Toronto skylines and a bit of bracketing

Toronto skylines and a bit of bracketing

I’ve been fussing about with bracketing photos to create a crisp HDR skyline. I’m experimenting with exposure bracketing and keeping things as simple as I can, hoping to get a crisp horizon. My first attempts were pretty sad and we’ll never speak of them again. I looked at the scene carefully this time and set everything up a bit differently, shrugged on my winter coat, setup the tripod and stood on the balcony in -10 windchill to take another stab at it.

Well, here’s the result:

Photo of Toronto Skyline using bracketing I’m blown away by the sharpness. I fussed with the vibrancy etc a bit, but the shadows and light playing off the buildings along Yonge street jumped right out on the bracketed shots. I’ve tried for months to try and get the reflections, but nothing worked until I was able to bracket the shots. When I looked closely, I could even make out details in the construction site across the street. This is the first time I’ve been able to get a fairly well balanced shot that isn’t underexposed to such an extent, the shadows were hopelessly blown out.

I have a lot of fine tuning to do, especially leveling out the tripod before taking photos, but not a bad beginning. I’ll lug the tripod off to other locations so you don’t have to keep looking at the same skyline. I think it’s time to start the Mapping Toronto project! Hopefully I’ll start in the Yonge St. Clair area in the next couple of days.

Look below ↓ for links to my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I throw up a few extra shots on these accounts, ones that don’t always make the cut here.

Mapping Toronto – let’s start with Yonge & St. Clair

Mapping Toronto – let’s start with Yonge & St. Clair

My long term photo project is now underway. The bulk of it won’t officially start until I have my DSLR camera, which will likely be sometime in Nov.  I’m waiting for the Black Friday sales before spending my hard earned dollars.  Anyway, I’ve decided to photograph every neighbourhood in Toronto – a project what will take a  long time, but will be fun (see the link below for more info).  I’ll be traveling on public transit to  each neighbour in the city and will try to take photo record of each area, looking for something that makes the neighbourhood unique.  I’m still sorting out how I’ll present everything, but I’m going to kickstart the project today with some photos I took during the summer.

I’m going to start here, with a sideways map:

Map showing Yonge & St Clair neigbhourhood

Always start at home, right? My neighbourhood, a sliver of the city, is an interesting mix of slightly dowdy to old and established. The dowdy parts are now being revitalised and it’s been fun documenting the changes. I have a backlog of photos I’ll use to start the project. When I get the new camera, I’ll retake some because I’ll be able to get a more satisfying sharp focus. I enjoy my little Canon Powershot, but it just can’t get that pristine clarity I really like, it leans more towards soft edges.  I’m getting fussy with what I want to post. But, I’ve managed to snag some very nice snapshots of a neighbourhood going through change.

The biggest change has been the corner of Jackes and Yonge, just south of St. Clair.  The squat, unremarkable CHUM radio building was located on the north east corner for decades before CHUM abandoned it for newer quarters. It sat for awhile, with a few businesses in residence coming and going until the owners kicked it down the fall of 2016. I’m surprised it disappeared with no fanfare. Granted I thought it was an ugly structure and I don’t miss it, but it would have been nice if the city commemorated it’s contribution to Toronto’s cultural history. If you didn’t grow up in Ontario in the 50s, 60s and 70s, it’s hard to understand what a huge impact it had on most of us. Everyone listened to CHUM.

Here’s a mediocre shot taken with my little cell phone camera. You can see the diggers are already ripping the back of the building down.

Photo of the CHUM building being torn downIt really was an ugly as shit 2 story building, filled with a ton of Toronto history. I didn’t think of taking photos when the teardown started. It wasn’t until the diggers moved in and started dismantling the building that I began to wander out and take photos. Check out 1050 CHUM MEMORIAL BLOG by C F Turner for an interesting look at CHUM in it’s heyday.

Right now the spot is a big hole in the ground. The construction firm is laying the foundation for the new condo complex that’s going up. When the big crane was being erected I took the chance to grab photos of the action. Here’s my favourite:

Photo of men preparing to install cab on construction cab

A great shot of the men preparing the cab for the crane.

I have this in colour, but there’s something about the black and white effect that worked so well for the series. Partially, I was trying to hide the soft focus the Canon adores, which drives me bonkers at times. All in all, the above photo came out great! I cropped it a number of times until I had the movement just perfect. I especially like the two men off  to the side watching the action. This is when I worked towards breaking the point and shoot habit. I took my time to think about what I was trying to capture. Did multishot as well, but the time delay in the Powershot is comical. Turned out to be faster just to keep hitting shoot.

Here’s the next one:

Photo of crew unloading toolsI left it in a grainy colour, the black and white didn’t work as well on this shot, but colour made everything come together.  Just after this, the real heavy lifting started.

Photo of worker standing on top of crane component with chainsI call him “King of the crane”. He was standing on part of the disassembled crane, getting ready to hoist the cab onto it. Most of the photos from now on are black and white. Partially to hide some flaws, but also the camera, for some reason, created a horrifically unbalanced colour in many photos. Popping into B&W sure settled them down and contributed to a sharper image. Photo of worker standing beside crane

He didn’t have to wait long:

Photo of workers readying cables

Starting to hoist the cab.Photo of cab being hoisted into air

Long photo showing cab being hoisted into airThe last photo was a still from a video I took of the action. Most of the video wasn’t worth looking at, but a couple of the stills were spectacular.

It took from about 7am to well past 9pm to assemble the crane and install it. I have more photos, but, unless you are really into crane porn, it gets a bit repetitious. Turns out, I really like watching construction sites at work so you’re likely going to see a lot of this type of photography scattered among the rest.

Oh and where did the little cab go? Way up here:

Photo of the cabin installed and hoisted into place

Must be one hell of a view of the city from that perch.

Photo of the crane fully erected

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Read more on Mapping Toronto here https://bittergrounds.com/index.php/diary-of-a-mad-cat/494-i-have-a-plan-involving-a-map-a-presto-card-a-camera

If you’d like to contribute to this long term project go here https://bittergrounds.com/index.php/become-a-patron

 

 

Furthering my construction site obsession

Furthering my construction site obsession

I’ve been flipping through the photos I’ve taken over the past couple of years and noticed a growing trend. I’ve become a bit obessessed with construction sites. You may see a hole in the ground, I see a strange bit of art going on – creating something from nothing. I was shlepping around Berczy Park towards Yonge yesterday and saw the left overs of a completed skyscrapper. It’s been under construction for … feels like forever, but let’s just say a long time. At the far east of the building is a small area with a bit of equipment behind fencing. I got all excited and a bit goofy with my face pressed to the fencing muttering “cool, diggers come in small sizes”. Felt a bit embarrassed when I realised the man walking behind me was watching. Oh well, not the most embarassing thing I’ve ever done in public, won’t be the last time I accidently say out loud what’s binging around in my brain.

It was cool. I’ve only seen the big, big diggers and this was so compact, not much bigger than a Bobcat. It was awesome. I’d love to drive around in one! No seriously, I would (speaking of utterly embarassing myself). Don’t think there is enough insurance in the world to cover the damage I’d likely bring down around me. What would be cool is to be able to get inside one for a bit and take photos. I wonder what the view is like.

Anyway, I’m digressing. I took out my handy camera and grabbed a few shots. This time around, I tried to pay attention to the over all framing of the shot. I have a hard time reading the screen to set up the photo so next camera will definitely have an eyepiece. I  took a few shots, being mindful of the buildings around and the sidewalk layout. When I fired up on the laptop to look at them I was impressed with the way the colour of the buildings complimented the digger (what is the name of that machinery?). The sky was blown out, not much I can do about that. A simple filter will help in the future. But the structure was exactly what I wanted.

Photo of a small construction digger

I threw it into Photoshop and ran a few filters to draw out the yellow in the buildings and the machinery. I have a thing for deep, rich blacks and bumped the black up so the colours come out sharp but not over saturated.  I compensated for the bad sky by increasing grey content so it complimented the dirt and gravel. I remember looking at the site thinking the piping on the ground would be a good center to take the shot and turns out it’s spot on. So another Construction Site Still Life to add to the collection.

I wonder if diggers come with training wheels.

Scenes from my balcony – no not a Romeo story

Scenes from my balcony – no not a Romeo story

I’m going to start a new series titled “Scenes from my balcony”.  Every week something chaotic, silly or fascinating seems to play out below and I have a perfect perch to watch the drama unfold.  A notification went up earlier in the week warning Yonge would be blocked Friday night and Saturday for a construction crane installation across the road. Didn’t think much of it beyond I might get a few cool photos. Last night when the equipment was moved into place I took a few ok shots. In the wee hours of the morning I briefly stuck my head out the door to see what the “beep beep beep” was about. Workers were already rustling about down there. I thought way too early for this, crawled back into bed and threw a pillow over my head.

When I woke up and stepped out onto the balcony, I had a “HOLY SHIT” moment. This greeted me:  Photo of a construction worker hanging off crane hitting it with a sledgehammerI’m pleased with that shot. Not at all bad for a little Canon Powershot.  It did a servicable job on the photos throughout the day. It’s weak spot is night light so most of the night photos are a wash. I’ll likely end up tossing them. I still came away with some great photos.

Attaching the last piece on the crane

I guess this is what happens to the kids who play with building blocks and Lego – they grow up and find bigger Lego kits to play with.

Photo of crew waiting for concrete blocks to be lowered onto crane The crew was still climbing around when the sun began to set.

Photo of late evening sunset over the workers on the crane. It’s 9:30 pm now, the sun has set and the workers are putting away the equipment. The crane is completed and Yonge street should open up by 10:30pm. I can hear banging and motors still going, so they’ll be a while yet. Long, long day for the crew. Fascinating one for me.

 

Too much mud … a job I couldn’t do

Too much mud … a job I couldn’t do

Yes, my favourite topic – the construction site across the road. They’re almost done with the augers and looked like one was packing up. I spoke to one of the workers and he said they have just the north side left to drill. I’ll try to get some more video before they go. But …. this picture is why I don’t think I could ever do construction work:

Photo of construction worker surrounded by mudWay – too – much – mud! Holy smokes it was like a mud bath over the weekend. Swimming in pools of water.  When I took the photo this morning, most of the water had drained away. Still a lot of muck about. All those metal girders sticking out of the mud are the reason for all the drilling. The augers drilled holes for each one. When the steel thingy was dropped into the hole, it was filled in with concrete.  The site is ringed with them.

Not sure I’d be able to handle being up to my eyebrows in mud. I have problems when there’s mud on the floor, can’t even imagine working with this much mud and dirt. They are made of sterner stuff than I, across the road.