Firebird – Pontiac’s

1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 1
1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 1
1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 2
1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 2
1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 3
1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 3
1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 4
1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 4

At last week’s Show and Shine, in drizzling and spitting rain, my son stuck with me as my wife and daughter left for the warmth of home and school. As I scope out my next photo, Liam nudges me – “This one here is the one I’d go with, Dad.” The car he’s pointing me towards is low key, a General Motors vehicle, best thought of as companion or cousin to the silver and green 1967 Camaro SS Sport Coupes that sit at this Show and Shine. A 1970 Pontiac Firebird nestles between the silver, 1967 Camaro SS and the newer (by fifty years) green rendering of the Chevrolet Camaro SS … Transformers edition. Brown, the styling element that distinguishes this Firebird from all others is the hood scoop meant to drive air toward the filtered air intake of a 350 ci V8 engine, the same engine my father had in our green, 1969 Canadian-built Pontiac Parisienne … I know something about this engine. Moreover, this same car was the vehicle of my neighbor’s son, Derrick, who handy with tools and engines worked the mechanical elements of a 400 ci V8 and drive train to perfection before taking his Pontiac Firebird into the paint shop to add Turquoise colour to the body. Through two years (in my middle teen years) I was able to mark the transformation of his vehicle from my parent’s living room window in Edmonton … awestruck to see the vehicle in its final rendering. Understatement and power, my son is telling me about flying under the radar … enjoyably … with a muscle car. It’s the first time he’s told me about a car he’d like to own. Good schtuff!

Listening to – John Mayer’s ‘Route 66,’ Erick Morillo & Sacha Baren Cohen’s ‘I Like to Move It,’ Sheryl Crow’s ‘Steve McQueen,’ and Jason Mraz’ ‘Sleeping to Dream.’

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

Persona – Challenger

Challenger - High Level, Alberta 1
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 1
Challenger - High Level, Alberta 2
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 2
Challenger - High Level, Alberta 3
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 3
Challenger - High Level, Alberta 4
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 4

In 2006, Disney and Pixar created a movie called ‘Cars.’ Through anthropomorphization (computer imaging and human voice over), vehicles became characters. Vehicles were personified with front-end grill work that took on features of the human face and with animate vehicle bodies became expressive in gesture. What was the adult draw to the children’s film was the close attention paid to the style and design derivation linking the computer animation to original autos. For example, Doc Hudson’s character and vehicle are based on the lines and styling of the 1951 Hudson Hornet. Other characters are composite renderings of vehicles from a former time. Mater’s character is a vehicle cross reminiscent of a 1951 International Harvester ‘boom truck’ and the styling associated with a mid-fifties Chevrolet, one-ton Wrecker Tow Truck.

The film draws upon an underlying theme characteristic of North American society that of the car we drive representing significant attributes in our character … our auto becomes ‘how we represent’ and contains ‘our colours.’ Beyond actual clothing, an automobile is the next way we clothe ourselves in strength, colour and speed. And, that vehicle and how it’s driven embodies our habits, mannerisms, attitude and even outlook. People know us by how we drive. Anthromorphization in reverse – three 2013 Dodge Challengers were present at last week’s Show and Shine and what was noteworthy and perhaps the attracting feature of the Challenger’s design was the configuration of headlights in relation to the front of the hood and to the grill work. For anyone standing looking down to the front of the car from eye-level places the headlights under a long ark of the hood, a styling that conveys something similar to eyes looking up and out from under someone’s brow – an attribute and styling that likely makes these Dodge Challengers ‘mean machines,’ contenders on the road … or at least something fun to drive as it becomes persona for its driver.

Listening to – Sheryl Crow’s ‘Steve McQueen’ and ‘Real Gone,’ John Mayer’s ‘Route 66’ and Rascal Flatts singing a Tom Cochrane tune, ‘Life is a Highway.’

Quote to Inspire – “A photographer is an acrobat treading the high wire of chance, trying to capture shooting stars.” – Guy Le Querrec

Hopping Mesh – Forward

1969-73 GMC Camper Special - High Level, Alberta 2
1969-73 GMC Camper Special – High Level, Alberta 2
69-73 GMC Camper Special - High Level, Alberta
69-73 GMC Camper Special – High Level, Alberta

This blue GMC (1969-73) recalls a grey, overcast November winter weekend in Rimbey, Alberta and an orange GMC plain Jane half-ton, farm work truck of similar age. Starting in a pasture and working our way onto farm roads, my cousin taught me to drive in his orange GMC, a truck with a three-in-the-tree standard transmission having to be understood and engaged, letting out the clutch, adding gas and listening to and feeling where gears meshed, my cousin coaching in a truck that hopped forward occasionally as we set it in motion, movement becoming smoother in each drive between my cousin and uncle’s farms. I was twelve and away from home – good memories recalled to Life by this blue, GMC Camper Special,; it’s likely that this vehicle could have had a two-tone paint job in a previous Life (perhaps forest green and white). With the even beading of water droplets on the entire truck, it is evident that its owner knows how to detail a vehicle; it’s well preserved.

Listening to – Ray Lamontagne’s ‘Trouble’ and ‘All the Wild Horses,’ Radiohead’s ‘All I Need’ and Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up.’

Quote to Inspire – “Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham

Rain – Opportunities

Ford & Challenger - High Level, Alberta 1
Ford & Challenger – High Level, Alberta 1
Ford & Challenger - High Level, Alberta 2
Ford & Challenger – High Level, Alberta 2
Ford & Challenger - High Level, Alberta 3
Ford & Challenger – High Level, Alberta 3
Ford & Challenger - High Level, Alberta 4
Ford & Challenger – High Level, Alberta 4
Ford & Challenger - High Level, Alberta 5
Ford & Challenger – High Level, Alberta 5

A 1948 Ford F-100 and my neighbor’s mid-seventies Dodge Challenger sit side-by-each in the Northstar Chrysler car lot – room has been made for them. I’m interested in this Ford. With previous image edits of this truck, I have grown familiar with shape and colour – I know this vehicle visually, a modified Ford, artfully and skilfully crafted by someone who understands possibilities for shape, line and colour, someone who has been able to bring about what he envisioned accurately to a pleasing end state. This Ford is one that could easily find a home among California cars. For me, the Show and Shine has presented the opportunity to meet the owner again, even if briefly, an interaction in which I am able to direct him to older images of his truck on this blog.

Rain is the challenge for photography at this show in shine – my point of learning; rain falls and as the shutter opens and closes however briefly the result is that I’m capturing droplets of rain as they fall – the image looks excessively grainy. I’ll be thinking through how to work with rain in photography. Perhaps precision and detail are not to be aimed at in rain. Or, perhaps the learning is to recognize that rain will present white bits of contrast against darker colours in such images. Wind also featured with the rain, water droplets blowing onto the lens filter creating points of blur within images.

Listening to – U2’s ‘With or Without You’ and ‘Point of Surrender.’

Quote to Inspire – “Success is what happens when 10,000 hours of preparation meet with one moment of opportunity.” – Anonymous

Predecessor Pontiac

1928 Pontiac - High Level, Alberta
1928 Pontiac – High Level, Alberta

Saturday, a day for Northstar Dodge Chrysler to host High Level and region’s local show and shine, a day overcast with rain drizzling over each car, beading upon protected finishes of silicon and carnauba. With such weather it fits that this Northstar Dodge Chrysler dealership is situated on Rainbow Boulevard.

At 11:00 a.m., vintage car owners/collectors gather, cars being organized according to timeline – oldest to newest. These car buffs have had time to wake, wash and chamois their prized vehicles. The day becomes one of chatter, car-owner to car-owner, driver to driver, enthusiast to enthusiast. Within all the coffee, talk and bluster, an engine’s patter catches my ear, the sound sharp like a newly built V8, but the sound has a lighter, tubular aspect that is higher pitched – a 1928 Pontiac sedan arrives, its owner guiding it carefully into the spot allocated for the oldest vehicle at this show and shine.

I’m impressed by its colour, shape and current integrity. The radiator cap is the head of an Indian (Pontiac) and the top curve of the radiator has something that looks like two pennies, something I’ll have to research. I walk over to listen and watch as the owner demonstrates what he refers to as the vehicle’s air conditioning – he moves a crank high above the steering wheel, to the driver’s right; the crank moves the windscreen up and down to let air rush into the car, a mechanical innovation that makes sense … something that begins this day’s education about cars. I get a kick out of what this car represents – this Pontiac sedan precedes my father’s birth by four years, it precedes the second world war by eleven.

This 1928 Pontiac sedan is one of three Pontiacs at the show and shine – there’s a brown 1970 Firebird and an orange 1970 Lemans with decals (something that would have had a specialized appellation, ‘The Judge’). These latter vehicles are a year newer than the two door, green, Canadian-made, 1969 Pontiac Parisienne, the family car that my brothers and I grew up in and the car we shared in high school; the lines on each are recognizably Pontiac.

Listening to – The Verve’s ‘Lucky Man,’ Coldplay’s ‘Up in Flames,’ Snow Patrol’s ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are,’ and John Mayer’s ‘The Queen of California.’

Quote to Inspire – “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.” Susan Meiselas

Photos’ Manipulation

Buttertown Homestead - Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Buttertown Homestead – Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Sunset Above the Peace River - Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Sunset Above the Peace River – Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Store Shed - St. Louis Catholic Church - Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Store Shed – St. Louis Catholic Church – Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Derelict Vehicle - A Former Time - Buttertown, Fort Vermilion, Alberta
Derelict Vehicle – A Former Time – Buttertown, Fort Vermilion, Alberta

A weeklong endeavor involving our junior high students saw Alberta’s Trickster Theater group work with them to create and perform a handful of short dramas dealing with human rights around the world. Students engaged in this learning by doing, many came out from shells they’d been cloistered into through our long, long winter; all enjoyed the fun of team performance. My role was to collect images for presentation within an Animoto slideshow. In pre-screening the slideshow the phrase photo manipulation was used favourably to refer to presenting an image in new and interesting ways to draw the viewer to the action or happening within the image or to draw the viewer into the image’s feeling, mood or atmosphere. Saturation and desaturation, focus, detail and blur, tinting, vignette and cropping – all are manipulations of the photograph allowing amplification of image narrative or feeling, mood and atmosphere. The images presented here have each received photo manipulation, the editing that follows image capture and moves them to rendering.

Listening to – Tyler Bates’ ‘Pamplona’ and ‘Ventura,’ Tyrone Wells’ ‘Time of Our Lives,’ and Rascal Flatts’ ‘My Wish.’

Quote to Inspire – “A photo is a small voice, at best, but sometimes – just sometimes – one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness. Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought.” – W. Eugene Smith

What Else?

Valleyview Bench Seats 1
Valleyview Bench Seats 1
Valleyview Bench Seats 2
Valleyview Bench Seats 2
Valleyview Bench Seats 3
Valleyview Bench Seats 3

More than a passing glance, photography has you stop and see the subject, consider context and best perspective and then expose the image. Editing takes you one further step with the image; you encounter more of what comprises the image and more of what is possible for the image in its rendering. Here, are the Valleyview bench seats again, exposed in the full morning sun of a sunny, Sunday morning. Two weeks on from the exposure, I’m seeing more of the light and shadow-play in the image. I’m coming back to it to see what else it can become. The image reveals someone’s attempt to make the bench seats something more permanent with the anchoring of the base on the right. The image has me consider the weathering of the seats through yet another winter season. And, at the time of exposure I had no idea that I would be tinting the image toward red or blue, or, that I would be working the image through in black and white.

Listening to – Johnny Cash’s rendering of “God’s Going to Cut You Down.”

Quote to Inspire – “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams