Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Introducing: Fuji Natura Classica

Ladies and Gents! Please allow me the opportunity to introduce you to the newest camera in the Small Time Visionary stable; the Fuji Natura Classica!

Oh damn that's a sexy ass lookin' camera!

This baby was a birthday gift from my girlfriend and she went through so much hell to get this amazing little camera for me. First of all, this model is a Japan Only model, meaning you can only get this camera specially ordered from Japan. Secondly, Lomography managed to have the camera in stock for special order... only if you're ordering from outside of North America. Somehow, Chloe found a way to "hack" the website and make an order from the General European Store site. But when a month passed with no word from Lomo, we figured something was wrong. Sure enough, the order wasn't put through. After a few calls with the Brooklyn office and enduring the poor customer service of the Customer Service Rep., the camera order was remade and the camera was received in 2 weeks, after flying to random states like Kansas and Memphis according to UPS Tracker. But I knew from all of my research that the camera was totally worth it!

Dang! Wish I knew where to find this package!

Before I got into the D-SLR game, I was playing around with cheap 35mm cameras, like the Lomography Fisheye Camera or Disposable Cameras. While nothing beats the abilities of a D-SLR, it's nice to shoot with a point and shoot every now and again. Digital point and shoots don't really do it for me, and although film is expensive and not nearly as convenient as digital, it's fun and different! So the hunt was on, and after cruising numerous forums I came across the Fuji Natura Classica. What makes the Classica stand out is that it is specifically developed to work with Fuji Natura films which start at ISO 1600. What does that mean? Well, the film is super fast and picks up more light then the average point and shoot 35mm camera. This means that you can shoot with this camera and any film < ISO 800 without the use of a flash. When a film of at least ISO 800 is loaded, the camera enters "natural photo" mode. This means the camera is using the natural light to create sharp, detailed photos. That's right, this baby loves shooting in the shade, indoors, or at night during moments that you normally wouldn't dare shoot in. This thing eats up available light like it's going out of style!

Sample shot © Fuji Natura Microsite @ Lomography

Now, I've had this puppy for nearly 2 months now and have shot about 5 rolls to learn what I can about shooting with it. Did I mention that the instruction manual was entirely in Japanese?! But this camera is great. The lens is super sharp. It's pretty easy to understand the functions, for the most part. It's very light and fairly small, making it a breeze to carry around. It's ninja silent. And all you gotta do is point and shoot! You don't have to meter for the light, adjust your white balance or set your aperture. It allows you to be in the moment and freestyle without any thought! It's so much fun shooting with this camera because every shot is a surprise! You never know how they will turn out. I'm quite the film waster now a days, even though a roll of colour negative Fuji Natura 1600 or Ilford Delta Professional 3200 B&W film average about $10 a roll; not including development or prints! I can't help it though, it's so much fun!

Sample shot © Fuji Natura Microsite @ Lomography

You might notice that there is a bit of noise and grain in the sample photos above. For most digital shooters, these characteristics are huge no no. But for me, and other Natura addicts, the grain and noise add nostalgia and personality to the photos. It's just another fun aspect of this camera which I love!

Sample shot © Fuji Natura Microsite @ Lomography

Unfortunately, I don't have any of my own examples to post. I will get on that soon, I just have to get to work on my Mom's scanner. Hope this post peaked your interest though and that you're looking forward to my own examples from this pint-sized savage. Keep posted!



Monday, February 22, 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island

In order to add more content to the blog I have recently decided that I will start writing movie reviews. I mean, I watch enough movies so I might as well start writing about them. I can't say that I know everything there is about movies but I'm definitely learning. I don't just watch movies, I study them. I study the shot compositions, effective use of visual effects, lighting, and I even listen for how the soundtrack will enhance a scene, among other technicalities. So, as practice for my writing and critiquing skills, I present you my first movie review of the film Shutter Island.

I don't normally watch movies on their opening weekend but I decided to make an exception for Shutter Island. There hasn't been much worth seeing in the theatres as of late, unless you count the yearly congregation of Valentine's Day Rom-Coms. No disrespect to Rom-Com lovers; I can tolerate a cliched love story every now and again. It just seems that Shutter Island came just at the right time when cinema was lacking in terror and gore.

Shutter Island is the latest offer from the legendary director Martin Scorsese who is best known for his gangster films Goodfellas and Casino or the period epics The Aviator and Gangs of New York. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio in what is the fourth film that the pair have done together. DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, A U.S. Marshall who is dispatched to investigate the disappearance of an psychotic at a mental hospital for the criminally insane located on a hostile island in Massachusetts. Daniels immediately notices that the hospital resembles a maximum security prison similar to Alcatraz and grows suspicious with the administration and patients of the hospital. Daniels served in the Second World War where memories of storming Nazi concentration camps still haunt him. There he witnessed terrible experiments done against humans, and now he gets the impression that the same experiments are being done on Shutter Island. Not willing to give up on his suspicions and fueled by the knowledge that his wife's killer is in the complex, Daniels finds himself trusting no one in a life or death race for the truth.

I found Shutter Island to be a fantastic thriller/suspense drama and the best release so far of a rather lackluster 2010. I am quite familiar with Scorsese's previous works and this film is a departure from what we can expect from him. Scorsese has a knack for getting the audience to sympathize and feel for his main characters on an emotional level, evident in his previous films Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. This film, however, places the audience into the psyche of the main character.

Using old psychological themes that have been used in many films, Scorsese manages to present these themes in a highly stylized method that pulls the viewer into the psychological state of the main character better then any other psycho thriller I have seen as of late. We feel Teddy Daniels' sense of paranoia and the mental torment that the hospital and it's inhabitants place on him. Put simply, Shutter Island is a character study of the abnormalities in the perception and expression of reality; what is real, and what is not for one individual may not be for another.

One of my favorite parts of the film were the dream sequences as they were done so well that they truly capture the frantic changes in reality often associated with dreaming. The techniques used in creating the dream scenes were on point, as Scorsese masterfully used down lighting, quick cuts and a variety of camera angles. At times the audience would catch a few quick frames of something out of ordinary on screen, causing them to look to their neighbours in assurance that they didn't just imagine it. The soundtrack was brilliant as usual for a Scorsese film. Normally suited to using horns or classical music, Scorsese opted for strings. String instruments have been used to evoke fear as far back as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho or Spielberg's Jaws and Scorsese further proved from the start of his film that strings equal enough suspense to make certain 25 year old men cover their eyes in terror.

The downside to the film is that it was a little obvious closer to the end. One can only endure so many bait and switches before they start to catch on to the pattern, making them harder to fool. However, the conclusion made up for this by leaving the audience guessing and interpreting how the story should end themselves. DiCaprio was great as usual; I'm quite the fan and that's all I really have to say about that. The movie rated fairly mediocre, receiving mainly positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. For some, this was too much of a departure from what we expect from Scorsese. I for one believe that the film presented a challenge for the master director and he took it on and presented a great product that stands alone in the genre.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reading Week Update pt.II

More photos from the University Campus taken back in March 2009.

"That 70's Urinal"

"Really Really Fast Food"


"Bike Root Scraps"

"Campus Moonrise"


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reading Week Update pt.I

Sorry for the lack of an update, ladies and gents. I'm going through another one of those phases where I'm not really inspired to shoot. I have been reviewing a lot of my old shots though and have been finalizing them; adding that little stv touch to many of them! I came across this series of shots that I took on the University of Calgary Campus back in the early fall of 2008. Since it is reading week and most students are sick of school already (myself included), I figured it would be appropriate to post photos that I have taken throughout the campus over the past year and some. So crack open your textbooks, brew up a pot of coffee and grab a highlighter; let stv take you to school. LOL, lame! Enjoy!

"Irony's Anti-Smoking Ad"

"Staircase of Knowledge"

"Soapboxing Stencilist"

"Parkinglot Pimpin'"


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Attempting Ansel

Have you ever heard of Ansel Adams? You should have. He is a world famous American Photographer and Environmentalist who is best known for his Black and White photographs of the American West and Yosemite National Park in California. Adams was drawn to nature at a very young age and joined the Yosemite Sierra Club, where he would hike, climb and explore with a camera in hand from 1916 all the way to his death at the age of 82. Adams elevated photography to monumental heights by creating beautiful photographs of vast landscapes. His photos take on an almost dream-like quality that are characterized by incredible sharpness and depth. Most people have seen at least one Ansel Adams photograph in their life, as his shots have been widely reproduced and utilized in posters and calenders around the world. Adams believed in the possibility that human kind could live in harmony with the environment. His larger than life images show just how magnificent the natural world is; at times evoking feelings of insignificance and tranquility in comparison to the supremacy of nature. Ansel Adams is a major influence not just in my art but also in my life, and hopefully he can be one in yours too.

"Road-Nevada Desert"


"Mt. Mckinley"

Click the jump to check out more Ansel Adams photographs on Google Images

Taking the inspiration that I have recieved by Adams, I reviewed some photos that were taken during a vacation to Fairmont, British Columbia and decided to make them black and white. It is not simple to replicate the look and feel of black and white film but here is my attempt at contemporary digital impressions on Ansel Adams' work. A shoutout goes to Luke for taking the first photo while I was driving through the Kootenay Mountains. Remember to love your Mother! Enjoy.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Perfect Sunday: pt. II

Click the jump to check out more in the photo stream

Thanks for checking out my photos. I hope you loved them!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Perfect Sunday: pt. I

I can't tell you how much I appreciate my Sunday's. For the last few years, my Sunday's were spent playing basketball with the Unicorns but since we took the year off as a sort of sabbatical I've found that I can use my Sunday's to unwind for a change or do other things that are important to me.

Last Sunday, Chloe and I spent the day taking a nice scenic walk around the S.W. of Calgary. We started on Sandy Beach, headed to the Glenmore Reservoir and then to Shaganappi Golf Course. We did some exploring and we each saw some new things in our city that we haven't seen yet or have wondered how to see up close. Calgary is full of surprises and it was great to make some new discoveries even in a city that I have lived in my whole life. Spending the day to take photos during what was a fairly grey and gloomy day was a tremendous challenge but a very helpful exercise to help get through the winter time blues. Enjoy!

Come back tomorrow to see the second and last part of the series!