Photography: Black & White

Unfortunately this week I was unprepared for a figure review and just didn’t feel like trying to rush through one. Instead, I’ve decided to post up a few pictures I’ve taken in the past, all of them before I started collecting anime figures (though not before I had some at all). The idea to do this stems from a question I was asked by @Drossel_vF on Twitter.

Taking this question perhaps too seriously I decided to scour through all the 19,081 photos I’ve taken since 2005. In doing so I came across many pictures I’d forgotten about, many memories and many great shots. But her question was hard to answer, because she didn’t say best, she said favourite. Both are hard to answer, but mean different things to me. Best means technically best, or the one others might also consider my best. However favourite means which one do I actually like the best, and this can be for any reason opening up the question to a wider variety of potential pictures. It could mean a terrible photo that has a lot of meaning to me, or a photo I was really happy with the results given the circumstances, or a photo of a get together with friends, anything. Over the course of this little exercise the thought crossed my mind, perhaps I could share these on OMGW at some point in the future. As it would turn out, the future was much closer than I imagined it would be, the future is now!

Black & White photography has always been one of my favourites, I think because I tend to like really high contrast pictures. I’m always turning the contrast upon my camera and my photos, often to the point of ruining a picture. It’s a delicate balance I have to play with myself. After messing with the contrast and ruining the picture I have to revert back to the original settings and walk away. If I don’t walk away the picture never looks right. I have to ‘forget’ what it looked like.

With black & white photos I feel I’m much more free to mess with contrast in photos as well as lighting. There’s no colours that will appear unnaturally saturated and stand out, everything either becomes lighter or darker and that’s it.

This particular photo is my answer to @Drossel_vF’s question. Back in September 2008 I went on a road trip to the east coast of Canada, by myself. All summer I’d been trying to go, but trying to match up schedules with friends just wasn’t working out and as summer  was ending I decided to hop in what to me was still a new car at the time and go by myself. I took many pictures along the way, all of which hold a place in my memories, but this one more so than the rest. This one has always stood out for me as a great picture because it summarized my entire trip. As I wrote in response to @Drossel_vF “With the remnants of hurricane Hanna passing over head and the emptiness of the ocean it may seem sad or perhaps even depressing but it was far from it for me. Spent an entire week alone driving wherever I wanted to go with no obligations to anything or anyone. I’d love to do it again, but perhaps with more time.”

These two shots are from the same trip as above. The shot on the left being of some of the very fun roads I’d travelled on along the edge of what I believe to be Cape Breton Island. Also seen in this picture is the location of the shot above as well as the shot on the right, which was taken just right of the picnic bench I was sitting at. If you look halfway down the picture on the right hand side you can see a small road that’s just above sea level, that’s where the two pictures were taken. I love how in both these pictures you can see the clouds forming as they rush up the small mountains. My only complaint about the picture on the left, that pickup truck at the bottom.

Going waaay back to when I used to live in Toronto. I was younger then, travelled around on my bicycle a lot, even at night through the city. I always liked how this picture turned out, with what seems to be a an entmoot in progress. I always wished that the lights seen in the background on the right half of the picture would just go away leaving a much darker picture overall. But I’ve never managed to photoshop it such that I found it acceptable.

These two were also taken in Toronto. Atlantis, er I mean Ontario Place on the left and almost a silhouette of downtown Toronto on the right. Opposite of a silhouette? Both were quite long exposures as can be seen with the water in the shot on the left and the 14-pointed stars on the right indicating a tight aperture. Both were taken from Ontario Place.

Perhaps the creepiest photo I’ve ever taken. This was taken in Belfountain, Ontario in the Belfountain Conservation Area next to the dam and under the bridge there’s a little subterranean prison cell from god knows when. Actually, the photo I took through the bars might be the creepiest ever. Depends on one’s perspective I suppose.

In my opinion it’s a pretty terrible picture. However the poor quality and low lighting conditions just makes you think something is going to pop out at you and get you. Which is very much how I felt at the time, and it was the sunniest brightest day ever. I have a very active imagination I guess.

Taken in downtown Toronto. I’m not sure if it’s a remarkable picture, but I’ve always enjoyed looking at it. Was walking down Bay St. in Toronto after getting fired from a job for reading a book. I wasn’t too upset, but I did take my time going home, walking quite a while before hopping on the subway. Was quite a nice day, always nice to get fired on a beautiful day, it makes it hard to be angry.

This shot of an alleyway has always reminded me of a crime scene photo. There’s the mist in the lights from the fog, the harsh contrasting light from what could have been the flash (actually my cars lights), graffiti on the walls and what looks like a rundown old building, which was in fact, a run down old building. Was bored one night on the way home from work and noticed a little ‘bridge’ at the end of a road Google had told me was a dead end, so I decided to investigate. It wasn’t a dead end, Google had failed me.

The maze of roads into and out of Pearson International Airport. One of the many times I was bored and on my lunch break at work. I suspect security was wondering just what this person (me) was doing stopping all over the place and taking pictures. Only once was I ever approached though, but that’s because I was in a slightly more restricted area… oops! 😉 Was hard getting this shot without any cars though, was amazed I managed it. The best parts of this photo for me are all the textures in it.

And that’s that. The end of my little self indulging photofest. I leave you with this picture of what I think is the edge of the world.

The world is apparently flat…



  1. Rico-sama says:

    Wow, Aka. For also not doing a review this week you certainly put together more of a post than my lazy ass. 😉

    Seriously though, those pictures are quite impressive. I particularly like the one you call “the end of the world”, and the one you called “the creepiest” and the one near the airport are also equally amazing.

    Of course, the one you label as your favorite is quite nice too – I really love the bitter-sweet feeling of the picture when coupled with your story – but I also think that one is strong in that it tells a story in of itself. I had a sense of what that picture was about before I even read your post.

    Very nicely done. I should really start taking more photographs myself.

    • Aka says:

      Thanks Rico!

      I sorta threw this together pretty last minute. I was just going to skip Monday’s post all together but kept thinking to myself “when was the last time you actually missed a Monday?” … I don’t know what the answer is to that question, but that made me think I really shouldn’t miss a post, otherwise I may fall victim to it again in the future.

      I really should get back out on my bicycle and take more pictures again. I used to take so many when I lived in Toronto, but ever since I moved I’ve just felt there’s no where to ride anymore.

  2. Chag says:

    Ah, black and white — what a great way to observe the world under from an alternative angle!

    I really like the shot at Pearson airport. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but all those vertical structures and the grimy looking textures make the place look almost like a jail cell — a prison of modernity made of concrete and steel that humanity has constructed over its own head, perhaps? Hmmmmmmmm….

    • Aka says:

      I agree, b/w is disconnected enough from reality to let you see things you might otherwise not. It’s such a great technique.

      Maybe you are maybe you aren’t, but sometimes Pearson really does feel like a prison. God it’s a pain to get in and out of there, though I think it’s somewhat better now?

      That’s an interesting take on the picture though. It’s fun to read what others think a picture means. Perhaps I shouldn’t have posted anything about any of them, and asked what everyone thought of them.

  3. Rajura says:

    Woah!!! Really digging your “dungeon” photos!

    Nice work as always!

    • Aka says:

      Thanks Rajura, I wish I knew what that dungeon-esk thing really was. I thought about Googling it before posting but never did in the end.

  4. Ashlotte says:


    Freaking…gah take outdoor photo reviews I beg ya…Cheap bastard you had these kinda shots and you shut yourself inside for figures? Bah…

    Very nice shots though…Especially the couple night ones. Makes me wanna buy a real camera that can actually shoot in low light…Only problem is I’m the type that just impulse bought 200 bucks worth of figures….AHHHHHH! T_T

    • Aka says:

      I honestly would take more but after I moved, I don’t feel like there’s anything interesting where I live. I’m sure there is, and I’ll just have to find it, but it doesn’t help that I feel bored with my area.

      These shots aren’t really low light shots. I mean, sure they’re night shots, but I’m not taking a quick exposure necessarily with any of them, where low light is an issue. All the night shots are on a tripod with very long exposure times. Any point & shoot camera with proper manual controls can accomplish similar results.

      I’m like you thought, I make those impulse purchases of figures. I keep wanting a new body for my camera, and I hint to family when they ask about birthday stuff, but they’re too expensive and I couldn’t accept it from them even if they bought it, I’d have to pay for a good portion of it. So for now I sit waiting till I manage to save.

  5. Tier says:

    These are really nice pictures, I particularly like the one with the skyscrapers in Toronto; grayscale gives the picture a lot of drama, even though I’m guessing it was an ordinary sunny day. Sometimes I miss living in a city … around here, there’s just strip malls, townhouses, and fast food restaurants for miles in every direction.

    Getting fired for reading a book? Man that’s harsh. I’ve spent whole days at work reading ESPN and the local newspaper website.

    • Aka says:

      I really miss the city. There was always so much energy, and always something to do. I was always on my bicycle for 30-40 km bike rides taking pictures along the way. Since I moved away, I still live in a populated area, but it’s not a city as one pictures it, it’s very much the same description you give. Townhouses, fast food restaurants, strip malls, no sky rises. Though there’s the addition that if I drive for all of 5 minutes I’m in mennonite country. Sundays is a sight to behold, it’s like you’ve been taken back a hundred years, back to before the car. There’s lines of horse & buggy clomping along the roads towards their churches.

      I too have spent days on end doing various nothing tasks, it all depends on your boss I guess. One place asked me if I wanted cable TV or not, the other, well they fired me for reading a boook.

      Thanks for the compliments!

  6. Beautiful shots! Love B&W pics, let the contrast do the talking – colours are over rated. LOL

    Man, I’m after looking at that Belfountain gate picture, I don’t ever wanna go back to that place again. Freaky!

    The one at the park with the light in the middle is my favourite. =)

    • Aka says:

      Yeah! Colours are overrated. They ruin my lust for contrast.

      I’ve never gone back to the Belfountain Consevation Area after those pics, though I love driving up and down the Forks of the Credit, though it’s only 60 km/h or so I think, I try to at least triple that where and when I can. Er I mean, I only ever drive the speed limit! Honest! Haven’t been there in a number of years though.

      I love how everyone’s got a different favourite!