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 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.
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 was exploring the country roads that divide up the fields along the prairie west of Calgary and found this old Ford 350 farm truck long since abandoned overlooking a river valley. The truck looked like it had been left where it finally broke down, just past a cattle guard on a dirt track that led down to an old farmstead.
With the deep blue sky of the early morning, the weathered reds and oranges of the cab and the hood made a nice contrast. I liked working in the white line on the horizon where the Rocky Mountains are still covered with snow. I will be back to this lonely Ford again soon to work in some star trails and light painting. When the new green grass comes in, I’ll return to work with the three strong colors (two primaries – red and blue, and one secondary – green) as they will allow for some dynamic compositions by varying the amount of each color in a frame. A great subject to find and I suppose it will be returning to work after having had at least a few years rest.
In the image below, I de-saturated the sky to emphasize the color in the truck (both the body and the rust on the bed’s frame. It creates an interesting feel to this image as the relationship between the truck and the surrounding environment is different.
In this final picture from this set, I walked down towards the valley so that the sun’s position relative to the truck changed from behind and streaming over my shoulder to behind the truck backlighting the truck and throwing a lot of reflected light towards the camera. The washed out color that resulted allowed for an image very different from the others.
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.
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 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.
This is the second part of the Inle Lake Edges of the Day series. These photos were taken around sunset during two evenings spent out on the water.
It was a lot of fun working with the falling light levels and exposing to reveal different amounts of detail from pure black silhouettes to overexposed reflections in the water. Many different ways to shoot these scenes, I could stay there for another couple of weeks and not get bored just working with these guys.
Inle Lake is a lake unlike any I have been to before. I was there for three days in February and each morning I went out on a longtail canoe on the smooth water and explored the lake, looking to capture some of the stillness and calm that preceded the sun climbing over the hills that rise above the eastern shoreline. Here are some of the images from those mornings on the lake with the fishermen.
We maneuvered our canoe around the fishermen to work with and into the light. Using longer lenses, we kept far enough from the men that we were not affecting their fishing. Through our guide, we were told that these gentlemen did not mind us photographing them, they just thought it was strange that we found them so interesting. Seeing the world through the lens continues to be an amazing way to experience life.
A short post with a link to a web gallery of my first set of favourites from my trip to Myanmar in February.
* If you can’t open the link, please scroll down to see the set.
More to come as I am still working through the library of images I came home with.
Thanks for checking out the blog and the images.
* The link is to a Flash based slideshow so for those viewing on an iPhone, iPad or other device that does not support Adobe’s Flash, I have included the images from the slideshow below.
In Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, lies the Chaukhtatgyi Temple which houses an enormous reclining Buddha. We traveled to the temple, enjoyed looking at the impressive statue but moved on to the focus of our first day in Myanmar, the monastery attached to the temple. The monastery houses monks both young and old. It is comprised of a collection of wooden buildings that serve as dorms, classrooms, eating halls and meditation spaces. We met the senior monk who offered to let us photograph some of the younger monks while they studied their scriptures.
Here is the senior monk in his living quarters on the second floor of one of the dormitories.
This group of boys were in one long, sparsely furnished room. The students were scattered around the room sitting, standing or laying down on the dark wooden floor reading their books with levels of interest which varied from passive up to completely focused. The younger boys seemed to be more the former with the older boys able and willing to devote complete attention.
The monk teaching these boys was a stern taskmaster. While I do not speak Burmese, when he was not pleased with one of the students, it was very clear that whatever they were doing was wrong and should be quickly corrected. He didn’t chasten often while we were there but when he did, the student under scrutiny amended the error immediately. While some of the boys stole a glance, or even a smile, while the five of us photographers moved among them, they kept alternately reading and chanting as they had done before we entered the room.
It was an incredible scene to photograph. Made all the more enjoyable as it was a window into the normal, daily lives of these young monks. Definitely a world away from Canada and it set a very high bar photographically for the tour, coming on the first day at the first location we visited. Hats off to Art Wolfe, Gavriel Jecan and our guide, Win-Kyaw Zan for this and many other great cultural locations.
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…