A look back in Black and White…

Life looks different in black and white, doesn’t it? I thought it might be interesting to review my year 2016 through some of my black and white photos.

As a photographer, I really wouldn’t want to be limited to making photographs in just colour or just black and white. I love them both equally. Each makes me feel and see quite differently, and I need and benefit from both ways in my life.

Colour brings out the joy for me. I relate to the tones of an image as much as or even more than the shapes, lines and subject. I am drawn toward colour combinations that thrill me and make me happy — jewel tones, pure colours, colour duets, complementary colours, analogous colours, for example, even if the subject is subtle or moody.

As Andri Cauldwell observes: “To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.”

It has been said many times that black and white distills a subject to its essence, and I find that to be very true. What is central to the photograph I tend to see much more clearly, without being seduced by colour. While it’s a quieter, more restrained way of communicating, it can definitely pack a powerful punch.

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Highlights of 2015 in pictures…

When 2015 began I didn’t have any definite plans, just some directions and intentions — such as taking our boat to the Bahamas in the spring…But as often happens, unexpected opportunities popped up and so did some nice surprises, leading to a full, rich and rewarding year.

Of course there were some sad times too, such as losing our beloved Charles the Westie in December, but these were outweighed by the good ones.

Here are just a few highlights in pictures…

Attending a photography workshop in Delray Beach — February

I decided to go to this workshop on the spur of the moment when I was in Florida and am so glad I did. Contemplative photography is about recognizing flashes of perception, staying present and keeping open to what is really before you — so that you see and photograph in a fresh way. We shot texture and colour and patterns. It was enormous fun. Windex for the eyes.  Read more here.

Falling in love with a litter of Golden puppies — February

These five puppies stole my heart at the marina where we were living. Their frolicking and affectionate cuddling brought daily joy. All of them lived on a boat with their parents Punkin and Fuzzy and came to shore several times a day for play time. I had such a great time capturing their antics. Happily, they all went on to find good homes. Read more here.

Sailing to the Bahamas on Windsong II  — March/April

How could this not be a highlight — cruising the pristine waters of the Bahamas in a sailboat,  meeting new friends and meeting up with old friends from home? We did it for about five weeks and saw new and gorgeous places this year — so much beauty I couldn’t begin to capture it all, so I had to take a lot back in memory form.

Read more here.

Shooting the New Vintages Tailgate Event in Niagara with my sister on her birthday — June

This was my first foray into paid event photography. I went to visit my sister to celebrate her birthday and she asked me if I would like to be second shooter for her at a wine event. Well, I thought I would give it a go. It turned out to be quite a challenge, which I knew going in, but it was also totally enjoyable. I have great admiration for my sister, who does these kinds of shoots on a regular basis as part of her marketing/communications business.

Read more here.

Having an image published in a spread in the LCBO Vintages magazine — June

Well, this was fun. Through my sister, the good folks at i4c (International Chardonnay Celebration) asked if they could use one of my images of their 2014 event in an advertising spread in the LCBO Vintages magazine. They offered to pay in wine. Well, that was a no-brainer. Of course they could.

before cinematic

Trip to the Northwest Territories to see family — August/September

A very important part of our family now lives very far away from us — way up north of the 60th parallel in the Northwest Territories. This is not an area that too many Canadians ever travel to. We don’t know how long this phase of their life will last so we decided to go visit and see what they were experiencing for ourselves. The terrain was rugged and fascinating and the wildlife was amazing — but challenging to capture with my camera. The highlight of this highlight was playing with the grandkids.

 Quick trip to West Virginia — September/October

In mid-fall, we accepted a friend’s kind offer to spend time at a cabin in West Virginia. We hit some cool and rainy weather, which gave me the welcome chance to shoot some moody, misty shots.

Donating an image to the Mosaic on Mental Health in Halifax — October

My cousin helps organize an art festival to support mental health programs in Nova Scotia every year. She asked if I would be willing to donate one of my images. I was honoured and delighted. It was way too far to go to see the exhibition, but it was a huge success and a lovely lady was pleased to walk away with my piece. Win/win!

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Winning the Grand Prize in a photo contest — November

Well, this was a stunner. On a whim, I entered a photo contest that was looking for images of my county — Lanark County. I submitted a barn image made near my home on Christmas Day and another one of our river. A month later, I received an email to say I had won the Grand Prize and smaller prize. Frankly, I was gobsmacked. I did put the prize money to good use though — some I donated and the rest went to camera equipment!

Prize winner

Let your life flow by balancing intentions with opportunities and hang on to neither with a life-and-death grip.

A look back at 2014, Part 2

I will remember 2014 as the year I embraced monochrome photography. Much as I love colour, I have become totally enchanted with black and white pictures.

Light, lines and moments —  I found myself shooting those a lot this year, consciously and unconsciously — and black and white is ideal for bringing out the best of those kinds of images.

I have also started studying some of the masters recently, and was lucky enough to receive a signed print by famous Magnum photographer, Elliott Erwitt, which now hangs proudly on my wall, and which I will cherish forever.

I joined a few groups that share black and white photography and have been so inspired by the work posted there.

I have a feeling 2015 will also be a black and white kind of year!

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