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Seeing the ordinary

Until now, I posted all of my photography on my personal LJ. But gathering it in one place makes more sense - it preserves the intent better, instead drowning it in the stream of life. This journal is meant for nothing but to archive and bring together instants stolen over months. I always steal when I photograph ; I like that people often don't know that I've taken pictures of them, because it makes their existence more genuine. I steal and capture, as quietly as possible.

Vancouver Dyke March

The day before the Pride Parade is the day of the Dyke March in Vancouver. It's smaller, more informal, and fun! Unlike the Parade which happens downtown near Davie St, this one takes place in Commercial Drive, which is known for being the more lesbian of the two gay neighborhoods. Hence the last two photos that refer to "The Drive". I didn't take a whole lot of photos because I was busy talking as we marched, but I did catch a few. No topless women, sorry...!


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Vancouver Pride - Misc

Last weekend was Pride weekend in Vancouver. It was my first Pride in the city and while it wasn't quite as epic as Paris Pride, it was a lot of fun and I got a lot of cool shots out of it. Here are some of the photos I took just before the parade started, and as we walked along the streets of downtown Vancouver

(I have edited these in Gimp, and I don't know if it's the software/my own ignorance/my computer, but the pictures seem low quality here, and the colors also don't seem quite right. Oh, digital photography. So annoying sometimes.)



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UBC @ Vancouver Pride (2 of 2)

Last weekend was Pride weekend in Vancouver. It was my first Pride in the city and while it wasn't quite as epic as Paris Pride, it was a lot of fun and I got a lot of fun shots out of it. I marched with Pride UBC and AMS, so I mostly have pictures of this particular group: here is the second batch.

(I have edited these in Gimp, and I don't know if it's the software/my own ignorance/my computer, but the pictures seem low quality here, and the colors also don't seem quite right. Oh, digital photography. So annoying sometimes.)



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UBC @ Vancouver Pride (1 of 2)

Last weekend was Pride weekend in Vancouver. It was my first Pride in the city and while it wasn't quite as epic as Paris Pride, it was a lot of fun and I got a lot of fun shots out of it. I marched with Pride UBC and AMS, so I mostly have pictures of this particular group: here is the first batch.


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Vancouver Island

I am just back from visiting a friend in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and I figured for once I would work on the photos from the weekend right away so I could post them before 6 months has gone by, like has happened for way too much recently. Most of the photos are from the day we spent at Rathtrevor Beach, and the bright light didn't even make it too difficult to get good shots of people.

I tried to keep landscape photos to a minimum since I've taken a number of these last year when we were traveling around BC, but nature around here never ceases to amaze me. I just love all the green and blue that surrounds you pretty much everywhere you go.

Tide rising

Rathtrevor - tide rising

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The Year of Cat

A year ago, a black and white little kitty was born and almost immediately abandoned to VOKRA, a cat rescue organization. The tiny kitten - along with her mom and four siblings - found her way to our foster home when she was just 3 weeks old. It's easy to fall in love with kittens, but this little one was special - she was small and cuddly and playful and required lots of attention because, as we soon found out, she had a developmental problem that meant she had terrible balance and could barely walk on her own at first.

Little kitten never left our foster home, she got herself a name instead - MeiMei (little sister in Chinese, for those of you who are not fans of Firefly) Chloe - and a permanent family - that's me - that is so so grateful to have her.

Enough of the syrupy intro :), here are some photos I took of MeiMei today, along with a few photos of my dog taken last month. My dog, who resides thousands of miles away from me in France, is nearly 14 and spends most of his time sleeping, so the photos are pretty accurate.

MeiMei Chloe turns 1

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Protest: No on H8

No On H8

Today was a day of protest across North America against the passage of Proposition 8 in California on November 4. There weren't a whole lot of people in Vancouver, which makes sense, but a small crowd did gather, and there were a number of Americans there for whom this is a very personal issue - one of the couples had even gotten a marriage license in California before same-sex marriage was banned. Anyway. As usual, protests are a great playground for photography, so here is a sample.

On a technical note, I worked on these photos with Gimp instead of Photoshop (I'm also running a Linux operating system instead of Windows), and it looks to me like they don't look as good, like the job's sloppier, and I can't figure out why... I don't usually do anything but resize, work with levels and add a black border, so I don't know why Gimp couldn't do as good a job as Photoshop. Maybe it's just my impression.

No on H8

Love is stronger than hate.Collapse )
A pretty traditional trick which consists in highlighting a single element of a photo by keeping it in color when you turn everything else into black and white. I would have liked to do a longer series with the sunglasses - that was the original idea - but then I didn't shoot enough sunglasses shot (it's always a little awkward for my friends, I think, when I focus on a random detail and tell them to hold still).

It's something I might continue in the future, though... I find sunglasses that reflect the world clearly fascinating, one of my favorite shots from the WGA strike is that shot where you can see the picket line reflected in the sunglasses.


Tree and sky

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Mexico: Desaturated color

I discovered that effect while I was playing around with desaturation (which makes photos black and white) and layers. Basically I duplicate the original colored layer, desaturate the copy and then set the desaturated layer to "soft light". The final effect is a photo that looks a little older, more in grey tones, and I think it works so well for some of these though I can't quite explain while yet. The effect is not as obvious on all of them (I've twitched things around a little from photo to photo, too), but it's there.

This batch has no particular theme, it's photos I took throughout our trip, but you might recognize subjects and places from some of the other Mexico posts.

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Mexico: Playa Mazunte

Last stop of my trip (my friends keep going). We took the bus to a pretty insignificant city called Pochutla that's near four well-known beaches, and so we spent a day in Mazunte, by the Pacific Ocean. The beach was absolutely gorgeous and reminded me of just how much I love the sea. I almost left my camera back at the hotel because I was afraid of it being stolen and boy, am I glad I kept it with me.



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Mexico: Oaxaca & Monte Albán

Then we stop in Oaxaca, which is a city known for its chocolate and its nearby pre-columbian site, Monte Albán, which was the most powerful city in the region a long, long, long time ago. It's on top of a mountain and there's an amazing view on the valley of Oaxaca. Something I loved about the archeological sites that we visited is that none of them were similar, there was always something so specific about the site that it never became this attitude of 'oh, another ruin. GREAT.'

The city of Oaxaca itself charmed me more than any other place we went to. It has a lively city center and a whole section of that is reserved for pedestrians which is amazing. We strolled around and into little shops and through markets until we got to a plaza with the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and then we watched the sun set from the rooftop of a bar. It was basically a charming place, full of colors like the rest of the country.



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Mexico: Puebla & Cholula

After an overnight bus ride, our next stop is Puebla. The city is supposed to have kept the most European influences and it's very busy (with cars and pedestrians alike!). Nearby is the city of Cholula, which has the largest man-made pyramid and monument by volume in the world. Yep, larger than Keops. The thing is it's all be covered with vegetation by now and Spanish settlers built a church on top (...) so you don't really get the impression of standing at the bottom of a huge monument.

Orange patio

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Mexico: Papantla & El Tajin

We left Mexico and after a 6-hour bus ride, we found ourselves in Papantla, a small city whose only interest is to be close by El Tajin, another site with pyramids and ruins from a pre-colombian city, but this time covered in vegetation. It was hot and humid there, and I was astonished to find the landscapes so green.


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Mexico: Teotihuacan

1 hour out of Mexico, our first pyramids.

Going up


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Mexico: Xochilmico

Small series but I thought it deserved to stand on its own.

Xochilmico is a small city in the south suburbs of Mexico City. It's well-known for its canals and it's a popular weekend destination for Mexican families... it was actually refreshing to see it wasn't just tourists on the boats, but a wide variety of people, from small family to big parties celebrating something. I wish I had a photo of the way the main canal looked - it was all full of colored boats, a traffic jam of bright colors, it looked amazing.


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Mexico: Mexico City

We flew to Mexico City and spent the first few days discovering the city by walking around, and visiting a few museums. It's a big city, not all that different from other capitals I've had the chance to visit, but there are still a lot of things (apart from the Spanish) to remind you this isn't a European capital. Mostly the vendors trying to sell you everything and anything for 10 pesos. Kidding aside, visiting a new place is always heaven for photography, though it's always so difficult to try and capture some of the essence of that city... I'm obviously drawn to some of the things that everybody's photographed before, so then it becomes about trying to take a different photo. It's not easy, and not always successful, but I try!

Rivera wall

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Mexico: Black & White

I came back recently from a trip I took to Mexico. I'm going to post several entries, this time based on the different locations we went to, plus a couple of themed entries. This is one of them - these are all the shots that I thought worked best in B&W. I can't usually explain why, except I usually know pretty fast when looking at a photo if I want to switch it to monochromes tones. Sometimes it's got to do with contrast but not always - for some reason I think snapshots of people taken in the street often work well in B&W.

Police and bike

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Animals: Foster kittens

My roommate and I have been fostering cats for 7 months, and we're currently providing a foster home to a mommy Lily and her five kittens Zoe, Chloe, Billy, Maddy and Maxxie. They are, of course, cuteness personified, since they are 6 week old kittens, and I suspect this might not be the only post I will dedicate to them... especially as I am considering keeping one of them.

Photographically speaking, it's frustrating because I'm unable to take good photos of them without the flash. Not only because it's a little dark inside but because they're black and white and their features don't come out unless I use the flash. I'm guessing I don't have to, but I haven't figured out how not to yet. I don't like the feel of some of these photos as much because of using the flash, but it actually worked pretty well for some of them.

Maxxie or Maddy is teaching evil cardboard a lesson

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Trips in B.C.: Family

Trip in B.C.: Animals

Ground squirrels, deer, ducks, geese, chipmunks, miniature horses, dogs... we encountered a lot of critters throughout our trip. Nothing particularly exciting or that out of the ordinary for North America, but I've always had a soft spot for animals and I think some of these shots came out really nice.

Young eyes

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Trip in B.C.: Landscapes

Un peu de couleur salée

One of the things that makes British Columbia such a wonderful place is the breathtaking sceneries that you can easily stumble across as you travel through the province. Some of those pictures are more impressive than others, but none can really express the real beauty of B.C.'s nature - partly because it's the size, the infinite mountains and endless stretches of water, that make it so stunning.

Natural mirrors

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Trip in B.C.: Canada in Black and White

Finally, I'm taking time to post pictures from the time that I spent with my family visiting Vancouver and British Columbia. We stopped by UBC and Granville Island, drove up to Seachelt along the Sunshine Coast, drove into the country to the Okanagan Valley, and finally spent a little time in the Southern Gulf Islands.

Posting by theme seems most appropriate but I'm going to start off with a series of shots that worked better in black & white.

Caution: desert

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Animals: Horses (eventing)

The sound of strength and focus

This batch is a mix of horses from the club where I ride and other horses that were competiting that day. I was smart enough to pack my zoom - without it, I couldn't have gotten a third of my shots.

It was an interesting experience because I don't shoot movement all that often and it wasn't easy to get the exact right shot. It's hard to get a close shot where you don't cut part of the rider's head or the horse's hooves; and real close-up even tougher because everything changes so fast in the action that you don't have much time to frame or correct your setting. Lack of time is the key - especially during the show jumping and cross-country, because usually I was well located for a couple of jumps but not more so you have to make sure these you get right. And even shooting continuously at 2.5 fps is no good because a jump doesn't even last a second - so I found it quickly I would be better off watching for the moment I wanted to capture than just shooting at the jump hoping to get one shot right.

Lots to learn and work on, so that was really good, and I was suprised by how many photos I shot that day! The whole batch contains 156 but I'm only going to post a preview here. You can view the whole batch here on Photobucket (I was really annoyed to find out Flickr limits free accounts to 200 shots, btw).

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See the rest of the photos here.

Animals: Glacier (eventing)

We're invincible, the vulnerable kind

I'm back in France for a month right now, and going home for me is always a chance to go back to horses and especially my Glacier. Sunday a few people from my horseback riding club (Le Placis Vert) were doing an eventing competition (it's an equestrian triathlon which combines dressage, show jumping and cross-country) not too far from my city so I drove over there and spent the day there hanging out with the horses and riders and taking photos.

This first batch is Glacier only - not surprisingly, I ended up with more photos of him than any other horses, and well. He's my boy so I think he deserves his very own entry. The photos are shown in order so you can see him go through all the disciplines.

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Rennes: miscellaneous

La Bretagne n'a pas de papiers

A few photos from my hometown in France, Rennes, that I took over Christmas break when I went home. I don't think I realize the film was color (this is from my SLR camera), but a lot of these turned out pretty well. The colors look different on paper, they always do, but I like the feel that it gives them. Something more tangible, more... photographic, almost.

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Memories: Mamie Jacqueline

I thought of you and where you'd gone
And the world spins madly on.

Traveling: From Vancouver to L.A.

Miles from where you are

Still catching up on lost time, and still with the trip to L.A. This series is a string of photos taken while I was going from Vancouver to L.A. I took the coach for the first part of the journey to Bellingham, WA, then flew from there to Los Angeles. VERY early flight, but it has its good sides: beautiful sunrise from the aircraft.

Early morning

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Los Angeles: miscellaneous

Back to December: my trip to Los Angeles. L.A. is not a city that particularly appeals to me, but I really like some of the shots I got out of this trip. One of the things that I don't like about the city is how long and large everything is - it's not something that I enjoy as a person, but as a photographer, it can make for interesting perspectives. And the good thing about photography is that there's always something to capture, it doesn't matter the relationship you have to that person or object.

Beyond the fence

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Animals: Caramel B+W

Just vaguely starting to catch up with photos from the past four months.

This series is all my dog, Caramel, in black and white. I have a few color pictures for a next series, but I think B&W often works really well for him. I'm not entirely sure why. But just working on these photos make me miss him terribly.

Quiet eyes

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UBC; Storm the Wall

UBC has an event called Storm the Wall every year - it's a pretty intense intramural event where teams swim, sprint, bike, run, and finally storm an artificial wall installed in the center of campus. Pretty cool to watch!

This series also has a bunch of miscellaneous pictures of campus and the Trek Park.

Storm the Wall

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Protest: Raise a Ruckus for Radio Two

I'm way, way behind on pictures, since I haven't posted anything new since December, and it's not for lack of material. It probably speaks to my little activist hear that it's another protest that would finally get me to post a new series of pictures. This year does not bode well for culture - after the librarian strike in Vancouver, and the writers' strike in the U.S., this time people got together to protest the erosion of classical programming on CBC (Canada's national broadcast service) and the cutting of funding for the CBC Radio Orchestra.

Front page

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A few shots of the "celebrities" that showed up for ME Day. I'm using inverted commas because unfortunately, most of these people are not actually very well-known - and the writers, who do absolutely amazing work, you'll certainly have never heard of. But they're all people that have worked with Joss in the past, and the simple fact that they showed up to demonstrate their support is an amazing show of respect. While the most famous of the bunch (such as Nathan Fillion and Eliza Dushku) got stopped by a lot of the press people who were there, some of these actors walked the picket line like nobody's business. Juliet Landau was there for the whole time and walked for four hours in heels. That's dedication, right there.

Taking photos of famous people - at least people famous to me and people around me - is actually very tricky. I try to do more than just grab a snap of an actor, I still try and pay attention to composition, colors, faming, but ultimately, the purpose of a lot of these photos is to capture the person rather than the instant. It's difficult to find a balance and do good photography, I hope that I've managed for at least some of these photos.

The cool kids

Under the lens
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For more pictures of the strike, see this Flickr set.

WGA Strike: Mutant Enemy Day (misc.)

December 7, 2007. The Writers Guild Strike has been going on for a little over a month. Joss Whedon and his fans have been very active in the strike, so he decides to organizes "Mutant Enemy Day". Mutant Enemy is Joss Whedon's production company, and this day is meant for all the writers, actors, and fans affiliated with the Mutant Enemy shows (Buffy, Angel, Firefly) to join the picket line together.

I made it down to Los Angeles, and conditions weren't optimal for photography since we were walking the picket line for the whole of four hours, but I still tried to make as many pictures as possible. I rarely take photos at "historic" events (usually because I'm not there to take photos!), and it was really an experience to be down there with 400 people.

The following series is made of pictures that focus on the strike itself, without the "celebrities" that were involved. They're all shots that I like because they speak to me and reflect what I experienced that day down on the picket line.

Strike reflected
sense of purposeCollapse )

For more pictures of the strike, see this Flickr set.

Power Animal concert: group shots

Power Animal concert: Mike LaFranchi

Mike LaFranchi: lead drums.

Sir MikeCollapse )

Power Animal concert: Kevin McPherson

Kevin McPherson, lead bass and back-up vocals.

Sir KevinCollapse )

Power Animal concert: Charlie DeMars

During my recent stay in Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to attend one of Power Animal's concert. I was great to see the guys again, and mostly, it was awesome to see them perform - I hadn't had a chance to see them on stage since 2003! I'm posting three series - this one is Charlie, the lead guitar and lead vocals.

Sir CharlesCollapse )

Vancouver: 1st snow (color)


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"It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary."
- David Bailey

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