I left home today and almost immediately noticed a mantis on the mirror of a scooter parked near my place in Xinyi District 信義區, Taipei 台北. This afforded me an opportunity to snap a rather unusual self-portrait, as you can see. Right after taking this photo the mantis surprised me by jumping onto my pants and crawling up to my shoulder. It soon disappeared out of sight, though I could feel forelimbs brush against the back of my neck. Not wanting to possibly crush it by accident, I wandered down the street until I found a row of trees where the mantis gracefully disembarked. If I were to anthropomorphize this resplendent creature I’d say it was in some distress on that scooter and gladly took the opportunity to hitch a ride to the relative safety of what nature remains in this highly urbanized area, a service I was happy to provide.
This self-portrait was captured in an abandoned temple in Keelung 基隆 and lightly edited in Photoshop to create the illusion of a figure at two different scales. I appear as a ghost in a mirror that probably hasn’t seen any use in quite some time—the temple itself is easily one of the most haunting sites anywhere on the island and people go to great lengths to avoid the place.
I went for scaling in Taichung 台中. The head dentist was Harvard-educated, fluent in English, but the cost was a small fraction of what I’d be paying back home. They didn’t mind me snapping a shot of the x-ray, either. In case there’s ever any need to identify me from my dental records perhaps this post will be of service.
This woodworking factory in Shuili 水里, Nantou 南投, is truly one of the most magical ruins in all Taiwan 台灣. During my first visit my companion and I chanced upon a white leather office chair deep inside the largest building in the complex. Although I spend most of my time behind the camera it was too good an opportunity to pass up. And so, with a little help, a moment was captured amidst the desolate beauty of one of Taiwan’s most splendid ruins.
I was riding along a side street not far from Chihkan Tower 赤崁樓 when I noticed fire damage on a couple of gutted buildings to my right. I stopped to take a look and shoot a few photos—including this abstract self-portrait in a weird grid-like mirror on the ground floor.
Here I am exploring the ruins of Nakagusuku Kogen Hotel 中城高原ホテル in Okinawa 沖縄. I seldom take self-portraits but, as chance would have it, this one is accidental. I couldn’t see the screen with the glare from the open window behind me and captured this grainy image while attempting to shoot something in front of me. So there you have it: a candid photograph of the explorer at work in the haunted ruins of Japan 日本.
Here I am on the flanks of Mont Sutton, Quebec, in early September, 2009. I was, at that time, out for a multi-day field trip, a required course (GGR390) in the physical and environmental geography program at the University of Toronto. My small group of three students was casting about for accessible yet undisturbed areas to conduct tree biodiversity surveys at different elevations when we took a wrong turn and ended up coming down part of the mountain without any trails. Luckily for us there were dry, mossy channels for us to follow, likely carved out of the surrounding forest by spring meltwater.
Pictured here is a much younger version of myself at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. I have had a lifelong fascination with space exploration, a dream that I never seriously pursued. Astronomy was actually my first choice in university but I got cold feet after thinking about the job prospects and went into biology instead.