benchandlakefront-1signature.jpg
Lakefront Bench

Lakefront Bench 6:11 am

Toronto, Ontario

 

Standing at the water’s edge, the bicycle path just behind me, I knew I was early, by at least half an hour. It was only 5:30 am, but the sun rises quickly, so I began. What piqued my interest more than the encroaching blue hour was the emptiness of the waterfront, particularly the benches. 

I took several shots, with different focal length lenses. The sky by itself would not be so pleasing an image without foreground. I focused on the bench, and the leading lines it created as well as the three lines to the right (brickwork, asphalt, and railings). I also experimented with my first panoramic shot, which failed miserably. Hence the final image is actually the first shot in the series. I deliberately concentrated on the wooden slabs, and in post-production I highlighted the puddles that reflected the rain from earlier that morning.


Part of the allure of the image is the starbursts. Although shooting at f/22 naturally creates a pleasing effect, I’ve designed my own starbursts that I insert in post-production.

 

​August 29, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/22  15 secs.  28 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

Lakefront Bench 6:11 am (colour)

Toronto, Ontario

 

​August 29, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/22  15 secs.  28 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

Inuksuk 6:15 am

Notes: I took almost 10 images, a rarity for me, as I usually only take two or perhaps three. The challenge was to capture an image that omitted the Toronto cityscape, and yet still demonstrated the strength of the structure both structurally and aesthetically. That early in the morning, and shooting at ISO 50, most of my exposures were about 1 minute, as I inadvertently caught the movement of the clouds adding to the drama of the image.

 

I eventually merged three exposures in Photoshop to create a higher dynamic range photo. I increased the colour balance adding blue, purple, and magenta. Unexpected was the green hue of the grass. I digitally removed distractions such as garbage cans, and some smaller buildings in the background. Due to the Covid, I avoid downtown Toronto, even that early in the morning, and so most of my work has been along the waterfront and with very encouraging results. I’m also using more layer masking as I can better control the process of “dodging” and “burning” throughout the process to reduce excessive file size.

Inuksuk 6:15 am

Toronto, Ontario

Missing from the evening before was the 7:30 cacophony of pans and whistles throughout the corridors of my neighbourhood. The sound of appreciation replaced by silence, not to be confused with calm. The next morning, I cycled along Dundas Street, through Parkdale and along the bridge above the Palais Royale. Still lit from the previous evening, I passed through its will-o'-the-wisp of green neon.

The inuksuk is my most challenging subject to date.

As the blue hour began to fade, I leaned my bike up against one of the large rocks that surround the inuksuk, a Inuit stone structure often found in the arctic as a guide to travellers. Built on Toronto’s lake shore in 2002, its presence has always fascinated me.

Shooting was difficult as I scavenged for foreground while simultaneously being careful to crop out the cavalcade of lights that are so much a part of Toronto’s urban landscape. I changed angles, tripod height, and lenses many times. This image was taken about thirty minutes into the shoot as clouds moved quickly in the background. I recall the disappointment as the sunrise slowly quieted the magic of the blue hour. It would be another Covid-19 day that would end in silence. Millions of Canadians would continue to isolate as Ontario shut down, yet the front line workers would continue to put themselves at risk for the greater good. Time would leapfrog forward as it had since the outbreak in March. I wasn’t saving lives or passing legislation. The most I could do was capture an image, perhaps that of a better view of the world, even if only for 1.3 seconds.   

August 22, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/14  1.3secs.  37 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

Casimir Gzowski monument

10 seconds

Toronto, Ontario

 

August 26, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/20  10 secs.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

memorial-1-3canvassizeonelayerflatfinalb

10 seconds (colour)

Toronto, Ontario

 

​August 26, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/20  10 secs.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

View from Cherry Street Bascule Bridge

View from Cherry Street Bascule Bridge

Toronto, Ontario

 

August 16, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/14  1/125 sec.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

View from Cherry Street Bascule Bridge

The Way Home

Toronto, Ontario

 

August 16, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/14  1/125 sec.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

Alexandria Leaving

Sunnyside Pavilion 6:16 am

Toronto, Ontario

 

August 13, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/11  1/13 sec.  18 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

cruise--ships-1-4layeredgoo.jpg

Lake of Shining Waters 6:08 am

Toronto, Ontario

 

​And then sometimes nature just hands you a gift.

I’m not easily discouraged but I am bothered when one or two shoots go by without capturing at least one satisfying image. On my third outing, I cycled along Queens Quay in Toronto on my way to the wavedecks. With Lake Ontario to the right of me,  I noted the blue hour breaking above the water. As I had planned out the shoot for the morning, it didn’t include any last-minute detours.I had to make a split-second decision.

While I was certain the wavedecks would be there another time, I couldn’t say the same for that moment. I stopped my bike, and began to work. Panicked, I shot with whatever lens was on my camera.  Once I had taken one or two photos (anything better than nothing) I regained my composure and attached my 17-28 Tamron lens- lightweight, inexpensive, and often tack sharp.

August 16, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/16  .8 sec.  28 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

dock-1-2abestsofarfullfrbur.jpg

The Audacity of Hope 6:14 am

Toronto, Ontario

 

Trump had begun collecting mailboxes as if Halloween candy to be hoarded. Protests still raged across America. George Floyd’s death was becoming eclipsed by time, although many fought to hold the memory. Swaths of America continued to be ravaged by the virus that burned unchecked. Trump fiddled. I thought of Obama, his speech in the rain, the night he dared to dream and to challenge.

Over 170,000 Americans dead.

When I look at this image, perhaps one of the most tranquil I’ve taken in recent times, I’m reminded that things are often not as they seem.

August 16, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/16  1/5 secs.  17mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

boardwalk-3flatfinal_edited.jpg

Boardwalk looking east 5:49 am

Toronto, Ontario

August 13, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/11  15 secs.  28mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

boardwalkfinalAugust-152020_edited.jpg

Boardwalk looking east 5:49 am

Toronto, Ontario

Waking up at 3:30 am may is a small price to pay for many of the images the morning light offers. My preference is morning photography, only having taken a handful of photos in the evening. I also preferred mornings in order to minimize my exposure to the Corona virus. Early morning shoots are inherently more difficult for me as I always arrive before sun-up, so I rarely see what I’m shooting until it appears, or often not! It is the wonder and magic of the new light that keeps me waking up as early as I do.

This was  a challenging photo as I desired a very particular look, that of early morning fog/mist. Once the photo was processed I then completed the process by combining a white layer mask of low opacity, then erased the elements everywhere but the buildings in the background.

August 13, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/11  15 secs.  28mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

Palais Royale Morning

Sunnyside Pavilion 6:04 am

Toronto, Ontario

 

I’m looking for something. Ever since I was 16 or 17, when I first began writing, I’ve been looking.  I’ve found many wonderful people, things and events along the way. Still today I look.

 

Toronto sits on the edge of Lake Ontario. Bike paths and beaches  run the length of the city. In the summertime, the boardwalk is by far the most frequented recreation spot. I had awoken without an alarm clock, looked outside to find darkness.  I arrived at to the boardwalk just past the blue hour meaning I was unable  to capture that quintessential morning glow. Still, in the distance, was the last of the sun-up, casting a light magenta hue above the lake.

The image took about 3 hours to fully process, but by the end of the evening, I had found a thing, very close to what I had looked for.

August 13, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/11  0.4 sec.  28mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2/8

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's  Church 5:51 AM

Toronto, Ontario

August 1, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/13  2 secs.  48mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2/8

Morning Light/Summer Rain

Morning Light/Summer Rain

Toronto, Ontario

The sound of rain on the city streets woke me. Soon after, there was a short pause during which I bolted outside to see what ponds or pools of water I might be able to incorporate into the image. I came across this newly built structure, and just as I positioned my camera, the rain began again. The "sunspots" in the image are raindrops on the camera lens.

I don't usually work in colour but the image was an opportunity to dabble, and to experiment with new techniques and even dare to challenge my style.

 

August 2, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/22 5 secs.  17mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2/8

panowide.jpg

St. Mary's  Church 5:51 AM

Toronto, Ontario

 

Beginning my day at 4:00 am isn’t unusual on shooting days in the summer. In fact, it’s both standard and rewarding. Riding my bike down Bathurst street on my way to the church, I noted that while I had just starting my day, most Torontonians were just returning home. Ah, to be young again.


Unfortunately, the church that had caught my eye in early spring, was now under heavy construction with lumber stacked feet tall at the front of the building. The sun was beginning to rise. I felt like a vampire seeking shelter, but in this case, it was a photograph. I had been looking for something grandiose and powerful like the St. Vincent de Paul pillars I had shot the previous week, but now, with the rising sun, any image would suffice.

 

I rode to the side of the building  where the sky slowly dissolved over the church roof. Although past the blue hour, there remained brick, artificial lights, and faint sunlight. I’m happy with this image as even though St. Mary’s church has been photographed many times, no one (to my knowledge) has captured this quaint, but significant part of the church’s architecture. 


I had recently downloaded the latest version of Photoshop, and took advantage of its new features. My workflow was a combination of Lightroom, Serge Ramelli's Lightroom pre-set (Sunset), and Photoshop CC. This was also my first use of black and white layers masks for dodging and burning, as well as the Quick select tool to replace the sky. Each photo took approximately 3 hours to complete.

August 1, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/13  2 secs.  48mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2/8

k.g. Sambrano St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul 5:51 AM

Toronto, Ontario

"We must never ever give up, or give in or throw in the towel. We must continue to press on! And be prepared to do what we can to help educate people, to motivate people, to inspire people to stay engaged, to stay involved and to not lose their sense of hope. We must continue to say we’re one people. We’re one family. We all live in the same house. Not just an American house but the world house."

 

John Lewis

July 18, 2020

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL 17 mm 1/5 sec. f/11 ISO50

Sony 28-70mm F3.5

k.g. Sambrano

Faith Impact Ministry (originally the Major Cinema)

Toronto, Ontario 2020

The quarantine continued—incessant  hand washing, blue gloves, face protection, curbside pickups. Toronto had reported 4,628 cases of the virus and 229 deaths.  Due to the social distancing restrictions, I self-isolated and revisited past unprocessed digital images.

 

I consider Toronto's streetcars to be the informal ambassadors of the city's history. It was by happenstance in the summer of  2018, that the streetcar deposited me in a part of town I had rarely visited. What now stands as a ministry, decorated in broken neon, was once a cinema. Many of these vestiges of light have survived, albeit repurposed, such as the Major Cinema. One of the reasons for the building's location at St. Clair and Old Weston Road was its close proximity to the streetcar line. Ironically, over one hundred years later this rationale remains relevant.

 

The final image is very different from what one would typically  find in Toronto, resulting in an photograph very different from my usual work.

As this was my first attempt at shooting in Raw format, I didn't bracket my exposure, yielding a fairly narrow tonal range, although I was still able to accentuate many details in the shadow and highlights, and the overall passage of time.

August 3, 2018 (original date of image)

 

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/60 sec F/22 ISO80 43mm

Sony 28-70mm F3.5

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, Toronto, k.g. Sambrano
Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, Toronto, k.g. Sambrano1-2lrbwfina.jpg

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion

Toronto, Ontario 2020

Week three of the province's state of emergency. The Americans had grown restless with the stay-at-home orders. Protests had begun. Trump tweeted out a call to “liberate” certain states. In Canada, we tracked our casualties, heeded our mayors and premiers. Torontonians exercised, lined-up for food at stores that allowed in only two or three people at a time. At 7:30 each evening the city paused to celebrate our front line workers. I believe there is beauty everywhere, even in the darkest of days.

This photo is more of a "smash and grab" taken in under 10 seconds. I encourage the use of a tripod not only to steady the camera at low shutter speeds but just as importantly to  assist in composition. It usually takes me upwards of 30 minutes to capture a single image. I'm always looking for foreground, leading line, applying the rule-of thirds, manually focusing, choosing an aperture, etc. etc. In this case, I abandoned my usual workflow, set the camera to auto-focus  and relied on instinct.

As I didn't properly frame the composition at the outset, more work than usual was needed in post-production. This image reminds me of an important rule: I never truly know what any image will yield until I take the time to explore.

Of interest is the fact that most times I pre-visualize the image in black and white, a technique I first learned when studying Ansel Adams in the 80's. I actually process the image in colour. Once the colour version is complete, I then convert it into a black and white image (Karsh supossedly employed a similar technique) That is why most of my images appear in both black and white, and colour. But if one looks closely, one will see that each image is developed slightly differently in regard to light and shadow.

April 12, 2020

 

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/60 sec F/11 ISO50 17mm

Tamron E 17-28  F2/8-F22

Sunnyside Pavilion

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion

Toronto, Ontario 2020

 

April 12, 2020

 

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/320 sec F/17 ISO50 17mm

Tamron E 17-28  F2/8-F22

Sunnyside Pavilion
Sunnyside Pavilion, urbanlandscape
Sunnyside Pavilion

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion

Toronto, Ontario 2020

Sunny Bathing Pavilion appears in my most recent collection of poetry, perhaps that is why I felt the need to run the quarantine to capture this photo. Week-three of self-isolation. Easter Sunday. With mask, gloves, knapsack, and bicycle, as if a modern-day Leiningen, I traveled south to Toronto's lakeshore. The gates were barricaded shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I knew time would stretch over weeks if not months before the building would reopen to the public. Like most of the world, Toronto was besieged. We knew there would be an end to the daily tragedy, but didn't know when. In the meantime, we counted the victims and celebrated our heroes each evening at 7:30 pm.  2,225 Torontonians had been diagnosed at the taking of this photo. 79 confirmed deaths.


I left my tripod at home as I wanted to travel as quickly as possible. This meant less weight, even two or three pounds. As the pavilion gates were locked, I was forced to squeeze my lens in the space between the bars. I took several shots at different exposures, knowing that without a tripod, I probably wouldn't be able to focus stack, bracket my exposures or even focus manually. I moved so quickly, I didn't notice that I was shoot handheld 1/8 of a second. The camera lens lodged between the bar probably saved the photo from the inherent camera shake as these low shutter speeds without image stabilization.

 

April 12, 2020

 

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/8 sec  F/16 ISO 50 28mm

Tamron E 17-28  F2/8-F22

Turrent

 

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost..."

 

J.R.R. Tolkien

May 20, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/14  1/60 secs.  32mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8 (handheld)

Turrent
Tower of Gold

Tower of Gold (Monochrome)

 

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost..."

 

J.R.R. Tolkien

May 20, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/14  1/60 secs.  32mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8 (handheld)

Tower of Gold, The Kingsway

Tower of Gold

 

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost..."

 

J.R.R. Tolkien

May 20, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/14  1/60 secs.  32mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8 (handheld)

China Town, Month 6 Covid19

September 17, 2020

 

SONY a7r MANUAL EXPOSURE 1/8 ISO50 70 mm

Tamron 28-75mm f/13

China Town, Fall Morning Covid19

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, Spring afternoon****

Sometimes it’s the whisper that gets my attention.  While I do enjoy the spectacular and the dramatic, I also enjoy the subtle from time to time.

April 12, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/400 sec  F/10 ISO 50 28mm

Tamron E 17-28  F2/8-F22 (Handheld)

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion
Come Dancing 7:15 am (Palais Royale Ballroom)

Come Dancing 7:15 am (Palais Royale Ballroom)

September 27, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/2.8 1/60 sec.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E17-28mm  F2.8

Secret Garden (3 minutes in High Park b&w 5:55 am)

In the 1978 film version of Superman some “thing”, awakens Clark in the middle of the night. He heads into the barn where he uncovers a glowing green crystal—a key to his birth and his inevitable future.


I woke up at 2:30 am for no good reason. The previous day I had been shooting and had come across the entrance to a garden previously unnoticed in spite of my having passed the same spot no less than a hundred times. The Superman analogy stops here.


No cape, no superpowers, I packed my bag, tripod, running shoes, N95 mask and cycled out to the spot. I  tweeted the experience later that morning.
“yes, it was cold. Got lost. Mask made me sneeze (a lot). Shared view with a raccoon who didn't flinch when I said "shoo!" Fine, it's a big park. Sun came up. Magic lasted about 6 minutes. This was minute 3.”


In a text to a friend later that day, I stated it was one of the few times I knew I had the shot even before I took it. Then spent six hours making it come to life.

 

August 20, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/18  1/30 secs.  24 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

(Secret Garden) 3 minutes in High Park (b &w)

Secret Garden (3 minutes in High Park b&w 5:55 am)

August 20, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/18  1/30 secs.  24 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

(Secret Garden) 3 minutes in High Park
High Park Stairs, Last Throes of Summer

High Park Stairs, Last Throes of Summer (7:17 am)

August 19, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/18  1/30 secs.  24 mm  ISO50

Tamron E17-28mm  F2.8

Ontario Place (looking  west)

Ontario Place (looking  west) 7:09 am

Toronto, Ontario

August 22, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/18  1/30 secs.  24 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

Ontario Place (looking  west)

Ontario Place Cinesphere 7:09 am

Toronto, Ontario

August 22, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/9  1/100 secs.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E17-28mm  F2.8

Ontario Place Cinesphere 7:09 am  Toronto, Ontario

Ontario Place Cinesphere 7:09 am

Toronto, Ontario

August 22, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/9  1/100 secs.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E17-28mm  F2.8

Inuksuk II 6:20 am

Inuksuk II 6:20 am

Toronto, Ontario

August 22, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/22 13 secs.  17 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 17-28mm  F2.8

E-_Nonlegal_Church-2-Rain_New-folder_bat

Morning Light, St. Mary's, Rain 5:55 am

Toronto, Ontario

 

August 1, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/13  1.3 secs.  28 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

Morning Light, St. Mary's before the Rain (Close-up)

Morning Light, St. Mary's before the Rain (Close-up) 5:55 am

Toronto, Ontario

 

August 1, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/13  1.3 secs.  28 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8

Morning Light, St. Mary's before the Rain

Morning Light, St. Mary's before the Rain

 

August 1, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r MANUAL f/13  1.3 secs.  28 mm  ISO50

Tamron E 28-75mm  F2.8