Dan Bouman

Dan Bouman. Photographer. Conservationalist. Taken June 28, 2011

Dan Bouman. Photographer. Conservationalist. Taken June 28, 2011

In 2005 Dan Bouman turned a room in the Gibsons Public Art Gallery into a giant camera obscura. Entering it was an unusual and strangely unsettling experience. It was a bright sunny day in lower Gibsons and the interior of the camera was very dark. It took about four minuted for my eyes to adjust to the light. But when they did I could see the water, the dock and fishing boats of the harbour inverted and "projected" on the wall of the room. It made even ordinary events like the passage of a car or the progress of a person seem magical. As if the movement confirmed that this was not simply a reflection or faint slide projection, but was, in fact a copy of reality. The magic was accomplished with no more than darkness and a tiny hole placed in exactly the right spot.

There is a famous scene in the Pressburger and Powel film A Matter of Life and Death (also known as Stairway to Heaven) that opens with a man in a camera obscura, observing, godlike, the daily goings on in his English village at the time of the second world war. The scene has implications for what will transpire in the rest of the film. [I've embedded the clip at the end of this post.]

Dan is also the man behind a set of very well done photos of thespians in the Heritage Playhouse. Mostly completed around 2001, Dan took some time to set up the shots. They are perfectly lit and communicate a wonderful sense of humour and drama. The photos lined the theatre entrance and I was always inspired by them every time I passed by.

On the Sunshine Coast many of us know Dan as the director of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association. Dan is the director. His clear-headed, tireless work is much appreciated. To back up this endorsement I made an on-line donation to the SCCA the day this post went up.

Dan's camera obscura and pin-hole photography is the subject of a review in Going Coastal Magazine and a feature in The Georgia Straight by Andrew Scott. You can find out more about him in the directors page of the SCCA.

Tim McLaughlin

Photographer and writer based in Vancouver, Canada