Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Shanghai facade - another view

Imposing perspective
Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to embiggen]

Sometimes, a second look at the same scene can result in a very different outcome. I hope you'll humor me by clicking back on this image. Go ahead, I'll wait.

[Tick, tock, tick, tock...]

And we're back.

Color, angle and distance: All changed. Consequently, I ended up with two very different pictures despite the fact that the same person took them mere seconds apart. Sometimes, we see different things when we stand in different places and scrunch our eyes just so.

As I look at these two photos side-by-side, I keep thinking that the lesson here applies to more than mere pictures.

Your turn: Opinion, perspective, and our unwillingness to budge even when the context is changed. Please discuss.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Walking alone

London, ON, September 2007 [Click to enlarge]

As far as I could tell, we were the only two souls on this deserted pathway on this gray late Sunday afternoon, though I don't think this quiet man with the cane knew I was behind him. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves that were just beginning to change colors and begin their final journey earthward.

As I watched him slowly walk ahead of me, I thought about what lay behind the bend. I decided sometimes it's best to take your time getting there. Whatever it is can wait. We'll all get there eventually.

Your turn: What's going through your mind when you're alone for any stretch of time?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Scene from a street

Quiet sidewalk
Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]

I'm not a big picture kind of photographer. Time and again, I take little pictures of little things, routine views of everyday life that usually don't merit much attention or reflection. I'm not sure why I've evolved this way. Part of it may be because I'm a contrarian, a bete noire, the kind of person who zags when everyone else zigs. When they lift their cameras, most folks seem to be capturing the same touristy, conventional views seen in travel brochures. I have no interest in being derivative.

So on this hot day, I found myself wandering the not-so-touristy streets of Shanghai, the ones where real people live and work. And as I did, the texture of the place kept jumping out at me. Little things stood out, like the uneven surface of the signs above each store, the bicycles and handcarts left haphazardly alone and unlocked, their trusting owners nowhere to be seen, the corrugated security doors closed here and there, prompting me to wonder whether their closure was temporary or permanent.

As I so often do, I took a picture as a reminder of how I felt at that moment, standing on a street so far from home. That I feel I can practically touch the scene on my flat laptop screen is testament to the richness of this place and the people who make it so uniquely memorable.

Your turn: Can a two-dimensional image capture texture? If so, how?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Caption This 42

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

Toronto, ON, June 2007

Sometimes when I'm out and about, I see things that make me go "huh?" or "whaaaaa?" My extreme fear of compressed, explosive gas compelled me to reach for my camera when this idiot passed me on the 401. Not to worry, I wasn't in the driver's seat at the time.

Your turn: Please think of a snappy caption for this photo and post it in a comment. Enter as often as you like! Winner will be announced next week.

About last week's photo - legs and ladder: I took this picture on the eastern edge of London's downtown, a stretch that's seen its better days. Your responses made me smile. The trophy goes to John for his neat play on words, a ladder day saint. Incidentally, John entered a bunch of times. End shameless plug.

Honorable mentions go to the following folks:
  • Craziequeen: Painted legs
  • Jean-Luc Picard: George realised that the stepladder was too short to clean a two storey house
  • Breadbox: Who knows what evil lurks in the rungs of ladders? The Shadow knows....
  • Bernie: And she's climbing a stairway to... the window...
  • Smiler: I feel kinda flat today, you?
  • Snaggle Tooth: I'm calling to report a really tall man outside the window
Good luck with this one. Can't wait to see what y'all come up with. Have fun!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

(Tomato) juiced

London, ON, April 2006 [Click to embiggen]

Here in the Great White North, they've coined a term to describe grocery products that are of supposedly higher quality than the norm. They call it "Canada Fancy", and it supposedly means that it's especially good. Rumor has it that there's a Canada Extra Fancy as well, but I've never seen the label, and just thinking about it makes my brain hurt. Too many choices when I go shopping, after all.

As I pulled the pocketcam out of my trench coat (no flasher jokes, please) and quickly grabbed this image in the aisle of our neighborhood grocery store, I wondered about the poor products that didn't get to have the "Canada Fancy" label, and a number of very pressing questions immediately came to mind:
  • Did non-Canada Fancy products somehow suck?
  • Would I contract some sort of horrible disease if I consumed unfancy food?
  • Was I a fancier person because I put Canada Fancy-tagged products into my cart?
  • What were they smoking when they came up with this title?
Your turn: Please help me answer these questions. It's been 18 months since I shot this image, and I've been in grocery limbo ever since.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A teenager lives here

I remember the first time I met Zachary. He was all scrunched and sad-looking after spending the better part of a day trying to get out into the world. His head was a little misshapen from the experience, and the little wrinkles on his face reminded me of his late great-grandfather from whom he inherited his middle name.

His first day was a tough one, as were the few that followed when he ended up in an incubator in NICU. For first-time parents, it was a rough initiation to the club.

Sometimes today when I look at him, I can still feel that moment, when he went from an abstract form on an ultrasound monitor to a squirming, very real, very dependent little being who was suddenly very much ours. I sometimes close my eyes and I feel like I'm right back in the OR, feeling that sense of not knowing whether I should stay by him or by my wife who had just had emergency surgery to get the little munchkin out.

It was our first lesson that parenthood isn't always easy, linear, or logical. And despite the craziness of making and raising little folks, parenthood has turned out to be one of those life decisions that we can't imagine not having taken. We can't fathom what the world was like before he arrived. Nor do we ever want to.

Thirteen years after that very big day in the life of a new, little person and his two very bewildered, very scared parents, I find myself looking at this approaching-adult who's almost as tall as my wife and wondering how we went from that to this so quickly. I wonder if I've done enough along the way to capture moments in his life in ways that he'll be able to hold onto when he's older. I hope I've been teaching him the lessons he needs to learn to become a good person, a responsible adult, enough of a success that he'll have what he needs to build his own family, his own new world, his own future.

Just as I did on the day when I first met him, I look into the future with a curious mixture of fear, hope and excitement. And as I listen to him speak to his younger sister and brother, I relax my shoulders a bit as I realize that he's coming into his own just fine. He's not ours to the same degree he was when he weighed less than the laptop on which I type this blog entry. But he'll inevitably carry little pieces of us forward wherever he ends up.

Happy birthday, Zachary Akiva. May all your milestones be happy ones.

Your turn: Birthdays are always about wishes. What's your wish for him?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Photographic fun on a foggy night

Ghostly trees
London, ON, October 2007
[Click to embiggen]

Note: This is another image from my late-night walkabout through our foggy neighborhood. Please click here for the earlier blog entry.
There's something cathartic about being outside on your own with a camera when virtually everyone else is asleep. You stop thinking about the things on your to do list, the things you forgot to do yesterday, the appointments that await you the next day, the little nagging snippets of life that seem to fill your every waking hour.

Instead, you find yourself not thinking at all; simply reflecting on how quiet it is, how nice it would be if you didn't have to stay up late on a foggy night to experience this kind of solitude.

You're not on a clock, so you slowly walk from one block to the next, looking for just the right scene that will help you remember later on what it felt like to stand there in the still, damp air while the world around you seemed to be taking a much-needed rest.

That's one of the reasons I take as many pictures as I do: I use them to remember what it felt like to be in a certain place at a certain time. Long ago, I laughed at my high school art teacher when he called the camera a time machine. But now I realize he was right. This image brings me right back to that corner as it reminds me why we need to deliberately make the time to seek out moments like this in the first place.

Otherwise, we risk having no such reflective moments at all.

Your turn: What are you seeing when you peer deeply into this scene? Why do we look back at all?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Playing with light

London, ON, October 2007 [Click to enlarge]

It's well after midnight when I quietly lead the dog outside for his before-bedtime stroll through the neighborhood. As soon as my foot touches the porch, I feel it in the air: the characteristic clamminess that signals an impending foggy night. Sure enough, the air is starting to thicken with fog just as we round the first corner and see the telltale softness of the streetlights against the dark, quiet streetscape.

I rush the unsuspecting pooch through his walk so I can get him home and fetch my camera and tripod. He dutifully sits by the front door as I disappear into the growing murk.

The pea soup environment seems to dampen all sounds. The air is incredibly still as I walk slowly, looking for vantage points. I don't really have a plan, but I assume I'll figure it out as I go along. I've never shot fog at night, so I wonder if it's even worth my time to be out here.

Shafts of light shoot out from behind houses and through trees. I wonder if I can capture the ethereal scenes, carefully lining the camera up to capture some of the most interesting-looking slices of light. After around a half-hour of playing in this solitary, quiet, outdoor playground, I decide I've had enough and head for home.

As I walk across our lawn, a burst of light through our maple tree catches my eye. I keep walking. I'm tired and I want to go to sleep. But I stop beside the door, thinking it'll be a while before we get this much fog when it's this dark. So I turn around and shoot the tree. Two quick exposures and I'm back inside.

The keeper of the evening is the last image I shot. Sometimes, you simply need to give into the inner voice that begs you to keep going.

Your turn: What does your inner voice tell you?

One more thing: I'm starting to select images to include in an initial set for online sale. I've received a number of requests in recent months, so I'm finally taking the time to offer high-resolution, framed images for order. If you have any suggestions from photos I've published previously, please feel free to leave a comment. And if you actually want to be the first to put your dibs in for a print, feel free! I'll post details on the blog in the days/weeks to come. Thanks in advance!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bridge Over the River Thames

What lies beneath
London, ON, October 2007 [Click to embiggen]

I'm still working through an extended monochrome phase. Despite the colors of the season, I seem to be viewing the world around me in relatively cold, stark terms. Not sure why: I suspect life these days isn't the Happy Fun Ball that I wish it would be. Such is life.

I caught this scene on the same walkabout that resulted in this one. The contrasts between reflected, tonal color and cold concrete, gravel beside a depleted, polluted excuse for a river are pretty severe. Both were taken just under three minutes apart, and reflect my contention that photography has little to do with reality, and everything to do with the kind of reality you choose to capture when you decide to scan your world using a viewfinder instead of your eyes.

Your turn: The filters we apply to our view of the world. Please discuss.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Caption This 41

Please come up with a snappy caption for this photo
[Click here for Caption This instructions]

London, ON, October 2007 [Click to embiggen]

This picture reminds me that I need to get out of the car and walk around different neighborhoods more often than I already do. There's always something wickedly abstract to capture my attention.

Your turn: Please share your caption suggestion in the Comments section. I'll post the winner next week.

About last week's image: The photo of our son's bright orange cast was a pretty popular one. I'm glad you all shielded your eyes and jumped right in. For the record, he's now sporting a camouflage-pattern cast, and will be so-immobilized for at least another month. The good news is he's been given the go-ahead to begin putting a bit of weight on the leg. So hopefully that little light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to grow just a bit.

Flleenie made me laugh with this one: "My God, look at the size of that carrot!" She also submitted a phallic-themed suggestion that also floored me - which reinforces the need to submit often, even if you think it isn't funny. Chances are, it is.

Honorable mentions go out to these intrepid captioners:
  • Shephard: When Jamba the elephant sprained his trunk, the doctors wrapped it in cheery orange bandages, thus improving his mood and speed his recovery.
  • Craziequeen: Pristine - the Orange One waits for ink and love
  • Jean-Luc Picard: The Invisible Man decides to go for some colour with his bandages.
  • Scrappintwinmom: Orange you glad you're getting the cast off soon?
  • Lara: That's a wrap!
And to the trio of "orange you glad" themed submissions:
  • Miss Meliss: Orange you glad I didn't say banana?
  • Ravvy: Orange you glad its soon to star in CastAway
  • Joel Reynolds: Orange you glad it's not a body cast?
Thanks, y'all, for participating. Hope you have fun with this week's caption!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Smoked. Stacked.

Towering bricks
London, ON, October 2007

[Click to embiggen]

Hospitals are fascinating places, jumbles of buildings that have been haphazardly built and connected over the years as community needs have evolved. These looming structures seem to tell the story of the city's growth, much like the rings of a tree speak of its life.

At a forgotten edge of the south campus of the London Health Science Centre sits a row of forgettable old brick buildings. Abandoned equipment sits outside dusty windows that never seem to have real people on the other side. The insides are dark, industrial, and probably haven't changed since long before I was born.

Towering over the landscape of cracked pavement and scrubby grass is a smokestack whose brickwork betrays its age. As I stand in its shadow on this cold and windy day, I hope the missing chunks of masonry aren't indicative of a weak structure.

I come to this campus every week to donate blood. We've also been bringing our son to this hospital for his regular ortho appointments and cast replacements. The irony of growth, life and renewal isn't lost on me as I stand among structures whose life seems to have vanished decades ago.

I think I need to spend more time walking around the grounds.

Your turn: The things this structure has seen. Please discuss.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gateway arch

Standing at the door
London, ON, October 2007 [Click to increase shoe size]

I like doors (see here and here), especially old ones that wear their years with weathered pride. As I walked through East London last week, I came across this door that begged to be remembered.

Problem was, its ultra-reflective window made my shoes (Adidas Gazelle...same as my middle name) kinda mandatory. I tried every possible angle and perspective to get rid of my offending feet. But in the end, I gave up and figured fate was telling me it was time for a self-portrait.

So here are my feet, reflected in an old door in the middle of a run-down street. I'm sure the drug addicts who watched me do the sidewalk two-step were mildly amused.

Your turn: Why do doors hold such appeal to us?

Quick update: Sorry for being so cryptic with the name reference. My middle name is Zvi. It's pronounced tz-VEE, and it's the Hebrew word for gazelle. Given the speed with which I move through life, I've long thought this name is highly appropriate for me. For more background on my crazy name, please click here. Thanks, Shane, for calling it out!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Colors and reflections

Dying in color
London, ON, October 2007 [Click to embiggen]

I went for a walk yesterday, one of those rare occasions when I had an hour to kill while our son was at a bar mitzvah lesson. We were just far enough away from home that it wasn't worth returning to the house in the interim. So I found a nearby park beside the Thames River (don't's barely a creek, but it's still pretty these days) and brought my camera along for some quiet introspection.

Every year around this time, I wonder how I'm going to find new ways to capture the color of the season. I hate cliche images and I hate repeating what's been done before. But there are only so many ways to shoot brightly colored leaves. Or not, apparently.

I was on my way back to pick him up when I caught a glimpse of this weird color on the far bank. There was a warm tone to the scene that made me stop and stare. I was thrilled when I got home and threw the picture onto my laptop that the tone seemed to have survived the trip through my camera.

The irony that this rich color is the result of leaves that are in the process of dying isn't lost on me.

Your turn: Quiet time to yourself and why it's so important. Please discuss.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


London, ON, October 2007 [Click to embiggen]

Arches are funny things. The keystone - the ornamental block at the top of the arch - gets all the credit for being the anchor, the most important piece, the big kahuna. Yet an arch is incapable of holding itself together unless every single block is precisely shaped and fitted.

The other blocks may all be anonymously similar and they lack fancy titles that set them apart, but each one fulfills a critical role in keeping the entire works from crashing.

Part of me wonders if there's a lesson in there for the rest of us.

Your turn: Unsung heroes. Please discuss.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Red light district

Mirrors and lights
London, ON, October 2007

Cars are all about fashion, it seems. Manufacturers knock themselves out trying to make their vehicles look as new as tomorrow. These days, they seem to be focusing their efforts on lights, turning them into flashy jewel-like accessories that can make an otherwise plain design look a little less so.

If a bit of bling works for people, why not cars, right?

Your turn: Ever looked closely at a light fixture, vehicular or otherwise? What did you see?

One more thing: I'm still exploring my monochrome view of the world, and have many more images from this series to share. But Blogger's having a little photo-uploading hissy fit tonight, so I'm posting this entry directly from drafts. We'll be back to pure b&w and sepia photography just as soon as the geek gremlins are banished.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Porches wear their age

English Street and Queens Avenue
London, ON, October 2007 [Click to embiggen]

I was back in the shadows of downtown London the other day. I was running errands, but thought I might have a minute here or there to grab a picture or two as I scooted between destinations.

Turns out I was right. My very evolved photographic strategy - hold camera in hand as I walk, take pictures of whatever interests me - paid off as I kept seeing textures that practically begged to be remembered.

As I took this image - shot from a corner, looking down a row of porches - I wondered if the owners of these homes ever looked at them through the soft frame of a lens. I hope that they do, because we all deserve to feel a twinge of something when we look back at our respective homes.

Your turn: What do you see as you peer down these empty verandas? What do you really see?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Caption This 40

Please name this photo [See below for details]
London, ON, October 2007

When our son had his green cast (click here and here for earlier photos/entries) replaced with an orange one, I thought we should remember the moment. The new cast is much lighter than the old one and can serve double duty as a runway marker at the airport. Unlike the casts of my youth, which were icky, heavy and (at least initially) white plaster, Zach's is made of a svelte, colorful fiberglass wrap. Of course, no one aspires to actually have a cast. But if you've got to have one, technology makes it a little less onerous these days.

But can you come up with a caption for this photo? Hope so...

Your turn: Click on the Comments link below and share a caption or seven. Zach's agreed to help me sift through the suggestions this week, and we'll jointly post the winner next week. So vote now, vote often, and have fun with it. New to Caption This? Click here for instructions.

About last week's image: A simple picture of a blue balloon prompted some incredibly funny suggestions. BreadBox took it with this winner: "Is it an innie? Or an outie? You be the judge!" I smiled for a while after reading it.

And since I'm really bad at picking just one, I wanted to share some other worthy mentions:
  • Gyrobo: "The Reproductive Cycle of the Common Balloon -- Part IV"
  • David: "Clara the face painting clown exhaled deeply into the large blue balloon, and then tied the knot, with herself inside! Quite a trick."
  • Susan Helene Gottfried: "Bellybuttons are people, too!"
  • Melissa: "Well, how long can you hold your breath?"
  • Shane: "Tijuana Breast Implant Surgery, 25 bucks. Cost of Implants, 50 cents. The expression of her soon-to-be-deflated ego, priceless."
  • Jessica Foster: "As he continued to travel over the tree tops, Winnie the Poo said, "Oh bother, perhaps this wasn't the best idea...."
  • Snaggle Tooth: "Any one got a pin?"
  • Sister AE: "A smurf belly-button, unretouched."
Have a good time with this week's Caption This. And thanks again for playing along!

One more thing: 60 years ago today, Chuck Yeager climbed into the X-1 and became the first person to break the sound barrier. Supersonic flight is one of those technological milestones that, like the invention of the integrated circuit, radio transmission and the internal combustion engine, is easy for us to overlook. But I can't help but think that moments like this, and the people with the brains and the guts to make them happen, change our world. And, by extension, us. Thanks, Mr. Yeager.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall flowers

Ready to bloom
London, ON, October 2007 [Click to enlarge]

It's been a while since I took a closer look at flowers. The first macro images I ever shot were floral, and it's a theme that I've come back to time and again over the years.

Now that my macro lens has been fixed, I find myself squinting at closeup objects a lot more often than I used to. It's good to be thinking small again.

Your turn: What do we see when we take the time to lean in?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore, Nobel Laureate

Like many folks, I wake up to the transistorized sound of a local radio station. We set the alarm about 20 minutes before we really need to get up, then hit the snooze button a couple of times until consciousness takes hold.

As I lay in my sleepy stupor this morning, I heard the newscaster's words float through the air: Al; Gore; Nobel; Peace; Prize.

I snapped to attention just as the guy made a nasty he-invented-the-Internet joke about him. If I had been more awake at the time, I might have thought about the newscaster's total lack of journalistic objectivity. But this is a has-been, small-market FM station, so it's not as if the quality bar was very high to begin with.

But enough about stupid old white guy radio people. Back to Mr. Gore. We can disagree with his politics, laugh at his near-comatose image and relegate his name to the biggest loser of all time bin for his 2000 election loss to Dubya. But there's more to this man than history seems to have assumed.

He has succeeded in bringing the issue of the environment, its future and our future to a mainstream audience. Where granola-chomping tree-huggers have repeatedly tried and failed to get the rest of us to pay attention, Mr. Gore has used his film, An Inconvenient Truth, as a platform for informed discussion. Astute poltico that he is, he long ago realized that zealotry wasn't the vehicle of choice for this kind of thing.

In some ways, he has already succeeded in changing the world by forcing us to view it in a different light. He's reframed the discussion, removing it from the grip of partisan politics and giving us hope that the planet isn't doomed to a cynically apocalyptic fate a la Futurama, that we have the ability to make things better before they become irreversibly worse.

He defines the concept of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish ideal of repairing our world. Pretty inspiring stuff from where I sit, and pretty worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. Mazel tov, Mr. Gore.

Your turn: What are you doing to repair our world?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bleak? Maybe not

Look up, waaay up
London, ON, August 2007

Things in our house have been somewhat off the chaotic scale in recent weeks (for more background, please read my wife's blog entry.) All sorts of stuff is swirling around us, and we seem to have little ability to control the progression or the outcome. It's a little unsettling, but I've got to believe that things will work themselves out soon enough.

In the meantime, I find myself looking for comfort wherever I can find it: walks with the kids and the dog, expeditions to the grocery store, quiet moments spent with a pen, a pad of paper and an idea. This is the kind of picture that reminds me that refuge from chaos can sometimes be found where we least expect it.

Wherever you are and whatever you're facing, I hope you look up and find something peaceful and/or otherwise memorable as well.

Your turn: What's your oasis?

One more thing: Yes, I'm in a monochrome mood these days (see this earlier entry. And this one. Oh yes, and this one, too.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Cracked

Yorkville and Avenue Road

Light from beyond
Toronto, ON, October 2007 [Click to enlarge]

The scene: Thursday, October 4, 6:01 p.m. I'm sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in downtown Toronto, on my way to a television interview. I'm quizzing myself on the talking points that I've researched, making sure that I'm as fully prepared as possible before the red light goes on. I keep one eye on the traffic that moves like molasses beyond my windshield and the other on the clock on the dashboard, calculating how much time I need to get there, park, and get inside. The GPS estimates of my ETA tell me I've got plenty of time to spare, but the retentive me still feels a little on edge because of the gridlock.

After the traffic light ahead goes through its third cycle, I realize I'm not going anywhere for a bit. I realize I'm as fluid on the topic as I'm going to be, and fretting any more isn't going to do me any good. So I look over at the empty passenger seat and see my camera sitting inside my backpack. I bring it along on day trips because you never know when you'll run into something neat.

The road ends at the intersection just ahead of me. Immediately beyond the corner stands a massive old building with an arched tunnel that leads to an inner courtyard. It looks like a genteel oasis in the middle of the crazy-busy city, something that I don't see every day. I grab my camera, rapidly scan the controls to ensure I'm sorta capable of exposing the scene correctly, and shoot as fast as I possibly can through the windshield and the knots of pedestrians who are wandering between me and the ethereally backlit scene just ahead.

Total elapsed time isn't more than 15 seconds. I replace the camera in the bag and scan around the car, looking for police officers who may be looking for scofflaws like me. The light's still red. I don't even know if the pictures are workable, but I figure my little surreptitious shoot was just enough to take the edge off of the moment and settle me into the right frame of mind. It's another one of those in-between moments that makes me glad that I view the world through my everpresent camera lens.

The light turns green, traffic miraculously starts to move and I quickly cover the remaining couple of kms before arriving at the studio with plenty of time to spare. The interview goes exceptionally well.

Your turn: The view out your car window. Please discuss.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dog gives comfort

I hope you feel better soon
London, ON, October 2007 [Click to enlarge]

Animals can be remarkably perceptive beings, and ours seems to be no exception. Frasier's been particularly affected by Zach's injury: Whenever he isn't bounding around the house, he hovers close to the wounded warrior, almost as if he's guarding him from further harm.

Although Zach's been worried about the dog bumping his leg, that concern has slowly eased as Frasier seems to have learned to give the bright orange cast a wide berth.

The other day, Frasier wandered into the living room and without warning bounced into the crook of Zach's arm as he lay on the couch. Zach had been having a particularly bad stretch: cramps, pain and a generally cruddy mood. The dog seemed to know that he needed a little TLC as he buried his head - a la Finnigan, for old Mr. Dressup fans - into him and nuzzled him until he nuzzled him back.

It was a quick, poignant moment in the life of a dog and one of his favorite people. It was a quick, poignant lesson in how a pet can weasel his way into our lives in ways we could never have projected when we first brought him home.

As we approach the four-week mark since this happened, the father in me continues to feel frustrated that I can't simply fix this. We're busy with preparations for his upcoming bar mitzvah while the phone continues to bring challenging news of sick parents and in-laws from back home. Our 12-year-old son consequently finds himself with a lot of weight on his shoulders, yet a 20-pound dog found a way to divert his attention, even if just for a moment.

It was enough to make me believe that his silver lining is just around the corner. Perhaps.

Your turn: An animal's sixth sense. Please discuss.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Caption This 39

Please caption this image [See below for details]
London, ON, September 2007 [Click to embiggen]

My macro lens has found its way back home after spending a couple of months having its electronic innards replaced under warranty by the loving technicians at Nikon Canada. I didn't realize how much I missed getting up close and personal with the ordinary things that cross my everyday path until I clicked the lens back into its rightful place and went back to work. It felt good.

So expect the proportion of abstract photos to increase in the days and weeks to come. I'll apologize in advance: life's kinds stressful, and camera time is proving to be a welcome catharsis.

Your turn: Come up with a witty caption for this image. Share it in a comment. Share as many as you can come up with. I'll announce the winner next week. I'll be thankful for significantly longer. Instruction, such as they are, are here.

About last week's image This is window in my in-laws' living room as reflected by the neo-modern mirror that hangs on the wall. I liked the geometry and light, and hope you do, too.

Carli penned this week's winner: "Venetian Blinded By the Light." Little did she know that Manfred Mann's eponymous tune was an anthem of my childhood. Little did you know that today's her birthday. Please visit her and congratulate her.

Honorable mentions go to a bunch of very creative folks:
  • Heidi: "He Blinded Me With Science!" (I'm also a huge Thomas Dolby fan.)
  • Nikki-Ann: "How a window blind looks when you're blind drunk!"
  • Linda: "This what life looks like when you've lived with blinders on"
  • Judy: "Benjamin knew immediately that his Lasik eye surgery had not been successful!
  • BreadBox: "Venetian blind spots"
Thanks again for playing along. Have fun...and no wagering.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stepping out of the surf

Reflective gull
Grand Bend, Ontario, September 2007 [Click to embiggen]

My bird obsession returns. As the cold weather approaches, I suspect I'll have fewer opportunities to shoot pictures of things that fly. So as I walked off the beach for the last time on Labor Day weekend, I turned back and saw this reflective shot.

Your turn:
The things we miss over the winter. Please discuss.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Night Lights

Ready to turn night into day
London, Ontario, June 2007

[Click to embiggen]

I don't watch a lot of television. Although I appreciate great programming as much as the next person, I don't believe in rearranging my life so that I can be in front of the TV at a given time. It just isn't that important to me.

I know I could always tape or DVR/PVR my favorite shows. But that demands investment that's rarely justified by the shows I'd be saving. I'd rather keep the squawking box off and enjoy peace and quiet in the house. The voices of our kids, after all, won't be echoing off these walls forever.

But once in a very long while, I find myself thinking about a show. The rare production that piques my curiosity is incredibly well written, beautifully acted, poignantly directed and artfully photographed. When you put all the pieces together, it is a production that burrows its way into my subconscious and stays there long after I've finished watching. The characters are real to me, with stories that seem to matter, that I want to follow. I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened in my lifetime.

That number went up by one last year with the premiere of Friday Night Lights. I had no intention of watching it. I'm not a big football fan (click here for background). I thought it would be about football. I happened to be home the night it first aired, and I happened to be flipping channels on my way to the local weather forecast when I caught the opening scene. I stopped in my tracks and barely breathed for much of the next hour. Television that takes your breath away: who would have thought?

Typical of a critically acclaimed show that demands a level of involvement and commitment from its viewers that's slightly deeper than that required of, say, Survivor or Deal or No Deal, ratings were weak. The show teetered on the edge of survival before NBC gave it the green light for its second season. That season starts tonight, and I'll be watching. I hope others with an interest in maintaining the state of the television art will consider doing the same.

Your turn: Television that really matters. Please discuss.

About this image: Taken at London's TD Waterhouse Stadium. It was a cold, windy, gray day when I was there for our daughter's track meet. The lights weren't needed in the middle of the afternoon, but the towers still imposed their presence on the place.

One more thing: I wrote a followup to this entry, dated January 29, 2008. Please click here to read it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sign of the times

Time sensitive
Toronto, ON, September 2007

So much of modern life is governed by time. From the micro - tomorrow morning, we'll wake up, go to work/school, return home, have dinner and tuck in on a predictable schedule - to the macro - tomorrow marks 50 years since Sputnik's launch, for example - we're almost constantly measuring something against some sort of time-based metric.

It enough to make me a little tired as I try to absorb it all. Most days, I wish I could just take the watch off and walk away from time, if only for a little while.

Your turn: Are we too addicted to time? Why/why not?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A quick September media roundup

My name's been popping up in some interesting places lately. Here's a rundown of some of the notable results of interviews I've given over the past month or so:
Your turn: Now that I see all of this activity in one spot, I realize it's been a busy month. Do you think Apple should send me an iPhone?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Resting by the water's edge

Laval, Quebec, August 2007 [Click to embiggen]

You know how it is when you visit extended family: spend enough time under the same roof and eventually even the Dalai Lama himself would blow his top. I love them all dearly, but even I need to get away, alone, every once in a while.

So I took a walk beside the water and tried to find scenes that brought me peace. I hope this brings you peace, too.

Your turn: Does it? Why?

One more thing: Happy new month!