Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Saturday, April 29, 2017

1929 apartment building in Toronto - abandoned & unloved

I was trotting along Spadina Rd, north of St. Clair on my way to an appointment when I  spotted this:

 Toronto Spadina Rd abandoned apartment building 467 Spadina Rd, the Monticito apartment building, built in 1929.  Evidently it's been abandoned for 7 or 8 years now and in limbo. I’ve been digging through city records and have found applications by the current owner to renovate it rather than demolish, so that’s good news, but that application dates to 2014. 

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Closeup photography - fall plants & a busy bee

Quite honestly, I'm surprised I've not been stung yet. I love taking photos of bees but man they are hard to catch. I have to get up real close with my little smart phone and almost shove the lens up their stingers to get a shot. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't do this so often in some stranger's garden.  One day I'm going to get stung or arrested, not sure which.

This was taken Sept 2014 in the David Balfour Park, Toronto:

Photo of a bee on purple flowers taken Sept 2014 David Balfour Park

I love it when a photo comes out just right. It took a lot of patience to snag this shot, but well worth it.




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Something a little different - poster for the website

Experimenting with something a little different this week.  I want a create a poster to promote the website. It's an interesting excercise, if for no other reason to create a sense of focus about the website's mood. Parts of the poster design will hopefully be incorporated into a basic web redesign sometime this summer. 

What I have discovered is I REALLY, REALLY like cityscapes. After combing through my photo archives, I realised how often I take photos of buildings.  I've gone back to some buildings a number of times over the years to capture different angles.  It's been illuminating.  Second thing is how much I like urban and industrial design. No, not the wretched concrete boxes that are often mistaken for design. I'm talking about metals, gears, wheels and factories. I take photos of the most unlikely things, including rusted hinges, patches of interesting metal or cracked brickwork and layer them underneath urban scenes. You don't get to see much of it because I often toss the work into a big folder titled "experiments" and move on.

I also seem to like rust. Yes, rust as in the stuff you scrap off metal. Rust offers up so many textures to play with, it's unbelievable.  Oh and shades of brown. No idea why, I just like brown. It's quite hard to move away from it. So I let myself go with the poster and pulled together a few of my favourite things: rust, skylines, night shots, clean simple fonts, space and the colour brown: Poster for Bitter Grounds Magazine 

My first poster draft had coffee beans in it. While looking at it, I figured they weren't necessary - this site isn't about coffee or even espresso so why have a coffee bean on the page? I eventually settled on this cityview. I used a companion photo taken in 2010 on a brochure for someone last year and decided to see if I could transform it into something completely different.  It's a view of Yonge Street from my balcony on an april evening around 11pm. I must have stood out there taking photo after photo that chilly night.  I layered another photo of a spot of rust underneath, then on a brown layer to give it the right feel.

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Poster design 2 - pushing myself out of the same old rut

I'm thinking of creating a new sub-category for the Photo Log -> Art & Design or Exploring Art & Typography. Not sure yet, it depends on how frisky I get.  I've been looking over my attempts at design and decided to try and push myself out of the same old / same old pattern. I tend to gravitate toward textured backgrounds and deep browns way too much.  So .... here's my second kick at the can: Bitter Gardens Magazine poster

 I wanted something that has a fairly generic urban feel. The view is Yonge Street in Toronto, south facing. The CN Tower is off to the right, hidden behind the buildings.  The photo itself isn't anything to write home about, but I liked the overall feel to it.  The previous poster was pretty good, but too derivitive of something else I'd done for a customer. Nice poster, but didn't really push myself to learn a new technique or try a different approach. I spent the last 3 or 4 days evaluating fonts for different uses along with expanding the colour palette stored in my brain.  I had an embrassing amount of fun creating a series of retro feeling headers. It's an interesting exercise matching fonts to colour schemes. The dreaded 1970s avocado green was the most difficult, but with the right contrasting colours to balance it, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works.

Anyhow... I digress as usual. The scene in the photo is Yonge Street, south of Pleasant Blvd on the little cusp of a hill leading to Summerhill. It's a bland little photo but popped alive with NIK's Color Efex Pro filter Bleached Portrait. I didn't tweak the filter at all, just left it as NIK made it. I like the sense of space this photo gives far more than the previous photo.

The main font is HWT Unit Gothic by the Hamilton Wood Foundation1. For the tagline and address I switched over to Adobe's Chaperral Pro. It plays well with the tall, condensed feeling of HWT and makes the web address very readable.

Overall a nicely balanced effort. It has the urban feel I was trying for in the last try, without all the over complicated fussing. When I finish playing with the retro headers I'll pop them up. 

 Read More:

1. Learn more about the Hamilton Wood Foundation at the Hamilton Wood Type & Print Museum


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Last shot of May - Ivy covered building in downtown Toronto

I never know when I'll see something that makes me want to stop and take a photo.  Today, trotting along the hall of a building near St Lawrence Market, I saw one.  I pass by this window quite often and I love the building. I take the back route specifically to stop and admire it.  Taking a photo through a window is tricky - glare, rain spots, dirt all conspire to turn a potentially great photo into a crap shot.  But today ... oh today was different:

 Photo: Ivy covered building near St. Lawrence Centre Toronto


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