Wander January 2017

January 2017 and I’ve started to wander again. It’s been too long but life sort of gets in the way sometimes. It’s not that I haven’t had time,  I just haven’t been motivated.  I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and that means exploring the city slowly on foot and letting stuff just sort of happen.

I’ve also started to remove myself from social media. Its just counter productive for me. I’ll start to write about the things here on my website. I use to do that religiously and I miss it. If you need any info or have any questions about anything please contact me at info@chrisshepherd.net

The following were taken over a period of three days as 2017 was ushered in. Each day I wandered for a few hours with no distinct destination planned.

Below is the back of the U of T Medical Sciences Building. You can access the spot via a modest little driveway called Discovery Lane. I’m not sure if you still call this style of architecture Brutalist because it’s embellished with these vertical aesthetic elements, but it looks interesting. It’s an eight story structure and all the deeper vertical members on the left hand side of the frame hide the windows on this south facing wall—at least from this angle. I’ve done a bit of post production tilt-shift to make the image work better for me using the Photoshop Lens Correction tool.

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I’ve taken pictures of the Toronto Spiritualists Temple on College around the Mod Club for years, but never with any success or never that ever resonated with me. It’s a very modest little church like building. In truth it’s more like a cottage with a few coloured windows. This frame shows a section of the front window unit and I’m pretty sure that’s just coloured glass, or even just plastic-coated glass you’re looking at. The building must be over 50 years old. It has a distinctly 50-60s feel to it. I like the rectangles within a rectangle thing in this shot, and the border that’s created by the white window frames.

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These next two images were taken close to home, adjacent to The West Toronto Rail Path. Both were shot through the clear acrylic fences that stop people from crossing the train track areas. This is probably a good thing because the corridor is very busy now with the Go, Via and UP trains all passing through at regular intervals.

The community had wanted green-living walls to be built to separate us from tracks and noise, but the powers–that–be thought these were the best solution. They sold us acrylic barriers and assured us they were graffiti proof. They must have tested them with water colour paints because they are now favourite targets for middle class taggers. Their paint has no problem permanently adhering to the acrylic. We can live with the tags no matter how lame they are but the real sad reality is the cleaning contractor uses a cheap-ass-toxic solvent to remove the tags and it doesn’t work and ends up creating the mess you see below. The smudgy parts are where tags have been melted off with some bargain basement solvent.

Looks sort of cool on a cold grey winter’s day. These two images are no-filter, colour photographs.

We love this neighbourhood, although the 10 years of construction is a bit tiresome.
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Small note on the Wander process. I use a Canon 5Ds with a 55 mm Sigma Art lens. I shoot on aperture priority with an ISO of 200. I rarely change lenses, but when I do I have one other and that’s a Canon L series 17-35mm.

I’ve taken photographs of this Hydro Building Roof Access Ladder at Ossington and Dupont on a previous wander. On this occasion I simply positioned myself to capture the opposite angle. I was also a lot closer. I’m not sure why but these ladders are the same on almost all hydro buildings but I like them, I love the circular handles and how they stand out against the sky.

0m6a2781These pipes are across the street from G&H Furniture on Dupont. I have trouble taking pictures when I’m looking up or down. I’d rather be straight on. This is beyond my comfort zone, but the central straight vertical line is helping me to accept it.0m6a2777This is a weird little still life inside a weirder still display of another window. Located along the east side of the block the once was Honest Ed’s. Seriously—when is the last time you used the yellow pages? This forgotten gem must have been stuck in this space a long time ago. Although it’s rather specific, I have shot forgotten yellow pages before. I think that’s because the city is so big and I wander so much.

Everything about this weird window is engaging to me. It’s also the one picture I took of the Honest Ed’s block the day after it closed for good to make way for condos. I couldn’t help thinking that although it seeing the past disappear is sometimes a drag the change will be good for the Annex. The whole area has been pretty ghetto for as long as I can remember. The sad part is that this means a lot of people will be displaced. Gentrification happens and some parts of it certainly suck. As a weird aside I think there may be less interesting stuff to see when I wander because of this. Gentrification and the sanitization that accompanies it is not necessarily engaging.
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I’ve always loved these huge memorials to U of T students, faculty and alumni that were killed in the world wars. I’m assuming these are the list of the war dead. The font is amazing and the craftsmanship is truly wonderful to behold. Whenever I see these I think I want to take graphite rubbings of them on some huge pieces of paper.

0m6a2693There’s a Salvation Army Shelter for Women in the Junction. It’s across from what once was McBride Cycle but is now the almost complete DK Condos on Dundas West. It always makes me think about the relationships between men and women, because I imagine that most of the reason for these women to end up here is that men fuck them up. Maybe that’s unfair, but as I get older I really do think that men are basically irresponsible children that never grow up and that a huge portion of them cause a lot of grief and anguish to others.

I took this because the scene was simple and reminded me very much of Thomas Demand. I really love that work and because of it I see “Found Demands” everyday. 0m6a2647Crane cables form the construction area beside our house. I’m terribly sick of this construction cycle that literally began with the remediation of the land about eight years ago. But I’m also aware that it’s quite a first world problem.
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Long Walking

Long Walking finds things. I’m feeling good about starting to long walk again. It’s been too long since it seemed like my second nature. The trick to get back into it is to start smaller, with hour-long treks. It feels like I’m seeing things again slowly. This upcoming weekend the focus will be on a two-hour journey, hopefully in some new, strange neighbourhood I’ve never been too. This should help shake things up.

Over this first weekend in June my camera got out exploring a few times and the photograph below is a closer view of a staircase I shot last year. The frightening truth however is that I just looked that image up and it was actually taken two years ago. There’s a lost year in my head somewhere. That not too surprising. Despite this weird space mess up what matters is that I liked the original image from 2014. This one is even more pleasing to me. I’ve revisited the same place but I’ve changed and this new photograph seems different, more abstracted. It took a long time but I’m pleased with the abstraction achieved.

IMG_0583 Before the walk and the shot above, we met friends at a gallery opening at Angell Gallery for the Adam Lee show and while leaving noticed this cool patterning in the parking lot lines. I shot it then with my iPhone. In an effort to get a better quality shot I went back three times over the course of the weekend and finally captured this image which was taken after a thunderstorm in the early evening. I think I prefer the iPhone image slightly, but that’s just a shitty quality file that I can’t do too much with. The shot below makes me think I might have found a small series that I can continue. These could also be images that turn into paintings. IMG_0545I have a great photography supply place right around the corner from my house. FilmPlus has been good to me over the years. I’m pretty sure I bought a lens from these folks. I’ve bought a bunch of little stuff from them and rented a bit. It’s a no fuss, professional shop that deals predominantly with the many studios in the neighbourhood and rents almost anything. Last thing I rented was a Canon 5Ds. This shot is taken on a Sunday as I walked by the store front on my way from taking the parking lots lines above. I’m guessing this is some sort of large reflective diffuser for strobe flash of some sort. It’s huge at about 1 meter across and decidedly steampunk looking. I don’t do much artificial lighting so it’s a bit of a mystery to me.IMG_0560 Sometimes I’d like to be less geometric and get more organic.

Like many people I’ve always loved power lines but this is the first time I’ve shot them that feels like a potential print. Usually power lines just get in the way of what I’m shooting and these were doing the same thing until a slight switch in perspective made them the subject of the shot. Just before a thunderstorm hit while shooting the clouds for another project it became apparent that the camera could be lined up to make the power lines seems perfectly straight and become a somewhat painterly incursion into the background. This shot is a continuation of the vertical window blinds shots from a few years back. Again this feels like a bit of a man-made, found, hard-edged, abstract painting piece and again this is feeling like a potential series.
IMG_0572 The one below feels like a bit of a throw away, the colours and textures are interesting though. Taken under the very dark and depressing Keele Street rail bridge just above Dundas West. The iron work is quite stupendous though.IMG_0598All of this feels like a good start to the idea of longer walks. I’m getting back to the idea of being a flâneur and think maybe a new camera is in store as well. So if anyone is reading this and feels like taking the plunge into a used, full-frame DSLR I’m going to be selling my present Canon 5D Mark ii. I think I’ll offer it up at a good price. It’s been a pretty damn fine camera. It is however time for bigger file sizes to accommodate bigger prints so the 5DsR is on the horizon. I’m also looking forward to the idea of setting the 5Dsr  up to show square crops. I’m so tired of the 2:3 ratio of the typical SLR.

 

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July 5, 2015

July 5, 2015 was a beautiful day. I wandered around close to home taking photographs. It’s amazing how much I seem to see in a place I’ve seen so many times. I began to doubt that I was capturing anything worthwhile, but then decided to keep going and shoot what I felt like shooting. I seem to be getting more shots I keep lately. Maybe I’m just being more self indulgent than usual.

A few years ago our community was getting a new condo development called Giraffe. We were excited because it would have been a contemporary/environmental build and stood to revitalize the corner of Dundas West and Bloor. The developer ran into difficulty. I bet a lot of people lost a lot of money and never got new homes plus the entire north west block at Bloor and Dundas is empty. The superficial marketing facade for Giraffe is falling off, and the whole place is just a derelict, dirty waste of space. This window in the image below use to be the street facing display of the sales office. The brown paper installed after the project died has crumpled in on itself. I cropped in the ratio of large format frame size 4:5. There’s something I like about the awkwardness in this image.IMG_5471Across from the abandoned Giraffe block is a huge dental office. It sits in the bottom of a very brutalist tower. I try not to look up because it’s so depressing. The only thing that could help this place would be a demolition. Despite this I’m obsessed with tired looking vertical blinds and the main floor has a lot of them. They actually seem to be working better than most vertical blinds. I like these in particular for the simple geometric abstraction, the symmetry between blinds, the reflection on the glass from across the street and the different shadows that are cast on each element of the blind. IMG_5473The backside of orange, wooden, construction signs draws me in lately. Here the sign and it’s wooden support are in front of a newish hydro pole. The grass is super healthy with all the rain we’ve been getting so the colours work nicely here. Note: this is taken on a downward and off center angle. I’m getting more comfortable with asymmetry and and less interested in perfect alignment.IMG_5439Inside a vacant dry cleaner, from outside through the window. Peg board and concrete. I remember it as being more blue, but this is close.IMG_5499Places like this one below fascinate me. This is the embankment wall of an overpass for the subway train to travel on across from High Park. This is just east of High Park station. I assume the cream colour block of paint is covering up some graffiti. Hopefully just tagging because graffiti to me is better than blank concrete. Tagging is a from of vandalism that to me is the lowest of the low. Say something, even if it’s stupid. Tagging is just arrogance and self interest. It’s boring and useless. The only thing tagging does is create these swaths of paint that I find interesting.IMG_5505In the Bloor West Village this is part of the facade of the No Frills and what I’m guessing is the back side of a no parking sign.IMG_5514

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Eureka!

Eureka! I took some images I like finally! Thanksgiving weekend has been relatively productive. It did take 7 hours of walking around on Saturday and Sunday, but it feels pretty good. I may actually have enough for a show now in January.

I like this image. So much so that I’d like to use it in the January “Wandering” show at Bau-Xi Photo however there’s a problem. The painting in the background isn’t mine. It’s part of the interior design of this future restaurant in the Burano Condo building at Bay and Grosvenor. The painter’s name is Sandro Martini. I’ve asked him via the contact on his website if it’s OK. I legally have to ask because his image is a big part of my image, it takes up about 1/3 of the frame. I’m not sure he’ll reply, if he doesn’t I think I’ll have to scrap the image, sadly. I do really like this image.

Technically the following image was shot on Friday. I’ve started to head out early and walk part of the 17 km to work so I can shoot. Even if I don’t get anything it’s the effort to shoot everyday. This was taken on Dundas a few blocks before you hit Ossington. I like the dark of the alleyway and how it acts as a natural frame for the square patch containing the greenery and the light.

The shot above was also taken on Bay Street after I shot the Burano picture. This is closer to Bloor. I’ve shot this weird stand-alone structure a few times but it’s windows have always been too dirty to get a good shot. Once upon a time it was a very crappy variety store. It took years but someone has finally figured they could utilize the space so it’s been cleaned up impressively and the windows are actually clear enough to shoot through properly now.

On King Street the area just east of Sherbourne has always been a little rough. This butcher has been there for at least 20 years, and more likely about 50. Although the signs in the window are obviously new. They haven’t faded a bit and printing just wasn’t that good that long ago. Maybe it’s not that old and the owners just have a knack of making it look vintage. I love the white contractor’s van as well. This is also a very popular place to take pics just search images for Seaton Butcher Shop

Behind the Eaton Centre there’s a crazy old church. There’s also a literal rat’s warren of pathways and thoroughfares. There’s even a brick labyrinth surrounded by trees which is nice despite the sketchy people hanging around and smoking on a Saturday at around 8:30 a.m. This wall isn’t part of the church. I’m not quite sure what it belongs to. I liked the way the patchwork bricks play with the changing leaves, the greenery and the architectural arches and curves.

This is one of my favourite interior construction shots to date. The combo of the great green tarp, hose, and covered over graffiti is so organized but random.

I meandered back to an old shooting location. This is a Hydro substation of some sort on Charles just east of church. You can see why they called this style brutalist architecture.

On the Esplanade just west of the St Lawrence Market there are a ton of businesses on top of all the stores and each seems to have multiple entrances like this one. I’m pleased with this shot because of the architectural detail, the almost repulsive colours and the weird angle. I’m typically either 45 degrees from subject or looking at it straight on. This 16 degree thing happens very infrequently and so it feels rather novel.

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Finally more Bay Street. Bay was my saviour location this weekend. If I remember correctly this place was a restaurant. It’s a short little building that stands on it’s own and will be torn down to make way for more condominiums. Through the window I shot this structure which was probably the backdrop for their sales desk. I’ll adjust this image so it’s not quite as distorted as it appears in this shot. I like the bizarre nature of this room in general and the weird chunk of extension cord on the fl

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