So yeah, we get snow here in Saskatoon some days.
If you haven’t taken some time to check out the Affinity Campus in City Park you really need to. It’s one of the best examples of an adaptive reuse that I have ever seen and a great illustration of what suburban infill can look like. It brings about 400 people into City Park (staggered so as not to create too much traffic) which helps the local neighbourhood economy. It also is striving to be a good neighbour in that it allowed City Park to keep it’s ice skating rink in the back of building (with a new warming hut to boot). As nice as the building is on the outside, check out these photos of the interior. Spectacular.
Kudos to be Affinity Credit Union and it’s architect for the project, Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture.
None of these really need a full blog post but for those that care and for those that don’t…
A New Project
I am starting a book that I hope to have done by the end of the year. I have a full Moleskine of things that I have left out of my The StarPhoenix columns, thoughts that I haven’t shared on The Saskatoon Afternoon Show with David Kirton (or talked about after we got off the air), or are just ideas that I have been working on and haven’t done anything with. Basically I am just trying to figure out Saskatoon and along with it, the ethos of Saskatchewan that makes us do things the way we do.
For many years Steven Johnson has been one of my favourite authors. Instead of writing books about what he knows, he writes about what he does not understand and in the process of learning about a subject, he brings you along for the ride. I hope to do the same thing. Look for it 2015.
Sports and Politics
I read a great bio of Michael Grange who said he wanted to write about foreign affairs but he was offered a sports job. I love writing about local and social issues but if Grantland calls, I am leaving it all behind (I’m kidding but the Grantland podcasts look like so much fun). To pass the time between now and when Bill Simmons discovers me, I am now talking sports with David Kirton and Justin Blackwell on Wednesdays at 5:15 on the CKOM Saskatoon Afternoon roundtable. David joked about it a few weeks ago that we should just talk sports and since then we have had quite a few roundtables with sports. The response has been cool but I was at McNally Robinson the other day and a stranger comes up to me and says out of the blue, “You know, I really hate what Pete Carroll did at USC too.” I looked at him and he said, “I attended Oregon” and shook my hand. I can now check, “Call out Pete Carroll for cheating” off my bucket list.
A Year in Saskatoon
I have been writing an OurYXE Neighbourhood Guide each week. Every Wednesday and Sunday, I sit down and research what is good, bad, and interesting about a neighbourhood. It’s been an incredible amount of fun exploring some of Saskatoon’s most loved (and unloved) neighbourhoods. I have been discovering a lot of history and out of the way places to check out in each of them. Part of the project is making sure we have some good photography for each neighbourhood which means I have been out a lot with a couple of cameras and my new 50mm f/1.8 lens. While the cold hasn’t been a lot of fun to shoot photos in, seeing parts of Saskatoon again for the first time has been excellent.
Along with the photos, I have been shooting a lot of video. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I had been thinking of a montage of a year in the life of Saskatoon. Something that showed the bitter cold of winter and the incredible warmth of fun we have in the summer. Saskatoon isn’t all good and it definitely isn’t all bad.
I wasn’t really sure what I wanted it to look like. Many of the videos I had seen had been time lapses and I have about 5000 time lapse photos taken, I was initially been thinking of doing something with time lapse. It’s fun and amazing but i miss the emotion of just video.
If it is as half as interesting as this video by Andy Clancy, I’ll be very happy.
Saskatoon has some great places to film but I want more than that, I want to see if I can find the kind of street life and community vibrancy in Saskatoon. If you have ideas for where me and my DSLR need to be, let me know. As I chase some city scenes, hopefully I will find some stories for the book, Saskatoon Afternoon’s roundtable, and my columns. Oh yeah, there will be some fun stuff for my blog as well.
Now if only it would warm up outside.
Ever since working at Don’s Photo, I have been contacted by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum and asked what kind of camera they should be using. Basically they want something small but takes better photos than the $129 camera they have now. While Brad Wall might have an entourage to make him look good, even cabinet ministers do things by themselves and don’t have a camera crew surrounding them.
Here are my two picks
The Sony RX-100 and RX-100 II are the two best compact cameras on the market. They are amazing in low light which is where you spend most of your time. I am not talking about back rooms or seedy hotel rooms but rather indoors like your office or in community centres for photo ops. That is where this camera excels. In fact the New York Times called it the best camera they had ever seen.
The problem with these camera is that the RX-100 is around $650 and the RX-100 II is $850. I think they are worth it but unless you are in Alison Redford’s cabinet, you can’t expense something like that or you would have the Canadian Taxpayers Federation all over you. The last thing you want is to be the person that took the media focus off of Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
So if you are going to get one, make sure you pay for it out of your salary or get your constituency organization to pick it up. To be honest, you will like this camera so much that you will want to pick it up yourself.
Canon also has an amazing compact camera optimized for low light and that is the Canon S120. It’s smaller than the RX-100 but has a good build quality and fast f1.8 lens. It has a powerful image processor and can be found on sale for around $350. The S200 has a slightly slower lens (f2) but can be had for $250. The best value may be the older S110 which can be had for $250 but still has the faster lens that the updated S120 does. The Canon has slightly more zoom but the Sony is faster zoomed out (giving you better photos when zoomed out)
Both cameras are small enough to go anywhere but more importantly are powerful enough to take good photos of you and the event you are at in poor light without a flash. They also take 1080p video at nearly broadcast quality (which would have helped Stephane Dion the night he gave his ill-fated coalition speech). With metal build quality, they will also stand up the wear and tear of the rubber chicken circuit (even if you won’t).
If you are a politician and rely on good photos as part of your public image, ditch the camera that you have, put down your iPhone and get one of these, preferably from your local camera shop.
I dropped $25 and bought a Pentax 28mm wide angle lens today. It is manual focus which is fine because I enjoy shooting in aperture priority mode and can manually focus a lens reasonably well.
On my APS-C Pentax, it magnifies out at as about a normal lens (a normal lens is a lens that mimics how your eye sees life) which makes it a lens I am looking forward to using.
It’s fairly sharp at f2.8 and gets better until its optimum setting at f8. It still looks really good at f11 with the rather boring test shots I have taken so far (there is a polar vortex people, let me me shoot in peace). I love my 50mm but this will get used a lot as a walk around lens.
I don’t think it will get used a lot as I still need to pick up Pentax’s new 35mm prime lens and get a decent walk around lens but there is something to be said about using some old manual lenses while out for a walk. Street photography has been shot this way for decades and it is something that I want to keep doing.
The other reason is that I have it is that my mom had a Pentax ME. Without us realizing it, she tossed it out while battling brain cancer (the cancer won) or else I would still have it. I may not have her camera but it is nice to know I still shoot photos using some of the same gear she did.
Either way, in the limited time I had to play with it today, it looks nice, has a decent bokeh, is sharp and was only $25. What more can I ask for?