Archive for November, 2009

Shooting for Success: Lightning

Posted in Photography How to... with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2009 by tgmreynolds
Calgary Lightning, June 2007

Lightning over northeast Calgary, June 2007. Copyright 2007: T. Reynolds

Although this image has never appeared anywhere but on my own websites, it is one of my all-time favourite shots simply because it required tremendous patience and then absolute luck, because lightning storms can be as wet as they are electrifying.On this particular evening, the rain had already passed us by and I was going to photograph the trailing-edge of the storm as it moved east.

To photograph lightning you need a couple of things:

  • a camera capable of shooting at shutter speeds in the 30-second neighbourhood (or longer)
  • a solid tripod
  • a relatively windless night
  • a vantage point which allows you to shoot as much of the horizon as possible without obstructions like buildings, telephone poles, street lamps, etc. The exception to this is when you actually want the “obstruction” in the photo in order to add scale or interest. An example would be lightning hitting the top of the CN Tower in Toronto — a very cool shot if you can get it.
  • a slow film, if you’re shooting with film. The slower the film, the longer your shutter speed can be an still not over-expose.

All I simply did here was start my video camera as soon as I was in place, to capture footage I may use later (, and then I set up the second tripod with the still camera, using ISO 200 print film, because that’s all I had in my bag. Lesson learned. I wish I’d had some 25 or 50 ISO slide film, simply for the richness of the final images with film with such nice saturation. This shot is a few years old and now I’m shooting digital, but haven’t had a chance to try the digital gear with unique situations like lightning or fireworks (next week’s image).

So, I set up with the shot framing only as much of the city on the horizon as I wanted and as much of the sky as I could get, then set my Canon EOS 10S for 30 seconds of exposure.

I also used a remote control so as not too shake the camera when I pressed down on the shutter release — a common problem with slow shutter speeds.

I set the self-timer on the camera for five seconds and then set it so that the mirror went up at the beginning of the five seconds, not the end. This also reduces camera shake, believe it or not.

The autofocus was turned off and the manual focus set for infinity, because the lightning was at least ten miles (16km) away. When all was set, I covered the back of the camera with my baseball cap to prevent the lights of the city from leaking in through the viewfinder.

That all done, I simply triggered the camera and let it do all of the work. I kept this up during the heat of the storm, just crossing my fingers  that something would be captured on film.

The toughest part of photographing lightning is that it happens so fast (at the speed of light, pretty much) that you couldn’t possibly react fast enough to capture the strike. That’s why you need to do long time exposures and cross your fingers. A true, multi-strike storm is the best because then the odds of having one or more strikes in a given 30-second exposure is pretty good. Then again, a lot of film was wasted in order to get this shot and a few others.

I love the raw, unadulterated, power of lightning and to be able to capture an image or two gives me a thrill. Man-made events are exciting, but nothing matches the rush I get when something like lightning, an avalanche, an eclipse or even a comet can be captured for later enjoyment.

Ciao for now,

Tim Reynolds.

All words and images here are Copyright Tim Reynolds.


STAND UP & SUCCEED: The 2nd Edition

Posted in Stand-Up Comedy & Life with tags , , , , on November 29, 2009 by tgmreynolds

Stand Up & Succeed by Tim Reynolds

The Cover of Stand Up & Succeed by Tim Reynolds

The Preface:

The idea for this book literally fell off a shelf when I was searching through a dozen disorganized notebooks for the seed of a joke I wanted to expand upon. Instead, I found nearly a hundred pages of scribblings from various weekly stand-up comedy workshops I had participated in over a two-year period at Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Calgary.
I sat down and started rereading those notes (anything to avoid shovelling the walk again) and in the reading found something deeper than “what to do or not do on and off stage and around the clubs”. In this unexpected place, I found reminders of the belief systems I have held firm since my days as a Wolf Cub chanting “I will DIB DIB DIB, we will DOB DOB DOB — I will do my best, we will do our best.”

None of what I’ve quoted or written here is new. It’s all been drifting around since the first mentor told the first acolyte “Don’t fling dung at the audience”, but I wanted to share here not just what I’ve learned about stand-up comedy, but how the simple words of men and women whose goal is to earn a little money making the world laugh, can speak to everyone.

And so, I give you the words shared with me by my comic friends, associates, mentors and passing comedy acquaintances, along with my own thoughts on the universality of it all. With it all comes my hope that this little book helps shine a little more light on the one thing we all have in common — our search for Success.

Working stand-up comics — these are the men and women who live and work in the trench-deep world of Bates Motels, road-houses, broken-down rental cars, super-sized greasy pub food and sometimes a variety of mood-altering  substances best not detailed here.

Young, old, male, female, straight, gay, they all have one thing in common — they live for the laughter. Working comics don’t do it to become rich, they do it because NOT doing it would be worse than death. The rules are the same for all comics — from the open-mic amateur nights with three-minute sets where there’s more alcohol and dope than courage or talent, to the one-nighters in biker bars lost in the middle of no-GPS territory, to the festival competitions and,
finally, to headlining in Vegas between seasons six and seven of their own sitcom.

To not know the rules is to court disaster or failure or life as an accountant (been there, done that, bought the abacus). Like anything else in life, you have to know the rules so you can know which ones to break and which ones to bend.
In stand-up comedy the breakable rules are the Performance Rules like:

  • don’t use props
  • don’t do Jack Nicholson impressions
  • a joke has a beginning, a middle and an end — and a tag and a tag and a tag.

These are the rules comics shouldn’t break until they have the stage-presence, the self-confidence and the EXPERIENCE to know how to break them in just the right way.

But the unbreakable rules… these are the ones in which the wording is specific to the comedy industry and yet their meanings are so universal that at the heart of them are inviolable truths that, when applied to life, work & play, ensure that you won’t have to find Success — it will find you. They’re the little bits of wisdom dispensed by those who’ve worked their way up and earned their place in whatever pecking order they’re in.

Finally, if you ever get a chance to see any of the hilarious contributors to this project, grab those tickets and take that table right up front, because there’s nothing better than laughter, not even sex (although my ex might argue that laughter during sex was the best of all, but I can’t take intentional credit for that).

And so let’s get the show on the road:

“You only hold your breath underwater.”
~Mike MacDonald~
Be ‘cautiously optimistic’. Keep writing, keep selling, keep loving, keep doing whatever it is you’re doing, because if you do Something Great and then just hold your breath, waiting for Success to see you and wave and come over to hang out, you’ll be disappointed — repeatedly. Have hope and have dreams, but have just a little bit of cynicism to keep you grounded and keep you WORKING for your goal.


Until next week…

Ciao for now,


All words and images here are Copyright Tim Reynolds.

Shooting for Success: Serendipity & Light

Posted in Photography How to... with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by tgmreynolds
Snowboarders on cover of Alive Magazine

Cover of Alive Magazine by Tim Reynolds


So, Shooting for Success posts are the stories behind some of my favourite (and most popular) images. Not always the aperture and shutter speed, but rather how the particular shot came about.

To start, here’s the first of two magazine covers I’ve sold to Canada`s ALIVE Health Magazine.

This was about as serendipitous a shot as I’ve ever sold. Believe it or not, this shot was taken in late September. The snow hit in 24 hours and covered everything. We had just hiked up Bow Summit (Banff National Park, Alberta, on the 93N north of Lake Louise, on the way to Jasper) and taken a slew of images of stunning Peyto Lake. We were hiking back down to the parking lot and passed these snowboarders who were on their way up to play on one of the many slopes leading down from there.

We passed the snowboarders and on a hunch I turned around and saw this shot. Without hesitation I snapped away.

Now, let’s make it clear that this shot wasn’t all luck. We saw the fresh snow and rushed to get out on the road while the sun was still low in the sky, thus the long shadows. Especially at the higher elevations, if you shoot too early or too late, the light is off. There’s a richness to dawn and dusk light which washes out in the hours between. This simple fact is what makes the difference in probably 75% of all landscape photos. You can have the best composition, the perfect location and then have the image just flop because you picked the wrong time of the day. Some things can be fixed by Photoshop, but light is probably the hardest to fake, even with the graduated orange filter they use on CSI: Miami.

The sale was made simply after I picked up a copy of the magazine (free at health food stores across Canada) wrote to the editor-in-chief, explained where I lived and what kind of pictures I took and then asked if she was looking for any new images.

She said ‘yes, send me some winter samples.’ I sent twenty and she picked this one. I got paid $150 for non-exlusive rights.

That’s it for this week’s Shooting for Success.

Ciao for now.

Tim Reynolds.

All words and images here are Copyright Tim Reynolds.


Posted in Cynical Poetry with tags , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by tgmreynolds

First, let’s get this out of the way…

What is “cynglish”?


Pronunciation: \ˈsiŋ-glish\

Origin: Canada: created by Timothy G.M. Reynolds

Function: noun Date: 2009, July 24.

1: contraction of “cynical English” a particular variety of English distinguished by use in highly cynical compositions, performances and conversations

So, now to the first poem:


Riding the bus, the train, the bus, the shuttle… riding it all and all of it riding on a two-fifty fare.

Spending more time with strangers travelling to and from work than with our own families before and after, work.

Strangers who twitch and swear and spit and shove, behaving better than the people we love to love, from below or above,

Reeking of solvents or bathed in Old Spice or new Axe or that industrial-strength Brut left over from Christmas 1979.

Buses stinking of vomit and skunkweed and garlic and old socks, the trip to and from work and career and other-life is like two hours trapped in a teenager’s closet.

Not just any teenager, but your goth-dressed, face-pierced, crappy grades, I-want-to-live-with-the-other-parent, teenager.

Two-fifty a trip to get bumped and grinded and fondled — but no flowers, no chocolate, no simple “I’ll promise to call you but will lose your number in the next five minutes”. The freedom of frottage without commitment.

But on a bus you can jab jab jab an elbow or step on a toe, hard on a toe or fart never-so-gracefully in the face of these daily stranger relationships and no one says a word;

but treat your causeless James Dean teen with the same disdain and you’ll hear from Family Services the very next day.

And the day after, and for the rest of your days until the divorce is settled, the custody battle done, the bank account drained and the Beamer traded in for a used Toyota Tercel that never looks as good on page two of the local paper when they announce you’ve had another trial date.

Not so, the bus, the train, the bus, and the shuttle — no names exchanged, no hatred grown, no love lost, no lasting impression made.

So give me diesel fumes and ignorant strangers and vomit on my shoes just so I don’t have to go home to Hell in the home, homey in its own hellish way.

Give me back the grazing touch of a total stranger, the hardening of my nipples, the weakening of my knees… and then their cellphone rings and ABBA’s Dancing Queen causes us all, passenger strangers one and all, to lash out, bump the coffee hand or the phone hand or grinding grind a heel into their imported Italian in-step; because it’s all fakey fake, all falsely hoped for…

…and all going to happen again for all our tomorrows, on the not-so-Express bus up and down to Downtown.


Ciao for now,


All words and images here are Copyright Tim Reynolds.


Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it with tags , , , , , on November 27, 2009 by tgmreynolds

The Tao of Tim is now officially up and running, at least in the blogosphere.

There will essentially be five categories of posts here at The Tao of Tim:

  • excerpts from the second edition of my guide to life based on the rules of stand-up comedy: Stand Up & Succeed
  • excerpts from the upcoming book of humorously cynical poetry: The Cynglish Beat
  • excerpts from the collection of hilarious, true stories (tentatively titled) How to Get Kicked Out of a Brothel
  • Shooting for Success: what’s behind my most successful published images, from magazine covers to books, postcards and the one I sold to National Geographic.
  • general observations in the day-to-day world I reside in, including life on stage as an amateur stand-up comedian, my two very strange little dogs, life as a step-grandparent and time spent on a city transit system.

The excerpts that appear here will also make their way to my podcast, due to start up shortly. Keep an eye on The Tao of Tim for updates and links to the various projects I’m working on, including an anthology of terrific fiction for Dragon Moon Press, my sci-fi novel The Psilent One, and a little ghost story I`ve been novelizing from my own original screenplay.

Ciao for now,