Photography and the art of compromise.

August 26, 2007 at 8:23 pm | Posted in photography | 5 Comments
Tags: , ,

Photography is an enormous part of my life and has been for years. I know you can’t tell by looking at the photos on this blog (taken with my digital point-and-shoot), but it’s one of my main driving forces. I still use film — I shoot with a Bronica ETRS-i, a medium-format single lens reflex camera that I got a few years ago. The camera is awesome, but man, it is heavy. Built like a tank, that thing is.

I started doing photography in 7th grade, in the mid-90s when digital was barely a gleam in Canon’s eye.  I used a 35mm manual camera for years (what’s up, Pentax K1000!), and my Bronica is largely manual, as well.  The great thing about using cameras like this is that you learn a lot about light.  You learn a lot about many things, actually, cause there are no illusions about who’s doing the work.

I used to get lost in a darkroom for hours, lulled by the rhythm of printing. It became a dance, agitating three trays simultaneously while keeping an eye on that print you’re exposing. When the darkroom was crowded and the music blasting — and I am super picky about the kind of music I will print to: there had better be no top 40 or gangsta rap cause really, what is creative about that? — and you had to jump over and around other people to get to your enlarger…well, that kind of energy, that creative force that is both communal and completely solitary, got me going.

When I was in undergrad I spent hours in the darkroom. In high school I took my camera everywhere with me. Now, I do neither. My camera is so heavy that I have to carry it around in a dedicated backpack and while spontaneous photo field trips are totally doable, lugging it around every day is not. My lifestyle has changed, too. I work a 9-5 job now, and the last thing I want to after a day in the office is stand around a hot, stinky darkroom and make a few prints. (You’d think that since I don’t have homework to do any longer, I’d actually have more time for darkroom adventures, but you’d be wrong, as I did a negligible amount of homework.)

I have resisted going digital for so long. I still believe that film trumps digital and, if it made sense for me right now, I wouldn’t have even considered it. (Not to mention that digital is the biggest pissing contest…trying to follow and give a shit about a debate over photo editing software or Nikon vs. Canon is about as stimulating as trying to follow and give a shit about two dudes arguing about carburetors or the age-old Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones question. Here’s a clue, guys (and it’s always men debating these fine points): the number of megapixels your digital camera has is NOT equivalent to your penis length, in inches. But I digress.) However, I don’t want to lose photography. So, I considered investing in a digital SLR system. I read tons of websites and product reviews and looked at image comparisons. I had a few systems picked out that I was seriously considering.

In the end, I couldn’t do it. Part of it was the expense — even if you get a good deal on a d-SLR kit, the lens you get is usually pretty crappy, and man, lenses are expensive. Most of it, though, was knowing how much I’ve already invested in film photography. Not the money so much as the time and energy. Honestly, too, I just do not believe that digital equals higher quality than film, and what about obsolescence? Most of the pictures I take with my point-and-shoot remain on my computer, and some of them I upload to Facebook or Flickr, but I don’t have hard copies of them. With film, even if all you have are negatives, you will always be able to see the images.

So, I split the difference. I didn’t abandon my negatives and I didn’t commit myself to a lifetime of darkrooms. I bought a very nice, quality, consumer-priced flatbed photo scanner. It comes with film holders in different sizes and is designed to scan negatives or slides by virtue of the fact that it has two light sources, one under the glass screen, and one in the top, which is the one used for scanning negatives.

It’s going to be weird, developing film and then scanning it to my computer and editing it there. I’m certainly a little hesitant about the whole thing. I played with the scanner a little bit today (I won’t start seriously using it until I get an external hard drive) and here’s a picture from a negative that I scanned for the web. It was taken at the Don Valley Brick Works in the winter.


This is it, without any manipulations except for a bit of cropping. Not bad for a straight-from-the-scanner image, huh? Waaaay better than the very first print in the darkroom, for sure. God. Did I just say that? Am I a convert already?


War, an apt metaphor for dating. Or is it, Dating, an apt metaphor for war?

August 18, 2007 at 7:37 pm | Posted in boys, life | 6 Comments
Tags: ,

So, I don’t know who really reads this blog, other than some of my friends and some of my classmates and coworkers. But if you’ve met me for even a second, you’ve probably heard me say at least one of the following:
“Dating is a nightmare.”
“I hate men.”
“I’m never dating anyone ever again. Ever ever ever.”
“Dating is like walking through a minefield — you never know if your next step is going to blow you up or land you on solid ground.”
“I give up.”

It’s no longer necessary or expected for women to marry straight out of high school, or even college/university, thank God. I can’t even imagine being married right now, let alone married to some dude I met when I was 16 or 20. I am not on the marriage/babies track; I don’t know if I want kids. The biological clock isn’t ticking, that’s for sure. But still, I feel that companionship is extremely important. One of my goals in life is to have a lasting emotional, sexual, intimate relationship with a man. Preferably a decent, unmarried man. And so, I find myself at 26, looking for a partner. (I’ve always hated that word, “partner,” when used to describe heterosexual relationships. Just say, boyfriend, or girlfriend, ok? But now I kind of think that it’s appropriate — I’m not looking for a sugar daddy or a baby daddy or any kind of daddy (I already have a father, thanks!), and “partner” has the connotation of equality and companionship, two things I value highly.) So, for the past four years, since the end of my “college marriage” relationship, I’ve been out there.

I love hearing stories from the dating front. One of my coworkers has the most incredible and unbelievable catalogue of first date nightmares. Consider these: a woman so close to lesbianism that she was practically her own pride flag, a Buffy-obsessed lawyer whose entire apartment was decorated like the fictional character’s condo, a pre-op male-to-female, and a woman on a day-pass from a mental institution. As he put it, “I put on the dating magnet and attract all of the cheap metal in the GTA.”

My friends and I have our own, less shocking but probably exponentially more dramatic, catalogue of dating history. Between us we’ve heard every opening and closing line in the book…we’ve had one night stands and long-term relationships and everything in between…we’ve slept with ex-boyfriends and -girlfriends…we’ve dated and re-dated and tried so hard to jam square pegs into round holes (so to speak)…we’ve obsessed and neurotically picked apart every single syllable uttered by a man — or a woman…

Sometimes I find it pretty amazing that anyone, anywhere has managed to meet someone else. Consider all of the things that have to come together for that to happen: both people have to be in the same place at the same time, be mutually attracted to each other, live in the same geographic region at the very least, be single at the same time, and not be irreparably damaged. And that’s just for them to decide to go on a date! Imagine the things that have to happen for a relationship to develop… As I said, amazing.

I’m just not sure I can do it all right now. I’ve been dating pretty much constantly for FOUR YEARS. That is, like, the world’s longest marathon. I’ve barely had time to breathe. Wait. Does that make me sound like a whore? Oh, whatever, I don’t care. Point is, I’ve been busy these past four years and all I have to show for it are notches on the bedpost and a growing list of shit I won’t tolerate from men. I’m tired. I need a break.

Tripping down memory lane

August 17, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Posted in life | 4 Comments
Tags: , ,

There are several people that I keep in touch with from undergrad — Aundra is one of my closest friends in the world, and I love her to pieces.  Javad is someone I will always be friends with, no matter how far apart we are (China, Macau, Toronto, Miami; to name a few of the places we’re living in/have lived in).  I’ll be attending Kristen and Drake’s wedding next summer.  I met Ninon on our trip to Scotland, and I credit her with saving my life the summer after I graduated.  She and her mom gave me a place to live, and hers was the shoulder I cried on when Vito and I broke up.  We haven’t seen each other in years, but thanks to gmail chat we’re sometimes able to catch up.

We were chatting today, about people we have in common, and I had this enormous pang of missing Portland and Lewis & Clark.  LC is this small liberal arts college, smaller than my high school, perched on Palatine Hill in southwest Portland.  The campus is gorgeous — a wooded ravine, old brick buildings, a perfect view of Mt. Hood from the reflecting pool.  My freshman year was mainly a whirlwind of drunken nights in the dorms and nighttime missions to the indoor swimming pool and the football field to haul leftover Astro turf back to Copeland Hall.

I have this one memory of wandering down one night to the flagpole on the lawn that overlooked the rose garden, where you could see Mt. Hood and catch a glimpse of the city.  I don’t know who I was with, maybe Vito, and I think Brad was there too.  I put one foot into the loop of the rope and hoisted myself up; the boys ran with me until I was virtually flying around the flagpole.  I could see the lights of the city and the stars and I was drunk and happy and I cannot even imagine being that person again.  Not that I can’t imagine being happy again, but that I can’t imagine being 18 years old again and throwing my head back joyously as I swing around and around a flagpole in the dark.  I can’t imagine dorm life.  I can’t imagine caravaning down I-5 to spend spring break in Mexico.  I can’t imagine the keg parties and dorm parties and celebrating 21st birthdays.  I can’t imagine walking home from the “rat house” in the fog and rain… I can’t imagine an entire life that I once had.  Sometimes I miss college and Portland so much that it physically hurts, in my chest.  I will not attend my high school reunions but I can’t imagine missing my college ones.

I love Toronto, I love my apartment and my friends here and I enjoy my job.  I’m an adult here (well, except for my amazingly incompetent dating history).  Still, I think about Portland a lot.  It’s like a love affair that I never really got over.  Isn’t that so rainy-day melancholy?  That no matter how much you like who you are and where you are, you can miss the people and places from your past so much?

Nalini’s necklace

August 4, 2007 at 2:49 pm | Posted in shiny things | 3 Comments



I made this necklace–crocheted wire with freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals–for a coworker and friend.  She asked me to make it ages ago and I’m such a slacker: I made two of the strands and when I ran out of wire, I didn’t immediately get more.  She gently reminded me to finish it and I did… sorry it took so long!

One of the reasons I didn’t hurry to the jewelry-making supply store to get more wire is that every time I step foot into that place, I end up spending 10 times more than I originally planned.  Apparently, I am powerless in the face of shiny things and adorable boys (I purchased a brand-new bike in a moment of weakness).  I was going to take a picture of the necklace I made with the materials I bought when I got the wire for Nalini’s necklace, but the nice digital camera at work needs to have its batteries charged.

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.