Portraits of an Era
The Aerial Photography of Howdy McPhailAuthor Bill Waiser Photographs by Howdy McPhail ISBN 9781897252581 Binding Trade Cloth Publisher Fifth House Publication Date October 16, 2009 Size 229 x 254 mm
An astounding collection of aerial photographs of farms, villages, and communities large and small from Ontario to British Columbia-Thunder Bay to Victoria-in the 1950s and 1960s. This book is perfect for the nostalgia and gift market, history and aviation buffs, and those interested in photography. The never before published collection is unique for its immeasurable historic value.
What really distinguishes Howdy's work is the simple artistry of each composition. His aerials are not in any sense generic, or for that matter, sterile. Even though he was both flying the plane and using a handheld camera, his photographs are amazingly sharp. They are also surprisingly detailed, especially given the distance from the subject, and this textual richness provides a window to the material culture of the period. Howdy had a keen sense of the landscape and tried to capture the rhythm and patterns of daily life by including people and their activities in the scenes whenever possible. The pictures are effectively saying that this is their home ground. Nothing delighted Howdy more during his picture outings than spotting individuals waving at him as he flew overhead and pressed the shutter. That moment-that intersection of plane, camera, and subject-can never be duplicated again given the transitory nature of photography.
It's what makes Howdy McPhail's pictures so special, so valuable, but most of all, so reflective of a truly remarkable pilot who took aerial obliques to the level of an art form.
H. D. McPhail, a character in his own right, left an aerial history of land and life in post WWII Canada. His life and photography are presented through the historical lens of historian Bill Waiser.