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.