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.
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.
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.
Last week we were in Malaga for a day as our ship made it’s only port of call before crossing the Atlantic. As luck would have it, it rained cats and dogs, which was perfect for my purposes.
I like shooting at night, but if I have to take photos in a European city during the day, rain is my next best friend. It puts everyone a little out of sorts as they rush to and fro with umbrellas. It also creates that nice sheen on the ground to add a little extra something to the image. The only catch is you have to be willing to get wet, which I did, beyond a reasonable doubt.
I had been here previously when I was about eleven years old. When I saw the section of the city that faced the port, little bubbles of long lost memories began to percolate. My conscious mind has long folded over those early years, but it would’ve been nice to have an old photo to help free more bubbles. Nevertheless, I was struck with the desire to return and explore a little more. So I will plan on that, and when I do, who knows what I might uncover.
I like renting a bike in Miami beach to get off the beaten path. I want to see how the natives live which, in reality, is exactly as I do.
For me, the challenge with urban photography is finding an angle that’s not crappy. But that’s just me, and at the same time, I love the work of photographers that show urban grittiness, like Thomas Hawk. His work is not crappy, but it shows ugly details. Nevertheless, I spend hours looking at his work on Flickr.
It comes down to what I’m comfortable with, even if I get inspiration from different styles. Anyway, this is my take on South Beach urbanism, which is more of an ideal than the reality. Because if I turned the camera just a little, you would see all the grittiness of telephone wires, parked cars, and liquor stores. But if Tomas Hawk did it, it would be okay.
Here is a shot like the one I posted last week from the central section of old Montpellier. As with that other shot, this is from the day I wandered around taking photos of people walking the narrow streets. I could do that every day if I lived in an area like this, but I don’t so I have to take a lot while I’m there.
I processed this to make it look like the shot was at night even though it was midday. Transforming it like this is a personal preference of mine, and it creates a slightly different narrative for the image. For me, these types of images are studies in mood, lighting, and effects. I do them to satisfy my curiosity as to how far I can take a picture from its original exposure.
Aside from the processing, what makes a shot like this is the combination of the narrow streets, the curve of the leading line, high walls and the people. That’s a combination that’s generally found only in Europe. That is why I really would like to get back there more often. Maybe I can work something out. <knock on wood>
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.
This image I took from a seaplane over Vancouver BC. It was a sightseeing trip, and I happened to be the only customer. Rather than sit up front with the pilot, I opted for the back so I could slide from side to side taking pictures.
Small aircraft is the best way to get pictures of a city. It’s also the most expensive so, if your objective is to take photos, it helps to have a plan of attack. For me, that means using shutter priority to compensate for the vibration of the motor.
We flew out over the water and then over a bunch of islands that surround Vancouver. Until that time I never realized how many isles existed nearby. Months later when I returned for a cruise, we sailed past many of them as we headed towards Alaska. This flight lasted about an hour and, the whole time I was snapping away non-stop. I got a lot of pictures from the islands, but my favorite were those like this one right over the city.
Here is a cityscape of Manhattan that I took from One World Observatory. High-resolution cityscapes are a way for me to explore the details in the quiet of my own home. There is no way to take it all in when you are there taking the photo.
This frame is only a small section of the city and having so much crammed together is one thing that makes New York so compelling. You could live your whole life in one part and never see it all. But maybe that’s true for most places, we never really see everything. Perhaps a cab driver does, but most of us limit our movements.
Whenever I’m up high like this, I like to take photos of the expanse. It’s a natural desire because scenes like this are so foreign to our earth-bound eyes. I make these photos with the knowledge that I’ll look more closely during post-processing. Post-processing can take an hour or more, and during that time I am emersed in the details, as though I was right back at the scene. It’s like Deja-vu all over again.
Earlier in the year, I was up in Toronto for a quick stay, and at night I wandered around taking photos. This arched walkway is a connector between the convention center and Union Station. Little did I know that this is also where I would catch the train to the airport in the morning. So I ended up at this same spot eight hours later to grab an early flight home.
It was a good idea because a snow storm came in that night and the streets were a mess, but the trains kept rolling. The flight ended up getting delayed anyway, but at least I was at the gate on time.
I used to live in Toronto a long time ago, and I’m sure I walked through this spot at some point. But this time I had my camera, and it seemed new to me. Nevertheless, much of downtown Toronto is connected by covered or underground walkways because of the long winters. I think we should do the same thing down in Florida for the long hot summers. Or, maybe not, we probably spend enough time indoors as it is.
Here’s a series of architectural studies I did while in South Beach. I rented a bike for the afternoon and rode around taking snippets of buildings. As a photographer, one of the main reasons I like going there is the architecture. There is a combination of art deco and cubist throughout.
Honestly, I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to architecture; I know what I like. If I find it interesting, that’s good enough. In South Beach, they use a lot of pastel colors, and that goes well with the heat. The heat in the summer is brutal, so maybe some softness coming off the walls makes it a little more bearable.
Anyway, this is not even the tip of the iceberg. I could spend a whole week here just shooting architecture. Different angles, different perspectives, different times of the day. Maybe one day I’ll go back and do just that. Sound like a plan?
I’ve heard it said that eventually, everyone passes through Times Square. There’s no way to describe it unless you’ve been there; it’s electric.
Last week I was talking about telling stories with simple images at the beach, but this is an example of a subject that’s the polar opposite of serenity and sunsets. Regardless of the scene, success comes about by framing an image in a way that allows the viewer to enter it and muse about what is going on.
If you want to tell stories with your photos, it doesn’t matter what the scene is. It could be a beach, a farm, a city or anything in-between. I find that having a sense of depth draws us into the scene. We start at items close up and then wander around establishing distance and placement. It happens so fast we don’t notice, but crafting scenes are what makes photography so enjoyable. It’s a subtle version of virtual reality based on immersion. If we are, even for an instant, immersed in a photo, then we’ve experienced a form of virtual reality. Stories when told by a picture or a book, have always been a way to experience a different reality.