Saturday, August 31, 2019

Chasing sunsets with our daughter

Saying goodbye to the day
London, ON
July 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've been remiss in chasing sunsets. Sunrises, too. I regret this, because the supply isn't infinite. Actually, the planet will have billions more years of them. But we won't.

Bummer, no?

But let's focus on the upside. This shot was the result of a spontaneous moment with our daughter. On the way back into town from another adventure, we both noticed the brilliant sky as the sun sank below the horizon.

Before long, we both agreed it made absolute sense to pull over to the side of the quiet country road. Because she's my kid and her photography genes are way more sharply defined than mine.

We missed the actual sunset, but the sky wasn't done painting itself just for us. We stood in the shadows for a bit, talking about the atmospheric gymnastics necessary to create the impossibly rich colors and tones now playing out over our heads.

Before long, we tucked our cameras away, got back in the car and headed for home. But I won't soon forget what it felt like to see the moment through our daughter's eyes.

Maybe in the end it isn't about the number of moments at all. Maybe it's about the quality of them. The intensity of them. And how indelible the resulting memories can be.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sunset #orange #silhouette #cloud #clouds #cloudy #sky #weather #nature #wx #landscape #sunningdale #road #photo #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, August 30, 2019

Step gingerly

The things we notice...
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I either stumbled across the discarded remnants of a spontaneous archaeological dig, or I took a wrong turn in my never-ending quest for the perfect rutabaga.

It's actually fresh ginger. From China. Let that sink in for a moment.

There, now I feel better.

So, no, I won't be buying "fresh" ginger that's grown half a world away, then shipped here in the hold of a bunker oil-burning, rust-festooned cargo ship flying under the Cameroon flag of convenience.

Because the food chain needs to be simpler. And it starts with conscious decisions like this one. Small ones. But doesn't anything worth doing start small?

Doesn't stop me from taking a picture, though. Nothing can.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #abstract #photography #still #life #ginger #spontaneous #macro #photo #shoot #fruitography #grocery #store #retail #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, August 29, 2019

It's Spuds MacKenzie!

Faces in the roots
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I call this one Potatohenge.

What would YOU name it?

And why do I keep shooting stuff like this in grocery stores?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #abstract #photography #still #life #potato #spontaneous #macro #photo #shoot #fruitography #grocery #store #retail #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Getting reflective by the roadside

Mirrored moment
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I commute by bike for a whole lot of reasons, including my health (improving it), traffic (avoiding it), finances (I'm a bit frugal), and the environment (I feel guilty burning fossilized dinosaurs when I have access to cleaner alternatives).

But the one reason that stands out above all others is mental. It's good for my brain to fully unplug for however long it takes me to pedal to and from the office. When I ride, notifications aren't sliding into view, my inboxes don't ping, and calls go directly to voicemail. I feel better about life. About myself.

It's rather freeing to get off the interrupt-driven merry-go-round, even if it's only for an hour or so. That's more than enough time to recharge. Or allow my mind to dig into the deep thoughts that just can't be dug into when I'm more plugged in. Or simply do nothing more than enjoy the view.

As you can see from the photo, I was a little reflective on today's ride home. And while I was waiting for an overly long traffic light to turn green, decided a slightly off-centred view of Hyde Park Road was called for.

I didn't need a reason, but it felt like the right way to remember a moment I wish had lasted longer.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bike #bicycle #bikesofinstagram #cycle #cyclist #cycling #forever #perspective #cyclingislife #wheel #wheels #round #mirror #reflective #random #abstract #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The colors we find in the most unexpected places

Watch where you step
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
So I'm wandering through a back alley off of London's beleaguered Dundas Street, carefully dodging used needles and discarded condoms littering the filthy, crumbling asphalt below, when I come across a colorful patch of graffiti. Wait, who am I kidding? The entire wall is covered with it.

This is downtown London, all gritty and sad and dangerous. Why I come here I don't really know. One wrong step and I'm risking hepatitis. Or worse. One wrong step and I might meet the wrong person in the wrong place. There's nothing remotely safe or smart about being here, yet here I am.

Call it curiosity. Call it a need to understand why this part of the city is so challenged. Why it's been as bad as it's been for so long. Why it seems to be getting worse by the day. Tent cities popping up by the river, in parks, and in the shadows of gleaming glass buildings. Individuals suffering from addiction and mental health issues roaming the streets. Long-term businesses finally giving up and pulling out of the core for good. The decline is palpable.

There are never any easy answers when it comes to structural, fundamental problems like this, and I don't expect to find any on this particular walk. For now, a sliver of light, a shot of unexpected color, and even a buried image in a place that usually has no such inspiration will have to do.

Maybe tomorrow the view and the reality will be different. Nah. Who am I kidding?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #downtown #urban #city #dundas #street #photography #streetphotography #art #color #alley #poverty #drugs #mental #health #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Monday, August 26, 2019

Silos of history

Someone climbed this
Strathroy, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Tucked next to a railroad crossing in Strathroy, a small town west of London, a trio of silos dominates the skyline and casts a comforting shadow over the edge-of-downtown streets beside it.

Because the world never stops changing, it's been a while since this facility was used for its original purpose. It's now home to a craft brewery, one of many popping up throughout southern Ontario to feed consumers' exploding interest in better beer and better community.

To the owners' credit, they've retained virtually all the architecture that made this place special in the first place. And as I stand at the base and look skyward, I think of the now-vanished people who once worked here, and how at least one of them had to climb the ladder you see here.

No external cage. Or grips. Or safety equipment of any kind. Just bare, rusting metal and a stomach made of iron.

I guess life really was different back then. And so were the people who lived - and worked - it.

Before I turn around and head home, I silently wish I could have met them. And maybe had a friendly chat over a mug or two.

#ldnont #london #strathroy #brewing #company #ontario #canada #urban #street #photography #buildings #architecture #architectureporn #architecturephotography #monochrome #beer #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Racing the weather far from home

Storm's coming
Just east of the Ontario-Quebec border
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: Riviere-Beaudette, Quebec. I've just crossed the border from Ontario and still have an hour to go before my final stop in Montreal. I've been driving alone, fighting traffic and weather for much of the day. My wife waits at the other end, where she's been all week, doing the things that kids must do after their parents pass on.

The shelf cloud you see here has been growing in the periphery of my left eye for a while, and it becomes more ominous by the second. It isn't frightening, though. It's exciting. A reminder from the universe that we're surrounded by forces much more powerful than we'll ever be, and our only choice is to ride them out.

So I pull over at a highway rest stop because it isn't everyday you get to witness nature do its thing on such a massive scale. Or maybe I just wanted to feel humbled. Whatever.

After shooting across Highway 20 to the bewilderment of parked truckers beside the onramp, I get back in the car and continue on my way. Soon enough, the shelf cloud turns the overhead sky black before unleashing a relentless fury of wind, water, and lightning on the tiny humans below

It makes for an entertaining drive into the city, with both hands firmly on the wheel as I can literally feel the car's electronic nannies do their thing to keep me between the puddle-soaked lines.

But I smile the whole way in. Because journeys are meant to be memorable, and a little meteorological adventure makes us all feel that much more alive.

Hopefully I'll see another shelf cloud tomorrow. Hopefully I'll never run out of journeys where my best friend is waiting for me at the end of a stormy, rain-slicked road.

#montreal #quebec #ontario #canada #weather #wx #storm #landscape #life #highway #travel #photography #travelphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 24, 2019

When dogs don't sleep

Waking the neighborhood
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Calli the Wonderschnauzer's perspectives on time tend to differ from mine rather significantly. For example, she's usually ready to explore the neighborhood at 6:03 a.m., whereas I am decidedly not.

Not that my preferences matter, anyway, because as you can see here, we're following her lead. But as I've said many times before, I'm thankful to have an excuse to get out there at all. Some blessings come wrapped in a contrarian wrapper.

Left to my own devices, I'd probably sleep through the spectacle of this part of the planet coming alive for the day.

But I'd miss the hushed quiet of a normally non-stop suburb. I'd miss the stillness in the air, and the softness of the early morning light. I'd miss crossing paths with the same cast of early-risers, like Lincoln the lab (who Calli seems to like) and Louie the terrier (who she certainly hates.) I'd miss one-sided conversations where I solve the mysteries of the universe as I plan out the day that will be. I'd miss quiet moments on the sidewalk, like the one you see here, where we simply stop and take it in.

On weekends, I can usually tuck back into bed when we return, and she'll happily curl up on/in my legs. But even if I can't, an extra mug or three of coffee or tea should be enough to offset the inevitable sleep deficit.

Some too-early wakeups are worth the fatigue. Hanging out with this little one always is.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #photography #Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #dog #puppy #schnauzerlife #schnauzermini #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Friday, August 23, 2019

Big bug on an office door

Hold on
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times.

Like in the deepest corner of the handle on the door leading to the rooftop patio at the office. In the rush to get to the next meeting, it would be easy to overlook the interloper here, easy to miss a pretty spectacular example of nature, stopping for a quick rest before continuing the journey.

I didn't necessarily need to take this shot. And doing so meant I had to hustle a little faster to get to my next scheduled meeting. But it was anyone's guess how long he/she (your guess is as good as mine) would be here. You know how it is: Iron, strike, hot, repeat.

Wherever you are, as the week that was eases into the weekend that will be, I hope you'll allow yourself to follow the tiny inspirational moments that present themselves to you, often in ways that would be easily missed if you weren't focusing.

Take the time, and devote the energy. Because you never know when one of these beauties will land here again. Or if.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bug #bugs #insect #grasshopper #ithink #nature #naturephotography #macro #perspective #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Rubber met (dirty) road

London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is a closeup view of my bicycle's rear tire after a recent ride through some muddy gravel. So why would I shoot something like this? Good question.

Maybe it's the basic aesthetics of cycling. A bike is, at its core, a pretty simple machine that can accomplish some pretty magical things. It converts a relatively small amount of energy into a relatively quick means of moving across the planet. It takes you places you otherwise wouldn't be able to get to. It opens up opportunities to people who couldn't afford anything else.

And even if you could afford anything else, it still improves your quality of life. Because a day with a bike ride in it is better than a day without.

The engineering that makes all this life-changing stuff possible is, frankly, neat-looking. A few tubes, artfully welded together. Some sweet anodized cranks and hubs, sculpted to near-perfection. A spoked wheel whose lightweight construction barely telegraphs just how tough it is.

I've ridden bikes for much of my life, and I've always been thankful for the privilege of doing so. After my stroke, I remember lying there, paralyzed, worried I'd never be able to get on a bike again, let alone make it fly. So every time I ride now, I pause before pushing off, thankful that I still can. I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost that ability again.

This picture reminds me that sometimes the path we follow isn't as neat or as linear as we'd like. Sometimes it's rough. Or uncomfortable. Or dirty. Or dangerous. Or all of the above. And sometimes it leaves a mark on the machine. Or on the rider. A reminder of where we've been and what we experienced along the way.

And when it does, our choices are just as simple as the engineering that makes all of this possible. We can choose to park it. To stay home. To avoid the uncertainty. Or we can get back on and ride.

You already know which way I lean.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

No more games

Dundas Street West and Manning Avenue
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
On the northwest corner of Toronto's Dundas Street West and Manning Avenue, a shuttered store that once sold video games stands, ignored.

The faded, shattered sign says it once sold Nintendo, PS3, and Atari games, so I'm guessing it's been a while since any wide-eyed kid walked through the retro diagonal-set door with a fist full of cash and dreams of being the next Mario Kart champion.

I find it fascinating how, in a city of millions, countless ghost businesses can so litter the landscape. In another era, brick-and-mortar retail was something of a gateway to a better life for some. But today, e-commerce is rewriting the rules of retail, and stores built on the promise of if-you-build-it-they-will-come are having their lunch eaten by unseen digital enemies.

There's no arguing with the convenience and cost-effectiveness of shop-by-touchscreen, But there's also no ignoring what we've lost along the way. That ability to walk into a store and shoot the breeze with informed, passionate employees who play the games and willingly share their advice. The feeling of spontaneous, informal community in a tattered-at-the-edges store, a temporary refuge from the drudgery of elementary school. Or a Canadian winter. Or a dark day at the office. Or a dark day, period.

Online shopping offers no such experience. The passionate practitioners of a craft - games, movies, shoes, whatever - have, like the stores that employed them, virtually disappeared. In their place are algorithms and suggestion engines, snappy graphics and accelerated online checkout. And free shipping, of course.

It's all so convenient. But we fool ourselves into believing there isn't some kind of additional price to be paid. Both by all of us who might have shopped here, and by the kind souls who worked here and guided us on our way, whatever it was that we were looking for.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #manning #streetphotography #night #photography #monochrome #bw #store #retail #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Defiant life in an abandoned parking lot

Old growth. New growth.
London, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Humans are fascinating. We pave over our world. Reshape it. Dominate it. Make it subservient to our every whim.

In doing so, we convince ourselves that what we do here is the last word. That as soon as we build that street/highway/building/whatever, we've once and for all determined what that sliver of the planet will look like. Forever.

Um, sure.

Life has a funny way of making us look like fools. Of slowly, steadily, inevitably taking our arrogance and rewriting the story we thought we were writing for ourselves. Of gently proving us wrong.

Like in this parking lot in London's re-emerging East Dundas neighborhood.

This was once the very heart of London's manufacturing district. They made cereal to the right of this photo, and cookies behind it. It's been years since the last workers last clocked out. The factories stood empty for years before developers moved back in. The sounds of construction now echo off the massive faces of brick and concrete, promising a better future for a neighborhood that clearly deserves it.

But in the shadows of all this renewal sits a massive stretch of asphalt, forgotten, baking in the mid-summer sun. Blink hard enough and it's easy to see the trucks that once powered London's make-it-here reputation, easy to hear the workers who devoted their entire working lives to the companies that offered them and their families a decent wage and lifestyle. There's nothing of the sort here now.

But there is life. Maybe not the kind that once filled the air with the overwhelming sights and sounds of industrial might. But these weeds powering their way through the cracked pavement serve as a reminder that we aren't quite as dominant as we might have once thought.

We may yet reshape this neighborhood, and I can't wait to see the result. But even this will be temporary, as forces more powerful than us all will eventually reclaim all we have built.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #life #defiant #weeds #random #urban #downtown #dundas #street #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, August 19, 2019

Homelessness in the light of the 7-Eleven

Lost in the big city
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This isn't quite the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, but part of me thinks it could be.

A 7-Eleven store is always a bit of a crossroads of humanity, but never more so than late at night. As the blindingly white fluorescent light spills like an oasis into the surrounding parking lot, a varied cast of characters comes and goes, each of them writing a chapter in real-time in a story that never seems to end.

I've already written in an earlier post about the middle-aged woman in the flowery dress who left her dog alone outside, so we know that one had something of a happy ending when the little pup was still there upon her return. But on this night, hers wasn't the only story playing out here.

You can just see the man in the fedora near frame-centre as he returns to his shopping cart parked under the Gatorade sign. He's been shuffling back and forth outside the front of the store for at least 15 minutes, carefully loading up and securing all his worldly possessions before walking away again in search of something else to forage.

When a posse of young kids in a brand-new Jeep Wrangler pulls up, he quickly disappears into the shadows before re-emerging after they enter the store. For some odd reason, I ponder how much the candy-apple-red Jeep must have cost, and how much this one man would need to feel secure.

Soon enough, the overly loud kids return to the Jeep and peel out of the parking lot, booming, forgettable music competing with the uniformly confident voices of young entitlement.

As silence slowly returns to the grit-covered parking lot, the fedora-wearing man returns to his cart and slowly begins pushing it away from the door before he disappears for good behind the building. I can still hear the squeak of the wheels long after he fades from view.

Haves. Have-nots. They all make their way here, eventually. Where they end up afterward is anyone's guess. That's the deal with crossroads like these.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #streetphotography #night #photography #7eleven #convenience #store #retail #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Us + 35

Two halves of a greater whole
Laval, QC
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I remember our first date like it was yesterday.

Except it most certainly wasn't yesterday. It was 35 years ago. August 17, 1984. We went to a pizza restaurant in Montreal, Tasty Food, and I remember wishing it would never end.

We talked a lot that evening, so much so that to this day I'm not sure how we found time to actually finish the pizza. It's a problem that persists to this day: I could talk to her forever.

Wait, that's not a problem. Except when you're hungry. And even then...

The sheer number makes me feel a little old, but that's perfectly fine when you cherish time as much as she does. And as you can tell from the photo, time has been kind to her. I stared at her a lot that night. Still do. I wish I had forever to look, too.

Just under eight years after sharing that magical pizza in that magical place on that magical night, we got married, and July 5 became our official-official anniversary.

But like a building built on a strong foundation, construction of any good marriage begins long before rings are exchanged and bouquets are tossed. Every other date, every milestone, every moment that came afterward, owes its existence to that first moment when we realized we weren't just having a pizza.

So August 17th sticks with us. Because it never hurts to remember where it all began, and what it felt like when the universe decided it was time our paths not only crossed, but joined.

And what DID it feel like that night? Flutters in my stomach. First time I'd ever felt them.

I still get them when I see her.

#laval #chomedey #quebec #canada #throwback #anniversary #love #loveher #limitlessly #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Late nights by an empty intersection

Cobalt and glass on the corner
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There's nothing to see here.

Nobody stops to look at an intersection that looks and feels like so many other in this city of millions. It's ordinary and time worn. It would be forgettable, except that would imply someone - anyone - took the time to pay attention in the first place.

On this night, no one did.

But hang around long enough for your eyes to adjust to the nighttime murk, and subtle stories seem to slowly emerge. A family-owned glass and mirror store that reflects an almost-lost form of retail. A mid-aughts Chevy Cobalt that someone clearly cares about. A graffiti tag that suggests the exact opposite.

Cities like this are packed full of places like this, each one an assembly of seemingly random examples of people just trying to get by. Business owners trying to make a living. A hard-working kid trying to get around in something akin to style. Another kid simply trying to be heard.

The longer I stand across the way and peer into this ordinary space beside a busy road where no one stops to look, the more I realize how wrong my first impression was.

There's so much to see here. If only we allow ourselves the time to see it.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #manning #streetphotography #night #photography #monochrome #bw #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, August 16, 2019

Of trains, rainbows, and hope for a better future

I am deeply honored that @viarailcanada chose to share my photo of the #ldnont station in their feed.

Even better, it's in support of two things that matter to me: My hometown of #montreal and #pride.

Because inclusiveness touches and benefits each and every one of us, and we must all speak in a collective voice so that we may strengthen the community values that underpin lives well lived.

May we always celebrate the full spectrum of colors and experiences that make life such a rich pageant. May we always grow by sharing our experiences with others.

Joyeux #PrideMTL!

#yul #quebec #yxu #london #ontario #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #throwback #rainbow #diversity #ally

Related: Original post on Instagram

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How much is that doggie outside the 7-Eleven?

Waiting for mom to return
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm not one to judge, but dog-owning Carmi saw this late-night scene in the fluorescent-pooled-light beside a run-down 7-Eleven store in Toronto and cringed a little. Okay, a lot.

I don't have enough trust in my fellow humans that my pup would still be there upon my return. I didn't trust strangers when I was a kid and rode my bike to the store, and I don't trust them now. If my dog is with me, she'll come inside, just as I brought my bike with me way back when. Someone from the store doesn't want my dog or bike - or oversized sombrero - inside? Tough. I'll go elsewhere.

Maybe I'm cynical, but people can suck. Not all people, and not all the time. But enough of them, enough of the time that it's always a possibility that whatever it is you've left outside on its own won't be there when you finish buying that extra-large blueberry squishy you probably shouldn't have had in the first place.

This story thankfully has a happy ending. I stared at this sweet dog from afar until momma came back outside, untied him (her? I can never tell) and walked off into the night.

But that was this time. And as much as I'd never have the guts to walk up to a complete stranger and suggest they might want to rethink their canine security strategy, I fear next time - or some other time - she won't be so lucky. When I got home, I hugged our puppy a little longer than usual.

At least I got a picture out of this experience.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #urban #dundas #street #streetphotography #night #photography #dog #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogstagram #7eleven #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, August 12, 2019

The architectural seat of power

Simple, yet not
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Toronto's city hall rocks.

Sure, it serves as the centre of power for Canada's largest city, but it's been designed in such a way that the citizens touched by what goes on here are always welcome.

The giant public square that surrounds it comes alive with activity every day, in any season. Festivals and concerts in summer. Skating in winter. Clambering on and in the iconic Toronto sign year-round, mixed in with a nosh from a nearby food truck. I could hang here for days.

It's so well programmed that you don't even have to be a Torontonian to appreciate the vibrancy of effective community spaces like this one. Other cities might want to take note.

So, of course, the photo I choose to share has none of these things in it. Because I'm weird that way.

My silliness aside, sometimes you've just got to go with the simple shot built from lines, curves, textures, and a little bit of color served up by Mother Nature.

Because the power of design is rarely more evident than when it's applied to the structures where democracy itself comes alive.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #monochrome #concrete #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #curves #city #hall #blue #sky #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Jumbled skyline

Urban (glass) jungle
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
When viewed in isolation, there's not a whole lot about a glass-clad box of a building that makes it worthy of little more than a passing glance.

All that changes when you view a bunch of them, all kind of squished together by the delightful optical properties of a long lens.

The straight lines from one seem to reach out to the straight lines from the others. The mirrored surfaces of each building take on the reflected shapes and tones of the others. The individual forms become part of a larger, connected community.

Your eyes wander the urban jungle scene, looking for details that tell the story of a neighborhood defined by the overwhelming scale of downtown development. This isn't a place where subtlety seems to have much place.

But stare into the mess for a bit and minor details seem to bubble into view. A rooftop deck where neighbors gather to take in the view. A hint of a shadow from one building to another. The riot of colors, shapes, and reflection shifting starkly from one to the next.

The trick isn't necessarily to find all these things and call it done. This isn't a contest, after all. Simply standing by the window and taking the time to take it all in - that's the real goal.

Which begs the question of whether we're taking enough time to look. And the second one, of whether we're planning to spend more time beside windows just like this one.

Because no matter where we may happen to find ourselves, we only get so many opportunities to take in the view, so many opportunities to find the little details and joys amid the sometimes overwhelming neighborhoods that surround us. They're out there, but only if we allow ourselves to look.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #concrete #glass #reflective #mirror #urban #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Dead store in a dead mall

King of what?
Strathroy, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Not all architecture is celebrated. Or memorable. Some of it just is. Like this nearly abandoned strip mall that sits, baking in the sun beside a scruffed-at-the-edges downtown street, waiting for visitors who will likely never arrive.

As the afternoon settles into early evening in this quiet town nestled among the bucolic farmlands west of London, a single car detours through the otherwise empty parking lot facing the Bargain King. I'm guessing the sight of a camera-slinging stranger (that would be me) peering through the darkened glass doorway is arousing suspicion among the locals.

Never mind, though, as the old Dodge with the primer-painted front end and homemade exhaust just as quickly drives off, leaving silence once more behind.

I'd like to imagine that this mall was once a bustling place, where people came to not only buy the things they needed, but also connect to their neighbors. Because shopping isn't - and never was - just about buying stuff.

Yet the faded sign betrays a sadder reality of a store that was likely bleached of its energy long before the sun did its thing. As I stand there, I wish I could will this place back to life, but I don't think it had much life to begin with.

Still, there's a resonance to this spot, a reminder that everything, however plain and forgettable, has its role, its place. While most of us might ignore it on our way to the nearby grocery store, or in the rush to get to or from the office, it still anchors life in a place where things seem to happen a little more slowly.

And that's a good thing. Because not everything has to be immediate. Not everything has to be gleaming perfection. And whoever the Bargain King is, or was, he would doubtless agree.

#ldnont #london #strathroy #ontario #canada #urban #front #street #photography #kenwick #mall #retail #buildings #architecture #architectureporn #ruinporn #architecturephotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, August 09, 2019

Looking back on an eventful trip

On this day six years ago, I took my first trip outside the house after my stroke. And for reasons that still elude me, I thought it would be a good idea to take a selfie in the passenger-side mirror.

I still remember feeling like I had been hit by a truck, still remember my somewhat compromised speech, which had not yet come fully back, still remember the feeling of being damaged, and nowhere near whole. I cringe at the sight and the thought of that particular chapter, but I'm glad I still had the wherewithal to pull out my phone - BlackBerry for the win! - and take the shot.

It's funny how you remember certain things. They may not be the best memories, but they serve as reminders of how far you've come, and how lucky you are.

Related Facebook entries:
Aug 09, 2019
Aug 09, 2013 (4 days post-stroke)

Curvy building against a blue sky

Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
You've got to admire someone who has the guts to swim against the current, to defy conventional wisdom, to strike out on a unique path.

Like whoever developed, designed, and engineered this building (Toronto's L Tower). It probably would have been easier to build a giant rectangle in the sky. Likely a lot cheaper, too. Maybe even faster.

But would it be as memorable? Or special? Would it prompt spontaneous discussion on the street? Or make kids smile as they turn their curious eyes to the sky? Would it make the area around it better in some way?

Probably not. Because buildings that follow the crowd are doomed to get lost in it. Which is why I keep coming back to this one, a structure that will never follow any other. And never get lost in the crowd. Because a complex-curved facade invites moments of whimsy in ways no ordinary building can.

And as I stand a few kilometres away and train my long lens on this unique building backstopped against a perfectly blue sky, I wonder where else spontaneous whimsy can be found, and whether we're all doing enough to find it.

#toronto #ontario #canada #photography #reflective #mirror #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #curves #blue #sky #weather #wx #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Related: Before and after days (January 2019)

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Reflecting the neighborhood

Impressionism on high
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
On its own, glass doesn't stand out. Little more than melted sand, it barely draws attention to itself.

But stick it in the middle of - or next to - something else, and it seemingly comes alive. What was once a bare, featureless surface suddenly dances with life. Shift your perspective, change the lighting, squint your eyes just so and the scene changes again. And again.

I'm guessing there's an analogy at play here, a lesson we'd do well to learn, a takeaway we might want to tuck into our pocket for later reference. Because like the somewhat featureless glass curtain wall you see here, we, too, are empty canvases just waiting to be painted by the experiences we choose to follow, and those we choose to join along the way. Our story becomes, literally, a reflection of the people - and their stories - that accompany and surround us.

On this day, in this place, the view is of an impressionist-looking reflection of the neighborhood, of lives playing out behind their own glass facades, of sounds echoing off of the vibrant public square below the monolithic structures that surround it. On another day, in different light, the view might be different. So might the sounds. The feel. The everything.

I don't work far from here, so I'm guessing I'll be back. Because there are always more stories to tell, and you never know how neighbors will help neighbors realize their full potential.

And to think this all started with a simple pane of glass. In the end, maybe it isn't so simple.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #monochrome #concrete #reflective #mirror #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Balconville revisited

Nobody's home
Toronto, ON
August 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I don't think there's so much as one curve in this scene. That's the point. And the appeal.

Design-by-ruler may have been the methodology of choice for modernist architects more focused on sticking to the bottom line than pursuing historic greatness. But that doesn't mean it can't have a certain appeal all its own.

It can. And in this case, it did. The perfect lines, the immense scale, the total lack of any evidence that people live here - I just couldn't keep walking without at least trying to record the moment in some way.

Why do I keep taking photos like this? Because the world can be an ugly place, filled with ugly people.

The ones who shoot up Walmarts and garlic festivals may get all the attention, but ugliness manifests itself in all sorts of other ways, too. Unkindness takes on many forms. And we don't even realize it's relentlessly grinding us down until the damage is already done.

So I shoot weird scenes like this. Because we all need an escape, and I find mine in pixels and words. There's nothing ugly about rearranging light into something worthy of sharing.

If it keeps the unkindness away for even a few seconds longer, then it will have been worth it.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #monochrome #concrete #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #design #lines #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, August 05, 2019

The day everything changed

Where it all went down
London, ON
August 2016
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Today's an interesting day in the story that is me: It was six years ago today that I had a stroke.

As you've probably guessed by virtue of the fact that I'm writing this, I survived. Even better, I managed to do so with most of my admittedly already-scrambled grey matter fairly intact. I was lucky enough to have a wife who recognized what was going on immediately, kids who helped her at every step, and world-class medical care a short drive from our house.

We were, and are, also lucky enough to be surrounded by a community of friends who dropped everything and surrounded us with everything we needed to ensure we made it through arguably the most terrifying chapter of our lives.

I didn't overtly share my story until a year had passed, and even then I didn't make that big a deal of it. At the time, I didn't want to be perceived as "that guy", the one whose stroke defined him in the eyes of others.

I eventually changed my tune, because stroke awareness is one of those things that can make the difference between living well, living not-so-well, or not living at all. I've heard stories from so many people who didn't get the help they needed within the magic window of opportunity that defines every stroke victim's timeline. I've seen lives that could have taken a different turn, but didn't, because someone - victim or family member - blew it off, figuring it was "nothing".

But there is no "nothing" when it comes to stroke awareness, no middle ground. You either get care as it's happening, or you and those around you suffer every day thereafter. If my story resonates with one person, then it's worth sharing.

The photo? Wonderland and Nine Mile Road, the rural intersection north of London where I accidentally tore my carotid artery and permanently changed my family's trajectory.

They say you should always remember where you came from. Well, I remember the places where my life changed.

Weird? Definitely. But words can't express how happy I am to have been given the chance to continue being weird at all.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #photography #lifeinthemargins #stroke #awareness #family #everything

Related entries:
So, about that stroke - August 2014
- When even "thank you" seems lame - August 2014
- More stroke stuff... - August 2014
- Coming up on Canada AM - Lookahead to February 2015 interview
- Winding down the day that was - February 2015 - incl link to Canada AM/Heart/Stroke Month segment
- Life at the crossroads - April 2015
- Two years on... - August 2015
- Three bonus years - August 2016
- Four years later - August 2017
- Five years on - August 2018
Luke Perry could have been me - or any of us - March 2019

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Stark brick against a brilliant sky

Keep cool in the sun
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
If you spend enough time following my feed, you might conclude I've got a thing for straight lines, blue skies, and architectural themes.

You'd be right.

Like so many things that bounce around inside my head, I can't explain the why. It satisfies this weird craving I have to record what goes on around us. It makes me happy to rearrange our disorderly world into some sense of order. It alternatively keeps me out of, and gets me into, trouble. It just is.

I snagged a lot of brick-and-air-conditioning-unit scenes on my last walkabout down and around Adelaide Street, but it's easy to understand why. That's the visual that defines this place. This is not a neighborhood of big houses, quiet, gilded streets, and fancy cars. It is one of run-down apartment blocks hard up against four or five lanes of high-speed traffic.

The brickwork is old, faded, and sometimes crumbling. The chairs out front are cracked resin. The grass is more scrub and dirt than lush green. Kids won't play here.

Yet there's a sense of place and substance that you won't find in a terrace surrounded by McMansions. I'd rather explore here than there, and that alone should explain why areas like this matter more to our fabric than we might have otherwise thought.

Beauty, after all, takes on many forms.

#ldnont #london #519london #519ldn #ontario #canada #urban #adelaide #street #photography #buildings #architecture #architectureporn #ruinporn #architecturephotography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Scene from the Grapefruit League

Eat me, please
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Behold the humble grapefruit, the latest in a seemingly never-ending series of photos I like to call "fruitography".

I don't eat enough of these. Which is a bit of a shame, because I rather enjoy them, and Canada's Food Guide says they're quite healthy. Certainly more so than the celebration size peanut butter M&Ms I polished off last week. Bad Carmi. I'll have to ramp up my grapefruit consumption, then.

It may sound weird, but stuff like this - food I like, photos of same, writing words to go with the pictures, sharing the whole enchilada here - makes me happy. Which, I realize, may seem trivial and not worthy of attention to some folks.

But I've never been "some folks", or the mythical "they" people who apparently get to decide what is and is not considered normal behavior. And I've never understood why "they" get to sit in judgment of the rest of us in the first place. Were they elected?

As long as my off-nomimal way of looking at the world doesn't involve the commission of a major crime, I should feel no shame in shooting spontaneous pics of fruit on a dining room table because the very act of doing so makes me smile inside and out.

I hope it makes you smile, as well.

#laval #montreal #quebec #canada #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #kitchen #table #still #life #grapefruit #fruit #fruits #fruitography #spontaneous #macro #photo #shoot #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, August 02, 2019

White building, blue sky

A facade holds onto its secrets
London, ON
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is exactly what it looks like: An old, run-down industrial building on an old, run-down industrial street on the edge of London's old, run-down, no-longer industrial downtown core.

What isn't apparent in the photo is the story behind this building. When it was built. By whom. Who worked here. What they did.

I don't know this building's story, its context, its role in the evolution of the gritty neighborhood around it. And for once in my life, I don't feel the need to figure it out.

Because sometimes it's enough to stand on a sidewalk and wonder about the unknown. Because not every question needs an answer. Because a little mystery keeps us coming back for more.

I suspect this won't be my last time shooting in this often-forgotten corner of the city.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #horton #street #photography #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #blue #sky #lines #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Reflections from a speeding train

Modes of transportation
London, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I call this one planes, trains, and automobiles.

On the surface it's a relatively trivial shot of a laptop. But it's the where and the when that explains why I took it, and why I'm sharing it here. A fast capture by the window of a speeding train headed to Toronto, another long day in a series of long days, another perspective on what hustling for a living looks and feels like, another stolen view of something most folks wouldn't bother to remember in the first place.

I've written about the picture on the laptop screen before. It's been my desktop photo for a while, and I shot it a few years ago while on final approach to Montreal's Trudeau International Airport, during another marathon work trip that had me hopscotching across the country.

I happened to be flying over the suburb, Chomedey, where I grew up, so out came the camera. Wherever I've been since - hospitals, trains, beaches, you name it - this singular shot has helped ground me by reminding me of where I came from, and how far I've come since then.

We're all on some sort of journey, after all. Because we are all so unique, our respective journeys are unique, as well. And they all deserve to be recorded in some way, to be shared, to be remembered. As a reminder of why we need to be thankful for the things we have, and the opportunities that are made available to us.

Because if you can't look back at where you've been and reflect a little, can you really say you enjoyed the ride?

#ldnont #london #toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #viarail #train #trains #trainspotting #trainstagram #rail #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #travel #photography #travelphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything