Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Counting in Hours

Just over 23 hours until I take off for sin city. Add about 5 hours to that for arrival. I'm getting a wee bit excited.

Not a whole whack to add to yesterday's post.  Plans remain the same, although dining companions at Jaleo have changed a bit, and a couple of you have shown interest in Wicked Spoon brunch buffet (Friday? Saturday pre-tourney? Sunday recovery?)

But I did something last night that I don't think I've ever done before. Pre-packed. Yup, all packed up except for the stuff I still need to use.  At this rate I'll be sitting on my suitcase waiting for my ride hours before it's scheduled to show up.  Man, I wish I had a TARDIS.

See a bunch of you this weekend!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1.5 Sleeps

I've been travelling all my life. With dad working for the airlines, and mom teaching geography, it meant a lot of plane rides. This also meant a lot of packing, a lot of early mornings, and a lot of time spent waiting around the gates to see if we would get on the flight with employee passes, or try again later.

Of course, over the last decade or so, most of my travel has been for myself. Among those trips have been 8 to Las Vegas. Thursday will be #9.

And every single one is tinged with excitement. Also, rushing the night before to get my shit together. US cash, passport, clothes, bounties, toothpaste, etc.. It hasn't always gone smoothly.  Two years back I left my whole bankroll, bounties, passport, and casino cards sitting in my nightstand as I rushed out the door to make my flight. Luckily, I realized it as I was standing on the subway platform across the street from my place and was able to retrieve cash and passport, but the rest stayed behind. Which was fine since I didn't need the bounties anyway that year.

So I expect a full sleep tonight, and maybe half of one tomorrow as I pack, prepare, and procrastinate before waking up at 5:30am to make my 9:30 flight.

I'll make up the rest on the way over, and then deprive myself of sleep for the next 4 days.

I fully expect the usual tune to run through my head as the bright light city draws into view.

Staying at the Aria, hoping to swing a photo-worthy view. Then I'm thinking I need a practice run before Saturday, so I'll probably drop my bags off and then head downstairs for the Aria 1pm tourney.  Same buy-in and structure as the WPBT, and I'm crazy rusty.  I figure it's $125 flushed in the name of warming up the poker instincts. Dinner at Jaleo with good company (still 2 seats up for grabs at 6pm if anyone wants in), and then a castle will be stormed.

Friday has some dead neon in it, more dinner, and then some sort of reckless gambling I'm sure.

Saturday I plan to win a tournament, with Team Bedrock (yours truly, Summers, and BrainMC. Hey, you dyslexically steal our name, we'll straight up abscond with yours) finishing 1-2-3, and then play it by ear from there, although there are rumblings involving arcade games that I suck at...

Sunday - ummm.. wake up? Eat? Find people cheering their sportsball game in a large room? Cheer for insane friends who have decided to run down a street in the middle of a desert? And then go home.

I think the only thing on my "want to do" list that isn't covered in here somewhere is grabbing some breakfast buffet at Wicked Spoon at the Cosmo.  I mean, what's Vegas without at least one breakfast buffet to fuel your whole day? Who's in?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tightening Up

Same shot as previous post, whole new crop.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Getting There

I have a couple weeks still, but I wanted to get this test shot off quickly and see if this idea would even work. There are definitely things to be improved.

Getting There 

I think the hole cards need to be moved over a bit, and I might consider coming down to an even lower angle to the table.  The glare on the chips is bothersome, but might be somewhat unavoidable without drastically changing how I want this lit.  I also think some space needs to be put between the hole cards, the pot, and the board - perhaps both from pushing everything back and coming in closer with a wider angle.  Still, I think the shot can be made to work with a bit of effort.

What do you think?  Chances are good the final product will end up as my bounty for the WPBT.  If I don't get it finished before I leave, then I'll just have to send it to my nemesis. My nemesis of course being whoever dares knock me out. So, if you want a bounty you like, I suggest throwing some criticism my way.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Like many of the bloggers listed over to the left, what posts I put up of late have had little to do with poker.  This one shall marginally rectify that. Key word: "marginally".

What I have been putting up here are photos. Why? Because that's what takes up a decent chunk of my leisure time these days - you know, where poker used to fit.

Anyway, for one course's final assignment, we have to create a portfolio of work concerning a central theme. The concept can be as broad as we like if I understand correctly, but there needs to be some cohesion between the pictures, shot in our own particular style.

I have chosen "poker night" as my theme.

No, no pictures yet. I just decided on the idea a couple days ago.  For you see, this whole semester has seemed to focus on vice in my work.  Quite unintentionally I assure you. Craps with RPG dice, a beer ad, martini glasses filled with liquids of various colours.  Vice.  The fact that I'll be in Vegas smack dab in the middle of this assignment wasn't lost on me either. But I'm not about to cart studio lighting to Nevada so I can get a shot of a bra on an Aria doorknob with a sultry leg disappearing behind the door. I can do that with a regular flash.

So poker night it is. Having been to and hosted a few in my time, I think I have a handle on the required elements.  Chips, felt, cards, button, drinks, chips, money... but no people, I dislike portraiture. The basics are easy. It's the story that becomes tricky.

Do I just present different angles of the setup? Chips with cards in the foreground, a half-drank beer next to a solitary chip, a stack of $20's behind a larger stack of reds? Do I show the night progressing by dwindling and growing stacks and emptying drinks? Or does a more sinister tale get told? A stack growing larger, a third ace slipping on the table, chairs then overturned with a red smear across the ace of spades and the smoking muzzle of a gun just in the frame?

Or is the gun too much?

However I figure it out, this should be a fun project.  Likely a real pain in the ass lighting-wise, but fun nonetheless

Monday, November 21, 2011


Ten days until Vegas touchdown. It feels like longer, but I'm sure it will fly by.

I get in Thursday morning, and am taking the red-eye out Sunday, which should be just enough time to lament not having enough time, but that's the earliest and latest I can do it.

If memory serves, Thursday night should involve storming the castle at The Excalibur, Friday is a trip to the Neon Boneyard and mixed games at the Aria, Saturday is the tournament at noon, and Sunday some insane people are running a 1/2 marathon down the strip, screwing up traffic for those of us who have to head home later.

There's plenty of space in there for other stuff, which will probably be food, drinks, and gambling.

Speaking of - I feel like I should be booking a meal Thursday or Saturday night.  Who's in? I'm thinking something like Sage, or Jaleo... I'd go with é, but I think I'm far too late to the game to get a res.  But then, I'm returning in January, so I'll do it then.

Now to get back to figuring out a team name for last longer... Bam-Bam went and took our choice for Team ABC, although I have no idea why as Astin, Brain MC, and Clareified makes much more sense for that name.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Triptych in Four Parts

"Your next assignment is a triptych of 3-5 pictures."

Wouldn't that be a triptych, quadtych, or quintych? Whatever.

"It has to tell a story, not necessarily narrative though."

"No problemo boss."

So off I wander to my least favourite renovation in my fair city. The Royal Ontario Museum. The Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin "Crystal" is a monstrosity that was slammed into a rather nice, if dull, classic museum. I'm not against radical change, I am against ugly radical change. Also, it's nothing like it was originally proposed. It was supposed to be mostly clear glass, which is idiotic for a museum. But then, whoa, that didn't work at all for any number of reasons someone who knows what a building is could point out and it became a mess of aluminum, and an eyesore.  Of course, ol' Daniel then used the same design a few times since. Just look the City Center Mall in Vegas for the ROM's twin.  /rant

Still, it makes for interesting photos. Also, from the right angle it resembles the Jawa transport crawler from Star Wars. Hence the occasionally light sabre battles that take place in front.

The idea behind the series is to show the transition from what was to what is.

The largely unadulterated Queen's Park side.

Coming around the corner onto Bloor, we see how elegantly the metal iceberg crashed into the nice old museum.

Yup, same building as the first one. You should see the all-white interior that is largely unusable for display space due to the angled walls.

Oops! Someone left some of the old building sticking out over here.

I've actually gotten somewhat used to this building now.  But I still don't like it. Even more so after it was re-made elsewhere, so it's not even uniquely ugly.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's That Called Again?

The other day I ordered up a bunch of lighting gear from Paul C. Buff - aka, the AlienBees company. (Which might register as recognizable to maybe 3 of you).  Among that gear were a couple umbrellas and covers that turn them into giant softboxes. But one of those covers was the wrong size.

So I e-mailed the company and let them know that they had mistakenly sent me an 86" cover instead of a 64" one.  Shortly after their business opened for the day I received a reply essentially saying, "Sorry we messed up. The right one's on the way. Don't worry about returning the other one."

I'm confused by this. An incredibly prompt response correcting the situation perfectly in a polite and straightforward manner? What's that called? Custard serving? Costumer justice? Oh wait... customer service! It's nice to see that the rumours of them being easy to work with are true.

It takes some sting out of the fact that I didn't think through why a real softbox would be helpful for my current shoot, which kind of screwed up my plans last night. But that's also on the way to being fixed via good ol' spending more money on stuff.

Friday, November 04, 2011


"You guys are going to pull your hair out and hate this next one."

So said the teacher about our current assignment - photograph something transparent or reflective.  I immediately had my idea, and spent about 5 minutes looking at examples of how to shoot glass to get an idea of how to work this. What I read confirmed my initial instinct to the setup - lots of soft light, not much space.

So I picked up a roll of white paper and some clamps. Dropped some food colouring into jars of water, and packed it all up with a whack of other equipment and martini glasses and went to class.

About 1/4 of the way there, I decided without doubt that I was ordering my own damned lighting setup.

For week one, I'm happy with the results. But there was a pesky refraction of the back corners of my setup in the glasses.  That explains the black in nearly every shot.. Sadly, my setup was such that I'd need a step ladder and more time than was available to fix the problem. Luckily, I have a second week to reshoot, with my own equipment this time, which I fear might have a major shortcoming for this project.  But then, that's what fast shipping or local camera stores are for.

I can't necessarily say that the class itself taught me anything, but it kicked my ass into learning on my own and actually shooting something different to me. And hey, having the teacher wander the class, see your area, declare it "the genius corner", and say you seem to know what you're doing is always good, right?

Here are a couple examples. The full set can be found over here. I'll be adding to it as I go.

Lined Up



Long Drop

Ready For Deployment

I like this last one so much, it's now my phone background.