Here are a few more photos I took along the streets of Toronto last week. Was it last week? Time is melting into one big mess at the moment. Anyway, after looking through the photos I took at dusk, I realised some of the ones I thought were great, weren’t, but a little work with Photoshop brought them back to life.
The work I’ve done in understanding the camera’s histogram and using it to avoid blowing out the highlights and blacks has paid off. I was able to tweak the photos and bring back the colours and balance. It’s all a learning experience.
Picking over the photos, I realised even with a tripod, I still have issues getting a photo straight. No idea how I managed it, but I had to correct quite a few. They weren’t as bad as usual, but I think I’ll have to start paying closer attention to that little bubble on the tripod’s level. Sigh. I’m planning a trip out later this week, so fingers crossed I manage to get things right.
Streets of Toronto – Looking south on Yonge
Yonge near Front St
I enjoy playing with cropping. Adjusting the length and widths changes the focus points dramatically. This was an ok photo on Yonge, but when I cropped it, the focus shifted from all the buildings and glass to the lights rushing along Yonge. The eye immediately hits the red lights and then follows up and down the street. I love narrow views like this. I’m eager to go out again and try more street scenes.
What got me the most are the lights in the corner building. The windows look crisp and warm, just the way they were that night.
Looking South on Yonge
Looking South near the hockey hall of fame
This one was ok. I’m a bit unhappy with the overall sharpness, so that’s another area I’ll have to focus on. I’m not a fan of soft-focus photos, I prefer HDR stylings. I used a mix of AV settings and full manual for all the shots. I did a couple of tests with full auto and was not impressed. The streaming lights weren’t captured, and the camera focused on all the wrong light centres. I guess that’s what it’s about. I know what I’m trying to say with the photos. Automatic is just a mindless function and doesn’t share a vision.
I wish I’d waited a little longer so the lights at the bottom left were moving. The glare is too much and spoils a bit of the balance. But I’m content with it.
Last shot – another look at the Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey Hall of Fame
For some reason, the Hockey Hall of Fame has been my white whale. I must have close to 200 photos of it, taken over the years. None, until this batch, were satisfying. The balance was always off, the lighting and shadows were wrong. It became a mind-numbing experience, but I couldn’t stop trying. Not sure why everything clicked this time. I suspect it’s because I was far more patient than previous expeditions.
I did play around with this photograph in Photoshop before I was satisfied. I used the software’s autocorrect to bring a better perspective to the image first. After that, I pulled down the amount of yellow. I need to explore the camera’s settings a bit more to understand why everything was so yellow and how to prevent it in the future. Once the colour balance was corrected, the building’s shadows popped out.
The sharp lines and clarity in this photo surprised me. I must be brutally honest; I didn’t expect it. I’m used to slightly fuzzy edges in any of my night photos. The lesson is clear – tripod & patience are the keys.
Don’t forget to look at my previous post on night photography. These are more from the same batch of street photos so enjoy.
2 Streets of Toronto photos – dusk in the city
At long last, I’ve begun to take photos again. I spent a bit of time testing aperture and shutter speed settings, attempting to capture some interesting visuals. Took a couple of hours, but I managed to get some pretty good shots. I wandered down to Queen’s Quay (one of my favourite haunts) last month. I played with getting a couple of close up lens attachments and filters to improve my photos but decided against it. After examining various lens, (I’m not talking about genuine macro lenses) I decided the better option is to continue with my nice starter lens and keep working on the basics.
Part of the decision was based on a sense of being underwhelmed with sharpness of the lenses. I really like sharp lines and crisp colours, both were lacking with any of the lenses I investigated. But regardless the quality, all the lenses in the world won’t help if you don’t know the basics. I’m still struggling with aperture & shutter speed. I made great inroads last year but after taking so much time off, I lost a lot of the knowledge. I didn’t pick the camera up for months. And when mom died in April, I just lost my heart for photography. We had worked together on improving my skills – mom was a good critic and gave wonderful advice on content and colour balance. I really miss her input. I focused on getting up close and personal with the subjects this time. Can’t remember if I used the macro settings or not. Next time I’ll remember to take my little note book with me. I took a lot of time composing the shots, played with settings to see if I could get a fine balance between shadows, light and sharpness. Here’s a series I worked at the hardest.
ISO 100 f/4 1/1000 – full colour photograph at Queen’s Quay
These images are unretouched. Part of the project was to work with camera settings only to get the best possible quality out of my Canon T6. So you get the unedited versions. By squatting down and angling up a bit, I was able to capture both the brilliant blues in the sky and the subtle yellows in the shadows. I tweaked a few settings to get the colour balance just right. Vivid colours came through. After I took a few shots, I switched things up a bit. I kept the same aperture & shutter speed, an played with colour vs B&W.
ISO 100 f/4 1/1000 – black and white settings
Same spot, same settings except for the colour. This was an interesting exercise. I was curious about maintaining the sharpness, but highlight the shadows. The colour photo is more visually appealing. It captures the fine details a little better. It also has a crispness about it that this black and white lacks.
ISO 800 f/18 1/200 – black and white settings
Not sure why I ramped the ISO up so high. I think part of it was to see what happens. I adjusted the aperture & shutter speed as well. Didn’t come out grainy like I thought it would. Bit surprised, actually. And I like it. Completely different feel with this shot. Not so finely detailed, but the shadowed areas really pop out. The impression is a bit wispy an softer. Again, I didn’t do any post production, just adjusted the image size so it wouldn’t bog down the page. I think, if I used ISO 400, it might have been better. The shadows would have been richer. All in all, it was a good afternoon. It’s easy to forget how much fun it can be wandering around the city with a camera. I’ve got a new photo project I’m starting tonight, which will be a real challenge. I have access to a south facing balcony for a few days so I’ll be able to do a bit of night photography of the Toronto skyline. This will be a real challenge. The golden hour is around 7:30, the sky is bright an clear. I’ll wait around for the sun to set as well and see what I can do. The tripod is already leaning against the door, waiting to go with me. Hope you enjoyed the photos. As always, don’t forget to check out the rest of the site. Lots of photos and rambling thoughts to entertain you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Don’t forget, follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (little links down below). Hit the like button and make me happy.
I’ve been whiling away the hours by looking through photos I’ve taken over the last couple of years, especially the wall art. They’ve been bringing back good memories of long walks with mom and reminding me of the incredible encouragement she offered while I got Bitter Grounds off the ground. She was always saying “just go show people the city the way you see it”. It was good advice. Although mom was never fond of all the construction sites I lurked around. She figured I should have gone into construction so I could play with the big toys. So, to connect with mom, I’ve been looking at some of the photos we sorted through and enjoyed.
This was trip along Bathurst, running south, from a trip sometime in the summer of 2018. There’s a lot of great architecture and wall art scattered all through the area. One of the best examples was a defunct restaurant’s artwork. The art is starting to fade, but is still pretty lively.
I loved the way the shadows played along the wall. This is a good spot to stop and recharge.
The entire village scene is fun, but the part I like best is the bar scene.
I’m not sure who the artist is. Pity, they should get credit for this. It really evokes a mood, doesn’t it. I think it’s one of my favourite hidden gems. When the quarantine is lifted, I’m going to trot back over there to see if it’s still there.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be revisiting the photo archive. I kept the bulk of what I shot so I could use it as a measuring stick to evaluate my skills and growth. Can’t really go out and do any photography at the moment so it’s a good time to examine my work with fresh eyes.
Thanks for the camera mom.
It’s Sept already, summer is gone and I didn’t get much time to wander the city taking photographs. I did get a some decent bee photos so all wasn’t lost. Bees don’t really care if you lurk around taking photos of them and by and large ignore any pesky photographer. I’m using a standard kit lens that came with my Canon Rebel which doesn’t have the best zoom abilities. I have to exercise a great deal of patience when trying to photograph small objects, especially those that zip about on wings. I spent nearly an hour stalking different bees recently. Out of nearly 100 photos, I came out with 4 or 5 that were publish worthy. The rest were blurs of activity.
These photos were taken at Ramsden Park (Yonge St across from Rosedale subway station) and Queen’s Quay’s flower gardens. The bumble bee was in the flower patch in front of my apartment building though.
Here’s the first Portrait of a Bee Ignoring the Irritating Human:
Bees seem to love purple flowers
Not sure why, but they all seem to be drawn to purple flowers. If I spot a patch of purple, I’ll bee line to the flower patch to check out the activity. I’m never disappointed. The colours were pretty good and the bee photographed nicely. Not as sharp as I wanted but I was content with it.
Here’s a closer look at the bee
This next photo was a bit blown out, colour wise. I had a hard time adjusting for the sun’s intensity that day. I’m still working at mastering camera settings so they are second nature. The bee came out pretty good though.
Too busy working to care about me
I was super excited about the wing clarity on the next bee photo.
Beautiful translucent wings on this one.
The wings are gorgeous. I’ve tried repeatedly to get clear photos of bee wings. Their delicacy is breathtaking. But, they are rarely still long enough. I got really lucky this time. I was happy with the colour balance and exposure as well. The hairs and eyes were pretty sharp too.
The garden’s outside the building I live in is alive with bumble bees. Every plant is loaded down with them. I stalked around the garden for nearly an hour in August trying to get good shots. I especially like the colour combination on this one.
Bumble bee working away on the flower
I was so close to this particular bumble bee I’m surprised she didn’t come up and sting me. She just worked away and ignored me. The eyes came out nicely. I feel like I could reach out and pat her.
And finally, the one that made me the happiest.
The details on this photograph still surprise me
No idea how I managed it, but I finally captured a bee with stunning (for me) sharpness and clarity. The little hairs on her back are wonderfully clear. It was brilliantly sunny out. I really struggled with the sun’s intensity that day. Many of the photos were washed out, with the purples looking anemic. I adjusted settings over and over until I got this. F11 1/500 ISO 100 if you’re curious.
Love the details on the flower petals as well. I can usually get the flower focused or the bee, but rarely the two at the same time. Bonanza with this photograph. I’m thinking of getting this one framed for my wall. It gives me a big high water mark to strive for in future photographs.
I’m hoping Sept is a bit better for getting out around the city. So many places to go and so little time lately.