Seeing Saskatchewan in a different light

I always wanted to try infrared photography. It seemed so mysterious. The film was expensive and hard to get, you had to keep it refrigerated, you had to load it into your camera in the dark, you needed to know how to adjust for the way your lens focused infrared light, you needed special filters to expose it, you had to process it right away, and the results were unpredictable. In a way, I guess that’s what makes it so appealing.

Ilford and Rollei are the only two manufacturers that still make infrared film, and only in black and white. Also, these are more like regular black-and-white films with increased infrared sensitivity. They aren’t as sensitive as earlier films, nor do they cover as much of the infrared end of the spectrum. But it does mean that they are easier to handle and care for, and also behave like regular films when used without a special filter to block visible light. Of the two, Rollei goes a little deeper into the infrared spectrum, and is a very fine grained film, so that’s the one I thought I’d try.

I ordered a few 120 rolls online and set about spending a day of experimentation. The manufacturer recommends making the first exposure, metered correctly, without any filters, to establish a baseline for comparing the developed images. I wandered off with a camera and tripod to a local park on a bright springtime Saturday morning just as the lilacs were coming into bloom.

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A Found Photograph

Back when I was a kid I received a home darkroom developing kit. I remember the gift coming from a favourite aunt and uncle. I’ve been lugging that kit back and forth across the country, as I’ve moved from job to job, for probably 50 years. Last weekend, I decided to haul it up from the basement. I found a paper envelope in the kit. Inside, a black and white negative. Odd size. Definitely not 120, more like 116 or 616, film formats that Kodak manufactured for some models of Brownie cameras from 1899 to 1984. I plopped it on my scanner and pressed the button.

The image that emerged was of a scene that looked familiar, yet one I hadn’t seen for a long time.

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Sentinels

The Gulch, Trail, BC (Darrell Noakes)

As long as I remember, these towering sentinels have stood watch over the town. At bedtime, I would gaze into the darkness to find reassurance in those patient silhouettes. Beneath them, the industry that gave the town its life and its livelihood banged and thumped and hummed hypnotically. Embraced in that lullaby, secure in the shadows of those dark sentinels, I could drift off to sleep.

It’s funny how the things we grew up with, become the familiar.  The rhythms we were born into stay with us all our lives. Continue reading

First storm of the winter

Broadway area of Saskatoon during the first heavy snowfall of the winter, November 22, 2014 (Darrell Noakes)

Broadway Bridge and downtown Saskatoon, first heavy snowfall of the winter, November 22, 2014 (Darrell Noakes)

The warnings started on Friday: Heavy snowfall, 10 – 15 cm of snow expected. After Friday’s freezing rain warnings, it would be best to listen to what Environment Canada had to say.

Snow started falling Saturday morning. Throughout the afternoon, periodically glancing at the weather radar consistently showed a large green blob, with Saskatoon dead in the centre. Well, at least it was a green blob, denoting only the lightest snowfall throughout the region. Outside the living room window, large flakes were drifting lazily toward the ground, occasionally whipped into a frenzy by gusts of strong wind. Continue reading

Ghosts

Trail, BC. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

What if you could go back in time?

What if, one day, when you were a grown-up, you went back to your old home and climbed the ladder into your parents’ attic?

And, way in back, in a dim corner, barely illuminated by the flashlight in your hand, there was a box, a trunk, a large, dusty wooden trunk, with a lock that used a skeleton key?

So you contemplate whether or not to open it, to turn the key and open the lock, carefully, because you don’t know what might be in there, and the attic was a place that you seldom entered when you were a kid, not only because it was hard to get to, but because it was a cold and dark and drafty and scary place, and only the grown-ups were allowed in there. Continue reading

Water under the bridge

Cottonwood Falls Park. (Darrell Noakes)

Cottonwood Falls Park, Nelson, BC. (Darrell Noakes)

Deep in the recesses of my mind is a distant memory of a place my parents took me to once. It was a beautiful place, a canyon with groomed pathways, a lush garden, and a long waterfall that saturated the air with a cool mist. The water seemed to flow out of the sky. It splashed over rocks into a creek and then ran under a bridge and out into a wide, deep, slow moving river that shimmered with hues of green and blue.

I doubt I could have been more than two or three years old at the time, and we spent barely an afternoon there on a hot summer day, and we never went back. The memory of that place has persisted all my life. Whenever I think of the home where I grew up, I think of that place. Sometimes it enters my dreams, where I can still see myself running up and down the pathways of the canyon.

Whenever I asked my parents where that place was, they always shrugged. Continue reading

Bike Alley

The Bike Alley is a whimsical exercise in community development from within, says its creator, Dan Haley, owner of Casa di Cioccolato in Trail, BC. The bicycles line the alley behind his chocolate and tea shop at 346 Bay Avenue. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

“You should take a walk down there,” says Bruce, pointing to the lane in back of the old Arlington Hotel, a popular watering hole where a group of us had just wrapped up lunch over beer.

“Let’s see how many you find,” he adds as he and his sister, Sandra start across a deserted street.

“We’ll meet you over at the other end in a few minutes. We’re headed for the Artisan store. See you there.”

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

So, while the rest of the group went left, I hung a right and traipsed on down the block.

It’s pretty quiet for a Saturday, especially on a holiday weekend. There’s practically no traffic. Pretty much anyone who stayed in town must be at the Arlington.

As I reach the entrance to the lane, I spy a bike tied along the guy wires of a telephone pole, then a line of bikes overhead, pinned to the building wall. Further down, more bikes. Continue reading

First day of spring

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

It’s supposed to be the first day of spring today. Instead, it looks like winter is coming back for another blast.

After a sunny morning, it’s turned cloudy. The forecast calls for snow and blowing snow, northeast winds 30 km/hr gusting to 50, a low of minus 20 degrees Celsius tonight and a wind chill of minus 28. We’re not expected to see daytime temperatures go above freezing until well into next week, nor overnight lows above freezing until sometime in April. The past two weeks were so nice, too, in contrast with the minus 30 lows that ushered in the month.

I thought that if March came in like a lion, it was supposed to go out like a lamb! Continue reading

Catching up on photo backlog

Circle Drive South Bridge officially opens, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Darrell Noakes)

Circle Drive South Bridge officially opens, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Darrell Noakes)

Personal projects always get short shrift.

That’s not good, because personal projects are the most engaging, the most energizing, the most rewarding and the most creative.

But they fall behind because other work pays the bills.

Anyway, I figured this weekend would be a good time to catch up on a backlog of personal work. There are a couple of photo books that have been in the works for far too long and a wall decor project that’s running behind schedule and over budget. Continue reading