Mapping TO – a quick trip around Yonge & St Clair

Mapping TO – a quick trip around Yonge & St Clair

I pottered around the neigbhourhood setting out a formula for the Mapping Toronto project. In case you missed the earlier post, I’m going to visit every neigbhourhood in Toronto and photograph elements from each area. Some areas will take multiple visits; some won’t require more than one or two because they are so tiny. This is a long term project, one that will likely take about 2 years. Why so long? Well it takes time to process photos and pick the best to showcase. And, lets be brutally honest, Toronto has 140 neigbhourhoods, even if I visit one a month (which I won’t), that spills over into 2 years worth of work. Read a bit more about the project here Mapping Toronto.

I took a quick trip around my neigbhourhood – the Yonge & St. Clair area – yesterday with my shiny new Canon DSLR to test drive a format I think will work. I’m still figuring out the details so, come back to see my progress. What I finally realised is how many fricking photos a person can take in a short trip. I dumped most of them and kept enough for about 2 articles which made me stop and rethink my approach. It’s not going to be as straight forward as I originally thought.  I’m thinking of posting the best shots and write about a handful and then set up a photo gallery you can flip through at your leisure. I figure each neigbhourhood should have enough material for about a month or two worth of posts. I’ll reserve the best for this page and throw up random extras on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m also working on converting the best shots into free wallpaper. I’m experimenting with different sizes now and will have a link up soon. Check the Memoirs section for that link. I’ll also post mutterings about the project over there in the future.

Anyway, here’s some of the results from yesterday.

Watching Traffic   Photo of woman watching traffic on Yonge St

It was very overcast and chilly when I started out. Very grey kind of day. Took the chance to grab this shot of a woman watching traffic zip along Yonge. When I processed it, I decided to enhance the grey cast.

Shopping on Yonge

Photo of man picking over fruits at stand on Yonge

There’s a great little fruit and veg shop just up the road. I was testing different apecture settings etc and accidently snagged this shot. Yesterday was mostly a test of various settings and what works best on a gloomy day and moving traffic. It came out a bit noisy so I took advantage of it and threw a grain filter onto the image. The shot was too good to waste.

Directing Traffic @ Yonge & St. Clair

Photo of cop directing traffic on Yonge and St. Clair

Pleased with this one. The northbound TTC subway was closed for repairs, which always causes traffic problems on the corner of Yonge and St. Clair. I left the camera on multi shot and just kept clicking. This was the best framing.

David A. Balfour Park Photo of David Balfour Park

This shot was a bit more complicated. I came home through the David A. Balfour park about 20 min before dusk and I looked up at the trees and thought “GREAT SHOT”.  I nipped home and grabbed my tripod so I could play with different exposures and ISO settings. I’ve been reading more on  bracket photography and fine tuning it and thought this was a perfect chance. The clouds had broken up into an extraordinary and diverse display and I didn’t want to lose them.  I still need to work on the exposure for the ground, it’s not quite there, but it works ok for this shot.

So, that’s it for today. My first real kick at the Mapping TO can. I’ll rethink how I’ll present things and take a bigger trip through the neigbhourhood this week. It’s not a large area, so I should be able to map out quite a bit of it.

If you’d like to support the Mapping Toronto project and Bitter Grounds Magazine subscribe through Patreon or donate via PayPal here. All support is appreciated. I’m working on gifts for various support levels, and hopefully will have something sorted soon.




Spectacular fall colours in the Toronto ravine

Spectacular fall colours in the Toronto ravine

Finally, a few new photos, including fall colours.

As promised, I’ve been working my way through the legions of photos I’ve taken over the years, looking for ones to play with. Most really aren’t worth keeping and I’ve been purging scads of mediocre and downright bad photos. I’m paring down to any that have potential and dumping the rest. That’s when I rediscovered about 20 I’d taken a few years ago and filed away for “future use”. These are shots from a walk in the ravine that runs along behind the David Balfour Park.  It was one of those postcard perfect fall days that produced some spectacular opportunities. Funny I forgot about them for so long because I’ve been looking for certain types of photos to use with the artistic filters in Photoshop. The filters are great, but you have to have the right shot or the effect looks contrived.

Fall colours on a sunny day

Fall colours in the Toronto Ravine

It’s hard to go wrong photographing the ravine

I used just a little dry brush, in Photoshop, to bump up the light effect on the trees. I didn’t want too much applied because I wanted the photo to look like a photo, not a painting, but give a hint of something more going on. The effect brought the leaves in the foreground out, giving them greater definition. That bright green spot up in the left was a leaf that flittered about and caught the light just as I snapped the shot. Because of the yellows and the way, the light hit the leaf, the green looks over saturated. I played around with removing it but decided to against it.

Slightly different photoshop affect

For the second one, I used smudge stick to bring out the intense light on the tree trunks. I tried the dry brush first, but the smudge filter did a better job in this case.  Second photo of yellow leaves in the ravine in Toronto

Analysing the photo attempt

Both effects are interesting and bring a different intensity to the photos. It was fun to play with for a change. I usually move straight on to HDR because there’s something about the high dynamic range that tweaks all the sweet spots in my brain. I gravitate to it like a moth to light.  But for something like the ravine, no. I fussed about with some HDR settings I like using but it destroyed the mood by creating a stark, cold mood. I even plunked a warming filter on them and then thought, nah, don’t bother. The warmth of the sun and long shadows were stripped out, so I went back to the original photos and did a bit of contrasting then applied the filters instead. Far better effect.

I have a few more I’m looking at, if you want to see them posted, drop me a line on FB, Twitter or down below in the comments field.  As always drop by Instagram to see photos that don’t always make the site. It’s turning into a weird glimpse into how my brain hopscotches around subjects.