Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category
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!
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.
The night before I headed to Paulatuk, there was a small Aurora show here in Yellowknife. The amazing Pat Kane asked a few days before that if anyone was going to shoot Aurora to let him know. Pat wanted to go out and shoot people shooting the Aurora. I sent Pat a message and did the same to Steve Schwarz. We were off to capture the Northern Lights. We weren’t out long and the light show wasn’t the greatest but, we captured them anyway. More importantly I was out shooting the Aurora and Pat Kane was out shooting as well. I am blessed!! Oh, it was great that Steve Schwarz was there as well. Here is a little of what I captured that night. Enjoy the images, thanks for hangin’ and as always Happy Shooting.
This morning, a few of us Photographers from here in Yellowknife, met at Tim Horton’s for coffee and then went out for a photo shoot. Only three of us actually got up before sunrise and made it out for coffee. From Tim’s we headed out to the cliffs near the Dettah Road to create some images. The position of the rising sun was different from where I expected at that location but, that was fine, I would shoot anyway. Including coffee time I was out for about three hours. It was a fun, short shoot. Funny, I actually felt a little chilly and it was only minus eleven degrees. Wait until the minus forty weather arrives. It is always nice to have some company when shooting. I kept a few images from this morning and below are four samples of what we saw. Look for Trudy and Sherry in the last image, they really add some scale to the photo. So here are the images, enjoy, thanks for stopping by and as always Happy Shooting.
Being here in the north has some nice advantages. I have written here before about the abundance of Aurora we see but, there is another advantage which is Aurora related. That advantage is that for those who live and photograph here, we get to meet and mingle with other Aurora Photographers. I am lucky to know several of them. One Photographer that I really enjoy shooting with and seeing what he can create is Adam Hill. Adam resides in Hay River, NWT and he is doing some amazing things with his camera and the Northern Lights. I asked Adam to do a post here on my Blog. Adam agreed to share what he does with some insight into how he does it, enjoy. Here it is, take it away, Adam!
The Northern Lights should be considered as one of the great natural wonders of the world. Imagine laying down on a cool fall evening or standing on a frozen lake dressed in your warmest winter clothes while the sky lights up with bands, waves and ribbons of colour. It’s a breathtaking experience. Ah, the aurora. I never get tired of seeing these light up the sky. I usually get tired from doing it though. Throughout the aurora ‘season’ I’m constantly checking the weather and aurora forecasts. These forecasts will help you get ready for nights of heightened activity but the best way to help your chances of viewing them is as simple as checking out your window or going out into your yard. When you see them, grab your photo gear and head out somewhere dark!
First we should talk about photo gear and what you need and what you don’t. When I photograph the aurora I only bring what I’ll need to use that night: one camera body, usually one lens (a good, large aperture wide-angle), a headlamp, warm clothes (even in the fall and especially in the winter), an extra battery, a cable release and of course, your tripod. Leave all your other gear at home. Become a minimalist when you photograph the aurora and get in the habit of packing your gear in the same place every time, it will help you when you’re searching your camera bag for your stuff. I usually leave the big back packs at home and pack a simple shoulder bag.
When I head out I have a location in mind where I want to photograph. If it’s the fall aurora, I want somewhere with water, still or running. The water can reflect the aurora and this will help build the foreground of your photo while your aurora is in the background, making it a much stronger photograph.
If it’s the winter I like somewhere dark, with snow laden trees or some other element to use in my foreground. The light from the aurora will illuminate the snow in your foreground to make it useful.
So now I’m out, and I’m patiently waiting and finally the aurora are beginning to swirl and twirl above me. Here comes the tricky part: anticipating what to do with the aurora. There is no easy formula as some may say. The aurora can happen fast and they’re impossible to predict. Have your camera set on your sturdiest tripod. Your camera’s ISO set to a higher setting, I prefer around 800-1200 sometimes I’ll push it to 2000 if I need to. Newer camera models can go upwards of 3200 without real noise distortion. If your camera has any noise cancellations features, use them. Auto focus won’t work in darkness, so turn your camera to manual focus and if you use a professional grade lens turn your focus just a little left of the ‘L’ marked near infinity. The best method to find your ‘sweet spot’ is to find your infinity focus in the day time when you can accurately check your focus. Use a small sharpie or piece of tape to mark off where your focus dial should be. To increase your sharpness you should also use your mirror lock and use your cable release to minimize and handling of your camera. If you don’t have a cable release use your camera’s timer setting at 2 seconds so you don’t have your hands on the camera when it begins to expose.
Turn off your automatic settings and go into Manual mode. This will allow you to control your aperture and shutter. I generally leave my aperture as wide as possible. If the aurora are moving fast and bright try to set your shutter speed to 5 seconds to 10 seconds. If you use longer shutter times you can easily over expose the aurora and turn them into a messy blur. If the aurora are slow and dim you can use this to your advantage by having to expose longer. I find these aurorae to be easier to work with, you won’t get the crisp movements with brighter aurora but you can use the longer exposure time to help expose your foregrounds. Set your aperture to it’s lowest number (usually F/2.8 or F/3.5 for most common lenses). This setting will allow the most of light to come into your camera’s sensor, allowing you to use a faster shutter speed.
Trying to balance the highlights from the aurora and the shadows of the foregrounds is one of the great challenges. One tip I find very useful is dim your LCD screen. Do not trust your LCD when you’re photographing at night. The LCD will make your image appear brighter than it is. Always check your histogram and make sure your highlights aren’t blown out and your shadows are exposed.
When your composing your photo try to set up before the aurora are swirling above you. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and get ‘beauty blinded’ by the moment. Make sure to move around, take a great photograph in each location then move to a new vantage for your next photograph. Don’t stay in the same place with the same view all night long. You won’t enjoy coming back in after a long night of photographing with only one view of a landscape. Try and use the landscape around to help you frame your photographs. Incorporate landscape features to help build a strong landscape instead of just photographing the sky. You’ll thank yourself later.
Editing your photographs is another story and you need to be able to properly edit your photos properly to make them look right. The aurora are surprisingly bright in comparison to the rest of the photograph. If you’re in the Hay River area and are interested in learning more about the aurora and how to photograph/edit them check at the Hay River library, you may find a free Aurora Workshop from yours truly!
Thanks Adam for doing this guest post, it is a great piece, thanks to everyone for checking in to the blog, enjoy and as always Happy Shooting.
Last night Steve Schwarz and I went for an overnight camping trip on the Ingraham Trail. Our original plan was to head out on Great Slave Lake to an island on Wool Bay and overnight there. The wind had other ideas. So, as I said we headed out the Ingraham Trail. Our Plan B was to take the travel trailer out to a location near some water and wait for the Aurora to arrive. It wasn’t a bad Plan B, we had 30 feet of living space, lights, a fridge, a stove, a furnace and of course beds. The boating plan had, a tent and sleeping bags. I actually would have really enjoyed the originally trip but, with 30 km/h winds the idea of going 35 or 40 km on Great Slave in a freighter canoe probably wasn’t a good one. We arrived at a place we liked and set-up for the night. The Aurora came early and stayed past our willingness to stay awake. It was a great light show. This post however will skip over the Aurora images I captured and will focus on what happened this morning. Before we headed back to Yellowknife we wanted to capture some landscapes and other images from the area where we spent the night. We hiked around the rocky hills near Tibbett Lake and captured a few great images. I wandered over one rocky area and a young eagle flew up and past me. Steve, who was better prepared for such an encounter, noticed it first and watched it as it journeyed past. The eagle landed on a tree a couple hundred feet away. Steve had his Leica 400mm lens mounted and was getting a few shots, I was there taking landscapes and had a 17-50mm lens. Unlike Steve, who was carrying two cameras with two different lenses, I had only one and my other camera with the long lens was still in the truck. I decided to hike towards our eagle friend just to see how cooperative he/she might be. Amazingly, the eagle let me get to around 30 or 40 feet, close enough that I was actually able to get a couple of shots with my short lens. As I continued closer the eagle finally flew away but, he/she circled and landed just a 100 feet or so from the tree it had just left. Again, I found my way closer as Steve continued to shoot from a distance. The eagle seemed just as fascinated by me as I was by it. Again, I got very close. When the eagle flew off for a second time, it went a little farther from us. We headed in its direction and I made a short detour to get my longer lens. I continued to try to get close and Steve continued to focus from a little farther away. The eagle continued watching me approach and again allowed me to get pretty close. Then it flew off once more. I knew the direction the eagle flew but didn’t see where it finally stopped. I called to Steve to see if he could still see the big bird and he told me to keep moving straight ahead. I continued but still couldn’t find it, all the while conversing with Steve (quite loudly as we were quite a distance apart). At one point I stopped and explained I couldn’t see the eagle as Steve shouts that he/she was in a tree almost directly above me, only 20 or so feet away. Still I was blind, lol. With that, the beautiful creature flew off again. I continued to move in its direction but, this time I wouldn’t be able to get that close. I took a few more images before the eagle finally flew directly toward Steve and then headed off, well past our view. It was awesome. Never before have I seen an eagle interact with a person like this. I was like a kid in a candy store. By now we had spent more time shooting than I expected and it was time to hook-up the trailer and start heading home. It was an amazing way to spend the morning. Steve, thanks for agreeing to come out, it was a great photography trip. For everyone one else visiting the blog, thanks for doing so. Below are some eagle images, the first 4 taken with my little 17-50mm and final 2 with my 120-400mm. Enjoys, thanks again and as always Happy Shooting.
Ok, for those of you thinking of old movies and came to see Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in all their glory, sorry, lol. Yesterday was a great day. Around 5:00 pm my niece came by with a special treat. She brought her 6 week old daughter and we got to spend about an hour and a half with little Kaiyer. She was awesome and for such a small thing when she wants to make noise she really can. After our visit Dale and I headed out to Pontoon Lake to meet some friends. We were planning on having dinner there and staying to catch any Aurora that might appear. I had big plans for a sunset shoot at a special location as well. We arrived and met our friends. Sunset was about an hour away so, I decided to hang out at Pontoon and leave my special sunset spot for another day (maybe even tonight). We unloaded the truck and almost right away I wandered around looking for images to create. I took several dozen images before the sun dipped below the horizon. Once the sun was down we all made dinner and enjoyed the company of friends. Later, I again started to wander and started to notice that the Aurora was starting to brew. Aurora photography started in full swing. There were cameras and tripods all around and lots of images were being gathered. This continued until around 1:30 am at which time we started to pack up for the short drive home. It was a great evening and night. We arrived home unloaded our things and quickly cleaned up (no more campfire smell). It was around 4:00 am before I final decided to catch some Z’s. I was up at 8:00 am to get Megan to the dentist and then I decided it would be a good time to process some images and do a new post. This is it! So, below are some images created during our latest adventure. Enjoy, thanks for coming by and as always Happy Shooting.