august long redux (found on roadside edition)

There was more to the August long weekend than I let on here.

Part of the 1,200km of driving was a 10-hour trip within the trip, to visit an aunt and uncle in Saskatchewan for a celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. As my uncle mentioned in his speech, it’s not very often we see an anniversary of 50 years, but it’s even less often that a parent of one of the celebrants is alive to see it; his mother is still alive and kicking at 107 years old.

According to Statistics Canada she has already lived three-quarters longer than the life expectancy for a woman born in 1908. Statistically most of her peer group wouldn’t even have lived to see my uncle’s fifth wedding anniversary.

Along the way to the party we decided to selfie-document the trip:

Hour 0: Welcome to Saskatchewan. Watch out for fire-farting birds.

 

Grenfell
Hour 2: Grenfell. Land of…well, land.

 

Hour 10: Back in Manitoba. Someone was sleeping in the car…

.:.

Another roadside attraction encountered was the field of sunflowers in all their beauty, and while not as breathtaking, I also took a much more interesting photo of them.

This is with the same camera, #nofilter:

Sunflowers, 1970's style

I love it because it inexplicably feels like a grainy Polaroid from the 1970’s. Just as the other sunflower photo, this was taken with my iPhone, within a meter or two of the other location.

To get the same feel with my Pentax, I had to tweak some of the lighting in post-production, but here’s my attempt at retro bad photography:

sunflowers, aged
sunflowers, aged

I actually like it because it has similar (though more vibrant) colour, but it doesn’t have the grainy blur that the pixelation gave the other one.

And to prove I didn’t just travel back in time to get 70’s light everywhere, here’s the before and after of my modified photo:

sunflowers, before and after
sunflowers, before and after

.:.

The chickens are now safely in our freezer. Plenty of feet, liver, and meat to take us into winter.

We also got a handful of gizzards in the mix, which Kelly made up popcorn chicken style (along with popcorn olives and yams). Yum! It was the first time we’d had gizzard, and based on the prep necessary, probably the last. But if you’re looking for a good way to prepare chicken gizzard (or probably anything, really), try battering and deep frying.

meeting the city

If there is one thing that characterizes my travels, it is wandering. Exploring. Finding the nooks and crannies of new and old cities. Including my own.

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I love glancing — and walking — down back alleys to see what’s there, climbing hills and objects to get another view, and — when I have my camera in hand — being a tourist wherever I am.

I love the beauty of nature and of urban portraits.

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I love the familiar and lifeless made personal. The transformation from forgettable background to memories. From downtown back alley to “the back alley with numbers written on the metal door that’s sunken into the wall. There was a piece of ice hanging onto its anchor for dear life, dancing around in the wind, right over there.”

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illumination | photo challenge

Old NO. 7 (illumination)

I wanted to start the photo challenge again, and thought bottles of liquor would work well with the theme of “illumination”, giving a chance (and challenge) to work with the various shapes and colours that are out there.

I went with Bombay Sapphire and Jack Daniels, as the gin bottle is a lovely blue with clear liquid, and the whiskey bottle has such a distinctly recognizable shape.

Steve let me use a few of his softboxes for the shoot, along with one of his speedlights. My main focus was the Bombay Sapphire bottle, as it nearly glows when you use the light properly. The Jack was a bit of a disappointment, as the bottle and liquid are both dark, so try as I might, the light would just get sucked up with nothing but glare to show for it.

This shot was the surprise of the night, though — cropping a shot of the entire bottle just above the shoulder, as I really liked the colour of the whiskey in the neck (this is what I had been hoping for with the whole bottle, and might still go for by removing the label), as well as the look of their trademark “No. 7”.

The original shot also works well when cropped just above the main label, as it’s more recognizable as a bottle of whiskey (and still a compelling photo), so I might put that up later for comparison.

celebration | photo challenge

This is a time of celebrations. Christmas is a few weeks out, the long weekend of New Year’s, a student’s birthday this weekend, two co-workers’ birthdays within the next week, and Kelly’s completion of her B.Ed today. But in all that, there was something that caught my ear last night. A celebration that I often walk past, and even more often overlook.

In the house across from my apartment, there is a group of people who sit outside every day and night, drinking and talking, and seemingly just enjoying life. They’re the type of people who invited me, a random foreigner who works down the street, to join them for drinks one night, even though the only way we could communicate with each other was through attempting charades.

I walk past this group at least once a day, but it wasn’t until last night that I really reflected on what I take to be their approach to life. What was different last night was the singalong happening to the tune of an acoustic guitar. Seeing and hearing them last night made me realize that the attitude they take toward life is one of joy and celebration. Their nature as individuals and as a group is to offer of themselves and to invite strangers in to enjoy life with them.

While this time of year can be a marathon of celebrations, it’s this attitude of celebration that we should be focusing on.

I don’t want to lose sight of that in my life.

waiting | photo challenge

There is much in Bangkok that jumps to mind when talking about waiting. There is sitting in a car in a traffic gridlock, sitting still for an hour over the course of a regularly 30-minute drive. Or waiting in lines in one government office or another. Or any number of other travel or traffic-related waits.

In this case, though, we see parents lining up, waiting to pick up their children at the end of a school day. This line of cars winds down the road and into the side-streets around the school twice a day, like clockwork. It then feeds into the gridlock of rush hour I mentioned earlier.

breakfast | photo challenge

Living in Thailand presents some interesting challenges when it comes to eating your favourite Western meals. While breakfast itself has often been an optional meal in my life, breakfast foods have been anything but. I remember fondly the years of 3-am runs (or six-hour sits that turned into late-night food orders) to our 24-hour Perkins for bottomless soft drinks and — for me, at least — pancakes.

I’ve expanded by breakfast repertoire over the years to include quite a few other standards, but I still love using my pancakes as a syrup sponge from time to time.

In Thailand, the option of Western breakfasts is always there, but sometimes there actually means way over there, or if you happen to live near a joint that offers “American breakfasts”, it will be at best very expensive.1 So in Bangkok, my breakfast on the way to work typically consists of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a personal-sized container of yogurt. And coffee.

Not having a kitchen severely limits what you can make for breakfast, but I’ve recently come to enjoy the simple breakfast of muesli on yogurt. The comfort of a nice cup of coffee is always a good addition, as well.

When the opportunity to have a cheap(ish) American or English breakfast comes up, I’ll still take it as a treat, but when it comes to breakfast I’m learning to not underestimate the small and simple.


This post is participating in The Daily Post’s #postaweek2011 weekly photo challenge. To find out more, see:


 


  1. An upside to not having easy daily access to the “bacon, ham, sausage, eggs, toast, hasbrowns, beans, roasted tomato, coffee, juice” breakfast is that you quickly realize how easy it is to overeat when eating in the Western style.