Last month we were in the Canadian Rockies, one of my very favourite places. While we were in Banff we had changeable weather. This was great news for the locals as it helped fight several serious wildfires. It was also great news for me for a less serious reason, as it added drama to my photos. They say that if you don’t like the weather in the Rockies you only need wait 15 minutes and it will have changed. Makes sense to me.
As a respite from the bug macros, I thought I’d pay a visit to one of my favourite North American cities, Vancouver.
I thoroughly enjoyed prowling round the most modern parts of this city, playing with angles and snapping details that caught my eye.
I often convert my shots of architecture to black and white to bring out the interesting shapes and patterns.
It can be fun to zoom in tight.
Or pull back for a wider view.
Sorting out converging lines can be tricky with tall buildings but sometimes it’s fun not to bother…
…or to go mad:
Reflections are always a lot of fun.
I did allow some colour, sometimes a lot of colour:
I hope you enjoyed my architectural safari. Vancouver really is a super city and there is, of course, much more to it than its modern architecture. More another time. I will leave you now with this thought: what’s not to like about a city that has a giant lego orca?
Last summer, while in Montreal on holiday, we visited the Eaton Centre and came across an art installation made from recycled waste materials from the shopping centre. Called Fragile, it was the work of Roadsworth and Brian Armstrong. Given access to the Centre’s recycling bins over eight months, the artists transformed the retail centre into an ecosystem.
“When you present something playfully, or even satirically, you create a space where people can drop their defences. When you manage to do this, you can reach them at a level at which they’ll be receptive to what you have to say.”
— Peter Gibson (a.k.a. Roadsworth)
I promised a post about the Wey Navigation this weekend but ran out of time. So, a shortish post today and the Wey will have to wait until later in the week. I took this shot, scanned from a 6×4 print, in 1994. We were watching killer whales in the waters of Robson’s Bight, off the Eastern coast of Vancouver Island. We set off from Telegraph Cove, an atmospheric little settlement that has managed to retain much of its early 20th century character. The picture below, taken on the same trip appears inside and on the back cover of The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names published by Harbour Publishing. Being something of a bookworm, I particularly like it when people buy my images for this purpose. I must confess to a few vanity moments when we were travelling in BC again in 2010 and kept finding the book in shops.
The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude […] The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.
Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899)
I took this shot on Chesterman Beach, near Tofino on Vancouver Island. The Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island can be serene, as on the day I took the photograph, or mysterious when (as it often is in Summer) cloaked in fog, or wild (local hotels offer storm watching breaks in the winter months).
Chopin is one of many writers who have described the sea’s strangely magnetic force. Shores are evocative, liminal places that invite contemplation, as Chopin so acutely, and beautifully describes.
Another writer interested in shores whose work I have recently read is H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). Here is one of the most famous poems from her typically enigmatic volume, Sea Garden:
THE HARD sand breaks,
And the grains of it
Are clear as wine.
Far off over the leagues of it,
Playing on the wide shore,
Piles little ridges,
And the great waves
Break over it.
But more than the many-foamed ways
Of the sea,
I know him
Of the triple path-ways,
Facing three ways,
He whom the sea-orchard
Shelters from the west,
From the east
Fronts the great dunes.
Over the dunes,
And the coarse, salt-crusted grass
It whips round my ankles!
This white stream,
Flowing below ground
From the poplar-shaded hill,
But the water is sweet.
Apples on the small trees
Too late ripened
By a desperate sun
That struggles through sea-mist.
The boughs of the trees
By many bafflings;
The small-leafed boughs.
But the shadow of them
Is not the shadow of the mast head
Nor of the torn sails.
The great sea foamed,
Gnashed its teeth about me;
But you have waited,
Where sea-grass tangles with
H.D., ‘Hermes of the ways’ (1917)
For me, this poem evokes both vulnerability and exhilaration, the beauty of things that by necessity must grow tough living on the edge, whether they be apple trees or people.
Do you have a favourite poem of the shore?
In Summer 2010, we spent three weeks in British Columbia, Canada. The standout highlight of the trip was the three days we spent at Knight Inlet Lodge in Glendale Cove.
The floating lodge is deep within Knight Inlet, one of the many huge inlets that serrate the coast of this beautiful province. It can only be reached by float plane or boat.
Like most visitors to the Lodge, we travelled by float plane from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Living just outside London, England, we don’t get to travel this way very often so our stay was off to an exciting start before we’d even arrived!
The views were superb despite the weather; it rains a lot here.
On arrival, after a short introduction to the guides and resident dogs, we were soon in a boat out in the Cove scouring the banks for signs of bears. Although we were too early for the salmon run when bears gather in numbers to fish and can be watched from hides, there was a good chance of finding some foraging on the shoreline.
We saw some mergansers, a kingfisher, several curious seals and a loon before a call came over the radio to return to base immediately; bears had been spotted near the lodge!
I wasn’t prepared for how breathtaking it was to see these wonderful creatures in the wild.
We watched this female, ‘christened’ Bella by the guides, and her three cubs as they foraged along the shoreline. Although we were separated by several feet of water, I felt very aware of my proximity to this powerful mother, who would not hesitate to defend her cubs.
We would be lucky enough to watch Bella and her cubs several more times during our stay as well as two other grizzly families. Wildlife abounds in Glendale Cove; we also saw a black bear and some black-tailed deer.
There were many bald eagles and herons as well as numerous smaller species of bird, including swallows who nested in the eaves of the lodge.
Not to be outdone, some smaller mammals shared the limelight. We saw mink on the shore and the lodge was frequently visited by a cheeky band of river otters.
For a change of pace, we could bear-watch from kayaks.
Or go on a guided forest hike. Here, my town-bred daughter can’t quite believe I am letting her stir her hot chocolate with a twig!
The evenings were spent socialising in the bar or enjoying entertaining and interesting talks by the friendly and knowledgeable guides. We had read on Tripadvisor that the food was great but it was even better than we expected.
Knight Inlet Lodge is a founding member of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia (CBVA). The CBVA campaigns to ban the currently legal trophy hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia. Watching these magnificent creatures in the wild, I could not imagine ever being able to shoot one with anything other than a camera.
It was a privilege seeing these animals in their natural habitat. To be able to share an experience like this with my children, and to hear them talk about it still, is even better.
To celebrate Earth Day, here are some images I have taken over the years of our beautiful planet. The top one is, of course, the Grand Canyon.
Northumberland National Park, England