I’ve been wondering of late whether photographers may be susceptible to their own version of “writer’s block”. I say this because with each dry month that has blown by this year, I’ve run out of excuses….I have the equipment, the time, a reasonable skill set – and yet, nada…rien…niets!
Well that’s behind me – I think (hope) because my long-lost inspiration presented itself again this weekend at a meet-up with our friends and their kiddos. This is without a doubt one of the most “chilled” families we know….what with the parents’ sense of humour, a fearless young son and their recent addition of a beautifully intense daughter.
I’ve always said that I love to photograph people, places and things….well I’m thinking perhaps, it’s the human connection that is, in fact, my inspiration. I will test that theory….but for now, the only thing left for me to do was hang out with my camera ready to roll!
When long time family friends (who don’t like to be in front of the camera), asked if I would take a few informal shots for them, it goes without saying I was more than happy to accommodate.
“We just want one family photo with the 4 of us and Charli (the dog)”…..they said
“No problem at all”….I said
….and ended up eating my words (about 60 shots later) – but it was fun! 🙂
While I’m a big fan of “keeping Christmas in December”….I only recently had a chance to review some shots that were taken during a special trip to the UK, to spend the holiday season with family. So please indulge me with this flashback as you’re endeavouring to get on with 2017, just because…
This little set started out with my 7-year-old niece (Emily) taking an interest in my Nikon D90 when I was capturing some moments on December 25th. So I handed the camera over, forgetting in the moment that everything was set to “manual”….and with minimal guidance, she proficiently went around the room. Most of the portraits below were taken by “our Em”….and the rest by me (the understudy!).
Oh…and incase you’re wondering, the answer is yes – in St Helens, UK, we don our reindeer antlers and red noses throughout the festive season “as you do”!
The back story to this photo shoot is pretty cool……I think. A last-minute call from a girlfriend in the Fall of 2015 placed me in the sound booth at an ACDC concert that same evening, and sharing the space, a beer and the fantastic vantage point with mom and dad below. Mom and I discovered we have a common interest in photography and an agreement was struck to connect and snap a few family pics. It took just over a year to line up our mutual schedules, and we were not going to let the freezing temperatures kibosh the opportunity again – so off we went to a very scenic Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, and frost-bitten fingers were a small sacrifice for a family keepsake.
A change is as good as a rest “they say”, so despite the fact that it has been raining relentlessly for the previous 4 weeks or so, and there was no end in sight, we decided to take off for a mini road trip to the West (Wet) Coast of Vancouver Island for a birthday break.
Leaving on Remembrance Day, we were thankful that BC ferries were respectfully observant of this important occasion, in both lowering the Canadian flag to half mast and observing the moment of silence. It was quite something to witness and participate in, the phenomena of a jammed packed ferry hitting the mute button for 2 minutes.
After a super scenic (albeit it torrentially rainy) drive, we arrived at our lodgings the Snug Harbour Inn, Ucluelet, and were not disappointed. The cosy fire and extra large jacuzzi tub, quickly made the damp drive a distant memory…
Rain, rain…go away!
The start…..or the end (?)….of Highway # 1
Booting around Tofino harbour…
…and a stop at the Wickaninnish Inn (where we were married 13 yrs ago), to take in the view
Surfers at Long Beach not deterred by the inclement weather “surfs up dude!”
Back at the Snug Harbour Inn and planning our hike for the next (non-rainy) day….
….a wonderful break all-in-all and a birthday celebrated with BC’s own Blue Mountain – my fave!
Shear joy…..is spending time with closest friends and their new puppy. She (Kess)….was a reminder that we all need somebody to love (and to be loved) and that’s what life is all about, after all….
We just LOVE the National Parks in the US, and given it’s the centennial celebration this year we opted to visit a couple them. Yellowstone was a very different experience from our hiking trip to Joshua Tree this past February, in part because we decided to drive there from Vancouver, BC (via Portland). It was an epic road trip unlike any we’ve undertaken previously, and in planning this little jaunt, we decided we’d share the driving so the 4,300+ kilometres wouldn’t be too much of a challenge between us. As it turned out, I seem to have an aversion to driving at high-speed along an interstate, and so my “share” of the drive amounted to a mere 50 km or so, before I lost my nerve and was relegated to co-pilot status!
By the time we arrived in Yellowstone (after first spending a couple of days in Teton National Park) I was more than ready for the black bear, grizzly bear, wolves, moose and perhaps the odd bison sighting…any of the aforementioned would provide ample opportunity for my future National Geographic cover shot!!! Alas, it very quickly became apparent that the wildlife would not be lining up waiting for me to pose them, and so I decided to just enjoy the scenery, and more importantly the company, instead!
A few images were captured along the way, and posted below for those who may be interested in heading to this gem of a park in the future.
The Old Faithful Inn…what a wonderful, historic spot to spend a night or two.
….and the geyser of the same name doesn’t disappoint in blowing off steam every 90 mins or so!
….no grizzlies, wolves or moose to be seen anywhere – but the abundance of bison did not disappoint 🙂
….and then there was the hiking – awe-inspiring even for those of us who are afraid of heights!
….the hotel rooms in the park all seemed to have a cute furry friend installed (and available for purchase at a reasonable price btw!) – and after 4 days I was beginning to think this may be the only bear we would see during our trip.
….and then on our final day’s drive, behold – there were these 2 guys (or gals) off the side of the road, and blatantly unaware of the traffic chaos their playful presence had created! Yay for our Yogi sighting!
….we thought this geyser sign was pretty funny (and unnecessary), until we saw some tourists from another continent stepping off the trails to put their hand in the water, or get a better angled photo – unbelievable! Yellowstone should seriously consider replacing the boy image with a fully grown man or woman…(the kiddos appeared to be following the rules!)
…the highlight of the trip for us was by far the multitude of geysers and hot pools/springs. The prismatic colours were incredible, and although we only saw snippets due to the cold temperatures (snow had already fallen causing the steam to obliterate many) – we were impressed all the same.
…heading home via Montana (a river runs through it don’t you know?!). Spot the cowboy!
Soon after my last post ‘faux wedding’ https://carrymycamera.com/2016/06/07/faux-wedding/…..I was asked to photograph the small, impromptu marriage of the lovely couple below! Timing couldn’t have been better as I was still in “wedding shooter” mode, and it was so nice to share in their “happily ever after” moment!
Flowers by Forage & Bloom http://www.forageandbloom.ca/special-occasions
It may have been a ‘faux’ wedding shoot….but the flowers were aromatically real and the collective talents of participants undeniably evident. All of which made for one of the most rewarding and fun photo shoots I’ve had the pleasure to work on to date!
I’ll let the images speak for themselves…and I’m sure visitors to ‘Forage & BLOOM’ http://www.forageandbloom.ca/about will be as inspired as I was to see the uniquely crafted offerings of boutineers, flower crowns and bouquets. I may just have to renew my wedding vows in order to don my wedding dress again, with the beautiful accompaniment of these fresh and vibrant blooms! 😉
This above is in fact my very own wedding dress….. 🙂
“Lucy the Labrador” little helper!
Amanda Langerak – Co Owner, Forage & BLOOM
Natalie Sumiyoshi – Co Owner, Forage & BLOOM
Behind the scenes & Forage & BLOOM – pre-shoot final touches
I’m not usually one for posting ‘before’ and ‘after’ home reno photos…but my recent experience working with a local Vancouver floral and plant design business ‘Forage & BLOOM’ http://www.forageandbloom.ca, proved to be quite transformative…not only for our drab concrete balcony – but also in terms of providing me with some sorely lacking gardening skills.
Initially, the prospect of spending hard-earned cash on new plants and herbs, given my previously abysmal track record of keeping anything alive for more than a few weeks, didn’t fill me with joy – but I also wasn’t prepared to spend another summer on a barren balcony. For this reason, I reached out to the F&B team (Natalie Sumiyoshi and Amanda Langerak) for their expert advice on how to best maximize the use of this small space.
A visually successful project is the result….and what a treat it is to step outside to hand-pick a few fresh herbs for my culinary capers!
The Master Plan
The large faux tree is the only item not designed and delivered by Forage & BLOOM
I was more than happy to participate under the watchful eye of the real gardener, and the most significant thing I learned along the way is the importance of “tickling” the roots of a plant when transferring to its permanent home. Who would have thought?!
Really looking forward to seeing the deep violet Clematis flowers wind their way up this custom made trellis 🙂
When I saw this week’s photo challenge topic was ‘harmony’ it filled me with joy, for two reasons:
It just so happens that we recently returned from a great hiking vacation which, as always, found us spending time in perfect harmony with our environment!
….it began at the Harmony Motel, ’29 Palms’
….a simple but quaint spot, 5 minutes drive from our hiking destination and the same rest stop that supergroup U2 chose to stay at while shooting their Joshua Tree album cover in the 1980’s
…this small but welcoming hub of ’29 Palms’ is also known as “the town of murals”….
….and it placed us perfectly to roll out of bed, have a coffee, pull on the hiking boots and head into Joshua Tree National Park
…..first time driving a convertible – EVER!
….yes, the hiking was hot even for this time of year – but such a magnificent landscape!
….really glad I remembered to pack my polarizing filter!
….stopped at the Cholla Cactus Garden – would have been even better if the spring flowers were in bloom, next time?!
….full moon over ’29 Palms’
…”Welcome to the Hotel California”….sorry, couldn’t resist – what a fabulous spot for some post-hiking R&R in Palm Springs – we totally recommend it.
….so we exchanged the hiking boots for some ‘bloody mary boots’!…
….and some chillin time by the pool!
We were thrilled to enjoy a few days in Joshua Tree National Park (California) recently, and a good part of it was spent hiking through the desert landscape taking in the glorious (not too hot for February!) sun. At the end of each day we typically exited the Park….grabbed or made dinner at our motel, and relaxed in the hot tub while deliberating which happy trail to take the following day. All this made for a great work out and a fine time taking in the awesome vistas, but… something was missing?! You got it, our post-hike fatigue and the need for nourishment (ok, ok… maybe a cocktail too!) meant we had missed my most favourite time of day…sunset.
So upon quickly freshening up after our last day hike, we sped back into the park in search (under pressure I might add) of “the” perfect spot to watch the day draw to its technicolour close…
and….we also made the effort to “try something new”, which I originally hoped would be time-lapse shots of the desert sky stars. Unfortunately, or fortunately as it happened, it was a ‘full’ moon’ and so I switched gears, and with the help of my photographic assistant (aka dear husband), played around with some flashlight Joshua Tree monograms…by the light of the silvery moon 🙂
Note: the first crap attempt was mine, and then I went back where I belong (behind the camera) and left it to the talented writer of the family to turn it around!
I know I’ve mentioned previously how much I’m in awe of wildlife photographers (dedicated amateurs and pros alike!)….and my respect has been reinforced on the rare occasions I’ve tried it for myself. Case in point was a recent impromptu opportunity I grabbed when I realized someone had kindly placed a Humming Bird feeder in my path, and…..I happened to be carrying my camera! I’ve always been fascinated by Humming Birds, and I love to watch ‘slo-mo’ footage on wildlife documentaries as well as appreciate the really close up, sharp captures by talented photog types.
My encounter involved a few fleeting moments with the little guy below – my Nikon D90 and my 50 mm prime glass. There was obviously no “zoom” action happening here…so I was relieved that the hungry hummer was happy to drop by for a snack with me hanging out a few feet away 🙂 Fortunately, this beauty came by 3 or 4 times in the space of 10 minutes – so I had a chance to quickly change-up my camera settings and these are the best captures (ISO 800, F2.8 and 1/4000 seconds).
If you’ve had the pleasure of being close enough to hear the hum and take a shot…I’d love to hear what settings you used so I can add them to my toolkit for next time!
Much has been written about the science of perception with respect to the passage of time. You can find a plethora of information on the internet if you want to know more on the subject, but one of the key learnings for me is the possibility that when you are experiencing new things, that period of time seems to stretch out longer in your mind. Knowing this, we made a pact to try to do something new each weekend in 2016, and test the theory of whether our “days off” appear to last longer.
Although we’re lucky enough to live approx. 90 minutes from Whistler Ski Resort, we’ve never taken a day trip up there on public transport, nor have we snowshoed in the area – so for us this was something new. I won’t pretend we (well perhaps just me on reflection) weren’t grumpy having to crawl out of a really comfy, warm bed at 05:00 on Saturday morning to make our way to the bus stop! However, the luxury of having someone else chauffeur us up the winding mountain road provided a nice opportunity for a snooze. On arriving, we had the entire day to eat breakfast, explore the snowshoe trails around ‘Lost Lake’, and partake in the apres-ski (I reckon the fact that we moved around on snow all day qualified us for this despite the obvious lack of skis or snowboard!). The fresh mountain air, awesome snowy scenery and let’s not forget the apres-ski hour – completed our mini travel adventure and saw us on the bus to Vancouver by 4:30 pm and ready for another snooze on the way back.
Did the weekend feel longer you may wonder?….well, in our minds yes – and I guess that’s all that matters at the end of the day. This said, you too may want to try something new 🙂
I really, REALLY wish I hadn’t left my camera behind on this lazy Sunday morning walk – what with the fog, frost and sun making an appearance for a winter interruption. So many opportunities for great macro shots, and perhaps some artsy ‘lens baby’ images.
As a new photography blogger, I would not have considered posting the shots below from my camera phone – however, one of my goals for 2016 (driven by my abysmal blogging stats for 2015) is not to strive for perfection in every shot, on every post 😉 This isn’t to say I’m giving up on challenging myself to create and share my best images on a regular basis….but trying to do this every time is a tad exhausting! So I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey through 2016 while I experiment at bit, and carry my phone as well as my camera!
Have a Healthy Happy New Year everyone!
(Click on image to view gallery)
Had you asked me a few weeks ago “what is a Kokedama?”….the question would have been met with a very blank stare. I’ve since however received an education in this method of plant growing, courtesy of talented friends (Natalie Sumiyoshi and Amanda Langerak), who are also the peppy proprietors of newly launched ‘forage & BLOOM’ floral and plant design services. You can view a sample of their work at https://www.instagram.com/forage_and_bloom/.
Kokedama by the way, translates from its Japanese origin simply to “moss ball”, and is the practice of removing a plant root system from its container, surrounding it in a mud cake and then moss, before finally winding it in string. The result is a free-standing ball containing a plant of choice, that can be hung or placed just about anywhere that takes your fancy.
The need for me to quickly get up to speed on all the above was driven by a kind invitation to capture some promotional images for ‘forage & BLOOM’, and to say we had fun doing this would be an understatement. These gals have a genuine passion for their craft, which includes foraging for driftwood, employing newly acquired carpentry skills to make the perfect receptacles for their home-grown “little guys”….interesting to note that all the plants they grow are their “guys” 😉 …but not surprising as they are truly showered with love. Floral arrangements also play a prominent role in the offerings of this business, and just weeks after launch they are already taking wedding bookings!
So with thanks for the chance to share in their energy and enthusiasm, while also feeding my own passion for photography, I wish them all the success they deserve in their new venture!
During my formative years the BBC series Wildlife on One featured prominently in my top TV show list, and I’ve continued to be an avid follower it’s creator/host (Sir) David Attenborough, and all his subsequent work. At 89 yrs of age, I imagine there won’t be too many new endeavours of his to look forward to, so I may have to start re-watching the old stuff, including ‘Plant Earth’. Speaking of which, it wasn’t until I saw that gem of a series that I developed a genuine appreciation for the sticktoitiveness and talents of a wildlife photographer.
While professional wildlife photography wasn’t a calling for me personally, I try to take the opportunity where possible to capture the nature that presents on my own doorstep, and this past weekend it included the small cast below at Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. As I was only carrying my 105 mm macro that day, there was no ability to zoom in closer, so I’ve cropped a few shots hopefully without compromising quality too much.
I’ll leave you with this little quote from Sir David that so nicely encapsulates his contagious passion for our natural world:
“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”
― David Attenborough
Friends have been bringing Orchid gifts for our new home of late – a kind and thoughtful gesture indeed. There was a time however when the sight of an Orchid plant coming through our front door would have prompted a loud “inside voice” groan, followed by a quick mental calculation as to how long the beautiful specimen would last before heading on up to the big fertilizer patch in the sky!
So what’s changed you might ask? Simply this, we have light – natural light, and an abundance of it! Now I’ve never had ‘green fingers’ per se….but despite this, I seem to be managing to follow some basic instructions around providing appropriate amounts of water, and a well-lit aspect, to at least provide these delicate blossoms with a fighting chance.
Another score on the natural light front is that I no longer have to set my tripod up shoulder-to-shoulder with the patio door, and my camera to a 5-second exposure – in order to get a half decent macro shot (useful to know that our old place was surrounded by 80 ft Sequoia trees!).
So here goes….hand-held macro Orchids captured on the dining room table – who would have thought 🙂