Monday, September 16, 2019

When Snowbirds fly

Magic in the air
London, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
At first glance, this looks like a straightforward pic of an oh-so-Canadian scene: 9 jets from Canada’s aerobatic flight demonstration team, The Snowbirds, flying a tight formation high above London. This scene plays out in dozens of burgs across the country every year, and it never gets old.

The Snowbirds - @cfsnowbirds - are often compared to the US Air Force Thunderbirds, or the US Navy Blue Angels. While those latter two teams are incredible, it does a disservice to the Canadian team to do a one-to-one comparison.

First, the planes. The Thunderbirds fly F-16s, while the Blue Angels fly legacy F/A-18 Hornets and will soon transition to the Super Hornet. The Snowbirds fly the CT-114 Tutor, a jet-powered trainer that first flew in 1960. Apples, meet oranges.

Front-line fighters with digital flight controls and better-than-1-to-1 power-to-weight ratios allow the kind of displays that lesser aircraft can only dream of. Which makes a Snowbirds demo seem even more miraculous, because they have to manage energy far more carefully than the average spectator might realize.

Second, old planes, with completely analog systems, add another layer of challenge. Because the only computer keeping everything together is the squishy, red-suited one with two hands on the stick.

We’re justifiably proud of them, and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched them do their thing. But for all their aerial wizardry, it’s what this team represents that makes them extra-special, that unique mixture of Canadian brilliance, humility, creativity, and grit for making do with what we’ve been given.

As I stand on the ground and watch them, awestruck, I ponder the meaning of this nationally treasured resource, and realize it has more to do with people than planes. Inspiration takes many forms, after all, and after the last plane has landed and shut down, I think about how I, too, can go further with what I’ve been given.

#ldnont #AirShow2019 #aircraft #airplanes #aviation #avgeek #sky #weather #wx #snowbirds #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #high #speed #photography #dslr #london #ontario #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Watching airplanes in the sky

Two tickets to avgeek paradise
London, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Had an interesting day today, as I got to attend #AirShowLondon as an invited guest. The good folks at #NikonCanada graciously sent me a couple of VIP passes because they heard I shoot Nikon, know I live in the area, and thought I'd like to attend.

Now, I've never before remotely qualified as a remotely important anything, let alone a person, but I was touched by the gesture all the same. Because #Nikon has always been my photographic weapon of choice, the tool I'm most comfortable with when I want to tell stories with light and pixels.

And it was nice to connect with the folks responsible for equipping not just me, but others like me, with the tools we all rely on to make photographic memories of the events and moments that matter the most to us. Because in the end, a camera's significance to the photographer is much greater than its basic hardware specs might suggest.

Getting to be a part of this specific day because the PR team at a company I've admired since I was a teenager wanted to be kind? Total bonus.

It was an epic day by the flight line, the kind of day I look forward to all year, and the kind of day that's become an annual tradition for me and a particularly good friend. Because whether we like planes or trains or automobiles or whatever, we all deserve to have special days like this in our lives.

More to come as I process the gigabytes of photos now overstuffing my memory card. For now, please consider me immensely thankful, and a little sunburned :)

#ldnont #AirShow2019 #aircraft #airplanes #aviation #avgeek #sky #weather #wx #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #high #speed #photography #dslr #london #ontario #lifeinthemargins #family #everythıng

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Scene from a (wet) parking lot

Where I dance (and shoot) in the rain
London, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It rained yesterday, that apocalyptic kind of rain that makes you want to batten down the hatches and pull on your best pair of rubber boots just in case the roof springs a leak.

But meteorology doesn't change the realities of life on the ground. Work still needs to get done, kids need to be taken care of, and groceries need to be picked up.

Cue this scene from the Loblaws parking lot, after I noticed the water droplets on Henrietta's roof and decided a spontaneous macro shoot in the rain was a good idea.

News flash: It wasn't. But that doesn't mean it wasn't worthwhile, because it was beyond amusing to see, out of the corner of my eye, the looks I got from cart-pushing shoppers rushing to avoid getting soaked.

I'm sure they thought I was insane for leaning over my car's roof while the crying skies soaked me to my skin. And I'm not going to disagree.

But I think the shot was worth it. And sittiing in a miserable puddle all the way home served as a great reminder of why we sometimes do things that make no sense.

If they somehow feed our soul, they in fact make all the sense in the world.

#ldnont #richmond #fanshawe #loblaws #london #ontario #canada #rain #water #weather #wx #honda #civic #civicnation #car #carporn #cargram #automotive #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, September 13, 2019

Another year. Another reason to celebrate.

Picture perfect
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Shhhh, someone else in our family is having a birthday today. She is hands-down my favorite person in the universe, and my primary job is to make her either smile, laugh, or ideally both. So thanks for humoring me.

She’s the one who taught me that birthdays matter, that they’re special, and that everyone deserves to be smothered with goodness when the calendar says so. She’s also the one who taught me that celebrations need to happen in between birthdays, as well, that small moments can be big moments if we allow them.

Like holding hands in the grocery store, or catching up on the day around the kitchen table, or simply sitting quietly at opposite ends of the couch, reading, while the dog tucks herself into the crook behind my wife’s knee and whines for a treat.

I’m lucky in a lot of ways, most of which stem from the moment our paths first crossed.

This past year may have, in many ways, been the most challenging one we’ve ever had to face. But like I’ve told her so many times before, usually as we sped down an icy highway in the middle of the night, I can’t imagine being on this journey with anyone else. Navigating the darkness by her side reminded me that life somehow remains sweet, rich, and worth it, despite it all.

I hope this day is as happy for her as she makes every other day for me, our kids, and everyone blessed enough to be her friend. I hope we get a lot more official birthdays together, and even more non-official everydays that are just as worthy of celebration.

#LiveLaughLevy #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #happy #birthday #happybirthday #birthdaygirl #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, September 12, 2019

22 trips around the sun

All grown up
Dryden, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I often look at our kids and marvel at how lucky we are that they turned out as smart, driven, funny, kind, and empathetic as they have. They're infinitely fun to hang around with, and every conversation with them reminds me why this life thing is the greatest trip imaginable.

It’s Dahlia’s 22nd birthday today, and as I do every time she completes an orbit of the sun, I think back to that singular moment when I first held her. She was tinier than I expected, and she squirmed in my arms as my eyes took in her face for the first time.

She’ll be the first to tell you how physically small she still is, but I’ll be the first to disagree with her. She may not be the tallest person in the room, but she’s a giant all the same.

Whatever life chooses to throw at her - and she’s been on the receiving end of plenty, both over the past year and through various chapters of her young life - not once has she decided to fold her tent and go home. Quit isn’t part of her vocabulary. Instead, she doubles down, bears down, grits her way through to the other side.

She never stops working - I stopped counting how many part-time jobs she juggles as she pursues her university degree full-time - and she doggedly picks her coursework apart until she’s figured it out. No wonder she made honor roll. We weren’t surprised, but we were, and are, incredibly proud all the same.

She’s a gifted photographer and artist who never seems to tire of telling new stories through whatever tool - lens, pencil, pen, brush - she’s got in her hand. She’s inherited the best of her mom and has managed to become her own unforgettable self in the process. I can’t help but think the universe smiled on us when it first granted us this incredible gift, and it’s been smiling on us ever since as she’s grown into an accomplished young woman blessed with limitless potential.

Happiest of birthdays, Peanut Girl. Whatever your size, you cast a huge shadow, and we’re ridiculously lucky to live within it.

#LiveLaughLevy #dryden #ontario #canada #happy #birthday #happybirthday #birthdaygirl #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Suitcase on church steps

Lost
London, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: An impossibly beautiful old church on London's Talbot Street, a once-stately downtown thoroughfare that now serves as a shortcut for speeding commuters heading to and from work. The wonder from this street's glory years - including gorgeous mansions, lush lawns, ancient trees - remains visible, but the tattered edges are impossible to ignore.

The neighborhood is quiet as I wander through on a lunchtime walk, but the sight of an open suitcase on the front steps stops me in my tracks. What's the story here? Whose is it? Are they okay?

It's no secret that London has been ravaged more than most by the combined scourges of mental health challenges, addiction, and homelessness. Every downtown corner, alley, main artery, and side street now carries evidence of this growing, worsening story. Tent cities spread out beside the bike path beside the river. Discarded syringes and worse now litter shadowy alleys. And areas of the city once thought too far away from the downtown to be touched by this are adjusting to our new, tragic normal.

All of which leads me to believe this suitcase didn't just randomly find its way here.

I'll probably never know the full story, but I'm sure it isn't a happy one. I'm also sure I'll be seeing more just like it - and sure enough, two minutes after I continue my walk back to the office, I come across another pile of random effects strewn haphazardly across the steps of a local law office.

One wonders if we'll ever truly have the will or the ability to fix this. One wonders if this is even fixable at all.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #talbot #street #photography #church #homelessness #addiction #poverty #community #crisis #hope #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9/11 + 5 + 13

Light the darkness
New York, NY
September 2006
Photo originallyposted Sep 06, 2006
Thirteen years ago, as the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approached, I wrote a thing as part of The 2,996 Project. Each participant was assigned the name of a victim, and our task was to write about that person's life.

Wait, task isn't the right word. Privilege. Better.

I wrote about Suzanne Calley, a Cisco employee who perished aboard American Airlines Flight 77 when it was flown into the Pentagon. I paired it with an admittedly lousy photo of the Tribute in Light at the WTC site that I captured from too far away as I attended a riverside event for a large tech company. Sometimes photos just don't do justice to the stories we're trying to tell. Sometimes we need words.

My words can be found on my blog here, and as we reflect today on the unmitigated hatred that ended the lives of so many who simply wanted to get to work, get across the country, or help others, I can't help but think that the lives lost deserve to be remembered for far more than the way they were brutally cut short.

Where were you on that day? What have we learned in the 18 years since?

#newyork #newyorkcity #nyc #September11 #NeverForget911 #911Anniversary #september #neverforget #memorial #wtc #twintowers #manhattan #worldtradecenter #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The mesmerizing blue pattern

Street level wonder
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It only looks like a cartoon.

But look more closely. Hover over it. Zoom in a bit. Let your eyes linger.

Maybe you'll see something more. Maybe you won't. Again, like the photo of docked boats that I shared yesterday, it doesn't matter. There are no rights or wrongs here. No winners or losers, either.

What does matter is that something, an architectural flourish over a university building entryway - that would normally be ignored by the thousands of people who walk through or past it on any given day - can rise above the mundane and somehow grab our attention. That it can make us pause for a bit, maybe even think some, or even wonder.

That we have wonder at all.

Which is why I post this today of all days. Today is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay. And it seems like as appropriate a time as any to think about wonder, and why we need to fight like hell to ensure our lives - and those of folks around us - are filled with it.

So I hope you use this photo as a springboard to find the wonder - whatever it might look like to you - and share it.

Feel free to tag me - @carmilevy in Insta & Twitter - if you wish. Share this with people you know. Or complete strangers. Because even complete strangers need more wonder in their lives.

Let's start something, shall we?

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #yonge #street #ryerson #university #streetphotography #photography #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #colors #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, September 09, 2019

Ghost boats

Dockside, from above
Toronto, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There's a mystery here that I can't explain. Either my camera is seeing ghosts beneath the water, or this particular marina on the downtown Toronto waterfront has a rather pronounced issue with less-than-optimally-buoyant watercraft.

Whatever the root cause is - and let's be clear that part of me would be perfectly content to allow this question to remain unanswered - as I stand high above and look down, I'm reminded that sometimes we need to change our perspective a bit.

Because we can only see so much when we're standing right next to something. We may not see every detail. Or maybe we do, but we miss the broader context within which the details came to be. Standing back a little, or a lot, can be a handy thing.

It's like watching a video and thinking we now know the entire story. Not necessarily. And if we want to learn more, it's on us to do a little more digging. Or a lot. Or none. It's entirely up to us whether the mysteries we come across remain unanswered.

I'm claiming nothing here. Just wondering about how this particular scene, in this particular moment, came to be. And then leaving it at that.

Indeed, clinging to a little wonder and mystery in a world that too often has none might be something we all may want to try a bit more often.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #city #hall #blue #green #water #boats #boating #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Where I paws in a hotel room

Happy feet
Dryden, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This seemed like the right sock choice for a wedding.

Anything for a smile, after all. Anything.

#LiveLaughLevy #dryden #ontario #family #everything

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Getting ready for a wedding

Dry run
Dryden, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Seems like a perfect day for our eldest son to marry his best friend, doesn't it?

#moretocome #LiveLaughLevy #family #everything

Monday, September 02, 2019

Remember the colorful (fallen) leaf

Temporary brilliance
London, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Because we had so much fun with a fallen leaf earlier today, I thought I'd follow it up with...another fallen leaf pic.

What's different this time? First, there's a bit of color, a taste of what's to come over the next month or so if you live above the sub-tropical parts of the Northern Hemisphere. We can all use some color in our lives, right?

Second, my wife found this one while we were out for a walk with the wonderdog. So I share the photo here because it's a great example of how every photo - or video, or piece of writing, or any form of creative output, really - comes with its own backstory that explains the W5+How of how it came to be.

Indeed, everything - and everyone - comes with a backstory. Are we making enough of an effort to learn what that story is?

Probably not. So maybe tomorrow would be a reasonable time for us to start asking more questions. Because anything that makes life richer, more colorful, more human, just...more...is well worth exploring. And as we head back to school, back to work, back into a world covered in brilliant color before it quickly reverts to grey, it feels right to be doing so with a different perspective.

Remember, it started with a couple of leaves, one if which was discovered by my lovely wife, who thought there was just enough color in it to merit sharing here. Where it ends up is entirely up to you.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #life #defiant #leaf #fall #autumn #color #colors #season #nature #naturephotography #random #suburban #photography #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Remember the fallen (leaf)

Maple leaf down
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We can choose to look at a fallen leaf from two very different perspectives:

1) The sad one, where summer gives way to autumn, and we fret over dropping temperatures, the return to school and work and life, and the end of the innocence of a season most of us wish would last a little longer; or

2) The happy one, where summer gives way to autumn, and we welcome the fact that we were given another season at all, and we're thankful to be around for whatever it is that the universe throws at us next.

I suspect you already know which door I prefer, and why. As much as I appreciate the stress of shifting gears back into a grind that sometimes feels more cold and grey than we'd like it to be, I don't much see the value in spending our limited time moping around about the change in season.

The calendar is going to move forward - in the same, unrelenting direction and at the same unrelenting speed - whether we like it or not. We can't change any of it. Only our response to it lies within our control. I can hate the season to the depths of my soul, but that won't delay or cushion its arrival.

So today I woke up, hooked the dog up to her leash and headed out into a chillier, darker world. But I headed out. I got the day.

Whining about the leaf in our path wasn't on the agenda today. If I'm lucky enough to get another tomorrow, it won't be, then, either.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #life #defiant #leaf #fall #autumn #season #nature #naturephotography #random #suburban #photography #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, September 01, 2019

The ignored giants in our midst

Touch the sky
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
On the eastern edge of London's downtown core, twin 70s-era high-rise rental buildings cast giant shadows over the dusty neighborhood below. They normally don't merit much attention because, let's be honest, they're architectural yawners. The half-dozen ornately designed churches within a 10-minute walk of here would be more deserving of a photowalk.

But wait. Do we ignore them because they don't adhere to a certain level of architectural style? Who decided rectilinear concrete ranked below ornate stone gargoyles and stained glass on the design-worthiness scale? Who are these people, anyway, and how were they chosen to decide what is or is not worthy?

On this brilliantly sunny day, I decided to take a closer look at something I'd been ignoring for years. I'm rarely in this area - or, more precisely, as I ride or drive through here on the way to somewhere else, I almost never pause here. It isn't an area where people tend to congregate. And on this day, I'm all alone.

The south tower looms over the empty corner, drawing perfectly straight lines against the perfectly blue sky. It isn't a church. And as I hold onto the iron grate for balance and take it in above me, it occurs to me that that's entirely the way it should be.

We spend so much time comparing things when the better alternative might be to take things in strictly as they are. Indeed, maybe this doesn't just apply to buildings and other inanimate objects. Maybe I need to spend more time in empty, overlooked places like this.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #york #colborne #street #photography #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #blue #sky #lines #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Chasing sunsets with our daughter

Saying goodbye to the day
London, ON
July 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've been remiss in chasing sunsets. Sunrises, too. I regret this, because the supply isn't infinite. Actually, the planet will have billions more years of them. But we won't.

Bummer, no?

But let's focus on the upside. This shot was the result of a spontaneous moment with our daughter. On the way back into town from another adventure, we both noticed the brilliant sky as the sun sank below the horizon.

Before long, we both agreed it made absolute sense to pull over to the side of the quiet country road. Because she's my kid and her photography genes are way more sharply defined than mine.

We missed the actual sunset, but the sky wasn't done painting itself just for us. We stood in the shadows for a bit, talking about the atmospheric gymnastics necessary to create the impossibly rich colors and tones now playing out over our heads.

Before long, we tucked our cameras away, got back in the car and headed for home. But I won't soon forget what it felt like to see the moment through our daughter's eyes.

Maybe in the end it isn't about the number of moments at all. Maybe it's about the quality of them. The intensity of them. And how indelible the resulting memories can be.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sunset #orange #silhouette #cloud #clouds #cloudy #sky #weather #nature #wx #landscape #sunningdale #road #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, August 30, 2019

Step gingerly

The things we notice...
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I either stumbled across the discarded remnants of a spontaneous archaeological dig, or I took a wrong turn in my never-ending quest for the perfect rutabaga.

It's actually fresh ginger. From China. Let that sink in for a moment.

There, now I feel better.

So, no, I won't be buying "fresh" ginger that's grown half a world away, then shipped here in the hold of a bunker oil-burning, rust-festooned cargo ship flying under the Cameroon flag of convenience.

Because the food chain needs to be simpler. And it starts with conscious decisions like this one. Small ones. But doesn't anything worth doing start small?

Doesn't stop me from taking a picture, though. Nothing can.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #abstract #photography #still #life #ginger #spontaneous #macro #photo #shoot #fruitography #grocery #store #retail #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins