A rainy night in Vancouver

The rainbow crosswalks on Davie St. in Vancouver’s westend gay village on a night of heavy April rain. (Robin Rowland)


A freighter anchored in Vancouver’s English Bay is seen through fog and heavy rain. (Robin Rowland)

Photoblog: Toronto Pride 2010


I hadn’t expected to be in Toronto for Pride on July 4, 2010.  After i took early retirement in March, I planned to move to British Columbia. Now at the moment I am caught in the slowdown in the Toronto housing market.

When I shot Pride for CBC in 2007 and 2008 I was accredited and could move anywhere on the parade route. (I wasn’t in Toronto for Pride 2009). This year with no accreditation, I went back to my favourite spot to watch Pride Yonge and Alexander streets.  Not the best choice this year, with a very hot sun overhead and the CP 24 camera position across the street. But by the time I got there, it was too late to move to a better position. Despite that I had fun any way.

Here is the slideshow Pride 2010

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Shooting scary: available light on a dark Halloween night


In Toronto, the place to be late on Halloween night–for adults–is Church Street, the heart of the city’s “gay village” (although most gay people who live in the neighborhood  still call it “the ghetto”). 

Just a few years ago, when the city began closing off Church Street for the traditional gay and lesbian celebration of drag and costume, the celebrations were largely confined to the city’s LGBT community.  Now all that has changed.  Like Pride weekend in the summer, the celebration of scary diversity now draws people from all over the Greater Toronto Area and this year what appeared to be many straight couples joined the parade of costumes.

(Times have changed since the days  in the 1960s and early 1970s when a mob with smelly eggs and rotten tomatoes would gather to pelt  the drag queens  and others entering the bars on Yonge Street on Halloween.  At the same time, as seen in in this 1973 report from CBC News, as shown on CBC Archives,  “Drag Queens on Halloween” the  gay pride movement was already growing. (Runs 8:24 and requires Windows Media Player) )

Halloween was on a weekend this year and that meant Church St. would be even more crowded.  So I headed down to Church St.

 With the experience of  Pride in my mind,  I knew that several hundred thousand people crowded into three blocks make it hard to use even the sturdiest of DSLRs.

 So instead,  I packed my carry with me everywhere camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ28.

In my opinion,  the FZ28 is a perfect back up point and shoot camera. I can carry it in a fanny pack, whip it out, and use the 18x optical zoom to get a good shot. Past experience has shown that I can push the FZ28 pretty far.  So on Halloween night in all those crowds, I had a small camera that was fairly unobtrusive which meant I could get candids.

Most of the public would ask someone to stop,  so the photographers could take their pictures. (and there were usually a crowd of photographers with everything from Iphones to DSLRs complete with flash and Fong hoods as seen in this shot as a flash goes off as photographers capture some high feathered drag performers.)

crowd_Church_Halloween.jpgThe basic settings I was using for the FZ28  were:

  • ISO 1600
  • 1/40 second, shutter priority
  • Exposure value  +1.5

Once I got home,  I ran all the images through Noise Ninja  before processing the images in PhotoShop CS4. In most  cases, other than increasing the exposure value even further in CS4 Camera Raw, I made minimal adjustments  (colour temperature was tweaked slightly only in a couple of the images). For those images that did not look that good in full colour, I converted to black and white in Camera Raw and those came out looking as if they could have been taken anytime from the 1950s to the present.

Shooting available light wasn’t really that scary after all and, of course, available light gives you a much better feel for the atmosphere for the night of All Hallows on the darkened streets of Toronto.

To see a complete slide show of the best images from Halloween on Church St. 2009, see the show on my PhotoShelter site.

Or you can check out the thumbnails as well