The River’s Edge





At-the-Edges3The river ice is breaking up slowly. Shifting a little everyday in the sun and wind and really coming open where there are strong undercurrents. I was a little surprised to see this snapping turtle floating at the frayed edges of the ice, able to lift its head for air but otherwise shifting with the water like a piece of driftwood, too cold to move. It’s been a long winter for everybody and spring has been tentative. We have land now, though. Earth, mud, grit and weathered grasses. The snow is mostly gone, we are just waiting on the river…




© Karen McRae, 2014

Road Stories 2 ~ the edges of



Left-Behind-_-Light-TrailsThe edges of the city in that in-between light at the edge of the day. It seems too we are in the fray of both winter and spring. But were making progress. It’s okay that it’s not moving along too quickly; I am trying to savour the slow release of the earth and the lethargic inching up of the thermometre.

Transitions can happen so quickly that there are times you can’t get to them. Can’t be in them. They are gone before you arrive. But the edges, they are full of possibilities too.


[These images were made while traveling in a moving car]

© Karen McRae, 2014

Coming to Life


A rather awkward little animation but it was fun to make. The subject is a seed head from my garden photographed at slightly different angles to allow for movement and then layered and animated in Photoshop.

Unfortunately it cannot be turned off but below is a still image of the same subject for visual relief. GIFs can get annoying very quickly! It’s not something I would usually post (although I’ve made a few other unskilled animations over the years), but for some reason I keep picturing this little dragon breathing…


What’s growing in your garden?

© Karen McRae, 2014

Incremental Spring


AfterWinter2These little seed heads in my garden keep calling me back to look at them and I like observing their changes as they advance through the seasons and work their way out of the snow. Somehow they still hold a whisper of the faded colours of summer.

Spring is in no hurry, really, but under the trees there are finally circles of earth, damp and tarnished from the winter. These hopeful patches might hold a gentle robin or a few starlings jabbing hungrily at the ground, and today for the first time I am hearing the lovely lilt of a red-winged blackbird. We are grateful for any bits of spring that we find even if it is simply the incremental folding back of the snow or a few pussy willows breaking through their skins.

Below: The first pussy willows, a couple of weeks old now…

© Karen McRae, 2014

Things Lined Up Haphazardly

on a grey day…

Monumental-PoplarsThe tree images are in-camera double exposures. One exposure is a still shot and the other is made with camera movement (I think it’s worth clicking on the top image to see it larger). Today is sunny, though, and just warm enough for a bit of melting but there’s not too much spring here yet.


Wired-StarlingsIn spite of winter’s extensive embrace the birds seem rather cheerful. There is lots of singing and fluttering outside my window. I hope they don’t mind another 10-15 cm of snow that is apparently on its way… These are restless starlings ‘vibrating’ on a power line and even though they are out focus I sort of like the smudgy charcoal look of them. Well, happy (sort of) spring.    : )

© Karen McRae, 2014

Collaboration, Creativity and KIN Fables

fog-spiritsFog spirit, © Seb McKinnon with original photography by Karen McRae

I’m quite excited to present some amazing work by Montreal artist Seb McKinnon, starting with the little collaboration above. To create this image Seb worked by shape-shifting three of my photographs together until he conjured up an ethereal fog spirit in the landscape.

When I asked him to describe his creative process these are a few of the words he sent me, “As an illustrator, I’ve developed a personal technique that relies heavily on creating chaos in order to find my subject. In other words, I mess up the canvas in a very subconscious way with digital tools, a very intuitive process, quick actions, quick responses…”

I think this technique is illustrated very nicely when one travels through the collection of artwork on Seb’s blog, which I have had the pleasure of following for the past few years.

Back to the little fog spirit. It is part of much bigger story; Seb is no ordinary illustrator.


KIN Mask Concepts © Seb McKinnon

He, and his brother, filmmaker Ben McKinnon, have been working together on a gorgeous trilogy of short films called KIN Fables which bring together Seb’s extraordinary artistic vision, Ben’s outstanding cinematography, and a myriad of other talented collaborators. Even the haunting music score (Clann) that runs through the eight minute film was composed by Seb.

I hope you take a few minutes to experience the magic of the first film, KIN, which has already won some cinematography awards and was recently featured as a Vimeo staff pick. You won’t be disappointed!

To help support the making of the next two films, Salvage and Requiem, the McKinnon brothers have a Kickstarter campaign on the go until the end of March. You can visit their Kickstarter page here to learn more about the trilogy, and to see some of Seb’s inspired artwork made just for KIN Fables and contributors to the project.

I’m honoured, too, to have been invited to collaborate artistically! I’ll be making some photographs to support the multimedia aspect of the project, which, along with photography, includes a graphic novel, a full length music album, and paintings and illustrations.

You can watch the Kickstarter video below to find out more about this inspiring project, and you’ll “meet” the McKinnon brothers too! This where the power of community and collaboration come together and make things happen.

Places to go ~

Kickstarter: KIN Fables Kickstarter
Production: Five Knights Production
Facebook: KIN Fables

Kin Fables in the Media ~

The Concordion: KIN fables: ‘a musical, visual journey into fable’

The Main (Montreal): KIN, A Journey into Modern Fable

knight&girlKnight & Girl © Seb McKinnon