Wapasu Nights: On Being A Coyote in Canada’s “Man-Camps”

Wapasu Bus Lot, A Sloppy Day in Late Winter Sometimes I find myself in a place where I’m sure there ’is nothing to photograph.  I am almost always wrong. No matter how sterile or seemingly dull the environment, you can always find a story to tell and something to shoot! The Bagup Room – a delicious piece of Newfoundland terminology, translated to the middle of the subarctic boreal forest and an oil boom that powers Canada’s economy.  Past overall-clad figures in studded safety boots, I toss sandwiches, fruit and salad into a paper bag, then sidle past the exquisitely bored Somali guard in the dining room.  Grabbing a tray from the pile, I shovel orange and grapefruit slices into my…Continue Reading

On Being In the Picture

We spend a lot of time behind the lens.  Occasionally – and often because a classic camera attracts attention, and gives us a special legitimacy – we get a chance to become part of the action, and are privileged to be in the picture rather than watching it. Wandering the streets of Montreal near McGill University, I chanced on one of the professors being interviewed.  Sensing a photo opportunity, I brought out my Voigtlander, whose classic Art Deco lines caught the attention of the cameraman.  As I caught this image, he saw a fellow professional, and turned to me, asking, “Say, would you mind holding this umbrella for me?”.  I found myself standing next to the professor, just out of…Continue Reading

The Bride at the Summit: A Smartphone Photo Essay

On those rare instances when life hands you a wonderful scene, grab whatever you have that will make an image and use it! Traveling to Calgary, (see The Phototrucker’s Blues), we left the Fraser Valley under leaden skies and a downpour that rattled on the roof of our van.  Rain turned to sleet and then snow as we ground up the steady climb to the summit of the Coquihalla Highway, avalanches spreading towering piles of mounded snow and splintered tree trunks beside the road, and gray mountaintops disappearing into the overhanging layer of soggy cloud.  An hour passed, and slush turned into walls of dirty brown snow walling both sides of the highway.  Finally, the clouds thinned, and an isolated…Continue Reading

The PhotoTrucker’s Blues – Part 1: Finding My Way

Imaging driving a 1956 all-steel Cadillac with a little Austin engine and an eighteen-speed transmission down a tiny country road filled with milling sheep. Add in a transmission with six gears (including reverse and ultra-low), a ranger switch in front of the knob that that shifts everything into a high range, and a little slider on the side that cuts each gear in half.  Plus an interaxle lock switch and a rear differential lock switch (for snow).  Together with as many dashboard switches as a Piper Comanche.  Stir in the cyclist who yesterday zipped six feet in front of my truck as I was turning off the highway.  That’s life in the slow lane (or very slow lane up hills).…Continue Reading

Van Lear Diner

  Van Lear, Kentucky: A magical summer night in a tiny Appalachian town. The best of bluegrass from the porch of a tiny bungalow, paint peeling like shavings in a carpenter’s shop. Meeting Loretta Lynne’s family, mingling with her friends and neighbors. One main street with white clapboard houses, and a small diner tucked beneath the boxy  old Van Lear Historical Society building. Each year, Van Lear, birthplace of Loretta Lynne, remembers the first coal train rumbling away from the tipple at Consol Mine #151 by hosting Van Lear Days, a day of parades and celebration followed by an evening of down-home bluegrass. The town, situated in the middle of the Paintsville Coal Field, is tiny, nestled in a bend…Continue Reading