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Leslie Spit Photo Tour

Published August 11th, 2013

My wife and I woke up at four o'clock this morning to bike an hour to Leslie Spit, a manmade spit off of Toronto's East End. We got to watch the sunrise and took some really fun photos.

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Photo Walk Downtown Toronto

Published July 28th, 2013

I've been feeling a little down lately, so I decided to get out of the house for a day and walk all around downtown Toronto and take some photos. I desperately tried to do some "Street" photography, but I'm just too shy. Instead I stuck to flowers and inanimate objects.

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Cat Eyes Before & After

Published August 26th, 2012

The cats were in a pretty loving mood when we returned from our week-long trip to the Maritimes. I managed to get a few captures of them before they returned to their usual, troublesome selves.

This one is my favourite shot; they don't tend to sleep on the bed at the same time. I did a lot of work in Photoshop to bring out the eyes and face of the black and white one.

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Playing with Fire

Published August 26th, 2012

During my recent trip to New Brunswick, I was looking forward to try and reproduce this shot of a campfire, one of my favourite shots on 500px. There is not exactly a lot of space to make a fire in Toronto, let alone photograph it before being cited for having no campfire permit, so I was really looking forward to my first attempt at photographing flame.

I took dozens of captures and was pretty pleased with them at the time. When I finally got them onto a computer, I wasn't as happy. Again, what I was trying to get in focus was a little too fuzzy for what I was going for. This lead to some creative use of the crop tool.

This is my favourite capture so far. I've used two different processing approaches and I'd like feedback on them both.

At first, I tried cropping out all but the embers, which I liked. Adam pointed out, however, that he would have liked to see where the fire was going. I liked this idea, too, and went on to remove some background distractions. Since I was removing di ...

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Getting better at Photoshop

Published August 2nd, 2012

I've been trying to improve my processing and photoshop skills lately, and the videos by Aaron Nace of Phlearn on the 500px blog are helping a lot. I tried the most recent tutorial this morning, and in about two minutes of photoshop, I was able to dramatically improve one of my photos.

This took a very little amount of effort, but I just didn't know what I was doing. And now I do :)

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Honest Ed's Photo Walk

Published July 29th, 2012

My friend Debbie and I did a photo walk through Honest Ed's last week. We got some froyo afterwards (necessary to recover from the sheer existential horror of all those amazing deals) and were joined by my wife for some nighttime shots of the outside of the building.

Honest Ed's markets itself as a "World-Famous Bargain Centre", though I hadn't heard of it prior to Toronto. I live a few blocks away from the store. It's been a part of Toronto for over sixty years, and the late owners were very philanthropic to the city.

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Pushing Things Further

Published July 15th, 2012

I've begun playing around with Black and White effects on my photos. My friend Tom has suggested pushing things even further, and has given me some tips on how to achieve certain effects in Photoshop.

What I like about Black and White is the ability to draw attention to certain aspects of a photo by removing unnecessary details (like, say, colour). Roland Shainidze has also been doing some amazing work in removing details from photos.

I am experimenting with taking things further than I have - to push the boundaries of what it means to be a photograph versus what it means to be art. I'm not terribly interested in keeping my photographs "pure" or anything, since I'm using photography as a means of creative expression.

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University of Toronto Night Shots, Before & After

Published July 4th, 2012

Please vote for the "after" shots :)

This is a shot I took around 11pm on the University of Toronto St. George campus. The building is still under construction and looks very modern. I used Lightroom 4 for some exposure correction, Topaz DeNoise 4 for noise reduction, Photoshop for perspective correction, and Silver Efex Pro 2.

I'm working hard on my post-processing techniques, so I'm looking for feedback on post processing more than capture technique, but any feedback would be really valued!

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Distillery District Photo Walk

Published July 2nd, 2012

These photos were taken with Caroline McGregor and Rick Weiss last weekend in Toronto's Distillery District. TD's Jazz Fest was also going on, and those concerts were the majority of my subjects (though I couldn't help but take a few shots of some buildings).

I had a great time and a great dinner in the Distillery District and the accompanying walk back to Union Station. Lots of new ideas for photos and the whole day really got my creativity flowing again after a draining flight back from San Francisco.

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Blue Bottle Coffee

Published June 22nd, 2012

Blue Bottle Coffee's Mint Plaza location has an amazing slow-brew drip setup. Every morning they set up this drip process that takes twenty hours to drip a few litres of cold water through grinds and a filter. The next day, they sell it mixed with ice cubes. Delicious.

The setup is beautiful, with brass fittings and wood holsters. They were kind enough to let me take a few photos. Honestly, I could have stayed there a lot longer, but they had customers to serve, after all.

If you're ever in SOMA, I highly recommend you go check them out. If you love coffee, you won't be disappointed.

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Casa Loma Fountain

Published May 30th, 2012

Yeah, so composition not really interesting here. It's hard to get something so large, surrounded by other people taking photos, in frame and compose it in an interesting way.

The really hard part was, since it was such a large subject, getting simple compositions perfect was really hard, and it shows where I got it wrong.

These aren't, say, my best shots, but I had a lot of fun, which is really the whole point :)

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Photo Walk in High Park

Published May 21st, 2012

Yesterday, Ashley and I took advantage of the beautiful weather for a walk in High Park. We went around sunset, since I'm trying to learn how to use light in my photography better. The sky was still too bright to properly expose in the woods, but too dark in the woods to not have a tripod (luckily we brought mine).

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Cat Shots

Published May 21st, 2012

Since Evgeny apparently doesn't like my cat shots, I thought I'd post them in a story instead.

Not necessarily artistic or even good photos, these are of one of my cats. Shooting indoors, in a basement, without flash means I usually shoot at ISO 1600 and even then, I can only get 1/20 shutter speed with a pretty wide aperture.

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Raven Graffiti

Published May 20th, 2012

Graffit on a back alley just north of Bloor St. and East of Christie.

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ADay Shots

Published May 20th, 2012

On May 15th, members of the 500px office helped photodocument the world as part of the project. My shots are up at to be archived, but I thought I'd showcase some here, too.

Shots are all super grainy because I forgot to reset ISO from 1600. Whoops. I think that's a mistake you only ever make once.

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Photo Walk in Scarborough Bluffs

Published May 5th, 2012

Took these last weekend with some friends at the Bluffs Park. Had a lot of fun; it was a great afternoon.

Circular Polarizing Filter was a must with a lot of these. This is also the first time I used my new (not that bright) telezoom, which is why I brought a tripod.

Since the photos were taken at 2-4pm, a lot of work had be done in post and unfortunately, I had more than a few photos I couldn't fix.

As always, feedback is more than welcome :)

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Photo Walk to the Lake Ontario Toronto Shoreline

Published April 22nd, 2012

Here's part II of the photo walk with Ryan, mostly shots from the shoreline (here's part I). Met some nice ducks and another photographer down there.

It was really challenging light, and most of the 430 shots I took turned out either under or over exposed. I'm holding out hope for a few of them and might most more later in another story. I did see some other cool places to take night shots with my tripod (which I didn't have with me).

I learnt a lot about aperture in bright light and moving subjects. So far, most of my subjects have been still, so it was a new dimension for me as a photographer.

It was a great walk and I learnt a lot. Looking forward to doing more of these this Summer :)

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Photo Walk around Downtown Toronto

Published April 22nd, 2012

Headed out with my friend Ryan for a photo walk around downtown. Splitting it up into two stories.

This is the first photo walk I've done with another photographer, and the first shoot I've used my new circular polarizing filter. The weather was, frankly, pretty shitty. We headed out too early, about 4pm, on a highly overcast day. It was also pretty chilly, so we cut it off around 8.

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Trip to Cupertino

Published April 14th, 2012

I went down to California for 4 days last week; regretfully, it was rainy most of the time I was there. I got a few decent shots, mostly of the hotel's water fountains.

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Night/Day Comparison

Published April 7th, 2012

Even though I know my neighbourhood really well, I wanted to test some shots that I wanted to take at night, but during the day.

These aren't all fantastic, but I've tried to critique what about the day shots makes them bad *because* they were taken during the day and fix them.

Hope you like it - I had a lot of fun collecting these. As always, feedback is more than welcome!

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Photos of Ashley

Published April 6th, 2012

During our walk to the ROM today, I took a lot of shots of Ashley, which is my first attempt at seriously portraiture. Playing with the sun was hard, and it was about 3:00pm, so the light was hard to work with. It was windy, and I tried to have some fun with that and her hair. I like the results, but I'm biased.

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Photo Walk to the ROM

Published April 6th, 2012

Ashley and I took a few hours to walk along Bloor to the Royal Ontario Museum today. I took quite a few shots, and these are my best ones.

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City Market Shots

Published April 6th, 2012

Since I took the (somewhat infamous) photo of the tomatoes at the village market, I've got a lot of feedback on photography.

Post-processing is kind of useless if you don't capture good photos in the moment. This story is all about how, while Ashley was busying buying strawberries for breakfast, I tried to use what every - particularly Diana and Adam - have taught me about photography over the past two weeks to photograph, review, and re-take. I'm really happy with the final result, and I thought I'd share the process that got me there.

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Evening out with a Tripod

Published April 3rd, 2012

So I bought a tripod and I thought I'd use it. We got home and grabbed my gear and Ashley and I went out to try to catch some daylight, but it was too late. We got to Christie Pits as the Sun moved permanently behind some thick clouds. Still, had fun a learnt a few things, I think. Had a lot of fun in the backyard with 30-second exposures. I think I'd like to go back to the park at night, with company, and take some night shots.

Trying to critique my own photos a bit more. I wouldn't call these good photos; they were results of some explorations I made as I'm getting a feel for the camera and lenses. Any feedback is still super welcome, though :)

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More Photos from Around Toronto

Published March 31st, 2012

So I've got my Rebel XSi, my 50mm Sigma f/1.4, and Adam's 18-135 zoom lens and I'm out and about around Toronto. I got a lot of feedback on my last story and on the photos I posted last week, and I'd like to thank Adam, Tom, Diana, Megan, Evgeny, Oleg, Sam, Debbie, and anyone else I've forgotten. I really appreciate all of your super-helpful critiques!

I've taken when I've learnt and gone back to some old shots to redo them, as well as take some new photos using some techniques my friends taught me. I'm looking forward to your feedback!

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First Night out with a DSLR

Published March 21st, 2012

I decided to buy a camera and Adam was kind enough to lend me his DSLR so I could get a better idea of what I was looking for. He gave me a good primer on the basic controls, and then I took some photos.

This is the first time I've ever tried to take photos for the express purpose of taking good photos. So naturally they're mostly my cats. It's also the first time I've ever handled a DSLR and one of the first times I've ever done anything but the most basic of photo adjustments.

I want to hear what you think - tips, improvements, suggestions. Just be gentle :)

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New Year's Resolution: Great-Tasting Coffee

Published January 18th, 2012

I've had a superb coffee setup for over 6 months now, but I was still not happy with my results. They were inconsistent and, more often then not, kind of crappy. I was getting better shots at the office with an inferior espresso setup, but with the same beans. Something was up!

So over the Christmas break, I decided to get better at espresso. Since I was at home most days, I was pulling three or four shots within a short timespan. This let me reflect on what I did wrong and make incremental improvements (since by the next day, I had forgotten all the lessons I had learned from yesterday's shot).

In this post, I step through each step of the espresso process, encompassing the 4 M's:

1. Mano dell'operatore (hand of the operator)

2. Macinadosatore (grinder-doser)

3. Miscela (blend)

4. Macchina espresso (espresso machine).

Some of the photos show my machine covered in old backplash. It looks like I don't take care of it, but I do. After cleaning it, it looks great for about two sho ...

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New Office

Published November 17th, 2011

We've been pretty excited about the new office for a long time. Since Evgeny and Oleg signed the lease, it's been about all we could talk about on our way to Starbucks.

On Monday, we assembled 16 desks, a few couches, and some other furniture. Adam and I staked out what we're calling an "iOS Development Den." Finally, we got the confirmation yesterday that the chairs were arriving this morning :)

Today was, as Tom put it, new office Christmas.

I was awake shortly after 6. I couldn't get back to sleep.

Every time I change offices, my commute becomes shorter and shorter. I now take the Bloor-Danforth over a whole subway stop (so lazy) to transfer to the Southbound Spadina 510.

I've prepared tea equipment, fresh roasted coffee, and my backup grinder for work tomorrow. As good as Dark Horse was this morning, it's just too far of a walk for a cup of coffee.

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Latte Pouring

Published November 8th, 2011

I've been seriously into coffee for a few years now, and I used to use my inadequate equipment as an excuse for not being able to pour a beautiful latte or cappuccino. Now that I've got decent hardware capable of steaming perfect milk and pulling a perfect shot, my only excuse was laziness.

So a week ago, I read up on how to pour latte art and have been practicing every day with my morning latte. Here are some of the results :)

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New & Old Espresso Machine Side-by-Side

Published October 20th, 2011

This is a side-by-side comparison of my old and my new espresso machines. The old machine is on the left, new on the right.

The Old

I had a Breville 800 ESXL consumer machine that retails for about $400. I threw away the stock portafilter baskets and replaced them with non-pressurized versions, which required some adjustments to the grouphead.

This machine uses a thermoblock for heating both steam and espresso brew water. This yields inconsistent temperature and pressure. It also has a built-in pre-infusion cycle, which I don't care for.

The New

This summer, I bought the Anita by Quick Mill. It's relatively unmodded, though I've adjusted the overflow valve to get ~10 bar pressure when pulling a shot (I like ristrettos). I also have VST precession portafilter baskets.

The Anita is a low-end professional machine designed for light use in a coffee shop. This is a machine uses a heat exchanger, which took some getting used to :) Moving to the Anita meant my coffee got *worse* until I ...

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