May 24, 2013 by: G & E
It is spring and nearly summer!I have put away my snowshoes and heavy coat for another year. These are the times of serendipity and discovery; in spring a middle aged man's thoughts turn to photography!At least that's what my thoughts do.Already this spring I've made one pilgrimage to North Byzantium. I unofficially named the area east and northeast of Edmonton where settlers from Eastern Europe and especially the Ukraine came to start their new lives.Soon after they arrived they built their houses, their barns, and once the crops were in they built their churches.These are not churches like we see in the city.The first Russian Orthodox Church in Canada was celebrated under the open sky, the first Orthodox Holy Divine Liturgy on July 18, 1897 at Wostok, Alberta. In a few years after this first service, other Orthodox or Ukrainian Catholic Churches with high silver domes were built.Most of the churches were constructed between 1905 to the 1940's. The church doors always face west and the altars on the east side of the buildings.They were meeting places for people who were thousands of kilometers from home.Here they came to speak in their native tongue and feel at home again.The church lands were, and still are, places to bury their dead.
The land that these farmers settled was hard, sandy and rocky.The crops grew but not in abundance.It would not be until the arrival of modern machinery, fertilizers and the efficiencies of huge farms that these lands would be truly productive.The settlers could feed their families and sleep without fear of being taken in the night, but they did not prosper.When their children grew up most would move to the cities or perhaps the few towns not far from the farm.As the cemeteries grew, the congregations diminished and the churches that these settlers built went from weekly services to monthly or every few months.In some cases the churches were all but abandoned.They were replaced by larger churches in the towns and cities but they were not forgotten.The farmers that remain on this land still come to the churches but now only when a priest travels through.They are used for births, marriages and funerals.
To me the homesteads and churches are a living museum where I can step out of the modern western world and step into the first millennium.The homesteads were built the same way as the barns, with simple log construction that we now associate with cabins.Many have or are falling down.Many still stand but at odd angles not intended by the builders.It is here I find my inspiration.This is where my camera comes out and if the sun and clouds cooperate I can bring you a glimpse into this very special place.I drive down single lane roads that I did not previously think still existed.I look for the tell-tail signs of tall spruce trees to indicate trees were planted by people rather than the wind.They often conceal a homestead and sometimes, when I’m in the right place, I can spot the silver domes that make North Byzantium such a special place.I will return this summer and try to reach out further and further to the most remote areas before the start of the boreal forest.The boreal forest marks the end of the settlement areas because it could not be penetrated or cleared by hand or even ox. This is not a problem as there are still hundreds of kilometres to explore.Join me now through my gallery and visit North Byzantium.
Apr 13, 2013 by: G & E
Where is summer? I've really enjoyed this winter, honest I have. Snowshoeing's been great, we had bright sunny days, and it wasn't too cold considering what some winters can be like. But enough already with the snow. I'm ready for some green grass and trees. Thunder storms would be awesome and I've got places to go and things to see. I've even started going back over my old photos to rework the summer images just to feel warmer again. Reworking the images is not a badidea as I've learned a few things since I took the images and can make them look better now. To help me do just that I've added NIK Collection to my software tools. They gave me a great deal and it includes a separate program for black and white images. Yes, that is why you see so many black and whites where you did not see them before. It is wet outside today but the snow has stopped or at least slowed down. I'll process a few more images an maybe, by Monday, the sun will even come out again. Stay warm!
Mar 5, 2013 by: G & E
I had a conversation and a cup of coffee with Terry Lawson. Now normally having a conversation isn't blogworthy but with Terry Lawson it is. You see Terry's conversations are actually the raw material for podcasts. Terry hosted me as a photographer in Edmonton and now anybody can hear me on Itunes or at Terry's website. It was a actually a very surreal environment for hosting an interview. I stepped into Terry's basement office and saw all sorts ofsound equipment. I naturally thought that this was for the podcast and thathe would be fiddling with equalizers and balancing switches while I talked. That is what I thought until he said,"lets get started" and then he held out his Apple phone and started to ask me questions. Okay so it didn't have the same atmosphere as a massive microphone with headphones might have had but it worked. Talking to Terry is easy. He is an Edmonton photographer and retired engineer with many interesting stories to tell. He also has a knack for finding ghost towns, especially in Saskatchewan. You may have seen some of his work on Google Plus. If you do have the pleasure of crossing paths with Terry, be sure to ask him what area of the City he lives in. I'll give you a hint, it is very well known by its unofficial title but in the summer there are no distinguishing features that would hint at how famous it is. Now for the links, to hear the podcast go to http://photographsbyglen.com/podcasts/PodcastInterview.mp3 or http://https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/terry-lawson-photography-conversations/id593283875?mt=2 and finally to see Terry Lawson's website, visit http://www.terrylawsonphotography.ca
Jan 27, 2013 by: G & E
Lately I’ve been returning to the semi-rural areas of east of Edmonton. I go there for the snowshoeing and for the opportunities for photography. Geocaching also fits in as a dedicated group of geocachers placed a number of caches in very remote places. These are all good reasons to escape the city and venture out for exercise regardless, or maybe because of the weather. Snowshoeing is a great way to get around. Obstacles that would stop me in the summer, or at least present a nuisance, are no longer present. What obstacles? Water, whether it be a small creek that blocks my progress, or small lakes, tall grasses, and even thorns. They are buried under the snow and become invisible as I take another step forward. Last year, while trekking near Big Lake west of St Albert, I nearly ruined a pair of fine light hiking boots when I stepped into a bog of decaying vegetation. I nearly lost one boot in that quick sand like bog as it threatened to pull me ever deeper while I struggled to pull myself out. I’m sure I was never at risk of being swallowed up completely – or I certainly hope not – but it took some effort to escape the dark grasp of the bog. Even after escaping it I was not triumphant. My feet were wet and my boots smelled rank for many weeks afterward. I might still return there this winter as the bog would be no more than a fine surface of snow to snowshoe through. Who knows what might be discovered there that cannot be reached in the summer? An old car from the fifties, the remains of a trapper’s cabin or maybe someone else’s boots who also encountered the bog in the summer? In my gallery are some images of what I’ve seen while snowshoeing. Most images show the setting sun across a lake, or an old car. Some also show a very particular Miniature Schnauzer who does not like the snow. He prefers to wait until some sympatric soul offers to carry him while his playmate, a Westie pushes through the snow without a thought given to stopping. I hope you enjoy the images as I certainly enjoyed capturing them for you.
Jan 8, 2013 by: G & E
Winter is a great time to be in Edmonton! The bugs are gone and I can take my snowshoes out and walk in the beautiful outdoors. Have you ever cooked hot dogs in an ancient stone fireplace, especially one without the building attached? We did that just 30km east of Edmonton at the Ministik Bird Sanctuary. It is Edmonton’s Serengeti!You can walk a long way or a short way. You won’t likely get lost because there are always plenty of snowmobilers around to lend you a hand.If that is not your cup of tea, (and yes we did have a cup of tea out there) perhaps a walk over the new Fort Edmonton pedestrian bridge is what you need. The stairs on the west side of the bridge will give you 200 reasons why you will not keep those extra Christmas pounds. If you prefer something a little more civilized, perhaps you should walk along the boardwalks of the Clifford E Lee Nature Reserve. It is a wonderful place to spot birds and even has a heavy duty spotting scope. The walk is flat, and the main loop is short enough for the whole family to enjoy. For urbanites I would recommend a walk though Old Glenora where you can take in the ambiance of the neighbourhood with the classy lighting. Now of course you can do most of these things in the summer as well but that is bug season in Edmonton.It will soon be too hot to climb the stairs near the Fort Edmonton bridge, the fire hazards too high to light a fire in Ministik, and there is a reason why birds like these natural areas, they are full of bugs! Even Old Glenora's ambiance is harder to come by as it doesn't get dark in the summer until after 11:00. Enjoy the outdoors now before it is too late and summer is upon us.
Dec 26, 2012 by: G & E
Well here we are in the middle of another fine Edmonton winter. It is cold outside and there is lots of snow. People still drive and talk like it is our first winter ever.We've been here before. My goal for this winter is to capture beautiful images of anything I find in the snow. I want to make them look so good that others in the more temperate regions will envy us for living here. It may take a while to realize that goal but I've had some help. Some very nice people provided leads as to where I can find old cars, old homesteads or just great prospects. These give me a destination that may or may not work out but it gets me out of the house and focusing on the beauty around us. I do have some images that I hope you will enjoy. They are all from Alberta; some near and some far. But wait, don't just look, send me a tip. You can contact me on Twitter, Google+ or here under contact. Do you know of a great old car sitting out in the countryside? Maybe you're aware of an abandoned old structure, a homestead, an old historic church? Send me the details and I'll try to photograph it. I don't sell images (not yet anyway) so I don't pay for tips but you can be part of making the beauty around us available on the internet.Thank you for reading this and thank you even more if you send me a prospect.
Dec 1, 2012 by: G & E
This blog will be a little different from those in the past. Instead of talking about photography or the interesting places to do photography I'm going to talk about my computer
My old computer was on its last legs. I've upgraded most of the technology short of the motherboard and processor. Still it ran so slow that I would start it up and then have breakfast while it gets everything loaded and finishes the usual virus checks. Yes it took that long to get it running. The problem was that some individuals were trying to talk me into buying a Mac. I've used the Mac on occasion and I really liked the monitor and the quiet operation. However I really missed the wheel on the mouse, being able to right click out of any situation and generally being able to figure out how and where everything is being saved to. Also, I have some speciality software that is not Mac compatible.I'm not bashing Mac computers, they are very nice and it would be hard to find somebody with one that is disapointed. But I use Windows all day at work so my fingers are trained to use a roller wheel and benefit from right clicks. Windows 8 was announced as something totally different. I understand Windows, and Windows seems to understand me. I decided that I would give it a few weeks after the introduction and then take the plunge. I'm now the owner of a Window's 8 equipped computer. I read a lot of negativity about Windows 8; most of it centred on the lack of a start button. Times change and so do start buttons. Windows 8 is different and takes time to adjust to. For those that are uncomfortable with it, they need only click the desktop button or start any Application that you added such as Lightroom 4, Chrome, etc. and you will be back in a very familiar environment. Instead of the start button you move your mouse to the left of the screen and anything running will be displayed. Move it to the bottom left and Metro will be displayed and that is where you can open something else or just enjoy the view. I picked up a book to help through some spots but really most of it I already figured out. If I can do it, you can do it too. Microsoft really put a lot of effort into this operating system. It is linked to your many other systems so if you have G-mail, (doesn't everyone?) your contacts will quickly be moved over. There are different ways of checking mail. The basic mail app on the main screen is probably the same one as the Surface table ships with. It is very clean looking yet competent. For those who want more control, they provide Windows Live Mail for free. It uses the Cloud Skydrive and works very similarly to how Outlook 2010 by presenting your mail in conversations. It does this by linking all mail to replies and replies to replies even if you delete them. This is a nice feature. You have to like the file manager as it is full of upgrades but is still the file manager that we all are used to. Now you can put two (maybe more) of them side by side for very easy backups or simply moving things around. Am I sorry I bought a Window 8 machine? Not at all. I would buy a Windows phone now but they are supposed to be making major upgrades to it in 2013 so I'll wait for the latest and use it then. Well I is cold outside but I'll try and get some new images as soon as I convince myself that I really want to venture outside.
Nov 4, 2012 by: G & E
Photo Walk at the U of A!
It was my pleasure to go on another photo walk and this time it was at the University of Alberta experimental farm. The recent snow and colder weather prevented us from staying long or from catching a brilliant sunset but there was still lots of places of interest. My first discovery was a small gate that the locals use to access the walkway through the farm. I must have cycled or driven past this gate hundreds of times without seeing it. Once inside and after some quick introductions we were on our way. There was farm machinery, old buildings, and various other things of interest.
A couple of us broke off from the main group and captured an interesting image of a John Deere tractor sitting out in the field. We decided to keep walking north and then head over the South Campus LRT station. This provided a fine opportunity to photograph the trains and I was able to obtain images of both the old style train and the newer models. We decided to call it a day, or rather a night, after the train photos but all in all I'm glade we went. No matter how many years I've lived in this city, there is always more to see and discover.
Oct 8, 2012 by: G & E
This past Saturday we decided to do something a little different and a little off the wall. We drove to the annual Smoky Lake Great White North Pumpkin Fair. It's an hour and a bit north east of Edmonton. This is when the locals and others bring their prized giant pumpkins to the weigh-in to see if they can win the prize for the heavy weight champion. The winner weighed 1,275 pounds. Not a world record or even a Canada record but big enough for the prize. The winner also has the honour of the great squash squish. They lift it up 30 meters with a crane and drop it to the hard surface below. We didn't stay for the big drop but I'm told by one of the locals that people scrambled into the mess to collect the valuable seeds so that they too might have a champion next year.
The event wasn't just about pumpkins though. They held a huge show and shine for classic cars. It was in downtown Smoky Lake and it filled their streets to capacity. The cars were amazing and made the trip even better. On the way back we made a point of stopping at a couple of old seldom used or abandoned Orthodox churches for the photo opportunities and some geocaching. The architecture of these 100 year old structures is simply amazing. Who would have thought that Smoky Lake is such a happening place? The town of 1,000 people swelled by thousands during this event. It is not something I would want to do every year, but I’m glad we went this time.
Sep 22, 2012 by: G & E
Last weekend we took the tent trailer out for it's last trip of the season. We decided to go to a campground where we've never been before and never heard about from anybody else. Cross Lake Provincial Park fit our needs perfectly. We drove there with no idea as to what we should expect.
We were richly rewarded for our efforts. Cross Lake is a wonderful park 1.5 hours north of Edmonton. The lake is small and has a 12km speed limit so if you plan to go water skiing with your jet boat, this is not the place. However if you want to go fishing or canoeing, you'll love it here.
During the day we drove further north for some geocaching. That is how we found the old wreck rusting away on a farmer's field. We also found the old single room school house that looks like it was just closed a few years ago. The inside is clearly that of a school. An old church in much worse condition was also on our list of discoveries. We nearly missed it on a account of all the trees on the road side of the church. Fortunately we slowed down when we saw the old cemetery as that usually means an abandoned church building is in the area. There is so much to see and do and photograph in the boreal forest north of Edmonton.
We'll return to Cross Lake, probably in the spring.
Sep 13, 2012 by: G & E
I had the pleasure of joining a group of local Edmonton photographers on an Edmonton Photowalk earlier in September. It was organized through Google + and led by Edmontonian David Waddington. This was not an intense learn what you can while walking with other photographers type of session. It was a relaxed gathering of amateur photographers to enjoy what is known as the golden hour. The golden hour refers to the lighting near sunset (and sunrise but that is another story) where the images have a wonderful soft light that makes the ordinary into the extraordinary. I have a sample of the resulting images here, as well as in my albums on Google +. I hope you enjoy them. They were all taking within a short walk in the river valley near the Walterdale bridge.
Aug 17, 2012 by: G & E
When we were travelling back to home from our Oregon vacation, we naturally needed to pass through Washington State. Our goal was to spend as much time in Oregon as possible so we had no specific plans for Washington except for one. We planned to do the tunnel. The tunnel was built in 1912 for an electric train to whisk skiers from Seattle to a nearby ski resort. It remained functional until shortly after WW II when the ski lodge burned down and the automobile made travel by train less desirable for many. One of the two tunnels is permanently sealed shut but the other side is open to the public as a walk or bike route. It is called the Iron Horse Trail.
The tunnel has no lights so it is nearly completely dark inside. Flashlights must be carried if walking it and must be on at all times if biking it. We usually just turned ours on when we sensed that the walls were getting closer. The tunnel is just short of 4 km each way. It sounds like a long way but it is flat and level. There are no obstacles to avoid other than the side walls and other people approaching. Now imagine this. Outside it is a very hot and humid day. As you approach the tunnel from the west side as we did you are greeted with a blast of cold dry air. It is like you just stepped inside a walk in refrigerator. You probably should bring a light jacket with you. It is silent in the tunnel other than your own voices and perhaps those of others coming from the other end. At times it can be busy but usually you feel alone. There were lots of families doing the tunnel with kids of all ages (no baby carriages as it might be a little cold for infants). We felt perfectly safe inside the tunnel. You certainly can't get lost.
After reaching the far side we stopped for snacks and quickly warmed up in the hot sun. The return trip felt a lot shorter. In no time (actually about one hour) we were back at the west side and could continue our trek to the trail leading to the parking area. If you start from the east side you can park right up next to the tunnel and make your trip that much shorter. You will want to park at the east entrance if you are planning to cycle through the tunnel. I hope to do it again sometime but hopefully with a bike so I can explore more of the Iron Horse Trail. It was obviously very popular with the locals. If you feel slightly adventurous and want to treat your family to an experience that no amusement park can match, bring them to the tunnel. If you see a little light approaching, say "hi" as it may very well be me.
Related Galleries: Oregon Coast and Columbia Valley
Aug 14, 2012 by: G & E
When we travelled down the Oregon coast we noticed a number of fine classic old cars. These were not just being returned home from a local car show; they were, or certainly appeared to be, the owner's regular transportation, well at least those that were still in driving condition. In some cases the images are less than ideal because of the conditions I was faced with. My favourite is the old Studebaker, Champion! Now that is a classic that you rarely see on any street. Unfortunately the car, which is now an ornament for the owner's acreage front yard, was discovered during the hottest part of the day. Half the car was in the blazing sun and the other half in the cool shade of the trees. The car would look so much better if I discovered it on a cloudy day, although not even a cloudy day would have fixed the tail light.
I was also surprised to discover an old police car with the single dome roof top light. Those of you who are old enough to remember black and white TV will remember when never versions of the single dome light were "normal". It makes you feel like you're part of a scene for the "Dukes of Hazzard".
We've probably all heard that the salty winds from the ocean make cars rust away faster than they do in the prairies. I didn't see any evidence of that. It seems that the fine people of Oregon love their cars and especially old classics. As a side note we also noticed the number of Subaru's in Oregon and Washington was much higher than in Canada. The difference was too large not to notice. Everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, we parked there was at least one Subaru nearby. Often I would return to our vehicle and see three or more Subaru's surrounding it. As soon as we crossed the border into BC and then Alberta we made an effort to spot any Subaru models. They were so few and far between that we eventually lost interest in even trying to spot them. I wonder why there are so many Subaru's down there and so few by comparison up here?
Aug 8, 2012 by: G & E
We have just returned from our best vacation ever! Not the most exotic, most luxurious, cheapest or most expensive. Just the best. We travelled primarily to Oregon, with a bit of northern California thrown in for the Redwoods and a bit of Washington thrown in for some unique adventures. We all agree that there were two highlights and below is one of them. Picture this; we were driving down an unmarked old single lane road that was getting more and more like a trail. Eventually it became sand which was fun once I put the Explorer into 4 wheel drive. The sand became deeper and progress slowed to the point that a successful return was not certain. A regular truck behind us had already turned back. I backed it up and parked it on more solid ground and we proceeded by foot. We knew the ocean was up ahead but still could not really see it. Then we walked through this path to the view below. There is such a difference between protected ocean like you have in parts of Washington or the lower BC mainland and the real ocean that doesn't stop until you reach Russia or Japan! That is what we saw and there was nobody else out us on this beach (except a truck far off in the distance). The fog mixed with the ocean so that you couldn't tell where the sky ended and the sea began. This was the moment that our vacation began!
Related Galleries: Oregon Coast and Columbia Valley
Jun 30, 2012 by: G & E
Jun 7, 2012 by: G & E
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