By Mark Campbell
If you are a member of the West Rouge Residents Facebook group, then you are probably familiar with the name Colin Winn. He is a local resident who has been wowing the group with his stunning photography. His subjects vary, but the one constant is the beauty that surrounds us all here in our own backyard.
A married father of three, Winn has lived in the area since 1991. His children, two sons and a daughter, all grew up in West Rouge. His eldest, now a software engineer living in the Vancouver area, is also a recreational pilot who made it possible for his father to take some of the incredible aerial footage he has captured of the Lake Ontario shoreline, Rouge Park and the neighbourhoods in between.
Originally from Montreal, Winn is an advertising professional, specifically a freelance copywriter. Photography is the passion he pursues in his free time.
Winn stumbled into photography. In fact, his first camera was a gift. “I’m learning all the time. Nobody taught me,” he said. “It was just something I thought was a good hobby. I can hop on my bike, I’m out in the sunshine, I can be creative and it helps me connect with all these people.”
When he shows pictures to agency colleagues, the reaction is often one of surprise. People frequently associate Scarborough with the Bluffs, not the rugged beauty of Rouge Park; or the sandy stretches of Rouge Beach; or the abundant wildlife featured in many of his photographs.
When asked about his approach to photography, he said, “My philosophy is I’m trying to do as much in camera as I can. That has some challenges with things like the Pickering power plant.” He will occasionally use photo editing software to correct a blemish, but generally prefers to let the camera tell the story. Or take the picture, if you will.
One recent catch was a rare pileated woodpecker, a striking bird that can measure up 50 centimetres (20 inches) in length. “I was up in Colonel Danforth Park and I saw this flash of colour in the distance. Half the battle is to spot something and not to scare it away,” he said. “I took a shot from too far, then moved in slowly and got a couple of great shots. I couldn’t believe the size of that bird!”
Sunrises are a particular favourite. “You just know when you’re in the zone with a sunrise,” said Winn. “I don’t know if I’ll believe it later when I see it. You have four or five minutes of this perfect light.”
Since he started posting to Facebook, people have been asking for calendars featuring the local beauty he has captured. He has produced a photo book that he sells for about $140. He attributes much of the cost to the 60 pages of high-quality production.
One of his most exhilarating encounters was with a mink. “The first time I encountered a mink, it was freezing. I was just about to turn around and go back when I saw these eyes looking at me.” He adds, “I took a picture, got a little closer, took another one expecting it to run away at any moment. I was practically up in its face and it wasn’t running away, and I thought something is wrong here. It was a beautiful mink and his fur was frozen to the rock.” After unsuccessfully attempting to free it on his own, he contacted Toronto Wildlife whose volunteers were able to rescue and rehabilitate the animal.
When asked about his approach, Winn said, “I’m pretty hard on my camera. I’m crawling around on ice. I’m crawling through burrs.” But the effort shows in the product.
“My motivation is my love for this area.”
Author’s Note: Colin would be happy if we added a note that if anyone is interested in purchasing his West Rouge Photo Book, they can contact him directly at email@example.com.