Author Archives: Toni Skokovic

Humber Rapids

At that time, right after the last of the snow has disappeared and before the nature awakens, is the opportunity to get really close to the water. On a muddy and cloudy morning, the rushing water is the start. This ultimate point of interest, pure force of the new season, is uninhibited by colour, vegetation or any other distractions.

Humber River in early Spring, pure unfiltered power and force of the water. Fast moving water, as if to announce the arrival of this long awaited Spring.

This is a bit messy and muddy, but the view of the rushing spring water is unobstructed. Time to take a bit of a different, more muddy perspective on this river. Slow down the shutter, minimize the aperture, squint as it were, and see how it all looks then.

Humber Rapids, April 2019

Medium: Ilford HP5Plus (120 format)
Gear: Diana F+

Under the Lambton Bridge

Awhile back, Lambton was a small mill village and place where Dundas Road crossed Humber River. Today, it is a relatively peaceful stretch of the river. Buildings along the river are gone, and busy Dundas Street crosses high above the water over a modern concrete bridge.

Under the busy thoroughfare bridge, the river moves along on its path to the lake. The river, now completely enclosed in parkland on either bank, is hard to reconcile with sites industrial past. As Old Dundas Street trails off into a dead end, the new forest takes over, hiding the river and all its power.

The experienced of a winter morning under the Lambton Bridge is special. Snow is covering most of the water, making it a place to meditate and reflect on the perpetual change along the shores of this river. This is a great place to step into the nature, just around the corner from a busy urban hive.

Under the Lambton Bridge

Medium: Ilford FP4Plus (120 format)
Gear: Mamiya 645 / Mamiya Sekor C 80mm 2.8

Winter… But Before I Go

By the middle of March we’ve had enough of Winter. No matter how charming the snowy landscape may seem, we’re ready for Spring. Longer days bring higher temperature and ice starts its gradual retreat. But, before its exit, Winter puts on one more show – ice jams.

In its lower valley, Humber river’s sweeping turns accumulate large blocks of ice. Daily thaw and nightly freeze change this scene continuously. This landscape is as treacherous as it is mesmerizing. A somewhat false sense of calmness rules this temporary scene just before the first rays of sunshine arrive.

Like so many winter scenes, this is only a temporary calmness. It will be gone in a matter of weeks, leaving behind wreckage. Each Spring starts with clean-up. In the mean-time though, we can enjoy this calm winter scene for one last time this season.

Humber River, March 2019

Medium: Foma Fomapan 100 (35mm film)
Gear: Nikon F4 / Nikkor 24-80mm 2.8-4 AF-D Lens

Ice River ’19

How do you tell the real cold has arrived? Rivers freeze over.

Humber River freezes by Old Mill, typically by mid January. The ravine transforms into a giant ice tub. Rushing water is replaced by icy stillness. Trails are closed and covered, blended into a continuous surface of white quiet. Somewhere underneath that thick ice, the river still flows.

January of 2019 was particularly cold – producing a massive ice harvest. This is how we can always walk on water in this country – mere mortals braving the deep cold of dark January. Canadian Winter – the season that tests us all. With its harshness and length.

Persevering through it, we first learn to tolerate, then embrace, and finally find joy in those dark and cold mornings. I guess you know you belong here once you find excitement in standing on the river ice surface in freezing cold and enjoying every second of it.

This particular roll of venerable HP5Plus did not quite capture what I hoped for, but definitely left me with a note, a memory, of images that are still left out there, on the ice covered Humber, that cold morning in January.

Ice River Humber - January 2019

Medium: Ilford HP5Plus (120 format)
Gear: Mamiya 645 / Mamiya Sekor C 80mm 2.8

Humber’s Eye

For the past 8 years, predominant location for my photography was Humber Bay Park. This is an amazing place, but I feel that the time has come to turn my attention elsewhere.

Not too far, though 😉

Humber River has a deep historical bond with this place, Toronto. It is the ancient highway, a powerful and untameable river with complicated history. So, I decided to start turning my attention more towards this river. 2019 will be the year to look at Humber River more closely.

A natural place to start is the mouth of the river, a place where a very photogenic bridge combines with its reflection to create the Eye of Humber, almost a symbol of new long term photographic adventure.

This bridge and its surroundings must be one of the most commonly photographed places in the city. Good reasons for this include vista of downtown, spectacular sunrises and contemplative space in and around Sheldon’s lookout, just on the West Bank near the bridge. Humber River pedestrian bridge is not only the link between the two sides of the city, but also a gateway of sorts into the world beyond the lakeshore, frontier only Humber River can get you to.

So, few days into 2019, I thought it would be fun to bike down to the mouth of the river and shoot a roll of bulk loaded roll of Fomapan 100 film with my lightweight kit – Nikon FM with 35mm f/2.8 AI lens, some filters and the trusty MeFoto Backpacker Classic tripod and a shutter release cable.

This is the lightweight kit since it requires very little space and fits in a bike bag along with a tonne of space to spare. This roll of Fomapan has been developed using Balzinal (Compard manufactured R09 formulation) in 1:50 dilution.

Right at the mouth of Humber, a start of the new adventure.

Eye of Humber, January 2019

New Day on THE Bay

There is a special kind of magic in that first sunrise of a new year. In 2019, we were not so fortunate, for the first time in a while. This just goes to show how spoiled we are, living on these magical shores.

January 1st, 2018 was a more typical first morning. Light cloud cover a setting for a colourful light show. Gradual colour change, light reflected of the dawn skies giving a soft glow to ice covered rocks. It all conspires for that magical experience – a colourful start and hopeful promise for another new year.

More I try different colour film or digital options, more I come back to 120 format Kodak Ektar Professional 100. This film just has the right balance of colours and soulful tones that makes it special. When carefully underexposed (hi-lights in zone VII), Ektar is unrivalled for the look. At least that’s what I think about it :).

New Day on THE Bay

Location: Humber Bay West, Etobicoke, ON
Date: January 1st, 2018
Camera: Mamiya 645Pro TL / Mamiya Sekor C 45mm 2.8 lens
Film: Kodak Professional Ektar 100 (120)
Process: Home developed using Unicolor C-41 Powder Kit
Digital scan: Epson V600

High Park, Mid Winter ’19

Time to end the hibernation and get back to photography, perhaps with a more focussed approach this time. Over the past few months away from the web site it’s been busy with reviewing, editing and, oh yes, photographing a lot. The conclusion – nature, specifically Toronto’s regional nature, continues to be an inspiration. Photography is just a means for us less talented at the craft of drawing and painting to make an attempt at capturing how it all makes us feel.

Toronto’s High Park is an urban wonder. A massive tract of managed and natural forest in the middle of the city that is growing and getting busier by the day. Like so many other parks and ravines in the city, it is an oasis, a refuge from the madness of our daily grind. The park is never more peaceful than in the dead of winter, early to mid February.

Snow and ice hush nature down. Even nearby traffic is barely audible. Walking through the ice and snow covered forest trails is an experience in solitude and meditation unlike any other. Slowly, one encounters signs of life and activity. First, the sound of water running under the layers of ice, then ducks, birds with seemingly endless energy and curiosity.

Trees are still and foreboding. Statuesque in their snowy outline, they form a gallery of sculptures only accessible, only seen in this season, during mid-winter hibernation.

High Park Winter '19

Tech notes:
Medium: Fomapan 100 35mm Film, Scanned with Epson V600 Scanner
Gear: Nikon F4S with 35mm Nikkor 2.8 AI Lens.
Date: February 2019

April Showers

April showers, May flowers, the saying goes. We expect vibrant colours from Spring. Warmer weather transforms the landscape rapidly. From cold and lifeless, the surroundings become a vibrant display of revival. All this cannot happen without a violent and rain soaked change in the weather. But even in this chaos of an early Spring storm the first signs of the oncoming season are here. Fresh green shoots break through the debris of recently departed frost, a clear signal the new colourful season is upon us.

Balopticon No. 25 April Showers

Springtime for Humber

The end of March brings the Spring Equinox, the beginning of Spring. We get more daylight and the sun shifts northward. A change in the angle of morning light transforms the colours. Morning skies take on warmer tones and water gets a deeper shade of green. This subtle change in the landscape’s look is the first sign a new season is upon us. At Humber Bay, nature seems poised for awakening. The ice is gone and harsh coldness has been replaced by a pleasant morning breeze coming off the lake. Warm air from the south is here, time to get going.


Photographs by Toni Skokovic

Olympus Digital, Kodak Ektar, Fuji Velvia 50 films