Out of the box: days 111 – 115

There wasn’t much of a theme in these 5 days, except that it felt like a return to early days—fumbling, uncertain, more actively looking out for scenes to photograph. It’s a good feeling, if kind of frustrating. Flowers felt comfortable, y’know? They were everywhere, just begging to be captured on my phone. They were easy. So if the general feeling for Days 106–110 was “down, then up”, this was more like “wandering about with no sense of direction”.

And again, this is good. In addition to the frustration—which will and should never go away—I’m starting to have fun with it. Case in point, Chiaroscuro @ Blue Mountain Park. Self-deprecatingly pretentious? Yup. The joke is, after a bit of Wikipedia browsing, I don’t think I’m using the word wrong after all.

Then the following day, I had the urge to swing by Jericho Beach after volleyball. I had been there in ages, and I figured there’d be plenty of opportunities for photos. So I walked around the park, then got to the beach and sat down to rest my weary feet. When I noticed those crows I couldn’t resist, and I also couldn’t resist pretentiously captioning it like some artiste presenting their work in a gallery.

Days 114 and 115 were a bit less out-of-the-box, I’ll admit. Oh well, we can’t be on every day.

To everything there is a season: days 106 – 110

This was a much more varied five days. After a brilliant curtain of white cherry blossoms on Saturday, I vegetated for most of the long weekend. Finally took my lazy ass out for a walk on the Seawall Sunday around sunset, where I snapped a ton of lovely photos; I finally decided on a silhouette of a tree against the clouds—such a gorgeous contrast of blacks and whites and blues.

Monday was not very nice at all, but I again went for a walk on the Seawall (twice in a row? Sure, why not. I’d already done enough of the Village, but not enough water shots), but it was not a long one since the weather was yucky. A quick shot of Sunset Beach from near the ferry terminal, and that was that.

Tuesday on the way to work, I was captivated by the sight of a large white flower already somewhat dried and wilted. Now there’s symbolism… it fit with my general mood (back to the salt mines after a long weekend) and the weather, so even though I might have liked a nice happy flower photo, this was too good to pass up.

Wednesday I went to the biweekly nerd quiz thing at the Storm Crow Alehouse, and decided to walk across Granville Bridge. A nice bit of exercise, plus I’d get a nice shot of Burrard Bridge! But it just goes to show: even planned shots don’t always turn out like you expect. I snapped some pics of the bridge head-on, but somehow I felt there was something missing. It wasn’t until I was near the south end that I got the best point of view: the mountains and the West End and the busy marina, all combining into a harmonious whole. The landmark I’d wanted was way in the background, but it turns out I didn’t need it like I thought I did. A different point of view unlocked a much better result.

Thursday, a heads-up shot, like I’d done the previous week. Except this time the angle was much sharper, the sky was blue, and the building was wreathed in leaves, not flowers.

Sign of the times. So it’s okay if flowers fade, it’s okay if skies turn grey, every day will bring us more beauty. Just got to wait and see.

Nothing but flowers: days 101 – 105

It’s that time of year, what did we expect?

But hey, it’s not just cherry blossoms! Vancouver and surrounding areas sport tons of different flowers, most of which were just sort of… in the background. I don’t really know much about flowers, to be honest, but I learned a little this week.

On Tuesday evening I got off the bus at Broughton, and took a photo of one of the highrise condos there, framed by cherry blossom branches. I thought that had potential, so I kept it in reserve. But then I ended up using a similar photo I took at Haro & Jervis, of a building framed by magnolia flowers. I wish there had been a little more light, but I love the contrast of hard lines and fleshy curves. Plus, I think the sandy beige and soft pink work quite well together.

The following day I revisited those condos, and after playing around with different perspectives, settled on a lovely reflection shot framed by an abundance of cherry blossoms.

And then I thought, maybe this is going to be a theme? Nicolas Looking Up At Buildings Along With Some Flowers? But that didn’t happen because the following morning I spied some amazing fuchsia-coloured flowers, still wet from the rain, and I couldn’t resist. A little googling told me they’re called Azaleas; varieties come in all sorts of colours, but they all seem to have the same basic shape (5 large raggedy petals) and a weird pattern of little dots in the topmost petal. I guess that’s to signal bees, or whichever pollinators prefer azaleas in the wild?

The next day starred some pretty little bell-shaped flowers, with a pearly white colour. More googling told me they’re called lily-of-the-valley or Pieri “Forest Flame” , a.k.a. muguet in French. I know those flowers, we had a few growing in our backyard in Ottawa. I think. I don’t remember largish bushes or dark green leaves. Also the flowers were more spherical, and a more solid white. So… regional variations? Two completely different plants? I’m really not sure.

Saturday was our first outdoor Taiji practice in a long while, at Blue Mountain Park. The sun was shining (most of the time), it was warm-ish, so I celebrated by shooting some of the local cherry blossoms.

The flowers may not be here for long, though. Some are wilting and drying, and a whole bunch of trees are already shedding their petals. It’s a bit sad, but I’m okay with it. To everything there is a season.

One hundred days

In 2016, a number of my friends did a “photo a day” challenge—some with a theme, some without. I’d sort of tried it myself a few times, but didn’t have the discipline to make it stick for very long. Plus, I think I made my job too hard, trying to post it to my blog, Twitter and Facebook at the same time. And Flickr, too, which is even more of a pain from the phone app. There may have been plugins to help me to that, but it didn’t seem worth the effort.

But then I rediscovered my Instagram account, which I had for a while but hadn’t done anything with, and figured this was a good enough channel. And then, on New Year’s Day, the first one up in my brother’s apartment, I took a picture out the window and posted it.

Day 1/365: New Year’s Day morning, view from my brother’s apt. #dailypic

A post shared by Nicolas Demers (@npatrickd2504) on

And… I decided to keep on doing that. The really amazing thing is that I have. One hundred days, one hundred photos. One photo a day, every day. I did come close to breaking my streak a couple times, posting right under the buzzer before midnight. And sometimes I just wasn’t feeling inspired and just took a photo of my neighbourhood. Or once when I was feeling ill, just going outside shooting the street in front of my apartment (because seriously, I didn’t want to show pictures of my messy place).

But I’ve kept up the challenge, and it feels good. At first I was a bit stressed out over the need to be on the looking for things to photograph. Also, I’m kind of a creature of habits, and I didn’t think I’d find a variety of interesting scenes in my daily routine. And it’s true, it did feel like a bit of a chore at first, until I got in the right frame of mind. But again, there are so many details and fresh perspectives that make the most mundane things fascinating, I just have to I just have to keep my eyes and mind open, and listen to my instincts. Besides, the world is constantly changing, new things always pop up.

That doesn’t mean I can’t experiment. On January 25th I did a cool black-and-white thing (that I don’t think has really aged well, but whatever, it felt good at the time); textures, on a couple of occasions; shooting from close to the ground; and so on.

I’m still feeling my way, to be honest (aren’t we all?). But I like where it’s going. I feel I’m developing a better eye for what will make a nice photo. And now, after this little milestone, I’m going to up my game a little. From now on, every 5 days I will write a blog post about my most recent photos. I desperately need to get back into blogging, and this will be a great focus for that.

And hey, on a brand new blog, too! The old one’s still around, and I might bring all its content here someday.