Time Well Spent.

What’s that saying about March? In like a lion, out like a lamb…. The lion carried over into parts of April I think. Life’s been a little hectic here lately, I’ve missed several weeks of blogging and reading my favourite blogs. Our kids have had my wife and I hopping. Gymnastics, hockey and fencing tournaments  put us on the road a lot the past month. The sports are now done for the summer and there a few more trophies on the mantle, so it’s all been time well spent with the family.

Here on the East Coast of Canada the snow is melting and what’s left is pretty dirty, the grass is brown and the potholes in the road are swallowing cars. The drive the grocery store is now an Olympic event; The Slalom pothole road race. Spring has sprung. With all of this going on I’ve stayed pretty close to home, but that’s been a good thing. I’ve found a few new areas to explore while I’ve revisited some familiar places.

I was out yesterday morning for a walk on the beach by my house and although it was misty and grey I came home really inspired because I found a new part of the coastline with a tremendous view of a two small islands that I’m anxious to revisit when the weather cooperates. Even though I haven’t been able to get away on a road trip for a while, the last few weeks have been good for me and my photography. It’s forced me to slow down, get creative and think outside the box. I feel re-energized with a new sense of excitement.

I’m looking forward to the rest of spring and summer and a few day trips in the coming months but for the next few weeks I’ll continue enjoy the sights close to home. Sometimes a stay-cation can be just as beneficial as a vacation.

Torrent

“Torrent”

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Happy New Year

I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best in 2013! I would also like to say thank you for all your kind words, comments and encouragement over the past 12 months.

I thought for my first blog in 2013 I would share a few images that I’ve taken over the past month and include some inspirational quotes to help get your year off to a good start.

Hope you enjoy.

"Surf and Snow" - Saints Rest Beach, Saint John, New Brunswick.

“The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.”
― Isak Dinesen

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”― Oscar Wilde

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.Charles R. Swindoll

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
Charles R. Swindoll

"Can you see God? You haven't seen him? I've never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I've never seen the wind. There's a mystery to it." Billy Graham
“Can you see God? You haven’t seen him? I’ve never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind. There’s a mystery to it.” Billy Graham

NY State Of Mind

I’m not usually a news watcher but this week I was compelled to watch. Like many of us, I followed the path of Hurricane Sandy and the devastation that was left behind, especially in New York and other parts of the northeastern United States. I’ve spent a fair amount of time since the storm reminiscing about my first visit to New York City in 2005. I can vividly recall strolling through some of the areas hardest hit. I suddenly felt like “my problems” were insignificant relative to those that had just suffered the damaged done by this horrendous storm.

Some of New York’s finest in action.

Perhaps it was too much television, but when I was younger I thought of New York as a dirty and scary city, full of crime and people who wouldn’t give you the time of day. During my visit it became very evident just how wrong I was. Leaving a city of around 80,000 in Canada and finding my way to a city of 8 million proved to be more difficult than I anticipated, but the NY showed me how great of a host it can be.

Staten Island Bridge from the Shore Parkway in Brooklyn

The night I arrived to NY city in 2005 it was dark, close to midnight and maybe sleep deprivation had set in which caused me to take a wrong exit. After an hour or so trying to find my way around I decided to ask a police officer for directions. When I drove up next to the officer and explained what I was looking for and asked where I was he exclaimed “You’re in Harlem”. My first thought was “this is not good”. I politely (and slightly fearful) asked for some help getting back in the right direction. After what seemed like a five-minute explanation from the officer, I quickly said, “I don’t think that is going to work”. Sensing my tiredness or perhaps anxiety he offered to let me follow him to the correct borough.

Once back on the right path to Brooklyn I thanked my new-found friend and attempted the rest of the journey on my own. Obviously still looking confused in Brooklyn, a car pulled up next to me and the driver rolled down his window. He ask if I where I was trying to get to. I gave the name of the hotel and he said he was an off duty police officer and to follow him. Thank you NYPD x 2.

Corner of West 42nd St and 8th Ave

The majority of the five days and nights was spent working in Brooklyn but my coworkers who lived in the area did show me around parts of Staten Island, Manhattan and NJ in addition to my brief stopover in Harlem (although I didn’t plan that). Each day I was surprised by the hospitality shown to me by the people of NY. Not the cold, rude people who are stereotyped on TV. For my trip back home I decided to take one more drive through Manhattan by myself along with what felt like 1000’s of yellow cabs. I’m not sure if I would attempt to drive around Manhattan today, but back then after five days in the city I felt like I was among friends.

I still have many friends in NY city and around the surrounding area and I’m very relieved to hear that life is starting to slowly return to normal.  New York has shown incredible resilience over the years especially since 2001, and I know it will overcome Sandy too. You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers in the coming days.

The Photograph That Was Never Taken

As photographers, we’ve all likely said it at one time in our life, “I wish I had my camera right now!” It may have been while we were just walking the dog, driving to the grocery store or work. Our lives are so busy with things to do, it just isn’t possible to capture every moment in time, as much as we may want to. Even as recent as this past Saturday I had one of these moments.

The weather is very spontaneous here in New Brunswick. I woke up to rain on Saturday but by 8:30am it had cleared enough for me to head to a local nature park for a hike. I was able to spend an hour or so taking photographs before it started to rain again; and when the sky opened up, it poured. Later, after the rain stopped, my wife and I went for a drive so I could get some framing done. As we left our neighbourhood I saw the fog and steam rolling off the street. It was certainly an “I wish I had my camera moment.”  I looked around and saw many opportunities to create dreamy images. With my wife in the car and my oldest still at home babysitting his younger sisters, I thought it was best to get where we needed to go and get back home before sibling rivalry took over. Opportunity missed.

There have been several other occasions that I have wished I had my camera in my hands. Sometimes the moments are a spontaneous display of affection between all three of my children (rare!!) on a family outing or a once in a life time moment like taking a first step. Of course there are many photos that my wife and I have taken for family celebrations, our kid’s musicals, dramas and sporting events. These are the most important images that I have taken.

As a husband and father as well as a photographer there has to be a balance. Sometimes I have to make a choice when and where I take photographs that are just for me. Some of the photographs I haven’t taken have been by choice because there are some moments with my family that I won’t get to experience again. I’ll admit, sometimes I wish I had more time for my personal photography, but my kids are only young for a short period and the important moments in their lives only happen once. Redoes for these events aren’t an option.

Is there a photograph that you haven’t taken?

Give and Take (Nothing)

For many photographers the concept is fairly simple. Give me money and I’ll take your photograph or sell you one that I’ve taken. The idea of getting paid to take a photograph is not a new concept and quite often becomes the desire of many aspiring photographers, myself included. For some of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you might recall some of my recent posts when I have talked about wanting to do more with my photography and use it for a greater purpose. Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some research on organizations and individuals who are using their talents to take a photograph and get nothing in return. I thought I would pass along a list of organizations that have really impressed me. If you know of another concept or organization that I haven’t mentioned here please feel free to share back with me.

The Maple Leaf Mission is an organization based out of Edmonton Alberta whose mission is to provide portrait photography to families of individuals who are: facing a terminal illness, living with a debilitating illness yet demonstrates a life lived to the fullest, military families celebrating homecomings or deployment, soldiers returning injured from a tour. For more information on The Maple Leaf Mission visit http://themapleleafmission.ca/.

Help Portrait was started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. The concept is simple. Find families or groups who would like a portrait but can’t afford to have one taken. Single parents, underprivileged families, families affected by illness, army veterans, or just a neighbor. Go to http://help-portrait.com/ to learn more.

According to their website “Outside the Lens™ (OTL) is a San Diego-based youth media literacy program dedicated to celebrating the vision and voices of children around the world and across cultures. Students (K-12) tell their unique personal stories using photography, writing and other digital media forms while under the guidance of writers, poets, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, artists, and teachers.” I like this concept a lot. The idea of giving a young person a camera should help us see the world in a new perspective. Right now they are participating in a global photography project called Water in Focus which documents the use, waste, conservation and pollution of the world’s water supply. If you are interested in learning more about Outside the Lens visit them at http://www.outsidethelens.org/.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an organization that has really captured my attention for personal reasons. The mandate of NILMDTS is to help parents recover from the loss of a baby. This might seem like a morbid type of charity but for parents going through a very difficult situation it might be an important part of the healing process. For parents of stillborn babies, and babies that die shortly after birth a photograph might be the only thing they bring home from the hospital. Right now they have over 12000 volunteers in 40 different countries.

Photo Philanthropy is an organization that is all about social change. They connect photographers with non-profit organizations around the world. Projects may include environmental causes, social and economic situations in places like third world countries, or education on a variety of topics. If you are thinking about donating your talents to a cause this might be a good place to start.  You can connect with them at http://photophilanthropy.org/.

If you are interested in learning about more organizations to partner with you may want to look at the website http://shuttermission.org/ or do your own search on philanthropy and photography.

“From what we get, we can make a living;
what we give, however, makes a life.” –
Arthur Ashe

Running Water

“Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.” Mark 9:41 

This past Thursday, March 22nd was World Water Day. I was reminded to take a moment to appreciate where I live and be thankful for the easy access to water that I have. It took me a while, but I have come to really appreciate having a place next to the Atlantic Ocean and living in The Maritimes. Living where I do I’m very fortunate that I can see, hear, and smell the ocean right from my home.

During the week I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness, and at the same time wonder about the cruel irony in the stories I’ve read. In Africa there are 13 million people whose lives are in danger everyday because they lack the water they need to survive. Then, I read a story about a town, not far from me, that is facing a state of emergency because the spring thaw has caused a river to swell and flood out the residents.  Not enough water in one place and too much in another.

As a nature photographer I’m inspired by beauty of nature all around me and have a deep respect for the force it has. At the same time, like many others, I have a concern about the events that are happening around the world and the effects that they are having on those who are unable help themselves.  It was this concern that motivated my wife and I to make the decision to sponsor a little boy in a developing country. We wanted to make sure that something as simple as clean water was never going to be a concern to him.

World Water Day was a timely reminder for me that my photography is not just about making money, it`s about the message. As I have said before, it is my sincere hope as you view my images you marvel at God’s handiwork and take the time to appreciate and protect it. It was also a good reminder that it is not just enough to spread the message, but I have to live it.

Passion With Purpose

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. – Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m sitting in the Dulles Airport in Washington DC waiting for my flight home after taking part in a course in Virginia.  I’ve had a few moments to reflect on the time that I’ve spent here.  I arrived last Monday and fortunately I had time to take in some of the sights with some friends.    When asked where we wanted to go by our tour guide I immediately requested to stop and see the Lincoln Memorial.   Our drivers suggested since we were in the area that we might also be interested in the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.  I had no idea that a memorial even existed, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to visit.

Martin Luther King Jr. is someone that I have admired for quite some time.  His biography April 4th 1968 is a powerful book that shares so much insight into his life and purpose.  Those who follow me on Twitter will notice that I often quote him.  I find his words to be so full of wisdom and give me so much to contemplate about life.   He makes me think about my own life and my purpose.

His memorial is so surreal.  You enter the site and cross through a large opening in a boulder.  The piece that has been cut out is the stone that Martin Luther King Jr. has been carved into.   Surrounding the memorial is a granite wall with several of King’s most famous speeches.  You can’t help but stand there and be in awe.

I assume that all of us at one point in our lives have someone that we look up to.  I’ve had several mentors in many areas of my life.  Some have been close personal friends and almost parent-like to me.  Others I haven’t even met.  Martin Luther King Jr. is one of those people who I look up to but have never met.  Unfortunately he died before I was even born.

If you are ever in Washington DC, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is a must see.  The experience is not about the photographic opportunities. No photograph could do it justice.  It is solely about the experience of being as close as we’ll ever get to such a great individual; someone who changed the world.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a special man.  I can only hope that my passion allows me to accomplish a fraction of what he has done.

Perspective is everything

Everyone sees drama from his own perspective.
Jean-Marie Le Pen

Photography is all about perspective.  When a photographer creates an image they are saying “This is what I saw, and this is my perspective of what occurred”.  As a photographer I’m biased.  The images I create are telling a story, but from a one person point of view, mine.

Split Rock and Fog

When I’m out looking at a scene, very rarely do I take only one shot, unless it involves wildlife or an event that happens quickly.  I move around and look at different angles, sometimes farther back and sometimes it is higher or lower.  Quite often, I will use a different lens to change the way the finished image looks.   Usually, I have an idea in my mind of how I want the final photograph to look. Sometimes I don’t, so I just keep shooting until I feel like I’ve captured every possible angle.

Sunrise on Split Rock

There are very few places around the world that haven’t been photographed.  As I’ve studied photography as an art, I’m so amazed how the same location and same subject can be photographed in two different ways.  Two of my favorite photographers Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell have both photographed Yosemite’s El Capitan, yet they create such different images.

Split Rock Low Tide

I’ve shared that my favorite place along the Bay of Fundy to take photographs is a place called Split Rock.   Low tide, high tide, fog or sunny there are so many different images to capture. There are countless perspectives to help capture a powerful image. I embrace every opportunity to visit this absolutely amazing area.  Each time I go to this local paradise I look forward to creating a new image that I haven’t captured before.

A change in perspective can help us all; whether we are photographers or not.

Shine

Without light photography would be a lot less exciting, and as
photographers we depend on it. Sometimes there is too much light, other
times there is not enough.  Without it we have no image. Light can expose
the good and it can expose the bad.  Sounds a little like life.

When creating an image I find myself torn at times.  I’d like to think that
most of the time I’m creating a piece of art that will move or inspires the
viewer.  I have to admit it though, far too often I more concerned with how
the photograph will make me look.   Is the composition OK, do I have the
proper exposure, or what kind of a compliment will it generate?

There are also times that I lack inspiration (like in the winter).  The
possibilities are endless but being so familiar with the place I live there
are times I don’t as they say “see the forest for the trees”.   Maybe it’s
not even inspiration as much as it is imagination.   There are times it is
just easier to take a picture of something just for the sake of saying I
did.

I’m not sure who this is for or if it is even for anyone but me.  I’ve had
a rough week, and I have had some failures to endure; some photographically
for clients, some personally and some spiritually.   It’s all been a
journey and a learning experience.  Not pleasant experiences but they have
taught me so much.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Life is a journey and it is the light that
helps us to see the good and bad.  The mistakes we make are a path to
learning.   As a photographer I still have a lot to learn and I think most
of us, regardless of what we are seeking to do, could all likely say the
same thing.

Don’t let where you are determine where you want to be.

Friar’s Head, Campobello Island, New Brunswick

A Snow Day

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
George Washington Carver

Finally!  It has snowed.  This has been the brownest winter I think we have ever had.  Aside from a dusting at Christmas we really haven’t had much in the way of a major snowfall.   So when a storm hit the East Coast this past Friday, I knew how I was going to spend my Saturday morning.  The Kennebecasis Valley was going to be my destination. It is just east of Saint John, and offers so many opportunities with its winding rivers and rolling hills and of course the valleys as its name suggests.  My day started at 7:00 am with a quick stop for some fuel for both the car and me.   From there the journey began.

Ice Fishing @ Sunrise - Kennebecasis River, New Brunswick

I had some visions of what I was hoping to come home with as far as images from my day out.  There is a small town about 30 minutes past Saint John called Norton, and this would be my final destination.   Prior to getting there, I stopped to see my old stomping grounds in the Kennebecasis Valley where I spent most of my youth.  One of the areas I stopped to see in the town was a small ice fishing community.  The colors, shapes and sizes of the ice shacks made for a terrific panorama opportunity.

After I took a few shots from the wharf in front of the ice shacks that were lining the Kennebecasis River, I continued on to the town of Norton where I hoped to capture an image of the snow covered town. As much as I wanted, I couldn’t find the right lookout to capture the landscape of the town and the centerpiece, a church with its red roof. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.

Snow on Rocks - Kennebecasis River, New Brunswick

A little disappointed, but not dejected, I headed towards home.  I was about 15 minutes from home when I drove past the exit for Darlings Island and its covered bridge.  I decided to head into the village and see what I could find.  I’m so glad I did.  It was the highlight of the day.  The river was open and created a fantastic opportunity create a high contrast image with open water and the snow covered ice.  I also captured a wonderful shot of a snow covered lane lined by the leafless trees.

Leafless Lane - Darlings Island, New Brunswick

The day didn’t go as planned but the results were still very satisfying.   My kids love snow days and I couldn’t agree more; even if it is for different reasons.