2013 Year in Review

As we head into 2014, I thought I’d look back at the last year and share with you some of the highlights and the images that go with them. This isn’t really what I’d call a top 10, top 13, top 20, etc., but simply a look back at the year that was. This was a very busy year for me that included a few pretty big changes, not the least of which was a complete career change. I’ve moved away from my finishing carpentry business of 10 or 12 years to become a real estate agent and am now working together with my wife. Finishing the courses, studying, and exams all while continuing to work and balance my wife’s busy schedule along with family life was quite a challenge, but I think the worst is over! We also sold our house and moved to the opposite end of our city, sold my truck and trailer, bought a minivan (definitely didn’t see that one coming!), and adopted a couple of cats. As you can understand, I had significantly less time to get out and shoot photos this year which is definitely something I hope to change for 2014.

So, I’ll start at the beginning. In January, we took a family holiday to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai. Did I mention it’s beautiful? I’m pretty certain that Hawaii is one of the most gorgeous places on Earth. I’ve been there twice now, and each time I’ve been blown away by the landscape and it’s beauty. While this wasn’t a photo specific trip, I did manage to sneak in a little bit of shooting here and there and came away with a few keepers.

Hanakapi'ai Falls, NaPali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Rocky shoreline near Brennecke's Beach

Ocean and sky long exposure image near Brennecke's Beach

In March I had to say farewell to my very good friend Wayne Simpson as he packed up his family and moved across the country to Ontario. Many of you will recognize his name as it appeared quite frequently here on the blog over the last couple years. We had many adventures, made a lot of photos, broke some gear (wait, that was just me…) and of course, lots of laughs and good times. This next image was taken the last time we got together to shoot up at Spray Lakes right before he left. Miss ya Wayne!

Cracked ice on Spray Lakes and the Goat Mountain Range

I was very honoured to be invited to join the IRIS Photographic Society of Alberta this year. Working together with members Peter Carroll, Royce Howland, Samantha Chrysanthou, Darwin Wiggett, and Kerry Smith has been a fantastic experience. This next image was taken on one of the workshops we led at the Calgary Lilac Festival in May. This was just a fun little abstract image I made at one of the street vendor’s booths. Rows of brightly coloured woven bracelets captured during a longer exposure while panning the camera gave me this result.


In July I went on an awesome backpacking trip down in Waterton National Park with good friends Sam and Darwin. We spent 5 days in the backcountry with beautiful weather, stunning scenery, sore feet, and lots of good times. While this wasn’t really intended as a photo trip, we were still a group of photographers after all, and made a few images along the way.

Sunrise at Maskinonge Lake

Grass reflected in Maskinonge Lake at sunrise

Sunrise at Twin Lakes

In the fall I made a trip up to the Kootenay Plains area for a couple days and thoroughly enjoyed exploring some new area for me at that time of year. I’ve only been up there in the winter a couple of times but never the fall. It was definitely worth the visit and I hope to spend more time up there getting to know the area in the coming year.

Sunrise at Whitegoat Lakes with Elliot Peak, Kootenay Plains, Alberta, Canada

Aspen trees in fall using motion blur technique


On a cold day in December, I jumped into the car with Sam and Darwin and we headed east of Calgary to do some exploring on the prairies. We didn’t get out of the car much that day, and mostly just explored and chatted along the way. When we did get out and shoot towards the end of the day, I found this little scene in the ditch beside the road.

Snow drift pattens on the prairies

As I mentioned earlier, I’m now a real estate agent. So it only makes sense then that I would be taking the photos of houses for our listings, right? Right. There’s actually more to this and it’s something I’ve been working on for a little while. When my wife started working in real estate a few years ago, I was just in the very beginning stages of my photography addiction career and it made sense for me to take the photos she needed because I had a camera, and I was into doing it. Of course, the photos were terrible and didn’t have any idea what I was doing. Over the last couple years, I’ve taken much more of an interest in this area of photography and have been delving deep into learning as much as I can. I photographed over 30 homes last year, and feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of a few things. This is the first I’ve mentioned that this is something I’m working and these are the first images I’m sharing here on the blog. I guess I just haven’t felt like it’s been really ready to share yet, or had any images I was all that confident in. After setting up a shoot with a former client of mine who’s house I’d worked on in the past, I made a couple images that I’m quite happy with. This is something I want to do a LOT more of, and I hope to have much more to share in the coming year.



Lastly, I want to share some of the best news of the year and that is that my wife and I are expecting our second daughter this spring! This is probably my favourite photo of the year and it’s one I didn’t take.


Thanks so much for stopping in and having a look! I appreciate the support from all of you who’ve, liked, followed, plus 1’d, voted, or just taken a peek at my posts on social media the last year. I wish you all the best in 2014, and look forward to connecting and sharing more with you.

Fall Colours on the Kootenay Plains

It’s been a little while since my last post here on the blog so I thought I’d share a few photos from a trip out to the Kootenay Plains earlier this month. It was just a quick trip starting with an early (3:30 am!) departure from Calgary, a full day of shooting, and then heading back towards home the next day. While brief, it was great to get out and see some more of this wonderful area of the Rockies. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in this area, and what time I have spent has only been during the winter months, so it was nice to explore some new locations and experience fall here for the first time.

Mt. Peskett and Siffleur Mountain in fall

I was also fortunate enough to run into the unofficial master of the Kootenay Plains, my good friend Darwin Wiggett of oopoomoo who was leading his annual Glory of Autumn in the Canadian Rockies workshop. I joined up and shot together with him and his group for a couple hours and had a great time. They were a fun group of folks and very talented photographers too. Check out this post to see some of the work they produced while on the workshop.

Here are a few more images. The conditions were mostly overcast while I was there which was great for working these type of detail scenes in the trees.

Aspen trees with fall colours

There was also plenty of wind, (something this area is known for) which made for some interesting images using long exposures. In this next image, the wind was just steady and strong enough to create some nicely blurred colours in the leaves while keeping the tree trunks still and sharply focused.

Aspen trees with fall colours long exposure

I couldn’t resist making some panning and zooming motion blur images as well. The conditions were just perfect and these are always a lot of fun.

Aspen trees panning motion blur

Aspen trees panning motion blur

Prayer flags in forest zoom blur

Thanks for stopping in and having a look!

Waterton – Home of the Foggy Sunrise

I really enjoyed my recent trip to Waterton Lakes National Park back in July with Sam and Darwin. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Waterton, so it was great to get to know the park a little more and do some exploring in new areas. It’s quite a unique little park with a lot to offer so it’s definitely a place I want to spend more time exploring and photographing. I’ve shared a few of my images from the trip already which those of you following along on Facebook and Google+ may have already seen, but I thought I’d share a few more here and elaborate a little on the stories that go with them. Also, make sure you check out the 2 part series of posts (part 1, part 2) over on oopoomoo (Sam and Darwin’s blog) that feature 2 collections of images from the 3 of us.

Over the course of the 5 days of our trip, Darwin and I were up early each morning (well, Darwin was at least… I slept in once) to shoot sunrise, and we noticed some interesting patterns in the weather… namely the mysterious fog that seemed to consistently roll in each morning during the peak light. Only 1 of the locations we photographed (shown below) appeared to be exempt from this phenomenon.

Sunrise at Lone Lake

We were particularly baffled while shooting at Twin Lakes the two mornings we spent there. On both days, we awoke to crystal clear skies, only to see the fog start to drift in right as the light was kissing the tops of the nearby peaks. Within minutes, as the light made it’s way down the mountains, the fog would follow and before long, completely fill in the entire valley. The first time this happened, we at least got a little bit of light and made a few images before things closed in, but on the second morning it rolled in even quicker, and before any sunlight had made an appearance, so we just shrugged it off and went back to bed. After just an hour or so, the fog had moved out and the sky was completely clear again. As I mentioned in my earlier post, this wasn’t a hard core photo trip for us, so we just kept things pretty relaxed and if the light happened, we went for it and if not we just took it easy. Here are a couple of frames from that spot:

Sunrise at Lower Twin Lake

Sunrise at Lower Twin Lake

The first morning of the trip was a similarly foggy experience. The image I shared in my previous post was made that morning and just shortly after that was taken, the fog made it’s way in. Often, when I’m faced with less than interesting skies or obstructed backgrounds, I’ll just simply look down and see what I can find to make an image that doesn’t require the grand view. That’s exactly what I did for this next image as the fog obscured the mountains beyond the lake. There was still plenty of colour in the sky so I composed this little scene and made use of the reflections in the surface of the water. I think this one just might be one of my favourites from the trip.

Grass and reflections in Maskinonge Lake

I’ll leave you with one more from this spot on the shore of Maskinonge Lake. This one was taken just as the fog was on it’s way out, and before Darwin and I headed back for a much needed cup of coffee!

Sunrise at Maskinonge Lake

Thanks so much for stopping in and having a look. I hope you’ve enjoyed these, and will make a trip to Waterton and experience this beautiful gem of a park for yourself!

5 Days in Waterton

Sunrise at Maskinonge Lake

First off, I need to apologize for the lack of activity here on the blog lately. Life has been racing by at an alarming pace lately and time for shooting photos and sharing them has been tough to come by. After an extremely busy couple of months, I was able to get away last week for a much needed break and joined my good friends Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett for a backpacking trip in beautiful Waterton Lakes National Park. We had a great time together exploring some new areas of the park that none of us had visited before and were blessed with unbelievably great weather for the week. I really enjoyed the fact that, despite being photographers, this wasn’t a photo specific trip and we were able to just enjoy our time appreciating nature and each other’s company. Of course, we did do a little bit of shooting (like I said, we are photographers after all) but it was at a much more relaxed pace, and without any kind of hard core agenda. Personally, I find that this kind of pace feeds the creative process in a very natural way and encourages me to slow down and really observe things before racing to click the shutter.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip with just the right balance of hard work, exploration, relaxation, photography, and especially good company. Thanks Sam and Darwin, I’d take to the backcountry again with you any time!

Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing more images and stories from the trip soon!



It’s been a little while since my last update here on the blog so I thought I’d take a minute to share a couple new things that are happening.

First off, I was very honoured just recently, to be invited to join the IRIS Photographic Society of Alberta. The information on the IRIS website explains what they are about much better than I can so please, head over there and have a look. I’m very excited to join up with and begin working along side the rest of the IRIS team that includes: Peter Carroll, Royce Howland, Darwin Wiggett, Samantha Chrysanthou, and Kerry Smith.

Secondly, we are holding our first ever Friends of IRIS event later this month at the Calgary Lilac Festival and you are invited. Come out and join Peter, Royce and I on May 26 as we take a small group of photographers out for a fun and educational day of photographing the festival. Come shake off the winter blues at the event that kicks off Calgary’s vibrant festival season, and sharpen your street photography skills with three photographers who will encourage and challenge your photography!


Check out this link to the IRIS website for details and registration.

A Different Take

Here are a couple new images from my trip to Kauai back in February. I thought these might be a good example of how it pays to find different ways to shoot the same scene. So often I see photographers set up to “get the shot” only to pack up and leave to another location to do the same thing all over again. I honestly believe those photographers are truly missing out on so many potentially great images and what’s more, the enjoyment and satisfaction that comes from working a scene and really looking for images.

This shot was taken just a few steps away and within minutes of this image . You can actually see the same group of rocks that were used in the foreground of that shot in the middle left of the image above. By using a different combination of lens, filters, processing, and most importantly, vision I was able to come away with two uniquely different takes on the same scene.

This one is another example of the same idea. After I made my first image from this scene, I moved in much closer for this more intimate view.


As always, thanks for stopping in!

The Right Tool For The Job

After posting this image on Facebook a little while back, a comment left by my good friend Peter Carroll sparked an idea that I thought was worth exploring a little further. After I jokingly suggested that a certain piece of gear had come “to the rescue” on this shot, his comment suggested, in a very complimentary way, that instead I had wisely chosen that particular tool to create the image. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that great wisdom very often frequents my decision making process, every once in a while things do seem to come together for me, and I end up with a nice photo.

I find it’s often a challenging process of trial and error (believe me, lots of error most days!) to really capture the scene and tell the story I’m looking for. That’s where Peter’s comment about tool choices comes into play. With all the different tools we have available to us in our camera bags these days, it can sometimes be overwhelming just knowing where to start. That’s where knowing your gear, what it can do, and how to use it becomes so important. Even more importantly to the process however, is the concept of visualizing what it is you’re trying to capture to begin with. Putting these things together well, is what takes you from just making random snap shots and hoping for something to work, to actually making intelligent and intentional choices behind the camera and creating your own images.

In the case of this image, after trying a few other wide angle compositional ideas on this scene (which I’ll share in a future post), I made the decision to try something more minimal and simplistic. I noticed this group of rocks that were separated from the rest of the shore line and set up this composition. This shot below is pretty much how it would have looked if you had been standing there with me. I was shooting with my 24-70mm lens set at 58mm giving this a pretty normal perspective. My polarizing filter was already in place to cut the reflections on the surface of the water and, if memory serves me correctly, I believe I was using a 2 stop hard edge graduated filter as well.

This wasn’t the shot I had in mind yet, though. I wanted to create something a little more abstract looking as opposed to this very literal interpretation. I was going to use a long exposure to smooth out the surface of the water to help isolate the rocks even further, and show the motion of the quickly moving clouds. To accomplish this, I used my 10 stop solid nd filter (Lee Big Stopper) to allow me to lengthen my exposure time to 1 minute. Over the course of those 60 seconds, the motion of the water was recorded as a beautiful blur and I got some nice streaking clouds in the sky. In short, the result was pretty much exactly what I had hoped to capture.

Going back to the Facebook conversation that started this whole thing, the Big Stopper was the piece of gear we were talking about. This filter was what made it possible to capture the image I had in mind. Without it, I couldn’t have made this shot. But what’s important to note is that it was not luck or chance circumstance that put the filter on the front of my lens that morning. It was a series of calculated decisions that were made with the clear intention of creating this final image. Whether you want to call it wisdom as Peter so kindly did, or not (I’d lean more towards not if I were you) is up to you. I’d say I just got lucky with a good idea and happened to have to tools I needed to pull it off.

There’s something extremely satisfying about the process of seeing an image (or the potential for an image) in your mind and then being able to put all the right tools in place and watch it come together in front of you. It certainly doesn’t always work out for me, but it’s sure nice when it does!

Saltwater and Sunrise

Here is another image from my recent trip to beautiful Kauai. For the first portion of our trip we were staying on the east side of the island in the town of Kapa’a. This little stretch of east facing beach was just a short walk from the condo so I was able to make my way down to shoot the sunrise a time or two. On this particular morning, the winds coming off the water were quite strong and the surf was pretty rough. Every wave that came in created a different looking foreground for the image, so I took several shots, trying a few different shutter speeds, until I got something I liked the look of. I was probably asking for trouble when I set up this shot but I liked the composition and (foolishly) went for it anyway. Being that I was very low to the ground and close to the foreground rocks, I was right in the line of fire for the splashing of the waves breaking in front of me along with the constant misting of salt water spray blowing in off the water. Needless to say, my gear and I got a little wet! I came away with very few usable photos that morning because of the water spots on my filters and lens. Not to mention the streaky foggy mess I made while trying to wipe things clean between shots! I took this shot after taking a quick break and moving away from the water to give things a proper cleaning. Even still, I had a fair bit of clean up to do in post processing but I’m pleased that I was able to salvage at least one of my attempts from the morning.

Thanks for tuning in, there’s more to come!

I’m Back

Well, it’s been far too long since my last post (December 26th… yikes!) and I must apologize for the lack of activity around here. It certainly hasn’t been due to a lack of things going on, just a lack of time to sit down and share them here. After a busy holiday season including some time away with family, a jamb packed and hectic January raced by and then it was off to Kauai for a couple weeks for a much needed holiday. Kauai is unlike any other place I’ve seen and I’m certain it has got to be one of the most beautiful places on this planet. While this trip was a family holiday and not a shooting trip, I did manage to sneak away here and there to make a few images. There was one day that I left the beach and pool action to hike a portion of the famous Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali coast on the north west side of the island. Branching away from the main trail, I hiked up the Hanakapi’ai falls trail which takes you deep into a narrow valley which dead ends at the falls you see in the image below. Seeing this amazingly rugged and beautiful area of the island was by far the highlight of the trip for me and it has put the rest of the Kalalau Trail much higher on my future to-do list!

Stay tuned as I have more images coming from the trip. For now, I hope you can enjoy this little slice of time in paradise as much as I did.

Top 12 of 2012

As we come to the end of 2012 I thought I’d look back through the photos I made this year and choose my top 12. I decided to take things a little more seriously with my shooting this year, and I felt like this was a good year of growth for me as a photographer. It wasn’t easy to narrow down my collection from this year to just 12 images, and I’m still second guessing a few of my choices to be honest! I hope you’ll stay tuned, there are some cool things in store for 2013 and I’m excited to share them with you in the coming months.

Thanks to all of you who’ve taken the time to stop in and comment, plus 1, add, like, etc. this past year. I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many new friends in the photography community and look forward to new friendships in the coming year.

Photo of the Week: Week 52

Well, this week marks the final instalment in my 2012 weekly photo series. For this final post, I’m sharing a simple image I made while out shooting on a cold snowy day in the mountains last week. It was a beautiful winter morning with fresh snow having fallen over night and even more gently falling throughout the day. The low clouds and overcast conditions made for somewhat of a photographic challenge though in that the main attraction of the Rockies, the mountains themselves, were practically invisible. Not that I’m complaining or anything, it’s always a great exercise when the conditions force you to look past the obvious images and see more creatively. I often find some of my favourite images come from days like this.
I saw this view across the valley near Lake Louise and was really drawn to the repeated patterns of the lines of trees and the way the fog created a kind of layered effect. Using my telephoto lens I extracted this little scene and took advantage of the compression effect of using a longer focal length.
While simple and maybe not all that exciting, this image really captured the peaceful, quiet mood of that beautiful winter morning for me. If you haven’t experienced the stillness and quiet of a crisp winter morning in the mountains, I would highly recommend it. I hope this photo at least gives you a taste.

Photo of the Week: Week 51

This week’s photo of the week is a chilly winter image I took just over a week ago while out in the mountains looking for photos. This one is from Numa Falls in Kootenay National Park. I really liked the look of the cool blue water and the way the falls tumbled down between the snow covered rocks. The compositional choices are a little limited here in that the only vantage point of the falls is from the footbridge that crosses over the river. Despite that, I experimented as much as possible and made images that included the trees, stream, and the rest of the scene above the falls as well as more isolated images like this one. In the end I decided on this one because I felt like the falling snow and featureless sky in the wider compositions just didn’t add enough to the image. The obviously interesting draw of the scene is the waterfall so I felt like focusing in on that would make for a more effective photo. The overcast conditions that day were perfect for easily capturing the entire dynamic range of the scene in a single exposure which was great. With the dark rocks, flowing water, and bright white snow this would have been quite a challenging exposure in brighter conditions. I used a polarizing filter to remove the reflections in the water and bring out the colour as well as solid neutral density filter to lengthen my exposure enough (1.3 seconds) to get the effect I was looking for in the water.

Thanks for stopping in, I hope you enjoy this one.