Category Archives: Photography

The moss covered tree's of the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic Pensula National Park

Taking the Art Wolfe Photo Workshop

This spring I revisited my first passion of photography by attending the Art Wolfe Workshop on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

The three day workshop was spent on exploring our creative sides. We based out of Port Angeles and spent the mornings in a seminar and the afternoons out shooting at Sol Duc Falls, Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach.

The moss covered rocks of  Sol Duc River in the Olympic National Park.
The moss covered rocks of Sol Duc River in the Olympic National Park.

It rained all three days we were there and just like news photography you go out in all types of weather. The weather was actually perfect for the subject matter – A study on a West Coast Rainforest.  Although I could have brought better footwear like gum boots or Gore-tex runners.

First thing I learned about nature / fine art photography was they love tripods and as a news photographer I barely used mine in my 7 year career. Aside from the fireworks on Canada Day and the Northern Lights I shot during my time in the arctic. (They also never use monopods) But I guess they don’t shoot a lot of sports.

So my first lesson was how to shoot quick and fast with a tripod… I finally realized why the Gitzo tripods all have a twist and grip system for their tripods and ball heads for the camera mount. You can get really fast at setting up your camera for maximum adjustability and ease of use. It was so much faster than my old school silver Manfrotto was. (Yes I know they are owned by the same parent company)

Instead of just touring us to different locations  Art’s morning lectures really focused us on how he creates the masterpieces he does. What he looks for and what your eye does when it looks at a photo. He really encourages you to explore you environment and really engages you to make your photo look as good as possible before shooting it. The textures patterns and framing are really everything that goes into a great photograph. Out in the field he certainly challenged me to keep shooting… keep finding a new angle.

“My goal is no less than to change the way you see.” ~ Art Wolfe

Unlike my news photography career where it’s a fast pace environment and getting your images back to the newsroom is key to everything. Nature photography is much slower and gives you opportunity to find beauty in the abstract and slow down the creative process. Unlike editorial photography you are creating art and those hard and fast rules of creating the image need not apply here.

My DLSR equipment was ancient and falling apart. It was a used D100 that barely functioned and the lenses had all seen better days. So I left all that old heavy outdated gear at home and stuck with my Fuji X10 Range finder. Without the interchangeable lenses of a SLR I had work with the boundaries of what the camera could do. It was a fascinating exercise as I only had a 28 – 110 mm lens ISO of 100 and a closed down aperture of only f11.

Pebbles and Burnt firewood merge to make this contrasting photo of form and texture on Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park.
Pebbles and Burnt firewood merge to make this contrasting photo of form and texture on Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park.

What the camera did have was an awesome macro lens that could get me inches away from the subject matter.

Out in the field Art and his Workshop Staff really helped you to find that great shot. I actually needed some help setting up my tripod in a middle of a hollow tree as it was a little cramped. But I knew the shot I was looking for I just couldn’t get it just right. Art was there ready to help this old news photog out.

We carpooled out to the different shooting locals and randomly I found Larry Calof in need of someone to ride shot gun. I could not have picked a better travelling buddy. As a Semi-retired Lawyer in Silicon Valley we had plenty to talk about. But I also found out we both love the Dave Mathews Band amongst other things in common we had great conversations while we drove all over the peninsula.

While at Rialto Beach I was able to capture this awesome photo of Larry at work. The pipe really made the shot. I stopped what I was doing grabbed the camera off the tripod and grabbed a couple frames before he finished his pipe. We all have our processes and this was Larry’s. For me the old adage is true: You can take the boy out of the news… But you can’t take news out of the boy.

Larry Calof working his camera with pipe in month on Rialto Beach
Larry

In conclusion if you have a passion for photography and want to spend a vacation shooting. I highly recommend taking one of Art Wolfe’s workshops, it fed my soul and let me see part of the West Coast I had never been too

ps. no vampires or werewolfes were harmed in the making of this workshop.

Howe Sound in the fog

The morning Fog of Howe Sound shrouds The Queen of Surrey as she pulls into Langdale Terminal

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White on white

The view from The Lighthouse Pub

The Sechelt Inlet and Porpoise Bay from the Lighthouse Pub
The Sechelt Inlet and Porpoise Bay from the Lighthouse Pub

Marine Building Reflection

Vancouver Marine Building Reflection
The unique sunlight reflecting off the opposite building illuminates the entrance of the marine building in afternoon sun. Vancouver, Canada 

Olympic Sculpture Park

On a Sunny Seattle Sunday20140601-181856-65936073.jpg

Rhododendron Festival

Macro flower close up photo
Macro of a Rhododendron flower during the last Rhododendron Festival in Pender Harbour during the May Long Weekend.

Gas Works Park Silhouette

Gas Works Park on a cloudy lazy but beautiful early  evening in Seattle Washington, April 6, 2014
Gas Works Park on a cloudy lazy but beautiful early evening in Seattle Washington.
April 6, 2013

Andy Clark shoots The Patricia Theatre

Photographer friend Andy Clark of Reuters News Pictures visited the Patricia Theatre after I told him about my recent visit and he shot this amazing photo story.

He also wrote about his time in Powell River on the Reuters Photographers Blog.

Truly amazing what happens when you scratch the surface and look at the history of a community. I was just happy to help get this little gem of a theatre some much deserved recognition and hope it has many more years of opening nights and afternoon matinees.

Cheers Andy!

Final Approach

The Final Approach into Vancouver with English Bay, Stanley Park, Downtown Vancouver and Burrard Inlet in view. Far off in the distance Mount Baker. Photo Copyright 2013 Robert Dall ~ All Rights Reserved
The Final Approach into Vancouver with English Bay, Stanley Park, Downtown Vancouver and Burrard Inlet in view. Far off in the distance Mount Baker. Photo Copyright 2013 Robert Dall ~ All Rights Reserved

Andrew Nacin sent out a tweet today about  how he never getting tired of the approach into Washington DC. The statement is so true… It’s a beautiful city. I hope to visit it one day.

I accidentally and for the first time in years missed the bus to the ferry for a meetup in Vancouver and luckily enough Harbour Air had a seat empty to Vancouver.

It was a beautiful flight and it gave me a chance to think about the view coming into Vancouver via float plane and I never get tired of it, the view never gets old. So on this day of Remembrance I think about a lot how lucky to live in such an awesome area of the world we live in.

Powell River Historic District Plaque from the Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada

Read the Plaque:
The Powell River Townsite

Dear Roman Mars

You would love the Powell River Townsite.

The Powell River Paper Mill established in 1909 (current owned by Catalyst Paper)  and was the bellwether for the establishment of the town.
The Powell River Paper Mill established in 1909 (current owned by Catalyst Paper) and was the bellwether for the establishment of the town.

Ever since the Concrete Furniture episode I have been a faithful listener of 99 percent invisible. It was in your podcasts that I learn about your Read The Plaque mantra along with Secret Staircases and loved every episode before, after and in between.

See Roman I am a lover of quirky info. My curiosity is only second to my love of photography. So when Wikimedia Commons had their photograph a monument drive in September I though hey let’s look around and find what’s available.

There was nothing on the lower Sunshine Coast which is Sechelt, Gibsons and Pender Harbour, but there was in the upper Sunshine Coast ; the historic townsite of Powell River and it had not been photographed for the project for the commons.

Then Joel showed up…

Joel looking at a map of Powell Rivers Historic Townsite during our photographic walking tour.
Joel proving guys do look at maps during our walking tour of the Powell River’s Historic Townsite.

Then Joel showed up. Who is Joel? He is my best friend and the guy who taught me about photography. He just moved back to Sechelt after 6 years in China.

I called Joel and said, “Want to go to photograph old building in Powell River for Wikipedia?”

In more words then less Joel said sure why not… He had not been there in years and we haven’t gone out shooting together in more then 10 years.

We researched about the Historic Townsite,  got up early and hit the road.

Own backyard

We arrived at the Powell River Townsite and parked at the The Old Courthouse Inn had a awesome breakfast at the Edie Rae’s Cafe. We met the owners Kelly Belanger and JP Brosseau who as it turned out were having breakfast right beside us.

They gave us the historical walking tour pamphlet provided by the Townsite Heritage Society of Powell River.

What we found through our walking tour was just short of amazing and I barely knew the history of something in my own backyard.

What I really liked about the Townsite of Powell River was how much of the town was in one way or another connected to an architectural ideas presented on 99 Percent Invisible.

A heron sits on a log in front the YOGN 82 which is one of the 12 ships floating concrete and steel ships that comprise a floating breakwater around the Powell River Mill.
A heron sits on a log in front the YOGN 82 which is one of the 12 ships floating concrete and steel ships that comprise a floating breakwater around the Powell River Mill.

1. The floating ships that comprised the breakwater of the mill were originally world war one and world war two era concrete ships reminded me of the Razzle Dazzle  (Episode 65). (although not painted as such) These type of concrete ships were made as such for the easy construction although they were heavy and not economical after the war effort to operate.

Evening sunlight streams through the row housing of Cedar street in Powell River. Row housing in the evening light on Cedar St. in Powell River, British is typical example of a residential area of a company built town from the early 20th century.
Evening sunlight streams through the row housing of Cedar street in Powell River. Row housing in the evening light on Cedar St. in Powell River, British Columbia is typical example of a residential area of a company built town from the early 20th century.

2. The towns preplanned layout has a number of housing designs for couples, family’s and the single mill worker and yet not a single Cul de Sac (Episode 29) was included in the design.

Hand painted signs on the utility box covers at the Patricia Theatre.
Hand painted signs on the utility box covers at the Patricia Theatre. The main power line and the organ motor had separate power boxes. The organ motor power box now runs the digital projector required by the motion picture studios in the theaters 2012 conversion.

3.  The Hand Painted Signs (Episode 74) of Patricia Theatre and the hand painted utility box covers. You just don’t see that much quality put into a utility box anymore something that Parks Canada noted on his visit and was pointed out to us on our tour of the theatre.

A walkways leads from the residential area of the Powell River Townsite down the the hill towards the Paper Mill.
A walkways leads from the residential area of the Powell River Townsite down the the hill towards the Paper Mill.

4. As we were walking down the hill from towards the mill. We came across a Secret Staircase ( Episode 75 ). I immediately stopped and said to Joel. I heard of these before. Roman talked about pathways and staircases between properties. This one of course was a shortcut to the paper mill. But it had all the hallmarks of a secret staircase built (I am sure) with the rest of the town in the 1930’s.

Picture of a sign infront of the St. Joseph's Catholic Church in the Powell River Township
One of many signs and plaques around the townsite.

5. The plaques and signs  They are everywhere! The Townsite Heritage Society of Powell River has really done a great job on signs plaques and overall history of the townsite. So I implore you to Read the Plaque. Or better yet take a picture of it and submit it to the Read The Plaque website a collaboration between Roman Mars and Alexis Madrigal.

Every building a new story

Photo of the The former Bank of Montreal Building now called Studio 56. The build was being renovated in 2013 for use as an art space and community gathering spot.
The former Bank of Montreal Building now called Studio 56. The build was being renovated in 2013 for use as an art space and community gathering spot.

Every turn we took we encountered an new building and a new story behind it. The old Bank of Montreal building that is now an art studio called Studio 56.

Photo of Townsite Brewing location in the Powell River Townsite.
Townsite Brewing (named after the Powell River townsite) moved into the building in 2011 and selected this building for it’s beautiful brick work and industrial design.

The most fun we had was at Townsite Brewery which was originally build as the post office and customs house for the community. It has a beautiful brick art deco patterns and because of the brick and steel construction was the perfect location to house a craft brewery.  Also they make amazingly well crafted beer.

So… You should really check out the Powell River Historic Townsite if you ever have the chance Roman.

Regards

Robert Dall
Faithful listen and season 3 support of 99% invisible.

Epilogue: The larger picture

Although I knew Wiki Loves Monuments was happening world wide I never really thought about all the other people uploading photos. I just thought this would be something nice to do in my neck of the woods with a photo buddy I haven’t seen in a very long time. But viewing the stats for the month was impressive.

Worldwide Stats for the monument:

Canadian Stats:

*Although quantity doesn’t always equal quality in my mind

It was great to participate in such a worldwide altruistic movement. It was also great to enjoy a day in the sun exploring a part of the Sunshine Coast I knew very little about with a friend I hadn’t seen in years!

My adventures in the historic Powell River Townsite seeded Andy Clark’s photo story on the Patrica Theatre. He also wrote a wonderful post for the Reuters photo blog as well.