Day: January 29, 2012

What Happened Here ….

Early Fifties Two-door Sedan - Blue Hills

Car photography especially of early fifties vehicles, for me, derives from my learning to steer a car and then to drive one sitting next to a favourite, older cousin in his copper brown and white 1951 Mercury four-door.  Strong-arm steering meant that effort was needed to guide the Mercury down dusty gravel roads. These drives usually followed Sunday get-togethers of my family from Edmonton with his in Rimbey, Alberta. The event, recalled to memory is that of a late spring or early summer drive, following an evening meal and Walt Disney.  I might have been nine or ten years old when I first took the wheel for some good, adventure-filled times before saying our goodbyes, parting company and returning home in an hour-long drive to Edmonton.  Always, my aunt, uncle and three cousins would wave to us from their porch as we left. Our families might see each other again in a month or two. Those were good times.

My starting point for this photograph is curious. I am unable to determine the make of this early fifties two-door sedan. Given that this Blue Hills’ farm and its woods have seemingly been left as if in the middle of things, its abandonment indicates something unfinished in not just one life but in the lives of a few. Here, what is sacred is often about the conception of ‘what-has-happened-here.’  It associates to memory that will not fade and cannot be left. With this image, just as in no-trace camping the art is to pass through an area without disturbing it, this photograph presents the necessity of capturing something seemingly sacred without disturbance – reverence and respect are needed.

Listening to the Dave Matthews Band from the album Stand Up and the childhood/teen reminiscences of Old Dirt Hill, a song that recalls my go-cart, our garage and back alley … and friends at Easter break in Edmonton in grade 5 – 1972 … what a week (and to be grounded part-way through).

Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.” —Diane Arbus

Saturday’s Afternoon Drive

Wife at school, prepping; daughter at dance, dancing – this Saturday seems to be mine, a day before me to use at my discretion, and, certainly not a day to pass in front of a computer screen. A breakfast out takes me to the Flamingo Restaurant where my Photo Plus magazine becomes object of discussion between fellow Canon photographer (my cashier) and me; I point him to the Zinio iPad app as the best means to download the Photo Plus, easily, here in High Level.

Onward – my outerwear consists of several items purchased over the years from Mountain Equipment Co-op – ski pants (10 years old), Salomon winter trainers (new, this year) and a down-filled jacket with hood. Set for warmth at -22C, today, I point my GMC Sierra (without grill or driver’s side headlamp) toward Fort Vermilion and La Crete. Music is part of what this Saturday afternoon is about – Sirius Satellite Radio allows for tuning into folk music on Coffee House, news at the top of the hour from CBC and BBC, jazz music and an interview with the bass player working with Miles Davis. Comedy does not attract my attention, today. I had had thoughts of listening to Sid and Mac’s Shuttertime Podcast; but, their podcast is good to digest while out on a walk around High Level … I let the podcast wait.

In Fort Vermilion, Shirley’s Snack Shack allows for purchase of coffee and something unseen before, a Reese’s Peanut Butter chocolate bar. The truck rolls south on the Red Earth road. The first photographs are of a red, mid-sixties, FORD, three-tonne grain truck; the vehicle remains active – it has current plates and tires are full. The next photographs are of cattails, at the northeast corner of a massive field – land, newly broken and newly farmed; the wind stirs the cattails enough that Automatic Exposure Bracketing, while tried, will not allow for HDR results.

La Crete has Quality Motors to check out, a used car lot and a new Subway restaurant. Moving southward from La Crete, Buffalo Head Prairie is next.  A chain of hills loom in the distance, a blue backdrop to this settlement and extends to another thirty kilometres away called Blue Hills. Along the way, different untried back roads are taken and they return to the Blue Hills highway.  A derelict farm house is discovered.  Doubling back, a place to park the truck off the highway is found; there, two relics from the fifties are found among old disused farming machinery (Massey Harris is the emblem on a seed drill, not Massey Ferguson). With so much left scattered around, the farm seems to be left medias res (in the middle of things); has there been a family death? There’s a story of a car that drove onto the Tompkin’s Landing ferry many years ago; its brakes failed and one or all occupants of the car drowned.

The final part of the journey involves crossing the Peace River over an ice bridge at Tompkin’s landing; signs are there to direct vehicles and to advise of a maximum speed of 10 km/h for crossing the kilometre-wide river. Another forty minutes in night’s darkness with only a passenger headlight to alert oncoming highway traffic of my presence sees me home before 7:00 p.m..  Supper is grilled cheese sandwiches.

Listening to Miles Davis from his Kind of Blue album and So What; reminds that I first seriously listened to Miles Davis within the Finding Forrester soundtrack … Bill Frisell is also there with Over the Rainbow and Under a Golden Sky.

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

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