Music and song

Another long-overdue Throwback-Thursday post, this time with the theme of music and song. I grew up in an era when taking photographs at concerts was forbidden, so it felt odd to take out my phone and try and capture parts of a performance. It helps that my phone camera is too awful to make it worth my while to even try – except occasionally I can’t resist trying 🙂

1. Rush playing Losing It with Ben Mink. Fantastic show!

I’ve been a fan for over 35 years (!) and I hadn’t really appreciated that the R40 tour was going to be their last major tour until after I’d bought last-minute tickets. I was so glad that I did buy them as it was a superb show, though I wish I’d remembered ear plugs! Perhaps the highlight was the song “Losing It” from the Signals album, a song that almost always brings a lump to my throat anyway. But to hear it played live, with Ben Mink playing the violin as he does on the album… Well, I almost lost it!

2. I’ve wanted to take this picture for ages…

I've wanted to take this picture for ages… #rush #rushtheband #r40yvr

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

Any Rush fan will instantly understand this photo. I remember noticing this number on my first ever visit to Vancouver back in 2004 and I’ve wanted an excuse to photograph every since. I even thought I’d incorporate it into my photo-a-day project back in 2011, but I always found something else to photograph instead. Part of me has the idea of going round the city and photographing all of the street numbers equal to 2112. Part of me thinks that would be a silly waste of my time. And yet, that idea still keeps coming back to me…

3. An appointment with Mr Moore.

An appointment with Mr Moore #kebmo #vogue #voguetheatre #blues #Vancouver

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

This photo was taken the night we went to see one of our favourite blues artists, Keb’ Mo’. This concert was a bit of a let-down by comparison – it felt a little too laid back, almost to the point of feeling like the artists weren’t really trying hard enough. I dunno – maybe he was having an off night. Or maybe it was me.

4. Until tomorrow night – empty chairs after a great performance of Oliver.

When I realized just how bad my phone camera was I thought I’d be inspired to be more selective in composing photographs and that I’d try out more black and white where the awful colour rendition wouldn’t be noticed. That never really happened, but occasionally I see something that I think would work. The pleasing geometry of rows of white chairs on a dark night seemed to suit that quite well, and I like this shot. The black-and-white conversion has the added advantage of masking the general grubbiness of the chairs.

I’m not a fan of musicals, but this version of Oliver was excellent. Oh and we were told in no uncertain terms that photography was indeed forbidden for this performance, so I waited until the end to get my shot.

Advertisements

Happy day

Happy International Mountain Day! Mountains make me happy, and I suppose these mountains are international if you don’t live in Canada, so yeah – enjoy the day! I know that I certainly enjoyed this view of the Tantalus Range from Al’s Habrich Ridge trail 🏔🗻🌋

It always takes seeing other people’s photos on Instagram to remind me of International Mountain Day. It’s kinda hard to remember as there are so many international or nationals “days” dedicated to one thing or another. But I’ll happily celebrate this one as I’ve come to love the mountains for their aesthetics and wildness, and their ability to bring me perspective and peace.

This view of the Tantalus Range (from the south-east rather than the more common and visually stunning north-east angle) caught me by surprise as we walked back out of the trees onto the large granite bluffs along Al’s Habrich Ridge trail, the tree branch and the water-carved granite framing the peaks nicely against the perfect blue autumn sky. It was nice to have that as I find many photos of mountains tend to lose some of the grandeur without any surrounding context. To the eye, the mountains look stunning; yet once captured through a lens, that larger picture and sense of place is often lost.

I’ve learned this the hard way over many years of hiking and photographing the local mountains. I still take many a context-free mountain photo, but some peaks are too photogenic not to keep trying!

At last, a sunset!

It takes a good sunset to entice me to take its picture these days – or maybe it was just the novelty of actually seeing a sunset? Either way, I love the patterns on the underside of the clouds highlighted in pink.

I almost didn’t bother. I’ve been a bit out of sorts with photography lately, and just haven’t felt like picking up the camera or even looking through past photos (the gloomy weather may have had something to do with that). Yesterday we had a foggy walk along the seawall in English Bay and Stanley Park and I took the camera for the first time in a while; I even got a few photos I like (the highlight was the otter sighting). Earlier today I was doing some camera shopping in the hope of finding an upgrade to the DSLR I’ve been carrying since 2009. Perhaps between the two it gave me a bit more inspiration to look for photographs again. In any case I figured I had nothing to lose by taking this photo, so why not?

As I sized it up I immediately envisaged it working as a square crop which meant only one thing: after nearly a month, I finally felt like posting something on Instagram! I like the way the view is divided into four sections – the black horizon, the sunset glow, the lit clouds, and the blue sky above – even though they’re not equal, as well as the pattern of pink on the clouds. And I’m pretty sure I don’t have another sunset photo like this one, so I’m quite happy with it.

Highlights of a grey day

Today in Vancouver could not have been described as a nice day. And yet, looking back I realized there were still a number of moments that really stand out as worth noting. There are many who extol the virtue of expressing gratitude daily; I haven’t got to that point yet, but perhaps this is a good start. It’s just nice to remember the good things that happen, and the good things you’ve seen.

The first moment was just after sunrise: despite heavy cloud, the sun found the smallest of gaps to shine through and for just a minute or two, lit up a couple of small cotton-wool clouds in pink. As that faded, a partial rainbow appeared. Soon that too had faded away and the fullness of the grey took over.

The second was meeting and stopping to chat with a couple of friends at the Vancouver Farmers’ Market, always a good thing. Once we were back home the rain returned and we watched the mountains play peek-a-boo with the passing showers. It may have been grey, but it was a soft, pale shade, almost like a mist ebbing and flowing. A gentle rain, not like the downpour to come later.

In the afternoon we braved the rain and went for a walk along the beach between Spanish Banks and Jericho. As we passed in front of the Jericho Sailing Centre, the sea had a lovely hint of green as it washed up onto the wave-smoothed sand. Even the grey mountains looked a fine sight across the water, its surface dotted with goldeneye and roughed slightly by an easterly breeze.

Now for the standout highlight. As we walked back to the car, a pair of bald eagles flew overhead, scattering the beached seagulls into flight before flying out of sight and landing in a distant tree. As it happened, that tree was close to our car, which we’d parked next to Spanish Banks Creek. We were about to drive off when the pair dropped out of the tree and over the water in front of us, wheeling around and chasing one another. I ran down to the water’s edge where they were more or less overhead at times. A second pair joined in for a moment, though the two didn’t interact, as if they were separated by an invisible line that neither pair would cross. Perhaps the creek marked a territorial boundary. Perhaps there were salmon in the creek awaiting their talons (though we saw none). In any case I stood in awe watching these giant birds soar and swoop above me, the smaller male calling all the while. Our guess is that they were a courting pair, or at least reaffirming their partnership since they mate for life. Whatever it was, it was a joy to watch.

Eagle sightings are something I will always notice, especially as they form the backbone of what I call “BC Moments”, those times that really seem to sum up living here in BC most appropriately. The picture below wasn’t taken today (it’s from our Cape Scott backpacking trip in 2016), but I really felt like showing an eagle photo.

Experiment Bight, 6 Aug 2016

Musical hiking

The Musical Bumps is a hike near Whistler that doesn’t make it into many guide books, mostly because it starts in the ski area and requires payment of a (pretty substantial) fee to access it. However, while it is definitely best hiked from Whistler summit, it can be approached from a different angle for much less money. That route involves heading to Singing Pass and picking up the trail from there. But it makes for a long tough day, and so a popular option is to camp at Russet Lake for a night to split the journey into two parts.

We hiked up the long (but quite pleasant) trail with a group of friends, enjoyed a peaceful night of camping, and then followed the Musical Bumps trail (passing this pair of marmots along the way) to the Roundhouse on Whistler mountain, taking the gondola back down into the village. Why is it called the Musical Bumps? There’s a musical theme to the whole area with the trail crossing the gentle summits of Flute, Oboe, and Piccolo mountains, and passing through the Harmony Bowl. When started at Whistler summit, the path follows the High Note Trail, with an option to shorten the route with the Half-Note Trail.

For some reason, I posted the photos on Instagram in reverse order, in other words, most recent first. Here I’m listing them in the correct time order.

1. Approaching Russet Lake

After a long, long slog of 16 km and about 1500 metres of elevation gain, this is the most welcome sight in the world. Russet Lake sited in a shallow bowl beneath Fissile Peak with a superb view across the Fitzsimmons Creek valley to the mountains of the Spearhead Range. Alas, the sun went in more or less as soon as I decided to take this shot.

2. Evening light

Russet Lake is an alpine lake which makes it a great place to camp when the weather’s good. With superb views available nearby, it’s a superb place to take in the sunset (or sunrise). At the end of the day, the warm light from the setting sun makes the rusty colours of Fissile Peak look even redder. This was the only time I used an Instagram filter on one of my photos as the effect is really quite horrible. I reverted to using the manual editing features after that. Mind you, I’m torn as to whether it made the original photo any worse…

3. Black Tusk through a split boulder

As I’ve mentioned before, Black Tusk is one of the most distinctive and photogenic mountains around. The view from close to Whistler summit is perhaps the most dramatic with the peak viewed end-on, but it’s still pretty nice further along the Musical Bumps trail, especially when framed by a boulder that looks like it just fell apart. This shot is actually best captured with a phone or other compact camera; cameras with larger sensors (like dSLRs) will have a hard time keeping both the rock and Black Tusk in focus at the same time. Score one for phone cameras, even terrible ones!

Stormy

Stormy seas for wave-Wednesday, taken on Monday’s choppy crossing to Mayne Island.

The colour of the sea convinced me to leave the warm and dry passenger cabin for the open car deck on our crossing from Vancouver Island to Mayne Island, especially when the sky brightened and warmed from the dull stormy grey clouds that we set sail under.

I sized up and took a few photos. However, this one caught me by surprise. I actually pointed the camera along the side of the ferry to take it, and the shot was about 5-degrees off level since I was holding it at arm’s length and had no clue where the horizon was. But I instantly saw the wave leaving the ship defining a path, with another wave crossing it at the left of the image to add an even greater sense of movement. The bright sky above Prevost Island reflected beautifully in the water, but not so much as to reduce the depth of its colour.

A square crop suited it perfectly, getting rid of the ferry superstructure and – remarkably – placing the horizon on the upper third line. It’s not perfect – the light level was quite low, so the motion of the wave is blurred – but in this case I feel it only adds more dynamism. A partly accidental shot for sure, but one I’m really happy with.

The crossing itself was really not that bad as the ferry route is quite sheltered: the strongest winds blew up the open waters of the Strait of Georgia. Certainly nothing like as bad as some of the cross-channel sailings I’ve experienced between the UK and Europe…

About town

A few random-ish photos taken out and about in Vancouver for this week’s Flashback-Friday post. (I missed Throwback Thursday this week…)

1. Sometimes two U-locks are not enough

Sometimes two U-locks are not enough #bike #bicycle #oops #theft

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

Bike theft is very common in Vancouver. Not just whole bikes, though, but pretty much whatever can be taken away (a friend had their bell stolen – just the bell, for some reason…). Unfortunately, not every bike owner is aware of how make best use of their lock(s): locking the frame to the bike rack isn’t enough as it leaves the wheels exposed. What mystifies me about this bike is the second lock that is just locked around the frame – it’s not doing a thing to help prevent any part of the bike being stolen. I’ve seen lots of cases where a wheel has gone missing because the lock didn’t pass through it, which is why I often carry two locks: one to lock the frame and one wheel to the rack, the other to lock the second wheel to the frame. It’s not foolproof, and it’s a pain carrying two U-locks, but if it makes my bike look like too much hassle to pinch then it’s fine by me.

2. Crows

Crows #birds #crows #Vancouver

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

One of the notable features of Vancouver is its crow population. Every dusk they can be seen streaming east to a roost in Burnaby where hundreds if not thousands gather to spend the night. It’s quite the sight. Occasionally they fly right over our apartment, and I was glad to be able to get so many in the frame at once. It’s even more remarkable that the phone focussed on the moving birds…

3. Sun halo

Sun halo #sun #halo #atmosphericoptics

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

I always look up. Maybe it’s my training as an astronomer. Or maybe I became an astronomer because I always look up… On sunny days I always check to see if there’s a halo or a sun-dog near the sun. A good way to view a halo is to block out the sun using the corner of a building. In this case I was fortunate enough to have a small corner along an otherwise featureless edge of this building. The dark building and uniform blue sky actually make a nice abstract picture in themselves, but the corner jutting out into the frame really forced me to look for a way to make it into a feature. Tilting the camera (well, phone) gave me this interesting angle. Simple lines and plain colours. Works for me.

4. Vancouver on a sunny day

Vancouver on a sunny day #Vancouver #mountains #bluesky

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

Back in 2015, I was working in the Mt Pleasant area of the city and could just see Crown Mountain from my office. I can never resist a photo-op with Crown, and I walked up the steps of one building to catch this view over the flat-topped roofs across the road. With blue sky and lovely wispy clouds, the Google Photos HDR processing actually worked to make this phone pic worth posting.