Victoria’s Silhouette

Victoria's Silhouette
Silhouette in front of the windows of Vancouver’s Victoria’s Secret               Buy a fine art print

The Victoria’s Secret store in Vancouver has these big billowy pink satin windows. Because I’m using a Sony A7R2, I cranked up the ISO to 10000 and still was able to handhold street shots like this. I was shooting in aperture priority and this image ended up having a shutter speed of 1/1000. That’s impressive when you think about the opportunities it opens up for low light street photography. I like doing street photography, but doing it at night is like another world.

More images from the street photography gallery

I am not so bold when taking pictures of people on the street, I’m really quite furtive and do my best to not attract attention. In a busy area a person with a camera does not stand out. Having the technology that allows me too be quick at night is an advantage over what was even possible a few years ago.

This was taken with a telephoto at 31mm, so I was fairly close, just at the edge of the sidewalk where people were walking in front of the window. In the last few months a few prime lenses have become available that allow wide open apertures which come in handy for scenes like this. I take a prime, but I find that when I have a zoom I use it more. I should just try leaving the big boy at home and using just the prime for a few days.


Bastaix restaurant in the Ribera section of Barcelona                                       Check out prints here…

Here is another shot from the evening I walked around in the Ribera district of Barcelona. This is in front of a small restaurant called Bastiax which is just opposite the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. I didn’t eat here but I made a mental note to come back and try it out. I just looked it up on Google and the ratings are pretty good, here’s the link:

More photos from my urban exploration collection

In fact I began touring the area with Google maps and there are a lot of highly rated eateries around here. That was my impression when I was here but this just confirms that I’m not the only one. I may have to pop back over for a few days to hang around this area and get another infusion of the Barcelona atmosphere soon.

This was late on a Thursday night and it seems the area really gets going after about 10pm. There are ancient street lights and torches which together with the narrow streets gives the place a feel you can only find in Europe. There were people walking, musicians playing and generally just a good feeling permeated the whole area. That could just have been me but I think it too was felt by everyone around.

La Promenade du Peyrou

La Promenade du Peyrou
La Promenade du Peyrou in Montpellier France                                                        Purchase a fine art print

La Promenade du Peyrou is next to the old city centre in Montpellier. Bordering the promenade on two sides are these tree lined walkways. I was here on a rainy day but on a sunny day they provide shade and a place to sit. By using a telephoto lens I created compression in the scene which adds to the sense of a tunnel or covered walkway. In situations like this where there is a line of repeated elements this technique can work pretty well.

I had been walking for hours when I got here so I was happy to sit on one of the benches. The city itself is quite busy but this spot was a nice respite from the commotion. Right next to where I was sitting there was a British rock band packing up their van. From the look of the equipment they must have been filming a music video. The scenery here must be popular as a film location for all kinds of productions; from music to feature film. It’s the perfect european backdrop.

Actually, now that I think of it, this would be a good location for a photowalk. The Promenade is a good meeting point and from here you could walk through the old streets and alleyways of the ancient city. In the other direction is an old Roman aqueduct and plenty of other architecture. In any case, I was on my own one man photowalk, stopping only to rest on a park bench or sip a cappuccino at a bistro or have a glass of wine in an outdoor cafe. That’s the typical pace of a Rick photowalk, slow and easy wins the race.

Check out my European gallery.

Post Holiday Colors

Post Holiday Colors
The post holiday colors of Vancouver                                                                       Purchase a gallery print

The Pacific Centre in Vancouver seems to be into the post holiday colors with a vengeance. There’s an enclosed bridge that goes over the street and it was all lit up in red. Add to that the reflections from the wet street and city lights and its too much for me to pass on. It looked like holiday lights but that was weeks before. I stood in the middle of traffic waiting for someone to cross the setting. Eventually someone did but by that time my camera and I were completely soaked. The things I do for a shot.

This was at the end of a mega-walk day, over 25000 steps according to my watch. But I was stoked nonetheless. By the time I got back to the hotel my camera started complaining and doing a funny things, I’m sure because it was so wet. I laid it down on the desk and went for dinner and by the time I got back it was fine. I suspect perhaps some moisture on the hot shoe. All in all I was pretty impressed that the SonyA7RII put up with the abuse I put it through this day.

I took a lot of photos from this spot, some I intentionally blurred. However this one was not blurred, I added the zoom effect in post production. I did that using both Photoshop and MacPhun Focus 2 Pro. For me the image is all about color and energy. The idea I had I’m my mind when I took this was a cacophony of colors all blurred together. The motion represents the energy of the city. This is just one of the many faces of Vancouver city life.

Late Night in Barcelona

Late Night in Barcelona
Late Night in Barcelona in Black and White                           Purchase a museum quality print

A late night in Barcelona was spent walking around this section of the city filled with restaurants and Tapas bars. This is another from the series that I’ve posted from the area. It was a film noir kind of atmosphere, such that I expected characters from an old movie to walk by at any moment. That never happened.

Black and white is a medium that evokes more from my imagination. Monochrome compared to color is like radio to video. Radio allows my mind to rush in a fill the void resulting in a more vivid experience. It’s counterintuitive, a case of less is more. So it is with black and white photography. My brain knows the world is colorful so it rushes in to fill a similar void and, unknowingly I’ve become engaged with the image.

In this scene I purposely removed some of the detail, I simplified the image. So that, together with the high contrast tones, the black and white image leaves out information for my mind to fill in. What I fill in is different from you, it’s depends on our personality, psyche and predispositions. Same principal as an ink blot, or looking at clouds, we each see something different. For me, this is a mystery and a puzzle all wrapped into an old movie from the forties. For you, something very different than me.

Approaching Howe

Approaching Howe
Approaching Howe Street on a rainy night in Vancouver                                                    Click here to purchase a limited edition framed print

A street scene as I was approaching Howe Street on a Saturday night in Vancouver. I’m waking along Robson which is where a lot happens, it’s the nerve center of shopping in Vancity. The rain is never a reason to stay indoors and from what I can tell people ignore it. That’s a good policy and it will serve you well. If you can’t beat it, join it with a raincoat and umbrella.

It was kind of funny actually. I found myself here with these amazing conditions early in the evening and got pretty excited. This is a street photographers dream because of the lights and rain slicked surfaces. I shifted into the zone as I looked for things to unfold all around. At one point I walked up and down this block several times just taking photos.

To get these street scenes at night it takes a very high ISO, especially if I’m shooting without a tripod. I used my Sony A7RII and set the ISO to 10000. That’s a lot of zeros and up until recently, this just a dream and nighttime photography like this was not even possible. Thanks to the advances from Sony new possibilities have opened up for people like me that like shooting in very low light.

Tech talk aside, just getting out with my camera on a raining day, no matter where, is likely to provide a lot of subject matter to explore. Fortunately for me there is no shortage of rain in Vancouver and, I have both a rain coat and an umbrella.

Skytrain Station

Skytrain Station
Skytrain Station in Vancouver                                  Obtain a print

I took this at a Skytrain station in Vancouver. It’s called the Skytrain because most of it is above ground. I’m not from around here so I still call it a subway, but when I do I get glances. The kind of glance that says you’re not from around here are you? Maybe one day I’ll get it right, but its kind of low on the priority list.

That aside it’s the best run transit system I’ve seen outside of Disney World. There are no drivers and everything is automated, a little like Tomorrowland. However as a programmer it gives me just a slight amount of concern, like that glance I get when I say the word subway. It’s subtle but there is a difference. I know what happens when there’s a bug in the code and if my program controls a train, well that opens up all kinds of scenarios. Even so I ignore the thought because the train seems to have been running very well for years, so perhaps the code is bug free. I wipe the consideration from my mind, just as quickly as it enters. I’m getting a little off track.

Skytrain just added something new called a Compass pass. Long story short it’s a convenient way to buy a fare, transfer to a bus or ferry and possibly save money at the same time. Without going into all the details it seems to work pretty well, just as well as the trains run without drivers. Did I mention that? One thing seems certain to me; someone is writing a lot of  good code and as a result the whole system seems to run quite well. Now if I could just reprogram my brain to not call it a subway.

Urbex Rain Day

Urbex Rain Day
Urbex Rain Day in Vancouver on a Saturday Morning                                     Purchase a unique print

Saturday was an urbex rain day. Meaning that it was raining and I did a little urban exploration. I would say that pretty much every day is a rain day in Vancouver, but it’s that’s just how it is. For me it’s a perfect excuse to get out and shoot rainy scenes, totally awesome.

I live on the East Coast and I try to stay in that time zone when I travel west. The advantage is I wake up super early and that helps me get a good start on the day. When I come to Vancouver that means photography in the morning. So by the time the sun rises, which by the way it never does, I’ve already been out for a couple of hours. Bonus. The downside of course is I turn into a pumpkin at about seven in the evening. So as long as I do fun stuff in the morning or day, I’m good.

In this case the morning was rainy and as I said, totally awesome. Something about people with umbrellas makes for an interesting picture. I don’t really know what it is but I find it cool. We have umbrellas where I live, but people don’t walk where I live. They walk from the parking lot to the store, that’s most of it. So there are no busy streets with people dressed up carrying umbrellas. So anyway, I got a tonne of umbrella shots, maybe too many but I’ll worry about that later. For now, this is the first of my urbex umbrella shots.

Barcelona Alley at Night

Barcelona Alley at Night
Barcelona alley at night as I walk around after Tapas and Sangria   Purchase a gallery print

This is another image of a Barcelona alley at night as I was walking around after a meal of Tapas and Sangria. Honestly, I could never find this spot in a million years, the area is like a casbah of sorts, narrow passages going this way and that, no rhyme nor reason for anything. It’s such a fun place, you can get delightfully lost and the worst that can happen is you end up in a bar sipping another Sangria as you contemplate your next move.

Of course not all cities are like this. The fact that you feel safe here speaks volumes about the people of Barcelona and their values. The only north American city where I’ve experienced something similar is in Vancouver, but that’s relatively new and doesn’t have the same old world character. Barcelona is a fusion of ancient and modern, cobblestones and Starbucks.

Another difference that comes to mind is that in north America if you stand somewhere and imagine what that spot looked like two or three hundred years ago you’d probably be standing in a field or forest. In many parts of Europe it might look similar to the present day minus the electricity and such. Europe has a long memory stored in the buildings, alleys and cobblestones that somehow seeps into me anytime I am here.

Into the Light

Into the Light
For me this represents someone walking into the light, for you, perhaps something different.                               Purchase a fine art gallery print

Out from the dark and into the light. This image could be a metaphor for all kinds of things. It’s a new year and so maybe this is a metaphor for new beginnings, or perhaps nothing at all. Meaning is in the eyes and mind of the beholder, so whatever this makes you think of is cool.

In one respect images are like a Rorschach Test. We each look at the ink blot and see something different, something constructed from our inner world of associations, thoughts and emotions. I just happened to snap this while standing under the bridge, it’s just a picture. But now that I look at it, it reminds me of other things completely. For you the thoughts invoked are surely different.

These are my favorite kinds of images, those that bridge the gap between mundane and metaphor. I think having a person in an image allows me to project myself into the scene, either as the observer or the observed. It’s a matter of perspective. I project myself as the person with the bike which is kind of funny because in real life I was the observer with the camera. In a manner of speaking, I switched roles between the time I took this and the time I viewed it. Maybe this is a lot of gibberish about nothing, or maybe there’s an insight. I suppose that depends on what we choose to take out of it. For me perhaps it’s a metaphor for going into the light.

In any case, Happy New Year everyone.