Month: July 2012

Tunes – Lunch Break

Sunset & Plant - Fort Vermilion Turnoff, Fort Vermilion, Alberta

Sunset & Plant – Fort Vermilion Turnoff, Fort Vermilion, Alberta

On lunch break between summer tasks, I play tunes my daughter has had us download in iTunes – Smash Mouth songs, Megan & Liz songs and songs from the Glee Cast. She’s had me track down the original of The Zombies – She’s Not There, a song sung on Glee. Another song from the Glee repertoire is Tears for Fears’ Mad World; we find the Michael Andrews and Gary Jules version of the song that encapsulates the theme within the Donnie Darko movie; it contains a straightforward set of lyrics about Life’s absurdity in being there but not there, almost a ghost within a world where you can be seen but not known, recognized but not affirmed, speak but not be understood. Our listen through with iTunes two nights back brought out several songs by The Who which we download – Won’t Get Fooled Again, I Can See For Miles, Behind Blue Eyes, My Generation, Pinball Wizard and Baba O’Riley. My daughter recognizes Pinball Wizard, a song she’s heard, and I wonder where she would have heard it – questions to ask.  For now she’s happy to have our downloads and to have the songs loaded on her iPod.

One lingering photo is this, taken at sunset, a plant with maroon and gold stem and shoots; it sways in the breeze as I try a macro shot. I’m liking the colours despite its movement.

Quote to Inspire – “No, the camera can’t steal the soul.  But it can occasionally hold it hostage.” – author unknown

Listening to – The Who andMy Generation.  Also listening to Smash Mouth’s Walkin’ on the Sun and All Star.

Rapture – Drinking in the Sun’s Heat

Early morning, time to cross-off items from my ‘did-I-do-it’ list, time to muster to the morning’s endeavor – planting Saskatoon bushes in our backyard. I gather shovel, axe, wheel barrow and raise my eyes to gaze upon a dragonfly sunning itself, drinking in sun’s early morning heat. The dragonfly doesn’t move.  Rapturous in sun’s warmth, it allows me time to retrieve my camera, attach macro lens and gather images. When I move to look down the fence board to the dragonfly from above, the dragonfly having had enough parts company, flying off. This intriguing moment with camera and subject was one that recalls and reinforces the joy of discovery and pursuit within photography. Taking the moment further I photographed ripening raspberries in still life.

Listening to – The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again, the Donnie Darko version of Tears for Fears’ Mad World, The Who’s Boris the Spider, Walter Trout’s Blues for the Modern Daze, Shawn Colvin’s American Jerusalem, I Don’t Know You and The Neon Lights of the Saints.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus; and, (2) “If I were just curious, it would be very hard to say to someone, ‘I want to come to your house and have you talk to me and tell me the story of your life.’ I mean people are going to say, ‘You’re crazy.’ Plus they’re going to keep mighty guarded. But the camera is a kind of license. A lot of people, they want to be paid that much attention and that’s a reasonable kind of attention to be paid.” – Diane Arbus – remarks made in class, 1971, Diane Arbus : An Aperture Monograph by Diane Arbus, Stan Grossfeld (3) “Beauty is the illumination of your soul.” – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Keeping Moments From Running Away

One use for photography is as a means to revisit the past, to investigate the reality of former times and to hold up to scrutiny the mind’s eye view of significant events held in memory against the reality that photography reveals. Former times often become focal point for memory; we attach meaning and narrative to what has happened to us in significant events and memorable moments. Reaching back to former times with a camera allows for the investigation of visual information within scenes and settings surrounding Life events. Distances, depth, architecture, shape, colour – the visual information within a photograph allows for extrapolation, to see more of the story that was at play. Such camera investigation with editing of images has a settling aspect to it; it establishes more of the facts surrounding events and moves past glory day’s nostalgia to clearer recognition of what comprised scene and action. In doing so, photography locks in the visual information within a scene. While I tend to think of Edmonton, the home I grew up in, and, the events and happenings of years ago, the process is the same when I consider our northern seasons. The dark of winter will bring longing for warmth and breeze of summer’s blue-sky days with clouds stacking and fields in greens, yellows and gold; intensities are there, too – heat, lightning, convection, weather. The photographs here are of such summer days and for those winter days.

Listening to – Alison Krauss/Union Station’s When You Say Nothing At All.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” – Marc Riboud (2) “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” – Ansel Adams. (3) “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” – Eudora Welty

Water Bombing & Slinging

Good day, all:

Currently, our forest region has 27 fires burning – fourteen are out of control, four are being held and nine are under control. Our temperatures have been hot this week reaching +30C and higher in our corner of Northwestern Alberta. At least two smaller communities have been evacuated, threatened by fire and smoke. One fire has a 15000 hectare involvement. The photos presented are of recent water bombing and water slinging operations in the La Crete area – the state of emergency, there, has been lifted at noon today.

Listening to – Shawn Colvin’s All Fall Down and Walter Trout’s Turn Off Your TV.

Quote to Inspire – “When I shoot a scene I often shoot a hundred frames sometimes over a few hours or days, before I begin to get a real handle on what I want in the frame and how I want it there.” – David duChemin

Wilson Prairie Wildfire – Day 3

Day 3 of the Wilson Prairie Wildfire – Friday, July 6th, 2012. In contrast to Thursday evening in which residents were able to move freely into the fire area, Friday saw Alberta’s Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) controlling road access so that firefighting equipment could be moved around with greater ease on Wilson Prairie Road. I arrived in the early afternoon to find access to Wilson Prairie Road being controlled. I couldn’t use my vehicle on Wilson Prairie Road. But, I could walk in, staying to the ditches when equipment was being moved through. Two-and-a-half hours walking in and out allowed me to see more of what was going on and how the blaze was being controlled. Dozers were creating breaks/cut-lines and pushing piles of brush together so they’d burn more easily/quickly. Areas of intended burn and back-burn were being created.   One home was in harm’s way and helicopters were being used to sling water (from local dug-outs) to saturate the area in the case that the fire’s path changed with the winds. Air tankers had been tasked to other fires within the region; but, lead planes and Martin Mars water bombers (or the like) were being used to keep a consistent supply of water on the fire. On dust-ridden, gravel roads water trucks moved slowly dribbling water to keep dust down for vehicles moving in close proximity to one another. Later, I was able to drive around behind the fire to two other points to catch the more dramatic perspective of hot, billowing smoke moving upward into the atmosphere and the water bombers flying into fire area to release water on flames below.

Listening to – Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain, a tune played throughout last year’s forest fire that consumed Slave Lake, Alberta (spring 2011).

Quote to Inspire – “I enjoy traveling and recording far-away places and people with my camera.  But I also find it wonderfully rewarding to see what I can discover outside my own window.  You only need to study the scene with the eyes of a photographer.” – Alfred Eisenstadt

Wilson Prairie Wildfire

Thursday night – I’m checking the La Crete Online webpage lacreteonline.com/ for the next stock car race out on Wolf Lake Road (closer to Blumenort); there, I read and see pictures of a forest fire out on Wilson Prairie Road – south and east from La Crete, Alberta; windrows and forested land are ablaze.  No one has been evacuated and only one home seems to be in the fire’s track. The Wilson Prairie area contains back roads of a Mennonite farming community, roads I used to drive when shuffling Home Education curriculum around to students – their names and faces and the faces of their parents come to mind.  My hope for them is that the fire can be contained quickly and that they will not be affected. When I think through my students I’m reminded that the first home education student I met and worked with was one I had to get to by driving on Wilson Prairie Road and then finding another road – Savage Prairie Road. On Thursday evening, I drove out to the fire site staying a few hours, snapping photos and chatting with concerned residents driving by, amazed by the sight.  It’s the second wildfire in the La Crete area this summer. On Thursday night, traffic tapered off around 1:00 a.m. with an occasional farmer still coming out to watch, to look and to assess.

Listening to – Matthew Perryman Jones’ Stones from the Riverbed.  Other songs of the day are Sarah Masen’s Hope, Over the Rhine’s Spark, and Rumble by Link Wray and the Wraymen.

Quote to Inspire – “The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust.

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