australian curves

A road leading up to the Tablelands in Queensland, Australia.

just a wall?

Another shot in Victoria. Look at this old wall, it is beautiful!

The pattern (bond) of the bricks in this picture is five rows of stretchers (bricks laid lengthwise) to every one row of headers (bricks laid widthwise). This is similar but not quite the same as an English Garden Wall Bond which is three rows of stretchers to one of headers. The pattern is also similar but not quite the same as American bond which is a six to one pattern. Maybe the bricklayers decided that as Canada was somewhere in between England and the United States they would pick an in-between figure. The pattern leans more toward the American though and note around the windows the method used to create the bond is to cut a three quarters length brick which for sure is American because most England bonds use a header followed by a ‘queen closure’ which is a brick split lengthways and laid sideways in the wall. The other clue that this is a more American scene than English is that these types of bond would only be used on garden walls in England — for buildings with nine-inch think walls (which is what this wall is) where higher degrees of structural integrity are required bonds with more frequent patters of headers are used because they reduce the numbers of internal straight joints and thereby strengthen the wall.

uvic duck

Another shot from Victoria where the weather is great for ducks.

kill bill

This evening I was talking on the phone to my niece in England and she asked me to post this picture that I took of her a couple of years ago. She was slicing bread while trying to explain to her mom why she should be allowed to see the movie ‘Kill Bill.’ Needless to say her mom did not let her go.

ironic

Ironic that this shot, which is the picture I enjoy the most from my trip to the University of Victoria, could have been taken almost anywhere

wild salmon need you

I came across these folk protesting outside the British Columbia provincial legislature. It was nice of them to let me take their photo, in return I post a link to their site at www.friendsofwildsalmon.ca

I am here

I am here - and so are my bags now!

pearson international airport

This is Terminal One, Toronto Pearson International Airport, taken just before I left for Victoria, British Columbia. At this point I still had my luggage, but by the time I got to Victoria I did not! But no harm done—I had my camera in my carry on baggage.

king street

I wonder why there is a ‘King Street’ in so many cities, this one is in Sydney Australia.

stupid

Exploring the backwoods of Burlington I came across a small community where several people have signs like this on their property. By the looks of the bridge someone would have to be ‘stupid’ to try and cross it, but I do not think that this is what the owner is getting at here. I am not sure of their point, but I am sure that it annoys me for some reason.

meeting at night

When I tried some Photoshop impressionist effects on this shot the lone sailor in the boat reminded me of the chap in Robert Brownings poem, ‘meeting at night,’ so I just had to post it, even though it no longer looks like a real photo. I know it is not night in the image but it will be soon and then when the moon comes up the story will unfold. I will let Browning finish the tale:

MEETING AT NIGHT

The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

kiwi and irwin

Irwin, the slate peach faced lovebird on the right, was very lonely and did not chirp or sing. Irwin wished that he had a close special friend but sadly all the other birds he lived with paid him no attention. The other birds would play together but when Irwin tried to join in they would fly away. Irwin spent most of this time sitting sad and alone.

In a city not far away lived Kiwi, a Pacific Parrotlet. Kiwi had a very good home with people who loved him, but he got lonely during the day when they were out at work and at school. Kiwi’s family could see that he longed for friends and it was a hard decision but they knew it would be best for Kiwi if he were to live with other birds. So his family brought him to the house where Irwin lived.

Kiwi was likely to get along with the other birds but unlikely to get along with Irwin because Love Birds and Pacific Parrotlets are both territorial. At best Kiwi would ignore Irwin and at worst they would clash, either way Kiwi arriving was likely to make Irwin even sadder and lonely because he would be one more friend he did not have. But when Kiwi arrived he flew direct to Irwin’s side and began to groom him. Irwin snuggled next to Kiwi and began to groom back. From that moment on Irwin and Kiwi have been inseparable and they spend each and evry day cuddling and singing to each other - and they lived happily ever after.

Don’t you just love happy endings!

cyberman?

This thing kept staring at me when I was at the observation level of Toronto's CN Tower. Is it a cyberman or some new robotic security system? Perhaps an alien visitor trying to make first contact? I tried talking to it but it did not answer. Any ideas?

hamilton tree episode two

I am posting hamilton tree episode two sooner than I planned because of the weather today. I took the shot this afternoon and it does not show in the photo but there was light snow. It never ceases to amaze me how in Ontario this time of year we go from wearing shorts one week to needing an overcoat the next. Click the "hamilton tree" label below to see all episodes.

dreams of freedom

As I took this shot I was thinking of Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem about a not so distant relative of the chicken—the turkey. It begins:

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos turkeys jus wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, an turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum...

If you have never heard Zephaniah you don't know what you are missing!

24-pounder

I took this photo of a 24-pounder cannon at Hamilton town center. I am not sure why people leave these things laying around on street corners — don’t they know how dangerous they are!

tobowghule

Trying to avoid controversy I am back to posting trees, but even trees can be political!

Behind this tree is Bennelong Point and the iconic Sydney Opera House which grounds Australia’s identity in European entertainment traditions and ultra-modern European architecture. The ancient tree and modern opera house stand in juxtaposition within a historical and political context. This place used to be known as Tubowghule, a name given to it by aboriginal peoples in a time when its shoreline was scattered with millions of oyster shells left from tens of thousands of years of gathering. When the British occupied the area they collected the shells, made lime from them and used this in mortar to build a structure that they told the aboriginal people was ‘Government House.’ From this building they successfully planned ways to remove the territories and children from the surrounding aboriginal nations. The British also changed the name of the land the Opera House now stands on from ‘Tubowghle’ to ‘Bennelong Point,’ a name derived from an aboriginal person they kidnapped and used as a cultural interlocutor in the colonization process.

So against this backdrop how is the photograph to be understood? The answer is that it is to be understood whichever way you understand it. But when you first saw the photograph, if you did not know this place as ‘Tubowghle,’ if like me you visited Australia without finding out its non-European name, perhaps you will see that almost everything we understand is culturally and politically mediated.

So what do I see in this photograph? I see a magnificent building that I truly admire in a city I love! But I also see irony in its white curved structures that most people think represent sails, like those of the ships that brought the British, but which I think are more reminiscent of sea shells and a deeper history buried beneath the building, a history that perhaps the tree remembers and understands.

liberty on a confetti covered street

Photography is not just about art, it is also about politics and power. What is represented and how it is portrayed is decided by the photographer. How it is seen and understood is decided by the viewer. But this communication is mediated in a social context that shapes interpretation and meaning. Consequently the photographer and the audience must pay attention to this context. Complex stuff!

After my Gay Pride posting a person sent me a message that cut to the heart of these complexities. She wondered why I had represented the men at the Pride Parade but not the 'female contingent.' She asked whether this was because I found it ‘difficult to capture in the realm of emotion or physicality’ or because of the challenge inherent in presenting ‘the lesbian ideal with dignity and respect.’ Insightful questions that read my mind because yes I do struggle with both of these issues. If I do not capture emotion and physicality I fail as a photographer. If I do not show dignity and respect to the subject I fail as a human being. The stakes are high in posting any image but especially ones from such a politically charged context as Pride Day. The writer presents me with quite the challenge!

Here is my answer to that struggle; a moment from that day not designed to capture ideals (because I am not sure what they are) nor designed to represent ‘the female contingent’ (because this was just 1/125 of a second and one aspect of that day), but a photo that I hope conveys with dignity and respect a freedom of emotion and physicality in a moment of public companionship that I believe all people should have the liberty to enjoy every day.

I bet you never knew photography is so complex! I hope I have got this one right. Well tomorrow I am going back to posting pictures of trees!

Oh - and feel free to comment - on the politics or the art.

gay pride

I took this photo at the Toronto Pride Parade. I am straight, not gay, but I went with a friend from church to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people’s rights. I don’t really care how you argue this theologically or politically, all I know is that exclusion, hostility and violence toward people because they are in same sex relationships is wrong (and I know both gay and lesbian people who have lost been assaulted because of being in same sex relationships and a gay friend who actually lost his job!). That is simply not right! So I go to Pride Day as an ally to show support. Consider going too and if you want to find out more about the issue read this Amnesty International book with a forward written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Anyway back to the shot - enjoy the photo! And you gota love those abs!

hamilton tree episode one

I took this picture last week of a tree in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). I call the picture ‘episode one’ because I plan to visit the tree several times over the coming years to photograph it in different weather and seasons. Click the "hamilton tree" label below to see all episodes.

sydney seagull

Yet another picture from Sydney - I really like this city - mind you I really like every city I visit.

skateboarder dude

Another shot from my recent trip to Sydney.