What World Photography Day Means To Me

A couple of people tagged me in a Facebook post because it was apparently World Photography Day. I had no idea but there’s a “day” for everything so it makes sense. Socks and Sandals Day is April 21st, mark your calendars. Being tagged in those posts made me think about photography and what it means to me. Turns out it means a lot.

My kid is my favourite subject

My kid is my favourite subject

I’ve become the person who always has a camera with them . Not a smartphone, a REAL CAMERA. My smartphone has an amazing camera for a phone but it can’t come close to the image quality of a proper camera. This has made it possible to capture wonderful moments with my daughter as she grows and learns. She even has her own camera and we go on photography adventures together.

This is a family heirloom. I spend a lot of time letting it teach me how to shoot.

This is a family heirloom. I spend a lot of time letting it teach me how to shoot

Photography has given me a chance to reconnect with my Grandpa who I lost when I was a teenager. The Pentax SP1000 pictured above was his and I’ve recently restored it using a parts camera a found on a local auction site. Shooting with film teaches me how to use light in a way digital just figures out for you. Using those skills with a digital camera has made me a better photographer.

I love long exposure photography

I love long exposure photography

Long exposure photography is awesome. You’re capturing light over a long period of time creating dramatic photographs. You can use long exposure to capture light streaks, light painting/writing, stellar photography. It’s given me somewhere to be at night that isn’t a bar.

Street photography, balancing art and not getting punched in the face

Street photography, balancing art and not getting punched in the face

Street photography can be a little intimidating but it’s given me a reason to get off the couch and explore the world around me. Not everyone wants their picture taken so it can be tricky. I switch between prime lenses and long zooms depending on what neighbourhood I’m in… You know?

Editing is not my thing but sometimes I make it work

Editing is not my thing but sometimes I make it work

Post processing isn’t my favourite part of photography. My editing (outside of Instagram…) is usually just cropping and straightening. Every now and then I dive into Lightroom to play around and I’ve come out with a few keepers. Overall though I like to take pictures that stand on their own and don’t need hours of work after the fact.

Better than a selfie

Better than a selfie

Portraits are so much cooler than selfies, that’s a fact. The only problem I have with portraits is how critical people are of their own appearance. It makes me turn away a lot of paid work because I don’t like hearing people pick themselves apart over the way they look. You’re hot, I’m hot, let’s take some pictures.

I love film

I love film

I know I’ve already talked about film but it really is a wonderful thing to use. You don’t get to take 300 pictures to get 10 good ones. It forces you to compose better, to be picky about your subject, and to understand the basic functions of a camera. Film cameras are very inexpensive these days because no one likes to do anything themselves anymore. Pick one up and shoot a few rolls of film. It’ll make you a better photographer.

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Fuji X-E1

I shoot with Fujifilm X Series cameras for most of my digital work. I was given an X-A1 which got me hooked on this great camera system. I picked up a used X-E1 body at a local camera shop a few months ago and I have 3 X-mount lenses along with some adapters to use some old glass I have. I also have a Pentax DSLR but it’s too big for most things I like to shoot. It’s a great camera though and Pentax uses a lens mount that gives you thousands of options.

Black and white is worth the fight

Black and white is worth the fight

What does World Photography Day mean to me? Well, nothing really. What does Photography mean to me? I’ll try to keep this short. It means I have a hobby that gets me outdoors, a hobby I can share with my family, a hobby that isn’t drinking beer or eating food in the name of “blogging”. It allows me to be creative, to be sensitive, to show the world the things that make my brain tick. Photography has changed the way I look at the world, it has changed the way I interact with people. When I take a picture I am stopping time.

There it is. You may now set your alarms for Socks and Sandals Day 2016.

Scott.

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ONE20 Public House – Consider Me Impressed

About a month ago I was invited to ONE20 Public House for a brewmaster’s dinner featuring Steel and Oak Brewing. Having never been to ONE20 I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found was one of the best beer pairing dinners I’ve ever been to. Fantastic dishes, good pairings, great pacing, and top shelf service. I knew Steel and Oak was a fantastic brewery but the level of the food presented by ONE20 was above every other beer dinner I’ve been to except one. I would put this dinner on par with the now defunct Ensemble Tap and the Beerthirst dinner they put on a few years ago.

BEER!

BEER!

But here’s the thing. Beer pairing dinners aren’t usually a good indication of what the bar/restaurant does on a nightly basis. It’s a showcase for the chef and quite often the food is way above what is on the regular menu. So in the interest of accuracy I went back to ONE20 on my own time with my own money to see if reality matched a fantastic one night stand.

Albacore Tuna Tartare with house made BBQ chips

Albacore Tuna Tartare with house made BBQ chips

I started with Albacore Tuna Tartare with house made BBQ chips. The tuna was fresh, light, and properly seasoned. The BBQ chips were great. House made BBQ chips… That’s an easy way to make something simple become something people want to come back for.

Braised shortrib with horseradish mash, grilled scallions, and red wine demi-glace

Braised Shortrib with horseradish mash, grilled scallions, and red wine demi-glace

For my main I had Braised Shortrib with horseradish mash, grilled scallions, and red wine demi-glace. The portion is BIG. The beef was tender, juicy, flavourful, everything you can get out of a relatively low grade cut of meat. Shortrib done properly is magic and this was just right. The mash and scallions paired up well with the beef and the demi-glace tied everything together. This dish wouldn’t be out of place in Yaletown or Coal Harbour for 50% more money and you can get it at a pub on Scott Road in Delta!

The beer list is very good, 15 craft taps, and it’s overseen by Cicerone Ben Treen. Their wine list is extensive and their cocktail menu is equally deep. Executive Chef Ryan Praskey, who arrived at ONE20 in 2014 after stints at Momofuku, Terra, and Ferrovia, has brought a farm to table approach to the menu embracing local producers and fresh ingredients.

One20 Public House is a pretty special place in a sea of suburban mediocrity. You should go check it out for yourself.

I’ve posted a few pictures from the Steel and Oak dinner at the bottom of this post.

Twitter – @120publichouse

Instagram – one20publichouse

Facebook – One20Pub

Interwebz – one20pub.com

Scott.

Beer dinner - Chicken and smoked hefeweizen consumme, mushroom, chorizo, chicken dumpling, parmesan tuile, herb oil

Beer dinner – Chicken and smoked hefeweizen consumme, mushroom, chorizo, chicken dumpling, parmesan tuile, herb oil

Beer dinner - Red pilsner beer battered Halibut, sauce gribiche,  haystack potatoes

Beer dinner – Red pilsner beer battered Halibut, sauce gribiche, haystack potatoes

Beer dinner - Plated oyster

Beer dinner – Plated oyster

Beer dinner - Fried queso and crispy sausage

Beer dinner – Fried queso and crispy sausage

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Quick Bite – The Sugar Shack in 70 Mile House

Ah 70 Mile House, the gateway to Green Lake and a place you’d probably miss if you blinked while driving through it on Highway 97. 70 Mile House isn’t known for much but that is about to change. There’s a new spot about a mile past the general store that feels like a slice of Quebec in the middle of rural BC. The Sugar Shack has everything your inner Quebecois desires. Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean, Poutine, Montreal Smoked Meat, Maple baked beans, Cretons, Maple syrup, Maple toffee, Maple bacon… They also do some kick-ass breakfasts and make maple sweetened coffee.

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I stopped in to check out their smoked meat sandwich and poutine. The poutine is very good. hand cut fries, house made gravy, and real cheese curds. It’s up there with anything you can get in Vancouver and wouldn’t be out of place in Quebec. The smoked meat sandwich was just ok. The meat is very salty and a bit dry.

The maple sweetened coffee and poutine make The Sugar Shack a “must visit” kind of place if you ever find yourself in this picturesque part of BC.

Facebook – The Sugar Shack

World wide web – thesugarshack.sfobc.com

Scott.

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The Taphouse Guildford. Craft Beer And Good Eats In Surrey

The craft beer scene in Surrey is at an interesting point in its evolution. You can find craft beer at most pubs and restaurants but you’d be lucky to find more than 3 taps and a couple of bottles to choose from. There’s Big Ridge and Central City, both are fantastic but you’re limited to their beers. That’s not a bad thing but it’s always nice to have a little more choice. The Taphouse offers 20+ taps, 12-15 of which are craft with local and non local options. Is there another spot in Surrey with that kind of craft selection? No, not even close, and don’t bring up Hawthorne because that place is terrible.

Hot wings

Hot wings

I’ve been to The Taphouse before but this was the first time I was there to eat. We started out with some classic Hot Wings ($10/pound). Hot but not too hot, nice flavour, good mix of drummies and flatties (ya, I said it). Good stuff.

Brisket beef dip

Brisket beef dip

Sticking with classic pub food I opted for The Beef Dip ($13), slow roasted house smoked brisket on a garlic baguette with light horseradish mayo and a side of jus. The meat was tender, juicy, and full of flavour. The smoke and the horseradish mayo work well together and I may have detected a hint of liquid smoke in the jus but I might be wrong. This is a tasty example of a pub food staple. The fries were good too, fresh cut kosher salted Kennebec potatoes,

Mmmmm brisket

Mmmmm brisket

If you were a Bar Star in the 90’s you already know where The Taphouse is. It lives where The Mirage night club used to take all my money on $1 drink night… 15330 102a Ave in beautiful Guildford.

The only word of caution I have is that a lot of the servers seem new so service can be inconsistent.

Twitter – @taphouse_pub

Facebook – taphouseguildford

Instagram – Not that I can find…

World wide web – thetaphouse.ca

Scott.

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Mission Kitsilano – Grand Opening

There’s a new restaurant on West 4th. That statement is something that’s probably true on a monthly basis but this one feels a cut above. Mission has moved into the space formerly occupied by the short lived August Jack. The space has been transformed from a dark dungeon-like room into a bright, welcoming environment. Mission also comes with a few well respected names attached to it. Sommelier Chase McLeod and Chef Curtis Luk have teamed up to launch their first restaurant. Chase was formerly the GM at Fable and Curtis has worked as a chef at Fable, Bambudda, and The Parker as well as competing on Top Chef Canada.

Mission Kits - 2042 W 4th

Mission Kits – 2042 W 4th

The menu hits all the right notes. Farm to table, nose to tail, affordably priced prix fixe options along with a la carte dishes and great vegetarian choices.

Chef Curtis Luk

Chef Curtis Luk

Behind the bar you’ll find Justin Darnes, formerly of Pidgin, mixing some fantastic old school cocktails to compliment the finely tuned wine and beer selections.

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Justin is the blurry guy in the background…

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There’s a lot of talent at Mission and I can’t wait to check out one of their tasting menus in the near future.

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The footrest at the bar is a train track… That’s cool.

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Twitter – @missionkits

Facebook – Mission Kitsilano

Instagram – @missionkits

Interweb – missionkits.ca

Scott.

 

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WFLBC Goes To New Zealand – A Mirrorless Adventure

Ya, I made a logo and a hashtag for my trip...

Ya, I made a logo and a hashtag for my trip…

As most of you know I’m off to New Zealand in November. As a photography enthusiast I’ve been having a hard time deciding what kind of gear I want to bring along. Film was out right away because that’s too much work. It was down to my Pentax DSLRs or my Fujifilm X-series mirrorless cameras. When I really thought about what I wanted to accomplish in New Zealand the choice was easy, mirrorless all the way.

What's in my bag?

What’s in my bag?

My X-series cameras offer the same sensor size and resolution as my DSLRs but take up a lot less space which is a big consideration for air travel. A DSLR body, a prime and a zoom lens take up the same space as 2 mirrorless bodies, a prime, and 2 zooms. That means a smaller camera bag that can be your secondary piece of carry-on baggage. My editing/sharing tools are an iPad mini and a Chromebook. Both are light and compact and if they get lost, stolen, or damaged they’re not worth a ton of money.

The Fujifilm X-series is a fantastic camera platform. My little X-A1 (now replaced by the X-A2), the black camera pictured above, is a perfect starter camera for anyone who wants to get better shots than a smartphone or a point and shoot can produce. My X-E1 (now replaced by the X-E2) is aimed at more advanced shooters with greater manual control and a slick electronic viewfinder. I have 3 X-series lenses. A 35mm prime lens for portraits or street photography, a 16-50mm zoom for wide angle and general shooting, and a 50-230mm zoom for wildlife and telephoto shots.

Most days I’ll just carry the X-E1 with either the 35mm or the 16-50mm on it. I don’t want to pack a bag around unless I think I’ll want more options depending on my destination. I’ll pack a tripod in my checked bag just incase. Taking 2 bodies isn’t 100% necessary but if one body breaks of malfunctions I have a backup.

Mirrorless in New Zealand, That’s what’s for lunch.

Scott.

Editors note – My flag logo will be out of date soon as New Zealand is currently in the public consultation phase of picking a new flag.

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LG G4 Review

gsmarena_001

Photo – GSMArena

My month long test of the LG G4 Smartphone officially came to an end this morning as I packed up my demo phone and shipped it back to LG Canada. As a current LG G3 owner I was more than a little currious to see what was improved from a phone that was quite good to begin with. I won’t bore you with specs, you can find them on LG Canada’s website. What I will say is the Android 5.1 powered G4 is fast, powerful, has an amazing 4k screen, the battery lasts all day, and the cameras (both front and back) are outstanding.

Photo - Forbes.com

Photo – Forbes.com

The camera is a very important feature of any new smartphone and the G4 has a shooter with some interesting features for the hobbyist photographer. The rear sensor is 16mp and you get 8mp out front. The rear facing camera also has an f1.8 lens which means it’s good in low light. There’s a full manual mode along with 2 auto modes. The front camera has the same resolution as an iPhone’s rear camera so if you’re into selfies you’re going to be a happy camper. It has gesture control and different modes to light up your face and smooth your skin. A narcissist’s dream come true.

The biggest issue I have with the G3’s camera is the cheap plastic that covers the rear camera lens. It gets scratches on it that ruin low light shots with even the greatest of care and bulkiest of cases. Thankfully the G4 has replaced the plastic lens flare generator with hardened glass that showed no signs of scratching after a month in my pocket with no case.

I’m going to miss the G4, it’s quite a phone. Maybe LG Canada is looking for a product rep? I wouldn’t say no… Here are some sample images from my G4 test unit.

20150610_223944 20150609_090802_HDR 20150611_120601_HDR 20150611_160726_HDR 20150612_140435_HDR 20150617_082852 IMG_1661 IMG_1665 20150625_221659 20150626_133625

 

Thanks to LG Canada for the opportunity to test this phone!

Scott.

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Nosh by the Glowbal Group. First Impressions

Telus Garden, the sparkling new headquarters of the Canadian telecommunications giant, is nearly complete. Tenants have already started moving in and Nosh, a new cafe from the Glowbal Group, opened up this week in the wood and glass arched lobby. I had a chance to swing by incognito this morning to see what Nosh was all about.

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Tucked away beside the elevator lobby, you have to cross the main lobby to find Nosh. If you enter at the corner of Georgia and Richards you might miss it. Once found you may have a hard time figuring out where to line up and/or order your food or coffee. The layout is awkward and it isn’t clear where you should go. I just sort of stood near the pastries until someone talked to me, which took more than a few minutes. I’m sure the customer service bump will be ironed out in time but the layout is something that will be hard to improve without proper signage.

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I’m happy to see Driftwood Brewing on tap here. Draught beer at a cafe in the lobby of an office tower is not common and I wonder how much will be sold during weekday business hours. A bold move, and I like it.

Chorizo breakfast wrap

Chorizo breakfast wrap

I grabbed a drip coffee and a chorizo breakfast wrap. The coffee is good, nothing mind blowing but for drip it’ll do. The wrap… I’m conflicted. Egg, chorizo, sundried tomatoes, goats cheese (I think?). The flavours were great, the ingredients top quality, but it was ice cold in the middle. I don’t know why coffee shops/cafes can’t figure out that YOU CAN’T COOK A BREAKFAST WRAP ON A PANINI PRESS. I expect multi-chain coffee shops to not know how to cook stuff. I expect Glowbal Group restaurants to know how to cook stuff and that includes Nosh. You can’t tell me that this didn’t come up in pre-launch testing? What a letdown.

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I’ll give Nosh another try soon, I work in the building so I’ll have ample opportunities. But please, PLEASE, figure out how to make that wrap hot all the way through. It’s not a one off, it’s a procedural problem. The panini press doesn’t cut it.

Scott.

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Quick Bite – Brunch at Kove Kitchen

Kove Kitchen, it’s one of my go to spots in Steveston for burgers, Belgian style beers, and waterfront views. I found out a while back that Kove does brunch, giggity! Brunch service runs weekends from 11am-3pm and features Kove’s awesome burgers along with breakfast dishes, small share plates and even a few salads ( what’s a salad?).

Fried Chicken and French Toast

Fried Chicken and French Toast

Kove does Fried Chicken and French Toast, a twist on the ever trendy fried chicken and waffles. You know what? French toast is better than waffles and I don’t care what you think about it. They soak up more syrup, they have a bit of cinnamon in the egg wash, and those 2 things send waffles crying to their mama. The fried chicken is made to order so you have to wait a bit but it’s worth it. tender, fresh, hot, well seasoned, good crunch. Really good fried chicken.

Kove Kitchen is located at 3900 Bayview street, right on the water tucked behind Hog Shack Cook House, in Richmond’s Steveston Village.

Twitter – @KoveKitchen

Facebook – thekovekitchen

Instagram – @kove_kitchen

I need to write more…

Scott.

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New Zealand, here I come.

Today is the 5 year anniversary of this blog, I honestly had no idea until I fired up the Chromebook to write this post. 5 years ago my micro preemie daughter had just come home from the hospital and now she’s a few months from kindergarten and I’m planning a trip to New Zealand. Time flies.

I don’t know what it is about New Zealand that intrigues me. I’m not a Lord Of The Rings guy or an Extreme Sports fan, probably the 2 most common reasons to visit. I’m also not very interested in the South Island, everyone says it looks exactly like BC and I live here so… North Island only for me. My flights and hotels are booked, I’ll give you a quick rundown of my journey.

Photo - Tourism New Zealand

Auckland Skyline. Photo – Tourism New Zealand

I’m flying to Auckland from YVR with a quick stop in San Francisco. 16+ hours including the stopover. I leave Vancouver early Saturday afternoon and arrive in Auckland just before 6am on Monday. Time zones are crazy. I’m there in mid November which is late Spring and the weather is pretty similar to Vancouver. I’ll be staying 9 nights at The Albion of Auckland, a 4 story walk up built in 1873. It’s cheap, the location is awesome, and it sounds like it’s a little rough around the edges, which suits me just fine.

Silo Park. Photo - newzealand-ryugaku.com

Silo Park. Photo – newzealand-ryugaku.com

Mount Eden. Photo - Wikipedia

Mount Eden. Photo – Wikipedia

Silo Park, a section of reclaimed industrial waterfront, and Mount Eden are 2 places that I plan to photograph. Photographic opportunities seem to be everywhere you look in Auckland, I’m excited to hit the streets, meet some people, and burn through some megapixels.

Downtown Wellington - Photo - Andy Radka

Downtown Wellington – Photo – Andy Radka

I’ll be flying to Wellington, which is at the south end of the North Island, for 3 nights. A return flight with a carry-on AND a checked bag was just over $200CAD. I’m staying at The Setup On Manners, a hotel that used to be an office building. It too is cheap, located right downtown, and looks pretty cool. I’m too old for hostels, but if you’re into it they are plentiful and very affordable in Wellington as well as Auckland. I’m planning to take in a soccer game while I’m in New Zealand, I’m even bringing my Whitecaps kit and a Southsiders scarf. I haven’t decided if it’ll be Auckland City FC or Wellington Phoenix.

Takapuna Beach. Photo - mymidnightmoon.com

Takapuna Beach. Photo – mymidnightmoon.com

I fly back to Auckland for 1 night before I head back to Vancouver. I decided to spoil myself a little so I booked 4.5 star hotel in Takapuna, a swanky suburb of North Shore City which sits just north of Auckland. The Spencer On Byron Hotel is one of the tallest buildings in Takapuna and has some great views. Fun Fact, Shania Twain’s “When You Kiss Me” video was filmed on Takapuna Beach. Thanks Wikipedia! My flight home is non-stop. I leave at 8pm on a Sunday and arrive at lunchtime on the same Sunday in Vancouver. It’s time travel, pretty much.

There are a ton of craft breweries in New Zealand, a country known for its beautiful hop varieties. I’ll be using the Beer Tourist New Zealand interactive maps a lot.

Have any tips? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram @wflbc or you can email me at wflbcscott@gmail.com.

Five and a half months until I take off, I can’t wait to share my journey with you!

Scott.

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