Plants: Wild Rose

The wild rose or prickly rose will be familiar to almost everyone who goes outside in Canada. They are the common source of pain when walking through undergrowth and the small thorns will get stuck in socks and pants for days after. But the flowers are a beautiful pink – especially brilliant when they are just buds and softening in color as they open up. When the flower is gone, a rose hip is produced. When it is ripe it turns bright red or orange. The skin of rose hips is edible and rich in vitamin C (although to me it doesn’t taste that good). It can be made into tea, jam or jelly. But don’t eat the seeds inside. They are not poisonous but have many little hairs that cause itching – if ingested the itching is usually felt on the way out.

Wild rose leaves provide a beautiful color palette in fall when they start to turn – from yellow across the spectrum through orange and red to dark purple and even a bluish green sometimes.

Plants: Wild Mint

I thought people might find it interesting to see some of the plants I regularly come across while hiking. This is wild mint. It is usually found in damp or swampy areas. Sometimes I smell it before I see it but it is especially potent when you pick a leaf and crunch it up under your nose. It is sometimes hard to see from a distance because it is usually shorter than the reeds or grass surrounding it. You can identify it by the smell, but to make sure it’s actually mint, check that it has a squarish stem and the leaves are on opposite sides of the stem. It makes a very nice tea!

Taken near Crimson Lake, AB
40mm, f2.8, 1/60 of a second

A Different Life

A Different Life in the Cuban Countryside

I’m not sure if it’s growing up on a farm and now living in a city, or if it’s a symptom of a hectic life, or if it’s just another “grass is greener” kind of thought, but living here looks like a beautiful life to me. I’m sure it comes with its own struggles and frustrations. I wonder if the owners would be surprised to know that I sometimes dream of living there.

Taken in central Cuba.
40mm, f2.8, 1/4000 of a second.

Little Flashes of Light

Fireflies in a Manitoba Meadow

These fireflies seemed to like the swampy areas, but as the night went on they spread out to fly through the trees and around the meadows.

Taken in central Manitoba.
21mm, f5, 13 seconds

Summer Sunset

Saskatchewan Summer Sunset

Just posting a quick warm photo of the beautiful province where I grew up: Saskatchewan. Spring is pretty much here and these are the evenings we have to look forward to soon!

135mm, f16, 1/25 of a second

Warmth in Winter

Guanayara Cuba Pool in the Rainforest

Being Canadian, this was a strange winter. Going to Cuba was an interesting adventure and I could spend years exploring this mountainous rainforest, but when the cold air hit me at the Edmonton airport I knew I was home and everything felt right again!

On this tropical hike it was sometimes raining on us, sometimes sunny, and sometimes a bit of both. Either way it was warm and misty and incredibly beautiful. This pool was deep with a waterfall feeding it – the perfect spot for a swim.

Taken in Parque Guanayara, Cuba
18mm, f8, 1/100 of a second

Mossy Stream

I got back from my first ever trip to the east coast a few days ago! I already want to go back, but catching up on real life is important too. I’m not finished going through the photos yet, but this one stood out to me. I’ve always loved the fairy-tale richness of mosses, mushrooms, and small streams. They’re the backdrop for a thousand story lines, and at the same time a peaceful place where nothing needs to happen.

Mossy stream early in the morning in Fundy National Park.
f11, 6 seconds

Abstracting II

On a warm idyllic autumn afternoon in a provincial park on the BC coast, I was exploring and taking photos, as I do. The warmth from the sun and the contrasting coolness of the forest was so peaceful. In photographic terms though (as is often the case in life), the details were a problem. There was really high-contrast harsh lighting and because it was pretty late fall, there were brown spots in a lot of the leaves. In this case I made that all go away to communicate a peaceful feeling. By using a wide aperture and purposely mis-focusing, I could communicate what I was actually feeling, instead of focusing on the exact details of the scene.

Below is what the shot would have been if I wanted things in focus – in this case a much worse photo.

Teaching Photo Classes

Just finished teaching another “Mastering Your SLR” class yesterday and it went great! I’m always nervous leading up to a class, love the teaching it as it’s happening, and completely crash, drained of all energy, afterwards. After a four hour nap right after class, a huge supper, and then a full night’s sleep I’m pretty much back to normal. I’m sure most of the students are pretty drained too – it’s a full day of working your brain pretty hard. But students of all levels are leaving the class pretty excited about the new-found abilities and choices they have when creating their photos. It’s fun to see their process of discovery, and it inspires me too.

Now for the composition class on Wednesday (there’s still space!), and then I get a little break from teaching until we set up the next classes in a month or so.

The photo is from Blackfoot Lake Rec Area this past fall.
14mm, f4, 1/80 of a second