Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What do you say, LeMay?

I wrote this script several weeks ago to amuse a few of my friends. We got together and I wrung a few performances out of them and assembled them in Adobe Audition, then built the video in the Adobe Premiere. It was a fun project and if you have a few minutes, you might get a chuckle or two out of it.

Kirkhams Road...

I never actually followed up on Kirkhams Road after I was out there in the fall of 2012. I was back a couple of times in 2013... guess I never made it out there this year (he says, with three hours to go in "this" year). But there wasn't much to see. The bridge was finally taken out sometime between my last visit to it in October of 2012 and April of 2013. I suppose the only thing to do as the years go by now will be to follow up on the way that nature reclaims the old road and banks, which have been planted with young trees. Obviously it won't be long before it looks very, very different.

Here's how it looked, variously, in April and August of 2013. These views (largely in contrast to the ones from October, 2012) approach from the north and generally face southward, with the exceptions of the three or four photos of the treed hillside that was formerly the road course, which face back northward.

Thinking before red

Last week when I was looking over some of the old infrared shots, the loveliness of them kind of inspired me. I started thinking back to when digital photography was new and exciting... when I carried a camera (sometimes two) on my person at all times; when I took pictures of virtually anything, just because I could. I look back now and I can see casual, ordinary working days when I went strolling at lunchtime and took literally hundreds of photographs. I'd be surprised if I take a half a dozen in a week now. Wow, what happened?

Anyway, I decided I should really get back out this spring and summer and do some more infrared work. There are great parks around here; nice places at the edge of town... I just need a bright day, the contrast of dark sky and inky-black water and the trees like snow, and I can get some more of that wonder. A couple of weeks ago I went looking for replacement batteries to fit the S80 (and the S70 and Rebel XT, for what it's worth: same battery). A place in British Columbia was selling them for about $8 apiece, so I bought four. They're here and waiting.

Had a roam through my old IR shots again yesterday evening and uploaded nearly two dozen to Flickr. Some of them are probably already there, but I don't care. It was just a way to start to get back into it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Quick revamp

I took five minutes and edited the links list for the first time in years. Gone are The Roads Scholar (farewell, old friend) and Dave Till's Toronto Photos (aw, Dave, why'd you ashcan that gold?). In their places, The King's Highway, an excellent site about the history of Ontario's provincial highway system, chock full of vintage photos and written by a man with a passion who, apparently, works for the Ministry of Transportation itself; and the City of Toronto Archives' online digital collection of aerial photographs of the lay of the land across Metropolitan Toronto, and often beyond, in various years after World War II. Excellent resources both!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A revamp may be in order...

I guess I've taken a momentary renewed interest in the blog. I remember years ago I used to have a list of blog links as long as your arm. Some time ago, that got shortened to about a half dozen or so. Just out of curiosity, I tried them. Most still work; one is a page to redirect you; and two 404 because they've gone by the boards. Specifically, they're The Roads Scholar and Dave Till's Toronto Photos... a real shame in both cases. The Roads Scholar, as I recall, was a retired gentleman who wrote extensively about old roads here in Ontario. Dave Till is a writer here in the city who wrote some excellent articles about the neighbourhoods around here back ten years ago or so, and while I think he's still out there blogging, the moorings of what he was posting and maintaining seemed to start to shift a while ago and I'm afraid I'm pointing now at something that's no longer there. A pity; his stuff was wonderful and personally inspiring. I can honestly say that his Toronto neighbourhoods pieces were a big reason I started going out and taking shots like that myself.

So, anyway, I suppose I should rejig my links section. I don't blog as much as I did years ago, or read as many, or comment on as many... actually, I think YouTube largely subsumed that role, now that I come to wonder why. Same with Flickr; I used to be all over that. Now a year can go by and I haven't thrown anything up there. I should probably have another burst of both. :)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Infrared revisited

I don't post a lot here these days. I guess I've really fallen out of the habit of just writing up everything I've seen, everything I've done, etc., etc... which, in a way, is a shame; because I look back at the last half of the previous decade and really see how I was spending my time and what I was doing with my life. A diary, of sorts, and I seem to have lost the desire to take the time. I regret it. No promises. I guess the best I can do is the best I can do...

But anyway, blah blah blah; the standard "sorry I haven't posted anything for a while" apologies out of the way; here's what I'm actually interested in this morning.

One of the things I do, sporadically, is take pictures and videos of the changing (or changed) landscape around here. Given that I've been doing this ten years now, or so, it's actually beginning to pay dividends that even I can now appreciate. I have a dash cam and not quite a month back, P-Doug and I were up in Bolton where considerable changes are happening to an area northwest of town that we know and love well. This morning I've been processing the video. But that's not what I'm here to talk about. :)

One of the many dated folders of "The Millennium Project"

In the process of doing it, I was strolling through the old photos, which are arranged by date. I noticed in one of the folders, I had a few infrared photos. Now, I've had digital infrared cameras since March of 2006; all of them Canon reconditioneds... G1 (subsequently sold to a friend), S70 (backup), and now an S80. I probably have several thousand infrared images... most of them nothing special, once you get over the fact that they're, y'know, infrared and all. But some of them, maybe one in every 25 or so, really do stand out. If the photo is taken between May and October, and it's a bright, sunny day with just a few interesting clouds in the sky, and you catch the angle of the sun on the leaves against the sky or water just right (and I still haven't put much thought into what that actually entails), you can really get some shots that you can really stare at for minutes and feel like you're not really on Earth when you do.

I spent maybe 15 minutes rolling through some of the stuff and picked out about a dozen images, then touched them up just a bit to boost the contrast (IR photography does have a tendency toward being a bit hazy). Other than that, I haven't altered them.

These following six photos were taken Canada Day, July 1, 2007 at Scenic Caves in Collingwood, Ontario. To my real surprise, I find I never blogged about this; especially given how many ethereal photos I took that day. I suppose I meant to at the time but never got around to it. One of the reasons might be because almost immediately afterward I and P-Doug and G took off for several days in Ottawa, and I did blog extensively about that.

What I really like about these photos is how much like, well, I guess a stereotypical idea of Heaven they seem to represent. Sunny. Serene. Timeless; even breathless. Everyone appearing to be dressed in white (natural fabrics tend to reflect infrared wavelengths; it's important to plants to be able to do this or they'd overheat). Oddly enough it was a surprisingly cold day for July; as I recall, it felt more like early spring than early summer. The day was unsettling somehow; I still don't think of it as joyful or contenting, and I'm still not sure why. But the photos I took in infrared light that day still impress me.

A few shots from Twelve Mile Creek; specifically, the Dundas Street bridge over it in Halton. I love how the water is black as ink but the trees look almost snow-covered. The abandoned supports once held a two-lane bridge that spanned the valley from the early 1920s till the late 1940s, when it was removed and replaced by the current four-laner (whose own days are numbered, I think, given the work recently completed at Sixteen Mile Creek not far down the road). The interesting thing is that not only did these supports survive, but within the past year or so they've been put back into use carrying a large water main, and even the bridge span was resurrected in the same original style (though narrower than two lanes). I'm hoping they eventually open it to pedestrians; it would seem a real shame not to.

Finally, a few shots from my second expedition under the 407 to the closed, cut-off stretch of Burnhamthorpe Road at Sixteen Mile Creek. These shots were actually taken by P-Doug, whom I asked to man the infrared camera for me that day. The low angle wheat stalks shot that ends this exhibition has always dazzled me and still fills me with good-natured envy. I only wish I could claim that shot, and the eye to compose it, as my own, but credit where credit is due.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hard to think of a title...

It's been a really long time since I've posted anything here. I guess there hasn't been a lot to say. I went from one job that I liked but had a monstrous drive to another with a considerably shorter commute but that I don't like and find frustrating and confusing. Not much to tell there.

The summer basically phoned it in... one of the most tepid weather-wise I can ever remember. I didn't get out and do that much... not much hiking, not much looking around (couldn't afford the extra gas and after spending 15-20 hours a week on the road, not much inclination to drive)... so not much to talk about.

Lately I've gotten out a little bit more. A few weeks ago in September I was at Black Creek Pioneer Village (which, oddly enough, is actually within the city limits of Toronto itself), though I was just coming down with a wickedly bad cold when I did... and the new job and some late-summer-in-early-autumn weather has allowed me to take some really nice shots of the fall colours along Etobicoke Creek at lunch time. So time for a photoblog entry, I suppose. :)

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Etobicoke Creek in early autumn