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Sketches of Bloor West Village, Toronto

This post is intended to demonstrate examples of another Photoshop technique that I am experimenting with. I have used filters to transform a photograph into a charcoal sketch, and then re-introduced some colours from the original photo.

I live in Toronto near the Bloor West Village. The “village” is a linear segment of Bloor Street West which is full of small shops and businesses, extending between the Runnymede and Jane subway stops. The storefronts are quite uniform, basically a series of two-storey attached buildings, constructed in the first half of the 20th Century. Redevelopment projects have not affected the commercial streetfront yet, although there are several mid-rise development proposals under review. The City of Toronto is currently undertaking an avenue study with a public consultation process, which will be completed in 2018. The City wants to encourage higher density development along existing subway lines, but this will radically change the existing streetscape.

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Baka gallery and cafe

Green grocers are great locations to shoot, as the fresh produce spills out the front door onto the street. Some shoppers stop to view or select the fresh fruit and vegetables, while others try to find their way past all of the obstacles. Most of these images were made on a day when Bloor Street was closed to traffic for a community event – hence the abundance of pedestrians and the absence of cars parked beside the curbs. It also meant that I didn’t have to dodge any cars while standing in the middle of the street!

One of these green grocers just closed this winter – another example of why you need to shoot now rather than wait for another opportunity. It may never be the same when you return.

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green grocer no. 1
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green grocer no. 2
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green grocer no. 3
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Thursday’s Special – Traces of the Past Y4-01

I have been working on some images from a walking holiday along the Scottish Borders almost three years ago. By coincidence, these tie in nicely with this week’s Lost in Translation theme of Traces of the Past.

Paula Borkovic posted an image of Melrose Abbey in Scotland. Just downstream along the River Tweed lies Dryburgh Abbey. The abbey is located in a secluded area and is somewhat off the beaten track.

Dryburgh Abbey was founded in 1150 and it was occupied for over 400 years.  It was established by a group of canons from Alnwick Priory in Northumberland, and became the mother house of the Premonstratensian order in Scotland[also known as the Norbertines or the White Canons elsewhere]. The abbey was closed following the Scottish Reformation, and the site remained abandoned until it was purchased in 1780 and converted into a landscape garden. The novelist Sir Walter Scott was buried here in 1832. Parts of the abbey are well preserved, and the daffodils are plentiful in the spring.

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Dryburgh Abbey, Scotland

Further to the south lies Jedburgh Abbey, which is in the centre of Jedburgh and located along the Jed Water. The abbey was founded by a group of French Augustinian canons at about the same time as Dryburgh Abbey. It was established in a prominent location in order to be close to the local king’s palace. This abbey also fell out of use after the Scottish Reformation of 1560, and it was partially dismantled for other purposes. A significant portion of the abbey church remains and is the most visible feature today.

I have been experimenting with the use of textures and other techniques in Photoshop to create a vintage look for these images. I hope that you enjoy them.

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Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland
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Experimental Impressionism

I have decided to start on some new directions in my photography for the coming year. To be more precise, perhaps, I am experimenting with different image processing techniques using Photoshop as my primary editing tool.

Today’s image is an attempt at some photographic impressionism, using some of the blur tools in Photoshop. The subject is a narrow laneway in a town somewhere in southern France (likley Arles). The sun was still high enough in the sky to brightly illuminate the buildings in the alleyway, so I wanted to retain some of this brightness, while introducing some mystery and darkness to the outer edges of the image. The vertical blur reflects the direction of the sunlight from ablove. The archway leading into the alley provides a strong frame around the brighter centre.

I have been following other photographers in WordPress, Flickr and Instagram, and I sometimes find inspiration from their style and techniques. When appropriate, I am quite willing to acknowledge the source of my inspiration. For this particular image, I was influenced by the work of Olga Karlovac.

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French alleyway
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Thursday’s Special – Darkness and Light

There is no more iconic location to celebrate the winter solstice than at Stonehenge in southern England. This is my contribution to Paula’s Lost in Translation Thursday’s Special for the week of December 21, 2017.

Although this photo was not shot in December, it was taken at sunrise. The special effects were mostly accidental – while experimenting with a variable ND filter – which resulted in the red flaring. The blue hue was accentuated using a DXO filter preset. The overall impression – mysterious.

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Darkness and light at sunrise
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Graffiti Doors

I have three images of graffiti doors to contribute to Norm’s Thursday Doors challenge this week.

The first image – Melbourne Jan 2014 – is a good example of “high” street art. Melbourne, Australia is a great location for scouting graffiti as an art form in various laneways. The graphic quality; the bright, neon colours; and the sophistication of this composition all contribute to the pleasure of the visual experience. The image is dated January, 2014, as graffiti in its nature is temporal, and this door may be completely different today.

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Melbourne Jan 2014

Message Delivered is at the opposite end of the graffiti spectrum. Hard to discern any form of art on this Toronto garage door – just a written message. It seemed to be effective though – there were no cars parked in front of the door.

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Message Delivered

Blues and Greens lies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Someone has painted this facade with some swirling blues and greens, and a few tags have been applied in response. Definitely on the grungy side.

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Blues and Greens
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Thursday’s Special – Traces of the Past Y3-10

This is my second “Traces of the Past” post in response to Paula’s Lost in Translation challenge for this week.

This week’s special is a photo challenge in colour (my previous submission for Traces of the Past was in black and white). I have been experimenting with combining colour and monochrome in a single image, so I thought that this would be a good opportunity to post an image and request some feedback.

Holy Island (also known as Lindisfarne) is an historic site, located in Northumbria on the north-east coast of England. It’s historic significance dates back to Anglo-Saxon and Medieval times, and there are two prominent ruins on the island – Lindisfarne Castle and Lindisfarne Priory.

My image of Lindisfarne Castle – viewed from a bay near the priory ruins – uses colour to depict the present, and monochrome to depict the past. The colour portion is rectangular, and provides a window into the present from the past. There is also the juxtaposition of an old boat in the foreground with some newer boats in the harbour. Please let me know what you think about the presentation.

We are planning to return to Holy Island next summer to participate in an archaeological dig near the priory. More opportunities for some historical images and a chance to get my hands dirty while searching for more traces of the past …

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Lindisfarne Castle, Northumbria, England
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Doors Open at 6:30 pm …

This past Monday, November 6, 2017, I had the privilege to attend the Tower of Song: A Memorial Trubute to Leonard Cohen. The doors to the Bell Centre, downtown Montreal, opened shortly after 6:30 pm, and the rest, as they say, was history.

The tribute was organized by Adam Cohen, his family and friends, to celebrate the life of Adam’s father, Leonard Cohen. The late Leonard Cohen passed away a year ago, on November 7, 2016. He was born and raised in Montreal, and became a well known poet, song writer and musician.

The overall experience was magical and overwhelming, listening to more than 20 renditions of Leonard Cohen’s music by various artists, who volunteered their time to participate. My most favourite songs of all were k.d. lang’s rendition of “Hallelujah,” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Damien Rice. My partner and I had seen Leonard Cohen and Damien Rice in a concert together in Dublin in 2008, and this brought back many fond memories of that overseas trip.

Also worth mentioning were performances by Sharon Robinson, who sang “I’m Your Man,” and provided background vocals with the Webb sisters for much of the concert; Patrick Watson, a local singer who I had not been aware of; and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, who performed the background vocals for “You Want it Darker.”

Leonard Cohen penned many poems and song lyrics, so I will leave the last words to Leonard (and his co-writer):

I’ll try to say a little more:
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door –
Then Love Itself
Love Itself was gone.”

chorus to “Love Itself,” written by Sharon Robinson and Leonard Cohen

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tower of song
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Autumn Doors

It’s that time of year again – the leaves have started to turn from green to brilliant red, orange and yellow hues – and Hallowe’en is a few days away.

This series of autumnal doors is my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for this week.

I got a head start on the first two of these images – they were taken in Australia this past April. Bowral, New South Wales – located in the Southern Highlands – is at a high enough elevation to have cool winters and frosty nights, and has many deciduous trees.

The third image was shot in Toronto. I think that Hallowe’en is celebrated in an “orderly” manner in this household.

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family sized doorway
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framed in red
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ready for Hallowe’en
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Garage Doors – Series 2

It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted any images on my blog, so I thought that I would take a moment to reflect on my previous “Door” posts. My first post on doors was in January 2017, when I displayed images of some doors from travels in England and Ireland. Over the ensuing eight months, I posted another 12 sets of door images – making doors my most common theme over the year.

I have received more views and likes of my door images than for any other theme. No doubt, this success was due to my participation in Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors group. Thank you Norm for all of your work, and thank you to all the other door lovers out there.

My earlier door posts featured images from other parts of the world. Having depleted much of my foreign collection of doors, my posts have become more localized, focused closer to home in Toronto. The subject matter has become more mundane, but I am still trying to find something unique in an otherwise ordinary scene.

When I posted my first series of doors from the UK and Ireland, I had not anticipated that they would become part of a series. The same can be said for my more recent post on Garage Doors. But here I am, posting some more garage doors – all located within walking distance from my home.

Here is this week’s contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors weekly feature.

I am more attracted by the brick rather than the doors in brick garage. The colour and the texture of the bricks, and the fragility of the structure are most notable. The driveway ramp no longer slopes up to the doors, so one wonders what is stored behind these doors now?

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brick garage

In semi-symmetry, the near-perfect symmetry of the two halves of this semi-detached residence drew my attention. The wrought iron handrails and balconies are identical, while the colour of the garage doors provides some individuality to each side. My guess – the purple door is not original.

I always used to refer to these types of residences as duplexes. However, I have since learned that, in a semi-detached home, the two residences are side-by-side and share one common wall. In a duplex, the two residences are one atop the other. They both have separate exterior entrances.

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semi-symmetry

I will admit that the thing that attracted me initially was the green door in infill. It was only later that I recognized that there is an infill panel where a garage door used to be. The garage door has been replaced with a man-door and HVAC equipment – and there is more space for storing the ubiquitous blue wheelies.

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infill