So just over a year ago, as I was coming up the escalator from the West Coast Express, I snapped a picture of the harbour, with Canada Place, the North Shore Mountains, and a lovely summer sky. This picture right here:
And then I kept on doing it. Every morning, at the same time and more or less the same spot (sometimes going back down if I missed it the first time). Between late June and mid-November I took 80 photos, with a plan to splice them together into a movie (which… I should really get around to doing). This movie would show the day-to-day weather, but also the changing seasons, as the mornings grew darker and darker. Some days are missing of course: weekends, holidays, sick days, and all the times I took the late train. I wanted all my harbour photos to be taken at the same time every day.
Then in November I was laid off. When I started working again I decided to find a different vantage point. The view from the escalator was too hard to frame reliably. After a bit of experimentation I settled on the Station’s parking lot: it had a fine view of the mountains (of course), plus those huge-ass cranes that kept changing position from day to day. That was always fun, since I was recording not just Nature, but Technology. Best of all, I could rest my camera on the fence to keep it perfectly level.
48 photos photos later, I moved downtown. No more West Coast Express. I could get into work a bit later, sleep in a bit more… but never at exactly the same time, and so there were no daily photos for a while. Then my scheduled stabilised, and I started looking for the perfect vantage point from which to record the passage of time.
Not easy: this vantage point would first have to be near my place, or on the way to work; there’d have to be an easy-to-remember place to stand, and clear markers to frame the picture. The pictures must have details that show the months and seasons passing when seen as a set, but each also had to be interesting enough by itself.
In short, I needed an Aleph. Okay, I wasn’t really looking for the mystical, transcendental experience of Borges’ short story, but I needed a point of view that contained everything important and beautiful about Vancouver, in space and time. This was the West End, there had to be at least one, right? Well, it took a while, but I think I found it.
First few tries, just off Beach Ave looking across English Bay towards Vanier Park. Nice enough view, though partially blocked by a tree to the right. That was actually intentional: I thought I could use it to mark the passing seasons… but now I don’t know. It doesn’t really work.
Now I’m near the south end of Sunset Beach. Less convenient, harder to frame, and not enough interesting details. Pass.
Burrard Bridge? Pretty enough but too static. Wait, though: instead of a picture of the bridge, I could take one from the bridge…
Ding-ding-ding! Looks like we have a winner! This shot has everything: beautiful and complex scenery, lots of green that’ll change with the seasons, even a beach to record the tides. And, useful detail: I’ve got my back to the morning sun, so no worries about overexposure. And, not far out of my way. Yep, I think I can make this work. Being so close to home, I can take pictures every single day, not just workdays. We’ll see how dedicated I really am. I’ll probably want to be a little more flexible with the hours, then.