A quick break in the day for R to have dinner with her family and teach a piano lesson, and we reconnected in downtown Calgary for some more wandering around, exploring angles and reflections.
I discovered some unintentional statue porn!
This is a photo I took during the 2009 World Wide Photowalk, and at the time I wasn’t terribly happy with the original. Between the time I took that shot and today, I have probably shot around 18,000 photographs, upgraded from a kit lens to much better gear, and moved from a Canon 40D to the 50D with an eye to eventually going full frame with at least a 5D.
I really wish I’d understood the power of raw when I was out last year! Even without a raw file to start from though, what I’ve learned about post-processing (like better cropping, the rule of thirds and so on) has made a big difference. What was an ok shot last year, is a lot better now that I’ve learned more.
Cute. Yellow. Fluffy. Yep, it’s spring time in Calgary!
Sunset in the Badlands
Long exposure of white water rapids in Kananaskis
We had one of our warmest days yet here in Calgary, and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity by grabbing my 50D and my spiffy new Thinktank doublewide to keep two more lenses in along with some spare CF cards and battery.
It doesn’t hold a lot, and honestly that’s a good thing as it forces me to pare down and only bring what I’ll actually need
This shot is just as I was about to step out onto the bridge where I took a few more photos. I was doing train checks pretty frequently as the track curves out of view on both sides. Fortunately I was already clear of the bridge when one did decide to come along!
Processed in Bibble Pro 5 using the Andrea film simulation plugin set to camera stock BN Kodak Tri-X Pan and BN Forte Fortezo for print stock after choosing to go B&W. I love B&W photography, but don’t have a lot of experience *yet* shooting it. Fairly pleased with this result. I’m a fairly prolific amateur, generally shooting urban/urban decay and a lot of night photography. These days I probably spend 20+ hours a week out with my camera just exploring and finding shots that speak to me. Some pictures that I post to flickr only speak to me for a little while… others seem to have better staying power.
Or hit the slideshow version to see more
It’s an unfortunate reality in any urban center that there are homeless. People end up homeless for a wide variety of reasons… loss of employment, underemployment, mental illness, family breakdown. And the amount of thought the average citizen gives ‘the homeless’ is negligible. Aside from the occasional donation to a food drive or some over administrated charity, little is done. They live on the edges of society, frequently a subject of scorn and derision, or misplaced and misspent pity.
And Bob forbid they be a minority, especially native.
I recently blogged about surveillance in Calgary and my concerns, finishing with
I want to know I can take a walk with my wife, and stop and kiss her in a doorway or under a tree, without some bureaucrat leering over our shoulder.
It appears I’m already far too late. I was taking some shots of the Langevin Bridge, and had spotted a native couple on the bridge.
They were holding hands, and making frequent stops to whisper to one another and kiss against the railing. I moved to a different spot to shoot something else and leave them some privacy, when a male voice came loud and clear over a loudspeaker…
“You are under live video surveillance! Take your activity off the bridge!”
Uhm, what? No kissing on the bridge? Or just no kissing for homeless natives…
To add to the conundrum, they are in a poor position to challenge the intrusion. Even assuming they had the inclination to flip off the anonymous State voyeur, it would have resulted in a Calgary Police officer being dispatched to the bridge. Being homeless, they don’t have the resources to fight being hustled off the bridge or spuriously arrested on something unrelated.
This is just the surface though. It’s a rare moment when a homeless person can spare a moment from day to day survival and getting by to carry on something so basic as a relationship. That they are homeless denies them the privacy and dignity to carry on their romance anywhere but in public, whether in plain view or hiding in some out of the way spot.
That the State, acting on our behalf, chooses to deny them even these simple acts of humanity is barbarous. It’s bad enough they are chased out of businesses for wanting to use their washrooms, forced to duck behind bushes and dumpsters in broad daylight and freezing blizzards. To deny them even a chance at a quiet walk on a bridge is inhuman.
This particular couple moved off the bridge to sit on one of the abutments at the rivers edge to enjoy each others company.
From The Calgary Sun
Fed up with hooligans destroying residential and business property with graffiti, the city will be installing new technology likely next month to help catch them in the act.
Bylaw boss Bill Bruce said the cameras, installed at graffiti trouble spots throughout the city, will be able to detect who is committing the crime through high resolution photos and aid investigations.
And in November, Calgary was rocked when vandals spray-painted swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans on a number of sites in Woodbine and Pump Hill, including a synagogue and Holocaust war memorial.
Basically the City of Calgary is looking to use a bunch of high resolution surveillance cameras and invest the manpower to catch a small group of street artists. While not a fan of the habit of those who ‘tag’ their sign/name all over the place, I’ll happily confess that it’s cool seeing full on artistry in a lot of these spots. Given the choice between a boring bare cold wall in a back alley and seeing some street art, I’ll take the art please.
And perhaps instead of spending thousands on cleaning up the graffiti and providing a fresh blank slate, I think the money would be much better spent putting up a mural of just about any kind.
That the city would spend the money and resources on graffiti is just ridiculous to me. That they’d cite the incidents with the swastikas is darkly cynical. For those who don’t recall, there were cameras in place at one of the graffiti sites that showed the vehicle they pulled up in along with the the person who did it. No one has been caught. What concerns me more though is that the city is willing to expend these resources to catch a small group of street artists who are committing at worst light property damage, but didn’t commit those same resources to catch members of the Aryan Guard in acts of violence and intimidation against citizens of Calgary.
This priority of property over people should concern any citizen of Calgary. That it would commit itself to a ridiculous cycle of trying to catch street artists and repainting and repainting commercial property is short sighted in the extreme. So long as we live in urban settings bereft of colour and character, people of all ages will do *something* to change that, whatever the nature of their expression.
There are a lot of things one can say about graffiti. Tagging the front door of a business is vandalism in my books. But there’s also a lot of artistry and heart that goes into some of it.
If you have an opinion about graffiti, all I’d ask is that you watch this video from Youtube before making up your mind.
When I poked @CityOfCalgary on Twitter about it, they responded with
I think this response is disingenuous at best. I think the vast majority of Calgarians are unaware of graffiti abatement programs, and aren’t being offered alternatives. I don’t think the City is even looking at alternatives. This knee jerk desire to just install more cameras in our city is an unwelcome pursuit of a police state. I don’t want to live in a city where I’m constantly be watched by those set to govern over me. I want to know I can take a walk with my wife, and stop and kiss her in a doorway or under a tree, without some bureaucrat leering over our shoulder.
Contact your alderman, and ask them to find a new way to address graffiti. There are many more palatable options available than turning our beautiful city into a bristling police state of cameras and pervasive surveillance.
On Monday morning at 5am, a fire broke out in a building in Chinatown on Centre St resulting in the closure of the road and bridge in both directions. Due to the extent of the fire, the building was left in a very unstable state and had to be torn down.
These are shots I took last night as the demolition went on, with the city hoping to have the bridge and street at least partially re-opened for Tuesday morning rush hour.