Travel Theme: Faces

This week at Where’s My Backpack, the travel theme is Faces. I’m not one to take too many portraits of strangers when I travel but sometimes manage from afar or don’t feel as self conscious if the person is performing in some way.  Faces are everywhere, and not just on your fellow humans. Art based on portraits is standard issue. Pretty much all animals, insects, birds and sealife has a face of some sort.

This first photo was taken through a shop window on Ile St. Louis in Paris. There is the shop worker, and little statues of angels, and look closely and you can see all sorts of items in the display with faces.  There are eyes, eyes everywhere!!!!

Shop in Paris

In the Tower of London there was a display of carved wooden heads of kings and queens.

Henry VIII and (I think) Charles I, Tower of London

Next, back to Paris again in the Dali museum in Montmartre. “Him indoors” loves Dali’s art!

Graham and Salvador, Paris

We discovered an exhibit in the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal about Napoleon, from a private collection, a few years ago.

Bust of Napoleon, Montreal

And finally, from a local celebration (“Mawio’mi”) held by the Mi’kmaq First Nations, a very fierce looking warrior

Elaborate and traditional dress, Mi’kmaq Mawio’mi

Travel Theme: Laughter

The next photo challenge is Ailsa’s travel challenge – Laughter.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit shy to take photos of strangers while on the road. Thus, the first two of these photos are not really about laughter but they could be! Animals have such expressive faces and in both cases, they looked like they were having a blast!

Come on in, the water’s great! London Zoo

Young elephants wrestling in the mud, clearly enjoying themselves. Chester Zoo

And just for fun, me and my pal T. getting wet at the Rolling Stones concert, Halifax 2007

 

 

A Word A Week – Companion

This week’s Word a Week challenge is Companion. What would we do without companions? We are social beings that live together in cities and towns and villages. We talk together, we hang out together. We spend time together. We may not be with someone else all the time but it’s nice to know there’s someone out there to connect with. It doesn’t even have to be another human. Animals and pets can be wonderful companions. They don’t judge, they listen, (we’re not sure they understand but I think animals can pick up on your mood regardless of their comprehension of what we’re saying).  Even animals need company. Very few animals or birds are singular, loners. That “Lone Wolf” is usually the exception to the rule. Here, then are some photos showing companionship from my archives.

A Manchester Terrier about to be put through his paces

A pair of very stern looking eagles. Nova Scotia Wildlife Park.

In the UK, Dogs are allowed in pubs. You see this commonly in smaller towns and country pubs like this one in Coniston, The Lake District

In another country pub in England, though these companions don’t seem to be enjoying each other’s company.

Kids hang out in packs.

And lastly, my own companion for life. In the Latin Quarter in Copenhagen a few years ago

A Word A Week – Traditional

It’s that time of the week again when Sue at A Word in Your Ear posts a random word for a photo challenge. I can almost never pick just one photo and this is no different. This week’s challenge word is “Traditional”.

I’m lucky to live in a city with lots of history. We are a sea port and Halifax was founded as a military establishment originally. We have a citadel fort on a hill overlooking the city, the fourth structure on that spot since the city was founded in 1749 but it has never fired a gun in aggression or defence.

There is a tradition of firing the gun off at noon every day, though. You could set your watch by it! The fort also has a regiment of infantry foot, a reenactment group representing the original regiment stationed at the fort in 1869 – 1871. They are the 78th Highlanders and there is also a pipe and drum band for the 78th as well. If you visit the Citadel you can see the infantry drills and hear the music of the pipes and drums.

Another tradition that is still kept is a ceremony every summer in front of City Hall, on the spot that has long been a Grand Parade Square (though much smaller than it was when the city was founded). The 78th Highlanders are ceremonially given the Freedom of the City by proclamation of the Mayor. They march from the Citadel down the hill to the parade square for a public ceremony. That’s pretty interesting to watch, as well.

For a number of years, there were Highland Games held in Halifax though they haven’t been held for the last few years. Lack of funding, I fear. Highland Games are a very long standing tradition in Scotland and are also held other places around the world. In addition to the games themselves, you would see music, traditional folk dancing and see lots of booths and displays from the various clans. The town of Antigonish in Nova Scotia still does have a weekend long Highland Games festival and one of these years, I’m going to go.

Here are some photos of local Highland Games and the 78th Highlanders. There’s a video of them in drill formation here.  And there’s a video of one of the participants tossing a caber here. It’s quite something to see.

Freedom of the City for the 78th Highlanders

78th Highlander Drill Team

78th Highlander pipe and drum band

Highland Games – Hammer Toss

Getting ready to toss the caber, a long pole that has to be thrown end over end in a straight line

This is how long the caber is

Clan MacLeod with an impressive set of whiskers

Highland dancing competition

Happy – The word of the week

Place Jacques Cartier, Montreal

Sue’s weekly word challenge this week is Happy.

I’m happy. I hesitate to say it out loud sometimes because I fear I could jinx things. There’s also that old adage “Be careful what you wish for” that might come into play as well. But I am.

I like my job and it provides me the means to do some traveling and gives me financial stability and a pension.

I have a great family, both immediate and extended. We all get along and we all like each other as well as love each other. That’s not always that common. There’s never been any family feuds. That’s amazing! I’m really looking forward to my niece’s wedding in August.

3musketeersNEW
I have great friends far and near. As one faraway friend said to me yesterday when we both confessed that we were not great in keeping in touch more often that we know our friendship doesn’t need daily feeding to be solid. So true.

I have a talented fiance who writes me a song every Christmas and draws awesome caricatures for my birthdays. We’re starting to put wedding plans together, too.

I really like where I get to live, near the ocean in a nice city that’s not too big and not too small.

This year’s Travel Happy includes a quick visit to Montreal to see my all time favourite band Queen and a road trip to New England in September.

WordPress Challenge – “Split Second”

WordPress’s weekly challenge is titled “Split Second”. Show a picture that tells a story in the one frame. Candid shots and street photography are often good for that. Here’s a few of my favourites, some I have used before in other challenges.

New York Public Library.

Shopped til they dropped

Curiosity

Age has nothing to do with how much you love to dance. Joe Murphy’s Blues Band on stage

Feed the birds, Tuppence a day. Green Park, London

Lost Mittens. He looked a bit lost himself.

Adding interest to travel photos

Feeding the pigeons in January in London’s Green Park.

I had a comment on a recent post regarding this photo of a woman feeding the birds in Green Park, London. She said that she loved to watch people feeding birds in parks and watching the reactions of children. My response was “It’s for moments like this that I try to keep my camera in my hand as much as possible even when just walking through a park or down the street. These are the photos that add more memories and more interest to the travel photos than just buildings or famous sites which I take in abundance, of course, and I realized I had a good topic for a blog  post.

I take lots of photos of lots of things when I travel. I like to take photos of the famous things I see like the Eiffel Tower or the canals of Amsterdam or the Colosseum in Rome. I take photos of nice buildings or beautiful landscapes. I also like to take photos of close up details like doors and windows, carved moldings and details on statues, the overall and the in detail views. My trips are full of memories of architecture, gardens, landscapes, sometimes people.

But the thing is, people do add so much to a photo. It can really help tell the story. Most photographers that give you tips on how to take great travel photos advise you to take photos of local people and ask first, of course, offering to give them a copy if you can. I have done it but rarely. I have to admit, I’m a bit shy to ask to take a photo of a person in a shop or a market stall or other similar situations. When I have photos of people in my travel pictures, they’re generally taken from a distance, an angle or from the back, with the zoom lens rather than as a portrait face-on. I don’t take too many photos of children where their faces are identifiable because I know parents aren’t comfortable with that.

Travel photos of buildings and statues or landscape vistas, etc, are only half the story. The random photos of something in a market stall, or a shop window display, a funny sign, an odd looking vehicle, the night lights, or of someone feeding the birds in a park, people flogging merchandise to tourists on a bus, those are all travel memories, too. Performers, someone demonstrating a craft, a guide, people in parades, all of those expect their photo to be taken and I do. I do try to take photos with people in them, even if just anonymous crowds on the street. I’d love to take portraits of a colourful market stall owner, or a friendly restaurante server, but I never seem to have the nerve to ask them outright. Thus, the clandestine shot from 20 or 30 feet away which isn’t always as good, even cropped in closer.

The other thing I do is try to keep my camera, a point and shoot style, in my hand or in an outside pocket as much as possible when we’re out walking around. Moments like the bird feeder shot come up quickly as you stroll by. P&S cameras can take a pretty good photo quickly rather than  having to stop and fuss with the exposure and focus and lose the moment. If at an event with action like sports or a fast moving street performer I will sometimes put my camera on the setting that will take multiple shots in a row. You might get a lot of motion blurry ones but it can also get a shot of something that you might otherwise miss. And having a bit of motion blur in the photo can add to it, not take away from it. Don’t discard it just because of that.

Here is a gallery of some of my people shots. Some are street performers or craft demonstrators and thus were aware of the camera. Some were candids. The one of the lady serving tea outside the church in Lostwithiel could have been so much better had a asked her if I could take her photo. She would have been looking at the camera and, one would hope, smile, surrounded by her tea cups and silver urn and cakes. Maybe next time.

Travel Theme: Connections

Where’s My Backpack’s travel theme this week is “Connections”.  Anyone that travels makes connections, whether it be for transportation, or for the people you meet. You might make a spiritual connection to a location as well, a place in which you really feel at home. Connections can be made on an emotional level as well.

Piccadilly Station concourse (via the Manchester Evening News)

Piccadilly Station concourse (via the Manchester Evening News)

I met the man I’m currently engaged to in an online chat room for fans of Coronation Street, a British serial, the longest running on television today. He lives in Salford, UK which is in the Greater Manchester Area. We really made a connection over the airwaves and when we met up face to face, on July 12, 2004, it took a plane and a train connection to get there. I flew to London and a few days later, took a train (though I missed the first one because the signs at the platforms weren’t obvious as to which was the arrival from Manchester and which was the departure) to Piccadilly station. We met in the concourse. It really felt like time stood still. A cliche, yes, but that’s what it seemed like.

He still lives there and we travel back and forth, trading visits alternately. For me to fly to Manchester, I have to make a connection in London Heathrow most of the time though have had to route through Toronto once in awhile. That’s frustrating when you have to fly 2 hours backwards to go forwards, whether I fly past Halifax to come back or fly west to Toronto to fly east to London. It’s a connection we gladly do without if we can help it. We then usually travel somewhere onward, by car, train or plane.

Speaking of Coronation Street, in addition to a fiance,  I’ve made many, many wonderful connections with new friends who are fans of the show. We have fan gatherings, called “pings”, and if someone travels to your home town, often there is a ping organized so you can meet and chat with the local fans, many of whom you may know from the various boards and forums.  There have been international gatherings organized in Manchester, the home of Coronation Street, where fans/friends who connected via the internet have met up and enjoyed hanging out together and even been lucky enough to visit the television studio where the show is filmed. Good times!

Corrie fans at the Cafe (Roys Rolls, Coronation Street set, 2010)

Corrie fans at the Cafe (Roys Rolls, Coronation Street set, 2010)

A Word a Week Challenge – Old

A Word in Your Ear’s weekly challenge this week is “old”.

“Old” is a loaded word. People don’t like to be called “old” but they shouldn’t mind it. With age comes experience, respect and a better sense of who you are. You have stories to tell. You have seen and done a lot, made mistakes, hopefully learned from them and can pass on advice, whether it’s taken or not. Think of all the amazing things you’ve seen in your life and all the people you have touched and whose lives have touched yours.

Getting old isn’t for sissies, either. It takes stamina. Things don’t work the way they used to and it’s hard learning to depend on people. There can be a loss of independence. There’s a lot of loss, full stop as you start to lose loved ones.

Here are some portraits I’ve taken over the years of people I’ve known, met or just seen on the streets. They are people that have endured. Some are no longer with me. Some I remember with a smile and a tear. Some were complete strangers but their vitality and grace drew my camera their way.

Let’s start with family, first. You will notice the common denominator here is humour and laughter. We’re like that :)

My father. Enjoyed Christmas.

My mother. Chilly, in Leeds Castle, England

My aunt and uncle, siblings to my dad

My uncle, my dad’s twin

The following were strangers to me, people I’ve seen while people watching.

There’s a lot of life in the old dancing shoes yet

Old friends enjoy the summer sunshine

Father and son “down the pub” for a chat and a visit with friends.

I think of these men who could not walk the streets together, dressed like this, earlier in their lives. It makes me happy to see them be who they are in the face of the world.

The older generation make sure the traditions live on.