five|one|nine photography

the best way to find yourself is to discover where you are

negative space July 23, 2010

Filed under: blog,furry,portfolio — sylvia @ 9:29 pm

I’ve now been laid up for four solid days. No working, no shooting, no chores, no play. It’s easy to slip into a funk, especially since I can’t get in my car and clear my head on the open road. Instead, I’ve gotten lost in good TV and terrible movies, the view out my bedroom window, and finally, the creativeLIVE Vision-Driven Photography workshop with David duChemin.

I woke up from a restless nap just as David was answering a question which I had asked often asked myself, and I wish I’d taken notes now that I want to revisit these ideas here. The question, in a nutshell, was how one finds their vision and inspiration if they live in a visually uninteresting place. He said – and I’m paraphrasing poorly here – the low-hanging fruit, the pretty picture, hangs much lower in exotic places. But once you’ve lived there a while it becomes just as hard to see everything with new eyes. His simple advice was to stop being lazy, get out there, and find what we’re passionate about. If you want to photograph textures, gritty industrial stuff, colours, people, whatever… you can find that anywhere. Just find your focus first.

For years, I bemoaned the fact I lived in Southern Ontario rather than British Columbia, or even Australia, where a beautiful vista was always just outside your doorstep. My Small-Town Ontario Project is a direct off-shoot of that train of thought. So every chance I get, I go out into my everyday, and try to find the beauty.

Or sometimes, it’s right inside my house.

Negative Space


the view from here July 21, 2010

Filed under: blog,one shot wednesdays,personal — sylvia @ 11:00 pm

Today’s idea for the One Shot Wednesdays series was thwarted by an unfortunate flare up of my lower back problem. With the only camera in reach, here is an SOOC view from my position on the couch. At least I have pretty flowers to look at and Mad Men to watch.

Slightly irrelevant EXIF data since I only tweaked the ISO to get a vaguely usable shot:
F-stop: f/1.8
Exposure time: 1/25 sec.
ISO speed: ISO-640
Focal Length: 50mm
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority


Welcome to Sylvan July 18, 2010

I had the pleasure of a visit with one of my besties this weekend, and as always, our conversations turned philosophical. M and I have found ourselves on a similar path together over the past year and it’s been wonderful to discuss our ideas and share the little moments of discovery along the way.

I took a wee detour on the way home and marveled at the strange and pretty roads I’d never traveled. It struck me that The Road Not Taken might be an apt description for not only my summer travels, but the journey I’ve been on.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I found myself driving through this particular tiny village on the way home from Ipperwash Beach today. One of my favourite academics told me about this little spot over a shared pint at the Grad Club, telling me I simply must visit of the best used bookshops he’d ever seen in Southern Ontario. But I got busy, and busier, and never made it out there until now.

But my dear internet, there’s a fly in my Small Town Ontario Project ointment. Since I do most of my traveling on Sunday afternoons, the towns are already sleeping. The shops are closed, the inhabitants in the midst of their Sunday suppers, the experience is passive. That will need to shift along the way.

With that, please let me introduce you to Sylvan. One bookshop, three houses, and rolling farmland.


I picked up Jennifer Grainger’s book, Vanished Villages of Middlesex, and stayed up way too late leafing through it. Sylvan makes an appearance on pages 274-276, with Grainger noting that it was one of the most important communities in Middlesex County, and at one point at least 46 businesses. The thriving community of Sylvan died out when the lumber supplies were depleted, and then it was bypassed by the railway.



texture July 14, 2010

Filed under: blog,one shot wednesdays — sylvia @ 8:46 pm

Today’s one shot was nearly a black square; somehow I’d deleted the image between taking it and throwing the memory into my computer. I debated my next step for a little while, and in the end decided that to stay true to the ill-defined ideals of One-shot Wednesdays, I had to go back to the drawing board and find something new for today.

EXIF Data:
F-stop: f/1.8
Exposure time: 1/50 sec.
ISO speed: ISO-500
Focal Length: 50mm
Exposure Program: Manual


divas July 12, 2010

Filed under: blog,clients,portfolio,portraits — sylvia @ 9:13 pm

My good fortune this weekend included a late afternoon session with the beautiful and talented Sonja Gustafson and Taylor Robertson. We had many laughs while testing out – some silly, some sublime – ideas to update our respective portfolios. This area of photography is quite new to me, but I’m so excited to edit this session.

Thank you, Taylor and Sonja, for such a fun afternoon!

Aren’t they gorgeous?


Welcome to St. Agatha

This weekend couldn’t have been better, spent with great friends and enjoying the beautiful weather with camera in hand. I spent this afternoon with A., who was visiting from BC, and not only did we watch Spain defeat the Netherlands, but he also joined me for my Sunday small-town Ontario project in St. Agatha. A’s father is a great photographer, and I was floored to see his amazing photos from recent expeditions to Iceland, the Galapagos Islands, and the American Southwest. Some day soon, I hope to see some of his work online and pick up a print or three. Thank you all for a lovely day!

Without further ado, welcome to St. Agatha:



eat your greens July 9, 2010

Filed under: blog,foodie fridays — sylvia @ 7:22 pm

I love local produce and live for the summer, when 90% of my food come straight from local farms. Without them I’d be lost; given the shade and part-shade of my garden, I can’t grow much, but at least I can grow my own herbs. Maybe next summer, I’ll buy a sunny plot in a community garden up the road.