Two different portraits I took of my friend William, who toured me around Toronto on Sunday of my weekend visit. Both were taken at the Distillery District, one black-and-white, the other, color. I cropped the black-and-white one because there was some lens flare in the upper corner, and I think the vertical crop is not only complimentary to a portrait in general, it is flattering to the sitter.
Both images, of course, were shot on my Rolleiflex. It makes for a great environmental portraiture camera. One of these days I’m going to get the Tele-Rollei to do some tighter head shots, but for now, this is just fine. The b/w image was shot on Kodak Tri-X, and the color on Kodak Ektar 100. I’m normally brand agnostic when it comes to film – I shoot whatever produces the look I like. For a slower b/w emulsion, I’m happy with Ilford FP4+, and for a really slow emulsion, Ilford PanF. For years, until they discontinued it, I was a huge fan of Fuji Reala when it came to color. Since it went away, I’ve shot Kodak color emulsions almost exclusively, though. I used to like the super-saturated colors in Fuji slide films, but now I prefer a somewhat more subtle palette, which I get from Ektar (which is still a saturated, contrasty emulsion) or even moreso from Kodak Portra (mostly Portra 160, but the 400 and 800 also have their uses).
Lest you get the idea that I travel to and photograph completely depopulated urban areas, I thought I’d do a feature on people in urban areas, doing things. Part of the reason I don’t have many photos of people out in public is, believe it or not, I’m shy behind my camera. I’m working on getting better at taking people’s pictures that I don’t have a relationship with.
I saw this young man on the street, playing with his phone. I liked his look and wanted a candid shot. I think it worked.
Two young women buying gelato bars from a vintage canvas-top delivery truck. The truck is almost a scooter it’s so small. I wouldn’t want to be the ice cream vendor, having to stand stooped over under the cover all day. Unless I were Peter Dinklage, then I would fit comfortably. But if I were Peter Dinklage, I’d have better things to do with my time than selling ice cream bars. Like trying to manage the kingdom without getting killed by my sister.
I’m seeing more cities installing public plazas like this where they close off part of a street, put in plants and chairs, and turn the area into a social space for people to relax and interact. The most notable example is parts of Broadway off of Times Square and Herald Square in New York City. Here is a spot in Toronto where they’ve adopted the same idea – obviously successful, from the napping young man. You can see a tiny piece of the Scotiabank Theater in the upper left of the image, which is where I went to my international short films screening at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival).
I had shown this before, in my color series about the Distillery District. Here it is again, from a different angle, in black-and-white. The distillation sculpture draws people in and encourages interaction, both under and around it. It also makes a great focal point for the Distillery District space – you can always tell someone “meet me at the sculpture in an hour” and you won’t get lost trying to reconnect.
Some random photos of the buildings and spaces at the Distillery District in Toronto.
The central plaza in the middle of the distillery district is occupied by this interpretive sculpture designed to reflect the history of the complex, and provide a focal point for people to converge upon. I don’t know how comfortable it would be to sit beneath it; while it certainly provides shade, all that copper would make for a terrific radiator on a summer day.
I went for a more abstract look with this composition – this is about angles and forms, and visually leading lines. The structure is a chute used to move barrels of liquor from the top floor of the distillery to the waiting trucks to be loaded and sent out.
The sign of the distillery still graces the covered walkway between two brick and stone structures in the distillery complex.