Davidís photographic journey

Photographers typically chat about photographs more than their cameras, but recently all our chat has been about the Ďdigital eraí. Itís been a confusing time for many of us who turned our photography expertise into thriving businesses years ago. With the beginnings of the digital era, all of a sudden a photograph wasnít a photograph anymoreóit was an Ďimageí, ASA became ISO, there were TIFFS and j-pegs, and the mighty RAW, and f-stops of 7.1 and 10 were totally foreign to us. At the height of my career, my Hassleblad and its myriad of lenses, including the most beautiful wide surface of glass Iíve ever owned Ėthe 40mm Distagon lensóbecame obsolete almost overnight. My darkroom became a workplace of the past, and my beautiful Schneider-Kreuznach lenses began collecting dust. Colour film labs in the city were in trouble, or trying desperately to convert to digital. It was very frightening; to a large extent, a fear of the unknown. It was a bittersweet experience that some immediately embraced, while others felt pathetically lost. More so, converting to digital brought with it a new knowledge- base and expenses many of us couldnít keep up with. Some of us bought huge digital and Photoshop learning manuals. Donít publishers know that photographers donít read? (After all, thatís why we became photographers.) File management? I need a University Degree to file my many images! None of us knew what we do now about the amount of time weíd spend staring into a computer screen late at night.

Over the years, the benefits of the digital era emerged. No film labs, no expensive colour prints, instant digital images viewed through Photoshop, the ability to change from 100ISO to 800ISO with the flick of a button, no film, no film loading: Wow! Many photographers, including myself, finally embraced digital photography and recognized that Photoshop wasnít wicked at all. It is basically a darkroom, except you donít have to turn the lights off. These days I save a few j-pegs, delete a few j-pegs, and send j-pegs through the internet to family, friends and loved ones around the world. Instant gratification! Many fine art photographers continue to produce splendid silver bromide prints in their darkrooms, with the lights off, agitating their film and prints, and God bless them!

I invite you to go to High Park, see the glorious trilliums in spring, the mighty black oak leaves in summer, the cacophony of colour in the fall, and feel the brutal north wind that blows across Grenadier Pond in the winter. Photography is a learnt profession, just like art. Iíve tried to shoot like Yousuf Karsh or paint like Christopher Pratt. I gave that up a long time ago: Iíll settle for being David Allen.



Davidís photographic journey 2012

For the 2011 High Park calendar, my designer friend, David Johns, who did the fine job of assembling the 2011 calendar and this calendar, thought I should have some text titled ĎDavidís Photographic Journeyí. I wrote text, trying to be very careful, trying to make it interesting for the reader. As Iíve said many times before, a photographer becomes a photographer for a variety of reasonsóbut if they could read or write, maybe they would have become something else. I donít want to repeat what I wrote last year, this is Part 2; hopefully, next year will be Part 3. Iíve saved Part 1 from last yearís calendar on my website at www.highparkphotos.ca. My website also contains information on my High Park walks, ďPhoto BuffĒ courses, and dates for festivals and arts & crafts shows I do in the neighbourhood throughout the year.

For the 2012 calendar, while I continue to take photos in High Park, I have become more selective about the images I shoot. If the sky isnít just right, I wait for another opportunity. This year, I also considered shooting ĎThe Flowers of High Parkí, or ĎThe Animals of High Parkí, but to be perfectly honest, Iím not that kind of nature photographer. To achieve that, I would need to spend a lot more time in the park, and Iíd need to buy a few big telephoto lenses, which also would require shooting with a tripod. One of my daughters lives near Richmond Park, west of London, England. This park comprises 2500 acres of crown park land complete with wild deer, while High Park is 399 acres. As I wander around there, I think Iíd love to spend a year recording the seasonsówith the weather not as extreme as that in Canada, these images would be very different.

In 2011, Iíve been a part of a number of activities that have inspired me. I was invited to be part of the Doors Open weekend and showed my High Park photos at the Coach House at Colborne Lodge, and that was lots of fun. I also started a new collection of photographs (www.outsidethedashboard.com). Where did this idea come from? I guess it came about from being a typical Torontonian, where winter is not always my favourite season, and I wanted to keep clicking away from an easier vantage point. (If you check out the website, youíll see that all the photos are taken from inside my car).

Iíve always believed that photography is a learned profession, just like art. Iíve tried to shoot like Yousuf Karsh or paint like Christopher Pratt, but I gave that up a long time ago: Iíll settle for being David Allen.

See you next year!



Davidís photographic journey 2013


This is my fourth High Park calendar, featuring images taken in 2011/2012. This year I wanted to capture more activities in the park than previous years, from tree pruning, to the streetcars that run through High Park, to the annual burn.

I have dedicated a month to the Morris dancers, who come to High Park from all over Ontario on May 1st to celebrate May Day in the pre-dawn darkness with dance and song. I have also dedicated a month to the volunteers who have worked so very hard to save the High Park Zoo. This is the first High Park calendar where I havenít included the glorious spring Ďsakuraí that we wait for each year.

Although I have captured more activities this year, I didnít want these photographs to detract from the nature in the park that we all enjoy so much and which is still heavily feature in this yearís calendar.

Although I rarely enhance my High Park images in Photoshop, Iím now starting to recognize that Photoshopping can lend a new dimension to some of my photographs, as you will see in January and April. Before digital photography and Photoshop technology, photographers developed their photos in film labs and any enhancements and modifications were left to design studios and advertising agencies. Now, digital photographers can have complete control of their images, during shooting and after shooting.

Iíve always believed that photography is a learnt profession, just like art. However, I gave up on trying to emulate prominent photographers and artists a long time ago and am happy to settle for being David Allen, High Park Photographer.

Finally, a note of thanks to those who have contributed to this yearís calendar, especially Katy Allen, Jessica Smith, David Lunn, Marilyn Daniels and Cheryl Hart.

See you next year!



Davidís photographic journey 2014


As I put together my calendar year after year, Iím always fearful of becoming repetitious, as my photographs are taken within the same 399 acres of parkland. I hope you will recognize that Iím continually trying to find new directions to excite both myself, and the viewer.

One of the new directions that Iíve taken for the 2014 calendar is to invite photographer Rui Lopes to show one of his very fine High Park images for the month of April. For next yearís calendar, I would like to take this a step further by inviting other photographers, both amateur and professional, to submit their High Park photos; one of which I will choose to feature for a given month in 2015ís calendar. Instructions on how to submit your photos can be found on Aprilís calendar page.

Another new direction that I am considering is in regards to lenses. Generally, I enjoy the discipline of shooting with less equipment, but recently Iíve been toying with the idea of purchasing another lens for my High Park photographs. Right now, I have two lenses; a 18-55mm lens and a rather slow 300mm lens. Except for the flower collage for the month of August, the rest of this yearís images were taken with the 18-55mm lens. This lens is referred to as a ďkit lensĒ as it is quite basic, relatively inexpensive and comes with the camera. Personally, I find this lens to be a bit boring and not particularly sharp, especially around the edges. For next year, Iím considering investing in a 10-20mm lens, which will give my pictures of the High Park a whole new dimension by making everything more refined.

Thanks to Rui, Mel, Gloria, David Lunn, Jessica, my daughter and editor, daughter Katy for good advise, and once again, David Johns who designed this calendar one more time.

See you next year!


Davidís photographic journey 2015


Well, here it is, my sixth High Park calendar! So, did we all survive the winter of 2013 Ė 2014? This past winter reminded me of when I used to photograph gold mines in Northern Ontario in the 70s and 80s. I usually went in February or March, and it was always desperately cold. I asked to go in May one year, expecting a pleasant change, but realized Iíd made a huge mistake when I arrived to find it was black fly season!

My photo competition for the 2015 calendar was a great success; so much so, that Iím running it again for next year. Check out the winning photo (April) and I think youíll instantly understand why it was worthy. What an amazing sight in High Park, and so beautifully captured. To the rest of the participants, I wish I could have printed all your photos and made winners out of all of you. Well done, keep shooting.

My biggest disappointment in 2013 was not buying another lens. Well, in April of 2014, I purchased a brand new 10-18mm Canon lens. Iím seeing High Park in a whole new perspective.

I have been meeting with and chatting to some very interesting photographers this year, some of whom Iíve known for decades. Theyíre all busy, vibrant people, and I love that I can use Google to follow their endeavours. I've listed their names and websites below, check them out!

Ray Boudreau: www.boudreauphotography.com
Peter Bryenton (UK): www.brypix.com
Steve Cooper: www.wstephencooper.com
Mary Ann Donohue: www.donohuephoto.ca
Ron Elmy: www.ronelmy.com
Dave Hill: www.dhillphotos.com
David Johns: www.davidjohns-portraits.ca
Rui Lopes: www.ruilopes.ca
Bob Wigington: www.robertwigington.com

Thanks to the following people for some great copy: Sonya Dittkrist (April pic & copy), Friends of the High Park Zoo Board (August) and Ray Boudreau (November), as well as my daughters, Jessica Smith for editing, Katy Allen for advice, and finally David Johns who once again designed this yearís calendar.




Davidís photographic journey 2016


EACH YEAR I meet people who send my calendar to relatives and around the world, and itís thrilling to know that people in many countries are enjoying the ďjewelĒ of Torontoís park system. Over 13 million tourists visit Toronto each year, and I like to think that they leave recognizing how much our fair city has to offer. Grenadier Pond is the largest pond in Toronto, and I recognize that itís rarely featured in my cards or calendars. In ďthe old daysĒ there were rowboats for rental, and I remember taking my kids out for lazy Sunday boat rides in the summer. I would love to capture a hazy summer evening with rowing boats in the pond.

This is the 3rd year Iíve held a competition for photographers to submit photographs, and Iím thrilled to present another winner, Irene Wilk, who has her photo on the March page. I think Irene has been taking pictures as long as I have, sheís always out there trying to outdo herself. She attends many of my walks and also volunteers for High Park. Once again, to the rest of the competition participants, well done, keep shooting and please introduce yourself to me at one of my fall or winter functions, and Iíll give you a calendar.

Thanks to the following people : Irene Wilk for March and April images, A.J. Alberti for the April copy, Lisa Rainford for words on Ben ďthe BirdmanĒ Holloway.

Iíve thoroughly enjoyed assembling the calendar over the last seven years. Itís a team effort. I would like to thank my daughter Jessica for editing. David Johns for design, and local printer, Reg T. Brown Ltd.



Davidís photographic journey 2017


Iíve been taking pics in High Park for about ten years, and this is my eighth High Park calendar. One of the reasons I became a photographer was to create a bit of excitement in my life. As Iíve always said: back in the 60ís, it was either rock star or photographer, and I got bored of being a rock star!

At times I feel my relationship with High Park is getting slightly stale and I need to make the effort to keep things exciting. My favourite shooting time, before the sun rises, is taken over 5 times a week by my morning swim between 6 and 8am. I love my morning swims and itís an activity that Iíve been very committed to over the past couple of years. You canít quite capture that dramatic dawn light at any other time of day, so all of a sudden, my portfolio of photos has become smaller. For me, itís all about striking a balance between photography and my other interests.

This is the 4th year Iíve held a very friendly competition for people to submit photographs of High Park for inclusion in the calendar. The winner this year is Meredith Pow and you can see her fine image on the August page. Well done Meredith! To the other participants, thank you, keep shooting and please introduce yourself to me at one of my fall or winter functions, and Iíll give you a calendar.