Autumn Is Coming

•August 1, 2016 • 2 Comments

Autumn Is ComingYes, autumn is coming.

A couple of days ago one of my daughters and I went out for a short drive in the country to take pictures. We ended up at an old Ukrainian Orthodox church half an hour out of town.

I had been here a couple of times before to do long exposures but the skies never cooperated with me. This time might be better I was hoping.

After I planted the tripod and set the camera to do an eight minute exposure I sat myself on the warm grass and took in the scenery. My daughter was at the far end of the church yard walking through the old cemetery. (not the one in the picture above). As I looked around I noticed that the tops of some poplar trees were already turning yellow. On the drive out earlier the once bright yellow fields of canola had mostly lost their blossoms and were now a dull blue green. Prairie wildflowers that were in full bloom a couple of short weeks ago had dropped their petals and all around me in the mowed grass surrounding the church dandelion heads were ready to release their seeds to the wind. A sure sign of autumn.

My daughter returned a few minutes later and sat with me to chat about unimportant stuff that dads and daughters talk about.

Being as it was still summer I was wearing shorts. She was wearing long black jeans and a black top. When the sun broke from the clouds that were whizzing by everything got warm. Very warm. So warm in fact that soon my daughter was getting hot dressed all in black and into the Rav we went and were home shortly.

I processed my images and still… nothing that I cared to use.

Sunday morning, July 31 came and the sky looked wonderful. The clouds were very low and puffy and there was a strong wind. Perfect conditions for the church I thought. I hollered upstairs to my daughter, the other one had to work at Starbucks later that day, and asked if she wanted to go. Typical young person who was out late the night before, “No dad, I’m too tired”, was all I needed to hear and in two minutes I was out the door and on my way.

The sky ended up being very nice and I spent three hours there watching the sky blow by and have curious gophers inch closer towards me as I sat and waited for the camera to expose another image.

Feeling good about having something to use I decided to skip across the county to another couple of old churches that I knew of and their cemeteries. In half an hour I was there and taking photos.

I immediately walked to the country cemetery and planted the camera for my first shot. Having done that I walked around and read some of the gravestone markers. It was an interesting story that the markers told. Mostly Ukrainians settled here. Some had emigrated from across the sea and died here. Others born in the late 1880’s married, had children and died. Other grave markers were of young children born in December and dying a month later during the time of the Spanish Flu.

As I continued to take photos my mind drifted back to the stories associated to the grave markers. Everyone of them had a story to tell. The loves and sorrows. The highs and lows. Having children, losing children. Living their lives the same way we do today but with much less luxury and extravagance. I tried to imagine the people behind the names and a time over one hundred years ago. What was it like to live here at that time?

Those people are exactly like us. Each with a story to tell and now mostly forgotten. Will it be that way for us?

Autumn is coming.

Happy shooting,

Dan

On The Edge Of The Pasture

•July 29, 2016 • 2 Comments

On The Edge Of The Pasture

I seldom if ever photograph cattle although a relative a few years ago suggested it as a way to make a whole lot of money. Apparently there is a niche market for photographers who can do polished photographs of breeding cattle and they charge a LOT of money for that.

To each their own. That sounds too much like work and I would get a regular job if I wanted to work. Taking photos for a living is for me a sure way to take the fun out of it.

No, I seldom ever photograph cattle but I do appreciate the work that they do out in the fields every day tending to the shrubs and tall grasses and making life so much easier for me.

I noticed years ago how grazing cattle affected the landscape. In fact I wrote about this a long time ago in a blog that was long ago deleted.

Cattle will nibble and chew on just about anything growing that they can reach. Grasses, weeds and even small twigs on trees and bushes.

The effect of the cattle can be seen in the photo above. Without cattle there would be a lush and unphotogenic undergrowth.

If I see cattle grazing I am almost always sure to do a double check of the surrounding wooded areas for this reason.

I love cattle but I stopped eating them over thirty years ago. No religious reasons or preaching from me, I just stopped eating all red meat. Live and let live.

Happy shooting,

Dan

Thinking of Dave

•July 27, 2016 • 6 Comments

Thinking Of Dave

Photography is and has been many things to me.

Some of my earliest memories are of me being in my pajamas on a Saturday night and not being able to use the bathroom because Dad was developing film or making prints in the makeshift darkroom. The house was filled with the strong and earthy smells of developer and fix bath. As close as I can remember that was in the late nineteen fifties. A long, long time ago it sometimes seems. And then again on nights like tonight it seems almost as if I could hop out of my bunk bed and run into the living room to cuddle with my mom while dad was busy hanging up prints to dry in the old bathroom.

A few years later my father passed away at the age of 32. I was only 7 at the time and it seemed both real and unreal to my little self. My dad had many hobbies and it’s so funny that I took up almost all of them during the course of my journey into adulthood. I hunted birds and big game like he did. I learned how to flyfish, taught myself how to do it and learned how to tie my own flies just like dad used to and the weirdest thing of all, I ended up somehow picking up photography in my late teens.

Fast forward thirty or forty odd years from there and I raised my family and paid for our home with the proceeds from photography. Now retired, I still manage to get out and take pictures.

Almost always I am alone when I do that. On occasion I have taken my girls out and it has always been fun. Now the girls have their own lives and their own boyfriends and it’s just usually me and my cameras. Well, not really. You see, when I am out by myself my mind travels. It travels through the past and into the future. It dreams about what was and what might have been.

Photography takes me far, far away from today. It makes me happy and gives me peace.

Photography makes me appreciate all that I have lived through, the good and the bad. It all happens for a reason and we will never know why we had to experience the pain along with the joy. We never question the happy times but we question the sad times.

Sometimes when I am out by myself my mind goes back to those happy times with my brother who died a couple of months ago. It doesn’t make me sad, instead it fills my heart with a warmth and peace. The love that we share in our lifetimes doesn’t end with the loss of someone, it continues as does my interest in photography.

Happy shooting,

Dan

The House In Hairy Hill

•July 26, 2016 • 7 Comments

The House In Hairy Hill

First of all, there really is a place named Hairy Hill. It’s about an hour from where I live. When I mentioned to my wife that I was heading out that way she never even batted an eye. You see, she went to nursing school with a gal who hails from there.

Hairy Hill is a small, small town. What drew me to the place was a few photos that I had seen of locked up and abandoned places there. So off I went with a rough idea of where I was going but not what I was going to photograph.

I wasn’t disappointed. Although the light and sky could have been much better I had fun poking around and trying different compositions. For sure it is a place that I will return to.

I leave you with what I call the “Hansel and Gretel House”. I call it that because what you can’t see in infrared or in this frame are the lovely blue wildflowers that covered what used to be the lawn out of picture frame left. It was stunning in color but alas did not translate so well in black and white.

Happy shooting,

Dan

The House of My Dreams

•July 25, 2016 • 11 Comments

The House Of My Dreams

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” ― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

This is the house of my dreams. It only exists in my mind.

We had a family get together yesterday and the topic of photography somehow came up. Hmmm.  Anyway a cousin of mine mentioned that he did not like photomanipulation. That is fair. I might like white wine and not red. There is nothing wrong with both red nor white wine but for me, I will always pass on the red and so it goes with photomanipulation.

It is not my place to judge what is within the rules and tell people that they can or can’t do whatever. Photography is about creativity and it is up to you how you express or discover it.

On Saturday afternoon I went out for a short drive in the country and happened upon another dilapidated homestead. It was my good luck that it was sitting beside a gravel road on a hill. At about 2:00 p.m. the house was brightly lit and there was a 50/50 mix of cumulus clouds blowing by. The clouds were moving almost directly towards me which is important. When doing long exposures the direction of cloud movement relative to you determines which direction they are flowing across the frame.

My exposure for the black and white version was four minutes. I had a quick look at how the clouds had streaked on the camera display and decided that a longer exposure wasn’t necessary. Some days when the windspeed is not very high, longer exposures are needed. Today was not that day.

To give you an idea of what the scene looked like when I came upon it I have included a short exposure photo. Nothing was done to it other than a little tuning in curves to bump up the contrast.

Prairie House Before

When comparing the before and after photos it is obvious how much YOU can control your final vision. The darker version doesn’t exist in real life, it exists only in my dreams.

Happy shooting,

Dan

 

Four Minutes On The Homestead

•July 24, 2016 • 7 Comments

Four Minutes On The Homestead

Four minutes.

Long exposure images are always a surprise. I can never accurately predict what the results will be.

When I passed this old and dilapidated homestead sitting in the middle of a field the sky was heavily overcast.

To date my favorite long exposure landscapes have resulted from skies that were a 60/40 mix of white clouds and blue sky. Yesterday was different as the sky was heavily overcast. So overcast in fact that I almost passed by without stopping to take a picture.

It’s always a good idea to experiment. You can learn not only from your successes but your failures. Don’t ever be afraid to take a bad picture.

Happy shooting,

Dan

A Quiet Place By The Road

•July 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

A Quiet Place By The Side Of The Road

We had a few days of less than great weather here. I mean, the weather is good for ducks and farmers but not so great for photos.

Every cloud has a silver lining so the saying goes and it’s true. What happens when you can’t get what you want? You want it more.

The rainy weather has only served to whet my appetite to get out and see what mother nature lays out for me.

For the days that I can’t get out with my camera I have plenty of RAW images to go through. It’s a curse/blessing being a prolific shooter. Too many photos, yet lots of images to choose from.

I drove by a place that I had photographed a few days earlier in part because I only photographed part of what I wanted to. There was a utility worker downt the road and not wanting to get in his way I drove a few hundred meters past him and took pics.

On this day I went close to where he was, hopped the three strand barbed wire fence and crouched low in the tall wild grasses on the edge of a wheat field.

With infrared it is still a surprise to see how the camera captures the scene. What goes light? What goes dark? It is a mystery that keeps me returning for more.

I stayed in this spot only long enough to take a few bracketed shots and move on never staying still for very long.

Driving along the road which is on the other side of the barbed wire fence you would never know what a beautiful place it is.

It’s just another quiet place by the road in Alberta.

Happy shooting,

Dan

 
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