KenMiner.CA: Blog https://www.kenminer.ca/blog en-us Ken Miner 2021 ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) Sun, 09 May 2021 17:30:00 GMT Sun, 09 May 2021 17:30:00 GMT https://www.kenminer.ca/img/s/v-12/u852216599-o456058829-50.jpg KenMiner.CA: Blog https://www.kenminer.ca/blog 120 95 Art is for Sharing https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2021/1/art-is-for-sharing Back in August I had the opportunity to photograph a friends dog, Pancho. Pancho passed away later in 2020, completely devastating my pal. I completely understand how he felt, going through the loss of a pet is so very painful.

I had the photos of Pancho on my computer and I knew that I wanted to do something with a couple them, something special for my friend. I decided to do a couple of photo-encaustic pieces and to give them to my friend.

The first one I did is a 5x5 inch panel, this would be the test piece. I printed the photo with my newly acquired Epson printer and mounted it on a wood panel that I made a few years ago. So far, so good. Next was the wax.

I’m always a little apprehensive on the first contact of wax to photo. I am cautious, almost rigid in the application of the molten medium. Horizontal strokes, then vertical strokes with little variation. It turned out well and I am pleased with the results, however subtle they may be.

The next one, a larger 8x8 piece, I attempted a few days later. There was something different about this portrait. Being a black and white was one difference, but the feel was different.

Again, I stood looking at the portrait in front of me, apprehensive, contemplative, calm.

I took the brush loaded with encaustic medium in my hand, swirled it in the pan of wax a few times, then bam, there was wax on the print. I felt my hands moving the brush freely over the panel. The rigid up and down, side to side strokes were replace with curves, dabs, blots and sweeps. (at one point I almost set my brush on fire!) I even added marks to the piece and incorporated oil paint in this one.

There was freedom in the brush. I was relaxed. I was happy. I was in the flow. I worked on the piece for almost two hours but it seemed like a flash of a moment. This is the work I need to do.

I met with my friend today to give him the finished products, he had no idea that I had done these. His reaction was surprise, emotional, grateful. He thanked me profusely, but really, his response was thanks enough.

Make something, share it. 

Stay strong, stay safe.

The 5x5 with wax

The 5x5 Pancho gets the wax

8X8 Pancho is next.

Finished 5x5

Finished 5x5

Finished 8x8, with frame

Finished 8x8, with frame

Detail of tool mark

Making sure to not obscure the tag

Detail of corner

side by side

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2021/1/art-is-for-sharing Sun, 31 Jan 2021 23:02:24 GMT
Take Refuge in Your Art https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/3/take-refuge-in-your-art As I stand at my work table in my office, I pause. I look up from the art piece I am working on. There is soft ambient music playing in the background. I look at the images that I have on my shelves, on my pin boards, and framed work hanging on my walls.

Most of the work is work that I have made, some are works from other artists, some are works ‘of’ other artists. Some artists I have know personally, others are icons of the art world, such as a portrait of Frieda that sits on a shelf right at my eye level.

I don’t often take time to look deeply at my own work. Today I did, and it took me by surprise. As I look at each image I can remember almost every detail about that moment in time, that ‘Decisive Moment’ as Henri Cartier-Bresson called it. That moment when the shutter clicked.

One of the things I noticed about the photos that I have, for whatever reason, displayed in my office all have a common characteristic, there is a sense of calm simplicity. Whether it’s a Polaroid of flowers in a vase, a portrait of my Zulu, a portrait of a farm couple, of a still life of a rusting car, that sense of calm is ever present.

While I was looking at my work, it gave me a sense of peace in this crazy world we are living in right now. Art is important. Our own art is even more so. Art making can be a place of refuge, and returning to that art when it’s finished, after a week, a month, or even two decades later can bring back that feeling of peace and refuge.

I encourage you to go make your art, whatever that is. We need it. I will try to do the same.

Wishing you all peace and good health,

Ken 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) ambrotype art. artist photography wetplate https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/3/take-refuge-in-your-art Mon, 30 Mar 2020 18:11:57 GMT
Did a Hard Thing Today https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/did-a-hard-thing-today I knew that I had to do it. I knew it was time. The knowing didn't make it any easier though.

Today I let go of zuludog.ca. It has been my website domain for the past 13 years or so for the business I built around the name of the 'Best Dog Ever', Zulu. While the business hasn't been operating for the past five years, I hung on to the name, not wanting to let go. Again.

I found her in the fall of 1989. I was 22 and wanted a dog of my own. I remember going to the Winnipeg Humane Society with my mom, 'just to look'. We walked up and down the aisles of the mature dogs, unfortunately none of them connected with me. Then we went into the puppy room. I saw her right away, Our eyes were locked onto each other, me and an 8 week old confident ball of fluff and fury. I said to my mom, "She's the one, don't let anyone take her, I'll be right back!" That was it. I paid the $60 fee and took her home that day. She became Zulu.

8 weeks old and straight out of the Winnipeg Humane Society

She was with me for 16 years. She went everywhere with me. She pulled me through some dark times, but mostly we had tons of fun together. She was my studio dog, my driving partner, my defender and my soul dog. Losing her in 2005 was devastating for me in ways most people wouldn't understand. 15 years later it still tears me up when I think of it.

So even though I know it's time to retire zuludog.ca and create something new, it's not been an easy thing to do. I have a couple of photos of her on the pin board above my desk, I look at those photos often. When I look at the photos I know that the zuludog.ca may be going away, but the Zulu in my heart will be there forever.

Best Dog Ever. Miss you Bug!

In memory of Zulu

1989 - 2005

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/did-a-hard-thing-today Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:51:36 GMT
Photo Encaustic - Part 2 https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/photo-encaustic---part-2 In April 2019 the three of us; Eleanor, Lexi, and me, did a little road trip to Seaside Oregon. I generally don't get many of opportunities on these road trips to make photos for myself, but on occasion I'll snap something that interests me.

We made a stop in Olympia, Washington to visit the Trader Joe's Market. Trader Joe's is always a highlight for us as there isn't anything like it in Canada, so we always make a stop. After filling out basket with some TJ favourites, (the chocolate covered espresso beans are my go-to), we picked up some salads and wraps for a picnic lunch somewhere down the road.

As we drove on the rain began to fall, light at first, then heavier. We pressed on for a whopping 35 miles before deciding that Lexi needed a bio break, and we needed lunch. We pulled off the road at the tiny little town of Brady, Washington. We found a place to park in front of the 'Olympic View Grange' building. We had no idea what 'Grange' meant, but there was a big parking lot and no one else around. We found out later that it's basically a community hall.

The building seemed to be quite old. There was no paint on it, just bare wood braving the elements. I took Lexi for a walk around the building a few times. I was looking at the texture of the wood, the roughness of the unkempt vegetation at the rear of the building and the monochromatic tones accentuated by the flat light of the grey rainy day.

I had to take some photos. I put Lexi back in the van with Eleanor, grabbed my camera and said, "be right back!'

I snapped about 20 photos around the building, then we finished lunch and continued on our way to Seaside. I never really thought about those photos again... until I started thinking about photo encaustic work.

It took a little while to find these photos again, but when I did, I knew this one in particular would be perfect for the process. Again, there is something about adding texture on top of the image that seems to bring it alive. This is my second photo encaustic piece. As I continue to learn I want to bring in more colour and textures. Stay tuned for more adventures in encaustics!


First step, mounting the photo to the panel

Details

Finished piece


 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) 8x10 art barn encaustic photo https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/photo-encaustic---part-2 Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:20:13 GMT
Helping a Friend Capture His Senior Dog https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/helping-a-friend-capture-his-senior-dog Last week I had the privilege of helping my friend Corey take some photos of his Senior dog, Pancho. As a film photographer himself, Corey had been wanting to make some studio portraits of Pancho for some time, but without studio lighting, he wasn't able to get the photos he had in mind.

I packed up my kit of studio lights, a few backdrop selections, and my digital camera and headed over to Corey's place. Having access to a large room, we quickly set up the 'portable studio'. Corey wanted to photograph Pancho on a black backdrop, so that's where we started. We rolled out some black seamless paper, plopped Pancho's bed at the front of the paper and got to work. As Corey was only interested in head shots, the bed wasn't going to be in the photo.

Pancho was a willing subject, it might have been because of the copious amounts of 'snausages' he was being rewarded with! Corey wanted to photograph Pancho with his 4x5 large format camera on film, as well as a couple of other smaller film cameras. Mid way through the session we switched to a white background and added an additional light to make sure we got a pure white background. I let Corey use my Nikon D7500 to shoot some digital photos of each scene as well, as he only shoots film at the moment.

We had a good time making images of Pancho, and it brought back memories of all the K9 images I made over the years for people. I look at the photos I made and think that I helped, even in a small way, create images that people can look at to remember their beloved pets. I'm fortunate that my dog Zulu spent so much time with me in the studio at the start of my career, I have so many wonderful images of her. And with Lexi, I have so many photos of our adventures together on road trips or hiking through the woods of Vancouver Island and beyond.

I know how important it is to capture these fleeting moments and to create lasting memories through photography. So break out your camera and take photos. If you need some help with that, I'm here for you.

KM


Pancho on black ~ photo by Corey

 

Pancho on white - photo by Corey

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/helping-a-friend-capture-his-senior-dog Sun, 12 Jan 2020 21:23:58 GMT
The First Brush Stroke is the Hardest https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/the-first-brush-stroke-is-the-hardest Have you ever wanted to start something, but were intimidated by the process? Fear, as I have found, holds us back from starting so many endeavours in life, especially in the creative life. This fear can come from many sources in our life:

  • the fear of money - will this new thing take too much money?
  • the fear of criticism - will people like what I make or hate it?
  • the fear of failure - will I just suck at this new thing
  • the fear of perfectionism - I want it to be perfect the first time!

I'm also beginning to realize that new things can be done inexpensively, it doesn't matter what other people think (they are not in the arena), you probably will suck at it the first time, and perfection is the enemy of the good. After all, doing art is a personal journey, and there are no mistakes in making art, only lessons.

With all that being said, I finally, after many years of wanting to try photo-encaustics, I did it. Was it intimidating - yes. Was it expensive - not really, but I've had a lot of the stuff for years. Did I fail? I don't think so. Does it suck? I like it, I'm actually really pleased with my first attempt. Is it perfect? Hardly, but that's ok.

A side note on my thoughts of 'perfection' in photography: When I started doing photography I was drawn to the photographers whose images were a little 'off'. What I mean is the images were a little soft in focus, a little grainy in texture, a little rough around the edges even. Maybe it's that aesthetic that drew me towards wet plate and the less than 'perfect' images created through that process. I love the honesty of the process.

Wet plate is also a perfect medium as a starting point for many other art forms. Scanning the plates allows me to create large prints, prints for the encaustic method, and an ability to make collodion negatives to contact print using 19th century printing methods.

I look forward to embracing the fear and pushing through my comfort zone into new creative areas. It's not as hard to overcome the fear as you think once you decide!

km

The original scan from the tintype


 The 8x8 panel mounted print with encaustic medium. I love the texture the wax brings to this piece.
 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) 8x10 ambrotype art camera collodion encaustic largeformat tintype wetplate https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2020/1/the-first-brush-stroke-is-the-hardest Thu, 09 Jan 2020 21:20:47 GMT
Delving into a New Process https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/9/delving-into-a-new-process I am a visual person. I learn visually, I tend to think visually, and am attracted to interesting graphic design. So it is only natural that I keep pushing my self to explore new areas of artistic expression where I can utilize and build skills in woodworking, metal working and problem solving. My newest interest is screen printing, and it contains elements of all that.

The last time I did screen printing was in high school. I remember the smell of the graphic design classroom, the ink, the paper, the darkroom. I loved it. Looking back, it was probably my favourite class. I have completed one silkscreen project, and I'm hooked! I feel like a kid in graphic design class again.

First the design is printed on transparency film.

 

After the screen is coated with a photo emulsion the design is 'burned' into the emulsion with a bright light. Black areas of the transparency become white areas on the screen, this is where the ink will be pushed through.

 

The finished project.

Yes, I think I'm hooked... Already gathering screens and supplies for the next project!

 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/9/delving-into-a-new-process Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:11:39 GMT
An Old Dream Returns https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/9/an-old-dream-returns I once had a dream, a dream to VTA Chart fly.

It was late 1989, I had been driving transport trucks for about six years and was ready for a change. I was getting burnt out from the long trips, I hadn't taken a vacation in, well,  ever, during that part of my life. It was all work, work, work. I was tired of it, the long hours, the loneliness, the boredom.

I had always liked aviation, like any kid, but it seemed unobtainable. Then, on a whim, I went for a discovery flight. My eyes were opened!  I was going to become a commercial pilot! I was able to get a student loan for the $4500 private pilot course, which is the first step to a commercial license, and I was enrolled in flight school. I logged my first training flight on September 24th, 1989! My dream was taking off.

At the beginning I was taking this very seriously. Then things started to slide. I was going through a rough time personally. I was beginning to drink a little too much, not committing enough to studying, not focusing. In retrospect I would say it was a major depressive episode. I had no one to talk to about it either. But I kept at it, slowly.

Then the day came for my pre-flight test. This is the test where the chief flight instructor takes you for a flight test to see if you are ready for the actual Transport Canada flight test. It was a disaster! I was out late the night before, drank way too much and probably got no sleep at all. I should really have cancelled, but I went. I was in all likely hood still intoxicated. At that time in my life, that was normal.

I am sure, no, I know the flight instructor knew what condition I was in. I think he even asked if I wanted to cancel, I said no, let's do it. Things went ok, for a while. I was doing ok for the first part of the test, then things started to fall apart... quickly. The instructor started pushing me harder and harder until I couldn't cope with it any more. My concentration was gone, I had no idea where we were, couldn't do simple math, nothing. I was a mess. The instructor cut the test and took us back to the airport. It was a very long and quiet flight back.

When we landed and parked the plane at the hanger I started to get out. He said, "stop. close the door." Then he let into me like no one ever did before or since. I don't remember the exact words now, but I remember the moment, and I remember how I felt afterwards. It was a good talking to, he was fair, and right when he told me I had to get myself figured out and decide what I wanted to do.

I sat there in the little Cessna 152 on the tarmac, a little numb from the 'lesson' I had just received. It was one of those 'defining moments' we are sometimes fortunate to have, but don't know we need.

After that day I doubled my effort. I studied harder than I ever did, worked hard on correcting my behaviour, and about two weeks later I did another pre-flight test, with a different instructor this time. Some gaps in my flying knowledge were found, and patched up. About a week after that it was Transport Canada test time!

A flight test is about an hour and a half long, and can be pretty demanding. I did all the manoeuvres in relative silence. After it was all done we headed back to the airport. I had no idea how I had done, the tester was giving no indication if I had passed or not. When we got back he asked for my log book. There was a big THUD on the counter as he stamped my book, and he looked at me and gave me a big smile and said congratulations, you are a pilot! That was April 7th, 1991.

I only flew a handful of times after that day, my dream of becoming a commercial pilot were never realized. Life can be like that.

Fast forward 28 years. Yes, it was 28 years ago this September that I started flight training, and I hope to start again in a couple of weeks. With the words of the CFI in my mind, I'm hitting the books again, visualizing my pre-flight inspection, taxi and take off procedures, spin and spiral dive recovery, navigation, landing, and of course all the radio calls to air traffic control. It's all coming back to me, and I'm excited to relearn how to fly again.

I know the dream of being a commercial pilot is long gone for me now, but the dream of flying has never left, and just to fly around our little island will be enough for me... for now, anyway.

(Plus I am too old to drink that much, or to stay up much past 9:00pm anymore!)


Side note:

1989 was also the year that a little 8 week old puppy came into my life. It was in October, a month after I began flying. I went to the Winnipeg Humane Society 'just to look'. Well, my heart was taken the moment I looked at her. I paid $60 on Visa for her and she came home with me that day. She had a tattoo in her ear - YA847. I named her Zulu, her full name was Yankee Alpha Zulu. She was with me for 16 years, I still miss her.

She was the best dog ever.

(Yankee Alpha) Zulu

1989 - 2005

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/9/an-old-dream-returns Fri, 08 Sep 2017 06:13:08 GMT
Fisgard Lighthouse https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/7/fisgard-lighthouse Fisgard lighthouse victoria British ColumbiaFisgard LighthouseBuilt in 1860, Fisgard was the first lighthouse on Canada's west coast. One of the things I miss about working as a full-time commercial photographer is the access to people, places, and things that 'regular' people with cameras don't get. I've had my share of backstage passes for concerts, VIP passes for events, helicopter rides in remote places to photograph mining camps and industrial locations, flying with military search and rescue teams during airshows, and even brushes with well known celebrities and politicians. There are times I'd like to get back into it, but then I see a photographer working to get the 'perfect shot', and I think how glad I am that I can just enjoy my time at what ever function I find myself and not worry about deadlines. But there are times...

At times I think about what it must have been like for photographers in 1860. Location photography was new, it had only  been around for about nine or ten years, and it was fairly expensive, dangerous and somewhat difficult. Not everyone had easy access to photography equipment either, so you could be fairly certain that if you were out photographing a seascape on the coast of Vancouver Island, you'd likely have the first photos from that area ever seen.

But I am sure the one thing that the photographers of the day didn't really worry too much about was access. If you could get there, you could probably set up your darkroom and camera, and photograph the scene, unhampered by the authorities (maybe not military fortifications, though) or selfie snapping tourists.

My first encounter with Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse was in the summer of 1999. My friend and I did a motorcycle trip from Winnipeg that summer, and one of the places we visited was this Parks Canada National Historic Site. For a boy from the prairies who had never seen the sea, that visit left an indelible mark on my memory. Fast forward nearly 20 years and I now live only a stones throw from the place that launched a thousand ships from my imagination. Whenever I see the lighthouse, with it's deep red brick house and the stark white tower set against the brilliant blue sky, I am transported, for just a moment, to the days of great adventure and exploration of the 19th century.

Ever since I took up wet plate photography in 2012 it has been in the back of my mind to photograph Fisgard Lighthouse. After all, the process was still in its infancy when the lighthouse was built,  and Canada wasn't even a country yet, so what better place to photograph using this method, the method that was a witness to the birth of a nation. The trouble was access. I could set up on a nearby beach off the property, but I would not be able to fill the frame enough with the lens that I have. I needed to get closer. I let the idea go. But not completely.

I decided that I needed to put my previous commercial photography experience to use if I was ever going to gain access to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site. Through contacts I had at Colwood City Hall I managed to track down Sophie Lauro, the promotion officer for Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse. I told her of my intentions, what I needed, how the process works, and that I'd happily donate an original glass plate from the session to the Fisgard Archives. Less than 2 weeks later, I was on site making plates.

Perhaps access is not as easy as it was in 1860, but that is not always a bad thing. These places need to be preserved and cared for so that the next generation can launch the ships of their imagination as well.

Big thanks to Sophie Lauro and Parks Canada for granting me access to this amazing site, and to the City of Colwood for their support of arts in the community.

Fisgard Lighthouse Victoria BC lighthouse Pacific NorthwestFisgard Lighthouse - Plate 1 Fisgard Lighthouse Victoria BC Pacific Northwest lighthouseFisgard Lighthouse plate 2

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) 8x10 ambrotype camera collodion colwood fisgard lighthouse largeformat parks canada wetplate https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/7/fisgard-lighthouse Sat, 29 Jul 2017 22:59:12 GMT
Return of the F100 - Part ll https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/6/return-of-the-f100---part-ll Earlier this year I purchased a 'new to me' Nikon F100 film camera. It's the same model of camera that I used when I was working in photography in the '90's in Winnipeg. You can read more about that here.

Anyway, I've had a chance to run a few rolls through the camera, and I gotta say... I LOVE IT!

Of all the cameras that I owned, the F100 was my favourite, and after shooting just 3 rolls of film I remember why. I had a few fumbles trying to remember where all the buttons are, and what they do, but working with it for a couple of days it all came back to me. I even took a couple of glances at the back of the camera after taking a shot, only to remember that there is no monitor, so no checking photos until the film comes back! It took a little to get back into the groove with it, but the way it handles, the way it sounds, and the way the images look, I feel at home in my photography again.

Here are a few results from the F100. Film is Ilford HP5plus developed in Kodak HC110.

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/6/return-of-the-f100---part-ll Sat, 03 Jun 2017 03:53:41 GMT
A Growing Family https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/5/a-growing-family I recently had the privilege to make some photos for my cousin, Mel. She asked me if I could do some maternity portraits of her with her second baby, and of course I said, "sure!". It has been an honour to photograph both of Mel's pregnancies, and to watch the little human that first appeared in a fuzzy ultrasound photo grow to become an active, energetic four year old has been quite amazing.

In October of 2016, Mel announced her new bundle with an announcement photoshoot, and Ava was happy to play the roll of 'Big Sister', a roll that I'm certain she will excel at when the new member of the family arrives... any time now.

With Mother's Day just around the corner, I'd like to wish Melissa a Happy Mother's Day... and a speedy delivery!

...and thanks for letting me document these very special moments for you!



Ava in an ultrasound

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/5/a-growing-family Sat, 13 May 2017 18:50:55 GMT
The Return of the F100 https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/4/the-return-of-the-f100 Back around 1998~99 I bought a camera. It was my 3rd Nikon, and it quickly became my favourite camera to work with. At the time, I was working as a pro photographer and the trusty F100 saw many adventures; press conferences, trade shows, corporate events, and maybe a wedding or two. I put a lot of film through the beast, but the days of film photography were coming to an end, or so we were told.

I thought that if I was to advance my photography career, I'd have to make the jump to the digital era. After a lot of thought, I made a terrible decision, though, at the time it was what everyone was doing. I sold my beloved F100 in order to purchase a spanking new digital camera, the Nikon D1X. The D1X was a great camera for the time, and it was very similar in handling and performance to the F100. It was a good camera, and it served me well. Until it just stopped working. Dead. I got about 7 years of service out of it, that's about $1000 per year. Yeah, it was a $7,000 piece of gear.

I've always missed the F100. I wished I had never sold it, but I did, and I can't go back. But I can go forward. I started to look for a used F100, and after a lot of searching, I found one and took a chance on Ebay. A week after I ordered it, it arrived, and it's perfect! While it's not the exact camera that I once owned, it's like welcoming an old friend back into my life, it just feels right!

I'm looking forward to running a lot of film through this camera, and I know I won't be selling it for another digital camera any time soon.

km

  Nikon F100Welcome back, my friend.

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2017/4/the-return-of-the-f100 Fri, 21 Apr 2017 01:24:27 GMT
Holding Fast to History https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2016/10/holding-fast-to-history Farming may not be the first thing people think of when they think of Vancouver Island, but there is actually a rich heritage of farming here. Some of the oldest farms date back to the early 1800's. Some are still in regular production, and some are under utilized, but they are still important to the people that were raised on the land.

I recently had an opportunity to make some wet plate images for a client whose property has been in the family since 1885. While not the oldest farm on the island, and currently just producing hay, some tree fruit crops, and Christmas trees, the connection my client has to the land is clearly visible. 

We made several plates during my five hours on the farm, starting with the barn, which is original to the farm. The barn was quite far from the darkroom, and the heat was climbing so I needed to work fast to ensure the plates didn't dry out.

Barn

Next we moved on to the houses. There are two houses on the farm, neither date back to the beginning of the farm, but they are both quite old. The first house we photographed was built around 1920 or so. This was actually the second house built on the property, but as things go, a larger house was needed so this one was built. In the background, through the trees an out building is visible.

First House

There was another house built on the property in the late 1930's for the next generation. As was often the case with farms, property gets subdivided and the children get the option to build on the property. This is the home my client grew up in, his bedroom window is visible.

House

Finally, we moved across the road the Christmas tree lot. This is only a small part of this large lot. The client wanted to ensure we could see the lake in the distance, as well as a few of his prized trees. While I was making the plate for this shot my client was ever so gently pruning the tree, just as a master with a bonsai. 

Christmas Tree Lot

By this point in the day the heat in the van had climbed to nearly 40 celsius. At that temperature my chemicals begin to act up, so we cut the session there. We ended up with five great plates that will hopefully help tell the story of the family farm well into the future.

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) 8x10 ambrotype camera collodion largeformat wetplate https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2016/10/holding-fast-to-history Sun, 16 Oct 2016 00:41:31 GMT
workshops https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2015/6/workshops I recently had the opportunity to lead a couple of 'Introduction to Wet Plate' workshops in Winnipeg and Saskatoon. I had a great time and met some wonderful people as well.  I can't say enough about the people in the workshops. They were so eager to learn the process, the history and the techniques of the wet collodion craft. It reminded me of my workshop with Jody Ake, when I was just starting down the road of wet collodion photography. Seeing an image appear on the plate is still a magical experience, and being able to share that experience, and to see the eyes of people light up when their first ever wet plate image appears is as exciting as watching the plate itself.

The history lesson

Some of my work, and my 1902 8x10 Century View Camera

Great light in Ian's studio

Fix, the 'Magic Potion'

Cleared image

Looks good!

The 'pour'. Concentration is key!

Pouring the collodion

Counting down the seconds, 15 to be exact

15 second exposure in window light

Jon is a patient sitter

The gang

Winnipeg, day two, wet plate on location

I did a quick family shoot for a friend with the 8x10

It's so freakin' cool!

Happy with the results!

Right out of the 19th century

The end of the shooting calls for a beverage... not saying what it was

I have to give a big Thank You to Ian McCausland. Without his support, studio, and generosity of time, this would not have happened. All Winnipeg photos are courtesy of Ian McCausland.  Also, a big thank you to Jon Adaskin for his support and help in making sure I had all I needed to run the show in Winnipeg. 

The Saskatoon workshop was held at Ancient Spirals Retreat, an amazing place along the Saskatchewan River. I'm not sure, but I think there just might be something special in the works for another workshop there.  You will have to wait and see. I'm sending out a huge Thank You to Catherine Ritchie for arranging the venue for me.  

Arriving at Ancient Spirals

Saskatchewan morning

Saskatchewan sun rising on the wet plate wagon

The teepee

Class photo

Lining up the shot

No fooling around, Catherine breaks out all her PPE

The classroom (photo by Catherine)

Showing the collodion pour (photo by Catherine)

supervising the shot (photo by Catherine)

Watching Catherine varnish an 8x10

Varnishing the plate (photo by Catherine)

Class photo (photo of the photo by Catherine)

And again, thank you to all the participants. I am truly grateful to have had an opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people. Through teaching you, I learn so much!

“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” 
― Dalai Lama

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) 4x5 8x10 ambrotype camera collodion largeformat tintype wetplate winnipeg https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2015/6/workshops Wed, 24 Jun 2015 05:11:00 GMT
Looking Back - Going Forward https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/4/looking-back---going-forward I grew up on the outskirts of the city.  We had just over five acres of land, the last remaining parcel of a 6o acre farm that my grandfather purchased in the early 1940's.  It was the land where my father spent most of his life, and in 1975 he bought it from my grandfather.  To my relatives, it was always known as "The Farm". Mom & Dad on the farm - 1956

Our lot was bordered by a rundown RV campground to the north, a major highway (on land expropriated from my grandfather) to the south, a river to the east and our front road to the west.  The house was a fairly small two bedroom house.  There was a large dining room, living-room, kitchen and bathroom on the main floor, and two small bedrooms up a steep set of stairs.  The basement was little more than a damp, dark and dreary dug out.  I didn't like going down there.  The house was built by my grandpa and uncles, none were skilled carpenters at the time.  Needless to say, there was not a square corner anywhere in the house.  But it was home.

My dad rented out garden plots while reserving a large portion of the garden for his own, for growing things like peas, green onions, squash and cabbage for a local food store.  My mom had her own private garden away from the bigger "operation".  At one point there were sheep, chickens, some geese, a few wild turkeys and a one-eyed duck named "Peeper".

I remember learning to operate the little farm tractors that we had.  I liked to watch the rough, winter weary earth transform into loose, fertile soil with the first tilling of spring.  It was like we were waking up the soil for another season of work.  I was so fascinated by this transformation, that as I drove the tractor down the field I would be looking behind me, watching the fresh earth churning up from the back of the tiller.  So engrossed in the transformation, I would forget to watch where I was going.  Thus, my rows were never straight.  I would suddenly hear my mom shout, "Look where you are going, not where you've been!", just before I ran out of field.  I heard that a lot when I was a kid.

And now, as an adult, I am once more hearing the echo of those words.  And maybe I should have been looking forward a little more over the course of my life.  The path I have made in my life resembles the rows of freshly tilled soil that was left behind the little tractor all those years ago.  It has not been a straight line to this point, and I suspect it will continue that way.

Lately I have been finding myself looking back, as the road ahead is quite uncertain at the moment.  I'm looking back to the beginning of my photography career (some 20 years ago) when it was exciting and new.  When it was film, chemistry and darkrooms.  Before digital, instagram, facebook and twitter.  Before Photoshop and Lightroom, when getting it "right" in the camera was the way it was done because each frame of film had a little dollar sign attached to it.  While I do enjoy the "modern age" and all the technology, I really miss those analog days.

My photographic past is what draws me to the wet plate collodion process.  I get to use my hands to create photographs.  I am looking at light again; how it falls on a subject, it's properties, it's colour.  I appreciate the discipline that comes with the "slowness" of the process and the care and attention required when handling the chemistry.  It's a process that demands respect, and when it is respected, it rewards with stunning results.

Over the last year and a half of working with and learning this process I have come to appreciate it more than ever.  It is more than just a way to make a photo.  It may be hard to understand, but it's is like working with a living being.  Pouring the collodion onto the plate is like letting the Genie out of the bottle, be nice to it and you will get your wish.

With this antique photo process, I am finding less and less desire to pick up my digital camera, and more desire to work with cameras and processes of the past.

So what does all this have to do with a little kid driving a tractor down a field?  Who knows?  Maybe looking at where you have been can help you move forward, even if the path you make is a little crooked.

 

- - -

"The Farm" is now no more than a vacant lot (as far as I know at this time)  My family was not able to develop it, build a new house or even sell it on the open market as it was "frozen" by the highways department for a future highway project.  The property was sold to the Manitoba Highways Department in 1994~95.  Nothing has been done with it.  Nothing from my childhood remains there, the house was torn down, the driveway and gardens are overgrown.  The river is a weed-bed that nearly dries up in the summer.  The only thing that remain are the memories.

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/4/looking-back---going-forward Tue, 01 Apr 2014 16:39:46 GMT
Organic - People of the Earth https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/3/organic---people-of-the-earth Organic - People of the Earth, a new project.

I recently had the opportunity to visit a local organic farm to shoot some tintypes.  It was a great experience.  Maybe it's because of my prairie roots, but being on the farm reminded me a little bit of my childhood. 

I grew up on a five acre parcel of land in the south end of Winnipeg.  My dad rented out garden plots.  It was fun to walk through the gardens to see what people were growing, and to maybe "save" a tomato or two from getting "too ripe" and falling off the vine.  They were so tasty!

We also had a large garden of our own, where my day grew some vegetables for a local market; green onions, cabbage and squash.  There were also chickens, sheep and a few wild turkeys on the property.  I wish I had paid more attention to the farming life back then.  But I was young and had other things in mind, farming wasn't one of them.  Looking back now, I see that spending those fleeting Winnipeg summer days working outside in the garden were some of my best times growing up.

Maybe that's why I feel such a connection to this new project.  It gives me an opportunity to spend time on the farm, talking to people, spending time with the animals, tasting the food grown right there.  It's a good thing to slow down a little.

My goal is to tell the story of the people that grow food in a sustainable, organic way.  And what better medium to use than wet plate collodion to tell the story; it's the most organic photographic medium there is!

This is only the start of the project, and I hope to visit many farms around Vancouver Island this year.  If you have a farm, or know of one that would be a good candidate for the project, please feel free to drop me a line.

In the meantime, slow down a little.

K

Thanks to the people of ALM Organic Farm for the great day!

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/3/organic---people-of-the-earth Fri, 07 Mar 2014 18:14:55 GMT
Her Name was Cajun https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/2/her-name-was-cajun I remember the first time I met her.

Her big, wide head was held high as she circled the car.  Her bark was deep, slow, and deliberate.  She was a solid dog, with a short, dark brown coat with faint brindle markings.

Her intense, light brown eyes seemed to look deep into your soul, searching to see if you were a good, or not good, person.

I was just starting to work as a dog walker, and Cajun was my first "out-walk" client.  I hesitated a little before I opened the car door to get out.  But, I did.

Cajun came up to me, I looked past her, trying not to look into those eyes.  She circled me a few times, the barks turned to a low growl, then a wagging tail.  She must have determined that I was "good", thankfully.

That was the beginning of one of the tightest bonds that I have ever had with a dog since my dog, Zulu, passed away three years before.

I visited Cajun and her house-mates, Freddie and Kale, nearly every day for five years.  I'd throw balls for Cajun and Kale while Freddie would romp around on her own; she was the old timer of the crew and was happy to do her own thing as the "kids" played. 

Cajun would inevitably end up with all three balls in her mouth, keeping them away from Kale.  After the play session, exhausted from running around, we would all lie around in the shade of the Big Leaf Maple trees, enjoying the warmth of those long summer days.

In the winter, we would patrol the large yard, or go for a walk along the road to the little lake, then come back to the house for a towel off and a cookie, or maybe two.

A few years later and Cajun's crew moved to a new home.  There was a bigger back yard; acres, and acres with a trail at the end of the property leading to the adjoining park.  We had a great time exploring the new territory.

Then things began to change.  Cajun wasn't as active.  She still enjoyed her walks, but it wasn't with the same enthusiasm that she once had.  Finally, on one visit, Cajun's owner broke the news to me.  Cajun had cancer.  It hit me hard.  Harder than I thought it would.  We had become so attached, even though she wasn't my dog, we were very good friends.

As Cajun's health deteriorated, her owners told me their plan was to have the vet come to the house to have Cajun put to sleep.  They asked me if I could come and spend some time with Cajun before they helped her make her crossing.  "Of course", I said, "I'll be there."

On the day it was to happen, I arrived at the house.  There was no one there, only Cajun.  That was odd, she went everywhere with her peeps.  I let myself in, and began to give Cajun a massage.  Cajun seemed to be a little worried about something.  Did she know what was to come?  I worked with her for almost an hour.  Just her and I in the house.  It was so quiet, so moving.  I felt her relax under my hands.  I reassured her.  I hope I gave her peace.

After the session was complete, I told her that I had enjoyed our time together, and that she was a very special dog.  She looked at me with those piercing light brown eyes, searching my soul.  There was a connection.  We held each others gaze for what felt like an eternity.  She took a deep breath, sighed and put her head down, closed her eyes and went to sleep.  I stayed with her for a few more moments, holding her paw, not wanting to break the connection, as I knew this would be the last time I would see her.

I walked down to the back of the yard where I could hear Cajun's owners talking.  They were making the grave, under a very large, Big Leaf Maple tree.  I helped them dig.

When the work was done, we hugged, everyone had damp eyes.  We told a few Cajun stories, then it was time for me to go.

The vet arrived just as I was pulling out of the driveway.  That was the last day that I saw Cajun, my pal.  I miss her, she was a great dog.

The experience that I had with Cajun on that day was very difficult, but very rewarding as well. The hands are amazing instruments of communication, and through touch, we can connect in ways that are not possible with words.

 

Cajun's owner shared this poem with me:

I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"

Gone where?

Gone from my sight.  That is all.  She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

Death comes in its own time, in its own way.
Death is as unique as the individual experiencing it.

Anonymous

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/2/her-name-was-cajun Thu, 20 Feb 2014 17:57:03 GMT
Social Media Saturdays https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/2/social-media-saturdays Lets Get Social!

Facebook, LinkdIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and many other social media sites are fast becoming the first contact a potential client has with you or your company.  Having a well made photo of yourself on the profile page is very important; it conveys a message to a prospect faster than the most clever bio you could come up with.  And let's face it, attention spans are getting shorter, people will form an opinion on a picture before they invest time in reading all those well chosen words.

You may think that the "selfie" you posted from your phone, while on vacation, with a Mai-Tai in your hand, and dark glasses covering your blood shot party weary eyes is a good way to show your fun loving character.  It's not.  Keep those pics for your personal FB page.

A good, effective head-shot is clean, simple, and tells the viewer about you in a positive way, quickly and without gimmicks.

So, with the goal of helping people show their best side, I am introducing  "Social Media Saturdays".  Social Media Saturday is a great opportunity to get a great head-shot for all your web based profiles.

How It Works

It's simple.  Book a profile portrait session with me at my studio on a Saturday between 10:00am and 3:00pm, come in, sit down, I'll snap some photos, we'll have some laughs and that's that part done.  The session will take about 20~30 minutes.

After the session I will create a password protected gallery for you with 15 to 20 shots for you to choose from.  Once you make your selection, I will edit the photo and email you a web ready image file with two variations, one colour, and one black and white.

How Much Will it Cost?

Social Media Saturday profile portrait sessions start at $49.  This fee includes the session, password protected gallery and one edited file in colour & black and white.

Do You Have a Company with Several Employees?

I can do profile head shots on location as well.

So, let's get social!

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/2/social-media-saturdays Tue, 04 Feb 2014 17:34:11 GMT
Bookbinding https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/1/bookbinding This year I will be delving deeper into the bookbinding world.  Here is a sample of a little book I just finished.  It's a 6.75x3 inch, blank inside, Japanese bound book that can be used as a notebook, or add photo corners to make it a little album.  The text-block features Arches paper with a deckle fore edge.

Other projects that I will be working on in 2014 include a hand-bound coffee table book of photos that I took while I was in Cambodia; a book of antique, alternative process art prints, and several custom journals.  I'll be posting photos as the books progress, so watch for that.

Front cover 6.75"x3".

14 blank pages.

Classic Japanese binding.

Back and front covers, retro dog design.

Arches paper with deckle finish on foreedge.

Black endpapers for a clean, contemporary look.

Japanese binding.

Back cover.

Quality control by Lexi.  She approves.

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2014/1/bookbinding Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:28:43 GMT
Operation Feed-A-Fido https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/12/operation-feed-a-fido This November and December I put together a little event I called, "Operation: Feed-A-Fido".  It was a holiday pet portrait event and I feel it was very successful!  Photo sessions were offered at a discount if people brought in a minimum of 20 pounds of pet food.  I did 14 sessions, and food from the sessions weighed in at just over 550 LBS!  Awesome!

The food was collected for the Goldstream Food Bank's "Westshore Christmas Hamper Fund" and delivered on December 18th.  The pet food we collected might just mean the difference between a dog staying in their home, or being surrendered to a shelter.  Through "Operation: Feed-A-Fido", local pets-in-need will have a holiday meal this Christmas, and well into the new year.

Thank you all for participating, and a special nod to Starlight Labradors, Mike & Jenn Real Estate and Island Pet Source for their contributions to "Operation: Feed-A-Fido".

Now, here are a few photos from the event:

Delivering 550 pounds of food was easy with all the volunteers at the food bank!

 

Thank you again, and be sure to watch for "Operation: Feed-A-Fido", by ZuluDog, again next Christmas!

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/12/operation-feed-a-fido Fri, 27 Dec 2013 01:17:21 GMT
Photographing Kids https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/12/photographing-kids I've heard it said that you should do one thing every day that scares you.  Recently I did just that;  I photographed some kids!

I have a hard time relating to kids, I feel a little uncomfortable and out of place around them and I don't understand their "communications".  Now, put me in a room with a pack of dogs and I can tell you what's going on with them, and read their state of mind almost instantly.  Kids, not so much.

That being said, I did manage to relax and have some fun with these guys.  I think I may have captured some nice moments for the family as well.

So, yeah, I had a good time working with these kids, and I survived!  I might even be talked into doing it again some day...  Some day.

 

"If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness." ~Les Brown

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/12/photographing-kids Sat, 07 Dec 2013 06:30:49 GMT
Capturing Spirit https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/11/capturing-spirit I recently had the opportunity to create a very special wet collodion portrait of my friends, Lola and David.  

Here is what they said about their experience:

Lola & David8x10 Wet Collodion on Aluminum

"Sitting for our wet plate photo was part photo-shoot, part history lesson and part meditation.  What a one-of-a-kind experience. The photo itself captures so much rich emotion because it truly represents the passage of time, something you only appreciate while you are trying to remain perfectly still for 30 seconds or more.  Learning about the process, watching the preparation, the development and the treatment of the photo made me feel a part of the entire history of photography.  We will treasure our wet plate photo unlike any other we have".

Each plate is a partnership between the sitter and the photographer, that's true.  But it is also a partnership between the sitter and the camera, the plate, the chemistry and time.  I believe that the collodion process does have the ability, or even the power to record a person's soul.

Lola and David are both amazing people with great hearts and kind souls.  I believe that this plate shows that so beautifully.

There is one other little story behind this plate, and it sent a little chill down my spine:

Making a plate is a multi-step process, the final step is the varnish.  As I was doing the varnish, a little white dog hair got stuck in the varnish on the plate, on the step next to David's leg.  I told Lola about it, and she smiled. 

Unknown to me, Lola and David each put on lockets for the shoot, each locket contained some hair from their little side kick, Gorrilla, who passed away last December.

Maybe, just maybe, the little white hair is Gorilla's way of showing his presence in the photo.  I like to think it is.

 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/11/capturing-spirit Tue, 12 Nov 2013 07:09:47 GMT
Blessing https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/10/blessing This past evening I had the opportunity to sit in on a very moving event here at Best Friends Animal Society.  On the last Thursday of each month at Angels Rest the Society takes time to bless, and to recognize, the animals in their care that have passed on, or crossed the "Rainbow Bridge" during that month.  This Thursday was extra special.  On the last Thursday of each October the blessing includes all the animals that have crossed during the year.

As the assembled group of animal care workers, volunteers, and Best Friends founders read out the name of each animal that had crossed, I noticed three crows circling above.  Two of them landed on a rock high above Angels Rest on the canyon rim, while the third flew on, on it's own.  The breeze stirred and the wind chimes played their music.  It was as if the spirits of all the animals resting here were also reading out the names.

One of the speakers, a Lakota Elder, sent a blessing to the seen, and the unseen; known and unknown.  He also spoke of the connection of all beings, not only human and animal, but Earth Nation and Star Nations, the creepers, crawlers and swimmers.

At the end of the reading of the names, people were invited to speak about any of the animals that they may have known or interacted with.

There were stories about cats, dogs, pigs, birds and horses.  There were  stories of animals that had been adopted into loving, caring homes, even if it was only for a short time before they too, crossed.

As I walked around Angels Rest after the ceremony I was looking at all the names on the markers and I began to think of all the dogs that I have been so lucky to have known in my work and personal life that have crossed;

Happy, Molly, Gunner, Cajun, Freddie, Sasha, Scruffy, Jackson, Kody, Deker, Jasper, Grizzly, Panda, Gumbo, Buzzer, Puddles, Buddy and Buddy, Gorilla, and of course, Zulu.  May they all, the known and the unknown, have peace.

 

 

"One last word of farewell, dear master and mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: "Here lies one who loves us and whom we loved." No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail."

Eugene O'Neill

 

 

For more information about Angels Rest, visit http://bestfriends.org/The-Sanctuary/Explore-the-Sanctuary/Angels-Rest/

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/10/blessing Fri, 25 Oct 2013 13:50:22 GMT
Acquiring History https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/9/acquiring-history The other day something amazing happened.  I acquired a beautiful piece of history.  It has been in it's case, on a shelf, for over 30 years; not seeing the light of day, and it craves light, craves being seen, and seeing.

What is this piece of history, you ask? It is a beautiful, fully functional, 8x10 view camera made by the Century Camera Company in Rochester, New York, in 1902.  It is in mint condition for a 111 year old wooden camera.  I am so grateful that circumstances aligned to have this camera find me.

Century View Camera

 

Looking through the huge ground glass at the upside down and reversed image being projected through the lens for the first time gave me chills.  I wondered, "who else has looked through this lens, what has this camera seen, where has it been, what is it's story?"

This camera came into my life for a reason, and at the right time.  I look forward to breathing new life into this incredible machine, and adding more pages to it's story. 

Our first chapter together will begin in a couple of days as we set out together on a six week road trip.  What will we see?  I don't know, but I am sure it will be interesting. 

 

By the way, I will be offering wet plate portrait sittings using this very camera beginning in November.  Please contact me if you would like to have the unique experience of sitting for an 8x10 tintype portrait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/9/acquiring-history Mon, 23 Sep 2013 06:51:18 GMT
Thank You Dog Bone https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/8/thank-you-dog-bone This past Sunday, August 18th, The Dog Bone graciously hosted a K9 photo day.  Sadly, it was the last photo day that I will do there.  The Dog Bone will be closing their doors for good at the end of the day on August 24th.

Over the past five years The Dog Bone has hosted many photo days, as well as the very popular, Dogs with Claus - photos with Santa.  I have enjoyed working with Ole and his staff on these events, and have enjoyed meeting his customers; some of which have become my clients too.

I have come to know Ole and Cathie very well, and I feel fortunate to consider them very good friends.  I know that they will be missed by a lot of people that made The Dog Bone their favorite pet food and accessory store.

I wish Ole and Cathie good fortune for the future, and a heart felt thank you for their support and encouragement.

Thank you.

 

Now, here are a few photos from the last photo day:

Charlie

Guinness

Echo

Juice

 

PS, I will be doing pet portraits with a holiday theme this November/December at my studio.  Stay tuned for details.  There may or may not be a Santa for the dogs.

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/8/thank-you-dog-bone Thu, 22 Aug 2013 18:48:05 GMT
Photography and Dog Massage? What's up with that? https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/8/photography-and-dog-massage-whats-up-with-that I know it seems a little odd, so I thought I'd explain.

I am a photographer.  Photography is an art. 

I am also a canine massage practitioner.  Canine massage is also an art.

Combining the two, to me anyway, is "Art of the Dog".

In 2005, after 12 years of working as a full-time commercial photographer I needed a break.  I bounced around a few jobs for a while, not sure what to do.  I ended up working for a doggy daycare company.  It was there that I discovered my "gift".  I found out that I could calm a room of 15 rowdy dogs without saying a word.  I could walk into the room and the energy would settle from out of control excitement to a relaxed quiet room.  I could make eye contact with one dog in the crowd and call him to me, again, without saying anything.

As I worked with individual dogs I was able to help them overcome anxiety and fears by simply placing my hands on them.  It was instinctual for me.  I let the animal guide my hands.  I could feel tension drain away from them; for some it was a trickle, for others it was a torrent.  I was communicating with them on a completely different level.  It was remarkable.

I soon realized that k9 massage was a real "thing" and that I could take courses in it.  I signed up for the level 100 course at Northwest School of Animal Massage and 8 months later I was a certified small animal massage practitioner.

In 2009, shortly after I returned from my week long practical in Redmond, WA, I left the doggy daycare and started ZuluDog K9 Services; a dog walking, k9 massage and photography service.  I have recently stopped doing the dog walking to concentrate on massage and photography work.

Now, how do k9 massage and photography fit together?  Well, I photograph a lot of dogs, and having the massage skills comes in very handy.  If a shy, tense, nervous or fearful dog comes in for a portrait I will work with her to calm and relax her.  It can take a bit of time for some dogs, but it works wonders.  The resulting photos are of a relaxed, happy dog, not a stressed out mess of a creature.

And there's more.  I have a very active dog.  We had a bit of a scare and thought she may have torn a ligament in her knee.  We were lucky that it was only a partial tear and she didn't require surgery.  I was able to provide massage to her which helped in her healing and recovery and brought her back to balance.  That inspired me to take the 300 level course, rehabilitation massage.

In October I will be traveling to Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah for the five day practical portion of my course.  Once certified, I will be looking to team up with area veterinarians to provide massage services to sick or injured dogs and dogs recovering from surgery.  I will also be looking to team up with other dog professionals; trainers, walkers, groomers, doggy daycare centers, service dog handlers, etc., as k9 massage provides many benefits to healthy active dogs as well.

So, the "Art of The Dog" is more than just taking a photograph of a dog.  It's about the entire process and experience, for not only me, but mainly for the dog.  A photo session of a dog, in the studio or in the field, should be a positive experience for the dog.  And if I can help a dog have a great time, with a little massage thrown in, even better! Dogs are like wet cement, how we touch them leaves an impression.

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/8/photography-and-dog-massage-whats-up-with-that Fri, 09 Aug 2013 07:05:45 GMT
Best Photo https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/8/best-photo Well, the Sooke Fine Arts Show has come and gone for another year, and what a year it was!

The Sooke Fine Arts Show is a pretty big deal here in Victoria, people plan their vacations around this show!  Now in its 27th year, it attracts artists from all over Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast.  This year, 635 artists submitted over 1400 pieces, of which 261 artists were selected to show their 382 pieces of art.  I was honoured to be included among those selected.  Getting into this juried show is a big accomplishment on its own, and I was very excited to get into the show at all; the bar is always rising with more and more art being submitted every year.

Of the three works that I submitted, only one got in.  And I am thrilled that it was my little tintype of a blossom.  To top it off, it won the "Best Photography" award!  And, to add a little more spice... it sold on the first night of the 11 day show!

It has been an incredible journey back in time to learn this antique, hand made, photographic process and it continues to lead me down long forgotten paths of antique photographic image making techniques.  My passion for photography has been renewed.

Winning "Best Photography" with a tintype means so much to me.  It gives me the encouragement to continue, to follow this path and to follow my passion, even if I have to travel back in time 160 years to do it!

 

I just need to acknowledge a few people that, without their help, this wouldn't have been possible. (sounds like an Oscar speech)

Thanks to:

- Quinton and Diana of Luz Gallery, for your dedication to handmade, traditional photographic processes, and for holding the workshop that started it for me.

- Jody Ake, for your laid back, patient instruction of this process and for answering the questions that I send you on Facebook.

- Hailey Finnigan, for being my first model, willing to jump in front of the camera at a moments notice.  All I had to say was, "Hailey, wanna do a tintype?" and you'd be there!  You were there from the start and have seen the successes and the disasters. 

- Florence at Art World Framing, you did a great job on the framing, thanks!

- and most of all, Eleanor, for believing.

Thank you all for your continued support.

 

Ken

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/8/best-photo Tue, 06 Aug 2013 05:48:52 GMT
20 Steps | Week 7 https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/5/20-steps-week-7 These small flowers are poking up through the deck boards.

Be sure to visit these "20 Steppers" as well:

Mimi Roy

Shena Meadowcroft

Amy Waldman

Terri Rodstrom

Marti Conrad

Dini Burisma

Nicole Valentine-Rimmer

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/5/20-steps-week-7 Mon, 13 May 2013 15:12:36 GMT
Getting a Tintype Portrait Made: a Clients Perspective https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/5/getting-a-tintype-portrait-made-a-clients-perspective

 

The Experience of Getting a Tintype Portrait

My friend Hailey shares her thoughts about what it's like to sit for a tintype portrait at my studio.  Hailey has been a great subject for me, willing to sit for a portrait at a moments notice.  She has seen the progress I've made with wet plate, from being unable to get an image to work at all, to now getting consistent results and really cool images .  I still get a shiver down my spine when an image comes up on the plate!  For me, creating these pieces is what photography is all about.  The feel of the metal and smoothness of the glass like varnished surface and the smell of lavender in the varnish makes a wet plate photo a complete sensory experience.

 

This is what Hailey had to say:

 

"Sitting for a tintype portrait offers two special experiences. First, there is a fantastic sense of quiet, patience and process as you sit to have one exposure taken of you – as opposed to the flurry of shutter snaps a standard digital photo-shoot offers. One exposure at a time is how this one hundred and fifty year-old technique works. A lot of care has to be taken to prepare one exposure: focusing for the shot, mixing the chemistry, pouring the collodion, loading the wet plate, judging the amount of time for exposure. All of this means sitting for a portrait is a markedly different experience.

The second special part about tintype portraiture is seeing the finished image. The technique produces an image that resembles yourself, but at the same time brings out features that are sometimes out of view. The tintype is a one of a kind, in a way it’s an original photograph because there is no negative. To protect the delicate layer of silver, the plate must get a protective layer of varnish. The varnishing leaves the plate smelling of lavender.

This experience should be on everyone’s bucket list."

Hailey

 

 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/5/getting-a-tintype-portrait-made-a-clients-perspective Sat, 11 May 2013 05:10:52 GMT
20 Steps | Week 6 https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/5/20-steps-week-6 Lamprocapnos spectabilis, or Bleeding heart flower is native to eastern Asia from Siberia south to Japan. It is a popular ornamental plant for flower gardens in temperate climates, and is also used in floristry as a cut flower for Valentine's Day. It usually has red heart-shaped flowers with white tips which droop from arching flower stems in late spring and early summer. White-flowered forms are also cultivated.  (from Wikipedia)

 

See more artist's in the "20 Step" program

Mimi Roy

Shena Meadowcroft

Amy Waldman

Terri Rodstrom

Marti Conrad

Dini Burisma

Nicole Valentine-Rimmer

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/5/20-steps-week-6 Mon, 06 May 2013 13:00:00 GMT
20 Steps | week 5 https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/20-steps-week-5 Today I got down on my hands and knees to take a shot and was rewarded with this image.  As I study the photo I can't help but be in awe of the diversity and design of nature.  I can almost feel the fern taking a deep breath and waking up from a long winters slumber; stretching it's fronds skyward to the sun.

 

Be sure to check out the "20 Step" work of these talented artists as well...

Mimi Roy

Shena Meadowcroft

Amy Waldman

Terri Rodstrom

Marti Conrad

Dini Burisma

Nicole Valentine-Rimmer

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/20-steps-week-5 Mon, 29 Apr 2013 13:00:00 GMT
20 steps | weeks 3 and 4 https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/20-steps-weeks-3-and-4 I missed last week.  So this week I am posting two photos.  I think they both represent how I have been feeling for the last little while.

Have you ever just felt like you can't get moving.  Everything feels stuck and rusty, kind of like this bicycle chain?

This week I began doing a little bit of yoga, a new endeavor for me.  Even though I have only done a couple of sessions, I am beginning to feel the benefits.  I can feel the "rust" dissolving.

And what goes along with the rusty body?  A frazzled mind.  Yoga is not only removing the rust, but it's taming the mind with meditation.  In time the string of thoughts become smooth, un-knotted and less frazzled. 

Can you relate to these photos that way?

 

Check out these blogs that are also doing the "20 Step" project:

Mimi Roy

Shena Meadowcroft

Amy Waldman

Terri Rodstrom

Marti Conrad

Dini Burisma

Nicole Valentine-Rimmer

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/20-steps-weeks-3-and-4 Mon, 22 Apr 2013 18:37:55 GMT
Kona https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/kona This is Kona.  He is looking for his forever home, can you help him?  He is available through Victoria Adoptables.

This is his bio from their site:

"Meet Kona; a big marshmallow in a brindle suit. If you are looking for a big goofy boy, this is your dog. He didn't have the best start in life. He was owned by some people that left him in a bad situation & he got beat up pretty badly by some other dogs.
As a result, he has a steel plate and screws in his right front leg. He has completely healed from that and is looking for a permanent place to call home.
Because he was beaten up so badly by dogs, he doesn't trust some of them (usually larger males) and should probably be in a home where he is the only dog. And being the big goofy boy he is, he will chase a cat if they run.
He has completed level one obedience and has been working with a canine behaviourist for a year now getting his issues with other dogs resolved. His trainer described him as playful and energetic with a silly side.
He likes to fetch, loves the water, and loves being cuddled.
But, being in foster care for a year is not fair to him, he needs a home where he will have somebody that will continue providing him with love, guidance & structure.
If you think you can provide him with a home for the rest of his natural life, please don't overlook this dog. He is a gem."
 
 

 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/kona Thu, 18 Apr 2013 14:57:59 GMT
20 steps | week 2 https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/20-steps-week-2 This tree is in our back yard.  We moved to this place in November when the tree was bare.  It will be interesting to see how much shade this big leaf maple will provide and what birds will find a home among its branches.

 

 

"Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars... and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful.  Everything is simply happy.  Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance.  Look at the flowers - for no reason.  It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are."  ~Osho

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/20-steps-week-2 Mon, 08 Apr 2013 15:00:00 GMT
Pineapple Express https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/pineapple-express Today I had a piece of pineapple.  Not all that exciting of an event, I realize, but for me pineapple will always take me right back to Chiang Mai, Thailand and my experience house sitting there nearly one year ago.

As I took a small bite of the juicy, succulent pineapple, I closed my eyes, and, BOOM, I was right back there.

I see myself standing in the kitchen of the simple little house in a Muu Baan just south of Chiang Mai.  I remember Who are you? eating pineapple over the sink and looking out the window, through the bars, over the cinder block fence, past the mango trees, across the street to the jackfruit tree with it's fruit hanging heavily just inches from the ground.

I can hear the children, just returning from school in their spotless powder blue tops and navy blue skirts or pants, playing and laughing in the quiet street.  I have no idea what they were saying, but it was all said with much laughter and happiness.  I don't think I ever heard a child cry while I was staying there.

I can hear the neighborhood dogs barking at strangers walking by, or at other dogs entering their territory, or yipping excitedly as the children play with them.

I can hear the jingling bells of the ice cream vendor and his scooter sidecar rig slowly putt putting his way up and down the streets selling his tasty treats; a cup of vanilla and mango ice cream with sticky rice and crushed peanuts, or you could get your ice cream on white bread if you like, a real ice cream sandwich!

I am reminded of the young family at the local corner fruit and vegetable market where I bought my pineapples.  I remember how I looked forward to seeing their smiles and sharing laughs as we tried to understand each other, determined to not let the Thai/English language barrier stop us from being friends.  I think of them often and hope that one day I will buy a pineapple or some mangosteens from them again.

Spending seven weeks in a village that was pretty much exclusively Thai was an experience I will always remember.  Lucky for me I can go back anytime I like and all it costs me is the price of a pineapple.

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/4/pineapple-express Wed, 03 Apr 2013 05:08:18 GMT
20 steps - week one https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/3/20-steps A few days ago a friend of mine was looking for a photo project to do.  I thought back to my days in photo school and remembered an assignment we were given.

The idea was that we had only one frame of film left on our roll and we needed to make a great shot within 20 steps of our home.  Sounded easy enough; until you went out to shoot something.

At first it was kind of easy to just go out and shoot something and be done.  But before long that last frame became a treasured commodity; one to hold onto and not waste on some random shot.

I began to really think of what I wanted to use that frame for.  I'd pick a subject and wait until the light was right.  Carefully set up the shot, making sure everything looked right in the camera because there was no "Photoshop" then.  I would meter carefully, then with just a little hesitation I would trip the shutter.  That was it.  Done.

I wouldn't know if I got the shot until I developed the black and white film and made a contact sheet.  I can't remember what I photographed, or what happened to the prints, but I do know that the exercise helped me to "see" what was right in front of me.

I suggested to my friend that she give this project a try, and I think I will revisit the project too!

Now, with rapidly changing technology, the rules are a little different and open to interpretation.  The camera type does not matter, an iPhone is perfectly acceptable to use and I am even ok with apps like Instagram and all it's filters.  If you want to use an "old school" 8x10 view camera, that is cool too!  The key is that you only take ONE photo, and it has to be within 20 steps of your door.  It can be your front door, back door, side door, garage door, or even a door at work.  The point of the project it to get you to "see" things.

So here is my first "20 step" photo.

 

 

"Buddha on deck"

 

Please feel free to join in on this project and challenge yourself.  Leave your blog URL in the comments.

Happy shooting!

 

Check out my friends 20 step blog entry here  http://nvalentine.blogspot.ca/2013/03/20-steps-outside-my-door.html

For more inspiration, here are some other people that are also doing the project:

http://www.ourtreehousedesigns.blogspot.ca/2013/03/20-steps-outside-my-door.html

http://byshena.blogspot.ca/2013/03/20-steps-outside-my-door.html

http://amywaldmansmith.blogspot.ca/2013/03/20-steps-from-my-door.html

 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/3/20-steps Sun, 31 Mar 2013 15:52:57 GMT
Out of the Ether https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/1/out-of-the-ether

Out of the Ether

I fell in love again.  I found my roots.  My passion for photography has been rekindled. 

I began my photography career 20 years ago, learning the ropes in the darkroom.  Learning how to develop film and make prints.  It was magic.  It was rewarding.  It was a lot of work.

For the first 10+ years of my career, film was king.  I did head shots in black and white; developed, printed and delivered them in less then a week.  I shot Polaroids to test lighting and used it for art projects, I shot colour transparencies and had to wait 2 or 3 days for the lab to process the rolls before I knew if what I shot actually turned out.  I learned to use and trust a hand held light meter; there were no meters in the big cameras to rely on.  I learned to manually balance flash with ambient light, I learned to trust my eye.

Then came digital.  I became a slave to the camera with the big screen on the back and automatic everything.  I began losing the trust, started second guessing my instincts and basically, got lazy.  I got used to it too.  It seemed to work... for a while.

But over the last few years it felt like something was missing from my photography, a lack of spirit, of depth, of feeling.  I had tried a few times to get back into the darkroom, but for what ever reason, the timing was off.

Now, the time is right.  I have discovered the "wet plate collodion" process, and I found what was missing.

Learning "the ways of the plate" is not easy, and it is a finicky, labour intensive, temperamental process.  But the rewards are well worth the effort.  Now instead of shooting 300 frames in an afternoon, I am truly satisfied to MAKE just one great hand-made photo in an entire day.

I found my passion again.  I found it on a wet plate of aluminum as an image was appearing before my eyes; like an angel appearing out of the ether.

2015 Cape Charles Cup A 501

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2013/1/out-of-the-ether Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:31:26 GMT
Slowing Down https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2012/10/slowing-down I recently had the privilege of taking a workshop at LUZ Studio & Gallery on how to do "collodion wet plate" photography with Portland, OR wet plate artist, Jody Ake.  While this isn't a review of the workshop, I must say that I very much enjoyed Jody's teaching style and calm, zen like approach to the work.  One of the things that he said that has stuck with me, more than any of the technical information, was, "your energy can affect the work."

That got me to thinking about how the wet plate process is kind of like life.  When you are doing wet plate work, you are responsible for the outcome, from start to finish. 

You must be mindful during each and every step of the process; mixing the chemistry, choosing and composing the subject, preparing the plate, pouring the collodion, sensitizing the plate, exposing the plate, developing the plate, fixing the plate, washing and drying the plate and finally varnishing the plate. Each step has it's own temperament and characteristics that you must embrace, respect and enjoy.

As in life, there are many places along the way where things can go wrong.  And while there is a sense of urgency, the trick is to remain calm and not rush any of the steps, because if you rush, things get messy.

My first "tintype" self portrait, circa 2012

Working in the darkroom has always been a relaxing and meditative experience for me, but the wet plate darkroom is a little different.  There is a greater level of concentration and dexterity needed when pouring the plate, both with the collodion, and with the developer.  The pour happens very quick and great mindfulness is required. This in turn requires the mind to slow down and focus on this one "simple" act.

Once the collodion is on the plate, the plate is sensitized in a bath of silver nitrate for 3 ~ 4 minutes.  This time can be used to still the mind even more.  Once the time is up, the plate is loaded into a light tight plate holder and taken to the camera for exposure.  Final adjustments are made to composition and focus, the holder is placed into the camera and the exposure is made.  Even the exposure is slow.  Exposures of 12 seconds or longer are not uncommon.  More time to slow down.

After exposure, the holder with the still damp plate inside is whisked (mindfully) to the darkroom.  The plate is removed from the holder and the developer is poured gently onto the plate.  15 to 20 seconds later the image begins to appear.  Development is halted with a smooth flow of running water.

Once the plate has been completely rinsed of developer, it is immersed in a fixing bath to clear and make the image stable.  Another wash of running water is required to remove the fixer.  After the wash, the plate is dried, then varnished to protect the delicate image.

To varnish the plate, the plate is heated over an alcohol burner.  Once the plate is sufficiently heated, a mixture of Sanderac gum, grain alcohol and lavender oil is poured on the plate and drained off.  Once this has set a little, it is heated again to start the curing process.  The plate will require at least a week to cure completely. 

Wet plate photography is a process that requires you to slow down, to work with intent and to work mindfully in the present moment of each step.  I think it is possibly the most zen like type of photography there is in a way, because what you see, is NOT what you will get.  And that is also how life can be, and both are greatly affected by the energy that you bring to the table.

Slow down, be happy.

 

k

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2012/10/slowing-down Mon, 29 Oct 2012 19:27:28 GMT
A Blended Pack https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2012/9/blended-pack

The other day I had the opportunity to walk my pack of dogs with a fellow dog walker.  I had five dogs, she had ten.  She was a bit apprehensive at first about having our packs walk together.  She was concerned that her "hooligan" dogs would cause trouble with my pack.  I assured her that everything would be fine, and to trust the dogs. 

I have found that the best way to blend two packs of unfamiliar dogs is through walking.  I suggested that she start down the trail and we would catch up.  I use this strategy because her stragglers would meet my dogs first.  The ones with the most energy would be up to the front and not realize there are new dogs in the group until we were well on our way; and that's exactly how it worked out.

Less than ten minutes into the hike, all fifteen dogs had been introduced without a single growl, nip or bark.  New friendships were made between humans and dogs alike.  A good time was had by all.

 

The "ZuluDog Pack" meets "The DogTreks Pack" (some dogs are camera shy)

 

I think if humans would take the time to meet slowly, get to know each other a little better, to be more patient with each other and to go for a walk together in the woods we would all be a little happier.  Having a large pack of dogs along helps too!

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2012/9/blended-pack Thu, 13 Sep 2012 04:21:11 GMT
Fall; a Season of Change https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2012/9/zuludog-blog

I've always liked fall.  To me, even more than spring, fall feels like a time for renewal, growth and personal development.  It's a time to take stock of where we are, set some goals, and get to work to prepare for the winter ahead.  It may be part of my prairie heritage that makes me feel like now is the time to harvest, to work hard and to fulfill ourselves in our work.

As I look ahead to the coming months there are a few projects that I will be working on, including;

  • reworking my on-line presence with a new web page, blog, and gallery hosting service.  Over the next few weeks I'll be working on redeveloping my site, making it cleaner and easier to navigate.

  • building the photography side of ZuluDog K9 Service.

  • continuing with my travel writing course through Matador U.  My recent travels to Thailand and Cambodia have sparked a desire in me to travel more and be better able to share my adventures through words and photos.

  • I will be working on some "alternative process" photography projects. This is printing a negative on hand coated watercolor papers and is an "Old School" process.

  • continuing to work with shelter, foster and rescue organizations in Victoria and beyond, by providing photography and/or massage services to help bring awareness to the situation of homeless and neglected dogs.

  • a gallery show is also a very big possibility.  You will have to stay tuned for that one!

These are just a few of the things I will be working on.  It's shaping up to be a very lively fall season, and I am looking forward to harvesting plenty of new adventures1

Now, back to work!

K

 

 

]]>
ken@kenminer.ca (KenMiner.CA) https://www.kenminer.ca/blog/2012/9/zuludog-blog Mon, 10 Sep 2012 21:23:28 GMT