About this site
Banff can't help but be a beautiful place. But there are pockets of man-made ugliness that are hard to ignore. Many of these pockets tell of an historical vision to further the economic viability of this national park. This vision continues to grow and drive further development, creating a disconnect between what was here and what this park will become. It is the exploration of these pockets that this site is about.
We often delete things from our vision that interfere with what we want to see. My hope is that this site will help you focus on these things, allowing you to see and ponder what man has done to Banff.
About the photos
All pictures here are analog, using film, photographic paper, or instant film. The analog process uses light sensitive silver halide crystals suspended in gelatin to capture images, and requires a few steps to chemically alter the sensitized crystals to produce the image on the negative. This negative can then be scanned and reversed, or printed onto photographic paper to produce the final print. The scanned photos have minimal editing (cropping), and whole negatives are sometimes included.
Why confine this site to the limitations of analog photography? It's my way of slowing down the photographic process, making me more intentional of what I portray in pictures. The delayed results and inevitable deficiencies in composition, exposure, and development motivate me to return and retake photos, causing me to contemplate more fully Banff as it is today. The resulting pictures, imperfect as they are, tell of a place made imperfect by similar technological advancements as the photographic medium.
About the cameras
5x7 large format cardboard box camera
Made with a cardboard box, a modified lens, and home made film holders, this camera produces styled photos which would be difficult to produce otherwise. Paper negatives force careful composition and exposure, its narrow dynamic range capturing the starkness of the scene. The 50mm lens (designed for 35mm cameras) was modified to produce a larger image circle, resulting in images that are somewhat distorted and out of focus at the edges.
5x7 large format hardboard camera
This camera was made to accommodate a 210mm large format lens, as well as a home made Instax wide back. Using this camera emphasizes the process of composing and taking the photo, inevitably producing distinct memories of the subject matter and its surroundings, resulting in photos that are more personal to me.
Polaroid models 100 and 450
Instant cameras made 50+ years ago, film has become rare, so modifications to the 450 made it possible to use b&w paper negatives in home made film holders. A portable darkroom makes it possible to develop these negatives on the field. This slow process allows me to ponder the impact of what I'm trying to capture on film.
The model 100 has been modified to use Instax wide film, which, although has a more modern look, captures almost a touristy perspective in its own unique way. These represent the only colour photos on this site.
Olympus OM-1 and OM-2n
The OM-2 was purchased 40+ years ago and recently revived along with various prime lenses for different perspectives. 35mm film brings back an uneven grittiness to photography. It will never be perfect, but it can communicate reality in its own way.
Brownie Hawkeye Flash
This is the first camera I picked up as a youth. Easy to use, but easy to forget to advance the film, I remember doing a lot of unintentional double exposures. Although the negative size (120) usually speaks of higher image quality, this camera has a one element plastic lens which produces low contrast images with out of focus distortion at the edges. I concluded that the best format for these photos is the original: 3 1/2" square photos with a 1/4" border, viewed physically in a stack of photos that I flip through. These do not present well on a display, but represent a historical viewpoint to the subject matter.
About the author
I was born and reared on the West Coast, a status Haida Gwaii native, and went on to spend most of my years working in IT with Indigenous languages in Mexico, assisting field teams with their computers. After moving back to the West Coast and working as a consultant for a decade, I moved near Banff and was struck with the obvious exploitation of the area. I've heard about Banff, but didn't know why it was there, or designated a National Park. My curiosity led me on a journey to discover the struggle to make Banff a world class destination, as well as some of the damage left in its wake.
Photography has been a hobby most of my life, starting with a Brownie box camera, then moving to 35mm, adding darkroom experience in college. As digital photography slowly established itself, I found I was satisfied with neither its process nor its results. So analog camera equipment was resurrected, and new cameras built to use analog medium. In this way, I'm returning to an historical process which is both satisfying and produces unique results.