Thursday, February 28, 2019

Pools of light before we continue the journey

Scene from an OnRoute
Ingersoll, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This scene, captured at a highway rest stop near Ingersoll at 8:31 on a bitterly cold winter night, is pretty similar to scenes that play out at other highway rest stops in other wintry parts of the world. It's not even remotely unique, nothing jumps out as particularly memorable or spectacular, and there's no reason why a news crew would feature this on the 11 o'clock news.

Unspectacular and unmemorable doesn't mean unworthy, though. This seemingly nondescript scene contains any number of stories, each one important to the individuals pictured here. Just because we don't know who they are, what brought them here, where they're headed, or even why they're out in the first place doesn't make their stories any less significant.

So before we continue on our way, I stand in the darkened parking lot and take it in: The two pickups, sedan and crossover at the pumps, the lineup inside the convenience store, the brilliant, oasis-like pools of light that spill out into the night.

I've mused about these highway rest stops before, these transitional, generally forgettable places we try to put behind us as we rush to wherever we're headed. The clock is ticking, and our hands go numb around the gas pump the longer we stand in the cold, concrete emptiness. Can this thing possibly BE any slower? I wish the same thing as I fill up my own vehicle. I wish for the rest of the trip to be warm, easy, and fast. I wish for life - for me as well as for my fellow travellers - to be easier than it seems to be at this particular time, in this particular place.

I'm not about to walk up to these strangers and ask them their story. But it can't hurt to wonder, from afar, what those stories might be. And send quiet wishes for safe journeys.

#ingersoll #woodstock #ontario #onroute #random #photography #highway #fuel #gas #station #weather #wx #road #trip #travel #car #auto #automotive #carporn #pool #light #google #pixel2 #canada #family #is #everything

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lost love on a hospital floor

Ripped away
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This hospital is enormous, so I walk a lot. Fetching coffee from something more palatable than a wretched vending machine is a 15-minute walk across the street. Want to get work done in the giant atrium with the awesome free WiFi? 10 minutes to the other end of the block-long building. I'm pretty sure the parking lot is in another postal code.

Which leaves a lot of time to ponder the meaning of life - or life snatched away - as I move between here and there in a place where you're never really here or there to begin with.

All that wandering also leaves lots of time to stare at the floor. At the mess left behind by thousands of people too preoccupied to notice. Because people don't deliberately litter here as much as they accidentally drop stuff because they have other, more important things to worry about. Countless cleaning staff manage to stay on top of a never-ending, joyless, thankless task, but even they can't get everything, every time.

On this afternoon, I'm glad they didn't. Because all I saw as I rounded the corner was a single, tiny heart in the middle of an otherwise empty stretch of granite at one end of an overwhelmingly long hallway. Did it make for a keeper photo? No. But that's not what I was aiming for. For some reason, I walked that particular way at this particular moment and saw this particular scrap of long-forgotten paper. And I thought it was worth remembering because hearts, in any form, are always worth remembering if they manage to make us smile. And this one did. Simple, really.

Strangers yet again stared at me with that odd mixture of curiosity and we-think-he's-crazy distant-concern as I got down on a knee and composed the scene you see here.

Not gonna lie: I do it more often than I probably should. Because the things that speak to me aren't always in obvious places. Sometimes they're down on the ground where no one else bothers to look.

#montreal #quebec #canada #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #photography #pink #heart #garbage #trash #waste #recycling #lost #not #found #life #family #is #everything

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Eyeing the grouchy chocolate bar through glass

Not that hungry
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Hospitals are filled with countless tiny details that we often miss because we're overwhelmed by the very reasons that brought us here in the first place.

Like the vending machine in the shadowy corner of the 6th floor family lounge, a frequent hangout for us as we've waited for Deb's dad to be changed, or undergo another in an endless string of medical procedures. For all the times we've been here, this morning is the first time I even realized it had a vending machine. So much for my powers of observation.

The Snickers bar you see here seems to reflect my mood, a roller-coaster-like sine wave that oscillates between exhaustion, sadness, and anger at the universe. I'm grouchy - not to anyone around me, but within myself, as I constantly churn the possibilities of what might happen next and how we'll deal with it. And seeing this weirdly marketed chocolate bar in an ignored vending machine in a forgotten corner of a room no one wants to be in strikes me as a perfect reflection of the moment.

So I shoot it. Not because it's a good picture, because it isn't, and I've been taking a lot of these throwaway pics lately. But because it's another oddball slice of an oddball chapter in an oddball life. And someday we'll look back at it and count our lucky stars that we were able to somehow navigate this chapter and put it behind us. At least that's the plan - and we all know what the universe often does with the plans we make.

#montreal #quebec #canada #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #photography #chocolate #snickers #food #foodporn #dessert #instafood #foodphotography #life #family #is #everything

Monday, February 25, 2019

Revisiting the mountains of my chldhood

Temporarily towering
St. Laurent, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We're near the desolate edge of a nearly empty parking lot in the burbs, and as is often the case these days we're transitioning from one place to the next. An around-the-clock shift at the hospital with my father-in-law behind us. FIL's empty condo ahead of us, promising a night of sifting through financial documents and trying to make sense of his affairs.

This is what living nightmares look like, except you eventually wake up from bad dreams. Not here, not now.

We're walking back to the car after dinner when that familiar jolt hits me. I see something. Towering piles of snow thanks to the severe winter that's blasted this city for months. An apocalyptic moonscape, like when we were in elementary school, climbing the mountains after a major storm, kings and queens of our childhood domain. Because that's what stupid kids like us did despite the distant pleas of the well-meaning - but powerless - lunch moms.

Adult me doesn't climb snow mountains anymore. (OK, not often.) But they still fascinate me. These, in particular, almost feel real, like an alpine range, the combination of craggy snow and severe parking lot lighting against a damp, cold, black night making them feel more substantive than a wantonly dumped pile of white stuff.

And for a moment, I seal out the hospital and the condo and the relentless cacophony of real-life things we've seen and heard and smelled and felt and just allow the vision in front of me to fill my head. My wife, as she so often does, patiently indulges me as I wander closer to the pile and size it up

In the end, I get 5 minutes of respite through the lens before I return to the car and we continue our journey to our not-quite-home. But the photo here endures as a literally frozen - and figuratively frozen-in-time - moment amid so many moments I wish I could forget. If only we could return to those school yard mountains for recess. If only they were more than mere memories.

#montreal #stlaurent #quebec #canada #winter #weather #wx #season #snow #snowfall #cold #ice #frozen #nature #google #pixel2 #teampixel #urban #street #photography #naturephotography #monochrome #instagood #photooftheday #life #family #is #everything

Inadvertent sunset

Reflection on a brilliant street
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Someone once told me the best moments are the unexpected ones, that reach out to you when you're busy doing something else, and least expect something special to happen.

Like this one.

I was walking back to the hospital on an ice-choked, crumbling sidewalk barely wide enough for one, let alone oncoming directions of late-afternoon Saturday pedestrian traffic on this busy commercial artery. That's long been the norm in this alternately beautiful, yet badly run city of stunning architecture and barely-maintained roads. My head was down not because I was deep in thought, but because I was focused on self-preservation.

The sun hadn't yet set, but densely-built neighborhoods tend to cast shadows over the surrounding streets long before the sun dips below the horizon. So with no expectations of photographic glory in my immediate future, I had safely tucked the camera into my backpack and was carefully making my way back to the hospital.

As I crossed the street - ironically, Jean-Brillant Road - I picked up a slash of light out of the corner of my eye. As soon as it appeared, it was gone, but it was enough to snap me out of my pedestrian-induced coma. I quickly zeroed in on a bank of windows halfway down the block, blindingly reflecting the western sky, but only if I stood in one particular spot. Half a step either way and it winked out. The universe was calling me again, so down went the bag, and out came the camera.

I didn't seek the sunset on this late-afternoon walk. Rather, the sunset sought me out - and clearly found me. An unexpected moment at a time when all I saw was darkness, and all I wanted to do was finish my journey safely. Sometimes the universe has other plans, and we'd do well to take the time to heed them.

#montreal #quebec #canada #winter #weather #wx #season #ice #icicle #frozen #nature #window #sun #sunset #sky #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #urban #street #photography #naturephotography #instagood #photooftheday #cotedesneiges #life #family #is #everything

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Take me to church (and warm me up, please)

Mid-winter scene
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Just outside a church in the fading late afternoon light, small knots of people rush across the icy path, racing to mass as the distant thrum of the organ gradually rises through the century-old stone walls.

I notice these icicles hanging from the eaves, simultaneously dangerous and gorgeous. There isn't much light to work with, yet these accidental, temporary freaks of nature still manage to capture and reflect so much of it that I blink hard a few times to ensure it isn't some kind of illusion

It isn't. It's quite real, and it's more than enough to keep me standing here in the cold for a while as I try to stay out of the churchgoers' way on the narrow path.

As I look for ways to tell the story of this resonant place, I'm struck by the seeming permanence of this giant institution, with the impressive building, in a city within a province where the Catholic Church held sway far longer and more pervasively than it did elsewhere.

This building predates everyone here, and remains a vibrant anchor to the community that surrounds it. The sound and light filtering out into the now-darkened neighborhood are ample proof of that.

Yet the ice will be gone before we know it, a temporary adornment to a permanent scene. A reminder, perhaps, that there's no time like the present to get out there, to connect, to take it all in. Because soon enough it all disappears.

#montreal #quebec #canada #winter #weather #wx #season #ice #icicle #frozen #nature #church #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #urban #street #photography #naturephotography #instagood #photooftheday #cotedesneiges #life #family #is #everything

Taking off into the unknown

Under uncertain skies
Port Stanley, ON
September 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The weather warnings have made it clear we're about to have quite the blustery day in the 100 Acre Wood.

When I was a kid, I used to worry about where birds sought shelter from extreme weather. Were they warm enough in the cold? Were they protected from the rain? Did they have somewhere to go when the winds kicked up?

To be brutally honest, adult-me still worries. Yes, I've studied science and biology in the interim, and I know, logically, that our avian friends have it all figured out. But it's never a bad thing to worry about others, feathered or not.

So as this flock headed out over Lake Erie on a blustery Labor Day last year I wondered where they were headed, and if they'd be safe along the way. I silently wished them safe travel as I gently squeezed the shutter, hoping against hope that the simple act of shooting a scene could guarantee the right outcomes for everyone in-frame.

Life doesn't work that way. Neither does flight. And not every bird manages to find its way back home.

#port #stanley #portstanley #beach #great #lake #erie #ldnont #bird #birds #wind #weather #wx #wings #nature #summer #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #instagood #photooftheday #boeing #atlasair #amazon #primeair #crash #ontario #canada #family #is #everything

Thursday, February 21, 2019

On keeping things simple

It's been a while since I posted a quote of the day (QOTD), and I've got to admit I miss them. So without further ado, let's get this party started, again.

If you've got a particularly thought-provoking quote that you'd like featured here, drop me a suggestion in a comment. Thanks!
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
Albert Einstein

Yellow inspiration at my feet

Follow the lines
London, ON
August 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It was an admittedly lousy day for a picture, with steel-grey skies spitting out an off-and-on drizzle. The location didn't help, either: A nearly empty parking lot in London's old east-end industrial zone, a place inspiration left behind decades ago as factories closed and lives drifted elsewhere.

The neighborhood is undergoing the fitful beginnings of a resurgence, and just across the street I can see the first hopeful example of investment in a long-dormant hulk, the first return of life to an area that for so long seemed almost completely lifeless.

But it isn't quite there yet, and it'll take years of vision, investment, and patience to get there - whatever "there" is. Which means we're nowhere near the point of photographic inspiration yet.

Still, the newly painted lines at my feet keep me pulling me back as I got into my car to head home. A slash of yellow amid a sea of dusty, forgotten grey. I smiled at the thought of bright color in places that otherwise absorbed it, of hopeful moments in places that had seemingly long ago given up hope.

You see a lot of things when you stare down at the ground below. You learn a lot, too, about finding inspiration in unexpected places. The world needs more color, and we all have a role to play in finding and sharing it.

#ldnont #yellow #grey #monochrome #asphalt #parking #lot #geometry #straight #line #lines #texture #industrial #old #kellogg #cereal #factory #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #yxu #london #ontario #canada #family #is #everything

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ice storm from the inside

Rockwell would have loved this
London, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
With another round of freezing rain set to move into the region any minute, I'm reminded of this moment in my kitchen, captured last week during an earlier bout of fun weather.

Logic might dictate that an ice-and-water-covered window is a bad thing, because you can't easily see what's out there. But logic doesn't take into account the fact that windows don't get painted like this very often. Maybe once or twice a year. And after all this stuff melts off, it'll probably never ice over in quite the same way again.

In other words, messiness like this is rare, a unique lens into a world that's always in the process of reinventing itself. And taking the time to record it feels like a reasonable thing to do when you're stuck on the inside looking out.

Perhaps "stuck" is the wrong word to use here. Our quiet kitchen, in our warm home, surrounded by the folks who make me whole, is a great place to be. Things can always be much worse. You might find yourself on the other side of the glass.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #yxu #google #pixel2 #teampixel #winter #weather #wx #storm #onstorm #snow #water #ice #nature #naturephotography #instagood #photooftheday #home #kitchen #window #family #is #everything

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Where it all began

The 'hood
Montreal, QC
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is far from the most spectacular photo in my archive. Of the thousands of street signs that line Montreal's roads, this one - old, rusted, barely holding on - hardly qualifies as photo-worthy. So why did I shoot it?

Good question.

I was wandering the neighborhood around the hospital, running errands for my wife while she stayed back in my father-in-law's room. As fate seemed to want to dictate on this bitterly cold afternoon, it was the same neighborhood my wife and I called our own when we first got married.

I stopped across from the sign, hands buried in my pockets to ward off the chill, and reflected on the decades that now separated us from those heady years in our first apartment together. Before kids. Before moving away. When we still had all our parents, and they were healthy.

Going back in time was obviously out of the question, but shooting one placeholder image definitely wasn't. It's what photography has become for me, a seriously imperfect means of trying to make sense of the passage of time. Imperfect as this method is, it's the best I've got.

I lingered for longer than I probably should have, but it felt somewhat comforting to be so close to the place where we had built our foundation. Because just a few blocks away, that foundation, the story of us, was coming in mighty handy as we dealt with the opposite, darker, sadder end of our family's arc.

Remembering what it felt like when everything lay ahead, when life held limitless potential, when we were a lot more naive than we are now, felt like the right thing to do on this challenging afternoon. It didn't change any outcomes, but it didn't have to. A simple reminder was more than sufficient for now.

#montreal #yul #quebec #canada #random #urban #street #photography #shoot #shooting #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #jgh #jewish #general #hospital #ellendale #cotedesneiges #neighborhood #playground #sign #family #is #everything

Monday, February 18, 2019

Just before the light fades for good

Sunset through glass
Montreal, QC
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's Saturday, 4:14 p.m., and the winter sun is setting over the atrium of the hospital where my father-in-law has been for months.

The relentless grey that has painted our reality ever since we got here has given way to brilliant, yellow light, almost as if the universe has decided we've had enough darkness, at least for now.

If only the scene playing out around me reflected what's been playing out upstairs. Because his doctors continue to struggle to understand what's caused his rapid decline, why he's gone from leading a full, independent life to one decidedly, jarringly less so.

I have no answers, either, as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon and the steely, sobering grey film returns once more to the lobby.

Not everything can be easily explained, if at all. And eventually the light fades for everyone. It's up to us to take advantage of it while it still shines.

#montreal #quebec #canada #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #building #architecture #architecturephotography #sun #shadow #concrete #brick #windows #buildingporn #architectureporn #streetphotography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #urban #street #photography #life #family #is #everything

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Reflecting before departure

Impressionist skyline
Toronto, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Art is everywhere around us. We just need to know where to look.

Like here, reflected on the glass curtain surface of an office building overlooking Union Station. I had been sitting on a train, awaiting a much-delayed departure for home, and found myself staring out the window looking for something, anything that jumped out from the grey blanket that had covered the city since I had first arrived here early this morning.

Winters in Canada are like that. When they’re at their worst, they seemingly suck all the color out of the outdoors, leaving a muddy, monochrome landscape in their wake. For good measure, throw in a dirty rail corridor that’s been under construction for longer than the country has existed. Or so it seems.

But regular trips to the big city have turned this concrete canyon into something approaching familiar territory to me. And this building, with its ever changing reflections, has topped the list. Most days I’m in the wrong car, or on the wrong side, or the light isn’t right, or I’m looking somewhere else as we roll past.

On this grim day, though, It was front-and-centre, and it didn’t take me long to rein in the impressionist/reflective skyline scene you see here. The colors are muted, and the light is lousy. But the result makes me smile all the same.

Because the realities of a Canadian winter mean the perfect conditions probably won’t happen anytime soon. So you make do with what you’ve been given, and look harder for those little snippets of wonder in the greys and the shadows. Sometimes you just get lucky. And when you don’t, there’s always next time.

Maybe this doesn't only apply to photography. Maybe I'll ponder that one on my next trip in.

#toronto #yyz #downtown #union #station #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #glass #mirror #reflection #travel #wanderlust #explore #travelphotography #streetphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #urban #street #photography #lines #life #ontario #canada

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Looking back at where I've been

Fast-receding tracks
Mississauga, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I got lots of stares from fellow passengers as I walked to the back of our swaying train car as it sped west through the hinterlands of southern Ontario, Toronto fast receding behind us.

I'm guessing we've all been so conditioned to follow the herd (or keep our heads down, or stay in our seats, or say nothing, or attract no attention to ourselves, or...) that the very thought of shooting mid-course pics out the back window is anathema to us, something heretics might do, but certainly not the rest of us.

But I didn't remember seeing any written rules banning the practice, so back there I went. It isn't often, after all, that you get to see the railbed unravel itself behind you, and I wasn't about to miss a chance to enjoy something so unique and rare.

Because what's a journey if you don't make at least some attempt to make it special? What's the point if we limit every experience to the narrow band expected by the herd? What's the point of following the herd in the first place?

To these questions, I have no answers, and doubt I ever will.

#toronto #yyz #ldnont #yxu #london #ontario #canada #via #viarail #train #trains #trainspotting #trainstagram #rail #travel #travelphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #photography #family #is #everything

Friday, February 15, 2019

Step toward the light

One stair at a time
London, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I climb and descend this staircase dozens of times a day. Because despite the plethora of communication tools on my laptop, phone, and tablet - email, Slack, Jabber, SMS, voicemail, videoconference, etc. - sometimes the best way to get something done is to have a good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation with someone.

I also spend most of my day sitting on my duff stringing words together on a screen, so it's not a bad idea to go for a quick wander around the building every once in a while. Gotta be healthy, after all.

Rarely do I stop to enjoy the view, though - largely because knowing me I'd probably fall and break something crucial - but that doesn't mean there aren't exceptions. Like on this late Friday afternoon, as the setting sun painted the historic brick starkly enough for me to freeze in place and take it in. As the workweek drew to a close, I could almost feel it in the atmosphere around me, the well-wishes to colleagues for a restful weekend, the gratitude to others for making the past week such a success. We do that here; another sign of what draws us to work in this special place.

A colleague asked me what I was up to, and I explained. She nodded agreement and said she needed to slow down and do the same, to hit the brakes every once in a while and enjoy the view. Which got me thinking: We may move a million miles an hour around here, but there's always time - even if it's just a few seconds - to stop and appreciate all that surrounds us.

And on this brilliantly sunny Friday afternoon, there was much to appreciate.

#ldnont #life #kingandridout #345ridout #downtown #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #brick #concrete #lines #sun #shadow #london #ontario #canada #google #pixel2 #teampixel Info-Tech Research Group @nicholsonsheffieldarchitects #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A long line of ice wine

Drink up!
Toronto, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It was a quiet Sunday night at Canada's largest airport. The weather wasn't threatening, the crowds were nowhere to be seen, and the entire terminal seemed to be immersed in a calm kind of hush, a relaxed vibe that masked the usual chaos this place served up virtually every other time I'd passed through previously.

Thanks to repeated delays, I had lots of time to kill. So instead of walking at speed, head-down as I watched the clock, I instead strolled through the near-empty halls, my eyes wandering across every visible surface, looking for something to inspire me.

I didn't have to look long, as this ice wine kiosk in the middle of the concourse was but 20 steps away from the gate. I initially hesitated to shoot it, because I feared the workers there would shoo me away. But after a quick scan, I realized no one was around, not here, or at any of the adjacent stores. Weird, but I wasn't about to complain.

I quickly got to work and before long, I had what I wanted. As I turned to put the phone away, another update from the airline popped up announcing yet another delay. I pulled the phone back out and looked around for more inspiration.

Because when the universe gives you a little extra time to explore a space that brightens your soul, it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity.

#toronto #yyz #pearson #international #airport #ontario #canada #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada Air Canada #flight #flying #aviation #glass #avgeek #orlando #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #family #is #everything

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Stuck at the airport

Impressionism on an airport floor
Toronto, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Sunday, 9:30 p.m. in Terminal 1, Pier F, at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Our plane should have been in the air well over an hour ago, but here we still sit, waiting for Air Canada to fix a busted 767. As strangers around me grumble at another seemingly boneheaded move by our national airline, I find myself at a fork in the road: Either join in the whine-fest, or walk away.

I choose the latter, as I just don't have the bandwidth to deal with negativity. I can't change the outcome, anyway. Can't fix our jet, or magically summon another. Or get us there any faster. Frankly, considering the complexity, safety, and affordability of flight, it's a wonder delays like this don't happen more often. I'm thankful that sitting on my duff for an extra few hours represents the biggest challenge I've faced all day.

On the plus side, I'm in Pearson's newest terminal. The ceilings soar and the floors gleam, and I've been making mental notes since I first walked in here, Post-Its for photos I want to take later.

Well, later is now. So I stroll the corridors alone, and when I get to this spot, I shift left, then right, then back, and again in a bit of a circle, to find the right angle, the right kind of reflection. The metering is a bit of a challenge, but eventually I figure it out. One airport employee stops to watch. I pretend not to notice, but I smile inside as I see her out of the corner of my eye.

I don't know how many visitors have walked past this very spot and ignored the abstract/impressionist reflections beaming out of the store at the other end of the corridor. But it's not my place to count. All I care about is taking a could-have-been-lost moment and making it memorable. I'm guessing mission accomplished, but I expect other similar moments to present themselves before long. Because the flip side of a delay is having a little more time to breathe.

#toronto #yyz #pearson #international #airport #ontario #canada #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada Air Canada #flight #flying #aviation #reflection #avgeek #orlando #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #family #is #everything

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Looking back while flying away

Saying goodbye, for now
Somewhere between London & Toronto, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Our daughter once gave me a piece of photographic advice - "Just take the lousy picture, Dad." - that I carry with me to this day.

What she meant was simple: Stop fretting over photographic perfection, because not all photos are meant to be perfect. Sometimes a quick, crappy snap is enough to remember the moment before you move onto the next.

This one, then, should be a poster child for the crappy photo. We were climbing to altitude out of London International Airport, headed to Toronto's Pearson, en route to our conference in Orlando. I looked back through the window of our commuter turboprop - Dash 8 Q400 - and saw the loveliest sunset-fuelled colors reflecting off the back of the engine nacelle. It was hardly an ideal shot, as the windows were all scratched and smudged, and the interior reflections made it almost impossible to see out.

But I was still moved, still felt this was, somehow, a special moment. I couldn't help but think the sun was shining for a reason - one last burst of color before we flew into the darkness. It felt like the universe was smiling at me, wishing me a safe trip ahead.

Or maybe it was just a reminder to look over our shoulders every once in a while. Not because we're suspicious or fearful, but because it never hurts to know where we've come from as we embark on a long, complex journey. A little somewhat-compromised optical grounding is always good for the soul. My kid, she's wise.

#ldnont #london #toronto #pearson #international #airport #ontario #canada #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #aircanada Air Canada​ #flight #flying #sky #sunset #weather #wx #orlando  #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #family #is #everything

Monday, February 11, 2019

Home of the dancing waters

Time stands still, for now
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
In the middle of a string of days that flowed chaotically from one to another, the fountain just outside my hotel became something of a home base for me. As I walked to or from the conference venue each morning and evening, I'd stop beside it and take in the soothing white noise and mist for a quick moment before continuing on my way.

I've always had a thing for fountains, as they're something of an oasis of coolness and quiet in the middle of an otherwise turbulent environment. I wish I had more time to shoot them, as they offer up endless possibilities for abstract photography. But the world doesn't much care that I enjoy dancing water, so a quick snap was all I could get on this particular trip before I needed to get back to the conference, the stage, the reason I came here in the first place.

Still, the temporary nature sticks with me. Chances are the water will never look quite like this again. In a blink of an eye, this specific scene is gone, replaced in a similar blink by another one, then another, and countless others in an endless not-quite-repetitive cycle. You content yourself with whatever random result you get, as you don't have much choice of, or control over, what you get.

As I continue my way to the conference site, I think about that word, control. When I'm on-stage in a little while, I'll do my best to control the moment, to maximize the potential for a successful delivery, to avoid crashing and burning in front of an audience of influential folks.

But I also realize that, like the dancing waters, I can't control everything, and some things must be left to chance. I suppose that's the way life is supposed to play out even if we wish that weren't the case.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #hilton #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #high #speed #photography #water #fountain #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Poolside impressionism

Feeling reflective
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
My late father used to say any day he woke up above the grass instead of below it was a good day. He was right, of course, but I think there's room for more: Any day we get is a gift, and some days are better than others.

Thursday was a better-than-others day. We had just wrapped up a 3-day conference in Orlando, and after changing into something a little comfier, we gathered around the pool to decompress and reflect. I'm lucky in so many ways, including the fact that I genuinely like the people I work with. It's a tech research company, so everyone around me is freaking brilliant. And kind. So as I often do when I feel comfortable, I grabbed my camera. I settled on the water, because for something that has no inherent color, it's pretty good at reflecting its environment. You change the scene simply by changing your perspective. Crazy how that works, no?

By now, my colleagues are well aware of my little addiction, so they happily suggested what I might want to shoot next. I'm admittedly not 100% pleased with this near-impressionistic, wave-scattered mirror. If I could shoot it again, I'd use a different camera, take more time. But that wasn't the point. This pic is just a placeholder, a marker of a moment where everything felt right, where we celebrated, briefly, an experience that reinforced why we love what we do.

The outside world awaited us all, and we gradually melted off to catch flights home or elsewhere, to return to the more grey-tinged routines that awaited us at the other end. I needed to remember that feeling of contentment before it, too, evaporated for good. This photo isn't worth a thousand words - indeed, it contains no words at all, because some moments are best felt, not described. I'm glad this was another above-the-grass day. I'd hate to have missed out.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #rosencentre #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #pool #poolside #reflective #reflection #water #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #instagood #photooftheday #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Fly away home (again)

Sacred ground
London, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A little over 22 years ago, I flew into London for the very first time, in an Air Ontario Dash 8 Series 100. I remember the moment vividly as the plane dropped out of the clouds and the landscape snapped into view, the seemingly endless carpet of green and grey squares looking and feeling nothing like the suburbs of Montreal where I grew up. It was a couple of months before we were scheduled to move here, relocated by my employer, and in that moment I wondered if plopping my family into a relatively small-ish city in the middle of Ontario's rich agricultural belt was a smart move.

Yesterday, on my way home from a successful conference in Orlando, I dropped out of the same clouds. This time I was on a newer version of that old Dash 8, the Q400, flown by the regional feeder airline, Air Canada Jazz, that swallowed Air Ontario up soon after we moved here. The ground looked much the same now as it did then: Endless squares, lying fallow, waiting for life to return in spring.

The only difference? I wasn't exploring some new land; I was coming home. These days, I know the landscape, the stories that make our corner of the planet unique, the people who make it a community. Our community. Somewhere under the clouds on the horizon was our home. My wife was waiting for me in the airport.

The snapshots may have indeed looked the same, but my connection to this place had become far tighter in the ensuing 22 years. Indeed, the concept of "home" had shifted. Those farms below my window were no longer strange-looking signatures of some faraway place, and I smiled to myself as I waited to meet my wife in the place we had painstakingly made our own.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #trip #air #flight #flying #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #instatravel #photography #winter #weather #wx #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #life #family #is #everything

Friday, February 08, 2019

Urban palm tree forest

Stand tall
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Early morning in Orlando, and I'm walking from the hotel to the concert venue. The sun has just broken through the cloudy horizon and is bathing everything in the kind of gauzy yellow light that makes even the grittiest of landscapes look magazine-worthy. And since I've got six lanes of high-speed traffic on one side, and a parking garage and a gas station on the other, gritty is where I now find myself.

The clock is ticking, and not in a good way. I've got to get to the event site, settle into my spot beside the stage, check my run-of-show, connect with the A/V team to ensure they have everything they need, and then just run everything through my head until it feels like a comfy mitten. I need every second I can get, and I don't want to arrive feeling rushed. But that divine light is begging for a moment, and it's up to me to decide whether or not I take it.

To no one's surprise, I stop at a particularly well-lit palm tree. The light will be gone in less than two minutes, but fortunately I need to be moving again before then. I shoot fast and am soon on my way. The sun fades behind a bank of clouds before I reach the first intersection.

Thankfully, I arrive with plenty of time to spare, and the day goes extremely well. Later, I linger over this photo on my phone, a now-tangible reminder of the day I slowed time down just enough to remember the journey. I smile as I think about journeys far from home, and why I do weird stuff like this in the first place.

Because if my family is going to sacrifice while I'm away, the least I can do is try to tell the story of the things I saw and felt when I wasn't with them. On this day, it's a palm tree trunk. Next time? I'll figure that out when the moment presents itself.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #hilton #rosencentre #hotel #roadtrip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #palm #tree #nature #naturephotography #sunrise #light #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Twisting by the pool

Feeling reflective
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A funny thing happens to people when you tell them you're in Florida: Almost without exception, they assume you're on vacation.

I wish. Most days here start with a walk in the dark to the conference venue, long hours of non-stop action, then another walk back to the hotel late in the evening. I'm working on 3-4 hours of sleep per night, because there just aren't enough hours to get it all done. I don't say that to complain, as I love what I do, the people I do it with, and the feeling we all get from pursuing a mission that matters, but simply to reinforce the reality of weeks like this: They're marathons.

And yet, in the middle of it all, I find myself stealing minutes here and there in between being on-stage, wrangling updated PowerPoint decks from the brilliant analysts presenting here, working with the A/V crew, and ensuring I don't starve alone the way. Like the moment in the sun yesterday that I managed to snag as I worked with our social media director on a day-2-roundup video for our LinkedIn followers.

We shot the video using my smartphone, a tripod, my laptop, a couple of lounge chairs, and a wooden box we've jerry-rigged to ensure everything's at eye-level. We got a lot of stares from women in bathing suits who probably thought we were shooting an Access Hollywood expose. It was great fun.

When we were done, we had a few minutes to take the scene in as we waited for the phone to upload the video to the cloud. It struck me as surreal that, despite the fact that we were working flat-out, we were still sitting poolside on a warm, sunny, breezy day.

Sometimes you just have to hit pause so you can count your blessings. The moment may be brief, but preciousness and duration are never directly linked, anyway.

#orlando #florida #infotechlive #rosencentre #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #pool #poolside #reflective #reflection #water #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Snack food powers the world

Got nuts?
Orlando, FL
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I’m nowhere near home this week. Sunday afternoon, my lovely wife dropped me off at the airport, and before long I was winging my way south, where I find myself MCing a conference for my company.

We’re in Orlando, Florida, and depending on which window I use in my hotel, I can see the roller coasters, ferris wheels and other rides at Disney World and elsewhere. Thankfully I’m not a huge fan of Mickey, so I don’t feel like I’m missing much. This is a work trip, and I’m focused on making this conference, #InfoTechLive, an incredible success for my colleagues and, most critically, our members. Being able to spend time in an intense learning environment with our members for the better part of a week is quite the privilege. You learn what makes them tick, and you deepen your commitment to the mission of helping them raise their game. I’m beyond lucky to be on this path, and events like this are great reminders.

The days start before dawn and continue until long after dark. There isn’t much sleep to be had, but that’s by no means a negative, as we can always catch up on zees when we return home. The time crunch makes moments like this that much more precious, and I try to use my ninja approach to photography - shoot fast, shoot weird, smile while you do it, look for smiles in others around you - to connect with other attendees, and to help them remember their time here with us.

The photo, of the snack bowls served during yesterday's mid-afternoon break, is admittedly oddball, but it tells a story of a bunch of really smart folks from diverse backgrounds gathering around an unexpectedly joyous little treat in the middle of a busy trip. As we filled up, the chatter turned to small wonders in distant places, and the ability of a simple catering choice to make a difference in the lives of others. The guy in the background? Say hi to Larry, one of the smartest people I know.

More from the road soon...

#orlando #florida #rosencentre #hotel #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #photography #food #foodporn #instafood #snack #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #hiring #family #is #everything

Monday, February 04, 2019

Dirty girl

Hold on
London, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's plainly obvious that Henrietta the Honda 2.0 desperately needs a wash. She's as filthy as she is thanks largely to the combination of a Canadian winter and my not having the time or patience to bring her to a proper car wash. I guess keeping the car clean hasn't been my top priority of late. Such is life.

But dirty doesn't mean uninteresting. I'm pretty sure "dirty car" doesn't rocket to the top of most people's shot lists, yet for reasons I cannot understand or explain, it resonates with me. Perhaps it's because there are so many variations of filthiness, and we all spend a good chunk of our life covered in something.

In a way, the dirt you see here tells the story of our little family's life, the pre-dawn drives to get the kids to campus or the late night excursions to bring them home, the grocery runs, the 9-ish hour slogs to Montreal, the getting lost in the hinterlands between here and there. Henrietta's red paint wears these trips like a badge of honor, and as I walk up to her and take in her smudgy flanks, I can almost read the story of where we've gone, and what we felt as we drove there, together.

Somehow, cleaning it off at this point just doesn't seem right. I know Henrietta will continue to pick up fragments of the places she's been, and those dirty fragments will continue to tell other stories. But I'm not yet ready to let go of the ones we've just finished telling.

#ldnont #honda #civic #civicnation #red #color #winter #weather #wx #spontaneous #driveway #shoot #shooting #urban #street #photography #car #carporn #cargram #auto #vehicle #automotive #google #pixel2 #teampixel #london #ontario #canada

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Icicle Works, Revisited

A losing battle with temperature
London, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The upside of a Canadian winter - and don't get me wrong, for all my whining about living in the Great White North, there are many upsides that more than compensate for the inconvenience of it all - is the never-ending parade of visual wonders that present themselves to us, often close to home. Or, in this case, literally ON my home, hanging from the roof's edge just beyond our front door.

There's a lesson in this singular icicle slowly losing its battle against the warming temperatures, and I'm thinking it has something to do with the universality of the forces that shape the world around us. We can't control any of it, but we sure can slow things down every once in a while so we can take it all in. I'm lucky to live in a place where this is even possible.

I know the presence of an icicle means I've probably got some inefficiencies in my roof, some insulation that isn't insulating, or some other less-than-ideal eco-related thing that's forcing some of that precious heated air out, when it should be staying in.

But that doesn't change the fact that for a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon, I got to watch droplets fall from the tip of a melting icicle. Small wonders, after all, deserve to be appreciated wherever and whenever they present themselves.

#ldnont #life #ice #icicle #works #winter #wx #monochrome #black #white #bokeh #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #instagood #photooftheday #london #ontario #canada #family #is #everything

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Clinging to life

London, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've been shooting (let's clarify: photos) long enough that certain trends have become obvious. Family, dog, car, bike, and technology are the ones that jump to the front. Ivy, though, kinda makes me scratch my head. What is it about ivy that stops me dead in my tracks?

Honestly, I have no idea. About ivy, or anything else that makes me freaking tick. To wit: Devo's "Jimmy's in a Wheelchair" pops into my head with alarming frequency. I can't explain why, much to my poor wife's consternation.

But I digress. Back to ivy. I'm thinking it's a tenacity thing. This scraggly plant stretches itself out over crumbling brick in the middle of a hostile urban environment. No one waters it or otherwise cares for it. The mean streets - or just a local pack of badly trained dogs - probably do their best to kill it. It doesn't even look like much, especially in winter when it usually looks dead enough that you wonder if it'll come back in spring.

Yet, against all odds, it does. With a sense of defiance that seems to speak to me as I stand on the sidewalk in the biting winter wind and ponder its silent, overlooked existence. If a stupid sprig of ivy can survive all this, then I'm guessing I can, too. And so can you.

#ldnont #yxu #downtown #ivy #building #88york #york #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #google #pixel2 #teampixel #explore #urban #street #photography #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #life #london #ontario #canada #family #is #everything

Friday, February 01, 2019

Mind the edge, please

Little, yellow, different
Toronto, ON
January 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to shoot this close to the edge of the platform. While I made darn sure there were no people or trains nearby, I still cracked a smile as I crouched down and composed. I imagined what it must look like to others, the relatively put-together guy in the tie and pea coat taking artsy pictures in the middle of a busy, drafty, dirty public space.

They probably thought I was insane. They likely weren't far off.

I don't fully understand why I do this, time and again. Countless people pass through here uneventfully every day. They join the herd, heads down, walking quietly, attracting no attention in the process. Yet In the middle of my own long commute home, after a productive, non-stop day in the big city to the east that got underway well before dawn, following the herd is the last thing on my mind.

I suspect losing my brother, riding the inevitable aftershocks that followed, and navigating my father-in-law's illness have all changed me in ways I may never fully understand. I suspect having a stroke a few years back also irrevocably changed me, prompting me to view the world around me through a different lens. I'm less inclined to ask permission, wait for an answer, or care too much about what others think of me. I'm not about to rob a bank, but I'm also not going to stand meekly by out of fear someone might object if I step forward. Or out. I'll follow my own path, and if that means a few raised eyebrows, I'm good with that. If that makes me a bit of a badass, too, I'll take it.

Maybe there's a broader lesson in this seemingly simple photo. Maybe we should all be looking for opportunities to step out from the herd, if only for a moment, and do something that makes us crack a smile. Maybe the next time I come through this otherwise-soulless place seemingly built to reinforce anonymity, I won't be crouched down alone. Maybe we can commit to looking a little harder for slivers of light in unexpected places.

#toronto #yyz #the6ix #yonge #bloor #ontario #canada #ttc #subway #downtown #travel #travelphotography #streetphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #photography #family #is #everything