Siberia, Russia In Summer
Brrr! Blizzards remind us of Siberia, leaving our predisposed notion of what freezer-frigid places are like and the two words, blizzard and Siberia, cuddled up well together.
It is hard to conceptualize Siberia with almost the opposite but in Asian Russia summer is more likely a chemistry of humidity from downpours, the thermometer entertaining over thirty Celsius, and the occasional temporary flooding everywhere. What would be the agenda in Ulan Ude, Siberia, the first major pit-stop northwest into Russia from Mongolia, on such a day? Never mind the mandatory umbrella and puddle jumping. Permeating the air is the smell of ageing architecture saturated with moisture overload and fireplaces burning to take away the dampness, setting the stage for an architectural tour. So don the best cover you have (not from the cold but from the wet) and enter the world of century old crumbling facades, reflections and water-intensified colours. You will remain primarily unnoticed, meandering the back streets capturing moments in time, all of the locals are just trying to keep dry.
From Eureka to Defining Moments (with macro photography)
Eureka moments happen often enough but not so for Defining moments.
Sometimes a Eureka moment strikes as events unfold before you. The rapidly changing and dramatic sunset colours have the prepared, latched to a camera, hoping for one outstanding image in the pack. Landscape photographers give themselves the old high five, as one more impressive sunset folds into darkness, handily captured in their boxes. Sometimes you know you hit the H*** S*** button when you check your camera back and zoom in for detail. “That old geezers discerning eye is in focus, hurrah!” More often than not, it is when, cozied up at home, you perceive images on the big screen with all their glory, surrounded by reams of software bells and whistles, clicking and sliding and zooming until one jumps out and you “Eureka” yourself into a frenzy yelping “Bagged a winner!” to Fido (who is definitely not amused).
With macro photography, an image, combining soft, supportive background elements and a complementary mini world, does not usually warrant a heartfelt “Eureka” outburst until this latter stage. You just can’t tell what that bokeh stuff is doing, lurking around in the carefully selected but shifty depth of field. Is it too much, is it too little? At the same time, fear presides over that testy front subject; such a thin slice in focus, suppresses an otherwise joyous eruption. Alas, it just might not be dead sharp in all of the critical areas.
Luckily, on first observation of this image, I discovered in a small world, intriguingly upside down and perfectly in focus, and the background complemented in tone and colour spread, prickly stems contrasting with painterly blends, and thus, a long forgotten Eureka reaction. However, it was a realization that elevated it from the Eureka standard up to a Defining moment. I had just returned from a once in a lifetime Tanzania safari, the type of trip that has you graduating from irrationally shooting everything the first few days to much wiser selective clicking. Shooting elephants and lions and zebras and warthogs daily takes its toll and there is some relief with safari ending and tired trigger fingers taper off into relaxed mode. Ho Hum to the Big Five, give me a new animal to shoot! A snake, maybe… The first morning back home in Canada, jetlagged, I lingered in my garden, fuzzy borage everywhere dripping with droplets recently soaked by an early morning shower, inhaling the freshness that only comes from a recent downpour on the foothills, pondering the goodness a Canadian summer morning offers. I stood surrounded in a haze of sparkling, intriguing water droplets, their magic reinforcing “there is no place like home” yet weary from travel, especially punching the shutter. With hesitation, but newly inspired by what was calling attention and curious as to what could become of it, I grabbed the magic box and sticks and my trusty canine and headed out on my own safari in the backyard.
How does a Eureka moment slide up into a Defining moment? Perhaps, when an image gives you insight into your emotions and subtly teaches you a truth if you are willing to observe. Images await everywhere, you just need to explore with purposeful determination, ever mindful, and, often you don’t have to venture far from the familiar on your own doorstep.
Cycling Craze For The Montreal Maze
A few years ago Montreal made a transportation decision that has the two-wheeled crowd (and modifications thereof) exalted with ambulatory excitement. After all, if 499 other world cities are doing it, there must be something to this human-powered frenzy. http://www.economist.com/news/international/21587826-sharing-two-wheels-becoming-ever-more-popular-taking-stabilisers?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/pe/takingoffthestabilisers
Cycle paths and separate lanes encourage Montreal’s citizens and visitors to get mobile on pedal power leaving fossil fuels coughing from their exhaust. Today it is not that difficult, in the fiercest of Montreal traffic jams, to drift by packed gridlock to the beat of a different transportation drum. All hail that modern invention, the bicycle, for keeping roads less congested and Montreal folks breathing easier. Montreal cyclists have moved back to the bicycle to negotiate their transportation needs beyond just a stroll in the park; with downtown hi-rise attire, babies in tow, baskets brimming with student workload, shopping gear readied, cyclists fan out to navigate the city and get on with their daily lives, crossing de Maisonneuve, down Parc du Mont-Royal, through Rachel Avenue and along Lachine Canal. The ability to traverse in most directions by bicycle awaits those confident enough that pedal-driven mode can handle the transportation challenges of this four hundred year old city. Tidal waves of wheels maneuver the maze of Montreal’s streets, their rhythmical patterns swirling and sweeping, ebbing and easing around pedestrians and vehicular obstacles, obediently managing their own rules of the road, most of which are unwritten. You don’t have access to your own two-wheeled wonder? No need to despair, the Bixi alternative, https://montreal.bixi.com/, lined up on convenient street corners, are tuned up for the taking. You will be amazed at the accessibility and independence Montreal’s cycle trails offer so hop on and take a spin around the block or the neighbourhood or almost anywhere in the entire city of Montreal.
For more on cycling cities see: http://heathersimondsphotography.com/2012/08/14/coping-with-copenhagen/