Tuesday, January 30, 2018

All In The Wild...

 ...was the theme for the 2018 International Ice Carving Competition in Lake Louise.
And photography played quite the role this time as the ten teams could choose their favorite photograph from the many that have been taken over the years capturing the beauty of the Banff National Park. They then had exactly 34 hours to create their personal masterpiece.

Please click on the images to enlarge them, it's worth it!

As every year, it blows my mind how detailed and creative these ice carvings are.
This year though, almost a week went by after the competition finished that I had a chance to visit Lake Louise. Wind and weather, or better, snow and weather, had taken their toll. One of the sculptures had already disappeared, others showed quite some damage.

This piece of art I will call "Aurora" as it had no official title, but the inspiring photo shows the aurora. On second thought, I might have called it "Le Petit Prince" or "B 612"!

Beautifully executed and painstakingly hard to photograph...

This years Ice Sculpture Competition was at the same time the Canada Cup of Ice Carving which is hosted by a different site each year. The creators of "Aurora", Team Samuel and Michal from France/Poland, won the Cup last year in Ottawa.

Another favorite of mine was the "Eskimo Chieftain" by Team Ice Kingdom from China.

Ever wondered why it is called the blue hour? The sun had long set, but the light was still lingering as snow was falling in steady fine flakes.

With total darkness though and the proper illumination the sculpture really shows its full splendor.

"Aurora" was my favorite sculpture of all, but this one comes in as a close second.
Horse, of course....for those of you who know me.

Created by the Baisas Brothers from the Philippines "Catch me if you can" won a very deserved 3rd place this year.

Isn't that detail just amazing? 

Team Sakha from Russia carved my favorite sculpture of last years competition, "The Guardian". This year they won 2nd place and the People's Choice Award for their "Fun" carving.

To give a better appreciation for the sculpture I will include the sketch here.

Fun indeed!

Last but not least, the winner of this years competition:
"Moonlight Meeting" by Team US EH!!, from, you guessed it, the US and Canada.

Wildly stunning!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Black & White Is The New Color

Since the beginning of photography in the early 1800s, photographers were eager to be able to photograph in color. Since 1935 color photography became more and more main stream.

Starting with high saturation slide films like the Fujichrome Velvia and others, color photography took on a new dimension. Photos were as colorful as nature itself...sometimes even more so. In the era of Photoshop color-reality seems to be rather an interpretation of the artist than pure documentation.
I love color and I love Photoshop, but lately I feel the urge to take a step back and focus more on other elements that make a good photo.
Composition, texture, detail, depth of field to name a few.
Will I be able to create as good and impressive photos if I forgo color?

With this question in mind I promised myself to post at least one blog per month in 2018 that is dedicated to Black & White photography.

As you can see, I allow myself a splash of color here and there...

These images were taken at a nearby vacant ranch. I feel very fortunate to have obtained the permission to wander there and to take images.

The ranch is stunning, but my love goes to this absolute amazing former dairy barn.

 A log barn with incredible charm!

Another one of my favorite items on the ranch...

What do you think? Comments here or on facebook are appreciated!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays!

The Holiday Train came to town!

Since 1999 the annual CP Holiday Train is traveling through Canada and parts of the US during the holiday time to raise awareness and money for local foodbanks.

This year, for the first time, I caught it.

Not really knowing what to expect I waited anxiously, standing on the Fort Steele bridge, for the train to come through.
And stood there, and stood there.....and stood there. In the distance I saw colorful lights reflecting in the low clouds...but still no train. Another holiday train hunter arrived, Randy form Delaware, he had followed the train since Lethbridge and was positive the train was to arrive soon. Well, it was another 20 min, by that time I had taken out my camera battery to avoid it draining completely from the cold and my fingers were ice cold.
But then the train finally made it

and it was well worth the wait!

My location had not been optimal, but as soon as the train had passed through Fort Steele, I hopped back in the car, loving the seat warmers once again, and headed for Cranbrook, where the train was to stop for a while.

Finding a parking spot in Cranbrook was quite the challenge, as lot's and lot's of people, despite the late hour, came to watch the train and Alan Doyle performing.

Here I had time to look at the train a bit closer and was amazed how lovingly and detail oriented the train cars were decorated.

"A typical Holiday Train event goes something like this: the train arrives and pulls to a safe stop in front of the crowd. The stage door lowers and the band opens with its first song. After that, a brief presentation takes place with local food bank officials and other dignitaries. Once complete, the band resumes performing a mix of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs.  The whole event lasts about 30 minutes. Once the band plays its farewell song, the stage door closes, and the train heads off to the next stop." (1)

"As part of Canada 150, CP and the Canada 150 Federal Secretariat partnered to promote the Holiday Train and the conclusion of the sesquicentennial celebrations."   (2) This car lit up in different sections, so I took a long exposure to show it in it's whole glory.

By now the​ "19th annual Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train has completed another successful tour across North America, raising more than just spirits this holiday season. While final numbers are still being calculated, more than C$1.5 million and 300,000 pounds of food have been raised for local food banks and food shelves. 
The Holiday Train has now raised more than $14.5 million and 4.3 million pounds of food since its inaugural journey back in 1999."
This was a short but sweet holiday event and I will make sure to look out for the 2018 schedule and plan my shooting locations a bit better.

While searching for a parking spot I noticed that Cranbrook downtown was decked out for the holidays too, with some unique lights!

An ice climber on the clock tower

the Christmas tree at the end of Baker Street

some intense decoration at "Candy Cane Lane"

and my favorite, the ski jumper at the Rotary Park

With this I wish all of you  

Merry Christmas, 
Happy Holidays 
and a wonderful 2018!

(2) CP News 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fjällräven Polar 2018

What is Fjällräven Polar?

300km of Arctic wilderness.
More than 100 highly skilled sled dogs with a group of ordinary people voted in by you.
And I would like to be one of them!

Why would I want to do something as crazy as that? 
Well....for one it would be a once in a lifetime adventure. And by experiencing and sharing this polar journey I want to inspire women, all women – but especially my generation – to DREAM BIG.
To go outside and experience and appreciate nature and adventure
It’s a shout out to all of you out there – mothers, grandmothers, business-women, wives, entrepreneurs – who think they’re too old, not fit or brave enough.
With the right equipment, the right knowledge and a big dose of passion - WE CAN DO IT!

In order to apply I had to submit a video....not my strongest point but with the help of friends and family, especially Mika who put it all together, we made it happen....see for yourself:

Ready to vote? Just click on the vote button and it will lead you directly to my application

The pros of voting:
  • - once you voted you are eligible to win your favorite Fjällräven item
  • - you will help my dream come true 
  • - you will be able to share my application and help me even more!

The cons of voting:
  • - none
  • - none
  • - you have to have a facebook account....if you don't have one you could ask a friend or family member to vote...                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Thank you!!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Fabulous Fall Hikes

Early fall is an absolutely amazing time here in the Canadian Rockies. The mosquitoes have gone, as have most of the tourists; the temperatures are not sweltering hot anymore but range from freezing at night to a balmy warm, perfect hiking temperature during the day.
But best of all are the colors!!!
In early fall the colors just explode...and whenever I can find a willing hiking companion, I'm
'gone hiking'.

Here a few of my favorites:

Bugaboo National Park is always a gorgeous hike , but the fall colors just give it that extra touch.

The glacier and spire up close
Looking through fireweed
Although I did the hike this summer, I took these images last fall while hiking with friends from Germany and Tomi.

Path through the larches
Konrad Kain Hut

When my friend Monika arrived for her this years journey to the Canadian Rockies we just lucked out on the weather and the fall colors...as hot and dry as the summer might have been, this fall was unprecedented in regards to color!

We headed up to Banff National Park for the larches and were not disappointed.
Coming from the Plain of the Six Glaciers we descended to Lake Agnes via the Big Honeycomb.
What a view...

On the short hike down from Lake Agnes to Lake Louise you get a peek of the glacial moraine leading into Lake Louise.

Not yet completely discouraged by the totally insane amount of tourists this year in the park, we headed out to hike Larch Valley the following day.
Well, if we had known what to expect just to get there, we might have decided otherwise....
Since the parking lot at Moraine Lake, where the trail head for Larch Valley is located, only holds about 120 cars, the park administration closed it for anyone coming after 7 am. One has to park at the Lake Louise overflow parking lot and then take a (school)bus up to Moraine Lake. The bus runs every 15 min, so that alone didn't sound too bad. BUT what we hadn't counted on was that we had to stand in line for 45 min to get on the bus....well, I had always wanted to ride a school bus.

Once we were there though and tried our best to ignore the hundreds of other hikers, we were rewarded by a beautiful hike, stunning views and unbelievable fall colors.

View from Sentinel Pass

After all, it was worth braving the masses!

Please feel free to click on the images for a bigger view

After this near traumatic tourist overload experience Monika and I craved for a more serene, quiet hike. Following a recommendation from Janice Strong, we checked out Brewer Creek the following week; a beautiful hike in the Purcell Mountains.

Parts of the trail were already snow covered, but this just added to the beauty!

After the fist incline, a wide meadow opens and a 360 view of the area rewards the hiker.

One more incline and one reaches a plateau with three tarns, about 1km from each other.

Narrow 'yellow' trails lead from tarn to tarn.

Can it get any more picturesque?

And, except for two other hikers, nobody else on the trails! For next fall I will go with what Goethe recommended:

Warum in die Ferne schweifen, wenn das Gute liegt so nah!