Category Archives: The Creative Process

Finally, A Road Trip: The Island

We recently returned from a two week road trip to Vancouver Island. After months of lockdown, Covid warnings, masks on, masks off and generally feeling a bit out of sorts a trip was a welcome change. Any trip would have sufficed but ‘The Island’ is always  a favoured destination.

We split our stay on the Island between vacation rentals in Sidney and up island in Nanoose. Our car was packed with golf clubs, e-bikes, Ellen’s pickleball gear and of course my camera bag. As always, catching up with friends and relatives on the Island was a priority.  Unfortunately, weather and trail closures interfered with some of our planned outdoor activities. That was not the case with my photography.

Regardless of the weather, I visited most of my usual haunts in Victoria including the Oak Bay Marina, Fishermans’ Wharf, the Inner Harbour, old James Bay and the Breakwater District. Wet, windy conditions in Victoria added an element of drama to images that otherwise would have been similar to those I’ve previously made. This time I dressed for the weather and didn’t come down with a cold, an added bonus.

Our second week was spent at the Pacific Shores Resort in Nanoose. It is located at the mouth of the Craig Creek Estuary, a beautiful, undisturbed  west coast ecosystem. It was new to me and a complete surprise. I was out making images every day in this natural paradise

The Craig Creek Estuary is a protected natural environment. This wetland is one of just a few that  can be found on our west coast. They are habitats for thousands of birds and animals. Much larger than the Fascieux Creek Wetland that I love to visit in Kelowna, Craig Creek is small in relation to its surroundings. It is bounded on 3 sides by condo and residential developments and a major road. Fortunately, the ocean borders the remaining side.

I arose well before the sun on most mornings. As dark turned softly to light I watched as the tide reached its full height, became slack and then turned again to empty. Two full tide cycles occurred each day. And with the emergence of early morning light and at the end of the day, twilight, the photographic opportunities were amazing.

At the mouth of the estuary I loved the rock formations and boulders that emerged as the tide receded and later disappeared as it flowed back in. Deep in the estuary I found a fish trap that undoubtedly had been built by early first nation hunters and gatherers. Salmon in abundance were obviously caught here by the  first nation inhabitants. Berries, shellfish, birds, and mammals were also in great supply. 

I look forward to a return visit to the Craig Creek Estuary. I have learned  how to navigate the paths and routes to get to the most interesting areas.   It is such a wonderful area to explore and photograph. 

Also posted in My Work, Travel

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 Education, 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 Education, My Work

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 Education, My Work

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 Education, My Work

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 Education, My Work

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 Education, My Work

The Colour of Fall: Brilliant

My motivation to be out and about with my camera this last few weeks was to capture the colour of the leaves before they fell to the ground. While there is a wonderful range of colours in the total landscape including orchards and gardens my focus was on the natural landscape.

Ponderosa pine is the predominant species of trees in the Okanagan area. Douglas fir, Engleman spruce and other conifers are also present depending on elevation, soil and moisture conditions . Deciduous trees including alder, birch, aspens, cotton wood and maples provide the colour. They tend to be located where there is greater access to moisture. So, I sought out hillside depressions and local area creeks.

The closest and most popular waterway is Mission Creek, a major tributary to Okanagan Lake. It’s a beautiful area with a very popular walking trail. I find the upper reaches of Mission Creek to be more desirable as it is not as busy and has more interesting compositional opportunities.

Powers Creek runs through Glen Canyon

I also made trips to the ranchland above Lake Country, B.C., Kalimoir Park and the Regional Parks around Mill Creek, Bertram Creek and Glen Canyon. All of these locations provided me with great opportunities and I think some pretty good results.

On all the trips to these locations I was blessed with bright, sometimes filtered sun. The lower angle of the sun served to brighten the orange and yellow leaves.

Fast rushing waters of Powers Creek in Glen Canyon

The images I’ve included with this article were made in the Glen Canyon Regional Park along Powers Creek. I loved how the colour of the leaves enhances the surrounding textures.

I hadn’t been to this part of Powers Creek before. The canyon itself is very narrow. Somewhere in the upper reaches of the canyon there is likely a water fall. I’ll have to check that out on a future trip to this area.

Fall colours surround Powers Creek as it emerges from Glen Canyon

Sometimes, I think I’ve been spoiled by all the photography I’ve been able to do on Vancouver Island this past 4 or 5 years. At home, I’ve caught myself thinking, “There’s nothing to photograph around here!” That of course is a myth. There are many photographic opportunities in the Kelowna area and in the Okanagan Valley. It’s just a matter of getting ‘you know what’ in gear and getting out there with my camera.

Also posted in My Work

Fascieux Creek: An Urban Wetland

One would assume, based on  the images I have included below that the the Fascieux Creek Wetland is located in a rural area far from urban development. Its not! It is located in the Okanagan Mission area of Kelowna. Bounded on opposing  sides by two major city streets and on its other two side by townhouses and apartment buildings it’s an urban wetland.

When I was setting up for this image I didn’t realize that the water was frozen until this group of ducks came shuffling into my view finder. 

This little wetland has an area of about three and a half acres and is a popular walking area for local residents. It  is fed by a network of streams, some now encased in culverts, that ultimately empty into Okanagan Lake. 

From my home to the Fascieux Creek Wetland is about a 15 minute drive. I had no idea that it existed until a friend mentioned it to me several years ago. Since then, I have made countless trips to capture literally thousands of  images of the critters and plant life that reside there.

Red wing black birds, hawks and a variety of ducks are just some of the birds that frequent Fascieux Creek. But the most impressive and my favourite is the Great Blue Heron. I’ve photographed the resident Great Blue many times. Grudgingly it seems, he has allowed me into his space to let me make some very interesting photographs. 

Also present in this wetland are muskrats, beaver, raccoons, rats, weasels and turtles.  I’ve even found a nest of garter snakes.  The most important resident is the beaver. I think he falls into the category of a keystone species. Without the beaver the water level would not be consistent. This allows all the other species to thrive.

The beaver is also an engineer, always constructing dams. City workers show up every now and then to remove the dams only to have them rebuild somewhere else in the wetland. It is an interesting dynamic which the beaver always seems to win.  

Within the Fascieux Creek Wetland are areas of quiet water, beautiful refections, tangled bush and fallen, dead trees.

Initially, there was lots of  open water in the wetland. Photographic opportunities were available in all seasons of the year. Now, as a consequence of the beaver’s engineering  and the resulting the higher water level there is a proliferation of reeds and bull rushes that have clogged up most of the open areas of water.

Some of the branches on this tree are dead. Most of the leaves from the other branches are on the ground,

The best times to make photographs in the wetland now are in late fall, winter when the reeds are pushed down by snow and in the spring before the reeds start to grow. I’ve learned where and when to find many of the wetland’s species. Those that are nocturnal are more difficult to observe but I have spotted their tracks in the wintertime snow.

There are other small urban wetlands in the Kelowna area that I am starting to pay attention to so I don’t spend as much time as I used to at the Fascieux Creek Wetland. It, however, is still my ‘go to’ place to find interesting images when I just need to get out with my camera for an hour or so.

 

Also posted in My Work

Random Thoughts: Artwalk

It never ceases to amaze me! Support from the general public for Lake Country’s ArtWalk continues to be unbelievable. Hundreds of visitors course through the Community Complex to view art from so many different disciplines. Held annually on the 2nd weekend in September it is the largest and perhaps most prestigious event of its kind in the interior of British Columbia.

This was the 9th year that I have had my work on display at Artwalk. For me, it is a real honour to be included with so many other fine artists. Not only is it interesting to interact with the many visitors that will pass by my work but is so much fun to greet the many friends and acquaintances who take the time to come out and visit.

People watching is all part of being at Artwalk. Locating myself close to where my work is hung I can easily eavesdrop on conversations and observe reactions when people view my or other artists work. Sometimes I insert myself into a conversation to clear up a misconception or to answer a question that may have been expressed aloud.

Sometimes questions are direct. “Is that picture photoshopped?” Or “What kind of camera do you use? It must be expensive.” And sometimes, the comments are just plain hilarious.One comes to mind.

Two ladies, elderly as I recall were having a conversation about my Great Blue Heron. Their conversation concluded when one of the ladies realized that I was nearby and exclaimed, “This painting is better than a Robert Bateman!” And then she capped this off with, “You made it look just like a photograph.” All of us who heard this conversation just about collapsed as we tried to stifle our laughter.

Neither of my two ‘Artwalk’ images found new homes. But,  I had a great time interacting with visitors and learning a few things from my fellow artists. To me, that is a

the most important outcome from the Artwalk experience.

 

There is one image that I had hoped would have been juried into Artwalk this year and another that I should have submitted for consideration. Both were made in the Avitar Grove near Port Renfrew. They depict the west coast rain forest. I did submit Regeneration, an image of the second growth forest showing nature’s regenerative powers after the area was heavily logged in the early to mid 20th century. I just loved the brilliance of the varying shades of green in the forest that day. 

Ancient Oldgrowth is an image that I should have submitted to the jury panel. It shows the juxtaposition of an ancient old growth red cedar amidst young, tender deciduous branches and leaves. The ‘old ancient’  had been there for hundreds of years, the ‘young tenders,’ just a few.  In my mind, both of these images show the past and present beauty of the westcoast rainforest. 

 

Also posted in Education, My Work