Toronto is a large, diverse city and every so often I remind myself that not all photographic adventures require me to leave town. I pick a part of the city and go for a walk, often with no destination in mind but with a general idea of how I will meander around the area.
I start with some basic research on what’s going on in the city at the time. In the summer there are generally local activities in a variety of neighborhoods I can visit. Also, I like to visit art galleries and photographic expositions at the same time. I find they provide creative energy and I appreciate the works of others. So I end up with a rough plan for the walk, but often veer off as something catches my eye.
I travel relatively light. Usually my 24-120mm f4.0 with the 50mm f1.4 tucked away somewhere, though it is unusual for me to change lenses unless I want the extra speed with reduced light.
On this particular trip, a rather long walk through town and along the lake, I started at the Ryerson Image Centre to see the most recent photographic exhibits. Outside is a large pool where I sat down with a coffee and captured the man using a spare chair on the table to shade his laptop. From here I walked to Nathan Philips Square at the City Hall, home to a weekend music festival and found some patrons sheltering themselves from the sun.
I carried on to the waterfront and walked along the boardwalk eventually coming across people leaving the end of the Caribana Parade. Not quite tired, I headed back towards home and came across buskers in the distillery district.
When I get the itch to take photos, I remind myself there is a ton to photograph right outside the door.
Heather Pollock is brave.
Heather is a friend of mine, a professional and excellent photographer with her first gallery show. Most people see photographic art through the final image while photographers experience it. We make creative decisions about where to shoot, how to capture the raw image, how to process the image and even how to display it. The creative options are as infinite as any art form.
So, to put a price tag on your work and then display it to friends and strangers for comment seems pretty brave to me. All those decisions open to scrutiny. Heather’s selection of images, primarily black and white canvasses, range from moody HDRs, the east coast, and portraits of Canadian musicians. While not technically in any of the images, there is one where I was holding the light stand.
Heather is sharing the space with two other artists. Kathleen Urdah works with encaustics and Tommy Vohr, another photographer, works exclusively in the iPhone world with multiple exposed images you have to see to believe.
If you can spare a little time, please spend it at QLIX Studioz at 228 Queen Street East (at Sherbourne). You can also see a preview of the work and more information on the artists at qlixstudioz.com.
I’m not sure if it is unique to our street, or just to me, but we tend to break bread together frequently. We are fortunate to have a number of excellent cooks on our street with a wide range of cultural influences. As the warm weather approaches, we move outside and get together on the spur of the moment rather than planned dinner parties.
Of course, this gives me an opportunity to capture my friends, who have all come to see my camera as a natural extension of my face. When I first moved here and took pictures, they glared at me; those long stairs that say, “What the #%$* are you doing?” I smile, put the camera away, then slowly retrieve it and carry on. I think I wore them down, and they do like the end results.
I’ve caught some really special moments as everyone has become more comfortable. Mother and child, child licked by dog, and James above caught by the light through a window in his kitchen preparing dinner for the mob.
Yes, I cook, too. I always have. I think it is an extension of the creative urge that is part of my attraction to photography. I love staring at an open fridge and then preparing a meal, although on occasion this has resulted in nothing more than a boiled egg. I attend cooking school at a local college because, much like photography, understanding the theory and techniques first allows me to be creative later.
So, while I will do my share of cooking, I like to think I repay some of the trust my friends show by documenting our time together and sharing with them the moments I’ve captured.
If I never sold a print, that would be enough.
Posted in Event Photography, Low Light, Portraits, Street Photography
Tagged Arts, Dinner, event photography, friends, low light photography, photography, street photography, Toronto
Sometimes you just have to change your perspective a bit. I was at the Distillery District in Toronto, a set of old buildings once used for distilling liquor before prohibition and now an interesting collection of shops, restaurants and art galleries. Last year I assisted a friend shoot a wedding here in the old brick buildings and cobblestone road.
I originally came here to visit the CIAO exhibit. I’ll be lazy and quote from the http://www.thompsonlandry.com site:
“GAIA is the latest tour de force of Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil® and first-ever private space explorer to publish a book chronicling his photographic journey. GAIA is comprised of sixty stunning photographs of the Earth taken from 220 miles away during an eleven-day trip in space, with unique views of nearly forty countries. Proceeds from the sale of GAIA benefit ONE DROP.”
Many of the photos in the exhibit, all outdoors on metal (see photo right), seemed more abstract than photographs of the earth. Many show patterns of colour and others graphic images from sand dunes, mountains and rivers. All were beautiful and make an important point about the scarcity of water in so many places.
Of course I had my camera and ironically, I ended up focusing on an old rusted Fargo pickup truck where I decided on some close up shots. I like landscape but when I am not enamoured with the view I tend to look closer. In some cases, very close (I do carry a macro 105mm just in case). I noticed the truck when we stopped for a coffee and remembered that a lot of wedding photographers use this and another old wagon as props. The sun was out, but I managed some photos when it dipped behind some clouds for a while.
They were taken with my 24-120mm f4.0 walking around lens. When I do photographs like these, I tend to try and bring out as much contrast and detail as possible. I used the high pass filter in Photoshop twice (once at 30 and again at 1.5) using a soft overlay blend. I also sharpened using the unsharp mask, keeping the radius high and the percent low. You play around until you get something you like, but I used 30% and a radius of 70 for these photos. One of the photos is so abstract you wouldn’t know it was a panel on the truck (right)
While I can’t afford to float 220 miles above the earth for a few landscape photos, I can certainly cosy up to something nearby and get equally interesting photographs. Well, at least for me.
Posted in Close Up, Nature, Unusual
Tagged Arts, close up photography, Distillery District, Guy Laliberté, nature photography, outdoor photography, Photograph, photography, Techniques and Styles, Toronto