The full picture

Photography is a popular hobby. My niece is a professional photographer. I don’t pretend to involve myself in that degree of expertise; mine is strictly an avocation. Since the dawn of the iPhone I suspect the amusement has taken on far greater amusement. Though the device does not overcome the need for practice to capture a scene it certainly enables the discovery. Learning to handle the “Edit“, “Crop” and “Make Key Photo” features requires a moderation of instruction and learning. Nor I hasten to add is the romantic vernacular of black-and-white lost in the process. I derive added pleasure by contributing the photos to my blogs – which admittedly are themselves advanced by the contribution!

There is critical debate surrounding the moderation – or what some people would suggest is the contamination – of the initial photo. My view is that photography is not about accuracy or reality; rather about creating an acceptable and hopefully pleasing image. To be told that the sky is never that blue is quite irrelevant in my opinion. A clever photo should tell its own story apart from the obvious detail.

Photographs are sometimes part of an historic record. If only for my own purposes the blogs serve as a cabinet for many of my favourite shots. Just recently while lounging by the pool the hobby arose as a further thread with a brother of the legal fraternity whom I met here. Mr. Louis Ryen (whose ancestors he tells me are from Russia) is 85 years old and still practices in Rochester, NY two or three days a week confined to litigation. He is senior counsel of the firm, the founding partners of which are gone.

Mr. Ryen is remarkably in tune with modern technology – though we jokingly shared historic memories of dictaphones and Gestetner hand-rolled drum duplicators. He has expectedly embraced the convenience and currency of on-line statute law but he says retains his hard-copy precedent manuals. More on topic of photography Mr. Ryen has some of his photographs displayed on the walls of the law firm waiting room. He has exhibited in galleries.

Guided by the slogan that “behind every great man there is a great woman“, I ensured to have chatted briefly with his wife. Mrs. Enid Ryen gleefully reports that she is the only one in the family without an advanced education – her son and daughter are both lawyers and one of them is married to a psychiatrist. She is however proudly a graduate from MS – Mother School of which I told her my own mother is a graduate. Mrs. Ryen’s penetrating modesty is as might be surmised but a disguise for a dynamic and decidedly intellectual personality.

Also combining these themes of photography, law and technological modernity are dear friends now residing in New Zealand. When these amazing devices were virtually yet unheard of, they were buying them to capture the thousands of photos they routinely took, mainly of those who regularly frequented their many social events for dinner parties, New Year’s Eve celebrations or as guests at their mountain-top mansion or lakeside “cottage” on Lac Mont Tremblant.

One of these two friends threatens to compile a current collection of notable old photographs which I anticipate would be highly entertaining! It speaks to the value of photography as a record of time and events. At the same time I recall my own dear mother having made very favourable comments of many of the photos I shared with her when visiting at her retirement residence. She speculated that the photos were worthy of display – something frankly I hadn’t contemplated myself but which I found terribly uplifting.

Photography doesn’t surpass the intrigue of personal recollections rendered in the literary fashion. Seemingly I have inherited either an element of the artesian well water in Almonte or purely the custom of the old lawyer who was my predecessor – namely, to absorb myself regularly in the account of local personalities. I am increasingly convinced that Almonte has far more than its share of reputable persons including those commonly heralded such as James Naismith (inventor of basketball), R. Tait McKenzie (sculptor) and Leonard Lee (Lee Valley Tools and Canica Design).

The fount of local folklore is frequently nothing more dignified than table talk or drawing room gossip. There are thankfully those who recognize the importance of casual recording of information. Today for example I received the communication below from friends back home.

Thanks Bill. This is indeed an integral piece of Almonte trivia.
It is not uncommon that Val or I will refer to the old ‘Wilf Snedden’ home, or Mr. Lee’s, or Hal Farnham’s, Harry Walker’s, Des Houston’s, Stan Morton’s (we hold many memories of Stan and ‘Mary’), Dr Casey’s, Dr Bach’s, Dr Coupland, Dr King, …… the list is endless. We even walk by Johnny Erskine’s home, and still refer to it as such!

Our dear friend Des Giles (Val’s former neighbour and resident of ‘the Island’), just turned 92 and remains in good health and still resident of the Island. Now there’s a man with history, and intimate knowledge of ‘the other side of town’. Des was born in the corner home on the Island, and has only moved ‘two doors down’ in his entire 92 years on said island. Des was a very accomplished ‘butter maker’ when the local dairy existed ‘back in the day’. Des worked along side Val’s father and grandfather. In recent years, Des drove the Ottawa Senators between their Hotel room/homes and the hockey arena now known as the Canadian Tire Centre. Des’s grandson (Trevor Timmons) is the chief scout for the Montreal Canadians, and Des’s former neighbour Bram Karp is assistant equipment Manager for the Ottawa Senators. Des and his now deceased wife ‘May’ lived in hockey arena’s for decades, following every move of the Ottawa 67’s, and numerous teams occupied by their grandchildren, male and female! Oh, the stories …..
And, Val and I still both recall the day Gib and Dave moved ‘the safe’ !!!

We’re ‘enjoying’ 50-75mm rain today, and balmy temps. It is all expected to turn drastically, so everyone will be afforded their own skating rink.
Enjoy your weather, and yourselves.
Gord & Val

Faced with that sort of literary competition I am not certain that photography wins!