160626 BTC Mono Cliffs - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Last week was my third hike with the Toronto Bruce Trail Club, one of the member clubs of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which itself is a charitable organization building a conservation corridor and hiking trail along the escarpment from Niagara to Tobermory. My favourite person and I are among its 9000 members, and have been taking the opportunity to get out of the city with the Toronto club's bus hikes. These photos are from Mono Cliffs provincial park and Splitrock, which is one of their newer land acquisitions.

The photo above, from a lookout point in Mono Cliffs, is a stitch from many frames from my Nikon V1. It's a lousy camera, but it does the job, occasionally. The photo itself is fairly pointless, in that it has no particular subject, but it was a pretty view. Despite carrying the cameras I'm not really there for photos.

This is Mono Cliffs, upside down. I walk with a hiking stick to take some of the pressure off of my knees, which means I'm often using the camera left-handed. It's easier to do that when it's also upside-down. Usually I'll flip the photos around as soon as I import them into Lightroom, but this one caught my attention and I liked it better this way.

I'm developing a new appreciation for small cameras that can be used one-handed. I'm also continuing to enjoy the infrared part of the spectrum, which feels like it captures the heat of the day and the shadows of the forest better than colour.

This is the cliff-edge forest along the Splitrock side trail. The land is away from the main course of the Bruce Trail, but was easily the best part of the hike, and well worth the diversion. Since then – last weekend – I've been reading through The Last Stand, an engaging book about the old-growth forest along the cliff edges, and have gained an entirely new appreciation for this kind of terrain. 

I was anticipating the excellent exercise and enjoying being able to get out of the city, but the amount that I would want to learn as a result of joining the club has been a surprise.

And of course there's the eternal lesson of photography: never put the camera away just because you think you're done. This photo is a combination of ten frames taken at Yonge and York Mills, between the school bus that dropped us off and the subway home. Vultures were riding the afternoon thermals, so the little V1 was called into service again.

I've never seen vultures in the wild before, even if 'the wild' is above the intersection of two six-lane roads, and while they're certainly impressive they're not particularly pretty. I have some close-ups of one preening in the mirrors of a building's windows to prove it. Maybe those will make their way here some day as well.


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