Abstract Oil Pipe Explained

At craft sales, I always have tags on the back of my photos with a title and short description. People seem to enjoy this, but sometimes a short tag is not enough. This photo, for instance, is only partially explained by the tag which says “Oilfield Remains”. So I often get questions, and I try to explain, but usually fail miserably. Well, here’s my (hopefully successful) explanation of the photo.

The story starts with me and Jason driving around the countryside finding nice things to take pictures of. This is a fairly common occurance in the life of a nature photographer. Oil rigs are also a fairly common occurance around Edmonton, so the two often coincide. We found this lovely oil rig just as the sun was setting, and of course I took the standard oil-rig-sunset shot which is the same as twenty billion other oil-rig-sunset shots. But hey, it gives me some context for the story.

Getting good photos means investigating things a little more, and while we’re wandering around the rig, we find (among other things) these random pieces of pipe on the ground. Rusty texture and curved lines catch my eye, and soon I’m down on the ground taking photos of this pipe elbow.

Well, in this photo there’s a bit too much going on for there to be a clear focal point, and the lines aren’t leading where they need to be leading. So I got a little closer, focused into the pipe, and took the photo you see at the top.

Proximity to the Past

On the way back from Manitoba, Anna and I stopped by the place she lived for a couple years when she was really young. It was strange, for me there were no memories, but I could watch them flooding back over her. She showed me around, not totally sure of places — some things had changed and some just seemed on a totally different scale than when she was five years old. The apartment where her family had lived was unlocked and uninhabited, so we looked around for a bit. Almost everything has changed so much from back then, but there are places where the past is much closer than normal.

Old House, Young Aspen

I think the whole reason I like this photo, and what brings it all together, is the yellow glow. Without that it is such a dark and weary scene, but the yellow seems to add some depth and some hope.

Opening into Light

All right Aunt Janet, this one’s for you. I don’t have an unlimited number of door shots, but this is one that I’ve never shown before. It was taken a few years ago east of Edmonton.


The Wabamun power plant was built in 1956 as a state of the art coal burning generating station. In 2002, Transalta began shutting it down, with the last burner ceasing operation in March 2010. It is now being demolished, which is a huge undertaking. Most of the materials are being recycled. I got the opportunity to take photos while it was still in the early stages of demolition. It was spectacular in a mad scientist / industrial revolution kind of way. The mass of tubes, wires, and pipes running every which way, combined with all the dials, meters, and switches was crazy. How anyone could make sense of it all is beyond me. On the other hand, there are no black boxes. No computers that you could just replace. If anything was broken, you could just follow the wire or pipe back to the failure point.

Anyway, behold 1950s engineering in all it’s glory.

Quick Pics Between Trips

Editing photos right after a trip has always been a challenge for me. I find it hard to judge whether my photos are good or not because I’m usually judging my memory of the place rather than the photo. After a few months I find I can be more objective. But a few months is a long time to wait for photos. Sometimes whole trips get forgotten.

So here’s me trying to do quick edits. I still gave myself a few days, but I wanted to get these up before I leave on my next trip (actually in a few hours) and this last one is forgotten. These are from just east of Jasper National Park.

Anna in Ogre Canyon near Brule

Icicles hanging from a cutaway

Spruce trees near Cadomin

Evening light on the river

An old abandoned railway