Sunday 30 October 2016

A Secret About A Secret

“A photograph is a secret about a secret.
The more it tells you, the less you know.”
- Diane Arbus

“Abstraction generally involves implication, suggestion, and mystery,
rather than obvious description.”
- Robert Genn

“Photography is the art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see
and everything to do with the way you see them.”
- Elliott Erwitt

“Abstraction demands more from me than realism.
Instead of reproducing something outside of me,
now I go inward and use everything I’ve learned thus far in my life.”
- Susan Avishai

My topic this week was supposed to have been my experience at an abstract photography course at Fleming College in Cobourg. Alas, the course was cancelled because of low enrolment – my second cancelled camera course this month. Oh pooh, as they say. I was really looking forward to the course because the concept of abstract, non-representational photography fascinates me.

So, instead, I’ve included the thoughts of the above eminent photographers about abstract photography. The images below seem to fulfill their criteria for abstract photography. I include them for your enjoyment – and possibly your puzzlement. I plan to pursue my interest in this area, especially with my nifty new lens (more about that later!), so stay tuned for updates.

A note about next week’s posting: on Sunday, November 6, I’m scheduled to make a presentation at the monthly meeting of the Prince Edward County Photography Club in the Wellington Library at 7pm. My topic will be Contemplative Photography. In preparation, I have created a 72-slide PowerPoint presentation. I plan to post screen captures of all 72 slides to my blog next weekend. I hope it will prove interesting for you.

Until next time!

Lock 11 gate, Trent Canal, Campbellford

Stage decorations, CreativFestival, Toronto

Abandoned toilet, Moira Street East, Belleville

Decorations, Zwick's Island Park playground, Belleville

Decoration, Zwick's Island Park playground, Belleville

Glass wall brick, Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, Belleville

Monday 24 October 2016

Pilgrim's Progress


Unbounded journey
Pursuit of enlightenment
Clarity found
Dark mind illuminated
Finally, comprehension.
- Delice Arleen Skelly, 2015

“[A pilgrimage is] taking your life for a walk.”
- Father Frank Brennan, SJ, as quoted in Tony Kevin’s book
Walking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago
(Scribe Melbourne, 2007)

“Solvitur ambulando…it is solved by walking.”
- Attributed to St. Augustine

Pilgrims and pilgrimages have always fascinated me. The idea of setting off on a spiritual journey in pursuit of revelation, salvation, and healing has a tremendous appeal for me. As I wrote in an earlier posting, my father and I used to spend hours walking our farm in Prince Edward County when I was a child, thus imprinting on my heart that when I had a problem to solve or an issue to work through, I went for a walk. Best therapy around! And I’ve been doing it for seven decades.

And I’m in good company. The concept of pilgrimage is central to the faith journey for Bahá’ís, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Wiccans. Every faith community honours the journey – whether literal or metaphorical – from brokenness to healing, from confusion to insight. And you certainly don’t need to be a traditional believer to experience the power of pilgrimage – everyone has the potential to find healing and reconciliation in their own individual journeys.

I was reminded of the healing potential of pilgrimage recently while doing research for a presentation I’m making about contemplative photography at the November 6th meeting of the Prince Edward County Photography Club. In particular, Jan Phillip’s book, God Is at Eye Level/Photography as a Healing Art (Quest Books, 2000) resonated with me:

Many people I know have a love affair with photography. They’re filled with stories of transformations that occurred as they discovered photography’s power to soothe and mend the broken wing…There’s something holy about this work, something healing about this search for the light. Like the pilgrim’s journey…” (Page 8)

Her words have a particular resonance for me because my passion for photography is rooted in my own journey of restoration…my own pilgrim’s progress. In July, 2014, shortly after I retired, I injured my back painfully. An essential part of my healing were the daily walks I took to strengthen my lower back – “walking therapy”, according to my gifted physiotherapist. To add accountability to these walks, I took along my modest Canon PowerShot camera, having set myself a year-long goal of posting at least one image a day – an image actually photographed that day – to my Twitter page. Over the course of 365 days (September, 2014 to September, 2015), I posted over 550 images. As my back got better, so did my photographs. And what a superb training ground for my eyes! Suddenly, the world was filled with beauty and visual invitations at every turn. From the pain of my injured back emerged joy, passion, and delight. For me, photography has been a healing art.

With that in mind, I offer these images for your enjoyment. Until next time.

Antique Shop, Bloomfield, Ontario

Mist on Gull River, Minden, Ontario

Allen Lambert Galleria, Toronto, Ontario
(Architect: Santiago Calatrava)

Ropes on Jill's dock, Sturgeon Lake, Ontario

Labyrinth on the the grounds of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 
Picton, Ontario

Picton Harbour

Disc harrows, Deerhaven Farm Equipment, Belleville, Ontario

Tim's bike

White feather...location unknown.

Edna on the Camino di Santiago, Spain
(with thanks to Photoshop!)

Sunday 16 October 2016

Long Live Impermanence!

Letter to the New York Times Magazine, Sunday, October 9, 2016:

For me, photography is magical – it takes a slice of time and freezes it forever. But not actually forever: The negatives fade and get thrown out at the estate sale; the pixels get erased or frozen in an obsolete chip; the image gets buried in a cloud of millions or billions of other images. Photography is as impermanent as the event that it captured. Its magic is to give us a sense of freezing time even as the frozen image melts before our eyes, just as we melt before the eye of the camera. Baby picture, smiling first day of school, crazy teen, lover, parent, grandparent, headstone. Long live impermanence!
– Don Hope, West Hartford, Connecticut.

One of my weekly celebrations is the arrival of the New York Times on Sunday mornings, an indulgence for the last decade. My friend Jean once observed that there is more information in the Sunday New York Times than the average medieval human encountered in a lifetime.

And, predictably, I have a ritual for reading the Times: magazine first, then the book section, then the arts section, then the rest of the paper. All accompanied by strong coffee. Heaven.

One of the many joys of the New York Times is that it takes photography very seriously, which I love. A constant, much-valued source of stimulation and provocation. Long may it continue.

I love the letter above. It is typical of the whip-smart, articulate people who write letters to the Times. Many of these people could also write for the Times. And long may that continue, too.

In the spirit of Don Hope’s celebration of impermanence, here are photos from the last week or so. Enjoy!

Photographed at the Toronto Zoo.

Sagging building, Morven, Ontario.

Abandoned Chevelle, Morven, Ontario.

Full moon rising over Prince Edward County.

Giant crocuses, Festival Theatre, Stratford, Ontario.

Door knocker, St. George's Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario.

Autumn scene near Napanee, Ontario.

Abandoned truck, Stittsville, Ontario.