Friday, December 30, 2016

Saying goodbye to 2016

2016 was like a painting washed with vivid shades of dark grey.

I sit here at the keyboard less than a month since my mother died. This certainly painted a gloomy shadow over the calendar year. I know there were some bright spots but it's hard to see them right now.

I want to share this poem which my sister found among my mom's things. I don't know where she got it or why she kept it but I found it so very appropriate.

There's a .pdf copy of it on my website at if you want to share it as well.

I took my camera out of my safe yesterday. It's been stored in there for a couple of months now. I haven't yet opened the bags but today I'll put the batteries in the charger and maybe shoot a picture or two in the next couple of days. So to my readers who look forward to seeing photos on this blog, I'm sorry to disappoint today but I will resume next time.

musings... an attempt to be thought-provoking

Music is what emotions sound like
Art is what emotions look like

I came across the first line somewhere. If you Google it, there's no definitive attribution — several people have said it, you choose. But I added the second line myself.

What moves you?
I'm struck by the thought that I've often said if I were to have a second chance to start again, I'd come back as a musician. I can't imagine that anyone has not experienced that rush of emotion, that joy, that hasn't 'Kvelled' when hearing some music that struck directly at their heart. Tell me you never have...
I sat down at the keyboard today for the first time in what seems like a year. I don't play very well but I improvised a blues version of Ray Charles' "Georgia" and became lost in the song for close to an hour. 
And yet that's never happened to me when seeing a photograph or a painting or a piece of art. Maybe that's just me. Maybe I haven't been exposed to enough masterpieces or maestros of the visual arts. Maybe I'm still mired in the technical side. Can I ever get there? I don't know.

My goal for 2017 and onward will be to convey feelings in my photographs, hopefully in my paintings as well. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop shooting pretty landscapes, challenging people and birds and animals or interesting scenes and activities. But I want to express myself sometimes in my art. Let me try to put that in other words.

Level 1: creating memories. A photo is a "snapshot" if the intent is bringing back a memory in the mind of the maker or participants. If you take a picture of the Eiffel Tower, when  you look at it some years later, you remember being there, that trip, whom you were with, sitting at that cafĂ© having a coffee and a croissant... another great example is a picture of your kids. You are creating memories.

I remember that trip to Newfoundland. It was a rainy day... 

Level 2: telling a story. An image that attempts to make a third party – someone who doesn't know the maker or the subject of the photo – wish they had been there to experience the moment.

"Putting the world on ignore". This illustrates a "Level 2" image for me. Imagine the sound, the bustle of this Kensington Market street.

Level 3: the mind's eye is when the maker can look at the image and say, "that's what I saw in my mind". It's an attempt to render not what the lens saw or what the eye saw, but rather what the artist visualized.

This is a really early attempt at painting, 'way back when I first started, but it's the only example I can readily find that illustrates what I'm talking about. This is what my mind saw. 

And so is this. It's a photo composite showing what my mind saw, not my eyes. 

The final step, Level 4: from the heart, is when the photographer or artist renders his feelings. The heart doesn't see angles and leading lines and colour palettes, the heart sees feelings.

"Anguish". Maybe.  

Most of the images I care about are level 3. Most of my pictures are level 2. I don't know if I've succeeded in producing a level 4 photo deliberately, I'll have to think more about that. I believe my painting efforts are attempts at conveying emotion but I'm hampered by my lack of technique and skill. But as I read and write this, I realize that's where I want to go.

Here's something important: it could be that others will not appreciate these images. It doesn't matter, I'm doing it for me. You do it for yourself.

PS: Topaz Labs is having a fantastic 35%-off storewide year-end sale for both new and existing customers!

Anyone who wants to take advantage of this last deal of the year can use the code “thanks35” at checkout for 35% off ANYTHING in their cart. This applies to every item storewide, including Complete Collection purchases and Collection upgrades! Sign into your account before you upgrade to get the best discount possible on the Collection for owning prior products. If you didn’t see an item in the 12 Days sale, or missed a specific product, this is your last chance to get great savings on any or all of Topaz Labs 17 products.

The code will be active through January 10th, 2017. 

Here's the link

What living in the country is all about:

  • you have neighbours who will do anything for you at the drop of a hat and not ask or expect anything in return. A shout out to Jack March who not only looked in on my house while I was away but even plowed the driveway and when my ATV/Plow combination messed up yesterday, he came over and fixed it. Not "helped fix it", he did it all because (a) I am the world's worst mechanic and (b) I can't get down under it because of my knees: not and expect to get back up anyway.
  • You have the furnace repair tech's cellphone on speed dial. I've had 4 episodes of "no heat", culminating in the last one when I came back after a 10 day absence. They finally found the culprit, some valve or terminal box or something. I hope...
  • Not only do you know what a "6mm Clevis pin with wire lock" is but you own one. Actually, I own two (2/pack). Don't know what it is? Neither did I until this morning...
  • You know that the meter high pile of snow at the head of your driveway left by the snow plow is called the "cone" and you know how to minimize it (go out and plow a two or three meter swath on your side of the road about 10 meters before your driveway. When the plow comes along, there's less snow on his blade to leave behind).

Yes I did take my camera out for a walk for a few minutes this afternoon. 

And so I leave you with this image as a farewell to 2016  

And here's my wish for everyone, that 2017 will exceed your expectations and when it's over, you'll look back at the year with joy.

— 30 —

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Rest in Peace, mom

Phyllis (Faigie) Springer,
September 27, 1921 – November 30, 2016

Rest in Peace