Last year in early July my girlfriend and I took a long weekend in the direction of cottage country. Sitting on the balcony of our resort room, I took a plain-vanilla evening picture of the placid lake in front of us and the far reflection of the opposite shore. And then I did nothing with it – until today, when I re-discovered the picture and subjected it to a great deal of exploratory re-working. The image that resulted is both traditional and also, I think, mysterious and even foreboding – the shoreline muddied by distance and blur and shadow, thin lines of birch trunks peeking out of the gloom like leg bones.
Restful, and yet.
Among other aspects of the urban environment I’m also fascinated by traffic flow, and by the attempts made by cities to smooth, maximize, or minimize it. In this photo, I see the basic problem of complexity meeting rigidity.
It’s August as I post this, so “summer ends” is meant only in the most tongue in cheek way. (Though it’s true.) I shot this over a year and a half ago, and I’ve always enjoyed the starkness of ice meeting cold, dark water – it’s probably the 19th-century romantic in me.
There are a lot of subject categories in photography: portrait, street, landscape, and so on. But there are a lot of photographs – at least a lot of mine – that don’t fall into one category or another. I took the photograph above while waiting for a meeting west of Toronto’s downtown core, after noticing an interesting alley at the back of a nearby parking lot. Is it “street”? There are no people in it. “Architecture”? Well, one can make out a couple of walls, so buildings are involved – but I’m not sure it’s about architecture per se. “Urban”? Maybe – if we treat “urban” as a catch-all for any photograph taken within a city. Not much of a category, that.
So much for categories.
Almost every photographer will admit to getting pleasure from opening up a collection of raw shots they haven’t looked at in months, and discovering new beauty with the benefit of fresh eyes – or, indeed, of eyes that have gained in discernment and acuity as the photographer’s own practice has matured. I love this picture of Maude from last November, found this morning and looking as if I had just shot it yesterday.
This is not, actually, a colonnade. But the simplification makes a better title than the more accurate “half-colonnade”, “demi-colonnade”, or “colonette” – this last being a word I thought I had made up just now, but then, upon Googling it, discovered that it’s a real word that actually describes exactly what this photograph shows. So let that be a lesson for us all.
Oh, and this is a night-time view of, again, my favourite transportation hub, Toronto’s Union Station.
In case you haven’t concluded this already, I’ve got a bit of a thing for concrete. I think it’s because it’s the “skin” of a city, and shows traces of everything the city is exposed to: water, dirt, chemicals, soot, bird droppings. In it’s way, it’s as endearing as a person’s own wrinkles.
An image from a really enjoyable portrait session with Bella Fisker. I thought that it would be interesting to surround her with white sheets flooded with light, so like kids we built a tent-fort and started experimenting. As it turned out, the most beautiful results came from suffusing the sheets with light from the outside, rather than illuminating the space from within…
Glance at the date of this post and you’ll see I’m a day short of four months late on this picture. This past Christmas Eve I decided to treat myself to a photographic tour of Hamilton’s industrial waterfront, an area I had passed on the Burlington Skyway time and again over the past decade. Frustratingly, much of the waterfront is sequestered behind gates and guardposts – a practice that makes some sense, given the value of the metals and equipment to be found in the factories and storage yards – but even so, I managed to capture some chromatically beautiful images of the sunset playing on polished surfaces and complicated pipework.
Happy Holidays, post facto.
I’m often attracted to scenes that have a kind of potentiality to them, without revealing at first what that potential is. I take the shot on instinct, and then later spend time with it, working at it like a sculpture, until what it wants to become is finally revealed.