Russet Buds – Buttertown, Alberta
Day’s end reveals a world of colour within a longer, spring sunset. Russet orange dominates the backdrop for new spring buds and their companion, a century old homestead home in Buttertown across the river from Fort Vermilion, Alberta. Out-of doors movement occurs easily and remains novelty following a seemingly never-ending winter that saw so much darkness and snow – so good to be outside and in the world.
Listening to – Chris Whitley’s ‘Big Sky Country.’ The playlist has also held the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and ‘If You Wanna Get to Heaven,’ and the Rolling Stones with ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.’
Quote to Inspire – “Emotion or feeling is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that it is just a trick.” – Christopher Anderson
Farm – Rimbey, Alberta 2
Farm – Rimbey, Alberta
Field Entrance – Woking, Alberta
Former Farm – Notikewan, Alberta
Peace River – Dunvegan, Alberta 1
Peace River – Dunvegan, Alberta 2
Peace River – Dunvegan, Alberta 3
Peace River – Dunvegan, Alberta 4
Grain Elevator – Sexsmith, Alberta 1
Grain Elevator – Sexsmith, Alberta 2
In a spring that needs to take hold more firmly, winter drags on, a guest overstaying its welcome. Winter continues as constant in and around Alberta and features in photos – farms dusted with snow, grain elevators and Harvestor Silos providing colour against the snow, the Peace River melting through ice … covered with snow. Each are presented here.
Listening to – Francesca Battistelli’s ‘This is the Stuff’ and JJ Heller’s ‘What Love Really Means.’
Quote to Inspire – “The photograph is completely abstracted from life, yet it looks like life. That is what has always excited me about photography.” – Richard Kalvar
Rusting Relics – Manning, Alberta
Treasure is a term coined twice this week – in one instance within a John Le Carre novel it is taken to mean the secret that if possessed would turn the tables on your enemy (as in Control’s discussion with Jim Prideaux regarding ‘treasure’ before embarking to Budapest, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’); in a second instance within Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, ‘Treasure Island,’ it refers to the ill-gotten gains that in the getting you seem to have a right to – but irony can play disasterously with you, here. Beyond this, treasure, if possessed, puts you to advantage and gives you power. It is taken to mean something that guarantees a future free from want. A second, perhaps more poignant irony is that treasure once in one’s possession requires care so that no one takes it away … work is involved. Here, within this image, the term treasure can be taken to mean the opportunity of possibility, the rusting relic that has potential in its restoration, in its possession and use. As a photographer, the treasure is perhaps in the image and the narrative that surrounds the image. Point of connection – I learned to drive in a 1969 GMC half-ton pick-up (transmission – three-the-tree-standard), similar to the white GMC cab three vehicles from the right of the image and the GMC on the left.
Listening to – Johnny Cash’s ‘Gods Gonna Cut You Down,’ a song first heard on Steve Stockman’s Rhythm and Soul broadcast, as rendered by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama.
Quote to Inspire – “… the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we hold the whole world in our heads – as an anthology of images.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’
Country Road Sunset – Mayerthorpe, Alberta
Farm Silo Silhouette – Mayerthorpe, Alberta
Wednesday’s travel took me from my Calgary, Camera Store stop northward on my return drive to High Level. Around dinner-time, between Mayerthorpe and Whitecourt the cloud-work and evolving sunset on the southwest of the highway were a spectacular sight among a huge and open northern Alberta sky, land less frequently frequented, something quite different from the frenetic congestion of people and land encountered between Edmonton and Calgary, an area still held in grey bleakness of winter. It was good to be traveling home in familiar North Country.
Listening to – Collective Soul and ‘Shine’, and, Sigur Ros and ‘E-bow.’
Quote to Inspire – “While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see .” – Dorothea Lange
1 Buttertown Home – Fort Vermilion, Alberta 2
2 Buttertown Home – Fort Vermilion, Alberta 1
3 Farm Buildings – Guy, Alberta 1
4 Farm Buildings – Guy, Alberta 3
5 Farm Buildings – Guy, Alberta 4
6 Farming Buildings – Nampa, Alberta 2
7 Farming Buildings – Nampa, Alberta 1
8 Ford & Mercury Trucks 1
9 Ford & Mercury Trucks 2
10 Icicle – Tompkins Landing 1
11 Icicle – Tompkins Landing 2
12 Icicle – Tompkins Landing 3
13 Icicle – Tompkins Landing 4
14 Icicle – Tompkins Landing 5
15 Icicle – Tompkins Landing 6
16 Black and White – Cattails, High Level, Alberta
17 Former Highway Construction Vehicles 1
18 Former Highway Construction Vehicles 2
19 Bus Lanes at Night – High Level, Alberta
A cluster of B-side photos remain – Fort Vermilion’s former times Buttertown homes, winter farming scenes (equipment and buildings, deposited in their last left locations, ‘medias res’), icicle lens edits and former MacKenzie highway construction vehicles. It’s this winter’s tail-end, a time to close winter out … and get-on with spring.
Listening to – Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians’ ‘What I am,’ U2’s ‘All Because of You,’ Cat Stevens’ ‘Morning Has Broken,’ Depeche Mode’s ‘Policy of Truth,’ T. Rex’s ‘Bang a Gong,’ Wang Chung’s ‘Dance Hall Days’ and Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl.’
Quote to Inspire – “Success is what happens when 10,000 hours of preparation meet with one moment of opportunity.” – Anonymous
Homestead – Peace River, Alberta
Sedan – Sunrise Beach, Alberta
In learning piano, here in Canada, students will often learn and be taught how to play using music that is leveled within music books. At year-end you can challenge an examination to receive recognition of your level of skill. The daily practice along the way is what I recall. Each Toronto Royal Conservatory music book contained pieces – composed entities of music with beginning, middle and end, music with variation, music having specific direction, everything from phrasing, to control of loud and soft volume, intention for pace and emotion … all to be interpreted in presentation. Each music book also contained exercises or studies meant to develop skills for use within pieces, a matter of reading intention from the page and translating that intention accurately into sound. The exercise of returning to images and editing again and again is similar to these music studies and is something closer to the creative portion of writing music. The exercise of editing allows you to explore what the image contains and what can be brought out in an image; regular exercise builds the skill. Moving toward a pleasing outcome – what does and does not work – in editing is where much of photography’s creative act lies.
The photos presented are exercises in editing, seeing what they can become – Homesteads and Sedan.
Listening to – My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Sometimes,’ Phoenix’s ‘Too Young,’ Kevin Shields’ ‘Are You Awake’ and ‘City Girl,’ Brian Reitzell & Roger J. Manning Jr.’s ‘On the Subway,’ and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey.’
Quote to Inspire – “Once you learn to care, you can record images with your mind or on film. There is no difference between the two.” – Anonymous
Former Farm – Sangudo, Alberta 1
Former Farm – Sangudo, Alberta 2
Former Farm – Sangudo, Alberta 3
Sangudo, Alberta – on a sunny day, closing in on spring, buildings from a former farming time continue to erode with wind and weather. Sun heats snow-laden earth and clouds begin to billow and move eastward over the horizon.
Listening to – Josef Myslivecek and Concertino in E Flat for two horns.
Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” – Ansel Adams
1938 Ford One Ton Tow Truck
Farm – Nampa, Alberta
Manning Grain Truck 1
Manning Grain Truck 2
McLure Tow Truck 1
McLure Tow Truck 3
McLure Tow Truck 4
Saw Mill – Whitecourt 1
Train Tracks – Kamloops, British Columbia
Good travel from a photographic perspective is something allowing the photographer to look out to the world and to engage visually with the narrative of situation and locale. What is out there? What is happening or has happened? What pulls your eye towards it? What colour is there? What shadow is there? What is the visual impression? The challenge is that travel is often expeditious – you need to arrive at your destination at a certain time or to return home because you have goals on the other end of your travel. The trick is to plan for the opportunity to stop and photograph starting out early enough that you give yourself abundance of time with your camera … and the world. For the same nine hour drive we make between High Level and Edmonton, Alberta, an artist we worked with, Chris Short, observed that there is enough visual information of interest to make it necessary to break the same trip into three days to allow her to sketch, draw and paint … along the way. The photos presented here are those on the return journey home last week. Not knowing the times or vicinities well and with the press of my family and me returning to other goals, my photography was more happenstance than planned or found.
Listening to – The B-52s with the Wild Crowd performing ‘Private Idaho,’ ‘Ultraviolet,’ ‘Roam,’ and ‘Cosmic Thing’.
Quote to Inspire – “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” – Anonymous
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 1
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 11
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 10
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 9
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 8
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 7
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 6
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 5
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 4
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 3
Ford One Ton Tow Truck – McLure BC 2
A 1938 Ford one-ton tow truck sits, seemingly at the ready, gazing out to the highway. Yet, at the ready, looks a lot like ready to sell.
Static, the Ford’s paint flakes away and metal beneath oxidizes into rust, colourfully. Curves are the thing, in the shape and detail of the cab, in each window, throughout the length and nose of the hood, in the catch-all of the fenders and in the perfect circles of the lights; straight lines add contrast to these curves with the verticals and horizontals of the running boards, bumper and grill; and then there are the diagonals associated with the structure for leverage, towing and pulling other vehicles. There’s remarkable engineering, here, both in the original build of the Ford and in the impromptu innovation of the towing structure … someone has the knack for towing vehicles. The whole vehicle is architecture, engineering, shape and detail from a former time, a time that preceded me, a time that was my father’s – all pull my interest to this Ford. And, there’s anticipation of how it would drive and how it would ride … the finding of gears, the getting it to move and remain moving … there’d be the unique bounce and shift of weight as the truck moves over terrain … there’d be the rhythm of engine combustion idling and working, pacing out each mile … and there’d be the view from within while piloting this vehicle – all intrigue me.
Automobiles that have left the road have been set back on the road surface by this Ford. Remnants of collisions – damaged vehicles, damaged people and damaged egos, their aftermath has needed transfer to homes, autobody shops and junk yards, something this Ford has provided regularly. In extreme and extraordinary winter weather this Ford has been one to venture out on uncertain roads and perhaps there would be no safer place than in an outfitted Ford one-ton tow truck with a rested driver who understands people, the road and his machine. This Ford one-ton tow truck is for sale down around McLure, British Columbia; the first person with $2000 or so dollars takes it.
Listening to – Tom Cochrane’s ‘Big League’.
Quote to Inspire – “Buy a good pair of comfortable shoes, have a camera around your neck at all times, keep your elbows in, be patient, optimistic and don’t forget to smile.” – Matt Stuart
Canola Homestead – Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Elektra Water Bomber 1
Elektra Water Bomber 2
Winter Snow 1
Winter Snow 2
At -39C steam hangs in the air almost failing to dissipate, resolving into a fog residue – vehicle exhaust, factory steam, breath from your own mouth. Cold cranking car batteries fail and must be boosted. January into February, in the North we’re rounding the cold portion of the orbital arc, pulling January’s cold with us into February. To look back, to rework and to resurrect in new ways – former photographs become blessing. Blown, compacted, heated and crusted snow is the subject of two images. Summer images include a homestead house within a field of canola as well as the Elektra water bomber from July.
Listening to – Stompin’ Tom Connors’ ‘Sudbury Saturday Night,’ Ray Wylie Hubbard’s ‘Mother Blues,’ Gurf Morlix’s ‘Gasoline’ and Buddy Miller’s ‘Does My Ring Burn Your Finger.’
Quote to Inspire – “I have to shoot three cassettes of film a day, even when not ‘photographing’, in order to keep the eye in practice.” – Josef Koudelka