In our previous two blogs of Leslie’s trip and Mark’s trip to Churchill, we mentioned our 2009 trip with Classic Canadian Tours that we took to Churchill Manitoba to see the polar bears. Although it wasn’t our first trip to Churchill, it was the first time we went there to see the polar bears. We had a fantastic time as we saw around 25 polar bears and 2 Arctic foxes. Unlike this year, the polar bears were more active on our 2009 trip and we were able to witness several bears, mostly males, sparring and playing fighting with each other. Although at quite a distance away, we also witnessed a mother polar bear nursing her two cubs. Here are a few of the images that we took on that trip. – Mark and Leslie
Jasper National Park is one of our favourite locations both for photography and just experiencing nature, so when we heard that there was a forest fire in the Maligne valley area we were quite concerned. The Maligne valley is place we spend a considerable amount of time when in Jasper and we have taken lots of great photos in the area over the years. The Excelsior Creek fire was started by a lightening strike in the afternoon of July 9th and burned, uncontrolled at times, for a number of days before it was finally put out. We realize that fire, especially naturally started ones, is beneficial for mountain forest ecology but were curious how the fire impacted the region.
So a couple of weeks ago when we were driving through Jasper National Park we decided to take a quick trip up the Maligne Lake road to see how much effect the Excelsior Creek fire had on the Medicine Lake area. From the Maligne Lake road we first saw the burn on the Maligne Range at Excelsior Creek, just across from the Watchtower parking area. The fire continued heading southeast to Medicine Lake along the Maligne Range till it was finally put out three quarters of the way down the lake. The fire also crossed over the road just before the north end of the lake and burned around the north end of the lake and a little bit down the north east side of the lake. Fortunately none of the infrastructure was damage by the fire, thanks to the hard work of the fire fighters who battled the blaze.
Although the local scenery has changed due to the fire, it has also opened up some new photographic opportunities, both now and as the forest slowly regenerates over time. We are looking forward to spending time photographing the burn.
The first images are from the north end of Medicine Lake.
Later we stopped at the south end of Medicine Lake to get a different view of the burn. The extent of the burn fallowed the length of Medicine Lake’s south west shore. – Mark and Leslie
Over the years we have learnt to expect just about any conditions on our workshops, like hot temperatures, heavy rain and hail or even snow, but we have never experienced a forest fire before. In the evening of July 3, the first evening of the workshop, we experienced a brief thunderstorm that really didn’t do much around the lodge, but unknown to us at the time, a lightening strike near the Banff National Park boundary about 30 km east of Aurum Lodge sparking what is now referred to as the Spreading Creek Wildfire.
We didn’t know that there was a forest fire till Friday afternoon when we were driving back to the lodge after spending a great morning photographing the Brazeau Collieries mine site in Nordegg. We could see some really impressive orange coloured clouds billowing over the top of Elliot Peak just to the southwest of Aurum Lodge. We stopped at a couple of places to photograph the clouds.
On the Saturday, our curiosity got the best of us and we drove toward the fire area on Highway 11. The fire was on the other side of the North Saskatchewan River from the highway and only around 500 ha in size at that time. We watched as a couple of helicopters were picking up buckets of water from the river and dropping them on the fire, which was neat. From a photographic perspective, we were a little disappointed that we could only see a small amount of fire, but there was lots of smoke.
We went back Saturday evening to see if we could get some photos of the sun setting behind the fire, which we were able to, but the smoke and clouds quickly became too thick. On Sunday, the last day of the workshop, the smoke finally started drifting down the valley to the lodge, creating just enough haze to begin to obscure the mountain tops.
As of today, July 17th, the fire is still going and has spread to over 8,450 ha and there are 119 firefighters, 8 helicopters and various heavy equipment fighting the fire. Since the area that the fire is in was scheduled to undergo a prescribed burn in the next couple of years, they have been just maintaining the fire boundaries so that it doesn’t spread too far. The fire, although causing some major disruptions to people’s activities, will actually have some ecological benefits in keeping the forests in the area healthier. We are also looking forward to some neat photographic opportunities in the burnt area over the next few years as the forest starts to regenerate. – Mark
One afternoon in early March, a few weeks ago, at the end of a cold snap, the sun popped out from behind the clouds and began to melt the snow on the south facing back roof our the house. With the temperature at -9°C the eavestrough filled with water and then the water started to turned to ice. With nowhere for the water to go but over the edge, we had icicles forming all along the eavestrough. Those icicles in turn dripped water that landed onto some dried plants in a flowerbed below that were left over from last fall. Here is a shot that I captured on that day and I thought the following quote suited the photograph well. – Leslie
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is Summer in the light and Winter in the shade” – Charles Dickens
Our very good friends Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou have just released their newest eBook “50 at 50”, a retrospective look back at Darwin’s photographic career so far. Darwin is one of Canada’s most creative and inspiring photographers and “50 at 50” is a great glimpse into his photographic journey and for us a nostalgic look back.
Darwin and I first met when we were both starting our graduate research at the U. of A. where we shared an office. At the same time both of us were also getting into photography and we started to go out photographing together when we had some free time. After grad school our paths diverged slightly, but photography kept us together and at least from my perspective helped us both develop as photographers. Over the course of time we have shared lots of great times and wonderful adventures. Darwin was the MC at our wedding and by the time he had finished his little speech, including some comments about a dead pelican and other things that I don’t want to repeat, I was sure that Leslie’s parents were going to drag her out of the reception hall saying that their daughter wasn’t going to have any thing to do with these guys. Luckily that didn’t happen and we all continued to enjoy photography and life together.
“50 at 50” is a wonderful read, whether you know Darwin or not, and it contains some of Darwin’s favourite images (50 to be exact) that he has taken over his 25 year career. We just wish the book would have been called “100 at 50” or “200 at 50” because there are so many more photos that Darwin has taken that deserved to be include.
You can purchase a copy of “50 at 50” by going to Darwin and Samantha’s website oopoomoo.com. In addition to the regular eBook, Darwin is offering a special limited collector’s edition that not only includes the eBook but also a fine art 13×19 inch print of the Killarney Canoe (the cover image of “50 at 50”). – Mark