Subway 2014

I’ve been back in the subway shooting for the last week.

The following shot is one of the new exist hallways at Pape Subway Station. I can see why the renovations took so long. These hallway and staircases are huge. I’m liking the blank white titles. Funny though, in the hour I shot these areas, not one person used them. The multiple planes–created by the ceiling and lights in combination with the dogs-leg in the corridor–work well with the oversized minimalist panels and subdued colour palette. Strangely enough in this instance it’s the utilitarian terrazzo floor seems almost overly complex and detailed.IMG_1995Dufferin Subway Station a few months before the work is completed. This is the main floor foyer, the entrance/exit to the street is to the right of the frame. There was a beautiful light streaming through the glass at about 9:00 in the morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if the station refurbishment is a few months behind schedule. It needs a bit of work still. Again, the most impressive part of the renovation are the second exits built from the platform to street level. Expansive. IMG_2095The shot below is of Dufferin Subway Station at track level with a passing train. I’ve always been interested in how the background of this sort of image stays so definable through the windows of the subway cars.

The update to the station is all about these new square coloured tiles. I find the treatment optimistic and look forward to seeing the images that the coloured tiles form when it’s all done. IMG_2151This is the mezzanine of Dufferin Subway Station. I’m calling it the mezzanine because it’s the floor between track level and the upper foyer. The tiles here are a continuation of the upper hall imagery and I’m pretty sure represent pixelated flesh tones. The floors and ceilings still need a lot of work, but that’s pretty basic stuff. IMG_2154Another shot in Dufferin Subway Station from one of the new exits looking onto track level as a train comes into the station. Like the new Pape second exits, I didn’t see anyone use these during the time I was shooting, but they’re relatively impressive to me. Simple and functional yet a lot of work to hammer through underground around existing foundations, sewers, electrical and who knows what else. Seems like an engineering miracle.IMG_2176Museum Subway Station isn’t my favourite, but I think it works well for the kiddies. Part of my dislike is that before the renovation this was one of my favourite stations. It had the original yellow tile and that tile was almost immaculate throughout which is very hard to find. So many stations have had repairs and tiles are replaced, but those repaired titles always look so out of place because they’re colours are usually way off. It’s hard to match the original tiles that have faded uniformly together over 50 years or so.  Museum was also one of the few central platform stations that had a grand presence. It was sad to see it overhauled in what felt like a Disneyland sort of way. I think the majority of people like this station though and it does do a good job of calling out the ROM so I can see this as being for the greater good.IMG_2229Leslie Subway Station on the Sheppard Line. The whole five stop Sheppard extension is very quiet. This is a Mel Lastman legacy. I wonder if he rode to election in that infamous second term because he pushed this through? Traffic on this line has never seemed to justify the build, but the future will rectify that. I couldn’t help thinking that this extension was most likely conceived and executed for the same reasons that Rob Ford’s Scarborough line, which is a transparent way to buy voter support. I never thought I’d say this but Lastman was  a genius of a mayor when compared to Ford. IMG_2458Sheppard Subway Station on the Sheppard line. This is at the Western end of the platform and one of the only places in the Subway where you can see the signal lights standing on their own in full view. I imagine someday this line might continue east, pummelling through to meet the Scarborough Rapid Transit Line. IMG_2393Finch Subway Station is a sprawling place. Bus platforms for Brampton, York and Go Transit, two parking lots and eight separate entrances. I’ve shot this yellow tiled area before but I couldn’t resist it’s retro charm. This is the original tile and ceiling from the first days of the station.IMG_2259One of the staircases that takes you from the mezzanine level up to the bus station area. There’s a white balance conflict happening in this shot where the natural sunlight meets the artificial fluorescent light and I need to fix, but it will be a bit fiddly in Photoshop. You can see that conflict in the purple cast on the left wall and staircase.IMG_2350Below is a central circular portion of a hallway in Finch Subway Station that has three hallways running off it. One goes back into the station proper, one to parking and one to a street exit.IMG_2286The shot below was a lucky find. It’s mid-way through a renovation on one of the circular windows that accent the mezzanine level of the Sheppard Centre Subway station. This hole will eventually get finished with a stainless gasket-like window. There’s a row of four of these up the staircase you can view through the circular hole in the image below. Of course my smarty pants art friends all were reminded of Gordon Matta-Clark who I had to look up and is now a favourite of mine.

I also realized that I loved this image after the fact, but I had a feeling I would feel that way as soon as I saw it. I went back twice and shot it to get a sharper file. It was a bit tricky because the shutter speed is so low at ISO 100 that I’m forced to use a tripod, and that tripod isn’t quite tall enough in certain situations. After this I think it’s time for a new tripod. Maybe Ill splurge. 100 ISO is my norm now.IMG_2609The following two images were taken at Islington Subway Station. I’m not really sure what these black boxes are in every subway station, but they have power going to them.  The second image was taken through a glass window and shows a view into what looks to be dis-used office on the far Western end of the platform.IMG_2493 (1) IMG_2536(1)Davisville Subway Station. This is the view from the mezzanine level elevator hallway across both tracks to the TTC offices. I’d love to get in those offices and forage around for rooms and empty, unused office space to shoot. I bet I could find a lot of stuff with that 60s dated feel, like the office desk shown in the above Islington shot.

The following image struck me as interesting because of the way the yellow safety rail’s labyrinthine feel.IMG_2760Davisville Subway Station escalator down to track level. I’ve liked these yellow highlights for years but never really got images I was happy with. I think I can live with this one and a few others. Repeat the mantra with me; walls, benches, stairs and escalators!IMG_2753Lawrence Subway Station is pretty crazy. It’s actually four levels down to track level and it has a strange old school elegance. Walking up the staircase on the north end of the platform is a real trek. there must be 7 or 8 sets of stairs to get out of the depths of track level.IMG_2725 IMG_2715 The TTC has begun to camouflage the second ticket booths at many of the stations with printed stickering. I imagine this is to call attention away from the fact that there are not two booths open. Certain stations need both booths because of volume, and in the future maybe all stations will so busy that two booths are open. It’s not generally a problem if you’re patient and I’m sure lines will be reduced when they have a presto system in place. This is the Lawrence Station second booth disguised as an extension of the real blue tiled wall. IMG_2712Kennedy Subway Station is the end of the eastern portion of the Bay Bloor line. Here there’s a general commotion all the time with passengers and train cleaners milling about. Trains pull in and then go out of service for a while as they get cleaned, or just hang for a few minutes while a crew does a quick clean. The same thing happens at the other end of the line and at Finch Station on the bloor line. I imagine it happens at Downsview as well.IMG_2826Warden Subway Station was a favourite. I’ve been and shot there before, but never fully explored. The bus station portion was amazing and empty. That’s where the bench was shot. I just went down the stairs from the mezzanine level on one of the bus bays that’s no longer used and there it was. The first image is the staircase alcove on the way down to the kiss-and-ride area. If you look in the mirror you can see a reflection of me with the camera on a tripod and two people coming up the stairs. It’s fairly creepy. Why do I like blank walls? IMG_2809 IMG_2791IMG_2466

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June 2014

June 2014 marked the first time I’ve walked to my Eglington and Don Valley Parkway area office. The 15km took me about 3 hours at a leisurely pace. I often ride my bike and it takes about 50 minutes. For some reason though I’ve grown tired of riding. It’s just not fun. The roads are in brutal condition and I’ve begun to feel more and more like it’s just another way to get to work rather than being an enjoyable way to get to work.

I’ve always wanted to walk but never thought it would be possible for some weird reason. One morning three weeks ago I just woke up and decided to do it. I took my camera bag and work stuff with me and set out about 7:00 a.m. it was great. I loved it. Walk2I only took one photograph that I like on the first journey. It’s a shot of the hoarding that covers up what I think might be another Roots store on Bloor between Avenue and Bay Street.IMG_1735I loved that first walk so much that I made the journey again last week taking a different route. Now I’m thinking I’ll walk–to or from work–at least once a week. I think I can see myself doing this year round.Walk1 I was amazed at how easy it was. Sure I was tired and a bit sore, but it really was pretty straightforward. I’ve been thinking why I like it so much and it’s definitely a combination of the physical challenge, the slowed down and leisurely pace, the ability to really see what’s around me and the time it allows me think. It’s super peaceful.

Walking is also an extension of my art practice. At one point I would have said that practice was about photography but now I would say it’s more about the actual walking. It’s the journey that empowers me to think and to see things. My latest photography exhibitions have been titled “Wandering” and although these walking trips are planned from one location to another I’d say that word still fits.

On the second trip I found a few thing that I think I like. Part of the point of this blog is to simply post things, live with them, and decide what I feel has value then dump the rejected stuff. For now these two images are in my good books. We’ll see how long that lasts.IMG_1750 IMG_1751This really has been a month for me to try and break free of the daily routine I’ve become so accustom to. Partly because I’m bored, but also to see if I can shake of this artistic void I seem to be wallowing in.

We just got back from a one night trip to Prince Edward County. Being by the water was nice. Being in a place that’s not the city was also very nice, and one night was perfect. I missed my life back here in nutter land and was glad to get back. I’d definitely return for the same sort of trip soon I think. It might be better with a bunch of friends. The pace is pretty low key with nothing much to do in the evenings. The shot below is from the beach by our bed & breakfast in Wellington.IMG_1789-2We ended up eating some great food and drinking some great wine. We should also be pretty much stocked for the next 5 or 6 months of drinking. The County Cider Company was our first stop and they had excellent food and deliciously dry cider. We sat and looked out across their vineyard and the lake on a beautiful day while we ate crazy salads.

Hinterland was very cool, and will be amazing once they’ve got their kitchen up and running. It’s nothing to see really, but it has a very down to earth and simple aesthetic that we liked. It’s not trying to be a vineyard, it is a vineyard. We bought a case of our favourite bubbly stuffs there. Decadent.

The Norm Hardie place waswinderful. Their pizza was incredible, the staff was laid back and attentive, and there was a wickedly friendly dog there. We bought a case of wine and I got the following photograph that I really, really like from the second floor tasting room looking out over the fermenting floor.IMG_1805-2Hopefully July will be a more productive month for me. I might see if we can plan a trip back to Prince Edward County so I can do a planned art performance/photography thing. It involves a vacant field a day’s worth of walking in circles, then a day of photography. I think I might contact Norm Hardie and see if he has a patch of land I could use. I’ll also be venturing back into the subway over the July Long weekend. Keep happy and stay tuned.


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