November 12, 2012

To Code

These two photographs were shot in and around Point Douglas before the snow arrived. Early October. When a roll sits around either mine or Craig's houses long enough waiting to be processed, the memory bank looses detail like quarters through floorboards. When the contact sheet developing in the tray revealed the middle girl in the hedge, I was beyond delighted. She is art. I think that is the main reason why processing film and developing photos has hooked me so, the unveiling of mystery is so worth the wait. Little details the eye tracks and freeze frames are remembered later as the image comes up like an apparition. I didn't think twice when those kids climbed into the hedge, camera at the eye in an instant. Whatever caught me then now long forgotten. The darkroom just makes sense. The more I work, the more I look, the better photography is understood. Art school restricted everything that the first image represents in me. None of it.

There were eleven usable shots in all from that long awaited October roll and after the contact print was developed (direct copy of negatives sandwiched between glass and photo sensitive paper) these were the two I started with despite more obvious gems. Save the best for later. I only had a few hours of darkroom time before work picked up and this is the fruit of my labor. No rushing art.

I love this nieghborhood. You never know in PD. Pow! The dappled light just melted me while working away. Brother and sister bookend a real wisecracker. Sweet faces. Peace, love and character. Triple threat.

The second photo is of a house in progress in my neighborhood. It was discovered long after the framing was up, but something to it hooked me good. Shooting the progression of projects excites me.

This house belongs to a wonderful couple on Grove who I met the fourth time around. This shot was the second visit when I was lucky to find them working hard on the roof. These two inspire me as they have done all the work themselves. The contrast is a little strong for my taste (pretty clear this was the second project as my tolerance for any and all grey goes out the window after the first hour or two of printing; something I am working on). Tolerate GREY, it only adds to tone of interest. There are little details that should have been dodged, and others burned. Rafter detail for example: Dodge Margot! There is so much to work with there in that little peak. The giant window openings in the center? So much hidden detail lost. Attempt two will reveal the innards of the house and hopefully more detail on the neighbors house and that big old Winnipeg sky. Burn! One thing I appreciate about Craig is how he appraises my darkroom work. There is honesty in his critique and always a lesson for better production. My teacher, my love. I groan while he laughs at my efforts.

The Dragon Year has been a hell of a ride. Winter arrived with a great big dump. C and I cruised to Stony Mountain in the calm before the storm to pick up his latest project--a beater sled from the 70s. I so appreciate his faith in mechanics. My mechanic. The older the better in his books. I named it Marj the Sled after laughing my HEAD OFF zipping up and down the back alley at the Victor House around midnight. I am sure she heard us, wherever she is and delighted in our delight. It's a real beast. The neighbors must love us. No disdain for the new season, just delight and prospect. Winter getaways reeking of exhaust and wood fires.

The dark is welcomed, no sense in wrestling with it. Utilize! Production season is in. Social life lies flat, the community buried. In the light hours I work with my head down in a bright kitchen, happy, hurried, nervous, relaxed, mysterious, calm, relieved. In the dark I sit by the fire, rocking away, sipping whiskey and looking at that fat stack of bikes lined up like a gang just waiting for the light to change once more.

What a wise move it was to come back to this place. Follow your guts, they know.

Bundle up, it's sled season! As Maya would say, Bag up, it's going to be a long one.
Amen sister.


  1. a wise move indeed. I feel very grateful.

  2. my mother and father grew up in Point Douglas and my baba lived on king edward st until she lost her memory. it's a scary and beautiful place.

  3. i know the daughter of those folks. she is wonderful. must come from good stock. it's the first house being built in pd in over 30 years!

  4. Marj the Sled. Only you could pull that off, wild cousin.

    1. Marj the sled will take us right to the door of the Shack! You and I can ride on GT's with hot pots of chili between our thighs. Your mother lives on in all those who got her.

  5. what a shot. you've got a gift my dear.