People

Covering Shwe Dagon in gold

Gilding Shwe Dagon - © Christopher Martin-2895

The Shwedagon Zedi Daw is a nexus point for Myanmar’s Buddhists.  It’s history goes back more than 2600 years and it is an amazing place of humanity, faith and spirituality.  The main stupa is sheathed in gold foil as are many of the parapets and other buildings on the grounds.  I went there twice when I visited Myanmar in 2010 and think I could return many more times and always find new things catching my eye.  On my second visit, I watched these workers gilding a new, or maybe restored, tower.  It was a hot day and while one gentleman found a ball cap to be sufficient protection, the other preferred a more encompassing head cover.  This was detailed work and they were attentive to the task at hand.  I had to wait a little while until one of them looked up from the tower and glanced out over the crowds walking around Shew Dagon.


De-icing at YYC

De-icing at YYC - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5D Mark III + 500mm f/4 lens: 1/6400 seconds at f/4 on ISO 320

A member of the ground crew at the Calgary International Airport does the critical work of de-icing the airplane during a cold sunrise well below freezing in Alberta, Canada.


My updated gallery of people photography

Following on from the abstract portfolio that I updated a couple of weeks ago, the second portfolio whose refresh is complete, is for my people photography.

Marble carver in Mandalay - 2010 © Christopher Martin

The set includes a cross-section of images from a visit to Myanmar, my coverage of the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s annual Pow Wow and a couple of my children.

If you are interested in looking at these photographs, please click either image, or this link, to open a separate page with the portfolio.

Kezia's recital concentration - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Canada Day at Redwood Meadows

Canada Day Fireworks at Redwood Meadows - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The Canada Day fireworks at Redwood Meadows were great.  This was the first year our children were able to stay awake late enough to see them.  Their big smiles and excited commentary continued throughout the performance.  The fireworks marked the end of the Canada Day celebrations – let me back up and share a little bit of the fun we all had throughout the day.

Ready to ride - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We all joined in bike parade led by the firefighter trucks and rescue vehicles that always starts Canada Day in Redwood.  Kian and Kezia both had a lot of fun making the loop of the town with all of their friends.  It was good that the parade started at 10 am – it was warm then and by noon it was hot and sunny.

Rolling in the bike parade - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Redwood Meadows Bike Parade - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Parading through town - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Following the parade, the stage in the middle of the sports field was the centre of attention for the opening ceremony which led into live performances that continued for the afternoon.  Dancers from the Tsuu T’ina Nation opened the performances on the stage.  It is always an honour to watch them and with Hal Eagletail narrating everyone was made welcome and enjoyed their dancing.

Hal Eagletail and Tsuu T'ina dancers - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Hal narrated, joked, drummed and sang – he set a great tone for the rest of the live music, magicians (both were great although Kian gave his vote to the gentleman who used swords!) and speakers.

Tsuu T'ina Dancer - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Around the stage, the community association had set up a bunch of activities for the kids including face painting, street drawing, games and bouncy castles.  For adults, including weary or wilted parents, a beer garden was open.

A rainbow in the making - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Kezia decided on a rainbow connecting a heart with a happy face.

A Canadian boy - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Kian transformed from a Canadian boy to a Canadian ninja.

A Canadian ninja - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Street art - 2013 © Christopher Martin

There were two themed cakes as well as cupcakes.  Kezia was quite happy to show her support…

Rainbow Kezia and her cupcake - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The heat built up by mid-afternoon and even the kids looked to be feeling a little worn down.  That all changed when the firefighters spread out a large sheet of plastic and hooked up one of their hoses to the fire truck.  The water was turned on, the kids lined up and then chaos was unleashed (very fun chaos).

Sliding along - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Ninja in the water park - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Bart Frasca is a firefighter and resident in Redwood Meadows.  He was one of the key people involved in saving the town during this year’s flood.  He didn’t need the help running the hose but he let Kezia provide her assistance for a minute or two nonetheless.

Kezia with the assist - 2013 © Christopher Martin

With paint now dripping off their faces and weariness starting to settle into their bones, we took our children home to relax and wait for the fireworks.  When we returned to the field just before 11, the sky still had traces of the day on the western horizon.  We settled onto a blanket and covered up from the mosquitos.  The wait wasn’t long and soon explosions of color spread out above.  It was a great ending to a great day.  Thank you to all of the people who set up, performed, painted, sprayed, played and made it so much fun for all.

Canada Day fireworks - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Happy 146th birthday Canada!

Happy birthday Canada - 2013 © Christopher Martin


The only rain I want to see for a while…

Washing windows - © Christopher Martin-8243

… is from water dripping down while window washers ply their trade high above.

Calgary and surrounding areas are getting back on their feet.  I hope we are all able to enjoy some summer times and put the flooding firmly in our rearview mirrors.


Kian at the Springbank Dancer Recital

Kian's ground moves - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Kian was in the Boys Hip Hop class at Springbank Dancers this year.  During the end of season recital, the boys performed and entertained the audience with their moves and poses as they strutted across the stage.  Below, they started their performance in these “tough” silhouetted positions.

Starting positions - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Teaching a troop of 6 to 8 year-old boys dance requires bundles of energy to match them and an equal measure of patience.  Miss Shana had more than enough of both. She created a place where the boys were supported, encouraged and had a lot of fun.  A great teacher for a bunch of wild guys.

2013 © Christopher Martin

Kian had a great time throughout the year.  It was a lot of fun to watch this performance and see all of their new dance moves and the confidence and fun they were all having on stage.

Strutting around - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Kian’s looking forward to next year’s dance classes.  He will be practicing his helicopter spins, freezes, windmills and top rocks over the summer and we should be treated to a few impromptu concerts before the next session starts.

2013 © Christopher Martin

At the end of the recital all of the dancers assembled on stage.  The boys sat off to the side and waited fairly patiently while the teachers finished a couple of speeches and thank yous.  That gave me one more chance to photograph these young men hanging out.

Who's watching who - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Kezia at the Springbank Dancers Recital

Into the air - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The weekend before the flood, both of my kids had their dance recital performances.  Kian is in the boys hip hop class and Kezia is in a creative class at Springbank Dancers.

Enter stage right - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Miss Devon and her staff are wonderful with all of their dancers.  Both of my kids love their teachers and had a great year dancing.

Kezia's eye to the crowd - 2013 © Christopher Martin

First up was Kezia.  She is only four but she casts a pretty long shadow under the spotlight.  Not that she’s tall, she just has a big presence when she’s performing.  It was plain to see that she was having a great time on stage.

Kezia's recital - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We were all so happy for her to have had such fun and to be able to share this moment.

Flowers after the recital - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Kian’s snowball fight – birthday party mashup

Ready, set, blow - © Christopher Martin-9958

(as always, please click on any image to open a webpage with a higher resolution version) 

The party for my son’s sixth birthday was scheduled for last Sunday but a heavy blizzard blew in the night before and travel on the roads was treacherous.  We postponed the party to save family from driving in the storm which left Kian quite sad for a little bit.  Fortunately his friends who live nearby bundled up, came over and we all headed outside for some tobogganing on the little hill behind our house.  Not much sledding happened as the gang decided a snowball fight was a better use of their energy and time.

The snow fighters - © Christopher Martin-0076

With smile restored and spirits high, Kian had a great time playing and the rest of us followed his lead.  Kezia helped me to return fire after the attack above but then turned her sights my way a few minutes later.

A daughter's attack - © Christopher Martin-0014

Her brother liked Kezia’s idea and joined in the attack too – Traitors!  I was worried about a full mutiny but their attentions soon turned to other targets.

Snow fight - © Christopher Martin-0046

With a small crisis (though rather big to a young boy) averted, we ended up having a great day and Bobbi even arranged to have some cupcakes to finish off the birthday celebrations.  Which Kian enjoyed blowing out a solitary candle on (three times as I had a couple of different images that I wanted to make in mind).


A princess’s birthday

Princess run - 2013 © Christopher Martin

It was my sweet little girl’s birthday last weekend.  Kezia had the whole day devoted to the celebrations.  She started running and kept going through the whole day. The princess party started the festivities where we hosted four princesses, and one alternately enthusiastic and reluctant prince.

Birthday cupcakes - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Playtime - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Princesses decorating - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Whistle kiss - 2013 © Christopher Martin

In the afternoon, the family arrived and Kezia was happy to carry on well past her normal bed time.

The evening gang - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Happy birthday Kezia – we love you and the light you create everyday.


Spirits on the beach

Spirits on the beach - © Christopher Martin-5071

Ahead of a stormy sunrise, people were moving along the beach, talking with others and taking photographs.  I used a 20 second exposure (with f/16 at ISO 200) with the intent to blur the water and the clouds.  When I saw how the people took on an ethereal quality in varying amounts, dependent on how long they stayed in place during the exposure, I played with that idea for a while.


Kian’s crazy jumps

The kids and I took their cousin up to the park this morning.  The playground there is pretty cool but the most fun we had was when the kids were jumping off some of the bouncy animal rides.  Taking a low angle, I wanted to make these small guys into giants.  Kian loved these photographs and said it would be alright if I shared them.

 

(click on an image for a larger image gallery)


Ranchers in the High Country

(click on any image to open a higher resolution version)

The Bews are a ranching family and the youngest generation is following that well-worn path.  When I was photographing them at the ranch Mady and Katie showed their ease in the saddle and proved to be very good sports while the shutter clicked away.

Katie was learning to trot and she seemed to master it over the course of a few crosses of the overgrown field during the morning.  Mady practiced her roping which made for some great photographic opportunities.

While the girls rode, their grandmother Rosemary, grandfather Tom and his brother Joe alternated between time in front of the camera, tending to their horses and chatting.  Very good people with lot’s of room in their hearts for their family, their animals and their land.  It was a pleasure to spend some time with them.

Joe Bews in the morning leading his horse up with his partner by his side and later running through the dry creek bed.

Tom taking a break from the saddle

The last image I took up at the ranch was of the Bews family as they headed back for the trail back down to their farms.  A warm thank you to them for coming out on a cold morning which became a hot afternoon.  And, thanks to Julian Ferreira and his team at The Camera Store for arranging for a great day in the High Country on the edge of Kananaskis.

In fact, Julian stood in as a cowboy model in the cook shack and played the role exceptionally well.


Joe’s command over a lasso

Joe Bews is a cowboy I was fortunate to photograph last weekend at one of his family’s stations near Longview.  When I asked Joe if he would mind doing a bit of rope work, he kindly obliged and I had the opportunity to try a few different approaches while he roped some imaginary targets lurking in the tall grass.  His skills certainly didn’t need the practice so it was really great of Joe to throw for me and a couple other photographers on a pretty warm afternoon.

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A Kananaskis Cowboy

(As always, please click on any image to view a higher resolution version)

I was at a ranch for a photography workshop put on by The Camera Store on the weekend.  The workshop was with William Albert Allard and it proved to be n educational and very enjoyable weekend.  On Saturday the group went to Kananaskis where access had been granted to shoot on a long-standing ranch back in the High Country.  The venue was full of character and the cowboys, lady and cowgirls that came up to model for us had the same in ample supply.  I will post some more images from the day soon but wanted to start with a concept image that I worked on in post a bit.  During the Sunday critiques, one of the participants had shown a few sepia toned images and that got some ideas rolling around in my head.  I had completed my work keeping most of the portraits in straight colour.  With this photograph of Tom, one of two lifelong ranching brothers that own the ranch and rode up for the day, I wanted to make a desaturated and almost metallic look to this tight portrait.  I used Lightroom’s Develop suite for the post-processing and leaned heavily on dropping saturation and increasing the clarity to realize the look.  For reference, here is one of Tom as he really looked in the warm light bouncing off of the exposed wood beams inside the barn.


Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow Dancer

A dancer in full regalia spins during the Grand Entrance on July 29th at the Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow.

I was under the weather this year and only went over to the Pow Wow one day this year for a few hours.  I still have to work through the images from the Grand Entrance but I can say it was another great event put on by the Tsuu T’ina Nation.  This year seemed quite a bit bigger than last year and I again enjoyed the excitement, fun and enthusiasm on display among the dancers, the organizers and the crowd.  It is a fantastic weekend and I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to spend more time across the road with my neighbours.


Stage silhouettes

I was at my daughter’s dance recital this morning.  She had a lot of fun during her performance and we had even more watching her.  We were able to enjoy a number of enjoyable performances.  The image above, taken just before the stage lights came on, reminded me why I like photographing so many events with a 70-200mm zoom lens.  I saw the dancers getting into position and dialled in the exposure to create silhouettes.  The image below was the first shot where I wanted to catch the moment before the dance started.  Above, with the overall scene photographed, I tried to work into it and find a more compelling composition.  Within the frame as David duChemin and others have discussed eloquently on occasion.


Kian in the shade

We spent most of the weekend outside enjoying the warm weather that continues to coax the greenery to return.  As spring begins to show more color, I am enjoying bringing that back into my photography.  When Kian called down from the upstairs deck there wasn’t much work on my part to create this portrait of my wonderful son.  The open shade presented lovely light and shadow across his face and the background was cool enough that highlights behaved.

 


Happy Birthday My Son

Yesterday was Kian’s 5th birthday.  He helped plan out the party – well he chose the construction theme – his mommy did the organization and then our little tribe put the room at the Redwood Meadows House together.

Kian was so happy to have most of his cousins and his friends there.  He had a great time and, with the laughing and shrieking going on all afternoon, I think all of the other kids did too.  The bouncy castle was a big hit.  Below, Nolan and Kashton take a break in the middle of the castle.

 

 

Austin was the heavy hitter who took down the tractor piñata, the kids descended on the spoils straight away.

And so, to my wonderful boy, I love you.  Thank you for you.  Thank you for who you are, who you are becoming and who you make me be.


Down the alleys with a superhero

Thursday night I was downtown photographing night scenes.  Hunched over my camera, concentrating on some abstract composition my attention was torn away by a blur of motion above me.  Looking up, I saw a flash of red and then… nothing.

I climbed up a fire escape on a lovely old brick building and that’s when I had a good look at the cause of my distraction.  He landed on the flight of stairs above and then leaped over the railing (as seen above).

At this point he was well positioned for an action pose and I managed to take one photo as he was staring at me.  A second later and he was scaling another wall up towards the roof top. Keeping up to him without a jet pack, flying surfboard or some other speedy contraption was unlikely so I just stood and watched as he spun a web and swung out of sight.

I went back down the escape and walked around the corner keeping an eye out for the webbed one.  I turned around intent on heading up the alley and saw him scaling a brick wall.  After clearing the doorway our neighbourhood friend launched upwards into the darkness where I lost him again.

I didn’t see the masked vigilante for a little while and thought he might have gone.  I was heading back to my car when I looked back over my shoulder and caught a sliver of his mask peering around a gate entrance.  I carried on to my car in one of the city’s underground parkades and was still rather surprised when the man spider ran down a line of parked cars and vaulted over my car.  I wish I had captured the whole sequence but I was only able to take one sharp shot.

At that point I was thinking that my chance encounter wasn’t chance.  I know photography was one of this particular superhero’s interests but I can’t say whether he was watching me out of curiosity about just what I was photographing or if he thought I may be a villain up to no good.  I should have asked, not that it was likely he would have responded.  When I pulled out of the garage, I had one last good look at this mysterious fellow.

I wasn’t thinking about it in the moment but, looking at the pictures, I wonder why he wasn’t in full outfit – was he just exercising a little after the day job, the superhero’s equivalent of going out for a stroll?  No idea, these and other questions are still puzzling around in my mind.  The imagination wanders… it was a very interesting evening.


Mele Kalikimaka!

Merry Christmas from our crazy little family.  Thank you for all of the season’s greetings that people have sent our way.  We hope you have a great time with your family and friends over the holidays.  We’re heading down to play in the sand at Perfect Beach (as my children have labelled a small spit of shore near Kapa’a that they love to swim off of) so we will be taking advantage of the warm weather here in Hawaii.

Before we came to Kauai for our family holiday over the Christmas break, I photographed the kids in Redwood Meadows with Santa Claus while he was taking a break from the North Pole.  While I was setting up the lights, Bobbi and I snuck in a family shot on the set.

 

 


First Day of Snow

The first snow of winter fell on Thursday night around our home.  The kids and I went out to play in the fresh snow in the afternoon.

After an hour, Kian was ready to go inside (as you can tell from his look above).  We had a nice fall so I’m ready for winter, particularly the forgiving backgrounds afforded by the white blanket).   A little more snow and we’ll be able to sled.  Don’t worry about Kian he can’t wait to get out there again today.


Halloween on the mean streets of Redwood Meadows

Little pumpkins © 2011 Christopher Martin-5016

Well, not mean at all in actual fact.  My children (the teenage mutant ninja turtle and the ladybug) joined up with two of their best friends (the rooster and the monster) and it was quick work to capture a photograph of the four of them before they headed out on the streets.

Great fun for the four parents to watch these characters having so much fun.  Our little group scoured the neighbourhood for other costumed mischiefs, joining into loose packs and descending on homes in search of loot.  As a community, Redwood Meadows really gets into this event.  There were spectacular haunted homes with graveyards, animated ghouls, roaring voices, fires and event a 12 foot high pumpkin cactus inflatable that was lit up.  Crazy stuff.

There was even one home that scared my son, who playing a teenage mutant ninja turtle, wasn’t afraid of much and usually attacked anything that inspired a bit of fear (to our mayor, John, and his wife Shana I say very well done – I was scared too!)  Here was one of the denizens in the yard of the house who stayed in character the whole night and I was only sure it was a real person when I looked at the images closely afterwards.

Once the scare was out of his system, Kian (aka the ninja turtle) returned to burning fuel in top gear – running, diving to the ground, shortcuts through the trees between houses.  Standard procedure for a little boy and a lot of fun to watch.  Kezia was cold so she pulled mommy back to our friend’s house nearby.  The monster and the chicken were having a great time so, along with the turtle, the three of them kept rolling for another hour.  Impressive given it was close to freezing and we covered a lot of ground.  Stamina, camaraderie and the lure of candy – a powerful mix.

The Redwood Fire Department is very involved in our community and they had vehicles parked in different parts of the community and the firefighters were out giving candy.  They are a great group of men and women and we are lucky to have them.  The kids, maybe not evident in this picture, were completely thrilled to talk with a couple of the firefighters AND get candy from them.

We returned home well after bedtime and after one treat each (daddy included), we all fell asleep quickly.  Wrapping up a wonderful evening in our little town.


Exploring the Rockies: a few summertime adventures in the mountains

Gavriel in action on the rock © 2011 Christopher Martin-1757

I was working on some images of the active lifestyle in the Rockies for a client and thought the summer set would be fun to post.  With fall ready to give way to winter any day it was nice to recall the summer before the snow flies.

In July Jeff and I met a kayak team on the Kananaskis River during one of their training sessions.  We definitely had the easier work scurrying over the rocks photographing compared to waging war against and conspiring with the water.

When I was in the Tonquin Valley with Art Wolfe and Gavriel Jecan, I had a minute to photograph Gav as he was bouldering.  That ended when we noticed a grizzly bear among the rocks a stone’s throw away.

This guy, Chris as coincidence had it, was visiting friends in Jasper and came to Horseshoe Lake for one purpose: to hurl himself off this cliff about seventy feet above the lake.  I remember doing some decent jumps but shooting him descending was a different perspective.  I was impressed with his lack of hesitation and the nonchalance displayed when he swam back to the shore afterwards.  It wasn’t enough to convince me to follow suit though.

I photographed a group of para-gliders, hang-gliders and other fliers from their launch at the top of a ridge above Golden in British Columbia.  Watching them spiraling  upwards on thermals, as this lady was doing in the image above, was amazing.  I came away with a profound appreciation for the grace and the silence of these engine free forms of flight.

We went into the Tonquin Valley in August along a trail that started in forest, came up above the treeline and then slowly descended towards Amethyst Lake.  In the image above, our guide Sarah is leading our group out of the valley.  Seemingly not as adventurous as some of the other images, throw in a trailside bee hive and a six hour trek through rain and sleet, and I think it belongs.


Portraits: Sunday afternoon at Ghost Lake with my children

We spent afternoon driving around the Bow Valley on Sunday.  We ended up playing at a beach on Ghost Lake and the light was beautiful – warm and very soft.  I had to grab my camera and photograph my kids as they played on the water’s edge.

 


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