Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Screaming Heads

Proposal to affect our beloved White Water Preserve

Orillia Power is proposing to build a power generating station at the Minden Wildwater Preserve. I'm not going to go into all the details, you can find them elsewhere, but there is NO DOUBT it will affect this fabulous natural waterway, where the PanAm Games kayak and canoe slalom events were hosted, unique in the world, and a natural treasure.

I wrote a letter to the Minden Hills Town Council who are considering the proposal. I hope it doesn't fall on deaf ears:
There are many arguments for and against the project but I defy you to find one supporting it that does not have a financial aspect. Money will be made if this project goes ahead, by OPG, by those hired to do the work, by others, and likely by the Town of Minden. Fair enough.
I have failed to find even one argument against the project that has anything to do with money. Instead they centre around changes that will affect this precious resource; not only the waterway itself but also the lakes and waters both up- and down-stream. Those who use the white waters for recreation – the kayakers, the fishermen and women, even those who simply wander the banks of the river, explore the caves, watch the trilliums grow in the spring, enjoy nature at its best. There’s no denying that these gifts will be affected if this project goes ahead.
As a photographer and an artist with ties to many outside the community, I often get requests, “I’m thinking of coming up to Minden Hills for a visit, what do you recommend that I see and do?”, number one on my list is to visit the Minden Wild Water Preserve. By far. The gnarly tree roots, the warblers and cedar waxwings flitting through the trees, the pristine trails along the water’s edge… Even in February! The rushing water, leaving filigreed caps of ice on the rocks (the original “Iced Cap!”) Even before the PanAm Games, it was one of the few things that people knew about our area. “You live in Minden? Isn’t that where that fabulous white water falls is located?”. Now, after the event, it’s a calling card for visitors from all over the world to come see our natural beauty.
Who has stood on the side of the Gull river and not thought, “Wow. This is a magical place”?
And now there’s a proposal to take it all away, or at least make it less magical. Shame on Minden Council if you approve this project which will affect our natural treasure for the sake of the almighty dollar.

New Banner Picture

I replaced the banner picture. For the record, here's the old one, since otherwise it disappears into cyberspace!

Topaz ReMask special offer!

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Screaming Heads

Note: this paragraph and picture added after the fact. I realized I never posted a picture of a "Screaming Head", and my intro was rather weak. 

Sometimes an artist's vision is so far out of the mainstream, it defies description. Peter Camani's Screaming Heads project is like that. You have to see the place to get it.

The club had an outing to "Screaming Heads" near Burk's Falls. If you've never heard of it, it's an off-the-wall place, conceived in the creative mind of Peter Camani. You can read more about it here, or Google it to see a variety of videos and other links. There's no simple way to describe it, check out the links. On September 18th weekend, by the way, the "Harvest Festival" will be there, an event which Peter describes as something like Burning Man (Google that if you've never heard of it either!). He expects over 3000 people.

Peter Camani describing some of the features inside his Midlothian Castle home 

As a challenge, I decided to shoot the entire visit with one lens only, my new Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 macro. I changed lenses only once, to do the group shot because I needed a wider angle. Otherwise everything you're about to see was shot with the one lens (although I did crop many of the pictures).

Our group. Missing is Philip Brown who was there but he disappeared sometime in the morning. Hope the witches in the castle didn't get him! I borrowed Jack's neat lightweight MeFoto tripod, set up the camera and used the TriggerTrap for the first time, controlling it with my iPhone. I set it to take a shot every 5 seconds, I did half a dozen or so before wandering back to shut it off.  

Many of my shots were enhanced using various Photoshop tools, such as the Flame Generator here (there were no flames in these old lanterns!). Then I used Topaz Impression to create a painting.

Another painted image (Topaz Impression, "Turner Afternoon" preset). This is essentially a full-frame image, I was challenged by the 105mm lens and couldn't get back far enough to include the whole canoe.  

You could either walk around the pond, or take the human-powered 'ferry' across! Amin is providing the muscle for this crossing. It doesn't take much – I had crossed myself earlier so I could get this shot and I sent the ferry back under the power of a little 5-year old boy! I toned this one similar to Dianne Stender's style. 

Cement and other sculptures dotted the landscape. Enhanced in Topaz Impression, "Impasto" preset. 

Eyes cut in the sculptures made wonderful frames to shoot through! I took some pictures of Chris and Holly looking through some eyeholes, but others have posted those so I didn't.

I did say it was a macro lens, right? So I had to shoot this grasshopper... 

...and this wasp or hornet gathering nectar on a goldenrod bloom. 

Amin and Gord hanging out. The 105mm gives an excellent perspective and by the way, it's really sharp! Amin is wearing the new HHCC baseball cap, the shipment came in a couple of days ago if you're a club member.

Christine struck a fashion model pose on one of the sculptures. 

...and so did Holly. 

And Wendy. Very, very rare for me: I did NOTHING to this shot, it's straight out of the camera, not even cropped! 

Another painted image in the style of Degas. I think the composition really works here!

The castle is guarded by this little gnome, hidden in the wall near the gate. At least he was sheltered from the rain (yes, we got caught!). 
And finally, one more shot, taken in their lush garden:

You know I did a little work on this one in Photoshop and Topaz! Told you this is a sharp lens! 

So an excellent day's outing, capped off by a great early dinner on a patio overlooking the river in Huntsville before the drive home. 

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