FINE ART GALLERY VI

The Gardiner Museum

Last Evening of the Decade

The Gardiner Museum

Toronto, Ontario 2019

 

December 31, 2019

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 4 secs. F22 ISO 50 28mm

FE 28-72mm 3.5-5.6

The Gardiner Museum
Last photo of the decade

Bay Street, Last Afternoon of the Decade

Toronto, Ontario 2019

If life is a collection of memories and moments, then perhaps the allure of photography is the careful recollection and assembly of those experiences. I won't ever regret my hands numbing from the winter breeze off Lake Ontario or the sudden realization of a latent image on an otherwise dismal and dark afternoon, as busy Torontonians passed me, seemingly oblivious to the mystery and the magic of the scene.

A very simple photo, I was attracted to what seemed to be a porthole and the rock surrounding it. It was New Year's Eve, the last day of the decade. The world was becoming a year older and me along with it. I took two photos that afternoon before time leapfrogged into the future. I will always remember that New Year's Eve, the quiet and the tranquility connecting with the things and people I loved.

While processing, and perhaps even at the time that I took the photo, the image reminded me of an extremely rare Ansel Adams photograph from one of his books given to me almost 30 years ago. After I completed the processing, out of curiosity I sought to compare the two images. The resulting similarity was stunning, especially as I hadn't looked at his photo in at least two decades. The mind remembers the relevant things.

December 31, 2019

 

SONY ALPHA a7r  1.6secs. F14 ISO 50 48mm

FE 28-72mm 3.5-5.6

Graffiti, Abandoned Military Installation Golden Gate Recreational Area, California, 1982

Restaurant, Distillery District Dist
restaurant, Distillery District
Original

A Winter's Tan, Distillery District

Toronto, Ontario 2019

As a child, I would wake up early on Saturday mornings during the summer to watch television. I recall the light through the living room's white lace curtains, and the porcelain black stallion on the windowsill. That's when I may have first fallen in love with the poetry of light. There were other instances—scenes from Empire of the Sun, Citizen Kane, the first time I saw a photography by Ansel Adams. I am fortunate that light, one of my greatest joys in life, is a beauty so abundant and yet so sublimely elegant. The poetry of its form is what I appreciate and look forward to each day.  Even more so when I am processing an image,  chipping away at the rock as it were, to find the figurine below.

Saturday December 28, 2019, was my last photo shoot of the decade, the on which everything went wrong. I had woken to a dark overcast morning, in short, perfect shooting conditions for me! But by the time I arrived at the Distillery District, the sun had come out, the sky was blue, and my shoot was all but ruined.

 

My best work usually includes the sky, either at dusk or at dawn. I like to keep my exposures between 15 seconds to 1 minute. This exposure time not only assists in capturing details in the sky, but it also allows for people to pass through the frame usually unrecorded.
 

As this was my first time at the Distillery District, most of the afternoon was spent in simple exploration, looking for leading lines, visual patterns, and foreground. I've found adding foreground, either in the photo or creating that same effect through colour or tonal values, helps to create a sense of depth in the image.

Passing a restaurant, I noted the open gate, which to me, added a narrative to the  photo, as well, I simply enjoy photographing steel.

This was only my second winter shoot in over 30 years, and so I'm still learning that my runners, sweater and light jacket simply does not keep me warm enough to stand for extended periods of time, so there was no time for neutral density filters. I barely had enough time to frame the photo and set up the tripod before my hands began to numb.

What I thought at first to be a rather plain photo actually turned out to be quite pleasant. In many ways, I prefer the higher contrast black and white version. Although I very rarely process “high contrast” but as I had already broken my usually shooting schedule, I'd take advantage of the harsh effect the light had to offer.

The one thing I must remind myself of is not to be  discouraged by first impressions. Both photos took at least three hours work to complete. The raw image by itself, really is nothing special, but again, it is a reminder that I often need time to discover the figurine embedded in the rock.


December 28, 2019

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/50 F10 ISO 100 38mm

FE 28-72mm 3.5-5.6

Technical Notes

I usually develop in colour first, then convert to black and white oscillating between the two as I work.  Last year  I meet a gentleman who used to assist Yousuf Karsh at one time.  He shared with me the fact that Karsh followed a similar workflow, shooting first in colour (using slide film) then making a black and white internegative.

Distillery District

Vodka, Distillery District

Toronto, Ontario 2019

 

The Distillery District photo is a throwback to my earlier digital works. During my first year with a digital camera, I often focused on billboards and the like. My approach with all of my photos is based on a motion picture “trick”. Many directors of photography would show a light source in the scene, either a light or a window as a visual buoy as the origin of the light in any given scene. It simply assists the looker with the suspension of disbelief. I will often utilize this same technique in my processing of of my images. This approach affords me an even greater latitude to experiment with light patterning in order to create a more aesthetically pleasing image. The more I'm able to validate a light source, is the more natural the image becomes. Without such a light cue my work can easily cross into the avant-garde. That is not so much an issue, as my favourite artwork of Dali's is Christ of St. John of the Cross.

 

 

December 28, 2019

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/40 F22 ISO 50 28mm

FE 28-72mm 3.5-5.6

Daniel's Building
Daniel's Building

Daniels Building (Colour)

Toronto, Ontario 2018

Amelia Earhart is trapped in time.

 

I've always been fascinated by the concept of time, from Wells ' Time Traveller, to Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim, who witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden.

 

It was wrong for anyone to believe that the sky could keep back a spirit as free as Amelia Earhart. Amelia fell from the sky, without a sound. The silence of her disappearance continues to haunt the world. The same silence attracts me to her legend and her memory when I should be concentrating on other projects.

 

Amelia worked in this building that was once the Spadina Military Convalescence Hospital during World War I. She was soft-spoken, soothing in her own way the pain of war. Her heart would break in the reality that a plane, a vehicle of the sky, could also be used to maim and kill. Amelia was not the best pilot of her era, in point of fact, by the time of her disappearance, her career and celebrity were faded. It was at the behest of her husband and promoter, that she agreed to make what would be her final flight. Although circumnavigating the globe ha been accomplished by others several times before, Amelia would fly along the equator, making the trek the longest around the world flight attempt to date.

 

On July 2, 1937, at age 39, Amelia climbed back into the sky, and vanished.

 

October 5, 2018

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/30 F10 ISO 100

Sony ZA 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T* OSS

Old Mill,  Toronto, k.g. Sambrano

Yellow, Winter Solstice, The Old Mill 

Toronto, Ontario 2019

"The human race did gather in celebration of a pagan rite to banish the cold in the dark."

The Winter Solstice has been celebrated over the ages throughout the cultures. In Canada, it's a reminder of the holiday season and a promise that the spring light will be returned over the next several months.

What I enjoy the most about capturing Toronto are the artifacts that remain in plain sight. The Old Mill, built in the early 1900's, remains within the city limits. While I worked, I was passed by several people who were attending perhaps a wedding or some other celebratory event, people smiling on their way in, as well as upon exiting the venue. What I like about this image is that it seems to be without geography—a shire, a hamlet, a chalet in some distant place. Regardless, it is a quiet place where people came to celebrate communion on the longest night of the year 2019.

December 21, 2019

 

SONY a7r  30 secs F/22 ISO50 51 MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

The Old Mill, k.g.  Sambrano

Yellow, Winter Solstice, The Old Mill 

Toronto, Ontario 2019

"The human race did gather in celebration of a pagan rite to banish the cold in the dark."

The Winter Solstice has been celebrated over the ages throughout the cultures. In Canada, it's a reminder of the holiday season and a promise that the spring light will be returned over the next several months.

What I enjoy the most about capturing Toronto are the artifacts that remain in plain sight. The Old Mill, built in the early 1900's, remains within the city limits. While I worked, I was passed by several people who were attending perhaps a wedding or some other celebratory event, people smiling on their way in, as well as upon exiting the venue. What I like about this image is that it seems to be without geography—a shire, a hamlet, a chalet in some distant place. Regardless, it is a quiet place where people came to celebrate communion on the longest night of the year 2019.

December 21, 2019

 

SONY a7r  30 secs F/22 ISO50 51 MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church

Technical Notes:

I used a neutral density filter to slow down the exposure. The image surpasses anything I had seen in my mind. I've come to rely on sunsets and sunrises as the optimum time for my work. More and more I'm enjoying the subtlety of the light at that time, as it enables me to capture the full dynamic range of a scene, maintaining details in both the shadows and the highlights of an image. The clouds are foreboding, elongated by the long exposure.

Winter  Solstice I (Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church)

Toronto, Ontario 2019

It was day 855 since the loss of of Heather Heyer. Most of the world had forgotten about this flashpoint in history as impeachment loomed over America. Trump raged over Twitter pointing a vitriolic finger at Greta Thunberg who had been named Time's Person of the Year. A girl. A child. A climate advocate. The week had been arduous watching America in turmoil, as each party wrestled over the soul of a nation, and the ultimate direction of its democracy.

At 3:02 pm, I decided to take a photograph outside of my usual summer months. Appearing at the church, I smiled at the dog chasing a ball thrown by its owner. The odd person who strolled by seemed to ignore me as if there was an understanding that we both stood on holy ground. Above the church entrance, the sky softly churned much like my childhood memory of making Christmas cake with my grandmother, adding sugar to the butter, whipping the batter into peaks and dunes. The winter sky is a beautiful kaleidoscopic. While putting on another layer of clothing and adding a neutral density filter to my lens, I thought of the chaos that permeated the political landscape. Sighed at the apparent indifference of the universe. The photograph sits in sharp contrast to the reality of the political landscape at the time.

 

As I write this, I listen to Leonard Cohen's Joan of Arc.

 

December 13, 2019

 

SONY a7r  30 secs F/11 ISO50 48 MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church

Winter  Solstice II (Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church)

Toronto, Ontario 2019

A few minutes after Winter Solstice I, I also captured this image which remains my seminal colour photograph to date—for me a rare mixture of colour, architecture and nature. I had waited for the sun to begin to set. In the meantime, I set up my tripod and camera adjusting the framing several times, which is to say, the composition was not an easy one as I concentrated on the leading lines that were not readily available in my Winter Solstice I. As the lit was dim, once framed, I focused manually on the church tower and the trees to the right.  An unexpected result of the longer exposures was the cars lights in the distance, which I had not noticed a the time. The image was processed in HDR combining three images of various exposures (under exposed, regular and overexposed). Winter Solstice II, is one of the more technical photos I have taken as I attempted to incorporate leading lines, the rule of thirds, and the complementary colours of blue, magenta, and orange, seeming to make up the trinity of strong colour photography.

December 13, 2019

 

SONY a7r  13 secs F/22 ISO50 28 MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Humber Bay Arch Bridge

Humber Bay Arch Bridge (7:24 am)

Toronto, Ontario 2018

September 15, 2019

 

SONY a7r  1/30 sec F/11 ISO80 18 MM

Zeiss Batis 2.8/18mm

Canada Life Building

Canada Life Building (Colour)

Toronto, Ontario 2018

July 14, 2019

 

 

SONY a7r 

SONY a7r AUTOMATIC  1/100 ISO100 62 mm

Sony FE  ZA 24-70mm F/14 OSS handheld

Canada Life Building, Toronto

Canada Life Building

Toronto, Ontario 2019

Standing before a courthouse in downtown Toronto is not how most people would choose to spend their Saturday morning, yet sunrises yield spectacular sights that often go unacknowledged in the day-to-day.

 

The Canada Life Building photograph was taken from a number of angles and distances as I tried to capture the nuances of the early morning light across the stone. I remember the growing heat on my shoulders as the sun climbed higher, while I found the image in my viewfinder.

 

The image was first processed in Lightroom, then Photoshop. I played with various versions of the photo, some lighter, some darker. I had been departing from my usual dramatic style as I continue to work on subtlety. In fact the original final image contained a dynamic range of tones, but upon importing the image into Silver Efex Pro, it was clear the stronger of the two photos was the one that evoked the more substantive emotional response. In this case, the drama of sunrise.

August 3, 2019

 

SONY a7r 

FE 12-24mm F4 G

SONY a7r  1/100 sec F/10 ISO50 12MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Our Lady of  Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes

Toronto, Ontario 2019

During the fall and winter months, time becomes a premium. There are downloadable  apps that can monitor sunrises and sunsets.

November 16, 2019

 

SONY a7r  1/400 sec F/8 ISO50 28MM (handheld)

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Hullmark Centre

Yonge and Sheppard (Willowdale Plaza)

Toronto, Ontario 2019

November 27, 2019

 

IPhone 6

F/2.2  1/120 sec. ISO50

Our Lady of Lourdes, church, Toronto, k.g Sambrano

Our Lady of Lourdes (Dramatic Rendering)

Toronto, Ontario 2019

November 16, 2019

 

SONY a7r  1/400 sec F/8 ISO50 28MM (handheld)

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Aura Condominium at College Park

Aura Condominium at College Park

Toronto, Ontario 2019

Walking  through the indoor plaza, I glanced up then darted outside. Grey sky, glass, steel, light. Leaning up against post in order to steady my hands, I held my breath to avoid camera shake.

This was a particularly difficult subject  matter as  I played with the composition. The final composition is based on the  Golden Mean principle.

November 22, 2019

 

iPhone 6

F/2.2  1/1000 sec sec. ISO32

Our Lady of Lourdes, Entrance

Toronto, Ontario 2019

November 16, 2019

 

SONY a7r  1/400 sec F/8 ISO50 28MM (handheld)

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Our Lady of Lourdes, Entrance
Our Lady of Lourdes, Entrance

Our Lady of Lourdes (Colour)

Toronto, Ontario 2019

November 16, 2019

 

SONY a7r  1/400 sec F/8 ISO50 28MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Our Lady of Lourdes, Toronto

First Snow, Our Lady of Lourdes

Toronto, Ontario 2019

A few days earlier it had snowed—I recall the calm of the morning as I stared outside the window. Winter had arrived, albeit early and unexpected, yet here we were.

The image represents only a small portion of the larger landscape. I was attracted to the bronze maiden surrounded by snow, seeming to offer what little she had amidst  November's light.  

 

November 16, 2019

 

SONY a7r F/8 ISO50 48MM (handheld)

SEL Sony 28-70mm

 

Toronto Brickworks, k.g. Sambrano

Toronto Brickworks

Toronto, Ontario 2018

 

June 30, 2019

 

SONY a7r  1/500 sec F/8 ISO64 36MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

 

Runnymede Branch Library

Runnymede Branch Library

Toronto, Ontario 2019

 

November 15, 2019

 

iPhone 6

F/2.2  1/30 sec. ISO100

 

2854 Dundas St W. at dusk

2854 Dundas St W. at dusk

Toronto, Ontario 2019

One of the more magical experiences of Toronto is the city at dusk near the outset of the holiday season. Sometimes one happens across the more intimate images, such as nature basking in the glow of winter's sky at dusk. 

 

0° Celsius. No tripod, no gloves. Cold hands.

November 14, 2019

iPhone 6

F/2.2  1/15 sec. ISO400

 

BEFORE PHOTO
k.g Sambrano, Kingsway Cinema
k.g. Sambrano, Kingsway Cinema

Place of dreams, Kingsway Cinema

Toronto, Ontario 2019

My first film was David Lean's Dr. Zhivago,  when I was no older than three of fours years of age. The majority of my life has been spent in cinemas such as this one. Romance, heartbreak, journey—the Kingsway has held them all for me, as well as for hundreds of thousands of people since the cinema first opened in 1939.   

The first photograph (below the original) is highly unusual for me, as more often than not my work is dramatic and/or surreal, asking the viewer to suspend their disbelief to accept an image that otherwise would not exist. 

 

Much like my written work, my visual work is often considered  impressionistic. In this case, I deliberately strove for realism attempting to capture my own experience that evening. It had rained most of the day, only stopping for a short time for me to take a photo of a church across the street and this marquee. It is an old building and I wanted to depict it as such. A  majestic, albeit seasoned, cinema at dusk. If there is an old theatre in your neighbourhood, visit it, as it may hold the miracles, the hopes, and emotions of countless generations.

My attempt to realize this image in an unremarkable manner,  resulted, ironically, in one of my most technically complex photographs to date. Below is  a summary of my workflow.

In Lightroom I applied approximately 15 to 20 radial filters to accentuate the light in key areas. I applied soft gradient filters on the edges of the frame and spent an additional hour or two "dodging and burning" with the adjustment brush, and applied the usual adjustments to colour, tint, and contrast. Finally, I applied one or two "splashes" of rich colour to the image, reproducing perhaps the last remnants of the marquee's original colour from almost 80 years ago.

Below are two additional variations of the image, processed in keeping with my usual work, each perhaps eliciting a slightly different emotional response based on light and dark, and colour. 

June 15, 2019

SONY a7r AUTOMATIC  F/16 ISO64 28MM

SEL Sony 28-70mm

Place of dreams, Kingsway Cinema

Toronto, Ontario 2019

 

 

 

June 15, 2019

 

Variation of a theme No. 2 monochrome

Drama of light

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

 

"Bladerunner"

Tears in the rain monologue

k.g. Sambrano, Kingsway Cinema

Place of dreams, Kingsway Cinema

Toronto, Ontario 2019

June 15, 2019

Variation of a theme No. 3.  Monochrome

Small Town, Summer Carnival

First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario 2019

The magic of living in a large city is that you sometimes stumble across photographs that have not been over-exposed  (pardon the  pun!).  Many my photos are often uncovered during my daily travels at times when the sun may be at a perfect angle, or when clouds suddenly part, or when I choose to simply look up.

It was during the first brisk days of fall that I came across the entrance to this structure, commingled among the many buildings along St. Clair Avenue west. The image represents the  embodiment of what I consider to be the holy trinity of my work—concrete, glass, steel.  I only had my iPhone with me but the sky was so perfect, and the reflections in the glass so pristine, I thought to shoot first and return later if need be. It was one of the fleeting moments which I am so grateful to have experienced.

October 29, 2019

iPhone 6

F/2.2 ISO32 4

 

 

First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, k.g. Sambrano
k.g. Sambrano

Sunrise in The Junction

Toronto, Ontario 2019

The Junction at dawn. 6:25 am

August 5, 2019

 

SONY a7r AUTOMATIC  F/11 ISO64 28 MM

SEL Sony FE  ZA 28-70mm

 

 

Dundas Street West Overpass

Dundas Street West, Overpass

Toronto, Ontario 2019

The Junction at dusk.

 

October 28, 2019

 

iphone Camera

Timothy Eaton Memorial Church

Timothy Eaton Memorial Church

Toronto, Ontario 2019

Take the streetcar along St. Clair Avenue west to see the city's beginning. The route is a time capsule moving from present to yesteryear as one becomes lost in history by simply peering out the window. In the wake of progress are slim shimmering towers of affluence, not as tall as the structures in the heart of the city, yet still they glisten in the sunlight. Farther west, the buildings begin to change—stockier, older, many fighting gentrification and losing the battle until one arrives at the Timothy Eaton Memorial church.

 

The day began overcast and grey, yet as I travelled, the clouds slowly cleared revealing the fierce October sky. The church caught me by surprise as I passed it. Returning about an hour later, I  faced the reality that the building's sheer size made it impossible to capture the structure in its entirety with my iphone, so I was forced to think along more abstract lines. I was at first frustrated by the tower to the right, and planned to Photoshop it out of existence, but upon processing noted the tower created a magnificent foil or counterbalance to the windows and the arches, without which, there would simply be negative space or empty sky.

 

The photo was processed in Lightroom, then Aurora HDR, and completed in Photoshop.

 

October 29, 2019

 

iphone Camera

Wallace Avenue Footbridge, Toronto

Summer for a Day (Wallace Avenue Footbridge)

Toronto, Ontario 2019

Each fall I take a break from my shooting, at least with my professional gear. I had recently inherited a used iphone and had made some very nice photos. Having noted the intense sunlight through my living room window that Saturday morning, I did something I rarely do—I reached for the phone to carry with me on my bike ride. As I cycled past the Wallace Avenue footbridge, I  made an abrupt U-turn. At the base of the structure and while still straddling my bike, I took two or three quick photos. The resulting image may be more reminiscent of a “smash and grab" photo, or perhaps more akin to a snapshot of this serendipitous moment.

 

That evening I spent about an hour developing the photo in my usual style as a black and white image, until providence intervened as I hit the wrong key reverting the photo to colour image! I then  reprocessed the file as a HDR (High Dynamic Range) using Aurora HDR software to bring out the richness in the tones and colour. I combined two images in Photoshop using layers to produce a composite that  juxtaposed the underside of the bridge and that of the sky. 

 

I always attempt to establish a focal point in my images in order to direct the viewer's eyes. In my urban landscapes that point is usually a street light, the sun or the moon. “Summer for a Day” may very well depict the last vestiges of Toronto's summer.

 

Ray Bradbury fans may be reminded of his short story, All Summer in a Day.

 

October 26, 2019

 

iphone Camera

Absolute World (I)

Absolute World (I)

Mississauga, Ontario 2019

October 15, 2019

 

(Donated) iphone camera

Absolute World (I)

Absolute World (II)

Mississauga, Ontario 2019

October 15, 2019

 

iphone Camera

Absolute World (I)

Absolute World (III)

Mississauga, Ontario 2019

October 15, 2019

 

iphone Camera

misstower-4-1-6bkflat.jpg

Absolute World (IV)

Mississauga, Ontario 2019

October 15, 2019

 

iphone Camera

k.g. Sambrano

Fall Evening (Self-portrait)

Toronto, Ontario 2019

For me, as a photographer, a self-portrait is the ultimate jack-in-the-box.  Unlike selfies, you don't know what you have until after its been taken. I had been spending more time shooting at dusk as the days began to grow noticeably shorter. While frustrated that  my long exposure shots were simply uncooperative that evening, it came to mind that the last photo of myself was almost 6 years old. No time like the present! I am unsure how many people appreciate just how difficult it is to sit still for 30 seconds!

 

The image itself went through numerous renditions, from colour to black and white, then back to colour. I decided the final image would be monochrome as that is what I am most known for. I dodged and burned and otherwise processed the image the way I would any other print, and what may be my trademark in regard to post-processing is abundant. Light is the principal in each photo I make. I don't like the model so much as the surrounding architecture, perhaps even the calm of nature on a fall evening, and the play of light on human-made objects- the foundation of so much of my work.

September 22, 2019

 

SONY a7r AUTOMATIC  F/10 30 SECS ISO50 41 MM

SEL Sony FE  ZA 28-70mm

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Wallace Avenue Footbridge, Toronto