Saturday, November 30, 2013

Street Shooting in November Part Two

It's been a while since I wandered around the downtown core with a camera in hand. Usually when that happens it's during the week, in this case it was late Saturday afternoon before the annual Toronto Photowalks party. Downtown was packed with Toronto Maple Leafs fans, more so than usual before a game which surprised me a bit.

One thing I must do more often is wander more downtown, due to the pace of change, familiar landmarks are disappearing too quickly for my liking. In fact I recently noticed one of my favourite art deco office buildings owned by Oxford Properies got torn down recently on Adelaide just north of First Canadian Place. The entrance was an architectural gem, I hope it will be preserved as part of the new building.

Don't make entrances like this any more

The immediately above was shot on an Olympus OM-1md, Zuiko 28 f3.5 lens Kodak Tri-X 400 processed in HC110 B.

Everything below was shot with the same film developer combination but with my Leica M4-2 and Canon 50 f1.4 LTM lens.

Waiting at Queen and Yonge

Scan-131124-0022

Scan-131124-0021

Urban Oasis

Portal to the Underground

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Street Shooting in November Part One

My least favourite time of year for photography has to be November for much the same reason other people whine, it's grey, damp, cold and I did mention it was grey out there. Well, that's a poor excuse and I still head out and make the conditions work for me.

I don't get up to the Danforth too often, when I'm in the east end I'm usually visiting my brother Alex and his family in the Beaches. In this case I was up here on a dinner date, I wanted to kill some time beforehand and walk around the neighbourhood and travelled light with my Leica.

The odd thing while I love the Beaches even before my brother moved there 12 years ago, the Danforth and neighbouring Riverdale didn't provoke the same love. Does anyone else feel that way about a particular neighbourhood? My theory is this, while the Beaches are east end it does not feel cut off from the rest of the city due to its location by Lake Ontario, further north Riverdale and the Danforth are separated from mid town Toronto by the Don Valley.

Camera: Leica M4-2, Canon 50 f1.4 LTM lens,
Film: Ilford HP5 400 processed in HC110 dilution B.

Scan-131124-0008

Riverdale Side Street.

Scan-131124-0011

Scan-131124-0017

Fruitland Market


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Beaches when It was Just a Wee Bit Warmer

Friends and colleagues at times wonder if I specialize in a particular photographic subject. My answer is if I wind up getting into a rut, I then shake it up with a new location. I haven't really shot much in Toronto over the past year and if I have it's usually in my brother's neighbourhood the Beaches, I never get tired wandering around here and evidence of that is all over this photoblog in previous posts.

To challenge myself, sometimes I will only pack one camera and one "prime" lens usually a 50mm. That forces me to look at potential images and work within my constraints. In this case I pulled out my Leica M4-2, at first glance it looks like a glorified point and shoot rangefinder camera, however lenses, especially new ones can easily go into the thousands of dollars new, especially the digital bodies.

Over the next few weeks I plan to pack one of my Leica's with me when I travel into Toronto for class and shoot streetscapes in what amounts to challenging light with the grey late November-early December skies.


Camera: Leica M4-2 with a Canon 50 f1.4 lens,
Film: Ilford HP5 400 processed in HC110 Dilution B.

Queen St. East

Scan-131124-0004

What's Taking My Master So Long?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On the Drive Home On Highway 35


All good long weekend road trips come to an end at some point and my drive home was a rainy one. I took Highway 35 South through Dorset Ontario, a former lumber town turned cottage community. I didn't want the weekend to end, there is something about the landscape that has me wanting to come back. Dorset is the one town I want to hide out in for a few days next fall to extend a long weekend for just a little bit longer.

Got a question for the studio audience out there, have you come across a place that draws you back for a follow up visit?


Muskoka Bog

Single Lane Bridge

Looking Out onto the Lake of Bays

Scan-131024-0004

Scan-131024-0006

Scan-131024-0005

This is Paradise.

Scan-131024-0010

Rafters and O'Buoy Take Out

Scan-131026-0006

Cameras: Nikon FM2, F3HP with various Nikkor lenses.
Film: Ilford HP5 400, Kodak Portra 400 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oxtongue Falls

I usually love shooting waterfalls, Oxtongue Falls just outside of Algonquin Park proved to be a challenge. Finding a decent locations to take a decent photo was tricky as was dealing with a number of tourists.

At the top of the falls proved challenging, I prefer not to have a bunch of people walking behind me while I have a camera set up on a tripod centimetres away from the rock ledge with a metre drop into very fast moving water at the top of the falls.

Confession here, I have a fear of heights, don't ask me how I painted houses as a summer job during university so long ago. Being up a ladder cutting in on a second story window is one thing,  being nudged by a clumsy tourist who wants a slightly closer look and taking a spill into the Oxtongue River and going over the falls is something else.

After getting my shot I retreated away from the top of the falls to safer ground. Next year if the group comes back here I'm shooting from the bottom of the falls. Call it for what it is, I want the shot but I don't want it that bad at the risk of certain death if I'm really clumsy or lose balance.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you needed space to complete a task either at work or in your own pursuits?


Camera: Nikon F3HP, various Nikkor Lenses with a 8x Neutral density filter
Film: Kodak Portra 400

Scan-131013-0002

Be the Water

Upper Rapids at Ragged Falls Provincial Park

Scan-131013-0005

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Black and White Workflow and Some More Algonquin Shots

I made an effort this year to shoot more colour photography which you have seen on recent posts over the past couple of months, my first love is black and white. In terms of workflow, I drop my colour film off at a lab and I have recently switched to Downtown Camara in Toronto as they have a busy c-41 service and their processing chemistry is fresh and that's important.

All the black and white film I process is done at home in the basement and the process is in fact pretty easy. You need a daylight tank and I'm partial to Patterson because their reals are easy to load in complete darkness and in my case I use a dark changing bag.

As far as the developing process goes it's three steps.  developer which pulls the image out of the silver emulsion on the film, the stop bath which lasts for 40 seconds of course stops the developing process and the fix bath pulls out the remaining silver particles and stabilizes the negative and that lasts from five to 10 minutes depending on the film. Once all that is done the negatives are rinsed in the daylight tank for a good 20 minutes to get the fix solution off, hung up in the furnace/laundry/dark room to dry over night.

The negatives are cut, scanned on a flatbed scanner, then sleeved and stored in a binder. If I choose to print I will either use my darkroom to make a traditional wet print or scan high resolution and have a lab do the rest depending on the size.

Top photo taken with my iPhone 4.
All others with my Nikon FM2, various Nikkor lenses with Ilford HP5 400 black and white film.

Film Developing counter


Corner in the Oxtongue River

Scan-131101-0005

Scan-131101-0006

Scan-131101-0008

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Algonquin Park Part Two

I have come to the conclusion that you can become addicted to certain geographic locations, it explains why I want to come back to this part of the world next year.

Algonquin Park and surrounding countryside  is the polar opposite of my other favourite place and photographic muse: New York City,  I don't know if I will get down there in 2014. All the more reason to return here. What I might do is hide out in Dorset on the Lake of Bays for a day or two on the way back to the GTA.

You don't have to go halfway around the world to get away from it all.

Camera: Nikon F3HP, various Nikkor lenses,
Film: Kodak Ektar 100


I'm Not Like Other Leaves

Scan-131013-0005

Scan-131013-0010

Scan-131013-0008

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Algonquin Park Part One.

Algonquin Park is huge, riding shotgun in a friend's SUV in a convoy along Highway 60,  I realized that very quickly when it was about my guess at least a 45 min drive across to Whitney for a late lunch. If you do wind up in that part of the world, check out The Mad Musher, they have a great menu and I'm partial to their sirloin steak sandwich.

The other realization hit quickly too, Highway 60 was really busy with tourists and day trippers up for the fall colours even though the weekend forecast called for rain. There were spots we had to take a pass on because it was too busy.

We came on the Spruce Marsh, not the spectacular spot we had originally planned but there's still lots of beauty here. The trail looped around it so we not only got more than our share of shots of dead spruce stands but also the Canadian Shield sticking out of the ground. Even though we had a guide with Wesley Liikane  who has deep knowledge of the park, we stayed on the trail. Algonquin Park is one of those places you can start off hiking in one direction and never be seen or heard from again.


Scan-131010-0009

Holdouts

Scan-131013-0002

Scan-131013-0004

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Scenes from the Oxtongue River

Just off Highway 60 on the Oxtongue Rapids Park Road into the woods is a lookout onto the Oxtongue River. I understand what the Group of Seven painters saw when they first encountered the Canadian Shield early last century.




Oxtongue Rapids

Scan-131010-0007

Scan-131010-0007

Stones in the Oxtongue

Scan-131010-0003

Cameras: Nikon F3HP and FM2 with various Nikkor lenses.
Film: Ilford HP5 400 for black and white and Kodak Ektar 100 for colour. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

From the How Does He Do That File.

I get tons of compliments on my flowing water shots either on Facebook, various photography discussion forums and Flickr over the years, capturing the right image depends on some decent equipment and some artistic judgement. To get the silky water texture you see here you need either a nice film camera with 100 ISO film (colour) or 50 ISO if you are shooting black and white. Now if you have a DSLR most cameras will have a base ISO of 100. You will also need a decent quality tripod, either a Manfrotto, Giottos or Vanguard and they start around $300 with a  decent head.  The cheapie ghetto specials from Blacks, Costco or Future Shop are not going to cut it, the camera has to be super still. Finally you will need Neutral density filters, they can either be the screw in variety you can install on the front of your lens or the more expensive sheets that fit into a holder.

The whole idea is you want to control the amount to light hitting either the film or sensor plane at the same you decent sharpness across your depth of field while keeping the shutter open for longer than 1/15 of a second. Some photographers want to keep their camera shutters open for longer than a second, I find you lose definition in the water in that case. My sweet spot is between 1/8 to 1/2 a second in terms of exposure you get some texture in the flowing water. The camera itself is affixed to your tripod so there is no shake while you take the picture. Even in this day and age with image stabilization, still pays to use a tripod.

Sherman Falls II