“Antipathy toward time clouds personal and collective thinking.” – Marcia Bjornerud Morning light and blowing snow across the rolling landscape of Southern Alberta, February 2020 One year ago we were settling into a new, strange routine. I had already been working from home, and we already enjoyed the occasional convenience of delivered groceries. But now there were daily news briefings to watch, headlines to anxiously scan, family and friends around the world to check-in on with frequent urgency. Making sure the pantry and freezer were well-stocked and offering to help procure household goods for neighbours. Watching as future plans like concerts and travel were postponed, or cancelled altogether. Even though the content of my time did not seem to change dramatically, my sense of it shifted wildly from day to day, hour to hour. Soon a pattern emerged, with one relatively productive day of focus and work followed by several days of gnawing anxiety and distraction. We retreated into rewatching familiar funny TV shows, anything escapist we could binge watch. I read books and played countless video games. I digitized an entire library of 20+ years of film negatives. Then came spring gardening, a single summer escape for an isolated long weekend at the lake, the last warm sunroom days of autumn. And winter again, prolonged dark and cold with hope on the horizon. Limbo is a terrible place to be. We all encounter it in some form, at some point in our lives, but many of us are fortunate to have not had to make it our home until recently. It is exhausting to be at odds with time; resisting it’s relentless march while constantly baffled by how inconsistent our experiences of it can be. I know that a year ago I did not expect a swift solution to the pandemic, I sensed that we would have to linger in this crisis in order to overcome it, but I had no concept of how it would feel a year later. There is still a very long road ahead, and I think my relationship with time may be forever changed.
I woke last night in the darkness to the rumbling sound of a heavy train passing through the city, threading through the quiet neighbourhoods with its horn calling a long, keening wail.
I lay awake listening as the sound repeated, feeling anxious, sad, wishing that I might wake in the morning to a world no longer brought to its knees by an invisible but very real threat.
What a strange, uncertain time we find ourselves in, where the act of waiting quietly for danger to pass has suddenly become a collective endeavor. I have been wandering through my archives, in search of images that can adequately communicate the mood of the moment, and this recent photo from a roadtrip across Western Canada in early February keeps coming to mind.
The trip was a spontaneous one and feels like it happened a lifetime ago now. The foothills and prairie of Southern Alberta were shrouded in blowing snow and quickly passing clouds, and the harsh landscape provided a beautiful contrast to the rugged forests, mountains, and coastal terrain of my destination in British Columbia. When the road was obscured and the weather uncertain, there was nothing to do but continue on to the next waypoint, and I am trying to keep that sensation in mind now as we all travel down an uncertain road together; eyes on the horizon – keeping a safe distance from each other of course – we have to believe that the way will clear eventually if we just stay the course.
Having spent a couple of years on the Canadian prairie now, I realize that what I miss most about the California coast is not exactly the ocean itself, but rather the air; dense fog, constantly shifting breezes humid with sea mist, and the resulting ethereal quality in the light. I find that this image captures that sense of layered expanse very well, shot along the Big Sur coast where a stately line of trees delicately screen the distant horizon beneath a blanket of swirling fog. Blue and yellow-gold are the summer palette of my childhood, and I love how these colours become more vivid as the season progresses toward autumn. Prints available here!
More moments like this can be found throughout my photography archives, especially in the California galleries, with stories and travel tips shared here on the blog:
It was just another blustery, spring day on the California coast, with scattered rain showers and blank overcast skies accompanying my drive South from Santa Cruz to Monterey. With glimpses of the ocean and soft, rolling hills opening to loamy and verdant valleys, the scenery along Highway 1 can be beautiful in any weather.
After turning inland through fields of strawberries and artichokes then skimming across the Elkhorn Slough with its swath of intertidal wetlands, the highway bends back to meet the ocean as Monterey appears ahead. Approaching the stretch of sand dunes that mark the beginning of expansive, wild beaches just South of the Salinas River, I felt the brute force of a powerful wind blowing in across the Pacific ocean. Then I noticed the clouds.
At first just a heavy smudge on the horizon, an undefined darker grey in a sky already laced with rain and mist. These clouds quickly became distinct above the white-capped Monterey Bay; fast-moving, dark and dramatic, their undersides carved into undulating ribbons of green and blue with a curtain of heavy rain following close behind. I had my camera with me that day, and immediately pulled off the highway to a small beach access and overlook.
The air felt charged with raw energy and a few other brave souls had stopped to take in the storm as it blew quickly onshore; I managed to capture only a handful of images before the heavy rains arrived.
I will never forget the exhilaration of watching the strange sky above, and the speed with which the entire system passed from sea to land was truly incredible. Glad to get whatever photos I could of this storm, I take them as proof that bad weather makes for excellent landscape photography, and the best camera is the one you have with you (though it doesn’t hurt to carry some of your better gear around from time to time). This surreal cloudscape scene is now included in my collection ‘An Ocean Above’ featuring a variety of dramatic clouds and abstract skies.
Sitting at my desk here in wintery Winnipeg, Manitoba, it is easy for me to get nostalgic for the winter landscape of my childhood in coastal Northern California. The wet, rainy season would often start in late October; gentle showers after a crackling dry summer would turn the golden-brown hills green in only a few weeks. After a month or two of frequent rain storms, the yellow wildflowers add their vivid colours to the lush landscape. By January, winter on the California coast is often the most vibrant season of the year.
This image was captured recently while stranded in traffic on a highway blocked by downed trees and power-lines after a particularly gusty, dangerous winter storm. The wind blew heavy rain sideways across the green and yellow fields, and the raindrops on the car window created an interesting pattern in the foreground of an impressionistic scene.
As this image was captured with my phone camera, it is only available in smaller print sizes, but the bright pop of colour and the unexpected textural details make it a unique, beautiful image when printed. You can find this textural abstract and many more like it in my Small Prints Archive.
I am acclimating to the frosty, white snow and brown muck of Canadian winters, and I enjoy the shift in perspective that comes with experiencing the seasons in a new place, but I will always miss the emerald green landscape and cloudy skies of these California winters and I look forward to visiting during the rainy months. How does winter look where you are?
Mysterious, dark, quiet; a grove of trees in the coastal mountains of Big Sur, full of mist and morning light. I’d arrived at the campsite after dark, chasing the sunset down the winding curves of Highway 1 and setting-up camp as stars appeared overhead. During the night, fog gathered along cliffs and settled into valleys, and I woke to find the forest shrouded in soft layers of light.
Camping on the California coast is often a damp, chilly affair, and this day was no exception. The warmth of a small fire, the coziness of a sleeping bag and a book, the sound of the nearby ocean all helped to pass the time.
As the sun settled again to the west, the early evening light filtered into the deeper, shadowy corners of the forest grove and campground, and I was able to capture this layered scene full of contrasts and soft tonality. The branches of the trees lend a sense of enclosed space; a cathedral of organic shapes and windows of light. Of all of my Big Sur experiences this moment remains one of my favourites, full of the restorative, meditative mood I found present in that particular time and place.
Most of the photographs I collect when visiting Fort Point, San Francisco are of the architecture and magical spaces between shadow and light created by the repeating motifs and angles of the Fort itself. Climbing the steep stairs to the top of the structure, one is rewarded with a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and this day was no exception.
I have seen this place at various times of day, in different seasons, all types of weather, and part of the what keeps bringing me back with my camera is the potential for dramatically framed, constantly shifting scenes. On this particular July afternoon, the fog had settled heavily along the water, and as I admired the form of the bridge vanishing into the mist, a pair of figures paused in just the right spot to unexpectedly add balance to the frame.
As I had been at that moment experimenting with the panoramic capabilities of my phone, I quickly captured this photo with the camera in hand, rather than risk losing the moment while switching to my DSLR. I did managed to grab a couple similar frames with the big camera afterward, but for me this image stands alone.
Minutes later, the couple had moved on, and the fog began to lift, giving way to a glorious sunny day and a large pod of humpback whales feeding beneath the bridge – those particular photos will get their own post – proving that one never knows just how fleeting a moment will be or what will come next!
This is my first true Canadian winter experience, as I visit the prairie city of Regina for several months. I have experienced snowy, icy winters before, but only in small doses. Here in Saskatchewan, I have watched the autumn leaves fall and blow from the trees, and enjoyed a first round of snow flurries complete with large, fluffy snowflakes.
Hoar frost and ice rime are a new firsthand experience, and a few nights ago a heavy mist descended crept into the city. I woke to a winter wonderland, every tree coated in ice crystals, the neighborhood transformed by a misty white frost.
Winter frost in the trees of Regina, Saskatchewan
Winter frost in the trees of Regina, Saskatchewan
As the fog cleared and sunny skies emerged, the contrast of the tree branches against the vivid blue above seemed surprisingly colorful given the mostly white palette of the scene. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to photograph this winter weather phenomenon. To see the full set of these Winter Frost photos, please visit the Regina, Saskatchewan gallery at www.apkphotography.com
Blustery, stormy skies and tempestuous crashing ocean waves are the perfect backdrop for a lighthouse and all of the history it represents. I’d driven past Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park dozens of times, passing by while driving the scenic and dramatic Highway 1 along the central coast of California. After years of admiring this picturesque spot from a distance, I decided on a rainy afternoon to pay a visit.
The lighthouse was built in 1871 and is now a designated California Historical Landmark. The land on which it is built, and thusly the lighthouse station are named after a shipwrecked vessel, the Carrier Pigeon. The fresnel lantern is no longer in use, and is instead displayed in the visitor’s center, housed in the fog signal building.
The lighthouse itself is now closed to visitors due to structural concerns, and while attempts to fund restoration are underway, it could be decades before the view from the tower can again be enjoyed by the public.
The lighthouse keeper’s housing now serves as a youth hostel, offering a unique waypoint for travellers along the California coast. As with many such natural promontories in this part if the world, whale-watching and general wildlife viewing can be particularly accessible. In the spring, I have seen the surrounding shoreline covered in swaying meadows of yellow wildflowers, and in the winter passing storms paint the sky and ocean surface with moody colors and constantly shifting textures.
On any roadtrip along this stretch of coast, a stop at the Pigeon Point Light Station State Park is highly recommended. It is free, informative, and beautiful. On Saturday, November 18th 2017, a celebration of the 145th anniversary of the light station is being held, offering tours, music and various activities. For more information about the state park visit the California Parks & Recreation website and to see more of my photos from the lighthouse grounds, visit the archive at APK Photography.
Two of my favorite photographic ingredients – some fleeting condition like fast-moving clouds and rain, and the slanting rays of the sun. Even two images shot within seconds of each other can be remarkably different in tone and balance when captured under these conditions.
This was a lucky shot – on a working road-trip through Nevada where we stopped in Battle Mountain for the night as a large storm began to shower the region with rain and crackling lightning. Having walked one of the few main roads in town from our hotel to a cafe and back, I was glad to have carried my point-and-shoot camera as we turned to the mountains and caught a glimpse of the light and weather combined in a dramatic, shifting composition of landscape and man-made elements.
Glittering raindrops fall across a windshield during an evening storm, illuminated by a street light.
I know, I seem obsessed with the weather lately. Really, it is the irresistible interplay of water and light during this rainy season that captivates me completely. The sheen of water across asphalt in the morning hours, the way puddles hold an after-storm sunset; it is a permanently transient subject, that just a breath of wind and a passing cloud can change entirely. How can it not be satisfying to photograph?