Up in the Air

Being suspended above the ground is a strange experience. It’s even stranger when two thin pieces of metal are all that’s holding you there. I got to fly a plane for the first time this last week. I’ve flown in passenger jets before, but having control of a little tin can of a plane is very odd.

A friend from Vancouver flew into town last week right in front of all the forest fire smoke. He has his own little Cessna 150 which was built in the ’60s. It’s a tiny little two seater – the smallest plane Cessna makes. We took a little trip out to Cooking Lake and tried some stalls and spins over the lake (which were pretty scary), and of course I took a few photos (which was pretty fun).

These first two are of Cooking Lake from the air (or maybe more accurately – Cooking Mud Flats).

We filled in gas in Cooking Lake.

It was pretty smoky around Edmonton from the forest fires in BC.

Getting Lucky

“You got lucky and have a couple good photos. I imagine everyone has a few great pictures on their computer.” These were the words spoken to me today by a “photographer” who saw me selling prints at Folk Fest. It was interesting to hear, and I agreed with him. After all, it is true that many people have a few great photos; it is also true that I occasionally get lucky while taking photos. But I think he was implying that photographers (maybe nature photographers specifically) don’t have control over the quality of their photos. And that is completely false.

I don’t control the weather, the sun, the way the trees grow, or the layout of the mountains. This is the challenge of nature photography – adapting to the environment, finding strong compositions, waiting for or creating the right light. It’s about working with what is there to create a mood, a story, a little world within a frame. This takes a great deal of practice and skill, along with some experimenting. But there’s always a little luck involved.

These are from the Moss Lake trail in Elk Island National Park last night between 10 and midnight. It was overcast and a new moon so – pretty dark. (For what it’s worth, I was trying to create my own luck and time my visit right to catch the perseid meteor shower. As it turns out I had to work with an overcast sky, so I got these instead)

Lens Changes

While my photo compositions and perspectives change slowly over time, lens changes transform my pictures overnight. I recently switched over to a camera system with a larger sensor, and currently only have money for prime lenses. This has taken a bit of getting used to, and limits my photography in some ways, but it has also provided opportunities I’ve never had before. Cue the shallow depth of field landscapes!