The strange and wonderful world of the Yukon through a macro lens

This afternoon I explored a different world, and it was only 10 minutes from my house.

Something magical happens in the woods when you take a closer look. There is a world of activity and change going on right before our eyes, it's just too small to see unless you are very very close. 

Ever since we moved to the Yukon I've felt very grateful to have abundant nature literally on my doorstep. This afternoon, I headed out to the Hidden Lakes trails with my a 100mm Macro Lens on my camera, no schedule to keep and no one's agenda but my own. I've walked this trail before and admired the flowers and scenery, but this time I saw the local flora in a whole new way.

As usual, the Wild Rose was abundant and beautiful, but this time I noticed the plant in all it's stages.

Once I started looking closer I discovered insects everywhere in the midst of their mysterious rites. I tried to guess at their motives as they continued in their inscrutable ways, oblivious to my presence. I saw ant acrobatics, bees with strange orange pouches, something that might have been an ant daycare and I think I photographed beetle porn or cannibalism, I'm not sure which.

The flowers, leaves and mosses I encountered became stranger and more detailed as I looked closer. Where once I saw a "Purple Flower," now their individuality became apparent, not just in the flowers themselves, but their leaves and stems as well.

The curious relationship between photographers and loss

I spent a good deal of yesterday, in my head, thinking. 

It started with brownies - no, not those brownies, these were super healthy chocolate-free carob brownies. 

My successful attempt at carob brownies. Photo by Christa Galloway.

As a professional photographer and an amateur baker, when my baking goes well, I enjoy photographing my baked goods as much as eating them.

I downloaded my card in eager anticipation of showing the world my baking success. I waited while my photo editing program imported the photos. Only it didn't import them. Upon further investigation I discovered that my card was corrupted.

After having no luck with the card rescue program on my computer and several others I downloaded I sent out a plea for help on Facebook and with the advice of an old photographer friend (that is, a friend from a long time ago, not a friend who is old) I managed to recover most of my images with the regrettable absence of most of my brownie photos.

I've just edited my pictures, and while they are not award winning shots, I am beyond pleased to have them back. The idea of having lost them, even though they weren't "important" was a horrible thought.

This made me think. I have a theory of why some photographers do what they do. It's about loss. 

Have you ever looked back at some photos and remembered a feeling or a smell and it was like you were there again? Almost like for an instant you could travel back in time and experience it again? Did you realise that if that photo hadn't sparked your memory, that moment would be gone? I have, many times.

I think there is a type of photographer who mourns the loss of moments. We are like walking museums of time, soldiers against entropy. We gather little reminders here and there. We look at them, share them, store them and back them up. We put them together and build a story of the past. We don't live in the past, but we like to keep it safe and accessible.

If you are one of these photographers you probably have a camera with you most of the time. You don't just keep photos, you share them. The more people who see your photos, the more permanent and real the memory is. And if an image is lost, you feel like a piece of history is lost. A feeling, a memory, a lesson is gone forever.

That's why I do what I do. I take photos, I have scrapbooks going back to 1990, I keep a journal and I have this blog, mostly for that reason, to preserve memories.


Here are a couple of the photos I almost lost and the memories they keep alive for me.

When I took this photo I was getting ready for a shift and noticed the sun lighting the clouds from below. It struck me how early the sun was coming up in the morning and how long the days were getting. I went outside quickly to take the photo and sucked in the fresh air. I remember having the thought, "Whatever happens today, I have this." Photo by Christa Galloway.

This photo was taken as I was arriving at my house with my family. I jumped out of the car, grabbed my camera while my husband took care of our son and brought everything in from the car without complaint. I could see the ferocity of the storm while my surroundings were perfectly calm and sunny. This photo makes me think of how power and peace is a matter of perspective and reminds me to be grateful for my husband. Photo by Christa Galloway.

P.S. The brownies were fantastic.

Head in the clouds

Here we are 2500 feet closer to the sky than if we were at sea. Clouds drift by, sometimes blocking the mountains from view, sometimes engulfing us completely.

Low clouds over the peak of Mount Lorne. Photo by Christa Galloway.

The light is different here. A low sun illuminating low clouds gives the sky an appearance that is so different from where I come from, that it sometimes seems alien, a suitable backdrop for Captain Picard's number one, Riker and his away team. (Yes, I prefer STTNG to the originals, and yes, I am a complete nerd.)

Cool skies in the Yukon. Photo by Christa Galloway.

The result of all this is that I often find myself outside in my slippers shivering, taking photos of the ever-changing sky. Maybe one day I'll look out and it will be so ordinary I will decide to keep my feet warm and stay inside. But that day is not today.

A light frosting

I woke up yesterday morning and the world was frosted white. White snow, white trees, white clouds. Later in the day the clouds broke up into regimented sections and marched across the sky, leaving behind a brilliant blue. When I left my house for my afternoon walk with Oscar, I left my camera behind, because really, how many times can you photograph the same thing? Of course, once we were out there I realized my iPhone was not going to cut the mustard so I bribed my snowsuit-clad three-year-old to return to the house with promises of hot chocolate and marshmallows so I could fetch my camera. And I'm glad I did.

Flashback - Alaska highway and some old friends

The day we drove from Watson Lake to Whitehorse we passed through the small village of Teslin, home of the longest bridge on the Alaska highway.

The longest bridge on the Alaska highway in Teslin, Yukon.

The longest bridge on the Alaska highway in Teslin, Yukon.

I have since learned that of the approximately 450 people who live in Teslin, I know two of them. Or I used to. 

About 20 years ago, my parents were friends with Brenda and Richard Oziewicz. Brenda was technically my boss when I worked at the local library as a teenager. We lost touch sometime after the Oziewiczes moved to Whitehorse. Before we left, my parents tried finding their contact information but had no luck. None of us remembered how to spell their name other than my mother's helpful "I think it has two zeds." When you type "I think it has two zeds" under name in an online directory I'm pretty sure it tells you to buzz off.

Last week I was looking though the Yukon publication, North of Ordinary and I was feeling somewhat dismayed at the high quality of photography and writing in the magazine. I was hoping to swoop in with my photojournalism background and take the Yukon by storm. Wouldn't you know there are quite a few great photographers up here. Darn. I flipped to an article about soap making, think maybe that would be the way to go (there are some great soap makers too) when the name Brenda Oziewicz popped out at me. Brenda had owned a soap making business.

Armed with the correct spelling of Oziewicz (yes, there are two zeds mom) I quickly looked up their phone number. After a few bouts of phone tag we connected and learned some more about the Yukon, heard about some great places to canoe and camp out of Teslin and we promised to get together the next time we were all in Whitehorse. They also reconnected with my parents. Now I know a total of two people in the Yukon and the north is not such a lonely place.