This is one of the two big hotels on the beach in Barcelona, well surely there are many more but two that I know of. One is the Hotel Arts Barcelona and the other is this, the W Hotel. I stayed at the Arts but one of my first questions to the bellman was what building this was. Others must ask the same because he quickly mentioned it’s just become a sister hotel. They both fall under the Marriott parent company.
The next day we walked down the beach to have a look at The W. The architecture vaguely reminded me of the sail motif of the Burj al Arab, only it’s not nearly as big. This one was designed the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill.
This is a vertorama, three images stacked in a vertical panorama. Because I was using a prime lens I couldn’t zoom out, so I took several images knowing I would recombine them in Lightroom.
The architecture is such that it defines the skyline along one end of the beach while the Hotel Arts defines the other. It’s interesting enough for me to want to capture it.
I’ve been a Marriott member for years and so it’s fortunate for me that they keep growing. It’s getting to the point that I can pick and choose which hotel to stay at in any city. So maybe I’ll stay here at some point, although the Arts hotel is pretty amazing too, so who knows, I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
When I have the time, I go out late at night and take pictures of places in big cities. This is Columbus Circle at midnight, also known as central park south in Manhattan. It was late and I had just finished touring the park on a bike and taking all kinds of cool photos. Once you’re in the zone you don’t want to stop and time is the last thing on your mind.
While I was taking these, a gentleman came up and asked about what I was doing. He was visiting from DC and we stuck up a conversation. He suggested that I needed to go to the nation’s capital to take pictures of all the monuments. That’s on my list now.
For me I like going to places where I can go out walking with my camera and tripod late into the night. I’m drawn by architecture, leading lines and light. That’s essentially what this photo is all about. It’s doesn’t have to be anything in particular, just something that combines those elements.
European cities are great for this type of photography. And in general, Europeans stay out late into the evening so what seems late by American standards is quite normal there. Anyway, it’s all about having the time. And once I make the time then I get in the zone and suddenly, time is not an issue, if you know what I mean.
So often when travelling we find ourselves in places where there are a lot of tourists. There’s nothing wrong with that and quite often I am one of them. However from a photography perspective it presents a challenge. For me the challenge is either how to incorporate crowds into an image or avoid them altogether. In this case I sat on a bench watching the people at One World Observatory and noticed the reflections creating this scene. I took several photos and this is my favorite.
This is also a good example of post processing. Because right out of camera the people looked more like silhouettes, you couldn’t see too much detail. I was able to bring that out in post processing, and primarily because I used a Sony camera with a great sensor. That sensor captures much more shadow detail something like an iPhone. So this is closer to what the scene actually looked like because of course our eyes are able to capture a wider range of light. I used post processing to bring the detail back from the shadows.
Getting back to the challenge of crowds, the other approach would be to avoid them altogether. To do that you need to get to places early or stay late. I don’t know about you but for me that’s easier said than done. Sometimes it can be difficult to get up and out early. I still try and sometimes I make it and I’m usually rewarded with softer light and scenes without a lot of people.
But these are just common sense tips. What makes an interesting photo is entirely in your head. With photography we can take the most common and mundane of scenes and express something transformative. That’s true for any art form, so whether you decide to include crowds or avoid them is just a technique, the thing that’s really important is what you see.
The last photo I posted was from Central Park in New York City. I’m a little amused because I just realized that this is from a different Central Park; this one was taken in Canada. This is from a Central Park in Burnaby BC, near Vancouver.
Like it’s New York namesake, the Canadian version is in the heart of a sprawling urban setting with towering buildings and residences on all sides. However this park is densely populated with tall spruce trees. As soon as you walk a few meters, the sounds of the city are shut out by the thickness of the forest. Everything changes from one extreme to another.
On the outer paths like this, morning commuters walk to and from the train stations on their way to work. Deeper inside there is a rich diversity of flora and fauna. One thing that strikes me is the boldness of the squirrels. They’ll stand before you on the path demanding food. It seems that people feed the creatures because it shows in their behavior. A local also told me that songbirds will land on your outstretched hand near one of the ponds here.
Most people think of mountains and the ocean when you mention British Columbia. But even in the heart of its biggest urban areas are settings like this that keep city dwellers connected to nature. I suppose you could say the same thing for the New York version.
I’ve seen this guy playing the saxophone in Central Park several times before; he’s what I’d consider a permanent fixture. I stopped to take his picture and then left a few dollars in his case. When I was here about five years ago I saw another guy playing the guitar. I was at a train station in another city and someone was some guy playing a didgeridoo. No far beyond were other musicians waiting their turn.
That got me thinking about how they stake out these popular spots. I imagine it’s first come first serve. For prime locations like this in Central Park you probably show up early and once you start playing you don’t stop until you’re done, then the next guy takes over. It’s a dog eat dog world for buskers.
Recently I was walking along a street and there was a lone piano chained to a lamppost. When I walk back later a lady was playing a sonata as only an accomplished musician can do, it was stunning and several of us were stopped in our tracks listening to a recital.
Subways and tunnels are the perfect location because they concentrate people in confined spaces and you have a captive audience. Quite frankly it’s where I’ve heard some of the most talented musicians. What better way to practice than to perform in a public space? If I could play music I’d be out there too, but I take photos so I’ll just stick to what I know.
A few months ago I was in Salt Lake City visiting some close friends. I am not Mormon but my ancestors were and so are my close friends. So while there I took the time to visit the temple grounds and took a tour of the convention center. This panorama I took while standing on the convention center roof.
My ancestors were the original settlers of Salt Lake City. So we also visited the cemetery to see where they were buried. Through help from my friends and a little sleuthing we found the graves where my great-great grandparents were buried. They’re in the Salt Lake Cemetery, which is the resting place of many of the original pioneers.
It was for me an amazing experience because I came away learning about my heritage that heretofore I’d only heard from my grandmother before she died. It goes without saying the Mormons are big on ancestry and so they were more than happy to help me fill in the gaps. I am fortunate to have such a recorded history and now that I know a little more I’m eager to share it.
Back home the other day I was taking some photos along the waterfront. Two Mormon missionaries approached me and rather than ignore them I engaged them in conversation. I pulled out my iPhone and shared this photo and told them about my experience and ancestors. They seemed genuinely surprised to meet me and equally happy to see a picture of their main temple. It was a fun encounter. While I am not planning to convert to the Mormon faith, there are many things we share in common. And for that connection and fellowship I am truly grateful.
Here’s drone shot from a familiar pier that I like to hang out at. I thought we’d get a nice sunset but the sun peaked for only a few minutes and the rest of the evening was gray and cloudy. But it was not a big surprise; cloud cover is a common, especially when we have afternoon storms.
I had the drone sitting stationary in this location for about five minutes. As soon as I saw the sun pop out I snapped a still. Then, while leaving the drone hovering in place, I reached for the camera in by bag but I was too late. By the time I pulled it out the sun was already gone. They say the best camera for the job is the one you have with you. In this case the best camera was the one hovering fifty-feet up.
I just returned from a couple of trips and I’m happy to be back here where I can walk along the beach and take photos. Sometimes I get to the point where I’m a little complacent about living near the beach. But when I go on a trip I realize just how fortunate I am. Then I return with a newfound appreciation for the scenery where I live. But I think that’s normal; you walkaway for a spell and then realize what you have in your own backyard, even if we do get a cloudy day every now and then.
This is a panorama of eastern Vancouver taken just after sunrise. It’s a perspective I had from the twenty-second floor of the Vancouver Delta Marriott. Actually I took this through windows next to the elevators. I was waiting for the elevator to go down to the lobby. When I saw this I decided not to get on, instead I went back to my room to grab a camera. Hopefully the people in the elevator didn’t mind too much.
If I’m not mistaken the big building in the foreground is called The W. If you zoom in you’ll see a big sign of the letter W to the right of it. Several years ago I went to the top with a friend of mine, Andrew Gerrard. Using his magic he got us access to the top where much to my surprise there was a W-shaped hot tub full of beautiful women. But of course I was only there for the scenery.
On the left side of this image is Gastown and one the right is Chinatown. And off in the distance are the towering apartment buildings of Burnaby. It seems every time I come back there are one or two new towers on the skyline.
This image is comprised of about six high-resolution photos so it contains an amazing amount of detail, especially a full resolution version that’s nearly seven feet wide. I love looking at the details in images like this; I can spend hours in a gallery exploring all of the interesting little facets. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we hung this on the wall of that elevator I walked away from? At least those people could have something pretty to look at when someone decides not to get on.
Continuing with the theme yesterday of repetition and practice, this is pier I have taken many times. It’s a slightly different perspective simply because each time I come here I look for different compositions, or maybe similar compositions but in different light and conditions. So even though the location is the same, the image is new.
It’s a little like taking pictures of clouds, no two will ever be the same. I go back to the same places for two reasons; one, I like the scenery, and two, I’m practicing the art of capturing perspectives. The scene may be similar but the details are different.
In some respects photography is no different then other pursuits in that it takes repetition and practice, and for the most part that is done in our own backyard. That is how we hone our craft so that when we do travel we’ll have perfected not only the mechanical aspects but also the subtle and infinite variations that go into composition. Not everyone will notice but some will, you being chief among them.
I do photography to satisfy my own longings and passion. So by practicing over and over at home not only am I getting better, I’m enjoying something I like to do. To be sure, I’m not always satisfied with the outcome, but the effort is never lost. Even failed efforts lead to new understandings and help avoid mistakes. We learn by doing and by doing something we love, we are simply adding to a big circle of happiness in our lives. And for me, that’s as good as money in the bank.
This is a study of light and impressions from familiar scene; it’s a public boat dock along the river. Folks sometimes dock their boats here and walk over to the nearby restaurants. In reality it’s not used all that much. More often people come here to sit and watch the water. It’s a regular stop for me when I’m out walking with my dog Mr. Wiggles.
I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this location at various times of the day and night and from different angles. So I guess you could say this is a study of how the scene changes each time. It’s also how I practice, by shooting the same subject slightly differently and then working with it in post. In this case I noticed the lights just as dawn was breaking from the east. It was a quick shot that I hadn’t preplanned.
But later I’ve spent hours working on this. As you know, images out of the camera do not always reflect the mood or scene as we remember it. Our images seem to come out flat and a little boring. So I’ve done a lot of things in an attempt to being back that feeling. I’ve enhanced the lights from the lampposts and I’ve saturated the colors to accentuate the reflections on the water.
So does it work? It’s all completely subjective; I’ve created something partially resembling what I saw yet something completely different. In the end it is what it is, a study of light and impressions from a familiar scene.