170115 Institutions - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

This weekend I did something that thousands of people have done, and that I've done before, but not for a long time. Well, two things, I suppose, if I count taking self-conciously 'arty' photos of the Art Gallery of Ontario's self-conciously iconic staircase.

I have once again bought myself an annual membership to the AGO.

It has been a couple of years since I had unfettered access to the art on display, and I've missed seeing some of it. And as much as I continue to enjoy exploring the more photographer- and family-friendly Royal Ontario Museum, the AGO contains a different kind of intellectual and creative energy. There's room for both, even though I know the ROM will remain my main interest.

While the ROM likes its staircases on straight planes and occasionally quirky angles, the AGO likes curves and windows. The photo without the preponderance of tall buildings includes the one where I make my home, although it's so small there's no way to see it. The other photo, with the bulk of the city skyline, is missing a building so tall that it's something of a signature. I wouldn't have been able to place the seam in the window so exactly if I had tried – to be honest, all I was checking with the Theta's remote viewfinder was that I was safely hidden in the shot.

Another thing that I just did, and something that I probably haven't done before, is visit both the ROM and the AGO in the same weekend. In the afternoons for each, no less – normally I try to avoid the crowds by going on Friday mornings. But if I had done that then I would have missed the person photographing the building and his partner with a Nikon 14-24 lens, which prompted me to break out the Theta again even though I had already started walking home.

I just couldn't understand why someone would use a lens that long – though here my fellow photographer is so small as to be almost invisible.

My Theta still gets used more than any other camera, so that's one habit from 2016 that I'm not quite ready to give up yet. Occasionally it produces really extraordinary photos; intermittent reinforcement is a powerful force. I still have a lot of work to do to learn how to use it and predict its results, but at least now I have a second large cultural institution to practice on.


Powered by SmugMug Log In