Mark on February 19th, 2010

Canadian flag decal in Yaletown.


On Granville Street, people watchers catch the sun on the edges of a pub patio.


Capturing a band performance on the steps of Vancouver Art Gallery.


A dash through the crowd, with a Canadian flag flying. Granville Street.


Exuberant fans outside a Vancouver fast food joint, Granville Street.


Trading pins, at the corner of Robson and Howe Street.

All photos shot with Canon G10; converted to grayscale in Aperture.

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Mark on February 19th, 2010
Commuter waits for SkyTrain

Waiting in the sunshine for a Canada Line train. iPhone photo, massaged with CameraBag.

This one’s for my students.

You get better by doing, which means always practicing. It’s not about the assignments and the grades; it’s about going out and pushing.

Challenge yourself.

Take your camera out today and shoot as though cropping had never been invented. Make every pixel in every image count.

Take a walk through the neighbourhood of our choice and find a story. Research it. Write it or photograph it or video it.

Head downtown into the Olympic madness, pick a storyline and flipbook it.

Whatever. Challenge yourself: “Today, I want to learn how to….”

And, regardless of how it turns out, publish it, promote it and ask for feedback. Examine, critically, what you’ve done.

Learn from it.

Then go do it again.

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Mark on February 18th, 2010

Reflections in window merge with those outside Bean Around the World, across from Victory Park in Vancouvr. Canon G10

Strong sunlight, strong shadows on a glorious — and warm — late winter day in Vancouver. Canon G10

Podium pictures on Granville Street. Canon G10

Singer Mark Downey

Mark Downey signs at Irish House, while snowboarding is projected against the rear wall of the tent. Canon G10

Mark Downey and Mary Brunner at Irish House. Canon G10

Sled dogs and muckluck-ed northerns promote Northern House on a street corner in Yaletown. Canon G10

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Mark on February 17th, 2010

We journalists love our aphorisms. One of them popped into my Tweet stream this morning:

“News is something everyone wants to repress. The rest is advertising.”

(The most-loved it would seem, based on how often we hear it, is: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”)

All such sayings are cute and pithy. They trip lightly off the tongue. But they are gift horses whose mouths clearly need to be examined.

“News is something everyone wants to repress. The rest is advertising.” Umm, no. If you think that’s true, what’s the advertising message of the Haitian earthquake?

It sounds good. It makes journalists burst with pride at the special job they do of digging where the bodies may be, but it ignores the reality that while getting to the stuff no-one wants us to know is vital, it is hardly the biggest part of what most journalism is.

Like most aphorisms, it captures a bit of the truth, but nowhere near all of it, and it carries a disparaging tone for any storytelling that isn’t someone else’s secret. At its base — and at the base of the “if your mother says…” bit — is a sneer. These are not the aphorisms of questing journalists; they are the shorthand of the cynical.

In the past, I used these in various newsrooms. Now, in the classroom, I find myself urging students to know them, but to reject them, to think deeper about what lies behind them and which small bits of truth they contain might be useful.

Am I making too much of this? Possibly. But journalists, more than anyone, should be tuned into the power of words. Some new journalism aphorisms that contain a touch of humility, in place of great slabs of cynicism, might not be amiss.

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Mark on February 14th, 2010
Turkish musicians Group Truva.

My favourite shot from last night's performance by Group Truva, at the Vancouver Cafe on the edge of Yaletown in downtown Vancouver. Canon G10 photo

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Mark on February 9th, 2010

The doorway to the Landmark Hot Pot House, Cambie Street, Vancouver, decked out for Chinese New Years. iPhone photo; Lolo filter in CameraBag app.

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Mark on February 8th, 2010
wire-link fence

The Grays Park basketball court, through the enclosing fence. iPhone photo, through CameraBag app.


Cambie Street streelights

Flame-like lights top Cambie Street streetlights as Vancouver dresses up for the Olympics. iPhone photo.

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Mark on February 5th, 2010
Nighttime store front

A small Filipino market, shut down for the night, on Main Street in Vancouver. iPhone photo, with Helga effect from CameraBag, sharpened in Photoshop.

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Mark on January 31st, 2010

Park bench memorial

A somber park bench memorial in Vancouver’s Grey’s Park, in memory of 15-year-old Deeward Pontes, a young Canadian who died after being stabbed at the park two years ago.

(iPhone photo, massaged with the Lo-Mob app.)

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Mark on January 30th, 2010

The blog has been resurrected after the hacker attack.

Things are still a bit of a mess around here — category menus don’t work, for instance — but the content has almost all been restored. That’s only because I use a WP plug-in that backs up my database once a week and emails me the result. Without that, six years og blog posts would have disappeared.

As part of the site re-do, I’ve gone with strong passwords for every bit of it. I won’t be changing permissions for any files on the server unless I absolutely have to. I’ve gone to the latest WP software (which I wasn’t able to do earlier because my host didn’t have the right version of PHP), and made sure all plugins have been updated.

And I’ll be spending some time with the results of a Google search for WP security to see what else I can do to make this as watertight as possible. Hackers, I suspect, are much like sneak thieves: I may never have total protection, but if I make it hard enough to get in here, they’ll move onto to a website that’s easier to attack.

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