I am so stoked that one of my pictures from Beakerhead was picked up by one of my favourite websites/blogs of all time, My Modern Met! I have religously browsed through this website almost every day when I have a bit of downtime and to have one of my photos on that site, is truly an amazing experience!
Check out the article below;
If you ever want any inspiration or just want to look at some amazing work from around the world, check out their website. I absolutely love it! I will have more Beakerhead photos up in the next little while… and if you have no idea what the hell I am talking about, I will give you a little background on it too 🙂
May 1st in Canada was Victoria Day this year. After a fairly mild winter, I was excited to be able to get out and go for a hike out in the mountains. Being the romantic I am, I figured what better way to celebrate the holiday than to head out to Victoria Glacier on Victoria Day. The icing on the cake is that my home state in Australia is Victoria. It’s enough Victoria to make you sick!
I decided I wanted an early start and so I camped out in the back of the Jeep the night before out in the carpark so I could beat the crowds. I love sleeping in the back of that thing. I usually have something to eat, do a bit of reading, listen to some music and have a beer or two. I took full advantage of being out there too by taking a few photos of Lake Louise in the middle of the night that you can see here.
Being spring time, the majority of the lake was still frozen but that didn’t stop taking a few snaps. Check out the mountains in the distance, the one in the centre that you can see is Mt. Lefroy. That is roughly where I would eventually hike to, just over 7 kms in the distance. The final distance return, being just over 14kms. My longest hike yet and one that left me a little sore but was totally worth it!
The walk around Lake Louise is a pleasant one, especially at that time of day. The lake can be so busy and crowded with tourists, climbers and hikers that it really was magical to walk around with barely anyone else there. The air was crisp and it looked like I was going to get in a really beautiful day. Below you can see the view from the other side of the lake, next to where the glacier meltwater runs into the lake. From that point, I did not see another person until on my way back hours later!
It wasn’t too bad of a hike, well for someone in the physical condition that I am in, it certainly gave the lungs the a bit of a workout but for any regular hiker, I would imagine it to be a piece of cake. The views along the way were spectacular. I loved the entrance way into the thick forest below. Slowly making my way towards the glacier it was a cool little part of the hike that I couldn’t help but take a photo of.
Once I got through the trees, I could see the start of the lower glacier. It was an awesome site, with huge moraines on either side of the valley where the once mighty glacier would have carved its way through the mountains. Th walk along the ridge line was tight with them towering a few hundred feet above the glacier below as you can see but it really was exhilarating! Mount Lefroy which was once in the distance was now drawing ever closer and for the first time, I could see these mountains are actually different to how they look from the shores of Lake Louise. The whole time as I walked along the ridge line, I was imagining just how mighty this glacier once was to leave such scars behind.
It was cool to look back on how far I had hiked. In the distance, I could see a frozen Lake Louise and the huge chateau now just a tiny little object in the distance.
Nearly there! Mount Lefroy to my left with the lower glacier covered in snow below and Upper Victoria Glacier straight ahead. Such an epic view!
The Death Trap and Abbot Pass pass separate Mount Lefroy and Mount Victoria with the Upper Glacier sitting on top. Would you believe me if I told you there is actually a hut that sits between the two mountains? Maybe another time I will have to try make my way out there…
I took this last photo on my hike back. If you look closely, you can see people just beginning to walk along the ridge line on the moraine. I thought it was a perfect way to show the sheer size of these mountains. A majority of the photos I feel just don’t show the pure magnitude of the mountains but those tiny little people illustrate it perfectly!
I am happy I got to go on this hike at the time of year I went. It was absolutely magical! Although in some spots, as you can see above there was some walking through snow but the majority of the hike was fairly well compacted which didn’t make it too difficult to walk through. It was only the last 1.5kms where I could tell only a couple of people had trekked to get to the final lookout where I found myself waist deep in snow. Not great after hiking a couple of hours but some very well needed exercise for this guy!
Looking forward to the next adventure!
If you have been to Lake Louise, no matter what time of year it is, then you know just how busy it can get. For something different, I thought I would check it out at night, as in past midnight and what a different place it is. Quiet, peaceful, serene, still, hauntingly beautiful… how many more words basically meaning the same thing can I use to explain it. With the exception of a couple of other photographers with the same idea as me and a couple of night owls strolling around the pathway from the chateau, the difference literally was night and day.
The stars were out in their millions and the was a perfect crispness in the air without it feeling too cold. Once of those beautiful mountain nights.
I really love the beauty within the desert.
These cactus’ were stunning! With their bright red flowers at the tip of each towering ‘arm’. This Ocotillo was roughly 12 feet tall. It just so happened that we traveled through Joshua Tree NP at the right time as these only flower for a month or so each year.
This is one of my favourites from our road trip.
It has been a while since I have added some new photos to my website. I have been taking photos, don’t worry about that, I have just been so busy these past couple of months. So much going on! I have been keeping fairly up to date on my Instagram account though so feel free to check it out and follow along.
For the last 3 years, Ash and I have been going down to California for Coachella every April. This year, we thought we would get down there a day earlier and camp overnight at Joshua Tree National Park which is only an hour or so from Palm Springs. It was such a great decision and I am so happy we did it. It is an incredible area to explore.
These photographs are from Arch Rock. It is a really cool spot off the main road around the White Tank Campground. There are huge rocks and boulders littered all over the place, each in its own unique size and shape. We were like two little kids jumping from boulder to boulder, walking through little slot canyons and climbing amongst them all.
Just to give perspective at how big Arch Rock really is, I thought I would post a photo below with Ash standing by. The top photo is from sunrise while the photo with Ash is the afternoon before.
More to come.
I really like the graininess and overall mood of this one. Taken out on the street out the front of my house.
Have a great weekend everyone.
One thing that I have always loved since being a kid, was exploring. Living just a 5 minute walk down a hill from my parents house along the fence-line of a golf course and down to what we called ‘the creek’ (it was in fact the Lerderderg River, in Bacchus Marsh), I would make my way through all the overgrown bushes and tall gum trees and follow the trails, swim in the pools, look for frogs and tadpoles and build tree houses and forts.
A big part of that little kid inside me comes alive when I head into the mountains. I love all the big attractions along the highway but I really finding new places, a little further away from the main roads.
This photo is from the old coal mining ghost town in Banff National Park called Bankhead. During the summer months when the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive circuit is open, its extremely easy to get to there is even a car park right there. During winter though, it is about a 2km walk along the ice/snow covered road, used as a wildlife corridor (from November to April) to get to the site of the former town.
What drew me to this spot was it being a new and unique view of Mt. Rundle. I hadn’t seen too many photos of this place in the winter either so I thought it would be a great spot to check out.
I arrived just before the sun started disappearing behind the surrounding peaks and stayed a few hours until the stars really came out and shone so brightly. I think it would be a great spot to come to out to at night during the summer months when the Milky Way is at its best.
Above is a shot as the sun is setting and the photo below is as the stars began to show. The subject in the foreground is a fireless compressed air locomotive used to bring the coal out of the mines.
Tonight was like any other week night in good old Calgary town. Come home from work, listen to some tunes, cook dinner, watch TV then bed. The 1 difference though is that Ash and I caught an amazing light show between TV and bed. The Northern Lights.
It all came about from me checking a Facebook group set-up for people in Alberta called the Alberta Aurora Chasers. (You can find the group here.) I usually check it a few times a night to see if there looks to be a chance of an Aurora show. Most nights when there is activity, it usually tends to be a week night and I know it’s going to kill me the next day so I play it safe and stay home. The other nights that there is actually activity, it is usually overcast. This time I didn’t want to risk it and Ash was happy to come along too.
We headed north east of the city out of the city lights and just as we got off of the freeway we could see a faint arch. We kept driving until we found a place to stop, got out of the car and just stood there in awe as they danced before our eyes. They were the brightest I have ever seen them. It was amazing to share that moment with Ash.
I grabbed my camera, found my subject and my spot but the lights were a lot more faded and washed out than when we first arrived but you know what, I didn’t care because it was still an amazing show. I was pretty happy with what I ended up with. I hope you enjoy it too.
…watch out for those Trolls!
“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn” – David Russell
It has been way too long since I have been able to get out and see a decent aurora show…
It seems like every time the data is looking good for a show, a good show anyway, that the clouds always want to spoil the party. Oh and of course, the day before and after, we always seems to have beautiful cloudless nights.
Here is one from February 2014. 12 months is too long between drinks!
Another shot from this night out is up in my gallery. This is another one from that same night but playing around with my foreground a little to make it look like gigantic green flames are burning the tree on the side of the road. A great night out despite the clouds trying to ruin the party and a near full moon. Fingers crossed we get some action soon. That may even mean heading up north to Yellowknife to chase them down.
Big love to all of my beautiful friends and family in Australia. Would have loved to have been there with you by the pool, on the beach or at the Big Day Out having a few beers but this will just have to do…
I find I am getting more and more adventurous living out here in Canada. More specifically, Alberta. I guess you could say that this relates to my last post about wanderlust but I am loving getting out there and exploring new places whether it is by myself or with others, it doesn’t matter. As long as I am getting out there and seeing new things. These photo’s took a bit of work to get to, nothing crazy but a bit more than parking in the lot and shooting from the viewing platform. I got some great guide books from the area that I have been able to find some places that have caught my eye so I look forward bringing them to you in 2015.
I had a fire by the Elbow River while I waited for the sun to set last week. The shots in my last post were from this same location. The first photo is looking towards the falls, you can just make them out in the background. The second photo below is actually looking the other way, a shot not too many people take but with the stars shining so brightly towards the east, I couldn’t help but take a couple of photos. For this image below, i keot the shutter open for 1min 30secs. You can see how much the stars move in that time as the earth turns. Adds something a little different I think.
I had a weekend to myself this past one that went by and after the craziness of the holiday season, I have to admit I was looking forward to spending it doing absolutely nothing… Those of you who know me well will agree that being lazy comes a little too naturally for me and that it shouldn’t have been too much of a stretch for me 🙂 The problem for me though, is that over the past year or so I have developed somewhat of a condition;
Yes, yes I know it is one of those overused words that everyone throws out there and one that everyone, especially in 2014 probably saw splattered over a photo of the PNW but I have to say that it’s real. The main culprit in my case that causes it is Instagram, my new obsession! I find myself browsing through photos as I did this weekend and I start to feel an urge that I need to get outside, get off my damn phone or computer or away from the TV and explore my backyard here. People say how much damage social media is doing to our society but for me, in particular Instagram I have found to be so incredibly inspiring. People who go on the most amazing adventures and share with us a little square of these breathtaking places, for me personally it makes me want to get out and choose my own adventure. Hence, my wanderlust.
I headed out to Elbow Falls on Sunday afternoon. Quite a popular spot for Calgarians wanting to get out of the city but not willing to go too far. It is only about 30-40 mins out. I have been there once before, the link to that post can be found here. If you take a look at that, or even Google Elbow Falls, most likely you will find an image similar to my older post as far as perspective and composition so I wanted to being a fresher angle and view. Most of the photos you see from people are from above the falls on the lookout. There is no ‘official’ track or pathway that leads down to the base of the falls so a little bit of careful manoeuvring, I was able to make my way down the gully. There were tracks in the snow I could see of other people doing it so I didn’t feel too worried. It was great to be down there all alone away from all of the crowds and so I did a bit of exploring trying to find a couple of good spots to set up my gear. There are lots of caves down there and it really was a cool spot. I decided on a couple of shots, a couple of close ups when the sun sets and also when it gets dark out with the stars glowing.
The sun set wasn’t quite what I was hoping and unfortunately I forgot to bring my spot light so I could illuminate the falls at night so I just had to wing it… I went for black and white as a change. I love B+W photography but it is not something I play around with too much. Those of you following me on Facebook or Instagram would more than likely have seen the other photo I took which I will post up later in the week.
Right now, I will show you these two. Both of Elbow Falls from the river bed underneath the oblivious tourists above. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
What a year 2014 was, it came just as quickly as it left. For me, personally it was a great year. I got in some travel, including a quick trip back to Australia to visit my amazing family and friends as well as for my 30th (including a surprise party!), got to spend yet another incredible year living with my beautiful girlfriend here in Calgary and met some great people along the way. I hope you all had just as incredible of a year.
I didn’t catch any fireworks as the new year rang in but instead spent it with some of my favourite people sitting in a hot-tub out in the snow with a fire roaring. A truly Canadian experience and one I would choose 10 times out of 10 over being out with the crowds.
I guess you can say this is my interpretation of fireworks to welcome in the new year. Taken with Zack Splaine of Zack Splaine Photography on a night we went out searching out the Northern Lights. The turned out to be a bit of a bust in regards to the Aurora but Zack brought some steel wool along and we had fun experimenting and shooting with it after tying it to rope, lighting it on fire and swinging it around. This is the same location as the photo I posted recently with the faint Aurora in the background.
I enjoyed shooting this bridge, located in Big Valley. It is a single lane steel framed wooden bridge that crosses over the Red Deer River. As you can see with this and the last shot I posted from here I had a lot of fun playing with silhouettes and minimalism.
I hope you all had a wonderful 2014 and 2015 is truly amazing for you all.
A couple of weeks back I posted a picture of Upper Troll Falls. A frozen water fall that I hiked out to for the first time. I had previously been out to see Troll Falls in the summer but that was as far as I went. Check out the link to see the difference a season makes. Its a complete other world.
After shooting at Upper Troll Falls I stopped off at Troll Falls on the way to set up a couple of spot lights behind waterfall and take a few shots. There were huge icicles that ran from the top of the canyon all the way to the bottom next to the actual frozen waterfall. You could hear the water rushing inside the ice, its a daunting figure to look at, especially at night with it lit up.
I got some great locations mapped out that I want to check out in the upcoming weeks. Come back and check them out. In the meantime, there is also my Instagram account that I upload to frequently from my phone.
The Northern Lights proved to be elusive last night, dancing between the clouds and keeping to the horizon. I headed out with the talented Zack Splaine (Check out his work here) a fellow photographer from Calgary. Our chase took us 2 hours north east of Calgary until we eventually decided to call it a night at around 3:30am.
Here’s a photo taken at the old bridge that crosses the Red Deer River at Big Valley. Will have some more pictures coming during the week, got lots to show you all.
Sometimes, you’ve just gotta pull over and appreciate what’s around you…
Castle Mountain stands a tall, lonely figure while the stars majestically waltz overhead.
It was a beautiful night last night in Banff National Park with clear skies, millions of stars, a meteor shower and the aurora. Well worth the 2:00am start.
I have been fortunate enough that in my time here in Canada, I have been able to see some absolutely stunning places. Some can be seen from the road, some take a bit of work to get to but they all have the same result. A feeling I think only people who have come to these mountains would know. It’s special!
I had an awesome adventure on Saturday afternoon/night in Kananaskis Country along the Marmot Creek and Troll Falls Trail. I will leave you with this one for now of Upper Troll Falls.
More photos and story of my trip to follow later in the week.
Just got back from a week down in Tulum, Mexico. First time for me and certainly not the last. I only really got one chance to get out with my camera but it certainly was a show at sunset.
Back to the snow in Calgary which fell as we were away.
A pine grows on a rock out on Arnica Lake in Banff National Park. It was quite interesting to see it growing like that. Truly remarkable.
I am not entirely sure what type of pine it is but if you know, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Once again, to continue with my fog phase I seem to be having is Crowfoot Mountain. The fog clouds slowly start to rise as the morning sun rises.
This little stream will run along to Bow Lake which sits at the base of Crowfoot Mountain. The lake is one of many that sit along the Icefields Parkway.
Here’s a shot of Mount Rundle, one of the more magical looking mountains in Banff National Park. This was taken at Vermilion Lakes just out of the village of Banff.
There are literally millions of photos that you can find of this mountain online, even from this exact spot but it just never gets tiring to look at and even driving through here on Highway 1, I find myself watching it the whole way past. This time I was driving back from another shoot and noticed the reflections in the lake as I was driving past. Even though this was the middle of the day, I just couldn’t resist.
Hope you enjoy.
It has just occurred to me that I seem to have an obsession with clouds, fog and lakes… Here’s another one of Peyto Lake and Mistaya Valley. With the sun rising, the clouds retreat north up and along the valley.
Such a magical morning.
The Larches are an extremely popular sight in Alberta during the fall. For those of you who don’t know what a Larch is… don’t worry, I didn’t know myself until I moved to Calgary. They are conifers, like a spruce, a fur or a pine but this time of year, they turn a stunning yellow before their needles fall in preparation for winter. Most conifers are evergreen. They look absolutely stunning!
I had been meaning to get out to see them for the past couple of years but have not had the chance up until now. A bit of planning had gone it to finding a location where I wasn’t going to be stuck fighting the crowds. I wanted to try somewhere new too. There are a lot of photographers around this part of the country but I find they keep shooting the same places so I wanted to see and show you all something different.
This was the most ambitious shoot I have attempted but I was lucky enough to have Miss Maggie-May the boxer to keep me company. It was a 11.2 km round trip and I knew in order for me to get out there to be able to enjoy it for myself that I was going to have to get out there early. I left the house at 3:30am and got to the parking lot at around 5:30am. The sun was due to rise at 7:30am so I had to start along the trail in the dark with my headlamp. It was a nice downhill trek into the fog down to Vista Lake for the first 1 km but from there on it was nothing but up hill as I climbed back out of the clouds up over the ridge of Storm Mountain. I had never really hiked that far and it was absolutely grueling (for me, probably not anyone else). I got there at around 8:00am as the sun was just showing its face. I snapped a couple of shots then did some wandering around the lake, just mesmerized by the sheer cliff face of Storm Mountain over looking this amazingly beautiful setting.
The fog caught back up to me and was meandering up the mountain and flowed out over the lake. It was incredible to watch and I got a nice series of photos of it making its way. Luckily enough though, once it hit the lake, the sun managed to burn it off so I didn’t lose my stunning landscape.
The fog rolling on to the lake adds a nice soft tone to such a majestic location. I was in absolute awe all morning… So was Maggie-May, can’t you tell?!
Hopefully you love these as much as I loved being out there and taking them. I have a few more I will post later as well as some more from my last little adventure to Peyto Lake.
Sitting, waiting patiently for the sun to rise and the clouds to disappear… What lays hidden beneath? You will just have to come stop by again to see for yourself.
Life is good!
Will we get the magnetic storm we are all hoping for? According to Soft Serve News, yes. See below;
It seems the question now isn’t whether it will hit earth or not, the question is whether it will stick around… Data already shows that we have impact. Great, except right now in Calgary it is only 4pm. It won’t get dark until 9pm-ish so that’s a few hours we need to wait and hope that it really is strong enough to keep going into night time. The next challenge though is whether these damn clouds will part! It has beena weird week in Calgary! 27 degrees Celsius on Sunday then -1 on Monday, the whole city was covered in snow, and that continued for another 3 days. Then, yesterday the first day we were expecting the Northern Lights to begin, the sky did not have a single cloud… ALL DAY! I think this got a few of us pretty excited but the storm hit us before night fell so we missed it.
It’s all about luck in this chase unfortunately. All out of our hands. Keep your fingers, toes, arms, legs and eyes crossed for tonight… If the clouds part, this could be a great show.
Above is a shot from the last Aurora I was able to catch way back at the start of the year. I missed last weeks action, hopefully I can catch something this time. It truly is an amazing sight to see. I am so lucky to have the opportunity. It just mesmerises me every time.
I will keep you all posted.
Calgary. September 8th, the snow has arrived! I feel like I should be disappointed and upset like just about everyone else in Calgary but I’m not. I was so pleasantly surprised when I heard someone mention it snowing that I got up and went out into the lobby at work just to see the snow fall. I love it.
As soon as I got home, I got changed, grabbed my camera and straight back out the door. I drove downtown to Price’s Island Park and walked around a little through the trees and along the river just taking it all in. It’s always the most beautiful when it first falls.
This is short lived though. We are expecting temperatures back in the low 20s by the end of the week. Oh yeah, for those of you not in Calgary reading this, it was 27 degrees celsius yesterday. Yup, and I thought Melbourne was bad for having 4 seasons in one day.
Just an hour out of Calgary, on the outskirts of Kananaskis Village and Nakiska Ski Resort is a short little hike to this absolute gem of a spot, Troll Falls. I got there about an hour before sunset and had the whole place to myself. I saw a couple of people on my way out there walking back but that’s it. It was magical.
You can tell the place got hit fairly hard in 2013 from the floods, with trees still arched from the impact, while others were not so lucky and have been uprooted. Despite the damage, it gives it a feel of a secret garden, hidden in amongst a large rocky canyon that wraps around and protects the whole area. I felt like being in a rain forest.
There are more falls along Marmot Creek that I am looking forward to checking out… possibly in winter when they start to freeze. Would be great to return and give a different perspective.
Takakkaw Falls is a waterfall located in Yoho National Park, near Field, British Columbia. “Takakkaw”, loosely translated from Cree, means something like “it is magnificent”. The falls are fed by the Daly Glacier, which is part of the Waputik Icefield. Its quite an amazing site to see with its highest point being 384 metres (1,260 ft) from the base.
What would you say if I told you this photograph is actually upside down?
I initially dismissed this image and didn’t think it came out too well. I was bored one night and went back through my photos to take a look through my folders from the past couple of months. The reflection came out incredibly! There is one little flaw I kept in there to tell them apart… on the bottom right you can see tree branches stretching out that didn’t make it in the reflection.
Came out quite well in the end, especially upside down.
This image above came about after fooling around with images on Photoshop. There are exposures from two entirely different places but they came together so naturally. The foreground is from a beautiful location I found north of the city whilst the other is an exposure from the south east of Calgary. Both photos were taken facing north west into the setting sun.
I don’t know about you guys, but I absolutely love how well they worked together…
The magical thing about Calgary is by far the sunsets! They are absolutely stunning as the sun set sets over the Rocky Mountains.
The photo above though is looking east. Sometimes it pays to step away from what you initially set out to capture and take a second to stop and look around. I just love that big fluffy cumulus cloud peeking over the powerlines on the valley ledge.
Below – Looking west, Calgary.
A few more photographs from my road trip through Nevada and California through Death Valley National Park to Racetrack Playa. I was disappointed that the dust storm had started to tear through when I got there depriving me of some spectacular sunset pictures but I was extremely happy that despite what felt like 100km winds pushing through the playa, that by 3:00 – 4:00am the dust had thinned out enough for me to see the Milky May arching right across the sky. It was amazing being able to enjoy it all to myself. Selfishly, it is one of the reasons I love venturing out on my own. Just that the thought of being the only person to see that particular moment in time.
In the image below you can see a shooting star to the left of the Milky Way.
I could have stayed out there and just admired it all night if it wasn’t so damn windy and cold but I was happy with the couple of shots I was able to get before calling it a night.
Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park in California. I flew 3 hours in a plane to Las Vegas, and then drove another 5 hours through the desert just to get there, sleep in a car, see some stones on a dried lake bed and then turn around the next morning to get back home… That’s over 14 hours of travel for a 12 hour stay. Crazy?
This remote, dried up, ancient lake bed sits 3,700 feet above sea level and is so damn flat. Towards the middle of the lake bed sits what would be an island, named ‘The Grandstand’. A stack of tall, jagged rocks that stick up and stand out in contrast to the bright surface of the dried up lake. It gets windy out there, I can attest to that, it was absolutely howling the whole time I was there but it has been known to get up to 150 kilometers per hour!
That picture above, that is exactly what I came for. They call them Sailing Stones, rocks that mysteriously move along the lake bed. I’m not talking about little pebbles that skip in the breeze, these rocks or ‘stones’ can range from anywhere between 25-30lbs right up to 700 pounds! You will notice in the photos, the trails or ‘racetracks’ (which gave the valley its name) out the back of the stones. It has been said that the stones only move once every two or three years and most tracks last for three or four years. If it wasn’t for these marks in the mud, we wouldn’t even know they were moving.
Since discovered in 1915, no-one has actually seen them move and so all we can do is speculate. The most likely theory is that with the playa surface being made up of very fine clay sediments, it becomes extremely slick when wet. When you put together the information I mentioned earlier about it being quite high in elevation, mixed in with the strong winds surging through, you can imagine that this would be the most likely scenario.
So as you can see, it really a fascinating phenomenon. I will leave you with one last shot I took with the stones off on their trail heading towards the Milky Way… Being so remote, the stars were absolutely incredible out there!
I absolutely loved it out there. I got to see something that I have admired and marvelled about for quite a while and I would definitely recommend everyone to try get out there if they can. It is such a great feeling to be out in such a remote part of the world and knowing you are the only person there. Truly amazing.
Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to receive notice that my new working visa had been approved. My previous visa had expired at the end of April and so I had been eagerly awaiting this new one to come through. The timing couldn’t have come much better. It was the end of the week and so I was able to sneak away for a weekend and make the most of having to leave the country.
I had been doing some research the past few months on a place called Racetrack Playa, a remote area in Death Valley in California and after checking flight loads and times, I decided this would be my destination. I flew into Vegas on the Saturday and rented myself a 4WD as I knew I was up for some long, rugged driving but I knew what I was getting myself in to so I just enjoyed being out on the road, busted out to some tunes and was looking forward to getting out to my final destination. The image below will give you a bit of an idea of the territory I covered…
The drive was amazing. It was as if I was driving through Mars. The mountains out there are dry and desolate and were always there on each side of the highway. The elevation was quite interesting too along the way. About halfway there at Furnace Creek I was driving through the lowest point of the country which was 200 feet below sea level. On the flip side as I was moving closer to the Playa the was sitting over 5,500 feet ABOVE sea level. Saying that though, I wasn’t scaling or driving over any mountains, the road just kept slowly ascending and descending without it being too noticeable.
After travelling for about 3 hours, I came to my turnoff off the highway and on to the back roads. As I said, I had done a bit of research and knew I would have to do a bit of driving on gravel roads but to my surprise, the roads were paved… That lasted only a few minutes though and I found myself driving through some pretty rough gravel roads before too long.
It was a long drive and due to the condition of the road, I didn’t find myself driving much faster than 20 mph. I passed a couple of cars coming back the other way but I loved the thought that I could possibly be out there all by myself. I had planned on sleeping out there in my car so I did secretly hope no one else would be out there and I was fortunate enough to have that come true. It was just me and my camera in the middle of absolute no-where.
A view of the road ahead of me…
I kept driving along and just when I thought it had to be around the next corner, the road just keep weaving through the mountains and valleys. There were certain areas with nothing but sand, there were others with small shrubs and cactus’ and then an area in a valley that was just full of Yuccas or Joshua Trees. It was always changing and some of the plants, cactus’ and flowers truly were beautiful to look at. Finally after driving for some time through the back roads, a sign caught my eye…
Teakettle Junction! On that sign I saw something that made me a very relieved man… No, I wasn’t thirst and in need of some tea but now knowing that Racetrack Playa was 6 miles away was extremely good to know. Weaving through those roads, it was still a fair way off but at least I now knew for sure I was on the right path and knew how far I had left to go. It made me a little at ease too as the sun was preparing to set behind the mountains and I knew I would now at least get to my destination in light so I can scope it out a bit, find some locations to shoot at night and pick a spot to park the car and camp out.
Finally, there it was. I was confident that was it in the distance and I was right!
As I was approaching Racetrack Playa, a dust storm was coming in behind me. I was hoping it wouldn’t be coming in my direction and that it was going in the opposite direction but I wasn’t so lucky. It hit just as I got to the Playa but having been through 2 dust storms in Palm Springs both times I had been there I knew at least what I was in for. Saying that though, the wind was incredibly strong and it was coming in quite thick. I just hoped it wasn’t going to settle in all night and the next morning.
The photo below is the dried lake bed of Racetrack Playa with the dust clearly visible in the background. The reason I came all the way out here was to see the Sailing Stones which I will talk more about in my next post but these stones move along the lake bed most likely due to being pushed by the wind… Having a dust storm and 80-100km/h wind push through shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.
I will leave it at this for the moment but I will be post more pictures in the next couple of days of the Sailing Stones and also some amazing pictures I am extremely happy with of the Milky Way I was able to get in the middle of the night once all the dust had started to clear away.
Thanks for following my adventures, I am very excited to bring you the rest of the photos.
See you all soon.
This image is from a couple of weekends ago when I stayed out in the mountains. The conditions were too treacherous at Bow Lake but as I drove along Highway 1 back towards Calgary I came across this spot. I pulled over and spent most of the time just enjoying being back amongst the fresh mountain air. To my surprise, out of no-where, a couple of Moose started walking towards the river. I had seen a Moose once but it was absolutely incredible to see them come out to the river and take a drink. These are the moments I have really enjoyed whilst exploring out on my own. It is cool to think that I am the only person who saw that, it really makes it special.
It has been a crazy few weeks and I have so many images to process and play around with including some from Australia too. I will eventually get to them though I am sure.
Thanks for stopping by.
I went out late last night around midnight in search of the Milky Way. It was a clear night in Calgary but as I got further west into the mountains the weather started turning. It was late and I was tired so I decided to keep going and head up to Bow Lake, camp out for the night and get up for sunrise in the morning.
I woke up in the morning to snow… a lot of snow! and it was coming down hard! I got my things together, headed out on to the lake and patiently waited for the sun to rise and the clouds to clear. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and the snow came down harder and harder.
This is the pick of bunch from this morning at Bow Lake… Let’s call it a poor man’s homage to Ansel Adams or Olivier Du Tre I did some more shooting at another location on the way home which I will get to later but now I think it’s time for a nap. I’m buggered!
I am not too sure if this really was a good idea but this photo was taken with no casing or any form of protective equipment whatsoever. A storm had just passed through so the water was calm and still with nice little clean waves coming through and breaking. I was out there with the strap around my neck, a cloth in one hand and my camera in the other. There was no-one else on the beach apart from Ash and I thank goodness as here I was out in the water with my DSLR in the ocean trying to set everything manually, running right out in front of the waves before they broke, taking the shot then quickly lifting the camera over my head and jumping as the wave was breaking. Not my smartest moment but hey, I escaped without getting my camera too wet.
Out of all the photo’s I took, none came out much better than this! This is the shot I had envisioned and what I had set out to achieve so to come out of it with my camera unscathed and getting my shot, I could not have been any happier.
What can I say, sometimes you have to put yourself out there to get what you want. That goes for photography and life in general.
I took Ash for a drive on our last day to Werribee Gorge down the road from my home town of Bacchus Marsh for some fresh eucalyptus air before we left for Canada. I was surprised to see so much water in the river as we checked out the Lerderderg River the week before and it was bone dry. Here is one of my favourite pictures from being out there complete with a huge gum tree in the foreground, the gorge in the back ground and calm river in the middle.
Hoping to upload a few more in the next week… Stay tuned.
10:30pm on a Tuesday and my phone goes off. I am already in bed, about to turn the lights off when I get an email from Aurora Watch telling me there is a 98& chnace of seeing the Northern Lights. Tempting, very tempting! After much thought, lots of checking of weather forecasts and other aurora forecasts I decided to hop out of bed and head out. I had never seen such a high probability before.
I jumped in the car with no real idea where to go as it was quite overcast but I was determined to find a spot where the clouds were broken up. Logic told me they are called the Northern Lights, drive north so I did. I drove up to Airdrie took a left at highway 567 and just headed east. The clouds were breaking up from what looked like a chinook and then I got my first glimpse of them. I was so excited! I finally get to see them again after the first time last summer.
To be truthful, I had absolutely no idea where I was going but found a cool road with plenty of little ponds and trees. It really would be a great place to shoot Auroras in the summer trying to get reflections on the water.
I wasn’t just battling the clouds, the moon was extremely bright also which was a bit of shame as it took away some of the colour of the show but I didn’t care.
I played around in a few spots, mostly capitalizing on the silhouettes of the trees. I apologise of most of these have a similiar foreground but I really loved trying to incorporate them into my shots.
It really was a beautiful night. It was around -6 but believe me, that doesn’t feel bad at all, especially with no wind. It was just me out there, just really appreciating my surroundings; the sights, the smell of fresh air and the sounds of owls in the trees and Coyotes howling.
The shot above you can see the Aurora through the trees with the orange glow of Calgary reflecting in the clouds above the city.
Unfortunately for me, I had to work the next day so wasn’t able to stay as late as I would have liked to but did stay out till 2:30am. They just seemed to be getting better and better but I knew I would regret it for the whole day if I stayed out longer. Fingers crossed the next one comes on a weekend so i can stay out longer and appreciate it that much more. It is so beautiful to see the light flickering around, dancing in the sky and pulsating above and around you. These are only tame to the shows you see up north in Alaska or North West Territories which I plan to check out at some point but they are still spectacular to see.
I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed being out there taking them.
I had the most amazing thing happen to me the other day where someone told me they saw my billboard on their way to work on Friday. It really was an awesome feeling, just knowing that my work is being displayed publicly around Calgary. I finally got a chance to see one of them this weekend. This one is downtown on 9th Avenue and 4th Street SW. Ash and I drove out there after dinner and patiently waited for the other ads to cycle through and then BAM! there it was. I could not get the smile off my face. I wouldn’t mind heading out there again and getting a better shot with the cityscape in the background but I really am glad I got to see one of them and get my photo with it. I doubt anything like this will ever happen again so I won’t to savour it as long as I can.
Of course I can;t post without mentioning the Exposure 2014 Emerging Photographer competition. There are still a couple of weeks left to vote so please do so at the link below if you haven’t already. Also, for those of you in Calgary, the winner will be announced at the festival closing party on Feb 28 the Endeavor Art Gallery from 7 – 10pm. I would absolutely love to have as many of you there as possible for what should be a fun night.
Thank you all for your love and support.
As I came home from work tonight, I felt like it had been a little while since I headed out and took some shots so as soon as I got to the house, I bundled up and went straight back out again. It has been a while since I walked through downtown and took some photos and there is an art installation on Stephen Avenue that I believe they are taking down this week so I thought I would go and check it out. It is called the ‘Solar Flare’ and kind of looks like a sputnik light. It is a cool piece! You can check out more information on it here. There was a bit of snow falling and it was a brisk -15 but it was bearable. The main hurdle I had to get over was the traffic. During the day, Stephen Avenue has foot traffic only but at night they open it up for cars. It took quite a bit of moving to the middle of the 1 lane road and back to the sidewalk again as cars, mostly cabs drove through. I tried a couple of shots with the car lights going through but it was best when there were none.
Thanks for checking it out and please, if you haven’t voted for me in the Exposure Emerging Photographer Showcase, please take a couple of minutes to click on the following link and vote for me.
I am extremely honoured to be selected in the top 10 of the 2014 VISTEK Emerging Photographer Showcase as one of the best emerging Alberta-based photographers under 30. Please take a couple of minutes to click on the link and vote for me.
I have appreciated everyone’s support and following on this site. It has really meant a lot and has driven me and got me to where I am now.
I headed downtown for a bit of shopping this afternoon and thought I may as well pack my camera with me. I finished my shopping around 5pm and was on my way back home when I caught a glimpse of the most amazing sunset in my rear view mirror. In Calgary we get chinooks and when they come in, it forms an amazing looking arch that if you are to the east of the Calgary, looks like it arcs right over the city. With the formation of the clouds and the intense orange sunset, I tried to get to a vantage point as soon as I could to the east of downtown to get some shots but I missed the incredible light show. Instead I was only able to capture the chinook arch as the sun was well and truly set… It was still a great site to see.
Below: A shot from closer downtown with the chinook arch in the background.
Another attempt at HDR photography. I headed out into the mountains again, this time in behind Canmore along the Spray Trail in Kananaskis. It was -22 when I left in the afternoon and it didn’t get much warmer! This photo was taken half way up the mountain and the wind was absolutely howling! It read -24 on my car thermometer but with wind chill it had to be close to -35. I took my glove off a couple of times on my right hand to make adjustments on my camera as I was shooting and I got absolutely punished for it. I don’t think I got feeling back in the tips of my fingers for 10 minutes. I think it was worth it though…
What do you think?
First of all, happy new year to everyone. 2013 was another fantastic year for me and I feel extremely grateful I got to share it with family and friends from Canada and Australia as well as my beautiful girlfriend. It was actually the first full calendar year I have spent abroad. 2014 is going to be even better and I am excited for what is to come. I look forward to sharing it with you all on here.
I got to finish work early yesterday and took advantage of actually coming home in daylight rather than normal when I leave work in darkness. I headed straight home, got changed into warm clothes, loaded up the car with my camera gear and headed out to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis Country. I hadn’t been there before but was keen to check it out to first of all see if it was frozen or flowing which to my surprise it was and also see where I would be able to get some shots.
There was a pathway which was closed due to it being pure ice which I still decided to take that came to a look-out but I wanted to get down on the river bank for a better position. I walked through the trees, along the cliff and fell on my ass a couple of times but just couldn’t find a way down that wasn’t going to end with me being airlifted out of there. Getting down would have been the easy part but as I was there for sunset, I wasn’t sure how long the light would hold out for and I was envisioning me trying to climb the cliff in the dark which didn’t sound too appealing to me. I settled for the look out.
I tried setting up my exposures for HDR (high dynamic range) which is 3 photographs combined in to 1. One photo is at normal exposure, one is underexposed and the other is overexposed. You can actually take photos with that function on an iPhone believe it or… Above is the result and I have to admit I was extremely happy with what I ended up with.
As always, thanks for checking out my photo and blog and I hope to see you coming back through out 2014 along with many more new faces from around the world. I was amazed to have so many people view my humble little website from 41 different countries around the globe. Absolutely amazing.
I have been itching to take out my camera since my night shots near Banff a couple of weeks back but I just hadn’t had the chance until this weekend. Ash was away for work so I decided to head out early on Saturday morning and try my luck at some more night shots out in the mountains. The forecast said there was going to be variable cloud cover but it seemed like it was going to clear up. Not only could I take shots at night of the stars, I wanted to hang around for sunrise too so I was happy to have a back-up plan in case it was overcast.
I set my alarm for 3am and surprised my myself by getting out of the house by 3:45am. Those of you who know me well, are more than aware that I am not much of a morning person but I was able to do it. Driving out there, I noticed it was incredibly dark and that I couldn’t see any stars, not a good start but I wanted to keep going anyway because I knew I would regret it if I turned back. I decided to head to Lake Minnewanka which is near Banff, I hadn’t been there before so i was keen to check it out. All I knew was that it was a long narrow lake surrounded by mountains. I got out there and it was pitch black. I could just make out the mountains but took a few long exposure shots around 30 seconds to check out my surroundings. It was not ideal at all, no stars, overcast and windy. I jumped back in the car and decided to get some sleep for a couple of hours until sunrise. I missed out on the stars but I was sure I would get a nice sunrise… Wrong! About 45 minutes before the sun was scheduled to come up, I scoped out a couple of locations and set up at the first… I took a few shots here and there and eagerly awaited the sky to light up in pinks, purples and and oranges as we normally get, that didn’t happen at all. it was like someone flicked a switch and suddenly it was daylight. The cloud cover was too thick and the sun at this time of year is too low so I got nothing I came for at all.
I took a few shots still and these two are all I had worth sharing. It was so quiet and peaceful out there, the only noises I could hear was the wind whistling through the pines and the sound of ice cracking. I wasn’t out on the ice on the lake even though it was so thick (in some places I could see it was about 10″ thick) but that sound of it cracking was a little too unnerving for me. Due to the dull light, I decided to convert them to black and white just give them a little bit of character and moodiness. A bit of a disappointing outcome (photography wise) but you can’t win them all. I did enjoy getting out there though.
On Friday night, I drove up to Canmore for a book launch for a photographer I have really looked up to and admired. Since moving over here, there are a number of photographers that I have followed who live in this region and I have drawn from their blogs and portfolios for inspiration. The book launch was for Paul Zizka (Summits & Starlight), which features his photos, mostly from Banff National Park and the Rockies. These are not just your ordinary photos from the side of Highway 1 though, they are images from some of the most remote, untouched and pristine areas of the region and as the title suggests of the most amazing mountains and peaks along with some of the truly amazing starry nights. Check out this blog post from his website for more information on the book and also check out his images on there. They truly are spectacular.
I brought my camera along with me as I bought myself some new glass during the week and I have been dying to use it. Apart from shooting the Aurora a few months ago, I haven’t really tried night time photography and with my new 14mm wide angle lens I was exited to give it a shot. If you take a look at the link in the paragraph above, you will see the cover is my inspiration for this shoot. Mount Rundle, as I told Claire, Justin and I think Mark aswell when they were all here, is the mountain they filmed the Lion King on. It is such a spectacular looking peak. As you can see though, the lake in that very same photograph on the cover of Paul’s book is fully covered in ice and snow now but I was lucky to find a little spot where you could see the ice. The rest of the lake is covered in about 30-40cm of snow. The shot above is the pick of the bunch. There was a little opening through the clouds so you can see a few stars shining through. If I arrived around 15-20 minutes earlier, I would have been lucky enough to have seen a nice starry background behind the mountain. Looking above and behind me though, there were some great sized holes in the clouds. Being out in such a remote place with only a couple of small villages around, the sky is pitch black and there are millions of stars!
The shot below is what was immediately behind me when I was shooting Rundle. You can see in that little pocket of open sky just how many stars are visable out there on a clear night. I really would like to head out there again on a night that is a little more clearer and try my hand at shooting the Milky Way.
As I said in my last post, I am looking forward to getting out there a lot this winter. Don’t forget to stop by check out what I have been getting up to. I have really appreciated all of the support and been amazed with the page views I have had. It really inspires me to get out there more and more.
Thanks for the support.