Fun With Storify

In an effort to animate this blog a little more effectively, I’m going to start sharing more personal stories through different methods. I just turned 36 last month, and at this point on my journey of life, I’ve managed to amass quite a few tales of relative intrigue. I sometimes share those stories on social media, and as a result, I neglect this space, which should be my primary digital outlet. Every couple years I make these “resurrect the blog” posts, but this time is different, I promise 😉

To harness some of those stories shared through other media, I just signed up for Storify. It’s a neat way to aggregate different posts and media into a story. For my first Storify, I’ve collected an experience I shared on Twitter during a drive to northern Ontario just before Easter. It’s about my first day of school as an exchange student in Germany in 1996.

Unreserved Exposure

My official title at my day job is “videojournalist”, which essentially means a reporter and cameraman in one. I’ve been working full time as a television news VJ for two years now (prior to that I was “just” a reporter), and capturing visuals on my own has really helped enhance the way I tell stories. Naturally, I’m a big fan of videography, having worked in TV for nearly a decade, but I never had the opportunity to do a lot of shooting myself until I moved into this position. It’s a fun challenge every day, and I honestly love being able to capture visuals that are sometimes broadcast to thousands of people across the country. (For you gearheads out there, I use a work-issued Sony EX3)

Although I’m a quasi-“professional” in video, I’ve always loved still photography and I aspire to one day build a solid portfolio. I’m fortunate to have some friends who make a living shooting stills, and they’re the greatest teachers. But until I have enough saved up for a pro-calibre DSLR, I have my iPhone. I upgraded to the 4S late last year specifically for the 8MP camera in it. It’s simple and takes great pictures, with easy aperture controls and built-in editing software. I also recently received an Olloclip for my birthday, and that’s made everything much more fun. It’s a simple lens attachment for the iPhone that lets you shoot wide, fisheye, and macro. I highly recommend it. Here are some of my recent shots:

Wreck Beach, Vancouver
Ottawa's Chinatown with the wide angle
Odawa Pow Wow (wide angle)
Stanley Park, Vancouver (wide angle)
Getting tattooed at Living Colour in Ottawa with the fisheye
The macro is pretty great

I’m also a huge fan of Instagram, so if you wanna check out some of these shots with their fun filters, just follow me there (waub). What are some of your favourite ways to shoot on your phone? Any tips/advice?


Apps-Dependent Hedonist Disorder

Silence is rare. Many nights of the week I find myself sitting legs-up on the couch, laptop nestled in place, sports or news on the TV, and iPhone and Blackberry on the coffee table to my left. I click on links, turn my head whenever the TV program projects a loud voice, and reach for whichever phone emits a notification. It’s a brutal vortex of information technology that is difficult to stay out of more than a decade into the new millennium.

I never used email or the internet until I was forced to in my first year of university. I used to hate watching TV. I only bought one because I got a full-time job working for a television broadcaster. I bought a cell phone because the roommates I lived with at the time got rid of our landline. Now all of the current implements that are conduits for these media command my attention at almost every waking moment.

Because of this barrage of information, I find it hard to be really productive or even hold basic linear thoughts when all these things are within reach. So I often shut them off, pick up a book, put on music, play guitar, go for a run, or even sit in silence. The hilarious irony is that I worked hard and saved money to purchase these gadgets and have all kinds of information at my fingertips. As the fictional, misguided visionary Tyler Durden said, “The things you own end up owning you.”

In my line of work, and living in urban North America, it’s almost impossible to live without them. They’re half status symbols and half knowledge necessities. It’s imperative to know what’s going on and to stay connected in these complex layers of relationships and interactions in the city. That being said, I don’t really need to be playing Angry Birds on the bus or in those few minutes between meetings/appointments.

And that’s where balance comes in. When I talk to my grandparents on the rez and in small-town Ontario (face to face), they’re both mind-blown and vexed that we walk around with computers in our pockets these days. They never needed them, and they still don’t. Because that wholesome attitude still exists, smartphones should be obsolete in the grand scheme of life.

But they aren’t, nor will they ever be. They’ve made my life easier, and I’m not abandoning any of these toys to become a born-again Luddite. The other day a random couple stopped me on the street to ask where a certain restaurant was. I didn’t know, so I pulled out my phone and called up an app – and within seconds I sent them in the right direction. My phone made me a hero for a moment. But silence and balance are golden, and I’ll never forget about the things that challenged and captivated my mind before 21st Century attention defects.

By the way, my favourite apps are Word With Friends, Angry Birds, Twitter, Instagram, and the new CBC News App.