The sky is blue. Long, thin wisps of cloud move at higher altitude in the atmosphere – we could have cloud cover in a day’s time. Following winter solstice, the sun perches low over the horizon in the afternoon. At 2:00 p.m. shadows run long over unimpeded surfaces. Buildings on either side of Edmonton city streets become canyons holding solstice shadow. Without a cloud blanket, the sun’s radiant heat will continue to escape and our part of the world will grow colder in coming days. In daylight, it is -32C … it is a colder day for some photos. Steam, a by-product from buildings maintaining heat, drizzles upwards into the atmosphere. Colder images from a colder Edmonton afternoon during Christmas break.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “The most important thing about photography is who you are, and I can go into depth about the psychology of that, but there’s no way you can take a photograph and not leave your imprint on it. Every time you hit the shutter it’s based on who you are, that’s what makes you different from everybody else. My style is that I shoot from the heart, to the heart (Joe Buissink, Light Stalking).”
Listening to: Carrie Newcomer’s ‘The Beautiful Not Yet,’ ‘Three Feet or So,’ ‘Sanctuary,’ ‘Cedar Rapids at 10 AM’ and ‘A Shovel is a Prayer.’
An early, July, Saturday morning in Edmonton finds me with my camera at play with haze and light.
Quote to Consider / Inspire: “Elegance is a virtue. Elegance is simplicity. I learned about elegance … because one day I was in Japan and saw a totally empty house and then a small detail … like a flower arrangement or painting. And, the rest is empty. This is elegance … because … there’s only one detail that you can pay attention to. Elegance is about getting rid of all the superfluous things and focus on the most beautiful one (paraphrase, Paul Coelho).”
Listening to: Cloud Cult’s ‘You Were Born,’ from their album ‘Light Chasers.’
A Studebaker farm truck, a shot found, photographed on a drive from Lake Miquelon into Edmonton on an early August, summer afternoon in Alberta. I got low with a 70-200 mm lens shooting upwards to the truck on a knoll in the highway corner of a fallow field. A Canadian flag celebrates Canada being a nation of 150 years (1 July 2017). From this vantage point the flag hides a RE/Max billboard advertising sale of farm land along the flat deck of the passenger side of the truck. The first edit plays with saturation of summer colours. The second edit is more literal, one true to the scene, true to Central Alberta summer weather and the mix of blue sky and clouds.
Quote to Consider/Inspire – “Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location.” – Joe McNally
Listening to: Bruce Hornsby’s ‘Mandolin Rain,’ ‘Look out Any Window,’ and recognizing that his ‘Go Back to Your Woods’ is a song also done by Robbie Robertson. I’m further along in Sebastion Barry’s ‘The Secret Scripture;’ a fascinating set of narratives revolving around one, one-hundred year old character – Roseanne McNulty – told linking to one shared narrative gathered within this novel; among other things it holds a family ghost story that will give you the willies.
Watching: Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition with Ian Plant (from B&H on Youtube) – a sensibility and set of conceptualizations that meets me well. Another is ‘Star Trails Photography Tutorial: Free Software’ offered by Serge Ramelli. A final one, just watched, is ‘Mentors,’ a photo project giving homage to people who have mentored photographer Sean Tucker as a young man – totally interesting to find the term two phrases in the talk – ‘grieved humanity’ and Eugene Peterson’s book title referenced, ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.’
A successful capture and rendering of the Aurora Borealis on an evening’s walk a month ago – surprised to find that my Olympus camera is this forgiving with a handheld shot – ISO 8000, f/4 and 1/3 of a second.
Words to Inspire / Consider – “The more ridiculous you look while taking a photo, the better that photo will probably be. Photographers can’t be afraid to get into strange and awkward positions to get the shot they’re after.” — Pei Ketron
Listening to: Junip’s ‘Line of Fire,’ The Tragically Hip’s ‘Poets’ and ‘Scared’ and Springsteen’s ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’ done by Jen Chapin & Rosetta Trio.
A few days drive from home, I stop my truck … my eyes have found something. I walk this scene, allowing my eyes to question ‘What is it that is here?’ I set camera upon tripod. I look and frame what I see – ‘click.’ Light’s point of origin directs golden light to and around the landscape it is falling upon – ‘click.’ Light’s absence, its shade and shadow and depth – at sunset, shadows are growing long – ‘click.’ My eyes are finding passage of time – ‘click.’ I’ve recognized something in the landscape and quality of light. I am recalling something – ‘click.’ I manage the machine, my camera, working aperture, shutter speed and ISO – ‘click.’ I am exposure bracketing to seven shots at one-step intervals – ‘click, click, click, click, click, click and click.’ HDR shots are possible – ‘click.’ My intent is not only to capture and hold this moment in memory – ‘click.’ It is to recast reality with the image produced – ‘click.’ Wheat fields that blanket rolling foothills are drawing my imagination to this scene – ‘click.’ Appreciation for what I see builds – ‘click.’ A long-ago memory loosens, … ‘click’ … connecting me to what I now see for the first time as an adult – ‘click.’ A sense of something familiar grows – ‘click.’ My mind resides and works equally in another place – ‘click.’ It anticipates the other side of download, edit and image production, ‘Can I bring the edited image produced close to what I now see?’ ‘Click.’ Weeks pass. I make time to edit images. I remove the SD card from my camera and download it onto an external hard drive. A Lightroom edit begins. In the edit, the surprise of the extraordinary occurs; what my eyes and camera captured weeks ago is now re-seen and more fully seen in the image that has been created. Good.
Images – Foothills Wheat Crop, Manning Canola, Nampa Grain Truck and Spruce Grove Canola.
Quote to Consider/Inspire: “Look for LEICA patterns; Look for lines, edges, intersections, contrast and angles in the shapes, light and shadows of the global and local elements of a photo to create a harmonious composition,” John Kosmopoulos.
Listening to: Molly Tuttle & John Mailander’s ‘Another Side, Tell Me,’ ‘Morning Morgantown,’ ‘Moonshiner,’ ‘I’m Over You’ and ‘Red Prairie Dawn;’ Spencer Elliot’s ‘Torque.’
We were in Edmonton and only days into our summer break when I seized the opportunity to cycle along Edmonton’s River Valley Bike trails. These trails were ones I road between terms at University thirty years ago. Then, I road a Kuwahara, chromoly steel-framed mountain bike. I bought it after my 1986 convocation and completion of my first degree. Now I road a new, Giant Hybrid Roam I. It replaced my weathered, well-ridden, fifteen-year-old, yellow Specialized HR (HardRock) Comp mountain bike. I donated it to Goodwill and bought the Giant Roam I.
The trail I remember had been a quick-paced, two-hour ride. The route covered upwards of forty kilometres. Now, I encountered the River Valley’s up and down on each side of the North Saskatchewan River. It passed by the Riverside Golf Course, through Rundle Park, out to the Strathcona Science Centre, then back along Ada Boulevard to Concordia College. From there, it moved past the Dawson Bridge, under the City Centre, past the Alberta Legislature, across the High Level Bridge, alongside the Pitch-and Putt behind the Kinsmen Field House, under Saskatchewan Drive toward the James MacDonald Bridge, then the Low Level Bridge and finally up a rigorous climb from under the St. Joseph Seminary out of the River Valley and then through Forest Heights Park to McNally High School where my truck waited.
Where I had completed this trek in two hours, thirty years ago, this well-worn path was taking me upwards of three and a half hours to complete. Sections of the once familiar route now suffered neglect – cracks and frost-heaves made the trail uneven. Hard-core, cycle-til-you-drop Edmonton cyclists had taken to spray painting cracks with bright paint to remind and to warn other cyclists of bumps along the trail. Other parts of the cycling trail were being restored. In one case a cycling bridge beneath the Shaw Centre was being dismantled and replaced. A detour was needed around this construction site – a ten minute, hard climb out of the valley with travel along the edge of the city centre core. Cycling time extended. Detours added delay.
Stopping to gather photographs slowed my cycling circuit. I was searching-out images associating to memories of early morning cycling in the Edmonton River Valley. Other images took-in and experimented with Edmonton architecture. Composition in some photographs now seems hasty. Cycling’s faster pace has seemed, at this later editing date, to have limited my awareness of all (or other) composition choices. Images that I photograph while walking hold different consideration. Walking into the scene gathers perception for what an image can become. Good consideration for how to frame a shot can occur. Three days of early summer cycling gathered these images.
Listening to – Keith Jarrett’s concert album, ‘The Köln Concert’ from 24 January 1975 – enjoying this as a former piano player.
Quote to Consider / Inspire: “Adequate photographers use their sight, good photographers use their senses, and great photographers use their souls.” – A. J. Compton