Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Frosty trees along the Yukon River

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!  Here's to another year filled with good health, joy, love and endless photography opportunities.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

I'm back!!!

Dancing lights, Yukon Canada
Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8
ISO 1200, 15 sec exposure

My apologies for the lengthy absence from my blog and photography.  From now on I'll be posting on a regular basis - promise!  

Last night the northern lights returned to our northern skies. It was well worth the effort to bundle up and spend a few minutes photographing the lights despite the fact it was a bone chilling -35 degrees Celsius.  

This was to have been the week that astronomers and photographers across the North were hoping to spot and photograph Comet Ison as it graced the wintery sky.  Sadly, the supposed Comet of the Century, did not survive its close encounter with the sun on Nov 28th.  Many of us were hoping for a repeat performance of Comet Lovejoy's stunning display in the southern hemisphere in 2011.  Oh well, next time!

Hope today's blog finds you all well in your corner of the world.

Good to be back on-line.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Rough Guide to Canada (8th edition)

At long last the latest edition of the Rough Guide to Canada has arrived in book stores across the country!

The new Rough Guide to Canada is fully redesigned and includes a fresh new contemporary design, world-class photography and accurate maps.  In the guide you will also find my updated chapter on The North which highlights the must see places in Nunavut, NWT, Yukon, northern BC & Alberta as well as Haida Gwaii.

Designed to make finding information easier and packed with more feature boxes, itineraries and recommendations, this new full-colour Rough Guides makes it easier than ever to make the most of your time on Earth!

All Rough Guide publications are available in most major book stores and on on-line sites.  Check out RoughGuides.com for the latest news.

My work continues with Rough Guides as I have recently been asked to rewrite the Alaska Chapter for the 11th edition of the Rough Guide to USA.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world,


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Portrait of a Red Fox

Red Fox, Pelly Crossing (Yukon)

Greetings once again from the Yukon!  Spring has been late in coming, but thankfully the temperatures warmed up to above the 20 degree mark and the snow has finally stopped falling.  Hard to believe that we experienced blizzard-like conditions during the May long weekend.  The leaves are out, the sun is in its glory, the birds are singing their tiny hearts out and the grizzlies are out and about with their new born cubs.  The Yukon has finally come back to life after a very long, and cold, winter.

Last night a red fox decided to pay us a visit while friends and I were enjoying the first BBQ of the season.   Cute little fella!

Hope you are all enjoying the sights and sounds of spring.


Monday, 22 April 2013

Celebrating Earth Day 2013

Return on the Swans
Tagish Lake, Yukon

Today is a day to celebrate the fabulous diversity of life, cultures, languages, music, landscapes and the history of our Planet.  Happy Earth Day all!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Heavenly Encounter

Heavenly Encounter - Comet PanSTARRS (Right) sails 
past the Andromeda Galaxy on April 4, 2013

A once-in-a-life time opportunity to photograph two famous heavenly bodies in the same frame occurred on late in the evening on April 4th when, to the delight of stargazers across the northern hemisphere,  Comet PanSTARRS sailed by the Andromeda Galaxy.  Stunning!!!  I used the Nikor 300mm lens at f/3.5, 15 sec exposure at 1600 ISO to capture the heavenly encounter.

Even though the pair seem relatively close together, Andromeda is in actual fact 2.5 million light years away.  Tonight, Comet PanSTARRS continues to sail back into the outer reaches of our solar system.  It is due back to grace our evening skies in 106,000 years!!!

It was wonderful to have spotted and photographed the comet during the past few weeks.  Comet PanSTARRS provided us all with a taste of better things to come.  In November, if all predictions come true, a much more dramatic comet, Comet ISON, will grace the evening sky with its presence.  Astronomers believe that it is related to the Great Comet of 1680.  If all predictions come true, this comet will be the comet of the Century as it may very well be seen during daylight hours too.  Fabulous days to come!!!  Stay tuned for updates.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Please post a comment.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Its official - spring has sprung!!!

Trumpeter Swans 

It's official - spring has finally returned the Yukon! 

Last weekend 42 trumpeter swans arrived at Marsh Lake (south of Whitehorse).  Their spring migration has begun.  Think it's time to dust off the camera, clean sensors, empty memory cards, check gear and head down to Marsh Lake....

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Friday, 22 March 2013

An evening with Pan-STARRS

Pan-STARRS sailing through the night sky
near Pelly Crossing, Yukon

Comet Pan-STARRS continues to quietly sail across the evening sky as she makes her way to the far reaches of our solar system.  Last night, the sky over Pelly was crisp and clear; ideal for an intimate photo shoot with this month's celestial treat. 
I spent close to an hour photographing Pan-STARRS against a foreground of black spruce and birch trees.  The temperature had started to drop and a slight breeze signalled it was time to return home.  As luck would have it, Betsy, the car I borrowed from a friend, wouldn't start.  Thankfully a group of guys from Fort McPherson, NWT, drove by offered to bring me back to Pelly.   They were on their way to Whitehorse to participate in this weekend's Native Hockey Tournament.  Thanks guys!  It would have been a very long and chilly night otherwise.  

The local RCMP and I returned to the car this morning, gave Betsy a boost and drove her home.  Lesson learned - always carry a sleeping bag, emergency food, a candle and warm clothing.

Last night's images were taken with the Nikon D800 and Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 lens.  Camera was set to ISO800, f/3.5 and 5 sec exposure.  Images were taken between 10:15 to 11:00 pm.

The days are certainly getting longer in the north.  Now, if only the temperatures would warm up.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Comet Pan-STARRS

Comet Pan-STARRS as seen near Pelly Crossing 

Comet Pan-STARRS continues to dazzle those who take the time to observe the early evening sky.  Tonight, aproximately an hour after the sun sets, scan the western horizon with a pair of binoculars.  If you're lucky you'll spot a tiny fuzzy object sporting a fanning tail.  Pan-STARRS is expected to showcase its beauty for the next few weeks before it becomes too distant to observe with the naked eye.  We won't see this particular comet for another million years or so!

Last night's image was taken with a Nikon D800, ISO set at 800 at an 8sec exposure.  A 300mm f/2.8 lens set at f/3.5 was attached.

More information, sky maps and images of Pan-STARRS can be found on spaceweather.com and on waitingforison.wordpress.com/comet-panstarrs/

Tonight's sky promises to be clear again!!

Good luck with your viewing of Pan-STARRS.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

My first glimpse of Comet Pan-STARRS

Comet Pan-STARRS
near Pelly Crossing, Yukon 

A quick hello - at long last I caught my first glimpse of Comet Pan-STARRS an hour or so ago - very faint, but much more pronounced with binoculars. 

I spotted the comet at 1030pm while scanning the western sky with binoc's (look a few degrees above the horizon directly above where the sun set).  Tonight the sun set at 8:15pm (hard to believe) with darkness approaching the western sky an hour or so later.

I'm thrilled to have seen this comet as it had eluded me in Ottawa and during my first few days back North.  My mistake was that I was looking far too early - apparently 45mins to 1hr after sunset is ideal.  More and more viewers across the northern hemisphere are beginning to see the comet with the naked eye.  In the coming days the comet will appear higher in the 
evening sky which will make it an easier target for the untrained eye.  

Tonight's shot is very basic - I'm sure there will be plenty more nights in the coming weeks to fine tune my comet photography skills - so neat!!

Hope you have an opportunity to see it.

Good night,

Photo Info:  Nikon D800 camera with Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 lens attached.  Mounted on tripod, 8 sec exp, 1000ISO, f /3.5

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Rough Guide to Canada (8th ed.)

Here's a pitch for the upcoming Rough Guide to Canada (8th edition) due to be released in late May.

The new Rough Guide to Canada is fully redesigned and includes a fresh new contemporary design, world-class photography and accurate maps.  In the guide you will also find my updated chapter on The North which highlights the must see places in Nunavut, NWT, Yukon, northern BC & Alberta as well as Haida Gwaii.

Designed to make finding information easier and packed with more feature boxes, itineraries and recommendations, this new full-colour Rough Guides makes it easier than ever to make the most of your time on Earth!

All Rough Guide publications are available in most major book stores and on on-line sites.  Check out RoughGuides.com for the latest news.

I'm looking forward to receiving my advance copy.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Please post a comment.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Spring is oh so close.....

Gravel Lake, North Klondike Hwy (Yukon)

North Klondike Hwy (Yukon)

What a difference two months has made!
We, here in the Yukon, have already gained 5hrs and 1min of daylight since New Years Day.  The sun is also at 19 degrees at its zenith which is a tremendous change from when it was only 4 degrees on Jan 1st.  Everyday we gain 6 or 7 mins of daylight.  Fabulous!!!
Today, the sun rose at 08:15 and will set at 18:20.  Daytime highs are just shy of zero degrees Celsius.  Spring is oh so close.....
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

Please post a comment.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Checkpoint Pelly Crossing

Yuka Honda (Yukon Quest 300) and her dogs arrive 
at the finish line in Pelly Crossing 

Allen Moore - first musher to arrive in Pelly Crossing
Feb 4th at 1:24am

Pups resting for the next leg of the race

Quest Vets check on the wellbeing of all pups

Traffic jam in Pelly - two teams 
(Christina Traverse a few seconds behind Randy MacKenzie in red)
 arriving at Checkpoint Pelly Crossing

Susan Rogan spends a few seconds with each of her
dogs moments before departing Pelly

Normand Casavant convincing his pup to eat

Normand Casavant hands out snacks

Markus Ingebretsen arrives at Checkpoint Pelly 

Putting on booties

Quest volunteers staying warm by campfire
waiting for next team to arrive

Darrin Lee arrives in Pelly
Volunteers check his gear

Dropped from race

Dyan Bergen and her team prepare to depart Pelly

Tamra Reynolds (YQ 300) arrives at finish in Pelly
Exhausted pup in bag

Time for a snooze

Welcome to Checkpoint Pelly Crossing - the fourth official stop in this year's running of the Yukon Quest.  Allen Moore was the first to arrive at 01:24am on Feb 4th.  

Mushers, upon arrival, are greeted by a team of Quest volunteers who check to see if each sled is equipped with a sleeping bag, food for musher and pups, snowshoes, an axe, the vet book, and other basic gear.  Time deductions are handed out to any musher failing to have the required gear.  Vets also take the opportunity to check on the wellbeing of all the pups.  Those injured or too exhausted to continue are dropped from the team - the handlers will then look after the well being of those pups.

Mushers are offered a hot meal as are the pups - mushers take hot water to thaw chunks of meat, fish and other goodies added to kibble.  Once the pups have eaten, they will rest for a few hours on a bed of straw.  Many mushers provide blankets and 'hand warmers' for their team.  Some of the mushers also elected to catch up on their rest while their team snoozes in Pelly.

At one point we had nine teams in the 'dog yard' - close to 140 sled dogs in our small village.  

Pelly is also the finishing point for those racing in the Yukon Quest 300 - a 300mile journey from Whitehorse to Stepping Stone and Pelly.  This years winner was Michelle Phillips who arrived 8 secs ahead of Aliy Zirkle.  The YQ300 is a qualifying race for those wishing to run in the 1000 mile Yukon Quest race.

Stayed tuned for images from the Dawson Checkpoint.

More images from Checkpoint Pelly are available on my flickr account

Good night,

Please post a comment.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Return of the Aurora

Aurora dancing over the Pelly River, Yukon

Good morning from the Yukon!
At long last the northern lights have returned to our skies.  It has been months since we were last treated to such a show.  Lovely to see them back.
Keeping my fingers crossed for a repeat performance tonight.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Photo info:  Photographed with a Nikon D800 and Nikor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens - shot at f/3.5, 15-18sec, 800ISO, cable release.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Congratulations to Allen Moore

Allen Moore and his team departing Whitehorse
February 2, 2013

Congratulations to Allen Moore and his team for winning this year’s Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.  Allen and his eleven dogs crossed the finish line in Fairbanks, Alaska at 6:54am Alaska Time – his official time was 8 days, 18hrs and 57 mins.  Hugh Neff, the defending champ, finished a close second when he and his nine pups crossed the finish line at 8:10am.

Shortly after his winning, Moore joked with media officials stating that "I trained my team to run 26 seconds faster" in reference to his loss to Neff last year by the slimmest margin in the history of the Quest.  Moore, and his wife Aliy Zirkle (who came within 8 seconds of winning this years Yukon Quest 300 in Pelly Crossing) become the first husband and wife team to each win the Yukon Quest.  Zirkle took the title in 2000.

Congratulations to all.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

And, they are off....

And they are off - the 30th annual Yukon Quest
Sat Feb 2nd, 2013 -  Whitehorse, Yukon

The official start line - Whitehorse, Yukon

Musher Rob Cooke and his pups, from the UK, 
are the third team to depart from the start line

The defending champ, Hugh Neff, hugs each of
his dogs shortly before the start of his race

Lance Mackey departs

Misha Pedersen and her team depart Whitehorse

Excited pups

Darrin Lee and his team

Ed Abrahamson's team

Scott Smith's team departs Whitehorse

One pup who did not make the race

My choice for the winning team

The last few days here in the Yukon have truly been remarkable ones.  A week ago yesterday, with temperatures approaching the zero degree Celsius mark, twenty-six dog teams departed Whitehorse for the 30th running of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.  The 1000-mile journey retraces the historical Gold Rush sled dog route that once connected Whitehorse (Yukon) with Fairbanks, Alaska.  The course follows the frozen waters of the Yukon and Pelly Rivers, crosses over four mountain summits, and travels through some of the harshest yet most pristine wilderness imaginable.  In the past mushers, and their dogs, endured minus 40-degree temperatures and horrific blizzards, treacherous ice conditions and unexpected obstacles such as open water.  The first of the mushers usually crosses the finish line some ten days later.

Along the route there are eight official checkpoints, mandatory rest stops, and several hospitality stops where race veterinarians and officials check on the health and wellbeing of the pups.  Dogs can be dropped from the race if the vets, and or musher, deemed the dog(s) unfit to continue on.  Race officials also check to ensure each musher is equipped with food supplies, snowshoes, an axe, sleeping bag, and their vet logbook.  Penalties (both time deductions and monetary fines) are issued to any team failing to follow race rules.
Each team has a group of handlers that meet the mushers and the pups at each of the checkpoints.  They are responsible for taking care of the dropped dogs and for cleaning up after once the team departs.  Mushers cannot accept help at any point along the race.

Musher Brian Wilmshurst and his 14 excited dogs was the first to depart Whitehorse at 11am.  Each team thereafter left at three-minute intervals with Crispin Studer’s team being the last to depart at 12:15.

Later that afternoon, 18 teams departed on the Yukon Quest 300, a shorter race that finishes at Pelly Crossing.

The thrill of being surrounded by so many excited pups, a spirited Yukon Quest crew and a team of international volunteers carried through for the remainder of the week.  I'm already looking forward to next year's Quest!

Stayed turned for more photos from the Pelly Crossing Checkpoint in the coming days.

For more information and current standings on the Quest please visit their official website at www.yukonquest.com

More images from the start in Whitehorse can be found on my photostream on Flickr.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Year of the Snake

Milk Snake, Mud Lake (Ottawa)

Wishing you all a very Happy Lunar New Year.  According to Chinese Astrology tomorrow marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake - my namesake year.  The next 12 months promise to be exciting, especially for those born under this sign.  
Happy New Year - here's to the neat adventures that lay ahead.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Yukon Quest and the Yukon Quest 300

Yuka Honda on her way to finishing the Yukon Quest 300
Pelly Crossing, Feb 05, 2013

Winter greetings from the Yukon!
February has arrived and with it so have the dogs and their mushers competing in this years running of the Yukon Quest International 1000 mile Dog Sled Race and in the Yukon Quest 300.  
The last few days have been exciting with over 400 dogs travelling through Pelly.
Stay turned for more images and stories from these two events.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.
Cheers for now,