Monday, December 6, 2010

Obladee Wine Bar

Obladee is a wine bar on Barrington Street in Halifax, owned by siblings Heather and Christian Rankin. Their bar offers plenty of good wine by the glass options. The character of the place is warm and relaxing, making it an ideal spot for a drink after work or to meet friends before heading out to dinner.

There are a variety of seating options for larger groups and intimate parties alike, with fun little nooks and crannies tucked throughout the space. The bar has several unique features including two enclosed glass window seating areas, a spiral staircase and tables made from Glenora Distillery barrels.

Although Obladee focusses on wine rather than food they do have delicious cheese and charcuterie boards. There are also three good local beer choices on tap for those who prefer to sip a cold one.

Obladee is a fun spot to gather for drinks. The staff are friendly and more than willing to give suggestions. I quite enjoy the vibe here and the bar has quickly generated alot of buzz. The only downside to its popularity is that it can be challenging to find seats during peak times, so if you plan to meet a group for drinks it is best to arrive early. Another good option is to make your way there during the week when things are less busy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Film Rangefinder Experiment

Over the summer I was given an opportunity to shoot two rolls of film with a Contax G rangefinder camera. The camera, in near mint condition, was loaned to me by twitter follower Chris Jones (@betterlftunsaid), an avid black and white film shooter. Chris handed over his Contax loaded with a roll of Kodak TRI-X 400 ISO film, a spare roll and a promise to develop the images in his darkroom. Nice!

The Contax G series remains one of the most advanced, high quality 35mm film rangefinder cameras ever made. In the 90s it was marketed to the rich, but today with most people spending money on digital the G1 can be found used for an affordable price. The standard lens on this camera is the renowned Zeiss 45 mm f/2 planar, one of the sharpest lenses made for 35mm. This titanium beauty is built like a tank and the rangefinder design makes picture taking a simple pleasure.

I quickly became addicted to the simplicity of the camera and fell in love with the rangefinder design. The small size is easy on the shoulder and people are more relaxed as subjects when you bring the camera to your eye. Seeing the world through a finder vs single mirror reflex design is more immersive. Moments and expression are captured quickly, no fiddling through menus or buttons. The G series may just be the highest quality, easiest to use point and shoot camera ever made.

I forgot how fun it is shooting film. The creative process is different. Rather than the rapid-fire, machine gun approach one gets used to using digital, film requires a more intentional, reflective approach. A day of shooting often resulted in only a handful of exposures. In fact it took me most of the summer to get through a mere two rolls of film.

My favourite aspect shooting with this camera is its portability. After lugging around a heavy Canon 5D for an entire year as part of my daily photo project it was a joy to throw the rangefinder over the shoulder, wander the city and just shoot.

I would enjoy shooting regularly with the digital equivalent of this camera. Unfortunately, the only rangefinder design in digital format, that has a comparable-sized 'full frame' sensor size as 35mm film, is the Leica M9. At a mere $7,000 (without lenses!) the M9 is sadly out of reach. I am hopeful that in time more manufacturers will create affordable, interchangeable lens, full frame rangefinders.

A big thanks to Chris for loaning me this very cool camera. Check out his excellent black and white images on his website.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sleeping Baby

A friend's baby sleeping away the day. Sleeping babies are very peaceful. I wonder if they dream? I prefer them sleeping over pooping, screaming, barfing on me and so on.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Drunk on Pollen

This bee was moving very slow. It allowed for a clear shot.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Purple Flower

I have no idea what the heck this is.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gordie Sampson at the Carleton

Gordie Sampson put on a great show at the Carleton tonight. He is an amazing songwriter, I have alot of respect for the guy. A few guest stars including JP Cormier (pictured).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Brown-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia Hirta, variety pulcherrima, aka Brown-eyed Susan.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This is Tango, my brother in law's new dog. He's still a pup and has lot of energy. It wasn't easy to get him to sit still for a few poses. Windows of opportunity are brief with animals.

PS. This is not another project. I'm just posting random shots of things, every once and awhile, just because.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 365 - Stick a fork in me I'm done

Wow! I can't believe this is the end. It has been quite a journey. Although it felt like a marathon at times each day was its own special blend of interesting sights and fun adventures.

Photographing something different every single day did help keep my mind off cigarettes (one year smoke free) and it was a great way to get off the couch and out of the house.

From a technical standpoint my skills didn't improve much but I do think my vision sharpened. The project required me to slow down, study subjects more carefully and try different perspectives. Daily creative exercise is quite addictive.

Thanks everyone for the kind words and encouragement along the way, I really appreciated it. I'd like to thank my wife Leah in particular for her patience and creative input during this project.

Now that Project 365 has finished I'm going to rest for a bit. I will likely start up another project someday but for now I need a break.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 364 - Sangria

Sangria is a wine punch made for sunny afternoons and patios. It normally consists of a light, fruity unoaked wine; sliced fruit; sweetener; spirits; ice and in some cases carbonated soda. In spain we had our fair share of good sangria, though on the whole found them a tad too sugary. The ones we liked best had less sugar or were sweetened with spirits.

Day 362 - El Mercado de San Miguel

One afternoon we stumbled across El Mercado de San Miguel, a fantastic market in downtown Madrid. The market is essentially an enormous tapas bar with a fine bodega that sells wine by the glass. And mist machines to cool down. Nice. The rest of the afternoon turned into an impromptu tapas/wine tasting.

The bodega had a good selection of interesting bottles covering broad price points. Staff were friendly and helpful, and let you behind the counter to look through their selection.

We settled on a 2007 Garnacha from Bodega Alto Moncayo. Located in Campo de Borja, Alto Moncayo is known for making high quality wines of limited production. This 2007 Garnacha had a lovely nose, intense and layered, bright fruit, long finish, matched a wide variety of food.

We secured a seat at a standing table (not an easy task) and took turns bringing back food. One surprise came in the form of a pickle stuffed with tuna and olives on the side. Basically, it was a tuna sandwich without the bread. Simple. I've never been a fan of tuna spread but this combination was quite good. The Garnacha and dill pickle were surprisingly compatible.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 361 - Museo del Jamón

Spaniards have a serious obsession with pork. Everywhere you look, there is ham. A fun place to sample yummy cured spanish ham is at the Museo del Jamon. When we first saw their sign we thought it was an actual museum of ham, but on closer examination found out that it was in fact a store. It is part restaurant, part bar, part butcher, and 100% serious about ham.

The atmosphere in this ham utopia is quite vibrant. It offers exceptional value, the place has a wide selection of cured ham and beer that is among the cheapest in Madrid. It's a great place to grab a sandwich and beer, but is not really the kind of spot to have a sit down meal. The place was packed when we went for lunch.

Day 360 - Tapas

One of our favorite activities while in Spain was enjoying tapas. Tapas (derived from the Spanish verb tapar "to cover") is the name given to a wide variety of appetizers in Spanish cuisine. In Spain dinner is usually served quite late - between 9-11pm. This leaves alot of time between work and dinner. To fill this gap Spaniards often go to a bar or restaurant and eat tapas.

Bars and restaurant typically have a dozen or so different kinds of tapas on display. Ordering tapas takes some getting used to as it is self serve - just go up to the counter and get it - and the bill is derived at the end from counting the number of toothpicks on your plate. Once we got the hang of it, sampling tapas became a regular part of our daily routine.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 359 - The Hunt for Vega Sicilia

On our third afternoon in Madrid we went wine shopping. We were interested in finding a wine or two to 'lay down.' A friend told us to keep an eye out for any wines from Vega Sicilia, one of Spain's most iconic estates. A google of 'where to buy wine in Madrid' lead us to Lavignia, a huge store with an enormous selection of wines from across the globe. The bottom floor space is dedicated to Spain (displayed by region) and the top floor, all other countries.

Jackpot. Vega Sicilia's two traditional wines, Unico and Valbuena, were both available to taste at Lavinia - a '99 Unico and a '04 Valbuena. The '99 was well out of our price range to buy so we tried a nip of the Valbuena 2004, a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Malbec grapes.

We liked it. Lots of juicy fruit. The tannins are smooth yet have plenty of grip. It had an open, airy mouthfeel. This seems like a subtle, refined wine that will age nicely. We bought a bottle and look forward to seeing what it tastes like on our 10 year wedding anniversary.