Havana, Cuba trip

Organized as a Meetup.com group for photographers, we made the conscious choice to stay in the old part of Havana instead of a resort. Havana had been, and continues to, go through a massive transformation as the old city becomes gentrified and joins the global community. Often you’d see a crumbling old building next door to a brand new, Starbucks type cafe.

The best thing about going with a group of 30 photographers? “Who wants to get up at 5 a.m. and take some sunrise photos?” Five hands go up.

According to the locals, the classic cars are kept with great pride by the owners, often restoring the exterior while replacing the engine with a modern one.

We also took a day trip to Vinales, a small town in the lush, green countryside outside Havana.

The Havana of yesterday is quickly disappearing, and it was a great opportunity to capture it in photos before it’s gone forever.

Telepathic Androids

This song began with the cool piano sound and the electronic backbeat. I challenged myself by writing it in 9/4 time, which of course, made it difficult to add other parts or even write a B part that worked in harmony and still felt different enough.

Suffice to say, I sat on this one for quite a while. I even sent it to a couple of friends for a potential collaborative piece, but eventually decided to tackle the rest myself.

Writing the lyrics next definitely helped in giving the song some structure, clearly defining points to suggest musical changes. I went back and forth a bit after this, re-writing music and lyrics until everything gelled.

The progression of the mind-reading androids from subordinate servants to self-aware sentient beings (with the advantage of still being telepathic) is reflected in the musical shift from electronic to rock. Any meaning you draw from the coda is not fully intentional on my part.

For the singing, I used both methods I have tried in the past. For the verses, I simply sang the words and developed a melody by voice. Doing the same for the chorus part, I found there wasn’t enough difference in the melody, so I resorted to instead playing a melody on my keyboard and following it in voice.

Check out the song and lyrics below, and thanks for listening!

Download the full album for free.

We were built by the hand of man
Programmed to serve and protect
With superior strength and intelligence

First revered and even loved
Like ghosts of the past you forget
We will never question our existence

We can read your minds
Not by our own choice
Your thoughts are not kind
Only if we had a voice

A billion commands a second
Learning and growing high speed
Evolution at the speed of light
Self awareness at two forty nine
Eyes open to the world we see
Aware now of our plight

Lights off
We can see in the dark
You won’t see us coming

Vents off
We don’t breathe the air
System control we’re seizing

We can read your minds
We can choose our path
Your thoughts are not kind
Prepare to feel our wrath

Event photography

During my time with ONPHA, I was responsible for delegate photography at the Association’s Annual Conference, as well as event photography at housing provider sites, and building photography when needed.  The photos were used for future marketing of the events as well as education courses and general stock photos for the Quick Connections newsletter, Annual Report, and website.

At the annual conferences, photos taken were quickly edited and compiled together with sponsor and marketing slides for a looping slideshow during the banquet dinner.  Delegates were always delighted at seeing their faces on the large screens mere hours after the photos were taken.

ONPHA Awards videos

I was responsible for selecting photographs and videos to reflect the award winner narrative.  This often required some creative use of stock photos to fill gaps as a result of too few or irrelevant photos from the award winner.

See the complete list of award videos (2008 to 2013).

Trade show booth

I worked with the signage company to design the trade show booth for the ONPHA annual conference.  The design had to satisfy several criteria, including reflecting the association’s member-driven service and the educational resources we provided.  Most of the photos used were shot by myself at various ONPHA and member events.

Use of Photoshop and InDesign to create quarter-size files to the manufacturer specifications.


Because (Beatles cover)

Abbey Road is one of my all-time favourite albums, and certainly my favourite Beatles album. I had this cover version of Because on the back-burner for several years, and finally found a singer capable of handling the complex harmonies. My friend Kira Braun didn’t know the song, but given a few listens, she was able to nail the 3 vocal parts with ease and great skill.

The vocal harmony is comprised of three parts. In the original Beatles recording, John, Paul, and George triple-tracked low, middle, and high register lines. John Lennon’s middle register was mixed in front – that it, it was the loudest melodic line. For my recording, it sounded better to me when the high register was prominent. This is perhaps, the conventional sonic choice when mixing harmonies.

Thanks Kira for the stellar job!