Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Monolithic architecture against the winter sky

All lit up for the holidays
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The Canada Life building stands sentinel over London's Victoria Park, an anchor in a city and a world where stability often seems to be in short supply.

Maybe it's an illusion and maybe it's real - it almost doesn't matter as I stand on the downtown sidewalk and try to take in the imposing facade of this iconic structure.

I worked here once - moved my family here in the dead of winter to follow an unknown path. At the time, I remember standing in this very spot wondering whether I had made the right decision.

It dawned on me that my entire professional life in this very alien-to-me town revolved around this one company, in this one building - which, frankly, was a bit of a frightening thought.

Thankfully, time often has a way of filling in the gaps. We grew roots here, and I eventually found other places to work, bigger stages to grow my career. The monolithic company that brought me here no longer seemed so monolithic. Or dominant.

The company's changed hands a few times since we got here, and the really big decisions are now made far, far away. No one knows what the future holds, for this or any other firm. Life is a lot less predictable than it was all those years ago.

But the architecture...well, some things are timeless, and we're glad they're still around to cast a warm glow over the city they helped build, over the place we’ve come to know as home.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #brick #urban #city #downtown #streetphotography #night #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Monday, December 06, 2021

Polytechnique at 32

In the end, it's just light
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


32 years ago tonight, a man walked into an engineering school in Montreal, separated the women from the men, and shot 14 women dead.

The massacre should have been a watershed moment, a point where society finally got the message about violence against women, and committed to doing something about it.

It’s a harsh phrase to write: should have been. Because here we are, 32 years later, and we haven’t quite figured out how to build a world where women don’t live in fear.

We give speeches, hold rallies, fundraise, build monuments, and light buildings - like London’s City Hall - in purple. But my daughter and wife are still afraid to walk the dog alone at night. And women still die at the hands of men. Because they’re women.

We can do so much better. I wonder why we don’t.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #polytechnique #massacre #cityhall #shinethelight #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Related:
Polytechnique at 31, December 2020

Reflections in (un)forgettable architecture

Evening over Hyde Park
London, ON
December 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This could very well be the most forgettable building in a city that's filled with them, a concrete-and-glass box stuffed with medical, financial, and legal offices.

I've cycled past this place thousands of times but probably never gave it a second thought.

Except this time I wasn't balancing the laws of physics as I tried to avoid becoming someone's hood ornament. Rather, I was standing in a parking lot across the street, and the setting sun was painting an unreal scene in the usually featureless vertical windows between the drab slabs of concrete.

Mirrored glass can be fun to play with. Who knew?

So I told my ever-understanding wife that I was having another vision, and before I knew it I was reaching for my camera and picking just the right spot on a nearby sidewalk to compose the scene.

It took a couple of minutes to figure out, as I was forced to shoot through four lanes of Christmas-shopping-insanity traffic. But in the end I think I succeeded in seeing a building I'd been ignoring for years in a completely different, eye-opening manner.

The more I look at this photo, though, the more I wonder if this phenomenon can apply to people, as well.

I’m thinking it can. You?

#ldnont #london #hydepark #ontario #canada #architecture #design #architecturephotography #geometry #building #sun #sunset #weather #wx #street #photography #canon #canonphotography #canon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Sunday, December 05, 2021

May the light never go out

All lit up
London, ON
December 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


A week ago we lit the first light, and tonight we lit all eight*.

It’s a bittersweet moment. As the house glows its brightest, the candles will soon burn themselves out for the final time this year.

The hope is that we’ll get to do it all again next year. And between now and then we’ll have to figure out other ways to find the light.

Because tonight it comes from candles. Where it comes from tomorrow and every day thereafter is entirely up to us.

Chag sameach, gang. May we all have much to celebrate, tonight and every night. #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #chanukah #hannukah #howeveritisspelled #jewish #holiday #all #holidays #weareone #photography #apple #iPhone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

* I know there are actually 9 candles. The shamash, or helper candle, always has to run the show. It's a Chanukah thing. We've got extra latkes if you want any.

Outdoor patio. Oasis. Same thing.

Take a load off
London, ON
September 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


In this pandemic-panic-charged era, everyday activities that were once done without a second thought - picking up groceries, getting together with friends, seeing a movie in a theatre, eating at a restaurant, you name it - are now fraught with worry.

Outdoor patios offer something of a compromise, a place to pretend that everything's normal when everything and everyone screams otherwise.

Canadian winters being what they are, though, I'm not eating here anytime soon. But when this scene from early September popped up in my feed, it triggered me, and suddenly I found myself looking forward to a warm day in spring when, perhaps, I'll be able to return here and enjoy a quiet moment with someone who matters.

I think we're beyond the point where we think we'll ever return to normal - whatever "normal" ever was.

But as this bonkers inflection point in history continues to drag on - with teases like loosened travel restrictions and limited-scope get-togethers with friends we haven't seen in ages suddenly yanked away by the rise of Omicron - I think it makes sense to look for safe harbors here and there to help us weather the storm.

If my safe harbor involves a few minutes hanging out in an alleyway while I wait for my tea to cool, I'm perfectly fine to wait a few months to experience it firsthand.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada @bxcrdonuts #masonville #retail #store #shoplocal #donuts #outdoor #patio #design #lines #brick #random #urban #monochrome #street #streetphotography #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Colonel Sanders get burned

Definitely not edible
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
October 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Canadian Tire stores are as core to the Canadian identity as hockey, Tim Hortons, Mounties, and beavers.

They're more than mere stores: they're often the anchors of the communities they serve, gathering places for citizens of this sparsely populated, weather-challenged nation.

Sometimes, they carry some really weird items. Like fried chicken-scented, KFC-branded firelogs. Oh my, if only I could have been a fly on the wall at the pitch meeting for this.

I wonder what Colonel Sanders would think.

#saultstemarie #ontario #canada #roadtrip #travel #travelphotography #retail #store #canadian #tire #kentucky #fried #chicken #kfc #firelog #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

The last (sunset) picture show

When it ends...
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I think this is one of the last photos - if not THE last - that I took from the balcony of my father-in-law's place after he passed away.

Sunsets from here were always something of a thing for both him and my late mother-in-law, especially when I cracked the camera out in the middle of dinner and ran outside to capture a particularly resonant moment in the western sky.

I'm pretty sure they got a serious kick out of my photographic weirdness.

I miss being able to take photos like this from this spot. But I miss them both so much more.

#laval #chomedey #montreal #yul #quebec #canada #throwback #sun #sunset #orange #sky #cloud #weather #wx #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Related:
Difficult sunset, June 2019
Even the skies know, February 2013
Big sky country, July 2011
Little man, big sky, August 2010

Friday, December 03, 2021

When monochrome...isn't

Painted white forest
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I’m an unabashed fan of monochrome photography, and will often set the camera to shoot in monochrome mode as a deliberate way to force my brain to think differently.

The funny thing about this particular photo is that it’s actually in color. Mother Nature rather conveniently painted the landscape a rich shade of white and grey, so much so that she left no room for anything off the greyscale.

The snow was largely melted a few hours after I took this, so I’m kind of hoping we get another blanket of the white stuff before long. This color/no-color phenomenon could be a fun thing to explore further.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #winter #weather #wx #snow #random #street #night #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, December 02, 2021

No Rhinos for Canada

Where's the carrier?
London, ON
August 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Canada is an awesome country on so many levels, but we more or less suck when it comes to equipping our armed forces.

To wit, the CF-18 Hornet fighter jets tasked with protecting our airspace are almost 40 years-old, and multiple federal governments have spent much of the past couple of decades fumbling the football around their eventual replacements.

Meanwhile the heroes who maintain and fly them continue to work miracles - largely involving the aviation equivalent of duct tape and twine - to keep them in the skies.

The most recent chapter of this saga has Boeing (again) on the wrong side of the ledger, as its F/A-18 Super Hornet was deemed to have not met the requirements of the program. This leaves Lockheed/Martin’s F-35A Lightning II and Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen E still in the mix.

Sorry, Canada, no Rhinos - like these two U.S. Navy E models - for you. If I were a betting person, I’d say the fix is in for the F-35, but my gut tells me the Gripen would make for a neat underdog choice with way better back-end economics.

Whatever we get, it needs to happen soon. Those Russian bombers knocking on our northern borders won’t be going away anytime soon.

No one ever said deterrence, national sovereignty, or keeping global bullies at bay would be easy or cheap.

#nikonskydrive @airshowlondon @nikoncanada @usnavy #ldnont #london #airport #ontario #canada #SkyDrive #AirShowLondon #aviation #boeing #mcdonnelldouglas #superhornet #fighter #flight #aircraft #avgeek #aviationphotography #planespotting #instaplane #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Treed lightning

The calm after the storm
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I'll never get tired of staring at trees after they've been dusted by snow.

Or gradient-painted by the streetlights.

Or a bit of both.

I'll also never get tired of shooting them.

Sorry.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #winter #weather #wx #snow #random #street #night #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

On being your best self

"Only do what only you can do."

Bright tree on a dark night

Ready for winter
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Even on the darkest night, you will find the light if you keep your eyes open long enough.

Or so that’s what I try to believe.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #winter #weather #wx #snow #random #street #night #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Monday, November 29, 2021

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - On the 737

Patrick Smith is a commercial airline pilot who also happens to be a tremendously gifted writer. I've followed him on his site, Ask the Pilot, for years, and recommend him to anyone with even a passing interest in aviation. If you're the kind of person who thinks airports are the neatest places on Planet Earth, you'll enjoy his work.

This piece is from 2019 - the Before Times, apparently - so it's been around a while. But I re-read it this week and thought it would be worth sharing here as part of our ongoing #IfYouReadOneThingToday series.

Long story short, he looks at the Boeing 737 MAX saga through a specifically historical lens, and explains the market-driven forces that ended up with Boeing deciding to stretch its venerable 737 just a little further rather than come up with a new clean-sheet design.

If you've been following the MAX story, this is a must-read. Then again, we should all read it, because it casts light on the factors behind what planes get developed, and how.

By Patrick Smith
Ask the Pilot
December 16, 2019

Chasing snow at night

Fresh tracks
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I wasn't much in the mood to shoot last night. If we're being honest, I haven't felt like shooting much lately, which is rather unlike me, and frankly a little terrifying.

Life, you know?

But something clicked in my head as the dog and I were wandering through the newly-snow-covered neighborhood. I thought about all my friends and family who, like me, record the planet around them in pixels. They've been out there shooting their neighborhoods, too: snowy ones, wet ones, grassy ones, whatever.

And I'm sure they, like me, have days where they just aren't feeling it. Where they feel a little darker than they'd like. Where it would be easier to just do nothing. To remain silent.

Yet somehow, they persist.They find the magic inside that helps them tell their stories to others.

Indeed, sometimes our inner voices go silent, which is all part of how we deal. Yet we still rely on those around us to fight that silence and get out there.

Consider me inspired, by them, to get out there. Last night, it looked like this.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #mental #health #ishealth #random #street #night #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Sunday, November 28, 2021

My Chanukah non-wish wish

The one where we look for light

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, the Jewish festival of light.

Forgive me for not posting the requisite happy holiday message on my socials. I get why this has become a thing in the social media era, but it’s not me. Random wishes on a feed feel, I don’t know, insubstantial. There’s got to be more.

So here’s where I stand on this holiday. It’s all about light. About miracles of survival when logic dictates you probably shouldn’t. About prevailing despite it all. About believing in the underdog. About not bowing down to oppression.

Whatever your background and whatever you do or do not celebrate, I’d like to believe that we all share these common values, and then some. I’d like to believe that we’d all feel something by shining light into places where darkness once prevailed. By being better people to each other.

So even if you don’t celebrate this particular holiday - or maybe you do, yet you spell it a different way - please accept my invitation to go beyond the realm of the conventional holiday wish by sharing what you will be doing to shine the light and banish the darkness.

Your mission, then, is to leave an answer to this simple question: what’s the one thing you’ll be doing to be better to others?

Please leave a comment here, if you’re so inclined. I’ll start: I’ll call out unkindness when I see it rather than standing idly by.

Your turn. Go!

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #chanukah #hannukah #howeveritisspelled #jewish #holiday #all #holidays #weareone #photography #apple #iPhone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

You say tomato...

Tasty wonders of nature
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I’m noticing something about pandemic-era photography: you can be a lot stealthier when you’re wearing a mask.

Which makes it somewhat easier to shoot spontaneous pictures in places where spontaneous photography would normally not be the norm.

Like the veggie section of the local Farm Boy supermarket. Where, I’m guessing, fruitography isn’t something that’s generally welcomed by management.

Couple it with the natural below-the-radar nature of a smartphone - I could just as easily be checking my shopping list - and it’s an ideal scenario for capturing optical weirdness during an otherwise ordinary moment.

Maybe the pandemic has changed us all. Perhaps we look harder for moments of whimsy, where we can escape for a fleeting moment from the crushing feeling that the darkness won’t be letting up anytime soon. Maybe we just grab at the light wherever we can find it.

On this cold, grey November afternoon, I happened to find some in the tomato bin. As a bonus, they were on sale.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #farmboy #grocery #store #fruit #vegetables #tomatoes #red #texture #fruitography #shopping #retail #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Related:
Peachy, August 2021
Cabbagetown, May 2021
Bananas in the round, February 2021
This spud's for you, January 2021


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Cash money

Stuck in a box
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
October 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Waiting...

For what is anyone's guess.

#saultstemarie #ontario #canada #roadtrip #travel #travelphotography #cashmoney #retail #random #street #photography #streetphotography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #picoftheday #pictureoftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Empty store late at night

An icon rests
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Big box retail takes on a particularly mournful look at 11:28 p.m.

The giant concrete-and-brick anchor store looms over the parking lot, fluorescent light spilling across the empty pavement. The only sounds come from the four-lane roads that surround the mall, the white noise of late-night traffic filtering in from the distance.

With pandemic restrictions now largely lifted (for now, says Omicron), this lot will be full once again when this store reopens tomorrow. Online shopping may have taken hold when we were stuck at home, but people are social creatures, and they still want to get out and connect when given the opportunity.

I'll admit it still freaks me out, and it'll be a while before I'm comfortable being here when the lot is full, the doors are open, and the stores are at capacity.

So for now, I linger in an empty, darkened parking lot and try to imagine what it was like when coming here was so much simpler than it seems to be now.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #masonville #retail #store #hudsonsbay #thebay #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #brick #urban #monochrome #streetphotography #night #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Friday, November 26, 2021

Small dog. Fresh snow. Pure joy.

We don't have to go in just yet, do we?
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


It snowed this morning.

We'd had a couple of sprinklings over the last few weeks, but this was the first winter-storm-warning, lake-effect-squall event of the year, and as you can imagine it resulted in some wakeup grumbling for some.

But not for this little one.

She bounced out of the house nose-first, and within seconds was snort-sniffing the funny white stuff, her rear end wiggling with barely contained glee.

It was hard not to smile as I watched her. Nothing else mattered in the moment as she eagerly jumped from one pristine part of the lawn to another, leaving delightfully messy paw prints in her wake.

I think I could learn a thing or two from this little ball of unspoiled energy. I think we all could.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #weather #wx #winter #snow #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Tiny flashes of red

Seasonal defiance
London, ON
November 2011
This photo originally shared on Instagram


There’s something inspiring about the way color seems to hold on for as long as it can.

Even in late November, these tiny flashes of red seem to defiantly broadcast themselves long after everything around them has gone irrevocably grey and bare.

Forgive me for sounding more than a little weird, but here’s what I think this teaches us:
  • Surprises lurk everywhere, anytime.
  • We have to be willing to look harder to find them.
  • We lead better lives by following our own path rather than blindly following the paths of others.
  • Those who stand alone often stand out.
  • It’s better to burn out than to fade away.
Musical misappropriation aside, I’ll keep looking for the tiny surprises in hard-to-find places. Whatever the color or whatever the message, we’re all a little richer of soul for having seen them.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #throwback #tree #trees #red #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #texture #bokeh #gameoftones #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #picoftheday #pictureoftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, November 25, 2021

On stupidity and patriotism

"When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent."

Kindness rocks, always

Only one reader matters
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
October 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I came across this very special rock, carefully laid out among a similarly special row of rocks that stretched along this trail beside the river, each of which carried a special message, intended for someone who mattered.

I don't know who Uncle Taylor is, but I wish I did.

I don't know how long this rock has been here. Or how Uncle Taylor is doing.

I pray he's heeded the message, that he knows, to the depths of his soul, that he is worthy, wanted, and wonderful.

I pray that he's still hanging on, that he knows how much he's loved.

I pray we all do the same.

#saultstemarie #ontario #canada #roadtrip #travel #travelphotography #stmarys #river #rock #kindnessrocks #purple #sign #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Bumping into a gull by the highway

Minding his own business
Sault Sainte Marie, ON
October 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The Trans-Canada Highway passes right through town.

And sometimes if you stand in just the right place at just the right time, you'll come across a random pedestrian listening to music just before he has an equally random encounter with a gull.

Life is random that way, hence the need to stand on more street corners more often so we can take it all in.

#saultstemarie #ontario #canada #roadtrip #travel #travelphotography #traffic #pedestrian #random #street #photography #streetphotography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #picoftheday #pictureoftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins