Walk About

Walk About-103619

I’ve been thinking about a new theme of photos.

I thought of quotidian except it’s such an overblown word for ordinary things.  But I want to share more than ordinary things. More than ordinary but less than extraordinary, because that’d make them phenomenal, and that’s really too hard to maintain as a theme.

I’ve settled on ‘Walk About’ because that’s what I’ll be doing – walking about and snapping unexpected scenes.

Like this one.  If I’d had staged it myself, it couldn’t have been a more perfect shot. But Tartan Window Cleaning had nothing to do with the Tea shop and Taco stall behind it. By the time I’d walked back, the truck was gone and the store fronts were back to being ordinary.

Ucluelet, B.C. May 2019





Surf Day

It’s May and it’s officially surf season.  Next week is the Rip Curl Nationals and this weekend it’s the West Coast Triple Plank. Only on Vancouver Island can you triple plank – SURF, SKATE & SNOWBOARD – in one week-end.  Surfing is on Cox Beach, Skate boarding in Tofino and Snowboarding on Mt Washington.

The West Coast Triple Plank was created three years ago as a fun way to raise awareness and funds for the Central Westcoast Forest Society (CWFS), a registered charity for rainforest conservation and restoration.

Surfing was on the agenda today and we headed out to have a look. For once, I had the foresight to bring my camera and I hoped to get a few good shots. I had lots of opportunity.

There were serious surfers.

And there were those having serious fun wiping out.

Wipe out or no, old friends were always on shore.

Cox Beach, Tofino. May 2019

It Begins with the Eyes

re: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Eyes

Eyes - Cuba-2150137

I’m a fan of street photography but when I’m on the street, I focus mainly on light and composition. It’s in the post-selection work that I look for finer details. For street portraits, it begins with the eyes and ends with context.

For this week’s challenge I share pictures from a trip to Santiago de Cuba.

I was tramping through the grounds of an industrial property when I noticed this fellow eating his lunch.  My first instinct was to turn away – I was trespassing – but then he waved hello.  Like everyone I’d met in that sleepy town, he was friendly and curious about what I was doing.  He told me about his work; it had something to do with digging utility poles and hauling them around in his ’60s-era truck.  My understanding was limited, I knew just enough Spanish to give an illusion of comprehension.  But I nodded wisely and asked if I could take his photo.

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I met this other fellow several times during the trip.  He was a musician in the local band and I enjoyed his music in the town square and swanky hotel resorts. On this particular day he welcomed me to his workshop where he built and repaired guitars. Cuba is a resource poor country and musicians have a hardscrabble life. Even so, it’s clear that for some at least, their revolutionary leader is still admired.

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Photos taken in Cuba, 2018

Surf Envy

Heading back after surf lessons

The 2019 Rip Curl Nationals is coming up in May. Intense competition is expected as it’s  also the team trials for the 2020 Olympics. It will be the first time that surfing is an Olympic event, so excitement is pretty high.

This means everyone who’s suffering from surf envy is either learning to surf, hoping to surf or wanting to surf.

In my case, I’ll keep my surf envy in check and go directly to telephoto lens envy.  It should be a great event for sports photography. So says the gal who’s never done it before but intends to try.  With or without a telephoto lens.

Long Beach, Tofino. April 2019

Sitting on the Sidelines

re: Cee’s Black & White Challenge – View from the Side

Street photography is a hobby of mine. Cee’s B&W challenge reminded me of this old favorite.

When I originally took the shot, I was focused on the contrast in color and mood.

With Cee’s Black & White challenge, I took away the color which effectively pumped up the intensity and focused attention on the subject.

I still like the color version, I’m just not sure which is my new favorite.

Which is yours?

Photos taken in San Francisco, CA. 


Bridge over the river Sông Hồng

re: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Bridges

Hubby likes bridges. When we went to Hanoi, his top place to visit was Long Biên bridge. It’s an historic bridge crossing the Sông Hồng (Red River)  and connecting Hanoi to Haiphong. It was built in 1903, in what was then French Indochina. When it opened it was the longest bridge in Asia and a spectacular example of large scale cantilever bridges.  It was designed by Gustav Eiffel, the engineer best known for his landmark structure in Paris.

Of course, I knew none of this when I first saw it. I was more taken by (and cautious of) the constant stream of traffic traversing the bridge.  In Vietnam motorcycles and pedestrians share common pathways and walking across the bridge really meant hugging on to the sides.

Bridges - LongBien Hanoi-00511

While hubby photographed the bridge structure, I looked at the tidy squares of plotted land reclaimed by farmers on the river banks. Neatly staked beans grew alongside broad leafed tubers and ‘choy’-type vegetables

On the water, an itinerant  fisherman tended his houseboat. In northern Vietnam this was a common enough sight, where people opted out of crowded cities to live on the water.

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On the land side of the bridge I was enveloped by the heady scent of pineapples.  Tons of fresh fruit were being unloaded from a cavalcade of dump trucks.  This narrow strip of road was the beginning of the Long Bien market and it was clearly pineapple delivery time.

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By this time, Hubby had had his fill of shooting the bridge.   I’d had mine too and even though I had no pictures of the bridge itself, I had enough sights, sounds and smells to remind me of the life around it.

Long Bien bridge in Hanoi, Vietnam.  Taken in 2014

Plastics in the Ocean


I am leveled by the ocean’s grandeur.

When I leave and come back to town, it’s that first glimpse of Pacific blue that tells me I’m home.  Whether it’s stormy or bright, the ocean is the first  and last thing I see each day.

There is nothing so beautiful as the ocean at rest and nothing more magnificent than an ocean storm.  I envy and admire the creatures that live in it, by it and around it. The ocean sustains an ecosystem that is both beautiful and fragile.

So you’ll understand my dismay when I see this on the beach.  Little pieces of plastic washed up by the tides. Plastic broken down by the waves, on their way to become microplastics consumed and ingested by marine life.

There are many articles describing the impact of discarded plastics. When I’m in Toronto surrounded by glass and concrete conveniences, it’s easy to become inured to their message.  Out here, it’s hard to ignore what lies in balance.

Ucluelet has a voluntary ban on single use plastics. Local businesses have complied and except for the liquor store, there are no plastic shopping bags available. Plastic straws? None. Not even in the liquor store.

Plastics BYOB

In my home I avoid single use plastics and recycle or re-use it where I can. In Toronto I have a XL Blue bin for pickup and recycling.  In Ucluelet I don’t have curbside pickup. I’ve become creative in reusing milk jugs and dairy containers.

Dairy containers, particularly the 1L size tubs are great for food prep.  I’m a stickler for mise en place when cooking and lining up my tubs of diced onions, carrots and celery emote a satisfaction that die-hard cooks will understand.  Yogurt containers are good, not great containers for storing left overs. Good because they fit neatly in my fridge. Not great because it’s hard to tell the left-overs from the real thing.

Milk jugs make useful pails and carry-alls. I have one in my kitchen to soak vegetables before chopping and another to hold peelings after chopping.  When I’m in the mood, I use one as a carry-all for house-cleaning blitzes.  Since I’m hardly in the mood, it’s a great store-all for my house-cleaning stuff.

I keep a milk jug pail in my car at all times. I use it for trips to the beach. It’s a holder for a shoe brush, essential for cleaning sand off of my shoes.  It’s also a collection pail, essential for cleaning plastics off the the sand.

Ucluelet.  April 2019







Easter Bun Zone

Three years ago I was homesick for a slice of Jamaican bun and cheese.

Ukee Bun&Cheese

It was late March, a few weeks short of Good Friday. In previous years and for as long as I could remember, I’d have had at least one five-pound bun on my table. Traditionally gifted at Easter time, buns are a holiday treat in every Jamaican household.

At the time I was living in Singapore, an island half way around the world and an Easter bun-free zone. If I’d been living in Toronto I’d have had a choice of bakery and grocery stores to buy from. Local bakeries made their own and groceries flew them in from the homeland. But I was in Singapore and while there was no end of kueh, chang and puffs (all perfectly good in their own right) there was nothing like real Jamaican Easter bun.

So what is Easter bun?

It’s an improved, Jamaican version of hot cross buns.  Improved because it is bigger, better and sweeter. Similar to hot cross buns, they are spicy yeast breads filled with candied citron and raisins. Different in that the spice is nutmeg, sweeter in that it’s molasses and brown sugar, bigger in that it’s a loaf not a bun. Even if it is called a bun, it’s a “bun”, not bread.  Unlike hot cross buns, it is best eaten with cheese.  Salty, orange Tastee cheese from a tin is traditional but any mellow semi-hard cheese will do.

So back to Singapore – I wanted bun & cheese but couldn’t buy it.  The only way to get my fix was to make it myself.  I wrote about it here. It took a couple tries but eventually there was success.  I made bun and it was good.

Fast forward to present day. It’s Easter and once again, I’m on an island, in another Easter bun-free zone. 

This time …. Nooo problem, ma’n.

Have a Happy Easter week-end!

Ucluelet, B.C.  April 2019




Vanishing Points in Prague Metro

re: Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Vanishing Point

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  While the bridges and old city buildings are gorgeous, I am most intrigued by the subway stations. The station designs are clinical, severe and strangely melancholy.

It is no surprise that the Prague Metro is relatively new, only forty five years old and almost entirely Russian built.

For the the CB&W challenge, I show two photos with vanishing point perspectives.

And because I like them, I include two more with absolutely no point at all.

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Photos in Prague, Czech Republic. 2018