photography (n.) from Gk. "photo" meaning light, and Gk. "graphy" meaning draw


Photo essay: Autumn colours in Port Alberni

Well, I set up the structure for this blog two years ago, but haven’t done much with it. That’s mainly because I’ve been focussing more on my writing than my photography these last couple of years. This spring I finished my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at UBC! So the photography I have been doing lately has been more on the fly, carrying a little point-and-shoot (The Panasonic Lumix LX-5 – it’s actually far more than a point-and-shoot, with its Leica optics, full exposure compensation, and ability to save RAW files) on my runs and hikes.

But the other day, my partner Dave and I got out on one of our favourite running trails, the Roger’s Creek Nature Trail in Port Alberni, Vancouver Island (where we live) to do a “real” photo shoot. My first time having an assistant to carry my tripod! I have to say, it was really enjoyable to go back to moving slowly through the forest, taking the time to get things truly right for each shot – and Dave really enjoyed the slow pace and peacefulness too!

So here is one shot from that session – for more, check out the pictures I posted to our running blog: Photo essay: Autumn colours in full display along Port Alberni’s Roger’s Creek Nature Trail

Photo: Driftwood logs on beach, Vargas Island, Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia

Now this is exciting…

One of the most gratifying things for a photographer is seeing your images printed large. Well, for years I’ve wanted to get started doing giclée prints (that’s when a photographic image is printed on canvas). I’ve finally done my first two, through photographer Mark Penney at the Mark Penney Gallery in Ucluelet.

And they look great!

It is very interesting, selecting which prints to do as a giclée. Because those that look great as a standard photographic print may not look so great on canvas – I’m thinking of images where the sharpness is really important, such as some wildlife images e.g. bears and eagles.

But for images that already have a more painterly feel – which is what I strive for in my landscape photography, trying to get something that, even though it is a photo, feels more artistic, like a painting – well, a giclée can be simply stunning.

This was really brought home to me last year when I saw a photo of two bald eagles sitting in trees, taken by Ucluelet photographer Don Osborne. I first saw it as a standard photographic print and thought, “Hmm, it’s nice, but the eagles are kind of small…” Then I saw his giclée of the same print – it is absolutely beautiful!

Somehow, in the flat photographic print, the expectation is sharp wildlife – and to me, the small eagles and somewhat misty lighting in the trees disappointed. But put that same photo on canvas, and suddenly it doesn’t matter that the eagles are small because it is the whole image that you are looking at, not just the eagles. And the canvas texture emphasizes the mistiness of the image, giving it a very artistic feel: it feels like an oil painting.

So, the lesson is (to me, anyway): select carefully how and why you print each image. This image above is one that I took several years ago, on slide. I’ve always liked it, and I printed cards of it a few years back – but it never really felt like the kind of image that would be worth printing as a large photographic print for framing. But when I started thinking “giclée”, it was one of the first images that came to mind.

And, I just viewed the first print last week. Honestly, it looks great. And seeing it for the first time at 24″x36″ yielded a few happy surprises too. Both the original slide and the scan-quality are so sharp that there is a lot of detail in the image that even I didn’t know was there – lots of fine ripples in the sand in the foreground (which you won’t see in this web-resolution image) that really stand out.

So I am excited about this. There will be more giclées coming!

New galleries hang my photos

Photo: Wild Pacific coast, Vargas Island – Clayoquot Sound UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, British Columbia

Coming back from Vancouver with 34 framed photographs… well, I stopped at several galleries on the way home and managed to spread them out.

I love having the pictures up in my house, too – but much better that they are out there for the public to see. That’s what it’s all about, right?

So, as of this week, here are the galleries that carry my work:

Wickaninnish Inn (Chestermans Beach)
Cedar Corner Gallery (upstairs at 4th and Campbell)
Tofino Botanical Gardens Artist Cooperative

Mark Penny Gallery (Main Street)

Port Alberni:
Clock Tower Gallery (at Harbour Quay)

My Vancouver show winds up

Photo: Sea lions basking on a rock, offshore of Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island

I’ve just returned from Vancouver, and unpacked the 34 photos that were on display there. (Here’s a sneak peak of what I was showing).

This was my third solo photography show, this one at the West Vancouver Memorial Library, for two months – June 1st through July 28th, 2010. These things are expensive to put together – the costs of all the printing and framing, not to mention the time involved (framing, packing for transport, and travel).

But they are gratifying, too. It’s a great feeling seeing my images printed large and displayed well. And it’s wonderful getting people’s reactions to my work!

That’s what I do this for. For years, my images sat around packed up in slide boxes, and no one saw them at all. But every time I click that shutter, it’s not because I want to capture that moment for me, to store away somewhere so I can look it up if need be. It’s because I saw something that I wanted to share.

Once I started publishing and displaying my work, it felt that all those years of hard work – serious alone time, slogging through the forests and slinking along the shorelines, stalking that elusive animal or awaiting the capriciousness of the light – were finally paying off. For the last ten years, I have been able to share my work with the world, through my publications and through shows like this.

Here is a list of my past and present solo shows:

Silk Purse Gallery, West Vancouver, “Clayoquot: The Wild Edge” November 13-25 2001

Café Pamplona, Tofino Botanical Gardens, Tofino, April 1-30 2002

Westfalisches Museum für Naturkunde, Muenster, Germany, “Into the Light”, September 2005 – October 2006

West Vancouver Memorial Library, West Van, June 1 – July 28 2010

Wickaninnish Inn, Chestermans Beach, Tofino, 2001 – on-going

About time… redoing my photography website.

Photo: Pacific white-sided dolphin, photographed offshore, west of Vancouver Island.

Well, for those of you who know me already, you’ve probably seen my main website

But this new website is long overdue. I was a professional photographer long before I started writing and broadcasting – but that main website showcases very little of my photography. With this new site, I’m coming back to my roots as a photographer, and getting some more of my work online.

And for those of you who don’t know me, I am a photographer based in Tofino, Vancouver Island. The main focus of my photographic work are outdoors themes, ranging from wilderness and wildlife, to ecotourism and adventure travel, to indigenous cultures around the world. Places I tend to spend time in include western Canada, South America (especially Patagonia, southern Chile) and Australia.

My photos have been published in books, magazines and newspapers around the world, as well as in three of my own books (one of which is a Canadian best-seller).

I’ll be adding to this site over the coming weeks, gearing up for an official launch in September. So please keep checking back, as I work towards getting more of my images posted, and getting more information up here about me and the type of work I do.