In a few days my youngest daughter goes off to college and the next phase begins for me. Like a river that don't know where it's going (with acknowledgement to Bruce for the lyrics), parenthood is a ride with many unforeseen twists and turns, and it leaves you cold, wet, gasping for air and simultaneously wanting it to stop and wanting it to go on forever. Like the river, I don't think it ever really does stop, it just changes. I'm here for the changes, and any time you kids need an extra paddler or someone to bail (just metaphorically I hope), I'll be there.
Life's been a bit rocky these last 6 months, so I've been noticeably absent from Flickr. Nothing too serious, and I've everything to be grateful for, and no hard setbacks I can blame. Just sometimes the water gets rough and there's nothing for it but to put your head down and paddle like hell. Though I've tried to catch up here and there, my apologies to all my old Flickr friends whose great posts I've missed.
But this here is no river, 'tis the North Atlantic Ocean, the coast of Nova Scotia to be specific. After driving 1200 miles and dropping my oldest daughter off in Halifax NS to finish up her last year of College (we hope!), I got up early in the morning to visit the fantastic rocky beach at Lawrencetown Beach Provincial Park not far east of Halifax. It was one of those days where I gave myself what I thought was a decent buffer before sunrise and then the sky started blowing up almost 40 minutes before actual sunrise, I thought for sure I'd miss it. Thankfully it was one of those delightful sunrises that just keep on going, shifting from dark orange to pinks and yellows. Didn't have much time to scout so I just set the tripod down by the nicest collection of rocks I could find near the entrance and started shooting, being mindful not to get swamped by an errant wave. Escaped with only minor soaker and the equipment still dry, so a successful outing.
This was the first landscape shooting I'd done in several months and now hopefully my inertia is broken and I can hit up Flickr more regularly.
Edit: anyone who's followed me for a while knows that Nova Scotia is one of my favorite places on earth, in no small part because the people are wonderful (mostly) and very friendly. But the Maritimes approach to the pandemic was to try to keep out non-residents as much as possible, using heavy restrictions to prevent the import of Covid cases from outside. This lead to this wonderful bit by the comedy show "This Hour Has 22 Minutes":
Thankfully no one told me to Frig Off this time around. Hopefully things are able to return to their normal welcoming ways in the near future.
Tags: sunrise Nova Scotia Atlantic Ocean Lawrencetown Beach Halifax rocks rocky sky waves sky matthews photography Pentax K-1 Pentax 15-30mm misty Frig Off
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This is probably my favorite photo (of my own making) of 2020. The intense winds of Abraham Lake Alberta are renowned for scouring the snow off the lake revealing amazing patterns of methane bubbles, but they also create wild ice pile ups on the shore. At first glance it just looks like a jumbled mess, but when you get down in it, like on your belly hiding from the wind, these piles of ice reveal some interesting forms, including these crazy bits of snow covered by wind shaped ice. They looked to me almost like petroglyphs carved in the snow and preserved under the ice. Let's call them "Glacioglyphs". And then there is the horse's head poking through on the right. I loved that bit. A magnificent place that fired my imagination almost like no other. Sort of a Canadian version of the sandstone slot canyons.
I have an amusing story to relate, which should serve as yet another cautionary tale for anyone shooting in similar environments. First of all, the ice is incredibly smooth, and the wind here truly is ferocious, blowing a pretty constant 20-40mph the whole time we were there. On this morning, as I said, I was down on my belly trying to line up comps among these ice flows. Just moments after taking this picture, I removed my outer gloves and placed them on my bag for just a second, so I could adjust the camera position when a gust of wind swept through and grabbed one of the gloves, sending it sliding along the ice.
I jumped up and then watched dismayed as it rapidly slid away down the icy embankment. I was prepared to give it up when it caught on a snow ridge so I started to move towards it, a bit reluctantly since I didn't think I had much chance to retrieve it but had to give it a go. The wind then decided to have some fun with me and flung it further away just as I was about to reach down to grab it.Annoyed, I decided to run after it to see if I could grab it.
Again it snagged on a bit of snow and I hustled towards it, only for it to whip away from me as I was almost upon it. Now, I had a decision to make as it was nearly out on the open ice of the lake where surely I would have no chance. To set the stage some more, I've got heavy boots on and ice crampons slipped over the boots, and the ice on the lake is extremely smooth and slippery. I had to decide whether to really put on the chase and sprint after it before it hit the smooth lake surface, or whether to be smart and just give it up.
Of course, you know I chose the dumb route or I wouldn't be writing this. So off I go full sprinting for a good 20 seconds across the broken ice surface praying the wind would break for a second. Well, the wind did slow just enough to let me think I could catch it just as the glove slid on to the lake. I put it in to top 100 meter olympic sprint gear, getting closer, and then the glove starts picking up speed and I'm almost ready to accept the bronze medal for my efforts, when I see a small patch of snow lying ahead and realize I have one last chance. I'm fully committed to the chase now, it's do or, well you know, I probably won't die but it is sure gonna hurt like hell when I inevitably fall on my ass. It's not *quite* the stupidest thing I've ever done. But it is inexplicably stupid for a 50-something year old man to be risking broken bones, not to mention looking like a complete idiot, sprinting after a $25 glove in a wind tunnel. The glove catches, ever so briefly, on the snow patch. I am 5 meters away. I have a second or two at most. So I launch in a glorious full-body dive across the ice, sliding over that glove like it's home base in the 9th inning of game 7 of the World Series. So, there you have it. Don't put your damn clothes down for a second in this kind of environment! I was pretty damned lucky that I came away with a story and no hospital bills. I only wish there'd been a video camera catching the action.
Tags: Abraham Lake Alberta Canada wind ice snow lost glove 100 meter ice sprint sunrise sky matthews photography Pentax K-1 Pentax 15-30mm pixel shift Rocky Mountains ice sculpture horse glacioglyphs
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A photo from a short side trip to the Alabama Hills early in the year. I was nicely rewarded for a long drive from Vegas followed by an early morning excursion as the sun illuminated Mt Whitney and the Sierra Nevada rising over the crazy rock formations of the Alabama Hills. Though they look completely different, apparently these two features are part of the same geologic formation (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_Hills).
The "Space Lobster" is my interpretation of the interesting cloud formation appearing on the right side of the image, with one cloud having a particularly ribbed underside and extending a long lobster claw to the right of the image. It was just the first thing that popped in to my head as I edited this on the bigger screen. Besides, Space Lobsters just seemed totally on-brand for 2020.
Shot as a 5 shot pano sequence with Pentax K-1 and Pentax 70-200mm using Pixel Shift. This post is only 1/4 size the original.
I've already written much about the pandemic and my feelings throughout the year so I won't belabor it more here other than to say that, like many, I'm growing weary of this and looking forward to getting back towards some version of normal, and especially getting out in to the field for some more photography later in 2021.
I'm fortunate to have a good backlog of stuff to go through for posting this year when I haven't been able to shoot as much. In fact, I was absolutely gobsmacked (to use my favorite Brit term) to receive a nod in Flickr's Best of 2020: blog.flickr.net/en/2020/12/15/flickrs-top-25-photos-in-2020/
Much appreciation to Flickr/SmugMug staff and to the Flickr community for that! Was feeling kinda down on my photography for a bit this summer, so that was a nice pick-me-up.
Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season and looking forward as much as I am to flipping the clock on 2020 on New Years.
Tags: Lone Pine California United States of America cloud formation Sierra Nevada Mount Whitney Alabama Hills sunrise sky matthews photography Pentax K-1 Pentax 70-200mm Pixel Shift panorama
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It's very easy to let negative feelings from this "year of suck" overwhelm and drag me down. But this Thanksgiving has given me pause to appreciate all the great things I have to be grateful for. The greatest of which is my family, and with my oldest arriving back from her all-to-brief respite from the virus in the Maritime Bubble of Atlantic Canada, we are all back together again. As both my girls stretch their wings and prepare to fly, I feel sad for them being grounded and forced to put all their dreams on hold. But I'm also so grateful and happy to be able to spend that little bit of extra time with them, to see with fatherly pride the young women they've become.
I'm also thankful that photography has taught me to better appreciate the magical moments that life grants us. Like walking along a mountain trail on a gentle morning at that special time of year when nature unfolds her dazzling cloak of colors. I wish I'd found it sooner. I feel like I spent my twenties behind a computer screen, unaware of how incredible the outside world is, and unappreciative of how much my mind craved the soothing touch of nature. At least I figured it out eventually, and for that I am sincerely grateful.
Shot at South Mountains State Park on a brief visit with Kevin Benedict. Credit to Kevin, as usual, for this off-the-beaten-path discovery. This is Jacob Fork creek, flowing down from High Shoals falls, taken at dawn with just a hint of an early morning mist hanging in the trees. Shot as a 3 frame pano and then cropped. We scouted the area the evening before and then decided to sample a few beers at Fonta Flora Brewery, known for some very interesting and unique brews, in Morganton NC. There was some debate about the wisdom of getting up early in the morning but we managed to shake off the beer haze and get moving again.
Here’s hoping everyone had a good thanksgiving despite whatever challenges you were facing this year.
Tags: South Mountains State Park North Carolina blue ridge mountains Jacob Fork creek High Shoals Falls fall autumn mist Appalachia sky matthews photography Pentax K-1 Pentax 70-200mm pixel shift
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The magnificent scenery of Banff's Icefields Parkway looking over one of the many glacial lakes nestled between the magnificent snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I'm not sure whether that is Peyto Lake or Hector Lake in the distance. I didn't mark the location very precisely at the time so I'm just guessing from Google Maps that it might be Hector Lake [confirmed by multiple commenters that this is Hector Lake].
Taken from a snowbank on the roadside on the drive from Banff to Abraham Lake with Kevin Benedict back in better times (Feb). The Icefields Parkway is rated as one of the worlds most magnificent drives, and I have to agree. There are staggering views all over the place. As a photographer, it would be basically impossible to make this drive and *not* pull over to take photos every few miles.
This is a pano stitch of I think three shots. I decided on a monochrome treatment as there isn't much color in this landscape anyway other than the dark green of the evergreens, and the mono really brought out the atmospheric details of the clouds and the snow blowing off the mountains.
This was truly a spectacular and memorable trip and I still have quite a few photos remaining to post over time. I really can't wait to explore the area again in all its different seasonal aspects.
Tags: Icefields Parkway Alberta British Columbia Rocky Mountains snowy stormy snow-covered pines evergreen Hector Lake sky matthews photography Pentax K3ii pixel shift Pentax 24-70mm
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