To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.
― Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree
Gull Lake, Alberta
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A few months back when the snow was just starting to fall I came across many many tree, big poplars, likely close to 80 years old, that had been cut and piled. Hundreds of them, to make more room for grain. The benefits of a windbreak gone. The benefits to all the birds and other wildlife that called it home, gone. the aesthetic beauty of these trees, gone. It felt like a disaster to me! What would make someone destroy such beauty for so small a gain?
Then, in spring as I was driving around Red Deer County during one of the last few flurries to spread it’s white powder coating on the land, I came across this beautiful windrow quite near to where the others had been cut. There was a thick fog all morning allowing only small glimpses of what was around me. A cold wind blew in and started to clear off the fog as the sun was rising. I noticed it shining through the fog only momentarily numerous times and managed to line it up with these majestic trees only to have it disappear just as quickly. I raced into this field in the hopes of seeing it again. Battling the strong cold wind, I managed to get the camera all set and ready with my gloves off and could feel my fingers stinging painfully. Putting my gloves on helped for sure, but being out in the wind was very unpleasant! Thankfully the sun poked out from behind the fog long enough to capture the view on film and after getting back to my car and warming up my fingers over the heating vents, I couldn’t help wonder if this windrow might be seeing it’s last season before falling to the bulldozers that seem intent on stripping our land of the few bits of remaining beauty.
[ Plaubel Makina 67, Kodak Portra 160 ]
Of course David Lindley is singing about a car – oh well! This old Mercury truck was found on an old farm south of Brooks, Alberta, near Rolling Hills. It was a creepy place too! My travelling partner Michael Chesworth went exploring the old farmhouse and discovered old bank deposit slips from the early fifties, and an old shot up television that had only the original dial that let you choose one of thirteen channels. I remember being a kid watching our old B&W TV that had this same sort of dial, unfortunately, we couldn’t even make use of the dial as we had the luxury of getting only one channel! So, if we didn’t like what was on we were back outside riding our bikes or playing hockey on the local rink, depending on the season of course. Anyways, back to this farm, there was no sign anywhere at the start of the dirt laneway indicating “No Trespassing” so we felt OK checking it out. This truck was one of three in the yard and the one I liked making images of the best. I made a lot of close-ups of the patina of the metal with my digital camera, but really felt a pinhole image would add a sense of being in a dream and also would give some indication of how I was feeling in this farmyard. It really makes you think about who it was that lived there and why it was left in the state it was. Someone had a full life here and we only got to see a few remnants of it. I would have to think it wasn’t a creepy existent either, but just the way things have gone since whomever it was departed, left us feeling a bit unsettled. This image was made with a ten minute exposure with my camera mounted to my tripod and awkwardly arranged just inside the cab of the truck. I thought my meter was out to lunch indicating such a long exposure, but here you are, and it was rather dark in the shadows of the cab. An hour or so later we hit the highway to a new destination still heading further south.
[ Zero Image 6×9, Kodak Portra 160 ]
Last fall I spent a beautiful Saturday leading a few retired folks on a photo excursion north of Castor, AB. We had a good time visiting a few different sites and later that evening I headed back home and enjoyed the views of a beautiful autumn Alberta day. I didn’t really want to get home as the light and sights were great! South of Alix I came across this recently harvested and baled field and had to pull over to capture an image.
[ Plaubel Makina 67, Kodak Portra 160 ]