(mostly) daily photoblog

Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween! Scary pumpkin faces, anyone?

Here’s a bunch of carvings I saw tonight while trick-or-treating with the kids.  I figured I’d share.  Some of them were pretty intricate.  A lot better than any of the pumpkins I carved when I was young.  I hope you had a safe and fun Halloween this year.

Sky on Fire

I figure that, when taking photos, luck and observation take equal parts.

Observation takes some practice.  As a photographer, I’m learning to notice things that most people don’t.  Whether it’s the aperture and shutter speed on my camera, or the detail in a car’s grill, I’ve been trying to take close notice of everything that gets overlooked in everyday life.

Luck, however, is often the difference between finding and not finding a subject.  Tonight, as I was helping my daughter finish carving a pumpkin, I noticed that the houses behind ours had an odd glow.  I ran into the front room and pulled the blinds up to find the sunset was lighting the clouds on fire.  It was incredible.  Ten minutes later, it was gone.  If I hadn’t looked up at the time I did, I would have missed it.  Lucky me.

Photography:  50% observation, 50% luck.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Hidden

When I read the topic for this week’s photo challenge, I was stuck.

I thought about taking a shot of this lovely, vintage door someone near our house restored and used as a gate to their backyard.  It makes me think there’s something great hidden back there and I can just see a hint of it through the old glass in the door.

I thought about trying to snap a shot of my kids hiding somewhere in the house.

Then, tonight, I opened up the fridge and had a flash of brilliance.  The fridge.  I’ve had those moments when I’ve said to my wife, “Have you seen the eggs?”  Then she finds them behind the margarine.  Or, “Do we have any peppers?”  “Yup, they’re in the back.”  “Back where?”  “They’re in there, I know they are.”  Two weeks later there’s a nasty smell and then I find the peppers.  Or what’s left of them.

Between the crispers and the shelves and the…well…there’s just too many places to hide in a fridge.

Hidden.  The wordpress photo challenge.


Photo Friday’s gone wide angle

This is pretty.  Really pretty.  They (whoever “they” are) say that smog causes pretty sunsets.  Is it politically, morally, ethically, environmentally, logically incorrect to say that at least smog has one aesthetic upside?  Seriously, let’s clean up the earth, but keep the pretty sunsets.


“Style is the mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward” – Robert Frost.

I’ve always loved Frost’s poetry and the image of circles like this brings me back to his imagery.



500? Really? 500? That’s awesome!

This is my 500th post on WordPress.

I’d like to thank all of you for the fun and encouragement and compliments and…well, for being nice to me.   So…thanks.

And here’s to the next 500.  Wish me luck.

By the way, the flower above was the closest thing to a photo of fireworks that I had.

Black and white always makes me feel cold.

What is it about black and white photos that feels so cold?

It was a very cool morning when I shot this.  I was wearing a cardigan sweater and t-shirt and freezing my niblets off as I stood on the back end of the ferry to take this shot.  When I was playing around with this in processing, I flipped the RAW photo to grayscale and felt that the photo suddenly matched the feeling that I had while I was on the ferry.

So, why it is that black and white photos feel cold?  Anyone?

Give me that old time religion…

…and I’ll show you some cool old buildings.

Actually, I’ve never found a cool way to shoot the insides of these kind of buildings, but the outsides are always so nice.

What I particularly liked about this one was the sign hanging over the Community Center door.  You can only see the tail end of the banner, but here’s what it said:  “God invented Chocolate – and other potential myths.”  I thought that was particularly funny.

To be truthful, I liked the juxtaposition between the old church building and the new condominium building to its right.  That’s why I shot this.



What’s the opposite of sunset?

Is the opposite “moon-set”?

Is moonset even a word?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that the Sunday morning last week was chilly and beautiful and wonderful.  The moon had not yet set to the west of Vancouver Island and the sky was blue and the water was blue and…well…it was great.

And, yes, that tiny dot in the sky is the moon.  I promise.

Claustrophobic nightmare…or romantic Titanic moment?

Welcome to the bottom deck of a BC Ferry.  We had the pleasure of attending my brother-in-law’s wedding in Victoria, BC last weekend.  I hadn’t been to Victoria since the last time we attended a wedding there, back in 1995.  I forgot what it’s like to travel on the ferry to get to Vancouver Island.

The ride over, from Tsawassen to the island, was on the upper deck of the Coastal Celebration.  We stayed in the car and watched the Gulf Islands slide by.  I got out and took some shots of some of the islands and vistas.  It was quite nice.

We ended up on the lower deck on the way home.  Once the ferry is full, the doors close and the bottom deck is completely closed up.  And…that’s when the claustrophobia settled in.  I’m not claustrophobic, normally, but my mind flashed back to one of the most insipid movies I’ve ever seen:  Titanic.  I was sitting on the lower deck thinking of the steerage passengers who had no chance of survival once the water started in and none of them had a clue that it was coming.  Oh sure, my mind could have traveled back to the beauty of Kate Winslet, or a certain sweaty moment…in a car…on the lower deck of the ship.  I was in a car on the lower deck of a boat with my wife.  That’s where my mind could have gone.

But it didn’t.  It went to, “Hey!  If this thing starts to sink, we won’t even know.”

Thanks, stupid brain.  Thanks a lot.

Click on the photo above, btw, if you want to see it in more detail.

Hey Eraserhead! Do you know who your director is?

Lynch, that’s who.  Or, as the tagger left it, LYNCH!

This little photo opportunity presented itself in Victoria.  I was shooting some great vistas of my Province’s capital when I looked left and saw a street art homage to the most twisted film I’ve ever seen.  That film is “Eraserhead” and I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to remember that film.  Now, I don’t know what spawned the inspiration for this little bit of stencil art, but if I had any artistic skill I don’t think I would have used it for this.

Still, the opportunity presented itself.



Don’s Food Market


I don’t know who Don is, but his grocery store looks very cool.  I particularly like the juxtaposition of a very old building that has been put to a modern use.

I’m a bit tired out this week, though, so I’ll leave it at that.  Perhaps all of you have something to add.

See you tomorrow.


The leg. (Pronounced “ledge”)

This is the British Columbia Parliament Building, home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.  It is…affectionately (?) known as “The Leg”.  This is not, however, pronounced “leg”, as in the appendages of your body attached to the hip, extending down to your feet.  It is pronounced “ledge”, as in legislature, legislative, jump off the ledge.



Set your mind adrift…

I don’t know what’s more interesting – the boats on the water, waiting to take their owners on watery adventures, or the reflections of the boats in the water.

Photographically speaking, I’m enamored of the reflections.  I love how everything is mirrored, but not quite exactly.  There’s that wavering quality that suggests that the world below is just like ours, but dreamier.


How can government be so…dumb…when they meet in a place like this?

This is the Legislature building in Victoria, BC.  It is beautiful and old.  Click on the photo above and you can see more detail.

It was built from 1893 to 1896.  It is remarkable in its details.

So, my question is, “How can a group of individuals meet regularly in this amazing building and get nothing done?”  Someone, or ones, spent a great deal of time and effort making sure that this place looks the way it does.  The least we could do is elect people who are effective in their jobs, care about more than getting re-elected or avoiding criticism and are selfless civil servants.

Wow, I am feeling the rants tonight.  Sorry.  Enjoy the pretty building.


A view of history

This is St. Ann’s Academy in Victoria, BC.  During the reception for my brother-in-law’s wedding this weekend, I took the opportunity to shoot the area surrounding the Parkside Resort and Spa.  Across the street from Parkside is St. Ann’s Academy.  It’s been a lot of different things in the more than hundred years it’s been around, but one thing that’s not changed is the beauty of this old building.

We do not build buildings like this anymore.


Late night post: sunset

This is the sunset in our province’s capital city.  I’m in Victoria for a wedding (it was beautiful, by the way) and the reception was held on the top floor of a hotel.  This is one of the shots I managed to take while eating appetizers and meeting new people – well, new to me, anyway.

Sorry this is so late.  I hope you like it.


There’s a possibility here…

This is the lead singer of the band Hedley.  They performed at We Day in Vancouver.  I met this guy a few years ago, long before he was as famous as he is now.  He was riding high on the opening enthusiasm of being in a band and had all the attitude to go with it.  He can sing.  He can perform.  He’s got the energy of a cocaine-addicted squirrel.

Here’s where the possibility kicks in.  A few years ago, he and his band connect with Craig and Marc Kielburger and their foundation Free The Children.  He goes to Kenya and becomes a spokesperson and performer for them and their “We Day”.

It reminds me that there’s always a possibility for change.  From ego-centric to selfless.  From “into me” to inspirational.

There’s a possibility in everyone.  We should tap into that.

We Day: Awesome!

We Day was so awesome that it almost deserves two or three exclamation marks.  It won’t get the extra punctuation, as I am an English teacher and extraneous punctuation is unnecessary and a horrible sin against all things great about writing.

If you’re not familiar with We Day, you should look it up.  There we 18000 students, aged 12 to 18, packed into Rogers Arena to hear amazing speakers like Michel Chikwanine and Mikhail Gorbachev and other speakers whose names did not start with “M”.  Also, you should “like” it on Facebook.  For every “like”, corporate sponsors add a dollar to the cause.  One million “likes” equals one million dollars.  Kind of cool.

More tomorrow.


I am not Tony Stark.  I am one of the few men that I know who knows how to iron his own clothes.  I am one of the few men who irons his own clothes – it’s not enough to know how, you have to practice.  My old iron died this last week, so I got to buy a new one and, what with my new, more mature fashion choices, I am quickly becoming enamored of my new iron.

So here are some tips for all the men out there who can’t iron their own clothes:   Start with the backside of the collar.  Move to the shoulders.  Then do the sleeves.  When the extremities are done, start on the front.  Work from the front around the back and back to the front.  Does that make sense?  Don’t leave any hard lines on anything except the sleeves.  When you’re done, hang up the shirt and button at least the top button, preferably the top two buttons.  Hang it up in your closet.  Start on the next shirt.

Or, put it in the dryer with a damp towel.

Actually, don’t do that.  Learn how to iron.



Does this mean I’m an adult?

I made a concerted effort this summer to mature my wardrobe.

Here’s the back-story:  I’m a high school teacher.  I like witty and obscure references.  I make witty and obscure references.  My wardrobe, for many years, has reflected this.  I’m a huge fan of Threadlesssuperheroes and anything else that amuses me.  These shirts have been married to Gap Jeans and sports coats.  A mix of professional and nerdy youthfulness.

But this summer?  I made the move toward mature. I bought button front shirts (they are also “button-down” – button-down refers to the collar points being buttoned down) and have been pairing them with jeans and brown, black and navy pants (that’s three different pairs of pants – not all in one).  I’ve even been putting on a tie two or three days a week.

Here’s the fun parts.  One, I’ve never had so many people comment on my clothing choices.  Two, I’m falling in love with my iron.  T-shirts don’t require ironing, but all of my dress shirts?  They need a little steamy help.  Today’s photo is of my new, hot little number and one of the many new, more mature shirts I’ve been wearing.

We’re all weirdos.

I enjoy some of the commentary that occurs on concrete walls, written by what I can only guess are people who’ve decided that the conventional methods of communication are not suitable.

I don’t know what that thing is, with its little flag stating, “All the weirdos”, but he’s got it right.  I wish it said, “We’re all weirdos”, though.

I’m of the mind that we’re all strange and that’s what makes us human.  It’s the things we do and think and love and feel passionate about that make us who we are.  It’s only when we’re dumb enough to think that we need to fit in and conform and compromise our passions that we become less than who we are.

What are you weird about?



Bring our yer dead!

Ah, Monty Python.

As for the photo, that’s a lot of dead fish that are washing up on the sandbar after they’ve spawned.  As you can imagine, it smells awesome.  Awesome like a dumpster in hot sunlight.

That guy on the sandbar was among the dozens of other guys out on the river.  You can check out yesterday’s photo to see the numbers.

I grew up in Saskatchewan and my grandfather used to take me fishing on his boat on Weyakwin Lake.  It was beautiful.  This is a lot more crowded (both with other fishermen and dead fish) than what I grew up with and I think I’ll keep my memories, rather than replace them with bad smells and claustrophobia.

Welcome to British Columbia…

…hope it’s not too crowded out there for you.

Actually, this is the Vedder Canal, just a little west of Chilliwack, BC.  It has been lined with fishermen…fisherpeople?…for the last few weeks, from dawn to dusk.  I drive over the Keith Wilson Bridge, which crosses the Vedder Canal, every morning to get to work and there have been very few days where I’ve beat these guys to the river.

The worst part of this photo is the smell, which you should be thankful you can’t experience.  The river right now is full of dead fish who’ve spawned and died.  The river’s edge is lined with carcasses.  Yum.

If you can get past the smell, the scenery is pretty nice and the barbecued salmon you’d be eating after a day at the river would be pretty delicious.  Come on over.  BC’s pretty nice.


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