I took eight years of French classes as a middle- and high-school student, and those courses’ textbooks inevitably had charming pictures of Parisian locales throughout. In trying to cover a wide range of French experiences, those books tended to show “everyday” life alongside the expected pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, and so I came to associate all of these images with a sort of “imaginary,” idealized Paris.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived in France and found that it looks exactly like my books.
An early winter afternoon on a Parisian street means the minimal aliquot of sunlight peaking between buildings and turning the pedestrians to silhouettes. School just let out in the 15th arrondissement and parents walk their squads of enfants home.
Hiking in the hills of Picchetti Ranch in Cupertino, views over Stevens Creek Reservoir and the Bay beyond present a classic Californian landscape. Like a postcard from the mid-twentieth century, the little shape of a kayaking fisherman in the foreground (or the people fishing at the shoreline in the background) shows an ideal Saturday afternoon.
Striking modern architecture next to industrialization-era brick and ironwork makes for a dramatic combination. It’s also the bedrock style of my favorite cities, including New York and San Francisco. In this particular image, the sport bike and the small group enjoying breakfast at front add the perfect hint of scale.
In the distance land of Portland, Oregon, urban renewal has transformed the rail yards of the Pearl District into galleries and shops and condos in towering new buildings. Doesn’t this scene look like a futuristic utopia? (Hopefully it’s not moments away from the shattering realization that it’s all built on some “Soylent Green”/”The Giver”/”Equilibrium”-esque lie.)
A quiet afternoon in the University of British Columbia’s Nitobe Memorial Garden: every path and blade of grass groomed to perfection, the sun wriggles between the leaves to dapple this narrow bridge over a lily pond. Dragonflies dart among the reeds, and the camera captures a perfect moment in time.
It may be hard to imagine that a kid that grew up in and around Seattle then went to school in Bellingham never managed to make it up to visit Vancouver, BC but somehow this describes me. Not that I never made it to Canada, I visited Victoria, BC plenty of times in high school. Now having visited I’d estimate I missed out on a lot by not visiting sooner. In the Vancouver environs is the beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia which is really something. I’d say that UBC’s campus is, in many respects, precisely what a campus should be. Here’s a college campus which is incredibly close to major metropolitan area but which has somehow managed to completely surround itself with nature.
Pictured here is a shot in the late afternoon of one of the myriad of green spaces on campus, a rose garden perched atop a parking garage. What better way is there to hide an ugly, but necessary, facility than to cover it with something people want to look at? The view of the water and mountains beyond are just bonuses as far as I’m concerned.
I know I’ve said it before but probably my favorite thing about California is the coast, and probably the folks out on the beach on this particular day would agree with me. I don’t know that I’d have the fortitude to surf the chilly waters of the northern California coast but the surf does look sort of inviting in the late afternoon.