This is always hard for me to write. After all, it's my images that you came here for (hopefully!), not to "hear" me ramble on. Nevertheless, for the truly masochistic, I'll spout on a bit here about what brought me to the photographic world. Way back in 1958, my mother let me use her Hawkeye Brownie.
Now for those born after the invention of dirt, that was an old, box camera that took 120 film (most often, black and white). We had a cottage in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada which back then was a semi-wilderness location. That's very unlike today, which is a millionaire's playground (sadly). My first trip
to the cottage was at the tender age of about 8 months, and I think that's where my love of nature first developed. Every summer we'd head north for the (then) 4 hour road trip and the subsequent boat ride over to our little island on Lake Rosseau. In the spring we'd often see moose or bear tracks in the
sand on the beach, which always generated a bit of excitement in me. What with the swamp behind the island (and yes, I love swamps, even though they sometimes scare me), the rich, green forested hillsides surrounding our bay, and especially the granite cliffs across from the island, I wanted to
record in some way, these beautiful scenes for others who never escaped the city to see. That's where the Brownie came in, and I shot as much film as Mom would let me (and probably more than she could afford at the time!). I loved it. Fast forward to the '60's and a good friend introduced me to the
SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera. A Nikon to be exact, but I don't remember what model. He was doing some shooting for the school newspaper and had the dark room at his disposal. Through him I got my indoctrination to SLR's, interchangeable lenses and even film developing. While I loved all
that, I only dabbled in it until the very early 1970's when I picked up my own SLR. With the freedom to shoot what and pretty much when I wanted, I found it to be the perfect companion to my newfound outdoor adventures in backcountry tripping. I seem to have spent more time in canoes, on the trail
with a seriously overloaded backpack, or making my own trails on snowshoes than I did at my job, which was, actually in the backcountry as I was working as a bush pilot at the time. Along the way, I seemed to somehow get reasonably good at taking a decent photograph. I knew that publishing houses all wanted slide flim (transparencies) and so
that's what I was shooting. Someone suggested I try submitting a few of my images to some of the smaller calendar outfits to see if there was any interest in publishing my work. So I approached Carlton Cards Canada. Some "smaller!" I really didn't think I'd get anywhere, but to my surprise they published
an image I took while on a winter camping trip in a national Canadian calendar. Well, that was the tipping point for me, and I started buying up every book I could find by the likes of great Canadian photographers such as Freeman Patterson, Sherman Hines, John and Janet Foster and Janis Kraulis. Along
the way I discovered John Shaw's books as well, and I was hooked. I started submitting to any place that would look at my work, and to my delight, people like Equinox, Harrowsmith, Ontario Nature (then the Federation of Ontario Naturalists), Nature Canada (Canadian Nature Federation), Discovery Books (Dr. Wayne Lynch), etc. were
publishing my photographs. My proudest publication was an entry in the coffee table book, "The Last Wilderness" produced by The Canadian Nature Federation with the forward written by David Suzuki and edited by none other than Freeman Patterson. Over 9,000 photographs were submitted for
that book with only 180 being selected. If that weren't enough, I met many of the other photographers who were published in that book as well, all of whom were considered the top photographers in Canada. I didn't make a lot in terms of dollars on that publication, but the experience was priceless.Right up there with "The Last Wilderness" was being published by National Geographic. Some things just stay with you, and so you want them to!
Fast forward to the digital age. That was a whole new experience! I not only had to learn how to manage a computer-with-a-lens, I had to master Photoshop, and later, Lightroom as well. It's been a "challenge"! That said, I'm rather thrilled with the digital format on one hand, but on the other, it has all
but killed professional photography as I knew it. Now if you aren't teaching and leading workshops, chances of making a decent living from landscape/nature photography is pretty slim. Nevertheless, to take an image from cradle-to-grave (well, ok, the internet then) is extremely satisfying. Extremely
frustrating too at times, of course. Today, largely through the stock agency I deal with, All Canada Photos, my work has appeared around the world in places like Canada, the U.K., Europe, S.E. Asia, Russia and the U.S.A. Stock photography too isn't what it used to be, but to be perfectly honest,
I shoot for the conservation of nature. We are seeing too much of our natural world being ploughed under and that's not just a shame, it's dangerous. Raw, unfettered nature isn't just a "nice thing to have." It's our life support on this planet. It's where our oxygen and water and food comes from. It's
also a very nice place to spend time in and critical in our ability to recharge our batteries and remember from where we come. And so today I still roam the backcountry with my camera and lenses, and try to capture every image I can so I can again show people who never get out there; people who may
not understand, exactly what nature is about and how it is so vital to us as human beings. Thank you for reading and thanks very much for visiting my site. I hope you enjoy the images.
A Word about the Images and Photoshop
When we shot film, we'd take our exposed film to a local or not-so-local outfit and anywhere from a few hours to a few days later you'd get to see your work for the first time. Sometimes it was agony waiting for the film to come back, especially if you had been on assignment and your client was awaiting your return. Once the film was exposed in the camera, the photographer's work was done until he/she got the processed images back (yes, a number of people processed their own, particularly black and white film, but if you were shooting colour transparencies for a client, normally the exposed film went to a pro film house). We really had to know our stuff back then because once the film was exposed, you had to know that you read the light meter correctly (and knew when it was lying to you, which they still do), and that your compositions were on the money. Once you got the film back, it was usually too late to change anything then as the time was up, so to speak. Adjustments and filtering was all done in camera and not in the darkroom (again, if you were shooting colour transparencies) and even when it possible to make adjustments in the darkroom, they were relatively minimal. Ansel Adams was a darkroom master and some of the magic he could weave was truly something to see.
Things are a "little" different today. One of the greatest advantages of digital photography is that we can now develop our own work. Take an image from "cradle-to-grave" so to speak. One of the biggest disadvantages of digital photography (at least on a professional level where you are required to shoot in RAW mode, although why anyone wouldn't is still beyond me), is that you have to develop your own work! Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Whether you like to process or not, we have at our disposal the means to take an image from the point of conception right through the realization of the actual vision of that image. As much as we'd like to believe that a camera is capable of capturing a given scene exactly as we would like, it's simply not the case. I believe I have one of the finest DSLR's ever made (Nikon D850), and I love it. However, it doesn't know what I'm thinking, and so it will record exactly what's in front of it, with a decent guess, but still only a guess, at things like exposure and white balance. Ok, maybe it's a highly educated estimate, but if I want to photograph not just the look, but the feel of the "blue hour", it's going to get me reasonably close. It's not going to get it as close as I want it though. That's where I, and Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom step in. Just as we had to take our film in to be developed in the film days, we still have to develop our digital RAW images if we want to see what we envisioned in the field. The fact that we have so much control is mind boggling and I suspect that if Ansel were still with us today, he'd be among the biggest Photoshop junkies of our time. I shudder to think of the masterpieces he could turn out with the equipment we have now. OK, so the truth is, I develop all my own images. You may agree with how my work is processed, or you may disagree. I would put to you though, each person's vision is unique. I love saturated, deep, rich colours. Those scenes pull me in and if I go to pull out my camera and discover I've left it at home, I start getting the shakes and looking for my Vallium. This is how I see the world though, and it's that vision I want to share with others. I am not being true to myself, or to you, if I desaturate my images because viewers think that those scenes don't exist at that level. Well, my answer to that is two-fold - one: were you there? and two: did you see the scene through my eyes? The answer to both of course, is no. And so, in these web pages, I present to you how I see the world. Now I will say, with one exception (which is stated on that page), no major objects have been added or removed. I might remove an offending twig or out-of-place rock, but my images are genuine. They are not composites (with the one exception I noted above). If you go to these places, you will see what I saw, save for changes in the light, or the possibility that we decided to pave it under in the name of progress. I can prevent neither, although it is my mission with my work to try and influence others to not do that latter. Photography is not documentary, even when we think it is. It's an interpretation of what we see. No camera has perfect white balance or exposure computers on board, and indeed, what a photographer includes and does not include in a frame is a form of "processing" in itself, thus taking it out of the purely documentary recording. Anyway, perhaps it's the ability to share with others more fully now than ever before, that keeps photography fresh and exciting for me. I truly hope that shows through in this site. Thank you so much for reading. Please, enjoy the images you see here in.