Saturday, April 30, 2011

Keepin It Simple | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Some photographers will tell you that you should do things their way, or that there is really only one true way to create an image. Others will say you need a ton of experience before you can really get amazing images. Some say immersion only and some say deliberate "trophy hunting" is the way to go when photographing landscapes. Some tell you to shoot color frames and convert to monochromatic in Photoshop and some tell you it's only real if it's done in camera.

If you want my opinion, I don't really give a $#!t. Photography is so many different things to so many people. If you spend your time in PS then maybe your a graphic artist. Or maybe it's your darkroom "developer". Maybe you are a master in camera and maybe some people think the image should remain pure. Maybe your images are heavily worked in post, does that make them "unreal"?

No, none of that matters to those of us who are enjoying what we do. It's all about being out there and being excited about getting a cool image. At least that 's what it is FOR ME. I am not interested in telling you whats right and anyone who does is full of $#!t. What I will tell you is create how you like to create, be free to express yourself. Shoot more than you have time for and then shoot some more. Try something different everyday, and never stop learning. Just make sure your the first one to be happy with your work, because you will never be able to make EVERYONE else happy all of the time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Badlands Test Trip | Landscape Photography

So on Saturday I had a flash of inspiration and decided that I would spend 36 hours in Dinosaur Provincial Park photographing the landscape and fully immersing myself in the environment. I left town on Sunday night in order to possibly shoot a sunrise so I had a pretty good idea I would not sleep much. This time around I had intended to use as a test to see how I would do and if I could be inspired enough to let my creativity overcome my traditional eye.

It didn't take long before I started to see things differently, not too mention recently learning how monochromatic photography can be your friend during the toughest lighting of the day. It was extremely exciting to photograph the way I saw things and imagined them. I broke a lot of traditional photographic rules and came back with things that I wanted. Once I was in the mode to shoot for myself and not just something marketable, I just became someone else. Time slowed down, shapes and patterns started to emerge, and everything I could see now had an artistic weight to it that gave it balance within the frame.

This was an amazing experience for me and I have a lot of editing to do on the final images so stay tuned for a gallery from this trip. Some of these images here are posted as previews. Click on any image to see it larger.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Micro Gravity | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

I hope everyone had a great Easter! My Easter weekend ended with an aerial photo job for a friend this afternoon above Crossfield. It was just a quick shoot for some land but we couldn't get into the air without having a bit of fun. The first frame was my camera floating in zero-G's at the top of our parabola. The second frame was .4 seconds later when my long lens came off the seat to join the rest of the floating objects.

The evening will finish off with me packing for a 36 hour photo trip into Dinosaur Provincial Park. I will be journaling as I use this time to get a feel for the area and get ready for a multi day landscape session I plan to do later in the year. Looking forward to getting a lot of great images.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pack Review | Contejour 40 by Clik Elite

I have wanted to write a quick review on this pack for sometime now and I think the last 5 months of winter kiting abuse is enough time to get the feel for it. Let me start by saying that I have nothing to do with Clik Elite besides tracking them down and having this pack shipped right from their base in the US.I hadn't heard of this company until I stopped in at The Camera Store and was introduced to some of the smaller product line. I quickly looked them up on the net and found a pack that was not offered in Canada (at the time).

I received the pack at the beginning of December and was immediately impressed with the durable and smart construction. Clik promotes their gear as designed for adventure photographers and it is quite apparent that this is not a weekend pack or commuter bag (unless that's your thing). I won't go into a lot of detail here as you can get good info from their site but the few important things to note about construction were the placement of cinch straps and buckles. From the first time I put this pack on I felt like I had been wearing it for months. This is smart, no pack should need to be broken in if you can put the shoulder and hip straps in the right place. Another confident feature is the buckles. When I was shown a smaller product at THS in Calgary, the sales guy bent the crap out of one of the buckles and it just sprung back into place. These buckles are very ply able in the cold and the best part; every time I grab them to clik them together with thick gloves on, they snap into place easily. In fact all straps and releases are very manageable with gloves on and simple to use.

The Camera block inside fits a pro body with 70-200 mounted on it, room for another zoom and a wide. There is also a little ditty bag for loose stuff and one of the features that sold me; a full length zippered opening at the back pad. This is were a good sports pack should open up. It is super secure and if you don't want to open from the back pad there is a side zipper to access your camera quickly while the bag swings from your shoulder. All parts of the bag that bear weight or touch your body are compressed foam, extremely comfortable, and the zippered door will hold a mid sized blatter for hydration. There is a top accessed rear compartment with pockets for batteries or CF cards, and a few other things.

About a week after I got the pack I took it into the side country at Sunshine Village and managed to stuff a 10m traction kite (picture above) into the full length compartment behind the camera block. Anytime I had the pack on it sat low and comfortable and even with the aluminum stay in the center, it never bothered the back of my helmet at all. I was impressed with how much I could get into it even though I prefer to go light. But it IS a camera pack so I always have a minimum to bring. Right now I have a pro body with 24-70, 70-200, 10-22, 1.4 ext, full filter kit, cards, notebook, releases, and gloves in the pack at all times. it is now my grab and go pack for going into the back country, shooting commercial work, or just taking a back road to do some landscapes. I could go on but like I said, check out Clik Elite's site (see the links), everything about the pack is amazing. Maybe the only change I would make is changing the shape of the center compartment so it is deeper and splitting it with a zippered divider.

Like most photographers I have dozens of bags, and none of them are perfect. The Contejour is the closest thing to the perfect bag and if your into adventure lifestyle photography, this is the perfect bag for you. If you have any questions about the bag itself, send me an email and I will try to answer it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time Travel | Nocturnal Landscape Photographer

Well tonight I had some time so I decided to travel for an hour south and see how the Big Rock Erratic in Okotoks was doing. It was still close to full moon and although I prefer to shoot a few days before the full moon, I just wanted to get out.

This image was shot while the moon was about 30 degrees in the sky and behind me as I was facing North West towards Calgary (2-1/2 minute exposure at 11:30pm). The funny thing was that every time I tried to get this shot, there was a couple of young girls and a guy walking around on top with flashlights. Soon after I got this shot, the moon was lost in overcast skies.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Look | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

As you can see there is a new look to the blog (for now). The last week I have had issues with my image host and today I have cut ties totally with them. A year back I had hacked my page so I could host larger images on this page and even though they looked great on my giant screen, some folks could not view them properly. For the time being I will be using this format (click the image if you want to see the larger image), but feel free to comment on it. I always appreciate everyones input on what we are bringing to the public.

Above is a recent image I managed to grab while I was wrapping up my latest Evolution Workshop.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Still A Great Day | Adventure Lifetyle Junkie

Photographing kiteskiing can be a bit of a challange. When the wind and conditions are good you can get some amazing stuff. But when conditions are bad, everything can go bad fast.

Last night I took Ross Nimmo and Ray Schmidt out to Spray Lakes for one last shoot. This time I had hoped to shoot at dusk and get some dramatic light to go with some commercial looking action shots. We arrived on the lake just after a small squal had come through and while launching it looked promising. The key word here is promising...

But like the bi-polar misfit that Spray is, we were handed a second storm instead. Ray and I had made it across to the huge dome of ice on the west side when we both got slammed but 20 km plus gusts. I tried to park my kite but had to release the primary safety in order to get it down. In minutes I was packing the kite up so I wouldn't lose it when Ray walked up and over to my position, without his kite. I asked him if he managed to park his when he reached down to his waist, started to swing the chunk of bar and yelling, "it's gone"!

Ray had apparently released his primary safety as well but his kite never fully depowered, dragging him about 30 meters across the crusty snow before the barddesintergrated. His kite was gone, for real. With no way to stay anchored to Ray, the kite would be somewhere down wind along the length of the lake.

I managed to reset my kite, relaunch, and tow Ray back to the original launch point on the East side of the lake. Once there, Ross and I decided to ride a down-wind cruiser to sweep for the now lost kite and meet Ray somewhere on the North end. Ross found the kite and we met up with Ray but by this time we were done and the wind would still not cooperate with us. We were done.

Sometimes I spend a lot of time and money to get out to produce some images and once in a while things go bad. Sometimes I come back with nothing. Actually I can't say nothing, each time I am in the mountains it's not really bad. Even when things go bad, gear gets wrecked, and I get no great shots, I am still in the mountains. As long as no one gets hurt, a bad day in the mountains is still a great day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is This Work? | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Well I just received a few new assignments from AirdrieLIFE magazine today and I will be ramping up with the photography season starting this week. Time to go back to work but it's been great having so much time lately to work on my landscape and fine-art work. I am looking forward to develop it while I am in the mountain or on location creating commercial images.

Again, was I blessed to have another great sunset or did I just make sure I was out there working for it? I think a lot of both.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

292 and 30 | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Last few days I have been busy going out to Waiparous to make some repairs at the camp and yesterday smashed the front of the van during our 24 hour snowmagedon. Needless to say I needed to get out and shoot something.

I found a great spot last week and came back this afternoon to test my composition and see if it was going to work. By 7 pm I was back at the location and waited as the sun dipped behind the foothills near Madden. This time I worked the spot but I am glad I did, it is nice to pre-visualize and pull off a shot like this. Immersion is awesome; I love it but I also want to be able to prep for an image I see in my head. I am hoping this will make my commercial work stronger and it gives me an idea of what will and will-not work in a scene.

Lost Icon | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Here is one landscape you will never see like this again.

Two weeks ago I was scouting the Valley east of Drumheller and stopped by the HooDoos to check their condition. When I pulled up there was a construction fence across the front and a notice that the area was under construction in order to protect the site from further damage. It seams that through natural erosion and the public climbing on them, they have started to deteriorate quickly.

It is really too bad that now something that was an icon needs to be covered in fences and barriers to protect it. Very ironic. I wonder how people would feel if we did that to some of the more frequented places in the Rockies. Maybe it wont be long. These amazing natural landscapes will soon no longer be great to photograph.