DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Transition. Part Four: Finally found what I'm looking for.



This blog originally appeared on
bneeth.com

Last blog I took you diving, but I still hadn’t found the small camera I was looking for. I’d reached the end of the road with what I could accomplish with the Canon G9 and its Canon successors weren’t moving in a direction that I liked. I needed more resolution and flexibility in a small package. Fortunately in the summer of 2009 Panasonic announced the GF1 micro four thirds camera and many of my questions were answered. The GF1 is a mirrorless system, so it’s small, but it has a large sensor so it makes good images. It was marginally bigger than the point and shoot, but the size was worth it.

It still took me 9 months to finally buy one because I’m pretty hesitant to buy the first generation of anything electronic, and in the meantime I did my research and realized that I was going to be able to adapt some really great glass to the GF1. I still own a Contax G2, but I never really liked the ergonomics of it and it fell out of rotation. The lenses I have for it however, can easily be adapted to the GF1. And suddenly I have a Zeiss 45mm f2 in my pocket…

Of course the lens that I’ve kept mounted 90% of the time is the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, a spectacular fast and sharp pancake lens that I bought the body with. I also bought a pricey 7-14mm f4 that hasn’t gotten a lot of use. It’s a good lens, but it’s so big that it sort of defeats the purpose of the small body.

So this has become my walkaround rig and has been for the last couple of years. I still go to the DSLR for when I have to shoot in the studio or action, but I was doing that way less at the time and started getting really interested in trying different styles.


In the process, I started to read up on street photography and tentatively went down that road. I find street photography to be really invasive, and as a result I’ve always kinda shied away from it. However, like just about everything in my life, when I find something intimidating, that’s all the more reason to give it a whirl.

The results of shooting people in the streets came slowly. I threw away hundreds of shots before I finally got one I liked. Slowly I got a few more, and became less intimidated by the process, but there were lots of shots I missed too. When a fight broke out literally on my shoes at the corner of Hastings and Main, my instinct was to walk the other way, not to pull out my camera. And when a guy collapsed and paramedics arrived to perform CPR on the street in front of the police station, I wasn’t pushing the EMTs out of the way to get the shot; I was more concerned that he was going to be ok. I guess I just don’t have the stones to be a crime reporter…

But urban spaces kept speaking to me and over the last few years I’ve put together a large body of work that speaks about the relationship between people and the city. As my thoughts about that relationship developed, so did the work and my photos became less abstract and more focused. As themes developed they recurred and I became more sure of my direction.

I still am fascinated by texture and patterns, and while I spend less time trying to “capture” people on the streets, I’m interested in relationships of scale and environmental interaction. Well, that and goofy pictures of the dog…

So in my first Bneeth column I told you about my creative existential crisis. It’s taken a few columns, but this is where I am today. I know myself as a photographer like I never did when I shot action sports exclusively, and I’ve let the work dictate the choices I’ve made. Interestingly, in the process I started to appreciate shooting action sports again. I don’t want to spend 7 months on a snowmobile again anytime soon, but I like to think the work I do now comes with a lot more skill and a far better eye.

Dano


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Sidewalk diamonds. Vancouver.

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Chinese Pharmacy. Chinatown.
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Shopping. Sometimes a photo is about what you can’t see.
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Breaktime. Hastings and Main.
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Decisions. Paia, Maui.
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Dead Sea Turtle. Wailea, Maui.
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Open. Chinatown.
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Sunday. Beach day in Roatan, Honduras
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Prizes. PNE.
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Lombard Tourists. San Francisco.
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Framed. Vancouver.
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Levels. Vancouver.
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Letters. Vancouver Post Office.
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Backside. Yaletown, Vancouver.
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Josh. Vancouver.
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Scoot. Gastown, Vancouver.

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Sunday on the grass. Vancouver.
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Transition. Part Three: Fuck it, I’m going swimming.



This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.


Around the time I became a convert to small cameras, I started scuba diving a lot. Obviously the two things would eventually meet and I’d get hooked on shooting underwater photos. I was torn because underwater photography is probably the most expensive form of photography I can think of, and it’s also incredibly difficult and prone to disaster. The thing about taking electronics a hundred feet underwater is that, well, they get flooded and ruined. A lot.

So this it how I found myself spending way more money on photography. I started off by getting a cheap housing for an Olympus Point and shoot that I had, and then moved onto a more expensive housing and strobe for the Canon G9. That was a really good rig to learn with and I managed to get some great shots with it. Eventually of course, I reached the end of the road and made the decision to house a DSLR.

What I learned with underwater photography is that it’s one of the most difficult environments to make an image, and when something spectacular is in front of you, you need a lot of really good tools to make sure you nail the shot. So small cameras didn’t last, but along the way I learned a lot.

Enjoy some shots from my underwater photo journey.

Dano

ps: click on the photos for larger versions.

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A shot from the old Olympus with a grouper in front of a wreck.
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Circling Horse-eye Jacks. Shot with the Canon G9. I loved this when I got it and still do. Sometimes the limitations of a camera help to make something unique.
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One of the craziest looking fish you will ever meet; the toadfish. Shot with the Canon g9.
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Breath hold shots with a camera rig can be tricky.
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My friend Kat over the sandy bottom. Black and white is one way to deal with the deep blue hue of ambient light underwater.
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Finally got a dslr housed, and the pictures dramatically improved. This is a giant barrel sponge on the edge of the reef wall in Belize.
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When you startle a Caribbean octopus at night, it will either hide or make itself as big as possible. Night dive in Belize.
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Macro of Coral. Repeating patterns are visually pleasing.
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Classic underwater composition with a giant barrel sponge and diver.
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I love moray eels. Whitemouth Moray from Maui.
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Nudibranchs are essentially snails, without the shell. They are small and come in myriad colours and shapes and they mostly sit still so you can take their picture.
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Balancing the flash with ambient, and then making the falloff reach an appropriate height on the mast made this one of the more challenging shots. Good thing the diver doesn’t look too goofy.
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Transition. Part Two: Shoot something!


This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.

Well after some deliberation I had found myself a convert to small cameras, and as a result I had my trusted Canon g9 with me at all times. What I still hadn’t figured out though, was what I wanted to take pictures of. This started a long process that continues to this day. But the first step was to document my steps.

A few times a week I was walking from my apartment at the time, right by Vancouver’s skate plaza, down Main Street to Railtown where I was working. I started to notice the seasonal changes in the buildings along the way and decided that it would be a good project to shoot all the buildings between Georgia and Alexander Streets, in all the different seasons. So I set out to do it.

I shot and shot, and I got some photos that were really cool, but eventually I got bored. I realized that it was a good project, but it would have to be one that stretched for decades, not just months. Plus, I realized that I wanted to shoot different buildings with different formats and cameras. That’s ok, I keep working on it, I love to see how things change, but it’s not really the body of work that speaks to me the loudest.

I kept shooting my walking “commute” though, and started to get shots that I liked more. It seemed to come in waves, one day I would get two or three things that I liked, and then I’d go a week without getting anything. The difference between my life shooting action sports and now was that now it was completely up to me to make things happen. I couldn’t rely on a rider doing a massive air to do the work for me, I had to create something compelling out of the things around me. That didn’t always come easy.

I kept adding shots to projects that I’d been working on for years though. Building on ideas but adapting to the different environment. All of the things I shot in the mountains were still present in the city. There was still an abundance of texture, there was still interesting light, and now there certainly were far more colours. I found myself doing familiar things but with different subjects and through a lot of repetition and a dedication to taking photos every day, I started to develop a new style and as always happens, themes started to emerge.

And as I shot, I got to know the Canon G9 really well, learning its strengths and using them to my advantage. Having a really good macro available at any time had me crouching down on the street a lot. And the compression of the long lens with a pretty much infinite depth of field was fantastic. I started a whole new body of work of abstract reflections, some of which have become my favourite images. I added to a personal project that I had been picking away at for years that I call “little horizons”, essentially portrait oriented landscape shots that emphasize the sky. Interestingly I’ve seen a lot of photography like that in recent years, but I continue with it.

Even while all of this was happening though, something was still bothering me. The quality of the image was still not as good as I’d like. I could deal with noise at low ISO, but anything above 400 was too much. And I didn’t like the shape of the noise. It had me craving the good old days of film grain. So I pushed on, but knew in the back of my mind that I would have to find another camera soon. Until then, I was going to shoot that G9 into the ground. And next time, I’ll tell you about taking it underwater.

-Dano

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“119 Main Street.” Part of a project to shoot all of the buildings of Main St. between Alexander and Georgia.
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Long September light makes for some nice shadows on the False Creek Seawall.
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“False Creek” from the Little Horizons project.
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Just a spectacular Vancouver sunset.
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Masts. This is the first of the “Reflections” series.
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Spectrum. Another from the “Reflections” series.
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Crazy fall colours in Vancouver.
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Fern. From my garden.
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“Big OK” from Little Horizons.
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Street scene from Stockholm, Sweden.
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Transition. Part One: Now what?

This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.

The one thing I knew for sure when I stopped shooting photos of action sports was that I wasn’t going to stop taking photos. I simply couldn’t. As much as the creative life is like a cruel pendulum sometimes, with swings of deep dissatisfaction and swings that feel like brilliance, the one thing I knew for sure was that taking photos was no longer something that I had the option to do. I had grown to the point where if I went any length of time without shooting something good, a part of me started to feel off. It was akin to going a long time without sex. It doesn’t kill you, but it grinds away at your soul until you finally have to scratch that itch.

But suddenly I didn’t have a cover to shoot for. I didn’t have a crew of people to work with and I didn’t even know what the goal was. A “good photo” had just become a giant question mark. What was “good” at that point? What was I going to shoot now, and what for?

I had recently moved to Vancouver, close to Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside. Obviously there was no end of subject matter out there, I simply had to open my eyes and start to shoot things. I was doing work for a couple different companies at the time and I had essentially stopped driving. I would walk around false creek and the downtown core, or take my bike and I made a point to always have a camera with me. That was my first decision: What gear would I use?

The DSLR was out right away. Too big, too much weight, too much gear. I had hauled around a 40-pound pack for almost 20 years and I was looking forward to packing light. I pulled out my old Contax G2, a camera that I had always had high hopes for, but just never really enjoyed the ergonomics of. Nothing had changed. It still felt too big and I didn’t want to carry a bunch of lenses around. Plus it had that funky focus system that I didn’t like. What I did like was the lenses. But for now, it wasn’t worth it.

Luckily, right around this time The Canon G9 came out and for me, it answered a lot of questions. It had a lot of professional functionality in a pretty small body, with a zoon range that was really useful. I had found my “walking around” camera. At least for the time being. Some of the my favourite things about the G9 were the size, the macro, (which was, and is, pretty amazing actually) the zoom was good and I could haul in some fairly far-away scenes, and I could shove it in my pocket. I thought it was pretty durable, but before too long I learned about a fatal flaw.

The G9’s zoom lens isn’t sealed, and the act of it zooming and contracting causes dust to be sucked into the camera where it can find its way to the sensor. Once it’s there, there is now way to clean it. Eventually this would be part of the downfall of the G9 for me, but not for a couple years. Once I had a small inconspicuous camera that had decent image quality, I found myself shooting nonstop. What started as snapshots of friends and quick shots for reference, became more serious the more I used the G9.

It took a few months until I had a good feel for the G9 and realized that it was capable of more than just snapshots. I started to look at things differently and for the first time in my life, began to develop an urban approach to photography. I had decided on my gear, now it was time to see if I could take a decent picture.

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With a camera in my pocket, walking the dog became a chance to find a picture almost every day. And a small camera meant I would never hesitate to shoot
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Testing the G9’s ability to stop action, even in the late evening light. Not bad.
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Familiar sights that I’d normally never shoot became a new challenge. A “why not?” photo opportunity.
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The G9 has a decent telephoto on it allowing me to compress scenes and find interesting scenes on a day to day basis.
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It’s nice to have a little camera handy when you find yourself looking down from up high. The black and white conversions were nice too.


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The Sunshine Coast

Hi friends,

Just spent a lovely couple days on the Sunshine Coast. Haven’t had a walk through the woods with a camera in a while and I really enjoyed the chance to get close to the water. I love rivers. Had lunch at the mouth of Robert’s Creek at a lovely little park and then stayed at the Tuwanek Hotel. All in all, a couple of really good days to leave the computer off.

Enjoy some pictures.

D.

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On the Ferry
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signs
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tideline
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Robert’s Creek
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The balancers have been here. Robert’s Creek
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drift
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dusty
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Conversation.

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Dalby
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Kim and Shannon
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Robert’s Creek
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Robert’s Creek
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Robert’s Creek
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Dalby getting in my shot. Robert’s Creek
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The trail in Cliff Gilker park.
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Forest
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Smooth
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fiddle
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Robert’s Creek
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Red in the woods.


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prop
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sl. ug.
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update.

Hey friends,

Well, it’s been a long time hasn’t it? To say that my life has been going through changes would be an understatement! Without going into too much detail, last spring, after several challenging years, my personal life unravelled. It took a little time to put the pieces back together, but that’s what I’ve been up to over the last 12 months.

So if you’ve been following closely you may have seen some of my posts over at bneeth. I’ve been documenting the photographic transition I’ve been going through. Spoiler alert; there’s a happy ending, but you’ll have to follow along for a few more episodes before we get there.

Also I’ve been really active on Instagram lately. Check it out or add me @ dspphoto. As always, you can check out where my head is at on Flickr.

I’ve mostly been busy with Monster Energy though, and that’s why my blog has been so quiet.

There is a really cool personal portrait project on the horizon and I’m looking forward to showing you some of the results. More and more it’s the kind of thing I want to be shooting. Well, that and the “walking around” shots. Here’s one now.

dano.

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New lens, new options.

WARNING: Photo geekery follows. Feel free to skip to the photos.

Hi friends,

A quick photo blog with some shots from the Nikon 12-24mm that I finally got underwater. I read bunch of stuff about it online and followed Dr. Mustard’s advice on the setup. The first thing I noticed was that out of the water I couldn’t get any sort of focus with the diopter so I took it out without it. It may be that it only focuses underwater so I’ll have to give that a try, I just don’t want to waste a dive on it right now. Especially because the results without it were quite good just with the 33mm extension. There is definitely some corner distortion at 12mm though.

It’s pretty nice to have the zoom. That’s my first impression. Having only used prime lenses on my new rig so far, the versatility was really nice. On the wide end it’s just slightly less wide than the 10.5 mm that I have (which to my eye is actually a more pleasing focal distance), and the 24 end allows me some chance to achieve good results with slightly smaller creatures. Turtles are a good size creature for it, but anything smaller would have to be sitting pretty still. The Grouper shot was about perfect in terms of size. I probably would have had to get too close with the 10.5mm or maybe even the 16mm and scared him off.

I also noticed that my strobes are probably not strong enough to get any real fill on a sunball shot, unless the subject is really, really close. Shooting at 1/250th and f16 or f22 seems to be crucial to beat the turquoise band and these Ikelite 160’s just don’t have the pop to make anything happen.

I don’t shoot divers enough, so I’m going to focus on that this trip. Luckily I have some willing (or at least convincible) victims to get in front of the camera. I need to work out more of the directions, but just having the chance to work with someone instead of trying to catch moments when a diver is in the right place, is really helpful. I would like some feedback.

I’ve also included some shots from another dive with some funny creatures for my critter nerd friends. All shot with the 60mm macro.

Enjoy,

d.

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A turtle at 24mm.
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Jen and a sea fan.
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Jen and a barrel sponge.
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Grouper getting a good cleaning. Must have been 30 gobies on him.
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Me and Jen goofing around on the safety stop.
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My, what blue rings and lovely lashes you have.
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Just a tiny little Zebra Sole. Look at the grains of sand, they look like boulders! Well, maybe not.
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Queer little critter, the goatee blennie. I’ve never seen one in Roatan before so this makes me happy. Look at the goatee on him!
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What is Technophobe Tuesday?

What is Technophobe Tuesday?

I didn’t invent unplugging from social media. I’m not trying to start a revolution but recently I’ve felt the need to take a social media break.

A little background: My involvement with social media all started with Snowboard.com (RIP), a website that, before Myspace, Facebook or Twitter, was a really big and vibrant community of snowboarders who interacted online. It was a really good prototype for what was to come but it was niche oriented and as a result everyone had something in common. (I kinda miss that model actually) I “met” people from around the world and it was a good way to promote my photography. Then Friendster showed up. You remember Friendster? No, I don’t really either, but I was on there for a couple years. At least until Myspace showed up. That was pretty much the nail in the coffin of Snowboard.com

When I worked for
Future Network we were encouraged to have a big online presence for the good of the brand and that was when I started blogging, mostly just about the magazine, and spent time almost every workday on Myspace too. I learned right around then that some of the photographers I dealt with only communicated through their myspace, (and/or facebook) page. Weird.

Then I shifted gears and built my own website. Joined
Facebook soon after. Transferred to a blogger account. Quit Myspace. Started Twitter. You see how it goes.

Even though I joined a long time ago I only really started using Flickr recently and it’s actually way more interesting that I thought it would be. And then there is Vimeo…

Ok, so at this point I’m simply too deep into “online” and it’s got me by the throat, I feel like I NEED to stay on top of it to stay productive and not to be left behind.* I’m the kind of person who gets a tiny bit of satisfaction from seeing my ideas get passed on, who likes when he is “liked” and who occasionally analyzes his self-worth with Google analytics. That’s how I know I’ve crossed a line. These are not real things.

I also spend time in places that aren’t particularly Internet friendly but are hugely interesting in the real world. I was in
Roatan for six weeks this summer. How many blogs did I write? Zero. Did I survive? Of course I did.

So just to give myself a break the other week I started “Technophobe Tuesday” which simply means that I didn’t log into Flickr, Facebook or Twitter all day. Simple right?

Actually yes. It’s just that simple.** The logging off is the easy part. But if you work online all day you might find the next part more difficult because inevitably in the course of the day, you become bored, distracted or curious. If you are curious like I am, the Internet could be the worst thing that ever happened. And the best thing. I can become curious about
anything and feel the need to know everything about it. This is bad. I can stay up till the sun comes up researching obscure punk bands or the physics behind lens optics, or nudibranchs, or…anything. The Internet has made me want to know everything.

It’s not working.

Cutting out the social media doesn’t solve all this, but what it does do is remind you how much it’s become a part of out day-to-day lives. How faux-connected we feel all the time despite the fact that we are spending hours alone. When you can’t share interesting and funny things with your online community, you find something else to do. So it’s a start.

The standard I set to decide if my Technophobe Tuesday was a success was whether I was more productive, (I was) and whether I felt like I missed out on important business (not so much). I also caught up on all the outstanding social media threads in about 30 minutes on Wednesday.

So I called it a success. The next week I changed and did it on Thursday, and I recruited a friend to try it out. He emailed me before noon to say, “This is hard”. And he was right, it is hard. It changes a routine we’ve become comfortable with and as humans we don’t really like to change our patterns.

But I’m doing it anyway. This week I’m doing it on Tuesday and Thursday. I’m not trying to change the world, but I’m changing mine.

Give it a try.

d.

*This is utter horseshit.

**If you are reading this thinking “well I go days without logging onto any of those things”, then you aren’t like me and this blog clearly doesn’t apply to you. Congratulations.

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This week.

Hi friends,

Here’s a little update of what’s going on in my world in the second week of December, 2010.

I’m back with Monster Energy Canada working on media and events for the winter season. The big event at the 2011 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival will be all new this year and I’m pretty excited to be building up something that will stoke everyone out. Details to come in the new year.

In case you missed it, I’ve been the guest editor of VancouverIsAwesome.com’s Daily Flickr photo for the last 3 months. It’s been very cool to see some of the great photos that come out of Vancouver and taken as a whole, the collection is pretty amazing. It would make a great coffee table book actually. I’m coming to the end of my stint with them since winter work is getting busy, but the passing of the torch will bring a new set of eyes to the process, which is good. VIA is currently raising funds, they are a great organization and if you’ve enjoyed any of their city coverage it would be nice if you could donate. I’ll continue to be involved with them in any way I can so stay tuned for some new ideas in 2011.

I finally caved and made a “Dano Pendygrasse Photography” facebook page that is separate from my personal page. It will take awhile to migrate people across but I’m going to keep the photo stuff on the photo page and the personal stuff on the personal. Right now I have about 1500 friends on my personal page and 150 on the photo page which is about completely backwards, but hey...

We were in Whistler for Mat the Alien’s birthday this week. A bit of a bender at Sushi Village and then on to Maxx Fish. It’s been awhile since I went underground in Whis. It’s dangerous.

Work continues on the Paul Brunes Young Heart Foundation. After we lost Paul last spring there was much discussion about how to make a difference in the lives of people with heart rhythm disorders. This partnership with UBC and VGH is trying to put into place resources for professionals who work in the field. Precious little is done for young people with heart disorders and many go undiagnosed. For people like us, the first sign of a problem could be the last, and if you are young, you can easily slip through the cracks. Please consider a donation or join the Cause page.

I’ve done some reorganizing of my Photoshelter account. I still haven’t used this site up to its potential. It is an incredible resource and I wish I could have all my photos up there. I keep plugging away at it but for now it’s incomplete. It sneaks a little revenue into my life too, so that’s nice. Check it.

I’ve been throwing a lot of my day to day shots on Flickr lately. I like that I can only ever have 200 shots at a time up there so I’m always weeding out some of the least successful ones and the best ones stay. You can add me as a friend on there if that’s your thing. Here are a couple of my favourites from the last little while.

D.

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On luck.


Hi friends,

I think that if you are tall, naturally thin, or super handsome/pretty, then you are lucky. Also, being born in Vancouver is lucky, (of course, I’m biased). What these things have in common, is that you have absolutely no control over them. Good genes? Sure, but you don’t get to make that call in utero, it just happens, and you are lucky. Here are some things that are not lucky:

-Nailing a picture of a snowboarder in mid spin as he stomps a trick first try in fresh powder.

-Getting a job with a fearless company, doing something really unique and interesting.

-Spending time in a tropical destination doing things that you love.

These are all things that have been part of my life, and time and again I’ve been accused of being extremely lucky. I will concede this: I was lucky to be born where I was and I was very lucky to move to a mountain town just as snowboarding was gaining traction. But you know what? 2 thousand people moved to that town that year. Not to mention the hundred other ski towns that thousands of people moved to that season. And that many again the next. Were we all lucky then?

Good luck is when something positive happens TO you, and you have absolutely no control over it.

When something really positive happens in your life, and it is a result of planning, preparedness, and foresight, that isn’t luck. I think that “unlucky” people have often been right in the crosshairs of “luck”, but failed to be “lucky”. Why is that? Because “lucky” takes balls.
Often times, six months before you become “lucky” you are presented with a decision that is “terrifying”. The difference between the people who find the luck and those who don’t then, is often intuition and courage. It takes a lot of nerve to take a chance on something instead of sticking with what is time tested and proven. It takes a different kind of thinking to drop everything to chase a dream for a while. You have to be prepared for the worst, have a good plan, and then work like your life depends on it. Just to be lucky.

People often remark to photographers “you must have a really good camera.” They have the best intention, but this is pretty insulting to us because it equates the quality and value of your work to a purchased item of equipment. Professional photographers have professional cameras, but often that is a function of durability and ease of use as much as anything else. These days there are hundreds of consumer cameras that take pictures as good as professional cameras, they just may not last as long.

That’s why I find the “lucky” tag to be insulting.
I’ve taken so many chances in my life, and some of them have worked out spectacularly, but sometimes I’m unemployed, running out of money, and feeling creatively bankrupt. Nobody is calling me lucky then. I have been told time and again that I’m lucky to spend so much time in Roatan, diving several times a day in a tropical paradise. Well that luck has come with a price tag too, (try to maintain a normal career when you disappear for months at a time!) but I just nod and suggest that “you should try it, all it takes is to go there.”

With the exception of where I was born and a few other minor details, I’ve made my luck with risk taking, hard work, and a self reliance and intuition that I value more every day. Finally, a quote attributed to the American film producer Samuel Goldwyn:

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”


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Right time, right place? Sometimes you just have to be in the right place and hang around long enough for it to be the right time.
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Urban yoga circle

I passed a yoga circle on my walk yesterday. It looked like this:

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That is all.

D.
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Back from Maui, on to the real world.

Back from my trip to Maui to celebrate my one year anniversary. We had a great 10 days in the sun and spent most of it underwater with our friends Gabe and Sarah. The highlight of the week, aside from the obvious milestone of the first year of marriage, was spending 15 minutes around 85 feet underwater with 30 foot long whale shark. This is the biggest fish in the ocean and for most of us, a once in a lifetime experience. Having spent a bunch of time in Utila, my wife T had snorkeled with Whale Sharks on numerous occasions, but to be deep underwater with one, and have it hang around, is rare and we are still amazed by our luck. I didn't have an underwater camera rig on this trip so you'll have to settle for the flickr group that was taken by our divemaster Joe. Thanks to Ed Robinson's dive operation, this is the second year we've done our boat dives with them and they are a solid operation with great people. We did around a dozen shore dives over the course of the week too, and we rented our tanks from B & B scuba in Kihei. They're a really great shop and nice people who took care of us last year and again this year.

For my scuba geek friends, you'll be stoked that we saw over a dozen different nudibranchs, some of which are unnamed and still unknown, eagle rays, more turtles than you could count, huge and tiny scorpionish, devil, leaf, and more, tons of frogfish, one of them even freeswimming, lots of whitetip sharks and some grey reef sharks, that I missed but everyone else saw, tons of different eels including dwarf, whitemouth, yellow margin, zebra and tiger moray, and just about every tropical fish you can imagine.

Here are some shots from the trip.

D.

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The "Sea Spirit", our trusty ride.
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Kits on board.
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Sunset from Wailea
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Part of a beautiful drive on our way to a remote shore dive.
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On our way to the Mala ramp shore dive.
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Rays over the water, rays under the water.
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Lahaina
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Legendary Hawaiian diver Ed Robinson.
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Home. Finishing some things and starting some others.

"Whoa. Are you still here? Wow. Nice to see you. Me? I've been away. In Roatan, Honduras. Ya, there was a "coup". Big Earthquake too. How big? 7.1! I know, it was crazy. Well, between that and the swine flu scare the tourists pretty much stopped coming. Ya, that's why I'm on my way back to Vancouver. Just in time for the salmon in the rivers and the leaves to change colour. I'm hoping for an indian summer, I love Vancouver in September.

Pictures? Sure, I took some. Not as many as i would have liked, the divemaster training kept me from shooting much and then I started to work leading divers and couldn't take a camera along. Ya, it was a bit of a bummer, but I was happy for the chance to get some experience.

What now? Well I have a couple of interesting job offers and it's an Olympic year so there will be lots of things to shoot, but truthfully, I'm mostly just looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and catching up with friends. Yes, of course I'll start writing regularly again. Having reliable electricity and internet makes blogging a lot easier.

Well thanks, I'm glad to see you again too. Talk soon."

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Back in Roatan

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been in Roatan for a week now, took about half that to get my bags, battled off the dreaded "roatan gut" for a few days and then got down to business. I'm doing my divemaster training with Reef Gliders and have started to wade through the thousands of pages of reading and tests, but still have managed to sneak in a few dives. I always like to shoot at El Aguila, it has lots of cool lines and as I learn how to shoot underwater better, it's a good baseline to judge myself against.

Yesterday on the first dive, I was shooting a photo of a turtle passing me by when I heard Barry banging away like mad on his tank trying to get my attention. Barry isn't really one to bang his tank a lot, so I figured something exciting was going on. As it turns out a big green Moray Eel had snuck up behind me and was biting my fin! Never had that happen before! When I got back to the shop and looked at my photos I saw him sneaking up on me in the background of this shot.

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Sneaky Green Moray Eel and turtle.

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Just blowing bubbles.

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A diver on the wreck.

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Goldentail Moray's are my favourite eel around here

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And finally a flamingo tongue.

It's a little tough to keep up with the blog here, the power still goes out pretty much once a day, the internet is painfully slow and I am kept really busy with the DM course, but I'll try to get something up at least once a week, hopefully more. I'm going to try to get photos up here as often as I can too, so check it out if you like.

Cheers,

d.
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Life Photos, Snowboarding, and other stuff.

Just after I started writing this blog I got a call fro the New Westminster police to tell me that my truck had been recovered, a week to the day since it was stolen from in front of my building. There is some damage but it looks like I will be getting it back. It remains to be seen how long that will take and what condition it will be in. Of course my sled is gone. I'm going to have to eat that loss and it completely sucks. If anybody is looking at a really good deal on a 2007 skidoo summit 600, please take a close look at the VIN and give me a call or drop me a line.

I shot a couple things over the weekend including the Showdown over the City and was going to show some photos but I suddenly don't care that much. Instead I'll show you this:



Life magazine is allowing bloggers and non-commercial web folks to use images from their archives free of charge, a very interesting move.
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12 months

In the last 12 months I:

Got married.
Bought a condo.
Wrote a book.
Spent 20 (though not nearly enough) hours underwater.
Watched the magazine I helped start, end.
Sold photos to magazines and companies around the world.
Did the highest paying photo job I’ve ever done.
Was offered less than I ever have been for photos.
Took huge chances in my career.
Worked on a deeply satisfying personal project.
Worked too hard, but not smart enough.
Lost my priorities.
Found them again.
Fell further in love.
Started to put the pieces together.
Was humiliated.
Was proud.
Was intimidated.
Got over it.
Rode a bus.
Rode a bike.
Rode a boat.
Rode a helicopter.
Rode a snowboard.
Rode a plane.
Rode a (sky)train.
Rode a snowmobile.
Wakesurfed.


Sometimes I have absolutely no idea how I make it through the years. My life astonishes me.

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Wind. Olympic Village. Vancouver.
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Several steps

My life is getting torn in several directions lately. It's exciting to do new things and have new challenges, and it's also difficult to let other things wait.

Yesterday was the beginning of the media campaign to promote Grenade Games 5, this spring and it went very much according to plan. As the days move on we'll be bringing more information out and continuing to work to make sure that the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler is the best it has been in years.

On the other hand, the winter in BC has being very difficult and isn't cooperating in the making of snowboard photos. I find that to be frustrating. C'est la vie. Life moves on. Mine continues to be very, very interesting and unusual. As I shoot more and more in my neighbourhood, I am starting to really "see". Themes start to become obvious and I spend more time developing the ones that speak loudest to me. This is a long process and It's very interesting. The best part about it is that as you live longer, the things you see change. How you see changes. What is important to you personally and photographically change. This means I'm often dismissive of some of my past work as I move past it, and also some things from my past that didn't resonate with me immediately grow on me over time. My work evolves even after it's in the can.

As my snowboard photography suffers in a bad season, I become a better photographer.

Here are a couple shots from this week.

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s canoe
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dog run
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casino bird
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Deep Winter 2009

So tonight is the Deep Winter contest in Whistler. For the last three days, 6 photographers have been shooting their asses off in terrible conditions with the aim of putting together an award winning slideshow tonight. I've done this contest for the last two years and it is easily one of the most exhausting photographic experiences I've ever endured. Considering the conditions, I'm more than glad to not be doing it again this season, but I am very much looking forward to seeing the results. And this year I will sit on the panel of judges.

I think that judging photography is stupid. I said "no" to the request half a dozen times before finally being convinced to participate. In the end, someone will win, but I know that just the experience of shooting for those three days and making a slideshow to present on the night of the fourth provides a huge sense of accomplishment to the contestants.

Here is a link to my show from last year and a couple shots from the contest. Good luck to all this years contestants.

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transitions

I'm having a really hard time transitioning from the warm water and beaches of Maui to the grey cold of Vancouver. It's that time of year that is always really challenging, too early to snowboard, but already cold and wet. Roatan is sounding better all the time. Reef Gliders is moving and I can't wait to check out the new shop. I miss my friends down there and the fun times. Shooting diving photos underwater again in Maui has got me all amped on that again. It's a shame that it is so bloody expensive to get into and a tough place to sell photos. I figure it will take about another season before I have some really good underwater stuff. Not that I'm not happy with some of the things that I get down there, but I'm not as consistent as I am shooting people, or snow or whatever.

Ok, time to write a chapter for the book.


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Fishies and deep breaths.

A year ago today, I left Roatan after living there for 3 and a half months. I expected to be back there around June, but life is always interesting and you never know what is around the next corner, so instead it has now been a year since I've seen some of my friends down there. I've booked a flight back for Christmas, which makes me extremely happy, but I miss the place. No Roatan has also meant, no diving, which I miss terribly. People have asked me what the appeal is lately and my response is this; scuba diving is everything that snowboarding isn't. It's warm (at least where I like to do it), it's no impact, it's quiet and calm (which snowboarding actually can be too, but not sledding or crowded mountains, etc.).

Diving to me is like a forced meditation. You slow down your breathing, clear your mind, and look at pretty fishes. It calms me.

So in the year since I've been home, a lot has happened. I've made big strides professionally, and am very proud of the work I'm doing these days. Between that, the new apartment, and impending wedding, life has kept me very, very busy. I feel fortunate, considering the state of the global economy and how tough it is out there to make it as a photographer, to still be getting work, selling pictures, and interesting new clients.

Now if I can just figure out how to do it all of that from the beach...

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This is a typical view off the wall in Roatan. No sharks or seahorses or barracuda, just a squirrel fish and lots of coral. Aaaah.
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