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Father’s Day…..some thoughts

Dad was a hard man. Stubborn, tough…at times, hard to like let alone love. I can find a few bumps to show where we often butted heads. But considering his era – World War I, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II – he turned out pretty well. In reality he turned his grade 8 education into a pretty successful life.

Looking back I wonder what he passed on to my sisters and me. Certainly, in me there is a stubborn streak. Some won’t believe that I put that thought in print. (….fingers crossed behind my back.)

On another plain though, there are the values…. values of family, honesty, hard work and friendship. I see those same values in our sons and their families. And in my sisters and their families. He would be very proud.

In later life his love for music emerged when he joined the Arion Male Choir in Victoria, B.C. Singing became his real passion as photography has become mine. I know for sure that he didn’t pass his singing ability on to me. Even when Parkinson’s disease took hold of his body he still managed to take his place with his beloved choir.

As evidenced by the boxes of slides and black and whites in our basement he also loved photography. His camera traveled everywhere with him. I loved it when night fell. The window blinds were drawn, the doors were shut and the kitchen was turned into a darkroom. It was there that the magic of photography came to life for me. It was such a special time.

Now, watching our grandchildren grow, learn and develop I marvel at their world. Digital everything! Their interests and values are emerging. These are what will carry them through their lives as they have done for me.

Many years have passed since my dad left us. Age has given me a different perspective of his life and on fatherhood. There are no lessons, only experiences, values, hard work, honesty and integrity.

Ellen, our family and  friends who have come into my life are what is most important. I still have many challenges left on my bucket list. Photography is at the root of most of them. Thanks to my dad’s vision and his desire for us to have a better education than he had and the more than several head bumps that occurred between us I have a good chance of clearing some of those challenges from my list.

Spirituality with Colour: Vaisakhi

Recently, I attended Vaisakhi celebrations here in Kelowna. My awareness of Vaisakhi was limited to news broadcasts of similar events in Vancouver and Surrey where the turnout is reported to be in excess of 500,000.  I decided that it was time to learn more about what appeared to be a very important community event.   

 Vaisakhi has its roots in Hinduism and Sikhism. It is a historical and religious festival with distinct significance for each culture.  Vaisakhi marks the birth of the Sikh faith and is celebrated at Kelowna’s Sikh Temple. 

 Rain was threatening when I arrived at the temple but thankfully held off.  Traditional dress prevailed, men with their turbans, mostly orange, women garbed in their colorful, traditional gowns.  The area in front of the temple was jammed in readiness for a parade through the community. Music, revving motorcycles, loud chatter and even the bagpipes from the local Scottish marching band made for a rather chaotic scene. 

 But this day was much more than preparations for a parade. It was about sharing food and a meal with friends and neighbours. It was about happiness and strength garnered from an extended, productive family unit. And it was about celebrating the traditions and faith of a centuries old religion.  I hope the gallery of images I’ve included below captures the incredible feeling and excitement that permeated this celebration.  

 So, for 3 hours I joined the crowd. While I made lots of images I spent much time people watching and chatting. Clearly, there was respect of all members of the community regardless of age. I discovered also, that the ethnic food that was free for the asking was delicious. All and all it was a wonderful afternoon. 

 

Victoria: Reminiscing

“What is it that keeps drawing me to the ocean and forested areas around Victoria?”  

Since arriving  in Victoria almost three weeks ago I think I have been in the forest at Mount Douglas Park or along the waterfront with my camera every day.  It’s  where I spent a good deal of my childhood.  I know this area well. 

Back then, some 60 years ago, my instructions were clear. “Chores first!  Be home by supper time!” No negotiations.  

So, with the vacuuming, dishes or the lawn done, I was on my bike and gone before someone thought of something else that needed to be done. If I wasn’t at the ball field at Beacon Hill Park with my friends we were on and about the cliffs and beaches along Dallas Road.  

What fun we had and how times have changed. Much older now I value the childhood I had then. I wonder whether kids today have the same sense of uncontrolled freedom.  

Much has changed yet so much has not. The breakwater at Ogden Point protects a deep-sea port that in the 50’s and 60’s was the transit point for overseas shipments of Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar.   

Today, it shelters a modern, busy cruise ship terminal while walkers use its picturesque length for their daily exercise. But the beaches, islands, cliffs and headlands have changed little. Most of the homes, many dating back to the early 20th century, remain.  

These treasures of architecture and the surrounding natural vistas are the subjects of many of my images. I reminisce, but now I have a far greater appreciation for their significance and beauty. That knowledge acquired so many years ago allows me to search out the best locations for my photography today. 

Gulls soar on the wind as waves crash at Cattle Point

Rain and wind prevailed today and the light so different.  I had to be out with my camera.   I thought Cattle Point would be a good location for rainy, windy photography.

Travel Well: Pack Light

By the time Ellen and I return to Kelowna following our almost 6 week trip to Australia and New Zealand we will have taken 8 separate flights. Packing personal affects and clothing for that period of time while remaining within airline weight restrictions has been a challenge. 

Camera and computer equipment was a huge consideration. It’s heavy and valuable. ‘Essentials only’ would be the major criteria.   

In addition to my camera and an 18mm to 140mm ‘walk about’ lens, camera batteries, a charger and a power adapter to the Australian 240 volt domestic power outlets were absolute ‘musts’. What else could I reasonably pack? 

While there was little room for anything else in my carry on, , I decided to include a 70 to 300 mm lens and a 12 to 24mm lens in my ‘checked’ luggage. Normally, I refrain from doing this. I don’t like to put my equipment where harm to it or loss of it, might occur. So I wrapped each securely and stowed them tightly with my shoes. I’m glad I brought them. They have given me some wonderful creative options.  

Again, thinking of weight restrictions I decided not to include my laptop and external hard drive. Instead, I planned to take advantage of the wifi function of my camera to connect and then copy images to my iPhone or iPad. There, with Snapseed and Markstra, I’ve been able to develop and mark them with my copyright symbol before posting them to Facebook. I decided also to include an external keyboard so that I could more easily write and post articles to my blog.  

It has been 7 years since our last visit to Australia and New Zealand. We enjoy this part of the world so much. Everyone, most especially our friends, has been so welcoming. I hope that the images I make while here capture the beauty of the landscape and the spirit of the people. Perhaps a few will have some artistic merit. 

Old ship ways are an indication of Australia’s long association with the the sea.

Remembering: It’s the Day

This morning I fixed a coffee, turned on the fireplace and I sat down to write a blog article. I wanted to write about the month I had just spent in Victoria. I kept my camera busy during that time and had many thoughts to organize.

But I was sidetracked by Remembrance Day stories coming from the TV about our war veterans. I decided to go for a walk to rethink my article.

Every year I am struck by the stories of our veteran and their families. Many did not come home. Those that did were affected in so many ways. Families were left to pick up the pieces and remember.

Two of my uncles experienced active duty. Bill an infantryman was gassed in WWI. George sailed on HMCS Fennel, a convoy support ship in the North Atlantic during WWII. Their experiences I’m sure were horrendous. Yet I never heard them speak about them. They carried on with life each living to a ripe old age.

I knew little of Bill’s life before he married my aunt. A linotype operator with Victoria’a Colonist newspaper he just loved to be with family. But I came to know George fairly well. He was born in northern Saskatchewan at Cumberland House, a Hudson’s Bay trading post. An experienced woodsman, he knew the ways of the woods. He put this knowledge to great use as a wildlife cinematographer and built a successful film business called Cotter’s Wildlife Productions.

As I think of my uncles and the countless others who have experienced the horrors of war I celebrate their contributions to the building of the civil society we have here in Canada. We are so lucky.

The month I spent in Victoria resulted in many interesting photographs. Some I have shared on Facebook. A few of those will appear on my website in the near future. I had such a good time being out and about with my camera. But the fact remains that without the sacrifices of our soldiers, veterans and their families our collective story could be quite different.

I captured the following images on Anzac Day, April 25, 2009 in Caloundra, Queensland, Australia. It is an important annual event and represents the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during WWI. Our stories are so similar to theirs.

Anzac Day veterans march

Anzac Day veterans march

 

 

Children recognize the sacrifice of Anzac Day veterans

Children recognize the sacrifice of Anzac Day veterans

Victoria Project

The Empress Hotel is a historic backdrop to the inner harbour in Victoria, B.C.

The Empress Hotel is a historic backdrop to the inner harbour in Victoria, B.C.

Special events are fertile ground for me to capture interesting images. I don’t have a particular specialty. I photograph whatever interests me. I love to photograph community events. The Williams Lake Stampede, the Kelowna Apple Triathlon and the Vernon Winter Carnival are events that have been fun to photograph. I love the images that I have come away with.

I also like to define projects to help me focus my creative energy. These are usually created around places or areas that my wife and I love to visit. Two are ongoing.

My Pacific West Coast Project encompasses a huge geographic area – the west coast of Canada and the United States. Our travels have taken us to a variety of places along the West Coast. Pacific Rim National Park, Georgia and Juan de Fuca Straits, the Oregon Coast and the Big Sur in Northern California to name a few. Wherever we visit along the coast I try to capture images that illustrate the landscape, seascape, flora and fauna of the area. I’m always looking forward to my next visit to the coast.

Trips to Arizona and South Eastern California are the basis of my other project, The Desert South West. Here, the landscape of rocky bluffs and cactus are the subject matter for this project. As well, the dilapidated, abandoned buildings, rusty hulks of old vehicles and historic mining towns of the desert are favorite places for me to visit. And in the spring the wonderful bloom of wild flowers on the desert is captivating.

Born in the Okanagan Valley and having lived in several British Columbia communities I call Victoria, B.C my hometown. I grew up there. On the south end of Vancouver Island it is a fascinating place to visit. A vibrant harbour, historic buildings, beautiful seascapes and world re-known gardens are all sources for my images. I decided to define my work here in the Victoria Project. My objective with this project is to record my view of Victoria. I can hardly wait for my next visit.

The Salmon Are Running

 

Slowly salmon make their way past rapids and areas of fast moving water

Slowly salmon make their way past rapids and areas of fast moving water

“The salmon are coming! The salmon are coming!” Up and down the Pacific Coast the call has been sounded for what may be a record run of salmon. Annually, salmon make a pilgrimage up west coast rivers and tributaries to the location where their lives began and where they will spawn and die. It is a four-year life cycle that has captivated the imagination of those who have lived along the west coast for centuries. Records show that in the pre-European settlement era salmon were extremely plentiful and were the life-blood of the indigenous peoples that inhabited the land. Settlement brought exploitation of the riches of the land including the salmon. Over the decades salmon populations have been decimated by over fishing, polluted waters and disease.

Four years ago, unexpectedly, a record salmon run occurred. This year the offspring of that run are returning to end their life cycle and start one anew. The run this year could prove to be another record setter. Perhaps the conservation measures that have been established are beginning to pay off. Hopefully, salmon runs in the years between these large runs will start to increase.   The Adam’s River Sockeye Salmon run in late September is likely the most famous run of salmon. It occurs in the Adam’s River a tributary of the Thompson/Fraser river systems. Easy access to the river has allowed thousands of visitors to witness this spectacle.

Sockeye Salmon rest in quiet water before rejoining the journey up the creek.

Sockeye Salmon rest in quiet water before rejoining the journey up the creek.

An earlier run, the Scotch Creek Salmon run, is also a spectacular event. It occurs in early to mid September. Four years ago Scotch Creek ran red with the returning salmon. Subsequent years have not been nearly as prolific. But this year’s run should be very heavy again.

The Scotch Creek Salmon run is not so well known. It doesn’t attract the same level of interest that the Adam’s River run does. For this reason I like to find my way to Scotch Creek and photograph the returning salmon. Most important though is the fact that Scotch Creek is more accessible. I’m able to get down into the creek bed and photograph the salmon as they slowly make their way up the fast moving stream.The returning salmon will often rest in pool or slack water to gather their strength. It’s easy to wander from pool to pool and capture images ans the

Four year life-cycle comes to an end

Four year life-cycle comes to an end

salmon slowly move about. But I prefer to set my camera on a tripod. With a remote trigger and the camera set to a slow shutter speed I can make images that show the motion of the creek. The effect is dramatic.

So, in next week I’ll drive up to Scotch Creek to photograph the returning Sockeye Salmon. Perhaps, a Balk Eagle or even a black bear will be there feeding of the salmon. Now that would make for some interesting images.