December’s Downtime Edits – May Wildfire(s)

Chuckegg Creek 1
Chuckegg Creek 2
Chuckegg Creek 3
Chuckegg Creek 4
Chuckegg Creek 5
Chuckegg Creek 6
Chuckegg Creek 7
Chuckegg Creek 8
Chuckegg Creek 9
Chuckegg Creek 9a
Chuckegg Creek Fire - Tanker
Chuckegg Creek Fire – Tanker
Chuckegg Creek Fire - Rages
Chuckegg Creek Fire – Rages
Chuckegg Creek 9b
Manning Wildfire – 1
Manning Wildfire – 2

In our neck of the woods, most people within the Mackenzie County (Alberta’s most northeast region) were impacted by a wildfire that began in May and still smoulders now, in December, despite snow and cold. We were evacuated from High Level as were surrounding communities as wildfire threatened them. These images are from a drive home from Edmonton to High Level. The Thursday before I had witnessed a truck on fire near Valleyview – thankfully the drive was alright and fire consumed only the tractor; it had been carrying dangerous, volatile goods. Here, though, the Chuckegg Creek fire was within its first twelve hours of burn. At the point these images were taken, the fire was 28 kilometres from High Level. Within a week the fire had made its way to within five kilometres of our town. We evacuated. Here, in this May image, RCMP were dispatched to limit drivers driving the highway within fire and with visibility limited by smoke. A helattack crew flew to the area to work with Wajax bottles and to assess the fire. Later an air tanker came to the seen to lay down fire retardant. At August’s end, the fire was more than 350000 hectares large (CTV News, 29 August 2019).

What is also extraordinary is on this same drive I drove through Manning, Alberta on the way home; in hot and dry conditions another three wildfires were being battled by air tanker and water-slinging helicopters.

Here in High Level, on Christmas Eve, my heart goes out to the people and families of Australia as you encounter wildfires and extreme temperatures.

Listening to – Martyn Joseph’s ‘Bobby’ and ‘Sanctuary,’ and, Ólafur Arnalds’ ‘Island Songs’ album. Robert James Waller’s ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ and the New Customs’ song, ‘Chasing Light’ have been within my hearing this fall. Liking the album ‘Cover Art – Calgary Folk Festival’ and finding 100 Mile House singing ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning,’ Mariel Buckley singing ‘Ahead by a Century’ and the Rembetika Hipsters singing ‘Wicked Game.’ Liking the lyrics of Ben Howard’s ‘Keep Your Head Up’ from his ‘Every Kingdom’ album. I heard Brooke Wylie’s album ‘Part One – EP’ when my daughter was hospitalized and at a geographic distance from me … my wife was able to be with her; the album has a couple of songs for a Mom and Dad.

Quote to consider – “Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with how you see them (Elliot Erwitt).”

Kirk, Rangefinder and Framing

St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 1
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 2
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 3
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 4
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 5
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 6
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 7
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 8
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 9
St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission – Days Gone By 9a
Black Church at Buðir, Búðakirkja Iceland

Church has been subject matter for many photos this fall. In Fort Vermilion’s north settlement, a metis settlement, I continue to return to the St. Louis Roman Catholic Church every few weeks and stay for an hour or two. Looking at this Church at different times of day and in two different season(s), I have explored how sunlight envelopes and moves around the Church within a day, I have paid attention to weather, vegetation, colour and shape surrounding the Church, and, I have investigated the Church for what different vantage points would reveal of the Church. The photographic rule followed – attend (see) and intend (work to reveal). Sacred, holy ground – a site set aside for worship. At home, I’ve printed a photograph of the Black Church in the hamlet of Búðir, Iceland. This Church is called the Búðakirkja. In juxtaposition to its surroundings (it sits within a lava field, with mountains far off in the distance) and accompanied by a single hotel, it presents as a surreal Iceland image. Sacred. Each Church shares a common timeframe (Life); they stood in the 19th Century and continue to stand. A friend has a wonderful expression for the Christian. Perhaps he’s sifting through mandate or purpose within the Bible. For him, the Christian is ‘Jesus in the doorway’ … being the neighbor, the one welcoming the stranger, in all – word becoming flesh (holy work).

I have framed photographs and cut mats for the first time this fall. Until this fall, I haven’t been able to frame my photographs myself. The aspect ratio of the photo frames from the photo store would never align with the aspect ratio of my photos. It’s been an issue of crop of the photographs. And, once I understood how the crop impacted and enhanced a photo, the crop became more important than the standard aspect ratio offered by the camera or the photo frame – the 1 x 1, the 4 x 3, the 9 x 16 etc.. The resulting prints have rarely coincided with predetermined photo frame sizes and matting. So, I’ve been cutting mat paper, matting photographs and framing photographs for the first time in nearly thirty years of being behind camera and lens. The first image matted and framed was an image created by New Zealand photographer, Paul C. Smith. Entitled, ‘Holding Hands,’ an image of a family walk along a New Zealand beach came together well, a serene image, a stolen moment that became gift to a friend. With successive framed photos I have come to understand why matte photo paper works best behind glass; matte paper prevents a double reflection you would find with a gloss print.

I have also been learning to shoot with a rangefinder camera. The matter of a double image becoming one in the view finder as it comes into focus reminds of my old Canon T70, but is something more subtle to work through, something more to do with ‘seeing.’ And, I’m working with one lens, a prime lens. So, some limitations. But, a different way to compose a shot, a different thinking to compose a shot. Much of this fall has also involved making sure to get out with a camera, regularly. Regularly can mean once a week to once every two weeks.

I’m not sure all the edits work in the images above. Let me know what you think.

Take care ….

Listening to – Internet radio (CKUA, CBC Vancouver, Fine Music Radio and more); I’ve been through Jody Carrington’s ‘Kids These Days’ and working to understand what different facets of social connectivity offer us who work with students and parents as educators; music has been varied.

Quote to Consider – for parent, educator, student … and photographer (and quoted in ‘Kids These Days’). “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better (Maya Angelou).”