Sunday, 7 September 2008

Reflecting on Reflections

I have been going through my slides of the Rockies lately; trying to pick put a few iconic-like images to hang in our new home and remind of all the good times we had hiking in the mountains. As I started picking out a ’short list’ to choose from, I noticed something that had not been obvious before. I have an awful lot of slides that show mountains reflected in water. Thinking about that, I’ve come up with two possible explanations:

1) I’m attracted to the tranquility and peacefulness of the reflected image, appreciating the juxtaposition of solid, immobile rock with the transience and insubstantiality of the water.

2) I’m lazy and a reflected image makes for a simple, clean, thought-free composition.

I suspect it is a good mix of the two, with the relative proportions varying in each image.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

More Flowers

Just a few more flower images from the spring and early summer. I'm not exactly fast and efficient when it comes to processing images. It tends to be months from pressing the shutter to getting an image into it's 'final' form. So expect images of spring flower in late summer, summer flowers in late fall and snowbanks in June (although where I grew up, real snow in June has been known to happen).

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Mountains for No Reason

I've just come across these two mountain images that I seem to have edited some time ago for a blog posting, but for the life of me I can't remember what I was going to write. Well, I'll post them now to mark the nearly one year anniversary of my last visit to the Canadian Rockies (I lived out West until about a year ago). Both images are from summer 2007. The first is Mt Chephren & Waterfowl Lake in northern Banff NP; oft photographed and a familiar landmark to anyone who has been in the area. The second is from the Maligine Range in Jasper NP; not nearly as photographed or recognizable.

Monday, 28 July 2008


Photography is about seeing, not looking. A profound statement. But of course not one that is unique to me or one for which I can claim credit. It is a concept at the heart of ‘true’ photography. And it is one I have heard and read many times; in fact it is what jumped put at me while re-reading Freeman Patterson’s “Photography and the Art of Seeing” and Joel Meyerowitz’s “Cape Light”. But it has over the last little while become something of a revelation; not is a sudden flash of inspiration but more like a tiny kernel of truth burrowing into my brain. But why now?

I’ve been looking over a lot of the photo’s I’ve made over the last few months, many of which are ‘pretty’ flower pictures. And the ‘photography as meaning’ side of my brain keeps popping in to tell me that that is all they are; pretty pictures with no real meaning. But I think I last I realize that they are not. Making these images had made me look closer, to see the how and why, the line and colour and to perhaps appreciate or understand one little part of the world around me a little better. And I think, ultimately, that that is the appeal of photography to me. I have always been an observer of the world around me, and photography has helped me tune my vision and better appreciate even the seemingly insignificant things. And if you better see the little things, it helps put the larger questions into proper perspective or order.

So pretty flower pictures are OK; and so are dinning room chairs and dirty shed doors.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Spring Flowers

I did promise (threaten) more flower photos. I have in fact been shooting very little else but flowers over the last few months, and all of it around the house. We have a cornucopia of wildflowers and flower gardens to keep me busy.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Ted Grant

There was an interesting interview with Ted Grant on CBC Radio a few days ago. Ted is a well respected Canadian Photojournalist who has been shooting the news for nearly 50 years. He had some interesting insights and stories to tell from a uniquely Canadian point of view. I was familiar with some of his work (particularly the picture of then Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau sliding down the banister, and of Ben Johnson crossing the finish line at the Seoul Olympics) but didn't really connect the images to the person.

It's an interesting interview and well worth taking 20 minutes to have a listen. I particularly liked his comment that real photographers work in black and white, eat sushi and drink single malt Scotch. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad ...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Spring Fever

It never fails that the first thing I want to do when winter draws to a close and spring begins is to photograph something green and growing. I suppose that’s related to the fact that for the last few months of winter I can’t seem to build up interest enough to photograph much of anything. Or do much of anything; SAD and all that jazz. I hadn’t really been aware of this photographic pattern until this ‘spring flora season’ rolled around and it came to me while looking through some older images from springs gone by.

That’s not to say I don’t ever point the camera at a flower at other times of the year; it’s just more of a ‘need’ in the spring. This year it’s particularly noticeable living in a new place and in a rural area because there are all the new things to see and photograph. And playing the ‘guess what perennial the last owners planted in the flower beds’ game. This is the single mystery tulip that appeared next to our front walk a few weeks ago. Still waiting to see what colour it will be.

So be warned; there will be flower pictures for the next little while. I promise no more cats though …

Sunday, 23 March 2008


I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately; not just photographically, but generally. It’s not an unusual situation as winter begins to draw to it’s lengthy close. Seasonal Affective Disorder I guess. In terms of photography, I’ve been unable to drag myself out to take more than just a few snapshots at a time and haven’t really produced anything of significance. I must have sunk to anew low considering this is the second cat images I’ve posted in a row. Well, spring can’t be too far away …

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


One nice thing about shooting digital is the instant feedback, especially when experimenting with a new technique. In terms of learning technical skills, it can really speed up the learning curve. And it can be great to see what you get when you're just fooling around. This image of our cat (rather evil looking here, don't you think?) is the result of a long shutter speed and rotating the camera while making the picture. No post processing apart from cloning out a few dust blobs. I'm not sure why, but I like it.

Monday, 21 January 2008


It's been quite cold here today (about -20 Celsius right now). When I came home from work, I noticed the window in the den was full of frost patterns. I managed to grab a dozen or so shots before the light faded to much. Not the sharpest of images because I didn't have time to go with tripod and MLU, but some weren’t too bad. Here's one example, converted to black and white using Desaturate in Photoshop:

What do you think? Is it a little heavy on the contrast?

Monday, 14 January 2008

At the Beach

A quick one from the beach yesterday. Yes, from the beach; in January, in the dead of winter, in Nova Scotia. We've had a spell of mild weather lately and it was almost spring-like over the weekend.

Of course, today it's blowing snow and freezing rain. At least this way there's always a new landscape to discover ...

Friday, 11 January 2008

Detail from Waterfall

This is a crop of a larger image that showed a full view of the waterfall. I've found that recently I've been cropping a lot of my images to show only a semi-abstract portion rather than the 'whole' object. I'm not sure why, just that these cropped versions seem to resonate with me. Now if I could only learn to see these images in the field so I wouldn't have to crop ...

Image is from Sanford Flemming Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Between a Rock ...

I’ve been reading Freeman Patterson’s “Namaqualand: Garden of the Gods”. The book itself is a beautiful presentation of some of his images from Namaqualand, a region in South Africa’s Cape Province known for it’s unique and almost unbelievable spring floral displays. The area is essentially a desert most of the year, but when the spring rains come, the rock and sand just burst with a brilliant display of wildflowers. Many of the images contrast the wildflowers with the rocky and forbidding environment in which they grow.

While I’ve never been to Namaqualand (and probably never will make it there), I do come from a place well known for its ruggedness (Newfoundland, AKA The Rock). Going through Freeman’s book has inspired me to dig out some old slides from home of flower and rock. I wonder what makes this motif such a compelling photographic subject? Is it the contrast between the solid permanence of the rock and the delicate, temporary flowers? Or is it a matter of relatively simple composition that draws many? I’ll wager that, at least in my case, it’s a matter of both.

By the way, I highly recommend any of Freeman’s books; his instructional books are what started me down the road to photography as a serious pursuit. He is very good when it comes to discussing basic design elements, balance and composition, all points I’ve found are often lacking in other instructional books. And his nature photography usually has a thoughtful and subtle (as opposed to a Velvia, colour-saturated) beauty to it that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Annual PDML Quotations List

I’ve been an on again – off again member of PDML, the Pentax Discuss Mailing List, for probably the last 5 or 6 years. The volume of posts is kind of heavy and tends to overwhelm my email, and I don’t like reading digests, so I’m often unsubscribed. All the same, I keep reading the list through the archives and frequently re-subscribe. The list is an interesting community of die hard Pentax shooters and is a wealth of knowledge, even if it frequently wanders off topic. If you have a question about anything Pentax, this is the best place to look. It also has more than it’s fair share of quirky, insightful, profound, less than profound, and occasionally profane comments. One of the list members, Mark Roberts, collects the best of these every year and publishes an annual PDML Quotations list. While it helps to be familer with the mailing list and people involved to make sense of some, there’s always something good. Well worth a read when you need a photo laugh.