(1004) Dinosaurs on White

In what could be a massive technical failure, I'm posting my first-ever video.
(If you have quicktime installed, it doesn't work, and it's not Sunday, let me know in the comments.)

While future projects might include motion, my approach so far has been to accompany a collection of still images with a soundtrack that I've created from relevant environmental sounds. I'm not a strict literalist here - see a dog, hear a bark - but the audio and images are recorded in tandem and do relate to each other in some way. In this case, it was a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum with my camera club yesterday morning.

Running time is 59 seconds.

A 1280x720 video, along with another work-in-progress, can be found on my page at Vimeo.


#942, Power of the Machines

I find the perspective - and the demand - disturbing.


#940, Helvetica with Handwriting

I can't believe that they put the 'No Parking' sign up crooked.


(1003) #906, Bloor Street

Context changes content. I'm not sure if someone thought this placement through properly.

For the purpose of my Weekly Photo efforts, I've decided that I'll count film images as being from the week that they're scanned instead of from the week that they're taken.

I'm not sure what I'll do for a photo for next week, though.


#945, Pale Blue & Dark White

I've had some fun with this one.


Editing by Omission

Tar sand. Swamp-like deposit of a mixture of fine clay, sand, water, and variable amounts of tar-like heavy oil known as bitumen. Bitumen can be extracted from tar sand by heating. It can then be purified and upgraded to synthetic crude oil.

Bitumen. Gooey, black, high-sulfur, heavy oil extracted from tar sand and then upgraded to synthetic fuel oil.

(Source: UNFCCC2009 website glossary.)

There wasn't much coverage of the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in the Canadian media - there were some vague hints that Canada isn't exactly on the side of the angels because of the tar sands, and then things fell strangely quiet.

Hotel at Night

There may be something to this whole "look of film" thing.

This scene feels old.


Pictures of Nothing I & II

I've finally gotten a few rolls of film back from the lab, and some of the images I scanned really jumped out at me.

These are from the leader.


#028, White

Novice photographers are often told to study the works of master painters.

Rembrandt, Vermeer, Monet...

... Rothko, Newman, Mondrian...


(1002) #514, Staccato

On Friday I went out with a plan to take three good photos, and it almost worked.

This was the first time that I've shot with the D700 for processing with Photoacute, which I use to increase the resolution and dynamic range, while reducing noise. It's a bit of overkill with the 700, but it turns a 12MP image into a 40MP image that will withstand a lot more enlargement. All it needs is 5-10 nearly identical images as raw material.

But shooting the D700 at 8fps on a quiet street is enough to scare the pigeons.


(1001) Shooting Film

I'm still shooting film, and have only developed one roll. I have two-and-a-half rolls of Portra 400NC shot, but need to wait for #3 to be finished. That's the roll that I've been using to shoot colour targets whenever I get a sliver of daylight, so I'll be getting prints made so that I'll know what the photos are supposed to look like when I scan them.

Eventually I'll stop messing around with test shots and will actually take some photos with the thing.


#898 and #800

This is the side of a black truck, covered in salt and grime.

Who says that the urban winter isn't photogenic?

Shot with my D700 and Sigma 180 on a monopod - f/5.6, iso 200, and 1/250s - at 100% magnification they make my eyes hurt.


#887, "5202"; #888, "5203"

I took Stumpy for a ride to Downsview TTC Station, and one of my favourite photos was of a stationary train. Sometimes I think that I can take the sort of photo that I like almost no matter where I am, and in this case, it's almost literally true.

You'll notice that I say that one of my favourites is of a stationary train, but that there are two of them here. The first photo, #887 ("5202") doesn't quite work for me. The second photo, #888, does. Some extra cropping on #887 helps it, that brings it to on 72% of the original frame, which I hate. For comparison, #888 is 94%, and #887 as shown here is 87%, which may be one reason why I don't like it as much.

I'm a little worried that I'm getting odder as I get older.


Best of 2009: #402, Meeting #16

To take this photo I needed to sneak my camera into the art gallery and surreptitiously take a few shots. If I'd been caught, I would have been sternly told not to do it again. Considering that I was using the non-small Canon SX20, that meant that I needed to wear my fluffy down parka for the two hours that I was wandering around. My audio recorder was in my other pocket, partly because there were no rules against it, but also because it helped the balance.

When I was looking for a destination for my first photographic day trip, the National Gallery having a Rothko was one of the deciding factors. To some extent, I've picked this as one of my best for its greater significance rather than its own merit. Mark Rothko is one of my favourite visual artists, and I plan on doing a couple of photo trips a year from now on. It all comes together here as a proof-of-concept.

I would have loved to be able to use my standard compliment of gear in the gallery; the little compact camera can't capture the subtle colours and has far too much noise. It also has the same sort of complex wide-angle distortion that makes my Olympus 12-60 such a challenge to use indoors. I learned a few tricks in the process of refining this image, and the final product owes as much to Adobe as it does to Canon.

This is the most recent of my best photos from 2009, and was posted in a slightly different form on December 5.

Best of 2009: #798, Atmos

I've been shooting jewellery for a while now, but this one is my favourite. It's also one of the ones that I wouldn't be able to do with anything under the D700 and 85mm tilt-shift, which is good, because this is exactly the sort of thing that I wanted that gear for. I haven't needed to modify the perspective, which is hard on the image quality, and the 700's awesome highlight range has let me recover details that should have been gone for good.

It also doesn't hurt that it's a great subjected. Watches are how I got interested in jewellery, so it's fitting that shooting jewellery has gotten me a photo of a fascinating timepiece.

It was also refreshing to be able to shoot really wide - f/11 - and still get the depth of field that I wanted.

Best of 2009: #360, Intake 46

Shot on the same day as #394, this is the sign that warns boaters not to anchor near the town's water supply. Shot with a 180mm lens, I was nearly in the water supply myself trying to get far enough back for the framing that I wanted. Something that I'm unreasonably proud of is that I never create these compositions by cropping the image after the fact. I like knowing that I can print them as large as the megapickles will allow, even if I don't, and getting the best image quality possible even though it hardly needs it.

The font in this one is Arial, but I like the photo anyway. I've added a bit of the vignetting, but what appeals to me most is the overall asymmetry that's balanced by the strength of the N and E on the edges of the frame.

Best of 2009: #394, Detour

Of the photos that I'm including as my best of 2009, half of them are from its final three months. This tells me that I'm either getting better, or lacking sufficient time for a proper perspective. In this case, I'm afraid that it's the latter.

This photo is one of the few from an afternoon spent in the woods around Killarney, Ontario. This was taken in the back of a shed in a stand of sugar maples, which we reached by boat. It needed a 2.5 second exposure at iso400 and f/11, and was shot with my tilt-shift lens contorted for the perspective and focal plane that I wanted. I was even standing in a peculiar pose to get some of the light and shadow to fall where I wanted it.

Of all of the photos I've selected for this series, this is the one that I would least want to print and hang on the wall.

Best of 2009: #375, Helvetica in Black on Grey

On May 23, I was on the subway heading out to Scarborough to continue a photo series along Kingston Road. One of the first photos that I took that morning, this shot is a giant sign behind glass on the grocery store that I shopped in when I briefly lived on Woodbine north of Queen street. It was something of a photographic warm-up for me, since I wasn't at my anticipated starting point yet.

It turned out that the part of Kingston Road that I'd already visited was the most interesting, and I didn't get any decent photos from my intended subject. I did get three other photos that I used here, so it was still a good trip.

First posted here on May 24, this photo started my 'weekly project' series that has helped to keep me taking 'fun' photos on a regular basis. For this version, I've returned a little bit of colour to the image, which shows the reflections in the window. You can't see my reflection in the window because I was using my 85mm tilt-shift lens. That's my main 'work' lens, so it doesn't come out to play very much, but it still contributes three of the eight images that I've picked as my best of 2009.

Best of 2009: #548, Hangout

This is part of the larger-than-life sign for The World's Biggest Bookstore, and it has become my ceremonial first photo for any new camera gear. The fact that it's just down the street from the camera store where I work part-time is a big part of that.

More than any other, this has to be my signature image for 2009. It took an Honourable Mention in a club competition - the highest I ever achieve - as a print that was three feet wide and two feet high. It was shot as a panorama that gives me a 125 megapixel image, and one day I'd like to print it as a 6'x4' vinyl banner. It's the closest I'm likely to come to the scale of the Color Field paintings that I'm not-so-secretly envious of.

While I've posted other versions here (the original on January 31, a reprise on December 20) and used it to illustrate reviews, this one hasn't been shown before. It's my favourite of them all.

Best of 2009: #876, Yellow Daisy

In March, I was looking for an image of mine that I could donate to a charity auction for the Sanfilippo Children's Research Foundation. I decided that none of my existing images were appropriate - saleable - and set out to shoot some new ones. There were four variations, but this was my favourite.

The photo here is the result of shooting twenty-five separate images and then blending them in a focus-stacking application. From there, I've edited the image in Lightroom and then tweaked it some more in Photoshop. It was shot in my lightbox, with the flower held sideways.

The large amount of white lets me change how it's cropped and framed for each print size, and I have a 4x6 sitting on my filing cabinet. It was taken on March 28, and first posted here on April 9.

Best of 2009: #279, Futura on White Plastic

This is a detail from the sign of David Mirvish Books, taken on the last Sunday that the store was open to the public. It has since reduced its operations to web-only sales of books of and about art. It's located on a side street beside Honest Ed's discount store, which is only one of the reasons why the Mirvish name should be familiar to everyone in Toronto. My home is about a block from where this photo was taken.

This was taken with my E-3 and 50-200 lens, a combination that I rarely use for casual 'street' photography. It's a very large, very long lens that makes me even more self-conscious than usual when I'm photographing around people.

Shot on February 22, this photo was originally posted here on March 21. I've refined the processing since then, but it's essentially unchanged.


(953) #171 - Yellow, Black, and Grey

There are themes in my photography - predominantly yellow, red, white and black.

#177 - Yellow

I could call this the first photo that I've posted taken in 2010, but in reality it's a re-shoot of a photo I took almost two weeks ago.

I'll post that one once I get the film developed, if it's any good.


Happy New Year II

Returning to my erratic custom of marking the new year with a photo of a strip club.

(2005/6, 2006/7.)

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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