Ugg it gets dark early now. Is it too early to say “can’t wait for spring”? Anyway, on my way home the other day and I had a thought. I’ve been reading up on taking sharper, defined photos which in turn led me to some ideas about night photography. When I came up off the subway I thought no time like the present and hiked up to the roof of the public car park I cut through on my way home. Ok, I’m exagerating. I took the convenient elevator to the roof.
MAN IT WAS COLD! I was shocked how cold it had become. I’d been inside all day and didn’t realise how the wind had whipped up. I wandered around the roof testing out shutter speeds, ISO etc to see what I could do. I was a little more than pleased with the results – I’ve posted a few on Instagram and Facebook. Didn’t take long and I decided time to go home for a cup of tea and warmth. For a Canadian, I’m a real winter wimp. When walking towards the ramp to the elevator, I was struck how the light was playing off the concrete. Shadows, light and angles – all the ingredients for something that might be fun to play around with. I took four photos with different settings and toddled off home.
When I fired up Photoshop and looked them over, one stood out. I played around with it, switched one layer to black and white, bumped the highlights and shadows, increased the grain and fussed a bit. Then I blended it with colour layer until I had just the right feel. And here it is:
Concrete and Light
What gave me the idea were a couple of photographers who stressed “don’t be afraid of grain”. So I used it to my advantage. If you’re the curious type, here are a few details – ISO 1600 F5.6 27mm +1.67 1/8. Who knew concrete parking garages could be so moody.
Quick note: I wrote this on the fly so if you spot an embarrassing typo please drop me a note in the comments section.
Check out my Instagram and Facebook pages if you want to see extras that don’t make it to the site (links below)
I’ve been up to my eyeballs in non-blog related matters and haven’t had time to keep up with the backlog of articles I have partially prepared for Bitter Grounds. Things have straightened around (a bit) and I’ll be back posting this week. I keep Instagram/FB sites fresh with new photos so you can head off there to see what I will be working on – there’s always time to toss up a couple photos.
Hopefully after tomorrow, my schedule will be back on track.
Does this mean I should cancel my plans for the weekend?
I’ve started carting the camera about on calls around the city. Yesterday was another gloomy old day in Toronto, which turned out to be excellent for testing settings. I walked along Yonge St. heading west and took lots of photos. Lots and lots. Different settings, different angles, different subjects. Oh boy, I’m such an amateur when it comes to DSLRs. But, it will come with practice. I’m struggling a bit with getting things in sharp focus. The framing is ok, but I haven’t mastered the art of staying still while taking the shot. Sigh. The pros make it looks so easy. Once I have that irritating part of photography mastered I think I’ll invest in what’s called the “nifty fifty” prime lens. Looking at the 50mm Canon lens, it seems like it might bring a new sharpness to my images. No sense getting that until I figure out how to stand still while clicking the shutter.
I’m still working on a good gallery sequence to use. But none so far tick all the boxes for me. I’ll keep looking. I’ll also set up a new section for the Mapping Toronto project. I’ll keep this section for random shots I want to share and the new section specifically for documenting each neighbourhood so the work flows better. I’m thinking of a different name for it as well, not sure what to call it. Any ideas?
Now, to yesterday’s photos. While scooting through them I noticed 2 that stood out because of the composition and contrasting content.
Lunch Break at Varsity Stadium
Crossing at the Bata Museum
Something about the colours and long view with each person doing their own thing against a coloured backdrop intrigued me. I remember taking each photo, but didn’t see the connection until I blew both up on the screen and looked at the content carefully. After seeing these side by side I had one of those bingo moments and cropped them to match sizes. Yea, I’m pleased. I left them a bit underexposed primarily because it really was an awfully gloomy day and wanted that reflected in the photos.
Check out my previous posts if you want to see how my work is slowly progressing. And stop by my patron to support Bitter Grounds.
I pottered around the neigbhourhood setting out a formula for the Mapping Toronto project. In case you missed the earlier post, I’m going to visit every neigbhourhood in Toronto and photograph elements from each area. Some areas will take multiple visits; some won’t require more than one or two because they are so tiny. This is a long term project, one that will likely take about 2 years. Why so long? Well it takes time to process photos and pick the best to showcase. And, lets be brutally honest, Toronto has 140 neigbhourhoods, even if I visit one a month (which I won’t), that spills over into 2 years worth of work. Read a bit more about the project here Mapping Toronto.
I took a quick trip around my neigbhourhood – the Yonge & St. Clair area – yesterday with my shiny new Canon DSLR to test drive a format I think will work. I’m still figuring out the details so, come back to see my progress. What I finally realised is how many fricking photos a person can take in a short trip. I dumped most of them and kept enough for about 2 articles which made me stop and rethink my approach. It’s not going to be as straight forward as I originally thought. I’m thinking of posting the best shots and write about a handful and then set up a photo gallery you can flip through at your leisure. I figure each neigbhourhood should have enough material for about a month or two worth of posts. I’ll reserve the best for this page and throw up random extras on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m also working on converting the best shots into free wallpaper. I’m experimenting with different sizes now and will have a link up soon. Check the Memoirs section for that link. I’ll also post mutterings about the project over there in the future.
Anyway, here’s some of the results from yesterday.
It was very overcast and chilly when I started out. Very grey kind of day. Took the chance to grab this shot of a woman watching traffic zip along Yonge. When I processed it, I decided to enhance the grey cast.
Shopping on Yonge
There’s a great little fruit and veg shop just up the road. I was testing different apecture settings etc and accidently snagged this shot. Yesterday was mostly a test of various settings and what works best on a gloomy day and moving traffic. It came out a bit noisy so I took advantage of it and threw a grain filter onto the image. The shot was too good to waste.
Directing Traffic @ Yonge & St. Clair
Pleased with this one. The northbound TTC subway was closed for repairs, which always causes traffic problems on the corner of Yonge and St. Clair. I left the camera on multi shot and just kept clicking. This was the best framing.
David A. Balfour Park
This shot was a bit more complicated. I came home through the David A. Balfour park about 20 min before dusk and I looked up at the trees and thought “GREAT SHOT”. I nipped home and grabbed my tripod so I could play with different exposures and ISO settings. I’ve been reading more on bracket photography and fine tuning it and thought this was a perfect chance. The clouds had broken up into an extraordinary and diverse display and I didn’t want to lose them. I still need to work on the exposure for the ground, it’s not quite there, but it works ok for this shot.
So, that’s it for today. My first real kick at the Mapping TO can. I’ll rethink how I’ll present things and take a bigger trip through the neigbhourhood this week. It’s not a large area, so I should be able to map out quite a bit of it.
If you’d like to support the Mapping Toronto project and Bitter Grounds Magazine subscribe through Patreon or donate via PayPal here. All support is appreciated. I’m working on gifts for various support levels, and hopefully will have something sorted soon.