A cluster of B-side photos remain – Fort Vermilion’s former times Buttertown homes, winter farming scenes (equipment and buildings, deposited in their last left locations, ‘medias res’), icicle lens edits and former MacKenzie highway construction vehicles. It’s this winter’s tail-end, a time to close winter out … and get-on with spring.
Listening to – Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians’ ‘What I am,’ U2’s ‘All Because of You,’ Cat Stevens’ ‘Morning Has Broken,’ Depeche Mode’s ‘Policy of Truth,’ T. Rex’s ‘Bang a Gong,’ Wang Chung’s ‘Dance Hall Days’ and Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl.’
Quote to Inspire – “Success is what happens when 10,000 hours of preparation meet with one moment of opportunity.” – Anonymous
At sunset, on a lake north from Dixonville, Alberta, on the west side of a highway’s curve, a beaver has swum towards me to determine whether or not I’m animate, part of the setting or active within its setting. When my movement becomes large and noticeable, the beaver slaps its tail on the water and dives, swimming from what had been its present location to another where line of sight on me, the potential predator, can be had.
Listening to – much of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds’ Live at Radio City Music Hall; the songs standing out this morning have been ‘Bartender’ (as possible prayer), ‘Save Me’ (for its allusion), ‘Crash into Me’ (intimate lovers’ dialogue), ‘Sister’ (I have a sister-in-law) and ‘Lie in Our Graves’ (for its shared fun).
Quote to Inspire – “A photographer is an acrobat treading the high wire of chance, trying to capture shooting stars.” – Guy Le Querrec
Away from its cities, out in Alberta’s hinterland Alberta’s land is a great, huge space, with landscapes and regions that vary substantially in terrain and vegetation from North to South and from West to East. Its strength – strength of economy, strength of resource and solid quality of Life – seem most apparent in and around its cities. As you move through Alberta’s distances, you discover those places where people have made a living with very little; they got their start, weathered the years and gathered strength, resources and capital. Often my photography celebrates these first places trying to understand intent for how the place was used and how and why it was left. The photographs memorialize former first Alberta days, reminders of the youth-filled strength and initiative to make a go of it in a sometimes unyielding land.
Listening to – Penguin Café Orchestra’s Volume 2 – ‘Air a Danser,’ ‘Yodel 1,’ ‘Telephone and Rubber Band,’ ‘Cutting Branches For a Temporary Shelter,’ ‘Pythagoras’s Trousers,’ ‘Numbers 1-4,’ ‘Yodel 2,’ ‘Salty Bean Fumble,’ ‘Paul’s Dance,’ ‘The Ecstacy of Dancing Fleas,’ ‘Walk Don’t Run,’ ‘Flux,’ ‘Simon’s Dream,’ ‘Harmonic Necklace,’ and ‘Steady State.’
Quote to Inspire – “During the work, you have to be sure that you haven’t left any holes, that you’ve captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
A summer’s day in early July finds my son, newly graduated from high school, awaiting word of acceptance to the University of Alberta and the possessor of a day off from his job cooking in a local restaurant. My son and I travel north from High Level to Hay River, Northwest Territories and the Great Slave Lake. My son needs the practice of driving for his driver’s test. He’s at the wheel. For my son, the challenge is not only the technical aspects of driving; for him, the challenge is also that of overcoming learned travelling behaviour – on long drives sleep has become a means to shorten travel’s distance. The float and glide of our 2000 GMC half ton cushions driving’s dips and rises comfortably along our three-hundred kilometre route northward. My son nearly falls asleep at the wheel and I prompt him to direct his attention to his driving.
The journey takes us to Alexandra falls and onward into Hay River’s Great Slave Lake – both become excellent photo-taking opportunities; my son is quite daring in the photography he attempts looking out from 100 foot cliffs. In Hay River, we encounter the boat within this image dragged more than a kilometre from the Great Slave Lake; its location is at that point in Hay River’s municipal jurisdiction where the industrial area ends and its housing development begins – a somewhat quirky location at first glance. This boat is no more than 500 feet from the nearest Hay River home.
Thinking this image through I’m left with several questions.
Ocean-going vessels that become marine salvage are vessels that are taken to locations in the world where they can be retired, places where the vessel can be scuttled while leaving them accessible to teams of people who are able to dismantle the vessel – cutting it apart and finding new uses for each part that had been component of the formerly floating structure that had been moving through water.
Here, in Hay River, on the world’s largest lake what happens? This boat has been pulled from the water and seemingly kept, but for what reason. Does the former sea-worthy vessel have use for parts or perhaps for training? Or is it, that the ‘what-next’ for the vessel needs a good, reasonable next step or perhaps a next step that generates revenue? And, is the vessel towed so far so that it simply resides on company-owned real estate? Questions …. Nonetheless, a full ocean-going, lake-bound vessel among trees does become an interesting image.
Listening to – Peter Gabriel’s ‘Come Talk to Me,’ ‘Steam,’ ‘Across the River,’ ‘Shaking the Tree’ and ‘Blood of Eden.’
Quote to Inspire – “Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.” – Bruno Barbey
Our landscape, just south of Canada’s 60th parallel, grows brighter as sunlight’s intense intensity intensifies, day by day. Today has been our first real glimpse of the spring we are moving into. Graders, snow blowers and huge dump trucks have been hauling snow away each day this past week to limit the water and ice that will be dealt with in spring’s thaw. Today, on February’s last day of 2013, we have a three week wait until spring arrives. The images presented here are a celebration of colour even in when most dismally discovered. Colour is celebrated in each image of the 53 Ford that continues to hold my attention. I might have to drive one one day. At present I have my eye out for a green, Canadian built, 69 Pontiac Parisienne … still window shopping, but one day I’ll find one.
Listening to – Alan Jeffries’ ‘John Hardy’ from the Coffee Til Midnight album.
Quote to Inspire – “I fell in love with taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.” Alec Soth
One of the inlets, off the Great Slave Lake serves as home to three smaller boats just across the way from where the Canadian Coast Guard moors its smaller vessels. The water, calm, reflects the boats and sky – the end of one of spring’s last days.
Listening to – Sigur Ros’ ‘Ný batterí,’ ‘Svefn-g-englar,’ ‘Fljótavík,’ ‘Inní mér syngur vitleysingur,’ ‘Sæglópur,’ ‘Festival,’ ‘E-Bow,’ ‘Popplagið’ and ‘Lúppulagið.’
Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is not created by a photographer. What they do is just open a little window and capture it. The world then writes itself on the film. The act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. They are the readers of the world.” – Ferdinando Scianna
Of all reasons to take up photography, the most significant and most poignant is to draw together memory of home. Edmonton’s Skyline from the southeast, from Strathearn Drive is the strongest memory I have of Edmonton. My grandparents’ last Edmonton home was on Strathearn Drive and my grandfather always had my brother’s and I out for a hike before a Sunday dinner with family, through this river valley, walking within this valley being a primary form of transportation for him and his (my mother’s) family, something more economical and much healthier than riding a bus or taking the family car down town. Perhaps one of my grandfather’s influences in my Life is one of appreciating the value of exercise and the achievement of exercise. Never a day would go by without my granddad getting out for a minimum of an hour’s walk wherever he was in the world. For me, Edmonton’s skyline recalls all the cycling I had done in Edmonton’s river valley through each summer listening to audiobooks and to music on a Sony Walkman.
This Edmonton skyline image recalls family history – our return to Edmonton via CN Rail and the CN Tower from Montreal in 1964, our first returned days at the Hotel MacDonald, the adventures with Scouts hiking through this valley and excursions to the top of the AGT Tower (now Telus Tower), Canada Place on the right is where we got our passports and on the left I had an Edmonton Journal paper route on 111 Avenue running from the Westbury Apartment to the Grandin Apartments. This image of Edmonton recalls the cool, fresh, wet weather of June. The photo is taken at the western most end of Strathearn drive that overlooks that part of Connor’s hill where the Edmonton Folk Festival is staged each August.
Listening to – Schubert’s Rondo in A for Violin and String, D. 438.
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
A few years back a film featured Joe Pesci as homeless vagrant haunting the boiler room of a Harvard University library – seen by students a few times, more apparition than real … thought to be the ghost of Walt Whitman. A student, an honours student, loses his prize possession, what he thinks to be a flawless regurgitation of his economics professor’s thinking on the state of the world, to the homeless vagrant. Within the story an economy is established. The vagrant trades portions of the student’s thesis for meals and a place to sleep … and it’s winter. The place to sleep is within a Chevrolet Corvair, what commonly was thought of as the surfer van of the sixties. The first version of the Chevrolet Corvair presented here is a duplicate of the surfer van in which Joe Pesci lays his head down in that Harvard winter in the film ‘With Honours.’
Listening to – The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary,’ Duran Duran’s ‘Thank You,’ Babble’s ‘Tribe,’ Lyle Lovett performing Irving Berlin’s ‘Blue Skies,’ The Pretenders rendering of ‘Forever Young,’ Lindsey Buckingham’s ‘On the Wrong Side’ and Harry Warren with ‘Muchacha.’
Quote to Inspire – “Anyone can shoot chaos. But the most perceptive photographers can make compelling pictures out of uninteresting moments.” – Alex Tehrani
Scott Smith, CMO of Motivation to Move, was the first person to let me and his listeners in on certain rejuvenating aspects of the secret Life of entrepreneurs, the matter of setting aside the occasional Friday for walkabout, times to reconnect with friends and colleagues, times to check-in, play, have a beer; the walkabout Friday would be a day to cruise not too far out of town on your Harley Davidson motorcycle and to arrive and explore … sort of the same way people hit Farmer’s Markets on Saturday mornings.
Not a Harley, but a thirties sedan among other glory-days vehicle – the 64 Mercury Monterey and a 55 Chevrolet Truck (cream coloured behind the sedan). Walkabout Friday is in full swing in Nanaimo, British Columbia. My wife is indoors at the Valhalla Pure buying some Keen shoes.
Listening to – Great Lake Swimmers’ ‘The Great Exhale’ and ‘Cornflower Blue.’
Quote to Inspire – “Photography cannot do much. It provides some level of information, yet it has no pretensions about changing the world.” John Vink