Tuesday, April 30, 2019

It only looks like a puppy

All natural, all the time
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
For as much as the future of groceries will likely become increasingly e-commerce and technology-driven, present-day realities still dictate periodic trips to conventional stores, where we hang out and play with actual produce before tossing the whole enchilada into a squeaky-wheeled cart and lining up with the other proles at the checkout aisle. It looks and feels a lot like grocery runs with my dad when I was a kid, and that’s strangely comforting.

Also comforting is getting up close and personal in the fruits and vegetables section. Because unlike the boxes and bottles of processed unmentionables that fill the rest of the store, this stuff has texture. And soul. I’ll never get tired of shooting here. Or in any other kind of grocery/retail environment.

I do, of course, have to move quickly lest the grocery cops take exception to my, ah, addiction. A sense of humor and a well-placed smile or two also come in handy, because folks tend to let you get away with stuff when you’re nice. At least that’s what I’ve been told.

None of this is groundbreaking. The resulting photos won't merit frames and over-the-mantel positions of honor. They won't be iconic, or turned into posters for kids to plaster their walls. Not every photo is about the photo.

But that’s entirely the point. Because I’ve found these seemingly trivial shoots to be just the kind of little experiences that take the edge off of a challenging chapter. Because it’s hard to frown when you’re staring at a giant root that sort of looks like a puppy. Because it’s hard to ignore the old lady over there who’s smiling as she watches the moment unfold. Because the how can matter more than the what. Because in-public, on-the-street photography has always been a remarkable way to connect. And our world needs more, and better, ways to connect.

I’m not saying I have the answers. I am saying we owe it to ourselves to keep trying.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #stilllife #photography #streetphotography #fruitography #grocery #store #supermarket #shop #shopping #retail #sweet #potato #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everythıng

Monday, April 29, 2019

The first ride

Just add rubber
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
After weeks of kicking myself for doing nothing, I finally dusted off the pink wonderbike yesterday and took it for its - and by extension, my - first ride of the season.

I'll be brutally honest: I was afraid to get back on the road. With each passing year, motorists get more distracted, more adversarial, more aggressive, less tolerant of anyone else sharing "their" road. I worry I'll end up on the wrong end of someone's grille, simply because I chose two wheels in a world designed for four.

For the record, I also drive a car. And I wish more motorists would get some pedal-time in, as well. Empathy and understanding are good things.

Our city, in its infinite car-centric, rapid-transit-killing wisdom, thinks painted lines will protect commuting cyclists. With all due respect, our city is dead wrong. We need separated, protected lanes across the city, not a disconnected patchwork of paint that often dissolves into nothingness with virtually no warning, leaving cyclists at the mercy of impatient, high-speed traffic. You really do need ice in your veins to ride in this town.

But the alternative - not riding - is worse. I decided yesterday I'd rather live with a bit of fear than miss cycling entirely. It's simply too much fun, too good for us, and for those around us, to not get out there just because we're scared. Because nothing changes if the bike stays home.

For what it's worth, the ride was glorious, and it only whetted my appetite for more. So look out for the guy on the pink StumpJumper. It's my road, too, and I have no intention of giving up my right to enjoy it safely and collaboratively.

What a world it would be if cities would finally stop treating cycling as some kind of fringe activity that threatens the status quo. Indeed, it is precisely that status quo that'll render our cities unlivable if we sit back and do nothing.

Ride safely, my friends.

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

Sunday, April 28, 2019

They kill Jews. And Muslims. And Christians...

London, ON
February 2012
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Another day, another vicious hate crime against Jews. This one in a Poway, California synagogue, six months to the day since a Jew-hating gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue. See a pattern here?

Although it seems like the stuff of nightmares, you're not imagining it. The drumbeat of anti-semitism has been getting louder of late, with Anti Defamation League data confirming a 57% increase in Jew-targeted acts in the U.S. in 2017, the largest single-year increase ever. Those swastikas showing up on Jewish homes overnight? Not just punks with paint.

But let's not kid ourselves: If you're Muslim, or Christian, or any other identifiable religious group, you're at risk, too. Muslims slaughtered in Christchurch and Quebec City. Christians blown to bits in Sri Lanka. All because they had the temerity to express their faith.

No doubt today's political climate contributes to the spike we see now. But, again, hatred has been with us forever. Thanks to dog-whistled support from the highest offices in the land, it's simply emerging from the shadows. The irony that the same politicians fuelling today's hate-driven fire have the unmitigated gall to tweet out the now-de-rigeur thoughts-and-prayers stupidity should enrage us all.

I almost don't know what to say anymore, or what to do. I read the San Diego gunman's so-called manifesto, a screed so filled with hatred that the mind struggles to understand how someone can become so warped. It makes me fear for humanity's future.

Key word in my previous paragraph: Almost. We can't afford to be silent. Because cowering in fear only gives power to those who hate, allows them - and the leaders who validate them - the room and resources they need to expand their malevolent, society-killing influence.

We must also stand together, because an attack on one religion is an attack on all of us, and a cancer that can and will ultimately reach our homes, our communities, no matter who we are or where we live.

Because if they haven't come for you yet, your silence ensures they eventually will.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #jewish #tradition #synagogue #antisemitism #judaism #christianity #islam #religion #together #enough

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Abstract matza

Edible, sort of
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Dear Internet,

Can you see what I see?


#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #passover #pesach #holiday #matzah #kosher #jewish #judaism #tradition #indigestion #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family

Friday, April 26, 2019

Scene from a parking lot

Civic Nation, at rest
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It’s Wednesday, 6:05 a.m., and I’m on my way to the big city to the east for a day packed with cool work with cool people. Taking the train in means getting in long before the rest of the city is awake, and returning long after the streets go quiet.

It also means a quick drive to the office to drop the car off before I walk the remaining few blocks to pick up the train. And on this morning, the parking lot is especially quiet. I’m running a few minutes ahead of schedule, so I take a beat to take in a space that’s normally crammed with cars and the frenetic movement of a fast-growing company.

There’s a certain poetry to the way the building’s light spills out much as an oasis might. There’s no one inside right now, but it still has an energy that makes me want to stick around a little bit longer as the sky continues to brighten.

But the clock continues to tick, and I need to continue the journey. Because even perfect moments like this eventually have to end. Tomorrow’s another day, and as I turn into the street and feel the damp wind through my jacket, I promise myself I’ll find some other way to remember whatever I come across then, too.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #345ridout #infotechrg #parking #downtown #urban #street #photography #honda #civic #civicnation #car #carporn #cargram #auto #vehicle #automotive #red #color #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Looking sideways into history

Step carefully
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Look closely at the little details around you.
Because the big stuff is often too overwhelming to take in all at once.
So you put the blinders on.
And focus on one thing only.

Before long, you see things you didn't see before.
Like the texture on the side of the staircase.
That you climb and descend dozens of times a day.
But never really stop to appreciate.
Until now.

You almost feel like you're going back in time.
To when history was the present.
When this part of the building was outside.
Instagram didn't exist.
No one had a smartphone.
And even phones were still a new thing.

Time has a funny way of reshaping the world around us.
But the story means nothing if we don't stop what we're doing.
And hear the whispers.
Of the now-vanished people who laid the foundation for today.
And allowed us to climb into whatever opportunities await us above.

#ldnont #kingandridout #345ridout #downtown #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #brick #concrete #stairs #monochrome #london #ontario #canada #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #infotechrg @nicholsonsheffieldarchitects #workhardplayhard #family #everything

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

That fresh groomed feeling

Pretty again
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Someone wasn't too happy after her grooming appointment yesterday. She gets this way whenever she loses 20% of her body weight in fur. A little cowed, like a canine version of a sad clown.

Even on our late-evening walk, she whimpered more than usual and had to be coaxed to continue. Usually she bounces down the sidewalk. Not this time.

It's hard to know what she knows, but I hope deep inside that lovely head of hers, she knows she needs an occasional trim, that the mattes that had crept into her fur needed to be taken care of. That her humans will always do what's right for her, and she can always feel safe and loved.

Either way, she's getting extra hugs and treats, which I'm hoping are enough to return her to her usual boisterous self before long. Because as far as I can tell, dogs can't be sad. There's a rule somewhere, I think. And even if I'm wrong, I still contend it's our job to make them happy.

For all the good they bring to the world, we owe them at least that much.

#Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #LittleMissCalli #dog #puppy #schnauzerlife #schnauzermini #schnauzerpuppy #minischnauzersofinstagram #schnauzersofinstagram #minischnauzer #miniatureschnauzer #miniatureschnauzers #minischnauzers #schnauzergram #miniatureschnauzersofinstagram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #family #everything #ldnont #london #ontario #canada @schnauzer_planet @schnauzerworld

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Not-so-little green men

Alleyway alien
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
They lurk in the shadows of the city, hastily-painted creations usually perceived more as nuisances than art. While some of them pop up in the corner of your eye as you walk the streets, most are well hidden in alleyways, in the darkened nooks behind buildings, in the places most of us would never go.

Yet as I walk the downtown streets kissed for the first time in days by a warming springtime sun, I find myself veering, often, off my defined path in search of these hidden gems, painted by folks I'll probably never meet, but wish I could.

Don't get me wrong, there's graffiti and there's art. Badly scrawled tags and words I can't use on-air deserve to disappear as quickly as they first appear. Yet amid the chaos and the wasted spray paint, there are flashes of genius we'd do well to take in before they, too, disappear from the urban landscape. I suspect we need better filters to decide what does and does not contribute to the urban fabric.

I have no idea who painted this one. But I can't help but think whoever it is deserves to find another, perhaps more legitimate, permanent, and lucrative canvas to share their work. Because art can often happen in places you'd least expect. I'd hate to miss out because I was busy judging the venue.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #downtown #urban #street #photography #graffiti #art #streetart #graffitiart #mural #urbanart #green #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, April 22, 2019

Adult Tonka Toy

They put up a parking lot
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Perspective is a fascinating thing. Stand on the ground and this tractor is massive beyond description. But head up a couple of storeys and view it from on-high and it becomes more like the toys we played with as children.

I keep reminding myself of that simple fact, that where we stand can change the tone, the flavor, the trajectory of whatever it is that we're looking at. Get closer for more detail, pull back for some context. Move up, down or all around to place that whatever-it-is differently, relative to whatever else happens to be around it. Even when the world around you seems static, you have the power to change it, simply by moving. Or squinting your eyes just so. Optics and perspective - I'll never get tired of playing with them both.

Somewhere deep in my head - or maybe it's my soul - I think there's a broader lesson there, that with a little more thought I can unlock one of those elusive keys to life and hopefully figure out a better way to navigate my way through it. But it's Monday, and the cumulative weight of the last few months is sitting on my shoulders a little more heavily today. The truth is I don't have magic answers to much of anything, let alone the giant tractor sitting just outside my office window. All I can do is look out that window and try to see it in a way that makes me want to remember the scene, to capture the moment.

If it makes me - and others - smile, or think, or reflect, then I've succeeded. The bigger, life-changing stuff will have to wait.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #downtown #kingandridout #345ridout #infotechrg #construction #building #renovation #contractor #engineering #project #big #yellow #tractor #urban #street #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Dog shelter

In her own perfect world
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
She has no idea that the world is filled with hatred, no clue when headlines blare the latest human-fuelled tragedy from afar. Or not so afar.

It's a cloistered existence for her, no worries beyond the rabbits who scamper through her backyard or the squirrels who torment her from the other side of the window. She thinks they represent the ultimate existential threat. If only.

Perhaps it's just as well that Sri Lanka means nothing to her, that she'll never register in her Schnauzer brain that people willingly kill others not for survival, but for no reason at all beyond blind rage.

The now-standard wave of statements from world leaders in the aftermath of the bombings in Colombo included at least a few references to the killers as "animals".

Sorry, but I don't buy it. Because not even animals would wantonly take the lives of others for no reason at all. This is what humans have become, and we should all be saddened and ashamed.

Life as a dog looks better and better with each passing day.

#Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #LittleMissCalli #dog #puppy #schnauzerlife #schnauzermini #schnauzerpuppy #minischnauzersofinstagram #schnauzersofinstagram #minischnauzer #miniatureschnauzer #miniatureschnauzers #minischnauzers #schnauzergram #miniatureschnauzersofinstagram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #family #everything #ldnont #london #ontario #canada @schnauzer_planet @schnauzerworld

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Spontaneous roadside photography

As the rain begins to fall
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
When the winds begin to blow and the skies open up, most of us head for shelter. Which is a bit of a pity, because we end up missing the unique - and temporary - sight of Mother Nature repainting the landscape.

This is the railing in the middle of the Horton Street bridge that crosses the Thames River that snakes its way through the middle of town. The rain-splattered surface tells the story of a gathering storm, of skies opening up, of a miserable moment in a miserable place where pedestrians rarely want to be.

No one gives this sliver of the city a second thought, so busy are they rushing either east or west. This is true when the weather is lovely, and even more so when it turns dark.

Yet here I am, because life doesn’t always deposit you in the most perfect of places at the most perfect of times. The challenge is to make the most of what we’ve been given, so I grab the one frame as quickly as I can before I book it back to shelter, and home.

Stories from inhospitable places, told at times when everyone else flees for shelter. Sounds like a theme to me.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #downtown #urban #street #photography #grey #sky #rain #weather #wx #thames #river #bridge #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #bokeh #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Structures, up close

A bridge too far
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Here's a fun thing for you to try the next time you're out and about: Walk right up to something - a building, a streetlamp, or pretty much whatever you wish - and stare at it for a while.

I can guarantee you'll get stared at, as well, by strangers who will doubtless think you're a weirdo. But ignore them.

Instead, stand your ground, keep doing what you do, and enjoy the process of appreciating something you've probably never really appreciated previously. Enjoy hitting pause on everything and everyone else, even if it's just for a few fleeting moments.

This is the pedestrian bridge a few steps away from my office. I had some extra time to kill on a sunny Saturday morning, so I slung my Nikon over my shoulder and took a walk.

I spent a while walking the wooden-slat walkway under the century-old trusswork, ducking between the shadows and feeling the magic of this often overlooked structure. It took a while for the visuals to firm themselves up in my head, but eventually I got the photos I was destined to get.

I was indeed stared at. So I smiled back. Maybe next time they'll bring their cameras, too. We could always use more eyes looking at things whose stories aren't told as much as they deserve.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #photography #monochrome #king #bridge #civil #engineering #design #lines #perspective #thames #river #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Shooting flora in the pouring rain

Life happens everywhere
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: A desolate section of Horton Street just south of London's downtown. I'm walking back to my car after picking up my wonder-laptop from the wizards at Mac Outpost who fixed it (pro tip: Always shop local. You're welcome.)

For reasons that make precious little sense in the cold light of hindsight-informed logic, I decided to walk the 1.5 km from the office because, well, we could all do with a little more walking. But it has now begun to rain. Deep inside my brain, it dawns on me that perhaps walking wasn't the best choice. And yet, here I am. Life doesn't always go according to plan, and I'm good with that.

As I approach the bridge over the river, I notice these awesome plants swaying over the steep riverbank. The texture is divine, even in this dull, muddy, rain-flecked light. I should probably continue walking quickly - there's that logic thing again - but they grab my eye and refuse to let go. It's been an ugly week, so a surprise photographic antidote to the ugliness is a welcome sight.

You never know where you'll find inspiration. Often, it presents itself in the most unexpected places. You just have to allow yourself the luxury of appreciating it. Because in the end, scenes like this are less luxury than necessity.

P.S. I got royally soaked. And I didn't care.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #downtown #urban #street #photography #grey #sky #rain #weather #wx #thames #river #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My steampunk glass commute

Where's Waldo?
Toronto, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A quarter of a million people pass through Toronto's Union Station every day. The vast majority of them slog along filthy concrete walkways, dodging hastily rearranged construction cladding and precariously dangling temporary light fixtures and cables as they shuffle, sheep-like, into and out of the serpentine tunnels that stretch out from this massive hub like an oil rig's undersea pipes.

Some, however, get to walk high up, through these steampunk-esque glass-and-iron monstrosities that, more than anything else, define this incredible space and challenge the teeming masses who pass underneath it to break their monotonous downward gazes and look up for a change.

I haven't had enough time to explore this space, so the way into this glass-enclosed wonder remains a mystery to me. Perhaps on my next visit I'll carve out enough time to a) find the way in, and b) not get hopelessly lost in the process.

But until then, this photo will have to do. Which explains the spontaneous grumbling from those around me as I step out of the current of commuters and point my lens toward this delightful glass monstrosity. The grumbling is worth it, because a little sense of wonder in the middle of a long journey has got to be good for the soul. That's enough for me to crack a smile as I tuck my camera back away, heft my backpack over my shoulder and continue toward my train home. I'm sure I'll have more stories to tell about this place on my next trip in.

#toronto #union #station #ontario #canada #viarail #train #downtown #building #glass #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #travel #monochrome #urban #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bright light on an historic stage

Fresnel, not Fresno
Toronto, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
They say you shouldn't stare directly at bright lights. But I've never really cared who "they" are, anyway. So last week, when I noticed the really neat stage light lurking in the shadows of the stage at work, I found a 10-second sliver of time to steal the shot in between takes.

First, some background: Our Toronto office - where my super-smart colleagues create IT research and support our members across North America and the globe - is a former concert hall. Wait, ignore that: It still IS a concert hall, and is available for bookings during off-hours.

Back in the day, Led Zeppelin played here, as did Pearl Jam, the Ramones, the Tragically Hip, and virtually every other rock band you've ever lusted after. The Rolling Stones loved the place so much they used it to practice whenever they were in town.

These days, I'm here just about every week to shoot new segments of our #InfoTechBrief video series. We try to mix things up a little, shooting in different parts of this historic building to give our work a varying visual signature. But we always come back to the concert hall, where I stand on the same stage where Mick Jagger once danced. Even better, many of my colleagues have vivid memories of coming here for concerts before our company bought the building.

So I almost feel a responsibility to capture the feel of this place, even if it means ducking into the shadows while our beloved production team sets up for the next shot. We're pretty blessed to get to do what we do, in this hallowed place, and a random photo seems like an appropriate way to remember what it feels like to be here.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #yonge #street #888yonge #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #downtown #design #life #travel #explore #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, April 15, 2019

Holding onto history

London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
At first glance, it's just a door handle, a simply curved slice of, I'm guessing, iron, bolted to a door just a few metres away from my office home away from home.

But the word "just" seems so inadequate around here, where every seemingly simple fixture, from door handles to window frames to the subtle arches in the brickwork, has its own story begging to be told. I often stop as I walk the halls to admire the tiny details that would otherwise go unnoticed. Frankly, they all deserve to be noticed.

I don't know who made this particular handle, but I'm reasonably sure they made it long before I was born, their work now serving as a lasting memorial to their expertise.

I wonder what they'd think if they could fast-forward a century or so and see how this place has been reshaped as a workplace for the 21st century. I hope they'd be proud that their craftsmanship stood the test of time, and continued to inspire others to raise their own game, far into the future.

#ldnont #life #kingandridout #345ridout #downtown #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #brick #iron #wood #london #ontario #canada #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #infotechrg @nicholsonsheffieldarchitects #workhardplayhard #family #everything

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Red-tinged reflection in a parking lot

Looking back
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I forget stuff. All the time. Like the power chord for my laptop, which in a moment of absent-minded stupidity I forgot at the office when I headed for home on Friday.

So a return trip was called for, because batteries never last as long as we'd like, and work still has to get done, even on weekends.

After pulling into the parking lot and getting out of the car, I caught this reflection in the far corner of my eye and thought I should record it somehow before heading inside to fetch my adapter.

Like so many of my day-in-the-life photos, this one won't ever merit being framed and mounted. That does not, however, degrade its worth.

Because without this scene frozen in time, I wouldn't have the memory of a particularly memory-worthy Saturday morning, when the sun was out, the air was breezy and warm, and my head was filled with thoughts of the day that awaited with my favorite people when I got back home.

Life is good. Even better if we work just a little harder to record the simpler moments and places along the way.

#ldnont #downtown #honda #civic #civicnation #car #carporn #cargram #auto #vehicle #automotive #red #color #urban #street #photography #reflection #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #london #ontario #canada

Friday, April 12, 2019

When stores die on Yonge Street

Toronto, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Yonge Street, Thursday morning, rush hour. I'm walking from the subway to our Toronto offices for a day of shooting videos before heading back to London on a late train. Normally this stretch is choked with traffic, but this cold, windy morning is different. Something feels off as I walk on the nearly-silent sidewalk. There's no hum of traffic, no hustle to avoid oncoming phone-addicted pedestrians. I stop and look around, half-expecting to find myself either in the middle of a movie set or a possibly bad dream.

Across the street sits a row of derelict buildings awaiting their fate. A massive condo development is slated for this block, and and these buildings stand meekly, abandoned, as the construction closes in around them.

Not so long ago, these storefronts had an energy all their own, an endless string of activity that spilled onto the sidewalk and powered the streetscape. While the new development will include some street-level retail, don't count on the local, owner-operated stores ever coming back. They've moved on, retired, walked away. Retail isn't what it used to be.

Neither are these buildings. I stand on the dirty sidewalk and try to imagine what they must have been like during their heyday. I wonder if anyone stood here then and admired the streetscape as I do now. I use "admired" deliberately: This place is still compelling, still worth taking in. Soon, though, I'll get off the subway and it'll be gone for good. The inevitability saddens me to no end.

As I continue on my way, I think about the people who once gave this area life, and hope wherever they've ended up, they're doing well. Maybe the new retailers and residents who move into the shiny new megabuilding slated for this site will create something special, too. Maybe they'll bring life back to this now-lifeless stretch.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #downtown #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #travel #explore #travelphotography #streetphotography #monochrome #urban #yonge #street #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The building that time forgot

Pick a direction
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It’s a grey, windy, miserable afternoon as I turn toward the office on my way back from a lunchtime walk. I’ve been forcing myself to get out for a bit, because otherwise I’d sit at my desk, glued to the screen in the mistaken belief that forcing yourself to sit in one spot for hours on end will make you creative and productive.

Not so much apparently. The occasional walk-around is good for the soul. Who knew?

Still, it’s nasty outside. And on this day, Londoners are nasty, too. Heavy construction on virtually every major downtown artery seems to have affected their mood. No one smiles. They cut you off in their rush to Get There Now. Their eyes stay glued to the ground (probably not a bad idea given the fact that much of it is dug up.)

As I round a corner, I break from the herd and look up. It’s just an old concrete-block government office building, with architecture that seemed to have been phoned in by the lowest bidder. I don’t think anyone ever takes the time to take it in, let alone on a day when the light has turned the skyline, and everything beneath it, to mud.

But I still stare up because, well, maybe despite its humble, indifferent origins it nevertheless deserves for someone to take the time. Geometric shapes have merit, too, don’t they?

I shoot quickly before tucking the phone away and walking the final few blocks back to the office. As I suspected, I return to my desk refreshed by my time exploring the grey murk, and the afternoon is indeed a productive one. I say a silent thanks to the anonymous folks who designed this seemingly uninspired building. Perhaps they were more inspired than we originally thought.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #downtown #urban #street #photography #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #monochrome #sky #glass #concrete #lines #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Dirty bird

Looking right back at ya
Port Stanley, ON
August 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There’s nothing exotic about this bird, a common gull, more noted for its propensity to steal hot dogs from unsuspecting children than appearances on National Geographic covers.

Photo-tourists don’t chase gulls to exotic locales, or use massive lenses to capture them perched on equally exotic tree branches. Nobody writes poems about them, or uses sweet prose to describe their beautiful voice. Last I checked, a flock of seagulls reminded me of crotchety grandparents arguing over shuffleboard scores at the retirement villa. Angry birds, indeed.

But none of that matters on a windy day where this common, dirty, forgettable bird takes to the sky with a mastery that has to be seen to be believed. It makes no difference whether you’re at a beach - as I was on this late summer day last year - or a parking lot or a neighborhood park, or anywhere else, for that matter. They are powerful, agile, confident, perfectly suited to their environment, and simply breathtaking to watch.

Winter, at least in this part of Canada, seems to have finally taken the hint and given way to spring, and gulls are starting to show up in the skies overhead. So it won’t be long before I point a long lens in their general direction and have a little optical fun with them. Because in my photographic world, the stuff that matters is the everyday. And there’s magic there, assuming we take the time to look.

Besides, exotic is overrated, anyway.

#port #stanley #portstanley #beach #great #lake #erie #bird #birds #weather #wx #nature #summer #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #ontario #canada #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Painting lines in the sky

Jumbo overhead
Cote St. Luc, QC
March 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I’ve spent the past couple of hours beside the food court of a dying shopping mall far from home, slurping their free Wi-Fi and trying to keep the work side of my work-life balance in balance. While having a laptop in a backpack makes it easy to work from anywhere, the realities of squeezing yourself into a tiny steel stool-and-table contraption normally used to scarf a Big Mac and a root beer mean my body is now paying, dearly, for the last 3 hours of productivity. It’s time to call it a day.

As I walk out into the near-empty parking lot, I hear the unmistakable sound of high-bypass turbofan engines far overhead. I look up and see a tiny dot tracing a perfect contrail across a stunningly clear blue sky. The sun is sinking to the west as the plane flies away from it, pushing into successively deeper shades of blue. I hope the pilots are enjoying an equally pristine view.

I take a fast shot with my smartphone - the one you see here - before I grab the real camera out of my backpack and try for something a little more close-in. I have to move quickly, as the plane is at cruise altitude, and is about to fly out of view beyond the mall. I have just enough time to zoom, compose and trip the shutter once before it disappears for good, but it’s enough for me to see that the tiny dot is, in fact, a Boeing 747-400.

I think about looking it up on an app so I might learn everything there is to know - right down to tail number and delivery date - about this aircraft. But I decide not to, because I’d rather hold onto the mystery of a large plane with hundreds of people on it, to wonder for as long as I have this picture and this moment who they were, and where they were headed.

Looking back at the long view I’ve shared here, I realize it isn’t much of a photo. But in photography as in life, the less spectacular is often the most intriguing.

#montreal #cotestluc #quebec #canada #yul #cavendish #mall #roadtrip #road #trip #aviation #avgeek #boeing #airplane #aircraft #aviationphotography #travel #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, April 08, 2019

Where old bikes go to die

Rust in peace
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
An old bike rusts slowly by the edge of a downtown sidewalk. I'm pretty sure it's been forgotten because it's been sitting in this same spot, locked to a grate, for weeks.

Even when it was new, this wasn't much of a bike, an all-steel, cheaply-made department store special that was bought on the basis of price and convenience. I doubt whoever rode it loved it much. Or bothered to maintain it. Time has done this machine no favors, and bikes like this aren't called disposable by accident.

Yet all bikes are, in some strange way, worthy. Each one is uniquely capable of opening up horizons, taking us places we otherwise wouldn't be able to go, changing lives for the better.

But only if we get on. Only if we push the pedal with one foot, step off the ground with the other, and feel the gentle laws of physics do their thing. It's hard to look through the rusted rims and cracked sidewalls to imagine anyone ever took this machine on an epic ride through the southwestern Ontario countryside. But if I squeeze my eyes just so, I want to believe someone actually did.

I have to lie on the ground to get this particular shot. I get lots of stares - and end up with a generous dose of sidewalk dust on my pants - but days later, the bike is still there. I hope whoever abandoned this machine eventually returns. Because every bike deserves to be ridden. And every cyclist deserves to feel the magic of stepping off terra firma and letting their machine take them wherever they wish to go.

#ldnont #downtown #bicycle #bike #cycling #cyclist #cycle #cyclinglife #bikelife #sport #instabike #bikeporn #ride #bikes #instacycling #fitness #road #urban #street #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #london #ontario #canada

Where we come across a bus stop

London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm out with the wonderpuppy for her last walk of the night. It's one of the blessings of dog ownership, the built-in walks on the daily schedule. Some folks freak out at the commitment - or at the very least complain about being pulled out of the house again and again, often when the weather is miserable - but I'd rather embrace them as an opportunity. We only get a limited number of these walks, after all.

We don't usually head past this spot, but the soft light pooling onto the dead-quiet suburban streetscape like an oasis seems to pull me closer. We detour a bit to get a closer look, and as I size it up from up-close, Calli calmly explores a new-to-her stretch of sidewalk.

We're not here long. It's late, and this little girl is running out of steam after an action-packed day of hanging out with her humans. She gives me lots of slack in the leash as I compose a few quick scenes with my smartphone before turning for home.

I often wonder if she knows what I'm doing when I'm shooting. Or if she knows how much I treasure seemingly trivial little moments like this one. She is, after all, the reason we're here, and there'd be no story of this place, in this moment, if I didn't have a ready-made excuse to get out and explore the neighborhood.

I give her an extra treat as we set off on the last leg of our journey. She's earned it, and then some.

#Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #LittleMissCalli #dog #puppy #schnauzersofinstagram #minischnauzer #miniatureschnauzer #schnauzergram #schnauzers #petstagram #instadog #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #pets #family #everything #google #pixel2 #teampixel #monochrome #night #urban #street #photography #london #ontario #canada

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Taking a second look at a green bridge

Historic strength
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've been crossing this bridge for years, but always on a bike, always at speed, never taking the time to really appreciate it.

Now that I work barely half a block to the left of this shot, it's an easy lunchtime stroll, which is exactly what I'm up to on this grey, lonely day.

No one's around as I slowly walk the length of this no-cars-allowed span and admire the nearly century-old engineering. It's been lovingly maintained by the city, and up close it's easy to see what a treasure it is.

Some unknown craftsperson assembled these steel beams long before I was born. And others kept it strong and relevant over the decades since. It feels right to quietly admire the care they put into their work.

I'm not here for long, because the rest of the day awaits. But already I can sense I'll be back soon. Because slowing down to appreciate the details is good for the soul. And I'm sure this bridge is only one of many spots along the way that I've been ignoring for too long in the rush to keep up with life. Time to change that.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #photography #green #king #bridge #civil #engineering #design #lines #thames #river #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything


Friday, April 05, 2019

The big stick pierces the sky

Perspective from a baseball game
Toronto, ON
July 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline - indeed, it defines the city just as the Eiffel Tower does Paris, and the Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco. It is iconic, and it’s hard to imagine this city without it.

It was once the tallest free-standing structure in the world, but those days are long gone. The Burj Khalifa may be way taller, but this one is ours. And Canada is awesome.

This structure has likely been photographed millions of times. And every time I return here - often of late - I wonder if it’s worth adding to the pile. Inevitably, I decide it is, and then set out to find some new-to-me way to remember it.

In the end, the photo I take of this tower - or anything else, for that matter - isn’t really what I seek, anyway. This photo is a placeholder, an excuse to remember what I was doing at the time. On this hot July afternoon, I was watching the Blue Jays play baseball in the SkyDome (always SkyDome, never that abominable Rogers Centre) stadium below. The roof was open, the sun was shining, the sky was a perfect blue, the kids were happy, my wife was perfectly lovely, and I was uncharacteristically content.

Yet instead of watching the game, I found myself pointing my lens in every direction - including up - because I didn’t want to go home without some kind of visual memory of a perfect day.

I’ll be back in Toronto soon enough, and I’ll probably shoot the tower again. It just won’t be as perfect as it was on this day, when I was surrounded by everything and everyone that mattered most to me. Like I said, these photos hardly matter, but I’ll keep shooting them, anyway.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #downtown #cntower #concrete #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #travel #explore #travelphotography #streetphotography #blue #sky #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything


Thursday, April 04, 2019

Playing the angles in a downtown intersection

Up close architecture
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Do you play anymore?

It’s a serious question. When we were kids, we played all the time. By ourselves or with friends, at home or out and about, in schoolyards, in the back seat of the car on the way to grandma’s, everywhere.

Then somewhere along the way, we forgot about play. We grew up. Got serious. Felt the weight of responsibility. Play, and that childlike sense of focus, quietly disappeared from our lives. Most of us don’t even remember when that particular light went dark.

This photo, taken on a lunchtime walk earlier this week, speaks of play to me. The brilliant sun made shooting something of a challenge, but I couldn’t resist the pull of this lovely old building at the corner of Dundas and Clarence, in the middle of London’s bustling, scarred, defiant downtown core.

I felt like I was playing. With light. With angles. With a spot on the sidewalk usually occupied by bus commuters, homeless people, screaming street preachers, and drug addicts. But in the midday sun, no one bothered me as I sized up the geometry of the building and tried to shoot into the sky without going blind in the process.

It felt...childlike. Like when you’d build a Lego tower and not know how it would end up. Would it collapse? Would you have all the right pieces? Would the outcome even matter? Short answers: Yes, because gravity always wins, no, because I was always a messy kid, and emphatically no, because the journey was always the thing.

Which is what it felt like here: A moment in an improvised adult playground where the outcome mattered far less than the fact that I was bothering to do this at all. Maybe on my next walk I won't be alone. Maybe play need not be something we leave behind as we exit childhood.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #random #urban #street #photography #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #blue #sky #brick #concrete #lines #sun #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Road trip Timbits

A little bit of sweetness
Morrisburg, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Behold a box of Timbits from Tim Hortons. If you’re American, think Canadianized Dunkin Munchkins. If you’re from anywhere else, think the stuff they carved out of the donut hole. In any country, language, or culture, this qualifies as barely-nutritious “food” that makes cardiologists happy.

For obvious reasons, we don’t eat these often. And when we do, there’s a good reason for it. In this particular case, we bought the box at an OnRoute rest stop, on Ontario’s Highway 401, on our way to Montreal, a small treat to take the edge off of a hard day.

Road trip food carries its own unique set of rules, typically revolving around eating less healthily than you usually do because you simply don’t have the bandwidth to do otherwise. That’s an easy excuse, but it isn’t why we chose these particular Timbits on this particular day.

See, travel for any reason stresses me out. Travel for this specific reason - family, illness, life, etc. - stresses me out even more. Driving long distances straight to the hospital (do not pass go…) makes for long days fraught with worry. At once we want to get there quickly, but fear what we’ll learn after we arrive.

So we seek comfort wherever we can find it. like in a box of donut-like things that remind us of home, if only for the 5 minutes we allow ourselves to enjoy them before we have to get back on the road.

Little things make a big difference, here and now as well as anywhere and anytime. We’ll need to walk these confections off at some point. But today isn’t the day for those types of worries. We’ve got plenty of others on our plate for now, and too many miles ahead before we’re done.

#morrisburg #ontario #canada #onroute #highway #roadtrip #road #trip #travel #timhortons #timbit #donut #dessert #junkfood #sowhat #life #is #short #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Roses are fleeting

Beauty in an unexpected place
Montreal, QC
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Saturday, 3:04 p.m. We've just arrived at the hospital in Montreal after the long drive in from London, and the first thing I notice as we walk into my father-in-law's room is a single rose sitting in a glass in the late afternoon light on his window sill.

I ask about it, and his attendant says she believes a rabbi dropped it off the night before, just before the Jewish Sabbath began. He was always quite observant, almost never missing a service, and I smile at the prospect of a rabbi from the broader community taking the time to see him. To the outside world it may not seem like much, a stranger dropping in for a visit. But to us the gesture is monumental.

I mention it to him as I kiss his forehead, but there isn't much response. I doubt he's seen the rose, much less processed what it is or what it means. This is where we are now, in a place where it's hard to tell where he is, what he's thinking, what he's processing.

For a man who as a teenager singlehandedly raised his younger brothers after his father left, who doggedly became an accountant and was the sole breadwinner for his family, who has represented our family's gravity to me from the first time I met him at his front door decades earlier, it's difficult to watch, much less accept. I want to believe he's in there, somewhere, but I can't tell. No one can.

So I shoot the picture. Because later on, I'll show it to him, my phone or my laptop serving as a prop of sorts, a window into pictures that I don't know he recognizes anymore, but I still want to show him.

Because if seeing something as insubstantial as a photo of a rose holds the remote possibility of triggering some kind of response, some kind of memory, then I owe it to him to at least try.

#montreal #quebec #canada #jewish #general #hospital #jgh #age #aging #health #window #windows #red #rose #stilllife #instagood #roadtrip #travel #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #life #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, April 01, 2019

Staring up at the architecture

Bricks, history, and sky
London, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I have many quirks, and one of them is walking right up to buildings and staring up at them. Sometimes I'll shoot a photo or ten. Sometimes I'll just file it away in my mind for some other time.

It's a weird thing, because you'd think there's more to life than odd-perspective architectural photos. But weird is a good thing, because I don't see anyone else walking right up to buildings and looking up. And that's the point: While everyone's looking one way, I'm looking another. Story of my life, actually.

If you stick a dozen people in a room and ask them to describe what they see, most of them will start talking, usually immediately. I'm not like most people. I'll walk around the room for a bit to take it in from different vantage points. I'll stare into every corner and mentally inventory every subtle texture, angle, and shadow. Eventually I'll settle on a perspective that's uniquely mine. And only then will I start sharing my own description.Because I have no interest in parroting anyone else. And my brain really is jumbled.

We may all be looking at the same building, but imagine if we all challenged ourselves a little more to see something no one else sees.

Hmm, on reflection, I suspect this isn't about architecture. Interesting how something as seemingly simple as a photo of a building - in this case my lovely and historic office before the workday begins - can get us to here.

#ldnont #life #kingandridout #345ridout #downtown #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #blue #sky #brick #lines #sun #shadow #london #ontario #canada #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #infotechrg @nicholsonsheffieldarchitects #workhardplayhard #family #everything