From photography

New Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5

While the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 II coming out, Olympus slashed the price on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 which is still an amazing camera.  After researching, debating, agonizing over the purchase, I decided to make the upgrade from the Olympus PEN E-PL2 to the E-M5.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 12-50mm lens

I ordered the camera from Don’s Photo in Saskatoon and I hope to have it in a couple of weeks.  Thanks to Jordon who is using his Christmas money for this purchase.  Actually thanks to Jordon who bought (and surprised me) with the Olympus PEN E-PL2 and some amazing lenses since then. 

Travelling the World with One Lens

Outdoor Photographer has a neat article on a professional photographer travelling the world with just a Canon 40D and a Tamron 18-270mm camera.


I brought a Canon EOS 40D and the longest, most versatile lens then available for that camera, a Tamron 18-270mm ƒ/3.5-6.3. This outfit gave me the 35mm equivalent of 29-432mm with a stabilized (Tamron calls it Vibration Compensation, or VC), reasonably fast, autofocus lens. Sure, sometimes I wished for more wide-angle when under an architectural masterpiece, and sometimes I wished for more telephoto reach when we saw elusive wildlife, but 99% of the time, that 29-432mm was all I needed. My only accessory was a polarizer for my lens. I also had two extra batteries and a good-sized JOBY GorillaPod tripod. We photographed every day, almost all day, especially when we got to a new place and didn’t need to “move on” till we decided it was time. My equipment held up fine for the entire 21 months. 

Of course if it was me, it would be an Olympus PEN EPL-7 and an Olympus 14-150mm lens but you get the idea. 

It’s freezing out, time to escape

With it being so cold this January, we couldn’t help but plan out a summer getaway.

We have two trips planned for this summer.  One is our long delayed micro adventure to Grey Owl’s Cabin.  We are doing that in June just after Mark’s 15th birthday (Jordon has the gear guide for the hike here)

The second is a summer vacation to Calgary at the end of July.  Jordon was born in Edmonton but still considers Calgary his hometown despite only living there for less than a decade as a kid.  I think it is a combination of childhood experiences and memories combined with his one way bromance with Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi.  Oh yeah, the Rocky Mountains.

When we started to think about a trip this summer, I realized that we have a lot of AirMiles accumulated.  AirMiles are the only reason why we continue to be treated poorly by the Bank of Montreal (which took a year to fix Jordon’s debit card so it would not randomly lock him out of his account).  We are using the AirMiles to pay for our hotel which makes for a really cheap trip.  

I just booked our hotel rooms at the Best Western Plus Calgary Centre Inn on Macleod Trail.  We have stayed there before and liked it.  It’s not the Delta Bessborough or anything but it’s new, clean and is in easy walking distance of a C-Train station, is just down from Chinook Centre and has a pool, hot tub, and pool for small children.  It also has an early morning breakfast buffet that the kids like.  It is the definition of a family hotel which is great for us as we are a family.

The plan is to take off in the early morning of a Friday and let the kids sleep in the back of the car.  We will take the leisurely drive to Drumheller and take some photographs of their rather scenic downtown and give the kids some time to stretch their legs.   Hopefully be in Calgary by early afternoon and book into our hotel.  As soon as we get settled in, we will grab our cameras and head downtown on the LRT and explore downtown Calgary, find the Peace Bridge, check out The Bow, and wander around downtown Calgary.  If I know us, we will be right back down there to do some night photography.

The Peace Bridge in Calgary an HDR photo

Mark Cooper in downtown Calgary

The next morning the plan is to get up early and take the scenic route to Banff and then head straight to Johnston’s Canyon Trail and walk the trail along the seven waterfalls.  Knowing us, we will have cameras in tow and I am really looking forward to doing this again and with the boys.  It’s about a two hour hike which will leave us lots of time to explore Banff later on in the day.

Lower fall johnston Canyon

After the hike, the plan is to continue up the Bow Valley Parkway to the Chateau Lake Louise where we will grab lunch and head back to Banff.  Hopefully we will see some wildlife along this section of the park.

 On the way back to Banff, we will grab lunch at a wonderful picnic spot at the start of the Sawback Trail.  It has some quiet picnic tables, a babbling brook, and amazing scenery.  The first time Jordon took me there, a large herd of elk surrounded our car and licked all of the salt off it.  It was covered in Elk saliva, even under the door handles.  Gross.  I hope that doesn’t happen again.  If it does, I’ll get the boys to open my door.

The brook in Sawback and water running off the canyon walls of Johnston’s Canyon have a rich history with Jordon.  He has drank both of them and gotten really sick from Giardia as a kid.  Hopefully he has learned something since then but it’s Jordon so expect him to be hospitalized in Calgary.

After Johnston’s Canyon, we are off to Cave and Basin National Historical Site which in all of my trips to Banff, I have never been to.  The last time we were in Banff it was being renovated and updated.  It’s now open, improved, and dirt cheap to explore.  Jordon loves it and can’t wait to take the boys and myself into the cave and see the glowing water.  It should be amazing.  Since we are there on a Saturday, we may stay late and return there for a lantern tour of the caves.

If we have time, it will be up the Banff Gondola again.  I have been up a few times in winter but never in the summer.  It will be a long day but there is always time for the Bow Falls in Banff.  July weather will mean a little more green than in this photo Jordon took in 2010.

Bow Falls in Banff

To end the day, Mark suggested we will head to the Upper Banff Hot Springs for a hot soak in the pool before heading back to Calgary.

After soaking in the hot tub that night, the next morning should find us at Heritage Park.  I have never been but it looks amazing and a lot of fun.  Jordon won’t tell me why but he says to bring some extra small change along when we go.

Finally on our last day there we will take in the Calgary Zoo.  I’m not worried about Jordon in Banff, downtown Calgary, or even in Drumheller but he has this fear of birds.  Calgary Zoo has a bird house.  Jordon kind of freaked out the last time he was there.  We’ll have our cameras out this time.

As always we will connect with some friends, family, and MEC and since it is right next door, The Camera Store.

I can’t wait.

A Year in Review

It’s hard to look back at 2014 yet in some ways I am glad it happened.

At a certain point this summer, after making a mess of almost everything including my marriage and having my two kids despise me, I figured 2014 would end every differently.  I honestly didn’t think that I would be married by the end of 2014.  I figured that I would alone and living in a small suite somewhere.

What saved things was Jordon and his stubbornness.  Despite hurting him badly, he put it aside enough to work through things and help me get help.  He has an amazing ability to hit “reset”.  It has saved our marriage more than once.

Jordon has a big belief in doing the right things.  He took me for long walks.  At the start I couldn’t even talk about what I was thinking which wasn’t making things much better.  Over time things got better.  As usual it is Jordon figuring things out rather than me doing things.  I am so glad he did.

He also helped the boys, especially Mark figure out what he was feeling and work through that.  At a time when I couldn’t talk to my kids without them seething, Jordon helped them and me communicate again.

At work things were slightly better.  I applied for and got a full time position.  I was hoping there was a full time employee lounge and underground parking but nope.  I get no perks other than consistent hours and better benefits which is good.  I also find myself getting better shifts.  With better shifts means more flexibility in trading shifts.

My relationship with my family is still non-existent.  My parents haven’t cared for decades.  This year they were pretty open about that.  In the end, they really like sending me a Christmas card that says, “Aubrey & Marsha” and nothing else.  When I tell them not to bother sending a generic card, there is no communication at all.  Its a weird choice of token communication or nothing at all.

As an excuse not to talk, they need to “figure out my depression” and “me being molested”.  They have spent 16 years without talking to me as they “understand” things.  Their insight of 2014 and after 16 years of working at it.  Depression is hard, my mother didn’t value me because I am a women and my father blames me for being sexually assaulted.  He also finds it embarrassing that I was molested.   I don’t think we are making progress folks.  

Sadly I don’t think they care and that in many ways they are glad I am no longer around.  Like my dad said to me, I am an embarrassment to them and as my mother said, not worth much being a women.  The joys of growing up Guyanese I guess.  It’s an experience many Guyanese women have felt.

It’s been an up and down year.  The highs have been friends and the guys.  The lows have been chaos that I have created in trying to hide the depression.  I am hoping 2015 has a different vibe.

An early Christmas

We generally get together on Christmas Day with Jerry & Gloria Reimer and Kristy.  This year Christmas Day isn’t going to work so we got together tonight for a fabulous Christmas dinner.  There was turkey, green bean casserole, potatoes, stuffing, wine, and amazing farmer’s sausage from Valley Meat Processors.

After dinner we exchanged gifts and had a lot of fun.  They gave Jordon the book Legacy of Worship: Sacred Places in Rural Saskatchewan.

Legacy of Worship

I can’t wait to read this book.

We got a couple of great couple gifts.  A night at the movies (from Kristy) some tickets to the Saskatoon Blades (as a family) and some tickets to Persephone Theatre.  I also was given a wonderful day at Just For You Day Spa.

They spoiled Oliver with a big interactive puzzle showing the planets, Lego, more Lego and an old school children’s book.  Mark was tormented with some brain teasers, a book, and a gift card (which he just spent on a Monocular and some cases for his lens).  He was really excited.  

We gave Gloria some Sennheisser headphones and Charlie LeDuff’s book Detroit: An American Autopsy.  We gave Jerry a bluetooth speaker and Stuck in the Middle and we gave Kristy a purse, Nikon 24-70 f2.8 lens mug, and a collection of recipes for when you are cooking with Coca-Cola.

It was a really nice evening and a great way to kick off our Christmas season.