Watershed Photography » Langley BC photographer Craig Roberts

In the process of learning and developing our photography skills there is an enormous amount of time and effort spent on fundamental techniques, only to sometimes throw that out the window in the name of artistic creativity and a unique photographic vision.

I shot the images below during a local bicycle race, the Fraser Valley Gran Fondo back in July with the express intent of creating compositions of ‘beautiful blur’. Whether it is athletes in motion, vehicles or even the subtle movements of a stand of maple trees moving slightly in the fall/winter, it is the deliberate nature of making these images that elevates them from poorly timed (and planned) out-of-focus pictures to an asthetic approaching “art” .

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And of course, this image made from my previous post regarding the Lynden WA fair:

Tilt-a-Whirl in motion, Northwest Washington Fair 2014

Tilt-a-Whirl in motion, Northwest Washington Fair 2014

Tilt-a-Whirl in motion, Northwest Washington Fair 2014

In my youth Vancouver’s annual late-August PNE fair seemed to be a metaphor for the end of summer, and we knew the days of sunshine and beaches, & nights of unabashed freedoms were counting down to the inevitable return to school and slide into fall.  While its been more years than I care to admit since my last PNE visit,  this year I wanted to head down just south of our own Fraser Valley and the 49th, to visit one of the many regional fairs that happen throughout Washington state during August.

Rural events such as the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden WA really are a backdrop to the celebration of the vital role agriculture plays in the entirety of these farming communities; it transcends from just being a “job” and becomes the fabric of the region – they become as much about being a showcase of the regions sustainability as they do about being a social release.  It’s this type of atmosphere I visualized growing up, perpetrated by Hollywood – and while there might be the same something-deep-fried-on-a-stick as I can find at our local PNE, the intangibles are what really sets these fairs apart.

… as well as the people.

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I happened upon Vancouver artist Ken Gerberick at a local vintage car show last fall, as he set up off the main roadway against the flow of spectators and other showcars on this day with two of his ‘art cars’ on display.  I’ve encountered a couple of these art installations at VW shows over the last decade, but this was the first time I was introduced to this as an actual medium – I just figured people liked sticking things on their cars to attract attention.

Chatting with Ken, I learned that there was a healthy interest in this form of artistic expression and in fact these were two of the five ‘art cars’ he’s completed in a varied artistic career spanning several decades.  The one I was most drawn to was known as the “Emblem car”, for completely obvious reasons. Every square inch of this 1957 Pontiac Pathfinder is adorned with chrome emblems and name badges that Ken sourced by scouring through auto wrecker yards; by his own admission the display contains nearly 6000 separate emblems and took over 2500 hours to complete back in 1990. In addition the car teems with gleaming chrome hub caps and chrome rear tail lights stuffed onto the rear window ledge – you can honestly get lost in the “Where’s Waldo” search of your favorite car maker’s emblems.

I’m glad that I had the foresight, as I was beginning to leave his area, to ask Ken if would allow me to make a portrait of him beside his car artwork.  Despite the hasty request, I really enjoy this resulting image of him, processed with a black and white treatment to celebrate the mostly monochrome “palette” he established with this art car.  An honest portrayal of the artist I had the pleasure of discussion for a brief period on that Saturday morning.

My few words here hardly do justice to Ken’s artistic history – his website has far more detail about his range of artistic endeavors.

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The artist: Ken Gerberick

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In what has become somewhat of an annual January tradition I found myself heading out, far earlier than anyone should during the first Sunday in January, to make some images of the sunrise off the pier in Steveston BC.  Driving into this small village in the early hours, you can hear every nuance of sound hanging in the early morning mist and fog that won’t dissipate for a few more hours; the streets in and around are silent and deserted, broken only by the hum and the yellow hue from the overhead streetlights.

As I passed one of the local shop’s window display caught my attention – in the darkness it had the appearance of a theatre stage, illuminating just the important characters while the rest hid back in the shadows. In the light of day this dramatic scene would be non-existent, lost to the open exposure in the manner of house lights coming up at the conclusion of a performance.

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The docks around here have an ecosystem all to their own, a dance repeated daily, annually – and has been for decades, back when the boats were returning to the docks to offload their cargo to the Georgia Cannery, rather than to the entertainment of tourists. There in an uneasy silence and calm from the water, before the bilge pumps on the boats kick in, the vendors emerge to set up their own theatrical stage and the gulls congregate and circle in search of whatever offerings the sea and boats will provide.
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Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage …”, sometimes it takes an effort to appreciate the performance and see if for what it truly is.

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