As many may already know, my work in film and photography has always been as much a part of the creative process as my writing.

The gallery is a collection of recent monochrome images, as I make the often-challenging transition from film to digital, and from landscape to cityscape or urban landscape photography. I invite you along.

 

It’s a journey through light and dark and those small quiet places in-between. Both the array of light and the images in Toronto can be surprising, and often spectacular. With digital technology, I’m appreciating that I needn’t travel far in order to capture the light, if only for fleeting moments at a time.

 All the images are available for purchase as fine art archival pigment prints of various sizes and editions.

 

FINE ART GALLERY I

Granville Street, Theatre

Vancouver, British Columbia 2017

During the day, Vancouverites enjoy the opulence of the western light, as well as after sunset when the city turns to neon. I landed in Vancouver in October at dusk, the bokeh of the city surrounding me as I rode the SkyTrain downtown. Emerging from the underground I felt like Hiro Nakamura transported to Times Square, the bustle of Granville Street nearly that of Toronto during the day. As we looked for some place to eat, we passed the Vogue Theatre. I only had my Huawei cell phone, an incredibly inexpensive second-hand Kijiji purchase…with a cracked screen. Pressed for time, I hurried one or two half-hearted snapshots. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Vancouver at night is truly the jewel of western Canada. This photo does not even begin to pay its beauty justice. 

November 10, 2017

HUAWEI CELL PHONE CAMERA

 

Granville Theatre Vancouver
city street, sewer cover

Access Cover

Toronto Ontario, 2018

The richness and versatility of steel has never escaped me. From the sheen of simple scissors to the gleam of construction girders, steel's versatility remains nearly unmatched. Bend it, twist it, mold it.

 

Toronto seems to slowdown in January, especially those first few weeks of the new year. The light was obvious and beautiful on this access cover. At –12 Celsius (8 Fahrenheit) it didn’t take me long to focus as the texture of the melted snow, ice and salt were static, already perfectly frozen. The scene was very much a black and white photo even before I captured it as such. This was my first "professional" photo in 28 years as I move away from film, towards digital and the unknown.

 

In subsequent versions of this image, I've changed the light, improved upon it tremendously but it was important for me to remember where I began. Simple works. 

 

January 14, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F/4.6 1/600 Handheld 20 megapixel camera

Winter sky moonrise Toronto

Winter Sky & Moon ii  4:40 pm

Toronto Ontario, 2017

Most days the moon lays in silence. This was February, a cold day, mid-afternoon. My first photographs were always landscapes, and so until recently, cityscapes remained a foreign language, but for the constants—the sky and the moon. In the old days I would have reached for a red Wratten filter to darken the sky, in order to accentuate the moon, knowing that in black and white photography complimentary colours lighten while opposite colours darken. 

 

I was on my way home from the corner store when I looked up. Without a tripod, I steadied my body against an iron construction pole and held my breath to minimize camera shake as the lens was fully extended. My only other memory of this moment is of the  people walking around me, oblivious to the scantily clad man pointing his camera into the sky, wanting to shout, “The moon! The moon! Look up! You’re missing it!” The most beautiful show on earth.

 

February 3, 2017

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F/4.6 1/600 Handheld

 

Hasselblad camera photo k.g. Sambrano

1973 Hasselblad w/ 80mm 2.8 lens

Toronto Ontario, 2018

This image was made by placing the camera on my writing desk and using the lining of my suit jacket as a backdrop, photographing with ambient light. Although I used this medium format film camera extensively over the years, and it's yielded fine results, I'd always intended to upgrade to a larger format film camera for improved sharpness. I've waited for the digital realm to advance to the same acutance of large format cameras. Only recently have I noticed these advances. This photograph, like most of the images in the gallery, was captured by my Sony Cyber-shot, a 20.1 megapixel "point and shoot” camera small enough to fit into a shirt pocket. Total cost $149.00. Although a very good entry-level digital camera, the quality of the photos in my gallery may not be typical of this camera as I spend  between three to six hours in post-production. This photo, for example, took a little over 10 hours to produce due the camera's age and lack of studio conditions.

April  9, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 800 F/4.6 1/8 Tripod

 

Moonrise High Park

Moonrise

Toronto, Ontario 2018

I’ve been both chasing and admiring the moon since first seeing Ansel Adams' Moonrise, Hernandez. Over the last 33 years, the moon has remained the most elusive jewel in my photography portfolio, as I became a kind of  Javert in pursuit of Jean Valjean.

 

I was not looking for the moon this winter afternoon as I walked to the High Park subway, but remember looking up and seeing it, and then realizing that I had my "point and shoot" camera with me. I steadied myself on a fence to reduce camera shake, and at the last moment included the tree in the foreground to give the moon scale. As a landscape photographer, I believed that my most beautiful images could only be found in the natural landscape. This photograph not only proved me wrong, but also encouraged me to find that same beauty in the city where I live, and with surprisingly pleasing results.

March 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F/5.5 Handheld 1/250  

Toronto landscape glass building

"Glass"

Toronto Ontario, 2018

My heroes remain the early giants of the art form—Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Morley Baer. I’ve always followed the masters. Spring moved softly in Toronto this year, musing its way through the downtown streets. Behind me stood the Windsor Arms Hotel, best known for its array of celebrities. I sometimes see Toronto as a city of glass, and if one catches the light at just the right time, and at just the right angle, truly remarkable images can emerge. 

 

April  12, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F/3.5 1/320 sec Handheld

 

urban landscape moonrise clouds

"Looking up at 7:23 p.m."

Toronto Ontario, 2018

The sky is full of surprises even in downtown Toronto. This was taken during the day, but the sky was darkened and the clouds accentuated in order to create a sense of drama. The techniques used to create this image are not unlike what I used when working in the darkroom. Digital may not necessarily expand on creativity, but it does allow me far greater control over the elements of an image and the ability to complete most photos in hours rather than days or weeks.

 

April  24, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F/6.4 1/25 sec  Handheld

 

High Park Station and Evening Sky

Toronto Ontario, 2018

One of my early courses in film studies was “Design”, taught by Jergen Lutz. Jergen made us fashion “concept plates”,  which I believed it was really nothing more than cutting out shapes and photos from magazines and pasting them to card stock. John Solowski taught “Human Figure ”. I cannot draw, but John said, “It not about what you draw, but rather what you see.” This photo was rushed while on my way to the subway (late for a film!) The sky was blue and with silk strands of cloud. I included the bus terminal in the photo so as to give context to the scene. The sun behind me, I could barely see my LCD viewfinder to compose or to even focus. I navigated by instinct born of excellent tutelage, and a great deal of luck.

 

April  26, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F/8.8 1/60 sec  Handheld

 

moon over Toronto High Park
Iphone on old building Toronto

iPhone x and Building (King Street West)

Toronto Ontario, 2018

Toronto, like this photo, is a mix of traditional and contemporary. Streetcars lurch through the downtown streets since their first appearance in 1861, while Toronto has recently garnered the distinction of being the technological hub of Canada. The dichotomy of these two elements has become the subtext to North America’s fourth-largest city. This photo was taken impulsively and at sunset along King Street West near Spadina Avenue. The building is of simple construction, red brick and mortar, yet its billboard is unmistakably modern. Again, I appreciated the contrast of old and new, as well as the image as a whole. One can trace the entire architectural history of Toronto by simply taking the streetcar from one end of the city to the other. 

 

April  27, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F/3.5 1/80 sec  Handheld

 

High Park urban landscape bike racks

High Park and Bike Racks 

Toronto Ontario, 2018

Alfred Hitchcock, master of suspense and cinema, directed a film called Frenzy. In this motion picture, Hitchcock appeared to return to basics in an extremely styled-down version of his earlier works. While in Toronto’s west end, I saw a scene that could be approached in a similar manner. Behind me is High Park, 161 hectares of lush green easily swallowing city blocks whole, yet it was the simple symmetry and allure of the empty bicycle racks that caught my attention. Different from my usual “dramatic” images, sometimes a very simple and straightforward composition may render  pleasing results. I don't believe I could have captured this image nearly as elegantly or as sharply without the use of a tripod. 

 

March 31, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.2 1/800 sec  Tripod

 

Construction site Night urban landscape

Prometheus

Toronto Ontario, 2018

Prometheus will always be my favourite of all the titans. He stole fire from the gods to give to humankind—an act of hubris and compassion. A singularly human deed. He was caught and punished by Zeus who chained him to a mountaintop where each night an eagle tore out his liver only for it to grow back during the day. At night the cycle repeated. Lured out by the first breath of spring, as I stood before this image, I thought of Prometheus. I'm also reminded of my grade 13 creative writing teacher. She’ll never know the gift she gave me. 

 

April 1, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.2 2 secs  Tripod

 

urban landscape Sephora model

Model 

Toronto Ontario, 2018

Toronto is a city of glass and light—most times obvious, sometimes somewhat subtle like the lobby of this downtown building. I was attracted to the translucent surroundings and the glossy walls. The pod lighting illuminated the posters in their glass frames. It was mid-afternoon and strangely quiet for Toronto. I took many photographs of the lobby at different angles and distances. What I look for in an image is possibility.

 

April 3, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.2 1/60 sec  Tripod

 

Black and white photo of construction crane

Crane 

Toronto Ontario, 2018

Light has always been my obsession, as it continues to find its way into both my photography and my writing. I had taken at least a dozen photos of this crane as it continued to build. It reminded me of a beautiful dinosaur, lumbering slowly through the winter days. As a composition, the image falls short, but if there is a beauty, for me it is in the play of the light in the sky as well as on the metal and concrete structures. My human figure teacher, John Solowski, once said, "The secret to good art, is the relationship between part to part, and part to whole.” When I look at the many elements of this image—the play of light on the buildings, the lurking presence of the crane, and the anticipatory sky, I feel that I’m getting closer to understanding him.

 

December 21, 2017

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.2 1/400 sec handheld 

 

k g Sambrano Mansion

Mansion (Featured at Toronto.com)

Toronto Ontario, 2018

I am always attempting to accentuate the look and feel of light. I knew this photo held promise as I’ve learned that concrete, due to its porous nature, can yield beautiful textures especially in post-production. This image took upwards of 12 hours to complete, due to the complexity of the elements and the care it took in the rendering of them. Dare I say, there is not a single element in this frame that was not helped along by either dodging or burning. Below is the original photo. The natural textures of the scene are quite evident even in colour.

 

May 1, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.2 1/200 sec handheld

 

Mansion (before)

Toronto Ontario, 2018

​The architecture in Toronto continues to fascinate. Select photos remind me of why I continue to be attracted to the medium. If we are truly the culmination of our memories, then photography may be the drawer in which they are carefully placed.I sometimes muse that photography is a way to slow down time.

k.g. Sambrano Runnymede Library

Runnymede Library (Stone, concrete, and light)

Toronto Ontario, 2018

I will always be grateful to the Toronto Public Library system. I was brought up in Willowdale, at the time a brand new borough of Toronto, where libraries did not exist—no Jules Verne, H.G. Wells or John Christopher. A purple “bookmobile” would visit the Peanut Plaza parking lot once a week, perhaps on Tuesdays. I would climb the metal stairs with my siblings to meet the cheerful man with the glasses, the smell of adventure and dream. If it weren’t for the Toronto Public Library system, I would still be that chubby little boy, sitting in an empty parking lot waiting for the world to happen.

 

Stone, concrete, and light—created an exceptional tapestry on that spring afternoon. I took full advantage of the rich blue sky behind the building’s façade. As usual, this image took upwards of four hours to complete as I dodged and burned the many elements in the photo. My approach to post-production is time consuming, but rewarding having perhaps captured a part of Toronto’s history, as well as my own.

April 28, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.2 1/680 sec handheld 

 

k g sambrano House of Anansi

House of Anansi Press Parking Lot

Toronto Ontario, 2018

I enjoy striving for that silver or platinum look that I believe only black and white can create. I took more photos than usual of this lone building, as without a tripod and my camera's ability to focus manually, I was forced to adopt a "scattergun" approach. The final photo captures the ribbon of light left behind as a plane passed through the frame. Sky, light, clouds, I simply never grow tired of the natural beauty of our planet.

 

Directly behind me is House of Anansi Press which has published the works of notable Canadian writers such as Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient). The glare of the sun as it set made it nearly impossible to photograph the Anansi building. Instead, looking to my right, what caught my attention was the sky—its perfect gradient contrasted by this building in the foreground. Visually accurate photos of tall buildings were previously confined to most medium and large format cameras with their ability to "tilt and swing", compensating for the natural convergence of lines. This issue of perspective distortion is less of an encumbrance due to software such as Photoshop and Lightroom. Thank you Adobe.

March 19, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.5 1/1000 sec handheld 

 

k g sambrano wall

SYCO wall

Toronto Ontario, 2018

The bicycle path that follows the GO tracks in the west end of the city takes you through the area known as The Junction. On the other side of the tracks, the landscape is in constant flux as Toronto continues to grow, often in the direction of gentrification. From the asphalt path this building stood out as the monolith it was—bold and unapologetic. White lettering on a red brick wall.

 

I pre-visualized the final image even before I stopped to capture it. The majority of the time was spent at its base as I tried to capture the impact of the building on the cityscape. I never stop to read what I’m photographing, so I can only imagine how many unpaid ads have been the subject of my work.

March 19, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/8 1/400 sec handheld 

 

kg sambrano facade

Facade

Toronto Ontario, 2018

I’ve never really traveled outside of Canada in my adult life, as Canada is not only my home, but it feels like home. Newfoundland, Alberta, Vancouver, Quebec—Canada is vast and wondrous and its geography perfectly balanced in so many ways. It’s a country of diversity and new beginnings where one may proudly plant their flag beside the many that already exist.

Although this photo reminds me of a place far away, perhaps the rooftops of New Mexico that Paul Strand captured so boldly during his travels in the 1930’s, in reality it is the façade of an apartment building carefully ornamented in Toronto’s west end. Whether in my writing or in my photography, I sometimes travel without even meaning to.

 

March 31, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/8 1/250 sec handheld 

 

Rabba 24HRS

Toronto Ontario, 2018

I never imagined the city, an urban neighbourhood, could hold such beauty. As a landscape photographer my first love was the natural landscape of Alberta's Banff National Park, yet as I continue to “snatch and grab” images of urban life, the beauty hasn't necessarily stopped at nature. Humans often build equally majestic objects disguised as everyday artifacts in our daily lives.

 

The stalwart geometry of lines made me pause before this store I had visited hundreds of times before, but with my new camera, twilight and the spring evening, everything felt different. I hadn’t pre-visualized this image but sensed there was potential. The original colour photo is elegant in its own right with the red glow of the Rabba sign, but I desired to convey the solace of this west end corner store at dusk in the silence of the moment.

For anyone very serious about photography, I would not recommend my existing camera unless you already have a great deal of digital experience. At present my work really does require a camera with the ability to manually focus, adjust shutter speeds and aperture. I am considering the Sony Alpha R3, and will probably "test drive" by first renting (between writing projects). 

April 19, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 320 f/3.2 1/30 sec tripod 

 

Dusk, Concrete and the Geometry of Space

Toronto Ontario, 2018

Dusk and concrete create a natural form of their own, and with the added element of human-made light, what would normally be the simplest of images evolves.  I enjoy in the city’s reflections—the urban pools of light. This courtyard is an open space, unusually so for Toronto a city becoming increasing pressed for space.

A student of Yang Style Tai-Chi, my Master always spoke of balance, but in the city that balance is particularly unique and comprised of various elements: light, dark, concrete, sky, glass…beautiful glass. My favourite images are those where I believe I’m able to balance those elements in a single frame. The challenge of this photo was the aligning the natural beauty of the various elements—for example the glow of the artificial lighting in stark contrast to the naturally gentle light of dusk. Like the balancing of the light, ironically, this condominium, something so characteristically urban lays less than 50 feet from the second largest natural park in the city.  

 

May 19, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 400 f/4.1 1/15 tripod

 

k g Sambrano photo Courtyard

Courtyard

Toronto Ontario, 2018

This is the upper portion of the courtyard of a new luxury condominium at Yonge and Eglinton.I boarded the subway at about 5:00 pm on this Saturday afternoon hoping to catch the sunset on the subject matter, forgetting that June days are the longest. I had only visited the building in passing, some weeks earlier and could barely recall what about it had piqued my interest, but for the promise to some day return.

I was disappointed that the sun would not be setting for hours knowing that bright sunlight created extreme shadows resulting in additional hours of post-production work. Still, I attempted to capture the sheer breadth and beauty of the scene just before dusk. I’ve learned two things in my short-time shooting urban landscapes—where two or more lines intersect is a perfect place to highlight the convergence, and that the beauty of a photo often lays in its nuances.  


June 1, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/8 1/200 sec tripod 

 

Silk

Toronto Ontario, 2018

I had visited the corner of Yonge and Eglinton, perhaps a thousand times over the last 30 years. I have seen this corner of Toronto, the blend of urban and residential living, continually in flux. It was with a hint of sheepish nostalgia that I boarded the subway train heading uptown on a Saturday evening, probably my first time in a decade.

When shooting urban landscapes, metal, concrete, and light are my favourite subject matters. The courtyard was overly lit as it neared sundown. I searched for shade and came across this shaded alcove. The technical challenge of this photo is the exposing and rendering of the metal chairs that for the residents provide both function and art. Ultimately, I chose to represent these elements in a manner that both revealed their luminance as the sun began to set, in addition to their long rich ropes of metal.  

June 1, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/3.2 1/60 tripod

kg Sambrano photography Go Station

GO Platform

Toronto Ontario, 2018

The Greater Toronto Area hosts a population of over 6 million people. Not far from The Junction in Toronto’s west end, are railway tracks. Different from Toronto’s subway system, these tracks remain above ground, not unlike the original four sets of tracks that converged at this point in Toronto’s early years (hence the name The Junction)

 

It was a welcomed gift that on this sunny Friday afternoon, the GO platform once dark under the recent overcast skies, was suddenly alive with light. I deliberately broke basic photographic rules by allowing the highlights to "burn out", and certain shadow areas to lose detail in an attempt to convey the scene's strong sense of light.

 

June 8, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 f/4.9 1/320 hand-held

 

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