Monthly Archives: January 2015

Peller’s Intense Ice Wine Weekend

This weekend, my wife and I enjoyed a winter get-away at Peller Estates as part of the Ice Wine Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Billed as a boot camp for bon vivants, the Intense Ice Wine Weekend didn’t strain too many of our muscles except the ones needed to raise a glass to the lips. The idea behind the boot camp was to introduce us to ice wine production from beginning to end. We started near the beginning on Saturday morning with a visit to Falk Farms, one of the growers that works closely with Peller to provide some of its ice wine (and table wine) grapes.


Falk Farms has 5 of these harvesters. Theoretically, they could get by with one, but because ice wine is such a temperature sensitive industry, they have to be prepared to jump at a moment’s notice and harvest as quickly as possible. In addition, the cold pretty much guarantees mechanical problems, so extra harvesters serve as an insurance policy.

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Rides @ the Distillery District

I shot these (merry-go-round & ferris wheel) during the Christmas Market at the Distillery District. I didn’t have a tripod with me so just jammed the camera against a post and prayed.



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First Peoples at the ROM

As a photographer, I’m naturally drawn to a display in the First Peoples Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. It’s a “Mohawk Family Life Group Diorama” composed of plaster figures by an American sculptor who completed them for the museum in 1917. As the accompanying description indicates: “Such static displays give a misleading picture of indigenous cultures as unchanging, trapped in the past, and out of contact with other groups or historical events.” The museum tries to disrupt the static quality of the formal exhibit by challenging the museum-goer’s assumptions. Here, among other things, an indigenous woman in traditional dress holds a digital camera on a tripod.


Not only does the figure challenge our assumption about indigenous culture as static and isolated from other (Western) cultures, but it also challenges our assumption about who is entitled to make observations about the relationship between cultures. Typically, non-indigenous people regard themselves as the observers. The act of observation imposes a distance between subject and object and relegates the indigenous object to “the observed.” But in this instance, the observed is using her camera to make observations of her own.

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A Day At The ROM

Photographs from the Royal Ontario Museum:


Samuel Hall crown Currelly Gallery

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Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

The third installment in my impressions of Paris series. This time: the cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.


We worship with our iPhones

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Impressions of Paris – II

This is the second installment in a series of images of Paris. I post them here as a way to pause and mark events that have thrown the city into turmoil.

Graffiti sticker of skull on side of bench

Graffiti sticker of skull on side of bench

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Impressions of Paris

In light of the Charlie Hebdo killings, I thought I’d devote the next few posts to Paris just as a way to hold the people of Paris in mind. First, the cartoons that drew ire from fundamentalists. Most mainstream news outlets haven’t got the balls to reprint them for fear of giving offense. Not even Fox. AP went so far as to remove images of Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ after the conservative rag, The Washington Examiner, complained about AP’s apparent double standard. In the circumstances, it makes Christian fundamentalists look like opportunistic dicks. (I’ve written about the Piss Christ here if you want to learn more.) Nevertheless, some outlets have posted the offending images. You can view them at Huffington Post, for example. I guess it’s harder to attack an online media outlet.

Now for a few photographs of life in Paris when people aren’t being terrorized:

Break Dancing

Break Dancing on the Champs Élysées

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Men At Work

Over time, as I do more street photography, I expect I’ll accumulate enough images to mount a credible “Men At Work” series. To be balanced, I should also mount a “Women At Work” series, too, but that will take longer because there are far fewer women who work in open spaces. Or … I could put together a series exploring the question of why that is. I have no data to confirm my observation of a gender disparity for work performed out-of-doors. I simply walk and shoot, and when I get home, what I see are mostly men. Or maybe there’s a bias built in to my seeing. I’ll have to sort that one out. In the meantime …

Fire fighter in cherry picker over Sotto Sotto & Spuntini restaurants in Yorkville

Fire fighter over Sotto Sotto & Spuntini restaurants in Yorkville

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Washing The Stemware

Last night at TCC (Toronto Camera Club) I got Best In Show in the pictorial competition for the “Altered Reality” category. I call my image “Washing The Stemware.”

Washing The Stemware

It began as a photo I took a couple years ago of a window washer working on the building across from mine. I used a 70-200 mm lens with a 2x extension tube for an effective 400mm.

window washer

At the time, I didn’t have any use for the image, so, like most everything else I shoot, I let it simmer. Then, last month, as I was drinking a glass of wine and moaning about the growing stack of dirty dishes, I thought to myself: wouldn’t it be great if we could have tiny men to clean all the dishes for us! Cue the light bulb. I cleared off the table, arranged some lights, and created a background by draping a sheet of tin foil over an upended wooden box. I shot a wine glass against the tin foil background with my 100mm macro lens.

wine glass

Finally, because it’s almost impossible to drape a sheet of tin foil over anything without producing crinkles, I shot the background alone and out-of-focus to blur away all the crinkles.


When I composited the images in Photoshop, I made a few touchups:

• flipped the blurred background upside down so that the hotspot would be immediately behind the glass

• gave the window washer a new foot which was missing in the original image

• darkened some of the window washer’s skin tones to make the lighting more consistent with the backlit glass

Now all I need is a small army of these guys and my dish-washing woes will be over.


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