Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ron Westray and city jazz

Free festival concerts are always a great way to get close to the musicians and being able to photograph in the daylight is a big bonus. I had the luxury of all kinds of angles, but this one stood out with a glimpse of the city in the background and the reflective gold tones of Ron's trombone peaking out behind the action from the drums.

Barry Elmes Sextet @ Nathan Phillips Square for Toronto Jazz Festival.

Setting sun lit broken down barn

After the unsettled weather of a customer golf tournament, the setting sun was providing some beautiful colour for my drive home so I took a few back roads and found this broken down barn. I ventured into the neighbouring farmer's field to get some shots of the sunny side of the barn. Lighting was quite tricky on wider shots, but framing closer in helped control the highlights and shadows a little better.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grant, Peter and Lisa with my son

The day of my son's golf tournament in Acton coincided with the England / Germany game - although scheduling was a little tight we managed to fit in breakfast and the game before my son's afternoon starting tee time. I found this great pub in nearby Georgetown aptly called The St. George. Peter was standing outside the pub waiting for it to open as my son and I arrived. Peter lives across the street and as you can see he is a Manchester United fan as well as a big fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. His friends Grant and Lisa arrived and I asked for a group stranger shot. We sat together for breakfast and the game talking about the World Cup, but also a lot about the G20 riots that happened in Toronto the night before. Their connections with England are Grant's Mom is from the Manchester area and of course is a Man U fan as well, and Lisa's Mom is from Liverpool. It was really nice meeting them all even though we shared in the sadness of yet another England loss at the World Cup.

Grant, Peter and Lisa are #65 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at www.100Strangers.com.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Slap chop action

Slap chop action - #224/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
We were my sister-in-laws for dinner and got to see TV's Slap chop in action. I used the slow sync flash setting to capture the motion blur.

Where am I hiding ? 365inCamera.

If you're wondering where I've been, well I've been focusing my artistic and journalistic efforts toward my daily photo project - 365inCamera - hiding behind my camera so to speak.  Some days I post a portrait, an urban abstract or Toronto location shots - there are lots of different styles and content.  But I'm finding that there are some interesting stories behind the pictures and for the last couple of months I've been writing something for every daily shot.  So there are many views of daily life and little vignettes that you may find interesting and of course, every picture tells a story.  And if you're looking for some photogrpahy tips along the way, I often write about how I took the shot.  I could copy some of the better ones over here (as sometimes I also copy posts from here over to in Tune in), but I didn't want to clutter up web 2.0 too much.  So, if you're looking for a little more PJMixer on a daily basis you may find 365inCamera to your liking.

Friday, June 25, 2010


I met Eric on is first day of fasting for non-violent protest during the G20.  Eric believes that non-violent protest ultimately produces the best results, unfortunately, the media is often focused on the violent protests. He is quietly making his point known at the corner of Queen and Bay and welcomes anyone to stop by for a chat. He'd had a discussion with a protester who believes bricks and guns is the way to go - Eric feels that at least that protester now knows about Eric and has heard his point-of-view.

For more images from the G20, go to my G20 Flickr set.

Eric teaches French at a Scarborough Catholic high school. Although he hasn't told his students what he's doing, he has nothing to hide and some staff and students know about his protest. When I talked to him about the 100 stranger project and asked if I could take his photograph, he told me that another photographer had already added him to their 100 stranger project - small world. Thanks for the photograph Eric and good luck with your protest - stay well.

Eric is #64 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at www.100Strangers.com.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ready for Jazz Fest

Ready for Jazz Fest - #222/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
The Toronto downtown Jazz fest starts Friday and as I took a stroll at lunch I spotted this worker on the festival tent set up at Nathan Phillips Square. I really liked the lines and architectural backdrop.

Trucking sunset

Trucking sunset - #221/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
We were expecting storms today, but the weather stayed hot and humid most of the day, but as night was closing in, some threatening clouds were rolling in as the sun was setting. I was in the West end close to the highway so thought I'd try and capture the interesting sky with some urban contrast. I positioned myself so I'd get a chance at a vehicle silhouette and luckily (as the sky kept changing and darkening) this tow truck came along. The sky was quite bright so handheld (with VR) was still possible, but the shutter speed was slow enough to create some nice blur of the truck.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gay rights G20 protest

Toronto is getting ready for the G20 meetings this coming weekend and with global media in town the protests have already started. I like this shot because it shows the three aspects of life on the G20 Toronto streets - lots of police, tons of media and the protesters. This very colourful protest was for gay rights.

Locked up graffiti

Locked up graffiti- #219/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I was out late walking my dog and decided to take a new route as I was looking for my shot-of-the-day and something new. I came across this utility box graffiti and the spray patterns and simple white on black caught my eye with the sprayed padlock. I can also see a skull image just to the right of the padlock.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Different thoughts, shared moment

I usually use a family visit as an opportunity to take lots of family portraits and have to say my family are very patient with me. I took a few of my Mom and Dad and they were nice shots, but this more candid shot stood out as something a little more unusual. There are small unusual features in each of their faces and the you can perhaps see that they are both thinking about quite different things, but still sharing the moment.

Good versus evil clouds over Castlefield

Timing is everything with dramatic clouds and skies. As I took a few shots, the scene was constantly changing, but the contrast of highlighted versus the darker clouds were terrific. This was taken around 9pm so the light and resulting image are nice and soft.

Friday, June 18, 2010

In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes - #217/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Just snapping away some shots as the sun was falling on our deck. I really like the warm skins tones and the clarity and colour of my daughter's eyes (auto white balance setting). A little dark , but the highlights provide some nice contrast. I think the shot demonstrates that simple, pin sharp, colourful and interesting eyes can make a great shot.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

High rise unicyclist

High rise unicyclist - #216/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
There's always some street performer to photograph at Yonge and Dundas. I really liked how this shot set up because he was so high up on his unicycle I managed to frame the shot with a nice uniform plain background.


After my ultimate [frisbee] game I parked at Keele subway station to join my teammates for a post-game beer and burger. I was taking some shots of the concrete subway bridge when I noticed a man exit the subway and start walking towards me. I could tell he was a little curious and sure enough he wondered over to ask was I was up to.

As you can see, Don is a pretty colourful character and was more than happy to pose for a few shots. I liked the contrast of the harsh concrete with his casual and comfortable look. Don was heading to Latinada on Bloor street to play keyboards with the musical owner. I was really tempted to take up Don on his offer of a beer at Latinada, but I wasn't in the cards that night. But I do plan on going to visit sometime - the online reviews of the food and music sound wonderful.

I was pretty pleased with the shot, even though I only had the pop-up flash available.

Don is #59 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at www.100Strangers.com.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kooper bed time ?

Kooper bed time ? - #214/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
We don't allow Kooper upstairs very often, so lying in my daughter's bed was a bit of a treat (as you see from is look). I have to say that Kooper is pretty good at looking at the camera and of course, very photogenic, like the rest of my family.

I shot this with my 50mm standing on the bed so it was a little hard to compose and depth of field was a little out of my control being so close to the subjects. I took a few other shots where my daughter was looking at the camera and she was out of focus, which didn't seem right. But this one, where she is a more casual background observer, rather than primary subject works quite nicely with the depth of field.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Best friends

Best friends - #213/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
One of the big reasons we got a dog was because my daughter loves animals. Although Kooper wasn't very gentle when he was younger, my daughter now spends a lot of time cuddling with him and perhaps this picture shows the feelings are mutual.

I'm using flash flash many of my outdoor portrait shots these days and still fine tuning my skills (perhaps until you won't be able to tell I shot with flash).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Austria in the World Cup ?

We thought this was pretty funny - everyone is jumping on the world cup bandwagon, but some perhaps haven't completely done their homework. My son is trying to make an appropriate puzzled face - last shot of him before he leaves for his first big grade 8 trip to Quebec. Sometimes all you need for a decent shot is some comical relief.

Shad and Champion

We went to Shad's concert at The Opera House last night.  I haven't been to many hip-hop or rap shows and I wasn't sure what the crowd was like.  I decided to wear my Champion t-shirt for the occasion thinking it gave me a little street cred, although electronica is still a musical departure away from Shad's hip-hop style.

Today, I was having some trouble trying to find the setlist from last night (so I can fill in some of gaps in myShad downloads), when I came across a CBC Radio 3 podcast - Shad and Champion playing last year's Transmission Festival in Victoria !  Never suspected they'd played on the same bill before.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

St. George football on Yonge

I haven't had a lot of time for photography recently, work and world cup taking up most of my time. I snapped this in the neighbourhood after watching the England game at home rather than trying to get into a crowded pub. Simple shot that perhaps demonstrates that a zoomed shot is sometimes better than getting close and going wide angle, especially with the benefit of less distortion.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Muskoka dusk

Muskoka dusk - #210/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
We enjoyed some wonderful weather for our second day in Muskoka and we ended the day with a partial sunset on the balcony at Boston Pizza in Gravenhurst. This shot kind of sums up Muskoka for me, enjoying the outdoors, being on the water and not a care in the world.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taboo rough weather

Taboo rough weather - #209/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I was lucky enough to have a business trip to Taboo resort in Muskoka for a couple of days, the weather was a little iffy on the first day but the rough waters and cloudy skies were good for photography. I was trying to apply some landscape best practices: lead in lines; foreground interest; rule or thirds; and small aperture.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Scarborough scaffolding

I rarely visit Scarborough Town Centre mall, but I had a meeting close by and I needed to pick something up from there. And of course as a true photographer I try to always have my camera with me because you never know what you'll find (if you're looking).

Not a lot was immediately that interesting or unusual until I came across the large renovation they were doing in the centre of the mall. As I looked up, I could see some interesting lines, angles and textures so I started snapping away.

A few lessons learned: always check the basics - I had left the camera in manual mode and wondered why the first exposures were off; and on Nikon's menu system you need to always remember to hit done after changing a lot of the settings. I had tweaked the custom image optimization settings, but forgot to hit done, so the settinbg went back to vivid - which as it happened, was ok for the shot.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Shadow of education

Shadow of education #207/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
The uneven mounting of the lettering made for quite an interesting shadow font on this Ryerson University building on Victoria Street. I had my 50mm lens on so I was a little limited on composition, especially since their was a construction fence around the building but I skewed the shot a little a made sure to bring in some nice colour from windows and the brown tiling and excluded the sky.

Reeve Carney, Lee's Palace

I do quite a lot of concert photography and enjoy the challenge. This was at Lee's Palace where I've been to many times before but never used by DSLR there. If you have a DSLR and not happy with the results from your point-and-shoot or smartphone, it's always a good idea to try and find out the photography policy before going. Sometimes you may be stopped and not allowed in with your camera. However, finding out the policy is not always easy and many times is dependent on the band, not the venue. Having the right equipment and settings if critical to capturing good shots at a concert. I've used my external Nikon Speedlight flash a few times, but it can be a little distracting and can draw attention on you (like the auto focus lighting aid, which I also turn off), plus it doesn't really allow you to capture the mood of stage lighting. However, stage lighting is good and bad, especially in a small venue. Sometimes it may be bright enough to light the lead singer, but many times isn't good enough to light the other musicians, like the drummer.

For this concert I used my 50mm f1.8 lens (aka the "nifty fifty"), set my ISO to 1600 and used the manual settings, making fine adjustments throughout the show. You need a very fast lens, but shooting wide open at f1.8 makes focusing quite difficult, so I was using f2.2-f2.8 with shutter speeds of 1/50-1/80.

One other thing to keep in mind with concert photography is the performance itself. Shooting at the necessary lower shutter speeds makes it quite difficult to capture fast moving performers (although blurred action shots also capture the mood quite well), so timing is critical in capturing the money shots, so I take lots of shots. Plus some performers are just more photographic than others, their movements, their facial expressions, their clothing. This shot is unedited and I'm pretty pleased at capturing a classic guitar move and Reeve was a very photogenic subject.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Flying high in Newmarket

My son and I visited some friends in quintessential suburbia, Newmarket. I've taken a few photos of kids on trampolines and I always get some interesting shots. It's relatively easy to focus the subject and the timing is predictable. Snap lots and you'll capture a winner. The added bonus in this location was the background, but I did crouch quite low to accentuate the height and appearance above the trees. It was early evening so the lighting was almost perfect. I missed doing the in-camera D-lighting, so a did a quick shadow fill fix in Photoshop to show more of her face.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Pavement puddle reflection

Luckily I have patient kids and they understand that Dad sometimes needs their help for his picture of the day. Although the lighting was mixed, I'm starting to understand that it's ok to have some blown out light on occasion rather than tearing your hair out looking for a perfect exposure. Apart from the highlight here, I didn't have to fiddle too much to find a balance. I took quite a few shots, different compositions, the way the kids were standing etc., some showed them too much and the reflection wasn't very clear or they were "too" posed. So with unusual compositions like this, it's always good to snap a variety of shots to choose from.

Friday, June 04, 2010


During the work week, I usually take pictures at lunch or after work. Today, I was pretty engrossed in my book on the subway and I missed my stop (by 2 stops). I was quite early, so I decided to walk back to the office and grab a few shots. At Yonge Dundas Square they were just kicking off an Ontario tourism day so they plenty of interesting people about. I spotted Dave dressed and his colleagues dressed in their period costumes and thought he'd be a perfect stranger for my project.

Dave has worked at Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario for about 20 years. He does demonstrations as a tinsmith and is historic interpreter. I really like that term - they have summer camps for kids to become interpreters a the village, dressing in period clothes and portraying life in the 1860's. I'd like to visit the village one day and their winter setup sounds really nice with hundreds of fairy lights and an ice rink.

Talking to Dave, it was as if he'd stepped out of a history book. Outside of his life as an interpreter, Dave is a sheet metal worker. I wonder how many other trade skills have lasted over 100 hundred years !

As it was early in the day, the light was much better (even though it was still quite bright) so this shot was relatively easy to expose correctly without any post processing help.

Dave is also #57 in my 100 strangers project.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

8 days to go

8 days to go - #202/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

With just over a week to go until the kickoff of World Cup 2010, the bars are starting to get decked out for all the fans. In Toronto, those fans will turn out from every competing country - I can't wait. This is McVeigh's on Richmond. Composing the shot with just the flags and a few beer clues seems to work better than a full street shot, although it would have included their nice Guinness mural. Call it artistic license. Dull weather day, so I went with a quick vivid+ setting.

Like many pictures of buildings, this needed a quick alignment fix.


Ryan - coincidence, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I was downtown checking out some of the exhibits for the Contact Photography festival when a noticed this striking bright red truck on Ossington Avenue. I took a few shots, one of which included a brightly dressed passerby. After taking the shots, I continued my walk up Ossington and noticed some beautiful and colourful art work at AWOL Gallery. Upon closer examination, I noticed the piece was made up of mousetraps. I went into the gallery and met Agata Ostrowska who told me all about Ryan Barrett and his latest project, Fire Trap. Ryan returned from getting a coffee and we spent almost an hour talking about the project and art in general.

When I checked my photographs when I got home, I noticed Ryan was the stranger I captured in this earlier photo.

Click here for the full story and more photos from my visit to AWOL Gallery.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Eaton Centre Spotlight

I really liked the way the sunlight was lighting the lower floor at the Eaton Centre. The lighting kept changing with passing clouds and this one was one of the first shots and the one I'm most happy with. The balance of the bright sunlight with just enough exposure to catch some details around the edges was a little tricky, but I got lucky in matrix metering mode. As the shot was a little rushed, the alignment was a off a fraction so I did do a quick alignment fix in Photoshop.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Jamaica on Bay

Jamaica on Bay, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
We're starting to see more and more diversity in our sidewalk food vendors in Toronto. This one is a Canada's banking crossroads, King and Bay and was a nice colourful and charming distraction from the hordes of power suits. I used a little in-camera D-Lighting to bring out the customer's face, but not too much to lose contrast in the buildings.