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.


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.


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.

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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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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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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