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.
Enjoying spring’s weather and colour in these morning images along 20 kilometres from High Level to our airport and back.
Quote to Consider/Inspire – “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso
Listening to – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A. (Live Acoustic Version)’ from The Bridge School Concerts – 25th Anniversary Edition,’ Peter Gabriel’s ‘Shaking the Tree’ and Jason Isbell’s ‘Speed Trap Town.’
I returned to my computer late last evening. I confirmed that one of two family iPod Touch operating system updates was complete. My daughter returned home from an evening with friends – I had been waiting up for her. My day had held some writing – a proofread of my son’s resumé. An afternoon’s work would set him up for the world of work in a summer break between university terms.
Completing the proofread, I started on the iPod updates in late afternoon. I needed to allow time for download and installation. The wait recalled the conceptualization and practice of a technology sabbath. In the practice you would turn off all devices for a full day. You would power down all iPods, smartphones, computers, televisions from sundown on Saturday. On Sunday you would power them up after sundown on Sunday.
Sabbath is about this – gathering stillness, taking rest, gratitude for blessings, encountering others without interruption. Connection with family and friends occurs – seeing them, hearing them, enjoying them.
Without sabbath from technology we multi-task on several fronts. We occupy our waiting with other tasks or pursuits made possible by technology. The person on the computer looks from computer screen to smartphone and back again. Breaks at work, while taken with others, can become periods of silence among co-workers, all who stare into their smart phone. Life fills with tech busy-ness. So, for me, I ought to engage in and lead my family in a technology Sabbath … then I return to the computer and the iPods. The update is complete. On the computer I find image edits I have yet to post – rusting relics, images from a month ago in my return drive from Edmonton to High Level.
Listening to – Pico Ayer’s ‘The Art of Stillness’ and Krista Tippett’s ‘Becoming Wise – An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.’
Quote to Consider – “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry Thoreau
Today, my daughter dances refining skills at a dance workshop. My wife has my truck and gathers bottles in a Church-youth bottle-drive. Our week’s sermon explored the intricacy and direct assertion of faith being tied to works – within my week there has been my action and my shortfall. Much of Northern Alberta burns, consumed in wildfire; we’ve donated money to the Red Cross and gently-used clothing to the 80,000 Fort McMurray evacuees. Today, I am chauffeur, more behind the scenes and needed, as needed. Time in-waiting provides opportunity to edit images and is welcome respite … the activity fits the day. Images – a farmer’s field alongside a highway north from Valleyview serves as resting site for older vehicles, those from a few generations ago … used parts, ready for use – for structure or as donor car. For me, each vehicle associates to former lives in memory. What memories stir and surface for you?
Listening to – Dream Academy’s ‘The Love Parade,’ The Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout,’ Brian Houston’s ‘Next to Me,’ Nilsson’s ‘Jump into the Fire,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Radio Nowhere,’ Link Wray and the Wraymen’s ‘Rumble’ and Tim Armstrong’s ‘Into Action.’
Quote to Consider/Inspire – “I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as Life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting.” – Harry Callahan
Leaving school at day’s end yesterday, billows of white and tan smoke filled the blue sky south from High Level. Product at the Norbord strand-board plant burned. An order for evacuation of residents nearest the plant saw RCMP moving home to home asking people to leave the area. Residents were able to return home at noon today. They were to remain on immediate alert in case the currently held 3 hectare wildfire threatened with a change in weather conditions. Firefighters, slinging-helicopters and a water-bomber team all fought yesterday’s blaze from late afternoon until late in the evening.
Listening to – Sleeping At Last’s version of ‘The Safety Dance,’ Chris Garneau’s ‘The Leaving Song,’ Matthew Perryman-Jones’ ‘O Theo,’ Peter Bradley Adams’ ‘Be Still My Heart,’ One Republic’s ‘Ordinary Human,’ Lily and Madeleine’s ‘Things I’ll Later Lose’ and Ross Copperman’s ‘Holding On and Letting Go.’
Quote to Consider – ‘All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.’ – Richard Avedon
The weekend has held exploration of how best to edit and present mountain images; two methods for high dynamic range (HDR) rendering have been worked through. Then, it’s been about colour, light and shadow using Topaz software, Nik Software and adjusting clarity, exposure, vibrance and saturation in Adobe Lightroom. My LaCie 3TB external hard drive has informed me it is low on space during a 30GB edit of graduation photos – different solutions and possibilities are there; I’m in favour of not losing edits. So, it’s a matter of attaching a fourth external hard drive tonight.
Listening to – Sarah McLachlin’s ‘Blue’ with lyrics that begin with … “Songs are like tattoos …;” a cool idea, spurred on by Cezanne Jardin in her blog (quite something on a Sunday having been to church and hymns often express heart belief); then it’s on to a favourite tune, ‘Drawn to the Rhythm.’
Quote to Consider – “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams
The week’s end and our weekend have each held several endeavors, ones that have engaged me fully and used my mind and imagination fully. And, I’ve found that a mild cold has morphed into a productive cough and that I now have a prescription for antibiotics to see through to move me clear and past sickness. When I’ve been able to I’ve sat down with time for editing images, for looking through former results and for reviewing other’s image work. Our time in Jasper National Park in April, 2015 has been source for many of these edits. Have a look.
Listening to – Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians’ ‘What I Am,’ Concrete Blonde’s ‘Joey,’ Alanis Morisette’s ‘You Learn,’ The Dream Academy’s ‘Life in a Northern Town’ and U2’s ‘In God’s Country.’
Quote to Consider – “To me, photography is the 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
Dave Brosha offered a photography workshop last spring in Fort Vermilion, Alberta. One day was devoted to portrait photography; another was about landscape photography. The workshop allowed for many practical demonstrations (talked through practically) and for us to review and critique our photographs together as a group. There was also the encouragement to get together and get out as a shooting group. We had opportunities to watch Dave edit using Adobe Lightroom and one of the surprises that I’ve held onto was that the erase function (a circle area that you direct within the image to eliminate things like dust spots could be dragged instead of only clicked on much like an eraser to erase areas of the image). The images presented here are from our landscape work and in the Gull Lake homestead picture I’ve been able to remove a person from the photo with the erase function.
Gratitude – thank you, Dave. It was good to meet you and to witness your energy and approach as a photographer. It was good to take you into Buttertown to the St. Louis Catholic mission, a place that had been part of distant childhood memories for you with your Dad. Take good care of your good self.
Listening to – the Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony,’ U2’s ‘In God’s Country,’ Coldplay’s ‘Life in Technicolor’ and Depeche Mode’s ‘Policy of Truth.’
Quote to Consider – “There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas (1921-1986)
Day’s end, dabbling with high dynamic range edits in Adobe Photoshop CS6, shots from a La Glace golden hour at day’s end from two Sundays back. Very near the Rocky Mountains, the curiosity is the cloud work splaying out, unwinding cords of cloud above rolling foothills – not quite cirrus clouds, but clouds that hold line and shape against darkening night sky as back drop.
Quote to Consider – “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” – Dorothea Lange
Listening to – Jesse Cook’ ‘Ocean Blue,’ Clannad’s ‘Harry’s Game’ and Snow Patrol’s ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are’ and ‘Those Distant Bells.’
On a Sunday evening, two Sundays ago, we drove west from Grande Prairie. My daughter’s dance season had concluded. She journeyed homeward with friends. My wife and I remained. With time to ourselves, after our supper meal, we drove.
At the junction where highway 43 meets highway 723 we turned right and traveled northward to an as yet undiscovered location for us, the hamlet of Valhalla Centre. Halfway there, we stopped – my wife and I trading positions in our truck cab; she took the wheel and I was able to let my eyes meander over and through each new scene confronting us – scouting potential shots. While this region, the north side of highway 43, is a farming community the land use for farming was noticeably different from that immediately surrounding Grande Prairie; open, unfenced grain fields went on for kilometres; farm buildings accommodated the terrain more than a system for using the land. These farms were huge. The area drew memories of farm community scenes from Garrison Keillor’s ‘News from Lake Wobegon,’ the narrative series accompanying the live radio show, ‘A Prairie Home Companion;’ the stories are set in Minnesota and often poke fun at the Scandinavian/German-American communities. On the Canadian side of the border, CBC broadcasts a sister show, ‘The Vinyl Café’ with Stuart McLean.
Our drive continued to Valhalla Centre and where my wife could have turned left westward to uncharted territory for us, she took a right and we moved toward an area I had been through two weeks before, the area between La Glace and Sexsmith, Alberta. The images presented here are from a third homestead quite close to two others presented a few weeks back. My wife and I followed this drive with a week to ourselves for travel.
Listening to – U2’s ‘I Will Follow,’ ‘Trip through Your Wire,’ ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ ‘Magnificent,’ ‘Lucifer’s Hands’ and ‘Every Breaking Wave.’
Quote to Consider – “Photographing a culture in the here and now often means photographing the intersection of the present with the past.” – David DuChemin