(mostly) daily photoblog

Archive for February, 2012

Ansel Adams is one of my heroes

There’s a story I read, once, that Ansel Adams told about his “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” photo.  It is one of the most evocative photos, with the moonlight reflecting off of gravestones and crosses in a cemetery in New Mexico.  As he tells it, he was driving away from another photo shoot.  He saw the moonlight reflecting off the cemetery as he was driving, so he pulled over to the side of the road, took out his camera and climbed up on his car, set up his tripod, managed a shot and…then the moon moved on.  A minute later and he would never have taken this photo.

It’s a cool story because of the timing.  Much of what makes a good photo is timing.

Above is my photo taken along the Sumas River.  It’s as much of an Adams photo as I’ve taken so far.  He will continue to inspire me and I will continue to photograph.

Paramount theater…shh…

…this is the way to get into the theater the cheap way.  All you need is a crowbar…and a DVD…and a projector…and sound syst…

You know what?  This is no longer the cheap way into the theater.

Oh well…I tried.

Religion or electricity: who has more power?

Electricity is power.  Without it, we’d have no lights, televisions, movies, lcd projectors, cameras, computers, internet, cell phones, iPods, cars…um…the list goes on in a long, long mile.

(Please feel free to send me comments about how things like these can run in some manual, un-powered way.  I know.  My Pentax K1000 is completely manual, but still relies on a battery for the light meter and a whole crap-load of power to convert the film into photos, as an example.)

Religion, however, has started wars and brought peace.  It has ended lives by transporting the dying into another realm, while started lives through dedications and christenings.  It has started and ended civilizations.  It has inspired creation and destruction.

I know which one I think is more powerful.  What about you?

Inner City: Photo Friday

I went downtown in my city, Chilliwack, yesterday and snapped this shot.

I’ve always loved this old theater.  My wife and I, when we were dating, went to see a couple of movies in this theater.  Schindler’s List and Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story.  It was old then, but it had character.

The company that owned this theater sold it to the city a couple of years ago for something like a dollar.  I think it may have been only a dollar.  The intent, as I gathered it, was that the city would do something with it and turn it into something for the community.

So far…nothing.  The neon tubes, which is hinted at in the shadows on the PARAMOUNT sign, are gone or broken or falling apart.  The windows are boarded up.  It looks sad.

It could be a foundation for a revitalized downtown area.  Instead, it is an anchor holding it down.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Indulge

I’ve been a good boy lately.  I’ve been eating right.  I’ve been exercising.  I’ve been watching my calories, both consumed and expended.  But last night I indulged.  I haven’t had pizza in quite a while, but we ordered Ricardo’s last night.  I ordered my own special:  ground beef, ham, and pepperoni.  Maybe the least healthy food I’ve eaten in quite some time.

But it was so good.  I think it tasted better because I hadn’t had pizza in such a long time.  Either way, it was good.

“A little knowledge that acts…

… is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” – Khalil Gibran

The photo is of a commemorative plaque and sculpture on the Simon Fraser University campus, dedicated to Khalil Gibran.  Incredibly wise words (located approximately halfway up the plaque above).

Is teriyaki beef and broccoli a breakfast food?

The teriyaki beef and broccoli, pictured above, was really good for dinner last night.  It isn’t what I’m eating for breakfast.  I’ll be eating steel-cut oatmeal with a little brown sugar and milk.

It brings to mind a little question I’ve had for a long time:  why are certain foods only for breakfast?  Like toast?  Or scrambled eggs?  Hash browns?

Is this just a North American thing?  Why is that we have this thing called “breakfast for dinner”?  I love it when we have breakfast for dinner, but why do we not just call it toast-bacon-hash browns-scrambled eggs-orange juice for dinner?  Or, just dinner.


Happy Wednesday!

Here’s a train station photo to go with Wednesday.  They have nothing to do with one another.

As for the title on today’s post, I’m all for celebrating the mundane and routine.  I once ordered a birthday cake from my local Safeway and when the cake lady (clerk?  baker?  decorator?) asked what I wanted written on it, I responded with, “Just write, ‘Happy Thursday!’”  She looked at me quizzically and I explained that it was Thursday and I wanted a birthday cake.  Seeing as how the writing came with the cake, I figured why not celebrate the day.

If you’d like to have some fun today, go around exclaiming to everyone you see, “Happy Wednesday!”  See what happens.

Ask them how they feel about cake.  Then ask them what they think of public transportation.  I guarantee that you’ll be smiling as they begin to question your sanity.  Whee!

Looks run down (ooh…down again)

You knew it was going to happen.  At some point I had to get to something run down.  But, sometimes things get really wonderful when they get run down.  Think about it.

Favorite pair of jeans?  They’re run down, right?

Most comfortable pair of shoes?  Run down.

Favorite food joint that only you know about?  Run down.

Your spot on the couch, with your butt groove already nicely worked in?  Run down.

What’s your favorite run down thing?

Looking down (again – I know…)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “Down” and it has taken on a mind of its own inside my head.  I’ve been realizing how often I shoot from a perspective of looking down on my subject.  This subject is the floor of the Baptistry in Pisa, Italy.

I pride myself on shooting a great number of my photos from perspectives that others do not.  I try to get down on the ground for many shots.  I’ll climb up on chairs and tables and counter-tops.  I’ll hang myself off railings and practically lie down on railway lines.  All in the name of getting the right shot.

But down?  I don’t often look down on things.  I’m over six feet tall and I spend much of my day looking down, so it seems to me that it’s a given that I’ll look down – in which case, I’ll avoid it when I’m shooting photographs.  Avoid the obvious.

Yet, when WordPress posted “down” as the challenge, there they were.  So many photos looking down.  Maybe my mind is fighting me and I don’t even know it…

…the first rule of photo club is…

Take the steps down.

There is something magically mathematical going on here.  I love the resemblance to a Fibonacci spiral.  I also felt a little trepidation maneuvering my way down this narrow staircase not meant for big guys like me.

But what is life without a bit of risk.

Going down, anyone?

Down, again.

This place, Monte Carlo (and Monaco), was not my favorite stop on the Europe trip.

Was it beautiful?  Yes.

Was it luxurious?  Yes.

Was it over-the-top?  Yes.

What really put me off it was the new-ness and the “Las Vegas”-ness of it.  Please understand, it’s not gaudy and grotesque like Vegas.  It’s just the overpowering reminders money and…well…money, I guess.  It didn’t feel like any other place on the trip.

Beautiful, though, looking down on the marina.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Down

Looking down on the city of Nice, France.

I visited Europe three years ago and really enjoyed my time there.  As I thought about this topic, Down, I thought about all the interesting vantage points from which I shot photos on that trip.  Many, many photos were shot from this perspective, up high looking down on the subject.  It’s as though many of the cities I visited, Rome, Florence, Siena, Nice, Barcelona, were built in such a way as to accentuate the sense of large and small, high and low, important and insignificant.  It makes for a really poetic, paradoxical trip.

Photo Friday: Eat

Nothing says, “Eat!” like a neon restaurant sign.

Happy Friday!

Missed the Train

Today is going to be a horrendous day.  I’ve got a pep rally to help run and my leadership students will be setting up for a professional development day after school.  Ahh…but I’m not marking this weekend, so I actually get a weekend.

I can get through the day.  I can get through the day.  I can get…


Oh, and look.  Public transportation.  I was so busy thinking of my day that I forgot there was a photo up there.

Washing by hand

Do you still wash your pots and pans, maybe even dishes, by hand?  I seem to have some kind of block in my head when it comes to the dishwasher.  I don’t like to put my pots and frying pans in there.  I have this idea in my head that it doesn’t do as good a job as I do.  Plus, I learned something last night.

After making dinner, I moved the pots and frying pan to the side of the sink and ran a sink of warm/hot water, dropped a bit of soap in and  then washed the dishes.  And I enjoyed it.

When I was young, we didn’t have a dishwasher, so there was no choice about how to was the dishes.  My mom did most of the washing, but when were deemed old enough my sister and I started washing the dishes on a regular basis.  We fought over who would wash and who would dry.  I hated washing back then, but I love it now.  In fact, I look back on that time pretty fondly.  Stupid, I know, but nostalgia fogs the mind.

Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetie.

I met you when I was the new kid in Grade 9.  You sat across the row from me in Mr. Jaarsma’s homeroom class.  We got to know each other over our four years of high school and, after we graduated, I decided I didn’t want to live without you.  We dated, got married and had two amazing children.

It’s been twenty-three and half years since I met you, honey, and we’ve been married for seventeen and a half of them and I love you more now that I ever have.

I’m glad I’m yours.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


By the way, that’s a photo I took last night.  It’s called “light-writing” and I just opened up the shutter with a remote shutter release in a dark basement and drew a couple of hearts with a flashlight.

Hula hoop and snowboard.

Hmm…I wonder if they’re going to the same place.


It’s always lovely when a photographic subject does exactly what I want.

Last night, after I had dinner, I walked over to the Skytrain station at Lougheed Town Center Station and bought a ticket.  I didn’t ride the train, but I was supposed to buy a ticket in order to get to the area wherein I could ride if I wanted.  I bought the ticket so that I could shoot some photos of people waiting for the train.

I got a bunch of good photos, but this one was particularly appreciated, seeing as how this young man turned and looked back at the exact moment I snapped the photo.  To him: thanks.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Regrets


So, this is one of the most frustrating topics from the WordPress Photo Challenge.  I don’t know exactly what to do with “Regret“.  There are many photo challenges where I’ve felt just that – challenged.  But this?  Well, here goes.

Now, if I make some decisions that I wish I hadn’t made, take action in the wrong direction and wish that I’d acted in a different way, then I feel regret.  If I conduct myself in my relationships in a way that breaks trust, that is unethical or immoral, then I feel regret.  If I leave my house without telling my kids and wife that I love them and live everyday as though it might be my last (because it might be), then I will feel regret.

But I see decisions and actions as footsteps in the snow.  Let me see if I can explain this.  When snow falls, there’s that moment where everything is pristine, untouched.  But there comes the time when someone takes a step into the snow.  There’s steps and missteps, there’s dirt tracked in and grass that suddenly shows.  There are those snow angels that never quite look angelic, but there was an attempt by some little devil to make himself better for a moment.

Here’s the cool part.  None of these things are permanent.  The snow melts.  Or new snow falls and covers everything over.  If I live with regrets, I spend all my time thinking about all those things that are left in the snow.  Even when they’ve been covered.  Even when they’ve faded and disappeared.

My philosophy?  Don’t live with regrets.  Make more angels.  Have fun making new steps in pristine snow.

Photo Friday: Handsome

That’s a handsome jump there, young man.

By the way, did you know that handsome means “marked by skill”?  I did not, until I looked it up.  I learn something new every day, and today it was a definition.  Hmm…I wonder what I might learn tomorrow.

These guys were doing some parkour in a local park a while ago and they gave me the nod to snap some photos.  Pretty weird and cool stuff.

How do you like your greys?

The architecture at SFU is evocative.  It inspires double-takes and depression.  Yeah, you heard me.  Depression.  It’s probably because it’s mostly concrete, which is grey, and at the top of a mountain, so it’s often covered in clouds that only exacerbate the grey-ness.

But it also inspires those double-takes.  The “tunnel” above is a walkway leading from the Academic Quadrangle, featured in a photo two days ago, to the W.A.C. Bennett Library, featured in yesterday’s photo.  During a sunny day, it is lit in all kids of angled lines and the light keeps shifting as the sun moves through the day.  The entire Convocation Mall, the area you can see ahead through the tunnel, is lit in strange angles.  At the right time of day, the shadows and light look like they were designed by M.C. Escher.  Awe-inspiring.


Holding hands…aww…

I feel like it’s an affirmation of all that is good in the world when people find each other.  I’ve recently been trying to focus on all that is positive and, when I can’t, at least look for positive solutions to things I want to complain about.  I think I often focus on what is negative because it’s easier.  Complaining is easy.  Bitching about all that is bad in the world is easy.

Coming up with solutions is not easy.

Which is why seeing people holding hands makes me smile.  When I hold my wife’s hand, I think of nothing else but what is good.  I don’t criticize the world.  I don’t complain about other people.  I say silly things.  I laugh.  I smile.  I feel affirmed and postive and…

I’ve got it!  We should just all hold hands.  World peace might be achievable, people!  Hold hands with someone near you right now and tell me you don’t feel better about the world.  I dare you!

Are you a bibliophile?

I am a bibliophile.

I like books.  No.  I love books.  I have books in my collection that I’ve not read yet.  There are a few books that I’m really proud of owning:  Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, a copy from the first printing with dust jacket; the Philip Pullman trilogy, much to the chagrin of some of my friends at church; the entire Bone collection; a former estate collection (donated to the MCC) of hardcover Harvard Classics that include Don Quixote and Crime and Punishment.

I love the smell of old books.  I love the smell of libraries.  I love sitting in the stacks and perusing, not glancing, through books to see if I’m interested.  I could lose hours in bookstores and libraries.

I am a bibliophile.


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