A sunny, August day in central Alberta saw my wife, daughter (recently returned from Guatemala) and me driving back roads in central Alberta. Clouds were building through the afternoon – there would be a thunder shower this evening. My wife and daughter were content to read through the stop and start and camera work. The timeline was our own, we could stretch the day, we would return to camp after sunset. We could explore. I could look at the world through my camera lens.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind (Louis Pasteur, 7 December 1854). Other versions of this quote include: (1) Chance favors the prepared mind; (2) Fortune favors the prepared mind; (3) In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind; and, (4) Where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind.
I got out for an afternoon drive on a Saturday late in February. I gathered my cameras and set off for a look around within Alberta’s MacKenzie Municipal District.
From High Level I traveled south. I would cross the Peace River ice bridge through slushy water at Tompkin’s Landing, traveling no more than 10km/h. Before I got there, on the hill descending toward the ice bridge a blue, aquamarine colour caught my eye. The colour belonged to a seventies Ford F-150. Someone had dragged it a ways into the trees. It, like the 1970 Buick GS next to it, had served a purpose and was left there – a rusting relic. Tromping into knee deep snow I gathered photos.
Driving past Blue Hills, farms held livestock, the occasional horse and derelict farming implements. I detoured along back roads behind Buffalo Head Prairie. There, second and third generation families are operating farms that have grown in size through the years. Many families are moving from original homestead homes built in the forties into new homes. The older homesteads stand holding memory’s residue. Next, I drove behind La Crete to the Heritage museum. The museum site holds old buildings from the La Crete area, old farming implements and machinery. The old Tompkin’s Landing ferry that transferred people and vehicles across the Peace River is there. The museum is one I want to return to for photos. And, people are invited to arrange a tour of the site. It might be something to see in early June.
Later, in moving past Fort Vermilion and into Buttertown, I managed to get my truck stuck in snow. I had seen some Buttertown buildings built with Swedish log cut corners. They were likely more than a hundred years old and I had been meaning to photograph them for a while. In parking my truck on a snowy road shoulder, I got too close to the shoulder’s edge and my truck and I slid sideways into the ditch. I did not have to wait too long for help though. A young Mennonite farmer out for a drive with his date stopped. He took some time (an hour or so) and was able to pull my truck back onto the road. And, he didn’t want anything for his trouble. He was just being neighborly. Good on him!
I stayed in Buttertown for another hour or so before sundown and my return home with pictures, better for being out of the house, better for being away from town, grateful for all that my afternoon had held.
Quote to Consider – “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams
Listening to – Martyn Joseph’s ‘Strange Way,’ Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Wondering Where the Lions Are,’ David Gray’s ‘My Oh My’ and James Taylor’s ‘Country Road.’
The day held a meeting and rather than a team of colleagues going, I would attend the meeting alone. I took camera gear with me. I hoped that the day would yield photographs, that I would find myself within the situation of a photograph. Having left early enough, I could scout out possible images; there was no need for haste through the morning’s seventy-eight kilometre drive.
The day held different gifts.
A year ago, a friend related an experience. He’d needed to take a call and had parked his service truck in a farmer’s farm entrance to be off the highway. He’d needed to turn his vehicle around, backing it onto the highway. Before he moved too far, he looked up, forward to find an old truck, perhaps a Ford, from the fifties or sixties. He captured the image with his smartphone. On this day, traveling to a meeting, I was in his neck of the woods, perhaps no more than three or four kilometres from Fort Vermilion and I saw the vehicle he was referring to from the highway. At day’s end, I would return and see if a photograph was possible. With less than an hour of daylight left I was able stop and take a series of shots.
The image above was the image photographed.
I intended to travel from Fort Vermilion to the north settlement after the meeting. At the meeting I asked a friend and colleague about the north settlement. “Would I be able to access or walk in to the St. Louis Catholic Mission church?” She didn’t know. But, the revelation was to find that she lived in the north settlement. Her and her husband’s families had lived in the north settlement through generations. She is someone who knows the stories of the north settlement, of Buttertown. That’s something.
These images are Buttertown, north settlement images.
Listening to – Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill,’ Peter Gabriel’s ‘Mercy Street’ and Roxy Music’s ‘More Than This.’
Quote to Consider – “The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.” Scott Lorenzo
Adobe Photoshop CS6 has been platform for creating, or perhaps better stated, re-creating High Dynamic Range (HDR) images from RAW files that had been used with NiK Software’s HDR Efex Pro. The process is new with a different sequence of steps – using Adobe Bridge to identify and find photos is one step changing things. And, then, the image result has less halo surrounding subjects within the photograph. The image created this morning is from the Alaska Highway Construction Museum in Sangudo, Alberta from a year or two ago. The clarity and detail is substantially finer using the Adobe Photoshop CS6 process to create the HDR – edges have greater fidelity to what was observed.
Quote to Consider – “In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” – August Sander (sounds like an HDR image making kind of quote)
Listening to – Zoe Keating’s Album, ‘Into the Trees;’ ‘Optimist,’ ‘Don’t Worry,’ and ‘Escape Artist.’
P.S. – It has finally happened; that photo-a-day that should have resulted in 365 posts in one year – intended from 2011 to 2012 – has only just been achieved within this photo-blog post … 365 posts with many, many photos … the milestone, intended, has arrived and it’s only taken from 2011 to 2015. Thank you, to all who have been a part of encouraging this endeavor. Good schtuff! 😉
Gardner Hamilton’s quote, “a [photographer] is someone who does not necessarily go out with a mission, but someone who is [or becomes] mentally aware of when they have walked into a photograph” sticks with me. The quote comes against the question of what influences the photographer’s perception and readiness as he or she comes to a photograph. As we come to the moment of opening the shutter, preoccupations, Life events (digested and undigested) and distractions shape how we are vulnerable to the scene and what becomes the image.
There is duality in how any photograph is arrived at. In one instance, it is Life’s clutter that promotes the withdrawal and escape that produces a photograph – the need to see and experience visually, the new, something other. In another instance, it is the decluttering in dealing with one’s psychological hygiene that creates the readiness, openness and choices that result in the photograph. Beyond this, one’s personal baggage and one’s habits as a photographer can serve as ballast shaping what the photograph becomes or directing the photographer to the photograph, connecting him/her to the image created – that ballast becomes one’s style.
Within past weeks, I have witnessed a convergence of ideas that promote dealing with one’s psychological hygiene in prayer, meditation and journaling. Blog posts of Creatives chronicle the experience of possessing a solid foundation built on healthy psychological hygiene as launching pad for Creative pursuit. The clutter of your ‘stuff’ – your events, your history, the stuff you need to own – needs to be dealt with so you can move on and make creative choices. Krista Tippett has interviewed Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman, pioneers in bringing Buddhism to America in her ‘On Being’ podcast entitled Embracing Our Enemies and Our Suffering, a Buddhist take on many things and engaging reality; psychological hygiene is an endpoint, here, too. The convergence has led me all the way back to Ira Progoff and his ‘At a Journal Workshop – Writing to Access the Power of the Unconscious and Evoke Creative Ability.’ I opened this book this morning. We’ll see what happens.
Images – a sunny, snow winter’s day serves to light and sculpt wagon wheels at the McNaught homestead near Beaverlodge, Alberta.
Listening to – ‘Take California’ by the Propellerheads, The Beatles’ 2009 remastered take of ‘Across the Universe,’ U2’s ‘In a Little While,’ Katy Perry’s ‘Unconditionally (Johnson Somerset Remix), Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this Way’ (The Country Road version) and The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be.’
Quote to Inspire / Consider – “Photographs may be more memorable than moving images, because they are a neat slice of time, not a flow. Each still photograph is a privileged moment turned into a slim object that one can keep and look at again.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’
In the golden hour, when the sun nears the horizon to sunset, I was travelling, leaving Grande Prairie and had driven past Clairmont and Sexsmith just where the divided highway shrinks down to two lanes. To my right was the patterning of snow covered round bales of hay, a regular undulation resembling a pillowed or pocketed quilt. I stopped, got into my winter gear and with camera claimed these shots.
Listening to – Martyn Joseph’s cover of ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad.’
Quote to Inspire – “My photography is a reflection, which comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity – the suspended moment – intervenes during action, in the viewfinder.” – Abbas
Remnants of spring, summer and autumn, a cluster of HDR photos populate my photo folder. Farm buildings, fields ripe with grain ready for harvest, trees with autumn leaves desaturating from green toward bright yellows and reds, summer cloudwork and a final shot of Edmonton in green July splendor – all are HDR shots. The 1947 Ford Tow Truck and a cousin’s farm feature visually in this blog post.
Listening to – U2’s ‘Always,’ David Gray’s ‘As I’m Leaving,’ Ryan Adams’ ‘Hallelujah,’ Mazzy Star’s ‘Into Dust,’ Snow Patrol’s ‘Life Boats,’ The Perishers’ ‘Trouble Sleeping’ and U2’s ‘Last Night On Earth.’
Quote to Inspire – “There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described. I photograph to see what something will look like photographed.” – Garry Winogrand