Monday, September 16, 2019

When Snowbirds fly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Watching airplanes in the sky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Scene from a (wet) parking lot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Another year. Another reason to celebrate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

22 trips around the sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suitcase on church steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9/11 + 5 + 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The mesmerizing blue pattern

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

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

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

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

That we have wonder at all.

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

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

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

Let's start something, shall we?

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

Monday, September 09, 2019

Ghost boats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Where I paws in a hotel room

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

Anything for a smile, after all. Anything.

#LiveLaughLevy #dryden #ontario #family #everything

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Getting ready for a wedding

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

#moretocome #LiveLaughLevy #family #everything

Monday, September 02, 2019

Remember the colorful (fallen) leaf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember the fallen (leaf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 01, 2019

The ignored giants in our midst

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Chasing sunsets with our daughter

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

Bummer, no?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Step gingerly

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

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

There, now I feel better.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 29, 2019

It's Spuds MacKenzie!

Faces in the roots
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I call this one Potatohenge.

What would YOU name it?

And why do I keep shooting stuff like this in grocery stores?

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Getting reflective by the roadside

Mirrored moment
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I commute by bike for a whole lot of reasons, including my health (improving it), traffic (avoiding it), finances (I'm a bit frugal), and the environment (I feel guilty burning fossilized dinosaurs when I have access to cleaner alternatives).

But the one reason that stands out above all others is mental. It's good for my brain to fully unplug for however long it takes me to pedal to and from the office. When I ride, notifications aren't sliding into view, my inboxes don't ping, and calls go directly to voicemail. I feel better about life. About myself.

It's rather freeing to get off the interrupt-driven merry-go-round, even if it's only for an hour or so. That's more than enough time to recharge. Or allow my mind to dig into the deep thoughts that just can't be dug into when I'm more plugged in. Or simply do nothing more than enjoy the view.

As you can see from the photo, I was a little reflective on today's ride home. And while I was waiting for an overly long traffic light to turn green, decided a slightly off-centred view of Hyde Park Road was called for.

I didn't need a reason, but it felt like the right way to remember a moment I wish had lasted longer.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bike #bicycle #bikesofinstagram #cycle #cyclist #cycling #forever #perspective #cyclingislife #wheel #wheels #round #mirror #reflective #random #abstract #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The colors we find in the most unexpected places

Watch where you step
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
So I'm wandering through a back alley off of London's beleaguered Dundas Street, carefully dodging used needles and discarded condoms littering the filthy, crumbling asphalt below, when I come across a colorful patch of graffiti. Wait, who am I kidding? The entire wall is covered with it.

This is downtown London, all gritty and sad and dangerous. Why I come here I don't really know. One wrong step and I'm risking hepatitis. Or worse. One wrong step and I might meet the wrong person in the wrong place. There's nothing remotely safe or smart about being here, yet here I am.

Call it curiosity. Call it a need to understand why this part of the city is so challenged. Why it's been as bad as it's been for so long. Why it seems to be getting worse by the day. Tent cities popping up by the river, in parks, and in the shadows of gleaming glass buildings. Individuals suffering from addiction and mental health issues roaming the streets. Long-term businesses finally giving up and pulling out of the core for good. The decline is palpable.

There are never any easy answers when it comes to structural, fundamental problems like this, and I don't expect to find any on this particular walk. For now, a sliver of light, a shot of unexpected color, and even a buried image in a place that usually has no such inspiration will have to do.

Maybe tomorrow the view and the reality will be different. Nah. Who am I kidding?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #downtown #urban #city #dundas #street #photography #streetphotography #art #color #alley #poverty #drugs #mental #health #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Monday, August 26, 2019

Silos of history

Someone climbed this
Strathroy, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Tucked next to a railroad crossing in Strathroy, a small town west of London, a trio of silos dominates the skyline and casts a comforting shadow over the edge-of-downtown streets beside it.

Because the world never stops changing, it's been a while since this facility was used for its original purpose. It's now home to a craft brewery, one of many popping up throughout southern Ontario to feed consumers' exploding interest in better beer and better community.

To the owners' credit, they've retained virtually all the architecture that made this place special in the first place. And as I stand at the base and look skyward, I think of the now-vanished people who once worked here, and how at least one of them had to climb the ladder you see here.

No external cage. Or grips. Or safety equipment of any kind. Just bare, rusting metal and a stomach made of iron.

I guess life really was different back then. And so were the people who lived - and worked - it.

Before I turn around and head home, I silently wish I could have met them. And maybe had a friendly chat over a mug or two.

#ldnont #london #strathroy #brewing #company #ontario #canada #urban #street #photography #buildings #architecture #architectureporn #architecturephotography #monochrome #beer #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Racing the weather far from home

Storm's coming
Just east of the Ontario-Quebec border
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Riviere-Beaudette, Quebec. I've just crossed the border from Ontario and still have an hour to go before my final stop in Montreal. I've been driving alone, fighting traffic and weather for much of the day. My wife waits at the other end, where she's been all week, doing the things that kids must do after their parents pass on.

The shelf cloud you see here has been growing in the periphery of my left eye for a while, and it becomes more ominous by the second. It isn't frightening, though. It's exciting. A reminder from the universe that we're surrounded by forces much more powerful than we'll ever be, and our only choice is to ride them out.

So I pull over at a highway rest stop because it isn't everyday you get to witness nature do its thing on such a massive scale. Or maybe I just wanted to feel humbled. Whatever.

After shooting across Highway 20 to the bewilderment of parked truckers beside the onramp, I get back in the car and continue on my way. Soon enough, the shelf cloud turns the overhead sky black before unleashing a relentless fury of wind, water, and lightning on the tiny humans below

It makes for an entertaining drive into the city, with both hands firmly on the wheel as I can literally feel the car's electronic nannies do their thing to keep me between the puddle-soaked lines.

But I smile the whole way in. Because journeys are meant to be memorable, and a little meteorological adventure makes us all feel that much more alive.

Hopefully I'll see another shelf cloud tomorrow. Hopefully I'll never run out of journeys where my best friend is waiting for me at the end of a stormy, rain-slicked road.

#montreal #quebec #ontario #canada #weather #wx #storm #landscape #life #highway #travel #photography #travelphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 24, 2019

When dogs don't sleep

Waking the neighborhood
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Calli the Wonderschnauzer's perspectives on time tend to differ from mine rather significantly. For example, she's usually ready to explore the neighborhood at 6:03 a.m., whereas I am decidedly not.

Not that my preferences matter, anyway, because as you can see here, we're following her lead. But as I've said many times before, I'm thankful to have an excuse to get out there at all. Some blessings come wrapped in a contrarian wrapper.

Left to my own devices, I'd probably sleep through the spectacle of this part of the planet coming alive for the day.

But I'd miss the hushed quiet of a normally non-stop suburb. I'd miss the stillness in the air, and the softness of the early morning light. I'd miss crossing paths with the same cast of early-risers, like Lincoln the lab (who Calli seems to like) and Louie the terrier (who she certainly hates.) I'd miss one-sided conversations where I solve the mysteries of the universe as I plan out the day that will be. I'd miss quiet moments on the sidewalk, like the one you see here, where we simply stop and take it in.

On weekends, I can usually tuck back into bed when we return, and she'll happily curl up on/in my legs. But even if I can't, an extra mug or three of coffee or tea should be enough to offset the inevitable sleep deficit.

Some too-early wakeups are worth the fatigue. Hanging out with this little one always is.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #photography #Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #dog #puppy #schnauzerlife #schnauzermini #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Friday, August 23, 2019

Big bug on an office door

Hold on
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times.

Like in the deepest corner of the handle on the door leading to the rooftop patio at the office. In the rush to get to the next meeting, it would be easy to overlook the interloper here, easy to miss a pretty spectacular example of nature, stopping for a quick rest before continuing the journey.

I didn't necessarily need to take this shot. And doing so meant I had to hustle a little faster to get to my next scheduled meeting. But it was anyone's guess how long he/she (your guess is as good as mine) would be here. You know how it is: Iron, strike, hot, repeat.

Wherever you are, as the week that was eases into the weekend that will be, I hope you'll allow yourself to follow the tiny inspirational moments that present themselves to you, often in ways that would be easily missed if you weren't focusing.

Take the time, and devote the energy. Because you never know when one of these beauties will land here again. Or if.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bug #bugs #insect #grasshopper #ithink #nature #naturephotography #macro #perspective #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Rubber met (dirty) road

Traction
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is a closeup view of my bicycle's rear tire after a recent ride through some muddy gravel. So why would I shoot something like this? Good question.

Maybe it's the basic aesthetics of cycling. A bike is, at its core, a pretty simple machine that can accomplish some pretty magical things. It converts a relatively small amount of energy into a relatively quick means of moving across the planet. It takes you places you otherwise wouldn't be able to get to. It opens up opportunities to people who couldn't afford anything else.

And even if you could afford anything else, it still improves your quality of life. Because a day with a bike ride in it is better than a day without.

The engineering that makes all this life-changing stuff possible is, frankly, neat-looking. A few tubes, artfully welded together. Some sweet anodized cranks and hubs, sculpted to near-perfection. A spoked wheel whose lightweight construction barely telegraphs just how tough it is.

I've ridden bikes for much of my life, and I've always been thankful for the privilege of doing so. After my stroke, I remember lying there, paralyzed, worried I'd never be able to get on a bike again, let alone make it fly. So every time I ride now, I pause before pushing off, thankful that I still can. I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost that ability again.

This picture reminds me that sometimes the path we follow isn't as neat or as linear as we'd like. Sometimes it's rough. Or uncomfortable. Or dirty. Or dangerous. Or all of the above. And sometimes it leaves a mark on the machine. Or on the rider. A reminder of where we've been and what we experienced along the way.

And when it does, our choices are just as simple as the engineering that makes all of this possible. We can choose to park it. To stay home. To avoid the uncertainty. Or we can get back on and ride.

You already know which way I lean.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bike #bicycle #tire #tread #bikesofinstagram #cycle #cyclist #cycling #forever #perspective #cyclingislife #wheel #wheels #specialized #pink #color #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

No more games

Dundas Street West and Manning Avenue
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
On the northwest corner of Toronto's Dundas Street West and Manning Avenue, a shuttered store that once sold video games stands, ignored.

The faded, shattered sign says it once sold Nintendo, PS3, and Atari games, so I'm guessing it's been a while since any wide-eyed kid walked through the retro diagonal-set door with a fist full of cash and dreams of being the next Mario Kart champion.

I find it fascinating how, in a city of millions, countless ghost businesses can so litter the landscape. In another era, brick-and-mortar retail was something of a gateway to a better life for some. But today, e-commerce is rewriting the rules of retail, and stores built on the promise of if-you-build-it-they-will-come are having their lunch eaten by unseen digital enemies.

There's no arguing with the convenience and cost-effectiveness of shop-by-touchscreen, But there's also no ignoring what we've lost along the way. That ability to walk into a store and shoot the breeze with informed, passionate employees who play the games and willingly share their advice. The feeling of spontaneous, informal community in a tattered-at-the-edges store, a temporary refuge from the drudgery of elementary school. Or a Canadian winter. Or a dark day at the office. Or a dark day, period.

Online shopping offers no such experience. The passionate practitioners of a craft - games, movies, shoes, whatever - have, like the stores that employed them, virtually disappeared. In their place are algorithms and suggestion engines, snappy graphics and accelerated online checkout. And free shipping, of course.

It's all so convenient. But we fool ourselves into believing there isn't some kind of additional price to be paid. Both by all of us who might have shopped here, and by the kind souls who worked here and guided us on our way, whatever it was that we were looking for.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #manning #streetphotography #night #photography #monochrome #bw #store #retail #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Defiant life in an abandoned parking lot

Old growth. New growth.
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Humans are fascinating. We pave over our world. Reshape it. Dominate it. Make it subservient to our every whim.

In doing so, we convince ourselves that what we do here is the last word. That as soon as we build that street/highway/building/whatever, we've once and for all determined what that sliver of the planet will look like. Forever.

Um, sure.

Life has a funny way of making us look like fools. Of slowly, steadily, inevitably taking our arrogance and rewriting the story we thought we were writing for ourselves. Of gently proving us wrong.

Like in this parking lot in London's re-emerging East Dundas neighborhood.

This was once the very heart of London's manufacturing district. They made cereal to the right of this photo, and cookies behind it. It's been years since the last workers last clocked out. The factories stood empty for years before developers moved back in. The sounds of construction now echo off the massive faces of brick and concrete, promising a better future for a neighborhood that clearly deserves it.

But in the shadows of all this renewal sits a massive stretch of asphalt, forgotten, baking in the mid-summer sun. Blink hard enough and it's easy to see the trucks that once powered London's make-it-here reputation, easy to hear the workers who devoted their entire working lives to the companies that offered them and their families a decent wage and lifestyle. There's nothing of the sort here now.

But there is life. Maybe not the kind that once filled the air with the overwhelming sights and sounds of industrial might. But these weeds powering their way through the cracked pavement serve as a reminder that we aren't quite as dominant as we might have once thought.

We may yet reshape this neighborhood, and I can't wait to see the result. But even this will be temporary, as forces more powerful than us all will eventually reclaim all we have built.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #life #defiant #weeds #random #urban #downtown #dundas #street #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, August 19, 2019

Homelessness in the light of the 7-Eleven

Lost in the big city
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This isn't quite the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, but part of me thinks it could be.

A 7-Eleven store is always a bit of a crossroads of humanity, but never more so than late at night. As the blindingly white fluorescent light spills like an oasis into the surrounding parking lot, a varied cast of characters comes and goes, each of them writing a chapter in real-time in a story that never seems to end.

I've already written in an earlier post about the middle-aged woman in the flowery dress who left her dog alone outside, so we know that one had something of a happy ending when the little pup was still there upon her return. But on this night, hers wasn't the only story playing out here.

You can just see the man in the fedora near frame-centre as he returns to his shopping cart parked under the Gatorade sign. He's been shuffling back and forth outside the front of the store for at least 15 minutes, carefully loading up and securing all his worldly possessions before walking away again in search of something else to forage.

When a posse of young kids in a brand-new Jeep Wrangler pulls up, he quickly disappears into the shadows before re-emerging after they enter the store. For some odd reason, I ponder how much the candy-apple-red Jeep must have cost, and how much this one man would need to feel secure.

Soon enough, the overly loud kids return to the Jeep and peel out of the parking lot, booming, forgettable music competing with the uniformly confident voices of young entitlement.

As silence slowly returns to the grit-covered parking lot, the fedora-wearing man returns to his cart and slowly begins pushing it away from the door before he disappears for good behind the building. I can still hear the squeak of the wheels long after he fades from view.

Haves. Have-nots. They all make their way here, eventually. Where they end up afterward is anyone's guess. That's the deal with crossroads like these.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #streetphotography #night #photography #7eleven #convenience #store #retail #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Us + 35

Two halves of a greater whole
Laval, QC
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I remember our first date like it was yesterday.

Except it most certainly wasn't yesterday. It was 35 years ago. August 17, 1984. We went to a pizza restaurant in Montreal, Tasty Food, and I remember wishing it would never end.

We talked a lot that evening, so much so that to this day I'm not sure how we found time to actually finish the pizza. It's a problem that persists to this day: I could talk to her forever.

Wait, that's not a problem. Except when you're hungry. And even then...

The sheer number makes me feel a little old, but that's perfectly fine when you cherish time as much as she does. And as you can tell from the photo, time has been kind to her. I stared at her a lot that night. Still do. I wish I had forever to look, too.

Just under eight years after sharing that magical pizza in that magical place on that magical night, we got married, and July 5 became our official-official anniversary.

But like a building built on a strong foundation, construction of any good marriage begins long before rings are exchanged and bouquets are tossed. Every other date, every milestone, every moment that came afterward, owes its existence to that first moment when we realized we weren't just having a pizza.

So August 17th sticks with us. Because it never hurts to remember where it all began, and what it felt like when the universe decided it was time our paths not only crossed, but joined.

And what DID it feel like that night? Flutters in my stomach. First time I'd ever felt them.

I still get them when I see her.

#laval #chomedey #quebec #canada #throwback #anniversary #love #loveher #limitlessly #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Late nights by an empty intersection

Cobalt and glass on the corner
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There's nothing to see here.

Nobody stops to look at an intersection that looks and feels like so many other in this city of millions. It's ordinary and time worn. It would be forgettable, except that would imply someone - anyone - took the time to pay attention in the first place.

On this night, no one did.

But hang around long enough for your eyes to adjust to the nighttime murk, and subtle stories seem to slowly emerge. A family-owned glass and mirror store that reflects an almost-lost form of retail. A mid-aughts Chevy Cobalt that someone clearly cares about. A graffiti tag that suggests the exact opposite.

Cities like this are packed full of places like this, each one an assembly of seemingly random examples of people just trying to get by. Business owners trying to make a living. A hard-working kid trying to get around in something akin to style. Another kid simply trying to be heard.

The longer I stand across the way and peer into this ordinary space beside a busy road where no one stops to look, the more I realize how wrong my first impression was.

There's so much to see here. If only we allow ourselves the time to see it.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #manning #streetphotography #night #photography #monochrome #bw #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, August 16, 2019

Of trains, rainbows, and hope for a better future

I am deeply honored that @viarailcanada chose to share my photo of the #ldnont station in their feed.

Even better, it's in support of two things that matter to me: My hometown of #montreal and #pride.

Because inclusiveness touches and benefits each and every one of us, and we must all speak in a collective voice so that we may strengthen the community values that underpin lives well lived.

May we always celebrate the full spectrum of colors and experiences that make life such a rich pageant. May we always grow by sharing our experiences with others.

Joyeux #PrideMTL!

#yul #quebec #yxu #london #ontario #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #throwback #rainbow #diversity #ally

Related: Original post on Instagram

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How much is that doggie outside the 7-Eleven?

Waiting for mom to return
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm not one to judge, but dog-owning Carmi saw this late-night scene in the fluorescent-pooled-light beside a run-down 7-Eleven store in Toronto and cringed a little. Okay, a lot.

I don't have enough trust in my fellow humans that my pup would still be there upon my return. I didn't trust strangers when I was a kid and rode my bike to the store, and I don't trust them now. If my dog is with me, she'll come inside, just as I brought my bike with me way back when. Someone from the store doesn't want my dog or bike - or oversized sombrero - inside? Tough. I'll go elsewhere.

Maybe I'm cynical, but people can suck. Not all people, and not all the time. But enough of them, enough of the time that it's always a possibility that whatever it is you've left outside on its own won't be there when you finish buying that extra-large blueberry squishy you probably shouldn't have had in the first place.

This story thankfully has a happy ending. I stared at this sweet dog from afar until momma came back outside, untied him (her? I can never tell) and walked off into the night.

But that was this time. And as much as I'd never have the guts to walk up to a complete stranger and suggest they might want to rethink their canine security strategy, I fear next time - or some other time - she won't be so lucky. When I got home, I hugged our puppy a little longer than usual.

At least I got a picture out of this experience.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #streetphotography #night #photography #dog #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogstagram #7eleven #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, August 12, 2019

The architectural seat of power

Simple, yet not
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Toronto's city hall rocks.

Sure, it serves as the centre of power for Canada's largest city, but it's been designed in such a way that the citizens touched by what goes on here are always welcome.

The giant public square that surrounds it comes alive with activity every day, in any season. Festivals and concerts in summer. Skating in winter. Clambering on and in the iconic Toronto sign year-round, mixed in with a nosh from a nearby food truck. I could hang here for days.

It's so well programmed that you don't even have to be a Torontonian to appreciate the vibrancy of effective community spaces like this one. Other cities might want to take note.

So, of course, the photo I choose to share has none of these things in it. Because I'm weird that way.

My silliness aside, sometimes you've just got to go with the simple shot built from lines, curves, textures, and a little bit of color served up by Mother Nature.

Because the power of design is rarely more evident than when it's applied to the structures where democracy itself comes alive.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #monochrome #concrete #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #curves #city #hall #blue #sky #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Jumbled skyline

Urban (glass) jungle
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
When viewed in isolation, there's not a whole lot about a glass-clad box of a building that makes it worthy of little more than a passing glance.

All that changes when you view a bunch of them, all kind of squished together by the delightful optical properties of a long lens.

The straight lines from one seem to reach out to the straight lines from the others. The mirrored surfaces of each building take on the reflected shapes and tones of the others. The individual forms become part of a larger, connected community.

Your eyes wander the urban jungle scene, looking for details that tell the story of a neighborhood defined by the overwhelming scale of downtown development. This isn't a place where subtlety seems to have much place.

But stare into the mess for a bit and minor details seem to bubble into view. A rooftop deck where neighbors gather to take in the view. A hint of a shadow from one building to another. The riot of colors, shapes, and reflection shifting starkly from one to the next.

The trick isn't necessarily to find all these things and call it done. This isn't a contest, after all. Simply standing by the window and taking the time to take it all in - that's the real goal.

Which begs the question of whether we're taking enough time to look. And the second one, of whether we're planning to spend more time beside windows just like this one.

Because no matter where we may happen to find ourselves, we only get so many opportunities to take in the view, so many opportunities to find the little details and joys amid the sometimes overwhelming neighborhoods that surround us. They're out there, but only if we allow ourselves to look.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #concrete #glass #reflective #mirror #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Dead store in a dead mall

King of what?
Strathroy, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Not all architecture is celebrated. Or memorable. Some of it just is. Like this nearly abandoned strip mall that sits, baking in the sun beside a scruffed-at-the-edges downtown street, waiting for visitors who will likely never arrive.

As the afternoon settles into early evening in this quiet town nestled among the bucolic farmlands west of London, a single car detours through the otherwise empty parking lot facing the Bargain King. I'm guessing the sight of a camera-slinging stranger (that would be me) peering through the darkened glass doorway is arousing suspicion among the locals.

Never mind, though, as the old Dodge with the primer-painted front end and homemade exhaust just as quickly drives off, leaving silence once more behind.

I'd like to imagine that this mall was once a bustling place, where people came to not only buy the things they needed, but also connect to their neighbors. Because shopping isn't - and never was - just about buying stuff.

Yet the faded sign betrays a sadder reality of a store that was likely bleached of its energy long before the sun did its thing. As I stand there, I wish I could will this place back to life, but I don't think it had much life to begin with.

Still, there's a resonance to this spot, a reminder that everything, however plain and forgettable, has its role, its place. While most of us might ignore it on our way to the nearby grocery store, or in the rush to get to or from the office, it still anchors life in a place where things seem to happen a little more slowly.

And that's a good thing. Because not everything has to be immediate. Not everything has to be gleaming perfection. And whoever the Bargain King is, or was, he would doubtless agree.

#ldnont #london #strathroy #ontario #canada #urban #front #street #photography #kenwick #mall #retail #buildings #architecture #architectureporn #ruinporn #architecturephotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, August 09, 2019

Looking back on an eventful trip

On this day six years ago, I took my first trip outside the house after my stroke. And for reasons that still elude me, I thought it would be a good idea to take a selfie in the passenger-side mirror.

I still remember feeling like I had been hit by a truck, still remember my somewhat compromised speech, which had not yet come fully back, still remember the feeling of being damaged, and nowhere near whole. I cringe at the sight and the thought of that particular chapter, but I'm glad I still had the wherewithal to pull out my phone - BlackBerry for the win! - and take the shot.

It's funny how you remember certain things. They may not be the best memories, but they serve as reminders of how far you've come, and how lucky you are.

Related Facebook entries:
Aug 09, 2019
Aug 09, 2013 (4 days post-stroke)

Curvy building against a blue sky

Iconic
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
You've got to admire someone who has the guts to swim against the current, to defy conventional wisdom, to strike out on a unique path.

Like whoever developed, designed, and engineered this building (Toronto's L Tower). It probably would have been easier to build a giant rectangle in the sky. Likely a lot cheaper, too. Maybe even faster.

But would it be as memorable? Or special? Would it prompt spontaneous discussion on the street? Or make kids smile as they turn their curious eyes to the sky? Would it make the area around it better in some way?

Probably not. Because buildings that follow the crowd are doomed to get lost in it. Which is why I keep coming back to this one, a structure that will never follow any other. And never get lost in the crowd. Because a complex-curved facade invites moments of whimsy in ways no ordinary building can.

And as I stand a few kilometres away and train my long lens on this unique building backstopped against a perfectly blue sky, I wonder where else spontaneous whimsy can be found, and whether we're all doing enough to find it.

#toronto #ontario #canada #photography #reflective #mirror #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #curves #blue #sky #weather #wx #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related: Before and after days (January 2019)