Saturday, June 25, 2016

Framing while walking, my dear Nudnik

A framed image. Quite flat, all elements carefully organized.
While there is information here, that is not the
intent of this art photograph.

Walking with the hiking club along the Ruckle Park waterfront, I chose to
trail along behind the rest so I could look around me , not engage in conversation, and use my camera. I must have been annoying to leaders intent on shepherding all along in one neat package.

A standard informational type photo.
And yet it is carefully composed.

I have recently started working in watercolours, little miniatures, using the caravan as my studio and I noticed right away how that practice was affecting my photographic awareness. The small paintings must keep things simple or they loose their effect. What is the essence of the scene? My lens selected carefully to encompass fewer elements. The photographs began to emphasis strong lines, textures, blocks of colour and tone. They became flatter and more severely ordered. More painterly, musical, or poetic perhaps.

A sailboat on a sparkling sea,A pretty standard informational picture
without the added tree frame that directs out attention.

I have included one standard informational type image of the walkers in Ruckle Park to show the difference. It is  more expansive, includes the background, a sense of perspective etc. It details a standard reality as we have come to expect from photographs. Neither type is 'correct' however, there is no right or wrong, they simply aim at different things.

By severely restricting the information within the frame we are lead to think about the twisted tree trunk and not boats and distant islands. Photography is about communication and here I have chosen one subject and emphasized it.

Veery interesting, my dear Nudnik”* ( that's a line from 'Laugh-in', an old TV show some may remember.)

  • *my writing program of course questioned 'Nudnik' and suggested 'nonstick'. I think there are some poetic possibilities in this dear robot.

The smooth skin and rough bark of the arbutus tree.
One dominant element that fills the frame makes a powerful statement.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The pitter-patter of the rain

We woke this morning to a genuine drenching rain, something rare around here on the south-west coast for many weeks. I took a walk around the place with the camera to see what I could see. A couple of fauns, the shine of wet maple leaves, grasses pressed down by the wet and the last of the foxgloves bowed over. The more I looked the more I saw. As if the act of looking was not just me looking but the world opening itself to my gaze.

All because it was too wet to do my usual chores and keep my eyes firmly focused on my work.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

'Takutu', our Chestnut canoe.

We launched our 50 year old Chestnut canoe, 'Takatu'* in Fulford Harbour on Saturday and paddled around for a few hours. Those are the facts, but they doesn't tell the whole story. This wood and canvas canoe has been our life companion and has had many adventures, mostly as we paddled and camped our way through the Gulf islands of BC. The familiar stroke of our paddles, the surge and lift of the canoe and sounds of wind and waves was so evocative of a once younger couple of kids just starting out on their life's adventure together.

The weather forecast was not promising, North-west winds gusting to 50 km., so we selected a local launching site that should provide a sheltered lee and were soon running out the harbour along the southern shore before a gusty breeze. “Look”, says Heather, holding up her paddle as a sail, “see how fast we are sailing”! Oh, oh, I could see that the wind would soon force us into the beach at that rate and so we angled back across the bay seeking more shelter along the northern shore. Further out in the bay the gusts were powerful and kicking up a chop and it took some extra effort to keep the bow from blowing off down wind and carrying up with it out of the bay. Soon though we were skimming past the beacon and the Skeleton Islets, disturbing an eagle busy eating a large fish and nodding to some oyster catchers nesting on the rocks and then we were in the shelter of Indian Point at last. We gently nosed our way among the low tide seaweed, rolled up our pants, stepped out and pulled our canoe ashore. How good we felt, still filled with the adrenaline of our windy trip across the bay.

After a snack and stretching our legs we began a hard slog against the wind back up the northern shore, gaining shelter from every little bay and point of land. Whenever a gust arrived however we had to paddle directly into it or be blown onto the rocks. Dig the paddle in, lean into it, keep up a fast pace - we made good progress especially in the gaps between the gusts, and the closer we came to the ferry dock at the head of the bay the easier conditions became. We pulled ashore for lunch on a beautiful shell beach and sat and admired our canoe, red against the green seaweedy low tide beach. From there it was just a few more minutes back to the dock and the carry up to the car. A very satisfactory first paddle of the summer.

* We named our canoe 'Takutu' after a river in the Rupununi district of Guyana where we once lived and worked with CUSO.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lake morning.

The beauty of things- is in the beholders brain- the human minds translation of their trans-human intrinsic value.     


Between our home and the ferry landing are two lakes. So often when I drive Heather to the early ferry for her day with grandchildren on Vancouver Island I glance to one side and wish I had brought my camera. Today was overcast with a promise of showers but I took it along and stopped off to take photos on the way home.

What I saw and translated into photographic patterns was surely influenced by a book I had out from the library last week on Japanese prints and drawings. So if they have that feel about them, (and I was completely unaware of this while I was composing) that might explain it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Burgoyne Valley. Point of view

Hikers are scrambling along the higher slopes of Mount Maxwell and the trails seem to be either steep up or steep down and I am either puffing upwards or picking my way carefully down slippery dirt tracks. The place is beautiful though: big firs and steeply slanting, grassy Garry Oak meadows backed by sheer rock faces half hidden in the vegetation. The view from a rocky knoll looks out over the Burgoyne Valley - the low farm fields that separate the southern mass of mountains from the rest of Saltspring Island. Once these two island parts were wandering islands with their own separate geologies brought here on the Pacific Plate conveyer-belt and plastered together. Even today the residents of that southern mass of mountains can feel themselves to be different from the rest of us. But then, as in geology, many of the people that live on this island are of different origins sometimes uneasily plastered together as Saltspring Islanders.

Later we will have our lunch break in the fields down in the valley, lolling in grasses growing tall as they feel the heat and so rush to seed. We look back at the steep mountain face behind us and marvel how the same island landscape can seem so different simply by changing our point of view.