Frozen

Yes, frozen would be a great way to describe the last few months! Winter’s great but even around relatively warm Toronto the temperature didn’t rise to zero once throughout February. A long run of sub zero temperatures has kept the landscape and people well frozen. Cold to the bones.

Walking in Winter
Young woman walking outside in the winter snow

 

Going outside, even when well wrapped up meant having to be organised ahead of time and working to a tight deadline. I went down to the lakeshore in Etobicoke a few times and it was beautiful but brutal enough that I could feel the exposed skin on my face painfully freezing after just a few minutes. Taking my gloves off to fiddle with my camera meant that my fingers got painfully sore pretty quickly though sometimes I wouldn’t notice it until they were almost numb.

Of course, this is all tempered by the fact that it’s a brilliant time to be outside – great scenery, plenty of winter activities, and really refreshing! This shot above is one of a set taken on one of the aforementioned forays down to the lakeshore, heading into sunset, when the sun was really bringing out the colours and the brilliance of the snow.

At the Foot of the Falls
Snow and icicles at the foot of the American Falls in Winter

 

And of course, there was the news that Niagara Falls was frozen. My first thought – doesn’t that happen every year? I find it’s much more photogenic in winter and usually make at least one winter trip down there to see how it’s going. I must admit though, this year was spectacular, with much of the American Falls frozen over. The massive crowds milling around there were also proof of the attention it was getting.

Ice Patterns
Patterns in ice on a window in winter

 

And then, there are all the patterns and colours in the landscape. Ice can create all sorts of eye catching features – icicles, patterns like those in the image above and a great sheen over the top of white, white snow that crunches delicately when it’s broken. Yes, I can’t resist putting my foot through it. You can see some more great shots taken by people around the city at BlogTO.

Still, the good news is that the temperatures are now starting to rise and we’re about to lose the minus sign. It’s funny how anything around zero starts to feel warm and the coat gets unbuttoned, scarf might come off and it feels like spring is here.

Winter Outdoors

Winter outdoors is certainly something you need to prepare for, especially when you’re living in Canada. A climate of extremes, from 30 degrees in the summer to -15 in the winter (that’s in the more moderate Toronto area and not counting the humidity or wind chill), the weather is always the making of a wide variety of outdoor activities.

Sunrise over Frozen Lake Simcoe
Winter outdoors – Sunrise over frozen Lake Simcoe

The kind of outdoors activities that the cold winter kicks off can be quite intriguing. It’s not all skiing, skating and tobogganing, but they do set the stage. I was up and out early one recent morning and took a drive to Lake Simcoe, about an hour away, to see the sun come up across the frozen, snow-covered lake. I’d passed by there a few days before (near Bradford West Gwillimbury) and had an idea of what to expect but I was nevertheless a bit surprised to see the amount of activity going on from well before dawn.

For a good number of people this is primetime for a bit of ice fishing and the place was bustling. Making their way to the lake in their trucks, many bring their snowmobiles, fishing equipment, supplies for the day and of course, there are the numerous fishing huts already out on the ice. Watching all the people in their snow gear (mainly or all men, and a few kids), heading off into the darkness on their snowmobiles or in a snow bus is quite mesmerizing, in spite of the freezing cold temperatures. The shot I took above, shows a hut near the edge of the lake, lit up by the lights of a 4×4 getting ready to head out, just as some light started to appear on the horizon. The sunrise was exceptional that day, with lots of burly clouds lightly illuminated by the brilliant rising sun.

Welcome Winter!

Welcome Winter! No more “Winter is Coming” – it’s finally here! I love and welcome winter but it’s always a bit of a shock when the temperature suddenly drops (like, overnight) to -10 celsius or colder. It’s the final reminder that you really do need to get out all the layers of clothes, inflatable coats and snow boots, and this is even more important when you have to get out there to take your photographs. Brrr…

Not many people are keen to have their portraits or family shots done outside in the winter, though for those who are hardy enough to brave the temperatures, you can get some great shots. It’s also a great time to see some massively impressive scenery and get some great landscape shots full of atmospheric snow, ice, clouds and of course, brilliant sun. So guess what I’m just getting ready to do? Look out for some samples of my winter work over the coming weeks.

Sparrow in Winter
Welcome Winter! Snow? What snow?

 

In the meantime, if you like Winter scenery and you’re looking for some greetings cards, new wall or furniture décor or cell phone covers to reflect this, you can now order these via this web site. I’m very excited to be able to offer this new feature. You’ll see on the right of this home page that you can connect to my gallery at Fine Art America to order any of this material. Please follow the link and take a look. If you see any images on my web site that you’d like to order but that aren’t posted at the FAA gallery, please send me an email and I can set that up for you (email icon under “Follow me!”). The gallery at FAA will also be gradually expanding to offer more choice.

So, Happy New Year and have a great Winter. Don’t forget to come back and take a look at the new Winter pics soon!

 

Autumn Colours

The full bloom of Autumn colours highlight my favourite time of year! The natural landscape is bursting with a vast array colours, light mists, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and comfortably warm temperatures. Well, it was roasting hot outside today, but you know what I mean! September is drawing to a close as we launch well and truly into autumn.

The many tones of yellows, reds and greens offset against a backdrop of blue skies and fluffy clouds, or even turbulent grey skies, are the epitome of autumn colours to me. I have to get out there with my camera to capture the excellent landscape images it offers, and for basking in the great outdoors.

 

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Autumn Colours of Ontario

 

I took a few shots last week when I was near Cambridge just over a one-hour drive from Toronto, to the west. There I could hike around and appreciate the first significant sign of the autumn colours. Most interesting was the contrasting farmland with beautiful rich golden tones, tinged with reds and sitting alongside deep green fields. There’s just something warm and soothing about it all. It’s also exciting to watch the rapid development in the season even though winter looms ominously in the not-too-distant future.

Autumn in Ontario
Autumn in Ontario

 

These are a sample of what I’ve done so far to record and show off the autumn colours for this year. Not quite in full seasonal bloom yet but getting close. I like these because they look so bright, clear and simple. I’ll be posting more images in the coming weeks so please come back to take a look. Remember too that you can order prints of any of these images, framed or unframed. You can contact me for prices and orders by clicking on the “Contact “tab at the top of this page.

Autumn in Ontario
Two Trees

 

Autumn in Ontario
Blowing in the Wind

 

I also saw some very atmospheric autumn colours shots taken by photographer Rob Stothard in Richmond Park in London earlier this week. Morning mists, roaming deer and tranquil waters. Click here to view them. Beautiful.

Photography Workshops and Community Projects

Photography workshops and community projects can work hand-in-hand to achieve common goals.

We all know how photography is used for recording and communicating information about anything and everything, from the mundane to life-changing events. The weather, selfies, travel, birthdays, weddings, funerals, to mention just a few. It’s also widely used as a marketing tool for fashion and any massive range of products. There are though, other ways and contexts for applying photography as a tool, ways that can reflect other life experiences, environment, health etc.

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For example, I recently taught a series of six photography workshops as part of an inter-generational project that brought together male youth and older men in north-west Toronto. The workshop was organized and hosted by Rexdale Community Health Centre. The idea was to introduce the two groups to a new interest and skills in a shared learning environment.

Although the equipment we had was minimal and had limitations, we were able over the six workshops to cover camera and photography basics, composition in different settings and subjects, and hands-on work. Most of the group had little or no experience of taking photographs and it was great to see how they became engaged in the subject and have those with some experience share their skills as the project evolved.

The workshops ended on a high note with requests for more workshops like this, and we’re not done yet. To wrap things up a small exhibit is in the pipeline to show some of the work the group produced, an opportunity for them to show what they’ve learned and how things look from their own perspective. I’ll post details when they’re firmed up so watch this space for part 2.

Photographing Buildings

Photographing buildings can produce material for marketing, highlighting architectural styles, recording personal, community and cultural history as well as plain old showing off all sorts of patterns, shapes and colours. I love photographing buildings all sorts of buildings and architecture but scouting around old and derelict buildings for interesting images is one of my favourite activities. I recently posted a link on my Facebook page to a set of photographs from an urban exploration of empty buildings in downtown Detroit. Even through the rubble and the decay you could see the splendour, vibrance and richness of days gone by. Buffalo is another city that has a lot of empty buildings that speak to a once thriving industrial era that saw the construction of some massive and grandiose buildings.

Buffalo Central Terminal
The Main Concourse at Buffalo Central Terminal

As you can see from the picture above, one of these is Buffalo Central Terminal, which is currently undergoing some restoration. Opened in 1929 it’s a 17-story Art Deco building designed by the architects Fellheimer & Wagner for the New York Central Railroad. The sheer size of the building is awe-inspiring and a walk through it gives you a sense of how busy it used to be, with its ticket desks, newspaper stands, central clock and high ceiling and doorways.

Hallway in Buffalo Central Terminal
Down the dark corridor
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A View from Outside

Buffalo City Hall is another mammoth building and a fine example of Art Deco architecture with it’s red brick and ornate decor, and this one is also currently in use. In fact, it’s quite a busy place, housing the mayor’s office, council chambers and so much else.

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One of the very ornate elevators in Buffalo City Hall

While some of these remarkable buildings around the city are still in use, and some are being restored, there are many  – factories, mills, houses – that are left empty and are presumably destined for demolition. A sign of how much the city has changed.