By dawn I'm already downtown with my eyes on the sky recording how sunlight strikes the bank towers. The glass spires warp sunbeams over busy streets and their bounce makes beautiful scenery. That's how I start most days, and how I'll spend the rest of this morning. I'll chase bent light around the tallest parts of Toronto.
My cinematography hides in the hot spots and I hunt my art with a Panasonic DSLR camera. If I catch a good clip, I'll post it on my channels, license it for use by others, or sell it exclusive. I'm a freelance videographer, a shooter-for-hire, a stringer who gets footage for TV News. At least that's what I want to be, and what I hope to do with my life. Unlike other media professionals, I don't have any way to track the headlines, and so I have to wait for history to happen in front me.
The reflections move with the sun and bedazzle green spaces as the day matures. Anything can happen in those highlights and I try to produce interesting movies. When boys ask about my gear, my clothes or my career, I put them to work in the radiance. I make all would-be Romeos sign photo release forms and model before my lens. "Go stand in that bright patch," I'll say, "and let's take a look at you." That's how I recorded all the videos in my Banker Takes a Break series.
People usually think sunny days are best for taking pictures but they're wrong. Without cloud-cover, the concrete is too high contrast. Human eyeballs get annoyed and that means sunglasses and ball caps hide every face and Coronavirus masks complete the eclipse. Any subjects without such accessories have raccoon eyes. But on the other hand, I can set a shallow focus which makes soft backgrounds and blurry light blossoms. That's called bokeh and you need a fast lens. Bright days also yield real sharp images on the far end of my telescopic. I've been practicing my long-lens photography for a while now and I guess that's why I consider myself a huntress. I'm always looking for news-worthy incidents and ways to help underdogs fight their oppressors. I'm like Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks who says he enjoys crushing bastards. I feel like that too when I publish media that shames negligent pet owners, unsafe employers, selfish parkers, and rude commuters.
To enjoy any success as a freelancer requires more than good camera skills. All by myself, I have to sense each scene before it happens, and then pray it works out in my frame. Most of my shots begin a minute too late, or take a wrong turn. But how can anyone know what's going to happen next? It is possible; that's the secret I've already learned. The solution is to slow down, look around and listen. Toronto is a four-dimensional jungle but it gives fair warning. Victims shout, horns honk, dogs bark; any of these signs will pique my brain to life-in-progress. This morning, a bicycle bell rung in anger catches my ears and shifts my eyes.
"Get out of the bike lane!" A courier yells at a taxi. The cyclist is long gone before I compose the shot. I stand on the north side of King street just west of Spadina. I breathe through my nose so as not to jiggle the lens. This cabbie is breaking the law. He slows his car to unload a passenger in the part of the road that's reserved for bicycles. I can add this to my collection. That means something. Only one in a hundred videos is worth posting on my channel. I usually walk for hours and come home with nothing. The orange and green Beck Taxi rolls to a stop in a perfectly dappled window-reflection. Sometimes everything just clicks.
The rear door opens and light brown shoes emerge. Black and yellow argyle socks and brown dress pants follow. The rider steps out and I have to tilt-up. He's a tall man with fair hair, a white mask and mahogany blazer. He sees my camera and squints. He knows I'm focused on him. One glance back at the cab and he knows why. Now he must imagine I'm making a video to highlight the public's contempt for bicycles. He's right. I call it Bike Lane Blockers.
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Toni Petti LIVEMystery / Thriller
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