Concrete and Asphalt

Scarborough, Ontario, has been given (often unfairly) a reputation of being rather bleak. There are many areas of hidden beauty within Scarborough, but there is still plenty of concrete and asphalt, and in this image of the Kennedy Subway station passenger drop-off, it felt to me like a decayed echo of a space age vision; a future which did not gracefully become the present.

Subway Kiss and Ride, Scarborough, Ontario Canada

Nikkormat FT2, 24mm f2.8 lens, Ilford XP2+ film

Timewarp Tuesday: One In a Million?

Today’s image “from the vault” is one I had forgotten about, and it is in so many ways from a different era: first, it is from a Toronto Blue Jays game in the early 1980’s, back when they played at the horrible Exhibition stadium. On the positive side, back then you could get a really good ticket (like I had for this game) for a reasonable price. You could also get a really horrible ticket for $1.50 in the outfield seats.

I was shooting Ektachrome for this game, push processed to either E.I. 400 or 800, and the shot below, snapped just as the bat was about to hit the ball, was one in a million. One advantage of my old Yashica SLR (compared to so many digital cameras) was no shutter lag; shutter lag would have made this picture impossible.

Jays at Exhibition Stadium, 1980's

Getting Inside What is Happening

Another one of those “the best camera is the one you have with you” moments. Yesterday, around 6 pm we were rehearsing for Evensong at St. Thomas’ Church in Toronto, and as we are getting closer to the Fall, the sun is lower in the western sky, and was streaming through a window, illuminating the choir. When the basses (including me) weren’t singing for a moment I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a couple of images.


Many photographers have said that the key to a good photograph is getting closer; I had the good fortune to actually be inside what was happening here.  If I had pulled out a large, loud SLR I’m not too sure the conductor would have been too thrilled though.

A Civil Religious Debate

I was around Yonge and Dundas in Toronto last weekend with my old Nikkormat film camera, when I saw the religious debate pictured below. It was certainly a spirited discussion, but it did not come to blows, or result in any acts of terrorism or wars of aggression.

Given how many places in the world where this kind of discourse would be sadly unthinkable, it’s just one more reason why I am happy to live in Toronto

A Civil Religious Debate

What Does He See?

I continue to be amazed at what images can be found riding the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission subway).  There is a raw, gritty intensity to be found inside every subway car that I find irresistible.

What Does He See?

I continue to use the iPhone 3GS and the Hipstamatic app; so far, none of my subjects have been aware of me taking their picture. I feel though that eventually I will get caught out, and I wonder how the situation will play out. If I want to keep doing “street” photography, it is something I will have to deal with.

Timewarp Tuesday: Murphy the Cat

I’ve been having fun (since I got my film scanner) of going back into my old negatives and scanning pictures I took decades ago, and posting the occasional one here, but I realize that this could be a trap if I’m not careful; I need to keep working on new images.

I’ve decided therefore to only blog one older image a week, hence Timewarp Tuesday. I made this image below with my old Yashica TL-Electro, c. 1977 (the year I got this camera). The film was Ilford HP-4, push processed to either E.I. 800 or 1600, probably the latter, based on the amount of grain in the image.

Murphy the Cat

Our pet cat Murphy was the perfect subject for black & white; this rather scraggly domestic longhair was a furry grey scale; the only colour was in his eyes, but everywhere else he had every shade from white to black and back again.

Light As Painter, Subject as Canvas

Same subject matter, same camera, same film; the only difference was an hour or so on a day in Salisbury, England, on a day when the weather was changeable to say the least. I was struck by how the light treated Salisbury Cathedral as a canvas later in the day, painting it with a golden glow.

Scan-100908-0039 The Spire, Salisbury

Change is Where You Find It

I’ve taken a few pictures in the vicinity of the Toronto Eaton Centre over the years; in fact the first image I posted in this blog was captured in the Eaton Centre. That image was taken on Ilford XP-1 film, on my old Yashica TL-Electro. The image below was taken on XP-1’s successor, XP-2+. I used my Nikkormat FT2 for this image (taken in early August, 2010), a camera of roughly the same vintage.

The change I captured this time was the construction going on currently in the Eaton Centre; the scaffolding to me appears to form a canopy over the young couple.

No matter how often I photograph a location, there is always something new. Expect change, and it will find you.

couple in eaton centre

When Only Film Will Do

The picture today is of the “Scarborough Dude,” a fixture in the Canadian Podcasting Scene, and a valued friend. I took this portrait last weekend using my Nikkormat FT2, an old Nikkor 24mm lens and Ilford XP2-Plus film.

Portrait of a Friend

Although XP2-plus is supposed to be fine grain, the grain can become more noticeable when underexposed, or used at a higher exposure index. Also, from what I am reading, film scanners tend to act in the same manner as condenser enlargers, emphasizing the grain. Combining these factors, it is not a surprise that this photo appears rather grainy (more obvious at larger sizes).

Given the subject of this portrait however, I believe this grainy, organic appearance is appropriate, as it matches the Scarborough Dude’s personality; he is always the “real deal”; never any fakery. And while he is “with it” technologically speaking in terms of blogging, podcasting and other forms of social media, (indeed more so than many of his generation), he does not dismiss the past. He explores his past, and understands how it has shaped him and where he is today.

Film is organic. It is often grainy. There is no mistaking its character. The subject of this portrait would be ill-served by anything less.