DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Mike Nyuis

For friends of Mike Nyuis,

The complete article from Snowboard Canada and a couple photos. Click the photos to download high resolution versions. (right click, save link as)

Dano

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Anywhere But Here

“We have to get out of town, man.” Jon Cartwright and I are talking on the phone on a rainy day in January. Every snowboarder knows that feeling of desperation when the conditions have turned to crap and there is no change in the forecast. Outside, it’s the third rainy afternoon in a row, and warm wet conditions are smeared all across my Internet weather sites. January started out with cold, snowy conditions all over the Pacific Northwest, but now, a week and a half into the month, the promise of a perfect January has passed into a soggy reality.

“Where are you thinking of going?” Jon asks.

“I don’t even care man. Europe, back East... Anywhere but here.”

“It’s still cold in Revelstoke and Nyuis built a cabin out there,” Jon tells me.

It’s all I need to hear. I immediately start to plan in my head how long it will take to get out of Whistler. “OK, we’ll leave tomorrow. Let’s try to be on the road by noon.” We spend the rest of the night on the phone putting together a crew. It sounds like everybody is on a mass exodus from the rain.

By three thirty the next day I am on the road, driving my truck with Jon Roth as co-pilot. Lukas Huffman has dumped a trip to California and is an hour ahead of us with Cartwright. Dave Short is driving up with filmer Ryan O’dowd and they will be somewhere between two and ten hours behind us.

-

“Even when I was dressing up like I was hip hop, I was still crying to my friends about girls.” Jon Roth is embracing his emotional side on the long drive up. We talk about the changing trends in snowboarding and how one person’s costume is another person’s real world. From the outside, it’s so hard to tell what is authentic and what is marketing. From the inside, the whole thing is as obvious as a narc at the school dance. Credibility is everything to pro snowboarders and there are daily conversations about who is faking it and who is a badass. Things don’t change much after high school in the snowboard world. This sport goes through long periods of slow growth, and then it seems like everything changes overnight. Suddenly everything cool is boring and there is a surge of new names and styles. Right now it feels like we are on the verge of change.

Roth is 22 now, has grown up snowboarding and struggled early on to fit in with the cool kids. At some point though he stopped trying to be like them and started just being himself and, as a result, “The Boy”—as he’s known to some of his friends—is turning out all right. Of our crew, Roth is the newest to backcountry freestyle, having only graduated from the park in the last couple years. The expense of sledding and a knee injury have kept him out of the game a bit for the last couple seasons, but now he is healthy and ready, and he is both nervous and excited about what is in store for us.

-

It’s windy, foggy, and wet but we’ve been making good time despite the weather. I slow to stop for a figure on the road waving a stop sign. As my window hums open, rain drops splatter on my face and neck. She is a big lady, smothered in many layers of clothes and she steps towards my opening window as the truck comes to a stop. She is wearing the orange vest of a road worker, but she looks like she would be more comfortable taking care of orphan animals for the local SPCA.

“I’m going to have to ask you how far you’re going.” she says.

I tell her that I’m meeting friends just this side of Revelstoke.

“Well I don’t know how far you’ll make it. The road is closed at Three Valley Gap”

There has been a huge avalanche on the Trans Canada Highway and it’s been closed all day, I tell her that I’m sure that my friend’s house is on this side of the slide.

“Well there is another roadblock about 20 kilometers up, at the truck stop, so you can tell them. I live the other way so I don’t know how far you’ll get.”

She’s not in the mood to argue with someone dumb enough to try to bullshit his way INTO an avalanche zone. I keep driving into huge wet flakes and fog. I imagine her going back to feed her kittens.

-

Mike Nyuis lived in Whistler for years and, like many people who live in a resort town, became disillusioned with the polished faux-reality and went out looking for something more. He has enjoyed some success acting down in Vancouver’s busy film scene, but he found something good out here in the bush, away from the crowds, in a little spot that gets snowed on more than just about anywhere else. So he built a cabin, bought some snowmobiles, and set out to explore the massive backcountry at his front door. Now he runs a tour company called Fresh Adventures, spends his summers chasing acting roles in the city, and spends his winters with a giant, shy husky named Nemo, chasing powder.

Mike’s cabin is on the wrong side of the second roadblock. Luckily it’s only two or three hundred yards past. The second lady at the second roadblock rolls her eyes when I tell her where I’m going. “Mike sure does have a lot of friends.” she says.

I grin at her and say, “He does tonight.” She lets me pass. I roll past a dozen or so semis parked for the night, waiting for the road to re-open. The normally sleepy truck stop will stay busy tonight

-

At about seven in the morning I wake to the sounds of new voices in the cabin. Dave and Ryan couldn’t find the place when they rolled in at four, so they slept in their truck as long as they could stand it. Ryan is recalling the horrors of waking up to a panoramic view of WAY too much of Dave’s anatomy as he was getting out of his sleeping bag. They stoke up a fire and warm themselves. We chuckle under our breath at their adventure. It’s lightly raining out so we all roll over and steal another hour of sleep.

When we finally get up it’s decided that we’ll head down to the truck stop for some breakfast. The road is still closed and the dozen or so Big Rigs have turned into fifty. The trucks are lined up like a train down the road and around the corner and fill the large parking lot at the truck stop. Truckers are packed into the restaurant, milling around by the pumps, flipping through cheap porn mags at the store newsstand, and generally doing whatever they can to waste time. We manage to find enough seats at a table with a couple three hundred pounders. Truck stops around the continent all smell the same: overcooked fryer oil and stale sweat mingle with burnt coffee grounds and waitress perfume. The background noise is a blue-collar symphony of low-grade racism and trucker stories. When one of the truckers becomes curious about us and strikes up a conversation, his language is all cursing and sexual innuendo. Cheap bigot jokes he’s told a hundred times. Making a trucker sit and wait is the best way to piss him off, and these men with their huge bellies and methamphetamine farts have been waiting for the road to open for half a day and a full night. Everything that comes out of their mouths at this point is a dare and—like any encounter with a wild animal—it’s best to keep quiet and back away.

Our waitress, Joan, could be anywhere from twenty five to forty years old and looks like she’s been bringing coffee to these monsters her whole adult life. She flashes an easy smile when she recognizes Mike. The service is surprisingly good considering how packed the place is, a testament to Joan’s experience, no doubt. We are almost disappointed when the food isn’t greasy, but actually really good. As time passes, the sky seems to become a slightly brighter shade of grey, so we finish up, buy gas for the sleds, and leave the truckers to wait for the avalanche to be cleared.

-

It’s an hour later now and Mike has stopped his snowmobile ahead of me on the trail and is waving frantically. I flinch for a split second thinking something is wrong. We’ve already had to stop twice for sled problems this morning. I press the kill switch and my machine grumbles quiet. “MOOSE!” Mike half shouts, half whispers. I don’t know how I missed it because it is huge and only sixty feet up the road. If you’ve never seen a real live moose in the wild, think Clydesdale, only twice as big, and perched on long gangly legs like a potroast on four chopsticks. It has been startled out of its moosey sleep by the racket of a pack of snowmobiles and is beating a clumsy retreat down the snowy logging road. As the rest of the boys catch up and stop, the moose disappears around a corner and we walk forward to check out the spot where he had been bedded down. It’s an (enormous) impressive impression in the snow. Moose are no joke. I decide to name him Milton. We pass Milton a hundred yards down the road as he is crashing into the forest. The guys bringing up the rear never see him at all but his tracks and scat are everywhere.

Soon we are swapping the logging road for single sled track, pushing forward into the clouds, hoping for a break. The snow is steadily improving but the visibility is not. In between clouds I get my first glimpse of this new place. A long ridgeline is dotted with cliff bands. I ask Mike if we can get there.

“ I guess,” he says. “But that’s nothing, really.”

Eventually we gain as much altitude as the weather will let us. The fog and snow join together to make an impassable white wall, so we regroup, practice some transceiver searches in a small meadow and play around on the sleds. Lukas and Dave get to the top of a nice face and each make some turns. There is plenty of terrain here, but plenty of snow too, making hiking slow going. We are running out of daylight and all the terrain within hiking distance will take too long to get on top of. Satisfied with our first look, we start the long ride back to the valley. Day one is chalked up to recon and the cameras stay in their bags.

As we leave the sub-alpine I take one last look back, just as the clouds split. A gorgeous orange glow is painted on a cloudbank behind a ridgeline causing us all to stop and look. It’s impossible not to smile. The orange deepens to a red and finally fades back to grey. The whole ride down I keep repeating in my head:
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.

-

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Grey sky at morning, snowboarders go back to sleep. Whatever—Who listens to sailors anyway?

-

By noon we’ve come to terms with a couple of hard facts:

  • The rainstorm that was in Whistler is now here.

  • There will be no sledding today. We need to find something to do.


The road is open at last, and the truck stop is mostly ours. We get the full attention of the staff today while we try to decide what to do. The world seems far away as we take our time with eggs and bacon and sausage.

Back at the cabin, a couple OF people fire up sleds to see what there is to be done near by. There is a gravel pit a couple hundred yards down the road and, after some careful consideration, the shredders decide that we could make a pretty cool hip/gap with a snowmobile tow-in. What else are you going to do? It takes half an hour to build and another half hour to get the track right on the inrun, and then Dave and Jon take turns launching into the mashed potato landing while Nemo chases them. Dave is having fun, chucking backflips, but the rain starts to come down hard and before long everyone is soaked. My cameras decide that it is time to take a break and we retire to the cabin for some “Big 2”(it’s a card game).

Card games can get pretty competitive.

-

The summer of 2003 was hot and dry in BC; the inevitable result of hot and dry in a province full of forests is fire. Forest fires hit hard and lasted long, some of them smouldering stubbornly through the fall, extinguished at last by winter snows. We lost over 330 homes and over 50,000 people were evacuated. In the end it cost more than half a billion dollars to fight the fires. It all sounds pretty bad, but there is a silver lining if you look hard enough.

A forest fire is a cataclysmic event, leaving in its path a wake of destruction. Where a forest once stood, all that is left is a collection of black tree trunks and soot. There is a really creepy dead feeling in a burn, it’s like traveling through some post nuclear landscape and it’s easy to feel isolated and odd. For a snowboarder though, this lack of branches means that more snow makes it to the ground, and what used to be a hillside covered in trees becomes a wide open glade, perfect for weaving through at high speed. It also makes sled access really easy.

-

Mercifully the clouds have broken and we are making our way through clearcuts, then forest, then burns, and into the alpine. Thank goodness Mike knows his way out here because it is easy to become disoriented. We are in and out of the fog and I can’t kick the alien feeling I get in the burns. Soon we are into good snow and everyone takes turns getting a few shuttle runs in after a few days without riding. Lukas is coming back from injury so he is taking it easy.

We find a nice little outcropping of rocks and set to work. Dave launches a method into a narrow landing, then Cartwright frontside half cabs a thirty footer. Roth shocks everyone by throwing a smooth frontside five off the same drop. He goes past the landing and doesn’t get his feet under him, but serves notice that he has left the park behind and is ready to take on the backcountry. Dave is landing everything he tries.

The clouds have been in and out all day, and at last they close in again. We are stoked to have some shots under our belt, and head back down. I almost run over on the logging road down. I still can’t get over the size of him. I let turn off my sled and watch him in the fading light. He watches me for a moment too, before turning and disappearing into the forest.

Back in the cabin the weather forecast is looking grim. Nobody is ready to turn our back on this place, but sometimes you just have to accept the cards you’ve been dealt and fold. We all plan to get back here as soon as possible to finish what we’ve started. I’m thinking maybe a month or so from now. Little do I know it will be a lot longer than that. Milton will have his logging road back for awhile. I wonder if he’ll still be guarding it when I get back.



PART TWO

It takes us three months to get all of us back out to Fresh Adventures together. Winter schedules clash and everyone has a hard time coming up with good dates. When we finally get back, Lukas is out, his season cut short by injury, and Annie Boulanger and Martin Gallant are in. It’s spring now, and we have to drive our trucks up long logging roads to get to the snow. It’s not long before we run into Milton again. Like an old friend greeting us he is waiting on the road. He turns and runs in front of the trucks for almost five minutes. We are driving a steady fifty kilometers per hour and Milton is leading us like a pace car. Ryan is hanging out the window of the truck, filming him from about ten feet away. When he turns off into the woods at last we stop the trucks and laugh for five minutes straight. Nobody has ever seen a moose running down the road leading five trucks filled with snowboarders before.

Accessing the alpine is a whole lot more challenging than before, we have to wait while government road crews repair washouts, and once we are on our sleds, we encounter long stretches of road where the snow has already melted, forcing us to ride over dirt. Snowmobiles don’t like riding on dirt. After the first hour my sled dies for no particular reason. One minute it’s running, the next minute it is dead. We suspect it is the computer, a suspicion that is proven the next morning at the repair shop. When your computer goes there is nothing you can do to fix it on the hill. After finding a decent jump and shooting awhile, I suck it up and we tow it out. I’m glad Cartwright was stomping sevens, because on this day I’m looking for some good news.

The second day seems like it may end before it even starts. At the end of a long stretch of snow, we come to a portion of the trail through a clearcut that has completely melted away. The spot where the trail was is vaguely visible but it is on a sidehill and snow machines aren’t made to sidehill on dirt. We send Mike walking ahead to scout where the snow begins again, and after some debate decide to actually build up the trail with logs, dirt and rocks until we can tug our sleds past. It is a long morning.

Once in the alpine it’s as if we’ve traveled in time back several months to winter. The snow is good, the terrain is amazing, and the only problem is that we’re running out of light. In the space of an hour we hit two jumps and scope several others. This place is a playground and these guys are professional kids. Roth shows off his amazing style while Martin, excited to be a part of the trip, hikes up a ridgeline to explore the steeps in between hitting the jump. Then on the way down he finds a burnt out log to use as a launch ramp. Just as he hits the peak the whole thing cracks and falls to the ground. He lands on his feet to the cheers of everyone.

The trip back down is less stressful now that we have a trail built in, but by the time we reach the trucks people are skeptical about coming back to this area. It’s not worth the cost of a blown engine to return tomorrow. Luckily Mike has another plan. On the way down Dave and Ryan almost run into Milton. He races ahead of them for a short while before launching off the side of the road into a creek. It’s dark and they can’t see him, but they hear him thrashing around. They have guilt written on their faces when they finally reach the cabin. “I think we killed Milton.”

-

Sitting around the campfire with a couple guitars and a bunch of friends sounds like a scene from a different story, but spring in BC is nice like that.

-

After our last two days, I’m nervous about what kind of crazy road we’ll have to drive up next. Mike isn’t giving any hints as we drive down the highway to the next zone. I ask him how often he sees other skiers and snowboarders out here and he tells me that nobody who sleds here regularly can ever remember seeing any. Ever. As we start to climb higher and higher towards the snowline, I am just waiting to see what crazy obstacle the mountain will throw at us, so when we arrive at the snowline without incident I am more than a little relieved. We unload and drive straight up a really good, snow covered road that takes us straight to the alpine like a snowy escalator. I’m no longer relieved; I’m shocked and elated. The alpine here is good too, really great terrain all compacted into a relatively small area. The kind of place I would create if I were making the perfect backcountry area. I see the most perfect flat top cliff I’ve ever seen, but it is already in the shade and will have to wait until next year. We fight the urge to race all over right away checking everything out, and set to work on a perfect blind stepdown. Dave goes first and throws a nine that gets away from him. It’s big and the landing is forgiving and we are all smiles. Well…everyone except for Dave.

Once again I’m stunned by Roth’s style. He makes a cab 5 Japan into the best trick ever. The months since we’ve been here last have given Roth some valuable experience and his sledding and backcountry riding are way more confident.

Cartwright has scoped some lines and, when we are done with the jump, he makes his way through a couple of tight chutes. Again we are losing light, and there still much more to see. It has become warm and the snow conditions are getting worse. In spring the snow can change in a matter of hours. We know that there will be no tomorrow for us to shoot and we decide that in the morning we will pack up and head home. Now that we’ve got a good grasp on this place nobody is too keen to leave it behind. Eventually we slowly start to make our way down. I stop for a second to check out a cool looking hip in the woods. It seems like the landing is too flat, but when the shredders check it, they are more than willing to give it a go. Anything to put off the end of this trip it seems. We dork around on the small jump, everyone having a good time in the late daylight. Cartwright pulls off his shirt and abuses the foliage with the tail of his board. Ryan takes a break from filming and hits the jump on Roth’s board. The session reminds me of the good times I had with friends when I first started riding. A bunch of friends hitting a fun little jump

As we hit the logging road on the way down, the sky erupts with fiery clouds.
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. We stop for a few minutes and take it in. Too soon, the red ball of the sun dips behind the horizon and the moment is over. It’s a good ending to our trip, and to our winter. Somewhere in the woods, Milton the Moose is watching us, waiting for us to leave so he can resume his duties as guardian of these forests. “See you next winter Milton” I say to myself.

-dsp
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I should have gone fishing.

Hi friends,

No fishing for me this weekend, but here is a photo from not too long ago on a river not too far from here. Hope you're all enjoying House of Cards.

d.


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Variety is the spice...

Hi Friends,

Just back from Lillooet for a shoot at Fort Berens winery. They're doing delicious things out there…

This month I've shot the most diverse group of projects in my career. Some big, some small, all interesting. Video and stills for a new app, video for a shoe company, the TEDx talk on Gabriola Island, this winery shoot and coming up next is a crazy ski event in Fernie.

I've said it before, I live an unusual life. That's the only way I'd have it.

Here's a photo from Lillooet that I like.

D.


Where's the office? Oh there it is.
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Transition. Part Four: Finally found what I'm looking for.



This blog originally appeared on
bneeth.com

Last blog I took you diving, but I still hadn’t found the small camera I was looking for. I’d reached the end of the road with what I could accomplish with the Canon G9 and its Canon successors weren’t moving in a direction that I liked. I needed more resolution and flexibility in a small package. Fortunately in the summer of 2009 Panasonic announced the GF1 micro four thirds camera and many of my questions were answered. The GF1 is a mirrorless system, so it’s small, but it has a large sensor so it makes good images. It was marginally bigger than the point and shoot, but the size was worth it.

It still took me 9 months to finally buy one because I’m pretty hesitant to buy the first generation of anything electronic, and in the meantime I did my research and realized that I was going to be able to adapt some really great glass to the GF1. I still own a Contax G2, but I never really liked the ergonomics of it and it fell out of rotation. The lenses I have for it however, can easily be adapted to the GF1. And suddenly I have a Zeiss 45mm f2 in my pocket…

Of course the lens that I’ve kept mounted 90% of the time is the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, a spectacular fast and sharp pancake lens that I bought the body with. I also bought a pricey 7-14mm f4 that hasn’t gotten a lot of use. It’s a good lens, but it’s so big that it sort of defeats the purpose of the small body.

So this has become my walkaround rig and has been for the last couple of years. I still go to the DSLR for when I have to shoot in the studio or action, but I was doing that way less at the time and started getting really interested in trying different styles.


In the process, I started to read up on street photography and tentatively went down that road. I find street photography to be really invasive, and as a result I’ve always kinda shied away from it. However, like just about everything in my life, when I find something intimidating, that’s all the more reason to give it a whirl.

The results of shooting people in the streets came slowly. I threw away hundreds of shots before I finally got one I liked. Slowly I got a few more, and became less intimidated by the process, but there were lots of shots I missed too. When a fight broke out literally on my shoes at the corner of Hastings and Main, my instinct was to walk the other way, not to pull out my camera. And when a guy collapsed and paramedics arrived to perform CPR on the street in front of the police station, I wasn’t pushing the EMTs out of the way to get the shot; I was more concerned that he was going to be ok. I guess I just don’t have the stones to be a crime reporter…

But urban spaces kept speaking to me and over the last few years I’ve put together a large body of work that speaks about the relationship between people and the city. As my thoughts about that relationship developed, so did the work and my photos became less abstract and more focused. As themes developed they recurred and I became more sure of my direction.

I still am fascinated by texture and patterns, and while I spend less time trying to “capture” people on the streets, I’m interested in relationships of scale and environmental interaction. Well, that and goofy pictures of the dog…

So in my first Bneeth column I told you about my creative existential crisis. It’s taken a few columns, but this is where I am today. I know myself as a photographer like I never did when I shot action sports exclusively, and I’ve let the work dictate the choices I’ve made. Interestingly, in the process I started to appreciate shooting action sports again. I don’t want to spend 7 months on a snowmobile again anytime soon, but I like to think the work I do now comes with a lot more skill and a far better eye.

Dano




Sidewalk diamonds. Vancouver.


Chinese Pharmacy. Chinatown.

Shopping. Sometimes a photo is about what you can’t see.

Breaktime. Hastings and Main.

Decisions. Paia, Maui.

Dead Sea Turtle. Wailea, Maui.

Open. Chinatown.

Sunday. Beach day in Roatan, Honduras

Prizes. PNE.

Lombard Tourists. San Francisco.

Framed. Vancouver.

Levels. Vancouver.

Letters. Vancouver Post Office.

Backside. Yaletown, Vancouver.

Josh. Vancouver.

Scoot. Gastown, Vancouver.


Sunday on the grass. Vancouver.
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Transition. Part Three: Fuck it, I’m going swimming.



This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.


Around the time I became a convert to small cameras, I started scuba diving a lot. Obviously the two things would eventually meet and I’d get hooked on shooting underwater photos. I was torn because underwater photography is probably the most expensive form of photography I can think of, and it’s also incredibly difficult and prone to disaster. The thing about taking electronics a hundred feet underwater is that, well, they get flooded and ruined. A lot.

So this it how I found myself spending way more money on photography. I started off by getting a cheap housing for an Olympus Point and shoot that I had, and then moved onto a more expensive housing and strobe for the Canon G9. That was a really good rig to learn with and I managed to get some great shots with it. Eventually of course, I reached the end of the road and made the decision to house a DSLR.

What I learned with underwater photography is that it’s one of the most difficult environments to make an image, and when something spectacular is in front of you, you need a lot of really good tools to make sure you nail the shot. So small cameras didn’t last, but along the way I learned a lot.

Enjoy some shots from my underwater photo journey.

Dano

ps: click on the photos for larger versions.


A shot from the old Olympus with a grouper in front of a wreck.

Circling Horse-eye Jacks. Shot with the Canon G9. I loved this when I got it and still do. Sometimes the limitations of a camera help to make something unique.

One of the craziest looking fish you will ever meet; the toadfish. Shot with the Canon g9.

Breath hold shots with a camera rig can be tricky.

My friend Kat over the sandy bottom. Black and white is one way to deal with the deep blue hue of ambient light underwater.

Finally got a dslr housed, and the pictures dramatically improved. This is a giant barrel sponge on the edge of the reef wall in Belize.

When you startle a Caribbean octopus at night, it will either hide or make itself as big as possible. Night dive in Belize.

Macro of Coral. Repeating patterns are visually pleasing.

Classic underwater composition with a giant barrel sponge and diver.

I love moray eels. Whitemouth Moray from Maui.

Nudibranchs are essentially snails, without the shell. They are small and come in myriad colours and shapes and they mostly sit still so you can take their picture.

Balancing the flash with ambient, and then making the falloff reach an appropriate height on the mast made this one of the more challenging shots. Good thing the diver doesn’t look too goofy.
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Transition. Part Two: Shoot something!


This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.

Well after some deliberation I had found myself a convert to small cameras, and as a result I had my trusted Canon g9 with me at all times. What I still hadn’t figured out though, was what I wanted to take pictures of. This started a long process that continues to this day. But the first step was to document my steps.

A few times a week I was walking from my apartment at the time, right by Vancouver’s skate plaza, down Main Street to Railtown where I was working. I started to notice the seasonal changes in the buildings along the way and decided that it would be a good project to shoot all the buildings between Georgia and Alexander Streets, in all the different seasons. So I set out to do it.

I shot and shot, and I got some photos that were really cool, but eventually I got bored. I realized that it was a good project, but it would have to be one that stretched for decades, not just months. Plus, I realized that I wanted to shoot different buildings with different formats and cameras. That’s ok, I keep working on it, I love to see how things change, but it’s not really the body of work that speaks to me the loudest.

I kept shooting my walking “commute” though, and started to get shots that I liked more. It seemed to come in waves, one day I would get two or three things that I liked, and then I’d go a week without getting anything. The difference between my life shooting action sports and now was that now it was completely up to me to make things happen. I couldn’t rely on a rider doing a massive air to do the work for me, I had to create something compelling out of the things around me. That didn’t always come easy.

I kept adding shots to projects that I’d been working on for years though. Building on ideas but adapting to the different environment. All of the things I shot in the mountains were still present in the city. There was still an abundance of texture, there was still interesting light, and now there certainly were far more colours. I found myself doing familiar things but with different subjects and through a lot of repetition and a dedication to taking photos every day, I started to develop a new style and as always happens, themes started to emerge.

And as I shot, I got to know the Canon G9 really well, learning its strengths and using them to my advantage. Having a really good macro available at any time had me crouching down on the street a lot. And the compression of the long lens with a pretty much infinite depth of field was fantastic. I started a whole new body of work of abstract reflections, some of which have become my favourite images. I added to a personal project that I had been picking away at for years that I call “little horizons”, essentially portrait oriented landscape shots that emphasize the sky. Interestingly I’ve seen a lot of photography like that in recent years, but I continue with it.

Even while all of this was happening though, something was still bothering me. The quality of the image was still not as good as I’d like. I could deal with noise at low ISO, but anything above 400 was too much. And I didn’t like the shape of the noise. It had me craving the good old days of film grain. So I pushed on, but knew in the back of my mind that I would have to find another camera soon. Until then, I was going to shoot that G9 into the ground. And next time, I’ll tell you about taking it underwater.

-Dano


“119 Main Street.” Part of a project to shoot all of the buildings of Main St. between Alexander and Georgia.

Long September light makes for some nice shadows on the False Creek Seawall.

“False Creek” from the Little Horizons project.

Just a spectacular Vancouver sunset.

Masts. This is the first of the “Reflections” series.

Spectrum. Another from the “Reflections” series.

Crazy fall colours in Vancouver.

Fern. From my garden.

“Big OK” from Little Horizons.

Street scene from Stockholm, Sweden.
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Transition. Part One: Now what?

This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.

The one thing I knew for sure when I stopped shooting photos of action sports was that I wasn’t going to stop taking photos. I simply couldn’t. As much as the creative life is like a cruel pendulum sometimes, with swings of deep dissatisfaction and swings that feel like brilliance, the one thing I knew for sure was that taking photos was no longer something that I had the option to do. I had grown to the point where if I went any length of time without shooting something good, a part of me started to feel off. It was akin to going a long time without sex. It doesn’t kill you, but it grinds away at your soul until you finally have to scratch that itch.

But suddenly I didn’t have a cover to shoot for. I didn’t have a crew of people to work with and I didn’t even know what the goal was. A “good photo” had just become a giant question mark. What was “good” at that point? What was I going to shoot now, and what for?

I had recently moved to Vancouver, close to Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside. Obviously there was no end of subject matter out there, I simply had to open my eyes and start to shoot things. I was doing work for a couple different companies at the time and I had essentially stopped driving. I would walk around false creek and the downtown core, or take my bike and I made a point to always have a camera with me. That was my first decision: What gear would I use?

The DSLR was out right away. Too big, too much weight, too much gear. I had hauled around a 40-pound pack for almost 20 years and I was looking forward to packing light. I pulled out my old Contax G2, a camera that I had always had high hopes for, but just never really enjoyed the ergonomics of. Nothing had changed. It still felt too big and I didn’t want to carry a bunch of lenses around. Plus it had that funky focus system that I didn’t like. What I did like was the lenses. But for now, it wasn’t worth it.

Luckily, right around this time The Canon G9 came out and for me, it answered a lot of questions. It had a lot of professional functionality in a pretty small body, with a zoon range that was really useful. I had found my “walking around” camera. At least for the time being. Some of the my favourite things about the G9 were the size, the macro, (which was, and is, pretty amazing actually) the zoom was good and I could haul in some fairly far-away scenes, and I could shove it in my pocket. I thought it was pretty durable, but before too long I learned about a fatal flaw.

The G9’s zoom lens isn’t sealed, and the act of it zooming and contracting causes dust to be sucked into the camera where it can find its way to the sensor. Once it’s there, there is now way to clean it. Eventually this would be part of the downfall of the G9 for me, but not for a couple years. Once I had a small inconspicuous camera that had decent image quality, I found myself shooting nonstop. What started as snapshots of friends and quick shots for reference, became more serious the more I used the G9.

It took a few months until I had a good feel for the G9 and realized that it was capable of more than just snapshots. I started to look at things differently and for the first time in my life, began to develop an urban approach to photography. I had decided on my gear, now it was time to see if I could take a decent picture.


With a camera in my pocket, walking the dog became a chance to find a picture almost every day. And a small camera meant I would never hesitate to shoot

Testing the G9’s ability to stop action, even in the late evening light. Not bad.

Familiar sights that I’d normally never shoot became a new challenge. A “why not?” photo opportunity.

The G9 has a decent telephoto on it allowing me to compress scenes and find interesting scenes on a day to day basis.

It’s nice to have a little camera handy when you find yourself looking down from up high. The black and white conversions were nice too.


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The Sunshine Coast

Hi friends,

Just spent a lovely couple days on the Sunshine Coast. Haven’t had a walk through the woods with a camera in a while and I really enjoyed the chance to get close to the water. I love rivers. Had lunch at the mouth of Robert’s Creek at a lovely little park and then stayed at the Tuwanek Hotel. All in all, a couple of really good days to leave the computer off.

Enjoy some pictures.

D.


On the Ferry

signs

tideline

Robert’s Creek

The balancers have been here. Robert’s Creek

drift

dusty

Conversation.


Dalby

Kim and Shannon

Robert’s Creek

Robert’s Creek

Robert’s Creek

Dalby getting in my shot. Robert’s Creek

The trail in Cliff Gilker park.

Forest

Smooth

fiddle

Robert’s Creek

Red in the woods.



prop

sl. ug.
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update.

Hey friends,

Well, it’s been a long time hasn’t it? To say that my life has been going through changes would be an understatement! Without going into too much detail, last spring, after several challenging years, my personal life unravelled. It took a little time to put the pieces back together, but that’s what I’ve been up to over the last 12 months.

So if you’ve been following closely you may have seen some of my posts over at bneeth. I’ve been documenting the photographic transition I’ve been going through. Spoiler alert; there’s a happy ending, but you’ll have to follow along for a few more episodes before we get there.

Also I’ve been really active on Instagram lately. Check it out or add me @danopendygrasse. As always, you can check out where my head is at on Flickr.

I’ve mostly been busy with Monster Energy though, and that’s why my blog has been so quiet.

There is a really cool personal portrait project on the horizon and I’m looking forward to showing you some of the results. More and more it’s the kind of thing I want to be shooting. Well, that and the “walking around” shots. Here’s one now.

dano.

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New lens, new options.

WARNING: Photo geekery follows. Feel free to skip to the photos.

Hi friends,

A quick photo blog with some shots from the Nikon 12-24mm that I finally got underwater. I read bunch of stuff about it online and followed Dr. Mustard’s advice on the setup. The first thing I noticed was that out of the water I couldn’t get any sort of focus with the diopter so I took it out without it. It may be that it only focuses underwater so I’ll have to give that a try, I just don’t want to waste a dive on it right now. Especially because the results without it were quite good just with the 33mm extension. There is definitely some corner distortion at 12mm though.

It’s pretty nice to have the zoom. That’s my first impression. Having only used prime lenses on my new rig so far, the versatility was really nice. On the wide end it’s just slightly less wide than the 10.5 mm that I have (which to my eye is actually a more pleasing focal distance), and the 24 end allows me some chance to achieve good results with slightly smaller creatures. Turtles are a good size creature for it, but anything smaller would have to be sitting pretty still. The Grouper shot was about perfect in terms of size. I probably would have had to get too close with the 10.5mm or maybe even the 16mm and scared him off.

I also noticed that my strobes are probably not strong enough to get any real fill on a sunball shot, unless the subject is really, really close. Shooting at 1/250th and f16 or f22 seems to be crucial to beat the turquoise band and these Ikelite 160’s just don’t have the pop to make anything happen.

I don’t shoot divers enough, so I’m going to focus on that this trip. Luckily I have some willing (or at least convincible) victims to get in front of the camera. I need to work out more of the directions, but just having the chance to work with someone instead of trying to catch moments when a diver is in the right place, is really helpful. I would like some feedback.

I’ve also included some shots from another dive with some funny creatures for my critter nerd friends. All shot with the 60mm macro.

Enjoy,

d.


A turtle at 24mm.

Jen and a sea fan.

Jen and a barrel sponge.

Grouper getting a good cleaning. Must have been 30 gobies on him.

Me and Jen goofing around on the safety stop.

My, what blue rings and lovely lashes you have.

Just a tiny little Zebra Sole. Look at the grains of sand, they look like boulders! Well, maybe not.

Queer little critter, the goatee blennie. I’ve never seen one in Roatan before so this makes me happy. Look at the goatee on him!
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What is Technophobe Tuesday?

What is Technophobe Tuesday?

I didn’t invent unplugging from social media. I’m not trying to start a revolution but recently I’ve felt the need to take a social media break.

A little background: My involvement with social media all started with Snowboard.com (RIP), a website that, before Myspace, Facebook or Twitter, was a really big and vibrant community of snowboarders who interacted online. It was a really good prototype for what was to come but it was niche oriented and as a result everyone had something in common. (I kinda miss that model actually) I “met” people from around the world and it was a good way to promote my photography. Then Friendster showed up. You remember Friendster? No, I don’t really either, but I was on there for a couple years. At least until Myspace showed up. That was pretty much the nail in the coffin of Snowboard.com

When I worked for
Future Network we were encouraged to have a big online presence for the good of the brand and that was when I started blogging, mostly just about the magazine, and spent time almost every workday on Myspace too. I learned right around then that some of the photographers I dealt with only communicated through their myspace, (and/or facebook) page. Weird.

Then I shifted gears and built my own website. Joined
Facebook soon after. Transferred to a blogger account. Quit Myspace. Started Twitter. You see how it goes.

Even though I joined a long time ago I only really started using Flickr recently and it’s actually way more interesting that I thought it would be. And then there is Vimeo…

Ok, so at this point I’m simply too deep into “online” and it’s got me by the throat, I feel like I NEED to stay on top of it to stay productive and not to be left behind.* I’m the kind of person who gets a tiny bit of satisfaction from seeing my ideas get passed on, who likes when he is “liked” and who occasionally analyzes his self-worth with Google analytics. That’s how I know I’ve crossed a line. These are not real things.

I also spend time in places that aren’t particularly Internet friendly but are hugely interesting in the real world. I was in
Roatan for six weeks this summer. How many blogs did I write? Zero. Did I survive? Of course I did.

So just to give myself a break the other week I started “Technophobe Tuesday” which simply means that I didn’t log into Flickr, Facebook or Twitter all day. Simple right?

Actually yes. It’s just that simple.** The logging off is the easy part. But if you work online all day you might find the next part more difficult because inevitably in the course of the day, you become bored, distracted or curious. If you are curious like I am, the Internet could be the worst thing that ever happened. And the best thing. I can become curious about
anything and feel the need to know everything about it. This is bad. I can stay up till the sun comes up researching obscure punk bands or the physics behind lens optics, or nudibranchs, or…anything. The Internet has made me want to know everything.

It’s not working.

Cutting out the social media doesn’t solve all this, but what it does do is remind you how much it’s become a part of out day-to-day lives. How faux-connected we feel all the time despite the fact that we are spending hours alone. When you can’t share interesting and funny things with your online community, you find something else to do. So it’s a start.

The standard I set to decide if my Technophobe Tuesday was a success was whether I was more productive, (I was) and whether I felt like I missed out on important business (not so much). I also caught up on all the outstanding social media threads in about 30 minutes on Wednesday.

So I called it a success. The next week I changed and did it on Thursday, and I recruited a friend to try it out. He emailed me before noon to say, “This is hard”. And he was right, it is hard. It changes a routine we’ve become comfortable with and as humans we don’t really like to change our patterns.

But I’m doing it anyway. This week I’m doing it on Tuesday and Thursday. I’m not trying to change the world, but I’m changing mine.

Give it a try.

d.

*This is utter horseshit.

**If you are reading this thinking “well I go days without logging onto any of those things”, then you aren’t like me and this blog clearly doesn’t apply to you. Congratulations.

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This week.

Hi friends,

Here’s a little update of what’s going on in my world in the second week of December, 2010.

I’m back with Monster Energy Canada working on media and events for the winter season. The big event at the 2011 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival will be all new this year and I’m pretty excited to be building up something that will stoke everyone out. Details to come in the new year.

In case you missed it, I’ve been the guest editor of VancouverIsAwesome.com’s Daily Flickr photo for the last 3 months. It’s been very cool to see some of the great photos that come out of Vancouver and taken as a whole, the collection is pretty amazing. It would make a great coffee table book actually. I’m coming to the end of my stint with them since winter work is getting busy, but the passing of the torch will bring a new set of eyes to the process, which is good. VIA is currently raising funds, they are a great organization and if you’ve enjoyed any of their city coverage it would be nice if you could donate. I’ll continue to be involved with them in any way I can so stay tuned for some new ideas in 2011.

I finally caved and made a “Dano Pendygrasse Photography” facebook page that is separate from my personal page. It will take awhile to migrate people across but I’m going to keep the photo stuff on the photo page and the personal stuff on the personal. Right now I have about 1500 friends on my personal page and 150 on the photo page which is about completely backwards, but hey...

We were in Whistler for Mat the Alien’s birthday this week. A bit of a bender at Sushi Village and then on to Maxx Fish. It’s been awhile since I went underground in Whis. It’s dangerous.

Work continues on the Paul Brunes Young Heart Foundation. After we lost Paul last spring there was much discussion about how to make a difference in the lives of people with heart rhythm disorders. This partnership with UBC and VGH is trying to put into place resources for professionals who work in the field. Precious little is done for young people with heart disorders and many go undiagnosed. For people like us, the first sign of a problem could be the last, and if you are young, you can easily slip through the cracks. Please consider a donation or join the Cause page.

I’ve done some reorganizing of my Photoshelter account. I still haven’t used this site up to its potential. It is an incredible resource and I wish I could have all my photos up there. I keep plugging away at it but for now it’s incomplete. It sneaks a little revenue into my life too, so that’s nice. Check it.

I’ve been throwing a lot of my day to day shots on Flickr lately. I like that I can only ever have 200 shots at a time up there so I’m always weeding out some of the least successful ones and the best ones stay. You can add me as a friend on there if that’s your thing. Here are a couple of my favourites from the last little while.

D.










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On luck.


Hi friends,

I think that if you are tall, naturally thin, or super handsome/pretty, then you are lucky. Also, being born in Vancouver is lucky, (of course, I’m biased). What these things have in common, is that you have absolutely no control over them. Good genes? Sure, but you don’t get to make that call in utero, it just happens, and you are lucky. Here are some things that are not lucky:

-Nailing a picture of a snowboarder in mid spin as he stomps a trick first try in fresh powder.

-Getting a job with a fearless company, doing something really unique and interesting.

-Spending time in a tropical destination doing things that you love.

These are all things that have been part of my life, and time and again I’ve been accused of being extremely lucky. I will concede this: I was lucky to be born where I was and I was very lucky to move to a mountain town just as snowboarding was gaining traction. But you know what? 2 thousand people moved to that town that year. Not to mention the hundred other ski towns that thousands of people moved to that season. And that many again the next. Were we all lucky then?

Good luck is when something positive happens TO you, and you have absolutely no control over it.

When something really positive happens in your life, and it is a result of planning, preparedness, and foresight, that isn’t luck. I think that “unlucky” people have often been right in the crosshairs of “luck”, but failed to be “lucky”. Why is that? Because “lucky” takes balls.
Often times, six months before you become “lucky” you are presented with a decision that is “terrifying”. The difference between the people who find the luck and those who don’t then, is often intuition and courage. It takes a lot of nerve to take a chance on something instead of sticking with what is time tested and proven. It takes a different kind of thinking to drop everything to chase a dream for a while. You have to be prepared for the worst, have a good plan, and then work like your life depends on it. Just to be lucky.

People often remark to photographers “you must have a really good camera.” They have the best intention, but this is pretty insulting to us because it equates the quality and value of your work to a purchased item of equipment. Professional photographers have professional cameras, but often that is a function of durability and ease of use as much as anything else. These days there are hundreds of consumer cameras that take pictures as good as professional cameras, they just may not last as long.

That’s why I find the “lucky” tag to be insulting.
I’ve taken so many chances in my life, and some of them have worked out spectacularly, but sometimes I’m unemployed, running out of money, and feeling creatively bankrupt. Nobody is calling me lucky then. I have been told time and again that I’m lucky to spend so much time in Roatan, diving several times a day in a tropical paradise. Well that luck has come with a price tag too, (try to maintain a normal career when you disappear for months at a time!) but I just nod and suggest that “you should try it, all it takes is to go there.”

With the exception of where I was born and a few other minor details, I’ve made my luck with risk taking, hard work, and a self reliance and intuition that I value more every day. Finally, a quote attributed to the American film producer Samuel Goldwyn:

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”



Right time, right place? Sometimes you just have to be in the right place and hang around long enough for it to be the right time.
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Urban yoga circle

I passed a yoga circle on my walk yesterday. It looked like this:



That is all.

D.
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Back from Maui, on to the real world.

Back from my trip to Maui to celebrate my one year anniversary. We had a great 10 days in the sun and spent most of it underwater with our friends Gabe and Sarah. The highlight of the week, aside from the obvious milestone of the first year of marriage, was spending 15 minutes around 85 feet underwater with 30 foot long whale shark. This is the biggest fish in the ocean and for most of us, a once in a lifetime experience. Having spent a bunch of time in Utila, my wife T had snorkeled with Whale Sharks on numerous occasions, but to be deep underwater with one, and have it hang around, is rare and we are still amazed by our luck. I didn't have an underwater camera rig on this trip so you'll have to settle for the flickr group that was taken by our divemaster Joe. Thanks to Ed Robinson's dive operation, this is the second year we've done our boat dives with them and they are a solid operation with great people. We did around a dozen shore dives over the course of the week too, and we rented our tanks from B & B scuba in Kihei. They're a really great shop and nice people who took care of us last year and again this year.

For my scuba geek friends, you'll be stoked that we saw over a dozen different nudibranchs, some of which are unnamed and still unknown, eagle rays, more turtles than you could count, huge and tiny scorpionish, devil, leaf, and more, tons of frogfish, one of them even freeswimming, lots of whitetip sharks and some grey reef sharks, that I missed but everyone else saw, tons of different eels including dwarf, whitemouth, yellow margin, zebra and tiger moray, and just about every tropical fish you can imagine.

Here are some shots from the trip.

D.


The "Sea Spirit", our trusty ride.

Kits on board.

Sunset from Wailea

Part of a beautiful drive on our way to a remote shore dive.

On our way to the Mala ramp shore dive.

Rays over the water, rays under the water.

Lahaina

Legendary Hawaiian diver Ed Robinson.
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Home. Finishing some things and starting some others.

"Whoa. Are you still here? Wow. Nice to see you. Me? I've been away. In Roatan, Honduras. Ya, there was a "coup". Big Earthquake too. How big? 7.1! I know, it was crazy. Well, between that and the swine flu scare the tourists pretty much stopped coming. Ya, that's why I'm on my way back to Vancouver. Just in time for the salmon in the rivers and the leaves to change colour. I'm hoping for an indian summer, I love Vancouver in September.

Pictures? Sure, I took some. Not as many as i would have liked, the divemaster training kept me from shooting much and then I started to work leading divers and couldn't take a camera along. Ya, it was a bit of a bummer, but I was happy for the chance to get some experience.

What now? Well I have a couple of interesting job offers and it's an Olympic year so there will be lots of things to shoot, but truthfully, I'm mostly just looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and catching up with friends. Yes, of course I'll start writing regularly again. Having reliable electricity and internet makes blogging a lot easier.

Well thanks, I'm glad to see you again too. Talk soon."




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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.

Cheers,

d.
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Life Photos, Snowboarding, and other stuff.

Just after I started writing this blog I got a call fro the New Westminster police to tell me that my truck had been recovered, a week to the day since it was stolen from in front of my building. There is some damage but it looks like I will be getting it back. It remains to be seen how long that will take and what condition it will be in. Of course my sled is gone. I'm going to have to eat that loss and it completely sucks. If anybody is looking at a really good deal on a 2007 skidoo summit 600, please take a close look at the VIN and give me a call or drop me a line.

I shot a couple things over the weekend including the Showdown over the City and was going to show some photos but I suddenly don't care that much. Instead I'll show you this:



Life magazine is allowing bloggers and non-commercial web folks to use images from their archives free of charge, a very interesting move.
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12 months

In the last 12 months I:

Got married.
Bought a condo.
Wrote a book.
Spent 20 (though not nearly enough) hours underwater.
Watched the magazine I helped start, end.
Sold photos to magazines and companies around the world.
Did the highest paying photo job I’ve ever done.
Was offered less than I ever have been for photos.
Took huge chances in my career.
Worked on a deeply satisfying personal project.
Worked too hard, but not smart enough.
Lost my priorities.
Found them again.
Fell further in love.
Started to put the pieces together.
Was humiliated.
Was proud.
Was intimidated.
Got over it.
Rode a bus.
Rode a bike.
Rode a boat.
Rode a helicopter.
Rode a snowboard.
Rode a plane.
Rode a (sky)train.
Rode a snowmobile.
Wakesurfed.


Sometimes I have absolutely no idea how I make it through the years. My life astonishes me.


Wind. Olympic Village. Vancouver.
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Several steps

My life is getting torn in several directions lately. It's exciting to do new things and have new challenges, and it's also difficult to let other things wait.

Yesterday was the beginning of the media campaign to promote Grenade Games 5, this spring and it went very much according to plan. As the days move on we'll be bringing more information out and continuing to work to make sure that the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler is the best it has been in years.

On the other hand, the winter in BC has being very difficult and isn't cooperating in the making of snowboard photos. I find that to be frustrating. C'est la vie. Life moves on. Mine continues to be very, very interesting and unusual. As I shoot more and more in my neighbourhood, I am starting to really "see". Themes start to become obvious and I spend more time developing the ones that speak loudest to me. This is a long process and It's very interesting. The best part about it is that as you live longer, the things you see change. How you see changes. What is important to you personally and photographically change. This means I'm often dismissive of some of my past work as I move past it, and also some things from my past that didn't resonate with me immediately grow on me over time. My work evolves even after it's in the can.

As my snowboard photography suffers in a bad season, I become a better photographer.

Here are a couple shots from this week.


s canoe

dog run

casino bird
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Deep Winter 2009

So tonight is the Deep Winter contest in Whistler. For the last three days, 6 photographers have been shooting their asses off in terrible conditions with the aim of putting together an award winning slideshow tonight. I've done this contest for the last two years and it is easily one of the most exhausting photographic experiences I've ever endured. Considering the conditions, I'm more than glad to not be doing it again this season, but I am very much looking forward to seeing the results. And this year I will sit on the panel of judges.

I think that judging photography is stupid. I said "no" to the request half a dozen times before finally being convinced to participate. In the end, someone will win, but I know that just the experience of shooting for those three days and making a slideshow to present on the night of the fourth provides a huge sense of accomplishment to the contestants.

Here is a link to my show from last year and a couple shots from the contest. Good luck to all this years contestants.

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transitions

I'm having a really hard time transitioning from the warm water and beaches of Maui to the grey cold of Vancouver. It's that time of year that is always really challenging, too early to snowboard, but already cold and wet. Roatan is sounding better all the time. Reef Gliders is moving and I can't wait to check out the new shop. I miss my friends down there and the fun times. Shooting diving photos underwater again in Maui has got me all amped on that again. It's a shame that it is so bloody expensive to get into and a tough place to sell photos. I figure it will take about another season before I have some really good underwater stuff. Not that I'm not happy with some of the things that I get down there, but I'm not as consistent as I am shooting people, or snow or whatever.

Ok, time to write a chapter for the book.


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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.
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