Friday, July 23, 2021

Bright lights among the stalks

Colors in the late afternoon sun
London, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Lights on for safety, even when the sun is up.

I’m under no illusions that bright flashing LED lights front and rear will magically protect me from cars passing so closely at triple-digit speeds that I can feel the air pressure as they approach.

But in a world where even little things could make just enough of a difference between a near-miss and a really bad day, I figure it’s worth a shot.

So whenever I hit the road, I’m lit up like a Christmas tree, I use a mirror, I dingle my bell, and I wear a helmet and bright-coloured clothes.

Again, no guarantee, but it makes me feel better. Which is why I pedal to places like this in the first place.

#london #ontario #canada #farm #corn #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #orange #devinci #hatchet #gravelbike #wonderland #road #abstract #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

One last flash of light

Reaching across the waves
Grand Bend, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The sun reaches out one last time before disappearing for good below the waves.

But not to worry, as she'll return tomorrow to cast her light upon the waters - and on us.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #sun #sunset #summer #nature #waves #water #landscape #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 22, 2021

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - OnThatEricAlper

Continuing our ongoing theme of finding reads with a happier tone, I offer this gem, a profile piece on Eric Alper - aka That Eric Alper. Point of pride: he's Canadian, and his love of all things music and of the music industry in general has allowed him to build a significant global brand.

He's figured out the Twitter thing, using the platform to create engagement around his beloved industry and the artists who create the magic both in and between our ears.

I was tickled when I saw this piece in Billboard, and I suspect you will be, as well, when you read it.

Enjoy.

By Zach Schonfeld
Billboard
June 28, 2021

Smoky sun redux

Smudged
London, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The smoke from the wildfires on the other side of the province no longer hangs over #ldnont.

But that's only because a cold front moved through the region. The fires themselves still burn far away. The planet isn't any better off than it was the moment I took this photo.

For the record, London's city council declared a climate emergency 23 months ago. As far as I can tell, plans to widen one of the city's main north-south arterial corridors - Wonderland Road - from four lanes to six remain on the books. It will likely be the most expensive roadworks project in the city's history. Some emergency.

Anyway, I offloaded the photos off my Nikon, and this is what the sun looked like before thunderstorms cleared the air. So the sun no longer looks like this. From here, anyway. It's a different story elsewhere.

But the traffic engineers say we'll be able to get home 90 seconds faster once the road is widened.

In our cars.

Some emergency.

I'll keep the camera close by, because I suspect smokey skies - and far worse - will be a normal thing going forward.

These are photos I wish I never had to take. Yet I feel I have to.

#london #ontario #canada #sunset #blood #red #sky #fire #clouds #light #pollution #climatechange #landscape #landscapephotography #nature #naturephotography #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

10 years after Shuttle

What once was
Merritt Island, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Space Shuttle Atlantis landed for the final time 10 years ago today.

Her flight marked the end of the 30-year shuttle program, and the beginning of a nine-year drought before American astronauts would once again reach orbit aboard an American vehicle.

We caught up with her 18 months ago at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and I came [this] close to never wanting to leave the place.

There were so many reasons why the shuttle program had to end - its glaring safety issues and enormous cost prime among them - but standing in the hushed hall where she now rests, it was easy to see why these vehicles were such wonders of their time, and why so many of the technologies we take for granted today can trace their roots to this miraculous-yet-star-crossed program.

We'll never again witness the sheer spectacle of a shuttle launch, or the bonkers experience of a dead stick return to the Shuttle Landing Facility.

But just a few miles away from where I took this shot, next-generation rockets now launch people to the heavens. And some of them return safely to landing pads nearby, putting on their own kind of bonkers display in the process. Eventually, new winged craft will glide to landings on the SLF. Meanwhile, entirely new megarockets like NASA's Space Launch System and SpaceX's Super Heavy/Starship take their first tentative steps toward destinations Atlantis could have only dreamed of.

I remember the words of launch commentator George Diller when Atlantis launched for the final time: "...on the shoulders of the space shuttle, America will continue the dream."

It's taken a few years of dreaming, but we now reap the rewards of everything the shuttles and the thousands of dedicated people who flew and cared for them planted all those years ago.

Because some dreams take longer to come true than others. But the wait is always worth it.

#kennedy #space #center #ksc #kennedyspacecenter #florida #fla #throwback #spaceshuttle #shuttle #atlantis #ov104 #sts135 #sts #rocket #science #aviation #avgeek #spaceflight #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #lifeinthemargins #family #everything 

Related:
Gear down and locked, March 26, 2021
Atlantis in the abstract, October 31, 2020
Crew-1 takes flight, November 15, 2020
Old orbiter. New code. February 16, 2020
Rocket science, up close, January 27, 2020
The Shuttle Era ends, July 21, 2011
Shuttle era + 25, April 2006

NASA Resources:



The final waves of the day

The softest water of all
Grand Bend, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Frothy.

I just like saying the word.

Say it with me: frothy.

And they say language isn't magical.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ldnont #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #sun #sunset #summer #landscape #landscapephotography #nature #naturephotography #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

On writer vs. writing

"Don’t be ‘a writer’.
Be writing."

 

Napping Schnu

And dream of sheep
London, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Just once, I wish I could see what's going on in her head, see what she's dreaming of.

I'd like to imagine it's a happy place, free of the kinds of everyday worries that seem to dog (sorry) the humans around her.

I'd like to imagine she dreams as happily about us as we dream about her.

Such is life when you're a sleeping dog in the middle of a family who loves you to the moon and back.

Such is the kind of life we wish everyone - animal, human, or other - could claim as their own.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #sleeping #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:
Dogs > bean counters, February 2021
Dog under the radar, November 2020
The joy of sleep, July 2020
One tired puppy, March 2020

Monday, July 19, 2021

A picture of a picture of a smoky sun

Those aren't clouds
London, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This is what the sun looks like over #ldnont tonight - turned a deep orange by smoke from wildfires burning in northwest Ontario.

I'm so shaken by what I'm seeing - amid an Environment Canada special air quality statement that warns of dangerous levels of soot and gasses in the atmosphere - that I'm not even bothering to process my images off of my camera-camera before sharing it here, So you'll have to content yourself with a fast-grab of the photo on the Nikon's screen, taken from my smartphone.

I may as well be looking at Venus, which seems fitting given the otherworldliness of the spectacle that now hangs, literally, over our heads.

They say climate change is a myth. Whoever "they" are, they're wrong.

They should stand here in my backyard and watch our nearest star get blotted out by smoke from fires burning upward of 2,000 km away from here.

They should stand amid ruined villages in Europe, decimated by so-called hundred-year floods that now occur at far shorter intervals.

They should stand on a beach near Vancouver, B.C. and smell the shellfish spontaneously cooking on the burning sand.

Those who deny the science, who pretend it's all hype, who ignore the on-the-ground impact, deserve no audience.

The thing is, in denial or not, we all did this. And no one, planetary defender or climate change denier alike, can afford to stand idly by and allow it to continue to happen.

Which begs the question: at what point do we stand up and say, "Enough"?

#london #ontario #canada #sunset #blood #red #sky #fire #clouds #light #pollution #climatechange #landscape #landscapephotography #nature #naturephotography #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Playing in the fresh water surf

Reflecting the last of the day's sun
Grand Bend, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I spend entirely too much time playing in the water.

And by “playing in the water,” I mean standing in some lake or ocean or river, where the waves lap up against the shore, feeling the water wash over my ankles as I take random pictures of the action. The hope is at least one photo will be good enough to have made the entire silly exercise worthwhile.

As you might imagine, there isn’t a whole lot of planning. Which, I think, is why I enjoy it so much.

Because as the chaotic water world froths around me, I’m not thinking about anything else. It’s just me, water, wind, and a camera. I can feel the sand and stones on my feet, hear the screaming birds somewhere behind me, see the fleeting, shifting reflections of the sun off the roiled surface of the water.

It’s as close to a meditative state as a photographer can get.

Out here, I’m connected to nothing except my imagination. If anyone’s pinging me in email or SMS or Messenger or Teams, it’ll wait. Whatever thoughts and worries I may have carried into the water are long since forgotten as I focus in on the seemingly simple - but really not - world of collapsing waves and rogue reflections.

Because when you’re trying to paint pictures of forces that would rather remain intangible, there isn’t a whole lot of room for distraction.

On reflection, maybe my problem isn’t that I’m spending too much time playing in the water. Maybe I’m not spending enough.

I’ll have to work on that.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #sun #sunset #summer #nature #waves #water #landscape #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Riding my bike to see the corn

Everything looks better through spokes
Middlesex Centre, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


On the corner of Wonderland Road North and Ilderton Road just north of #ldnont, they grow corn.

Come to think of it, they grow corn everywhere in the rich agricultural hinterlands that surround this town.

And watching the stalks grow from nothing to Field of Dreams-tall has become an almost subconscious pastime for us, a comforting reminder that real food comes from the ground, not the frozen foods aisle at the grocery store.

I often point the bike past the edge of the city because cycling through the countryside has become something of an escape from the real world, a temporary form of catharsis where it's just you, the bike, and the basic physics of riding the white painted line while cars whip past your left shoulder at triple-digit speeds.

It's less frightening than it sounds. And for a little while, anyway, the rest of the world can wait while you take in the spectacle of something being created from nothing.

In the end all I did on this glorious afternoon was park my bike so I could stare at corn for a few minutes. Yet something keeps telling me simple moments like this are a lot more important to our souls than we might have thought.

Which is my way of saying there’s more corn and bikes and weird roadside musings in my - and by extension your - future.

#london #ontario #canada #farm #corn #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #orange #devinci #hatchet #gravelbike #wonderland #road #abstract #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Still-life in a Montreal hotel room

Everything in its place
Montreal, QC
June 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you may be familiar with my tradition of shooting weirdly artsy compositions in hotel rooms.

It keeps me out of trouble when I’m away from home - at least that’s the excuse I like to use.

So here’s another one from a hotel that had opened a week before we got here, and was as pristine as it was ever going to be. We’re reasonably sure we were the first guests to have ever stayed in this particular room, so of course some still life photos were called for.

This particular photo may be a simple capture of an unremarkable bed in a generic hotel. But it’s part of a storyline that’s been playing out in my decidedly non-linear life for years.

And if I have anything to do with it, it’ll continue to unravel for years to come.

#montreal #quebec #canada #hilton #hotel #design #furniture #bed #stilllife #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Sailing to the horizon

Wind power
Grand Bend, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


That sailboat grazing the horizon may seem insignificant to someone peering out from shore, but it is the very world to whoever is on board.

Perspective is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Safe journey, whoever you may be, and wherever you may be headed.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #sun #sunset #summer #nature #waves #water #sail #sailing #boat #sailboat #landscape #photography #canon #canonphotography #canon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Old building in the fading sun

Never lose the light
Stratford, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


There's a building on a side road in Stratford that wears its years with, if not grace, then a certain sense of honest grit.

It's a single storey of concrete block, weather-worn white paint, cracked windows, splintered wood, and weeds growing out of the foundation. Most folks would ignore it as a decaying example of architecture that was never worth a second look in the first place.

But I'm not most folks, and I think it's beyond glorious.

We've driven by here any number of times over the years, and a little switch in the back of my mind trips itself every time we do. I've made countless mental notes to pull over and shoot some pics, but over the years I just haven't.

There's always a reason that seems valid in the moment: a car full of tired kids, weather, a ticking clock, or I'm just not feeling it.

Wednesday evening was different. I was alone. There was no deadline at the other end of the drive. And I had remembered to bring my camera-camera along for the ride. So I circled the block, parked the car, and wandered on over for a closer look.

The EXIF data says I was there for 9 minutes, and I fought the fading light for every one of them. But that old building seemed to make the most of that fading light - almost as if it was encouraging me to work fast to uncover its secrets.

In the end, I think I brought some workable images home. But most importantly, I had finally taken the time to take a closer look.

And as I got back on the road and headed into the countryside toward home, I wondered why I had waited so long to do so.

#stratford #ontario #canada #landscape #concrete #glass #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #ruinporn #streetphotography #urban #street #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, July 16, 2021

Please don't drink this beer

Glass one-third full
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


We live in an age where no one in a restaurant or bar would ever consume an unattended drink because strangers are terrible people.

But there's always a flip side to the darkness, and at the back of a bustling all-you-can-play arcade long before anyone even knew what COVID was, this forlorn and fingerprint-covered glass of likely-warm beer offered up a quick photographic still-life session. Who was I to say no?

Unlike an actual photographic still-life session, however, there were no tripods, lighting tricks, or hours-long debates with myself over composition and tone. Just me, a smartphone, and a half-baked idea that this moment deserved to have its story told somehow.

They never taught me this kind of storytelling in photojournalism class at j-school. Maybe I was absent that day.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #throwback #pinball #game #gaming #arcade #glass #drink #reflective #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, July 15, 2021

On the origins of passion

"Passion is born deaf and dumb.

Unicorns are totally real

Signs in the waves
Grand Bend, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


This is what happens when you forget to change your camera settings when shifting from one subject to the next, and you end up unwittingly trying to capture fast-tumbling waves with a slow shutter speed.

On the plus side, you prove once and for all that unicorns exist. Go ahead, take a closer look. There are also other fun little surprises in there, because every mistake should spawn a little bit of magic.

There is no down side. Any memory from the edge of the planet, where land gives way to water, is worth holding onto. Even if it’s a slightly blurry one.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ldnont #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #sun #sunset #summer #nature #bird #birds #gull #flight #landscape #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

An inaccessible alley

The chains that bind us
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Locked, tagged, and textured.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #throwback #urban #street #streetphotography #metal #metallica #monochrome #photography #dundas #west #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Waiting for the train to cross

Patience
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Waiting for the train: a London tradition since long before the car was a thing.

May it still be a thing long after cars cease to be a thing.

But not at this particular crossing*, because they're building an underpass here now.

Because cars gotta dominate.

* The project to eliminate the Adelaide and Central crossing by digging Adelaide under the tracks will cost $58.3 million. That would buy a lot of mental health services and protected bike paths, but I suspect no one in this burg wants to hear it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #walkabout #urban #central #adelaide #street #photography #road #traffic #zoom #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:

Monday, July 12, 2021

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - On Sailing

I've decided the world is too rough-and-tumble for my taste, with too many people taking themselves so seriously that there doesn't seem to be room for any light to squeeze in and highlight how ridiculous they both seem and look.

So I've been deliberately seeking out long-reads that shine a decidedly different kind of light - namely on people who have decided to not take things as seriously as others.

Of course, when it involves personal safety in the middle of large bodies of water, perhaps a little more seriousness might be called for. But this is a great read, anyway, and I hope it makes you smile - and think - as it did me.

By Abe Streep
Outside
October 14, 2015

Of anniversaries, beaches, and memories

Where the waves never stop
Grand Bend, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Debbie and I have a strange little family tradition to mark our (July 5th) wedding anniversary: we go to the beach.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. The beach has always been a resonant place for us, what my wife likes to call her happy place, where we can sit with our feet in the sand and feel the winds blow in off the water.

This year's beach destination was Grand Bend, and our daughter joined us for the ride. Cameras were, of course, slung over shoulders, and Dahlia and I spent some quality time beside the water trying to make some memories in pixels as the sun slowly settled into the water.

For the record, she's a freakishly gifted photographer, and her pixels are way better than mine. Which delights me to no end.

As I watched her pick her compositions and work through the process, I thought about why we were here, how the day we got married we were still years away from becoming parents.

It struck me as neat that all these years later, we celebrated a day that happened years before our kids came along. Yet given how history works, it was another step toward our family (eventually) becoming whole.

The connection to that singular day was hard to ignore as the wind-whipped waves crashed over our ankles.

Eventually we finished shooting and tucked the cameras away, images of waves now lost to the depths of Lake Huron tucked safely on their memory cards.

If only life itself could be so neatly captured, stored, and remembered.

If only pixels were just a little more tangible.

If only we had more nights like this, with the people who appreciate it most, to make memories as vivid as the ones we now hold not only in our photo albums, but in our hearts and minds.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #sun #sunset #summer #nature #waves #water #landscape #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related:

Sunday, July 11, 2021

#Unity22 touches space

Homeward bound
Truth or Consequences, NM
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


History. Made.

I wonder how many dreams were planted in kids watching the #Unity22 mission today, how many future wonders got their first spark of inspiration from what Sir @richardbranson and his #VirginGalactic team pulled off in the skies over New Mexico.

Probably more than we can count.

Which is why this humanity thing, despite it all, remains such a remarkable ride.

Per aspera ad astra.

Grocery checkout still-life

Nothing to scan
London, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


In case you've ever wondered what an act of civil conveyance might look like, wonder no longer.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #loblaws #supermarket #grocery #store #checkout #aisle #conveyor #shopping #retail #random #stilllife #everyday #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sailing boat. Sailing bird.

Modes of transportation
Grand Bend, ON
July 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


We each capture the wind in our own unique manner.

#grand #bend #grandbend #ldnont #ontario #canada #beach #great #lake #huron #sun #sunset #summer #nature #bird #birds #gull #flight #landscape #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Where clouds (hopefully) bring better days

Someone painted the sky
London, ON
July 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Many thanks to you all for your kind wishes. I'm still resting off the worst of my mRNA dose - it's working, yay! - and should be back to my regularly annoying self before long.

Nothing some rest, hydration, fam time, and dog time won't eventually resolve.

Until then, I'm thumbing through some of my fave photos, like this one where the sky magically painted itself just as we were out with the dog. Coincidence?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #throwback #sunset #blue #sky #clouds #light #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything