Castle Junction (Banff National Park)

A little over halfway to Lake Louise from the town of Banff in Banff National Park lies Castle Junction. The junction is nestled at the base of Castle Mountain and the bridge connects the scenic highway (Highway 1A) with the main highway. This is one of my favorite spots in Banff to take pictures (thus the number of photos on my website with this picturesque mountain) because it is fenced off and thus most tourists won’t venture down there so I have the place to myself. What most people don’t realize is that the fence isn’t for humans but rather it is to keep the animals off of the road (they can cross at the river under the bridge or at one of the many crossing bridges that they’ve built) so as long as you shut the heavy gate behind you there is no issue with you hiking down along the river.

Castle Junction (Banff National Park)

Castle Mountain Reflection Banff National Park

I expected more color in the sky at sunset – and all around me there was – but the view over top of the mountain was pretty mundane. Still I was able to crouch low and with the wide angle lens get a nice reflection of the mountain in a relatively stationary pool of water outside of the river. This is one of my constants when I’m in Banff – I love the views that the hike along this river provides. If you can’t make pictures here that make people go ‘wow’ you may need a new hobby.

Sunset over Alaskan Peaks (Alaska)

The trip we recently took to Alaska with my entire family was one of the best moments of my life. The memories we created during the ten-days spent in Seattle and on board the cruise ship are absolutely amazing and the trip was perfectly timed. Our family has suffered a loss recently but we will continue to carry on – hard as it may be – and for those that remain we are left with the memories created on that trip. Emotions are all mixed up at the moment, of course and they will be for sometime I’m sure, but one thing that rings truer now than it ever has in my life is that TIME is the most valuable commodity in this world. We will never have a second chance to make memories with the ones that matter most to us – life gets busy and we forget this sometimes but it is imperative to remember what is important and make sure to take the time to cultivate those aspects in your life.

Sunset over Alaskan Peaks – Alaska

Sunset over Peaks in Alaska

Just Breathe – Pearl Jam

Just Breathe

Yes, I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they’ve got none

Stay with me…
Let’s just breathe…

Practiced all my sins, never gonna let me win, uh-huh
Under everything, just another human being, uh-huh
I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world to make me bleed

Stay with me
You’re all I see…

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me

As I come clean…
I wonder everyday, as I look upon your face, uh-huh
Everything you gave
And nothing you would save, oh no

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave…

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
And I come clean, ah…

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me til I die
Meet you on the other side…

Serenity in Yoho National Park

I’m not trying to be overly religious here on this blog – those who know me know that I’m spiritual but not really religious. However, during challenging times when the situation arises I do find myself taking comfort in spiritual words that apply no matter what (if any) deity you believe in. Today I turn to the Serenity Prayer to give me strength as I deal with issues that are beyond my control.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Serenity in Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park

The Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park are the third highest waterfall in Canada standing at nearly 1,300 feet. The word ‘Takakkaw’ translates to ‘it is magnificent’ in the local Indian Cree language and it certainly is while you are there witnessing and listening to the sounds of the falls. It is a place I discovered on my last trip to Banff and I’ll certainly go back when given the opportunity to find serenity.

Detroit Skyline (Windsor, Ontario)

Just over the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario lies Sculpture Park which is a great place to park the car and get out for some pictures of the Detroit skyline. The Detroit skyline prominently features some very unique architecture and buildings designed by some historically significant architects. The highlights to the skyline are the Fisher Building, One Detroit Center and the Renaissance Center. It’s funny how growing up here and going to Windsor many times I never appreciated the beauty of the skyline from this spot as I do now. Detroit has been through it’s struggles but it is starting to revive itself and hopefully will one day be a model for other beleaguered economies for how to pick yourself up, dust yourself up and rise again.

Detroit Skyline from the bank of the Detroit River (Windsor, Ontario)

The city of Detroit at Night

The Rolling Hills of Tuscany (Florence, Italy)

While in Florence, Italy my wife and I took a day trip into the rolling hillside of Tuscany. Our trip involved a fairly long and strenuous bike trip that we were not prepared for. We knew we were going to be riding bikes of course – and riding from winery to winery sampling their wines sounded like a fun time. However, the riding was much more strenuous than we thought and our dress (khaki pants, oxford shirt and dress shoes – appropriate for wine tasting) was pretty off the mark for the days activities. The day’s ride started out fine with a lot of downhill from the first winery to the next one but by the end of lunch (spaghetti and MORE wine) they told us we needed to go back up the hill. They had a van following us with trailer hitches for the bikes so I thought they’d keep the ride pretty leisurely but the second half was rough – complicated by the large quantity of wine I’d already drank by that point and the heavy lunch of pasta and garlic bread.

The Rolling Hills of Tuscany outside of Florence, Italy

From the top of one of the wineries I shot this picture – the day was mostly overcast and a little bit hazy – but I tried to make the best of the picture by minimizing the amount of sky shown at the top and focusing more on the lush green of the hillside and the houses isolated in the distance. A beautiful view and one I hope to have again in the future because when we go back to Italy we will definitely spend more time in Tuscana.

Hi-Spy Viewing of the LA Skyline

Griffith Observatory sits on Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ prestigious Griffith Park and offers tremendous views of the surrounding Los Angeles area. I typically head to the ocean when in Los Angeles but this time around I decided to head out to the observatory to take in the views and I was treated to a really spectacular sunset over the city (a few more clouds would have been nice but can’t complain). Before the sun dipped below the mountains though I took a few shots of the Hi-Spy viewer with the LA skyline slightly out of focus in the backdrop. Using Google’s Nik Software (Analog Efex Pro) I processed it to look a little more vintage.

Hi-Spy Viewing of the Los Angeles Skyline

Hi-Spy Viewing of the Los Angeles Skyline

Morning in Rocky Mountain National Park

After photographing Lake Helene at Sunrise I headed back to find the trail that I somehow lost in the morning. Hiking through a number of trees and overgrown bush – trying to make some noise in case the moose and her babies that are known to frequent this area were nearby – I stumbled onto this scene which was magical with the sunlight poking through the trees creating a ‘sunstar’. There was a light rain the night before and so the grass was still wet – as the sun hit the top blades of grass a glow was created that came through nicely in the photo.

Morning in Rocky Mountain National Park

Morning in Rocky Mountain National Park

In order to capture a ‘sunstar’ in your image it is imperative to set a narrow aperture on your lens – if you click the link above there is more detail around the specifics – but essentially think of the narrow aperture as if you are squinting your eyes. The more you squint the bigger the ‘sunstar’ effect will become and that is true in photography as well. The larger your aperture value (i.e. smaller opening, less light getting through, etc…) the better the sunstar. The sunstar here was shot at f/22.