Tides and persistence: days 744 — 755

Tides come in, tides go out

Monday the 14th was when I started my daily Sunset Beach photo thing for real. It’s been a great experience in all respects: I get some gorgeous photos, plus accountability with a solid record of my photo times. In the last 2 weeks I’ve knocked about 15 minutes off my shooting time. Who would have thought I could take one thing in my life and use it to improve another thing? What a crazy world we live in!

It hasn’t been 100% smooth, though. For one, I need to go to bed earlier. For another, I need to not dawdle so much in the morning. But after literally years of fighting against bad habits and never making lasting progress, I feel I’m on my way!

I’m reading a book recommended to me, Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path To Truly Growing up. It’s good stuff, talking about various Buddhist virtues that even atheists like me can put in practice in their everyday life. One of those virtues is persistence: putting in the work every day, walking the path step by step, focusing on the journey and holding no expectations about the end result. I realise now this is what I’ve been doing for the last two years with my photography. Day by day I polished my skills but I didn’t try to plan anything—I definitely didn’t plan on taking daily Sunset Beach photos again, but there you go. Still, it’s all paying off now.

All these photos are absolutely fascinating. Tides match lunar days, right? And lunar days are a bit longer than solar days, which is why on January 23rd that little spit of rocks at the end of the closest chunk of beach was aaaaaalmost completely submerged at 7:39, while a day later more of it was visible, with highest tides coming apparently at 8:30.

The other thing that gets me about these photos? How much positive feedback they’ve gotten on Instagram. Most of them received at least one comment—a thumbs up or a bunch of heart emojis or something—and that’s new and frankly bewildering. I get that it’s a gorgeous vista, that’s why I chose it, but is that the whole story? Or maybe I should just hush my little overanalysing brain and self-doubts and enjoy this ride while it lasts?

Yes, I think that’s what I will do.

It’s not just Sunset Beach, though. Feast your eyes on a cyberpunk street downtown! A really grainy super wolf blood moon! Chairs in the rain! And a closer look at the king tides which… is still totally Sunset Beach. Ehh, whatever. I like the place.

Morning light: days 738 — 743

Greeting the sun

I got up earlier on Monday, taking this lovely shot of Sunset Beach before heading out to the gym, and then decided to keep it up for at least a week.

Tuesday, it was Beach Avenue. Wednesday I switched to the east side of the bridge and took a fantastic shot of traffic in the rain. Thursday I captured the seawall and the other side of Beach Avenue. Then more of the skyline on Friday.

Saturday the weather cleared up, so I took the time to look up when the sun rises at this time of year (shortly after 8:00AM FYI) and headed out to shoot the sunrise. It was fucking gorgeous! I took tons of photos and posted five… but in hindsight I think I would only have posted this one, taken at 8:06. It shows the wibbly blob of the soon-to-be-visible sun, and it’s got more skyline, which is nice. I need to edit! A small number of photos can have a greater impact than a large number of too-similar photos. Well, live and learn.

And on Sunday, another gorgeous sunrise, followed by a gorgeous foggy sunset.

So there we are. Verdict? I like it, and I want to keep it up! Taking photos in the early morning means less pressure on me to find something else later. Not to mention, it’s getting me out of the apartment earlier. Who knew it could work that way? All I needed was to find the right motivator.

Ten years ago, shortly after moving downtown, I started taking a bunch of photos of Sunset Beach at around the same time, from around the same vantage point. It was pretty irregular, and I kept it up on and off over the next 2 years. It was a really interesting exercise in seeing how this bit of Vancouver changed day by day: the tides, the foliage, the weather, the snow, all of it. I loved it. I’d like to start it up again, though I know it won’t work the same on Instagram. Maybe I could have a special hashtag? Or put them in stories, which I’ve never used before? And if I take a photo of Sunset Beach every morning, will I be less likely to seek out other photos the rest of the day? Will my feed skew too hard to Sunset Beach?

Or maybe I’m overthinking this. All I know is, I’ll be up early tomorrow to snap a picture from the same vantage point as tonight. After that, we’ll take it day by day.

Leveling up: days 731 — 737

Where’s my spice weasel?

The year started out normally: after a party in Montreal with my brother and his friends, I take the bus back to Ottawa. And as also seems to be the norm, I go on the 17 instead of the 417. More direct on paper, but it’s a smaller highway and goes through more small towns so it ends up being a bit slower.

Very picturesque towns, as you can see. I took a few photos of the same trip last year, but didn’t get a window seat until Hawkesbury. And I was on the left (south-facing) side, so there was a bit of sun in my eye, and I didn’t get to see the pretty little churches, scenic shots of the Ottawa River, and assorted abstract-ish shots of blue sky and snow or blue sky, ice and concrete.

Not to mention the urban shots: railroads (one of the several suburban lines) and hella constructions and some moody… thing which makes a statement—though don’t ask me exactly what statement— and the very first photo of the year: a brokenly symmetrical view of the Langelier station exit. The first photo has to make an impression, right? And I’m very, very happy with it. In fact, I love all the photos I took that day, from the Metro to my brother’s cat. The year’s off to a good start.

And kept on being good at YOW airport… the flight was not so great, though. Well, those ten turbulence-free minutes between Regina and Calgary were okay.

I’ve missed Vancouver, I really have. Ottawa just doesn’t feel right anymore. Downtown is kind of claustrophobic… but then I’m not being fair. I was just in the business / Parliament section that day. If I’d visited, say, Rideau Street, or the Market, it would have looked a lot more like Gastown or Library Square. I mean, Ottawa isn’t all civil servants.

And then… changing things up: making a better space for creativity in my bedroom / office, which involves getting rid of my old desk and getting a new one, on which I’m typing this. It’s nice, I get to gaze out the window and let the view inspire me. The view is mostly the building across the street, but there are still a couple trees, so there you go.

Changing more things up: I got up a bit earlier than usual on Monday and took a photo of Sunset Beach from Burrard Bridge. I’ve seen this before, of course, but in the pre-dawn light? Maybe not. It’s different. It’s new. And that’s what I need right now.

Because don’t get me wrong: 2 years and change of daily photos is a great accomplishment. I am super proud of myself for that. But now I want to take it to the next level. 638 days I started blogging again, and it’s been a great experience. What else can I do? How can I build on what I have?

I don’t have answers, just a nagging frustration. And a nagging fear that whatever I still have in store I either won’t be up for it or I’ve missed my chance. But that’s the thing about the future: two years ago I never dreamed I’d be blogging again at a nice standing desk, still doing this photo challenge, and 18 months into a really awesome job.

You never know, and that’s the joy of it.