I’d been wanting to go to Lake O’Hara for 3 years but it’s insanely hard to get a reservation out there. They have 30 sites, you can book up to 3 months in advance, and they recommend you start trying 3 months to the day. They only take phone reservations and it’s very hard to get through. Even if you do it’s typical for all of the sites to be booked within the first hour.
To make things even more difficult I wanted to go when the larch trees were turning yellow. Although a conifer, the larch is a deciduous tree and loses its leaves in the autumn. Nature photographers think of these trees like beer; They look good, they smell good, and you'd crawl over your own mother to photograph one! Unfortunately the lighting wasn't great so now I have a reason to go back next year.
The camp is located about 10 minutes away from Lake O'Hara itself. The lake is glacier fed and looks amazing. That's not all though! There are lots of hiking trails that start near the lake and lead to magical places filled with waterfalls, more lakes, fantastic views, and unicorns (probably). Some of the trails are very restricted and only 4 groups are allowed to hike them per day.
The campground is community based with a shared fire pit. At night everyone would gather around and share stories about where they've been. I ended up meeting two awesome people: Dani Lefrancois and Callum Snape; both of which are incredible photographers. Even though I thought I might die of hypothermia at times it was an amazing trip. I will definitely be heading back.
When I was starting out I came across Dan's photos and was instantly amazed. At the time he was doing some heavy processing and I found his images incredibly imaginative and it made me rethink what an artist could convey through photography.
Dan has since toned down his processing but his images are more powerful than ever in terms of expression and mood. While most of the photographers I follow are shooting famous scenes Dan is out scouring the Prairies and I often find his work more intriging and just as stunning.
To see more of Dan's work check out his website.
All images in this entry are © Dan Jurak. Used with permission.
I've always wanted to visit Vancouver Island, which is almost as far West as you can go in Canada. It houses wicked coastlines, ancient cedar forests, and armies of wildlife. If it were a nation their flag would feature an otter surfing on a killer whale and they would be led by a bear instead of a person. I stayed on the North end of the island near a small town called Tofino which is moderately transient and full of tourists and surfers.
This wasn’t meant to be a photography trip; I pictured overcast skies and only brought my camera just-in-case. I booked a flight to Comox British Columbia, rented a car, and drove across the whole island which was crazy beautiful. I highly recommend renting a car because the trip would take forever in a golf cart. During my driving adventure I saw several bears, passed through Cathedral Grove, and went by some gorgeous lakes.
I caught a water taxi to Refuge Cove, which is inaccessible by land vehicles, for a short hiking trip. On my way I passed by sea otters (which float on their backs while holding hands to form rafts) and a pod of killer whales. It really feels like civilization hasn’t been there long enough to screw it up yet.
The native culture is celebrated in the area too. The Haida are known for Totem Poles and their art which features psychedelic beavers. I read up on them and they’re like the vikings of pre-Canada. Their war canoes were built out of cedar trees and some were large enough to accomodate 60 viking-like paddlers.
Tofino isn’t just a bunch of indiginous people wandering around unspoiled wilderness though. They have a very progressive tourism industry. The food truck behind the surf shop had world class fish tacos. The accomodation was celebrity worthy. My favorite moments though were walking along beaches with my friend. We would look in tide pools and pet the starfish then RUN LIKE HELL FROM THE RISING TIDES!. One of the best trips I’ve been on.
I'll probably always classify myself as an aspiring photographer even if I become world famous. I've had some very positive affirmations recently, even some commercial success, and I've been thinking about getting my name out there more. Then I started thinking about why I got into photography; is it because I wanted to develop amazing social media strategies? Is it because I wanted to spend all my time at the printers? When I really thought about it I decided that what I love doing is getting out in nature and taking pictures -- screw becoming famous! I have the feeling that if I keep doing what I'm passionate about the rest will figure itself out and I'll be happier.
The world seems to glow with the fires of fifty burning suns. The temperature is always pleasant and it’s always calm with just the right amount of cloud cover.
What it would look like if Tim Burton made a movie about nuclear winter. This happens to me even when the forecast calls for “mostly sunny with periods of rainbows”.
I used to seriously believe this was happening to me. These days I remind myself that if the weather was crazy beautiful all the time no one would want to look at nature photographs (they'd probably switch their desktop backgrounds to wookies juggling rabid ewoks). Although now that I think about it a wookie juggling rabid ewoks would be pretty cool.
He has an over-abundance of self esteem and I’m pretty sure he believes that he is Batman. This certified crazy dog is a Shephard/Husky/Flying Squirrel cross.
This dog is terrified by the existence of any bipedal creature including humans and velociraptors. Because she is so fraidy her adventures are always frought with danger
remember the first night I brought Jasper home. It was almost three years ago and I decided that I wanted to get a dog. I fell in love with this little Shepherd / Husky mix from the Humane Society. After a few meetings, interviews, and providing stamped engineering documents describing the technical details of my fence they let me take him home. Upon arrival he began sniffing every room in the house in rapid succession. When he got to the living room he started running around in circles. He went faster and faster until you couldn’t see him anymore. At one point he was spinning so fast that I thought he was in a state of flux breaking apart the space-time continiuum. That was my first and only moment where I thought we might have been better off with a calmer pet like a clam.
Having a high energy dog changed my life. All of a sudden my main forms of entertainment were
walking the dog, going to the dog park, or attending agility classes for the dog. Somedays it was a chore for sure but I found a profound happiness in the energy of this animal. I’d take him to a field and he’d be the happiest dog ever; I’d lock him in his kennel and he’d be the happiest dog ever; the vet would stick needles in his bum and he’d be the happiest dog ever. The fact that I will probably never own a Ferrari didn't seem worth being sad about after being around him.
I believe that it's always good to give everything 100% (except donating blood) and Jasper did just that when I moved to the forest; he seems determined to sniff every tree, chase every squirrel, and eat every stick. I felt he was adjusting to country life well but the person I was living with wanted to add a second dog to the mix. Not just any dog though; she had her heart set on a white Shepherd / Husky mix she found living in foster care. We drove 300km to go visit the white dog but I didn't think she was a good fit. My friend picked her up the next day.
Both dogs are reservation-rescues and both had problems early in life. Saturn is timid of people but gets along well with other dogs. I've been
working hard with her to overcome her fear issues and she has been making lots of good progress. One of the amazing things about animals is their ability to drastically change their behavior with proper training. I'm happy to report that Jasper has been a perfect gentlemen and now our dogs are best friends too.
As Saturn becomes more comfortable with me her personality has been showing itself more and it's pretty adorable. She is the great Killer of Bugs and watching her chase butterflies or play with grasshoppers is really entertaining. When you rub her tummy she spreads her legs and makes everyone involved feel really uncomfortable. I'll have to be extra careful not to lose her in the Winter because she kind of blends in with snow.
I'll keep up with the puppy reports every so often to let everyone know how they're progressing and inform you of any new adventures they have. I'm off to another puppy class today to teach Saturn to be less fraidy and it's actually graduation day.
When I moved to the country I knew things were going to be different. Although I had encountered wildlife living on the edge of the city I was warned that it would be more extreme in the foothills; owls the size of pterodactyls would swoop down and carry away the dog, there would be cougars hiding in trees waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims, and if you weren't home bears might sneak into the house to make themselves sammidges.
I also learned that most people in the area name their acreages. I decided that I needed to name mine too but it's a lot harder than you think. I tried to brainstorm ideas but nothing was sticking. I'd come up with a name like "Happy Tails Ranch" and then shoot it down right away -- it sounds like a brothel house and I don't really have a ranch.
In the meantime I had my first wildlife encounter on the acreage. I opened the door to let my dog Jasper out before bed and he immediately bolted across the yard in pursuit of something. Luckily, I called Jasper back and he returned to the house. Whatever he was chasing ran over a hill in the forest and started making a very strange animal sound. It sounded like a dog crossed with a cat that was possessed by a poltergeist with a smoker's cough. This went on for almost 20 minutes.
The next morning I was out on the deck having coffee and the animal from the night before was wandering through the yard. It turned out it was a fox and this particular fox had a den right on the edge of my property. What's more is this fox was a mommy fox who had three pups at home still (no wonder she was so mad at our dog). The whole thing inspired me to come up with the name: The Barking Fox. I like it because it will remind me of the first nights I was out here and it kind of sounds like a pub. Now I just need to make a cool sign :)
The fox has since moved dens but I still see her a couple times a week and she still barks at me. She kept her pups near the den in thick bush so I didn't get great photos (I also didn't want to intrude on their privacy) but it was fun watching them play from a distance.