I have been lucky enough to attend an Art Wolfe Workshop where we spend two days shooting and then a morning editing what we shot. The stuff Art thinks about when he is shooting will start making you think outside the box and get your creative juices flowing.
Sadly not everyone can attend an Art Wolfe Workshop as they start at 2000 dollars, not including travel or accommodation for most of the trips.
¹ Full Disclosure: I am related to Art, and he helped direct me in my photographic career. I also now work for Art Wolfe Inc as their website designer/manager. But I would recommend this regardless of my connection with Art Wolfe Inc.
I have always been a patriot Canadian. For my birthday once I asked for a Canadian Flag. While we’re not perfect and we still have some work to do, I say we celebrate what we do have because when you think about it. It’s a lot!
During College, my best friend was and still is a very patriotic Canada naturally so am I. It wasn’t until we had hung out for a couple months and had more than a few beers that I realized just how patriot his was. Because it wasn’t a wear it on your sleeve type of patriotism.
So when I heard Canada was celebrating its 150 birthday. It hough visiting old friends and see some national historic sights would be a good idea.
So I called up my College Friends Amber Rider in Victoria and Scott Crabbe who lives in Jasper and told them to roll out the “red carpet” and expect a visit.
On Victoria Day long weekend… Go to Victoria.
Seeing Victoria for the first time in 10 years was pretty awesome. I flew in from Vancouver to Victoria on Harbour Air, avoiding those dastardly ferry sailing waits and delays.
The Fort was originally built before World War one in 1878 to protect Esquimalt Harbour and CFB Esquimalt which is home to the Maritime Forces Pacific.
We then drove up the Island and took a stop in the wonderful town and murals of Chemainus. Something I hadn’t seen since childhood as well.
The Island is so close to Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast, but yet so far if you need to travel to it. Luckily I escaped the ferries again and was able to take Harbour Air from Nanaimo to Sechelt.
Another college buddy Ernest who lives in Toronto came to Vancouver for a visit and we took a walk through Stanley Park in Vancouver with his family. I haven’t walked through Stanley Park in a number of years. It truly is an urban forest! We came out of Third Beach. While the Stanley Park is a National Historic Site it is under the management of the Vancouver Parks Board and not Parks Canada.
Sometimes all it takes is to be a tourist is in your own backyard.
The Great Canadian Road Trip
Getting to visit Scott would take more doing then it would Amber. But he is much further afield as well. In Jasper National Park. I was able to fly into Vancouver on Harbour Air and along with my flight I was able to get a deal on the car rental through them at Canada Place and I hit the road making stops for second breakfast in Hope. (Hobbit’s aren’t the only ones that know this is very Important for travelling)
A stop in Kamloops for gas and a few snacks for the road. (When did Kamloops get so hot?, oh right… it’s part desert!)
I turned north on the Yellowed Highway named after fur trader and explorer Pierre Bostonais who had streaks of yellow in his hair and was nicknamed Téte Jaune or Yellowhead.
The Yellowhead is mostly a two-lane highway that twists and turns through the more northerly of the three main passes through the Rockies.
I made good time getting into to Jasper. My plan was to have a wiggle room day just in case of traffic or car trouble you never know.
I was staying with Scott Crabbe and family and he had some special Jasper Brewing Company Beer in the old school Parks Canada Colours waiting for me.
Next day we took off to the Jasper Skytram to drop off the company truck and do some biking down the hill and back to his house. What I thought was going to be a ride down the road was truly so much more. Scott had a single track route all planned out and we crossing a road and highway a couple times. True to form for Scott he always has an adventure up his sleeve. The scenery on this beautiful day was second to none and the exhilaration of the beauty of Canada’s National Parks kept me going.
I spent Canada 150 birthday in a National Park with an old college friend and his family. I don’t think I could have picked a better place or had better weather.
I left Jasper on July 2nd for the Ice Fields Parkway and Calgary. I was told by many, take your time on the parkway Calgary is closer than you think. With The Tragically Hip blasting from the stereo, I hit the road for some true Canadiana.
Thus I did. The race to get from A to B three days earlier was just a memory and taking it all in stopping where you want is all part of this journey.
Last time I did the parkway was the summer of 1985 I was eight years old and it rained and was cloudy the entire time. This time there was barely a cloud in the sky and I set the cruise control to 50km an hour and took it all in.
Whenever there was a vehicle behind me I just pulled over let them pass. Don’t let the view pass you by. Take it all in. Your on this route for the journey, not the destination.
Reaching the Columbia Ice Fields I purchased a $7 ham and cheese sandwich. (When will I learn?) I skipped the Glacier Adventure Snow Coach at $85 per person and took a walk up the hill to see the receding Athabasca Glacier.
Sad to see the glacier getting so much smaller than when I remember it some 32 years ago. But that is our changing environment.
After a stop at Saskatchewan River Crossing for a coffee, as I didn’t want to mess with Banff or Lake Louise on Canada Day weekend, I hit the road non-stop to Calgary.
I visited Gord and Aleta and their 4 kids and they took me to Bowness Park which I had visited in the winter but never in the summer. The Park had been completely flooded in the 2013 flood. But the park was nicely remodelled and we took out the paddle boats and road the train and had a great day of fun.
Visiting with old friends is great, but getting beaten by a 5-year-old at go fish 4 times in a row is a humbling experience. I can’t wait for a rematch Gabby!
I filled up with the last of the cheap Alberta gas and hit the road for Creston, BC and the home of Kokanee and Columbia Brewery. While the Columbia Brewing Company only survives in name since it was purchased by Labatt’s in 1974, it still makes Kokanee on site and a sailing buddy of mine loves Kokanee so I had to check it out.
Next stop on this roadshow was Osoyoos. I didn’t realize how much further Route 3 was then the Trans-Canada. It’s only 253 kilometres longer. But it winds and wiggles along the US border and is a two-lane highway with a few passing lanes along the way. Road Trips are fun but sometimes you just need to put miles in. I use a combination of Podcasts and upbeat music to let the kilometres melt away.
Even with A/C and cold drink, a car is a hot place in the summer, so I had one goal for a hotel in Osoyoos. clean hotel with a Pool, nothing fancy… just a pool. Super 8 fit the bill and I spent the evening poolside. Last day of my road trip I wanted to leave Osoyoos and it’s 40C degree heat. But with the heat comes the fruit and with that comes fruit stands!
I also got some cherries myself as they are a great snack food for the road.
I filled up again in Hope the round trip was almost over. I hadn’t seen the Crowness Pass since I was a kid!
Looking back on the epic Canadian Road Trip I was extremely lucky not to be affected by any of the forest fires that have hit a number of community I travelled through and my thoughts are certainly with them as they battle and rebuild.
On BC Day Long Weekend go to the birthplace of BC
Completely by accident, I went to the Birthplace of the colony British Columbia, Fort Langley on BC Day Long Weekend. I had been wanting to go to Fort Langley for some time, but when my brother asked me to watch his dogs for the long weekend I said sure as long as I can go to Fort Langley in his car! A deal was stuck and off I went.
Fort Langley was the birthplace of British Columbia as a British Colony, although BC Day as a holiday didn’t start until 1974 the colony signed into order on August 2, 1858. This was a pre-emptive move to forestall any drives for annexation of the land to the United States.
I had not been to Fort Langley since childhood and since it was BC Day long weekend there were a number of re-enactors had set up camps and volunteers giving talks about hunting, trapping and trading in 1840 through to its closure in 1886.
I also checked and yes Fort Langley still takes my Hudson’s Bay Master Card. LOL.
We have a vast and varied and huge country and while we still have work today we should celebrate our achievements. Get out and enjoy our country you don’t need a 150 anniversary to do it, just the need to explore your own backyard.
If my writings have helped you out, you can buy me a coffee or a beer via paypal:
The three day workshop was spent on exploring our creative sides. We based out of Port Angeles and spent the mornings in a seminar and the afternoons out shooting at Sol Duc Falls, Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach.
It rained all three days we were there and just like news photography you go out in all types of weather. The weather was actually perfect for the subject matter – A study on a West Coast Rainforest. Although I could have brought better footwear like gum boots or Gore-tex runners.
First thing I learned about nature / fine art photography was they love tripods and as a news photographer I barely used mine in my 7 year career. Aside from the fireworks on Canada Day and the Northern Lights I shot during my time in the arctic. (They also never use monopods) But I guess they don’t shoot a lot of sports.
So my first lesson was how to shoot quick and fast with a tripod… I finally realized why the Gitzo tripods all have a twist and grip system for their tripods and ball heads for the camera mount. You can get really fast at setting up your camera for maximum adjustability and ease of use. It was so much faster than my old school silver Manfrotto was. (Yes I know they are owned by the same parent company)
Instead of just touring us to different locations Art’s morning lectures really focused us on how he creates the masterpieces he does. What he looks for and what your eye does when it looks at a photo. He really encourages you to explore you environment and really engages you to make your photo look as good as possible before shooting it. The textures patterns and framing are really everything that goes into a great photograph. Out in the field he certainly challenged me to keep shooting… keep finding a new angle.
“My goal is no less than to change the way you see.” ~ Art Wolfe
Unlike my news photography career where it’s a fast pace environment and getting your images back to the newsroom is key to everything. Nature photography is much slower and gives you opportunity to find beauty in the abstract and slow down the creative process. Unlike editorial photography you are creating art and those hard and fast rules of creating the image need not apply here.
My DLSR equipment was ancient and falling apart. It was a used D100 that barely functioned and the lenses had all seen better days. So I left all that old heavy outdated gear at home and stuck with my Fuji X10 Range finder. Without the interchangeable lenses of a SLR I had work with the boundaries of what the camera could do. It was a fascinating exercise as I only had a 28 – 110 mm lens ISO of 100 and a closed down aperture of only f11.
What the camera did have was an awesome macro lens that could get me inches away from the subject matter.
Out in the field Art and his Workshop Staff really helped you to find that great shot. I actually needed some help setting up my tripod in a middle of a hollow tree as it was a little cramped. But I knew the shot I was looking for I just couldn’t get it just right. Art was there ready to help this old news photog out.
We carpooled out to the different shooting locals and randomly I found Larry Calof in need of someone to ride shot gun. I could not have picked a better travelling buddy. As a Semi-retired Lawyer in Silicon Valley we had plenty to talk about. But I also found out we both love the Dave Mathews Band amongst other things in common we had great conversations while we drove all over the peninsula.
While at Rialto Beach I was able to capture this awesome photo of Larry at work. The pipe really made the shot. I stopped what I was doing grabbed the camera off the tripod and grabbed a couple frames before he finished his pipe. We all have our processes and this was Larry’s. For me the old adage is true: You can take the boy out of the news… But you can’t take news out of the boy.
In conclusion if you have a passion for photography and want to spend a vacation shooting. I highly recommend taking one of Art Wolfe’s workshops, it fed my soul and let me see part of the West Coast I had never been too