This Little Corner – A Photo Book

A Concept is Born

On many warm spring and summer days during my late teens, I sat outside on a lawn chair with a book of British Columbian or Canadian landscape photographs opened on my lap, my eyes taking their time to savour the natural beauty presented on each page. In the early mornings when I rode about the neighbourhood delivering newspapers, I made plans to visit various places in southern British Columbia and hoped to someday soon see a book come together of my photographs. The title would be This Little Corner.

As my photography skills grew and my subjects turned from the planned landscape views and geological wonders towards nature scenes and intimate landscapes, the idea for my first book changed into a book of nature photographs along the lines of Eliot Porter’s In Wildness is the Preservation of the World. Time went on and I had many ideas, but in the end I left Canada without any book being published.

Some 23 years after the book’s conception, I decided to revive the idea as I sat down in the autumn of 2010 and went over a list of ideas for my next photo book with blurb.com. There were many ideas: New Zealand’s South Island, mountains of the world, geologic art, the Canadian Prairies, autumn in the Canadian Maritimes, travel photographs from 12 countries… the list went on. Though any of those ideas would have been a pleasure to bring into reality, at the time I was becoming homesick for the mountains and nature of British Columbia and I decided that my next book would be my first book idea ever.

Scanning Nightmares

A rough selection of photographs was made and then they were organized into a rudimentary theme which in turn dictated how the photographs would be grouped and which ones would be culled or replaced. At last I brought the winners to the store for scanning. I requested the same Kodak scanning process as I had for the Japan Alps photographs. Two weeks later, I viewed the scans on my computer and was disturbed to find many foregrounds or backgrounds out of focus. Though many photographs were from my first years of photographing with slide film, I knew those images should not have been out of focus. I had been a stickler for employing hyper focal distance and even gave a brief lecture once at my local camera club about it. But when the vertical slides showed the same out of focus areas but this time across the foreground and background (i.e. along the side of the slide and not the bottom or top) it became apparent that the trouble was with the scanning and not my photography.

I brought the slides back and had them rescanned at no charge but once again most images were not sharp throughout. I also noticed that the colours of some images had changed, some for better others for worse. After a third try there were still so many images that were unusable that I gave up and put the project on hold. I later tried another camera store outfit’s service which did not scan at as high a resolution but the resulting scans came out sharp. Was this going to be good enough?

The Test Copy

The next big project was creating the map of Southwestern BC by tracing a printout of a map and then drawing in my own details – mountains, cities, etc. I scanned it at work and spent some time colouring it in on my computer. With the map ready and the text having been prepared in the early stages of the project, I was finally ready to upload the book and order a test copy.

I was both pleasantly surprised and dissatisfied with the result. The cover photo and text were not centred and in fact the cover image bleed around the edge to the inside cover. This was not how I had designed it. Also the dust jacket was not cut straight and fit poorly on the cover. But this I could chalk up as a single mistake because I had printed over 15 copies of the Japan Alps and had no such problems.

Inside the book, the Kodak scans came out either acceptably or with glaringly obvious focusing issues. The other scans, however, were surprisingly sharp and with good colour. In fact, they came out sharper than most of the images in the Japan Alps book. I decided that it would be best to check all the photographs and any that was of dubious or disastrous reproduction quality would get rescanned. I also scrutinized the text for spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation errors. I found a couple of dozen small errors and fixed them up. The new scans replaced the failed images and once again the book was ready for uploading.

Now I am waiting to receive the fruits of all my labour and after a year the book project is finally completed.

This book is a collection of images I made from 1989 to 1999 and in 2005 in Southwestern British Columbia, Canada. The book is divided into five chapters: Journey, Valley, Shore, Mountain, and Beyond. Journey is mostly text documenting my journey from that first roll of slide film to leaving for Japan in 1999. Valley features photographs captured in and around the Fraser Valley, mostly nature and intimate landscapes. Shore is a smaller collection of sea shore scenes. Mountain is mountain landscapes and mountain nature captured in the local North Shore Mountains as well as in many of the big provincial parks in the area, particularly Garibaldi Provincial Park. Beyond takes a peek at some of the landscapes east of the Southwestern BC border, places where semi-arid environments create desert-like landscapes and a trip across the Coast Mountains leads to the rain shadow. The book is 120 pages and available in hard cover or soft cover and with standard paper or the higher quality lustre paper at blurb.com.

5 responses to “This Little Corner – A Photo Book

  1. I’ve had similar issues with the scanners at ABC photocolour in vancouver. Not to mention dust particles dragged across my images, misaligned images and out of focus images from an improperly functioning high res scanning machine. At one point the woman at the shop just bluntly told me what I wanted her to do about it as though she didn’t want to acknowledge any sort of responsibility for it.

    • Hi, LPL! Nice to see you out here. It’s been awhile since the IQ days. Scanning can’t be easy and I heard from others about the meticulousness and care required in doing it yourself. I think I could buy a scanner and save money but my frustration levels with machines usually peak very quickly. At least if there are problems at the lab I can just ask for them to redo the scans. In Japan, of course, no one has the attitude that you described that one woman had. But I offered the store clerks here an excuse by saying they were old slides mounted in a different style mount perhaps. But not all of them were old and not all the old ones had problems. Go figure!

  2. I think you will want to hit me for saying this, but I’d buy an ebook version for my iPad!

    Real books are so inconvenient… and take up too much space… and aren’t with you when you want to look at them…

    • Julesberry, no, I wouldn’t hit you. With an iPad I think ebooks are a good idea. But I have been a fan of photo art books for about 28 years and I have quite a collection from several countries and I am sure none of them are available as an ebook. Actually, my blurb books can be downloaded as an ebook if I activate that feature but I have to buy one myself and on my iPhone it is not much fun reading books or viewing photographs. However, I think I will go ahead anyway since tablet computers are becoming so popular. Maybe even you will download a book of mine!

      I know your name from Flickr, right?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. I read your RSS feed so if you make an ebook available and advertise it on your blog I’ll be sure to go and buy one.

    Yes that’s me on flickr but you might also know me from julesandjames.blogspot.com or from our mtn pages… http://www.ne.jp/asahi/julesandjames/home/ ?

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