I liked this photo from the first time I saw it, but it took a while for it to reach the point where it looked the way I wanted it to. Not so much in terms of distance, in the sense of changes from its original scan to its present appearance, but in time for me to see what I liked and add a certain subtle emphasis.

This photo is also why I'm still willing to put up with the additional hassles of scanning colour film, instead of relegating my film cameras to only using XP2 and keeping colour in the digital realm where everything is so much easier.

It's also interesting to me to look at this post and the two previous ones, and see which two forms a natural set. Sometimes content isn't character.



As amazing as the D800 is, I still really like film. There's room for both…

(The digital photos from this stack of pipes are here.)


Dockside Shed

This is roughly what my computer feels like right now – a somewhat dilapidated warehouse. Time to get back to work…



This past weekend was my second time photographing Coney Island's summer-starting parade, and it's going to take a while to sort through and see what I have to show from it. My quick take is that there should be a few interesting sets that can come out of it, but time will tell.

The score was 1375 photos taken with my D800, of which 1101 were of the parade and taken with my 85/1.8D, and 274 were with my 50/1.4G, which was used for everything else. The Canon S100 took 104 photos, and I used my XA to shoot one roll of black and white and about ten frames in colour.

Once all the dust has settled I'll see what the numbers are for my best and/or favourite photos – it's always interesting to see the differences between what gets used and what works.

But until then, I still have a few photos that haven't made it to these pages yet, so at least there's a few more updates to go before I need to have more Coney photos ready. This one is just quick jpeg from the D800 – simply importing the raw photos is going to be quite the task.


Worn Metal

Backtracking again, this is the black and white film version of the first photo from my "worn metal" post from three weeks ago.

… I'm not going to pick a favourite.


Twenty Ton (Two)

I previously speculated that this crane would look better in black and white, and I think I was right.

(But of course I would say that.)


Cinder Blocks

The week after taking the 'Staso' photos I went back to the Spit. I was happy with the photos I had, but went back 'for fun' this time, and I had this outlandish idea that perhaps I could find the Staso brick and bring it home.

The photo above is what I found on my return. This is the same beach as in the Staso/Grey photo, looking in the opposite direction, but in the week between the photos the trucks and bulldozers had been doing their work. The old beach with all of its small, smooth stones is being layered over with new rubble. I took a number of photos of the new terrain, looked around a bit, and then moved on to other areas.

In completing my 2011 series, I had decided that I wanted to apply what I had learned from creating this project to a new one. About bricks. From the Spit. But this time I'm going to have more control over the lighting, equipment, and environment. In photography the little things are critical, but big ones are profound. For example, when I was working on the photos last summer, I was using a convenient concrete block as a shooting table. It wasn't quite level, so not only did all of my subjects need to stand on their own, they needed to do it against a slope. This non-photographic requirement fundamentally changed the project, but it won't be an issue this time around.

So for this trip to the Spit I was gathering raw material in the most literal way. I spent the day taking photos and inspecting bricks, picking out some interesting ones to bring home. It was a successful day all around.

And on the way back home I found my brick.


Staso / Grey

I like this brick. How could I not? It's named after my favourite colour.

I took two different photos of it – involving fifteen or twenty attempts – and the other one is a little more whimsical. I took them at the end of yet another trip to the Leslie Street Spit, and I was hoping that this one would finally do what I wanted.

After looking through my photos of the bricks on white, I knew that I needed one outlier to show the environment that they were from. Those contextless Lakefill photos needed something to tie them back to the place, to explain how they could be so different and why those differences were important. I had made three previous trips to the Spit to find that kind of an image and none of them worked. By the time I made this fourth trip I was seriously considering finding someone in the nearby marinas who could take me out to photograph this shoreline from the water.

I don't really think that idea would have worked, either.

This photo – see it bigger – sums it up perfectly for me. It's a brick with words, including the name of my favourite colour, and it's exactly what I would have included in the project if I had found it last summer. It was lying less than fifty meters from where I took the Lakefill photos, and the photo shows one of the two beaches that I pulled material from. The pretty one, naturally, without all of the ugly rebar tangled around, but that's not dishonest. I took my fifteen or twenty photos, put away the camera, and headed home.

I never did bother asking about chartering a boat – but I did go back one more time.


Lakefill 2011

My Lakefill project from last summer is now complete.

"Lakefill 2011" consists of eighteen images which are available as artist-signed 8.5x11" prints, with an approximate image area of 8x10", either individually or as a complete portfolio. All of the details are on my other website.


Quiet Please, Cinema

A little change of pace.

These photos were taken with my newest acquisition, the legendary Nikon F5. It's not the last film camera they made, or even their last pro film camera, but it is unquestionably their best. Every top-of-the-line body that Nikon has built since then is a direct descendent from the F5, and it set the pattern for every other Nikon camera as well.

The change of pace is more than a different camera, though.

I've had a minor burst of creativity as I prepare for my next day trip to Manhattan and Coney Island. Trying new combinations, learning the gear, making sure my sunblock won't melt the rubber on the camera – not a joke, it happened to me last year – has had me out with the camera a lot recently. But with the trip only two weeks away, now it's time to put down the camera, recharge, and refocus.

My new concentration is on post-processing. I've been working with the newly-D800-compatible DxO Optics trial on some of my favourite recent images, both to find out if it's worth the extra time, effort, and $200US, as well as to get all of my workflow ducks in a row before I try to squeeze 1500+ photos through this digital toothpaste tube. If the results are interesting then I'll post them here.

There is some new material still to come, though. I have about four days' worth of work to scan in a couple more rolls of film, and I'm also working through the roll of XP2 that has the RC Harris photos on it. Plus I'm hoping to have a happy announcement in the next day or two…

Busy times.



I realize that construction crews purposely stack empty pipes by the side of the road to distract photographers, but it's almost impossible to avoid the trap. I suppose mice must feel the same about those wood and wire serving trays that they keep finding cheese on.


Lamps and Sign

More from under the expressway.

I'm working with some new software, and what it can do for tones and details is pretty amazing. I'm not thrilled that it adds a half-dozen steps to the process, but considering my hours-long import times with Lightroom Four, I don't think it costs me much time. And I like the results so much that I'm going back to older photos to rework them.



With a free afternoon and four cameras in my bag, I can go anywhere I want and photograph anything in the city. So naturally I ended up underneath an expressway.

Multiple levels, buildings stacked up, and odd quasi-abandoned spaces in the core of the city: it actually reminded me a lot of Chicago. Toronto is concrete to Chicago's steel, but the echoes were right.


RC Harris Outtakes

From inside the pump house, showing the areas roped off to keep visitors from mingling too closely with the pumps. The sign on the wall warns people from remaining in the area for more than 30 minutes to limit noise exposure. This kept the crowds away, which is why I spent so much of my visit there. (With hearing protection.)

This is inside the filter building, which is the one that doubles as prisons and headquarters for evil organizations in all of the movies and TV shows. It's a very pretty building built with an eye to symmetry, but I didn't find much reason to linger here.

I like having my little Canon S100, which is one of the best compact cameras ever made. But it really doesn't compare to the bigger gear, and its photos don't usually make it very far.


Worn Metal

Some of the last of my digital photos from the RC Harris plant – I still haven't developed the film that I shot there. I'm part-way through the second roll of film with my F5, and if the rain eases off at some point this weekend, I might just get out to finish it.

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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