Monday, May 31, 2010

New board member

New board member - #199/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

I took a shot of this fence close to my home a little while ago but I wasn't happy with the crispness of the focus so I kept it my proverbial back pocket for a rainy day (I also have spot downtown that I have saved for a day when I'm stuck for a shot).

Well it wasn't rainy, but it was overcast, so I used the vivid+ setting to boost the contrast and bring out whatever colour and tones were there. When I got to the spot, I noticed there was a new sapling planted in front of the fence. There's something to be said for grabbing a shot when you first get the chance - things change. Well, once I moved closer to the fence, I had a clear shot without the sapling in the way - if you're not happy with your composition, move around, there's always a good angle and point-of-view. I took a few shots that showed a little bit of the grass, but following the rule of abstract photography, keep distractions to a minimum and isolate your subject with a telephoto lens.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Arts & Letters Club, Doors Open Toronto

On day two of exploring old and new buildings in Toronto during Doors Open, my wife and are spent some time at The Arts & Letters Club. Interesting old building in the heart of downtown Toronto that seems to step back in time. This artists studio is on the top floor and I can actually see the building right here from my office - I never knew this club existed until this week !

The shot was easy, although I made the mistake of asking if photography was allowed when I first walked in. The host at the front door said no photography was allowed because of copyright on the art, however after seeing many people taking shots of everything in the building, I didn't feel too guilty grabbing a few shots. I thought this studio was lovely, beautifully lit and roomy. I almost asked for a shot of the model posing, but felt it may have been a bit intrusive. I almost thought I may find a subject for my stranger project, however I felt quite insecure and uncomfortable in their presence.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Regis College, University of Toronto

My wife and I enjoyed visiting a number of buildings for Doors Open Toronto. Regis College wasn't on our list, but we happened to walk by and stopped in for a quick look. We're pleased that we did and we loved the old rooms, warms woods and the beautiful lighting, you could say heavenly.

I took quite a few shots and in a similar shot, the white balance was off because of the strong natural lighting from the large windows, however in Auto White Balance (and -1EV) here, the proper mix of warmth and artificial white light appears spot on.

Friday, May 28, 2010

iPad Canadian launch day

The iPad was launched in Canada today and I thought it would be a good photo opp. I was pleased to hear that the fine people at Apple had no problems with me taking lots of pictures. In this and the other shots in the set, I think you can see from the different facial expressions, the way the iPad is held and the use of the fingers, what makes Apple's devices pretty special.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Toronto Ultimate Club - 30 year commemorative disc

I started playing ultimate in 1992 and have played every year since. My first team, the Phlithy Flyers were one of about 20 teams, now the league has hundreds of teams. My second team, with a much more creative name of GO Ho Sex Hounds is also on this commemorative disc and my third team and one of the most talented teams I ever played on, Black Toe, make it three. The teams listed here are from the early years, and since Black Toe I've probably played on 6 other summer teams and countless indoor winter teams. I'm also proud to say that I the diving man in the oval is actually my design. I always wished I'd copyrighted it back when I drew it in the 90's as it is still used as th Toronto Ultimate Club logo.

I played a lot with lighting the disc for this photo. I probably could have got a reasonable shot without doing anything too special, but I had a few spare minutes and wanted to get a shot with minimal reflections. I took the shot as the sun was quite low, so I need flash to get the best exposure and be in control of the light. I set up my small (gold) reflector to the right and aimed my external Speedlight flash towards it from camera left. I had to have the pop-up enabled to trigger the IR controlled external Speedlight, but I didn't want direct flash, so I simply shielded the pop-up a little with my hand. I played with camera and flash EV and voila.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Focused Mat

Focused Mat - #194/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
First night of our summer ultimate [frisbee] league. I took quite a few shots while I was taking a breather on the sideline. This is my old friend and teammate on Oxygen Hazard, Mat. If you're not familiar with ultimate, Mat is looking for an open upfield teammate to pass to as the defense rushing in to try and block his throw. We put in a strong fight in the 2nd half but lost our season opener.

I used the in-camera trim as a quick way to crop before downloading. I'm not certain if there's a difference in quality between the cropping methods, but for casual shots like this, in-camera looks fine. At a sports event, it makes lots of sense to shoot quick multi-frame bursts and worry about what you've captured later on - the luxury of digital. My Nikon in-camera custom image optimization settings for this shot and what I have had set some quite some time now are: +1 sharpening; +1 tone compensation (contrast); IIIa color; auto saturation and 0 hue adjustment.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I went to pick my son up from Don Valley Golf Club and while I was waiting I got talking with Scott. He was working the pro shop and he told me he was turning pro in the fall. Like my son he played CJGA tournaments when he was younger and had a junior membership for the City of Toronto golf clubs. During one of his first years being a member he got a job at Don Valley and has been working there ever since.

The sun was going down very fast so I had to resort to my pop-up flash to get a decent exposure for Scott. I didn't have my external Speedlight flash, so I got some odd colouring in one of Scott's eyes. The red-eye Photoshop and Nikon in-camera fixers didn't work, so one fix I had to make to this otherwise unedited shot, was use the clone tool on one eye and replace the other.

Scott is also #54 in my 100 strangers project.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Tankhouse - #192/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
After a tough, hot weather bike ride and a tall glass of water, a beer was the perfect way to finish off a glorious afternoon. The condensation on the bottle added some texture to the shot and I shot from a low angle to get some brighter background bokeh. I used a close-up 4x filter.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

She loves her mug

She loves her mug - #192/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Now the warm weather is here, we spend a lot of time on our deck. My wife just loved her heart mug and I like the colour of her shirt with the darker brink. I took a few shots, but chose this low depth-of-field shot because I liked the way the mug stood out and the soft focus of my wife fits with the mood of our lazy morning.

Indoor marshmallow roasting

As part of our Urban Cottage Weekend, we decided that wood burning fireplace in the living room would serve just fine for roasting marshmallows.

There is lots of light coming from the flame, so no-flash was an easy choice and I didn't take long with only a few minor adjustments to capture the flames like this. I think the marshmallow silhouette works well.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nightime fauna goes deep sea

I really like the way these branches twist and turn. I changed to B&W and took a low angle and heated it up with direct (pop-up) flash. I like that it kind of looks like something from the deep. The shot has some flaws, but I'm still pleased with the overall creation.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Doyon-Rivest. Le siècle des lumières

This is just one segment of a very large photographic piece mounted against the West windows of Brookfield Place, downtown Toronto as part of the Contact Photography Festival. It's definitely worth a look if you're downtown, but you have to get up close to really appreciate th quality of the print and what a fantastic concept. Click here for more info and here for other shots.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Man amongst the pigeons

The silhouettes and the warm background were much more attractive that shooting a "correct" exposure. I just had to be patient for an interesting composition.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gord Deppe, The Spoons

Gord Deppe, The Spoons - #187/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Local 80's band, The Spoons played at Yonge Dundas Square in conjunction with a Dairy Queen promotion (they're about the same age). It was great to hear some of their classic tracks and I was pleased to see a lot of people singing and dancing along.

It's always quite difficult to photograph concerts, but at least I had pretty good access and it was in the bright of day. The partly sunny weather made for tricky lighting and exposure, so I ended up using auto white balance (although I do use -1 EV to add some warmth), I used the cloudy setting (with -1 EV again) for this shot.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ontario Veteran's Memorial, Queen's Park

I stopped by Queen's Park for the first time in a long time and I really liked the Ontario Veteran's Memorial - classy, but gritty and grainy textures gave it the appropriate somber feel.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jesus and the chimney

Jesus and the chimney - #185/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I had a tough time picking a shot today as each shot had something I wasn't happy with. I ended up choosing this one, as I like reflections, and the glass has some interested texture to it and I like the way Jesus is centered over the chimney reflection.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Contact. Gladstone. Slootsky.

I was at The Gladstone Hotel to check out the Exposed photography showing which is part of the Contact Photography Festival. If you've never been to The Gladstone, it's worth the visit for its step-back-in-time interiors. And if you're short on festival time, The Gladstone is perfect because the 2nd floor has a a wide variety of photographic work from a lot of different artists. Then there are other exhibits on the 3rd and 4th floors. This shot is on the 4th floor and gives a glimpse of some of Zach Slootsky's wonderful captures.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lolo scooter

Lolo scooter, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I walk by Lolo on Yonge (at Albertus) almost every day walking my dog. I had a fantastic Bouillabaisse there a while ago with my wife and a visiting work colleague. Scooters seem to be a popular promotional and style accessory for smaller European restaurants in Toronto.

The exposure was critical to show a little of the inside and not too much to blow out the lettering on the awning. I took the shot from across the street using a lamp post to steady the shot.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian - #182/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

I love seeing my kids read. My son is a good reader and gobbles up fiction series very quickly. He just got this book - The Last Olympian today and he's about a third of the way through it in under 2 hours.

I took a whole bunch of shots down at his level but the compositions were never just right, but this elevated perspective stood out. Lesson learned: always look for new angles, especially when you're trying to keep the frame distraction free.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Macro circles and spirals

I had a very busy day at work, so I only got around to taking a few shots around 11pm tonight. One of the reasons I recently bought a set of close-up filters was to add some creative options for photography around the home when I don't get a chance to take shots in the outside world. I like how this one turned out, simple object, close up detail captured with 4x close-up filter. I also used the "commander" mode on my Nikon D80 to trigger the remote flash that helped with reducing the very strong shadows. I could have bumped up the external flash EV to take out the shadow, but perhaps leaving some shadow helps preserve context and depth.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First round of the year

My son has a junior pass for the city golf courses this year, which includes a couple of evening time slots. The weather was pretty iffy, but we easily finished our 18 hole round in way under 4 hours. I was pleased with a 99 (including a mulligan and max, messed up 10), my son gave me a good run on the first 9, but his frozen hand hurt his swing on the back nine - advantage Dad.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mature blue nose

Mature blue nose - #179/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Our dog Kooper had a couple days boarding while we were out of town for Mother's day. He seems to have changed a little, more mature, more mellow, more responsive, even less hungry. Mostly good, but worried he may be a little under the weather, we'll see. I caught him on the back deck, enjoying the warm sun and liked the highlight around his eye. The shadow came out rather blue, maybe because of his nose.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Close-up-filter test (10x)

Another close-up filter test. This one was taken with the 10x filter on my 50mm lens. I'd read that the 10x filter produced some very soft focus away from centre, so it's important to keep you subject quite centered.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Close-up-filter test (4x)

I purchased a set of Zeikos closeup filters from Amazon (US) recently after reading about the cheap option to expensive macro specific lenses. These filters basically reduce the closest focusing distance of a normal lens. The set I purchased had 1x, 2x, 4x and 10x magnification factors. This one was taken with the 4x filter on my 50mm lens. The other thing that will take a little getting used to is the dramatic decrease of depth-of-field. But for less than $15, if worth experimenting and seeing if macro photography is your thing.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cafe Supreme moment in the rain

The weather was really nasty and I didn't have a lot of chances to get out and shoot many photos. I tried to get some car curb splashes, but lost patience with the settings and waiting for a pedestrian victim. I took this one from while under cover and chose it fr the mix of some interesting architectural detail, the reflection and the lady's look.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - #175/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I forgot to take my dSLR to the dog park this evening, but had Blackberry did an ok job catching the shot. As I was loading Kooper in the trunk of our wagon, I noticed the powerded sky. I like the layer of Kooper and me, although I wish I'd smiled.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

AGO white arches

AGO white arches - #174/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I stopped by the AGO today to see the Barbara Kruger exhibit as part of the Contact Photography Festival. There are so many beautiful shapes and lines in the gallery and the lighting in the open atriums is wonderful.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Busy bee

Busy bee - #173/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
This is my neighbour's tree and as I was takig shots of the beautiful blossoms I spotted this busy bee. Grabbed some good shots even though I chose AF-S (static auto focus) my mistake, I'd meant to chose AF-C (continuous) to keep him in focus as he moved about.

I also accidentally left the vivid+ setting on when I took this shot, so I used the RAW version and saved it unedited as JPG (always good to have the RAW version handy).

Monday, May 3, 2010

West Humber Motown shades

Now the warm weather is truly settling in, we get to enjoy musical performances on a regular basis at Yonge Dundas Square. These events, big or small are wonderful opportunities to capture musicians up close. This was the Motown style band from West Humber C.I.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dog gone tired

Dog gone tired - #171/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
We picked Kooper up from his trial overnight stay at a pet boarding place and he was so tired all day. I love getting down on all fours to get the best angles.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Old newspaper folds, glimpses of the past

While doing a little cleanup around the house I found this yellowed piece of a very old newspaper. Our house is about 80 years old, so this could be from the 1930's. I thought the way the page was folded was interesting as the left side page shows some housing prices and on the inside page on the right as obituaries. I shot using the marco text setting on our Fuji FinePix 200exr and also used a sepia in-camera setting.