DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

They call it Ukee

Hi friends,

You know, you can't spell Ucluelet without a clue and last week I got a clue. I'd been to Tofino a bunch of times but never had the pleasure of experiencing Ucluelet. Luckily, thanks to good timing and a great deal, a bunch of our friends packed up and set off for the
Black Rock Resort a week ago with no goals other than eating, drinking, and relaxing. Even though it was still February, the fact that winter missed BC this year left us with "shirt off" weather and blue skies.

The Pacific Ocean was like a placid lake and we spent a pretty good amount of time spotting whales in the distance as they spouted off. It's a beautiful place out there and there are lots hikes to keep you occupied. Plus, we got to check out the Wolf in the Fog in Tofino, that was recently called
best new restaurant in Canada by En Route.

Did you know there are dunes out there? I didn't. But now I do.

Anywhoo, here are a bunch of photos of the trip. It's taken awhile to get them up, I had a busy week at work shooting some photos for the F15
Veilance season. I wish I could share 'em but you'll just have to wait till September!


We arrived and the sun was setting through the trees, so we made our way down to the shore. (caution: sunset photos following)
The Pacific was pretty calm, especially for a season that is generally all about storm watching.

Some time pretty is pretty boring, but sometimes it's totally not.
See, I told you there would be sunsets.
Over on the
instagram I was talking about how much I like tide pools.
Here's another one. This time it has a lighthouse in it.
What can I say? I like big chunks of driftwood.
Colin and Jen take different routes to the sea.
Colin also likes tide pools.
Photo break. Follow the lines.
Ya , ya. I know.
Mussels and muscles are homonyms.
I did not know that the west coast of Vancouver Island has dunes, but as you are witnessing, it does!
Island on shore. With small friends for scale.
Dune + forest = cool.
Little plant runners covered in sand. This is what f3.2 looks like.
Season's change. Out with the old, in with the new.

The Grizzly bears of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in Bella Coola, BC.

Hello friends,

I've been planning my trip to Bella Coola to see the grizzly bears for over a year. It finally happened last week and I'm here to share some photos and stories. I had to take a couple vacation days to make the whole thing work, so at 7AM on Wednesday morning, about an hour later than planned, we aimed the trusty Xterra north, destination; Tweedsmuir Park Lodge. We were staring down the barrel of a long drive and a lousy weather forecast but the thought of a bear encounter helped the miles fly by.

We arrived at the lodge around noon on Thursday after an overnight at the Nimpo Lake Resort. (Pretty nice, wish we had more time there) and after a delicious lunch we set off on our first activity, a 3 hour drift down the Atnarko River. We heard from all the staff about the dozens of sightings in the last 24 hours so I was half expecting to be greeted by grizzlies at the boat launch. As it turns out, we didn't see any for the first 2 and a half hours. But then, just as the rain started and we pulled out the Gore-tex pants, I heard a twig crack off on the left bank of the river, turned and saw a sow and three cubs emerge from the forest. Thus began a 45 minute encounter that saw two sows facing off across the river while we sat in between.

The drift provided our first glimpse at these huge animals and set the tone for the entire trip. At some point we stopped counting the bear sightings.

By far though, the highlight of the trip was a nature walk with Ellie Archer where we spent about a dozen heart-pounding minutes within a car length of a perfect grizzly.

There are words and there are pictures but the experience of sharing space with these animals is bigger than they can accurately portray. So let's just get to the photos.

We arrived to typical BC weather after some of the driest weather on record. Still, the river was extremely low.
Our first bears. The cubs huddled behind mom as she faced off with another sow.
Teamwork. We called the big one "toughy".
This was the second sow. She walked out into the rapids as we were already committed. She's looking back at her cub deciding what to do as we inch closer. She retreated back to shore before we got too close...
Moments later she crossed the river and sniffed the wind.
Deciding it was safe, she got back to fishing.
This was our big beauty. S/he came down the same trail as us only meters away. We settled back and let her do her thing. So close. So amazing.
She wasn't sure about passing us by and spent some time checking us out and making the decision.
Usually, when I'm making a tough decision, I like to wrap my arms around a tree.

After passing us S/he found a nice rock in the river to look majestic on.
On the drifts, we had time to watch the dolly varden in the crystal clear river. They were all over the place, sitting behind the spawning salmon and feasting on any stray eggs. Bad shot, but my fishermen friends will appreciate it.
We made our way to the end of the road to get a view of the ocean. It's beautiful country but the loss of their Ferry service will surely impact the tourist trade in their already struggling town. Kim and Garry take in the view and watch for slappy seals.
Easily the best illustration I've ever seen on a "danger" sign.
This is Clayton falls. It's named after my friend Clayton Larsen. At least that's the story I'm going with.
Out here, there are stars. Out here we are small.
As we're packing up, a sow and a cub give us one last show. This kind of access to wildlife is just unbelievable.
A gift from the lodge. Safety first!

Thanks so much to Swede, Beat, Ellie, Rebecca, Tim, Amelie and all the staff that took good care of us. And remember folks, a long lens doesn't make you photographer any more than a laptop makes you an author. Getting the shot is never more important than being present in the experience and respecting the people that you're sharing it with.

If you like the shots, leave a comment, and if you want to have a great bear encounter, get your ass to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge.


Maui blog

Hi friends.

So as you who follow me on flickr, twitter or facebook know, I’m just back from Maui again. It gets harder to leave every time. Having said that, it was one of those trips where my priorities were pretty low on the list, lots of family and friends things on the schedule so I didn’t dive as much as I would have liked and didn’t shoot as much either. I did however, relax a lot and read a lot which are things that are sorely lacking in my day to day life. Favourite book of the trip was Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

I’m continuing down a road in my travel photos that I’m finding deeply satisfying. Experiments that started in Sweden are developing into rules and themes that I feel very connected and sure about. I think that one of the things that hangs over the head of creative people sometimes is the “is this valid?” question. It’s hard to answer and if you need someone else to pat you on the head and tell you that it is, you can find yourself corrupted from your intentions by the desire to get more pats on the head. I’ve found that in the last couple years I’ve been liberated from a lot of habits born from shooting almost entirely with an editorial goal in mind. In the end, I’ve come to a place where personal satisfaction is then only validation I require.

I added to three different personal groups of work this trip as well as all the underwater stuff, which I’ll get to in a second. Until then, here are some impressions of Maui above water. If you click any of them they should open in my photoshelter gallery.

Baldwin Park in Paia. An outtake from my “fields of play” series.

People react to a dead sea turtle.

Big beach

Christmas day.

Private property. An outtake from my “semi-natural states/coast” project.

Who wants to go fishing?

Palm tree from the couch.


Makawao plant.

Ok, ok. One more stupid sunset.

Then we got underwater. We did some shore dives and also did some boat dives with Ed Robinson’s and B&B Scuba. If you’ve dived with either of them you know that they are both great operations. We did most of our dives at Molokini, which always provides the chance of great encounters and one dive on the St. Anthony’s wreck which I love. I should have spent more time on the surface though. It was a very short dive.

In terms of shooting, I was rusty which drives me bonkers, so hard to push yourself when you have to relearn things every time. In the end though it came together. I was shooting a single strobe, which, when it comes to balance (both underwater and in terms of lighting) was challenging. Eventually I did push my macro forward a bit, the wide angle suffered from the single strobe but I actually don’t buy into the school of thought - that is so prevalent - that says everything needs to be super evenly and completely lit. I actually think it’s a real cop out way to shoot.

So, lots of nudibranchs, no whale sharks this time. We saw a fair amount of white tip reef sharks, heard a lot of whales and saw a variety of new creatures. No boardshorts for me this time though. The water was 75 and I was in a 3/2 wetsuit. My Roatan friends have permission to laugh now.

Enjoy the set.


Waves crash over Molokini back wall.

Blue dragon nudi.

And another one.

White mouth Moray.

These guys are called Guard crabs.

More back wall.

Trembling nudibranch at Mala boat ramp.

A pair of Imperial Nudibranchs

Fried egg nudi.

This is a painted frogfish at 5 graves.

White margin nudi

Gold lace Nudi. Ooooooo, pretty.

This is a coral. An oval mushroom coral actually.

I thought this was a dragon wrasse but it’s actually a juvenile razor wrasse.

These fellas are everywhere.

This was new to me. Scaly slipper lobster.

And then home...

One from the road.

The tonal range and quality of the GF1 sensor is impressive. I’m planning a full review of all my impressions, good and bad, in the next day or two. Leaving Phoenix now and on my way back to YVR.


Louise in Stockholm

Took the train to Stockholm yesterday. Had lunch with some family and then made our way around town. What a perfect town for walking or riding a bike. In fact, it’s one of the most bike friendly cities I’ve seen. Louise enjoyed being a tourist dog and wore herself out.

More Stockholm today.


tight streets of old city

perfect swedish bike guy


tight streets

Then we found this cafe with really great light across the street. Had a couple beers and shot some people. This is an awesome little set but I don’ have time to work on them right now. Here are a couple.


December 24th.

Here is my day from sunrise to sunset yesterday:

YVR departures

Loading luggage

Bye bye Vancouver

Bye bye Canada.

Nothing but Pacific.

Islands on the horizon.

Surf is way up.

That's us.


Merry Christmas everyone. I hope Santa treats you well.

Putting summer behind me

I stumbled into a little catalog shoot this week. My friend Mark broke his hip pretending to be an 18 year old skater and rather than letting down his client he asked me to shoot it for him. It's very straightforward shooting and I'm a little disappointed that I won't be pushing any limits, but as always I intend to bring something special to the job and find a way to over deliver. All this comes a little quickly and going from sleepy third world living to hectic first world organizing is a definite switch of gears. Wish me luck.

Here is a little slideshow from my diving gallery on Photoshelter. Some of the shots are old but there are a bunch from this past summer. I'm closing the book on diving for now and moving on to the next thing. Well, at least until the end of October when we head to Maui...



scuba dive - Images by dano pendygrasse


I had a really long trip home the other day. A 10 hour flight ended up taking somewhere around 28 hours.

It was really hazy over BC from all the forest fires.

More soon.



bad reason to travel

I'm back in Vancouver for a week on an unscheduled break from summer in Roatan. A few days ago our dog Willamina was poisoned and after 10 agonizing hours died in our arms. She was an innocent victim of some local kid's vendetta against a Rottweiler. 6 dogs died within 24 hours from this little prick's poison. There is a special place in hell reserved for assholes like that and I truly hope he dies slowly, painfully, and in view of his loved ones.

It's hard not to lash out at the place and culture that took our girl from us but we're determined not to. Bad things happen everywhere and we're not immune here in the first world. In fact we'll be back in Honduras by Friday and that will help us to start to put this behind us. Besides, Will is there and so it will always be a special place to us.

I don't have a lot to say right now, precious little about photography, but if you haven't hugged your dog lately, or your family, or friends, go do that now. Things change fast, and when they do, the biggest regrets are the little things we failed to do.



Back in Roatan

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been in Roatan for a week now, took about half that to get my bags, battled off the dreaded "roatan gut" for a few days and then got down to business. I'm doing my divemaster training with Reef Gliders and have started to wade through the thousands of pages of reading and tests, but still have managed to sneak in a few dives. I always like to shoot at El Aguila, it has lots of cool lines and as I learn how to shoot underwater better, it's a good baseline to judge myself against.

Yesterday on the first dive, I was shooting a photo of a turtle passing me by when I heard Barry banging away like mad on his tank trying to get my attention. Barry isn't really one to bang his tank a lot, so I figured something exciting was going on. As it turns out a big green Moray Eel had snuck up behind me and was biting my fin! Never had that happen before! When I got back to the shop and looked at my photos I saw him sneaking up on me in the background of this shot.

Sneaky Green Moray Eel and turtle.

Just blowing bubbles.

A diver on the wreck.

Goldentail Moray's are my favourite eel around here

And finally a flamingo tongue.

It's a little tough to keep up with the blog here, the power still goes out pretty much once a day, the internet is painfully slow and I am kept really busy with the DM course, but I'll try to get something up at least once a week, hopefully more. I'm going to try to get photos up here as often as I can too, so check it out if you like.



I'm coming!

I sleep till plane. 2 till this view. Port Royal or Salva is the hardest decision I'm making for awhile.



Well, I'm home. I'm pretty good at changing gears but I found it impossible to get excited about all the snow in Vancouver. I'm about to go out and walk in it, so maybe that will change my mind, but my head is still underwater.

Here are some shots from my Christmas Vacation. I hope you like them.

Anessa and Barry watch the sun set from the Reef Gliders dock

One of the millions of Sharpnose Pufferfish that are all over the reef

lil buddy

Brendan clowning around with a bottle he found.

Spotted moray eel.

A giant anemone in front of the blue on the reef wall.

This Peacock flounder was showing off his blue spots for me.

Reef Gliders moved into a huge new shop with its own beach and dock. Nice!

And now for the real world. I'm actually excited to see all of the entrants in the Deep Winter Photo contest going on this week. I'll be judging the event and I'm not really looking forward to that. Judging photography is like deciding which puppy is cuter, everyone has an opinion and they are all correct. However, someone has to win and I'll contribute as best I can to make sure it is the right person.

Unfortunately, saying yes to this event means that I am going to miss the Greg Todds Memorial in Trout Lake this weekend. I'm really bummed about that. I hope all my friends out there have a good time, and be safe. I look forward to seeing the photos.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that is the last time you all have to hear it. On with the show...



roatan for the holidays

In between power cuts and with extremely inconsistent internet, I'd like to wish everyone a happy Christmas and New Years from Roatan. Diving with Reef Gliders again and they have a new, much bigger and better spot in the West End. I've seen all sorts of old friends and met some new ones too. Saw a seahorse on my second dive, of course I never dive with my camera the first couple times after time off. Of course.

Here is a turtle. I'm already counting the days before I have to come home.


travel day

I'm stuck at PDX. My 11PM redeye to Houston became a 3AM redeye to Houston. Although the flight still takes up the entire night, I am now stuck in the airport for 7 hours and not that stoked on it. However I can't get too bummed, my wife's flight from YVR to SEA got cancelled and they put her ON A BUS! That's why you pay for flights, so they can put you on a bus....

The other day it was colder than you can imagine in Whistler and they were firing up the snow guns trying to make up for the fact that mother nature hasn't been too helpful in the snow department this season. The wind was blowing like crazy, it was minus 25 up there, and all the snow that they were blowing was just flying up into the air and off the mountain. I pulled out my old 400mm f5.6 too see what it looked like on a digital camera. It doesn't hold up at all, but still, there is character in old glass.

I'm gone to the land of unreliable internet and no cell phone. I'll be there until the new year so I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has spent time looking at my photos and reading my words in the past year. The power of my bog is continuing to surprise me as things I've said come back time and again in all kinds of strange ways. At its core, self publishing is the easiest and most democratic way to be heard that humans have ever enjoyed. I don't always have things worth saying, but when I do, there are people out there who are listening. thanks for tuning in.

Happy Holidays,


Fishies and deep breaths.

A year ago today, I left Roatan after living there for 3 and a half months. I expected to be back there around June, but life is always interesting and you never know what is around the next corner, so instead it has now been a year since I've seen some of my friends down there. I've booked a flight back for Christmas, which makes me extremely happy, but I miss the place. No Roatan has also meant, no diving, which I miss terribly. People have asked me what the appeal is lately and my response is this; scuba diving is everything that snowboarding isn't. It's warm (at least where I like to do it), it's no impact, it's quiet and calm (which snowboarding actually can be too, but not sledding or crowded mountains, etc.).

Diving to me is like a forced meditation. You slow down your breathing, clear your mind, and look at pretty fishes. It calms me.

So in the year since I've been home, a lot has happened. I've made big strides professionally, and am very proud of the work I'm doing these days. Between that, the new apartment, and impending wedding, life has kept me very, very busy. I feel fortunate, considering the state of the global economy and how tough it is out there to make it as a photographer, to still be getting work, selling pictures, and interesting new clients.

Now if I can just figure out how to do it all of that from the beach...

This is a typical view off the wall in Roatan. No sharks or seahorses or barracuda, just a squirrel fish and lots of coral. Aaaah.

off the map

Last year, after multiple run-ins with bad luck and bad conditions, Travis Robb, Mark Landvik, Eric Jackson and I set out to find a new spot. We searched and searched, and eventually came upon a little miracle of geography that was perfectly made for snowboarding. Especially for shooting photos of snowboarding. We spend a few days "working the zone" before other obligations dragged us in different directions and although we put some great stuff on film, we had unfinished business.

We're back in our spot. It has set up differently this year, different in a good way. Sammy Luebke is along for the ride this time and he's having a ball riding the best pillows on the planet. The level of riding has jumped through the roof this year. While we were happy linking transitions with big straight airs last year, this year tricks are getting thrown in the most insane places. I'm totally exhausted and I have so much to take care of at home, but for now, I'm in the middle of an amazing dream and I'm going to hit snooze for just a couple more days.


On the road

I am on the road with Standard Films right now. Over the long drive, Travis and I talked about all sorts of things, one of the themes that comes up frequently with us is creativity, inspiration, and how our lives are affected by the ebbs and flows of the creative cycle. One thing that always seems to kill creativity, is working from home. When you are home you are trapped in your normal routine and held hostage by the mundane. Chores and bills and social obligations all draw energy away from the creative process.

Hit the road though, and all that is behind you. You see new things, and you see regular things in a new light. It is guaranteed to kickstart my inner art guy.

I'm missing out on so much at home right now, but at least if I have to miss that, I can be happy about taking good pictures.

I shot this while were driving so it's not really one of the good pictures...


Back in BC

I'm back in BC after a really short trip to Baker. Although we didn't end up getting what we went for, we did manage to get a whole bunch of other stuff. I got to do a few turns on Baker in between shots which is always nice, and met Nick, Nate and Sammy. I also got to see some good old friends, Sean Sullivan! Ranquet, Barrett, Temple, Shaun McKay, John Laing, Pat McCarthy (who is looking good, and riding after the accident)

All in all, it was a nice trip if a little too short. Washington is beautiful