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.