Still learning the basics of photography – streets of Toronto

Still learning the basics of photography – streets of Toronto

I was wandering around the Queen | University area the other day and was struck by the sheer number of people everywhere.  I hung out on the corner of University and Queen Street for about 30 min doing nothing but snapping crowd shots.

University and Queen Street

University and Queen Street


University and Queen Street

University and Queen Street

By the time I got to Union Station, the volume of pedestrians was tiring. I don’t come down at rush hour very often because of the press of humanity, but once in a while, it’s fun to people watch.

Photo of crowds of pedestrians at Union Station

Union Station

I wasn’t paying enough attention to the settings so not a lot of the photos were crisp enough for my tastes. They’ll do, but other photos I took that day  (not posted yet) were studies of specific scenes, rather than street vistas and came out wonderfully sharp with a good colour balance. 

I set out to keep the photos at around 24mm to test what type of lens I should consider for my first prime lens. I spent a day doing nothing but taking 50mm another 35 etc. So far, the 24mm seems to float my boat the most.  I’m leaning towards the Canon EF-S 24MM F2.8 STM lens. I like long, full shots that pick-up lots of details. I’m not a huge fan of bokeh and prefer seeing details happening in the scene, so I think the 24mm might be what I’m looking for. However, I really need to work harder on the mechanics of photography before I get to that point.

So … it’s time to return to lessons and read up on strengthening clarity and sharpness. Even the best lens in the world is a waste of money if I can’t get the basics down. 

Waiting for the TTC @ Union Station – digital art

Waiting for the TTC @ Union Station – digital art

I’m glad I found my Wacom. I really missed it. I’ve been fussing around with it quite a bit lately, trying to create a decent brush archive. I think I’ve created a series that seem to work well for my style – between 28-38% opacity, 25-37% flow with build up and wet edges. This gives me the colour and feel I’m looking for.

I’m still cheating on the startup – I’m still doing a hand line trace of the photo, but excluding elements I don’t want in the final product. I’m also trying to do a looser outline, with more a hint of the movement in the background. And that’s were the real fun begins. It’s interesting using different brushes and colour buildups to give the illusion of a train flashing past. I didn’t do any blending this time around, I wanted a rougher feel to the movement. It’s still Photoshop paint by numbers, but eventually I’ll get to the place I want to be. I’ve begun sketching with pencil, similar scenes. So far, yeeks. My sense of perspective still screws me around. Might help if I didn’t keep getting left and right mixed up.

All in all, I’m rather pleased with this:  Digital art of people standing on the TTC platform at Union Station


Original photo was taken  at the Union Station TTC platform on a warm afternoon. Northbound to Finch, Line 1.

More #TTC subway horrors – anxiety driven artwork at track level

More #TTC subway horrors – anxiety driven artwork at track level

I spend way too much time on the TTC, but it sure beats sitting in the traffic above ground. Which brings me to more horrors along the Union Station stop. I swear, the artist behind them must hate humans. The people are usually so bowed and defeated looking. I’m puzzled why they were picked:

No happiness for you

I call this one “Happiness is two cars over”. Bleak, depression and mind numbing. I caught a cool reflection in the one on the right, which makes the photo a bit more interesting. Otherwise meh.

Then we have the two at the far end of the platform:

unhappy pair - ttc art

Mr and Mrs Thundercloud.  They could be pensive, or tired. But I’ve noticed a real trend with the artwork on the TTC – everyone looks loaded down with worries.

This one isn’t bad.

Artwork on the TTC - I have to pee.

The kid simply looks bored or eager to get off because he has to pee.  Take your pick.

In a city brimming with talent, they should have picked something that doesn’t evoke such negative emotions.

Dreariest artwork in the city – TTC Union station fail

Dreariest artwork in the city – TTC Union station fail

I’m sure my friends are a little tired of hearing me mutter about the artwork in the Union TTC station. I’ve been nattering on for months now. I’m not a person who thinks art should be all fluffy lambs and pretty scenery – art can and should challenge. I like gamboling livestock, don’t get me wrong, but I really enjoy art that offers me something new each time I see it. There is a lot of modern Canadian art I’ve grown to deeply appreciate. Which brings me to the title of this photo essay: “Dreariest artwork in the city”. When the TTC renovated the Union stations, they did a great job. Big, bright, roomy. And then they slapped up some of the most depressing images on the platform:

unhappy people - artwork on the Union TTC stations stop

It’s an endless row of depressing, dark and oppressive images that stretch along the length of the platform:
leering man - artwork on Union TTC stop

It doesn’t end, stretching from one end to the other. I call the one above “The Leering Man”.

Hopeless mother W/ child - art on Union TTC stop
I feel utterly hopeless when I look at them … not really the imagery you want on a subway platform. A bit further up from where I was standing is an appalling set that includes people with horribly distorted fingers, a mother figure who looks utterly wretched and hopeless with a child picking it’s nose.

I’ve actually overheard someone say to meet them on the platform near the kid with his finger up his nose. It’s that bad.

Holy Hanna TTC, throw us a bone, offer something that doesn’t make me feel like flinging myself into oblivion. Maybe even a fluffy lamb or two? Something? Anything but what’s down there.