Killer* Bee

Killer* Bee

This thing was so huge. I mean check out all those thighs! It was like a thumb with wings.

A Killer.

But that was me, almost. The bee landed in front of my friend, parked but at the wheel of a Modo shared truck. Retreating to the passenger seat after taking a closer look across the cab, my arm struck a lever I didn’t see – the front wiper control. Immediately, the blades leapt into action, the rubber unnecessarily wiping – and fast! – across the pristine windshield. The bee didn’t see it coming. Wham! It’s on the wiper, now it’s on the bottom of the windshield. The wiper is coming back for another hit. Boom. It can’t take another one and in the nick of time, the lever is struck, upwards. Following two strong sorties the blades are put to rest.

The big bee lay motionless, legs askew and frumpled. It’s gone from this world, I thought sadly, and yet still in astonishment over the initial notice of this absolute unit of a bee, seconds before. After such admiration and excitement on my part to get a glimpse of a true insect specimen, right there behind the glass, millimeters within touch — I killed it. There it was, taking its last tiny breath, sweet like honey I’m sure.

Sigh.

Wait! The bee stirs. It’s up! It’s alive and it’s flying straight away and across the street. On a level plane, not stunned at all. On a level plane, yes, but windshield height. It’s a 3-way-plus-alley kind of place, traffic can come from any direction. It’s up to luck now. The bee seems to hone in on a target across the way and, ahem, bee lines at speed. Out of sight, away from this danger and onto a new bee danger I will never know. As for me, I was amazed at this bee not once, but twice today and within seconds. But right there in between, for just a fraction of a moment in time, when a bee and a human interact through glass and mechanical device — a little hint of mortality and humbleness to be human and able to kill at will. Just to keep things interesting.


Related: You’re Gonna Get Some Hop-Ons

Specimen 300

An abandoned umbrella along Hastings Street, Vancouver.

Three Hundred #umbrellalostalone

You were always there for me when I needed you most.
Now the need is gone, and so are you…

Here is it, specimen number three hundred in my ongoing series: Umbrella: Lost, Alone.

Spotted at night in the neighbourhood where many of my lost umbrella shots were taken. I waited a moment for the passing bus and boom, #300 was in the bag.

Where to go from here? 365 for a full year’s worth of abandoned brollies? Yes. Then onto the next milestone! People tell me they don’t see an abandoned umbrella without thinking of me, some even show me their own finds from the streets. I love it. I’ll continue to bag brollies as long as the rain comes down. Here in Vancouver, there’s endless opportunity.

Follow along on instagram with my project hashtag: #umbrellalostalone

See where it all began on flickr, the original (and ongoing) set with alternate takes.

Or scroll the complete set of 300, with more to come, on my website’s umbrella page.

Hastings & Abbott, Vancouver, December 18, 2019.

Putting Words to Music: 2019 Top Tunes

Halloween cabaret...

Photo:  Dave Niddrie (0095c)

I’ve been doing a lot more writing lately and figured I’d start sharing some of it on this here blog. To kick that off, and carry on a tradition going back to the early 00s, I’m writing up my favourite tunes of the year. If you know me even a little bit, you’ll know music is a lifelong obsession of mine. I’m always on the hunt for new sounds, unheralded gems, lesser-known artists and I tend to follow a musical family tree as far back (and forward) as I can. Yep, I’m restless. I can find good stuff within almost all genres, but I have a strong distaste for top 40 radio pop. Sure, I love a good banger every now and then, but to get any depth out of this artform, I look deeper, push further and open my ears with curiosity. I hope you find something just for you, too – enjoy. (more…)

The Silence Between

It may take a few minutes to decipher these images. Layers of sediment, leaf canopy, floating leaves and underwater soil combine in this natural abstraction of a trail side puddle. If you look carefully, you can even see between the layers – the dark water suspending all manner of organics. Like Claude Debussy remarked: The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between. I’m definitely ‘seeing’ some silence in these. What do you see?

Taken on the shores of Mohun Lake near Campbell River, BC.

A State of Surveillance

A series looking at being looked at. Eyes in the sky, on the side of a building, atop a vendor’s stall, or in a Buddhist Temple. Some urban environments are practically impossible to maneuver through without being recorded. In Taichung the camera peers out from unexpected places. Spot the cameras in these images and wonder if you’d have seen them in real life. Once I started to see a few, I started to see a lot.

For more from Taiwan, check my digital brief here.

Taiwan, 2015.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

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Walking to the photo studio on a blue sky morning means I need to budget some extra time to literally stop and smell the flowers. Factor in the occasional photograph along the way, too, and my commute has stretched out a little bit. Stroll the side streets of Mount Pleasant and you’ll find a new scene opens up on each block. Here are a couple iPhone snaps from one such morning — the low angle of spring light, the magnolias caught mid-bloom and a skyfall of floral worms from a pollinating tree overhead. Behind it all, homes, vehicles, streets…urban life, in plain sight.

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The Ghosts of Transit Past

Vintage BC trolley buses on display at Sandon, BC.Have you ever been to Sandon, BC? It’s not exactly a place you happen upon. Ascending into the Selkirk range from the town of New Denver on Slocan Lake, it’s just a short jaunt up Carpenter Creek. The town is one of BC’s most famous ghost towns, not bad for a province with hundreds of ’em! I have a bit of a thing for these places, like Phoenix near Greenwood, BC. Like many others, Sandon has a rich history of mining and pioneering, and with that came brothels, bars and 5000 residents all vying for a piece of that mineral pie. There was even a battle for railroad supremacy, complete with sabotage and scandal! Within 20 years, however, the boom went to bust and the rest is history.

Somewhere along the way, a few decommissioned electric trolley buses from Vancouver found a home in the open air of this (mostly) abandoned place. Maintained by Hal Wright, one of Sandon’s only residents, these ‘Brills’ date back to the 40s and have become a magnet for curiousity seekers and history/transit buffs. I’d been hearing about this place for a few years and finally had a visit. The location is very nice, tucked into a tight valley with towering green all around. Classic Kootenays! The buses were right there on the side of the road, an open-air museum as they are slowly restored and kept in shape. There seems to be a lot to do on that front! Didn’t make it into the museum, and it’s best to check if/when it’s open before visiting. The texture & colour of rusted metal, weather-worn wood and vintage design hits all the marks for me, I could have spent a full day photographing here. There is also an old ‘iron horse’ dating to 1908 if trains are your thing – the Steam Locomotive 6947 in all it’s black beauty.

If you decide to go, bring your hiking boots and take the winding road up and out of town to approach Idaho Peak, an incredible ridge walk taking you up to the peak and a lookout with 360-degree views of the Kootenays. Lakes, mountains, and meadows as far as the eye can see. It really is something to behold.

Sandon, BC.

(click the first image below to view them all larger – recommended!)

A Spring Day Along The Cheakamus

This was no day to leave the sunglasses behind. Sandra and I took a trip up the Sea to Sky last weekend to soak up some of this unusually hot sunshine. We found a nice spot along the Cheakamus River and did the day up right: hammock nap, head dunks in the river, campfire veggie dogs ‘n’ slaw, afternoon bocce through the forest, more dogs on the fire, an exciting visit from two actual dogs — Sprocket and Ned — who must live nearby and, as the sun began to descend, a stoked up fire and final forest feast. An easy day out, giving us enough of a break from the city.

I was also keen to work with my latest lens acquisition, an 85mm f1.9 Super-Takumar. Paired with my Fuji X system, I am totally loving the ‘vintage lenses in digital spaces’ vibe. Deep contrast, crazy-cool bokeh, and unusual colour captured with the lens coatings. I’ll probably do a proper ‘I Heart Takumar’ post sometime soon – yes I am totally re-enamoured by these beauties. These are the lenses I got my start with in photography, paired with the Asahi Pentax bodies I still use today. Needless to say, with the adapter, I was able to add five ‘new’ lenses to my Fuji arsenal. Still have to work out a few kinks with focus and fringing, so consider these shots all part of the big test (the fire shot is iPhone). Check out some previous Takumar pics from ‘Vancouver’s Best Autumn‘ and a catch-all set of ‘Takumar‘ shots on my flickr.

As per usual, click the first image to view them large.

 

Taiwan: The Cycling Island

Frame production at Giant Bicycles, Taichung.

I traveled to Taiwan a few years ago to visit an assortment of bicycle factories, check out the cycling culture while riding around a little bit and report back on my findings. The piece was published in the print and digital edition of Momentum Mag in May 2016. I’ve now reformatted the article and added some new images to the ‘Photo Stories’ archival section on my website. Have a look:

Taiwan: The Cycling Island – Writing & Photography by David Niddrie

Taiwan is a small island nation sometimes called the ‘Bicycle Kingdom’ and a staggering amount of the frames, components and accessories we’re familiar with in North America are designed and manufactured here. It was my first time visiting Asia, and first experience looking behind the scenes at cycling manufacturing on a massive scale. I’ve been to many bicycle trade shows, handmade builder expos, events and gatherings in Canada and the USA, but the scale of the global cycling industry – of which Taiwan is a huge part – was mind-boggling. Please head over to my main website and take a look at my piece on Taiwan, the brands, the people behind them and what this ‘cycling island’ is doing to promote and encourage city cycling in a nation of millions.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting the inside scoop for my readers and have a pile of outtake images, sound clips and interview notes from these adventures. I’ve done similar visits to facilities in Germany and the Netherlands and I would love to do this again sometime! Learning where and how bike share bicycles are made, going behind the scenes at an innovative e-bike company, photographing a custom build from assessment to the first pedal. Or something completely different, like vinyl LP manufacturing in Western Canada. Anyone want to partner? Contact me!

Hands on manufacturing at Velo Saddles.

Van Bikes – Portraits From the Cycling World

Last summer I worked with Colin Stein to produce portraits of key players in Vancouver’s city cycling movement. Colin is working on a really big project: conducting in-depth interviews, sourcing archival images, and bringing together first-hand accounts as he puts together the definitive oral history of cycling advocacy in Vancouver. I can’t wait to hear these voices illuminate how we became such a bike-friendly city. Check out the project here. In the journey to a printed volume, we’ll hear a lot more from Van Bikes.

You’ll see there are more than one hundred people who make up the fabric of this tale. Kudos to Colin for tackling such a big project, and one encompassing so many angles. See how bicycles factored into the ground-breaking Clouds of Change Task Force, continued today as the Greenest City Action Plan. Or the creation and philosophy behind our city’s beloved Bikeway Network. Here’s one on our bike-friendly Mayor Gregor and his party’s role in growing our cycling mode share (complete with a portrait I shot of the Mayor in 2012). This is just a sample of the stories to come.

The portraits were started with another photographer, so when I stepped in to help out we had a style to work with. A simple set up – one light, one chair, and a dark backdrop all aimed at capturing some personality to accompany the interviews. We converted to monochrome for a consistent batch to work with. I was happy to reconnect with past colleagues and friends from my years working in Vancouver’s cycling advocacy and media sector. Cool to finally meet some of the others whom, over time, I had known via a wave as we passed like bikes in the night. Keep an eye out on Van Bikes and related media, this story goes back many decades and continues to be written today.