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.
Six kilometres distance is my morning walk around High Level. I am plugged in, listening to a podcast that opens out a little further my understanding of the world.
Words from a podcast interview catch my ear – “The greatest mysteries are the simplest ones. Those are the ones that we confront every day. I had a conversation once with a priest – I was travelling and went to confession in this very remote place, and suddenly he said, ‘Well, we don’t know what God is, do we?’” These words recall assertions made by John O’Donohue and Miester Eckhart – ‘God is only our name for it.’ I recognize the voice and am surprised to hear this same assertion being alluded to.
At -27C I am out of our home, on the road, bundled in layers of protective warmth and I have my camera. Good! My listener’s ear is attending to words offered by Martin Sheen, and, so begins this ‘On Being’ interview with Krista Tippett.
Within the walk, Martin describes his early days at home among his father’s family and then as an actor who is nourished by way of a soup kitchen. Further on Martin opens-out how his son’s film, ‘The Way,’ came into being. Emilio Estevez, Martin’s son has directed the film about a father, Thomas Avery, whose son had begun the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago, but getting caught in mountains after dark and in fog may have fallen to his death. Thomas, played by Martin, takes on his son’s mantle of intention (that of seeing the world instead of just reading about it) and takes on the pilgrimage on his son’s behalf. Walkers and hikers will recognize the poignancy of this film for how it works with the matter of identity and community associated with a shared or common road. This film explores being upon Robert Frost’s ‘road less traveled.’
The eight seasons of ‘The West Wing’ series are recalled and the role of President Bartlett is under girded by Martin’s social activism and social conscience; Martin often is acting with an interior sense of what the President ought to do and this sense is buoyed up by brilliant dialogue and action provided by Aaron Sorkin. Martin’s personal evolution pulls him all the way back to Catholicism and to anchoring works of Thomas Merton.
The podcast is a good listen, a listening that I repeat. ‘On Being’ employs a listening strategy to anchor the interview within the listener. The edited interview is stellar – music, transition, clustering and flow of ideas. The uncut, un-edited interview is also presented as a second podcast, for a second listening – ideal for my longer morning walks. The second, uncut podcast interview holds other nuggets to be mined, revealing something more of interviewee and interviewer.
My morning – I have my camera with me, and, I stop and start, walking and listening my way around High Level. These images are those captured during my podcast listening.
Quote to Consider – “No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.” – Robert Adams.
Listening to – in addition to ‘On Being’ podcasts, recommendations from Steve Stockman (Stocki) from 2015: Jason Isbell’s ’24 Frames,’ ‘Hudson Commodore,’ ‘Flagship’ and ‘Speedtrap Town;’ Glen Hansard’s ‘McCormack’s Wall,’ ‘Grace Beneath the Pines,’ ‘ Paying My Way’ and ‘My Little Ruin;’ Jack White’s ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’ from ‘Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Llewyn Davis.’