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Working for the man

July 15th, 2011

By working for the man, I mean for myself and for the director of a play who also happens to be my ladyfriend and domestic partnertron.  It’s the worst!

Possible Worlds (the play I’m producing, marketing and stage managing with Arcana Theatre) is two weeks away. The scenes are coming together deliciously, and now it’s time for all that technical stuff to get worked on… sounds, sets, some rather unique props; and posters!

Poster for possible worlds, photo of a beach at sunset and details of the play's performance dates

This poster says more about the play to those that have seen it (the picture of the beach is relevant to the plot). I hope that not only will it be intriguing to newcomers, but when people see it afterwards they have a little twinge moment.  The original design had the title text backwards (bold statement!) but this was quite reasonably overruled.

Handbills, too! (or Ravecards, as the printer called them). We just ask that rather than throwing it out if you’re not interested, give it to someone else, or at the very least try out a new paper airplane design. Read the rest of this entry »

So i’m like… and then she goes… and he’s all…

July 10th, 2011

Doesn’t it make you furious to see the way that language is maligned and mistreated these days? How it’s sullied by misguided masses of commoners who don’t even know what a past participle is?

Not me; nor Stephen Fry, neither. And he’s so proper and British!

What this post is really about, though: Why “like” as a replacement for “says,”  is perfectly valid and possibly preferred for effective communication. Really.

Basically, it’s verbal punctuation.  Read the rest of this entry »

Audition Poster for Possible Worlds

March 14th, 2011

This was a very quick job, but I’m pleased with how it turned out. I’ve learned a lot about typography in the last little while, and it’s somewhat nice to only focus on text and layout without worrying about texture and colour and all that. Simple proportion and type can really make something that looks pretty good when you don’t have enough time to be doing it in the first place.

I have to say.. choosing Scala Sans from the font list was the most satisfying typographic maneuver that I’ve experienced. I didn’t quite know what I was looking for font-wise, just that I wanted a separate font to distinguish the play from the auditions… and that sans was exactly what I needed.

There Will Be Blood… Test

January 30th, 2011

File under: Failed branding ideas for Sanguine. Thanks to Valerie for the idea and PT Anderson for the original movie.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8: First Impressions

October 24th, 2010

This is a quick review of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens that I purchased this past week. I’m by no means a pro photographer, but would like to share my impressions.  This is the first lens I’ve ever bought that wasn’t permanently fixed to a camera.

I’ve been slowly easing my way into the world of digital SLR after purchasing a used Digital Rebel XT a couple years ago now from a photographer who was graduating to something snazzier. I used it a little, but I kept coming back to my old Canon S3 IS because I was used to its controls, it was a fair bit smaller, and pretty capable for a non-SLR. I was also never happy with the throw-off lens that came bundled with it; it was an older 35-105mm lens that just never got me excited.

an unstylish bathroom self portrait with my new lens

So I was looking to find a lens that would finally get me using my not so new second hand investment. I heard many recommendations for this particular canon lens: from classmates at school, glowing reviews on the intarwubs, even a guy calling into my call center because his cable was broken.  The main selling point of this lens is the cost. $130 CAD for a Canon lens is extremely low. And what I heard is that there’s not a huge sacrifice in quality to go along with the low price. I’m a bang for my buck sort of guy (aren’t we all?) so this was appealing. I finally picked it up this past Wednesday at Futureshop, where it was on sale for 119.99 (else I would have probably gone to Henry’s just on principle, since I like a little box store)

Because it’s just 50mm, this lens is not going to zoom anywhere. It is what it is. It’s got some zoom built in, too, so its angle is not very wide. Which means strict limits on stunning landscape vistas or close-ups of fruit bats at 550 paces. It’s a portrait lens and that’s what it does best. It chooses its target carefully, caresses it with clarity, and swaths it in layers of bootiful bokeh.  And it gets me excited.

Red leaf green ground

The huge aperture allows a very narrow depth of field (meaning potential for control over blurred background/foreground you lose with the tiny sensors on cell phone and point+shoot cameras). This is huge for me. To me, the ability to control focus with a high level of precision is the primary reason I was interested in getting an SLR. It lets you frame subjects meaningfully against the background, and gives them an edge in dynamics. That’s one of the reasons I became attached to macro mode on my S3 IS (the other being a preoccupation with creating a breathing world out of the miniature). This alone makes the lens worthwhile.

The image clarity and detail on it is very good as well, but I don’t know how obvious that is to the untrained eye (which, as far as those things go, is a category mine probably belong to, though they strain against it).  The other thing that really struck me about the lens was the speed. With an aperture at 1.8 it doesn’t need a whole lot of exposure time to get a good image. Our apartment is basementy and dim, so it can be frustrating to document photographically. Using just the dim compact fluorescent area lights of our living room, though, I was able to get a pretty good shot sans tripod at 1/6 of a second frame-rate . With a nudge up to 400 ISO or a steadier hand I might be able to improve on that.

owl get you

If you couldn’t tell, I’m real satisfied with this here purchase. I’m excited to get out and use it more (so far it hasn’t left my property), and I’m pleased that it didn’t set me back too much financially. While it oftentimes requires more distance between you and your subject than is convenient, it suits the type of photography I prefer specatcularly, and will serve me well in my quest. Surely. Now at some point I’ll have to figure out what lens is next, but that may be a ways down my road. In the meantime I’ll gladly take this beauty on my arm and show it around town.

leaf on step

Wade Davis in Conversation

September 22nd, 2010

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of attending a talk and answer session by Wade Davis in Guelph.  ”Distinct pleasure” sounds really stilted and bad, but it was a pleasure and it was distinct, so there we go. You’re stuck with it.  It was a pleasure so distinct, indeed, that I feel moved to blog about it. Read the rest of this entry »

Beauty = Usability

August 10th, 2010

Visual pleasure can have a big effect on the enjoyment we get out of using something, and thereby its usefulness and our lives in general. That’s one of the main purposes of design: that balance between looking good and being useful. The real trick is to maximize both without sacrificing either; we’re all constantly exposed to things that haven’t paid adequate attention to one or the other.

I guess it’s all rather obvious. The reason I’m on that kick now is that I recently had a hands on experience that solidified the importance of the appearance side of the equation in situations it wouldn’t necessarily be expected, so I thought I would share:
Read the rest of this entry »

4 London Fringe Shows Reviewed

June 24th, 2010

The Fringe Festival is in full swing here in London Ontario. For those that don’t know, it’s an annual celebration of amateur live arts, usually in the form of theatre.  It’s a tradition that started in Edinburgh, sort of in the 40s, and has expanded across the world. These days what makes a Fringe Festival is that it is unjuried, returns 100% of box office proceeds to the artists, and remains affordable and accessible to all.  Canada has more fringe festivals than any other country. Go us! So every year I try and make it to quite a few of the shows, and this year despite a rather oddly high number of things also happening this week, is no exception. I thought since I’m so opinionated about art, and I’ve got quite the theatre background (bachelor of arts and all), I should say what I think about some shows, so without further ado, reviews of Spitting in the Face of the Devil, 39, Tough, and Gunpowder. Read the rest of this entry »

New Portfolio Piece: Keyed Out

April 30th, 2010

I recently completed putting together a video for a greenscreen assignment at school.  Pretty simple concept, but also unique (hopefully slightly strange and worrying as well).  I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, though I must say working with that many effects in After Effects really does make me long for one of those 20k ubercomputers. Have a look and let me know what you think!

Read the rest of this entry »