Saskatchewan Drive – Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton – a cold sunrise, winter lingering on into spring, colours buildings and fog haze in muted and rich tones reminding of Russian narratives.
Bartholomew Scott Blair misses a trade show for book publishers. Boozy Barley Blair, life on a tangent, haphazardly and unwittingly finds himself in possession of serious, sobering prose; the film of this narrative takes you from Lisbon to London to Moscow and to Boris Pasternak’s grave and Dacha in which Dr. Zhivago was written. That world is presented in much the same colours as this Edmonton image. The narrative explores the rambling of Barley’s unanchored heart navigating forward recklessly in hope and unchallenged belief at a time of life when legacy is what should concern him. Barley’s life becomes entangled – verifying story source and author, working within prescribed tradecraft and pursuing relationship. That relationship and possibility change the course of this narrative – hope and promise are honoured.
This Edmonton image looking out to Saskatchewan Drive high above the North Saskatchewan River surprises me in perspective, time of year and colour. These are the familiar tones and colours and climate of my childhood and youth cycling Edmonton city streets or walking and talking with friends. Likewise Moscow’s tones, colour and climate as featured in the film of John Le Carre’s ‘Russia House’ also surprise me because they are so strikingly familiar.
Listening to – Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast.’
Quote to Inspire – “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” ― Dorothea Lange
Butler Grain Bins – Blue Hills, Alberta
Four Butler tin grain bins are placed on the crest of a field near Blue Hills and Tompkins Landing, Alberta, positioned near a range road for ease of access, away from water, able to take advantage of the sun’s heat to dry grain stored within. The bins remind of Egypt and Joseph, a pharaoh’s dream that disturbs and Joseph’s dream reading – seven abundant years followed by seven famine-filled years; at pharaoh’s request, Joseph undertakes and manages Egypt’s grain collection (in grain bins) in the abundant years and oversees grain distribution in Egypt’s lean years. Joseph is a name meaning ‘he who removes my shame,’ a name Rachel gives this first born son of hers following barren years with Jacob (Israel). Joseph is the dreamer whose father, Jacob, gives a coat of many colours. It’s Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams (and to see what’s happening as a visionary) that allows him to serve others throughout his life. Josephs, those who remove shame, feature elsewhere in the Bible story. The Joseph who marries Mary, mother of Jesus is stepfather who extends grace to Mary when she’s found to be pregnant prior to their marriage. The story grows ever-bigger and Mary’s Joseph often guided by dream revelation has a role to play in the lives of Jesus and Mary. Then, there’s the Joseph of Arimathea who provides tomb for Jesus and who removes Jesus’ body from the cross becoming unclean in touching a dead body as the Sabbath begins. Each Joseph removes shame and extends grace into the situation.
Listening to – Chris Whitley’s ‘Dust Radio,’ the Lumineers’ ‘Ho Hey’ and ‘Stubborn Love,’ John Trudell’s ‘Rockin the Res (Live)’ and Congregation’s ‘Don’t Pay No Mind.’
Quote to Inspire – It should be the aim of every photographer to make a single exposure that shows everything about the subject. I have been told that my portrait of Churchill is an example of this. – Yousuf Karsh
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
Winter Psychedelic 1
Winter Psychedelic 2
Winter Psychedelic 3
Winter Psychedelic 4
Colour found and pulled from winter is subject of current photos. There’s a feel of the seventies as colour is approached – strong rich colours and contrasts in the darker images. The lighter images explore oversaturation and the aura surrounding subject. An icicle is shaped by heat and gravity. Another is shaped by wind’s push and pull. Both are lens for what they are in front of. Weeds, left behind, within the bleakness of a lacklustre winter field become source from which to pull colour and attention to shape and setting in an image that could be termed … ‘psychedelic.’
Listening to – iTunes set to start genius, starting at The Eagle’s Seven Bridges Road yields an energizing playlist – Eagles’ ‘Seven Bridges’ Road,’ Aerosmith’s ‘Back in the Saddle,’ The Black Crowes’ ‘ Twice as Hard,’ The Who’s ‘Magic Bus,’ Nazareth’s ‘Love Hurts,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Pink Cadillac,’ The Rolling Stones’ ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,’ Neil Young’s ‘Rockin In The Free World’ and The Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie.’
Quote to Inspire – “I also paint, draw and I’m into film and photography as well, and the same thing applies to all of them. You’re presenting this material to the general public and hoping that they’re going to ‘get’ what you’re doing. Some don’t, some do.” – Paul Kane
Cattails – High Level, Alberta 1
Cattails – High Level, Alberta 2
That day – not in Church, in the first warmth of spring’s sun; snow, hip-deep … all your weight, leaning forward, shifting snow, inches at a time … to these snow-surrounded cattails. A beautiful, sunny spring Sunday with my Canon 60D.
Listening to – Alice in Chains’ ‘Heaven Beside You,’ Amiina’s ‘Rugla,’ and Angus and Julia Stone’s ‘Big Jet Plane.’
Quote to Inspire – “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” – Ansel Adams
Icicle Lens – Tompkins Landing, Alberta 1
Icicle Lens – Tompkins Landing, Alberta 2
At Tompkins Landing on the Peace River snow on cable anchors that hold the Queen of Edmonton Ferry in place high upon the river bank has with sun’s springtime intensity begun to melt and produce icicles. With macro lens it was possible to capture colour within each icicle lens as well as elements of structure within the icicle.
Listening to – Jack Johnson and ‘Banana Pancakes.’
“Still images can be moving and moving images can be still. Both meet within soundscapes.” – Chien-Chi Chang
1 Former Farm Buildings – Guy, Alberta 1
2 Chevrolet and GMC
3 Former Farm Buildings – Guy, Alberta 2
5 Former Vehicles of the Road
6 Former Farm Buildings – Guy, Alberta 3
7 Former Vehicles of the Highway
Away from its cities, out in Alberta’s hinterland Alberta’s land is a great, huge space, with landscapes and regions that vary substantially in terrain and vegetation from North to South and from West to East. Its strength – strength of economy, strength of resource and solid quality of Life – seem most apparent in and around its cities. As you move through Alberta’s distances, you discover those places where people have made a living with very little; they got their start, weathered the years and gathered strength, resources and capital. Often my photography celebrates these first places trying to understand intent for how the place was used and how and why it was left. The photographs memorialize former first Alberta days, reminders of the youth-filled strength and initiative to make a go of it in a sometimes unyielding land.
Listening to – Penguin Café Orchestra’s Volume 2 – ‘Air a Danser,’ ‘Yodel 1,’ ‘Telephone and Rubber Band,’ ‘Cutting Branches For a Temporary Shelter,’ ‘Pythagoras’s Trousers,’ ‘Numbers 1-4,’ ‘Yodel 2,’ ‘Salty Bean Fumble,’ ‘Paul’s Dance,’ ‘The Ecstacy of Dancing Fleas,’ ‘Walk Don’t Run,’ ‘Flux,’ ‘Simon’s Dream,’ ‘Harmonic Necklace,’ and ‘Steady State.’
Quote to Inspire – “During the work, you have to be sure that you haven’t left any holes, that you’ve captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
Sunset – Dusk – Peace River, Alberta
For a second time, a Peace River, Alberta sunset arrests my attention. This photo is an image exposed incorrectly, but one that has been shot as a RAW file; editing is able to rescue the image returning it to Life and intention – a sunset shot. Earlier this fall on a day when we (my family and me) had been to Peace River for a day’s outing, the day’s return journey began at sunset; we in our vehicle making the long five kilometre climb westward out of the Peace valley and enjoying an array, scatter and stir of cloud work – hues deepening, then diminishing. A sight to have caught as a photo, this sunset … but just as easily enjoyed by each of us for what it was; there will be other sunsets (we do live in Alberta). As an entity, the immediate follow-up to sunset is dusk, light that softens as it leaves, light that colours as it diminishes – in photographic terms it de-saturates (withdraws colour). As an entity, dusk is intermediary between the stark, factual reality of daylight and that part of Life that occurs in the unseen. As an entity, dusk seems to be a visual reminder of transience – at sunrise dusk is a part of how we enter the day; at sunset dusk moves us from our day into night. The day’s movement is a part of our forward Life movement reminding us of our impermanence.
Listening to – Snow Patrol’s ‘Please Just Take These Photos,’ The Eagles’ ‘Seven Bridges Road,’ Don Henley’s ‘Sunset Grill,’ The Cars’ ‘Good Times Roll,’ Cheap Trick’s ‘Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace,’ The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony,’ and U2’s ‘Crumbs From Your Table.’
Quote to Inspire – “It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It’s their intimate relationship with it.” – Antoine D’Agata
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 1
Former Farm 6
Former Farm 5
Former Farm 4
Former Farm 3
Former Farm 2
Not always pretty, or organized, the shot you take. Yet something in your mind recognizes beauty’s potential – something can be drawn from this image. Some part of your mind recognizes this scene or subject ought to be recorded and kept – something’s here to understand … front of the process stuff, this first part of making a photograph. You see, you capture and you edit. You exercise photographic skill(s) finding the strongest way of seeing this image … end of process stuff, recognizing presentation choices and choosing. The image reveals itself as much as you present it.
Former farms and homesteads are subject in the images of this morning’s post.
Listening to – Bob Dylan’s ‘Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie,’ from the Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3 (Rare& Unreleased) 1961-1991.
Quote to Inspire – “Looking and seeing are two different things. What matters is the relationship with the subject.” – Christophe Agou