Vancouver Island

Monochrome Gull

Over the water

Aside from a couple of stops at St Johns airport in Labrador, I’ve never spent any time in Canada. Not that I had ever heard anything bad about our northern neighbor, there just never seemed to be a reason to visit. When the Missus and I found out that Arizona Highways Photography Workshops was organizing a trip to Vancouver Island with photographer Shane McDermott it drew our interest, and since our calendar happened to be clear for the month we went ahead and enrolled.

Each day on the trip we sampled a different aspect of Vancouver Island. The variety of photographic subjects and the beauty of the area makes it impossible to describe in a blog post, so I’ve decided to just post a few sample pictures and descriptions to try and capture a little of the feel of the Island.

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Jewel

Jewel

Jewel observing her new back yard from the porch.

Introducing a new member of the family – Jewel. Interestingly enough she’s from the same litter that Trix is from. Trix originally went to a family down the street, and Jewel went to their brother. As their youngest is starting college soon they didn’t have enough time to keep a border collie occupied and out of trouble, so they offered her to us.

Trix & Jewel

Playing racer/chaser after a refreshing dip in the pool.

I’m not sure if they remembered each other, but they took to playing together right away.

Superstitions

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Afternoon sun near Black Mountain

We have been wanting to try out a backpacking trip with REI Adventures, and with the Superstition Mountains being local we thought this would be a good opportunity.  Since the Phoenix area is already starting to warm up, this was the last scheduled trip till after summer. Being less that two weeks after the Alaska trip, we were prepared for a bit of temperature shock – it turned out to be a record setting week with highs in the 90’s, which is only 120ºF warmer than our coldest outings up north. Fortunately, we had time for a couple of day hikes to get re-acclimated to the desert prior to starting out.

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Tips and Tricks, or “Baby, it’s Cold Outside…”

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Photographers trying not to freeze to their cameras. It was about -25ºF at this point.

I’m something of a desert rat, so while the Alaska trip was not my first experience with extreme cold it’s not something I do on a regular basis.  This post is intended to be a summary of what worked and what didn’t.

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So what’s to do in the Alaskan winter?

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Christian Taylor coming in for the win on day two of the North Pole Junior North American Championships.

While our trip to Alaska was primarily to photograph the aurora, it turns out there was quite a bit to do during the day as well. When we arrived in Fairbanks the latest snow storm was just wrapping up and we took a little walk around downtown.  Smaller than I expected, Fairbanks has a population somewhere around 32,000 which makes it the 2nd largest city in Alaska.

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Northern Lights

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Northern Lights from the Chena River Recreation Area.

I don’t have a “Bucket List” per se, although there are things that I would like to get around to doing. One of those things has been to see the Aurora Borealis. This month the Missus and I spent a week in Alaska where we had the chance to do just that at a Northern Lights workshop presented by Beth Ruggiero-York along with Arizona Highways Photography Workshops . There is an element of luck involved in viewing the Northern Lights. The closer to the pole you are the better the chance, and of course it needs to be dark enough to see it, which means winter. The weather needs to be clear, and finally the sun has to cooperate by being active.

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Night Hike

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Phoenix from South Mountain

We enjoy our outdoors activities, and one of our major suppliers for gear is Recreation Equipment, Inc. In addition to being a major outdoors sports outlet, REI does travel and arranges local workshops and classes. We saw a four hour Night Photography Hike at South Mountain they were hosting and decided it would be fun to go along.

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