Summer is here and every small town around here seems to get a week-end visit from a nomadic fair. A few rides, some games of chance, the haunted house, a beer tent and of course candy floss… all flowing out of cleverly designed semi trailers arranged to form an oasis of bright lights and loud music in an otherwise empty field at the edge of town. In harsh daylight, the illusion doesn’t work, they are just garish facades, devoid of customers, the bored carnies the only inhabitants. But when the sun goes down the illusion begins to work and they fill with locals teens hoping for escape, excitement and love. Cue the Twilight Zone music…
Have you gone to one of these recently? Have you looked really closely at the imagery presented? They make me think back to the stories I grew up with… of Pinocchio kidnapped and enslaved in a child’s circus… of Grimm’s fairy tales about witches, trolls, kidnapping, cannibalism and death (they were grim alright)… of clowns that were more creepy than funny… a far cry from today’s innocent childrens’ stories. These local fairs seem to me to harken back to that time of blacker tales. With this in mind, I set out to capture some of the sights of the local Caledon Fair with a noir-ish twist…
When you think of downtown, you think of the theatre district, Bay St., and skyscrapers, right? I find these things interesting, especially the strong lines of the office towers.
But I find it hard to get in close for the kind of detail shots that give some personality to these places. Up close, they are pretty sterile. So it is that I find myself spending most of my time walking and photographing the other side of downtown. The older, low-rise, full-of-character side of downtown.
Touring some of the Contact venues along Queen West with friends a couple of weeks ago, I saw a number of photographers that used colour overlays in their work. Some of these, I thought, were quite spectacular. Well, the wheels in my head started turning and by the time I got home that evening I had resolved to do some experimenting with this technique. Here are a couple of photos from abandoned homes I visited this past winter with my colour experiments applied. In both I deliberately use a combination of warm and cool colours, applying them to a black and white conversion.
A week or so ago I took a group of photographer friends on a tour of Contact venues along Queen West. Being photographers, we of course had our cameras with us. Walking with this group and watching as they found and composed shots made me aware of the different ways we each view and photograph the world around us. It also made me more aware of my own approach to finding interesting photo opportunities. In particular, I noticed that I spent a great deal of time looking up, looking down and turning to look back at what I had passed, sometimes looking at the small details, sometimes the bigger view of how shapes interact. In the small detail area, I passed a bicycle chained to a post and seeing a card in the spokes, I went to the street side of the bike for a closer look.
In the “bigger view” category, when we were wandering through a neighbourhood just south of Queen I looked up and noticed the really interesting pattern of cloud overhead. A nearby school building would provide some interesting angles and “anchor” the sky shot. I tried to get it at an angle that complemented the lines in the clouds. I cloned out the inevitable power lines (too distracting) to come up with this:
In the same area we happened on an old factory that had some corroded dust cyclones on the side of the building. The sun was shining on a tree nearby, so I thought I would try to juxtapose nature and industry, shadow and sunlight. In post-processing, I added a blurred, desaturated effect to the cyclones to exaggerate the difference.