Success and All Concerned

Best Practices - Photography, Canon 60D, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Vehicle, Vehicle Restoration, Winter

“Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress.  Working together is success.” Leaders use this quote often to enhance organizational teamwork.  Counselors use it to bolster and sustain forward movement among people in relationships who stumble and tumble. The words derive from Henry Ford and their analogy to the work of Life quite likely is taken from first automobiles produced on an assembly line. These words describe that dynamic of steady, determined, hope-directed forward movement towards goals through trial and error and improved performance. The statement articulates the manner of work involved in achieving a productive end through full investment into each learning curve we encounter. We work to understand what’s to be done and how to improve. We act, we work and we utilize feedback about current progress, tweaking action toward better, future performance.

Photography has its learning curves, too.  Good photography is about you learning subject and context and about you working to see them well through your camera’s lens.  Working together is about you and the camera, it’s about you and the subject, and it’s about you and your environment. The vehicle that serves as subject to these photographs is a 1930’s rusting relic, a sedan with wooden spokes that could be a Chevrolet or a Ford or another make. I saw it last Wednesday in my return journey to Sunrise Beach, near Onoway, Alberta, a trip I was making with a friend to investigate the integrity of a second-hand 2000 GMC Yukon as a possible vehicle to replace my written-off 2000 GMC Sierra.

In photography, it may seem at first glance that it is appropriate to point the camera at anything that is in front of you. However, what is also at play is context and environment. The reality is that context and environment are associated with being property and with ownership. Beyond this, context and environment have intention; people identify what each are to be used for. Here, you’d assume that a vehicle put out for public display would not have any issues associated with it if one were to photograph it. Well, in photographing anyone’s property, there’s the matter of what will the photograph be used for and in this case there was perhaps something more akin to rural crime watch being what was at play, something that should have been anticipated. And, the curious owner who questioned me about my actions was both gracious and concerned. In this instance, I knew better … I could have lessened anxieties and awkwardness by introducing myself, stating my photographic intention and asking permission to photograph the vehicle. Working together, in this best practice for photographers and as one whose been influenced by a lineage of photographers would have had and will now have me working proactively to avoid discomfort and uncertainty for others and myself and work toward ensuring good, productive photographic outcomes … even to the point of accepting the possibility of ‘no’ being an answer to my request to photograph a subject. Proactively seeing things through well for all concerned is a key best practice in photography.  This may see me creating a business card that will contain the assurance of contact information for people I deal with.  It may even be worth going further and providing them with photographs of the subject as thank you or to create a calendar with my photographs (as bona fide) for this aspect of public relations and good business practice.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “A definition of a professional photographer: A ‘pro’ NEVER shows anybody the mistakes.” – Anonymous; (2) “The progress of a photographer can often be marked by the accumulated number of mistakes he or she had made along the way.” – Catherine Jo Morgan (3) “Don’t be stupid and remember where you come from.” – Fr. Tony Ricard, NETCA Teacher Convention 2012

Listening to – Patty Griffin’s Long Ride Home, a song about losing a loved-one from the music-filled movie, Elizabethtown, a song followed by You Can’t Hurry Love, by The Concretes from the same movie soundtrack.

Norpine Show and Shine

Canon 30D, Canon Camera, Lookback Photos - One Year Ago, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Summer, Vehicle, Vehicle Restoration

One technical aspect of William Faulkner’s novel, The Sound and The Fury, is that one narrative is investigated through active eyes of four different people associated with the story. The story receives telling from the perspective of and with the perceptive capability of each character grappling with what occurs as the narrative unfolds. Something similar occurs with perception when editing one photograph and altering minor elements of brightness, saturation and hue – what is seen and what one experiences in response to each configuration is different.

This evening, I’m looking back to a Friday in June, 2011.  It’s after school and a Show and Shine is being held in High Level, Alberta in the Norpine Auto Industrial Supply Retailer parking lot. I’ve got my Canon 30D with me as I depart from school and drive past these pristine vehicles – vintage and current – that someone has enhanced with different rims and tires, that someone has restored and painted, that someone has taken the time to find and connect with memories of a former time. I pull ahead, past Norpine, turning in at the High Level Home Hardware store and park my 2000 GMC Sierra, there. The next three-quarters of an hour is spent photographing cars and trucks from different angles to find good and best shots.

I dialogue with vehicle owners, unleashing  narratives associated with each vehicle we look to. Former students, in their first jobs following high school, show me their acquisitions – a Chrysler 300M and a GMC Sierra half-ton, both decked out with rims, fat tires and glossy shine. There’s room in our dialogue to sort through how I used to present cars in my post-high school days at Waterloo Mercury in Edmonton and what could be achieved with different McGuiar’s waxes for paint and a bottle of brake fluid for tires. I share with them that Autoglym Waxes are what I use these days and that Queen Elizabeth II has given royal warrant to the company because the waxes are used on Royal vehicles; while Hondas and Toyotas use the wax, so to does Aston Martin.

Mounted on my Canon 30D is a Sigma 10-20 mm wide angle lens … with it there’s the opportunity to distort vehicle form in terms of lines and curves … to add the wow factor. One vehicle I come across is this late fifties Ford half-ton painted bittersweet orange and waxed to full gleam to reflect June’s late afternoon sun, clouds and sky.  Editing reveals this image in different ways … see which you enjoy best.

Listening to Over the Rhine and Within Without from their Discount Fireworks album; then it’s on to Mindy Smith singing One More Moment from her album with the same name. Later, it’s on to Babylon II by David Gray from the White Ladder album.

Quote to Inspire – “Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing a meditation.” – Henri Cartier Bresson

Parting Ways – 2000 GMC Sierra

Canon 30D, Canon Camera, Fall, Lookback Photos - One Year Ago, Photography & Conceptualizing Beauty, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Spring, Summer, Winter

Tomorrow, after a day of school between 4:00-5:00 p.m., a salvage company will come to my house and tow away my 2000 GMC Sierra half-ton pick-up truck. Today, I checked with my wife and she agreed to my signing off the vehicle to my insurance company – the truck has been written off. The truck, a former Cargill elevator truck, has an ever-running small Vortec V8 engine and has had nothing but synthetic oil and regular maintenance through its 286,000 km history. The transmission has been upgraded to allow for the hauling of a motor boat during summers by its previous owner. While not a top of the line truck, it has been a presentable vehicle in terms of shape, chrome and gleam – at twelve years of age there is little rust.

I liked that.

The truck has required some mastery to drive. A two-wheel rear drive unit, without a load in the box, the light back end on icy winter roads takes a while to get to cruising speed. All season passenger tires on the front have made the steering a bit sloppy, as well.  Coming down the three kilometre hill from Twin Lakes, Alberta toward High Level in heavy snowfall has been more of a skiing event than rolling forward with steering, brakes and engine.  I’ve mastered much of that; but, obviously not enough to avoid last week’s buck.

With photography, I’ve appreciated having windows on all sides of me in the cab and the immediacy of light which well allowed me to sense direction, colour and intensity in considering possible photographs. Tonight, I have looked back through the past two years for photos of my 2000 GMC Sierra and found these four.

Quote to Inspire – “When I think of why I make pictures, the [only] reason that I can come up with just seems that I’ve been making my way here. It seems right now that all I’ve ever done in my life is making my way here to you.” – so says Robert Kincaid, in the movie and novel, The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller; notable to me, not as romantic, but as photographer and GMC truck owner is that Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer enters and leaves Madison County in a forest green 65 GMC pickup. Good schtuff!

Listening to Lucinda Williams from her album World Without TearsRighteously, Ventura and Bleeding Fingers; reminded that Sarah McLachlan adores Lucinda William’s album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

Saturday’s Afternoon Drive

Best Practices - Photography, Canon 60D, Canon 75-300 mm, Canon Camera, Canon Lens, Canon Live View, Gas Station, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Prime Lens, Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Winter

Wife at school, prepping; daughter at dance, dancing – this Saturday seems to be mine, a day before me to use at my discretion, and, certainly not a day to pass in front of a computer screen. A breakfast out takes me to the Flamingo Restaurant where my Photo Plus magazine becomes object of discussion between fellow Canon photographer (my cashier) and me; I point him to the Zinio iPad app as the best means to download the Photo Plus, easily, here in High Level.

Onward – my outerwear consists of several items purchased over the years from Mountain Equipment Co-op – ski pants (10 years old), Salomon winter trainers (new, this year) and a down-filled jacket with hood. Set for warmth at -22C, today, I point my GMC Sierra (without grill or driver’s side headlamp) toward Fort Vermilion and La Crete. Music is part of what this Saturday afternoon is about – Sirius Satellite Radio allows for tuning into folk music on Coffee House, news at the top of the hour from CBC and BBC, jazz music and an interview with the bass player working with Miles Davis. Comedy does not attract my attention, today. I had had thoughts of listening to Sid and Mac’s Shuttertime Podcast; but, their podcast is good to digest while out on a walk around High Level … I let the podcast wait.

In Fort Vermilion, Shirley’s Snack Shack allows for purchase of coffee and something unseen before, a Reese’s Peanut Butter chocolate bar. The truck rolls south on the Red Earth road. The first photographs are of a red, mid-sixties, FORD, three-tonne grain truck; the vehicle remains active – it has current plates and tires are full. The next photographs are of cattails, at the northeast corner of a massive field – land, newly broken and newly farmed; the wind stirs the cattails enough that Automatic Exposure Bracketing, while tried, will not allow for HDR results.

La Crete has Quality Motors to check out, a used car lot and a new Subway restaurant. Moving southward from La Crete, Buffalo Head Prairie is next.  A chain of hills loom in the distance, a blue backdrop to this settlement and extends to another thirty kilometres away called Blue Hills. Along the way, different untried back roads are taken and they return to the Blue Hills highway.  A derelict farm house is discovered.  Doubling back, a place to park the truck off the highway is found; there, two relics from the fifties are found among old disused farming machinery (Massey Harris is the emblem on a seed drill, not Massey Ferguson). With so much left scattered around, the farm seems to be left medias res (in the middle of things); has there been a family death? There’s a story of a car that drove onto the Tompkin’s Landing ferry many years ago; its brakes failed and one or all occupants of the car drowned.

The final part of the journey involves crossing the Peace River over an ice bridge at Tompkin’s landing; signs are there to direct vehicles and to advise of a maximum speed of 10 km/h for crossing the kilometre-wide river. Another forty minutes in night’s darkness with only a passenger headlight to alert oncoming highway traffic of my presence sees me home before 7:00 p.m..  Supper is grilled cheese sandwiches.

Listening to Miles Davis from his Kind of Blue album and So What; reminds that I first seriously listened to Miles Davis within the Finding Forrester soundtrack … Bill Frisell is also there with Over the Rainbow and Under a Golden Sky.

Quote to Inspire – “While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” — Dorothea Lange

Impermanent Things … and Deer

Canon 60D, Canon Camera, Canon Live View, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Project 365 - Photo-a-day, Still Life, Vehicle Restoration, Winter

2000 GMC Sierra - To be Written Off

Deer – three does chased by a stag crossed Alberta highway 88 as I traveled eastward from High Level to Fort Vermilion at 8:00 a.m. on January 23, 2012; the three does made it across safely between myself and oncoming vehicles.  I slowed my truck down on the icy road but not enough to miss hitting the stag.  I stopped further ahead and turned around to see about animal remains that might need to be hauled from the road.  Nothing was found.  There was a swale in the snow where the deer had drifted into the ditch on the north side of the highway. But, the stag and does had taken off.  My truck, on the other hand, received damage – the grill and light housing mainly and the radiator and transmission cooler were pushed back toward the engine.  I checked it out and watched the gauges – it held together for another 160 km and still is driveable today.  Despite being in immaculate shape, at 286 000 km, this 2000 GMC Sierra is considered a write-off as the cost to repair the truck exceeds the value of the truck.

The antlered stag, imagistically recalls U2’s Electrical Storm video, its being written about Ireland’s Easter Day Accord, and the ghosted image of the stag in the Electrical Storm video – a subject I’ve commented on on the old U2 Zoo Station (Zooropa) website.

Listening to – Impermanent Things by Peter Himmelman from his Stage Diving album.

Quote to Inspire – “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” -Ansel Adams