Monday, December 22, 2008

December's snow viewed from inside a warm Vancouver home

Since Vancouver's city fathers have never seen fit to clear our residential roads--ever, only four-wheel drive vehicles should be out and about this morning. It is therefore a perfect day for remaining inside, enjoying the 'winter wonderland' from the comfort of a heated home. I photographed these snow scenes through our windows because this is how I so often see Vancouver's snow, from the comfort of my desk, or while washing dishes or preparing food, or while eating, reading or working at the computer. Walking in the snow is also wonderful, but I thought this perspective was worth a try.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow fall at night in Vancouver, Dec. 21st, first day of winter

This year, December 21st marks the first day of winter and the Fourth Sunday of Advent. My concert season ended for 2008, admist Vancouver's first heavy snow storm. Although churches were not closed, they were sparsely populated. I had to dig out my car after loading it with music stands.

I took these pictures at 8:30 this evening (hand-held, -2 C), using only street and Christmas lights for illumination. The evening exuded a calmness that was soothing after days of rehearsing and singing. During the 15 minutes of shooting, neither cars nor people were seen or heard. Falling snow is difficult to photograph at night, particularly without a tripod, but several pictures at least suggest why my camera had to be thoroughly dried afterward.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vancouver sunrise Dec 16, 2008

Moon setting during a December dawn

December provides Vancouverites excellent sunrises at a reasonable hour. These photographs were taken this morning between 7:30-8:15 a.m. by the Fraser River. The temperature was unusually cold for Vancouver, -6C with no wind. Even with the added warmth of fingerless gloves, I was eventually unable to find the shutter release by feel. Since the darker shades of sunrise eventually turned much brighter, I willingly packed the cold tripod and tromped through the snow back to the car and our icy side roads. Time for a warm breakfast with Karl.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Couples in love in Paris

Champs Elysees and parks approaching the Louvre

Along the River Seine

Park on the hill as one approaches Sacre Coeur

St Maurice

Avignon's Papal Palace

Paris is obviously a wonderful setting for couples. For more than a century, photographers have been taking pictures which portray couples oblivious to the hundreds of people streaming by. Some of the most famous of those photos were of course staged, but anyone in central Paris soon discovers that staging is hardly necessary. I have wondered what it is about Paris that gives couples such a profound a sense of security and anonymity that they can be completely engrossed in each other while the citizens of one of the world's most busy cities scurry hither and yon. These scenes are so commonplace that Parisians, and eventually tourists, either hardly notice or do indeed notice--and smile, possibly being reminded of what it was like to be a student.

These pictures depict couples in love, yet they are at different stages in life or in their relationships: the younger couples generally appear to be discovering each other with an intensity that blocks out the rest of society, one couple could have been on a honeymoon, and the more mature couples seem to be satisfied by simply being together while reading, talking or watching their children.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A very rainy May late afternoon at Aix-en-Provence

Various street scenes (taken on a rainy late afternoon in May)

Quiet restaurants on a quiet rainy Sunday evening before tourist season opens

The Mission Church
The oculus ("eye") at the top of the dome was quite dark, and I did not have a tripod. To salvage the picture, I have processed treated it as though it were a painting. I must return under better lighting conditions and take a proper picture.

Last summer we visited the historic city of Aix-en-Provence for one brief afternoon. Since the weather alternated--most unusually--between heavy and light rain, we were not able to see more than a gallery, one church, a restaurant and a few blocks of the city. There is much more to see and photograph. Since I did not want to get my larger camera wet, I used the little Canon G9, which can get 'noisy' in low-light conditions, but grainy pictures are better than no pictures. I want to return to the city in better weather and explore it more fully. I indicate that the restaurants were unusually quiet, but hasten to add that it is impossible to get inferior food in the many restaurants in Provence, whether visiting an establishment for the working class or the wealthy, one is never disappointed with the food.

We were intrigued with the story of St Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861, feast day is May 21st), the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (1826), which has now become an international order of some 11,000 missionaries/priests serving the poor throughout the world (e.g., South America, India). This focus preserves Eugene's special call to serve the poor in Provence. Even after becoming Bishop of Marsailles, he preached in the local dialect rather than in the more learned formal French, so that ordinary people could understand his sermons.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Long Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Young family walking on beach (click on picture to enlarge)

Sun starting to set (polarizing filter)

The evening's rising mists begin to hide the mountains

You often have to search to spot other people on these beaches in the fall

Fall mushroom in the rain forest

Unending sand ripples

Mineral patterns in the wet sand

Logging is British Columbia's No. 1 industry, and thousands escape

Kayakers end their labours

Low tide reveals underwater life

One of Canada's treasures is its Long Beach on the Pacific Ocean, midway between Tofino and Uceulet, B.C. If I ever manage to walk from one end of this complex of beaches to the other, I will need someone to meet me by car at the other end because the beaches stretch for 25 unbroken kilometers. These contiguous beaches include Pacific Rim National Park's Radar Beach, Long Beach (10 kms), Combers Beach and Wickaninnish Beach. You can simply refer to the whole group as the "Long Beach Unit". Since the Pacific Rim National Park is itself relatively isolated (only a single highway connects it with the eastern side of Vancouver Island), the beaches are always yours.

I stopped to watch some kayakers ride the waves, the occasional family take a stroll, surfers continue their unending search for the perfect wave, and to admire the wide flat beach of soft sand.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, British Columbia, in rainy October

Children and adults love to mingle with the brave ducks.

A number of floating logs provide safe resting places for the ducks.

The Reifel sanctuary has numerous tidal inlets that are well protected.

Rain water from the roof, running down a chain 'spout':

Field near the Reifel sanctuary, covered with snow geese:

Nobody knows how many birds migrate along ancient coastal routes skirting Vancouver, B.C., but I always look forward to seeing various types of geese flying in formation. Although I know they are migrating, I have no idea where or how long the journey must be.

The Reifel family gave Canada a treasure of great value, their extensive coastal area which is to provide a sanctuary for migrating birds, where they can rest, eat and become rejuvenated for the next leg of the long. People can mingle freely with birds on paths or observe various types of birds on land or water from a series of excellent blinds and a tower.

I was happy to join Ken on his shooting outing (even though he is a Nikon man). The light west-coast October rain, which never let up, made the sky uniformly overcast in a dark sort of way which seemed to bring out colours. After several hours, a very helpful woman learned that we had hoped to see the snow geese which are known to migrate through the Delta area. Although there were none at the sanctuary today, she had just seen an enormous flock in a nearby private field that was freshly ploughed and seeded. She then scouted out the best places for us to go by car and was enormously helpful. I had never seen so many geese in my life.