Seattle weekender

Seattle has been a bit of a fixture for me over the last couple of months. Following Amerivespa in July I visited the Flying Heritage Collection earlier in August. Last weekend I was back in town for a short weekend break. The focal point of the trip was another visit to MoPop (formerly EMP) as there was a gallery of Mick Rock's early Bowie photographs. This was Bowie on the verge of superstardom. 

I didn't give myself a photography brief for the visit so the shots below are really a few tourist captures with a sprinkling of 'street' thrown in. Space Needle was looking particularly impressive with the sun peeking behind the saucer before 10am. It was also fun watching adults and kids play at the International Fountain. Water, enthralling young and old. The street shots near the Gum Wall were of people heading away from the area and I tried to capture those simply going about their day rather than visit the gum. Back in MoPop I went for a couple of Sci-Fi images that reflect humans as emotionless machines. Chilling yet captivating.

Rock Seen

I'm so pleased that I got to view Bob Gruen's collection that was being displayed by Liss Gallery in Vancouver during August.

The photographs on display supported his book Rock Seen and span some 40 years of capturing some of rock musics most notable performers. The bulk of the work displayed was from the 70's and 80's and to be honest, those decades resonate so much with me. Having travelled the road from glam to punk, I spent my viewing time reliving times and places that now seem so distant yet full of life.

As my photographic journey starts (or continues following a long delay) I wanted to look past the memories and the artist to think about what it was that made the image memorable for me. The mix of on and off-stage shots provided a glimpse of the transition from real life to entertainer/commentator. My biggest smile? The image of John Lydon in his Rotten guise on board an airliner with a rather bewildered child in the seat in front. My favourite image? It would be easy to go with one of John Lennon and yet I was transfixed by the power of The Clash on stage. This shot summed up "The Only Band That Matters". Energy and attitude partnered with authenticity and astute commentary. 

It was a real privilege to view this small part of the Gruen collection. An artist capturing musicians that are likely the true beneficiaries of the image as it freezes them in time and certainly prompts me to dive in to the vinyl collection again.




Sunshine Coast Getaway

It was a few days or total relaxation.

BC's Sunshine Coast is simply breathtaking and offers a significant change of pace. I recently spent four days in the area being actively relaxed which for me meant taking simple hikes and breathing in nature. 

Home was Tuckers Inn, B&B, a great find with friendly hosts, immaculate rooms and home baking for breakfast. Laying just north of Sechelt, Tuckers Inn was a great base for the short break, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Over the years of being in Canada, it's become clear that 'hike' is applied to any off road walk and it doesn't matter if it takes minutes or days, so take the word with a reasonable pinch of salt. The two main hikes were Smuggler Cove and Francis Point. Smuggler Cove is the easier of the two as it's flatter. The trail is simple to follow, the initial boardwalks across the wetlands helpful and the views cannot fail to render one horizontal. It's a shady trail and that helped as the temperatures were in the late 20's. The video opposite gives a good flavour of the experience. 

Francis Point was more challenging in that it was mostly in the open so be prepared for the heat on sunny days. There was also more clambering over rocks as the bulk of the hike to the lighthouse (beacon on a pole) is along the cliff coastline. The adventure is worthwhile, the views, once again, are stunning. 

I only scratched the surface and there's much more to the Sunshine Coast. The area is well worth a visit.

Photography wise, my aim was to capture a mix of tourist shots and other images that caught my attention. I chose video on the Smuggler Cove hike as the route was shaded with sunlight breaking through the canopy making for difficult shooting. Other shots were taken in the garden of the B&B and at the Sechelt Inlet. Manual mode predominated and I only flicked to Program when wanting to capture a moving boat when I didn't have the time to dial in the manual settings. 

Flying Heritage

It was on the Ducati, over the border and down to Everett, WA where the Flying Heritage Museum lives in a couple of hangers next to Boeing.

The majority of the planes in the collection are airworthy and it shows. A lot of WWII hardware can actually take to the skies. When I visited, the fleet was at rest and it was wonderful to roam around a diverse collection of mainly US, German and British planes with a smattering of Japanese and Russian aircraft for good measure.

To add to the spectacle, the museum also has a number of armoured vehicles that are also able to break free of the hanger confines and strut their stuff outside.

This private collection of Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) has been growing since 1998. The desire to have fully operational artifacts rather than static museum pieces whenever possible really sets the collection apart. There's a short 'bio' of each artifact that feeds the imagination making it easy to close one's eyes and visualise that Spitfire or Mustang in the air. The exhibits are simply meticulously prepared and I could have watched the guys working on a ME109 for a long time.  

Whilst getting a shot of the SCUD carrier tracks (I was trying to capture the hardware from different perspectives) I had an impromptu chat with Vince from Montana, an older guy visiting the collection. It was a pleasure to meet someone, know the area where he lives and then head off, never to see him again. A small slice of life where journeys meet, paths cross and then go their own way.

It's difficult to pinpoint a favourite exhibit, although I will say that I have a soft spot for the de Havilland Mosquito, maybe because it was such an accomplished all-rounder. Yes, it is possible to do many things to a high standard!

I'm not a military buff, I don't get a romantic kick from armed conflict, it's the design aesthetic of the machinery that attracts me. I also appreciate how innovation can be fast-tracked by the immediate needs of the time. The museums artifacts act as a reminder of testing times for the world, surely times that as a species we do not want to revisit, whilst coincidentally bringing a real appreciation of design and ingenuity. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to FHCAM and will be making a return visit on one of their flying days.

On the photographic side, I had my PEN-F with me and the 14-42 pancake lens along with my 25 (nifty 50). I'm currently finding the 25mm, 1.8 so versatile and most of the images I've posted were made using this lens. Rather than try to capture the complete aircraft or armoured vehicle, I was looking for unique views to showcase different elements of the design. I've recognised that the results are not that dissimilar to some of the stills in the closing shots on old Thunderbirds shows, my memories are being raided for inspiration.

Sea to Sky

The views are superb.

I'm impressed that someone had a vision and was able to make it a reality. The Sea to Sky gondola is a great achievement and yes, there are no doubt counterviews on the disturbance to the natural environment. I recognise that not everyone is going to be at one with development and I'm hoping that the Sea to Sky attraction was conceived and executed with sensitivity to the land. The ride and hikes are now well established and this was my third visit, the first in which I've been able to explore one of the less frequented, but still very tourist centric hikes. Hike 'de jour' was the Wonderland Lake loop.

The afternoon was another opportunity to break out the camera, my PEN-F with 25mm 1.8, and keep working the manual muscle. I like to think that I'm slowly starting to think in stops and shutter speeds again, as it's been many years since my only option was the fully manual Pentax K1000. Post was a few minor tweaks and cropping and, in some ways, the landscapes take care of themselves. It's difficult to make a complete mess when nature provides such an amazing canvas.

To compliment the stills I also created a 30 second video that captures a few of the moments experienced on the Wonderland Lake loop; all part of my desire to be more of a storyteller through the visual medium. There's a definite shift in how I'm viewing the world.

If you're in the area, do take time to visit the Sea to Sky gondola and soak up the views of Howe Sound.