Saturday, December 27, 2008

In the Mood for Blogging

I've really been in the mood for blogging lately. I think it is because I've been feeling fantastic since I finally cut the last string holding me to Tracie when we went down to the provincial registry to take her name off my car registration. Maybe it's just Christmas.

I had a really great boxing day yesterday. We went to London Drugs and got there right before they opened the doors and were able to get two 4gig compact flash cards and then we went to the Future Shop. I got a 8gig thumb drive and gps unit. I think I got a pretty good deal on both and the crowds weren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be. Then at about 10:30 or so I went to Lethbridge to see Heidi and her family. Heidi's whole family came down to her parent's house for a visit and Christmas dinner.

-Gary

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'm A Model

My good friend and assistant Christine did a practise series of photos of me today. They all turned out very well. I'm very pleased with them. We were able to go over the things that she did well and the things that needed a little improvement. There were only a few that would have needed to be deleted if they were for a real sitting, and almost all of them looked fantastic once they were cropped.

I may even print a few for my wall at home. I guess I'm sort of weird among photographers in that I generally really like having my picture taken. I think that these ones turned out particularly well. Now if I could just lose some weight.

-Gary

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Students Loans

I finished paying off one of my student loans today. That leaves only one. It is very nice to be getting them paid.

I really wish it hadn't taken so long but I guess you do what you can. The other one is going to take a while to get through.

Things are going really well. I'm feeling fantastic and enjoying myself a lot. Heidi came to visit me for the weekend and we had a chance to exchange our gifts. We spent a lot of time visiting my family and we had a nice time. I'm glad that Heidi got a chance to meet Jackie and her boys.

-Gary

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Heidi

Heidi came to visit again and I had a fantastic time. We went to see Twilight, which I liked quite a bit, it followed the book pretty well. I always like the book a little bit better. I think it is because it is easier to interpret books in a way that is meaningful than it is to interpret meaning into movies.

It starting snowing really hard at supper time and so Heidi decided it would be better to leave a little sooner rather than take a chance later in the evening.

I have to replace my tires tomorrow. The treads are really worn. I can't decide if I should buy winter tires or if I should just get all season and not worry about it until the time comes to get new, new tires.

-Gary

Monday, December 01, 2008

Why do Foreigners Love Michael Jackson So Much?


From the video info:
Here is a remake of the "Thriller" song that I've entirely recorded with my own voice, using 64 A'cappella tracks. There is therefore no instrument, synthetizer, beatbox, or even to sampler, but only the sound of my voice livened up with Reverb and slight Chorus on certain tracks. Regarding looping parts, I've simply used the "looping" technique. Moreover, in the whole piece (which contains several thousand notes), I transposed 8 notes, which were impossible for me to sing in high-pitched. Because of my tessiture, I also must have resigned myself to sing certain parts in head voice, more particularly on the track corresponding to Michael Jackson's solo vocal.

I've accomplished this non-commercial project at home, only with a mobile PC, microphone, headphones and webcam - in nearly 350 hours. It's just an artistic challenge, accomplished during my hours of free time, whose purpose is to make smile my close circle and net surfers. Nonetheless, I'll be happy to record in professional studio, original songs with this technique, if a label was interested to work with me on a SP or LP entirely based on this innovative concept of "Massively Multitracks A'cappella".

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jon asks...

"What sort of photo editing occurs for school photos? I never imagined that was part of the process."

I guess it sort of varies depending on what's wrong with the kid's face. We do a lot more editing than the big school photo companies.

We crop and straighten all the photos. We pop a few zits and fix stray hairs. People can pay for heavier zit popping. The biggest difference between us and the big guys is that we get rid of the glare from the flashes on glasses. Glare on glasses takes the most time of anything we do, and is fairly difficult. I'm getting pretty good at it and having a tablet/pen input device makes it a lot easier. The big companies specifically say on their order forms that they do not retouch glare on glasses. Another thing we do is colour balancing. We colour balance the photos from each photographer's setup for each day so that pictures of siblings will match even if they go to different schools or are photographed by different photographers.

The colour and light levels change dramatically based on where you are shooting. For example if you are in a school gym that is home of the "Red Devils" and there is a huge red logo behind you on the wall, some of the light from the flashes will bounce off of the logo onto the kid making them more red than usual. If the photographer beside you doesn't have the logo behind them, the pictures will have a different colour cast. Then if the younger sibling is goes to school at the home of the "Blue Devils" they will have a different colour cast as well. Shooting in a drama room looks different than shooting in the gym, art room, or cafeteria. Even though the pictures are mostly the same.

We try to control all the variables. It seems to be working for us.

-Gary

School Photo Printing Done

We finished printing the school photos today. Some of the ladies at work were discussing the last time we were done before December and it has been over 5 years at least.

The new printer coming late put us four weeks behind on the printing before we even started, so it was great that we were able to get it done. Next year, we are going to be sitting around waiting for the cheques to clear.

Apart from the speed of the printer itself, several other factors sped up printing and packaging.

For example

Photo editors don't have to split their time between editing and printing the photos. Now the editors only edit the photos, which lowers the switchover time between editing and printing.

The person operating the printer works independently of the editors. This means that anything that needs to be reprinted can just be reprinted. This reduces interruptions to the photo editors, and there is less waiting around for reprints.

The new printer is can have a much longer print queue. The machine can print unsupervised once the jobs are entered, allowing the operator to do other things while waiting for the queue to finish.

We don't laminate the photos anymore and cutting the prints to separate them has been mostly eliminated by the new printer. We will likely be able to eliminate all the cutting once we have more time to make templates and tweak the printer a little more.

There are a few more things that we could do to improve, but for the most part, many of the bottle necks have been removed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

KFC Police

I met a guy about 12 years ago that that raises fighting cocks. At the time, he had about 40!

He kept the big ones all together, it is safe to do that because although they naturally fight each other, if the pecking order is already established they don't fight. He said that if he separated one out and the put it back after a week or so the rest would have forgotten their friend and kill it fast.

He took out 2 little ones to show us a fight. They started fighting right away.
Trying to peck and scratch each other with their spurs. Luckily they were too little to harm each other. It was very interesting.

He let them all out and they all went looking for food. After little while later, one of the younger cocks started fighting with one of the hens. The owner whistled for his #1 fighter (mainly to draw attention that there was a fight going on) and it came over and broke the fight up and it let the hen know that it wasn’t allowed to fight by pecking her.

The hen got one last peck in after the fight was over. The guy laughed and said, "Just like a woman, she just had to get that last peck in."

That guy was very interesting. He knew the pecking order of his birds. He knew which rooster was the toughest. He told us that the #1 bird in the pecking order was actually the 3rd toughest rooster, #2 and #3 were both tougher, but because they were younger they could still remember when the #1 was stronger. I guess the top cock maintained his position through roughing up the younger birds and then continually intimidating them as they got bigger and older.

So it seems that chickens just don't like fighting if the pecking order is set in their minds.

-Gary

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Heidi

So instead of sleeping right now I am going through the photos on my computer. I have this one saved in the folder called, "BEST WEEKEND EVER".

Monday, November 03, 2008

Time Change

With the removal of Daylight savings time, it gets dark a lot sooner than usual. About an hour actually. I really like having a little daylight left after work. I much prefer that to having a little more light in the morning.

Things are going well. I've finished going out to the schools and now we are focused on printing all the pictures as well as studio work.

I have about half the airmiles I need to get an xbox 360, but the good news is that Safeway has introduced a new card that gives you 50 bonus airmiles when you spend $40. Which is actually pretty easy. I spent $70 today. I guess I should pay attention to how much everything costs and spread my purchases out to maximize airmile potential.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Internet

I don't know if this is going to be a good thing or a bad thing, but I finally broke down and got an internet connection into my house. Actually, I'm posting this from my own home.

That sound you just heard... it was the sound of my Mom's heart breaking because now I probably won't need to come over an hang out for three or four hours every day to use their computer.

I'll have to think of something to do that involves humans at least a couple of times a week.

The photo to the right is supposed to represent the internet.

-Gary

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Golf

My brother in law has once again returned to the world long drive championships of the world. I think he qualified at the world long drive championships of Canada. His groups starts to wack'em at 10:30am on Friday the 24th. Here is a link to the results page. They are posting the results live and so the page will refresh itself every two minutes. The auto refresh will be totally worth it if even one person is so interested that he can't wait until the very end to see the results.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your economic situation) I have to/ get to work during the event and so the automatically refreshing website will be of no use to me.

Stupid retakes.

-Gary

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eclectic Sound

People really love lists. I don't know what it is about them. Much More Music has a show called Listed. Basically it is the show that counts down the best of the best in Music and Entertainment. Something about this show really speaks to me. I really enjoy watching it whether it is counting down the 20 groups that rock our world or 20 biggest celebrity meltdowns.

Put anything in a list and people will be interested.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

American Election

So, I've finally decided who should win the US election. It is John McClane because I liked the Die Hard movies.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best Movie of the Year

Ghost Town staring Ricky Gervais is the best movie of the year. I laughed throughout the entire movie. I give it two thumbs up. It is fine holiday fun.

Happy Thanksgiving.

-Gary

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Inspired by Jeff

I made a word cloud, it's from the last 4 or 5 months of this blog. The size of a word in the visualization is proportional to the number of times the word appears in the input text.

I guess you can draw conclusions about what is on my mind based on the size of the words in this image. But beware, not everything that is on my mind is in this image because I don't really post everything that I think here.

-Gary

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September

We've hit our stride at the schools, two weeks in and we're going strong. I'm really enjoying it a lot even though it is a lot more tiring than the last two years. Luckily we are done photographing a the four local high schools. We only have a few more really big schools left.

I went to visit Heidi on the weekend, she's a really great girl. I really like her. She's nice, caring and very appreciative of the things I do for her. I always have a good time when we get to visit. It makes me sad that we live in different cities. I just want to spend all my time with her. I wish I had met her 11 years ago. It just takes too long to get to know someone properly, to develop a history with someone.

Over all things are going very well for me. The CPAP machine is just great. I have become accustomed to wearing it at night. I don't think I'll be sleeping without it unless I can lose a bunch of weight, which often helps reduce sleep apnea.

I've been uploading more photos istock over the last few months and have recently cracked 400 uploads. I hope to find people to act as models I would really like to get 30 or 40 uploaded a month. My spread sheet predicts that with 30 uploads a month I could be making as much as $1000 a month by May. It just seems so hard to come up with enough ideas and models to make 30 photos a month. I guess I could break it down a bit and do 3 themes a month with 10 photos from each theme. Even that is a little daunting.

-Gary

Friday, September 12, 2008

Haircut by Heidi

I've been wanting to grow my hair a little longer on top for a while now, but I don't think I would do a good job cutting only the sides by myself. Luckily Heidi saved the day by volunteering to trim the sides for me.

The though of just letting it all grow evenly just didn't appeal to me and neither did paying $15 to have it done at the mall.

Things are going really well. Heidi has been to visit a couple of times and I am looking forward to heading out to Lethbridge in a week to see her. I always have a lot of fun hanging out with her.

-Gary Milner

Friday, September 05, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Visit

Heidi came to visit for the weekend again. I had such a good time with her. She is so nice, I'm very lucky to have met her.

We went to see, "The Rocker" and it was a very fun movie. We both laughed the entire time. After that we went and sat in the shade in a park. We chatted, gossiped and otherwise got to know each other a little better. I barbecued for her yesterday and today after church I made spaghetti.

She made the cupcake mix that I had bought for my birthday back in May. The cupcakes turned out very well.

She's only been gone for a couple of hours and I already miss her. It makes me want to move to Lethbridge. I just love my job so much and I don't know what I would do for work there. Convincing her to move here is an option, but she loves her job so much too. I guess I should be working on my stock photos harder than ever.

Right now I am saving my istock money to buy a video camera to shoot stock videos with. The site experiences a summer slowdown, but it seems to be ending. As it picks up again, the istock money will be a big help. It would be nice to be making enough money from istock so that even if it wasn't a full time gig, that it would let me take more time off in the summer when we aren't as busy in the studio.

-Gary

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Went to The Lake

Heidi's parents have a cabin on the shore of a lake in Montana and they were kind enough to invite me to come down for a few days with Heidi. I had an incredible time. It was a nice chance to relax before the school photo season starts again. I also really enjoyed getting to know her parents and littlest brother better.
We did a little boating, jet skiing, swimming and canoing. It was a really fun long weekend for the two of us. Heidi was excited to give me a taste of what is was like to grow up in her family.
I got a text message from Tracie yesterday, because today would have been our wedding anniversary. I called her and we had a little chat.
This whole thing is getting better bit by bit all the time. It was a kind of difficult talking to her, but I am feeling significantly improved because of it, so I'm glad I called.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fixing Electronics

Does being able to fix a broken LCD screen on your camera's flash make you more Manly or more Nerdy. For my money it makes you more manly.

A month or two ago I was doing some photos of my parents using my SB-800 speedlights off camera on stands with umbrella diffusers. A small breeze tipped one of the flashes over and cracked the LCD screen. I figured that it would be pretty easy to replace myself, so I looked it up on the internet.

Here is a link to the instructions (or possibly destructions) How to fix a Nikon SB-800 Flash. It is pretty straight forward and pretty easy if you are careful. I recommend being very gentle, if you feel you need to add much force at all as you are doing this project, there is probably a wire caught somewhere so that should be a signal to examine things more closely.

Important info:

Nikon Parts phone number: (310) 414-8107. This number is in California. They won't ship to Canada.
The Canadian Number is (905) 625-9910.

Apparently in the USA it costs $37.50 + shipping (about $10)
It cost me $57.45 in Canadian Funds + $5 for shipping

part description: SB-800 LCD (The parts people can figure out the part number pretty easily)

the part # is : SS523-55

I admit I risked wasting a $65, on this little repair job, but it would have cost at least double that to have it fixed, not to mention what the shipping would have cost. The replacement cost would have been around $350 so I figure it was a risk worth taking.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

-Gary

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lots of Good Stuff

So it seems with so much to write about, I've been procrastinating. On the weekend, I made a quick trip to Lethbridge to see Heidi and meet her parents. We went to her parents house and I got to meet them along with her sister and brother in law and their kids. We had a great visit with her Dad and Mom. Apparently, her Dad googled me, and as I have gone to great lengths to be findable, it was pretty easy for him. I guess Heidi thought it was sort of weird, but it seems like a pretty smart thing to do in my opinion.

The next day we went to Waterton, we gave a friend of Heidi's a ride and spent the day in the park. I didn't bring my camera, which was a foolish thing for me to do considering the fact that I am a photographer. Anyway, we had a really good time. I love to walk and talk and all the stuff that goes along with that, tripping, stubbing your toe things like that.

I had a really great time and I wish I could see her again this weekend. Stupid living in different cities. That's the worst.

Anyway on Tuesday, I had my sleep study done. It involved sticking some short tubes into my nostrils, taping a microphone to my neck, and putting some sort of heart rate monitor thing on my finger. So it was pretty much a normal night. It went well, but about halfway through the night the finger thing really started to bug me so I put it on a different finger. Well it stopped recording after that and I had to do the test again last night.

As I was clicking the buttons on the machine I noticed that my heart was beating at 68 BPM and I thought to myself, "Boy I'm sure relaxed". As I lay there I imagined a nice flat graph of my heart rate and the idea soothed me. Just as I was falling asleep and very relaxed, !!!Ding!!! a text message startled me, then I saw it was from Heidi. And at once I knew that the flat graph showing my heart rate had been ruined. First from the scare, then finding out the message was from Heidi! I imagined a huge spike on the graph and started laughing. I can only imagine what the doctor will think. I texted her back and she got me going twice more with messages before I fell asleep.

In the morning I woke up and saw on the machine's screen, not recording, device unplugged. I must have turned during the night, and the finger thing had come unplugged from the machine. I plugged it back in, but it was too late, I was already awake for the day. I removed my finger from the device, to ease unhooking the other monitoring devices and it started beeping right away! Boy, I thought, why couldn't it make that beeping when your unplugged? I would have gotten it plugged back in right away.

The next morning I told the sleep people what had happened. They told me that they would call if I had to do the test again. I guess they need six hours worth of data. I'm getting sick of sleeping connected to that machine but I really want to know if I have trouble breathing while I am asleep.

Anyway, I'm doing well, and my next planned day to visit Heidi is coming again in another seven days if I can keep myself away this weekend.

-Gary Milner

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Really Good Weekend

So my friend Heidi came to visit me from the 12-14th and we had a really good time. Hanging out and watching movies with other people is something that I have really been missing.

We strolled around a few parks and spent most of our time chatting with each other. One thing I really like about her, and may seem silly, is that she can walk in a straight line.

We cooked for each other and my parents invited us over for dinner one night as well.

I was really when she had to go back to Lethbridge.

Then this last weekend, I helped put on an event of istock photographers. We rented a high school and found a bunch of models to shoot. There were 10 photographers and about 28 models over the course of the two days.

I shot about 750 photos and of that I thought that 200 or so were good enough to convert from the RAW format in to JPG. Of those 200 or so, not all of them will be good enough to upload to istock. I didn't look at them all at full size and seeing small copies of photos hides defects. In some of them for example I focused in the wrong spot, or the picture is just plain out of focus, and of course there are blinks and photos that are just too similar to bother uploading both.

I have uploaded 40 already, and I'll probably be uploading about 100 more. Which would be fantastic. It would mean that a quarter of my portfolio was created last weekend. I'd have approximately 500 photos online which is 25% of my new goal of 2000 photos for sale on istock. It seems like it is easily with in my reach now. Finding out how easy it actually is to find people that are willing to model for you just amazes me.

For one of my next shoots, I want to do a track and field theme, and I've already asked one kid if I could do some long jumping photos of him. He's pretty excited to do any sort of modeling for me. When I suggested long jumping he said that that would be perfect because he has perfectly symmetrical and rather large leg muscles.

Now it is just a matter of when I will be able to plan it for. It just feels like I have a lot on my plate lately. I guess anything compared to nothing feels like a lot.

I got a free eye exam the other day from a friend and so I asked him if I could do a portrait of him and his wife. I have 1500 photos to make into a slide show and somehow otherwise organize. I play ultimate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I want to go to Lethbridge to visit Heidi this weekend (and pretty much every other weekend as well.) On August 8th she we are going to see Spamalot in Calgary. Then on the 16th or 23th we are going to her parent's cabin in Montana. Then the last week of August is here and I'm back photographing kids in schools again and it is the busy season at the studio.

I guess I'm really lucky to have so many plans. This is one of my fullest summers ever, and I just want to pack more and more into it all the time. More photo shoots. More visits with Heidi. More sports. More everything. I'm really very tired.

Oh and I saw Batman on Monday. I give it two thumbs up, it's fine summer fun.

-Gary

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Starting The Weekend Off Right

There's new news about my new friend. Her name is Heidi and she is from Lethbridge. She's in Medicine Hat for my crazy Sunday Monday weekend.

We went to dinner and a movie, we saw Hancock and had a great time.

I give Hancock two enthusiastic thumbs up. It is fine holiday fun. The movie is very funny and very dramatic. I enjoyed it more than the last 10 movies I have seen combined. (I watch a lot of movies though)

This is turning into the best weekend ever and it hasn't even really started yet!

-Gary

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hotline

I went to Calgary the other day and made a new friend. Now I feel like I'm 16 years old again. Feeling awkward is actually fun in a twisted sort of way.

The problem is that it seems like I am in a rush to end conversations.

"Hey Gary!"
"Hey nameless person!"
"You look great today"
"Thanks, nameless person. Well, see you around."

That conversation would be fine if Gary and nameless person weren't trying to be friends

About 20 minutes ago, I decided to call this new friend of mine. We probably talked for one minute and one second. I know this because all of my phone calls last between 59 seconds and 61 seconds and it seemed like a long conversation.

If it could even be called a conversation.

I don't know what my problem is I called them. I wanted to talk to them. I still want to talk to them. But I ended the conversation before I wanted to. That's messed up.

I talked to them for four hours straight on the weekend. They even commented on how easy it was to talk to me.

It is the stupid phone. I hate phones. Phones are my nemesis. One of the best working moments of my life was being fired, on my birthday, from a job that required copious amounts of phone conversations.

So, back to thinking about my friend. I would rather drive for 2.5 hours to where they live, talk to them and then drive 2.5 hours back to Medicine Hat than have the exact same conversation on the phone.

That's probably weird.

-Gary

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm going to try this the next time I'm in a place with an escalator.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ordering Stuff on the Internet

It really feels like I've been ordering a lot of stuff on the internet lately. Late Saturday night I bought season 2 of a television series that I've recently started to enjoy. Today I purchased a light stand, umbrella adapter and umbrella, to mount my speed light on for some hot off camera flash action. Not to mention that Russian mail-order bride. I have now idea how the mailman will fit her in the mailbox, hopefully the shipper will punch a few holes in the box for her.

Everything and everyone should start showing up in the mail tomorrow or so.

-Gary

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Photomaton

In 1926, a Jewish inventor from Siberia named Anatol Josepho opened a photo-booth concession, the first Photomaton in the world.

It makes me want to find one and get some pictures taken.

-Gary

Saturday, May 31, 2008

First Outdoor Sitting of the Summer

Today I had my first outdoor sitting of the summer season. It made me pretty happy. You get a little cabin fever being cooped up in the studio from September to May. You have to think in a totally different manner. You get to do things that you would never do in the studio.

It's nice. I had a really good day at work today. I'm so glad I have such a great job.

Oh and it looks like I have a date lined up for Monday. Life is looking up.

-g

Monday, May 26, 2008

Istockalypse Now

I am planning an istock minilypse here in Medicine Hat for July 19-20. I'm pretty excited for it. We had our first meeting today and it looks like we are going to get some top selling pictures.

We are planning for 15 photographers to make it manageable for ourselves as first time planners. We hope to rent a good chunk of a local high school and the YMCA.

We are possibly going to have a casting call for models here in town but we think we might know enough people willing to model that we might not even need to do that. Obviously we need school aged kids, teacher types and people that do fitness type things (people in shape and people that need to get into shape).

I'm really excited about getting this event off the ground.

-Gary

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Facebook Poker

I've been playing facebook poker a little more often lately, and doing pretty well. Now, I'm not really that great of a poker player, but I seem to be a lot better than many of the other facebook players. I'm ranked at about 47,000 out of 633,000 daily users which is %7 of the total players. That ranking is probably out of date because I just made a cool 20k in play money and the rankings aren't calculated live.

There only a few secrets that I can see. First is to build your bankroll until you can actually afford to play at the bigger tables, the 100/200 tables. People will go in with a 2000 minimum buy in against people who have 20,000+ chips. It just doesn't make sense. Statistically the randomness of the games is going to put you out when the chip difference is that big.

Second is to play the bigger tables. The people at those tables play a little more consistently, and seem to react to what the other players do with a little bit of sense. I guess it comes from having more chips to lose. At the low stake tables, people will play too randomly and just get lucky on the river card. You can't play with a strategy or figure out what the other people are going to do in certain situations because they are behaving with out rhyme or reason.

-gary

Sunday, May 11, 2008

lluvia de Limones

Next time you are in Buenos Aires, watch out for Lemons falling from the sky!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ultimate Frisbee

So the spring ultimate frizbee league started on Tuesday. Today was our second game. The game on Tuesday was great the weather was really nice and there were lots of people. Today there were plenty of people but it was freezing cold out and the wind was just bitter cold. I was starting to get ear aches from the cold wind, I and wished that I had had some cotton to put in my ears.

It is a really fun game, but I need to work on my disc handling skills a lot. I'm in my endurance is above average right now because I have been hitting the treadmill for the last few weeks, but I also need to work on my speed. Losing 30lbs would go a long way and losing 50 would be perfect.

I'm on a team now. We are the yellows. It looks like a pretty good team. A few more weeks in and I'll be doing just fine. By the end of the spring league, I'll be ready for the summer competitive league.

Anyone in Medicine Hat looking for an Ultimate Frizbee team, check out the Medicine Hat Ultimate Disk League site hudl.ca

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I am Iron Man

I went to see Iron Man with a cute girl called Lisa tonight. I had a really good time. I really enjoyed the movie a lot, it was better than most of the comic book movies that have come out in the last few years.

Getting to know Lisa was the best part. It's been years since I have felt comfortable getting to know a woman other than as a co-worker or acquaintance, friend of a friend type things.

I do miss having someone that I am completely comfortable with to tell my secrets to, but I guess that will take more that sitting in a theater together and a dinner. At least I got to celebrate my birthday in style.

-Gary

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I Come From The Land Down Under

See this photo, It is making me famous down under. Look for it about seven seconds into the clip.

Hoppy Hopperton



It's already working wonders here in Canada, I have a date tomorrow. The ladies just love Famous Gary.

-Gary Milner

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pedal Power

I went for my first bike ride of the year today. I rode to the Crestwood Rec Center. On the way there, I stopped at the bike shop to purchase a new lock and some new pedals.

I accidentally broke my left pedal a couple of years ago and should have had it replaced right away. Today it was replaced. The new pedals are amazing. They are a lot wider than my old ones, it makes me wish that I had just had the old ones replaced right when I bought the bike in the first place.

Wide pedals are the way to go for sure. They are so much more comfortable for your foot, and it feels like you can pedal much harder because more of your foot is on the pedal. It also seems like my foot is much less likely to slip off of the pedal.

I think that I will start riding my bike to work at least two days a week. Maybe Wednesdays and Fridays.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dating

Had my first date last Friday. We went to a movie and then to a restaurant for appetizers afterwards. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least.

I don't know what I was really expecting as I start my life over, but I have to admit that I had a really good time and I hope I can duplicate it again this week with another girl.

-Gary

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Grad Formals

I shot my second grad formal sitting today. The girl had a beautiful dress that must have cost a fortune. I haven't looked at the converted files yet, but I'm sure that I got a lot of very nice photos.

Graduation is my favourite time of year. The girls all look so good in their dresses, they are almost all excited to be their for their photos and they are almost always happy with how the pictures turn out.

Those three things make the job so much more fun. That and this is the beginning of the most creatively free time of the year. During the school shooting and to a lesser extent we have most of the poses pretty well planned and everything is choreographed to be as efficient as possible.

With grad, there is no real plan from person to person, each person gets an individual session. Within the limits of the photographer's style of course. I'm really happy that the formals are starting.

-Gary

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Big News A Little Early

I promised some big news on Monday, but I guess I'll give it a little early.

The divorce is final today.

I guess I sort of thought of this whole thing as a place to share my feelings. It isn't. Not today anyway.

This will be the final post on the matter.

-Gary

Friday, April 11, 2008

Home Again

I guess I've needed a couple of weeks to relax after my vacation. I'm a big fan of taking a little while to chill.

That being said I do have a few things to write about.

On the way home from Bs.As. the plane waited patiently for it's turn to take off for over 20 minutes. Then there was a storm over the amazon river that we had to go around, not to mention the head winds. Which meant that at the exact time we landed in Chicago, my flight to Dallas was taking off. Which was fine. The lady at the desk was very helpful and suggested that I take a flight to Huston then back to Calgary.

Good. I always liked Huston. But as we all know there are lots of problems in Huston. Not the least of which was that the airline that the lady in Chicago had booked my flight to Calgary on, wouldn't honour my ticket. They said I could go standby, but that if I didn't make it on, I wouldn't have time to go make it back for my plan B.

So I went back to the original airline told them the story and they put me on a flight to Dallas and a later flight to Calgary. I got to Calgary 12 hours later than I expected. But at least I got to go to Huston.

At Calgary I hopped a cab to the greyhound station and bought a ticket to Medicine Hat. Did you know that there is a bus from Calgary to Medicine Hat at 1:00am on Saturday night? I slept the entire way. I had my headphones on and when the bus driver shouted to the people on the bus that, "We're in Medicine Hat, and would Gary Milner please get off, I know you're here I did a head count and we have one extra person and your luggage is here." I didn't hear him. He started waking people up, luckily I was in the second seat from the front. I don't think I have ever been in such a daze in my entire life. I was completely powerless to resist.

A few minutes of the cold Canadian air woke me right up. I called a cab and got a ride home. It was really great to be back in my own bed.

Now I have been working for two weeks and we are done taking all the grad photos, except for a few stragglers. Anyone who comes now is going to have a hard time getting into the yearbook, we already sent the photos to the schools.

On of our photo editors has moved on to another job, editing video now, so I have been recruited to do some of the pre-editing. I like it well enough, in fact it is very nice when there isn't a lot to do in the studio side of things. It helps us photographers be busy and keeps us out of our assistant's hair so she can keep busy putting the packages together and helping customers.

Work is going really well. I'm really happy to be back in the studio taking photos again.

Come back Monday for some big news.

-Gary

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

La Boca Juniors

I went to see a futbol game the other day. It was the Boca Juniors against Colon. I went with a tour group that works with some of the local hostels. They provide a ticket to the game, and a ride there and back for $50. That´s about 150 pesos. The thing is the ticket that you get only costs $8 if you buy it yourself somewhere else. That´s a measly 24 pesos a Taxi to the game couldn´t cost more that 15 pesos so I guess you´re paying to be part of the group, which definitely has it´s own benefits.

On the way from the bus to the stadium, there are people selling all sorts of things, food and drinks as well as knock off Boca Juniors gear.

About a block away from the stadium, the cops have blockades where they frisk you before you go past. They don´t frisk the women. Which is nice. They take away various things that could be used as weapons or projectiles. This isn´t hard to get past though, because the search is only cursory. Anyway, people live inside the blockade and I´m pretty sure it is only there for a few hours before the game anyway.

At the gate, they frisk you again before you go in. You put your ticket into a turnstile reader similar to what many mass transit systems have. It punches holes in the magnetic strip to prevent more than one person from using the same ticket.

I had a general seating ticket for the side of the stadium opposite from the hooligans. The tunnel to the general seating indicates that the stadium was built by hook or by crook. The entire place in made entirely of concrete, but the molds seem to be made from 2x4´s. You can see all the joints. It isn´t like back home where the concrete is completely smooth and finished looking. The concrete work here is rough. Then they paint it. You just hope the engineers didn´t make any mistakes.

The general seating is precarious to say the least. Imagine a very steep staircase made from concrete. Make it the size of a stadium and paint it yellow. Add a few rails every 12 or 15 rows to prevent avalanches of humanity and your set. There are now rows, or columns, or walkways. Coca-cola salesmen walk through the crowd as best they can shouting, "Coca! Coca! Cinco pesos!" intermingled with, "Permiso" so that they can get through. They have to hold their tray of drinks high above their heads or they won´t fit through. There job is made more difficult as the crowd thickens and by the fact that there is no direction as to where you sit. It is literally just a wall of stairs you can sit where ever you want. There aren´t stairs for sitting and stairs for walking. It is all just one mass. Such that often you have to move diagonally through the crowd going up or down the steps. People seem to be really good about letting the sellers through.

There are also other vendors. People selling Popsicles are very popular. They carry their wares in Styrofoam coolers. With what looks like dry ices surrounding the Popsicles. If they can find their way into the middle of a group of tourists, it is like a jackpot. They can sell 2/3 of their stuff without moving. People pass the Popsicles and money back and forth. It works really well, because you don´t have to shift from your place and the vendor makes a lot of money very rapidly.

Then there are women selling hats and bandanna these aren´t as popular as the drinks or Popsicles, but they seem to do a decent business. I bought one because I didn´t have any suntan lotion for my noggin.

The for me the best part of the game is the crowd. A minute before the game starts, the hooligan band on the far side of the pitch starts to play. They have lots of drums and trumpets, and they play the entire time. The crowd sings, cheers and at times jumps. I wasn´t sitting on the hooligan side of the stadium, which would have been pretty scary if only for the jumping. The concrete sways and bounces with the jumping. On my side the people were a lot more relaxed and didn´t do much jumping.

They don´t boo here. There are choruses of shrill whistles when they want to show disapproval to the visiting side. When the get in the open or when they make a substitution.

Boca ended up winning 2-1, the drumming and trumpets continued playing. I think that the doors to the cheap seats are closed because the rest of the stadium empties well before anyone even stands up where we are, and still the music plays. I was starting to think that they were actually playing it over the loud speakers for the entire time but as the cheap seats began to empty, I could see the kids with the drums. And they played as they made their way to the exit. They played the entire time, from the start of the game to the time they passed the cops as they entered the tunnel. It was full force drumming for three hours. When they finally finished, the crowd cheered.

Leading a crowd of thousands with your band must be amazing, everyone singing, "Da le Bo! Da le Bo!" to your tune and the other songs for when they score a goal or when an opponent is sent off. The crowd makes the game the experience that it is.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Istock Event Day Three

The shoot was held in and around the Istock employee apartments. There was a shoot on the patio on the roof of the building which has a little pool. There was a shoot on the ground floor in the kitchen/living room area. We had a shoot in the street again and a soccer shoot in a plaza not far from the apartment.

This was my best day of shooting of the entire event. I especially enjoyed doing the soccer shots. We had a big studio light attached to a battery, and I was able to use the extremely high sync speed of my camera to great effect. It is a type of outdoor lighting that I have been wanting to do for a year or so.

The great thing about the Nikon D70s is the high flash sync speed. With an on board speed light such as the SB-800 like I have, the sync speed is 1/500, while most other cameras top out at 1/250. This means to achieve the same results, your flash only needs to be 1/2 as powerful. Or that you can achieve great results in even more demanding conditions. Another interesting fact is that there is a hack for this camera. If the camera doesn´t know that it is firing a flash, you can sync it at much higher speeds. The duration of the actual flash starts to be what limits what you can do rather than how long the entire sensor is exposed.

Anyway, the final day was pretty fun.

At 8:00pm we went to the closing party, I had a really good time at the party. A lot better time than I thought I would have. I´m not big into the bar scene, particularly when I don´t really know anyone there. The good thing about our party though was that istock had rented the entire bar for themselves, so I knew most of the people there and recognized all of them. Well, I didn´t know all of the models, but they were really out numbered.

We had a slide show with photos from all the photographers. I have to say that it is a very intimidating thing. The 90 best photos from a pool of well over 45,000. Every photo was a 9 or a 10. Some photos got cheers and others didn´t. I was sorry for the ones that didn´t because it wasn´t as if they were bad or uninteresting it´s just that they were competing against the 10s the photos that were perfect and have that extra punch.

One of my photos didn´t get a cheer, one that I particularly like, but it´s good stock, not really art. My second photo got a cheer and that was really gratifying. To be in a room full of the best photographers that you´ve ever met and to get a cheer of approval. My third photo got the best response of all. A photo of an old lady sitting on a park bench. The crowd gasped. I loved it.

The party was fun and we danced a while and talked a while. I ended up going back to the apartment really early. Ursula, a lady from my group and hotel wanted to leave at about 1:00 am she said she was too old to stay up so late, anyway I was ready by that time and so were the others. In Argentina, the real party is barely starting at 1:00 am. I don´t know how long the rest of them were there, but I get the feeling that the party sort of ended at around 4 or 5. The istock crew had to return all the rental stuff by about 8 and so that had to get home in time to do that.

The next morning Ursula and I went out to exchange a shirt she had bought for her husband. I was in the most amazing boutique I have ever seen. I´m told that it was one of Argentina´s top designers and some of the most expensive clothes in the country. The funny thing is that when you look at the currancy conversion, the prices were about the same as you would find at any regular mall in Canada.

I´ve come to the conclusion that I don´t really want to buy clothes in Canada anymore. I´m no fashionista, but people in Canada don´t really seem to have much style. It isn´t like I have some sort of fashion sense, but you can´t go your entire life wearing sweat pants. You should look good at least some of the time.

On our way back, we saw some of the other guys on a patio cafe relaxing so we joined them for a couple of hours. Lise Gange wandered by and joined us as well. She didn´t come for the event, but just to travel to the same place as the istock crew. She is an istock celeb, she has the most sales of anyone at istock by 300,000 or so. They were all planning a final meal for that night and I was able to snag an invite which I really appreciated.

We went to a really huge restaurant and sat on the patio. Is there anything Canadians love more than having dinner on the patio? I don´t think there is. It was really hot, but this restaurant didn´t allow smoking indoors. Legally speaking, they don´t allow smoking in any restaurants, but it varies from place to place here in the city and out in the more rural areas, forget about it. You can pretty much smoke where ever you want. I had this opinion about Argentina before, they have rules and norms, but they aren´t really enforced much at all. Like the drinking age. It´s a good idea, but then you can´t send your kid to get beer for you, so the rules get bent. Anyway, back to smoking on the patio. Cigs here cost 5 pesos, which is about $1.60 or so. So everyone was smoking up a storm.

The food was amazing. The steak was so good again. I´m thinking of getting a cab up there tonight just for dinner. It really is that good. One of the higher ups at Istock got the bill which was really nice of him. We sat and ate and talked for 3 hours or more. I just love the lifestyle. Even if I never go full time with istock, I can easily imagine myself taking long vacations during the slow periods at the studio, and coming here to relax and enjoy the lifestyle.

-Gary

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Istock event day Two

On the second day of the event, we had a manor house rented. It was fairly large. There were five stations and lots of models for each station.

The first station was themed "The Super Rich", the second "Tango", the third "The Psychologist", the fourth was "Death/Funeral" and the last was in the plaza with dogs.

The super rich setting was a problem for me. My main light came unplugged and we couldn´t figure out where it had come unplugged until my time was mostly up.

The tango was great I really enjoyed shooting the dancers and they definitely had their work cut out for them, because they were really dancing, just holding the dance poses.

The psychologist office was great. Both of the patients were amazing. I particularly liked the girl, she is an aspiring stage actor and just finished a television ad for diet coke that will be airing in Canada.

I enjoyed taking pictures in the plaza the dogs were great, and so were the models that we had.

The funeral scene just didn´t work for me. I couldn´t think of anything to do and just wasn´t inspired by it.

All in all, it was a great day and I have some photos that I am very proud of. Like I said before though, they are all in Raw and I won´t be processing them until I get home.

-Gary

Friday, March 21, 2008

Istockalypse

So to get back to blogging a little bit.

On my third day here, the event started. We began the day with a presentation by the Ministry of Tourism. It reminded me a lot of watching other groups presentations in university. They showed us their website and talked about the self guided tours.

I guess you can go on these tours and when you get to a certain spot, dial a number with your cellphone and they will give you an audio explanation of what you are seeing.

After that we were released into the wild streets to take photos of the models. I´m going to post photos of the models later, I shot everything in Raw format and I haven´t had the time or desire to go through them yet.

We got tons of nice pictures. It is amazing what a reflector can do for you. It makes the pictures spectacular for not a lot of money. It does seem to take a little practice to learn how to use a reflector. You would think people could just imagine they were shining a mirror on someone, but I guess you have to know that the reflector actually has to be in the sun for it to work.

We bought some flowers along the way and they made a very good prop.

The first day of shooting was very successful and I got something that I am very proud of.

Later that night, we went to a very nice restaurant in Palermo Soho. I had the lomo, in english it is called the fillet. Let me tell you that it was the best steak I have ever had in my entire life. I´m sort of sad to think that I have never ever even had a great steak before now.

The thing that I like best about Argentina, and Buenos Aires is that everything is so laid back and relaxed. The meal in the restaurant must have taken at least 2.5 hours or maybe even three hours, and the waiters didn´t even bat an eye. They weren´t in a hurry to kick us out to reuse the table. We just sat, talked and ate. The service here is really good everywhere. They aren´t the fastest, but they are very attentive and seem to have the perfect balance of coming by the table while not bugging you all night. Tips are gratefully accepted, but they don´t seem to be expected.

Everything here seems very cheap. For example, the restaurant, is a pretty fancy place in one of the best neighbourhoods in the entire city. My steak cost 30 pesos with is $10, and it was literally the best steak I have ever eaten. $10 would barely even cover the tip back home.

I could really see myself living here during the coldest three or four months of the Canadian winter. The lifestyle is just so great.

-Gary

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What would you if in the same situation again?

Well, it seemes to have worked out for me, but there are a couple of things I could have done differently.

I didn´t really need to go into this area. I could see that it wasn´t a good neighbourhood and people have told me that you can´t really leave the caminito on foot. They have police stationed at the entrances and exits to keep their eyes on things. It is pretty much an unwritten rule everyone stays on their own side of the line.

I could have had my camera in some sort of bag so that it wouldn´t be visible. This doesn´t work if you want to take photos, but it helps while you are just walking.

Another thing I could have done is to keep moving a little quicker. I was obviously just wandering around and had stopped to take photos. If I had just taken the photo then continued on to another spot, I would have probably not been approached.

You can probably see that the street is pretty empty. I didn´t know for sure but it could have even been a dead end. I just checked google earth and it isn´t but I didn´t know at the time.

How many cameras do you have with you?

I only have the one camera with me. I don´t know what I would do if they got it. Use my cellphone camera or something. Maybe find a point and shoot for the rest of my trip it is hard to say.

-Gary

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

La Boca

I was walking around the Camintio in the Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Caminito is fairly small and I soon decided to go further afield. After walking a block or two, I saw some men playing soccer, but some ladies on a balcony warned me not to go over. I went down a different street taking photos.

Eventually I came to an empty street near some warehouses. I saw a pair of boys looking at me, but I chalked it up to me being a tourist. I continued down the street, but was aware of the boys. It's always a good idea to PAY ATTENTION TO THE WORLD AROUND YOU. I saw the boys coming towards me and I kept one eye open.

When they got within a few meters of me, I said hello and they continued to approach.

One of them said, "Give me your camera." I didn't understand what he said right away, and took half a step back because he was talking about my camera. The second kid said, "Give me the camera." This kid was a little grabby and reached for my camera. In that split second, I clued in and punched him in the face. The kid seemed taken a back. Unfortunately I had my camera strap on and my hand raised with my camera to my shoulder. My left hand was basically in the same position. This meant it was mostly a jab to his eye and didn't have as much force as I would have liked. I know I didn't hit him hard enough, because he didn't fall down or anything, and my hand isn't bruised.

In the instant after I hit him, I was worried that there was going to be a real fight and there were two of them. They were only kids though and I would have put a hurt on them. In the instant after I hit the kid, he pulled out a steak knife. Not a really good steak knife, but a cheapy weepy one that cost $1 for a set of 5. I'm sure that if he had stabbed me, it the handle would have broken off.

As soon as I saw the knife I split.

It was a sprint, let me tell you. It's a good thing I was only 2.5 blocks from the tourist area because I am pretty fat and by the time I rounded the first corner I knew that I probably wouldn't be able to stay a head for much longer. About half a block past the first corner I looked over my shoulder and didn't see anyone coming after me.

I caught up to some guy in the street going in the same direction as me and slowed down to take a little rest in case they decided to come after me after all, and the guy asked me what happened. I walked with him back to the caminito and they have police stationed at all the entrances and exits to the area. He took me to the cop, I told the cop what had happened, but when he asked me if I could recognize them or what they were wearing I knew that I couldn't. I told him not to worry because nothing happened to me and I got to punch the kid in the face anyway.

I didn't get a photo of the kids unfortunately even though the camera was pointed right at them. They were probably 15 or 16 years old. The bigger one spoke first, but the smaller one was grabbing at the camera and he is the one that got punched in the face.

-Gary

Working holiday

I know that many of you want a few more posts about the trip so far and unfortunately I have been working almost the entire time, or out in the streets anyway. I'll just say that the event was amazing. I had a great time. The other photographers were amazingly helpful. The locations were good and the models did an outstanding job.
The first day we shot in the street. The second day we had a mansion with 5 shooting stations. On the last day we were in an apartment they rented. I had a great time so far.
I'll write again asap, but I have another shoot set up for tommorow.
-Gary

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Estacion de Dario y Maxi

I went to see some friends of mine in La Plata yesterday. On the way I went through this train station. Apparently two boys, Dario and Maxi, have claimed ownership of the station by painting over all the signs with their own names.

Apart from being disgusted by the vandalism. I find this to be really, really funny. It put a smile on my face. Thinking about it makes me happy. While I am against vandalism, I find this to be somewhat more clever than most other graffiti and it must have taken a lot of effort, because they had to paint the regular signs black first and then come back later to pain their names.

I was on my way to La Plata to see more friends and I received some bad news. A good friend of mine called Luis has had a stroke or some other type of brain problem. He has a big scar on his head and couldn't remember me at all. He was pleasant enough but there wasn't even a hit of recollection. His daughter Brenda is in her last year of high school now and his son Alexi has a baby daughter. His wife, Maria del Carmen, swore to me that she couldn't believe it was me. When she looked over the wall to see who was clapping, she told me that I looked very familiar but that she didn't know who it was until I told her. Maria was very happy to see me.

Another friend of mine who lived around the corner from Luis, called Dario has died. I was told that he was hit by a car. He had two young daughters and a wife. The three of them have since moved somewhere else.

To a certain extent I regret going to see them, but having a day to absorb it all, I'm glad that I know what's happening with them, at least a little anyway. At the time I was very disappointed, but now I know how they are doing and it was nice to see them.

That makes at least two of my very good friends here dead, for those of you counting. More have probably passed away, but I don't know if I will be able to find out either way. I'm pretty sure I couldn't find the children of Lidia, and she seemed pretty old to me 10 years ago.

The others are probably fine, and I will go to see them next week if I can. There aren't many more to visit.

-Gary

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Fell Head Over Heels in Love Today

I fell in love today with these little girls. Let me tell you that I haven't done that much kissing in years.

They are Yessica's daughters.

I went to see them today. Let me tell you, it was strange, exhilarating and one of the best things I have ever done. I haven't been this happy in a long time.

We went to a little park to do some photos. I had the best time ever. A foreigner with a camera is a popular guy. Some neighborhood girl who must have been 3 or 4 years old convinced me to take some photos of her, and when I did, the dam broke. 10 or 15 young girls (between 4 and 12 years old) started modeling for me in the park. I had a great time. Then as I was going, they convinced me to do some photos of the boys. They pretended to be reluctant but some of the girls convinced the older boys (14-16years old) to get a team style picture and then suddenly the younger boys weren't too macho for a photo anymore. They lined up like a futbol team and had a ball and everything. All the kids loved seeing the photos on the back of the camera.

I could have stayed there until it got dark I was having such a good time.

-Gary Milner

Hey Hey, I'm in BA

So I made it, finally.

We sat at the gate in Dallas-Fort Worth for 2 hours. Three people didn't show up, but their bags sure did. I guess it takes longer to get specific bags off the plane than actually load or unload the entire plane two or three times. Maybe they were hoping that they people were going to show up. Oh well.

Pictures tonight, and by tonight I mean later today, the time difference is 3 or 4 hours.


-Gary

Sunday, March 09, 2008

blogging on the bus

I am on the bus in the station in medicine hat we are about to leave. I am excited. The new iPod touch is great. I am glad I got it. I'll post again in Calgary. Have a nice night. Oh, ride greyhound.
-Gary

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Trip To Argentina

I'm off to Calgary tomorrow to catch my flight to Argentina Monday morning.

I am really excited about it.

I'm packed and ready to go. All I have to do is charge my ipod.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Earliest Memory

If you had to guess which of my parents is more like Michael Jackson who would you guess?

This photo my Mom is demonstrating a move known as the Jackson Dangle. It is less well known than the moonwalk, but much more dangerous.

Before I was born my mother taught a parenting school for stars in Hollywood. Where do you think Brittney learned to drive with a baby on her lap? Alec Baldwin's telephone rant--scripted by my mom. Brittney almost dropping her baby on it's head is a move that was perfected on Jeff.

That's why he grows his hair a little long. It hides the lumps.

Anyway, this photo is of my earliest memory. I remember it being so high up. It didn't seem safe to me. The rail was cool, damp and had moss on it. The moss was very interesting, but I was worried about falling.

-Gary

Hawaii 1989

I've been scanning old photos with my mom today. We've done a lot of them already, but I get the feeling that we've barely scratched the surface. All the albums that you can slide photos in and out of are done, but most of the pictures are in albums that make removing the pictures much more difficult.

We're doing four photos per scan, so I still have to crop and separate the pictures which means that it will be a while before I get them onto flickr.

In the mean time, you can enjoy this picture of Jeff and me on top of Diamondhead during our vacation to Hawaii in 1989. You will probably notice the very stylish black 'hip pouch' that I am wearing.

They were all the rage in Hawaii that year. Everyone on the whole island had one. I *really* wanted one but my parents seemed to think they were stupid and wouldn't buy me one.

I decided that I would have to take matters into my own hands and so I begged my parents for all their spare change every time they bought something and eventually built up $5.50 worth of dimes, nickels and quarters. It took probably three days. When I finally had enough money, I went down to a store at the bottom of the hotel and bought one for myself.

When I got back up to the room to show off my prize, they decided to buy Jeff and Jackie each their own. Boy that made me mad. All that effort, scraping all that change together and then Jeff and Jackie just get theirs handed to them. I wished that I had just kept the money and begged more for the 'hip pouch'.

That's not the only time my parents and by parents I mean my Mom has not understood how much I have actually wanted something that I asked for.

-Gary

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dunky Dunky

My brother Jeff and I had a photo shoot in the Church Gym this morning. It went pretty well. Jeff got some really nice shots to upload to istock. I got some that I really like and that I will upload as well, but I found that shooting the pictures I have in my head into my camera to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.

There are several bits of equipment that would probably make the job easier, but we improvised some of it and that helped. Having more time would have been great, because to a certain extent we were a little rushed. More helpers would have been great as well. Having a basketball bouncing freely near hundreds of dollars worth of equipment is nerve wracking to say the least. I have a few pretty good ideas, but it seems that I need a small crew to help with the logistics of all of them. I'm not just talking about models either, I mean actual assistants. It's nice at the studio to always have at least one assistant pretty much all the time and another one or two if the need were to arise.

Having that same equipment sitting by itself unsecured on the same ladder your are using is a little stressful as well.

This is one of my favorites from the shoot. There are some nitpicky things that I would change about it, but this is with no editing other than the raw conversion. I would probably crop it a little differently.

This photo took a little bit of work. I was standing on a ladder with my armpit at the height of the top of the back board and then I held my camera out over the hoop and shot the frame when I thought Jeff was in the right position. It is a little hard to aim without looking through the viewfinder, but with a wide angle lens and a little practice, you get pretty good at it. I was really nervous about the whole thing. If the ladder had tipped, I could have hung on to the backboard, but I wouldn't have wanted to. The edges are pretty square and sharp. We would have lost the two flashes that were sitting on top of the ladder. Hopefully Jeff could have gotten the ladder back up in time or at least been able to catch me enough for me to avoid any broken bones.

-Gary Milner

Monday, February 11, 2008

Overheard in the Studio

Stupid Kid, "My school pictures sucked. Look at my id card."

Girl, "Why are your sleeves like that?"

Stupid Kid, "I don't know. The guy even asked me if that's how I always have my sleeves."

At this point I figure out that I'm "the guy" that asked him about his sleeves, so I say to him, "What's your name? I want to look you up in the computer."

Stupid Kid, "I'm not telling. You'll just laugh."

Girl, "Jimmy Wales" (Name is made up to protect stupid kid)

So I look him up in the computer, and sure enough, he is wearing a tee shirt and his sleeves are push about half way up to his shoulders. When I saw the photo I remembered the kid. I started laughing. I said to him, "I asked you if you wanted your sleeves that way, now you don't like the pictures and you think I'm the idiot?"

Stupid Kid, "It's a tee shirt I didn't know why you were asking about my sleeves. I just though of course this is how I want my sleeves. I didn't even look at them. I don't know how they got that way."

I guess the real question is: Why would I ask someone if their sleeves were the way they wanted them if I didn't think they looked stupid.

Next time, to avoid this sort of trouble I'm going to ask, "Am I a cool guy?" Then no matter how they answer, I'm going to push my sleeves over my shoulders and say,"Does having my sleeves like this make me more cool or less cool?" Then I'll know if they know how they are wearing their sleeves.


In other non-idiot related news, my new ipod battery arrived in the mail today and I installed it. I hope that the new battery resolves my ipod woes.
-Gary Milner

Monday, February 04, 2008

Good Hard Disk News

I think I told you about my hard disk accident from a few months back. I thought I lost 3 years worth of photos but then found out I didn't really. The day before yesterday I made another happy discovery.

I found some CDs in one of my junk drawers. One of them was a copy of my personal folder from the Gauntlet. On it was a copy of my mission journal that I had typed up. That's two years worth of stories. I typed is in ms-word and single space with a 10pt font, it was over 100 pages long. It took me a couple of months typing a little every day.

I'm sure glad that it turns out that I don't have to retype it. I'm thinking of posting it here. I think some people would find it interesting. I'm torn about it, especially in light of my relationship change with Tracie. Maybe I'll just go for it. I could put up a couple of days worth every week. It might be interesting.

-Gary

Friday, February 01, 2008

Graduation Photos

I just finished my second day of shooting cap and gown photos for this years graduating class. Let me tell you, it is hard work shooting 30 or 40 kids in only six hours. Even when you have two assistants helping you.

Things are going very smoothly. I have my routine down pretty well from last year, thankfully. That makes it much easier on me. I can spend more time on the details that turn a nice photo good and a good photo great.

My main assistant is the same girl I worked with for the entire school season, and let me tell you, she is great. I couldn't ask for a better helper. She works quickly and efficiently, and she remembers to do things the way I like them. She catches on to the cues I give in conversation. She has a good eye for detail and catches most of the things we are looking for, as she helps the model into each pose.

Today, I took over about 15 minutes before the supper break and by that time we were about 45 minutes behind schedule and we had to use almost the entire break catching up. Then the first three after supper appointments showed up 10 minutes early. I didn't have a problem asking them to wait until 7:00.

With graduation photos like this, it is hard to avoid comparing the grads to how we perceived their school to be back in September. I suppose that this is somewhat unfair. At the school, the kids arrive in huge groups thinking, in many cases, that the photos don't matter. "My parents aren't going to buy these ones, I'm graduating. They will probably only buy the cap and gown photos. These photos are only for the id card." It's easier to be annoying to the photographer when you don't care about the photos. Another difference is the price of the photos. Grad photos cost nearly four times as much as the school photos. Oh, and you can't forget it is the grad photos that are going in the yearbook. Generally the grads behave a little better. The get a little rowdy when they come with a group of their friends, but it sort of evens out when their mom brings them.

I'm having a great time taking pictures of these kids.

-Gary

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Newfie, a Quebecer, and an Albertan

A Newfie, a Quebecer, and an Albertan were walking down the road together and they bumped into a lantern with a genie inside. Out pops the genie and he says, "I will grant you one wish each. Who wants to go first?"

The Newfie says, "Me, I want to go first."

So the genie replies, "Ok, what is your wish?"

The Newfie said, "My wish is to have a 2-lane highway across Newfoundland, smooth as a baby's arse!" The genie said, "Poof! There you go. A highway as smooth as a baby's arse!"

The Quebecer pipes up and says, "Well I am going next! Genie, Iwant a 20-foot wall around the border of Quebec to keep all the damn Englishmen out!"

Genie, "Poof! There's your 20-foot wall. Now Albertan, it is your turn. What do you want?" The Newfie looks at the genie and asks, "Genie, is that wall you just put around Quebec waterproof?"

Genie, "Yep!"

Albertan, "Filler up!"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Robbed With a Bic



One time my friend Wilson and I were walking down the street, one very similar to this one. As we passed the telephone pole, a man stopped us and said, "Give me some money for cigarettes." We told him that we didn't have any. He put his hand in his pocket and told us he had a gun.

I didn't believe him. It looked like the outline of a Bic lighter pressed against the inside of his pocket. It didn't scare me, but now that I think about it, he was pointing it at Wilson. Probably because he was a native speaker. I guess the guy figured I couldn't understand what he was saying. Wilson gave him $0.50 and I pushed on and said, "Let's go" and we walked away.

We were on our way to get our laundry done and so we each had a weeks worth of clothes in bags over our shoulders, and I was in no mood for a scuffle. We continued on our way and I made fun of Wilson, but I guess he didn't really deserve it. I really enjoyed my time with him. We talked a lot and joked around the whole time we were together.

-Gary

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tres Veces

I've been here three times.

The first time was by accident. The 3 people I was traveling with weren't paying attention. I was looking out the window and saw the world's second largest Wal-Mart (at the time) and thought, "I could have sworn we were supposed to get off before we got here, but those three know where they are going." As we were rounding the last bend in the tracks one of the others said, "OH CRAP! That's Constitución!" When the train stopped, we all got off and started walking. "What are we going to do?!?!?!" They said. I suggested that since this was the end of the line, we should just get back on and wait for the train to go back the way it came. Fortunately it actually did go back the way it came without being diverted.

The second time I could have died. I was very sick, the sickest I've ever been in my life, coughing up blood. I couldn't walk more than a few steps without being out of breath. I made a call and told them I was going to the hospital. They said ok, but didn't realize how serious it was at the time. About three stations away, I saw a large group of people running towards the train, and it stayed in the station much longer than usual. When it finally left, it seemed like the train was straining against the weight of the new passengers. When we arrived, and descended from there was loud shouting and cheering behind us. It seems as if the crowd was almost entirely at the back of the train. As we were arriving at the turnstile where you show your ticket to the guards, the head guard blew his whistle and waved his hand in the air. All the guards stepped back towards the wall, we wisely decided to join them. The crowd's spirits were high their team had just won the sub 20 world cup, they were partying. I expected a little trouble, especially as they were passing the station vendors but they just passed by cheering and banging every piece of sheet metal in the place as they went. They didn't have tickets and the guards knew it, but they also knew that it matters less that a couple of hundred partiers pay to ride the train than it matters when they smash the place up. We asked for directions to the hospital and I was relieve to know it was only two blocks away.

The third visit was as a tourist. We were just passing the day seeing the sights without a care. We didn't see much not having a plan, but it was fun.

I'm more excited for this, than I've been in a long time. This trip is bringing up a lot of emotions. I can't wait.

-Gary

Monday, January 21, 2008

A donde vas?

I bought my plane ticket today! I'm so excited. I'm leaving on March 10th and coming back March 29th.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Swish

This is a test shot I did for a series of photos I am going to do for istock. I really like it, but I think the focus needs to be a little better and I want to control the light just a little more.

The flashes are a lot more powerful than I though and light spilled onto the roof and far wall. I was hoping to have a more black background with only the hoop and ball lit up. This one would have been perfect because the ball logo isn't visible.

-Gary

Friday, January 11, 2008

Three Cute Girls

I had a photo shoot at the college on Wednesday. We made 250 photos. I was able to narrow that down to 130, and I uploaded 23 of those to istock.

The models had a good time, which is always nice if you want to work with them again. I got a lot of good learning in, placing the lights is pretty hard to do on the fly, but you get better at it. Considering this is my first time using a pair of speed lights off camera and just putting them on automatic I'm pretty happy with how the pictures turned out.

Personality in a model counts for so much and these girls were great. I had so much fun. Hopefully I can get together with them for another shoot soon. In the next two weeks or so. I have a couple of ideas. Maybe something in the computer lab and watching tv at home.

I just got an email from a friend of mine. He says that his little sister wants to model for me and she can get a group of her friends. I have the idea to do some more school themed photos. Possibly bullying, studying or other school life.

-Gary

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Tree That Owns Itself

The Tree That Owns Itself is a white oak tree, widely assumed to have legal ownership of itself and of all land within eight feet (2.4 m) of its base. The tree is located at the corner of Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Georgia, USA. The original tree fell in 1942; a new tree was grown from one of its acorns and planted in the same location. The current tree is sometimes referred to as the Son of The Tree That Owns Itself. Both trees have appeared in numerous national publications, and the site is a local landmark.

Read about it on Wikipedia.

Snail Mail

I received a text message from Tracie the other day.

She told me that the court papers arrived and that she had been to a justice of the peace to certify that she had received them. She also said that they are now back in the mail to Canada.

Here permanent residency application was approved and she has flown to New Zealand to comply with the restriction that you have to be out of the country for PR to come into effect. She's staying there for about a week.

It's the end of the world as I know it, and I feel fine.

-Gary

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Big Day Tomorrow

January the third marks a big day for me. It marks the end of my year long separation from Tracie. A couple must live apart for one year to be eligible for a no fault divorce in Canada. The couple is allowed to live together for 90 days during that time in an attempt to patch things up. We took our 90 days, but I was told it didn't help, and was sent back here to Canada.

I have obtained a Canadian court order to serve Tracie the divorce papers in Australia and they have been in the mail for the last couple of weeks. When she receives them, she needs to see a notary to prove that she received them and send them back. I hope she has done all that already or at least received the papers. A lot of stuff in Australia seems to shut down for a long time over the holidays. It would great if her stuff was already in the mail.

Then we can begin our actual divorce; It is mostly just paperwork. When the paperwork is completed the judge will set a certain amount of time for Tracie to contest certain points, (not that she will) and then when that period is up, that will be it.

I haven't felt like writing much lately, although I really do enjoy it. Other than that I feel mostly good, and as time passes I'm feeling better and better. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I haven't written because this subject is such a bring down for myself and for the 12 people that read it. All I can do is keep moving forward. Onward and Upward, isn't that what they say?

Hang in there dear readers, there will likely only be two more posts about this stupid divorce, one when we file for it and the other when it becomes final. By then my life will be consumed with funner projects and beyond that my triumphant return to the world of dating.

I've often wondered what it would be like to be transported back in time to my youth with the knowledge that I currently have. Now that it seems like I'm coming the closest I ever will to doing that, I realize that I don't have any more knowledge now than I ever had before.

Oh well.

At least I'll have something fun to write about.

-Gary