Route 66 – Amarillo to Santa Fe

Back in December I continued the Route 66 exploration I started last year. On this trip I drove to Amarillo, TX in two days (stop-over in Albuquerque) then spent 5 days working my way back to Needles, CA. By the time I finished this trip I had covered half of Route 66 (including last year’s excursions in California).

As I drove from Albuquerque to Amarillo one day, then from Amarillo to Santa Fe on the next, the following is a compilation of photos taken over two days rather than in the actual order I took them (e.g. I visited Tucumcari one afternoon going one way then the next morning on the return trip).

My adventure “officially” started with an sunrise visit to Cadillac Ranch on the outskirts of Amarillo. This public art installation originally consisted of 10 Cadillacs with their noses buried in the ground. Created in 1974, when the city of Amarillo started to encroach on its original location, the installation was moved to its current location in a farmer’s field. A year or two ago one of the cars burned so now there are only 9 cars. The public are allowed (even encouraged) to bring cans of spray paint to add to the multiple colors (and very thick layers of paint).

Cadillac Ranch

Travelling west from Amarillo through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, for the most part Route 66 either parallels I-40 or has been replaced by I-40. A good guidebook is helpful to know where to get on or off the Interstate to drive on as much of Historic Route 66 as possible.

My first stop after leaving the Cadillac Ranch was the town of Vega. The town is one of many examples of communities that flourished in the heyday of Rt. 66 and were hit hard when the historic route was decommissioned.

Click on the galleries to see full-sized images.

The main claim to fame for Adrian, TX, the next town down the line, it that it is the midpoint of Route 66. Chicago is 1139 miles to the east and Santa Monica Pier is 1139 miles to the west. I had planned my morning to have breakfast at the Midpoint Cafe – unfortunately it was closed when I arrived.

On the Texas-New Mexico border sits the long-abandoned town of Glenrio.

Dilapidated service stations and faded signs give testament to a once-thriving Rt. 66 town of San Jon before it was by-passed by I-40.

After many miles of dead or dying towns along the Mother Road, Tucumcari showed many signs of surviving and capitalizing on it’s rich Route 66 history. True, the outskirts of town show plenty of evidence of better days.

However, the many murals, neon signs, and restored Route 66 landmarks show Tucumcari’s pride in its past. One such landmark, the Blue Swallow Motel is often pictured with an antique car parked in front. Unfortunately, it was closed for the season, so no car adorns my photo.

If you are hungry, I can definitely recommend Watson’s BBQ located in the Tucumcari Ranch Supply building, located a couple of blocks off of Rt. 66. I enjoyed a delicious lunch and interesting conversation with the owner.

Continuing west on Historic Route 66 takes you through two more virtual ghost towns, Newkirk and Cuervo.

Further west, the town of Santa Rosa is the home of another restaurant that I would highly recommend. Long gone are its days as a car hop drive-in, but the Comet II Drive-In and Restaurant lives on to serve great food after being in the same family for three generations. The Green Chile Stew was incredibly good!

Prior to 1937, Route 66 turned north to Santa Fe at Santa Rosa. In 1937 the realignment of the highway took it directly west to Albuquerque. The post-1937 alignment takes you through Cline Corners, Moriarity and into Albuquerque.

The pre-1937 route roughly followed what is now Hwy 84, then onto I-25. Eventually you exit I-25 onto the Old Pecos Trail which merges onto the Old Santa Fe Trail that takes you into the heart of Santa Fe. There is not a lot of evidence along this drive of it’s Route 66 heritage other than the odd road sign.

In my next post I will pick up my journey in Santa Fe.

Posted in Route 66 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joshua Tree Sunrises

I have to admit that I’m not an avid early-riser. However, if I have something specific planned, I really don’t have a problem getting up at 4:00 am, say, to drive out to Joshua Tree National Park for a sunrise shoot. And even on mornings when sunrise isn’t all that spectacular, it is still a beautiful way to start the day.

In that vein, here are a few early morning shots from Joshua Tree NP from the past couple of months.

And yes, there was snow in late December!

Maybe it’s time for another sunrise excursion?

Posted in California, Landscape Photography, Nature, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Narrowboating in England

There we were, hurtling down the canal at a breathtaking speed of … 2 miles per hour!  At 69’ long and 6’9” wide, there is a reason our vessel is called a narrowboat.

Great Britain is criss-crossed with a network of canals that were originally built to transport freight on long, narrow barges.  The barges were pulled by horses walking along the towpath that runs beside every canal.  As steam-driven freight trains replaced the barges, the canals fell into disrepair.  In recent years the canals have been restored to their former glory for recreational use.  Today, travelling the canals in long, narrow boats has become a favourite holiday get-away.

This type of holiday adventure has been on our bucket list for many years, so we finally decided to give it a try.  As a result, a sunny afternoon in early October found Susan and me, along with friends Rick and Linda, at the Festival Park Marina in Stoke-on-Trent, in northern England, going through an orientation aboard our floating home for the next 10 days.  The boat had 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with a shower), a galley and a dining area.  There was plenty of room for storage.  It would be plenty comfortable for four of us! After the briefing and stowing away of clothing and provisions, we set off for a short motor to our stop for the evening.

Our home for 10 days

Our journey to Westport Lake on the Trent and Mersey Canal, where we tied up for the first night, provided a good “shakedown cruise”.  After thirty plus years of sailing, I had a fair amount of experience steering boats with limited manoeuverability. However, steering the 69-foot-long, steel-hulled, vessel still took a little getting used to.  It was slow to respond, so you had to anticipate course changes and start your turns early.  As well, you had to get used to tiller steering where you push the tiller the opposite direction to the way you want to turn.  Then, to keep things fun, you need to avoid running into other narrowboats traveling the opposite direction down a very narrow canal.  All things considered though, it didn’t take too long to get used to the steering.  Rick and I took turns handling the tiller at the rear of the boat.

On our first full day on the canals, we would encounter two features: a tunnel and a lock.  And it wasn’t to be just any tunnel.  At 2.5 km (1.5 mi) long, the Harecastle Tunnel is the longest in Britain.  While the towpath through the tunnel was removed some years ago, the tunnel is still only slightly wider than a single boat.  Consequently, the tunnel allows for one-way travel only.  Alternating direction of traffic through the tunnel is controlled by tunnel-keepers at each end.

We set off early and arrived at the tunnel about 15 minutes later.  After stopping for a safety briefing, we proceeded directly into the tunnel.  The tunnel is pitch black inside and we had been told to turn every light in the boat as well as the headlight so we could see where we were going.  In addition, I wore a headlamp which became essential as the ceiling of the tunnel got lower and lower.  By the middle of the tunnel the headroom was so low that we had to crouch down with our heads barely above the top of the boat.  Rick and I switched off on the helm part way through so that we could both experience steering through the tunnel.   With only a couple of bumps against the side, after about an hour we emerged from the other end.

We continued along the Trent and Mersey Canal for a short distance further until we made a sharp left turn onto the Macclesfield Canal.  The canal soon took a 90 degree turn to the right and passed over top of the Trent and Mersey Canal via an aqueduct.  We soon came to our first lock.  At only about a foot change in elevation, the lock was a fairly simple one to learn the routine.

Locks are amazingly simple devices for handling changes in elevation on a canal or river.  Gates at each end of the lock control the flow of water into or out of the lock.  With both gates closed, opening paddles on the “uphill” side of the lock allows water to flow in and fill the lock.  With the “uphill” paddles closed and the “downhill” paddles opened, water flows out of the lock thereby emptying it.  The lock stops filling or emptying when the water level in the lock matches the water level on the high side or the low side of the canal respectively.  With a boat in the lock, filling the lock lifts it to the higher elevation if going upstream, or lowers it to the lower level if traveling downstream.

We quickly learned that the operation of the locks was quite simple although cranking up the paddles or opening the gates (by way of pushing a long beam attached to the gate) sometimes took a bit of oomph. 

The following day our newfound “lock handling” skills were put to the test with the Bosley Locks, a series (or “flight”) of 12 locks.  These are the only locks on the Macclesfield Canal and took about 2.5 to 3 hours to get through.

As we continued along the canal, a boater travelling in the opposite direction advised us that the canal would be closing for an indefinite period in a couple of days time at Bollington, a little way further north, in order to make repairs to the canal.  Our plan had been to travel to the end of the Macclesfield Canal then turn onto the Peak Forrest Canal.  Once we reached the end of the Peak Forest Canal, we would reverse direction and return to Stoke-on-Trent the same way.  Naturally this news meant that our plans would have to change.  In the end, our revised route took us a bit further on the Macclesfield before turning around and returning, through the Bosley Locks, to the Trent and Mersey Canal.  After once more transiting the Harecastle Tunnel, we continued past Stoke-on-Trent.

We continued along the Trent and Mersey Canal through Barlaston, Meaford, Stone and Weston.  Just past Weston we turned around and reversed our route back to Festival Park Marina.

The Trent and Mersey Canal had more sets of locks than the Macclesfield Canal so progress was a bit slower.  But at a maximum allowable speed on the canals of 4 mph, you don’t get anywhere quickly.  And we weren’t in any hurry.  Our only deadline was the day we had to return our boat.  So we were able to just sit back and enjoy the incredible scenery, the frequent rain, and the warm cozy pubs along the way.

In days gone by, pubs were an integral part of the canal system.  They provided food, drink and lodging to the boatmen and their families as well as stabling for the horses that pulled the barges.  Today the pubs alongside the canals provide great food and fine ales to boaters although the stabling of horses is no longer necessary.  On most days we generally ate one meal in a pub with, typically breakfast and lunch eaten on board.  And I have to say we enjoyed some wonderful pub fare on our trip!

Our 10-day narrowboating adventure was, in a word, fantastic!  We would definitely do it again.  You don’t see huge amounts of the country on such a trip, but it’s a great way to leisurely pass by beautiful countryside and historic villages.  This trip involved a lot of doubling back.  The distance from one extreme of our route to the other was about 40 miles so our total journey was only about 80 miles.  Another time I would be inclined to do a more circular route involving several interconnecting canals.

Posted in Great Britain, Landscape Photography, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On to Barnard Castle

Our September visit to England continued as we departed the Peak District and set off for Barnard Castle in County Durham.  On the way we made a stop at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in the village of Haworth, West Yorkshire.

The Bronte family arrived in the parsonage in 1820 and the sisters spent most of their lives there.  The area inspired many of the novels written by the Bronte sisters.  Today, the parsonage is a museum operated by the Bronte Society.  Founded in 1893, it is one of the oldest literary societies in the world.

From Haworth we continued our drive to Barnard Castle.  The town of Barnard Castle is located on the River Tees in County Durham, just north of Yorkshire.  To our surprise, the town was much bigger than we anticipated.  The accommodation I had booked turned out the be one of the most beautiful places we have rented over the years in our travels.  The cottage was part of an old mill and was positioned right on the edge of the River Tees.  The view from our veranda was breathtaking.  If any reader is travelling to Yorkshire or County Durham and is looking for an amazing 1-bedroom cottage to stay in, contact me and I will provide contact information.

River Tees
View towards town

Another absolute treasure located on the edge of the town is the Bowes Museum. The museum was actually built for that purpose in the 19th Century by John and Josephine Bowes.  The couple were collectors who built the museum to share their art with the public.  Aside from a world class collection of fine art, china, silver, furnishings and other items of decorative art, the museum houses the amazing Silver Swan.  Crafted out of silver, the automaton dates back to 1793.  Once a day, a museum employee gives a little talk about the swan, then winds up the 3 mechanisms and the swan performs.  It first preens its back then plucks a fish from the water and swallows it. 

Bowes Museum

The £14.00 entry fee to the Bowes Museum is good for unlimited entry for the following year.  We took advantage of this great offer to visit the museum twice during the week we stayed in Barnard Castle.

With cool, rainy weather during the week, we opted to spend some of the time just relaxing in our beautiful cottage.  We did spend one day tracing some of my wife’s roots in Yorkshire.  On another day we took a drive to the highest pub in the British Isles.  Tan Hill Inn is located high in the North Yorkshire Dales.  Dating back to the 17th century, the Inn is warm, cozy, and serves great food and ales – exactly what you want from an English Pub!

On our drive back to Barnard Castle, we stopped at Brough and nearby Brough Castle for a short visit.

About a 10 minute drive from our accommodation was Egglestone Abbey – worthy of a sunrise shoot!

And of course, I had to do a sunset shoot of the imposing Barnard Castle itself.

After a delightful, and somewhat restful visit to Barnard Castle, we were off for the next part of our adventure – cruising canals in a narrowboat … stay tuned!

barnard castle
Posted in Landscape Photography, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Visit To The Peak District

In mid-September we set off for a month in England.

Our month started with a short bus ride from Heathrow to the Reading Rail Station, followed by a train ride to Stoke-On-Trent where we picked up our rental car. Then the “fun” started – dealing with rush hour traffic while navigating our way out of the city, all the while driving on the “wrong” side of the road was a little unnerving.  I had driven on the left on a previous trip to the UK but that was years ago. Anyway, once we got out of the city, driving became a little more relaxed.

After a couple hour drive into the beautiful Peak District we arrived at our rental accommodation in Hope. It was on a sheep farm just outside of town and was a very cozy, comfortable place to spend the next 6 nights.

I started the next day, just after sunrise, with a short hike up into the hills behind the farm. There were plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

Following breakfast, it was shopping day. My wife wanted to visit a yarn shop in a nearby village. Unfortunately, our GPS took us all over the countryside, including a dead-end road and several very narrow lanes. We never did find the shop that day. A few days later, after re-checking the location, we had no trouble finding the store. Anyway, after aborting our initialed attempt we went off in search of groceries to stock our rental for the coming days. We had better luck finding the grocery store!

The forecast for the next day was mostly rain, so we elected to spend the day relaxing in the cottage.  During one period in the morning when it looked like it might be clear for a bit, I took a stroll down the lane into town.  For my return trip I elected to take the public footpath past fields of sheep and over the railway tracks.  I got back just as the rain was starting again.

Several months earlier I had arranged a one-to-one workshop with a photographer I had been following for some time on YouTube.  Nigel Danson ( ) is based in the Peak District.  His photos of the area was one factor that made me want to spend some time in the Peak District on this trip to England.

About 6:00 am on the Monday morning, Nigel picked me up at the cottage and we were off for a day of shooting starting with sunrise at Mam Tor, a prominent hill in the region.  From there we visited several other spots in the Hope Valley.  It was a great day and I picked up a number of helpful tips from Nigel.

Mam Tor
Mam Tor 2
Mam Tor 3
Mam Tor 4
Cairn atop Mam Tor

The following morning we made our return trip to Tideswell and the yarn shop we had tried to find a few days earlier.  By now my wife had been in contact with the owner and arranged to visit the shop (which is normally only open on Saturdays). Not surprisingly she found some yarn to purchase.  For my part I took the opportunity of our return trip to wander the town with my camera.

A visit to the neighbouring village of Castleton was first on the agenda for the following day.  It’s a very picturesque little English village and I quite enjoyed an hour or so of strolling the streets. 

From Castleton it was off to visit Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, about an hour away in South Yorkshire.  Our visit started with a visit to the Tea Room for some scones, clotted cream and a pot of tea.  That alone made the trip worthwhile!  Then it was off to tour the house and the gardens. The home is a beautifully restored mid-Victorian structure and the gardens were absolutely stunning.

Brodsworth Hall

All too soon our visit to the Peak District came to a close and it was time to move on.  Our next base would be in Barnard Castle, County Durham just north, of Yorkshire.

View of Brodsworth Hall from gardens
Posted in Landscape Photography, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fall Trip to Jasper

After a long, wet summer I was looking forward to one last Fall camping trip in Jasper National Park. Going online in early August I was lucky to secure a campsite in September for a couple of nights. With Whistlers Campground being closed for the entire season it has placed a lot of pressure on the remaining campgrounds

Arriving in late afternoon, I got my tent set up, firewood gathered, and dinner cooked before setting off to Pyramid Lake to try a sunset shoot. Unfortunately there just wasn’t any color in the sky, it was chilly, and I couldn’t find a composition I was happy with so I packed it in early and returned to camp for a nice evening relax by the campfire.

The next morning I was on the road while it was still dark, arriving at my shooting destination well before the start of Blue Hour. Once again there wasn’t a lot of color for sunrise. However, some beautiful light on Geraldine Peak just before sunrise made it all worthwhile.

I also caught the first licks of sunrise warming the peak of Mt. Edith Cavell.

As the sunlight worked its way down the slopes it made for some beautiful golden patches which created nice reflections in the water.

After breakfast I hiked the Valley of the Five Lakes Trail. I was hoping that with the overcast conditions I would get some nice filtered light and be able to capture the gorgeous green color of the lakes. I was only partially successful as, even with a polarizer, I still got a lot of bright, colorless glare on the water. But the hike itself was great and I was able to enjoy the beauty of the lakes, even if I couldn’t fully capture it with my camera.

First Lake
Third Lake
Third Lake
Fall Colors

The next morning I returned to Pyramid Lake just before Blue Hour. In the dark I scouted out a composition that I liked and then set up my camera to wait until sunrise. A little breeze came up just at sunrise which destroyed the nice reflection in the water. I caught this shot just as the sun was starting to light the peak of Pyramid Mountain.

Pyramid Mountain

But in my view, my best shot of the whole trip was captured before sunrise, when the lake was dead calm. With some beautiful Alpenglow lighting up Pyramid Mountain and an incredible reflection in Pyramid Lake, I was totally blown away. The resulting photo is below.

On the way back to the campground to strike camp I did catch a shot of a bull elk. It is rutting season and the elk (Wapiti) with their incredible antlers are at their finest.


As referenced above, I will close this post with my favourite shot of the whole trip.

Posted in Alberta, Hiking, Landscape Photography, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Olympic Peninsula

On my drive north back to Canada, after the photo workshop in Oregon, I had the pleasure of exploring a bit of the east side of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. I only had a part of a day before catching a ferry that evening, but it was enough to convince me I need to return when I can spend more time!

At one of my first stops, a short hike took me to Rocky Creek Falls. The spot is quite popular and there were a fair number of people there, but I still managed to get a few shots without anyone frolicking in the water in front of me.

Rocky Creek Falls
Rocky Creek Falls

On the hike back, my eye caught some beautiful dappled light on some moss-covered rocks along the creek. As I was fairly close to the car, I changed into my rubber boots then returned to go wading in the creek to capture the image below.

As I continued my drive towards Port Angeles, I was captivated by this old barn. This is actually three separate images, focusing at different distances, and then stacked and merged into one image: a process aptly called focus stacking. This technique gives better focus throughout the image.

I did try shooting another waterfall west of Port Angeles but the sunlight on the water was so bright and harsh that any photo of the waterfall would be totally blown out. I opted instead to just spend a few minutes enjoying the view before returning to Port Angeles for dinner at a great little brew pub.

As I had a bit of time before catching my evening ferry to Victoria, I strolled around Port Angeles with my camera.

Port Angeles

This little “bonus day” was a perfect add on to the Oregon workshop!

Posted in Landscape Photography, Nature, Photography, Travel, waterfalls | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Oregon Photography Workshop

In mid-July I arrived in Crescent City, California to meet up with Tom and Jim, my fellow participants in the Gems of Oregon Workshop put on by photographer Ralph Nordstrom ( I had previously taken a workshop led by Ralph through the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park. I found him to be a wealth of knowledge as well as a very patient, attentive workshop leader.

Ralph provided an overview of the workshop and briefed us on the areas where we would be shooting over the next several days. Following Ralph’s presentation, we had a chance to share samples of our photographs with each other. It is always fun to see other photographer’s work.

An early supper was next on the agenda, following which we piled into Ralph’s car for a short drive north across the border into Oregon for our sunset shoot. When we arrived at the beach, fog dimmed our hopes for a spectacular sunset but made for some interesting initial shots.

One of the things I love about seascapes is waves crashing against rocks. The waves were rolling in nicely for some dramatic shots.

In this photo, the fog helps to provide a sense of depth to the scene.

We soon learned that our pessimism regarding a nice sunset was unfounded as the sky started to light up with some absolutely gorgeous pastel shades of pink, magenta and orange. The color reflections in the water surrounding the rocks was stunning.

As the color and light faded we packed up our gear and returned to the car. As we started to drive away, the sky lit up again with beautiful deep reds and oranges. We quickly parked, jumped out of the car, grabbed our cameras and started firing. What an incredible start to our workshop!

After breakfast the next morning, we loaded up our cars and headed up Hwy 101. At our first stop we had lots of time to explore the beach looking for a variety of compositions.

I really liked the patterns in the sand left by the receding waves. The seashell adds a little context to the shot.

The driftwood seems to lead naturally to the rocks on the shore and the sea stacks beyond.

A stream ran across the beach, leading the eye to the rocky coastline.

Our next stop was the Natural Bridges Viewpoint along the Samuel H. Boardman corridor.

Natural Bridges

A little further was Arch Rock. The straight-on view was OK but not all that inspiring. After looking around a bit I found a vantage point that gave, in my opinion, a much more interesting photo. In the photo below the rock is nicely framed by the trees.

Arch Rock

The sun was pretty much directly overhead when we got to Battle Rock, which made finding interesting compositions difficult. I did like the way the line from the receding waves leads your eye to the hole in the rock. And in the second photo below, the wildflowers provide a nice foreground.

And, of course, there were waves crashing on the rocks!

This just reminded me of some kind of grotesque beast lounging on a log.

In operation since 1870, Cape Blanco Lighthouse is the oldest continually operating lighthouse in Oregon. Totally functional, it is also quite beautiful.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in Bandon. The Coquille River Lighthouse made a nice backdrop for a couple of shots.

This Turkey Vulture was enjoying dinner on the beach.

We were treated to an absolutely stunning sunset that evening. It was literally a sunset that just kept giving … and giving … and giving …

Click on any image in the set below to open up the full-sized gallery.

After two spectacular seascape sunsets on two consecutive evenings, it was time to move inland. Here we discovered that the rivers and waterfalls of the interior of Oregon are equally as beautiful as its seascapes.

We spent the final afternoon of the workshop at Crater Lake. Formed by a volcanic eruption that caused the collapse the mountain peak, it is the deepest lake in the US. And it is perhaps the most intense and deepest shade of blue that I have seen in a lake anywhere.

Crater Lake
Steller’s Jay
Chow time

With the sunlight glittering off the water, Phantom Ship looks like it is sailing in a sea of diamonds.

Wizard Island is actually a cinder cone. It is capped by a small crater named Witches Cauldron.

We capped off the day with a visit to the Pinnacles. I was caught by the back-lighting the trees and the sand blowing through the valley. The sandstorm was hazardous to us and, more importantly, our cameras, but I managed to get this shot off before we packed it in for the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the nearly four days I spent with my workshop mates, Tom and Jim, as well as, of course, Ralph Nordstrom. Ralph runs a number of photo workshops in the American Southwest. Check them out at

Posted in Landscape Photography, Nature, Photography, Seascapes, Travel, waterfalls, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Banff in June

As near as I can figure, it has been 50 years since I last camped at Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park. I have been to Banff many times since, and even camped at a couple of different campgrounds when I did the Tour de Canada in 2013. But for the most part I have always “hotelled it” in Banff.

My most vivid recollection of my previous camping experience at Two Jack Lake, with a couple of High School buddies, was renting a row boat on Lake Minnewanka, just down the road. As I recall, we only rented it for an hour or two. While on the lake, and while we were at some distance from the dock, a storm blew up. I recall that it was severe enough that we weren’t sure if we would actually make it safely back to the dock. In any event, we did survive – or I wouldn’t be sharing my teenage angst with you now! But maybe I learned a little bit about perseverance and focusing on the task rather than panicking – important lessons for a 16-year-old.

So 50 years later I spent 3 nights camping at the Two Jack Lake Campground. That lent itself to 4 days of photography, but no boat rentals!

As seems to be my luck, the weather was not the most cooperative on this trip. However, I think this provided a bit of an opportunity for a step forward in my photographic journey. As a result of an online course I was working on (, rather than just write the time off, I really started looking at other opportunities the lack of “perfect” shooting conditions presented. I really think that my journey took a big step forward on this trip. Not everything worked out, but that’s OK. It was the process of seeing things differently that was important. And I think, to some extent, I continued this process on a photo workshop I did in July (more about that in the next post).

So here I will share some of the good. The bad and the ugly I will keep to myself and use as building blocks for the future!

The first afternoon I spent setting up camp and doing some exploring. I didn’t find much to photograph other than some sheep eating by the roadside (and I saw them a lot over 4 days!). For the most part they still seemed to be in the process of losing their winter coats.

The next morning I was up early to try for a sunrise shot. However, with heavy overcast and rain, that wasn’t going to happen. But while I was waiting for something to happen on my intended composition, I noticed some light starting to appear off to my left. Quickly, I picked up my camera and tripod and re-positioned myself a little distance away to get this shot.

Island in the Sun

I loved how the light seemed to be lighting up the little “tree island” in the lake. The light didn’t last long so I returned to my original location. I composed my shot and waited. When it became abundantly clear that a spectacular sunrise was not going to light up the mountains, I decided to play a bit with long exposures. With very little color in the scene, when I took my photos I was envisioning them in Black and White. I think I ended up with something kind of nice. While the rocks aren’t perfectly placed (and I was not about to wade out and try re-positioning the rocks and my back!), they do lead your eye into the scene. The 13-second exposure really flattens out the water and leads to some nice reflections.

Two Jack Lake

After breakfast it was off to do some more reconnoitering. I ended up at Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park in BC, west of Banff. When I first arrived it looked like the overcast conditions would be perfect for shooting the waterfall. Not only was it cloudy but the sun was not high enough to be shining directly on the falls. Direct sunlight is the enemy of shooting waterfalls. With the bright reflection off the water it basically “blows out” the falls relative to the surrounding environment. It is very difficult to get a nice shot of waterfalls in direct sunlight. “Crappy light” is so much better. Anyway, by the time I hiked the short distance into the falls the light was changing rapidly. I did manage to get a 5-shot vertical pano in before the sun became a blazing ball of fire directly overhead. It’s not the greatest shot but was the best I was going to get for several hours at any rate.

Takakkaw Falls

I went to bed early that night in anticipation of trying a sunrise shot at Moraine Lake the next morning. The forecast didn’t look promising but it would still be worth the hour’s drive in the morning to at least check out a site that I had never been to before. As it turned out, the rain and heavy overcast did not produce any decent images, but at least I now knew the “lay of the land”. I would try again the next morning.

On the way back from camp I started to think about how I could look at things differently. One of the take-aways from the course I was working on was that if there wasn’t a “big” landscape to shoot, start isolating and looking for little scenes. As I was driving past Two Jack Lake I noticed some interesting meadows in the mountains across the lake peeking through the cloud and fog. I pulled over and with my 400mm lens started trying out several compositions. I ended up with this shot which I quite like.

The next morning it was up again at 3:00 am for the hour-long drive to Moraine Lake. This time I was greeted with heavy fog and cloud. Still, I set up for a possible sunrise shot. As Blue Hour progressed, the fog started to lift revealing parts of the lake. This was my favourite of the fog shots.

Moraine Lake Fog

I continued to wait past sunrise. It was much too cloudy to get the sun lighting up the peaks across the lake. However, as the sun got higher it did burn off enough cloud to get this shot. Where I was positioned it is a very steep drop-off to the lake. If it was any steeper it would be considered a cliff. As it was, I thought the rocks beneath my feet provided a nice frame for the shot.

Moraine Lake

And with that it was time to return to camp, pack up and head for home. While maybe I didn’t get the “iconic” shot to hang on the wall, I feel that in some way I grew as a photographer on this trip. So in that respect it was a very successful outing. Sometimes waiting 50 years is worth it! Different times and different lessons but still an important experience.

Posted in Alberta, Landscape Photography, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Springtime in Jasper

Towards the end of May I spent 3 nights camping in Jasper National Park. Naturally my prime reason for the visit was to do some photography.

The first morning I got a couple of different views of Geraldine Peak. The first is from Leach Lake at sunrise and I managed to include the moon. There was even a little layer of fog on the water although it is hard to discern in the photo. The second was from along the Whirlpool River a bit later in the morning.

While at Leach Lake that morning I got a shot of the sun just lighting up the tops of the mountains across the lake.

In early evening I hiked in to the 5th Lake in the Valley of the Five Lakes. I got a few shots before the mosquitoes and some rain moving in convinced me I wasn’t going to wait around for sunset.

The following day I caught some nice reflections in Annette Lake.

Over the several days I was there, I also caught a few wildlife shots.

A few weeks later, I was in Jasper again. This trip was primarily for the Jasper Fondo Weekend which is a cycling event. I opted for the 100 km ride. The first part of the ride was a bit of a struggle for me with a 14 km climb up Marmot Mountain. The rest of the ride was pretty nice though.

I stayed a couple of nights after the ride and did an evening and sunrise shoot at Horseshoe Lake, a new location for me.

There’s always something new to explore in Jasper National Park!

Posted in Alberta, Landscape Photography, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment