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.


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.


Friday, March 21, 2008


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.