Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mother Nature's wall art - light bouncing off buildings

If you wander around any city long enough, and remember to look up periodically, occassionally you are treated to impressive light effects. That's one thing I like about Toronto. Light bounces off the skyscrappers to create special effects and give surrounding buildings a nifty textured look. The trick is, you have to be in the right spot at the right time. The sun moves just enough to change the effects and they vanish in a heart beat. I spent a bit of time stalking some of the neatest effects a few weeks ago. Here's one of my favourites: Toronto architecture - Reflection of light from buildings on No 1 Yorkville TorontoBrushed metal effect: Light bouncing off buildings at No 1 Yorkville, Toronto Oct 12 2016

Once the new condo build goes up, the effect will likely disappear forever because the sun will be blocked. For now, I enjoy walking by it. If you are near Bloor and Yonge street around noon, take a short hike north on Yonge along the east side. You can't miss the place, it's the new condo build going up at 1 Yorkville. There's a row of boarded up older buildings at Yorkville and Yonge, right across from the Reference Library. Just trot half a block north and turn south west to view the light display.  Not sure how long it lasts, but I've wandered by at 2pm and it's gone. The side of the building takes on a textured metal effect courtesy of the building across the road.

I have a number of others I've set aside so I'll work on them in the coming weeks. Drop a line down below if you wander by the spot and see the effect.

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Digital art Motion Project #5 - hardhats & pipes

I've been busy working on more photos - spent a couple days taking hundreds of photos around the city. A couple have potential and I've set them aside for later.  Also working on a second series devoted to the demolition & build across the road. I have a perfect roost to watch & record the process. Some of the demolition has been impressive. Right now, there isn't much left of the old CHUM building, mostly rubble. Soon they'll start digging a deep hole for the parking space. I'm sorting the photos, trying to make a bit of chronolgical sense of it. I'll ruthlessly pare threw them and toss 90%. Most of the earliest shots, done with my phone aren't worth keeping, except to mark the start of the project.  In the meantime, I'll throw the occassional photo up, but have set the bulk of the project aside for winter work.

I've also been working on fine tuning my dodging & burning techniques. Using a slightly different method that gives me great control over how much contrast I get.  I finally have a system that allows me to get an exagerated, hyper real contrast that doesn't end up looking cartoonish or overblown. Very pleased with the results. It takes a lot longer, but satisfying. Here's one I worked on yesterday. Took hours to get the contrast between shadows and light the way I wanted. Digital Art: Yonge St Construction

 Construction Workers on Yonge - Oct 13 2016

There's a tremendous amount of construction going on in my area - you pretty much trip over the sites. This was shot on Yonge St north of Bloor at the huge new condo build. Not sure if the old store fronts will be kept or torn down. Be a shame if they disappear. Construction workers were strugging with some pipes out front and were having a hell of a time. Took a couple of snaps and thought yea, they'll do.

Anyway, this is a couple of different effects, including HDR Toning (Photorealistic High Contrast), NIK HDR Efex and a lot of dodging & burning the pipes and workers to over emphasis the details. Took hours to do ... partially because I sneezed at one point and destroyed some work. Had been so absorbed in some details, I forgot to save for awhile, something I rarely do. I'm a 'save save save" kind of computer person. A little pissed when I realised how much damage I'd done. 

I need a better name than Motion Project. It seems a bit ... silly at times. The point of the project is to look at everyday scenes in a large city and turn them into digital portraits of the city.  For the time I'll keep the name, but it will likely shift. Any suggestions are appreciated. 

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Digital art - Hole in the Wall

Been having fun with the new camera. The higher quality means I can really push the digital manipulation without fearing the photo will disintigrate into a mass of unviewable pixels. I wandered back across the road yesterday looking for more interesting photos of the building tear down. They had everything blocked off so I hoofed it around the lot looking for a spot. I found one on the backend, gates uncovered but a lot of tree coverage. I originally thought the view was ruined, but snagged a some anyway. When I got home I was surprised with a couple of them. I somehow managed to grab a spectacular shot that was ripe for HDR fun. I think I need to adjust the brightness on some of the leaves, but all in all, far better than anticipated:

Digital art - more on the CHUM demolition - Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall - Toronto site of the former CHUM building on Jackes Ave.
Oct 6, 2016

The leaf and fir needle definition is wonderful. However sometimes it's hard to know when to stop, so maybe I'll just leave this as is.  

 

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Digital art - CHUM building demolition

Amazing what you can find when you lurk around with a camera. Yes, I've been back at the CHUM building tear down. Too many opportunities to pass up. Anyway, earlier in the week, I was over at the site testing out apeture settings, f stops etc with the camera. I've never been particularily good (or interested) in poking around with the settings. I've been pretty much a point the camera andd hope for the best kind of photographer until now. With the help of a couple decent websites greared to novice photographers, I've started experimenting. 

I've also started looking at stretching the filters and special effects with Photoshop. The hardest part is to stop fussing and leave a shot alone. Here's another I'm happy with:

Photo of CHUM building demolition - tear in wall showing condos across the streetCHUM building tear down  showing condo building across the road.
Yonge St and Jackes Ave Oct 8, 2016

 

 

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New Canon camera tested on some construction equipment

I've aquired, through a swap in services, a nifty Canon Powershot SX130. I've been screwing around with it for the last 24 hrs, to the point of not getting much else done.  Best part about it is the sharp, crisp images. I love my little Acer smartphone but the camera is the weakest link. Quite frankly, Acer could have done far better. It's ok ... but you need nearly pristine conditions or the edges seem weak and at times pixelated.  So yesterday, I went out and lurked with the Canon, taking some of the same basic shots previously taken with the Acer. My,  what a difference. Stronger colours, spot on contrasts and much better definition.

To be fair, the Acer phone is exactly what it claims to be - a budget smartphone with a reasonably decent camera. I suspect you will be flooded with all sorts of photos in the coming weeks as I test the Canon. While I was flipping through the photos I took over the last day, I've begun to see new possibilities for digital fun - things that were impossible with the smart phone. For one thing, the Canon works with a far higher resolution, offering more to work with - double the dimensions and resolution. That's excellent. Already I'm happier with the basic output.

The other thing that has begun to amuse me is my utter fascination with the deconstruction of the CHUM building across the road. I've been madly taking photos of each stage, watching it slowly disappear. Now with the better camera, I've been able to get some decent close ups from my balcony, looking down. Wish I could get into the site to take more photos, but I'll have to stay on the sidelines. Whoever put the fencing up knew what they were doing and it's rock solid. Yea, I tried... well done fencing.

Here's one of the photos I took with the zoom. I've been screwing around with saturation and layers again and got a bit carried away - not the best I've done.  I'll have to back up and fix it. The point of the exercise was to see how well the photo stood up to poking it with a large Adobe stick. The resolution on previous photos was never strong enough to handle a lot of adjustments. So, all in all, I'm ... thrilled.

Photo of machinery at the CHUM teardown - Toronto

There's something about the tear down that makes me think of construction as art. No idea why. But it has been haunting watching the building disappear by inches.  

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

- Dorothea Lange

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