Writing On Stone Provincial Park

Writing on Stone can be a hot and dry place in the summer but winter is usually cold and dry, not this winter.  With all the crazy snow that we have gotten it looks more like a part of Alaska than southern Alberta.

Was heading down to camp for a couple days but the campground is not accessible as there is so much snow so just spend part of a day there.

Writing on Stone
Writing on Stone after the storm as the clouds break

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Yes I am guilty……

I have to say off the start that I am as guilty as anybody.  So what is it that I am guilty of?  Well I am guilty of the “Waterton syndrome”, the feelings or thoughts that the only place to go in southern Alberta is to Waterton.  That if you cannot get to Waterton that you should stay home.  Now I do LOVE Waterton, I love the mountains and the animals.  I love all the scenery from tiny flowers to huge waterfalls but when I am honest with myself I am doing a great disservice to the other places in Southern Alberta.

Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park

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McQuillan Lake, Alberta

So many times I hear photographers tell me they have to travel a long ways to find an interesting place to take pictures.  While this is true in some cases such as if you’re looking for specific hummingbirds, polar bears, or African animals but there are lots of amazing places close to Lethbridge that you can take pictures.  This past weekend I had planned to go and take pictures in Waterton, a place that I know that I can get some good pictures but after a suggestion from one of my customers of a place even closer to home I decided to change my plans and head out on Saturday to photograph an area that I haven’t been at for years.

The place, McQuillan Lake, is more of a dugout than an actual lake but it is stocked with fish and has a lot of waterfowl that seem to visit there.  So out I went on Saturday and I was very surprised at the variety of waterfowl that were hanging around the lake.  I got to see many Red Winged Blackbirds, Pelicans, Yellow Headed Blackbirds, Mallard Ducks, Cinnamon Teals and lots more and the best part was that all this was within 20 minutes of my house, a place that I could drive to just about any day when I have a few minutes.

So next time that you have a few minutes pick a spot close by and head out to see what you can photograph.

Saturday April 11, 2015 BC Photography Trip

Saturday April 11, 2015

Woke up around 6:30 (time change messing with my internal clock) and did some editing of images.  Went back to sleep for a while and made the decision that I would spend another day here, not really a smart idea to head out for a new campsite on a Saturday any how.  One of my first ideas when thinking of this trip was to go whale watching and to visit Fisherman’s Warf, I wanted to see the Harbour Seals that I see on a web cam and to see what the area looks like in person. Well did manage to make it to the warf but very windy and cool and decided that the whale watching would have to wait till a warmer time.  Had a great fish lunch with the seals (mine was cooked theirs wasn’t) and got a few pictures. Wanted to stop at a grocery store but I have managed to miss 99% of the grocery stores on the Island and the ones that I do see it is too late to get to them as I drive past. Came back and did some housekeeping and worked at updating the blog and answering E-mails, I really want a vacuum to vacuum the carpet may have to stop at Canadian Tire and get a small one.

Thursday April 9 2015 – Morning BC Photography Trip

Thursday April 9 2015 – Morning

A good nights sleep and a good breakfast before I hit the road makes for a happy Mike.  Only had to go 120kms today and did not have to be there till 4 to have supper with my daughter so I could take it easy today.  Not really warm when I got up but was warming up fast.  Got on the road early and within a couple minutes saw some train tunnels that I had to photograph.  Only problem was that there were a lot of train people working on the tracks so no trains would be coming through for a while.  Oh well, got a picture of a tunnel without the train anyways.

Then the next spot that I see is the place where the last spike was hammered in joining the rail lines across Canada so another stop was in order.

Okay enough train related things (yes I have a train addiction but most times it is under control) and on to something more important ICE CREAM!!!  If you are ever driving through BC and you find yourself in a town called Sicamous there is a dairy there called D Dutch Dairy and they have amazing ice cream, cheese and milk products.  So a quick stop there to get a small cone and a lot of cheese and it is time for some serious shooting.  Off to do some wildlife pictures.

April 7 & 8 BC Photography Trip

Wednesday April 8, 2015 Part 2:

Made it to Revelstoke today.  Really wanted to stop at so many places but also wanted to get to Revelstoke.  Not a lot of snow.  Saw lots of waterfowl on the lakes and ponds, saw some Mountain Goats as well.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a lot more shooting and less driving as I only have to go 120km’s tomorrow.  Now for some dinner!


Wednesday April 8, 2015

I have packed up the camper and just about to load the photography gear into the truck.  Funny how much “stuff” that I carry.  Like my home away from home only with more photography gear.


Tuesday April 7, 2015

Camper just about all packed. Checking out more possible campsites at different locations, hate to make too many plans as I do not know when and where I will get to each day.  No real schedule to follow just whatever looks nice to photograph and what the weather offers. I have some places on the “Would like to get to” list but really nothing that I would say is that important.

What gift for the photographer?

I get asked a lot from photographers and those that have to buy gifts for them what is good to get/give for a present.   So lets go through some things;

Before buying anyone a gift make sure that you know what type of camera that they have.  It is no good to buy a lens that fits a Nikon when they shoot Canon.  If you are unsure get them a gift certificate.

Lenses/camera – unless someone really needs a new camera it is more important to get better lenses than to get another camera body.  A GOOD lens will do far more to improve a photo than a camera body will.  Don’t upgrade a camera just to get a new camera, save the money and get some pro lenses it will amaze you the difference.

Flash – Before buying someone a flash make sure that they want/need it.  I know many people that have flashes and never use them.  It does not good buying a nature photographer a flash.  Also, again make sure you know the camera make and model as some flashes will not work on some cameras.

Tripod – If you are getting a tripod for someone, get a good quality one.  A cheap one will break or move too much, there is a reason that some tripods are $19.00 and some are $200.

Monopod – A cool gift for someone that likes hiking is a walking stick with a tripod head built in.  Also, if you have someone that wants a little more stability when shooting a monopod gives that without the weight and size of a tripod. The older I get the more I appreciate a monopod for hiking and taking pictures.

External Hard drive – most people never have enough storage space for pictures.  An external hard drive can fix this problem.

CD/DVD – This is one product that most photographers can always use.  Again like in other areas get the good ones Sony, TDK,  Maxell, Fuji

Hand Warmers – (okay I am a wimp and I admit it) My daughter bought me a set of reusable hand warmers a few years ago, WOW are they nice.  Last about 20 minutes and will take the cold off when shooting, or keep with in case of emergency.

Warm clothes – (see wimp comment above) – Standing and shooting is different than doing other things outside.  If you have someone that likes to shoot outside in cold weather this is great!  Warm boots are nice as well.  Met up with a photographer in Waterton in September with a heated jacket, another great idea for a gift.

Camera bag/ backpack – Most people have a camera bag that they have outgrown.  A new camera bag that holds all the equipment is a great idea.

Photo Course/Adventure/Expedition – (I had to put this in 🙂 ) One of the top presents that we sell at Christmas is our courses.  A location course, studio course or adventure is a great gift. It is a gift that keeps on giving as the knowledge that they get from the course will be with them for a long time.

Frames – Many photographers that I know have lots of pictures but few frames.  Some good quality frames are a great gift as they can get pictures printed and have some place to display them.

Prints – Get a image printed and framed for the person on your list (either one of their images or one of your images). There is nothing like opening a gift to find one of your images professionally printed and framed.  Or if you are the photographer give some of your images as gifts, it is a lot more personal than a tie, socks or a box of chocolate.

National Park Pass – Have someone that likes to go to Waterton or Banff?  Get them a park pass.  It will be a gift that they will use all year.

Gas Gift Card – As above it will be something that will help them get out and take some pictures, even if they usually shoot around Lethbridge they will like the fact that they have a tank of gas that they can use to drive around.

First Aid / Emergency  Kit – Many photographers are out in secluded sites taking pictures and a first aid/ emergency kit is something that you hope they will never need but sure will be appreciated if they need it.  I actually make them myself and toss in granola bars, matches, fire starter and a emergency reflective blanket. You could put together a few different items (hand warmers, ready to eat meals, etc) to suit the person that you are giving it to and it could be more than just for emergencies.

Take a photographer out for a day of shooting.  I know many of us photographers are antisocial – just joking.  Set aside a day, pack a lunch and head out with someone., it could be taking pictures in Lethbridge, going to Waterton or Kananaskis or any place.  I had one lady come to one of my courses that said she would love it if her husband would go out with her when she was shooting.  Another person came in and bought a day class for their spouse so they would have someone to go out with them and take pictures (the person that bought the class was not able to go out with the photographer) and wanted them to have someone to go to Waterton with them.