170922 Theta Nights - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

There's an engaging and temporary art installation within the University of Toronto that involves putting security mirrors flat on the ground, where they reflect the surrounding trees and sky. First I stopped to admire them, appreciating the pause of the unexpected in my routine and enjoying the different perspective they supplied. Then I looked around to appreciate the scope and idea of the installation, and watch how other people were responding and interacting with it. 

Sticking the Theta to the middle of a mirror and seeing what the results looked like was my third thought. 

Spherical photos offer a lot of possible interpretations. The first image is the 'mirror ball' projection, and it's my favourite edit of the Theta file. It makes for a neat and economical print when it's put on a page with a lot of white space, and that also really brings out the eye-like nature of the concentric rings. I'm looking forward to hearing what the photographers at the Focal Forum think of it. And I'm trying to decide what size of mirror I'll buy so that I can run around Toronto making a whole series of these.

The second image is a 'little planet' projection created from the same file. It has its charms, but this style stretches the edges and asks a lot from the already over-worked pixels. 

And here's a third treatment of the same basic photo, where I've left the image 'flat' instead of putting it through a 360 projection. This time I've cropped the top and bottom slightly to remove the most distorted bits, but you could join the left and right ends to imagine standing within this scene as a cylinder.

The waviness comes from the camera being slightly askew. I could fix it, but prefer the extra emphasis of the unreal effect it has here. And because this photo left me nowhere to hide, I'll point out that I'm sitting on the bench that's at the far right side of this photo – its position varies in the other two.

One of the reasons why I had my Theta out was to take some photos of Robarts Library before they cut down more tress and build more building. People have mixed opinions on Robarts as architecture, but I like it as a monument, and am sad to see this edifice of brutalism being modernized. These photos are mostly intended for Google Maps / Street View, but occasionally I like one of my basic documentary photos enough to set it aside here as well.

And to prove to myself that I don't need a convex security mirror to take photos that I like, this has turned out to be one of my very favourite photos from last night. To say that it looks nothing like the original scene outside of Kee's food truck on St. George is almost an understatement, except that SUV parked just below 9-o'clock really was that improbable colour. I've taken its post-processing to a whole new level of persnicketiness, far more than the few pixels really justify, but it makes me happy. I've also made a small print of this image, and plan on hanging it up at my work.

Perhaps it will start some conversations.


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