Monthly Archives: September 2015

“Glassware” – Casa Loma Library

“Glassware” - Casa Loma, Library

I love the way light plays through glass. In this case, a set of glasses set up for a formal dinner in the Casa Loma library. We did the ‘tourist’ thing a week ago with our cousins from California. It’s been a very long time since I have visited Toronto’s castle. The library is a large room that has been repurposed as a formal dining room and these glasses were set up on one of the many tables.

It seemed like a nice shot, with the light coming in though a distant window. The natural light intensified the gold colour of the damask table-cloth, making the glasses glow with gold flecks. It’s probably not a prize winner but an interesting image for me. I just like the way it looks. If I had to re-compose the image, I would have moved further to the right and centred the front glass a bit better.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm @ 1900mm
1/40 sec @ f/3.2, ISO 250

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“Conservatory Fountain” – Casa Loma, Toronto

“Conservatory Fountain” - Casa Loma

Another long exposure from my visit to Toronto’s Casa Loma. This one is from the Conservatory. A bright spacious room, with a stunning stained glass domed roof. The Conservatory once once held beautiful plants in all seasons. Today it is largely empty but beautiful, nonetheless. The Conservatory is surrounded by large, ornate windows, has Italian marble floors in pink and grey and the walls are lined with pink Ontario marble, quarried in the Bancroft area.

I was fascinated by the fountain, located in an alcove, which was running very slowly and I wanted to see what the image would look like as a long exposure. By Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 has incredible vibration reduction, so I took my chances on a narrow aperture, long exposure, to see what the final image might look like.

The image above is the result of a 1/8 sec handheld exposure. It freezes the water drops as they fall from the fountain bowls, yet still captures the details of the fountain itself.

I have not been to Casa Loma for about 40 years. My last memory was going there on a school trip, but I remember how grand the building was. It was definitely worth the re-visit.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm @ 155mm
1/8 sec @ f/29, ISO 250

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“Sir Henry’s Phone” – Casa Loma, Toronto

“Casa Loma Telephone”

On a recent visit to Toronto’s only castle, Casa Loma, I set out to make my photos with existing light only. It would be an interesting experience, since the castle is filled with so many 20th century items, including more telephones than I could count. It seemed every room and hallway had a phone. I suppose I should not be surprised, since there are 98 rooms in the 64,700 square foot building.

The lighting that day was very nice and I was able to make several photos of rooms and architectural details. This photo really appeals to me. Given the light coming in through the window and the dark to gold tones on the old telephone in Sir Henry Pellat’s Study, I was able to capture the image in a style that resembles a Dutch Golden Age or Baroque style. And, as I look at the image, I can only imagine the conversations that took place on this phone, so many years ago.

As I said earlier, this image was made using existing light only. Something the technology of modern photographic lenses makes possible through advanced image stabilization and fast optics. I was able to shoot this at 1/15th of a second, handheld, which is pretty awesome and opens up so many possibilities.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm @ 95mm
1/15 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 250

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“Post Office Lion”

“Lion Gargoyle” - Post Office, Ottawa

This beautiful statue sits outside the Canada Post Office at Sparks Street and Elgin St.

I was standing outside, waiting for the rest of my group to mail something and thought this might make a nice photo. It was mid-morning and the light was softened by a low cloud deck. All the elements seemed to be aligned. The colour version was quite nice, but I really like him in black and white. All the tones and structure seem so much more pronounced. There is something about stone carvings that appeals to me. I can imagine the artist working on it and carving all the fine details. The other nice feature about this statue that I am more aware of now, is that it is not covered with ‘anti-pigeon’ spikes. I see that in a lot of old buildings lately. It was not something obvious, but when I review the photos I can’t help but notice. The netting and spikes keep the stone clean, but they sure a distraction from the fine workmanship. I guess it’s all about compromise.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/400 sec @  f/10,  ISO 250

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“Into the Forest, Darkly” – Walkers Woods, Uxbridge

“Into the Forest Darkly” - Walkers Woods, Uxbridge

I find myself going back to my photo abstractions frequently. They bring me great pleasure, in that I never know quite how they will turn out. Don’t get me wrong, these are very deliberate photos, and I have a vision in my mind of the outcome. But, the random elements; light, speed, colours, and focus, all add their own unexpected twist to the final composition.

Case in point with the image above, I can see the scene very clearly and it lends itself well to a vertical pan. What I can’t predict, at least not yet, is what the effect of random branches across tree trunks, background reflections, and ambient light might have on the whole photo. I saw the branch across the tree in the forefront, but had no idea how the soft green leaves might play in the whole image.

This image was the result of a quick lunchtime excursion to a local conservation area. I just needed to walk among the trees. Being in nature is the place where I can really experience ‘living in the moment’. For some time, I was not sure what that expression meant. Apparently, this is a rare gift in our fast paced world. In the woods, the outside world melts away, and I am at peace. There is only me and only this place exists to me, at this moment. This place becomes my world and what is beyond is of no consequence. So, I am grateful for the ability to capture those moments that captivate me, while i’m in the moment, and share them. Hopefully, this image will resonate with others.

I called named the image “Into the Woods, Darkly” because  of all the dark spaces I saw below the trees, even thought the sky was bright. The photo technique brings all the dark places into the light, which I found interesting.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/4 sec @ f/16, ISO 250

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“Transformation” – Trailside Sumacs


Another image from last evening’s “Reservoir Walk”.

I could do a whole book on this beautiful place, just minutes from my doorstep, and often overlooked, even by me.

Just north of my home is a reservoir designed to control flooding in case of heavy rains. This reservoir is part of an entire conservation system install in the 50’s when hurricane Hazel caused tremendous damage in the area.

The result is a wonderful pond, bounded by woods and a nice trail system. The area was deliberately planted to encourage a natural look and reduce erosion. And, nature has a mind of its own that supersedes out human endeavours. Now the area is a mix of planted shrubs and nature’s own handiwork. It seems like a ‘nice’ place to walk, but I have had many awesome photographic moments in this humble location.

Yesterday, I went out in the evening because the light was so wonderful. The reservoir trails change appearance by the hour, as the light warms and cools, and the sunlight changes direction. Last night the sun was just beginning to set and did a marvellous job at lighting up the sumac leaves, many of which have begun to change colour to their bright oranges and reds. This particular cluster caught me eye and I was able to capture it nicely, without too many obstructions by doing a long zoom to 300 mm. The combination of the golden sun backlight and fall colours really made this ‘pop’. I hope you enjoy it.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm @300 mm 
1/60 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 500

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“A Shift in the Winds” – Stouffville Reservoir

“A Shift in the Winds” - Stouffville Reservoir

September, the month where some days convince you that summer will last for weeks, yet others are  stern reminders that change is inevitable. This holds true this year. After weeks of above average, sweltering days, the temperature plummets and we layer on hats and sweatshirts, wondering if this summer has passed us by.

The saving grace, for me is the gradual change of colours. The once verdant trees begin to shift to shades of orange and yellow. I do like the change and variety this time of year brings with it. I recall the days of new growth and flawless leaves. As I look around me now, those leaves are showing evidence of the hardships of days in sun and heat bring on. Edges are browned and shrivelled. Black spots of age dot the once pristine surfaces, leading to the inevitable fall.

Such was my walk today. The grove of poplars pictured above was a beautiful range of bright greens and yellows and the wind made them dance with life. Above me, a falcon disturbed the sparrows, who fled his hungry eyes with shrill chirps. The whole forest was alive with activity and bathed in glorious golden light.

I was happy to get out with my camera again to enjoy and capture this unique moment and, hopefully, bring some of that joy to others.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm @ 95mm
1/4 sec @ f/25, ISO 250

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“The Factory” – Sand Sculpture at Canadian National Exhibition

“The Factory” - Sand Sculpture Detail - Canadian National Ex

As I’ve said earlier, I like fine details and being able to reflect on them at a later date. That stand true for this photo of a sand sculpture at the Canadian National Exhibition. The sculpture take several days to create and are incredibly detailed. How the artists manage to keep them standing fascinates me.

The details and emotion in this face are simply beautiful and with the wonderful light, I could not help but want to capture it. if you look carefully, you can see the fine lines left by the sculpting tools as well as just ‘how’ the eyes were crafted. Keep in mind the scale of this sculpture, It’s about 8 feet tall! By the way, it was the 2015 Grand Prize Winner

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm @ 70mm
1/13 sec @ f/4.5, ISO 3200

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“Bronze Fish”

“Bronze Fish” - by artist Jean Horne - Canadian National Exh

I love fine details and textures. It’s especially those little details I notice after having walked by something dozens of times and I find myself wondering, “Why did I not notice that earlier?”

One of the joys of photography is being able to capture those moments and reflect on them later. Above is a bronze statue of fish outside the Food Building at the Canadian National Exhibition. I’ve been going to the “EX” since I was a kid, and spent a fair amount of time inside the food building. In that time, I suppose that I have never exited via the west-facing doors? Not sure, but I certainly never noticed this interesting statue by Jean Horne. It has a very Art Deco look and I like how it’s installed over a small reflecting pool. How many other have walked past this statue and never noticed it? It is incredible, in  our busy world, how we can miss so much. I’m just happy to be able to slow it down for a moment, to enjoy that moment, and to be able to take it with me, as a photo.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-2000mm @ 80mm
1/250 sec @ f/8, ISO 250

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“Storm Front over Lake Huron”

“Storm Front over Lake Huron”

A revisit to what started as a beautiful mid August day at Sauble Beach this past August.

We had heard forecasts of rain all day, but the day started out sunny and windy. Since it was too windy for a good game of volleyball, we all headed to town for a bit to shop. Shortly thereafter, the clouds, which had been hanging far out on the lake started to roll in and thicken. From town, I could see the thin gray clouds start to thicken and take on strong structures and definition. So, I headed back to the cottage to retrieve my camera and head across the road to the beach.

This is what greeted me. A solid wall of black cloud with clearly defined shear zones. The wonder of Lake Huron is that it is so big and scenes like this may be taking place at a fairly long distance. As I stood and watched, a secondary dark cloud formed at the frontal boundary and began to roll like a wave against the other cloud at this ‘transition’ line. It was very dramatic and I was happy to be able to capture it while staying dry. This cloud movement went on for a long time over the water before it gradually moved to shore and started to rain. All the while, many people carried on watching the drama unfold in front of them and still swimming in the surf caused by the storm.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm @ 86mm
1/60 sec @ f/10, ISO 280

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