Dingne (France)

The rapid spread of the Covoid 19 virus has pretty much stopped travel for the next – unknown while. We can’t stop thinking about travel; places where we have been – or places we would like to visit at some point in the future.

Here goes a little challenge – to post places where you have been starting with the letter ‘D’. Lets see how far we can take this, and see how many letters we can include.

Dinge (France). Pictures from April 28, 29 2015.  Camera – Fuji X-E1, X-Pro1 and Revue-3 film camera.

Chero Village (Kampong Cham, Cambodia)

The rapid spread of the Covoid 19 virus has pretty much stopped travel for the next – unknown while. We can’t stop thinking about travel; places where we have been – or places we would like to visit at some point in the future.

Here goes a little challenge – to post places where you have been starting with the letter ‘C’. Lets see how far we can take this, and see how many letters we can include.

These pictures taken during a two week volunteer session at OBT (Organization for Basic Training), a Cambodian-run non-governmental organization established in 2007 by Sophal Pot to provide education and empowerment of the children living in Chiro Village.

November 30, 2014 – December 12, 2014.

 

Bhaktapur City, Nepal

The rapid spread of the Covoid 19 virus has pretty much stopped travel for the next – unknown while. We can’t stop thinking about travel; places where we have been – or places we would like to visit at some point in the future.

Here goes a little challenge – to post places where you have been starting with the letter ‘B’. Lets see how far we can take this, and see how many letters we can include. 

All photos from March 3, 4, 5 and 6 – 2015.

GoPro2, Fuji XE-1 and X-Pro

 

Aix-en-Provence (France)

The rapid spread of the Covoid 19 virus has pretty much stopped travel for the next – unknown while.  We can’t stop thinking about travel; places where we have been – or places we would like to visit at some point in the future.

Here goes a little challenge – to post places where you have been starting with the letter ‘A’. Lets see how far we can take this, and see how many letters we can include.

All photos from April 24 & 25, 2015, with either a Fujifilm X-Pro + 55-200mm 3.5-4.8 or Fujifilm X-E1 + 14mm/2.8

Ice Road Bikering: Bechoko to Gameti

Two years ago. March 2018 – 

With the trucks loaded with bikes, food, camping gear, food and extra clothes, we began the one hour drive to Bechoko. A three day, 194km fatbike adventure on winter roads begins. 

Roll ahead two days, Sarah Lake, March 24, 2018.  

 

The ice on the lake is the most beautiful ice – crystal clear and smoother than most hockey arenas. We are on bikes, on a 25km long lake and heading straight into a 30 to 40km headwind. At times it seems that pushing the bike is less work than trying to peddle. 

I’ve got frostbite on my nose and ears, my body aches from pedaling and my brain is fatigued from concentrating on keeping my bike upright. 

Fortunately, this was the last day – The previous two days were much more …pleasant…

Sarah Lake, March 24, 2018.  

In November 2017 we gathered for the first planning session. Ewan had completed a similar bike trip along the Mackenzie Highways a year earlier – the rest of us – winter bike packing beginners. The maps were unrolled on the kitchen table showing the different winter road options, over portages and frozen lakes.  We settled on the Bechoko to Gameti route, a total of 194 kilometers. With climate change, ice roads are slowly becoming a thing of the past; more and more are being replaced by all-weather roads.    From then on Bob, Amanda and I started depleting our bank accounts to buy winter camping gear including new -40C sleeping bags, winter tents and sleeping mats. 

During the spring we had a couple of practice camping trips and rides with fully loaded bikes. All this gear – how are we going to pack it all on our bikes ?. As time grew closer we decided to have a support/safety vehicle for safety, and for the convenience of being able to bring EVERYTHING needed for any conditions the weather may throw our way. One week before the scheduled departure we were joined by Damian and Bev. By coincidence, they had also selected the same trip on the very same weekend, however at the last minute their logistics support was not available, so now there were six of us.

We had planned for pit stops every 20km, with whom ever was driving in the support vehicle setting up a stove for hot soup or tea. With clear skies, no wind and relatively warm conditions we made good progress.

Pit stop on Marion Lake. Maps laid out to track our progress and best understand the length of the journey.

 

It took several hours to bike the length of Marion Lake, then over smaller lakes and portages. After obligatory photos at the 50km highway sign to mark my 50th birthday – How better to celebrate that occasion. Our pace was surprisingly fast, and by the time we stopped for the night we had biked 68Km. 

Day One. Cooking Dinner along the road, and a surprise birthday cake.

Day two started with pushing our bikes a few kilometers to get out bodies and muscles warmed up for a day of biking. As we rode, lakes and portages passed by. Each of the bikers traveling at their own speed; ride fast enough to keep warm and slow enough to not break a sweat (sweating can cause hypothermia). Surprisingly, even in -70C rated boots feet still got cold.

 

Barren Ground Coffee on Mazenod Lake

 

We traveled over all kinds of road conditions, hard packed snow, bare ice on lakes and portages (the portages are actually flooded to make them last longer as the days get warmer) and rough overflow. With the exception of the odd vehicle – and very curious drivers – no doubt wondering what the heck we were doing, and why we would even think of bicycling this road. Wildlife was also scarce, except for the moose carcass and a wolverine that followed one of the riders for a while. 

 

Towards the end of the second day, Damien and I were at the back of the group. My rear tire was loosing pressure, and we dreaded the thought of changing a fat bike tire in the middle of a windswept lake. Luck prevailed, and we were able to cycle into camp.

Earlier, Amanda, driving the support vehicle had selected a perfect location to set up camp on Mazenod Lake, and had even donned snowshoes to pack a trail and compact the snow to make setting up the tents so much easier. That evening, as we huddled around our camp stoves, comparing the calorie values of our respective boil-in-the bag meals, and tasting Ewan’s homemade hot water disolvable ‘pucks’ – to me they tasted like hand soap. 

On day 3 light crept through our tents around 7, we woke to the sounds of frosted tent zippers and gas stoves and the aroma of fresh coffee. Amanda had selected a perfect camping spot – lots of morning sun and sheltered from the light wind. Conversation during the morning was centered on how amazing the weather had been, and the relatively few bike crashes. Bob had decided to ride in the support vehicle as his knee was still sore from a crash early on day one. This solved the need to fix my flat tire, as I could use Bob’s bike for the day. 

As the hours went by we started to encounter stronger wind. The stronger gusts wanted to push us backwards, or at least cause our bikes to want to veer into the smooth polished, and super slippery bare ice. At times, despite our best efforts, we were slowed to a crawl and even began walking and pushing our bikes. The wind continued to get stronger and stronger, and our route was directly into the wind. More and more smooth bare ice appeared, the wind blowing away the packed snow that we needed for traction for our tires, and boots when pushing. My speed was anywhere from two to five miles an hour.

Blowing snow collected on the leeward side of the snowbanks – saving a narrow strip of suitable riding track. With each gust, the fine crystalline snow swirled around the trail, blowing past me and over the polished glass surface of the exposed sea ice, in hypnotic patterns. 

This was probably the most beautiful ice that I’d ever seen; crystal clear, completely smooth. A speed skaters dream – a bikers nightmare !. At times, the smooth ice surface combined with the high winds made riding virtually impossible.

In front of me somewhere was Ewan, Bev and the truck.. 

“What the F*** am I doing here – this is worse than Planet Hoth”

“What the F*** am I doing here – this is worse than Planet Hoth”(Star Wars reference). I had unceremoniously dropped the bike into a snowbank and took a few pictures to record the experience.  A few minutes later Damien had caught up and we silently pushed our bikes into the wind. 

 

Pushing bikes into the wind.

At 2pm we re-grouped at the north end of Sarah Lake. Our progress has slowed to a crawl. Energy reserves had plummeted. We had biked 150km – only about 40km to Gameti. From here on – a short portage then a nearly 40km crossing on Faber Lake to Gameti. 

It was Decision time. We had three choices:

                             Camp here

                             Continue, 

                             Bail

Occasionally there comes a point in an adventure where circumstances force you to make a decision that will ultimately determine the outcome of the trip. Halfway through day three we had such a decision to make. 

 

I have already reached deep into my energy reserves. On a calm day, I could have eaten a few power bars and pushed on. 40 km wasn’t that far – under normal circumstances. But this was a 30 to 40km/hr head wind. With the decision made to bail, I packed my gear into the truck for the drive to Gameti. Bitter sweet – I’d have preferred to have continued. Two hours later, the truck returned to check in on Damian and Bev. They had covered 25km. Bev’s words were –  

”You didn’t miss a F*ing thing”

 

Ewan – cycled in a few hours later. Frostbitten and completely Spent. He had biked the whole length 190km. That evening, after hot showers we celebrated with a bottle of scotch and had a potluck of sorts finishing off our remaining camping food.

The next morning after waking up in warm beds, we had a leisurely bike tour around Gameti and packed up our gear in preparation for the drive home.  Shana and Maggie had driven from Yellowknife to drive us back to our vehicles in Bechoko. They had been delayed as the road we had biked on the previous day had been closed due to snowdrifts.  They had brought beer, fresh fruit and snacks for the drive home. By 9:30pm we had transferred gear and bikes to the other vehicles and were heading back to Yellowknife. Two hours later (total distance of 100km) we were home – Yes – Exhausted and happy.

One of the most memorable moments of the trip, which really touched my heart, was the birthday cake on Day One. In the middle of nowhere and a few close friends. The least enjoyable was biking on Sarah Lake. I remember my thoughts as I took that picture

 

With frostbite on my nose and ears, my body ached from pedalling and my brain is fatigued from concentrating on keeping my bike upright. 

Fortunately, this was the last day – The previous two days were much more …pleasant…

 

Thanks to Barren Ground Coffee for their sponsorship !

Footnote: Our planned bike ride in 2019, Bechoko to Whati was cancelled due to a sudden warming and the ice road was closed. 

March 2020 – Our last opportunity to bike the Bechoko – Whati ice road as construction has already started on a all-season road. The end of the ice roads is near. Trip planned and ready to go.

 

Late Night Scribbles

My creativity time – it boils down to a few minutes every couple of days.

When the daily chores of life are done; dishes washed (well – not always), messages answered, logistics for the next day planned out, girls picked up or dropped off, finished helping the girls with homework and fires of the day put out – it is time to put my self out.  Teeth brushed, PJs on and time for bed. This is when the magic starts.  

A small glass of scotch, a pen and my notebook.  Old fashioned eh !.  I can think faster that I can type (or my typing skills are too slow for my thoughts).  Actually, i don’t want to use electronic devices in bed – the blue light, the distraction with checking out a movie on netflix or utube, checking social media and so on.  So – no electronics in bed. Pen and paper for me.

Sip a bit of scotch…

And a bit more…

And a bit more…

The busy-ness of the day seeps away…

Busyness: the state or condition of having a great deal to do.
“it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life”
https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/busyness

 

The little thoughts and ideas that have percolated in my head all day slowly start to form.

Pen writing all this stuff down as fast as the neurons in my head can put the thoughts together.

My notes – scrawled all over the page. My handwriting is pretty horrible at the best of time, and more so when writing fast. Spelling, neatness, punctuation and proper grammar all fall by the wayside. And – that is good. I don’t go back to make corrections – just keep going, writing it all down.

 

The next day when I open the notebook, it is all there. It looks like chicken scrawl, and takes a bit of time to decipher what was written.

That is all part of the fun – sort of. I can’t ask anyone else to decipher what was written. It is my hand writing, my scrawl and my thoughts.

When it is time to put the scrawl to blog, I try to respect the authors ideas – and not edit or censor those ideas. It is me anyway – In a more relaxed and creative state.

And – thus it starts.

Nothing Brilliant, Nothing Earth shattering.

Random thoughts – maybe connected.

It is the creative side in me sneaking out.

 

What is your Trick to release your Creative thoughts ?

 

       

The List – of things to do

We all have a list of things to do –

On papers, in our heads or in a electronic planner.

The lists of things to do – groceries, house chores (dishes, laundry, vacuum), make plans to meet a friend, more house chores (order more fuel oil, shovel driveway, get firewood), book a flight, and more house chores (fix a leaking tap, finish off kitchen renos, paint bathroom). You get it – we all have a list, and as soon as one item is crossed off – a new item appears; maybe even a few extra items.  The list is never ending. A non-stop conveyor belt of things to do –

Every notice that the fun stuff doesn’t make the list. !

The list is always the ‘must dos’ – not the ‘this will make me feel good’ things.

Creative time ?.  Put that one the list for giggles – and you know what happens.

The list is non-stop Triage – do the most critical items and work down.

Creative Time – As you can guess. It isn’t a Code Red, Code Blue or mission critical.

Life can go on and one without Creative Time.  Millions of people go through life without any Creative Time. They keep them selves busy.

But for some of us – missing Creative Time is Ok for a while. After a while -it starts to nag – As if saying ‘Put me on the List”…..”I am important too”.

It has been nagging me for a while….

 

A teaser picture – The “List” and the….Solution !.

Next week – the ‘Solution”…

Robotic Creativity

Yes – it has been a while since I posted here.

And – even longer since I’ve actually written more than a few words.

 

I could write about excuses, excuses and more Excuses for why this blog has been so quiet and dormant.

Roll back ten years and I was posting to social media every day. I was posting All-the time.

I started this website in 2011 mostly to show the 360 degree virtual panoramas. Over time, posts about techniques, cameras and travels. During some difficult days there were a couple of posts about more deep personal stuff – and these posts have since been turned off.

For me- writing isn’t easy.

Never has been and likely Never will be.

At work, I write e-mails in typical bureaucratic speak – It isn’t my words or thoughts. It is all crafted to comply with government regulations. All facts, No Emotion.

At work, I mostly write computer code; IF Loops, Else Loops. It is Java code – and Yes – i do drink a lot of java too.

 

I’ve stopped being creative. Stopped building, drawing, painting and thinking in a non-linear way.

Do it day after day and I start to feel like a robot.

 

I am going to try posting once a week – in a valiant (or feeble) attempt to kick up my own creative energy.

What do you do to get the creativity going ?

 

 

Where would you like to be…?

After traveling around the world for 10 months – I am still asked “Where would you rather be ?”

I am always struck by the question …where…where…Where would you rather be ?. It assumes that I want to be somewhere else !.

I have been back for nearly three weeks, and have returned to work for nearly three weeks.  The question “Where would you rather be ?” rings clearly in my mind.

 

Frankly – Yes, I would rather be somewhere else, but until today – I did not know where.  There has been a lot going in my person life, along with a return to work (sitting quietly in a cubicle for 6 hours a day). Yes, it is hard.

The question “Where would you rather be ?” rings clearly in my mind.

After a brief hiatus, I have again picked up my camera. I still post the odd photo on Facebook, Flickr or Twitter. For the most part, they are simply a picture of random subjects, or something that I know people will like. Most folks love photos of the northern lights, sunrise and sunsets.

Again, the question “Where would you rather be ?” rings clearly in my mind. Physically, I am here, but I am not.  It is obvious that my mind isn’t really here. To me, the photos that I have been posting as the easy ones – pictures that do not require an explanation.  I was recently at a photography exhibit – the concept was unique, and photos were all technically (focus, lighting, and composition etc) were perfect. I found myself staring at the photo – of naked young women with an animal skull in front of their faces.  I wasn’t intentionally staring at their naked bodies, more that I was thinking about the photos. In my mind, they were a picture that would attract attention – similar to a photo of northern lights, a sunrise or a sunset.  There was no explanation. Why did the photographer use a very skinny model, instead of a more rounded model, What was the photographer trying to represent with these naked images of the young women ?.   In a blank stare, I continue to look at the photos.

Again, the question “Where would you rather be ?” rings clearly in my mind.

I am here, looking at these naked images but obviously my mind is somewhere else.

Some of the photos that I have taken since arrive back in Yellowknife are the easy photos, and the more significant photos need an explanation. Without context or explanation – they would simply be a photo with no depth, no reason, and seemingly – no thought. I have yet to post these photos, or transcribe the scribbles from my notebook to a computer.

The next time, someone asks “Where would you rather be ?” – I now know, where I would rather be. Simply – would rather be in a place where I would not need to add those explanations – where it could be done verbally, siting with friends – over beers or around a campfire. It simply wold not be appropriate to add the explanations to a blog post.

Yes – “Where would you rather be ?” now has an answer.

 

Dynamic Amsterdam

One of the disadvantages of photography is that it is a snapshot in time based on the shutter speed. As photographers, we can choose freeze time by using a very fast shutter speed, or slow down time by using a slow shutter speed.
This is a composite image, of three sets of three photos (slow, medium and fast shutter speed ie: HDR) all combined together into one.

 

Why ?. The advantage of combining image is to record the static (non-moving objects) and the blur of objects that moved based on the the speed of movement.

 
All photos taken with a Fuji X-E1 and XF14mm, at various shutter speeds with a Hoya 8xND and Hoya Polarizer, and processed in PhotoMatrixPro. Click on any image in the gallery to see it bigger, click on the small black arrows to scroll to the next image.