Category: Prime Lens

Her Garden

Utah Flower 1

Utah Flower 1

Utah Flower 2

Utah Flower 2

In my life time, I have been witness to my mother’s gardens. She had three successive gardens, one in Edmonton, another in Brampton and her final garden in Qualicum Beach. Her gardens were always something to take in. Her garden would contain trees and flowers and shrubs, and, through the seasons there would be the colour of active and full Life and there would be the wither of desaturation found in dormancy. Through the year, my mother would research plants she’d like to grow and then take them on in her garden. This summer, our first scouting drive into Utah put us on the road for six hours doing a large loop of the southeastern part of the state. We found these flowers, plants very similar to some my mother had in her garden and occasionally would have in a vase on her dining room table.

Listening to – U2’s ‘California (There is No End to Love)’ … it starts out recalling the Beach Boys’ tune, ‘Barbara Ann’ … “Bar, Bar, Barbara, Santa Barbara.”

Quote to Consider – “For photographers there is, finally no difference – no greater aesthetic advantage – between the effort to embellish the world and the counter-effort to rip off its mask.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’

Buttertown Storehouse

Storehouse, St. Louis Mission - Buttertown, Fort Vermilion, Ab 1

Storehouse, St. Louis Mission – Buttertown, Fort Vermilion, Ab 1

Storehouse, St. Louis Mission - Buttertown, Fort Vermilion, Ab 2

Storehouse, St. Louis Mission – Buttertown, Fort Vermilion, Ab 2

The northern lights were out this morning in my pre-dawn walk around High Level – ice crystals are in the air; with last night’s heavy billowing clouds we’re nearing our first snowfall. Here, an image contains two end-points of high dynamic range editing; curiously, I’m liking the colour (tinted) version of the old, old store house at the St. Louis Roman Catholic mission in Buttertown – Fort Vermilion, Alberta. The image has me thinking to former priest, John O’Donohue and different parts of four lectures he’s presented and a journaling exercise he has people work through. The first question to work from is to articulate the seven things that are controlling ideas/elements in your Life – premises upon which your Life is founded.

Listening to – an investigation of the ‘Primitives,’ a group recommended with the ‘’ photoblog; ‘Crash’ is the first tune I come across. Then it’s ‘All the Way Down’ and ‘Earth Thing.’

Quote to Inspire – “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough” – Robert Capa

Deposit Point – Grain

Grain Bin - Dixonville, Alberta 1

Grain Bin – Dixonville, Alberta 1

Grain Bin - Dixonville, Alberta 2

Grain Bin – Dixonville, Alberta 2

Grain Bin - Dixonville, Alberta 3

Grain Bin – Dixonville, Alberta 3

On the back road between Manning and Fairview old, wooden grain bins are found and are located within large fields as deposit points for grain in harvest. Well-constructed wooden grain bins still stand while those that were constructed hastily erode, leaning and falling over. Those made with plywood walls sometimes have a wall missing leaving only the frame and exposing the bin’s interior. Wood grain bins are more a thing of the past with corrugated metal grain bins made by Butler, Westeel or Roscoe now being used, bins set on cement pads, often clustered at highest dry points on a farmer’s field. This well-constructed grain bin has caught my eye regularly; caught at the time of harvest amid ready and ripe grain wood’s texture and lines appeal as does colour and context.

Listening to – Kacey Musgrave’s ‘Keep It to Yourself’ and David Gray’s ‘Flame Turns Blue.’

Quote to Inspire – “What I did, anybody can do.” – Weegee

HDR – Image Subjects, Revisited

HDR - 1947 Ford One Tonne Tow Truck, McLure, British Columbia

HDR – 1947 Ford One Tonne Tow Truck, McLure, British Columbia

HDR - North of 60 Bus Shelter Seats, Valleyview, Alberta

HDR – North of 60 Bus Shelter Seats, Valleyview, Alberta

I have had a go at creating two High Dynamic Range (HDR) images in the last while. In landscape images my practice is to shoot with Automatic Exposure Bracketing (creating 3 images in succession -1, 0 & +1) and explore how the images will turn out in HDR. The images are of subjects I have shot before; but, they are not the original image shots included in previous posts. They are ‘also-ran’ images of the 1947 Ford One-tonne Tow Truck from McLure, British Columbia and the ‘would-be’ bus shelter seat, North of 60 style. In both the detail, lines and range of light are enhanced (or at least different).

Listening to – today it’s been the conclusion of Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’ on the long drive home from Edmonton to High Level. The narrative provides glimpse of Monarchy, Ecclesiastical ambition and all that was behind building cathedrals and parishes; the story moves from Life at the local/village level all the way to Thomas Beckett and King Henry and those who contested the throne.

Quote to Inspire – “Vision is that original spark that was ignited within you and made you pick up a camera to capture whatever it is you saw, that made you turn to shout “Did you see that!” only to find no one there–so you created an image to do the telling.” ― David duChemin, Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

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

Prop, Actor & Old School

Camaro Transformed - High Level, Alberta

Camaro Transformed – High Level, Alberta

Camaro (Old School) - High Level, Alberta

Camaro (Old School) – High Level, Alberta

585 brake horsepower in a Chevrolet, a car with less weight than a half-ton truck, a car engineered to hold the road at high speed and while cornering creatively, a car Chevrolet distinguishes with notoriety by allowing it to become prop and actor within a movie – The Transformers. This year-old Camaro SS takes a spot on Northstar Chrysler’s lot two vehicles down from its old school predecessor, the original Camaro SS from almost fifty years ago, Chevrolet’s second sports car after the Corvette, a vehicle powered by a 350 ci V8, a car my son and I have ridden in, a car my cousin has owned.

Listening to – Robbie Robertson’s ‘Shine Your Light,’ The Perisher’s ‘Trouble Sleeping,’ and U2’s ‘Crumbs from Your Table.’

Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is the pause button on life.” – Ty Holland

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


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