Footsteps in the snow #politics #security #borders

12 02 2017

It’s the dead of winter 2017. I have to say I’m still wrestling with whether I will cross into the USA during the next four years. 

I’m not the most political person but I look at everything happening to the South and I wonder what happened to the Americans. They talk a great game about freedom of speech and the right to bear arms but I’ll take our protections anytime over theirs. We have tonnes of guns. It’s fairly easy to get rifle or shotgun in Canada but there is a rigorous background check and a mandatory safety course. It’s more rigorous if you want a handgun but not impossible. There are more courses, more background checks, and you don’t get to carry it around with you…but neither does anyone else. Governments shade the truth…so far the new Trump government has shredded the truth. What hope for a peaceful future?

Now Canada contemplates Bill C-23. The Preclearance Act 2016 will give powers to US border agents to search Canadians on Canadian soil. We have people fleeing into Manitoba to get out of “TrumpAmerika.” Some think it’s not a big deal, a matter of convenience for preclearance and speedy travel. I’m concerned when a Canadian border person doesn’t search me or my personal devices and a US authority wants to search me. 

I’m not sure what’s next. I don’t know who will upset the thin-skinned one. Will he yank off some world leaders arm with his crazy handshake? Will he use a nuclear option? Will there be any reason to visit our neighbours? We have food. We have oil. We could close our borders too. We don’t need to take American wood, electricity, chicken, beef, nor anything else really. Heck, we even have our own lobster. 

Stay tuned…I may get more annoyed. 

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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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Global Warming #winter

21 01 2017


OK, so I’m 99% sure I took this with my ailing iPhone 6 and not the Nikon beast but I thought it was worth capturing the moment. 

Where did the winters go? Will our kids ever see the winters we saw with snow banks far above our heads on a weekly basis? I have always been a fan of NASA and they nicely sum up the last few thousand years of our climate. The 17cm rise in sea level in a century, the temperature increases over the last 35 years, ocean temperature rise, and strangely nothing about the Chinese conspiracy to make us think there’s a danger to humanity. 

Let’s hope the world “leaders” wake up too warm and realize it’s time to do more. Our kids know this so what’s wrong with the adults? 

Mini-rant over. I suppose I could examine some of the arguments but really, look around. Notice your climate changing? Feeling warmer or colder than you remember? Less snow? Drier than you remember? More flooding? 

We should collectively give our heads a shake…like a Polaroid. 

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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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A Little Bit of Whisky #photos #whisky

7 04 2015

  So this is real whisky. It’s distilled in Toronto, Ontario. It is small batch and it is organic and made from local grains with a visible mash bill (it’s there on the label). It’s not technically Canadian whisky according to the Regulations that accompany the Food and Drug Act:

B.02.020. [S]. Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky, or Rye Whisky

(a) shall

    (ii) be aged in small wood for not less than three years…

There is some other stuff in that regulation about potable alcohol distillates, grains being saccharified by the diastase of malt, and strangely how it has to “possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky”…but I digress. Is it any wonder the Toronto Distillery was started by two lawyers?

Note: this whisky doesn’t contain caramel nor flavouring (both allowed in Canada)…it is a clear organic spirit…

Try it…might be worth the trip. 

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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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ABA TECHSHOW – Shortcomings of technology? #ABATECHSHOW

3 04 2014

ABA TECHSHOW - Shortcomings of technology? #ABATECHSHOW

This guy was at ABA TEACHSHOW in Chicago last week and needed a charge on his device – I didn’t look closely but he’s probably using the battery vampire otherwise known as iOS 7. The charging station was a great idea but like a lot of things at Techshow it came up just a little short for me.

The good:

There were standout speakers and some great presentations about some unexpected things. I liked Ernie Svenson’s (Ernie the Attorney) meet the author session and Pul unger’s as well. These guys somehow made their sessions interesting.

Another standout for me was Randy Juip on making your trial presentation interesting! It was the best presentation about presentations I have seen and I would love to get this guy to talk to every person who has ever made me sit through a PowerPoint. I think he should have to learn Prezi though 😉

Another cool thing was watching Ian O’Flaherty (Lit Software) tweaking someone’s TrialPad software (Melissa Fuller Brown’s in fact,) at 2 AM in the Conrad Hilton Suite! That was service and that’s one of the things about Techshow, its hard to find people who won’t go the extra mile (kilometre,) and they do it with a smile.

The Clio boys (and girls) were awesome as always (full disclosure, they are good friends) and they made an announcement about their recent funding that probably caused some shudders in their cloud platform competitors. They still act like a tech startup but they are smart like foxes and the effortless part in the front is driven by a lot of work behind the curtain.

I chatted with the PKware people about Viivo which encrypts files on your email, DropBox, Box, GoogleDrive, and SkyDrive. It’s pretty much drag and drop and so far (I have it on my phone,) I like it.

Also a quick shout out to fellow Canadian Stephen Starkman from Primafact. They do paperless solutions for medium/larger firms. It’s not something that I have a need for (my employer is paperless and I am a paperless photographer,) but Stephen’s photography is amazing!

Most important thing at Techshow for me was to go and talk to other lawyers and vendors. Find out about the tech they like. What are they using in their offices? What is happening in their Bar? Are there trends? Are there threats? Are there risks? Take your head outta the sand and see what’s going on in the world.

The less than good:

The WiFi at Techshow. . .

I went to a few sessions that were duds. There was no flow to the presentations and I left one after 45 minutes that probably never got to the point, didn’t have a lot to do with tech, nor did it really hit the title or summary of the presentation that was described in the agenda.

The wrap:

John Dean was the featured speaker on the last day. Former White House Counsel who made that trip to the big house after testifying against certain parties as part of a plea bargain. Not a cool position. No lawyer wants to be a witness, and I assume most don’t want to end up in the showers in prison (jail) either, even if you end up with a speaking/book circuit later. This was the second Nixon-related speaker at ABATECHSHOW in 3 years. Dean was preceeded by Ben Stein. Will G. Gordon Liddy be next?

Overall a fun year. A few people I missed seeing this year but I’ll catch them on Twitter or in the future. Toronto isn’t a bad place to visit and a quick hop from Chicago if anyone is so inclined. . .

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