June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015 —Thursday—and this Thursday I felt like relaxed in the morning so left the bicycle and walked to work. At least part way. I made it 11 km of the 17 km journey with camera in hand. I’m happy with the found things along the way. I like these shots. I may not feel that way in a few days.

It’s strange how the thought process can change overnight after being bizarrely consistent for years.

I’ve been thinking about the language of art a lot as well. I’m toying with the term social realism and figuring out how to talk about it in conjunction with a formalist approach to photography and an interests in post painterly abstraction. Then it occurs to me that all this rhetoric is a waste of time. It only make me appear smart and frankly I’m sick of people writing about art. I’m sick of the big words and the smug motivations.

A shot through a window. An old—soon to be extinct—incandescent bulb in an empty shop front on Dupont Street just west of Symington. IMG_4979Further along Dupont, just west of Lansdowne the image below was taken from the street, through the scaffolding of the hoarding/plywood that envelopes the building. Dupont is at my back. This could be a painting. I tried a shallower depth of field. It’s not usually a technique I like, but for a painting could work nicely. IMG_4985St Clair West, I think this is around Christie. It’s definitely before I got to Bathurst. Something tells me this is a very pedestrian photograph. No pun intended. At the time I saw this as a remarkable assemblage of negative and positive space. Now after a few days of looking it might be edging more to the unremarkableIMG_5028Around the same spot on St Clair. A shot looking at the side wall of a temporary patio tent attached to a restaurant. It may be a restaurant that’s gone out of business. I wasn’t focusing on that. I just liked the complexity of the reflection, the landscape and the table and stool focus, and how they get framed by the movie theatre style strips of black at the top and bottom of the frame.IMG_5051Just a little west of Avenue Road this building is a bit too symmetrical for words and this photograph as a result is a bit too clean for my liking. A bit too balanced. It’s interesting though that I’ve begun to look up and the perspective doesn’t get me all wiggly. In the past I’d never take a shot like this unless I could get directly across from the subject to avoid the inevitable foreshortening that occurs when the camera isn’t level.IMG_5062Squares, still obsessed with squares. Frames within frames. This piece would make a convincing painting. If the shapes and colours are simplified it might work. It’s pleasing me now though as a photograph. Signs are bizarre from behind. IMG_5067The predominance of discarded clothing in the city is insane. There are so many thing left or disposed of on any given day. We have a park by our house and every morning there’s some article of clothing just hanging  around by itself with no owner in sight. Again, like the orange square above, this could make an interesting painting if distilled into the shapes and lines that make up it’s crumpled pile.IMG_5071Nearer the end of the trip on Yonge Street just above St Clair this retail frontage has been empty for years but apparently it’s being fixed up. With all my thoughts about painting lately this seemed fortuitous. It may be one of my favourite images of the day. There’s the paint brush for one thing, but the reflection of the sidewalk in the glass aided by the dark coloured carpet of the interior is really interesting as well. Add to that the awesome silver perpendicular that bisect the strip of carpet and the reflection in the glass of the sidewalk. Angles, lines, colour, reflections, it all works for me.IMG_5091 Finally, lens flare that I liked and almost seems planned.IMG_5103

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Vacancy 2

I’m working on the Vacancy photo series. Saturday was pretty successful for me. I got up at 5:30 and went exploring on the bike to St Clair Avenue. I found some stuff I liked so I’m calling this Vacancy 2. I’ll continue to shoot in batches and name them in sequence. I wonder if it’s just me and this series. It’s not very accesible.

I wasn’t inside most of these rooms. I simply take these shots through the glass of the front window or door. I have this complicated and awkward set up with an old tea towel that I have to wrap around the lens where it hits the glass. If I don’t do that I get a reflection of the lens barrel and parts of the street because of the sunlight and the typical construction of double pane glass. One day I’ll get a proper hood built that can attach to the lens and makes things efficient but this works for now.

I’d like to do more black work. A favourite from the work above is the piece that shows a set of partially obstructed windows surrounded by the darkness of the interior space. This uber-contrast is interesting me.

There’s also an image with a checkered floor. I’m a sucker for abandoned chairs in empty rooms, especially when they have checkered floors. I’m off again this first of June to find other forlorn strip of Toronto retail and some new Vacancy subjects. I imagine it will even be more deserted today. I might as well try Queen. It’s been a while since I shot down there. Usually when I venture to a place I haven’t been to for a while there are a ton of new Vacancies. I’m sure Queen street will be no different, however it’s more successful than St.Clair so there tend to be fewer empty places.

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