RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Canadian Rockies – Day Five – Banff and the Bow River

canadian rockies

Overnight there was just enough rain to clear the skies a little. Still a lot of smoke but we could see some details. Why couldn’t this have happened the day before? Well, we had to be grateful for this gift at least.

canadian rockies
In the morning we drove along the shores of Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. Click image below for slideshow:

 

Next we visited Cascade Gardens near the grounds of the Banff Park Administration Building. Click image below for slideshow:

The big event of the day was a raft trip floating along the Bow River. I didn’t position myself very well as I was seated directly opposite my friends so I had to dodge around their heads to get a clear shot. In the raft you can’t move around too much without everybody going overboard! And my camera is not waterproof…

Our guide on the river, like all the guides we encountered on the trip, was very knowledgeable and personable. I believe this young man was from New Zealand. As a member of the British Commonwealth, apparently you can spend two years in each Commonwealth Country (including New Zealand, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and of course, the UK) on a work Visa so most of the guides we encountered were from those countries. Wish I had known that when I was younger!

Click image below for slideshow:

 

At the beginning of the float trip I accidentally changed the picture style to black and white and didn’t realize this until we disembarked. I was ready to jump into the cold waters I was so mad at myself. But when we got back into town we found a camera store and the young man showed me how to change it back to color. I’ve never seen this B&W setting before! I was mortified. Luckily I always shoot in RAW and JPEG and he assured me the setting didn’t affect the RAW files… saved! Well, I learned something…

canadian rockies

We ate lunch at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. You can see it in the slideshow above.

And this is what the town of Banff looks like when the smoke clears. Not too shabby!

candadian rockies

 

 

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Canadian Rockies – Day Three – Going-to-the-Sun Road

going to the sun highway

Day three of our trip to the smoke-filled Canadian Rockies our motor coach took us to St. Mary Lodge and Resort on the US side of the border. We boarded Red Jammers, restored vintage touring coaches from the 1930s. We traveled on Going-to-the-Sun Road which is closed during the winter because of snow. But this year it was closed half way along because of fires. So our journey ended at Logan Pass Visitor Center in Montana.

At Logan Pass Visitor Center we had time to roam around. I always enjoy an opportunity to get out and stretch my legs. We were close enough to the mountains that it was possible to see some details.

Then back on the Red Jammers. Originally built for sightseeing in the US National Park System, these 25-foot long touring coaches with individual doors for each row, were restored in 2000 by the Ford Motor Company and are the only remaining buses of their kind in operation today. Just touring in the coaches was fun in itself.

We returned to our hotel in Waterton, Alberta, a very sweet little tourist town that I could see visiting again. We decided to eat at the same restaurant with a river view where we had enjoyed dinner the night before, Bayshore Lakeside Chophouse, attached to the hotel.


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Canadian Rockies, Day Two

Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel

What happened to Day One? Well, that was getting there. My alarm went off at 2:00am. I called for my taxi at 4:21am and arrived at LAX ready for the 7;25am flight. We landed in Calgary around 1:20pm after a change of planes in Salt Lake City. That evening my three friends and I met our tour guide and the other 40 people on the Caravan tour.

 

Waterton Lakes National ParkIn the morning we left Calgary for Waterton Lakes National Park. The trip there was well, let’s just say it was hazy!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Looking down at the town of Waterton

Thank goodness for photographing in RAW format and photo processing in Lightroom with the “dehaze” function and some other tweaking!

Waterton Lakes National Park

This is what the scene above actually looked like!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Another view of the Prince of Wales Hotel

I was told there were approximately 500 wildfires raging across Canada.

Waterton Lakes National ParkThe smoke was so thick I heard it was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Flower bouquets at our hotel

 

Once settled in our hotel, we embarked on a cruise of Waterton Lake.Waterton Lakes National Park
The world’s first International Peace Park, formed in 1932 by combining Waterton Lakes Park in Canada with Glacier Park in Montana. These two parks form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a celebration of friendship between Canada and the US. Let’s hope!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton  Waterton Lakes National Park

Even though it was very hazy I made the decision I was going to keep snapping away and hope I could bring out some of the details in Lightroom when I got home. That turned out to be a great decision.

Waterton Lakes National Park

The cruise was very peaceful and just what I needed after the frenzied day before running for flight connections and getting to the hotel in Calgary. And previously that day we had a long, very boring bus trip from Calgary to Waterton. Compared to all that, this was truly blissful.

Click on an image below for images of the lake cruise

You’re not seeing double, I just wanted to show this image again to point out this photo of the line cut to demark the border of the US and Canada.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

I liked this photo showing the “Thumbs Up” Canadian flag!

Waterton Lakes National Park

I always love reflections on the water.

Waterton Lakes National Park

We arrived at our destination on the Montana side of the lake. We were able to stretch our legs for a while. Click on an image below.

Then back on the boat to Canada!

We enjoyed a delicious dinner with a beautiful view. Then back to our hotel room.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Our patio furniture

Lovely view of lake from our room

View of the lake from our room. We sat outside for a while in the evening, sucking it all in.

And last, the three lovely ladies who made my trip so enjoyable!


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Feline Friday – #94 – farewell to P-55

frankie

Frankie is contemplating his next big project. Perhaps photographing elephants in Africa or bears in Alaska… or hummingbirds on the balcony? A nap always helps to rejuvenate the creative juices!

p-55 mountain lion

National Park Service

And in news from the Santa Monica Mountains, mountain lion P-55 sadly passed away recently at three years old. His claim to fame was crossing the 101 freeway at least twice. The cause of death can’t be determined because he was too badly decomposed by the time he was found.

Read the full article here.


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Feline Friday – #89 – take your cat hiking

Friday at Bryce

I’m tired of dog owners boasting that one of the benefits of a canine companion over a cat is that you can take the dog hiking. So I am advocating: take your cat hiking!

Several years ago I was on a hiking trip to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, USA. This is the image I created for my Christmas card that year.

The feline is my late, great cat Friday who passed away in 2013. You will note the sign requiring hiking boots, therefore he is wearing them. Also the sign specifies no dogs. Doesn’t say anything about cats!

 


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A gift membership to the Huntington Library

The Huntington

A friend very kindly gave me a membership to The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, approximately 20 miles (32km) northeast of Culver City and 13 miles (21km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. So as it was such a glorious day on Wednesday in the 70s (21+C) and sunny, I decided to make the trip.

My first stop to take a photo was at a fountain in the California Garden area. Two little girls were playing with the water. One was wearing a bright pink dress and the other was in blue. The reflection of these dresses in the water gave me the colors at the right hand side of the image. I’m sure the mother thought I was trying to capture pictures of her kids so I did my best to make it obvious I was only interested in the fountain. I took several shots but the one I liked the best was out of focus so I decided to play with it in Photoshop and make an abstract image out of it!

The Huntington

The Huntington

Now I have a membership I didn’t feel the need to rush around to every part of the gardens or visit the galleries as I can come back whenever I feel like it! So I just walked around looking for flowers and plants and scenes that struck my fancy.

The Huntington

I set my camera on Aperture Preferred (AV on my Canon) which is now my preferred setting! For a long time I set it to Program as the default and changed the aperture and shutter speed as necessary. But now I believe AV is better.



The Huntington
I know there are “purists” who scoff at anything other than strictly Manual. Good for them! I talked to one professional landscape/street  photographer who told me his dirty secret that 95% of the time he stayed in Program and let the camera do the work. It’s like painting. Anybody can take a brush and make a mess on a canvas. But it takes an artist to make something beautiful.

Walking towards the Desert Garden



The Huntington

Whether you are using a paintbrush or a camera, you still have to have an “eye.” I have a friend who owns all kinds of camera equipment but has no sense of composition. that’s the most important element.



The Huntington
So it doesn’t matter if you are shooting in Manual or Program or Aperture Preferred or with a point & shoot camera or a smart phone. If you capture a good picture, that’s the only thing that matters.



The Huntington
For me, walking around with a camera forces me to see things I probably wouldn’t notice otherwise. Today I was on my own. But I also enjoy going out with a friend because they might spot something I missed and vice versa.



The Huntington
The other issue that comes up is post processing. I happen to enjoy working in Lightroom and Photoshop. You can’t start out with a crappy photo and make it into a masterpiece on the computer. Ain’t gonna happen. But you start out with a well-composed, in focus, reasonably well-lit image and there is a chance you can make that into a masterpiece! I shoot in RAW so all my images have to go through Lightroom (or Camera RAW) anyway.



The Huntington
My favorite part of the grounds is the Desert Garden so I pretty much concentrated on that area. Next time I may avoid it completely! I was attempting to get some closeups and some general views. My favorite lens is my 18-135 zoom. It’s a kit lens and if I ever want to upgrade I am out of luck as there apparently is no stand alone lens in those lengths. But I’ll worry about that when I get there.



The Huntington

I’m hoping I can choose a couple of these to upload to Fine Art America where I have my portfolio. This one above might be a candidate.



The Huntington

The Desert Garden includes more than 5,000 species of desert plants in sixty landscaped beds. I don’t want to be the one to count them.



The Huntington

The weather was unbelievably pleasant. Cool and sunny is my favorite. I remember one visit to the Desert Garden when it had to be 100  degrees F (38C) and I couldn’t get enough water inside me. I’m sure all the cacti and succulents were having a great day!

The Huntington

I’ve never seen so many lizards cross my path. They must have liked the weather too and decided to come out for a stroll. One after the other they were darting out in front of me. No fear of humans.



The Huntington

I took almost 250 pictures this day! Lucky for you I won’t show all of them! But there are 42 in this post.


The Huntington

Unbelievable that it is necessary to post a sign reminding visitors not to carve their names or initials on the bamboo. Aaaargh…. people!

Click on an image below to see slide show of the rest of the photos, if you even made it this far!

See one of my previous posts about The Huntington here.


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Yosemite – part four – my dream come true… SNOW!

yosemite

Sunday night the dark clouds rolled in and made for some dramatic skies.

 

yosemite

Monday morning I opened the drapes and voila… SNOW. Well, not exactly.

yosemiteDuring the night we thought we heard heavy rain beating down. Turned out it was hail.

Yosemite

Walking over to breakfast it was a tad slippery!

yosemite

But it was great to see white stuff on the mountains.

Yosemite

And eventually snow began to fall. This is what I’d been waiting for.

Yosemite

I was actually glad Mother Nature had waited until the last day to present us with snow. I don’t think I would have enjoyed hiking in the snow. I’ve hiked in the snow many times in the past (although not at Yosemite) and now I’m more concerned about slipping and falling.

Yosemite

But it was certainly wonderful to see it dusting the trees and mountains.

Yosemite

I loved the contrast of the greens and browns of the trees against the whites and blues.

Yosemite

Yosemite

Seeing the Yosemite Falls with snow and ice was pretty spectacular.

Yosemite

Yosemite

Yes, we are still in California! This Chevy provided the perfect contrast of colors.

Yosemite

So at last my vision of snow in Yosemite was realized… dreams do come true! Yosemite is splendid under any circumstances. But with snow it is extra special.

Yosemite

I do hope to visit Yosemite again at some point in the future. But now I don’t have to be disappointed if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

 

 

 


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Yosemite – part three – a walk to the Majestic

yosemite

Upper Yosemite Falls

On Sunday S and I decided to walk the two miles from Yosemite Valley Lodge over to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly known as the Ahwahnee Hotel).

yosemite 
It was another chilly sunny morning and I was beginning to doubt I would ever experience snow at Yosemite in my lifetime!

yosemite

Although we enjoyed the group hike the day before, we were equally happy to have time on our own, going at our own speed and stopping to take photos.

yosemite

A lot of the trees looked pretty brown and dried up. I wasn’t sure if that was the drought or the time of year.

yosemite
The bare tree branches allowed for some dramatic scenes.

yosemite

A rather ominous sign. Does that mean the rest of the park is full of guns?

yosemite

Like Mona Lisa’s eyes, Yosemite Falls followed us along our route.

yosemite
Our plan was to eat lunch at the hotel bar then take a docent tour of the Majestic Hotel.

yosemite

Two of the light fixtures in the bar, one with bears, the other with pine trees.

yosemite

After lunch we had a wait for the docent tour so I hunkered down for a nap in a very comfy chair in the Writing Room next to a window  with a lovely view.

yosemite

View of the hotel built right up against the mountain.

yosemite yosemiteOur tour guide was very lively and passionate about his subject. He told us he had been climbing El Capitan and Half Dome since he was about four years old with his parents.

yosemite

Although our accommodations at the lodge were very comfortable I wouldn’t mind staying at the Majestic (Ahwahnee) on my next visit! This last photo shows what the original decoration of the walls and ceilings looked like. You can see the areas that have been uncovered under the yellow and brown paint. At one point it was thought to be too busy so it was painted over.

Yosemite


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Yosemite – part two – a hike and the Golden Hour

yosemite

Saturday was our first full day at Yosemite National Park. One of our leaders was on crutches and announced she was leading a saunter so S and I decided that was our kind of hike! I walked outside our room in the morning to get the photo above. It was COLD out there!

yosemite

This was the view from our patio. Somebody said this was Cathedral Rocks so I’m going with that!

yosemite

Photographers blocking our view!

We set out on our “saunter” along the Merced River. There was no snow but it was CHILLY! My gloved hands were totally numb and I had difficulty clicking the shutter on my camera.

yosemite

The top of the Yosemite Falls. One of the magnificent features of the park is all the waterfalls.

Half Dome peeking up in the center.

yosemite I honestly didn’t think I had any good photos from this trip. But when I got home and looked at them in Lightroom I realized I had a few. I think there might even be two or three that I can work on to upload to Fine Art America.

yosemite
I enjoy framing a similar view in a different way.

The light coming through the trees was magical and mystical.

yosemite
In the afternoon we visited the Ansel Adams Gallery. What could be finer than viewing masterful photographs by the man himself in the location he shot them in? Ah, life doesn’t get much better!

yosemite

Bridal Falls… think you can figure out where the name came from!

I came back to our room and sat outside in the patio with a little vodka cocktail (well, maybe not so little…). You can see our chairs and table and the beautiful view through our picture window. My friend said when she got back to LA her body had returned but her soul was still in Yosemite. Agreed!

yosemiteIt is so important to spend time in nature and to get out of your usual routine so your brain can fly.

yosemite

yosemite
As evening set in we were fortunate to catch the Golden Hour. The next evening the clouds rolled in and there was no Golden Hour…

yosemite
All day long and all evening long we were fascinated with the plane entrails passing overhead.

So you’ve seen day one and day two. Two more days coming up!


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Yosemite – part one – just a taste

yosemite

yosemite

It’s been three years since I visited Yosemite National Park. Last time the temperature was in the mid 70s and everybody was in shorts and tank tops in February. So this time I wanted to see some snow. But the probability wasn’t very high.

yosemite

But I decided I would have a good time regardless. Yosemite contains so much magnificent scenery it’s hard to look in any direction without being overwhelmed.

yosemite

This was another Sierra Club trip sponsored by the West LA Group. We left West Los Angeles around 6:40 Friday morning.

yosemite

My friend SB came along as my roommate. These shots are all as we arrived in the park late afternoon. Yosemite is about 280 miles (450km) from West LA. We made a few pit stops and a picnic stop on the way. It was a gorgeous California day. yosemite

There’s nothing like being on the road in the comfort of a motor coach. I used to love to drive around California in my own car, but no more. I prefer to leave the driving to the professionals!yosemite

 

I’ll be posting more photos later. We had four beautiful days, and yes, including SNOW!