Photos: Nikon F401S
Photos: Nikon F401S
It’s 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning. I grab my phone from my side table and open up Facebook Messenger to see who might be awake. Hrm… my friend Diane messaged me.
J: Whatcha doing today?
D: Hopefully get some work done
J: Wanna go exploring instead?
D: I’m down hahah I could just work during the week
I’m a big advocate for spontaneous/surprise friend dates ever since my friend Hannah took me and another friend on a surprise trip to go berry picking. I was so excited Diane was down to go on a mystery trip with me!
My usual pal Amanda couldn’t join me this time, and unfortunately a lot of the planned park spots aren’t open until May. With no real plan in mind, I opened up Google Maps looked around to choose a spot. I based my decision purely on the fact that I was craving fish and chips. The winning spot ended up being a small town called Port Dover on Lake Eerie.
It was a rainy morning in this tiny beach town, and we ended up at a restaurant by the water called The Beach House. We got a sweet view of the lake as we ate beer battered yellow perch & deep-fried smelt.
Luckily the rain let up after we finished eating :)
We saw a cute lighthouse along the water not too far from where we ate, so of course we had to go and check it out. There were a few fishermen along the dock and we went around a small fence to get to the spot.
Apparently we weren’t supposed to be in there and almost got in trouble with the police on our way out. Whoops.
So we didn’t actually end up going to a park this time – but we tried – we went to Long Point, which is a neat looking peninsula-like extension on the map about 20 minutes away, and my car almost got stuck in mud heading into the conservation area. It was essentially all marshland in the middle of nowhere though, so I don’t think we missed out.
As a consolation, we yelped for ice cream and found Twin’s Ice Cream Parlor in Port Rowan on the way back up.
I met Diane four years ago at a Toronto Girl’s Longboarding event and we’ve been pals ever since. She always has good vibes and is always down for a good city skate! I’m glad I got the chance to shoot her on this spontaneous adventure (without our skateboards!)
Oh yeah, she’s also an incredible animator. You can check out some of her work here.
Make spontaneous surprise friend dates a thing!!
Locations: Port Dover, Port Rowan
Photos: Nikon D3400
On trip numero tres, Amanda and I, with no friends joining us, attempted Hamilton a second time to to see the falls. As per day-trip tradition, we went for brunch first. It was my first time in Hamilton and thanks to Instagram, I was able to find this gem of a brunch, Saint James Espresso Bar.
Saint James Espresso Bar is the cutest little brunch spot with limited seating and a wait-time comparable to Toronto. It was about a 40 minute wait, so we decided to go exploring!
Unfortunately, most of the stores on the main strip were closed on Sunday, but we managed to find some great graffiti and ~aesthetic~ walls to get excited about and take photos in front of. We accidentally vest-twinned but also managed to wear the perfect colour combination of clothes for a Matching Background Series.
We soon got called back in and with only 5 items on the menu (one vegetarian option) I had avocado toast with bacon and home fries. It also had lentils and a perfect sunny side up egg. It was blessed (with three praying hands emojis). Their coffee was also spectacular and their espresso, strong.
Full, and with coffee in our veins, we set off to Tiffany Falls (after being distracted by one last graffiti wall). Being a little overzealous, we paid for three hours of parking, only to find the trail was literally about 5 minutes long until you reached the falls – whoops.
There were some cute bridges on this path, and I had ton of fun tromping through the ravine in my waterproof boots and being able to get to some good spots for a shot.
We got incredibly lucky with the weather – sunny but still cold enough for the falls to be snow-laden and icy. The winter aesthetic was perfect – just what I had hoped for… last month.
I wanted to take more photos except I made the wrong decision in getting too close to the falls – the spray quickly obscured my ability to take anymore crisp photos soon after following Amanda in.
We originally wanted to go waterfall hopping since we were in “Waterfall Capital of the World” but after getting up close and personal with Tiffany, our dampness pushed us to end our day.
A quarter way through and on to the next!
– Microfiber cloth for camera lens
– Avoid water.
Shout out to L.L. Bean for their amazing boots.
Photos: Nikon D3400
March 19, 2017
For our second park exploration adventure, we planned to go see some waterfalls in Hamilton. We soon realized that although it was the most perfect gorgeous warm winter day, it was probably not warm enough for the falls to be fully melted, so instead, we spontaneously made a decision to go to Rattlesnake Point Conservation area in Milton.
We’re quickly realizing that we are not exactly the most competent outdoors-women – that’s to say we kind of got lost in the parking lot and couldn’t read a map properly to find the entrance to the trails. Each trip we’re learning something to take away for the next. This time we thought to to read and notice trail markers so we don’t accidentally get lost in the woods forever.
Ten minutes into our “hike” we came across a moss patch. Suffice to say, we were enthralled by this moss patch and it was the highlight of our day. Maybe it’s the excitement of seeing something green again.. but really, I think moments like this just reinforce why we are best friends.
It was also really muddy. Boots were a good choice.
We hiked for maybe 30 minutes before we sat down on a bench overlooking the escarpment to chat for another 45 minutes. We didn’t get very far in the 1.7 km trail but it was the most gorgeous sunny #springvibes day.
After soaking up some sun rays, we decided to return to our lovely moss patch to get a few more photos before heading out. What we thought would be a few minutes turned into a full-fledged photoshoot because the 5 PM sun was on point.
I’m starting to learn that I might not actually particularly enjoy the act of hiking per se, but I seem to enjoy it more as an excuse for some good conversations and a backdrop for photography and some creative expression.
Maybe if we go to some parks that had more sights to see, or a peak and end goal to reach, it would be more exciting and satisfying to actually hike or do the full trail.
At this point, it started to get cold and we were tight on time because I had a dinner to rush to, but our last lesson of the day was that the key to natural-looking model poses is being completely exhausted and annoyed at the photographer.
On to the next!
Photos: Nikon D70S
One of my goals for this year is to go to one Canadian Park each month in celebration of Canada’s 150th free parks pass. I haven’t done too many naturey things in the past (“I hate bugs”; “it’s too hot”; “it’s too cold”), so this year I chose to challenge my feelings and discomforts about the outdoors – because come on, how can anyone not like nature?
I decided to drag my good friend Amanda along to join me on this adventure-commitment. For having known each other for at least 10 years and being best friends, we don’t see each other too often.
Everything is better with friends, so for our first trip, we invited our friend Tammy, who was visiting from out of town, and her 15-month old baby.
The first park on our list was Rockwood Provincial Park in Halton Hills. It isn’t actually part of the parks promotion, so it was $6 per person. We went in a little blind, not knowing what to see or expect, but chose this park because it was the only one we found that would be “kid-friendly” and stroller-accessible. We made a quick stop in the tiny town of Rockwood for lunch at Eramosa River Café before setting off.
It was cold that day, but it made the park super serene. The first thing we came across was the stone ruins of an old mill from the 1800s. It was one of the main features of this park and we thought It would make the perfect wedding set up.
I haven’t really taken photos in awhile, and with the advancement of phone cameras, sometimes it feels redundant to carry a DSLR around, but I think this whole thing is a good opportunity to practice slowing down a little bit, to experiment, and to see.
We didn’t get too far, but came across some caves which was another feature of the park. We made a pit stop here to warm up and play with icicles. Suffice to say, my toes started to get numb.
After the caves, we decided to head back, only getting through a quarter of the trail (if that) and waved down some strangers to take our photo. With some baby and weather limitations, we couldn’t get very far, but I think we’re off to a great start!
Photos: Nikon D70s, iPhone 6?
Something short and fun on my impromptu trip to Hong Kong. I brought my skateboard and followed my sister around as she went for a run.
Equipment: Sony Actioncam HDR-AS100V
Music: Heirloom – Basenji
A last-minute pseudo video from my New York trip that is made of approximately 1500 time-lapse photos.
Equipment: Sony Actioncam HDR-AS100V
Music: Gold Watch – Lupe Fiasco
Most people have been to New York at least once by now, and if they haven’t, they’re sure to have seen the same pictures and places posted over and over again…
This was my third time, and my first time going on a trip with just one other person. It was a spontaneous idea for the two of us to immerse ourselves in pseudo hipsterdom for four days and hunt for gems in New York. Save for MoMa and the mandatory Halal Guys meal, we avoided as many common tourist spots as we could and spent a fair chunk of time in Brooklyn.
This is Amanda. I’ve known her for about 8 years now. She loves Targét, Trader Joes, cereal aisles and thinks American packaging design is extremely quaint. We essentially like the same things at varying intensities. We concluded that my subdued enthusiasm and her occasional manic excitement balanced each other out pretty well during this trip.
We stayed at this AirBnB in Bushwick, Brooklyn. This place was a 4-bedroom unit in a renovated old four-story building. We chose our accommodations carefully (read as: we were sold purely on the aesthetic – air plants! wood things!). We spent the first hour here taking pictures (friends who Instagram together, stay together?).
We were excited to find out we had rooftop access in our building. It was a wide flat space which must be perfect for parties in the summer. As you can see, it’s all trucks and factories in this neighbourhood. It was quiet at night with only a few hole-in-the-wall bars and a couple of health food stores open.
Although Bushwick was rather industrial, there were blasts of vividly coloured graffiti at every turn.
It was cold. Anyone who knows me at all knows I can’t handle the cold weather. Without exaggeration, I wore 6 top layers, 2 bottom layers, and 3 head layers most days. And although yes, my balaclava makes me look rather badass, its functional purpose was just as, if not more, important. I wouldn’t be surprised if I lost weight after this trip from all the walking and shivering.
Roberta’s is a famous pizza joint in Brooklyn. This is their take-out entrance. They have a separate entrance for their restaurant which was deceptively huge, dark, and full of hipsters. The pizza was on point.
We headed to downtown Brooklyn to explore and made it to the water (East River) It was freezing but Amanda insisted I sit and bust out a sketch so she could take photos of me. It was nice to relax by the water – if only it were a warm summer’s day.
After recharging our phoneular devices and rehydrating at Starbucks, we had little time left to find this spot before the sun set. This is a famous spot for a shot of the Manhattan Bridge (sorry friends, I’m not that creative!). It was a gorgeous neighbourhood with more galleries that we didn’t get to see many of.
We continued to explore along the water as night fell. If you look carefully in the distance, farther along by the water was a lit up glass box of a building. It looked to me, from a distance, to be some kind of dinner party lit up with string lights…
…but in fact, it was a carousel! out of nowhere! in a glass room! by the water! It cost $2 per ride and they mark your ticket with a hand-drawn heart! I died.
We rode the carousel, duh.
The Manhattan Bridge lights made the scene all the more whimsical, imitating string lights hanging behind this magical glass carousel room.
On the last day, we split up for a bit, planning to meet up back at home to catch our flight. I skated to Williamsburg which was less than half an hour away on board and was surprised to find there was lots of gorgeous graffiti on the way there.
In the morning, I quickly Yelped what was cool in Williamsburg and went into a state of frenzy when I found out that it was the home base of Mast Brothers Chocolate Makers. Have you ever gone to the Drake General Store or similar and seen the chocolate bars wrapped in beautifully patterned wrappers? They’re from here!
All the chocolate is made primarily in this one space. The Mast Brothers are two tall bearded men (shocking). The wrapping is all designed within the company (family/friends) and no, they wouldn’t sell me any paper :-(
They hand-sticker all their chocolate bars. They do it all by hand. My greatest regret is that we had to leave before the touring time.
A few blocks down behind a heavy metal door was their old space, which was now turned into a “Brewed Chocolate Bar” which, contrary to my belief, was not hot chocolate of any sort, but brewed cacao (pronounced “ka-cow”, apparently) beans, which made it taste like chocolate tea.
Gem after gem, I continued a few more steps down the street and found a little shop called the Brooklyn Art Library. Curious, I went inside to find it was a reference library… of people’s sketchbooks from all over the world!
Anyone who wants to participate in “The Sketchbook Project” can purchase one of their sketchbooks, fill it up and send it back to have it toured around a few cities for awhile, and then forever stored at this location for anyone to peruse.
What a unique and lovely concept. I stayed here for awhile just browsing people’s sketchbooks, taking it all in, and using their wi-fi.
As quickly as we came, it was time to leave New York. Our flight was delayed for 3 hours, so we ate Combos and watched The Fifth Element for the first time.
After a tiring and cold 4-day trip spending almost 3 of 4 full days together, we managed to stay friends. Hooray! Amanda suggested I make a video. I had no plans to make a video, but my photos were conveniently taken on a 1-second time-lapses, making it easy to put something together. You can watch it here.
December 12-15, 2014
Sony ActionCam HDR-AS100V
It was a beautiful fall day – warm but crisp and sandwiched between endless cold and wet ones. The weather turned out perfectly for walking around Sunnybrook Park and taking photos of my friend’s 6-month old puppy.
This bridge was a lovely entrance into the wooded area of the park. I never knew that Sunnybrook Park had a large wooded space with trails. I came here once for my first 5k run but that was centralized to an open field-like area.
This is Koda, my friend’s 6-month old Australian Shepherd.
This is my friend, Andrea. I’ve known her since we were in Grade 1. If you grew up without a dog as part of your family, you’ve probably wanted one at some point in your life. Most families never waver in their decision to be dog-less, but years later at 23, Andrea fulfilled the dream!
Off-leash and excited, it was Koda’s first time running around and experiencing the satisfying crunch of leaves under-paw.
All in all, it was a beautiful day to go for a walk and practice my shooting. It was definitely tricky to compose good shots with Koda running around all over the place, but I think I managed to get a few good ones.
Sunnybrooke Park, Toronto
Photos: Nikon D70S, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5