Sleeping by the Tracks

Sometimes on roadtrips it can be hard to find a quiet place to sleep. My trip to BC was quite the opposite — there seem to be old abandoned logging roads branching off every few kilometers. This was my home for one night on the way back from BC. The train went by once in the night and woke me up, but I love the sound of trains, and it lulled me back to sleep with dreams of far off destinations.

On a related note, I’m sad to be parting with my old Ford Escort wagon, which has been my home on many a road trip. The transmission went, and it’s an old car, and not worth repairing. I’m now on the hunt for another cheap, old, reliable vehicle that can haul my photos and display to shows, and that can sleep two.

Proximity to the Past

On the way back from Manitoba, Anna and I stopped by the place she lived for a couple years when she was really young. It was strange, for me there were no memories, but I could watch them flooding back over her. She showed me around, not totally sure of places — some things had changed and some just seemed on a totally different scale than when she was five years old. The apartment where her family had lived was unlocked and uninhabited, so we looked around for a bit. Almost everything has changed so much from back then, but there are places where the past is much closer than normal.

Trip Turbulence

Thunderstorm in southern Saskatchewan. This is one reason I love the prairies.

Anna and I just got back from Manitoba where we were visiting family. Family trips are not exactly conducive to photography, especially when they are rushed, but I managed to take a few photos. I’m almost looking forward to winter, when everything can slow down a bit, and I get a chance to go through my photos.

Conquering BC’s Freezing Lakes

My trip to BC was a glorious success — I survived, the car mostly survived, and I had a blast. It started out with a four day road trip, riddled with stops and hikes at random places. Then I got to go camping for a couple days with a good friend, and I ended it off with a couple days driving to get back. I mostly slept in the car, which was pretty comfortable until my sleeping mat decided to deflate.

I have a bunch photos to post over the next couple weeks, but I thought this was an appropriate start.

My friend Will swimming in a cold lake in the mountains in BC.

Normally I don’t take photos of people. I make two exceptions: when I take photos at weddings (only as a second photographer, talk to Curtis if you want a wedding photographer), and this.

Kananaskis Landscape – Elpoca Mountain

The area around Elpoca Mountain looks fascinating to me, and I never got a chance to explore it. It was a forbidden land — closed because of grizzly sightings. But the vertical slabs of rock jutting from the warm grassy slopes was a magical contrast that caught my attention, and something I have not seen often in the rocky mountains.

Photos at Elm Cafe (and other news)

If you go to the Elm Cafe (on 117 Street just north of Jasper Ave) in the next couple weeks, you’ll be able to enjoy a few of my photos! And you’ll get to enjoy their awesome coffee!

And, as always, you can see my art at The Daffodil Gallery (on 124 Street at 104 Ave).

After a great camping trip in the mountains, I’m back with lots of photos to share. Turns out that with the heavy snowfall this year, we were a couple weeks too early to do a bunch of the hikes we wanted to, but it was a great trip anyway. Apparently I’m starting to become a bit of a birder, but I’m not quite sure how that mixes with my photography yet. I really enjoy being aware of what’s going on around me and knowing what all the sounds are — it makes me feel just a little more connected and less like an outsider when I’m “alone” in the woods. Maybe one of these days, if people are interested, I’ll post some of my bird photos that I took mostly for identification (being a photographer and not a real birder, I have a fairly long lens, but no binoculars). But for now I’ll be posting photos I’m happy with for their aesthetic qualities.

Taken near Sofa Mountain, in Waterton National Park.

Abraham Lake: Lazy Day

After being blown around on Abraham Lake, I was looking forward to getting out of the wind. I was also interested in seeing Mistaya Canyon and Panther Falls in the winter, and both are fairly close. I had a cold but filling breakfast in the car and drove to Mistaya Canyon. I was really looking forward to it, but as I drove up the snowbank blocked my view out of the passenger window. This 4 foot deep snow dampened my enthusiasm a bit, and I was really enjoying the music, so I decided to go see if Panther Falls looked more accessible.

This may have been a mistake. Panther Falls did look much more accessible, but as I walked down the hill I started to have my doubts. I sunk down to my waist at the bottom of the hill, but I was determined. I decided to press on. It was an arduous process, but I made my way to the middle of the falls with no trail to follow. In summer, this would be a 5 minute walk, but I think it took me 45 minutes. I realized once I got there that the bottom would have been more interesting, but I was already pretty tired. So I relaxed on the ice by the falls, had a couple of energy bars, and then started the trek back up to the top.

Don’t try this without crampons. I was nervous enough even with them on.

Once I finally got to the top, I was tired of deep snow. And I was still tired of being blown over. So I drove leisurely back to Abraham Lake, enjoying the mule deer, whitetail deer, and elk. The burnt area from my previous post is also in this stretch. This time, instead of going to the center of the lake, I stopped right at the west end at Preacher’s Point. This turned out to be a great decision. Lots of interesting ice here and beautiful weather. I spent the afternoon puttering about on the ice, thoroughly enjoying myself and taking lots of photos.

Late in the afternoon I returned to the car, had some scrumptious chili, and emptied my memory card to my laptop. After another few small stops here and there along the lake, I headed home through winter rain.

Tripods on Ice

Tripods are extremely important for landscape photographers, and I have a couple good tripods that I’ve collected over the years – not my dream tripod yet, but close. I’ve heard of people at the camera store asking for spikes in the feet of their tripods, and always thought it might be a little perk but didn’t really matter. After all, in years of taking photos all over the place, I’ve never really missed having spikes on the feet of my tripods – rubber feet have always worked great.

Well, this week it all changed. Out on the icy surface of Abraham Lake, with the wind blowing constantly and extremely hard, my tripod was useless. In fact, it made everything less steady – it provided more surface area for the wind to catch. The rubber feet had no grip at all on the ice. If I let go of my tripod on the ice, it would start to move away from me as the wind pushed it across the ice. Luckily it never fell over. The best I could do was to hang on to it, put a bunch of my weight on it, and hope no super large gusts came up during the exposure (the gusts were blowing me around a bit too, despite my crampons).

So I now understand the desire for spiked tripod feet, although I’m still not sure how much they would have helped in this case. I think my conclusion is just that it is extremely hard to take long exposures on ice in extremely windy conditions.

I’m not finished going through my photos from Abraham Lake yet, but here’s a preview. This is from Wednesday morning.

In the Caverns of the Deep

After a long and occasionally scary drive to Banff (after 10 I stopped counting cars in the ditch on highway 2), we’re here safely, I’ve now finished my design work for the day, and I’m finally ready to go out hiking! Hello -20 weather!

Here’s one from last summer.

Jungle Swamps and Weathersealed Cameras

My first digital SLR was an Olympus E1. That was a beautiful camera. Fairly small and light, incredibly durable. It was old already when I got it, but the completely weathersealed system and amazing lenses lured me in. And it let me get shots like this. I couldn’t do this with my 5D. This is from a 10 hour hike through rain, drizzle, and clouds in the cloud forests of Dominica. There was an inch of water in the bottom of my camera bag. Everything was completely soaked. But I could trust this camera to just keep going.