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.
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.
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.
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.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s 39th Annual Open All Indian Rodeo ran from July 26-28 this year. I went over several times and had a great time on the Redwood Fair Grounds watching the rodeo and the Pow Wow which combine to form the backbone of the Tsuu T’ina’s Annual Indian Days Celebration. The rodeo finals on Sunday got started under dark skies but the rain never fell and the sun drifted in and out of the clouds throughout the afternoon.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/6400th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
It was a perfect afternoon for rodeo and judging by the full grandstand, there were many people who agreed. We were rewarded with a lot of top shelf performances by the cowgirls, cowboys and animals who were competing. Here is a collection of a few of my images from this year’s finals.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/8 on ISO 800
Canon 5DII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + a 1.4X extender at 235mm: 1/1250th of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600
The steer wrestler above is Virgil Jacobs. He came out guns blazing and beat all the other cowboys to win the event this year. My hat is off to you sir!
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/640th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 400
Mutton busting is an event often held during the half-time of rodeos. The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s rodeo finals on Sunday had a very enthusiastic group of cowkids participating in this super fun event. This young girl, flanked by her father and one of the rodeo clowns, had an iron grip on the rope around the sheep’s back. The little steed jerked her off-centre as the gate opened but she hung on for a great ride. A very tough little girl!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Kezia decided on a rainbow connecting a heart with a happy face.
Kian transformed from a Canadian boy to a Canadian ninja.
There were two themed cakes as well as cupcakes. Kezia was quite happy to show her support…
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).
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.
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.
Happy 146th birthday Canada!
… 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We were all so happy for her to have had such fun and to be able to share this moment.
The new Bragg About the Creek magazine has just been published. My article, The Spirit of a Nation, about the Tsuu T’ina First Nation’s Annual Pow Wow and Rodeo is included in this issue. The article, more a photo essay, presents images and some of my thoughts from the past three celebrations. If you are interested in viewing the article with text and high-resolution images, please click this link (note – the file is a 2.3 MB PDF).
I live in Redwood Meadows on Tsuu T’ina land and the Beaver Dome (where the Pow Wow takes place) and the rodeo grounds are just across the road. My neighbours put on a collection of great events for young, old and everyone in-between. I have always had a fantastic time and, if you have an opportunity to visit Bragg Creek this summer, consider checking out this year’s celebration which runs from July 26th to the 28th.
(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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
In the afternoon, the family arrived and Kezia was happy to carry on well past her normal bed time.
Happy birthday Kezia – we love you and the light you create everyday.
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)
This evening I was working with some images from a trip in 2010 to Myanmar. I put together this small set from a walk along one of the market streets in Yangon’s Chinatown. People worked, shopped, talked and lived on this street. Vibrant, crowded, loud and unusual were some of the thoughts I recall from this stroll on my first day in the country.
(click for a slideshow of the images)
(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 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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.