Friday, December 14, 2012

Thank-Full | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

There are only a few weeks left in this year (and if you believe the Mayan calendar, just a few days) and I have already started into next years workload. I actually finished everything on my schedule last week and didn't quite time it with Christmas. However I will still be taking a few days off to be with family and enjoy the holidays.

I went through this last years work to try to pull out some of my favourites and it really made me think of how diverse the work was and how great it was. I spent a lot of time writing and even published a few magazine articles and interviews. I met some amazing people and even made new friendships. I grew as a photographer and a part of the business community. I learned a lot, mostly about myself, and feel that I am even closer to living my passions and what I was created for.

This coming year will be a milestone year for me. I am turning 40 this year and am on track to having an amazing year. I am starting it with a huge project, I am back into filming, I am in the best shape I've been in for 10 years, my family is great, and there are lots of cool things planned. I'm pretty stoked to say the least.

I am grateful for my awesome clients this year, so many great people that I have become friends with who are now friends. I am also thankful to be friends with some of the most amazing and talented photographers in North America (the world?) and feel honoured to have worked with some (even in the least) on their projects and been given advice and critique by them. These photographers have been selfless and are doing great things for the photography community. I am blessed to have close friends who are extremely generous, who have helped support what I do and allow me to be myself. These friends have been here for our family, have taken care of our kids like they were their own, and some of them have even let me be a part of their goals and dreams. And not the least I am grateful for my crazy family who lets me be me and seems to also enjoy the ride.

Its been an adventure this year, I thank God for being so blessed. I am looking forward to this coming year and sharing the new adventure with you guys. Merry Christmas and have a great start to your new year!!!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Here And Now | Canadian Adventure Photographer

Patrice Bance breaking trail in the here and now.

On Thursday my back country partner and I skied into the Rae Glacier as a recon trip and to see if we could get the kites out for a little rip. It had snowed about 8" inches the days before and that morning it was cold and still snowing. We were more than happy to get out anyway and a bad day in the mountains is still better then a good day in the city.

We didn't have much trouble getting up to the Glacier except for some loose rock and pretty much just took our time. It was blasting up near the glacier so we turned back fairly early but the day was far from a write-off. It was so amazing just skiing through the tall timber all covered in snow. I felt at one point like I was out looking for a Christmas tree and with all the fresh snow coverage being out here took me back to when I was a kid. That's all I needed, a good workout, chance to get away from my work and the busy life, and energize my emotions and spirit.

Which brings me to my favourite place as of late, somewhere I enjoy more and more. That place is NOW. That's right, the 'Here and Now' is what I'm talking about. I love spending time in this place, it is peaceful, secure, can't be taken away and is the only thing that is tangible. Sure the places I have been to and the things I have done are cool. And those things are important to me and who I am. Just like my ideas and dreams and goals are great too, I spend quite a bit of time there as well. However the only thing that matters is right NOW. You see the past is past and is just a nice memory. It can be sweet to look back on it and even still remember the tastes and touch but it can also hurt and continue to do so if you stay there. The future on the other hand hasn't arrived yet and as much as we like to imagine wonderful promises that it holds, it can also cause us a lot of anxiety if we spend too much time there. Worrying if things will happen good or not can not extend even one minute to our lives. So really the best place is here, right now. It's hard to say how big this place is or where it borders but as we move through time and space it is the only real thing we can be a part of.

That is why I am becoming so concious of this place and admire it so much. I used to move along in this place and most of the time my mind was in the past or in the future. Problem with this is that when there is something IMPORTANT flowing through (or bumping up against) this 'Here and Now', we need to be present to get the full experience from it. This to me is truly experiencing what God and His Creation have given us to be a part of. It's enjoying an amazing trip with a good friend, it is an intimate moment with someone you love, it is listening to your kid tell you about his day, it's about pushing your personal limits, and it's about changing your life. We all have it yet a good number of us don't spend time there. This place is paradise and this place is hell and it is everywhere in between. You can choose to spend time where ever you like, but 'Here and Now' is really all you can prove to me you have. Make sure you plan a trip there soon, you will be thankful you did.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Good Vision | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

The writer and Don Bell during a circuit in the Russian designed Antonov AN2. 

I am very grateful for the opportunities that come along my path as a photographer and (ametuer) adventurer. But as I sat with Don Bell; entrepreneur and co-founder of West Jet this afternoon (after an exhilarating flight), I was reminded that those who are passionate about life naturally put themselves in a position to connect with other passionate and interesting people.

Don is passionate about many things including flying some of his personal aircraft. Today we took a few short flights in his Antonov AN2 for an interview in a future issue of Airdrielife. This was my first time back up in a fixed-wing aircraft since the crash and in no time I was just so taken by the size and agility this kind utility aircraft had.

Again like I started this post by saying, I am extremely grateful for the amazing experiences and the opportunity to connect with some of the most interesting people on the planet. The life we are given is a chance to do something more, to see what we are made of, to make something great. The only limits are the ones we impose upon ourselves. Talking to Don today again confirmed that those who do great things are generally the ones who see their dream as the goal and the roadblocks as a challenge.

What are you doing tomorrow?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Driving | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Front page of today's Calgary Herald Driving Section.

Nice to work with Greg Williams again. This time a few shots from my trip to Bonneville with Trillion Industries Calgary. It was great to be part of the team as this is another of my passions but to photograph someone or a company that is living their passions or doing great things, that is my passion. It's been a great summer and now looking forward to an awesome fall / winter in the Canadian Rockies chasing all sorts of cool people.

Maybe you are next?

Monday, September 3, 2012

On The Moon | Canadian Adventure Photographer

Roger Goldammer testing out his engine on the first day - Bonneville Slat Flats, Utah.

As those of you who have been following me for the last month know that I have been extremely overwhelmed with the Trillion Racing Team as both a fabricator / team member as well as covering the attempt on the Salt Flats. It has been a very busy month leading up to the BUB motorcycle races but it has also been an amazing experience. In the end the team did extremely well considering the bike was not complete and our Rider Derek Pauletto proved that he is capable of handling the LSR bike on the course.

It was hard to do too much photography of the event that didn't pertain to our attempt as I was just too busy at the pits and filming for our documentary. However I did get a few shots and will post them here from time to time. Next year should be smoother as the bike will be ready and we should have a few extra team members for support. The Salt Flats are an amazing place to photograph and I was lucky enough to catch it when it was wet. Having 1/2" and inch of water on the salt made for interesting reflections and shapes. The skies at night were also beautiful and the odd cloud cover turned everything into pastels in between times of blasting sun. I love this place and fortunate to be a part of the team. It's a different type of adventure but adventure non-the-less, it like being on the moon for a few days...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Couple Of Hours Left | Adventure.....

So it's been nearly a month since I posted here. Lots has been happening and very busy. Going out to finish my last job this month and start packing for our trip to Utah tomorrow. If you haven't been following me on Facebook or twitter, I have been working with one of my best friends on a Land speed record attempt with a vintage Triumph Motorcycle. Its been stressful few weeks (filming it as well as building it) but this morning the bike fired up and is running. Sounds like nothing but then again what we have done to the bike has likely never been done before. Details to come but below is a video from this morning. Will post when I get back next week. Salt Flats here I come.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foothills Magic | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

A wall cloud develops near the town of Dogpound Alberta

So I've been storm chasing for a few years now and after last year being such a great year for super cells I decided my goal for this year was to photograph one. I have shot a few small tornadoes and seen a lot of damage from them in the past 5 years of living in Crossfield but the real monsters are the systems that spawn them. Super cells start off like any other thunderstorm except that when there are good upper level winds creating rotational energy (shear), the storm goes on to become a super cell. And if the weather modification guys haven't flown into it soon enough these super cells can move for hours across the province.

A super cell near the town of Dogpound Alberta just minutes before a tornado drops out

The cool thing about where we live is a formation at the eastern slope of the Rockies called the Foothills and as of late we now have a term "Foothills Magic". Now as much as I am learning tons about weather I am not a meteorologist and wouldn't claim to be. I just know when to go out and watch things build to the west and when towers are going up, you make your best guess and go to a safe place to setup in hopes it does turn into something.
Tornado from the Dogpound cell as seen from looking west on Twp. 290

On Saturday it did. I started the morning photographing some crop spraying but shortly after went home for lunch hoping there might be more action near 1pm. On my way out west of town I noticed some towers going up and decided to stage at one of my favourite high points along the 290 west near Madden. As I was setting up a time-lapse I noticed one of the cells had a signature shelf shape and clued in that this one might go off. I quickly drove out to the hill above the town of Dogpound at the 290 and set up my cameras to time-lapse as well as video. Within minutes this cell started to rotate so fast you could easily see it and shortly after lightning started to crash out of the anvil down into the valley. I stayed as long as I could and managed to get the time-lapse of the super cell below.

Tiemlapse footage showing massive rotational energy as the super cell matures

Just before 2pm I setup another 5 km to the east on the 290 and as I started filming I could not believe my eyes... well actually I expected it but to see a good sized tornado drop out of the bottom was so exciting. Especially to witness such a well developed system form up so textbook is absolutely amazing.

I'm so glad I have been working so much with the cameras, I feel like I've been ready so many times this summer. The storm chaser page that Joe Vonesche and I take care of has been awesome as well and a great source of information and personalities. This weekend was definitely one for the record books for me, man I love Alberta weather.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stretching Creativity | Calgary Commercial Photographer

Just a quick frame from a very quick yoga session tonight with a very cool instructor and health specialist Nichole. I pretty-much had to zone out and float out of my body to achieve this shot. I can do some pretty crazy stuff to get a good Point Of View.....

Friday, July 20, 2012

Coming Of Age | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

For the last 7 years I have worked closely with one of the most interesting personalities I have ever known. I met Derek Pauletto 10 years ago when I worked as a fabricator at a shop in Calgary and we always talked about the future and all of the great things we would do when we struck out on our own. Here we are in 2012 slugging it out trying to become really successful in our own businesses now and still trying to dream while fending off the common reality of balancing security and family.

I can't pin-point the exact year but it must have been around 2002 when Derek showed me a 3" model of a concept motorcycle frame that he had come up with and intended to some day build into a ride that was like no other. I never forgot about those conversations and for the next few years kept seeing the small maquette in his tool box. Just another piece of scrap among the tools but even then it seemed to stand out among everything else.

In 2008 a good friend of ours was interested in a dedication to his brother who had passed on and the chance to build the concept bike was taken up and a bold process began.  It's a long story but one of tension between a few passionate people and the reality of the laws of physics and art. I have personally been involved in quite a few parts and some fabrication on the bike and through the evolution of it have seen my share of turmoil and passion.

This week the bike (named the "9") received it's VIN plate and it's PDI (pre delivery inspection) so it was high-time to take some pictures and kick it's ass out the door. Like a teenager who has outstayed their welcome, it is a moment of sorrow and relief. We have spent so much time with the bike that we are ready to move on yet there is something tugging at us as it rolls out the door one last time. Could it be that through all the fussing and discipline, the choices and the desire for perfection that we subconsciously fell in love with our creation?

I know I speak for Derek right now when I say one thing for sure; this bike has a personality and a story. Not only a life of its own, but when I got home and looked at some of the images from tonight I couldn't help but be in awe. The 9 is beautiful. From the flowing organic chrome moly single-sided frame to the deep lustre paint surface reflecting the a-symmetrical design normally found in nature, this bike is a rolling work of art. I have had time to step back and be critical and I feel the 9 has developed some kind of maturity while I was busy focused on something else.

As awesome as the bike is I can't help reflecting back on one thing, the bike had it's creator. Derek is a true visionary and passionate about what he does all the while running a tough business and facing daily the challenges of protecting his independence and security of his family. Not just answering to responsibility but also alive with the ideas and dreams that punctuate our long days at the shop. Derek has followed through on a very serious idea and not only giving it wings but allowing it to be beautiful on it's own. The 9 has evolved at the interest of many but owes it's life and freedom to Derek alone.

I am very proud to have been a part of this project and to share so much of Derek's world. Not many people today can say that they have followed through on such a grand idea and even fewer are willing to live with nearly as much risk. Tomorrow the 9 will be just a bike but right now it is a symbol of completion. The final chapter of a time when ideas were more important than money and dreams were fun. The creation has left home and we can be proud of all the effort we have poured into to it. So raise your glasses now and let's give a toast, to someone among us who has stayed the course and followed through on an idea that should inspire us all. Derek, your work is truly a manifestation of your passion, thank you for that.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ride Stop & Go | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

The Ride Stop and Go crew get back on the road after a nice break in Longview, Alberta.

Yesterday I had the oppurtunity to chase 34 motorcycles over a 300 plus km loop that took us to Cochrane, Kananaskis, Highwood pass, Longview and Bragg Creek. The riders were from Alberta and Seattle, Washington and came from all walks of life. The common thread with these enthusiasts was a passion for being out on the open road on two wheels. I wish I had been riding myself but in order to photograph them I had to be in a chase vehicle and occasionally shoot from it.

Again, there is nothing like spending the day with people who are all share their passion and take a trip together. So many different people, in age, vocation, and background, all respecting each other so much when sharing the same lifestyle. Each location we stopped at people hung out, chatted about bikes and life, and all like they had known each other for years.

There is something special about riding. I think about the surfing, and skydiving community when I think about riders. Everyone eventually feels the freedom of the road, a spiritual moment when daily life just can't keep up to you as you bomb down the highway and life again becomes simple. There is nothing else, only this moment, the pure thrill of rolling independence and speed while the landscape speeds through your gaze like an unravelling canvas. It's a magic place where those who go for it are rewarded. This is living.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Royalty | Canadian Lifestyle Photographer

 The "magic" happening at the end of the session.
Well I have some awesome work coming up this weekend and to start it off I had the pleasure of photographing the Pete Knight Rodeo Royalty just outside of town. Now when I plan a session I always work out a couple of set-ups that I think will work well. That way I can focus on the shooting and working with the client. I almost always expect there to be something great happen between light and location and as good as the session was going, I wanted a little more.

Sure enough I found this cool roof sticking out of the ground and after a few minutes of shooting I told the girls to take a break. As they relaxed and looked away from the camera I saw an amazing image. So I tuned them back up and put arms and legs and faces all into the right places and just started shooting. Again magic happened. The light is right (of course I brought the light in as usual) and everything in the image works so well together. The girls were a lot of fun and had great attitudes, just the way a session should be.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Never Stop Chasing | Alberta Storm Chaser

Today was unbelievably perfect as far as set-ups go. I left the city at noon expecting something to develop in the Foothills and sure enough it did. I connected with Kara Jones around 3pm NW of Olds where we had to pick from 3 cells to the West. Well we picked the right one and soon enough the Olds cell was building. It was a near textbook build with a rain-free base to the South and big core to the NE.

Reed Timmer gives his signature point while posing with Kara Jones near Trochu, AB. 

Around dinner we headed out East of Olds to head it off where we were met by Steve Hollingsworth. We had enough time to setup some film and time-lapse when a wall cloud started to twist out of the bottom. Right over the East part of Olds we were seeing severe potential for Tornado activity, so classic.

We had to move East a few times and unfortunately the storm did not quite touch down. All in all it was a great day and was the first time a chase went like clockwork. Not to mention we met the Host of the US TV show Storm Chasers; Reed Timmer as he was chasing our same cell. Do we know what we are doing here in Alberta or what?

Below is time-lapse footage from our chase.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Didsbury Event July 3, 2012 | Storm Chaser

  A grain bin rests 50m from its original location a day after severe weather near Bergen Rd.

Today I drove out to Bergen Rd. just North of the town of Didsbury as I had to see for myself the damage that a supposed Tornado had touched down. As I was having a look I decided that I would take pictures and geotags to see if I could build a model in Google Earth when I was done. I ended up spending a couple of hours out there and even interviewed a few of the property owners.
Metal and splintered wood entangle trees almost 100m from where they were part of a barn.

It is sad to see the damage done (at the personal level) but extremely interesting to get a close up and detailed look at just what power a storm of this magnitude is capable of. After gathering all of my images and geotags I was able to build a full model of the Tornado's travel and debris fields. Yes, I am calling this a Tornado for sure. There was little eye-witness but from my findings alone regarding width of touchdowns and swaths, radial debris patterns and small object missile action (plywood going through walls), I'd be willing to state (non-professional opinion) that the area briefly experienced an F1 for at least most of it's path.
A 60sq/m tight stand of poplar trees is flattened like toothpicks just NE of the 766 and 582.

I love storm chasing and getting images of live weather is awesome, but to spend the time and inspect the damage and try to recreate the event like some forensic tv show, I have learned so much and found it fascinating. The great thing is the season is just beginning.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Air Service | Canadian Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

 Jason Lazenby spraying local crops in his Piper Pawnee aircraft.

In the last 24 hours I have had the great fortune to meet and photograph Jason Lazenby of Royco Air Services while he works in the fields West of Crossfield. And I should also add that he is working "above" the fields West of Crossifeld. Jason and another pilot (Dean) are currently giving a bit of an airshow in the area as they spray crops for local farmers and it is an amazing show indeed. 


It's hard for me to ignore the sound of the aircraft especially when they are working so low to the ground. Growing up around planes and helicopters gave me a great respect and appreciation for being in the air and I don't think I can ever shake that. I still dream about paragliding and hope that I can get down to the US in the next year to be trained on a "Speed Wing"

For now it's just a lot of fun watching (and photographing) someone who is so passionate about their work and lifestyle. Every time Jason jumps out of his Piper Pawnee (plane) for a break and reload, you tell that this guy loves what he is doing. And as I've said it before, when I can capture great shots of someone who loves what their doing, then I love what I'm doing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fast And Low | Canadian Adventure Photographer

Tonight I was just taking it easy on the couch when I started to hear the high-pitch drone of a couple sprayer planes just west of town. I knew it would be a good show and it was. I shot until the sun went down and watched the pilot make his last pass. I couldn't help but drive over to their operation base and meet the pilot. Sure enough I did and he is a great guy and extremely passionate about technical flying. Looks like I will get the chance to connect with these guys tomorrow. Hopefully I can post something from that in the next few days. Stay tuned....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stage One | Canadian Adventure Photographer

Well it is finally here!

I have been waiting patiently for the right time to come along so I could finally bring a linear-motion dolly into Canada from Dynamic Perception in the US. Originally I was going to go with the 6 foot "Stage Zero" but DP recently came out with their newest and compact (breaks down into carry-on size) unit, the "Stage One".

What does this mean for me? Time lapse: this is a new type of capture for me and it can be used to produce motion video of events or movement that is too slow for the human eye to really distinguish. Currently I am working on a few projects (including a science documentary) that will consist mostly of Time lapse (TL) as well as numerous commercial applications such as construction site documentation and Rig set-up.

I am excited to put this unit to work and will be posting test clips here from time to time so you can see just what can be achieved with this kind of unit. Stay tuned to this blog and let your friends know what we are doing. Feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions about this or any other type of work we do.
First test clip below:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Layers | Alberta Storm Chasing

Sun breaking through two layers of cloud near Madden, AB.

Tonight I drove out West with the family in order to gather some more time-lapse tests for a project I am working on. It is still early in our very short season but there has been a lot of moisture and so there are some   cool formations that have been happening. This sky had 2 layers of clouds, One high and the other only about 100 feet from the ground. Each layer was moving in separate directions so the footage looked good. I have to say, it's a pretty cool place we live in here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Graceful Machine | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

There are some kinds of work I will not do and mostly it's because I'm just not that passionate about it. However the occasional client comes to me with a few ideas of their own that can pose a challenge. I am always up for a challenge and it becomes a great job when that client is passionate about what they do.

A month ago I got a referral for a potential client wanting body-building images done and after a few emails back and forth we where set and had a few ideas. Today Penny and her coach showed up and immediately I was surprised that penny was actually 50 years old and still competing. Obviously I never gave much thought to her age before I met her but couldn't help think it was really cool that she puts so much energy into it.

It's a strange reaction when we think about any age and the level of energy that goes with it. I firmly believe the body is just a machine and will work and last as long as our minds and souls continue to push it forward. A nine year old child runs endlessly through the playground while another one sits in a basement growing sedentary with every level they achieve in their console video game.  An old man in his forties sits in the local legion coughing on cigarette smoke as another in his 50's finishes a triathlon somewhere in Hawaii. No one in this life has complete control over their "true" age but it seams to me that the ones who have taken measures to gain control, are the ones that deserve their "graceful machine".

Sunday, June 3, 2012

8 Wheels | Canadian Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

 BVRD making their opening lap at their debut home bout.

There's not much I can say about this sport that isn't great. Concrete, fishnet-stockings, short shorts, speed, high impacts, lots of make up, loud music and tattooed girls ripping up the track on roller-skates! This is Roller Derby and it is so awesome to go and see live. I have been a fan for years and my sister is a Derby Girl in southern BC so it's easy to love it. Getting to photograph a bout put on as well as the Bow Valley Roller Derby team did this last Saturday night was a total treat.

anNamolly passing the pack as the lead Jammer.

If you ever get the chance to get out to one of these bouts you need to go. If you can appreciate the high-impact sport of hockey mixed with rock and a lot of interesting characters, you'll love Derby. Thanks again to the BVRD for having me out!

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Residents | Part-Time Wildlife Photog

My wife and friends have named them. This is "Jasper"
For the last few days I have been sitting in my van and using it as a blind and photographing two great Red Fox kits as they grow up and get ready to leave the den. Really these two are hilarious and I never thought I'd get so much enjoyment from photographing wildlife. The two just saunter around or sit in the sun if they are not walking the perimeter of their new little world.

This is "Robin Hood"
They have no idea I am there and if they did I don't think they care. The prime directive for them seems to be to relax and eat and sleep. The occasional bark and jumping on each other breaks up the naps and the sniffing around, man I wish my life was this simple. But even though it isn't, it has been really cool just sitting still, and watching a part of God's creation as it goes about it's business. I can see how my wildlife photographer friends like this stuff.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cafe Canadiano | In Studio

A current client has left his 350 Single with me for a week to get some portraits done as he contemplates the next part of his project bike. I had spent a lot of time with the frame from this vintage Ducati and it was cool to rebuild (yes I am a custom fabricator in my other life) so much of the frame. Great to see he has come this far with the engine, it looks great.

As I write this I'm trying to think of something profound or insightful but its just not coming to me. What I am thinking about is how long it took for me to set this shot up. You see when you shoot something specular (an object that is reflective enough that the light source will show up on it in brightness and shape) as this and to the point that some parts are actually mirrored, you have a considerable problem. On one hand the object will not present its shape unless you can use a large and properly placed light source to reflect on it (look at car ads in magazines, glass etc...). And the second issue, when shooting a mirrored surface, you don't want everything near the photographer showing up in that surface. Move the case forward, back, just a little to the left. Boom the SB up top and move back so the "350" logo appears with some shape. Then tape the seamless down, just the right length, inches now. Now build a tent for the foreground so that my studio doesn't show up. And last but not least, shoot from directly in front of the brass badge in the case so that I can hide my reflection behind it. Everything you see is done in camera. This is how I like to work, take care of problems before you dump the card to the drive. Besides, I'm not that great at photoshop. I did clone a small piece propping up the engine below and some dust that's it.

Now as I look back, is this profound? Not really. But some guy in the city has spent two years (so far) and who knows how much money to get this vintage engine back to it's original glory. Is this passion? I think so. And I don't care who the client is, if someone is this passionate about a personal project then so am I. And at the very least it gives me the desire to create some magic. I am passionate about passionate people, it's what my work is truly about.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Well Built | Adventure Photographer

This weekend I held my last Evolution Photography Workshop and as much as I love to pass on knowledge, I am glad it's done for a while. The workshop has evolved into a serious base for creativity and confidence with off camera flash but it is very exhausting.

A hay wagon from 80 years ago lives out its days in the Boneyard.
One of the locations we went to on Saturday was the "Boneyard", a personal favourite of mine that is owned by a family I know who are farmers and take all their old equipment there to die. I love this place, there is so much old steel here and when I see it I am amazed at the quality and engineering from some of the implements that were in production 70-80 years ago. There are thin metal tubes, gears and wheels that are weathered but not even showing signs of rusting rot. I have seen car bodies from 20 years ago that are nearly all gone and not near the condition of the steel in these old swathers and seeders resting for years in the tall grass. I can't help but think there was a time in North America when industrial equipment was thoughtfully engineered to last and to be repaired. That now we have become such a disposable society and the devices we rely on and use to entertain us are built to last only a few years (if that).

I would have loved living 70 years ago. Working hard, physical labour and a dramatically more simpler life. I want this now actually and as much as convenience rules the day in my life, I am going to make a concious effort when I can to purchase or use items that have long-lasting value. And to take the time to slow down time, to breath deeply and watch the sunlight stream through the grass. To open my eyes and take a mental picture of the beauty that is all around us, to dive deeper into the occasional moment.

Maria Coffey talks about an aspect of writing that helps her to make even the most obscure subject interesting. She explained how "exploding" detail about a particular idea or scene, or greatly expanding and going deeper within it can give the reader a point of view that they would ordinarily pass over. This is something I want to experience at least once every day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dark Anchor | Adventure Photographer

A shot from the beach at Otter Point looking SE to Port Angeles, Wash.

I literally just got back from a quick trip to Victoria where I had the chance to spend some time with my side of the family. It was great to catch up and especially see my dad considering his deteriorating health. The first 3 days it rained so what I expected to be a great location on the ocean to shoot was nothing at all. But last night I had just enough time to get back to Otter Point and shoot the moon as it was coming up.

A dark and heavy contrast as the daylight drops off and only the Super-Moon casts a glow.

 I did not have my long lens and figured there'd be enough of those shots anyhow so I tried anchoring my shot instead. The above image is straight out of camera with just a little pixel clean-up. The trick here was the 2 stop ND Grad I used for the bright sky. I will be posting some colour and dark moody versions in the next day or so. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kalifornia | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Kevin and his racing leathers somewhere in Calgary.
This morning I started a project that I have been thinking about for the last 8 years. Only recently have I decided on how I wanted to light it and set it up and I always knew that I wanted to shoot it in monochromatic.

I'm not going to get into the whole idea of the project but can say it will be long term and will involve some of the most interesting people I have met in my life. Kevin is (among a lot of other very cool sports) an ex-racer and now customizes street bikes for riders in Calgary. Kev is amazing on a street bike and has stepped in to do some stunt riding for me in the past. Definitely someone who is passionate and unapologetic about his intense lifestyle.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Magic Places | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

What's left of the East Coulee Bridge
Today I had one of my last group of students out East of Drumheller for what will be the first of my last two Evolution Photography workshops. Again our photographers shot some great stuff and figured the lighting out easily. I will post about that here in the next few days.

While the crew was busy being creative I threw on my fisheye lens for some fun. I didn't have to go far to find an interesting perspective. The lens is fun but this area has always been magic for me. I have been coming to these locations along the Red Deer River for 10 years now and I just can't get enough. Like the dinosaur bones that lay beneath the dirt and mud in these badlands, the old bridges and building are just a skeletal rendition of a society that moved along these parts way before my time. I always wonder, what life was like then and who these people were that lived in the valley. Just a memory that will eventually fade away.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Go Light | Canadian Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Steph Davis explaining the finer points of minimalist gear and climbing light at the Stronghold, Calgary, AB.

On Sunday morning I shot my last few images for the Calgary International Mountain Film Festival. I stopped down at the Stronghold in Calgary to get some action shots of world class crack climber and BASE Jumper Steph Davis. Unfortunately Steph did not get on the wall but instead chose to talk to about 20 climbers who are new to the sport about their gear and going light.

Steph is well known for going ultra-light and even to the point of using BASE Jumping for an exit point instead of just rapping off a climb. I watched her new film - "A Perfect Circle" on Saturday night which was about a few towers in Moab that she free-soloed and then Jumped from. It was a beautiful piece and the footage was great.

I was also impressed with Steph's psychology regarding risk and reward and I am beginning to suspect that with all the research I am doing on the subject, I am going to find that it is a very universal concept for every extreme-sport athlete.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Connections | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Maria Coffey and Dag Goering at their workshop during the CIMFF

On Tuesday night I was fortunate enough to sit in on a workshop at the Calgary Mountain Film Fest hosted by Maria Coffey and Dag Goering. Maria and Dag run an International Eco Tour Company and were in town to give a brief writing and photography primer.

I first heard of Maria during an interview on the CBC in about 2008 (from what I can remember) when they were talking about her book "Explorers Of The Infinite" which focuses on the spiritual and supernatural experiences of extreme athletes. This book has been a huge influence on how I view risk and pushing my limits even long before I was in the plane crash.

During Maria and Dag's workshop on Tuesday I had the chance to talk to them both in person and interact with the lessons. They are both extremely personable people and clearly passionate about telling a story whether it is through words or images. As we were wrapping up Steve Bommer (Spirit West) suggested that I should have had my camera on me for a shot of the couple for the Festival News. As any good photographer should always their gear within quick reach, I ran 3 blocks back to my van where I had left it after a long day of 6 editorial assignments for the magazine. Maria and Dag were very gracious to allow me to (very) quickly pose them with a little directional light as the location was being locked down.

If your interested in what Maria and Dag are doing, check them out at or their Elephant project at .

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Skybolt | Canadian Adventure Photographer

Nathan and his dad going vertical in the Skybolt

On Friday I joined a good friend of mine Nathan for a few hours of flying in his new Skybolt. I haven't been up since the crash yet and wasn't sure about how I felt about going up again so I took some time to mount a camera above the wing and get some good POV stills.

Nathan had a great time and is an excellent pilot. It is very cool to see him fly this plane and see how well it performs in various acrobatic manoeuvres. I'm looking forward to getting up. Soon...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

Behold! - The Stangen!!!

I just finished the final draft of my Pubs and Patios review that will be running in the summer issue of Airdrielife Magazine. It was fun to write and this will be one of the largest pieces (800+ words) I have written to date. But it was way more fun actually test-driving the patios that we visited in Airdrie with two of our good friends. There is some very classy and high quality patios in Airdrie if you haven't been to them all yet.

Make sure you check out the review in this summer's issue!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Keep Looking | Spindrift Photography

Tonight our yard in town lit right up around 7pm and I could see the chinook arch off to the west. I knew I didn't have much time and even though I have been shooting everyday for the last 3 weeks I just had to go. I figured I would have about 20 minutes tops so I drove part-way to Madden to work this spot I have been at for the last few nights. It never gets dull and with the different weather each day the look of the place can keep changing.

I am impressed with this area. I never moved to Crossfield for the photography but these last few years I have learned to see things in a new way, to look deeper and see things that most people do not see. Maybe it's time you got out of the house. Now that its nice out and the days are longer and warmer, why don't you go for a walk, somewhere you have never gone before and look around a little. I guarantee its the difference between having your eyes closed or open. We all remember what our surroundings look like but it's important to stop looking at the backs of our eye-lids and see things again.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Hidden | Adventure Photographer

Last Night was a trip to be sure. I think it could have been stranger but as it was I got my daily dose of adventure.

To start with Oliver Du Tre' and I decided to head out around 8pm to K-Country for a little Aurora activity (which never did present itself) but while on route my wind shield in the van got caved in by debris from a passing bed-truck. Like a shot gun, all I heard was a loud bang and I was hit in the arm by what I thought was something gone through the wind shield (later found it was my rear-view mirror). 20 minutes later I was on the road, having settled up with the rig moving company.

Oli and I finally made it out the K-Country and decided that the nearby "Yamnuska" would be better location to shoot. At Yam we parked and hiked out to the beaver ponds and scouted our location for the Aurora event (did I mention it didn't happen?). We were there for about an hour discussing our next project when we thought we heard voices. Now it is 1:30 am, dark with only a full moon to go by when again voices; and we heard someone actually say, "hey, is Kurtis with you"? Whoa! this was weird - until we recognized Paul Zizka's voice stating that it was the "Mountains in Motion" film crew on their way back from Abraham lake. Really cool to run into these guys and getting to meet Doug Urquhart in person (who is up from Atlanta for some footage for his project).

And finally as the MIM guys were setting up for a timelapse shot, Oli and I decided to head to a nearby location I have been looking at for years. I brought my light-painting equipment just in case and so glad that I did. Before us stood a dull decrepit building bathed in bright moonlight. Really nothing to write home about. But once we got inside it was eye candy. Some other artist had been there before us and left some amazing Tag-Art. I was so inspired I threw on the 8mm asap as I knew it was the only way to capture the eerie uniqueness of this spot. A couple takes later we had the images you see above. Really, the evening was worth it. If we couldn't get something dramatic from the skies we were going to pull something from the abstract.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

10,000 | Adventure Lifestyle Photographer

click the image for a larger view.

They say that to truly be proficient at something you need to do it 10,000 times or for 10,000 hours. Well today I filled up a few high-capacity memory cards in my camera running around shooting action sports and some more night photography. It feels so good to be able to shoot so much and learning something new everyday. I'm not worried about getting to 10,000 just yet as it is just so much fun on my way there.

This shot was one of my frames that was captured while the camera was set on auto-pilot out in a field just west of town. I am experimenting with an 8mm fisheye lens and although it might break some rules, I kind of like this shot.