Saturday, May 28, 2011

Top 5 favourite nature sounds

Last night me and my wife where outside and we started talking about how quiet our neighbourhood is. I don't want to get all sentimental about this subject but coming from a country where noise is always present I thought I would make a list of sounds I really enjoy hearing here.

Top 5
1. Hearing nothing
This is definitely number one on the list for obvious reasons. Experiencing stepping out of the car in the middle of nowhere and hearing nothing has been a very scary experience for me. Hearing only but you own breathing is weird. Holding that breath and listening to your own heart beat is even scarier. Yes it happened to me once!

2. Waves crashing on a shore
Nothing is more relaxing then this. I was at Ghost Lake this summer where I was sitting in a corner of the lake shooting rocks when it daunted on me. I was hearing nothing, not even the wind, except for these waves. Very relaxing. I almost forgot to photograph that scene. I was in a state of trance.

3. Sounds of coyotes howling
When I am out at night shooting the aurora or the night sky I am always amazed how close these guys sound. I am sure there howls are carried a long way. But sometimes I just get scared hearing them. It's like there sitting right next to me.

4. Ice cracking
The first time I've heard that booming noise of ice cracking on a frozen lake I was startled. It is amazing how loud this can get. I had a really weird experience when I was out shooting Patricia Lake last spring. I was standing on the shore line when all of the sudden a loud boom echoed in that valley! I think I jumped a meter high!

5. The sound of birds/frogs
This is a tie. Just wonderful to hear these creatures tell me that they think I am too close for their safety. Or hear the sounds of birds in flight chirping away at each other. I even watched 2 geese last week recreating a little Top Gun scene with each other. They where flying in formation when all of the sudden one broke away dove straight down. The other one closely followed. That gave a total different meaning to 'I feel the need, the need for speed!'

Have you encountered some sounds you really like listening to? I would love to hear what those are!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nuts, crazy and insane

That's what my wife told me when I said that I was going out this morning to shoot some landscapes, in the pouring rain. You should know that it has been raining for the last 4 days. Dry coulees are now surging rivers. It is crazy. I think I've never seen this much rain in my life!

The reason why I went out? It's all because of Paul Zizka's Caffeine and Camera outings. Every now and then Paul organizes these photo get-togethers for all people who are interested in photography. It's more of a social meeting with no strings attached. Pretty cool.

Anyway. So this morning we (Paul, Kurtis from Spindrift Photography and I set out to discover an area around Mount Yamnuska. Yes it was raining, yes it was wet, yes the camera got soaked but no it did not fail! I love this 5DmkII. It's pretty much bullet proof (knocking on wood).

The location was a success. Sure a spot to revisit once this weather clears up a bit. Today though we had a lot of low hanging clouds and did I mention a lot of rain already? Oh yes I did...
Maybe the weather was not perfect but I hope these pictures show you that you don't need to wait for perfect weather to enjoy photography.
Actually, photographers often like inclement weather.

I had a lot of fun meeting these fine pro photographers. I will be doing this again when the opportunity arrises.

Foggy Morning Yamnuska Spring

Foggy Layers Yamnuska Spring

Hillside in Fog Spring

Hillside in Fog Spring2

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I must be feeling generous!

I had such a good time with my '500rd follower on Twitter' contest that I thought...
Why don't I do something for my Facebook friends? I don't want you guys to feel left out and all.

So from now on, connecting with me on Facebook and 'liking' my page means that you receive a 20% discount at checkout! Just punch in the code and your set!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

500px? Never heard of it? Until now!

Have you heard about 500px? Well I had not either until this week. And I think I would not have heard about it if I was not a member of the Twitter Universe.

500px is a 'brand new' photo sharing site, from photographers to photographers. It is not 'brand new' but it's funny to witness a website boom first hand. It is a lot more exciting then Flickr to say the least! And the quality of the photography is INSANE!
A lot of big names have taken the jump to 500px as well. Names like Jim Patterson, Adam Barker, Jim Goldstein, Scott Hotaling and Vadim Balakin just to name only a FEW photographers I totally respect and look up to.

The cool thing about 500px is, is that you can 'like' or 'dislike' a photo (your photos are getting rated, it's like an easy way to see what works and what does not). There are categories you can put your shots into (makes it a lot easier to look at ONLY landscapes). A 'leader board' shows you popular, editors choice and upcoming work. You can add your work to a dedicated portfolio page. And there is an option to sell your shots as well. It is free but their is an option to pay a $50 annual fee and that lets you alter a bunch of things. I went with the free option for now. That means I am not 'AWESOME'. Oh well... that's ok.

I'm impressed to say the least. And as a graphics designer I have to say that this website looks so damn good and is so easy to use. You should give it a try and befriend me! You can find my profile at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We have a winner!

I am so happy to announce the winner of my 'who will be my 500rd follower on Twitter'-contest.

Turns out Gary Paakkonen from Ontario – quite the photographer himself – was the lucky guy!
I'm super stoked for a number of reasons:
- I'm happy that my 11x14 print is staying inside Canada.
- I'm pleased that my print is going to a fellow photographer.
- And I'm happy Gary was both surprised and excited to know that he won!

Gary choose the photo 'Spectacular Sunrise over Moraine Lake' as his favourite shot. So Gary, this is what the final print will look like. I will be dropping it in the mail very shortly!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ha! I didn't know that!

Something weird happened over the weekend.
We were doing some spring (I hope I didn't jinx the weather) clean up in our garage. When Sarah came across a box of books I kinda 'forgot' about. Well the truth is I've been to lazy to put them in our basement. ahum

So Sarah was cleaning out her horse riding stuff and some dirt fell into this box of books. When she opened it to clean it out she saw the book by Douglas Leighton, called The Canadian Rockies. It is one of the classics that you got to have.
But underneath she saw a name that she knew I particularly love. Darwin Wiggett! People who know me, know that Darwin is my favourite Canadian landscape photographer. I simply love his work. I can't help it. I really look up to him because – in my opinion – he is one of the greats when it comes down to photographing the Rockies.
I've met Darwin once at a Canon 7D presentation at the Camera Store in Calgary last year or so (I was there to meet him, I could care less about the 7D). I snook up on him and we had a really nice conversation about our passions. We were talking a bit about Belgium, Cochrane and photography and how much I liked his stuff. He is one of those awesome down-to-earth guys. I kindly asked him to sign my little bible. Darwin's 'How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies'. A book I bought on one of our trips prior on living here. I still use it regularly. Although the book is almost falling apart now. Darwin was happy to sign it.

It's strange that in the 2 years we have lived in Cochrane, I have yet to bump into him. I guess Cochrane is bigger than I thought.

OK so back to the story. Sarah came in saying 'did you know we have a book by Darwin Wiggett?'. I looked at her with these big eyes asking her 'WHERE?!'. So Sarah took it out of the box and brought it in. The book is called 'Darwin Wiggett photographs Canada' and is one of the first books by Darwin. But this is the weird part of the story. The book is in Dutch (yeah imagine THAT!) and we both have no recollection of EVER buying it.

I guess I have another book for you to sign Darwin!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Aurora Activity

On Friday I was watching the skies at the office, hoping they would clear up for the night. Spaceweather was predicted to spark up right around sunset for our part of the world. And so it did. All the websites that I checked (on a daily basis) showed me 'something' was going on.
So I charged the battery, and off I went.

At first, the display was fighting against the glow of the setting sun. I came to my first spot and did some shots. Yep there they were. A nice glowing arc against the northern sky. Nothing fancy, stationary, but I was happy. It's been a while since I was able to spot them (full moons and bad weather have basically spoiled my previous attempts).

11.30pm came and nothing had changed. By this time I was on my second (darker location). At 11.45 – I was just about to pack up – I noticed the activity picking up ever so slightly. And then seconds later, BAM the show started. Fast moving curtains of green glowing neon against a star littered northern sky. Not a breeze in the air. Just about as perfect as it was going to get. Then minutes later purple spikes started to appear! I had a hard time figuring out what to shoot. Where to look. What to shoot next.

Around 12.30, by now the display had climbed up in the sky and those spikes where just about touching the Northern star (so that's a long ways up!), I was standing there – in awe – holding out both arms while I was talking to myself 'look at this, LOOK AT THIS!'

I was home at 3. The show was still going on but I was toast. Too much excitement for me that night. I can't wait until solar activity will peak.

Aurora Borealis - Images by Olivier Du Tre