Thursday, November 24, 2005

TPMG Photography Club: Gallery Exhibit

"Photography / Community / Spirit"


Canada's largest camera club, the TPMG Photography Club, is pleased to announce its first gallery exhibit - a diverse selection of more than 50 images from its members, covering a vast area of subjects and styles. (For a selection of images, see

"Photography / Community / Spirit" will run from December 20, 2005 to January 22, 2006, at the Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St. West, Toronto. An opening reception will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 20, from 6 - 9 p.m. The public and the media are welcome to attend.

The TPMG Photography Club is just over a year old - but it has grown remarkably over that time. With more than 650 members, it is now the largest photography club in the nation, and may well be one of the largest in the world.

The club's members come from a wide range of backgrounds, and represent a myriad of different approaches to the art of capturing images. Some are professional photographers, armed with the latest digital SLR cameras. The majority are keen amateurs, pursuing photography out of the sheer love of the hobby. One thing they have in common is a desire to share their enthusiasm with other like-minded camera buffs - something the TPMG allows them to do on a regular basis.

The TPMG Photography Club began life in the fall of 2004, with less than a dozen members. Since then, it has blossomed. It now holds weekly shooting events, monthly workshops and print swaps, and has done several out-of-town trips. Just in the last few months, the club has traveled as far afield as Algonquin Provincial Park and New York City, and many places in between.

Some two dozen photographers are contributing to "Photography / Community / Spirit" - for some of them, this will be their first chance to show their work to the larger photographic community, in a gallery setting.

The acronym TPMG reflects the group's origins as the Toronto Photography Meetup Group, part of the popular website, where club members continue to exchange information and post announcements.

Multiple exposure of some of the work

Collage of 36 out of 58 entries

As initiator and one of the organizer doing my first and the club's first gallery exhibition has been less fun then I had hoped. But I know the end result will be worth the effort, the exhibition is going to be great.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Beethoven Frieze play The Boat

Friday night was my first attempt to shoot a band playing in Toronto at this old fish house converted to a nightclub. With very little stage lighting I switched between ISO 400 with flash and ISO 1600 (no flash) with 50mm f1.8 and 100mm f2.0 lens. I was fasinated by the lighting from the disco ball. The two shots below were done with a flash and a long exposure where after the flash fired I moved the camera in the direction of the disco ball. Of course the floating disco ball on the right was put in later.
More of my first attempt

More about the band The Beethoven Frieze

Monday, October 31, 2005


I don't know why but viewing this slideshow makes me smile.

Sorry this slideshow uses javascript and is designed for screens 1024 or wider with a high bandwidth connection

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bath Tub Studio

No money for fancy studio space, no money for gel filters or proper mood lighting? Do you have a bathtub but only use it as a shower? Then I have a deal for you just take one bathtub, some food coloring, a cheap Canadian Tire flood light and a waterproof bag for your camera and you t0 can produce a wonderful array of unique shots!

Disclaimer: Not responsible for leaky waterproof bags and the use of lighting that runs off 110/220 ac or explodes on contact with water!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mount Pleasant Cemetery

The sign says it all, Canada's most famous cemetery.

My first fungas shoot using Canon 100 mm f2.0 prime and a 500D close up lens.

The rest of the pictures are here.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Toronto Zoo and Negative space challenge

I am ashamed to say I haven't been to Toronto's zoo for many a year. It really is a fantastic zoo you can easily spend the whole day and not see everything, you can almost wear out a pair of shoes it covers so many acres. Its located 30 minutes by freeway from Younge and Bloor. I guess it needed to locate so far from downtown Toronto to be able to afford the land.

Anyway I jumped at a chance to join the TPMG photographic club on a Toronto Zoo photography event.

The challenge this week:

We were all taught to 'fill the frame' when it came to composition, how about we break that rule in a creative manner in this week's challenge entitled 'The Negative Space Challenge'.

Your mission this weekend is to use negative space within your composition to give emphasis on your chosen subject. Using the rule of thirds and having a keen eye to spot such images will be the real challenge as we’ll be operating opposite of how our mind works. ... A photoblog site that was recently pointed out to me that uses much of this technique is called "Round Here". It's a great collection of images and I'm sure that looking through the archives will spur your creativity and hopefully will inspire you to go out and try this challenge.

Ryan Tacay

My response:

Besides the bright colors I was trying to capture the precision which each snake wraps itself around the branch, a loop of its body centered as to make a cushioned headrest. The negative space surrounding the snake helps to define the precision of this shape.

The rest of the shots are here:

Not quite the zoo but at the after event dinner I had a chance to try out an idea I have had for sometime now. This shot was captured by having Adam (TPMG organizer) stand close to the screen of a projection TV.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Reflections of Toronto

I am stll looking for that perfect mirror of the Toronto skyline.

That same day I road upfront in the subway train, shooting photos with my 100mm f2 lens at ISO 1600 through muddy glass!

Some more reflections of the Toronto skyline and Toronto underbelly

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Lion and the Butterfly

From the time I was a child I have wanted a pair of stone lions guarding my driveway. Anyway I still don't have a driveway so much for city living.

Here are some photos I took on a TPMG outing to Niagara.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Color and Flight, Fright, Food & Sex

Color vision in our primeval brain helped us to survive, to avoid getting eaten, to identify which animals and plants are edible and which are poisonous, we even used color to help find a suitable mate for reproduction.

No wonder from a young age we are attracted to bright colors. My theory is that when we have a choice of similar images to select from we are pulled to the brightest most colorful images first.

I have gathered a small amount of web statistic data that seem to prove out my rather simplistic theory.

If you want to be part of the experiment then please click-on and enlarge the image that you are first or most attracted to. Yes I know the results are skewed by the experimental setup.

The image on the left is by far the brightest and most colorful of the series. I was trying for a lomo color flash like effect. Darkened edges and saturated and brightened yellows and blues. The effect is not unpleasant but the basic content is the same in all 3 images.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Framed Challenge

Your mission this weekend is to photograph things that are framed by other elements in the picture. It is up to you to find your primary subject and make sure it is framed by its surroundings. This exercise will help you train your eye and ultimately better your composition skills.

As always there's restrictions to this challenge and they are as follows:

  • No Cropping - you have to find the framed subject before taking the picture, not afterwards on your computer screen.
  • Subject must be completely framed all around but not necessarily by the same object.

It's open themed so you can shoot whatever you want, so long as it's framed and follows the restrictions above...

Ryan Tacay

My response

The above photograph is all frames, five frames to be precise. This shot only works because I remembered the Flash Fill Challenge. The rest of the shoot

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Little Italy low angle Challenge

Sneaky Dees a Toronto Landmark

This weeks challenge was to take low or high angle shots but because my knees are shot most of my challenge shots were taken standing looking up high or sitting on the pavement. The location was Little Italy which is a strip of Italian restaurants on College St. West, the neighborhood now days is pretty ethnically still with a fair proportion of Italians. Best calamari at any TPMG event so far.

The picture above was taken after dinner and had to have the signs selectively darkened to show the color better. Rest of the Little Italy pictures

Monday, September 12, 2005

Canon 500D Close-up Lens

Final after almost 2 weeks of waiting my Canon 500D close-up lens arrived from Hong Kong. I shouldn't complain the cost was much lower then I could have brought it locally. With the money I saved I also brought a RC1 remote and a lenspen. I broke even on the lenspen, later found out they are made in Canada so they should actually be less expensive here.

The 500D screws on to the end of my 100mm f2.0 prime lens just like a filter. What it does is to allow you to get much closer to your subject. My 100mm has a minimum focal length of 0.9m with the close-up lens I can move in closer with expanding the object size in the image by about 270%. There are negligible loses in resolution and f stop when compared to placing an extension on the body camera. Also unlike using an extension the auto-focus still works correctly. Downside it only works on one size of lens diameter in this case it is a 58mm.

The kit 18-55 mm lens allows you to get within .28 meters which is at the full 55m zoom actually about the same magnification as the 100mm with the 500D but the quality is not nearly as good and .28 mm is too close a working distance.

If you are using your built in flash remember to remove the lens hood to prevent it from casting a shadow on the subject.

I can't wait to get up and close with nature!

See a comparison with and without the 500D lens

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Black Creek Pioneer Village - Symmetry / Flash Fill Challenge

I missed last week's symmetry challenged so I combined it with this week's flash-fill challenge.

Two Halfs Make a Hole (mirror symmetry)

Mellow Yellow (angular symmetry)

This is the closest to multi-scale symmetry (related to fractals) Example: where magnified shape of the edge of the beach looks similar to the beach shoreline, looks similar to ... the coast line. This type of symmetry really interests me but my close up lens hadn't arrived yet so I could not capture it down to the degree I would have liked to get.

What Sheep Look At (mirror symmetry)

Harvest is Near (fractal symmetry)

Window Into the Past (obvious symmetry)

Some Pictures from this photographic shoot

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Raw and City Night Shots

With all the city lights this 100mm @ f2.2 ISO 200 with a 15 Second exposure appears to be shot at midday not as it was 1 hour after sunset. A plane flying by looks like a film scratch.

So the question of the day is why shoot raw? Some reasons not to shot raw: The file is at least 3 times the size. Your computer has to have more memory and power and disk space. Up to recently MS XP needed a special viewer. Extra steps are needed to process the photos. You need to learn more software. It usually at the end is changed to JPEG format anyway.

Up to last Sunday my laptop was just too old and too short of resources to use Raw. How old? NT OS and no USB port that's how old. Saturday evening it was working. But on Sunday morning the hard drive was going ping ping ping ... The usual fix of rebooting and rebooting just resulted in an system error. More drastic methods such as turning it over and shaking (gently) resulted in the screen blinking off and on. Oh well its only money and a new this time a desktop is almost ready to go. After spending 8 hours loading all my legal software and extra drivers, updating XP security flaws and dumping all those special promotional 6o day free software, then the system crashed while removing the after market firewall and using the XP firewall. I hate bloatware plus I hate MS even though I use it. Anyway the system self repaired by reloading itself over all the updated drivers and such. Shades of the 3 week ordeal of loading MS NT on a "NT compliant IBM laptop". Know only one thing not working and a call to Tech support who if I had followed their instructions would have resulted in the foot being healed and the leg being amputated( I have the log to prove it). Fortunately by not following all their instructions to the letter I removed another usless piece of the manufacturer's software and XP has been working reliably for 4 days now.

So now I have 500 meg of memory, 200 geg hard drive, two dvd/cd read/write drives, plus a cd read only, multiple usb and flash card readers ... and a NEC LCD 17" monitors that is so clear that I am looking at a color slide projector makes my old monitor seem like I was looking through coke bottles, not to mention stereo speakers that make noises for no apparent reason.

MS is actually fully supporting RAW in the future. Presently you can download Microsoft's Raw Image and Thumbnailer Viewer. So now I am ready for Raw. Oh yes had to go down to the Toronto Beaches to supplement my current collection of 4 Raw shots.

A bit of correction makes it look closer to sunset but we lose the fine details of the waves lapping on the rocks.

There is really only one reason to use Raw; its because its the purest form of image that your current camera electronics and software will allow you to record! From when the light hits the lens (maybe before if you are using flash) to when the image shows up on your desktop there are a series of compromises in the signal chain. After the lens the sensor is the first big compromise.

The sensor is the point where the light falling on a pixel is transformed into electrons and accumulated usually as a charge and then read out as a voltage or current. We all know that a image is broken down into pixels but at the sensor each pixel is actually 3 pixels one each with a red, green and blue filter (rgb). Just imagine if we could buy a 24 meg B&W rebel xt, well it would be easy if there were a demand! Because each pixel is broken up into 3 sub pixels the sensor loses 2/3 of the light following on it. Each pixel in the sensor does not have exactly the same sensitivity of it neigbour. Both reducing the noise and the variation of sensitivity between pixels are areas that sensor manufacturers are hard at work trying to improve. On long exposures you might notice a few bright pixels, these are caused by pixels that leak current.

The output from each sub pixel is accessed (read out) is amplified by variable gain amplifier and then converted to a digital number. This number has a precision of x = 10 to 14 bits with a noise level of plus or minus y bits. This noise level is roughly speaking the sum of sensor noise, readout noise, amplifier noise multiplied by the gain of the variable gain amplifier. The gain of the amplifier will increase with ISO setting thus increasing ISO will increases noise.

Patience I have almost got to the RAW part. In the mean time you read this much more complete discussion on RAW from The Luminous Landscape. The camera software takes those x bits per sub pixel and applies some corrections which only the camera software has control over. Next it takes the user selections which includes color conversions, sharpening and lastly output format.

If you select Raw you can bypass all these changes to you image it is important to turn off any spatial filtering (in Canon rebel XT select parameters menu item parameter 2 to turn off filtering) The complete image will now be saved without any additional lose of detail and color information.

If you select JPEG all sorts of spatial and color detail will be lost plus some unwanted artifacts will be added. With JPEG the 3 x bit sub pixal values will be remapped into 3 8-bit bytes using the selected RGB color space. The jpeg compression algorithm will futher mix up the image in subtle spatial ways. Once these spatial details are changed and colors remapped information is lost that can't be recovered!

If you are shooting for the web JPEG is fine but if the work is more important then use RAW that way you can process the images over and over again. As you get newer, better tool you will always have the highest quality original to work from. For anything other then web you should also always work in 48 bit color or 16 bit B&W. Noise filtering and sharpening should be the last step before saving the image in the color format that you are going to be using for printing. In that way you will never lose precision through arithmetic truncation on 24 bit color 8 bit B&W images.

Too bad I focused on the backdrop instead of the pier.

This motion blur unlike the images in previous posting does not give a feeling of motion but gives a ghosting effect. Too bad they are not in white.

As you can see in the image above I am still getting use to the work flow and tool set. I use Raw Shooters Essentials 2005 as my Raw processing package. I find its much easier to use and has a better work flow then Canon's Raw software that came with the camera. People in the know say its one of the best if not the best. Excellent package and so far its free! For the rest I use Picture Window Pro less expensive, not as sophisticated and not as complicated to learn as Photoshop, their website is a very good resource for all things digital photography and color profiles.

One last thing about Raw there has been a call to standardize Raw format, IMHO this will be slow coming, standardized Raw format is almost an oxymoron the whole Idead of Raw is to give the camera owner ability to access the image before it is polluted by layers of conversion software. They may end up standardizing part of raw format but not the manufacturer specific part.

  1. MS raw viewer has a problem with large tiff and some avi files, it locks them and will not unlock them so you can't move or edit them best to dis the tiff viewing function until the next version comes out O well its from MS next generation will be better I hope.

  2. Google has a free program called Picasa which does a nice job of finding, html slide shows, backing up and organizing you photos

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Toronto Brick Works

Most of older Toronto was built from bricks out of this huge derelict factory located at the base of the Bayview extension in the Don Valley. Evergreen has big plans to redevelop the property while keeping the character of the structure. Some more of my Brickworks Photos

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Creative Colour Challenge

This last Sunday the TPMG went to the CNE with a challenge for the day. As I replied to the posted challenge I choose to loosely interpret plaid as a color :) Some more of my photos shot for the challenge.

Challenge by: Ryan Tacay

"In collaboration with the upcoming event at the CNE this Sunday, I've put together another challenge for you guys to participate in. If you choose to accept, your mission this weekend is "The Creative Colour Challenge". In this challenge you will pick a colour of choice and during the event, hunt for shots that display your chosen colour only. Of course there are certain restrictions to make things a bit harder for you so, here are the rules:

1. You can only use one lens during this challenge - focal lengths, aperture etc. can change but you must choose your lens of choice and stick with it.

2. You have to fill your frame with at least 80% of your chosen colour. None of this, "I choose blue and the sky in the background is blue" stuff lol.

3. Whatever colour you pick, you must stick with for the duration of the day – no switching colours mid-way through or jumping between 2 colours just because it presents itself there at your convenience. The point is to move around and hunt so let's get going and work up an appetite 'cause you know we'll be eating again at the end of the day. ;)"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Color is it the same for each of us?

Do we all see colors the same way? The simple answer is no, otherwise why would some people dress in such awful colors. This is not to imply there is anything wrong with the colors of the clothes on this Wards Island clothesline. We also know that some people have various levels of color blindness making it difficult for them to differentiate between colors.

There is often confusion between what we know as color because we can see it with our eyes and the scientific description of color being the wavelength of light in the visible spectrum somewhere in between the short wavelength near-ultraviolet and long near-infrared wavelengths. If a prism was used to split up sunlight the resulting spectrum would look like the diagram below. If we had a light meter to measure the intensity of the light along the x-axis (= wavelength) we would have a spectrometer. The spectrum of the sun is wideband as the sun has light at all wavelengths. If you could look even closer at spectrum you would see very fine peaks and valleys of intensities this is called the fine line spectrum caused by some element of the sun emmitting light. Many sources of man made light but excluding the the good old incandescent light bulb are narrow band emitters having just a few narrow lines in their spectrum, devices such as lasers may have only one narrow line.

What does this have to do with how we see colors, actually very little. Unlike our ears where we can hear minute differences in frequency (1/wavelength), intensity (volume), in pronunciation and in enunciation (sound envelope) our eyes were not designed for such subtle distinction.

Eyes can only detect 3 wide overlapping frequency bands, our brain merges these inputs together to form our perception of color. These 3 bands as every artist knows are the reflective primary colors of red green blue (RGB). The eye can't distinguish between a yellow light and mixed red and green lights. But for the mixed red and green light a spectrum analyser would not measure any yellow! The red and green will not pass through a yellow while the true yellow wavelength light will pass right through. To our eye there are millions of ways to form the same shades of yellow. The brain interprets the colors that eye sees in ways that help us deal and make sense of the environment, the colors and color intensities are relative to the surrounding. A red box surrounded by blue will look to be a different shade when it is surrounds by green. Also the brain interprets colors seperate from outlines. We all know that the brain doesn't care if we color the box and go outside the lines, the box will still look red.

To end this long winded discussion IMHO there is no way that it is possible for each of us to see colors exactly the same way. Also as we don't reproduce colors using the real spectrum of light but instead use an imitation of our own visual system all media will look different from the original scene and also look different to each individual.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Color, Noise and ISO 1600

One of the reasons I choose the Canon XT over other camera manufacturers was because of the lower noise levels at higher ISO numbers. Reviews even said the noise levels were similar but with a different look to the more expensive Canon models.

After my return ferry ride from Sunday's Wards Island trip I decided to take a few early evening shots with my 100mm f2.0 lens. To save the setup of the tripod and also because I had only used it a few times I set the ISO level to the maximum of 1600. In the picture above I was expecdting bright saturated colors but instead they were dull and slightly dirty in a way that could not be corrected with picture window pro (the software I normally use) so much so that I will have to go back and shoot it again with my tripod.

This is a 4x zoom of 4 parts of the top photo: notice the blotchiness of the colors not only in color intensity but in the actual color value. I can attribute some of it to using jpeginstead of raw but I doubt that does much more then smooth out noise spikes. I find the noise more annoying then the graininess of film. Film has most of the noise is uniformly distributed spatially with the noise being primary intensity rather then in color value. Increasing ISO number does not for the most part increase the sensitivity of image sensor it is really only increasing the amplification. Electronic noise causing a lower signal to noise ratio is still the biggest hurdle preventing image sensors from reaching the dynamic range of film. More about color in a future post.

Another Trolly Stop photo

Because color is not so important to the subject matter in this photo I think ISO 1600 is not too bad here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Wrong End of the Stick

You ask why would I show a picture of the backside of a toad. The answer is simple its the best photo I could get. The toad like most wild animals would rather be invisible when it comes to humankind. Rather then put the creature into shock by prodding with my camera lens, I choose not to disturb it, let it believe its camouflage was successfully concealing it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Captured in Motion

This past Sunday I took the ferry over to Wards Island to take a few photos. One of my targets for the day was to capture the feeling of motion. Being of a scientific bent of mind. I asked myself the question: What gives a static photograph the impression of motion? As I am wont to do I will attempt to answer my own question by breaking down and classifying motion in photos into two classes. These two classes are not exclusive both could be combined in single photo. More of Sunday's pictures.

The first class is those photographs that show motion by having motion blur. While a normal photograph is a frozen moment in time. This type of photo has frozen not a single moment but several moments. The photo on the left is the first of my pinhole lens shots that I really like! It was taken at ISO 200 and with a 15 second exposure, it was also very windy so the bushs and tree branches were also in motion. I had to saturate the colors to make the path of the two bicyclists visible. I have subclassed this as a linear motion blur. Another example of linear blur is when the camera is panned to follow a high speed object such as a race car, in this case the race car is fixed in focus while the background has a linear blur.

The photo on the right was taken in a heavy gust of wind with my lens stopped right down to maximum and at ISO 100 for a 2 second exposure. This subclass of motion blur for lack of a better name I will call cyclic motion blur. Cyclic because the object when disturbed oscillates around its at rest point. For an instance at both extents of its travel it stops moving giving it the characteristic of a multiple exposure stop motion strobe effect.

The next class I call perceptual motion. Our brain is hardwired through genetics and through life's teachings that nature has laws; gravity pulls down an object, if an object is past it's center of gravity it will fall over, water can't be put in a pile... We know without thinking that the shirts in the picture are not static but are being blown by the wind. It is not in the nature of a shirt to hang in the way that the photo shows unless there is wind.

Our mind tells us these people are running not standing still. If they were standing still they would be falling over.

This last example of the cyclic motion blur subclass was of an CNE ride at night.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Ignorance - Dynamic Range - Flash Fill In

I find one of the big differences of digital photography as compared to film is the reduced dynamic range of digital cameras. This image of a field bike repair was taken at the Leslie Spit. Notice the bright sunlight reflecting off the cement. I am not happy with the light and dark contrast in the above image.

If the image is too bright to the point that one or more of the color channels are clipped/pegged at its maximum value (which is 1024 for the canon rebel xt). Then areas that are brighter then this max value will lose all of the details. The image on the left has had the brightness increased by 25%.

On the other hand if the image is too dark then the dynamic range of image is reduced and fine detail is lost. Some of the detail can be brought back by digitally enhancing the image in a program like Photo Shop. This is especially true if you are working in raw mode. But fine detail is still lost and noise especially in the dark areas will be increasingly visible. There is a mathamatical basis beyond the scope of this post for this increase in noise and lose of detail.

The answer to getting better contrast is simple but too late for this time around. It was pointed out to me after the fact that I should have used flash fill-in to bring out the dark areas. I knew about flash fill-in but always thought it was used in lower light situations. In general I stay away from using the flash as I usually get glare off a sweating nose or forehead, but in bright sunlight glare shouldn't be a problem. Oh well another reason to buy a remote flash.

Friday, August 19, 2005


One of my major goals in photography is to compose better travel pictures less like tourist snapshots. Looking back on the thousand or more travel pictures I have stored away in boxes I notice many of the scenic shots are quite impressive to my untrained eye but where are all the people? It might be because I am shy and don't want to impose but I very rarely take photos of people.

That has all changed once I joined the Toronto Photography Meetup Group (TPMG). At the TPMG events all the other members are a built in source of people who do not usually mind getting their pictures taken. I can already see improvements in my style and composition. Also I am no longer shy about imposing my camera on people in the street. Most of the time if I ask they are delighted, some are shy, some not.

This is one my earlier shots with my Rebel xt using the kit 18 - 55mm lens. I was lucky to catch the moment of realization that the video phone was not the only camera.

This newer picture was taken at dinner at the Taste of Danforth event. It was shot after dusk without a flash in "natural" patio light with a wide open 100mm f2.0 prime lens ISO 800. I leaned the camera on the table to steady the shot. I am happy with the background composition; the transition from the fence on one side to the hair and to tree bark on the other side.