Thoughts on the shifting landscape of time…

“Antipathy toward time clouds personal and collective thinking.” – Marcia Bjornerud⁠⁠
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Morning light and blowing snow across the rolling landscape of Southern Alberta, February 2020⁠⁠
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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.⁠⁠
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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.⁠⁠
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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.⁠

Winter Light Celebration

As winter settles in, the sun is slipping lower and lower across the sky. During the winter solstice here in Winnipeg, Manitoba the sun barely clears the treetops. Such low-angled rays of light are magical, and to celebrate the season I’ve gathered some winter light photography snapshots from recent years…

I find that winter light is particularly well-suited to capturing surreal window reflections, allowing for layers of light and colour to blend with abstracted patterns. When illuminated from a low angle, snow becomes a textural wonderland of sparkling deep drifts, painted with fading light and blue shadows.

Trees and winter light

Filtering the last rays of golden hour, or catching a gilded glow in their bare branches against blue skies. Such stark winter forms are welcome whether framing sunsets or arching above city streets, as they lend shape and contrast to the winter light all day long.

Trees lend structure to the frosty winter air, and when they are illuminated just-so, they often compliment the bones of the landscape or urban environment, laid bare by the season.

Winter light and interior spaces

Casting soft, surreal shadows in unexpected places, light filtered through old glass windows is particularly irresistible to try and capture with the camera. Something as simple as an unintentional coffee cup still life might appear on a wall for a moment, painted in shadow and quick to disappear as the light shifts.

Often the swaying of winter branches will make these patches of light dance and shift, like light through moving water as seen at the bottom of a pool.

Varied views of the same cityscape

Downtown Winnipeg features a mix of older buildings and newer highrises. As their facades catch and reflect the winter light throughout the day, the mood and feel of the cityscape changes too. With the early sunset, lights in windows twinkle while the dusky sky still holds onto the last of the sunlight. The moon rises over the city with its glow softened by the icy atmosphere.

The golden glow of the winter light is especially beautiful contrasted with the blue shadows and snow of the cityscape, and I couldn’t resist the reflection of a sunlit building in the sideview mirror on a winter’s afternoon.

Windows become magical glittering surfaces…

Frosted with ice crystals or illuminated by gently shifting shadows. Layers of light are caught and transformed inside and out, and even though the daylight hours are short, there seems to be no end to the beauty that winter can conjure with a bit of moisture or shifting light on glass surfaces.

The two images at the bottom left of these wintery window scenes are actually shots of frost accumulation on the inside of an old set of windows. The two images in the bottom right are of the same perspective through fluted glass at different times of day.

Of course a winter landscape is made even more beautiful by the light…

Rippling sheets of icy clouds and endless shades of blue. Sunsets last longer, and the blushing glow of their colours is often reflected in the snow and ice. Often the sky looks like mother-of-pearl, iridescent and luminous.

I love how the winter landscape is often a study in subtley, with fence-lines and horizons blurred by blowing snow, and the sky a soft gradient veiled in lacy clouds. When the sunsets are colourful, it is always in shades made more vivid by the coolness of the surrounding scene.

Little details of domestic life are illuminated in beautiful light and shadow, turning the long winter months of staying mostly indoors into magical journeys through familiar spaces.

Something as simple as a tissue or glass of water can be transformed by the winter light. Of course the dog loves the winter sunlight too, and can often be found basking in the glow of those fleeting, low-angled rays of warmth.

All of the photos in this post are from various phone cameras. I find that winter light often inspires snapshots as it is such a fleeting and beautiful part of every day. To see new snapshots as I share them, just head over to @photoapk on Instagram and follow me there!

Uncertain Road

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.

Snow blows across the landscape and Crowsnest Highway in Southern Alberta, Canada

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.

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Looks pretty scenic to me…

Winter landscape and ironic sign, Point Lobos, California

⁠ A little unintentional humour from Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in California where crashing waves, rocky cliffs and unique forests come together beneath blue skies.⁠

I’ve neglected this blog for too long while working through a sea of editing, organization, and big personal life changes. Lately I have found that when sitting down to write, the words haven’t been the easiest to come by…good thing I speak best through images!

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Late winter rain | California

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.

Raindrops on a window, scattered across the late winter green and yellow of wildflower fields in coastal California

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?

Winter Solstice

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Abstract reflection of lantern light against bare tree branches on a winter evening

“This is the solstice, the still point,

of the sun, its cusp and midnight,

the year’s threshold

and unlocking, where the past

lets go of and becomes the future;

the place of caught breath…”

– Margaret Atwood, Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995

 

Christmas, Historic Adobes | Monterey, California

Along with the Harbor Holiday Light Parade, Monterey, California has a particularly unique and charming December tradition – a walking nighttime tour of the historic adobe buildings scattered throughout downtown. One rainy night I joined a few friends to explore the lovely homes and government buildings that are lovingly restored and maintained as striking architectural reminders of the not-so-distant past of California.

Many of these historic sites include lovely gardens, and as we walked toward each stop on the self-guided tour, we were greeted by the glow of lights in the trees and the traditional painted angels that decorate the city of Monterey during the winter holiday season.

Each adobe had a slightly different story and seasonal decorations, often with a mix of old and new on display. Creaking wooden floors and subdued warm light lent each space a cozy sense of stepping back in time.

At the historic Custom House, dating back to around 1827, live music and dancing filled the main room. A Mexican flag on display pays respect to the role of this particular adobe building as the primary port of entry on the Alta California coast before the territory was claimed by the United States in 1846.

At a smaller building which holds the distinction of being California’s first theater, we were greeted by a musician on the front porch, and a decorated tavern space inside. The main portion of the theater, including the stage, has sadly fallen into disrepair and was not accessible. In the spring, the theater garden is one of my favorite secret spots in downtown Monterey.

Live music was a highlight of the evening, performed by volunteers at nearly every location. Even though some of the points of interest were a few blocks apart, it seemed that the holiday cheer filled the rainy streets in every direction, as we had only to follow the sounds of musicians and carollers to reach the next adobe.

City Hall was a bustling center of activity, with locals chatting on the steps and enjoying the decorated trees indoors and out. This building is still functional at the heart of the city, hosting several municipal offices and providing Monterey residents with a scenic park for casual gatherings.

Some of the larger adobes offered sweet holiday treats, cookies and cider, and at the historic building known as the Stevenson House (after Robert Louis Stevenson who lived there for a few months) a cheerful bagpiper roamed the rooms full of artifacts and notable art.

I had lived many years in Monterey before I took part in this lovely holiday tradition, and it was a memory I will treasure. The warmth and hospitality of Monterey and Californians in general was embodied in the welcoming cheer of these historic adobes.

The tour ticket fee benefits the California State Parks and their maintenance of the buildings, and I would highly recommend it to locals and visitors alike. For information and tickets, please visit the California State Parks website – Christmas in the Adobes.

To see the full set of my images from this magical holiday night, please visit the APK Photography Christmas in the Adobes gallery

Winter frost, Saskatchewan

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.

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

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Frost clings to the branches of a tree, Regina Saskatchewan

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California

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.

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Raindrops on the camera lens frame a stormy ocean horizon, Pigeon Point, California

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.

Small Yellow Songbird

As the days gradually become shorter and the season shifts to cooler temperatures, autumn is turning the leaves a lovely golden color before they fall. I am reminded of a little yellow songbird perched high in the branches of a tree on a cold winter morning. It calmly watched the sunrise, warming it’s wings as sunlight spread across a mountainous Southern California desert landscape beneath a bright blue sky.

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A small yellow songbird perches in the California desert sunshine, framed by the branches and yellow leaves of a tree against blue sky

This is an image from my archives, and I am adding it as a new release to a collection of square prints that are sized and priced for the casual art collector. I often provide custom, larger-format fine art prints to private collectors, but wish to share my images with a wider audience. This sweet little songbird is the first image selected for a set of square prints that start at $30 USD, with gallery canvas wrap and standout mounting options available. I will be adding new images to my Open Edition Square Series print collection in the months to come, so please check back for announcements or subscribe to this blog for updates.

To purchase ‘Small Yellow Songbird’ please visit apkphotography.com

Scenes from the Edge of a Continent

Misty Big Sur morning, with a glimpse of Bixby Bridge and the Pacific Coast Highway through the fog of coastal California

(because this landscape will always be a part of you…)

‘Special’ isn’t the right word for Big Sur. There is magic in the mist, as the mountains descend to the sea, where crashing waves endlessly carve coves and cliffs. It feels like the edge of the world, a place one might escape to for a life of meditation on the mixing of water and sky along the distant horizon.

Also – very photogenic locale. Like being inside a postcard.

Find more magical Big Sur landscapes and details in my Big Sur, California collection, alongside many more California art photography prints.

A Very Patient Dog…


You know that moment, caught out of the corner of your eye, that seems to perfectly sum up a story or feeling, and then as quickly as it appeared, it vanishes into thin air?

Doggy in the window


This is one of those moments, and perfectly illustrates why, at all times I feel compelled to have a camera with me. This was actually photographed with a tough little 5MP point-and-shoot camera, the only digital option I had at the time, which I’d stuffed into the pocket of my winter coat while up in the mountains for some winter recreation. Stopping by the lodge cafe for lunch, I noticed a very focused and forlorn dog hanging around the back door, and as I sat down to my meal, he stopped his pacing and sat down too, intently watching the warm scene of people and food inside. I was able to catch this snapshot in a break between passing customers, and a moment later, the dog had been reunited with his owner and was gone.