#485 - Yellow, Black, Red

I sat on a bus for twelve out of twenty-four hours to get this shot.

Gotta love the road trips.

Bank street, Ottawa


City of Monuments

Monuments, Galleries, and Centres for the Somethings are everywhere in Ottawa - or at least all around the Parliament Buildings.

(952) Quick Like a Bunny

All year I've been saying "I can't believe it's __________ already."

Now I can't believe it's 2010 already.


Santa Sends His Best (II)

Four years - and one day - ago, I posted a photo that included the back of the album "Santa Sends His Best". Inexplicably, it's currently the first hit on Google for that search, and that photo got a lot of traffic a few weeks ago.

Yesterday, I spotted this in the window display of a clothing store, so naturally I needed a photo. Four years later, I used the same camera as the first time.


(951) Eleven Months Later

Almost exactly eleven months ago, I posted another version of this sign. It's turned into one of my standard shots for playing with gear. Like the last time, this photo was shot on film with a wide-standard lens. A different camera and lens, naturally, but still film.

I'm actually disappointed that they painted over the bald spot, but the last time I cloned in a bit to stop the frame from cropping it off at the bottom.

(But like the last time, the white streaky things is snow.)


Closed / Fermé

I may have photographed some signs while I was in Ottawa. These have nothing in common except that they're some of my favourites, and aren't from the Royal Canadian Mint.


(950) This Was Important Once

Cleaning out the paper shredder, I saw the opportunity to grab the camera.

Camera, white bristol board, 180mm macro lens, 85mm macro lens, extension tube, flash, two more extension tubes, a couple more flashes, foamcore boards, a little softbox, and finally a ringflash adapter on my SB900.

I'd say that I wonder why I get so little housework done, but I don't, really.



Reconciliation is the monument dedicated to Canadian peacekeepers.

The third photo is of a quotation from Lester B Pearson, delivered during the Suez Canal crisis. "We need action not only to end the fighting but to make the peace. My own government would be glad to recommend Canadian participation in such a United Nations force, a truly international peace and police force." Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957, having "saved the world"; UN Peackeepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.


Ambivalent Robot

I walked around the Parliament Building at three different times, and this is my favourite photo of it.


(949) Welcome to Ottawa

The Ottawa bus terminal.

I don't know which set of numbers is more amazing - that this was shot at iso6400, 1/60, f/4, or that it was shot at a quarter after five in the morning.


Meeting #16

This is #16, painted by Mark Rothko in 1957, and part of the National Gallery's permanent collection. Originally shown as Two Whites, Two Reds, it was lost - safely in storage and in excellent condition - for 30 years. It was bought by the Gallery in 1992, at a bargain price of 6.35 cents per Canadian.

I know that not everyone, possibly even a fewer than half, will 'get' this sort of thing. But when I look at #16, or its neighbours - Barnett Newman's 'Voice of Fire' and 'Yellow Edge' - I see perfection.

For what it's worth, this photo is a product of extensive time in Photoshop. If you travel to Ottawa, the gallery space won't look quite the way it does here, but the photo looks the way I want it to. There's a much larger image of the artwork on the CyberMuse website, and while its reproduction quality is reasonably good, it misses the colour and subtlety of the original painting. You'll also have to imagine it being too big to fit in your living room: #16 is over eight feet tall.



I'll be in Ottawa for a few hours on Friday.

The National Gallery has a Rothko.


(948) Atmos

A Jaeger LeCoultre Atmos clock, which is powered by changes in the ambient temperature.

I actually have taken recreational photos this week, but like this one better.



Photos of padlocks and chains are a cliche, but it's fun to play with cameras that only do close-focus at wide angles. I'm so used to telephoto macros that it makes for a nice change - and working in IR is always interesting, too.


(947) Available Dark

The days are getting short again.


(946) Bronze and Blue

Proof that I don't only shoot straight lines, or straight ahead.

Olympus E-1 and 7-14mm lens.


Helvetica in Black on Orange

If your first thought wasn't that this photo is upside down, you may see text first - like I do.


The Bright Side

One of my articles has caught someone's attention, and so my review blog has had over 1300 hits in the past two days. (It got sub-3500 hits for the month of October.) I've had the somewhat surreal experience of reading people's comments, and even seeing myself quoted. My writing has been called interesting, fresh, practical and funny; my opinions have been called reasonable and even organized. (By someone who has never seen my desk.) I've gotten a few negative and/or misaligned comments as well, but for the most part it's been a positive bit of eavesdropping.

Not a single person has mentioned the photos that accompany the reviews.

It's good to know where I stand, neh?


(945) Red House, White Exit

I saw this fun shot in an idle moment, and it was a good lesson to always carry a camera.

(I had to come back and actually take the photo the next day. Lesson learned.)


Yonge & Helvetica

This week I went for a walk from the intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets to where I work on Yonge, a distance of about 200m and two side streets. I wanted to shoot as many instances of Helvetica as I could. I took thirty photos in twenty minutes, and missed a lot of the smaller print. These are some of my favourites.

Italics are letters that are sloped with a cursive stroke emphasis; Obliques are regular letters that are slanted. Helvetica has obliques, no matter what the font names say.

If a sign's been done in Helvetica, then it was almost certainly made on a Macintosh. Amusingly, the "Microsoft" wordmark-logo is in Helvetica, even though their OS family includes the cut-rate Arial in its place. Also amusing is someone complaining about Luke-warm Christianity.

Many businesses don't have a consistent look when it comes to their typography; a single sign can have a half-dozen different typefaces on it. In this case, the difference works well.

HMV is a mess of different typefaces, which is unusual for a company with a marketing budget. Here Helvetica really doesn't make sense, since it neither compliments HMV's logotype nor matches the space-invaders graphics.

American Apparel uses Helvetica quite consistently, and photographing their window displays is the dirtiest I've ever felt with a camera.

I mean, really, which store is more blatant and seedy?

And finally, we come to the thought that's been running through my head for the last couple of weeks: If you're being told what to do, you're probably reading it in Helvetica.


(944) Pumpkin

On November 1, Harbord St. shows off their pumpkins. They had lots of great ones, but this one with its too-close-to-be-coincidence resemblance to The Scream was one of my favourites.



One of my favourites from Killarney, this is Holly. She's a three-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, and every photo I have of her is blurred.


Playing Tour Guide

Since I'm only posting record shots recently, I thought I'd add this one of Downtown Killarney.

The red building nearest the camera, on the left, and the blue building beyond are the source of two of the photos in my 'Killarney Colours' post. Grey siding marks the spot for ice cream and worms; tucked in out of sight is the boat launch and LCBO trailer. The green roof is Gateway Marine, home to an awesome cheeseburger, and the two white buildings past that are hotels.

Behind the camera is the General Store, and further back is the pedestrian bridge to Killarney Mountain Lodge. The B&B where I stayed, the Blue Heron, is out of sight in the distance - over the hill and around the bend - which is also the part of the road where the black bear was standing when I walked 'home' the night before. (It was just a little bear, no bigger than the ones that hang out in Yosemite National Park. Brett will know what I mean, and Penny tells me that the little ones are sent out by the big ones as bait.)

And that's all of downtown, as seen with a 180mm telephoto lens.


(943) Bluffs

Shot with my E-3 + 35-100 in one of the windiest places in the city, on a windy day.

It's nice to know when I'm doing my dumbest thing of the week.



I went out to take photos with a friend today, and the weather was perfect - light to medium rain, 10 degrees celsius, and wind hitting 60km/h.

This blog is now five years old, with the first photos being of the whippets, posted at the start of October in 2004. While I did spend some time promoting it on some weekly theme boards, for the most part this has been a personal project, and is almost entirely visited by friends, family, and people looking for photos of Sunken City. That's about seven people a day.

Just over 18 months ago, I decided to start a new blog where I would write reviews of whatever caught my interest. It's now getting over a hundred hits a day, and will overtake this one for total visitors some time this weekend.


(942) Red and Blue

I'm still going through my Killarney files, so there may still be some rocks and trees coming up.


Yellow with Black Impact

Just to show that I'm not a snob, here's an effective use of the typeface "Impact".

(Impact, like Arial, is one of Microsoft's core web fonts.)


Attention to Detail

I don't usually intentionally take ugly photos, let alone post them, but this one bugs me. And I'm gonna tell you why.

This is a simple sign, designed to convey a limited amount of information: the company and individual selling the property, their contact information, and its market status.

The main body of the sign - the white text on light blue - is in Adobe's Myriad, and if it looks familiar, it should: it's also the font used by Wal-Mart, Apple, WestJet, and the header of this blog. It's a very popular font, modern but with humanist tones, and it's often used by big companies who want to seem laid-back and hip. (Frutiger, which is used by CIBC, is very similar but slightly pointier.)

The rest of the main sign is a bit of a stumper for me; it looks most like Hoefler Text but with lining instead of ranging figures. Even without a precise identification, it's a classic typeface, very much from the Garamond/Jannon family, drawing its inspiration from Western Europe c.1500. For what it's worth, Hoefler Text is a fantastic typeface, and it's what I used back when I was marketing toward real estate agents. But it's a bad combination with Myriad.

And then it really falls apart into the abyss of Windows/Word 'design'. They may have been trying to match the look of the "for sale" text with the add-on "sold" sign, but they hit Times New Roman (Bold) and then stopped trying. Look at the serifs on the S and shape of the O, and it's a clear miss; this is a typeface designed for legibility in newspapers. The salesperson's name is in Arial Black, which has the single redeeming virtue of not being as offensive as Arial, which is what his job title and phone number is set in. Arial is a shameless derivative of Helvetica, which is mid-century modern, and its sole reason for existence is to let Microsoft be compatible with the then-dominant Apple's desktop publishing market without the burden of paying licensing fees.

While I realize that every step toward professional marketing comes directly out of an agent's take-home pay, why would I trust a company/individual that can't create a professional and consistent image for themselves to be able to sell something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?


Killarney Colours

I went to Killarney, Ontario, with my camera club. The early-October timing was so that we could photograph the fall colours, but the trees weren't cooperating. Not that trees are all that interesting, anyway.

My goal was to gather enough sounds, video, and photos to create a 4-5 minute slide show that would be entirely my own creation, which (AFAIK) isn't something that's been done before in my club. As a result, I was thinking more for series than individual photos, and working with a few set themes and set focal lengths.

This is probably my favourite series, but I'm still in the early stages of editing and compiling all of the material I've collected.

I have broken the links to hundreds and hundreds of photos, which will take a long time to repair. The workaround is to replace "photo.matthewpiers" in the link URL with "matthewpiers.smugmug". Awkward, but only temporary.

This is happening because I have revamped matthewpiers dot com. More of what I write and photograph will be going there, so check it out as well.

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