Untitled photo

This photo is something I've tried several times since my Ondu 120mm pinhole camera arrived: using the rise and fall pinholes to create a vertically stitched panorama. This is tough to do because a subject near the camera will create parallax, and most scenes without a subject near the camera are boring. Also, the camera needs to be kept in the same position while being able to accurately advance the film – tricky. But when it works, the result is a negative that's almost the same size as a large format 4x5", at almost the same cost as a frame of 4x5 film, but with roll-film convenience.

As a nearly-large-format pinhole photo I can really zoom way in and marvel at the lack of detail.

This photo is recorded from the Bathurst Street Bridge, an old steel truss span that crosses the rail corridor at the bottom of the city. It's one of my favourite bridges, and this is one of my favourite vantage points for the downtown core.

For five years I used to work just up the street from here, and I'd come down at least once a week. I easily have thousands of frames from within a hundred meters of where I'm standing in these photos.

(There was a lot less city here back then.)

2008 Matthew Robertson

From the same bridge, recorded over fifteen years earlier – a hazy day in March 2006 – with my Olympus E-1 at an equivalent of 28mm. The building on the left edge is the low one that's on the left-third line in the pinhole photo. But aside from it, the train tracks, the CN Tower, and the stadium pretty much everything in the photos are different. The signal towers are gone and there's a new pedestrian bridge across the tracks, and new buildings obscure the older ones.

And of course the city's not done yet – the scrub land on the right of the photo is just waiting its turn. There's massive new developments off the right edge of the photo. The area's actually more built up than the pinhole photo makes it look; none of it was here back in the day.

Two more remarkably similar photos that add little new information; the one with the commuter train is also with the Olympus E-1, and the warm one from the southern edge of the bridge is from my Sony F828. Both are November 2005.

The funny thing is that I remember this view, back when these digital photos were taken, as being the rail corridor cutting through an urban canyon. I suppose with a long zoom lens that's how it felt; with the wide lens it's mostly open space. But soon – within ten years, almost certainly – that gap on the right will be filled in and the wall will be complete.

And who knows? Perhaps by then some drastically scaled-down version of the 'Rail Deck Park' will also exist, and the rail land from here to the tower will be decked over with green space.

But I doubt it.

In this city condos are inevitable, but public amenities are vanishingly improbable.