Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Forbidden pizza

Looking through glass
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
As you may have guessed from my feed, I've got a whole lot of weird habits. At some point they might merit diagnosis by a professional, but for now let's just call them delightful personality quirks. Yes, that sounds about right.

One of these habits, er, quirks, often happens seconds after I walk into restaurants or stores with glass display cases in front. I'll usually wait till the folks who work there look elsewhere, then quickly compose and shoot whatever's there. More often than not, I'll press the camera right up to the glass to avoid spurious reflections. It isn't elegant or thoughtful. It's quick, somewhat panicked, and way outside the bounds of normal customer behavior.

Which brings us to the Pizza Pizza outlet in our neighborhood. My wife and I were hunting and foraging for pizza, as suburbanites do, on Thanksgiving Monday evening. Our kids were waiting at home, and we were reflecting on the memorably awesome weekend that was drawing to a close. As my wife dealt with the employee at the cash, I waited for my moment and grabbed a fast shot of a pepperoni slice.

I didn't have enough time to think about the why, or the how. I don't even eat pepperoni pizza. But it looked like a fun theme with cool texture, so I cobbled it together in a blink before someone got wise to my idiocy and booted me from the store.

I got away with it. This time. Rest assured there will indeed be a next time. Because life challenges us to find enjoyment in the strangest places. Bonus points if glass, food, and family are involved.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #street #suburban #sherwood #forest #mall #retail #pizza #restaurant #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, October 14, 2019

Where the dog chooses a different direction

Old growth
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The dog and I took the road less travelled this morning.

We turned right instead of left as soon as we exited our subdivision, and ended up on a path through the woods.

Normally, Calli the wonderpuppy isn't a fan of detouring off the familiar path. She's a creature of habit, and will whine incessantly at the slightest nudge away from her usual route. She'll stand her ground, pulling back on the leash until we return from whence we came.

This morning was oddly different. Maybe it was the quiet - it's Canadian Thanksgiving today, so the streets were absolutely still. Maybe it was the time, as for the first morning in months, she slept in. Bless her little heart.

Whatever the reason, she happily bounded down the steps down into the ravine, and eagerly explored the path as we meandered alongside the winding creekbed. She even behaved herself as we encountered other dogs along the way. Well, "behaved" is relative: She didn't freak out as she usually does. That's good enough for me.

And she sat quietly as I took the occasional photo to remember an all-too-fleeting morning.

Because soon enough, we'll all be back to our usual rushed routines. The traffic will return. She'll once again be up before the sun. The colors will fade.

And we'll wonder if we've been doing enough to hold onto moments like this one. That slip into history more quickly, and quietly, than we'd like.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #actofdog #dog #puppy #schnauzerlife #dogsofinstagram #forest #trees #canadian #autumn #fall #color #colors #stilllife #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Humping dolphins out in public

Strange things atop the mailbox
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm thankful for a lot of things.

My wife, who puts up with my oafish ridiculousness and makes me a better human being.

Our kids, who make us incredibly proud with their brilliance, kindness, drive, humour, and spirit.

Friends who have become family.

My still-functioning brain that still allows me to create stuff - words, images, whatever - from nothing. And hopefully make people around me think a little. And smile a lot.

Work that challenges me, inspires me, and surrounds me with insanely smart people who teach me new things virtually every day.

A planet that offers up a never-ending stream of silliness like you see here. Because it isn't every day that a bizarro-looking sculpture of seemingly humping dolphins appears randomly on top of a Canada Post super mailbox.

I know the calendar says today's some kind of holiday. But in my world, we celebrate every day. Because every day is special, with or without humping dolphins in random places.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #thanksgiving #holiday #dolphin #random #sculpture #post #photography #parenthood #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

A spontaneous slash of red

Where it fell
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
"Never stop looking for color.
In everything.
In every place.
In everyone."

C. Levy
2019

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #quote #quotation #qotd #forest #trees #red #canadian #maple #leaf #autumn #fall #color #colors #stilllife #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Finding color under your feet

Singular beauty
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I had been wandering around for days looking for fall colors, but due to some inexplicable mystery of nature, I hadn't found them yet.

Sure, here and there I'd see a flourish of red or orange or yellow. But nothing that would take my breath away.

Looking at everyone else's Instagram and Facebook feeds filled with ever brighter explosions of riotous color, I thought perhaps I'd been looking in all the wrong places. Wouldn't be the first time.

So as I set out on a quick walk through North London this morning, my hopes weren't high. And sure enough, as I looked around and decided which way to go, all I saw was green with a few reedy patches of yellow mixed in for good measure.

Then, as I picked a direction and followed a path into the nearby forest, I looked down and saw one leaf on the boundary between sunlight and shade. It wasn't day-glow orange, but it was bright enough to stop me. I stood over it for a moment, wondering how to capture it.

In the end, I went with simple because, well, I prefer simple. And as I packed up the camera and continued my journey, I thought about the singular leaf at my feet that proved there was indeed color, after all.

I just had to know where to look. Literally right at my feet. Funny that.

A gnawing voice deep inside me says the universe is trying to teach me about more than mere colors. I'm inclined to think the universe is correct.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #huron #street #park #thames #river #forest #trees #leaf #autumn #fall #color #colors #stilllife #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Scene from a dying mall

Retail vanishing point
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Stare down a long, non-descript service corridor in a worn-at-the-edges, small-ish local mall and what do you see?

I'm being serious. What DO you see?

Because I'm not sure I like what I'm seeing, and I hope you've got something a little brighter.

Aaaaand go...

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #suburban #sherwood #forest #mall #retail #apocalypse #monochrome #leading #lines #concrete #architecture #photography #building #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, October 11, 2019

A small piece of a larger puzzle

Forgotten in the sun
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm pretty sure no one else has ever taken a photo of this particular piece of siding tucked inside a downtown #LdnONT alleyway. Not deliberately, or consciously, anyway.

Why would they? What's the point of shooting a bashed-in piece of metal that, to be frank, wasn't much to look at before it was bashed in. It's not terribly unique. Or pretty. Never was. Never will be, in any context.

And yet, here I find myself on a sunny lunchtime walk, standing in the alleyway between a barber and a burger joint, staring at it as if it has an intrinsic value that no one else recognized. After sizing it up for a couple of minutes, I conclude it doesn't. It's as meh as it looks.

But it's still part of the fabric of this place. Still a small, all-too-easily-ignored piece of a larger, not-always-desirable - yet still intriguing and integral - puzzle that is my downtown neighborhood. So many of us live and/or work in this admittedly imperfect place, but I doubt many of us slow ourselves down long enough to soak in details like this one.

And if we're not seeing the little puzzle pieces, can we truly appreciate the overall puzzle? What are we missing if we don't peek into the forgotten corners of the places where we live?

Maybe we don't want to know. But I'm guessing we need to.

#london #ontario #canada #downtown #urban #city #dundas #street #monochrome #photography #streetphotography #alley #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

On the outside, looking in

What once was. What could still be.
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Remember when we were kids, and we'd stand on the outside looking in through a window? We'd cup our hands around our eyes to block the light and hopefully get a glimpse of what was going on inside.

It was a pretty innocent, pure thing to do, a simple manifestation of a child's boundless curiosity.

I've got news for you: It isn't so cute when you're still doing it as an adult. But most of you know I never grew up. And I'm still insanely curious. Especially when so many empty storefronts now line our city's streets.

Every one of them has a story, but it isn't always so easy to tease out. So we can either walk on past and ignore the obvious. Or we can look closer at the here and now and try to imagine what was, and what might be.

I found this one on York Street, near my office. It was in pretty good shape compared to others in the area, and if I squeezed my eyes just so, I could imagine it coming back to life, to something an owner might be proud of, or a member of the local community might look forward to visiting and supporting.

The world has changed, though, and tired old buildings are no longer the engines of local commerce that they once were. The pool of wannabe-retailers is shrinking by the day, as are the customers who might have come here in another era. We shop on our phones now. Our local landscape is drying up, and that's painfully obvious through this window. And others nearby.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope there's another act in store for this place. But a look around this bleak streetscape reinforces the sad reality that renewal may not come here anytime soon. What we all lose in the process is harder to appreciate.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #york #street #monochrome #still #life #stilllife #photography #building #community #crisis #hope #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Stopping by the river to take in the view

Feeling reflective
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm lucky enough to live in a town - #LdnONT - that has a river running through it. I'm also lucky that some wise souls years ago decided to build a bike path alongside said river. Gee, sounds like the premise for a good movie, doesn't it?

Cinematic pipe dreams notwithstanding, I get really good views on my bike commute every morning and afternoon - and fall's arrival means they're getting better by the day.

I was kind of rushing the other night. The light was fading, and I had to get home at a reasonable hour. I had already left the office later than I wanted - a common thing with me, apparently - and I was mashing the pedals a little harder than usual to make up the time.

But to my right, the river kept peeking through the line of trees between the path and the water, and I couldn't stop staring. I know: Recipe for disaster.

Eventually, a super-fast photo shoot at a convenient pull-off point was called for. Not because I had the right camera - I didn't - or the light was particularly good - it wasn't. But because we already don't get enough opportunities to stop and smell the proverbial roses. Or, in this case, stop and take in the fast-changing leaves by the quietly flowing river.

Because before long, they, too, will be gone. And I'd at least like to be left with some kind of memory, even if it means getting home a couple of minutes later than planned.

#london #ontario #canada #springbank #park #thames #river #forest #trees #autumn #fall #color #colors #reflection #reflective #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Sometimes...

Against an azure sky
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Sometimes you just have to stop and take in the view above your head.

Sometimes you need to get outside and get some air.

Sometimes you have to take a time-out from staring at screens and stare at something real for a change.

Sometimes you need to take off your blinders and appreciate the things in your neighborhood - even if they're a little distressed. Or maybe a lot.

Sometimes, you just wish for a little more time to wonder about it all.

#ldnont #ontario #canada #519ldn #519london #downtown #office #building #architecture #reflective #mirror #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #urban #photography #blue #sky #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, October 07, 2019

Standing in a cathedral of green

Pondering what's possible
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
You see things differently when you wander through the woods with your kid. And by differently, I mean better. More precisely. More vibrantly.

We went looking for fall colors, as we do every year. But as you can see here, Mother Nature still hadn’t broken out her brightest shades. Maybe next week. Never mind, though, because green is still a color, and it was never about the colors in the first place.

It was always about that all-too-rare commodity: Time. About leaving the homework (hers) and writing (mine) behind for an hour or so while we looked at an impossibly beautiful world through glass. About picking our way across muddy paths without losing our shoes or boots in the process. About letting our minds race as we read the landscape and looked for something, anything, that jumped out at us. About creating something from nothing. About telling the story of a place, a path through a valley carved by a deceptively tiny creek, that most folks who live nearby don’t even know exists.

We weren’t out there as long as we would have liked. The setting sun and unusually aggressive mosquitoes (in October!) decided our timeline for us. But quality matters more than quantity, and by that definition it was a successful expedition.

Her photos were, and are, stunning, and she’ll be sharing them in her own feeds before long. My memories of watching her come into her own didn’t make it into pixel form, but they’re just as powerful to me.

Maybe Mother Nature will cooperate on our next walk. But even if she doesn't, time with this creative, brilliant human being is the real prize.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #heritage #forest #autumn #fall #color #colors #green #photography #daughter #parenthood #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Did someone say, "Fire"?

Heat, visualized
Dryden, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm not an arsonist. I don't play one on TV, nor do I ever aspire to the lifestyle.

Fire scares the bejeebers out of me. That is, assuming I have any bejeebers in me to begin with.

But if you can tuck the fear far enough away for a bit, it's fascinating to watch stuff burn through the disconnected safety of photographic glass. And to try to capture in some way. Kinda like rushing water or fountains, except this is a lot hotter.

So I keep a safe distance between myself and the dancing flames. But, still, I can't look away.

Human nature is a funny thing, isn't it? So is our innate curiosity.

#LiveLaughLevy #dryden #ontario #canada #fire #flame #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Becoming a building-hugger

Temple of the Canadian Winter
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Architecture doesn't get any more forgettable than this: An early-80s-era city-run arena, covered in rough, raked concrete that could have been sourced from the Soviet construction mafia.

Yet here I am on a dull-ish afternoon practically hugging the outside wall as I stare almost straight up at the textured surface, wondering if perhaps the life choices that have led me to this moment may have been somewhat less than optimal.

Hockey parents in logo-covered jackets clutch their disposable coffee cups as they walk past and try to hide their curiosity. But their sidelong glances and furrowed brows give them away. I'm guessing guerilla photography isn't much of a thing here.

Pity that. Because even the overtly forgettable deserves to be remembered. Even the routine can be extraordinary.

If, that is, we choose to look at it in a different way, through a unique lens, without worrying what others might think.

I don't. And because of that, today I come home with something that ensures this particular moment will stick with me for a while. Added bonus? No one was injured in the process.

My question, then - because you didn't think I'd miss an opportunity to spread the joy - is this:

What's your next shot going to be?

And while we're at it, one more question:

How will you make the ordinary extraordinary?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #spontaneous #parking #lot #photography #concrete #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #earlnichols #arena #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Not just any donut

A quintessentially Canadian breakfast
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Behold the humble donut.

It isn't just any donut (doughnut?), mind you. It's a Tim Hortons specialty donut. Take a Boston cream, replace the custard with caramel, top it with Kit Kat bits, put it on sale for a limited time, and voila: Instant stink-eye from every right-thinking cardiologist and diet-shamer on the planet.

But here's the thing: An occasional treat makes for a sweeter life. And it never hurts to remember little sweetnesses like this with some well-placed pixels.

This donut actually had a twin, which our daughter had already finished it off by the time I shot this still-life on Henrietta 2.0's dusty dashboard. I was dropping her off at an early-morning photo shoot across town, and some on-the-run breakfast seemed in order.

While I drove the quiet streets, she ate and we chatted as we willed the defroster to get rid of the last evidence of the morning chill. We used the seat heaters this morning, and bantered cheerfully about how lucky we are to have lots of ways to stay warm.

I'm lucky indeed, largely because I get to have time like this. With her. With everyone in our little family.

And if it takes a hastily captured arena parking lot donut photo to remember why otherwise routine mornings like this one deserve to be captured in some way, then consider me always willing to chow one - or maybe two - down for the team.

Because if I have to ride a few extra kilometres later on to burn this monstrosity off, I can't think of a better reason why.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #donut #doughnut #dessert #chocolate #coffee #shop #timhortons #spontaneous #parking #lot #photography #junkfood #daughter #parenthood #stilllife #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, October 04, 2019

Watching architectural history rot

Demolition by neglect
London, ON
October 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There’s a lovely, historic building in the middle of downtown #LdnONT. Well, it’s historic. But maybe not so lovely, as it’s been sitting, empty, for years, and recently had its dusty, broken windows replaced by plywood. Sadly, this building, the former home of the Wright Lithographing Co. Limited, isn’t alone.

Our downtown core is, to be charitable, a disgrace. Nevermind the boneheaded decision to summarily rip up three adjacent arteries at the same time - that’s a discussion for another day.

No, the rot goes back years, and it’s left us with parking lots where buildings used to be, and empty hulks of once-vibrant structures, abandoned in place by owners more focused on, well, I’m not entirely sure what their end-game is, actually.

Because I always thought property owners made their money by maintaining their buildings and then renting out the space. You know, like landlords have been doing forever. But a quick walk through the dusty streets of downlown London makes it clear how many of these places have been boarded up, with no sign of any effort to return them to life.

There is no investment. No interest in helping the community fill in its gap-toothed streetscape. No interest in generating revenue off of assets they own. That last one staggers me.

This particular building is owned by a company that proudly sticks its logo on every asset it owns. As if abandoned-in-place architecture is good for the brand. Or something to be proud of.

News flash: It isn't. It simply reinforces the long-simmering belief by those of us who care that our city's leadership is afraid to show some backbone. That no one wants to anger the big bear or upset the status quo.

I’ll give them points for the red paint on the plywood, but the fact that no one else asks why the same downward trajectory plays out for countless other properties in the core is, to me, disturbing.

This building deserves better. So does this city. So do we.

#london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #wellington #road #street #photography #wright #building #community #crisis #hope #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Chased by the shadow of my Dreamliner

Magical light at altitude
Climbing out of Vancouver, BC
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Wherever you go, your shadow is always there. Just look for it.

#yvr #vancouver #international #airport #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada #flight #flying #aviation #avgeek #boeing #aircraft #airplanes #planes #planeporn #dreamliner #widebody #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #lifeinthargins #family #everything

Stare into the dancing waters

Time, space, and a little water
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Stare into the dancing waters of a fountain long enough and you might be convinced that everything you see is completely random.

That may very well be true, as every image is radically different from the next, and they all seem to be dancing to their own unique tune.

But the laws of physics are pretty well-understood, so I’m guessing there’s a reasonable explanation for why each molecule of water moves as it does, and is precisely where it is within the 3-dimensional space you see here - just as there will be a similarly reasonable, physics-based explanation for the next image. And the next…

As I stand on the grass and take all of this in through my lens, I realize that for the first time in days, I’m not seeing, or feeling, grey. It’s a strictly temporary respite, of course, but I’ll take it all the same.

As the dancing waters continue to dance, I take my last shot, put away my camera, and quietly resolve to escape through the glass - here, there, anywhere - more often. Because no matter how overwhelming life can become, it can always be put on hold while we spend a little quality time thinking about the things we cannot see or understand.

Even if it’s only a temporary thing, a little wonder can nevertheless heal the most battered soul. And there’s absolutely nothing random about that.

#laval #chomedey #montreal #yul #quebec #canada #water #fountain #high #speed #photography #monochrome #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The perils of photographic plenty

No one's home
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I have a funny habit.

I grab my camera by its well-worn strap, sling it over my shoulder, and head out for a walk. There's no plan. The mission: Wander. When something presents itself, I'll know if it's worth shooting.

Of course, the process is different now than it once was. The shift to digital means each photo is no longer as dear as it once was. Without worrying about film and development costs, I can keep shooting until I run out of battery or memory card space.

But sometimes I wonder if that freedom has affected my photography. Has abundance dulled my senses of composition and storytelling? Am I a worse photographer if I come home with hundreds of images on the card, and then figure it all out in post-production? Whatever happened to carefully working out the story in my head before carefully tripping the shutter only once?

I have no answers. But tossing these questions around, silently, as I walk along the empty streets that wind along the gently flowing river is good for my otherwise turbulent soul. Life has been a non-stop roller coaster ride of unpredictability, so allowing myself the luxury of worrying about something as trivial as shot counts and photographic process is a rare treat that I don't want to squander.

As I approach this highrise, I decide to go minimal. It gets two frames before I decide to move on. This leaves me more time to stare through the viewfinder and wonder about what I'm seeing - or not - on the balconies. No people at all. Not a lot of evidence that anyone ever uses them.

I imagine what I would have missed had I been so busy taking dozens of differently composed views of the same thing. Would I have seen it, really seen it, in the same way?

Probably not.

It's a photography lesson for me. And perhaps one about life, as well.

#laval #chomedey #montreal #quebec #canada #concrete #glass #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #monochrome #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Artistic genius on a shadowy brick wall

Outdoor gallery
London, ON
September 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Is this art or graffiti?

Like so many facets of life in #LdnONT, the answer is far from obvious.

The alleyways that form the backbone of our down-at-the-heels downtown area are covered with it, a constantly evolving kaleidoscope of image and color from invisible strangers trying to tell their respective stories.

It isn't easy to divine precisely what those stories are, or what happened to whoever left them behind. But it's hard not to be pulled in in some way, to want to linger a little longer and think about how all this came to be.

I see more walks through - and photos from - these confusing, often-hidden spaces. Because the backstory is often more compelling than the one that stares us in the face.

And even if it isn't, journeys are most satisfying when they're diverse, new, and filled with questions just begging to be answered. Or at least pondered.

(FWIW, I'm voting art.)

#london #ontario #canada #downtown #urban #city #richmond #dundas #street #photography #streetphotography #art #color #alley #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything