We are two hours away from 2018 here in Alberta. I hope you are enjoying a great last night of 2017. Our Redwood Meadows community had a great fireworks display to closeout the year. This image was shot at the start of the show tonight.
I hope you have a lot of good moments doing what you love with those who mean the most to you in this new year. My own goal is to make those happen whenever I can for myself and those people important to me. We had a fun night doing crafts, playing games and taking in the Redwood Meadows fireworks.
We walked up to the Redwood Meadows sports field for the display where neighbours had gathered for skating and a bonfire earlier. The snow was falling hard and that seemed to suit everyone just fine. It was a great vibe to welcome 2017 with.
The fireworks were beautiful. I haven’t seen them during a snowstorm before and that was cool. The explosions were cheered by the crowd so it was an unqualified success. And definitely a good start to the year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!
To my fellow Canadians, and anyone else with a soft spot for the country, Happy Canada Day! 149 years old today!
This was the annual bike parade in Redwood Meadows led by our local Fire Department. And followed closely by my daughter, Kezia, in the middle looking back.
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!
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!
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.
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.
I was up in Canmore last weekend to photograph the wedding of Leanne McIsaac and Dane Moran. The weather came around just in time and we had a beautiful afternoon up on a hill overlooking Quarry Lake for the ceremony. We went down to the Bow River for some photographs with just the wedding party.
It was a really fun day and I can’t say enough about the couple and how much fun they were to work with. I wish them all the best together – I can’t wait for the baby photos in a few years!
Thank you to my friend Jeff Rhude who signed on as an assistant but was more a second shooter and a discussion board throughout the day.
Our community, Redwood Meadows, is built on land leased from the Tsuu T’ina Nation. We have great opportunities to work with them and to invite them to share their culture with us. Our new mayor, John Welsh, is carrying forward with this relationship and I believe he is making great strides to strengthening the connection between the Redwood community and the people of the Tsuu T’ina. Yesterday, as the culmination of the Earth Day celebrations at the community center, several Tsuu T’ina dancers and drummers performed. I have enjoyed their performances before during their Pow Wow and Rodeo that is an annual event every July but it was great to watch them in this smaller environment. Here then, are a few images from the dances. A very warm thank you to the dancers and musicians – it was a wonderful celebration!
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新年快樂 (xīn nián kuài lè) – Happy New Year!
The tiger passes the new year to the rabbit. All the best to everyone in this Chinese New Year! In particular my good friends from my years in Taiwan – I think of you often and miss the island and her people.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a lion dance performed by the Jing Wo Martial Arts & Athletics Association of Canada. They performed brilliantly, it was great fun to watch. I hope to see them again soon.
Here are a couple images of the lions dancing.
I previously posted about the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Annual Pow Wow and Rodeo event that I attended in July. Now that we are almost into September, I took some time to work through the stack of images that I made while I was at the Pow Wow. There were great characters, incredibly ornate outfits and a wonderful cacophony of color – it really was a lot of fun for everyone. For photographers, there was a lot to work with and the opportunity to make some interesting, beautiful photographs.
I choose two main types of images that I wanted to make. For one, I wanted to get sharp images of the regalia and the people. Beyond documenting the event, I wanted to show some of the emotion and purpose that the people put into their dancing. With the second type of images I wanted to convey the motion of the event. All of the dancers moved in a clockwise direction around the central supports of the Beaver Dome. There were upwards of a couple of hundred children and adults moving around the circle and within this path, performing their particular dance. The swirls of color grabbed attention as the dancers and their dancing outfits traced out their stories in response to the drum circles and chanting. I started out at floor level using a wide angle lens (Canon 17-40 F/4) to be in the middle of the scene and then went up to the sound booth, had a good chat with Jim a sound technician from Hobbema, and spent much of the afternoon using a longer lens (Canon 70-200 and 300 IS) from up there. I wanted to get higher so that I could shoot downwards and keep the bright daylight outside from spilling into my shots. The Beaver Dome is an open sided building so during a sunny day, the outer edges show up as very bright, very wide horizontal patches of white in the background of your images if you are at ground level and facing outwards. Going higher, allowed me to have other dancers, the carpet and the crowd in the background instead. Adjusting the aperture, I was able to choose whether to have these background elements in focus or blurred into abstract.
The two types of images required two different techniques. For the sharp images of the people, I used short exposures with a high ISO to freeze the action and minimize any blurring. With the relatively dark lighting inside this often worked out to 1/40 second and 1/80 second at F/4 with an ISO 800. I put up the shutter speed to 1/160 and 1/200 a few times just to make sure I had sharp images in the bank but, back at the computer, I have been happy with a number of the relatively slower shots that allowed more light in so the colors could really pop as they did when I was there.
Conversely, longer exposures To capture the motion, ended up being between 1/4 and 1/15 seconds using an ISO range of 100-400. I kept my aperture mostly locked at F/4 as it was working to separate individuals from the surrounding crowd and distracting background elements while keeping most or all of the person and their regalia in focus.
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s reserve lands run on both sides of Highway 22x, The Cowboy Trail, as you approach Bragg Creek from the east. Every year, the band holds a Rodeo and Pow Wow in July at their Beaverdome and rodeo grounds across the road from the Redwood Meadows Golf Course.
The event is attended by nations from all across North America. The rodeo is a major pull for competitors and fans alike. Drawing on a rich history of horsemanship and true cowboy toughness, these men and women put on an exciting, unpredictable and truly enjoyable show.
Here is a sequence showing a great ride ending with a hard, hard landing…
… I spoke to this gentleman afterwards where he had missed a full ride by less than a second. He told me he almost had him and all he wanted to do was get back on tomorrow. Awesome! Pretty mean looking horse too.
I stayed late on Saturday night, with the sun leaving us in twilight, a moon drifting higher in the east and the bulls seeming to gain the upper hand over the would be riders. It was a relief at the end, as there were a couple of bad tramples. There may have been a couple of broken bones but not many moans. It has been said how tough cowboys are and watching a bull stomp on a rider’s knee or chest, that comes to light in the aftermath.
The breath holding eased as the last of the riders made their way off the dirt. Giving room for the beauty of the area and a great sporting event to take back center stage in the minds of the crowd as we shuffled out of the grandstands.
I already can’t wait for next year’s rodeo (July 22-24). If you can make it, you will have a great time and meet some wonderful people.
Right across Highway 22 from my house is the location of the annual Tsuu T’ina nation’s Rodeo and Pow Wow. What an incredible event to have in the Bragg Creek area.
Yesterday, I spent the day on the grounds photographing the Pow Wow Grand Entrance and then the evening’s rodeo events. The people working, competing, dancing and enjoying these events were great to talk to and extended great warmth and friendliness to me. I feel very honoured to have been able to enjoy these festivities with our local Tsuu T’ina band members and the people from other nations all across North America.
I will have more photo essays up but wanted to get a quick post up with images from the Grand Entrance. This ceremony sees all of the first nation people who are dancing in the Pow Wow enter into the Beaver Lodge. This is an large pyramid open all sides with a two tiered roof sloping upwards resembling a beaver lodge in a general sense. Moving in a steady procession, the center of the lodge is soon completely packed as men and women, boys and girls of all ages circle around the main column in the middle. Easily a couple of hundred dancers pulsed inside at the height of the ceremony.
They were carried onwards, dancing with little break for up to half an hour, by the drumming circles from different nations attending. The drums and accompanying singing was incredible, powerful and charged the atmosphere. It was a mesmerizing scene to be in, around and a part of.
Here are a few more images from my first look through the images I made (click on the photographs to see larger images).
As a footnote, Tsuu T’ina means beaver in their language although I do not yet know how they came to be called by the name. Much to learn about my neighbours across the road, I better find time to do so as I’m very interested.
The Shwe Dagon pagoda in Yangon is central to the people of Myanmar and their faith. It is a major place of worship for Buddhists in Myanmar as it enshrines relics of four Buddhas. The history of and details about this golden pagoda are incredible and the Wikipedia entry is an interesting read.
My last evening in Myanmar coincided with the full moon of Tabaung Festival. The festival is celebrated on this full moon in the lunar calendar and it is one of Myanmar’s largest celebrations. Within the grounds surrounding the pagoda there are Buddhist rituals, family gatherings, water and fire offerings and many other celebrations that I was not able to learn more about. I walked around from early evening, through sunset and into the night and the crowds continued to grow. Incredible scenes of chanting, prayer and offering were everywhere all held together with a feeling of a shared experience with city people, monks, nuns, children and others from every stripe of life.
Here then are a few of the images that I made under a full moon in the Far East…
Thank you for taking a quick walk around Shwe Dagon with me.