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Pics & Prose

Decisions, Decisions

An elderly woman enters a church door

If you  ever won­der why it takes so long to pro­cess my pho­tos, here’s a great example why.

Aside from the volume of pho­tos taken on a trip, let me first reit­er­ate the biggest reason for the delay: I shoot in a RAW format. As such, each photo is com­pletely unaltered, unlike a photo you would take in auto­matic mode or with a mobile phone. You see, unless you shoot RAW, the cam­era applies vari­ous adjust­ments in the back­ground to make the photo look nicer–a tweak of the con­trast, sat­ur­at­ing the col­our and sharpen­ing the image–all done without your con­trol. I prefer to handle these tweaks myself, once I down­load the pho­tos to my com­puter. This gives me greater con­trol over the image but at the cost of time.

As an example, I’ll often under or over­ex­pose a shot to get more detail which I can bring back in post-processing, such as with the photo above. When I saw this lady walk­ing toward the church door—down a tiny side street in Bayeux, Normandy—my inten­tion was that it would make a won­der­ful black and white photo. And it does. There’s great tone in the shad­ows and won­der­ful detail on the church wall. What I didn’t notice at the time was the qual­ity of the light which, in turn, com­ple­ments the reds of the wooden door. Even the shad­ows have great warmth to it.

So which photo do I prefer? Well, the black and white does make it look as if it could have been taken 50 years ago, and that’s pretty cool. But, the warmth of the col­our photo alone is enough to win me over.

Of course, I’ll keep both. Because I can.

Intent

Two gentlemen sitting at a café in Paris

 

On the off chance you ever wondered, this is the kind of shot that excites me.

Sim­ple, beau­ti­ful, street pho­to­graphy.

It may not be your cup of tea but those cof­fee cups, cigar­ettes and keys on the table, the tone in the man’s shoe, the ped­es­tri­ans and blurred bike in the back­ground plus the crisp­ness of his shirt…del­ish.

Bike Date

A cyclist rides down Ossington AvenueSat­urday saw some­thing that hasn’t happened in a long time: a bike date. There are a few reas­ons for this. For one, we’re only now tak­ing the time to go off to do our own thing, able to leave the kids behind to enter­tain them­selves. Addi­tion­ally, Jen­nifer has never been quite com­fort­able bik­ing in the city. And with good reason; cyc­lists aren’t always wel­comed on the roads. How­ever, this situ­ation has been improv­ing as City coun­cil adds more bike lines to vari­ous thor­ough­fares and motor­ists learn to adjust their beha­vi­our and make space.

Two factors con­trib­uted to Saturday’s trip. First, I wanted to visit the Vivian Maier exhib­i­tion “Mean­ing Without Con­text” at the Stephen Bul­ger Gal­lery. Secondly, I’ve been on a bit of a fit­ness push, look­ing to cycle more (in addi­tion to more walk­ing and run­ning). At only 4 kilo­metres from home, this out­ing seemed like a good jaunt for Jen­nifer, so we moun­ted our bikes and trekked along Dun­das to Oss­ing­ton, then down Queen Street.

The exhib­i­tion itself was small, fea­tur­ing only 40 of Maier’s pho­tos from Bulger’s col­lec­tion. Still, it was nice to see the images on a wall, in their proper set­ting, instead of on a com­puter screen. It was also inspir­a­tional, boost­ing my con­fid­ence and will to push my own street pho­to­graphy. We then took the oppor­tun­ity to walk up and down Oss­ing­ton Avenue, check­ing out some funky shops and stop­ping at Bang Bang Ice Cream for a tasty treat. Hop­ping back on our bikes, we chose Dun­das to Ron­ces­valles as our route home for another four K.

This won­der­ful date was capped off later in the day with a fam­ily out­ing to BMO Field to watch Toronto FC soundly beat the New England Revolu­tion. We had traded tick­ets with our “seat neigh­bours,” giv­ing us the oppor­tun­ity to take in a match as a fam­ily. Every­one enjoyed the elec­tric atmo­sphere, made all the more spe­cial by the Reds’ con­tin­ued win­ning streak and bois­ter­ous sup­port­ers sec­tions. The two instances of the “slow clap” were both thun­der­ous and fun.

Muskokaed

A mix of photos from our weekend in MuskokaRight, the blog.

Apo­lo­gies for the lack of post­ing. In all hon­esty, we’ve been so busy with soc­cer and other less-than-interesting “life moments” that it’s been dif­fi­cult to find the time to write. What little time I do have on the com­puter at night has been spent work­ing through the pho­tos from out trip and I’ve still barely made any head­way. We did man­age to get away for the week­end, head­ing up north to Muskoka, to stay with our friends’ Effi and Larry.

We took advant­age of the warm weather to enjoy a fair bit of swim­ming and both kids took a fancy to stand-up paddle boards (Mat­thew in par­tic­u­lar). On Sunday, we drove up around Lake Rosseau and stopped at a short trail that lead to a beau­ti­ful water­fall. The Lad, always eager to do what Larry does, walked under the water­fall, chilled but exhil­ar­ated. As always, the week­end saw much food, drink and laughter and, as always, the week­end flew by. We capped off the even­ing with an uproari­ous game of Taboo in which you have to get your team to guess a word given to you, without using any of the “taboo” words lis­ted. It’s not as easy as you might think.

Today, we headed home mid-morning, slowed by long week­end traf­fic near Bar­rie before the 4o0 opened up a bit. We then spent the day catch­ing up with laun­dry, gro­cer­ies and those things you need to get done before you head back to work. And that’s it!

Avoiding the Darkroom

A father and his daughter walk in the middle of the streetMud­dling through the 2nd day of the trip.

Sadly, I’m not quite as com­mit­ted to post pro­cessing as I’d hoped, so the devel­op­ing is tak­ing longer than expec­ted.

I’ll blame the jet lag. Yes, still.

How­ever, I am find­ing some gems. Here’s one of my favour­ites, taken in Mont­martre. While the rest of the group toddled off to visit a shop, I waited for this father and daugh­ter to make their way up the middle 0f the street.

I think the wait was worth it.

And Now, the News from London

Mix of Family Pictures | captured between July 10-12, 2016Good­ness me, these past few days have been a nearly non-stop whirl­wind. And as is com­mon when trav­el­ling, the days are blend­ing and mix­ing together. What I thought happened yes­ter­day was actu­ally this morn­ing or vice versa. The only thing keep­ing me on the straight and nar­row are the pho­tos, which I’ve had little time to get to, but do offer an indis­put­able chro­no­logy of events.

So, after look­ing at the pho­tos, what have we done?

Our trip in England began with meet­ing David–Jennifer’s uncle–at St. Pan­cras sta­tion. We made our way via tube and bus to his home in Rich­mond, next to Twick­en­ham. David was kind enough to pre­pare din­ner for us and we spent the even­ing chat­ting and catch­ing up.

On Sunday, Jen­nifer and I picked up Oyster cards (much like our Presto card) which we could top up for the dur­a­tion of our stay. We bought the kids daily Travel­Cards, then made our way back to Lon­don to meet with Kelly and Gareth, old friends we hadn’t seen since they last vis­ited Toronto in 2002. We caught up and enjoyed lunch at the Punch and Judy pub in Cov­ent Garden before say­ing our good­byes and mov­ing on to Neal’s Yard, nearby.

Our next stop was Abbey Road, but the sta­tion, not the actual road. Luck­ily, we were told which sta­tion to go to which, as luck would have it, on the com­plete oppos­ite side of town. To be hon­est, I was quite con­fused when I noticed we were head­ing the the South­east part of town, know­ing full well that Abbey Road is in the North­west part of town. Listen to you instincts, kids! In the end, we made it to St John’s Wood sta­tion, walk­ing down Grove End Road to Abbey Road where Mar­ina had to wait some time for the traf­fic to break and the line to thin out. I wasn’t able to get a shot of her alone as there were too many other pic­ture seekers, but hey, all of us did strut across the world’s most fam­ous zebra cross­ing. Even cooler, mind you, was see­ing Abbey Road Stu­dios nearby. Mar­ina even signed the wall.

Next, we hopped back on the tube, dis­em­bark­ing at West­min­ster Sta­tion and hop­ing to walk through the Abbey. But being the hea­thens that we are, we didn’t real­ize that West­min­ster Abbey is closed on Sundays. Still, we took the oppor­tun­ity to walk around the beau­ti­ful build­ing also spy­ing Big Ben, the Houses of Par­lia­ment and mean­der­ing along St. James’s Park which was quite beau­ti­ful. We even­tu­ally settled in Tra­fal­gar Square where Mat­thew was impressed by the size of Nelson’s column. We stopped in front of Canada House to snap a photo and then crossed over to St. Martin-in-the-Fields, walk­ing down to the crypt which they’ve now con­ver­ted to a café. We decided to take a break to enjoy some snacks–scones, clot­ted cream and jam for the par­ents, cake for the Girl and a tart for the Lad.

We ended the day watch­ing the final Euro match with David which was, for me, a bit dis­ap­point­ing con­sid­er­ing France played a bet­ter game than Por­tugal but, such is the nature of sport. And so ended our first full day in England.

On Monday, we made our into Rich­mond along a tow path which is where horses used to pull barges along the Thames. Des­pite the over­cast skies and threats of rain, the walk was won­der­fully pleas­ant as we trekked by the Marble Hill House, cross­ing the Rich­mond Bridge and stop­ping at Water­stones, one of my favour­ite book­stores. Jen­nifer picked up the latest Sebastian Faulks novel and Mat­thew found me a Pen­guin Clas­sics Deluxe reprint­ing of Bram Stoker’s Drac­ula which fea­tures ori­ginal art­work from the 1897 book.

After stop­ping for a cof­fee and some snacks along the way, we arrived at Rich­mond Sta­tion, nav­ig­at­ing to Water­loo Sta­tion where we picked up some deli­cious sand­wiches at a Marks & Spen­cer Express Mar­ket; are you noti­cing the food motif? We walked the few blocks to the foot of the Lon­don Eye to meet David before board­ing an MBNA Thames clip­per which is essen­tially a water bus that the loc­als use to get around via the Thames River. Our jour­ney took us from the Lon­don Eye to Green­wich passing by St. Paul’s Cathed­ral, Lon­don Tower, Canary Wharf and a host of other inter­est­ing land­marks includ­ing the Shard, Walkie Talkie, Chee­seg­rater and the Gherkin (all names of build­ings).

After dis­em­bark­ing, we meandered around Green­wich for a bit, strolling by the Cutty Sark and zip­ping in and out of nearby shops. We dawdled through the Old Royal Naval Col­lege before board­ing the water bus back to Water­loo pier after which we quickly zipped through the Fast-Track line for the Lon­don Eye which David gra­ciously bought tick­ets for.

The Eye is a giant Fer­ris wheel (135 metres/443 feet high) with each rota­tion last­ing about 30 minutes. You board an ovoidal cap­sule (as it’s mov­ing) and up you go. Each pod holds about a dozen people, so it’s not too crowded and you’re able to walk around to snap pho­tos of dif­fer­ent views. I was a little wor­ried that Mar­ina would be nervous, but she enjoyed the ride as much as any­one else. Mat­thew stayed close to David, ask­ing ques­tions about which build­ing was which. Both Jen­nifer and I were sur­prised how enjoy­able the adven­ture was; it was smooth, serene and the views were quite magical.

Fol­low­ing our sol­it­ary loop around the Lon­don Eye, we walked along the South Bank, stop­ping for a snack and drinks before hop­ping a South West train to Rich­mond. One of the most won­der­ful aspects of Lon­don transit is being able to board buses, the tube and even local and regional trains. After relax­ing at David’s for some time, we took off again and he showed us around the York House Gar­dens grounds and the nar­row, gor­geous streets of Twick­en­ham. We stopped at Bên Thành for a scrump­tious din­ner fea­tur­ing Indian/Nepalese/Tibetan fusion food.

On Tues­day morn­ing, our last full day in Lon­don, we took the train back to Water­loo after retra­cing our steps of the night before (through the park and nar­row streets) and stop­ping at Gregg’s for some jam donuts. Once in Lon­don, we hopped a double-decker bus, the 139, up to Oxford Cir­cus where we dis­em­barked. Our first stop was pick­ing up an umbrella as the rain was tip­ping down. We then vis­ited a few shops, includ­ing some sports stores where we bought Mat­thew a black Liv­er­pool FC jer­sey for the 2017 sea­son.

We decided to toddle over to Carn­aby Street as it was so close by. Neither Jen­nifer nor I recall it being so upmar­ket, but fancy it is. Still, we were all very hungry and the rain was per­sist­ing, so we settled for lunch at Carn­aby Bur­ger which was quite good, if not a little pricey. After­wards, we ven­tured back to Pic­ca­dilly Cir­cus before board­ing the tube to King’s Cross Sta­tion. To Marina’s sur­prise, we queued up for a photo opp at plat­form 9 and 3/4, made fam­ous by the Harry Pot­ter nov­els and right next to the Plat­form store which fea­tures wands, Marauder’s maps, Ber­tie Botts of any fla­vour and every other con­ceiv­able tie-in pro­duct ima­gin­able. Need­less to say, the Wee-One was quite excited.

And with this, we ended our day in Lon­don. While I fin­ish writ­ing this, the oth­ers are relax­ing. Then, some din­ner fol­lowed by the dreaded pack­ing. Tomor­row, I’m sure, will be a long day of trav­el­ling.