A couple of weekends after our first Caribou sighting and we stubble on the mother load. Traveling north on the Ice Road we get to Brown Lake, at first we see nothing and continue north. It didn’t take much more than 10 or 15 minutes and we turn back and start heading home, we reach Brown Lake again and as we cross John notices something on the far side of the lake. More Caribou, a lot more. We stop grab our cameras and get ready to capture some images. We haven’t figure out how we missed these Caribou when heading north, we estimate about 200 animals. How do you miss 200 Caribou? After we exit the truck, I would guess we walked a kilometre from the Ice Road, following a snowmobile trail across the lake close to where our new hoofed friends are.
It always surprises me how seeing something you want to photograph get your juices following. John and I are on the lake unprotected from the wind and it had to be 20 to 25 minutes before we notice the temperature. I am also in awe of todays camera equipment. I never do anything special to protect my camera gear from the cold and I never really notice the difference in my battery life. I am sure the batteries rundown much quicker but, I don’t every remember it being an issue. This day on the Ice Road is no different, our gear is working just fine. Probably better than we are holding up.
After what I would guess is 40 minutes we start walking back to the truck. The temperature is really noticeable now and it is cold. The truck is warm and I am again thinking of the lack of care I take when using my equipment in the cold. Neither John or I do anything to protect our cameras, we just open the doors and climb in laying our cameras on the seat and start to get ready to continue our drive back to YK.
Heading south there is a lot of great conversation and some jokes at each others expense. This will remind John of that as I am sure at his age he has forgotten a time so far in the past, lol. Sorry John I couldn’t stop myself. Another great day on the winter road, maybe someone should do a reality show about the Ice Photographers or maybe next year I will mount an action camera to the truck and we will make our own show, lol. For now I guess my blog posts will have to do! Thanks for reading along and waiting for this second part of my Caribou posts. I hope you enjoyed it and as always Happy Shooting!
Between trips up the Winter Ice Road, I had to make a trip to Paulatuk for work. My flight connection required me to overnight in Inuvik and the next day the weather decided I should stay in Inuvik for a while, two days actually. On day two of our layover, my business partner and I decided to rent a truck and drive the Dempster Highway to the Yukon. I had never driven the Dempster before and just one day earlier it was closed due to weather conditions, this could get interesting. By lunch time we had our rental and some munchies and we were off. Our plan was to make it to the Yukon border and cross it before heading back. We knew we would stop in Fort McPherson for dinner on our return (my business partner has family there). We would make several stops to just take in our surroundings and I was snapping photos everywhere. It was a great day and I know now that I have to drive the entire Dempster Highway in summer or early fall, it was amazing. Here are some images I created during that day of driving. Thanks for stopping in, enjoy the images and for those of you looking for part two of the Caribou, don’t worry it is coming as is part two of Driving the Dempster. Thanks again and as always Happy Shooting.
After several weekend trips up the Winter Ice Road, John McKay and I finally found some wildlife. Our first sighting was on portage 23. As we headed south, after three to four hours of driving north toward the diamond mines, we spot a small group of Caribou, about two dozen. We are both out of the truck quickly with our cameras and within seconds we are shooting. It most have been three or four years since I have seen any Caribou and seeing these gives me quite a rush.
I took the lead walking through thigh deep snow to get closer, breaking a little bit of a trail, although not making that much difference for John who is following close behind. John doesn’t need to get as close as I do because he is shooting with that big Nikon 500mm f4 and using a 1.4x converter. It one point I notice two bucks locking horns. From my vantage point it was hard to get a great shot of them but, I made sure John was aware and he could move slightly off my path and capture them easily (I will have to get John to post some of his images here at a future date).
Soon we are joined by some members of the Winter Road maintenance crew and they quickly tells us that they haven’t seen Caribou this far south in a few years. I think this is a great sign for our Caribou population. The Caribou are pretty cooperative and don’t seem to be bothered to much by our presence. We keep shooting for quite a while and seem to have forgotten about the temperature. Our hot Tim Horton’s coffee is long gone by now, lol.
For you readers not from the NWT the map above, which I got from a Carlton University site, above may help a bit. The 0 km mark on this map is at the end of the Ingraham Trail and where travel on the ice begins. John and I would be at around the 125 km mark for this shoot. After a while we start to feel the cold and head back to the truck which is still running a few hundred feet away.
It was great day and the small herd of Caribou made the travel over several weekends worth our time and effort. We already knew we would be back on the ice again the next weekend. Thanks John for coming along it is always great to have company. As for the rest of you who are joining us through this blog post, thank you for being here now. I hope you are enjoying your viewing time, stay tuned for another Caribou post and as always Happy Shooting.
My first post of 2014 and it is the middle of March. Not the best start to the year for my little photography blog. I am pretty busy this time of year, with Government year-end in March and tax season upon us, my day job keeps my schedule full. Of course, I have been out shooting, never as much as I like, but shooting. Also, this time of year I do a great deal of travel in the north and I try to take some time for shooting in the remote northern communities but, it is dark early and work has to get done, so again it is never enough shooting time. At the start of 2014, when I was in Yellowknife and when I wasn’t traveling, a friend (John McKay) and I would make regular trips on the Winter Ice Roads to see what interesting things we could photography. We started out just trying to see wildlife, there was a Lynx and Kit sightings and we went to find them. There were also a number of wolf sightings but, we never saw either. A few Snowshoe Hare, a Fox, a few Ptarmigan and a couple of Pine Martin were what we saw. No amazing wildlife shots for me, just a few images to prove we didn’t get shut out, lol.
Each trip would get us farther and farther up the Ice Road with no real change in what we saw. I believe if we just had our wide-angle lenses there would have been wildlife everywhere but, with my 120-400mm mounted and my friend John’s 500mm f4 at the ready we weren’t seeing much.
Our road trips started to become regular outings, every Saturday and Sunday morning we would be up and out the door early. Grab some Tim Horton’s and a few snacks and off we would go. We would see lots of tracks in the snow, sometimes we would even follow them but, still no big change in our luck. By now we were stopping to capture some landscapes and different things but still carried most of our gear and had our long lenses at the ready.
Finally, we saw something that we haven’t seen around our area for a couple of years, Caribou. With Caribou hunting on hold and reports of their herds having reduced numbers, it was nice to see them again. We only saw a small group of about two dozen but, at least we finally spotted something.
John finally had a use for his Nikon 500 f4 and teleconverter, lol. The following week we would find another couple hundred Caribou to photograph. It was good fun. So, where are the Caribou images you ask? Well, you have to come back for my next post to see some of those. For now you just get the blurry ones that are in the background of the image above. So, after weeks of traveling the Ice Road we now felt the time we spent was well worth the investment. Next time some of the landscape and Caribou shots. For now, thanks for stopping by, sorry for the time between posts and as always Happy Shooting.
As 2013 comes to a close I went back and looked through all my images for the year, there weren’t as many as I thought but never the less, it was a great year of photography for me. I spent most of the year not worrying about posting or blogging but just focused more on things I wanted to see and do. I can honestly say I really enjoyed 2013. I decided I would pick 13 of my favourite images and do a post with those images. The images would need to span the entire year and they would need to show different subject matter not just landscapes (although most of them will be). It was actually much easier then I expected it to be and in a few hours I was down to around 25 images or so. I continued to reduce the number down, 19, 17, 15 and finally the 13 images shown below. Remembering taking each image was as rewarding as seeing my final choices. Again it was a great year. Out of the thousands of images I had taken in 2013 here are the ones I decided I enjoyed most (in no particular order). I hope you enjoy them as well. Thanks for following along this past year and stay tuned for images from 2014. As always Happy Shooting.
If you follow my blog, or if you are in the NWT and have been to a Skills Canada Northwest Territories Event, you may know that one of the things I love to do is mentoring students/youth in the Skills Program. I am the Photography Tech Chair for Skills Canada NWT and have done some photography workshops in a few NWT communities. I really enjoy that work, if you can even call it work. I love to see what the students create and I love their enthusiasm, it is a very rewarding program to be a part of. Recently I went back to one of those communities for a follow-up workshop and I was able to work with several students for a second time. So, I head back to Ulukhaktok. Jan Fullerton the E.D. of Skills Canada NWT and Aimee Yurris (a former Skills baking competitor who finished fourth at nationals) were also on the trip, the three of us would spend the better part of 4 days in the community teaching some of the high school students. Having Aimee added to the enjoyment because whatever her and the students would make I would get to eat, lol. It was great, thanks to Aimee for her amazing work.
Ok, before I keep rambling on about the trip and Skills I will get back to the reason for this post. One of the Ulukhaktok students has been bitten by the photography bug. Taking what she learned previously and applying it to her work, buying her own photography equipment and, as I am told, she can be seen around the community with camera in hand creating images. I hadn’t seen any of her work since my last trip so, I got handed a memory card (by the Vice Principal) and was told to look through the hundreds of pictures. Knowing we hadn’t done any work on photo editing yet, I wasn’t looking to see images that had lots of post processing but, images right out of the camera. Images that would tell me what this young lady was seeing. I would have a little insight into how she was applying her photography knowledge, knowledge gained from the previous workshop and a year of shooting. I wasn’t expecting anything, no preconceived ideas of what I would see, no idea of the subject matter, I was just interested in seeing the world of this young photographer. Well, I was very surprised. I knew to expect some good images but I was a little blown away. There were 624 images on the memory card I was given to review and there were lots of great ones. I had trouble deciding which ones I would use for a post production discussion and a general photography discussion. While Aimee worked with the students, I narrowed my choices – first down to about 65 images and then down further to a dozen or so. It was hard, not just because there were lots of great shots but also, because I was picking what I enjoyed with no idea what my young student liked. I told myself to be careful and continued. Once my decision was complete I went ahead and started some minor editing. No crazy post processing, just the basics. I would keep a copy of the original images for side by side comparison and again some discussion. When I had everything the way I wanted, I did a couple of private slide shows for some school staff, they were quite pleased. During our second day, Jan and I did a session on editing and Adobe Lightroom (I actually use Aperture but they have very similar tool sets). We had some images for discussion and would do some editing live on-screen. During one of the breaks I decided to play slide show I made to the young photographer who created the original images. The slide show featured the edited images, the ones I had chosen for editing. After we did some editing on the original versions so she could watch what things I would do and what effect they would have on the images. I would guess we spent less than 2 minutes on each image. I think it was a great teaching tool and it was just as important to me as anyone else. So, what did I see you ask?
Well, I would like to introduce you to the work/images created by Natalja Westwood a High School student in Helen Kalvak School in Ulukhaktok, NWT. I am proud to say Natalja was in a workshop I lead and I will thank her for showing me that this stuff I do with Skills Canada NWT is well worth all the effort. Great work Natalja keep it up and enjoy what you do. To anyone in Ulukhaktok or anyone who may visit there, Natalja is the one carrying around the Nikon gear and snapping away. Here are the images Natalja created, enjoy thanks for reading along and as Happy Shooting.
I spent the better part of four days in Ulukhaktok, November 30 to December 3, 2013. The first thing I noticed on this trip was that the sun no longer came up. It appears that Ulukhaktok has some light, it looks like the half hour before the sun actually rises and only last for two and one half hours, which is great if you have nothing to de between 10:30am and around 2:00pm. For me I would spend most of that time at the school. On my second night, while out for dinner, the topic of discussion turned to Aurora. I thought that due to its latitude Ulukhaktok didn’t have big Aurora shows like we get in Yellowknife and I was told that was correct. As we left our dinner host for the evening there was a hint of Aurora sitting lower in the sky and as we headed to the hotel the Aurora grew. I was overjoyed that there was Aurora in Ulukhaktok and I quickly grabbed my camera equipment and headed outside to capture a few images. It was fun shooting the northern lights in unfamiliar territory. I shot for a little while and decided to stop after the RCMP came and checked me out in case I was drinking, lol. I guess walking back and forth behind my tripod in the middle of the street looked odd to the local RCMP. We all had a good laugh, I took two more shots and then headed inside for the night. I don’t think this is my best Aurora work but, when will I ever get a chance to shoot Aurora in Ulukhaktok again. I did some shooting inside the school and even got to photograph the Elders teaching some youth traditional culture. One of the instructors gave me some sweet root to try. I was told it was called Eskimo gum. It wasn’t chewy like gum and after chewing for ten minutes or so I would describe it like chewing a dirty stick, lol. Maybe that is why no one else tried it. There were no more shots taken outside until we were at the airport waiting for our flight home. I capture a few images while waiting for First Air to arrive. From there we were on the plane back to Kugluktuk and then back home. Another great week to be me. Here is some of what I saw during my four days. Enjoy, thanks for being here and as always Happy Shooting.