Dinosaur Provincial Park is about 5 hours from Edmonton by car but it’s about a million years away from the lush green fields and valleys of the Edmonton area.
As you drive south the landscape gets gradually drier and flatter the closer you are to the park until suddenly there it is, just past the “watch for snakes on the road sign” the grassland drops away into the wide valley of the Red Deer River.
It just so happened that for my Thursday evening arrival, nature had arranged a spectacular welcome display consisting of a magnificent rainbow that seemed to emanate from the valley floor directly below me. It appeared to soar up out of the badlands, arch across the sky and return again to earth miles away. And for the first time ever, as I drove along in wonder, towing my little old trailer behind, I could clearly see far below me, the end of the rainbow.
I wish I could show you a picture but alone in the vehicle on a steep hill with signs very boldly declaring “ABSOLUTELY NO STOPPING ON HILL!” I was unable to get a shot of the magical moment.
The trip appeared to be starting out well and I was excited to get parked as quickly as possible because I had 2 tickets to the “Sunset Tour” through the restricted access area of the park.
Of course backing a trailer into a particular spot usually goes well if no-one is around but in this case 15 or so of my fellow photo club members were sitting around the camp fire with nothing better to do than watch the show.
Don tried to help out but it still took a few embarrassing tries before I finally got it parked and then it was time to head for the meeting place and catch the bus for the tour. Don, Steve and his family and some people from Ontario joined me for my first of three tours.
For a moment it looked like we weren’t going to go because of rain but we waited it out and I’m glad we did, the tour was great and we all loved it, the photographic opportunities were amazing and because of the fact that paid tours are the only way to access the restricted areas unless you are on an official dig, we were able to see things that many visitors to the park never get a chance to see.
After two glorious hours chasing amazing vistas illuminated by a setting sun and spiced up with far off rain showers, we finally made our way back to the group campsite to join the rest of the club members around the campfire.
I was up early the next day to catch the sun illuminated ridgeline directly behind our campsite and to begin a daily quest to locate and photograph the small herd of mule deer that inhabit the valley. On this first morning I spotted several deer too far away to get any good shots with the kit lens that happened to be on my camera.
Later that morning a bunch of us drove into Brooks to visit the famous “Brooks Aqueduct” and somehow even though I really didn’t want to, I ended up leading a procession of vehicles into town.
Of course the route I took (which looked like a nice paved road on the map) turned into a barely paved, extremely rough country road before degenerating to gravel. Gordon, who was traveling with me, gamely accepted the map and thereby the blame for our chosen route, giving me the chance to accurately proclaim, “Gordon had the map!” when anyone later mentioned the rough roads we took.
Gordon and Barry and a few others had been to the aqueduct on a previous club trip so they knew the spots to get the best images of the graffiti and junk inside the giant concrete pipe that had once enabled the railways to entice settlers to an area that otherwise would have been too dry to farm.
Down at the other end of the pipe the repeating lines and patterns of the support piers and iron rails across the top made for some great images, especially as the piers are not all the same length. I think we all enjoyed photographing the historically significant local landmark.
That night we enjoyed a communal supper shopped for with much gusto by Hedy who related to us the hilarious story of her adventure purchasing our dinner at Costco.
Getting a little carried away, she accidentally purchased way more sausages then there were going to be group members for super. It was decided during a consultation with her husband Steve, that no-one was likely to want 6 sausages and so she packed up half of them to return to the store.
Apparently returning extra sausages is not something that happens every day and at first the woman was adamant, “sorry but no way”.
She didn’t know who she was dealing with however and unsurprisingly, by the time she was done, Hedy had convinced her that this was a special case and yes, she could in fact return the extra sausages.
Since returned food can’t be resold in the store they make a policy of donating it to homeless shelters, so in the end, “unbridled shopping enthusiasm leads to extra food for the homeless” could be the headline for this little story!
Strangely enough, Hedy’s kind offer to drop off the food at the homeless shelter was politely refused, although perhaps with a few exaggerated eye rolls after it was all over.
After supper, 14 of us met at the bus for the sunset tour and even though it was the same tour as the previous evening, we had a different driver and the weather was a little different and we stopped at one or two different places and I enjoyed it just as much as the night before. In fact, because we were all together and interested in photography, the driver let us have a little more input into when and where we stopped.
Bill (another Sony guy) offered to loan me a lovely 10mm Voigtlander Heliar-Hyper wide angle lens and using it on my Sony A7 ii (full frame mirrorless) over the next two days I fell in love with this lens! It is extremely wide but since it is a rectilinear design there is a lot less distortion then you might expect. I had the lens for 2 days and it was fantastic to have in addition to my regular cheap kit lens.
The next morning I was up early again and when I went up the hill I bumped into Gordon ahead of me with his tripod, trying to get those elusive sunrise shots of the ridgeline and the valley floor.
I was on a mission though to check out the Southwest part of the valley and locate the deer that I had seen the day before. While I was still making my way there, I heard a coyote yelping and howling and I hurried up to a vantage point and peered over the edge.
I was astonished to see a mule deer doe running across the meadow below, chasing…….a lone coyote. I snapped a few shots with my second camera, a Sony A77 APS-C body with a 70-300mm lens and managed to catch a few images showing both the coyote on the run and the angry doe that was chasing it off.
After she was sure it was gone the doe returned to the spotted fawn she had been protecting and I watched as they jumped the creek and moved off across the hillside across from me.
Cool! And I even got a few shots of the action.
That night was our second go at a communal supper and everyone pitched in to cook up a mess of pasta along with garlic toast and Saskatoon pie for dessert. After that it was another night around the camp fire interspersed with trips up the dark mountain looking for cell phone coverage to call or text my wife. I got plenty of brownie points allocated to me when I told her what lengths I had to go through to get a signal.
Climbing the pitch black giant mountain and braving the packs of giant coyotes (would you believe one skinny coyote with weird glowing eyes?) and the swarms of giant mosquitoes to balance precariously on the cliff edge waving a cell phone around just to say good night tends to rack up a lot of valuable points!
One thing that surprised me about this year’s trip was that people didn’t seem to be that interested in doing any night shooting. I imagine some people still went off on their own but as far as I know there was no organized attempt to go out as a group.
Sunday was scorching hot and it ended up being a pretty laid back day with the big excitement being when Bill came back from a visit to Brooks with 2 big tubs of ice cream along with 2, count em, 2 types of sauce!
Monday morning turned into an unofficial race to bug out and move on. It almost seemed like the last one out of there was going to get stuck with the bill!
All in all it was a very successful and worthwhile trip and I enjoyed it immensely. Anyone I talked to seemed to feel the same way so thanks Barry and Don and Hedy and Ralph and all of the board members and anyone else who pitched in to make this years camping trip such a success, it was great and I’m already looking forward to next year!
On Saturday, April 30 about ten members of the Club went on a photo field trip to the Amberlea Meadows horse show. The weather was good and we were able to experience a new photo challenge since none of us had any previous experience photographing this type of event.
The photo directly above shows some of the members on the field trip. Second from the left is Fred Tyrrell, Show Medic. On the extreme right is Lynda Finstad, Event Photographer, and second from the right is Madison Ricard, one of the senior riders. Prior to turning us loose with our cameras Fred, Linda and Madison gave us a short orientation covering things like safety around horses, things to watch for during the rides and some tips on photographing horses and horse shows – valuable information for a bunch of city types.
-submitted by Ralph Fuchs
Sunday, October 18 was an excellent day for a photo field trip to the Valley Zoo. The weather was great and there weren’t all that many people around. Unfortunately only eight members turned out. We met at the entrance at 10 o’clock and wandered through the zoo, each at their own pace, meeting back at the entrance at noon. We finished off the field trip with lunch at Café Blackbird on 142 Street.
–article and photos by Ralph Fuchs
The 4th Annual SAPC camping trip was held August 21-24 at Elk Island National Park at the Astotin Lake Group Campsite and it was a great success! It is hard to get the exact numbers of campers and participants since this year’s event was so close to Edmonton that many people came out for the day or for one, two, or three nights.
I arrived with my trailer about 2:30 pm on Friday August 21 and there were already lots of trailers, tents and motorhomes set up. The group site is basically just a field with some grass, curbs, a wood shed and a few fire pits with the whole thing surrounded by trees, but it turned out to work just fine. There was plenty of room to get everyone parked and set up without being crowded or stressed out trying to find a spot to camp.
After supper many of us went down to the lake to capture the sunset and it turned out to be a lovely evening with a colourful sunset and some pelicans adding interest for the bird photographers.
After that it was fun to gather around the fire with our cameras trying to photograph dual lasers playing in the smoke, sparklers, and spinning glow sticks.
Much later, after it was finally deemed to be dark enough, Jeff Wallace led a few people down to the beach to give a night sky photography demonstration. Being one of those people who prefer to be in bed at night, I have very little night sky photography experience and I was determined to give it a try so I grabbed my camera, tripod, cable release and flashlight and set out for the beach.
It’s very spooky wandering around out there at night but here and there I could see others clanking around with tripods and cameras as we made our way to the rendezvous point. Jeff came around to each of us and tried to help us set up our camera properly to get the best shot. Shooting with an older, cropped sensor Sony camera, I discovered that “hobbyist” (less expensive) cameras are missing some advanced features that make life a whole lot easier when doing this kind of shooting. I had imagined that focussing to “infinity” would probably work for stars, aren’t they an awfully long way away? But nooooo, you need to be able to zoom in your focus on a particular bright star and that proved difficult (but not impossible) to do.
I also discovered “photographer etiquette”. When there are more than one or two shooters, it is important not to turn on your flashlight at random times because that has a tendency to mess up carefully set up exposures, some of them as long as 30 minutes for star trails, “oops!).
It was well worth it and I’m glad I stayed up for it although I did miss the northern lights all weekend (but so did a few other people, BARRY) and they were apparently amazing! For some reason, they are always amazing if you decide not to go out and photograph them.
Saturday and Sunday people ventured out on their own or in groups to various places in the area: including the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, the towns of Lamont and Andrew, the Skaro Shrine and other sites, churches and regional oddities and points of interest.
I got a guided tour of the Ukrainian Village from Club member Gordon who apparently visits there a lot! He seemed to know many of the costumed role-players and directed a few of us to “secret” photo opportunities, “thanks Gordon”. It was a beautiful day and from what I’ve seen people got a lot of great shots from different area locations, we covered the area like a blanket, which is also what we needed in the evenings as the temperature got down as low as +2 degrees!
Saturday evening there was another campfire with lots of spinning lights, sparklers and paper bags with candles to photograph. People seemed to really enjoy socializing around the camp fire, doing a little fun photography and just “chilling with the peeps” in a beautiful natural setting.
I would definitely characterize this year’s St. Albert Photo Club camping trip as a great success and I can’t wait for next year’s trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park, August 19-22, see you there!
St. Josaphat Cathedral is a colourful Ukrainian Greek Catholic church and designated historic site in Edmonton. Father Peter provided a tour and opportunity for photography. Thanks to Ken Hutchinson for arranging the field trip and providing the following photos:
On Saturday, December 6, seven club members met at Rutherford House for a photo tour of this historic mansion. Ken had arranged exclusive access for club members for two hours prior to the house opening to the public so we were able to use tripods, lights, etc. without interfering with the public tours and vice versa. Rutherford House is fully furnished with vintage items and decor which provided many interesting photo ops. After the shoot we met at the High Level Diner for lunch.
-submitted by Ralph Fuchs
Here is a group shot and a couple of others from our day at Aldon Auto in Lamont. The club members that participated are making a donation of $84 to the charity “Haying in the ’30s”. On the return trip, some us stopped at the bison compound and were able to get up close to a herd. Al Popil made a new friend, shown below, who even chewed on his shoe.
Doug Poon showed some of us what kite flying was all about. The names under the photos are all in sequence and depict Doug at his best. At the end of the day, we all knew that Doug had enjoyed himself tremendously. Richard Gagne, Allan Gosling and Don Durand were also in attendance at the event.
By Mufty Mathewson
Barry Ryziuk, Gordon Michon and Don Durand met in Rocky Mountain House Tuesday, August 12, 2014, two days before our trip to scout out the best locations for us to shoot. By Thursday when the rest of us arrived at Chambers Creek Group Campground west of Rocky, a great photo agenda was in place. The rest of us meant David Oman, his wife Janie and their daughter (who arrived later,) Ralph Fuchs, Jason Schade with wife and parents, Al Popil and myself with my husband Bill.
Thursday night we gathered on the Saskatchewan Rough Riders Sale Rug outside Ralph’s Fifth Wheel under the awning and cracked the first beer. We got to know one another a bit that evening and enjoyed making the first of the meals that Ralph had purchased on our behalf. Had a good bonfire that evening and went to bed in our various accommodations; everything from Gordon sleeping in his tidy pup tent to Barry on the roof of his car to Dave in his elegant motorhome, Don in his special hunting outfit, Al in his vehicle and Mufty and Bill in their ancient, old, squeaky ’83 motor home.
We gathered at crack of 9.30 the next morning, did some carpooling and drove to Crescent Falls. Great shooting whether it was only from above for thems that aren’t part mountain goat and a great climb down for those who could. That afternoon we were shown a special Native People’s Sacred Place where in a lovely aspen grove we found about 80 trees with yards of different coloured fabric tied carefully around many like prayer flags in Tibet. Apparently a forest fire stopped right at that point some years ago so the place is thought to be of special significance. The whole grove of trees with different shades of fabrics tied in different patterns on upright as well as fallen trees were curious. Somehow the place felt quite sacred.
That evening we dealt with some rain by having our meal in the shelter with a roaring bonfire and lots of tall tales. There is always lens-bragging, camera catastrophes and weather stories to hear to say nothing of listening in to a retired tour bus driver (Dave’s father Bev), sharing stories with a retired truck driver (Don) on into the night. I think that’s the evening that we were joined by Jeff Wallace and his lively daughter Kiera who became a great addition to our group as a model and vivacious participant.
Next morning we gathered together again and set off to Nordegg where we registered at the museum for a tour of the Brazeau Colliers #2 Mines. The abandoned coal mine presented rusted old equipment, empty railway cars, deserted buildings that had housed a flourishing business from 1918 to 1955. After that we went our own ways, some to an old cemetery, some to empty buildings in Nordegg, and others back to the beautiful turquoise blue Abraham Lake that we had passed the day before. Plenty of material for great images!
That evening we had another meal in the shelter with roaring fire, more lies about the great shots we got and Al Popil’s toys. He brought a dollar store bunch of glow sticks to the gathering and the evening ended with grown photographer adults trying to capture light with all of us playing with these silly little lights making circles in the firelight round each other’s heads or playing pendulum back and forth.
Camping trips are fun. There was great camaraderie and good photo ops as well. We were photographers of varying experience and ages, with and without spouses and children. I can’t think of anyone who didn’t learn something; whether it was photographic knowledge, (I hear that Al gave a great how to read your histogram with breakfast one morning.) or just practical things like an adaptor for my cigarette lighter in my old vehicle that would charge my iPhone. How neat is that! Great time had by all. Thanks Barry for organizing it and for everyone who each brought their own special talents. I can’t wait till next year. Sign up everyone. It’s a blast.