Vancouver’s Convention Centre under the flow. 

There is flow all around us …

Growing up in Vancouver, I was always aware of the water and changing sky. We had the good fortune of living with a spectacular view of the city and harbour and every day I would simply look out the window for my weather forecast. We could see far to the west from where the Pacific weather systems originated allowing me to decide if this would be a good day to go out and explore in my small boat.

Many years later … as a participant in a Fine Art Photography course taught by the very creative Sharon Tenenbaum, I was challenged to come up with six images on a theme. Inspired by the images of Ursula Albresch, I began to play with some new ideas. These images are the result.

The images are all composites, where one layer is superimposed over another. Each base layer is a local scene, familiar to Vancouverites, with a second layer added to represent the atmospheric flow.

Some of the local scenes were photographed for the project. Others, like the convention centre above, had been waiting in my computer for their opportunity to spring to life.

Getting out of the rut

I find the biggest challenge I face as a photographer is the tendency to keep on doing what I have successfully done before. The problem with repetition is that it becomes routine and stifles creativity. I often imagine myself in a deep trench, unable to see what is out there until I fight hard to climb out. One of the reasons for taking a course is to be pushed in new directions so I’m very thankful for this project even though at times it was like groping in the dark. The creative process, as I keep re-learning, is definitely not linear, predictable or controllable. But when the right conditions for creativity are set, it usually rewards.


Photographing on a cold winter’s day at Burnaby Lake, the highrises of the city tower over the peaceful scene before me.
Looking toward the Gulf Islands from Boundary Bay, my representation of  the Pacific flow seems to blanket the scene.
Awestruck by the beauty of the swirling sky, three people enjoy the scene from Vanier Park in Vancouver. 
On the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Pacific currents circle in preparation for winter’s next onslaught.
The Fraser River flows between Surrey and New Westminster, with currents above and below the surface.

About the photography

As mentioned above, the base layer of each composite is a local scene. The superimposed layers were made by photographing water ripples. To do that, I set up a pan of water with a coloured image reflecting in the water. A flash was used to illuminate the scene. Once I had the exposures and positioning all set, I used a small blower to create the ripples on the water. The picture below shows my set up. I made several hundred images this way.

Initially, I intended to use colour in the images. And the colour looked awesome! But I felt that it totally changed the intent of the images by making them more about the colour than the idea of flow. So, with some BW conversions, my project was underway. 

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on this project …
– how do you climb out of the rut?
– what do you think of this project?
– do you prefer the colour or black and white?

Thanks for reading!

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