From photography

How the West was Once

Yesterday we got up early and headed to Heritage Park for the opening of the park at 9:30 a.m.  We parked and after paying $1 each, we took a restored Calgary Municipal Street Car into the Historical Village where we did some scouting out of the shopping.  Oliver was asked to blow the street car’s whistle so he was thrilled and after getting to the main entrance he goes, “there’s more?”.

Oliver and Mark riding the Calgary Municipal Streetcar into Heritage Park

We then headed into Gasoline Alley where we checked out a series of old historic cars and a restored gas station.

Gasoline Alley in Calgary's Heritage Park

Inside Gasoline Alley in Calgary's Heritage Park

After heading into the main park, we immediately got into a steam powered locomotive at Midnapore Station to Shepard Station that took us to the back of the park.

Conductor on the train

From there we took the replica paddlewheeler out into Glenmore Reservoir where we watched some rowing and sailing races.  The breeze just about froze me to death but Jordon and Mark found it refreshing so I used Jordon as a wind break.

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Picnic on the shore of Glenmore Resovoir in Calgary

Sailing boats in Calgary's Glenmore Resovoir

From there we checked out the old midway where Oliver and Mark went on the Caterpillar.  As it was going Jordon read the sign that says that it was super popular for dating couples to go on because once the top closed, there was no telling what was happening.  Mark got off the ride with a “you’ve got to be kidding me look on his face”.

Then it was off to the old Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour and explored the rest of Main Street.  I wandered into the old Gledhill’s Drugstore which used to be in Dundurn and later Hanley.  I bought Jordon and old retro camera and typewriter poster sized advertisements.  Mark wanted one of the camera as well. 

Main Street in Calgary's Heritage Park

Some street performers in Calgary's Heritage Park

I hit up the bakery, checked out an wooden oil rig, and road the train to different parts of the park.

Finally it was time to go and we picked up a couple of things at the gift shops in the entrance to the park.  Mark wanted a poster that showed the history of Canadian aviation.  I got a print of an early advertisement for CP Rail and the Chateau Laurier. 

Vintage CP Rail Advertisemtent for Lake Louise

Shepard Station in Heritage Park

In the end, I had no idea what to expect from Heritage Park but I really, really enjoyed it.  If you have never checked it out, add it to your list of things to visit in Calgary.  It’s well worth the money and the day we spent there.

Exploring Banff National Park

Good morning!

I am sleeping in today.  After two straight days of being up at 5:30 a.m., we get to sleep into 7:30 a.m. today.

We took the old highway to Banff which is a long and winding highway through Cochrane and some of the most amazing scenery ever.  It’s one of our favorite drives.

Calgary to Johnston's Canyon Map

The morning got off with a hitch when I forgot jackets for Jordon and I.  So I went into Safeway in Banff while Jordon and Mark went shopping for a hoodie for Jordon and I.  Jordon never found one he liked (and he never minds the cold like I do) but they found one for me.  It is great and  I was glad I got it.

Me in my Banff National Park hoodie

We drove up the Bow Valley Parkway and got into Johnston’s Canyon early and started to hike along the amazing path.   The parking lot was packed like I had never seen it before.  We started out and it was slow walking along the path.  Jordon used the Map My Hike app and it said that we averaged 15 minutes a kilometre.  It was frustrating.  So many tourists and they were a) either taking selphy’s or texting.  I lost a lot of faith in humanity. 

The start of the hike up Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Waterfall in Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

The first big waterfall at Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

We had plans to go to the second water falls but it had rained the night before and Jordon should not have been hiking up that trail with his ankle and foot the way it was.   It had rained the night before and the trail was really slick.  It wasn’t good for his leg or hip and instead of pushing it too far, we made the decision to do the entire path next year.

After heading back to the car, we got in and checked out the Castle Mountain Campground where we plan to camp next summer for a week.   I’ll be honest, I had looked at the campground website and didn’t pay that close of attention.  When I didn’t notice any showers or washrooms, I kind of freaked.  After being assured that there is washrooms (but no showers), I was okay with it.

After that we pushed up the Bow Valley Parkway while keeping a lookout for black and grizzly bears, moose, and all sorts of elk.

Banff to Lake Louise

We got to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (where Jordon asked me to marry him).

Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park

We had planned to hike a bit but the parking was backed up down the mountain.  People were also parked 11km AWAY from Moraine Lake.  It was insane how much traffic there was.  We have always gone later in the season and have never had to experience the insanity of peak season.

After that we went back down the Bow Valley Parkway and stopped at a picnic area called Sawback.

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Sawback had changed from when Jordon first took me there.  It was a childhood favorite spot of Jordon’s and here it was totally changed.  I was kind of frustrating but Jordon wandered into the bush and we followed him.   He came across the most amazing babbling brook (which is why he loved it).   The picnic tables had moved but the brook was right where it had always been.   I was happy to be there but sad that Jordon’s mom wasn’t.  She would have loved to have shared that spot with her grandkids.

Mark dipping his head into a glacier fed stream

Jordon and Mark dunking Oliver into the stream

Jordon has some hilarious stories of falling in to the brook and then drinking from it (he got sick).  Mark decided to dip his head into it the brook.  He places his hands into the ice cold glacier water and almost died.  He did soak his head and kind of suffered from immediate hypothermia.

Back in Banff, we did visit the Bow Falls where not only Mark dunked himself but so did Oliver.   Learning from experience is not their strong suit. 

Then it was time to head over to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.  I had never been there before but Jordon grew up going to it and was really looking forward to us seeing the site.  It had changed a lot since he was last there but we had fun.  They had a contest for the kids on who could do the most activities there so Oliver was all over the place.  

Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff National Park

We did do some shopping but I realized by the limp that Jordon had, it was time to head back.  Oliver bought an elastic band gun while Jordon bought me some moose shaped ear rings. 

Then it was back to Calgary.  We took Highway 1 back into the city and found ourselves back into the hotel exhausted.  As the boys went to bed, Jordon and I went back down to the hotel pool.

Today we are off to Heritage Park and see how the west was once.  Neither the boys or myself have never been so we are really looking forward to checking it out.

We are in Calgary

We are in Calgary right now and staying in the Best Western Plus Calgary Centre hotel.  Here is how we got here.

This morning at 5:50 a.m. we got up, drove to Tim Horton’s for some mocha chinos.  After caffeinating up (and listening to Jordon complain about Tim Horton’s coffee), we left Saskatoon and were on the Saskatchewan Highway 7 through Rosetown, Kindersley & Alsask by 5:00 a.m.  We then met Alberta Highway 9 which took us through Oyen, Hanna, and Drumheller

The Drive from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Calgary, Alberta

Unlike previous trips to Calgary which generally start with a greasy Egg McMuffin breakfast at McDonald’s on 22nd (and followed by stomach ache until Hanna), I made a healthy breakfast, made fresh coffee and tea, and basically did a much better job of planning. 

The boys were fine.  They both have go-bags, inspired by Lifehacker.  In Oliver’s bag was his Nintendo DS, binoculars, an iPod and headphones, a new book to read, his flashlight, camera, water bottle, and a notebook and pen.  He was good the entire trip, even when his DS ran out of battery life.

Mark’s bag included his tablet,  headphones, flashlight, water bottle, his Fujifilm Finepix XP20 camera, his phone, GPS, tablet, monocular, a notebook, pen, book, and a copy of Outside Magazine.

Jordon and I have them as well.  Mine included my iPod, headphones, flashlight, binoculars, book, magazine, pens, iPad and a notebook.  Jordon’s was similar but like Mark, he has a monocular.  It really makes travelling a lot easier.  For loading the car yesterday, we had two duffle bags, three camera bags, a small cooler with cold drinks and the four go-bags.  Other than coffee mugs this morning, everything was ready to go.

We stopped at Drumheller to let Oliver take a run in the padding pool and for Mark and Oliver to run up the dinosaur’s butt.  When we went through three years ago, Oliver took a look at the giant T-Rex and realized that those stairs went “up his butt” and immediately had second thoughts.  Since then has become more comfortable with the idea.

The break was good for both Mark and Oliver.  Jordon was thinking ahead and had Oliver travel in his swimming trunks.  After he dried off, we pushed onto Horseshoe Canyon where we stopped again and took some photos and let the boys take it in.

After that it was on to Calgary.

Best Western Plus Calgary CentreWe had timed the trip to be both leisurely (which it was) and to coincide with us arriving in Calgary in time to check in at the hotel.  After talking our stuff inside (camera and duffle bags), we took the LRT from the hotel to downtown.

We were checking out MEC and The Camera Store when Jordon got a DM from Dave King asking if we had supper plans.  We did not so we met him at The King and I, a Thai restaurant in downtown Calgary.  The food and service were amazing.

We walked with Dave back to the the Calgary Tower.  Oliver loves the Calgary Tower more than anywhere else and he still thinks it was amazing.  It was incredibly busy but we walked around, tempted fate by standing on the glass floor and then made our way to The Bow.

The Bow was amazing.  I could have stood in that square all day long taking photos and just taking it in.

We were going to go to the Peace Bridge but Oliver was melting down.  He had been up since 5 a.m., didn’t sleep for a second on the trip and had nothing left.  So we took the CTrain back to the hotel and let the boys wind down after a long day.

We will head back downtown to explore The Bow and the Peace Bridge early on Sunday morning before we go to the Calgary Zoo.

How to capture brilliant firework photos

How to take brilliant fireworks photos

Summer is known for great fireworks displays. Olympus is known for great camera scene modes. Coincidence? No way. Your first step in taking great pictures of fireworks is to simply select the Fireworks Scene Mode. The camera will then slow the shutter speed value and set the focusing point to infinity (∞).

If your camera doesn?t have scene modes (i.e. the E-1, E-3 & E-5) or is able to support a high-level of manual control, set the camera to manual mode (M) and adjust the shutter speed and aperture. Setting the aperture to F8 and a shutter speed of 3 to 4 seconds should give good results. Set the ISO sensitivity to 100 or 80. And don’t forget to change to MF (manual focus) and set the focusing point to infinity (∞).

Hiking the Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

On the Sunday before Victoria Day, Jordon, Mark, Oliver, and I hiked the 3 kilometre Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park.

The start and end of the trail features these steps.

The Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Jordon, Oliver, and Mark at the start of the trail.

The start of the Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Mark is ready to go

Mark and Oliver at the start of The Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Oliver had just fallen but was okay.

Oliver on The Narrows Trail

Jordon and Mark on the trail.

Jordon Cooper and Mark Cooper walking The Narrows Trail

Mark showing off his new sunglasses that we bought for him as an early birthday gift.

Mark Cooper on The Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Oliver checking out Waskesiu Lake.

Oliver Cooper exploring the Narrows Trail at Prince Albert National Park

Lake Waskesiu from The Narrows Trail

Jordon and Mark explore the trail.

Jordon Cooper and Mark Cooper hike the Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Down by the boardwalk on The Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Two ducks swimming near the shore.  Well not that near, I was using an M.Zuiko 75-300mm lens which means that I was shooting at a 600mm equivalence.

Ducks on Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park

Here is Oliver exploring the dark underbelly of The Narrows Trail.

Oliver exploring the dark underside of The Narrow Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Tree on The Narrows Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Jordon and Oliver hiking The Narrows Trail

Waskesiu Lake

Waskesiu Lake

If you ever have a chance to explore some of Prince Albert National Park’s trails, make sure you do.  It was my first hike like this and I had a blast.  We explored the Waskesiu River Trail later that day and of course are heading back up to hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin later this summer.

Mother’s Day

I woke up early and went with Jordon to Saskatoon City Hospital while he got treatment and some tests on his foot.  It gets better for a while and then it gets way worse.  Today was a way worse kind of day.  The good news is that they did the test on his leg that he has been dreading and the results were amazing.  The leg is messed up but the long term prognosis is getting better.

After that ordeal was over, I had a nice brunch with  Mark and Oliver who then along with Jordon took me for a walk with our cameras along to Wanuskewin Heritage Park.  We got out there and it was closed for a special function (doh!).  We had been out on Sunday’s before but didn’t realize they also close on Sundays in the winter.

So we decided to go out to Pike Lake and check it out and The Gift of Green Nature Trail.  We walked the promenade but the trail wasn’t open yet and was still barricaded.  We will return to hike it for Oliver’s birthday (it was his idea and was excited about it).

The boys gave me a three disc frisbee golf set that I can use at the frisbee golf course in Diefenbaker Park.  I will try them out next weekend.  Jordon and Sean are tossing the discs once in a while (Jordon is terrible at it) so I may join them.

Frisbee Disc SetThey also got me a grip for my Olympus OM-D E-M10, some lightweight gloves for when we go to Grey Owl’s cabin, and some new headphones from Panasonic.   I must thank Hilary for introducing all of us to the joy of higher quality headphones (and reviews in The Wire Cutter in some tweets a couple of years ago.  My ears thank her.

Jordon had some photos of Mark, Oliver and Marley framed for me.  They look great.  Well the photos of Mark and Oliver look great, the one he picked of Marley was of me after I had to run after her after she bolted.  I look mad, Mark looks indifferent, and Marley looks defiant.    

I hope you are having a wonderful Mother’s Day as well.