St James Park downtown Toronto

St James Park downtown Toronto

Had a bit of fun last week after an appointment downtown Toronto. I wandered through St James Park near King and Church.  Was one of the first nice spring like days we’ve had so far.  The city gardeners were out in force planting tulips and daffodils.

Photo of St James Park in the spring

Didn’t have a lot of time, but I managed to snag a handful of ok photos. It was nice to see the fuzzy green starting to appear on the bushes.

Photo of bushes showing green leaves - St James Park

We still have a long way to go when it comes to shaking off the winter doldrums. I have to admit, I kind of like this last photo. The framing worked out better than expected. I didn’t even see the women walking in the background, I was so fixated on trying to focus on the branches. As it turns out, a lucky shot. The women, blurred in the background turned the photo into something far more interesting.

Photo of women strolling in St. James park

Now that the weather has improved, I feel more inclined to go take photos. There’s something about freezing my tail feathers off that makes me lazy.  What can I say, I can find any excuse to stay home and watch trashy TV rather than work.


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.




Chestnut trees in full bloom – David Balfour Park 2016

Chestnut trees in full bloom – David Balfour Park 2016

Chestnut tree blossoms David Balfour Park - Toronto 2016

I was cutting through the park today on my way to pick up a bag of espresso beans and stopped to admire the chestnut trees in full bloom today.  We’re lucky, the David Balfour park has a number of them, in good health, including these two:

Chestnut tree blossoms David Balfour Park - Toronto 2016

 If you don’t look closely, you’d think it was one huge stately tree, but it is two.  The original photo was too washed out to bother posting. The one above was enhanced using NIK Silver Efex using a couple of filters and Agfa paper effect. Then I just layered it over the original and tapped multiply. It brought it back to life. Nothing I could do with the sky.  The day is so intensly bright, nothing short of a lens filter would prevent the bleaching.

The problem with trying to take photos of the tree blossoms is, I’m too damned short. I have to stand on my toes to try and capture a few shots.  It can be tricky. For every 6 or 7 shots, I get one that’s acceptable.  And jumping up and down trying to catch a good photo doesn’t work … I’ve tried. All you end up with is a bunch of blurry photos.  The wind was picking up as well, which complicated things. But I managed to grab a few okay photos.   Chestnut tree blossoms David Balfour Park - Toronto 2016

 I have no idea which chestnut tree type this is, my tree identification skills are pretty sad.  If you want to see them, better head out to the park within the week. The blossoms never seem to be out for long.  

Chestnut tree blossoms David Balfour Park - Toronto 2016