Category Archives: Canada

USA Canada Diaries: Can do at Canmore

Friday continued: 

Along the way, the road conditions were fantastically smooth and not at all tricky like they were on the way north . Our travel time was therefore far shorter which allowed us a few stops at Lake Louise (to return the cards from Pyramid lodge which we accidentally hung on to) and then at Morant’s Curve before arriving in Canmore at 4pm with the girls having slept in the car. They were again very good during the travel time during the day and are fast becoming seasoned travelers in all modes of transport.

A freight train zooms past at Morant's Curve (well, crawled past, but the long exposure makes it seem otherwise!)

A freight train zooms past at Morant’s Curve (well, crawled past, but the long exposure makes it seem otherwise!)

That evening, Marianne went out to Policeman’s creek where despite some nice cloud, no light occurred  . The evening light gig certainly seems like mission impossible around here with the Rockies to the west. She met Stacy , the guy behind ‘sentinel photography’ and we’ve made another contact through this shoot.

Moonrise (separate moon shot) taken at Policeman's Creek

Moonrise (separate moon shot) taken at Policeman’s Creek

Dinner was late at the ‘famous Chinese restaurant’ . Canmore is quite easy to navigate with north south avenues and east west streets. Or maybe the other way round. It was reasonable Chinese food which we always crave while we’re travelling. After a good fill, it was home for the last night of late dawns with the change back to non daylight saving time to happen in 24 hours.

Saturday November 5

Dawn at Policeman’s creek. Curiosity got the better of me as I got to the location in the still of night and wandered around looking for alternative spots but the spot people shoot from does indeed seem to be the best. That morning, I met a woman from Red Deer house sitting in Canmore, a mountaineering guy from Canmore and Stacy was again there so we all exchanged pleasantries while witnessing an absolutely amazing dawn unfold! Two in a row! What were the chances of that given our trip?? It was good to be back home not too late either given that this location was literally  1km from our accommodation.

Panorama of the Three Sisters, Grassi Mountain and Hai Ling Peak.

Panorama of the Three Sisters, Grassi Mountain and Hai Ling Peak.

Lodges of Canmore is very well set up and the 3BR apartment we have is the best we’ve had all trip. The price is a little higher than we would like but far better than what we have paid for similar setups elsewhere.  That morning, we did as much exploring of the town streets as the girls could tolerate. They absolutely loved Café Books which is a great store on the main street (8th ave).

It was a pretty chill and relaxing day  as we finished off with another attempted sunset shoot at Spray Lakes. The wind was  blowing a gale and predictably, nice late afternoon light faded into nothing. A home dinner and bed time before readjusting clocks to the new time.

Sunday November 6

I had a couple of choices this morning – I could have hiked up to Grassi Knob and photographed the 3 sisters again, or I could explore Kananaskis county. I figured that the workout part of me wanted to go up the  mountain, but I made up for that later in the afternoon by doing a 6.5 k run on a treadmill. Instead with rain and wind forecast, I headed down to Wedge Pond.

In the dark, it was clear that this would not be a great spot. The water was all rippled up from the wind and without any foreground matter of interest, it wasn’t that great a spot. I went briefly searching for the reflecting pools of Mount Kidd but didn’t look too hard after Dani told me that they had been washed away by floods. Instead, I just took a walk down the Galatea Lakes trail and made a random turn off the footbridge as I thought a bend in the river might give me great views of Mount Kidd. Fortunately, that hunch was proven correct even if compositions were limited. Light didn’t really happen at dawn but there was passing light over the mountain well after dawn. The sony seemed to perform very well in these green foresty conditions.

Standing before Mount Kidd

Standing before Mount Kidd

Later that morning , Marianne took a walk down the main street again while I entertained the kids at the train playground in the lovely set Three sisters village south of Canmore. As usual, it was time for Jaime’s sleep and I decided to have one as well. The lack of a sleep in was really starting to catch up on me.

Our last evening was spend attempting for sunset light again at Spray Lakes with some success as at least it fizzled out only after starting to go pink. We killed some time filling up petrol and using a car wash before heading to dinner again at the famous Chinese restaurant. Early sunsets were now at an Adelaide sunset time! That evening, we had a bit of resorting to do for the drive back out to Calgary . I offered Marianne one last chance to go out shooting at dawn to at least experience the light out in the field but she chose not to again.

Spray Lakes at Sunset and Moonrise

Spray Lakes at Sunset and Moonrise

Monday November 7

What a boom dawn! Even from 1 hour out you could start to see something happening and that’s the beauty of being out early. It allows for some degree of indecision before settling somewhere. I chose Two Jack Lake since the other easy access locations had already yielded some results such as Vermillion lakes and back at Policeman’s creek at Canmore. The problem with Two Jack is the distant mountain range and the relative lack of any foreground matter of interest particularly when there are no reflections to work with. For that  reason, I think I was the only one out there until some late comers from Calgary arrived on the scene way after the peak light had finished.

Wondrous light at Two Jack Lake

Wondrous light at Two Jack Lake

After a quick packup routine (probably our record!) we headed out from Canmore since none of the shops were open until 11am. We ended up driving to Signal Hill in Calgary where there was an enormous Indigo bookstore. You could literally get anything book related there and we spent a good hour there exploring before having lunch at a random hillside. The girls were getting good at adapting play to whatever was around.

Thereafter, it was a final night in the downtown Best Western followed by an uneventful flight out from Calgary. There was an amusing moment going through US customs where Jaime had an adorably avoidant photo taken at the customs checkpoint but we weren’t allowed to keep it ! This was basically the end of our trip photographically and the rest of the time would be spent in California mostly attending a medical conference.

USA Canada Diaries: Jasper and the clearing light

Tuesday November 1

Our packup routine had mostly been done the night before , so we headed off the Jasper shortly before 11am and spent a last few moments appreciating the magic of a winter seen from a southern hemisphere visitor’s viewpoint.

The drive to Jasper was memorable for a few reasons. The scenery in white was simply gorgeous but this also led to our downfall as we looked to pull over in the snow and nearly slid of an embankment! Fortunately, before we slid too far, we had assistance from a passer by who helped us push the car back up and out of danger. Marianne was overcome by this near need to call a tow truck in the middle of nowhere (near Bow summit) but thankfully it was all resolved very quickly. We found that in the winter season , amenities are scarce on the icefields parkway and so another drama occurred when we could not find a toilet for some time ! Luckily that sorted itself as we backtracked from the Columbia icefield centre to Winslow.

Arriving at Jasper, we settled in just after 4 and ended up photographing Pyramid mountain right outside our accommodation. Our dinner at Pizza hut /KFC hybrid was somewhat forgettable and for some reason I find myself liking the junk food back home more! Oh there was again no light booo!!!

That night, our accommodation at Pyramid Lake was a bit squishy so we had to sleep on the sofa bed while Charlotte had a beautiful loft to herself and Jaime slept in the dedicated bedroom

Wednesday November 2

A long drive for me on this morning. I headed down to Tangle mountain which was over an hour away. The drive wouldn’t feel so long if I weren’t arriving back so late due to the late sunrise times here (nearly 9am). By the time I returned home, it can be close to 11am and the kids were no longer sleeping in much past 8-830.

The road south along the icefields parkway was pretty whited out on that morning. For some sections I felt like I was making my own path but this did mean that I would have semi winter conditions for the shots that I had in mind. The compositions were all based winter shots I had seem from the area but I felt like I wanted to actually get a reflection rather than just dark water motion . I arrived there an hour before dawn to be joined by another car pulling over – I didn’t know what was up so I tapped on the occupants window. Turned out she was just snoozing on the way to Banff. Phew , no serial killer to deal with!

Tangle Peak with some breaking light at dawn

Tangle Peak with some breaking light at dawn

To put a long story short, I finally saw some semblance of light! Hooray!! Then it was home with some grocery shopping and a quick trip to Athabasca Falls with the girls. These were a nice falls but the lack of water motion meant that some of the possibilities photographically were not there. I’m not sure what we’ll do with our middle of the day shots except perhaps put them up as Stock? We stopped on the way back to shoot from a bridge overlooking Pyramid mountain but once again, not a lot on offer and the kids busied themselves throwing rocks into the water, a new pasttime for them it would seem. Back to home for bed time for Jaime before another short foray out

That evening, we headed out toward Maligne Lake. There wasn’t a lot of point heading all the way out to Maligne since the ferry to spirit island was closed, I’m no kayaker and the immediate shore did not seem that attractive. Instead, we stopped at Medicine Lake which was a bit of a mud pit given the low water levels. It did give a nice view from up above – translating this into photography was difficult especially given the yet again, grey sunset lighting on offer. Back to bed!

Thursday November 3

Dawn light at Medicine Lake! Hooray! Kind of anyway. The light was actually happening every single direction initially except for at the actual dawn in that’s the way it stayed until well after sunrise. I got thoroughly bogged down there and filthy needing a good cleaning on my return home but to see light for the first time this trip , even if the pink wasn’t in the right direction, was exhilarating .

Light over Medicine Lake , a bit of a mud pit!

Light over Medicine Lake , a bit of a mud pit!

I wasn’t back too late on that morning which gave us time for a walk around the town of Jasper. Sure it was a weekday but it seemed like everyone in town was just a little sleepy, a little oppressed, a little depressed and overall, it just didn’t seem to give off much of a happy holiday vibe at all? Strange, I had always imagined it to be this idyllic place that indeed Banff and Canmore have turned out to be. Perhaps it’s because our trip was timed to be at those places on the weekends? While Marianne attended to retail therapy, I took the girls walking down the main street visiting various  bear statues, trains and other distractions along the way . The weather looked to be closing in again before we went back to our accommodation for Jaime’s nap.

The last sunset at Jasper was another fizzer . We drove all the way to Sunwapta falls for it and got a little rained on with precious little light but it still would do. The forecast was actually for clear skies which was completely incorrect since we did not see a trace of blue sky!

Sunwapta Falls on a gloomy eerie dusk with low flow.

Sunwapta Falls on a gloomy eerie dusk with low flow.

Friday November 4

I awoke in darkness to the view of stars through our window! The plan was to photograph something locally and so I headed out to the small boardwalked area on Pyramid Lake. There, the milky way was in the perfect location over the island so a few selfies were taken. Before long, I could see wisps of cloud gathering over pyramid mountain with a clear sky to the south east . I could sense amazing light and tried to get Marianne up and out of bed but she wanted to sleep in.

A southern milky way over Pyramid Mountain

A southern milky way over Pyramid Mountain

Light over Pyramid Mountain that Marianne missed out on!

Light over Pyramid Mountain that Marianne missed out on!

So out I raced again after having packed up to transfer the gear! It was the first pink display of light we had seen all trip and pretty nice to finally experience it in a location like this . The pack up routine was quicker than usual and we were ready for departure shortly after 10am. Headed for Canmore.

2016 Annual Review

It’s that time of year again, where we get the feast on the best photographs of 2016 from all of our favourite photographers! I love going through people’s top 10 (or top 16) lists and love it even more when I see an image that I’ve somehow ‘missed’ from their feed during the year. I thought briefly about how I could shake things up, but figured that I would be making a change just for change’s sake. That has been our modus operandi this year ; that is, to consider why we are wanting to change the way we do things. If the change has a genuine basis to iron out a flaw or to encourage growth, than we’ve gone for it. If the change is merely because it’s what other people are doing and adding peer pressure to our creative processes, then we’ve tried to ignore it. If you’re here just to see photographs, then I thought I’d open up by sharing a video of our edited images to the beat of Grouplove’s ‘Itchin on a photograph’. If you want to see images in more detail, scroll below the video and hopefully, enjoy 😉

January:

The undoubted highlight of this month was a one week trip to Tasmania with Luke Tscharke, Francois Fourie and Tim Wrate. We were supposed to walk the Western Arthurs but access was severed by devastating bushfires from which many parts of the country will never recover. Instead, we did a shorter hike to the Labyrinth and visited some local icons closer to Hobart. Locally, storm season gave some great conditions around Adelaide though the storms around here aren’t quite as speccy as in other parts of the country.

Mount Gould from The Labyrinth

Mount Gould from The Labyrinth

Tessellated Pavement as dawn cleared

Tessellated Pavement as dawn cleared

Secret Falls (well, not so secret anymore!)

Secret Falls (well, not so secret anymore!)

Marion Bay (where we went airborne and suffered a flat tire)

Marion Bay (where we went airborne and suffered a flat tire)

Western Arthurs from the air : Unfinished business!

Western Arthurs from the air : Unfinished business!

February:

This was a quiet month photographically as tends to be the case after a photography trip. I tend not to go shooting while going through the backlog of images from a previous trip. This was the trip video

March:

Around Adelaide, it definitely is a Mad March with the festivals in full swing. To suit the March madness, there were crazy skies one after the other! I managed to catch a couple of the lightshows along the coast but mostly, it was a case of being #dbreezied and just basking in that red glow.

One of many intense March evenings at Port Noarlunga

One of many intense March evenings at Port Noarlunga

And another ! (I shot this with Joel Dawson)

And another ! (I shot this with Joel Dawson)

April:

The highlight of April was a long weekend to Kangaroo Island. The weather was pretty wild at times which suited photography quite well. The changeable conditions meant that there was a moment of light around the corner. We based ourselves at Vivonne Bay and photographed the south coast areas. I also had a successful shoot at Lake Bonney during one of those precious weekends where the kids are sleeping over at grandparent’s ! The image of Lake Bonney has since been used by Nisi quite extensively as has a 15 stop image taken at Kingscote during our Kangaroo Island weekend. Autumn colours were quite good this year though a little later than usual.

Lake Bonney at dawn : One of my contributions to Nisi :)

Lake Bonney at dawn : One of my contributions to Nisi 🙂

Autumn Colors at Mount Loft Botanic Gardens

Autumn Colors at Mount Loft Botanic Gardens

The end of an amazing dawn at old Kingscote Pier

The end of an amazing dawn at old Kingscote Pier

Variable weather made for great conditions at the exposed Remarkable Rocks

Variable weather made for great conditions at the exposed Remarkable Rocks

Little Sahara on a blazing dawn

Little Sahara on a blazing dawn

The iconic Admiral's Arch

The iconic Admiral’s Arch

May:

Marianne had her first market where we tried to combine photographic prints of local icons with her pastel and watercolour art. There were literally no photographic sales while many greeting cards and assorted prints were sold. We definitely learned that these markets were not really an appropriate selling point for fine art landscapes and since then, Marianne has done two other markets successfully with just her artworks. I didn’t venture out locally too often save for one trip to Second Valley where I wanted to shoot from a different vantage point.

Looking for fresh vantage points of Second Valley

Looking for fresh vantage points of Second Valley

June:

The highlight of June was a 4 day trip to the Gold Coast, our first foray photographically. In that short trip, there were numerous experiences that we’ll remember. Dreamworld was the highlight for the children though our memories would be marred by a future tragedy which occurred there several months later on one of the rides we went on! It was a great opportunity shoot cityscapes, to visit epic coastlines, and last but not least, the beautiful forest scenes. The highlight for me was a half walk, half jog in Lamington National Park for a half day to visit its waterfalls. We’ll be back again some day no doubt!

Roaring seas at Fingal Head

Roaring seas at Fingal Head

First stop on my Lamington mission : Moran's Falls

First stop on my Lamington mission : Moran’s Falls

Last stop : Box Log Falls

Last stop : Box Log Falls

Cityscapes are lacking in our portfolio - I added a couple finally!

Cityscapes are lacking in our portfolio – I added a couple finally!

A quick visit to Springbrook National Park and the famous Natural Bridge glow worm cave

A quick visit to Springbrook National Park and the famous Natural Bridge glow worm cave

The gold coast from Currumbin - and a farewell!

The gold coast from Currumbin – and a farewell!

July:

Around this time of year, the rain starts to fall and the seasonal waterfalls come to life. One of my favourites is  Mannum Falls . You never know what you get with these falls as the appearances varies wildly from trickles to torrents! This year, with the heavier rains in late winter, the images I shot paled into insignificance in terms of flow when spring rains flooded the area. David Evans , David Post and I also partook in a cleanup day for photography hotspots visualised by Christian Fletcher. Port Willunga thankfully was already very clean before we took out the 1% mess down there.

Mannum Falls on my yearly visit - 2016 was a good one!

Mannum Falls on my yearly visit – 2016 was a good one!

Port Willunga : a very clean beach!

Port Willunga : a very clean beach!

August:

Without a photographic trip planned until late October I had a chance to release several instructional videos. I believe in giving back to the photographic community as all of my learning has been from free on line sources. As such, I created a series of free 2-3 minute tutorials (to capture the attention span of today’s social media viewing audience) that can be found on my youtube channel. To go with that, we also released a short video detailing how we achieve the ‘look’ of our images which tends to be a bright and vibrant feel rather than dark and moody. I did also enjoy a great morning down at Myponga beach . I also entered a few images into the Epson Panorama competition in the hope of breaking into the top 50 .

Myponga beach

Myponga beach

September:

Much of the weather this month was stormy and with steady rain. Adelaide had experienced double its usual rainfall by this stage which isn’t really saying much considering that it’s the driest capital city. Nonetheless, it did keep us indoors and planning for our upcoming talk at APSCON in October. We do like to be super prepared so we modified our workshop that we gave to the FOCUS group in 2015 to fit it into a 1 hour interactive session (delivered by me) and a 1 hour didactic session given by Marianne. Over the years, we’ve learned that the best presentations answer the ‘WIIFM’  (What’s in it for me) within the first few slides. I’ve found myself getting restless with presentations that don’t address the WIIFM at all and just meander along with no clear message.

Storms brought life to a local seaside waterfall trickling into the sea

Storms brought life to a local seaside waterfall trickling into the sea

October:

Pano award results were in! A couple of silvers and a bag of bronze for all entered images was again a what I considered a good effort given the quality of the entries but I did not break the top 50. Oh well, we’ll try again next year. After all the angst of preparation for APSCON, we did end up having a good time presenting to a very engaged audience who gave us great feedback. Our relationship with Nisi was a win-win (again) as two lucky attendees won themselves a V5 holder. Completion of our commitments was a huge pressure valve release for us and we could go to Canada with free minds! All was set to go , except for the expired passports which sat quietly, waiting until the last minute to assassinate our joy on departure day ……… Let’s keep things positive, we were only delayed 48 hours and still managed to have a great holiday with many wonderful experiences. In fact, there’s very little negative to say about the trip at all apart from our departure troubles.

Best scoring image with a Silver in the Epson Panorama awards :taken in 2015

Best scoring image with a Silver in the Epson Panorama awards :taken in 2015

Another silver award in the panorama competition

Another silver award in the panorama competition

November:

This month was clearly dominated by our trip to Canada and briefly to the USA. I’ve already been blogging each segment, so I’ve included some representative images. If you’ve been to New Zealand before, think Mt Cook National Park but all around you, all of the time. If you haven’t been to New Zealand or Canada, do yourself a favour one day and just take a drive through the pristine country . I’ll have to reflect back with time as to which I prefer , but this being the first trip to the Rockies has left me with the bigger impression for now. Here are some images which I took that have become favourites for now:

Muleshoe Lake off the Bow Valley Parkway

Muleshoe Lake off the Bow Valley Parkway

Clearing conditions at Bow Lake

Clearing conditions at Bow Lake

Whiteout snow at Lake Louise

Whiteout snow at Lake Louise

The light returns to our journey at Medicine Lake

The light returns to our journey at Medicine Lake

Glorious light at Pyramid Lake

Glorious light at Pyramid Lake

Post glorious light at Canmore

Post glorious light at Canmore

Kananaskis Country and Mount Kidd

Kananaskis Country and Mount Kidd

A fitting farewell to the Rockies on our last morning of shooting

A fitting farewell to the Rockies on our last morning of shooting

December:

There’s really nothing to add photographically this month . I have just been editing images from the last trip and keeping up with work and family commitments. I’ve tried my best to ignore the naysayers saying how awful 2016 was. Sure, a lot of crap went down this year, but surely a lot of good as well. The best thing about the ‘good’ is that you don’t have to look far to find it. There are good deeds, smiles, and joy around you all of the time and all it takes is for you to stop and notice it over and above the crazy events of the world. To round out the year, Marianne and I would like to say a big thank you to all of you who have been following us on social media this year and in the more distant past.  We hope that in the future, we continue to provide some source of inspiration in particular to photographers who travel with family. And, for the first time, I’d like to say a big thanks to our sponsors, Nisi – without you guys, the Canada trip would not have been possible .  (Wow, that was cool to use that ‘our sponsors’ line lol!). Also a big thanks to the many social media hubs and sites such as F-stoppers who have featured us during the year, Australian Photography Magazine for our ongoing article publications and Pikitia Postcards for being our best clients 🙂  Find the happiness in 2016 and may it stay with you and grow for 2017.