Trump Hotel

I had some free time on Tuesday before meeting up with someone downtown. I thought I would put that time to good use and drop by the new Trump Hotel and see all the going-on's on its grand opening day.  I was greeted with an orderly crowd and I didn't personally witness any evil shenanigans.  There were a lot of creative signs and people were vocal but mostly in good spirits. 

There were about 10-15 Trump supporters around and no one antagonized them and they didn't push their views on others except for two outbursts.

I don't consider myself to be a protestor. If it weren't for my free time and desire to capture the moments, I would be unlikely to show up at Trump Hotel. The atmosphere was orderly and peaceful.  I left feeling good that people were able to assemble without smashing store windows or getting in each other's faces.  What was the most surprising to me was my co-worker's reaction when he heard I was at the hotel. He thought anyone who went was an idiot.  He believes that the idea of making your voice heard by protesting is pointless because you would change nothing. I can't help but to think that if everyone feels the same, indeed nothing would change. 

 The man directly under the sign was eager to get his point across.  He shouted "Trump has done more for women and black people than anyone else.  Hail Trump! Hail Trump!"  No one shouted back at him. They simply stood in front of him. 

The man directly under the sign was eager to get his point across.  He shouted "Trump has done more for women and black people than anyone else.  Hail Trump! Hail Trump!"  No one shouted back at him. They simply stood in front of him. 

 "Who is Trump and why can't I have some snacks?"  

"Who is Trump and why can't I have some snacks?"  

The tired protester. Not sure why it's even there. 
The tired protester. Not sure why it's even there. 

Umbrella

"It was a rainy day in Vancouver" may not be an expected start to most crime dramas, but it would be a critical factor to the one I witnessed.  

It was a rainy day in Vancouver.  It was not unlike any other winter day before it as I sat on the Canada Line train connecting between Downtown Vancouver and Richmond, BC.  My train of thought while on the Canada Line generally consists of few different topics.  It usually starts on my amazement on how Translink could underestimate the ridership so much which resulted in some random strangers rubbing up against me due to overcrowding or other unknown reasons.  I tend to move to the thought of glorious sleep at some point on my train ride.  All aspects of sleep tend to be pleasing to me.  It could be the thought of a warm bed or the pleasure of sleeping in late.  Next thing you know, my eyelids get kind of heavy and I start to nod my head.  My initial head nod is not unlike the head nod that one would use to acknowledge an acquaintance walking past you in a hallway.  It's gentle and dignified with a small dip of the chin.  As my mind grows cloudy and inch towards a narcoleptic wonderland, my head nod gets ever so violent.  It is not unlike a headbanger at a Led Zeppelin concert supercharged on Redbulls.  None of those things happened on this specific train ride because I was captivated by an umbrella.

The umbrella had a bright red handle that can't be missed.  The curved, glossy ruby handle is leaned up against the dreary, off-white train wall.  The colours were in such contrast, the handle almost appeared  playful and full of energy.  There was no one in the immediate vicinity of the umbrella.  Someone had tragically left it behind on the train.  I was pitying the person who had to trudge through the sticky rain to get home without his/her umbrella.  The thought was fleeting as I started to imagine what a picture of this umbrella would look like.  

I was visualizing an empty train with this solitary yet vibrant red umbrella.  A scene of rows of vacant seats with the playful yet lonesome umbrella left behind.  I could almost imagine the feeling of emptiness when I saw the picture in my head, yet the colour of the umbrella was anything but empty.  As I looked forward to the terminus station where people would leave the train and perhaps grant me a quick moment for a picture, a girl sat down next to the umbrella that I should refer to as "Ella".  

The girl looked like she was in her early 20's, and she was travelling with another girl.  They were both standing next to the train doors before the taller girl sat down next to the Ella.  The shorter girl remained standing as they carried on a conversation in a foreign language.  Lanky, who was sitting down, soon noticed Ella leaning against the wall.  I could only assume that Ella's beauty also captured her attention.  Lanky looked at the Ella and looked away before looking back at Ella once again.  I could almost see the lightbulb light up next to her head as she turned to her friend to say something while pointing at Ella rudely.  I may not understood their language, but I could see that Lanky was captivated by Ella and couldn't take her eyes of her.  I could see Lanky's gerbil kick into high gear in her head as she was heading towards a life of a criminal mastermind.  

Lanky reached over and swoop Ella off her single foot and started to examine her from top to bottom.  By now, I was screaming inside and some low volume murmuring even escaped my mouth.  I was in panic mode knowing that Ella could be kidnapped.  Much to my surprise, after some careful examination, prodding and poking, Lanky put Ella back down.  I could still see Lanky's imaginary gerbil, now wearing a balaclava and gloves, planning a heist of the hour on this train.  Lanky started talking to her friend while gesturing to the umbrella a couple of times.  Her friend shrugged her shoulder a few times.  I would assumed the same conversation took place again as Lanky gestured towards Ella and Lanky's friend shrugged her shoulders repeatedly.  To be fair, there was a chance that Lanky could be asking her friend what they should work on at the gym that night and her friend was clearly excited about doing some shoulder exercises.  Who doesn't want gains on their traps right?  Then again, I highly doubted that as I continue to see Lanky's gerbil in a full sprint.  

The train was pulling into the terminus station and I noticed Lanky taking off her backpack and securing her other umbrella in an outside pocket.  Check. Mate.  She reached over and grabbed Ella with a level of conviction that I had not seen since Jean Chretien grabbed his favourite protestor's neck.  My heart sank as my picture opportunity started to walk out of the train door with Lanky.  I swore under my breath and existed the train as I took the picture below. 

Interestingly enough, as Lanky walked on the platform towards the exit, I saw her gently and meticulously roll up the Ella's fabric and clipped her in so she was not flapping around all over the place.  Lanky took such care, it was as if Ella had been by her side for years.  I guess I didn't have any expectation of how someone may handle their loot, and I wasn't expecting this level of love for Ella.  As quickly as she rolled the umbrella up, Lanky opened her up when she was greeted with rain outside of the station.  

As we all entered the mall to avoid the rain, I saw Lanky roll up Ella with care for the last time as I made a turn towards my next destination.  Lanky and Ella continued on with their journey down the hallway.  I wished Ella good luck and a life of fulfilling service.  I hope Lanky will retire from her life as an outlaw gang member.  

As I walked away from Lanky and Ella, I witnessed the grisly death of Ella's relative, Dumpy.  His body was on display for all to see.  Not a pretty way to go.   

One Picture

What does one single picture say?  

Is taking pictures a waste of time or time well wasted? Sometimes I re-evaluate my drive to capture the moments around me.  These seemingly innocent slices of time that flash before my lens while transforming the film negative in a way that imitates life in that moment.  Regardless of the likeness of the photograph, the time has slipped away silently.  The grasp of time through my camera appears to be a futile exercise; however, my obsession of capturing the moments through photography is not always on the forefront of my mind as I wander around the streets.  Inevitably, the quietest moments in the loudest of places reminds me of  the reasons for my search of that illusive feeling with my camera.  This very feeling which is constructed by the pixels or grains to make up one single picture.

When I think of the picture dearest to me, it takes me somewhere.  I believe an image can transcends boundaries if you allow it to do so.  The picture may tell a story of a thousand words, or it my just give you an emotion.  An emotion that defies time and space.  That slice of time maybe long gone, but if I look closely enough, the moment comes alive.  The picture did not merely capture their looks, but it captured their essence.  The superstitious belief of the soul-stealing photographs is perhaps not as ridiculous as it might seem.  Maybe that belief is simply a reflection of the power of an image.  The power of beauty, grace, love, and immortality.  

What does a single picture say?  Everything.

A candid moment of a young couple while waiting for the lighting of the Christmas tree in Vancouver.

Under Dark Skies with Film

"Lord of Light! Come to us in our darkness. We offer you these false gods. Take them and cast your light upon us. For the night is dark and full of terrors."

Melisandre prays to R'hllor[src]

I got you, Bro.

Fans of Game of Thrones should feel right at home after reading the quote above. Taking pictures at night has always been an area of interest for me, especially in black and white.  So many great shots showing incredible atmosphere were taken at night.  So far, I have mostly explored astrophotgraphy under the night sky, but I would like to venture into night cityscapes and street photography to capture a different side of the city.  In general, photography could be viewed as the physics of capturing light, and the darkness of the night is understandably an impediment for taking pictures.  I have spent the last little while taking the night shots that you see in this blog entry.  It's definitely an easy transition into night photography as the winter day shortens.  The rainfall record certainly made things more difficult as you move around town while dodging rain drops.  Even with the risk of melting, I was determined to get some night shots.  As I press forward into the dark of night, I started to realize that perhaps the night was indeed full of terrors for a film photographer.  

Public Calendar

Film is more limited in its light sensitivity when compared to modern digital sensors.  Sensor or film light sensitivity is generally assigned an "ISO" number (although film sensitivity was referred to as ASA originally).  The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the film or sensor is to light.  With a higher light sensitivity, you would have more leadway in your shutter speed or aperture adjustment for the desired result.  A roll of film is usually (but not required to be) used under a single ISO sensitivity for all the exposures, whereas digital camera is able to change its ISO on every single shot if you wish to do so.  This is a rather simplistic way of explaining digital sensor ISO.  In reality, digital sensor has only one native ISO sensitivity, but the camera is able to boost or push sensor sensitivity on your command.  This boost does come with the penalty of digital noise on higher ISO shots, and this noise is unlike the consistent film grain one would expect with higher ISO film.  Digital noise could add all sort of undesirable and inconsistent artifacts to your images.  Although not all sensors are created equal, on average, most modern digital sensors are able to handle high ISO shots admirably.  I can shoot at ISO 3200 to 6400 on my (now sold) digital camera without worrying about the final result at all, and in a pinch, 12800 could be manageable.  

When I am required to use a higher film sensitivity due to low light, I generally push process my film.  I normally shoot my film at its box speed of ISO 400 during daylight.  When needed, I would shoot the exact same film at ISO 1600 or 3200.  I will simply process the film differently, which generally involves longer processing time.  Pushing film does create its own visual characteristics.  Your shots would be more grainy, and they will also have more contrast.  The darker part will be darker and the lighter part will be lighter.  You may lose details in your shots as a result of push processing.  It's a trade off that you will have to consider before pushing your shots. All shots in this post were pushed to ISO 1600 or 3200 from their box speed of ISO 400.

Ultimately, I believe that digital camera is much more flexible under most circumstances.  Overall, prosumer digital cameras produce sharper results with more recoverable dynamic range when compared to the hybrid film workflow (of shooting film with digital scan and inkjet printer) that I use.  While film photography is experiencing a bit of renaissance lately, all those interested in film should consider all the pro's and con's of each medium.  While I firmly believe that meaningful images are not dependent on equipment, if you solely shoot at night, there are potentially better choices than shooting film due to ambient light restrictions.  Choosing film photography is not simply choosing choosing the analogue film appearance, but rather the film development process/cost as well as the medium itself.  After making the informed decision, you are able to march out into the night confidently even if the night is dark and full of terrors.  

Street Art

As it stands currently, I am unsure of the direction of my night photography.  I believe that I pushed my film workflow to the limit of my ability.  I foresee the technical difficulties that I experienced so far to repeat itself in the future.  There was simply not enough light without using flash or tripod in some circumstances at night.  I would much prefer to do without strobes or tripod.  I have been pushing my black and white film up to 3 stops and color film up to 2 stops.  Any further push would degrade the image too much for my liking.  I would have to move to different types of film that would allow push process with a higher native ISO than 400.  From the little information I gathered, pushing color film is a bit of a question mark.  Many people believe that the trade off of pushing color film is not worth the extra speed you gain.  I will either have to continue moving forward with a color film process at its limit for night street photography or considering moving to the "dirty D" process!  Do I trade my soul for better night photography in a digital world?  All kidding aside, this is something that I would definitely need to consider since I have been losing a lot of shots lately while doing night street photography.  I would much prefer to get the shot regardless of my attachment to analogue photography.  It does make me wonder about how photographers undertake nighttime, color street photography in the past, or perhaps it wasn't even a thing back then.

Me Want 

Robson Square

Jelly Fish

Christ Church Cathedral

I Do

Peaceful Street Meat

Special Purse with Legs

Alternative Transportation

White Rabbit Light

RIP