Ah yes, the daily grind, and it does take many grinds, coffee that is. While many of you know me for my photography that is not my primary source of income (nor would I want it to be), I work in Information Technology at Sheridan College. Yes, I’m on campus daily to help support the small student body that learns on campus on a part-time basis and maintain the movement of technology to and from the whole campus community. While it can get lonely, it does give a rich photographic experience surprisingly.
Sheridan traces its history back to a condemned high school in Brampton, Ontario. The college’s initial idea was formed in 1965 to start a college dedicated to the arts, specifically animation. Now that animation was nothing new, Disney had been at the forefront of the North American push in Animation. Still, aside from a few folks at the National Film Board in Canada, the industry was non-existent. After refitting and refreshing the old high school, Sheridan opened its doors in 1967 with a student population of 400 taught by 32 teachers across 17 programs. But Sheridan did not just want to limit itself to a single campus. Rather it began a rapid expansion opening a heavy equipment school in Milton and operating continuing education classes in public schools and churches across Halton and Peel. And it only grew, the college received its first computer, an IBM System/360 in 1969. And even before the end of the decade ground had been turned to build a far larger campus in Oakville. The Oakville Campus opened in 1970 to students, despite being still only partly complete. A wide-open area, illuminated by iconic triangular skylights provided an open learning environment and still forms the Oakville campus’s core today. I know it better than the A-Wing. By 1977 the student population had grown to almost 4,000, and to serve the growing population the original building was sold and torn down. A new Brampton Campus (that would take Davis’s name later in the 20th Century) opened to students. The first forms of an Information Technology support department began in the late 1970s and early 1980s with microcomputers’ introduction into the college with the college owning 30 by 1980s. The two main campuses in Oakville and Brampton continued to expand through the 1980s to match the college’s growing student population and program offerings. By the 1990s the student population numbered 7,500, resulting in a great deal of overcrowding across all campuses. The college pushed for greater public and government funding and continued to build up the campuses. With SCAET or the Sheridan Centre for Arts and Emerging Technology Opening in 1999 and the Sheldon Levy Building opening a few years later and similar buildings at Davis Campus resulting in H and J wings being added. My involvement with Sheridan began in 2001 during my own college application process, eventually picking Sheridan over Mohawk because of the laptop rental program and the coop program. As a student, I can honestly say my time at Sheridan proved memorable, from getting excellent customer service from the IT department when that first rental laptop started acting up in my second semester to being a tech tutor for other students. Plus an excellent group of teachers always went the extra mile to help my classmates and me. The coop department always had my back, and I did two of my three placements at the college. The first being with the FAST department where I learned Linux and helped run an international programming contest where Sheridan’s equipment never went down. The second was with the main IT department, which eventually leads to a career. Over the course of my time at Sheridan, the college has gone through many changes, I’ve worked at all three of the main campuses in some form or another. Helped bring local direct support to the last satellite campus (Skills Training Centre) and was the one to help shut down the IT equipment in the building. First one in the fields, last from the grave, eh? And while times are strange right now, with campuses being empty, I still enjoy being on that front line helping people out despite the strange times we’re in now.
Sadly my day proved rather boring, nothing interesting to get me out of the office too much other than the regular daily tasks that serve as foundations of the day. The featured image is one that I’ve captured many times, that of the SCAET building on campus, which is one of my favourites, and of all the exterior shots I captured this stuck out to me, so it made the top spot. The next two are things that I have at my desk, the first being the coffee mug. Yes, it’s branded. My morning coffee routine has changed, the office kitchen has a Keurig machine, and I use it on occasion, I’ve also used a French Press. But these days a simple pour-over has yielded an excellent first, second, and third cups throughout the morning. The second is a selection of toys that I keep atop my desk, a personal touch. And I’m not the only one; two other coworkers have similar things set up on their desk. Even the big boss has a bunch of personal touches in his own office. A hand scanner that I use to keep track of some 380 laptops in our inventory has to be scanned every morning to ensure none have gone astray and everything is accounted for, annoying yes, but there is a satisfaction when you get that perfect scan. Due to all the current restrictions, I sit in an area that is kept free of large groups, which is strange because the learning commons are usually bustling. The restricted area sign is around a lot with directional areas, reminders to wear your mask and stay apart and lineup. Depressing? You bet, but the more we do now, the sooner we can get back to having a living campus again. One of my favourite areas and one that makes it easy to move around is the tunnels. These tunnels are clean, bright, and not at all hot and dirty like other utility tunnels I’ve travelled. But make for a great spot to get some moody images when the lights go low. The final image I included took me a while to choose which one, but ended up with the main B-Wing “Promenade” as I’ve called it in my own head-canon. At this time of year, the whole place should be packed with students and staff, but it’s just empty like all the other hallways.
I chose a simple kit this week; the 50mm f/1.4 is an easy choice for two reasons. The first is that as an f/1.4 lens and shooting indoors, I can open it up nice and wide to maintain a decent shutter speed for handheld work. With the chill in the office during the winter, having that 1/60″ minimum shutter speed to avoid any camera shake is nice and that f/1.4 aperture helps. Second, with a 45cm close focus, I can get some decent details to help make an IT office just a touch more interesting. Not that I need that, my office is staffed (usually) by some awesome people and they have it done to give it a personal touch. I did get the added boost to shoot the film at full box speed (ASA-400) rather than my usual pull with the stock. Since many photographers believe that ASA-400 is not the correct box speed, but rather ideally an ASA-200 to ASA-320 film, I had a bottle of Acufine sitting around and used that to develop the film to see how well that developer, known for being one of the best for compensating for under-exposure during development. And after pulling the negatives from the tank, they looked amazing and even better after running them through the scanner. Sure they’re gritty and grainy, but you know, I rather like that 1970s Tri-X look.
Stay tuned for next week where I’ll take you into the historic downtown of Milton, Ontario.