Peering through the windows at Allen Gardens

Peering through the windows at Allen Gardens

How about some odd shots from a trip I took to Allen Gardens in March? Ok, I didn’t go into the greenhouse, I lurked around the outside. The place was too crowded, so I stayed in the sunshine. I have a bunch of photos left over from winter shots but, in all honesty, I simply can’t stand looking at one more photo of snow and ice. They’ll have to wait until a heat wave hits and I need a bit of relief.

I wandered around the grounds for a while, taking shots of this and that, finally ending up behind the main building.  When I took the photos, I was interested in the lines and structure of the building itself. I didn’t realise I had captured the people inside until I processed the images. Some of the shots are delightful snippets of random strangers among the foliage.

Hey, look at this photo! – random photos at Allen Gardens

Each pane seems to tell a micro story. Photo taken from outside Allen Gardens

Looking through the windows at Allen Gardens

Hide and seek

Another view of the inside at Allen Gardens, through the windows

Each windowpane tells a different story

Man yelling at tree

Photo of people in the windows of Allen Gardens

Some of the stories are amusing without context

After I looked at these, I quickly threw them up on Instagram and then wished I’d taken more.  It’s interesting that each pane tells its own micro story.   I’ve looked at the settings I used and think a second trip is in order.  Now that the weather has improved, I have no excuse… but I’m sure I’ll find one to justify my inertia.

Digital art – CHUM building demolition

Digital art – CHUM building demolition

Amazing what you can find when you lurk around with a camera. Yes, I’ve been back at the CHUM building tear down. Too many opportunities to pass up. Anyway, earlier in the week, I was over at the site testing out apeture settings, f stops etc with the camera. I’ve never been particularily good (or interested) in poking around with the settings. I’ve been pretty much a point the camera and hope for the best kind of photographer until now. With the help of a couple decent websites greared to novice photographers, I’ve started experimenting.

I’ve also started looking at stretching the filters and special effects with Photoshop. The hardest part is to stop fussing and leave a shot alone. Here’s another I’m happy with:

Photo of CHUM building demolition - tear in wall showing condos across the streetCHUM building tear down  showing condo building across the road.
Yonge St and Jackes Ave Oct 8, 2016



Digital art – Hole in the Wall

Digital art – Hole in the Wall

Been having fun with the new camera. The higher quality means I can really push the digital manipulation without fearing the photo will disintigrate into a mass of unviewable pixels. I wandered back across the road yesterday looking for more interesting photos of the building tear down. They had everything blocked off so I hoofed it around the lot looking for a spot. I found one on the backend, gates uncovered but a lot of tree coverage. I originally thought the view was ruined, but snagged a some anyway. When I got home I was surprised with a couple of them. I somehow managed to grab a spectacular shot that was ripe for HDR fun. I think I need to adjust the brightness on some of the leaves, but all in all, far better than anticipated:

Digital art - more on the CHUM demolition - Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall – Toronto site of the former CHUM building on Jackes Ave.
Oct 6, 2016

The leaf and fir needle definition is wonderful. However sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop, so maybe I’ll just leave this as is.


Using Win10’s Cortana for fast online searches

Using Win10’s Cortana for fast online searches

There’s been a lot of chit chat lately about Microsoft Cortana’s voice activated help. What isn’t talked about, as much, is how you can use it for quick searches via Edge browser using only your mouse.

example of Microsoft Cortana search results Here’s how it works:

1 – highlight a word or phrase

2 – right click on the highlighted section

3 – tap “Ask Cortana”

A window will slide open on the right of the screen with the results. Keep Cortana open by pinning it (top right corner, tap the thumbtack). This allows you to scroll through all the offerings without having to redo the right click ask routine.  When you click a search result, it shows up in the main window (on the left), leaving the rest of the list accessible.

You can even use this Cortana search for info on images you see on any webpage. Right click on a photo/image -> Ask Cortana and it will pop up information. This doesn’t always work and occassionally can spit up a rather wonky result (see here: Fun with Cortana and More fun with Cortana). Accuracy will depend entirely on whether the page designer setup the image tags correctly.  At the very least, it can be entertaining.

When you are finished, either leave Cortana pinned to the side of the browser or tap the X and close it off. Just highlight -> right click->Ask Cortana for the next search. Doesn’t matter which you choose, it’s up to you. I prefer to close the Cortana window off because I don’t like so much of my browser real estate to be used up.

Cortana uses Microsoft’s Bing (of course) so if you’re a Google fan, the lack of customization will be a bit irritating.  It also works exclusively with Edge. If you are a hard core Firefox or Chrome user, this isn’t going to be an option. Bing (like Edge) has shown a great deal of improvement over the last year and is now my go-to search engine.  However, I realize both search engines and browsers engender fierce brand loyalty and it’s difficult to get people to test drive different ones. The streamlined Bing, Cortana and Edge search mode speeds up searches and works seamlessly, making it worth checking out.