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.

Digital art – construction sites, diggers & big ass trucks

Digital art – construction sites, diggers & big ass trucks

In my never-ending quest to explore more challenging forms of digital art, I threw myself into the deep end yesterday.  How about trucks, diggers, and mixer brushes? As readers are aware, the building across the road has been demolished and a new condo build has started. Every day I pop out to the balcony to take a couple snaps, keeping a record of progress. The building is gone and now they are digging a hole. I looked at a couple of photos yesterday and thought how great they’d look as line art.  Problem is that most filters make a clinical look. Too precise and I don’t tend to like it.  So I tried using the pen tool, and again, just a bit too precise in the outline. I threw caution to the wind and simply traced, using a couple brushes, the outline freehand.

Much better. Much, much better. Then I knew what I wanted. Using a combination of brushes, blending and mixer brush tool, I set to work colouring in parts. I wanted the machinery popping out of the line art. I’m pleased with the results.  Here it is, in all it’s glory:

Line Drawing of Digger and truck at construction sites near me

Traced the basic outline and then used my Wacom tablet to fill in the details

This is a great way to test out blending and brush techniques. The single hardest part is stopping and not ruining an effect. So, this is now a completed image. I’ll resist the urge to go in and “touch it up a bit”.  You know what this means, don’t you? You’re about to be assaulted with a stream of  construction site photos …

New Canon camera tested on some construction equipment

New Canon camera tested on some construction equipment

I’ve aquired, through a swap in services, a nifty Canon Powershot SX130. I’ve been screwing around with it for the last 24 hrs, to the point of not getting much else done.  Best part about it is the sharp, crisp images. I love my little Acer smartphone but the camera is the weakest link. Quite frankly, Acer could have done far better. It’s ok … but you need nearly pristine conditions or the edges seem weak and at times pixelated.  So yesterday, I went out and lurked with the Canon, taking some of the same basic shots previously taken with the Acer. My,  what a difference. Stronger colours, spot on contrasts and much better definition.

To be fair, the Acer phone is exactly what it claims to be – a budget smartphone with a reasonably decent camera. I suspect you will be flooded with all sorts of photos in the coming weeks as I test the Canon. While I was flipping through the photos I took over the last day, I’ve begun to see new possibilities for digital fun – things that were impossible with the smart phone. For one thing, the Canon works with a far higher resolution, offering more to work with – double the dimensions and resolution. That’s excellent. Already I’m happier with the basic output.

The other thing that has begun to amuse me is my utter fascination with the deconstruction of the CHUM building across the road. I’ve been madly taking photos of each stage, watching it slowly disappear. Now with the better camera, I’ve been able to get some decent close ups from my balcony, looking down. Wish I could get into the site to take more photos, but I’ll have to stay on the sidelines. Whoever put the fencing up knew what they were doing and it’s rock solid. Yea, I tried… well done fencing.

Here’s one of the photos I took with the zoom. I’ve been screwing around with saturation and layers again and got a bit carried away – not the best I’ve done.  I’ll have to back up and fix it. The point of the exercise was to see how well the photo stood up to poking it with a large Adobe stick. The resolution on previous photos was never strong enough to handle a lot of adjustments. So, all in all, I’m … thrilled.

Photo of machinery at the CHUM teardown - Toronto

There’s something about the tear down that makes me think of construction as art. No idea why. But it has been haunting watching the building disappear by inches.

Digital art Motion Project #3 – G’bye CHUM building

Digital art Motion Project #3 – G’bye CHUM building

For 4 decades CHUM radio in Toronto sat on the corner of Yonge and Jackes Street, sending out a signal all over Ontario. At one time, CHUM was THE station everyone listened to. The building itself was an ugly little squat, 2 story building, I nicknamed “the bunker” – not much to see. CHUM was sold to CTVglobemedia and operations were shipped down to their Richmond Street location. The new owners sold the property off to condo developers for $21.5 million who laid out plans to demolish the red brick bunker and erect an 11 story condo. I don’t think anyone is misty eyed over the demo. Anything would be an improvement.

This week demolition began and the CHUM building is rapidly vanishing. It’s all fenced off, so hard to get near, but yesterday the fencing was left open and I was able to grab a few shots to work with. I have a number from my balcony, kind of an awe inspiring view of the demo job, but not sure they are going to work out as far as digital art is concerned. I might just throw them up as is for the nostalgia fans. I snagged one great shot out of about 50 taken. It turned into a beautiful piece of industrial art work:

Digital art - G'bye CHUM. The demolition of the CHUM building

Goodbye CHUM – demolition of the CHUM building on Yonge Street
Sept 23 2016