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)
Returning to High Level from La Crete I chose to investigate briefly the photographic opportunities available at Buttertown, a community just across the river from Fort Vermilion, Alberta. I followed the track through Buttertown finally stopping near this homestead home that may be a century old; it resides only a stone’s throw away from the St. Louis Roman Catholic mission. The moment was quiet, one in which I could hear the wind in the forest, the scrunch of my boots on snow and the occasional drone of vehicles passing miles away. Snow was being loosened from clouds on an overcast, yet moonlit night. What is more, the photograph is shot following sunset and the time is only 6:00 p.m..
Within this image, the track, house, snow and trees recall winter nights walking along less defined paths in what continues to be Alberta’s frontier, its north-central region in and surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park. In those walks, moonlit snow would glow along trails and paths. Most nights would see me cross the kilometre span of Ice Bridge covering the Peace River between December and March. In severely cold temperature, I have walked and encountered northern lights brightening my path with the intensity of vehicle headlights. I have come upon wild horses on trails, not daring to move, shivering, their coats glazed with frost. Two hours hiking would have me out and about looking at the world and move me through ten to twelve kilometres. It was good to move, think and explore.
The tones within the image recall scenes from short stories and novels in which an evening moonlit walk takes a character beyond the safety of home in her or his travel to a neighbor’s home or to town on evening business. Jane Eyre meets the man she’ll later marry, Mr. Rochester by first startling his horse and causing him to fall and sprain his ankle; unwittingly, this is her first encounter with her employer who’s brought her to Thornfield Hall as governess to his child born out of wedlock. Dickens’ story, ‘The Signal Man,’ occurs primarily at night in a cleft of land surrounding a railway switch in conditions similar to those found in this image, conditions ripe for mishap. Many, but not all ‘Ghost Stories’ of M.R. James occur at night in light that obscures perceptions. And, it is perception within half-light scenes that becomes the stage for most occurrences or happenings within Henry James’ novel, ‘Turn of the Screw,’ an excellent ghost story that has the reader consider whether or not the governess actually senses the preternatural existence of others; the alternative is that half-light is playing tricks on her perceptions and that’s she subject to the workings of an overactive, imaginative mind.
In looking into Buttertown, it is actually a name for the North Vermilion settlement associated with Fort Vermilion. The nickname Buttertown came about in the early nineteen hundreds after an incident when some rancid butter had been sold (Place Names of Alberta, Volume IV, Northern Alberta – Merrily K. Aubrey).
Listening to – ‘On Photography’ by Susan Sontag, a selection of essays written about all facets and dynamics of photography, a good listen. Music-wise – I’ve been listening to Dave Matthew & Tim Reynolds concert, ‘Live in Lost Vegas’ – ‘Lying in the Hands of God,’ ‘Some Devil’ and ‘Alligator Pie.’
Quotes to Consider – (1) “To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed.” (2) “[Photographs] … still want, first of all, to show something ‘out there.’” (3) “[The camera] makes real what one is experiencing … a way of certifying experience … converting experience into an image, a souvenir.” – Susan Sontag, from ‘On Photography’.
My wife points us to music tonight. At day’s end she’s responding to both of us, each a vortex of thoughts, moving, tumbling, clustering, dot-to-dot, aiming toward productive, tangible result – saturated with the day, not here, not in the now, needing to release the grip of endeavor, to withdraw and to settle. Time away from the pursued pace is needed, time that interrupts the cycle of ‘home-work-and-back-again,’ that kind of quality time that permits fresh aspect and new grasp on perspective, a good thing. Music is our choice tonight for plying away our adhesion, breaking contact with the day that’s been. The music we turn to is longstanding legacy from BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday show at 8:00 p.m., ‘Rhythm and Soul’ hosted by Steve Stockman; it’s music that’s been on my wife’s iPod this week in and around her classroom. David Gray’s Hammersmith concert, ‘Live, In Slow Motion,’ is the concert video my wife chooses and with our daughter away at dance class we sit down to supper, downstairs, in front of our television and engage this concert, slowing ourselves, listening to a cellist, two guitarists, a bass player, a drummer and David Gray bring music to Life. Allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to lyric, melody, rhythm, sound and silence, we are drawn to familiar songs, songs I’ve fretted in former days – ‘Sail Away,’ ‘Shine,’ ‘My Oh My,’ ‘Silver Lining.’ These songs draw us out to that part of our Lives beyond endeavor. They open-out memory and memories. We move into and travel along new melodies. Engaging with these songs orients us in terms of presence and our present – where we are needing and aiming to be, a reset of sorts.
Homestead – this October exposure is one of a handful of images taken within the golden hour near Fort Vermilion in a pre-winter sunset, winter-ready clouds billowing in regular, heavy patterns across the sky. The linear clarity of homestead lines mingles with the subtle bend in its roof and the regular, yet unique line of each board. It’s old, yet it’s solid and well-preserved. Coloration and luminance chosen in editing work best with the available light and draw me to this photo, again and again.
I am definitely wanting to be out and about with my camera, perhaps with others seeing other ways of viewing the world. My Canon 60D has developed a hiccough, though – three years wear and tear has made the spring ejection of the SD card difficult; it’s also become difficult to set the card back in. Sending the camera for repair is likely to cost one-third to one-half the cost of replacing the camera with another 60D body or its next generation body the 70D. And, then I wonder if I should move to a pro-sumer camera the Canon 7D, 6D or 5D.
T h a n k y o u ‘ s
– My gratitude goes out to all who are a part of this blog, those of you who add your comments and engage in the dialogue about photos, photography and music.
Listening to – Tyler Bates’ ‘Ventura,’ one of those captivating songs from Emilio Estevez’ film, ‘The Way.’ The post reminds me of several Martyn Joseph songs – ‘The Good in Me is Dead’ from the ‘Don’t Talk About Love’ album and talking with Martyn at the Alexandra Community Hall in Edmonton, Alberta on the eve of the Iraq invasion. Other songs come to mind – ‘Wake Me Up,’ ‘Strange Kind of Friend,’ ‘Walk Down the Mountain’ and ‘Just Like the Man Said.’
Quote to Inspire: “Still images can be moving and moving images can be still. Both meet within soundscapes.” Chien-Chi Chang
The northern lights were out this morning in my pre-dawn walk around High Level – ice crystals are in the air; with last night’s heavy billowing clouds we’re nearing our first snowfall. Here, an image contains two end-points of high dynamic range editing; curiously, I’m liking the colour (tinted) version of the old, old store house at the St. Louis Roman Catholic mission in Buttertown – Fort Vermilion, Alberta. The image has me thinking to former priest, John O’Donohue and different parts of four lectures he’s presented and a journaling exercise he has people work through. The first question to work from is to articulate the seven things that are controlling ideas/elements in your Life – premises upon which your Life is founded.
Listening to – an investigation of the ‘Primitives,’ a group recommended with the ‘iambead.com’ photoblog; ‘Crash’ is the first tune I come across. Then it’s ‘All the Way Down’ and ‘Earth Thing.’
Quote to Inspire – “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough” – Robert Capa