Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Yukon has a desert. Really. Who knew?

Time for some landscapes. These are between Whitehorse and Carcross. This is a very pretty drive as the leaves are changing colour, with some nice lakes. The surprise just outside Carcross is a desert. Truly.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Yukon trip people

Part of traveling is the stuff you see, expected or not. But when you travel with a group part of the experience is the other people. As I've said elsewhere, I don't really think of myself as a people photographer, but I do like to shoot the other people when I'm in a group.

I'd known Katie from a previous workshop, and had just met Dalia briefly at the fireworks workshop. I'd never met Judy, and of course all our driver/guides (Sandra, Alicia, and Tommy) were new to me. I've known Neil for a long time now, before his current gig as a pro photographer started.

We had a really good time together. There was lots to chat about. The group had travelled extensively, held lots of different jobs, had very different photography experience and expectations, so there was lots to talk about. Of course, there was some napping in the van, (mainly me, if truth be told) but there were some other people doing the nod. At least until the next cry of "stop the van!"

Some photos of these people, in whatever order blogger assembles them in. Of course there is some background. I know that just kills you, but hang in there.

Near Miles Canyon.

On the road to Carcrosse

Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

We almost had to physically restrain her. We weren't allowed to touch the animals. Not even just to stroke their soft noses only once, as they poked their noses through the big fence, begging for it.

On the road from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

Bonanza Creek, near Dawson City.

Our guide spotted a beaver.


I'm glad he didn't break out his version of 'the hills are alive...'

It never would have occurred to me to wrap myself in a sleeping bag, and scramble up to the top of a garbage container to take in the view. But it would be worth it. This is the very north end of the park.

They had spotted some mountain goats or something.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Yukon hangover

It's been a busy few days. Unpacking clothes and gear was the easy part. Merging more than 6K photos from the external drive to the desk computer took some time, and lots of shuffling to make space. It's become apparent that I need a much bigger external hard drive, and research is ongoing. I still need to keyword.

There was a 2 day photo shoot where I was a Sherpa, which is more fun than it sounds. By the end of it I was running on fumes. A couple good nights of sleep, and a quiet day yesterday and I'm feeling much more perky.

Curtis is happy to see me, and determined to make up lost cuddle time. I'm not sure if Celina believes I'm the same human come back, or a different one. In either case she's trying to break me to her will.

I've made a pass through the photos. I think I can get several aurora time lapse movies. There are a bunch of panorama shots I'll need to play with, and one of them will take a while since each frame is itself an HDR shot. The individual shots look great, I hope it all gets stitched together ok. There was that huge Pelly River panorama; it looks stunning on desktop, but I think I can trim it down a bit so it will display ok. Some of the aurora shots have shooting stars in them.

I'm thinking what I'll do is post the good ones to my blog as I work through them, so you'll see Yukon shots over the next little while, in addition to whatever else I come up with along the way. I don't think anyone wants to scroll through several hundred shots all at once. Some of these shots are almost certainly going to end upon on my photo blog.

When I left it was summer. Hot, smokey, flower-blooming, bee buzzing summer. When I got back it was fall. I had one day to catch up on garden photos, then we got a hard frost. HARD! Linda wrapped up some of the plants but a few didn't make it. Here is the only photo we will ever have of this particular dark red dahlia. I was so looking forward to capturing the bees all over it, and now that will never happen.

Here's another Tombstone shot, and an aurora from our last night in Dawson.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oh Yukon, you stole my heart

Wow! I'm a word guy, and I'm having trouble here. As you might have gathered from previous blogs and other social media, I had a terrific experience in Yukon this last week. I'm still unpacking it, and Curtis is helping. I think he missed me.

In a someday sort of way, I've always wanted to see more of Canada's north. Before this, the furthest north I've been is High Level, AB (Vegas of the north) on a work trip. Lets just say there isn't much to see there.

When Neil offered a week long photo trip to Yukon I jumped on it. There was a proposed itinerary, but I knew from experience that it would probably change depending on weather and more particularly the aurora forecast. If the itinerary had been "get off the plane, do photo stuff with a side of eat and sleep, then get on the plane", I'd have been good to go.

I've seen the aurora a few times as faint green lights. Once in Clinton BC and another time someplace in Saskatchewan I've seen them so bright you could almost read by them, though why you'd want to look down instead of up is beyond me. A chance to photo them where they live was not to be turned down. Yes, I have photos and hopefully some time lapse. Stay tuned. I want to do them on the desktop.

What I didn't expect was Tombstone Territorial Park. This is where I'm having trouble with words. At times I was completely overcome with emotion and nearly in tears. It was that beautiful, and resonated that strongly with me. The light, the shapes of the landscapes, the colours, the silence. I didn't want to get back in the van. It isn't pretty like a flower, or scenic like Nova Scotia, or majestic like lots of British Columbia, or anything that most people would consider gorgeous. I've got lots of photos that I'll be sharing over the next little while, but keep in mind the difficulty is not finding something great in the camera view finder. The difficulty is framing it, when there is something equally great right beside it, and more beside that, and look over there, now turn around and OMG.

It isn't just Tombstone. We were driven from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and stopped lots of times along the way. Again, there were some landscapes that can only be described as stunning. I had a trial pano on the laptop, but it was 7.5 units wide for every unit tall, and I was shooting portrait. It was unworkable on the laptop, but I'll have another go on the desktop. I'll probably have to break it in two, unless someone out there wants a print, say 2 feet high and 15 feet wide.

From my perspective, I packed my stuff, got dropped off at the airport, was whisked to Whitehorse, the waiting driver took us to Sundog Retreat, food appeared, we were taken various places to photograph, more food, whisked back to Calgary where I was picked up again. All was seamless, and all was amazing.

Life isn't so simple. There is a LOT of detail behind this, so lets unpack a little. Neil Zeller arranged it all based on his frequent trips to the area, knowing who to contact. He knows what photographers want, and where to go to get it, subject to weather. He puts a lot of thought and planning into his workshops and these trips, and provides tremendous value. I've learned so much from him, and continue to do so.

Air North is part of the trip, and not just transportation. (Warm cookies!!) I know other airlines wouldn't let us tape material to the windows of the plane so our cameras wouldn't pick up light reflections from inside.

Sundog Retreat had a driver to take us to their fabulous retreat. This is the place to go if you want to get away from it all, and I do mean all, except the comforts of home. The cabins are clean, comfortable, well equipped, and almost all of them have a great view for the aurora. There are even luxury viewing cabins so you can see the aurora and stay warm. Linda is a comforts of home kind of girl, and she would be happy there.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is a great place to visit, and Lindsay gave us a special treat. (And you wondered how I got those Lynx photos!) Next time, there might be an even more special treat, but that's being worked on, so mum's the word. Just down the road is Bean North, a lovely little coffee shop. I brought a bag home and it's tasty indeed.

I want to go back to Dawson, and stay at the Aurora Inn again. The rooms were perfect for us, the food was wonderful, and the staff beyond helpful. A personal thing here. You know I'm tall. The shower is mounted well above head level. You have no idea how nice that is, when in some places I've stayed it's at chest height.

As an aside, all the food everywhere was wonderful. I didn't have a bad meal the entire time.

Klondike Exploration was awesome for us. Their drivers Alicia (Whitehorse to Dawson), Sandra (around Dawson and Bonanza Creek), and Tommy (Tombstone) were above and beyond in every way. They told us about stuff, pointed to places, had suggestions, and most importantly stopped when we asked them to. (Usually phrased as "STOP THE VAN!!!") We had so much fun, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves too. We strived to be not the typical tour group. (What happens on the road, stays on the road!)

My fellow roadies Katie, Judy, and Dalia helped make the trip fun. We got to know each other in a way you can only do when on the road. Several people told us that lots of people go to Yukon, and get it into their blood. Some never leave. Some go back to arrange their affairs, then settle into the Yukon life. I'm not sure I'm one of those. I know for a fact Linda would not live in a home without running water, but lots of people do and like it. (Did you know Dawson has a writer in residence? Unfortunately I'm not qualified to apply yet.)

Linda had to face the cat mini-horde alone while I was gone. It all seems to have worked out, though I'm not sure Celina even noticed I was gone, and doesn't seem to care that I've returned.

I am sure I'm going back. The question is when and for how long.

Here's just a couple of photos. I need to do some shuffling to get them on the main computer.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Yukon to home travel day

That was a long, long, utterly spectacular day, and I am a heap of tired. It started with aurora on the dome above Dawson, then a trip up the Dempster that melted my brain, then some of the best aurora's I've seen in my life. I have more than 6,000 photos to go through.

The main activity today involves packing and airports.

To hold you over, here is the first photo after we left the bridge at the start of the Dempster. Only the first, almost exactly as it came from the camera.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

If it's Tuesday, that must be Dawson

I'm beginning to lose track a bit. We were up late last night on the dome above Dawson. Maybe that should be capitalized; one of the locals would know. We had a tour of Bonanza Creek and a bit of Dawson yesterday, plus a bit of Dawson itself. There is more to this town than I had suspected.

Gotta be quick, going for breakfast a few blocks from here. They've got some of the best coffee I've ever tasted, and I can't wait to try their food.

Isn't this scenery hard to take? Gotta go.


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