Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Email To An Edmonton Gallery

Just wrote this to some friends at an Edmonton gallery I have exhibited at before. I thought I would share part of it here as an update on my "The Families of the Dump" and "Forgotten Laughter". Thoughts. Hopefully we can show at this gallery again or at some other Western Canada spaces.

Here is part of the email:


Thanks S-----

Am currently in Bangkok. Will be off to the Mae Sot garbage dump in a few days to make donations and continue my project "Forgotten Laughter" about the Burmese refugee children who work the dump. Almost by accident raised over $1000 plus 80 hats, 7 safety rubber boots, toys and children's clothing to hand out to the families and school. Have two 50lb bags loaded down with the donations in my Bangkok hotel room as I type to you.

Will send you folks a submission of the photo work later. Also want to incorporate found dump objects (bringing stuff back to Canada), video and written blogs in any possible exhibition. I want the viewer to have as 3D an experience as possible. Maybe putting the found dump objects in a glass container of some kind. The idea being the viewer could take off a lid and smell the world the children live in. Want to hit people hard in the gut with the reality these young children face 24/7!!!

Thanks Gerry

Shooting Digi!

First thought on shooting a digital DSLR is tat "it is weird!". Having the immediate feedback is great but it also shows you what garbage your shooting straight off. There is no false hope of what the captures are, you see the crap your shooting immediately. It is much easier to see what changes in shutter speeds and f-stops do, you can play and get the exact effect your after. You folks out there in Internet land know all of this but for me a lifetime film shooter this is all a bit jarring.

One thing I really love about digi is the possibility of shooting in very low light situations. My camera the Canon 5D Mark ll is an older model but still greatly out performs what I can do with pushed Tri-x. I shot at ASA 2000 several times yesterday. The ability to change ASA as you go, to have auto focus and see what's happening quickly allows for the ultimate in quick photography of people. I still am using the manual on the camera which allows me to control light better but is a bit slower. Another great thing is you do not run out of film at the wrong moments! Something that happened to me several times with the Rollie today.

So far I am having fun with digi camera but still love the look and feel of film much better.

My First Day

My first day was so so. I left the room around 7am, it was already Farley hot. I handed out the photos and said hello to the people who live under the free way , Khune Anapon and Khune Ooh. Then walked down the train tracks to explore. I did not find to much but eventually made it to the Klong Toey subway station and the heart of Bangkok Sukhumvit road.

On Sukhumvit road I did a bit of uninspired photography of some homeless people sleeping alongside people walking to work. Did a lot of walking but did not feel much inspired by what I saw. Visited the tourist sex bar area of Nana on Soi 4 (street 4) and was surprised many of the beer bars were open at 910am. Who the hell needs booze and sex workers at 9 in the morning! Do these foreign sex tourist dudes guys wake up lusting to get wasted and laid? Heck the bar just closed around 2am, not enough last night? I asked a local taxi tout who was looking for gullible tourists what time the bar opened, he told me 8 or 830am. WOW!

The only positive photo sequence of the day was a series I shot with Rollie of isolated people waking past me on busy Sukhunvit road with a neutral background. I tried to capture them as they quickly walked past. Hard type shooting with iffy focusing at best. I shot everything at 1/250 and f 4 or 5.6. Ended up shooting around 10 rolls this way, possibly a waste of fin, am far from sure this worked at all. This style of photo was inspired by Walker Evens and Harry Callahan. The Rolleiflex works well for this type of photography, most folks do not know what your holding or that your photographing. Hope I got something out of all those rolls. If it works will try again the future. For now thou I want to save my 120 film for the families at the dump.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Am In Bangkok!!

Arrived here in Bangkok at around noon. There was an hour delay coming out of Taiwan that put me a bit behind schedule but things worked out well. I gathered my bags, four in total, got some money then headed out to the departure taxis. Had to lift my bags over a fence to get then to these  taxis. The airport folks like you to go through the arrival area where you pay a higher fee, sneaking out at departure as I did saves you a bit. A soon as I got over the fence a taxi driver approached to help with my bags.

The drive from the airport to my Klong Toey slum hotel was VERY talkative. I have not spoken that much Thai in quite a while, basically it was like 40+ minutes of gabbing. I did not get all of it but most was understood, maybe 80% or more. The driver was a nice man of 32, a wife and 8 year old boy, no second wife (fairly common here). He spoke kindly even lovingly of his wife, he said that she was the boss and nagged him if he did not bring enough money hone after work. The man (Khun Jahn) was not a drinker or smoker (not sure if the non drinking part was true). He had driven a taxi for 5 years and liked it except for traffic jams. As we drove there was a 7 km stoppage of traffic heading back the other way  to th airport. The driver told me "No red lights but the cars are all stopped!". Anyway a nice guy who got me right to the door of my hotel (most drivers have a hard time finding this hotel). I ended up giving him a good 40 baht tip. The taxi cost was 300 baht ($11.10 CAD) plus 75 baht for tollways. Did not save any money in the end but had a nice conversation and the the driver made a bit more instead of the airport. His wife will be happy!

I checked into my hotel and got a 10% discount, the per night rate is 765 baht ($28.30 CAD). Then went up to my room unpacked and ordered some food. I chose khao pud moo (fried rice with pork) and tom yum goong (spicy shrimp soup). With a 20 baht tip the cost was 220 baht ($8.14 CAD).

Then I laid down for a 2 hour nap and woke up 12 hours later at 230am!! Gosh even thou I slept 8 hours or so on plane #2 from Vancouver to Taipei I was still very tired. Now I am rested and ready to go! Will go to a local 7/11 to get some supplies and food then head out for a days shooting in the nearby slum. Will go first to meet the folks who live under the freeway (have some photos to give them) then the Muey Thai boxers at the slum gym and the local migrant workers living in the temp housing unit.

The adventure begins today! "Ain't Photography Grand!!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Meeting Folks

One of the coolest parts of traveling is all the people you meet along the way. The first folks of this trip are a Filipino family at the Edmonton airport. Four people a dad, mom plus a young daughter  5 years and son 2 years 4 months. They are all headed to some place 9 hours bus ride from Manila. Nice friendly people as most Filipinos I have met are. The young boy who is maybe is not speaking yet which has to be worrisome to the parents. What age do children usually stat speaking?

Starting Well

Am at the Edmonton airport waiting for the first of 3 flights that will eventually get me to Bangkok.  So far so good, I got my 2 check in bags on the planes both listed as HEAVY but legal, no extra costs. One bag weighed in at 50.4 pounds the secon at 50.8 pounds, my max weight allowed is 50lbs. I was also able to get all my roll film hand checked (160 rolls 120mm and 50 rolls 35mm). I even got a bunch of praise "Your fighting the good fight", "Keep up the good work!" From the airport security officer who hand checked my film. I x-rayed one box of 5x7 sheet film that I brought with me and some loose rolls of 35mm in my bag and in my cameras.

Taking The DSLR!

At work last night I stumbled on a photog who shot at the dump using a DSLR. some good work and some night photos as well. I have decided to take my CANON 5D Mark ll and 24mm f 1.4 lens with me to Asia. Not sure this is the right thing to do but I need to give this a go. I bought a 64gb storage card today.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Weighing The Bags

Well am down to my final packing now and the weighing of the bags. All the weighing was done with my handy dandy digital travel scale.

Check in bag #1:
- 50lbs to 50.7lbs
- 7 pairs of rubber safety boots
- 1 pair of child boots, pink (donated by my work friends young daughter)
- 8/10 young girl dresses (donated by my work friends young daughter)
- hats maybe 15

Check in bag #2:
- 44.8lbs
- hats, hats and more hats, all styles around 70 or so
- dolls and other toy figures (donated by my work friends young daughter)
- camera accessories, tripod, my clothes, clear bags for found dump item collection, 2 packs small
  b/w photos to hand out, a few colour photos to hand out.

Carry on bag #1 I cannot check in my film or it will be X-rayed and destroyed.
- 21lbs
- film, 160 rolls Tx 120, 1 box 50 sheet Tx 5x7, 50 rolls Tx 35mm
- film changing tent bag
- old iPad

Carry on bag #2. Technically not allowed but I use it to carry my cameras like a woman's purse. I cannot check in my cameras, they might be stolen or damaged.
- 13lbs
- Rolleiflex F 2.8
- Plaubel Makina 67
- Lecia M6 with Tri-Elmar-M lens
- Nikon flash
- Small meter
- Sony RX100II digital camera
- RE video camera

Gear Pic

Getting down to my final packing. Here is a photo of the photo gear I will probably be taking along with my 5x7 stuff which is already being stored in Thai. I made the photo with my new/used Sony RX100II which will also be going to Asia.

The cameras are a Plaubel Makina 67, a Rolleiflex F 2.8 and a Leica M6 with Tri-Elmar-M lens (28-35-50mm). At the top of the picture is the tiny RE video camera (go pro competitor), I will use this video camera to do point of view video when I am making some of my still images. I can use the video later online and in exhibitions.

Trip Gear

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Possibilities!!!

The trip is quickly approaching and I am starting to get excited. People here at work keep wishing me well, a safe trip etc. Probably more than 10 folks so far. The donation work will be rewarding, the travel and transporting bags will be painful but what I am really looking forward to is MAKING PICTURES!

The picture making possibilities are endless. To walk with a camera creating photos, oh the joy of it! The shear beauty, happiness and excitement of looking for, finding and then making photographs! Life does not get better than that. What will be created? The possibilities are endless. My excitement grows! Bring the trip on, lets get to this!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Paul's 8x10 Print Finished

I managed to finish the Paul in England "Forgotten Laughter"print tonight. It is all packed up and ready to be sent out tomorrow or the next day. This is the print I am giving out as payment for some small 43mm filters I got off eBay.

This is not really a great deal financially but some how it just seemed the right thing to do. I do not get a lot of request for photographs and when Paul asked for a small print, I had to do it for him. Who knows this might lead to more education and understanding about the lives of the "The Families of the Dump". I signed, dated, titled and printed the photograph to archival standards (no mat board as mounting with dry mount tissue is not archival).

I hope Paul likes the print, I will use his yellow 43mm filter this coming trip to Thai. This young Karen child lives in the garbage dump in Mae Sot, now her story will be told as it hangs on a wall in Manchester England. Her life, her experience will be remembered, and hopefully learned from.

Paul's 8x10 print with shipping tube, plastic protective envelope and spotting dyes

Print Buy, $500

Chris a man I work with who donated $180 to the families last time round has asked me to print him up some photos. I will print up 5 for him at the cheaper price of $100 per print (11x14s). Chris selected 5 photos from a group I gave him on a USB stick a while back. He told me he would drop off his selections later this week. I will print them on my return to Canada, probably get them back to him in June/July 2016.

I will use that $500 for my photography, maybe to help buy a lens for my 16x20 (May Lee) or to pay for of the Platinum printing workshop in Calgary ($1200).

5 Pairs Of Used Rubber Safety Boots Ready To Go

Well got my boots ready to take home and then to the dump in Thailand, half a world away. These 5 pairs were donated by the petrochemical plant where I work security. The boots are used but in good shape, some almost look brand new. I have 3 more pairs at home in my bags ready to go. With these 5 added it will make 8 total. I will need to see what I can fit and what I take and not take after I start final packing and weighing my bags tomorrow.

I will wear one pair of these boots while in the dump then donate them before I leave. Wearing safety boots will hopefully prevent any stepping on nail mishaps like last time.

5 pairs of rubber safety boots ready to go

Poem: "In The Churchyard At Cambridge" By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In The Churchyard At Cambridge

In the village churchyard she lies,
Dust is in her beautiful eyes,
  No more she breathes, nor feels, nor stirs;
At her feet and at her head
Lies a slave to attend the dead,
  But their dust is white as hers. 

Was she a lady of high degree,
So much in love with the vanity
  And foolish pomp of this world of ours?
Or was it Christian charity,
And lowliness and humility,
  The richest and rarest of all dowers? 

Who shall tell us?  No one speaks;
No color shoots into those cheeks,
  Either of anger or of pride,
At the rude question we have asked;
Nor will the mystery be unmasked
  By those who are sleeping at her side. 

Hereafter?--And do you think to look
On the terrible pages of that Book
  To find her failings, faults, and errors?
Ah, you will then have other cares,
In your own short-comings and despairs,
  In your own secret sins and terrors!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Getting To That Next Level

I need to get to that next level with my photography, the time is now. This trip will be my last opportunity for a long time to make photographs of consequence. Now is the time to reach deep and find the meaning and expression in my work I have always sought.

I owe the people who allow me into their lives, I owe my father who sacrificed for me. I need to create at a higher level, to make up for all my past failures, to fufill a hoped for destiny. Now is the time to get this done, now is the time to do things up right.

Nearing My Final Gear List

Been thinking over my final camera gear and film list for the coming trip. This is where it currently sits. There might be a few changes yet.

1 - Rolleiflex F 2.8
1 - Plaubel Makina 67
1 - Leica M6 with 28-35-50 f 4 Tri-Elmar-M lens
1 - Nikon flash
1 - Metal flash bracket
1 - Rolleiflex leather binocular focusing device
1 - Rolleiflex pistol grip (for shooting handheld at shutterspeeds 1/30,1/60)
1 - Rolei flex penta viewfinder 3 - Rolleinar's for closer up work, #1,#2 and #3
1 - Sony digital point and shoot camera, for making trip video and giveaway snapshots
1 - Mini carbon fibre tripod

1 - Box 5x7 Tri-x 50 sheet
160 - Rolls Tri-x 120 film
50 - Rolls Tri-x 35mm

Note* I currently have my 5x7 Linhof with 210mm and 1200mm lens, spot meter, reflector, tripod, tripod head being stored in Thailand. I also have 170 sheets of unexposed Tri-x 5x7 waiting for me there.

And The Money Keeps Coming!

Got another $60 plus offers of more hats yesterday. Money and donations keep coming even thou I am not asking anyone. Somehow not sure how exactly but without even asking for one dollar I ended up getting $1545 CAD in donated cash (over the last 2 trips).

Why? How? Not exactly sure but it has happened. It is connected to the underlying goodness of people. When they see they can help and the money will make a difference they try. This is also about the very positive effect documentary photography can have on peoples lives.

The donation Summary:

October 2015 - Donation totalling $480 from 3 different individuals ($200, $180 and $100)
March 2016  - Donations totalling $1065 from multiple sources.
                      - $555 from the work fund-raiser, an additional $10 last night.
                      - $300 from a family who I work with, they also donated in October.
                      - $150 from 4 boys of a family next to my friends (complete strangers to me)
                      - $50 from another one of the individuals who donated in October.

I got all that money while never once asking for any! Sort of shocking.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Have A Teacher To Learn Platinum Printing From!

I now have a teacher to learn the Platinum printing process from! Learning from a quality photographer and teacher through a workshop is the best way to speed up the learning curve up and do do things right. I found a teacher in Calgary who is an outstanding pro when it comes to the creative arts and the Platinum process. If your going to learn to do things right, you need to learn from the best.

The workershop is divided into 3 parts, sensitometry, platinum printing and a field trip. Training is done over 3 different days, with a week or two between the 2nd and 3rd sections. I am going to go get this done on my return to Canada, probably in June or July. The cost is $1200 CAD (including all materials), the classes are  in Calgary (3.5 hours South of Edmonton) and the training is one on one!

More details to follow!!!

Money! Money!! Money!!!

Gosh the donation money is really piling up! The weird thing about all this money and other donation stuff, is that I am not really doing much. It is all just falling in my lap, lead by other people I know, work with, friends etc. It is all just there for me to donate to the "Families of the Dump" as if by magic. I end up looking like the hero with the people in Mae Sot, but the real heroes are all these wonderful folks giving freely here in Canada. I think the power of the photos, the video and the stories initiated it all but for the most part I just sent out a email to some folks I work with back in September 2015 and everything else came of the generosity and goodness of the people here in the Edmonton area of Canada. I am doing almost nothing and yet the money and goods keep piling up.

All this kindness from so many folks revitalizes your faith in the goodness of human beings. The money total after yesterdays $450 adds up to $1005 CAD ($555 from the fundraiser) . I also have around 85 hats, 10 pairs of rubber boots (2 children sizes), child jewellery, young girls clothing, and a variety of toys (small doll like figures etc.) to donate.

I will not be able to take everything with me but will do the best I can.

A Great Night And Fun Teaching Experience

Yesterdays meal and meet and greet with my co-workers children turned out wonderful. Even thou I was quite tired going in, being with her family, telling some stories, showing the video and pics from the dump woke me up and it all went very well. During the evening there was a visit from 4 young next door neighbour boys (12 years old? ). So I had a captive audience of 2 adults and 8 children.

After dinner we all sat in front of the TV, I put my USB stick in and we were able to watch video, and pics directly from the dump. I hope the children aged from 6 to 14 were able to learn a few things about how lucky they are in their lives. We all have problems here in Canada but our problems often pale in comparison to the lives of people living in poverty in other parts of the world.

The surprise of the night for me was all the donations. I thought I was living up to a promise I made in September 2015, to tell stories of life at the dump to my co workers children, actually this was a whole new thing. New money, new donations, new promises for a return in the late spring or late fall to do this all again. I will probably go back and do a second round of video/photos and stories with everyone when I return from Thailand

Last nights surprise donations included:
- $150 from the 4 neighbour boys (who I had just met). A very generous thing, and a total surprise to me.
- $300 from my co worker and her family (4 children). It was rather amazing to see young children reach into her/his private wallet (money they had earned doing chores etc) and dig out $25 to give to the children living in a dump half a world away. It brought a tear to my eye to see this.

I also got a bag of donation goods from the family that included.

- young girls dresses, tops, clothes, even a bathing suit.
- small rubber boots, and other shoes.
- hats of many kinds.
- toys, puzzles, dolls.
- child type necklaces and other jewellery.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Motivational Talk?!

Going out now to do a talk to the children of one of the ladies I work with. Back in November they donated $200 for the families at the dump. I promised her on my return I would bring photos/videos of life in the dump, and tell stories for her children. The idea being that her spoiled kids of Canada will learn about the lives of other children living in poverty in Asia. They can see how their donations helped, and learn a bit of understanding and empathy in the bargain. Hopefully this night will help them grow as people, becoming better human beings in the process.

I need to be bit inspiring, hopefully they will remember this night in a positive way as they continue to grow and develop.

Video: Bleaching "Forgotten Laughter Photos"

Here is a vid I did up tonight with the mini RE video camera I plan to use in Asia mounted to my film cameras. It shoots a very wide angle point of view. The photos in the video are from "Forgotten Laughter", including a small 8x10 I am sending a small 8x10 I am sending to Paul in England in exchange for the filters he sent me.
HI Def YouTube Version

Friday, March 18, 2016

View Camera Workshop

I have a $140 CAD view camera workshop tomorrow with a new student. Vern the student is driving all the way up from Calgary for the workshop. Another workshop with a student from far outside Edmonton, this will be my 3rd, my second from Calgary. Hopefully he learns lots and enjoys our time together. I will try extra hard to make sure he is happy and gets his moneys worth. Calgary is a 3+ hour drive South of my city of Edmonton. The guy is really going all out to learn analog view camera photography, my teaching needs to live up to his hopes.

I will use the $140 for my coming trip to Thai, not sure how, maybe as donation money or to help pay for transportation costs to and from the dump. Every day I go to and from the dump it costs around $15. So $140 would pay for 10 dump visits, there and back from Mae Sot town.

Update* The workshop went very well. Vern is a more advanced photographer but he still learned plenty of things and said he was very happy he did the 7 hour ride to and from Calgary to spend 4 hours with me talking view camera photography. I earned 140 dollars which should pay for all transportation to and from the Mae Sot dump. Wins all round! A good day.

Got My Filters

I got my 2 - 43mm filters from Paul in England yesterday as promised. I still need to do my part of the deal, will continue work on his "Forgotten Laughter" 8x10 photo print today. I still need to do the secondary printing process, the bleaching, final fix, hypo clear, toning and wash. I should be able to finish that all off today. I want to get this print mailed  out to him before I leave Canada. He told me he is excited to place it on his wall. I will use his filters in Thailand this trip, something else Paul is happy with.

Secondary printing process, bleaching 11x14 "Forgotten Laughter"print

Started Packing

I have started packing. The current donation hat count is 75 (95% new), the used rubber safety boot count is 3 (with 5 more coming next week). I plan on loading up all my "Famalies of the Dump" donations then weighing my 2 check in bags and seeing how things work after that.

I am packing a bit early but need to get as much done as I can before I go back to my work week when I have less time. The countdown to my Thai departure date has begun!

Note* Am still being offered hats, and toys etc from folks at work, so might be taking more things yet if the weight allows for it.

$555 Dollars Donated At The Fundraiser

Well the fundraiser at the plant where I work security was yesterday. We managed to raise $555 CAD plus I got a bunch more hats and 5 sets of used rubber safety boots were donated and will come home with me next week.

You got to love the power of photography, it has lead to all of this. The importance and power of pictures are amazing $555 appears as per magic! The plant paid for everything, the hotdogs, buns, chilli, cookies, treats etc. I just showed up talked a bit and got $555 from the people who work with me.

Thanks so so much everyone. I will use the money to help the "Families of the Dump".

Yesterdays fundraiser for "Families of the Dump"

Note* One sort of weird coincidence in all of this is that the Thai word for the number 5 is "HAU". When Thais chat or send SMS messages instead of using LOL they often type 555 (ha ha ha). Hopefully this is a good omen for the $555 in money donations. The contributions should bring many smiles and maybe a few laughs to the "Families of the Dump", 555 : ))

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Quotes: Charlie Chaplin

"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."

"Life is a beautiful magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish."

"The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury."

[on being informed that Adolf Hitler sat through two screenings of "The Great Dictator" (1940)]
" I'd give anything to know what he thought of it."

[on his screen character, The Little Tramp]
"A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure."

[on receiving a lifetime Oscar, 1972]
"Words are so futile, feeble."

Quote: Bill Bixby (Actor)

"I have learned that there is no way to succeed in anything unless you are willing to try and trying means you run the risk of failure."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Quote: Theodore Roosevelt

"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything."

or from facebook. "Mistakes are the stepping stones to learning."

Quote: Harroom Moghul (Author, Essayist And Public Speaker)

From a opinion piece on CNN.

"Muslims around the world, like all people around the world, matter. They don't matter because they approve or disapprove of our policies. They matter because they're human beings. They're no better than us or worse than us except by what they do. Or what we do."

Full Article

Friday, March 11, 2016

5 More Pairs Of Rubber Safety Boots To Donate

The great folks I work with at my plant gave me another five pairs of used rubber safety boots to donate to the families in the dump. Three of those pairs are almost brand new, hardly used at all. The other two are a size 9 which show some use but might might fit the people in the dump better and a size 11.

I decided on a better procedure for my own footwear. I had planned to take the same size 12 Wall-mart non safety boots this trip (bought a new pair) as I did last trip. Trouble is last trip I stepped on a nail and it went straight through the boot into my foot. I thought this time it would be smarter to wear the size 11 used SAFETY boots from work in the dump (they fit fine). If I am going to carry an extra set of boots all the way to Asia for myself it is smarter to lug another pair of safety version type over non safety. I plan to donate my boots in the end anyway so it is better for me to have safety boots when I am working and it's better to donate those size 11 safety boots to a worker in the dump later on as well. The eventual user will also be protected from nails and dropping things on their toes.

I have 3 pairs of safety boots from last time round still at my house here in Edmonton so with the addition of these 5. I could be donating as many as 8 rubber safety boots to the dump! I will also no doubt be buying a bunch of cheap Chinese style boots for people from the Mae Sot market (3 workers asked me to do that last trip).

Anyway, I am quite happy. I just washed down the five boot pairs with soap and water, and dug out the rocks and mud in the soles, everything is looking good! I will pack my 2 carry on bags to the max with boots and hats, hopefully I can take all 8 pairs of boots with me. I hope we can collect some good money at the coming dump fundraiser, not sure the best way to spend that just yet but it will all go to the families. This is going to be great!

Oh yeah : )), hmm got to make some pictures also, need to concentrate a bit on that!

Note* Safety rubber boots have steel toes and a steel metal plate in the sole of the boot to prevent nail punctures.

Hats, Hats And More Hats

The people at the petrochemical plant where I work security are really going all out trying to help. I got offered hats yesterday and more today and when I came into the guardhouse I found 6 hats left for me by the GM of the plant. People really do want to help out. The fundraiser here on site will be on the 17th hopefully we can make $300 or so on that day. There is no cost to me as the company is paying for all the hotdogs, buns and other goodies for the fundraiser. The workers are going to donating $5 to $10 dollars to buy hotdogs and such. All the money made will go directly to the families in the dump. I will post some photos from that event later on this blog.

Great stuff! All because of the power and importance of photographs!

Two children from the Mae Sot garbage dump, November/Deceomber 2015

Source For ULF Holders?

Met an interesting ULF film holder builder online. I enquired about the price for a 16x20 holder for my Chamonix 16x20. The builder who is from the Czech Republic sells his holders for $350 USD a piece, Chamonix sells theirs for $750 (with a slight discount). That is a major difference in price.

I was worried about light leaks as it seems the Chamonix cameras are rather tempermental when it comes to holders, some like the S&S holders may have light leaks (or so I've been told). The builder has offered to send me a large 16x20 holder to test which I will do. If the holder does not work for me I will send it back to him, if it does work I will then pay for it and buy more holders in the future from him. I hope this does work out, if it does I have I will then have a reliable source for my ULF holders in 11x14, 14x17, 16x20 and possibly other sizes.

Hope this works! Updates to follow.

Quote: James Agee (Writer)

Describing Walker Evans work.

"the cruel radiance of what is."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Poem: "The Cry Of The Children" By Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1843

I got some more used poetry books over the weekend at a local bookstore. Am discovering the work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here is a poem she wrote on child labor (coal miners and factory workers). Writing poetry with a social conscience seems so right.

The Cry of the Children
 By Elizabeth Barret Browning
Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
      Ere the sorrow comes with years ?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers, —
      And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows ;
   The young birds are chirping in the nest ;
The young fawns are playing with the shadows ;
   The young flowers are blowing toward the west—
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
      They are weeping bitterly !
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,
      In the country of the free.

Do you question the young children in the sorrow,
      Why their tears are falling so ?
The old man may weep for his to-morrow
      Which is lost in Long Ago —
The old tree is leafless in the forest —
   The old year is ending in the frost —
The old wound, if stricken, is the sorest —
   The old hope is hardest to be lost :
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
      Do you ask them why they stand
Weeping sore before the bosoms of their mothers,
      In our happy Fatherland ?

They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
      And their looks are sad to see,
For the man's grief abhorrent, draws and presses
      Down the cheeks of infancy —
"Your old earth," they say, "is very dreary;"
   "Our young feet," they say, "are very weak !"
Few paces have we taken, yet are weary—
   Our grave-rest is very far to seek !
Ask the old why they weep, and not the children,
      For the outside earth is cold —
And we young ones stand without, in our bewildering,
      And the graves are for the old !"

"True," say the children, "it may happen
      That we die before our time !
Little Alice died last year her grave is shapen
      Like a snowball, in the rime.
We looked into the pit prepared to take her —
   Was no room for any work in the close clay :
From the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake her,
   Crying, 'Get up, little Alice ! it is day.'
If you listen by that grave, in sun and shower,
   With your ear down, little Alice never cries ;
Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her,
   For the smile has time for growing in her eyes ,—
And merry go her moments, lulled and stilled in
      The shroud, by the kirk-chime !
It is good when it happens," say the children,
      "That we die before our time !"

Alas, the wretched children ! they are seeking
      Death in life, as best to have !
They are binding up their hearts away from breaking,
      With a cerement from the grave.
Go out, children, from the mine and from the city —
   Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do —
Pluck you handfuls of the meadow-cowslips pretty
   Laugh aloud, to feel your fingers let them through !
But they answer, " Are your cowslips of the meadows
      Like our weeds anear the mine ?
Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal-shadows,
      From your pleasures fair and fine!

"For oh," say the children, "we are weary,
      And we cannot run or leap —
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
      To drop down in them and sleep.
Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping —
   We fall upon our faces, trying to go ;
And, underneath our heavy eyelids drooping,
   The reddest flower would look as pale as snow.
For, all day, we drag our burden tiring,
      Through the coal-dark, underground —
Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron
      In the factories, round and round.

"For all day, the wheels are droning, turning, —
      Their wind comes in our faces, —
Till our hearts turn, — our heads, with pulses burning,
      And the walls turn in their places
Turns the sky in the high window blank and reeling —
   Turns the long light that droppeth down the wall, —
Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling —
   All are turning, all the day, and we with all ! —
And all day, the iron wheels are droning ;
      And sometimes we could pray,
'O ye wheels,' (breaking out in a mad moaning)
      'Stop ! be silent for to-day ! ' "

Ay ! be silent ! Let them hear each other breathing
      For a moment, mouth to mouth —
Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh wreathing
      Of their tender human youth !
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion
   Is not all the life God fashions or reveals —
Let them prove their inward souls against the notion
   That they live in you, or under you, O wheels ! —
Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,
      As if Fate in each were stark ;
And the children's souls, which God is calling sunward,
      Spin on blindly in the dark.

Now tell the poor young children, O my brothers,
      To look up to Him and pray —
So the blessed One, who blesseth all the others,
      Will bless them another day.
They answer, " Who is God that He should hear us,
   While the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred ?
When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us
   Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word !
And we hear not (for the wheels in their resounding)
      Strangers speaking at the door :
Is it likely God, with angels singing round Him,
      Hears our weeping any more ?

" Two words, indeed, of praying we remember ;
      And at midnight's hour of harm, —
'Our Father,' looking upward in the chamber,
      We say softly for a charm.
We know no other words, except 'Our Father,'
   And we think that, in some pause of angels' song,
God may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather,
   And hold both within His right hand which is strong.
'Our Father !' If He heard us, He would surely
      (For they call Him good and mild)
Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely,
      'Come and rest with me, my child.'

"But, no !" say the children, weeping faster,
      " He is speechless as a stone ;
And they tell us, of His image is the master
      Who commands us to work on.
Go to ! " say the children,—"up in Heaven,
   Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find !
Do not mock us ; grief has made us unbelieving —
   We look up for God, but tears have made us blind."
Do ye hear the children weeping and disproving,
      O my brothers, what ye preach ?
For God's possible is taught by His world's loving —
      And the children doubt of each.

And well may the children weep before you ;
      They are weary ere they run ;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
      Which is brighter than the sun :
They know the grief of man, without its wisdom ;
   They sink in the despair, without its calm —
Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom, —
   Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm, —
Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievingly
      No dear remembrance keep,—
Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly :
      Let them weep ! let them weep !

They look up, with their pale and sunken faces,
      And their look is dread to see,
For they think you see their angels in their places,
      With eyes meant for Deity ;—
"How long," they say, "how long, O cruel nation,
   Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart, —
Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,
   And tread onward to your throne amid the mart ?
Our blood splashes upward, O our tyrants,
      And your purple shews your path ;
But the child's sob curseth deeper in the silence
      Than the strong man in his wrath !"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Klong Toey Slum Portrait, Hey I Remember Making That!

It is strange when you find one of your pics used somehow online without your knowledge. Today had one of those moments happen to me. I was doing some reserch on slums in Bangkok when I came across a photo of a young boy I made 6 years or so ago while I was photographing in Klong Toey. The photo was part of a Klong Toey slum presentation with stats (the b/w young boy headshot in the demographic section).

Anyway, learned a bit more about Klong Toey than I knew before.I am trying to find more places to photograph in Thai. I want to find a second group of people I can photograph and help with donations.

Quote: Pablo Picasso

"I do not seek, I find."

The Eeh-Eeh (Doo-Aye) Story

I wrote up this story which has been on the blog before about being in the dump and meeing Eah-Eah for the first time for a gallery submission. I thought I would share it here as well. Eeh-Eeh is the former Doo-Aye, I got her name wrong in 2013, this young girl is now a young woman and has learned to speak English quite well.

Here is the exhibition write up I did for a Gallery in Northern Canada.

My social documentary photography projects deals with lives of Burmese refugee children who live and work illegally in the Mae Sot Thailand garbage dump with their families. The families eek out a living scavenging for recyclable good in the garbage. This project submission titled "Forgotten Laughter" contains of photographs, video, found garbage dump objects and blog stories written at the time of pictures creation.

It is hard to put into the words the feeling I felt as I stumbled through the garbage dump for the first time in May of 2013. I walked covered in flies, beads of sweat pouring down my face like a waterfall with the stink of rotting garbage everywhere. I was confused and very uncomfortable, even a bit panicky. I was totally out of my element. Why had I come here? This was hell! What the f-ck was I doing here this disgusting garbage dump? Then I saw a worker off in the distance, way off in the middle of the garbage field. I thought to myself, I will walk over there and make some pictures. As I approached closer I realized this garbage worker was not an adult but only a young girl of 8 or 9, she was looking through a found women's handbag, looking for anything of value. Later on I learned her name was Eeh-Eeh and that she lived with her family in a very small hut next to the dump. Seeing that girl for the first time, seeing how calm and happy she was while working in that filth, how the flies and the heat seemed to just bounce right off her radiant smile changed me. I thought, what do you have to whine about about Gerry? Your a grown man with money who can leave anytime, you have a passport that allows you to go to Canada. Why are you crying about a few flies and some hot weather. Grow up man! Stop being a baby! Look at this young child, look at how beautifully she deals with things. After that I devoted myself to this project. I wanted to the story of these families and especially of these children. I visited the dump 8 times in May 2013, 6 times in November 2013, and over 12 times in November 2015. I am returning in April 2016 to continue the work.

The photographs in this submission tell the stories of children like Eeh-Eeh and their lives at the Mae Sot garbage dump. Thank you for considering this project.

Gerry (March 2016).

Note* I have video of that first meeting with Eeh-Eeh and would like to include it in the exhibition.

Am Anxious

Am anxious about returning to the Mae Sot dump. The heat, the filth, the dying dogs, the bloody crawling cockroaches, rats and flies. Even at this point after I have spent hundreds of hours in the dump it is daunting, frightening, it all makes me uncomfortable, it worries me.

I need to go back, have friends there now, have responsibilities. I need to continue the donation work and continue to create photographs that tell the families, and the children's story. I need to buck up and gather a bit of courage and get this done. Once I am back in that world again, back doing what I have done before, things will become better. When I see those smiling faces saying "Ming Ga La Bah (hello)", hear the children's laughter, and meet and greet with everyone again things will be better. I will be comfortable and at ease again.

Sitting here now thou in Canada at my security desk as I type this I am anxious and worried. Will it all go OK? Will I be able to get all the donation stuff (boots, hats, money) to Mae Sot on my own? Will my back problems return? Can I make some good important photographs, or will I fail and not do the families justice with the work?

Quote: James Agee (Writer)

 While working with Walker Evans on "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men".

"If I could do it, I'd do no writing at all here. It would be photographs, the rest would be fragments of clothing, bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odors, plates of food and excrement."

Poem: "Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night" By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Poem Spoken By Sir Anthony Hopkins 

400 Sheets Of X-ray Film

Today received some more X-ray 8x10 film bringing my count to 400 sheeets, 200 green senstive and 200 blue sensitive (100 sheets outdated to 2014). The plan now is to test it and see how much I like it. I have two different brands of film with two different light sensitivities, need to do some playing when I return from Thailand. Will shoot the 8x10 stuff in the early summer and if I like it will get a 14x17 reducing back and 14x17 holders for May Lee and then order hundreds of sheets of 14x17 X-ray film.

I hope this works out, the X-ray film runs at about 5-10% the cost of regulary panachromic films.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Quote: Lucille Ball

“I'd rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven't.”

Am Speechless!!

A while back in October 2015 before I did my last trip to Thai and the "Families of the Dump" I sent a general email out to the people who work at my plant site in Edmonton, Canada. I work security nights at this plant and have been here close to 20 years. In that email I asked for some spare contactor hats. If the people had them could they please drop them off at security and I would take them to Thailand to Mae Sot and donate them to the families working the dump. I attached a few of my black and white documentary photos of the families in the dump from 2013. The email was a big hit and I ended up getting a ton of stuff.

- 5 pairs of used but good condtion steel toe rubber boots
- 120+ hats
- $480 in cash donations from 3 different people ( I had not asked for money they just gave it on their own!)

After I returned to Canada I sent another email out plant wide with photos and stories so everyone could see how the money was used. I wanted to show them the good they had done, I sent out pics of children in the dump wearing the plants hats, people holding bags with rubber boots etc. I also sent photos of the big donation at the local dump school and at the Mae La refugee camp. It was a win win thing for everyone involved, especially the families/children living in the dump.

So now lets fast forward to today. Last week just before I went on my week off I sent an email to one of the managers here on site. Earlier he had asked me to tell him when I was going back to Mae Sot again he wrote "I will get a few goodies together". I thought great he will put some t-shirts, some hats and the like in a bag for me and I can give those away when I return to the dump. Last week I sent him an email with the new details and the day I was leaving back to Thai.

Today I returned to work after my week off and checked my mail, this is what I found. This email was sent out to the entire plant.

G---- ------ is heading back to Mae Sot Thailand and the families in the dump on March -- th. He is planning on taking another 50 or so hats and some rubber boots etc.

I would like to do a little fund raiser on site. I am calling it "Hot Dogs for Hats". Maintenance will be cooking some hot dogs (with chilli etc.) for lunch on March 17th,  $5 for a hot dog or 3 for $10 with the proceeds going to buy hats, boots and maybe a few dollars for Gerald to by some goodies for the kids etc.

Please accept this invitation if you would like to buy a hot dog!

I was shocked. I am rather a private guy so having an email sent out plant wide using my name was a bit unnerving but gosh this is going to be wonderful, a fricking fundraiser! I have no idea how much money will be raised, I have no idea what to make of any of this, I know it is a good thing, maybe a great thing. Need time to digest this all, think it over. I will use the money in the best ways possible to help as many people as I can.

Who says that documentary photography cannot make a positive difference in peoples lives!! This all started with me wanting to make pictures in the dump after seeing a CNN story. Those intial photos I made in 2013, did have an impact, they did matter, they are making a difference. Step by step this has all lead to a small but positive change in the lives of many people, the"Families of the Dump". Not sure how much donation money will come out of this, but you got to love it!

"Ain't Photography Grand!!"

3 children in the dump, Mae Sot Thailand 2013
Self portrait with dump kids #1, Mae Sot Thailand 2015
Skyblue school donations, Mae Sot Thailand 2015

With the kids and their icecream at Skyblue school, Mae Sot Thailand 2015
Self portrait with dump kids #2, Mae Sot Thailand 2015

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Possible Pelican Case For the 16x20 Chamonix

Here is another possible ULF case, a bit smaller than the previous cases. It is a Pelican 1690NF. Hugo from Chamonix uses one for his 16x20. I like the fact I can get free shipping on it from B&H, that it has wheels (very handy), one big handle instead of 2 side handles and that it is a Pelican. I do not think I can get all my 16x20 gear in it thou, the other earlier blogged bag which measured an inside depth of 18 inches versus 15 inches might have allowed for that.
B&H Link To Case
MaterialExterior: Ultra-high Impact copolymer 
Exterior: Open-cell core with solid wall design 
Interior: Empty interior
Type of ClosureDouble throw latches 
Stainless steel padlock protectors
WaterproofingWatertight to 30' 
O-Ring sealed
Maximum Buoyancy410 lbs (185.97kg)
Exterior Dimensions33.36 x 28.44 x 18.23" (84.7 x 72.2 x 46.3cm)(LxWxD)
Interior Dimensions30.01 x 25.02 x 15" (76.2 x 63.5 x 38.1cm)(LxWxD) 
Lid depth: 2.88" (7.3cm) 
Bottom depth: 12.14" (30.8cm)
Interior FittingEmpty
AccommodatesEquipment that does not require any foam protection such as items already in cases
Carrying/Transport OptionsFold-down handles 
Extension handle 
Built-in wheels
Weight34 lbs (15.42kg)
Pelican 1690NF case $321.51