Author Archives: Toni Skokovic

Water Meditations No.2 – Etobicoke Creek – February 2016

Revisiting old images is always an interesting experience. After deciding to focus on water meditations theme, the time was to look back through some older film in search for clues, ideas.

In February 2016, I ventured along Etobicoke Creek ravine, starting from the mouth of the creek at Marie Curtis park. Just past the CN rail underpass, I encountered an interesting feature – a concrete barrier intended to regulate the flow of the creek. Nothing particularly spectacular, at first sight, but it did create an interest, held my attention for a few seconds. This was enough for me to decide on setting up a tripod and going in for a few images.

Without too much experience with long exposures on film, I ventured into this scene with a roll of Ilford’s Delta 100 in my Nikon FE mounted on a tripod. I got images and they formed an interesting sketch of a place. Technically imperfect, compositionally problematic and with too many other issues to itemize, these images were a start of something. There is potential in this unassuming part of Etobicoke Creek ravine.

The attraction of flowing water and the way it photographs has a surreal quality to it. Shapes invisible to our eyes form on film with extended exposure. A new landscape emerges, one invisible to the naked eye, a landscape that is truly never there in any one moment.

Flowing, smooth streams, are usually seen as an element to a classic landscape scene. This is probably why they considered a common trope, an image that has been made many times before. But, looking at this a bit differently, a more abstract landscape emerges.

Flowing water forms its own landscape, intimate and surreal, altogether different from expected and typical. This outing in 2016 was a start of a concept, now time to follow it up with more frames.

Meditations No.2

Technical Notes:

  • Film: Ilford Delta Professional 100 (135 Format)
  • Camera: Nikon FE / Nikkor 24mm AF-D
  • Processing: Ilford DD-X 1:4 Dillution
  • Digital post: Epson V600 / Epson Scan / Adobe Lightroom

Water Meditations No.1 – Humber River, November 2019

It does not get more prosaic than a photo of flowing water. Yet, I get drawn back to photograph that rush and perpetual motion. Water flowing, rushing over obstacles.

Perhaps the attraction is in a surreal way in which the slower shutter captures that motion and force on film. Perhaps it is simply an opportunity to gaze into the moving water and feel like you are moving, while remaining still.

Rivers and creeks are always a great place to escape into a meditative state, think, reflect and recharge.

For this year, all the blog posts and images shared will be focused on this theme, let’s see how far these go. This particular set, Water Meditations No1, was from my very first 120 roll of Ilford Ortho 80 film, shot in an old Mamiya 6 folding camera featuring Sekor 75mm f/3.5 lens. The film itself was processed in Ilford Ilfotec DD-X developer and scanned on an Epson V850 Scanner using Silverfast software. Images were captured on November 23, 2019.

Meditations No.1

Road Sketches: Temecula, CA

Mornings on the road are special. Just after or before a sunrise the ability to walk out and explore on foot is often the best way to experience the character of a place.

Temecula, California is a touristy town in the mountains, about an hour drive from San Diego. Walking around the outskirts in the morning offers a different vibe. Quiet, sunny (it is California), morning with stillness and colour possible only in the Southwest.

Flooded roadways, calling back to river fords of the past, signs and suburban buildings, all awash in the warm morning glow, just before the cars come out and the day starts – everything has a poetic, almost a beatnik, tone to it.

Road Sketches: Temecula

Technical Notes:
Film: Kodak Gold 200 (EI200)
Camera: Nikon FM / Nikkor 35mm 2.8AI
Processing: Unicolor C-41 Kit / Epson V600 / Epson Scan 2

Postcards: Eglinton West at Night

Once the day is over and the night falls, office parks reflect a different atmosphere. Hives of activity during weekdays, these places are almost fully abandoned, yet completely illuminated and in perfect condition. An office campus along Eglinton Avenue West is a perfect example. A cold November evening makes an excellent stage for this light show of stillness and solitude.

Transit stations are beacons in this late Fall darkness. These new landmarks connect the surrounding architecture into a more connected space. They are transforming this traditionally car-first space into a more walkable, transit friendly community. This new connectedness is almost as inviting as the night cold is foreboding. Illuminated walkways almost invite exploration.

Empty except for a lone passing car or bus, this space is rich in contrast and accent of floodlights. The lights and a dark November night makes this the ultimate trip into a calm and empty space. This contrasty world has a peaceful tone to it. Night illumination invites attention, a second look at buildings and structures that are easy to disregard during the daylight rush.

A place of rushed activity by day offers a silent contemplation at night. Day for night, pressure and calm. Sometimes, perhaps we need darkness to see the world around us a bit more clearly.

Postcards:Eglinton West at Night

Technical Notes:
Film: Adox Silvermax 100 (EI100)
Camera: Nikon F4S / Nikkor 35mm 2.8 AI
Processing: Adox Silvermax Developer / Epson V600 / Epson Scan 2

Road Sketches: Found Treasures Along the Way

Work travel is an experience different from tourism. Everyone who travels for business reaches this conclusion relatively quickly. This, in turn, creates the ethos of the grind on the road. And it is true. Long days and tiring flights, being away from home for dozens of nights each year. It gets to you.

Maintaining focus and tempo comes from developing road discipline. One of the key elements is to find some opportunities to relax and replenish while on the road. For me, this is an hour or so walk with my camera, taking time to centre myself by looking at the world. This process has yielded some interesting finds along the way, most often in places when one would least expect a visual stimulation.

For 30-60 minutes, the world of software business, contracts, negotiations and planning, gives way to being “out there”. The world is truly full of wonder and pleasant surprises, one just needs to get out there and look more closely.

Then, everything else becomes easier and clearer – business, contracts, negotiations and planning. Problems, such as they were, just become simple speed bumps along the way.

I started taking a camera and a few rolls of film on the road in late Fall of 2017. This first instalment is from one of those early rolls. An overcast November day in Seattle, the way the sky can be dark and foreboding only in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle is changing rapidly and cranes are as much a part of the skyline as buildings are. Somehow this unity of cranes and buildings is at its most expressive at the dawn hour, as the sun peaks just under cloud cover, just to disappear completely for the day. Then, the old(er) landmarks and tourist tropes of the city are easiest to photograph at night, lighted by neon, against the backdrop of a late season darkness.

Road Sketches: Seattle, Wa

Tech Notes:

  • Film: Ilford HP5Plus, exposed for EI1600
  • Camera: Pentax Spotmatic / Kominar 28mm f/3.5
  • Processing: Ilford DD-X 1:4
  • Digital Workflow: Epson V600 / VueScan Pro / Adobe Lightroom

Postcards: Creemore Springs Brewery

A visit to Creemore, a small Ontario village, is always a special treat. A quaint, now fully tourist compliant, hamlet is tucked next to the busy road connecting Georgian Bay to the Greater Toronto region. The village is a site for one of the earlier craft breweries – Creemore Springs Brewery.

Over the years, following the big corporate (Molson-Coors) takeover, the brewery has expanded but still managed to keep and enhance its rustic charm. The brew offering has expanded as well. From the beginnings of the Creemore Springs Lager to a comprehensive flight offering for any visitor unsuspecting or otherwise.

For photography, it does not get any better than Creemore on a sunny July day. But this past July, the brewery was a star attraction. Taps and flights, old kettle and buildings themselves, all captured well on Fuju Superia X-Tra film. A set of postcards from Creemore to tie us over until the next visit, or a six pack.

Postcards: Creemore Springs Brewery

Tech notes:
Film: FujiFilm Superia X-Tra 400 (EI400)
Gear: Nikon FE / Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 AI lens
Processing: Unicolor C-41 Home Kit / Epson V600 / VueScan Pro

Postcards: Huron Shores

Summer long weekends are ideal for brief day trips. For years, I wanted to get back to Collingwood harbour. Once a freight terminus and shipbuilding centre, this charming Georgian Bay town is now a playground community. Still, for all the sights and sounds of the town, turning to Lake Huron brings the thrill. Huron Shores captivates, perhaps even more on a cloudy gloomy mid-Summer day in July.

Canada Day 2019 was mostly an overcast day. This July 1st started looking more like November 11th. Armistice Day rather than Dominion Day. But, even under the cover of an overcast skies, the shoreline’s tones offer something to look at and think. Plants hugging the boulders, as if hiding from the restless water. Cold weather keeping the crowds away, was a perfect opportunity to wallow a bit in solitude of Huron Shores.

Postcards: Huron Shore

Technical Notes:
Film: Fuji Film Superia X-tra 400 / Processed with Unicolor C-41 home processing kit
Camera: Nikon FE / Nikkor 35mm AI 2.8
Processing: Epson V600 Scanner / VueScan Pro / Adobe Lightroom

A Spring Morning

There is magic in a solitude of a Spring morning.

Fresh air carried by the breeze along the river, gentle mist and first rays of sunshine, they all conspire to create a great and optimistic mood. Early Spring may be the best time. Just before crowds overwhelm these parks and chase away the wildlife and just before the full growth of vegetation alters the landscape. Gentle light of the early Spring morning wraps everything in a magical glow, dew on the ground and solitude that is energizing and inspirational.

Home Smith Park sits just along West bank of Humber River, between Dundas and Bloor Streets. It is the stretch of the road connecting Old Dundas Street to Old Mill Road, an oasis of greenery that is accessible and busy stretch on late Spring and Summer afternoons, and with full justification.

As it truly is, a magical place.

Spring's Morning Light

Technical Notes:
Medium: Kodak Portra 400 film and Fuji Superia Xtra 400 film (135 format)
Gear: Nikon FM with Nikkor 35mm 2.8 and Nikkor 135mm 2.8 lens
Process: Unicolor C-41 chemistry, Epson V600 Negative Scan

At the End of Stillness

Last days of Winter, the snow is still around, the quiet envelops the ravine and hardly anyone is present. The park road is still closed for traffic, covered in ice and snow, an invitation for some but barrier for most.

In a few week, so we hope, the snow will be gone. The grass will get its start and the ramps will be open, welcoming masses to Sun’s warm glow along the river. But for now though, the stillness prevails, for a few more weeks, maybe a better part of the first Spring month.

Not much longer, you feel it first in the air. It does look wintery and desolate, but at the same time, it feels brighter, ready for the change. At the end of long five months, the time is coming, time for Spring.

At the End of Stillness

Technical Notes:
Medium: Fomapan 100 Film (135 Format)
Gear: Nikon FM / Nikkor 35mm 2.8 AIS lens
Processing: ID-11 1:1 / Epson V600 Direct Negative Scan