There is a drifting grey rain outside our house in downtown Toronto, a harbinger of fall. Working on another proposal, for a project in South Africa, my thoughts drift back, across the ocean, and I find myself in Lightroom, searching through photos.

These three are from last November, when I was in Johannesburg and Pretoria, working on another project: I had persuaded my daughters to take me on a day trip to the Pilanesberg, a two-hour drive to the north of us, so I could soak in the sun, the landscape, the wildlife, and take a few photos which I could share with Rob when I got back home to Toronto.

I had been traveling for a month, from Canada to Australia and on to South Africa, and the only camera I had with me was the little Leica C-Lux, with its tiny sensor – the camera which was stolen, in fact, on our trip to Namibia last April.

If there is anything at all remarkable about these images it is simply how sharp they are -the Leica C is not the camera you would choose for wildlife photography, and all three images have been cropped – in the case of the croc, with the impala in the top left corner, and the goofy-looking giraffe, quite severely.

I share these with you, not as great photos, but like the rain outside, bits of memory and association.

Sully: Distilled

How do you make a movie worth watching about an event that everyone has seen already, in countless TV and internet images and stories? The story is ‘the miracle on the Hudson,’ the extraordinary landing by Captain Chesley Sullenberger of an Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River, after a bird strike crippled his aircraft shortly after takeoff from La Guardia airport.

Well, you make a familiar story worth watching through sympathetic screen writing, deft and restrained direction by Clint Eastwood, respect for the people and the situation, not to mention a superb, utterly convincing performance by Tom Hanks as Sulley.

This could so easily have been bad, but it was terrific, especially in Imax. Brace for impact!

Director: Clint Eastwood

With: Tom Hanks as the captain

Verdict: Ode to courage. Homage to professionalism. You’ll need a stiff whisky for this one!

Of Barns and Bluejays

A bluejay flew onto our back deck this morning; a gift. You hardly ever see a bluejay in our part of town.

I was taking a break from working on a proposal, having a coffee, my first day working from home this week, after an intensive four-day programme on evaluation, held downtown at Ryerson University by the Canadian Evaluation Society. And there it was – confident, assertive, with a round yellow globe in its open beak. An unripe cherry, maybe, from the cherry tree opposite, on the other side of the lane.

We are in the beginning of fall, although the weather has been warm; grey today, and cooler; raining lightly. You sense the world turning. Earth-bound, I watched as the bird flew away.

Here is my little flight from reality: another two barns, from the Prince Edward County Barn Quilt Trail.

Prince Edward County Barn Quilt Trails

Barns – preferably red, or collapsing, studies in contrast and texture – are a familiar trope: always an attraction to the holidaying photographer, often a foray into images that are hackneyed or sentimental. ‘The country,’ through the eyes of a city-dweller.

What then is the photographer to do, in Prince Edward County, which has photogenic barns aplenty?

Photograph barns on the PEC Barn Quilt Trail. Across the county, worthy locals are fixing painted quilt squares on boards to the sides of their barns, and marketing the ‘barn quilt trails’ as a local attraction.

There are some rather nice examples, so as and when I have time (I am still tied up with this darned proposal) I will post a couple, hopefully for your enjoyment. See this, not as urban sentimentality, but as sharing – and promoting – the pleasures of the county.

You can learn more about PEC’s barn quilt trails here, on this website.


Street Art, Toronto

The street art in Toronto – murals, graffiti – is worth a book on its own (I should check – it’s probably been done already).

Here is one solitary but quite lovely example – appropriately enough, high on a wall in a quiet downtown side-street.

Street Art, Toronto - Ladders.jpg

Winter, Prince Edward County

(Hu)man cannot live by bread alone, nor can I survive only on writing proposals. My good deed for my soul is to have spent twenty minutes, before settling down to work this morning, working on an image.

Here it is: cousin to yesterday’s photo, a winter scene in Prince Edward County.



For the rest of this week I will be working on a big project proposal; next week I will be attending a course at Ryerson, run by the Canadian Evaluation Society. Then back to the proposal, which is due in mid-October but will absorb a good deal of time from a team scattered across Spain and South Africa, not to mention yours truly in Canada.

It is likely, therefore, that normal blog service will be interrupted.

By way of apology (may the picture speak louder than words) here is a winter image from Prince Edward County. There will be more when I return.


Songs of Innocence

It’s a truism, but one of the things you miss as your children become adults and you yourself, along with your friends and family and their children, too, grow older, is the innocence of children, their capacity for undiluted excitement and wonder. As a new grandfather, who has yet to hold his grandson in his arms because his grandson and his daughter and son-in-law are on another continent, not just in another country, I have been feeling this acutely.

Perhaps this is why I take so much pleasure in these two images. There was a street yard sale in a little lane across the road from us, a few weeks ago, and this little girl had set out her stall and was waiting for customers. I saw the two little boys at the Aquarium the other day, when I took my wife’s nephew, who was visiting from Detroit, to see it.