January 1st has been a good, and wonderfully relaxed, start to 2020 for us. The fireworks at the Redwood Meadows community sports field last night did a great job of ushering in the new year. All the best to you and yours in this new year.
The fireworks were great. Thank you to the people involved in the evening’s light show.
I’m enjoying day with my kids. I hope all the fathers who love, support and try their best to understand theirs are enjoying the same today.
30 second exposure at f/6.3 on ISO 200. Canon 5D3 camera and a 24mm lens.
Returning from a walk with my hound last night, I decided to take a photograph of the Christmas lights before I take them down this weekend. The first image was just the scene as it is and I found it a bit bland. In the second, I kept the shutter open longer so that I could run around with a blue glow stick to light paint in some stars. A little bling added to the scene made it a bit more fun.
Kian and I headed up the ski hill last night to get a good vantage point for the fireworks. We found a great slab of bare rock near the flying mile chairlift and enjoyed the explosions as they lit up the village and echoed across the valley.
Pretty fantastic to spend a warm night watching the light show above this pretty little town with my son.
Kezia had a blast at her first dance competition of the year this weekend in Jasper. She was invited to this competition’s nationals in July for four of her dances and had an absolute blast performing, hanging out with her teammates and swimming in the heated outdoor pool! I’m excited to see her soon but wanted to share my admiration for her dedication, attitude and enjoying every minute of it.
These two photographs are from her musical theatre solo performance, “Sayonara” that she performed at the Springbank Dancers Competitors Spring Showcase on March 11th. You will continue to open this world up my little, not so little, sweet.
Under mild protest my son and I watched the last half of the evening set of the Tsuu T’ina’s 43rd annual rodeo last night. Kian found a few boys to play kendama with so that bought me a little time to photograph. The sun dropped into some wildfire smoke that laid above the horizon which made for dramatic backlighting. I will share more soon but I’m packing my gear and heading over for Sunday’s short go this afternoon. Here a cowboy lifts the calf into position to fix three of the legs with a half hitch knot to complete his run in the tie-down roping event.
Halloween had a little shadow over it this year for us but the kids excitement and enthusiasm was quickly kindled and we had a great night. Our community is fantastic for trick or treating and the neighbours helped to make it a lot of fun.
Kezia was dressed as Rey from the latest Star Wars movie – she had her Jedi skills on display all night long.
Kian made his 80’s cartoon style Skeletor costume at home and enjoyed playing the character and doing the high pitched voice.
I enjoyed touring around with the kids and they were very accommodating while I snapped away – and were very generous sharing their candy with me.
The Saddle Bronc was a great event to watch at this year’s Tsuu T’ina Rodeo. The goal is to hang on for 8 seconds during a torturous ride that often finds the horse whipping the cowboy around like a rag doll tied to a rocket. Here are a few images from the finals on July 26th.
(click any image to open a larger version of that image)
This weekend was the 41st annual Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Rodeo which draws First Nation people born to the saddle from all over North America. The rodeo is held at the Redwood Meadows Arena which just across Highway 22 from my home. This is one of my favourite rodeos and it was great to be able to be on the rails for the last day.
It was an afternoon that started with sun which gave way to heavy, heavy rain and ended with high clouds towards the end of the night. Dynamic photographic opportunities came with the changing weather which was great for me. Weather doesn’t make too much difference for the people or for the animals – they are all ready to go no matter what is going on above. I have a stack of photographs to look at, and will share more soon, but wanted to get out this first image of one of the high-flying bull riders from a great afternoon in the Bragg Creek area.
July 12th was the final day of the 2015 Calgary Stampede and I had an invitation from good friends to join them for the Chuckwagon Finals and the Grandstand Show Finale that evening. I jumped at the chance and enjoyed a great night down on the grounds.
The Chucks were exciting as usual with the best races coming in the last couple of heats. This year’s champion was Kurt Bensmiller who successfully defended his title from last year in a great race, particularly down the stretch. Bensmiller was riding on the Tsuu T’ina wagon, whose land we live on, so I was happy for them as well! Above is my shot of him closing in on the finish line.
Another great race was heat 5 where Mark Sutherland pulled away from a tight grouping with all four teams and won by just under a second.
Earlier in the evening, we walked down the midway, checking out the rides, the people and the crazy games. I like riding these big swings with my kids and with the sun behind it made for a cool picture.
After the races, the Grandstand Show was up and this year’s edition was called the Canadian Classic. I thought it was great fun. I was sitting above a group visiting from Ohio and, judging by their enthusiasm during and after the performance, it was well received by friends from afar as well.
The fireworks are a signature piece that ends each show. The set on the last day were far and away the largest of the Stampede I was told by a friend who had seen several of them this year. They were huge, loud and beautiful. From our seats on the second deck, we weren’t too far below the average explosion height so they felt all-encompassing which is great when it comes to fireworks in my mind.
Canada Day is always a great event in the Redwood Meadows community. Due to enthusiasm, organization and efforts of the small army of volunteers a super fun day is created. From the bike parade led by the Redwood Meadows Fire Department, the entertainment on the outdoor stage, the adults tea party in the shade and all of the great children’s activities (face painting, bouncy castles, slip and slide and more) to the fireworks at the end of the day – they were all fantastic.
Our children had a great time down on the grounds and I wasn’t far behind. The weather cooperated, after a nasty hailstorm the night before, so I have a bit of a sunburn to show for my time listening to music and watching the kids play.
The fireworks are always good and I think they were really great this year. They started at 11pm under a still fairly bright sky. We sat facing northwest so I enjoyed having that element to frame the explosions against. A great day and we were all worn out at the end. Thank you to everyone who made this happen! Happy Canada Day!
To my son Kian, you are a strong, brilliant warrior. I love your sense for doing what is right, your passion for knowledge, your rough and tumble physicality, and your love of life, light (and Minecraft!). And, above all else, I simply love you.
You have held my heart in your hand everyday since you were born eight years ago. There is no place I would rather it be.
Kian just after his 1st birthday. And below, from last fall flushed after a long play in the leaves.
To our sweet daughter – you are magic and everyday you bring that magic into the lives of the people you touch. I love you and wish you more and more of the wonderful things that you care about.
On Friday night the kids and I went across the road to the Tsuu T’ina Nation Rodeo that runs July 26th to 28th this year. It was a warm, sunny evening and it was great to see the stands pretty close to full. With a good crowd on hand, the riders were fired up and there were some great performances. This cowboy had a wild ride that ended up with him earning a free flight. I will be heading back for the finals on Sunday – I’m looking forward to another great day.
The Western Showcase is an art show held annually during the Calgary Stampede. The showcase is held in two of the halls in the BMO Centre and has artwork from a wide range of mediums on display. The paintings and sculptures often hold me mesmerized for hours at a time when I’m down there.
The Western Photo Gallery is part of the Showcase and this is my third year participating. This year I have five images on display and available for sale. The images selected by the jury are the photographs in this post)
The Western Photo Gallery is a great venue to get your name out and to have the opportunity to sell prints to a large audience. I’m always excited to be involved. If you have a chance to visit, there are a lot of great western themed images.
One image that had particularly strong feedback last year (and also sold well) was of harnesses and other tack used in the Calgary Stampede. For three years I was covering the Stampede Rodeo for a magazine and had press access. During the 2011 Stampede, on one of my walks behind the chutes, I noticed this gear hanging off of one of the posts. It is a symbol of the Stampede that seems to work for people.
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.
Our community of Redwood Meadows is located along the Elbow River west of Calgary. Normally, the river is a steady flow that winds out of Kananaskis Country through the Foothills and drains into the Weaselhead delta in the city. For the past week, heavy rain and snowmelt swelled the river far above its channels and in many places along its path expanded well beyond its banks.
Owing to a sustained fight by emergency workers, volunteers, community members and skilled heavy machinery crews to reinforce the berm that separates the town from the river, the water was kept out of most houses. I did not stop to take many photographs during the river’s rise, we were sandbagging and racing to shore up the berm. I did grab a few afterwards to remember how close the water came to making things significantly worse in Redwood Meadows.
The reinforcement of the berm continues with many truckloads of concrete blocks and rock boulders being positioned to defend against the next time the Elbow’s temper flares again.
The story of this year’s flood from Bragg Creek and into Calgary (where the Elbow joined the Bow River and unleashed true destruction), is still unfolding. The waters have crested, many people are back in their homes and the cleaning up has begun. There is great community spirit at all places affected and we will all need that over the next weeks and months.
The water ripped away trees and changed the shape of the valley. It carried mud through the forest and left a heavy layer behind when it receded. I found this small flower which had weathered the deluge and seemed to be a good symbol of strength and resilience. Two qualities I have seen in my neighbours, friends and strangers who rallied to save a town and continue to work to bring it back to normal.
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.
It was a quiet passage into 2013 at our house this year. We enjoyed the Redwood Meadows community fireworks (thank you to the team that put on the show – it was fantastic!) at 8 and then celebrated New Year’s with the East Coast of North America so that our kids could take part. At four and six years old, staying up until midnight in our own time zone seemed unlikely. We said goodbye to 2012 and wished each other and our family the very best in the new year. I would like to extend the same warm wishes to you and yours. Happy New Year!
For those interested, both of these photographs were taken with the camera on tripod using mirror lock up with the lens focused to infinity (works well with smaller apertures). When the firework missile streaked skyward, I triggered the shutter and used longer exposures to capture the explosion and the cascading streaks that followed. For the first image, I had the camera set on manual with a shutter speed of 13 seconds at f/11 on ISO 500 while the second image was 8 seconds at f/11 on ISO 800. As always, you can click on each image to open a page with a higher resolution version.
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.
The rodeo down at the Calgary Stampede today was great today. It was Day One for the Group B competitors and it seemed obvious that they were ready to get started.
Here, Cody Cassidy has just left a perfectly comfortable horse to dive onto the back of a slightly ornery cow. The Donalda, Alberta cowboy did a great job with this ride pulling the steer down in 4.5 seconds which was good for second place on the day.
Blake Knowles, from Heppner, Oregon, digs boots into the dirt as he drags the steer to a stop.
Clint Cannon had a wild ride on Coal Black with the horse winning today’s round. It was a good Bareback event matchup and I would like to see Clint turn in some good scores and get into the final.
In the same event, Jake Vold drew Witch Doctor. The horse lived up to its name and was a tricky ride. One that the Bareback rider from Ponoka, Alberta was up to the challenge for. Together, the pairing won the day with an 86.0 ride.
Savannah Reeves, a perennial contender from Cross Plains, Texas who won the 2010 Ladies Barrel Racing event rounds the first barrel during her run.
I can’t wait for the weekend. The performances have already been great and I am excited about what we will see for the finals.