1600km, Bad Light, Bad Weather & Bad Luck

There haven’t been any posts for a little while because, well, because I haven’t been taking pics. Around Edmonton it’s been gawd awful for photos lately. I can’t remember such a long stretch where it’s been so blah.

Some people say that you can shoot in any kind of weather and light. I say you can’t. Oh you can but if you’re the least bit discriminating and honest with what you’ve brought home you’ll end up deleting it. I know that from personal experience. You see when you take photos where you live, if everything isn’t perfect you don’t have a pretty place to mask the deficiencies of your shooting. I see that a lot with photo tours and workshops. There’s a good reason why they’re usually held in the mountains. Screw up and you’ve still got a picture of a pretty place. Not a great picture but a picture of a pretty place.

Having said that, I was away from work this past week. Unused holiday time to burn. I had been planning a trip to the mountains for a little while and looking forward to getting away.

The original plan was to spend two nights in the mountains, catch a couple of sunrises and a few sunsets and then hoof it home. Plans sometimes change though.

On Wednesday after driving for four and a half hours, some of it in an almost blizzard with blowing snow, I was scouting out the area that I had planned to shoot during the evening. I hadn’t shot here before and wanted to have an idea where to be when the light got better. At two in the afternoon the landscape is brightly lit. Too bright for my tastes. I walked around the area for almost an hour until it happened. SMASH!

I lost my balance and with tripod and camera in hand fell to the ground. No biggy until I looked down. My camera was attached to the tripod, like it was supposed to be. My Nikon 14-24 lens lay a foot away from it and the adapter ring that I use it to connect to my Canon body was split apart. A Canon body and a Nikon lens? As you know I am not one who rants about their equipment or hardly ever writes about it. I’ve been using this combination for over year now. Why the Nikon 14-24? It is simply the best wide angle lens in the world. Hands down. You don’t need any MTF graphs and charts to split hairs when comparing it to my Canon 16-35. It is noticeably sharper and crisper from the center out to the edges.

When packing for the trip I thought momentarily about bringing the Canon 16-35 and decided against it. My Canon body was not damaged. The Nikon lens was perfect but the adapter ring was garbage. It was the weakest link and broke. With two telephoto lenses in the truck it made no sense for me to spend the evening and following morning in the mountains. I got back into the Rav and made the four and a half hour drive home. Nine hours of driving in one day and no pictures to show for it or at least none that I will ever process.

The next morning with the Canon 16-35 in hand I drove out again. The weather was a little better this time. For an hour between Edson and Hinton it was snowing heavily and then it stopped. Heavy clouds I thought to myself. No good. I scouted out another area for the following morning. This time with my camera in my backpack. As evening drew closer, that’s around 4:30 here at this time of year I headed down the icefields parkway. Once by the old Athabasca, I parked myself and hoped that the skies would clear even if just a little bit.

The skies were mainly gray. Shortly after sunset they cleared a bit. Not perfect but above is the result.

Checking into the motel the revised forecast was for clear skies in the morning. CLEAR SKIES!!! That’s as bad as cloudy skies. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

More on the next mornings shoot in a day or so.

I have a little tip to pass on for those who don’t like throwing their money away. For a few years now, the gas stations in the town of Jasper haven’t been posting their gasoline prices. It’s almost as if they all decided that they wouldn’t compete with one another. So, I would fill up with gas in Hinton which is a half hour drive before you get into Jasper. The gas has always been cheaper in Hinton. Sometimes up to ten cents a liter less so I would never gas up in Jasper.

As I was walking from the restaurant I had dinner in I walked by a gas pump to see what the price was. $1.12 a liter. I had filled up in Edmonton for $.99 a liter in Edmonton earlier in the day. Here’s where the tip comes in. I have an app for my iPhone that gives you the prices of gas all around you. It’s called Gasbuddy.  It uses your phone’s gps and shows you the closest stations and what the prices are. I opened the app on my phone and to my surprise found that gas in Hinton was the same price. I had never seen that before. Head into British Columbia and gas was $1.33 a liter. Wow! That’s pricey.

An hour closer to home in Edson the gas was $1.06. Another twenty minutes east it was $1.04 and a little closer to Edmonton it was down to $1.01. On my drive home knowing that the I could make it to the cheapest station with gas in the tank to spare, I drove to the station outside Wabamun and filled up. After all, why spend the extra money if you don’t have to?

I ordered another adapter ring from the states. Hopefully it will be here in a few days and I can go back to using my favorite lens. :)

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on December 10, 2011.

9 Responses to “1600km, Bad Light, Bad Weather & Bad Luck”

  1. Ouch Dan, it does look like the adapter saved the lens this time, most likley cheap insurance. The grey skies slipped away this morning for a shoot at Elk Island, it has been a dreary month around here for sure. Thanks for all your inspiration throuout the year.

  2. @ Bryan, Cheap insurance? Kinda, the adapter is a bit over three hundred dollars. The lens, seventeen hundred. The body, seven and a half thousand. It’s still a pain to be replacing it. :(

    Dreary is the word for our weather lately. Persevere, the best shots usually happen when you don’t expect them.

  3. there is something about this photo that draws you in to take a closer look…I think it is quite a story…..

  4. Bad light, bad weather and bad luck sums up winter for me so far as well. With the way my work schedule is, I only have weekends to shoot and the last few hasn’t given me results that I typically like. I see more brilliant sunrises during the week at work than on the weekends. Nice image Dan, hopefully you got your adapter!

  5. @ Brandon, not much you can do about the weather. I know exactly what you mean when you write about work days having the special weather. There was a forecast for heavy fog overnight and guess who couldn’t be outside shooting because of work? LOL

    The adapter is on it’s way. In the meantime the old wide angle lens will do.

    Thank you for visiting,

  6. @ Melissa, A picture that tells a story and not just shows a place is my goal. Thank you.

  7. Glad to hear nothing but the adapter was damaged, I was hoping you didn’t fill the camera with snow when it came apart. Not really the most pleasant scenery for a 4.5 hour return trip so soon.
    Next time will be better!

  8. @ Pat, you don’t know how I felt when I saw the camera and lens part ways on the ice. It wasn’t a great feeling. LOL
    I’ll be back and it will be better. That’s part of the attraction.
    Thank you for visiting,

  9. Actually I know the feeling but will never tell! haha

    I had images in my mind after I first heard, of the body augering into a foot of fluff, open faced.

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