Category Archives: Florida

The Nature of the Place

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

In a post from August 10, 2015 I wrote,

I have never considered landscape photography something I “do” nor a genre in which I am seriously interested. Yet, as I review my images of the last few years, I notice that I have taken my fair share of landscape photographs. Apparently, not only do I like “being” in the natural world, I like taking pictures of it from time to time. Looking through Ewing’s book, and other photography books I have, it is evident that the groundwork for landscape photography is as varied as the world itself and that imagery of landscape includes all forms of the man-made. Sometimes, my photographs are devoid of human figures but they are, nonetheless, often pregnant with human presence.

The first three months of this year I was in Florida – a place I do not much care for unless I am in its natural environment. At the end of my stay, there, I had the opportunity to spend time in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. I have been to the Everglades multiple times and adore it but never have I visited Big Cypress. The few days were terrific and resulted in driving to various hiking spots. Perhaps because I recently inherited the book Landscape (part of The Library of World Photography series), from my father, I have been looking at more landscape photography than usual – much of it in black and white. Not coincidentally (perhaps), I could not help but feel in my heart that this part of Florida was meant to be seen in black and white and elusively; this sentiment was abstract but strong as I was engulfed in the terrain and had the opportunity to meditatively reflect on this ecosystem. Unlike many other landscape images in my repertoire, the following are pictures from an environment seemingly devoid of human touch.

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

Everglades National Park, Florida, U.S.

Everglades National Park, Florida, U.S.

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

Big Cypress Preserve, Florida, U.S.

Working Music

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

Once upon a time, when I was involved in visual arts other than photography (mixed media sculpture installations and a bit of drawing and monoprints), I listened and sang, while I worked, to the music I walk by. These past few months, in Florida, it has not been easy to go out and take photographs so I have spent most of my “photography time” processing my work, instead (i.e., editing images and/or sequencing them). When doing this I tend to listen to music without words. Much of it is percussion. When I started listening to jazz, in my late teens, my ears and heart concentrated on the drums and bass. It is not surprising that listening like that has carried itself to today and relates to the music I love, in general. The following list is not comprehensive but is what I tend to listen to most often *if / when* I work to music.

Alarm Will Sound : http://www.alarmwillsound.com/recordings.php

Andy Akiho : http://www.andyakiho.com/#video

Bill Evans : https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bill+evans

Glenn Gould : http://www.glenngould.com/video/

Glenn Kotche : http://glennkotche.com/listen (probably better known for being part of the band Wilco)

Jun Miyake : http://junmiyake.com/

Kadri Gopalneth : https://www.google.com/search?q=kadri+golpaneth&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=kadri+gopalnath&tbm=vid

Oscar Peterson : https://www.oscarwithlove.com/pages/listen

Ravi Shankar : http://www.ravishankar.org/

Rudresh Mahanthappa : http://rudreshm.com/

Sigur Ros : http://sigur-ros.co.uk/valtari/videos/ and https://vimeo.com/sigurros/videos

Steve Reich : http://www.stevereich.com/ (click on mp3 or video to listen/watch)

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S.

 

 

 

Music to Walk By

Century Village, Deerfiled Beach, Florida

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida

I have been fortunate this winter to be able to walk about five miles, most mornings, around the retirement development (Century Village) in Deerfield Beach, Florida, where my parents fly the Canadian cold and coop. I love walking! I simply adore it. But my feet are not the best; nor is my voice for, that matter. Trust me on both counts. Nevertheless, I put my earbuds into my ears, crank up the volume, walk briskly, and sing aloud. Below are links to official websites of some of the musicians/composers I listen and sing to. You will be able to peruse these sites and get a feel for some of my favourite walking music. So… (drum roll)… and in no particular order…. “Music to Walk By” :

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds : http://nickcave.com/videos/

Tom Waits : http://www.tomwaits.com/videos/

Sigur Ros : http://sigur-ros.co.uk/valtari/videos/ and https://vimeo.com/sigurros/videos

Jonsi : http://jonsi.com/media

Merdith Monk : http://www.meredithmonk.org/media/concerts.html

Bjork : http://bjork.com/#!page=videos

Steve Reich : http://www.stevereich.com/ (click on mp3 or video to listen/watch)

Leonard Cohen : https://www.leonardcohen.com/videos/

Kate and Anna McGarrigle : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGfQaYnBP5Y | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3ZCcSWaDfc | https://www.google.com/search?q=you+tube+mcgarrigle+sistgers&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=youtube+mcgarrigle+sisters

Jane Siberry : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC93d8JDe9YOaGzZwVHscalQ

Lana Del Rey : http://lanadelrey.com/videos/

Neko Case : http://nekocase.com/site/videos2/

The New Pornographers : http://www.thenewpornographers.com/media/

David Byrne : https://www.youtube.com/user/DavidByrneMusic

Souad Massi : https://soundcloud.com/souad-massi

Mariem Hassan : http://www.mariemhassan.com/index.php/videos

Wim Wenders’ Soundtracks : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSJ28vGa6dY (this happens to be a snippet from one of all time favourite movies, “Wings of Desire” | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSJ28vGa6dY | http://www.wim-wenders.com/music/

Manu Chao : http://www.manuchao.net/tvlina/

Arcde Fire : http://arcadefire.com/site/music/ (to really get you to walk quickly)

The list goes on and on and on…. but these folks are my mainstay – some of them for decades, now. If you have any music recommendations please let me know. Next blog posting: Working Music.

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida

Century Village, Deerfield Beach, Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Saves

Toward Eustice, Florida

Toward Eustis, Florida

In Mystery and Manners Flannery O’Connor wrote, “I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.” The American South is known as the Bible Belt – the most religious region in the United Sates. It was on a drive through Florida’s panhandle, Georgia, South and North Carolina, and beyond toward the northeast states that I realised how saturated with Christianity this area is. Some areas seemed to have a church of one sect or another at each corner (although the reality is that these churches are mainly of Protestant denominations – particularly Southern Baptist, Methodist, and evangelical). This left an impression on me. Since much of our road trip was destination-focused, and we had set a time limit for our return home, I did not have opportunity to photograph this surprising (to me) phenomenon. Mounted on billboards and church signs Steve and I saw as we drove along, were messages like:

“Jesus, we love you! Signed, Wakulla” (billboard outside Wakulla, FL)

“Even SATAN believes in me. Signed, God” (on the side of a tractor-trailer, GA interstate)

“The first valentine was made of two pieces of wood and three nails” (a church’s signboard, somewhere in GA)

But of course there is more to the American South than religious immoderation. Our trip was a whirlwind, aimed at returning to New England with a few slight diversions. What we chose to experience was the natural world of Florida by hiking through two of the many state and national parks (Ocala and Wakulla). While on the road we passed through towns like Palatka and Micanopy (both in Florida) that recall days past, with unpretentious historic town centres that seem worlds away from their outlying suburban areas. Similarly, in places like Eustis, Florida, there remain vestiges of the mid-20th century that hint at what these places once were; we stayed in a hotel on the town’s outskirts that still has its original neon sign from the 1960s. Athens, GA, has a strong creative community with flourishing music, culinary, and arts scenes.

Until Athens, Georgia, we took back-roads that passed through many small towns where we saw a lot of poverty. Because the Church’s presence is a strong one in the South; the general tenor of the place seemed significantly more conservative than anywhere I have been. What also became clear was evidence of the historical interchange between black and white – palpable from the food, music, religion, and probably a whole lot more that we didn’t experience ourselves. Though all we had was a mere glance at this complex region, we were always on the receiving end of great hospitality and manners.

Nicholson, NC (west of Athens, GA - home of the B-52s and R.E.M and Pylon.)

Nicholson, NC (west of Athens, GA – home of the B-52s and R.E.M. and Pylon)

Wakulla, Florida

Wakulla Springs Lodge, Florida

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, FL

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, FL

Palatka, Florida

Palatka, Florida

Route 441, Florida

Clewiston, Florida

Toward Eustice, Florida

Eustis, Florida

Last Days in Florida

At the Beach with Steve, Deerfield Beach

Between (or: At the Beach with Steve), Deerfield Beach

Tomorrow I head north – homeward bound. Steve and I will meander through the Florida panhandle, the back roads of Alabama and Tennessee, and then we will hoof it to cold and snow-covered Massachusetts. Below are a few photos taken here in Florida over the last several months. My next blog post will be of photos taken during the road trip home.

BBQ King Trailer, Fort Lauderale

BBQ King Trailer, Fort Lauderale

Smoking Pork, BBQ King, Fort Lauderdale

Smoking Pork, BBQ King, Fort Lauderdale

Hanging Around, Margate

Hanging Around, Margate

Coin Op, Margate

Coin Op, Margate

Lake Ida Environs

Lake Ida Environs

Wind Mill, Deerfield Beach

Wind Mill, Deerfield Beach

The Man with the Gold Teeth, Del Ray Beach

The Man with the Gold Teeth, Del Ray Beach

 

 

Why I Fell in Love with My iPhone

Century Village Saturday Morning Walk to Schule

Century Village Saturday Morning Walk to Schule

Lately, I rarely *purposely* head out to take photographs. Instead, they are mostly products of the rhythm of my life as I go about my day. I am working on two projects but besides these, all other photographs are taken as something catches my eye. Diagonal lines, that is my position to the subject, play a greater part in the photographs. My eyes and heart are always on the look out, now. The radar is on and I am on alert. I now push the story-telling aspect of photography thus, I try to trigger questions rather than simply tell. This is slow to come but it is coming. I think about it constantly.

I have learned that it is incredibly important to photograph, first, for myself. Doing this allows me to follow my instincts, play, explore, and create images that are personal. I want to share my work with others, mind you, and clearly do so via this blog, my website, and Instagram. Since I bought my iPhone I take it out to shoot, often, and have worked particularly hard and long, after, when I post-process the picture.

Here

Here

There

There

I still use the Olympus OMD-EM5. I love it because I can choose the lens I want to use (although I typically head out with only one lens so that I am not encumbered and I can just go with the flow based on the one option I give myself), manipulate the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed; the images are of a higher quality and the higher control and resolution add a whole layer of beauty and precision. Nevertheless, I find myself predominantly utilizing the iPhone.

The truth of the matter is that even though I LOVE my “real” camera I simply adore the hands-on-ness of the iPhone and the post-processing applications (apps) I use to create the final images. It provides a direct way of looking at and capturing the subject and light, moving the image into a creative idea through the apps, and then sharing it with others through social media. I no longer think that taking a photograph with a small mobile device (that happens to be a telephone among other things) is not photography. It is, as I’ve said, simply another camera.

Those of you who have followed my blog know that I was a sculptor, once upon a time. The work I created was very hands-on. Tactility was critical to me. When I drew, I used my fingers. It turns out this is the same with photography. I fell in love with the act of photography a few years ago but am discovering my voice now that I clasp a “smart” phone in my hands. It is my primary capture tool through which I have the opportunity to finger-paint a body of work. Snapping the subject is the starting point. I am interested in what I can do, creatively, afterward. I have become quite manipulative with my “darkroom” apps on the computer – more so than with Adobe products such as Lightroom and Photoshop. Images are slowly developing into works that are abundant in content and expression. Imagine: a camera and a darkroom all in one. I have fully embraced this process and have gone from taking a photograph to making one. The potential is great and it is all done with my fingers.

Century Village Bus Depot

Century Village Bus Depot

I still attempt to do things precisely when I compose “in-camera.” Before I shoot I make sure to get the exposure set properly and place the focus point, manually, as well. To do this, I tap the screen of the iPhone (a lot) to indicate where to focus and adjust the exposure. It is more difficult to keep the iPhone camera still so I use a tripod more often and also accept blur as a happy accident, occasionally. Though I get the camera set correctly as best as I can when I take a shot, I enjoy using many of the post-processing apps available to me and with which I go wild; they help shape and push my work further. However, it is important that the end result look like a photograph and NOT a drawing or painting.

I tend to use two to five apps as I edit. My goal is to find a balance between adding layers of complexity to the the original subject and keeping the vision uncomplicated and coherent. The end result has to be fairly simple and (I can only hope) strong – so that someone looking at a photograph of mine responds to it, emotionally. I am experimenting with both colour and black and white and pushing light and shadow to the extreme for high contrast. Colours are processed so that they are washed out (“bleached”), pushed further (typically by warming saturation, adding “filters,” etc.), or have all of the saturation removed so that the picture becomes black and white. Manipulating the photographs in my Century Village, Florida series encourages a timeless feeling that conjures up memories for the viewer and each photograph is tailored to help convey the story.

At the Pool

At the Pool

The principal apps I use are: Camera+; ProCamera; Pure; Filterstorm Neue; Afterlight; Picfx; Photo fx; Mextures; and Bleach Bypass and/or SkipBleach.

I am drawn to the immediacy of using my iPhone as a camera and I can edit on the go. That is, when I have a moment, at any time of the day, I take my phone out and use my fingers to manipulate and “paint” the photograph.  I spend hours on my work and stop the editing process when my inner voice says, “that’s it!”

Intersection

Intersection

Shuffle Board

Shuffle Board

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