Category Archives: Architecture

Minarets And Cupulas

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Where are Minarets and Cupulas not a world away? When you live in a city that is as culturally diverse as Toronto, they’re scattered throughout. We are fortunate to live at a point in history and in a city where everyone is welcome. This city has so much variety in terms of arts and cultural festivals, and cuisine that one might be forgiven for becoming desensitized to it all.

 

As a photographer, I often receive requests for photos of far-off exotic destinations and discover that there’s yet another location that I haven’t visited. That’s when I remind myself of how fortunate I am to have the world in my own backyard. It’s easy to forget that Toronto is an international tourist destination and that we too have wonderful landmarks that others come to visit. This summer Toronto plays host to the 2015 PanAm Games and all those shutter bugs will be pointing their cameras at us.

 

It was a Saturday morning, earlier this spring, when I’d offered to drive my daughter to a location just north of Toronto, to perform in a student film, and the fog was so thick I could barely see down the street. Anyone who knows me, knows that I usually have my camera with me, and this was one time when I’m so glad I did. I was returning home and turned a corner to find myself in Istanbul. Every time, I look at this photo of the Minaret and Cupula shrouded in the thick, early-morning fog, I’m taken far away. I imagine the rising sun filtering through the still streets of a Middle Eastern city and hear the chant of the Islamic call to prayer, pierced only by the shriek of a gull flying overhead.

 

If we don’t want this paradise to become a caricature of itself, in which culture is nothing more than a re-enactment at summer festivals, then we must be accepting, and appreciate that everything has its price. If we want to encourage the variety and richness of all, that the music and food have to offer, than we must accept the people behind the traditions and that which nourishes them.

 

We are so incredibly fortunate to have so much cultural wealth in our own backyard. Open your eyes, point your camera and be transported.

 

While you’re here, why don’t you leave a Comment and visit my Galleries.

Contact me to discuss your photographic needs.

This photograph was produced in Markham Ontario

Architectural details of Jam'e Masjid Mosque in Markham, Ontario, Canada

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Architectural details of Jam'e Masjid Mosque in Markham, Ontario, Canada

Peruvian Nights

It’s tough to put down the camera, but here I am back indoors settling in to share some photographs and paint some mental pictures as well.

In October of 2012 I received an E-mail from Sean Kelly at CUSO International to cast another tempting opportunity my way, Would I be interested in signing up for another photographic posting, this time to Peru. It had to be a trick question, because it would be like asking a hungry man, it he’d like a three course meal. I felt a little like Sally Field You like me, you really like me.

It did, however, come down to timing and the initial timeline was for departing in mid January. Not bad weather-wise, but I had to consider other family responsibilities that were pressing on me at the time. However, by mid December I’d made up my mind and the wheels were set in motion. CUSO’s greatest challenge would turn out to be finding a Journalist that would also be interested and available, and who spoke Spanish. As a result it was the end of January before they were able to confirm departure dates and who my Hardy would be, this time around.

Someone at CUSO was thinking and Annie Theriault, from San-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec who is already posted in Lima, is taking a short leave from her current assignment to work with me.

My trip from Toronto to Lima on Tacca Airlines was uneventful, with one connecting flight in San Salvador. As you might imagine I left Pearson dressed lightly with just enough to get me from the car to the terminal in -5’C. San Salvador was a sweltering, humid 30’C and Lima wasn’t much better. The saving grace was that our arrival in Lima was under the cover of night and a cool breeze was blowing in off the Pacific.

Lima is a very large city on the Pacific, built on a coastal dessert with a population approaching 9 Million inhabitants. Now consider that the number of personal vehicles has doubled in the past twenty to thirty years and you have a pretty clear picture of the traffic mayhem. It’s crazy. Now imagine that we don’t start today to build a network of subways in Toronto and you’ve got a living example of the chaos to come.

Therein lies the adventure. My first day in Lima was spent on a refresher course regarding safety & security, diseases & food concerns and how to navigate the complex system of taxis and privately run busses. However, as the work day came to an end, it was back to the apartment that I’m sharing with two other volunteers, change out of my sandals and shorts, and out to navigate the streets in Rush Hour traffic, Fun Wow! I successfully found my way to the Metropolitano an articulated-bus right-of-way that runs from Miraflores on the coast, inland to the Casco Viejo or old part of Lima, to stroll the pedestrian boulevards and take in the night life around the central square, La Plaza de Armas.

A great number of streets surrounding La Plaza de Armas, have been transformed into wonderful pedestrian boulevards, and in my experience, wherever this is done, the locals and tourists alike, flock to these people friendly areas, like flies to… bright lights. There was a military band playing in the square, vendors hawking everything from children’s toys to cell phone covers, families with young children, teenagers holding hands, old men lining up for a shoe shine, woman arm in arm recounting their day’s challenges and the lovers. Ahh!! the lovers, taking over the benches and seemingly oblivious to the human traffic surrounding them, aware only of each others eyes. It’s the same everywhere. We are so much more alike than we are different.

For all our orderly by-laws and regulated urban planning, we have a lot to learn about humanizing our large urban centres, from places far more chaotic, like Lima. We could have the best of both worlds, if only there were the vision, the political will and the passion to see it through.

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Allan Gardens & Conservatory

It’s been a while, since I posted anything, but I’ve been dedicating more time to the Art Of Photography and it’s time to share. We all derive inspiration in different ways and from different, sometimes, unexpected places. I’ve yet to find my muse, but while I await her arrival, I know enough to pick myself up, push myself out the door and soak in the sights around me. Hey, you know, there might be a tune in there.

A number of years ago, I was stopped on the street by a young woman with a clipboard, with the task of gathering a list of names of people to play as extras in a movie that was to be filmed in Toronto. After the usual contact details, she asked, although I didn’t understand why, where I’d gone to High School, to which I replied David & Mary Thompson. She already knew I lived in Scarborough, and wondered out loud, why it was that so many of the Schools in Scarborough, were named after people. I remarked that it wasn’t that unusual and being curious, asked where she’d gone to school, to which she replied Jarvis Collegiate… like the street. Well ya! but the street was named after Samuel Jarvis, the Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Upper Canada (1837-1845), and a member of the Family Compact.

All this to say that these photographs were produced at Allan Gardens and Conservatory, located on Jarvis Street, which is a wonderful throwback to the Victorian period in Toronto’s history. The Buildings still conjure up the sensation of the period, but the grounds could use a little tender-loving-care. Want to see more photographs from Allan Gardens, or visit my Photo Essays to see other collections

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