floating ice georgian bay


I had a date with Wind this morning.
Early, I told him. Sunrise. Our usual spot.
But when I opened the curtains as the faintest light began, there was no sign of him. He was a no-show.
empty chair looking out no wmHe hadn’t been around for a number of days – dull listless grey days – so I’d thought maybe calling him up, specifically requesting his presence might help.
Apparently not.
Oh well, I thought, I can get a few errands done.
On my bike, heading towards town, he snuck up and flung a cardinal across my path.
Where are you going? Why are you ignoring me? Sulking, petulant.
Ignoring YOU? I cried out to the skies. You’ve been nowhere to be seen for days! I came up here for birds soaring in the wind, for dramatic Tom Thomson skies, and there has been nothing. Nothing but quiet.
He rustled in some grasses. Bare trees began to bend and the sun reached through some clouds, flickering and reflecting, beaming down onto the barren land.god shot barren landscapeIs this what you’re thinking? Some typical God shot?
Yes, yes. That kind of thing. Don’t be such a snob. I need something that I can, like, make into a poster and sell to Ikea or something and get rich.
You’re delusional, he said. He blew a sudden gust at me from behind and I caught a whiff of something potent, almost like Horse, but not here, I thought, must be Bear.
Looking around, I saw nothing – the bear would likely be across the inlet in the trees.
Nonetheless, I began to move. Thank you, Wind.
He shrugged, a tiny puff. Anyway you’re missing out on the subtler things here. The shifts in the melting ice. The returning birds. The grasses dead and decomposing and being reborn. Each day is slightly different – more melting, more growing, more movement. Just look at that one wee swan out there, lost in the ice.single swan on iceAnd the strange prickly shapes that happen as the ice begins to fragment and disperse – the mini-icebergs in the water and how their edges turn into little quartz crystals as they shift and bump.sun reflected in ice break upOr the pre-historic looking circles, the water melting on top of the ice, reaching down to the water below, seeking itself, seeking warmth, carving shapes.ice candles w reflectorfxMaybe if you spend a little more time with these small miracles, I will put on a show for you another day.
And then he was gone.
There was still time for errands.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Afloat
* * *
This post felt like it blew in, appropriately, from 4 Directions.
The most immediate prompting came from Promptress Supreme, Jena Schwartz, who leads delightful writing groups, whose Day One susurration teased out this dialogue with place.
A deep rumbling influence has been an online course I’ve been taking on Shamanism with Sandra Ingerman. Weekly journeys, the drumming, the focus on the elements, the dialogues with the animals, have all made it increasingly normal, and even urgent to have conversations with the Natural World.
Some months ago I read an exquisite little book by author / illustrator Jackie Morris, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, in which there are fascinating seductive conversations between the main character and the 4 Winds – East, South, West and North.
And wearing away at my mind like water for months, or maybe it’s years now, is the achingly beautiful poetry of my online buddy, Em, and her many playful and poignant conversations with the elements in her part of the world.


Planetary Ephemera

Just before the corner at Yonge and Eglinton, I look up.
There, between the towering office and condo buildings, at this quintessential Toronto corner, I see a handful of planets.
Big. Close. Coloured like Easter eggs.
A couple of them are stripy and one has big gold stars on it like when you were a kid and got a gold star sticker from the teacher.
In a flash, I remember, Oh oh oh! Sergio taught us to make a wish, to ask the dream for what we want whenever we see gold or silver!
What do I want?
This is it, this is it, what do I really really really want….?
Whatever that means, whatever form it takes, just simply, abundance.
And I ask the gold stars on the easter egg planets in the sky at Yonge & Eglinton for abundance.
photoThe weekend is filled with friends and laughter, and by Sunday morning I make it to dance class for the first time in months and there by the door as we’re pulling on our socks, the conversation turns to an old film I cut, and these amazing ladies oooh and aaahh about how much they love that film, and what a good job, what a great film, and suddenly I realize, it occurs to me that I love my life. I love my friends, I love my work, where it has taken me, how it has touched lives. I love these people I know, people I meet in passing, the friends and teachers and talents and characters and stories and places I have known along the way.
And it doesn’t stop there. No, that’s just the beginning. Next there is an acceptance into a photo show, an invitation to join an online writing course with an amazing teacher, Em’s delightful taunting temptations to cross the big pond, and then, so exquisitely random, a super-talented musician in Australia lands upon a drawing of a lion I did and wants to use it to accompany his beautiful song about his daughter –

In whatever form it takes…
It sure as heck feels like abundance…
Beaming with gratitude…
photoThese were done with the Skyview app
Weekly Photo Challenge – Ephemeral

cloud edge of mountain as blue

Ephemeral Flight

clouds tiny bird going up cool ice fxThe swallows series is currently floating somewhere out here in a blown out bluish world of towering clouds and little detail.
After much time spent experimenting with photoshop and printing, walking the aisles of art shows and talking to other artists, the cool abstract mostly-white field as an indicator of flight is beginning to appeal.
Shots that, in earlier incarnations were grainy black and white images –
clouds tiny birds b&w square grainyHave become somewhat amorphous hints at sky / clouds / bird.clouds tiny birds w cool ice fxEven the shots of endless sky and cloud, rich in black and white contrast – cloud edge of mountain slvrfxHave become airy, ephemeral, feathery blue images –
cloud edge of mountain as blueI’m starting to get itchy to get out and see some of that sky for myself…
Yay spring!
Weekly Photo Challenge – Ephemeral

ice, beaches in march 2

Big lake, big thaw, splash of orange

Seven degrees today and everyone was out, the streets bustling again after so many cold quiet weeks and months.
Early in the morning I felt the pull down to the beach, down to the water, some deep hankering need to see the lake.ice, beaches in march 5Sigh….YES.  That expanse of water, so big it only freezes along the edges, the ice now melting and breaking off into mini-icebergs.ice, beaches in march 4What is it about large bodies of water that are so powerful, so enchanting?ice, beaches in march 7I lingered as long as I could, taking photos of nothing in particular, thinking again how photography is really just an excuse for other things – an excuse to be outside, an excuse to talk to people, a means to an end…
Wandering further down the beach there were more people, some of them exploring a series of architecture student installations, strange colourful creations around empty lifeguard posts.ice, beaches in march 1 w orange thingyOthers were walking their dogs.  One orange dog bounded happily down the beach and into the water, only to stop short as the iciness hit his legs and made him think again –ice, beaches in march w dogPoor fellow.
I thought immediately of another photo I had from the summer, of a dog bounding in just so, at precisely this same location, but his happiness was entirely unmitigated.
dog at beach, iphoneWeekly Photo Challenge – Orange

divebomber pink clouds

One Four, Two Four, Flying High

cloud line middle clrfxThere’s a few in this swallows series that I keep coming back to, experimenting with.
I can’t always tell if they’re really salvageable at all are not, but keep trying different approaches to see what might work.
This guy is kinda fun with the dramatic clouds that are easy to bring forth in black and white, but there’s not a lot of light on the bird, so the faintest hints of detail get lost –
cloud line middle slvrfxAnd then this fellow below is only a silhouette, but I love him for the sense of movement, the drama of the light behind the clouds, the bird hurtling towards it – divebomb square heading to sun glowAnd then I think maybe that could be even more interesting in an exaggerated sunset colour scheme –divebomb square heading to sun sunsetThe next one seems to work in many guises – as a dreamy, floating above the clouds kind of innocent character – sharp single bird clrfxOr as a film noir mysterious and foreboding villain –
sharp single bird b&wWhich are your favourite birds, dear reader?
One Four Challenge, Week 2

orange sunrise swan wide

Orange thoughts

full on orange stamenOhhhhh how I long for the days to be warm again…
When flowers grow everywhere in brilliant exigent colours,
When swans float gently silently alone in the morning’s rays,orange sunrise swan squareWhen the heat beats down on us from the great ball of fire in the sky, and we don’t need furnaces and fires and electrical heaters to keep us warm…new year flames exp4And when the orange demon spawn who resides with us can once again play outside…orange catWeekly Photo Challenge – Orange

square single sharp bird dreamy clouds clrfx EXP1

One Four Challenge – March Mélange

square single lower right descent clrfx EXP1Digging back into the swallows in flight series got me thinking about different ways to process these photos.
There are a few different considerations, but first off, I think I’m happy working with the square shape for now, so the questions are all about colour or black and white, hazy clouds or sharp detail, trippy colour effects or staid classical photography.
swallow square centerFor example, the slight differences between these two versions of this shot is mostly about a glow effect in the one below. I kind of like the lo-fi lack of detail, and the hint of dreaminess that comes with the glow.square single center cloudburst clrfxOne of my challenges, if I approach these as a series, is that some of these were done very early on when I’d just gotten my first digital camera, and the quality of the original files is pretty primitive. But some of my favourite shots are from those early days – just luck with weather and light – swallow upper centerOthers were taken later on, when I’d learned a few more camera settings, so the whites aren’t as blown out, and the files give me a lot more latitude to work with – I don’t need to rely so much on a more lo-fi aesthetic.sharp bird in vague cloudsAnyways, through March I’m thinking to continue working on these, perhaps focusing less on one photograph processed different ways, but looking at them as a group of similar things, and trying different processing on the whole series.
I do hope you’ll share your thoughts.
One Four Challenge – March

square tiny bird big clouds

Flight Rewards

IMG_0597The door to my studio is always open, so people will stop in and make remarks – the reward of leaving the door open…
Yesterday it was one of my neighbours commenting on the photo of the bird in flight, blown up onto a canvas.
“Is that a marlin?”, he asked.
A man who knows his birds.
It is, in fact, a swallow, but we got to talking about birds and their behaviours – he’d done some time trapping and tagging marlins, and I’d spent lots of time photographing these swallows –swallow square right tiltSo I was telling him about how the swallows would come out and dart around in the sky, flipping and flitting around in arcs and circles.
This one day in particular there were so many of them out in the sky – a jubilant party – I’d taken hundreds of photographs.
“Eating bugs?”, he suggested – the most likely reason for swallows to be out and around – feeding.swallow square rightYou would think, I agreed, a distinct possibility.
But the things is, the winds were so high, a storm creeping in slowly from the west, the blasts of air bringing the clouds closer and closer so intense, that it actually wasn’t a buggy moment at all. All bugs had been swept away, so the birds were just out, riding the waves of wind, purely for pleasure, for play, sometimes even flying upside down – swallow square upside downPeople often ask me if this photo is the wrong way round, cause the shape of the bird appears to be belly-up, but that is what the bird was doing, circling around on gusts of air.
Similarly, I could see my marlin-tracking neighbour was skeptical that the birds would be out in numbers without a purpose, without clear, obvious reward.square b&w silhouette bird left slvrfxBut, seriously? Flying for pleasure?
Isn’t that reward enough?
I mean, look at this world they live in –
swallow square tiny in big cloudsIf you could fly way way up into the clouds, for the sheer joy of feeling the air beneath your wings, and the view as you soar up into the clouds…square towering clouds tiny bird
cloud channel slvrfx
cloud hill slvrfx
cloud edge of mountain slvrfxWouldn’t that be reward enough?cloud tower tiniest bird slvrfxWeekly Photo Challenge – Reward
More photos here.

circling as square exp 3

One Four Challenge – versions 3 & 4

Last week I was on the road, so this week I’ve got 2 new versions of this photo for the challenge, and have taken them both in the square direction, continuing to experiment with this composition element.circling as square almost b&wThis first one I tried to go for a kind of bleached, vintagey, almost black and white look, since the first black and white version had seemed to offer a lot of action via contrast.
Here is week two’s black and white –
circling b&w slvrfxAnd then, looking for ways to retain more of the colour, the other thing I tried was a variation on the bleachy concept to retain the contrast, but with lots of saturated vintage-type colour.circling as square vintageyThe first vintage look I’d tried in week one was darker, less saturated, and with quite a different colour-cast – circling, vintage edit wtrmrkAnd again the original photo – circling basic lightroomWould love to hear your preferences!
About colour or not, and also about shape. How do you like the squares?