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.’
The Dawson Bridge reaches across the North Saskatchewan River within green verdure of Edmonton’s river valley in August.
Quote to Inspire/Consider – “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 that what you actually observed.” – Galen Rowell
Listening to – April Wine’s ‘Roller,’ David Bowie’s ‘Fame’ and Coldplay’s ‘Moses,’ ‘Yellow,’ and ‘Clocks,’ all from their Live in Sydney concert gathered in their ‘Live 2003’ album.
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.
Christmas, in the first year of my second degree at the University of Alberta, saw the fall term close. The first evening of break found me riding my mountain bike out to a friend’s home in Edmonton’s west end. And, on a snowy, Friday evening we cycled back to this bridge, the High Level bridge, crossing it, then stopping for refreshment down below in the Kinsmen park.
These are night shots, from two different sojourns in Edmonton this fall.
The second is a photograph intended, first found in a year ago winter drive across Edmonton to my brother’s home at Christmas. A clear view to the Alberta Legislature building looking across the fountain walkway, a photograph taken near 99 Avenue where it intersects with 108 Street. The construction of the Alberta Legislature and the High Level bridge occurs along a common timeline – the Legislature between 1907 and 1913 and the bridge between 1910 and 1913.
I’ve seen photographs of the bridge construction that coincide with the legislature’s construction from the South bank of the North Saskatchewan River, from a point that might be close to where the University’s Humanities building now resides; I would like to find an equivalent shot, but much of the landscape is obscured by vegetation – you’d, perhaps, get the dome of the legislature building looking across the top of the High Level bridge; you’d have to work to find elements for a photo.
There are also shots of an Edmonton sunrise from the south side of the Groat Road bridge.
Listening to: U2’s ‘Songs of Experience’ album, Rhiannon Giddens album – ‘Freedom Highway,’ Ezio Bosso’s ‘Music for Weather Elements,’ Stuart McLean’s ‘Vinyl Café – the Unreleased Stories’ and Carrie Newcomer’s ‘The Beautiful Not Yet.’ Barbara Brown Taylor’s ‘Learning to Walk in the Dark’ has had some insights – a good listen. Sebastion Barry’s ‘The Secret Scripture’ has found its way into my listening – a story of Lives and memory; it contains a poignant quote -‘There is seldom a difficulty with religion where there is friendship.’
Quotes to Inspire / Consider: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso; “Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Planning for class complete, the weekly, notification to students’ parents e-mailed home – it is Sunday’s end. My wife has been planning her week, too. I have taken her out to lunch today. Yesterday, her birthday, she brought to culmination weeks of planning; she organized a friend’s 50th birthday, a spectacular evening drawing together many people. She did well in bringing the event off.
Evening, now, allows my wife and I to settle into a Netflix series. Then there’s time for my wife to read and me a look back through summer photos. Photos, here, are summer images. They are those shot after hours in Canada’s Banff National Park, during a five day conference. Tonight, I’m looking at editing possibilities for the images. I could have photographed the Banff Springs Hotel from higher elevation. Doing so would have avoided branches within the image. I could also have used a telephoto lens to bring the viewer closer (more into the photo). I’ll have a go at it again with this new intention.
I met a photographer at the Banff Farmer’s market. She had photographed first snowfalls – landscapes of trees, snow and unfrozen water; pristine mountain landscapes. Winter images may also be an intention for me. I’ll have to work on that possibility.
Listening to – Cloud Cult’s ‘You Were Born;’ there’s an ‘On Being with Krista Tippett,’ podcast interview with Cloud Cult – the song’s origin pulls at your heart.
Quote to Consider/Inspire: “Art replaces the light that is lost when the day fades, the moment passes, the evanescent extraordinary makes its quicksilver. Art tries to capture that which we know leaves us, as we move in and out of each other’s lives, as we all must eventually leave this earth. Great artists know that shadow, work always against the dying light, but always knowing that the day brings new light and that the ocean which washes away all traces on the sand leaves us a new canvas with each wave.” – Elizabeth Alexander
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.’
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.