While not a Georgian Bay resident Jason Foley (yes, relation) spends a lot of his free time exploring most of Central Ontario, the Bay area included, with a lens pointed at either the infinitesimal or the infinite.
While Jason enjoys his day job because he “thoroughly loves playing with spreadsheets all day,” his role with a logistics industry corporation can be fast-paced and photography has become a release valve for the pressures that work and life can put in our path.
“It was actually you,” he reminds me “who got me interested in photography initially.” True, I have long had a passion for photography, but I am confident in saying Jason has taken the art form to a whole other level.
“My first camera was an Olympus and airplanes were really my first subject matter. At that time I was taking flying lessons and I was fascinated by aircraft. I would spend hours sitting near Pearson International taking pictures of planes as they landed. They were actually good subjects to cut my teeth on as it forced me to learn about exposure and the other settings needed to capture a good image.”
In 2004 Jason married Jacqueline and in anticipation of their honeymoon in Italy he bought a Canon Digital Rebel, his first DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. “Of course I was able to take lots of great photos on that trip,” he remembers. “But I think the real TSN turning point was during a haircut with Jimmy Pountney, owner of Innovations the Salon in Bolton. He had just bought a Canon 6D and convinced me that I really needed to go full frame. I traded my camera in and bought one. And that really kick-started it for me. The image quality was just so much better.
One summer day after purchasing a Park Model mobile home in a seasonal park on Pigeon Lake just outside of Bobcaygeon Jason read online that you could utilize a reverse lens macro technique with an existing kit lens, allowing a very low budget way to experience close up macro. ”I did it and took a picture of a bug on our deck and I was instantly hooked on photographing bugs. It’s a real infatuation, watching these tiny creatures live out their lives entirely oblivious to all of our drama that’s going on around them.”
That love of all-things-small soon expanded to the intricacy within everyday objects that you don’t normally see with the naked eye – experimentation with water drops, snowflakes, soap bubbles – and, of course, more insects.
Over time his focus shifted from what was beside his feet to the heavens overhead. “I’ve always had an interest in space” he explains. “I think what really jump-started the astrophotography was my purchase of a Sigma telephoto lens. I bought it to experiment with taking pictures of the moon. But then you start reading about deep sky objects you could try to photograph and you start learning about tracking mounts and all that good stuff” he laughs.
“One night I shot a picture of Andromeda and suddenly realized that there sitting in front of me, on the box of my camera, was a galaxy that was two and a half million light years away. I literally jumped up and down with excitement – by myself, in the middle of the night, in the dark, behind our trailer” he chuckles. “That was the most memorable moment for me.”
In 2020 Jason’s interest in astrophotography led him to another memorable experience, capturing Comet Neowise as it blazed past Bobcaygeon one summer evening. The striking image, with an elm tree silhouetted in the foreground, resonated with a lot of people and he has sold numerous prints.
“Something remarkable about photography for me is that every image captures a specific moment in time. When I look at one of my pictures it’s like being transported back to that moment, I can remember when it was, where I was, how I felt.”
“There was a picture that I shared online of a road leading north from Bobcaygeon towards Haliburton, cut rock on both sides. A viewer commented that many years earlier, that very spot was a landmark that her children would watch for as it represented their imminent arrival to a family cottage. On another occasion I shared a photo that I captured of a nearby campfire, surrounding trees aglow, with the Milky Way soaring overhead. To my delight, the very individual sitting by that fire commented on the photo, and how I had captured what he loves about the area, his favorite place in the world. When I sell a print and someone tells me that it’s in some way so impactful for them, that’s spiritual currency. That to me is as valuable as the sale. My photography is connected to my own spirituality, and it’s very gratifying if I can create that for someone else.”