Judah Homestead

Homestead, Journaling, Winter

The weather was that of early spring – a day grey and overcast, later filling with snow flurries, then shifting to bright sunlight among clouds as I drove south from Peace River, Alberta. I was taking time … to look around, to explore, to learn more about a region I drive through regularly but through decades had not yet investigated.

Back in December 2022, interested in the terrain of the Peace River’s river valley, I asked a farmer from the region about possible vantage points for viewing the river. The river that is from one kilometre to a kilometre and a half wide as it moves through a region I teach in has intrigued me since my wife, and I flew into a fly-in teaching community three decades ago. Two locations were recommended to look over the town of Peace River and along the river valley.  The Twelve Foot Davis gravesite was high above the town on its east side. The second recommendation caught my attention – the Sagitowa Friendship lookout point had been described as being along the road to Judah, the hamlet of Judah … perhaps forty minutes south and west of Peace River along a road that follows the southern river bank. This lookout point allows the eye to travel west and south following the river; it allows for a look down and north to the town of Peace River’s south end, up to its north end; it allows, for a look across the river to the Shaftesbury Estates, the West Peace area, Saddleback Ridge and the Pines.

I was at the Sagitowa lookout working with my camera. After several shots, it began to snow. I packed up and began a drive toward Judah. In the early afternoon, the sun came out, somewhat harsh in terms of the contrast of light and shadows. Within the hamlet of Judah, I found treasure – this homestead.

Quotes to Inspire – two quotes have found me this week; both have value for a photographer.  First, ‘We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are (Anais Nin).’ The second is one that seems related, ‘People only see what they are prepared to see (Ralph Waldo Emerson).’ This quote highlights a photographer’s readiness to see a given subject and perhaps maturation in terms of seeing that subject. It attaches to a follow-up statement, ‘If you look for what is good and what you can be grateful for, you will find it everywhere.’ So, perhaps Emerson’s quote is a nudge out-of-context but still has import as we use it.

Listening to: Motorhead’s version of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes,’ Fred Eaglesmith’s ‘Can’t Dance,’ Pickin’ On U2 – A Bluegrass Tribute’s version of ‘One,’ and Bono’s ‘Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story’ audiobook reading.

Burning It Down – Seeing It Through

Journaling, Photography, Winter

On the final day of 2022, I drove from Lethbridge in southern Alberta to
High Level in northern Alberta, a long fourteen- to fifteen-hour journey. As a
return drive, I had started early, reached Edmonton just after noon, and
continued northward through the day. In that time, I concluded my listening to
an intriguing audiobook, ‘The Splendid and the Vile’ by Erik Larson, about
Winston Churchill written recently and with access to documentation from
previously unavailable sources; the book compiles memoirs and correspondences
into a more intimate view of Winston’s world – Britain and its people,
colleagues, family, friends, brokered loyalties, royalty – all at a time of
war, World War II.

Close to 9:00 p.m., my drive brought me to Manning, Alberta, where I fueled
my Corolla, got snacks and began the last leg of my journey home. Northward,
cresting the hill leading out of Manning, clouds in the night sky reflected
bright, red-orange light. As I drove toward the Manning airport (ahead, on my
left), flames reached high into the sky.

A building was burning, not at the airport, but at a farm on land
immediately preceding the airport. The building was one I had considered
photographing through the years. But it had been dressed down. While the
overall shape and architectural style held interest, the building’s windows
were boarded up, and the structure had been painted a dark chocolate
brown.  It was more a dark brown brick than architectural interest worthy
of a photograph.

I pulled into a service road connecting the farm and the airport. I
photographed this blaze from my vehicle. Looking at this image now, the fire’s
light reflects on people’s faces, the fire holds the gaze of people who have
come to witness this spectacle, and people chat and are at ease with each other.
It was New Year’s Eve, a night to say goodbye to 2022, a night to say goodbye
to this old farm building.

A week later, driving south, the building was absent. Nothing remained. The
area where the building had stood was flat, cleared of debris and now offered a
clear, unimpeded view from the farm home out to the service road and highway.
Winter likely had been the safest time to burn this farm building, and burning
the structure may have been the most efficient way to remove it.

Listened to: Erik Larson’s ‘The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill,
Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.’

Quotes to Inspire (1) ‘I walk, I look, I see, I stop, I photograph (Leon
Levinstein).’ (2) ‘Photography must be integrated with the story (James Wong

Dandelion – Look Back Edit

Fall, Flora, Project 365 - Photo-a-day

In my free time, I looked back through my Lightroom catalogue this past summer. I took the opportunity to view images I had taken a while ago.  The intent was, in some ways, a historical look back. In another way, it became an opportunity to edit images I like using my present workflow. This dandelion image became a series of different edits – these edits. Looking back, I was surprised that this is a photo from October 2016 and that I had taken the image with my Olympus E-M5 Mark II. Pocketable and light, this camera was easy to use, rendered good images and was a camera I enjoyed using.

Quote to Inspire – “If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them. But if you argue for your possibilities, you get to create them!” ― Kelly Lee Phipps.

Listening to: Spencer Elliott’s ‘Torque,’ Charl du Plessis’ ‘Ode to Peace,’ Pat Green’s take on U2’s ‘Trip Through Your Wires,’ Birdy’s ‘Quietly Yours’ from the ‘Persuasion’ soundtrack, and 100 Mile House and ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning.’

Framed to Edit

Project 365 - Photo-a-day

Three weeks back, in the midst of mileage and a COVID pivot, on a road west in Southern Alberta I was able to stop, get out of my truck, frame this image and two others, return to my truck and motor on. Many elements make this image come together, not the least of which is the encounter of colour within what is largely a monochromatic image. Liking it.

Quote to Consider / Inspire – “One should not only photograph things for what they are, but for what else they are.” – Minor White, Frames Magazine, February 2021.

Listening to – Kathleen Edwards’ ‘Take It With You When You Go’ and Appalachian Road Show’s ‘Don’t Want to Die in the Storm.’

Foothills Pivot

Project 365 - Photo-a-day

A COVID pivot provides minimalist moments among the modulation and ramble of foothills roads in southernmost Alberta.

Quote to Consider / Inspire – “Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.” – Arnold Newman, Frames Magazine, January 2021

Listening to – Jools Holland & Kylie Minogue’s take on the Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’

Looking South – near Fort MacLeod, Alberta

January Homestead

Project 365 - Photo-a-day

Liking this bit of winter morning light, directional light, side-light – intensity and shadows – falling on snow and an Alberta homestead, a first image in a long while.

Quote to Consider / Inspire – “… I believe that the real challenge of photography lies not in finding something or someplace exotic and beautiful to photograph, but in revealing the hidden beauty in what most people would consider mundane.” – Howard Grill, The Challenge of Photography, Frames Magazine, February 2021.

Listening to – Ian Tyson’s ‘Yellowhead to Yellowstone,’ Galen Huckins’ ‘The Kennicott,’ Roo Panes’ ‘A Message to Myself,’ and Hollow Coves’ ‘Adrift.’

Homestead – near Fairview, Alberta

Yellow Dazzling

Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Flora, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Season, Summer, Weather

Canadian Grain Bin - Guy, Alberta, Canada 1

Canadian Grain Bin – Guy, Alberta, Canada 1

Canadian Grain Bin - Guy, Alberta, Canada 2

Canadian Grain Bin – Guy, Alberta, Canada 2

Canadian Grain Bin - Guy, Alberta i

Canadian Grain Bin – Guy, Alberta i

Westeel Grain Bins - Warrensville, Alberta, Canada

Westeel Grain Bins – Warrensville, Alberta, Canada

The ground, seeded, transforms from dark, dirt black to green growth reaching its pinnacle of dazzling yellow before being harvested. I have driven through some of Alberta’s farmland in the past two weeks and Canola does seem the farmer grown plant of choice, this year, its yellows colouring and brightening what, in winter, had been a darker and more dreary landscape. I had hoped to catch Canola surrounding these Warrensville Westeel grain bins in the past two or three years, never returning to the site/sight until a week ago.

The Canada Flag painted on the side of a grain bin forms a landmark for travellers nearing the hamlet of Guy, Alberta. On Alberta highway 2, as you climb from the valley holding the Smoky River going north you’ll find the grain bin on your left two or three minutes along; for many the flag and shed serve as time marker for journeys northward. From this point, I can be at my doorstep in High Level, Alberta in three hours and forty minutes.

In addition to the broad reach of Canola’s yellows in these images, immensity surrounding the grain bin is also part of things; looking ahead through the miles a cumulonimbus cloud will later offer its weather, wind and rain, as something to be managed within our drive home. These images remind of photographs in which grain fields, mountains and breathtaking cloud work coalesce and immensity is the dominant feature within the image. I hadn’t considered it; but, the fact that a Canadian Flag has been painted on the side of a grain bin holds associations for the farmer – perhaps pride in being Canadian; it may also aim to have others consider the key role grain farmers play in Canada’s economy; or, perhaps the notion has something to do with being in the heart of Canada. What’s also there is perhaps something political … perhaps something like the assertion, ‘we are all Canadians first and foremost.’ The question intrigues – what was the point of origin for the idea of painting a Canadian flag on a farmer’s grain bin?

Quote to Consider – “A photograph is the story I fail to put into words.” – Destin Sparks

Listening to – Murray McLaughlin’s ‘Hard Rock Town,’ The Who’s ‘I Can See For Miles,’ Bob Dylan’s ‘Buckets of Rain,’ Steve Miller Band’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle,’ Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ ‘If You Wanna Get To Heaven,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Radio Nowhere,’ Link Wray & the Wraymen’s ‘Rumble’ and Bruce Springsteen’s rendering of a Pete Seeger tune ‘We Shall Overcome.’

Downtime Edits

Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Flora, Fog, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Season, Smoke, Spring

Controlled Burn - Jasper, Alberta - Canada 1

Controlled Burn – Jasper, Alberta – Canada 1

Controlled Burn - Jasper, Alberta - Canada 2

Controlled Burn – Jasper, Alberta – Canada 2

Infrared - Jasper National Park, Canada

Infrared – Jasper National Park, Canada

Jasper Park Lodge - Jasper, Alberta - Canada

Jasper Park Lodge – Jasper, Alberta – Canada

Pyramid Lake HDR - Jasper, Alberta - Canada

Pyramid Lake HDR – Jasper, Alberta – Canada

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

The Practical – Practically

Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Homestead, Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring, Still Life

Gull Lake Homestead - Up Close, Fort Vermilion, Alberta Canada 1

Gull Lake Homestead – Up Close, Fort Vermilion, Alberta Canada 1

Gull Lake Homestead - Up Close, Fort Vermilion, Alberta Canada 2

Gull Lake Homestead – Up Close, Fort Vermilion, Alberta Canada 2

Gull Lake Homestead - Up Close, Fort Vermilion, Alberta Canada 3

Gull Lake Homestead – Up Close, Fort Vermilion, Alberta Canada 3

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)

Cloud Cord Work

Backlight, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Farm, Farmhouse, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Home, Homestead, Journaling, Light Intensity, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring, Still Life, Sunset, Weather

La Glace Homestead  - Sunset, La Glace, Alberta - Canada 1

La Glace Homestead – Sunset, La Glace, Alberta – Canada 1

La Glace Homestead  - Sunset, La Glace, Alberta - Canada 3

La Glace Homestead – Sunset, La Glace, Alberta – Canada 3

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.’