After living for a year in Ucluelet, on Vancouver Island's rugged outer shore, we decided to fulfill another dream and move to the downtown area of Vancouver. These are the adventures, in words and images, of a couple of retirees now based in Lower Lonsdale.

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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Etsy Walkabout

After a few days of rain, this morning dawned clear, bright and beautiful, with a crispness in the air that signals fall. All well and good, as we were off on the SeaBus to Vancouver to check out the Etsy fair at Robson Square.

Etsy is "a marketplace for crafters, artists, and collectors to sell their handmade creations, vintage goods, and crafting supplies". Although fairly small, there were some very interesting and beautiful goods being displayed, and a good crowd was in attendance.

We roamed about the square, checking out the tables, and the interesting folk both manning them and those browsing and buying.

Later, we adjourned to the Caffè Artigiano for a sandwich and one of their delicious lattes, and then did some shopping. While I was waiting for Marcelle in the mall, I spotted these interesting mannequins and just had to grab a shot.

Shopping completed, we elected for a circuitous route, and wandered over to the Public Library, and then down to Gastown on our way back to the SeaBus terminal.



We're still thrilled that getting downtown from Lower Lonsdale is such an easy journey. It's great to be able to use public transit and not have to worry about the car and parking and traffic etc. Once TransLink finally get their act together with the Compass pass system, it will be perfect!



Friday, 26 September 2014

Night Market Finale

Tonight marked this year's final Night Market at the Shipyards. Marcelle and I had planned to attend, and during the afternoon, having endured the day's incessant rain, took advantage of the cessation and decided to splurge on dinner out too.

Living in Lower Lonsdale is such a treat in no small way due to the surfeit of excellent restaurants, and tonight, we decided to try the Jagerhof Restaurant. Luckily, we phoned ahead for a reservation, which was indeed fortuitous as the place was jammed. The Austrian fare this marvellous establishment serves is second to none, and both our meals were superb. Accompanied and serenaded by a duo consisting of accordion and guitar, we ate until we were stuffed, and then shamelessly ordered and consumed dessert.

After our leisurely repast, we waddled downhill to the shipyards where things were starting to wind down. Wandering through the stalls and out to one of the piers, I took some images of downtown across the inlet, the lights of the skyline reflecting colourfully on the dark water.


Looking back, the lit-up shipyard crane towered over the stalls, the Lonsdale skyline behind it.

As we ambled back through the area toward home, I took a quick image of one of the food truck employees waiting patiently for another customer. She rewarded me with a sunny smile which I returned in kind.

As we ran the gamut of trucks, from each one, varied and wondrous aromas wafted, the air redolent with smells that were we not already totally satisfied ourselves with an elegant sufficiency, we would surely have had to indulge.

We will now look forward with anticipation to the recommencement of these superb events. Perhaps by then, we will have lost enough weight that we can imbibe without too much guilt.



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Of Books and Peppers

Just a couple of images from today... We went out to do some shopping and to go to the library to get new cards for North Vancouver. As a library-goer for almost 60 years, it's been interesting to see the way technology has changed this venerable institution.

I have fond memories of getting my first library card, a child's card, of course, but it was a big deal to be able to walk out clutching a bundle of volumes that could transport you to alternate worlds, giving you a glimpse of experiences and imaginings far beyond your own modest knowledge.

I was always a voracious reader, and much more comfortable with my nose stuck firmly between the pages than on the playing field. I could, and did, lose myself for hours, firmly wedged behind a tome. Early on, I migrated to science fiction, and to all ends, have still got the bug for it. Not only did it satisfy my curious and logical mind, it transported me to realms beyond what was around me. I'd also subscribe to and read magazines such as Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, and marvel about the world to come when we'd all be winging to work in our personal helicopters and flying cars. The vision of the future was marvelous to behold.

In some ways, reality has so far outshone these early predictions, it simply boggles the mind. I now carry in my pocket more computing power than NASA had in rooms of computers for the 1969 moon mission! And yet... and yet, in some cases, we're still awaiting the predictions to come to fruition. I recently saw an article on the web that discussed how Stanley Kubrick's 1968 blockbuster movie, 2001: A Space Odessey, has yet to be even close to our present reality. I'm also still waiting for my personal helicopter.

When we went to the library when I was a child, and even well into my teens and early adolescence, it was all card catalogues for finding books, and tedious, handwritten cards that accompanied the books to track who had what, and when they were due back. Today, as we checked out, it's all scanners and computers.

To a certain extent, gone is the interaction with the stern, bespeckled and ancient librarian who would carefully scrutinize your books, making sure that they were suitable for your children's card. God forbid you tried to check out anything too lurid or salacious! Gone too, seemingly, is that marvelous smell of the accumulations of old paper as you roamed the stacks. You can still experience this in some of the used book stores that seem to be a hoarder's delight, piles spilling untidily off shelves and creating mounds on the floors. In all likelihood, this is probably more to do with proper humidity control and ventilation rather than the loss of something elemental.

Graduation to an adult library card was almost a rite of passage for the avid reader. It meant that you had the keys to the kingdom and could roam at will, no longer subject to the gatekeeper. Mind you, the first time you checked out 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' or 'Catcher in the Rye' (just to see what all the fuss was about, of course) you probably still got "the look" from the censor at the desk, but hell, you could just brazen it out, and really, it wasn't any big deal after all!

Sometimes, you ran across a librarian who became a mentor, a kindred soul who not only understood your passion on a subject or genre, but could become a pointer to more of the same, or even better, suggest titles that far exceeded your expectations. Bless these people! They afforded me so much pleasure over the years, lead me to appreciate literature of all types, and certainly fostered any writing skills that I now possess.

Books became a passion over the years that caused them to accumulate, and I swear, in some cases, breed silently on the shelves. For years, we had more tonnage of books to pack and haul than virtually all of the rest of the household goods put together! There again, technology has come to the rescue... Now, I have a huge collection of books, but on my iPad. Not only has this medium allowed me to easily carry a virtual library in my hand, it has saved my eyesight by offering choseable text sizes and background colour. Unless you are getting on in years, you simply can't imagine the luxury this presents.

Sometimes though, the iPad just isn't the best medium. One thing I cannot understand is why iBooks doesn't allow multiple books to be open at once, like tabs I a web browser. I don't know about you, but most avid readers can have more than one book going at a time. I am certainly in this category, and it incenses me that I have to close one book, then search the "library" to find the other one I'm reading. As forward-thinking as Apple is, in many cases, they are downright stupid.

When we moved from Langley to Ucluelet, I donated hundreds of photography books I'd collected over the years to Langara College. I simply couldn't justify moving almost two large bookcases of volumes yet again. There were a couple of shelves worth, however, that simply had to remain with me. These were primarily books by my favorite artists, such as Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith, Doisneau, Nachtwey and a few select others. For these, I simply have to see them on the printed page. In some cases, such as this, the actual book trumps the virtual one.

As Marcelle continued to roam the stacks, I slipped out and wandered along Lonsdale, and spotted these lovely, colourful peppers that are the sole images for today. Now you'll excuse me while I get back to my book.



Sunday, 21 September 2014

Gettin' Around

Friday evening, the Shipyards Night Market was held again, an event that always draws me out. A sky just made for taking pictures precided over all, and so naturally, Dear Reader, I followed the programme and took shameless advantage of it!

As the band played on, I roamed the area, looking for interesting images.




Out on the pier, I spied a curious seal surfacing to check out the humans, his stiff eyebrows catching the late afternoon sunlight. He watched for a moment or two and then slowly sank beneath the surface, leaving only a few ripples to mark his passage.


Further out, a freighter sat at anchor, framed by the downtown skyline, and above, a weighty sky hung, catching the sun's colour, while small patches of blue struggled through shifting rents.


Looking back, a glimpse of the surrounding mountains emerged through the low-lying clouds, the wind turbine prominent in the oblique light. I find this layered effect just magical, and it's one of the lovely bonuses of living near the mountains.


As I walked back along the pier, I noticed a heron perched on the pilings, his sinuous silhouette overlaying the reflections.

As I watched, he spread his wings and flapped off over water that looked like a river of molten gold.


Saturday morning, I boarded the SeaBus and spent a couple of leisurely hours wandering around downtown, enjoying the clear skies and warmth.



A wonderful couple of days, life here is just so full of colour, form and drama.

Keep calm and chive on!


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Workin' on the Workshop

Yesterday, as the rain fell and the sounds of traffic on wet pavement crept through our open windows, I spent most of the day updating a presentation whose origins date back 20 years. Back then, it was based on 35mm slides shown on a cranky Kodak Carousel projector. Since that time, it has morphed to digital, first on PowerPoint, and finally to the superb Apple-based Keynote software.

Over time, the course has grown to include newer topics, as well as updated information. And, with each iteration of the presentation, the visual content has changed as my own photography has changed and grown.

One of the guiding principles to which I have assiduously stuck is that because we are talking about photography, it must be primarily visual in presentation. What better way to talk about and explain photographic principles than through images themselves? With almost 300 total slides, there are only 10 that are "bullet point" slides necessary to explain terms.

Where additional guidance is required, I use overlay animations on images to illustrate concepts. The result is a fully immersive graphic experience that 'shows' the viewer the principles, rather than having to read about them.

The almost wholesale change from film to digital equipment and media has also changed the course over the years, so that I now have a section devoted to workflow to help explain and guide participants through the steps they can follow for best results.

Entitled 'Composition, Creativity & Karma', the presentation is offered in three main parts:

Composition looks at the basic steps in framing an image for the best effect, and offers guidance and simple "rules" that yield the best results.

Creativity addresses ways in which equipment works and is best used, as well as discussing many different photographic subjects and how to effectively portray them.

Karma talks about the main natural factors that make our images come alive, such as weather, the 'decisive moment' and light itself.

The presentation is about 90 minutes in length, followed by Q&A to ensure that participants can feel satisfied with what they take away, which I hope, is a more complete understanding of photographic principles as they apply to what people shoot, or wish to shoot.

Technology marches on, and as I have evolved from using slides and a slide projector, then a video projector with a laptop computer, I can now use my iPad Air to hold and present the course! Previously when I tried this, the iPad wouldn't hold the entire file, and the apps just weren't up to showing it as it was designed on the desktop. (Now all I need is one of those tiny, pocket-sized projectors, and fit would all fit into a small bag... amazing!)

Years ago, forced into it, I found to my surprise, that I simply loved teaching! Not only that, but I'm good at it too (so I've been told). At one time, I had aspirations to do workshops as a money-making venture, but I've found that the real joy comes from offering this freely to schools, charities and community organizations. To that end, as we've just moved to North Van, I've offered it the the North Vancouver Arts Council, and I'm hoping that they will find an opportunity for me to present it soon.

There's a special joy to photography, and beyond that, there's an immense satisfaction in being able to mentor others to realize that joy. Knowledge cascading has always been a personal ethic and goal. I hope I can help teach and inspire others to experience the joy I feel whenever I pick up my cameras and venture forth.

Stay tuned...


Thursday, 18 September 2014

One Camera, One Lens, One View

Our walk this morning took us west along 3rd, then wove down to pick up the Spirit Trail, which, unfortunately, is still closed off, so we then headed back along Esplanade, past the dry docks. At one point, I looked out across the inlet to see an anachronistic image of a paddle-wheeler moving past a moored freighter.

While I almost always venture forth with two camera bodies, today, I just took one, with my small, but superb Voigtländer 90mm lens. This beautiful piece of glass gives me a 35mm equivalent of 135mm, but when shot wide open, with a fast aperture of f3.5, it yields a beautiful bokeh (a Japanese word that describes the quality of the out-of-focus area in an image).

We ambled along to Waterfront Park, and then noticed the entrance to Chiba Gardens, a small, but lovely enclave tucked into the area adjacent to the park's west entrance.

On the stairs leading to the railway overpass, I was able to point my lens through the chain-link fence to capture this view of the rail sidings. I love trains and the geometry of railway lines and I plan to walk further west on 3rd to get a few views of the more elaborate rail yard there.

Walking back home, looking through the park to downtown, I am struck by what a beautiful city Vancouver is, and what a great place to live, view and visit it, is North Vancouver! We are so pleased to be living here now.

Lower Lonsdale is a constant surprise in that right in among the residential and commercial, we find garden plots that are simply a feast for the eye. I never tire of detouring through these vegetable patches to see what's blooming.



Even the compost bin yields a fantastic palette of varied colours and textures that could hardly be called waste!

In one corner, we skirted a langarous Triffid, its deadly head drooping in repose. Luckily it had evidently eaten recently and was uninterested in our presence.

Peonies proliferate like miniature stellar explosions of colour and texture.


The diversity of views, activities and people is what we had hoped for here, and we've been richly rewarded.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Who are the Red Men?

My morning constitutional today took me north from 3rd Street up Lonsdale to 21st, then back down to the Quay, and then home for lunch. Just me, a couple of cameras, and a sharp eye to look for graphic elements that trigger the compositional reflex.

At the north end of my route, I spotted these sculptures that are part of the Brazilfest activities that feature Brazilian artists' works.

I love street art, and it's nice to see so much of it here in the area.

As I walked past this equine sculpture, I noticed that embedded in the sidewalk leading up to it, are metal horseshoe prints... cool!

And what is B.C. without the presence of the ubiquitous bear?

Passing by one of the many markets, I am drawn to the display of peppers, which look wonderful as a black and white composition.

A pleasant stroll, some nice images, and now it's time for lunch. Cheers!