Looking Up & Forward

Barn, Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS L Series Lens, Canon Camera, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Farm, Home, Homestead, Journaling, Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Still Life, Vehicle, Vehicle Restoration, Weather, Winter
Fifties Ford - Fort Vermilion, Ab - Canada

Fifties Ford – Fort Vermilion, Ab – Canada

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.

Shed - Buttertown, Ab - Canada 1

Shed – Buttertown, Ab – Canada 1

Shed - Buttertown, Ab - Canada 2

Shed – Buttertown, Ab – Canada 2

Shed - Buttertown, Ab - Canada 3

Shed – Buttertown, Ab – Canada 3

Windrow - Buttertown, Ab - Canada

Windrow – Buttertown, Ab – Canada

Combine - Buttertown, Ab - Canada

Combine – Buttertown, Ab – Canada

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

Treasure, In Return

Backlight, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Fall, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Journaling, Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Weather
MacKenzie River Bridge - Fort Providence, NT - Canada i

MacKenzie River Bridge – Fort Providence, NT – Canada i

MacKenzie River Bridge - Fort Providence, NT - Canada ii

MacKenzie River Bridge – Fort Providence, NT – Canada ii

MacKenzie River Bridge - Fort Providence, NT - Canada iii

MacKenzie River Bridge – Fort Providence, NT – Canada iii

Perhaps twenty years ago, Chris Short, an art specialist from Newfoundland, slowed the pace of my thought when she asserted that between High Level and Edmonton, Alberta (750km), an artist could easily spend as many as three days to gather and respond to terrain and landscape in drawing and painting (and, then, you could repeat this task/vocation seasonally, too). Another friend coined an expression Chris would understand. In response to seeing fresh landscape and terrain, that friend would interrupt travel asking to … “Stop. Let me feast my eyes.” The call was to stop in our current proceedings and to take note with awe and wonder of something beautiful, right there, in front of us.

For the Yellowknife Photo Walk getting to destination would mean focusing on the drive and returning to many photographic opportunities encountered along the way at a future date. A similar conundrum confronted me in getting to my first Photo Walk in Fort St. John, British Columbia in 2011. In both cases, while opportunities for photos were available, my eyes and imagination would only be able to scout the scene and return to them at a later date. I would know where to return for future photographs, a treasure of sorts. Travel to Fort St. John had presented incredible autumn landscapes, a morning well-lit by sun with impending, dark winter clouds moving off in the distance; farmers, at that time, were completing their harvest, some still combining fields on either side of the highway between Rycroft and Fort St. John. In the same way, travel to and from Yellowknife presented many opportunities for images – the bridge among the terrain in the Rae Edzo area in the morning’s golden hour will be something to return for as will bison feeding on the warmer, sunlit side of the highway in the afternoon. Then, there was this bridge that crosses the MacKenzie River at Fort Providence. The river, at this point, spans almost two kilometres. Driving across this two lane bridge is a breathtaking experience. I stopped and in my friend’s words, I feasted my eyes. These images are the result.

Listening to – U2’s ‘Every Breaking Wave,’ John Mayer’s ‘The Age of Worry,’ Maroon 5’s ‘Lucky Strike,’ Coldplay’s ‘Us Against the World,’ Ed Sheeran’s ‘Little Bird’ and Snow Patrol’s ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are.’

Quotes to Consider – “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus; “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

Buttertown Snow

Canon Camera, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Farm, Flora, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring, Still Life, Vehicle, Weather
Buttertown New Holland Combine - Fort Vermilion, Alberta - Canada

Buttertown New Holland Combine – Fort Vermilion, Alberta – Canada

Buttertown Truck Cab - Fort Vermilion , Alberta - Canada

Buttertown Truck Cab – Fort Vermilion , Alberta – Canada

Buttertown snow melts, revealing different finds among Fort Vermilion’s north settlement trees on a Saturday, one of the last grey few before the intensity of spring light warms and colours the world anew. Here, blurring elements in each image to explore the result.

Quote to Consider – “Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” – Don McCullin

Listening to – Agnes Obel’s ‘Fivefold’ and Junip’s ‘Don’t Let It Pass.’

Swathed, Corduroy Rows

Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Farm, Flora, Journaling, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring
International Combine - Whitecourt, Alberta 3

International Combine – Whitecourt, Alberta 3

International Combine - Whitecourt, Alberta 4

International Combine – Whitecourt, Alberta 4

On fields, rolling in their contour, somewhere between Sangudo and Whitecourt, Alberta, an International combine sits, no longer harvesting grain from broad swathed, corduroy rows; the combine is placed within a farmer’s field close to the highway to attract its sale – another farmer could use this International 914 for parts. For me, though, driving past through each season the International’s structure, angles and colour presents contrast to its surrounding landscape attracting my attention. I’ve been meaning to photograph it for some time. Last June, a solitary drive home provided opportunity; and, over the last few nights I’ve been able to edit the image.

Listening to – Peter Gabriel’s ‘San Jacinto,’ ‘In Your Eyes,’ ‘Solsbury Hill,’ ‘Shaking the Tree’ and ‘Blood of Eden.’

Quote to Consider – “… there is a difference between photography conceived as ‘true expression’ and photography conceived (as it is more commonly is) as faithful recording ….” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’

Remnant Population

Barn, Canon 60D, Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS L Series Lens, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Fall, Farm, Farmhouse, Flora, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Home, Homestead, Journaling, Lookback Photos - One Year Ago, Photoblog Intention, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Season, Sigma Lens - Wide Angle 10-20mm, Spring, Summer, Weather
47 Ford Tow Truck - McLure, BC

47 Ford Tow Truck – McLure, BC

Farm Buildings - Valleyview, Alberta 1

Farm Buildings – Valleyview, Alberta 1

Field, Combine & Buildings - Nampa, Alberta 1

Field, Combine & Buildings – Nampa, Alberta 1

Harvestor Silos - Rimbey, Alberta 1

Harvestor Silos – Rimbey, Alberta 1

Harvestor Silos - Rimbey, Alberta 2

Harvestor Silos – Rimbey, Alberta 2

Hay Harvest - Keg River, Alberta

Hay Harvest – Keg River, Alberta

Morning Colours - Keg River, Alberta 1

Morning Colours – Keg River, Alberta 1

Morning Colours - Keg River, Alberta 2

Morning Colours – Keg River, Alberta 2

Summer Cloudwork - Greencourt, Alberta

Summer Cloudwork – Greencourt, Alberta

Telus Tower - Edmonton, Alberta

Telus Tower – Edmonton, Alberta

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

Upon that Unprofitable Land

Canon 60D, Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS L Series Lens, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Farm, Light Intensity, Lookback Photos - One Year Ago, Photoblog Intention, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Still Life, Weather, Winter
Massey-Harris Combine, Peace River, Alberta – 1

Massey-Harris Combine, Peace River, Alberta – 1

The back forty is a farming phrase taken to mean the untended area of a farm, land not in public view, land not regularly or productively used by its farmer. The back forty may be difficult to navigate with farm machinery. It may contain a slough or the water table may be high enough making the work of land use unprofitable. Such land, untamed, untrammeled and unused is often best used as a place for storing farming machinery that you might need for parts in future days. North from Peace River, Alberta, this Massey-Harris sits on the steeper slope of a field, an area of land that its farmer has found difficult to use, part of what might described as the back forty.

Listening to – Snow Patrol’s Those Distant Bells, Matthew Perryman Jones’ Keep It On The Inside, Murray McLaughlin’s Hard Rock Town, Liz Longley’s Unraveling and Shawn Colvin’s All Fall Down.

Quote to Inspire – “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry

Massey-Harris Combine, Peace River, Alberta – 3

Massey-Harris Combine, Peace River, Alberta – 3

Massey-Harris Combine, Peace River, Alberta – 2

Massey-Harris Combine, Peace River, Alberta – 2

Step Into Line

Barn, Best Practices - Photography, Canon 60D, Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS L Series Lens, Canon Camera, Combine (Farming), Farm, Farmhouse, Flora, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Prime Lens, Spring, Still Life

Ray LaMontagne’s song ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ plays, a tune I’m drawn to lyrically and melodiously. It’s a tune that says as much about the creation of a song – “you beg, you steal, you borrow” – as it does about the act of settling into Life and working through disillusionments, “Are you gonna step into line like your daddy done, punchin the time and climbin life’s long ladder?” It’s a tune that looks at the cost of pursuing individuality (or greatness) versus conforming to Life’s norms (mediocrity). It seems also to be the tune of the man further along the road looking toward a younger one, perhaps hoping to help him avoid Life’s misteps, perhaps gauging the outcomes of the younger man’s choices and responses to Life events. In this, there’s the sideline vicarious living out of life through the actions of another, a younger man who aims to make his stand and put his footprint on the world. The song’s really about that twofold look at oneself – the you that pursues passions coming against that wiser part of self that looks critically at actions, outcomes and costs. There’s wrestling with truth and wrestling towards truth. In content the lyrics associate well to much of what Tom Cochrane sings about (e.g. Boy Inside the Man) … more good tunes.

Photos – out and away on a Saturday morning that extends longways through most of the day returning me home in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Old-time farm buildings and homes feature in these photos amongst Alberta spring weather, a mixture of moisture laden air rising as the sun heats the earth, the air rippling in mirage fashion in convection’s warmth.  Clouds billow and stack throughout the day becoming backdrop to earthly structures – land, trees, buildings and roads.

Listening to – David Gray’s Fugitive, Ray LaMontagne’s I Still Care For You and Ryan Adams’ Oh My Sweet Carolina.

Quote to Inspire – “For me the printing process is part of the magic of photography. It’s that magic that can be exciting, disappointing, rewarding and frustrating all in the same few moments in the darkroom.” – John Sexton

Collected, Not Yet Discarded – Other Photographs from the Week

Best Practices - Photography, Canon 60D, Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS L Series Lens, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Farm, Farmhouse, Home, Homestead, Light Intensity, Photoblog Intention, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Season, Still Life, Vehicle, Vehicle Restoration, Winter

Farms, farm buildings, farm equipment and the occasional treasure of a rusting relic have surfaced within this week’s compiling of photographs.  Rather than let them fall into the discard pile it may be good to give them their due, cluster them into photo gallery format and allow you a look at second, third and even seventh choices.  Below, because this week’s photographs have dealt with farming images, I’m posting the lyrics to Murray MacLauchlan’s Farmer’s Song, a treat to sing and a song that you can find yourself singing with others also around a campfire. Lyrics as found on Lets Sing It http://artists.letssingit.com/murray-mclauchlin-lyrics-farmers-song-2s98rgh#ixzz1nMbsXNcE

Farmer’s Song – Murray McLauchlan

Re-released 9 October 2007 in Songs from the Street: The Best of Murray McLauchlan

Dusty old farmer out working your fields

Hanging down over your tractor wheels

The sun beatin’ down turns the red paint to orange

And rusty old patches of steel

There’s no farmer songs on that car radio

Just cowboys, truck drivers and pain

Well this is my way to say thanks for the meal

And I hope there’s no shortage of rain

 

Straw hats and old dirty hankies

 Moppin’ a face like a shoe

Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real

 From a kid from the city to you

 

The combines gang up, take most of the bread

Things just ain’t like they used to be

Though your kids are out after the American dream

And they’re workin in big factories

Now If I come on by, when you’re out in the sun

Can I wave at you just like a friend

 These days when everyone’s taking so much

There’s somebody giving back in

 

Straw hats and old dirty hankies

Moppin’ a face like a shoe

Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real

From a kid from the city to you

Quote to Inspire – “Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects. The object is nothing, light is everything.” – Leonard Misone

Listening to – She Walks on Roses by Bill Mallonee & Vigilantes of Love from Audible Sigh, then Mercy of the Fallen by Dar Williams from Beauty of the Rain and then finally Red Clay Halo by Gillian Welch from Time the Revelator.

That Old A&W Shirt and A World Fed

Best Practices - Photography, Canon 60D, Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS L Series Lens, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Combine (Farming), Farm, Farmhouse, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Home, Light Intensity, Photoblog Intention, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Winter

Farmhouse, Grain Bins & Combines

Curiosity surrounds this image.  A derelict farmhouse is at geometric center point for farm buildings and as many as four combines from the fifties and sixties – three on the left (one is hidden behind the darker one) and one on the right, in front of the grain bin.  The buildings have not been burnt off the land and the combines no longer work; again, there’s an air of abandonment as well as reverence for what was a family’s starting point.

My cousin, a farmer, in his first decade of marriage would occasionally wear an A&W shirt from its nation-wide hamburger restaurant chain, something likely found and bought from a Goodwill or Value Village or Thrift Store back in the eighties. I’m not sure if his wearing of this shirt was youthful cynicism or if he was making light of the fact that as a farmer he fed the world – all farmers do this … but role/position in what one does for work as farmer sometimes blurs/shifts to the background what farmers accomplish on a global scale. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about how many people all his grain and all his cattle could keep alive in one year; I wonder if he has?

My cousin and his wife ran a mixed farming operation in partnership with his father and his mother in Rimbey, Alberta, an area of Alberta situated in a golden triangle blessed with the right combination of rain, sun and cloud for their grain crops, an area of the world that supported a sizeable Hereford cattle operation, as well. The Blindman River runs through their property and while summer was an extremely busy season, my cousin likely looked forward to days when friends and relations would visit, allowing him to break away from heavy or mundane routines. On our visits, we’d go back into the wooded ravine and talk. There’d be good-hearted, entertaining, teasing back and forth as we investigated the currency of each other’s lives in playful interrogation.  A good amount of bull-s**t would extend exaggeration into all that our stories could become. On my cousin’s farm, I watched him grow from a boy building model cars, to a youth with a grain elevator job who was dating (… and owning a black, two-door, 1966 Chevelle), to a young spouse, into a farming partner, to a father, and then two decades later into an innovative entrepreneur with patents for frost-free nose pumps.

In recent years I’ve been struck by how close to the land they may actually have been living and how much their success or failure as farmers depended on their ability to rely upon and support their neighbors; help offered and help received is/was really an investment in community and in each other. I am impressed by the humility they exercised in allowing themselves the help offered by neighbors who took care of them and saw them more as family than neighbors. Likewise I am impressed by the care they showed not only to our family, but towards others by putting something positive in their lives when they needed it … even if this was only done by way of good-hearted humour and teasing during an evening board game.

Stories take me back to this era of time when farms such as this one captured in this image were starting points for Canadian families.  One set of Canadian stories about farm-life were W.O. Mitchell’s Jake and the Kid Stories.  The other story that opened out the time toward moving into the fifties was John Grisham’s A Painted House. The farm I know best, though, is that farm my cousin grew up on; and, then I come back to this image and the questions I have about leaving it in this state – it must be memorial, something that draws memory back to what was and who they were that made things happen, feeding the world.

As I’ve searched through my music for songs associated with Canada and with farms I’ve run into Murray McLauchlan, a singer and songwriter whose album I purchased would have been one of the first three albums I ever purchased.  The one that would have pulled my ear to the radio would have been Hard Rock Town, a song I tried to understand in terms of narrative in grade 8, 9 or 10; the other would have been Farmer’s Song, a song that could be sung around a campfire in unison, a song that could be sung in a prairie tavern when everyone’s collected on a Friday or Saturday night.

Listening to – Murray McLauchlan’s Hard Rock Town from his Songs from the Street album and Farmer’s Song, done I think with Murray McLauchlan et al in Lunch at Allen’s Catch the Moon album. Finally, tonight I purchased Ryan Adam’s Chains of Love from his Ashes & Fire album.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “A photographer without a magazine behind him is like a farmer without fields.” – Norman Parkinson; (2) “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy