Untitled photo

The series "Across the North" is just a quick, fun little project that I put together to test a few things.

The first test was to see if my Chroma Cube pinhole's light leak had been cured. It had – the photo above is a five-minute exposure through a heavy ND filter, just to make sure. But to find that out also meant I needed to get through a lot of film quickly, and the easiest way to do that is to find a single subject that I can take a whole string of photos of.

We've had a lot of snow in Toronto this winter, by Toronto's standards, and it hasn't done that thing where it all melts within a couple of days. So I was standing in the middle of a large deserted parking lot on a Saturday afternoon, as one does, and thought that maybe the large piles of snow might look like a landscape. They were exposed ridges of piled up and tumbled ice, weathered and dark with pollution, contrasting with fresher and cleaner loads that had been dumped on top, and a dusting of recent accumulation that had fallen there naturally. So I put the camera down low and recorded ten or twelve photos from different positions.

And that was step one in a process that I've been waiting for months to try.

Untitled photo

The next thing I wanted to test out was the formatting idea that I had as part of my elaborate effort to self-justify buying the Cube. I dislike square photos, and 35mm pinholes have very low quality, so how could I turn that into an advantage? The answer: small prints. And a good page layout is the key to that.

This is framed as an 8x10" page, which could also be placed on letter-sized paper without modification. The photo is 15cm square – I'm Canadian, I mix measurement units – which creates the opportunity for a text blurb underneath. I figure I can get away with three lines without it being too much. That's enough for a bit of explanation or added context, without letting me run on. And I like the look of the results, so it's going become a new thing that I do occasionally, as I had hoped it would.

This small photo on an also-small page should be – I haven't actually printed one yet – big enough to show the character of the Cube without being so big that its character becomes a flaw. Like the photos from the Cube itself, these pages are also small enough to be produced cheaply and abundantly. As loose prints they can create a nice set, or they can go in one of those sleeve-portfolio things, or be booked with one of those On-Demand services. The could even be framed comparatively inexpensively if that ever suited the results and the venue. The key is that they're relatable and human-scale, not Fine Art wall monsters, that are easy to show and share.

They can also be made into PDFs to view on tablets and e-readers. Which is what I did with this one.

I have a couple of Kobo readers, including a new one with a decent screen that's a reasonable size. So part of my goal for the Cube, and in general, is to create photos that can still be enjoyed on a fairly basic e-ink screen. My question with the Cube is to find out just how little is enough for photography, so a natural follow-up is learning just how little display I actually need for showing photographs.

And the final thing I wanted to try was a short bit of photo-fiction, where a story is wrapped around some photos. This is my first effort at it, and I'll admit – in case it isn't obvious – that I have no actual experience reading the Hale Hearty Adventurer genre that I'm leveraging. The little that I had absorbed as a kid was the terra nullius colonialist garbage that so much of Canada is based on, so reckoning with that was a bit of a surprise. I had originally titled the series "Exploring the North", and even with the joke that this turns out to just be some snow banks, it's absurd to think that this is the first time the route's been travelled. So instead I changed some of the text and named the series after the film I used.

It's nothing much, just a fun (for me, at least) afternoon project. But you can use the email link at the top of the page if you'd like to see a copy of the PDF for yourself.