Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Project

I'm almost afraid to think of how long it has been since I made the decision to do this project. It started as a book and reaches back all the way into the mid seventies.

I have always felt a sense of urgency about my life. My father passed away in his early 50's and I had always been told how much like him I was. So I expected to have a short life. I resolved, not so much to pack as many experiences into it as possible, as to experience each day as fully as possible.

As my life progressed I found this more and more difficult to do. It seemed that much of my life was spent trying to cope with the world around me and my role in it. In the early sixties I felt anything was possible and focused on being the best person I could be, the best son, the best brother, the best catholic, but when it came to school, man, that was a tough one. But I digress and will return to that later.

It was in the 70's that I came to realize that my goals might not be met and I became an angry young man. I realized that this was destroying my experiences and my relationships. So I found myself reading and article in Psychology Today titled "Growing Up With The Dream" by Daniel Levinson, which led me to understand that my life consists of dreams, the dreams we construct about how we want to live, what we want to experience, set our direction, and the dreams we have at night, are how we sort and rationalize our experiences. I know this is a simplistic perspective but when it comes down to it, I'm a pretty simple guy.

So I began by looking at the origins of my dreams. Not the ones I had at night but the ones I made for myself, my goals and my ideas of myself and my life. Of course, my parents played a big role in this and I quickly realized that it was my father whose influence was the greatest.

For the most part, he was a remote character. Of my brothers and sisters I was probably closest to him but I never really knew him. I mythologized him in my memories.

The most important thing I knew about him was that he was a pilot before and during the war and I wanted to be one too. I was obsessed about flying. He seldom spoke about it but we had picture albums with snapshots of airplanes and the odd one of him. They fueled my imagination.


Francis Robert (Jim) Emler


This is a fleet Trainer I was told, a sweet airplane to fly. He liked open cockpit airplanes as they were the first he flew.

He was in England during the war and although he was an American, he apparently came to Canada to join the Canadian Air Force in 1939.

I thought this was fantastic and often tried to get him to talk about it but he never would.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Old Dog

As you can see from my picture in the last post, I'm not as young as I used to be and, consistent with my age I suppose, I'm not always ready to embrace new technologies.

So forgive me for posting on something that others have been doing for some time now but as I have told my students in the past, it doesn't matter if it has been done before, it's what you do with it that counts.

So here are a few forays into the world of HDR.

I feel a bit nostalgic about this picture as it was done during a sunny time in Vancouver. A time which seems sadly long gone and due to return not for many months.
If you don't know about HDR perhaps I can take a few minutes to give you the basics. HDR is an acronym which means "High Dynamic Range", it means that by stacking multiple pictures over top of each other, each taken at a different exposure, one can extend the range of the capture beyond what we normally see. This means that we can see color in the shadows even though they might normally be seen as black. So by doing say, 5 different exposures from two stops under exposed to 2 stops over exposed, stacking them together in Photoshop, and using a very sophisticated program like PHOTOMATIX by HDRSoft, we can create a picture that "sees" into the shadows while maintaining highlight quality.
The look is very illustrative but also photographic.

I got a chance to use this technique in September when we went north to visit our friends, Steve and Juliette in their wonderful hand-built home. Here's an interior looking into their living room from the staircase.



You can see the love that has been put into this house over the years. It has been built from trees that were growing on the property and recycled materials that they managed to scrounge. As you can see, these people have big hearts and great imaginations.

Here's the yard to the west with the greenhouse.



How could we not feel inspired by beauty such as this?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Starting Out

Portrait of me by Miranda Robson

Hello and welcome to my blog. I've been involved in the visual arts for over 35 years primarily as a photographer. For the last ten years, almost to the day, I have been involved in teaching photography here in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is without doubt, one of the best things I have ever done.

So I'm starting this blog for a couple of reasons, to give a forum for my thoughts and to stay in touch with the some of the wonderful people that I have met over the last ten years. If you are not a former student please know that you are welcome too.


Those of you who know me also know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe photography, or perhaps I should say imaging as I am now considering other mediums as well. (More about that later.) You also know that I am as excited about photography now as I was when I first started. How lucky we are to be involved in the arts! Every day there is something new to discover, I never know what is going to happen and what I am going to see.


By the way, Gaetanne and I went to the Winsor Gallery on Granville Street yesterday to see the drawings of BRIAN BOULTON and multi-disciplinary work of CHRISTIAN NICOLAY. If you get the chance, go see it, both of these artists do wonderful work. It is one of the most inspiring exhibitions I have seen in some time.


Here's a portrait of my dear Gaetanne. I did this shot a few years ago at Chesterman Beach at Tofino. It was her birthday and I had just given her those binoculars (after many, many hints!)