Time to brag a little, I think.
Lazily flipping through the content on the website of Popular Photography, my new favourite magazine, I was tickled pink to come across this:
The two or three of you who read this blog regularly might recognize that photograph. Yes, it’s one of mine, and if you think back you might remember it from a post about an old film camera, from early this year. So what’s it doing on PopPhoto’s site?
Most of us with school-age children, I imagine, have experienced the dreaded School Fundraising Scheme. It takes many forms, from bake sales and to book fairs, to barbeques and dance-a-thons. Things offered for sale range from T-shirts to badges and buttons, and occasionally, even magazine subscriptions.
So, not too long ago, I was faced with a brochure including an absolutely enormous list of potential mags and rags. Happy to do my part, I settled on two: Inside Track Motorsport News, a magazine that I like to support since it sponsors events that I enjoy watching, and Popular Photography. PopPhoto hits a nice point for me – aimed at the serious enthusiast, it is distinctly lacking in the pretension of higher-end, glossy photography publications.
One nice aspect of PopPhoto is that it runs monthly challenges, typically tying in with an article running in the current issue. For November, the theme was “interior photographs with available light”, meaning without flash or other additional lighting. Game for anything, I submitted that photograph, it being a better example than anything I’ve taken on any of my digital cameras.
Now, lest you think that my claim of “flipping through” the website sounds a bit disingenuous – well, it is. The fact is, I was looking to see if I’d made the list, since as far as I know, nobody is explicitly informed when they’ve been featured. What’s more fun is that this might mean I’m in the running for a prize, but we’ll see – that gallery has nineteen other photographs in it (although one of them looks to be an outdoor scene) and frankly, a lot of them look better to me than mine does. But we’ll see.
The photograph was taken in the lobby of Knox College, on the University of Toronto’s downtown St. George Campus. This handsome, Perpendicular Gothic stone pile was opened in 1915. Its lobby is filled with very pretty stonework, lovely fluted arches, and is lit with rich, warm lights.
Despite having had a relationship with the U of T campus since 1986, I don’t think I’d ever been through Knox College until a walk back across campus in late 2011, and I immediately knew I wanted to come back and shoot there. When January rolled around and I stuck the first roll of colour film in the then-new Silette, Knox was an immediate destination. Although I didn’t record all the details, I’m pretty sure I must have been holding my breath and shooting a very slow shutter speed to get enough light in, even with the lens wide open at f/2.8. But I’m glad I did, because the greeny-tan stone and the glorious gold of the lights married up nicely. The final result required very little post-processing – just a minor crop and straightening, a touch of lightening of the shadows, and a mild vibrance boost to make the golds pop a bit more.
When it came time to dig through my back catalogue of photos for a few to enter, that one was an easy choice. I also entered the one of the stone railings shown above, and one of my father-in-law engaged in a ferocious chess match with my son, this time taken with a modern DSLR.
So there you go. Three photographs submitted, and one in the running. I’m pleased as punch, and gratified that I made the first cut in the face of nearly 600 other entries. Now, we’ll just have to wait for a bit and see which photo wins overall – although I imagine a leading candidate would be the one used for the splash for the gallery on the PopPhoto homepage, a very fine photo of a stairwell at the Royal Ontario Museum – coincidentally located just a few minutes across campus from Knox.