Long John Jamboree 2016

Long John Jamboree 2016

I was asked by my client to cover some of the fun going on at the Long John Jamboree 2016. Boy Yellowknifers know how to have a good time in the middle of winter on a frozen Lake!    With its beautiful Snowcastle, featured artists,  curling Johnspiel, skijoring races, food, airplane and helicopter rides there is fun for everyone!  

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Grand Opening of the Snowcastle in Yellowknife, NT

Yesterday at 12 noon, the Snowking:  Tony'unveiled' or more specifically carved the front door out of his massive Snowcastle and warmly invited people in.  Each year the Snowcastle is somehow improved from the year before and this year's Snowcastle is apparently the biggest ever in the 21 year history of building Snowcastles.  There are slides for children, a courtyard and a Grand ballroom of sorts.  There is an ice bar and VIP lounge.  Hot Chocolate will be served.   For the month of March the Snowcastle will set the stage for a variety of artists, songwriters and bands.  Here are some photos from yesterday's opening ceremony.

All photos taken with #Fujifilm XT1 and XF10-24 lens.

 

 

Aurora Ukrainian Dancers - Spring Recital

I had the opportunity to help a friend photograph an amazing dance group from Yellowknife.  They are the Aurora Ukrainian Dancers, a group that started in 1978 and has continued on to this day. They had a dress rehearsal and two show on February 12 and 13th.  This was my first time photographing a performance at The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) in Yellowknife.  These are some of my favourite photos from the show.  


Cross Canada Road Trip

“If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography” Former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King

For quite some time I have wanted to head back to the Northwest Territories to revisit and photograph some of the places where I grew up particularly the culture, the land and its people. Last January while out on assignment for the Government of Scotland, I was photographing the Sir John A. MacDonald annual Kilt Skate on the Rideau Canal in -30C weather. We dropped into the Shaw Centre (formerly Ottawa Convention Centre) to warm up and visit the Spectacular NWT exhibit. I had asked if they needed any photographers up north but it seemed they were more in need of Chartered Accountants which is what my husband does. To make a long story short, Eddie was offered a good position in Yellowknife, NWT! The offer was to good to pass up and what an adventure it would be!

I might have preferred to fly there though as we could be there in four and a half hours via Air North. However, we were reluctant to ship our beloved Saydee as cargo in the belly of a 737, it would be too expensive to ship our car more than 5,500 kilometres and Eddie had never crossed Canada on land before. On the other hand, I thought it would be a great opportunity to photograph the beautiful and expansive landscape that we call home. And since I might be the only Fuji Photographer in Canada north of the 60th parallel, I asked Fujifilm Canada if they might be interested in sponsoring me on this journey. They agreed and provided me with a brand new Fuji X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition and the new XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR lens so that I would be equipped to capture the Aurora Borealis! I was thrilled.

So we set out, packed our belongings, loaded the car and headed out for what would be a 10 day drive across Canada. We left from Ottawa, Ontario and drove via the Trans Canada Highway with scheduled stops in Sault Ste. Marie, Thunderbay, East Braintree, Moose Jaw, Banff, Jasper, High Level and finally Yellowknife, NWT. In total we drove 5,825 kilometres, driving on average 7.5 hrs per day. We could have taken more time to get through Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and made more touring stops but I was motivated to spend a few rest days in the Rockies before heading north to Yellowknife.

DAY ONE - TO SAULT STE. MARIE 794KM

We left on October 7th which was just prior to peak season for the fall colours, however we did notice some fall colours setting in as we travelled north-west. We were happy to discover that the hotel I booked was located right beside the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park - a great place to walk Saydee and admire some of the sculptures at the same time.

DAY TWO - TO THUNDER BAY 701 KM

On day two, we left Sault Ste. Marie along the Trans Canada Highway and made our way to ThunderBay, Ontario. For much of the drive we would be hugging the coastline of the rugged shores of Lake Superior. We stopped at Rossport Coastal Trail for a small photo break. It was wet, windy and cold but beautiful anyway. I always feel energized when I’m near the water.

I certainly could have stayed longer. 

DAY THREE - TO EAST BRAINTREE 584 KM

On Day three we made our way to East Braintree, Manitoba. Taking the advice of my brother-in-law we stopped at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. The Kakabeka Falls are 40 metres high and is the second highest waterfall in Ontario.

It took us three days to leave Ontario and I learned that there isn't a Tim Horton's coffee franchise every 100 kilometres or so!  We stopped for a coffee and a muffin at Rubin's Burger Scoop.  Soon after we found a place where you could shop for Wild rice, moccasins and fudge. 

We arrived at my sister Julie's house around 3:00 pm.  Depite having an authentic turn-of-the-century jailhouse on the property, her home was warm and inviting.  Julie had prepared a lovely thanksgiving dinner for us.  

DAY FOUR - TO MOOSE JAW 773 KM

The trip to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan was rather uneventful. The prairies are rather flat. Except for the odd grain silo, you can expect to see flat wheat fields and blue skies. It was an unusually warm day and it read 29 degrees Celsius when we arrived in Moose Jaw. Fortunately, an Ice Cold Beer could be available if we wanted it.

DAY FIVE -TO BANFF 830 KM

It was another full day of Prairie landscapes and what seemed to be an endless ribbon of highway on our way to Banff. We did encounter a fierce windstorm with winds up to 100 km per hour. This made it a bit more challenging to drive as we had to continuously adjust our cargo bag straps on the roof of the car and dodge the tumbleweeds that kept blowing across the highway. Apparently it is always windy on the Prairies.

Boy were we excited when we finally got a glimpse of the Rocky Mountains! 

DAY SIX - VISIT TO MORAINE LAKE AND LAKE LOUISE

We decided at the last minute to take a trip to Moraine Lake as it was the last day it would be open for the season. We were there once before in 2008 and recalled how beautiful and serene it was. Moraine Lake is famous for being the site where the image that graces the Canadian $20 bill was taken. Even though it was cold and foggy, the colour of the lake was still the vibrant turquoise that I had remembered.

After hiking around Moraine Lake, we made a short stop to the popular Lake Louise. 

DAY SEVEN - TO JASPER 288 KM

Ok, I’ll admit that I was sorry to leave Banff. I wish we could have stayed a few more days as there is so much to see and do. On the way out, we drove up to Mount Norquay which had an amazing view. Saydee didn’t mind getting out of the car to explore the mountain slope. We had to keep her on the leash though as she would certainly have run towards the herd of female Elk that were grazing on the slope. It was really nice of the Alberta government to leave behind a couple of cozy red Adirondack chairs. It could only have been better if we had brought with us a thermos of coffee.

We saw more beautiful mountain vistas along the Columbia Icefields Parkway.  I concluded I would never tire of them.   

DAY EIGHT - VISITING MALIGNE CANYON AND JASPER AREA

This was a much needed rest day. We decided to go for a hike around Maligne Canyon which is over 160 feet deep and has a few waterfalls and streams. I took a few photos along the way and wished that I had brought my tripod, but then again it was a rest day. The Bull Elk seemed to agree with me as I saw him resting across the street from our hotel in the parking lot.

DAY NINE TO HIGH LEVEL 860 KM

Two more driving days to Yellowknife. Eddie was a bit concerned as it would be quite a long day and he wanted to make certain we arrived at our destination before it got dark as he had been hearing about Elk, Moose and Bison on the roads. For part of the trip it seemed that we were in the Prairies again.

DAY TEN - TO YELLOWKNIFE 716 KM

We started early in the morning. At -3C it was cold out but we were excited that we had only one more day to go.

Fuji's XF16mm - Amazing Lens!

Thanks to Fujifilm Canada I was able to borrow their new 16mm F1.4 lens and bring it along with me to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia this summer.  I actually didn't want to give it back, I loved it so much.  And yes I'm considering buying it.  (I might even trade in my 23mm F1.4 for it!)  I think I prefer the 16mm focal length (24mm full frame equivalent.)   I noticed that when I use the 16-55 most of my images are shot at either the 16mm focal length or at 55mm.  I liked how light it was in comparison to the 16-55 and could easily use it as my walk around lens.  For me it trumps the 23mm because of its 15cm minimum focusing distance and the added weather sealing.   Robert Capa once said that "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough."   Well the 16mm certainly lets you move in close!  Incredibly you can be six inches away from your subject and it will focus!  And with a fast 0.11 second autofocus speed, it is lightning quick too!  This I think is a huge advantage for street photography because no one expects you to take their picture when you are standing six inches in front of them.   It is also great for environmental portraiture as you can be close to your your subject while capturing their environment and giving the viewer the feeling of being there as well.

'For what I like to shoot: beautiful places, spaces, fast moving subjects, inclement weather, and environmental portraits, it is the perfect lens for me. Here are some favourites:

Street Photography

Portraits

Yellowknife

The East Coast

 

 

 

 

Governor General's Performing Arts Awards

On Saturday May 30th, their excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and Mrs. Sharon Johnston attended the NAC's Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.   The award recipients were:  

Walter Boudreau, composer, conductor and artistic director
Atom Egoyan, film and stage director, visual artist and screenwriter
Diana Leblanc, actress and director
Sarah McLachlan, singer, songwriter, musician and humanitarian
R. H. Thomson,actor, director, producer and arts advocate

Here are some of my favourite photographs from the event which I photographed for Hello Canada magazine.

A Final Tribute to Dad

Yesterday we laid my father to rest alongside my mother at the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces.  It was a military funeral with a full honour guard as he had served in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII from as soon as he was old enough until the war ended in 1945.   He crossed the Atlantic many times dodging German submarines and torpedoes and then he raised one son and three daughters.  I always thought he was a hero.  

The Last Post for John Campbell Wilson at the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces. 

Fuji's 16-55

It's been four months now since I've been shooting with the Fuji 16-55 F2.8 weather sealed beauty and I'd have to say it is my most used and favourite lens to date.  Fuji makes awesome prime lenses as well and I currently have the 23 and the 35 but when carrying around the 16-55 it feels as if you have four prime lenses on your camera all at once. 

I do have the 23mm F1.4 as well as the 35mm F1.4 and I love them both but when I'm on an assignment and have to shoot everything from portraits to landscapes and then food I reach for the 16-55 as it is the most versatile. 

So what can you photograph with it?  Almost everything: architecture, street, still life, portraiture, interiors, events..   What I love about it:  its excellent image quality, solid build, weather sealing and it is fast.  What I don't love:  it is a bit on the heavy side, however coming from the D800 and a 24-70 it is still light in comparison.  Also, because Fuji does OIS so well, I wouldn't have minded if they had included it on this lens.  

Here are some image samples. 

Punta Cana

We went because we were tired.   My father had just passed away at the age of 91 years, and while he lived a full rich life, it is never easy to say good bye to someone you love.  And winter didn't seem to be letting up at all.  It has been a cold hard winter and we were grateful to have the opportunity to escape the last week of winter in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  

It would be a beach holiday, as I wanted to reflect  and come to terms with not having my dear father around anymore.  I often wonder if the dead can communicate with us afterwards and I suspect they can because I've noticed after the passing of my mother and my aunt that I would hear a piece of music over and over that would remind me of them.  I wondered how I would recognize my father after he passed because he wasn't very musical.  And I never asked him.  However, I was responsible for putting together his slide show for his funeral and I chose an instrumental version of the theme song Titanic as I would be fitting to his career in the Royal Canadian Navy.  I listened to that song over and over while getting his slideshow ready.

It was very late when we arrived in Punta Cana and we just had time to have a quick meal at the buffet before it closed.  We did notice on our way to the buffet a nice piano bar called Hemingway's and so we decided to stop in after dinner, which we did.  We sat down, ordered a glass of wine and within five minutes the piano player started playing.  Tears came to my eyes as I realized the very first song he played was the theme song for the Titanic.  I couldn't believe it.  It is as if Dad let me choose the song and was communicating with me :)  (Anyway, I don't know whether it is true or not, but I am comforted by it.)

The Piano Player, Hemingway's Bar 

The Piano Player, Hemingway's Bar 

Anyway, for me that was the highlight of our trip.  I also enjoyed being on the beach and practising some long exposure photography.  For the most part I photographed using my Fuji 18-55 lens but on occasion did try out the 14mm F2.8.  Here are some favourites.