Monthly Archives: August 2017

Thursday Doors | August 17, 2017

“582 Sherbourne Street” James Copper House, Toronto

This week’s submission to Norm 2.0‘s Thursday Doors. 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world.

“582 Sherbourne Street” James Cooper House, Toronto

Today, a return to another of the grand old houses of Toronto’s Sherbourne Street. This one has fascinated me for some time now. Whenever I drive by, I’m drawn to the interesting statues installed on the property. So, when I had the opportunity to walk the area a few weeks ago, this was definitely on my list of places to check out.

I had no idea of the history of this majestic “Second Empire” style building. The building was built in 1881 for James Cooper, a wealthy merchant and show retailer. This area was one of the wealthiest places in Toronto at the time the house was built and it’s in the best condition. After Cooper departed, the building became home to the Keeley Institute for Nervous Diseases, an organization assisting those with alcohol and substance abuse problems. In 1910, it became home to the Toronto Knights of Columbus, who used the facility as a meeting and fundraising venue for almost a century. In 2008 the property was purchased by the Tridel Group, with the intention of building a condominium tower on the site, which is designated by the City of Toronto as a heritage building, so it had to be preserved. Or, in this case, moved.

It turns out, it’s also one of the heaviest moves of a building in Canadian history. In 2008, the 800 ton building was moved twenty feet east and five feet south from its original location, to make room for a condominium tower being built on the same property. The move cost the developer a reported $1M but preserved an architectural treasure from Toronto’s past. The developer has taken great care to maintain the house, which serves as an amenities centre for the adjacent condominium tower.

Oh, yes, and back to the statues, the property has several, all in a wildlife motif, with wolves, stags, and foxes attached to metal bases, with a reflected statue beneath it. The wolf and the fox sit horizontal, but the stag is a vertical installation, quite eye catching. I’ve included the Google Streetview link, though it does not do it justice, as well as an image of the house being moved.

The things you learn when you look for nice doors.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/120 sec; f/1.8; ISO 32



“We’re always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy. “
– E. L. Doctorow

Similar to my photo from a few days ago “Transitions and Sunsets“, this is another transition photo, made on the same shoreline, at a different time. The elements remain the same, but the light and weather conditions are different.

In this image, made mid afternoon, the water is beginning to recede, having been pushed ashore by high winds and waves. The small ripples in the water are the only indication of this wind, all else would seem calm, the timeless ebb and flow of waves on the shore. The effect the water has on the tone of the sand, making it slightly darker, is what first caught my eye, as well as the sorting of sand grains between light and dark, which is so common on beaches around here, creating the streaks of tan and gray.

It’s yet another image that I simply enjoy looking at and drawing meaning from.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/270 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20


“Waiting It Out”

“Waiting it Out”

“For a while” is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s waiting.” 
― Haruki Murakami 

When composing this image, my eyes were first drawn to the warm and cool layers of light on the water as well as the texture of the water itself, the first caused by patchy clouds and the second, by high winds blowing off Lake Huron.

The seagull, seems quite at peace i the image, yet was being buffeted by the same winds which caused the water’s surface to ripple. The same ripples which give it the appearance of textured glass, rather than water.

It’s a strange image when I look back to the circumstances. The scene looks quite peaceful, but that was not the case at all. I think what creates this sense of calm was the unusual light that day. Despite the stormy, windy conditions, the sky was filled with quick moving clouds and a great deal of sunshine. This mixed light created some interesting effects, like the golden reflection of the gull’s belly in the water and the mix of blue to golden tones in the water.

Were it not for the tight ripples in the water as well as waving been there to make the image, I would think this to be a bright and calm morning photo of a seagull standing in water. Nothing special, until you look closer and start questioning it.

The seagull, as well as many others of its kind, stood in the shallow waters along the shores, bearing the winds and waves, looking for a morsel of food to blow in, biding their time, and waiting out the storm, which would soon pass.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 250mm
1/200sec, f/7.1 ISO 100

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“Transitions and Sunsets”

“Transitions and Sunsets”

“There was no sudden, striking, and emotional transition. Like the warming of a room or the coming of daylight. When you first notice them they have already been going on for some time.” 
― C.S. Lewis 

While enjoying one of several sunsets last weekend, I could not help but be fascinated by the light playing on the sand at my feet. The sun reflecting from the sand glowed a coppery orange yet the receding waters picked up the blues from the sky.

It’s one of those ‘elemental’ moments of transition. The transition from land to water is accentuated by the warm and cool colours, just as the day is transitioning to evening, in a similar fashion. There is also the matter of varying texture, from the rough yet ordered pattern of the sand versus the soft, flowing ripples of the water.

So much going on, yet simple and soothing. Yet another moment of the day to consider in its complexity and simplicity. I like the image, as it seems to continually resonate with me in different ways. It is is simply, ‘there’.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 300mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6 ISO 800

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
or my website (images available for purchase)

“Vervain Among the Dunes”

“Vervain among the Dunes”

“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” 
― Rachel Carson 

I get great enjoyment photographing plants and animals in areas away from home and the sand dunes of Sauble Beach are no exception. I came across many plants which survive well in the dry sand dunes which bound the back of the beach. Many still need to be looked up and this one surprised me. A simple Blue Vervain in an unexpected environment.

Close to home, Swamp Vervain is fairly common but not Blue Vervain. The plants are similar, but differ in the shape of the flower spike. I was also expecting Blue Vervain to be more of a meadow or wetland flower, based on my experience, so to find it in the dunes was interesting. It did seem quite healthy in the dry environment, but I expect even the dunes hold surprising amount of water this year with high lake levels. The conditions may have been just right and nature continues to amaze.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/60 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
or my website (images are available for purchase)

“No Volleyball Today” – Sauble Beach

“No Volleyball Today” - Sauble Beach

“All human plans [are] subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.” 
― Arthur C. Clarke 

I made this image almost immediately upon my arrival at Ontario’s Sauble Beach. The forecast was for a mostly rainy weekend and our group had resigned itself that it might not be ideal for playing our favourite beach sport, volleyball.

As we drove towards the lake we were shocked by the immense waves, the like of which we had never experienced here, even during storms. After unpacking, several of us headed towards the dunes to check out the beach, which no longer existed. This is what we saw.

The combination of extremely high water levels in the Great Lakes this year coupled with steady winds directly from the west caused the water to literally stack up on the beach. You can sort of see the ‘stacking’ nearer the horizon, as the water from the deep lake hits the shallower waters of the wide beach about two hundred meters from shore. The wide, shallow sand bar acts as a buffer but the water still has to go somewhere and inevitably rolls over the sand bar and washes out the beach.

On a typical day, the beach front is about where the second row of waves is in the photo and the volleyball courts are about two meters above the lake level. On this day, expecting to miss out on volleyball due to rain, we found the courts under several centimeters of water.

The image does not effectively convey the force of the wind or the water, as the height of the waves is limited by the shallow waters, it became a high wild chop. Needless to say, it was a ‘wild’ day. So, between gale force winds and high water, there was no volleyball to be had.

By the next day, the winds had died off, the waters had receded, and as the sun warmed the ground, the beach was drying out, leaving us with pristine, flat surfaces for the rest of the weekend. A total change for this scene which greeted us on arrival.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“I drag myself over to the honeysuckle bush and pluck a flower. I gently pull the stamen through the blossom and set the drop of nectar on my tongue. The sweetness spreads through my mouth, down my throat, warming my veins with memories of summer.”
– Suzanne Collins

I don’t believe there are many fragrances that compare with honeysuckle on a warm summer evening. As I walked the narrow roadways and access points at Sauble Beach this past weekend, the fragrance hung on the air, sweet and full of memories, as the quote so aptly describes.

There are entire fences, heavy with honeysuckle vines. I could stand there for hours drinking in the fragrance and marvelling at the complex flowers, as hummingbirds and bees feast close by. Of course, I could not resist the temptation to photograph them for future enjoyment, just without the fragrance, which will remain a memory to be savoured.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/50 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
or my website (some images available for purchase)