Fly Skies

My birthday was a few weeks ago and it was great! Although very low-key. Had a BBQ with lots of friends and lots and lots of food. Also, at the same time, I found myself remembering what my friends had done for me last year. You see, they are not so much the giving type, they are more the ‘experience’ type, so they are more likely to take out and have an experience than buying you, say, a bottle of champagne. So last year, they all got together and setup an awesome hang gliding excursion for my birthday. 

We drove about an hour out of town, heading east into the middle of now where. Except of course a hang gliding school! 

If you have never tried it, you should. It was amazing! You are 4,500ft high. Being held up by nothing but passing streams of air. It is quiet, thoughtful, zen-like… unless you have an instructor who likes to scare the living daylights out of you and will swan-dive right before you hit the ground. Ah, good times.

Now, I think the whole experience is made far more scary due to the 12 page release form which have you have to sign and initial… on every page, in order to release them of all liability. Also the release form does estate, ‘…hang gliding is a dangerous sport and people have died while practicing it.’ you know, to calm your nerves.

Although you have to admire they straightforwardness, it definitely does not ease your desire to pay them for something that might kill you.

Each of us got about 15 minutes in the air depending on both time of day (aka:. thermals due to the sun heating the earth) wind, and honestly, how fat you were. For example a cute, tiny Mexican friend of ours (the one in the capture) managed a solid 20 minutes while one of our more heavier friends, almost twice the Mexican girl, well, at least he got off the ground. That was a good thing, you know, for him.

How did it work? The glider was tethered to the ground my a long metal cable–as seen on the photo, that pulled it, though a large field, essentially serving as an engine and providing it with lift. After you got to the point where the cable could not provide any more lift, the instructor unhinges it and there you go, you are gliding! The view is gorgeous, you can see at least 15-20km in direction and people, as the old saying goes, looked like ants!

At one point, my instructor said, ‘See that hawk?’ there was a dark-feathered spot in the the distance, ‘He is looking for thermals too, let’s see where he goes!’ as we banked to the right in his direction. In the end however the hawk glided further than we would be able to go if we wanted to land in our designated area. So we never caught up the darn hawk and the thermal. The landing is awesome. You lands just like a small plane as there are small wheels at the bottom of the glider. It was an amazing experience!

As I was unhooking myself, I asked, ‘How much for the glider?’ His answer, ‘About 6 grand.’ Ha, who knew you could be gliding through the skies for hours on end for less than what it costs to buy a small bike? Had to admit, I was a bit tempted. You know, as birthday gift. 

The photo was taken with a Nikon D700, 50mm as a glider was taking off.

Fluffy Bee


A while ago, I wanted to play with some macro photography. However instead of my usual kit, I was only carrying a simple Canon point and shot camera, which actually had a pretty good Macro option set. So I decided to give it test.

I found myself walking randomly north of St. Clair, east of Yonge Street. Wasn’t sure what exactly to go for but thankful, nature answered my question with an angry bee trying to poke me in the nose. WHOA! After I was able to run away from my assailer with no better grace than a whimpering school girl, I decided… since it had not stung me –and in a clear example of possible developing Stockholm syndrome, to follow the bee, check out where it went. As it is one of those things we do we do when we are kids because bees are awesome. However once we get past a certain age, it seems we are not allowed to do certain things under the concept of being ‘mature.’

It didn’t take too long before it landed on few flowers to collect pollen. Then, the fluffy bee decided to apparently take a nap because it just didn’t move for a few minutes. I could only wager that it had some sort of tenure back at the beehive and it knew it could afford to slack off here and there. Which gave me enough time to get this simple, natural capture.

This shot was taken with a straightforward Canon A640 on a tripod on Manual/Macro Mode. As I left the flower patch, I said ‘good bye’ to the bee for the capture. It just ignored me. Damn tenure.

Toy Venice Tranquility, After The Rain

While returning from Punta della Dogana, walking east on the Fondamenta delle Zattere, one could not escape the desolation of the empty Venetian canals. Eventually however, next to Calle dello Squaro, the above scene presented itself to me. It very much reflected what I was trying to capture; a subtle, proverbially Venetian scene without tourists or distractions. As I setup my tripod, I kept an ear on my surroundings… and you know, for a city so full of history, Venice is remarkably cemetery-like after 11:00pm. Not a whisper, sound or hint of any locals, except perhaps for the humming of a far-away boat. 

The nightlife seems to leave itself restricted to the sestieres of San Marco and Santa Croce, as the rest of Venice is more like a small village, no different than most found anywhere on the mainland. Utterly devoid of life once midnight approaches.

I like the static poetry of this shot. Especially the stillness of the water and the lighting on  the wall on the left. I enjoy the simplicity of this shot. Hopefully you will too.

Taken with a Nikon D700 and a tripod, using a 17-35 wide-end lends. 

Il Redentore

Il Redentore by The Torontonian
Il Redentore a photo by The Torontonian on Flickr.

So, while walking in Venice; one of my main goals was not to only explore the city as much as I could BUT to visit the less explored nooks and corners… well… as much as the limited time there would allow.

Plus if at all possible to travel through it’s canals and alleyways at night. Not because I had traveled thousands of kilometers with the firm desire to risk getting mugged with Venice’s historic architecture as a backdrop (since man, what a crazy and expensive kink would that be!). I did however want to get a sense of this city at night; away from San Marco’s, the crowded squares, the endless army of tourists and the preconceptions we all have of such a city.

As such we found ourselves at the the intersection of Sestiere Dorsoduo and Fondamenta Zattere ai Saloni at the very end of Dorsoduo (‘Hard Ridge’ in English due to the areas higher and steadier land underfoot) which overlooks Piazza San Marco to the north and Il Redentore to the south. This thin triangular spot is known as the Punta della Dogana  and is the division between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal. The photo you see was taken looking south during a rainy, deserted night, near midnight. With a long exposure, used to contrast the navigating lights of passing powered boats while the steady church, built in the 16th century lingers, steadily forward in time.   

I must say I enjoyed walking through its deserted streets at night a little more than doing the same during the day. As it give me a unique chance to appreciate the architecture up close and far personally then if I had been surrounded by tourist. For one you really get the sense of how barren the streets of this city are. The streets themselves have the same charm and decour of an empty subway station as most of the trees in this city are private and behind the walls of private residents.   

Also, it becomes very clear that Venice as a whole is in a incredible level of disrepair. With cracking walls, weather bricks and crumbling stucco everywhere. All of it. Venice is really a beautiful, if crumbling museum. To any fellow travelers, I cannot emphasize it enough, if you never been to this Unesco world heritage site, this floating gem, then do it sooner than later.  

This show was taking with a Nikon D700, wide angle 17-35mm and tripod.