Thursday, February 19, 2015

Photo Films on Vimeo

When I'm not out taking photos my next favorite thing is films and films about photos. While trolling through Vimeo I did a search for films about photography, photos, or pictures.  Here are some of the cool short films that I found. Time well wasted.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Michael Green

Lilac Festival 2012 - checking out the talent
Michael Green, 1957 - 2015

A huge hole has been punched in Calgary's creative community.  Michael Green co-founder of One Yellow Rabbit Theatre and the force behind the annual High Performance Rodeo winter festival was killed in a car accident near Regina two days ago.

The first time I saw Michael was when One Yellow Rabbit collaborated with local band Plaid Tongue Devils to produce the dark campy musical In Klezskavania. Michael played creepy, super-sweaty restaurateur Baron Leo VonTantamount. My date and I were seated at a cabaret-style table close to the stage, so were really close to the performers. In Klezskavania was like nothing I'd ever seen before. From the tributes I'm hearing on the radio, Michael loved the unusual and unexpected. (Will have to search "I'm the whaler" on YouTube.) Here's a video of In Klezskavania, produced by the Plaid Tongued devils.

The unusual and unexpected was especially apparent at the High Performance Rodeo. Michael's High Performance Rodeo made getting through Calgary's harshest winter month fun.  Every January, HPR showcased local and international performing artists at various venues. Ninjas, hoopdancers, masked mimes and musicians took over Olympic Plaza and the EPCOR Centre during the Snowblower Party.  An free outdoor party? In the dead of Winter?  Very cool.  Even caught a shot of Michael carving out his own ice sculpture.

Michael Green carving an ice sculpture at the 2012 High Performance Rodeo.
Even if you didn't attend the theatre or HPR, you may have seen Michael at festivals wearing his distinctive little hats, checking out the performers, possibly for future festival considerations.

Last night the Calgary Tower, the Langevin Bridge, and the lights along River Front Walk were turned yellow to honor Michael Green.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Shooting the C-Train @ Night

Last Saturday I had a blast jumping the C-Train stops in the downtown free zone with the Calgary Night Photography Meetup Group.  There was about a dozen of us spread out along the line.  We'd get off at each C-Train stop, take photos of whatever, and then jump on the train for the next stop.  Later we posted our shots on the Meetup page.

I took my super quiet Pentax k-5 and my fastest lens, a seldom used 50mm f1.4 prime.  Using a prime lens was a bit of a challenge, but also a bit freeing (just point, compose, and shoot). I'm thinking of retiring my zoom lenses for a little while.

Oh, did I mention it was a full moon night?

Weirdness abounded.

This guy is wearing some kind of animal skin around his neck.  I asked him if it was real (yes), then asked for permission to take his photo.  I didn't think to ask him what the animal was until later.  Comment on Meetup post: "gutsy."

The same guy, texting.

Night stories from other photographers that night:
  • a woman riding the train, drunk as a skunk with no pants; 
  • a police take down somewhere east of where we were (you could see the flashing lights and hear a pop, pop).  One person in our group, who was closer to the action, said the police were using "beanbag ammo."
  • a young fellow suddenly bounced beside me, arms stretched, yelling "take my picture."  When I turned my camera on him he acted like a vampire with a cross shoved in his face, covering his head with his arm and dashing away.

This one I didn't post on Flickr or the Meetup page, but I like it for the writing on the wall: "The wings of angels are often found on the backs of the least Least likely people." I imagined his guy might be a Least likely person.

This woman was talking really, really loudly on her cell phone in a language I didn't recognize.  It was almost like she was talking to someone so far away that she had to improve her cell phone connection by yelling.  I held my camera near my tummy and used the live view to try to catch her unawares.  

At one point I missed a train and had to catch the one that came next, alone.  Saw this woman and her reflection and thought it looked kinda cool. Then she pulled out a bottle of water.  Snap!!

On the last train, nearing the end of the line, this guy chatted us up.  Obviously wanting his photo taken, I obliged. He told us about working at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton and battling extreme winds on his way to work.

As it goes with all new experiences, I shot a few... a lot of dud photos.  Spent a bit of time figuring out how to control the extreme depth of field you get at f1.4. Tons of bokeh, but also some not-so-in-focus shots.

A kid smoking a vapor cigarette.

A photographer friend capturing a nice looking couple.  I focused on the couple when he suddenly turned around.  I took the shot, but wished that I was using an f-stop with less depth of field so that he was more in focus.

A moody shot of a drunk guy trying to get friendly with a young lady.

Then there were the totally out of focus shots I took on the fly and went artsy with using the k-5's pastel filter.

A speeding police car booting down the tracks, lights flashing.
A mother with her children, spotted when someone standing in front of me moved out of the way.  I couldn't auto-focus fast enough, but I kinda like this effect.
I did try to stretch myself by taking photos of doors and buildings, looking at textures and shadows, but somehow those obligation shots did not work as well as the moments that grabbed me.

As I do more night time photography the chorus to the song "I Love the Night" by Blue Oyster Cult is becoming my night shot theme song:
I love the night. The day is okay and the sun can be fun, but I live to see those rays slip away.