Month: January 2013

Glass – Stained

Stained Glass 1

Stained Glass 1

Stained Glass 2

Stained Glass 2

Stained Glass 3

Stained Glass 3

Winter’s sun gleams passing through translucent glass, stained glass hung in our kitchen window to catch sunlight from the southern exposure of our home. The image, a macro shot, plays with depth of field – focus and blur – and colour and reveals some of the glass interior.

Listening to – Chilly Gonzales’ White Keys from the Solo Piano II album.

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

Snow – More

Snow - Back Deck 1

Snow – Back Deck 1

Snow - Back Deck 2

Snow – Back Deck 2

Snow - Back Deck 3

Snow – Back Deck 3

Snow - Back Deck 4

Snow – Back Deck 4

Snow - Back Deck 5

Snow – Back Deck 5

Snow - Back Deck 6

Snow – Back Deck 6

Snow - Back Deck 7

Snow – Back Deck 7

We’re there. We have more than our quota of snow … and there’s still two months to go. Within the town of High Level every place you look is contending with a snow blanket that is three to four feet thick. Driveways are framed on two sides with snow mountains five, six and seven feet in height, snow that’s been cleared away to allow vehicles to park and access to garages. Great clumps of snow hang from the eaves of houses in unusual, windblown shapes. And, our weather hasn’t broken its pattern of a once in three-to-four day solid snowfall since November. The images presented here look south from our back deck where snow is beyond four feet in depth, having drifted in.

Listening to – Mike Plume’s ‘Stay Where Yer To’

Quote to Inspire – “I don’t care so much anymore about ‘good photography’; I am gathering evidence for history.” – Gilles Peress

Grain Elevators – St. Albert, Alberta

Grain Elevators - St. Albert, Alberta 1

Grain Elevators - St. Albert, Alberta 2

New Year’s Day – in Edmonton and its surrounding region the daylight hours of 2013 are sun-filled against a backdrop of blue sky. I’m out, looking around at the world with my camera, making my way from Edmonton’s west end, through its University area and Whyte Avenue. My wife, daughter and son are at my brother’s home reading … and there’s some baking going on.

I have some of the day with my camera.

The Edmonton Clinic at the University of Alberta reveals itself to be something eye-catching when complete – a longish curve of glass that will stretch for a city block in length and upwards about eight stories; the building will be about reflection as much as the glass permits a looking in on all that’s going on. But, the photo is not for today; the construction is still in progress and from the best angle impedes what is likely the best shot.

The day does hold its share of shots as I move to the Molson Brewery site that’s being dismantled. Then, it’s out to St. Albert to Edmonton’s northwest. My wife has recalled our seeing grain elevators as we drove into St. Albert last summer for a huge farmer’s market and she recommends searching for them. I have a look and discover that the grain elevators are part of a heritage museum in St. Albert. The elevators are behind chain-link fence, yet I can still photograph them.

I move from St. Albert west towards Spruce Grove. I use an elasticized, nylon tow rope to pull out someone in a silver, Dodge Dakota whose slid into a country ditch with the snow. On this road are many old farms and farm structures to photograph. But, at this time of day with an upcoming get family together this part of the day is about scouting visually for possible shots … for next time.

Listening to – Paul Gross and the Due South soundtrack.

Quote to Inspire – “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry

Gehenna, Ge-Hinnom & That Film

Henday S-Curve - Edmonton, Alberta 1

Henday S-Curve – Edmonton, Alberta 1

Henday S-Curve - Edmonton, Alberta 2

Henday S-Curve – Edmonton, Alberta 2

Henday S-Curve - Edmonton, Alberta 3

Henday S-Curve – Edmonton, Alberta 3

A Sunday evening, alone – wife and daughter at fellowship within our Church care group. And, me … I’m dealing with the sore reality of a yet to be diagnosed stomach ailment, something beyond the jungle tummy that’s been making its way round the globe. My wife has brought me a DVD to watch tonight and I’ve found it to be something powerful, something to recommend and something I’m sure I will own – ‘Being Flynn’ with Robert Deniro and Paul Dano. The movie grapples well and quite realistically with open-your-eyes-wide issues of broken families, homelessness, what lives amount to in their totality and moving on with Life despite the muddles encountered. ‘Being Flynn’ is a narrative of making that quantum leap to put the mess behind you and about getting to that strong and compassionate state that underscores the ‘why’ in contributing to make a better world for coming generations. The film is personal commentary about family and families for each of us as much as it is social commentary about something more than societal malaise … it chronicles the downward spiral of human life discarded and disposed of, Gehenna’s trash heap, before one encounters death; Lives are lost while the world looks beyond the down and out. ‘Being Flynn’ is essay as much as it is narrative film.

The image presented here is an array of street lights that light Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton – the S – Curve attracts my attention as does some of the roadway architecture as Gateway Boulevard meets Anthony Henday on Edmonton’s South side near Ellerslie Road.

Listening to – ‘Know My Mind’ by Bo Weitz, ‘It’s What I’m Thinking’ by Badly Drawn Boy and ‘Mother in Law,’ by Allen Toussaint.

Quote to Inspire – “What I did, anybody can do.” – Weegee

Derelict Farmhouse II

Derelict Farmhouse 2 - Lamont, Alberta 1

Derelict Farmhouse 2 – Lamont, Alberta 1

Derelict Farmhouse - Lamont, Alberta 2

Derelict Farmhouse – Lamont, Alberta 2

Derelict Farmhouse - Lamont, Alberta 3

Derelict Farmhouse – Lamont, Alberta 3

The front face or façade of a derelict farmhouse precedes a wooden grain shed and newer, state of the art grain silos. The image contrasts new, old and older. The house sits on a ridge overlooking a storage yard for people’s equipment, a collecting point or nexus for anything unused and nearly disposed of … old mobile homes, vehicles, farming implements and machinery. This house, on the other hand, has structure and form and context – it has beauty; it had purpose in a former time. What would this house have been like in its day, when people were proud of the land’s first fruits? Is this a homestead house built following World War I or World War II? Would the farmers who farmed here have come to Canada or would they have been a generation or two arrived. In terms of today, why has the building not been torn down? What memorial does this house provide and to whom? Who does this house continue to serve?

Listening to – Radiohead’s ‘Little by Little’ from the King of Limbs album (Live from the Basement).

Quote to Inspire – “Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary objects so you can transform it by photographing it.” – Morley Baer

Edmonton Structures

Muttart Conservatory - Edmonton, Alberta

Muttart Conservatory – Edmonton, Alberta

Metallic Spheres Sculpture - Edmonton, Alberta 4

Metallic Spheres Sculpture – Edmonton, Alberta 4

Metallic Spheres Sculpture - Edmonton, Alberta 3

Metallic Spheres Sculpture – Edmonton, Alberta 3

Metallic Spheres Sculpture - Edmonton, Alberta 2

Metallic Spheres Sculpture – Edmonton, Alberta 2

Metallic Spheres Sculpture - Edmonton, Alberta 1

Metallic Spheres Sculpture – Edmonton, Alberta 1

Glowing green against the copper-lit reflection of city lights upon clouds, an image of Edmonton’s Muttart Conservatory moments after the world has shifted from 2012 into 2013. Other images are from the metallic, spheres structure/sculpture from the Southeast end of Edmonton’s Quesnel Bridge.

Listening to – Cheng Yu’s ‘Purple Bamboo’ and ‘Pipa 2’, Dust Devil’s ‘Liquid Lounge,’ and Alexander Kogan’s ‘Two Guitars’.

Quote to Inspire – “For me, photography has become a way of attempting to make sense of the strange world that I see around me. I don’t ever expect to achieve that understanding, but the fact that I am trying comforts me.” – Mikhael Subotzky

Last, Day-lit Images

Scotford Refinery - Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

Scotford Refinery – Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

An image of the Scotford Refinery near Fort Saskatchewan, one of the last day-lit images shot at dusk looking east towards Edmonton after a good day of looking for and finding images.

Listening to – Simple Minds’ ‘Alive and Kicking.’

Quote to Inspire – “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” – Robert Doisneau

Blake’s Bison

Bison - Elk Island 1

Bison – Elk Island 1

Bison - Elk Island 4

Bison – Elk Island 4

Bison - Elk Island 3

Bison – Elk Island 3

Bison - Elk Island 2

Bison – Elk Island 2

In a day that’s been bright, yet overcast, the sun shines through broken cloud as it moves towards the horizon in late afternoon, shining directly on two Bison grazing at Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park, images inspired by Sidney Blake’s discussion of animal/nature photography and by her extraordinary black and white images of Bison in winter.

Listening to – The Von Bondies with ‘C’mon C’mon’.

Quote to Inspire – “When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.” – Anonymous

Derelict House – Day’s End

Derelict Farmhouse 1

Derelict Farmhouse 1

Derelict Farmhouse 2

Derelict Farmhouse 2

Friday, following Christmas, after time away from Edmonton at Elk Island National Park photographing bison, there, we took the backway into Edmonton, leaving the park and coming into Edmonton through Fort Saskatchewan. Near Lamont we found this derelict farmhouse. I took some shots while my son read a novel in our SUV; curiously, he may have been reading Charles Dickens’ ‘Bleak House,’ a novel sorting through the estate of someone who has passed … the clarity and speed of action within Britain’s legal system at the time is slower than a snail’s pace and those to whom the estate would benefit are in some cases reduced to poverty with the waiting … that’s gone on for what seems a generation; it’s social commentary and plot. With the image, here, the sun was moving toward the horizon and gives partial corona to the roof at each leftmost edge near the eaves trough. The textures and muted tones appeal. In looking through the image, the landscape that the house is set in seems to collect the unused, as well – day’s end for a few things.

Listening to – Cold Play’s ‘Violet Hill’, ‘Yellow’ and John Farnham with ‘The Voice’.

Quote to Inspire – “Everything shifts as you move, and different things come into focus at different points of your life, and you try to articulate that.” Chris Steele

Dodges, Pontiac and Ford – All Start

38 Ford 1 - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 1 – Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 2 - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 2 – Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 3 - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 3 – Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford Grill Work - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford Grill Work – Lamont, Alberta

My mind seems to be within the years tonight, thinking back to Ardrossan, out east from Edmonton, to Ivan’s country estate, an expansive, one-level home set on an acreage lot with a shop big enough to accommodate a semi-tractor unit (or perhaps two). Within the shop there’d be a mocha Chrysler New Yorker with black vinyl roof, a white Dodge 100 shortbox (his father’s) with a camper on top, a gold and brown Dodge Mirada and an old, old, blue Ford tractor with blade behind it to grade the snow and gravel.

On a Saturday or Sunday in the eighties I’d bring his daughter (now my wife) out to the acreage – she’d spend time with her mother in the house and I’d spend time out in the shop chatting – looking at the world with a sideways glance with Ivan. We’d reason our way through a few things. We’d work on the brakes for a motorbike for his son or replace a piston or piston ring on his skidoo. And, we talk all the way through it. He’d have an old, old Coke Machine in the corner stocked with eight or nine flats of beer … sodas, he called them … and in the course of an evening a chunk of a flat would disappear.

Outside his shop, one time, we ran oil or power steering fluid through the running carburetor of my father’s 69 Pontiac Parisienne. The engine coughed and coughed and sputtered; it may have died. And, then with some skilled cranking of the starter Ivan brought it back to life with a roar – the carburetor now clean and optimized. I’m sure he was having some fun with me … seeing where my worry and trust would lie.

A few years later he set me to work polishing a four-door, cream coloured Ford Gran Torino, a vehicle our family bought from our uncle in Rimbey. This was the four door version of the 76 Ford Gran Torino made more notable by the Starsky and Hutch television series in the late seventies. With our Ford and with a professional polisher, rubbing compound and glaze I worked on the car for four of five hours. Ivan had me wash down the engine in addition to washing the exterior. When it came time to drive home the Gran Torino wouldn’t start. And, when I went up to the house I found that while my girlfriend (now wife) and her mother were watching television, he was sleeping in his chair. Not wanting to disturb him, I went back down to the shop, hooked up some booster cables between the Ford and his Dodge Ram, not knowing anything about reversed polarities on the Dodges of the day.

Hmmh … Now two vehicles wouldn’t start.

I had to roust Ivan from his sleep and let him know that in addition to my not being able to start my vehicle, I now couldn’t start his. The language was colourful, yet mindful of not wanting to go too, too far. He seemed to know within minutes that water under the distributor cap of the Ford was the problem; we dried it with a rag. And where there’d be an electrical etching in the top of the distributor cap, he knew to take a pencil and draw two lines, one on each side of the etching, perpendicular to it; that limited the problem. We boosted the Ford … still using his Dodge, his way. The Ford started. I’m sure he was happy to get me on my way. And, he was certain that he’d have his truck running within moments after I left. Ivan was a Dodge man.

Ivan was one of the first people I’d heard refer to rust on a vehicle as it being cancered out or having cancer … something he knew how to remedy in an autobody shop. The Ford image presented here is one found a few miles from the southern gate of Elk Island National park; the nearest towns would probably be Lamont or Bruderheim. To some extent the Ford has its share of cancer; but, in totality there is more there of the car than not there, making it an excellent candidate for restoration. The vehicle has had me thinking back to Ivan and the early days of dating my wife. 🙂

Listening to – ‘The End of Illness’ by David B. Agus, MD, a book looking at a systems approach to good health … it’s about understanding your body’s system and how it works, for you.

Quote to Inspire – “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” – Anonymous

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