Category Archives: Uncategorized

zorba the greek –CONNECTION– mom as greek dancing man

From time to time my mother used to sporadically zip around the house jumping and spinning in the way she presumes a ballet dancer would do. She would say, “Erin, this is where you get your natural dancing skills from.”

I’m not really sure if mom has an innate sense of her own coordination. I hadn’t really thought about it. She has, on occasion, been inspired to imitate older men and she has an added excuse to do so if they are dancers. First there was ZORBA and then there was LARRY DAVID. Zorba (played by ANTHONY QUINN) happened to love dancing.

“Teach me to dance. Will you?”
“Dance. Did you say … dance?! Come on my boy!”

In the last scene of Zorba The Greek aka Alexis Zorbas, both Zorba and Basil (ALAN BATES), an Englishman who had recently settled into his small inheritance on a Greek Island, sit on a beach. Both are downtrodden by the disastrous outcome of their latest endeavors but Basil decides he must learn to dance.

In a moment life’s difficult realities are pushed aside and the two begin to dance. Mom stopped, rewound and replayed this scene over and over until she had memorized…almost…every step. In the midst of her triumph, where she was imagining herself dancing on that beach next to Zorba and Basil, I got up from the couch to correct her on a few steps. Having watched this scene more than five times I was now very familiar with the dance and with Zorba’s enthusiasm.

A year later we would find ourselves living on a friends sailboat in a Mexican bay. Sitting around a raging fire on a deserted beach Mom would get up, wine glass in hand realizing it as the perfect opportunity to become Zorba.

That was not the first instance in which she saw an opportunity to identify herself with an old Greek man. When we’d dock to gather supplies, mom and Fiona, a family friend and inhabitant of the sailboat, would hold onto each-others shoulders and picture themselves on the beaches of Greece. With great confidence, and meandering feet they moved along a narrow deck humming the soundtrack to the final scene of Zorba The Greek.

a little poem – UNTITLED

see these bones

feel these bones

touch these bones

test these bones

teach these bones

break these bones

suck these bones

taste these bones

canon ae-1 & darkrooms –CONNECTION– first photography expeditions

The digital age seems to be making photography less guided and purposeful. Competition is higher than ever and this competition in many cases serves as a distraction to quality. The pressure is on all photographers to produce at alarmingly unhealthy rates. But the real photographers amongst us are out there with their digital flickr accounts and many of them still use film. Some of them only use film.

In the past year, out of necessity, I’ve begun working within the digital photographic realm. Honing my skills in Photoshop engulfed by the overwhelming amount of possibilities it offers (batch file processing being one unexpected option). Often I find there is too much to learn and time is eaten away much too easily. At this moment I return a longing gaze towards my Canon AE-1 sitting on its, all too often, dusty shelf.

$$$ makes me step back from my first love, but I know there is nothing like the breathtaking quality of film grain. As advanced as digital cameras have become in the past few years zeros and ones do not add up to the pop of a 35mm filmstrip.

A second hand Canon AE-1 was my first camera, received as a birthday gift during my early high school years. Its metal body has since been dropped on cement sidewalks but continues to click along as smooth as ever. Who knows where the value of this glorious relic will go in the next few decades. I know for sure there’s nothing that will break it down. No additional software needed to update insignificant file formats. Just a simple cleaning will do.

My father introduced me to photography and my first camera, having dabbled in it during his university days. My first few photographic expeditions included walks along the edge of Stuart Lake (located in central BC) recapturing the experience with light stains. Within a few years boxes containing darkroom equipment were pulled out and set up in a small triangle shaped room. Chemicals and a red light were paid for. Blankets were draped over the door and stuffed under it blocking out white light.

Darkrooms are missed. Embedded in a memory box labeled nostalgia and longing. Colour darkrooms are especially exciting with the added challenge of balancing colours through a box of light. It was the only place in which a sense of solitude and complete focus were given even with people milling about. One can choose community and connection amongst rows of enlargers and then retreat back into an individual world of light stains on paper.

Taken by flickr user (joel). One of my favorite photostreams.

Taken by flickr user (joel). One of my favorite photostreams.

Lovely pet portrait by flickr user Caleb Alvarado. No cheesyness here. Taken with a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

Lovely pet portrait by flickr user Caleb Alvarado. No cheesyness here. Taken with a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

Ruminating on the direction of photography I have often convinced myself that the demise of film is not too far away. Upon joining the popular online photo site flickr I am now convinced of the opposite. Many on this site are so dedicated to film that it is all they will use but then again most who take this approach to photography are in their 20s or older.

Am I among the last generation of film users? This notion seems all too romantic and strangely comforting. Still I think the charm of older cameras, especially large and medium format ones will draw in young artists interested in trinkets from the past (the typewriter is still kicking around amongst those communities).

A couple weeks ago I dropped off a stack of film to be scanned and converted into digital files. I had a long conversation with the owner of the photo processing shop. He helped me understand the different file types and how to best process RAW photo files. He also explained how lucky I was to learn on film because I could understand the basics. I could read light without having any tools telling me how to read it. I knew what f-stop, ISO and ASA stood for. I knew how aperture and film speed worked. Some recent photography graduates don’t even know some of these things. I was shocked when he told me of a young graduate of a photography diploma program. She had never worked with any medium other than digital and didn’t know what ISO stood for (film speed) what was worse was that using aperture controls was not even on her radar. She didn’t know what aperture was and was only using the shutter speed to control how much light was coming into the camera (this is a severely limiting way of capturing an image and can stop a camera from recording the necessary detail … unless that’s not what you’re going for).

Photoshop and Lightroom seem to be the cutting edge tools to be an expert of and cameras only a necessary aspect for framing the image. After all, lighting and colour balance can all be processed after the fact, in most instances without damaging the original digital file.

I am not reluctant to be joining the ranks of digital processing lovers, but I remain wary. Every once in a while I plan to slip in a roll of film, listening carefully for the satisfactory clickity-clack of film edges catching onto plastic teeth pulling inside the camera. I am even beginning to drool over the idea of purchasing a medium format film camera in a few years. For now the LCD screen I have become all too reliant upon will remain off as, once again, I read light and manipulate it to my advantage.

Taken by flickr user sergio conde.

Taken by flickr user sergio conde.

Recent photo by flickr user isa mar. Most, if not all photos are film.

Recent photo by flickr user isa mar. Most, if not all photos are film.

for the images in your head listen to the sounds in my throat

A video I made a few years ago with 3 youtube parts. After re-visiting I realize its extremely eery aspects couched in nostalgia.

The same video can be seen in one unbroken 17 minute stream here. For some reason the videoplayer wasn’t embedding into my blog. The quality is better as well.

pink elephants –CONNECTION– mpumalanga, south africa

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anna and jamie

Elephants emerge everywhere in pop-culture, to sell product, and in ancient-traditions, as symbols of wisdom, nobility and gentle strength.

It is obvious that large, apparently gentle, and beautiful animals are major selling points when it comes to the protection of wildlife. But how can the graphic of an Elephant or a Polar Bear protect Hungerford’s Crawling Beetle, a tiny yellowish, brown creature found in streams connected to the Great Lakes. It can’t unfortunately but humans seem to be attracted to big, cute and cuddly or colourful, edgy and therefore ‘totally cool’. Yellowish brown is not that hip in tiny crawly form.

And so on a hot winters day (August 2008) in a north-eastern nook of South Africa I too was enticed by a lovely pair of elephants presented on two dangly earrings. What’s more, they were pink elephants, and they’d been painted in circus like attire for my fashion conscious purposes, elephants that pop.

I had just completed a short hike to view God’s Window with Anna and Jamie, two friends from North Carolina. Gods Window is just west of Kruger National Park and near the little town of Graskop. For us city dweller / consumer types it connects the experience of viewing natural objects in nature with our spiritual sensibility AND with product. Like many stops along the Kruger National Park route, vendors wait on tourists filtering in from around the world.
elephants
Generally not a shopper, the experience simply stresses me out, I will avoid stuff and anyone pushing me towards a particular product. In this instance, however, there were few tables, it was a dusty warm day and the absence of department store music put my body at ease. Pink elephants will now connect me to the details of that day. Sometimes stuff makes you remember.

Pink elephants = A slow stumble towards the precipice of Gods view, its window; and I can dress her / him / it up in whatever clothing I wish. Maybe I am the God of Gods Window.

Pink elephants = road trip across South Africa, with two gutsy and glorious girls from North Carolina (from a cultural reality that through their stories, I learnt a lot about).

No human could deny, Gods Window has a spectacular view and is even a spiritual experience (whatever that may mean). Maybe it was made more spectacular by the fact that, the projection of my life has increasingly steered me towards the city and away from a small town setting. Everything not made by a being looking like me feels unique and of-course romantic (that’s a selling point). Aaaaaaaaahhh wins you over every time.landscape_vert



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Ira Glass on building a story

I found these videos on YouTube and I think they’re a really helpful resource. Ira Glass is one of my favorite storytellers.