:: Monday, May 30, 2011 ::
Hi new readers.
:: Sunday, July 22, 2007 ::
It's cool this page still gets the views it does, but I have not updated it in nearly 4 years now. You should check out my main blog my twitter, my flickr, or my tumblr :)
:: Mike Wood 13:29 [+] ::
:: Friday, July 06, 2007 ::
As the pipes play Auld Lang Syne, here is my final post on this blog...
To go along with the soon to be launched mikewoodphotography.com (which is not visible yet), I decided to create a new blog and let this one die a quiet death. I have had it since March of 2003, and it was my first foray online. It was my first attempt to get out here and see and be seen.
It predated my flickr page, my Myspace, my DA... well the list goes on. It certainly predated my interest in photography though it followed me along nicely as I took a stab at it. It was part link dump and part online journal and part whatever I felt like posting. And now and then had more than just a few readers.
Mike Works4Bandwidth had 1868 posts - including this last one which is cross posted one to my new blog. I re-branded it to W4B Photography's companion blog this spring to more reflect my current interests. It has been part of my online identify for more than four years. W4Bphotography - the name of my flickr page, and the one to this point on my business cards, was a contraction of the work4bandwidth name. It's easy to Google and it sounds good, but it doesn't really identify me as me, and I found I was always answering whether it was 4 or for or four in the address or flickr URL for people. :)
Besides, after four years of tinkering and tweaking and mucking about with the work4bandwidth profile template, it wasn't 100% working anymore. The archives are no longer visible for instance, the page counter is broken, and there are way too many dead links. Wouldn't be impossible to fix, but it is time to let it go.
An additional wrinkle was that there is a soft porn site in Europe that uses W4B in it's signatures on it's pictures and so on. My doing pics and their doing 'em was eventually going to clash somewhere down the road. I predate it, and it was unique in 2003. Not so much now. And they would have lawyers. :) So, while I could have made a domain that was W4Bphotography.ca or .com I decided to get one with my name in it. I toyed with lots of clever photo related names and things, and a simple mikewood.com was already taken, so I settled on mikewoodphotography.com.
To simplify the blogging business (I currently cross post to myspace, sometimes facebook and my facebook group, and work4bandwidth.blogspot.com, and used a LJ profile as well briefly), and to tie the domain and a single blog together, I decided to create mikewoodphotography.blogspot.com . Lengthy, but easier to remember and spell. Hopefully. :) I will still post to FB and MS, but given they have restrictions on content, I can't always upload full posts there. So I may resort to abridged versions, or notifications of posts here.
Not trying to pigeon hole the new blog with it's name, but the orientation of that blog will be photography: Posts about some of the shoots I do, the challenges and fun of being a photographer, and of course some of my photos. It will also be some of the stuff the old blog had too. It will be part online journal ( though not all the dirty details some people feel free to put online), and part link dump to other interesting things I find I want to talk about. Like the Tour de France for instance.
I enjoy writing and it was my first love before photography. I am quite rusty, but still verbose it seems (as I glance up...). I want to post more than I have done recently, but not as much as the 20-30 items a week like I managed some weeks like back in 2003-4. Doing shoots and editing, I just don't have time for that anymore.
So... this is goodbye to work4bandwidth. And hello to mikewoodphotography.blogspot.com.
Come on over and I hope to see you soon.
:: Mike Wood 21:11 [+] ::
From the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
+Capt. Matthew Johnathan Dawe
+Cpl. Cole Bartsch
+Cpl. Jordan Anderson
+Pte. Lane Watkins
From the The Royal Westminster Regiment
+MCpl . Colin Bason
From the 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
+Capt. Jefferson Francis
On July 5th, 2007, their Nyala armoured vehicle was demolished by an IED planted in a gravel road, killing everyone on-board 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City, Afghanistan.
The photo was taken last year in the Peacekeeper Park SW of London, Ontario.
:: Mike Wood 22:00 [+] ::
:: Thursday, July 05, 2007 ::
This is an echo of what Dana wrote last week on her Facebook, but not about the same person. It could also have been titled "tis the season..."
I take photography quite seriously. I work hard to make everything go right every time. When a model and I make arrangements to meet either for a 'go see' , or for an actual shoot, I have the expectation that barring unforeseen circumstances or acts of ( insert whatever deity you believe in), both parties will be at the appointed place at the appointed time. To put it bluntly, shit happens. I know that. It happens to me too. Cameras stop working. Computer get annoying. Weather happens. Traffic happens. People get sick. Real life intrudes. But if it does, I have the expectation that you will get in touch with me. Get mine and provide your contact information so we can cancel, delay or postpone. Check your emails.
As Dana said, there are many amazing models here in town. I have met some new faces already this summer that are inspiring. Some don't know they are models yet, others have a track record of shoots and are known to be super to work with. They bust their asses to show up - usually for free - and put 100% in.
Others, however, are perhaps too young (not in terms of years) to understand that there is a lot of behind the scenes that goes on prior to a shoot. Call it logistics. Call it planning or brainstorming. Whatever. I treat what I do like a business and I need for people to get this. If you don't show up for a consultation or a go see, I think of it like not showing up for a job interview. Not showing up to a photoshoot is like missing a day of work. Both do not put me in the best frame of mind. And really makes me reconsider working with that person at all.
If I have set aside part of a day for a creative model shoot, that means I am not doing a paid session or something else. We may shoot only for an hour or 90 mins, but by the time I prep my gear, drive there, shoot and drive back that can be three or more hours that need to be blocked out. It wrecks a day essentially when you don't come through. If you were left waiting somewhere, make up and hair done perfectly, wearing the cool clothes you washed and ironed, and I didn't show up how would that feel?
This will sound lame to some, but watch ANTM or it's poor sister CNTM. The show might suck for the ratings related cat fight dramas, but there is one thing models can learn from it. Take a look at their running around Sydney, Paris, Milan or Toronto on go sees. If they are late, get lost, do the appointments in the wrong order, or return past the deadline, then that's too bad. They are out of contention, don't get the prize, the job, etc.
Same thing applies for working with the photographers, MUAs, or fashion designers here in London and elsewhere. There are a lot of talented folks here who will bend over backwards to make beautiful photos with you, but only put up with so much before it's "thanks but no thanks." And just like models talk about photographers, word does get around.
I want what we do to be fun. Be artistic. Be creative. Something you may not have tried before. But I also want it to happen. I am generally pretty easy going and there was a time when I may have forgiven poor behaviour because I was building my port. But now, I have more than a few people who want to work with me, and want to hire me to shoot them. Paying clients, that I cannot easily brush aside, take priority. Models, or wannabee's, who cannot commit and don't have the common courtesy to get in touch, are quickly becoming not worth my time and effort.
Treat me with the same respect I treat you, and we will get some awesome pictures. Treat me with little respect, and you can go shopping elsewhere for your model fix.
:: Mike Wood 12:59 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 ::
I have been shooting lots recently, but not posting much I know.
Last week and the week before, I did two fantastic nude shoots with a new model named Meaghan. It was a blast and her and she had great fun. Meaghan's enthusiasm, contribution to the process, playfulness and sense of humour was excellent. For those who have never done a nude or partial nude shoot, it can be a tense thing on occasion for photographer and model alike. You really have to build trust between parties and sometimes it just doesn't click. But when it does ,it is awesome or cake or money or sick or whatever superlative you want to put here. :)
The images, several of which are on my flickr, turned out great and I know that they were well received by Meaghan and her guy. Seeing someone like that being so motivated to shoot and being excited about the whole process despite being initially nervous was great. I went from shooting someone who had not sat for anything at all, to portraits to nudes to someone who could could be a figure model. All in the space of three shoots.
The introduction was sheer chance and it took over a month before we could shoot as she lives out of town now, but it was worth every moment.
A couple of months ago, I posted a "Mike is..." Facebook status thing in which I mused about wanting to do nudes and got two great responses in a couple of hours that lead to shoots. I thought I would formalize it in posting this in the group (and on Myspace too).
If anyone in London or SW Ontario, is interested in doing some nude modelling and enjoys the style in which I shoot them, please get in touch. Doing nudes is only one aspect of what I shoot, but it is one I really want to get right. I have done roughly 12-15 nude shoots and they are incredibly tough to do without being cheesy or porn like. I want to work on that aspect of shooting people - especially while it is warm! I would like to do a couple out of doors nude shoots as well as figure study type shots. Forest/field/farm sort of vibe.
While experience is preferred in doing nudes, if you are comfortable with your body, think you would look cool, and would like to give it a shot, let me know. As Meaghan put it to me once, it is cool to step outside your comfort zone now and then.
Thanks for reading!
I will post more pics soon.
:: Mike Wood 23:50 [+] ::
I left Kelowna on June 4th, around 11am after a view of the city from up on high on Knox Mountain which overlooks the downtown and Lake Okanagan. There are some killer hills here with switchbacks that would be wicked to cycle on on someday. When I am in shape that is...
:: Thursday, June 07, 2007 ::
I don't think I had left Angel's driveway before the drops started. By Vernon it was a massive driving rain that the wipers were having a challenge dealing with. The day before it was cloud free and about 35C. Today as I drive up to Rogers pass it was overcast and about 13C and dropping lower in the higher elevations. I can only imagine what it would be like in winter!. There were a couple of things I wanted to check out on the way to Roger's Pass - other than the mountains. And with those spikes into the sky wrapped in cloud it would have to be ground based. I thought I would start with the last spike. The Last Spike on the CPR railway connecting east n west. It is in Craigelllachie near Revelstoke on Hwy 1. And was driven in at 922am on November 7 1885.
The first picture shows a gold coloured spike in a railway tie. I doubted that this is the actual spike as someone would have taken it sometime in the last hundred or so years, but that is the location of it. I checked wikipedia and sure enough it is a conventional spike, the ceremonial one being removed to ward off souvenir hunters. The actual spike was given as a gift to the son of the patent office president at the time, and is still in the family's possession, fashioned into the shape of a carving knife. :) You really have to wander around the mountains to appreciate how difficult it must have been to construct the railway through these massive hills, mountains and passes. The scale of it all is staggering. Something we more or less take for granted these days.
I had seen Dragons in the mountains in an Enchanted forest children's attraction, but for the most part it rained...
When I got to Revelstoke it was pretty much crappy. I wanted to check out the massive hydroelectric dam just up the Columbia river. There are tours but even if I couldn't get in I wanted to get some shots of it. the high winds were making hell for holding a camera steady (the top of the dam is at quite an elevation) and the rail was splatting up the lens instantly. And besides, the only area I could park to shoot in some protection was on a narrow soft shoulder on a decline and in a rock fall area. Disappointed I didn't get to shoot it, but ah well. The drive up the mountain to the meadow in the sky was closed as it was only accessible about 1/2 way up - still snow covered and impassable apparently. :)
but there are trains here too:
So, after gassing up, I drove on towards Rogers Pass. It is at 1330m and is the route the railway and the TCH takes between Revelstoke and Golden. It is in the middle of the Glacier National Park and has been accessible since about 1886. And by accessible.... it gets up to ten meters of snow a year. To keep the highway open in this part of the country prone to avalanches, 105mm howitzer field artillery guns are used to cause controlled avalanches. You see here n there marker circles on the ground which I have to assume are for the positioning of the guns.
Rogers pass is cool. It is way up there. compared to the sunny and calm Crowsnest pass, this one, when I finally pulled in around dusk was a contrast. Tall sharp angular Selkirk mountains brooding in their cloud wrapped peaks. At one point there was a large CPR hotel located near the summit known as Glacier House where passengers from trains could stop over and dine. the nintey room hotel was operated from 1887 to 1925 with Swiss guides hired to show guests the mountain peaks. When the Connaught tunnel removed the need for trains to negotiate the pass, the hotel closed and was soon demolished. All that remains in a quiet snow filled clearing well off the current TCH (took me about 25mins to walk to it) are the building footings and piers and a couple of boilers.
I stayed at the Best Western Glacier Park Lodge right in the pass. A nice place but showing it's years. I would stay there again and would recommend it as a stop over on your journey one way or the other through the rockies. a nice small bar and friendly staff. Wireless too. I chatted with one of the staff who said that the place had gone down hill in the past few years since the new owners had taken over. The original owners of the place knew how to run hotels but the current Japanese ones, who owned a couple of other hotels didn't and they were not willing to put in the amenities and upgrades hotels need from time to time. He also apologized about the lack of hot water when I checked in. I had been preceded by a bus load of Japanese tourists and it is the custom aparently for them to all shower the moment they get to a hotel. So 100 showers at once. what this does is tax the boilers to death. To the point that one blew and caused he thought somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20k to fix and repair. He also said they were not getting the traffic they used to. That had the tour group not been there, I would have only shared the hotel with about 6 other guests who were working on the highway doing repairs.
In the morning, still mist covered and rainy, I headed on to Golden BC (timmies there!) and saw my first Mountain Goats and a truck that had its not best day on a twisty mountain road east of the town.
I will write more on it later, but I entered the Glacier parkway in Banff today as well (june 5th) and it is spectacular. Even rainy. .... More to follow...
:: Mike Wood 14:05 [+] ::
June 3rd part 2
:: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 ::
Drive into the Okanagan continues.
I continued after the collision into the Okanagan via the town of Osoyoos which is in wine growing country. the terrain reminded me very much of the southern California area. Santa Monica mountains. Very arid. And Very Hot. Temp here started to climb. And it would stay hot the couple of days I was in the Okanagan. at least 35 or 36 C. Not a clould in the sky and quite humid.
there were bears too:
I stopped in Trail BC as my sun screen was done and I needed more. and of course more gas and more Timmies. I scored a local paper and read about a bridge that was the subject of recent debate South of the city. It was old, with a wooden roadbed and on a route to the US that there was thought of increasing traffic on. Century old bridges are cool. Even if I go the wrong way looking for it. :) The Waneta Bridge is south of Trail on Hwy 22a. The cantilever 'Cooper Grasshopper' style bridge, was built in 1893, and has been in continuous use since. Originally a rail bridge, then rail and car, it was converted in 1947 to vehicle use only when a second span was made for rail traffic. It may be one of the oldest bridges in BC.
There was a tunnel out in the open that went no where but probably did once in 1913 (outside of Greenwood BC)
Pastoral scenes viewed from the top of Anarchist Mountain.
Layers of mountains above and to the West of Osoyoos at the bottom end of the Okanagan Valley - including an observatory in the foreground. I am finding balancing light conditions tough when the sky is bright and the trees are dark green....
and last, to illustrate the quick drop in elevation, this is how much the air pressure crushed my water bottle when I was down in the bottom of the Okanagan. crappy picture with the light n so on - and my windows needed de-bugging at that point, but interesting. I saw this last going into Las Vegas from the high desert in California on a long straightaway.
the drive up the Okanagan from Osoyoos is a pleasant one on world class roads. cycling on them, and on the tight steep Tour de France like switchbacks there and above Kelowna would be awesome. It is an easy drive with the lake on the right. I got into Kelowna around 10pm I think and met up with Angel who was super generous in offering her couch to crash on for a couple of days. I didn't really take any pics in Kelowna aside from one or two as it was too damn hot to be out and about. Still super high temps, no breeze and so on. We did a couple of walk abouts of downtown, I did a ton of laundry, and hanged out at a coffeeshop book store called Mosaic where the barrista was quite friendly and liked my tattoo and didn't think it was real as the detail was that good. :)
More to follow.
:: Mike Wood 12:33 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 ::
On June 1st, after Crows Nest, I drove via Hwy 3 to Creston, where I ended up staying for the evening and then headed on to Kelowna.
This is from the at the Alberta Visitor centre on the BC border on Hwy.
and this is a little further West down the road:
On June 2nd, I headed into the Okanagan...
(those sensitive readers may want to stop reading this post here as the next bit is a little graphic)
The drive, to this point in the trip quite pleasant, was to turn eventful in a most unfortunate way. On the downside of the Phoenix mountain summit pass on Hwy 3 near Grand Forks BC, the road took a long curve as it levelled out after a steep grade of 7 % or so. When I made a turn, I came across a pick up and an SUV on the opposite side with their 4 ways on. I thought It was a collison or something so I slowed down to assist as did the biker who was about 20 seconds behind me. An older guy in the lead pick up truck had hit a deer just moments before and was just rolling to a stop himself. His pickup truck was about 100 feet down range from the impact and the second vehicle was at the scene. He said the animal had jumped out of the bush with no warning and he couldn't do anything except hit it. Never had the chance to swerve.
I pulled over onto the soft shoulder and put my 4 ways on and got out to see if I could help or at least slow down oncoming traffic if there was a hazard. The doe was in the ditch completely blown open on its right side with a tiny fawn beside it. Both obivously dead. The driver of the SUV was holding a second fawn. It was still alive - but barely so. From what she described and it soon became obvious, both of the fawns (deer can have twins I later googled ) were still inside the mother and the impact ripped the mother open and brought them unceremoniously into the world. The one that was alive was still slime covered and wet and was asperating white fluid.
It didn't appear to be injured other than a scrape on one of it's ankles and was squirming and kicking its legs. Not in a seizure sort of way, more a natural squirmy way. The woman was going to transport it to a local vet in Grand Forks and I found a roll of paper towel to clean it and a towel to wrap it in. But it was not looking good soon after. The thing, while likely near term as they are born around now, was not well. It soon stopped regular breathing with it's tongue lolling out. Soon it stopped moving. The woman and I (mainly her) tried to get fluid out of it's lungs and drained a fair bit. She even did artificial respiration on the fawn for a few mins. But the shock was probably too much at such a young age.
The first time in my life that I have touched a deer - wild or domesticated, and it had to be to find a pulse in the neck of a now visibly dead tiny fawn through its wet and matted pre-birth fur. It was alive seconds before and now gone. Really sad stuff. It took a bit to get over witnessing that. And no, I didn't take any pictures. Sometimes participating is more important. The woman is to be commended for her efforts to save the lil guy. She went above and beyond what a lot of people would have tried to do.
:: Mike Wood 20:26 [+] ::
Vacation 5: Up to Crows Nest Pass
So I left Lethbridge mid morning on Friday 1st June heading towards Kelowna in BC. I took the south route via Crows Nest Pass and highway 3. The countryside got fairly rolling as I hit the foothills and then the mountains just got bigger n bigger. One thing that surprised me was the number of wind farms here. One stretch before heading up the grade to CrowsNest had about 50 windmills it seemed. Quite impressive. I got a pamphlet somewhere but I have long since filed it.
Heading into Crows Nest Pass there stands a tree that has been in the same spot for about 700 years. The Burmis Tree is a limber pine and has an incredibly long lifespan. The roocks dig into rocks and the brances are flexible enough that the strong winds don't snap them, only bend. This tree died in the 1970s and finally toppled to the ground in 1998. Money was raised by governments and local grounds to put the tree back up and to stabilize it with anchoring rods drilled into the sandstone. One of the supports is visible on the left branch.
Can you imagine anything greeting travellers for that long? It was impressive for sure.
At the top of Crows Nest, I came across an abandoned coal processing facility from the early 20th century. The Leitch Colliery is a big facility that has been well preserved by the local BC tourism folks. I almost passed it by, but turned around and found I was the only one there beside the tour guides. Lindsay - one of the guides, gave me a personal tour of the facility. Normally the tour takes about 15-20 mins, but we chatted for well over 30 mins and I learned a lot about coal mining at the turn of the 20th century. I really had no idea about it. And the fact the coal mined here would be shipped to Europe. The buildings that are remaining. are solid structures made of stone that reminded me of a fortress vibe. The roofs are long since gone, but they are well preserved with lots of displays and information and old photographs on what the place looked like when in operation. Was a good stop over on a hot day. It was getting quite warm. At least 30C today. the guide told me about the landslide that occurred in 1903 too.
The Frank Slide as it was known occurred further up the pass. It was a massive landslide one night that took down the side of a mountain and buried the mining town of Frank, the coal mine there, and killing more than 70. In a couple of moments, 74 million tons of limestone crashed down and covered over 3 square km of the valley floor. destroyed the railway, created a small lake. Driving through it, it looks like an open pit mine. The rail was put through again in about a month, but the destruction remains. this link is what the slide looks like from space: started lower left and went upper right. http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=49.586511,-114.384241&spn=0.04752,0.135269&t=h&z=14&om=1 the grey area in the centre. all of that is the limestone debris coming from Turtle Mountain . I think the first natural disaster I have visited that is visible from space. Staggering. I took a small piece of limestone from well off the road as a souvenier. :)
Turtle Mountain - or what's left of it, behind the CRV is 7217 feet tall.
And speaking of tall, I think I stopped at the world's highest Timmies just down the pass. Crows Nest is 1396m ASL.
:: Mike Wood 13:34 [+] ::
Vacation 3: timezones and radios
:: Sunday, June 03, 2007 ::
One thing that is interesting to deal with is the change in time zones. Eastern Daylight in Ontario to Central in MB, and then back to Central Standard in SK, and then Mountain Daylight in AB and so on. back n forth. I never know whether I am showing up early or late! that whole Sask time zone not changing is wierd too. part of the year they are the same as AB and the other part of the year they are the same as MB
If I had to try and keep track of radio stations too it would have been a chore. But I ended up getting a Sirius Satellite radio for the trip. Cheap receiver and a year's subscription. Not going to try n sell you on it but it is a good thing to be commercial free and able to get a signal pretty much everywhere except for under the overhangs at gas stations and in tunnels. It doesn't really buffer anything at all - or perhaps only a few seconds so when you lose signal its not like a CD player and skips are ignored. Tons of channels. lots of crap I wont listen too, but CBC Radio 1 and Radio 3 (only available on the satellite) have been quite cool. I was wondering how they were going to deal with the programming and thought they would default to one timezone like Eastern but they don't they tend to put on CBC Radio 1 programming whenever they feel like it. So knowing when you are going to hear a given program with all the time zone changes on top of everything else makes it always a surprise.
I have listened to the two BBC channels, the CNN, a couple of classic rock ones, and a lighter one called coffee house or something. But the most entertaining is surprisingly the Playboy Radio on channel 198. It seemed that every evening driving around I would hit at one point the call in 'talk' show with Christie Canyon and Ginger Lynn. For those not in the know, they are 90s porn stars and are completely hilarious. I am sure they are hot to most of their listeners, but they are the typical pornstar look. I much prefer the fit n trim ladies with less implantness going on, but they work well as a team and are pretty damn goofy. Hot too of course. Satellite radio has no bleeping or rules or taboo topics pretty much. So their conversations are right all over the map.
I can't even begin to describe what they do, but lets say they do it in the nude and have some pretty graphic discussions and perhaps simulated sex n stuff. Quite funny driving through the northern Canadian Shield area or the Prairies listening to them interview porn stars and strip (never listened to anyone strip before? Well tune into them each evening...) I think they are on for about 3 hours from 6-9 eastern (more or less. the time zone thing confuses me...). Wasn't expecting this when I got Sirius, but it has made the driving more entertaining.
:: Mike Wood 01:42 [+] ::
5/30 and 5/31 Southern Alberta
Regina was just a stop over. Didn't want to do anything other than sleep and go. Getting antsy and wanting to see the Rockies. I hit the TCH and drove for some distance before seeing the salt flats in Chaplin. they are part of what appears to be a vast salt marsh about 75 km from Moose Jaw. Left side of the road is the flats and the right side some sort of processing plant for extracting the salt. I did one of my classic turn arounds on the TCH and headed back to somewhere I could pull over. I did and walked back about 150m to a small overpass which is in the image below. It's salt run off. Not snow. Though you could certainly convince yourself that it was. you certainly get odd looks from truckers when being on a lonely stretch of highway shooting this sort of stuff. :P
At this point I decided I would head SW to Lethbridge instead of north to Edmonton. I wanted to get closer to the rockies and hoped that Lethbridge would be better and more modern that Swift current, Medicine Hat and the like.
I shot a train at a couple of points as I caught up to it, it drifted away and it got closer again. I managed to get close to it at a level crossing as it was nipping by. an entire train of grain cars pulled by two engines and pushed by one. Went on forever. Easily 100 cars I would imagine. And a little further on on Hwy 3 near Burdett I shot a leaning house or shed on the open prairie. You can certainly tell from which direction the wind coming over the rockies is hitting the structure..
Lethbridge is an awesome place. Similar to London in scale I think, but in the foothills of the rockies. I asked Rachel at the front desk what there was to see and do and she suggested a trip down to the Waterton Lakes National park down by the US border was in order. She also suggested a few other local attractions and I felt that it was worth a stay so instead of one nite I stayed two nights in Letbeidge at the Days Inn. Wireless was spotty in the room, and I couldn't maintain a connection to upload or blog, but I could at least check my email.
I headed out via HWY 5 on the 31st to the Walkerton National Park. And at 1207pm I saw the Rockies for the first time. At first as it was hazy off in the distance I thought it was clouds then I squinted and realized that those were snow capped tips an inch above the horizon or so. Real classic mountains with snow on top, not the hills I had seen before. A little ways down the road, about half an hour or so, I pulled over to get a solid shot - and not a pin dot sort of thing. The Rockies and most mountain chains are split up into segments or ranges. The ones in this shot are part of the MacDonald range. I have asked and have found that there is no difinitive recognition guide for the rockies. I could buy a topo map which would do the job, but I would probably need a dozen or more of them. So when I say this is a pic of mount so n so, I am pretty much guessing based on local info which could be sketchy! :)
The Waterton park is nestled in those mountains and quite pretty. And not massively travelled like the bigger Banff and Jasper ones. So easy to not jostle with tourists when trying to take pics -oh wait, I am one. :P This shot is of the Prince of Whales hotel on a huge outcropping at the top end of Loon Lake. Like Lake Louise and it's resort, but on a somewhat smaller scale. Pretty cool though. the shot after is the view looking south from the hotel. And no I didn't stay there. :)
Near Cameron Lake (below) in the park and right at the US border, I was able to 'rescue' someone. I was flagged down by a couple who had two dogs. They said they had been chased by a huge silver tipped grizzly bear and had to throw their pack at it to get away. Unfortunate issue was that the keys to their car were in the pack. I gave the woman a drive to Cameron Lake below so she could call the park rangers and her husband followed along with the dogs. I never saw the bear but another car of visitors to the park did and they said it was lumbering down the road. I miss all the good stuff! Well not really. but still...
more to follow...
:: Mike Wood 18:43 [+] ::
Vacation blog, Part Deux
(editors note: I have been travelling and not writing or not having net…. my apologies. I know how some of you have been wanting to live vicariously through me for a bit...)
5/28 n 5/29. out of Ontario and through Manitoba...
Before I left Thunder Bay, I shot some images down by the harbour the first one is The Sibley Peninsula, or the "Sleeping Giant" accross from Thunder Bay. It's a natural rock peninsula in the shape of a giant sleeping person (head on the left). The rock juts into Lake Superior and forms Thunder Bay. One Ojibway legend identifies the giant as Nanabijou, who turned to stone when the secret location of a rich silver mine, now known as Silver Islet, was disclosed to white men. when I shot it, the early morning mist was still low and made it like a cloud bed. Using the circular polarizer filter helped being out some contrast. I have started to use it a lot for the landscapes when it doesn't cut down on the light too much.
I also shot a couple of images down at the grain docks. I used to work at Harbourfront in Toronto back in the early 1990s. One of the facilities we were responsible for was the abandoned Canada Malting buildins at the foot of Bathurst St. This structure was much larger - as with its two other sisters which were not accessible to me. The ship is the 700 foot class Canada Steamship Lines vessel Cedarglen loading up with grain with some old wood piles (pier supports in the foreground).
Not too far north of T'Bay after the Hwy 11/17 split, the terrain changed to being more flat forest and less rolling hills. there were still boulders around, but not to be blasted through, just going around. And near the time zone line I saw the following sign. Makes you realize how far North I am going :)
I finally shot my first ok moose pic today too near Firesteel River on the 17. I say OK, because most of my moose pics have been not too sharp. everything in the pic can be sharp, but not the animal itself. My theory is that the sheen of the hairs combined with a high ISO and low light at dusk. today was bright sunshine. close enough to hear it drinking and chewing the grass. no more than 25 feet at times. they are certainly curious creatures. like cows, but taller. Not sure on the comparable dumbness factor though.
Drizzling started soon after the moose shot and continued all the way out of the province off n on. I wouldn't see sun again for a couple of days which was a bit of a dissapointment. I stopped over in Dryden where my friend Sarah was doing some tree planting. When I checked their base camp, the cook said they were still at least two or three hours out so i left a note for her - which I am sure melted under her car windshield wiper as it started to downpour. Some of the worst rain I have ever driven in. Not fun when you are being chased by an 18 wheeler on twisty turny roads that are so rain soaked that the occasional hydroplaning happens.
Near Kenora I came across a plaque for the last spike put in the rail line between the Great Lakes and the Prairies in 1882. When I saw the sign, I thought the rail spike on the right was intentional, but someone had just left it there loose hooked on the edge.
I stopped for the last time in Ontario in Kenora which is just a heartbeat from the Manitoba border. I had a bite to eat at a somewhat ghetto Husky there (we are spoiled by the one on the 401 I have come to realize) and chatted with Mandy and sent a couple of emails from my phone. And to my credit, I have resisted shooting big giant things like nickels and geeze and so on, but for Louise I shot this Transformer inspired bug outside a metal recycler in Kenora.
Once I crossed into Manitoba, it was a huge difference. Mainly roads became straight all of a sudden. and fairly flat so I decided to press on past Winnipeg. It took me two days of solid driving to get out of Ontario, and I drove 3/4 across Manitoba in a couple of hours. when I pulled into the Husky in Brandon, I had driven 1022km today. I napped for about three or four hours in a corner of the parking lot and got up at about at 445am.
I had a specific plan. I wanted to shoot some grain elevators in Inglis which is Northwest of Brandon. Sounds boring I know, but the set of elevators beside an abandoned spur is the last set on the prairies. I thought some morning sunrise shots would be cool. I had determined they faced generally East so they were ideal for this. Unfortunately the weather continued to be overcast and my arrival at about 645am didn't mean any sun one way or the other. Made for somber dark feeling shots. Perhaps befitting these last remaining elevators?
I then drove around some back country roads (think lots of gravel and slow going) with the the idea of going around the top of the Riding Mountain National Park. It's between Dauphin and Brandon and is bisected by a highway. I had heard that there was a bison enclosure there and wanted to see if it was true. It is quite a haul to get to it, but worth it if you can go there. It is at the far end of Audy lake in the bottom end of the park and at the end of a 20km twisty semi gravel road. You drive into the vast enclosure (like African Lion Safari) which has not gates only those rolled steel tubes seen to keep cows in or out on farms. Apparently hoofed creatures hate em and wont cross. Enclosure has two routes a north one and a loop closer to the entrance. The north one was OK but not anything close enough to shoot. The South one panned out better. I got close enough to the plains buffalo that I could hear them breathing. Any closer and I would have smelled them.
The last shot below was one where I got a little concerned. I had been following this one and two others for the better part of 25mins or so. Driving on the road and stopping and turning off the engine, shooting em, and then moving with em and stopping. When they entered some trees I followed. And then came parallel. and about 4 feet from this one. He (?) began to tilt his head back n forth rocking it. As I have no animal behavioural science skills I wasn't sure if this was threatening. what I did know was that if it decided to charge, its 600lbs would do more than dent the CRV. so I moved off! :) Super cool getting that close to something I had never seen before.
As a side note, this was a National Park. signs say display valid park pass, etc. But it would help to actually see any park staff at either entrance. Nobody around. I would have paid for that. It was certainly worth the price of admission. what I would not have paid for was the little passengers I got when walking about the park area (that you were allowed to walk in... I never got out in the buffalo enclosure. ;) I found I had somewhere between 8 and 10 ticks. i know they like the animals, and when i was walking in some grass they hopped on board. Of course I only noticed this when driving. and I kept finding them for the next few hrs. never got bitten by one, but they were certainly unwelcome!
With the driving around the park and such the trip between Brandon MB and Regina Sask was 1006km. Would have been about 300 less without that. I slept well and tick free that nite.
And then was Saskatchewan and the Rockies... More to follow.
:: Mike Wood 03:30 [+] ::