Posts from the ‘Personal’ category

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: symbol of hope & inspiration

8 hours on New Year’s Day in Vancouver

I’ve photographed the greater Vancouver area in separate 16-hour “marathons” on Canada Day (1 July) in the last couple of years. Similarly, one way to crack open a brand new year is a shorter photowalk on New Year’s Day, with the length of a winter day halved to 8 hours of daylight. Very good conditions were forecast for New Year’s Day 2015 in Vancouver with mostly clear skies and a high of +6C (42F). I made the following 10 photographs from sunrise to sunset.


1.   817am, 1st light on the North Shore

1st sunrise of 2015, Vancouver, BC, fotoeins.com

1st light of 2015 on North Shore

Previous experience informed my knowledge of a winter sunrise occurring to the southeast, which meant first light on the North Shore mountains. As the first sun of the year poked its head and climbed higher into the sky, windows from houses and apartment towers in West Vancouver sparkled with yellow light.


2.   801-900am, Marine Building

Morning light on Marine Building, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Winter morning light on Marine Building

At 9am, the morning sun shines down the length of West Hastings Street in the downtown Vancouver peninsula. Where West Hastings meets Burrard Street is the Marine Building, fully illuminated in a warm golden glow by morning light. When construction on the Art Deco style skyscraper was completed in 1930, the Marine Building was then the tallest building in the British Empire.


3.   901-1000am, North Boundary, Vancouver

At North Boundary Road, between Vancouver and Burnaby, fotoeins.com

At North Boundary Road, between Vancouver and Burnaby

When we were much younger and dad drove us all around Vancouver, I’ve always wanted to return to this section of Boundary Road, separating the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby. With the road ending on a cliff onto Burrard Inlet, the view here is over the Ironworkers’ Memorial Bridge (Second Narrows Bridge) and beyond to the North Shore mountains.


4.   1001-1100am, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby

Frozen reflecting pond, Academic Quadrangle, Simon Fraser University, fotoeins.com

Frozen reflecting pond, Academic Quadrangle, Simon Fraser University

This is my alma mater, the campus of Simon Fraser University on Burnaby Mountain, a 300-metre high mountain over the city of Burnaby. The “square” or Academic Quadrangle as well as the accompanying (frozen) reflecting pond remind me of a humble start as an engineering student and graduation with a physics degree.


5.   1101-1200pm, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Mountain, fotoeins.com

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Mountain

I lingered around the empty campus for another hour, walking past old haunting grounds, lecture halls, and concourses I’d covered and walked across many times. Coming around to the “front” southwest side of campus, this view highlights the “terraced” structure of the Student Services Centre.


6.   1201-100pm, Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver

Quiet reflection, Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver, BC, fotoeins.com

Quiet reflection, Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver, BC

Shortly after arriving at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, I came across a scattering of people including residents, visitors, couples, families, and pets. A woman sat quietly on one of the benches, next to her bicycle. Her eyes closed, she faced the bright afternoon sun. This photo represents what many of us desire: restful contemplation and a fresh start to the new year.


7.   101-200pm: Central Lonsdale, North Vancouver

Central Lonsdale, up to Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Lonsdale and 14th, north towards Grouse Mountain

A short trip on the bus up the hill towards Central Lonsdale revealed many people out and about in the holiday afternoon sun, outside for a brief walk in the neighbourhood, out for a coffee and a chat. More telling is how close the hills on the North Shore are: so close one can reach out and touch.


8.   201-300pm: Burrard Dry Dock Pier, North Vancouver

Lonsdale Quay and the Lions, from Burrard Dry Dock Pier, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Lonsdale Quay and the Lions, from Burrard Dry Dock Pier

Back at Lonsdale Quay, afternoon light provides front and direct illumination on the Public Market and the large Q sign for the hotel. Just visible in the background are the snow-capped peaks of The Lions (Twin Sisters).


9.   301-400pm: Dundarave Park, West Vancouver

Late-afternoon conversation, Georgia Strait, Salish Sea, Dundarave, West Vancouver, BC, fotoeins.com

Late-afternoon conversation, Dundarave Park

The skies remained mostly clear for the final hours of the first afternoon of the year. At Dundarave Park, the couple seated on a log are in animated conversation, bisected by the column of sunlight on the waters of the Salish Sea.


10.   415pm, sunset over the Salish Sea

1st sunset of 2015, Georgia Strait, Salish Sea, West Vancouver, BC, fotoeins.com

1st sunset of 2015 over the Salish Sea

The first sunset of 2015 is highlighted by brilliant yellows and oranges, as the sun slips behind the mountains of the Gulf Islands and on Vancouver Island. A container ship in silhouette is parked on the waters of the Salish Sea, and over to the left is another container ship and the outline of Vancouver’s Point Grey.


Every photo above is marked with its corresponding location pin in the map below.


Previous photo marathons

•   Canada Day 2014: Vancouver, Canada
•   Canada Day 2013: Vancouver, Canada

Sunday Traveler

I made all of the photos on New Year’s Day 2015 with a Canon 6D camera fitted with the EF 24-105 f/4L zoom-lens. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com, and is part of the Sunday Traveler series.

Fotoeins’ Fotograms: the 14 of 2014

Fotoeins Fotograms 14 of 2014 cover

At the end of 2013, I listed my 13 instants for the year. I continue to be fascinated by how we look at the world in square format in contrast with 4-by-3 or 3-by-2 formats. It’s not exactly the throwback to a distant past with square photographic plates, but the same physical and photographic principles regarding central symmetry apply. Here are 14 ‘fotograms’ from 2014, including a new 6D, watching my father die, and a return ‘home’ to Deutschland.


(1) ➙ “I ♥ VanCity”, 25 January 2014

Yes, I was born and raised in Vancouver. No, I do not always love the city. But when the sun shows up, it’s easy to overlook temporarily the severe shortcomings about the people and the city. That might come across as heresy, but that’s the least of my worries. Coming back or living here isn’t only about tolerance; what some forget while lost among the trees of glass, spruce, and fir are human decency, obligation, and responsibility, wrapped with a generous portion of ambivalence and beauty.

"I <3 VanCity": Vancouver, Canada – 25 Jan 2014.

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


(2) ➙ “Y-V-R”, 21 February 2014

It’s no accident I gravitate towards transport hubs and centres, like train stations and airports. It’s another manifestation of seeing a lot of green grass over on the other side, but the simultaneous promise and curse of travel is knowing what the world presents with a short trip on the plane to the other side of the planet. At Vancouver’s international airport, a man and his child walked directly into the light, which I’m very lucky to have seen with my new 6D.

A. “Dad, what’s on the other side of that sunbeam?”
B. “Guess we’ll have to catch our plane to find out, son …”


(3) ➙ “Central halo”, 23 March 2014

About 20 people are on a ‘photowalk’ on Burnaby Mountain to visit the main campus of Simon Fraser University. The early-spring grey skies cast a soft light on harsh cement shapes and lines. There’s evidence of ice in the upper atmosphere, and I’ve an interesting view to the setting sun through the rotunda’s cupola.

"Central halo" : Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada – 23 Mar 2014.

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


(4) ➙ “Oil’s well that ends well”, 18 April 2014

My friend and I are on a guided historical tour of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. It feels like we have the entire cannery to ourselves in our group of three. I’ve come to enjoy “industrial photography” (e.g., Bernd & Hilla Becher), and this area as part of the fish oil extraction process plays to industriousness. Along with deep greens, rust-browns, yellows, and greys, I like how the lines of the pipes flow to the right, helped along by the big “oily” arrow.

"Oil pipes" : Steveston, BC, Canada – 18 Apr 2014.

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


(5) ➙ “Names to memories”, 23 May 2014

The gentleman puts his hand up to ‘feel’ and connect with his ancestors. One hundred years ago on 23 May 1914, a ship called the Komagata Maru carrying 376 South Asian passengers and citizens of the British Empire entered Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. They were hopeful with the anticipation to beginning new lives in Canada. But the Canadian government along with local officials endorsed and enforced an anti-Asian and “whites only” immigration policy, denying entry to almost all of the passengers, because of the colour of their skin. More photos from the 100th anniversary commemoration here.


(6) ➙ “Looking and seeing”, 28 June 2014

500px’s Evgeny Tchebotarev arrived in Vancouver and some 20 to 30 local photographers joined him on a photowalk through Gastown. Heavy rainshowers didn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance, including Kim pictured here and who was very game throughout the session. More from the photowalk here.


(7) ➙ “Hello, Canada Day …”, 1 July 2014

For the second consecutive year, I set about on a 16-hour marathon on Canada Day: 16 hours of photography and over 100 kilometres traversed, with 18 selected photographs appearing here. Sunrise at 530 on a warm quiet early-summer morning is a picture-perfect way to start the holiday, and an ideal centre point to the present series of 14.

"Hello, Canada Day" (542am) : Vancouver, Canada – 1 Jul 2014.

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


(8) ➙ “Architectural dialogue”, 5 August 2014

I’d spent chunks of late-July and early-August with Dad in the hospital, as his time with us drew to a close. I also began taking more notice of the area surrounding the hospital in downtown Vancouver. The summer light spoke to me through the lattice of steel and glass, here in the entrance atrium of the Law Courts building complex, designed by world-renowned architect Arthur Erickson.


(9) ➙ “A final sunset”, 8 August 2014

I visited Dad in the hospital every day for 21 consecutive days. How was I to know the photograph below would mark his final sunset. Goodbye to another day, goodbye to one more life. “And there he goes …”

"His final sunset over the Salish Sea": Vancouver, Canada – 8 Aug 2014. Story at http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5vy

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on


(10) ➙ “The gulf of Georgia”, 27 September 2014

It’s either love or hate for Yue Minjun’s “A-maze-ing Laughter” (2009) near Vancouver’s Stanley Park, an installation of bronze sculptures open-mouthed in hysterical laughter. I’m interested in the juxtaposition between the two figures here, an apparently narrow gap in space magnifying the emotional rift between joy and boredom (or sadness). I believe this speaks to a real part of living here; those unable to recognize the incongruity are in a blissfully ignorant state of denial.


(11) ➙ “Breezy autumn pluck”, 24 October 2014

Windsocks are the bright orange fingers against the cable-stays of the Translink SkyBridge over the Fraser River, as a scheduled automated train crosses over from New Westminster (left) to Surrey (right). The foreground SkyBridge and the background Pattullo Bridge provide good parallel horizontal “stretch” to counter the almost-vertical windsocks and the angled cables.


(12) ➙ “Back home again”, 26 November 2014

Back home in my adopted town of Heidelberg, I’m also back on Königstuhl hill for the first time in years, back to the Schloss castle ruins for the first time in over a decade. I wanted, no, I needed to see this view of the town from above. Despite overcast skies, the city’s Altstadt (Old Town) still emanates that warm red-brown glow between the Heiligeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit, left) and the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge, centre-right).


(13) ➙ “Lichtsterne”, 2 December 2014

“The ghosts of Christmas continue to h(a)unt with due deliberate diligence …” I love these stars at any Christmas market, but seeing them again here at the Markt in Leipzig, I’m also reminded why the holiday season has always been supremely bittersweet.


(14) ➙ “I ♥ Berlin”, 5 December 2014

I experimented with motion blur throughout my three weeks in Germany. I found an ideal environment here at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, typically one of the busiest squares or plazas, with shoppers, workers, and tourists scurrying back and forth, regional and suburban trains on the elevated guideway above, buses and trams at street-level, and underground U-Bahn trains below. The square is a careful frame to the “♥ Berlin” sign at the left, and the blur of the tram from the right.


What are your favourite photos, moments, and impressions from 2014? This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Burning through books like they’re out of style

No, there will be no burning of books. My optimism says we’ve learned that particular lesson.

I am however reading books at a rapid pace. I’m guilty of reading little over the last ten years, and I’m trying to make up for lost time. With the tracking of reading lists at the Vancouver Public Library, I’ve managed 50 books in 15 months between June 2013 and September 2014. I’ve slowed down some, and I’m in the middle of another 10.

Books and readers, by memyselfaneye on Pixabay

Books and readers, by memyselfaneye on Pixabay (CC0 license)

In the absence of limitless funds, it’s simply not possible to buy all of the books I want to read. Obviously, a public resource for the public good allows residents to borrow. For that, I have once again a debt to the city’s public library; the debt stretches back to childhood when I discovered brand new worlds through books.

Now, I read mostly from two categories: travel and photography.

I’m reading everything I can get my hands on travel, from guides written in a range of styles by various authors to travel memoirs. I’m learning about voice, vocabulary, and delivery.

I’m devouring books on historical and contemporary photography. Like other human enterprises in the 20th-century, much of the art and business was male-dominated. It’s easy to learn about Atget, Brassaï, and Kertész, but I’m taking my time with the work by Burtynsky, Erwitt, and Salgado. I’ve been reading about Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, and Lee Miller; about Bettina Rheims, Vivien Maier, and Francesca Woodman. Recently, I’ve been turning my attention to Laura Gilpin, Jodi Cobb, and Herlinde Koelbl.

Who Cares About Books? Isn’t Everything Online Now?

Aren’t I already reading travel and photography blogs? I’m reading them all the time, so why would I bother to read something as old-fashioned as books?

I’m not looking for specific details directed to a particular niche in mind. I’m on the lookout for a little different, for something on the old we haven’t seen in a long time. If everything’s been done before, I want to learn what we’ve done.

It’s the same kind of attitude and method I once applied to research. I’ll go back to what it was like in the wayback, thrilled with the wait and anticipation, that nuggets of knowledge and wisdom were going to arrive slowly, flipping from one page to the next.

I’ve entered all sorts of bookstores. I’ll pick up a book, and leaf through the contents quickly. Then it’s another, followed by three, four, and more. Ideas pour over me this way, and I’ll let my mind slowly filter and figure things out later.

With books, I don’t have “easy-tech” distractions. A book does not have an audio bell, signaling new mail, a new post somewhere, or a comment on social media. With a book in my hands, the only distraction is not knowing what’s on the other side of the page.

If I’m reading about Estonia in a book on northern Europe, my mind might choose at an inopportune time to know: “well, what about Latvia? Or Lithuania? Or what about a quick ferry across the Baltic Sea over to Helsinki, Finland?” Or I’ll be staring longingly at a famous photograph, and how various circumstances and a thousand random details converged to that one place and single moment in time.

That’s the kind of internal distraction I’m looking for.

Externally, the book is almost a complete experience. The feel of holding a book in my hands. The subtle touch of grasping a page between my fingers, and the delicate circular motion of turning the page over from one side to the other side of the book.

Slow reading, steady dreaming, a lengthy thoughtful process.

I lean back across the couch, book folded over my chest like a wae paperbound tent. I close my eyes, and I let my mind wander, traveling effortlessly from one desired imaginary place to the next.

I’m grateful to memyselfaneye on Pixabay for the use of their photo with the CC0 Creative Commons License. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Germany: back home to visit this fall

… nicht nur Fernweh, sondern auch Heimweh …

In late-fall 2001, I moved sight unseen to the university town of Heidelberg, Germany, equipped with only three phrases in German. When I departed in 2003 to the U.S., I learned some things about myself and about Deutschland; I had also left a big piece of myself behind.

When I’m away for too long, it’s more than possible I’ve a yearning to go somewhere (“Fernweh”), accompanied by the simultaneous longing for home (“Heimweh”). It’s in Germany where I miss friends throughout the relatively compact country, and I miss the little things which are always specific to the big D.

Great Circle Mapper, YVR-FRA

Approximate path for YVR-FRA (Vancouver – Frankfurt), courtesy of Great Circle Mapper

I’ve gone “home” to Germany at least once every year since 2003, and the streak continues for the 11th consecutive year this fall. With flights in and out of Flughafen Frankfurt am Main Airport, I have the following itinerary:

  • 20 November : arrival in Frankfurt
  • 20-24 Nov. : Köln (Cologne)
  • 24-26 Nov. : Heidelberg
  • 26-28 Nov. : München (Munich)
  • 28-30 Nov. : Bielefeld
  • 30 Nov. – 9 Dec. : Berlin, with an excellent chance of Leipzig
  • 10 December : departure from Frankfurt

“Only” 8100 kilometres (5000+ miles) separates Vancouver (YVR) with Frankfurt (FRA). I’m looking forward to catching up with some very good people around the country, as well as the following ten of many things:

  1. Back to K-Ehrenfeld, “mein Kölner Kiez” (my Cologne `hood)
  2. Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) begin the week of 24 November
  3. Seeing my old “hometown” HD, squeezed on the Neckar between two hills
  4. American Thanksgiving, with some fine people in Bielefeld
  5. At long last in L-Stadt, for Bach, Mendelssohn, & largest train station in Europe
  6. Reopening of C/O Berlin, my mecca of photography in the B
  7. Days in Berlin nowhere enough to do all the things I’ve planned
  8. Number of Bratwurst, Currywurst, Döner, Kartoffelpuffer (Reibekuchen) consumed
  9. Number of Glühwein, Kuchen, Plunder, (Obst)Schnecke, (Quark)Tasche consumed
  10. Moments of anticipation, reflection, & loss on Deutsche Bahn’s InterCityExpress trains

Over these three weeks, I’m on trains crossing the country “yet again”. In between gleeful bouts of stuffing me gullet with food and drink, I’ll describe in the next post how I’m saving money with an advance purchase of a 10-day German Rail Pass.

Flughafen Frankfurt am Main, Terminal 1, Halle A : by Sven Teschke (Wikipedia)

Flughafen Frankfurt am Main Airport, Terminal 1, Halle/check-in area A : by Sven Teschke (Wikipedia)

The latter photo is from Wikipedia, used with the Creative Commons license. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com, and is part of the Sunday Traveler series.

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