Winter Hiking

Dani and I went to Kananaskis to do some snowshoeing, but by the time we got there, there wasn’t any snow! After pulling onto highway 40 off the Trans Canada I was pretty disappointed at the lack of snow. Even among the trees and areas that don’t even receive any sunlight, it was brown grass as far as the eye can see. I’ve been there enough times in the spring to know that even when that area is barren, further SW would still have some, so we made our way down to Upper Kananaskis Lake.

The lake was still frozen, scattered with ice fisherman braving the insane wind blowing across the ice. The trailhead was worn down to the gravel, and past that seemed to be more ice than anything else. We decided to leave the snowshoes, strapped on our ice grips and away we went. The walk was really nice, nothing difficult or dangerous to contend with so ended up being just a nice winter hike. I didn’t take many pictures, most of my artistic attention was spent trying to film these amazing snow-tornadoes that kept forming over the ice. I’ve been trying (not succeeding) to remember to always capture at least a small amount of video on every adventure I go on. I think a years worth of 10 seconds here and 10 seconds there all stitched together I could get a pretty sweet yearly video. My vision isn’t a fast paced action type video, just a peaceful, artistic representation of the beauty of nature. Slow motion dancing auroras, waves crashing against rocks, snownadoes, that kinda thing all played to some calming classical symphony. So you’ve all got that to look forward to haha.

I went on a 50km road bike ride last February to kick off my cycling season. February. Now here we are again, in the middle of a ‘super el-nino’ and once again I feel like winter just passed us by. I for one am sick of brown grass and constant wind. Hopefully next winter we actually get a winter. I work a full time job, have a house to take care of, a girlfriend to keep happy. It’s stupid to live in Canada and have to travel for 2+ hours just to find a suitable location to go snowshoeing, but hey, the seasons is very quickly coming to an end so if I’m going to scratch this snowshoe itch I’m going to have to do just that.

These pictures below are pretty much the only still photos I took during the hike. It’s just two different takes on the same subject, an ice pyramid that broke over an old stump. It was actually quite neat and I spent a long time just enjoying looking at it, complimenting the mountain behind it. Sometimes in winter it’s hard to find a nice focal point in the foreground, snow covering most everything that can be used in the warmer months. I do not like ‘simplistic’ winter photos, so am usually  happy to take whatever kind of cool natural phenomenon comes my way to use as a subject.

Lance Edwards-Hampton


Introverted Photographers

Had a photo booth set up for the Town of Crossfield Family Day event. The event was initially supposed to be a sled party outside, but weeks of warm weather melted all the snow and we had to use a plan “B” which was human curling and other activities held at the Curling Rink. Quite a few people showed up considering how short notice the event ended up being with the change of plans, but less than I was expecting wandered upstairs to take advantage of my set. Had 15 groups sit down for photos total, so I suppose it wasn’t that bad a turn out. The whole event only lasted 2 hours, and from watching people be hurled down the ice as human curling stones, I can honestly say I would also have rather done that than come upstairs to have my photo taken.

I had a lot of fun planning and setting up my scene. Most of my shoots with clients are outdoor location shoots, so this was a fun change. Since it was originally supposed to be a sled party my original plan consisted of using sleds and other outdoor family activity stuff as props, but decided to stick with my original plan of using family fun oriented props and think it turned out really well. All the feedback I received after mailing out peoples photos was positive, so seems like people enjoyed it.

I think a more outgoing person could have gone out and convinced more people to come up and take advantage of the booth, but that’s just not who I am. When I was younger I used to be a lot more social than I am now. I was always out with people, enjoying each others company. Then as I started getting older I started keeping more and more to just myself and my family, focusing on my own things, mainly photography and lately fitness as well. It seems logical that if you want to be successful at something then you should focus on it. Live it, dream it, be the best at it that you can be. At this stage in my life I’m beginning to think that might not be the best strategy. I believe that extroverted, outgoing, borderline arrogant types of people will have a much easier path to success than us reserved introverted folk, regardless of talent. You could be the best photographer in the entire world and it still wouldn’t matter if you didn’t hold peoples attention on a personal level. Portrait/family photography is an extremely personal business., about as personal as it gets actually. Something I read a long time ago that has always stuck is “it’s more important to click with the client than it is to click the shutter” and I truly believe that to be true. I think I probably seem like a fun outgoing person while out on a normal location shoot with clients, but that’s just because i’m generally in my own element, outdoors taking pictures.

This Family Day event showed me that I need to work on my ‘people’ skills when I’m not in my element. I don’t think I came across as unpleasant or anything, but definitely didn’t come across as friendly and exciting.  If I want to be a successful photographer, whether it’s taking pictures of people, taking pictures of things or places for people. or taking fine art landscape/adventure pictures and then trying to sell the prints to people, I’m going to need to work on my interpersonal skills when I’m in the type of situation that I don’t naturally excel in. I know for certain that I’d have better luck at my farmers markets selling prints if I was more outgoing, and probably would get more commercial type of work if I spent more time on and was better at social situations. I think there will be a time in my career when I’ll have to have meetings with people who could change my life/direction in an instant, and it would be horrible to mess that up because I’ve spent all my energy over the years trying to perfect my art and lost my social skills while I was at it.

I’m more exhausted after two hours of socializing with a group of people, than I am from 10 hours of intense mountaineering and strenuous physical activity. That will never change, it’s just what being introverted is all about. The trick is figuring out how to fool new people into thinking you’re a fun, interesting guy even when they first meet you in a situation where your personality doesn’t naturally shine, then hopefully they’ll hire you and get the chance to witness what it’s like when you’re shining for real. These pictures below are Dani and I sitting in my Family Day set. I got some really good pictures of other people having fun with it, bringing their own energy to my pictures,  but I’ll just stick with a tired Dani and I instead of a bunch of pictures of random people for this post. I sent each person 2 copies of their photo, both a color and black and white (what I offer clients in a standard shoot) so may as well post both on here as well.

Lance Edwards-Hampton

Badland Adventure

Lance Edwards-Hampton

Spent yesterday with Dani, exploring around the badlands.

With the many dozens of times i’ve been to the Drumheller area, there’s still a lot that I hadn’t yet experienced. Had never been to the Royal Tyrrell Museum before.  I know that’s probably most peoples express-purpose of traveling to Drumheller, but even at a young age when my grandma used to take us through the area, we were always more interested in hiking in the canyons than we were going to the museum or doing anything in town.

The main point of this trip was I wanted to do some astro-photography in Dorothy and East Coulee. It had been a few years since I was last there, and with a new moon figured we should go in the daytime to scout out the locations since there is no moon light to let you see in the dark and help figure out what you’re doing and looking at. First stop was the hoodoos, which I’m glad we stopped at before dusk because my astro-photography there was twice thwarted by clouds. Next was the East Coulee bridge. Last time I was there I don’t think it was fenced off as extensively as it now is, and decided not to bother going back at night. I would have had to trespass to get a great photo. Living where I do in Alberta, surrounded by nothing but farm land, no parks, no recreation area, no public land at all, I have to try extremely hard to not trespass for my photography. I have to drive for a good hour in any direction to come across some quality public land use areas, and figured since I had done just that already, may as well not end up trespassing regardless. We didn’t scout out Dorothy in the day light, although I kind of wish we had because as ridiculous as it sounds I couldn’t find the grain elevator I wanted to photograph. Don’t underestimate the darkness in the country during a new moon. Also couldn’t find the road going the churches, so had to walk a bit and make my way there on foot. I probably could have kept driving around looking for the road and elevator, but there’s a few houses with a few people who live right there and I didn’t want my lights to annoy them too much. We ended up talking to one of the locals, and apparently they’ve had a lot of vandalism recently. That bothers me a lot. A historic area, open to the public 24/7 full of historic buildings that the locals spend a lot of time and effort maintaining for tourists pleasure, senselessly vandalized and disrespected. Alberta, and Canada in general doesn’t have a lot of history that’s still standing. I did lots of stupid stuff when I was young, but damaging something that cannot be replaced takes stupidity to a whole new level. Here are my shots of the Milky-Way over Dorothy and my Hoodoo picture taken before the sun went down.

The next set of pictures were taken earlier in the day than the above ones, but the ones above are the more artistic (less touristy) ones and are the focus of this post so I figured I’d post them first. This was my first time at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and I enjoyed it. Nothing super exciting to say about it though. Not being allowed a tripod inside inhibited my abilities to get a great shot of Dani and I together in front of some cool fossils, or take any sort of awesome artistic photos for that matter. After the museum and before making it to East Coulee, we stopped at the Rosedale Suspension Bridge. Dani is terrified of heights (although I keep making her do things that involve being high up) and was really impressed by how far she made it out. We snapped a few pictures and walked out on the bridge, but didn’t completely cross it, or stay for very long because I was anxious to head further East while there was still some sunset-light in the sky.  I’m pretty sure I started this post by saying I’ve been to the Drumheller area dozens of times, and every time I go instead of feeling as though there’s nothing left to see, I always come back feeling like I want to go again because there’s always more to see. Drumheller is just the surface of the Alberta badlands. They stretch for hundreds of kilometers along the Red Deer river valley, and included in my travel desires is a road trip south to Dinosaur Provincial Park, Writing on Stone, chase down some Prong horns by Medicine hat. The list goes on and on of wonderful things to do in this province, without even having to go to the mountains.

Lance Edwards-Hampton

Wildlife Photographers

Some wildlife photographers must have nerves of pure steel.

I got within around 20 feet of these guys. Even these small rams it took me quite some time to work up the courage to get that close. I justified it with telling myself there was a small cliff to my right I could jump off if need be, and several small trees close by for cover. Also adding to my courage was knowing the truck was less than 50 yards away.

Earlier in the day I spotted two other rams. One of whom was much bigger than these guys, but also much further away from the road and the safety of the truck. I started walking towards them, checking my surroundings as I was going. It was an open field in between the truck and them, no trees, cliffs, or cover of any kind. The snow was deep, so running wasn’t a possibility either.  I slowly worked my way towards them. The smaller one eventually went scampering off into the woods behind them, but the bigger one just laid right down and watched me watching him, making my way ever closer.

The time finally came when I decided I was as close as I felt like getting, which disappointingly wasn’t close enough for a nice, crisp shot of him. He had looked at me a few times, shaking his head as if to let me know that he could hold his own against other animals that are much, much larger than me. Part of me felt as though a charging ram would make a pretty sweet photo, but the other sensible part of me felt as though those curls could do some damage. I missed what could have been a beautiful shot of the largest ram I’d ever seen due to my nerves getting the better of me.  Maybe if I hadn’t forgotten my mace, maybe if there was some cover around and I wasn’t completely exposed, maybe a million other things I could have gotten the shot. The thing is it seems to happen more often than not where everything doesn’t work out perfectly to get the shot, what happens more often is I’d have to put myself in danger to make it happen.

I have a HUGE respect for wildlife photographers. I consider it to be the most difficult form of photography. Anyone can climb a mountain, anyone can go on a harrowing adventure in the wilderness, but aside from freak acts of nature like rock-slides and avalanches, there is not any other kind of photography than wildlife photography where you have so little control over your subject. You can’t tell a wild animal where to stand or how to pose, how to act or even when to show up. It’s pure luck, at the mercy of nature without being able to manipulate the situation or set up the perfect shot.

Lance Edwards-Hampton

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Went to the world famous Abraham Lake in search of methane ice bubbles, and didn’t come back disappointed! Had been there once before, but went too early in the season and the lake wasn’t frozen yet. This time the conditions were perfect.

I’ve not yet done much for winter adventure sports/activities, so walking out onto the open ice, being able too see through the few feet of ice, dozen feet of yet-to-freeze water under it all the way to the lake bed was pretty exhilarating. So clear it almost feels like your floating. The sound of ice cracking, not beneath your feet no, but giant sheets of ice shifting and cracking all over the lake, loudly, feeling the vibration of it all is one for the nerves, knowing you’re a long ways away from any sort of solid ground. Almost otherworldly.

Will definitely be going back. Could spend days exploring around this place in the winter and still wouldn’t be able to see all it has to offer, but until next time, hope you enjoy my take on the famous and highly photographed Ice Bubbles of Abraham Lake.

Lance Edwards-Hampton