Monday, May 14, 2012

What a weekend!

I spent the weekend shooting pictures with Linda Cresswell. I'm all tuckered out!

The original plan was for her to come up here and shoot trilliums and stuff but for one reason or another, we switched it up and I went down to the city. Linda lives just East of Toronto and we decided to shoot 4 or 5 different venues over the weekend. I'm nowhere near finished editing images but I can show you at least one from each site. More to come...

The Evergreen Brickworks
The first place we went was the old "Brickworks" just off the DVP at the Bayview Extension. If you are in the Toronto area or planning to be in the area, this is a MUST SEE even if you're not a photographer ... well I don't know how to describe it in a few words. There are a bunch of enterprises in there, all off-the-wall; the parklands rival most arboretums, there are hiking and bicycle trails, a farmer's market, a huge area where they cater to kids... visit their website: I can't describe it.

Linda took me into the first of many buildings. I would have been content to spend the entire day in that building. She dragged me to the outdoor kid's area. Like that character on "Friends", Oh–My–God! I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted to or could have, but I'll be back!

DIY Bike Space. One of the businesses in the Evergreen Brickworks is called Bike Works. Thomas, one of the owners, told me that the concept is to fix up and sell bikes, or rent them, or help people tune up their own bikes and even teach them how to maintain their machines. All profits go back into the shops at the Brickworks.
The Distillery District
Toronto's film industry has done a lot of movies in the Distillery District. Again an area comprised of old buildings, this has been turned into a tourist venue with restaurants, shops, art galleries, etc. This is higher end: everything here is expensive. Again I didn't take as many pictures as I'd have liked, but we did have a great espresso in a cafe, walked around and saw a bunch of places and Linda and I were even asked to be interviewed on a show being filmed for the Oprah network (we respectfully declined!)

Segway Rentals! You can even rent a Segway to cruise around the Distillery District (they're not street legal, though!). I think you can only go in groups, under supervision. That does look like fun!
Kensington Market
Everyone in the Kensington Market is weird. Linda and I were there, so by definition...

It was a zoo. By the time we got there, I was so tired and footsore, we didn't shoot much. We found a quiet unused patio and practiced our slow shutter speed/panning techniques.

Distracted Driver? I wonder if the law about using handheld devices applies when you're riding a bicycle! At least he was going the same way the traffic was (it was a one-way street) — most of the bikes and skateboards and other weird vehicles didn't care much.

Psychedelic Mural. I'm not sure, but I think the branches are actually painted on that wall, it's a trompe l'oeil. This person was so, shall we say 'stoned', she couldn't walk straight. The picture isn't blurry, she is!!!
Next we had a bite to eat in Chinatown (right there) and headed over to a spot I had scouted out as a good place to view the skyline.

CityScape at Dusk
I had a picture in mind. I wanted a shot of the Toronto skyline when night was just falling and the lights were on in the buildings. The spot we went to faced East. Had there been a good sunset, it might have been better to find one facing the other way, but it didn't matter. This is the bridge on Bathurst Street just south of Front Street (map).

We had to kill some time so found a Tim Horton's: did you know they're serving high end ice cream at some of their locations? You read it here first! Their double-double ice cream tastes like... a "double-double" (if you're not Canadian, you don't know what that is. OK, I'll help you out. Here). Anyway, we were at the bridge by about 7:15pm, just in time!

Toronto Skyline at Dusk. This is a 5-shot HDR, toned in Topaz. Suitable for canvas printing, a 20x30 would be good! Just in case you wondered if you could buy it... (link)

Another skyline shot. This is a longer time exposure, with a train going by on the tracks below. This HDR was processed with Nik HDR Efex Pro and toned further with Topaz Adjust 5. Exposures ranged from 1 sec. to 15 sec. The area where the train light is was blended in from one of the images. I said to Linda, "I feel like a Prairies farmer: praying for train". Finally, one started towards us from the downtown central station and I started the sequence.

Note: I had previously uploaded the wrong version of this image. Deleted and replaced with this one.

That was it for the day. We headed back to Ajax for a good night sleep and some relief for weary feet. Next morning, though we went to a completely different venue.

Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve
This is located in Whitby, Ontario and is a popular spot for birders and bird photographers (link). It's a marvellous place and I got to see and photograph some birds I've never seen in the wild. This is really difficult photography. Anyone who can do this well has my full respect.

Great Horned Owl. This fellow (a male, presumably because the female was with one of her chicks) was about 80' up in a tree and although it's a huge bird, about half a dozen people had to patiently tell me where it was and helped me to see it. I shot with my 400mm lens but you have to crank the ISO way up to get any kind of shutter speed. I don't know how they do it!

Cardinal. There aren't any cardinals up where I live, so I've never seen one in the wild. Another difficult 400mm shot. It took a lot of work to make this image sharp enough. 1/1250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1250 in case you're interested.

Tree Swallow. Another tough shot, especially since it was the middle of the day and his eye was completely in shadow. I created the eye in Photoshop. Getting subjects in focus with the 400mm is not easy, I'm practicing for the moose trip in June (hey, that's exactly a month from today!) 
This was the most fun I've had shooting pictures in a long time. I'm definitely going back to all 5 of those venues. Next time, I may have some more pictures for you to look at, or at least I'll put them on my gallery and give you the link.

If you ever come to Toronto or can make it there to do some not-quite-tourist stuff, I highly recommend all of these venues.

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