For a second time, a Peace River, Alberta sunset arrests my attention. This photo is an image exposed incorrectly, but one that has been shot as a RAW file; editing is able to rescue the image returning it to Life and intention – a sunset shot. Earlier this fall on a day when we (my family and me) had been to Peace River for a day’s outing, the day’s return journey began at sunset; we in our vehicle making the long five kilometre climb westward out of the Peace valley and enjoying an array, scatter and stir of cloud work – hues deepening, then diminishing. A sight to have caught as a photo, this sunset … but just as easily enjoyed by each of us for what it was; there will be other sunsets (we do live in Alberta). As an entity, the immediate follow-up to sunset is dusk, light that softens as it leaves, light that colours as it diminishes – in photographic terms it de-saturates (withdraws colour). As an entity, dusk is intermediary between the stark, factual reality of daylight and that part of Life that occurs in the unseen. As an entity, dusk seems to be a visual reminder of transience – at sunrise dusk is a part of how we enter the day; at sunset dusk moves us from our day into night. The day’s movement is a part of our forward Life movement reminding us of our impermanence.
Listening to – Snow Patrol’s ‘Please Just Take These Photos,’ The Eagles’ ‘Seven Bridges Road,’ Don Henley’s ‘Sunset Grill,’ The Cars’ ‘Good Times Roll,’ Cheap Trick’s ‘Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace,’ The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony,’ and U2’s ‘Crumbs From Your Table.’
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
In learning piano, here in Canada, students will often learn and be taught how to play using music that is leveled within music books. At year-end you can challenge an examination to receive recognition of your level of skill. The daily practice along the way is what I recall. Each Toronto Royal Conservatory music book contained pieces – composed entities of music with beginning, middle and end, music with variation, music having specific direction, everything from phrasing, to control of loud and soft volume, intention for pace and emotion … all to be interpreted in presentation. Each music book also contained exercises or studies meant to develop skills for use within pieces, a matter of reading intention from the page and translating that intention accurately into sound. The exercise of returning to images and editing again and again is similar to these music studies and is something closer to the creative portion of writing music. The exercise of editing allows you to explore what the image contains and what can be brought out in an image; regular exercise builds the skill. Moving toward a pleasing outcome – what does and does not work – in editing is where much of photography’s creative act lies.
The photos presented are exercises in editing, seeing what they can become – Homesteads and Sedan.
Listening to – My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Sometimes,’ Phoenix’s ‘Too Young,’ Kevin Shields’ ‘Are You Awake’ and ‘City Girl,’ Brian Reitzell & Roger J. Manning Jr.’s ‘On the Subway,’ and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey.’
Quote to Inspire – “Once you learn to care, you can record images with your mind or on film. There is no difference between the two.” – Anonymous
Epiphany is a term used to mean a moment in time in which a veil is drawn back and you see, realize or understand something that had until that moment been hidden or concealed from one’s awareness or understanding. At Thursday noon, my wife and daughter began a drive from High Level to Edmonton, Alberta what should be a nine-hour trek at the best of times. Along their drive, with spring’s first heating of the snow-covered earth condensation blown from the snow on the earth swirled up into the atmosphere coming down a second time in a near white-out blizzard causing my wife to stop only three hours into her journey at Peace River, Alberta. In a phone call from Peace River, she asked that I fly down to Edmonton so that I would be able to drive my daughter and her back. On Friday, they made it to Edmonton and I made it to Edmonton, and, for the first time, on Saturday, two events became epiphany for me as parent to my son and my daughter.
As parent among parents, in one day I witnessed my daughter and her ballet dance troupe win gold at the ‘Standing Ovations’ dance competition at Festival Place in Sherwood Park, Alberta; in her dance I caught my daughter’s confidence, grace and beauty in movement set to time and music. Later that same day, I had the pleasure of witnessing and hearing my son’s performance as bass singer among the University of Alberta’s Mixed Chorus in its 68th Annual Spring Concert at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music in Edmonton – the music was resonant, majestic and actual, something happening before me, something surrounding me. My son’s comment was in the order of singing with the chorus being so much better than … Church. Indeed, he may have found more of what Church is about within the experience of participating in choral harmony. My epiphany was not so much new understanding as it was about seeing and enjoying fruits of my labours. As a teacher, most times you will at best only read about former students’ achievements. As parent, my job on this particular Saturday was not to strive for something, nor was it to push or coax my children; my job was to sit still, open-out my awareness to my children and enjoy what my daughter and my son were able to achieve in performance and result and in terms of heart-felt impact.
My wife will own that I am the parent who’s brought music into the home that our children have been brought up in; but, what’s more the truth is that I’ve really been conduit to something my parents surrounded our family with in their home as did their parents before them. My father and my mother were both accomplished pianists, both able to perform, both passing on their enjoyment of music to their three boys – my two brothers and me. We did have my father and one brother with us for both events on Saturday. Mom, who passed away in May of 2005, would have delighted in what her grandchildren achieved in relation to music, dance and performance on Saturday. The images presented in these photos are of grave-markers, headstones and crosses that recall to memory lives of those whom are held in memory, those whose lives impacted us. My great grandmother is buried in this Edmonton cemetery.
Listening to: Neil Diamond’s Song Sung Blue, Porcupine Pie and Canta Libre from the Moods album, songs we grew up to, songs mom enjoyed.
Quote to Inspire – “All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this – as in other ways – they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it.” – John Berger