Fall Fishing & Ponderosa Pondering in the Skagit Valley

Visitors relax along the Skagit River in BC.

It was late September and summer was easing out, slowly becoming autumn here on the West Coast. Still plenty of time for camping and hiking as the mushrooms were just beginning to announce themselves and the trout were seemingly enjoying the cooler waters this time of year brings. For a fishing stream, the Skagit is renowned. Most people out here today were hip deep in waders and tackle. For us, the streams didn’t deliver but any day spent on the river in this gorgeous valley is fine by me. I caught some good shots, angled for some landscapes and portraits.

With the fish a no-go, we ventured into the woods and into a forest of Ponderosa. Certainly one of my favourite trees, but they really don’t grow around here so much, preferring the arid interior less than 100km away. But in between here and there, the coastal mountains with all their dark forests of fog, moss, cedar and fern exist. Those Cascade Mountains across the US border create a shadow, a microclimate for the dry-loving Ponderosa to grow. It was a little patch of Princeton, right here near Hope. With the sun making a hasty retreat to the west, we took the last light afforded our eyes into the woods and scoped out Angel Wings, Boletes and assorted funghi. A few made it home, most we left as is.

The colour palate that day was across the gamut – bold primaries mixing with the subtle hues of a darkening day and a changing season. A little cloud and the low, golden light a few days after equinox is a photographer’s delight. Here are a few scenes from the Skagit that day. The next was entirely different, and the one thereafter…forever onwards.

Skagit Valley, BC, 2016.

<click the first image to view ’em large – I would recommend it!>

Left Behind: A Short Horror Film

Sometimes things are forgotten, left behind in the forest….sometimes they come back to life in unexpected ways.

A short horror film created while camping near Whistler, BC.

A little bit of background. Sandra and I are frequent campers and we always have cameras on hand to document our wilderness adventures. Over a morning coffee and campfire, we had an idea. We began to notice rope, twine, and cord of all manner hanging in the trees, abandoned since they were last used for tarps and shelter. The wind picked up and the rope seemed to take on a life of it’s own, twisting and swirling in the sky with our wood smoke. Our morning thought soon became an afternoon of shooting in the woods. It was great fun! We came back with some creepy footage, and while taking a digital filmmaking course I began editing, using this project as a way to learn the software and get our ideas into a film. And now, just in time for Halloween, I am pleased to share with you the resulting short film.

We hope you enjoy it! Please share with your friends and let us know what you think.

Credits below the break:


Cycle of the Season: Autumn Bike Style

A couple meet in the forest to ride their e-bikes together

“Urban Escapes” — Published as a centrefold in the Autumn 2016 print issue of Momentum Mag. Meaghan Horne rides a Blix Vika+ foldable e-bike to meet up with Franky Morrell, riding a Blix Komfort+ step-through e-bike. Alternate take below, used on the table of contents page.

Photographed in Stanley Park, Vancouver, 2016.

A couple meet in the forest to ride their e-bikes together

The Totem Poles of Alert Bay

Totem poles stand tall at the traditional Namgis Burial Grounds on Alert BayOff the Northern Coast of Vancouver Island, and a ferry ride away from Port McNeill, lies a small island called Cormorant in the Queen Charlotte Strait. Home to the Kwakwaka‘wakw village of Alert Bay, in the ‘Namgis (Nimpkish) territory, this island is living history. At once traditional and contemporary, Alert Bay is home to an active population of ‘Namgis, and it’s these welcoming people who illuminate the island for visitors. From the tourism info centre, one is greeted enthusiastically and with a plan — depending on how much time you have on the island, a map and itinerary is offered for self-guided exploration.

We started at the U’mista Cultural Centre, a museum and heritage stop with the largest collection of Potlatch memorabilia in the world. Many of these items were repatriated from overseas after Canada’s prohibition, which forbade the hosting of Potlatch and other essential traditional ceremonies, was lifted. They are still collecting, still healing and still looking to reconnect a fractured past. By welcoming tourism in a big way, Alert Bay is a beacon for those interested in our West Coast history, both the beauty and the brutal.

From U’mista, we visited the Big House, off limits to visitors as it’s still in use today. Standing before the great facade was impressive enough, our imaginations ran wild thinking of the experiences contained within. Next to the Big House stands the “World’s Tallest Totem Pole“, at 173 feet tall. Beyond that is current ‘Namgis burial ground, and down the road and over the hill is the Anglican graveyard, a place with many mixed symbols and dedications. Private totem poles and arches are found throughout the island, you can see them all in one day as the island is just 12km around the edge.

The highlight was the original ‘Namgis burial grounds. On the edge of the ocean, totems stand tall and some stand crooked. They face the sea and remain alert, protecting and honouring those buried below. As an outsider, we weren’t able to get close, rather taking our photos from the road. Still, the energy can be felt on this island and in this place. While the skies opened up and the mist set in, it was time to take the ferry back to Port McNeill, thoughts of times past and times anew occupying our minds on the slow float across the sea.

Alert Bay, Cormorant Island, BC.

<click on the first image to view large – recommended!>


Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2016 – pt. III Sunday

Country singer Hayes Carll at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Folk Fest Sunday. It’s day three and everyone is in the groove by this point. The clouds took a while to depart in the morning… then they gathered up some energy and returned darker and firing electric bolts later in the day. Luckily there was just a sprinkle of a shower, and the stormy skies above the North Shore and Howe Sound turned out to be an excellent backdrop. If you haven’t yet, head back in time and check out the scene on Friday and Saturday. Then hit play on the playlist below to get in the mood. Ready?

The final day of the 39th Folk Festival was another standout. Time to catch all the music that’s eluded you so far and listen to the whispers from the crowd about who is a ‘must see’. Today’s the day! Aside from some bands from the previous few days, here we see the Brazilian flavour of Flavia Nascimento, Cape Verde’ Elida Almeida, the mindblowing modern/traditional music of Estonia’s Trad.Attack!, a flamenco/Arabic mashup from France’s Les Noces Gitanes, bluegrass punk rock from Montreal’s Lisa LeBlanc, countrified tales from Hayes Carll (pictured above) and Canada’s beloved Bruce Cockburn. I tried to replicate my shot of Bruce from his last appearance in 2004 — fairly close, right? Rounded out by Land of Talk, Henry Wagons, Cian Nugent, and a few more I took in without the camera.

I received my 15-year veterans badge this year, a milestone for me, and as such I included a little selfie here, too. Yea, I’m really proud to be a folk fest volunteer :) The other thing I have to mention — that Churro Ice Cream sandwich? Incredible! Search out the Dinner by Bayan food truck for this one, I can still taste it. Thanks for viewing, I encourage you to check out some of the artists in the player below and let me know in the comments who caught your ear. Already looking forward to 2017 – the 40th anniversary, it should be epic!

Vancouver, 2016.

Listen to my 2016 Folk Fest playlist below while perusing the photos. Enjoy!

<click the first image below to view large – recommended!>

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2016 – pt. II Saturday

Ghana artist Jojo Abot performs on stage at the Vancouver Folk Music Fesival.We’re back! Day two at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival took us on a trip around the world with music from Ghana, Estonia, Mexico, Israel, Venezuela, China, right across Canada and parts in between. An incredible diversity of artists, sounds and stage presentation. The sun shone, the bass thumped, fingers picked and strum and today’s artists had you on your feet absorbed in their world of sound in no time. Featured in this set of shots are: Vancouver’s Gamelan Bike Bike (yup, gamelan music made with upcycled bike frame tubes and parts), the Mongolian/punk stylings of China’s Ajinai, Haiti’s Lakou Mizik, Afro-Venezuelan act Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo (first time in Canada!), Ghana’s otherworldly Jojo Abot (pictured above), the instant party brought to life by Mexican Institute of Sound (“from a small village south of here… we call Mexico City”), ending with Israel’s Yemen Blues on the main stage. Wow.

Check out the photos from Friday over here, and dig into the blog archive for more Folk Fest favourites from the last 15 years.

Listen to my 2016 Folk Fest playlist below while perusing the photos. Enjoy!

<click the first image below to view large – recommended!>

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2016 – pt. I Friday

Lee Fields digs deep while performing a song at Vancouver Folk Music Festival.Artists from around the world gathered on Jericho Beach for the 39th annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival and, as always, I was up close all weekend shooting images for the festival’s marketing team and archives. Since there was so much good stuff to see, hear and do, I’m posting three sets this year so I can share a few more pics with you. In these Friday evening shots you’ll see local guitar legend (and renowned guitar maker) Michael Dunn, Italy/Algeria’s Faris Amine and the trance of desert blues, England’s Moulettes proggy alt-folk (possibly the first time I’ve seen electrified bassoon positively rocking on stage, it was awesome!), the blazin’ slide steel of Martin Harley, soul sensation Lee Fields & The Expressions (that’s Lee above), the ever-charming M. Ward and local indie heroes the New Pornographers. Killer line up for a Friday night and the sunset rewarded us all with a fiery sky of red and orange. The perfect start to a weekend of worldly music and good vibes.

Check past blog posts for more from recent years, with a small archive right here on flickr, too. Saturday and Sunday… coming up soon!

Vancouver, 2016.

Listen along with my 2016 Folk Fest playlist below:

<click the first image below to view large – recommended!>

Sundown Kingdom – Photography Print

Mount Ferguson is reflected in the waters of Kingdom Lake, BC.

Mount Ferguson is reflected in the waters of Kingdom Lake at sunset. Shore grasses add a layer of abstraction to this shot.

Now available as an archival digital print, this piece would look great printed on aluminum with a floating mount off the wall, or in a classic black wooden frame and matte. Contact me for details and more information on printing options for this piece.

Kingdom Lake, BC, 2016.

Two Wheel Gear – Lifestyle Bicycle Photography

A man poses on a Vancouver street with Two Wheel Gear bicycle pannier.My work niche, developed over the last decade, is bicycle photography. Specifically, urban lifestyle photography showing cycling as a convenient, stylish and simple way to navigate our city streets. We always dress for the destination, whether on a pleasure ride, running errands or riding into work for the day. Working with Momentum Mag these last 10 years has given me an inside look at the growth of this mode of transportation and a goal to change the visual language of urban cycling in North America. Now that I am ‘freelancing’ once again, I’m able to work with different orgs and like-minded small businesses promoting this same view – cycling improves city living whether on or off the bike.

One company that caught my eye early on is Two Wheel Gear. Headed up by Reid Hemsing, this Vancouver company (founded in Calgary, just like me) has carved a niche all their own. They make the Garment Pannier, a beautiful piece of cycling luggage designed for the urban professional. One who rides to work, but has to be looking tip top in their position — ie. suit and tie guys and gals. 2WG has really cornered this market, their products are in use around the world. Their latest is the Pannier Backpack — easily the best representation of this hybrid style I’ve come across, a perfectly functional backpack becomes a pannier for your bike in seconds. Great company, excellent products and it was a pleasure working with Reid and his team on this photography project earlier this summer.

Vancouver, BC, 2016.

Mobi – Vancouver Bike Share Launch Photos

A woman looks out over Vancouver city with a Mobi bike share bicycle by her side.

It’s almost here! Vancouver’s public bike share system, Mobi, is set for launch very soon. The city is buzzing with excitement, it’s true! We’ve been waiting a long time for this and it looks to be a very well-considered system coming into place. I know the team behind Mobi is working extremely hard, literally day and night, to get this system of 1500 bikes ready to go this summer.

To coincide with the brand launch in June, I was commissioned by Mobi to shoot some of the first images of the new bike and announce the arrival of Mobi. Working with the lovely Frederique (whom I photographed a few years back for Momentum Mag), we took the as-yet-unveiled bike into Gastown and down to CRAB Park for some photography. Curious onlookers soon began asking questions, people are genuinely interested in how bike share will change Vancouver. I believe it’s going to propel us from being a bike-curious city — already with an impressive 7% cycling mode share (and up to 10% of commuters get to work by bike!) — to a truly bike-friendly city where anyone aged 8 to 88 can get around safely and conveniently on two wheels. Our downtown cycle tracks, greenways, and other cycling routes are well-used with more being added regularly. The more protected cycling options available, the more people get on a bike to navigate their city – this is proving true time and again in cities all over North America (and globally for that matter). It’s very exciting to be a small part of this cycling momentum as more people discover the joy of city cycling.

Below are a few of the images I shot for the initial Mobi launch. We’re working on some exciting photo projects to come this summer, so stay tuned and don’t forget to sign up as a ‘founding member’ of Mobi, before July 31, for discounted intro rates.

Vancouver, 2016.