Capturing a Broadband Boost in Downtown Rossland

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There’s nothing I like better than an excuse to take a trip to Rossland. In a busy life, it’s easy to not make it out there too often. But every time I go, I remember how much I love the beautiful heritage buildings and great downtown – all set against the dramatic mountain peak backdrop of the Rossland Range.

So when I got a call from the Columbia Basin Trust (“The Trust”) back before Christmas asking if I would head out and do some photography in Rossland for their Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation, I jumped at the chance.

According to the Trust:

Improved high-speed connectivity can improve quality of life and well-being for Columbia Basin residents. That is why our wholly owned subsidiary, Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation, or CBBC, is working with Basin communities and rural areas to improve connectivity through a region-wide fibre optic cable network.

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The Trust needed documentary-style images of the crew from Cranbrook-based DSG Communications installing fibre optic cable in the alleyway just behind Columbia Avenue.

We had some great weather for photography, and combined with aforementioned incredible mountain/heritage building backdrop, it made for some great images. I even put to work my newly-acquired 400mm super telephoto lens to capture some up-close-and-personal images of Ben working up high on the frosty wires.

A big thanks to the Trust for having me out, and to James and Ben for being so helpful onsite.

Portrait of a city hall survivor

When was the last time you thought about your local government? About the folks who handle the switches and gears that control your community – making decisions on your behalf that affect your life in countless ways, every single day. If you never have, former seven-term Nelson city councillor, Donna Macdonald thinks it’s about time you did.

In her new memoir, tentatively titled Surviving City Hall, she offers up an intimate portrait of a city councillor’s life – that also aims to spark interest in and provide knowledge about our local governments.

I became aware of Donna’s book when she contacted me seeking a photographer in Nelson BC that could make some high quality environmental portraits, which she could use to help promote the book when it’s published by Nightwood Editions in Spring, 2016

She wanted some portraits that would put her in the context of her book, so naturally we headed to Nelson City Hall – where we made a few images in front of the building before being let into council chambers to make some portraits in her old stomping grounds where much of the fodder for her book was found.

A passion for local government

During the course of our shoot, I chatted quite a bit with Donna about her book and her passion for local government, which came through loud and clear.

In her own words:

There are very few general-interest books written about local government. Yet it has an immediate influence on our lives every single day. It impacts our neighbourhoods and our communities, the physical and social environment where we live, and the ways in which we live together.

Local government is about how we live together, what values guide us, how we resolve conflicts, what our shared goals are. It’s about building communities where people are healthy and active and feel safe and included, and where they work together for the common good and receive the services they want (from reliable clean water and drive-able streets, to libraries and recreation facilities).

She also mentioned that along with some education about the mechanics of local government, the book will feature some interesting tales of real-life happenings from her 19 years as a councillor.

The book is very accessible, written with humour and humanity. It offers information about local government; stories that may shock, sadden or amuse the reader; and reflections on the whole experience. For example, the book considers the nature of leadership (and what makes a good leader); how we practice democracy (and how we might do it better); and the role of women (where are they all?).

I wrote the book to engage citizens, to inspire people who might be tempted to run for office, and also to reassure sitting councillors that controversy and crisis go hand in hand with accomplishments and success. This book is for anyone who cares about their community and how decisions affecting it are made.

As a self-professed politics junkie, and a former local newspaper reporter who spent some time covering Nelson City Council, I couldn’t agree more. So I was happy to create some images to help Donna promote her book and spread the message far and wide. Keep an eye out for her book when it comes out next year!

Professional photographer in Nelson BC

 

Getting Airborne for the CBT

For the most part my feet are firmly planted on the ground when I am photographing. But I recently got a chance to take to the skies above Nelson that I couldn’t turn down, when Columbia Basin Trust got in touch to ask if I could make some images of a wireless internet tower above Nelson for them.

The images will be used in an issue of the Trust’s’s new magazine that will soon arrive on doorsteps throughout the Basin – to illustrate an article about how its new subsidiary, the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation and local internet providers are helping to bring high speed internet services to rural residents of the Columbia Basin.

We were on a tight deadline, and with only rainy weather in sight, the plan was to head up Elephant Mountain in a truck with Ben from Columbia Wireless, who broadcasts internet signals from a tower perched on the peak. But as I drove into Nelson and the clouds were lifting, I got a call from Ben saying conditions were good to head up in the helicopter.

So I went to the Nelson airport to meet up with Ben, and we got a quick lift up above the Queen City by High Terrain Helicopters to the tower. I spent some time on the ground there photographing Ben doing some tower maintenance and then made some aerial images while hovering around. The birds-eye view of the city and surrounding area was great, with clouds drifting by and lifting as the weather changed.

We were lucky to get the break in the rainy weather, and while the conditions were far from perfect for photography, the images turned out very well. All in all, it was a fun experience that produced some great shots for the Trust to use in their magazine and promotional materials.

Do you re-edit your photographs?

Parenting and paid work have kept me so busy in these past few months that I hardly get time to head out into nature with my camera. It’s a difficult quandary indeed for someone who loves nature so  much, and particularly nature photography.

So in these days of minimal time outdoors with my, I often head backward in time to images from days gone by and look at them with a renewed vision. The vision is new, both because I’m not who I was when I originally made them – and because my skills and knowledge have changed since the initial capture and processing.

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A previous monochrome rendering of this image.

The image above has gone through at least four incarnations since its original capture and processing. It started out as a monochrome image with a green toning. Then it moved on to a straight black and white, and then on to a full colour image. Full colour will be its final resting place, because I decided that the yellow fall larches are too important to the image to be taken out of the picture by a black and white treatment.

Most recently, when getting this image ready for print, I reprocessed it with a raw pre-sharpening to boost the level of detail in the trees. Having become accustomed to the levels of detail provided by modern sensors and my current lineup of sharp lenses, the details provided by by older Camera for landscape work just don’t quite cut it anymore.

I also increased the tonal range with a bit less contrast andcropped it to a 4×5 format, one that I’ve fell in love with in recent years and that works well for so many of the images I make these days.

Then there’s the processing technology, which is constantly evolving. Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CC are such incredible pieces of software. I found Lightroom’s new “dehaze” function particularly useful in this edit.

Many of my images have gone through this process over the years. It’s always an interesting one to see what I notice from one process to the next, and what the resulting image looks like.

How about you? Do you revisit and revamp your images?