Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/10th of a second at f/4.5 on ISO 640
Cars, motorcycles, buses and rickshaws swung by me one evening while I was in the heart of Cabo San Lucas. With the neon signs hanging above many of the shops and the sky still deep blue, I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to drag my shutter and play with what images I could create.
When practicing motion photography, I like to try different techniques. I switch between keeping the subject sharp by panning in sync with its movement and panning out of sync so that only a small part is sharp or the whole thing has a large or small amount of blur that pushes the image into an abstract shot.
For the better part of an hour, the traffic kept me happily occupied while I waited for my bus to arrive.
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.
I spent a bit of time as a passenger traversing the interstate freeways that wind through, over and around Los Angeles during our visit there last week. Along the way, my twitchy camera finger got the best of me and I ended up getting pulled into the patterns and chaos realized with the help of longer exposures.
I like playing around to see what can be created as the landscape slides by. With dusk falling in, the warm light played well with the colours in the signs and the vehicles. Lot’s to play with, not much time to do it though. It makes it easy to not get stuck on any one subject! I do really like trying to compose at speed and imagine how the image will look.
When we exited onto the Pacific Coast Highway, which is more like a city street than a highway, the speeds slowed down which allowed for more intentional image making in a way. I liked the sunset image above but grew bored and introduced camera movements to create crazy lines from the lights standing out now against the dark surroundings. Things started out relatively controlled but then…
… things got a little more wild before the ride ended.
We caught the last light on the west coast from our balcony overlooking Aliso Beach.
(please click on any image to open a higher resolution version)
Bobbi and I are in Sedona, Arizona for a few days this week. We drove into the town yesterday and went exploring down at the Red Rock Crossing for a couple of hours until nightfall. I haven’t been here before so Bobbi is in the role of guide and I am the happy follower.
We went to this location which is split by Oak Creek. The cool waters drew a number of small groups and families offering respite from the 42°C (108°F) heat of the day. We hiked along the riverside trails and photographed reflections in the water, the towering red rocks that backstop the area as well as a couple of lizards. A beautiful place to escape the heat.
What makes this place a destination for landscape photographers are the views of Cathedral Rock and the opportunity to work with its reflections in the creek. At sunset the last sunlight of the day makes the rocks glow. Last night did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time playing with the elements at hand.
I drove along the Lake Minnewanka road last weekend with plans to photograph the sunrise from a bluff above Two Jack Lake that affords a great view of the lake along with Mount Rundle in the background. Parking at a pullout near my intended spot, I started setting up my gear when I noticed a female elk standing near a tree about 20 metres away. It was still dark out but I could see her staring at me so we played that game for a few minutes. It was too dark to shoot and she seemed pretty relaxed so I was happy to just watch her. Then, I saw some movement behind her and a bull elk stood up and shook the snow off. She might have been happy to stay there but he wanted to get a bit of separation so they hopped the snow bank onto the road and, after clearing the bank on the far side, climbed the hill to the edge of the forest. At this point, the light was brightening quickly and by raising the ISO on my camera I was able to take the image above of the bull staring at me from the top of the hill. I thought they were going to continue into the forest but when I reviewed the picture in the LCD on the camera, I noticed the female’s ears in the lower left corner of the picture and realized she was laying down.
They were in no hurry to disappear so I stayed on the far edge of the road from them and photographed the bull with his amazing antlers. These are among the best balanced racks that I have seen and one of the largest. Really impressive and when he licked his chops I had a fleeting image of him using them on me. That idea didn’t take hold as his body language did not suggest any agitation. He stayed on this little rise for the time while I was there and the cow got up once but stayed low and mostly out of sight.
I tried not to take it personally when he stuck his tongue out. It’s a funny look that’s hard not to anthropomorphize a bit.
Even while scratching his leg, the elk kept one eye on me presumably to avoid being surprised by any movements I might make.
Switching lenses for a wider composition you can see the first light colouring the peak of Cascade Mountain above the forest.
I left them just before sunrise as he was turning his attention towards the trees. I piled my gear back in the car and headed down to the Bow Valley Parkway and, as it turned out, to a pair of wolves.
I photographed a pretty wide variety of landscapes through last year. Here are the ones that, for one reason or another, stand out to me.
A full moon setting over the mountains above Elbow Falls in Kananaskis, Alberta.
Sulphur Mountain and a shrouded Mount Rundle are reflected in the Third Vermilion Lake in the Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
The blowing snow, bright sunshine and cool colours showed a lot of the moods of the Canadian Rockies.
Sunset on the Elbow River as it was tightly wrapped in winter’s trappings.
Silhouette of the Rocky Mountains against clouds lit up by the setting sun.
Springbank sunset just west of Calgary, Alberta.
Sunrise over a prairie marsh in Springbank.
A scenic farmstead on the Prairies south of Gull Lake in Saskatchewan.
A storm rolling east out of the Rockies and onto the Albertan Prairies.
First snowfall in Kananaskis at Barrier Lake in September.
A long exposure of the rocks and ocean along Sunset Beach near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Bagan in Myanmar provided an incredible setting for landscape photography. I was able to enjoy sunrises, sunsets and even shoot from a hot air balloon while I was there in February.
We spent New Year’s Eve at our friends’ home, the Folk Tree Lodge, in Priddis. This was one of my last photographs from 2010 and certainly a favourite of mine.
2010 was a great year. I’m looking forward to this new one.
Nuns at prayer in a convent in the Sagaing Hills in Mandalay, Myanmar in Southeast Asia.
In 2010, I made a goal that I wanted to photograph people more. My first love is nature photography (landscapes and wildlife) but the more portraiture, street and travel photography that I do, the more I enjoy it. To support this extension of my art, I have attended lighting workshops, read a wheelbarrow full of books, tried to spend more time photographing humans and shared some of the knowledge gained with other photographers in my ecosystem.
Much to learn and practice yet but 2010 was a good step forward. I’m excited to build on this momentum and see where the people I photograph in 2011 take me.
Here are some of my favourite images from last year.
My trip to Myanmar in February was a really wonderful experience. Photographically, this land is fantastic for the variety of people, cultures, landscapes and other opportunities. Here I wandered through Yangon’s Chinatown and was able to have a few good conversations with the residents as they spoke Mandarin as a first language instead of Burmese.
I was fascinated by these young men who ran blocks of ice from trucks, up the cobblestone street to these ice crushers and then back down to the dock for the fish to be packed in. Very hard work done barefoot without any breaks through the morning while the fish are being shipped out around the city and beyond.
This marble carver in Amarapura works in his family’s yard along a street filled with stonemasons. These craftspeople create incredible statues from the alabaster mined from the hills in the surrounding Mandalay area. Again, very hard work.
The monks of Southeast Asia are magnets for many photographers, and I was no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with many of these men that I met and loved photographing them in their surroundings.
A very kind man who I gestured and chatted with briefly in Old Bagan after he motioned me over to have a look at my camera. He was happy to let me photograph him and gave this picture a nod when I showed him the screenshot.
Probably the coolest guy I met in Myanmar. This gentleman had a group of younger monks and lay people circling him and they were having an animated conversation which I enjoyed watching as much as I enjoyed making this photo.
The younger monks line up to receive offerings from the community, grateful for the dedication of these boys and men to the faith they all share. The food collected is distributed among the monks and eaten in silence. A large portion is distributed outside the brotherhood to the less fortunate who wait patiently for the monks to hand it out. There is a dignity among even the poorest which can be glimpsed in the photograph of the man below but I was not able to wholly present here.
In Amarapura while walking through a monastery, I looked in on this monk as he swept the courtyard seemingly lost in the repetition.
Thank you for scrolling through a few of the highpoints of the year with me.
Highway 8 starts about 30 kilometers west of Calgary in Alberta, Canada and runs through the open prairie around Springbank directly east into the city. When I do go into Calgary, this is the road I usually take and, in the winter, it is often during daybreak on the way in and dusk when I’m heading home. I’m working on a longer term project on roads, what is at either end, what springs up in between and how we move along them. These photographs have been shot with this project in mind but, equally, as an acknowledgement of this particular stretch of asphalt that I spend a fair amount of time traversing.
The mountains dominate the view once I clear the city and heading west. With great ease they pull me out of the work mind and back into my personal space. The longer drive is appreciated on those days when a longer transition is needed.
It was chilly at the zoo wandering the pathways last night amid a cold breeze off of the Bow river. It was worthwhile though as Bobbi and I were surrounded by over 1,500,000 Christmas lights!
(click on any of the photographs for larger images)
This annual event runs from November 26 to January 2 this year. Most of the zoo is wrapped in lights taking the shape of animals, dinosaurs, sleighs, jungle scenes and a lot more. We went last year and it was -30°C plus the windchill which made it a bit too cold for more than a few photographs as I was attending a party and was not bundled up. This year I had longjohns, two sets of gloves and some good layers on so I was able to enjoy the walk more. We were both bundled up but Bobbi’s boots let her down a bit – nothing serious. We had no trouble having a great time.
I had to hunt this creature down…
… but I finally got clear of the forest of lights for a clean shot.
This year I brought my tripod as well because I wanted to make long exposures and play with some zooming techniques during these slower shutter speeds.
Here is a straight long exposure of the jungle scene.
And here is the same composition with the addition of the twist of the zoom lens. You can do this handheld as well but using a tripod you get straight zoom lines and I find I have better control over the speed of the zoom and how the effect looks.
Thank you to the Zoo for putting on such a visually delightful event, my wife for humouring me as I doddled along in the cold and my parents for spending the evening with the kids.
Two weeks until the big day but in case I don’t see you between now and then, Merry Christmas!
Working with a slow shutter speed, I wanted to see what kind of detail I could of the commuters riding into the downtown core on one of Calgary’s light rail transit trains. For this image I panned with the train as it sped past, trying to pivot quick enough to briefly match the rail car’s velocity. The goal being to capture the detail inside the train while blurring the scenery outside. This technique has been applied to all types of motion by many photographers and creates an interesting effect.
Click on the image for a larger version
Exposure details: 1/13 second, f/4.0 at ISO 400 using a Canon 1D Mark III with 70-200 lens at 200mm.
One of my photographs of the fishermen of Inle Lake in Myanmar has been selected as the travel photo of the week on the National Geographic website. Here is the link.
[click for a larger image]
That’s pretty cool – now if I could just angle for an assignment from the yellow border.
I am preparing entries for the Travel Photographer of the Year contest and reworked some of my images from Inle Lake in Myanmar that I made in February.
Very good people I met on the water. I look forward to the next encounters I have on Inle somewhere down the road.
I put together this set of images for a gallery show I may have the chance to do. It was fun to look through these images of people I met and was able to photograph when I went to Myanmar in February.
It’s a big world filled with incredible people, I’m looking forward to meeting some more of them soon.
Here’s the link to the webpage with the gallery of images.
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 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.
After settling into the hotel room, we sat out on the deck to watch the ocean. In twos and threes, squadrons of brown pelicans swing around the rocks and glide in front of the advancing waves, climbing over the top just as the water crests and slams into the beach.
American white pelicans summer in lakes across the Canadian prairies but I had never seen their cousins, the brown pelican, in the wild before. So, I was quite excited that these huge birds (they have wingspans up to seven feet) were residents near our vacation spot. For the next couple of days, I went down to the water’s edge and enjoyed taking shots of them on the beach, fishing in the water and flying along the coastline.
When we finally went into town and spent the day around the marina and the beaches along the Sea of Cortés, I was surprised at the number of pelicans settled into the dockside environment. They play the role of seagulls down there, massing on the boats and docks as well as lounging on the rock ledges along Land’s End. There are native gulls down there as well but they do not appear to have anywhere near the same numbers as the pelicans.
At the narrow entrance to the harbour, the pelicans bob in the water waiting. As sportfishing boats return to the marina, the birds fly up and follow just off the stern, expecting to get scraps from the fishermen.
On a water taxi from the main beach area to the marina we detoured out to Land’s End where we found clusters of pelicans throughout the rock formations vying for space with cormorants and gulls.
On our last morning before heading home, I went down to the beach early and sat down to watch some of the birds who seemed to just be lounging around, in no rush to start their day.
Great fun to be able to see these impressive birds in a wide variety of places. I feel lucky to be able to have seen them displaying the many different ways they live out the day.
We were in Cabo San Lucas last week for a few days of vacation time. It was our first time to the Baja Peninsula and found it to be a beautiful spot. We spent a lot of time on the water or very close to it. After a few years on the Prairies, the ocean has an incredible pull for both Bobbi and I.
I got out for a couple good shoots before sunrise and again before sunset while we were down there.
We stayed along Sunset Beach, just outside the town on the Pacific side. Very quiet beach with wonderful rock formations the only breaks to the stretches of sand.
Definitely a place I am looking forward to shooting again.
Mandalay is known throughout Asia for their artisans. The area’s stonemasons have earned a reputation for their exquisite work with marble.
Our guide took us to a street in Mandalay that is a centre for marble carving. The street is packed with workshops with carvers mostly working on Buddha statues of all sizes.
The statues are lined up, in various states of completion, at the front of most of the shops.
Masks are not part of the uniforms and the fine dust created by the power chisels and grinders they use hangs heavy around most workshops.
Marble is mined in quarries near Mandalay in the Sagyin hills. The best of this stone is alabaster, very fine quality marble which most of these carvers were working with along the road.
When a statue is ready to be moved for painting or to be delivered nearby, a cart like the one below is often used.
For shipments to more distant clients, the statues are framed in wood and then wait to be loaded on flatbed trucks.
At one end of this road, a low slung building housed woodworkers, which provided the single exception to the marble work packed on this dusty street running for several city blocks in the middle of this sprawling city.
Here too Buddha remained the focus of most of the carvings, but there were a few different statues lined up on one wall outside.
One more incredible location in Myanmar that I am already looking forward to getting back to again.
This is the second part of the Inle Lake Edges of the Day series. These photos were taken around sunset during two evenings spent out on the water.
It was a lot of fun working with the falling light levels and exposing to reveal different amounts of detail from pure black silhouettes to overexposed reflections in the water. Many different ways to shoot these scenes, I could stay there for another couple of weeks and not get bored just working with these guys.
Inle Lake is a lake unlike any I have been to before. I was there for three days in February and each morning I went out on a longtail canoe on the smooth water and explored the lake, looking to capture some of the stillness and calm that preceded the sun climbing over the hills that rise above the eastern shoreline. Here are some of the images from those mornings on the lake with the fishermen.
We maneuvered our canoe around the fishermen to work with and into the light. Using longer lenses, we kept far enough from the men that we were not affecting their fishing. Through our guide, we were told that these gentlemen did not mind us photographing them, they just thought it was strange that we found them so interesting. Seeing the world through the lens continues to be an amazing way to experience life.
A short post with a link to a web gallery of my first set of favourites from my trip to Myanmar in February.
* If you can’t open the link, please scroll down to see the set.
More to come as I am still working through the library of images I came home with.
Thanks for checking out the blog and the images.
* The link is to a Flash based slideshow so for those viewing on an iPhone, iPad or other device that does not support Adobe’s Flash, I have included the images from the slideshow below.
In Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, lies the Chaukhtatgyi Temple which houses an enormous reclining Buddha. We traveled to the temple, enjoyed looking at the impressive statue but moved on to the focus of our first day in Myanmar, the monastery attached to the temple. The monastery houses monks both young and old. It is comprised of a collection of wooden buildings that serve as dorms, classrooms, eating halls and meditation spaces. We met the senior monk who offered to let us photograph some of the younger monks while they studied their scriptures.
Here is the senior monk in his living quarters on the second floor of one of the dormitories.
This group of boys were in one long, sparsely furnished room. The students were scattered around the room sitting, standing or laying down on the dark wooden floor reading their books with levels of interest which varied from passive up to completely focused. The younger boys seemed to be more the former with the older boys able and willing to devote complete attention.
The monk teaching these boys was a stern taskmaster. While I do not speak Burmese, when he was not pleased with one of the students, it was very clear that whatever they were doing was wrong and should be quickly corrected. He didn’t chasten often while we were there but when he did, the student under scrutiny amended the error immediately. While some of the boys stole a glance, or even a smile, while the five of us photographers moved among them, they kept alternately reading and chanting as they had done before we entered the room.
It was an incredible scene to photograph. Made all the more enjoyable as it was a window into the normal, daily lives of these young monks. Definitely a world away from Canada and it set a very high bar photographically for the tour, coming on the first day at the first location we visited. Hats off to Art Wolfe, Gavriel Jecan and our guide, Win-Kyaw Zan for this and many other great cultural locations.
I returned from Myanmar with several thousand images to work through. I was able to spend a fair amount of time editing while on the road but it has still taken a while to start ordering the different subjects into some cohesive groups. The first one that I have completed is a set of graphic art style images made of the fishermen on Inle Lake. I have made this into a book and am expecting my proof copy within a couple of days.
First, a little detail about Inle Lake, Inle is located in Shan state in central Myanmar and is at an altitude of 2800 feet. The lake is about 14 miles long, 7 miles wide and has an average depth of seven feet (up to twelve in the rainy season) and is roughly 50 square miles in area. It is large, shallow and filled with reeds that sit just under the surface – I never saw the bottom of the lake during our three days spent completely in boats and stilt buildings on the water. There are about 70,000 people living on and around the lake. Most live in stilt homes of all shapes, sizes and condition. The streets to all of the villages, large and small, are predominantly canals. While I was there, the dry season was in full swing and the water levels were very low which had the largest visible impact on the small villages where there narrow canals were just mud in many places. Dredging was constant and, beyond a bit of rerouting and a few pushes from friendly villagers, our boats weren’t impeded too much.
The fishermen ply their trade all around the lake and the river mouths. They all work off small, flat hulled oar powered boats that they stand in back to navigate and then fish off the tip of either end of the boat. Most fishermen man their boats alone but occasionally I saw two fellows partnering on one skiff. The boats are mostly made of teak wood and are about 15′ long and maybe 3′ wide. What draws particular attention, is their method of rowing. They stand up using one leg to balance on the canoe, wrap the other leg around their long oar and propel their boat using a kicking motion. When they are intent on moving quickly, they keep one hand on the top of the oar and then drive oar wrapped leg hard which results in them moving pretty fast. While fishing, they hook the oar with their leg so that they are free to fish using both hands and can still maneuver their craft with a high degree of dexterity. They fish using a tall, conical net which they drop into the water when they see fish directly below them. Once in place, they push it down into the ground with one foot, keeping the other foot on the canoe, and then use a spear to skewer the fish through a hole at the top of the net which sits above the waterline. It is a wonderful display of balance and strength as these men work from early in the pre-dawn, through the day and into dusk. There are a number of species in the lake that the fishermen catch. Of these, the Inle Carp is abundant and forms a staple of the lake people’s diet.
I will post a blog of the lake people, detailing the lives lived on Inle in pictures but in this series, I wanted to play with the constantly changing shapes and compositions of these men as they worked the lake. I focused on the angles and patterns created by the fishermen, the boats and the nets. To create the graphic effect, I overexposed the shots while I was on the lake, then converted the images into black and white and adjusted the contrast in Adobe’s Lightroom later. Shooting early in the morning, I worked in low contrast light mostly and was able to eliminate the horizon, the surrounding hills and other distracting background elements in camera via the overexposure approach. These men were concentrated on the fish but tolerated our presence. We provided the men photographed with a tip as we shot them for almost a half an hour. They were not distracted by the cameras and I was pleased to be able to capture their regular movement which I found very appealing.
more to come…