Stu Hodgson - A Gracious & Tall Man
Saturday, December 19, 2015
I have photographed many politicians, CEOs, etc but one of
the most gracious in my memory was Stu Hodgson. I knew him as head of the BC
Ferries Corporation. I was assigned to photograph him by Vancouver Magazine
many years ago. I met up with him in transit to Victoria. He was very tall and
looking down on me with a big smile he asked me, “How do you like my ferry?”
Coming from this man it was not presumptuous in the least. He was genuinely proud
of his ships.
About ten years after I photographed him I saw him gassing up at a station on 41st and Granville. He spotted me and came up to me and asked me,"How are you Alex?"
Vancouver's Cold Tap Water & Alienating Disposition
Friday, December 18, 2015
Walking with my granddaughter Lauren, 13 to my car near a
shopping centre a tall, blonde woman was opening her car door with a plant in
her hand. Since I was near her I said, “Is that a phalaenopsis?” She answered, “No,
it’s and orchid.”
So I said, “That’s
what that orchid is called.”
and coldly said, “If you knew, why did you ask me?”
While at the Dunbar Public Library (while my family lined
up at the Dunbar Theatre for the lastest Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I noticed that a woman was
toying in taking out the DVD The Theory of Everything. Next to it on the shelf was The
Imitation Game. I told her, “If you think you will like that one you will also
like The Theory of Everything.” Her answer was, “No, I’m not interested.”
Tonight I watched the first 10 minutes of Under the Skin
with Scarlet Johansson. I found it bleak, alienating and immediately realized
that this was a film I would not see.
The two encounters with the women and Under the Skin all
made me feel enajenado and (to stress the point) away from a much needed human contact. Even
Lauren had told me, “The woman with that orchid was rude.”
As we prepare ourselves with our slow move to eventually live in our more compact quarters I attempted to chat with what will be our new
neighbour. Our neighbour is in the front part of the duplex that faces the
street. Both our neighbour’s house number and ours are hidden by a very tall
bamboo. I asked if it would be possible for me to put a sign in the front by
the sidewalk. My neighbour’s answer was, “Definitely not, if people want to
find you they will.”
I recall that when we first arrived from Mexico in 1975
some new friends had invited us to stop by one evening. I asked my Rosemary, “What
is an after-dinner-drink?” It was then I came to the conclusion that the
residents of Vancouver were as cold as their tap water.
This lack of warmth has rarely dissipated in our years
here. And this is most noticeable in the always bleak and rainy November when it gets dark early.
Because we are moving we have been looking at interior
decoration magazines, Ikea catalogues, Crate & Barrel catalogues, etc. All but a few
feature spartan, black or white, furniture with mostly straight lines. The
kitchens look like some high tech version of a morgue.The pictures on the wall ooze ice.
I wonder if this new age of keying in or touching screens
for communication and entertainment has affected our ability to laugh, feel,
have passion and warmth towards other human beings in the flesh?
I perused my extensive files of photographs looking for one that would illustrate my present feeling. I waded through portraits of my granddaughters, all mostly looking sad or serious. But this one of my daughter Alexandra Elizabeth taken some years ago at La Conner, Washington seems to be just about perfect. Every time I mention to Ale (as we call her) that she has in inherently sad face she protests. Ale was born in Mexico and unlike her younger sister Hilary who is as cheerful as her name, she is very Mexican in her ways. We lived in Mexico for many years and I found many of its inhabitants fatalistic and sad.
Esperanza & A Magnolia grandiflora
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
|Magnolia at the National Gallery, Washington, DC
Knowing more than one language has its advantages. Knowing
several versions of those languages has its advantages, too. In my case when I
speak English I can choose from my Anglo/Argentine heritage where to go
to the camp
means to go to the country. Then through my Filipino heritage I
can accept the plural of furniture and say, “I have many furnitures.” Or in my
Texan English I can pronounce a writing pen, a frying pan, a straight pin all
in the same way while stating that I am going to the theatre (rhymes with
In Spanish I have to think if I am talking to Argentine
cousins, Mexican friends or Spanish relatives. In Cuba if you ask for papaya
for breakfast you will either get snickers or shocking silence. The word for a
pack (of cigarettes in Mexico) is an unmentionable in my Argentina.
But the best part, and sometime troubling one about this
several language and dialect thing is that in these later years of my life I
explore the meanings of words, their origin and how a word in one language can
have a different root.
Faith, hope and charity translate into fe, esperanza y
. It is that middle word, beautiful if you pronounce it right, that has
a meaning that enlarges on the idea of hope in English. To wait in Spanish is
with its root from Latin sperāre.
So the idea of hope in
Spanish has that lovely connection to waiting.
Some years ago when I was the photo editor for a book about
Vancouver that was being put together in Memphis I was dealing with an art
director who was a devout Protestant. He insisted I go to church with him one
Sunday. On the way to the service I spotted a Magnolia grandiflora
(commonly called a Southern Magnolia). It was
in bloom. I asked my church-going companion to stop. I got out and lowered a
branch to smell the very large and thick-petalled flower. After a prolonged
sniff I told him, I am off to have a coffee. I have already been to church.
In my three trips to Washington DC
I have always made it a
point to seek out the very large Magnolia grandiflora
on the front of the
Capitol. Some say that it was already large when Lincoln was inaugurated.
The magnolia was one of the first of the flowering trees and
it grew at a time when very large plant eating dinosaurs would nibble on them.
I presently have about 85 roses in my garden. Some are
deliciously fragrant and complex at the same time. But I must admit that they
all pale when compared to the Magnolia grandiflora.
Some 15 years ago I purchased a smaller growing magnolia
called ‘Little Gem’. I planted it and we have waited in vain for it to bloom.
This tree needs lots of hot sun so when I placed it near a very large pine on
my neighbour’s side I must have doomed it.
|Daniel Carrea & King Noupa
Two weeks ago I began to dig a trench around it and then I
watered it lots to moisten the soil, which was very dry being under the canopy
of the pine. I attempted to move the trunk this way and that way. After a few
days there was some give. So just a few days ago, on Monday two burly guys,
King Noupa (from Cameroon) and Daniel Carrera (from Monterey, Mexico) dug the
magnolia out and put it into their truck. Both Carrera and Noupa work for
Climbing Vine Gardens, We had hired the company to remove most of the shrubs
and tree from the deck garden of our new house so we can install our own. My
Rosemary came up with the splendid idea of perhaps taking the magnolia.
Carrera drove slowly so as not to damage and branches. Once
we got the garden they dug a hole. Then both Carrera and Noupa took turns in
holding the tree and twirling it around until we decided what was the right
side. Into the hole they put in three bags of Sea Soil that Rosemary buys at
the Shop-in-the-Garden the UBC Botanical Garden plus a bucket of our very own
and very rich soil from our garden. We watered it well.
We made the comment that the magnolia appears to always been
where it is.
And I live in the esperanza that this summer it will bloom,
Albert Galindo - Dancer - Inaugurates My Micro Studio Part II
Monday, December 14, 2015
Few of my fellow photographers understand my method of
using more than one camera for one subject.
In the days of magazine or annual report assignments that
were one shot deals where you could not return so what was in the camera had to
be a sure thing I started that multiple camera technique. Part of it was to
take two of everything. Two flashes, double batteries, two exposure/flash
meters and so on.
But one of the rewards of the above method is that two
similar pictures taken by two cameras will always be different. Those who swear
by a digital camera (what would happen and it does, if the storage card would
become corrupted?). These one shot photographers (who might take hundreds)
often tell me that if I shoot RAW I can convert a colour picture to b+w or I
can add more contrast. I argue that all versions will be a variant of one.
In inaugurating my little studio with dancer Albert
Galindo I shot with my Fuji X-E and with my Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD. With the
latter camera I used Fuji Instant Film in colour and in b+w. I also used one
roll of Kodak T-Max 100 IS0 film which I will be processing shortly.
As an example of the technique compare the scan of the
Fuji b+w print with the one here from the Fuji X-E1. You might like one or the
other but it is important to note that they are different.
The mirror shot (taken in our minuscule guest bathroom)
is a continuation of my series of selfies where I also include my subjects.
Before this one the guest bathroom in our Athlone home
has been the one or in
whatever bathroom of a restaurant that I can find!
Albert Galindo - Dancer - Inaugurates My Micro Studio
Sunday, December 13, 2015
|Albert Galindo - December 12, 2015
Today Saturday (this blog is being posted for tomorrow
Sunday) I inaugurated my new micro studio in our house on 7th Avenue
and Trutch. The house has little furniture as we are moving in slowly. But as
of today the studio is operational.
My family and friends guessed (wrongly!) that my subject
would be of the female kind and that she would have been in some state of
undrapery. The fact is that my subject, Albert Galindo is the young and
exciting male dancer who graduated from Arts Umbrella last year. He is an
apprentice at Ballet BC and is hoping he will be hired on contract next year.
Galindo is from Barcelona and is half French and half Catalonian.
He has the manners that you would expect of a European from Spain. His diction
is perfect and like all graduates of Arts Umbrella he can indulge in
conversation with ease and aplomb.
I was most excited that he accepted to pose for me. What
you see here is a scan of our first Fuji Instant B+W (3200 ISO print film)
which alas has been discontinued. I have kept a few boxes for special subjects
Galindo is a very good dancer. And I have seen many in my
years. But additionally (and this is important) he has a presence. It is that
double combination that makes him the one you watch on stage when surrounded by
Thank you Albert for posing for me and for launching my
little studio in what I hope is an exciting future.