Marching Towards Spring
I looked out the sunroom window into the sunlit backyard. Snow mostly gone; exposed grass and mud, lifeless branches, temperature below 0 degrees C. My mind drifted a a few weeks down the road.
Cottage season can’t come soon enough.
But in the meantime...March is here and it can’t make up it’s mind whether it wants to be winter or spring.
March is so fickle.
Oh yeah and then there’s the pandemic. You might have heard. Toronto moves into the “gray” zone on Monday, which is one level better than “stay in your house whenever possible”. The beginning of a very gradual reopening, which could change at any time for the worse.
I didn’t care; I needed to get out. I’m trying to take my camera and myself for a bit of exercise at least every other week. Sometimes an hour, sometimes two.
So, I spent a couple hours at Highland Creek today on the the U of T area north of Old Kingston Road. I hadn’t been that way on past visits. It was good to feel the sun on my face, although that same sun had made much of the pathway a treacherous, ice-covered route. Keeping to the grassy areas where possible, I stopped to capture a small set of rapids.
Other than snow and ice patches, the park environment is mostly varying shades of brown right now.
A little further along on the walk, I could see the entire pathway was nothing but ice. Yeah, I wasn’t going that way. But others did brave the path and I made a few captures, thinking they might be interesting as stock images.
After the people disappeared, I noticed off to my left, a mostly snow/ice-free side trail. I took it.
After capturing some of last autumn’s leaves peeking out of the winter sheath of an ice patch, I made my way up a steep but low hill, devoid of any winter dressing. At the top, I quickly came upon the U of T tennis courts, empty (and locked), but in otherwise pristine condition. The combination of bright sun, vivid colors and strong graphical elements intrigued my eye, and I found myself photographing a subject matter I had certainly not planned to shoot during my walk in the park.
The patterns, shapes and lines of the courts pulled at me, visually. I could not get beyond the frost fencing, so I decided to try to make that diamond grid pattern work with the background. The shapes, shadows and colors on the tennis courts kept me engaged, and I spent a surprising amount of time making pictures from a couple different angles, experimenting with selective focus.
This Old House
Past the tennis courts stood an old, abandoned house on the UofT grounds. It seemed so out of place, this derelict building on university land. There was no indication it had any heritage or historical value; no plaque or signage, and the condition of the house gave me the impression that the university was waiting/hoping it would just fall down at some point. It looked like the perfect spot for a little bistro, with its proximity to the tennis courts.
The bright blue sky and strong side light made it a worthy subject for my camera, the themes of decay and abandonment flitting through my mind. I think some of these photos, from the old house and the tennis courts, will make their way into my Adobe Stock collection.
Into the Woods
As the area grew more crowded and the time turned to near 4pm, I decided it was time to make my way back; I had been out for nearly two hours. As I was walking along the university access road to Old Kingston Road, that strong, low side lighting caught me again, as it rimmed the thin branches of shrubs and the trunks of conifers.
While I exposed these frames to retain shadow detail, I knew when I saw the scenes in front of me, i would be intentionally processing these images to be darker, more mysterious and foreboding. That's how I visualized the compositions; almost like I had just been looking at the sun and then turned my gaze to the shadow-shrouded forest.
The image below, in particular, brought to mind a potential scene from a Stephen King novel, where a sinister voice - real or imagined - can be heard by the protagonist. The gnarled branch look ready to ensnare you and drag you into the depths...
Yep, I've got some dark Covid chaos going on in my mind, boys and girls.