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 sunny, August day in central Alberta saw my wife, daughter (recently returned from Guatemala) and me driving back roads in central Alberta. Clouds were building through the afternoon – there would be a thunder shower this evening. My wife and daughter were content to read through the stop and start and camera work. The timeline was our own, we could stretch the day, we would return to camp after sunset. We could explore. I could look at the world through my camera lens.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind (Louis Pasteur, 7 December 1854). Other versions of this quote include: (1) Chance favors the prepared mind; (2) Fortune favors the prepared mind; (3) In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind; and, (4) Where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind.
Rogers Place is Edmonton’s venue for hockey in the National Hockey League. It is home to the Edmonton Oilers hockey team. The building attracts one’s eye with its metal tiles, a skin for the building. The metal cladding adds texture to the building. It reminds of fish scales or snake skin and fluid movement. A night image of this structure, working with available light should captivate – a never-done. For now this image is a study of what is there – check out these different edits.
I’ve been working through YouTube videos on photography. I am impressed with Sean Tucker, as a photographer and mentor, for how he thinks through and conceptualizes an image. I am impressed that his thinking is often broader than photography itself. Often, he’ll speak with good understanding to what’s happening for the photographer as she or he creates an image. The two quotes presented here are ones Sean has gathered. They deal with the pursuit of never-dones in photography and growth as a photographer. They are about stepping outside the box (our comfort zone) and goal-setting.
Quotes to Inspire / Consider: (1) “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for (William G.T. Shedd).” (2) “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it (Pablo Picasso).”
Listening to: J.D. McPherson’s album ‘Undivided Heart & Soul,’ a retro fifties set of tunes and narratives; The Cranberries’ ‘Linger,’ ‘Zombie,’ and ‘Ode to My Family.’ Sorry to find that Dolores O’Riordan, the captivating voice and lyricist of the Cranberries has passed. The songs ‘Linger’ and ‘Dreams’ were part of the nineties and hold memory in first years following school.
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 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.
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
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.’