Writing on Stone

Writing on Stone in the spring!

I LOVE Writing on Stone for so many reasons.  I have a hard time saying that in the heat of the summer as it is so hot but this time of year it is GREAT!!!

Last weekend I found myself on the way to Writing on Stone with clear skies and almost a full moon.  The large moon was not the best for night shots but would be great for seeing at night as I walked around the park after dark.  The sunset was okay, it would have been nice for a couple clouds but again it was warm, no snow and great just to be outside after such a long winter!

Writing on Stone at sunset
Writing on Stone at sunset

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Waterton – Spring has sprung – April 20 2018

Spring has Sprung

The first positive signs of spring finally started to appear and I decided that I should make a run to Waterton.  I also was hoping to spend the night in the new van so I thought that it would be a good chance to do both things at once. Environment Canada changed the  weather forecast just before I left on Friday advising of very strong winds all day on Saturday so the night in the van ended up being postponed.  This early in the year strong winds mixed with lots of snow in the bush and muddy trails was more than I wanted to deal with but that did not stop me from at least heading out for the day.

Tundra Swans
Tundra Swans

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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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Spring is coming!!!!

I was out walking the dog yesterday and could not believe how hot the sun was. A good sign that spring is coming and with spring the birds. I love the spring birds as they are in good health and their colors are starting to enhance so what better time for a bird course.

This year I have added a full day with (6 hours) of shooting.

Bird Photography
Bird Courses

Photo Courses, Workshop, Photo Tours, Photo Expeditions, Photo Safaris

Getting that amazing shot
Secrets to getting that amazing shot

Photo Courses, Workshop, Photo Tours, Photo Expeditions, Photo Safaris

So before I start let me say I think EVERYONE should take a Course, Tour, Expedition or Safari from me – because I am such a nice guy But what if you want to go someplace that I do not go and you want to hire someone to help with your photography, what should you look for?

First what is the difference in the above terms (unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule for what the terms mean) but here is what I generally find:

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Some more work with a Full (or almost full moon)

I have been having a lot of fun these past few months shooting some work with full moons, or as it has been – almost full moons.  In the past when I have wanted to shoot with the full moon more often than not I never knew when it was going to appear, or where on the horizon, and sky, it would be till it was too late.  Then I got my hands on The Photographer’s Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com) and it has helped a lot with my planning of shoots, not only for the full moon but to know what stage the moon is in and where it is in the sky so I can shoot without the moon.  The other thing that I did was to add a calendar on my tablet to let me know the stages of the moon.  Using the two of these tools it has made shooting a lot easier.

The only problem that I have been having is that every full moon for the past several months it has been nice before the moon is full but then the day it is to be full and the days after it has been cloudy.  REALLY frustrating for trying to plan some shoots.  Add to that the light winds that we have been having and long exposures have not been fun.  The shoot shown below I had to shoot in RAW and then really add sharpening to take away from the shake of the camera and tripod because of the wind.

Moon & well
Moon & Well

 

Moon, Well & City Lights
Moon, Well & City Lights

Or if you want a picture without the moon and need to know that the moon will not be in the picture this is great as well.  Nothing like taking a picture with part of the moon in the picture and you did not want it there.

Oil Well
Oil Well

 

The other thing that I like about the programs that I am using is that I can locate the rising moon a week or more before and know exactly where the moon was going to rise.  I was always finding out too late that the moon was rising above a great landmark and I was not able to be there to catch it. A number of times I was driving home and watching the moon rise and would have loved to do a picture of the moon with something in front of it like the windmill picture below.  On my list still is to do a picture with the moon and a elevator and the moon and the reflection in a lake (one that is not frozen or with waves)

Rising Moon
Rising Moon

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.

Chimney Rock Photography Weekend

Chimney Rock B&B photography weekend. Information on the handout. Book now to reserve your spot. As with all my classes, small class size so you can enjoy, fun times and with Chimney Rock GREAT food and accommodation.  Also, on Sunday I am thinking of heading over to Claresholm over the Porcupine Hills and will continue the course on this little trip.

Chimney Handout