Sunday, January 31, 2010

Daily Practice 31/365

Title: "He had long been confused by the three stages of his amnesia"
I walked along the sea wall today, the air crisp and slightly cool. Looking down, instead of up and out over the strait towards the distant mountains. I had been thinking about this idea of the last image being a point of departure for the next, and was remembering a book of Richard Serra's drawings I have that's titled "Work comes out of work" that is a succinct expression of that idea. I saw the sky reflected in some pooled water along the walk way, and framed it square to the base of the wall. For the past few days I had been working with that temporary sculpture inside the studio, with geometry on my mind. There's a geometric formalism to this image that is certainly a distinct departure from the past few images, yet there is undoubtedly a connection between this image and those.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Daily Practice 30/365

Title: "Spiral Progeny"

Today I spent most of my photography time in the darkroom, wrestling with some lith printing. When it works, it's a very satisfying experience, but sometimes there's a lot of disappointment. There was disappointment at the start of the session, but after awhile things started to get interesting and overall it was a successful venture. I returned to my temporary sculpture after the darkroom session and looked for new views with different lighting. The sculptural piece is unrolled roof flashing, and I like the idea that each spiral begets the next, with the potential for more and more until the end of the roll is reached.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Daily Practice 29/365

 Title: "Vibrational Horizons"
Years ago, one of my science mentors advised me that once I embarked on my independent career, I would have many more ideas than I could possibly work on. His advice spoke directly to the need to be critically selective, and also to the need to realize this truth to avoid being frustrated. While some artists often worry about a lack of inspiration, I've oddly never met a scientist who had that concern. I've found in my own art practice that realizing that each work informs the next, or provides a point of departure for the next, has freed me from the crippling worry about "inspiration". Daily practice reinforces the use of the last piece as a point of departure, which is true of today's image. Yesterday's meditation on the intersection of architecture, sculpture and photography has been the point of departure that brought about today's image.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daily Practice 28/365

Title: "Intersection Beyond the Limits of Seeing"
Today I feel as if I'm a man of few words. I've been thinking lately of intersections between architecture, sculpture and photography. I set up a temporary sculptural piece in my studio, got out a camera, explored different views and lighting, and this was one of the results.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daily Practice 27/365

Title: "He looked down the eyepiece, eavesdropping on the very first act of conception"

For some photographers, photography is all about making a faithful representation of what is before their camera. Lens stopped way down, tack sharp focus, exposed and posted or printed without any manipulation or "post-processing". "Straight out of camera" is their creed, and a strong statement of their technical skill. I have a great deal of respect for photographers who approach their art in this manner, and I have had the pleasure of seeing many fine images produced from this philosophical approach.

I tend more towards ambiguity - I am often drawn to create images with multiple "reads" or interpretations. I like the idea of limitless imagination for myself, and I hope the art I create imposes as few limitations as possible on the imaginations of those who see it. Although I enjoy sharing my vision of the world with anyone who's interested, at the end of the day the images I create have to resonate with me. I like happenstance, accident and the unexpected. Lately, the images are trying to tell me a story - it's a multi-threaded narrative that seems to have started somewhere in the middle. I have no idea how broad it is, and whether either the beginning or end will be reached. And I'm perfectly content with that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Daily Practice 26/365

Title: "When he squinted his weary eyes, he thought he saw the stairway to heaven"

Things become habit forming because constant repetition strengthens the neural pathways used in the activity/behaviour, and less used pathways fall dormant. Committing to this daily practice of taking a photograph is starting to have that benefit for me. I was not feeling well this afternoon/evening, yet I felt the urge to make a photograph. No ideas in mind, everything seemed like too much work, yet the urge was persistent. Mindful that photographs are waiting to be made steps away, I put a homemade slit lens on the camera, and stepped out into the backyard. A little bit of magic ensued.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Daily Practice 25/365

Title: "Sky as Saviour/Wild West"

I had anticipated I would have days when I was either stumped for ideas, or did not feel like doing my daily practice. I was feeling under the weather today, had to go into work for a few hours in the afternoon for meetings, and felt wiped out as I was heading home. I just wanted to get home and take a nap, but what about the daily practice? As I was driving, I started to notice the sky, with the clouds high above the setting sun. I convinced myself to stop at the waterfront, and attempt a few images. I felt as though the sky had saved me from abandoning my daily routine, and this image in particular reminded me of a vintage western movie, shot when colour film was relatively new. One of those amazing skies above the range, just as sunset approaches. I can feel the horse beneath me, my bones pleasantly weary after a day in the saddle, both of us satisfied with another day's work well done.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Daily Practice 24/365

Title: "He had spent a lifetime longing for distant shores"

This is the view literally at the foot of our street. It's a stage for an ever-changing drama, today's being the start of a storm blowing in. Although I often have other ideas for my daily photography practice, encountering this view on my walk almost always results in an imperative to make some images. Although my titles are not autobiographical, it is true that I've lived on this island for 27 years, and have never been to that particular, not so distant shore.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Daily Practice 23/365

Title: "Land of the Winds"

Today was one of those days when the will was there, but the body was weak. I took a trip into town to buy frames and matboard. Since the weather was spectacular, I decided to take a walk about with the cameras at a somewhat picturesque spot nearby. I was just a bit too tired to really search out some interesting compositions, but I did play around a bit with this totem pole and the sun. I learned later that when first erected this was the tallest totem pole in the world, but eventually it was partially dismantled for safety reasons. The pole is named "The Spirit of Lekwammen", which is translated as land of the winds.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Daily Practice 22/365

Title: "He felt separated from the underworld by only the thinnest of veils"

After an outing of shooting rock forms and driftwood patterns, I turned my attention to the sky. I was captivated by the thin veil of patterns diffusing the sun. Sometimes that's all that separates us from the extremes of opposite experiences.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daily Practice 21/365

Title: "What would Edward do?"

I've been re-reading Edward Weston's Daybooks. His almost constant enthusiasm for his work is quite motivating and inspiring, and it's quite informative to read his descriptions of how he made images. He did an extensive series of still life images with a variety of vegetables, bones and other ephemera. It is clear from the Daybooks that he spent inordinate amounts of time selecting appropriate backgrounds, orientations, point of focus, depth of field. His series of pepper images are probably the most famous of the still life images, and he describes his excitement in finding new peppers of distinctive shapes. I wonder what Edward would do now - the fruits and vegetables available to us at the local grocers are boringly uniform in shape and size. One would be very hard pressed to find 3 peppers of truly different shapes these days. Reading the daybooks got me thinking of exploring in Edward Weston's footprints, and I made a start today with a cabbage. My intention is to get organized to do a series with the 4X5 and/or 8X10 cameras, but I got my feet wet today with the macro lens on my dslr.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daily Practice 20/365


This morning we had brilliant sun and mild temperatures. I stopped along the water on the way to work, wishing I could spend all morning looking for compositions and enjoying the weather. I find myself drawn to driftwood as a subject because of the endless varieties of tone, line and texture.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Daily Practice 19/365

Title: "Chain Reaction"

I was looking out my bedroom window while dressing this morning, and saw some cloud formations in the sky that I thought looked interesting. I grabbed my camera, thinking it had a long zoom attached, and went out to the backyard to make some images. Turns out the macro lens was attached, and I decided to go with the flow. With the very shallow depth of field, hand held is a real challenge, but I was pressed for time and didn't want to get out the tripod. As I moved around the yard, I started exploring the rain chain for the studio. I think there are more ways to "see" this chain, but I was pleased with this image.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Daily Practice 18/365

Title: "The sea beckoned him with a thousand voyages"

I've been enjoying the ever changing morning views around the corner from the house. The tremendous drama being played out overhead is always a draw, but this morning I decided to change my perspective, and emphasize the ever present sea. Dark and infinitely patient, there were the last vestiges of the night's tempest crashing against the sea wall. I chose this image because it shows the hope that is always over the horizon after a storm.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Daily Practice 17/365

Untitled (click to see full image)

I took advantage of another break in the wet winter weather to visit a favourite spot for rest and contemplation. There's nothing particularly remarkable about this image, a panoramic view from Anderson Hill Park, or "Blueberry Hill" as it is more colloquially called. Yet the short hike up to the vista, and the opportunity to feel the sun on my face, was quite restorative. The view is looking south, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, towards the distant Olympic Mountains. It is generally quiet here, an oasis in the middle of the south village, usually there are only a few dogs and their owners who've come for a ramble. A good place to gather thoughts and reflect on new ways of seeing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Daily Practice 16/365

Title: "He felt the sky weighing down the sea, oppressing his every thought"

I've been re-reading Edward Weston's daybooks the past few days. I'm always struck by how generally enthused he is after a day's shoot, his talk of having many fine negatives and his impatience waiting for sunny weather to print them in platinum. This morning was frosty but sunny, and I felt an urgent need to take my 4X5 camera out to the shore, to make images of the overbearing sky and the patterns in the rocks and driftwood. It's been too long since I worked with sheet film, and there was much enjoyment in developing the film, making sheet contacts and then picking a negative for a proof print.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Daily Practice 15/365

Title: "He whispered his question in the oracle's ear, leaning closer in hope of a reply"

The end of another work week, and fortunately the torrential downpour happening this morning cleared by afternoon. I stopped at Harling Point on the way home, it's one of my favourite places to photograph. The sun was shining, and the wind was brisk. I came upon this little tide pool in the worn rocks, the shape suggesting a story.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daily Practice 14/365

Title: "He stood on the icy precipice, contemplating the possible outcomes"

I liked the organic shapes I found in an abstract subject, and had fun isolating different aspects and imagining what stories the images told.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Daily Practice 13/365

Title: "He scanned the time lines, looking to jump to a better future"

A quick break in the gloomy weather, with interesting patterns in the clouds over the Olympic Mountains. Took a little extra time on the drive to work to go along the coast, and stopping to make images of the clouds. I was struck by the parallel lines of different shapes and tones in this image.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Daily Practice 12/365

I feel a special affinity with modern architecture, which strikes me as being an extension of sculpture. I was waiting for a meeting to take place in a new building at work, and while I waited I took the opportunity to explore the forms, angles and relationships between different aspects of the building. For me, this image is all about the space inbetween. I titled this image:

"He saw the gap between them as utterly unbridgeable, and it filled him with sadness."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Daily Practice 11/365

Today was a busy day without an opportunity to photograph until after dinner. I was thinking of the Wallace Stevens poem "Study of Two Pears" and set up a still life with pears from the dining room. I decided to shoot hand-held with a slit lens and a pinhole lens, concentrating on the curves of the pears. When I started to look at the images, several struck me in a more sensuous way than I had expected. I picked this image, and titled it:

"He could still recall the feel of his hand between her legs, her curves bulging at the base, passion flowering over her skin"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Daily Practice 10/365

One of the amazing things about where I live is the constantly changing winter sky. Today I was on a grocery run when I noticed that the clouds were constantly changing patterns above the Olympic Mountains to the south. I dropped the groceries off at home and then made my way to several favourite spots along the water. There were many dramatic views of the clouds over mist-skirted mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In the end, I found this image of cloud and light patterns over the Olympics to be the most compelling of the day's practice. Playing with the idea of Olympus and Greek mythology, I arrived at the title:

"He thought of Zeus ruling with impunity from Mount Olympus, and wondered what that would feel like."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Devil's Playground

Devil's Mark

His Eminence


Devil's Anvil


Devil's Chisels


The Drowning Pool


Devil's Broadcast


Devil's Music


Devil's Temptation

I shot this series of images while on a walk at a local park. The site used to be a cement works a long time ago, but the forest has mostly reclaimed the site. It's somewhat intriguing to come across these last remnants of the old works, and as the moss and taggers go about their business of remediating the site a slight sense of unease creeps in. As I started taking images, I began to imagine the site as being the devil's playground, and looked for elements that fit that theme.

Daily Practice 9/365

I took a walk in the rainforest on a favourite trail. At this time of year, the trees are covered with moss of the most vivid green, and the wind blows down these little offerings that litter the trail. Who the offerings are for, or what they are meant to signify, is not clear. But there is something peaceful and reassuring about them. The trail comes out an an inlet, across the water the fir trees were shrouded in fog. Yet it was this image of a fallen offering that somehow spoke more to me than any other.

I titled this image:

"He stumbled upon an offering to the gods, not knowing by whom or for what purpose"

Friday, January 8, 2010

Daily Practice 8/365

I was thinking about solitude today - actually craving it after the first week back at work. I cut out a bit early this afternoon, with thoughts of finding a warm spot in the house to read. But first there was the question of my daily photography practice. The American artist Jennifer Bartlett once arranged to spend a year in France and rented a house. Expecting beautiful views and landscapes, she found the house to have a rather ordinary garden. Rather than being disappointed, Ms. Bartlett proceeded to create an extensive series of paintings and drawings of this "ordinary" garden over the course of the year. When I arrived home, I grabbed a pinhole digital camera and stepped outside into the back yard. Experimenting with camera motion and long exposures gave me an image that seemed to express the healing qualities of solitude.

I titled this image:

"He needed solitude to quiet the neuronal storm that descended from time to time"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Daily Practice 7/365

I took the "long route" to work this morning, driving along the coast, with the idea that I would stop along the way if something looked interesting. Even though I've seen the winter sun low over the Strait of Juan de Fuca many times, it always feels fresh and restorative to me. And today reminded me of the bright yellow suns we draw as children.

I title this image:

"His mind conjured a yellow crayon sun with healing rays reflected on a calming sea"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Daily Practice 6/365

I was waiting to pick up a prescription, wandering in the village when I caught site of these subjects. My first thought was to go back to my car to get my camera, then I remembered that I'm always carrying my phone, which can be used. Not nearly as capable as most of my cameras, but in some ways a better tool for sharpening composition skills. The day was gloomy and it made the subjects seem sinister. Thinking of that, I titled this image:

"He saw harbingers of doom everywhere, in the bird of death and the sinister smiling man"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Daily Practice 5/365

I find the blur and framing of this image impart a sense of someone watching or being watched. I like the idea that a blurred image of iconic places can be an access point to childhood memories. With that in mind, I titled this piece:

"He remembered hiding behind grandfather's house, scared of the monster that might emerge"

Monday, January 4, 2010

Daily Practice 4/365

Wet, cold and miserable - not exactly perfect conditions for outdoor photography. I decided on using the Hipstamatic program on my iPhone, and stopped on the way home from work to look for a composition along the water. I picked this image because introspection has been on my mind today, and I was struck by the arrangement of the little islets in the water. This image is titled:

"In his deep introspection, he saw each issue as an islet in the ocean of confusion"

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Daily Practice 3/365

I loaded my Holga with 50 ASA film to specifically experiment with multiple exposures on a tripod. I was hoping to get some good images of ghostly people at a local dog walking area, but the results were a little underwhelming, and I will need to rethink how to get the effects I want. I stopped at a duck pond in the park, and did this multiple exposure on a reflection of the trees. I'm struck by the waving, floating lines extending between the two darker masses.

I titled this image: "His thoughts were fragile tendrils floating between the dark masses of the underworld "

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Daily Practice 2/365

The weather was wet, wet, wet earlier in the day, and then the sky cleared and the sun came out. I live near the Strait of Juan de Fuca across from the Olympic Peninsula and the sky can be quite dramatic over the water, with the mountains peeking through a veil of clouds. I followed along the coast, finally stopping at a lookout up above the Strait. Of the various images I had to choose from, I picked this image because I felt as if this cloud formation was a metaphor for past and future. I also like the historical reference to Stieglitz's "Equivalents".

Keeping in mind why I had selected this image, I've titled it:

"He felt as if his life was being redefined, the past separating from the future"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Daily Practice 1/365

Make one "serious" photo a day for a year - I've decided to commit to doing that for 2010. I see this project as a way to sharpen my eye, improve my compositional skills and become consistent in my art practice as it pertains to photography. I expect that most days I will have a number of images to choose from, so I expect to get practice at seriously evaluating my own images, figuring out what works or doesn't work and why, and improving my skills at "curating" my own work.

Today I started out the project by taking a new 4X5 pinhole camera and some expired Fuji instant film to a favourite spot near my house. I chose this image for the first of the series, even though it is not technically perfect (oh dear, that sloping horizon line). The wide angle of view, and the low perspective give a great sweep to the clouds in the sky. The imperfections in the emulsion spread that give a red line in the top left, and scanning to show the white border of the instant print give a sense of the history of making this image. And the "dark sun" gave me a point of reference for the titling of the piece:

"The new year was ushered in under a black sun, a chilling omen he refused to think about"