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Benched

Nikon D800, 70mm, 1/1600 sec., f/5.0, ISO 250

Nikon D800, 70mm, 1/1600 sec., f/5.0, ISO 250

Why did I take this photo?

This bench is what attracted me in the first place. It was all by its lonesome amongst the dirty ground that it stuck out and caught my attention. I could have easily just taken a photo of this bench and called it a day but somehow I wanted to make it more interesting.

I walked around for a bit to see if I could find a better point of view until I found this view. I ducked down a little to get the shot that I envisioned. This was perfect as it set the Toronto skyline in the backdrop right above the bench. This gave the photo a reference as to where I was at the time I took this. I also liked this position as the trees on either side of the bench made for a nice “frame” for the photo, opening up right in the middle where the CN Tower is.

I also made this a portrait orientation so I didn’t crop too much of the tall trees. I felt this gave the bench some contrast in terms of height, allowing us to see how little this bench really is.

It’s cold outside in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore the city. Get out and go shooting!

Upside down iPhoneography

Nikon D800, 24mm, 1/20sec., f/3.5, ISO 800

Nikon D800, 24mm, 1/20sec., f/3.5, ISO 800

I was taking pictures with my iPhone 5s one evening when I noticed something funny. After tapping on the native camera icon, the camera app appeared upside down! The shutter button and even the live viewfinder was upside down. Even stranger was that if I flipped my phone upside down, the camera app would rotate upside down as well, thinking it needed to correct its orientation.

It was a neat effect, but the novelty wore off quite quickly as this made things a bit difficult since I couldn’t press the shutter button with my thumb anymore. I closed the app and restarted it to find the camera back right side up again.

It left me wondering if I found an easter egg or something, but it hasn’t happened again so it just must have been my lucky evening.

 

Going for a walk

Capturing the sun with my iPhone 5s.

Capturing the sun with my iPhone 5s.

If you’re ever in a creative photography block and want some inspiration, a great place for a walk is the University of Toronto campus in downtown Toronto. During the summer of last year, I had a chance to explore the campus and found some great places to just sit and relax, or to take in some great perspectives to satisfy the creativity in me.

Some parts of the campus have already been heavily photographed, while others have yet to be discovered and are just calling for its time in front of the lens. Just be sure to not walk into the middle of a lecture!

While I would normally cringe at the thought of going back to school, this is one reason I’d be happy to go back.

The glow of the sun coming in from the left window really caught my eye here, and that is what I wanted to focus on in this picture. I loved how it cast a bright area on to the pillar on the right, and on to the pews. Chasing light is a fun way to challenge your creativity, allowing you to play with the light and shadows to create an unlimited amount of possibilities.

Snow from all directions

iPhone 5s photo edited in Mextures and VSCOcam.

iPhone 5s photo edited in Mextures and VSCOcam.

Some say photographers are crazy for going all out in taking their shots. But truthfully, if you don’t go to places where others don’t normally go to, you wouldn’t be able to get that extra special shot that you’re always after.

Winter typically gets in the way of people being able to enjoy the outdoors. However, that shouldn’t change us photographers in going out there during the worst snow storms possible to get photos of snow coming down horizontally!

I have no idea what this winter will bring us, but I am quite curious as to what I will capture. Perhaps people will think I’m crazy for going out, especially when I don’t even have a proper winter jacket yet. That always makes a difference, doesn’t it?!

Soldier in the field

Nikon D800, 24mm, 1/200 sec., f/4.5, ISO 400

Nikon D800, 24mm, 1/200 sec., f/4.5, ISO 400

The summertime in Toronto offers an abundance of events to partake in. Last summer, I happen to come across the war of 1812 reenactment at the Historic Grounds of Fort York. Amongst all the shootings and parading of soldiers, I caught a moment from the announcer of the evening. Perhaps he was reflecting at what was in front of him, or maybe he was waiting for his cue to speak again. It was just one of those moments that caught my eye.

The sun was just setting at that moment as well, giving a beautiful pink-blue hue to the evening clouds, giving off some fantastic lighting for photography.

Three weeks from now…

Nikon D800, 48mm, 1/25 sec., f/6.3, ISO 800

Nikon D800, 48mm, 1/25 sec., f/6.3, ISO 800

Three weeks from now, last year, the weather was like this. With a brutal snow storm, I was a little crazy to voluntarily go outside just for the sake of taking photos of the snow storm. Truth be told, the weather wasn’t that bad when I left my house. But as soon as I arrived at Humber College, the dark clouds rolled in and the snow started falling fiercely. It was almost so bad I didn’t even know why I stayed.

But if you think about it, if I didn’t stay, I wouldn’t have posted this photo today so in hindsight, it was a good thing I stayed.

Three weeks from now, January 2015 can very well be like this too. Are you ready for winter?!

Taku’s iPhoneography Christmas Adventure in Toronto

I had a couple of hours to spare one day after work so I took to the streets of Toronto to find some Christmas spirit. Only, this time, I went underground to the Path.

The Path, for those of you who are new to Toronto, is an underground “maze” of shops and restaurants catering to the busy people of the downtown Toronto core. Stretching from Union Station all the way up North to the Atrium on Yonge and Dundas, it’s an adventure at every turn.

I didn’t know what I would find, so finding all that I did really took me by surprise. It also brought up the thought that so many of these Christmas trees and decorations go unnoticed because they are underground and only those who know about it, can ever appreciate it.

My little adventure in the Path really brought out the Christmas spirit of the city and I hope you will find this through my photos that I took and edited solely with my iPhone 6 Plus. I posted some of the square version of these photos on my Instagram account, so I present to you the iPhoneography uncropped versions here on my blog, along with some of my through process in taking and editing these photos.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

My iPhoneography adventure started when I encountered this brightly lit area with decorations strung along the pillars. Very little was done with this photo except for a little bit of clarity, opening up the shadows and increasing the overall exposure in Instaflash Pro. I then processed it in VSCOcam with the LV01 preset for that slight golden glow and faded look that everybody seems to like now-a-days.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

This tree inside the Bay-Wellington Centre was a pleasant surprise as I sort of “snuck up” beside this tree by coming through an alternative entrance to the building. Normally I find the security in this building quite strict in that they frown upon people taking photos inside their building, but I managed to sneak a shot of this beautiful tree peaking out at the end of the elevator hallway.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

This beautiful tree shone brightly in the sparse white room with extra shiny floors. It was quite majestic seeing this for the first time. I increased exposure and brightness slightly, while giving the green in the tree a little boost, all within Instaflash Pro before finally processing it with the LV01 preset in VSCOcam for that faded look.

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

This tree was also quite grand, standing by itself, albeit the security desk was sitting right beside this one. I tried to capture the patterns on the floor to lead up to the tree in the backdrop (leading lines). The original white balance was quite yellow, so I had to turn down the yellow a bit while trying to keep the green of the tree. White and colour balance were done in Instaflash Pro with final processing in VSCOcam (K2 preset to add a little more richness to the colours).

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

I did on occasion step out of the Path to get some fresh air. In doing so, I had the liberty of wandering around in any direction, which eventually led me to this. Funny enough, that Christmas tree you see in the background is the same tree as the one shown before this photo. I had taken this shot quite a while afterwards, which only means I walked all around the area aboveground only to come back to where I was underground a while back! I loved the white glow that the trees gave on the bench and ground, in addition to the yellow-green glow coming from the building. My thought process in taking this photo was to have the white trees on the right lead the eye to the Christmas tree in the back.

Holiday Point

Processed with VSCOcam with the k2 preset (+10)

This was a really fun tree to shoot. The surrounding area was quite dark, and there were couches lined up all around the tree. This made it difficult for me to shoot the tree in its entirety, especially when there were little kids resting and playing on their iPads. To avoid getting anybody in my frame, I focused my shots on the details of this tree, which is what made it so interesting in the first place. I loved the winding “ribbon” that wrapped the tree, along with the many balls and LED lights within it. I increased the overall saturation to bring out the golden yellow glow in addition to increasing the vibrancy as well. A little boost in sharpness and clarity to give focus to the intricacies of the tree allows you to get a sense of how busy this tree really is.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

I can’t go on talking about how wonderful the details of the tree was, without actually taking a picture of the details, can I?! I stuck my hand within one of the cracks and captured the reflection of the lights above, shining brightly on the balls below. It’s not evident on first sight, but the placement of my iPhone is very important here. Shooting too low will only yield a view of the side of the balls, and shooting too high will barely get the balls into the frame. I placed my iPhone so that I could just get the tops of all the balls lined along the bottom of the tree, but still making sure to get the reflection in the frame as well.

In editing this photo, I brought out the orange glow by increasing saturation and vibrancy overall, and within just the yellow and orange colours, all within Instaflash Pro. The LV01 preset in VSCOcam was used so I could get a little bit of that muted look.

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

Brookfield Place in Toronto is a great place for iPhoneography. I’ve seen so many photos of the arches within it that I wanted to do something different. The fountain at the end of the building really makes its mark in this long exposure photography that I made with the Slow Shutter Cam app. The blue lights shining in the background really contrasts well with the orange and brown of the decorations hanging above the fountain. In editing this photo, keeping the chrome a neutral colour while showing the blue and orange was key. I also boosted the green a little so that it was not hiding in the shadows—all done in Instaflash Pro. The K2 preset in VSCOcam was used to give each colour a richer feeling, while providing a little faded goodness to the image.

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

For those that wanted to see the decorations in its entirety, I took this photo looking straight up from the base of the fountain. I loved how this angle gave this hanging decoration a completely different feel to it.

Brookfield Place

Processed with VSCOcam with the LV01 preset.

Stepping outside of Brookfield Place and looking back, I caught this view which I find quite striking. It’s a refreshing take on the building and with the festive lights lighting up the pillars, it really made the photo. If you’re wondering why I framed this photo (and some of the earlier ones above) with so much empty space on the bottom of the photo, there’s a good reason for this: 1) I knew I would be cropping this photo to a square format for Instagram, and 2) In order to keep my vertical lines vertical—which is important for architecture photography/iPhoneography—I had to raise my iPhone up high above my head to prevent distorting vertical lines. By doing this, I was able to minimize the perspective distortion that is often produced when people tilt their cameras up to fit entire buildings.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Finally, a visit to Brookfield Place wouldn’t be complete without appreciating the tree decorations outside of the building! This place is not new to me as I’ve taken photos here before, but I especially liked it with all the lights on that evening. The soft purple lighting the tree branches, mingling together with the dotted yellow lights in the surrounding darkness gave it somewhat of a surreal effect. This lone lamp sits in the middle of this enclosed area that surrounds this little pond. It all makes for an unusual getaway from the hustle and bustle of Brookfield Place. I composed this photo so I could get some of the pond at the bottom with the lights in the middle, and the darkness of the night on top.

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

Eaton Centre this year had these large reindeers running amok within the mall—three of them, to be exact. This one spanned multiple floors, making it a sight to see even from afar. In this photo, I moved around just so I could get the spotlights behind the reindeer to shine through and hit my iPhone to get that purple glow.

Processed with VSCOcam with k1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with k1 preset

I can’t have an iPhoneography Christmas tree post without taking a photo of the Christmas tree at City Hall. This is one of those instances where I actually prefer the square cropped version over the original 2:3 that comes out of the iPhone 6 Plus. My original thought with this photo was to have a closeup of the tree decorations while viewing the blurred background of the golden arches over the skating rink, and the lights of the building on Queen Street. However, this was not possible because I couldn’t get close enough to the tree to get the nice bokeh that I was after. In another post I will go through the editing stages of this particular photo, but I will say a little editing goes a long way here!

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

I rarely include people in my photography and/or iPhoneography so when I do have someone in them, I make it a point to try and get a great shot out of it. Believe it or not, not a lot of editing was done to this photo. A quick white balance adjustment, sharpening, and K2 preset in VSCOcam is all I did to show this silhouetted couple in front of Toronto City Hall’s Christmas tree.

This pretty much sums up my iPhoneography adventure in Toronto featuring its many Christmas trees. In addition to giving you a glimpse of the Christmas spirit, I hope my added thoughts gave you some insight to how I take photographs and edit them on my iPhone 6 Plus.

 

The Festive Toronto City Hall

Toronto’s City Hall is no exception when it comes to decorating during the holiday season. With lights wrapped around the arches of the skating rink to those lined along the walls, you can’t not get into that magical mood.

I haven’t skated since my childhood years, so rather than attempt to showcase my fancy skating skills, I took to the rink and area with my camera instead.

1/3 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 24mm

1/3 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 24mm

It was by chance that I came here with my tripod, so it came in handy for all of these long exposures that I captured that evening. To illustrate the movement of the skaters, a slow, but not too slow shutter speed was used—it was just fast enough to capture still people’s faces, while the skaters were all a blur.

1/10 sec. at f/8.0, ISO 800, 70mm

1/10 sec. at f/8.0, ISO 800, 70mm

People skate in one direction, so to illustrate this movement, I took to the higher vantage point where I was able to capture the skaters going around and around. My timing had to be just right, however, since if I shot while few people were in the foreground, then I wouldn’t get that circular movement illustrated. I had to wait a bit until a large number of people came towards me. I also extended my shutter speed for this just a bit, so as to capture the curved blur as people skated around the corners.

0.6 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 48mm

0.6 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 48mm

The warm glow from the lights of the Christmas tree really provided that Christmas mood to the area. Standing slightly lopsidedly behind the rink, only a few people walked to it to take their requisite selfie “I was there” moment.

0.4 sec. at f/10, ISO 800, 70mm

0.4 sec. at f/10, ISO 800, 70mm

From afar, you can barely see the patterns of the lights, but from up close, you can see the netting over the tree, and all the bulbs decorating Toronto City Hall’s Christmas tree. What’s your favourite decoration?

1/25 sec. at f/2.8, ISO 800, 56mm

1/25 sec. at f/2.8, ISO 800, 56mm

In the photo below, my intention was to capture all of City Hall’s lights in one frame. I came upon an angle that managed to fulfill this requirement. The red glow of the building, combined with the orange glow of the tree, and the yellow from the arches really “lit up” this photo. Sorry for that pun.

0.5 sec. at f/10, ISO 800, 31mm

0.5 sec. at f/10, ISO 800, 31mm

Over the course of some time, skaters are asked to vacate the rink for about 10-15min. so the zamboni can clean the ice. This was a perfect moment to capture the skaters off the ice, resting and milling about while capturing the movement of the zamboni on the ice.

1/3 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 55mm

1/3 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 55mm

Once the zamboni did its job, the skaters took to the ice once again. I wanted to capture people in action as they darted off from the sideline on to the rink, but I may have missed the mark on this photo below. I did, however, capture that brightly shining moon!

0.6 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 26mm

0.6 sec. at f/9.0, ISO 800, 26mm

The skating rink is a great place to be even for non-skaters like myself. Hopefully I managed to capture some of the spirit of the season in these photos. Hope you’re all having a great season this year!

0.8 sec. at f/20, ISO 800, 24mm

0.8 sec. at f/20, ISO 800, 24mm

Toronto’s Outdoor Cinemas (Part2/2)

Part one of my two-part photography series brought you some great movie-watching experiences from the grounds of Fort York, David Pecaut Square, and Sugar Beach. This second part will bring you photos that I took from screenings at Yonge-Dundas Square, Harbourfront, and St. James park.

City Cinema: Yonge-Dundas Square

While there isn’t any large grassy expanse at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, its large concrete ground is a perfect spot for shows and events. Setting up a few seats and you have yourself a great place to view movies in. Surprisingly, the surrounding bright lights did little to distract from the movie itself. Take me to the YD Square website.

City Cinema: Yonge-Dundas Square

City Cinema: Yonge-Dundas Square

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Harbourfront Free Flicks is presented by Redbox and offers another great movie-going experience by Lake Ontario. These screenings are shown on the Westjet Stage where the stage’s curved seating is great for everyone to enjoy the screening. It’s another fantastic opportunity for you to enjoy the summer by the harbour. I believe I saw many passer-bys taking their evening stroll on the boardwalk stop by to treat themselves to an unexpected film. Take me to the Harbourfront website!

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Movies in St. James Park

St. James Park, located on the North West corner of Lower Jarvis Street and King Street East, has a great unasumming park that is literally hidden amongst the trees. It’s a great place for a free flick, and they know it. Take me to the St. James Park website!

Movies in St. James Park

Movies in St. James Park

This ends my photography series on outdoor cinemas in Toronto, but don’t be fooled, as this is no exhaustive list; there are several other parks and neighbourhoods in Toronto that offer this great service, with many of them being free. You can check out BlogTO’s 2014 listing of outdoor movies or Toronto Life’s 2014 listing for the ones that I didn’t cover, so you can start getting ready for next year.