I returned to my computer late last evening. I confirmed that one of two family iPod Touch operating system updates was complete. My daughter returned home from an evening with friends – I had been waiting up for her. My day had held some writing – a proofread of my son’s resumé. An afternoon’s work would set him up for the world of work in a summer break between university terms.
Completing the proofread, I started on the iPod updates in late afternoon. I needed to allow time for download and installation. The wait recalled the conceptualization and practice of a technology sabbath. In the practice you would turn off all devices for a full day. You would power down all iPods, smartphones, computers, televisions from sundown on Saturday. On Sunday you would power them up after sundown on Sunday.
Sabbath is about this – gathering stillness, taking rest, gratitude for blessings, encountering others without interruption. Connection with family and friends occurs – seeing them, hearing them, enjoying them.
Without sabbath from technology we multi-task on several fronts. We occupy our waiting with other tasks or pursuits made possible by technology. The person on the computer looks from computer screen to smartphone and back again. Breaks at work, while taken with others, can become periods of silence among co-workers, all who stare into their smart phone. Life fills with tech busy-ness. So, for me, I ought to engage in and lead my family in a technology Sabbath … then I return to the computer and the iPods. The update is complete. On the computer I find image edits I have yet to post – rusting relics, images from a month ago in my return drive from Edmonton to High Level.
Listening to – Pico Ayer’s ‘The Art of Stillness’ and Krista Tippett’s ‘Becoming Wise – An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.’
Quote to Consider – “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry Thoreau
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.’
My first look with my camera is technical – ‘Will this vantage point work to create an image?’ I try it out. I gather an Edmonton image, one of several in climbing Connor’s hill. The hour is late on a Monday evening in February. Editing provides second look at the image, back home days later. There, I work through High Dynamic Range (HDR) image creation. Rendering holds choices – sharpening, colour, black and white, cropping. I try them out. Almost a month later, my look at this image is more settled and recalls memory – events and people through time. A fight and a chase occurred in this landscape. Among friends, before I was a teen an altercation occurred. We had ridden bikes perhaps five miles further than we should have, without parents knowing. We stumbled onto turf, that of someone older than us. We came out okay. But, that was way back in time. Connor’s hill, the part seen here is just below Edmonton’s Strathearn Drive. It is close to my grandparent’s home. My grandfather, my brothers and I hiked trails in the treed ravine in front of this part of Connor’s hill. Through the sixties, seventies and eighties Connor’s hill was Edmonton’s ski hill. The Edmonton Folk Festival occurs on this site, now. I have seen and listened to Fred Eaglesmith, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Martyn Joseph and Great Big Sea play on this hill. Five or six musical offerings are easily undertaken all at any one time. For me, the festival has been a place to reconnect with friends, a place to enjoy a glass of wine or beer through a warm August weekend. The festival has become a place to catch-up, settle-in and enjoy.
Listening to – Fred Eaglesmith’s ‘Wilder than Her,’ the Blind Boys of Alabama’s ‘Way Down the Hole,’ Martyn Joseph’s version of Springsteen’s ‘The River’ and Great Big Sea’s ‘General Taylor.’ Then, it’s Cat Stevens’ ‘Pop Star,’ Peter Gabriel’s ‘The Family and Fishing Net,’ then Joan Baez & Dirk Powell’s take on ‘House of the Rising Sun’and finally Billy Bragg with Wilco’s ‘Hot Rod Hotel.’ David Gray’s ‘First Chance’ is up, then it’s Cat Steven’s ‘Bitterblue,’ Gillian Welch with ‘Revelator’ and ‘The Way It Goes’ from Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings Machine.
Quote to Consider – “You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.” – Unknown
This building is likely the only building in Edmonton in the Flatiron architectural style – triangular in shape with curved windows at its toe. One would find this building in the twentieth century and it would reflect Edmonton opulence. The Gibson Block building, built in 1913, precedes many things. It precedes Canada’s involvement in World War I. It precedes the roaring twenties. It precedes the era of Al Capone, the American prohibition and a Canadian connection. It precedes the Great Depression. The Gibson Block building associates Edmonton to being Metropolitan. One would find a similar building in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. Its Canadian, older metropolitan style works well as possible landscape to Morley Callaghan’s novel ‘Such is My Beloved.’ One can imagine the Great Depression and the lives of Father Dowling, Ronnie and Midge intersecting in such a building, a building with ground level retail space, apartments upstairs and Turkish baths below. Neglected, the Gibson Block building faced possible destruction in the 1990’s. The Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation recognized possibility and repurposed the building. The Gibson Block building is now home to the Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre and provides refuge to those in need – homeless and transient women. At Christmas, the building’s curved glass toe held a huge dreamcatcher, one, in size, able to encompass a person.
Listening to – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘One Step Up’ and ‘If I Should Fall Behind,’ The Black Crowes’ ‘Twice as Hard,’ Neil Young’s ‘The Needle and the Damage Done,’ Alison Krauss’ ‘Lay My Burden Down,’ Hank Williams’ ‘My Heart Would Know,’ Willie Nelson’s version of Coldplay’s ‘Scientist,’ Lucinda Williams’ ‘East Side of Town,’ Shawn Colvin’s ‘All Fall Down,’ Peter Himmelman’s ‘Impermanent Things’ and Ryan Adams’ ‘Chains of Love.’
Quote to Consider – “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place … I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
This day had begun with intention – to consider the state of this wordpress blog and consider what’s next; what does it become? For the longest while this blog has been memory’s placeholder, a responding point for photographs created. In the editing of each image, memory could be pulled forward to surface, the image associating to personal history and consideration, a starting point from which to journal. Today, though, the question was that of what does this blog next become. Is it now time to move the photoblog towards a Blurb book or perhaps a Mixbook, a hardcopy, something you need two hands to look at?
The day began with photoblog intention, investigating the integrity of photo files starting with the blog’s oldest photos. I was surprised to find that first photos I’d posted were surprisingly out of focus – the consequence of using Adobe Lightroom with presets alone; these images were created long before editing images in NiK Collection and Topaz software. I returned to original images and had a second go at editing. Along the way I rediscovered images that had been b-sides, those that had not been first choices for presentation in this blog.
The endeavor began in fueling my body in front of a computer screen – coffee, an omelette and raisin toast. The images for editing were four-year old photos from Fort Vermilion, Alberta (December, 2011). A previous century building was first edit, a building that had been re-purposed to serve as restaurant – The Trappers Shack Diner. And, while it was all the go four years back, it has, within these past two years, sat vacant. This blog has tended to do that, encourage recognition of beginnings and recognition of how and when change occurs, particularly slower moving changes – the aging barn photographed has collapsed, the rare find of a La Crete-bound forties, three-tonne REO Speedwagon cab and chassis has now been sold and removed from its Manning, Alberta farmer’s field, the forested land that was forest, is now cleared, a farmer’s field with next use in Rocky Lane, Alberta.
Time editing, today, has held music. A friend and minister recommended new tunes, an album by Mary Coughlan and Erik Visser, ‘Scars on the Calendar’ – jazzy, dark and resonant in lyric and tune. A second album that I’ve previously looked for was recommended and found today on iTunes, ‘Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ a look at the sixties folk scene and the music associated with the movie, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis.’
Curious Quotes to Consider – “‘Religion and art,’ he says, ‘are almost the same thing anyway. Just different ways of taking a man out of himself, bringing him to the emotional pitch that we call ecstasy or rapture. They’re both a rejection of the material, common-sense world for one that’s illusory, yet somehow more important. Now it’s always when a man turns away from this common-sense world around him that he begins to create, when he looks into a void, and has to give it life and form.’” … Mrs. Bentley quoting her husband. Sinclair Ross, ‘As for Me and My House,’ p. 112; after re-reading this curious quote, the pull toward Carl Jung and his quote surfaced – “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” Jung’s quote is engraved on a dark metal plaque I have hanging in my office at school.
Listening to – musician and songwriter, Brian Houston’s ‘We don’t need religion,’ a protest song – ‘we could use the love of God’ (excerpted lyrics).
I had a go at photographing remnants of long ago creatures, fossilized and in many cases fully intact, displayed to be discovered again by the would-be archeologist at The Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology. The challenge then became that of presenting images that focused solely on the creature; that was accomplished with editing.
Quote to Consider/Inspire – “I began to realize that the camera sees the world differently than the human eye and that sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed.” – Galen Rowell
Listening to – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,’ Over the Rhine’s ‘White Horse’ and ‘New Redemption Song,’ The Steep Mountain Rangers’ ‘Atheists Don’t Have No Songs,’ Martyn Joseph’s recently released ‘Bobby,’ ‘The Luxury of Despair,’ ‘Are You Ready’ and ‘Sanctuary,’ Deacon Blue’s ‘Bethlehem Begins,’ The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York,’ Dustin Kensrue’s ‘This is War’ and Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Cry of a Tiny Babe.’
Merry Christmas, all – Take good care of your good selves.