New toy

For some reason, I’ve wanted to have a Hasselblad for quite some time. Made by Victor Hasselblad in Sweden, the 500C was introduced in 1957 and redesigned in 1970 as the 500C/M. It’s a medium format SLR and the camera of choice for many professional studio photographers. It is also a modular camera – not only you can remove the lens but also the back, where the film goes as well as a few other parts. It’s a beautiful machine, know for its quality and reliability and I’m today the proud owner of my own Hasselblad 500C/M with an 80mm f2.8 Planar lens. Alan went out to buy some film and came home with this nice surprise.

New Toy


Film isn’t dead

Some of you may be wondering about the post below. It all started a few weeks ago when Alan found some old medium format negatives sitting in a box and decided to scan them. We thought it would be nice to file the pictures in the computer. Our chins dropped to the floor as soon as we finished scanning the first negative – the amount of detail was simply unbelievable. As you can see from this photo, every line in the wood is clearly visible. It definitely took him back to the good old days. That’s when he started talking about getting another medium format film camera. After scouring ebay for days and reading many reviews, he settled on the Minolta Autocord, a twin lens reflex, considered one of the best among TLRs. He found such good deals on them that he bought two and gave me one. I have to say that I fell in love as soon as I looked through the ground glass viewfinder. Alan still has his old light meter so we can find out the right exposure and I can’t wait to try the camera out. But before we could take them out, he took one of the cameras to be cleaned and refurbished at this joy of a place that the folks at Downtown Camera recommended. The store was as far as one could possibly go through public transit but certainly worth the trip. While Alan got his camera, I snapped some pictures of some of the treasures in there:

Back in time

Back in time

Alan almost bought another camera while we were there. A Mamiya RB67:

Back in time

Back in time

Back in time

Back in time

Back in time

And this is the one I want (here shown in just the body, minus the back and the lens). Alas, I’ll have to wait until I get a job since it goes for anywhere around 1,100-1,500$:

Back in time

2008 in pictures

Once again, here is my year in pictures. Check out the 2006 and the 2007 editions.

January & February

Unlike the year before, when we were in Barcelona, our January and February in Toronto were pretty slow. Not much going on other than the occasional snow storm, of which there were many this year, to our delight!


We continued to enjoy the snow in Toronto and I showed some of my photographs at a talent show at Massey College


An academic conference took me to Chicago, a highly photogenic city!

View from hotel Cloud Gate Mummies! Admiring the view


In mid-May we left for a month in Spain. On our way, we stopped in Paris for a couple of days, during which we discovered the lovely Butte aux Cailles neighbourhood before taking the train to Barcelona where we enjoyed amazing cortados and celebrated my birthday with good friends.

Aeronaut ready Paris_080520_0010 Paris_080520_0023 Paris_080520_0054 Barcelona_080528_0128 Barcelona_080528_0150 Vonblum
Birthday 2008


A conference took us to Segovia. To get there, we took the high speed train (AVE) from Barcelona to Madrid, which traveled at over 300 km/h! Segovia proved to be a gorgeous town. Later in the month we were invited to a party at Lloret de Mar and took the chance to visit the nearby scenic town of Tossa de Mar and hiked from Tossa to Lloret. A very busy month!

Speeding to Madrid Segovia_080603_0379 Segovia_080603_0444 Segovia_080605_0337 Segovia_080606_0302 Barcelona_080614_0737 Barcelona_080614_0757 Barcelona_080615_0669 Barcelona_080614_0765 Wushu05 Jackie & Sylvie Self-evident Monument for the victims of 11-M


In July we enjoyed summer in Toronto and celebrated Canada Day and the many festivals that mark the summer months

Canada Day Our guide Dance Beaches


We rented a cottage for a week in Skeleton Lake, in the Muskokas and my family came to visit from Brazil.

Enjoying Turning weather High lake Familia Guerson

September & October

September came and went and before we realized, the leaves had turned and Fall was upon us. We cycled along the Don Valley and Janine and I took to the Word in the Street festival

Don Valley Tall Strength On the ground Victoria College


For Alan’s big 6-0 we had an impromptu dinner here in TO. This was a simple affair designed to distract Alan from the big surprise party on the works for him in Montreal. The Toronto party was a Brazilian kid’s party with balloons and brigadeiros and was a rather small affair. The week after we had to go to Montreal since Alan had a dentist appointment and surprise surprise when we took our hosts out for dinner on the saturday night we conveniently found nearly 20 of his closest friends waiting for us at the restaurant. It’s not easy to fool Alan and I was quite happy to see he was really surprised ;) I gave him a new bicycle and he went out exploring the Don Valley once again and snow came early.

Alan's Birthday Big 60 Party Big 60 Party Big 60 Big 60 Party Don Valley Snowy Toronto


We were adopted by our friends Norbert & Carole for Christmas and spent a lovely time with their family in Montreal. Carole loves Christmas and had a wonderful tree up. Most of the decorations were collected over many years of travel and some either represented family members (the family dog and cat are there as are decorations with the names of the kids and celebrating their first Christmas). I gave them a ball made of little bells to represent us. For the first time in years, it was a white Christmas from coast to coast in Canada.

Christmas 2008 Christmas 2008 Christmas 2008 Christmas 2008 Christmas 2008 Christmas 2008 Christmas 2008 Christmas 2008 Snowy Toronto Snow Snowy Toronto Snow & shadows

New toy for Christmas

It’s official. I’ve known it for a while but I finally have to admit that I need a new lens for my camera. I used to shoot with a Minolta SLR with a 50mm lens and was quite happy with it but every once in a while it would make me wish I had a wide angle lens. On the Nikon, because digital has a crop factor of 1.6x, the 50mm lens feels like an 80mm, which is a bit too close for most urban shots. It’s great for portraits but not so great for landscape. That means I’ve been relying mostly in my little point and shoot recently and I feel bad for leaving the D80 lying around. So it’s time for a new lens.

But will it be the Sigma 10-20mm

or the tamron 17-50mm?

Busy day in Madrid

After four weeks in Spain, we began our journey home early wednesday morning (June 18th) when we left the house at 7 AM to catch the 8:30 AVE to Madrid. The plan was to stay overnight in Madrid and catch the new Air Canada flight to Toronto. Although we don’t know Madrid very well – the weather prevented us from really enjoying the place last time we were there – we had quite the day meeting friends.
We arrived at 11:15 in Madrid and after checking in at our hotel, we went off exploring. The weather was much nicer than in our previous visit (a sunny 20 C) and we wandered the narrow streets of the Huertas (aka Barrio de las Letras) and the Plaza Mayor. For lunch, we took advantage of the tradition in this part of Spain of the tapeo – which basically consists of ordering a drink to get a free tapa at local bars and cervecerias. Luckily, in Madrid one can get a free tapa by ordering a very small glass of beer (a caña), smaller than a half pint. Here are some random pictures of our wanderings:

Click here for slideshow

After a short nap, we went off to Atocha station to meet a friend from the blogosphere – Erin, the wandering woman. I was so happy to be able to meet her in Spain, a place we both like so much. Erin is a true free spirit and it was so easy to wile away the afternoon in a shady spot of Plaza Santa Ana, hearing about her exciting plans for the future and her experiences on the camino de Santiago.

After accompanying Erin back to the train station, we visited the memorial for the victims of the 2004 Madrid bombings. Hundreds died when bombs were simultaneously detonated in commuter trains arriving at Atocha station and last year a memorial was inaugurated to remember the victims. It is quite a moving site. You can see a picture of it in the slideshow above.

After resting a bit at the hotel, we met Mireia, a friend from Barcelona who is in Madrid on business, her colleague Lydia, and Yaniré, a Chilean we met in Barcelona who has since moved to Madrid after marrying her long-time madrileño boyfriend. It was great seeing Yaniré again after over a year. We had tapas and beer at a local bar until past 1 AM and it was a great end to our month in Spain. We have no idea when we will be back since I have decided not to make any travel plans until I’m finished my dissertation. But I’m finally mentally ready to get it over with so hopefully I can finish within the next 12 months.

Butte aux Cailles

Butte aux caillesThe Butte aux Cailles started out as a working-class village that sprang to house the workers of the factories that used to dot the 13th arrondissement. It was one of the last strongholds of the Paris Commune revolt in 1871 and was largely untouched by the Haussmanian remake of Paris into the city we know today. Today, the neighbourhood has both a Bohemian flair, with its neat boutiques and bars – with nary a chain store in sight – and a small village feel, with its narrow streets dotted with children playing. Best of all, the crowds of tourists and the multilingual menus advertising steak frites and onion soup seem to have stayed in the Quartier Latin.
Continue reading “Butte aux Cailles”

New toy

It hasn’t been long since I bought my DSLR last summer, but today I went out and bought myself a new camera, a Canon Powershot A650 IS

New camera 

I love my Nikon but the truth is, I really needed a camera I could carry around with me at all times. I often see amazing scenes on my way to school or quick snapshots for the blog. Carrying around my DSLR on top of all the books I lug around all day is not my idea of fun. In addition, I also needed a camera for taking pictures of documents and articles at the library or archives. In order to do that with my Nikon, I’d have needed a new lens that would be fast enough to handle the low light indoors and have macro capabilities. Such a lens would have cost a lot more than a fully-featured point-and-shoot camera such as the A650 IS.I can’t wait to take it out for a stroll and as soon as I do, I’ll show you the results!