Recently I had the opportunity to take a whole day and concentrate on photography. Here’s a chronology of the experience.

4:30am: Alarm goes off. Leap from bed. Big day. I get to shoot dawn to dusk.

4:31am: Remember that when I say shoot to my American friends they think I’m talking about something different.

4:32: Turn on kettle. I was so excited about this day that the night before I actually put the tea bag in my mug so I could save time.

4:34: Make tea. Drink it. Make more.

4:40: Car loaded the night before, I kiss Jenn goodbye and drive east on the Trans Canada towards Mount Yamnuska Natural Area.

4:50: The right lens falls out of my glasses. Foresee (pun intended) complications to my day.

4:51: Fix glasses while driving 110km/hour in the dark towards foothills.

5:05: Arrive at Mount Yamnuska Natural Area and begin hiking. My goal is sunrise photos from the ridge above the Bow Valley. After 25 years of shooting film, and more recently rearranging electrons (which sounds way less glamorous) I’ve got a contract with RMB | Rocky Mountain Books for Earth and Sky: A Foothills Journey to be published in 2015. I already have more than 2000 half decent images (and another 5 or 6,000 crappy shots) from the foothills shot over the last 18 years of exploration, but I want this book to be a perfect expression of my passion for this landscape, so I half run-half walk up the trail; I’m so excited to have this opportunity.

5:20: My first location yields little of value; I must climb higher. So I do.

5:45: I find the perfect location, so I set up again. Perfect location = something interesting in the foreground, in this case some lovely limestone, a great panorama of the Bow Valley and foothills, and the cresting sun. I get the image I came for. (Click images to enlarge)


6:30: In early July, with the forecast for 37 degrees C temperatures, the light is pretty much done for the day. The golden glow of sunrise has already turned harsh white. I start back down. More tea awaits in a thermos in the car.

7:30: Drive back into Canmore. My hope had been to head south towards the Porcupine Hills, but I’m holding my glasses together with gravity and the muscles of my nose, and that’s not going to work for long.

9:00: Get glasses fixed. Buy some groceries and when the liquor store opens, some beer.

11:00: After more delays, I’m on the road again.

1:30: Longview, Alberta. I forgot to call my publisher – the one who produces my fiction – and talk through some final edits for another book, so I do.

2:30: Porcupine Hills. The heat is intense and the light harsh, but I spend four hours driving around, taking different roads at random, finding dead ends, and stopping from time to time to take a few shots. I get one good image of an abandoned house (see below); the other 200 plus images are for posterity.


5:30: I drive the Skyline Road, the highest point in the Southern Porcupine Hills. The light is getting better so I stop more often and shoot.

6:30: I find a place to camp with a great view, and even better prospects for panorama’s from a crest above my tent site. Dinner and a beer.

7:30: Drive around until I get 1 bar of cell signal and call Jenn, who I miss already. Sniff. More beer.

8:30: The Show. I climb the hill above my camp, shooting rosy light on aspens as I go (see below) and then set up for some evening splendor. I’m not disappointed. I’ve been doing this since I was in grade 10, and all my life I’ve wanted to be a professional photographer, and here I am. I’m not going to waste this amazing opportunity. Every single time I press the shutter release I consider myself blessed.


10:15: The light gone, I make my way back to my campsite, stow my gear and crawl into bed, setting the alarm for 4:30. I’ve shot nearly 500 frames in one day.

4:30 am: Alarm goes off. Leap from bed. Big day. I don’t get to shoot from dawn to dusk straight through; I’ve got meetings and obligations, but I get from now until just after sunrise, and that too is a gift. I am blessed.