Sunshine on a Somber and Solemn Easter Saturday
Saturday, April 08, 2023
These days I begin my blogs with “now that I am 80”, a lot.
If you consider that I started my life without a telephone
or a refrigerator and used a fountain pen in my school you can understand that
I am old faded crust.
|Kathie Fernandez, Scott Rumble, Leslie Dala, Neil craighead & Robin Driedeger|
Such is the level of change in this century that while I am
amazed (and I adopt some the changes) I am also affected in a forlorn way.
What makes writing a blog a sad affair this April 8, 2023, is that when I
started it in January 2006 I had no idea what a blog was. I quickly removed the
ability for folks to comment. There were many nasty people then.
In 2006 the blog was a popular diversion and social media
had not yet emerged in full force. After a while I realized that my blog was a
sort of “dear diary” and I put lots of personal feelings into it. Now the much
more savvy digital generation are not savvy enough to realize that my blog is
on my web page and that what I put into Facebook and Twitter is not my blog but
a link with a photograph. The savvy folk believe that if I do not “post” into
social media I have not blogged.
In whatever way you look at all the above I am consciously
aware that what I write is a bit more than a “dear diary”. I try my best not to
rant or to place here my political or religious beliefs.
I was raised as a Roman Catholic and educated by my very
Roman Catholic grandmother. I was sent to a Catholic boarding school, St.
Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas from 1958 to 1961.
Except for Holy Orders, Matrimony and Extreme Unction I
received all the other sacraments. My theology teacher Brother Edwin Reggio,
C.S.C. taught us that the almost forgotten but important sacrament is
Confirmation. This sacrament make one a soldier of Christ, not in the sense of
swords and guns, but at being able to explain Catholic Doctrine to anybody who
may ask. I was taught well and I can do this with efficiency.
At this age all I will reveal about my faith is that when my
Rosemary was about to die on 9 December 2020 we both knew we would never meet
I wonder how many people today would be shocked as I was
when in Buenos Aires, in April 8, 1966 when I was sitting on a bench of the
Buenos Aires zoo in my summer Argentine Navy conscript whites I was reading the
Is God Dead? Time Magazine article with that cover I will never forget?
On Good Friday (Viernes Santo) my grandmother would call me
into the house around 1:30 in the afternoon. I was 8. I remember that she, my
mother and I would kneel and Abuelita would recite Jesus’ seven words from the
cross. I was not allowed to listen to the radio.
I would define that day as a sombre and solmemn day. Some of that remains. For me today is not at all a happy day.
It is a day that I use to reflect on how I got here and
wonder where I am headed in what is left of my life.
The anticipation of Easter Sunday after a Viernes Santo and
a Sábado de Gloria is a happy one in which the plants of my garden represent to
me a resurrection, a coming back of my perennials. It is also sadly a happy
anticipation clouded by the loss of my Rosemary and that I cannot share the
garden with her except in memory.
Today Holy Saturday I received a kind invitation to attend
the Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at the Orpheum by Leslie Dala. I turned down his
original invite telling him I did not have the heart to go alone. He insisted
so I was accompanied by his wife Rosalind (red hair!). After the concert we
indulged in that lovely Vancouver tradition of going through that always
unlocked door on stage right and go backstage where we greeted Dala and the
All in all Sábado de Gloria was not all that somber. Why?
I went to GardenWorks on Lougheed earlier in the day to buy
several Hosta ‘Sunny Halcyon’. This, usually blue and extremely elegant
hosta as Hosta ‘Halcyon’
put a smile on my face in spite of the rain. In hosta lingo H. 'Halcyon' sported into H. 'Sunny Halcyon'.
A Gioconda in Blue
Friday, April 07, 2023
Ever since I was 8 I was obsessed with an interest in anything
related to Leonardo da Vinci. I remember getting some pastels as a gift for my
birthday. I started by copying a red da Vinci self-portrait.
Many years later, on November 1994, I had the opportunity to
photograph Robertson Davies. I took advantage of his look and beard to rip off
my own da Vinci.
For years I have used the works of artists and photographers
as inspiration for my photographs.
Looking at the past to defy the present
Tonight, as I was not quite sleepy enough, and having this now
three-week long obsession to use my scanner as a camera, I wondered what would
happen if I scanned my 1958-purchased first camera, a Pentacon-F, with some sort
of negative on the back on the film plane with with back open.
Blog with links to all my weeks-long obsession of scanner as camera.
My subject, sometime around 1977, was a red haired Canadian
Pacific stewardess (that’s what they were called then) who was wearing a lovely
blue dress. The camera I used was the Pentacon in this scan.
After a few faulty efforts I think I was able to get a fair result. I then thought it would be nice to mate the scan with a good
reproduction of her and place them here side by side.
As I was ready to write this blog I stared at my
combination and realized that here I have my own version of La Gioconda!
Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa & General Don José de San Martín
Thursday, April 06, 2023
|General Don José de San Martin, Pancho Villa & Emiliano Zapata|
| Pancho Villa & Emiliano Zapata circa 1914 - Photo by Agustin V. Casasola|
It is difficult to decide where one is from when one has
lived in many places.It depende on the day and my mood.
I was born in Buenos Aires in 1942, moved to Mexico City in
153, moved to Nueva Rosita, Coahuila in 1957, in 1958 spent four years at a boarding
school in Austin, Texas. I returned to Mexico City. In 1964 I went to Buenos Aires to do my military service in the Argentine Navy. In 1967 I returned to Veraceruz. That year I met my Rosemary in Mexico City. We were married in Coyoacan in 1968. With our two daughters we lived in Arboledas, Estado de México. In 1975 we drove to Vancouver in our VW. I have lived here since.
My daughters Ale and Hilary just returned from
Huatulco, Oaxaca and brought me a fabulous T-shirt with Emiliano Zapata and
Pancho Villa on the front and on the back.
Incredibly the shirt brought me memories of an Argentine
general of the 19th century, General Don José de San Martín.
These three men have something in common that has been rare
for hundreds of years. Around 1914 Villa and Zapata took Mexico City. Agustín
V. Casasola photographed the pair sitting in the presidential room of the
government palace in the Zócalo. After the photograph the two went home.
José de San Martín, liberated what would become Argentina
from the Spaniards, with O’Higgins he did the same in Chile (crossing the Andes
with heavy canon in a feat comparable to the one by Hannibal crossing the Alps
with elephants). From there he and his army were ferried by Lord Cochran to
Callao in Peru and he liberated it.
He had a meeting with Simón Bolivar (nobody
knows what they talked about) and from there he took a ship to Boulonge-sur-Mer.
He lived there until his death and his body, only then, was returned to
When I was 8 in Buenos Aires, I was in the second grade.
Early in the year we were all given a lovely book/pamphlet called El Legado de
San Martín. The general had died August 17 1850 so the book celebrated his 100th
anniversary of his death.
It is impossible for me to forget 1950 as we were instructed
to write on the top right hand side of all our notebooks and our deberes
(homework) 1950 – Año del Libertador General San Martín.
I find it astounding that 73 years later I still have the
On page 27 his XLVIII memory states (below) & (my translation)
"I promise and swear in name of the independence of my
motherland to never exceed my present military rank, nor to obtain public employment,
and I will renounce my present military rank the moment in which all our people
in America no longer have enemies."
My country of Argentina has suffered over 100% inflation in
2022 and there are many poor people and a reduced middle class. The two
political parties are at each other’s throats. The blue dollar (black market
dollar) since Rosemary and I went to BA in 219 has gone up from 164 pesos to
now almost 400.
There is one place I always go to when I visit Buenos Aires.
I go to the Metropolitan Cathedral on Plaza de Mayo and enter the general’s mausoleum
that is always guarded by two tall Granaderos the San Martín. In all the many
years that I have entered that cathedral nothing has changed inside. It is the
only place with stability in the whole country.
This is why I celebrate Villa, Zapata and San Martín. Thinking about them gives me a measure of stability in these unsettled times.
Sharing Oblivion With Fax Machines - Not Yet
Wednesday, April 05, 2023
In the last century (and I have written about this before)
we had the cutting edge technology that was the fax machine. In this century it
is a forgotten item of equipment used by some lawyers, doctors and London
I believe that one can use old technology by re-inventing
it. In that last 20th century the scanner revolutionized the
magazine and newspaper industry. Photographs were scanned. That bit the dust
with the advent of digital cameras. Digital files could be emailed and
reproduced or printed.
I have on the left of my office desk an Epson Perfection
V700 Photo Scanner. With it I scan my negatives, slides, family photographs and
since 2001 I have amassed more than 3000 “scanographs” of the flowers and
plants of my garden.
Then I realized that I could use my scanner as a photograph.
There is a link to all the blogs related to this discovery below.
A Swivelling View
But there is more. I have a hint of it here Zemblanity Deterioration - the bad and the good
But in this
blog, now in all its sharp glory, is the scanner reproduction of a small 35mm
frame on a contact sheet that because I may have not used fresh fixer in the
darkroom or the simple fact that Ilford Ilfospeed plastic coated photographic
paper was not archival. Look in the above link Zemblanity.
I have scanned the print of the digital file that I printed
and there is no noticeable decline in sharpness.
I love hybrid technology that mates the old with the new.
Unfortunately that does not apply to me as I am old statistically and I will soon
be sharing oblivion with fax machines.
A Swivelling View
Tuesday, April 04, 2023
In the 80s and 90s in Vancouver we had magazines and
newspapers. The writers who worked for them were called journalists. Some of
them who did not hold a steady job were called free-lance journalists or
writers. I was a free-lance magazine photographer. Sometimes we defined ourselves
as editorial photographers.
This field for both free-lance writers and photographers was
in Vancouver very competitive. You had to pitch interesting and unusual story
ideas to editors. As a photographer I often made the rounds not only in
Vancouver but in Toronto and New York with something that was called a
Art directors, sometimes called design directors liked to be
vowed by new stuff. This is why I have a large collection of cameras of which
some are these two unusual swivel lens panoramics.
My first purchase was the Japanese Widelux. Later I bought
the Russian Horizont (both use 35mm film. I also have a very large Noblex 175
that produces a negative that is 7 inches long.
Much has been discussed about the true difference between a
wide angle lens camera and these swivel lens cameras. I believe that the swivel
lens units are the closest to human vision in that you see what is in front of
you but there is that peripheral vision on the left and on the right.
The 35 mm Widelux and Horizont have a flaw. Because the lens
has to start from the standstill sometimes you get a stutter. The only solution
(for me at least) is to have them serviced regularly by our Vancouver treasure,
camera repairman Horst Wenzel.
Another flaw of the Widelux (the Horizont, touch wood, not
yet) is that there is a pulley inside made of rubberized plastic that wears
out. Nobody anywhere in the world can deal with replacing the pulley. Except of
course Wenzel! On a miniature lathe he works
on a hockey puck. My Widelux has that intimate Canadian connection!
Of late I have discovered that with fewer people wanting me
to photograph them and the fact that I do not feel like going out into the
street to “document” telephone poles, there is a solution that is now keeping
me excited and busy. I use my scanner as a camera.
My Two Swords Excalibur
Smiles at the Sylvia Hotel
A Scanner - a burst of inspiratio
Nostalgia with a scanner
Nostalgia and Association
In the Widelux picture in today’s blog the double appearance
of C in my print happened because I did not load the camera correctly. It is a
lucky mistake. I took the Widelux to Wenzel and told him he had not repaired it
well. I was soon told that I was wrong. He showed me how I had missed one of
the rollers when I loaded the camera.
What this means is that thanks to Wenzel I can now repeat
this lovely mistake.