Previous month:
June 2009
Next month:
August 2009

House of Paint - 2009

Yet another successful HoP - big ups to Sabra and all the rest of the volunteers. Seems every year we add a few more features, but we still manage to keep that community feeling.

We had about 50 graffiti artists, so added more scaffolding this year. Ended up with three levels on the main wall, two on the south wall.  Stage for the bboy/bgirl was larger, with bleachers added to two sides. Red Bull provided a sound truck, that was boosted by some amps and speakers from Timekode.

It was good to see a lot of artists there from previous years, and to hear appreciation of the work I've been doing to promote graffiti art, especially as part of a mural program. It's nice when a teenager comes up to me, asks if I'm Ravensview,then  thanks me for our mural work, and even expresses interest in joining Keepsix. Some are worried they aren't good enough, I explain it's not just a group for the top writers in Ottawa, it's also a way for aspiring artists to focus more on this and develop their skills. We try to mix up the artist levels on large mirals, just for that reason.

I've a lot of photos from the day, will get them up in Flickr over the next few days and add a link here.

 Lots of time for editing lately, with all this rain. We're hoping to get the Ravine Wall mural finished out here in Orleans, then it's on to one for behind Boushey's on Elgin. And then on to others - a few  contact us and then suddenly drop all interest, not sure why, but many stick with us And they then  really like the work we do, think the rate is fair, and compliment the artists on not just their skill but their pleasant demeanor. And pass on the word to others - we rely on not just our site and positive articles in the media, but also referrals by reputation and word of mouth.

Bluesfest 2009 - camera tips

After missing a couple of years, I went to this years Bluesfest, as a photographer for Soundproof magazine. I worked with two local writers, we managed to cover about 15 bands. I took photos of another 30 groups on my own. Soundproof magazine has almost all our reviews and photos online, and  will be adding some of my extra pics to the web page's scrapbook area. Also, have added to my Flickr page as a set.

I had a lot of fun at Bluesfest, going there eight days out of the twelve. I had a conference in the middle that I had to help organize and do a presentation for, so I got a bit of a break.  All my photos for scheduled events went in to the magazine the next day, so I wouldn't fall behind and so they could stay current online. I had maybe 40-60 to choose from for each show, I sorted and deleted and edited - all in PE7, then sent in my  best five from each one. I used my new D90 with the 18-200 VR lens, a combo selected for better concert work, especially in low light. The first few days I capped the auto ISO at 800 and used shutter priority at 1/40. Aperture was usually at f3.5. Pictures were OK, but I got face blur in some, as the VR compensates for minor jitters only. Next time I let the ISO go up a stop to 1600, and the speed down a stop to 1/80 -same overall sensitivity but th shots were generally sharper. D90 noise is fine at 1600, it doesn't really ramp up until after 3200. I'll try that setting later. Another handy feature was LiveView, in which the back display can be set to show the view through the lens, as in a point and shoot camera. That came in handy, especially when standing in front of the 6 foot main stage, as I was able to hold the camera overhead and get a couple of feet of height when shooting a group. I used manual focus also, as the LiveView focusing is slow. Exposure metering was centre-weighted, no time to spot meter and go manual, with the lights constantly changed colours and intensity. Dynamic full screen metering got fooled by spots shining from the back, so I gave up on that. White balance was on auto, and it managed OK.

I managed to usually find a good spot before the act began, so didn't have to gallop back and forth much with the herd. I found that small hip hop acts like Ludicris or Buusta Rhymes were so active that I just stayed put usually, and let them come to me. The only difficulty was in getting wide angle shots of a band, I didn't bring my 10-20mm Sigma - no time to swap lenses. And my D70 body is too slow for good night work at a concert. Many photographers went 10-20 feet up the passageway back to the sound tent, and shot the stage from there, a good strategy except for the fact that everyone was doing it so kept getting in each other way. In our crowd, I found that some photographers were courteous, some pushy. Oh well. I made sure to be nice - especially to security. My pass also got me access to the Empire Grill area, a wedge shaped section pointing to the stage, with chairs, no bathroom lines, and often a fairly clear and close shot of the stage. That's where I got some "wide angle" band shots, after leaving the pit.

Continue reading "Bluesfest 2009 - camera tips" »

Last post - and a mural

No - not for good, just hopefully the last on this annoying Mr. X.

I'd posted before on this person. I'd also sent him an email assuring him our aim is not to support vandalism, and asking him to meet face to face. I also pointed out I'd been copying in here his emails to various customers - forwarded to me by them for comment, as well as forwarded to each other. And added I've also included my responses and those of support from many others of what we are trying to do with our program. I also asked him to meet with me to discuss further.

His response was to worry about me publishing private emails - these were not one-on-one communications, these were emails he had sent to dozens of people, who in turn forwarded them to many others.  He referred me to the website of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Not sure why, as it has a caution about email that he doesn't seem to have read himself:

Most of us have strong expectations of privacy when sending email, but the reality is that sending an email message is like sending a postcard. |t is not technically difficult for a copy to be made in transmission. And once you send an email, you have lost control over it and its contents. In this world of electronic networks and instantaneous communications, your “personal” message can be forwarded to a public forum for the entire world see with the click of a mouse.

He does ask that I express his views in my own words, rather than quoting him directly - and accurately. You'd think he'd prefer the latter. Maybe he's worried I might repeat his specific accusations against named individuals and open him to accusations of slander. He did question my ethics - a strange accusation considering the slanderous contents of his emails and his underhanded approach of contacting almost everyone in Ottawa except me and Keepsix. He doesn't realize that the real issue is not whether his emails - sent to dozens, are in fact private communications. The real issue is that he has slandered not just our group Keepsix but also the names and reputations of these young artists, and likely hindered their business prospects. Some of them are considering legal action, based on what they have seen in his emails that others have forwarded to them - I don't blame them. People often consider youth as powerless and an easy target - not a nice attitude and not accurate. They can fight back - as was shown last year when a Toronto photographer tried to take advantage of some young graffiti artists. See my post Graffiti and Copyright.

Continue reading "Last post - and a mural" »

Graffiti murals - a positive spin

As I'd mentiond in this other post, we - keepsix collective - have indirectly received a number of complaints about our approach we use to help combat vandalism, build stronger social communities, beautify neighbourhoods, and involve youth in the solution -providing them with alternatives and ways to change their habits. There have been accusations about our artists, assumptions about thir aims and ours, whether this kind of program works. They are all from one person, whom I'll refer to as Mr. X - he's never contacted any of our groups directly, instead preferring to spread his ideas behind the scenes to any of our customers. With little effect, we are hoping, as we have already explained our concept to them and they are already supportive of it, or at least willing to see how it can help. Not sure what the effect has been on getting new customers though.

There has been a lot of discussion on this, so I've split our "sides" (if we need to call it that). I've put Mr. X's accusations into the post Artists or Vandals. And in this post here, Graffiti murals, I've put the positive spin, where I describe our approach, along with some responses that have been sent to customers regarding Mr. X, and support from various groups we work with.

I see these constant emails as an opportunity to respond and promote our positive ideas to more people. The unfortunate thing is they not only discourage new customers, they also take away time we could be spending working on a positive and proven alternative - we are not content to just sit and complain, we belive in being agents of change.

As always - comments welcome from all, I just ask that you be respectful in them and that you be open and say who you really are.

Continue reading "Graffiti murals - a positive spin" »