Friday, February 15, 2019

Step toward the light

One stair at a time
London, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I climb and descend this staircase dozens of times a day. Because despite the plethora of communication tools on my laptop, phone, and tablet - email, Slack, Jabber, SMS, voicemail, videoconference, etc. - sometimes the best way to get something done is to have a good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation with someone.

I also spend most of my day sitting on my duff stringing words together on a screen, so it's not a bad idea to go for a quick wander around the building every once in a while. Gotta be healthy, after all.

Rarely do I stop to enjoy the view, though - largely because knowing me I'd probably fall and break something crucial - but that doesn't mean there aren't exceptions. Like on this late Friday afternoon, as the setting sun painted the historic brick starkly enough for me to freeze in place and take it in. As the workweek drew to a close, I could almost feel it in the atmosphere around me, the well-wishes to colleagues for a restful weekend, the gratitude to others for making the past week such a success. We do that here; another sign of what draws us to work in this special place.

A colleague asked me what I was up to, and I explained. She nodded agreement and said she needed to slow down and do the same, to hit the brakes every once in a while and enjoy the view. Which got me thinking: We may move a million miles an hour around here, but there's always time - even if it's just a few seconds - to stop and appreciate all that surrounds us.

And on this brilliantly sunny Friday afternoon, there was much to appreciate.

#ldnont #life #kingandridout #345ridout #downtown #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #brick #concrete #lines #sun #shadow #london #ontario #canada #google #pixel2 #teampixel Info-Tech Research Group @nicholsonsheffieldarchitects #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A long line of ice wine

Drink up!
Toronto, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It was a quiet Sunday night at Canada's largest airport. The weather wasn't threatening, the crowds were nowhere to be seen, and the entire terminal seemed to be immersed in a calm kind of hush, a relaxed vibe that masked the usual chaos this place served up virtually every other time I'd passed through previously.

Thanks to repeated delays, I had lots of time to kill. So instead of walking at speed, head-down as I watched the clock, I instead strolled through the near-empty halls, my eyes wandering across every visible surface, looking for something to inspire me.

I didn't have to look long, as this ice wine kiosk in the middle of the concourse was but 20 steps away from the gate. I initially hesitated to shoot it, because I feared the workers there would shoo me away. But after a quick scan, I realized no one was around, not here, or at any of the adjacent stores. Weird, but I wasn't about to complain.

I quickly got to work and before long, I had what I wanted. As I turned to put the phone away, another update from the airline popped up announcing yet another delay. I pulled the phone back out and looked around for more inspiration.

Because when the universe gives you a little extra time to explore a space that brightens your soul, it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity.

#toronto #yyz #pearson #international #airport #ontario #canada #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada Air Canada #flight #flying #aviation #glass #avgeek #orlando #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #family #is #everything

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Stuck at the airport

Impressionism on an airport floor
Toronto, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Sunday, 9:30 p.m. in Terminal 1, Pier F, at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Our plane should have been in the air well over an hour ago, but here we still sit, waiting for Air Canada to fix a busted 767. As strangers around me grumble at another seemingly boneheaded move by our national airline, I find myself at a fork in the road: Either join in the whine-fest, or walk away.

I choose the latter, as I just don't have the bandwidth to deal with negativity. I can't change the outcome, anyway. Can't fix our jet, or magically summon another. Or get us there any faster. Frankly, considering the complexity, safety, and affordability of flight, it's a wonder delays like this don't happen more often. I'm thankful that sitting on my duff for an extra few hours represents the biggest challenge I've faced all day.

On the plus side, I'm in Pearson's newest terminal. The ceilings soar and the floors gleam, and I've been making mental notes since I first walked in here, Post-Its for photos I want to take later.

Well, later is now. So I stroll the corridors alone, and when I get to this spot, I shift left, then right, then back, and again in a bit of a circle, to find the right angle, the right kind of reflection. The metering is a bit of a challenge, but eventually I figure it out. One airport employee stops to watch. I pretend not to notice, but I smile inside as I see her out of the corner of my eye.

I don't know how many visitors have walked past this very spot and ignored the abstract/impressionist reflections beaming out of the store at the other end of the corridor. But it's not my place to count. All I care about is taking a could-have-been-lost moment and making it memorable. I'm guessing mission accomplished, but I expect other similar moments to present themselves before long. Because the flip side of a delay is having a little more time to breathe.

#toronto #yyz #pearson #international #airport #ontario #canada #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada Air Canada #flight #flying #aviation #reflection #avgeek #orlando #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #family #is #everything

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Looking back while flying away

Saying goodbye, for now
Somewhere between London & Toronto, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Our daughter once gave me a piece of photographic advice - "Just take the lousy picture, Dad." - that I carry with me to this day.

What she meant was simple: Stop fretting over photographic perfection, because not all photos are meant to be perfect. Sometimes a quick, crappy snap is enough to remember the moment before you move onto the next.

This one, then, should be a poster child for the crappy photo. We were climbing to altitude out of London International Airport, headed to Toronto's Pearson, en route to our conference in Orlando. I looked back through the window of our commuter turboprop - Dash 8 Q400 - and saw the loveliest sunset-fuelled colors reflecting off the back of the engine nacelle. It was hardly an ideal shot, as the windows were all scratched and smudged, and the interior reflections made it almost impossible to see out.

But I was still moved, still felt this was, somehow, a special moment. I couldn't help but think the sun was shining for a reason - one last burst of color before we flew into the darkness. It felt like the universe was smiling at me, wishing me a safe trip ahead.

Or maybe it was just a reminder to look over our shoulders every once in a while. Not because we're suspicious or fearful, but because it never hurts to know where we've come from as we embark on a long, complex journey. A little somewhat-compromised optical grounding is always good for the soul. My kid, she's wise.

#ldnont #london #toronto #pearson #international #airport #ontario #canada #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada Air Canada​ #flight #flying #sky #sunset #weather #wx #orlando  #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #family #is #everything

Monday, February 11, 2019

Home of the dancing waters

Time stands still, for now
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
In the middle of a string of days that flowed chaotically from one to another, the fountain just outside my hotel became something of a home base for me. As I walked to or from the conference venue each morning and evening, I'd stop beside it and take in the soothing white noise and mist for a quick moment before continuing on my way.

I've always had a thing for fountains, as they're something of an oasis of coolness and quiet in the middle of an otherwise turbulent environment. I wish I had more time to shoot them, as they offer up endless possibilities for abstract photography. But the world doesn't much care that I enjoy dancing water, so a quick snap was all I could get on this particular trip before I needed to get back to the conference, the stage, the reason I came here in the first place.

Still, the temporary nature sticks with me. Chances are the water will never look quite like this again. In a blink of an eye, this specific scene is gone, replaced in a similar blink by another one, then another, and countless others in an endless not-quite-repetitive cycle. You content yourself with whatever random result you get, as you don't have much choice of, or control over, what you get.

As I continue my way to the conference site, I think about that word, control. When I'm on-stage in a little while, I'll do my best to control the moment, to maximize the potential for a successful delivery, to avoid crashing and burning in front of an audience of influential folks.

But I also realize that, like the dancing waters, I can't control everything, and some things must be left to chance. I suppose that's the way life is supposed to play out even if we wish that weren't the case.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #hilton #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #high #speed #photography #water #fountain #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Poolside impressionism

Feeling reflective
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
My late father used to say any day he woke up above the grass instead of below it was a good day. He was right, of course, but I think there's room for more: Any day we get is a gift, and some days are better than others.

Thursday was a better-than-others day. We had just wrapped up a 3-day conference in Orlando, and after changing into something a little comfier, we gathered around the pool to decompress and reflect. I'm lucky in so many ways, including the fact that I genuinely like the people I work with. It's a tech research company, so everyone around me is freaking brilliant. And kind. So as I often do when I feel comfortable, I grabbed my camera. I settled on the water, because for something that has no inherent color, it's pretty good at reflecting its environment. You change the scene simply by changing your perspective. Crazy how that works, no?

By now, my colleagues are well aware of my little addiction, so they happily suggested what I might want to shoot next. I'm admittedly not 100% pleased with this near-impressionistic, wave-scattered mirror. If I could shoot it again, I'd use a different camera, take more time. But that wasn't the point. This pic is just a placeholder, a marker of a moment where everything felt right, where we celebrated, briefly, an experience that reinforced why we love what we do.

The outside world awaited us all, and we gradually melted off to catch flights home or elsewhere, to return to the more grey-tinged routines that awaited us at the other end. I needed to remember that feeling of contentment before it, too, evaporated for good. This photo isn't worth a thousand words - indeed, it contains no words at all, because some moments are best felt, not described. I'm glad this was another above-the-grass day. I'd hate to have missed out.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #rosencentre #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #pool #poolside #reflective #reflection #water #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Fly away home (again)

Sacred ground
London, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A little over 22 years ago, I flew into London for the very first time, in an Air Ontario Dash 8 Series 100. I remember the moment vividly as the plane dropped out of the clouds and the landscape snapped into view, the seemingly endless carpet of green and grey squares looking and feeling nothing like the suburbs of Montreal where I grew up. It was a couple of months before we were scheduled to move here, relocated by my employer, and in that moment I wondered if plopping my family into a relatively small-ish city in the middle of Ontario's rich agricultural belt was a smart move.

Yesterday, on my way home from a successful conference in Orlando, I dropped out of the same clouds. This time I was on a newer version of that old Dash 8, the Q400, flown by the regional feeder airline, Air Canada Jazz, that swallowed Air Ontario up soon after we moved here. The ground looked much the same now as it did then: Endless squares, lying fallow, waiting for life to return in spring.

The only difference? I wasn't exploring some new land; I was coming home. These days, I know the landscape, the stories that make our corner of the planet unique, the people who make it a community. Our community. Somewhere under the clouds on the horizon was our home. My wife was waiting for me in the airport.

The snapshots may have indeed looked the same, but my connection to this place had become far tighter in the ensuing 22 years. Indeed, the concept of "home" had shifted. Those farms below my window were no longer strange-looking signatures of some faraway place, and I smiled to myself as I waited to meet my wife in the place we had painstakingly made our own.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #trip #air #flight #flying #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #instatravel #photography #winter #weather #wx #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #life #family #is #everything

Friday, February 08, 2019

Urban palm tree forest

Stand tall
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Early morning in Orlando, and I'm walking from the hotel to the concert venue. The sun has just broken through the cloudy horizon and is bathing everything in the kind of gauzy yellow light that makes even the grittiest of landscapes look magazine-worthy. And since I've got six lanes of high-speed traffic on one side, and a parking garage and a gas station on the other, gritty is where I now find myself.

The clock is ticking, and not in a good way. I've got to get to the event site, settle into my spot beside the stage, check my run-of-show, connect with the A/V team to ensure they have everything they need, and then just run everything through my head until it feels like a comfy mitten. I need every second I can get, and I don't want to arrive feeling rushed. But that divine light is begging for a moment, and it's up to me to decide whether or not I take it.

To no one's surprise, I stop at a particularly well-lit palm tree. The light will be gone in less than two minutes, but fortunately I need to be moving again before then. I shoot fast and am soon on my way. The sun fades behind a bank of clouds before I reach the first intersection.

Thankfully, I arrive with plenty of time to spare, and the day goes extremely well. Later, I linger over this photo on my phone, a now-tangible reminder of the day I slowed time down just enough to remember the journey. I smile as I think about journeys far from home, and why I do weird stuff like this in the first place.

Because if my family is going to sacrifice while I'm away, the least I can do is try to tell the story of the things I saw and felt when I wasn't with them. On this day, it's a palm tree trunk. Next time? I'll figure that out when the moment presents itself.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #hilton #rosencentre #hotel #roadtrip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #palm #tree #nature #naturephotography #sunrise #light #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Twisting by the pool

Feeling reflective
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A funny thing happens to people when you tell them you're in Florida: Almost without exception, they assume you're on vacation.

I wish. Most days here start with a walk in the dark to the conference venue, long hours of non-stop action, then another walk back to the hotel late in the evening. I'm working on 3-4 hours of sleep per night, because there just aren't enough hours to get it all done. I don't say that to complain, as I love what I do, the people I do it with, and the feeling we all get from pursuing a mission that matters, but simply to reinforce the reality of weeks like this: They're marathons.

And yet, in the middle of it all, I find myself stealing minutes here and there in between being on-stage, wrangling updated PowerPoint decks from the brilliant analysts presenting here, working with the A/V crew, and ensuring I don't starve alone the way. Like the moment in the sun yesterday that I managed to snag as I worked with our social media director on a day-2-roundup video for our LinkedIn followers.

We shot the video using my smartphone, a tripod, my laptop, a couple of lounge chairs, and a wooden box we've jerry-rigged to ensure everything's at eye-level. We got a lot of stares from women in bathing suits who probably thought we were shooting an Access Hollywood expose. It was great fun.

When we were done, we had a few minutes to take the scene in as we waited for the phone to upload the video to the cloud. It struck me as surreal that, despite the fact that we were working flat-out, we were still sitting poolside on a warm, sunny, breezy day.

Sometimes you just have to hit pause so you can count your blessings. The moment may be brief, but preciousness and duration are never directly linked, anyway.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #rosencentre #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #pool #poolside #reflective #reflection #water #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Snack food powers the world

Got nuts?
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I’m nowhere near home this week. Sunday afternoon, my lovely wife dropped me off at the airport, and before long I was winging my way south, where I find myself MCing a conference for my company.

We’re in Orlando, Florida, and depending on which window I use in my hotel, I can see the roller coasters, ferris wheels and other rides at Disney World and elsewhere. Thankfully I’m not a huge fan of Mickey, so I don’t feel like I’m missing much. This is a work trip, and I’m focused on making this conference, #InfoTechLive, an incredible success for my colleagues and, most critically, our members. Being able to spend time in an intense learning environment with our members for the better part of a week is quite the privilege. You learn what makes them tick, and you deepen your commitment to the mission of helping them raise their game. I’m beyond lucky to be on this path, and events like this are great reminders.

The days start before dawn and continue until long after dark. There isn’t much sleep to be had, but that’s by no means a negative, as we can always catch up on zees when we return home. The time crunch makes moments like this that much more precious, and I try to use my ninja approach to photography - shoot fast, shoot weird, smile while you do it, look for smiles in others around you - to connect with other attendees, and to help them remember their time here with us.

The photo, of the snack bowls served during yesterday's mid-afternoon break, is admittedly oddball, but it tells a story of a bunch of really smart folks from diverse backgrounds gathering around an unexpectedly joyous little treat in the middle of a busy trip. As we filled up, the chatter turned to small wonders in distant places, and the ability of a simple catering choice to make a difference in the lives of others. The guy in the background? Say hi to Larry, one of the smartest people I know.

More from the road soon...

#orlando #florida #rosencentre #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #food #foodporn #instafood #snack #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Monday, February 04, 2019

Dirty girl

Hold on
London, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's plainly obvious that Henrietta the Honda 2.0 desperately needs a wash. She's as filthy as she is thanks largely to the combination of a Canadian winter and my not having the time or patience to bring her to a proper car wash. I guess keeping the car clean hasn't been my top priority of late. Such is life.

But dirty doesn't mean uninteresting. I'm pretty sure "dirty car" doesn't rocket to the top of most people's shot lists, yet for reasons I cannot understand or explain, it resonates with me. Perhaps it's because there are so many variations of filthiness, and we all spend a good chunk of our life covered in something.

In a way, the dirt you see here tells the story of our little family's life, the pre-dawn drives to get the kids to campus or the late night excursions to bring them home, the grocery runs, the 9-ish hour slogs to Montreal, the getting lost in the hinterlands between here and there. Henrietta's red paint wears these trips like a badge of honor, and as I walk up to her and take in her smudgy flanks, I can almost read the story of where we've gone, and what we felt as we drove there, together.

Somehow, cleaning it off at this point just doesn't seem right. I know Henrietta will continue to pick up fragments of the places she's been, and those dirty fragments will continue to tell other stories. But I'm not yet ready to let go of the ones we've just finished telling.

#ldnont #honda #civic #civicnation #red #color #winter #weather #wx #spontaneous #driveway #shoot #shooting #urban #street #photography #car #carporn #cargram #auto #vehicle #automotive #google #pixel2 #teampixel #london #ontario #canada

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Icicle Works, Revisited

A losing battle with temperature
London, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The upside of a Canadian winter - and don't get me wrong, for all my whining about living in the Great White North, there are many upsides that more than compensate for the inconvenience of it all - is the never-ending parade of visual wonders that present themselves to us, often close to home. Or, in this case, literally ON my home, hanging from the roof's edge just beyond our front door.

There's a lesson in this singular icicle slowly losing its battle against the warming temperatures, and I'm thinking it has something to do with the universality of the forces that shape the world around us. We can't control any of it, but we sure can slow things down every once in a while so we can take it all in. I'm lucky to live in a place where this is even possible.

I know the presence of an icicle means I've probably got some inefficiencies in my roof, some insulation that isn't insulating, or some other less-than-ideal eco-related thing that's forcing some of that precious heated air out, when it should be staying in.

But that doesn't change the fact that for a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon, I got to watch droplets fall from the tip of a melting icicle. Small wonders, after all, deserve to be appreciated wherever and whenever they present themselves.

#ldnont #life #ice #icicle #works #winter #wx #monochrome #black #white #bokeh #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #instagood #photooftheday #london #ontario #canada #family #is #everything

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Clinging to life

Defiant
London, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've been shooting (let's clarify: photos) long enough that certain trends have become obvious. Family, dog, car, bike, and technology are the ones that jump to the front. Ivy, though, kinda makes me scratch my head. What is it about ivy that stops me dead in my tracks?

Honestly, I have no idea. About ivy, or anything else that makes me freaking tick. To wit: Devo's "Jimmy's in a Wheelchair" pops into my head with alarming frequency. I can't explain why, much to my poor wife's consternation.

But I digress. Back to ivy. I'm thinking it's a tenacity thing. This scraggly plant stretches itself out over crumbling brick in the middle of a hostile urban environment. No one waters it or otherwise cares for it. The mean streets - or just a local pack of badly trained dogs - probably do their best to kill it. It doesn't even look like much, especially in winter when it usually looks dead enough that you wonder if it'll come back in spring.

Yet, against all odds, it does. With a sense of defiance that seems to speak to me as I stand on the sidewalk in the biting winter wind and ponder its silent, overlooked existence. If a stupid sprig of ivy can survive all this, then I'm guessing I can, too. And so can you.

#ldnont #yxu #downtown #ivy #building #88york #york #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #google #pixel2 #teampixel #explore #urban #street #photography #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #life #london #ontario #canada #family #is #everything

Friday, February 01, 2019

Mind the edge, please

Little, yellow, different
Toronto, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to shoot this close to the edge of the platform. While I made darn sure there were no people or trains nearby, I still cracked a smile as I crouched down and composed. I imagined what it must look like to others, the relatively put-together guy in the tie and pea coat taking artsy pictures in the middle of a busy, drafty, dirty public space.

They probably thought I was insane. They likely weren't far off.

I don't fully understand why I do this, time and again. Countless people pass through here uneventfully every day. They join the herd, heads down, walking quietly, attracting no attention in the process. Yet In the middle of my own long commute home, after a productive, non-stop day in the big city to the east that got underway well before dawn, following the herd is the last thing on my mind.

I suspect losing my brother, riding the inevitable aftershocks that followed, and navigating my father-in-law's illness have all changed me in ways I may never fully understand. I suspect having a stroke a few years back also irrevocably changed me, prompting me to view the world around me through a different lens. I'm less inclined to ask permission, wait for an answer, or care too much about what others think of me. I'm not about to rob a bank, but I'm also not going to stand meekly by out of fear someone might object if I step forward. Or out. I'll follow my own path, and if that means a few raised eyebrows, I'm good with that. If that makes me a bit of a badass, too, I'll take it.

Maybe there's a broader lesson in this seemingly simple photo. Maybe we should all be looking for opportunities to step out from the herd, if only for a moment, and do something that makes us crack a smile. Maybe the next time I come through this otherwise-soulless place seemingly built to reinforce anonymity, I won't be crouched down alone. Maybe we can commit to looking a little harder for slivers of light in unexpected places.

#toronto #yyz #the6ix #yonge #bloor #ontario #canada #ttc #subway #downtown #travel #travelphotography #streetphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #photography #family #is #everything