UK in Canada 2 — Immigrants

February 14, 2010

Canada is an immigrant nation. And for generations, many of those immigrants have been English, Scots, Irish and Welsh. In fact, until Canada’s immigration policies changed in the 1970s, the UK was the single greatest source of new Canadians throughout the 20th century. My observation is that immigrants tend to show two kinds of behaviour once they arrive in their adopted country: the older members of the family try to adjust by recreating odd bits of the life they left behind, while the younger members knock themselves out to fit in at school as quickly as they can.

Canada, in turn, has responded to its immigrants by promoting official multiculturalism. Long after accents fade, passports change and points of reference are adjusted to fit the immense Canadian landscape, many immigrants and their offspring continue to hanker after the occasional Cornish pastie with Branston pickle or kilt for a wedding. And a small service industry is happy to provide it to them, in-person or online.

Gotta go — my haggis and tatties are ready.

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UK in Canada 1 — Symbols

February 14, 2010

Given Canada’s colonial history and patterns of early immigration, it’s not surprising that symbols of monarchy and British identity are everywhere. This is as true at the micro level — a stone lion honouring George VI on a street  corner in downtown Ottawa, for example — as it is at the macro level on maps covered in the names of explorers, soldiers, merchants and settlers from the British Isles. Our Parliament, not far from the concrete cat, bears more than a passing resemblance to its Westminster mother in tradition and daily business. And unless Canada’s tiny republican community multiplies manyfold, we will continue to share our monarch with the UK.

Challenge 4 — Canada/UK

December 12, 2009

I had a problem when considering what to throw Patrick’s way for a challenge this time. Usually, one idea comes to mind quite clearly and I have no difficulty settling on it. For challenge #4 I’ve had a number of ideas, any one of which would probably work. I’ll likely keep most of them in case the well runs dry later.

This time out, the challenge is to come up with three pictures that illustrate the theme “Canada in the UK / the UK in Canada.” Patrick will naturally do the first part and I’ll do the second. The condition is, however, that  neither of us can simply shoot three pictures of the same subject. Since the two of us live in capital cities there are some obvious targets, but we’ll want to portray them creatively rather than simply document them. Where desired and/or necessary, the images can be suggestive or symbolic, rather than literal.

So, how’s that, Patrick — does it work for you?

I’m not happy about this image at all, but I’m well overdue for my response to this challenge, so here goes…

I took this on a recent business trip to Canada’s west coast where I had the opportunity to make a flying visit (literally and figuratively) to Whitehorse, Yukon. On the way there and the way back, I was able to visit Vancouver a little. I took this picture in Stanley Park, a beautiful oasis of green in the mondo condo that is now Vancouver. A former boss was good enough to drive me around and show me the sights, so I jumped out of her car at every picture-making opportunity. All in all, a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Much of Canada’s Pacific coast is breathtakingly beautiful and very different from what I’m used to seeing in my daily life (this is a very big country). A lot of the scenes I saw reminded me of paintings by the Group of Seven, and this shot particularly reminded me of a darkened version of a work by A.J. Casson, a member of the Group.

I’ll need to think of what challenge to launch Patrick’s way. I’ve got a couple of ideas and will make a decision shortly.

So I sharpened this, boosted the colour as much as I could, and did a little curves work on it – do you reckon it still meets the criteria Alan? Not ‘shopped too much?

BTW, this is about the fifth picture I’ve put up on 5000k today – unlike some of the others, this one might stay.

After much delay and many attempts to get WordPress to do what I want, hopefully you are now able to see my first attempt at the third of Alan and my challenges:

Challenge 3

November 8, 2009

So, Alan has agreed to our next challenge, namely to take a photograph in the style of a famous painter (preferably one we like). To add to the stretch, we are to minimise our use of Photoshop or other image-editing software and do as much as we can in-camera. Watch out for results over the next week or two…

And I should be called on the mat, considering how long it’s taken me to get my series of three macro abstracts up here on the blog.  The pace of work recently hasn’t left room for creative time or juices, so my response to this challenge has been very slow in coming. (Made all the worse by the fact that this challenge was my idea and Patrick has had his stuff up for some time.). Fortunately, he seems to be a patient guy and has cut me some slack.

All that said, I decided to go with something close to home and really liked the play of light on these placemats in our back room. Bright sunlight has been in short supply recently and there are strong hints that winter is on the way in the Ottawa Valley. Best to go with warmth, sidelighting and texture when they are close at hand.

Once I saw the three images side by side (simple as they are), I thought they might have a bit more impact if they were presented as a triptych. Being a pragmatic and energy-conscious person (self-justifying code for “lazy”), I decided to look for some freeware to do the job for me. Enter DipStych, a handy little program that allows you to line up multiple images vertically or horizontally, add borders, and change around the order of the images to your own liking. I liked the results and the price was right. I expect I’ll use it again at some point.

So, that’s me for this challenge. I just hope Patrick is still talking to me.

Patrick: Tryptich Three

October 25, 2009

Tryptich 3This last one I deliberately softened as I believe it is an older “furnishing” and as such not as precisely calibrated and clinical, although still a thing of beauty: softening, as I’m calling it, was achieved by lowering the “Clarity” setting on the RAW file in ACR (as we oh so Adobe-literate geeks call Adobe Camera Raw – or so I am told) prior to converting to a JPEG.

Patrick: Tryptich Two

October 25, 2009

Tryptich 2