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.’
I was in Iceland a year ago. The time was opportunity to move within and over unexplored terrain, alone. I would respond to it all, feasting my eyes through my camera lens, always working to understand the visual narrative of the land, its weather and people.
The windward-leeward interaction of mountain weather is a visible dynamic in Iceland. Atlantic clouds push into mountains producing rainy, spitting drizzle along their path. On the lee side they roll down, over mountains becoming a moving cloud blanket that dissipates, evaporating in its encounter with sunlight. Iceland’s cloud-work is extraordinary in its shift and shape, its play of light and shadow, its depths and in its interaction with the island. It is mountain weather, weather that can change radically within the space of a few moments. What was seen is revealed, here, as high dynamic range HDR images.
The lighthouse grounds at the Dyrhólaey Arch serve as orienting point for most images. From this crag black, volcanic sand beaches are visible. The Atlantic Ocean shimmers and rolls in. Mist and rain shroud distant islands. And, rays of sunlight stream through cloud and reflect upon the ocean. Inland, mountain snow melts exposing rock, sand and dirt. Lighthouse access is found driving up the side of this mountain outcrop along a steep, muddy, one-track gravel road, a series of switchbacks without road barriers. Poor weather needs a careful driver’s eye to prevent an unfortunate tumble off this crag. With my smaller SUV (a 2006 Ford Escape), the climb and descent were exhilarating as was greeting opposing traffic.
Quote to Consider / Inspire: “I never tried to revolutionize photography; I just do what I do and keep my fingers crossed that people will like it.” – David Bailey
Listening to – two ‘On Being with Krista Tippett’ interviews/podcasts: ‘Carlo Rovelli – All Reality Is Interaction’ and ‘Pádraig Ó Tuama – Belonging Creates and Undoes Us Both;’ ‘The Candid Frame podcast with Ursula Tocik;’ and, Ólafur Arnalds, Atli Örvarsson & SinfoniaNord perform ‘Öldurót,’ a remembrance in music, recalling Iceland.
Opportunity surfaced – we would have a Saturday in late September to ourselves on Vancouver Island. It would be two hours, our drive from Qualicum Beach to Victoria, and, it would mean two hours at the end of our day in return. But, it would allow us an afternoon among our favourite, family summer haunts.
Victoria’s Inner Harbour Causeway would open-out and hold our curiosity. We would walk and chat and tease. We engaged street theater performers and watched artists paint or draw. A person’s caricature would be created, a sculptor would carve in wood. We would people watch. My camera, following my eye, would move along harbour water finding boats and ships, old and new, moving and moored. Up from the causeway were Victoria streets and buildings. Green domes highlighted the British Columbia Legislature. The Fairmont Empress Hotel would command its view of the harbour – we had honeymooned here, within a room often provided to the Queen … all those years ago.
We walked from the harbour up Government Street. We would sift through ‘Out of Ireland’ imports – tartans and tweeds, quotes and blessings, jewels and people … almost a Cork jacket for me, there. We would cross back to Rogers’ Chocolates, each of us picking-out one or two, favourite Victoria Creams. Munro’s book store would hold us for hours. Literature, always current, from all parts of the globe would intrigue. You would find a book you thought someone would write at Munro’s. My wife would investigate current novels and favourite authors. As teacher, she would thumb through newest children’s books. As always we would empty this favourite book store, taking with us bags of books. With bags in tow we’d move next door, to Mom’s favourite coffee shop; we would sit down to tea and coffee, scones and macaroons at Murchie’s.
This day would become blessing, interruption within a difficult week – this outing would celebrate my wife’s birthday. And, we would remember Mom, Dad, brothers, grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, family friends and our times in Victoria.
Images – from that day in Victoria, 24 September 2016; also note that Justin and Sophie Trudeau welcomed Will and Kate on their Royal Visit to Canada (we’d happened upon this event) – hence images of the Canadian Forces, in their welcome of the Royal couple.
Quote to Consider / Inspire: “To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, there are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams
Listening to – Ólafur Arnalds, Atli Örvarsson & SinfoniaNord’s ‘Öldurót’ from their ‘Island Songs’ album, Brian Finnegan’s ‘Belfast’ from his ‘The Ravishing Genius of Bones’ album, The Six Parts Seven’s ‘What You Love You Must Love Now,’ Mooncake’s ‘Turquoise,’ Simon Steadman and TT Magruber’s ‘Sunshower’ and ‘Miss You’ by Trentemøller. Martyn Joseph’s ‘Sanctuary’ and Hedzoleh Sounds’ ‘Hearts Ne Kotoko’ have also featured in this morning’s listening.
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
Summer had begun. I left my truck at a Ford dealership for service and cycled eastward within Edmonton’s river valley. The morning featured billowing clouds against a bright blue sky. Rain and sun would feature throughout the day. I gathered in the world that met me with my camera. Here, the Alberta Legislature building sits in quiet summer morning repose.
Quote to Consider – “Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliot Erwitt
Listening to – Wardruna’s ‘Runaljod Raganarok’ album; if you are into the ‘Vikings’ mini-series, Wardruna provides the opening and closing soundscape, a song entitled ‘Völuspá.’ ‘Raido’ and ‘Odal’ are songs of interest.
A summer image, looks west from Baseline Road at 17th Street to Edmonton’s skyline; it appears as silhouette. To the left and right are various petroleum-based industries – the road is known also as ‘Refinery Row.’
Quote to Consider – “Just put on the lens and go.” – Miroslav Tichy
Listening to – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Open All Night,’ as first rendered on his Nebraska album – a rockin’ boogie on an electric guitar and the voice of Bruce, those two instruments, nothing else; the song is quite different from piano and band boogie as it is rendered on his ‘Live in Dublin’ performance. Also, listening to ‘The Candid Frame: A Photography Podcast’ and Ibarionex Perello’s interview of Stacey Pearsall and the subject of Military Journalism and the Veterans’ Portrait Program.
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).
Two summers ago, my wife, daughter and I enjoyed two weeks on Oahu. We rented a car, a Ford Fusion, for the time and used it to take us on day trips exploring Oahu. In the second week we returned for perhaps the fourth time to Haleiwa, part of Oahu’s North Shore. Exploring, shopping and photo gathering were elements of that day. We’d each finished an ice cream cone and were buying t-shirts for my son when sirens of fire engines moved through town – one, then, five minutes later another.
To the north, a plantation, perhaps a mile away was burning and dark black smoke was billowing in the air.
When traffic had returned to its steady flow we got into the car with the intention of returning to Honolulu for the evening. Traffic had slowed, returning to an ambling pace. As we headed away from Haleiwa the idea to see the site of the fire attracted my curiosity. I took a right from the main road and followed a one-lane backroad toward the fire. I thought better of it; the backroad to the plantation was narrow and blocking traffic would be a problem.
I stopped our vehicle, got out and looked back over my right shoulder to see these wind turbines with a rainbow coming down in the midst of them – an opportunity for a photograph had presented itself. I attached my 70-200mm lens to my Canon 60D, zoomed in and captured these images. I posted the image on this blog maybe eighteen months ago, an image edited on my laptop while waiting for clothes to dry in the laundry room of the Marriott Hotel in Honolulu. The original posted is the third image above. Yesterday, I explored this sequence of images and found a few others to share. My thanks to Mark Kurtz for drawing my attention back to these images.
Listening to – Parov Stelar’s ‘Room Service,’ Nitin Sawhney’s ‘Firmament,’ the Gotan Project’s ‘Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre)’ and Quantic & Tempo’s ‘Sabor.’
Quote to Consider – “In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” – August Sander
The week has presented opportunity to work with Adobe Photoshop CS6 with High Dynamic Range (HDR) images – side-lit clouds in sunset’s golden hour present colour, light and shadow in interesting ways; I’m re-editing two sets of bracketed images for High Dynamic Range work. ‘The Pave’ is a term used by La Crete Mennonites to refer to a seven mile stretch of narrow-shouldered highway that becomes the last portion of road in my October drive from High Level to La Crete. In this image clouds billow in a rhythm, catching colour above ‘the pave’ moments before the sun descends below the horizon. The work in this photo was that of tearing myself away from the impending meeting to capture this colourful image … I would be late. The second image was part of a return drive from Grande Prairie from this past fall, undulating clouds reflected within slough water. In both, I’ve been working with Adobe Bridge and then with the automated function in Adobe Photoshop CS6 to merge bracketed photos into a single HDR image.
I have also been exploring the messages of authors, Courtney Martin (her book, ‘Do It Anyway’) and Parker J. Palmer (his book, ‘The Courage To Teach’), this week. Courtney’s book looks at core elements of resilience and advocacy … sort of ‘The Freedom Writers’ meets the real world in extraordinary and exemplary ways. Parker’s book considers teaching from many facets, one being the inner teacher within the student that the teacher needs to connect with in order to bring about learning. The book is crammed with teaching truth. I am about half-way through and will be moving through it a second time.
Listening to – Dan Mangan & Jesse Zubot’s ‘Cumulonimbus (Newport, ’63),’ Nick Laird-Clowes’ ‘Golborne Road’ and Arvo Part’s ‘Speigel im Spiegel.’
Quote to Inspire – ‘Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.’ – Matt Hardy