Canada Travel Diary: Day 7 – 06/04/15

I feel like keeping a journal is becoming a chore. It’s covered with scruffy handwriting, words I can’t even make out due to the hand cramps.

I have no idea where we went today, I took note of a few places we passed, but that’s about it. Bob, Fran and I drove to numerous places to find the wild horses. I got promoted to the front of the car, so I wouldn’t get left behind again, which is also a bonus as I can see out more of windows.

The majority of the day is spent driving in the car do the different locations. Bob said you could drive the length of the UK all the miles we put in. I can see his point, you can drive for miles and miles out here, not passing any towns or houses, whereas back home you would. I mean we have not passed a single gas station out here. I wonder what happens if they run out of fuel?

Thing is, I don’t mind the long drives, as it is something I have always loved; looking out windows, watching the world pass by and keeping a look out for wildlife of course. Thus, this is what I did on this journey.  As soon as we left a whopping great big bird flew over the jeep. Spreading its wings, it soared overhead.

A Bald Eagle. It was huge! And so close, you could see its big menacing beak! It’s a shame I didn’t have my camera out. How unfortunate, as I saw 2 Bald Eagles today and no one will ever believe I’ve seen one now.

En route we saw loads of wolf tracks and when I say loads, I mean loads; I would love to see a pack of wolves out here!

In actual fact we saw a number of different tracks today. Because of the recent snowfall it’s easy to spot. Wolves, Moose, Cougar and Pine Martin were the tracks we saw today, along with a Golden Eagle and a Flicker which is a type of woodpecker.

Back to the journey…

Looking out for signs to give an indication to where we are heading, I noticed we passed Bearberry. Not long after, we pull into a forestry area, and spot three horses immediately close to some trees. The bay stallion looked like he’d been in the wars to protect his mares, scars covering his body. We carry on in this area and come across three more horses, all bays again. They were on the edge of the road in a snowy area, which was great, and then it started snowing. Luckily I managed to get some snaps before it got too heavy. As we left, directly opposite we spotted a chestnut stuck in a power line area, so Fran and Bob opened the fence up so he could find his way out.

Moving on we entered this massive forest and didn’t see horses for what felt like hours. We took various paths and eventually found them in a little valley area where the grass was sparse. The strange was we’d driven past areas with loads of grass, yet no horses! In this area we saw 3 young studs. It was a lovely spot for pictures and created a lovely background with beautiful light. I’m glad they played ball and posed as some of my favourite images come from this area.

Considering the amount of miles we put it, we saw very few horses. It’s funny how they are getting culled because ‘there’s too many’. From about 2pm-5pm we saw none. We even went off-roading up this steep hill, (“Hold onto your hats people” was Fran’s Quote), which was a little hairy, but the view was fantastic.

After a long day I was dropped back at the hotel and rang a Sarah whom moved out here 10 years ago from London. It was recommended I get in touch with her by Bob and Fran so I did that this evening and ended up going out to dinner with her and her family. It was a lovely meal and really nice to eat with people instead of alone.

 

Canada Travel Diary: Day 6 – 05/04/15

My time is slowly coming to an end here, and I don’t want it to. I am really enjoying myself despite the snow and cold. It’s so peaceful out here.

This morning I went for a swim in the hotels pool (I’m not on holiday I promise). It was lovely, I haven’t swum in years and despite me thinking I’ve forgotten how to swim, I still can. Though I am much weaker than I used to be when I was younger. A bonus was I had the pool all to myself too.

On arriving at WHOAS facility’s I pitched in with some chores, cleaning pens and leading the rescue wildies to water before heading out with Gregg.

On the trip out we headed to Bearberry, Ghost and Ya Ha Tinder where I saw this incredible frozen waterfall with a plunge pool at the bottom, it was a challenge to reach but very rewarding it was stunning!

Saw 17 horses in total today and loads of hawks. I had the pleasure of seeing my first elk too. The mountains are huge and vast covered in an array of green conifers, it really is something else.

The recent snowfall meant lots of fresh tracks of wolves etc too!

 

Richmond Park Trip #3

The plan for this post was to link to my previous post in 2014 on my trips to the park…but I can’t seem to find them…Sorry! (I think I probably wrote the blog posts in my head and thought I’d actually written and published the post but turns out I never did…I think this happens a lot!)

One late October Saturday I made my third trip to Richmond Park, London in the hope of taking some autumnal deer photographs. This time I was meeting some fellow photographers arranged through ‘meetup’.

Compared to my other two trips two years ago it was a rather cloudy, dull day and there weren’t as many autumn coloured trees as I was expecting!

The freelance photographer who had organised the trip had already circuited the park prior to our meeting time at 10am so we knew what direction to head in (this was really handy as the first time I went I walked for ages getting lost before finding the deer – haha). We spent a lot of time photographing the deer under the trees in the more wooded areas as it looked like a more natural environment rather than the open grassland areas. Now I have a confession, two years ago I bypassed completely ignoring the deer in the wooded areas as I just figured it was too dark and my images would end up really grainy! Yes two years later I found it a bit tricky and frustrating as the dull day made it even darker but hey I still came away with some great pictures (not blowing my own trumpet I’m just pretty proud of how they came out). Though my favourites taken on this day are still the ones taken in the more open areas!

I was thinking about the different lighting conditions and challenges over the trips I’ve taken and I must say my favourite set of images comes from this trip! I’ll share a few of my favourites from the day! At some point, I’d love to get some sunrise/sunset shots of the deer!

Here are two links to photos taken in 2014…

Long Exposures

Whilst on holiday last week, I decided to have a play with long exposures. I’ve dabbled a bit with long exposures of the past few years but not as much I’d like, for various reasons. One being going out alone in the dark to somewhere with no light pollution with camera makes me nervous, I mean what if someone comes along and steals my pride and joy for example? What am I going to do? It’s not like I’m the bravest and can fight back! (or maybe I’m being overly dramatic) Perhaps when I can drive I’d be more inclined to and just stay by the car.

This year we were lucky to be staying overlooking the sea! At first I thought about walking to the local beach about a 15-minute walk again, but alas the fear was there. Instead, I stayed on the patio in an attempt to get some sea and stars!

The first night didn’t go down overly well as I forgot how hard it is to focus in the dark. After many attempts shining a torch on the nearest bush I called it a night settling on this:

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The following night, it was glorious once again the stars out and the bats flying around under the street lights. I was gasping in awe. Now, this time before it got dark I went out and set my camera up to make sure it was focuses… why did I not think of that before?!

I played around for a bit and got these:

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I then headed inside and packed my gear away.

And then this happened.

I’d headed up to bed sometime later and was about to draw my curtains. I looked out the window to find the sky covered in a vast array of star. There was so many more out than what I’d noticed a few hours earlier! So what did I do? I unpacked my gear and set myself up at the window of course!

There I was gazing out the window patiently waiting for the camera to finish taking the picture, when a flash shot through the sky which was quite bright. In a world of my own I shot back to life gasping and muttering to myself…woah was that a shoot star? Well I can say that when I looked at my camera, it was indeed a shooting star.

It’s a shame about the curtain and window in the picture but hey, I got my first shooting star photo!

Later on the week (after two raining days and a cloudy one) I managed to persuade my family to hang around after dinner in the town Looe, for me to try and get some long exposures on the beach and by the harbour. I also had a little play at the other end of town the following night, by a river.

On another note, I have recently ordered an ND filter to have a play around with so once I have that and had the chance to get out and have a go I’ll share that too!

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If any one has any hints/tips for long exposures please let me know! 🙂

 

 

Canada Travel Diary: Day 4 – 03/04/15

“Don’t worry, there isn’t any grizzlies in these parts”. That’s what Bob said, just before letting me loose to photograph the wild horses that live on the rescue site.

I arrived not long ago when Bob, the president of the society ‘Wild Horses of Alberta Society’, and his partner Fran picked me up from the B&B. They arrived slightly early so I rushed to cram the remainder of my belongings away and run down the stairs with my luggage to meet them. In my rush, I almost slipped up on the wooden flooring.

I would miss the homeliness of the B&B and the city, but I am moving to a new place where the work and the real fun starts.

“Bye Louise, it was nice having you” Arlene the B&B owner hollered down the stairs.

“BYE! Thanks again” I yelled back before letting the door swing shut and walking towards the big red car that awaits.

I haul my luggage into the boot; Bob extended his hand as a greeting and so does Fran.

“Well hop in, ” Bob said. I clambered up into the big car; it was quite a way up for a short person.

We chatted for part of the journey to Sundre, talking about R.Vs, the Canadian domestic life and about the horses of course. I chatted with ease, which surprised me as I’m normally quite shy and don’t say more than ‘Hmm’.

So that how I ended up at the facility to meet the volunteers, the rescued wild horse, and the wild onsite band, much to my pleasant surprise.

This was where I was when Bob said about the bears. If I’m honest, the fact a bear could eat me didn’t cross my mind until he said that. I was actually worried more about the stallion charging at me!

Two types of bears actually reside in Canada. The grizzly bear and the smaller black bear  are both species that are omnivores, which means they eat anything from berries to salmon.

In fact, what are the odds of me being killed by a bear?

Incredibly low in fact, I remember reading in Stephen Herrero’s book Bear Attacks that attacks are events and in North America there are approximately six hundred thousand black bears and sixty thousand grizzlies. Anyway, statistics say in the 2000’s in North America including Canada, U.S, and Mexico the Black Bear killed 15 people and the Grizzly killed 12 in the same period. Not that many when you think about it. In other words, less than 3 people are killed each year in North America.

So there I am. Walking towards the back of the rescue site towards the area where the wild horses are lingering. There are so many trees in the woods, mainly birch. I stand in a clearing, silence. I look up at the tall trees, they’re huge. I walk on the pine cushioned floor littered with dirt and leaves. You would have thought there’d be a fresh, nature smell in the area, but I smell….nothing. I’ve never smelt nothing before. The air is fresh and crisp. The sun filters through the trees creating a dazzling light.

I spot the stallion first. The stallion they call ‘Portero’ which means gatekeeper in Spanish. He is magnificent with this great presence and this beautiful long wavy mane covering his dark eyes. The sun shining over his coat, his muscles rippling. His mares stand behind dozing peacefully and heavily pregnant.

The horses, this place, the silence, is magnificent. I can’t believe I saw the wild horses on my first day and managed to get some stunning photographs.

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Wild stallion known as Socks. My first sighting

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‘Portero’

On Location: Drumburgh Moss

For one of my final year university modules we have to do an On Location project. I have chosen to do mine on the pros and cons of grazing feral ponies on nature reserves and for this I am visiting Drumburgh Moss National Nature Reserve in Drumburgh, Cumbria where eight Exmoor ponies roam and graze.

I haven’t seen 5am for a while, but it sure is a tough wake up when it’s dark and cold out. I pushed through getting ready in record time to leave for the bus. Stepping outside I was greeted by a thick fog, covering me like a blanket along with the bitter cold. ‘Gee whizz’ I muttered. Setting off at a brisk walk, I soon warmed up admiring the fog as I went hoping it would stick around until sunrise.

I stepped off the bus at Drumburgh missing the warmth already; I set off down the lane. The droning of the cows drowned out the twitter of the birds I was straining to hear. Not only could I hear them making a racket the smell of cow was overpowering. As I reached the reserve entrance I glanced across a field, a thin layer of mist smothered the ground; the sky had become pink like a sea of cotton candy.

I decided before looking for the ponies, I would have a gander inside the fenced area of the nature reserve where the raised mire is. It was beautiful, from the reflections in the water to the mist rolling off and onto the vegetation to the sparkling water drops, the cob webs twinkled as the orange fireball rose. It was time to move on and get those foggy morning shots I so desired.

No sooner had I rounded the corner I could make out the ponies, clouded in the swirling vapour. As I approached they raised their heads high, their gaze watched my every move checking that I was not a predator. As I neared I started to snap away, the dew laden grass glittered. One watched and posed away, the other two disinterested carried on munching away. He became inquisitive by the noise of my camera and started to approach but in doing this, 4 horses charged out of a little wood behind me. I hadn’t even noticed they were there, only the other two on the opposite side of the path to me. On they cantered towards me, nostrils flared, snorting and prancing. ‘Oh boy, I don’t want to get caught up in this’ I thought. I backed away slowly, making sure I wasn’t going to be stuck in the middle of them, they stopped, observed and one brave pony approaches, a slight wild look in his eye. ‘Steadddy’ I murmured. His ears twitched, slowly he walks on. I moved my arm slightly; he jumps back, spins and runs. Snorting he tries again whilst two others fight just to the left of me, kicking and rearing at each other. This is not the position I want to be in. I edge to my right, slowly making way to give myself a good distance between them again. The inquisitive one follows me, I stop, he stops. Slowly I turn take some pictures, he breathes out, adding to the fog. Shoving his nose towards to the camera lens he sniffs it, deciding I am no threat, he wanders back to his herd. I stand and watch, behind me the golden light softly caressed the land.

The herd move around splitting into their groups of 4, a 3 and a lone one. I think to myself, now then if they would kindly like to stand over there in the golden light it would be beautiful, like the picture I hoped to achieve. What happened next was magical. One pony wandered straight past me, followed by another into the pale orange hue. I stood and gawped. I couldn’t believe it. I snapped away frantically not wanting to miss my chance, in the doing of this, I was joined by a pony stood at my side, looking on he sighed, and nudged me. When I didn’t respond to this he took to grabbing my camera bag between his teeth and pulling backwards, he soon lost interest when this didn’t get a response either and walking into the light.

I don’t know what it is with these ponies, but seemed to love starting a fight right in front of me. For the second time this day I had a pair squeal and rear up at each other. I left them all too it for about half an hour to look around the rest of the reserve before heading back, taking some more photos of the ponies to pass some time before heading to the bus.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday, I took over 700…..and have somehow got to pick ones out for the magazine article and for prints. Fun and games, but please let me know what you think :).

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