Wednesday, December 06, 2023

It's almost gutter-ice season

Frosty was here
London, ON
March 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

I’ve been scanning the gutters in our neighbourhood lately, as I’ve been looking for a very particular kind of icy wonderland.

It’s what you get when you have a lot of rain, followed by a fast overnight freeze. While it makes for a scary-dangerous morning commute, it also leaves crystallized magic in the very margins of where we live.

I’m a glass-half-full person, anyway.

The best time to catch the icy show is early morning, when the ice is super crisp, where the conditions lead to all sorts of surreal layering and cracks and reflections. You never quite know what you’ll get, which I think is a large part of the appeal.

The clock, of course, is always ticking, as soon enough the sunlight reaches down from the sky and starts to soften it up. Before long, it’s gone for good.

Canadian winters can be brutal and miserable. But they also serve up random magic like this, tiny little slivers of frozen perspective coming to life in the most impossible places. They flare brilliantly for a blink before they melt into memory.

I took this one last March, and share it now because the temperatures are just now getting down to the point where we’ll have some new examples to shoot in the days and weeks to come. We’re so close, and the dog and I are ready.

I’d imagine our neighbours are used to me by now, the weird guy crouched down by the side of the road, looking like he lost a contact lens while the puppy either stands patiently to the side or wanders nose-first into the frame.

Everyone is always welcome to join in if they want, as there’s plenty of wonder to go around. We’ll just have to move quickly to capture it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #throwback #onstorm #water #ice #frozen #winter #walkabout #actofdog #nature #naturephotography #abstract #stilllife #photography #apple #iPhone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Frozen X-ray, March 2023
Icy duality, February 2023
When puddles freeze, January 2023
Leaf frozen in ice, March 2022

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

When the forests blazed with colour

London, ON
October 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

Today’s palette might be more grey than anything else, but nothing stops us from reaching back into our respective memories for some well-kept slashes of colour.

Memories - like this one from just over a month ago - can do wonders for us if we allow ourselves the luxury of tapping into them from time to time. It doesn’t take much.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #westminsterponds #tree #trees #leaves #autumn #texture #color #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Let's start colorfully, November 2020

Monday, December 04, 2023

Where the trees touch the sky

Overhead perspective
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

There’s a spot in the woods where the newly bare trees touch the sky. And when they do, the sky puts on a show of its own.

The not-so-secret secret, though, is that this spot in the woods can actually be anywhere. And all we have to do is look up and use our imagination.

It doesn’t take much to be randomly wowed. It doesn’t take much to look up and smile.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #forest #tree #trees #blue #sky #clouds #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded


Sunday, December 03, 2023

Where roots hang on for dear life

Harry Potter would be proud
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

This is what it looks like when the forces of nature fight it out with each other.

When the tree roots by the riverbank dig deep against the currents fighting to destroy them.

This has been going on since long before any of us showed up, and it’ll continue long after we’re gone.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t drop in on a grey autumn afternoon to take a snapshot of a battle whose end we’ll never see.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #heritage #forest #tree #trees #texture #thames #river #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #harrypotter #monochrome #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Uprooted, May 2022
The root of the matter, December 2020
Rooted to the ground, December 2019
Roots, January 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Following the pool of light home

Concretely mediocre
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

We find meaningful moments in the most unexpected places.

Like around the back of a nondescript suburban office building on a dark and damp almost-winter evening.

Where flat white light spills out from the locked security door and into the empty parking lot.

Where unraked leaves blow across the asphalt and pile up in the gutters, singing their seasonal song to no one in particular.

Where indifferent architecture nonetheless paints a picture through the dirty glass that has its own bleak symmetry. Or maybe it’s asymmetry: I left my ruler at home.

Math quibbles aside, there’s no rational reason for a photo like this. Or for any photo. Yet we take them, anyway.

We take them because they help us remember what it felt like to be there.

We take them because the moments that play out in the shadows of nondescript suburban office buildings deserve to be frozen and shared just as much as any other moment.

We take them because when pools of light spill out into the night, we find solace in the simple act of looking back in through the window and letting the light banish the darkness.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #byron #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #geometry #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Sunny ruinporn, April 2022
Retail ruinporn, January 2021
Tim is still dead, February 2020

Friday, December 01, 2023

Hanging out with the fish

Fish are friends, not food
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

Here’s a photographic mission that’s well within reach for most of us:
  1. Find a local pet store.
  2. Wander over to the aquarium section.
  3. Say hello to the fish.
  4. Flash a friendly smile to the overworked staff member who’s restocking the nearby shelves with lizard food. Try to avoid looking creepy.
  5. Wait till she gets back into her restocking rhythm.
  6. Carefully and gently press your smartphone to the glass to avoid frightening the fish.
  7. Trip the shutter a bunch of times in the few seconds you have before someone notices.
  8. Whisper a thank you to the fish for all their help.
  9. Slip your smartphone back into your pocket and walk away innocently, as if you were never there.
  10. Silently congratulate yourself as you leave the store for your decision to engage in a spontaneous act of photographic joy. We could all use more of them.
Your turn.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #pet #petstore #petshop #fish #goldfish #random #retail #stilllife #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Plenty of fish, July 2019
Lizard breath, August 2014
Flattened fish, June 2007

Thursday, November 30, 2023

On truth and lies

"In the information war, the one who speaks the truth will always lose to the liar because the truth teller is limited to the truth and the liar has no such boundaries."
Robert Sheckley

Return to the crossroads

Reflecting on a neighbourhood
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

This isn’t the first time I’ve visited this corner and composed a long-lens scene toward the setting sun. But if you’ve been hanging around my feed for long enough, it’s probably become apparent that I like to return to the same places again and again.

I’m not a believer in one-and-done images, where we no longer need to return once the checklisted location has been crossed off. I don’t follow checklists when I shoot, and I don’t think one image of one place on the planet is ever enough to tell the story.

Things change. For better and for worse. And returning to a place after enough time has evolved to appreciate the deltas strikes me as reasonable.

We get together with good friends over and over, after all, because we always have something new to discuss or see or learn. We change over time with them, get to know them better, and build a sense of familiarity that only deliberate togetherness over a period of years or decades can accomplish. Time is the ultimate connector.

Well, places can teach us things, too, and it makes sense to keep coming back to those places that mean something to us.

This particular stretch may not seem significant, but where I’m standing as I take the photo is one of the many gateways to the sprawling forest that winds its way through our subdivision. Often, as I exit the woods and head for home, I like to point west and stand there for a few minutes as I take in the thrum. It feels so far away - the lights are 1.8 km away - yet thanks to the miracle of the telephoto lens, I can squish all that detail into a single frame.

And as I’ve evolved this touchstone of shooting a single image on the way home from a forest wander, I’ve built a collection of similar pics, all reflecting the ever-changing stretch of our neighborhood that is all too often ignored as we skitter from here to there and back.

There’s something to be said for slowing the moment down, and then creating more moments in exactly the same spot. It certainly gives me lots to ponder as I tuck the camera away and continue to walk back home.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sun #sunset #sky #cloud #clouds #weather #wx #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #streetphotography #gainsborough #wonderland #silhouette #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Quiet walks on cold nights

London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

Photography isn’t always about the scheduled shoots with all the equipment. Sometimes it’s about the pools of light that spontaneously catch our eye when we’re walking along a deserted street.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #street #streetphotography #night #nightphotography #monochrome #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Parking the hut, August 2023
Chasing snow at night, November 2021
No more games, August 2019
Date night, February 2018

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

King and Talbot in the rain

Intersecting lives
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

Life just kind of happens on a rainy downtown street corner on a Sunday afternoon in London.

Two women take a smoke break. A parked moped slowly soaks in the steady drizzle. Inside the restaurant, customers take in the woodsy hominess of a beloved eatery as they watch the street life unfold just outside the window.

Whether we’re outside looking in or inside looking out, we all feel the rhythm of this place, where for a brief moment in time the crowds of shoppers and wanderers push the darker concerns of this neighborhood aside.

Soon enough, though, the crowds will leave the rain-slicked streets. The vendors will close up shop for the night, and the creeping sense of darkness that haunts the core will return. At least until the next day.

Every scene has multiple sides. It’s up to us to look for the light and hope it eventually prevails. We all deserve to enjoy the streetscape. We all deserve a shot at experiences like this.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #urban #city #king #talbot #jdees #street #streetphotography #photography #apple #iphone #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

A moment in Tavistock, November 2023
Ticky tacky boxes, September 2009

Monday, November 27, 2023

Lessons from the horizon

Traces of light
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

If we look closely enough at the spot on the horizon where the Earth meets the sky, we might begin to notice a few things:
  • Everything above feeds everything below.
  • In fact, they’re more connected than they initially seem.
  • What looks close enough that you can touch it often is not.
  • Echoes take on many forms.
  • Just as quickly as a scene appears, it disappears, as well.
  • We don’t just see all of this. We hear and feel it, too.
If the heavens decide to cooperate tonight, I’ll wander over to that same spot in our neighbourhood park near where the Earth meets the horizon. It won’t look anything like this, but that’s kind of why we keep returning to this place.

There’s plenty of room if you’d like to join me.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sun #sunset #sky #clouds #cloudspotting #weather #wx #silhouette #forest #tree #trees #optimist #park #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Sunset approaches, October 2013
Sunset at Chelsea Pier, September 2006
More photo fun, August 2004

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Berries on red

London, ON
October 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

Thank you all for indulging my recent tendency to share photos from the woods.

If the photos we take tell the stories from the different chapters of our lives, then this latest chapter in mine involves more visits than usual to the place where the tall trees grow.

I’m not sure I understand why. I guess it’s an escape of sorts, an ongoing attempt to take a time-out from the day-to-day and catch my breath somewhat.

Or maybe I’m making up for most time. We’ve lived beside this lovely stretch of nature for decades, yet I’ve never really taken advantage of it. Instead, I’ve often promised myself that I’d get out there more often, but life all too often got in the way.

Perhaps I’m just tired of life getting in the way.

Whatever the reason, the result has been a photo roll filled with lots of trees, rivers, sunsets, and variations thereof - often to exclusion of other things.

At one point I wondered whether there was some kind of limit, some finite number of moments and photos at which point I’d have maxed myself out. I thought maybe I should find something else to shoot, somewhere else to go.

But then I reminded myself that none of this is a numbers game. No one is counting how many times I walk through the forest, and it’s perfectly fine if my photo roll reflects that for a bit. Or maybe even for more than a bit.

Photos reflect life, after all. This is mine for now. Could be worse.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #medway #valley #heritage #forest #tree #trees #red #branches #leaves #texture #thames #river #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Look way up, May 2021
Naked forest, December 2020

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Wordlessly watching the day end

Branched sunset
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

This is one of those rare photos where I don’t have anything to say.

As I did when I composed it, I invite you to just appreciate the moment. A moment when an empty branch swayed in the wind as the sun’s final rays of the day painted the trees above.

Not every moment needs words, after all.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sun #sunset #sky #clouds #cloudspotting #weather #wx #silhouette #forest #tree #trees #optimist #park #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

Red-tipped glory, December 2011
Very berry, December 2006

Friday, November 24, 2023

Sunrise on the front porch

Morning fire
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

It’s 7:04 on an otherwise uneventful Wednesday morning, a seemingly ordinary day in a seemingly ordinary neighbourhood.

I’m stepping outside with the dog when I notice the light. Brilliant and soft. Soothing and soul-stirring. And oh so fleeting.

Now, here in suburbia, surrounded by houses that are in turn dwarfed by even taller trees, we aren’t blessed with as much sky as we’d like. As the trees have finally lost their leaves, though, there’s just enough of a sliver of sky if we happen to head out at just the right moment on just the right day.

And on this day, there’s just enough (but not too much) cloud cover to take the sun’s rays and turn them into something brilliant before they shoot through the bare branches, get filtered by my corneas, activate my retinas, and are processed deep in my pre-caffeinated brain.

It’s impossible to ignore.

I probably should keep walking the dog, but the light show in front of us tugs at my soul. So I tug back on the leash and take her back inside so I can grab my camera for a quick front porch photo session. The dog looks at me with Schnauzer-like annoyance - she’s used to this from me - and stands just inside the door while I compose and shoot through the canopy.

I grab less than a dozen frames before the light begins to fade. I show this one to the dog because I figure she deserves an explanation before I put the camera away and restart her walk. She still looks annoyed, so I give her an extra hug and fish a treat out of my pocket. She happily munches away as we wander back outside and get into our walking groove.

By the time we get to the first corner, the once-brilliant sliver of sky has gone completely grey. The moment that stopped me in my tracks has now slipped into history. But it persists, in some form, in a bunch of pixels on my camera back home.

Thanks to a very patient dog and a lifelong tendency to dawdle over minutiae when I probably should be sticking to the plan, the memory will be waiting for us when we get back to the house.

I ponder that duality as we explore the now-flat-lit streets. Plans can be broken. Memories don’t wait. Light can touch our souls. Joy must be held onto. Tightly.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #sun #sunrise #sky #tree #trees #silhouette #cloud #clouds #cloudspotting #weather #wx #nature #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #photography #nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded

A new day dawns, February 2007

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Ties my father-in-law gave me

Finding Waldo
London, ON
November 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

For a whole lot of reasons, mostly revolving around no one’s need to see any more of my asymmetric nose than they absolutely must, I don’t take or share many photos of myself, particularly if they’re selfies.

But I’ll make an exception this time.

I took this a few minutes before a live national television interview last evening. I decided to wear one of my favourite ties. It’s my Where’s Waldo tie, and I’ve had it for decades.

Like most of the ties in my collection, it was gifted to me by my late father-in-law. Often, when we’d get together for Shabbat dinner on Friday night, at one point he’d shove a crinkled paper bag into my hand. “Here you go,” he’d gruffly say as I took out silk lovelies that you just can’t buy anymore.

He got them from his “Tie Guy”, one of his group of cronies he’d regularly meet for lunch. Over the years, it became our little thing, and I accumulated a spectacularly meaningful collection of ties along the way.

This one’s a little busy for TV, but I consciously pulled it up before this particular hit. See, my FIL would have turned 90 yesterday, and I felt like I needed to mark the day in some tangible way. I already think of him every time I put on one of his ties, but this wasn’t just any tie, and this wasn’t just any day. A little fun was called for.

In the end, the interview - a chat with the CBC’s Sarah Galashan about OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman being fired then rehired 5 days later - went exceptionally well, and I’ve got to think it was because of the tie.

My father-in-law would have found it amusing, and the fact that I couldn’t call him afterward reminded me of just how much I miss him over 4 years after we lost him.

Thanks again, Dad, for always making sure I had the best ties. As much as I love wearing them, I cherish the stories around how you gifted them to me infinitely more.

#ldnont #family #everything

Endings... June 2019