Rants, Observations & More


Unless otherwise credited, all words and photographs are © David Ritchie and may not be used without permission.

Dec 12  Searching the Elgin County Archives online resource turned up some funny and interesting images. The topics, style, and eras covered are vast, it’s a great way to spend some time.

Newspaper photos often cover dignitaries receiving and giving awards, citizen groups holding large facsimile cheques for charitable causes, social events etc. They are known in the paper trade as ‘grip and grins’ for the ubiquitous handshake and smile-for-the-camera. The most boring assignment in the photo department.

Sometimes the subjects are being shown an object or perhaps a distant view by another person. In those cases, the photographer will resort to the gesture, usually, a person pointing. They generally look strained, posed and often funny.

Here are a few that I found. First this classic:

Homedale.jpg                   St Thomas Times-Journal 1956  Dude, the boss ain’t buying it.

Pointer3.jpg      St Thomas Times-Journal 1978       Dude, your leave was just cancelled.

Pointer4.jpg                   St Thomas Times-Journal 1979     Dude, you’re not convincing anybody.

Here’s a creative photo where the point is avoided. Instead, the subject’s entire body is a gesture. Much more natural.

Point4.jpg                     St Thomas Times-Journal 1968


Fire.jpgSt Thomas Times-Journal  1971 “This dude was serious about going out of business.”


This next photo is titled, “Mr Drakes summer cottage, Port Stanley, circa 1905Cottage.jpg Photo by CW Ellis

This is how one spent one’s vacation at one’s cottage in 1905. Relaxing in casual clothes; two-piece suits for the gentlemen, gardening dresses for the ladies, hats not mandatory.  The gent on the left has his jacket (gasp) unbuttoned.

Still stifled by Victorian mores and uptight by upbringing, unable to relax. But the casual pose of the gent standing foreground centre, plus that slovenly rogue lounging on the stairs, show hints of changes to come. But not too fast says the matriarchal queen on her porch throne.


Note: The ongoing Fish Tugs stories have a new exclusive page on the menu.


Dec 6  What is a good photograph? I don’t generally get involved in philosophical questions, it is unappealing to me, a form of navel-gazing, intellectual masturbation.

Despite that statement, I was intrigued when I found a video on YouTube that asked that very question. As a photographer since college, I often questioned my own photos worthiness. It’s a healthy and positive reaction, something I suspect most photographers share unless they have a cast-iron ego and are convinced that they are great.

We should never be too old to accept criticism and as the narrator and critic, Justin Jones states, “it’s very important to keep on learning throughout one’s life.” His video is thought-provoking and I agree with many of his ideas.

I have a personal phrase, although not as eloquently stated- “the minute that you think you know it all, life will bite you on the arse.”

Photo-speak and word nonsense. I seem unable to accept word changes for the sake of change, for feel-good substitute words (passed away), or simply to follow a trend and not be left behind, uncool and not with it. Whatever it is.

I think that the worse case is to dumb down words so that people don’t need to exercise their brains. Case in point is the description of how a camera is held to compose an image.

Vertical has become portrait, horizontal is now landscape. Are vertical and horizontal too complex to be understood?

Is it not a portrait if the photographer composes horizontally? Are landscapes only horizontal? Of course not, but the person learning photography is certainly led to believe so by the word change and creativity might be stifled.

“I held the camera vertically” becomes “I held the camera portraitly”?

It’s making my head spin considering these words. Time to get landscaped on the couch for a nap.





Dec 2  The ongoing fish tug project has opened areas of interest. The captains and crew have been very receptive to questions and willing to talk about their work and lives. Their usual challenge of finding fish is compounded by warming waters and cooling relations with the sportfishing people.

There seems to be a lot of antagonism towards commercial fishermen, “they’re taking all the fish, perch are disappearing” is a common thread on the interweb. Nasty acts like net-cutting have occurred. Aquatic road rage, mindless and expensive loss.

The facts are that perch numbers are cyclical and are also currently threatened by an abundance of prey fish- pickerel and trout. Trout are stocked in locations all over the Great Lakes.

The lake waters are warming, another challenge for commercial fishing. Fish have comfort zones. An overnight catch of hard to find perch was spoiled due to the 2 degrees warmer water and was refused by the fishery. That hurts.

Last week in Goderich a crewman told me that they were finally catching whitefish. Nobody gets paid if the fish aren’t caught. The whitefish were netted 150 feet deep. Normally they’d be around 90 feet or so. Warming waters again.

Those same waters are frigid now, and the men on fishing tugs still go to work, braving the weather and chance. The chance that they’ll return safely with fish to pay the bills. Not a good vocation for the timid.


Nov 27   The hunt for Hurley fish tugs led to ports at Bayfield and Goderich this week.

We were looking for the Last Time and the Mike J. Both Hurley builds were reportedly fishing out of Goderich, working the unforgiving, cruel late season in a tough effort to squeeze a living wage from the cold waters.

It cannot be an easy life. I was cold while waiting for their return to harbour, sheltered from the wild weather that fishing boats sometimes face. Life-threatening situations with nowhere to run.

More coming later, but here are a few photos from our excursion.

Docking.jpgThe Mike J in Goderich 2019


ExceleauCrew.jpgExceleau crew, Goderich 2019



The Mike J,   Goderich 2019


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2 thoughts on “Rants, Observations & More”

    1. Holy crap, was that a used pizza box or a fresh one. I hope it was not professionally framed because that would be unbelievable. The care you put into framing is awesome, if people only knew how many crappy framers are out there

      2 leaves


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