The Abyss of Chaak Tun

 

Cenote
Deep in the Chaak Tun cenote Canon 5D mark II 21mm, F16

If you are ever travelling to Mexico and want to know what the best beaches are, or highest rated hotel to stay at, I have no clue. I honestly don’t put much thought into that. But if you are looking for some get away places that are more of the bucket list type than the relaxing, I might have some suggestions.

This place was one of mine. Not the location specially, as I visited many cenotes while on the East coast of Mexico. But the caves themselves are some of the most otherworldly places I have ever been. Being able to swim and travel through underwater cave systems was like something out of a National Geographic. Truly spellbinding. And I don’t use that term lightly, or often!

The unfortunate part of these magical places, is that they are all on private land. It’s the equivalent of striking oil in your backyard. And as so, most of these wonders are subject¬†to amusement park type theatrics. Which as you can imagine, lessens the experience greatly.

The reason I chose to visit this one is because it was the most beautiful and untouched of all the ones I had researched. But because they are on someones property, you are not allowed to wonder around and take all the pictures you want. Especially with a tripod!

So I put on my best smile and very politely asked the guide who was taking us through if I could go back and take a photo. He reluctantly said yes and we ran back in ninja style! Grabbed a few shots and got out while my wife and kids distracted the owners with theirs undeniable cuteness.

Rolling Prairies of Manitoba

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The rolling prairies of Manitoba SONY A7 II 21MM, F16

I feel like no blog would be complete without a little slice of my home. Though not very interesting at times, you are bound to get the best shots of your life from your own backyard based on pure volume of shots. I find this to be more true the more I shoot.

This one was a case of sitting at home watching the weather get worse and worse. Then my wonderful wife Diana says to me, “Hey it looks like a storms coming, why don’t you go outside and take some pics?” She knows me very well ūüėČ And she was right!

I tried really hard to get one of those great lighting strike shots you only hope for in your career. And I didn’t… But I still sat out there for a good 3 hours watching the storm come in, and paint the sky all sorts of wonderful golden colours. Rainbows, and every ¬†sort of nasty looking cloud you could ask for.

I also want to speak a little about composition in this one. When it comes to composition of a landscape image, it can be very difficult. Especially when your subject is something like the sky.

Here I tried to use the hay bales to my advantage. I walked around them, shooting from all sorts of angles trying to get it just right. Trying to keep focus on the wonderful shapes of the clouds, and the colours that complemented the grass so well.

Majestic Mountains of Glacier

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The majestic mountains of Glacier National Park Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

Throughout the Glacier national park in Montana, you are treated to some of the most amazing views on the planet. The only problem with lots of mountains is the lack of sun during the morning. The great sunrises of the prairies are not what you can expect in the mountains.

What you can see more often than not is the great fog that starts to float around when the temp starts to rise. In this photo in particular I really wanted to highlight the shear volume of fog that you can see rising from the valleys. It’s amazing to me that all that moisture wouldn’t even make up one tablespoon of water!

Even though this is pretty early in the morning, and the light was very even, I still felt it would benefit from the HDR treatment. I really like to do HDR’s of landscapes because of the shadow detail that you get on the trees. They seem to have a clay model type feel I really dig.

Cruising Through Navajo Land

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Navajo sacred land Arizona Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

Where Utah meets Arizona is a magical place. Full of amazing rock formation that have the most otherworldly look to them. Getting to some of them to take a great pic was a more challenging thing than I realized when I first planned my trip there. And for someone from Canada, it was hotter than I anticipated. A lot hotter!

This shot was something of an anomaly for me as a landscape photographer. Normally my process involves setting up my tripod, spending some time focusing and working the exposure, and finally, taking a few bracketed shots to blend later.

Here I did none of those things. This shot involved nothing more than a good camera strap, and me hanging out a car window going 75mph down the highway… Not recommended. But when you see the shot you want, I suggest you take it. Even if it means pushing your iso to 2000 in the middle of the day.

 

St Mary’s Falls

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Water flowing from St.Mary’s Falls Canon 5DII 21mm, F11

When I head out on my random road trips, I seem to always end up in the mountains. I guess it’s the prairie in me that strives for something higher than… well anything higher than a tree I guess. One of the great places I like to find myself is Glacier National Park in Montana. It really does seems to have it all. And every time I go I try and find new little corners I haven’t been before. One such corner is the St. Mary’s Falls trail.

I knew I wanted to see it early in the morning as the light might be a little more even, considering it is pretty tree covered. As well as getting to see such a quiet place without all the Summer crowds that come along with such great parks. The only concern I had with all of this is, of course, the bears. If you know me at all, you will know (or will get to know) I am afraid of bears. Most people are afraid of smaller things like bugs and snakes. But a bear will EAT you. That’s not cool…

That morning I found myself walking down the trail talking to myself very loudly about anything I could think of. After a while I just started talking to the bear, I was sure was out there listening. Before running into my first sign of life. A really nice couple from New Zealand who were in the park with their daughter that was about to get married to a guy from Montana. Crazy world we live in.

After we reached the falls I picked up another straggler that was also afraid of the furry threats lurking in the forest, and decided to tag along with me for the remainder of my journey. I was happy about this because he was better equipped to handle the danger than I was.

Once we were done with our shooting, and patted each other on the back for not getting eaten, we made our way back to the road. Well, what they say about getting turned around in the woods is a real thing. And the trail we thought would take us back to our cars, was not the one we were on. needless to say we had to hike it back another 40 minutes to the parking lot, laughing about how stupid we are the whole way. If there’s a better way to make friends, I’d like to hear it!

Fog pouring over Sylvan Lake

Sylvan-Sunset
Fog pours over Sylvan Lake Sony A7II 35mm, F16

This Summer I had the great fortune of visiting one of the many spots on my bucket list for American National Parks. Sylvan Lake South Dakota.

 

My wife is a big fan of the National Treasure movies, so this was a big win. Everybody who was there was telling us where everything was filmed. It was pretty cool. And my 13 year old daughter was brave enough to climb that bigger formation on the right. It doesn’t look that high, but I assure you it was a tougher climb than I thought it would be!

 

This is such a cool place. It is such a peaceful lake high in the Black Hills. Somewhere around 6100 ft! We were also really lucky to get that really cool fog pouring out of the grass when it started to get colder.