do"

Morrie: "It's funny, 11 years later and I remember it so clearly.

I took time off work to attend the Toronto Film Festival. The night before, I watched the movie "Heist" (at the Uptown Theatre) with the full cast. They all wanted to catch the red-eye back to New York, so they held a highly-unusual Q&A BEFORE the film. It was a great film. When the lights came up around 11pm, the cast of probably 50-100 people were gone - on their way back to NYC.

Around 8:45am on the 11th, I crawled out of bed, with literally one eye open. I turned on the TV to check on the weather - to see how I should dress for the Film Festival that day.
l'm standing there, in a sleepy daze seconds after the first tower was hit. The damage looked pretty minimal. I remember thinking "weird, I guess a Cessna crashed into the tower". I'm standing there listening to them trying to figure out what just happened. No-one seemed to know exactly what hit the tower. Minutes later, I'm still watching, transfixed, as the second plane (this one clearly a large jet) slams into the second tower. Then it hits me, this wasn't an accident, we were under attack. Minutes later, the other planes hit the Pentagon and the ground in PA. Not long after that the towers come down.

During the coming days, reports of casualties and missing people are everywhere. Closer to home, TIFF resumes, but bomb threats are being called in all over the city. Many screenings are cancelled and many stores are closed. Now I never grew up in a developing country or communist regime. This was the first time I got a glimpse of living in the fear of uncertainty. My freedom felt as if it was being taken away.

That day and every September 11th since, my heart goes out to the innocent people that lost their lives and the heroes that gave their lives saving others. You will never be forgotten."

Goran: "I just started second year at Western... Turned on cp24, checked the weather, saw something about a plain crash... But i was running late so turned the tv off and left completely clueless what that plane crash actually meant"

Ray: "I was in bed recovering from a m/c accident watching the morning news. Just one of those events that you will never forget where you were when it happened. RIP to all those who perished that day and since combating the threat of future terrorist attacks."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Weekend to End Women's Cancers

(Scroll to the bottom of this post to donate now)

This is my 3rd year volunteering in the Moto-Safety crew for the Weekend to End Women's Cancers. My role is to ensure the safety of the 100's of walkers at intersections across Toronto as they march 60 km's over September 8, 9. I also ride along the route to report any safety or medical issues. 

Margot and I in action! I traded in my traditional green mohawk
for a pink one. About the ears -- part of our job is to cheer and motivate
the participants (apparently kitschy is motivational)


Participants walk in memory of loved ones lost, for someone who is battling this disease, or are survivors themselves. They range in age from little wee ones to 100 years old! I have utmost respect for them all.

Every walker has their own story for why they're participating.
Norma carried these photos in her hand all day of her friend Karen
who is losing her battle with cancer. Handwritten on the
outside is "Walk For Karen. Best Friend. Love you
Forever!!!". It was very touching. The Motosafety
team does their job so people like this can walk safely.

These folks were walking for a family member, Sandra,
who lost her battle with cancer.

Sadly, everybody is touched by cancer. I'm sure you know someone in your family or group of friends that has been diagnosed with cancer. And no one is out of reach of cancer's grasp. Read this heart-rending story of Canada's youngest breast cancer survivor, Aleisha Hunter, at 4 years of age in 2010.

Please consider joining me to help cancer research in Canada by following this link and clicking the "Donate online now" button. You will also receive a tax receipt.

Money raised will go towards the Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute at The Princess Margaret Hospital.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lakeshore and Leslie aka L&L - Toronto's Largest Motorcycle Meet

Lakeshore and Leslie, aka L&L, is Toronto's largest motorcycle meet. Bikers from all over converge in the joint parking lot of Tim Horton's and Price Chopper in the Leslieville region of Toronto every Thursday. Hundreds of motorcycles will roll in and out anywhere between 7pm to after midnight. Some stay for the length of time it takes to drink a coffee while others will stay for a few hours. Being a bike night, attendance is of course somewhat dictated by the weather. Don't expect to see more than a few die hard regulars on a rainy evening.
A lineup of sportbikes by the Price Chopper
This meet had humble a beginning when it started 2006 by Kevin and Mike (thebronze and cagedcbr from ). There were no designs to make it the biggest meet in Toronto. They just wanted a place to hang out and have coffee. And apparently they wanted the option to buy fresh produce and lunch meat.
Ghostrider's motorcycle?
The thing I like about this meet is you'll never know what you'll see or who you'll meet for the first time! I've seen a boa constrictor, a dog that travels on a motorcycle, Ural sidecar, slammed and souped up scooters, a Suzuki Hayabusa with a built-in vibrator, bikes from the 70's and more! You'll see the whole spectrum of the motorcycle community from cruisers to sportbikes and customs to scooters. You'll see the accompanied range of people from all walks of life too. All are welcome here. I've met motorcycle builders, computer nerds, nurses, artists and many more types of people. But what you do or where you come from doesn't matter -- our love of motorcycles is what brings us together.

Marta, Raf and Reenie share Ighor's boa constrictor
Fiona's Ural sidecar rig with passenger Shaun
(more after the jump)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Photo of the Week (POW) - Krissy and Anton

Margot and I were spending a few days winter camping at our trailer, “More Grace” at MacGregor Point Provincial Park between Christmas and New Years. One of our favourite places to walk is Sunset Point, a small west facing peninsula about 500m long that tapers to a rocky point on Lake Huron. Apparently the sunsets are beautiful there but it's always been grey and overcast when we've been there.  If you stand just right, you can only see the waters of Lake Huron which is why they call the great lakes the Inland Seas. 

Last Wednesday we were making our way to Sunset Point with our poodle Sadie as is our daily routine.  As we were just starting up the peninsula, we were greeted by a lovely smiling young couple who were just heading back themselves from the point.  She asked if I could take their photo because he had just proposed to her! He proceeded to hand me a disposable camera. I have to give the guy kudos for being prepared with at least the bare minimum but I couldn't let this special moment be recorded by just a plastic lens.  So after clicking their disposable camera, I offered to take their photo with my digital SLR. 
Anton and Krissy, freshly engaged!
Nikon D7000 with 18-200mm VR1 with SB-800 above and to camera left
(click photo for larger image)
(more after the jump)