All posts by Robert Dall

About Robert Dall

have been a professional web designer for 5 years. I love drinking amazing coffee and still schlep a camera around and conducts my daily errands on my trusty bike. I currently split my time between the small community of Sechelt, BC and the West Coast metropolis of Vancouver, Canada. The majority of my training and experience has come from an exhaustive list of Meetups, WordCamps, but also has a Diploma in Journalism Arts and Certificate in New Media Design & Web Development.

Definitely Not Lost In Translation

This article was originally published in October 15, 2004 on the website Some gramatical errors and typos were corrected in the version.

Definitely Not Lost In Translation

Robert Dall and Martin E. Garcia at El Tiempo Newspaper in Bogota
Robert Dall and Martin E. Garcia at El Tiempo Newspaper in Bogota

I had one special assignment this September, One I almost missed deadline for, One I barely took a photo during and one that was the closest to my heart.

Of all the places in the world to travel my first international exhibition would be Colombia and it chose me. I say that because as many great assignments happen it came out of left field, but proved to be the most rewarding trip I have taken.

Telling friends and family I asked to show my photography to Bogotá, Colombia, the usual jokes about kidnapping, drugs, and civil war came up, and to boot, I didn’t know a word of Spanish before I arrived.

As Bill Murray can a test to, I could have been lost in a society completely different in a language and custom I didn’t understand, But, I can say with a resounding furor, that my trip couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

It was almost the trip that started in disaster as I decided to use a travel agent instead of booking online and it almost put a death nail in my official opening.

I only had 23 minutes between terminals at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to catch my flight. I begged and pleaded with any Air Canada employee that I needed on that flight and how my show opening was the next day.

Running through the terminal as fast as my feet and a bag full of gear could carry me I raced from one end to the other, and panic was setting in. 511, 512, 513, 514 where is my gate. . . . “Final boarding call, paging Mr.” . . . “Dall” I almost yelled and presented my ticket.

At that moment I knew the photo gods were looking at me kindly and wanted me to have a good trip.

Building on a Hill in Bogota, Colombia
Bogota, Colombia

I awoke in Bogotá, the next morning to find myself breathless, with the beauty of the mountains behind my hotel room and with the altitude of 2, 600 meters (approximately 8,500 feet) that would take me a few days to get used to.

The opening of my show was warmly received by a collection of ex-pats and Colombians. To fully capture the attention of the audience while talking about my experience of the north, and how to live in an igloo was an event full of bliss.

Colombian people, rich and poor, enjoy the arts like no other society I have seen yet. The National University where I was displaying my work stopped teaching classes for a week just to celebrate arts and culture.

Colombia doesn’t have a huge tourist trade and few people think of it as a place to visit due to the stereotypes mentioned above. It is still a dangerous place but I also had many people who helped me out, whether it was embassy staff, friends from the University or the girl who gave me a private tour at the Botero Museum to help get me home in one piece.

The welcoming nature of most of the people I met was amazing, many were surprised that I was chosen to come to their country to put on my first international show.

Most Colombian people will bend over backwards to show you their country is much more than drugs and civil war and regardless of whether I was walking around town as just another foreigner or as a visiting international artist, the people were just as friendly.

Robert Dall and the students of
Robert Dall with students from the Semillas School outside his photography show at the University of Colombia

As I was touring the University with the co-coordinator of my show Diane Beltran I ran into a group of 40 children who were touring the museum. I stopped and gave them a tour full of actions and with the help of my friends at the museum who was translating.

Seeing those captive children asking so many questions, like what does snow taste like? I really knew why I came down. It wasn’t for me, nor to showcase Canada, but to captive people young and old, and to reach out to another and see that even without language you really can communicate without saying anything at all.

My second week was no less entertaining, I spend Monday and Tuesday at El Tiempo, Colombia’s National Newspaper, I heard rumours of Canon’s 1DS Mark II, but never did I think while in South America would I see one of Canon’s new line so shortly after its release in Photokina.

Canon Latin American was there showcasing their product to the Canadian-born Photo Editor Richard Emblin (and Black Star photographer) and his staff of a dozen locally based photographers who still use those black-lensed cameras.

The next day I was invited out by one of their photographers Martin E. Garcia. Where we travelled to La Vega, one hour south of Bogotá, to an ecological park and operating fish farm. We were treated to a trout even if it was moving day at the operator’s home. El Tiempo has some great photographers, they have a real passion for capturing the image and they are able to get into and out of some of the more conflict-riddled regions of the country with amazing ability. I hope Martin will join in my opinion he would be a welcomed addition.

I can also say that to all you Canucks out there we are well served by our Embassy staff and Foreign Affairs Canada who work long hours showcasing our country aboard and being more than helpful to this Canadian photographer.

If it wasn’t for this show would have also been a lot harder, the private galleries, made the construction of the show so easy for the likes of me. It made the visual communication with organizers half a world away simple. The message boards were full of advice about the city etc. But has been more than a place to store some images and get some quick information. I feel it has helped refine my style and made me search more for that one image. I truly couldn’t have done the show without this website.

I’d like to return to Colombia, with Spanish, and do a lot more photography with local NGOs there. It was great to see an amazingly diverse and culturally rich society. I also had a social network of enough friends and other photographers that my trip was never lost in translation.

This article was originally published in October 15, 2004 on the website Some gramatical errors and typos were corrected in the version.

Men with Brooms: Manitoban’s love their curling

This article was originally published in March 3, 2003 on the website

Men with Brooms: Manitoban’s love their curling

Dave Hamblin, current World Junior Champion yells directions down the ice while the other team looks on.
Dave Hamblin, current World Junior Champion yells directions down the ice while the other team looks on.
Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

What involves lots of moving around, sweating and yelling hard at the top of your lungs?

Get your mind out of the gutter I was referring to curling . . . Just as rural Texans love their football, Manitoban’s love their curling.

The recent Safeway Select Manitoba Curling Championships were in my fair city last month. They took over the twin pad arena that’s home to our AAA hockey team. In one arena they converted the NHL sized hockey rink into 5 sheets of curling ice made by one of the best ice makers in North America, Hans Wuthrich. The host committee then converted the other rink in a bar of equal size.

Yes, a bar, which is one, reason I like the sport so much, The social side of curling is equally as large as the competition itself. The organizers rarely hold the championship in a major centre because the competition gets lost with in the city. They take it to small town support the local economy and take over the town for the week.

Curling is so beloved because the prairies are cold and ruthless in the winters; the farmers and rural folk need something to do through the cold.

During this years five days curling event it was -25C to -30C outside and yet some one had the bright idea for all 300 staff and volunteers to wear the sportsshooter famed Hawaiian T-shits and lays. They also never dropped a smile from there over worked faces.

Brent Scales of Swan River, yells down the ice. Photo by Robert Dall/Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic

The curling lingo creates barely legible cutlines that can read. “Skip James Kirkness throwing the hammer drew the button and won the end” Why are you using hammers? What are buttons doing on the ice? And why is everyone called Skip?

Curling is about as confusing to understand as cricket, two extremely simple games completely confused by people trying to cover them.

Yet, this is a polite sport where everyone is yelling at each other. When you not yelling your leaning on your broom used for sweeping and everyone sweeps except for the skip who yells and leans and generally freezes their but off because they rarely move. Yes, this is one confusing sport.

Shooting positions weren’t bad with organizer’s giving you full run of the place. When you arrived they give you a chunk of carpet and you find a nice spot and realize why you need the carpet. Your sitting on the hockey ice they didn’t use. Good news, those free liquor tickets you also received can be used while shooting and your drink never gets warm. Bad news, the carpet only minority helps from getting a frozen bottom.

The week ended with well over 1000 people pilling into the bar on the Saturday night to listen to the reunion of the band Double Eagle a once huge country band that got it’s started in Portage la Prairie, MB. While I was learning the social side of curling I saw mid-aged western wearing couples dancing right beside 20-something skater clad boys and their Halter-top clothed girlfriends, dancing in prefect co-habitation. Maybe the world needs more curling. . . With the world curling championships happening a short drive away in Winnipeg, MB this year it should be easy to see the best in the world. All I need to do is find a client and some credentials, any takers . . .

This article was originally published in March 3, 2003 on the website

Dealing with Firsts

This article was originally published in April 2, 2002 on the website

Dealing with Firsts:
Covering The Arctic Winter Games

By Robert Dall, Northern News Service

Robert Dall in Nuuk Greenland with a mountain in the background
Robert Dall in Nuuk, Greenland

I thought lack of sleep would be my biggest problem when I landed in Nuuk, Greenland to shoot the 2002 Arctic Winter Games for my employer, News North, a Canadian paper based in Yellowknife, NWT. I’d been up for 24 hours when I arrived. The opening ceremonies were only a couple of hours away.

At that moment, I was thankful for the local coffee. It was rocket fuel — imagine a free-based version of Starbucks — and I was counting on it to get me through the ceremonies and my first attempts to file digital images back to my editors apx 4800 km (2858 miles) away.

The pressure was on. News North had never sent a dedicated photographer to The Games before. In the past, it had relied on the writing staff to supply images. My assignment represented an expensive first for the company. It was first for me, too. I had never been The Games before and this trip was to be my baptism in the world of digital photography.

With the clock ticking down to the start of the opening ceremony, I made way to the media centre to set up my stuff and get ready to file my first photos. Or so I thought. I barely survived the journey myself. My laptop had expired somewhere en route. My editors were back at home waiting for something that looked like it wasn’t going to arrive.

No matter how much I poked and prodded, the thing wouldn’t come back to life. I was beginning to wonder if pouring the coffee that was keeping me going into the hard drive might help when the loud voice of a local volunteer broke my train of thought. “The media room is now closed,” She announced. “Please make your way to the opening ceremonies.”

I had no choice but to go and shoot — and hope that my computer might fix itself while I was away. I returned 3 hours later and found nothing had changed. It was at that moment I noticed my salvation: a computer had been set up behind me . I wrestled my way on to the machine and discovered that it not only worked, but also had a T1 connection to the Internet. My editors rejoiced as reams of images began to make their way through the system.

Mission accomplished. I took off to a good meal and my B&B from some R&R.


Wes Busby sihouetted Quassussuaq ski hill in Nuuk, Greenland
Wes Busby sihouetted Quassussuaq ski hill in Nuuk, Greenland, Copyright Robert Dall / NNSL

Those early hours in Greenland represented several firsts for me and my employers. But, as I would discover over the next few days, dealing with firsts – and a willingness to improvise, as I was forced to do with my first photos — pretty much captures the spirit of the Arctic Winter Games.

Founded about 30 years ago to promote sports among young people in the northern regions of Russian, Alaska, Arctic Canada and Greenland, the 2002 Games achieved a first of their own: until Nuuk, the Games had never been hosted outside of continental North America. The reason is simple. Most communities in the far north are too small to handle the thousand athletes, coaches and cultural performers who gather for the Games.

Nuuk certainly fell into that category. Although the capital of Greenland and a centre for transportation and administration, this community of 13,500 couldn’t have handled everything on its own. So it shared the responsibilities of hosting the 2002 Games with Iqaluit, a Baffin Island community of 5,000 and the captial of the new Inuit Territory of Nunavut in Canada’s eastern Arctic.

This unusal arrangement – Iqaluit lies several hundred kilometres across the Davis Straight from Nuuk – is typical of the northern tradition of making due under difficult circumstances. And it is part of tradition, I soon discovered, that is alive and well in the Arctic Winter Games.

For example, take the method for getting reporters and photographers up and down the runs during the snowboarding competitions. We were ferried on snowmobiles. The ride up felt like the gentle climb of a roller coaster as it first leaves the platform. I can only compare the ride down to the terrifying drop that comes right after you reach the peak.

I had spent the morning shooting at the top of the snowboard hill when I was ready to make my descent. Jillian Rogers of the Yukon News helped me flagged down a machine. A young driver, who spoke very little English, happily picked us up. Then he pointed his machine downhill and hit the gas. It was one of the wildest rides of my life! We passed competing snowboarders as we accelerated to rocket speeds, and even got some airtime after hitting one particular bump. I can only describe the ride in terms of what I call ‘Robert’s 10-Point Scale of Adrenalin’ Swimming in Arctic Ocean: 3 Riding the Corkscrew rollercoaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain, California: 4 Riding with Canadian Snowbirds acrobatic team flight: 5 Skydiving Chillwack, B.C. : 7 Downhill snowmobiling in Greenland:10

But even if the ride was rough for me, my heart went out to the Nunavut snowboarding team. Every sporting event has its own version of Eddie the Eagle, the Jamaican bobsled team or the Cambodian cross-country skier. In Nuuk, the honour belonged to Nunavut’s boarders. The team came from Canada’s eastern Arctic, which, for the most part consists, to the unaccustomed eye, most of a flat, lunar expanse. Rugged mountains rise up along the coast of Baffin Island, the most easterly portion of the territory. But they are remote and, for the most part, hostile to sports like skiing and snowboarding.

So, the Nunavut snowboard team arrived in Nuuk never having had a real practice, except for one day on the ski hill where their event would take place the day before the Games began. Competing against teams from mountainous regions like Yukon and Alaska, they had no hope of finishing in the medals. Predictably, they came last in every event. But no one cared. They had a great time and are planning to compete again in the 2004 Games at Wood Buffalo National Park. They might even get to Whistler or Banff a couple times before the event.

While I was shooting the snowboarding, another branch of Team Nunavut was taking its first stab at another event: Dene Hand Games. Hand games are a traditional gambling pastime among the aboriginal communities of the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Essentially, they are an elaborate version of ‘Button. Button.Who’s Got the Button.’

Opposing teams sit down in lines facing each other with some kind of blanket between them. The members of one team hold small objects in their hands, typically a twig or stick. Then, they hide their hands under the blanket and pass the sticks back and forth. When they are done, a guesser from the other team tries to figure out in which hand each of the opposing players in is holding their stick. The guesser signals his choices with an elaborate series of gestures.

The Inuit don’t play hand games as a matter of tradition, so the head of the Yukon team stayed up until 4 a.m. the night before the event teaching Team Nunavut the rules of the game. Team Nunavut learned quickly — and learned well. It upset the NWT, home to the most Dene in the semis. The faced down their mentor in the finals and prevailed again.

* * *

Two people looking at Fireworks at the Arctic Winter Games closing ceremonies
Fireworks at the closing ceremonies of the arctic winter games

My week in Nuuk wound down at a media party hosted by the Greenlandic television network KNR, which produced record-breaking amounts of live coverage during the 2002 Games.

I arrived late – having filed late – and was greeted to the sounds of all-native band belting out tunes from the southern United States. I grabbed a Danish beer and joined the Kari Herbert from the Independent London, England and for a night of swapping stories and to ponder the scene.

Listening to “Born on Bayou” in the middle of the Arctic with a European brew in hand seemed incongruous. But then, so did the Nunavut snowboarding, at least it did at first. I put all down to the spirit of the Games and relaxed.

We left Nuuk – along with its strong coffee and other amenities – the follow day for the first leg of the flight home. We laid over in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, a former American Airforce base that is now one of two international airports for the country.

There weren’t enough hotels to accommodate everyone so they opened up the old barracks of the airforce base for the night. while lying on a cot playing crazy eight’s against the NWT snowboarding coach with miniature cards I had purchased for the plastic case (perfect flash card holder) I wonder if I would cover the next games in 2004. You better believe it, I just hope I can get some of that Greenlandic coffee to keep me going.

This article was originally published in April 2, 2002 on the website

Four women and a photographer in an Igloo

This article was originally published in March 3, 2004 on the website

Four women and a photographer in an Igloo

Robert Dall coming out the igloo he spent a night in.
Robert Dall coming out the igloo he helped build and spent the night in.

Six weeks ago I with camera in hand, sleeping bag draped over my shoulder and a caribou skin under one arm slept in a igloo with four other hearty Canadians after a night of feasting on wild beaver and listening to Inuit tales.

The journey that brought me to my snowy home began when I met instructors Rick Riewe and Jill Oakes while covering last year’s course. I was invited to sleep in the igloo, but deadlines etc forced to leave.

Heading out along the rural access road to the station I realized we were in for quite a night when blowing snow created drifts of 1 to 2 feet deep. I met with a Global TV crew who said the road was impassable and we sat and waited for the staff to plow the road.

Temperatures for the day were in the -20 C with wind-chill of -35 C (-31 F). A large dump of snow left well over 30 cm (one foot) on the ground and with the help of snow fences (like those seen at World Cup Skiing Events) there was more than enough snow.

Carley Basler, Karin Johansson, Corinna Gascho and Paula Hughson were just names of strangers, but now they were fellow igloo builders and my bunkmates for the night. I was using F90X (N90s) for couple hours before it needed to be warmed up a bit, so I shoved the batteries down my pants and got to work on building my future home.

Attendees of the igloo builing workshop at the Delta Marsh Field Station

We had to dig down a couple of feet to find so hard pack snow, the perfect density need for cutting the building blocks.

The blocks can be 2.5 feet across and weight up to 20 pounds. Just carrying the blocks 10-20 feet provided a massive undertaking, making you sweat through the day.

As we were putting our final blocks in place, I was assigned the task of filling all the holes; small little holes can ruin a good nights sleep, so the igloo should be seamless.

After a day of building we sat down to a dinner of wild beaver, Riewe and Oakes had picked up from taxidermist days before.

The kitchen was a very hot and humid place, and the gear suffered, even with a bag I couldn’t warm it up. member and NPS guru Ronal Taniwaki suggested that it would have taken over 2 hours to warm the camera to the conditions of the kitchen.

Later that night we carried out our caribou skins across the snow covered lake as the northern lights danced across the skies. The five of us slowly climbed in. When you get into an igloo you have to gingerly get into your bag without touching any of the walls or ceiling which proved quite difficult for someone who is 6 feet tall.

We sealed up the door and prepared for the night. Sadly I couldn’t take any photos yet due to the camera being fogged from the long wait to get in from the cold. The moisture was the foe of the camera but the friend to us. It was the moisture, which kept us warm, the combined heat of five people makes it amazingly comfortable.

Taniwaki had suggested trying to keep your body heat away from the camera or warming it up in your sleeping bag before using.

As the night passed the overnight low was a -37 C (-34 F) outside and once you crack open the door of an igloo you’ll never get that heat back. This proved quite important, as you had to learn how to go pee inside.

Professor Riewe told us stories about how the top hunter always gets the centre, the warmest spot, and being a white man Riewe found himself on the edge of the igloo quite often and when he needed to go pea to go against the wall.

For myself it wasn’t that easy, any rules of etiquette are through out the window, if we had one. I am in an igloo with four women I didn’t even know six hours ago, I have my pants around my ankles hugging a wall hopping that I am not hitting anything.

It wasn’t much easier for the women who had to pull back the caribou skins and put their bum to the cold wall and squat.

You mind is very active the first time your in an igloo, it is a different environment and at times I felt getting colder and colder, during those times, I got a little closer to companions and though I was warm. I then felt my body getting warmer and warmer, it isn’t something I can explain, other then I was warm and fell asleep.

During my slumber, I had some unusual dreams, as most people do their first time, I still wonder why I was having thanksgiving dinner with Trent Nelson and family, don’t ask, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Other then one’s internal clock it is hard to know when morning comes. The blocks are so thick and the seal so tight barely any light leaked through.

News Conference on the lake ice.

I picked up the camera ready to make a group shot us surviving the night and just to touch of my warm body to camera was enough to fog it. Sadly there was little room in my sleeping bag for it or I would have brought it in but keeping warm throughout the night was beyond photography at this point.

We broke the seal on a clear calm Sunday morning at -20 C and left for coffee and a hot breakfast in the kitchen.

Driving home with the new experience, I found a difference in covering an event and being part of one. I just recently got back my slides and they were different then the ones I had shot in the previous year, I don’t believe they were as good.

Sports Shooter’s Bert Hanashiro and others have talked about assignments that have changed their life, getting to close to the subject at hand, and not being totally objective, but for this instances, I decided to take a step back and be part of the experience.

It was a great one to have and I believe helps you focus when you have a job at hand.

The University of Manitoba has been running the program for 30 years at the Delta Marsh Field Station over two weekends in the month of January.

This article was originally published in March 3, 2004 on the website

SportsShooter shutting down

Screenshot of website
The last front page of

This blog post is part of a four part series to archive my blog posts from the site sportsshooter.

The first really “social network” I was part of on the internet was actually called Sportsshooter. It started as a blog/newsletter by USA Today Staff photographer Robert Hanashiro or Bert. I heard about this site via a visit to the Edmonton Journal way back on what ended up to be a very eventful weekend back in September 2001.

The site gave me insight in how real photographer covered huge events across the world.

I was living in Yellowknife at the time and Canada’s Arctic is an exotic far off land. But how do I get it an article in this amazing trade publication.

Enter the Arctic Winter Games stage left:

That summer Sportsshooter envolved into a full featured site with photographer profiles, message board, classified adds, and yearly conferences called a Luau.

To say Sports Shooter had a influence in my photographic career would be an understatement. It was a real benefit to me being in single photographer in a small town get feedback suggestions or inspiration for ideas to use. So I am saving what I wrote there here for posterity.

Articles written for Sportsshooter:

Night Time Lapse from Blake Island

I was able to visit Pudget Sound and Washington State for the first time in 3 years to see my good friend Ben. We also were heading to the Blake Island a state park in the middle of Pudget Sound volunteering with Footloose Disabled Sailing.

I brought my GoPro 9 and attached it this large piece of wood with the Jaws Flex Mount focused at SeaTac Airport and Vashon Island. I wanted to capture a night Time Lapse of the activity at night. I started the time lapse at 10:00pm and let it run until the battery died.

You can see where the  last little bit of twilight fades around the 20 second mark, I even got movement of the stars. While the 1080p could have been high quality. For setting up the camera hitting night time lapse during a vacation. I am pretty happy.

Time Lapse to Bowen Island

Hey Blog, long time no see. It been about two years since I wrote a post. A lot has changed in my life and I didn’t have a whole lot of time for blogging. But I met up with Rebecca Coleman who I hadn’t seen since August of 2020 (The last time I had a social outing outside the Sunshine Coast)

Bex had suggested we go to Bowen Island for the day. While living on the Sunshine Coast and passing Bowen Island via the ferry and flying over Bowen via Float Plane. I have never set foot on Bowen.

I also just got a GOPRO Hero 9 from London Drugs and wanted to try out the time lapse feature! So we boarded the boat and hit the sun deck and I got a pretty nice video.

RIP Alex Mills

Alex Mills (Viper007Bond)

I first saw Alex’s user name and I though Viper007Bond, that’s not how that works. Who is this guy?

Little did I know who this guy actually was.

I first met Alex at the Vancouver WordCamp Dev conference (circa 2012) and we chatted about his username, his impressive number of open source plugins that he manages and how unlike the other bond he drinks beer and not martinis (shaken not stirred)

We became friends across the internet and saw each other at WordCamp Seattle a number of times.

When I headed off to Europe we chatted about visiting the famed Nurburgring ring.

We had a good chuckle about the Dacia Sandero Bet I made with my brother that completely backfired on me.

How he introduced me to Glove and Boots a puppet cartoon I watch on YouTube and laugh at while I eat my lunch.

I never did get down to Portland to take him up on that ride in his beloved Viper he offered. I regret that.

I helped him test beta versions of his enormously popular plugin Regenerate Thumbnails.

The effect Alex had on the WordPress Community was to say the least HUGE.

He will certainly be missed.

Take Care Alex I cant help but feel you were handed a raw deal. But at least your suffering is over.

The Black and White Challenge

I am not much for these challenges that say you must post a photo of your childhood, a favourite movie, no caption etc.…

But when my second cousin Art Wolfe challenged me to the black and white challenge, I felt I couldn’t pass it by. The rules were as follows:
• Photo of my life
• No People are to be in the photo
• No Explanations of the photo

B&W Photography was my first love, as I studied it through high school, college and worked with it for years before the digital revolution.

I really got into this one and going through my archives I realize I love taking photos with a human element. So my first goal was the find a photo in my recent archives that were creative enough and yet didn’t have a human element. I found some decent photos on the first edit, but all had the human element. The second and equally important part was finding a photo that when adjusted would actually have the tonal spectrum, contrast and sharpness to properly visually communicate what I wanted in black and white. I was quite happy with the results of the final selection.. I have decided to include the captions and locations here as it’s not part of the challenge but, the explanation of it. If you want to see the captions just hover over the image.


Georgia Street

Morning sea fog, good for pictures bad for float planes.