Friday, March 31, 2006

Rule of Thirds Gains Power

And speaking of rules in photography (or any pictorial art)... Although, funnily enough, this one works.
When I left Hamilton, 30 years ago, it was an average industrial town - steel mills pumping black smoke into the air, men (overwhelmingly) working 3 shifts a day, their families living in little brick houses. But, it was also heading into a period of decline. Its economy was totally reliant on the steel mills lining Hamilton Harbour and they hadn't changed since the nineteenth century. Along came cheaper steel from elsewhere, and Hamilton's economy tanked. The downtown, now, is someplace nobody goes, there's no building going on in the city centre. It doesn't look good.

Except! As I mentioned the other day, all the unused railbeds have been converted to hiking/biking/running/blading trails, and these can take you pretty much anywhere in the city. Yesterday I walked along one that runs along the bay. It brings you to this site. Above, out of frame, is the High Level Bridge. Going under it (something one never used to be able to do except in a boat) takes you to Cootes Paradise - a large, shallow bay. The structure in the background that runs along the water's surface is a fish fence. It keeps carp out of Cootes Paradise while letting other fish in. The carp are an introduced species that had turned Cootes Paradise into an algae-choked swamp, pretty much killing off all the native fish and vegetation. Since building the fish fence, all of this has been reversed.

So, Hamilton's doing a lot of things right. The "rail-trails" are, as far as I've seen, packed with people. Hamilton Harbour looks a lot cleaner. I like this place!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Early spring in southern Ontario isn't particularly lovely. A tad bleak, actually. This is Albion Falls, a spot I used to hike to regularly when I was a kid. Lots of big rocks to climb around on, a stream to look for fish in (or fall into), and wandering downstream led to other tributary creeks that could be explored, orchards where - in season - lunch was "free" for the picking. Plenty of adventure for kids.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Not a new thought, I realize, but there sure is a lot of sky over the prairies. Coming into Calgary airport, the clouds hovering over the ground looked like they were just about to settle down for the night.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Oh, boy! A special bonus photo in honour of my visit to the town of my birth - Steeltown! Or, as it's officially known, Hamilton. I'm not sure how much steel actually gets made here anymore. The mills used to be every male college student's summer job destination. And what colourful places they were, too. Nothing more interesting than watching a 100', 1" diameter, yellow-hot rod of steel shooting along the mill floor, from roller to roller, suddenly snag and shoot up into the air, coiling and twisting like some giant form of pasta-from-hell while all the guys whose job it had been to guide the thing, run for their lives. Yep, definitely kept you on your toes. Luckily, they never let us college kids anywhere near that stuff, otherwise I'm pretty sure I'd have wound up as shish-kebab.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Well, that wasn't too painful. The flights connected nicely, the air wasn't turbulent, my row-mates were neither large, nor noisy, and, best of all, I made it to my hotel in one piece after driving once-familiar roads in the middle of the night in a strange car. "Home" again.
Since I'm going to spend the day trapped in the machinery of air travel, I thought something with a more expansive view would be appropriate for today's picture.

The thrill, as anyone knows who's flown at all, is definitely gone from air travel. Check-in, while never a thrill, is even less so. And, thanks to the dawn of airline "hubs", getting from point A to point B always entails detours to other, seemingly random, points in the alphabet. One flight I could have taken to today's destination - Hamilton, Ontario - would have taken me first to Montreal. Now, Montreal, as far as I know, is a fun place, but I live in Vancouver, which means I would have flown a few hundred kilometers past my destination, and then flown back. Is there some special school that airline planners go to to come up with this sort of thing?

Ah, well. It beats walking.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Machine Age Arrives

Friday, March 24, 2006

Stieglitz Spins in His Grave

First off, thanks to Mike Johnston for mentioning my site on his. Since then people have been arriving here from all over the world and I'm just inexperienced enough in blogging to think that that's pretty nifty.

Now, something that Mike's mention seems to have brought out is the tired old debate regarding whether 'tis nobler to leave the photograph alone, or to manipulate it to one's heart's content in search of the picture one had in mind at the time of taking it. I'd have thought this was long dead - hence the Stieglitz reference - but apparently not.

The notion that a photograph is an untouchable record of reality is, um, inaccurate. It isn't. Never was. Face it, for the first hundred years or so, they were all in black and white. And "fuzzy" was the ideal, not "sharp". Once colour came along, reality remained just as far away. Negative film or slide? Slow emulsion or fast? Which brand? Who did the printing? What, no filters on the camera? How's the tonal range in the photo compare to reality? How about the colour depth?

Of course, "reality" doesn't exist either. Is the world more real when I've got my glasses on, or off? It sure looks different in each of those conditions. Are glasses a manipulation of reality? As I mentioned, I'm a bit colour blind - is my world less real than everyone else's? After all, I'm only considered colour blind because I see a narrower portion of the spectrum than most people. And none of us sees in the ultraviolet the way bees do. Who's world is more real?

So, here's the answer to the debate. Do what you like - they're your photos and it's your reality. Do you like the way your picture looks? Congratulations, you did the right thing(s). Hate it? Oops, you did something wrong.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Of course, muted tones can be nice, too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Maybe it's because I'm colourblind (Oh! The wardrobe faux pas!) that I'm so fascinated with colour. Or, maybe I just like bright, shiny things. Maybe it's because I just saw too many of Pete Turner's photos when I was young. Or maybe it was Ernst Haas?

And I just found this site (too bad I can't remember how, but...) - Monkeysquirrel! Actually, there was a link on the "Online Photographer" site. What a bunch of nutty folks exist out there.
Rule of Thirds

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So, the general idea from now on will be a pic a day. And maybe some comments.

For instance, Mike Johnston, who runs "The Online Photographer" has a nice article on Lee Friedlander, someone no photographer should be unaware of. You may or may not like his photos, but they're definitely worth looking at.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Whew! After some major deletions, I've finally gotten the politics out of here, and now I want to just concentrate on photography. I thought I'd try to push things back in that direction by mentioning some other photography sites that I like. To begin with, there's "The Online Photographer". I've only started paying attention to it recently, but it's been interesting so far. Nice chat about Diane Arbus recently.

I've also become a fan of "The Luminous Landscape". It's run by a guy named Michael Reichmann, who seems to do mainly landscape photography. He uses a variety of formats and his site attracts posts from people using everything from prosumer digital to 4x5 film cameras (and, on occasion, even larger formats). It's nice to see a site that isn't spending all its time debating digital vs. film. He's also big on the idea that it's the photographer, not the equipment, that makes the photograph. To prove it, he recently posted an article on the FunkyCam, a twenty dollar digital camera. Seeing a print of a photo he'd made with it, his wife, unaware that he'd shot it on this cheap-o camera, declared that it was some of his best work. And he does very nice stuff, as you'll see if you visit his site.

Now, speaking of the film vs. digital debate, if you want some fun, try Ken Rockwell's site. He's evidently got money to burn, and is thrilled with that fact. He loves his new toys, and loves to share the love with his readers. He's also endlessly fascinated by the fact that 4x5 film produces better images than his Nikon dSLRs. I still haven't figured out why he finds this so interesting. Wouldn't you expect a 20 square inch sensor to produce better images than one that's barely 1 square inch (if that)? But, he's fun to read and, if you're a Nikon owner (or want to be), he's always trying out their latest equipment and writing about it.