Friday, November 29, 2013

Chinatown's other panda

On Monday, I posted about a panda-based artwork in Chinatown. However, there is another painted panda on a Chinatown storefront which has become iconic of Chinatown:

This is in the entryway of the vacant storefront that had previously been Manphat Grocery, at the corner of Somerset and Booth. Here's the rest of the window:

As with the other panda, this was done as part of the storefront mural project that runs throughout Chinatown.

The storefront of 800 Somerset Street West wasn't particularly attractive, even before the store closed down in 2008. The Booth Street wall was painted with a mural to brighten it up:

After the store closed, it was papered up from the inside. For a number of years it made the corner pretty dead, and it has only been used for storage for one of the nearby businesses. I've heard it speculated that this unsightly building contributed to the failure of the Chi Developments' 288 Booth condo project diagonally across the street, which was an attempt by an amateur developer to rebuild on the lot left vacant by a fire took in August 2007.

In early June, the mural was still in its early stages. White flowers on their own represent death, which—while perhaps reflective of the level of activity of this space—doesn't contribute to the goals of livening up the street with murals.

With a few blue and bright pink flowers as highlights, the mural has been a welcome splash of colour since it was finished (and retouched after a graffiti attack).

The flowers are just scenery; the real surprise is when you're walking down the sidewalk and the panda pops out at you!

I encourage you to head down to Chinatown to check out the artwork on the many doors, walls and storefronts on Somerset Street between Bay Street and Preston Street. Leigh and Karen from Highjinx have added seasonal decorations to many of the store windows, and the Somerset Chinatown BIA has installed red and white Christmas lights to many of the buildings.

A great place for a Christmas lunch or dinner for your office, family and friends!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

3D Thursday: Nuit Blanche Ottawa Gatineau #nbog13

I took a number of photos during this year's rainy-but-well-attended Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau on September 21/22, but only two 3D photos. I no longer have two cameras and it's hard to take a pair of stills with moving people in the shot.

Both of the 3D photos I took were in the Market. This tree was nicely done up on George Street, I think by the O-Town [Yarn-]Bombers:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

You can see the two exposures by closing one eye, then the other. I think between exposures, a couple of the lights were turned off in the condo building in the background.

With brightly-coloured things like this, the colour shots don't work quite as well because red objects only appear in one eye and blue objects only appear in the other. Here's the same photo again with the colours removed before converting the layers to red and cyan:

The next one is a photographic sculpture by Susy Oliviera at SAW Gallery, called Have Everything and Die. The wall behind was red, so I didn't even bother trying to do the 3D conversion in colour (but I've left the colour in the source photos below).

This sculpture is ideal for photographing in 3D, because a regular photo doesn't capture the essence of it. It's a bunch of pieces of photo moulded together into a kind of sculpture (she had another, photographed on Peter Simpson's Big Beat blog here), but instead of the face put convex (with the nose pointing out), it's concave (with the cheeks and nose going inward):

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

That's a pretty important part of the piece that you don't get with a regular photo of the sculpture.

But a really neat thing about the 3D photos is if you flip your 3D glasses around (i.e. the red filter on your right eye instead of your left eye), it looks convex! This is a neat twist on the old paper dragon illusion or the rotating mask illusion.

While I'm talking about Nuit Blanche 2013, I should mention that I happened to be in Toronto this October to see Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles sculpture, which was installed outside Toronto City Hall for their Nuit Blanche. The colour-changing lighting scheme prevented me from taking any photos in 3D (since I'd need to take two photos in succession), but it's still really neat:

The description says that it's made up of 3,144 bicycles, and the title is a play on the name of China's largest bicycle brand, Yong Jiu, which translates as "forever".

They're not real bicycles, but rather a steel representation of bicycle frames. But the wheels are real bicycle wheels and they all spin freely!

It's possible I'm just imagining it, but from a distance, it looks like the shape of the sculpture is a pair of giant bicycles heading each other off on Nathan Phillips Square:

Truly mesmerising! A shame I couldn't get this shot in 3D!

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Panda prints in Chinatown

In the alleyway between the Chinese restaurant, Ju Xiang Juan, and the Somerset travel agency, is one of the Chinatown murals. This one is of a panda, though not the panda mural that has become iconic of Ottawa's Chinatown (that's a blog post for another day... maybe tomorrow):

(note: I've tweaked the above photo with Photoshop's lens distortion utility. What a versatile and useful tool!)

The mural on the side of the travel agency building is a colourful stencil print of a panda in bright colours. But look closer: those dots are themselves little pandas, each a set of three looking left, centre, and right. Each row of pandas is standing on the edge of a piece of the building's otherwise drab beige siding:

The other side of the alley had a certain je ne sais quoi to it that also caught my eye. The rough brick has an authentic quality to it, obviously having seen many iterations of graffiti, painting over, and sandblasting away. The mural project on Somerset had a dual purpose of livening up the place and deterring graffiti.

You can't see these types of angles while walking by on the sidewalk. If the panda prints hadn't drawn me in to the alley, I wouldn't have caught this view either!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bad sectors in Centretown

Back in July, my hard disk drive crashed, losing two months' worth of photos (about 1600). At the end of October I got a surprise call from the guy I'd brought it to, who said he was able to recover over 90% of the data. I was able to push this to about 97% of the photos that I had taken since my previous backup.

Some of them, however, were damaged. The hard drive had bad sectors and in the recovery many of the photos were damaged (only a very small number were completely unreadable). The damage inflicted on them actually has a bit of an artistic tone to them. Here's a photo of 222 Queen Street (which is where the RMOC headquarters were before it moved to the building that's now City Hall):

I discovered that I actually had a more recent backup on an external drive, up to mid-June. From this, I was able to push the recovery rate to about 99% of my photos, since many of the damaged photos were taken before then. Here's the original of the photo above:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

War Memorial

The war memorial at Confederation Square, at the top of Elgin Street at Wellington, is designed to be larger than life. You have to go pretty high up to get a good idea of just how big a site it is (and this photo omits the vast plaza off screen to the right). I took this photo the same day I took this one of the roof of the Central Post Office.

Obviously, this is the site of Canada's annual Remembrance Day ceremony. Every November 11 at 11am, this square is filled with veterans and dignitaries, and the streets surrounding it are packed with onlookers.

Some other things become clear at this location when viewed from above. One is that the former train tunnel that runs along the Rideau Canal below the Chateau Laurier (more recently the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, and Parliamentary offices).

Another is the alignment of the Plaza Bridge. I've always been a bit confused by the layout of the concrete here (which is more slippery to bike on when it's wet), but from up above you can clearly see how it follows the Canal.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Thursday, November 7, 2013

3D Thursday: A tower comes down gently

When my hard drive crashed at the end of July, it took with it all the photos I had taken between May 30th to July 24th.

At Alex's suggestion, I had taken the drive to PC Perfect in the Glebe at the end of July. After a couple of weeks of no results, I gave up on it and moved on, but at the end of October I got a call saying that they'd been able to recover over 90% of the data! I've finally gotten it back and was able to reconstruct about 99% of the photos I'd lost.

While most of my photos were of long-term construction projects, I was particularly devastated by the loss of my photos from events like Bluesfest, Capital Vélo Fest and Doors Open Ottawa. But there was one group of construction photos that I couldn't reproduce, when Charlesfort was done with their tower crane on Lisgar:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Most of the condo projects I've seen lately have taken their tower crane down all in one go on a Saturday, but this one, a climbing crane, un-climbed itself a couple days before the weekend. The result was a tower crane only about 7 floors up amid buildings two to three times its height.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Considering we're used to seeing tower cranes high above their subjects, this was definitely a cool sight to be seen and captured!

(Another thing I had lost was the SVG graphic I started using as a watermark on my 3D photos. As you can see, I've got that back now too!)

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Metropolitan Centretown

Looking south at Bank and Gladstone on a rainy dusk in early September. (Sigh, at a quarter to 8pm!)

I'm not particularly fond of the development here, nor the way the former Metropolitan Tabernacle's façade has be entirely de-animated as it has succumbed to death-by-Shoppers. But because the building is so close to the street, the developer was forced to bury the power lines. That on its own is a plus, but in addition it has meant full-fledged streetlights instead of the light heads tacked on to wooden hydro poles.

I suppose that arguably there is a pedestrian component to that to warrant adding "Peds on Weds" to the title of this post, but really I just wanted to post this picture because I like the colours.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]
[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]