TOP 10 PHOTOS OF 2018

Moonrise High Park

Moonrise, High Park Station

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 once 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  

park-2.dogesharpen.jpg

October

Toronto, Ontario 2018

"When fall arrived this year, so did the dark skies, more so than any other October in recent memory. The temperature dropped, the air turned, and what normally would be a slow wind down of the summer, became an abrupt stop, and with it—some of Toronto's most picturesque images of its architecture."
 

October 24, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F6.4 1/250 Handheld 20 megapixel camera

 

Power Street Church

Queen Street E. and Power Street I
Toronto, Ontario 2018

 

Note to self: I’m no longer in Kansas, as each day I travel farther and farther from my home.

This is my first fine art photo taken with my new 36 megapixel camera, Sony’s A7R, a full-frame mirror-less camera. When compared to my previous camera (Gallery One) you’ll note the increased sharpness, as well as the increased tonal range, in part due to the camera’s ability to retain more information. The result is a transition from my usual high contrast dramatic work to an attempt to capture more subtly and details.

This photo took a great deal of thought due to the richness of the image and the various competing elements, all extremely strong. Presently, I’m more comfortable with subjects at a distance. This is one of my rare shots with foreground, adding an entirely new challenge to the process. Eventually, I chose the angle that showcased the foreground rather than the architecture, an unusual choice for me.

If my photo includes a sky, that is where I usually begin my post-production, and everything else will key-off of that. The technique used in this photo, was that of darkening and lowering the contrast of the image, so when I dodge the photo,  a natural glow is created. Increasing the contrast again is my final step.
 

June 22, 2018

​SONY a7r AUTOMATIC  1/80 F/13 ISO 100  28MM
Sony FE  28-70mm F3.5 to 5.6 OSS handheld

Royal Bank Plaza Toronto

Royal Bank Plaza, South Tower

Toronto, Ontario 2018

The south and north towers of the Royal Bank Plaza stand like sentinels among Toronto’s financial district. On sunny days the city below is showered with golden reflections from the buildings' gold-plated windows. The tallest tower is no less than 180 metres (590 feet) tall.

After a long day of shooting, this was my final photo, unplanned, and taken on my way home. Ironically, this sepia-toned image remains one of my most iconic photos of the day, and most likely the summer.

September 15, 2018

SONY ALPHA a7r AUTOMATIC  1/160 F2.4  ISO1600 

ZEISS Batis 18mm F2.8

 

Princes' Gates CNE Toronto

The Princes' Gate and Man

Toronto, Ontario 2018

Like a comma in a sentence, one simple element can change the the meaning of a thought. I did not want the man included in the photo, but as the weather was becoming bitterly cold, I snapped what shots I could, confident I would simply remove anyone I wished in post production. Ironically, most believe I had inserted the man digitally, but the opposite is true. The man is removed in the first version of this image, hence, the difference between urbanlandscape and surrealism, both of which I enjoy.
 

October 19, 2018

SONY DSC-W800 ISO 100 F32 1/500 Handheld 20 megapixel camera

 

k g sambrano wall

SYCO wall

Toronto Ontario, 2018

If you follow the bicycle path along the GO tracks in the west end of the city, it will take you through the area known as The Junction. On the other side of the tracks, the landscape remains 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 

 

Evergreen Brick Works

Parkhill Martin Brick machine, Toronto Brick Company

Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto, Ontario 2018

Charles Chaplin’s social commentary film, Modern Times, is now a footnote in history as the new industrial revolution is quite simply the digital era.

 

It was quiet, actually quite tranquil while I positioned my camera, and adjusted for the crimson rust that covered this brick machine. Behind me, two women spoke of running a marathon. Adults and children wandered about fascinated by this Goliath of history, preserved at the Evergreen Brick Works.

The symbiotic relationship between humans and machines date back to the wheel's first laborious invention—testimony that humans lunge forward no matter the time period, no matter the circumstance. If we do not find a technology, then we have the capacity to forge one.

 

August 2018

SONY a7r MANUAL EXPOSURE 1/8 ISO100 34mm

SEL Sony 28-70mm F/4 OSS handheld (balanced on guardrail)

Humber Bay Bridge Toronto

Golden Hour, Humber Bay Arch Bridge 

Toronto, Ontario 2018

This is the black and white version of a previously captured image of the blue hour, as it turned to sunrise.

 

September 15, 2018

 

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/40 F9 ISO 80 

ZEISS Batis 18mm F2.8

 

Humber Bay Arch Bridge

Humber Bay Arch Bridge/Palace Pier

Toronto, Ontario 2018

This is the third and final colour photo of the Humber Bay Arch Bridge series, taken shortly after the morning sun displaced the blue hour. I had crossed this bridge so many times, each time noting Palace Pier in the distance, but I must admit it was extremely satisfying being able to capture both these familiar structures in a unique juxtaposition.

 

September 15, 2018

SONY ALPHA a7r 1/30 F9 ISO 125 

ZEISS Batis 18mm F2.8

 

Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto

The Royal Conservatory of Music II
Toronto, Ontario 2018

“Don’t wait for it to happen. Don’t even want it to happen. Just watch what does happen.”
                                                                             The Untouchables

 

While a film student in the 80’s, an artist friend gave me a book, The Zen of Seeing. Since then Zen has become popularized to the point where its original meaning seems to have become lost in popular culture. Recalling my brief stay at the Zen Buddhist Temple, I know that sometimes I look, and at other times I see— the two are not synonymous. Often I'm able to uncover the “figurine within the rock” by simply tinkering, mindlessly, not waiting for it to happen, but rather watching what does happen. This detail of the doorway is such an example.

My goal in almost every photo is to convey what Ansel Adams called an "impression of light". This has been my philosophy since  my earlier landscape work using film, particularly the front cover of my second book of poetry, Abbotsford Station, for which I supplied the artwork. The digital age has allowed for a fuller expression of this philosophy. My tools now include a 2003 version of Photoshop, and recently, a 2011 version of Lightroom—no presets or plug-ins, although I do look forward to upgrading my computer system and software to take full advantage of the digital age. That said, please visit GALLERY ONE where I used a $119.00 camera and 15 year old software. I work with what ever I have available to me.
 

October 7, 2018

SONY ALPHA a7r    F4 ISO 160  16MM

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

Canada Life Building Toronto

University Ave., Canada Life Building
Toronto, Ontario 2018

One reason I enjoy this photo is because it returns me to my film days studying Alfred Hitchcock and Brian DePalma, both directors popular for their use of the canted or “Dutch” angle. 

I was on my way to Osgoode Hall, as the building that houses Ontario’s law society is also a marvel of architecture. That Saturday morning I emerged from the subway noting the sky (as usual) followed by the angel and the building in the background. I rushed the shot not knowing it was to be the only usable photo for the day. Some 20 minutes later, I stood before the façade of Osgoode Hall with a dead camera battery. No spare. No charger. My second attempted photo shoot that day ended much the same when after having recharged my battery, I ventured out only to realize I had forgotten to replace the SD card after transferring this photo to my computer. Digital growing pains.


I am always fond of subjects with lines, and especially concrete which I find to be so malleable in post-production. This photo was extremely tedious as I attempted to balance the elements of the frame with the various highlights and shadows.

July 14, 2018

SONY a7r AUTOMATIC  1/100 ISO100 62 mm

Sony FE  ZA 24-70mm F/14 OSS handheld

 

Art Gallery of Ontario

In 1983 Bob Scott of Ryerson University warned my class of the digital age, but I had no idea what was in store. Saying good-bye to film is still difficult for me. Film was a superior instructor—teaching me the patience needed to find and capture the shot, while the years of darkroom work with chemicals and paper helped me to foster a tonal sense, light and dark.

Up by 5:00 am on this Saturday morning, I waited impatiently for the subway to transport me downtown. It was a morning with the perfect pitch of blue sky and white strands of cloud. In post-production I usually try to identify a specific light source or at very least, a direction from which the light might emanate. In reality, the light was omni-directional, but deliberately exaggerated here to produce the effect of light striking the building. The Toronto born architect, Frank Gehry, is also famous for designing the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This single image reminded me of the "attitude of gratitude" that I foster in regard to writing a word, creating an image, taking a breath, seeing light.

July 21, 2018

SONY a7r AUTOMATIC  1/80 ISO100 41 mm

SEL Sony FE  28-70mm F/9 OSS handheld

 

"While You Were Sleeping I"

Art Gallery of Ontario

Toronto, Ontario 2018

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