Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Curved Element

It was insane foggy yesterday. Total white out in the south part of the city. After shooting a family portrait session in the Civ Gardens complex I went for a drive - sans model - and shot some hopefully cool stuff which I will edit soon. This shot was of my 2008 Honda Element in a cemetary. Aside from blurring the license plate, the only thing done was a blending layer and some serious jinking around with curves.

Also had another annoying experience with batteries being eaten up super fast by the flash: within 75 pics the flash cycling time was not great at all. They are Energizer Rechargeable 250mAh NiMH's. Had to be when a moving target like a 2 year old was finally still. Had to do a quick swap for a third set and luckily it lasted fine for well for the balance of the shoot and the rest of the day. I think I have one set of batteries which are either much older or more worn out and dont hold a charge too well anymore. And now I have them isolated from the others (which I didnt have time to figure out and do last time it happened). I went to Walmart and got another set last night, but it's not often I will shoot that much I guess.

Started to look for some cheap alternative to Pocket Wizards. Pocket Wizards are out of my price range, but I would really like to have a couple. If anyone uses something that works, let me know.


Mike Wood Photography

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ten Years on

I dont expect too many people to read this today given it is Christmas, but today is the tenth anniversary of my mom's death in 1998. Tough to not think of her at this time. Seems like forever she has been gone. And at other times it seems like just yesterday.

Christmases growing up were always a small affair with my family. Just me, my parents and my brother. My Nana would come over for dinner but not often, and she passed away in 1979. They were never times of lots of traveling or tons of relatives around. My uncles live in Florida and in Spain. So we never saw them much and we never went on vacation to visit either growing up.

It has been probably close to 25-30 years since I saw my Uncle Murray - who is in Madrid, and a few years since I saw my Uncle Rob when I was last in Naples, Florida. Curiously it was after my mom died that I got in touch with my mom's cousin in New Zealand. She is the family historian and I learned quite a few things about the family through her. I never would have visited my great great grandfather's ship, The Star of India, in San Diego had it not been for her.

Christmases always started with stockings on the doorknobs of the bedrooms - we had no fireplace. Well not a real one. So I am not exactly sure how Santa got in... And I remember amongst the small presents, Mandarin oranges in the stockings. We never had tons of presents but my brother and I never really wanted for anything growing up. I can recall getting one of the first cassette tape, am/fm radio Sony Walkmans one year. The ones that were a size of a brick. :) But we always got a ton of Lego.

Christmas was always turkey- like most people, and I recall Christmas pudding which was set on fire and had a brilliant blue flame. I was never sure what the alcohol was, though a quick google tells me it was brandy. Lots of alcohol for sure - though we were not allowed to have a big piece or any at all depending on how old we were. Later, when my parents were retired, it was more of a simple meal but always very good. My mom was always a good cook. :) I miss her Shepard's pie and lasagna. And hearing her voice. And that of my dad too of course.

Biggest Christmas dinners I ever had were with my ex's family when we were together. Three or four generations at one or two tables at her parent's place here in London. Maybe 12-15 people in all. I was at one of those Christmas's in 1998 when I got the call late in the morning or early in the afternoon from Toronto that my mom had passed away in St. Michael's Hospital Palliative Care ward. My bro and dad were there. I had been there that morning with my ex quite early before driving to London. I got to say my good byes but I wasn't there when she passed. And I felt bad for that. On some levels I still do.

It was tough in the following years to be 'happy' on Christmas with my ex's family. Can't help but think about sad things on that day. This day. I know it was a bit of a downer for those around me and they all tried to take my mind of it and stuff. And to a degree it worked. They are good people to say the least.

Being single now, I don't celebrate Christmas. I avoid all things with it. Well perhaps that's too harsh. I choose to not be involved in the season - and politely decline invitations to things. It is my day to be alone. Besides, Christmas is now much less about someone who was nailed to a cross a couple of milennia ago in a far off land. It is pretty much just a commercial exercise that the retail economy depends on full force.

I won't go near a mall in late November and all of December. I never liked big crowds in the first place, and in a way its great I dont need to fight them. Though there is nothing like Walmart at midnite for shopping - even in the middle of a snowstorm like on the 22nd of December. :) The only insanity I experienced this month was hitting the LCBO with someone from work yesterday on the way home. It was a zoo with each cashier having 20 or more people lined up. But I have Baileys now. :)

It is Grinch like to some people not in the know, but it is my choice and I am fine with it. And this year, for the first time in my life, I have really no money for presents or to entertain - or barely to survive and pay bills, so it is a super quiet day for me. I might even go see a movie with all the Jewish and Asian folks. That would actually be amusing. :) I will go out and shoot a couple of pics with the blue sky and white snow though.

Yvonne Marion Land ( later Wood)

Speaking of images, that photo is a scan of a 4x5 inch print of my mom wearing a kimono taken during Christmas at 45 Kitano-Cho in Kobe, Japan in the mid 1930s. While she and my uncles were British, they were born in Japan while my grandfather was working there in the pre war years. They all left Japan before the war. My Uncle Murray said that tree was of the sort that seemed to appear as if by magic on Christmas morning, the adults decorating it and the house after the children had gone to bed on Christmas Eve. Joan places the image in 1937. She said my mom and Joan always wore Japanese clothes at Christmas. Joan said that she kept her kimono long after she outgrew it and her mom eventually turned it into a dress for her when she was living in Rangoon, Burma.

I made a high res scan and worked it in Photoshop for a bit to remove some age related scratches, dust and such. I can make a good sized print out of it now and sent a copy to my brother. There is certainly a resemblance between my niece Jillian and my mom looking at this and a recent shot my brother sent me. They are even about the same age I think.

This was the first time I tried to restore an older image and I liked the results.

** If the image didnt import into Facebook, take a look at it on the original post on my blog.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Mike Wood Photography

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ribbons and Bows

Ribbons and Bows, 2008

Present on a snowy hill, 2008

"There are a lot of things you can do with ribbons. During the holiday season, Christmas Ribbons are highly popular in the market. It not only adds beauty to a present you have wrapped, but shows your creativity as well." - from

Merry Christmas everyone. :)


Mike Wood Photography

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Promo video

My good friend Luke followed me around one afternoon in the summer while I photographed Violet. There will likely be another one shot in 2009 when it is warmer. I plan on putting a version on my site over the holidays too. The 24MB M4V version of the video is so much better than the scaled down YouTube version

Violet composed the soundtrack to it called "Radar Blip" and has some other tunes on the go too that I heard yesterday - with vocals- which are fantastic.

The video has a brief flash of nudity - of the "side boob" variety, so those reading this on Facebook will have to check out the video on my blog.


Mike Wood Photography

Friday, December 19, 2008

An Umbrella Corp summer

Red and White #5, 2008

Miss Lizzz on the North shore of Lake Erie in early September, 2008. She is using a golf club inspired umbrella found earlier in the summer somewhere in Raccoon City. ;)

Red and White #4, 2008

Red and White #3, 2008

Red and White #2, 2008

Red and White, 2008

Miss Lizzz on the North shore of Lake Erie in early September, 2008. She is using a golf club inspired umbrella found earlier in the summer somewhere in Raccoon City. ;)


Sunday, December 14, 2008

An automotive parable

This was sent by friends on Friday and thought it was a good observation on the ethos of the car industry. Can't vouch for the facts being accurate, but I am sure it could equally could apply to GM and Chrysler, and Honda and Nissan.

A Modern Parable.

A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (Ford Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 7 people steering and 2 people rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order; American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 2 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2 people rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rowers. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses. The pension program was trimmed to 'equal the competition' and some of the resultant savings were channeled into morale boosting programs and teamwork posters.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid-off one rower, halted development of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses.

The next year, try as he might, the lone designated rower was unable to even finish the race (having no paddles,) so he was laid off for unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India.

Sadly, the End.

Here's something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US, claiming they can't make money paying American wages.
TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US. The last quarter's results: TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.
Ford folks are still scratching their heads, and collecting bonuses... and now (along with Chrysler and GM) wants the Government to 'bail them out'.

Aside from the canoe race, it's sad, but true.


Mike Wood Photography

Friday, December 12, 2008

'anti-Marilyn' pin-up Bettie Page dies at 85.

Bettie Page in Miami - by Bunny Yeager in 1954

Bettie Page, arguably the most famous post WWII pinup model died yesterday evening in LA at the age of 85.

Her agent Mark Roesler said in a statement on - which also has an excellent bio/obit:
"With deep personal sadness I must announce that my dear friend and client Bettie Page passed away at 6:41pm PST this evening in a Los Angeles hospital. She died peacefully but had never regained consciousness after suffering a heart attack nine days ago.

She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality. She is the embodiment of beauty."

This tribute comes from a review of The Notorious Bettie Page, the 2005 biopic that follows her (somewhat inaccurately) from her Nashville years up to the end of her magazine career:
If you can tell a society by its smut, America in the 1950s couldn't have been just a Frigidaire of repressive hysteria. Hidden somewhere in the closets of Pleasantville and Peyton Place, after all, was a stack of fetish mags bearing the face and hourglass figure of Bettie Page, and all the mysteries they contain. Here was a brunette Amazon in a sea of soft and curvy blondes -- an anti-Marilyn, dominant and demanding where Monroe was compliant -- who deflected the ravenous gaze of strokebook buyers with a look of defiant self-possession.

At the same time, the kinkier the scenario--be it girl-girl slap-and-tickle or a little night music for gag and rope harness--the more she looked like a giggly teen at a pajama party. By the 1980s, when Page reemerged as a pulp icon, her combination of severe bangs, growled come-hithers, and strapping poses served as camp, nostalgia, an emblem of postfeminist subversion, and a fantasy figure for tops as well as bottoms. In her photos and one-reelers, she has the ingredient perhaps most crucial for obsession: an image capable of reflecting anything a viewer projects onto it.

Page began giving interviews again in the 1990s after a 40 year hiatus, but wouldn't allow reporters to take her picture, figuring fans would prefer to remember the sultry sexpot she once was, or, as she told the Los Angeles Times in 2006:

"I want to be remembered as the woman who changed people's perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form."

More here at the IHT and Reuters, Time (a great obit), Bloomberg, and E!Online, but curiously no CNN post despite her passing some 9 hours ago.

** edit @12 noon 12/12/08. I saw that CNN now has an obit for Bettie Page in their Top Entertainment Stories section. Not their front page or even as a lead on their Entertainment page. It ends with:
A private funeral service is planned for Tuesday. Page will buried at Westwood Cemetery in Los Angeles, just a few feet away from Monroe.


Mike Wood Photography

With Turbine

With Turbine, 2008

Leia standing with one of the Erie Shores Wind Farm turbines that are scattered on the north side of Lake Erie in Ontario.

The Erie Shores Wind Farm is a large wind farm near Port Burwell, Ontario. It stretches approximately 8km to the west of the town, and 16km to the southeast. It was officially opened on April 13, 2006. The project comprises 66 1.5MW turbines manufactured by GE. Each turbine is 77m in diameter, and is mounted on an 80m tubular tower. -- from the Wikipedia entry

All images on my blog, main page, and anywhere else you might find them are ARR -all rights reserved. They may not be used on any site, blog or other media without my permission.


Mike Wood Photography

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ceeps and a Dart

Ceeps and a Dart

The 1890s vintage Ceeps (short for CPs or Canadian Pacific Railway) and Barney's building at the corner of Richmond and Mill Streets in downtown London. Both are longtime bars in London with Barney's on the left having a huge patio and is quite popular in the summer. The ceeps has cheep $2 beer. The car is a two door early 1970s Dodge Dart 'Swinger'.

If anyone knows the building, I cleaned it up a bit with the removal of several items to give it a more 1970s feel to it. Removed the monster huge satellite dish above the outdoor bar for one. :)

Shot in June 2008, with an Olympus Stylus point n shoot.


Mike Wood Photography

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gooderham Building, 1989

Gooderham Building, 1990

This is a scanned 35mm film shot of the Gooderham Building in downtown Toronto. This five story wedged shaped building was completed in 1892 and predates New York City's more famous Flatiron Building by ten years. It was commissioned by George Gooderham to house the head offices of his Gooderham & Worts distillery which was located further East down Front Street.

In the background is the 53 story Canada Trust Tower still under construction in the summer of 1989. It was completed in 1990. Almost a full century after the Gooderham Building.


Mike Wood Photography

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Patricia Piccinini

The Long Awaited, © Patricia Piccinini

Here is some strange artwork. Not sure what to make of it except its wierd. I found out about Australian artist Patricia Piccinini via Conscientious the other day. Her work involves morphing of man and animal as in the Merman like creature lying on the boy's lap in The Long Awaited. That one is a silicone, fiberglass, plywood, human hair and clothing sculpture measuring 152 x 80 x 92cm. Check out the pig like creatures in 'We Are Family' on her page too. Its cool and strange stuff from down under.


Mike Wood Photography

Friday, December 5, 2008

Corey Outdoors #1

Amongst trees , 2008

Corey and I wanted to shoot some outdoor nude images. Well I did, and I knew my super friend and model Corey is always up for that so we headed to a small treed area on the north edge of the city near my place. This was when it was still quite warm outside. Not in December... :)

The trees were on the edge of a farmer's field where the corn was pretty much good to go and I hoped we didn't need to go too deep into the forest to find a good spot for shooting.

As it happened, a short way down a footpath we came across this dead tree stripped of its bark and well attacked by woodpeckers and standing out from all the others in the area. It was in a small clearing that was used by local kids to party given the fire pit and beer cans and other crap.

As the mosquitoes were getting the better of one of us - the one who had less clothes on and had declined the bug spray... it was a brief shoot. But a really good one. Looking at these pics a couple of months later, makes me wish I lived in a warmer climate. Summer is so short here.

Amongst trees, #2, 2008

Amongst trees #3, 2008

Amongst trees #4, 2008

In search of the Black Sox, 2008


Mike Wood Photography

** For those of you on Facebook reading this, I removed the images as they contain nudity. Check out the actual post on my blog.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The girl from "Migrant Mother"

Image via CNN.

I read on CNN last nite about one of the children in the famous image by Dorothea Lange that I wrote about in an August post. Migrant Mother was shot for the Farm Security Administration in February 1936 in Nipomo California during the Great Depression. It is a classic image. Perhaps the classic image of 1930s America. Reading about Katherine McIntosh, who turns 77 on Saturday, was quite interesting. She was only 4yrs old when the image was shot. And in the above CNN photo you can see her mom in her eyes. Florence Owens Thompson, the mother in the image, died at the age of 80 in 1983. Her gravestone says: "Migrant Mother: A Legend of the strength of American motherhood."

Makes you wonder, if things get worse, what the iconic images of the current worsening economic times will be when people look back in 50 to 75 years.


Mike Wood Photography

Film Scan

Boat 11, 1988

A low res film scan of a shot I made in about 1988. A Metropolitan Toronto Police Service Marine Unit boat is passing through the Western Gap of Toronto Harbour with the Toronto Island Airport control tower in the background. Image was taken from the seawall from the South side of Bathurst Quay (behind Canada Malting).

According to the archive on, C & C Marine Svc & Recovery of Toronto purchased the former police boat MTP 11 in October of 2000.

It was shot when I lived in Toronto and worked on the waterfront. At the time I used to do security for Harbourfront Centre - and eventually became head of the department. I didn't carry my camera with me at work, but I have always enjoyed being around water, ships, and the lakes so I would often on my days off wander down around the area.

The camera was a 35mm Nikon FG SLR that was a present a couple of years before from my parents for Christmas or my birthday. I know it was winter at any rate and it was bought from Blacks Camera.

I dont have many scans of that time, though I do have a lot of the film. I just gtabbed a few strips at random earlier in the year for scanning and when archiving pics last week I came across the CD. If I could get my hands on a high res film scanner I would do up more. Scanning it in at a commercial place by a blue vest wearing part timer who doesnt know the resolution or outputted file sizes of the scans isnt great. But I wanted to try it out.

I know there are quite a few good pictures kicking around. And quite a few not so artistic shots, but they are still fun to look at. At least to me anyhow. :) Maybe I will post a few more another time.

And yeah. I was a Nikon man once, shhhhh :)


Mike Wood Photography

Monday, December 1, 2008

Images in Starbucks during December

For from now through New Year's, I have four sepia toned images on display and for sale in the Starbucks at Central Ave and Richmond Street in London. I guess you could say it is a solo show. Not a gallery exactly, but it is a small high traffic gallery in which people sit and drink coffee - as Morgan put it. :)

I won't be in there except to check up on the images now and then, but if you happen to be downtown and warming up after skating or checking out the lights in Victoria Park, pop in and have a nice grande chai tea latte and have a look.

Or you could order a Non fat half caff triple grande quarter sweet sugar free vanilla non-fat lactaid extra hot extra foamy caramel macchiato, which would give you more time to look while the poor barista tries to build that for you -but seriously don't order that. :)


Mike Wood Photography