Blogography

Watching the Sun Set at the End of the World

I wanted to just write a short post about some of what I’ve been up to lately, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how incredibly much I have actually been up to. From there I thought about some of the things that led to the things I’ve been doing lately, which I guess really started about a year ago. It’s hard to believe how much can change in a year.

I have never really talked about it much, but I used to train in Bak Mei Kung Fu, for about seven or eight years. It was really good for me, I found a strength within me that I never knew I had. It gave me a confidence I had never imagined. But about a year or so ago, I started to feel disconnected from it. I wasn’t feeling as satisfied by the end of class as I used to. I was losing my passion for it.

I felt that what I really wanted to be doing was focusing more of my time and attention on my photography.

It was tearing me up inside, a part of me really didn’t want to quit, but an ever-so-slightly larger part of me knew it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t fair to my Sifu or to my brothers to show up without having my whole heart into it. And I had to do what was right for me.

I left. It was one of the hardest choices I ever had to make. Even to this day, part of me still wants to go back. But that part is still outweighed by too many other factors.

I also changed jobs last year, as mentioned previously on this blog. Long story short, I didn’t realize just how badly my previous job was really sapping my energy and motivation until I left. Even then, it took a bit of time to settle into my new job and come to terms with how much better things are for me in that respect. I have been feeling vastly more energetic and motivated to get out and do things.

Part of that is that I’m an introvert. I’ve always sort of known it, but had never really thought about the implications of it, or how to cope with it. What that means is that I do enjoy being social and being with other people, but being social has a mental and emotional cost for me. Too much interaction with other people requires me to withdraw for a while to recover.

At my old job, I was constantly surrounded by other people. On top of that, it was a stressful environment, which increased the toll of those interactions significantly.

My new job is much simpler. I work with a smaller team, and the overall stress levels within the company are much, much lower. This leaves me with much more energy at the end of each day.

Energy that has enabled me to spend much more time on my photography, and allowed me to hang out, interact, and go shooting with my fellow photographer friends more often.

And that is how I realized that my passion really is in my photography, and that I made the right choices.

That passion and renewed energy helped push me to step up my game. I bought a pair of flash units to help me better my lighting. I started participating in Flickr Friday as a 52-week project with a weekly challenge to help me see and think more creatively. Sure, not everything I’ve shot has been award-winning – some of the results I downright despised. But it has helped keep me shooting, forced me to learn new techniques and skills, and of course to be more creative overall.

I even started doing something I haven’t really done in a long time – I shot an event. The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival, specifically. It wasn’t a paid job, though I was compensated with free tickets, which I gave away to friends. But I actually really had a good time doing it, liked the results, and of course I got to sample beer (and cider, and mead) as an attendee at the same time.

I just wanted to do something outside my normal art and landscape stuff. I wanted to just keep shooting.

I have also been working myself up to doing more work with models – something that has been a big challenge for me, having social anxiety with strangers on top of my introvertedness. Jenn has been fantastic at modelling for me, but I really needed to branch out. So I’ve been attending workshops and building up my repertoire of knowledge (which in turns helps build my confidence).

And wouldn’t you know it, just this week I started shooting with a complete stranger, on my own, for the first time. (More on that in a later post.)

And you know what? I really liked it. We were both really happy with the results, too, but even now I’m thinking of things I would do better and differently next time. And so I want there to be a next time. Many next times.

Looking back on where I was about this time last year, and just how much more I’ve been doing and how much more I want to do, and, well, I can’t believe how much of a difference a year has made for me. I have grown and changed so much, and I feel it has been for the better. I feel much more like the person I want to be.

What’s next? Expect much more from me photographically. There’s so much more I want to do with my craft. I also want to focus more on my social media presence, which means I need to get serious about updating this blog regularly (I think I will also update the theme again soon). I’ve been updating my Facebook page and Google+ more often. And maybe eventually I’ll figure out how to be more engaging on Twitter, too.

In summary, I’m feeling very good these days.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Jun - 13 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Check out my Crated galleryI’ve gone and done something crazy – I’ve started making some of my photos available for ordering prints online, though Crated.com. You’ll notice that I’ve added a link on the sidebar, as well as updated the Buy Prints page with the link as well.

I’ve only started out my gallery with a small selection of some of my favourite and some of my most popular photos, and I will add more over time. If you are interested in a print of one of my photos that isn’t available on Crated, drop me a comment on this post with a link, the title, or a description of the photo you want to get printed, and I’ll see about adding it!

Crated currently ships to anywhere in Canada, the US, and the EU.

Please, take a look at my gallery, don’t be shy. If you like what you see, buy something, and support my crazy habit so I can make more and beautifuler photos!

Posted by Dave Sutherland May - 16 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

#PreciousTreasure

FlickrBlogged, at the top of the post no less!

Precious Treasure

#MyFavouriteMovieScene

A Favourite Movie Scene, a Dream Within a Dream

#DorothysRedShoes

Dorothy's Red...Umm...Uh Oh

#ImOnlyHuman

Also FlickrBlogged!

I'm Only Human

#TheBusStop

The Bus Stop

Posted by Dave Sutherland Mar - 31 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Hi, it’s Jenn, Dave’s wife and sometimes creative director with another foodie project! I’m not sure about the term “foodie”, to be honest, but I am all in favour of infusion, which is what I’ve been up to lately.

It all started when I stumbled on instructions for homemade vanilla extract. I picked up some gourmet-grade Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans from Duchess Provisions (and some delicious baked goods next door) and a bottle of vodka. The process itself is simple: get all the good stuff out with lots of surface area and let the alcohol extract the delicious flavour compounds.

Indian vanilla extract, day 0I started the first bottle on February 8, and I ordered some Indian extract-grade vanilla beans (Vanilla Review explains the two types), which I started steeping on March 15. The bottle sits in the dark and gets a good shake every day for the first month, after which it can sit with the occasional shake. After another few months the bean bits will be filtered out.

Indian vanilla, day 6/Madagascar vanilla, day 40

We dug into the Madagascar vanilla last week and this stuff is awesome! Extract-grade is, as you might expect from the name, better for extracts, so the Indian vanilla should be even better. Things taste that much better when you made them yourself, too…

The next product involved a trip to my parents’, where my mother gave me some beautiful mangoes. Alas, Tommy Atkins mangoes are notoriously stringy, but they’ll make a great mango tequila!

The same concept applies for mango tequila, although I won’t be infusing in the original bottle due to the size of the mango pieces. Starting with concentrated alcohol means undesirable pathogens will be killed off, so I can skip sanitizing my implements.

Mango Tequila stuff

The skins are peeled with a paring knife…

Peeling the Skins

…the flesh is cut from the pits, sliced, and tossed in the jar.

Sliced and Tossed in the Jar
In goes the tequila!

Adding the Tequila

 

 

 

 

 

 

It, too, sits in the cupboard with regular agitation.

Infusing the Tequila

The tequila should only need a month before it can be strained and bottled. It’ll be fantastic on a hot summer day!

Posted by Jenn Fehr Mar - 22 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Remember when we started making mead, back in November?

Bottling the Mead

Well, fermentation in the carboys is done! So it was time to sample and bottle.

Me Sampling the Mead

Not much to say here, except that we were both completely blown away at how good it was! Not just “ok” or “not bad for our first try,” it was fan-freakin’-tastic mead!

Jenn Sampling the Mead

We bottled it all up and put it into storage to age it bit longer. Just have to wait a few more months!

Posted by Dave Sutherland Mar - 9 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Noriko

Noriko

Noriko

Noriko

Noriko

I was invited to attend an informal lighting workshop with a bunch of local photographers who were interested in learning, teaching, or otherwise exchanging and growing their knowledge of studio lighting. The evening started out extremely frustrating for me, as my old 50D utterly refused to sync properly with the strobes. To the point that I was about ready to throw it out the window. (I have had similar problems with my own remotes/strobes, but it didn’t dawn on me at all that there might actually be a problem with my camera until using someone else’s)

Still, I stayed, I observed, listened, and learned what I could pick up. And then, my buddy Ian (the one who invited me to this thing) loaned me his 5D MkII, and not only did it actually work flawlessly with the lights, I managed to snap off a few great shots before we wrapped everything up.

As a result of my frustrations that evening, the next day I went out and bought a 6D (it helped that they were on sale for $1700). Yup, I finally upgraded to a full-frame. Can’t wait to get out and use it…just waiting on memory cards, though.

A big thanks goes out to those who put this together, for everyone who attended, and of course for the incredibly patient model, Noriko.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Mar - 9 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

When we bought our house a few years ago, we knew it would need a bit of work; some major, but mostly little things, or things that could be done over time without rushing. But it is amazing how big of a difference some creativity and about $100 worth of materials can make.

The original planter

The original planter

This planter is a built-in permanent fixture at our front entryway, and with it came the same fake plants you see here – for free! We did try putting some other (real) plants here, but we get so little light in this area that plants just didn’t do well here at all. We knew we wanted to do something different with this space for some time, and hit upon an idea while browsing Ikea.

The materials

The materials

We bought two bunches of decorative willow sticks (SMYCKA) and some bouquets made from dried palm leaves and bamboo shaped like flowers (TORKA) from Ikea, some styrofoam sheets and a bucket from Home Depot, and some rainbow aquarium gravel from Big Al’s, and set to work.

Digging out the old

Digging out the old

The first task was obviously to remove the existing gravel and dirt. We sifted as much of the old gravel out as possible, as we decided to reuse it for the new setup. We found out that they apparently must have had real plants in the planter at one time, as we found dried up bits of prickly pear cactus while digging (in fact, I found them quickly while sifting through there with my bare hands). We also found rusty screws, chunks of concrete, and larger gravel and stones throughout the bottom.

Fitting the foam

Fitting the foam

The next step was measuring the inside of the planter, and cutting the styrofoam sheets to fit. This was pretty easy with a bit of math and a utility knife, though we did the cutting out in the garage to avoid getting foam bits everywhere. Once cut, we laid the foam boards in layers, and filled any remaining gaps with scraps (so as not to be wasting gravel in them).

A little surprise for anyone if this ever gets dug up again

A little surprise for anyone if this ever gets dug up again

Marking and planting the flowers

Marking and planting the flowers

The planted flowers

The planted flowers

After that, we marked out approximately where each of the TORKA flowers would be planted. We used a screwdriver to create holes for each stem and pushed them in so that they fit snugly. We then trimmed a handful of the SMYCKA sticks to the approximate height of the flowers and installed them in between and around them as a buffer, using the screwdriver to prep holes for each.

Sticks, sticks, sticks

Sticks, sticks, sticks

Once that was built up, we trimmed more to taller heights to fill in the back and edges. We started out by planting more sparsely than we knew we would want and then filled in with more density as we went.

Rainbow gravel

Rainbow gravel

Lastly, once we were happy with the “plantings”, we filled the bottom with gravel. We used the reclaimed gravel from the original planter first, and then laid the aquarium gravel over top, and spread it evenly over the surface.

The end result?

IMG_8249

A “designer” entry showpiece that looks great and only cost us about $100 in materials.

The bonus? Our chinchillas love chewing on the leftover willow sticks, as well as the seagrass twine that came wrapped around it (unfortunately I don’t have a photo of them enjoying these treats).

Next project coming up: Redoing the basement bathroom…

Posted by Dave Sutherland Mar - 6 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Edmonton Neon Museum

The “Hobos” (our little informal photography club) gathered in spite of the cold to witness the official light-up of Edmonton’s new Neon Sign Museum, an outdoor attraction featuring some historical neon signs from businesses and buildings of the city’s past.

Edmonton Neon Museum

The signs were collected and restored by volunteers, and TELUS generously donated the space on the side of their bunker of a brick building on 104 St. and 104 Ave. (where the 4th Street Promenade will meet the new Arena soon).

Edmonton Neon Museum

The result looks and feels even more fantastic than I could have imagined, and very quickly brought much welcomed light and interest to this currently somewhat barren part of downtown Edmonton.

Edmonton Neon Museum

Original Hobosters

Bonus shot of Hugh and Darren, two fellow Hobos, having a smoke after an evening shooting in the frigid climate.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 22 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Jenn Noir

Jenn offered to model for me while I had my backdrop and AlienBees set up in the basement. The hat and coat made for a nice “film noir” styling and treatment, I think.

Still figuring out lighting techniques and posing, I learn a little bit more every time.

Jenn Noir

Jenn Noir

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 19 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

#SomethingGoldSomethingBlue

Strangely, this one made the Portuguese version of the Flickr Blog, but none of the others…

Gold/Blue

#GettingCloser

Uh-oh, He's Getting Closer...

#TheSCurve

This one made the Flickr Blog!

The S Curve of Alberta

#AnObjectsPointOfView

A Wooden Spoon's Point of View

#LoveIsInTheAir

Love is in the Air...

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 15 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

A Wooden Spoon's Point of View

“A wooden spoon compels even the strangest of ingredients to get their acts together.” – Amish Proverb

I’ve long held that the most beloved tool in your kitchen should be a good, solid wooden spoon. You must keep it for as many years as it will allow, and use it for as many recipes as you can.

Every aroma, every flavour and every colour must be allowed to imbue itself into the wood, and you must never, ever try to remove them. They must be allowed to become part of the spoon’s personality.

Because that personality will then imbue itself into everything you cook from that time forward. You must allow the personality of the spoon to subtly alter the aroma, the flavour, and the colour of your dish, making each recipe you prepare slightly more unique, even from the last time you made it.

It was my goal with this image to show the personality of this humble wooden spoon as it prepares the awesome flavours of this Thai green curry. It has cracks and splinters and the head is darkened with the stains of countless meals it has prepared over the nearly twelve years I have owned it. And it is still my favourite utensil, the first thing I grab when preparing to start my next dish.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Feb - 10 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography

Uh-oh, He's Getting Closer...

Much like his namesake, he doesn’t say much, but he is very friendly. He’s an Amelanistic corn snake that we bought at the Edmonton Reptile Expo last fall. We weren’t actually planning on buying a snake, but he was just so cute and so pretty, we knew we had to have him.

The Taciturn Mr. Homn

The Taciturn Mr. Homn

The Taciturn Mr. Homn

Posted by Dave Sutherland Jan - 28 - 2014 0 Comments Categories: Blogography