The Un-Professional Photographers Approach to Harvest Moon photos

The afternoon before the Harvest Moon, discuss the photographic opportunity with other photographers. Determine exactly when moonrise will be (7:28 pm here) and what path it will take over your area (seemingly across the centre of town along Highway 12). Analyze all the different possible locations you could go to figure out which one will be best.

When you get home from work, eat, then fall sleep on the couch until 7:07.


Rush around, slap a long lens on and a stuff a memory card in your camera, rush out the door with your dog. Drive to a brand new location you had not previously considered or analyzed.

Realize you have no appropriate tripod. Luckily, find a point & shoot gorillapod in the backseat. Attach the not strong enough gorillapod. Look around for a minute, realize you’re going to have to get on top of the car. Climb out the window. Position camera with the lens propped on the lens cap on top Subaru’s handy roof rack bars, obviously designed for unorganized moon photographers.

Start to shiver while you wait. And wait. And wait, because you’re there 20 minutes before the moon is even set to start rising, and you're parked below a high ridge, which means you won’t actually see the moon when it first starts to come up anyway. Scramble back through the window and find a forgotten jacket, thank the universe for the person who forgot their jacket in your car. Curse yourself for wearing giant boots that you had to remove before climbing on top of the car.

Climb back onto the top of the car. Sit. Wait. Take a few test shots. Text your brother with questions about when the moon is supposed to rise and if it's supposed to be North East or South East. Glance up and realize the moon is already a couple of inches over the ridge now, way off to the North East. Not anywhere near the building and trees you wanted it to be behind. Scramble to get the camera and yourself back in the car, rush down the road 100 metres until it looks like the moon is coming up right in the spot you want it. Move the car 10 feet forward for good measure. Climb back up on top of the car.

The moon is not quite where you want it, shouldn’t have moved those last 10 feet.

Compose and start shooting anyway, work with what you got. Guessing at appropriate settings. Take lots of shots.

Once the moon is getting high, with just tiny bits of it behind the trees, google “shutter speed for moon photos”. Find out 1 second is WAAAAAAYYYY too long.


Knock it back to 1/50th, shoot some more. Once the moon is fully past the treetops do a couple handheld attempts and climb back inside the car, trying not to slam your frozen sock covered toes off anything.

Go home.

Dump photos.

Write a blog post about how embarrassingly unprepared you were for the adventure.

Lessons learned:

  • 1 second is way too long.
  • Scout your locations on nights before the full moon.
  • Google things you don’t know before you start shooting.

So here's the few shots that came out sort of interesting... 



Victoria, BC - 2017

Back in April I made a road trip out to Victoria, BC, with my parents. My sister flew out and met us for a few days as well. I hadn't been out to Vancouver Island since 2011, and it was so good to be back. I think I'd like to live there for awhile. A friend of mine, Angela Unsworth, moved out there recently and I'm living vicariously through her instagram posts. 

It rained all the way to Golden, the first leg of the journey, and we were hoping it wasn't going to be indicative of weather for the whole trip. We stopped A&W in Revelstoke, as is family tradition, and I snapped a couple cools shots of the train trestle and the main bridge (below). 

After Revy we made another stop between Sicamous and Salmon Arm for some more train shots (below).

After a quick stop in Salmon Arm we did our best to power through and get a good portion of the drive to Vancouver done. The next time we stopped was at Sowaqua Creek on the other side of the Coquihalla. Its a beautiful little spot just off the road, definitely worth a look around if you're in the area (below).

As we got closer to Vancouver I had to make sure we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls. I'm sure I'd been there as a kid, but I didn't remember anything about it, so I made sure to stop this time. It's a beautiful area, although the viewing area for the falls is kind of disappointing. They definitely didn't place the viewing platform in the "best" viewing spot, and as a result people still traipse around wherever they want to get a better view, so their attempt to protect the area hasn't really succeeded. That said, the creek coming down from the falls, and the surrounding forest are beautiful. It's a short, easy walk up to the falls and back, definitely worth stopping for (below). 

After the falls we powered on to Surrey where we spent the night. My sister had flown into Vancouver earlier in the day and met us in Surrey. The next morning, Easter Friday, we got up as early as we could so we could catch a decently early ferry to the island. While we waited at the Tsawassen Ferry Terminal I wandered around with Radar and snapped a few more shots. The ferry ride was fairly uneventful and I only snagged 1 good shot, the last one in this set (below). 

Once we were on the island we headed off to explore randomly until it was time to check in to our Air BnB in Central Saanich. We had fun just poking around the countryside for awhile. We stopped at an adorable little church, then headed off to Mount Douglas Park where we spent a couple of hours on the beach. Later in the evening we headed off to check out Parker Park, the closest dog friendly beach. Radar loved it. I think we both wish we could live near nice beaches (below).

The next day we spent almost the entire day at Butchart Gardens (below), where dogs are welcome! I Victoria and area are so much more dog friendly than Alberta, I wish Radar could come more places with me in Alberta.

The next day we watched the sunrise from Parker Park Beach, and then wandered around downtown Victoria for a bit, and then went back to Butchart Gardens in the afternoon again (below).

The next morning I spent several hours wandering around downtown Victoria with Ang, exploring cool alleys and shops and the water front (below). It was a fun morning and the weather was beautiful. I'm so glad we met up, I hadn't seen Ang since we finished uni and it was awesome to connect again. 

In the afternoon we explored Clover Point Park for awhile, and then the Butterfly Gardens in Saanich, and the Salish Sea Centre in Sidney, and then of course back to Parker Park in the evening for Radar (below). We actually saw a Momma Sea Otter and a couple of cubs romping on the beach, but I didn't have a telephoto lens with me, so we just watched and enjoyed the moment.

The following day we started our journey home, heading up to Nanaimo to check out Cathedral Grove, Goats on the Roof, and then up the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish and Shannon Falls (below).

We drove up to hope that evening and spent the night, and then continued on to Kelowna the next day. We had a pretty hairy drive over the Connector into Kelowna. Probably the worst blizzard we've ever traveled in (below). You couldn't see the lanes of the road at all, and at one point a couple of pickup trucks passed us and completely obliterated the windshield of the car with snow and slush, we couldn't see anything at all for several seconds. It was pretty scary. As we started to descend from the pass on the other side, it was gone as quickly as it had come and we were back into lovely Okanogan weather.

The next day we wandered around Kelowna a bit and spent some time with my mum's best friend Laura. Later in the afternoon we headed for Golden and then home the next day. Overall it was a lovely trip and I really did not want to come home.

I'd love to live on the island for awhile. I need to have a blogging career of some sort. I'd love to live somewhere new every year, exploring the area, taking photos and blogging about it. And then move on to the next. There's so many places I'd like to live in the world for a year, and watch all the seasons change.


366 Reflections & December Photos

When I first started this challenge last year my purpose was to figure out what I wanted to do with photography. I don’t know if I figured out what I wanted to do with photography. But I did learn plenty. Some of the key highlights that have come to mind recently are: 

  • I don’t love editing. I’m doing more work in camera so I can spend less time in post-production.
  • The more work I do in camera, the happier I am with my shots.
    • Manual: I’ve been shooting in full manual for something like 3-4 years now. I think this has been a huge contributor to my satisfaction with my photos. 
  • I don’t love shooting portraiture. I like to have a human element in my landscapes, but I do not like posing groups, or individuals in formal portrait type settings (EXCEPT: Yoga photography, I will always love doing yoga or dance portraits). I do like environmental portraiture.
  • Flash photography is not as difficult or scary as I originally thought. 
  • I do like landscape photography. 
  • New gear does not make you a better photographer. I have not, and probably will not ever truly outgrow the gear I have.
  • There is ALWAYS something new to learn.
  • There is ALWAYS something beautiful or interesting in your immediate surroundings.
  • There is ALWAYS another perspective from which to shoot an item. 
  • Hanging your work up at a local event, in an art display is incredibly gratifying and sort of makes you feel real.
  • Look over your work occasionally. Collect your favourite shots in an album. Try to think of keywords for themes you see in your favourite work. Try to keep those in mind when you go out to shoot. 
  • Personal projects or bodies of work are fun. They don’t ever have to see the light of day, but they are motivating. My projects this year were a timelapse of City Hall Park in Red Deer, and my ongoing collection of before/after development photos of my home town.
  • No amount of book reading, research, or youtube tutorials, can replace or make-up for time spent shooting. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.
  • Like I’ve learned in yoga and meditation, this is my practice. There is no comparing myself to others, because their practice is not mine. 
  • There is no value in judging or criticizing someone else’s work. Offering constructive ideas and suggestions can be ok, if the person is interested in hearing it. 
  • Printing your own work is great, too a point. There’s only so much wall space in your house. I started with printing some small stuff, 4x6. I have these hung on wires with tiny clothespins so I can change them out. I’ve only done larger prints of shots I really love. It is great to see and hold your work, but storing 12 large canvases when you only have wall space for 2-3 is pointless. 

In December 2016 I took 724 photos, and posted 65 to Flickr.

Here is the December shots. I'll do another post soon, maybe next week, of all the 2016 photos I've posted. Enjoy December for now!


Extraordinary England - 2012

In April of 2012 my sister took me to England. We left Calgary just a few hours after my last exam for the semester, and spent 14 days touring around as much of England and Wales as we could. We spent the first couple of days in London. We attempted to attend the organ concert at Westminster Abbey, but the London Marathon was on, and with so many road blocks we gave up trying to get there. We got tickets for the Big Bus Tour and did that, which was pretty great. The weather was reasonable so we actually got to sit out on top and see a good bit of zone 1. We walked around the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge, down past the Globe Theater to the Tate Modern (we did not actually go into the Tate because it was very confusing to get into) and then back. We stopped in to visit the Globe on our way back. We also stopped visited the British Museum, the V&A, Foyles (where we spied George RR Martin, who had randomly popped in to sign some books apparently. I also saw a monk, which was way more interesting to me than Martin.), the British Library, and of course Platform 9 & 3/4.  And then we picked up our rental car and hit the road.

We went to the White Cliffs of Dover, Canterbury Cathedral, and Cambridge. Then we headed up to Sherwood Forest, and onto to Chatsworth House, where we met up with our friend Adoree who was working on her masters at the University of Sheffield. Chatsworth House was just stunning. I'd love to go back and explore later in May or June when the gardens are hitting their peak bloom. The next day we drove through the Peaks District on our way to Yorkshire, where we hit up Thirsk, so I could visit The World of James Herriot. I was thrilled to see all of that, I've read and reread the Herriot books more times than I can count. I absolutely love them.

After the Herriot museum we stopped by the ruins of Riveaulx Abbey, "one of England's most powerful Cistercian monasteries." (Riveaulx Abbey). That was incredibly interesting. I didn't think I'd be all that interested in the ruins, but when we got there I loved it. It's awe inspiring to feel so small and wonder about how they managed to create such amazing architecture so long ago, without the current technology. After Riveaulx Abbey we headed up to York. We spent a couple of days there, exploring York Minster, the Shambles, and just wandering around town.

When we left York we headed for Bolton Abbey, another fantastic ruin in a beautiful little town. After Bolton Abbey we headed over to Conwy, which was my favourite town of the whole trip. We visited Conwy Castle and Plas Mawr and wandered around town. I think we were in Conwy for two days. When we left headed down to Trefriw Woolen Mills and then through Langollen, Stratford-upon-Avon, and through the Cotswolds. We stopped at St. Fagans Natural History Museum. They have a set of row-houses at St. Fagans, and you start on one end and tour through all of them. Each is decorated in the style of a different era starting from 1895 and going to 1985. It was really cool to see how style changed over time from very spartan and utilitarian to fancier and aesthetically more extravagant. After St. Fagan's we stayed in Cheddar. We had wanted to see a few things in Cheddar but most of them were closed for some reason or other, and it was pouring rain, so we didn't do much there. 

On our last full day we got up super early, I don't even know how early, and hit up Stonehenge for the sunrise tour. That was really cool. It was bloody expensive, but totally worth it. The group was limited to a certain number of people, and was super early in the morning, but we actually got to walk among the stones. We could touch them and we got to watch the sunrise there. The cheaper general admission to Stonehenge only allows you to walk around it on the paved paths, which are a good distance away from the actual stones. I would definitely say its worth it to do the tour where you get up close to them. The only thing that was disappointing to me about Stonehenge is that its really close to the A303, which is fairly busy, so theres constant traffic noise. I'm not exactly sure which tour we did, as we drove to Stonehenge ourselves, and then after that headed off on our own. Most of the ones I can find now seem to be bus tours that include other sites. 

After Stonehenge we went to Salisbury where we wandered around town and visited Salisbury Cathedral and then we drove down through the New Forest so I could see ponies. We visited the New Forest Centre Museum. Then we headed back up through Chichester to Gatwick, and the next morning we headed home.

Overall it was a fantastic trip. I do wish we'd waited a few days to leave after exams, I was pretty exhausted from the semester, so I was pretty braindead for quite a few days of the trip. But, England has stuck with me, and I've wanted to go back ever since. I have spent countless hours in Google Streetview poking around England, dreaming of going back again. 
One more regret is that I hadn't started shooting RAW at that point, and I apparently wasn't as photography obsessed (evidenced by the fact that there is a few days where I didn't take any photos at all). I wish I had taken way more photos.

Anyway, here's a chronological gallery of my favourite shots from the trip. Enjoy!


Nothin' lasts forever, even cold November Rain

Such a great song. And also fairly appropriate, as this challenge is technically ending in a few short weeks.

And it has been a fairly dramatic year of photography, atleast on my end. There's been lots of love/hate moments. I don't think I "need some time all alone" away from photography. But who knows how I'll feel on January 1st. 

All the depressing ending, uncertainty aside, here's the photo roundup for November.

Oh also, you may have already known this, but Guns n Roses is coming to Alberta next summer. I'm sure its going to be an amazing show. I few people I know are going.

In November I took 854 photos. That may turn out to be my smallest number per month for the year, we'll see how December goes. Previously my low number was August, with 857.

I posted 79 to social media or Flickr.


October Photo Harvest

In October I shot 1270 photos.
I posted 156 to Flickr or Instagram.

Thoughts for the month:

  1. This year is very quickly coming to a close.
  2. I remember thinking that 366 seemed to far off. I remember the 60th day being a milestone for me, then 80, then 100. And now theres less than 60 left in the entire year.
  3. I want to continue this in the new year. Its become a habit now, and I feel an important part of my daily life. Somewhat like a gratitude journal, this forces me to look for beauty every day.

Enjoy the photos, thanks for looking!