#1135 Watershed Exhibition at La Fab; Chelsea, Quebec

Excited, I am!
Come visit brand new works at La Fab in Chelsea, Quebec.

Details:
Vernissage – Wednesday, June 28th, 2017; 5:30 – 8pm.
La Fab; 212 Old Chelsea Rd., Old Chelsea, Quebec.
Show runs until July 23rd.

Large format one of a kind photographs

Watershed – Chelsea Creek flows through Old Chelsea, Quebec.

I’ll be showing my latest Watershed works, currently being framed.

They are captured directly on paper inside one of two large cameras including an 8×10, home-made, 50 pound, plywood camera/tripod. Each photo from these cameras is unique – no negative or fine art digital file exists.

Harry Nowell creates one-of-a-kind photographs.

Home-made plywood 8×10 camera. Photo paper is placed directly into the camera resulting in a one-of-a-kind photo – no printable digital file or negative exists.

I’ll also be presenting a brand new line of affordable, frame-able, colour Watershed Smalls.

The Watershed Story:
Almost 20 years ago my dear old dog, Tigger, and I wondered where the little creek behind our home runs…

Initially, a fun muddy adventure, we kept exploring up and down stream. After a few years I realized the art potential of such a project. In early years I shot predominantly on medium format slide film and produced large prints, limited to a print run of 5 of three different sizes.

In 2012 I discovered a process to place photo paper directly in larger format cameras creating one of-a-kind artworks.

In 2013 I built a plywood 8×10 camera to accommodate the larger direct paper process. With a year or two of experimentation I started producing works I was happy with. One element I love about the one-of-a-kinds is the basic process – no darkroom or digital manipulation process is possible. I get one chance to get it perfect in the camera – read a little about the process. Each photograph is unique – only one is produced.

Recently, I have started exploring with a smaller, colour, digital process. They are small, frame-able and affordable. There is no print limit on the smalls.

Old Chelsea photo project.

A reclaimed farm rests beside the Chelsea Creek watershed. Boulders remain as a reminder of clearing the fields. This is one of our new line of “smalls” available at the show.

Supporters
Ottawa River Keeper will support our visual adventure at La Fab. Why? Watershed is a 16 year visual journey (so far) along the Chelsea Creek 25 km watershed. Chelsea Creek flows (eventually) into the Ottawa River. We’re all connected – there’s just one watershed in the world. A small percentage of your Watershed sales at La Fab is donated to the Ottawa  Riverkeeper.

La Fab
La Fab is the gallery closest to the inspiration for the Watershed work. I started following the Chelsea Creek watershed in 2001 where an unnamed tributary trickles behind our home. I can follow the creek from our home almost to the gallery. I hope to do one artist’s talk creekside.

Hendrick Farm
A long stretch of Chelsea Creek ‘Watershed’ project meanders alongside the Hendrick Farm development in Chelsea. I am grateful for their support!

I’ve teamed up with some masters specializing in their craft:
1. Dave Andrews, master printer prints my colour works – both large and small.
2. Marie-Helene Drolet, master darkroom technician, processes and helps me experiment with my direct-from-camera paper processes.
3.  Mark Kittridge, fine furniture builder builds frames for my Black & White direct-from-camera originals. Like the unique photos they protect, each frame is hand crafted.

Custom, hand-built frames

Custom, hand-built frames

Our last show was very well received.
For best selection, visit the gallery early.

Details:
Vernissage – Wednesday, June 28th, 2017.
La Fab; 212 Old Chelsea Rd., Old Chelsea, Quebec.
Show runs until July 23rd.

4x5 direct from camera photography

Watershed Photography – Capturing Chelsea Creek on large format cameras.

#1132 Watershed and SunStreaks Exhibition at Chrichton St. Gallery

Join us on April 7th to celebrate watersheds everywhere with a vernissage of original photographs captured along the Chelsea Creek watershed. Following the Chelsea Creek watershed for 16 years (and over 20 kilometres) I have seen abandoned cars, dramatic changes and solitary beauty.

The whole Watershed project started near this little bridge… The creek runs behind our home and, in 2001, I wondered “Where does the little creek go?” 20 km later I am still following Chelsea Creek with my cameras…

large format photography

The creek in Chelsea, Quebec that infected me with curiosity for the Watershed project.

Also on exhibit are innovative SunStreaks. Using an old blueprint chemistry I capture the path of the sun directly onto paper mounted inside  a plywood camera.

cyanotype

SunStreak – Meech Lake, Quebec. The sun’s path burns a line across the sky (and through the paper!)

Current work for both projects is captured in two cameras – a commercially manufactured 4×5 camera and a home-made, fully functioning 8×10 plywood camera.

Recent frames are also hand made by fine furniture builder, Mark Kittridge.

hand made large format camera

The 8×10 home made camera with SunStreaks. The camera and tripod weigh 50 pounds.

No negative or digital file is created while capturing the artworks. In both projects the final paper was placed directly in the camera. Through many attempts and mistakes I honed the process to create consistent works. Part of my attraction to the processes comes from the fact that, unlike traditional photography, there is just one finished product. While I could, technically, create two photographs at the scene, each would be unique.

Join us for the Vernissage:
April 7th; 5-8pm.
Crichton St. Gallery
299 Crichton St.,
Ottawa.

Support  Ottawa Riverkeeper  through the show!
A percentage of sales will be donated to the Riverkeeper as well as a donation from the Crichton Street Gallery. You may donate to the Ottawa Riverkeeper and learn about the good work they do at the Vernissage.

The show runs until April 29th.
Update!
Thanks to supporters of “Watershed.” I just sent Ottawa Riverkeeper over $150 as proceeds from sales of Watershed artworks at this show. Your purchases help support the good work the Riverkeeper does.

Thank-you!

#1126 Imperfection – Manufactured or Natural Beauty

The words “perfection” and “beauty” evoke high expectations and standards that many spend lifetimes pursuing…

Manipulated Perfection
Actors, models and news anchors are expected to appear in perfect form but, as this Dove video shows, it is often after much manipulation including make-up. The beauty of the Dove video is that natural beauty occurs everywhere – it’s our expectation of manufactured perfection that should be questioned.

Photography has followed the same path in the last few decades. Initial photo captures are manipulated, massaged, changed, and doctored to take a natural element and transform it into an ideal that aligns with one’s beliefs. Often the end result has little resemblance to the initial element being photographed.

4x5 photograph

Watershed – Chelsea Creek; near Old Chelsea Village – In the capture, above, I juxtaposed the light levels of the silhouetted underside of the bridge, the bright forest and the strip of well-exposed shade directly under the bridge.

Natural Perfection
About five years ago I started exploring with old, low-tech photography in the pursuit of a more authentic approach to capturing the perfection that surrounds us everyday.

I started searching for processes that were simple and pushed my core photo skills rather than my processing and editing skills.

Low Tech Photo Process
I came across a process that allows me to put the final paper of the artwork into the camera resulting in a (photographically) positive final piece. My only tools to capture the beauty before my camera are shutter speed and aperture. In the dark room there is little room for manipulation and processing except for some contrast and minor tinting possibilities.

8x10 field camera

Low-tech, plywood, large format camera

The results are original artworks that record the bare beauty of the subject before me. I need to select the exposures for the most valuable part of the scene – I can only capture what lies before me. There are imperfections but, for me, that adds to the beauty of the piece.

In the black & white capture, above, I  juxtaposed the light levels of the silhouetted underside of the bridge, the bright forest and the small strip of well-exposed shade directly under the far end of the bridge.

I was also clear as this project developed that I wanted the artworks to stand alone – they come straight from the camera. Each capture is unique.

Photos include my personal representation of the watershed I have been following for 15 years.

New Works and Hand Crafted Frames
As I prepare for the upcoming show with Emily Rose Michaud – InterconnectedWatershed – I have chosen to frame the new works with the help of a seasoned cabinetmaker who has been crafting and installing premium furniture and cabinets for 15 years. He has built the frames with the same care that he builds his exquisite furniture. While the frames are all the same and benefit from Mark’s experience, they are all unique pieces that mirror the one-of–a-kind artworks that they protect.

Custom, hand-built frames

Custom, hand-built frames

Vernissage Details
Come to the vernissage as part of Wakefest – Friday, August 19th, 2016 from 6-8pm – Rutherfords; 753 ch Riverside, Wakefield.
The show runs until September 23rd, 2016.

#1125 InterconnectedWatershed

InterconnectedWatershed is the melding of two water-based art projects that are naturally linked. I have teamed up with Emily Rose Michaud to present our bodies of work on the Gatineau River and Chelsea Creek. The show opens August 19th at Rutherfords’ in Wakefield, Quebec as part of Wakefest.

Emily, a interdisciplinary artist who drew international attention for her Roerich Garden Project is exhibiting her layered cyanotype drawings based on flora and topographical maps from around the Gatineau River watershed.

I’m excited to be collaborating on a project connecting our watershed works – Emily is interested in the Gatineau River and I have been working on a project capturing the Chelsea Creek watershed (which flows into the Gatineau River) for 15 years:

film photography artwork

Some previous Watershed work.

I’ll be exhibiting some new, one-of-a-kind works based on a direct process that allows me to capture the artwork directly onto paper within one of two traditional, low-technology cameras – one I built from plywood.

Home-made large format camera.

Home-made large format camera.

What intrigues me about this process is the challenge to get a close to perfect PHOTO. There is no negative or processing once the lens of the box camera is closed. In traditional film or digitally captured processes, the artwork can be processed in the darkroom or computer to alter the end product. In the process I am using there is no manipulation possible once the lens is closed. The only time for adjusting the final outcome of the artwork occurs when the lens is open and exposing the paper – usually four seconds to 25 minutes.

This artwork is created by placing one (and only) sheet of paper directly in the camera. Only one photograph is created - it's one-of-a-kind.

This artwork is created by placing one (and only) sheet of paper directly in the camera. Only one photograph is created – it’s one-of-a-kind.

The process pushes my limits and wrenches my gut. If I am using a 20 minute exposure the light is fading to dark and there is no chance to try again… In this instance I have one chance to get it “exhibition perfect.”

I am now working with a custom, fine furniture maker to create hand-made frames. Just as each art piece is unique, each of my latest frames is hand crafted. They are works of art themselves.

I’ve been traveling some sections of my local watershed regularly and it’s fascinating to see the creek change so dramatically over the years.

The creek crossing, below, changes every year – a slightly new route, someone “fixes” the wooden bridge, erosion (or humans) take down trees.

Captured on paper directly in a large format camera.

Captured on paper directly in a large format camera.

I’ve explored from Fortune Lake almost to highway 105 – 20km. I have 5km to go to get to the Gatineau River.

The diversity along the watershed also fascinates me. Come to the show and see for yourself:

Bistro Rutherford
753A Riverside Dr, Wakefield, Quebec
Vernissage: Friday, August 19th (6-8pm)
Show runs until September 23rd, 2016.

#1121 Large Format Photography

The more advanced photography becomes the more I find myself chasing simpler technology.

Field Camera

8×10 Home-made plywood camera


High Tech Photography

I admire the tech that’s now available – the potential is amazing if placed in the correct hands. Even in the wrong hands amazing things can happen. That’s good news for many but not so exciting for me.

Large Format Film
Part of what I like about shooting on film is the challenge to create excellence without the support of digital previews and post processing. Technically, a film photo boils down to the correct interpretation of the physics of light using only shutter speed, aperture, recording media and a lens. That’s it.

Field Camera

8×10 Camera Lens – mounted on a wood lens board.

Direct Paper
In the last five years I’ve experimented with shooting directly onto paper loaded into the camera. The paper becomes the unique, final product after simple, traditional processing. There is no recovery for “oops” in the darkroom or computer. There’s no negative, no digital file… just one chance to get it perfect. Click. The big camera and direct process forces me to slow down before I open the shutter.

Art Photography - direct from camera

Sun Streaks captured within my large format cameras.

And that’s what I like. Shooting SunStreaks and my latest Watershed works tests my skills and patience. I can bracket exposure but, at two minutes to eight hours per exposure that gets impractical and expensive.

When I do make mistakes I am discouraged. But when the photos are excellent, straight from the camera, that makes me smile wider than anything I shoot digitally.

My Cameras
I have two large format cameras:
Graflex 4×5 – Mine is very old. It’s so old I found a similar Graflex (below) in a museum. It’s simple. It uses no batteries. I dropped my Graflex in a lake – totally submerged. It still works well after a thorough drying!

Field Camera

Graflex on display at the Canadian Aviation Museum,

Home-Made 8×10 View Camera – I had trouble finding an affordable 8×10 field camera. Someone gently prodded “They’re not hard to build – just a box with a lens…” I spent a summer tinkering with ideas and, with the help of a friend’s added suggestions and precision tools, we built the 8×10 camera out of plywood. I added a Schneider lens and it’s still producing excellent results.

Art Photography

8×10 Camera – Watershed

I use the two cameras predominantly to capture my Sun Streaks and Watershed projects. It’s an enormously slow and challenging process compared to phast photography using current equipment. I like the challenge!

#1120 A winding Path with Grit

It is always nice to look back and reflect on the path traveled.

I’m 47. I’ve worked for about 20 years as a photographer / arts educator. Before that I worked as an outdoor educator with aspirations to become an elementary teacher. I couldn’t get into Teacher’s College in the 90s. But I’ve come back full circle to where I wanted to be.

After disappointments I gave up on traditional teaching and pursued commercial art through stock photography – it was lovely work – one of the most traditionally creative times of my life. I produced commercially viable photographs that were marketed through stock agents. My best sale for one grand use of a photo was ~$32,000 split three ways between two agencies and myself. Alas, the industry crashed (digital cameras and websites caused flooding of the stock photo market.) Time to move on!

Assignment Photography

Stock Photography

Someone suggested I teach photography. I built a broad base of photo workshops – live and online that culminated in opening our own studio / classroom on Preston St, below. Alas, workshop sales dropped off significantly. Why? Who knows, but I think it was tech, again – YouTube offered free learning and smartphones reduced people’s desire for traditional photography. Sigh. I was left scrambling again to re-invent myself.

Photo classes in Ottawa

Photo Workshops at our studio.

A couple of years ago I was very low and a friend inadvertently replanted a seed stored in a drawer of my memory. Teacher’s College… I was accepted, thrived and succeeded. I worked hard and was offered a contract teaching a Grade 4 class until Christmas. It has been extended until June, 2016. I love it.

My photo business has been reborn. Although the new business has shrunk enormously, I am only doing work I love – teaching a few clients and working on two innovative and exciting (to me) art projects.

Cyanotype large format photography

Sunstreaks – tracking the sun’s path across the sky.

It’s been a long road… with many bumps and bruises. But it’s been exciting and I am grateful for where my winding path has taken me.

One of my favourite TED talks rings true as I look back… Angela Lee Duckworth talks about GRIT:

It’s worth a view.
Keep pursuing your passions.

#1119 – 2015 Christmas Photo Sale

I’ve had a great year.
I have many people to thank who helped…
Details about my “thank-you” photo sale are below.

Teaching
I took a leap of faith and went back to school in 2014 to become licensed as a traditional elementary teacher. Teaching has always been part of what I do. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from UOttawa and started supply teaching right away in West Quebec.

elementary school teacher

A “very stern(!)” Mr. Nowell in grade 4.

In August, I was offered a four month replacement contract at our local elementary school. I bring different personas to the classroom: “stern teacher,” voyageur, inspector, newspaper reporter, pirate and others to liven up the teaching. I’m happy to say my contract has been extended until the end of June. I am grateful to those that supported my passion and always-growing skills as a teacher. Thank-you! I love it!

Photography

Watershed one-of-a-kind art photography

Watershed one-of-a-kind art photography

Christmas Photo Sale
My Watershed collection of artwork continues to develop. I continue to shoot and explore 25km of our local watershed in Gatineau Park and Chelsea. I am capturring a creek from Camp Fortune to the Gatineau River with my large format cameras and a process that allows me to create positive prints straight from the camera. The photo paper is loaded directly in the camera… the end result is a one-of-a-kind photograph.

Large Format Camera capturing the sunrise

Large Format Camera capturing a sunstroke (see Sunstreak link below)  at St. Stephen’s Church – a SunStreak original.

As a thank-you to all that have supported my vision and passions I am offering 10% off available photos with an additional 10% going to the Ottawa RiverkeeperContact me to see some Watershed or other work. There are traditional photos from years of shooting music, Sunstreaks, and Watershed. There’s a wide range of prices from $20 for posters to $thousands for large, limited run photographs.

The sale lasts until January 3rd, 2016. Viewings are by appointment only in Old Chelsea, Quebec.

Watershed art work

Watershed art work – a 4×5, one-of-a-kind photograph from the Watershed Collection.

Our Photo Studio
Our Ottawa studio on Preston St. is now the home of Style Zone – a boutique of men’s fashion. Teaching photography will be offered more in the summer is available as time permits.

 

#1098 A big thank-YOU!

Many thanks are due to many people!

Last week I took down my solo exhibition at La Fab in Chelsea.

solo photo exhibition

La Fab exhibition with home made 8×10 camera

The show
I exhibited works from my long term Watershed project. For 14 years I’ve followed and documented the ‘little’ creek behind our house – so far that’s been 18km of exploration along Chelsea Creek (and tributary) and photography, mostly, using medium, large and very large format equipment.

I also exhibited a much newer project using a much older medium – cyanotypes – in a way they are not supposed to be used. I placed the paper directly in the captured and used all day exposures to capture the sun streaking across familiar landscapes.

Roadkill along the Watershed
We closed the show with a discussion about the dangers to wildlife who travel along the Chelsea Creek Watershed and choose between a haunting trip through a tunnel under Highway 5 or a dangerous trip across the major highway. There are permanent blood stains from animals who do not make it across the road…

Mark and Carol Froimovitch

Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green and others listening to the “Preventing Roadkill on the Watershed” discussion.

Press
The exhibition was well received and earned a visit from the region’s mayors and local press coverage. The exhibition caught the interest of  Radio Canada’s Bernier & Cie who featured the unique works in the exhibition.

Many Thanks
Many thanks to Jeffrey, Reid and Adrienne who saved me from a  very late night hanging the show. Thanks to Sandrine who coordinated the exhibition, to the media for their kind words and to Catherine Joyce who wrote an Artist’s profile. And a big thanks to everyone who visited, commented and purchased the artworks!

#1096 September Solo Show Update – “Watershed” and “SunStreaks”

Coming soon to La Fab in Chelsea:
See brand new works from my SunStreaks and Watershed collections.

Join us!
La Fab
212 Old Chelsea Rd.
Old Chelsea, Qc.
September 18 to October 5, 2014
Vernissage: Thursday, September 18th; 5-7pm.

SunStreaks
In 2013 I got excited about a very old process that is traditionally used to create Contact Prints. I started playing with the process placing the blue paper directly in my hand-made large format camera to track the sun’s arc across the sky – this is not supposed to be done!

One of my first tests resulted in the sun burning a hole in the paper while the paper was exposing. Ouch!

large format cyanotype

SunStreak – St Stephen’s Church – Old Chelsea, Quebec The blue line is the path of the sun.

Watershed – Original Prints Straight from the Camera
In 2012 I traveled to Victoria BC to teach a workshop. On that trip I discovered a seed that developed into a process I tweaked to produce unique Black & White Photos.

I have applied this process to my Watershed collection of work.

The final paper is loaded into the camera, exposed and framed.
>> There is no negative, no digital file, no post processing and no opportunity for darkroom manipulation. The result is a one-of-a-kind B&W photo.

This process tests my skills behind the camera and requires me to get a perfect exposure for the complete photo. It’s demanding!!

Large format camera

Watershed Old Chelsea, Qc B&W print direct from the camera – no negative, one-of-a-kind, shot straight from a home made 8×10 camera.

Join us
Vernissage:
5-7pm: September 18th; 212 Old Chelsea Rd., Chelsea, Qc.

big camera

My home made, large format camera – 8×10 field camera

#1092 Solo Show in September

Coming in September I’ll be exhibiting works from my Watershed & Sunstreaks Collections at La Fab in Old Chelsea, Quebec.

Watershed
The Watershed project started 14 years ago as my dear old dog and I started exploring the little creek behind our home.

That turned into an 18 km (so far) exploration of a traditional watershed in Chelsea and Gatineau Park with medium and large format photography. It’s been an amazing adventure seeing how the waterway changes over the years.

Large format photography

Watershed – Black & White One-of-a-Kind Originals – Straight from the camera. 2013

SunStreaks
My latest project started with a home made 8×10 camera and tweaking a 170 year old art process that’s not supposed to involve a camera. The original, one-of-a-kinds depict the sun as it streaks across the sky.

Old cyanotype process

Kingsmere Lake SunStreak – the blue line is the path of the sun. The gaps? Cloudy periods… One-of-a-kind originals – Straight from the camera

The Big Camera
Some of each project is captured using a very large, plywood camera, built by hand. The camera produces originals straight from the camera. Unlike traditional photography there is only one final piece of art available with each exposure.

fine art photography

Hand made 8×10 Large Format Camera

Join us!
La Fab
212 Old Chelsea Rd
Old Chelsea, Qc.
September 18 to October 5, 2014