170219 The Spit - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

The question I have to ask myself occasionally: if I can do anything I want, what do I do?

On Saturday my answer was to visit the Leslie Street Spit. This is probably my favourite non-home place in the world to go and just be. Rubble, water, and a view of the horizon. What's not to like? And in all of the years I've been visiting, this was the first time I remained past sunset. I might have been the only person out there – and it was only 8pm. Amazing.

This was also the first time I had been to the Spit since I became a Thetan – that's what they call owners of the Ricoh Theta, right? – so I brought its underwater case and some weights as well. Bolting that assembly to a brick became a great way to for both it and me to spend some quality time in Lake Ontario, which is still remarkably cold even on a warm February day. Next time I'll bring a rope as well. And a towel.

The Theta photo above might be the only self-portrait I ever post on this blog.

Back on familiar territory with this one: the uncomplaining Fujifilm XT10, my utility camera, doing what it was intended for by hosting my manual-everything Zeiss M-mount lenses. I simply can't resist taking long exposures of water and sky, and the manual lenses and live view made this very easy. As, I must admit, does the interval timer. This leaves me free to do other things – the Theta was also mostly on its timer – which meant using the third camera that I had brought with me. That was the Nikon Coolpix A-IR, which I was using to practice balancing with high-speed flash on a TTL cable. And naturally I didn't have to worry about the flashes messing with my long exposures, as I had masked my SB900 off to only emit infrared light.

Clever me.

The problem with this is that I can't see where the IR flash is hitting, which makes aiming the light somewhat problematic. I want to use this technique for the auto show this year, so the test run has taught be that I need to choose between having at least a sliver of visible (and therefore annoying) flash to help me aim, or continuing to just wing it and hope for the best. Decisions, decisions.

And this is the photo that the Fuji was taking while I was taking the photo of the Fuji. It's a thirty second exposure, facing mostly south-east just after dusk. It's still just a rough edit; I haven't yet decided how bright I want these horizon images to be. The mood changes completely just one stop in either direction. And what I want them to look like will also depend on how I want to present them, which is another decision that I'm not ready for yet.

To be honest all three of these images are out-takes, but I wanted to write these few notes as I come to terms with the results of the day.

Six hours and three cameras with wildly different capabilities, used across the light span from mid-afternoon to as dark as Toronto gets. Almost eight hundred photos creating fifty good candidates and maybe ten standouts, five of which I tend to get lost in for minutes at a time when I look at them. A fraction of that would be an excellent day, so it's entirely possible that novelty and exhaustion have clouded my judgement, but I'm inherently an optimist.


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