Monday, November 20, 2017


My blog just hit 100,000 pageviews this evening.  This is thanks to a recent flurry of interest from Poland.  I have not been tracking my own views, so this is just others tuning in to check on my meaningless ramblings, hockey scores, travelogues and photographs.  Thanks to everyone for taking an interest.  Hopefully there is continued interest so that I will feel obliged to carry on.  I'm pleased to have reached this milestone, and hope to continue.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Streak Ends

The losing streak finally came to an end on Saturday afternoon.  The Renegades faced off against Pentastar.  They only had 10 players while we had 14.  It was a close game, tied 3-3 at the end of the second.  We managed to outplay them in the third period, and hung on for a hard fought 6-4 victory.  The official shot count was 27-21 for us but it seemed like there were a lot more shots than that.  Nice to finally put our losing skid to and end and hopefully start a winning streak.  Maybe all the superstition payed off so I can't change anything moving forward.  Our next game is at the old Northlands Coliseum.  The Oilers played here for many years but with the opening of the new Rogers Place Arena in downtown Edmonton last year, this rink now sits largely unused.  Our beer league has been playing a bunch of games there but the City has now decided to close it at then end of 2017, and is considering demolition.  This will be our last game here....

Another Trip to Nordegg

Last weekend Hailey and I took a drive out to Nordegg.  We met with our mechanical contractor to go over some of the work that he will be doing for us.  We also wanted to see what had taken place with respect to cottage construction over the past couple of weeks.  Unfortunately, almost nothing has changed.  The cottage is pretty much the way it was a month ago.  The overhead door has been installed on the garage, and the metal roof panels have been delivered to site.  I understand that roofing is supposed to be installed this coming week.
After meeting with our mechanical guy Hailey and I went for lunch at the restaurant in town.  Then we took a drive to explore.  There was not a lot of snow in the area and for that reason we didn't bother to bring the new snowmobile.  We took a drive up to Abraham Lake to see if the ice was starting to form.  There was no ice yet and the water was completely open.  I understand that a little ice exists at the upper end of the lake, but we never made it that far to check it out.  True to it's name it was extremely windy up at Windy Point.  So much so that you had to hold onto the truck door with two hands when you opened it to get out.  Seemed as though the wind might blow our teeth out.  It was warm... with the temperature up around +7C, but the wind made it impossible to do anything.  Hailey shot this video clip with her phone, from the window of the truck.  The wind gusts sweeping around the point were creating cool patterns on the open water.

We took a drive up the side road to Crescent Falls.  The road was closed for the season at the top of the big hill and we had to walk the last couple hundred yards.  Water was still roaring over the falls but it was concealed by a large ice formation that had accumulated.  We spent a little time here and wandered around a bit, taking a few snap shots.
By this time it was getting to be mid-afternoon and with the short days at this time of year we hit the road for home.  

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Losing Streak

My Renegades Hockey Team is on a seven game losing streak.  Something has to break... the streak has to come to an end.  We have a game this afternoon and I'm just about to start packing up my gear.  I'm doing everything I can think of to try and break the bad luck.  I washed my gear... for the first time in over a season.  I always thought it was bad luck to wash my gear... but the luck can't get any worse.  Besides... the gear was getting pretty crunchy and unbearable.  I bought a new stick.  I sharpened my skates.  I bought new hockey socks.  We have a back up goaltender playing today.  Hopefully this is the first game of a winning streak.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Definition of Traditional Photography

I recently received an e-mail from Bostick and Sullivan.  They are based in Santa Fe, New Mexico and supply materials to the photographic alternative process community.  I have purchased chemistry and paper from them for Ziatype, Cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown processes on several occasions.  This particular message promoted an organization called Luminaria, who were trying to set up some studio and darkroom space in Salt Lake City.  They have a Kickstarter campaign underway trying to raise some funds.  I will never be able to travel all the way to Utah to take advantage of their facility so I chose not to support them at this time.  I've included links to Bostick and Sullivan, and to the Luminaria project, for anyone that might be interested.  Mostly I was really moved by the description of traditional photography that was included in the Luminaria package...

We believe photography is more than images on screens.  Photography is a craft that transforms intangible rays of light into monuments of self expression and artifacts that we can hold in our hands, pass down to our kids, and share with our best friends.

This really sums up the way that I feel about traditional film based photography and hopefully helps to explain why I pack around big cameras, and go to the effort to expose and process my film.  There is just something more to it.  It is not a fleeting image on a monitor but something more...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Finished with 2015

On the weekend I finished processing the last of my 4" x 5" negatives that were exposed in 2015.  The year included a total of 439 shots.  The last couple batches were some of the more obscure films that are either new to me, or that I don't shoot very often.  I always accumulate this exposed film until I have enough sheets to justify running a larger batch, and making better use of the chemistry.  The last few batches of the 2015 year were FP4+ given N+1 development in HC-110, Rollei RPX-25 given Normal development in Rodinal, and the last one J&C Classic 200 given N+1 in HC-110.  The very last image that was processed was a shot of the Maligne River in Jasper, taken on the 2015 Fall Photo Weekend with the Monochrome Guild.  A scan of that image is included below, as well as one taken just hours prior, up along the Pyramid Lake Road.  I am now continuing with processing my negatives from 2016 and 2017.  I exposed over 500 sheets in 2016, and have shot a little over 400 so far in 2017.  Many of those have already been processed, but there still quite a few remaining.  It will likely be at least several more months before I complete the next year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Game Camera

Hailey and I took a drive out to Nordegg last Sunday.  While we were out there I changed the memory card in my game camera.  There were a few interesting shots this time around, in addition to the usual coming and going of all the construction trades.  The first shot is an image of my ATV buried in snow after the big dump on the last day of summer.  The rest are of various visitors that wandered by during the past month or so...  Interesting that we had so much snow in late September, then it all disappeared, and more recently it has returned.

Friday, November 10, 2017


I bought a new snowmobile this fall.  I got a good deal on last year's model [2017] Ski-Doo Tundra Sport.  Just picked it up today.  I have the old 1979 Yamaha Enticer that I have mostly restored and put back together.  Just have to finish that up by putting a new set of skiis on it, and giving it a bit of a tune up.  Now that we have two machines we will be able to go riding up in the mountains around our place at Nordegg.  Looking forward to getting out there with the sleds...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Maligne Moose

On Sunday November 5th, the last day of the 2017 Fall Photo Weekend, we were stopped on the side of the road, beside the Maligne River, just downstream from Maligne Lake.  I had my view camera set up on the tripod and was telling my friend Steve a story about the only large format wildlife shot I had ever taken.  In hindsight that wasn't quite true because I have one other one... of some bison in Elk Island National Park.  But, that story is for another day.  I told Steve about how I had my camera set up in this very spot.  I had just finished taking a couple of photographs of the Maligne River back on that day fifteen years prior.  My camera was still set up on the tripod when my friend Jon announced that he had to take a leak.  He crashed his way into the bush beside the road.  As he did so, he startled a couple of moose, who walked out into the river and stopped beside the big boulder I had been photographing.  With my camera still set up I was able to capture a shot of the two moose.  I looked up this old negative in my archive and found it.  It is from 2002 and was taken with my old Sinar F1 camera and a Nikkor 210mm lens, on Ilford Delta 100 film, developed in HC-110.  Surprisingly it was taken on November 24th of that year... almost a full three weeks later in the season than this year.  

As I was telling Steve this story, I glanced up to take a look at the river.  To my surprise, two moose had wandered out into the scene.  I wasn't quite ready with my camera this time around, but the two moose were pretty patient and I managed to finish setting it up and was able to expose a couple of sheets of film.  That film is not yet processed, but when I get to it I will post a scan of the resulting negative.  I did manage to get a couple of digital snapshots, and those are included below...

Winter Large Format Photography

Gabor took this shot of me, trying to work some magic with my Ebony view camera.  It remains to be seen whether or not the resulting negative lives up to the hype.  This was up at Medicine Lake on the third day of the Fall Photo Weekend.  Just "stylin" in my Elmer Fudd hat.  Looks like I should be hunting wabbits... but mostly I was just trying to keep warm.  Can't operate the knobs and controls of the view camera with gloves on so mostly it was my fingers that suffered over the weekend.  The rest of me was well dressed and pretty comfortable despite temperatures in the -10C to -20C range....

Fall Photo Weekend 2017 - Day 3

On Sunday morning daylight savings time came to an end so we rolled our clocks back and got an extra hour of sleep.  We repeated the same drill as Saturday, and had the free continental breakfast at the hotel.  Then we packed up all of our gear and checked out.
After leaving the hotel we decided to take a drive back up the Maligne Lake Road.  We drove all the way up, past Medicine Lake, to Maligne Lake.  Then we turned around and slowly made our way back down the valley.  We stopped at a number of places along the way to make photographs.  Mostly this was in two or three different spots along the river as we visually explored the ice formations.  By early afternoon we wrapped things up and began the drive back home to the city.  We made one final stop out at the dunes along Jasper Lake.  The sand was mostly covered with a thin layer of snow, but there were some interesting snowdrifts along the shore of the lake.  There were some heavy clouds forming in the west and the light coming through them, highlighting the drift patterns, made for some interesting shots.
It was about 3:30 when we finally finished up here and we reluctantly packed our stuff into the truck, changed out of our heavy winter clothes, and hit the road for home.  About five hours later we rolled up in front of my house.  We sorted out all the gear from my truck and Steve and Nigel, who had been riding with me, headed off to their homes.  I dragged all my stuff into the house, put it away, and closed the chapter on this years expedition.
The trip was a lot of fun, despite the less than ideal weather conditions.  I really enjoyed being out with all the guys and look forward to doing it all over again next year.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall Photo Weekend 2017 - Day 2

We all got up around 8:00AM on Saturday morning.  There wasn't much point getting up any earlier than that as it just doesn't get light, or warm up much, until a little later in the morning.  The restaurant in the hotel was closed for renovations but they had a free continental breakfast that we all enjoyed.  After breakfast we headed out.  We decided to go and check out some of the ice formations along the creeks and rivers on the Marmot Road [Highway 93A].  Our first stop was at Portal Creek and the thermometer in the truck read -19C when we arrived.  Fortunately there was very little wind.  But the site was sheltered and in the shade, and it was very humid down by the water.  It was a pretty chilling experience to photograph there but this time we were dressed for it, and made the best of it.  I did three setups with my view camera and hope that I captured something good on film.
Later we moved a short distance up the road to the Astoria River.  Conditions were similar here but it had warmed up a degree or two, and the sun was coming out a little.  This is the spot where I found all the cat tracks down along the river, as per the previous blog post.  This river had a little greater water volume and velocity as compared to the creek and the ice formations were a little different.  We photographed here for a while and I managed three or four more set ups with the view camera.
By the time we finished up here it was early afternoon.  We decided to move on and headed up the Maligne Road to Medicine Lake.  The sun broke out a bit and the light was quite nice as we photographed in the snow covered boulders of Medicine Lake.  After a couple of setups here, we all moved down the valley and explored the lower reaches of the Maligne River, below Maligne Canyon.  By this time it was getting to be mid afternoon, and the light was falling off quickly.  We called it a day and headed back to our hotel.  After unpacking our gear and warming up for a while we ended up watching part of the Edmonton Eskimos football game on TV.  Once it became clear that the Eskimos would defeat the Saskatchewan Roughriders, we decided to walk into town for dinner.  We ended up at the Downstream Pub and had a great meal.  Most of the guys had burgers, I had a steak and salad, and Mark tried the Elk sirloin.  After dinner we walked back to the hotel and spent the evening visiting and having a few drinks.  I for one was pretty exhausted from all the cold fresh air and the exertion of packing around camera gear.  I think the others all felt about the same.  Gabor had turned in earlier than the rest of us and we all made it a relatively early evening.
I always really enjoy these fall weekends out with my friends.  The experience of being out in the mountains in the off-season is spectacular and the throngs of tourists, so prevalent in the summer, do not exist.  And the camaraderie of watching what other people photograph and how they compose, as well as the visiting after the days shooting is done, is very enjoyable and something that I look forward to every year.  This year was no exception and it was great for the six of us to get out together.  Gabor and Nigel were out for the first time with the group and they really fit in well.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fall Photo Weekend 2017 - Day 1

This past Friday, the gang from the Monochrome Guild set out for our annual Fall Photo Weekend.  This was the 17th annual trip, and I've been on every one of them...  mostly because I've organised them all, and make sure that it always fits my schedule.  This time around, like most years in the past, we headed out to Jasper National Park.  There would be six members of the Guild taking part this time around... Steve, Arda, Nigel, Gabor, Mark and myself.  We rented two suites at the Jasper Inn and it made for a very economical weekend when the cost was split six ways.
Nigel and Steve met me at my place on Friday morning at 7:30AM.  We loaded all of our gear into my truck and hit the road.  The others would be heading out a little later, and meeting up with us in Jasper.  We ran into some rush hour traffic, including a collision on the overpass at Whitemud Drive near my house.  This slowed us down a little and it took nearly 45 minutes for us to get out of the city.  By the time we got out to Parkland County, traffic had thinned considerably and the drive was easy.  It was cold, and recent snow had accumulated.  Amounts varied by area and in some places there was about 8 inches.  The highway itself was mostly snow free, but in some areas the passing lane was partly snow covered.  Once we got into the park the snow accumulation was less and in the Athabasca Valley near the townsite there was almost none.
We made a brief stop out near Talbot Lake and then decided to spend the day scouting around.  We took a drive up the Maligne Road as far as Medicine Lake.  We made a stop along the Maligne River and also wandered around a little at Medicine Lake.  We were dressed in lighter clothes for the drive and none of us really felt up to getting out and hiking.  So we continued driving around and made it an afternoon of scouting locations for the serious shooting to come.  
Next we took a drive up Highway 93A.  Portal Creek and the Astoria River were showing some great ice formations and we made plans to return the next day when we were better dressed for the weather.  The ski hill at Marmot Basin was not yet open for the season.  The Edith Cavell Road was closed, as was Highway 93A beyond the Whirlpool River.  I pulled the big view camera out of the truck and did a couple of setups at the Whirlpool.  
After that we packed up and took a drive up the Pyramid Lake Road.  Once again the big camera came out to do a shot of the aspens.  The daytime high never got up above -10C.  There was a mix of sun and cloud during the day.  In sheltered areas it was OK to be out but when the breeze picked up a little, it quickly became very cold.  The breeze picked up while we were exploring the aspens on Pyramid Lake Road.  It is nearly impossible to operate a view camera with gloves or mittens on and my bare fingers quickly became numb and frozen trying to operate the metal controls of the camera.  This was a rather painful experience that lingered with me for some time afterwards as the heater in the truck thawed out my fingertips that had become hard and crisp in the cold.
By this time is was around 4:00PM so we headed over to the hotel and checked in.  We off loaded all of our gear and relaxed with a couple of beers.  A short time later Arda and Gabor arrived and checked in as well.  Later that evening we walked into town and went to a local restaurant for dinner.  Later still we retired back to our rooms and visited until late in the evening.  We shared some Japanese whiskey, some fine Scotch, and some German pear brandy.  Around 10:00 Mark arrived and checked in with us.  We eventually turned in with expectations of getting out in the morning to return to some of the locations we had scouted on this day.