I originally published one photograph of the patterns of steam created by workers de-icing planes in January 2014, the day after I took the picture when I arrived in Arizona. I processed the image quite minimally as I believe I was working off of an iPad and had limited time to work on the images. Last year, a more true to life, and to my eye more pleasing, version was recognized in the CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year competition. This version required some processing as RAW files are quite flat and high contrast images can require a bit of work to bring them out.
For a recent competition I entered, I submitted a series of different images from the same time. I liked the abstract quality of the steam created by the patterns and swirls, backlit by the just risen sun. I wanted to share those here – with the break in the freezing temperatures this morning, I thought it was a nice reminder of just how cold winter can be in Alberta!
The countryside surrounding Shangri-La is a rural landscape of small farms, fields and villages divided by densely forested hills, soaring mountains and deeply carved rivers. When I was in China last month I spent a couple of days driving the narrow roads that connect these places. These are a selection of these scenes as I experienced them.
The Shwedagon Zedi Daw is a nexus point for Myanmar’s Buddhists. It’s history goes back more than 2600 years and it is an amazing place of humanity, faith and spirituality. The main stupa is sheathed in gold foil as are many of the parapets and other buildings on the grounds. I went there twice when I visited Myanmar in 2010 and think I could return many more times and always find new things catching my eye. On my second visit, I watched these workers gilding a new, or maybe restored, tower. It was a hot day and while one gentleman found a ball cap to be sufficient protection, the other preferred a more encompassing head cover. This was detailed work and they were attentive to the task at hand. I had to wait a little while until one of them looked up from the tower and glanced out over the crowds walking around Shew Dagon.
A member of the ground crew at the Calgary International Airport does the critical work of de-icing the airplane during a cold sunrise well below freezing in Alberta, Canada.
The Bar U Ranch is a national historic site in southwest Alberta. A nice drive from Calgary and a great place for photography with the clock turned back over a hundred years.
I was revisiting this photograph that I made last summer. The door to this bunkhouse was open with all of these pieces of ranch hand gear laid out so that it seemed like one of them could walk up any moment. Just one of many interesting scenes they have created at the ranch for visitors to see and feel how life on the western frontier was lived.
Alvise Doglioni and I finished the first of a couple of meetings to photograph him in his workshop in Priddis, Alberta for a piece that we are working on. He is a master craftsman in woodworking and woodcarving and it was nice to get this project started. That story is a ways off from being told but I did make a couple of images using the beautiful light streaming in through the windows.
If you have an interest in wood artwork and furniture – whimsical and functional in alternating measures – check out Alvise’s website.
I am enjoying the people I meet and see during my commutes into and out of downtown. The photographs of these two gentlemen drew my attention when I was looking through my recent pictures. The driver was a quick shot taken as my car passed by a bus – I didn’t realize that the bus driver was looking at me. It certainly makes the picture. The man waiting for the train had a stately, refined manner which stood out from the standard commuter. I am taking queues from this man’s sartorial tastes.
More to come from the commuting into Calgary’s core…
If you are on Facebook, check out my new photography page (and “like” it – if you do indeed like it)
A photograph made in Gastown in Vancouver, British Columbia. The restaurant is the Water St. Cafe and I love how the subject of the image, the waiter, is separated from the street scene by these large panes . I photographed this image a couple of years ago with my old Canon XT and converted it into black and white immediately back then. I had not looked at it much since then but it was stored in one of the image portfolios on my phone. This afternoon I was playing with an app (TiltShift) on my iPhone which applies tilt and shift effects to any accessible image. So, with adjustment of the point of focus and then selecting the amount of blur, I came up with a new version of this archived photo that I quite like.
Throughout Asia, markets are a big part of daily life in a way very different from our malls. I romanticize them a bit when I’m touring through my memories of trips to and living in Thailand, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Myanmar. However, every time I return, I head straight for the nearest night market, food bazaar, or whatever to get a feel for the place and the people. Just about a year ago, I was in Mandalay in central Myanmar and in a bid to escape the afternoon heat, I lingered in this corridor set off to the side of a very large market in the city.
Just a really cool spot to spend a couple of hours. The kids were a ton of fun but pretty elusive – they welcomed me to take their picture but weren’t interested in staying still for even a fraction of a second. No worries, we shared some laughs and I had some really good tea from the lady with the pink food (but I didn’t give that one a try).
I grew up in a small valley in southwestern British Columbia. Our house faced a large meadow bounded by a creek on one side and the treed flanks of a mountain on the other three sides. The meadow had once been a field with several orchards and the behind the house were the remnants of a farm with barns, corrals and sheds. The buildings were worn down, leaning at odd angles but all held their own treasure of rusted tools, missing floorboards, broken machinery and weathered vehicles. It was a paradise for a kid and I loved that place. We lived there for about eight years and I know there were a few places I still didn’t fully explore. Living on the prairies now, I get to revisit the same objects as they dot the landscape – abandoned farmhouses, vehicles both hidden and exposed as well as many other iconic farm “things”. I’m working on a project tying the photographs to the people behind these farms – let’s just say that is a LONG term project. However, it’s a lot of fun making the photographs in and around the farms – a good escape to the boy I still am.
I will post more on the buildings, tools, etc. from around the farm but for this one, I’ll restrict the images to vehicles. These images are from places across Alberta and in eastern Saskatchewan, linger over the picture for the particular location. As always, click on any of the pictures to jump to a full page version.
Alas, this last vehicle, a combine harvester, is not forgotten but I like it so please allow the exception.
This boy was on the edge of Chinatown in Yangon, Myanmar. He was arranging the deep fried snacks in his basket and maybe taking a short break before continuing on. I presumed that he was heading around the corner towards a large crowd was watching dragon dancers perform but did not follow him. Looking at this photograph again, almost a year later, I was struck by a number of the little details – the flip flop sandals, the crease in his shirt collar, the concrete blocks forming the sidewalk, even his raised pinky. It was an interesting scene to revisit.
It’s funny the difference a few days can make. That’s true year round in this part of the world but I thought these pictures highlight how quickly things can change.
These winter photographs were made this afternoon in Springbank on the first day in over a week where it wasn’t frigidly cold (still -20 celsius).
And this fall harvest shot below was from just before Remembrance Day near Cochrane. These two farms are about 20 kilometers apart. I think this farmer is pretty glad he got his crop pulled up when he did.
I am preparing entries for the Travel Photographer of the Year contest and reworked some of my images from Inle Lake in Myanmar that I made in February.
Very good people I met on the water. I look forward to the next encounters I have on Inle somewhere down the road.
Leanne and Dane invited me to photograph their wedding next summer which I am really looking forward to. On Friday, we went to the ranch of a friend of Leanne’s family to shoot their engagement photographs.
Over the evening, I had all manner of skies and light to work with and Leanne and Dane were having fun playing around with me.
Good people and a very cute couple. Can’t wait for their big day.
On Monday, I went down to the Lion’s 44th Annual Labour Day Rodeo for the finals of the weekend long event. This was my third rodeo that I have attended this summer and I joined my parents, aunt and uncle, and my wife’s parents. It was fun to enjoy a bit of time together down at the grounds.
I can’t say enough good things about this event. A large portion of the townspeople of Cochrane were down on the grounds. The banter between the announcer and the lead rodeo clown throughout the afternoon was fun and held the crowd’s interest between rides. The cowgirls and cowboys were impressive as they competed in their specialties. There were more than a few outstanding rides. I am always impressed by the level of skill on display at all of the rodeos, big and small, throughout Alberta.
I wasn’t at the rodeo on Sunday, so I missed seeing Darwin Wiggett and Wayne Simpson there. They both posted images from their time on the grounds – great work by both. The event drew a fair number of photographers but there was plenty of room to set up and move around the gates.
The Lion’s Annual is a small rodeo in Cochrane that I love attending every year. It has very good talent (both people and animals) and a great atmosphere which makes you feel like a close member of the community.
I’m heading down for the Finals right now but wanted to post a couple of images I took on Saturday afternoon as the storms started to roll in.
I found myself in Cochrane waiting for repairs to the wagon a few days ago. The sky was blue and the wind was blowing so it felt like a good time to take a walk. With gear in hand, I wandered the back streets of the town and ended up playing around the tracks (don’t tell my children, they might think I’m talking about real play, not shooting).
I’m endlessly fascinated by motion and trains with their history, power and shapes always draw my eye.
Throw in the rusted boxcars waiting on the secondary tracks and I happily filled an hour down on the rails.
I went down to Thiri Mingalar fish market and dock area located in the Kyee Myindine township of Yangon just before sunrise. The early morning haze coming off of the Hline river and the low cloud cover diffused the sunlight and spoiled me with great light to photograph with.
The market was a cacophony of people, fish, boxes, chattering, yelling, smoking and running. All of this began well before daybreak and was in full swing, flowing all around me as I wandered along the cobble stone streets and concrete docks.
I spent most of the morning following the flow of ice around the dock and the market. Given the heat and the few refrigerated trucks, ice is understandably the grease that keeps the wheels spinning down there.
Large blocks of ice arrive in the back of covered trucks and get slid down a plank onto two-wheeled carts that are then pushed up about a block to a shed. Inside, there are a couple of old contraptions that crush the ice. Men shovel the ice into crates which are then loaded onto another set of carts. Men, mostly young guys, run these carts down the street, past the truck, and onto the dock. The whole operation is built on the enormous effort (and undoubtedly sore muscles) of these men and provided me with another definition of hard work.
The fish get sorted as they are unloaded and sit in baskets and coolers covered with ice until they are sold. After watching the fishermen and the wholesalers for more than an hour, I can assert that the fish baskets do not sit for long. Once they are sold, they are either carried by another group of runners to a truck, motorcycle or cart for delivery around the city or they are packed into sealed crates with fresh ice. I couldn’t confirm, but I am guessing they were being sent a bit further afield or were purchased by higher end customers who paid extra for the relative luxury of clean, cold transport.
Mandalay is known throughout Asia for their artisans. The area’s stonemasons have earned a reputation for their exquisite work with marble.
Our guide took us to a street in Mandalay that is a centre for marble carving. The street is packed with workshops with carvers mostly working on Buddha statues of all sizes.
The statues are lined up, in various states of completion, at the front of most of the shops.
Masks are not part of the uniforms and the fine dust created by the power chisels and grinders they use hangs heavy around most workshops.
Marble is mined in quarries near Mandalay in the Sagyin hills. The best of this stone is alabaster, very fine quality marble which most of these carvers were working with along the road.
When a statue is ready to be moved for painting or to be delivered nearby, a cart like the one below is often used.
For shipments to more distant clients, the statues are framed in wood and then wait to be loaded on flatbed trucks.
At one end of this road, a low slung building housed woodworkers, which provided the single exception to the marble work packed on this dusty street running for several city blocks in the middle of this sprawling city.
Here too Buddha remained the focus of most of the carvings, but there were a few different statues lined up on one wall outside.
One more incredible location in Myanmar that I am already looking forward to getting back to again.
I returned from Myanmar with several thousand images to work through. I was able to spend a fair amount of time editing while on the road but it has still taken a while to start ordering the different subjects into some cohesive groups. The first one that I have completed is a set of graphic art style images made of the fishermen on Inle Lake. I have made this into a book and am expecting my proof copy within a couple of days.
First, a little detail about Inle Lake, Inle is located in Shan state in central Myanmar and is at an altitude of 2800 feet. The lake is about 14 miles long, 7 miles wide and has an average depth of seven feet (up to twelve in the rainy season) and is roughly 50 square miles in area. It is large, shallow and filled with reeds that sit just under the surface – I never saw the bottom of the lake during our three days spent completely in boats and stilt buildings on the water. There are about 70,000 people living on and around the lake. Most live in stilt homes of all shapes, sizes and condition. The streets to all of the villages, large and small, are predominantly canals. While I was there, the dry season was in full swing and the water levels were very low which had the largest visible impact on the small villages where there narrow canals were just mud in many places. Dredging was constant and, beyond a bit of rerouting and a few pushes from friendly villagers, our boats weren’t impeded too much.
The fishermen ply their trade all around the lake and the river mouths. They all work off small, flat hulled oar powered boats that they stand in back to navigate and then fish off the tip of either end of the boat. Most fishermen man their boats alone but occasionally I saw two fellows partnering on one skiff. The boats are mostly made of teak wood and are about 15′ long and maybe 3′ wide. What draws particular attention, is their method of rowing. They stand up using one leg to balance on the canoe, wrap the other leg around their long oar and propel their boat using a kicking motion. When they are intent on moving quickly, they keep one hand on the top of the oar and then drive oar wrapped leg hard which results in them moving pretty fast. While fishing, they hook the oar with their leg so that they are free to fish using both hands and can still maneuver their craft with a high degree of dexterity. They fish using a tall, conical net which they drop into the water when they see fish directly below them. Once in place, they push it down into the ground with one foot, keeping the other foot on the canoe, and then use a spear to skewer the fish through a hole at the top of the net which sits above the waterline. It is a wonderful display of balance and strength as these men work from early in the pre-dawn, through the day and into dusk. There are a number of species in the lake that the fishermen catch. Of these, the Inle Carp is abundant and forms a staple of the lake people’s diet.
I will post a blog of the lake people, detailing the lives lived on Inle in pictures but in this series, I wanted to play with the constantly changing shapes and compositions of these men as they worked the lake. I focused on the angles and patterns created by the fishermen, the boats and the nets. To create the graphic effect, I overexposed the shots while I was on the lake, then converted the images into black and white and adjusted the contrast in Adobe’s Lightroom later. Shooting early in the morning, I worked in low contrast light mostly and was able to eliminate the horizon, the surrounding hills and other distracting background elements in camera via the overexposure approach. These men were concentrated on the fish but tolerated our presence. We provided the men photographed with a tip as we shot them for almost a half an hour. They were not distracted by the cameras and I was pleased to be able to capture their regular movement which I found very appealing.
more to come…