This metal globe has occupied a high-traffic spot in Parkdale since 2005. It’s one of those places where things are set up in such an unusual way that you can’t help but imagine people skating it, and, with its location clearly visible from the road, sidewalk, and streetcar route along Queen St, the globe has done everything but hide from public view. I’m pretty sure nearly all of the skaters that had ever occupied my car in proximity to the sculpture have brought up the possibility of getting a trick on the side of the globe. Even a couple of pros well suited to the terrain had checked it out over the years. Whatever the case, it seemed like nobody had ever successfully made the jump from skating the lip of the small stone bank to riding the rough metal fish scales that make up the solid surface of the sphere.
This day was one of the first times this year that the weather was good enough to skate outside. I was planning on bringing all of my gear with me, including flashes, but when I go into my car to drive to the spot, the battery was dead. I decided to ditch my lighting bag and bring a slimmed down kit in case the day would involve a lot of skating between spots. Once the crew met up and skated the first spot we’d planned to check out, we ended up walking by this one. Lee Yankou and I decided to try and shoot a Frontside Wallride for a few minutes, and, after finding the right path through the rough bump and a bit of problem solving, Lee managed to ride away from a couple of them.
Any idea I’d ever had about a photo at this spot definitely involved some controlled lighting and a lot of planning, but, for whatever reason, this just happened to be the day that my car broke down, my flashes were at home, and we were on foot at a spot I would usually drive past on my way to a different destination with the passive attitude that “we’ll check it another time.” We were also there at the time where the angle of the sun was in the perfectly wrong spot for a natural light photo—if you take a look at the highlight on the sphere and the shadows on the right side, the skater should be extremely dark compared to the surrounding area. I really had a hard time figuring out how to work with the conditions, but, while we were shooting, a sparse layer of cloud moved in front of the sun, creating a unique quality of light that softened the shadows while maintaining a warm, bright scene. The result was a photo with a look that I never could have planned and likely couldn’t have shot properly in any other conditions. I’m normally a bit of a stickler when it comes to having technical control over the photo I’m shooting, but situations like these are always a nice reminder that it can be just as good to embrace the chaos of it all and see what happens.
Words and photo by James Morley