Absence of a Crowd

Tropical Beach at Night

It’s strange to me how much the presence or absence of people changes my experience of a place. In the daytime this beach is bustling with activity, which many people seem to enjoy so much. For me, it’s too much going on. I feel like I have to keep track of it all and I can’t, and that gets stressful. With a dedicated effort of willpower I can start to ignore everything that’s going on. But walking out here at night it is entirely deserted. Then the quiet lapping of the water on the sand and the twinkle of the stars are able to fill the void left by all the people.

Taken in Cuba
24mm, f1.4, 15 seconds

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.

A Month of Camping

Camp site Overlooking the Cline River

This last month has been full of trips for me – a couple weeks of backpacking near Abraham Lake and a canoe trip down the North Saskatchewan. They’ve been unusual trips for me though. Instead of the normal peaceful quiet of nature I was in the middle of roaring stoves, surrounded by laughing, yelling, talking, and singing students.

Despite the dramatic departure from my usual outdoor experiences, I really enjoyed these trips and the people who made them what they were. The few nights where I had the energy left to stay up into the night were my little oasis of quiet in these busy and fun-filled trips. Thanks to all my fellow leaders and travelers who made these trips memorable!

Projects and Time

I’ve been silent for a few months now, and there’s a good reason for that. I just finished a huge project for the new Royal Alberta Museum. It’s been a whirlwind of coordinating with guides, driving around the province, scouting locations, and way too much time processing images. I met quite a few wonderful and fascinating people who made this job a pleasure to do.

When you walk in to the new museum when it opens (probably in late 2017), there will be a wall of 10 of my images in a row – each one 3 meters wide by 7 meters high. This was both a very exciting and intimidating project, and I can’t wait to see the final result. I’ve done a lot of prints over the years, but none quite as large as this. Prints always have something extra that a screen can’t quite deliver, so although I’ll have to wait for a long time to see them, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m going to let the photos remain a surprise – you’re going to have to go to the new museum to take a look and learn the stories associated with them.

Thanks to all the people who put up with me not being around and being slow to answer calls and emails while I was working on this.

Thanks to Jack Brink for the photo!

Wilderness Advanced First Aid

After an intense week of cramming knowledge into my brain and trying it out in pretty realistic scenarios I have my Wilderness Advanced First Aid certification. I have only good things to say about Wilderness Medical Associates who put on the course, MEC who sponsored it, and Nicki who was an amazing teacher — thanks!


New (old) car. Check.

Trip to BC. Check.

Time to make this site an interesting place to visit again. Check.

Expect more soon. 🙂

(The two photos are from a foggy road near the North Thompson River – 20mm,f9,1/160 of a second – and on the beach at night near Tofino – 17mm,f4.5,10 seconds)

Canoeing With Intensity

About a week ago I had the opportunity to take a Paddle Canada Moving Water Canoe Course. I learned a ton and had a lot of fun. I’m just starting to go through the photos, but I found this entertaining and I had to share it with you. Although Reg seems quite calm in the stern, I’ve got a slightly insane glint in my eye and I’m working really hard. Thanks to Michael for taking the photo, and to Priscilla and Ryan for being awesome instructors!

We were surfing a wave here, and we had started to slip off, so I’m doing a draw to try to get us back on the wave. Reg probably had it all under control, but apparently I’m good at panicking.

Learning to Sport Climb

I just got back from learning to sport climb near Canmore. Despite the rainy forecast we actually got a fair bit of nice weather and had a great time! We climbed near Grassi Lakes, Heart Creek, and Wasootch. I can’t wait to get out again and try some lead climbing, as well as some more creative photography. It’s hard to concentrate on photography while I’m learning another thing entirely, but as I get more comfortable with climbing the quality of the photos should go up. Which probably means I should go to the climbing gym, but that’s not nearly as fun as climbing outdoors. Here are a few photos I did manage to get on our trip.

Being belayed down after a successful climb.

Reg belaying as Seb leads one of the routes near Grassi Lakes.

Mike climbing near Grassi.

Seb rappelling down after cleaning the route.

Enjoying a snack break.

North Saskatchewan River Adventure

Actually, it didn’t turn out to be too adventurous. No one dumped, no one froze, and although we got a fair amount of rain it was pretty nice weather. I went on a four day canoe trip on the North Saskatchewan River with a bunch of awesome people from MEC. We put in at the Forestry Trunk Road Bridge and took out near the Brierlies (some popular rapids) at Rocky Mountain House. We ate amazingly well, had a few campfires (thanks to no fire ban) and paddled through some small rapids (some paddled through larger rapids than others). I’m still going through the photos, but here’s a little preview.

The first day was actually nice and sunny – a great day of paddling!

After the first day it got rainy, but we had loads of fun anyway.

Erin and Chris ran Devil’s Elbow on a cold drizzly day in a Starbust all outfitted with float bags and thigh straps. We were all set up at the bottom of the rapids with a couple throw bags and a rescue boat, but they made it through.

Eating Cheaply on the Road

Not eating sandwiches, also — backpacking, not roadtripping
Olympus E-620 with 12-60 lens
48mm, F8, 1/1600 of a second

Sandwiches. This post could be that single word. But I’ll elaborate.

I go on road trips regularly, and I don’t have a lot of money. So I’ve had a lot of time to perfect this.

When I’m on a road trip I don’t want to spend lots of time eating — there’s much to see and places to go. Energy bars are quick, but they’re dry and not exactly a meal. Jerky tastes good every once in a while. Yogurt, fruit and fruit cups are great, but they’re not meals either. Lipton packs or other quick pasta packs are a hearty meal and taste good, but they require finding an appropriate place to set up a stove and a fair bit of time. Backpacker’s pantry and other add-water type meals are alright, but they’re outrageously expensive, and they still require that you get out a stove to boil water. At least you don’t need to wash dishes afterwards. And fast food, while convenient and occasionally yummy, is unhealthy, expensive, and requires you to be in a decent sized town when you’re hungry.

Sandwiches, however, are perfect. Every small town has a grocery store where you can pick up bread, cheese, mayo or miracle whip, and veggies (I like tomatoes and cucumbers). Generally, you can pick up enough for quite a few meals for not much money.

You can make sandwiches with very little preparation. A knife (and maybe a plate) is all that’s required. They only take a couple minutes to assemble, and they’re much healthier than fast-food. Clean-up afterward only requires wiping off the knife.

One little caveat. Sandwiches are great for road trips where you have a cooler — in summer it keeps everything cool, and in winter it keeps things from freezing. For backpacking, I’d worry about the mayo or miracle whip going bad. If anyone has suggestions for how to avoid this, that would be amazing. I’d leave out the spread, but then the sandwiches would be quite dry, and I can’t stand that. But when I’m backpacking I usually don’t mind taking longer to make a meal, and the Lipton packs are great for that.