Yukon, BC, and Alaska in August

This past August I took a trip. A trip to the Great White North to visit Emily (and Brad and Leika). A trip of a lifetime, really. How often does one buy a flight to Whitehorse on a whim for 10 days of road tripping, camping and hiking?

I brought along with me the Fujifilm X100s with the WCL adaptor and the Nikon D750 with AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5, AF-S 70-200mm f/4, and AF-S 85mm f/1.8. Choosing what to pack for an extended trip is always a challenge but this combination has treated me very well in the past. For the most part on this trip, the X100s went up the mountains and the D750 did everything else.

On the first leg of the trip, we stuck around the Whitehorse area with a day trip to Carcross and climb up Caribou Mountain, a day trip to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and Gunnar Nilsson & Mikey Lammers Research Forest, a visit to Miles Canyon and putting around downtown.

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Emily, the dog and I then started our road trip with a night camping at Paint Mountain (on Pine Lake near Haines Junction). I got some great shots of the lake and mountain at both sunrise and sunset.

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We then headed south into BC, camping at Million Dollar Falls and taking by far the best hike I’ve been on, to Samuel Glacier. Middle of nowhere, 10km out to the glacier and 10km back. The views were spectacular, but what really struck me was the dead silence once we got away from the highway.

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After the long hike we continues south into Alaska, camping at Chilkat State Park in Haines. I’ve never been to such a good looking campsite. The mountain views were beautiful and the mossy rainforest nook where we set up our tent was totally secluded.

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The next morning we caught the ferry from Haines to Skagway and after exploring the tourist town (while navigating the ridiculous crowd of tourists) we made our way back up to Conrad, Yukon to meet up with Brad and the trailer. The mountain right across the Windy Arm lake had been on fire for a while but luckily the wind was blowing all of the smoke away from us. I got some spectacular fire shots and my new favourite Milky Way.

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We hiked up the Sam McGee trail the next morning and got some great views of the lake and forest fire.

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And that’s pretty much it. An amazing trip and one I’d happily do again!

 

A Day at Carcassonne

While in Toulouse for work I used one of my days off to visit Carcassonne, about a 1hr train ride away. The walled city is very old, founded by the Romans, and changed hands many times before being faithfully restored in the 1800’s. I arrived early, and walked the cool and drizzly walk from the train station to the castle. In the off season, on a weekday morning, and with mediocre weather there were very few people and I had no trouble taking photos of the building alone, or waiting to position a single person perfectly in the shot.

The inner ramparts opened after lunch (although they were supposed to be open in the morning too) so after a hot cassoulet and local beer I paid the admission and got up high. The weather did eventually clear somewhat but not so much that I lost the dreary look to photos. Here are my favourites, with the D750, AF-S 85mm f/1.8G and Sigma 35m f/1.4 Art.

A Week in Toulouse

For the second time, my job sent me to Toulouse, France to speak at an image sensor conference. I had a few days off after and was able to explore the city.. For the most part I used the X100s, shooting only in JPG. I had the D750 as well, with AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G, AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G and AF-S 85mm f/1.8G.

 

Trip to Arizona Part II – The Grand Canyon

Well, I crossed off another item on the bucket list in April with my visit to the Grand Canyon. I woke up at 5AM at the hotel in Flagstaff and hit the road before the sun rose so that I’d get to the canyon in the early morning light. I probably don’t need to say a lot about the place. It was epic and vast. I was there early enough that I was totally alone in some spots, without a person in site. That all changed a few hours later when it was teeming.

I walked down the Kaibob trail about 1200 feet and experienced a 15-20 degree (Celsius) temperature change compared to the top. The hike down was easy. The hike up was strenuous and parching.

I stayed past dark and parked myself at Lipan Point for the sunset and night sky shots. Unfortunately I ran the batteries out in the D700 but the X100s was up to the task! The night sky shot here is a panorama of X100s shots. Here are my 22 favourites spanning 7AM to 10PM.  D700 and X100s, AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G and Sigma 35mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8G.

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7 shot panorama with X100s

7 shot panorama with X100s

Studio Cat Portraits

Last weekend I tried using my new background kit (stands + white seamless) to shoot some portraits of our cats, Gracie and Professor Noam Chomsky. For the key light I used an Alien Bee B800 with gridded beauty dish from camera right, somewhat close to the posing stool. A Paul C Buff Brollie Box on a 2nd B800 was the fill light, set back from camera left. Both lights were set to equal output power, so distance controlled the intensity on the cats. The background light was a 3rd B800 with barn doors to control the spill.

“Posing” the cats was an exercise in patience. While Gracie eventually chilled out on the stool and let me get a long series of shots, Chomsky had no interest. The lamb skin helped but I still only had 10 seconds after setting him down before he’d run away to the bedroom.

I shot withe the D700 + AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G on a tripod and cable release, allowing me to shoot from the floor between the camera and cats.

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