Tag Archives: Clouds

Mount Fuji on a Monday

There are two views from our Yokohama apartment that I loveā€“the big cloudscaped skies and the symmetrical silhouette of the distant Mount Fuji. And sometimes, on certain evenings in certain light, the two come together and the result is spectacular.

After the Typhoon, Part I

Yokohama, Japan. September 2013.

We are expecting a typhoon tomorrow. Typhoon Wipha, number 26. A big one. A once-in-ten-years kind of blow-down throw-down. Apparently the last time a storm of this magnitude came through, they had to pick up the front gate of our school down the street from the parking lot of the gymnasium. School has been cancelled, we bought some groceries and are battened down for the night.

There was another typhoon, number 18, in September. In its wake, the particulates of industry were washed out of the air, nature’s version of high-definition clarity. The windows were covered in dried-in-place drops of salt sea-brine, and as the sun set, the colors lit up a cloud-painted sky.

The Offense of Sleep

Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, Canada. July 2012.

It’s that time of year in the life of a school where our sleep is filled with dreams of summer, that summer of cool drinks tickling the throat on hot days, that summer of south winds and stars and evenings with the live music of nearby bars spilling into the ears of quiet cafes with rich desserts and the company of friends it’s been too long since last seen, that summer of canola fields and strawberries and bookstores in a language you understand, that summer which remains painfully at the other end of the-pile-of-things-you-need-to-do, tasks that take longer with every hour of sleep stolen from the time it takes to just-get-it-done.
In last year’s summer dream, we lived for a moment in a red house on a high cliff where the tall grass bent like the paint-licked bristles of a green-white brush in a chase of wind that sprinted with exigent indifference.
I slipped from the house one night before bed, saying I wanted to take a couple of photographs, that I’d be back in a few minutes, knowing it would be more like half an hour. Three hours later, closer to 3am than 2, I crept back home.
There’s a stillness in the middle of the night that’s magic, an openness to the world without its lid on, a sense of big that it seems an offense to be unconscious of. I took these photographs in the vacant lot next to the little red house and the skies kept moving and morphing into ever more beautiful patterns and rhythms and the moon and the stars kept shining through on the slumber of the town. A whale I couldn’t see passed near enough for me to hear it exhale and the wind wrapped everything in its urgent whispers until the gravity of exhaustion won out and dragged me home into an entirely different begrudging kind of sleep.

Dawn in the Skies

Over Southeast Asia. August 2012.

One of the few advantages of not sleeping well on overnight flights is the chance that you might be awake when the sun rises. It’s one thing to be on the sunward side of the plane to see the sun break over a plain of white clouds. But if you are lucky enough to be awake and to have to a window seat and to open the window shade at just the right time, and be sitting on the other side of the plane, if that’s your kind of luck, then you get the colours.

Skylines

Yokohama, Japan. Fall 2012.

When we started apartment hunting in Yokohama, we had some criteria about space and number of rooms and location – proximity to work, to the metro, to grocery stores. When we rented a place facing away from the bay, we thought we were giving up the view. We were told that we would have a view of Mt.Fuji in the winter, but we couldn’t see it in August. What we didn’t count on is the beauty of Yokohama’s atmospherics. The clouds over Yokohama are exceptional, and the magic-hour twilights imbue even the dreariest of urban landscapes with something near sublime.

These are photographs taken from our balcony. It’s the clouds that get me. They look like they spun up out of a Lawren Harris painting, or else it’s the colors of the sunset, the impossibly dramatic combinations of steely blues and greys with burnt pinks, the glowing embers of a sky on fire somewhere just over the horizon. We can see Mt.Fuji, by the way, but that’s another story.

Pacific Approach

Over Japan. August 2012.

The approach to Honshu island of Japan from around 30,000 feet. Mount Fuji is visible from the balcony of our apartment, but to see it from the sky puts things in an entirely different perspective. It looks a little like the sort of mound kids make on beaches by gathering sand from all around into one well-packed peak. Its symmetry seems particularly Japanese.

Big Skies, Part II

Banff, Alberta, Canada. July 2012.



Usually when I am in a car, I’m driving, so it’s a great pleasure when I’m on a trip, short or long, and someone else is behind the wheel. That’s when I get to be behind the camera. These shots were taken on the return journey from Calgary to Banff (with my brother driving and my nephew in the back seat giggling like a fiend in the wind every time I rolled the window down to shoot). Really big fields of canola always seem slightly surreal to me, a color too rich and too bright to be real under dotted skies that stretch out forever.