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My "Weekend of Photography" plans were in doubt after a disappointing and too-crowded visit to the islands. My thought had been to spend the next evening at the Leslie Street Spit, but there's no way I was going down to the water again. Looking at the subway map at the front of the streetcar that was taking me home gave me the inspiration I needed: go north. There's nobody up there.

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Around here you can tell a lot about someone by asking them if North Bay is in northern or southern Ontario. Most people in Toronto will say northern, but those who aren't from here, or who have looked at a map, will (correctly) say that it's southern.

You can tell a lot about where Torontonians are from by what they think "North" is. I'd say that Sudbury or Thunder Bay are, despite being those cities being south of everything west of them. Our basketball team thinks that Toronto is north, simply by virtue of it being in Canada, despite not even being in the three most-northern NBA teams. An RCMP officer once told me that Barrie was a crossroads for organized crime, because it's as country as the city bikers were willing to go, and as close to the city as the country gangs were up for. I don't know if that was true then, and it's certainly outdated now, but it made sense at the time.

Major Mackenzie, Highway 7, Steeles, Finch, the 401, Eglinton, Bloor: everyone in the city has their own personal boundary of what "north" means to them, beyond which they expect only cul-de-sac subdivisions and uncharted wilderness.* Aside from Yonge street, we don't really have any psychological east-west barriers. North is different.

But I digress: for me, this weekend, North meant the Highway 407 subway station. It has washrooms, a highway overpass, and there's nobody around. What more could I ask for?

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A friend and I have gone on photo excursions to the new and mostly empty arm of Toronto's subway system a couple of times, and the 407 station has always stood out as a favourite. It really is an impressive building, with grand architecture and open spaces that only makes the whole thing seem even emptier. I'm a particular fan of its escalators, which merit a blog post of their own.

And as a transit hub near a major highway the downtown urbanist in me doesn't even mind that it's situated in an empty and outright pedestrian-hostile environment. In fact, that was part of its appeal: I have a perverse affection for the built form that I call "Urban Bleak", and there's no better place to avoid people. I only saw two over the course of three hours here – drivers in cars don't count.

Not that there were that many drivers in cars on a Saturday evening. I'm sure the weekday commute is different, but it's embarrassing that the people of Ontario used this much land to build a highway for SNC Lavalin to own and operate. Yes, that's the same company that made the Canadian Leicas, also makes explosives and munitions, prefers uninterrupted business deals over human rights in Saudi Arabia, and has frequently had the word "scandal" attached to any recent news article discussing them and the Canadian government.

The fact is that most roads, even busy ones, are mostly empty space most of the time. But that's also true of cars.

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Having made it across the highway my next target was clear: IKEA, Swedish for 'Tax Avoidance'.

Like me, Ikea likes empty spaces and convenient highway off-ramps. Perversely, despite this one being only the third-closest to my home, it's also the most conveniently located since I only need one subway and a short walk to get to it. While wandering aimlessly around a large indoor space isn't as appealing an idea as it was six months ago, I could see coming back here with my littlest camera during business hours.

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And speaking of littlest cameras, these were all taken with my newest one, a Sony ZV1. It's the first pocektable camera I've had with a zoom lens since I sold my Canon S100, which happened about fifteen minutes after I compared the Canon's images to the Ricoh GRDiv that I had just bought. That was way back in 2012, right around the time when most Americans decided that Mitt Romney didn't meet the requirements to be an American president. How things have changed since then.

All of these photos are from bracketed camera jpegs, occasionally merged as HDR images. That was very easy; once I figured out how to turn on bracketing the camera helpfully suggested a short self-timer as well, which didn't reset even when the camera turned off. Handy. And the 300-gram camera was on my three kilo Jobu-Sirui combination, so aligning the images was easy.

I'd like to try editing the raw files to see what the camera can do, but so far I've been pleased enough to keep using it. Capture One, my editing software of choice, doesn't yet support the ZV1's raw files despite how similar they must be to its RX100 family members.

More on the new camera another time.

* The idea of North being 'uncharted wilderness' is complete rubbish that's part of Canada's racist Terra Nullius colonial foundation. It lives on in the settler's psyche with the help of the Group of Seven and other myth-making, and is used to justify both the historical and continuing dispossession and genocide of Indigenous people. Never let anyone tell you that this land was "empty" or that it actually belongs to the people who have paved it over because they think they own it.