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.’
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.
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.
I got out for an afternoon drive on a Saturday late in February. I gathered my cameras and set off for a look around within Alberta’s MacKenzie Municipal District.
From High Level I traveled south. I would cross the Peace River ice bridge through slushy water at Tompkin’s Landing, traveling no more than 10km/h. Before I got there, on the hill descending toward the ice bridge a blue, aquamarine colour caught my eye. The colour belonged to a seventies Ford F-150. Someone had dragged it a ways into the trees. It, like the 1970 Buick GS next to it, had served a purpose and was left there – a rusting relic. Tromping into knee deep snow I gathered photos.
Driving past Blue Hills, farms held livestock, the occasional horse and derelict farming implements. I detoured along back roads behind Buffalo Head Prairie. There, second and third generation families are operating farms that have grown in size through the years. Many families are moving from original homestead homes built in the forties into new homes. The older homesteads stand holding memory’s residue. Next, I drove behind La Crete to the Heritage museum. The museum site holds old buildings from the La Crete area, old farming implements and machinery. The old Tompkin’s Landing ferry that transferred people and vehicles across the Peace River is there. The museum is one I want to return to for photos. And, people are invited to arrange a tour of the site. It might be something to see in early June.
Later, in moving past Fort Vermilion and into Buttertown, I managed to get my truck stuck in snow. I had seen some Buttertown buildings built with Swedish log cut corners. They were likely more than a hundred years old and I had been meaning to photograph them for a while. In parking my truck on a snowy road shoulder, I got too close to the shoulder’s edge and my truck and I slid sideways into the ditch. I did not have to wait too long for help though. A young Mennonite farmer out for a drive with his date stopped. He took some time (an hour or so) and was able to pull my truck back onto the road. And, he didn’t want anything for his trouble. He was just being neighborly. Good on him!
I stayed in Buttertown for another hour or so before sundown and my return home with pictures, better for being out of the house, better for being away from town, grateful for all that my afternoon had held.
Quote to Consider – “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams
Listening to – Martyn Joseph’s ‘Strange Way,’ Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Wondering Where the Lions Are,’ David Gray’s ‘My Oh My’ and James Taylor’s ‘Country Road.’
The crest of the Hudson’s Bay Company is affixed to the southeast corner of the Bay store on Edmonton’s Jasper Avenue. The crest recalls Peter C. Newman’s book, ‘Company of Adventurers,’ a history of the Hudson’s Bay Company in North America.
A decade ago, as a home education coordinator, I travelled within our school division boundaries helping parents provide their children with an education within their homes. The area of our school division encompasses an area equivalent to that of three small European countries. In one day, I might work with four to eight students and have driven as much as four to six-hundred kilometres. Windshield time was a part of the job. In one month, during my travels, I worked my way through an unabridged audiobook of ‘Company of Adventurers’. What was extraordinary was the fact that some of our northwestern Alberta territory featured within the book. What also was intriguing was that many of the stories about Life working for the Hudson’s Bay Company remained true.
In Meander River, for instance, an old Hudson’s Bay trading post was still in use. It had had its title transferred to a Church and a thrift store serving the Dene Tha’ people was being operated within the building. Part of Newman’s book highlighted the fact that the temperature in a Hudson’s Bay post was often kept close to zero as a means to encourage departure of customers after they’d made their purchases. This was the case in this building; heated by a wood stove the family tended to congregate close to the fire through the winter and were always dressed in layers of clothing. The family operating the thrift store chose home education as the means to educate their child.
Quote to Consider – “Unless you photograph what you love, you are not going to make good art.” – Sally Mann
Listening to – The Primitives’ ‘Crash,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Radio Nowhere,’ The Who’s ‘I Can See for Miles,’ Link Wray and the Wraymen’s ‘Rumble’ and Green Day’s ‘East Jesus Nowhere.’
My first look with my camera is technical – ‘Will this vantage point work to create an image?’ I try it out. I gather an Edmonton image, one of several in climbing Connor’s hill. The hour is late on a Monday evening in February. Editing provides second look at the image, back home days later. There, I work through High Dynamic Range (HDR) image creation. Rendering holds choices – sharpening, colour, black and white, cropping. I try them out. Almost a month later, my look at this image is more settled and recalls memory – events and people through time. A fight and a chase occurred in this landscape. Among friends, before I was a teen an altercation occurred. We had ridden bikes perhaps five miles further than we should have, without parents knowing. We stumbled onto turf, that of someone older than us. We came out okay. But, that was way back in time. Connor’s hill, the part seen here is just below Edmonton’s Strathearn Drive. It is close to my grandparent’s home. My grandfather, my brothers and I hiked trails in the treed ravine in front of this part of Connor’s hill. Through the sixties, seventies and eighties Connor’s hill was Edmonton’s ski hill. The Edmonton Folk Festival occurs on this site, now. I have seen and listened to Fred Eaglesmith, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Martyn Joseph and Great Big Sea play on this hill. Five or six musical offerings are easily undertaken all at any one time. For me, the festival has been a place to reconnect with friends, a place to enjoy a glass of wine or beer through a warm August weekend. The festival has become a place to catch-up, settle-in and enjoy.
Listening to – Fred Eaglesmith’s ‘Wilder than Her,’ the Blind Boys of Alabama’s ‘Way Down the Hole,’ Martyn Joseph’s version of Springsteen’s ‘The River’ and Great Big Sea’s ‘General Taylor.’ Then, it’s Cat Stevens’ ‘Pop Star,’ Peter Gabriel’s ‘The Family and Fishing Net,’ then Joan Baez & Dirk Powell’s take on ‘House of the Rising Sun’and finally Billy Bragg with Wilco’s ‘Hot Rod Hotel.’ David Gray’s ‘First Chance’ is up, then it’s Cat Steven’s ‘Bitterblue,’ Gillian Welch with ‘Revelator’ and ‘The Way It Goes’ from Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings Machine.
Quote to Consider – “You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.” – Unknown
I like this look of pencilled shadow and light as one means of rendering photographs. The week has allowed me to replace failing office equipment, to clear things that have been on my desk far too long and to remove former prints from my walls (decluttering toward what’s next, physically and inspirationally). I have had time for reading Dave Brosha’s e-book, ‘Illuminated;’ it contains thought process and the practical considerations along the way in creating each photograph within the book. Yesterday, I got my truck stuck in snow and need to be pulled out – a gift in many ways and humbling. This, after a friend disclosed that he has cancer. In our discussion, yesterday, he concluded with ‘Give our love to my wife and kids,’ and ‘The Lord bless you.’ He’s been one who by his example has helped me navigate through rough times. Now, he’s got treatments once a week in Edmonton, 700km away.
Listening to – Leem Lubany’s rendering of ‘Wild World,’ ‘Peace Train’ and ‘Trouble;’ Bob Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.’
Quote to Consider – “Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” – Yousef Karsh