Sunday 29 March 2020

Blog Post, 29 March 2020: "Spring Emergent #2 - Found Text"

We continue to live through strange times. Times that require us to respond with resolve, creativity, and compassion.

Which brings me to this week’s blog post. Last week, I wrote about the objects I was finding emerge from beneath the melting snow, the time of year poet Mary Oliver calls “the gray flux before spring.” 

Today is a follow-up. 

The element that connects all of this week’s photos is the fact that each features a snippet of ‘found’ text. The late-winter/early-spring sun helped reveal these little gems, and my camera eagerly sought them out, aided by Edna’s curious nose. (Edna is our infinitely loving Basset Hound. She is one of the few – very few – living beings that I let accompany me when I’m photographing.)

There’s a bizarre randomness to these photos. A clever writer could no doubt craft a story shaping them into an elegant plot. Shades of Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.

But for the purposes of this blog, I’d prefer not to impose a meta-narrative. On one level, they’re just ten photos of discarded stuff. Not beautiful in any conventional way. But each is a testament to resilience and determination in the face of adversity. And each has survived to tell its own unique story. Not bad qualities to celebrate these days.


Larry Tayler Photography
Belleville, Ontario, Canada      

Sunday 22 March 2020

Blog Post, 22 March 2020: "Spring Emergent #1 - Colour Splashes!"

 We are living through strange times.

Just as we were getting ready to greet spring here in Canada, COVID-19 lurched into our lives. The realities of social isolation, elbow taps, two-metre safety zones, voluntary quarantines, and empty toilet paper shelves suddenly became part of our vocabulary. 

For me, the dissonance between relishing the newly warm weather while being admonished not to hug friends was disquieting. 

Thus, it has been a season of incongruities. 

For my blog posts over the next three weeks, I’m exploring visual incongruities. The photos all come from my wanders around east-end Belleville. As the snow melted, various bits of abandoned detritus materialized in the disappearing snow banks – trash, gloves, hats, food containers – hostages that had been waiting to emerge from the snow’s captivity.

There is a grittiness to these photos that I find appealing. The reality is that when spring arrives, untidy winter has left behind a legacy of dirt, grime, and faded glories. These photos play with that process. They aren’t traditionally beautiful photos, but they do have a charm, especially for winter-weary Canadians who experience them as harbingers of spring. 

They remind us that despite any current unpleasantness, a new day will dawn. The seeds of spring will prevail – ultimately. 

My trusty companion for my Belleville walks was Edna, our gentle, loving Basset Hound. Bless her for her patience!

I hope you enjoy these gritty photos.

Larry Tayler Photography
Belleville, Ontario, Canada  


Sunday 15 March 2020

Blog Post, 15 March 2020: Toronto - Street Photography on the Corner of Yonge and Dundas

The corner of Yonge and Dundas Streets in Toronto is one of my most reliable and rewarding locations for photography. I have spent many enjoyable hours simply standing there – usually at the southeast corner, by Yonge/Dundas Square – with my camera. And I have hundreds of photos on my hard-drives to prove it. It almost always rewards me with a rich parade of beauty, quirkiness, oddity, and surprise.

It IS Toronto, with people surging from every corner of the planet. The energy of that intersection mesmerizes and delights me. 

Several things work in my favour when I do street photography at that location:

1) It’s one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Canada, with thousands of people hurtling by every hour. Few pause to look around and observe the scenery. For one reason, the architecture in the area is forgettable and dominated by variations of grey. 

(Side Observation: When did the Toronto Taste Police decide that grey was chic and stylish? Waaaay too many of Toronto’s public buildings are dominated by grey, unimaginative architecture. Case in point: the interior of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts – Toronto’s opera house – is fabulous, but the exterior is dominated by insipid grey brick. The only time the exterior looks interesting is at night when you see the interior lobby areas sparkling through the glass fa├žade; the grey brick disappears. But I digress.) 

2. With Ryerson University a block away, there are always media students roaming around the area with cameras. Someone hanging out with a camera is not unusual.

3. And finally, who cares about an old guy with a camera? What harm can he do? As a photographer, I know that it is useful to be invisible so I can make photographs without any hassle. Being dismissed as irrelevant means I can get away with things – one of the wondrous benefits of retirement!

The photos that follow all come from trips to Toronto in February and March. And they all come from the corner of Yonge and Dundas. Enjoy!

Larry Tayler Photography
Belleville, Ontario, Canada   


Sunday 8 March 2020

Blog Post - 8 March 2020: Colours for March!

Dear Reader,

This blog post celebrates colours. Because we are so very close to spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, I have chosen photos that spray-paint my winter-weary soul with vivid colours. And that’s the effect I hope they will have on you. 

And, yes I know that Canada and the world are facing many challenges and that my piteous complaints about winter are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But I also know that when my spirits are lifted by colour, energy, beauty, and creativity, I can face life’s problems with greater grace and equanimity.

So, shivering, colour-deprived Canadians: I offer you these photos to bolster your soul’s immune system. Enjoy!

Sunday 1 March 2020

Blog Post - 1 March 2020: Auto Abstracts

From my earliest days, I have been a car fan. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, I could identify every make and model on the road. As each September rolled around, I haunted the car dealerships to get a glimpse of the NEW! NEW! NEW! models. I sometimes knew more about them than the car salesmen did. I think the salesmen - and they were all men - found me annoying. Which I probably was. I read car magazines, collected Dinky Toys, and built plastic models of my favourite cars. For a time, I even abandoned my model trains in favour of a Scalextricslot-car track.

I pestered my dad to teach me how to drive. He let me teach myself on a tractor in a field. “Safer for the rest of us,” he said. Once I had learned how to use a clutch, there was no looking back. Knowing how to use a standard transmission has served me well through the years.

My first car was a 1968 Pontiac Firebird. Beautiful dark green exterior. Tan bucket seats – bucket seats! Dual-overhead cam six-cylinder engine with a throaty growl. Magnesium wheels. Red-striped Tiger Paw tires. Four-speed synchronized manual transmission on the floor – on the floor! (Four-on-the-floor being way cooler than three-on-the-tree.) Hood-mounted tachometer. AM/FM radio with pushbuttons – pushbuttons!

Oh my gosh, did I love that car. It purred sensuously and was a delight to drive...until the engine blew and General Motors admitted it had botched the design. So, I ended up trading my mortally wounded Firebird for a very modest Ford Cortina – four-cylinders, four doors, AM radio, automatic transmission – on the tree! And that was about it. No mag wheels. No Tiger Paws. No tach. No throaty growl. No...pulse. Sigh. 

Over the years, I’ve owned some superb cars – a 1976 Volkswagen Scirocco stands out – but I’ve also had my share of duds. I still don’t know what possessed me to buy a white 1973 Chevrolet Vega station wagon with fake wood panelling. One of the quirkiest was a 1978 AMC Pacer bubble car. 

Bill and I now drive a Mazda CX-5, with lots of bells and whistles. It’s a fine car, terrific in the snow, and very comfortable. But not as soul-stirring as the ’68 Firebird.

Which brings me to the recent Canadian International AutoShow, held in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I like going to kick tires and pretend I’ve got bags of money to spend. My good buddy Norm went with me this year. And we had a great time. The logical side of my brain knows that the cars on display aren’t helping the planet much. Not even the electric cars, according to some people. Attending a car show is a counter-intuitive indulgence. I’m not sure how much longer the planet can afford them...or people like me, for that matter.

In any case, here are some of my photos from the Canadian International AutoShow. I hope you enjoy them.