I never thought I’d miss the sky. I grew up in rural Saskatchewan, and I was never short of blue sky. Even in the winters, we’d have more hours of clear, cold blue sky than most people get in a really nice summer. When I moved to British Columbia, the Vancouver area, I gave up a lot of that blue sky. But when it wasn’t raining, the sky was blue. Azure. At times, almost sapphire.
Then I moved to Jakarta. There are moments when the sky is blue. Sometimes, when I’m outside swimming I can look up and see a little spot of blue, between the gray-brown-white-ish clouds. The geography of Jakarta lends itself to a sort of mixing bowl effect. When you add together the ingredients of twenty-some million people, millions of cars and motorcycles, a lack of good sanitation, and a low-lying city surrounded by hills, you get a nearly complete lack of blue sky.
When I visited Palu, there were kilometers in every direction of blue sky. Spectacular. Totally amazing. I miss blue sky.
This is a shot of Granville Street in Vancouver, BC, Canada. It is one of my favorite streets in any city I’ve been in. Besides the comic stores and record stores, it also has two of the most amazing theaters: the Vogue and the Orpheum. Both beautiful and classic.
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?
There was a moment during my most recent trip to Vancouver where I realized that I have not been to Vancouver in the last five years when there has not been major construction right in this area. As you can see from the photo above, the biggest business in Vancouver is the construction business.
I haven’t got a clue where he came from, but directly below me, riding the escalator backwards, was a monster. He tried to look vicious, but it just made him look cuter. He flashed his fangs and tried to intimidate me, but I stood my ground and took a quick photo. I survived the encounter, but just barely.
If you’re near the Granville station, watch out. He might be lurking.
Today we took the Skytrain into Vancouver. I took this shot by placing my camera upside down on the ceiling of the train car. The kids like to take the train because they get to see the Lower Mainland from a different perspective than the back seat of the family minivan. We’ve done this trip a few times. Today we took Ben and Hannah to the end of the line; then we made a switch and took the SeaBus across to the Lonsdale Quay. We had lunch and got a couple of Beavertails – think Elephant ears, but more Canadian.
Along the way, at the Commercial Drive station, a number of rather rowdy, drunken (at 11:00 in the morning) young men climbed on the train. Before I had a chance to turn away from my children to ask them to tone down the language, another passenger turned to them and asked them to watch their language as there were children on board and nearby. He didn’t have to say anything – it is public transit after all, and I’ve had to deal with less appropriate behavior on public transit before. He had no reason to put himself between these drunks and my kids – but he did. For that, I’m thankful. I managed to thank him, but I can’t thank him enough. At a time of the year when we all do a little too much staring at our feet, thinking about what we need to do and not what we can do for others, this guy acted altruistically. The hard part for me, right now, is that I don’t know his name.
It turns out that our “good samaritan” works at the Apple Store in Pacific Center in Vancouver. If you see a young man, bearded and bespectacled in a nice pair of RayBans, in the Apple Store in Pacific Center, thank him for me. He’s an awesome guy.
I love Vancouver. I visit it as often as possible. It is one hour, by car, away from my house. There are so many streets I have not gotten to know as well as I would like, but this is an area I know pretty well. This is the corner of Thurlow and Melville. It’s a block and a half from Christchurch Cathedral, and a few blocks from the center of downtown. It’s not far from Vancouver Art Gallery (my kids’ favorite spot in Vancouver) and only a couple of blocks from the waterfront.
I’ve been to Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Seattle, Portland, Rome, Nice, Barcelona…and they all have nice things to offer, but I love Vancouver. The glass and steel of this young city (only a hundred and twenty some years old) makes me smile and feel warm. I’ve never lived in the city and which probably explains my infatuation, but it feels comfortable to visit. Vancouver is my close relative I like to visit, but wouldn’t want to live with. Absence makes the heart stay fond.
My wife and I are planning out a family excursion of insanity for this Sunday – a trip to Vancouver during the Olympic festivities – with the kids. The more I think about heading into Vancouver, the more I want to go. So I went back and looked through all of my old photos of Vancouver and this one jumped out at me. I love the seawall around Stanley Park.
Pentax K200D (before it was stolen); Pentax DA 18-55mm; f11; ISO 200; 1/25 sec.