Murchie’s, Munro’s & Family

Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 1
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 1
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 2
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 2
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 3
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 3
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 4
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 4
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 5
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 5
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 6
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 6
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 7
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 7
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 8
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 8
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 9
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 9
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 10
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 10
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 11
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 11
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 12
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 12
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 13
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 13
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 14
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 14
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 15
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 15
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 16
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 16
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 17
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 17
Victoria, British Columbia - 24 September 2016, 18
Victoria, British Columbia – 24 September 2016, 18

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.

At Home – Dad

Pontiac Memories - Manning, Alberta - Canada

The Open Road - Sunshine Ski Resort, Banff - Canada

It was a Pontiac, the car my father taught me to drive – an olive green, two-door Pontiac Parisienne built for 1969 yet available to Dad in the fall of 1968. On St. Brendan’s field, hanging out with friends, I saw Dad drive it home – colour, class, chrome and shape. It had a 350 cubic inch engine, powerful enough to pass others easily on the open road; Dad said it had ‘Pep.’ There were seat belts for us all and an a.m. radio tuned to CBC 740, CKUA 580 or CFRN 1260 on the dial … and you dialed in best sound. With Dad, I learned to drive carefully, eloquently and with ease. There were wake-up calls and near misses and other drivers who spoke with their horns. On the highway, Dad said my foot was a little heavy … he said that with a smile. The transition was from driving with Dad to driving alone the way Dad would have me drive. There were times when the tie-rod end came off, when after ten years the regulator was jammed so full with dust and sand that the alternator couldn’t keep a current running through the electrical system on a slow idle and there was that time when a lifter clanged loudly after a drive with me at the wheel. Dad knew what to do and we kept the Pontiac running. My Dad, who made time for all this, did this for me, his son.

Parker J. Palmer speaks of something similar with his father; his father gave him, “… a sense of being at home in [his] own skin and on the face of the Earth.” William Stafford’s poem ‘Father’s Voice,’ resonates in similar fashion.

Father’s Voice
by William Stafford

“No need to get home early;
the car can see in the dark.”
He wanted me to be rich
the only way we could,
easy with what we had.

And always that was his gift,
given for me ever since,
easy gift, a wind
that keeps on blowing for flowers
or birds wherever I look.

World, I am your slow guest,
one of the common things
that move in the sun and have
close, reliable friends
in the earth, in the air, in the rock.

Listening to – Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’ and for a bit more fun, ‘Bru’s Boogie Woogie’ – tunes Dad would play on a Saturday night on his Heintzman grand piano in vertical form, a very bright sounding piano.

Miasma Cover

Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada i
Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada i
Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada ii
Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada ii
Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada iii
Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada iii
Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada iv
Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada iv

The return, a drive home in late October; fog hangs in the air for two hundred kilometres – from Peace River north to Keg River Cabins. I’ve had my eye on this granary within these past two years as one to investigate with my camera. I’m liking the colour, textures and miasma – all visual opportunity.

Listening to – ‘The Dignity of Difference,’ an On Being podcast with Jonathan Sacks.

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy

Land’s Next Use

Strewn Timber - Rocky Lane, Alberta - Canada iv
Strewn Timber – Rocky Lane, Alberta – Canada iv
Strewn Timber - Rocky Lane, Alberta - Canada ii
Strewn Timber – Rocky Lane, Alberta – Canada ii
Strewn Timber - Rocky Lane, Alberta - Canada iii
Strewn Timber – Rocky Lane, Alberta – Canada iii
Strewn Timber - Rocky Lane, Alberta - Canada i
Strewn Timber – Rocky Lane, Alberta – Canada i

Timber, pushed down, lies strewn throughout a farmer’s field, a first step in clearing the land. Timber has also fallen across the structure of a homestead house yet has not crushed it. The house and a water-filled dugout suggest that a previous owner, another farmer, had initiated and abandoned a similar project in an earlier era. For now, timber will be gathered for burning; a winter or spring burn will reduce these trees and this homestead house to ashes, the land becoming ready for another use.

Quote to Consider – “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” – Diane Arbus

Listening to – Ibarionex Perello’s ‘The Candid Frame’ – episode 238, an interview with Sara Jane Boyers, Jesse Cook’s ‘Ocean Blue,’ Shadowfax’s ‘Move the Clouds,’ Agnes Obel’s ‘Fivefold,’ U2’s ‘Song for Someone’ and Sigur Ros’ ‘Glosoli.’

The Place Where We Are Right
by Yehuda Amichai

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the Spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plough.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.

Pathfinder Forays

1953 Pontiac Pathfinder - Manning, Alberta - Canada i

1953 Pontiac Pathfinder - Manning, Alberta - Canada ii

1953 Pontiac Pathfinder - Manning, Alberta - Canada iii

1953 Pontiac Pathfinder - Manning, Alberta - Canada iv

1953 Pontiac Pathfinder - Manning, Alberta - Canada v

Nissan Pathfinders – my wife and I have owned and driven three of these sports utility vehicles in Northwestern Alberta. We used each to travel in and out of Wood Buffalo National Park on our bi-weekly grocery run, a distance of 200km one way. Most of the time, the Pathfinder was locked in true four wheel drive and careening forward, sliding on any angle but straight along slick, clay-mud, corduroy roads or perhaps creating a first track along snow laden roads. The joke at the time was that we could have filmed a Nissan Pathfinder commercial because of the treatment each Pathfinder received and because of the durability and handling found in its use. And, though the Pathfinder did always find its path, there were humbling times when it got stuck and had to be pulled out – six times in my last year in the park.

A few years ago, travelling with my camera among the backroads in and around Blue Hills, Alberta, I stumbled across an early fifties Pontiac, an old grey vehicle that had been parked among trees and other aging farm implements along the entrance to a Mennonite farm. I photographed the vehicle and did some research. The Pontiac was a sedan, possibly one intended only for Canadian markets – a 1953 Pontiac Pathfinder. A Pontiac buff, having driven my father’s 1969 Pontiac Parisienne through most of high school, I was surprised to find that Pontiac had had its own Pathfinder.

On Saturday, I drove past a service station two kilometres north from Manning, Alberta. An old, early fifties vehicle was displayed on the property, having sat on the site, ready for sale, through these past two years; but, the vehicle has always had a blue industrial shipping container placed next to it, something which has made it awkward to photograph from a stance of adjacent backgrounds and from sunlight never totally surrounding the entirety of the car properly. As I drove by I realized that the shipping container was no longer there and that the opportunity of a good photograph was possible. I captured these images and in researching the Pontiac found it to be another 1953 Pontiac Pathfinder. It was good to spend time photographing the car and then it’s been fun to edit the images, too – each a high dynamic range (HDR) shot.

Listening to – Walter Trout’s ‘Almost Gone,’ a voice that sounds so similar to the Who’s Roger Daltry singing ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and ‘Baba O’Reilly;’ the song accompanies this rusting relic well.

Quotes to Consider – (1) “I’ve never taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.” – Diane Arbus. (2) “Some pictures are tentative forays without your even knowing it. They become methods. It’s important to take bad pictures. It’s the bad ones that have to do with what you’ve never done before. They can make you recognize something you hadn’t seen in a way that will make you recognize it when you see it again.” – Diane Arbus

Treasure, In Return

MacKenzie River Bridge - Fort Providence, NT - Canada i
MacKenzie River Bridge – Fort Providence, NT – Canada i
MacKenzie River Bridge - Fort Providence, NT - Canada ii
MacKenzie River Bridge – Fort Providence, NT – Canada ii
MacKenzie River Bridge - Fort Providence, NT - Canada iii
MacKenzie River Bridge – Fort Providence, NT – Canada iii

Perhaps twenty years ago, Chris Short, an art specialist from Newfoundland, slowed the pace of my thought when she asserted that between High Level and Edmonton, Alberta (750km), an artist could easily spend as many as three days to gather and respond to terrain and landscape in drawing and painting (and, then, you could repeat this task/vocation seasonally, too). Another friend coined an expression Chris would understand. In response to seeing fresh landscape and terrain, that friend would interrupt travel asking to … “Stop. Let me feast my eyes.” The call was to stop in our current proceedings and to take note with awe and wonder of something beautiful, right there, in front of us.

For the Yellowknife Photo Walk getting to destination would mean focusing on the drive and returning to many photographic opportunities encountered along the way at a future date. A similar conundrum confronted me in getting to my first Photo Walk in Fort St. John, British Columbia in 2011. In both cases, while opportunities for photos were available, my eyes and imagination would only be able to scout the scene and return to them at a later date. I would know where to return for future photographs, a treasure of sorts. Travel to Fort St. John had presented incredible autumn landscapes, a morning well-lit by sun with impending, dark winter clouds moving off in the distance; farmers, at that time, were completing their harvest, some still combining fields on either side of the highway between Rycroft and Fort St. John. In the same way, travel to and from Yellowknife presented many opportunities for images – the bridge among the terrain in the Rae Edzo area in the morning’s golden hour will be something to return for as will bison feeding on the warmer, sunlit side of the highway in the afternoon. Then, there was this bridge that crosses the MacKenzie River at Fort Providence. The river, at this point, spans almost two kilometres. Driving across this two lane bridge is a breathtaking experience. I stopped and in my friend’s words, I feasted my eyes. These images are the result.

Listening to – U2’s ‘Every Breaking Wave,’ John Mayer’s ‘The Age of Worry,’ Maroon 5’s ‘Lucky Strike,’ Coldplay’s ‘Us Against the World,’ Ed Sheeran’s ‘Little Bird’ and Snow Patrol’s ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are.’

Quotes to Consider – “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus; “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place …. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt