Archives for posts with tag: Ontario

Sooooooo this is awkward.

It has been months since I have posted this blog for several reasons.  One reason is that I now blog at my day job and it has stolen away some of the magic.  But the good news for you is that I’ll now be blogging for my night job too!

Over the past few months I have been writing, arranging, and rehearsing with the very talented Dan Howler in Kitchener, Ontario.  On November 30th we head into the Sound Distillery studios for six weeks of recording sessions.  Me and my partners on this project will be writing on the Dan Howler Blog all about the good times and the bad as we record Dan’s Debut album.  Want to see what I’ve been up to?  Follow me at:

http://www.danhowlermusic.wordpress.com

Dan Howler band

IMG_8409While out walking the Thames Valley Trail this week, there were ample macro subjects to shoot.  Macro photography is fun for one main reason: even if you don’t have super fast glass you can get a nice shallow depth of field and play with tasty Bokeh.  Here are a few shots from my walk:

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IMG_7378IMG_6847IMG_7567Top Tip for broke-ass street togs:

Can’t afford a soft-box?  Find a big backlit sign with a white background, the kind of thing they put on store fronts like the Gap, and you’ve got yourself a nice soft light for night portraits in the city!

We recently decided to try a cool adventure activity that people all over the world can participate in together: geocaching.

If you’re not familiar with geocaching, basically what you do is go to http://www.geocaching.com and find a cache in your area.  Once you’ve found an appropriate cache, you record the GLS coordinates, put them into your GPS or your smart phone, and go find it.  The caches themselves are normally waterproof containers containing a log book, which you must sigh, and a few trinkets that can be traded.  The rules of geocaching dictate that if you take something from the cache you have to leave something of equal or greater value.

One of the coolest features of the hobby is trackables: small coins or other items with a serial number on them that can be picked up by in Toronto and dropped in a cache somewhere else.  When the number is registered on geocaching.com, you can watch your coin travel around the world from cache to cache.

Laura and I had a great time in High Park looking for caches.  Some were too hard for us to find.  We looked for six and only found two.  But we had a great time and we’ll definitely be going back to find more, and to place our own caches.

Check out the video of our adventure:

And of course I had my camera with me so I had to snap a few shots of nature.  What a treat it was to get out of the concrete jungle for a day.  I hope to get out to high park or one of Toronto’s other major parks at least once a week for the rest of the summer.  Heck I’ll go all winter too.  Here’s some pics:IMG_6789 IMG_6793 IMG_6818

On the last Sunday of every month between May and October, the streets of Kensington market are closed to car traffic and fill up with food, music, and people.  This month alone there was a rock band, a reggae band, a latin band, and a jazz quartet.  Check out some pics:IMG_6644IMG_6645IMG_6649IMG_6688IMG_6701

When the freaks and geeks are out in force, it’s good for taking street photographs.  To see more of my street photos, click here.

I recently visited the ROM for my second viewing of GENESIS: Sebastiao Salgado’s ten-year project to capture parts of the planet earth where humans are either in equilibrium with their environments, or absent.  GENESIS is the beauty of the planet earth as god made it.  Philosophically, it’s a bit of a shaky theory since humans, like all animals, kill and destroy other species to improve the status of our own.  There is no such thing as equilibrium when you are a member of an evolving species on a cooling planet.  Despite this rather black and white view of life (nature vs. civilization) Salgado has captured some of the most heart-stopping frames I have ever seen.  He frames portraits of humanity in epic landscapes and shows the truly shocking diversity of life on earth.

IMG_6555IMG_6565IMG_6547Salgado’s work has been compared to another of my favourite photographers, Edward Burtynsky, who travels the world photographing manufactured landscapes.  Burtynsky and Salgado both photograph landscapes but with an interesting ethic: both hold specific environmental convictions and beliefs, but they keep them separate from their photographic work.  The pictures are meant to speak for themselves.  They approach photography as documentarians.  Everyone will take something different away from it.

IMG_6539What I took away from the exhibition was a strong feeling of kinship with the people of every continent as the only species that we know can begin to appreciate the planet we’ve got.  I also feel a deep regret at the time I’ve spent at home not exploring every corner of it.  I want to walk and meet the people in the pictures, learn how they live, share their experiences, and them move along.  Salgado’s images come close to capturing the depth and beauty of an epic landscape, perhaps closer than any photographer I’ve seen.  Close but no cigar.  The ROM took me as near to Patagonia, Antarctica, Africa, and Alaska as I could get without leaving Toronto, but what I really want to do is pack my bags and go.  Genesis is inspirational in the simplest sense.

Click here to see a TIME LightBox piece with many of the exhibition images.

Click here to see Edward Burtynsky’s website.  Take a tour through some of his works.  He captures the scale of man-made landscapes that most of us don’t get to see in our day-to-day lives.

I lived outside of Toronto for most of my life.  It’s only recently that I moved to the city and not long before that I lived in an even smaller city so I have a pretty fresh perspective on the differences between small, medium and big city life.

Many people outside Toronto talks about it with disdain.  They say that people from Toronto are cold and rude.  They say Toronto is stuck up.  They say Torontonians think they are the center of the universe.

And here’s what the people of Toronto say about the rest of Canada… (cue crickets)

That’s right, the people of Toronto don’t seem to talk about or even really think about anywhere else.  The disdain moves only in one direction.  That’s why I’ve determined that Toronto is like the coolest kid in school.

Everybody knows the cool kid’s name because he’s popular but the cool kid probably can’t remember the names of every uncool kid out there.  There are just too many of them.  Similarly, the other kids sit around talking about what’s wrong with the cool kid: how he dresses, how he’s not that smart, how he didn’t invite them to his cool party.  The cool kid has more money, fancier clothes, and a better car than the other kids.  He throws the best parties, eats the best food, lives in the nicest house.  And all the while, the other kids rightfully insist that none of these things make you a good person.

Most importantly, the other kids think the cool kid is mean because he doesn’t talk to them while he doesn’t think of himself as the coolest kid, he just thinks life is great, the food is tasty, and he’s enjoying it.  Just as cool kids don’t identify themselves as such, Toronto doesn’t identify itself as the center of the universe.

I believe in giving credit where it’s due.  There are annoyances that come with living in any large city.  People tend to be pushier and less friendly, the air is foul, and the streetcar rattles my single-pane window all night.  But Toronto, like the cool kid, just has more than smaller cities: more architecture, more restaurants, more theatres, more festivals, more cultures.  It’s a product of population density that city-dwellers take advantage of.  We in Toronto aren’t self-centered, we just know that Toronto’s filled with culture and art and hedonistic pleasures.

So to the people of Canada: Torontonians don’t think their city is the center of the universe, they were just too busy enjoying Toronto to think about your specific region and what it has to offer.

And to the people of Toronto: the streets are not so crowded that you can’t smile or say hello to people who pass by.  Try to be a little nicer.

Parts of downtown Toronto are covered in a shiny facade of marble, steel, and glass.  But you don’t have to go far to see the old city peeking through between the cracks.  Once I started to look for it, I began to see how superficial the gleaming city is.  It’s like a veneer on the old crumbling brick townhouses and factories.   IMG_1644This is the alleyway behind the beautiful old building that’s now Club Monaco on Bloor.IMG_1517This is the alley behind a very nice and probably very expensive house near the University of Toronto.IMG_1604And this is Chinatown where they don’t even try to spruce things up.

To love this city, you have to love the crumbling brick, the iron fire escapes, the dark back alleys, the leaded glass windows and everything else that’s underneath the thin layer shiny that the tourists see when they walk down the main street.

Great architecture is uplifting.  That’s why it’s nice to work in a place that looks like this:IMG_1438

When the weather warms up, the season for some serious street photography opens.  Everyone is out in the city wearing their best and brightest.  The action, the people, and the sunshine makes walking the streets a joy.  I’m looking forward to a long season of shooting in the streets.  This will be my first summer in Toronto and my first summer in Canada in three years.  Here’s a few things that caught my eye today.IMG_1527IMG_1545IMG_1525Enjoy this post?  Check out more street photography here.

Or to see my my latest photos on flickr by clicking here.