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

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

Solar Activities at Night

A couple nights ago we got a spectacular display of northern lights here. Elk Island National Park is a dark sky preserve near Edmonton, and it was a great place to view them. Although a lot of people had a similar idea.

Also, if you missed the update on my last post, you can sign up for a Wildlife Photography Course I’m teaching at the Edmonton Valley Zoo here: City of Edmonton > Activities > Courses

12mm, f2.8, 20 seconds

This Post is Not Good Enough

This feeling is predictable and it has very little to do with photography. It goes on: “I’ve already taken all my best shots. I might as well quit now. What’s the point of going out trying to get more photos? My photos aren’t that good anyway. And even if I do take good photos, why? Does anyone care? I’m not saving any lives, or improving anyone’s living conditions.”

In the morning light, my brain isn’t as critical as in the dead of night. I start developing some photos I missed from a trip last year, and I actually start to like them. I realize maybe I’m not horrible. But even on good days, the negatives linger in the back of my mind, waiting for their chance to work their way into my thoughts.

I think this is something a lot of people struggle with – regardless of their profession or hobby. Ignoring the negative thoughts sometimes works for a bit, just so I can be productive, but the problem is that they have an edge of truth. So then I have to take a step back, try to be objective, and decide whether I’m on the right track. Find the things that are good and true and believable.

I think adding to the beauty of the world is important, and I have the ability to do that. I might even be able to pique interest in the world around us. I think a sense of wonder and curiosity can make life immeasurably better. And even though this isn’t necessarily saving any lives, I think it adds to the net good of the world. And I’m satisfied with that.

A cedar forest in Pacific Rim National Park.
12mm, f4, 1/40 of a second

Enjoying Winter Again

Last weekend Anna and I finally got a chance to get out to the mountains, and it was a trip for trying new things. For the first time ever we tried snowshoeing together, cross-country skiing together, and winter camping. I was also giving my Olympus OM-D a torture test to see how much it could replace my Canon 5D kit for hiking.

Snowshoeing works great and is my new favorite way of getting around in winter. It lets me get wherever I want in any conditions with my hands free for photography, which is perfect for me. Skiing was a lot more fun as an activity, but I found it quite hard to mix with photography. Winter camping actually worked a lot better than expected and we slept cosily through the whole night!

I’ll post a review of my little OM-D in a bit, for now I’ll just start posting pictures from it. This photo is from Panther Falls — icicles forming against an overcast sky. I’m looking forward to printing this pretty large — the details in the ice are fantastic!

f7.1, 1/1600 of a second, 100mm
(I’ll be stating actual focal length here, not equivalent – more on this in my OM-D review)

Precursors

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)

Aspen on a Clear Night

This was a 20 second exposure on a clear, still, moonless night in Dillberry Lake Provincial Park. This took some accurate esimating of the distance from me to the tree and a focus distance indicator on my lens. I’m not sure if some modern SLRs could autofocus in this kind of darkness, but mine certainly can’t.

I’m starting to enjoy night photography more all the time. It forces me to slow down — once it’s dark there’s really no rushing necessary. Sunsets and sunrises can be a little more stressful as they’re very time-limited. Finding the balance between enjoying the outdoors and becoming a professional photographer can sometimes be hard. There’s always pressure to get a better shot, a different composition. But coming up with something new is also extremely rewarding.

Aurora Borealis

Last night at 2:14am, this was the view from a field in Blackfoot Recreation Area. It was absolutely incredible to watch the northern lights swirl across the sky – mostly green but tinged with red.

I’ve rarely seen them brighter than this. The only time I remember was when I was 7 years old, at the house in the country where I grew up. I remember my whole family standing out in the back yard, staring straight up as northern lights of all different colors cut through the black sky above us. And I remember hearing a whooshing sound as they moved.