Playing Around

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Went out last night after bowling because there was supposed to be Northern Lights.

It was also supposed to be a clear night, but after only about an hour in the country the clouds totally took over and I called it a night.

I knew the clouds were coming so didn’t really feel like driving around looking for something cool to put in my foreground, so at my go-to spot for looking at the sky I decided to just try some light painting.

It was a spur of the moment thing and I didn’t have anything to make light except my lighter, and being too windy to keep the flame lit had to flick it a bunch of times to make anything out of it. Got this one on my second attempt. Not spectacular or anything but still kinda neat. Will be carrying a small dim flashlight with me on future night outings to try some more intricate light painting.

Although I definitely consider myself still a novice at astro-photography, I am doing much more planning than I did last year to get myself ready for night photography season. Have a few locations picked out that I think are going to turn out amazing, and most are within 2 hours away. The main hindrance to photography where I live is that there’s no public land anywhere, and even the closest provincial parks to me are not suitable for night time photography.

I know some people might think that it’s crazy to go on a 2 hour (one way) drive just to try photographing the night sky when you have to go to work the next morning, but I’ve gotta do something to up my game a little. I also don’t want to go into Banff area even though it’s about the same distance as my locations, because I assume if there’s aurora forecast there’d be dozens (if not hundreds) of photographers who had that idea already and would be lined up on Lake Minnewanka like the paparazzi. I like to think I’m more original than that.

Last winter I pretty much only went out when there was supposed to be northen lights, and that meant a lot of time I was putting my energy into it even if the conditions weren’t ideal. I’d go out even if it was cloudy or the moon was out just to see the aurora, and because of this i’m sure I missed some of the best nights to watch the stars with a crisp clear light and no moon out. This winter I vow to put more effort into the night in general, and not just the Northern Lights. Hopefully this also helps me improve my skills at this most difficult form of photography.

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

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Kananascoyote

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Nope, not a coyote. A Kananascoyote.

Although they might be genetically similar to the coyote’s we have here on the prairies (or the forestry), a coyote that’s grown up and lives in the park system is most certainly a different animal than the type I see most often.

You see, a prairie coyote has grown up witnessing its brothers and sisters all being shot and killed by humans, so to even be able to grow into an adult, has to very early on associate humans with death and develop a strong fear of us. Needless to say, I don’t usually even try photographing coyotes around here because as soon as it knows you know it’s there, it will be gone.

I was pretty thrilled to have spotted this guy deep in the Alberta Parks system (south end of the Smith Dorrien) and even more thrilled when it didn’t just run away as soon as we got close. Never been 10′ away from a coyote before so obviously had a few thoughts go through my head when I noticed it wasn’t scared of us.

First thought was rabies, but it didn’t seem disoriented or agitated, nothing out of the ordinary except for lack of fear (which is a sign of rabies) and second though was it had been fed by people before, so associated us with food. I dismissed that idea after a while because it wasn’t actually interested in us at all. I don’t think it looked at me once the whole time, just kept casually walking down the road sniffing it’s grass seeds.

Let’s hope this beautiful creature never wanders out of the protection of our park system, because it wont have a chance.

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Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

Sunshine!

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Was cooking some steak and potatoes on the the barbecue last night, watching the sun start to go down and decided there was probably going to be a nice sunset and I should be out with my camera somewhere.

Cranked up the heat to speed up the process and 5 minutes later I was bringing my food inside, grabbing my camera and tri-pod and heading back out the door.

Made it to the outskirts of town, pulled over, grabbed my camera and tri-pod and literally ran over to these trees to snap some pics. Had about 30 seconds (not exaggerating) to shoot these beauties before the sun went down below the horizon and what was a glowing gold wonderland seconds before turned into a sad looking dead brown/orange color without the glorious suns rays shining onto the leaves. Didn’t even have time to unzip my tri-pod case.

Within the past 5 days I’ve been to the mountains twice, driven hundreds of kms and hiked almost 20 in search of the perfect autumn photo. Both times, although it was nice, I was thwarted by over-cast skies to get a maginificent photograph of the color here in Alberta.

Will have pictures of my latest mountain adventure in search of golden larches soon, but for now here’s this as a reminder that you don’t need to go on some grand excursion in search of the perfect photo, sometimes all you need is to follow your gut and head into the country (or city park) for 10 minutes at the perfect time of day.

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

Few and Far between

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Places like this are actually somewhat few and far between around here.

Sure there’s lots of aspen stands, but I figure if it wouldn’t make a great photo when everything was green, then just because there’s some yellow and orange added in doesn’t all of a sudden make it a great location. You’ve gotta search and search and search some more to try getting a nice autumn photo here in southern Alberta. Suppose it makes actually capturing one all that more rewarding when you actually do though.

This would have been a whole lot nicer had the sun popped out for me when photographing, but i’m still pretty happy I ended up here at the right time to capture this.

Heading into the backcountry on Sunday to try finding some Larches. Larch don’t do well in a spruce dominated forest because they need more sun than the spruce, so the shade of other trees actually inhibits the growth of the larch. Because of this the deciduous conifer only does well and can be seen in large stands at higher altitudes this far south, still, with my hiking boots, camera in hand a few clif bars in my bad I’m pretty determined to go find some. Wish me luck.

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

Federal Grain Limited

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This here is a grain elevator.

Although I like most old dilapidated elevators in general, this one really caught my attention because it’s a “Federal Grain Limited” elevator, which I had never seen before.

Upon Googling Federal Grain I learned that it used to be the largest elevator company in Canada until it disbanded in 1972. That means this elevator has been standing for a very minimum of 44 years, and that’s only if it was build in the last year the company existed, although I suspect it’s much, much older than that.

I’m going to try finding more info on this elevator, but to be honest I have no idea where I took this picture and (without putting too much effort into it yet) cannot figure out exactly where it was. I think it’s by Yorkton, Saskatchewan but even searching all the near by towns and hamlets can’t find this exact elevator. I know it’s NE of Regina somewhere along highway 10 so I’ll find it eventually. I took this picture almost a month ago, so now kinda wish I had wrote down exactly where I was at the time.

Interestingly if you google “Federal grain Elevator” this exact one shows up in a few photos, but they’re on Pinterest and don’t offer any info about it. (or maybe they do and I just don’t know anything about pinterest). Either way the photos of this that I’ve found on the internet aren’t terribly old, and even in them it seems to be in slightly better shape than in my photo. The roof that’s visibly sagging in my photo is straight in the other photos.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the next time I find myself near the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border in this exact spot, there’s going to be nothing left but farmers field. Pretty glad I got it when I did, because I suspect there isn’t many of these left out there.

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com

Because Jeep

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Generally speaking there are two ways to reach high altitude locations in the Canadian Rockies that exceed the tree line.

One consists of hours of grueling hiking (the best way) and the other is one of the many boring gondola rides that take you to the top of a mountain with hundreds of fat lazy tourists with big cameras that they don’t actually know how to use.

For rich people there’s probably helicopters, but for us regular folk there’s also a lesser known third way, driving!

Unknown to almost all of even the most adventurous people around, there are indeed a few places you can legally take the right vehicle to insane elevations. I’m not going to specify where, because 1-without a detailed map you’re not going to find it anyway, and 2-despite the fact I’m posting a picture of my Jeep in a meadow above the treeline on a mountain, I actually care a lot about the environment and preservation and the thought of a bunch of guys heading into the back-country with jacked up trucks, trying to get them on top of a mountain tearing up the ground, isn’t exactly something I want to put into the world.

Sure is fun though.

Lance Edwards-Hampton
http://www.insaneshotsphotography.com