Fotoeins Fotografie

photography as worlds between words

Posts from the ‘Summer’ category

Säntis, Imperia, Bodensee, Lake Constance, Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Säntis, Imperia, Bodensee, Konstanz

On the final full day of (northern) summer, late-afternoon light gets the people of Konstanz out to the shores of Lake Constance. The promenade on Seestrasse on the north side of the city is filling up with people walking by or bicycling. A young couple is all up on the public display of affection, while an older couple holds hands and look out into the lake. I’ve set the picture facing south, and with the zoom lens, I’ve aligned in the foreground the Imperia statue in Konstanz harbour underneath the Säntis mountain in Switzerland in the background.

I made the picture in late-afternoon light on 21 September 2017 with the Canon 6D, 70-300 glass, and the following settings: 1/640-sec, f/14, ISO1000, and 300mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bKV.

U Kasaren, Hradcany, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Praha: a favourite place to return (WPC)

Above/featured: U Kasáren from Loretánská, Hradčany – 30 July 2016 (HL).

On a personal level, the impact of this city can’t be gauged, measured, or quantified. What I know is I’ve roamed this place over countless little cobblestones. The sum of all strides led me to jumping continents and traversing nations with steps as large as my imagination could entertain and overcome.

And so, after the twelfth, fifteenth, or twentieth visit (I’ve lost count), I look at these images and ask why I surrender to the pull, why I return, and why the Czech capital city feels familiar. It’s about the old and the new, a colourful combination replacing what I’ve lost and amplifying what I’ve gained.

Prague is one of my favourite places to return.

summer sunrise, sunrise, summer, Karluv most, Charles Bridge, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Daybreak and a halo for St. John of Nepomuk, Charles Bridge (Karlův most) – 28 July 2013 (HL).

National Monument, Vítkov, Zizkov, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Over the city to the west from the National Monument on Vítkov (Národní památník na Vítkově), Žižkov – 2 August 2013 (HL).

Muzeum, stanice metra, metro station, DPP, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Metro line C commuters at Muzeum station, Vinohrady – 8 November 2016 (HL)

Ginger and Fred, Fred and Ginger, Dancing House, Tančící dům, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Dancing House (Tančící dům) with streaking northbound streetcar, Nové Město – 6 November 2016 (HL)

I wrote a “love letter” to Prague, which as many have discovered also includes “the night watch.”

I made all of the above images in 2013 and 2016. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bCs.

The place where I died

With these pictures, I explore the perspective of witnessing a parent’s unstoppable decline to the end. While there are no pictures of my father in this set, I give voice to growing distress at his final journey as my gaze drifted externally to the hospital itself and immediate surroundings. Northern summers, specifically August, now mean something entirely different.

On 19 July 2014, Dad was taken to Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital after he had a minor fall down the stairs at home. No bones were broken, which was remarkable considering his worsening health in the final stages of cancer. He would never return to the house in which he and Mum had bought and lived since 1976.

Over the following days and weeks, I explore through a dozen pictures what it’s like to witness a parent’s unstoppable decline from a son’s perspective in orbit around a downward spiral. There are no pictures of Dad in this set; instead, I give voice to my growing internal distress by casting my lens externally, including the hospital itself and immediate surroundings.

By the 2nd week, he had been moved to the Palliative Care Unit (PCU) on the 10th floor. The wonderful hospital staff took great care of him and other patients in the unit. Dad charmed the PCU staff by chatting with them in broken English; it was his way of exerting some measure of control.

Into week 3, his mind and spirit had departed, and he had become completely unresponsive. Over the next five days, his body remained, breathing steady, though often shallow and laboured. He was calm and at peace, and thanks to the meds, with diminished pain. I was with Dad a part of every day for the following 21 days until his death on 9 August; he had celebrated his 82nd birthday only a few weeks earlier.


Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

1. Inside the room.

Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2. Out the window.

I looked out the windows to summer skies, to tell him the city he’d known for over 40 years was still out there. I was also in a hot rage because the rest of the world continued on, unworried and uncaring, leaving Dad and the suffering and the dying behind. Entropy is all fine a concept until it reaches out and fucks with your reason for being.

Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3. From the bed.

St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

4. At the garden (DIGS, Downtown Intercultural Gardeners’ Society).

Bute and Davie, West End, Vancouver, BC, Canada

5. The letting of light.

St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

6. This is the spot.

Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

7. Lounge.

In the Palliative Care Unit (PCU) on the 10th floor of Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital, there’s a lounge area for family and friends, down the hallway at some distance from patients’ beds. In the lounge are couches, chairs, a piano, books, and a small kitchenette with a fridge, microwave, and a small area to make coffee or tea. There’s also a small balcony with additional deck chairs for people to sit outside in the shade. The balcony is where I made picture numbers 6 above and 12 below. With the lounge at the building’s southwest corner, there’s an outstanding west-facing view to the rest of downtown, the West End, and English Bay. Instead, I look down to the streets and actively seek spatial serendipity, to counter the nagging unspoken question of what the hell am I doing here.

Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

8. Passage.

This corridor in the PCU connects the lounge area with staff offices, examination rooms, and patients’ rooms. By day or night, it’s generally quiet: it’s not an eerie atmosphere, but it’s more like a respectful state of mind.

Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

9. Quiet introspective celebration of light.

Next to the PCU on the 10th floor, there’s a section where the windows next to the elevators face west to English Bay. We watch the annual summer fireworks through the glass. There are subdued voices, interrupted by the sounds of mobile phones as people attempt to take pictures. There’s no shouting, whooping, or clapping. Patients, family and friends, and on- and off-shift staff all gaze equally and quietly, beyond the glass, beyond the lights, and into the Salish Sea. I wrote more about this remarkable experience here.

Law Courts, Arthur Erickson, Robson Square, downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada

10. Hanging lattice.

St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

11. Helmcken and the Hospital.

By this point, Dad had become a living shell. His spirit had departed days earlier, and his body was hanging on. His eyes, open and unseeing; his mouth, open and sunken; his skin, smooth yet cool to the touch. He looked like a breathing ghost, but a part of him still remained. And so, I stroked his cheek with the back of my fingers, and I gently held onto his arm, knowing fully he could no longer acknowledge me. Did I tell him all the things I wanted to say? Probably not, but I hoped my presence provided some comfort. In previous days, he recognized me for who I was: his son, the little boy of five who once eagerly climbed onto his dad’s knee.

What I feared most was not his rapid deterioration or that the end was coming quick, but that somewhere inside he was trapped and unable to communicate. I leaned close into his ear, and I said: “it’s okay, Dad. You can go.” I repeated this in both English and Toisan for days until I received the phone call. After that, I no longer had to repeat or remind him of the message.

Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

12. Last dusk.

From the lounge balcony, I made the picture of his final sunset. While he could no longer “see”, I hoped he could sense the shift between day and night, but perhaps it was the knowing that the shift was now racing from life over to death.

Hours later at 610am on the 9th of August 2014, Dad breathed his last and slipped quietly into the eternal sea. When I got the phone call, I felt some relief for him: his ordeal was finally over. That respite was quickly replaced by the empty vacuum that comes with losing a parent. Even now with the passing of years, I clearly relive moments with Dad and his final three weeks of life in the hospital.

Palliative Care Unit, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada

13. Final notice.


This post appears on fotoeins DOT com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-akW. I made all of the pictures between 31 July and 8 August 2014. All pictures were at St. Paul’s Hospital except number 5 at the corner of Bute St. and Davie St. and number 10 at the Law Courts building.

Some may recognize the similarity of the post title with “The Field Where I Died“. Those familiar will know this video excerpt and this music score.

Canada150, Canada Day 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Canada Day 150: the 5th annual marathon (2017)

Featured: Of the 150 people to become new Canadian citizens, 3 of the youngest Canadians cut into the cake for the cameras on Canada’s 150th birthday at the Citizenship Ceremony held inside the Vancouver Convention Centre.

For the 5th consecutive year, I’m out and about on the Canadian national holiday. 2017 is a special year with the sesquicentennial or 150 years as a nation. Over a “marathon” lasting 16 hours from about 5am to 9pm, I’m going from one part of Vancouver to another of the metropolitan area to photograph people and locations dressed up or covered in red; many events are happening on the city’s waterfront at Canada Place.

Here are 17 photographs for Canada Day, 1 July 2017.

( Click here for more )

National Aboriginal Celebration, Canada Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

My Vancouver: National Aboriginal Celebration 2017

In Canada, National Aboriginal Day is held on the same day as (northern) summer solstice to celebrate language, culture, and tradition on the longest day of the year. In 1996, then Governor-General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc, proclaimed June 21 as National Aboriginal Day since 1996, although the day is not a statutory holiday across the country. Events in the Vancouver area were also held the previous weekend as part of National Aboriginal Celebration, including an all-Saturday event at Canada Place. I highlight the performance by Pascale Goodrich-Black and La Vallée des Loups, also as part of the simultaneous Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver (Summer Francophone Festival of Vancouver).

The Canadian Prime Minister announced that as of 2018 the National Aboriginal Day will be modified to become National Indigenous Peoples Day to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis indigenous peoples.

( Click here for more )

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