When I’m in Halifax, I try to stop in for a visit at the ViewPoint Gallery on Barrington — a shared street level gallery space operated by a hand selected membership. It’s kind of like an advanced photo club and part of me is slightly jealous a similar concept doesn’t exist in Charlottetown.
I was recently invited over to Truro to speak at a morning seminar to the ImageMakers Photography Club and took the opportunity to keep going into downtown Halifax to attend the opening reception of a show at ViewPoint sponsored by Atlantic Photo Supply. Photographers from around the maritimes of all skill levels showcased 155 powerful images in commercial, wedding, portrait and fine art categories. The basis of the show was to celebrate the expansion of Atlantic Photo Supply.
If you are in Halifax before June 3rd, this months display at ViewPoint is a collection of infrared images by the always popular Eric Boutilier-Brown. I’m going to miss it but was lucky enough to be in Halifax for Eric’s previous two shows Frozen Light and Symmetry in Stone. I would like to point out this one single image “The Gift” and it’s description. The photographers in the crowd will enjoy the technical specs.
Today’s Image – The Power and Importance of the Buoy
Here, I am playing in the water at North Rustico (N 46 27.362 W 63 17.408) trying to frame and illustrate the role of the red and green buoy that fishing boats must enter and exit between. On either side is shallow and lined with unforgiving rocks.
Now that I’m committed financially to producing my own fine art prints (I’m giving some away via facebook btw – spread the news), I have participated in many friendly debates about the file vs the print and how several photography studios still consider the print the be all and end all of preserving memories. So many studios still refuse to sell files but those same studios may also be trashing the files after only a few years. So my question for everyone that shoots for clients, either it be portrait, commercial or weddings, if you do not offer the sale of files, do you archive them forever?
With the level of photo restoration happening today fixing water damaged or sun faded prints of grandparents at young ages – there should be no reason to have this problem with the images being made today 50 years from now. The general public is smarter and more aware of managing their digital life and unlike the negative which was also analog, a digital file is much easier to duplicate and archive properly. And also unlike a painting, the ability to reproduce more prints is an artificial limitation. With each year that passes, printing technology advances and improves. What is possible today was not possible 10 years ago and oh, how I wish I could simply reprint prints made 50 years ago.
So before you create that sales pitch for you website on why “hire a professional photographer” with the standard bullet points — are you making a long-term product or a short-term one? And if you are the client hiring a photographer, are you hiring to create a print/image for the short-term or the long-term?
Whether the business model fits it or not, digital files are here to stay but let’s not confuse this with the validity of a print. The print is still the standard for presentation and enjoyment but it is no longer the best method of archival. The print may have the most value today but the file has the most value 100 years from now.
And before you argue that files will be lost or hard drives will die — you can argue all the same points about taking proper care of prints. It only takes a single accident to destroy a piece of art. The big difference is that you can’t back up a print even if you wanted to.
I’m Now Making My Own Prints
Before transitioning to photography in 2001, I grew up with pencils, brushes, inks and paints. I keep saying artist first photographer second but there is something missing if your work never makes it to paper. And since going digital, I have printed so very little. Now after all these years, I *think* my work has matured enough to be worthy of paper again.
Why have I printed so little until now? For starters, you send your file away, and a week or two later, a package shows up in the mail. To some degree, it’s not really your product at all. It’s a product of the lab created with your artwork. If there is a mistake, you reorder and wait another week. And for low volume printing — shipping is expensive. The second problem is that labs charge a very high premium for art paper which is what I’m mostly interested in.
That’s about to change because I’ve setup my own little home printing lab. It started with the use of a friends printer a couple months ago that has ultimately led to buying one of my own. Which means, reasonably priced open edition signed collectable prints on archival heavy weight papers are coming soon.
Due to the moons orbit, it’s distance from earth varies by approximately 50,000 kilometres over the course of a year. Comparing the two extremes, this difference makes the moon look 14% bigger and 30% brighter and earns the name supermoon. With super in the name, it must be fantastic! But for the most part, it is visibly not that much different than any other full moon. Especially the night before and night after. The idea of a closer moon is very cool but the media hypes it up a bit with camera trickery. Using long lenses, shooting a city a mile away to make it look smaller in relation to the moon is what we see. We are made to believe we missed this enormous moon that filled the sky. I would like to see those same shots on a regular full moon night for comparison.
Today’s Image – New London Lighthouse in French River
For much of the weekend, we had a heavy overcast on Prince Edward Island. The only view of the moon this year for me was the night before as the moon started to rise about 1 hour before sunset.
The day before setting day, I had an idea on where I wanted to be for the boat departures at 6am but it required hiking the 11km round trip length of the Cavendish Dunes. Along the way on this scouting adventure, one Piping Plover was spotted.
Each spring on the last day of April, all of the fishing boats from the many harbours around the coastline parade out to sea to set their traps. Here on Prince Edward Island, we were a day late due to weather but starting at 5:30am on May 1st, hundreds of boats made their way out the mouth of their harbours and awaited sunrise. At first sight of the sun at 5:58am, the boats race off to their respective territories to begin fishing season.
I routinely visit Covehead in PEI National Park and I still can’t believe how much can and has changed from year to year. What once was a sand dune, is now a clear view out to sea.
Today’s Image – New Stream at Covehead
A year ago and this stream did not exist. The lake (pond?) in the distance was not accessible and separated by a sand dune but today is part of the beach and connected to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I do not have a great before image but if we compare it to this image of the Northern Lights looking in the opposite direction, you can get a sense of the separation. Using Google maps, we can still see at N 46 25.746 W 63 09.117 how isolated it was just last summer.
I am no expert at composing a perfectly framed image but I do know what I like and I think I know what works for me. This typically means identifying a subject and finding at least a few lines that will draw the attention into the frame and hold it there.
Here I am in Rustico (N 46 27.419 W 63 17.389) for what turned out to be a very brief morning. But I can’t complain. It’s always fantastic when the clouds are heavy and the sun has a clear opening to light them up from below. It may be just another boring sunrise to many but this image is full of leading lines that intersect with even more leading lines.
(This is the same image previously shared on Facebook (here and here) a couple weeks ago on the same morning it was taken.)
Today’s Image – Rustico Beach
It doesn’t matter how much I plan, how perfectly I set everything up, or how ready “I think” I am because once that sun starts to rise, everything I had prepared for goes out the window and I frantically adjust to the sky, reflections and shadows. This was one of those mornings where I was all ready to shoot in the other direction with my back to the sun.
It has been many years since I last finished a painting using traditional mediums and I have a desk full of paints, inks, pens and brushes that now only collect dust. I’ve completely surrendered to the digital world but although I’ve stopped mixing paints, I still feel like I create images with a similar purpose routinely reminding myself artist first, photographer second.
Comparing the two can be interesting. If I was to frame the same scene and take the necessary time to paint only what was in front of me – what would I include and what would I not include? That mental reminder will keep you monitoring the frames edges before clicking away.
The majority of my work is not shot for clients. It’s not created for stock. And I am never thinking about sales. My goal is to create something visually attractive that might possibly look good as a print on my wall. How would this look as a 40 inch fine art piece on canvas?
If others enjoy it too, that’s all the more rewarding.
Today’s Image – The End of the Rainbow
Tonight had a little bit of everything in the National Park near Covehead (N 46 25.797 W 63 08.490). A mix of good light, heavy storm clouds, a light rain followed up by a rainbow. I spend over an hour photographing this rock and with almost 100 frames to show for it, this was my selected keeper for angle and wave movement. I’ll keep the rest and revisit them some day.
After all these years, the Confederation Bridge is something I’ve never photographed seriously. A few compact camera shots with each trip over but never at the right times of day. This past Friday had a low tide scheduled about the same time as sunset and with some careful tide watching, I was able to stay out long enough without being trapped ankle deep in water. Which reminds me, I really need to add rubber boots to my gear wish list.
Earlier in the week when this was being planned, I was hoping for one of those nights with storm clouds to the east and a wide open sky for the setting sun to the west. Although the sun only broke through for less than 15 minutes, I suppose wishes do come true. Too bad I failed to also include a vehicle starting the drive across with these long exposures.
Opened in 1997 to replace the ferry, this almost 13 kilometre bridge connects Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick. Everything you would ever want to know about the bridge is on the wikipedia.