Open Spaces

St Mary Reservoir Minimalism

During the Royal Alberta Museum project, I got to spend a lot of time in southern Alberta. St Mary Reservoir was pretty low when I visited, and there were many kilometers of mudflats. There is very little change as you wander in such an empty space, but the little changes become more apparent. Every pebble, every crack in the mud becomes obvious because there’s nothing to distract. The one tree on the horizon is a constant companion no matter how far you walk. Thoughts become more solid. There are no interruptions here, and being comfortable with yourself becomes important.

The one challenge for me during the day was the constant wind – there is no escape. Early in the morning when it was still, it was absolutely stunning. And then, when the wind started, it was just a few playful wisps. But as the sun rose, the constant wind rose with it and it becomes like sandpaper – slowly wearing you down. Sometimes it would literally sandblast me as it picked up particles from the dry parts of the mudflats.

St. Mary Reservoir, Alberta
24mm, f16, 1/80 of a second

Possibilities

When you’re doing interesting things, you should share them with the world. The problem is you’re too busy doing things. This has been a wonderful problem for me this year, and I feel very fortunate.

San Luis Reservoir, California
56mm, f10, 1/250 of a second

Projects and Time

I’ve been silent for a few months now, and there’s a good reason for that. I just finished a huge project for the new Royal Alberta Museum. It’s been a whirlwind of coordinating with guides, driving around the province, scouting locations, and way too much time processing images. I met quite a few wonderful and fascinating people who made this job a pleasure to do.

When you walk in to the new museum when it opens (probably in late 2017), there will be a wall of 10 of my images in a row – each one 3 meters wide by 7 meters high. This was both a very exciting and intimidating project, and I can’t wait to see the final result. I’ve done a lot of prints over the years, but none quite as large as this. Prints always have something extra that a screen can’t quite deliver, so although I’ll have to wait for a long time to see them, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m going to let the photos remain a surprise – you’re going to have to go to the new museum to take a look and learn the stories associated with them.

Thanks to all the people who put up with me not being around and being slow to answer calls and emails while I was working on this.

Thanks to Jack Brink for the photo!

Updates are Few and Far Between

Why have the updates been so slow this summer and fall? There are many reasons, but one of the main ones is that I’ve taken on a large graphic design project with Alieo Games, an Edmonton startup working on educational games. Specifically (at the moment), an online creative writing game for kids. And it’s been a lot of fun. I’m really happy with how it’s shaping up, and I’m working with great people!

But even an exciting project like this can not stop my photography. It has, however, cut down on my computer time for processing pictures and blogging, and I’m not planning on doing any shows this Christmas. If you’re looking for prints, you’ll have to email me, talk to Tix on the Square, or the Daffodil Gallery. So the backlog of pictures is growing on my computer, and I’m excited to share them with you as I get to them.

I’ll try to post when I can, and I expect things will pick up around here again next year.

12mm, f5, 1/500 of a second

Mossy Stream

I got back from my first ever trip to the east coast a few days ago! I already want to go back, but catching up on real life is important too. I’m not finished going through the photos yet, but this one stood out to me. I’ve always loved the fairy-tale richness of mosses, mushrooms, and small streams. They’re the backdrop for a thousand story lines, and at the same time a peaceful place where nothing needs to happen.

Mossy stream early in the morning in Fundy National Park.
f11, 6 seconds

Memories of Summer

Just a quick snap today from Grasslands National Park this past summer. This storm should have been a clue not to camp here — the roads are impassible after much rain. As it was, we had a blissfully ignorant night in our tent with thunder rumbling us to sleep. In the morning we barely made it out.

Romanticism

I feel like I don’t do a lot of traditional landscape photography. There are a few reasons for this – many iconic views which are amazingly beautiful are over-photographed already. I don’t feel like I could add a whole lot to the visual conversation with these. Secondly, with so many of my outings being local, there are only so many vistas to be seen. And thirdly, I tend to be a photographer of opportunity rather than planning. So instead of finding the perfect landscape and returning when it is lit perfectly, I’ll explore a new place instead and if I run across a well-lit landscape I’ll work with it. I do have a few places where I return again and again, but it’s always because there’s more to discover there, not because I want to re-photograph something in different light.

I feel like this spontaneity resonates with the romantic feeling of many of my landscapes. I tend to like the soft warm embrace of nature, even if its a rare event. I also enjoy the cold and creepy facets of nature. But I always tend to like nature as it elicits emotion. Sometimes I’m jealous of painters, who can create the perfect light, add and remove elements from their compositions. Even some photographers / digital manipulators are good at this and can create stunning pieces with these skills. I can capture these things as I experience them, but I’m mostly limited by my experience. Which in some ways I really like. I’m lucky to have these experiences. And I enjoy sharing them with all of you!

Quiet Mornings

I got to spend a couple days camping at Davis Lake with a good friend. One morning we woke up in this great thick fog. It was totally silent except for the condensation dripping from the trees onto the fallen maple leaves on the forest floor. Didn’t make for easy campfires, but camping challenges build character.

Beauty and Endings

Fall is here, and I’m not ready for it. As much as I love fall I feel like I didn’t get enough summer yet. I’ve just started to go running fairly regularly, but the cold air isn’t great for my lungs. I haven’t gone backpacking yet this summer. That is a travesty. On the other hand, I’ve done lots of things to get out of my comfort zone, and they’ve been going well. I started teaching photography classes which have been great! I started doing a lot of studio / model photography and that’s awesome! I’m also doing a bunch of video work. So I can’t complain too much.

But this tree, a single tree standing in for all fall trees, holds a lot of excitement and disappointment, all bundled up in beauty and endings.

Burtonsville Island

I got a chance to get outside yesterday, and I headed out to Burtonsville Island Natural Area. I haven’t been there this year yet, and there were a lot of surprises. There are coal mines and oil wells everywhere, and they’ve made it harder to access the natural area. There is the constant drone of mining machinery and I didn’t see as much wildlife as I often do around there. Once I figured out how to access the area (they’ve changed the roads around) I got my next surprise. The water on the North Saskatchewan River was still pretty high and there was evidence that it was about 8 feet higher at one point (which would have come close to submerging the island). No one else had been there and the trails were all getting very overgrown or non-existant. I still managed to get across the beaver dam to the island (at least the beavers keep things in good repair), but it was soggy going. I got entirely soaked pushing through the rain-soaked undergrowth, but it was a beautiful evening and I got to test out my new camera, so I’m happy. It will take me a while to get a good feel for it, but first impressions are that the Canon 6D is a very nice camera indeed, and a great update to my old 5d.


Sorry for the gross image, but this is the flood evidence on the island.

17mm, f8, 1/500 of a second