December winter scene – homestead and trees, land that once was broken, now fenced in – protected, reminding and reminiscent of lives and the work of living. Snow blankets dormant land and caps a fence post, one among many anchoring three strands of barbed wire used to hold animals to this area of land while they graze. Horizon, sky, former home, snow and wood’s texture, softer muted colours – all hold my eye and attention.
Listening to – Madeleine Peyroux’s J’ai Deux Amours, Kenny Gamble’s Me and Mrs. Jones, Toni Sola’s Night Sounds Blues, and Burt Bacharach’s (They Long to Be) Close to You, recognizable songs among others that form the From Paris With Love Soundtrack.
Quote to Inspire – “Emotion or feeling is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that is just a trick.” – Christopher Anderson
Solid, well-made, a homestead house looks southwest to winter skies at dusk. Windowless, vacant and solitary now, the building did once serve as home, refuge from one’s day, shelter during one’s night, that place to regroup, rejuvenate and revive before handling tomorrow. On the crest of a hill, a farmer’s field, wind and snow blow through this former home to farmers and their families.
Listening to – Mike Plume’s Rattle the Cage; reminds of Mindy Smith’s similar song with same title.
Quote to Inspire – “My photography is a reflection, which comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity – the suspended moment – intervenes during action, in the viewfinder.”– Abbas
The back forty is a farming phrase taken to mean the untended area of a farm, land not in public view, land not regularly or productively used by its farmer. The back forty may be difficult to navigate with farm machinery. It may contain a slough or the water table may be high enough making the work of land use unprofitable. Such land, untamed, untrammeled and unused is often best used as a place for storing farming machinery that you might need for parts in future days. North from Peace River, Alberta, this Massey-Harris sits on the steeper slope of a field, an area of land that its farmer has found difficult to use, part of what might described as the back forty.
Listening to – Snow Patrol’s Those Distant Bells, Matthew Perryman Jones’ Keep It On The Inside, Murray McLaughlin’s Hard Rock Town, Liz Longley’s Unraveling and Shawn Colvin’s All Fall Down.
Quote to Inspire – “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry
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
Currently, our forest region has 27 fires burning – fourteen are out of control, four are being held and nine are under control. Our temperatures have been hot this week reaching +30C and higher in our corner of Northwestern Alberta. At least two smaller communities have been evacuated, threatened by fire and smoke. One fire has a 15000 hectare involvement. The photos presented are of recent water bombing and water slinging operations in the La Crete area – the state of emergency, there, has been lifted at noon today.
Listening to – Shawn Colvin’s All Fall Down and Walter Trout’s Turn Off Your TV.
Quote to Inspire – “When I shoot a scene I often shoot a hundred frames sometimes over a few hours or days, before I begin to get a real handle on what I want in the frame and how I want it there.” – David duChemin
Day 3 of the Wilson Prairie Wildfire – Friday, July 6th, 2012. In contrast to Thursday evening in which residents were able to move freely into the fire area, Friday saw Alberta’s Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) controlling road access so that firefighting equipment could be moved around with greater ease on Wilson Prairie Road. I arrived in the early afternoon to find access to Wilson Prairie Road being controlled. I couldn’t use my vehicle on Wilson Prairie Road. But, I could walk in, staying to the ditches when equipment was being moved through. Two-and-a-half hours walking in and out allowed me to see more of what was going on and how the blaze was being controlled. Dozers were creating breaks/cut-lines and pushing piles of brush together so they’d burn more easily/quickly. Areas of intended burn and back-burn were being created. One home was in harm’s way and helicopters were being used to sling water (from local dug-outs) to saturate the area in the case that the fire’s path changed with the winds. Air tankers had been tasked to other fires within the region; but, lead planes and Martin Mars water bombers (or the like) were being used to keep a consistent supply of water on the fire. On dust-ridden, gravel roads water trucks moved slowly dribbling water to keep dust down for vehicles moving in close proximity to one another. Later, I was able to drive around behind the fire to two other points to catch the more dramatic perspective of hot, billowing smoke moving upward into the atmosphere and the water bombers flying into fire area to release water on flames below.
Listening to – Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain, a tune played throughout last year’s forest fire that consumed Slave Lake, Alberta (spring 2011).
Quote to Inspire – “I enjoy traveling and recording far-away places and people with my camera. But I also find it wonderfully rewarding to see what I can discover outside my own window. You only need to study the scene with the eyes of a photographer.” – Alfred Eisenstadt
Forest grows dangerously dry with summer heat. The matter of our region being a tinderbox is an expression used to describe this state in which forest can become prey to lightning strike and neglect by people working with fire. In this setting, rain becomes a welcome visitor calming and cooling our world. Photographically rain serves to reflect the world in unusual ways – doubling what is seen and placing the doubled image in unusual contexts. At night, it is the rain’s reflection of light on surfaces that draws interest.
Life is busy just now. Students in their final year of education anticipate graduation and ceremony and future departure from friends, family and that place that’s been home for them through so many years. Angst is there. Worry is there. Disillusionment about what the world holds is about to occur in more broad and more true strokes than these students have ever encountered before. And, time pushes them and us forward and through different thresholds. It’s totally interesting that the term threshold comes from the act of threshing; the threshold was the place where the act of separating husk from seed occurred. Threshold is that place where former and newer state are in close proximity – what was and what now is. Action is that other important ingredient – the lifting, colliding and splitting, all are percussive, energetic acts that in time yield the seed from the husk that’s held it. Winnowing is the other term, here – the separating and sorting of husk (the now dead, former shell) and seed (the new life holding element). The seed is ready for further use. How will it be used?
The photographs presented here are culled from the last week. There’s the green of Buffalo Head Prairie; there’s the woods between La Crete and Blue Hills. There’s the Peace River and the Tompkins’ Landing Ferry. There’s rain slicked streets of High Level and there’s images from Footner Lake. There’s even an image of a flower from a flower bed on our front lawn.
Listening to – U2’s Mysterious Ways, Coldplay’s God Put a Smile Upon Your Face, David Gray’s Babylon and Radiohead’s High and Dry.
Quote to Inspire – “I didn’t want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature.” – Wynn Bullock