A Water Fountain Experiment

Stopped by this urban waterfall the other day and thought it looked pretty cool. I’ve seen a number of pictures of this place before so I wanted to try something different than the usual. Captured these two shots, I do like them as they are unique, but in a way it doesn’t show or tell which waterfall this is… that part I’m a little dissapointed in myself. The experiment part came with this second picture, I tried the ol’ HDR technique to see what it would render, personally I think its not to shabby! Might have to try that a few more times to see what I can create!

Sugar Beach Umbrella's!

Had an adventure down to Sugar Beach a couple weeks ago to see the new developments they are putting in the area, and to check out these cool new metal pink umbrealla’s they installed to create a little park environment right in the downtown core. Although the name is someone deceiving, I still wouldn’t recommend swimming at this beach! I was really in a vintage mood the weekend I shot this, so I tried to process it in a classic way!


There is something about tall buildings that I just love! They seem to be engineering marvels or something, it’s amazing that people can build structures this high but I love it! Capturing cityscapes has been a hobby of mine for a while, but I’ve wanted to take it to another level, but finding similar shapes, different angles, and subjects that you don’t see everyday. These two I captured a couple weeks back while walking around and they just happened to catch my eye! One of these days I’ll try and get some night shots of Toronto, it’s been on my list of things to do, and hopefully I can find a good vantage point to do it!

Kensington Portraits

A couple weeks back my friend Kayla asked me to come along on a family shoot with her as a second shooter. I was so excited, I have wanted to get into portraits for a while now, but alas it was not meant to be as the family cancelled their session. Since Kayla and I already had the time booked, we decided to head downtown T.O. and just play around with the camera’s. I had a few things in mind I specifically wanted to capture, like grafitti, some cityline shots, and of course portraits. Kayla was nice enough to step up to the challenge and pose in the gritty alley way of Kensington Market. I absolutely love these shots and think they turned out pretty decent for a first timer!

A Quick Flower Shot

I was down in Kensignton Market and a couple other area’s of Toronto last week and we stumbled upon these unique flowers in the area of King and Yonge. Neither of us had seen such a flower before, to me it looks like a dried out dandelion, but these were like 8 inches around, so I knew it had to be something different. Either way the sun was setting and we both thought it was something we had to get a picture of!

Thanks Paul...

 Well who is Paul? I’ve never mentioned a Paul in any of my posts before, so clearly he’s no friend of mine, but for those who know me well, and know my deeper side, know that I am a huge Beatles fan. I recently purchased a book, which happened to be a biography on Paul, I also bought one for John as well, but let’s be honest we all know Paul was the better Beatle so I decided to read his first! Anyway, as I was reading this book I couldn’t help but realize how similar our personalities are. Paul is a perfectionist in everything he does, songwriting, playing music, or just being an entertainer.  I have been told by some I can be the same way on occasion, when I really put my mind to something I strive for perfection. Problem is perfection is impossible, that is the part that drives me nuts.  But what Paul has taught me through this book, it’s not necessarily about being perfect, it’s all about taking what you are doing and continually making yourself better.  By continually making yourself better, you are perfect.  If you are up to date on your Beatle history this is also what lead to the dimise of the Beatles.  Paul always wanted to improve on his songs and to have them sound perfect, but John was under the influence of Yoko and really didn’t care anymore about how good the music was, they were all about the message.

Now the other thing Paul and I have in common is holding other people to a very high standard.  I have very little patience and so does he.  Paul would have 36 hour marathon studio sessions just to bang out one song because someone wouldn’t hit one note exactly right.  Now, I’m not near this bad, but I think I hold myself to the highest standard.  I am continually looking at my work, criticizing, seeing where to improve, and only showing what I consider to be the best work.
So what the heck does this have to do with photography you are probably asking yourself by now?  Well very little!  But, while reading through the book, Paul mentioned a quote that has been stuck in my head ever since and I think it completely relates. “You don’t have to like something to be inspired by it.”  This really resonated with me, because I dislike much of my work, but I could never figure out why I kept going back to this thing we call photography.  I just needed someone to spell it out in front of me before it registered in my head.
The reason I keep coming back to this beast is because even though I might not like a lot of my work, it inspires me to continually get better and to strive for perfection.  So you say that’s great, now what?  Well that’s what brings me to this set of pictures.  In my previous sets I have went for very vibrant, very saturated looks, and so I decided why not try something different.  Maybe it will be better and maybe it will put me on a path to perfection someday.  So I tried something in a completely different direction, the grungiest, contrastiest, black and whites I could create.  Now are these pictures better than previous?  That’s up for debate, but it did give me one thing more important.  A learning opportunity, and as Paul has taught me that’s what you continually need to be on the right path.

Reflections... The Linseed Oil Factory

Well it was time for some members of the group of 7 to get another urbex fix to satisfy their cravings and hopefully carry them over the winter. We haven’t been able to enter any buildings since Detroit, as Hamilton was a bust, so to be honest I was starting to get the shakes from being in withdrawal. As you may or may not know, I had the privilege of working downtown Toronto for 2 years, and got to ride the GO train into work everyday. The first few weeks were great, meeting new people, getting lots of reading done, even a little homework from time to time! But after awhile the annoying clickety clack of the rails, and the rocking back and forth starts to wear you down. Believe or not, but one of my good seat mates has been doing it for 30 years! I soon got tired of this routine and began my endless hour and ten minute constant stares out the window in both directions, looking for new things to keep me entertained. I luckily found this graffiti laden building in the junction area of Toronto fairly close to Union Station. I spotted it way before I was ever into photography, but yet I was intrigued by it and almost wanted to pay it a visit to see its story.

It stood out like a sore thumb, in a neighbour hood of houses that can’t be more than 5 years old, and beside this beautiful park with a soccer field and an off leash dog area. Yet, I got more and more attracted to this building every time we passed it. One day on the GO train, it would seem as if fate was in my corner, I was reading a photo magazine, when a guy in the quad next to me noticed it and started a conversation. Turns out he is huge into photography, and he even introduced me to this strange concept of going into abandoned buildings just to take pictures! Brian is his name, and he has become a great mentor to me as he has been on pretty near every photo shoot I have done to date. We started chatting nearly everyday on the train, and I think I mentioned how I want to get into the Linseed building nearly everyday. I think after about a year he was getting pretty tired of it!
After we finally got some free time as a group, I arranged for a visit to this building so that we could see what it was all about. Let me tell you, this did not dissapoint at all! I think it will carry my urbex high over for a long time! A building that is 101 years old, is something different in its own right, the architecture, the materials used to build it, and the surroundings were all things that had to be taken in and experienced. To me, it was just nice to visit a part of Toronto history. This building was key to the development of the Junction, as it was one of the first buildings there. Linseed Oil was a key commodity back in the early 1900’s before oil and polymers were developed. Linseed was used in paints, varnishes, and was a weather proofer for canvas. It was truly a unique ingredient, that now is virtually unobtainable now a days.
The building represented some closure for me though. As I no longer take the train to work, except for the odd day here and there. I have lost my ‘seat’ on the train, but still hold onto some great friendships developed over those two years, but this building was the last thing I was holding onto from the GO train that I wanted to derive some benefit from before I moved on. It was a glorious building in side, and I’m so happy I was able to go there with the guys and experience it!

The above photos are my favorites from that day, but I will post some additional photo’s over on my facebook page so you can experience the whole building! You can check them out here and make sure to click the ‘Like’ button at the top of the page to keep up to date!

Hamilton or Bust.... or Bust

Well back near the end of October our photo group, which I have started to call the modern day group of 7!, took a day trip down to Hamilton to try and do the Urbex thing. Urbex is the fancy dancy name for urban exploration which all the cool kids are using these days. There was three buildings we had in mind to enter that day. First the old abandoned Firestone factory… bust. This building looked great on the Internet, until we showed up and realized the City of Hamilton took it over and is now the HQ for their Public Works department. Next was this building called the Lister block… bust number 2! Again this building looked amazing on the Internet, an entire city block that was abandoned. I guess this building was one of the first indoor shopping malls in Canada and was around for years. When we showed up, it was freshly renovated and occupied by stores! Last on the building tour list was the Royal Connaught Hotel… bust number 3! Again another beauty of a building that we seen on the net, but in the midst of renovations when we showed up! Now this is where I get bittersweet. As a photographer and Urbex’er I really wanted to get into these buildings! But on the other hand, as a proud Canadian, it is nice to see that we are converting these buildings and renovating them so we can continue to enjoy them in the future. On our states trip, we didn’t see much of that at all! As Michael Scott would say, why do they even make bittersweet chocolate, who likes that? Why not just have the sweet! Well we can’t always have the sweet, but it was a great trip, and I always learn something new when I’m with those guys. I took a ton of shots, but I am going to post them over on my facebook page for you to enjoy there! Check out my facebook page here and make sure to click the ‘like’ button at the top!

The Final Detroit Post... for this year!

To see the other Packard Automotive posts please follow these links: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3
Well it has come to this, the final post of my Detroit series for 2011. It only took about 5 months but I have made it! From shoot to post did seem to take an exorbitant amount of time, normally I do not let shoots go that long before I finalize them. Detroit however was different.
I really wanted to make the Detroit series stand out. It was the first major photography dedicated trip I had ever been on, it was out of the country, and frankly right out of my element. When we first got our camera I was immediately attracted to capturing the beauty of flowers. They have a certain innocence to them, yet they are so vibrant and full of life. I think what attracts me to them is they replicate the human life in so many ways, where you can see their entire life cycle over the course of one year.
I knew Detroit was going to be different though. I had never really taken pictures of buildings, let alone abandoned buildings. I did very little research prior to the trip, mainly because I wanted to bring my own style, see frames that I wanted to capture. I didn’t want to be spoiled by what was on Flickr or any of those other sites and end up capturing the same images as all the photog’s before me had.
But once we got back from Detroit, I knew photography for me had changed. I had started to see things in a different fashion. I explored with the concept of HDR while in Detroit. Not all of my pictures that used HDR turned out great, but I definitely learned something from it, and know where I want to take it in the future.

People have told me that these photos from Detroit don’t look real. Like some how they are a distorted reality, well we live in a distorted world don’t we? What I felt in these buildings while I was there was a sense of loneliness (well duh, it’s abandonded!) but it’s more than that, really it’s a sense of isolation. When we were inside the Packard building, it was like the rest of the world didn’t exist. I really tried to put that into the pictures and convey a different message.

Making this trip has really defined a sense of style I want to put into my photo’s. Where I go from here is going to be the next step. I need to expand on the style and fine tune each frame to get it to a level that will satisfy my inner craving to keep getting better.
I hope that you enjoyed all my frames from Detroit. It was a trip of a life time and it took just about as long to get the pictures all posted for you to see. We have plans to visit Detroit again next year so this time I will know to do my research before hand!

Outside the Pack

This is the third post in a series of images from the Packard Automotive plant in Detroit.  If you missed the first you can read it here, if you missed the second you can read it here. As I have said in the previous posts, the pack is an amazing sight! The outside is definitely no different. Surprisingly though, I think there is less graffiti on the outside of the building than there is on the inside. Possibly because people are afraid of getting busted tagging, but I highly doubt that’s a valid reason in this area of Detroit. There are a lot of interesting things around the pack. First, and probably the worst, was the office of the Wild Cats Motorcycle Club where a few people were murdered a few months previous in December 2010. Let me tell you how re-assuring that feeling is when we are walking in an empty building right across the street from the Wild Cats where no one would find us for weeks!

Another interesting feature outside the pack is this little rinky-dink two story Motel rightly named the Packard Motel. I Google’d this motel after we got back from Detroit, and surprisingly it has some pretty good reviews. Am I brave enough to spend a night there, heck no! But at least its satisfying to know there is a gem amongst all that decay.
The outside of the building was about the only place where scrappers have yet to take most of the metal off the walls. Some sections of the building are completely made out of steel so it does surprise me that this has still remained. It could be either extremely dangerous to try and chop this all down, or the scrappers just can’t find a way to haul it out of there. I am doubting it has to be that dangerous, because they seemed to have no problem cutting out all the electrical wiring on the inside of the building.
I really enjoyed looking at the outside of this building with all the unique graffiti and what not. It had a completely different feel than what was on the inside. I will leave you with two more pictures and stay tuned for the last series of pictures from the inside of the plant.

The Three Amigo's! err... The Three Army Guys!

Well who would have thought this day would have come!  I can’t believe my big brother got married, but I could not be more proud of him!  He met an absolutely beautiful bride as well, Lindsay looked great that day.  I was asked to shoot some of the formal pictures of my brother and the two groomsmen prior to the wedding starting.  It was a bit nerve racking as this is my brother, who threatens to beat me on a daily basis, and it was basically the first wedding where I have done any sort of “professional” pictures.  On the other hand I was very excited to do these shots!  These guys were very easy going and we had a lot of laughs going between locations.  My brother absolutely loves fishing, so we had to go down to the harbour to do some fishing and calm the nerves a bit, although it was a bit awkward walking along the pier in tuxedos and fishing poles having everyone looking at us like we are crazy!  Another great thing about these guys is that they do our country a great service and have all been over to Afganistan to protect us.  I really wanted to incorporate their roots together and I knew the perfect place to do it, the Huron County Museum, which has a tank on the side lawn.  All in all these guys were great to work with and I am happy with the way the pictures turned out, so hopefully Cory won’t beat me!  Here are a few of my favorite shots.

Vehicles of the Pack

The name Packard for most people will bring up images of classic vehicles that maybe they drove when they were younger, or maybe their father or grandfather had drove at one point. Back in the day the Packard was class, they were the middle class luxury car of the period. My family has been involved with cars, for what feels like ever since they were invented. I’ve never had the chance to have a ride in a Packard, but hearing that name brings up childhood memories of the stories my grandfather used to tell me. When my buddy Brian approached me a while back about a trip to Detroit that Packard plant was a must visit location. This place is absolutely ginormous. Its over 40 acres of just abandonment, still owned by Ford and no plans for any development. From what I have heard there is so much environmental issues with the soil, its cheaper for Ford to let the land sit as is than to redevelop it.
The Packard plant was our last stop of the day, and after seeing the first buildings I knew the scrappers would have already had a hay-day with this location, since it’s been abandoned for like 40 years. I was hoping to see an old car left over from the days of production, but wasn’t giving my hopes up! What I didn’t expect to see was a ton of other types of vehicles that were left in the building.
How these vehicles got here is way beyond me! I know there is a ramp that was used during the production process at one point to move the cars up to different levels, but it had a hole through the cement about 10 feet across so there was no way a vehicle could get past that point. The types of vehicles present in the building was the other thing that blew my mind. As you can see there was a boat, there was a few other boats, but I wasn’t able to get a good shot of those, there was a delivery truck and also a flatbed truck. Now this is just what we seen in the small section of the building we covered, who knows what else exists in there!
Now I have to admit, once I seen these vehicles that were left behind, I fell in love with them. They were so eclectic, and had such great colors from various graffiti artists. The flat bed truck was used as a paintball target, so it was basically covered in green and blue paint. The delivery truck on the other hand looks like it has seen better days. It certainly looks like it has been there for some time as it has been rusted out to no end. We ended up doing a group shot inside the delivery truck, so I decided to walk into the back cabin part of it, I don’t even want to describe what that looked like!
Being in this building was pretty magical! I have a ton more photo’s to share which will be coming up over the next couple weeks, but for now I will just share one more unedited shot of a couple photog’s I was with during the day.
Hope you enjoy!