We had a big March Break storm last night in East Dodgeville. I decided to use the opportunity to do something I’ve never been able to do before: take pictures of lightning. I’ve tried in the past but have been wholly unsuccessful for one simple reason: by the time I see that spectacular motivational flash of lightning and then get the camera set up and positioned, the storm has already passed and I’m standing there with a remote in my hand looking like an idiot. But this was a big enough storm that I was still able to have the camera ready for the last two hours of the light show despite missing the first wave of lightning. I’m also a big wimp so I stayed inside and took pictures through the window. I’m sure there would have been many more and better pictures if I’d ventured down to the shore with an umbrella, but some of the strikes were close enough that I was quite happy to be hiding inside. Check below the fold for the obligatory gallery and some comments on the storm and taking pictures of lightning.
Continue reading 'Big storm'»
I set myself a challenge when Risa and I took a walk through the wildflower preserve at Todmorden Mills this weekend: to use a single fixed focal-length lens (16mm fisheye in this case) for the entire outing. Something about it seems old-fashioned: in an age when super zoom lenses can be found on virtually every camera, you might as well be wearing pants up to your armpits, wagging your finger and starting every sentence with, “Back in my day…” Still, it’s a good exercise to learn to zoom with your feet again. It gives both you and your pictures perspective.
This being January in Toronto, there just aren’t a lot of wildflowers around. There’s also not much more than a smattering of snow and ice here and there, making everything at ground level relentlessly brown. Even so, the preserve was fairly busy when we went, with a number of families and dog walkers enjoying the short trail, sunny skies, and relatively balmy weather. We were each armed with a camera but seemed to be the only ones taking pictures.
Check out the short gallery below the fold.
Continue reading 'Single-lens challenge'»
Seeing a large ice crystal like this, about an inch long, is fairly rare. Now imagine seeing thousands upon thousands of them:
We’re spending a few post-Christmas days at the cottage and awoke to a visual treat on Thursday: Wednesday’s sudden deep freeze and blowing wind gave us a large field of feather ice growing on the lake. The lake began the day on Monday as completely open water; Tuesday brought some long ribbons of ice along the wind lines; by Wednesday only a few open spots were left, and by Thursday morning it was completely frozen over. I don’t know much about the formation of feather ice, but I’m guessing that the low temperatures combined with the wind blowing over the remaining patches of open water on Wednesday picked up enough moisture to cause this field to form near our shoreline. It’s at least a hectare in size.
I would have spent much more time taking pictures, but lying down on a frozen lake while manipulating an SLR on a tripod at ground level isn’t exactly the most comfortable position I’ve ever been in. Check out the gallery below the fold for a couple of additional pictures I managed to take before my pants froze to the lake.
Continue reading 'Feather ice'»
I fulfilled a lifelong fantasy yesterday and rode a bucket 45 feet into the air. York Mills Collegiate, where Risa teaches, was doing an outdoor photo shoot to mark their 50th anniversary and the official photographer was running late. As the husband of the event organizer, I was quickly drafted to stand in a basket at the end of a really long pole.
That’s my new best friend Ian three storeys below me at the bucket controls.
All of the students gathered on the field behind the school to spell out the York Mills initials, paying homage to a similar image taken 20 years ago for the 30th anniversary. Risa is one of the few to be in both pictures — the first as a student, the second as a teacher.
Naturally, I made Risa take pictures of me up in the bucket after my official duties concluded. Weee!
No, I’m not talking about the kind of inspiration you get from Successories.
A post on the Spacing Wire last week pointed to a short film called Drum 13 (requires QuickTime 7) by Tony Round. The description read, “a banjo and a massive abandoned Cherry Beach oil drum really do belong together.” Drum 13 was filmed in February 2005. It turns out that in April 2006, I had visited the same location and taken these pictures, among many others, of that oil tank:
While I was there, I was struck by how this big old boring piece of industrial detritus could be so compelling a subject and offer so many interesting studies in light and form. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures of industrial ruins, but this place was special. I couldn’t believe that I’d ridden my bike past it for so many years without once venturing onto the site and vowed to come back as the seasons changed throughout the year.
But by June 2006, the site had been leveled, and you never would have known that the empty field had ever held anything more substantial. It is currently being developed into the transitional sports fields in the port lands. The experience underscored the importance of timing: if you have a chance to take a picture, take it — the scene may not exist an hour from now, never mind next week or next month.
I lamented the loss of the picturesque location, but didn’t know that anyone else had appreciated its interesting features before I saw Drum 13 posted online last week. I wondered if anyone else had been artistically inspired by this storage tank. Some quick Googling found that at least a few other photographers and some musical experimenters have documented the location over the years. It’s good to know that I wasn’t the only fan of this abandoned piece of the city.