Learning about Photography

People learn about many things and in so many different ways. Learning about photography can be just as varied.

Image of cars in a wreckers yard
Cars lined up at a wreckers yard. Reuse and recycle.

I’ve always edged towards more artistic interests, as opposed to sports, sciences etc. Things that engaged me when I was at school and after, tended to be arts subjects – literature, music, history, art, maybe with the odd touch of geography thrown in, and gradually a lot of politics and social issues. After I bought my first camera, many of these things influenced how and what I took pictures of. Sometimes the people around me, but more often, the environment I live in. The old and the new, derelict and rebuilt, bright and dull.

Over time, and with the help of some structured learning through courses and workshops, practice and experience, my photographic skills evolved (I hope..) and my ideas have advanced. I am a stubbornly independent learner, but can still benefit from some group and structured learning.

Photography is a very popular and accessible subject these days, and one most people can indulge in to some extent. The rise of digital cameras, phone cameras etc has allowed for instant images at the drop of a hat. That said, there are courses and workshops for learning about photography to suit all levels of interest and capacity, including how to make best use of your phone camera, introduction to lighting, taking portraits, composition and so on.

A really good place to start, if you’re wanting to learn about making or improving your photographs is The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography. This will introduce you to different types of equipment to help you choose a camera you can work with, basic camera features and it’ll give you some great guidance on a range of subjects and composition. Take a look! You can find it at https://hobbyhelp.com/photography/

Life in the City

Looking up at Old Mill subway station you see a great mix of modern architecture hovering over the ancient Humber River flood plain and supported by excellent examples of indigenous artwork.

I am currently pondering the many joys and advantages of life in the city. It’s not exactly a new subject and certainly bearing in mind the fact that I’ve always lived in cities, but it’s always an interesting one.

With Toronto, I’m constantly impressed by the amount of green space, trees and conservation areas around the city, and how they can help make it a very livable place. I live an in area where many of the houses were built around 1960 and many of the trees pre-date the buildings so we’re living in a sea of giant, lush trees of various types. In the summer many of the houses are hidden by all this growth and it can feel like we’re in cottage country without needing to move!

Being able to take a break and a walk somewhere like Colonel Sam Smith Park helps maintain sanity when dealing with life in the city.

A mere 10-15 minutes drive can take me down to the lakeshore to Colonel Sam Smith Park to all the wonders of nature and the waterfront, as well as a great view of the downtown city skyline. Then of course, there are so many other places to bask in the glories of nature – High Park, Tommy Thompson Park, Scarborough Bluff, Don Valley, Humber River etc. Too many to name, but plenty to enjoy.

In the midst of all of this, there is the urban development that’s taken place over many years and in many shapes and forms. You can see art deco and neoclassical style buildings back to back, or blended in with more modern, angular structures, often to great effect.

Art and people crowd the beach.

As a backdrop to everyday life, along with all the arts, cultural and occupational variety, it’s really hard to get bored with life in the city.

Last Art Show of the Year

Composite image of an industrial landscape

Yes, I have two pictures up for show and sale in my last art show of the year!

The Black Cat Artspace is holding its 5th Annual Salon of Inclusiveness show and it’s at the new, bigger showroom they’ve just opened at 1785 St Clair Avenue West (St Clair and Osler), in Toronto.

The show runs from December 6th until January 7th. The show features about 100 artists and to accommodate them they have not one, but two opening receptions! First night is tomorrow night, Thursday, December 6th from 7.00 p.m. until 10.00 p.m. and the second is the following night, Friday, December 7th  7.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m. They’ll both be great nights so come along if you can. I will definitely be at the first reception tomorrow night. If you can’t make either of these nights, then you can drop in at the gallery and take a look at some other time. You can find the gallery hours here

Abstract Image of Liverpool UK
In My View.
Liverpool: A city that leaves its mark.

On this page I’ve posted the two images I have in the show. Both are urban composites and have evolved from my photography project, “Hamilton and Liverpool: Two Ports, Two Stories”.  You can probably guess that the one at the top of the page  – entitled “Hard Times” – is based on Hamilton and the second one – “In My View” – is based on Liverpool. I’m still working on this project so there’ll be more to come.

This may be my last art show of the year, but I’m already well into planning where I’ll be showing next year. Over the next few months I’ll also be working on a few sets of new images with different themes, and will start to make them available early in 2019.

Back to Nature – A Break from Urban and Industrial Photos

Image of sunrise over Rainbow Lake in Ontario - back to nature

I’m having a little break from urban and industrial photos as I switch gears back to nature and my more natural surroundings.

This has partly been kicked off by the arrival of autumn and the many colours and brilliant sunsets and sunrises it brings. To be honest though, any time of year and any season will do. I like the very different weather spectrums each season brings, the sweeping changes to the world around us, and the impact these changes have on our day-to-day lives.

Image of sunrise over Lake Ontario - Back to nature
Back to nature. The sun rising over Rattray Marsh on the edge of Lake Ontario on a beautiful autumn morning.

I particularly like getting up early in the morning, wandering out in the darkness and heading to an enticing natural environment to watch the sunrise. Back to nature. At this time of year it’s great to watch the rapidly changing colours and the lifting light as the sun prepares to rise above the horizon. The sounds of birds singing, animals scurrying around and the sight of the occasional human “early bird” exploring in peace.

Image of sunrise over Lake Ontario - back to nature
Back to nature. Ducks on parade as the sun rises over Lake Ontario.

It’s a great way to start the day. Out early, invigorating walk, fresh air, see the world from a different perspective, a good bit of exploration and photos. Definitely a good way to earn your breakfast.

Image of sunrise over Rainbow Lake, Ontario - back to nature
Back to nature as the sun prepares to hit the horizon near Waterford, Ontario.

Of course, the real challenge is with the ice cold temperatures of winter, when they arrive, and the very early sunrise of summer. But I don’t need to worry about either of those right now. Enjoy the moment!

Popular Photos

Popular photo of Evergreen Brickworks

I’m always interested to see which images are among my most popular photos at any given time. A number of factors come into play, including the  location (where it was taken and where it’s seen), personal preference as well as the subject matter, composition, colour set, and who knows what else?

This image – Flower of Industry – often attracts attention and engages people time and again, especially when I’m at events. The abstract look gets people curious about what it is and what’s going on. I’m often asked if it’s a composite, if the flower has been superimposed, if the image has been “photoshopped”.

The simple answer to all of those questions is “no”. It’s a photograph of a wonderful metal sculpture of a coneflower, perched on the side of a building at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. I have done some colour adjustments to highlight the tones of the flower sculpture, but otherwise it’s a simple photograph of an impressive piece of art work.

I love to visit Evergreen Brickworks, and it’s a popular Toronto attraction. It’s a wonderful place that has blended art, industry, technology, enterprise and conservation. If you haven’t been yet, maybe it’s time to pay a visit!

And if you think you’d like a framed print of this curious image, you can find it in my sales gallery.