190519 Storm - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

High water levels and wind meet long exposures. The inundated pier at the foot of Spadina being a five-second exposure, and the tree at Hanlan's Point is a half-second. I'm playing with a new set of Nisi square filters, and I'm pleased to say that rain and spray just wipes right off the front of them.

Of course the filters don't come with windshield wipers, so water that accumulates during the exposure sticks around. This photo, taken while the camera was sheltering behind a bench with its seat in the foreground, is three half-second shots stacked together for deeper focus. Targets were the bench seat, wooden dock, and the concrete wall that shelters the ferry dock, with some waves chosen from different layers for dramatic effect because they're all a little blurry anyway.

My inclination is to drag the shutter for as long as possible, but in this case the super-smooth look doesn't convey the mood. This one at thirty seconds could just be a rainy day, instead of the reality of waves breaking across the water taxi dock, driven by seventy kilometre per hour winds coming across the short distance of the inner harbour.

Happily the low clouds let me skirt the Toronto Photography Regulations that require the entire CN Tower in any image of the skyline.

So here's a more How It Felt photo with a four-second exposure. I swear I didn't knock down the barricade for the sake of the photo, but it is suspicious that it fell toward the incoming wind and waves, instead of away. 

One final photo from my brief, cold, and windy Mother's Day trip to the waterfront, It's not even a long exposure – 1/640s of the Ongiara off of the Hanlan's Point dock. This is from my other camera; when I go the harbour I like to use the XH1 on the tripod with the 16-55, and keep the 55-200 on the XT2 for birds, boats, and airplanes. 

Total time on the island was barely over two hours, which was just long enough to start getting chilled and damp from the spray. I have a hard time motivating myself to get out of the house, especially when the weather's unpleasant, but I usually enjoy it once I'm in the midst of it. All it takes is getting there.