Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Corner of Yonge & St Clair

Interesting things are happening at Yonge & St Clair. The dowdy old corner is getting a much needed face lift. While it's undergoing renovations, the owner has put up some interesting eye candy for us to enjoy:  Photo of the NW corner of Yonge and St Clair

If you are in the neigbourhood,  hop off the subway, go to street level and saunter to  the Yonge & St. Clair intersection for the show.

Photo of corner of Yonge and St Clair

Tired of winter yet? How about just a few more photos of snow?

Despite my grumblings about snow and cold, I still ventured into it Saturday. I didn’t take my DSLR and instead relied on my cell phone camera. It’s pretty good for quick shots when I go from point a to point b.  

I’ve taken shots of this crabapple tree numerous times because it presents such a striking image.  

Photo of crabapple tree covered in snow

It lends itself to black and white rather well. Unfortunately, the cell phone doesn’t capture shadows and edges when the light isn’t optimal and produces too much noise for my liking.  I really should have taken the DSLR with me, but I was too lazy.

Read more: Tired of winter yet? How about just a few more photos of snow?

Snow in the morning - a trip through the Annex

I lugged my camera with me this morning as I tromped through the Annex on the way to a job.

Photo of a snowy day in the Toronto Annex

I usually don't take it with me on snowy days. I'm a cold wimp and don't like to linger in the chill, but something about today made me decide to "be a Canadian" and embrace the cold.

Read more: Snow in the morning - a trip through the Annex

Shifting foot to foot in the cold, just to photograph a bunch of ducks

I really don’t do well in the cold.  Keep that in mind when you look at today’s photo offering. I trotted down to Queen’s Quay to snap a few photos of the ice. I usually avoid going down to the harbour during winter because it can be bitter but got this notion in my head that I had – yes had – to photograph ice on the lake. Not a clue why. And yet I did.

I’m glad I didn’t wimp out. Not a lot of photos, but a few that pleased me.  The day’s adventure was about testing settings to get the best colour balance. I didn’t exactly cover myself with glory on that end. Quite a few awful pictures, although a few stood out. I scoured them, trying to figure out what worked, what didn’t and think I’ll go back down in a week to try some new settings.

One thing I didn’t know was Toronto is the winter home to ducks that paddle around the tundra all summer.  

Photo of long-tailed ducks at Toronto harbour

They are Long-tailed ducks. Funny thing, I didn’t see a single Canada goose, but I saw quite of few of thee elegant looking birds. My lens really isn’t ideal for taking long shots of wildlife, but it did an admirable job. I didn’t know one of the birds had reared up like that until I was home looking over the photos. I’ll post a few more tomorrow after I’ve finished cropping them down.

Read more: Shifting foot to foot in the cold, just to photograph a bunch of ducks

An interesting view of concrete and light - a little night photography

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 

Photo taken at night in a parking garage showing light and shadows

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 yo spot an egregious error please drop me a note in the comments section.

Check out my Instagram and Facebook pages ->> over there to the right.  


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Catpaw with a pint & a typical bad haircutTime for a new look - the venerable cat on a postage stamp is now retired. As much as I loved him, it was time for a face lift - bad haircut & all. 

"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself."

- Albert Camus

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