Sunday, November 10, 2019

Staring into the downtown abyss

The face in the stone
London, ON
October 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Wandering into an alleyway off of downtown's beleaguered Dundas Street in pitch black night in search of a photo or four would usually be inadvisable.

Who am I kidding? It always is. Even in daytime, these filthy corners of an already sketchy part of town are crawling with danger. Turn off the lights and it all slides from bad to worse. I wouldn't want my kids here alone, so how does that explain my presence?

It can't. And this isn't one of my best decisions. But the texture of the wall, lit by a single flickering light from above, attracts me like a moth to a flame. I tell myself I'm only standing at the entranceway, that there's no one else around, that I'll shoot fast and then be on my way.

The excuses of the photographer: I've made them all before.

I get away with it this time. I get the shot I want - can you see the hidden image? - then I move on. No one jumps out of the darkness. This time.

I smile to myself, not because I got away with something a little edgy, but because I saw something I would have otherwise missed and I learned a thing or two about shooting spontaneous street scenes in the dark.

My comfort zone may be safe spots in daytime, but roaming beyond the usual often opens our eyes to the things we can't see.

It'll never be perfectly safe to come here at night. But who ever said life was perfectly safe to begin with? I'd hate to think what we'd miss if we always self-selected the no option, simply because we were afraid to venture into the darkness.

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