After a wee hiatus I’m back with my biggest – by the numbers of pictures, not time allotted – and with what many may say is also my least interesting project yet.
For all you boaters out there today is your lucky day, as I present to you the first ever complete 360˚ tour of each and every lock-station along the Trent-Severn Waterway.
After doing the Rideau Canal last summer and having it turn out as well as it did I decided to keep the wheels spinning and add another of Ontario’s great waterway to the list.
While the Trent-Severn isn’t the UNESCO World Heritage Site its older brother the Rideau is, it is a National Historic Site of Canada, it is really near where I live, it is home to the the world’s highest set of lift locks and it winds its way through a really pretty part of the globe. So I thought I’ give it a try.
The waterway is an ancient 400 km long link between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron (Georgian Bay) used for centuries by Canada’s indigenous people. They showed the passage to the early European explorers and traders and today’s Trent-Severn was constructed between 1833 and 1920.
Initially the hope was to open up Central Ontario to commerce and to be able to navigate freight around Niagara Falls. Unfortunately never it really worked since the railway moved in and the Welland Canal was opened in 1932 offering larger ships a quicker route to pass through. So almost immediatly after its completion the Trent-Severn quickly became a tourist destination rather than a commercial route.
I photographed it because I just find these things so perfect for 360-type photography and because they are a challenge to shoot. These canals are our pyramids and they are a perfect example of a monumental construction project designed in perfect balance with nature.
The shooting took place over 5 days in late September 2015, and the weather was awesome throughout. Access to the locks was almost completely drive-in, but for a few access involved renting boats, hiking in and convincing construction crews that I wouldn’t get killed if allowed onto their sites. Because it was shot after the summer season had ended there were almost no boaters but it turned out kind of peaceful and dreamlike this way, so I don’t mind.
For the most part these canals are the opposite of what we are told is cool or interesting. They are generally boring places to look at with little action, but wonderful to hang out at. I find that the final project and the canals themselves have a nice combination of stillness and energy. The point of the project is more about capturing the life along the canal and the geography than the locks or the technical parts of the canal.
Finally, this project so many of the bigger ones I’ve done would never have happened without my executive producers Walter and Ineke. Helping out, guiding me along and allowing me to just take some pictures. Thanks guys. Also a big thanks to Tamarack Park in Port Severn for getting me out to Swift Rapids Locks. The project would never have felt right to me if I’d missed even one set of locks and if they hadn’t stepped up and helped out that would have been the case. They are great folks who know and love the area support them when you can.
2015 has been a remarkable photographic year for me and I hope that 2016 is even better. I don’t think we’ll talk again before the new year, so Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to all!
I’m hoping to take things in a somewhat different direction in 2016 so stay tuned, thanks for looking and see you soon.
Dan (Dec. 2015).
Hello all and happy belated (Canadian) Thanksgiving,
Lots going on up here in the Great White North these days, but mostly there is a federal election happening. That’s right, we’re hiring. One Prime Minister wanted.
So in honour of this wonderful even I thought I’d give you some photos of democracy in action…Canadian style. Today I present to you Canada’s Parliament Buildings.
I’ve actually wanted to do this for a few years, but because the entire area has been under construction for years and this was the first summer that the lawn-side faces of all three buildings have been free from scaffolding, I got to it.
For the most part it is just a quick wander through the grounds, so people could have a bit of an idea what it is like here. Parliament Hill is the star attraction of Ottawa and obviously of the country’s political life.
With so few remarkable structures in this town this is our pride and joy. And I have a real fondness for this place, not mushy or irrationally based on any type of nationalistic fervor, just a quiet pride. This is our city’s Eiffel Tower, our Colosseum, our Empire State Building our defining landmark. It kind of sets the tone for the whole city, it is quiet, solid, understated and beautiful.
Much of the Parliamentary Precinct – and the entire city – is under construction these days in preparation for the 150th birthday party of Canada 2017 as Ottawa will be where the action is. I believe that all exterior work the the Parliament Buildings should be completed before 2017, although the entire project will go on for a decade longer.
As for the shooting, I wanted perfect weather, big puffy clouds and lots of people. I want to show viewers what a typical summer day is like on the hill. I would have liked to get this done a few years earlier before the place was as fortress-like as it is today, many of the bollards were only put in in the last few years.
On that note I’ll say thanks for looking and well see you in a while,
Dan (Oct. 2015).
After a short time off, I’m back and I bring much photo coolness today.
I have one last batch of Italian photos for you, but since even I was getting sick of Italy I decided to wrap them up in nice warm blanket of Canadiana. This is something I’ve wanted to get done for a while now, so I hunkered down and created a new section on the site with a lot of my patented day/night panos.
I have to admit that I really like making these things. I’ve always had a thing for nighttime photography and all the mysteriousness that comes out to play when the sun goes down. But I’ve always disliked the washed out orange look and the lack of real colours, particularly when shooting buildings or sculptures that have to be shown in their natural splendor. Doing these things solves that problem and allows me to give the viewer both at once.
While I already had a few of the Ottawa panos (shot in 2011) up I’ve added Montreal (shot in 2013), Toronto (shot in 2014) and Italy (shot in 2015). Putting them together and is a time consuming thing so they’ve been stewing in the hard drives but I finally got to them and present them to you.
So enjoy, thanks for looking and have a great week,
Dan (Oct. 2015).
I’m back, but the weather is too nice here these days to talk for long. So here are yet more photos from the lovely and talented Italy.
Thanks for looking and have a great week,
Dan (Sept. 2015).
Not much to chat about today, so I’ll leave you with the pics. While in Italy I managed to get to Milan and Napoli. Both were fun and enjoyable, but I still liked Rome best.
Take care thanks for looking and have a great week,
Dan (Sept. 2015)
Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti – Rome
Hey guys, welcome back.
Today we’re going to stay in Rome and have a look at yet another of the cool public spaces it offers. Today we have the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti – better know as The Spanish Steps.
From the first day they opened they have been a much loved site. They are now the backdrop for countless films, paintings, fashion shoots, family vacation pictures and a perfect place to just hang out for a while.
Built between 1723-25, originally they were needed to replace a steep and dangerous cow path running up the hill from what were then the Embassy of France (above) and the Embassy of Spain (below). While today’s final product may look simple it took nearly 100 years of discussion to solve the unique political and design problems the project presented.
What the designers finally came up with is an elegant solution. The steps are low and wide, easy to climb and perfect for sitting. They are simple and free of any real ornamentation. The different tiers also allow climbers to stop, rest and take in the surroundings and remains today the longest and widest staircase in Europe.
While not immediately obvious, asymmetry is the order of the day. Slightly angled, no part of the squares or the steps are lined up quite they way one would expect giving the exprience a dynamism that unbalance the visitor in an exciting way.
Perhaps the most inspired aspect of the design is the way they opted against a long solid wall of stairs to confront climbers, but a sweeping tiered stair that seems to stop halfway up the hill (the division of the stair into three tiers was designed to represent the Holy Trinity and links it to the church of the same name above).
When looking up at the steps from below the stairs narrow, and seem to stop at a wall around the halfway point where the steps then curl around the sides out of sight. The walled upper half is optically designed, through matching colours to connect church and Obelisk’s base down into the heart of the steps. Your cannot help but follow these sight lines up into the sky at the domes of the church. All in all the steps are more like a grand theater stage than a town square – very dramatic yet intimate.
While the steps were designed to connect two public spaces, they seem to overtaken the squares above and below and become the attraction – relegating the squares to a second class status. That being said there are wonderful elements in both the upper and lower squares that are sometimes forgotten about.
The Piazza Spagna below has some of Rome’s priciest upscale shopping and at the base of the steps is Bernini’s Fontana della Barcaccia – designed to look like a leaky boat. Above the steps is the Piazza Trinità dei Monti housing the cathedral of the same name, the Obleisk (Obelisco Sallustiano), a Roman copy of the Obelisk in Piazza Popolo and an outstanding view of the city.
While no longer areas of political power the squares do have some meaning. In what might be the greatest symbolic value the Spanish Steps lead the user from the ‘low’ material world of shopping and commerce below to the ‘higher’ world of spirituality and religion above.
One final note, a few years ago the Italian government asked for more corporate involvement in the rehabilitation and maintenance of some of the country’s many historical landmarks. Because this also coincided with Bulgari’s 130th anniversary they stepped up to the plate and are paying 1.5 million Euros to keep the steps safe for the millions who visit every year.
Anyhow, I’ll let you go now, thanks for looking and I’ll see you soon,
Dan (Sept. 2015).
Good to see you all again at this week’s photo installment. And just in case you weren’t tired enough of Rome, I got plenty more to serve you today.
But let’s step back for a moment. If there is anyone who is thinking of going somewhere for a vacation, and you can’t quite sort through all the options, then put Rome very high on your list.
Let’s put it this way, if you like great food, fashion, ruins, tiny cups of coffee, wine, fountains, frescos, domed roofs, opera, selfie sticks, Catholicism, pastel coloured buildings, graffiti, Italian Neorealism films, ice cream, reclining nudes, or if you simply want to better understand where the Middle Ages ended and where the modern world began then Rome just might be the place for you.
Hey, even if you hate all those things you should still head over to this outstanding place and something in the city will delight you.
As for me, this was the visit where I really came to understand and appreciate sculpture. And in the world of sculpture Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini is perhaps the undisputed master. I’d obviously studied much of his architectural work in the past and understood his talent as a sculptor, but until you’ve stood in front of one of his sculptural works it can’t really be fathomed that such life can be breathed into a cold, hard slab of marble. While he never quite got the ink that Leonardo or Michelangelo did, the impact that Bernini had on Rome is nearly impossible to underestimate.
To put it simply, Rome itself is living art. There is almost no separation between the museum and the street in Rome. Particularly after dark, every turn on every street takes you to more beauty, more history, more sensuality and more higher highs than almost any other place I know. So if that doesn’t seal the deal and have you packing your bags then nothing will.
I’ll leave you to the pics. Ciao and thanks for looking,
Dan (Aug. 2015).
What can anyone say about Rome that hasn’t already been said? Not much – so I won’t keep you too long.
It is the Eternal City, it is a magic place, an ancient place, a place where time seems to have stood still. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and it may well be the world’s largest museum with no end of stunning art on display around every corner and in every church.
And here is a tiny glimpse for you.
Have a great week and thanks for looking,
Dan (Aug. 2015)
Piazza del Popolo
Hello and welcome back.
This week we’ll get back to our study of Roman Piazzas. And this one is a beauty.
The Piazza del Popolo (Piazza of the People) is a wonderful example of a balanced, open and a completely planned out city square.
Until air and train travel took over this square was the very first taste of Rome pilgrims would get after a long and difficult travel from places far away. It was designed to have a powerful impact on the pilgrims and it still has a lot of that magic today.
Originally a trapezoid shape, it redesigned and expanded into its current oval shape in the early 1800. The surrounding buildings, the twin churches (designed to Bernini’s plans), the city gate and the fountains are simple yet nearly perfect. Part of the redesign was to incorporate the park above it into a kind of addition to the piazza via a winding road and a staircase. What all of this does is make the square a living place to explore which is kind of unique.
One of the coolest things about this piazza and many others in Rome are the Obelisks. There are dozens of them, so many that at some point you almost stop noticing them and fail to realize that some of these things are over 3000 years old and were shipped from Egypt on enormous barges specially designed for the job.
An obelisk is a simple, but powerful thing. While the Egyptians originally paired two together at temple entrances the Romans split them up and found that and they work remarkably well as center pieces.
They operate on many levels and they carry much with them that is unsaid. We read them on religious, historic and architectural levels and they do much for the location they’re placed. They give the viewer a focal point, they center the square, they draw the viewer’s eye up to the sky and look ultra clean and sharp doing it. Popolo’s (the Flaminian Obelisks) is about 37m tall and features hieroglyphics on a stand surrounded by loin fountains. Ultimately they tell people that Rome has now gained dominance over Egypt, that Christianity has gained dominance over paganism and that a certain place has importance.
To me Popolo is a destination, a meeting point, a thoroughfare, multi-leveled, it has wonderful art, green space, it isn’t too big and it may be the very best ‘people watching’ square I’ve seen.
Personally, I have a great affection for Popolo; both because it is a tranquil, beautiful place, but also because I happened to be in Rome in 2001 when AS Roma won the Italian Championship. The entire city celebrated but this place was the centre of the party for days afterwards. And that’s what a good square is all about.
So enjoy, thanks for looking and I’ll see you again next week,
Dan (Aug. 2015).
Hello again, and this week I’d like to welcome you all to the Vatican.
I always find myself playing a little game when I end up in the here and I call it ‘Country or Not A Country’. Sadly when I leave I’m never any closer to figuring it out.
The Vatican is the world’s smallest nation and consists of nothing more than few buildings and gardens spread out over the equivalent of five or six city blocks. If the sheer tininess of it isn’t confusing enough there’s more: you don’t need a passport to get in; it is entirely populated by men; because of this and according to its own laws it it has birthrate of zero; it has no military to defend it; it charges no taxes to its employees, citizens or visitors and it has no airport or train stations to get tourists in or out, you gotta walk.
I guess I just keep thinking that any self-respecting country should have at least a few meadows, forests, rivers, quaint farms, threatening wild animals, Olympic athletes and the possibility of a proletariat rising up against its bourgeoisie. You’ll find none of those at the Vat.
However, it seems that they have traded in all those wonderful things that I normally associate with a statehood for artwork. Lots and lots of artwork. And nearly all of it of the priceless variety. I still don’t know if that alone makes a country, but it certainly does make it a worthy stop on any trip to Italy.
Todays posting is pictures of some of that art.
Thanks for looking and have yourselves a great week,
Dan (August 2015).
Piazza Navona – Rome
I love Italy, I love Rome and I love this particular place, but before I talk about Navona, let me first back up and explain a few things.
Piazzas (or any old European town squares) are things I have always adored. Perhaps it is because they were specifically designed to awe and inspire people; perhaps it is because they are basically connecting points where people, open skies and beautiful buildings mix; perhaps it is because life seems to be just a little slower in a town square; perhaps because they are a core part of old world life and traditions; or perhaps it is because they just don’t exist where I live, whatever the reason, town squares are my thing.
As far as I can tell, a good town square is rare thing and needs a few key elements (to varying degrees) that, when well done, can create a magical location. Town squares are authentic, organic things (often developed over time with a final unifying design bringing it all together); they work on a human scale (not too big not too small); they generally have a main attraction (architecture, sculpture, market or combination); they are largely neutral in nature (not too religious, not too political, not too commercial); they are free (ownership lays with the people); they draw people all day and all year long; they often have some kind of regular programming or events going on and finally they have no, or almost no, cars running through them. Our obsession with cars are the town square killer for us here in North America.
Added to that is the fact that here in North America and Ottawa in particular, quality public spaces have either been ignored (not created in the first place) or commodified (parking lots, highways, shopping malls, condos) and so they don’t really exist at all.
Obviously not all beautiful open spaces are good for everything – St. Peter’s Square in Rome is great for contemplation, prayer and listening to sermons, but maybe not a place that would allow folks to to celebrate a soccer victory or have a gay pride parade. Times Square in New York is really only a shopping centre and not really a place I’d expect many local to celebrate it’s innate beauty. While Parliament Hill in Ottawa is good for a political rally, or protest, but not a flea market, or to watch the sun set – the fact that I can’t think of a single bench to be found on the grounds means that they really don’t want people just hanging out.
When done well, town squares don’t just draw tourists, but nurture community, create an identity and give locals a focal point to meet and gather. I don’t know many other places where you can drink espresso, exprience great art and enjoy other people…even if you are alone. To me that sums up the Piazza Navona.
Navona is designed on a footprint of a former arena, thus the unique long and narrow design that isn’t too open and isn’t too tight it seems to wrap around you and ‘hug’ you. There are four components to Navona and so I put four panos to roughly link up with the four elements – three fountains and one church. It is within these elements that people relax, wander, frolic and play.
The wonderful thing about Navona (and most Italian and European squares) is the exprience of entering them. They all seem to suddenly appear around you. You walk out of cramped, narrow, winding streets and into this with all the sights, sounds the smells. It is a wonderful exprience that pictures just can’t replicate.
Anyhow, I’ve spoken too much so I’ll leave you with the pictures. Thanks for looking and have a great day,
Dan (August 2015).
New York City
Hello and welcome back to another beginning of the week photo project.
This week we’re gonna take a few big jumps. We’re going to both jump back ‘across the pond’ and jump back in time about five years to a couple of trips I took to New York.
Since this summer is, photographically speaking, all about shutting down the huge projects I’ve been shooting lately, going through the files, sorting them out and cleaning the website up a little that’s exactly what I did on this one.
A few of these were already up in other places, but most are new. The trips were short sweet, and it was fun to to go back and look at what I did then and compare it to now. I do things a little differently…maybe better, certainly I have a clearer focus, in what I want to shoot, but there is still some nice stuff there. I’ve also added a few extra panos to the NY pano page – Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Central Park’s Bow Bridge – so check those out too.
It has been a very good summer for getting the mini projects up thus far and the fun won’t end anytime soon so stay tuned.
Thanks for looking and see you soon,
Dan (July 2015).
Welcome back, and here we are with a little more Dutchness for you today.
Today I’ve cobbled together collection of panos from my tour around the Netherlands and they are largely from locations in Northern and Central Holland. The Netherlands is a wonderful place to tour through – and is the exact opposite to Canada – because you can rent a car and drive from one Medieval or ‘Golden Age’ town to the next every 20 minutes or so.
The main attractions for me on this trip were my ancestral towns of Aalden and Zevenhoven where past generations of my family lived and were buried and places where my parents and played as youngsters.
For the rest it is largely a bunch of odds and ends and shoots of little things that I saw and liked.
Please enjoy and thanks for looking,
Dan (July 2015).
Amsterdam – The Netherlands
Welcome to Amsterdam.
With over a 100 kilometers of canals, more than a thousand bridges and 90 islands it is rightfully called ‘The Venice of The North’.
A unique and beautiful place Amsterdam is a city built on a very human scale. It is famous for its academic and artistic legacy, for its tolerance and open-mindedness and Amsterdam still stands as a model of urban planning.
It doesn’t overwhelm the people inside it. Natural elements are the core of the city – the sky is always visible above you and water surrounds you. It is a walkable city, it is a city full of art, bicycles and beautiful low buildings. It is a clean, organized and orderly city. It is a city jam-packed with history and was once one of the most important cities and seaports in Europe. It remains a city in touch with its past and little changed in hundreds of years, and the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site today.
As for the photography, some of the shots were from key locations, but mostly they were from random corners that looked interesting to me. I had every kind of weather ranging from sunny, to snowy, to rainy, to overcast and it was cold. But maybe it allowed me to capture a slightly different side of the city from what people might normally see.
While posting so many panos of essentially the same thing – bridges, houses and canals – may seem somewhat repetitive, I liked them so I just threw them all up for you guys to sort through. My intention is to give just a small feel for the place. Hopefully I’ve shown a little bit of that from a single day of walking around in the winter of 2015.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (July 2015).
Enkhuizen – The Netherlands
Hello and I hope you’re all doing well today.
For this week’s installment of photopalooza we’re moving on up to Northern Europe and the little town of Enkhuizen, the Netherlands. I spent some time there with my folks, who are Dutch, a few months ago and was able to get off the beaten track a little.
At one time Enkhuizen was a thriving sea port – second only to Amsterdam – until the 1600s.Today it is a wonderful little stop with a number of outstanding historical attractions found in the area. Visiting Enkhuizen, as remarkably preserved as it is, gives a great insight into the life a few hundred years ago.We happened to be there on a quiet morning and we had the whole town to ourselves.
I didn’t intentionally go into the town expecting to put a photo tour like this together, but I shot a lot of different kinds of stuff and I liked how this worked out so I thought I’d share. After getting some of the biggies up like the Acropolis and Ephesus – both of which have been photographed to death at this point – I think I’m a little more interested in working on some of these smaller nooks and crannies of the world than the big ones that are super famous.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (June 2015).
Turkey – Istanbul/Ephesus/Kusadasi
One final photographic recap of Turkey, or as I like to call it…The Bottom Corner or Europe.
Istanbul is a very cool place to hang out for a while, because it starts to bring that element of mystery, ‘otherness’ and slight discomfort that the visitor isn’t likely to find elsewhere in Europe. All of which are very healthy things to experience when on a trip outside your own boarders. But the people here are friendly, the cultural variety is vast and the food is good – not too many places can say all that.
When I photograph anything I tend to look for patterns or themes that give the pictures a bit of a narrative, or something that can link the images for the viewer. In Istanbul it was the food carts. They are everywhere and they kind of became my focus as I wandered through the city. These colourful carts sell pastries, corn, baked nuts, fish, meatballs and sandwiches, but they are also meeting places and a great place to watch the locals hang out and interact and they look even better at night.
Best of all Istanbul really is a great city to wander at night. The old city has no modern glass buildings and little street lighting, so light shines out onto the streets from ground level through tight, small doorways and other openings. The many shops are all old school – small, bright and full of exotic goods – and walking through the city at night is a photographer’s dream.
Istanbul is also home to one of the greatest and most influential buildings ever constructed. The Hagia Sophia, that old, dark, dusty, pile of rocks, is still a thing of beauty to behold. Built in about 500 A.D., it is a true classic of the architectural world and remained one of the world’s largest buildings until the early 1500. It has been a museum since the 1930s but there is a constant battle as to whether it should become a church – its original purpose – or a mosque as it was for most of its life.
At the end of the collection are a few more pictures of Ephesus and Kusadasi – the modern day transit point to the historic ruins.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (June 2015).
After Ephesus Istanbul is the next logical step in our tour of the ‘Old World’. It really is a fascinating place and – if you are coming from Europe – it is the first time you start to see something different and begin to realize that there is a much bigger world out there.
Today Turkey finds itself in the middle of a pretty tough neighbourhood and Istanbul was once the centre where many of these regions were governed from. From Byzantium until about 100 years ago this was the centre of a powerful empire and there are remnants of its once great past past everywhere. The biggest of which are the many mosques that seem to cover the city in domes. There are over 2000 ranging in size from monumental to almost closet sized and from ancient to brand new.
Today it is one of the world’s largest cities and whether you like music, architecture, shopping or eating it is a great place to spend a little time. Here’s a little peek into some of the sights.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (June 2015).
Ephesus, located in present day Turkey, was the most important trading centre and a centre for learning and politics. It was a vital Asian sea port from 100 B.C. until about 500 A.D. The city reached its zenith in the Roman era when the population was close to 250,000 people about the time of Christ, thus the many biblical references we know today. Earthquakes and the drying up of access to the sea reduced the importance of the city until it was eventually abandoned.
What remains today is a collection of some of the greatest ruins in all of the Classical world. The best known of these are the reconstructed Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre – one of the largest in the Classical world. What has been excavated and is seen today is just a tiny fraction of the entire city and excavations are ongoing.
It really is remarkable to see what people were capable of many centuries ago, unfortunately I only found myself with about two hours on site, so I didn’t get the time I would have liked to absorb what I was seeing or to photograph it as I would have liked. As a result the final product is a bit of a slap-dash tour, but it does give you a little idea of what is it like today and gives a hint of what it would have been like many centuries ago.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (June 2015).
Touno Dake – Kanagawa, Japan
I’ve had a some extra time lately, so I’ve been digging back into the files and bumped into this one. It is an oldie but a goodie, so I added a few more panos to one I already had up on another page and turned it into something a little more substantial. However I suspect that it is likely more of a personal project than all that interesting to many.
Touno (1491m) is a sub peak of one of the closest mountains to Tokyo and is a simple 1200m or 3-4 hour hike, but it’s a place I visited a number of times when I lived there. For me it was always a great little get-away allowing me to to breath some fresh air, read a book and maybe even see some stars in a little less hectic environment. But best of all it offers outstanding views of three of the countries great attractions – Mount Fuji, the Pacific Ocean and the massive Tokyo/Yokohama sprawl. Unfortunately Fuji was behind the clouds and the setting sun on this day, but to just sit here as the sun goes down and to see the light come up in Tokyo is a remarkable experience.
As for the photos, not all are taken at the same time, two during an outstanding sunset and the third an hour earlier, so there is some mental ‘jumping around’ that needs to be done, but they are good enough to to post here. I also like this little collection because gives you a little insight into the outstanding hut network that the mountain’s of Japan have. They make getting away as easy as you want it to be.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (June 2015).
After getting a bunch of Greek photos up recently, I thought I’d give you one last batch of Hellenistic glory before I move on to other things.
When I started this writeup I wanted to mention that after the Taj Mahal I think that the Acropolis is the most beautiful building on earth. But then I realized that I didn’t actually have any non-pano Taj pics up yet, so it gave me good reason to get some India photos up too. Thus the somewhat odd combination of India and Greece.
I’ve visited both multiple times and while both buildings are very different structures, I love them for the same reasons. Both use simple shapes, subtlety and solidity in the design, both are stunning creations based on their respective eras and the technology available to the builders, both come to us with powerful legends about the reasons for their construction and both have had a profound effect on generations of those have seen them. I don’t know if all that comes through in my pictures, but if they don’t then take a little time and check out some of the many photos available online. Or better yet get on a plane and head to see them yourself, you’ll be a better person for it.
The rest of the Greece photos are from Olympia (old rocks among the trees) and Athens (big city). The India stuff is from a short trip I took a while back and consists of a mix of Agra, Delhi and Varanasi in no particular order.
One thing to mention, I was able to spend time at the Taj while there was a visiting dignitary and so I was lucky enough to be there when the grounds were completely empty. That is a treat that few will experience, so I decided to contrast that experience with what it looks like on a typically busy day to show just how lucky I was.
Thank for looking,
Dan (June 2015).
Olympia & Athens – Greece
After the posting the Acropolis tour I thought I’d continue with the Greece theme and get some more Greek stuff up for you.
While my time in Athens was short and spent checking out my old haunts I also stopped by a couple of the sites with my camera.
Athens is definitely a city that requires users to wear sunglasses at all times. The huge amounts of marble used in the construction of the city reflects a brilliant light back at you from everywhere and is a bit of a challenge to photograph.
The first pano is an example of this. The Panathenaic Stadium, rebuilt in 1896 on the site of an ancient stadium, is the home for the modern reincarnation of the Olympics and made entirely of marble creating one of the city’s coolest landmarks. It is a wonderfully simple design (as all classical architecture is) made entirely of marble and it almost glows in the sunlight. Because of its odd U-turn track it is no longer used for competition, but remains a remarkable structure, a running track, a meeting place and site for concerts.
Syntagma Square is kind of like the New York’s Times Square…just a lot classier. For Athenians it is the place where political life merges with commercial life. And designed in conjunction with the creation of democracy in Greece in the 1800s. The pink building was once the Greek royal palace and today is the Greek Parliament.
The second place I visited in Greece – for the first time – was Olympia. One of the great things about Greece is that it is the birthplace of the modern world and filled with countless historic places that really are worth learning about. Unfortunately the downside of that is that many of those great sites are today nothing but ruins and ruins aren’t always the most exciting thing wander through, much less to try to photograph.
Olympia is a great example of that. These piles of old rocks aren’t really anything anymore. They are no longer are temples, offices or stadiums they once were, but they represent something. That representation isn’t always clear to see when walking among them and trying to capture what something represents in a photo is a tricky thing.
But Olympia represents the athletic quest of man, the rise and fall of societies and even the strongest buildings. And it reminds us we’re all part of a much longer story. I don’t know if I photographed that, but I did my best.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (May 2015).
The Acropolis – Athens, Greece
Until today, if someone were to ask me what one location that I’d want to go and photograph I wouldn’t have had to think twice about my answer. The Acropolis would have been it.
It is hard to say why it is such a remarkable place. Sure, the location, size, scale, use of nature and the near perfection of the complex’s layout are part of it, but I’ve always believed that its power is much deeper. That’s because, as only the very greatest architecture/art can do, it really touches on what it is that makes us human.
Even today thousands of years after it was built the Acropolis still represents our hopes and ambitions and what humanity is capable of when they demand the very best from themselves – and these days we need as many reminders of that as we can get. It has survived, earthquakes, wars, bombings, occupations and a revolving door of religions. Throughout it all it has survived and remained a source of inspiration to all who have seen it.
I lived and worked in Athens in 2001 and, while there, I never tired of seeing the Parthenon looking down on me.
With the heartbreaking destruction caused by the current war in Syria and Iraq and the earthquakes in Nepal both of which have caused such catastrophic damage to delicate historic locations I think this is more of what I’d like to try to apply this type of photography to.
I was fortunate to have perfect weather and small crowds while visiting and while I’m certainly not the first to photograph the Acropolis, I didn’t have nearly as much time as I would have liked and the majority of the subject matter is ruins, it remains a special place. Hopefully I’ve been able to translate some of that to you through this mini tour.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (May 2015).
Project Rooftop 2014 – Toronto
When I started these rooftop things I did them for two reasons; I knew they were a unique and thorough way to showcase a specific location, but I also did them because I knew they would be a really tough challenge to complete. While Ottawa and Montreal had their own unique trials and tribulations I almost walked away from Toronto.
Toronto is Canada’s biggest most dynamic city, the centre of just about everything and – with its population in the millions – is slowly approaching mega-city status. Because of the size and pride Torontonians have in their town I assumed that putting together a rooftop project would be the easiest of the three…I was wrong.
While there was interest, getting permission in Toronto was a battle from the beginning to end. The sheer number of buildings to sort through, the difficulties in finding and communicating with those in charge, the legal wrangling involved, the precise instructions to be followed from most locations and the huge number of rejections made Ottawa and Montreal look like a walk in the park. All this isn’t so bad and can be dealt with given enough time, but the reality of life here in the north is that we have long, cold winters and the shooting has to take place before September – adding a strict, non-negotiable time limit to the entire process.
Then when I got to Toronto there was the variable weather that left me with only about two quality days per week due to wind, smog or rain and all the cancelations and rescheduling that came with it. There were actually three tornados on the outskirts of the city in one week alone. However, I persisted through it all and here it is…Project Rooftop Toronto.
Shot in the summer of 2014, it took 4 months to organize 2 months to shoot and a further 6 weeks to finally put the whole thing together. The final project has 70 views of the city shot from 69 different locations. And with all but a few exceptions I kept the locations within the boundaries of Lake Ontario, Parliament, Bloor, and Bathurst.
I think this is a great time to have done this project as it is a thrilling time in the history of Toronto. Dozens of tall buildings currently under construction and scores more slated to go up in the next 5-10 years.
I hope that down the road these rooftop projects become a nice reference for an interesting era in Toronto and Canada’s history. At this point I can no longer tell if these Rooftop tours are three separate projects or one big one, but what I do know is that I’m done with them for now.
While I very proud of it they are big, costly and difficult, so I’ll make a bit of a detour and start digging into a number of smaller bite-sized projects this year and see what happens after that.
It is a huge file so give it a minute to load, thanks for looking and welcome to Toronto,
Dan (Apr. 2015)
Time Machine – The Making of…
Over the summer of 2014 I spent a few weeks in Toronto working on some photo projects and was able to shoot a little time lapse on the side.
I’ve always spent a lot of time in Toronto and the changes to the city’s skyline over the past ten or fifteen years have been dramatic. Maybe not quite Shanghai or Dubai dramatic, but Toronto looks very different now than it did at the turn of the century.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city and, generally speaking, is our financial, corporate, media, artistic, political and intellectual centre. No matter what you aspire too all roads in Canada eventually run through this city at some point, so trying a time lapse was inevitable.
Thanks to the upcoming Pan-Am Games, the 100,000 people who move there every year and the ever-rising housing prices, it was rumored that in the summer of 2014 there were 150 cranes floating above the city. Whatever the number, there is no doubt that Toronto is booming and becoming larger, higher, glassier and hipper and is by any measure a world-class city. But, despite the many new developments flooding in, there still is a lot of the past on display.
I don’t know if 2014 is the beginning, middle or near the end of the building boom, but I hope that the visuals give a little feel for the present-day city as a whole.
As for the music, because this was Canada’s biggest city I wanted to do something ‘urbanish and grittyish’. Being a long-time fan of Aesop Rock I can hear some hints of him in there and it seemed to work.
Feel free to purchase a copy of the song from iTunes and it will help me make more stuff like this.
Above all I just wanted to have a little fun with this project and I hope that came through. Thanks for looking and have a great day,
Dan. (Mar. 2015)