By All Means Possible...

If you're here, chances are you know about my involvement and love affair with Fuji cameras. What began as an experiment almost five years ago ended up changing pretty much every aspect of my work—in terms of gear but also in terms of philosophy and overall approach. I've since had the great honour to meet with some of the engineers involved in the creation of the X-series and provide input; I've given talks at Fuji events and held workshops with these cameras at center stage. It's a relationship that I value greatly and feel very fortunate to have.

But the act of creation isn't about brands. There's no magical camera or lens—however advanced—that will pull inspiration out of thin air, just like there's no "special" softbox that will give us the perfect portrait every time.  All our tools can do is enable us and, if we're lucky, provoke us into shooting as often as possible, triggering the impulse to create. Fujis happen to do that for me and not a day goes by that I don't feel grateful to have found my... I don't know... Glass slipper so to speak. The one that fits you know? For you it might be Sony or Nikon or Leica. It's the work that matters in the end.

I did something really stupid last weekend, something I'd never ever done before: I forgot the batteries for my X-T1. I took them out, laid everything down on the table and then... Left the pouch right there. I had one in the camera still showing a full charge but... Yeah, we all know how that goes.—it's not like we use Fujis for their extra long battery life (!). So here I was, up in the country with my X-T1 and a single, dead battery. What's a photo addict to do? Enter the iPhone.

Now, as impressed as I am with it's abilities and what others manage to achieve with it (Apple's amazing billboard campaign is proof positive), I simply can't feel a connection to the iPhone 6 as a camera. The way I have to hold it, the screen that I—mostly—can't see without glasses (such a fun problem), the shutter... All of it leaves me dead cold, in spite of its powerful capabilities. I understand the revolution but, to go back to that previous analogy, it just ain't my glass slipper. Still, it's a camera. A creative tool. A devourer of souls like all that came before...  

So here's a series of frames in another paintbrush and set of oils, the venerable Hipstamatic app in action; cruder and sloppier but offering yet another window into this reality I keep trying to pinpoint at all costs, racing against time. Because none of it will ever stop for anyone. 

A reminder to always capture life, by all means possible. 

Beyond the Gables | Woodstock to Crapaud

Morning finds us in Woodstock, NB—a generic room in some generic hotel chain. The kids love it... Any home away from home will do. We hit the road after a quick breakfast, anxious to get to our destination. Some three hours to go.

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The Confederation Bridge is an imposing structure but not much to look at. Efficient is really the only word that comes to mind; but it gets us to the Island, finally. The clouds are still low, roiling and steaming in a perpetual tide. We stop in Crapaud—at a small diner that feels like someone's house—and get our first taste of homemade PEI fries. 
Look at that... We've made it.


Shot with the X100T


Beyond the Gables | Chemins de Traverse

Prince-Edward Island was a spur of the moment idea, a plan that emerged while discussing vacation possibilities on a drive back from Maricourt on a late Sunday afternoon. A few days later we had already booked a summer house, one of five cottages nestled at the very edge of the island's shores, overlooking the Northumberland Strait. The wheels were in motion.

During spring, Cynthia dusted off her old copies of Anne of Green Gables and this became our daily bedtime reading with the girls, their eyes wide as they listened to the boundless adventures of a young centennial girl, mad with imagination and freckles and red hair. For months, these stories became part of our lives: Gilbert Blythe, the Haunted Forest, the currant wine incident... Even Jacob took it upon himself to read the first two books in the series. Sadly, this would also be the last book I'd ever read to Anaïs—another inevitable notch on the rite of passage belt. 

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It's a summer of storms in line with this year's cold and dark spring. I don't think I've ever seen layers of clouds like these, day after day, some so low you can almost touch them. Rain comes in heavy squalls, sheets of pouring water barely a few miles deep; you see them coming at you down the road and it's like smashing through a thick, impenetrable wall—with everything dry on either side. The skies writhe incessantly; I'm driving on bloody Jupiter. 

We've booked a small familiar motel in St-Simeon with the girls. Tomorrow we'll pick up Jacob at summer camp and wait for the ferry. We'll wait for hours, we'll cross the St-Lawrence and drive to Woodstock, New Brunswick, first leg of our trip. It'll be cold and damp and feel like a hurricane most of the time but it'll be memories in the making, good or bad. And I'll always remember the rainbows: the brightest, most intense rainbows I've ever, ever seen. 

Onward.


Shot with the X100T


Clearing the Fields

There are two major annual shifts in my life: New Year (obviously) and September. In both cases I feel a need to dust off the cobwebs and re-assess everything—workflow, apps, work environment, gear, you name it. It's always a bit daunting at first but I never regret the changes I make and the stuff I leave behind. 

I'm at it again this week, looking at every piece of the puzzle, getting rid of what no longer makes sense and making sure I get the most of both my tools and my physical space. I'm always amazed at how easily we fall into repetition for its own sake, just because we've settled into a specific way of working or gotten used to what's around us. Questioning the status quo is a necessary exercise that goes a long way towards clearing my mind and—hopefully—working more efficiently. I've even set a visual countdown to September 1st, to help me focus. It may seem silly but with days blurring into each other the way they now inevitably do, it's like a temporal anchor, preventing me from drifting.

It's been a big year in terms of lifestyle changes—something I plan on writing about in an upcoming "sidetrack" kind of post; one not so much about photography but organization in general. I'm still perfecting what is still (and should always be) a work in progress but I believe it may be worth discussing at this point, so stay tuned.

In the meantime—and until the PEI series begins later this week—here's a few from Sunday evening, after a long weekend of grass cutting, seeding, stone placing, digging and shrub transplanting. It’s August but we've barely been here all summer and besides: those damn cobwebs are everywhere.


Shot with the X-T1 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R


August & the City Diptychs

Boy is it getting harder not to see the end. The back to school specials are out in full force, conversations are increasingly revolving around what the new year will bring... Our few remaining weekends are now planned and counted. Yup, it's definitely August.

Our trip to PEI was a wonderful way to actually breathe in, tune out and disconnect... I should make a point of doing it a couple of times a year: it reboots the brain and provides some needed perspective. Of course I had a camera in hand the whole time but hey, that's my own private idiosyncrasy ;)

Summer isn't over yet of course but I'm slowly getting back into work mode: had a bunch of files to send this week, ongoing projects to get back into and upcoming stuff to prepare. Plus I had a one day workshop scheduled on Tuesday so I had to get those seascapes out of my head, shake off the red sand and return to being a thinking photographer/teacher. Always a treat though, always a new adventure. I usually shoot quite a bit myself during these events but we covered so much ground that I ended up mostly talking up a storm. It was still nice to do some street work again and I'm including some of it below. 

I'll be doing a multi-part series on our PEI roadtrip in the next few days/weeks—depending on my schedule. I had nothing but my X100T on this trip (my usual travel kit) and again, it delivered tenfold. Man I love that camera. I've returned to Classic Chrome after a brief relapse to the ProNeg Standard film simulation in the past couple of months. At some point it just felt like I needed that flatter, more neutral file to work from but after seeing the results from our island vacation... I'm sticking to Chrome for the foreseeable future. The amount of post I need to do on CC files is just ridiculously minimal, to the point where I'm sometimes affraid I'm losing something in the process, my own visual personality maybe?... But I look at the images and I can't fault anything in terms of tone. To my eyes it totally works. 

Needless to say that's how I shot these workshop images.
I hope you're all having a wonderful time. Enjoy it while it lasts. 

Have a great weekend :)


Shot with the X100T