Friday, December 30, 2016

Farewell 2016...and to Barcelona

We've been very lucky to have traveled to many great places in the last few years; London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Cairo, Prague, Milan...the list is long.  Barcelona is at the top of the list however; whatever could be desired from a vacation destination Barcelona can deliver.  Beach holiday?  Check.  Shopping? Check.  Restaurants?  Museums and Galleries?  History?  Ease of access and public transit?  Barcelona pretty much offers it all.

To close our 2016 and this short series of photos from this trip I offer this roof top photo of Gaudi's Casa Mila with Sagrada Familia in the distance.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Nativity Facade - Sagrada Familia

This detail photo of the Nativity Facade on Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona features the three wise men carved in stone.  They are depicted with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the new born King.  We all know what gold is but what about the other two things?

Myrrh is a natural gum-like resin from the Commiphora Myrrha tree.  It was used as a perfume and because it was thought to have an intoxicating effect it was also used medicinally.  Frankincense is also a sap like substance taken from the Boswellia Sacra tree.  Like myrrh. it was used in perfumes it was also as incense.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Urban Abstracts

At the end of trip I always seem to have this weird collection of photos that aren't really 'of' anything in particular.  Sometimes they are of more industrial objects (I have some great black and white close ups of an old locomotive in Milan a few years ago of anyone is interested...)or just simple details taken in the street - like this photo taken somewhere in Barcelona.  I like everything about it - the strong but subtle rectilinear forms, the texture and the colours.

Friday, December 9, 2016

El Cap de Barcelona

Public art is almost always controversial - opinions seem to range from 'it's all a huge waste of money' to 'I can't get enough of it' with stops such as 'I don't get it' and 'It looks like a (fill in the blank)' along the way.

This pop art sculpture by American artist Roy Lichtenstein was commissioned for the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.  It is titled 'El Cap de Barcelona'; in English 'The Head of Barcelona'.  If you look closely you'll see an interpretation of a female face.  The sculpture seems to pay homage to the images of Picasso and to the mosaic techniques employed by architect Antonio Gaudi; both of whom lived and worked in Barcelona.  The sculpture is right along the waterfront where the long street Via Laietana terminates and stands as a bright, iconic, whimsical and majestic element.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Barcelona Pavilion

The other day I got involved in a discussion about the virtues of Mies van der Rohe's concept of 'Less is More'; an often heard expression that outside of the architectural community is seldom attributed to the German architect who first uttered the words.  For this reason I decided to post this photo of the Barcelona Pavilion; the very essence of less is more.  Perfect proportion, perfect detailing, exquisite use of materials and completely stripped of all unnecessary embellishment or decoration.

I created this photo using one of the black and white settings on my iPhone using the Hipstamatic app.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Barcelona Pavilion

A few weeks ago on Facebook I observed that over the last few years I've been lucky enough to see several of the world's great architectural gems.  This ranks up there with the best, German/American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion.

Designed for the 1929 International Exposition this iconic structure features marble, onyx and travertine extensively.  It's a very open and perfectly proportioned structure - being there one has a feeling of perfect order and calmness.  Interestingly, there are no light fixtures, fire extinguishers, exit signs, thermostats or other 'architectural acne' on any wall surfaces.  There is no need for any artwork because the building is work of art in itself.  It's a simple and quite perfect building.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Barcelona in the Afternoon

I really don't have much to say about this photo; we'd stopped for drinks in the later afternoon and I noticed this young lad practicing his ball control by weaving in and out of this portico.  He looks to be around 5 years old so If I'm right he should be ready for the Spanish World Cup team in 2030.  He already has the jersey.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day

I took this photo in the summer of 2013 at the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London. The memoral was built to commemorate the sacrifice of the 66,573 aircrew from Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other parts of the Commonwealth.  The memorial was dedicated on 2012 June 28 be Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations.

Wikipedia has this to say about the memorial:

Aluminium from a Royal Canadian Air Force Handley Page Halifax of No. 426 Squadron that had crashed in Belgium in May 1944 was used to build the roof of the memorial, which was designed to evoke the geodetic structure of the Vickers Wellington. The Halifax, LW682 OW/M, had been removed from a swamp in 1997 with three of the crew found still at their posts. They were buried with full military honours in Geraardsbergen and the remains of the aircraft were sent to Canada. Some of the metal was used for the restoration of a Halifax in Trenton, Ontario, and the rest was melted down by the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta. The Museum provided ingots for the memorial to commemorate the 10,659 of 55,573 Bomber Command aircrew killed during the war that were Canadian

Although we visited in summertime many months before Remembrance Day and not at a time when any official events were being held the memorial was strewn with poppies and cards of thanks.  Stirring stuff.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art was designed by American architect Richard Meier and was completed in 1995.  The museum itself is a piece of art and features strong, simple forms clad in white both inside and out. The floors are black granite but apart from that the only colour comes from the artwork and the views to the outside.  I am pretty open minded when it comes to art but I was not that overwhelmed by what was on display within the museum when we visited but I was quite happy to stare at the building; I think it's stunning.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Things You See on Holiday

Taking a little time out to watch the world go by is something I seldom get a chance to do at home so I take full advantage when on holiday.  Seems the weirdest stuff is near the beach - as in this case.  Not sure if the fun was ending or starting but either way that inflatable fella is going to have to pay full fair on the city bus.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sagrada Familia

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Fa; more commonly known as simply Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family) ranks up there as one of the worlds greatest and most baffling buildings.  Located in Barcelona, construction began in 1882 and progress has been a little slow.  It is a vast and highly decorative place recognized by UNESCO has a World Heritage Site.  While statistically impressive (170 metres tall, 18 spires and capacity for 9000 people) the building itself is almost impossible to describe.  It is highly decorative and in no way traditional compared to other European religious buildings.

Although widely heralded as the architect of Sagrada Familai, Antoni Gaudi was not involved from the beginning.  He took over one year after construction started.  Construction is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a fantastic place where hours and hours can be spent.  Thee has been a Market on this site since the 7th century when the land was mostly agricultural.  By the 18th century Covent Garden was an open air fruit and vegetable market that was surrounded by taverns, brothels and other nasty establishments.  It was a very seedy place that required an Act of Parliament to correct.  The market was relocated and several new buildings were erected to give the market defined spaces.  The Royal Opera House, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the London Transport museum are located at Covent Garden.

Friday, October 7, 2016

London 2012

This isn't that remarkable a photograph but there's something to take note of here.  It was taken at Greenwich, a 45 minute cruise along the Thames from central London - that's the Royal Observatory on the extreme mid right.  This broad expanse of parkland was the scene of the equestrian events at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  There had been a good deal of concern with using this cherished public park for an event that detractors felt would leave a permanent blemish.  Organizers provided assurances that the park would be left as it was or in better condition than before - clearly they were true to their word.

Canon G1X Mark II image; 1/125 sec at F/11.  ISO 100.  Minor adjustments in Photoshop.

Friday, September 30, 2016

An Art Loving Falcon

Hawkforce is a UK company specializing in training birds or prey for all sorts of things.  This handler and his falcon (I think that's a falcon) have arrived in the plaza area in front of the Royal Academy or Art in London.  Pigeons and other birds nest in the various nooks and crannies of the fine old buildings around the plaza and the by-products leave a big stinky mess all over.  The falcon will be released to circle around the plaza for an hour or so scaring off the other birds.  The falcon doesn't attack or kill them, he/she just frightens them off.  It's a safe and environmentally sound way of dealing with nuisance birds.

Friday, September 23, 2016

London Doorways

There's more than meets the eye in this photograph - all of it told to me by an expert London guide.  The location is an elegant street just north of St. James Palace and east of Green Park.  The doorway dates from an era where houses had no number assigned; rather, the occupants stationery would feature an image of the fan light above the door - every house on the street would feature a unique fan light.  The doorway itself would have been the full width of the opening - no narrow side lights (the white bit either side).  This was to accommodate the hoop skirts worn at the time.  The wide door was a problem because they were poorly fitted and therefore drafty.  When the hoop skirt went out of fashion the tight-fitting wide doors were done away with soon after.

The lanterns either side of the entrance had to be lit by hand and a lamplighter would be assigned this duty.  When the occupants of the house were out in the evening the lamplighter would go on ahead of them for the return trip to light the lamps.  Then he would extinguish his torch by inserting it into one of the blue iron 'flutes' either side of the path.

And you thought it was just a picture of a blue door.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark is a British Tea clipper ship now permanently housed at Greenwich, (London) England.  She was 'laid down' on the River Clyde (Glasgow) in February 1869 and was launched in November of that year.  She was obsolete almost immediately by the advent of steam powered ships.

Just like today, speed is everything when goods are to be shipped and Cutty Sark was a very fast ship.  Her name comes from that of witch Nannie Dee in Robert Burns poem 'Tam O'Shanter'.  Sark is an old Scots word for a linen under garment and Cutty simply means that it is too short.  The bow of Cutty Sark features a figurehead of a Nannie Dee clutching a piece of horse hair.  In the poem, the sight of Nannie Dee dancing in her short under garment prompted Tam to shout 'Well Done Cutty Sark!'

In this photo, Nannie Dee is getting a fresh coat of paint on a warm English afternoon.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Borough Market

One of our favourite stops in London is Borough Market.  It is open every day but early in the week there are fewer vendors on site; the number increases as the weekend draws near.  Nonetheless a visit anytime is worthwhile.  There are numerous food stalls and many options for in formal eating.  Borough Market is mostly open air but it's covered so even in dodgy weather spending time there is always fun.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Recent Projects

This housing development in Jasper Alberta was a challenge to photograph.  Firstly there's the distance involved (a four hour drive each way).  Then there's the weather - which can me unpredictable in the mountains.  Then there's the buildings themselves  - take a look around any multi-family residential complex and you will see a variety of approaches to building and garden maintenance plus articles stored on balconies, driveways or sometimes just strewn about. Vehicles in driveways or parked on the street can really detract from the intended subject of the photograph.  This photo was commissioned by the architects.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Recent Projects

Here's a follow on to last weeks post featuring a common area at the NAIT Centre for Applied Technology.  Scenes where there are multiple light sources (daylight, LED fluorescent etc) are a challenge as the colour temperature varies widely. Accounting for the daylight coming in from the windows and the deep shadows in some areas and a big effort is needed to get an image that looks properly exposed from margin to margin and natural.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Recent Projects

This is the newly completed Centre for Applied Technology and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.  Things have come a long way since my days at NAIT (Arch Tech '78)!

Canon 1Ds with Canon 24mm TSE lens.  Camera support via Gitzo Explorer Tri-pod with head and camera bracket by Really Right Stuff.  This is a composite photo made from four images; only the focal length (f/14) is static.  RAW File editing done in Adobe Lightroom with JPEG images merged in Photoshop CS6.  Black and white conversion done using Oloneo Photo Engine.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Recent Projects

This recently opened seniors/assisted living residence was photographed for the architects.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dayllilies in Summer

Summer time means - among other things - daylilies.  They're a ubiquitous perennial of the genus Hemerocallis.  There are thousands of cultivars our there but the standard yellow/orange is robust, low maintenance and disease free.  The blossoms last a predictable 24 hours with new blossom appearing on the same scape (stock) the next day.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mountain Parks Details

There's a spot in Jasper National Park that has some special meaning to my family.  I had a chance to stop by recently and I took this photo with my iPhone.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hidden Gems

Most cities have a hidden gem in the form of a downtown park;  this one is in downtown Edmonton at ATB Plaza.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Big Prairie Skies

Several years ago I was introduced to the work of an artist from Saskatchewan who has produced many paintings featuring dramatic and expansive prairie skies - other things too but it is these sky paintings that first appealed to me.   He renders them in an almost three dimensional and outrageous way that features over-the-top colour with oozing paint that seems to be sculpted onto the canvas.  They are utterly fantastic and I often think of these paintings when I see the clouds rolling in.   For this weeks post I went to the archives to see if I had something that speaks to this whimsical and dramatic way of looking at the skies that we prairie folk know all too well.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Recent Projects

Endress + Hauser are Swiss company specializing in control systems for industry.  This is their new building in south Edmonton.  One or two people assumed the sky in this photo is faked, but it is not; it is the result of careful timing and a bit of good fortune.

Friday, July 1, 2016

An Unannounced Guest

This bird has moved into a hanging basket near our kitchen door.  We're doing our best to get along but we do startle one another often.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Expect the Unexpected

An interior space that I photographed recently included a small theatre and this prop was in the corridor as I went in - not what I expected to see at all.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Strange Stuff in the Aftermath

If you venture off the usual footpath you'll find some strange stuff.  On mothers day weekend there was a grass fire near our local off leash park.  It came very close to some houses and if allowed to burn a few minutes longer it would have wiped out a grove of Saskatoons that the dogs and I always stop at in August when the berries are ripe.

I went in to investigate the remains just a few days ago and came across these old cooking vessels and the remains of what might have been a soup can - all stacked neatly as you see them here.  Who know how long they had been in the bush and tall grass - could be decades - and why they were there at all.  t could be that someone had set up camp and when they moved on these were left behind.  Anyway, the geometry appealed to me and thus this picture was taken.  Because it had been raining the image had a lot of contrast without my doing anything to the photo by way of editing; this images was created using my favourite iPhone app; the amazing Hipstamatic.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Help Is On the Way

Some buildings require a little help photographically and this is one of them.  The building is a tire warehouse in an industrial park and in frank terns there's not much to the building itself.  There is some landscaping but it is all well away from the building itself.  The building is grey and has no formal entrance or other features.  When I first arrived on site I thought 'what am I going to do with this?'  It took a lot of patience and a couple of trips to site but I'm pleased with the results.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sea Buckthorn?

I think this is Sea Buckthorn which is a non indigenous species to a Edmonton.  Years ago there was a greenhouse near where this was taken and I think this is left behind from those days.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Strange Overtones

I took this photo on a demolition site a week ago.  In my mind this twisted pile of steel studs was going to be a high contrast black and white image but when looked at it afterward I realized that there actually a lot of subtle colour in play.  All I did was increase the saturation a little to make this image.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Prince of Wales Armouries

Completed in 1915 the Prince of Wales Armouries was originally known as the Edmonton Drill Hall and was a training centre for the Department of National Defence until 1977.  The building was given the name Prince of Wales Armouries in 1921 and in 1982 ownership was transferred to the City of Edmonton.  It has served a variety of organization over the years and is currently the home of the City of Edmonton Archives.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Virtues of the Last Minute

Most of the time, getting organized to take interior photos takes more time than the on site photography itself.  When a client asks for a rapid turn around on completing an assignment I usually think it'll be impossible because there are just too many things to organize and other people that have to cooperate.  Such was the case with this assignment.  I had just two days to organize the photography of this restaurant which is a two hour drive from home.  The owner was very obliging and I was allowed in about 40 minutes before they opened the doors for the lunch rush.  The request for photos came to me on a Thursday afternoon.  The photos were completed the following Saturday morning and the finished package was sent to the client by midnight Sunday.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Not The Valley Zoo I Remember

Here's another photo from my recent assignment at the Valley Zoo in Edmonton.  This concrete sturgeon is in the admissions-paid plaza area.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Not the Valley Zoo I Remember

When I was a kid the zoo in Edmonton was known as the Storyland Valley Zoo.  It was a product of a different era and in addition to the expected animals there was a make believe aspect to the place with lots of artificial life forms from story books etc - 'three men in a tub' comes to mind; a likeness of the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker carefully balanced in a small tub that was permanently anchored in a pond.  And the little train that ran around the place - unforgettable but not really very zoo-like by today's standard.

The 'Storyland' aspect disappeared long ago and the Valley Zoo has undergone a transformation that continues.  The makers of some of the newer elements commissioned a series of photos recently - this is one of my favourites.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Downtown Office Lobby

The tower above was built in the 1970s but the renewed main floor lobby was completed in the fall of 2015.  Photographed for the architect/interior designer.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Signs of the Zodiac Under Foot

When the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium opened the plaza to the west of it was adorned with the signs of the zodiac embedded in the concrete.  The graphics are a little worse for wear these days but they look kind of cool none the less.  Being born under the sign of the crab I picked 'cancer' to present here.

iPhone Hipstamatic image....

Friday, April 8, 2016

Baker Clinic 1953

The Baker Clinic in downtown Edmonton was constructed in stages.  Phase One was designed in 1953 and was a single storey brick clad structure designed as a health care clinic.  In 1959 a 3 storey addition was incorporated.  The building was designed by Dewar Stevenson Architects.  The first phase was constructed by Mill and Olson and the 1959 addition was built by Poole Construction - now PCL.

The original owners moved to larger premises years ago and the building is now home to a social support agency.  Apart from this mural, the old Baker Clinic building hasn't changed much over the years.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Northwestern Utilities Building

Now known as the Milner Building, the Northwestern Utilities Building bears an 'official' completion date of 1957.  It was designed by the Edmonton firm of Rule Wynn and Rule (now part of Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd) and was constructed by Christensen and MacDonald.  It was a truly innovative building both in design (an example of the International Style inspired by Le Corbusier but also technically being one of the first buildings to use rigid foam insulation and to feature and automatic sprinkler fire suppression system.  It was the tallest building in Edmonton at the time it was completed.

Friday, March 25, 2016

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church in downtown Edmonton was constructed in 1911.  The mottled  effect of this photo of one of the north main floor windows comes from the reflections of a neighbouring office towers

Friday, March 18, 2016

Black and White in the Street

I've just recently started to build up a collection of images taken in the central part of Edmonton.  The collection will define itself and the parameters will evolve as I go along; at least that's the plan.  This photo was taken about a week ago.  The building itself is nothing special but the lattice work on the front of it is quite compelling.

Canon EOS 1Dx with Canon 24mm TSE lens.  F/11 @ 1/100 sec.  Black and White Conversion made with NIK Silver Efex Pro software.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Springtime in Edmonton

I took this photo with the iPhone Hipstamatic App.  It was taken in our local off leash park and is taken from a height of about 20" over a pond that had a thin layer of ice on it.  Small bubbles were caught in the ice as it froze.  The ice is quite fragile causing me to work fast as a certain spaniel was frolicking about and I wanted to get the shot before he stomped through the picture space.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Springtime in Edmonton

At this time of year there's all sorts of cool stuff underfoot.  Snow melts and forms puddles that get a layer of ice over top that cracks as people - or in this case a certain spaniel - stop on it.  The grass frozen in the water below makes for a nice addition to this abstract photo.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Industrial Black and White

The interiors of industrial spaces always have a grand cathedral feel to them, at least to my eye.  As soon as I walked into this building I had this sort of photo in mind. This is a truck wash attached to a heavy equipment maintenance garage.  The wet floor adds to the overall effect, particularly in black and white.  I gave the client a glossy print of this shot which looked particularly good, even if I do say so myself!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Water Colour Paintings

This is one of a series of photos I took for a friend who has a considerable collection of such paintings.  The photos were taken for his website.  Each is a water colour about 20" wide.  Water colours are a little tricky because the colours tend to look a little washed out.  I find having the original painting to reference during the editing stage essential to getting the white balance and colour saturation aligned to match the original.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Windows of the World Collection

I have a vast collection of photos of windows and doors from all over the world.  This one was taken in Lisbon in August 2010.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Ming's Barber Shop

It's hard to say if Ming's Barber Shop is still a going concern; the rest of the building and the area around it is quite derelict.  I quite like the geometric patterns at work here and the straight on aspect of the photo is something a gravitate to; probably as a result of my years drawing building elevations in 2 dimensions.

Friday, January 29, 2016

New Industrial Abstracts

I have a lot of industrial abstract and urban grunge photos in my collection - this is one of the newest.  I could tell you what this is but that would take all the fun out of it, don't you think?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Residential Interiors

This is one of a series of photographs taken of an architect's house in Edmonton.  The photos will be used to support an entry in a design competition.