Convenience Stores – Introduction

Toronto is a city made up of many neighbourhoods. And most of these neighbourhoods still have their convenience store.

We can all remember a few of our past experiences with our local convenience store when we were growing up. It was a short walk or bike ride away, a place to meet up with friends, a confectionary store where we could spend our allowance or pocket money.

I am embarking on a mission to photograph many of the local convenience stores in Toronto, and present them in a photographic style that I am experimenting with. My first two images are included in this post, and I hope to add to this collection in the coming months.

I would also like to learn more about how these stores can continue to survive in today’s environment of rising real estate values, large chain stores and the continued reliance on cars as the primary means of transport.

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Sunshine Convenience
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Iren’s Grocery

Toronto Storefronts as Art

I have been experimenting lately with a technique in Photoshop on some images of storefronts. The technique involves creating a “cartoon-like” black and white image with black outlines and shading, and then selectively re-introducing colour back into the image.

My first series of images focuses Toronto storefronts. These are small businesses that I usually just stumbled across while walking along the street. Each storefront has something unique that made it worthwhile to capture.

Each image has been framed using an outline, shape, pattern or colour that is derived from the storefront. For example, I found a background of bats to include with the image titled Protected by Witchcraft, as there are bats depicted in the sign above the shop. In The Lucky Spot, I framed the image with a white ring as a play on the word “spot.”

Each storefront has a door, which is my pretext for posting these images on a Thursday in order to participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors blog.

I plan on creating more Storefront Art images in the future, so please follow along on my Flickr site or stay tuned for another blog post. Any and all comments are welcome.

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The Lucky Spot
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BBQ Express
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The Pomegranate
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Protected by Witchcraft

Sketches of Bloor West Village, Toronto

This post is intended to demonstrate examples of another Photoshop technique that I am experimenting with. I have used filters to transform a photograph into a charcoal sketch, and then re-introduced some colours from the original photo.

I live in Toronto near the Bloor West Village. The “village” is a linear segment of Bloor Street West which is full of small shops and businesses, extending between the Runnymede and Jane subway stops. The storefronts are quite uniform, basically a series of two-storey attached buildings, constructed in the first half of the 20th Century. Redevelopment projects have not affected the commercial streetfront yet, although there are several mid-rise development proposals under review. The City of Toronto is currently undertaking an avenue study with a public consultation process, which will be completed in 2018. The City wants to encourage higher density development along existing subway lines, but this will radically change the existing streetscape.

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Baka gallery and cafe

Green grocers are great locations to shoot, as the fresh produce spills out the front door onto the street. Some shoppers stop to view or select the fresh fruit and vegetables, while others try to find their way past all of the obstacles. Most of these images were made on a day when Bloor Street was closed to traffic for a community event – hence the abundance of pedestrians and the absence of cars parked beside the curbs. It also meant that I didn’t have to dodge any cars while standing in the middle of the street!

One of these green grocers just closed this winter – another example of why you need to shoot now rather than wait for another opportunity. It may never be the same when you return.

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green grocer no. 1
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green grocer no. 2
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green grocer no. 3

 

Thursday’s Special – Traces of the Past Y4-01

I have been working on some images from a walking holiday along the Scottish Borders almost three years ago. By coincidence, these tie in nicely with this week’s Lost in Translation theme of Traces of the Past.

Paula Borkovic posted an image of Melrose Abbey in Scotland. Just downstream along the River Tweed lies Dryburgh Abbey. The abbey is located in a secluded area and is somewhat off the beaten track.

Dryburgh Abbey was founded in 1150 and it was occupied for over 400 years.  It was established by a group of canons from Alnwick Priory in Northumberland, and became the mother house of the Premonstratensian order in Scotland [also known as the Norbertines or the White Canons elsewhere]. The abbey was closed following the Scottish Reformation, and the site remained abandoned until it was purchased in 1780 and converted into a landscape garden. The novelist Sir Walter Scott was buried here in 1832. Parts of the abbey are well preserved, and the daffodils are plentiful in the spring.

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Dryburgh Abbey, Scotland

Further to the south lies Jedburgh Abbey, which is in the centre of Jedburgh and located along the Jed Water. The abbey was founded by a group of French Augustinian canons at about the same time as Dryburgh Abbey. It was established in a prominent location in order to be close to the local king’s palace. This abbey also fell out of use after the Scottish Reformation of 1560, and it was partially dismantled for other purposes. A significant portion of the abbey church remains and is the most visible feature today.

I have been experimenting with the use of textures and other techniques in Photoshop to create a vintage look for these images. I hope that you enjoy them.

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Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland

Experimental Impressionism

I have decided to start on some new directions in my photography for the coming year. To be more precise, perhaps, I am experimenting with different image processing techniques using Photoshop as my primary editing tool.

Today’s image is an attempt at some photographic impressionism, using some of the blur tools in Photoshop. The subject is a narrow laneway in a town somewhere in southern France (likley Arles). The sun was still high enough in the sky to brightly illuminate the buildings in the alleyway, so I wanted to retain some of this brightness, while introducing some mystery and darkness to the outer edges of the image. The vertical blur reflects the direction of the sunlight from above. The archway leading into the alley provides a strong frame around the brighter centre.

I have been following other photographers in WordPress, Flickr and Instagram, and I sometimes find inspiration from their style and techniques. When appropriate, I am quite willing to acknowledge the source of my inspiration. For this particular image, I was influenced by the work of Olga Karlovac.

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French alleyway