The annual Opus Outdoor Challenge Paint-In has come and gone, and it was a perfect day, weather-wise. Some years I have been too cold to hold a paint brush for more than an hour, but this year it was mid 20’s C and glorious. I found a shady spot beneath a tree across from this old hotel, known hereabouts as the JBI, and set up my plein air kit around noon after wandering the neighbourhood for an hour in search of a subject. Lots of folks stopped to peak and chat, which I don’t mind at all, as most of them are very complimentary – which is nice but a little embarrassing too. One lady asked me where I sell my work. If only it was that good!
It takes a lot of study to draw buildings accurately, since it is so easy to detect flaws in proportion when rendering a building, compared to the amorphousness of landscapes. This sketch took three hours, compared to the last one, a landscape, which took 45 minutes.
It is as fine a place to sit as I can think of, to be on a high bluff overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait with my plein air kit at hand. I have revised the kit with one major change – I removed the head from my tripod and now I screw the pochade box directly to the top of the vertical post of the tripod. I can level it with the legs and it’s much steadier than on the three way tilting head made for a camera. That piece was unnecessary for my purpose, and I saved another pound or two of useless weight. I also set up an umbrella on a walking stick, which shaded the canvas. This is also a major help, as staring at a bright white surface in full sunlight is bad for the eyes and also makes it difficult to judge colour and tone. I had 45 minutes yesterday to do this sketch, but sometimes faster is better. Had I worked it more it probably would have only gotten worse! Sketches are supposed to be rough and fresh anyhow. I may do a large painting of this scene using a photograph I took, as it was exceptionally beautiful there.
Yesterday was the annual Opus Outdoor Challenge, and once again the weather was cool and grey, as is more like normal. Recently we’ve had July-like weather here, which is so rare it’s hard to fathom, since most people know that the earth is really cooling off, due to hell freezing over in the big country south of here. With most of the 50 or so blocks of the city in which we were permitted to roam and do plein air sketching in, I rode my bike two blocks and decided to sit down by the harbour on some rocks and paint a scene with the old bridge in it. Next year it may be gone, but it will remain in countless sketches and memories.
The 90 year old bascule bridge is either a classic or a relic, depending on whom one asks. I say classic, but the city said relic, so after years of debate they contracted with the largest construction firm in the country to build a replacement bridge next to the old one. I think the old bridge has cursed the new bridge, which somehow refuses to ever be finished. The new bridge will cost more than 100 times the old bridge’s price of $720,000 in 1924. Sub-standard (code word for very crappy) steel from China is causing the construction to be delayed while the manufacturer makes improvements to “quality control”. One can only laugh; or cry.
8.30am at 7-11
Long ago, in the era of film, it was fun to shoot street scenes. They only thing that curtailed my shooting then was the cost of film, processing, and printing; among other things, like the need to attend school, etc. We always shot in black and white too, as colour was much too expensive, besides which black and white was the medium on the street beat, and could be developed and printed in a home darkroom without an enormous investment in equipment. Digital has changed all that, mostly for the better, with the exception of the tendency to want to buy a new camera every few years. My Minolta SRT 101 lasted 25 years, and was every bit as good as the finest cameras money could buy. Not so today.
Nevertheless, my present DLSR is certainly good enough, even if it is already technically obsolete. This morning I had an hour to kill while getting some work done on the car, so I brought the camera along and wandered around the downtown core. I converted these images to black and white, because I feel that they have more impact when you remove colour as a consideration; it’s all about subject matter. That is the point of street photography. I tried not to shoot photos of people right up front and in their faces, because I’ve never felt comfortable doing that. Today in fact I shot a picture of one fellow who passed me on the sidewalk and heard the click of the very noisy shutter of my Pentax K50. He stopped and turned to ask me if I’d taken his picture. Since I had a photograph of only his back I replied I had not, hoping he would drop the subject, but he didn’t. He told me to show him that I hadn’t taken his picture. I told him there was nothing to see, and walked away. He then called me an f-ing goof. Some street people are known to suffer from paranoia, so I guess he was one of them. I will not use the picture of his back in any case.
PS: last day for the free ebook!