Category Archives: Education

Route 60: The Mining Towns

Four miles east of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the mining town, Superior, Arizona. It is the first of three mining towns that I have often photographed  while wintering in Arizona. Eighteen miles further is Miami and then after another 6 miles  is the county seat, Globe. 

There is beauty in this semi arid landscape. It is rocky and rugged with a wide range of cacti and other plant life suited to the climate. Even though the elevations of this area are higher than those close to Phoenix  summer temperatures can regularly reach up to 100 degrees F while below freezing temperatures are common in the winter.

Mining in the area began in the 1870’s. The original Magma mine in Superior was founded in 1875 and closed in 1996. Today, efforts are underway to open a much deeper mine below the Magma site. Copper has been mined in the Miami area since the early 1900’s. It has been described as a classic Western copper boom-town.

One would think when first walking the streets of Superior that it was a ghost town. It is not. While the homes are small and run down most are occupied. Many of its downtown brick buildings are boarded up. On my last visit through there, there were several buildings being renovated so perhaps the ongoing mineral exploration is having a positive affect.

Most of my images were made in the Superior to Miami area. I was attracted to the rustic run down aspect of these towns and the affect that the harsh climate and the up and down nature of the economy has had on the buildings.

The central image of this article was made in Superior. It is part of the façade of an old hotel. While the walls and the signage were almost completely bleached out by the sun I found that by adjusting the setting in my image software I could bring out the hidden colours. I called it ‘Vacant’ and entered it in Lake Country’s Artwalk several years ago. It sold!

I noticed during my last visit that this building is being renovated and  probably is now an active hotel again.

The images in the gallery below represent the geographical landscape and some of the sights from around the Superior and Miami areas.  I found several active antique stores in Miami. They were chock-full of memorabilia and old household items that would interest most antique hunters. One of the store owners allowed me in to photograph her store. That was fun.

Also in Miami were several old cars stored behind a tall fence. To make these images I had to hold my cameral high over my head above the fence and hope that I was pointing it correctly. Most of the time that was not quite the case.

Also posted in My Work, The Creative Process, Travel

Kangaroo Island: Remarkable Rocks

Our first trip ‘Down Under’ took place in the Spring of 2009. There it was Fall. We had landed in Auckland, NZ after a 14 hour flight and then continued on to Sydney. And so began our first Australian adventure.

Following a 4 day stay in Sydney we flew to  Launceston on the island of Tasmania the start of a week long drive along the eastern coast to Hobart. From Tasmania we flew to Melbourne and then drove the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide.

Adelaide is home to our good friends  Kathy and Kari whom we met here in Kelowna. They spent a year in Kelowna when Kathy was on the teacher exchange program and taught in the same school as Ellen.

Adelaide is a beautiful city especially the coastal suburb of Glenelg where Kathy and Kari live. But touring of Adelaide would have to wait.  A weekend trip to Kangaroo Island would come first.

After a 2 hour drive and about the same on the ferry we landed on Kangaroo Island. Kari described our accommodation as being highly rated. Upon arrival the ladies were somewhat dubious. We made it work.  

An event that I will never forget was the pelican feed. We had driven to a nearby fish shop. All manner and size of fish were displayed for sale. Out back above a narrow beach were 2 grandstand style risers. They were empty as was the beach. A bus arrived and the risers began to fill. Then a stocky man wearing a brimmed Aussie hat, rubber gloves and waist high waders appeared. He was carrying a large plastic bucket.

A whistle and they started to arrive, gulls first, followed by huge white and black pelicans. My guess at the time was that between 25 to 30 pelicans flew in,  all of them calling out and  gathering around the man with the bucket. The audience was captivated.

Over the next half hour the bucket filled with fish guts was emptied. What a show the pelicans put on as they scrambled and grabbed for any morsel they could reach. When it was over the risers emptied, the bus filled and drove off. It was again quiet except that the man came out with a second bucket. I alone, was treated to another pelican feed. My camera was so busy.

Our tour of the island continued. We visited many interesting places and  interesting sights. Clearly this island was affected  by the wind. High sand dunes, low lying plants, evidence that fire had quickly moved through  the scrubby forest and waves that relentlessly pounded the shore all play a part in making this a very special eco system.

Along one part of the drive we came across many termite colonies, their outer surface covered with crusted mud as protection  from the wind and sun. We encountered a colony of Fairy Penguins, also known as Little Penguins but we did not see a single Kangaroo.

The display of ‘Remarkable Rocks’ was perhaps the most impressive sight. They are the signature landmark of the island and a ‘must see’ for any Kangaroo Island holiday. These naturally sculpted boulders are balanced precariously on a granite outcrop. Evidence shows that these rocks were formed by rain, wind and pounding waves over a period of 500 million years . They are part of Flinders Chase National Park.

Also posted in My Work, Travel

Route 60: Boyce Thompson Arboretum

A one hour drive east along U.S. Highway 60 from Phoenix, Arizona will take you to the Boyce Thompson Aboretum. It is located in the Sonoran Desert along Queen Creek near Picketpost Mountain, a prominent vestige of long ago volcanic action. The images I made there are part of a collection I call “Route 60”.

Founded in 1924 and opened to the public in 1929 the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the largest and oldest garden of its kind in Arizona. Originally designed as a plant research facility and a ‘living museum’ it attracts over 75,000 visitors annually.  There are over 2600 species of arid land plants  on display. The Audubon Society  has recognized it as an  Important Bird Area due to the presence of about 270 bird species.

I’m a believer in repeat visits to the sites I love to photograph. This is true here in Kelowna with the Fascieux Creek Wetland as well as in Victoria, B.C. and other locations on Vancouver Island. And it was certainly true in Arizona. There was so much to photograph, especially at the BTA where I visited up to 4 times in the winter/spring season.  When light conditions weren’t ideal a visit on  another day might produce better results. If the images I made were not that great then another trip might build on the previous experience.

There is an entry fee to the BTA  and it does get very busy especially later in the day and on weekends. I generally was there as the gates opened in the morning  and stayed until it became too crowded. In the winter months due to the BTA’s altitude, temperatures could be below freezing especially in the shadows. But that was a small price to pay for a bit of solitude as I made my images. 

I especially loved the creative possiblities in the cactus garden and in the Australian exhibit but the image possibilities in the South American exhibit and Aloe garden interested me as well. The Chihuahuan, Curandero and High Trails provided an interesting ecological and geographic perspective for the BTA’s plant collections.

If or when we are able to make a return trip to Arizona the Boyce Thompson Arboretum will again be high on my list of photographic destinations.

The collection of images I’ve included below reflects the diversity of plant life in the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. The rustic Australian exhibit reminded me of scenes I had observed on Australia’s Kangaroo Island when we visited there several years ago. 

Also posted in My Work, Travel

A Challenge: What do you say to a naked ….?

Being out with my camera has not been top of mind lately, although I’ve made fairly regular trips to my ‘little wetland’ in the Lower Mission area of Kelowna. It’s always good to catch up with my friend, the Great Blue Heron. Nor have I spent a lot of serious time on my proposed book projects or on my website. And I have not written much on my blog. But with sunny skies,  warmer temperatures and a lightening of the Covid 19 lockdown that all seems to be changing. Motivation might just be returning.

During the lockdown I did take the time to view several photography specific You Tube presentations. In doing so I was reminded that early on, when I first started with digital photograph I committed to an annual in-service  program  tailored to 3 specific areas: composition, ‘seeing’ light and learning the processes of the digital darkroom.

Waiting

A series of workshops conducted by Victoria professional photographer, Dave Hutchison related well to my goals.  His workshops located in the Tofino and Port Renfrew areas of Vancouver Island were excellent. I learned so much from him and hope in the future to get together with him on new learning experiences.

Also on Vancouver Island was a  summer symposium, ‘Image Explorations’, held at a private school in Shawnigan Lake, B.C. This experience was five days of intensive instruction. Except for sleep time it was photography all day every day.

While some of the attendees like me were serious amateurs, most were professionals. Over the four years I had attended Image Explorations I benefited from well known Vancouver photographers Aura McKay, Craig Minielly and Don McGregor as well as others from south of the border. Sadly, Image Explorations has ceased to operate.  I really enjoyed the total immersion experience it provided.

Triple Exposure

Renown U.S. photographer and  educator, Laurie Klein was one of the visiting instructors at Image Explorations.   I hadn’t heard of Laurie before reading her in the course sylabus. The questions posed in her course description were intriguing to say the least. “Do you want to awaken your senses?  Do you want to stretch your creative mind?  Do you want to release your inhibitions in order to go beyond self-imposed boundaries? Do you want to find your visual voice?”  She was obviously putting forth a challenge, which I decided to accept. It would be interesting to examine the intellectual aspects of my art and photography.

Silhouette

Within the course description was the mention of working in some situations with models, some of could be ‘au natural‘. At the time I registered for the course I gave this information little to no attention. But as July approached and the course was immanent I wondered how that was going to work. I hadn’t photographed nude models before! How do you speak to a naked person, especially when you are holding on to camera equipment?

By the time I.E. finally arrived my mind was tied up with so many questions and  ‘what ifs’ that I was becoming distracted from the real purpose of the course. I don’t think I was the only one in our group that inwardly wondered, “What in the world am I doing here?’

Back to nature

That’s where Laurie’s original challenge became so relevant. She kept delving into the thought processes we engaged in to make  our images. What were you thinking? Why did you choose to set up from this angle? What is with this composition? Tell us how your images makes your feel?

It didn’t take long to put our models, both female and male,  in proper context. The subject matter became irrelevant. Composition, light and creativity are what mattered.

In my mind I botched the course. I came to the conclusion that my approach to photography was just too mechanical. Rules needed to be bent, even broken. Understanding why I made my images in a certain way was what I needed to work on.

Sailing

When I learned that Laurie would be returning the following summer I  registered again. I enjoyed the depth to which we  examined our collective work. As a group we worked well together. We were engaged  in the language of art and creativity. I needed to continue.

 

 

Also posted in My Work, The Creative Process

Needles in a Haystack: Hidden Gems

Golf is underway! I haven’t been too active for several years but this year I’m in again, ‘driver, wedge and putter’! That means I’m not out as much with my camera although I’m making frequent visits to the Fascieux Creek Wetland.

Once the social distancing requirements begin to be relaxed I’ll return to a more active ‘shooting’ regime. In the meantime, I’ve devoted my energies towards reviewing my image library. My overall objective is to identify images for my website and for my book about the Fascieux Creek Wetland

Revisiting images that have been buried in the depths of my library has been a very rewarding experience. Sports events especially those involving our grandchildren are prominent to my library as are images of  National Pickleball tournaments, the recent 55+ Summer Games and Kelowna’s Annual Apple Triathlon. Mostly though, my images reflect my interest in the places we have traveled to, the natural world and in my desire to practice and improve my image making. 

At about 80,000 images, my library is small compared to some. All the images I’ve made can be found there whether good, bad or just so so. Typically, I don’t delete images. I keep them all.  It’s interesting to see how my photography has changed or even improved over time. My current review reveals  that my proficiency with the image development software that I use has increased.  Now, some images that I once had no interest  in are being revealed as  hidden gems.

Six different cameras, all Nikons, were used to make my images.  All were good cameras that served my needs very well. In reality the brand makes no difference. In my film days I used other brands and was happy with their performance as well. Reconfirmed in my mind  is the fact that the camera is just a tool  to make the photograph. Regardless of the camera’s technological capabilities it’s the vision of the photographer that is the most important factor in the making of an image. This is clearly evident as I look back.

All of the images I’ve included with this article were mired deep within my library. Why I didn’t see their potential when I first made them is hard to say. It might have been a case of not knowing my software well enough or perhaps I was distracted by other images that at the time seemed to jump off my computer screen, not needing much help from my software. So, the hunt for other elusive needles in the haystack will continue. As I have been doing this last few months, these will be posted on Instagram and on Facebook as I find them. 

Also posted in My Work, The Creative Process

Creativity: vs Commerce

What unusual times we are experiencing! Uncertainty and fear are such prevalent feelings. Other than the polio epidemic that ended in 1955 with the introduction of the Salk vaccine nothing in my lifetime really compares.

Social isolation that now governs our lives leaves us with much time to attack the forever full ‘to-do’ list, to read, to work on projects and of course to think about new projects and ideas. I’ve read lots, ‘who-dun-its’ for the most part. And I’ve lost a bunch of weight. No booze or restaurant food and excellent home cooked meals have paid off.

Broken wagon wheel on Cotter’s Ranch near Quesnel, B.C.

The two projects I have underway are  progressing slowly but well. So far the design aspect to my website revision is almost complete. I’ve identified the images that will appear in my first book. It will be about the critters in the Fascieux Creek Wetland. In the background, ideas for my blog are always percolating.

This article arose from my  desire to include online sales through my  website. Logistically speaking, it should relatively easy to do. But previous experiences with commerce and my photography actually  led me to give up on photography for awhile. “Is this what I really want to do?”

Barrel Racer at the William’s Lake Stampede

Like many photographers there are two chapters to my involvement with photography, film and digital. The chapter  about film began at  a very early age. Over time the creative possibilities of black and white photography captured my imagination.  I even had the opportunity to exhibit  my prints in a few art shows. Then the idea of earning money through my photography crept in and  became a serious consideration. Sadly, this motivation took me away from the creative aspect of photography. In the end, I lost my desire to make photographs just for the fun of it. I sold all my gear!

The growth of digital image making in the intervening years led  me back back to photography. There was no need for darkroom equipment, chemicals and all the other necessary paraphernalia related to film photography. Results were immediate.

Bronco rider at the Calgary Stampede

My interests today parallel those of my years with film photography. Family photography was and still is very important to me. Back then I  loved to photography events such as the Williams Lake Stampede, Kelowna’s Snow Fest and  the spring River Race on Mission Creek sponsored by radio station CKIQ. Now, I enjoy photographing events such as Versaiki here in Kelowna and the Northwest Duces Auto Show in Victoria. Most of all, I love to photograph landscapes, wildlife and other subjects that I can artistically represent with my camera.

The images included in this article were made in the mid 1970’s. My photography today reflects similar interests. The image of the old wagon axel was made on my aunt and uncle’s ranch on Dragon Lake near Quesnel, B.C. The first rodeo image was made at the Williams Lake Stampede and the last image was made at the Calgary Stampede. 

Again, I am making photographs for the love of it.  Should an  image sell my hope would be that the purchaser was moved by an inner feeling  created by that image. That’s what is most important to me.

 

Also posted in My Work, The Creative Process

Fascieux Creek: Springtime Rhythm

Spring has arrived at the Fascieux Creek Wetland. Located in the lower Okanagan Mission area of Kelowna, B.C., it is a small urban wetland about 4 acres in size. Fed by a network of creeks and ditches it ultimately drains into Okanagan Lake.

For the last 4 years I have spent many hours photographing its critters and studying its rhythm. I’ve found that learning the rhythm of this little wetland allows me to be more productive with my photography.

On first impression one would think that this small natural area is just a tangle of trees, brush and bulrushes. In reality it’s a natural ecosystem, teeming with life, within the bounds of an urban setting.

Over the winter, not much happens here that is obvious. Yes, there are tracks that indicate the presence of critters. But for the most part they are hunkered  down in their dens and nests. The Great Blue Heron is a regular visitor throughout the year and the beaver generally can be seen year round but not so much in the winter.

The wetland is slowly starting to wake up  after a long winter. Reeds and bulrushes are starting to push through the heavy mat of last year’s crop that was pushed down by the blanket of snow.  Mallard ducks are year round residents. Usually, they move about in flotillas. Now they are pairing up and going through their annual mating rituals. Sometime in late April the first ducklings will appear.  Red Winged Blackbirds are already in full throated song and Robins are in their annual nest building mode. Muskrats are out and about, silently cruising the narrow channels of the wetland.

I have yet to see the resident  Great Blue Heron. Usually, he sticks to a very predictable schedule. Once I do see him I’ll know when to come to the wetland to photograph him. The beaver’s presence is obvious but it is a nocturnal animal. In order to photograph him I’ll have to be up early or stay late in the evening. However, my favourite time of the year at the Fascieux Creek Wetland  is when the ducklings emerge. 

The images I’ve included below were made over the last 4 years. They are some of my favourites and may be included in a book I am considering. Seasonally, they span a timeframe from late Winter to mid Spring. It’s a time when the Fascieux Creek Wetland is alive with new life and energy. It is such a special time.

Also posted in My Work, The Creative Process

Gearhead: Need for the latest or just an upgrade

As I understand it, a  Gearhead is one who must have the newest, latest, greatest piece of gear. The term could apply to golfers, fishermen and of course, to photographers.

So, recently when I first considered the idea of a new camera I wondered if the name Gearhead applied to me. After all, I already own 2 Nikon digital cameras and a Canon film camera.

The Canon sits on my book shelf as a reminder of a time  long past. The other two, a Nikon D700 was introduced 12 years ago and a 4 year old Nikon D7200, are both in regular use. Old technology in some respects but they are still capable of making excellent images.

I bought the D700 because it has a full frame sensor. I am its 2nd owner. Of all the cameras I have owned the D7200 is my favourite. I especially like its ergonomics, light weight and it’s WiFi capabilities.

The camera I’ve been researching, a Nikon D750, combines the full frame sensor of the D700 with all the features I like on the D7200. Additionally, it has a back screen that flips out. This is the feature I’ve been looking for.

At my stage of life gravity has a negative effect on how I can contort myself to get in the best position to make an image. Getting down low when my camera needs to be set up close to the ground can be a bit awkward. However, breaking the bonds of gravity to get back up is quite the act. This camera provides a solution. The flip out back screen allows me to compose images by looking down at the screen. No need for me to get as low as the camera.

Equally important,  for the photography I like to do, I really only need one camera and one set of accompanying lenses.

As I write this post I’ve been shooting with the D750. Yes! I bought it! After researching prices at a variety of vendors across Canada I found that I could purchase this camera in Victoria. Saved a bundle!  Now I have 2 cameras to sell as well as a couple of lenses.

Even though it was windy and wet in Victoria last Thursday I headed to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ogden Point to give my new camera a spin. Then, on Friday we made our way up Vancouver Island to Qualicum Beach. We stopped at the Nanaimo harbour, Rathtrevor Beach and the French Creek government wharf so I could make some additional images. 

On Saturday I walked Qualicum’s long beautiful beach. I believe it is in excess of 3 km long. Massing along the beach were seagulls, thousands of them, likely searching for herring or herring eggs from this year’s run. I’ve never seen so many birds in one place. I was reminded of Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds. They remained on the beach and in the shallows most of the day. By dusk they were gone only to return on Sunday morning. This was definitely a highlight and a good opportunity to create some interesting images.

We had hoped to stay longer on Vancouver Island but decided to head for home on Monday morning. Given the urgency of the Coronavirus situation we felt we would be more comfortable at home where we are far more familiar with our surroundings. It will be a good opportunity to work on the several hundred images I made with my new camera.

Also posted in My Work, Travel

Facebook, Instagram, a Blog: What’s the Point?

Europe was great!  So many pictures and wishes that I had made more. Mexico on the other hand didn’t happen. Disappointing for sure but there has been a silver lining. ‘Time found’.  It’s time that I’ve devoted to my on going photography projects at home.

At this time of year I look for inclement weather conditions to provide atmosphere and mood for the landscapes I want to create. The images I’ve included below were made under such condition in the Kelowna area, near Victoria and in Michigan. Some of those made in Kelowna were made a year ago in conditions that were extreme with temperatures reaching -19 degrees Celsius.

For the most part this year the conditions here in Kelowna have been calm and not very dramatic.  So my time  has been devoted to reviewing my image library, examining my presence on social media, planning for revisions to my blog and trying to answer these questions: Why am I doing this? What’s the point?  Is it time well spent?

Of the few social media platforms I’ve joined Google+ was my favourite. It rendered images so well and its defined photography communities were awesome. I loved participating in the Landscapes and Black and White communities. Sadly, Google decided to scrap its social media platform.

Initially, I thought Facebook would be an effective  avenue to show off my photography and communicate with other photographers and  friends. I dove right in!

I enjoyed posting my photographs and  interacting with friends on Facebook. In time though, I learned that there was a downside. Some of my friends were hacked which meant that I had to constantly be on guard to prevent the same thing happening to me. And then I became concerned about Facebook’s volume of mindless clutter and advertising that buried the content that I wanted to share. A solution though emerged. 

Until recently, Instagram has been on the back burner. I couldn’t determine how to include it into my workflow. This platform seems to be ideal for posting photographs. All posted content is readily available on the ‘home’ page. This was a game  once I figured out that Instagram could easily be connected with Facebook.The combination of Instagram and Facebook has given my the social media vehicle I’ve been searching for to properly share my images.

Geezer with a Camera, my blog, has been active since June of 2013. I’ve published close to 200 articles. Based on a WordPress platform I just love the way it renders photography. Images are so clear and sharp. And I love to write.  I’ve made countless modifications  to give my blog and website their current look. But to me they look a bit tired and in need of refreshing. New content and a new look is badly needed. So, in the next week or so my website will go ‘under construction’ while I tend to that work. Once that is done I will tackle my blog. 

I’m not sure how long the reconstruction process will take. Hopefully not long. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what I can create.

Also posted in My Work, The Creative Process

Cruising in Europe: After Thoughts

As the crow flies the distance from Budapest to Amsterdam is just over 1200 kilometers. The winding route of our river cruise from Budapest along the Danube River to the Main River and then on to the Rhine River would be well in excess of that distance. It gave us an interesting view of European culture.

At every turn history was on display. Centuries old  castles and their surrounding walls and narrow cobblestone streets all exuded a permanence that is difficult to compare with anything we’ve experienced here  in North America. Homes and businesses occupied buildings that in some cases were built 500 years ago.

Three memorials  particularly caught our attention. The Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial in Budapest, The  Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam and the ‘Stumble Stones’ Memorial Plaques in a number of cities, all commemorate  Jewish persecution during the WWII in Europe. The memorials were riveting, poignant and thought provoking to say the least. Rather than write about  each I’ve linked them to websites where descriptions are more complete. And within the gallery of some of my favourites below I’ve included an image of Anne Frank, one of the memorial shoes and another of three Stumble Stones. 

We had never experienced the European culture. The food, art, architecture and life in general is so interesting. The landscape was just plain beautiful.  In all of our walks, tours and interactions we found the local residents to be friendly and very helpful. Now that we have an understanding of how to get around and what we would like to see more of,  I’m sure another European adventure will be planned for the not so distant future.

 

Also posted in My Work, Travel