Christmas On Bloor Street

"Ok pretend you're not cold. No no, I said NOT cold."

-Sean

 
 

Last year in December I somehow persuaded my lovely (and patient) girlfriend to stand outside at night along Bloor street so that I could practice some nighttime photography with varying light sources. It was a magical evening during which all four of our hands froze and I ended up paying for modelling time with a steak dinner. Totally worth it!

Both Bloor street and Yorkville were lit up quite nicely for the holidays and we took full advantage. It was a great exercise in low light shooting which gave us some gorgeous photos amidst some bizarre lighting circumstances. 

One large tree in particular was strung with lights that simply refused to play nice with the camera. Some sort of confluence of shutter speed and the refresh rate of the lights (which wasn't at all visible to the naked eye) caused large portions to darken dramatically as seen in the photos below.

Despite the difficulties we managed to snap some great shots that really captured the moment and spirit of the evening.

All in all it was a great experience and I can't wait to find a similar shooting location for this year. Do I hear Distillery District? 

It's beginning to look a lot like guinness

What's better than celebrating Christmas with delicious food? Documenting said food and blogging about it. 

 

Well it's that time of year once again. Halloween is long gone and on November 1st at midnight the switch was thrown to start up the Great Christmas Machine. You'll be hard-pressed to find a retail store, restaurant or dog sweater that hasn't started making some concessions to the season. All of this is perfectly fine with me as long as I get some eggnog (the full-fat gourmet kind, I mean if you're going to do it you may as well go all the way) and perhaps some pumpkin pie. 

I'm not much for parades or lights, but one thing I absolutely adore about the holiday season is the food. Christmas is the perfect time to get together with friends and family, enjoy a nice meal and a dark stout, and it seems to bring out the foodie in everyone.

Last year I had the pleasure of attending a number of Christmas get-togethers, but perhaps my favourite was an intimate gathering at the home of my brother, Colin, and his girlfriend Tara. Along with the lovely Vanessa and a couple other close friends it was everything I look for in a holiday bash. Good food, craft beer, some moderately attractive people and Christmas jazz.

There are few things I love more in this world than listening to Christmas jazz. Oscar Peterson, Vince Guaraldi, Ray Brown Trio to name a few. These are albums that I look forward to hearing all year long and they hold a special place in my heart. Any time I have the chance to recommend a good playlist for the holidays these are my go-to answers.

Christmas always offers a great opportunity for lively and entertaining photos. On this occasion I found it difficult to stop eating long enough to pick up the camera, but still managed to snap a few shots of the evening.

We even managed to set up a few decorations to really get into the holiday spirit.

And of course more food, including the guest of honour.

 

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to another Christmas season for a variety of reasons. The people, the food, the music, the festive spirit, and most of all a way to forget about the ungodly weather that plagues Toronto in December. At least until it's time to head home at the end of the night. 

Mackenzie Longpre Group @ Burdock Music Hall

Mack. Burdock. Awesome.

 

My first visit to Burdock Music Hall did not disappoint. Bar/lounge on one side and beautifully appointed live venue on the other side; this place made me smile as soon as I walked in. 

 
 Mackenzie Longpre Group

Mackenzie Longpre Group

 

It's hard not to judge every venue from the perspective of a sound engineer. Usually my first thought is "Where can I sit so that I won't go deaf from all the reflections in this place..."

I was pleased to see that the walls lining the performance side of Burdock were actually wood panels with protruding shelves all the way to the ceiling. These not only provide patrons with a spot to rest their drinks, but also add sound diffusion that helps tone down the nasty frequency build-up that is so prevalent at most live venues. 

This was particularly helpful as I spent most of the night at the foot of the stage taking photos. A terrific lighting system made for some very moody moments. 

 Tara Kannangara

Tara Kannangara

 Mark Godfrey

Mark Godfrey

 Allison Au

Allison Au

It's always a pleasure getting to work with artists in multiple capacities. The E.P. that was being released that evening is titled a failed entertainment and I had the privilege of working with Mack and the rest of group for the recording and mixing process. Have a listen to the end result here

As usual these guys and gals absolutely killed it. Syncopated horn lines, dazzling keys and ripping solos all backed by the driving, frenetic timekeeping of Mack himself. This show was incredibly engaging start to finish and I was thrilled to take photos on the same night that the E.P. I produced was being released.

 Mackenzie Longpre

Mackenzie Longpre

 Chris Pruden

Chris Pruden

I'm definitely looking forward to watching more shows at Burdock. A quick look at the engineer's booth in the middle of the hall will tell you that they put some serious thought into making the best possible listening environment (also I just couldn't stop staring at the beautiful Behringer X-32 Digital Mixer that they use to run everything). 

After such a great show the only thing left to do was relax at the bar and sample some of Burdock's excellent beer selection.

Show Me How Fast You Can Go

"So the song needs to be mixed and mastered, plus the video needs to be edited start to finish. Also we only have two days."

-Tara

 

While my good friend and frequent collaborator Tara Kannangara was in the middle of her recent west coast tour, she and her stellar bandmates took a break from gigging to record a few tracks at a fantastic recording studio in Vancouver called The Space Studios. Primary among the tunes recorded was Tara's new song Show Me Where To Go. With help from local videographer Marty Clemens they were able to put together a terrific music video shoot, all live off the floor in the studio itself. 

 
 Live room at The Space Studios

Live room at The Space Studios

 

This was all planned beforehand so I was prepared to start working as soon as they got home. What I wasn't prepared for was having the scheduled release of the video moved up by four days, leaving us just 48 hours to complete all post-production. When Tara let me know about the change I only had one response:

"Let's get coffee first." 

After a first pass at both the song and the video I had burned through one of my two days, but we were in a pretty good place. This is largely thanks to the excellent quality of both the sound recording and the videography. It's always a treat to work on music that is given to me at an extremely high level. 

With our schedules out of sync on the evening of day 1, Tara and I planned to get together on the morning of day 2 (delivery day) and not leave the studio until we were done. Halfway through the day (and the whole way through a pot of my very favourite freshly ground Cut Coffee and our mix was ready to be sent out for mastering. For this Tara had secured the talents of Peter J Moore, a terrific local mastering engineer who was on board with our same-day delivery needs. 

After sending off the mix we turned our full attention to polishing up the video edit. A few hours and a few more cups of sweet sweet caffeinated deliciousness later and we had kicked D-Day squarely in the ass.

Video done, song back from mastering and sounding amazing, only thing left to do was sit back and revel in an amazingly efficient working experience. 

Projects like this one are the reason why I love doing what I do. Fast-paced, decisive, creatively fulfilling. This was a tremendously rewarding video to produce which left me shaking with excitement for my next mixing session. Or perhaps I was just jittery from all the coffee...