Monday, August 31, 2009

Dead Camera

flickr photo

Augh! I dropped my canon powershot in the ocean on Friday. It doesn't look as bad as the above photo but I'm wondering if there is any hope in getting it to work again. My friends suggested I bury the camera in rice to dry it out which I did but after a couple of days it still doesn't turn on. Any suggestions?

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Single Thought, A Single Path

I took this shot on a hidden path among the vineyards just outside Vienna.

"A single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives".
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Right to Bear Cameras

From Not A Crime Flickr Pool

I spent a little time looking for more information about people's experiences with the police while trying to shoot photos in public places. There seem to be many more incidents in The United States and United Kingdom. There is a lot of useful information that explains the laws and your rights as a photographer. People have published this information in convenient formats so that you can easily tuck it into your camera bag. In the UK the bust card has been widely distributed to help photographers and in The States Bert Krages has published the Photographer's Right. In Canada the most useful resource I found was a collection of laws by Ambient Light. One of the more controversial policies I discovered was Duncan's decision to impose a royalty fee for photographers taking pictures of totem poles in the city. This policy contravenes the copyright act that states: Copyright Act, 32.2. (1): It is not an infringement of copyright (b) for any person to reproduce, in a painting, drawing, engraving, photograph or cinematographic work (i) an architectural work, provided the copy is not in the nature of an architectural drawing or plan, or (ii) a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship or a cast or model of a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship, that is permanently situated in a public place or building.

People's perceptions of public, private and 'high security' spaces reflect a broad spectrum of understanding. Personally, I am very conscious of determining what is acceptable in any space before taking out my camera. Given Canada's poor reputation for supporting its citizens when they are travelling overseas I am especially cognisant of my behaviour and interactions when I am in foreign countries. For me this means my camera stays in the bag even when I think I have the chance to take an amazing shot. I always ask permission to take photos although I wouldn't think of it in a field of tulips (see V's comment in last post). When I was in Bangkok there was an incident in which police swarmed a metro station platform where I was standing. It was quite an amazing sight. The police surrrounded a man standing close to me. I instinctively stepped into the next train that stopped even though it wasn't the train I was waiting for because I just knew I didn't want to get swept up in the furor that quickly ignited around me. I guess I could have quickly snapped a shot but is my personal safety and freedom to explore a place I may never see again worth a picture?

I am also not convinced that it is my exclusive right to take photos in public spaces. My understanding of the word, 'public' includes my responsibility to respect other people's perceptions of acceptable interactions which may exclude the use of a camera or any other recording device. I'm still thinking through this issue. What do you think about photography, filming or any other recording in public spaces? Is it an inherent part of our freedom of expression?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm a photographer not a terrorist

In the February 2009 Section 76 of the New Anti Terrorism Act became law in The United Kingdom. This permits the arrest of anyone who may be found to be "eliciting, publishing or communicating information" relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".(BBC News)
In the UK there have been widespread reports of people being harassed and/or searched for taking pictures in public places and in areas deemed to be 'high security' including bus stations and government offices. The British Journal of Photography has started a flickr campaign entitled, "Not A Crime" to increase awareness of these restrictions on shooting photos in public. Photographers are invited to shoot and post self portraits holding a sign with the words, "Not a crime" or "I'm not a terrorist" Some very creative conceptions are illustrated in this social media protest. I've never been hassled for taking photos in any place I have travelled. Have you been stopped, questioned, or searched for taking photos in public?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Potash Pete

Potash Pete stands proudly across the street from the steak pit and just down the road from Dairyville. Apparently Saskatchewan is famous for its roadside monuments. In fact the Province boasts the world's largest, bunnock, white tail deer and woolly mammoth. You can travel to seventy towns in Saskatchewan to see larger than life statues depicting Santa Claus, kangaroo rats, a Massey combine and even prehistoric creatures. If you cannot sojourn to these places in person then read about these wonders in the book "Larger Than Life" by Robin and Arlene Karpan. Public art on the island is so boring compared to Potash Pete and his compadres. We have The Commerce Canoe and my favourite, The Mattresses as well as Pavilion Rock and Shell (aka paper, rock and scissors). But we have nothing approachable like Potash Pete. We need a monument for the masses preferably erected on the expansive green lawn of the Empress Hotel.
What could it be?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What is a steak pit?

The dining options were somewhat eclectic in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. One of the hot spots on the main drag was the Beverage Room and Steak Pit. No, I'm lying. I never saw anyone enter or leave this Beverage Room and Steak Pit premises so I did not dare to enter the establishment myself.
What is a Steak Pit? I've heard of a Steak House, A Chop House, A Sizzler, A Smoke House but a Steak Pit? Does the chef slaughter and skin the animal right in front of the diners before throwing the carcass on an open fire pit? The good news is I have an opportunity to return to Esterhazy by September 22 to defend a speeding ticket I received and discover the true Steak Pit experience.
The other dining option was Dairyville with its vintage sign and original spelling convention. I just couldn't work past the fear of eating a hamb
erger so I feasted on ice cream instead. At least I think it was ice cream...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prairie Paradise

I'm still savouring my recent trip to Saskatchewan. Its opulent simplicity feels like a feather bed for the soul. It seems fitting to quote David Bouchard while I illustrate my impressions of the place where my ancestors eked out an existence with the volatile climate. I discovered that when the wind storms blew away the soil on my great grandfather's farm he and his wife and three children walked away from the land they had tried to tame and he took up the trade of a stonemason at the age of 55.

They started their life again by making their home in a silo on the Shackleton farm just outside of Kennedy, Saskatchewan. My great grandfather found work with the stonemasons constructing the Moose Mountain Resort. He also worked on many of the stone structures that furnish the popular resorts such as the Banff Springs Hotel and the Jasper tourist centre.

My grandmother soon realized there were few opportunities for her and she moved to Vancouver in 1938. My grandfather Shackleton followed her out West and proposed to her when he stepped off the train in Vancouver. He always emphasized that he purchased a ticket to ride inside the train rather than 'ride the rails' as many were forced to do in order to find employment.

We are the only branch that came out West. My entire grandfather's Shackleton family has remained on the prairies. We returned this month to celebrate my Great Aunt's 100th birthday.

I took these photos on the road between Esterhazy and Yorkton~just before I received a speeding ticket!

Words by David Bouchard, "If You're Not From The Prairie"

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Swimming in Canola

Just arrived back from a spectacular journey through southern Saskatchewan. More pics and reflections about this beautiful place in the following days.