Vancouver

A few years ago I took a seaplane flight over Vancouver and the surrounding islands. I captured this image as we climbed out of the harbor and circled back over the city.

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Vancouver
Vancouver as viewed from a sea plane

I had the back row seat to myself and could slide from side to side to take photos. It was as good as being in a helicopter. I used to come up here regularly and walked nearly every street in the city. But that’s not unusual, it’s a bike and pedestrian friendly town, so people walk or ride everywhere.

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Since I took this almost three years ago, the skyline has changed a little. But much of it is the same and landmarks like the BC Place arena, Stanley Park and the Lionsgate Bridge will probably not change for a very long time if ever. What you don’t see are the mountains over on the right. But if you could, you would understand why this is only the half of it.

Sarasota Reflections

When there is no breeze, the water on Sarasota Bay turns to glass. I was fortunate enough to show up one night two years ago when the conditions were just right.

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Sarasota Reflections
Apartment buildings overlook Sarasota Bay, as seen from Island Park.

Everyone likes the views from Island Park which is why folks come here to walk and take photos. I’m particularly fond of the perspective it provides for nighttime cityscapes across the water.

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Sarasota is growing, and the skyline changes about every six months or so. That means I need to get my behind down to this spot at least once a year to keep up. But I’m pretty sure nothing has changed in this one particular section.

Robot Drones Are Coming

Now tell me, do we get amazing sunsets in Florida or what? I took this crazy panorama of my hometown of Palmetto last Friday. In fact, my drone took this photo. I sat out front with a refreshing beverage in a lawn chair and sent my robot drone up to take the picture. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, I had to pilot it, compose the shot, and press the shutter button, but with a little more AI, maybe it could do that too.

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Robot Drones Are Coming
A multi-image panorama of Palmetto Florida one evening in August of 2018

Typically, when I take photos, I get my gear, put it in the car, and drive somewhere. Then I get the gear out of the car, walk, compose, and click. Then, I walk some more and do it again, over and over. After all that, I end up with one or two good shots, and then I’m tired. But this time I decided to sit back in a chair and send the drone up. No driving, no packing, no walking.

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This whole experience got me thinking that these drones are very close to becoming robots. Fast forward ten years and I’ll be sitting in my living room with a VR headset talking to Siri. I’ll ask her to send up the drone, fly somewhere special, look around, and take a photo as if I was there myself. I won’t leave the comfort of my home. Does that sound absurd? I wonder if the idea is not too far off the mark.

This is Salerno

This is Salerno where I recently spent the day walking around in the rain. I was on a cruise of Italy and this was our fourth stop. Normally we booked tours of the port cities but this day I just walked around taking pictures. However it rained hard so there where periods where I was huddled in an entryway waiting for a break.

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This is Salerno
This is Salerno Italy

During the downpours, vendors would appear out of nowhere with an armful of umbrellas. Out of necessity I bought one for five euros, which was way too much, but I was in no position to complain. I saw the same ones later in a shop for less. To add insult to injury, I lost it on a bus later in the day and ended up having to buy another one for the same price.

Obviously I’m not a great shopper and normally I don’t shop at all on trips. But, I had it in my mind that I wanted to buy a pair of leather shoes. My first thought was to buy them in Spain but I didn’t find anything I liked. Mind you, I didn’t look very hard. While waiting out one of the downpours it happened I was standing in front of a shoe store. So I went in and found a pair I liked on sale for twenty euros. The shoes said they were made in Italy with Italian leather so I felt happy about it. At the end of the day I ended up with one pair of shoes and one umbrella for thirty euro. For a reluctant shopper like myself it seemed I did okay on average. It took two days for the shoes I brought from home to dry out, so it was good that I had an extra pair.

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As we pulled out of port the rain stopped and the clouds parted. I looked back at Salerno and took this image. Maybe the umbrella merchants moved on or switched to some other product. However I got what I wanted and, more importantly, got a bunch of photos. Most of them are just people walking through the rain while I waited under an entryway. I think this one looking back from the ship at the end of the day is a little more interesting. Anyway, that’s the story of my short visit to Salerno on a rainy day.

Another View of Burnaby

This is another view of Burnaby BC that I took from about ten miles away in downtown Vancouver. I think they refer to it as a bedroom community but that sounds strange; Burnaby is anything but sleepy. There is a lot of construction going on and it seems every time I come back the skyline has changed.

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Another View of Burnaby
Another View of Burnaby BC, just outside of Vancouver

Speaking of skylines, what looks like a hill to the right of the buildings is Central Park, something I posted about recently. It’s not really a hill, what you see is the contour of the tall cedars against the skyline.

This type of view is what I call my rule of tenths. In photography there is a “rule of thirds” which recommends segmenting the composition into thirds. I use that a lot but sometimes I feel that the sky deserves more than just a third, in cases like this I give it about nine-tenths.

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The reason I do that is my own sense of perspective. I have a habit of drawing back from a subject, be it in photography or life, and trying to see things in relation to how it fits in. With something as big and complex as a city, it helps to get a little distance. At least that’s my theory; it works for me, …usually.

Salt Lake City

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.

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Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City panorama

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.

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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.

Panorama of Eastern Vancouver

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.

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Panorama of Eastern Vancouver
Panorama of eastern Vancouver that I took from the Delta Vancouver Marriott

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.

Speaking of which, the view from the W is amazing. Here is a link to one of the images from that night.

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.

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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.

Walking Down Broadway

This is a shot that I had a lot of fun making. I went walking down Broadway late at night in the pouring rain. Shooting street scenes in the city is fun enough, but add the lights reflecting on rain slicked streets and it takes it to a whole new level. And of course, being New York, there are always people out walking regardless of the weather.

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Walking Down Broadway
Walking down Broadway in the rain

I was a block from Times Square and there were lights everywhere. The colors of this scene were so vivid it almost looked unreal. At the time it seemed normal, but that’s what happens when you’re in the middle of the city, wild lights everywhere start to seem normal.

I had my camera covered with plastic and I was wearing a rain poncho. I must have been quite the site, but then maybe not. What could look more normal than someone with a camera in Times Square? I wasn’t the only one; I saw one or two others looking for cool shots as well. Rain seems to bring out the photographers, at least the ones that are visiting.

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I was out for a couple of hours and people kept emptying out of bars and walking around looking for places to eat. That was me back in my twenties. Now I’m content just to take pictures of people doing what I used to do. In a way I think that’s kind of funny.

Cityscape of Sarasota

This is a long exposure cityscape of Sarasota I took one night while waiting for the full moon to rise above the bridge. I was fortunate in that there was no wind and the waters of the bay were still. While that’s great for photos it also means there are a lot of mosquitos. I had a can of repellant and sprayed myself from head to toe: a minor annoyance but its a small price to pay in exchange for perfect conditions.

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Cityscape of Sarasota
Cityscape of Sarasota on a calm night

I never know when conditions will be good for photography until the last moment. If I had all the time in the world I’d go out every night checking. As a matter of fact I did that this evening before I sat down to write this. We had some dramatic clouds and I thought to get in position, but nothing happened and I drove home without a shot. It’s a numbers game; sometimes you lose and sometimes you win.

Earlier in the day I took a three-hour drive looking for compositions, in the end I got only one. The effort that goes into my photography is not carbon neutral. I should probably look into an electric car or just take the bus.

So that the time is not a complete waste I’ll listen to podcasts. I can get drawn into the stories such that the traffic, distances and time are not so monotonous. Even if I come back without a good composition at least I learned something. My favorite is Radio Labs, but I also like This American Life and sometimes Tim Ferris.

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A lot of effort goes into making a good podcasts and the same holds true for photos. I love doing it so I rarely notice the time, but most of the images I post involve many hours of traveling, editing, expense, and sometimes even spraying myself with insect repellant.

Strawberry Moon

Over the weekend we had a full moon and for some reason it’s called the strawberry moon. Apparently it’s the smallest full moon of the year, but I think that doesn’t means much in practical terms because we can’t see the difference with our eyes.

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Strawberry Moon
Strawberry Moon over Sarasota

This is the Sarasota skyline from across the bay. It was one of the few nights we didn’t have cloud cover and this scene is one I’ve been waiting to capture.

In fact this is a large panorama consisting of twelve individual images in a grid of 2 x 6. At full resolution this is two by eight feet. If you are thinking of purchasing a print, be sure to select the wide panorama crop (20 x 80 or similar) when checking out or just contact me so that I can ensure you get the correct fit for the frame size you want.

I’ve been creating a lot of panoramas lately. I’m intrigued by the perspective and level of detail that’s possible. However the bigger the panorama the harder it is to put together. There are a lot of nuances that need to be fit just so. The software helps a little but most of the work is slow detail effort, although it’s something I enjoy a lot. The long slow process in kind of like a meditation for me, I’m in a different world when editing images.

I spend more time working on photos than taking them. That’s just part of my artistic process. Often I’ll come back to a photo a dozen times before I feel it’s ready. Many times it never gets there and is relegated to the reject bin. Every now and then I review the rejects and see something in a different light and bring it back to life.

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In this case I had a strong idea of what I wanted so it was just a matter of taking the time to get it just right, in camera and in post processing. After all that work I still don’t know why it’s called a strawberry moon. I should just Google it but on the other hand I think I’ll just leave it as a mystery for now.