Saturday, December 24, 2011

Of Lost Sunsets & Cat Rescues

I'd forgotten this photo was on my card! This incredible sunset (colours not enhanced, btw) was taken on December 21st, the Winter Solstice:

View a better quality version of the photo above on smugmug.

I remembered the sunset when I downloaded today's photos of the newest guest at ICAN, a cat found a few days ago near the Legion in Invermere:

More photos of Legion and other ICAN guests on smugmug, along with information on how to give a forever home to one of these lovely cats! Legion is a very spunky little cat, very curious and very affectionate!

It was two steps forward (two cats - Minou and Barney - were adopted) and one step back (another guest, Legion, moved into the cozy shelter) at ICAN this week. At least we're headed in the right direction!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's wishing you and all those you hold dear a peaceful and joyous holiday season!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

BC Miele Cup - Men's Slalom - Panorama

This was the last day of racing at Panorama before the Christmas break, and the fourth day in a four-day series of men's races. It was a glorious bluebird day, although admittedly rather chilly (next time I'll be seriously considering taking finger- and toe-warmers along!).

Mt Nelson

Big lesson learned today: Never assume anything - always double-check! All the previous day's races started just after 10am. I assumed that yesterday's racing would be the same. Wrong! Today's race started at 9.35am ... so I missed the first 11 racers, dang-it!

And, as Sod's Law would have it, those first 11 racers included the top three finishers: Erik Read (Can), Travis Dawson (Can) and Eian Sandvik (Nor). Sorry guys!

I really enjoyed shooting slalom, though! It was my first time shooting this race format. There's not so much time between racers (good for days like yesterday, which were pretty cold when you're standing around!), and the gates are close together so you have more chance of getting a couple of angles of each competitor.

As usual, I've posted all the photos on my smugmug page, but here are a couple of less-than-elegant moments I caught:

Monday, December 19, 2011

BC Miele Cup - Men's GS - Panorama Resort

Back up to Panorama Resort today, to shoot the men's GS racing. This particular race series features the future of ski racing: 16-18 year olds.

Ran into a big challenge right away - they had closed the gate that I shot through a few days ago. Darn! And I couldn't see another above me, so had to find a way ... ended up shooting about 20m back from the fence, where I was just tall enough to see over it!

To add to my difficulties, there was a snow gun making snow just below the course ... and periodically the cloud of new snow would blow over the track. I'm surprised race officials allowed it, actually, but hey, what do I know? From my perspective, the mistiness from the snow making played havoc with my AF!

Anyway I think I got most of the racers who made it down to the bottom of the course during their first run. Here are a couple of shots ... the rest are in my smugmug gallery:

Slight biased towards the Canadian competitors, of course!  ;-)

Hope to be back at Pano tomorrow or the day after for the slalom races!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cats at ICAN

I spent another hour or so at the Invermere Companion Animal Network this afternoon. Took Paul along just in case I needed help ... risky, I know ... we could've ended up bringing a cat or two home.

This time I got photos of all ICAN's guests, I think ... unless someone was hiding somewhere!

And I learned a few things, too! About using flash ...

... don't be afraid, flash is your friend!
... don't bounce flash of a purple wall unless you want purple everything (doh!)!

I used the 70-200 lens this time, in an effort to keep more distance between me and my subjects. I learned ...

... remember to use a greater depth of field / smaller aperture so that more of the cat's face is in focus!
... using a longer lens in close quarters can be very challenging!
... no matter the length of the lens hood, someone's gonna put a noseprint on the glass!

Below are the shots the didn't quite make the cut, but that I like anyway. The better shots are on my smugmug page:

Some of the new arrivals come from a dumping ... at a rest stop several kilometers from anywhere, someone had dumped the cats ... all haven't been found yet ... but our vollies are stopping by regularly with food, trying to encourage the critters to come in from the cold ... just hope they all make it! What a criminal thing to do ... especially when daytime high temp's are below freezing! There are no excuses - this is just plain cruelty!

Oh, and another thing, it's very difficult taking decent photos when you have an 8 week old kitten perched on your shoulder, licking your ear!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Audi Nor Am Cup - Men's Super G at Panorama

So, after a long, cold session shooting the ladies' Super G on Sunday morning, I had to take the time to hike back down to the lodge and spend about 25 minutes thawing (literally - the pain told me so!) my fingers and toes. I also had a bite to eat, then I hiked back up to watch the men's race.

The action was intense, as you can see from the expressions below, and the field was very international!

The whole collection of men's race photos has been posted on my smugmug page. I had the good intention of using the start list to be able to match names with faces, but bib numbers are hidden from view (unless I turned around and took pictures of racers' backs, which would've been a pain in the axx - and my back, too!).

Needless to say, by the time the men had finished, about 2 hours later, the digits were frozen again ... I had to stop at the lodge to thaw them out before I could even think about driving home! Hope the results were worth it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Audi Nor Am Cup - Ladies' Super G at Panorama

Yesterday I spent the day hiking up and down Panorama's hill ... several times ... I went to the resort to take some photos of the Nor Am Super G ski races that were being held there.

The finish area was a bit above the village, so it was a hike to get there. But there were no decent action shots to be had from the base area. So I hiked up the viewer's right of the course to see what angles I could find. Only to discover that the safety netting is so high that I can't see over it from beside the course, and there were no accessible vantage points beside the track that would give me the elevation I needed! So I tried shooting through the fence. Of course, one can't tell from the small lcd on the back of the camera, exactly how sharp the images are that one's capturing. They looked ok, but I just had a bad feeling. So down I went again.

I'd spotted a gap in the fencing just above the finish line (on the opposite side of the track - had to be, didn't it?!) that I might be able to shoot from ... it's where the sliders (the skiers who side-slip down the course to clear off any loose snow) can exit the course without triggering the finish mechanism and messing up the timing. Getting to the gap involved walking almost back down to the village area, around a block of forest, and up another trail. But I did it. And I'm glad I did!

Here are the a couple of my fav's from the day's shooting - lots more of the ladies race to be had on my smugmug page:

A Team Canada Member Cuts It Fine

Determination: Lost Pole & Glove But Still Competing!
Boy, I got cold toes and fingers! It's hot work climbing up the hill, but it doesn't take long when you're standing still to feel the -10C in your digits! 

Photos from the men's event coming soon!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ICAN - Invermere Companion Animal Network

After an extremely difficult few weeks at home, I think I'm back in the photography saddle!

Last week I emailed one of our local pet adoption centres and offered my services as a volunteer photographer. Happily, Lana at ICAN, the Invermere Companion Animal Network, responded positively ... and invited me to go over yesterday to see what I could capture of one particular cat, and a rabbit that was being dropped off!

I was only at ICAN for about 90 minutes, but knew that I was loving what I was doing! I also knew that it was going to be WAY more challenging than I expected! Especially at this time of year, with the temperatures being consistently well below freezing! Next visit will be longer, for sure, and I'll be better prepared with my gear (ie: a good flash unit, and a longer lens so that I don't have to get quite so in-your-face with ICAN's guests!).

So, here are some of the photos that I took yesterday. These are the shots that didn't make my quality "cut" ... but I think are nice enough to share ... please visit my ICAN Cat and Rabbit pages on Smugmug to see the photos that I've sent to the organization for posting on their website, and using in any of the organization's promotional and fundraising print work.





A big THANK YOU to Lana and Sylvia for welcoming me into the facility and giving me the grand tour ... and the run of the place with my camera! I'm really looking forward to working with you and your team, and hope I can make a significant contribution to the success of the project!