Category Archives: photography

Cherry Blossoms for Kyoto

September 29, 1997 – May 12, 2013


Cherry trees bloom en masse in early spring in Japan, but the white-to-coral petals shed and die very quickly and the peak bloom is only a week or two. There is a celebration called hanami associated with the peak bloom, which often entails picnics and drinking with old friends under the cherry trees.

Sakura season is a highly visible sign of spring, the beauty of nature, renewal of life, and first love…but can also represent the transience and fragility of beauty, life, and love.

Sakura evokes both the new beginning of spring and the transience of passing from one stage of life to another.

Godspeed, Cherry Blossom Princess.


Ocelot Road

Ocelot Road 


Somewhere near Kitimat, B.C.

With a nod to graphic designer, Saul Bass, who was celebrated in the Google Doodle this past week. This had the makings of “Vertigo” (James Steward, Kim Novak) before the twirling began.

Google Doodle:

Original Google Street View at




In the style of Alex Colville’s “Horse and Train”:,+Horse+and+Train

Colville turned to existentialism in his art work after World War II. Existentialism tends to focus on the question of human existence. It is up to humans to create personal responsibility for themselves outside of any branded belief system. Existentialists seem to embrace existence and seek to find and create meaning in life. For Colville, existentialism provided a way for him to understand the Second World War and investigate his experiences. Colville reflects his experiences of the Second World War into his paintings of the 1950s by trying to present to the viewer a feeling of sadness. During the 1950s, Colville’s art work was a search for self discovery. Colville’s artistic process became a visual analogue of a quest for finding himself.

Original Google Street View at

Big Bay, South Africa

David Blackwood is one of Canada’s leading printmakers and most popular artists. Blackwood has been telling stories about Newfoundland in the form of epic visual narratives for 30 years. Blackwood explores the timeless theme of the struggle for survival between humans and nature in one of the most exposed and hostile environments on earth.He has created an iconography of Newfoundland which is as universal as it is personal, as mythic as it is rooted in reality, and as timeless as it is linked to specific events.

This image is not by David Blackwood however I tried to render it in the style of one of his aquatints. It is in fact a Google Street View capture at Big Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa. Every week, a group of photographers on Google Plus take part in the Artistic Google theme where we visit Street View images for a locale and post-process them creatively for the sheer joy of practicing our skills and with no commercial intent.

How small our world is. Driving around South Africa in the Artistic Google Magic Bus, I would have sworn I was in Texas (a theme that we did a few weeks ago) but then I came across this beach near Cape Town and thought I might turn it into Bonavista.

Art Gallery of Ontario Sky Furnace

Dundas Street reflected in the glass facade of the Galleria Italia at the Art Gallery of Ontario on an overcast day last fall. Taken with my Coolpix point n’ shoot.

The photo reminds me of the imaginary fleet of sky-furnaces from The Red Star graphic novel series from Christian Gossett at Archangel Studios LLC.

Sky-furnaces are the most terrible sky warships on the service of the U.R.R.S. (United Republics of the Red Star). Powered with the mysterious Post Human (ie. dead people) Energy, these warships fly the skies instead of plying the world’s oceans. They are armed with a lateral array of Isolator Tunnels that allow for sorceress War-kasters to transform themselves into unstoppable energy beams and, when lucky, re-constitute themselves back into human form. Ventral arrays of Immolators sweep massive swaths of ground clear of life, leaving only ashes and rocks turned to glass by the immense heat.

(Description from somewhere on Google…)

Image copyright Jan McCartney 2011 All Rights Reserved

The Dog in the Road

Google Plus is a paradise for photographers and artists. The richness of sharing of images and dialogue is seductive.

The photographers and artists that I go back to over and over for inspiration end up in my “Favourites” circle. And I want to share one with you.

Anssi Lehtonen doesn’t say very much about himself, but his photographs speak for him. There are superb macros and domestic tableaux that stop you in your tracks with secondary meanings. Superb execution, visual irony, and more than a trace of the wild.

Anssi’s image of the dog waiting in the road touched me deeply, as it will touch all of you who have known canine companionship.

For more of Anssi’s images, visit



The spiral staircase at the Art Gallery of Ontario, shot from below with my Nikon D300s and tarted up in Photoshop to look like a rainbow nautilus shell. The stair, by Frank Gehry, is 11 residential floors high.

The curvature and pearly sheen of this image reminded me of a nautilus shell, although the spiral is not the same. The nautilus shell, in fact, presents one of the finest natural examples of a logarithmic spiral.

According to Wikipedia, nautiluses are the sole living cephalopods whose bony body structure is externalized as a shell. The animal can withdraw completely into its shell and close the opening with a leathery hood formed from two specially folded tentacles. The shell is coiled, aragonitic, nacreous and pressure resistant. The nautilus shell is composed of 2 layers: a matte white outer layer, and a striking white iridescent inner layer. The innermost portion of the shell is a pearlescent blue-gray. The osmena pearl, contrarily to its name, is not a pearl, but a jewellery product derived from this part of the shell.

Internally, the shell divides into camerae (chambers), the chambered section being called the phragmocone. The divisions are defined by septa, each of which is pierced in the middle by a duct, the siphuncle. As the nautilus matures it creates new, larger camerae, and moves its growing body into the larger space, sealing the vacated chamber with a new septum. The camerae increase in number from around four at the moment of hatching to thirty or more in adults.

Image: Copyright Jan McCartney 2012 All rights reserved.