Riding the Rocket

"Riding the Rocket" is probably the easiest way to get around Toronto, once you have overcome the usual barriers to access that are thrown in the face of tourist transit users everywhere. When I first went to Tokyo (which made it easy for us gaijin) a colleague dragged me out of the hotel  to learn the Tokyo subway system. His thing was that if you can figure this the subway systems as soon as possible, no matter where you are, you are independent and won't get extorted by cab drivers. I don't know if the fact that he was Parisian had anything to with it, but going subway navigating is one of the first things I do when I get to a metropolis.

Sitting in a subway car can be a fascinating source of images but most subways have admonitions about photographing on their property. Camera phones have improved to the point now that you don't need to hide a bulky camera underneath an overcoat with a remote release like Walker Evans did. You just look intently as if you are reading a Facebork post and click, there you are. Now, I'm no Walker Evans; I did have a lot fun making these images though.

I've really come to like Camera+ on my iPhone. I've been using since I got my first iPhone three years ago: exposure compensation, movable focus and exposure points, great built-in post processing. It's my go-to app and the reason why I didn't switch to Android when I had to renew my cellphone.

Riding the Bloor-Danforth line the cars lined up and framed in a window was this young woman in intent conversation.
Passing Conversation
I've got this thing for a band called "The Shuffle Demons". So, of course while I was in Toronto I did walk along Spadina Avenue, looking for Bus 77B on the TTC. Never did find it. I did however "get confirmation of my information about my transportation to Spadina Station".
Spadina Station
One trick I used was to place the camera up against the window and click as the station pulled into or out of a station.
Waiting for the Rocket
Ghost In the Machine
I don't think this image would have even worked with anything but a phone camera. This is the operator's ready room at Eglinton Station. There was a screw up (according to the drivers) and the conversations where getting fairly heated. The supervisor (with the white cap) was going toe to toe with a driver and a shop steward, while the other drivers where waiting to see how things would turn out, lobbing the occasional mortar round at the other supervisor.
Union Meeting
You could ride the Rocket for days and never run out of material; you slice through a city from one end to another and get a real sense of the rhythm of the place. Next time more time to be spent on the street cars, and dammit, I will ride on the 77B of the TTC!

People Come, People Go

One thing that is a certainty in the aviation business, especially a charter operation, is that pilots will always move on. Usually it's because they're chasing bigger, faster aircraft with the hope of ending up at a mainline carrier.

I seldom "play requests" as I shoot for myself but one of our pilots is leaving to fly a 737 after several years at North Cariboo and he asked me to make a few images next to the aircraft he flew while he was here. He was a close a friend as you can get in this gypsy industry so I said sure.

I shot the usual but as we were finishing up he walked over to get the prop ties and engine plugs. I turned and saw him walking into the sun. One shot was all I had.

See ya buddy. It was a delight working with you. Hope to work with you again.


Conversation and Communion

Granville Street February
I was in Vancouver earlier this year for a break from the "maximum effort" flying that is so common for our charter operation during the winter. A typical Vancouver February: watery sun, flat light and on my last full day, fog, misty rain and a cloud deck that aviators would call VV001. 
I grew up in many places in British Columbia, but Vancouver was one like a perihelion for my family's orbit around the province as the government of the time was pulling the transportation infrastructure into the twentieth century. Every city has a DNA and no matter what sort of urban renewal happens, if you scratch deep enough you'll find it. When I get into Vancouver I still feel, like Commander Vimes, the cobbles through the soles of my shoes even if where the Cafe Heidelberg once was there no stands a glitzy temple to trendy fashions. 

Evenings in Vancouver are special, no matter what time of year. The streets always have something going on - unlike Calgary where it's a stampede out of the city to the suburbs leaving the hivemind empty save for the immigrant cleaners tidying up after a day’s hard free enterprise. Just standing on a corner gives you boatloads of ideas and images.

While I was out walking a small idea for a project started to glimmer in my mind; I noticed that everywhere people were huddled close together in conversation over food. In groups of two, three and more people laughed, flirted, argued, wept.
Don't Cook - Just Eat

Diner Date


Looking at the take from the two evenings I saw something else. The interaction between the service people and food truck operators was a similar to the interaction between priest and communicant. Makes sense, Communion does commerate a meal.

Waiting for the Host

Of course, not all the priests had communicants. Like one of Pratchett's Small Gods they had few if any adherents, no matter how inviting the chapel
Hot Dog

Pizza, Lasagna, Poutine

And some were excommunicated or never had a small god. Wandering Vancouver's East Side this fellow stopped me. He had an interesting story and we shared a conversation; he gave me two cartoons he had sketched and I gave him some money for a coffee.
Itinerant Cartoonist

Techincal Notes

The usual rig (not that it really matters but some people care): Lieca M-E (Biogon 35/'Cron 50), EP-2 (Olympus 45). All with my usual workflow: Raw conversion and exposure correction in Lightroom, noise reduction and sharpening with NIK and final post with NIK (Viveza/Silver Efex).