This series is an ongoing yearly winter project that takes me to the harsh granite coastal barrens which are marked by pockets of brackish ice pools, briny air, windswept vegetation and little protection from the elements. Inevitably, mucking about and exploring around in this area always means wet feet and frozen limbs.
This is an area I hold close to my heart, for it is also the crash site locality of SwissAir Flight 111 that crashed on Sept 2, 1998 and claimed the lives of 229 people. That horrific night and the weeks following are forever etched in my mind - the anguish and sorrow, but also the strength and compassion of people. My father's remains are buried off the coast here and in many ways this project is a tribute to him and the many others whose lives have been senselessly cut short.
These images display ice forms in depth, colour, and detail with both reflective and refractive properties.
This is a harsh landscape, but it is in its fine impermanent details of textural and structural beauty that I find quiet contemplation and solace.
ice spheres #2
ice sphere #3
ice spheres #4
ice texture #1
ice texture #2
seaweed in ice #1
chondrus crispus (Irish moss) in ice
seaweed in ice #2
seaweed in ice #3
Agarum or Devil's apron seaweed frozen in ice
The word impression can have many meanings. In my photography, it is a double edged sword. Making an impression is very different than finding, and photographing an impression! Coming from a part of the world where one’s images need to shout to be heard, seemingly goes against an ingrained quiet and thoughtful approach to creative expression.
This project of ‘impressions’ is meant to express the possibility of discovery. My initial first impression of a subject is one without conscious thought. It is intuitive and guided by being mindful in the present surroundings. Nature’s processes leave us many impressions to discover for ourselves, when we take the time to notice.
March melt #1
March melt #2
All the images in this ongoing series were taken inland in wetlands, woodland puddles or alongside rivers and brooks. The multitude of ice forms are driven by a variation in temperature, trapped air, and ice thickness. Some of the most remarkable ice forms occur after a rapid freeze below -10C following heavy rains between November and April. These variations produce a wonder of ice forms resembling an explosion of pattern and mosaic textures.
snowflakes on ice
shady ice mosaic
ice geometry - Nature's mathematics
Ice can be a complex phenomenon that produces many unique geometric shapes based on differences in environmental conditions and location.
Most commonly, I see lines, triangles, and circles. Wonderful circular shapes in ice are trapped air coming out of solution held and frozen in place by surrounding ice.
I often wonder if Wassily Kandinsky's circular shapes in his paintings were inspired by observing ice formations.
triangles & dots
circles & lines
nature's cursive writing
Ice can take on poetic imaginative designs almost like its own creative lines of writing. These are thin sheets of ice expanding over shallow wetlands usually after flooding from heavy rains followed by rapid freeze.
ice poetry #1
ice poetry II
ice poetry III
ice poetry IV
ice poetry V
Nature's ice map
Wonderful ice crystals dot surfaces beginning in October if we are lucky. It's only then that the temperature falls below freezing given there is enough humidity and difference in surface temperatures.
The thrill of discovering blankets of swirling feather frost adorning surfaces in the early morning hours is difficult to walk past without admiring the delicate detail.
morning window frost
When I first began making images, I know I was drawn to straight reflections and the basic symmetry that reflections made against a river bank. Over time, I've been inspired by experimenting with camera settings and light until the image almost resembles an impressionist style of painting or liquid metal.
The images that I feel are the most successful, are the ones with hidden textures of leaves and creatures beneath or show flowing patterns of colour on the surface.
reflection & whirls
autumn tapestry #1
autumn tapestry #2
Nova Scotia is almost completely surrounded by water so it is just about impossible to avoid photographing water motion some of the time. I much prefer compositions that show a certain amount of motion. Experimenting with exposures until there is just enough structure in the water can produce a painterly effect. Often times there are even pleasant surprises like finding slow moving whirlpools of foam, or coniferous needles that are best rendered with a slow exposure.
flow & oak
The peak brook series contain images made from May to October when I travel through boggy wetlands that drain the interior of the province. Exploring in wetlands by foot is easier in warmer seasons although it is not uncommon to be engulfed in clouds of blackflies and mosquitoes when you stop to make images. The supernatural water colours are a result of dissolved organic matter, such as peat, humus, and plant debris in the water that produces a range in colour from brown, yellow, to brilliant red. The wispy textures in the images are produced from slow exposures capturing swirls of foam in the brooks. This foam is a naturally occurring plant saponin (surfactant) which is a soapy substance that acts to aid a plant's immune system in its fight against attack from disease.
Experimenting comes naturally when you are curious about light, textures, and movement in photography. So finding a corner of the house for experiments perfectly satisfies the curiosity on days when getting outdoors is unlikely.
1. An early experiment involved growing anisotropic crystals from various chemical solutions using magnesium, sucrose, and phosphates and the solution then precipitated on glass slides. Using cross polarized sheets and a circular polarized filter on my macro lens, I experimented with the optical properties of birefringence (orientation differences in refractive indices).
2. I attempted to photograph large bubbles (10-15 cm diameter) from soapy solutions and glycerin and that was entertaining enough for one afternoon.
3. Mushrooms were collected for eating and mushroom spore printing. Large lactarius mushrooms with a milky fluid were the ones that worked best for images. Their fine white spores printed with a fluid texture on black paper and then photographed.
4. An unexpected kitchen experiment involved swirling bacon fat in the roasting pan. It became a swirling galaxy of fat and bacon bits!
Still life photography is a genre of photography that has taken me a long time to improve on. I carefully select subjects with interesting details on my wanderings. I prefer a simple black background to highlight natural patterns, lines, form, and structures of the subjects without other distracting elements. Recently I have been inspired by the works of Tom Baril, Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn, and Karl Blossfeldt.
A place for snaps. I've often thought of iPhone imagery as being too convenient and rushed, but now I see that it also has a small place in my workflow. My best use for my iPhone is to fix a memory or idea in the mind for safe keeping when the 'big' DSLR camera is not carried along. The images placed in this series are images with ideas I want to expand on in future work when there is more time and the conditions are optimal.
granite & maple
frost window swirls
morning garden frost
bark & light
Edge of Tide
The rhythmic action of the tide brings natural order that seems random and unpredictable. It leaves traces that only last between one tide and the next. The only thing certain is change and seeing things anew every day.