Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Bombs bursting in air

Analog aviation magic
London, ON
August 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Where are my manners? January 13 was a very special day in Canadian aviation history, as it marked the 62nd anniversary of the first flight of the CT-114 Tutor.

If the name of the plane draws a blank, the team that flies it shouldn't: Canada's national aerobatics flight demo team has flown these jets since the unit - officially the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron - was given the Snowbirds name in 1971. The Royal Canadian Air Force flew them as trainers until 2000, and 21 years later time hasn't done these planes any favors.

I've often written about how other military flight demonstration teams fly frontline fighters - the USAF Thunderbirds fly F-16s and the US Navy Blue Angels recently transitioned to the F/A-18 Super Hornet - but Canadian pilots are stuck with the aviation equivalent of analog antiques.

And what they squeeze out of these planes is nothing short of breathtaking. No afterburners, glass cockpits, HUDs, or digital flight controls here: just good old fashioned stick-and-rudder flying, backed by some of the best ground crew on Planet Earth.

I believe this is the Downward Bomb Burst maneuver. Whatever they call it, I hold my breath every time I watch them perform it. Because we could all use the occasional excuse to be wowed. And Planet Earth needs a few more wows these days.

Maybe someday soon they'll get new planes. Until then, though, this will never get old.

#nikonskydrive @airshowlondon @nikoncanada #ldnont #london #airport #ontario #canada #throwback #SkyDrive #AirShowLondon #aviation #rcaf #snowbirds #canadair #ct114 #cl41 #tutor #flight #aircraft #avgeek #aviationphotography #planespotting #instaplane #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #lifeinthemargins

Related:
Crashed dreams, May 2020
When Snowbirds fly, September 2019
Airshow! September 2017

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Moonscapes not far from home

Textured fragility
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


It's been wintering for what seems like weeks. One storm after another. Arctic blasts of cold. Snow- and ice-covered everything. All under relentlessly steel-grey skies.

The other night was particularly miserable. As the dog and I walked past the neighborbood convenience store, the owner's SUV was the only vehicle in the snow-tracked parking lot. It was idling in that quintessentially Canadian pre-drive warm-up/clean-up ritual.

The headlights lit up the ground by the sidewalk, their low-angled shafts of light throwing off otherworldly-looking shadows that caught my eye.

While Calli stuck her nose deep into a snowbank and sniffed/snored loudly, I crouched down, took my phone out, composed quickly before my fingers froze, and snapped a single frame.

I'm not sure if this is a snowscape, a moonscape, or a winter-weary combination of the two. And I'm not sure definitions matter here. Point is, I liked what I saw, and this is the result.

It's kind of why I got into photography in the first place. And kind of why I rather enjoy this time of year despite the inconvenience of it all.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #random #street #night #snow #winter #weather #wx #monochrome #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Related:
Chasing snow at night, November 2021
Winter still sucks, February 2020
Zoomed in snowdrift, February 2020

Monday, January 24, 2022

The first time I ever saw Vegas

They paved paradise, put up a parking lot
Las Vegas, NV
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The scene: It's November 5, 2018, and we're flying into Las Vegas on final approach to what was then known as McCarran International Airport (since renamed for the late U.S. Senator Harry Reid.)

I'm happily and wildly snapping photos of the landscape below, rather in awe of how virtually everything in view has been paved over.

Thanks to the magic of GPS and a little quality time with Google Maps, we know we're looking at the Galleria at Sunset mall toward the lower-right, and the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino looms toward the top-of-frame. The plane is right over highway 515 as I trip the shutter.

If I had kept on shooting, eventually I would have snagged an Olive Garden restaurant, which as you can imagine is quite the catch for a travel photographer in search of rare local cuisine.

This is my first time in Vegas, so my eyes are wide open and I'm absorbing the experience like a sponge. This first glance as we skim from east to west is both impressive and, not gonna lie, a little horrifying.

I get that this is a desert and all, but the near-total lack of anything green is jarring to someone who grew up in a leafy suburb and lives in a place that calls itself The Forest City. I can see why, with the possible exception of the touristy parts of town, virtually no one walks anywhere here.

Soon enough we land and I no longer have to shoot the city through scratched and pitted plane windows. But it's this first look that sticks with me, that reinforces just how different this place is from what I'm used to, and how lucky I am to have the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

Sooner or later we'll get back to window seats and first peeks at strange places. Until then, we archive-dive and remind ourselves why we have wanderlust in the first place.

#PandemicPics #las #vegas #lasvegas #throwback #roadtrip #air #flight #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #nevada #desert #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #aircanada @aircanada #flying #aviation #avgeek #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Related:
Save Ferris, November 2019

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Capturing her best side

Let me know when you're done
London, ON
November 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Our dog, Calli, is very particular about ensuring that we always photograph her from a flattering angle.

I’m not sure where she learned the ins and outs of composition and portrait photography. Must be a Schnauzer thing.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheschnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

John Wayne fades to into history

Local eats
Lively, ON
October 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


We live in a world dominated by franchises, chains, corporate brands that paint the landscape in uniform shades of garishly colored, overly bright fluorescent light.

Travel from town to town and they all begin to look alike.

On the one hand, familiarity when you're far from home is always welcome. On the other, no place is unique anymore. Every town looks identical. Nothing is local. Nothing stands out. We could be anywhere else, and we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

So when we come across this snapshot-in-time resto in the shadows of a superstack on the outskirts of a northern Ontario town named Lively, I can't resist the urge to just stand in the parking lot and drink it in.

It's like an echo of an era that's slowly fading to black, never to be remembered by the legions of present-and-future consumers too busy getting the same generic fare in a drive-through.

Somewhere along the way, we lost the script. The least we can do is take a picture before it disappears for good.

#sudbury #lively #ontario #canada #throwback #roadtrip #travel #travelphotography #dukes #duke #johnwayne #spontaneous #restaurant #sign #signs #parking #lot #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Definitely not Larry the Lobster

Someone's future dinner?
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


The saddest lobster in the world is the grocery store lobster.

Sorry, sweet crustacean.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #metro #grocery #store #cheapside #adelaide #lobster #notlarry #aquarium #shopping #retail #random #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Related:

Saying goodbye to the classic Dash 8

The end of the line
London, ON
September 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I have a strange little habit: when I've got time to kill at an airport, I take note of the unique registration IDs of each aircraft, and I like to look them up online to learn more about their history.

Some are more fun than others.

For example, this one: C-FACT, a 31-year-old Dash 8 series 300 most recently operated by Air Canada Express, the feeder airline to our eponymous national airline.

I shot this in September 2020, as this twin-engjne turboprop commuter workhorse landed at London International Airport in the middle of an airshow. It was likely the least sexy piece of equipment to grace the tarmac that day, yet it stood out by virtue of its registration.

I just love when these sequential identifiers manage to form actual words, and I hope I'm not the only one who finds this strangely endearing.

I've always wondered what it would be like to fly into an airport on a day like that, with crowds beside the runway and high-performance jets waiting on taxiways.

At a point in history where flying anywhere can be an exercise in fear and frustration, I hope the folks on this plane on that day found a reason to smile. I waved after I shot this. Just because.

Sadly, C-FACT is in storage, and as of yesterday, all remaining Series 300 aircraft have been retired from service pending a possible sale or conversion to cargo use. Air Canada’s regional arm will continue to fly the newer Q400 series.

I do hope this sturdy old bird takes to the skies again sometime soon, perhaps for another airline, and that those who fly her find some reason to crack a smile.

We could all use more reasons to do so, even if they're as ridiculously trivial as this one.

#nikonskydrive @airshowlondon @nikoncanada #ldnont #london #airport #ontario #canada #SkyDrive #AirShowLondon #aviation #dehavilland #dash8 #dhc8 #flight #aircraft #avgeek #aviationphotography #planespotting #instaplane #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #photography #lifeinthemargins

Related:
Fly away home (again), February 2019

Friday, January 21, 2022

Miniature red frozen wonders

Blink and you'll miss it
London, ON
January 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Tiny frozen droplets hang off of a tiny red branch, and serve as proof that wonder is often found in the most unexpected places.

I’m sharing this as a reminder to myself to look harder into those unexpected places. Of course, you’re all welcome to come along with me, or to find your own wonders in your own unexpected places.

It’s a big planet, after all. I’m sure there’s more than enough wonder to go around.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #throwback #tree #trees #red #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #texture #gameoftones #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #picoftheday #pictureoftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The things we see in public washrooms

The mysteries of strangers
Trenton, ON
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Every photo has a back-story. This one is no different.

It's June 2019. We’re driving to Montreal for my father-in-law's funeral. Highway 401 is a lousy drive on the best of days, and even worse on this one.

We stop in at an OnRoute location to refuel ourselves and our vehicle, and I come across this bizarro scene in the washroom. In my sleep-addled, grief-overwhelmed state, I stand there for what seems an eternity and wonder why on earth anyone would bring a bottle of water into the toilet stall and just...leave it there. I have so many questions.

Eventually I decide I don't have an answer, and probably never will. But I figure it's worth remembering with a photo. Because in my strange world, most things are worth remembering with a photo, even if they make no sense to me or anyone else.

The archives probably have some more weird scenes and stories buried within them, all just waiting for days when I look for inspiration in the places I've been, and the oddball stories that presented themselves to me at the time.

What's your oddball story? Whatever it is, I hope you also take some time to photo-archive-dive. I hear it's good for the soul.

#trenton #ontario #canada #throwback #onroute #random #monochrome #photography #public #shoot #shooting #washroom #highway #road #trip #travel #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Related:

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The case of the abandoned mountain bike

Rust in peace
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


It isn't often you come across an abandoned purple bicycle on a snowy pathway beside a still-under-construction home on the edge of suburbia.

There's probably a story here, and as I stand under the lightly falling snow, it isn't apparent to me what that story is.

But Calli the Wonderschnauzer is pulling on her leash, and it's time to head for home. So the details behind how this still-quite-lovely Huffy got here will have to remain a mystery for now.

However it eventually plays out, I hope it has a happy ending for whoever once called it theirs.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #cycling #cyclist #cycle #bicycle #bike #cyclinglife #bikelife #instabike #purple #winter #weather #wx #random #streetphotography #photography #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Seeing behind the leaves

Bare
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Most folks despise winter, and I get why: it's cold, wet, miserable, monotonous, dangerous.

You don't experience it as much as you fight it. Even taking a walk is a major production as you spend an inordinate amount of time collecting your cold weather gear, and carefully putting it on.

Once you're outside, you're either busting through deep snow, trying to stay upright on icy, unmaintained sidewalks and trails, or both. Then you get to reverse the entire process when you get home, with bonus points for anyone who wears eyeglasses. We'll leave the wet socks discussion for another day.

So we've established that it's a labor-intensive, annoying, sometimes-frightening time of year. But every dark side has its light.

Winter clears the leaves away, lets us see the underlying trees. The forest may be bare by the traditional definition, but that's only one way of looking at it.

Without leaves in the way, we can see the trunks and branches that form the structure of this impossibly diverse place. Normally it's all hidden, but winter exposes the skeleton, and lets us experience it in ways simply not possible the rest of the year.

The season may add challenge to the journey, but coming across scenes like this one makes me realize it's all worth it in the end. The leaves - and the warmth that feeds them - can wait.

#PandemicPics #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #walkabout #forest #tree #trees #winter #weather #wx #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Monday, January 17, 2022

Back to school. Sort of.

Life at the threshold
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Millions of kids in Ontario are returning to class this morning.

To be frank, our provincial government doesn’t have a clue. Fun fact: throughout the pandemic, the province has kept kids home more days than any other North American jurisdiction.

And once we’re piling on, the feds aren’t any better. But this isn’t about politics.

My wife is a teacher, and I joined her yesterday as she got her classroom ready yet again. We’ve been here before, carting her stuff back as she transitions yet again from remote to in-class teaching.

As the clock ticks down to these doors being thrown open, debate rages. Parents fret over what the right choices are. Kids try to shift gears amid a landscape they neither control nor understand. Educators move heaven and earth to keep kids learning despite the challenges. Critics on all sides of the issue miss no opportunity to criticize.

So wherever you may find yourself in this impossibly chaotic mess of politics, community, parenthood, childhood, life, whatever, please give yourself and those around you a break. We’re all just trying to muddle our way through despite checked-out politicians, ignorant populations, and unpredictable variants. There is no ideal path.

And whether or not you and/or your kids will be walking through doors like these today or any day, we’re all simply doing the best we can.

And some days are harder than others. In school. Anywhere.

Please keep this in mind. Please lead with kindness.

#PandemicPics #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #school #backtoschool #teach #teacher #education #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Twin buildings (almost)

Always look up
London, ON
December 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Permanent architectural standoff.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #architecture #design #architecturephotography #geometry #building #street #photography #masonville #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

No cars available here

Nature reclaims her territory
London, ON
December 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


When car dealerships die; next Geraldo.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #oxford #street #old #building #architecture #ruinporn #streetphotography #monochrome #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Same street, different angle

Nearby compression effect
London, ON
December 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


I've been walking, cycling, and driving this particular stretch of Oxford Street in #LdnONT for more years than I can recall, and I've never seen it quite like this.

I guess if you stand on a traffic-choked street corner, stare into the distance, and squint your eyes just so, you'll see the familiar in an unfamiliar light.

Funny how that works, huh?

#london #ontario #canada #urban #street #photography #oxford #road #traffic #zoom #compression #hydro #wires #utility #electric #company #canon #canonphotography #canon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Parking lot nightmare

Jammed
London, ON
December 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram


As I stand on the edge of a parking lot the day after Christmas and watch the bargain hunters frantically look for places to park, I can’t help but think we’ve gotten it all wrong.

Sorry, Earth.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #parking #parkinglot #car #cars #street #photography #masonville #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

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Friday, January 14, 2022

The lion tree sleeps

Branched
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


They say there's no color in winter.

I rather disagree. So would this tree. If it possessed that ability. Story for another day, I guess.

And who are "they", anyway?

Whatever the case, I just can't say no to a bare tree standing on its own in a wintry valley.

And there doesn't have to be a story attached to it as long as it catches your attention.

#PandemicPics #ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #tree #trees #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #walkabout #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

On making mistakes

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

 

Mapping the ice fields

Tectonic-like
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


On occasion, we'll come across scenes that leave scale completely to the imagination. This could be a close-up/macro shot, or viewed from space, or something in between.

It's one of the many reasons why I freaking love Canadian winters. They play with our brains in ways we can't even anticipate when we first set out on an adventure.

(FWIW, this is river ice from about 4 or 5-ish metres up. It paints a uniquely different picture every time we visit, which is precisely why we keep coming back for more.)

#ldnont #exploreldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #thames #river #water #snow #ice #texture #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #monochrome #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The rivers we cross

It's all in the details
London, ON
January 2022
This photo originally shared on Instagram


Still waters have always run deep.

But what if the waters are neither still, nor deep? What if this is the scene that presents itself when you stick a camera over the edge of a bridge, point it downward, and gently squeeze off a few frames?

I try to avoid overthinking it, because I AM holding a camera high above flowing water, and I'd rather not have to explain to my wife why I'm putting my beloved Nikon into a giant-sized, rice-filled Ziploc(tm) bag. (Note: no cameras were harmed in the taking of this photo. We're all good.)

My fears of gravity aside, I find places like this - shallow water, clear sights all the way down to the bottom, lots of nooks and crannies to take in - to be kind of addictive. Which is why living in a town criss-crossed by rivers and creeks is another one of those tiny little blessings I should probably spend more time appreciating.

Speaking of overlooking, I'll be the guy by the railing on the bridge. There's always a show going on far below, and I'd hate to miss it.

#ldnont #exploreldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #thames #river #water #rocks #texture #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins