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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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 …”
(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.