I left you last spring with the image from the cover of my new (and last) book of photography. What followed has been an exceptional summer on the River. The weather was outstanding and personally, it has been a relief to not feel compelled to chase images every dawn and dusk. I still take shots when they present themselves, but have very much enjoyed a slower pace photographically, which definitely made this summer special.
There was also the privilege of launching the book at three sold-out events with Tony Dekker and his acclaimed band Great Lake Swimmers. Tall Ships Landing presented the Brockville Arts Centre’s performance on June 4th, Lake Ontario’s Waterkeeper was the presenter for the June 5th Wolfe Island concert and Syracuse's Burdick Driver’s Village and the Clayton River Festival presented the Clayton Opera House event on June 26th.
At each of these events we screened a collaborative tribute to the 1000 Islands which you can see here.
This video features a moody instrumental track recorded by Tony and the Swimmers specifically to go with images from the new book. In the fall of 2009 when the band was in the midst of an intensive international “Lost Channels” tour (an album recorded on and inspired by the River), they took time off to return here to film the music video “Palmistry” aboard the tall ship Fair Jeanne. That video can be seen here, as can an interview about how all this came about, here.
Following that, Tony spent three days at the island with their sound engineer Justin Nace, to record a guitar solo with some of the River’s beautiful natural music - loons, geese, crickets and gently lapping waves. This was easier said than done when we quickly learned that sounds are just as elusive as pictures.
The days were windy and the wildlife evasive, but thanks to Justin’s persistence and quick action on a couple of occasions, we finally got what was needed. Note that the loon you’ll hear is actually the baby you’ll see on Mommy’s back in the video and on page 9 of the book. Justin managed to capture it with a parabolic microphone while it was learning to fly - in the dark!
After the book launch events, another memorable moment was learning that my printer in Shenzhen, China had submitted the book for the Premier Print Benjamin Franklin “Benny” Award. With over 5,000 entries submitted by printers from around the world, it was quite a surprise that the book won! This is particularly gratifying as it's not distributed anywhere beyond the immediate region, so having it (and the region) recognized internationally was a very pleasant surprise.
I strongly suspect that the high gloss laminated pages played a role in this. As far as we know, this is the first book ever published with high gloss lamination on both sides of every page. Apparently folding, binding and stitching double-laminated pages is a real challenge, so it was very difficult to find a printer willing to attempt it. Normally gloss lamination is used on a single side only, for covers.
There had been a strong temptation to default to a more conventional gloss process when time grew very tight last winter, but the “Benny” confirms it was well worth holding out for. This was the last chance to make a clear visual statement about how I feel about this magical place and how I believe it should be presented. I’m thrilled they managed it technically and as I’ve said many times this summer, “Never mind the pictures, just pay attention to the gloss!” It wasn’t easy (or inexpensive) to get.
The three different editions of Volume I and Volume IV are sold out. Volume II (Water, Wind and Sky) is still available and while most shops are sold out of Volume III, I have a limited number of copies remaining along with the new book, Volume V. If any of these might be of interest for use as Christmas gifts, you can order them by clicking on the appropriate book on the home page.
It is that time of year again when most of us have to resort to memories and photographs to help with winter withdrawal. Traditionally, I’ve shared images of lesser known spots to test your knowledge of the region by identifying where they were taken. I think it’s about time to broaden that concept and include some of the more easily recognizable places so we can hopefully dredge up some interesting stories about them.
So with that in mind, please don’t be shy to share your most interesting stories about this island and/or the passing ship. A set of 8 x 10 prints awaits the most interesting story.
Download wide-angle version
Very well done..music, photos..the whole package..originaly from Watertown...family still owns cottage on Piller Point..love the area and your work..
Mark Phillipson posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
Congratulations Ian on your splendid book and thanks for working with Great Lake Swimmers for these three very special events this past summer. Thank you as well for having us all on your island paradise. Best regards PK
posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
We used to call it 3 Sisters Light, that was in the late 50's or early 60's. I can recall going into the vacant building and climbing the stairs just to look out from the lantern. I recall the causeway between the islands being a bit more "rough" than it looks in the photo. Looks to be a beautiful restored home now.
Tom Hodge posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
Some of these photos absolutely take your breath away. I grew up spending summers in the Islands and I have never seen such amazing photos. Thank you for sharing them on the website.
Patricia Smolen posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
Morris Huck should have no difficulty in identifying Sister Island with Third Brother in the background. Great photo but we have no story to go with it. We were delighted that Volume V was such an unqualified success.
Ruth Anne & Tub Tolton, Mallorytown, ON posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
I just put the new wallpaper photo on my desktop and my computer has never looked better! We closed our cottage on Murray today. So sad but at least we have some beautiful winter photos to look at of our fabulous river. Thank you Ian!
Susan Charbonneau posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
Breathtaking - as always, Ian. I cannot wait to see the book, I have just put it at the top of my Christmas list! After discovering the 1000 Islands with my wife, Janet who is from the area, the next great discovery was your images documenting the splendor of this region. I fell head over heels with the first visit to the 1000 Islands and just love returning there again and again. Now we have a daughter and I am eager to show her too! And when I cannot be there, I am in heaven with your photos - nobody's done it better, kudos. Thanks for your generosity in sharing the images over the years.
posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
Three Sisters Lighthouse with Third Brother behind and Whale beyond. When I was a kid, the Royal yacht Britannia came through with Queen Elizabeth on board. We flew out from Chippewa Bay to admire the yacht and scout for the Queen. It was a windy day and there was a lot of chop from all of the onlookers. I remember looking over the side of my grandmother's Lyman off the head of Three Sisters to see a shoal "RIGHT THERE". (It is not visible in your photograph.) In the chop we were about to bounce on it, and visions of broken boards and flying splinters filled my head. I hollered and the helmsman roared ahead and avoided disaster. He positioned us on the US side of the channel after that, and we were rewarded with a sighting of the Queen. Much to my delight, the wind blew her skirt up.
Susie Wood and David Duff posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
Thanks for the wallpaper, Ian. I have long lurked in the background, enjoying the online magazine and your stunning images. I got a couple of copies of your latest book at its launch, and it more than lived up to its billing. My only quibble, is that you state, regarding Rock Island Light, that Bill Johnston retired to be the first keeper of the lighthouse. A common claim, but incorrect. He was, in fact, the *third* keeper, preceded by Chesterfield Pearson (1848-1849) and John Collins (1849-1853). Bill Johnston held the position from 1853 to 1861.Regarding the wall paper image of Sisters Island Light, I don't have any stories about the ship, but love the image of the lighthouse. The lighthouse on Sisters Island (also known by variants of the name, including Three Sisters Island) was built in 1870, and was close to last in the series of nineteenth century lighthouses built in the Thousand Islands, with the exception of Brown's Point Light (aka Knapp's Point Light) on Wolfe Island (1874) and the lights on the Cape Vincent Harbor breakwater (1900). William Dodge was keeper from 1870 to1921: 51 years! Although they were poorly paid, and sometimes subject to the winds of political interference, this kind of longevity was not uncommon (witness William Gillespie's 54 years as keeper of Wolfe Island Lighthouse), and the light keeper position was often passed from father to widow or son.
Mary Alice Snetsinger posted on: Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Ian, I also explored the lighthouse when it was abandoned years ago. Saw the Queen as well and the yacht going up river for the celebrations and downriver when there were only a few boats following her on the way back to England. On the North end of the small island behind Third Brother (we called it Little Snipe) I found an abandoned and burned cabin cruiser early one spring. Apparently it was stolen one fall, set adrift and afire and grounded itself on Little Snipe. At the top of your beautiful photo is where our family place is on the US mainland on Indian Point Road right behind Angel Isle which was named by my Mom in memory of Katie Austin (my niece) who passed away as a very young girl.
posted on: Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Ian, Great picture, as always. Quick story, only because it demonstrates an important lesson. "Modern electronics are great for exploring the islands, but don't forget what you learned about navigation from a compass, stop watch, and hand-held chart." Years ago when I was just starting to "sail commercial", I was downbound at the helm of a small commercial vessel. At the suggestion of the captain, we took a shortcut north of Whiskey Island, along the SE shore of Grenadier, and on to re-enter the Seaway channel near Pilot Island, just north of the picture. I was relatively new to the vessel, and also new to the use of the GPS-guided chart plotter. I threaded my way down through the shoals south of Grenadier and was approaching the narrow spot between Sister Is. Shoal and Willoughby Is. I was drawing about 6 feet, so I was watching for the unnamed shoal on the port side with a depth of 4 feet. It was my first time through there, and the slot looks narrow on the chart. Just as I lined up on it, the electronics on the boat went dead. To my greater concern, the captain and engineer both left for the engine room to try to fix the problem,.......leaving me alone on the bridge to work out my fate. It was too late to anchor, and too narrow to turn around. I slowed and slid through without any problem. But....all the time I was thinking of my instructor who had said, "electronics are great aids, but don't rely upon them exclusively. Stay ready to fall back on the old-fashioned chart and compass." It was a lesson well-learned,...and worth repeating. Thanks again for the great photos.
Dick Withington posted on: Friday, November 05, 2010
Even though it isn't quite the same view one has from a kayak, I think I can safely guess that this is the Sisters Island Lighthouse and surrounding area. Sisters Island is just north of Hemlock Island and just a little west of Singer Castle (Dark Island). Sisters Island was formerly Three Sisters Islands that were eventually connected by walkways and breakwalls. The 60-foot lighthouse is build right into its 140-year old stone house. The island runs parallel and just south of the International Border. However, at the time it was first put into service the channel passed on the northern side of the island. In 1959 when the Seaway opened, the lighthouse was replaced with a buoy and the island was sold at a public auction to the Gavel family. What the aerial picture doesn't show is the large osprey nest now located in the chimney. And speaking of ospreys, the picture does show a large channel marker in the background where another osprey nest was build. A few years ago, vandals burned the osprey nest down. By the next season it was rebuilt (I don't remember whether Mrs. Osprey had any human assistance on that or whether she did it all on her own).
Patty Mondore, Jamesville, NY posted on: Friday, November 05, 2010
Ian, Hello. We can look out at Sisters Is. We are taking care of camps at Wildwook. Still working at Singer Castle, (Jorstadt Castle) remembering the great time we had there, great time. Hope we can see you again. We really have always loved your work.
Harvey and Flo Jones posted on: Monday, November 22, 2010
I don't know how you did it but your picture with the tanker was amazing. Although I download all your images and save them, this one I just had to download to my computer where I work part time as a Business Manager. Everyone who sees it for the first time just can't get over it, making some sort of comment. But then I suppose that you are used to getting comments like mine.
Stan Ren posted on: Monday, November 22, 2010
Thank you for the wonderful photo of Sister Island Light, and congratulations of on winning the Premier Print Benjamin Franklin “Benny” Award. Your latest book is an artistic and technical triumph, and the images therein will help sustain us through the winter months to come. We thoroughly enjoyed last summer's presentation at the Clayton Opera House, and we are now fans of the Great Lakes Swimmers! With warm regards, Robert
Robert Charron, Syracuse, NY posted on: Tuesday, January 04, 2011