It is July, 2020. We are two weeks out from our last day of school. Summer has begun. We have had enough rain – there have been wildfires, but the threat they pose to the community, so far, is limited (a welcome change from last year). The COVID virus sees us, my family and I, anchoring ourselves in northern Alberta while we watch what happens in our province. Yesterday, there were 258 active cases in a population of almost 4.5 million people. The province is doing well. So, we may travel south later in the summer … we’ll see.
A friend and I took two kayaks out last night on Footner Lake – paddling for four hours or so, enjoying the water’s calm, watching the flight of ducks and swallows and eagles, listening to all in the woods and on the lake. The opportunity to talk and share was there. The opportunity to consider possibilities was there. We talked music … about a radio show that he hosts on a local radio station; for me, yesterday, through Zoom, I had been able to participate in an album release concert for Brian Houston in Belfast Ireland in the afternoon (Belfast’s 8:00 p.m. translates to High Level’s 1:00 p.m.).
We talked through world locations we would like to visit. We talked through Iceland (where I have been and his daughter now has the opportunity to go). We talked through photos and the value of a photoblog and of photobooks. Our talk recalled to memory photos (above) from Arches National Park in Utah, photos from a summer trip my family and I made in 2014.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “Curiosity is the tool that shapes the work of all artists, just as much as any brush or chisel (Will Gompertz, ‘Think Like An Artist’).”
Listening to – Van Morrison’s ‘Behind the Ritual,’ ‘Full Force Gale,’ and ‘These are the Days,’ The Travelin’ McCourys’ ‘For What It’s Worth,’ Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Story,’ ‘Apocalypse’ by Cigarettes after Sex, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s ‘Running with Our Eyes Closed,’ ‘Dreamsicle’ and ‘St. Peter’s Autograph.’ And, have had first listens to Brian Houston’s ‘Ivory Tower,’ and his covers of Van Morrison’s ‘Into the Mystic’ and ‘Full Force Gale’ (via Light from Rock Music vol. 1: Van Morrison).
It is on the Mackenzie Highway fifteen kilometres south from Manning, Alberta. A green and white, four-door, 1954 Ford Crestline sedan sits there. It’s on the west side where a township road intersects the highway. It is there to attract a buyer interested in restoring this Crestline. It has a straight-six 223 CID engine – it does not hold V8 nor Fordomatic insignia. Its chrome jet hood ornament is missing. Its front passenger door has been dented. Making this Crestline roadworthy will involve work.
I like this Crestline’s green and white colours. They bring out a nostalgia associated with a former era – from the decade before I was born.
This Crestline holds the narrative of families who have been driven in it. There were things a family could do with this vehicle; vacations, trips to town, grocery-getting, banking, doctor’s appointments – day to day things all occurred driving this Crestline. There were things dreamt of but never attempted with this vehicle – destination dreams. This Crestline’s weight, suspension and Armstrong steering gave it a forgiving kind of movement in acceleration and cornering. It had a range you could drive with one tank of gas. It had a feel in how you looked out to the road. And, not only the driver looked out to the road. Others, passengers, would have looked upon the land going by as they travelled.
I would like to drive this Ford Crestline, in the same way I would like to drive former cars I’ve owned – to return to a sense for how it handled and perhaps a sense for who had driven and ridden in it (the story of this Ford). Here, it is noted that in the following year (1955), the Ford Crestline would be replaced by another well-known Ford, the Fairlane.
In terms of the photographs, I am happy with where each edit has brought me.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “Developing a composition is a continuous flow of ideas, where the artist combines, adds, reduces, adapts and discards the various elements in an unending discovery of the new possibilities (Alessandra Bitelli).”
Listening to – Tommy Emmanuel and Billy Strings’ ‘Guitar Boogie,’ Bill Kirchen and Redd Vokaert’s ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’ and Molly Tuttle and Billy Strings’ ‘Sittin On Top Of The World.’
A cold, winter Sunday in February last year found me on a drive and taking these photos. The afternoon saw me drive a circuit through a large swath of Alberta’s Mackenzie county. From High Level, I traveled south and then east. I crossed the Peace River at the Tompkin’s landing ice bridge near Blue Hills. From Blue Hills I drove east and around the Buffalo Head Prairie corner up to La Crete. Next, I rounded the seven-mile corner moving northward past Blumenort and Fort Vermilion. Finally I would drive west past Rocky Lane and return to High Level.
On a range road south and west from La Crete I found my way to the La Crete Mennonite Heritage Village. At 2:30 p.m., winter sun had begun its arc toward the horizon. In the space of an hour I was able to look, see and find these photos. Each piece of machinery was well taken care of. Each house and farm building remains solid – each might still be used, if needed. 1950 seems a date records show Mennonite membership in the La Crete area – 130 people in the area, then. Now, after seventy years, these buildings and this equipment hold many family narratives – the how, the who, the where, the what … the tough times and the good. Each photograph is from a distance – from the range road outside the La Crete Heritage Village site. I have used a tripod with a zoom lens for each image.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “I usually have an immediate recognition of the potential image, and I have found that too much concern about matters such as conventional composition may take the edge off the first inclusive reaction (Ansel Adams).”
Listening to CKUA – East Pointers’ ‘Ken the Hen,’ Garnet Rogers’ ‘Threshold,’ Paul Brady’s ‘Help Me to Believe,’ Andy Irvine’s ‘My Hearts Tonight in Ireland,’ The Casts’ ‘Lullaby for a Very New Baby’ and Jackie Leven’s ‘The Garden.’
A pair of running shoes became troublesome. Hardening foam soles were causing knee pain following treadmill use. It was early January, 2020 and I longed to be moving. I chose to get outdoors for early morning walks. With my camera in my jacket pocket I trekked the six kilometre loop around High Level. At a meandering pace, my walks were ideal for the stop and start of recognizing a photograph.
Those were cold mornings. At -30C I took care to dress for outdoors, for northern winter cold. I layered my clothes adding solid outer gear – balaclava and toque, mitts, jacket, pants and trail boots. A dark, overcast night sky was backdrop to my walks. The feel of the walk was something close. Chimney steam hung low in the air, wraiths, not moving. It was cold if you didn’t keep moving. It was cold to use the camera. Along each of these walks lamp post lights glowed. A sight only seen in coldest winter.
The shoes – it took a week to recognize that new running shoes would solve the treadmill and knee problem.
Self-separating self-isolation – I hope each of you are well. I am eight days in to staying at home and hope to return to the regular run of a day’s routine soon.
‘Reprieve’ – You who are landscape photographers … make sure you check-out Adam Gibbs’ YouTube offering of ‘Reprieve.’ It is a photographer’s look at the world, something soulful and meditative. It reveals the photographer’s invitation to viewers to see the world around you. It is an extraordinary offering from Adam.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “I put in my pictures everything I like. So much the worse for the things; they have to get along with each other (Pablo Picasso).”
Listening to – Tami Neilson’s ‘Queenie, Queenie,’ Lori McKenna’s ‘A Mother Never Rests’ and ‘The Fixer,’ Ben Howard’s ‘Keep Your Head Up,’ Pharis & Jason Romero’s ‘Sally Goodin’ from their ‘Long Gone Out West Blues,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia,’ and Motorhead’s version of Bowie’s ‘Heroes.’
I don’t think so. I’ve followed an editing protocol intended to produce a painterly feel in the image. And, while having fun with different edits, I haven’t necessarily arrived at a painterly image. You’ll have to tell me. In terms of attributes, a painterly image is more soft than crisp in terms of detail. It limits or reduces the colour palette to fewer colours that work together. The image has an ethereal, not quite worldly feel that engages the imagination in terms of ‘what-if’ and ‘what could be.’ When I have found my way through such an edit and created an image with a painterly feel, it has the quality of feeling like you could step into a fairy tale.
Listening to: Hozier’s ‘Wasteland Baby,’ ‘Claire de Lune,’ Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Call it Democracy,’ The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Highway Patrolman,’ and, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris’ ‘This is Us.’
Quote to Consider / Inspire – ‘Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter (Ansel Adams, courtesy of Light Stalking).’
A colder week, here in Northern Alberta. Our temperature has reached downwards to -44C and lower still to -55C with windchill. Staying warm, pursuing projects around the house and remaining warm under thick blankets has been what our week has been about. The water lines to our kitchen sink and to our clothes washer are frozen – they will be worked on when the temperatures warms a nudge (so they won’t refreeze after warming to flow once). For me, the cold allows time to slow down, to review images not yet edited and to edit my images following editing protocols (workflows) outlined in different tutorials.
Here, I’m liking these early morning, early autumn compositions – balance, symmetry / asymmetry, colour, directional light and depths (places to look to within this image). In taking these photos, I am trialing an m-mount Leica Summarit 35 mm lens and investigating its working with colour; a friend has highlighted the unique refraction of the light (the colour red, in particular) as being ‘buttery.’ I am curious. This edit shows the Summarit 35mm to sharp and the colour refraction renders a nostalgic feel.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.” – Joan Miro (thanks Light Stalking).
Listening to – Caribou’s rendition of ‘Home,’ U2’s ‘Bad,’ ‘Crumbs from Your Table,’ ‘Mysterious Ways,’ and ‘One.’ Then it’s Ellie Goulding’s ‘How Long Will I Love You’ from that most excellent film ‘About Time,’ a film I hope all of you have watched.
Travel featured in this Christmas for my wife and me. We were able to be with our son and daughter. We were able to slow down with them, gather a sense of them and understand how Life is treating them; Christmas was a juncture in their medias res and ours. They’re doing alright. Good. And, Christmas with its snow and cold allowed me time to sit at my computer and edit other images from 2019. I value having this time to rest, to see and to arrive at these edits. Here are a few more from Cathedral Grove and Englishman River falls.
Quotes to Consider / Inspire (gathered by Sean Tucker and offered in his vlog ‘The Things we can’t Control’) – “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves (Viktor Frankl).” “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens (Epictetus).” I am grateful to Sean for his solid talk on Life and Photography … good, good schtuff!!
Listening to CKUA Online – Lucette’s ‘Angel,’ Lee Harvey Osmond’s ‘Colours,’ Jade Bird’s ‘Side Effects’ and Sam and Dave’s ‘Thank you.’ Also, paying attention to a vlog of Jonas Dyhr Rask’s X-Ambassador offering a lecture at Scandinavian Photo, December, 2016 – some ideas on gear, on street photography an development as a photographer.
Out and away from High Level on a Sunday afternoon, north towards the Northwest Territories border stopping for these images of Dené burial houses at a site called Indian Cabins. My drive would later take me to Alexandra Falls along the Hay River within the Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “Native theology works in a different way. There is no heaven, there is no hell, there’s just a circle. The circle of life and death that interconnect, and that when we pass away, we leave this planet, we don’t go up or down. We stay [in] another part of the circle.” (Tomson Highway, musician, storyteller, eternal optimist, CBC Radio, June 20, 2014)
All This Time, Martyn Joseph
“Snow on cedar, silence falls
Biggest beauty, we are small
Sun filled crevice, hump backed bear
Been looking for something, already there
It’s taken all this time
It’s taken all this time
To turn around and see
The sum of all these parts are we
Stripped back layers, to touch the core
So many clues lie, on the floor
And all these things and more are true
But none alone would see me through
It’s taken all this time
Snow on cedar, silence falls
Biggest beauty, we are small
Life is complex, so we are
Searching trash cans, traveling far
It’s taken all this time
It’s taken all this time
To turn around and see
The sum of all these parts are we …”
Listening to – Martyn Joseph’s ‘All This Time’ from his Live album ‘Don’t Talk About Love.’
A few years back, the Old School House in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia served as gallery for several photographs of Cathedral Grove, including a large, canvas panoramic image photographed within the site. In memory, the canvas must have been huge … maybe three metres by one metre. I am not sure – the image could have been a one-hundred eighty degree panoramic image. However, it might also have been a three-hundred sixty degree panoramic image. The image intrigued in terms of what part of the site would allow such a panorama, then in terms of how the photographer planned and trialed this photographic panorama. There would be considerations regarding time of day, light and the possibility of encountering people during the exposure. Beyond this, the photographer would have needed to edit what, at the time, would have been an extremely large data file and then have the image printed. Finally, the canvas image that I was looking upon placed me within Cathedral Grove to see what’s there.
Our Parksville visit in April, 2019 made it possible to photograph Cathedral Grove at sunrise on three different mornings.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera (Dorothea Lange).”
Listening to CKUA’s ‘Classic Examples’ – Ron Jones’ ‘Momentum Suite for String Orchestra,’ Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat, Opus 83 and Dmitry Shostakovich – ‘Waltz #2.’
April, 2019 – our daughter finishes her spring term at University. My wife and I have spring break, time away from school. We collect our daughter and her personal effects. And, we fly out to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. From Victoria we drive up to Parksville and stay at the Oceanside Inn for a week. These images are from Englishman River Falls and Cathedral Grove. Liking the idea brought out by photographer Adam Gibbs – follow/find the light first and then work to compose your image.
Listening to: Pat Green with Joe Ely’s take on U2’s ‘Trip Through Your Wires,’ Neil Young’s ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’ from his ‘Live At Massey Hall 1971’ album, and, ‘This Is Us’ from the ‘All the Roadrunning’ album from Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris.
Quote to Consider / Inspire – “As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs (Sam Abell).”
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