I took a trip to Toronto to get a Tattoo. I flew there from Los Angeles. Why the heck would I travel that far for a tattoo? I thought it was a stupid thing to do myself, but I did it anyways.

I used to go to Toronto 4-6 times per year for work.  I found a tattoo artist there that I really really liked, and I was trying to set up time with her for a day at the end of one of these drips. She’s good, and she’s really busy, so that never worked out. Not even close.

Now that I’m traveling around to various big cities, I figured I’d find some artists I really like in the cities I’ll be passing through, and set it up for when I can be in their city. I didn’t put much effort into searching. I found some that I liked, but I didn’t like them as much as this one in Toronto.

This summer, I happened to see one day that she was opening up her books to schedule for the next few months. She does at least a few months of scheduling all at once. Without thinking about it much, I emailed her. And it worked out. Then I needed to decide whether I really wanted to do this. I do have a bunch of airline miles from when I used to travel for work. That airline doesn’t fly to Toronto. They do fly to Buffalo, which is a few hours’ drive away. I checked and found that I could ride a bus between the two cities, and they are cheap. I expected that I could find someone in Toronto happy to let me crash on their couch.  Thus, my out-of-pocket spending on the travel would be very little. I decided to make this a fun exercise in traveling on the cheap.

 

Travel Out

An old friend of mine, Stephan, lives in Los Angeles, near the airport, so I hung out with him an evening a couple days before the flight out.

I flew from L.A. to Baltimore, then to Buffalo. Then, I had to wait around at the airport in Buffalo from 11pm to 4am, and then ride the bus to Toronto. I thought I would sleep while waiting at the airport, but I didn’t feel like it, partly because I was worried I’d oversleep and miss the bus. It was a really long day of travel, but it wasn’t so bad. These pictures are from waiting overnight in the Buffalo airport. Back when I used to fly a lot, Buffalo was my favorite airport, so I had a good one to be stuck in.

waiting….

… and waiting…

and waiting….

… more waiting…

(I was mostly doing stuff while there, not just sitting, but sitting makes for better pictures)

Host

A guy that I sort of knew from an online forum let me stay at his place. His home was almost perfectly located within short walks of the places I’d be going – 10 minutes to the tattoo studio, 15 to the middle of downtown, and 20 to the bus stop.

He was a great host. On the first day, he took me with him to an island just a short boat ride from the city, and to a nice beach there. He’s really smart and thoughtful. I had fun talking with him and always learned new things.

Got a new Camera

I got the camera while in LA, and then sold my old one in Toronto. I switched from a really big DSLR (A Nikon D810) to a mirrorless camera (A Fujifilm X-T2). For the way I like to shoot (well, for things other than landscapes) I think the X-T2 will be more fun to use and may work better.

I’m starting off just using old Nikon lenses. I have the ones in the picture above, plus I also got a 200mm and a 300mm (both really old ones from the 1960s or 70s). These old lenses still work well, except that they don’t have the coatings on the glass aren’t nearly as good as modern lenses, so most of them turn to shit when shooting into the sun. I will probably get at least one Fuji lens so I’ll have something that can autofocus and shoot into the sun.

These old lenses are manual focus only. The couple autofocus lenses I still have are manual only when used on the Fuji (and I will probably sell these, as they don’t work that great for manually focusing). I noticed that I was using manual focus for 95% of my pictures, and that factored into deciding to get this new camera.

I think it will be more fun shooting with this one. I like the dials for adjustments. The electronic viewfinder is really nice. It can show a live histogram, punch zoom in for focusing, and has focus peaking (which highlights the things that are in focus).

It’s much smaller than the old camera – about one third of the volume, and it’s lighter. Some of the lenses are also smaller.  It’s a downgrade in technical capability, but I don’t think these will be a big deal (From 36 megapixels to 24, from full-frame to a crop sensor, probably about 1 less stop of dynamic range)

I’d been thinking for a while about getting longer lenses to allow me to shoot a wider range of things, but hadn’t ever gotten around to it.

Before, I had

  • 14 mm
  • 24 mm
  • 50mm

Now, I have (shown in F.F. equivalents)

  • 18 mm
  • 36 mm
  • 75 mm
  • 150 mm
  • 300 mm
  • 450 mm

The old camera was more expensive, but I bought the new one new (there were few available used at decent prices). In the end I think I’ll come out about $500 behind. That’s not bad at all for a camera that I like better and for much longer lenses.

For some time now, I’ve been annoying myself with the way I shoot and edit. I was spending too much time sorting through pictures and editing them, and too often I was doing those things weeks after shooting them. I wanted to start shooting more, sorting more quickly and deleting more, and doing less/quicker editing.

So far, I’ve been doing a good job with that. I’ve been doing some fun projects at the beach – taking pictures of peoples’ dogs running around and playing fetch, and when I catch them out, surfers.

I’ve shot 5,000 pictures with the new camera in less than a month, and I usually sort and edit them within a day or two.  With the D810, I only took 10,000 over a full year.

Trying Street Photography

I spent the day before my tattoo walking around downtown Toronto. It’s a fun city to explore. There are varied neighborhoods and a lot of people out and about. I played around with shooting street photography

 

The Tattoo

I got a big one. It took 6 hours. For me, that was a long time to sit still and get poked.

This was immediately after she finished it:

And these were, I think, the next day. It got very little scabbing and healed quickly.

Travel back didn’t include quite as much waiting, but it was more exhausting, because having a big new tattoo is already sort of draining. But, I made it back, and then I had all the time in the world to sit around and recover 🙂

 

Oh yeah, here’s a little video I put on Instagram:

 

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