Like all pleasant surprises, I didn’t know this quarter was being harvested until I arrived. It’s been more than a couple years since I have been home during harvest time. I forgot the number of hours, hard work, and the science behind it. I sat in awe as the modern day combines lit up the old thrasher machine from the past. I was reminded it is more than just hours on a combine that go into making the operation work. It’s the breakdown, the repair time, hauling the grain, it’s the meals eaten in the field, it’s the mechanic being called in at ten pm on a Sunday night for parts, and it’s the weather. The hail, the smoke blocking the rays of the sun preventing the wheat from ripening, the humidity during harvest time, and the now possible early frost are only some of the challenges faced this year. Along with the hours of long work and sleepless nights there is also a sense of connection. Connection to the land, to the food we eat, to family, friends, and neighbours. Many would debate the seed of civilization is computer technology, others would disagree. Others would argue it is farming. Without farming we would still be hunting and gathering without time for anything else. If you have ever grown even a handful of tomato plants in your back yard, you know there is more food than you could eat. In other words you have a surplus of food. Even in the early days of farming there was enough to store, trade, as well as eat. Therefore not everyone had to grow food. This allowed the non-farmers to do other things. Make tools, build homes, and today continue to create new innovation, driving civilization forward.
This homestead has been in my family for three generations. My dad, aunts and uncles all played here when they were kids. Even though it has been in my family for some time, everyone still refers to it as the Lang place. The Lang’s owned this homestead many years before my family did. There once was four buildings standing in this location. Now only two remain. It also happens to be my new favourite place. The colour of this side of the one building is a big part of why it is my favourite, the view inside is also pretty amazing. It is hiding in plain sight, and it takes a bit of effort to get there. It is back off of the road, away from traffic. The first time I made a visit here, it was with my uncle. He drove me out this past spring while he and I toured the crops, drove through the cows, and he shared with me pieces of a childhood he shared with my dad. The places that they played, and their most special haunts. When I made a trip out this past weekend, I couldn’t help but wonder what life was like for the Lang family, what THEY were like, where they came from, and the history of the place. When the buildings were built, when the two fell down.
I was heading West with hopes to capture a photograph I have had in mind for some time. A photograph where the fall colours and full moon are both subjects, limiting the number of days the envisioned photograph to be captured. Driving down the number one highway, I caught a glimpse of this gorgeous structure in my rear view mirror. Of course I pulled over. I captured this image and sat in my car on the side of the road thinking "What do I do now?" Do I continue West with the clouds creeping in and hope the skies will clear for the shot I envisioned? Or do I turn around and chase this beautiful structure and go of some beautiful cloud to ground strikes with the full moon lighting up the foreground? I chose to turn around go for the cloud to grounds, structure, moonlight in the background, and if I was really lucky I would be able to find something cool in the foreground. Between the darkness, traffic, and a less than desirable road network I fell behind the storm. I didn't get the shot that I desired. It's not that I made a bad choice, what is important is that I made one. The choice to return home opened up another choice. Whether or not it works out, that has yet to be determined ;) Life is kinda like that. When travelling along your chosen course, options, obstacles, and opportunities will arise, and you are faced with another possible choice.
This definitely falls under the category of art more so than photography. You may have seen the majority of the photo before. I use it for my email, and social media. The person in this photograph is me. My mom took this photograph of me back in 2016 on the night of the summer solstice supermoon in the Cypress Hills. The moon is from tonight. September 25, 2018. I have wanted to create this for over two years. It took me just under two years of doing photography to gather the skills in camera to capture the moon, and about the same time to be able to create this edit in post. We seem to forget that the masters in any field were apprentices when they started. No matter your field of interest, practice makes the master.
Some tips for stepping into the art of night photography.
I often get asked photography questions. Night photography questions specifically. "What kind of camera do I need? How do I take photos at night?" The wisest piece of advice I have ever received is have the right equipment, but more importantly know why you need it. It is also good to know what you plan on doing with the images after you capture them. If you have decided to get into night photography a headlamp, a good tripod, the right memory card, and a compass (not an app, a real compass) are always good investments. A headlamp because holding a flashlight where you need the light along with all of your other gear is a hassle that is unnecessary. The right memory card for the job keeps the shoot moving (avoiding waiting for your data to write to the card, as well as decreasing download times IF you will be working with large files. There are a lot of different tripods, at many price points. Just because you spend a lot of money on a tripod doesn't mean it is a quality tripod (I found that out the hard way). A real compass comes in handy during the planning/ scouting phase. The real, hold in your hand, use the magnetism of the Earth compasses are far more accurate than an app or augmented reality planning apps. (again ask me how I know this.)
It is completely possible to use a paid app to capture pictures on your smart phone at night. If you decide to use your photos just to post on social media, this is an economical option. If you would like to take your photography to the next level and print them, you will likely be disappointed with smart phone photography. Even if you wish to print them you then have to decide if you will stick to what I call the purist path, capturing only single images, or if composites be your thing. Photography is a large art form. Even night photography can be broken down into night portraits, city scapes, aurora, landscapes, and deep space photography. Each category of night photography may require additional specialized equipment. Once you have decided what you want to shoot at night, what you want to do with your photographs and you chose to use a DLSR or mirrorless camera, get comfortable with it in manual mode. Be comfortable changing the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Once you are comfortable with changing those settings, practice changing those settings in the dark. (in your house or backyard is fine). Once you are comfortable step outside into the wonderful world of night photography! Getting started is the hardest part. Please feel free to share this information with anyone who is interested in stepping into night photography. Workshops are also available for those looking to learn more.
"Love was never absent from our life. It didn't go anywhere. It was never less present for us to access or experience. It was and continues to be ever present, all around us. We simply allowed our awareness of it to diminish."-Brendan Burchard.
Thank you again to Bassano arts council for organizing Bassano Damfest and culture days. My parents often spoke of a time when they were young when life was focused on community. Community was brought together by dances, and art. This past Saturday allowed me to experience a time they spoke so highly of. I am excited to see hometown gatherings centred around music, and art are once again becoming more common.
While I was back home I had the pleasure of photographing this amazing barn. It was once host to community barn dances, and other social gatherings. Through conversations with my family, my own ancestors once lived on this homestead many, moons ago. My aunt told me stories of how she played there for hours with my dad and her other siblings. My favourite thing about photographing old buildings back in my home town is learning the history behind it.
I recently returned form attending the salmon run celebrations in British Columbia. The salute to the sockeye salmon is a festival held once every four years on dominant years. There is a larger return of salmon to the spawning grounds on dominant years. After the salmon spawn, that is the end of their life cycle. Their remains fertilize the ecosystem. Salmon remains are counted each morning by fisheries officials to deter people from removing the remains in an effort to keep their property tidy, but also to deter them being removed for bait. The breakdown of the salmon remains is key to keeping the ecosystem in balance. The eggs that are not eaten by brook trout hatch (Alevins) hatch in the spring. Alevins are small fish with the yolk sac still attached. After a couple of months they are now classified as fry. Fry move into Shuswap Lake where they spend a year of their life. At the one year mark they travel to the ocean where they spend three years. They then return to their spawning grounds where they themselves spawn and parish.
Many believe the word "salmon" comes from the Latin word salmon or satire, which means "to leap".