Twenty fourteen was a big year on Prince Edward Island. A year of celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference — an event that eventually led to Canadian Confederation. This is far from a complete summary of a busy year of events, activities and festivals but here are a few of my images representing how I saw PEI’s 2014 celebrations.
Temperatures are dropping and the first true signs of winter and snow fall are showing in the forecast. The cold and frost covered windshield is not the best motivator to get out of a warm bed while it’s still dark outside and for many, the camera goes into hibernation until spring.
Some of the best photography advice I ever received was how to dress in layers for winter temperatures. MEC.ca describes it: “Layers allow you to build a tiny microclimate that surrounds your body and can be adapted to moisture, wind, temperature, and exertion.”
Wearing loose fitting outer layers will trap heat inside and provide better insulation. More importantly, wearing boots and mitts that are a size too big helps maintain heat by creating a warm air cushion around your feet/hands. Nothing ruins an adventure and focus faster than wet or cold feet.
I have over simplified this a bit but if you avoid cotton materials that absorbs moisture and wear an inner synthetic layer, a middle insulation layer and an outer wind/snow/rain layer, cold weather photography can become as pleasant as summer photography.
Many of my favourite images were created during mid winter freezing temperatures.
Unless I forget to remove the lens cap, I rarely delete and simply archive. I would like to believe that I’m a better photographer than I was 2 years ago. I see things differently and how I approach creating new images is forever changing.
With all that file clutter just taking up space, it’s an interesting exercise to look back and compare what I had originally thought was good and/or bad. It’s also interesting to see how opinions have changed.
It feels like forever and a day since I was in Iceland but when I saw an image of Dettifoss this week, I went back to my archived library to see what I had originally passed over as rejects. I remembered being there but I had also remembered coming back without anything interesting to print.
This is what I found. A relatively flat mid-day image of Europe’s most powerful waterfall. It surely doesn’t have the same impact as it did standing there inches from the rushing water.
50% of my visualization is through trial and error. Should it be cropped? Does it need more or less contrast? Would I prefer this or would I prefer that?
Once I identified what I did not like about this image, I removed the colour, darkened the sky and ended up with two different images. One was be the original 8×12 but the other a perfect square. Both with very different perspectives of the location.
So I asked the question on Facebook which image was preferred and I feel like I got an equal mix right down the middle. You can see everyone’s comments here, here, and here. Art doesn’t get more subjective than this and how one connects with an image varies wildly.
Some prefer the feeling of standing there looking over the edge into the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river while others much prefer 1:1 and removing the triangle shaped distractions.
There is no answer and I still do not know which one I prefer.
My social media efforts are average at best. And of the many options available, Facebook is where I still have my roots firmly planted. It’s both the most frustrating to use but still the one that offers the best connections. That’s party my fault for never visiting the other networks but maybe also because Facebook is not dominated primarily with only photographers.
For page owners, Facebook offers two statistics. Post Reach and Post Engagement. The reach is the number of people who were supposedly shown the post and the engagement is a measurement of likes and comments. It’s that engagement measurement (formerly known as EdgeRank) that contributes to a score on how interesting the content may be and who should see it.
So I tried a small experiment this weekend and specifically asked for people to ‘like’ or comment on an image if they saw it. I would then compare that number to the reported reach (unique impressions). From the 1500 people who are subscribed to my timeline and after 12 hours, Facebook reports that 9400 users had seen it. From that number, 319 people acknowledged they saw the post by ‘liking’ and 173 comments were left. Who the other 9000+ users are… I have no idea.
If there was anything to learn from this, a post really needs to get traction quickly to gain steady momentum. Without those comments (because friends see where friends of friends comment) to snowball, it quickly disappears and the reach dramatically shortens.
Branded as the biggest thing David Suzuki has ever done, the Blue Dot Tour is quite likely David’s last cross-country project in one final effort to encourage change. Now 78, Suzuki’s message to his grandchildren is: “I’m doing the best I can”.
On Sept 29th 2014, the tour stopped in PEI with a clear and emotional message to encourage change. A change to ensure Canadians have a clean environment to live. And a change in laws at all levels of government to force responsible development. If we completely depend on clean air, clean water and clean food… why do we not value it as our top priority?
While the tour was in PEI, I offered my time and camera as part of the volunteer team.