Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Click the Light Fantastic!

 Blog Post - 13 October 2020

Click the Light Fantastic

"Without light, photography would not exist."

- Ken Liddon, President,

Prince Edward County Photography Club

Today's blog post is a celebration of light and photography. The starting point is October's activity challenge for the members of the Prince Edward Photography Club: to explore a variety of lighting techniques in our photography.  Every member gets to submit six photographs from this exploration, each image illustrating a different approach to light. Fearless Leader Ken Liddon then assembles all the submitted photos into a culminating slideshow. As with so many of the Club's themes and challenges, this activity served as an excellent prod for me to get off my duff and engage the world with my camera. 

The following six light-filled photographs are the images I submitted, plus a bonus seventh image. I hope you enjoy looking at them and reading my accompanying notes.

Thank you for reading my blog. Although I have not yet returned to creating weekly blog posts, I have been enjoying posting irregularly.


Light Fantastic Photo #1:
Backlighted photograph of a glass sculpture by Prince Edward County glass artist Kirei Samuel, Lalaland Glass Studio.
Photographed 3 October 2020


Light Fantastic Photo #2:
Golden Hour image at sunset  
on the Jasper Avenue Pond, Picton.
Photographed 3 October 2020


Light Fantastic Photo #3:
Low light photo of Kate's ceramic ptarmigan.
Photographed 11 October 2020


Light Fantastic Photo #4:
Blue Hour image of a glass ball created by Prince Edward County glass artist Mark Armstrong. (Armstrong Glass Works)
Actually, it's not really a Blue Hour photograph. Blue Hour photography usually is done just before dawn or just after sunset. Here, I cheated by contrasting Mark's piece against a brilliant October daytime sky.
Photographed 3 October 2020


Light Fantastic Photo #5:
An image radiating inner light - not really a photographic technique, but one that inspires me. Featured is a piece of fabric art created by Prince Edward County fibre artist Lesley Snyder. 
(Rosehaven Yarn Shop)
Photographed 11 October 2020


Light Fantastic Photo #6:
A photo using available indoor light without flash. It shows the beer dispensing taps at Slake Brewing, Prince Edward County's 
newest brewery. (Excellent beer, by the way.)
Photographed 2 October 2020



Bonus Photo - Light Fantastic
A composite photo combining a barn wall near South Bay, Prince Edward County, and a Thanksgiving dinner candle.
Both images photographed 11 October 2020















 



Monday, 5 October 2020

Harvest Photos - 5 October 2020

Dear Photography Friends -

Belonging to the Prince Edward County Photography Club is an important part of my 'photo life'. Each month, there are various themes and challenges to stimulate and challenge my camera, my technical skills, and my eye. 

One of the September themes was "Harvest Time." Below are the five images I submitted, most of them featuring vegetables from Aaron Armstrong's Blue Wheelbarrow Farm near Bloomfield. (link) Throughout the summer, Bill and I have been participating in Aaron's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme, whereby each week we've been receiving a crate of gorgeous fresh vegetables.

You can check out the YouTube slideshow that features all the harvest photos submitted by Prince Edward County Photography Club members here. If these photos don't put you in the mood for Thanksgiving, I don't know what will!

Enjoy the yummy photos!







Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Angry-Looking Cat on Bowery Street

Blog Post - 30 September 2020 

Until I get my creative moxy back, I've decided to change my approach to the "Making Eye Statements" blog. Instead of a weekly post that features photos and commentary, I'll be occasionally posting intriguing single photos that I've made during daily walks, often accompanied by Edna, our Bassett Hound. 


Todays photo: an angry-looking cat on Bowery Street, Picton. Photographed 24 September, 2020.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Blog Post #189 - 20 September, 2020 - "Welcome Home"

Home. Again.

 

On Tuesday, September 8, Bill and I fulfilled our dream of moving back to The County – coming home for both of us. (That’s Prince Edward County for those unfamiliar with Ontario’s geography.) Every part of the day worked as planned: legally, financially, and logistically. Bless all those people who made the move possible. 

 

On Monday, September 7, we slept the last night in our Belleville home, which we had owned for almost seven years. By 9am the next day, it was no longer ours, having been purchased by an energetic young couple with all kinds of dreams for it. I loved that house, and it served us well...and it remains in good hands. 

 

I will miss our Belleville neighbourhood and our Belleville neighbours.

 

On the night of September 8, we slept the first night in our new Picton home. And it is a delight – sleek, elegant, and well designed. Kudos to the Port Picton Homes people who created it for us. And bless Bill for all he did to make our living space so welcoming.

 

The boxes are mostly unpacked. Most of the main floor is complete, with the inevitable small details to be fixed/adjusted/worked around. My office space, where I am writing this post, is spacious and airy. I am a spoiled camper. 

 

The basement is also taking shape. Bill’s quilting studio is a work in progress, with the emphasis on ‘progress’. It promises to be a nurturing, well configured space. I can’t wait to see what magic Bill creates there. The basement also features a laundry room with Bill’s triple sink for fabric dyeing, a two-piece washroom, a furnace room for storage and mechanicals, and – wait for it – a space for my new model railway. Woohoo! Did I mention that I was totally spoiled?

 

The animals have settled in, each in their own way. Otis, the long-haired miniature dachshund, has been through house moves before, so adapted quickly. PITA, the cat, took a little longer to get used to the space. She spent much of the first 24 hours hiding amongst the boxes and yowling mournfully. By the second day, she had adjusted, however, fully claiming every square inch of the house as her own. Edna, the Basset Hound, took longer to understand what was going on. Sometimes, she just stood in the hallway, looking mystified and confused. In the days that followed, she gradually got used to her new surroundings.

 

Over the years, I have lived in six houses in Picton, starting with 26 Centre Street when my family left our farm near Wellington and ‘moved to town’ in 1957. The last time I moved out was 1984 – thirty-six years ago – when I went to Toronto to start a thirty-year love affair with both Toronto and my late first husband, Spencer.

 

And now, I’m back home again, this time with my loving second husband, Bill, in my seventh Picton home. I am blessed beyond measure.

 

The photos: 

 

Most of them come from a tour I made last Monday of family graves in The County: my mother and father in Wellington; my maternal grandparents in Bloomfield; my paternal grandparents in Picton; and my niece near West Lake. It was important for me to touch base with these people and tell them I had come home.

 

I hope you enjoy the images.

 

About the blog: I don’t know how often I will post for the next while. It depends on where the wind takes me. 

 

Thank you.



Wellington Cemetery


Sandpiper on Our Local Pond


West Lake Cemetery


Wellington Cemetery


Wellington Cemetery


Wellington Cemetery


Cyclist on Highway 33 near Bowerman's Cemetery


Field Near Bowerman's Cemetery


Chair Detail, Glenwood Cemetery, Picton


Statue Detail, Glenwood Cemetery, Picton


My Prized Fink vase on our mantle -
Designed and created in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Purchased in the Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, Tasmania. 
An Australian design icon.

Larry Tayler Photography

Picton, Ontario

LarryTayler.com

 

 

 

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Blog Post #188 - August 2, 2020: "Conversations About Racism, Part Three - Reconsidering Sir John A. Macdonald"

Blog Post #188 – 2 August 2020

Conversations About Racism, Part Three

Reconsidering Sir John A. Macdonald


 

Note: A YouTube version of this post can be found here.

Viewing time: 15 minutes.

 

It’s time to reconsider my opinion of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

 

I’ve enjoyed studying history for over sixty years. Inspired by gifted teachers, I majored in Canadian history at university. The more I studied history, the more nuanced it became. I once naïvely believed that history was fixed – a universally agreed set of facts, dates, causes, and consequences. Frozen in time, never to be reconsidered, only to be recalled.

 

Then I grew up. 

 

The world was infinitely more complex than that. Disputed understandings of the present lead to disputed understandings of the past. New insights, evidence, and theories constantly arise and challenge established versions of events. I clearly remember the day a world-altering insight registered in my young mind: history depends on who writes it. And those who write it used to be the ‘winners’, predominantly white and male. Of the many revolutions currently roiling the marketplace of ideas, one of the most important has been the opening up of history to alternate perspectives, especially from disenfranchised, oppressed, and previously silenced voices. The cat and the mouse experience the same events very differently. 

 

Which brings me to Canada’s first Prime Minister, John Alexander Macdonald, aka ‘Sir John A’. 

 

Some background for non-Canadian readers: born in Scotland in 1815, Macdonald migrated with his family to Kingston, Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1820. He started practising law in nearby Picton in 1833. His legal career took him back to Kingston and into politics. Ultimately, he became the prime architect of Canadian federation. Tradition calls him ‘The Father of Confederation’. As a result of his leadership, cajoling, and arm-twisting, the Dominion of Canada came into being on July 1, 1867, a date now designated as Canada Day. In the beginning, it comprised three British North American colonies: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada (modern day Québec and Ontario). In subsequent years, Canada expanded to all the land mass north of the USA to the Arctic Ocean, with the exception of Alaska. 

 

Macdonald was Prime Minister twice: from 1867 to 1873; and from 1878 until his death in 1891. He was a towering, controversial figure who inspired both passionate support and deep loathing. He spearheaded the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway to bring British Columbia into the federation, connecting the country with a line of steel in 1885 – but not without scandal, rancour, and violence. 

 

Macdonald helped forge a country that arguably would have been swallowed up by the ravenous United States had he not stubbornly stood his ground. 

 


 

I have always had a fond spot in my heart for Sir John A. He helped found the land of my birth, the land I call home, the land I love. He was a larger-than-life figure who strode this country like a colossus. His personal life was marked by grief and tragedy. He was a notoriously heavy drinker. He was deeply flawed.

 

And, it turns out, he was a racist, even beyond the standards of the late 19th century, when Canada’s predominantly white culture was pervasively and casually racist. 

 

Which takes us to Canada’s infamous Residential Schools for Indigenous children and The Indian Act.

 

The Indian Act was passed by the Canadian Parliament in 1876. Although Macdonald was not Prime Minister when The Indian Act was initially passed, the law was based on The Gradual Civilization Act, passed under Macdonald’s leadership in 1857 – ten years before Confederation – by the legislature of the former Province of Canada. The Indian Act codified the relationship between the Government of Canada and the Indigenous peoples of this country. And The Indian Act is still in effect, although it has been amended over the years. It is a shockingly racist, paternalistic law that has traumatized tens of thousands of Indigenous people. In the early 1880s, when Macdonald was once again Prime Minister, Residential Schools for Indigenous children were established across Canada under the authority of The Indian Act. The goal of the Residential Schools was to strip Indigenous children of their cultures and languages and to force them to become ‘white’. The Indian Act legalized the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and families, followed by relocation to distant Residential Schools. Most were operated by the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations. In the words of Macdonald, “An indigenous child educated where he or she lives is simply a savage who can read or write.” In Residential Schools, Macdonald intended that the kidnapped children “acquire the habits and modes of thoughts of white men.” 

 

The children were forbidden to speak their birth languages and forced to learn French or English. Their cultural practices were banned. And – appallingly – they were subject to massive abuse: sexual, emotional, and physical, often at the hands of priests and nuns. It is estimated that 150,000 Indigenous children were coerced into attending these schools from the 1870s until the last one closed in 1996.

 

1996!

 

The trauma suffered by these children is incalculable. Tragically, the trauma reverberates from one generation to the next. The profundity of the racism inflicted on the bodies, minds, and souls of these children is vast, nauseating, and heartless. And the wretched consequences continue to be felt in every corner of this land. 

 

If you want to learn more about the obscenity of the Residential Schools, a sobering starting point is the 2015 final report (link) of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). The TRC was established in 2008 to document and assess the impact that Residential Schools had – and continue to have – on Indigenous peoples in Canada. The report’s unflinching honesty and rage needs to be required reading for every Canadian citizen. Its ninety-four “Calls to Action” (link) remain, sadly, mostly unfulfilled.

 

The second element of Macdonald’s racist legacy was his attitude towards the Chinese. In 1885, he said in the House of Commons that allowing Chinese people to settle permanently in Canada would mean that “the Aryan character of the future of British America would be destroyed.” He also considered that the 1885 passage of The Electoral Franchise Act, which took the vote away from men of “the Mongolian or Chinese race”, to be his “greatest achievement.”

 

Completing Macdonald’s trifecta of racism, historians have uncovered evidence of his support for the Confederate cause in the American Civil War (1861-1865) and even suggest that these sympathies influenced his choice of the word “Confederation” to describe the new Canadian nation. 

 

Let that one sink in.

 

(See “Reconsidering the Underground Railroad: Slavery and Racialization in the Making of the Canadian State” by retired Queen’s University/University of Toronto professor Abigail Bakan, Journal of the Society of Socialist Studies, Spring 2008, pages 18-19. Link) 

 

So, when I examine John A. Macdonald’s legacy, I see institutionalized, state-sanctioned racism.

 

I often hear people say that we mustn’t judge the past by the standards of the present. I disagree. That’s what the modern study of history is predicated upon: contemporary eyes critically examining the past while discerning guidance for the future. And sometimes these contemporary historians discover that our past leaders behaved very badly indeed, even by the standards of their own day.

 

So the conundrum becomes: how do we recognize the contributions of such figures in our past, while acknowledging the profound damage their policies and actions caused?

 

 

Which brings us to Holding Court, the 2015 statue of Sir John A. Macdonald by the gifted Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy. The statue stands in front of the Picton Public Library and commemorates Macdonald’s first court case in Picton, October 8, 1834, although the details of this case are disputed. 

 

Holding Court is the source of controversy in Prince Edward County: some staunchly defend the statue as a celebration of Picton’s – and Canada’s – heritage, while others want it removed because of Macdonald’s traumatic treatment of Indigenous peoples. Red paint has been thrown on it twice in recent weeks.

 

 

Full disclosure: in 2015 I donated money to The Macdonald Project, the organization that proposed and raised money for the creation of Holding Court. (link) My opinions about Macdonald have evolved since then; were that fund-raising campaign held today, I would not support it.

 

The County of Prince Edward, the municipal government that is the custodian of Holding Court, has established a community consultation process about the statue’s future. Representatives of the nearby Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte are part of this process. I will follow the consultations closely.

 

My views: Holding Court cannot continue as it currently exists. The painful reality of Macdonald’s racism and treatment of Indigenous people demands – at the very least – contextualization and recognition of the ongoing trauma. 

 

One option is to relocate Holding Court to Picton’s Macaulay Heritage Park for display in a museum setting. 

 

In any case, it cannot stay where it is, as it is. 

 

Another approach would be to remove the figure of Macdonald from Holding Court, while keeping the empty witness chair on public view. I like the powerful metaphor of that image – an eloquent reminder of my country’s unwillingness to acknowledge its past.

 

Thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, this is my version of Holding Court, without Macdonald.

 


 

I recognize, by the way, that artist Ruth Abernethy might object to having the two elements her sculpture split apart.

 

So....to sum up:

 

I have had people – white people – tell me that, while they claim to understand the anger felt by Indigenous peoples about their racist treatment in the past, it is now time for them to let go of that anger and move on. In other words, “Get over it.” The mind-numbing racism of this thinking leaves me speechless. The racial wounds are so profound and deeply embedded in Canadian society that a simplistic push for ‘closure’ trivializes and exacerbates intergenerational Indigenous suffering, leading to further traumatization. Rather than healing the trauma, such a push merely reflects white reluctance to acknowledge Canada’s reprehensible treatment of Indigenous peoples.

 

I hope that this modest essay helps promote a healing path.

 

I am going on hiatus for a few weeks while Bill and I move to Picton. I plan to re-start photography, writing, and blog posts, early in the autumn.

 

Until then, stay safe, stay well, and stay curious.

 

The photographs that follow come from a photo collage project I developed two years ago as my thinking about Sir John A. Macdonald began shifting.

 

Thank you.

 

Larry Tayler Photography

Belleville (soon to be Picton), Ontario

LarryTayler.com








 

 

 

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Blog Post #187 - "A Celebration of Oddity", 26 July, 2020

A Celebration of Oddity
Blog Post #187 – 26 July 2020

Last week, I celebrated bits of beauty. This week, it’s a celebration of oddity.

Dictionary.com defines oddity as “singularity, strangeness, or eccentricity.” 

Now, I know a thing or two about oddity. 

As a child, I once overheard a friend of my mother’s whisper to her, “Well, Rose, Larry is...um...an odd little boy.” (Note to parents: kids always hear what people whisper.) Up until that point in my life, I hadn’t been aware of any adjectives used to describe me. I was blissfully oblivious about categories or pigeon-holes. It did not seem odd to me, for instance, that I would take inordinate interest in setting fires, stealing gun powder, or listening to CBC Radio. It is only in retrospect that I see the oddness of a pyromaniac child with a worrisome interest in explosions and politics. 

But once I had heard my mother’s friend whisper that word “odd”, I fully embraced the label. 

“Yes, world, I am odd. Yippee!” 

It wasn’t long before I was studying Russian, subscribing to Hansard, and quoting from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. Not to mention sending rocket designs to NASA, writing outraged letters to The Globe and Mail, and reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover to learn about sex. 

Yup, definitely odd.

Which means that one of the things that delights me most about photography is recording odd images. Off-kilter images that my mother’s friend would not have understood. 

But I thank her for the label. It has served me well.

In that spirit, I offer the following odd photographs for your perusal. Enjoy!

Closing note: this is my penultimate blog post before going on hiatus while Bill and I move to Picton. (Yes, dear Reader, I have reached “P” in the dictionary.) Once we are settled into our new home, I plan to re-start photography, writing, and blog posts, likely in early autumn. 

Next week’s theme will be part three of my “Conversations about Racism” - a reconsideration of the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister.

Larry Tayler Photography
Belleville (soon to be Picton), Ontario
LarryTayler.com










  

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Blog Post #186 - "Bits of Beauty" - July 19, 2020

Blog Post #186 – 19 July 2020
Bits of Beauty

It’s time to celebrate bits of beauty. I’ve dipped into my file of photos made during the peak of Covid-19 isolation to find images that don’t fit any particular theme but that deserve to be seen. They range from a snow-covered daffodil in our back yard to a wonderful old neighbourhood dog. I’ve even thrown in a close-up of my husband’s prized pickled eggs!

Bill and I are coming to the end of our sojourn in Belleville. We bought our house here almost seven years ago, a year before I retired. We moved full-time from Toronto six years ago. Those six years have been filled with gifts, challenges, and wonderful memories, but it is now time for us to go back home – to Prince Edward County. For those unfamiliar with Ontario’s geography, Prince Edward County – not to be confused with Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast – is a large island on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Our new house will be in Picton, the main town of Prince Edward County. It’s about a 25-minute drive south of Belleville. Our moving date is scheduled for Tuesday, September 8. Once August arrives, life will be very busy – packing, organizing, and saying good-byes. I plan to write two more weekly blog posts before going on hiatus. Next week, I want to write about some odd photos I’ve made during Covid-19 times, and then I’ll finish off with the third part of my conversations about racism. Once we get settled into Picton, I plan to re-start my photography, writing, and blog posts, likely in early autumn.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the bits of beauty in these photos.











Larry Tayler Photography
Belleville, Ontario
LarryTayler.com