Ruined Dam

Dam
Abandoned hydro electric dam Sony A7 II 16mm, F8

Over the Winter I have found it very difficult to find things to shoot. Especially because everything is covered in the same white blah… This has made me examine places around me that might make for good subjects.

One place I have discovered is a great abandoned dam, that has been converted into a park!  Looking like some ruined civilization, this place looks great in the Winter as well as the Summer. With lots of photo ops. It’s amazing how much can be found right in your backyard if you look hard enough. And one thing I have to remember, is that is something is familiar to me, that doesn’t mean it will be to someone else. And having your own take on a location is worth it’s weight.

One cool thing to note about this one, is it was taking in almost complete darkness. Now the A7 II is not the best and most toted Sony camera in dark conditions. And you do get a large amount of chroma noise. Especially with a long exposure time. This one was 10 minutes long!!! It does take a little cleaning up in Ps or Lr. But when the sun goes down before you can get to a local… What are you supposed to do! Thank god for in camera levelling 😉

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Sunset #2

Sunset-2
Sunsets at the beach Canon 5D II 15mm, F16

Winter is almost over, and I can start thinking about going outside again. Winter here in Canada can be pretty rough. And long! But when it comes to Summer we have it made. This is a fantastic time to get out and shoot. For nature people like myself, it’s particularly amazing. Sunrise starts around 5 in the morning, and doesn’t go down until around 10 at night. So making the most of the days is paramount.

This is one of my favourite places to shoot in the Summer. And sunsets always make great shots 🙂

This is a really wide shot from up on a boulder. I love how the forced perspective gives an even grander sense of scale. The other thing I tried to focus on here is the colour. I love colour in my photos. Rarely do I process in Black and White. Not to knock it, I just really appreciate the warmth it can bring. Makes things pop a little more.

Glacier Fields

Glacier-Cloudy
Cloudy days in the mountains of Glacier National Park Canon 5D II 21mm, F8

One of the toughest things I find when going out to take photos, is weather. it can really mess with your plans something fierce! You plan and plan to be somewhere at a given time, only to find that mother nature has her own plans for you. What do you do? Go home? Well yeah sometimes… But most of the time no 😡 So you try and make the most of it only to get home and realize all your shots are grey and lifeless. This is a problem. Fortunately through the miracle of photoshop you can pull some life back out of that limp sky. And draw something new out of your photo that wouldn’t be possible during a sunny afternoon.

I like to accomplish this using just the curves adjustment tool in Ps or Lr. I can really do wonders with the contrast between the clouds that is not visible to the naked eye. It also helps as I always say, to bracket your shots. This way you can have an underexposed shot for the sky, and another one for this like the foreground, and other elements of interest.

The Watchman

The-Watchman
The Watchman stands resolute Canon 5D II 21mm, F

Standing high in the distance in a familiar site to anyone visiting the Zion national park in Utah. The Watchman mountain is to Zion, as Half Dome is to Yosemite, or even Old Faithful to Yellowstone. I had the pleasure of sleeping in the campsite beneath it, and it was amazing.

My friend and I had a few days traveling around the canyon taking photos and doing some crazy hikes. One in particular, the Angel’s Landing hike, is something I think everyone visiting the park should consider trying. It really is an endurance test. And if your totally out of shape like I am, it can be down right death defying!!!

Something I always find incredible when we talk to rangers in the parks, is the true power of nature that makes up these magical places. The river, quietly running through the park, can be turned to one of the most dangerous forces in the blink of an eye. It claims many peoples lives a year because of a hike they affectionately call “The Narrows”. Which is essentially a hike through shallow water in the gorge going up river. But if it starts to rain far off in the distance, the water can build and travel at tremendous speeds. Catching anyone in the tunnel completely unaware with very little to grab onto. The evidence of this is scattered all over the bank of the river where whole, mature trees, have been ripped right out of the ground with root still attached. Scary stuff.

I prefer to sit under the watchful eye of the Watchman, drink my Polygamy Ale, (Which is hilarious that they have this!) and watch the stars roll by.

Antelope Canyons

 

The-Tower
The towering sandstone of Antelope Canyon Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

One of the most photographed places of all time. Well, if you happened to live in North America anyway. But still a place that everyone should have the fortune to visit. It really is one of the most otherworldly sights I have ever seen.

A friend of mine and I arrived in Page Arizona the night before hoping to get a room at a hotel, or camp site, or whatever was available. No such luck. We were told that it was Summer. And if we had not reserved 3 months ago, than too bad. So we ended up camping in a camp site I can only describe as a parking lot. Parking lot that cost $20 a night! What a waste. We should have found the nearest Walmart and parked there. Wouldn’t be the first time 😉

The next morning we were told by a local coffee shop that if we didn’t head out at 8am we would miss our chance to be in the canyons by midday. Which is the best time to be there. So we slammed back some espressos and booked it to the canyons, which are about 10 minutes outside of town. Got in line with what seemed like every French tourist you could find in America, and waited.

After getting all worked up, we ended up being the first group of the day! Which was awesome because the guides were in great moods. They told us to pay the $5 Navajo passport pass, and that we would have about 45 minutes in the canyon as they guided us through. This was not going to be enough time for us…

We stuck to the back of the pack and let everyone go ahead… Far ahead. Next thing we knew there were group after group passing us, watching for tripod legs as they went. And one by one we started to pick up stragglers that caught on to what we were doing. After about 3 and a half hours we had a little group of our own. Going back and forth through the canyon, taking hundreds of shots. Teaching each other, learning from each other, and having a blast! Even our first guide came through at one point and said “You guys are still here! I’ll come back with some sleeping bags I guess…”

One note about shooting in places like this. You will want to get the clearest shots you can, so I recommend a tripod. This is one of the few, tight enclosed places that, last time I checked, you are able to bring one. Even though everyone has them, there is a certain amount of respect that comes with using it. Especially if hundreds of people are passing you. And even though you are in a small space, sometimes the focal plane goes further than you think, so I recommend a larger aperture than you are used too. I like F11, Or 16. These are usually the sweet spots on most lenses, and will give you the clearest view with the most in focus.

Monument Monoliths

Monument-Panorama
Light shoots through the clouds at Monument Valley Canon 5D II 70mm, F16

On a list of places you always read about but never get to visit, Monument Valley Arizona certainly topped my list. And it turns out that I got there just in time for some amazing clouds as a storm was rolling through. Which I hear is very rare.

And the people you meet in these places can be equally as fascinating. One such Japanese man struck my friend and I particularly interesting. He didn’t speak English, but he was taking photos, and we had that understanding that comes along with that. And we were certainly waiting for the same thing. The Golden hour seemed like it was going to be an amazing one. But with the storm, and the clouds, the window was getting narrower, and we could see the disappointment forming on his face.

When the clouds did break, there was about 10 minutes to get as many shots as possible with this great light blasting in from the side. Lighting up the red rocks in way we could have only hoped for. But when it was done you could see in our new friends face that he was not satisfied. We dubbed him the saddest man in America. It was even more impactful because he couldn’t convey it in words. But at least we able to make a connection and brighten his day a little. I hope 😮

Majestic Mountains of Glacier

Glacier-Mountains-3
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

Sacred-Land-2
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

St.-Mary-Falls
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.