Canadian Rocky Mountains
Alberta, Land of the Wild Horse
There is something about a wild horse that speaks to a hidden part of us. The suppressed part that responds to an unfettered life, dominated by none and without rules. The part that does not want to live by schedules and appointments and dislikes smog and pollution almost as much. After all, don’t we all want more free will from the shackles imposed by ourselves and others? Free in the open fields and aromatic woods of our dreams. Running with mane tangled from the elements after days spent in the mountain air of an untamed land. Just like in the movies, a life of the strong and free.
But strength and romanticism do not always keep company in the same body. The same can be said for nostalgia and freedom. The wild horses that roam the foothills of Alberta in the Canadian Rocky Mountains are not truly wild. Although they are descendants of domesticated Spanish horses released during colonization they have roamed free for many years. They have been here long enough to resist being rounded up back into captivity. As far as day to day living is concerned these horses lead a life of chaos. The wild horse has to survive a hostile environment without any hope of human help for basic needs provided to its domestic relatives. A constant search for the necessities of life, food and shelter, leaves little time or energy for loafing around enjoying the natural environs of the Alberta foothills. In the depths of winter after fresh snowfall there is no overwintered dry hay to be found.
People have been nurturing the horse human partnership since wolves started hanging around the campfire. We domesticated them and now we romanticize their wildness. Tamed their instincts and admire the release of them. The next time you see a wild horse or any wild creature, admire them for their struggle as much as for the freedom they instill. The wild deserve it.
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Top Tips For Biathlon Photography
Fast action, frigid temperatures, agile athletes, mountain landscape all wrapped up into an event full of emotion. You can capture everything by planning in advance.
1 Dress Code – Have you ever been outside for hours probably without access to food, water and more important, warmth? Those are the conditions you will have, only you will also be wearing a long lens on a heavy camera.
2 Light – Where is it? Where is it headed? The sun is your main light source so you need to know what it is doing. Luckily, flash is usually forbidden at races so that keeps it simple. Work the light, prepare for shadows on faces and adjust to avoid. Watch mixy light, the combination of bright sun and dark shadows.
3 Creative – Try some outside of the box clicks. Atypical. Beyond predictable. Backlit warm-ups, athlete nervous chatter, post race relief, friendships nurtured over lunch in the bright sun, a spray of snow suggests action, quiet moments are all about anticipation and relief. Use these emotion mantras to capture your goal rather than just clicking an experience.
4 Speed – The nature of racing in changing light requires constant ISO manipulation. Perfect exposure (keep right, right, right) in the shady evergreens means gross overexposure in bright sunlight. Those athletes move fast and bright sunny conditions change quickly to shade or a combination that will have your meter going crazy. Think smarter than the meter.
5 Be Prepared – The athletes have been training for months for this event. Keep their preparedness motto in mind. Batteries fizzle in cold temperatures, fingers do not work well either. Keep checking the LCD screen for over and under exposure, freezing motion.
6 Mood – What is the feeling of this event? Competitive, young people enjoying the camaraderie of their peers, intense competition followed by a backslapping good job? Figure it out and capture it.
7 Shooting Position – Although you are featuring an athletic performance, background is critical. If the viewer cannot find the athlete for the crowd then your mission has failed. Clean or supportive backgrounds achieve your goal. Case the venue, figure out your capture spots and keep out of the race.
8 Smile at the officials.
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Shadow Lake Lodge – Kids In The Backcountry Canadian Rockies
The junior travelling companions persevere with questions but it is obvious the answers do not benefit their trek up Red Earth Creek to Shadow Lake Lodge.
To the under eleven set, hiking uphill into the backcountry of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains through mosquito infested evergreens on a plus 25 day is feverish and grueling, no matter that their pack is full of Smartie infested gorp and goodies of the same ilk.
Roughly every ten minutes, the inevitable verbal seesaw transgresses interchangeably between How Much and How Far? Seven minutes, three kilometers, two hours, nine kilometers, the response varies and so it volleys back and forth, the children more earnest and the adults seeking diversion. Usually, any response circumvents the tedium of the trail but only for increasingly shorter intervals. The made for adults’ slogan: “it is the journey, not the destination” does not compute in the small world.
Descending upon Shadow Lake Lodge, on the edge of the forest facing Mount Ball, with Shadow Lake tucked under its protective realm, is much anticipated and long overdue. With the older set fatigued by the questions and the kids fed up with the answers, the biggest spread of high tea this side of the British Isles easily lures. Save another day for exploration of the high country surrounds of Shadow Lake Lodge, which beckons more than enough recreation for two active youths – mirrored Haiduk Lake, Shadow Lake bridge (mind your handheld treasures, once dropped, the water below is swift and unforgiving), Gibbon Pass and Twin Lakes, all of which are accessible and beg discovery by young explorers and their intrepid accompanying adults. There are lake shores to plunge feet in, rocks to skip and hundreds of undiscovered mushrooms fringe the trails holding out to be catalogued by exuberant youth seeking points in a new game of seek. The intrigue of poisonous varieties allure little boys – how long it takes to die from one, does touch mean sudden death or slow demise, which ones require only the touch of a lip Juliet style, do the red ones kill fastest, are the grocery store look-a-likes safer? With almost as many query versions as How Long and How Far the adults aren’t ready to go down that path again on this visit.
By each days’ end, adults and children flop into the over comfortable beds (really, straw bedding would satisfy the rawest of muscles at days end with this fresh air mountain experience). Long forgotten are the endless How Far and How Long queries. Luckily for all, hiking has morphed from a chore into a journey. It is becoming less adult all of the time.
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Backcountry Canadian Rockies – Shadow Lake Lodge
Journey or destination? You know the query, edging into your brain at the most inopportune time, irritating your mental state, after you rationalized you just want to get there and you don’t care about the expedition.
Destination – Shadow Lake Lodge in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, just west of the famous resort town of Banff. ETA – impossible to determine as you beat off the most insolent members of the bug kingdom, weighty boots adding to gravity’s unwelcome pull as you slog up Red Earth Creek trail in Banff National Park. Your mind plays with how many more turns in the trail await before you can lie prone in those lofty pillow-soft beds, arms outstretched in angel position with legs released from the cast-like footwear, teasing you from taking pleasure in the moments that make the hike experience. Indian paintbrush and mauve harebells dance their mightiest to draw you, but even the beckoning creek side can’t pull your attention off the destination. At kilometer 14.6 the forest opens into a high alpine meadow and laid out across a west-facing corner is your home in the mountains. The discovery of Shadow Lake, Gibbon and Haiduk Pass await as you sip tea and drink in Mount Ball in the distance. The afternoon refreshment spread out in the 1928 CPR cabin tempts beyond the caloric intake of today’s ascent giving high tea a whole new meaning at this remote high country destination, an oasis of comfort and worth every step of the journey.
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