Recently I’ve been posting a lot of my photos on Flickr and when I got to this one I got a little caught up in describing the photo. So I thought I’d share the story here as well. It’s a brief story explaining what’s going on in the photo, but putting it up there was inspired by another photographer talking about how he rushed to get into the frame within the 10 second timer and how frantic that experience can be. The point I was originally trying to explain was that the urgency of doing that – setting up the camera, running to get into position – can itself make for a great photo.
A Long Day
This self shot was taken at the end of a really, really long day, but the good kind of long day.
If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you already know that I’ve been participating in a photography challenge called The 365. For those of you who have never heard of this, it’s an exercise where you take one picture a day, and usually post it up on Flikr. I learned about this from a friend who used to be a talented photographer, but now is an amazing photographer which she credits to her participation in this project. What she didn’t yet realize but came to really appreciate is that it’s not only a fun hobby or challenge, it’s a fantastic learning experience.
So here are the rules: You have to take one picture every day for a year (hence “365″). You can take as many photos as you like, and even post them all, but you have to take at least one, and you can only choose one for the project (in my case, adding one to the 365 group). Oh, and that photo had to be taken on that day. This is actually the toughest part, for two reasons. First, obviously you have to take a picture every day. This can itself be a hell of a challenge. It seems like a simple thing to do – click button, upload picture – once a day, but it’s strange how often your life gets in your way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve raced around looking for some kind of subject at 11:45PM. Second, and much more difficult is that you have to choose (only) one. Maybe you got into a groove and took a bunch of great ones today. Super, pick one and go again tomorrow. The point of the exercise is to practice. Practice practice practice. And then there are some days, the perfectionist in you starts to set in, and as your standards begin to rise (for me usually in a more delusional kind of way), you might have to choose some lesser-of-the-evils photo. Oh well. Post one, learn and move on.
If you want to do it right join a group. What starts as a gang of people with which to share pictures, seek advise and of course commiserate, turns very quickly into a community. The compliments, comments and support is unreal. They start to get to know each other’s styles, preferences, personalities – in both photography and sense of humour. I’m not sure you need to be a member to read this article, but it’s worth a read. (The friend I mentioned is “The Black and White Queen”.) It explains it all when it comes to the 365, including the culture. (As for me, I’m kind of a fringe member. If the group was a grade school dance, I’d be the new kid, hanging around the punch bowl. I’m there, I’m doing it, taking it all in, but without the social fortitude to really get in on the conversations. This is my thing though. Don’t do that. They’re all nice, gracious and very welcoming.)
For me, I really want the practice (and can use it), and really appreciate the feedback and advice I get on my photos. I really think it’ll make all my photos of trips much better. I’m trying to focus on outdoor subjects, but I can’t always do that. Once tripping season starts I think this is going to get a lot easier for me. No shortage of subjects there.
So, since I’m 1/4 of the way through, I thought I’d show off a couple of my personal favourite pictures from my 365Project. These aren’t necessarily the most popular (these two are: Light Trails on Trees, Birds are Jerks), but rather ones that are more meaningful to me, either because of how I got the picture, the subject or, more often, what I learned taking the picture. (Each of the pictures is linked to Flickr. Clicking on them will let you read more about the photo or the adventure I had while taking it.)
I woke up on Saturday morning – Day 2 of Canoecopia – to an emergency. Okay, not so much an emergency as an urgent request. Probably not urgent, actually, more of a request. No, let’s go with emergency. It’s makes for a better story. (To catch up on Day 1, see here.)
Fiona, the “better half” of Badger Paddles sent me an urgent – I mean emergency – message saying she needed a picture of Kevin Callan wearing a blue scarf. With Mike (the “starving” other half) busy at the show, and Fiona holding the fort back home, she asked me to track down Kevin and get him to pose for a nice picture wearing the blue scarf of the Six Degree Project – an Autism awareness program that is trying to get celebrities to pose with the scarf to demonstrate that, based on the idea of six degrees of separation, we all have someone close to us affected by Autism. Kevin had agreed to be one of the celebrities, had his scarf on, and it was now my job to track him down and get a nice picture.
Today would be the best day to track down Kevin. I was planning on attending a few presentations where he was involved. Seems a little strange to drive all the way to Madison to watch the Canadian presenter, but you’ll understand why I couldn’t miss his shows when I you see the pictures below.
But the first presentation I needed to be at was for Lake Michigan in a Dugout. I’m a big fan of stories about epic paddling adventures people go on, but especially when those adventures are particularly interesting and when the people aren’t the typical types to go on these adventures. Also, I like hearing about young ladies empowering themselves by taking on a challenge that seem reserved for the boys. Last year I got a chance to see the girls from Hudson Bay Bound, who traveled from Minnesota to Hudson’s Bay by canoe. (Incidentally, they have taken that experience and dedicated a new non-profit to share that same paddling/learning experience to young girls through the Wild River Academy. I stopped by their booth at the event but missed meeting Natalie.)
Lake Michigan in a Dugout was a project undertaken by two ladies from Indiana, Mary Catterlin and Amy Lukas. They have lots of stories and fun videos at their website, including their post on Canoecopia – which if you look closely, you’ll even see a picture of yours truly in the audience. Basically, the project started when Mary brought home a huge piece of wood and told her father that she was planning on carving out a dugout canoe. I can only imagine what was going on in her father’s mind when he saw this happening. My poor father had to deal with a few of my “ideas” brought home, but none took up that much room (probably). When the boat was finished, it was named Makeba, and Mary and Amy set off to cover the entire shoreline of Lake Michigan. It took them 93 days, and from the stories told at their presentation, they had a lot of fun, and learned much more. Similar to Hudson Bay Bound, they seemed to discover friendly and helping people along the way, discovered some hidden beauty along with some ugly realities, and leaned on their mutual friendship to get through a difficult challenge. Check out their website. They’re quite funny.
I just got back from Canoecopia 2013 and, typically, I turned a simple (road) trip into an adventure. (It’s what I do.) Sorry I couldn’t post as timely as I did last year (same day), but here’s my account from Day 1. Check back for Days 2 and 3 in the next couple of days.
I’ve learned one thing from my trip to Canoecopia: I’m too old for a good old fashioned overnight 12 hour road trip. I have to deal with this, and accept it. Monday, upon my return from my trip, I walked around like a zombie, basically just waiting for a time that was respectable enough to go to sleep for the night. (Is 8:00 too early?) On Tuesday, I’m still feeling a little dazed.
But of course it was all worth it. I love getting away, getting to talk to a large variety of paddlers, see the latest outdoor products and of course my favourite part, getting to see some great presentations. For those of you who don’t know, Canoecopia is the world’s largest paddling expo, a 3 day event filled with enough exhibitors and speakers to keep even the casual paddler interested and entertained. In fact, we were going to test that theory, as this year a group of friends decided to join me down to Madison, Wisconsin.
After reading my write up of the event from last year, one friend had asked whether it was worth it, travelling all that way, even though he wasn’t as hard-core a paddler as I. He decided that 2 days would probably be good enough, with the third he’d travel around visiting the local sites.
Another Outdoor Adventure Show is in the books. It’s one of my favourite events. It gives me a chance to meet up with other outdoor enthusiasts, see some neat new gear, watch some demos and of course see some presentations.
My first task when the event’s schedule comes out is to find when and where Kevin Callan (The Happy Camper) is presenting. His talks all always insightful and entertaining – not to mention funny – and as usual he didn’t disappoint. On Saturday morning it was “Tales of a Wilderness Wanderer”, showing us pictures of some of the adventures he’s been on. In the afternoon it was “How to be a Better Camp Cook”, talking about food and recipes around the campfire. In both, he combined tips with stories, and a lot of fun. I’m not sure how long this will continue, but apparently his new thing is to toss hats into the audience. If you get a chance to see him, I’d recommend getting there a little early and getting a seat close to the front, as the hats don’t seem to fly too far.
Of course the feature of these talks was to promote Kevin’s two new books. First was Dazed but Not Confused: Tales of a Wilderness Wanderer, a great new book that I loved reading and will review soon. Second was The New Trailside Cookbook, a recipe and tips book for making tasty and fun meals on a camping trip. Apparently Kevin had only one copy of this book, the first copy, which he decided to give it to an audience member who answered an intelligence test. He started by asking the crowd “Who has been on a canoe camping trip that didn’t require a portage?” When someone answered “Yes”, he gave the book to them, telling them “Smart.” Interestingly, this person was friend of mine, and Kevin later signed the copy of the book. I’m not jealous at all. I’d rather buy my own copy anyway. A new copy, without all that writing in the front cover. Not jealous at all.
This upcoming weekend one of my favourite outdoor events is taking place: The Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show. (Read last year’s report here.) This year looks like it’s going to be an even better event than years past. If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to miss the best stuff, and so you might want to go in with a game-plan. Since I’ve done the research already, I might as well share with you what I’ve learned to expect at this year’s event. See below for coupons to save a bit of money and ways you can keep up with the event remotely.
What to look for:
- Legendary Hap Wilson will be visiting the Swift Canoe and Kayak booth on Sunday from 12-3 pm signing books, talking about tripping and the Path of the Paddle project as well. This is definitely something you don’t want to miss.
- Kevin Callan – As usual, the Happy Camper will be presenting twice in the Ontario Outdoor Adventures Theatre: “Tales of a Wilderness Wanderer” (Sat 12:30, Sun 12:00) and “How to be a Better Camp Cook” (Sat 3:30).
- Kevin will also be hanging out at the Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co. and Ontario Tourism booths as well. (Andy from Treks in the Wild will be helping out at the Ontario Tourism booth, so if you want expert advice when Kevin’s not around, ask for him.)
- Speaking of Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co., they’re also hosting Sticks and Stones Wilderness School as well as Jeffrey McMurtrie (Saturday), creator of Jeff’s Map (formerly Algonquin Online Map).
- Demos at the pool including favourites Swift Canoe and Kayak, LearnToKayak.ca, The Muskoka Paddle Shack and the Complete Paddler.
- Henry’s School of Imaging booth is offering free 30 minute photography seminars throughout the weekend.
- Mud Hero mini obstacle course (sans the mud, probably a good choice). If this is for big people too, I may have to try it. Someone needs to get my picture (unless I fall, of course).
- Sat 1:30 – Les Stroud, aka Survivorman in the G Adventures Theatre
- Sun 2:00 – Olympic silver medalist and adventurer Adam van Koeverden in the G Adventures Theatre. See Adam kayaking around with Rick Mercer here.
- 2 for 1 Admission coupon from Ontario Tourism
- Ontario Outdoor Adventure Show website, with links to presentation and demo schedules.
- Trail Swag list of outdoor show must-haves.
Can’t be there? You can keep up to date from tweets and Facebook updates from a few of the people and companies I know will be active (or at least have something to say):
It’s Valentines Day today. Now I’m not all that touchy-feely, and I’m one of those people who is torn on the idea of this “holiday”. But then again, it is a good excuse to show the ones you care about how you feel. So just like any holiday where you’re supposed to do something (i.e. buy something), if done with the right intentions, why not? (Incidentally, did your mom make you give Valentines to everyone in your class? As a kid I found that weird, and embarrassing. I mean, I did NOT want to give the wrong impression – especially to that girl who always wanted to sit beside me during reading time. But at least if everyone got one, the implication of something more isn’t there. That said, I do remember making sure a couple of girls got one just slightly bigger than the others. But I digress….)
This isn’t a website about holidays or love or candy, so I’m going to talk about love from a tripping perspective. Whether it’s romantic or parental or even just a strong bond with someone – or a furry friend for that matter – there are plenty of ways love is expressed out in the back-country. Here are just some of the ways I’ve experienced, witnessed or listened to in stories:
- … Quietly keeping the canoe straight for a new paddler, telling them their doing just fine when asked.
- … Letting someone think they’re doing a great job keeping you straight.
- … Compliments, even when “it’s not a big deal”.
- … Sneaking some of the heavier items into your own pack.
- … Staying up late the night before a trip to prepare some special treat.
- … Offering up the last bit of chocolate when the treats have been exhausted.
- … “You first.”
- … “I’ll go first.”
- … Slaving over a campfire to make an elaborate meal.
- … Telling someone you like it better burnt.
- … Offering to do the dishes.
- … Buying someone a piece of gear that makes their trip a little more comfortable – or even fashionable.
- … Getting into the canoe from the muddy spot.
- … Not laughing, no matter how hard that might be, and no matter how dirty/wet/ungraceful someone got.
- … Smiling.
- … Bringing some things you normally might not on a portage trip.
- … Lying about how your side of the tent is soft enough when one of the sleeping pads deflate.
- … What I got, I said remember that. (Sorry, I hate that song too, but it got in my head writing this.)
- … Taking an extra shift driving home.
- … Resisting every urge to fall asleep so you can keep the driver company.
- … Asking for directions, you know, just to be sure.
- … Telling someone they’re even prettier dirty and natural.
- … Telling someone they don’t smell that bad at all.
- … Making sure someone’s little face is clean the whole trip, no matter how an uphill battle it seems to be.
- … Being vocally impressed by how someone carried that little, but obviously quite heavy bag, almost the whole length of a portage.
- … Bringing a lot more “Gummy” food items than you would normally.
- … Being the one who steps up and says it’s time to rest.
- … Sharing body heat with a plugged nose.
- … Band aids with Spiderman on them.
- … Standing guard but out of site of the privy.
- … Watching a sunset with an arm around the shoulders and a head against a chest.
- … Checking to see if it was a bear, when you are certain it was a squirrel.
- … Not saying “I told you so” and packing an extra rain coat.
- … That look across the campfire. It’s even better when light is flickering.
- … A welcome home hug, even when it goes against every instinct.
… And of course, love is, most of all, wanting to share great experiences together.
Warning: I’m going to sound like I’m overly-gushing about Swift Canoe & Kayak, to the point where you might think I get paid by them. I don’t. I just they’ve been very nice to me and I really like their canoes. It also helps that they’re a Canadian company, built in a factory in one of my favourite little towns, South River, ON, where I spent much of my youth. Also, as I’ve come to learn during my long search for a new canoe last year, they employ some really great, helpful people.
So your local pond or river is frozen. You’re stuck inside or have a bunch of white stuff to step through. You’re overly clothed, probably sporting one of those Christmas-present-sweaters to appease a loved one. You’re dreaming about being out on the water. You may even be pathetically sitting by a window, staring out like they do in the movies when the protagonist is conveying melancholic longing (in some kind of fuzzy, 3-D reindeer sweater). You flip through outdoor gear catalogs, and visit canoeing websites and skim through to pictures of warm sunny days. It’s all you can do to wait for the water to thaw so you can get back out there. What are you to do until spring?
Yeah, this time of year is hard on paddlers, for the most part. But, did you know this is the best time of year for gear shopping and outdoor shows? Yep. Coming up this weekend is the Toronto Boat show (Jan 12-20). I normally don’t attend that one as it mainly deals with non-man-powered watercraft, but there are some canoe and kayak companies there. Up next is the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show (Feb 22-24), which I’ll probably hang out at all weekend to meet up with outdoor friends and catch all the presentations.
Speaking of presentations, Canoecopia comes next in March, which is quickly becoming my favourite outdoor show. It’s in Wisconsin, but it’s a great chance to see all the different exhibitors that I normally don’t have access to, up hear north of the border. What really makes it worth the travel to get down there is seeing all the great speakers and presentations. Incidentally, I’m organizing a bus trip there, so if you’ve ever wanted to go but the expense of traveling is holding you back, checkout http://portageur.ca/canoecopia/ for the details. Tell your friends too, because the more people go, the cheaper the trip becomes for everyone.
I know absolutely nothing about art, technically. History, brush strokes, artists, styles, I’m learning, but what I do know is far outweighed than by what I do not – and usually acquired incidentally, here and there. And I have to admit, I’m not super interested in actively learning much more. Like that old saying goes, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like”. Being an outdoors person, I’m obviously drawn to a certain subject matter. Being human, I read more into the paint brushed on the canvas. Being a unique human outdoors person, I might read into things differently than someone else might. Just like everyone else.
You gotta go
What I do know is that there is an exhibit going on right now at the McMichael Gallery that is a must see for any art or outdoor person. Sadly, it’s only on until January 6th, 2013. “Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven” is a sort of a “best of” The Group’s work, including many pieces that are normally stored in different galleries and private collections throughout the country. That’s the most important reason to go: In order to see the same paintings, it would cost a lot of gas and travel time, not to mention that some in the private collections will never be shown again (to you and me, at least). It was originally put together for exhibition in London, England, then traveled to Norway and the Netherlands. Because of the success abroad, they decided to extend the exhibit back here at home.
If you’ve never seen these iconic paintings in real life, then you should definitely go. I cannot explain just how much better seeing them in person is compared to in print. Stand in front of one and you take in everything the artist intended. For example, you’d be surprised how much the texture of the paint adds to the depth of the painting – which is in perfect keeping with the unique and genius style of The Group of Seven. If that doesn’t convince you, think standing in front of “The Jack Pine” (1916-1917) – which is cool enough on it’s own, mind you – then turn around and see “The West Wind” (1917) on the opposite wall. In fact, when the exhibit first opened in London, it was the first time ever that the two paintings hung on the same wall. With one normally housed in Ottawa, the other in Toronto, you’re saving yourself at least 4 hours and 43 minutes. Extra bonus reason to go: You can even see the original sketch for The Jack Pine.
So what’s so important about seeing some paintings?
I just wanted to take a short moment and say thanks to everyone. It’s this time of year when it’s best to surround ourselves with loved ones and reflect on all the great things that we have, and especially the experiences we’ve had since the last time we got together.
2012 has been a great year, filled with some great memories for Nancy and myself. We’ve had the opportunity to have some great adventures and meet some really great people.
All of your thoughts, comments, likes and retweets mean the world to us. We appreciate the validation and love the interaction with great paddling and portaging people.
Nancy and I wish you and your families a sincere Merry Christmas. We hope Santa is good to you all, and maybe leaves you with some paddling and camping gear for next year’s trips!
So to all our old friends, new friends, even friends we haven’t yet met, cheers to a great 2012 and we know we’ll all have a great 2013!