I spend a lot of time photographing on the edges of the day. On this morning, as the winter sun cleared the horizon, I found my shadow watching me from the side of a hay bale.
I’m very excited to share the news that Art Wolfe is leading a photography seminar here in Calgary on April 16, 2011. Art has earned great respect from photographers, artists, conservationists and humanitarians around the world. I am constantly amazed by Art’s work and have loved learning from him and his images for a long time.
The seminar is part of a series that Art is presenting across North America. It is titled, “The Art of Composition” and the emphasis is on building the photographer’s eye. Art builds the artistic and technical skills to help the photographer create compelling imagery.
I have traveled with Art in Myanmar and there is no exaggeration when I say he is a fantastic teacher. He has an ability to engage people and present subjects like composition, color, inspiration and light in ways that are relevant to photographers. He not only shares his approach to photography but teaches people how to incorporate these skills into their own work.
Art usually presents this seminar in a large venue but for the Calgary seminar, we have booked a great location with a more intimate setting. The seminar will be held at the Naturbahn Teahouse in Bowness in the Canada Olympic Park. It is a beautiful location for a world-class event!
My wife and I helped out Art’s team with some of the logistics as eyes on the ground here in Calgary so it is very exciting to be only a month away from the seminar. I hope to see you there!
I spent Sunday morning working upstream of the Elbow Falls in Kananaskis. I really enjoyed looking for patterns and shapes in the ice and the water.
I used a macro lens to get close to the ice and a tripod to keep the camera steady during the longer exposures that I used vary the blur of the water.
The Travel Photographer of the Year awards have announced their shortlist and I have images in the hunt across three categories. The TPOTY is a major competition out of the UK so it is pretty exciting to have some of my work recognized to this stage.
The image of the monks on the bridge at sunset in Amarapura in Myanmar is one of three images that are in the running for the single shot category. The nuns at prayer and the lone fisherman are the other images that have been shortlisted in this category.
The following four images are finalists for the World in Motion portfolio category.
The last set is a really fun category to be shortlisted in. It is the New Talent category. The portfolio I entered was for Bagan in central Myanmar. The objective was to sell a location, a journey or an idea. From the TPOTY website: “Tell the story of a place, a destination, an experience, a journey, even a travel commodity, but sell it to us. Make us want to experience it. This category is for photographers looking to start a career in photography. Your images should give the judges a real sense of the place or travel experience and entice them too. This is your travel advert.” I tried to share the wonder of Bagan across the four images. It was an interesting exercise to cull through all of the photographs I made in Bagan and select four that provided a window into the people and the land.
With this competition’s international profile, there are many very high quality entries so it is exciting to have a range of work reach the final round. The winning images will be announced in the next couple of weeks so we’ll see what happens.
We are into the third day of the first big snowstorm to hit Calgary and the surrounding area this winter. A shock to most people’s system. I love this season but I was a bit zealous shovelling the snow on my drive and my neighbour’s. Have to get the back into snow removal shape – not sure how, just more practice I suppose.
While trawling along the roads home this afternoon, I stopped by a homestead along Highway 22 to photograph some of the landscape altered by the return of the white blanket.
Please click for the full size version
And, at the fire hall that stands watch over our small community I laughed when I saw this sign.
It may be the case that the woods are still dry as the moisture in the snow has yet to be released into the soil but, at first glance, it seems a bold contradiction to the visible reality.
A neighbor has this lovely old hot rod that he’s brought up to show condition. He takes it out for a cruise now and then. Here is one of the photos I’ve made as he rolls past.
The blur is created by using a slow shutter speed on the camera and then panning with the car as it drives by. Here, the shutter is set to 1/8 seconds using a 300mm lens on my Canon 1D Mark III.
In this second image, I have softened edges in the image to play up the painterly quality of this motion blur. In Adobe Lightroom, I reduced the clarity to -84, set sharpening to 0, and adjusted noise reduction (luminance 100, detail 0 and contrast 0). A different look, I’m going to print both to see which I like more.
Fall came later to the Prairies of eastern Alberta and Saskatchewan than it did around Bragg Creek. We drove out through Medicine Hat and on to Gull Lake a couple of weekends ago to visit my wife’s grandparents. It was nice to fit in a bit more fall photography along the way.
Small hills break up the prairie fields near the Saskatchewan – Alberta border.
Motel sign at a truck stop along Highway 1, the Trans Canadian Highway, at the Highway 21 intersection in Saskatchewan near Maple Creek.
The prairie landscape blurs by from my view in the passenger’s seat near Gull Lake.
Amid the health and family issues, I had a cover image and article featured in the Bragg About the Creek magazine that was published this month. The attached link is to an online copy of the article at the magazine’s website.
The magazine is published quarterly by Dwayne Zaba and Roy Anstey is the editor. Both are great to work with and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them through the magazine. It has a very healthy distribution in the Calgary area so it is fun to be a part of showcasing the Bragg Creek and Kananaskis areas that are close to Calgary but definitely a world away from the city.
Thanks to Dwayne and Roy for your support and for highlighting this community.
Good friends of ours told us about a small group of moose that settled in a field in West Bragg Creek a couple of days ago. This morning, I was out there early and quickly saw the young bull.
I made sure he saw me from a long ways off so that there were no surprises.
I moved slowly and watched his ears for signs of distress – if they get laid back then it is a sign that the moose is agitated. He is a young fellow maybe 4 or 5 years old judging by the immature rack. Nonetheless, still a very large animal and very impressive watching him track easily through the scrub brush and boggy grassland.
The cow was in the middle of a stand of trees to the side of the marsh where the bull was grazing.
She poked her head out to see what I was about. She quickly concluded that I wasn’t anything to be concerned with as she laid down in the grass presumably near her yearling. I didn’t see the young moose and had no interest in stressing the mother or getting into a dangerous position so I didn’t move any closer to the trees.
Great to see these young moose out. We have pretty decent numbers in the Bragg Creek area but I always worry about the impact of hunting so it is wonderful to see babies, yearlings and young bucks when they return to these parts of their range.
I was out for a walk with the hound this morning a little after the sun had crested the hill east of our home in Redwood Meadows. I just kept the long lens on the camera and looked for interesting details in the autumn landscape.
We went over to the banks of the Elbow River that run parallel to the road through Redwood Meadows. This yielded some interesting patterns and creative opportunities. We are nearing late fall here in Bragg Creek now. There are many trees with few leaves left to shed. Still a lot of beauty yet to be found before the season draws to a close.
With some interesting light, there is the opportunity to make some special images.
We drove along the Bow Valley Trail between Cochrane and Canmore enjoying the autumn colours that are really incredible this year.
Between Ghost Lake and Morley is the McDougall Unite Church which is 135 years old. It is a prairie icon in Alberta and served its role as a contrast to the yellows and a point of focus admirably in this image.
I posted an image of this same church earlier this year in June.
I hope to post more fall images showing how special this year in particular is.
On Monday, I went down to the Lion’s 44th Annual Labour Day Rodeo for the finals of the weekend long event. This was my third rodeo that I have attended this summer and I joined my parents, aunt and uncle, and my wife’s parents. It was fun to enjoy a bit of time together down at the grounds.
I can’t say enough good things about this event. A large portion of the townspeople of Cochrane were down on the grounds. The banter between the announcer and the lead rodeo clown throughout the afternoon was fun and held the crowd’s interest between rides. The cowgirls and cowboys were impressive as they competed in their specialties. There were more than a few outstanding rides. I am always impressed by the level of skill on display at all of the rodeos, big and small, throughout Alberta.
I wasn’t at the rodeo on Sunday, so I missed seeing Darwin Wiggett and Wayne Simpson there. They both posted images from their time on the grounds – great work by both. The event drew a fair number of photographers but there was plenty of room to set up and move around the gates.
The Lion’s Annual is a small rodeo in Cochrane that I love attending every year. It has very good talent (both people and animals) and a great atmosphere which makes you feel like a close member of the community.
I’m heading down for the Finals right now but wanted to post a couple of images I took on Saturday afternoon as the storms started to roll in.
With this photograph, I used the split toning controls within Adobe Lightroom’s Develop Panel to make a different looking image. I converted the image to black and white then used the split toning section to set the colours that I wanted to use to tone the image (a grey-blue for the shadows and a grey-gold for the highlights). Using the sliders to tweak the hue and saturation of these tones, I was able to bring a subtle, metallic sheen to this monk’s skin. I had this look in mind recently which has a very different feel from the original, colour image which has warm earthy tones.
Here is a more typical look that I like in my black and white work
In the original, the dust in air has warmed the light and given a glow to everything.
I like how you can use great light to create different versions of the same image. I’m still not sure which one I prefer. Colour is pretty consistently a main theme in my images but I like the glow and the slightly metallic look in the split toned edition.
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.
This great blue heron returns to this small lake on the eastern edge of Kananaskis near Bragg Creek. The great blue is the largest heron in North America. They can stand over 4 feet tall with a wingspan just shy of 7 feet. Very graceful to watch in flight and their takeoffs and landings are performances.
This year it has a mate so I’m keeping my eye out for young ones. It would be great to see this pair grow to be a small rookery in the next couple of years.
I first photographed these birds in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. I still think it is special every time I see them right near my home.
The cloudy mornings over the weekend created very even, diffused light around the backroads of West Bragg Creek. I was out with the family enjoying the scenery and we came across a lot of whitetail deer. Some young lone males, mothers with one or two babies and a few older groups of twos and threes.
Very nice light to photograph these beautiful animals in. They and their cousins, the mule deer, are very common around Bragg Creek but I can’t imagine getting tired of seeing them.
I mentioned Dan Pichette’s photographs in my previous Midway post. He and I went down to the grounds together and had a great time wandering around. He’s a fine photographer and I really love the focus he has put on individual subjects in many of these photos. His images with the fireworks playing in the midway scene are fantastic.
I’m glad to get out with Dan whenever we can, it’s always a lot of fun.
Thanks for sharing Dan – great set!
This year the Stampede started its 10 day run with a lot of cold, wet weather. I made it down to the grounds with my good friend Dan Pichette on the Thursday before the big final weekend. We picked a good night as it was warm, there was a great sky in the evening and the grounds were busy but not packed.
We brought the tripods for the purpose of playing with long exposures on the lights of the rides, games and kiosks around the fairgrounds. Here is some of the work I came home with. Dan made some dynamite images and I’m bugging him to let me throw a couple of his images up here too. Not yet, but maybe soon.
I always have a lot of fun at the Stampede whether it’s watching the rodeo, checking out the art exhibit, listening the outdoor concerts or roaming the fair.
When I’m down there with a camera, I have yet to not get inspired by all of the commotion and excitement.
When the Prairies get wet it is usually due to some pretty impressive storms. The first couple of weeks of July have been heavy with rain which seems to be about a month later than the last couple of years. The weather may not lend itself to days on the beach, it makes for some great photographic possibilities. With the wet comes saturated colors and, using a polarizer to cut the glare, you can create images that almost glow. The dark skies reveal the texture within the clouds and make beautiful backgrounds to landscape photographs.
I felt a bit bad watching these cows inside my car as the window and their backs took the brunt of the wind and rain.
So, I ventured out to get a couple of portraits and was rewarded with stern glares from the models and raindrops on the lens.
I liked this fellow’s optimism with the shorts. Prudence must have taken hold as he walked out the door with the toque and the long sleeve shirt.
A view of the Trans-Canada Highway looking westward as it disappears into the storm. Photograph made from the Springbank overpass just outside of Calgary.
I want to thank Scott Bourne and his Photofocus team for selection as one of the 24 nominees for the Emerging Photographer award that they have set up. It is a tremendous honour to have my work well received by a gentleman who spends a great amount of time encouraging, advising and informing photographers of all types and all levels.
Here is the link to the Photofocus post and more information about this opportunity.
The exposure this nomination has generated is fantastic and has already opened a few new doors which are very exciting.
The content on the Photofocus covers a broad range of photographic topics and does so at a thorough, informative level. I am consistently impressed by the volume of original material Scott and his contributors post. It is a daily read and a lot of fun to be involved in a small way with this group.
Thank you Scott, all the best to you and your team.