That Lens & Getting South

Backlight, Barn, Canon Camera, Canon Live View, Farm, Farmhouse, Fog, Homestead, Journaling, Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Spring, Still Life, Weather, Winter

Wind Turbines – Wind Farm

– Wind Turbines, Southern Alberta

3 – Homestead, Southern Alberta

4 – Homestead, Southern Alberta

5 – Homestead, Southern Alberta

6 – Homestead, Southern Alberta

7 – St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church, Twin Butte, Alberta

8 – St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church, Twin Butte, Alberta

9 – St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church, Twin Butte, Alberta

10 – Twin Butte, Foothills, Front Range Moutains

11 – Twin Butte, Foothills, Front Range Moutains

12 – Foothills Homestead

13 – Foothills Homestead

14 – Foothills Cloud Work

15 – Foothills Homestead

16 – Foothills Cloud Work

17 – Waterton Lakes National Park

18 – Waterton Lakes National Park

19 – Waterton Lakes National Park

20 – Waterton Lakes National Park

Getting south – it began with a camera lens. While I was required to be in Edmonton for our annual, mid-year teacher conference, I would have three days to myself prior to this conference. I could work on finding a used 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens, a rangefinder lens that while wide-angle is rumoured not to offer any distortion. It had just been advertised. And, I had been looking. One 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens was on offer in Calgary. It would be a used lens, but it would be half the price of buying one new. The seller was unloading gear – trading away and aiming toward new and better. From Calgary, I could then head south into the Pincher Creek, Waterton and Lethbridge areas and follow my eye’s curiosity and gather images with my camera.

Locking in this plan, I began my drive late on a Sunday afternoon in February. The drive would be under overcast skies. The temperature would be close to 0C throughout the drive. I would use ten hours to get to my destination. I could manage it. I would pass through Edmonton near 11:00 p.m., proceed to Red Deer and stay the night at a hotel there. The drive to Edmonton was uneventful. The drive beyond Edmonton was not ideal. Temperatures through the day had been warmer. I was driving a car, not my truck. I began my drive toward Red Deer. I got on to the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Highway (between Edmonton and Calgary). With temperatures close to 0C through the day and with a recent snowfall, the QEII was slushy, sloppy and slippery. I passed the Wetaskiwin turn-off and then encountered a brightly lit, highway alert road sign indicating that travel was treacherous. The drive became a matter of keeping a safe speed and working through the road’s slushy, ever-hardening, icy mess. I made it to Red Deer, got a hotel room, showered and got to sleep.

The next morning was sunny. I messaged the lens seller advising that I could meet today and provided a location in downtown Calgary for us to meet. The lens seller indicated that meeting at lunch was possible. All was in the works. I breakfasted across the way from the hotel at Red Deer’s Donut Mill. Then, the seller messaged back. The seller could not meet. The seller would need a day or two in order to meet. I am not sure how best to have managed this situation. But, the time frame would not work for this trip. And, the seller was deviating from his first communication. A red flag went up, for me. Many things could have been at play for the seller. And, perhaps aiming to meet in the same day as my indicating interest was problematic. I halted things and asked the seller to disregard my interest in the lens. All this occurred within and hour and a half of first messaging the seller.

I moved on.

With that done I found myself in Central Alberta, still with an intention to travel further south and to explore with my camera. Travel would take me to Calgary and to The Camera Store. I would look around at books, at new cameras (Nikon and Fuji), at used cameras, at used lenses, at new lenses, at camera bags. I would have two good chats with sales people – warm, educating, engaging conversations, conversations in which my curiosity was able to lead some of the way. Good. I left at the end of store hours aiming to return to the store as I came back through Calgary.

Onward to Lethbridge – my intention was to get settled in Lethbridge and work from there to look around southern Alberta. Later that evening, I got a hotel room, washed my car and got a meal.

The next day, after a good breakfast at the hotel, I started out. The day began as one overcast with heavy, grey cloud. But, weather in this part of Alberta is quite changeable in terms of how it interacts with the Rocky Mountains. Mountain weather is something intriguing, especially for my northern Alberta eyes – something I remember from times hiking along mountain trails on out-trips in the Crowsnest Pass and when camping in Banff and Jasper. Almost as soon as I moved south and west from Lethbridge I encountered windfarms – rows and rows of gigantic, white wind turbines used to gather / produce electricity. I would drive south from Fort MacLeod and on my route to Pincher Creek I would find other wind farms. In posting wind farm images on Facebook, earlier this year, I would find that many people in southern Alberta no longer see their value, are concerned about their impact on the environment and find themselves rejecting how they have altered the landscape they live within. Along the drive I would find last areas of prairie within foothills. I would find homesteads as the only structures seen on the land for miles and miles, the land being that allocated for grain farming. From Pincher Creek to Waterton Lake National Park I moved further into the undulation of foothills and the mountains; the weather was mountain weather, weather that can shift rapidly. Sunshine and bright blue sky would be there one minute, the next I was driving through or standing in a cloud. Cloud work so close to land has immensity and is something to take in. Light and shadow are always moving with these clouds revealing a shifting contour, shape and relief. The highway south from Pincher Creek becomes the path along which foothills meet the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Homesteads are a part of this landscape as well – grain farms and cattle ranches. Again, changeable mountain weather, mountain and foothill landscape, farms and roads – all would catch my eye, my curiosity, my imagination.

I took a chance on a historic site. I drove from the highway out and up to Twin Butte upon which St. Henry’s Catholic Church sits; to the east it looks out to the prairies; to the west it looks from the butte over a valley of foothills and to the front range of the Canadian Rockies. To look out over all this, immensity is there … and it would be appropriate to use the term majestic. I rounded out my day’s picture-taking with a small look into Waterton Lake National Park before returning to Lethbridge. I paid the day’s entrance fee and took a slow drive into the park to gather a couple of images – the Prince of Wales Hotel is subject of two of these images. A good day out with my camera, it was. The next day I would return to Edmonton, to colleagues, to a conference. The Zeiss Biogon 28mm lens remains a lens I am still hunting for.

Quote to Inspire / Consider – “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 – a cover of John Prine’s ‘Summer’s End’ by Sierra Hull; a song that’s so big and full of grace; Sierra does John proud with it. Good, good.

Seeing It, Naming It – There

Homestead, Journaling, Podcast, Prime Lens, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring, Still Life, Summer, The Candid Frame, Vehicle

Dunvegan 1

Dunvegan 2

Dunvegan 3

Dunvegan 4

Dunvegan 5

Dunvegan 6

Dunvegan 7

Dunvegan 8

Dunvegan 9

Dunvegan 10

Dunvegan 11

Dunvegan 12

Dunvegan 13

Dunvegan Bridge

In Alberta’s northwest my family and I have lived in Fox Lake, Garden River, La Crete and High Level. The roads are long and distances travelled influence our cost of living. It can be cost effective to travel south for supplies if you are buying in bulk and stocking up. Yet, buying local permits piecemeal buying as needed and supports local business. We buy groceries here at home. And, I will travel south in the year.

Dunvegan – it is a place I travel through on my way south to Grande Prairie; with the suspension bridge crossing the Peace River, it is a place I know by sight; it became a place I would investigate. Fifteen years would pass before indigenous Art, Alberta history and site use would coalesce with it being a fixed name in my mind – Dunvegan. Like other points along the Peace River you descend into this river valley. A road cuts a long two-kilometre gradient into each valley wall, north and south, to ease the braking efforts of heavy-laden transport trucks. At the lowest point, you cross the kilometre-wide Peace River on a yellow and brown suspension bridge. Then you accelerate moving up and out of the river valley – south towards Rycroft, north towards Fairview. Dunvegan is the name given to the plateau area under and surrounding the north side of the bridge.

Seeing Dunvegan – I would see Dunvegan in indigenous paintings at Grande Prairie Art galleries. The contour of the land folding down from a high river bank to plateau holds the eye. With skilled use of colour and light, the painter could draw attention to sacred place and practices. Longing for old ways was found in such Art. Still though, I was not recognizing these paintings as the area I travelled through a couple of times a year.

Dunvegan took hold in my classroom with my students. Each day, along with our school, students and staff read for 15 minutes. ‘Drop Everything And Read’ (DEAR) saw my students return to one book for regular reading, ‘Alberta Ghost Stories.’ One tale in the book told of a ghost sighting in an upper room in one of the old Dunvegan historical buildings. From what I recall, as with most ghost stories, light dwindles well past dusk. A living and breathing mortal is walking outside the house. He feels compelled to look up and sees someone or something looking at him. There is surprise, impact and connection in seeing and in being seen. The tale’s impact is greater finding out that the house has been shut-up for decades with no way in. Readers in my class always discussed what they thought was going on … offering speculation. The story became real to them. Like me, my students and their parents traveled through Dunvegan on their way to Grande Prairie. Often, they would stop at Dunvegan for lunch or a smoke break. The Dunvegan story held their imagination and during a travel break they would investigate as far as they dared. My students’ stories of being in Dunvegan would return with them to class every few months.

Still, haste in my travels got the better of me. I was not yet stopping at Dunvegan in my travels southward. And, it was only a few years ago that I first stopped in at Dunvegan. My wife had spoken about a nursery for spring bedding plants that she and a friend would go to hours south from High Level. She had been talking about Dunvegan Gardens, one of the best nurseries in Alberta. You find it at/on the eastern-most section of the Dunvegan plateau. Located between Fairview and Rycroft, the Dunvegan Gardens serves residents of Grande Prairie and from as far north as High Level.

One time, as she and I came upon the Dunvegan turn-off my wife pointed out the Dunvegan Gardens to me. It was the place she and her friend had been. And, my wife got me to slow down, turn-in and stop at Dunvegan to look around. I was finally connecting the dots – this was Dunvegan. Since that time, perhaps for the last six or seven years, I have been making time to stop and look around with my camera. Good. The Dunvegan site is a beautiful and worthy landscape in all seasons. One of these times I am hoping to pass through the area in late October or early November when the Dunvegan valley is sometimes shrouded in mists.

Dunvegan has been one of the prominent fur trading areas in Alberta. Fort Dunvegan was a trading post. Established by the Northwest Company, the Hudson’s Bay Company would later take over the trading post. A Factor’s house still stands. The site would evolve to hold two Churches, a Roman Catholic mission – St. Charles, and, an Anglican mission later – St. Saviour’s. Behind the Factor’s house is the plateau area upon which are four or five Tipis with poles raised waiting for hide or canvas covers. The site is older than Canadian history, the site being a meeting point or assembly area for indigenous peoples.

Quote to Consider / Inspire – “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy (Henri Cartier-Bresson).”

Listening to – The Candid Frame: Conversations about Photography podcast and Ibarionex Perello’s time in Japan in December, 2019; being present to situation, setting, light. Good, good.

Cold Mist

Backlight, Home, Journaling, Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Sunrise, Weather, Winter
January Mists - High Level, Alberta 1

January Mists – High Level, Alberta 1

January Mists - High Level, Alberta 2

January Mists – High Level, Alberta 2

January Mists - High Level, Alberta 3

January Mists – High Level, Alberta 3

January Mists - High Level, Alberta 4

January Mists – High Level, Alberta 4

High Level, Alberta images consider the cold of January – mist reflects light from main street, street lights (-18C); dense, early morning mist surrounds the high school (-42C).

Quote to Consider / Inspire: “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future (Sally Mann).”

Listening to: an audiobook of Sebastion Barry’s ‘The Secret Scripture;’ and, U2’s ‘Lights of Home.’

Long Solstice Shadow

Backlight, Christmas, Fog, Home, Journaling, Light Intensity, Lookback Photos - One Year Ago, Photoblog Intention, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Weather, Winter
Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 1

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 1

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 2

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 2

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 3

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 3

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 4

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 4

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 5

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 5

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 6

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 6

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 7

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 7

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 8

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 8

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 9

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 9

Colder Moments Around Edmonton - 10

Colder Moments Around Edmonton – 10

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.’

Morning Haze and Light-play

Backlight, Home, Journaling, Light Intensity, Lookback Photos - One Year Ago, On Being with Krista Tippett, Still Life, Summer, Sunset
Early Edmonton Morning in August - 1

Early Edmonton Morning in August – 1

Early Edmonton Morning in August - 2

Early Edmonton Morning in August – 2

Early Edmonton Morning in August - 3

Early Edmonton Morning in August – 3

Early Edmonton Morning in August - 4

Early Edmonton Morning in August – 4

Early Edmonton Morning in August - 5

Early Edmonton Morning in August – 5

Early Edmonton Morning in August - 6

Early Edmonton Morning in August – 6

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.’

Summer Look-back

Barn, Canon Live View, Journaling, Summer, Weather
Barn - Hay Lakes, Alberta 1

Barn – Hay Lakes, Alberta 1

Barn - Hay Lakes, Alberta 2

Barn – Hay Lakes, Alberta 2

Barn - Hay Lakes, Alberta 3

Barn – Hay Lakes, Alberta 3

Bird and Canola Field - Hay Lakes, Alberta

Bird and Canola Field – Hay Lakes, Alberta

Canola Field - Hay Lakes, Alberta

Canola Field – Hay Lakes, Alberta

Edmonton Skyline - Sunset 1

Edmonton Skyline – Sunset 1

Edmonton Skyline - Sunset 2

Edmonton Skyline – Sunset 2

Farm - Hay Lakes, Alberta

Farm – Hay Lakes, Alberta

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.

Listening to – Alexandr Misko, ‘Beyond the Box.’

Fluid Metal Clad

Journaling, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Winter
Rogers Place - Edmonton, Alberta Canada 1

Rogers Place – Edmonton, Alberta Canada 1

Rogers Place - Edmonton, Alberta Canada 2

Rogers Place – Edmonton, Alberta Canada 2

Rogers Place - Edmonton, Alberta Canada 3

Rogers Place – Edmonton, Alberta Canada 3

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.

Dawson Bridge Verdure

Backlight, Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Summer, Sunset
Dawson Bridge - Edmonton River Valley 2

Dawson Bridge – Edmonton River Valley 2

Dawson Bridge - Edmonton River Valley 1

Dawson Bridge – Edmonton River Valley 1

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.

Studebaker Summer Saturation

Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS L Series Lens, Canon Camera, Canon Live View, Farm, Journaling, Summer, Vehicle
Studebaker Farm Truck - Alberta 2

Studebaker Farm Truck – Alberta 2

Studebaker Farm Truck - Alberta 1

Studebaker Farm Truck – Alberta 1

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.’

Forgiving, Handheld Aurora

Home, Light Intensity, Night, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, School, Winter
Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, High Level, Alberta 1

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis, High Level, Alberta 1

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, High Level, Alberta 2

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis, High Level, Alberta 2

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, High Level, Alberta 3

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis, High Level, Alberta 3

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.