The Tyranny of Heaven

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semi abstract depiction of heaven, with strange creatures

It’s an odd name for an odd piece. While the geography may be fictitious, the constructs of heaven and hell provide both a framework and an interpretation for existence inside the bookend events of life and death.

Heaven may not be all it is cracked up to be. It is not exactly the Magic Kingdom.

It is more concerned with order and surveillance than eternal tranquillity. The creatures in the upper left corner stare back. They are angels who have removed their wings and left them to glow at the bottom of the composition. They are not in the image of human. They are something entirely other than us. The red sceptre to the right is the staff of sole authority — the church or some similar agency operating inside the temporal realm. Heaven seems a foreign place in which to spend eternity.

Hell, of course, is a different kettle of fish. Dionysian in nature, it subverts the individual identity into the chaos of souls.

In the end, it is hard to know which is worse.


Ghosts on a Beach

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Pinhole / Uncategorized

pinhole camera picture of people on a beach

Human shapes move like ghosts through the sands at Willows Beach in Victoria’s Oak Bay. The day is overcast, grey, cold but the sea is quiet. I modified my Nikon with a homemade pinhole attachment that is much less accurate, and therefore much more appealing than the commercial attachment. Pinhole photography values mood and suggestion much higher than detail. It is an equally valid role for photography.

Morning Sunlight Enters a Dark Forest

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Landscape Photography / vancouver island / Western Canada

Photograph of sunlight coming through a forest

This is winter on Vancouver Island. We have not seen any snow but there has been lots of mist and fog that creates spectacular lighting when the sun illuminates it selectively. The forests here are green and dark and lighting is highly selective during different parts of the day. Sometimes, as in the photograph above, the light creeps in quietly. At other times, as in the photograph below, it commands attention.

Sunburst of light behind dark trees

Death is in the details

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The search for meaning is one of the driving forces in photography. We believe the picture we are making will explain things to us in such a way that we have an improved understanding of ourselves, our place in the order of things. Pictures of what might be called the grand scheme of things (you will know them by the setting sun) show how small we are. Getting closer to a subject shows detail that would otherwise be missed if we did not stop to make a photograph. The photo on the left shows the effect of time on last year’s leaves. They have been encased in dried muck and appear almost mummified. The picture on the right shows the handiwork of insects and natural processes. The pictures force us to think about the passage of time and the change it brings. Nature morte, indeed.

Fish Dreams

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This is an older piece but it is one of the projects that still lurks in my subconscious. It has to do with perception and trying to imagine what creatures other than humans might think about the world. I don’t think it is entirely successful because the images seem a bit disjointed to me visually. It was experimental work. It might be interesting to revisit the theme/project at some point. The text reads:

Somewhere in the aerial regions above death arrives on a spring breeze.

Lost now in parched earth we are buried, dreaming of out silent blue home.

Where we dream the dream of fishes, that there is life above the water sky.



A life of their own

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Landscape Photography / Uncategorized

Photograph of winter snow on Salt Spring Island

There are winters on the West Coast that pass without any snow, so when it does come it is seen as special. The world becomes quieter. Cities unprepared for snow slow down to a crawl. The world seems to be a happier, more contemplative place.

I grew up in Newfoundland and snow like that in the photograph above was referred to as January snow — large snowflakes that drift to earth in the absence of wind. I made this picture on Salt Spring Island at a friend’s property. For me, the picture contains a sense of peace. It wasn’t necessarily there when the photograph was created but it exists in the picture. We often think of photographs as reflections of ourselves and our lives but photographs have a life of their own. They can sometimes tell you things that have nothing to do with who was in the picture or where it was created.



Pictures in mist and fog

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Landscape Photography / Uncategorized


There is a lot of rain and mist where I live and sometimes the fog rolls in for days. Things get quiet. Light levels drop. The set of pictures above was made on Mount Douglas over a couple of days. Mount Douglas is a very steep hill in Saanich. It’s indigenous name is Pkols. For the most part it has been left in a natural state although it is networked with hiking trails and it is surrounded on three sides by urban development.

I found many of the pictures I made were more effective in black and white than in colour. Black and white seems to do a better job of capturing the mood of the place — and at any rate when the fog moves in colours become muted. A lot of current landscape photography is obsessed with visual description, but in pictures like these the suggestion of form is more important than the the depiction of detail.

As a side note, while making these pictures I wandered down to the beach at Mount Douglas. It was raining pretty steady at the time. A big tree leaned out over the ocean and at its tip sat a young bald eagle. We stared at each other for a few moments, sharing the experience of getting drenched. And then we went out separate ways.



Artificial intelligence?

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Artwork / conceptual / Uncategorized
Obscura. Digital construction
Oddly, this image was censored by tumblr in its new sex policing function. There was no explanation why.

As the internet becomes interwoven into the fabric of society it is to be expected that service providers begin deciding what will and won’t be shown on their platforms. Most recently, tumblr began policing its postings to weed out naughty bits via some ill-telligence algorithm. Oddly enough, my image above was branded unfit for tumblr consumption. No explanation was provided. There were no protruding nipples or genitalia of any sort but something flipped the switch of the artificial “intelligence” mechanism and it was gone.

No one doubts that child pornography is a serious issue. It was cited as the main reason for the action. However, the sledgehammer approach on the part of a phone company, and a reliance on a technology to swing it, will probably serve to drive its creatives to other outlets.




A new home

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General Wordpress / Uncategorized

Cordova Bay-20

Inkriver has been my portfolio site for many years. It has been migrated through numerous pieces of software on half a dozen web hosting platforms, only to finally find its way to WordPress. Here I hope it will find its final resting place.

My work has similarly evolved at the same time. Once I spent most of my time in the studio; now I spend most of my time engaged in landscape work, still life photography and image construction that falls somewhere between photography and illustration.

I hope you like what you find on these pages. you can reach me in the Contact section.