Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Monday, December 18, 2017

An afternoon in the ravine - David Balfour Park bugs 'n stuff

Pottered around this afternoon in the ravine behind David Balfour Park. Lots of green and buggy things down there to enjoy. Far too many of the 2 legged creatures today using the paths so no chance of catching any wildlife. Still a nice day, all in all. 

I've decided to save for a better camera in the fall. I'm currently using a Canon PowerShot SX130, which is a pretty decent point and shoot camera, but it's frustrating if I want to set up a close up shot. The macro zoom sucks. I've given up on it. It takes forever to set up close ups and is severely restricted in how close (especially with macro) I can actually get. Second issue is the view screen. I can't see close up very well so it's kind of irritating setting up shots at weird angles because the screen is pretty much a big blur. I'm going to see if a Canon with a swivel view screen is in the budget. Also, the new camera must have a better colour balance - this is a MUST. I find the Powershot, although fun to use, often bleaches out colours. The greens are never quite right and lean more towards a bluish tint, which I'm constantly correcting with Photoshop. A proper DSLR camera will also let me pop filters onto the lens to compensate for intense sunshine. Hopefully cloud cover will come out with more depth. 

I'm thinking of sticking with Canon and hopefully will find one in my bracket. Henry's Cameras usually has a good selection of used DSLR and lenses. I also need read up on f stops. Fussing with it on the PowerShot seems to be a lesson in futility - does bugger all.  It's pretty limited in what it can do. Oh and the biggy on my wish list? Better control over focus. I'm tired of the camera trying to pick the focal point. I end up with more blurry shots than I can count. I'd prefer to be able to manually focus. The Canon PowerShot says it has manual, but it's more a glorified "point and we'll help you focus" kind of focus. Also be nice if the ISO were a bit more sensitive so night photos would actually look decent. Lots of research to do. I'm a bit wobbly with the mechanics of DSLR cameras and the ins and outs of photography. Time to educate myself about fstops and iso settings so I know what I'm actually doing. 

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos from today. 

Photo of a moth on a thistle plant

It took me forever to catch this moth. Well, okay, not forever, but it felt like it. Taking a photograph of these little white moths is like trying to bottle a will-o-wisp. They flit about so quickly, plus my camera really does stink at close ups. Got a lot of great shots of blurry white spots on thistles! Want to see those? 

Read more: An afternoon in the ravine - David Balfour Park bugs 'n stuff

Waiting for the TTC @ Union Station - digital art

I'm glad I found my Wacom. I really missed it. I've been fussing around with it quite a bit lately, trying to create a decent brush archive. I think I've created a series that seem to work well for my style - between 28-38% opacity, 25-37% flow with build up and wet edges. This gives me the colour and feel I'm looking for.

I'm still cheating on the startup - I'm still doing a hand line trace of the photo, but excluding elements I don't want in the final product. I'm also trying to do a looser outline, with more a hint of the movement in the background. And that's were the real fun begins. It's interesting using different brushes and colour buildups to give the illusion of a train flashing past. I didn't do any blending this time around, I wanted a rougher feel to the movement. It's still Photoshop paint by numbers, but eventually I'll get to the place I want to be. I've begun sketching with pencil, similar scenes. So far, yeeks. My sense of perspective still screws me around. Might help if I didn't keep getting left and right mixed up.

All in all, I'm rather pleased with this:  Digital art of people standing on the TTC platform at Union Station

 

Original photo was taken  at the Union Station TTC platform on a warm afternoon. Northbound to Finch, Line 1. 

Self portrait? Me and the graffiti

Nice day to wander about with a camera. No rain, for a change.  Was down on Bloor and Bathurst taking a few shots - it's one of my favourite areas to lurk because it's always busy. I was standing outside Honest Ed's (former discount department store, now vacant) looking at all the graffitti that has proliferated. CIties are quirky creatures - they seem to abhore a blank canvas. Leave something long enough and it will be filled.

Some of the graffiti was imaginative; the wall art is spectacular in spots. And then you have the garden variety idiot with a spray can and zero talent. Those are the ones who tag the windows. While standing in front of one of the large windows, I thought the reflection would make a great non-standard selfie. I actually loath selfies for a variety of reasons. I do enjoy self portraits - shots that speak about the neighbourhood and person taking it. When I was standing there looking at the window, graffitti and people striding by, I was struck by how the image captures the empty building. So, I grabbed a couple of shots. When I sat down for a coffee to look over the photos, I ran one through a couple of basic routines - saturation, contrast, increasing shadows yada yada yada and here it is: Photo of graffitti on window - self portrait

Motion Project - Self Portrait of an Urban Scribbler July 07 2017 Bathurst and Bloor, Toronto. Originally meant the scribbler tag to mean me, but after looking at the tagging, it seems to have a double meaning. I'm including it in the Motion Project because it has a kinetic feel to it and fits with what I think of as a city in motion. Kind of cool shot.

Toronto skyline & a bit of Photoshop fudging

Not a clue how I managed to create this:
 Photo showing north skyline @ Yonge and St. Clair looking west Toronto

It's a view from my balcony - north skyline of Toronto, last summer. I fussed with it a bit off and on during the winter, trying this and that. Problem is, I wasn't keeping any notes on what I'd done. I simply created it, saved a copy and moved on. I found it while culling photos and thought "cool". I like it but for the life of me can't figure out everything I did. I vaguely remember using it to experiment with saturation and highlights. I enjoy tweaking saturation for a specific effect to draw the viewer's eyes to a feature I'm interested in.  I also remember thinking St. Mike's cemetery should standout. It's one of the oldest cemeteries in Toronto, surrounded by highrises and condos. Not a lot of people realise it's nestled where it is.  

I think I was trying to make some of the architectural features pop out as well. I'm endlessly fascinated with how highrise buildings change neigbourhoods and how simple design elements can radically change the view. To the left of the photo, the blue building (not that bue in real life), has a cool pattern that shows up if you adjust the highlights a bit. I've noticed that in a couple photos. I suspect that was the intent behind this work - trying to make the balconies and windows reveal their patterns.  

Kind of cool. It's now my desktop background. I do have notes on what Photoshop elements I was experimenting with around Christmas so maybe that will clue me into what I did.

More intriguing reflections on Toronto architecture

Still going through the mass of photos I took about 2 weeks back. I've discarded nearly half. But found a few that are intriguing. If you stand in the right spot, on Dundas and Yonge (in Toronto), you can see some stunning optical illusions. With the right mix of cloud cover and sun, the reflections off the mirrored buildings can present a dizzying appearance.

Photo of buildings on corner of Yonge and Dundas Toronto with a mirrored effect

It's difficult to tell where the actual corner of the building starts because of the intense optical mind games.  The ladder reflections are from the building on the right. The part that's cool is the section with the red circle. It's from the same building, but a south facing wall, not west. Oh, and that panel is also south facing. Bend your brain around those optics for a second.

The photo would have benefited from a decent lens filter, but the camera I own doesn't allow for them. I've put a new SLR camera on my wish list for next year. But in the meantime, this little Canon does a great job and is fun to use. I'll be posting a few more shots in the next day or two. My work schedule suddenly became far less irrational and I have a bit of time to potter again.

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"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."

- Dorothea Lange

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