Posts in Category: Uncategorized

June 2012: Events Gaspé & more

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Stuff in this Blog:

• Excuses
• Cobourg Waterfront Festival: June 30-July 2, 2012
• Buckhorn Fine Arts Festival: August 17-19, 2012
• Quebec/Gaspé: June 2012
• Music: Beaches Jazz, More
• Photo Speak
• iPhone as a photographic tool 




Excuses, excuses!

As is usually the case, time has been my enemy: I just can’t seem to find enough of it to submit as often as needed to keep this blog updated.

Oh well, here at last is an attempt to do this. A short one, but some words nevertheless. And yes, a busy time it has been. Classes to teachand prepare for,at Durham College, various photo shooting assignments, some volunteer work and general image seeking.

Actually, this fall will be exciting at the college, as I have been working on a new course to be delivered to our third semester full-time photo students. The real challenge will be keeping them interested and engaged three hours weekly for 14 weeks! 


Events

Two events that I hope you might have a chance to visit (or, pass on the info to your friends and have them visit). I will be set up to sell images at the following two venues this summer.

I enjoyed this very much last summer: Yikes the first one is this coming weekend!

Cobourg Waterfront Festival: June 30-July 2, 2012
Art, crafts, Canada Day parades, celebrations, pubs, sailboats and more.
10:00am to 6:00pm daily


This next one has become a recurring favourite of mine. This year marks the 35th Anniversary edition of Buckhorn. Great show, fabulous art and a cultural gem held in the heart of the Kawarthas!


Buckhorn Fine Arts Festival: August 17-19, 2012

DATES & TIMES
August 17 – 19, 2012
Friday, August 17: Preview Night Gala 7-10pm,
Saturday, August 18: 10 am-5 pm,
Sunday, August 19: 10 am – 5 pm
ENTRANCE PRICES
Admission Friday: $20 good for re-entry all weekend
Saturday & Sunday: Adults: $7.00 Seniors/students: $6.00 Children under 12 free.
Art is available for purchase using Mastercard, VISA, Interac (debit) and Cash
http://buckhornfineart.com   

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Florida: Winter
I couldn’t resist taking a trip to Florida over the winter. 
Here are a couple of images from that trip.
 

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Quebec/ Gaspé: June 2012

Le Bic
On this trip to Quebec I wanted to bypass Montreal and head out on the St. Lawrence shore as far as I could. Eventually, this solo ride took me all the way to the far side of the Gaspé Penninsula and Percé.

As usual I rented a vehicle – mostly to have room for my photo kit, food and camping gear. This brand new Impala (yeah, I know, not my choice either) had room for all this and more. So for the most part I camped and with the exception of a few bad weather nights, this turned out quite well. Not that bad weather is a big problem; I actually enjoy shooting and camping in rainy cooler conditions than the hot sunny days that most others seem to hope for. But I will say that my second night in Le Bic was a bit wild. Le Bic is a provincial park 50 km west of Rimouski on the south St Lawrence shore. As I set up my tent to prepare for an evening of rest, food and evening light to capture, I was suddenly aware that my ears, nose and eyes were under attack from the largest swarm of blackflies ever assembled. No time to think, or put on DEET, I knew I had to get that tent up and fast. Once done, I realized I was staying in for the night:  No dinner, no shooting – just escape to the tent where the hungry little bloodsuckers couldn’t get me. Thankfully, today’s tents really do keep insects outside.

But tents don’t keep high winds from making things uncomfortable.

It started at around 11pm that same night.

Lying comfortably (at long last the scratching had eased the irritation, or at least I imagined it had) inside my sleeping bag, I heard the noise. Not really loud, but noticeable. Wind. Oh well, I’ll sleep through it. Twenty minutes later it became very loud and powerful. I awoke to the sound of thunder and a tent about ready to take off. Indeed it did just that. I felt the fly and all the pegs come loose. Were I not inside it would have completely blown into the St. Lawrence. Somehow I found the door zipper and went outside. It was a spectacular thunder and lightning show all around me.

Hanging onto the still partly attached fly and the rest of the tent – as if it were a sail in a hurricane – it began to rain. It rained buckets. I was soaked within seconds. By 1pm I managed to stuff all the wet gear in the trunk of the Impala and, with a dry towel, I somehow slept in the passenger seat.

I hadn’t realized how far north I had travelled. Sure I had driven east a long way but it was a surprise when it was light outside by 3:40am! Naturally that was it for my sleep as I was awake, tired and pretty much done with Le Bic. This was my second night in Quebec.

Percé
The second leg of the journey was largely uneventful until I arrived in Percé.
Percé is the one place that I had on my agenda. Bonaventure Island, a short boat ride away, was high on my list. Bonaventure: Only four square kilometres, an interesting history and most importantly, home to the largest colony of Northern Gannets anywhere. It didn’t disappoint. The roughly three-kilometer hike up to the north side was worth it. The birds are beautiful, plentiful (200,000 plus), noisy, entertaining and huge (wingspans of two metres). 




To see these birds up close is a wonderful experience. In the meantime I hope you enjoy viewing these images.






More
I love Quebec City. Always have. It is old, romantic, charming, has beautiful architecture, rich art and culture, interesting people and restaurants. Had a great evening in a bar called Pape George located in a 300-year-old stone building. The girls who worked there, Crystal and Dominiques were friendly and fun and in the midst of all this French culture, were hip enough to play Radiohead’s OK Computer in its entirety. As they said to mein their beautifully accented English, “music is its own language”. Later that evening a brilliant guitarist/songwriter called Clude Lepine played a set of covers and original work. Surprisingly most of his covers were in English. 


Claude Lepine performs at Pape George, Quebec City






The Basilica of SainteAnne-de-Beaupré


Quebec City Busker



Rural Quebec is so beautiful and seemingly endless. I drove over 4,000 kilometres. A good portion of this was on much less travelled side roads.

 






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Photo Speak
Some words about the photos: Yes, a few of them are technical – I reckon that’s the geek in me. But gosh, I love photography – all of it. The image, shooting the image, how I shot the image and (oh dear) the gear used to shoot the images. And now that I don’t use the darkroom so much, even the post-production is in its own way fun as well.

It is commonly believed that the use of a tele-converter (an expensive optical device that effectively lengthens the focal length of the lenses it is attached to) actually diffuses, or weakens, the sharpness of any lens. The higher the magnification (a factor of 2 or 3 times) will do this more so than, say a converter of 1.4 times. Some even suggest that any tele-converter is a bad thing. 

Being more conservative, I have a 1.4 converter, which effectively turned my gorgeous 70-200mm Nikon f/2.8 VRll into an (approximate) 100-280mm lens. I only lose one f stop, so my lens is still capable of shooting at a still reasonably fast f/4. My main camera is a full frame Nikon D700, but when I put this lens combination on my smaller sensor D300 it adds an additional factor of 1.5 onto the focal length! This ups my reach to 150-420mm, which it turns out, is a very nice focal length for shooting the Gannets seen here. I have spoken to other people who regularly use the Nikon TC-1.4 with little or no degradation in image quality. Whenever possible I attempted to shoot at f/5.6, but to get the highest shutter speeds possible I sometimes had no choice but to shoot wide open.

On another note I have recently been chomping at the bit to get my hands on one of the new wonders of the world (photographically speaking). Yes, there is a crop of new mirror-less cameras that I predict will become the biggest thing in photography since the wedding between the DSLR and the Macintosh computer. These cameras are cool, light, precise, vibration free (well, at least less so than a DSLR – no mirror) and most will have a large array of interchangeable lenses in the very near future. Some, the 4/3 sensor sized group, such as the Olympus, have a number of very sharp, fast lenses available now. My friend Trevor has and loves this. The new Fuji X-Pro 1 has three lenses to date – with more on the horizon. This camera is turning heads everywhere.

But I must say I am most intrigued with the Sony flagship mirror-less camera most of all. At $1400 CDN the Sony Nex 7 is not cheap, but is less than the Fuji, comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens (with several others available and more on the way).

Just a few of the things about this camera that have my attention are:

• Interchangeable lenses AND mounts – which will accept virtually any lens. Yes, this means your old Pentax, Canon, Leica, Nikon lenses will work with the right adaptor.
• beautifully designed ergonomic controls for every camera function
• high shutter speeds, high shooting rates (ten frames per second!)
APS-C CMOS sensor with a resolution of 24 megapixels
• 1080 60i/p in HD movie mode, external microphone input
• gorgeous black finish and a whole lot more

I cannot give a review of this camera as I do not, as yet, own one. I have played with it in the store. The temptation to take one home drove me nuts. Almost did it too. Perhaps I will in a couple of months.

The one thing I did not mention above is the size of the Sony Nex 7’s body. Think iPhone with a comfortable handgrip! All that precise responsive quality in a package so small is simply amazing. How cool to travel with such a camera body and lighten the load at the same time. Very soon, stores will be full of mirror-less cameras with large sensors.



The iPhone as a photographic tool
Speaking of the iPhone, I had some fun the other day using it as a creative tool. How fun to shoot square images with the Hipstamatic application. Vivid images drenched in rich colours and a hip look. Combine this with a good printer and high quality mattes and you’ve got some saleable images – I hope. There will be a few on display at Cobourg this weekend and again in Buckhorn. Some samples here from The Beach iPhone series:











Music

The Rex
As always I love promoting The Rex Hotel. I cannot say enough good things about this, my favourite music venue in Toronto. Located steps away from the subway at University and Queen, this place offers the best in jazz with bands from near and far with many surprises thrown in. All wrapped in a cozy atmosphere where the regulars and tourists feel equally at home.

http://www.therex.ca/

Beaches Jazz Festival
Less than a month away is the one musical happening that I feel is the best that Toronto has to offer. It certainly needs no promotion from here as the crowds clearly show its popularity. Every year I attend this and each time I am so happy I did. Music in the streets and it’s free. Concerts in Kew Gardens are also free. Food, fun, boardwalk and happy crowds – what more to ask for? A great event that all the family can enjoy.

July 20-29th. 24th season. The Beach, Queen Street East, Toronto.

http://www.beachesjazz.com/


House of Not
Speaking of music, my friends in House of Not have just this month released their follow up album: The Walkabout Part III: On the Madness of Crowds. Terrific music from this largely guitar and keyboard based progressive rock group. Their sound is big, complex; their music a continuing journey.
Here is a link to House of Not’s site:


–> http://www.houseofnot.com 

 

–>


OK. So there are some new words and pictures.
Thanks for looking.
John






All Photos©John Davidson Photography













June 2012

Stuff in this Blog:
• Excuses
• Cobourg Waterfront Festival: June 30-July 2, 2012
• Buckhorn Fine Arts Festival: August 17-19, 2012
• Quebec/ Gaspé: June 2012
• Music: Beaches Jazz Festival, More
• Photo Speak
• iPhone as a photographic tool
Excuses, excuses!
As is usually the case, time has been my enemy: I just can’t seem to find enough of it to submit as much as needed to keep this blog updated.
Oh well, here at last is an attempt to do this. A short one, but some words nevertheless. And yes, a busy time this has been. Classes to teach and prepare for at Durham College, various photo shooting assignments, some volunteer work and general image seeking.
Actually, this fall will be exciting at the college, as I have been working on a new course to be delivered to our third semester full-time photo students. The challenge is to keep them interested and engaged three hours weekly for 14 weeks!

 Events

Two events that I hope you might have a chance to visit (or, pass on the info to your friends and have them visit). I will be set up to sell images at the following two venues this summer.
I enjoyed this very much last summer: Yikes the first one is this coming weekend!
One:
Cobourg Waterfront Festival: June 30-July 2, 2012
Art, crafts, Canada Day parades, celebrations, pubs, sailboats and more.
10:00am to 6:00pm daily
Two:
This next one has become a recurring favourite of mine. This year marks the 35th Anniversary edition of Buckhorn. Great show, fabulous art and a cultural gem held in the heart of the Kawarthas!
Buckhorn Fine Arts Festival: August 17-19, 2012
DATES & TIMES
August 17 – 19, 2012
Friday, August 17: Preview Night Gala 7-10pm,
Saturday, August 18: 10 am-5 pm,
Sunday, August 19: 10 am – 5 pm
ENTRANCE PRICES
Admission Friday: $20 good for re-entry all weekend
Saturday & Sunday: Adults: $7.00 Seniors/students: $6.00 Children under 12 free.
Art is available for purchase using Mastercard, VISA, Interac (debit) and Cash.
http://buckhornfineart.com
Florida: Winter

Couldn’t stay away from Florida this winter. Shot a lot of images including these two:
 

Key West Harbour
Great Egret, Myacca Park, Florida

Quebec/ Gaspé: June 2012

Le Bic
On this trip to Quebec I wanted to bypass Montreal and head out on the St. Lawrence shore as far as I could. Eventually, this solo ride took me all the way to the far side of the Gaspé Penninsula and Percé.
Saint Augustin, Quebec

As usual I rented a vehicle – mostly to have room for my photo kit, food and camping gear. This brand new Impala (yeah, I know, not my choice either) had room for all this and more. So for the most part I camped and with the exception of a few bad weather nights, this turned out quite well. Not that bad weather is a big problem; I actually enjoy shooting and camping in rainy cooler conditions than the hot sunny days that most others seem to hope for. But I will say that my second night in Le Bic was a bit wild. Le Bic is a provincial park 50 km west of Rimouski on the south St Lawrence shore. As I set up my tent to prepare for an evening of rest, food and evening light to capture, I was suddenly aware that my ears, nose and eyes were under attack from the largest swarm of blackflies ever assembled. No time to think, or put on DEET, I knew I had to get that tent up and fast. Once done, I realized I was staying in for the night:  No dinner, no shooting – just escape to the tent where the hungry little bloodsuckers couldn’t get me. Thankfully, today’s tents really do keep insects outside.

But tents don’t keep high winds from making things uncomfortable.
It started at around 11pm that same night.
Lying comfortably (at long last the scratching had eased the irritation, or at least I imagined it had) inside my sleeping bag, I heard the noise. Not really loud, but noticeable. Wind. Oh well, I’ll sleep through it. Twenty minutes later it became very loud and powerful. I awoke to the sound of thunder and a tent about ready to take off. Indeed it did just that. I felt the fly and all the pegs come loose. Were I not inside it would have completely blown into the St. Lawrence. Somehow I found the door zipper and went outside. It was a spectacular thunder and lightning show all around me.
Hanging onto the still partly attached fly and the rest of the tent – as if it were a sail in a hurricane – it began to rain. It rained buckets. I was soaked within seconds. By 1pm I managed to stuff all the wet gear in the trunk of the Impala and, with a dry towel, I somehow slept in the passenger seat.
I hadn’t realized how far north I had travelled. Sure I had driven east a long way but it was a surprise when it was light outside by 3:40am! Naturally that was it for my sleep as I was awake, tired and pretty much done with Le Bic. This was my second night in Quebec.
Percé
The second leg of the journey was largely uneventful until I arrived in Percé.
Percé is the one place that I had on my agenda. Bonaventure Island, a short boat ride away, was high on my list. Bonaventure: Only four square kilometres, an interesting history and most importantly, home to the largest colony of Northern Gannets anywhere. It didn’t disappoint. The roughly three-kilometer hike up to the north side was worth it. The birds are beautiful, plentiful (200,000 plus), noisy, entertaining and huge (wingspans of two metres).
To see these birds up close is a wonderful experience. In the meantime I hope you enjoy viewing these images.

Gannet Landing, Bonaventure Island
Gannet Colony, Bonaventure Island

Northern Gannet #1, Bonaventure Island

More

There is much more to discuss from this trip. I love Quebec City. Always have. It is so old when compared with most other places in North America. It has plenty of charm, beautiful architecture, interesting people and many cozy restaurants.

The Basilica of SainteAnnedeBeaupré

Had a great evening in a bar called Pape George located in a 300-year-old stone building. The girls who worked there, Crystal and Dominique were friendly, fun and in the midst of all this French culture, were playing the entire OK Computer album by Radiohead.  As they said to me in their beautifully accented voices, music has it’s own language. Later a brilliant guitarist/songwriter, Claude Lepine, performed his own work as well as a lot of covers. Surprisingly almost all his covers were in English. A super fun evening.

Claude Lepine performing at Pape George, Quebec City
Busker, Quebec City

Rural Quebec itself is also beautiful. I drove over 4,000 kilometres.  A good portion of this was on much less travelled side roads. 

Rural Quebec #1

Photo Speak

Some words about the photos: Yes, a few of them are technical – I reckon that’s the geek in me. But gosh, I love photography – all of it. The image, shooting the image, how I shot the image and (oh dear) the gear used to shoot the images. And now that I don’t use the darkroom so much, even the post-production is in its own way fun as well.
It is commonly believed that the use of a tele-converter (an expensive optical device that effectively lengthens the focal length of the lenses it is attached to) actually diffuses, or weakens, the sharpness of any lens. The higher the magnification (a factor of 2 or 3 times) will do this more so than, say a converter of 1.4 times. Some even suggest that any tele-converter is a bad thing. 
Being more conservative, I have a 1.4 converter, which effectively turned my gorgeous 70-200mm Nikon f/2.8 VRll into an (approximate) 100-280mm lens. I only lose one f stop, so my lens is still capable of shooting at a still reasonably fast f/4. My main camera is a full frame Nikon D700, but when I put this lens combination on my smaller sensor D300 it adds an additional factor of 1.5 onto the focal length! This ups my reach to 150-420mm, which it turns out, is a very nice focal length for shooting the Gannets seen here. I have spoken to other people who regularly use the Nikon TC-1.4 with little or no degradation in image quality. Whenever possible I attempted to shoot at f/5.6, but to get the highest shutter speeds possible I sometimes had no choice but to shoot wide open.
On another note I have recently been chomping at the bit to get my hands on one of the new wonders of the world (photographically speaking). Yes, there is a crop of new mirror-less cameras that I predict will become the biggest thing in photography since the wedding between the DSLR and the Macintosh computer. These cameras are cool, light, precise, vibration free (well, at least less so than a DSLR – no mirror) and most will have a large array of interchangeable lenses in the very near future. Some, the 4/3 sensor sized group, such as the Olympus, have a number of very sharp, fast lenses available now. My friend Trevor has and loves this. The new Fuji X-Pro 1 has three lenses to date – with more on the horizon. This camera is turning heads everywhere.
But I must say I am most intrigued with the Sony flagship mirror-less camera most of all. At $1400 CDN the Sony Nex 7 is not cheap, but is less than the Fuji, comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens (with several others available and more on the way).
Just a few of the things about this camera that have my attention are:
• Interchangeable lenses AND mounts – which will accept virtually any lens. Yes, this means your old Pentax, Canon, Leica, Nikon lenses will work with the right adaptor.
• beautifully designed ergonomic controls for every camera function
• high shutter speeds, high shooting rates (ten frames per second!)
APS-C CMOS sensor with a resolution of 24 megapixels
1080 60i/p in HD movie mode, external microphone input
• gorgeous black finish and a whole lot more
I cannot give a review of this camera as I do not, as yet, own one. I have played with it in the store. The temptation to take one home drove me nuts. Almost did it too. Perhaps I will in a couple of months.
The one thing I did not mention above is the size of the Sony Nex 7’s body. Think iPhone with a comfortable handgrip! All that precise responsive quality in a package so small is simply amazing. How cool to travel with such a camera body and lighten the load at the same time. Very soon, stores will be full of mirror-less cameras with large sensors.
The iPhone as a photographic tool
Speaking of the iPhone, I had some fun the other day using it as a creative tool. How fun to shoot square images with the Hipstamatic application. Vivid images drenched in rich colours and a hip look. Combine this with a good printer and high quality mattes and you’ve got some saleable images – I hope. There will be a few on display at Cobourg this weekend and again in Buckhorn. Some samples here:

Morning Glories, iPhone Series on The Beach

Queen Street Ice Cream, iPhone Series on The Beach

Music

The Rex
As always I love promoting The Rex Hotel. I cannot say enough good things about this, my favourite music venue in Toronto. Located steps away from the subway at University and Queen, this place offers the best in jazz with bands from near and far with many surprises thrown in. All wrapped in a cozy atmosphere where the regulars and tourists feel equally at home.

http://www.therex.ca/

Beaches Jazz Festival
Less than a month away is the one musical happening that I feel is the best that Toronto has to offer. It certainly needs no promotion from here as the crowds clearly show its popularity. Every year I attend this and each time I am so happy I did. Music in the streets and it’s free. Concerts in Kew Gardens are also free. Food, fun, boardwalk and happy crowds – what more to ask for? A great event that all the family can enjoy.
July 20-29th. 24th season. The Beach, Queen Street East, Toronto.

http://www.beachesjazz.com/

 

House of Not
Speaking of music, my friends in House of Not have just this month released their follow up album: The Walkabout Part III: On the Madness of Crowds. Terrific music from this largely guitar and keyboard based progressive rock group. Their sound is big, complex; their music a continuing journey.
Here is a link to House of Not’s site:
http://www.houseofnot.com/
OK. So there are some new words and pictures.
Thanks for looking.
John

All Photos ©JOHN DAVIDSON PHOTOGRAPHY

August Post (Happy BD Sid)


Stuff in this Blog:

• Buckhorn Fine Arts Festival: August 11-14, 2011
• School Year begins – Soon
• Beaches Jazz Festival: July 2011
• Florida: July 2011
• Saira, Ryan & More: June 2011
• Montreal: June 2011


Buckhorn Fine Arts Festival: August 11-14, 2011



Yes, next weekend, Buckhorn celebrates its 34th annual Fine Arts Festival. I am honoured to be one of the exhibitors again this year. This marks my fifth (?) year of showing/selling photographs at Buckhorn. It has been named one of the top 100 Festivals in Ontario and what a wonderful place, nestled as it were, in the midst of the Kawarthas. Watch for artists’ presentations, workshops, live entertainment and of course, original paintings, jewelry, photographs, drawings and sculptures to purchase. If you have the time, please come and visit my booth. I will have images from recent visits to Cuba, Key West and Montreal among others, as well as some newer music shots.

DATES & TIMES
Thursday August 11: 7 pm-10pm Preview Night

Friday August 12: 10 am-8pm

Saturday August 13: 10 am-6 pm

Sunday August 14: 10 am-5 pm
ENTRANCE PRICES
Admission,
Thursday: $15.00 with re-entry all weekend

Friday thru Sunday:

Adults: $7.00

Seniors/students: $6.00

Children under 12 free
Art is available for purchase using MasterCard, VISA, Interac (debit) and Cash.
http://buckhornfineart.com


School Year begins Soon

Holy! Only three weeks and I will need to get organized to face classes at Durham College once again. Teach five classes in photography this September. Look forward to another exciting semester. Must keep saying the mantra “I won’t let mobile phones get to me”!

Beaches Jazz Festival: July 2011



Ok, so I am not only a photo geek but pretty much a music addict too. Not all music gets my attention and rather than saying what does not appeal to me I’d much rather focus on what does. The Beaches Jazz Festival sure does! The third weekend in July gets a spot on my calendar every single year. No, it is not strictly a jazz festival in the true sense of the word (actually, these days, not many jazz festivals are). In fact, I would have to say that having ‘jazz festival’ in its name in some ways blurs the definition of what is actually played. Yet, mixed in with this was indeed some more traditional jazz and a lot of awfully talented musicians playing very interesting music. This festival has about it such a warm and friendly atmosphere. The fact that there are so many children and dogs (almost a pre-requisite to either live in, or visit the ‘Beach’), does not take away anything. In fact it adds to its charm.


Some of the bands who come to mind from that weekend are; Fathead (perennial favourites), The Sultans of String – truly gifted and wonderful musicians all, steered by the infinite skills of their leader and talented violinist Chris McKhool – these guys are adept at playing almost anything and making it sound magical; Rockit88, led by the festival’s own artistic director, Bill King and a number of other bands including the jazz infused KC Roberts (who has managed to get bookings all around, including at my favourite haunt, The Rex). Speaking of The Rex and images of music, one of my Contact 2011 venues was indeed the Rex Hotel. The management there, Avi and Bob, have asked that I leave the exhibit of jazz images up for a while longer. I don’t expect it will come down for some time yet.
But my most memorable musical moments of the Beaches weekend occurred on Sunday afternoon. What a great idea to put the Lionel Young Band, followed with Red Baraat at the end of the weekend. We (friends, Trevor, Stan and myself), were completely taken by both of these bands. I don’t wish to do a music review here, so suffice to say that Lionel Young left me speechless. Their groove, their mixture of blues, funk and jazz, was the most refreshing, innovative sound I’ve experienced in a long time. The trumpeter, Andre Mali, has rewritten the meaning of cool; think Miles Davis meets Prince. Oh yeah, he plays a mean trumpet too! 






The last band to appear at the festival, indeed its closer, was a complete surprise in sound and presence: Red Baraat. These guys infuse a mixture of Indian rhythm Bhangra, jazz and world, with a measure of funk thrown into the pot. Quite an experience to feel the energy led by dhol player Sunny Jain and his almost equally energetic band members. You will see what a dhol looks like in the images below. Very difficult to describe Red Baraat’s sound, just don’t miss the chance to experience them wherever they play.





The images which appear here of Lionel Young, Red Baraat and others at that afternoon Kew Gardens locale, were taken with my Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 lens. To get that high shutter speed and limited depth-of-field yet still maintain the tight image structure that comes with shooting at an ISO of 200, I shot either wide open, or close to it – certainly never smaller than f/4. Additionally, I opted for the extra reach of the D300 crop sensor rather than my full frame sensor camera. At these lower ISOs, I honestly can’t see a qualitative difference in images between the APS or full-frame sensor size.

Florida: July 2011
How lucky am I? Someone close to me has a home in Florida – which at the time wasn’t occupied – so I was asked if I would like to stay for a few days. Not being the type to turn down free lodging while travelling (how often does this happen), I jumped at the chance. Never have I had the opportunity to go to Key West either, but this is something I managed to get on the agenda. So, with enough Air Miles to pay for my return flight I headed off to Sarasota as my starting off point. Sarasota has a lot to offer including beautiful beaches, access to many spots on the Gulf Coast and of course great weather. 






Close by is a place called Myacca River State Park, one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks. This place contains a variety of wetlands, prairies and woodlands, where one can hike, fish, camp observe wildlife and of course, photograph stuff. Probably saw more wildlife in two days at this place than one might hope to see in years anywhere else: Deer, armadillos, raccoons, eagles, green anole (Chamelion), vultures, wild pigs, wild turkey, herons, egrets, fish, alligators galore of course and much more. The terrain at Myacca is both diverse and unique. I will return on my next visit to the area.
Ok, so I didn’t mention the one irritating thing. A biting fly appropriately named noseeum. They are not much fun and are hard to see (No-see-um – get it?). They can be found in many places in the state, but the Everglades and Myacca seem to have more than they deserve.








Had always heard of Key West but never had the time to get all the way down the Keys. This trip I made the effort. At times it felt as if one would never arrive, but eventually I did. On the way I saw endless bridges over the ocean, gorgeous beaches and fishing piers. I thought Key West would be the same. In fact Key West was nothing my imagination had prepared me for. It is old, densely populated and charming. Its coastline is coral and its only beaches man made. Much of the population is made up of tourists who arrived by car, like myself but Key West is also a cruise ship destination, or stopover. Yet there are many who have been here since the early 70s. I met people who were drawn to the area for its warm climate, isolated location, and free spirited approach to life. Artists, musicians a few pirates and the odd juggler inhabit the old part of town.








Mallory square at sunset (every single night) is a great place to meet some of the artists. The older bars and restaurants on and around Duval Street are a draw for every new visitor to Key West. Yes, many of the tourists join other ‘parrotheads’ hoping to get a glimpse of Jimmy Buffet in Margaritaville. Ironically he was playing in Toronto while I was there.


Yet some of the bars, notably Schooner Wharf and more specifically, The Green Parrot, cater as much to locals as they do tourists. The location and view that is offered at Schooner Wharf is ideal. A must visit for its atmosphere, food and music. Schooner’s is a great place to have breakfast outdoors, where an interesting group of regulars meet up daily. You might catch The Raven Cooper Band with Bubba Low Notes on any given day.




The Green Parrot on the other hand, is off the beaten path and seems to draw even more of the local crowd.






The place is legendary. Has been around since 1890, serves up the best dark rum and ginger beer drink you could ask for and gets reviewed with the highest accolades as the best, or near best bar in America – this from a variety of sources (including Playboy Magazine, or so the sign outside states). Manager, John Vagnoni proudly showed off the latest write up mounted on the wall just seconds before I took his photo. Music here is original and quite often the best in the Key. There is mutual respect and appreciation between musicians and the audience. You can even see Watermelon Slim play the Parrot on occasion. He’s the real deal. Of course, there is no sniveling at the Parrot.



Always loved the look of approaching storms and the ominous skies that accompany them. Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint. On the way to my return flight I stopped to enjoy the view of the bridge crossing the ocean. Skies were blue with a few clouds, within minutes everything changed. Thunder, lightning and the darkest clouds imaginable made their presence known. Great storm.


I am anxious to return to Florida and to the Keys. 

Saira & Ryan & More: June 2011
What a nice young couple I met recently. Saira and Ryan are to be married next month and I have the honour of taking their wedding photos. I did some fun engagement photos of them last month. Here is a sample of that day.



Speaking of marriages, Nadia and Nathan had a lovely June wedding and have agreed to let me put up a few shots from their beautiful day. Their now joined families are two of the most wonderful one could meet.




Montreal: June 2011

Last month, I took a few days to head for Montreal. I don’t get to this city as often as I would like. One always feels the excitement and unique cultural disposition while there – this trip was no exception. I remember years ago while attending the jazz festival (Montreal boasts a truly great jazz festival!) when I was introduced to the first of what would be several live performances I would see by the incredible young jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny. Montreal has remained one of his favourite places to play with audiences wild about his musical skills.


Unfortunately, although Montreal is an exciting place to be, my most recent trip occurred in the midst of a heat wave, resulting in light that was direct and intense (I had hoped it might be overcast). This is not always a recipe for great photographs. I did manage to come away with a few good images – some of which I have put up here. 


I love art of all kinds – yet not everyone can create art. The one visual observation I came away with more than any other is this: Yes, some spray painted graffiti is edgy, perhaps political, has a message even and once in a while, has artistic merit. But surely, not everyone capable of yielding a can of spray paint is an artist? No more than anyone who buys a paint brush and water colours can paint, or claim to create art. Many of these bits of graffiti are simply out to deface public and private property without any artistic vision or message. There are, I’m sure, areas of buildings in Montreal which haven’t been sprayed, so perhaps it’s only me who just didn’t notice them. Thankfully the old, grey buildings of ‘Old Montreal’ remain historically true. I am not knocking Montreal -Toronto, Birmingham, Glasgow and many other cities have graffiti – but enough already with the spray paint. Given my complaints I have still included one or two interesting graffiti images.