Stillness and Swan Lake

An almost perfect stillness on Swan Lake

I have always loved things made from wood. I think I inherited this from my father. It’s something that I remember about him distinctly. I remember his hands, I remember his eyes, and I remember the way he admired and took extra time to look at things made from wood. He seemed to relish the pattern of the grain, the color and smooth texture, and even the feel of it. And since my father was one of those do-anything, build-anything types I know he admired the craftsmanship of woodworking.

So for me, this recent photo shoot with the boat builders at Morely Cedar Canoes was more than just work, it was  chance to reconnect with some of the memories I have of my father.

There is a particular smell to a woodshop. It’s that combination of freshly cut woods, shavings, dust and polish. All these smells combine into that particular smell which as soon as you encounter it, you know, you are in a place where craftsmen perfect their craft. The woodshop at Morely’s has this smell and it is the first thing I noticed as I entered the shop. A woodshop is also home to a wonderful variety of details. There is the gleam of the boats, waxed and sealed and ready to sell, the piles of wood strips waiting to be used, a myriad of tools, wood shaving curls, patterns, and plans, and works still in process.

I love details. I love to wander and look, to examine and play with compositions that are hidden everywhere. A lot of my personal photography is very detail oriented. Normally, with a newspaper none of these images would see the light of day. They are fine for what they are, but newspapers have limited space and these don’t really tell the story as much as the wider, scene-setter types of pictures. If we are going to run a detail it will more than likely be one like this one below that combines the details of the wood and the human element. Such is standard philosophy with newspapers. But now that I am doing slideshows with many of my larger projects I am finding a use for these detail shots and so I end up photographing more of them. This has been one aspect of my job with the Daily Inter Lake which I absolutely love.

Gus Morely working in his shop.

I got a wide array of images in my hour at the woodshop, but with something like this, you really want to go back, go again, see what more you can find. As it turns out Steve, Gus’ son, goes out on the water almost daily in a canoe he built for himself. On Saturday, he let me tag along for some pictures. By the time we got out there the light was getting really harsh, but I still got a few shots I liked and the photo shoot would not have been complete with out a shot of the boat on the water. Besides, any disappointment I might have felt about the light vanished when Steve told me that he and his family go out on the water all the time in the summer and if I ever want to take a paddling trip down the river he would be happy to have me come along. He promised I won’t tip the boat over, so I may even be brave enough to bring my camera. That will be coming up late this summer, but once I do get to go, I will doubtless have more boat photos to post here.

Steve Morely rowing an Adirondack Guide-Boat.

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