Artists in Residence – Week One Summary

We started our Artists in Residence program at Aurum Lodge last week on July 1 (Canada Day). After two weeks of intensive packing and cleaning our house for the renters, we packed up Betty-Tina (our 1976 Trillium travel pod) and planned to be on the road by noon. But our trailer lights did not work and so one of our nice neighbours in Cochrane, an electrician, came over to help us out. A couple of hours later we were ready to go and the last thing we packed from the house were Sam’s home-made rhubarb juice popsicles!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

In hindsight, travelling on Canada Day was probably not the best choice especially because we plodded along with our RAV-4 pulling Betty-Tina at 80-90 km per hour. I’m sure we were the cause of  a few muffled expletives but we were happy sucking on the popsicles and enjoying the scenery. Canada Day was the start of a crazy hot week here in Alberta with high temperatures and dry conditions after a rainy June. Once at the lodge we settled into our wee cabin in the woods that lodge-owners Alan and Madeleine had pimped out for our arrival. Betty-Tina is parked in the trees ready for us should we need to give up our cabin for guests. It took us two days to unload and get settled. On day 2 we were sitting outside our cabin enjoying coffee and a scone slathered in honey that we’d brought from the Farmer’s Market in Cochrane when a black bear meandered around the corner of the cabin units. This was a big surprise more for us and our dog than the bear which was eventually shooed away by Alan. Alan managed to snap a few photos while we retreated into the safety of the cabin. We now look twice before opening the door with scone in hand.

©Darwin Wiggett - A black bear from another time, we did not get photos of the visiting bear because we were hiding in our cabin!

©Darwin Wiggett – A black bear from another time; we did not get photos of the visiting bear because we were hiding in our cabin!

The great thing about hanging out in a lodge is that you meet awesome people. On day 5 Sam and I had our first private instruction clients, Rob and Michelle Avis. Rob and Michelle booked a full day with us and they were a delight to hang out with (and both were quick studies so the lessons went quickly!) The Avis’ are leading edge permaculture instructors and have been a force in the permaculture movement in Alberta. They offer a two week permaculture design course complete with a certificate at the end. Sam took the course last year and it changed her life. I am taking this two-week course starting in a few days myself and I look forward to being charged about this exciting learning prospect! Personally Sam and I think that permaculture is the biggest bang for the buck if we want to heal the planet. Here at oopoomoo we’ve always looked for ways to minimize our impact on the planet – plus we would love to learn how to grow more of our own food in a challenging climate like Cochrane.

©Darwin Wiggett - Michelle Avis relaxing at Little Indian Falls

©Darwin Wiggett – Michelle Avis relaxing at Little Indian Falls

The other thing of note is that on day 3, a wildfire (likely caused by lightening) erupted about 30km west of Aurum Lodge. The billowing, dirty smoke was striking to look at as it rose behind the mountains. We got a few shots of a blood-red sun through curtains of smoke before the ashy air settled through the entire lake valley. It’s a bit challenging to breathe at times until the wind picks up, but with a wildfire there’s a lot to photograph including the golden light reflected through the orangey clouds and the misty look to the forest. The fire is now under control so we’re not threatened at present except for our lungs when the wind changes directions.

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Smoke in the trees makes for beautiful moody photos.

©Samantha Chrysanthou – Smoke in the trees makes for beautiful moody photos.

©Darwin Wiggett - The suns peaks through the ash and smoke.

©Darwin Wiggett – The suns peaks through the ash and smoke.

©Darwin Wiggett - The drama of forest fire clouds!

©Darwin Wiggett – The drama of forest fire clouds!

Being out here is busy. There’s always lots to do, and we help Alan and Madeleine out from time to time as well (except maybe me who is likely banned from serving after I dropped an entire tray of dishes). Even though we are in a unique situation living in a mountain lodge, we still need to carve out precious creative time. For everyone creative time needs to be scheduled just like anything else. Make it a priority and make sure you get it done first thing everyday!

©Darwin Wiggett - Even if you can't get away for a proper photo shoot, carve out a half hour and make images of the things around you. Here is the grass beside our cabin.

©Darwin Wiggett – Even if you can’t get away for a proper photo shoot, carve out a half hour and make images of the things around you. Here is the grass beside our cabin.

So, we’d like you to join us in a creative challenge every month. This month the task is to take your least used lens (or focal length if you only own one zoom lens) and head out four times this month, using just that lens/focal length. Sam’s least used lens is her 60mm macro lens. She always leaves it out of her pack so I told her she needs to go out this month and make some photos with it. My least used landscape lens is my 85mm f1.4 lens. I always use it for portraits but rarely for landscape and so I will be sure to get out at least four times this month doing landscape work with this lens. Share your story of your least used lens and the images you make in July on our oopoomoo Facebook group for feedback or comments!

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Macro photography with a point-n-shoot not the 60mm macro lens!

©Samantha Chrysanthou – Macro photography with a point-n-shoot not the 60mm macro lens!

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.

7 Comments

  1. Janice
    July 9, 2014

    It sounds like you have had an exciting week! I love the challenge you have given the readers. I will have to see what I can do with my 15mm fish-eye! I love having it, but it isn’t a lens that is prone to overuse. Great storytelling as well, and I love how you can make grass look like a subject we should all spend more time with. very inspirational.

    Reply
  2. Allison
    July 9, 2014

    I love this adventure story

    Reply
  3. Ray Hainsworth
    July 9, 2014

    Interesting start to your adventure. Also, thank you for the info regarding the permaculture movement. It was interesting to read about this, especially to a Toronto native or “city slicker” as my country cousins would say. Hope to take your photo tour/class one of these days.

    Cheers, Ray

    Reply
  4. Jane Chesebrough
    July 10, 2014

    Interesting start to the summer! That is one time I am glad that I am not there since I have asthma. The smoky shots are amazing as are the grass and flower close-ups.Saw Alan’s shot on CBC website as well. Hope the fire is steadily decreasing.H-m-m-m, thinking about pulling out the old 18-55mm lens, always use the zoom for birding. By the way, rhubarb pops sound good, Sam, are you sharing the recipe?

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      July 10, 2014

      Hi Jane,
      Super simple! Cut some fresh rhubarb from that weedy patch you neglect along your garage. Add some water and stew it all up until mushy. Strain out the pulp and add a bit of honey, mint, apple juice, jam – whatever you like – to the rhubarb juice. Stir it all up, and pour into your own popsicle making device. It’s also great as a refreshing juice. YUM!

  5. Shirley Davis
    July 11, 2014

    I was thinking about the two of you and wondering how you were making out with the forest fire so close by. The photos that you posted of the smoke and sun are amazing!

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      July 13, 2014

      Hi Shirley,

      Thanks! So far just very smoky. But I think this fire is going to stick around for awhile in these bone dry conditions.

Leave a Comment

Top