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Pics & Prose


A rusted old Dodge in a field in Muskoka

Hey, do you like my truck?

Did you notice the grain of the steel? How about the water drops on the head­lights and fend­ers? Any chance I enjoyed shoot­ing this?


A series of Muskokan photos

We were lucky enough to spend some time with our friends Effi and Larry’s up at their cot­tage in Muskoka this week­end. It was a quick affair with us driv­ing up after work on Fri­day, then return­ing home this morn­ing. The real pur­pose of the trip was to take in the Fall col­ours and to check out the Bala Cran­berry Fest­ival.

On Sat­urday morn­ing we drove up to Johnston’s Cran­berry Marsh shortly after they’d opened. The day was glor­i­ously sunny and warm, with a clear blue skies and the trees in full col­our. We star­ted with a wagon tour which drove around a few cran­berry marshes. The tour was quite inform­at­ive and the guide quick with the wit. For example, did you know that cran­ber­ries were ori­gin­ally called crane­ber­ries? But when the First Nations people texted the name to the early set­tlers, auto-correct changed it to cran­ber­ries. 😉

While we missed an oppor­tun­ity to wade in a flooded bog, Mat­thew and I did go for a heli­copter ride (Larry & Effi went for their own trip as well). It was my first time in a chop­per and the trip, although short at only 10 minutes, was fant­astic. I was sur­prised by a couple of things. For one, it doesn’t quite feel like fly­ing in a fixed wing air­craft, even in a smal­ler Cessna. While you feel the wind buf­feting the air­craft as you would in a smal­ler plane, there’s less of a sense of fly­ing. Secondly, I fully expec­ted the climb and des­cent to feel like rid­ing in an elev­ator, but it didn’t.

As you can see by the main pic­ture how­ever, the view was spec­tac­u­lar.

Fol­low­ing our aer­ial trip, we hopped a shuttle (school) bus to the nearby town of Bala to check out other activ­it­ies, the high­light of which was eat­ing a cranberry-cream cheese spring roll. Words can­not do it justice. We milled about for a couple of hours before head­ing back. All in all, it was a won­der­ful out­ing.

This morn­ing, before head­ing back home, I took the oppor­tun­ity to shoot the trees and fog float­ing across Ada Lake. This is one of the many shots I came away. At some point I’ll get to look­ing through the oth­ers; trouble is, I still haven’t fin­ished work­ing on my pho­tos from New York. I need to spend some time at home!

Eternally Thankful

A view of some islands at Devil LakeWrap­ping up yet another busy week­end, this one filled with travel, traf­fic, much laughter and pre­cious time with fam­ily.

Stopped the Pathfinder on the way home today to cap­ture this lovely photo along the Perth Road (High­way 10) across from Vander­bilts Island on Devil Lake. Love that Thom­sonesque tree on the right.


People strolling in Central Park, NYC

Strolling through Cent­ral Park.

I love the kid run­ning into frame in a spot of sun­shine; caught him mid-stride in a dip in the ter­rain.

NYC: Day 3 [and 4] (written in Toronto)

A series of photos from my third day in NYC 2016

And like a flash of light­ning, it’s over. But let’s head back to Sat­urday.

Already real­iz­ing that there were quite a few items on my list that I wouldn’t get to check off, I knuckled down and set off to Midtown East, hop­ing to pho­to­graph the Ed Koch Queens­boro bridge which was on last year’s list. I took the num­ber 6 train to 53rd street, think­ing it best to be a bit fur­ther away to take the shot. I man­aged to find a spot that ven­tured over the FDR so I could get a view of the East River and came away with the photo up above. I’ll admit it’s not the pret­ti­est shot, but the bridge made my list because it was fea­tured in Woody Allen’s Man­hat­tan, one of my favour­ite films which, incid­ent­ally, was shot in black and white. Look­ing back at Google Maps I’ve since dis­covered that I was actu­ally in the wrong spot and that there’s another loc­a­tion that’s closer to the bridge. I’ll have to check it out next time, in the even­ing, I think.

On the way uptown, I had noticed that I was close to both the Chrysler Build­ing and Grand Cent­ral Sta­tion. Although neither loc­a­tion were on my list, I thought it wise to check them both out. I star­ted with a 15-block walk south, down Lex­ing­ton Avenue, passing grand hotels and some quite beau­ti­ful archi­tec­ture includ­ing the Gen­eral Elec­tric Build­ing, bot­tom right. This 50-floor sky­scraper, ori­gin­ally known as the RCA Vic­tor Build­ing, fea­tures clas­sic Art Deco design. Even­tu­ally, I made my way around the Chrysler Build­ing, another Art Deco-style edi­fice that is prob­ably my favour­ite. I spent a fair amount of time switch­ing out lenses and tak­ing pho­to­graphs from dif­fer­ent vant­age points, includ­ing one of a Fire Depart­ment rig’s lights reflect­ing on one of the building’s ornate steel gates. The photo didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped, but it’s still inter­est­ing enough.

My last stop was Grand Cent­ral Sta­tion which was impress­ive, to say the least. I’d visu­al­ized the clas­sic black and white shot, with sun­beams stream­ing down and blurred com­muters rush­ing by, but then real­ized this would only be cap­tured at a cer­tain time of day, with a tri­pod; neither of which I had. Still, I came away with a photo that I’m quite pleased with and cap­tured the ceil­ing which I never really knew about.

From here I jumped back on the num­ber 6 train down to the Bleecker Street sta­tion and spent some time wan­der­ing the streets of Lower Man­hat­tan, stop­ping for a slice of pizza which I ate with other tour­ists and some loc­als at stand­ing tables on the side­walk. It’s a great way to people watch. Even­tu­ally, I made my way to the Inter­na­tional Center of Pho­to­graphy and paid four­teen bucks to enter the gal­lery. Sadly, I wasn’t as taken with the exhib­its as I’d hoped; to be hon­est, there were more video install­a­tions that still pho­to­graphy. I get it, they’re related, but I’m about cap­tur­ing a moment in time, so I was a bit dis­ap­poin­ted.

As for the boys, we met up at the foun­tain in Wash­ing­ton Square Park and walked to the Rivi­era Sports Bar which is no dif­fer­ent than any other sports bar. How­ever, after cheer­ing for a goal in the Canada v Rus­sia game, a woman asked if we were Cana­dian. Acknow­ledging that we were, she sat down and chat­ted with us until we left. We never did intro­duce ourselves by name, but she’s a nat­ive Win­nipeger who’s been liv­ing in Green­wich Vil­lage for the past 25 years and makes a point to talk with fel­low Cana­dians when they fre­quent the bar her part­ner owns. We joked about the massive influx of Amer­ic­ans and Cana­dian expats should Trump win the elec­tion and she offered Brian sug­ges­tions on where to eat which he’s added to next year’s list.

We ended up at Jack’s Wife Freda for din­ner and the con­sensus was unan­im­ous that this was the best res­taur­ant of the trip. The food was fresh and deli­cious while the atmo­sphere was vibrant. Sati­ated, we walked back to West 10th Street to catch Sam New­s­ome Quar­tet at Smalls, a fire­trap of a jazz club which is oh, so cool. The music itself was more exper­i­mental than I’m used to but was enjoy­able non­ethe­less. I stuck around for the second set but left with Derek before the next band around 1:30 am.

Sunday morn­ing I made my way to Murray’s Bagels for some break­fast: a New York-style bagel with cream cheese. It’s pretty good but can’t pos­sibly match a Montreal-style bagel; I’m just say­ing. With a few hours left on the clock, I ven­tured around Green­wich Vil­lage, tak­ing more shots and enjoy­ing the sun­shine. Closer to noon, Brian, Jeremy, Derek and I hoped in a cab and made our way back to New Jer­sey for the flight home.

This trip this year offered a few more insights: cash is king and older New York women favour the oddest of eye­glasses. But the one photography-related per­cep­tion I came away with was that it’ll take some time before I con­sist­ently get the shots I expect in this city. For starters, I’ve got to get those stand­ard touristy pho­tos out of my sys­tem. I also found I had to do the same with archi­tec­ture shots on day one; yes, they were crappy and I’ve since deleted them, but it was part of the path in eas­ing into the good pho­to­graphs I’d even­tu­ally come away with.

On our last day I came across a small gal­lery on Hud­son Street. It was closed, with bars across the win­dow, but I could see a series of beau­ti­ful black-and-white pho­tos taken through­out New York City. A fresh blanket of snow was evid­ent in every shot and it occurred to me that I’d never be able to get shots like these unless I lived there. It’s some­thing you need to plan for, with spe­cific gear eas­ily at hand. I’ll never live there but I do hope to keep going back, year after year.

Each time, I expect, I’ll be bet­ter pre­pared. For example, this year I ren­ted a 50mm f1.2 lens to cap­ture some more street pho­to­graphy. I wanted a high qual­ity lens (it’s out­stand­ing) and to be con­strained by the lim­its of it being a prime (it’s a fixed lens which doesn’t zoom). I loved the exper­i­ence, even though I didn’t get nearly as much street pho­to­graphy as I wanted. While I did use it for gen­eral and some street pho­to­graphy, my inhib­i­tions kept me from doing more. Hope­fully, I grow past this.

As for next year, I’ve already star­ted think­ing of gear require­ments. A tri­pod will allow me to do more in the even­ings and I’m still curi­ous to see what I can do with a tilt-shift lens. In the mean­time, I’ve got another 100 or so images to work on and that should do me for a while.

Today’s Photo Tet­rap­tych: The Queens­boro Bridge | The Chrysler Build­ing | Bust­ling at Grand Cent­ral Sta­tion | The Gen­eral Elec­tric Build­ing

NYC: Day 2 (written on Day Four) a.k.a Falling Behind

A series of photos from my second day in NYC 2016I’m sit­ting at the desk in my hotel room, with 35 minutes to go before we head out to the air­port. There’s a mir­ror right in front of me and boy, do I look tired.

Thank good­ness for the pho­tos, oth­er­wise I’m not too sure I’d remem­ber the cor­rect order of events. Speak­ing of which, it’s quite likely I’ll need to post this entry’s pho­tos later on. So let’s get star­ted.

Fri­day began with break­fast at Le Pain Quo­ti­dien before set­ting off to the MoMA, New York’s Museum of Mod­ern. A few of us took advant­age of Brian’s mem­ber­ship to gain access at a reduced cost. While I only explored two of the six floors, I saw a lovely col­lec­tion fea­tur­ing works I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly fond of but with some gems I quite liked. There was also a 1960s exhibit which was quite impress­ive and a three-dimensional install­a­tion fea­tur­ing lay­ers of sand which can’t quite be explained; at least not in my cur­rent state of alert­ness.

From the MoMA I walked up to 7th Avenue, then turned up to make my way to Cent­ral Park, walk­ing through its south­east corner until I arrived at Straw­berry Fields, a 2-and-a-half acre area which pays trib­ute to John Len­non. It took quite some time to cap­ture a photo of the Ima­gine mosaic because tour­ist kept walk­ing on it for pho­tos or selfies.

From this point I walked back down Cent­ral Park West to Colum­bus Circle—shunning the Trump Tower—where I hopped on the train back to the Vil­lage. I decided to lay down for a bit but received a text mes­sage from Greg who had arrived in town. We met down­stairs, then headed out to pick up a few gro­cer­ies, stop­ping for an excel­lent cup of cof­fee some­where in the East Vil­lage.

It wasn’t long before we hooked up with the rest of the group at one of my favour­ite spots, the Broome Street Bar in Soho. A few pints and some meas­ure of time later, we were off to yet another water­ing hole, just a block away, called Toad Hall. A couple (or was it a few?) more pints of craft brew were con­sumed and much laughter ensued before we rambled next door to Lucky Strike for din­ner.

We fin­ished off the even­ing with, of course, some jazz at the Vil­lage Van­guard, catch­ing the Bill Char­lap Trio which was quite enjoy­able. One piece in par­tic­u­lar moved me in a way I’d never exper­i­ence at a live per­form­ance. All in all, a good day.

Today’s Photo Tet­rap­tych: The Petros­sian | Chop­per at the MoMA | Sky­scrapers in Midtown | Ima­gine at Straw­berry Fields