Sunday, May 29, 2011

F-Stop Guru Camera Bag Deal - 25% off!

For those of you looking for a great Memorial Day deal in the U.S. (and just a plain ol' good deal here in Canada), f-stop gear is offering up a Memorial Day discount of 25% on their wicked camera day packs, the Guru, the "gold standard of day packs" (the deal includes the small ICU and any of the three colours).

The Guru by f-stop gear

All you have to do to get the deal, which lasts until the end of tomorrow (May 30th, 2011), is use the promo code MEM2011TW (all caps).

I'm off to Jasper in search of bears today, so wish me luck!

Happy shooting,

John

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Winners and the Jasper Accident / Adventure

The last few days have been exciting on all kinds of counts.  The Great Greeting Card Contest came to a close, the Canucks whipped the Sharks to a pulp, and my Jasper adventure in search of bears provided a little more adventure than I'd bargained for!

My Jasper adventure offered up a little more than just bears and loons!

I'll start off with the Greeting Card Contest to keep you all in a little suspense about the accident (and the grizzly pics below).  My first ever online contest came off with a rousing success, with well over 300 entries into the first part of the card contest, and more than 100 entries into the second part, an online survey to determine the ultimate winners in terms of which cards will be hitting the stores this June.

In the prelim round, Nancy Webb of Morganton, North Carolina and Shawn Boonstra of San Diego, California each won themselves packages of 50 greeting cards.  While the Grand Prize was won by Matt and Cathi Shaw of Summerland, B.C. (100 cards or a 16x24 print!).

I also decided to offer a final bonus prize of 25 cards to one of the entrants, and that's been won by Steve Woods of Calgary, AB!

Congrats to all of the winners.  I'll be posting all of the new cards in the next few weeks and will let everyone know when they're available in stores or for ordering online.

Ok, on to the goods.  Aka, the first accident I've had in 25 years of driving more than 750,000 kilometres (450,000 miles).

It happened on Wednesday morning in Jasper at the one and only highway intersection on the edge of town, where Highway 93N meets Highway 16.  I pulled up to the light and as I did, it turned green, so I glanced left and right quickly and started out into the intersection.  Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my wee brain, I'd registered that there was a vehicle moving towards the intersection on my right, but it had been moving slowly and I'm guessing my brain figured, "Hey, car's slowing down to stop."  But no, said car was not slowing down to stop.  Rather, it was a little old guy that hadn't noticed the light had changed.

Anyways, to make a long story short, we had a bit of a collision in the middle of the intersection.  Thankfully, no one was hurt, but my Subaru did sustain a bit of damage as you can see above.  So, in one swift second, my Jasper bear trip turned into my Jasper 'Hey, I had an accident!' trip.

Now I'm cruising around in a Nissan Pathfinder thinking that it's:

  • quite a bit cooler than my Subaru Forester is...the Pathfinder is all shiny black and new; the Forester is not.
  • roooooomy!  Wow, is this thing big.  I can do a starfish in the back (trust me on that one)!
  • a gas guzzler.  Yikes, how do people drive big trucks around all day long?  I thought my Subie was bad on gas, but this takes it to a whole new level.  $100 to fill a tank is not my idea of a good time.

I'm not sure how long my Subaru will be out of commission, but for now, I'll revel in this new-found shiny-ness and room, and curse the terrible fuel economy.

Here's a few pics from the Jasper trip. Enjoy!

Ran into this beautiful grizzly bear on my way up late in the evening.

The same grizzly bear marching along towards my car on his search for roots

Testing out the 24-70mm, f2.8 lens that Sigma has given me to try...this is an 8-image panoramic stitch

Another shot with the Sigma 24-70 f2.8 wide angle lens.

I was impressed with the Sigma 24-70 f2.8 lens' ability to provide nice, clean, crisp images.  For the price, size, and weight, it's an excellent alternative to the equivalent Canon or Nikon lenses.

A common loon doing a wing flap in Jasper

A grizzly bear along the Sunwapta River in Jasper (I'm photographing it from across the river)

The Sunwapta grizzly again.

Happy shooting!

John

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Banff Grizzly Dies on TCH

Sad news last week as yet another Banff grizzly bear was killed in the national park.  I got news of the death the same morning that the bear was picked up off the Trans-Canada Highway and immediately started to try to figure out if I'd photographed it before.

The park warden that retrieved the bear from the highway is one of several that I chat to throughout the year regarding both wolves and bears, and together we were able to piece together a bit of the history of the bear.

On May 4th, 2010, I photographed a large male grizzly in the vicinity of Castle Mountain in Banff along the railway tracks. Looking closely at several of the photos, I was able to determine that the very subtle, hidden ear tag in the left ear of the bear had the number 0148 on it, matching that of the bear killed on the Trans Canada last week.

Grizzly bear 0148 in happier times, walking the train tracks in Banff in May 2010

However, the really interesting part of this story occurred two weeks prior to that, on April 18th, 2010.  On that day, I witnessed a grizzly bear chase an injured moose across the Bow River near Lake Louise, and near the end of the encounter, got a photo that showed a faint trace of both an ear tag and a radio transmitter in the bear's ears.




Grizzly bear 0148 tracking an injured moose in Banff in May 2010

Grizzly bear 0148 crossing the Bow River in Banff National Park in May 2010

Grizzly bear 0148 at Morant's Curve in Banff in May 2010

Grizzly bear 0148 -- the photo that shows a faint trace of an ear tag and radio transmitter

At that point last year, my warden friend had happened on the scene just minutes after the bear had left, so I had shown him the footage and the photos, yet neither of us could recall having seen the grizzly before.

So now, a week after Bear 0148's death, it appears that our 'new' bear from last year was a transplanted (relocated) grizzly from provincial lands and it almost certainly matches up.  Same tag in left ear, same transmitter in right ear.

Unfortunately, this realization comes just days after this big male was killed on the highway.

He may have survived the trains day-after-day for a year, but in the end, like all Banff grizzlies, Bear 0148 died at the hands of humans; he was no match for the big truck that took his life.

John

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Photo of the Day - Grizzly Bear

Today's 'Photo of the Day' is actually from a today -- a rarity in the world of John Marriott, where Canucks games and just about everything you can possibly think of come prioritized more highly than sitting at a computer processing images.  Like everyone else, I do look at mine right away, but unlike everyone else, I rarely do more than have a quick glance through them.

As it currently stands, when I get around to editing them years later, every folder I open is like rediscovering Christmas again.  Shouts of joy fill my office (my wife can attest to this) as I pore over image after image that I had forgotten all about!  Ha-ha!

A beautiful male grizzly in Banff National Park this morning

Anyways, today I'm breaking from the norm to show you a pic from this morning's shoot with a gorgeous unmarked male grizzly bear in Banff National Park.  I'll be back out again for the rest of the week trying to add to my already ridiculously large grizzly bear photo collection (post editing, I'm at 2600 grizzly images) and hoping to find some tiny new black bear cubs.

With any luck, you'll get to see a few of those in a timely fashion, too.

Happy shooting!

John

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Choose the Final Winners

The Facebook contest has come to a close (congrats to Shawn Boonstra and Nancy Webb for winning 50 cards each!), but I'm still in the process of choosing the final new greeting cards, so if you'd like to help out, feel free to check out the online survey (it takes about 5 minutes and features tons of photos) at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/542543/Top-Ten-Greeting-Cards.

Happy shooting!

John
PS - first lynx of the year yesterday!!

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Monday, May 9, 2011

The Great Greeting Card CONTEST!

Well, I've finally cracked and decided to add to my line of 33 Wilderness Moments greeting cards.  As a result, I've opened up a great contest over on my Facebook Fan Page to help me pick out the new cards from 137 candidate photos.

The Ramparts in the Tonquin Valley, Jasper National Park.  Should this be a new greeting card?  You decide!

If you're not a fan of Facebook and/or just couldn't be bothered to figure it all out, you can still put in your votes and enter the contest (prizes include card packs of up to 100 cards, as well as a chance to win a 16"x24" print of your choice from my images!) by email.  Here are the eight album links, just email me at info@wildernessprints.com with your Top Two or Three from each album and you'll be automatically entered into the first and second parts of the contest!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173648211778.300862.282853571777

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173655176778.300865.282853571777

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173657791778.300866.282853571777

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173660296778.300867.282853571777

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173661336778.300868.282853571777

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173662266778.300869.282853571777

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173663601778.300870.282853571777

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150173665266778.300871.282853571777

Let me know your favourites!

Happy shooting,

John

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Photo of the Day - Wolf Yoga

Lillian, a yearling female member of the Pipestone wolf family, went for a few long 'walkabouts' this winter when she was banished from the family circle while mating was going on.  On one particular morning in March, she walked for 20 kilometres along the pavement until traffic started to pick up.

Wolf Yoga - "Lillian-style"

Later that afternoon, she briefly appeared again and kept wandering along and rubbing her bum on the ground.  When she was about 90 metres away from my car, she suddenly went into a full squat and dragged her butt along for a few metres, before lifting it off the ground into a perfect yoga pose.  She held this pose for two full seconds, then got up and moseyed off into the trees.

Once she was gone and I could see her walking through a distant meadow, I got out and inspected the 'drag trail' and sure enough, about halfway along, a lovely foot-long tapeworm was mushed out onto the edge of the road!

The tapeworm explained all the bum scraping, but I never did figure out why she went into the yoga pose at the end.  Any suggestions (keep it clean, ha-ha!)?

By the way, for any of you hoping to get out and do some early morning shooting in Banff over the next few months, be aware that the Bow Valley Parkway is closed from 6 pm to 9 am to provide grizzly bears with some critical, early season, undisturbed habitat, and is being patrolled regularly (as of May 1st) by an enforcement officer (warden) who is stopping anyone that's inside the closed portion of the parkway.  This is a voluntary closure for now, however, Parks is making a concerted effort to ensure that everyone abides by it.  Both myself and my friend and colleague Peter Dettling have chosen to respect this closure and we hope that all of you will, too.

Happy shooting!

John

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