Mountain weather

Canadian landscape 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. Canadian landscapeThey 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.

A detailed city

black and white cityscape

Vancouver waterfront

As a respite from the bug macros, I thought I’d pay a visit to one of my favourite North American cities, Vancouver.

black and white view of Vancouver

Striking shapes mingle with softer planting

I thoroughly enjoyed prowling round the most modern parts of this city, playing with angles and snapping details that caught my eye.

black and white view of Vancouver

The same place looking the other way

I often convert my shots of architecture to black and white to bring out the interesting shapes and patterns.

architectural detail

Diagonals meet verticals, and some palm trees

It can be fun to zoom in tight.

Architectural detail

Loads of contrast here

Or pull back for a wider view.

black and white Vancouver city

Contrasting new and old

Sorting out converging lines can be tricky with tall buildings but sometimes it’s fun not to bother…

architecture

Well, this building does actually lean anyway.

…or to go mad:

warped architectural detail Vancouver

One way to cope with those converging lines

Reflections are always a lot of fun.

city detail

Fairmont hotel reflected in office block.

I did allow some colour, sometimes a lot of colour:

Five panels of city reflections

If a triptych is three panels, what do you call five panels?

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?

killer whale sculpture

You have to love Canadians.

A recycled habitat

Fragile

A recycled forest in the heart of Montreal’s Eaton Centre.

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.

Cardboard trees with soda can leaves.

Bubble wrap salmon leap up a plastic bottle stream.

Cardboard lily pad with plastic bottle and coat hanger frog.

Coat hanger dragonflies with cellophane wings.

Strolling through the recycled garden.

“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)

FRAGILE

 

Orcas, sailboats and houses on stilts

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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.

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Patterns on the shore

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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:

I
THE HARD sand breaks,
And the grains of it
Are clear as wine.

Far off over the leagues of it,
The wind,
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,
Hermes,
Who awaiteth.

Dubious,
Facing three ways,
Welcoming wayfarers,
He whom the sea-orchard
Shelters from the west,
From the east
Weathers sea-wind;
Fronts the great dunes.

Wind rushes
Over the dunes,
And the coarse, salt-crusted grass
Answers.

Heu,
It whips round my ankles!

II
Small is
This white stream,
Flowing below ground
From the poplar-shaded hill,
But the water is sweet.

Apples on the small trees
Are hard,
Too small,
Too late ripened
By a desperate sun
That struggles through sea-mist.

The boughs of the trees
Are twisted
By many bafflings;
Twisted are
The small-leafed boughs.

But the shadow of them
Is not the shadow of the mast head
Nor of the torn sails.

Hermes, Hermes,
The great sea foamed,
Gnashed its teeth about me;
But you have waited,
Where sea-grass tangles with
Shore-grass.

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?