The Evolution of King and Young

The intersection of King and Young in downtown Kitchener has taken on quite the transformation since late spring. In April it was decided that the Mayfair Hotel at this intersection was no longer safe and had to be demolished. About a month after this news broke, the building finally came down. It took some time due to a few safety concerns but the site is more or less cleaned up now, with some extra shoring installed to reinforce the neighbouring buildings.

As you can see, there is still a construction fence up around where the Mayfair once stood. Nobody really knows what will come of this lot right now, but I’ve heard the corner will be turned into a park until another development can be built. As long as it isn’t a parking lot I’ll be happy.

Neutral Density on the Cheap

I’ve always wanted to try using a neutral density filter. A neutral density (ND) filter allows you to be a bit creative with your imagery, including using longer shutter speeds to create long exposure images, even in daylight. I’m a total newbie with this sort of thing, so before shelling out a ton of money on an ND filter, I tried a cheaper version. An introduction to the ND filter if you will. I’ve read on a few photo blogs that welder’s glass can provide the same effect as an ND filter. It’s a fraction of the cost, and frankly, a fraction of the image quality. Everything I shot was done during our week in Southampton in early July.

As you’ll see from the image gallery, using welder’s glass gives the images an extremely strong green cast. Even shooting RAW didn’t allow me to easily fix this, but I’m good with that since this was just an introductory exercise. Along with this issue was holding the glass in place. The cheap way to attach it to my camera was to leave the lens hood on backwards and hold the glass on with some elastics. The problem with this is that the lens I was using, the 24-70, doesn’t have internal zooming (the barrel of the lens physically moves in and out while you zoom) so by strapping a piece of glass to the front of the lens, it was holding the lens to a specific focal point (in this case, 70mm, which is on the opposite end of what I wanted). It was also impossible to focus with the glass attached because it’s so dark which means I had to focus first, then place the glass in place, then make sure the camera was set to manual focus so it wouldn’t start to hunt. The camera also couldn’t really meter properly for whatever reason, so I was just guessing with exposure times (which usually ended up in the 4-6 second range).

It was a long and cumbersome process that didn’t really yield any great results. However, green cast aside, I was able to see how using a proper ND filter could be a lot of fun, so I’m still happy I gave it a go.


Last week my family rented a cottage up in Southampton. All told there were 8 adults, 4 children, and 3 dogs. Never a dull moment to say the least. My wife Amy and I only stayed until Thursday so we were still around for the fireworks show downtown on Wednesday night. Originally I didn’t plan on shooting the show, because I’ve never really had much success and thought, for the most part, fireworks photos were overrated. The show itself was very well done, even with the seizure-inducing blasts near the end that may have rendered some of the crowd temporarily blind and deaf.

Once the show started I started shooting anyway. I had my 50mm 1.4 on me and since I didn’t bother with the tripod, I obviously had to shoot handheld. What caught me was the smoke patterns after the explosions. When I’ve tried shooting fireworks before using long exposures, I was always annoyed at the streaks that the smoke would leave behind which I thought kind of left the images muddy and uninteresting. Since I was shooting handheld my exposure time was reduced greatly. I was still able to get a few lights streaks, but the main focus for me—and what made these images work—was the patterns and textures left behind in the smoke.

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