Country Christmas in Merritt

Country Christmas came and went last month. Merritt hosts the event in November probably because December is too chancy what with people having to travel out of town and simply not having much available time. The weather is certainly better too...it was actually sunny!
There was a lot going on: the craft fair, parade, community band concert, art sale, book signings, midnight madness shopping downtown...

What would Christmas be without wreaths? There were loads to buy in different styles- even a contest for best wreath.

Also available of course were Christmas goodies! Loads of home baked sweet treats ready to serve!

In the main crafters venue were lots of other items such as honey, preserved foods, knitting, fancy hats and scarves, jewelry, glassware, woodworking, tole painting, and even sheep wool products:

In the 'Tea Room' the Valley Visual Artists' sold art work:

The community band held a concert at the Civic Center:

And of course the parade! Native dancers in full costume:

...And floats, here the classic snowman getting a spin on the cement mixer:

And finally, in an interesting display of civic annoyance, protesters were championing gas prices in Kamloops because it is well known that Merritt gas retailers take advantage of the motoring public by charging more mone y for the same product an hour up the road.
These protests have had an effect- they dropped the prices and kept them down the following weekend. Even Harry Lali got into the protests and I admire all those folks who came out to protest.


On Grayscale and Composition

In the course of photo restorations I've come to some conclusions.
Grayscale is very cold looking.

When I work from scans they may have a sepia cast or not. I scan them in full colour mode regardless and work from those results but the end product is open to a lot of interpretation both colour-wise and from a compositional point of view.
I personally think that if you're going to print out an image from a black and white negative it actually looks nicer as sepia which is easy to do on the computer with just about any image editor. Even the instant photo service centers probably have a feature that allows for this.
While gray-scale probably looks better for some subjects than others portraits are not one of those things. Sepia is warmer- closer in flesh tone than gray and that's why sepia has such charm for me.
Then there's composition.
When I scan in an image I try not to crop it except where the edges are useless and can't provide any worthwhile imagery to clone from. Cloning plays a huge role in restoring images: the source material to cover up damaged areas of a photo may well be on the edges of the original.

The picture below represents the original scan; note the excessive amount of space on the left side.

For the print I cropped to the people in the photo which results in a more personal image.

Most of restoration is about scratch and speck removal. It's very tedious but I enjoy watching the image become whole again.
The finishing touches involve effects that bring out sharpness and exposure adjustments...fortunately the latest bunch of images I'm working on don't have too many exposure problems but there are a few tragic cases of damage that are beyond salvaging; a lesson to people who value their photographs is to take care of those prints and negatives. Don't just drop them all in a shoebox or sticky sided albums (those things are terrible!).

Prop a photo up against a thick book on a table in good light with no glare.
Set your camera up on a tripod with the lens at the same level as the print.
Make sure the angle of the front of the lens is facing the print dead on without any off-kilter tilting.
When you have finished taking pictures of your prints save those images on a labeled external drive with a note as to what the pictures are about- preferably you can save that image to the same drive.


Tranquille Sanatorium in Kamloops

I like old buildings. I like old ghost towns too and there really aren't too many left these days and what few remain are fast disappearing. I came across the Tranquille Tuberculosis Sanatorium, or 'Padova City' as it once was called, in an internet search on local history. It's located on the northwest shore of Kamloops and is mentioned in few books I own but at the time I read them it was not yet considered a 'ghost town'. It's now called Tranquille On The Lake.

I drove out to Kamloops to see it and while these are not the type of images I would like to have taken (a bit impersonal) I am still happy that I went...it was cool seeing all these old structures still standing relatively unmolested by vandals and I learned a lot on the tour.

All these old buildings were once part of a hospital, treatment center, residences for staff and patients, church, fire hall, cafeteria, farm, garden, orchard, apiary...the list goes on and on. Back in 1907 or thereabouts when TB was rampant no one wanted to be near the ill people and so the King Edward V11 Sanatorium at Tranquille was located well, well away from downtown Kamloops. Kamloops people weren't happy about it initially but it became a nearly self-contained and self-reliant fixture of the area until 1957- when a cure for TB was found.

A lot of important local people were involved in it's history and it's been through a lot...sometime after 1957 it became a mental hospital, "Padova City", and finally it closed in 1984. Between 2004 and 2009 ownership of the property changed hands and it was used as a location for a few films and is now ripe for residential development.


High School Rodeo

While my brother-in-law was visiting us last month we took him to his first rodeo. It was the high school rodeo and I decided to make an assignment of it: try to photograph an entire rodeo- all the contestants in all the events.
At most I would say I got 90% of the whole thing and this had to do with simply being human...breaks for this and that. Despite missing a few photos I consider it a a rather successful exercise in that I learned a lot more about the competitions and consequently what are better shooting angles.

There was also a lesson in limiting oneself- in an event as diverse and fast-moving as rodeo you have to consider what you really want to capture: the action, the expressions of horse and rider, the overall view or the closeups. I relied on two lenses for the day and although I'm not keen on switching it becomes necessary to "get the whole picture"- and there was still a percentage of blurry or otherwise unsatisfying shots.

I believe I took around 1500 photos that day...after several edits I wound up with 840 that I posted to my web archive yesterday. They are located here: Artemis Graphics And Design Photo Index near the bottom of the page in the center column ...28 pages with 30 images per page and appear in the order in which the events occurred. (The program was not followed exactly).

The original photos are quite high in resolution; enough so that I generally crop out backgrounds for prints unless people want the image as is. On that note:
Some people STILL ask "Can I get the photo larger (and without the watermark?)"
Of course you can; images posted are for online viewing and watermarked to prevent theft. Prints from original files can be made to 11x14 inches and better. Contact me via email/Facebook for pricing.

I was really impressed by the amount of girls in the events. They are tough! I saw some painful moments in the photos that I didn't even see during the rodeo- and those girls just moved past it and got the job done. An image of that kind of moment frozen in a photograph shows this very clearly- it also commemorated less than graceful moments of defeat as well.

Having said this I know that by the time my next rodeo comes around I will pre-define my objectives and go for fewer angles... images that for me capture the spirit of rodeo.


Baillie House

Things were pretty busy last Saturday at the Baillie House!
Great weather to showcase local groups and artists made for a nice day...with granola bars and iced tea for a light lunch. :)
Baillie House is a historic building in Merritt- home to one of the earliest pioneers and now a tourism/info center with a gorgeous perennial garden out front and a small herb and vegetable garden in back.
It is a venue for many spring and summer celebrations and hosts yard sales throughout the year- I have got some amazing bargains there!
There were bird houses and plants for sale- many little cacti potted up in old children's shoes.

The Lilac Conspiracy had a display in tones of purple that showcased the more bohemian aspects of life in Merritt using the lilac as it's theme.

Lilac is a shrub (almost a tree actually) that does phenomenally well in Merritt. It seems to thrive in the heat and the windy nature of Merritt carries the perfume of flowers throughout town. It comes in several shades: deep purple, pale purple, white and there are also pink/burgundy colours. I registered mine :)

Some of the local vendors had preserves on display:

native plants from tribal growers

and lavender for sale (another heavily scented plant)

There were bees and honey as well (I didn't want to get too close):

as well as local art from Shirley Reynolds and Cindilla Trent:

and lets not forget a bit of Baillie House garden: