Learning to Walk

It’s been a long two-plus years. A pandemic short-circuited our long distance walking plans but, in place of those, my Polaroid adventures kept me company. The whole idea behind WalkClickMake has always been to look for the mysterious ways walking, photography and making things might artfully intersect. Certainly the latter two activities have come to the fore in my recent blog posts and, you may be asking yourself, what about all those great walks?

This post is my first tentative return to walking form. It’s a gentle start. A simple walk to the park, barely nine kilometers in length. But bigger adventures are coming this September.

Of course, I never really stopped walking. There were neighborhood jaunts, city hikes and some wilderness treks in my home province of Manitoba. But these walks were largely disconnected from my photography pursuits.

I call this post “Learning to Walk” not because I have forgotten how to put one foot in front of the other but to reconnect my photography to my walks in a fresh way. That is what you will see—and, for the first time, hear—in what follows below.

Read on to view today’s photos, a soundscape captured along the route and an interactive map.

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Plane Jane: A Walk to the Airport (2022 Edition)

Looking for a good long walk on one of Winnipeg’s first spring-like days? This Saturday, join tour leaders Gail Perry and David Firman for a unique walk from our house to YWG, Winnipeg’s international airport. It’s our contribution to Jane’s Walk 2022.

This is a fun but long walk so be sure to read the following not-so-fine print:

Date and time

Sat, 7 May 2022

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT

You can register for this free walking tour on Eventbrite but, if it’s a last minute decision to join in, just show up at noon on Saturday.

The walk starts at 521 Raglan Road, in the Wolseley neighbourhood. This is our home. We will gather in the front yard. There are major bus stops at Raglan Road and Valour Road serving all Portage Avenue bus routes within 290 metres or a 4 minute walk.

This is a fun but long walk so be sure to read the following not-so-fine print:

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Plane Jane: A Walk to the Airport (the virtual, pandemic version)

It’s a crazy idea, something you’re not supposed to do. But walking to YWG, whether for pleasure or to catch a plane, is entirely possible. Your hosts, Gail Perry and David Firman, have done it for the adventure of exploring places off most pedestrian road maps and, on many occasions, to catch flights to far off places.

Want to try it? Then join us on our virtual tour, a 3 hour, 11.5 km round trip, starting in the Wolseley neighbourhood and winding through residential, commercial and industrial areas on our way to Winnipeg’s new airport. And then return by way of Omand’s Creek as it takes us by strip malls, big box stores—all those place you usually drive to—as well as surprising stretches of restored prairie. 

Along the way, we’ll explore architectural gems, such as St. James Church, find hidden vest-pocket parks, investigate austere industrial parks, reflect on airports lost and new. But, most importantly, we will take ownership of places in our city where no pedestrian was meant to tread. And, who knows, maybe your next trip to Hawaii will start with a walk to the airport.

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First Snow in Black and White and Polaroid

My Polaroid work of late has been entirely in colour, using the latest iteration of Polaroid SX-70 colour film. However, for some time I have coveted the opportunity to play with Polaroid’s Black and White SX-70 film. After all, I was a black and white film photographer for twenty-plus years leading up to my introduction to digital photography—and colour— at the turn of this century.

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Vintage Inglis Grain Elevators Meet Vintage Polaroids

“A group of five grain elevators in Inglis in the Rural Municipality of Riding Mountain West is one of the last remaining examples of a once-common prairie icon. Now preserved as a national historic site and a provincial historic site, the Inglis site represents an important period in the development of Canada’s grain industry from 1900 to 1930.

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Polaroids On The Beach

It was a warm summer afternoon, a good opportunity to walk along the shoreline of Lake Winnipeg. Just up the eroded slope, Gail and Styxx (our greyhound) lounged in the yurt we had rented for a few days at Camp Morton Provincial Park. Down here, the lake was calm, gently lapping on the smooth stones at water’s edge. As I moved down the beach at a relaxed pace, out came the Polaroid for a short series of photos.

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Beyond Our Windows: Fall Polaroids

While I work to get the planned book for my From Our Windows project completed—and you will be hearing more about that progress soon—I have ventured outside with my SX-70 Polaroid camera in-hand. To start, here is a selection of instant photos taken a mere 100 metres from my front door along the banks of Omand’s Creek. It was already late fall and the leaves, for the most part, had changed colour and fallen. A few weeks later, I returned to the site where I had taken the photos and rephotographed the scene, this time capturing the original SX-70 photos as they fell from my limb to the forest floor. I hope you enjoy the photos and the short film at the end!

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Just Published: On Omand’s Creek by David Firman

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Ordinarily, I would recommend a walk down the frozen surface of Omand’s Creek, the perfect antidote for these COVID-19 days of uncertainty and social-distancing. At its mid-winter best, this is a walk with some risk—crawling on ice through a steel conduit, for example—but spring is closing in, temperatures are rising and water can already be seen flowing over deteriorating ice.  A walk is all but impossible till next winter.

In its place, I offer a self-isolating, fireside-and-scotch alternative: my just-published On Omand’s Creek, the eighth in the Ways To Walk series of small softcover books.

Winnipeg is blessed with frigid winters. Its rivers and creeks freeze over every year, without fail, becoming seasonal sidewalks, opportunities to revisit the city from unique perspectives. Of all those frozen waterways, Omand’s Creek is arguably the most tortured, most compromised. Yet there is an aching beauty to be seen from its white banks. On Omand’s Creek is the story in words and pictures of my trek up this iced-over creek, from its mouth at the Assiniboine River and stretching north to Brookside Cemetery.   

On Omand’s Creek and the other Ways To Walk books can be previewed (in full) and/or purchased at my Blurb Bookstore. Continue reading

Just Published: Navigating Hope by David Firman and Gail Perry

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I’m proud to announce the publication of Navigating Hope. This is the seventh in my Ways To Walk series of small softcover books documenting—through photography, prose and map graphics— a number of my short, mostly Winnipeg walks in search of nothing in particular other than some vague understanding of where I am at any particular moment.

Navigating Hope and the other Ways To Walk books can be previewed and purchased at my Blurb Bookstore.

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