The friendly people you meet at Hank’s Tavern

Hank's Tavern, Bradwell Hotel

I wonder how often people take the turnoff to Bradwell, I mean, besides the people who live in the little town. Depending on which way you’re speeding down the Yellowhead Highway, Saskatoon is barely 15 minutes behind you or ahead of you. If you’re in a hurry, as most people seem to be these days, you’ll just blow by the Bradwell access sign like it’s not even there.

I like taking the turnoff. As soon as you leave Highway 16, you feel the pace of life change. The road to Bradwell is a narrow ribbon of pavement winding a quiet 6 km into town. If you’re on that stretch of road just as the last drops of a late-day summer thunderstorm sizzle on the pavement and the sun lights your way with a pristine brightness and clarity that you only find after a prairie rain, you can’t help but think to yourself,  Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

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Seeing Saskatchewan in a different light

Meewasin Trail, opposite Bessborough Hotel downtown, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Rollei Infrared 400 120mm, 2017-05-20, Hoya R72 filter, 1/8 @ f/16.

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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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

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

Summer nights’ jazzy lights

Aurora borealis over downtown Saskatoon skyline, night of June 28-29, 2013 (Darrell Noakes)

Aurora borealis over downtown Saskatoon skyline, night of June 28-29, 2013 (Darrell Noakes)

I’ve enjoyed the works of Herbie Hancock and Dr. John as long as I can remember. Back as a teen in high school, I worked evenings and late nights at a small town FM radio station. A weekly jazz show was my only respite from the endless, dreary “easy listening” background music that took up most of the station’s airtime.

I’d like to be able to say that the Friday night jazz show came across as something along the lines of John Corbett’s fictional KBHR disk jockey character in Northern Exposure, but our station management would have had none of that, anyway: just play the music, kid, and keep the talk to a minimum. Come to think of it, though, Trail at the time of my youth had quite a bit in common with Cicely, except the isolation maybe, and could have benefited from someone like Chris Stevens. Continue reading

Kinsmen Park memories

No rides in Kinsmen Park this year. After closing the rides at the end of last season, the City began construction of new attractions that are scheduled to be open in 2014.

City of Saskatoon offers free rides (normally $1 per ride) on the last day of operation of the Kinsmen Park train and carousel, Labour Day, Monday, September 3, 2012. The City is decommissioning the miniature train and carousel for a 25-year multimillion-dollar plan to renovate the 46-acre Kinsmen Park. A ferris wheel was removed several years ago. On March 5, 2013, the City of Saskatoon announced that the 38-year-old train had been sold to Country Fun Farms, a 70-acre theme farm 10 km east of Prince Albert. (Darrell Noakes)

City of Saskatoon offers free rides on the last day of operation of the Kinsmen Park train and carousel, Labour Day, Monday, September 3, 2012.

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