Tattooed with graffiti, two hopper cars await loading and transport at High Level’s grain terminal, late on a Sunday afternoon, as the sun sets.
Listening to – Neil Young’s ‘The Needle and the Damage Done,’ Steve Miller’s ‘Take the Money and Run,’ Aerosmith’s ‘Living on the Edge,’ The Who’s ‘Magic Bus,’ The Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Brilliant Disguise,’ Alice in Chains’ ‘Heaven Beside You’ and The Black Crowes’ ‘Twice as Hard.’
Quotes to Consider – (1) “When I photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.” – Annie Liebovitz; (2) “Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.” – Dr. B. J. Miller (palliative care physician); (3) “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.” – Joan Miro
A Sunday – day’s end; we had enjoyed family’s camaraderie and been among cousins at our cousins farm, an hour away from our Edmonton home. On what is now known as the Queen Elizabeth II highway between Calgary and Edmonton we traveled home Dad at the wheel of our green 69 Pontiac Parisienne. Often on our right travelling northward with us would be a train – three or four engines together pulling a string of cars, box cars, black tankers, different hopper cars etc.. As we finally entered the city of Edmonton and made our right turn from Calgary trail onto 51st avenue at the intersection holding Koch Mercury and the Van Winkle hotel, we would encounter the train we had traveled with at the rail crossing behind Koch Mercury. And, as you sat in your car waiting for the train to pass you could sometimes signal the engineer to sound the train’s horn by putting your fist in the air and pulling down in same fashion that the engineer would with his hand on the cable line that would release the bellow of the train’s horn. More often than not, the train’s engineer would oblige, the horn would release and the sound could be heard for miles.
It’s been a generation or two since Dad and Mom took my two brothers and I to my cousin’s farm. I have had my own time working with trains during summers in University, often as rail car spotter. My own son is now entering his fourth year of University and there’s even been a good long while since he and I would read of Sir Topham Hat, Gordon, Percy, Thomas et al in Reverend W. Awdry’s ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ books.
And, my own interest in trains has not waned. The following photos are a number of first edits from Ogden and engines for viewing at the the Union Pacific railway station, there.
Listening to: ‘The Miracle (of Joey Ramone’) and ‘Every Breaking Wave’ from U2’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ – flip, you don’t have to buy the album, it’s free in iTunes; also the morning has been about Springsteen’s music and musicares celebration of his achievement.
Quote to Inspire – “… Photographs are evidence of not only what’s there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’
Recommended book encouraging literacy in children – ‘The Read Aloud Handbook,’ by Jim Trelease
In a spring that needs to take hold more firmly, winter drags on, a guest overstaying its welcome. Winter continues as constant in and around Alberta and features in photos – farms dusted with snow, grain elevators and Harvestor Silos providing colour against the snow, the Peace River melting through ice … covered with snow. Each are presented here.
Listening to – Francesca Battistelli’s ‘This is the Stuff’ and JJ Heller’s ‘What Love Really Means.’
Quote to Inspire – “The photograph is completely abstracted from life, yet it looks like life. That is what has always excited me about photography.” – Richard Kalvar
Kasia Sokulska, part of the husband and wife duo that comprises MIKSMedia Photography, presents inspired macro images on her Google + profile page, outstanding and beautiful work to view. Her work inspired me to take advantage of railroad ties, made impermeable to water yesterday in Sexsmith, Alberta. With my EOS 60D, a quarter of an inch from the railroad tie, hung upside down from my Manfrotto tripod (also a never-done) I explored water droplets.
On the weekend, Dave Brosha e-mailed to highlight upcoming workshops likely in Calgary and Grande Prairie, Alberta; these would be accessed through his facebook page.
Listening to – Shawn Colvin’s ‘Change Is On The Way.’
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
For a second time, a Peace River, Alberta sunset arrests my attention. This photo is an image exposed incorrectly, but one that has been shot as a RAW file; editing is able to rescue the image returning it to Life and intention – a sunset shot. Earlier this fall on a day when we (my family and me) had been to Peace River for a day’s outing, the day’s return journey began at sunset; we in our vehicle making the long five kilometre climb westward out of the Peace valley and enjoying an array, scatter and stir of cloud work – hues deepening, then diminishing. A sight to have caught as a photo, this sunset … but just as easily enjoyed by each of us for what it was; there will be other sunsets (we do live in Alberta). As an entity, the immediate follow-up to sunset is dusk, light that softens as it leaves, light that colours as it diminishes – in photographic terms it de-saturates (withdraws colour). As an entity, dusk is intermediary between the stark, factual reality of daylight and that part of Life that occurs in the unseen. As an entity, dusk seems to be a visual reminder of transience – at sunrise dusk is a part of how we enter the day; at sunset dusk moves us from our day into night. The day’s movement is a part of our forward Life movement reminding us of our impermanence.
Listening to – Snow Patrol’s ‘Please Just Take These Photos,’ The Eagles’ ‘Seven Bridges Road,’ Don Henley’s ‘Sunset Grill,’ The Cars’ ‘Good Times Roll,’ Cheap Trick’s ‘Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace,’ The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony,’ and U2’s ‘Crumbs From Your Table.’
Quote to Inspire – “It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It’s their intimate relationship with it.” – Antoine D’Agata
New Year’s Day – in Edmonton and its surrounding region the daylight hours of 2013 are sun-filled against a backdrop of blue sky. I’m out, looking around at the world with my camera, making my way from Edmonton’s west end, through its University area and Whyte Avenue. My wife, daughter and son are at my brother’s home reading … and there’s some baking going on.
I have some of the day with my camera.
The Edmonton Clinic at the University of Alberta reveals itself to be something eye-catching when complete – a longish curve of glass that will stretch for a city block in length and upwards about eight stories; the building will be about reflection as much as the glass permits a looking in on all that’s going on. But, the photo is not for today; the construction is still in progress and from the best angle impedes what is likely the best shot.
The day does hold its share of shots as I move to the Molson Brewery site that’s being dismantled. Then, it’s out to St. Albert to Edmonton’s northwest. My wife has recalled our seeing grain elevators as we drove into St. Albert last summer for a huge farmer’s market and she recommends searching for them. I have a look and discover that the grain elevators are part of a heritage museum in St. Albert. The elevators are behind chain-link fence, yet I can still photograph them.
I move from St. Albert west towards Spruce Grove. I use an elasticized, nylon tow rope to pull out someone in a silver, Dodge Dakota whose slid into a country ditch with the snow. On this road are many old farms and farm structures to photograph. But, at this time of day with an upcoming get family together this part of the day is about scouting visually for possible shots … for next time.
Listening to – Paul Gross and the Due South soundtrack.
Quote to Inspire – “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry
I am including four other photographs of the Wisconsin locomotive engine within the High Level Canadian National rail yard.
My interest in locomotive engines probably began with the matter of watching them pass by at railroad crossings, as a youngster, sitting among family in our 1969, silver-green Pontiac Parisienne; the big thing was to wave to the engineer and pull our arms down as if we were tugging on a rope above us – to our gesture we were sometimes rewarded with the engineer blowing the train’s air horn in our presence, something that would thrill us, creating big smiles on the faces of everyone. Later, during summers while in university, I served as spotter and brakeman moving hopper cars around rail yards in southern Edmonton. And, now, I still have an interest in trains and locomotives. I wonder how much of my current interest has been shaped by time enjoyably shared with my son reading Thomas the Tank Engine stories each night or watching the animated VHS video stories or in building different wooden track configurations and moving different engines around my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine track – Thomas, Percy, Rusty et al. Here, in Reverend Wilbert Awdry’s stories, it’s the everyday advice on the practicalities of living and the allegorical component of his stories that continues to hold my attention … there’s value and values there. My son is now eighteen and in university – many good facets of what life is about have been embedded in his character through these stories; these stories have been an enjoyable investment in my son’s future. And, still trains and what they accomplish capture my interest.
Listening to Billy Bragg and Wilco perform Stetson Kennedy from the Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2 album; then it’s been Black Rebel Motorcycle Club … who would have thought four seminary graduates would minister through music … like this in Ha Ha High Babe.
Quote to Inspire – “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 than what you actually observed.” – Galen Rowell