FINE ART GALLERY VII

Runnymede Barber Shop

Notes:

Further west where the bridge arches over the Humber River, where children climb upon imaginary rafts and paddling to their highway's end, meeting Lake Ontario, exclaiming to each of their travelling companions “We've reached the ocean!” From the same bridge, you can see the ice that tonight holds back the river, ice, thick and white like the icing from the thousands of wedding cakes that feed the hopes of newlyweds in the  Old Mill Inn, just down the way. The wedding music from its chapel clear to anyone who has walked by at any time. But now late night, late late night, the cold grasping hands and feet, as bones begin to whisper and shake... must stay warm, must stay warm. Another sound, like that of carpenter's nails across an endless metal blackboard, drowns out any other sounds. The subway train, the glow of metal and incandescent light rattles the blackness of the evening splitting the wedding cake river, drowning out the dream of happiness and discovery. There is no ocean tonight, no weddings. It is Toronto. It is past midnight. Tonight it is cold for such a warm city. Home the only words on chapped lips. Safe. Sound. Gratitude.

Away from Home

Toronto, Ontario 2020


Take a walk along Bloor Street West in the dead of winter, camera switched to automatic between well-worn gloves.  No tripod.  And like bad dialogue from a cheap film, you declare that tonight "you're breaking all the rules!".

 

Pass by the closed restaurants and the all-night Circle-K or the neighbourhood theatre built below street-level from which the over-60 crowd emerges, laughing in the dark cold. They've seen war, lived recessions, they're not bothered by the minus 8-degree temperature. The roads are dry on account of the snow having abandoned the city with the changing climate, so cars now travel silently as red and yellow streaks of light in your peripheral. Traffic hovers upon the mist rising from the sewer grates and “manhole” covers. The few people on the streets dismiss the photographer as just another street ornament. The homeless have found homes. The cold becomes a type of invisibility.

The late-night places—the Pizza Pizza, the Shoppers Drug Mart are still well-lit, same as the barbershop with its candy cane staff that has swizzled above the store's doorway for over 50 years without stopping once but for the time when the Canadian Fighter pilots arrived at City Hall after flying combat missions in the Gulf.  We breathed deeply that day and richly.  “Safe and sound” are the words all parents would gladly give up their lives to hear.  

Where people gather, stories are told and left behind.

 

January 18, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/60 sec. F/4.5 ISO 4000 17mm (handheld)

Tamron E 17-28 F2/8-2/8

York Street, Car, k.g. Sambrano

York Street, Car

Toronto, Ontario 2020


At times, photography is about what one does not reveal in a photo. For example, I did not include the woman, arms full, hurrying back and forth through the hotel doors to the car as she filled up the back seat or the concern in my face each time she reappeared threatening to complete her task and drive away. Ironically, a car, usually the bane of my post-processing (they usually serve only to muddle an otherwise acceptable  composition) in this case became an integral element of the scene.

Much like "High Park, Playground Chairs", I've been taking a more subtle approach in my post-processing of late.

 

Sometimes the strength of an image isn't readily revealed. In this case it wasn't until after I thought the image had been completed that I realized that by also including the lights to the left and right of the car, the composition was strengthened. In an instant the image morphed from a "smash and grab" photo of a car and a hotel, to that of a car and a hotel as the winter sun began to set in a busy metropolis.

This photo was taken without a tripod and without much time for preparation. I adjusted  the camera to auto-focus as I leaned up against a construction pole on the other side of the street and adjusted the shutter speed. This is one of my few images that is not processed as an HDR as, again, the image was captured without a tripod or bracketing, although still very dynamic and sharp.
 

January 13, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/15 sec. F/4 ISO 50 28mm (handheld)

Tamron E 17-28 F2/8-2/8

The Intersection of Falling Stars

The Intersection of Stars

Toronto, Ontario 2020


Even in the "hurry...hurry...ding...ding.." of the city, one can sometimes find a pause, a pure experience. I have taken to carrying my camera and tripod wherever I can— appointments, meetings, any opportunity to shoot with my new Tamron lens before the temperature dropped for good.  The sun was just dimming as it does so early in January. The glow of the sign above me is what caught my attention and looking up, the convergence of city spires.

I believe that we often take for granted that we belong to a race, a species that has stepped foot on the moon. Wait, think about that for just a moment. We harnessed our ingenuity and courage, and we left our planet to travel into space and back. We have devices that allow us to speak to each other on the other side of the street or on the other side of the earth, effortlessly. We create tools that allow us to not only capture our personal experiences but to also share them with others.

January 13, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/4 sec. F22 ISO 50 17mm

Tamron E 17-28 F2/8-2/8

Doorway, University of Toronto St. George
_DSC3335.oringial.jpg

Doorway, University of Toronto St. George

Toronto, Ontario 2020

 

As it began to rain, the walk from the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall seemed like kilometres rather than a simple short jaunt along the asphalt path. The rain had begun to come down even harder when I noted the archway as I hurried by. The texture of the brick was nothing short of exquisite, as were the arches of the doorway. In the background, like an ethereal heart, a door.

 

While working on this image in Photoshop, I removed the sign on the gate, after which, the image suddenly felt empty. If I was focused strictly on the building's architecture, perhaps I would have omitted the sign permanently, but rather, I was attempting to capture a snapshot in the urban landscape. Come spring or summer, the sign will eventually be removed permanently. Toronto is an ever-changing city—construction signs and detours are all part of the living landscape.

Other than sunrise and sundown, overcast days are my favourite time to explore the city. I've supplied the original file taken just before it began to pour. 

 

January 11, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/6 sec. F11 ISO 50 28mm

Tamron E 17-28 F2/8-2/8

University of Toronto, Goldring Centre

University of Toronto, Steps

Toronto, Ontario 2020
 

January 12, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 30 secs. F22 ISO 50 17mm

Tamron E 17-28 F2/8-2/8

January Twilight, High Park
January Twilight, High Park

January Twilight, High Park

Toronto, Ontario 2020

When asked how his movies were so always so beautifully lit,  a famous director quipped, "I use available light...what ever light is available...I use." 
 

The fog was showing no signs of soon lifting. In the background to the right is the lit baseball diamond with its stadium lights, and behind the tree is the street lamp, the quintessential accent of urban landscape.  The "available" light, along with the fog together with the glow from the Blue Hour, helped me to capture the last vestiges of the January evening at sundown.

Things get lost. Especially the good things. Often the simple things. “January Twilight” was captured just minutes after the “High Park, Playground Chairs”.  The greatest gift for a photographer maybe when one is able to capture in digital form what the eyes first saw. "January Twilight" one of those gifts.

 

I often forget that I began as a landscape photographer. It is always pleasant when I am able to return to my roots, figuratively or otherwise.

 

January 11, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 30 secs. F22 ISO 50 17mm

Tamron E 17-28 F2/8-2/8

High Park, Chairs

High Park, Playground Chairs

Toronto, Ontario 2020


A few feet behind me is a playground: swings, seesaws, and giant plastic flowers. It's not the same without the melody of laughter and squeals. During the summer months, these chairs are filled by parents and caregivers, aunts, uncles or daydreamers. This evening in January, the voices of children were replaced by that of a photographer fumbling with tripod and camera before the rain fell even harder.

 

The photo is different from my usual work, and purposefully so. I was testing a new lens as the sun dimmed in the distance. The clouds brought a glow to the chairs, in contrast to the natural foliage behind them. What struck me the most was the solitude—no snow despite it being almost mid-January, no children, nothing but the rain.

I had been working more in the 16:9 ratio, the same as that of motion picture. The photo in its finished form reminds me of Fellini, which reminds me of Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now, a film about a lost child and a bright red hood.

 

January 11, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 30 secs. F22 ISO 50 17mm

Tamron E 17-28 F2/8-2/8

Winter Evening Toronto

Winter Evening Toronto

Toronto, Ontario 2020

In early spring, after enjoying a dinner with a friend, we walked along The Esplanade admiring the architecture and the setting sun. As we crossed the street, I glanced back at a tall, uniquely shaped building that protruded from the rest of the cityscape.  I promised to return with my camera.

 

Fast forward to early morning August 3, 2019. After photographing the Royal Bank Tower I tried to return to the location from earlier that spring, but couldn't find the building! I spent over an hour combing the area, but with the changing light, the building seemed to have disappeared!

It was now winter, almost sundown as I walked the Toronto streets with tripod and torn winter gloves. Slightly frustrated by a number of disappointing images, I continued east until I reached The Esplanade. The building I had seen that previous spring had not crossed my mind, until like Hilton's Shangri-La, the building reappeared, as if the changing light was revealing what I thought had been forever lost.

 

The resulting image of Toronto at winter's dusk was well-worth the nine-month wait, as well as the  cold hands.   
 

January 3, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 6-12 secs. F22  ISO 50  28mm

FE 28-72mm 3.5-5.6

"Sky full of Lighters" Toronto

"Sky full of Lighters", New Year's Day 6:22 pm

Toronto, Ontario 2020

Bloor street is in constant motion—all-night buses, cyclists and pedestrians. It was winter as I took advantage of the early sunsets between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. Under-dressed as usual, I moved quickly. The focal point was originally the lamp post and bouquet of lights above the stone pillars, but stepping back, I realized an image that included the sun set in the distance and the orange glow of the traffic.

This photo was taken about 20 feet from where I would  capture the image of the Royal Ontario Museum just minutes later.

One day I may very well invest in a winter jacket. Until then the cold forces me to move quicker and to compose mostly on instinct, sometimes hitting the mark, and other times, simply enduring another cold evening in Toronto.


January 1, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 30 secs. F22 ISO 50 31mm

FE 28-72mm 3.5-5.6

Art Gallery of Ontario, New Year's Day

Royal Ontario Museum, New Year's Day 6:35 pm

Toronto, Ontario 2020

 

January 1, 2020

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 30 secs. F16 ISO 50 28mm

FE 28-72mm 3.5-5.6

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