Walkabout: days 551 — 555

Where do I go from here?

Last Thursday was the 1 year anniversary of my joining Gossamer Threads. Well, one year plus one day if you want to get technical. Since it was my special day and my choice, a couple of us went way out to Daisy Sandwiches to celebrate. Damn, I missed that place. It felt good to be back, with my new friends. It felt good to celebrate a whole year at a job I really, really enjoy despite occasional bouts of nerves and imposter syndrome. Here’s to another year!

Friday after work I walked up the Seawall headed for Stanley Park. My plan was to trek all the way to Lions Gate Bridge and shoot nice photos of the sunset… but I stopped at the marina. The rain was coming down, on and off, I wasn’t enjoying the walk so much, and worried the scenery just wouldn’t look good when I got there.

I gave it another shot the following day. I was feeling restless again, a great need to push against the envelope of my world though my feet were hella sore. I made it this time. It was good, but the best was yet to come. Because it was on the way back, and with my phone battery dipping below 5%, that I took the perfect shot of downtown Vancouver from the marina. I mean look at that, that is amazing. The colours are great, the composition is right, it’s an all-around winner.

Food after volleyball on Sunday, and wandering about Jim Deva Plaza on Monday. Not for the first time, and not the first time I shot those glowy signs either. A bit over a year ago, the night before my in-person interview with GT, I looked for…affirmations? revelations? something? Whatever it is, I think I’m looking for it again. Not out of nervousness about some easily quantifiable challenge, but worrying about finding my way forward, and how to build on what I have. I admit I feel lost sometimes and doubt my abilities, but I know I have the tools to connect the dots and pull me through—steadily, gracefully and strongly.

Road trip: days 546 — 550

Walkabout is good for the soul

Last time we looked back, but this time we’re going somewhere new: Surrey Pride!

I know Surrey’s in the GVRD, but it felt like a road trip, Holland Park being near the very end of the Expo Line. And true, it doesn’t look like much—some booths, a couple food trucks and a stage—but my friend and I had fun visiting the booths, getting our photos taken with the local Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and listening to some queer folk rock band from Abbotsford.

And here’s something I haven’t seen in a while: some Christian guy protesting a Pride event! When was the last time that happened? I do remember my first couple parades in Ottawa (’93, ’94), there were a couple guys at the start, just outside the park. Or parking lot. Wait, parking lot? Is that right? They weren’t big affairs back then… so yes, that does feel right. A high school or community centre parking lot, maybe.

Anyway. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it’s just a reminder that homophobia is not a thing of the past. This isn’t even about Surrey as such—I know it’s got a reputation, and the first time I went into Surrey was to protest SB36’s censorship of those gay kids’ books back in ’97—hate and bigotry can pop up everywhere. Even towns sporting a rainbow crosswalk (recently vandalised but now good as new).

Which I think makes it even more important for us Big City Folks to support the small Pride events. They have to deal with this shit a lot more than us. Next up for me would be Abbotsford Pride, yeah?

I was pretty much a hermit the rest of the long weekend, not helped by the iffy weather. So here’s a nice shot of Davie Street.

On Monday, though, I was feeling restless (maybe from too much hermiting?) and decided to take a long walk. The weather was better and I planned to just stroll through Davie Village and see what my camera could pick up. I ended up going all the way to the Seawall, then back via Denman Street. It’s beautiful, and I know I’d love living in that neighbourhood. I mean, if I could afford it.

Mind you, money isn’t everything. You just need to stop and smell the flowers… or zoom in on the ladybugs. This was as big as I could get it, though, which frustrated me a little. There’s no macro zoom on this phone, and when I moved in closed the camera wouldn’t focus. Oh well, at least I know my equipment’s limit.

The classics never go out of style: days 536 — 545

Same except different. Old except new.

A lot of familiar sights in this batch.

And you know what? That’s okay. I don’t have to strike out every day to explore new worlds and new civilisations. Sometimes I tell myself I should, that every photo should be totally unique. From day one I worried I’d run out of inspiration going round and round the same routine. The fact is, though, I don’t need to push every day. And I don’t need to feel super-inspired with every shot I take. Spur of the moment is fine, as long as I keep plugging away at the challenge. And even old familiar faces can be made new again.

Yaletown towers after volleyball. And again. Sunset Beach Park during volleyball. Urban Beach after volleyball (and before the rain).

Wow, that’s a lot of volleyball, isn’t it? And pretty familiar, right? But then: some weird shoots on a palm tree on Harwood. I must have walked down that street a thousand times and never even noticed there were palm trees there! And they’re apparently flowering structures, not some weird parasite as I first assumed. So hey: live and learn.

And then: East Side Pride. I don’t think I went last year, though I’m pretty sure I went in 2016. When did Pokemon Go start? It was that year. Some friends and I were catching Eevees at one end of the park, and apparently some people were giving us funny looks, thinking we were Christians with our heads bowed in prayer or something.

And then: Watching The Ten Commandments after The Incredibles 2. I’d never seen it before apart from the Red Sea parting scene and, no joke, it’s really good. Surprisingly engaging movie, with some good tweaking and massaging of the original story to make it flow better on the big screen, interesting camera work that seems reminiscent of theatre or silent movies, and no expense spared in creating a sumptuously epic experience. Janky special effects, but hey, it was 1956, and I figure they did the best they could. Not everybody’s cup of tea, sure, but I had a great time.

Tuesday I decided to walk home along the Coal Harbour Seawall, shooting super neat things I’d never noticed before, then up Broughton through Davie Village. That was a neat experience. Coming up to Georgia St I flashed back to all the times I came home from my old job in North Van. I don’t miss it. In fact, I regret staying as long as I did. Bright side: I can look back on it and reflect on how much better off I am. I can take more pictures of Davie Village without associating them stress and an unhappy work environment.

And so we end with a lovely English Bay sunset after dinner with friends. Been there, done that? Sure. The geese, though, that’s new!

Proving myself: days 526 — 535

Everything is on the test

This has been a super busy and stressful week and a bit. My introverted self has been pushed to its limits, my insecurities have been tested, but I know it’s all good for me.

Sunday the 10th: first day of tryouts for the VGVA indoor league. I’m shooting for the Competitive division, as I have for the past several years. Actually made it in 2016, then last year I was pushed down to Intermediate. I mean, I get it, there was an influx of very high-level players that pushed everyone down. It still stings, though.

Tryouts were followed by an afternoon of beach volleyball. Part of me wasn’t really keen on it—the part that likes to just sit around playing video games—but hey, sun and exercise and hot shirtless guys? Can’t say no to that, even though it depleted my energy cells.

Monday, I should have gone to that vball skills clinic, but (a) I was exhausted, and (b) I was giving a presentation at a WordPress meetup, and meeting a friend to rehearse with. I was nervous, not to say terrified, but the rehearsal hammered through all the bugs. I knew my material was solid, and now my presentation was too. Others agreed the next day.

The story really started in February when I went through an all-day workshop specifically for people who’d never presented in WP meetups / WordCamps, but wanted to dive in. We came up with ideas, refined and polished them, then did a super-short presentation. So that was good. And then at the WP15 party a couple weeks ago, the meetup organiser asked me if I wanted to do this presentation for real. Though part of me panicked I said yes, and here we are. This is a huge milestone for me! I kind of expected to feel more changed, but I knew that was silly. A single act won’t remove all my fears and insecurities. But I’m chipping away at them. This isn’t the end of the story.

Also on Tuesday, not pictured: my semiannual checkin / review at work. It went fine! No worries there. Okay, that’s a lie, I was worried. Isn’t Imposter Syndrome’s tons of fun? Though it’s nice that I can tell the difference between that and rational worry. Most of the time.

Also on Tuesday, pictured: some interesting theories about God.

Wednesday, a dramatic shot of light reflected by and on downtown buildings, followed by an even more dramatic shot of Yaletown with angry-looking clouds in the background. No storm was actually coming, but… Thursday happened to be the first of three nights in a row volunteering for the VMC. I figured that mentally it would be freaking exhausting, especially after all the drama that week, and Taichi on Saturday and going to the OneCity nomination meeting followed by more tryouts and more beach on Sunday and back on the vball skills clinic on Monday and Jesus when would I get the chance to rest and grab some “me” time? It all seemed incredibly overwhelming, but I decided to just put my head down, wear a big smile and power through it. It felt like another test, another workout, and I would pass it like I’d passed those other ones.

What I found out is that it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Maybe I found some energy reserves I didn’t know I had, maybe I’d been fighting myself and expecting to have a hard time. Or maybe a little bit of both. I do know the volunteer pizza party on closing night helped a lot, followed by a quiet bit of wandering around Granville Island and shooting the mainland. Haven’t done night photography in a while, and people still can’t believe that photo was taken by a phone.

Second tryouts went well. It took me a little while to find my groove, but in the end I was playing (I feel) better than last week, with better hits and especially better blocks. So on average… who knows? I guess we’ll see.

And so the Very Dramatic Week ended. Now it’s all over but the pretty pics: a bit of beach vball, the #underbrella public art piece behind Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, taken on the way to the skills clinic, and a lucky shot of a seagull soaring in front of a shiny Coal Harbour building. Didn’t even see it there when I took the picture, but there you go.

And I’ll remember this: next time concentrated drama happens in my life, hopefully I won’t build it up too much in my head, because I know I can handle it. And maybe that’s the test right there.

Spots of colour: days 521 — 525

Joy under clouds

It’s funny how memory works. What sticks in my mind about these five days is the grey overcast sky, as it was last Tuesday. I took this photo on the way to the Y, and kind of felt conflicted about it. On the one hand, I like the perspective-y composition that a lot of my fans also seem to like. On the other hand, it’s grey, grey sky on grey street and even the brown hospital building and orange traffic thingies aren’t helping.

I’ve felt this before: whenever the weather gets bad, I retreat. I don’t get out so much, I don’t look around so much, I don’t get inspired so much. That’s normal, right? But it does mean I have to work harder at it.

And the thing is, though the weather’s been kind of iffy, overall it’s been pretty good. There are some clouds, but they just make those sunsets all the prettier!

Though not as pretty as this donation box, which some Mole Hill children put up. Where is the money going to exactly? Which country will benefit? Should I be worried they’re just leaving change for people to grab? Nah. I’m happy encouraging the youth of today to do good in the world.

Saturday was my first of four nights volunteering for the Vancouver Men’s Chorus summer show. I’ll have more this weekend. Only planned 3, but they were short-handed, so I squeezed in one more. Though don’t get me wrong, it’s not a chore at all! The VMC always puts on amazing shows… and this one was different. “Gays of our Lives” could mean anything, but this was a bit more conceptual and nerdy. They wove meditations on queer history, community and gender into show-stopping song and dance numbers, and I am super looking forward to seeing it again and again and again, picking out details and nuances I missed the first time.

I ain’t afraid of no bees: days 511 — 520

Buzzzzzzz happy Pride Month

There I was, resting outside the Roundhouse after a grueling volleyball skills clinic, when I spied a bee crawling on the ground. I used to be pretty scared of those stinging critters—only natural, right?—but I wasn’t scared at all. Mostly because I figured it was a worker honeybee that had just reached its expiration date. They only live for a few weeks, y’know.

Turns out it was a bumblebee. I didn’t peg it as such because (a) I’d never seen a bumblebee crawling on the ground, and (b) it was a lot smaller and slimmer than any other I’d seen. But apparently this is one of the first generation born in the spring; later in the summer we’d see big stocky ones like I was used to. Amazing. Live and learn!

Then on the way home, I snapped one more shot, of the sunset burning up the clouds over Davie Street. My god that’s gorgeous. I think I might include it in my 2018 retrospective.

Speaking of clouds though, the weather’s gotten more and more overcast over the last week or so. Right now I’m not enjoying it because everything’s grey and icky, but for a while, it meant a beautiful mix of clouds and blue sky.

Case in point!

And one more, Yaletown towers holding up a delicate canopy of clouds.

And then the canopy got not so delicate… It actually rained a little bit that day, though the weather did clear up later. Mind you, this was pretty good beach vball weather. Much more sun than that and the sand gets really hot. Downside: not so many hot guys taking their shirts off.

And, oh yeah: it’s Pride Month! A bit less meaningful in BC, since our Pride thing is in August, but still. I’ve had my eye on the Heart of Davie Village piece for a while, but was never quite happy with either the light or the angle. But there we go. Glad to live in this queer-friendly neighbourhood, in this queer-friendly city.

Gold and blue: days 506 — 510

That time of day

A lot of sunsets!

Sunset Beach from Burrard Bridge, at that most magical time of day. Don’t really remember what I was doing there on a Monday night… but oh well, there it is.

Tuesday was the first night of VGVA grass league at Creekside Park. I’m not in that league, but was asked to sub. So I ambled on down the Seawall, taking a few shots of Science World as I got near. I remember trying to do this from Cambie Bridge and it went nowhere. No worries, I was just too far away. Science World is really pretty, all that spherical silver grid that turns gold in the setting sun.

(My first title for this post was “Silver and gold”, until I remembered that was a Pokémon game. So, pass.)

Wednesday, first night of grass league at David Lam Park, which I’ve sorely missed. All through my games, I was looking around, anxious not to miss all these gorgeous sunset shots. But I got enough: sunlight off the towers (around 8:35PM), some pretty golden clouds (also 8:35), and some pretty orange clouds (8:50PM. I think it was in the middle of our last match, in the break between sets).

Not quite a sunset shot, just Granville Street as I came home from work. It was just another perspective-y street photo that was all the rage last fall, until I noticed the sun was low enough that the west side was all in shadow, and the east side was brightly lit. I can’t say I planned this effect, but it looks hella nice.

And we end the week with a couple of architecture shots… which, in hindsight I’m kind of meh about. It’s a nice contrast between the hard corners of 737 Dunsmuir and the curves of 1050 Smithe, but I dunno. I don’t feel like there’s a story here.

Plus, it kind of breaks the sunset streak I had going. Is that something I want to do, have themes? Ehhh… maybe? Nah, themes aren’t what I need. They can’t all be great winners.

In the neighbourhood: days 501 — 505

It’s all here

Sometime I want to push out, wander far, take in brand new sights. Sometimes I have all I need right here. So this half week is 80% me walking around, snapping pics of the West End!

On the way to Storm Crow for Wednesday quiz night, I said to myself, what could shake up the routine of taking amazing shots of False Creek, Kits and / or Granville Island? How about a shot pointing down at the waterfront? Yeah, that’ll do it. I didn’t dare point it straight down, because I was terrified of dropping my phone. As it was, it still kicked up my acrophobia a bit.

Thursday: dinner with a friend, then groceries, stopping at the Jim Deva Plaza. I started by taking pics of some pigeons wandering around, but they didn’t turn out to be so interesting. So I just sat for a second, looked over at Davie Street, and… there it was. The busy street, this little rainbow oasis, and the last light of the day.

And again. Nice way to end the week, I think! Is it lazy? Is it easy? Maybe, but who cares? I could fill a whole calendar year just with photos of Davie Village.

And a sunset from near the Inukshuk on Sunday. Out of several shots I took on that walk, I chose the meta one. And on a day like that, at that time, photographers have to duck around each other and apologise every 30 seconds because everybody wants to capture that sweet, sweet sunset.

It’s been a while since I took a picture of food, right? Actually I just checked, and it’s been less than two months, going back to our Easter tea crawl. Anyway, here’s some sushi, at the place where we usually eat after Taichi class. Never had this kind before, it’s yummy!

Never thought I’d make it to 50, but here we are: Day 500

Half a thousand

This is a hell of a milestone. On January 1st, 2017, I started my photo-a-day challenge. And 500 days later, here I am. If someone had told me I could take at least one photo a day for 500 days, without missing a single day, I probably would have laughed in their face.

I wanted something really special to mark this milestone. But special is in the eye of the beholder, and fuck it, this is special enough: a sunset over English Bay, taken after a spot of beach volleyball, and captioned with lines from one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite shows. No reason why, I just felt like it.

The sun is shining on my beautiful city: days 471 — 499

Omnia novi sub sole

After weeks of on and off rain and grey and blah, the sun came out and stayed. Not all the last month, but most of it. And I enjoyed the hell out of it.

I took a walk through the West End, something I hadn’t done in a while.

I walked up Georgia St as far as Denman. I was kinda thinking I’d walk around Stanley Park to shoot Skalsh (formerly known as Siwash Rock) at sunset. That didn’t happen, because I forgot it’s halfway around the park and I was just not up to walking for a couple of hours. I did capture some nice public art.

(Then back to rain on Friday. Meh)

But then back to sun on Sunday!

And more public art!

The clouds came back for a bit, reflecting my mood about VGVA’s indoor season ending… but hey, this is not really an ending, but a beginning!

Oh, and a few night shots too. On the way back from Quiz Night I got Venus over Kits and Granville Island. Pretty sure my old phone couldn’t have managed that!

Saturday May 5 I finally got around to Skalsh, by way of Second Beach and Third Beach. It was a lovely evening, and I even got to see a heron. And yes, I walked back the way I came. I did consider doing a full circuit around Stanley Park, but it was getting dark, I was tired, and that was just a big nope.

Sunday, the VGVA AGM. I kind of did consider running again—not for webmaster since that’s still taken and the new guy is doing a fine job—but maybe for secretary or member-at-large. Don’t want to be a division director, that’s way too far out of my comfort zone. But in the end I decided against it. Though I miss being part of the action, I don’t miss it enough to run against people who want it more than me. Plus I’d have to make a speech and everything, ugh.

It’s funny how some photos that I don’t think too highly of when I take them, end up being really popular. Case it point, this fountain at Canada Place. It was just one of several things I shot at lunchtime, but somehow it struck a chord. Looking at it again, I can see why. The sprays and droplets are full of lovely detail that I just didn’t notice when I took it. Just goes to show.

Last Wednesday was gaymes night at the Storm Crow on Commercial. Instead of taking the SkyTrain I thought, fuck it, I’ll walk! Google Maps says it’s 55 minutes, totally doable. It was a lovely and warm day, and I saw some nice sights. Strathcona is gorgeous, and I learned some history.

I remember taking this exact same shot many years ago, after (I think) a Pride parade and on my way back to the burbs. It’s a call-back to a not very happy time in my life, but I adore this shot. The composition is perfect, the light is perfect (overcast, but with a hint of morning gold). So, let’s call it redeeming a memory, shall we?

Last Saturday was busy busy. My usual Taichi class, then zooming to Abbotsford for a friend’s birthday celebration at the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery in Abbotsford. There I learned all about BC fish, how to fish, and we got to try it outselves (with barbless hooks, purely catch-and-release). I didn’t catch anything, and honestly part of me’s relieved about that. I was a little squeamish at the thought of holding a struggling fish and pulling the hook out of their mouth.

Later that night was Mr Spiked, VGVA’s end of year beauty pageant fundraiser where a bunch of hot guys strip down to their underwear and prance around for our pleasure. They also put on formalwear and answer penetrating questions like “Which of your fellow contestants would you fuck, marry or kill?” And sorry, the underwear / swimwear photos are not going on Instagram.

Sunday I went with a friend to Horseshoe Bay. Not to take a ferry, but to photograph them. He’s writing and self-publishing a novel that takes place partly on a ferry (and partly right in Horseshoe Bay, I think), and we scoped out a few possible covers for his book. That’s the first time anybody’s asked me that, and I was deeply flattered. And happy to help, too. Artistic collaboration FTW!

Monday, a few coworkers and I picked up garbage around Habitat Island as part of Gossamer Threads’ eco-challenge month. I jumped at the call when they asked for volunteers—I want to help make the world a better place, and it was nice to hang out with these folks outside of work.

And all of this leads me to…