converse shoes against leaves

birch discs being cut

composting leaves in black bags

shovel against the mud

the lemonhive birch wood pile

Winter is right around the corner. I am starting to feel the cold and the other day, The Canadian woke me up when he was scraping ice off the car. Ok, so the noise woke me up, but feeling sad that his day had started so badly kept me awake. We’ve recently had some trees chopped down in the back garden. Just in time too, as they were pretty unstable and last week saw some vicious winds that blew over our fence (!), I’d hate to have seen what it would have done to the weak trees had they still been standing.

We have a whole pile of leaves that we’ve been bagging up for composting. Apparently black bags allow leaves to compost slowly, not sure how true this is but since we have a 6′ pile of leaves in the back garden, I’m willing to give it a go.

The Canadian kindly made discs of birch for me to practice painting on, but in the meantime, I have to figure out how to cure them properly. I found a microwave method but I’m a bit wary about putting wood in the oven let alone the microwave! Does anyone have any tips? I do not have a wood kiln and do not fancy waiting up to 18 months for them to get a 12% water/air balance. They’re about 1-2cm depth by 6cm x 8cm. So far, I’ve popped them into brown paper bags and left them in a warm place, apparently this will help.

Even if I don’t get any answers, I really enjoyed myself doing things in the garden. It’s a big deal for me to put myself at risk of spider contact. All you arachnophobes will know what I’m sayin!

I won the CAF third place price for environmental photography!

I don’t often submit my work into competitions.

Firstly, I am super scared of rejection (isn’t everyone?). Secondly, I don’t often think that anything I do is good enough to compete, so I don’t bother and third, it feels a bit boastful.

All of these things are issues that I need to work on.

When I came across the CAF  Photography Contest I was really skeptical.  I didn’t want to enter but The Canadian and a good friend in Kingston (Ontario) encouraged me. I decided to do it and challenge my first reservation. I didn’t mind if I didn’t win, in fact, it would provide me with the opportunity to learn. There were so many people competing that I truly believed that I didn’t stand a chance. I love my own images, they’re so exciting to me, that it didn’t matter if anyone else felt the same way. So, I entered, reluctantly, two hours before the deadline.

I struggled to think of titles for all of my images, except this one.

picture of a red barn in a yellow field against a gloomy dull sky

As soon as I finished editing this one, I realised it summed up my feelings about our last posting in Alberta. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the people I met and the memories I made there, but Alberta was isolating for me. It was also the place I experienced culture shock and the whole ‘fish out of water’ thing. It wasn’t ‘our’ posting, it was The Canadian’s and I felt trapped. In the end, I settled on the title “An Isolated Posting”. It just seemed to fit.

I’m glad that the emotion in this image was conveyed clearly and that someone felt it worthy enough to win third place. I cannot even express how happy I am about that alone, nor how inspired it has made me feel to continue practicing. Over the summer, my confidence with photo taking was knocked pretty hard, so this was a much needed pick me up.

Here are some of the others that I submitted:

A Cold Day on a Windy Beach

Bokeh Lights and traffic on a wet night

I took a lot away from entering this competition. I had to backtrack through my archives and figure out which photographs I would submit. While I was doing this, I rearranged my photographs and images (it was long overdue!). I also watched my progress with photography and my growth and knowledge with not only my camera but with photography concepts as well. All of a sudden I seemed to understand white balance, composition and the power of black and white images. I also noticed how my post-production techniques improved gradually over time as well.

Cat in a Box

It was a rewarding experience to sift through my images and re-examine my photographs. It made me feel proud and it inspired me to keep trying. That alone boosted my confidence after my little set back.

I have always liked my own images. And that’s the point. I don’t think I would continue to take photographs if I felt I was completely rubbish, nor would I continue if I felt that I didn’t have anything more to learn. My pleasure of the recognition doesn’t come from winning third place, nor does it come from being perceived as better (or worse – I guess) than anyone else. My pleasure comes from the fact that someone, somewhere thought one of my images was ok. That someone who wasn’t related, married or friendly to me and who had nothing to lose by saying otherwise thought that something I created was alright. And, that makes me feel positive. It makes me think that maybe my self-taught skills are on the right track, that maybe I’m able to connect with people through the images I create and that maybe someday I’ll be able to enter competitions as more than a ‘novice’. It inspires me to continue because it just confirms that I took the right path in March 2012.

 

Cat stares into camera with intrigue

Lake Louise Alberta Slow melt

Personally, my favourite is the bottom landscape image, which is yours? Have you ever entered a photography competition? What markers indicate your progression toward hobbies and goals?

Successfully documenting a road trip doesn’t have to be hard work. With some planning and a little exploring you can really have fun with it. Taking photos on a long car journey can be your first step toward creating an art journal, collecting your own textures for editing, developing travel journals + photo albums and tracking experiences. It’s so much fun to be able to review details of adventures long after the memories begin to fade.

I loved travelling across Canada. It’s the biggest car adventure I’ve undertaken and I enjoyed myself so much. I’m so happy that I decided to photograph the entire trip. The Canadian and I rarely go on holiday, so when we were posted from Edmonton to Ottawa, we decided that it was going to be fun. We’d been told by many people that the drive could be completed in 3 straight days of driving but, for us, that wouldn’t have been as safe, beneficial or as enjoyable as the time we took to smell the roses, photograph and explore areas of the country we’d never have the opportunity to see again.

Undoubtedly, the greatest part of the trip was spending time with my Canadian but, I’m not going to lie, seeing Canada and improving my photography skills were definitely up there on my list of enjoyment. 3,000+ km later and I had learnt a lot about finding great photo opportunities and improving my way of documenting our travels while road tripping it.

Here are my top tips:

1. Plan your trip

Planning your road tip, breaks and the time you have each day to take photographs can really help bring things together. If you know that you will be stopping in Town X for lunch and that you have an hour, you could plan to see the towns tourist attraction, have a picnic by a remote lake or visit a small market. Planning your photo breaks saves time and makes the experience enjoyable.

2. Wander

 Leave the highway. Study the map before you travel and look for unusual place names. Some of the best experiences and photo opportunities can be found in those remote places.

3. Document Enjoyment

Take photos of the things you enjoy, capture images that sum up your mood or the mood of the journey on that day. Don’t take photos for the sake of taking photos.

4. Practice your Photo Techniques

I took a camera manual with me. I know how to pick ’em, huh? When The Canadian drove, I read my book and learnt new techniques, compositions or settings that I would try out. Learning how to manipulate shutter speed, adjust composition and learn more about my camera was fun.

5. Use the Car

Take photos in the car, use the rear view mirror, the side mirror and the driver. There are so many options, but remember to be safe. Don’t distract the driver!

6. Be Real

Remember to document the things that make the trip real. Document the mess of travelling, the hotel rooms, the food. Your road trip is yours. It adds up and documenting all of it, including the little things makes a big difference.

7. Road Signs

Road signs make great photo opportunities on long journeys. The road trip was really long and we went through many towns. If for no other reasons, taking pictures of road signs can help divide your images into location points. This is particularly useful on a long road trip when you have no option of downloading your images to a computer.

8. Take Landscape Photos

Learn to take landscape photographs, especially of scenery that you love. They make great backdrops for written text in journals and blogs.

9. Review!

Review your photos often. Better yet, upload your photos to your computer, cloud or wherever you decide to store them and do it every evening. If you can’t upload then at least review your images in the camera. On our road trip I found so many photo opportunities that I had over 1k images by the time we reached Ontario! Far too many. It took an hour to go through and delete blurry, duplicate and imperfect images. If I’d have done this every evening it would have made my life easier.

10. Write

Take a notebook with you and write. It might not seem like a big deal but road trips are a great way to make big plans and goals. Conversations on long journeys are great and the experiences you have are rich. Don’t miss out on documenting those experiences. Having text to go with your photographs can really help bring a journal together.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy the moment. Photographs are great but if you don’t enjoy yourself then it becomes a bit pointless. Taking photos of everyday only has meaning if you enjoyed the moment. 

Canada is a beautiful country, but there are also some serious risks to wandering off, always be aware of wildlife, especially bears and other dangerous creatures. Polar bears, for instance, are not going to pose nicely, no matter how great your camera is.

I’ve broken our Canada road trip into a series of blog posts, which can be found here:
Tips for Successful Road Trips
What are your tips for making a mundane trip into an adventure? Do you have any road trip hints and tips for smooth travel?
In 2012, I travelled across 3 Canadian provinces and completed my first major ‘road trip’. Road trips are a new concept to me, so my excitement was intense. Follow the Road Trip Journey and discover places to visit and enjoy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as hints and tips on the best way to make a road trip romantic, enjoy each others company and find great photo opportunities

We have been in Ontario for an entire year! (well, just over). Toward the end of 2012, we decided to purchase and live in Prescott, Ontario. A tiny town situated on the St. Lawrence river, across from the equally quaint town of Ogdensberg, NY. Small town living took some getting used to, as neither of us had experienced it prior to this.

However, it has been such an exciting experience and we have done so much. Living in a small town, although not always as idyllic as we had (naively) hoped, has provided us the leisure to enjoy each others company, to be away from The Canadian’s job and to develop our relationship, setting the foundation for our growth individually and as a couple. It’s just small changes, like developing a garden, planning to decorate, filling in the big gaping pool in our back garden and just generally making plans and enjoying each others’ company, but to us they are precious.

 

lake superior on a hiking trail
Ontario Facts:
Provincial Flower: White Trillium
Provincial Bird: Great Northern Loon
Provincial Tree: Eastern White Pine
Ontario was by far the most visually pleasing province to drive through. The reduced speed limits, although annoying (and difficult to stick to) at first, allowed for better enjoyment of the scenery.
welcome to Ontario

turtle lake, ONadvanced hiking trail, ON, between wawa and sault saint mariecross canada road trip ONTARIOkakabeka falls Road Trip Ontario

We stopped more often and enjoyed the rock, trees, water and richness of Ontario.
When our road trip brought us to Lake Superior I couldn’t comprehend that it was a lake and not an ocean. Even today, knowing that it is a lake (I had to check by looking it up), I’m still not sure of the ‘lakeness’ of Lake Superior. Surely it should be classed as an ocean?! Beyond this small bafflement, the rest of the journey was brilliant, much of my time was spent looking out for further glimpses of Lake Superior.
We travelled from Fort Frances to Thunder Bay and then onwards to Wawa. From Wawa we pushed ourselves to Petawawa, where we collapsed and spent a slow afternoon with Amanda and her family, who were posted here a few years ago.
From there, we braved the Queensway in Ottawa, during rush hour, and promptly became lost on the side roads of the city.

Some 3 hours later, we made it to Prescott, where my mother-in-law took us out for even more restaurant food. Although some what tired of restaurant food over the 9 days of travel, the restaurants in Prescott offered far better food than the falafel burgers of Nipissing or the dodgy burgers of Sudbury. instagram road trip canada

If you’re on a road trip that takes you through northern Ontario, stop in Wawa and see the world’s biggest goose statue, Lake Wawa and Magpie falls. Stop at Kakabeka falls and when in Thunder Bay, drop down and drive through the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, which is the first real experience of Lake Superior, it is a bit of a circular trip but a pleasant drive, nonetheless.
Between Thunder Bay and Wawa, we left the beaten trail and headed for Turtle Lake Landing. Beyond having great photo opportunities, it provided great amusement. It was a ridiculously long drive down dirt roads and steep hills and a lot of judgement from locals who did not approve of our little hatchback, apparently these roads were for trucks only (eek!). Thank goodness we were able to make it back up the hill, I don’t think I could have stood the embarrassment of having to ask for help pushing it up the steep inclines!
Between Wawa and Sault St Marie, there is a hiking trail of …an advanced nature. It’s worth pulling over for, because, well: chipmunks. There are also some historical cave and wall drawings accompanying stories of sea monsters. It was only after finishing the hike and scaling the rock face above a very turbulent Lake Superior that we discovered that it was an ‘Advanced Hiking Trail Only’. Still, we managed it and enjoyed it, the photo opportunities were amazing and it was one of the biggest joys of the road trip. I also learnt that converse, designer skinny jeans and hiking are not the best of combinations!
Finally, be prepared for unpredictable weather on the roads of northern Ontario. Or, in fact, anywhere in Canada. Our road trip was blessed with fantastic weather, however, there were moments when we had to pull over on the highway because the rain was pounding and making visibility impossible.
I’ve broken our Canada road trip into a series of blog posts, which can be found here:
Ontario
What are your tips for making a mundane trip into an adventure? Do you have any road trip hints and tips for smooth travel?
In 2012, I travelled across 3 Canadian provinces and completed my first major ‘road trip’. Road trips are a new concept to me, so my excitement was intense. Follow the Road Trip Journey and discover places to visit and enjoy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as hints and tips on the best way to make a road trip romantic, enjoy each others company and find great photo opportunities

Manitoba Facts:
Provincial Flower: Prairie Crocus
Provincial Bird: Great Gray Owl
Provincial Tree: White Spruce

 

We arrived late into Manitoba. Having visited Manitoba in the winter of 2010, we hadn’t planned to spend much time in the province during our cross-country road trip. The day we arrived, we were met with thunder and heavy rain. After settling into the hotel, we went out for dinner at a rather posh restaurant and relaxed for the first time on our journey.
The next day, we met up with The Canadian’s old school friend and enjoyed an afternoon with him before exploring some of the downtown delights of Winnipeg.
Before crossing the provincial border for our Ontario section of our road trip, we stopped in Falcon Park and enjoyed the last of the flat land and rolling clouds. The weather was beautiful and provided a fitting day to say goodbye to the prairies.
If you’re in Winnipeg on your road trip, or any visit for that matter, be sure to drop by the Winnipeg zoo, which is fantastic. We visited that in the dead of winter, and minus the -40 C cold, we had a fantastic time, as a bonus all the sensible visitors had stayed away so we had the park to ourselves. Other things to do in Winnipeg, when you’re short of time and looking for ‘free’ or cheap days, include visiting the British sweetie shop, Candy Mountain, located in an old train carriage in “The Forks”. The Forks also houses a mall, which is definitely worth a wander.
I’ve broken our Canada road trip into a series of blog posts, which can be found here:
Manitoba
What are your tips for making a mundane trip into an adventure? Do you have any road trip hints and tips for smooth travel?
In 2012, I travelled across 3 Canadian provinces and completed my first major ‘road trip’. Road trips are a new concept to me, so my excitement was intense. Follow the Road Trip Journey and discover places to visit and enjoy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as hints and tips on the best way to make a road trip romantic, enjoy each others company and find great photo opportunities

Saskatchewan Facts:
Provincial Flower: Western Red Lily
Provincial Bird: Sharp-Tailed Grouse
Provincial Tree: White Birch

We didn’t take the Trans-Canada Highway all the way from Edmonton, as most people would if they were embarking on a road trip across the country, instead we entered Saskatchewan from the south. We were heading for Regina when we found an information centre, which made us aware that a winery was a 40 minutes drive in the wrong direction. Having never been to a winery before, I persuaded The Canadian that it would be a good idea to take a detour, so we headed to Maple Creek.

The Canadian still insists that the mead was his best experience in Saskatchewan to date. We bought bottles of mead and white wine, enjoyed a walk around the vineyard and ate a fantastic lunch. We even saw wild deer, which, to a city girl like me, was exciting!

The drive through southern Saskatchewan was amazing. It looked almost untouched in places. I drove this stretch so there aren’t many photos of this province, but I am not exaggerating when I say that it was breathtaking. For a while, it was boring, flat, farms then all of a sudden the scenery melted into large dusty hills and winding roads, with sporadic placements of blue water in valleys, surrounded by low trees. This area of Saskatchewan was reminiscent of something from a film. The Canadian was delighted when we stumbled across a remote T-Rex museum in Eastend, SK. He wasn’t so delighted when I bought him a t-shirt that was too (!) geeky for his tastes.

Our journey through Saskatchewan was against the background noise of Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” and Terry Pratchett’s “Witches Abroad“. I cannot over recommend having an audio book or two for a long distance road trip. Especially for road trips across Canada. Although there really is some beauty to be found in this country, some of the driving can be particularly arduous, and having some distraction for 9 hour days of driving can be a useful tool.
The audiobooks really added to the richness of our road trip and, as an added bonus, they made up for the grumpy moment that came from me needing a chocolate break, only to pull into a convenience store that turned out to be the “Corner Gas” set just north of Weyburn. For those of you not familiar, this was a big Canadian TV show set around a petrol station, honestly, the premise of the show surpasses my description! Needless to say, they didn’t sell chocolate.

Saskatchewan was a thoroughly enjoyable drive. I’d recommend exploring the vineyard just east of Maple Creek, enjoying the drive around Eastend (and even visiting the museum!), enjoying the massive horizons and the fantastic cloud formations, and visiting “Rumors” cafe in Assiniboia, which was definitely a great place to stop, albeit rather remote.

Where are you favourite places in Saskatchewan?

I’ve broken our Canada road trip into a series of blog posts, which can be found here:
Saskatchewan
What are your tips for making a mundane trip into an adventure? Do you have any road trip hints and tips for smooth travel?
In 2012, I travelled across 3 Canadian provinces and completed my first major ‘road trip’. Road trips are a new concept to me, so my excitement was intense. Follow the Road Trip Journey and discover places to visit and enjoy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as hints and tips on the best way to make a road trip romantic, enjoy each others company and find great photo opportunities

road trip alberta lake louise

Alberta Facts: 
Provincial Flower: Wild Rose
Provincial Bird: Great Horned Owl
Provincial Tree: Lodge Pine Tree

 

For 2 years, we lived in Edmonton, Alberta. Our first house was home to many exciting firsts. We experienced condo living (boo!), living next to dreadful neighbours, and a whole host of military induced experiences (including a deployment).
Giggling on the bathroom floor after eating too many gummy bears is one of my best memories, as was the road trip around Alberta, after the Canadian returned from Afghanistan. Although, The Canadian will probably argue that the time I fostered 1 cat and 8 kittens for 6 weeks was up there on the list of memories (sorry!).
Leaving Edmonton was bittersweet, we had made some amazing friends and great connections. We were close to mountains and had may a great time exploring the smaller towns of Alberta. However, we were ready to move on, having found Alberta too restrictive for our own personal tastes, we desperately wanted to be posted to Ontario. We decided to drive to Ottawa and kept our road trip to within Canada. Often people decide to drive the U.S., however, this was my first time to explore Canada properly and I didn’t want to to turn down the opportunity to see my new country in its entirety.
military move from Alberta to Ontario
Alberta collagedrumheller alberta road trip
Alberta is a beautiful province, filled with absolutely breathtaking scenery (don’t worry, there’s also a lot of bland scenery to balance it out!). If you’re ever in Alberta, be sure to visit Calgary zoo, drive the Iceland Parkway, explore the trails surrounding Lake Louise and Jasper, have a photograph taken outside the world’s largest dinosaur structure in Drumheller, visit the hoodoos and generally get lost amongst the great expanse of fields and greenery (in the summer!). I would recommend an Alberta road trip to anyone who wanted to see natural beauty.
Where would be your ‘go to’ places in Alberta? Do you have any ‘must dos’ for road trips that keep you from divorcing?
I’ve broken our Canada road trip into a series of blog posts, which can be found here:
Alberta
What are your tips for making a mundane trip into an adventure? Do you have any road trip hints and tips for smooth travel?
In 2012, I travelled across 3 Canadian provinces and completed my first major ‘road trip’. Road trips are a new concept to me, so my excitement was intense. Follow the Road Trip Journey and discover places to visit and enjoy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as hints and tips on the best way to make a road trip romantic, enjoy each others company and find great photo opportunities

\

My mother in law gave me all of her old camera equipment. It was like an early Christmas present when she brought the boxes over. We were both under the belief that the lenses would automatically fit on my DSLR but that was not the case.

Eventually, I searched on eBay and tracked down a Minolta to Canon adaptor. It arrived today and I immediately popped it on and started testing the lenses. Using film lenses on a DSLR was so much fun.

Sadly, I cannot adjust the aperture easily on the camera as the lens isn’t recognized on my Canon, still, I enjoy the results.

 

I am in England.

Pinching myself because it doesn’t feel very real.

It took so long to get here. It’s been such a crazy visit and trip.

First there was a snow storm in Ottawa, which meant my flight was cancelled, which led to a whole host of events including:

– queuing for an hour to get a taxi

– the taxi driver leaving me at the end of a driveway whilst I pulled one 28kg suitcase and carried two 10kg bags through 2 feet of snow, all while wearing canvas shoes

– I spent more time in an airport and eventually managed to get to Frankfurt where it became evident that someone had forgotten to book me on the connecting flight to England. So, I waited, only to discover that I wasn’t booked on the second connection either.

– There may have been a scary look on my face because I was quickly put on the second connection.

By the time I landed in England I was beyond tired and grumpy but I’m glad to be here! The downside of this is that I haven’t been as attentive as I wanted to be with this blog, my services, and my part time job. I think that eventually that will get back on track. Thanks for being patient.