The world’s smallest bookshop…

bookshop

I’m not one of those people who gets all excited by the world’s biggest this or that — the tallest building, the hugest cruise ship, yadda yadda.

I’ve always been more inclined toward the “small is beautiful” mentality. So I was totally charmed when driving along Highway 503 about 100 miles northeast of Toronto (near Kinmount, Ontario) one day a few weeks ago, I saw a sign for “the world’s smallest bookshop”!

I had to stop and check this out. Not only is it teeny tiny (10 by 10 feet), but it’s open 24 hours a day, and has no staff. All books are $3 and it’s totally operated on the honour system. What a little gem!

I didn’t have much time to take photos since we were on a mission to buy a dinghy in Midland, Ontario and we had a 10-hour drive to cover. But I managed to snap a few before jumping back into the truck.

Evidently I was not the only one who was delighted to find such a sweet little place in the countryside, because there were lots of appreciative notes pinned up all over the place.

I found out later it is a labour of love on the part of Gord and June Daniels. I wish I had time to meet them, but perhaps next time. I know I’ll be back.

bookshop2A handout available at the shop reads:

Why I love Books

1) Books are silent.

2) Books do not require hydro.

3) Books do not interrupt.

4) Books open easily — no switches or remotes.

5) Books can be shut up easily anytime.

6) Books cannot be offended.

7) Books do not talk back.

8) Books do not demand T.L.C. — but get it anyway.

9) Books do not require food or water.

10) Books will not feel neglected.

11) Books will not send you on a guilt trip if you lose interest or ignore them.

12) Books never require medical attention.

13) Books do not have commercials.

14) A book does not go into a snit if you look at another book.

15) A book won’t mind if you are reading more than book at a time.

 

The perfect oatmeal cookie…


cookies3

I don’t know about you, but when the cool weather rolls in, I yearn for homemade treats.

And when I’m wishing I was back in New York, taking pictures, I distract myself by baking.

Cookies.

cookiesGIlr

But not just any cookies. Oatmeal cookies.

They can’t be too soft or too doughy or too hard. They must be thin and light and buttery and crispy and chewy. A tall order for sure.

And I tried many a recipe until I found the perfect one. And if you’ve ever had the same problem, I will share it with you.

You can whip up a batch in no time at all — and even feel somewhat smug that they contain whole grains and aren’t as unhealthy as many other cookies. I also add a bit of ground flaxseed to the mix, which makes the cookies even more wholesome.

Get the recipe here.

And if you’re ever in need of distraction, give them a try.

On the move in New York City…

New York City bus
 When I’m in New York, I just want to walk down the street and feel this thing, like I’m in a movie.
Ryan Adams
peopleon the move

Under Bethesda Terrace

One of the things I love most about New York is the energy and movement. Walking, cycling (if you’re insane), driving (if you’re insane), riding buses, subways, taxis and carriages — even sailing — people around you are always going somewhere. And if you only have a few days, you want to be going somewhere — everywhere — too!

Laid out on a grid system, New York is one of the easiest large cities in the world to get around in. We generally walk, and walk and then walk some more. But I’ve also figured out how to get to places like Brooklyn and the Cloisters way north near Harlem by subway and bus without too much trouble.

And here’s what happens when you stop for a moment to figure out where you are and where you’re going next — a New Yorker stops to ask if they can help you find something.

It happened twice this trip and it’s happened every single time I’ve travelled to New York previously —  all 11 or 12 trips!

I agree with Bill Murray:

My favorite thing about New York is the people, because I think they’re misunderstood. I don’t think people realize how kind New York people are.

This time a kind woman approached us in Central Park as we were finishing up our photography for the day. And a sweet male cyclist came up to us as we were stopped in Times Square looking at the Jumbotron.

Yes, New Yorkers are always moving, but some do take time to stop to help travellers.

 

Central Park in Black and White and in Colour

central park boaters copy

Last fall, I did a 7-part series in this blog featuring images of New York. It’s such a visually rich city and I had such a good time shooting it that I was thrilled to have the chance to make another trip this fall.

Last year I signed up for a photo safari called “Iconic New York.” It was a great fun to discover key spots in Midtown Manhattan with fellow photographers and get tips to improve my photo skills. You can read more about it here.

Me and my sister on the Bow Bridge. Photo by Rob, Photo Safari leader.

As I was going to be travelling with my sister Elena this time, who enjoys photography as much as I do, I suggested we sign up for another safari — this time in Central Park, a place we both love.

Ever since my very first trip to New York back in the early 80s, I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of Central Park. I appreciate its enormity, its diversity, its intelligent and beautiful design and the way it is open and accessible to everyone.

Public green spaces are vital to liveable city life — and Central is one of the most exceptional examples in the world of how that works. New Yorkers love it — and so do visitors from all over the world.

Our group met at the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace and concentrated our first shots around that area. Leader Rob, a professional photographer, offered useful pointers and suggestions before and after we made our images. I particularly enjoyed discussing composition with him. He gave us demos and also gave us plenty of time to wander on our own.

There were four of us in the group, which turned out to be very congenial — two Canadians (my sister and I) and a man from Australia and a woman from New Zealand.

We then gathered under the arches and practised shooting in low light and high dynamic range situations.

After that we moseyed on to the Bow Bridge, which proved to be a great vantage point for shooting the boaters on the Lake and the Loeb Boathouse. The day had been forecast to be rainy, but we did not get one drop. It turned out to be gorgeous with lovely light.

Before we parted 2 1/2 hours later, we also spent some time in the famous tree-lined Mall.

Elena and I spent the rest of the day continuing to explore areas of the park we hadn’t been before (such as the Ramble) as well as returning to spend more time around the Bethesda Fountain.

This is where I made some of my favorite images — and happened to look up just at the right time to catch a young couple ready to kiss. It was a “decisive moment” as Cartier-Bresson would say.

The whole area was packed with people taking pictures and enjoying themselves and the excellent free entertainment. It was obviously a magnet for romantic wedding pictures as everywhere we went we saw brides and grooms posing together. To get my images with fewer people in them, I had to be patient and wait for just the right time.

The colours in stone and tile work under the Terrace are beautifully soft and subtle, which makes for lovely colour pictures, but the stone arches and interesting architecture and light also suits black and white photography perfectly.

So I did both.

It was a still a bit early in the season for the really vibrant fall foliage (not to self: go a bit later in the fall next time), but there was enough of a change to make the background scenery pop a bit.

I found that alternating between my wide angle zoom (24 to 85 mm) and my telephoto zoom (70 to 200 mm) gave me a good variety of focal lengths to capture the images I was drawn to.

These are only a small group of my images of Central Park, as you can imagine. I just may have to do another post on this very special place!

smooch

I surprised myself by being fast enough to capture this “decisive moment”.

arches band

The Terrace arches in black and white.

bride

With their beautiful light, couples flock to the Bethesda Arches for wedding pictures.

bubbles

These giant bubbles must have looked magical to the little ones. Hey, they looked magical to me!

boathouseLR

The Loeb Boathouse reflected in the waters of the still Lake.

elena

My sister focusses her camera on some of the beautiful details of the Arches.

sherry and rob

Elena took this one of me and Rob discussing a shot.

Inside each of us…

astor hall

astor hall

Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.

Mary Oliver

I just returned from a rejuvenating trip to New York City. I love that city with an inexplicable passion, and have ever since I first travelled there in the early 80′s. And it’s a feeling that has come back each of the 12 or 13 times since then.

I went this time, for many reasons, but partly to make images. In every location we visited, others were taking pictures too. Now, many of these pics were no doubt travel snapshots and the ubiquitous selfies that are taken to prove to friends you went somewhere…

But I think the urge to photograph New York goes deeper than that. Everywhere you look in New York, there is so much visual richness and energy. I am convinced that visitors reach for their cameras and phones in an effort (not always totally conscious) to try to capture and take home some of the beauty and awe they experience.

At least I know I do.

This was taken in the magnificent Astor Hall of the New York Public Library.

Connected in the deep…

chimney island

We are like islands…separate on the surface but connected in the deep.

William James

The place of quiet…

fence coverislandmisty dawnsmall island

oter scene

Serenity is found not only in a quiet place but in the place of quiet within.

Diane Varner

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