Archive for the ‘Photo Feature’ Category

Gulf Islands National Park and Reserve

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

This summer we did a combination marketing/special event photo shoot in Gulf Islands National Park and Reserve near Victoria, B.C. Parks Canada hosted a 2-day BioBlitz at Sidney Spit, and then we spent several days visiting some of the outer islands in the marine park.

Saoyú-Ɂehdacho National Historic Site

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

In August Fritz was invited by Parks Canada to photograph the week-long Sahtu Dene Knowledge Camp in the Saoyú-Ɂehdacho National Historic Site.  

Saoyú and Ɂehdacho are two peninsulas at the western end of Great Bear Lake, a cultural landscape of significant spiritual and historic importance to the people of Délįne. At over 5,000 sq km it’s Canada’s largest national historic site — about the size of Prince Edward Island!

Nahanni National Park

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

This was Fritz’s first trip to Nahanni, and what a trip it was. Parks Canada took a small team on a 10-day whirlwind tour to many of Nahanni’s great sites – Glacier Lake, Cirque of the Unclimbables, Rabbitkettle,  tufa mounds, Virginia Falls – to refresh the park’s photo collection.

Naats’ihch’oh National Park

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

This summer Fritz was invited by Parks Canada to photograph one of the country’s newest park reserves. Officially established just a year ago, Naats’ihch’oh is an extensive wilderness adjacent and north of Nahanni National Park. The small crew spent a week exploring the park.

Klondike National Historic Sites

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

It’s always a good time in Dawson City! Parks Canada was looking to rejuvenate their image collection for the complex of national historic sites in the Klondike, and they invited Fritz for a 2-day power shoot this summer.

Winter and Whisky

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

[by Fritz] Last April Air North called about a pretty unique shoot: “We’re hosting Yukon’s first-ever whisky tour, we’ve teamed up with Edible Canada, and we want this to look good!”

A couple of weeks later I was shoulder to shoulder with top chefs, food bloggers and whisky purveyors as they welcomed two dozen well-heeled visitors on their first Yukon culinary tour. The Yukon Whisky Dinner started with huskies and ended under the northern lights, with stops along the way to sample some of the Yukon’s finest fare. It was an impressive package of experience and tastes, and clearly things went well – Edible Canada is offering two Yukon tours next April.

See more from the Yukon Whisky Dinner shoot on our Facebook page

Yukon Quest “pup-arazzi” at Casavant Kennels

Friday, January 9th, 2015

[by Teresa]  If I was a sleddog, I know where I’d want to live: on an acreage near Tagish, Yukon, where I’d be fed stew and given massages and tucked into a cosy building on those frigid winter nights. It’s also the home of Normand Casavant and Karine Grenier, subjects of a documentary film being shot by Red Letter Films that follows veteran musher, Normand, as he prepares to race in the Yukon Quest.

The production company hired us to do a portrait shoot of Normand’s dogs. The portraits are under wraps until the race, but here are some of the behind-the-scenes shots from our day at Casaventures Kennels. It was overcast so we set up an outdoor studio right in the dogyard, and Karine worked with us all day as we shot portraits of their 30 dogs. Normand and Karine are lovely, and their dogs were fun to work with – it was one of the more delightful shoots we’ve done.

The Yukon Quest is a month away. The legendary 1000-mile dogsled race starts in Whitehorse on February 7. Good luck to Normand and the team – we’ll be at the start line watching!

 

 

 

Shooting Canada’s National Parks

Friday, January 9th, 2015

[by Fritz] I’m fortunate to often shoot in our national parks system, trying to capture experiences, moments and landscapes that make people want to visit these special places. Working with Parks Canada has been one of the highlights of my decade as a photographer.

Recently Parks Canada put their photography services out to tender. It was a competitive process – required 10 years of professional experience and fairly rigorous technical and portfolio qualifications. Excited to be selected by Parks Canada as one of six photographers shooting in the national parks and heritage sites system over the next couple of years. And a few parks are already queueing up shoots for summer 2015.

With warm summer thoughts in mind, here’s a selection from a shoot in Ivvavik National Park last summer with the team from the Western Arctic Field Unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gigapixels at Kluane National Park Visitor Centre

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

[by Fritz] Last weekend I attended the official opening of the new Kluane National Park visitor centre in Haines Junction, Yukon where I got to see the results of a commercial shoot I worked on over the past two years. The client was Parks Canada, and they first called me in 2010 about commissioning a series of gigapixel images for their new exhibit hall. Read an earlier blog post about Gigpan Epic Pro and Mars Rover technology.

My job was to follow the exhibit designer’s creative direction to create half a dozen wall-sized gigapixel images to be incorporated into interpretive installations. This wasn’t a photographer-driven beauty shoot – they provided detailed concepts and image sizes, and I scouted locations and completed the shoots to their specs. It was very time consuming and involved lots of technical challenges and computer time. We all had to stay flexible as the project evolved, and the results are impressive. Lots of photographers are creating gigapixel images, but few are fortunate to have them printed at their full size.

It’s exciting to see how veteran exhibit designer David Jenson and his team created an immersive space where you can experience being in the park. When entering Parks Canada’s exhibit hall, you first approach a ceiling-high mountain structure in the centre of the room draped with a gigapixel photograph of King’s Throne at Kathleen Lake. Hiding beyond King’s Throne is a 10-foot high photo of a wall of glacial ice: the toe of Donjek Glacier, with lighting that creates the feeling of clouds and changing sunlight. Other stitched gigapan images anchor habitat exhibits on the surrounding walls.

In the end we made 7 giant photographs, and many of my images from other shoots for Parks Canada are used elsewhere throughout the exhibits. Below you can explore and zoom into five of these gigapixel images of Kluane – click on bottom-left button for full-screen mode. Or better yet, visit the new interpretive centre in Haines Junction!

Making gigapixel murals with Mars rover technology

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

[by Fritz] In 2010 I got a call from Parks Canada asking if I could make 65-foot long photo-murals for their new visitor centre in Kluane National Park. I boldly said yes, having just a month earlier read about the new GigaPan Epic Pro robotic camera mount. This device incorporates technology developed by researchers at NASA and Carnegie Mellon University for the Mars rover missions to make detailed stitched panoramas of the red planet.

I was keen to use this technology to photograph Kluane’s oversize landscapes, so I scrambled to buy the device, which had been available for less than a year. I’d never made an image this size before, and I was fortunate to have a client who was open to exploring this with me. The 1,704 megapixel image below of alpine waterfalls in White Pass was a test shot in preparation for Parks Canada’s mural project. It was stitched from 196 photos taken with the 21-megapixel Canon 1DS Mark III. This photo isn’t particularly special, but it becomes much more interesting when you zoom in and explore the water, rocks and plants at full resolution. If you want to view it on an iOS device or the full-screen version go to the link at GigaPan.

In the end we made 7 photographs for Parks Canada – the largest mural will be 46-feet long and 16-feet high and is being printed from a 2,400 megapixel file. The exhibits are being installed this winter – check back in the new year when I’ll share these gigapixel images from Kluane.

Robert Service in full color

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

                                    from the Spell of the Yukon, Robert Service

[by Fritz] Last month I headed to Dawson City to shoot the Klondike National Historic Sites for the Canadian Tourism Commission. Most of the talent we pulled in were Parks Canada staff whose jobs had just ended for the season, along with some keen locals and a few tourists. It was supposed to look like a ‘summer’ shoot, but fall was in full swing here in September so we embraced it.

One afternoon we spent some time at Robert Service Cabin. Most visitors to Dawson seek out the home of the famous poet known for his verses about the Klondike Gold Rush. The weather had been cloudy and cold, but while we were there the sun beamed into the historic site. For a short time we were surrounded by magic light and golden fall colour.

While leading us around town on a walking tour, Parks Canada heritage interpreter Fred Osson became Robert Service. By the time we arrived at the cabin, we’d been listening to Fred recite Service ballads and spout off tall tales like Service. I found myself lowering the camera so I could watch the famous bard. I caught myself thinking: this actually is Robert Service, and I really am standing here on the boardwalk in 1903.

It’s easy to think about historic times in monochromatic black and white like we see in the old photos, yet Service’s life was full of colour. That afternoon Fred animated Robert Service’s world for us. Fred is incredibly gifted at what he does, and he took us back a hundred years. We re-created a historic photograph in front of the cabin porch, with Fred teasing us in and out of the past. Oddly, it was 100 years almost to the day since Service left the Yukon for good.

I’ve been to Dawson many times, yet I felt something significant at the cabin that day, like I’d travelled through time and found Klondike gold myself. It was a testament to the power of interpretation.

It’s a big land with magic light and unlimited possibilities for a photographer

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

[by Fritz] YukonWild’s ad in this month’s issue of PhotoLife magazine promotes the Yukon. It’s a pleasure to endorse our wilderness tourism friends at YukonWild, and it’s great to see Yukon being marketed to photographers.

Finding the aurora borealis

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

[by Teresa] This week Fritz happens to be in the right place at the right time: above the Arctic Circle with clear skies under some of the largest solar storms in years. Living north of 60 we’ve seen many aurora, but it sounds like yesterday’s auroral show in northern Norway was something special. His email home says it best:

(January 22)… M3 class magnetic storm. I’m alone along the road to the small fishing village of Tromvik. It’s perfectly clear, calm, maybe -3° C. I’m at the end of a fjord surrounded by snow-covered peaks and it’s a completely magic evening with brilliant stars and aurora are going off everywhere, twisting and rippling, light green and pinks, breathtaking. Then super-strong winds hit going north, buffeting me and the cameras, one tripod without a camera blows over (are winds associated with strong aurora events?!). For awhile I feel like I am standing right on the very edge of the earth looking into space. It’s awe-inspiringly beautiful, exhilarating. I feel almost frighteningly exposed. This was considered an M3 class event, imagine what an X-class event must be like?

It looks like he won’t have to wait long to find out. Within hours of yesterday’s peak, space weather forecasters warned of a massive solar flare due to arrive later today (Jan. 24). Fritz reports he’s eagerly awaiting this next event, which is reportedly the biggest solar radiation storm in seven years. Hopefully the clouds stay away!

 

Hollywood gets cut: the first of many tough book edits

Monday, June 27th, 2011

[by Teresa] We’ve decided to cut Hollywood from our Yukon book – she’s a magnificent old Coast Mountains grizzly celebrated for her cub-rearing success. Sometimes the emotion embedded in an image overshadows its photographic merits. In this case, I sat quietly with my daughters over several days watching Hollywood with her cubs, and whenever I view this image it evokes my empathy and memories of relating to her mama to mama. We have a surplus of great bear shots in a book that distills a decade of northern photography, so we must be ruthless. Hollywood’s portrait is lovely and it shows her gentle character, but we see no cubs or behaviour and little sense of the place that defines her family and habitat. I may see a sweet, selfless, hard-working mother, but the composition doesn’t hold up against photos of bears feeding or fighting or exploring their environment.  

You’d think we’d be able to quickly put together this book, but as our colleague @OutcropJay likes to say, it’s an iterative process, which really means we keep revisiting and rehashing the edit until we get it right. As National Geographic photographer Sam Abell told us: “the book of assembly is the rare book, and the most delight for readers. It’s also more challenging for the creator—a project that requires significantly more thought, more effort. Assembling a book is a thoughtful, deliberate process—often undervalued and hastily done by most book publishers.” As we make these tough calls, we’re trying to take those words to heart.

Summertime photo shoot in Nunavut

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Little critters on Herschel Island

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

[by Fritz] If you ever have the opportunity to visit Herschel Island off the Yukon’s north coastline, jump at the chance. The first time I went there I was a 21-year-old university student and I spent a month in a tent all over the island assisting Swedish researcher Anders Angerbjörn on his study of Arctic foxes. I’ve been back several times since, most recently with my friend and colleague Don Reid, a researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society, who is involved in a study of Arctic food webs and how a changing climate is affecting wildlife populations. Lemmings and voles are key prey for a number of predators on Herschel, and their abundance affects the population dynamics of many wildlife species. I photographed this collared lemming in the tundra meadows of Herschel nibbling on one of its favourite foods, Dryas flowers. They’re important to the food web, and they’re also really cute. Contrary to the myths fabricated by Disney, lemmings don’t commit mass suicide or jump over cliffs. The shorebird is a semi-palmated plover nesting and feeding on the beaches on Herschel.

Mother Caribou

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

[by Teresa]  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about mothering and maternal instincts and motherhood. I’m going to lose my Mum to cancer, and walking this difficult path with her has brought on waves of introspection about what it is to be a mother. Having my own kids offers some lessons, but when you’re immersed in something you don’t always see things clearly. Plus, mothering is an incredibly tough job and, since my kids aren’t even in school yet, I figure I’m still on probation. Also, I’ve always known I’ll never be half the mother that mine has been to me.

I’ve also looked to nature for lessons in parenting. At this time of year I’m always reminded of incredible mothers I’ve witnessed during birthing season in the North. Feigning injury and putting themselves in harm’s way, nesting birds flutter about in front of predators to lure them away. Grizzly sows dedicate two all-consuming years to nurse, protect and rear their young. Tens of thousands of caribou cows cross half the Yukon Territory to drop their calves in a safer place. They’re all compelling, but it was the caribou mothers that made me cry.

My Mum and some insights about mothering converged on a knoll in North Yukon during one of my richest Yukon experiences. Fritz and I were spending much of June in Ivvavik National Park trying to find the Porcupine caribou herd. One afternoon Fritz fixated on a distant ridge, so we hoisted our packs and crossed a hellish patch of tussocks that followed us for hours, and as I stumbled in the ruts and mud I cursed his route and his impulsive ideas and his heavy cameras and his cheery mug. But we got there, and the site was glorious, and the tent overlooked a greening slope dotted with caribou.

For three days we watched thousands of caribou cows and calves graze and stream across our ridge. The exhausted cows had patchy fur and skeletal frames, while their calves were the picture of good health. The mothers grazed constantly, interrupted only by calves that nursed the nutrients out of them. Heavily pregnant, they’d migrated thousands of kilometres, swam icy rivers and dodged predators to reach their calving grounds, and they were already preparing to return south trailing young. In the caribou migration I found searing lessons about birth and death, survival, and the fragility and fortitude of nature. I pondered their capacity to endure horrendous conditions. I was awed by the instinctive, selfless acts of these mothers.

We carried a satellite phone with us for safety, but one evening, under the intense glare of the June sun and in the company of thousands of caribou, we dug it out for a couple of personal calls. We phoned our parents, who’d unconditionally loved and supported us through years of crazy adventures and dreams, and I stood on that remote ridge with tears streaming down my face as I described to Mum the spectacle around me. She listened intently – she knew satellite calls were precious – and in her voice I heard a mother’s empathy for these hardy caribou and their unthinkable journey. For years she would retell our conversation to others in great detail; she got a huge thrill from that call, and I felt so privileged to share my experience with her. Someday I will stand among the cows and calves with my daughters at my side, and we’ll remember my Mum – their Grandy – and all that she enabled us to be.

Anatomy of an aerial shoot over Yukon’s Mount Logan

Friday, April 1st, 2011

[by Fritz] After two years of false starts, an aerial photography project to shoot the St. Elias Icefields finally came together last summer. See the Mount Logan and St. Elias Icefields aerial portfolio here.   Below, an account of one day’s aerial shoot over Canada’s highest peak.

6:30 pm – For the first time in weeks, the weather looks promising and there’s no wildfire smoke in the air. The Internet connection from Kluane Lake Research Station is sporadic but I manage to preview a couple of weather sites and some satellite imagery. Forecasts for the St. Elias Range are coarse and the mountains create their own weather, so in the end the decision to fly is a guess. Weather has been plowing into the Yukon from the Pacific Ocean for a week, but a small window of high pressure seems to be building over the range, which is why I’ve driven out from Whitehorse again. I’ve lost track how many times I’ve come out only to be turned around by weather or smoke.

7:30 pm – I spread my gear out in the empty mess hall and start packing. I clean my lenses and sensors, charge batteries, check CF cards, arrange my pack and sort through a pile of winter clothing. And then I check everything again.

9:15 pm – I can’t find Donjek Upton (the pilot) and he doesn’t have a phone, so I walk to his house to set things up for the morning. He’s exhausted from a long day of shuttling researchers out of the range and not so keen to hear that I want to fly early tomorrow. This is probably the tenth time I’ve tried to line things up and everyone is getting a little frustrated. I’m pretty sure they think that I don’t know what I want, and to some extent they’re right. Lining up good light and reasonable flying conditions in the St. Elias is a crapshoot.

9:45 pm – I call Lloyd Freese (Parks Canada) at home in the Junction to tell him that we’re on for the morning. I’ve teamed up with Parks Canada to do this shoot. We set up a check-in routine: I will phone by 3:15 am if I’m calling it off, otherwise he’ll head out for the half-hour drive to the base at Kluane Lake.

10:30 pm – I walk over to the Wood Building to log onto the weather sites again. Things look about the same. I stand outside watching the weather. I spend awhile looking at maps and walking through the shoot again before going to bed.

3:00 am – My watch alarm goes off. Though it’s July, I put on long underwear and dress like it’s winter. I splash water on my face, trying to wake up. I check the satellite images again and I’m disappointed to see the high pressure system started to break down overnight, but there may still be a hole over Mount Logan. If we don’t go today it could be weeks before we try again. Should I cancel, or do I mobilize everyone and spend the money?  

3:30 am – Donjek is out wiring his GoPro Hero to the wing because he’s excited about alpenglow on Logan. He never has to fly this early and he doesn’t say much. The plane didn’t get refuelled last night and now the fuel pump isn’t working, but we sort it out. I’m already anxious about being late. It takes 45 minutes just to get to where I want to start shooting, and last time we arrived too late for alpenglow.

3:50 am – Donjek takes the rear door off. I’m wearing a harness and I also tie my cameras, gyros and bags to the plane. Lloyd arrives, we load into the plane, and I start spinning up my gyroscopes. Sunrise is less than an hour away.

4:05 am – We finally take off and head up the shadowy Slims. The Helio Courier labours to gain altitude all the way to Mount Logan.

4:40 am – We’ve crossed Divide and Logan looms in front of us. One of the challenges is to show that this is one of the largest landscapes in the world. Light plays all kind of tricks in the icefields, and Logan is huge with no references for scale. And there’s no sign of humans anywhere. It turns out our timing is good and the weather is perfect. Sometimes it’s really bumpy, but this morning it’s not too bad and that bodes well for sharpness.

4:55 am – Now I’m reframing and shooting pretty much continuously. The morning sun rakes across the peaks, and it’s exquisite. I line up a great composition and have Donjek circle around and then around again. Lloyd has a tougher stomach than the Parks staffer on the last flight, who was keen to be there but was airsick with all the circling.

5:30 am – The light is gorgeous this morning with layers of fog swirling around. It’s all coming together: after two years, the magic moment is here. I keep working more compositions, each time asking Donjek to circle around, banking to get the wing out of the way. Logan is so big we don’t even get a quarter of the way across before we start to run out of time. Donjek is starting to fuss about fuel. I keep ignoring him, lining up new shots. Eventually he swings away from the mountain to head home.

5:50 am – I keep shooting even though it’s clear the magic is gone. My arms and neck hurt, the rattle of the plane is wearing, and I’m feeling fried. In the end I had less than 20 minutes with Mount Logan.

6:05 am – We fly down through the Front Range. I prefer being over the snow because you have the option of landing on skis. Once we’re below the firn line I’m always reminded there’s nowhere to get down safely.

6:20 am – We land at the research base. People are just starting to stir. Now we have way too many layers on and I’m dripping with sweat. We peel clothes off and head to the mess hall for coffee.

See the Mount Logan and St. Elias Icefields aerial portfolio here.

Cold weather, warm edit

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

[by Fritz] It’s definitely easier to edit photos from a tropical trip when it’s -35° C outside. For the last few days I’ve finally gotten around to editing and processing photos from a family camping adventure to Hawaii last year. I don’t know how other photographers keep up with the processing backlog, but I find that months can go by before I get time to process my personal shoots. Here’s a portfolio of images from Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Kea and Honolulu, Oahu.  

And they’re off! The 2011 Yukon Quest start in Whitehorse

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

[by Teresa]  All of Whitehorse turns out for the start of the Yukon Quest, especially when it’s -10 and sunny like today. The girls and I visited with friends and watched the teams race by while Fritz did a bit of shooting. The highlight was a dog who broke loose at the start line and pranced around ahead of his team as they left the chute. I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking: “Should I run for it, or should I rejoin the team for the 1000 miles to Fairbanks?” It’s billed as the toughest sleddog race in the world, and these dogs are incredible athletes.

The Adventures of Boots, Goldie and Propane Bear

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

[by Teresa]  Thanksgiving is behind us and Hallowe’en is ahead, and the forecast says a snowstorm is rolling in. I’m reminded of a mid-October blizzard two years ago at the Arctic Circle where I sat at the edge of a river with my friend Phil Timpany watching drowsy grizzly bears plodding up and downstream along the base of Bear Cave Mountain.

Phil – and his partner, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation – runs what may be the most unique bear viewing operation on the continent. Grizzlies congregate here in wintry conditions to feast on a late run of chum salmon before hibernation. Within an hour of arriving by helicopter at North Yukon’s Ni’iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park, I was seated in the snow on the bank of the Fishing Branch River a few yards from a sow named Boots trailing young-of-the-year triplets. Soon after, Mrs. Tucker presented her one-year-old twins, and Goldie brought around her cocky two-year-old, a stinky teenager that would test our – and his mother’s – boundaries on several occasions. It takes a lot to stun me speechless, but that afternoon I had few words to voice how it felt to be in the company of bears.

Fritz spent a month shooting at Bear Cave Mountain the previous year, so I knew that a confined, quiet routine awaited me: walk to a viewing site, watch bears, return to the cabins for meals and sleep. Imagine my surprise to be awakened at 1am on my very first night by terrific banging and shuffling around my tiny cabin. The building trembled and I sensed that a bear – surely that’s what it was? – had leaned against the wall I was curled next to. The ruckus continued for an hour, and I cursed the last cup of tea I drank before bed. Making a midnight dash to the outhouse clearly wasn’t an option so a spare bottle provided relief.

Turns out a mystery bear paid a visit to camp that night. It was the first time in years one came onto the deck, and this rogue fellow did a bit of redecorating. The clatter was an empty propane tank that he pried loose and batted about like a bowling pin, and we found a few other items scattered among the trees. But Propane Bear never came back. I was thrilled when we were weathered in longer than what was supposed to be a very short stay. When the snow starts to fly, I think about this unruly young grizz playing on the deck as winter took hold. Season’s short and sometimes a young fella just needs to blow off a little steam before hibernation, right?

Read our story about Ni’iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park and Bear Cave Mountain in Up Here magazine.

Snake-bitten

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Update June 4, 2011: This time last year I was preparing to go down the Yukon’s Snake River with writer Leslie Anthony to shoot a story for Canadian Geographic. Our story on how the clash between conservation and exploitation is playing out in the Peel watershed is featured in this month’s (June 2011) issue of the magazine.

[by Fritz]  September 27th, 2010: This summer I returned to the Yukon’s Snake River to work on a new story. Last time I was in the Snake it was a very different trip. Seven years ago Teresa and I joined our friends Peter Mather, Marc Champagne and Christine Cleghorn in the upper Snake for ten days of hiking at the beginning of their month-long canoe trip. We’d hike off each morning and they’d paddle a short way downriver to the next camp, and we’d meet up in the early afternoon – all very mellow. They carried our food and unnecessary gear in their canoes to lighten our packs, and they cooked incredible meals that we hikers weren’t used to eating in the backcountry. We loved canoe-supported hiking.

We camped for four days at Reptile Creek at the foot of Painted Mountain. I knew there was a gorgeous photo of the valley from somewhere on that mountain. Each day we’d scramble to a ridge halfway up to wait for magic light. It took three days and lots of trips and waiting, but eventually we got the shot I had envisioned (we made a Peel Watershed poster featuring the Yukon’s Snake River). Late June light is intense, and the bright green leaves on the dwarf birch had just burst open. I shot many beautiful scenes while we were camped at Reptile Creek including the cover of our 2010 calendar.

On this year’s trip, in contrast, I spent many sleepless nights in the tent stressing about the next day’s rapids and wondering what would happen if my Pelican case got crushed against a rock. I’m not a skilled canoeist, and I found it hard not to get anxious thinking about $50,000 worth of gear getting wet. The pace was fast and we stayed just one night at each camp before pushing on, so it was a lot more rushed than I like for landscape photography. Writer Lesley Anthony was in the stern, and he’s a very competent paddler (he was a canoe instructor years ago in Ontario), and we were under the capable guidance of wilderness outfitters Blaine and Mary Walden. Everything went very smoothly and my capsizing fears never materialized. Without question the photography highlight of our trip was the 2-day layover at Mount MacDonald – it’s an extraordinary place.

Linnea borealis froggilus

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

[by Teresa] Yesterday the girls and I found a wood frog in our front yard. It’s likely this fellow came from a pond teeming with frogs ten minutes down the trail from our house; in the spring we can hear the din from home. Not exactly a remarkable discovery until you think about where we live.

The Yukon isn’t the most hospitable place for amphibians; the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) is one of just a handful of amphibians that can survive our northern winters. This handsome little frog is the northernmost amphibian in North America, and it doesn’t just survive—it thrives in many ponds in the Yukon. Their story of adaptation is incredible; in winter their cells fill with glucose which acts like antifreeze, helping the wood frog survive as its body temperature drops well below freezing.

Watching the frog with the girls reminded me of a special photograph Fritz took at the pond four years ago this summer. In July 2006 I was hugely pregnant and barely getting off the sofa, and with just a couple of weeks to go I was keeping Fritz on a pretty short leash. He’d gone on a few quick trips in June, but by July I wanted him shooting well within cell phone range, and in Whitehorse that means not leaving city limits. No day trips to White Pass, no afternoons in a blind at Kluane. He found stuff to do and things to shoot, but it was frustrating to be stuck so close to home at the height of the northern summer.

One morning he headed to the pond and found loads of frogs and wildflowers—the twinflower (linnea borealis) was in bloom. We spoke a couple of times through the day; I’d had faint contractions and set up a doctor appointment for the next morning. Fritz was home by dinnertime, and that evening he showed me some of his day’s work. One series stopped me short: a pair of frogs flanking a twinflower.

Given that we were expecting twins—and I had basically started going into labour that day—I was struck by the symbolism of the shot. But Fritz had been so absorbed with shooting, the significance didn’t dawn on him till I pointed it out. That night he sent this photo out with a mock baby announcement to our families declaring our “hoppy” arrivals.

Kluane’s Surging Glacier

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

[by Fritz] A couple of weeks ago I joined a team from Parks Canada and Yukon Geological Survey going to Lowell Glacier in Kluane National Park. The Lowell is a stunningly photogenic glacier that spills into the Alsek River, and it’s currently surging. Normally glaciers move at a “glacial pace,” but occasionally some glaciers surge. Scientists are following its movements using time lapse cameras and webcams, and they were installing a monitoring station. Apparently the Lowell has advanced 1.5 km since last October. If a glacier can gallop, this one certainly is.

Teresa and I first visited the Lowell in 2001. It was gorgeous, and we stayed a few extra days. One day we got a surprise from the other side of the world. At the time we attributed the pink glow in the sky to forest fires but we found out later that global wind currents had carried clouds of dust to northern Canada from a desert storm in Mongolia. The Lowell was bathed in desert dust—a photographer’s dream. Mountain Goats and Glaciers won the Landscape category in the Banff Mountain Photography Competition in 2003. We also made a poster of Kluane National Park featuring this photograph.