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Unzipped Toronto

The Unzipped exhibit in Toronto is a unique opportunity to browse through projects from the architecture company Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and those in collaboration with real estate development firm Westbank Corporation. It’s housed in the 2016 Serpentine Pavilion, which attempts to contrast the free-flowing element of a zipper to that of something of the opposite—a brick wall. As you walk in the pavilion, the brick wall—made of fibreglass frames—opens up like a zipper, creating the inner cavity. The open frames and the translucent properties of the fibreglass wall give off plenty of light-play within, as people move about outside and inside the structure.

Unzipped Toronto with the CN Tower.

From the entrance—facing south from King Street—you see the “wall” open up in front of you as you walk in. But seen from the east, facing west, the pavilion is seen as a perfect rectangle, mimicking a brick wall.

The exhibit is rectangular in shape when seen from the east or west side.

It is quite unique to see something like this in the middle of an urban street like King Street, and is a joy to walk in and around it on the lawn that was also created around this exhibit. Believe it or not this area was originally a parking lot!

If you get the chance, I recommend you go see it for yourself, even if it is to just sit down on the grass with a cup of coffee, enjoying the view around you.

Enjoying the view from the faux hill.

Booking is required, and you can register for your time slot here.

Here’s a gallery of images that I took from when I went during the opening weekend.

The Hearn Generating Station is epic in every way

Not too long I had the opportunity to visit an abandoned building just outside of the downtown Toronto core. Although I had seen many photos from the location before, I had never gone to it—nor did I even know the location of it!

iPhone 6 Plus edited in Snapseed and VSCOcam

iPhone 6 Plus edited in Snapseed and VSCOcam

Needless to say it was a pleasant surprise when I had the chance to grab my camera and go wild in there. I’m typically not the one to go to these urban, abandoned locations, but it never hurts to get out of your regular routine and experience something new for a change.

As soon as I walked in, I was shocked to see how large a place this was. The Hearn Generating Station is a decommissioned electrical generating station that occupies 650,000 cubic metres of space! Can you imagine the size of that? You can somewhat see the scale of this building from the picture above, where the man standing in the middle is looking down the main corridor. There were construction crews on premises so I wasn’t free to walk around everywhere, but it sure was a great view from wherever I was standing.

I didn’t have my tripod with me, but had I, I would have stayed much longer taking my time to find great angles to showcase the grandness of this building.

The takeaway to this is, when an opportunity like this arises, take it without hesitation because you never know whether it will ever come again!

A little perspective can fool you

Nikon D800, 1/640 f/4.5, ISO 800, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 f/4.5, ISO 800, 70mm

Here’s a great photo that always makes me laugh a little every time I see it. The photo was taken at The National Art Centre, Tokyo. It’s an architectural marvel and photographer’s delight to be inside, especially during sunset, like above.

During one of my trips to Japan, I came here with a friend of mine—the one standing in the middle of this photo with a camera up to her face. The great thing about this photo is that because of where I was standing with my camera, the two people who happen to be in the frame look like they are totally different heights. The security guard on the left looks like he is quite a bit taller than my friend in the middle. Now I know my friend isn’t that short!

As it turns out, although the security guard was only a few feet in front of my friend, because I was so low to the ground, this particular angle makes it look almost as if my friend and the guard were standing along the same line—or the same distance away from my camera. This perspective trickery makes the subject standing further away from my camera appear to be much smaller than the subject who is only a few feet closer to the camera.

My camera was sitting right on the hardwood floor here, and I was taking random photos as people passed by. That was a great moment as there were so many different people walking by my camera. I did manage to get many photos here, and I will be sure to do some more show and tells  in the future.

The takeaway here is to remember to play with the perspective of your camera as you can easily fool the audience by making your subject matter appear much smaller or larger than they really are.

Anything bright to stand out

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Even if it’s a drab door or a window or something else that’s not so exciting, a spark of colour can often bring much needed excitement to any picture. Take this door for example. It was a bright yellow door in the middle of a metal facade that really stood out from its surroundings.

The sheer fact that it was coloured bright, contrasting against the steel walls, caught my attention and prompted me to take a photograph of it. Had it been a dull colour that blended in with its surroundings, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about stopping to take its photo.

Next time on your walk, be sure to observe your surroundings for pops of colour. You’ll likely spot a lot more when you make the effort to find them.

Take a picture of it, and you be surprised at how photogenic it can be.

Above all else

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 200mm

What is it about heights that attracts us all? Is it the feeling of flight? The feeling of freedom? Or is it simply because it’s a rare vantage point from our ordinary lives? Seeing the little people on the ground and the little toy cars may make us feel like we are literally on top of the world.

Regardless of our thoughts it’s true that it can make for some great photography. And as someone who loves landscapes, it’s particularly exciting to see beautiful landscapes from atop everything else as well.

This photo was taken from 55 storeys high in the heart of Mississauga, overlooking its busiest street facing North. You can almost feel the wind in your hair as you eye the road from the bottom to near the top of the picture. The balcony you see on the right is of the condominium next door, which you could imagine would offer spectacular views from this height.

Now, if only I can get back up here again. If only!

Do you like high vantage points? Do you prefer cityscapes or landscapes?

A little perspective changes everything

In my last Periscope, I did a quick tutorial on how a slight change in camera perspective can dramatically change the view in front of you. If you missed it, you can catch the broadcast here for the next 20 hours or so.

A Little Perspective Change Goes A Long Way

A Little Perspective Change Goes A Long Way

When many people go out to take photos, their first instinct is to bring the camera up to their face and take a picture. That is fine, since eye-level is what everybody is used to seeing. However, if you would like create a more dynamic image with a slight flare to it, all you have to do is change the camera’s perspective by lowering it to the ground a little more, or bringing it higher above your head.

Here’s an example:

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

The above photo was taken at eye-level. It is your typical view that most people are used to. Now, let’s lower the camera to about a foot above ground-level and see what different it will make in our photo.

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Can you feel the different it made in the photo? The ground is so much closer, bringing you more of its details. It almost feels like you are laying right there on the ground, while giving you a more interesting angle to the view in front of you.

Now, let’s see what the view looks like from just above my head.

Higher Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Higher Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Taking this photo with the camera above my head gives yet another different feel to the image. You can tell that it is not eye-level, and it almost feels like you are floating above everybody else on the ground.

Here’s one more example to show you the difference between putting your camera lower to the ground, shooting at eye-level, and shooting above your head.

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1600 sec., f/5.0, ISO500, 36mm

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1600 sec., f/5.0, ISO500, 36mm

The above is a typical eye-level shot looking down a street in Toronto. Nothing really strikes me as being different or unique in this photo.

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1250 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1250 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

However when I put the camera about a foot above the ground, you can see the cracks of the ground, and the yellow line acts as a visual guide to the viewers, and brings the viewer in to the rest of the image.

Upper Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/2500 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

Upper Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/2500 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

With this photo above, you can sense that you are floating above others and get a slightly different feel than when viewing at eye-level. The yellow marker is no longer as intimate as it was when taken at ground level.

These two examples are taken within the city. But whether you are out in the wilderness, higher up in the mountains, or just walking the streets, a little perspective change will go a long way in changing the overall feel for your image.

If you shoot with an iPhone or other mobile device, it’s even easier to change your perspective since the phone is so portable and much easier to lower to the ground or raise above your head.

Say goodbye to boring eye-level shots that everybody is used to seeing, and say hello to more dynamic, and interesting angles in your photos! The next time you are out taking photos, try changing the location of your camera and see the difference it makes.

What other interesting angles have you shot in?! Please let me know in the comments below!

People watching season has begun!

Nikon D800, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 640, 62mm

Nikon D800, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 640, 62mm

For some of us, people watching can be a real treat. Just pick a random location, sit down, and watch what goes on in front of you. If you’re at a relatively active location, you can sit there for hours on end just enjoying the time pass you by.

It’s those lazy Sunday mornings that make you feel like just taking the moment as it comes. The Spring season is good for that, as people start to make their way out of their homes and into public spaces. The sun starts to shine brightly warming the outdoors, and the overall aura of happiness floats about.

When I went to Japan last year, I took a few days off to just walk around and enjoy the moment around me. Taking random snaps along the way, I meant to post a whole series on these snaps at one point on my blog, but that never came to fruition.

This picture was taken at the Tokyo Forum, in the Ginza district. It’s a great place for photographers any time of the day, with its striking architecture, criss cross patterns all around, and muted colour palette. If you come here to take pictures, you won’t be alone.

As the Spring season unfolds here in Toronto, I look forward to more outdoor adventures to come!

The Humber Bay Arch bridge

Nikon D800, 8.0 sec., f/8.0, 36mm, ISO 200

Nikon D800, 8.0 sec., f/8.0, 36mm, ISO 200

Toronto is blessed with some fine architecture, whether it be buildings or other structures, like this bridge. This Humber Bay Arch bridge, or Gateway Bridge, was completed in the mid-1990s, and spans 139m in length! Photographers love it for its uniqueness, curvature, and minimalism.

One day I should go there and do a little study on it to see its true beauty up close. Until then though, you’ll have to settle with this one, taken at a park down by the shore in Toronto.

Toronto’s city hall is architecturally quite stunning

Nikon D800, 24mm, 1/250 sec., f/9, ISO 400

Nikon D800, 24mm, 1/250 sec., f/9, ISO 400

One thing I’ve always been meaning to do was to go back to Toronto’s city hall and take a closer look at the building architecturally. With all these curves, it’s quite the building to photograph. However, my goal isn’t just to simply take pictures of this building, I want to show its true beauty in these photographs.

Over the last little while I’ve seen some pretty beautiful urban photography done with black and white long exposures, and this is what I would like to do with city hall one day.

For those of you who know me, know that I love to shoot colour landscapes, so taking a b&w photo of the city is a stretch for me, but is a challenge that I’m willing to take. It’s also a good exercise to expand my photography portfolio and practice seeing things in a different light, so to speak.

First thing’s first though: I’ll need one of those 10-stop ND filters.

Any suggestions?

The glow of the sun

Nikon D800, 185mm, 1/250 sec., f/5.6, ISO 800

Nikon D800, 185mm, 1/250 sec., f/5.6, ISO 800

On cold days like today, it’s nice to bask in the glory of the sun. These people here have the right idea. During sunsets, the sun shines brightly in this direction, allowing people to enjoy their meals directly in the sun.

The National Art Centre, Tokyo, is great in during this time, when the sun makes for great lighting in this unique and architecturally striking building.

I tried to capture the warmth of the sun here, as the people ate their meals. I’m also testing out a new program that I recently bought—Topaz Labs’s Glow—that produces this glowing effect on images. I’ll have to play with it more to see how I can better make use of it, and then perhaps do a review on it as well! So far, I have to say it is promising as I can still use it to make realistic images.