Saturday, July 31, 2010

Packed family heading North

On the road to Northern Ontario. I just placed the camera on the dash using a wide angle and timer release.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Les the Handyman

Les the Handyman - #258/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Although I've never met Les, I see his van all the time in my neighbourhood. I like the house and colour symmetry and the way the van aligns with the roof line.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shady lunch

Shady lunch - #257/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

It was quite hot at lunch and many people and birds were staying cool in the shade. With such a bright sunny background, it's impossible to capture the detail in the shade, so I simply went for the silhouette look. What helped make the foreground a little more interesting though was the large (reflective) puddle where some pigeons were bathing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bench mini-puddles

Bench mini-puddles - #256/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I think the contrast of the hard bench with the mini-puddles and the soft red bark background make for a nice shot. And I think the semi-symmetrical composition has just enough mix of line and shape.

Sunset reflection fire

The sun was falling fast, but just as I was about to give up, I saw this reflection. In the imperfect glass panes, the lit clouds and bright sun look more like a forest fire.

Postcard from Wonderland

I went to Canada's Wonderland with my daughter and just took along my Fuji point-and-shoot. I liked how this shot turned out like a postcard shot and shows well the camera reproduces colour and it's dynamic range settings help get the most out of a bright day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

She said yes

She said yes - #253/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

We received a last minute dinner invite to my brother-in-law's tonight as his brother was visiting from Edmonton with his new girlfriend. I almost didn't bring my dSLR and was wondering what my picture of the day would be. I'm really glad I decided to take the dSLR when we heard them announce their engagement to their family. I quickly grabbed my camera wanting to photograph the happy couple and was really pleased to capture the champagne being uncorked.

This image is the unedited RAW version (saved as a jpg) which I preffered over the slightly over-saturated and warmer jpg version. I think the skin tones are a little more natural and overall the image appears more crisp than the jpg version even though there's no sharpening applied.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Football hands

Football hands - #252/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I've seen a few extreme DOF shots with someone holding an object at arms length. My son was wearing a white and black soccer shirt and was playing with a small traditional design soccer ball which I thought would be a good foreground/background mix. I really like the ripple out-of-focus effect perhaps caused by the black stripes on his shoulders. With in-camera B&W shots, I'm playing a little with the filter setting and it was set to green for this shot.

Inception: Immediate reactions

Just saw Inception.  Incredible. 9.5/10.

Just poured a stiff drink (bourbon) to write some immediate thoughts and impressions, hopefully avoiding any spoilers for those that haven't seen it yet (which is likely a lot of people since it's only been out a week).

  • The kind of movie you want to analyze and talk about over drinks at a bar afterward.  I saw it solo tonight, so that's why I'm here writing this at home for you.  Although a good friend couldn't join me tonight (he suggested Sunday), I've already told him I'll go and see it again on Sunday.  There's hasn't been many movies in my life I've wanted to see again so quickly.
  • I don't think there's been many movies (and very few good movies) made about dreams before.  The one that sticks out is Vanilla Sky and that was a brilliant movie too.  But I don't think a movie's been able to capture the mystery of dreams, explain the fundamentals and take it to the scary depths that Inception does.
  • My brain hurts a little thinking about the movie, but at the same time I feel very alive and awake.
  • The movie paradoxically shows how the human mind can be more creative than Hollywood.
  • Fantastic casting with some great (relative) newcomers, solid acting and star power.
  • Just found out that Christopher Nolan also wrote and directed Memento, plus the latest round of Batman movies - very impressive portfolio and may have to see a few of his others as well.
  • The pacing and complexity of the plot is perfect.
  • There are many different levels and dimensions to this movie and it works so well, but also has so many ideas woven through it you can't help but want to hit the pause button.
  • It seems that the moviemakers have been very generous with their production dollars and jammed in so much content for us to savour.  Far less movies and even other good movies are told in 15 minutes in Inception.
  • If you read any deep reviews, spoilers and theories the movie possibilities become even more complex.
  • Do you have a totem ?
  • Enjoy.  Time for bed...and to dream.

Alley night colour and shadow

I liked the variety of this simple alley close to my house and my Nikon with set to vivid+ really did a nice job capturing the rich colours and contrasts. I used a flat topped concrete post as an impromptu tripod.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Postmarks - #250/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
This light post caught my eye with its scars of white past posters and poster backing. There was a little more contrast in other shots I took, but I liked the little explosion mark in the top of this shot.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bloor Crystal angles

Bloor Crystal angles - #249/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
This was the first time I've been up close to the new architecture of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). I'm not a huge fan, but the Bloor Street crystal structure does create some very interesting angles and reflections. With the lenses I have, there is always some distortion with wide angle shots which are exaggerated with architectural lines. So I'm learning to accept the imperfection and either balance it out symmetrically or focus on another line in the shot and let the other lines fall where they will.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Birthday sky through her purple glasses

My wife said the sky looked beautiful while we were watching our daughter's soccer game on my wife's birthday. But she had on her purple sunglasses on. My son suggested I take a photograph through her glasses - nice idea and it worked quite well. I decided to leave the frame of the glasses in the shot to show the difference and the idea.

The drummer gets some attention

So often with concerts the drummer is hidden at the back of the stage behind the guitarists and singers. In smaller revenues, their luck is even worse as the lighting is far less than at the front of the stage.

This is the Jack Johnson concert at The Molson Amphitheatre and we were lucky to have general admission floor access. At this point in the concert, Jack puts the proverbial spotlight on his drummer Adam Topol (he was already lit quite well). However you can see our view of Adam's face was obstructed, but the video backdrop gave us some good shots of Jack's main rhythm man.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Designer coffee

Designer coffee - #246/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
My wife brought home this brand new coffee maker today and I immediately loved the design - simple, perhaps nostalgic knobs and switches; and brushed metal and black. I played with a few different angles and chose this one to possibly create a more mysterious - "name this common household item" image

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Abstract back yard light show

We had a big get together with friends and their children this evening. When I saw the kids playing with a variety of flashlights I quickly grabbed the camera, did the basic timed shutter release setup and asked them to go crazy with the lights. No problem there and they happily did it a few times while a played a little framing the shot.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Indycar speed

Indycar speed - #244/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Capturing the speed of a race car is a tricky balance of timing and shutter speed. If the shutter speed is too fast, then you'll stop the action too much and lose the sense of speed. Since this was a very bright day, I had to bring the ISO down to 100 and decrease the aperture considerably to get the 1/160sec shutter speed. I wanted to get the best impression of speed, so this was taken on one of the fastest parts of the circuit (the car was traveling about 140mph). I was quite close to the front of the grandstand which meant I was panning very fast so it took quite a few tries to capture the full car and well framed in the shot.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Caribana warms up

Caribana warms up - #243/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Caribana 2010 kicked off with a warm up event at Yonge Dundas Square today. Mixed in with the crowd and backstage was a sampling of the costumed ladies that make Caribana such a beautiful and colourful festival. I've never seen these costumes up close before or been to the parade, but after having got a glimpse today I may need to plan for a proper photo event in a few weeks - the colours and costumes are wonderful.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Swinging smiles

Swinging smiles - #242/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
He have friends visiting Toronto for a few days and our backyard swing kept the children smiling for most of their visit this evening - ah, simple pleasures of childhood. I had planned to get of shot of kids being kids, but the swinging made for quite the challenge - I think the auto-focus setting helped on this one. The shot is far from perfect, but I think it nicely captures the kids playing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yonge Street Indy car

Yonge Street Indy car - #241/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I've always loved race cars - my Dad used to take me to Silverstone when I was a little boy and I've always been in awe with their raw power and beautiful designs. As I tell anyone with a remote interest, you have to see these cars in person when they're on the track - TV does not do justice to auto racing. Unfortunately I haven't been to see a race for a long time, but I'm always drawn to the cars, even when they're powered off at events like this - a promo and celebrity pit race at Yonge Dundas Square ahead of this weekend's race. A crew had pulled this one out of the trailer and I thought the unusual site of a race car on Yonge street was perfect.  You can find more shots from today's event here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Unplayable lie

Unplayable lie - #240/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Sometimes just taking a simple photo of unusual event is enough to make a good shot. I played golf with my son today at Don Valley GC and from one of his tee shots, his ball got stuck in this tree.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Viva Espana

Viva Espana - #239/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Spain won the 2010 World Cup today and it appeared that everyone that had any connection to Spain seemed to be celebrating on the street. I snapped this one really fast as they passed by. I trimmed it in-camera and I think it just goes to show that sometimes you just have a to shoot away when you see something interesting - you might just capture a wonderful little vignette of life in the city. I love the way the lovely flag colours and her big smile stand out

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pearson approach

Pearson approach - #238/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
After dropping my daughter off for a sleepover in Mississauga, I made a small detour to grab some shots of the air traffic at Pearson. I've always loved airplanes and I'm always amazed by their size and grace when I'm close to them.  Landing airplanes are definitely more interesting to shoot than those taking off and if you're lucky to live by a busy airport and you have a little time and patience, you have lots of chances to capture different angles and just the right moment. I actually saw an aborted landing while was there and grabbed quite a few interesting shots.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Trinity tunnel passengers

This is the tunnel from the Eaton Centre to Bell Trinity Square. Grabbing the shot was quite simple as I just put the camera on the ground and used the self-timer. I took a lot of different shots with people, near, far or with no people, but chose this one for the symmetry, motion and contrast.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Minto metal curves

Minto metal curves - #236/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
I found this wonderful metal tube chairs by the new Minto buildings just south of Eginton and Yonge when I took a different exit from the subway station. I deliberated focused in tight to isolate the lines and curves. I like the sepia setting on the Fuji Finepix as it reduces the shot to the simplicity of monotone but with a nostalgic warmth.

Loblaws lighting

Loblaws lighting - #235/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Once again on a Wednesday night I was looking for my daily shot and found some interesting evening subjects at Bayview and Sheppard. This was about 9pm and the light was going fast, but the sky was providing just enough ambient light and the bright lights of the grocery store allowed me to capture this handheld at 1/15 sec. I used a high ISO (1250) and my settings include high ISO NR.

I'm finding that I'm not very good at keeping the frame perfectly horizontal and vertically aligned and sometimes the natural lens distortion fools your eye in the viewfinder, so alas, this shot was slightly aligned using Photoshop's Straightening Tool. By the way, if you use this tool as often as I do, in the canvas option drop down, I choose "crop to remove background" to save a lot of editing time. However, I always try my best to align in-camera so I don't lose pixels with this crop feature.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Eye on the ball

Eye on the ball - #234/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
My daughter started playing house league soccer again this summer. I haven't seen her play for a long time and I was really impressed by her attitude: no probs playing with mostly boys; not afraid to tackle and go to the ball; not crying when a big kid stepped on her foot; and her constant hustle (more than you can say about many professional players).

Taking photos of sports is always challenging, get the basics covered, exposure and white balance - then make sure you're shooting with a pretty fast shutter speed (even if it means higher ISO); and continuous auto-focus. Then just shoot lots of multi-frame bursts to capture your sport shot. This one was trimmed in-camera to isolate the two key players.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Feathered friends cooling off

This was taken on one of the most oppressively hot days in recent years. I watched many birds come and go and cool off in this lovely fountain in St. James Park and wished I could have jumped in there with them. I shot with a high shutter speed to try and freeze the water drops.

A little night tennis anyone

A took a little detour walking my dog to get this angle of Lytton Park Tennis club framed by the dark trees. I used a tripod with the appropriate settings: timer release; delayed shutter; manual focus, VR off and long exposure NR.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Mom & son moment, Paris, Ontario

After our annual golf tournament with friends in Paris, Ontario we enjoyed some good family time over dinner, including one of the newer additions to the troupe. The joy of play and love beam out of their faces. Shot with slow flash to highlight their faces but still show some of the evening backdrop

Friday, July 02, 2010

Ahoy there

Ahoy there - #230/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
My wife and I made a quick trip down to Harbourfront to see some of the tall ships which were here for the Toronto Waterfront Festival.  This is the actually the Kajama which is based in Toronto - we caught it out in the inner harbour as it was lowering its sails before returning to dock.  The bright sunshine made for some beautiful rich coloured ahots, but timing was critical on this one.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Canada Day cookie

Canada Day cookie - #229/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
My daughter made some patriotic shortbread for Canada Day - exposing for the bright sunshine on her hand worked really nicely with the shaded background.

West Don River under Eglinton Ave East

One thing that sometimes works for me when I'm a little stuck for my daily shot is to take a little detour from my usual routes around the city. This was the case here where I discovered a new part of Sunnybrook park where the West Don River flows under Eglinton Ave. It was quite late in the evening but I stabilized the camera on a small retaining wall so I could get the blurred water effect.