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Tag: photography

Banff / Jasper – The Wildlife

We saw an amazing amount of wildlife in the parks. Most of it was along the Icefields Parkway as we drove between Lake Louise and Jasper but overall, there was just an amazing amount of wildlife that seems to be everywhere. As spring was in the air and things were starting to thaw out, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but based on experiences in U.S. National Parks, we were not prepared for the sheer number and closeness we experienced.

Bear

Brown Bear

June 16 – On our way back from the Marble Canyon hike, just past the continental divide, we ran into our first bear on the side of the road. We were not prepared at all for this and the girls briefly got out of the car until we realized that this was not a safe situation for anyone. The bear was maybe 50-60 feet away. Mom got over excited and ran down to get a real close shot. As soon as it turned to look at her, she moved pretty quick to get out of there.

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Grizzly Bear

June 20 – Along the Icefields Parkway

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Black Bears

June 18 – Along the Icefields Parkway

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June 20 – This was the day of the black bear. We saw 4 in total which including the Grizzly, made 5 in one day. By the end of the day, some people in the vehicle had lost interest and just wanted to get back to have dinner. I still can’t believe it. We saw so many bears, wild, up-close and personal, that it was just too much. Amazing. You won’t hear anything like that driving through Yellowstone or Yosemite.

Bear 1

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Bear 2

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Bear 3

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Bear 4

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Elk

June 14, 15, 16, and 20 – Needless to say, these are the most common large mammals in the park. We saw some the first night we were in Banff, right on the shore of the Bow River. We also saw them along the Bow Valley Highway and along the Icefields Parkway.

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Porcupine

June 16 – We saw this little guy on the hillside just to the north-west of the Chateau at Lake Louise. This wasn’t on the kids list of animals to see, but was definitely interesting.

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Mountain Goat

June 18 and 20 – Both times we drove the Icefields Parkway, we saw these mountain goats in the same place. On the way back down the parkway on the 18th, a park service guy fired off some fireworks to scare the goats off the road since they were causing such an issue.

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Bighorn Sheep

June 18 and 20 – I loved this grand-dad of bighorn sheep that we found. He was just hanging out, enjoying the morning. Again, on the Icefields Parkway. Similar location on both days. The older ones are way more interesting than the young or female. Love those horns!

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Marmot

June 19 – I saw a few of these on my way up the trail to Lake Oesa while we were at Lake Ohara. I ran up here to try to get a high view of the lake for a few shots. This litter sucker would not get off the trail. I yelled, threw rocks at it (hard) and it would not budge. I finally decided that I would just walk up to it and if it jumped at me, I would soccer kick the sucker off the side of the steep trail. Luckily, it didn’t come to that and it took off when I was about 2 feet away. Scared the crap out of me when it finally ran off.

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Peonies at Eastgate

These couple of weeks at the end of May and start of June are always a special time around here. It’s the time when irises and peonies are in bloom and considering the love that Julie has for peonies, she seems to have a smile on her face when she is in the yard. There were just a few peony here when we moved in and now there are dozens of flowers coming up, more each day and in three different parts of the yard.

They are mainly dark pink in color but a few are pale pink. When Julie’s Grandma had her house on the market a few years ago, in preparation for a move into a nursing home, Julie and her dad decided to dig up all the peonies he had planted there many, many years ago and give them a new home. It’s a comforting feeling to know that the same plants that brought Grandma K enjoyment also bring it to us.

Julie’s dad is the peony planting wizard and it’s thanks to a lot of hard work on his part and Julie’s tending to them, that they look so great!

My first time… with a tripod

I got a shipment the other day that included a new tripod, some filters and a wireless shutter release. This should be the last of my gear before the Canada trip (although maybe another spare battery…. there is always something!).

I was driving Brooke home from drum lessons on Tuesday and the sunset looked really amazing. I got to the house, mentioned this to Julie in passing and she told me to go shot it! So I grabbed my gear as quick as I could since the sunset was almost over and drove like mad to a place on the Fox River that offered a decent view. I missed the most amazing part, but this gave me a great chance to try the tripod.  After some minor post-processing, here is what I ended up with. The composition could have been better but I was happy with my first attempt at low light photography. The auto-focus and VR didn’t help at all… next time, note to self.

All three were shot with the Nikkor 18-105mm 3.5-5.6 lens.

ISO 400, .125s, f/6.3

ISO 200, 5.0s, f/10

ISO 1800, 1/30s, f/3.8

Family Picture Time

At various events throughout the year, my immediate and extended family attempt to take shots of the whole group. This past weekend was just such an event. This was the first time I would be getting some shots using the D90 so I was excited to see the difference. I left the 18-105mm lens on with no flash. The sun was low in the western sky and we were backed up against some hedges. Usually we don’t get conditions like this for these types of shots, but the lighting looked decent. The small flash I have would not have been able to light the whole group in an even manner so I didn’t even bother.

Since I was in these shots, I couldn’t actually take them but I was hoping with the setup and getting the camera set to (P)rogram, it would be easy enough for a neighbor to help out. So here is the best of the bunch with no post-processing:

While this looked fairly good overall, I wasn’t really happy with the skin tones, exposure and white-balance. I have been using the Nikon Capture NX2 software after a friend swore by it vs. photoshop. After my first attempt to keep to correct the issues I saw with the original, I got this:

I am pretty happy with this, even if the saturation of the bright colored clothes in the front left is a little strong and there are some spots where the sunlight was shining through some trees that look more harsh than in the original. Overall, I’d say the Capture NX2 software is paying for itself by helping to take an alright picture and turn it into something that is close to wall-worthy.

Prep Work for Photographing Banff

So I have set out to give myself a more thorough education on photographing in the outdoors. Mainly focusing on sunrise, sunset, landscapes and high contrast  lighting situations since the Canada trip will likely have a lot of bright snow, blue skies and tricky landscapes. Thanks to the internet, I have found a few great lessons to start out with. Here’s a recap of some of the videos I have been watching. They are all short and most only have one or two tips, but that makes it easy to digest and I can keep the notes consolidated on a notepad that I will be taking with me.

Marc Silber has some great videos about photographing landscapes and getting the whole story.  His siblerstudios.tv site has some very interesting videos as well, but not related to my mission so I didn’t let myself get too distracted.

Some tips from the trail as Marc walks along the JMT.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu6OHYqaDeI]

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