I’ve been watching videos by professional photographers, trying to learn how to correct what I consider bad photography habits. One piece of advice, that should be obvious but wasn’t, was “move around”. Basically, don’t just stand in one spot snapping away hoping to get a great shot. Look at all angles, move around and evaluate what you see. The second piece was don’t be afraid to correct lens distortion with Lightroom or Photoshop. So, I went out on the weekend with a mission to revisit a number of locales.
My favourite is the tower down on 150 King St W. I go by it quite a bit and have tried to take photos but, yikes, they aren’t worth looking at. I generally toss them in the trash bin. I now realise I was taking the same shot over and over. This time, I crossed the road (like I said, obvious tip) and walked around the building, looking at various angles. I took about a dozen random shots and sat down to look at them. I flipped through them – nope, nope, nope, distorted and unsalvagable, nope … now that one has potential. I went back to the spot and started taking photos from various angles, finally finding the right framing. Here it is:
I almost fell on my ass bending back to take the photo. It’s dizzying looking up like that. But, I got the shot. It was important to grab the address as well. It makes the photo.
A little cropping and a bit of adjusting and Bob’s your uncle. One nice photo. I played with the tilt of the building and angles a bit, but undid them. There’s something about this particular tilting that helps fill in the sense of height and brings out the different angles in the buidling’s construction.
For a little point and shoot, my venerable Canon Powershot does a pretty fair job. The shot was a little grainy in spots for some reason, it has a habit of breaking down along defined edges, so I simply capitalised on it and used an HDR filter to emphasis the graininess. Can’t wait to get my hands on a shiny new DSLR, I’m already oggling some decent used lenses for the future. But, first, I need to get in the habit of framing the photo, looking at it from all angles and moving around more.
Wandered down to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) to grab a few shots of people. What do you know, I came away with more architecture. And a construction site. I think I may need therapy to get past my construction site passion. I did take a few photos of the mass of humanity down on King, but the best photos are the reflections coming off the buildings. I went down for a movie at 3:30pm, and when I came out around 6, the reflections were spectacular. The Bookings.com building on University and Wellington has some exciting light and mirror effects:
Yes, I did indulge in some Photoshop chicanery with these photos. I hate the tilted distortion look when taking wide shots of tall buildings. Occassionally the effect is stunning, but it wears very quickly. I’ve been practicing with the perspective warp feature on Photoshop to untilt the buildings a bit. Kind of hit and miss, but I’ll get better as I practice. Be prepared for the odd wonky looking building until I get the hang of it. The above photo came out quite well, but a bit grainy. The built in lens on my little Powershot isn’t the best for variable lights.
I’m also playing with levels more. Just a wee nudge can make a photo pop off the page. It’s especially good at bringing up the dark parts and bringing a bit of light to the shadows. Here’s the second shot, from a bit further south.Great mirroring effects. Look at the upper left of the building and you can catch the top part of the CN Tower showing off. I pulled the blue sky from the previous photo and plopped it in because the sky was completely washed out. Looked like I had cut the sky from the image. The reflections worked out beautifully. Beyond the sky fudging, the only thing done was a bit of adjustments with the levels. One of my favourite shots of the day. I’ll head back down to TIFF a couple of times and maybe I’ll actually get a couple of people shots. Don’t hold your breath, if I see one backhoe or digger, that’s all it’ll take.
Padded around Old City Hall today, looking for interesting shots. Got some good contrasting images of old buildings and the shiny skyscrappers. This shot is one of the best of the day:
This is on the north side of Dundas, standing at the front steps leading into Old City Hall. Looking east towards the Eaton’s Centre and The Bay. The sun and clouds were perfect for catching reflections and I took nearly 50 photos. Not all are worth keeping, but after scanning through them, I think there are about 8 or 9 worth working with. I’ll post them over the next few days as I finish sorting them out.
I was flipping through about 40 photos that I took today, looking for … the one. That shot that has the right shadows & contrast that begged for attention. I tossed over half the photos for a variety of reasons. They were either too bland or lacked a key element that drew the eye to it. Usually nothing stands out. Then once in awhile I get this:
Pleasant Blvd, facing Yonge Street, in front of the St. Clair Subway exit.
Sept. 22 2016.
Something about the way the light was bouncing off the buildings and that perfect blue sky. I liked the way the two buildings produce a curious optical illusion and look like they are tilting away from each other. The condo (The Clairmont at 1430 Yonge Street) at the end of the shot is an example of a better design. When it went up, it complimented the neighbourhood, rather than standing over it like some unholy carbuncle.
I was trotting along Spadina Rd, north of St. Clair on my way to an appointment when I spotted this:
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.
It’s one of those grand old buildings that deserve a lot of love:
I poked around a bit to see if I could get a peak inside, but I was a bit pressed for time and had to settle for a couple shots of the outside. This is a hotly sought after area – established, very green and well cared for area so it’s unusual to see a valuable piece of property allowed to deteriorate for so long. It must be driving the locals crazy. It’s likely home to all sorts of unwanted resident of the scurrying type by now. But still, the shell is beautiful.
And then again, it’d make a kick ass location for a ghost story: