The Value of a Good Shoeshine #portraits #photos

15 04 2017

This is Mr. Carter. He runs a shoeshine empire in Chicago. I can’t remember the number of chairs he has around Chicago but it’s significant. He does a great job from his double-chair setup in the Hilton on South Michigan Ave and if you get a chance to stop in you should. As with most places you can leave your shoes with him for later pickup but you would miss out on some great conversation and wisdom! 

I’m sure he has his moods offsite but on the job you will never find a nicer or more engaging individual. He can talk politics, federal or local, families, technology, or anything else you’re in the mood for. On occasion we touched on the fringes of theology (he is a God fearing man,) but he can go with the flow and you never feel as if he has a strong opinion he wants to impose on anyone else. 

His shoeshine, which I’m sure includes lots of environmental threats, is never rushed (which almost made me late to speak at a conference last year,) and seems to last just the right amount of time. A stop there borders on meditation, and I can’t imagine being in Chicago without a stop to see Curtis and to get a shine. I have had his shoeshine last six months! 

The snap was taken on March 18th with my Nikon D4 using the Nikkor 50f1.4 @ f4.5 and 1/250. 

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The Contractor #photos #portraits #photography

26 02 2017

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Occasionally I get time to do some studio work. This was done with two small studio flashes, 1/160th with my Nikkor 50f1.4 @ f16 and ISO 100 and the trusty D4. The flashes were about two stops offset, and I was shooting Elinchrom D-Lites. Mark was still covered in glue from working on some frames for fine art (one of this many talents,) and he is about to start producing handmade wooden furniture.

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Landscapes in the wild

28 01 2017

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This is a snap from a trip to Awenda Provincial Park in Ontario. It was just before sunset on a windy late summer evening and I was trying to capture the mood as the winds swept sands across the beach.

The D4 was cranking along with the Nikkor 50 f1.4 at f16 with an ISO 100. The shutter was a full one second, hand-held and I guess I’m a little steadier than I thought I was given the winds.

 





Distillery Photos

22 01 2017

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It’s time for more nighttime photography. This shot was taken in the Distillery District in Toronto with ambient light (and there wasn’t much of that.) As always, the D4 was working hard. I was using the Nikkor 50/f1.4 AF-D cranked almost all the way open and it is a dream to shoot with. It isn’t the least bit finicky (a real photographic term,) like my 60mm Macro. That thing is as unforgiving as any lens I have ever used and by the time if focuses (in low light or low contrast,) your subject has moved along.

There are lots of things to shoot in the Distillery District (abandoned truck shots anyone?) but I like to snap people. The tourists, the hipsters (not that there’s anything wrong with them,) the wanderers and the vendors…never a lack of subjects. Also some cobblestones, signs, brick buildings, and lots of lights and windows. If you time it right you can even shoot someone else’s wedding party!

If you wander into the Distillery District in Toronto make sure you drop into The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company and take a tour. Also drop in and see Zumei at Boku sushi and sample their amazing menu!

More photos coming. I am back working on some portraits so stay tuned.

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Toronto Distillery Whisky

15 01 2017

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I got to have fun today. You could put everything I know about whisky (or any booze for that matter,) in a shot glass. I got to hang out with Jesse Razaqpur, one of the founders of Toronto Distillery Co. and did a little shooting. I also got to sample one of the 54 bottles of rare, 3 years in the making, Organic Canadian Whisky. From the label its a Straight, Unadulterated, Not-Compounded, All Organic whisky, 50% ABV, and aged in a charred hickory barrel hand-made in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

How did it taste? It was deep, smoky, complex, spicy, and it tasted and smelled like whisky. It made me think of smoking a cigar or eating chocolate and smoking a cigar. I wanted to sit on a deck near a lake and watch sailboats bobbing on the waves. I wanted to listen to the water rocking the floating dock…the gravel rolling on shore with each wave. . .in short, I wanted to drink a glass outdoors, maybe with a drop of water…ok two drops (I mentioned it’s 50% ABV.) It made me think of the woods, the summer, the heat and sounds of being all alone. I mentioned I know nothing about alcohol right? It was a bit reminiscent of some bourbons I’ve had and I would say its smoother than a lot of rye whisky I have had over the years.

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I guess the bottom line is this, if you want to try this whisky you have to grab it fast because I suspect in two weeks it will be gone forever, sadly, just like the award winning Distillery. Sounds like they are closing their doors for good on January 31st. It’s a long story related to doing battle with the government and the cost of doing business in Ontario so I guess they will transition back to their other love (the law,) and hopefully we will see some of this magic another time…at this point you can still but a few products including J. R.’s Dry Organic Gin which is also listed at some LCBO stores. Check online for this offering or go and see them at their store. Their hours, directions, etc. are HERE.

As always, thanks to Jesse Razaqpur and Charles Benoit for the hospitality!

More shots coming. . .

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There is lawyer advertising and then, there is lawyer advertising. . .

14 01 2017

Not long ago, I attended the Clio Cloud Conference in Chicago. For anyone who doesn’t know, it is a user conference and it is spectacular as conferences go. Full disclosure here, I have known Jack Newton and Rian Gauvreau the founders of Clio, for more than 8 years and I have seen them go from nursemaids tending to a bold new startup…to commanders of a serious cloud-based practice management empire.

I have attended a lot of conferences in the last 8 or 9 years, often speaking on the doom and gloom topic of internet security and preserving client confidentiality, but I love attending the Clio Cloud Conference. There is such an energy created by the whole Clio team, but even more so by the wide-eyed attendees, many of whom return year after year. The last years have been in Chicago but in 2017 moves to the Birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans. I hope to attend, but first, more about the energy.

There was one speaker there, a young man named Bryan E. Wilson. You may have seen his advertising on YouTube before. He occasionally masquerades as the “Texas Law Hawk!”   and that linked video, his 3rd commercial, has more than 1.6M views! I remember Bryan talking about his video budgets and I don’t think they went over $1500, including beer for his friends/actors. To say Bryan is always “on” is an understatement. The dude is loud and he hardly ever abandons his persona of screaming, “I’m the Texas Law Hawk!” Its in your face full-time marketing and I know a few people I spoke to at an afterparty were pretending they were not from Texas. Bryan is that “crushing empty beer cans on the head” kind of party-goer. . .he is youthful I guess.

Before I say anything more about advertising, I should make it clear that any of my comments about advertising are my own views and NOT the views of my employer. In Ontario, advertising for lawyers is a new endeavour and the rules surrounding it are focused on truth, verifiability, and there is a more vague requirement not to cast the profession in a bad light. The regulator has started reviewing lawyer advertising/marketing in Ontario to see if it should be…tweaked, and there is nothing approaching the decibel levels or showmanship of Mr. Wilson. He is not unlikeable. I’m not sure I would approach him for my DUI but hey, I’ve never been to Texas, (and just to be clear, I don’t drink and drive…and to be even more clear, I don’t have a car.)

Anyway, I hope this portrait captures some of the energy, some of the fun, and the fundamental spark of life Bryan E. Wilson seems to possess:

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Backyard shots

5 04 2015
This is the only splash of colour in the backyard so far

This is the only splash of colour in the backyard so far. It has been a long Winter and there haven’t been a lot of occasions to step out and shoot.

I was out a few weeks ago and there was nothing but shades of brown as far as the eye could see. This was shot with one of my most finicky lenses, the 60f2.8 macro shot at f3.2 and 1/3200 at a nominal ISO 400. I washed it through Photoshop and added a quick tilt-shift. There’s smidge of boosting to the vibrance and saturation but hey, did I mention I was missing colour?

Looking for more opportunities to shoot non-commercial in the next few weeks although I have some tight deadlines on that stuff.

The birdhouse painted by my 8 year old astronaut. . .she was worried birds might not spot her house from the flyover 😉

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