Rivetting – Edmonton’s High Level Bridge

Rivet and Girder - High Level Bridge - Edmonton Alberta
Rivet and Girder – High Level Bridge – Edmonton Alberta

At night, light and shadow reveal girder and rivet patterning along the High Level Bridge, a bridge that connects the north bank high above the North Saskatchewan River at the Alberta Legislature ground site to the south bank – an area that becomes entrance to the University of Alberta and Edmonton’s Old Strathcona community. The scene within this image contains the light trails of two cars moving across the bridge while emphasizing perspective with foreground, middle ground and back ground elements – the riveted girders and bridge deck (near), the girder and walkway (opposite – middle ground) and the steam of the petrochemical plants along Edmonton’s baseline road in the distance. The bridge is a landmark within Edmonton and a piece of architecture I have cycled over and under most days during summer’s break between winter and spring sessions at the University of Alberta.  At night, the bridge becomes vista from which to survey much of Edmonton – northeast to the legislature, east to the Muttart Conservatory and refinery row, south and southeast to the skyline of Saskatchewan Drive, southwest to the University of Alberta, northwest to a skyline that follows Jasper Avenue west and west toward Glenora’s community. On both sides, the North Saskatchewan River snakes through Edmonton – winding west, past Emily Murphy park and onto Hawrelak park; east past the Rossdale power plant, past the Edmonton Queen sternwheeler and onto Rundle park. At all times of the day and night, the bridge is active conveying people from one side of the river to the other – by foot, jogging, cycling, by truck, bus or car. Within this image, texture and sense of space attract me as do memories of former times.

Listening to – U2’s One, Walk On, Where the Streets Have No Name, Moment of Surrender and With or Without You.

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

Lingering Photos, Their Treasure

Nampa - Grain Truck 1
Nampa – Grain Truck 1
Nampa - Grain Truck 2
Nampa – Grain Truck 2

Lingering, those photos remain, the ones I would not at first glance think of returning to – the scouting eye’s first glimpse and first understanding of subject, the first impression of subject captured through the camera lens by my eye. Editing’s go-round exposes each photo’s possibility, the ‘where’ of where the story is within the image. Editing is about exposing the story held within the visual narrative of the image. If a photograph is akin to description, editing is about drawing emphasis to that narrative. Remaining photos, those receiving their second and third glance, have yielded the treasure of narrative through editing.South from Nampa, Alberta, a June summer’s day finds this dormant grain truck now sporting an advertisement for Mike’s Sandblasting and Painting.

Listening to Klaus Schulze’s Captivity on the Magnetik album, ambient schtuff (double plus good).

Quote to Inspire – “It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It’s their intimate relationship with it.” – Antoine D’Agata

Nampa - Grain Truck 3
Nampa – Grain Truck 3
Nampa - Grain Truck 5
Nampa – Grain Truck 5
Nampa - Grain Truck 4
Nampa – Grain Truck 4
Nampa Grain Truck 6
Nampa Grain Truck 6

As Found In My Home Away from Home – Grace

1956 Pontiac Star Chief
1956 Pontiac Star Chief

After a long and somewhat unproductive day, I make my way to one of Grande Prairie’s music shops – Long & McQuade (formerly G.P. Music). The workflow of salespeople helping customers is somewhat disjointed as experienced staff help junior staff learn the ropes; it’s Christmas season. The salesman helping me buy guitar picks and guitar strings hesitates as he hunts and pecks, finding his way around the cash register keyboard. His novice’s uncertainty and the larger than expected receipt total become a red flags; I check my receipt. I ask one of the veteran salespeople to check the receipt for accuracy. The receipt checks-out and prompts the rejoinder meant with goodwill “Have we ever treated you wrong?” He’s smiling as he says this – everything’s okay. And, in truth, this Grande Prairie guitar shop has been one of those homes away from home, a place in which I could work through a song’s chording on any of a variety of new and used guitars – the people in this guitar shop have always indulged me with gear and in answering my questions. This store has always been a place to connect with other guitar players, a place to hear a tune or two or perhaps a small concert; it’s been a place to help others talk through their guitar purchases.  It’s been a place to draw out music from friends and to enjoy the living feast of their guitar fretwork. I’ve purchased five guitars and countless sets of strings from them through the years.My week has been long, one pushing me from my comfort zone and one shaping awareness of the grace I extend into any situation.

I have made it down to Grande Prairie and back again. In these travels I did slow down somewhat and gather perspective rather than racing through a ‘did-I-do-it-list’ and returning to the road as soon as they were completed. I have been passenger rather than driver on this trip from High Level to Grande Prairie and I’ve been delivered safely at each destination despite ice and snow. I have made it to my doctor’s appointment like ten or twelve others and found bureaucratic conundrum, one hand not letting the other know about the doctor’s absence so that the doctor’s patients would not travel as far as we’ve come, unnecessarily. I was able to see another doctor to follow-up on another lingering appointment for a different issue; squeezing me in, hospital staff were able to make this appointment work for me. Good! Without my own vehicle, I became a New Yorker in Grande Prairie using cabs to go here and there, here again and there again, and again – each cab ride an opportunity to chat with a driver and to learn something of the drivers’ lives and homes.  I learned about extraordinary medical practices in Ethiopia. There’s been the good night’s sleep of the second night in Grande Prairie. And, there’s been camaradie and chat with fellow travellers found in the return to High Level, last evening.

1956 Pontiac Star Chief – The car my father taught me to drive in was a metallic green, 1969 Pontiac Parisienne, two-door. It had its share of chrome, lines and horsepower. And, were I to find another one my brothers and I would likely share the costs of restoring it to its former state.  The Star Chief presented here is one that has been brought into Canada’s north from the United States by way of Kelowna, British Columbia.  Its owner had owned one as his first car, just out of high school, in the sixties.

Listening to – U2’s No Line on the Horizon and City of Blinding Lights;  Concrete Blonde’s Wendy; and, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians What I Am.

Quote to Inspire – “I find it particularly exciting when a picture evokes anything near that word, ‘mystery’.” – Jeff Mermelstein

To the Orthopod, Jeeves …

Travel is my day’s task. The orthopedic surgeon who will review my arm’s recovery and next step’s in rehabilitation is some five hours away. Instead of piloting my own vehicle with one good arm, I’m electing to travel on the Northern Express, a passenger van that will take me from High Level to Grande Prairie. Running off the road at -25C and having one weakened limb might produce an unwanted and perhaps conclusive result. So, a better idea is to leave the driving to another, today. So, with podcast-crammed iPod and point-and-shoot Canon at the ready this day will roll on.

The photos presented here convey some of what Alberta’s weather can be like; there’s also a fifties Ford from a show and shine … yes, driving is more fun that being a passenger.

Listening to – The Police, Live in Buenos Aires … Message in a Bottle, Don’t Stand So Close to Me and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.

Quote to Inspire – “Still images can be moving and moving images can be still. Both meet within soundscapes.” Chien-Chi Chang

First Images & Former Images

Creating a photograph involves the photographer in workflow. You scout your scene for potential images – as Rick Sammon says, you ‘see’ it or you ‘walk the scene’. Then, you plan your photograph thinking it through in terms of image outcome – you determine best camera angle, you arrange and/or work with light, you plan your work with plane of focus and depth; you open the camera’s shutter and create an exposure/image. Later, you edit and crop the image; what is considered to be a photograph is that final point of image rendering in which the photographer determines that no further adjustment is needed. By the time first images are rendered you understand quite a lot about the image in terms of its visual information – the visual narrative within the photograph. First images become former images. And, former images seen again, after a time, allow time to breathe revelation into each image and its rendering possibilities. The images presented, here, are former first images, seen from time to time; the fun in the past few days has been in working through second edits to find those other possibilities that are/were present within the images – that other part of the visual narrative that was formerly hidden within the photograph.

Listening to Snow Patrol’s Those Distant Bells, New York and This Isn’t Everything You Are.

Quote to Inspire – “Taking pictures is like fishing or writing. It’s getting out of the unknown that which resists and refuses to come to light.” – Jean Gaumy

Innovation’s Ah-hah, Restoration and Reminiscence

Quality vehicle restoration receives appreciation for its thorough undertaking (or perhaps its state of completion) – front to back and from the ground up the vehicle is brought back to strength and often is improved through innovation. Often the vehicle restored is re-engineered to handle innovation – a different engine is accommodated, the frame is adjusted toward a tighter or softer suspension, the vehicle’s shape receives alteration for aesthetic reasons. Always, the most distinctive design elements remain; the restoration’s innovation only improves upon previous design. And it’s the recognizable attributes of the vehicle that draw people to it.

For those who appreciate what is found in the vehicle restored, dialogue quickly falls into the car or truck someone also had many years ago, the times and memories associated with it, its performance and its idiosyncrasies, and its cost … back then (buying a two or three year old vehicle for $300). Reminiscence is to be found.  But, so too, are the ‘ah-hah’ moments found when people consider and appreciate the how and why associated with each innovation encountered in the restored vehicle – what one dreamed of doing to his or her vehicle so long ago, has been breathed into Life in the vehicle restored, the vehicle before them.

Chevrolets of the fifties are the subject of these photos – more than other vehicles Chevrolets tend to be the ones restored, perhaps because of their abundant shape and form, perhaps because of their use of chrome and colour, perhaps because of the memories they associate with the glory days of good former times.

Listening to Somewhere in Your Heartby Isaac Guillory from The Days of Forty Nine.

Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is the pause button on life.” – Ty Holland

Done, Did, Done – Week’s End

Week’s end – all that one could do, done … and then some. Will Brady frets Bob Dylan’s Buckets of Rain – instrumental and blue, music with which to wash the week’s residue away. Time to park oneself, for a time, and to look out to all that is the going concern in the world, to glimpse and gather perspective and surface/intuit understanding(s). The exterior shape and the weathered paint of these trucks awaiting restoration remind that Life has its caress and collide, its scuffs and bumps, its clang and crash, its stumbles and tumbles – there’s cost involved in getting from point of origin to any destination. ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success.’ – this quote is how Henry Ford understood one aspect of integrity, that of remaining more together than apart, even as a vehicle. And at week’s end, having done all that needs done the blessing may simply be that in terms of integrity we remain more together than apart.

Listening to Pierre Bensusan’s Nice Feeling – ambient guitar work among more pronounced blues music.

Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is not created by a photographer. What [he/she does] is just open a little window and capture it. The world then writes itself on the film. The act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. They are the readers of the world.” – Ferdinando Scianna