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

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 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)

Yonge Eglinton Centre –  concrete aGoGo flare & nowhere to sit

Yonge Eglinton Centre – concrete aGoGo flare & nowhere to sit

I wander all over the city in the course of a week – I pretty much see it all. The other day,  I was cooling my heels up at Yonge and Eglinton, or Young & Eligible as it’s demographically referred to by some. Anyway, the big plaza on the NW corner was under refurbishment for a couple of years. Platforms, coverings, construction for months and months made it look as if the entire concourse was going to have a full facelift. Every time I nipped in I thought wow, wonder what magic they are pulling. Imagine my surprise when it was finally unwrapped to display a barren wasteland that looks like an unwanted GoGo club:

Inside Eglinton Centre

Unwelcoming and uninviting are two words that come to mind – big, blocky, barren, clinical and not a fricken place to sit!

They turned the shopping centre from a place you could go and relax to a through fare where everyone rips through without stopping to shop. Nothing invites you to stay. Well, the lights do change colours to change the mood from a over the top, neon-vomit inducing pink fluffy bunny on acid to clinical, intense florescent white on white that washes over you like a depressing hospital corridor:

Inside Eglinton Centre

The over all design encourages people to move along as rapidly as possible. Nothing entices you to stroll along to the back end of the mall.  Notice the complete lack of seats. Nothing to make a customer linger:

Yonge and Eglinton CentreYonge and Eglinton Centre
All in all, the effect gives a sense of urgency, when you are enter. You get the feeling you are supposed to get in and get out as quickly as possible, don’t stand around.

The food court downstairs is far worse. It’s so dim and bland, I simply couldn’t get a decent shot.  It’s an industrial ring of hell – light fixtures hanging from a concrete ceiling, exposed pipes and rails painted gray. The designers didn’t seem to think of sound baffles so the noise can be explosive at times.  The wretched  industrial gray doesn’t get the taste buds eager to try anything so why bother. I’ve been in cafes that had an industrial look and when done right, they are incredible works of art that indulge the eyes and senses.  This food court seemed like an afterthought.

What was done outside is a bigger travesty. There used to be an open court where you could bring a lunch or coffee out and enjoy the day. Some benches, a cafe with tables and plant boxes gave it a nice feel. Bit windy at times, but generally a nice place to take a break.  It’s gone – gone gone gone. Just a big claustrophic wall of noise where the little courtyard was:

Outside Englinton Centre

Nothing the owners can do now will turn this into anything but a blighted urban bunker. Not sure if the designers were deliberatly going for urban wasteland, but if they did, well … kudos .. well done.  It feels as grubby as it looks on the outside. The inside is too clinical and calculating to enjoy.