In honour of the fact that spring is delayed this year in Alberta, here is a wintry shot from this year’s winter photography workshop at Abraham Lake. Speaking of winter photography…we are just putting the finishing touches on our 2015 offerings at the Lake. We will announce the full details to our newsletter subscribers first (hint! hint!) so they get first dibs at the very limited number of spots available. In other news, Darwin and I have an exciting announcement to make soon (no, we’re not pregnant) so stay tuned!
In the Abraham Lake area for our fall photo workshops, Darwin and I came away with an image each of the effects of the high water from the June 2013 floods. This summer the reservoir was the highest we’ve ever seen it: the retreating water left a clear warning on the shoreline vegetation. Coincidentally, last night we also went and saw the thought-provoking film, Watermark co-directed by Edward Burtynsky. I would like to believe otherwise, but I’m afraid human memory is short, and short-term solutions tend to take priority over long-term issues. Maybe films like Watermark will help keep evidence of a possible future in our present memory.
In the last two weeks, we’ve wrapped up our final photo workshops of the season held at Aurum Lodge: Creative Landscape Photography with our guest instructor, Guy Tal, and the Fire & Ice photo tour. In a little while, we’ll be sharing participants’ images from these two educational events on the blog — and we’re stoked to showcase the talent and vision of their work! But for us, now is a good time to reflect back on a busy year and digest all that we’ve learned. One thing that stands out is just how much we appreciate visiting the Canadian Rockies to photograph, and how lucky we are to live near such an incredible region. Although October and November are often not considered ‘prime’ shooting months in Canada, we find endless inspiration when we head out to the mountains at this time of year.
Although the weather can be unpredictable, really that just adds to the excitement! Expect to be harried by a furious blizzard one day and warmed by winter-sun the very next.
Surprisingly, we don’t come here just for the mountains (lovely as they are). For me, the charm in this season lies in the subtleties. Muted lavenders, soft greys, sandy tans and silvery blues layer the landscape, pearlescent hues that reflect the low, liquid light of early winter and become snagged by the grasping branches of barren trees and dry grasses.
Because I love this time of year, I’m really looking forward to our new workshop, Beyond the Icon – Intimate Landscapes of the Canadian Rockies, October 21-26, 2014. We’ll be focusing on a style of photography that intrigues me: intimate landscapes may be more challenging to see as a photographer, but I think the rewards of finding them are great. It’s often in the quiet moments that we discover the most about our subject matter…and ourselves.
When people inquire as to what we do for a living, they immediately assume when we answer ‘landscape photographers’ that we spend all of our time outdoors. We wish! The move to digital revolutionized photography in more ways than one. Like many micro-businesses, we spend most of our time at a computer running our business and not out shooting. But we do like to carve out time to get back to nature, so along with our friend, Ian McGillvrey, we’re heading this week for a multi-day hike in the backcountry of Waterton Lakes National Park. Has it really been four years since we were there last making the following pictures!!??
One thing we love about Waterton is the combination of mountains and grasslands: the prairie nips hard at the toes of the Canadian Rockies. With rare flora, a high density of fauna and sometimes beautiful evening light, the park is a treat for photographers. This isn’t a serious photo trip for us, but there will probably be a shot or two showing up here on the blog down the road!
Turning Point – Craig Brown discovers that ‘it’s not the camera’ but the photographer that makes images great!
I had an opportunity to work with a well known Nature & Landscape photographer in the U.S several years back and we visited Glacier National Park in Montana. This is an image of Mount Oberlin with bear grass in the foreground. Up to this time I had focused my energies on Weddings and Portraits and had not much in nature or landscape. What I had done was disappointing to me. It seemed that while I understood the technical side reasonably well, my compositions were not pleasing in any way. I was not “seeing” the image or “feeling” the image. In my mind all I had to do was find a beautiful scene and the camera would do the rest. Wrong! This photographer not only taught me the Rule of Thirds, but how important leading lines, side light, foregrounds and backgrounds were. He made me stop and take it in. I used to jump out, set up the camera and snap away. Now I check out a scene first and envision what it will look like once the camera has done its work. I think about crops and angles and all the different pieces of the scene and how they make it all come together. Another lesson learned a couple of years later was on one of Darwin’s workshops and how he tries to create the image in the camera rather than later in post processing. Since I took this image I have felt revitalized and almost reborn into the wonderful world of photography!
One of the places I most looked forward to going in Iceland was Landmannalaugar (the people’s pools). This area in the southern highlands of Iceland has geothermal pools that are popular for swimming but I was most keen on seeing the rhyolite mountains with their multi-hued slopes.
The region is amazing for hiking and we only had over half a day in the area so our hikes were relatively short. If I were going to return to Iceland, I would definitely go back here and bring the backpacking set-up and do at least 5 days of hiking and photography in this region. As it was the time was short and left me hungry for more!
To see each image in larger size and proper sharpness please click on each photo.
Darwin and I are pleased to announce our second eBook on the Kootenay Plains region: Kootenay Plains Spring, Summer and Fall Edition. We’re continuing in the ‘special places’ tradition started with the first eBook on this region so you’ll find lots of cultural and ecological notes on the importance of the area alongside pages crammed with info on great spots to take pictures. This is a varied and gorgeous place that is off the beaten path of the federal parks, so be sure to grab the guide and visit the area if your photographic wanderings take you up to this neck of the woods. This guide is lavishly illustrated so, even if you can’t make it to the area, you can be an ‘armchair traveler’ for ten bucks!
In other news, you may have noticed that we’ve sneaked another tour into our roster. On July 5-8, 2012, Darwin and I are leading a photo tour of the Nordegg mine, the Brazeau Collieries. This fascinating industrial complex is largely intact (if not operational) and offers intriguing glimpses into the past workings of a coal mine. From wide angle building views to the most detailed study of a rusty hinge, this place has something to please every shooter. We’ll spend a day and a half here with exclusive access. Plus, we’ll also visit some natural highlights of the Bighorn Wildland and Kootenay Plains. With only 8 max registrants, and the only photo tour we offer to this incredible region in the summer months, this tour is a great opportunity! Like always, we’re based out of cozy Aurum Lodge where we recharge our super-photo-powers by tucking into Madeleine’s fine, home-cooked meals. To learn more, see our write-up here and to register contact Aurum Lodge.
Here are some old film pictures of the mine.
We are happy to announce the latest addition to our How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies series of ebooks! Although one of the smallest parks in the great Canadian Rockies chain, Yoho National Park in British Columbia, is hefty on scenery. As always, our guides are illustrated with loads of images and we offer detailed information on putting yourself in the right time and place to get the best from your visit to Yoho National Park. Be sure to add this must-have ebook to your collection of Canadian Rockies guides!