Although we had not planned to take the RV our for the Victoria Day holiday we decided at the last moment to give it a go if we could find a camp site. The weather forecast looked better than it had in the previous couple of years when on both occasions we awake to a spring snow. We were rewarded with a nice site at Johnson's Landing RV Park and the weather was exceptional.
In years past Red Deer Lake must of been a lovely place. Unfortunately years of low rainfall have taken a toll and the lake is shallow and the shores white as the lake contains a high concentration of dissolved salt...alkali lake. Swim floats now rest on the shore and even the small, shallow draft sailboat in the image below right, is beached far out from the original boat launch.
I do not know how much of an increase in rainfall would be required to bring Alberta lakes back up to original levels but probably very close to 40 days and 40 nights of moderate rain.
The lake is still popular with some waterfowl including the American Avocet that pleasured us with their company every afternoon.
The surrounding area is also home to a wide variety of wildlife. Although I was not able to photography a variety of hawks, owls and assorted other birds, we did come across a herd of deer which we were able to photograph from behind our parked truck. They were about 100 meters away but within range of the Olympus 75-300mm lens...although the image is cropped a bit. This lens was also used to the above bird images. In our rush to get going I came away without my tripod and all shots are handheld at 300mm. Yes...there is an advantage to some form of image stabilization.
Next time I will share a few images from the surrounding area however I am heading for Vancouver Island for a few days so expect a slight delay with the next blog entry.
As always...comments are welcome.
There is much more to Wainwright than the annual Grouse Watch. Originally named Denwood it was moved by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and renamed Wainwright after General William Wainwright. Today the railway is still important to Wainwright with an almost constant flow or traffic either east or west.
Like most prairie towns the streets are wide (more room to pile snow...joke) and the businesses take pride in the appearance of their entrances. Wainwright's main street is also dominated by the Memorial Clock Tower, built to honor those that lost their lives in the First World War and later to include World War Two.
Wainwright's historic background, fairs, rodeos, museums and parks will provide the avid photographer with many interesting photo opportunities.
Although I have only visited Wainwright in early spring, I am going to make it a photo destination for a summer shoot. Located approximately two hours east of Edmonton a day shoot would be possible but nothing beats a weekend away with a camera.
I last had an opportunity to observe this unique event in 2011 but a late April blizzard prevented us getting into the field. The Lek we were to observe is located on CFB Wainwright and they take a dim view of having to come out an pull you off the range. Better safe than sorry is a good motto under these circumstances so activities were restricted to a Thursday evening photo presentation.
This year found the weather perfect and I was pleased to accompany Laurence Hover and a small group of birders on the first outing of 2013. As usual the event begins in a parking lot immediately adjacent to CFB Wainwright at 04:30 and participants are taken to Range Control for a short briefing on how to conduct themselves on the range and sign a waiver. Once this is completed Laurence leads us to the blinds that would allow us to observe the grouse.
We arrive at the blinds about 05:30 and after a brief wait the first grouse arrives and he is followed almost immediately by approximately a dozen others.
It is hard to describe the ritual that follows. The birds spread their wings, elevate their tail and with rapid leg movements begin a strange dance.
They move rapidly within a prescribed area, sometimes singly and sometimes in pairs.
The birds colouring is striking.
The ritual is occasionally interrupted by a raptor in search of breakfast and on this particular day two hawks were attracted by the goings on. After a near miss this fellow though he might wait to see if the grouse would reappear. In fact they do reappear after a healthy delay and the ritual continues.
We were required to be off the range by 07:00 and were able to enjoy an excellent breakfast at the CFB Wainwright Junior Ranks Mess before heading home.
All images were captured using an Olympus OM-D with a 75-300mm II lens and ISO's of 1600 and 3200. When time permits I will edit the video and add it to this post.
Anyone interested in participating in this grouse watch should contact Laurence Hoover at 780-842-2399. Space is limited as there is only so much room in the blinds. Although I am not an avid birder, this display is something that everyone should see at least once...absolutely stunning.
Comments always welcome.
Working in a camera store ensures that I am seldom short of interesting photographic processes, styles or products to comment on. I am frequently short on time but that is another story. One of the more recent discussions involved products from the Impossible Project, that are touted as being replacements for Polaroid film. In my opinion, nothing could be farther from the truth.
The products from the Impossible Project are not a replacement for Polaroid film...they are a photographic medium that will fit into certain Polaroid cameras.
Any resemblance between the Impossible Project products and the original Polaroid products is purely coincidental. Impossible Project products are not concerned with colour accuracy, sharpness, resolution or consistency. As a result these products will not appeal to the serious photographer but will be embraced by the artsy crowd who will expound upon the virtues of obtaining unique, one of a kind images. I am confident that there are already sufficient historic process that give quirky, volatile and impressionistic images. They will also provide more consistent and repeatable results. I don't agree that because the image is unique increases the value of a poorly composed and poorly exposed image that is captured using one of the least archival products currently available. From the majority of Impossible Project images I have seen posted on the Web this lack of archival properties may be one of it's best features.
I believe the large number of flaws in all aspects of this product will prevent most camera stores from carrying the product because it is simply to difficult to support. While "artists" will buy and accept this product because they are excited by it quirky aspects, there are many people who expect support and resolution for these quirky aspects. Of course there is no resolution and as a result there will be few retail outlets carrying Impossible Project products.
Comments are always welcome.
Sunday morning was originally scheduled for a visit to the Brazeau Collieries Minesite. Unfortunately we were unable to access the site so the schedule was adjusted to included another visit to Abraham Lake followed by a walk through the Town of Nordegg.
With the exception of the wind, each visit to Abram Lake offers the photographer something different. In this case it was the morning light filtering through a very light cloud cover that offered some spectacular against-the-light photo opportunities.
Even though we did not have access to the Brazeau Mine, there are a many original buildings still standing. I am not sure about the history of the Nordegg Community Church but it is certainly one of the best preserved buildings in the area.
There were enough historic buildings to keep up busy for a couple of hours. Snow drifts made access to some areas around the buildings difficult but nothing should prevent an eager photographer from capturing a number of images. Lighting was great and allowed the capture of rough textures and striking shadows.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and so it was with the first McBain Camera Tour / Workshop. We returned to Goldeye for another excellent lunch prior to heading home. I personally found the experience with this group of eager participants stimulating and rewarding. Wishing all participants nothing but success in all their future photo endeavours.
As always...comments are always welcome.