Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Little dirty birds - don't forget to look down

A companion piece to yesterday's "look up" instructions. Don't forget to look down too:

Photo of a sparrow taking a dirt bath

I look for little indents in the dirt - sure way of telling birds are using the spot for dirt baths. I'll lurk a few feet away and wait for them to return and then try to catch them in full bath mode. It's not as easy as it sounds. With the exception of this photo, all the rest are little grey and brown blurs. He at least looks fluffed up.

Then again, you can turn a corner and find yourself eye to beak with someone:

Photo of a sparrow sitting atop a bushHe didn't move, just sat there giving me the eye. Nice of him to pose for me.

 

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Never know what you'll see when you look up - a little winter tree pruning

I was in the Davisville area yesterday, heading over to setup a new computer for a customer. I usually cut through a park and hit the Beltline trail then hike up a small embankment to get to her place. It’s a short walk and quite scenic. Yesterday I heard a lot of sawing and trees creaking so I looked up and spotted this:

Up a tree - photo of worker in a tree cutting branches

I watched for a few minutes as he hiked his helmet up a bit and then thought “oh hell, the camera”. I lug it around a lot now but forget I have it. I was able to grab a couple of snaps before I realized I was going to be late, otherwise I’d have stood there most of the day watching.

I think I like taking photos of people doing work I could/would never consider doing. I admire them and consider some of my photos an homage to them. No way in hell I’d clamber up a tree, in the winter, cutting off tree branches. I've set this photo aside (and a couple companion pieces) to use on the Motion Project. Haven't figured out how I'm going to deal with it, but you'll know when you see it.

I found one drawback with my nice Canon camera – it doesn’t geolocate. I relied on it heavily to remind me where I’d taken the photos. I’ve resorted to carrying a small notepad in my pocket to jot down locations. It’s the only way I could save my sanity. Sometimes old school is the only method available.

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Light effects on buildings - King St & Yonge

Just off Yonge St, south, west of King, you can find Commerce Court. Linger there, on a nice day and enjoy the sunshine and relative quiet in the downtown area. If it's a bright day, you'll be treated to one of the best special effects shows in town.  Wander around the courtyard and look up - you'll see a variety of visual effects going on.  Commerce Court is surrounded by shiney, reflective skyscrappers that offer up a variety of shots to capture. One of my favourite effects is the mirrored buildings:

Commerce Court reflections - downtown Toronto buildings

It's an impressive rippled mirror effect.  Like a living mural, constantly changing with the sun. Don't forget to look a little lower. Buildings to the north create a neat white patterned effect on the shorter concrete buildings.  Enjoy.

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Update on the construction site across road - AUGERS OH MY!

I haven't had a lot of time over the last 3 months to do as much on Bitter Grounds as I want. That also included taking photographs around the city. Just not enough time in the day. Now with the sun setting so early, it's become a bit harder. But my schedule freed up dramatically as of last Friday. To celebrate, I wandered across the road to take photos of the construction site.

So, the old CHUM building is nothing more than a memory. All the rubble has been cleared away - that was a huge job in itself. The crew have now moved the big equipment in to start laying the foundations for the condo. I chatted with one of the workers and he was kind enough to explain what they are doing. Most of us think "dig a hole, throw in concrete, build that thing", but the technology behind doing it right is amazing.  Once they cleared away the old foundation, they moved the big toys in to do the drilling. Ever walk past a site and see these: Photo of a construction auger and cement truck

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Read more: Update on the construction site across road - AUGERS OH MY!

More Photoshop art - buildings & a Beswick wren done with Wacom - first try

I'm working on my Wacom/Photoshop brush techniques. Well, that's a flattering way of saying I'm trying to teach myself how to use different brushes in Photoshop. It's quite amazing how flexible they are. I've spent years working with Photoshop, strictly for photos, never seriously looking to use it for original art. I'm working towards a full freehand drawing, but my brush control has a long way to go first.

To date, I've been using photos and doing line tracings of them and then "painting" them in. It's a great way of expanding a brush skills. I'm working on a photo of Osgood Hall and Toronto City Hall I took a few weeks ago. Here's the first pass:

Toronto City Hall taken from grounds of Osgoode Hall in TorontoI'm trying for a water colour effect again. That's something I was never any good at - real water colours. I'm too impatient, which is a weird confession considering I'll spend hours tinkering with a picture in Photoshop or drawing on paper. Here's the second draft, without the blue sky.  I turned the layer off on this draft until I fill in some of the building along the top. I'm actually quite pleased with the way the sky worked out though.

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Read more: More Photoshop art - buildings & a Beswick wren done with Wacom - first try

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

- Dorothea Lange

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