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Bike Tour Preparations.

A year ago, I toured the Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada, on four wheels.  Tomorrow, I will begin touring it on two wheels, and that’s just the start of the adventure I am planning.  I am hopping on a train with my bike in a few hours – the first stop is Jasper, but further regions I have in mind for this trip are also the Haida Gwaii, Kluane, and Vancouver Island.  Plans are liable to change (read: evolve) depending on the unpredictable nature of things (weather, people, how I’m feeling on the road), but follow along on Instagram and subscribe to my newsletter to track the journey.  It was so great to share the highlights of last year’s road trip to Alaska, so I’m going to post updates to these places as I go along.  This year, I even went so far as to create the hashtag #pedalpoweredtothewest to organize posts relating to the tour!

If you’d like to meet up along the way, I would love to see your friendly face!  Please shoot me a message here where it’ll go straight to my inbox and we can try and make it work.   I will be checking e-mail intermittently, so it might take me some time to get back to you while on the road (or maybe not if the timing is perfect!).

What else…oh yeah!  Since I am not sure of the exact date I will be coming home, I’ve made a point to tie off any loose ends for outstanding work.  Pertaining to business at the print shop, all existing orders have been fulfilled and new orders will not be taken while I’m away.  For those of you with existing print subscriptions, there is no need to worry about missed deliveries as I have already created your prints and they will continue to be mailed out on schedule by an assistant.

It has been a long time coming, but I have been preparing for this bike tour since February and am eager to hit the road.  Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to.

Building a custom bike with Natural Cycleworks

Step 1: Build a sturdy, dependable bike that is road worthy.  I started this process back in February and, with the help of the good folks at Natural Cycle, built up a custom touring bike around a Soma Saga frame.

Soma Saga without racks

It’s a bike!  After working with individual parts for so long, it was almost magical to see it finally all come together in completion.

Soma Saga with racks and loaded

Step 2: Find ways to carry water and gear on said bike.  I opted for dry-bag like panniers and what I could find lying around the apartment.

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July 27, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Mark Reimer - Love it!! Looks like you’re really enjoying the Saga. I love how you’ve built it up. Where is that photo taken on the sticky-mud double-track, as well as the pine forest? Looks like some excellent riding. Good luck on the tour, travelling by bicycle can’t be beat.

July 27, 2015 - 3:05 pm

David - Thanks Mark. Yeah, I’m loving the Soma build! With a bunch of miles on it now it feels really good and dialed in. I switched out the basket for a randonneur bag just on Thursday and am already stoked on the upgrade.

The muddy double track is up in the Gordon Lake Road area of northwest Ontario. A good place to park on this one is a little ways up the Gordon Lake Road north from the hwy #1 junction (a little ways past the ELA turnoff) or park for free in Blue Lake Provincial Park (north of Vermillion Bay) campground’s overflow lot and ride it the other way. The main road is gravel, half of which is almost single lane but not busy at all. But there’s tons of logging roads like this jutting off it to explore, pristine lakes to cool off in, and even a few abandoned buildings along the way. There’s also a lot of bugs. I spent five days around there back in June and got eaten alive. Might be best to try in a shoulder season.

The pine grove is a little closer to home, over at Bird’s Hill Park.

Cheers!

Postcard from the Winnipeg Folk Festival 2015

Another year, another Winnipeg Folk Festival: while this year was no different in its delivery of wonderful music through intimate workshops and big stage sound, the festival went back to its original 4-day format (previously five days).  Even with the shorter festival, it was packed with great memories and experiences – and as a festival photographer, I gathered a fair number of photos capturing it all!  Unfortunately, my reminiscing has had to be cut short as I am starting a summer cycling adventure tomorrow (first stop: Jasper, Alberta!) and it didn’t seem fair to rush cobbling together a long form photoessay recapping the festival.  Instead, I leave you with a few digital postcards of Folk Fest – a glimpse of the moments that are really sticking out to me right now.  The full photoessay will still be put together, but expect it to be some time in September (subscribe to the newsletter to receive an e-mail when it is posted so you don’t miss it).

In the meantime, here is a quick postcard from the festival campground:

Pope

After darkness falls and the music of the festival site goes silent, the people of the campground carry the spirit of the festival into the night.  It has become a ritual of sorts that Saturday night is a time for fire dancers to work their magic at Pope’s Hill.  On this particular night, the sky echoed the fire dance with quiet lightning all night long.

Carly Dow (and friends)

One of the great things about the Manitoba music community is the mutual support that artists give each other – competition is shrugged away, and friendship is the chosen way.  When a creator releases to the world something they have been working on for a long time, it is a thing to be celebrated.  Such was the case at Carly Dow‘s launch party for her new album, Ingrained – friends gathered, friends performed, friends danced, and all witnessed the essence of the creator shining through her musical creations.

The up-and-coming Roger Roger and the always-awesome Crooked Brothers warmed up the stage for Carly, and all made appearances backing her up throughout the night.

Roger Roger Band on the WECC stage

Roger Roger warms up the stage with their shameless harmonies and storied songs.

Lucas Roger

Feeding off each other, they find a groove that draws the audience in.

Madeleine and Lucas Roger

Named Madeleine Roger and Lucas Roger, can you now understand where the band name Roger Roger comes from?  Together they are a beautiful sibling folk/roots duo.

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May 28, 2015 - 7:10 pm

Carly Dow - Thanks David!! These photos are gorgeous. I’m glad you could be there :)

May 28, 2015 - 10:23 pm

Roger Roger - WOW! What beautiful shots, these are incredible!

June 4, 2015 - 4:16 pm

Danielle - Beautiful series of portraits!

Happy Mother’s Day! (slash: soft Etsy store opening)

Mother

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!  You ladies are superheroes without the capes.

This is a card I made for my Mama Bear – and when I say made, I mean photographed, cut, printed, and even cut/hand-folded the envelope.  As some of you may know, six months ago I bought a photo printer and since have been quietly working to understand the art of print making – in doing so being able to control every fine detail from the moment my camera shutter released to the final print that is exactly as I envisioned it.  As someone who was never satisfied with results coming back from the larger print shops, this is super exciting for me.

One of the products I’ve been working on is greeting cards.  Made from nice and thick paper, each card is blank inside with a high quality matte print on the front and a description on the back.  They come in sets of six, and are curated around specific themes.  A major design consideration was to try and encourage the longevity of each printed photo; each print pops out of the card so that it can be enjoyed even after the mantelpiece is cleared.

These cards went through several design iterations, going back and forth with designers, authors, and photographers across Canada.  In other words, I sent prototypes to talented friends and then we talked nerdy about them.  Thanks folks (you know who you are!) – I’m pretty happy with the final results and hope you are too.

So today, I’m quietly announcing the soft opening of my Etsy store – a place where I am going to be slowly building up inventory of greeting cards, monthly print subscriptions, fine art prints, and other useful print products I have in mind.  There are several curated greeting card sets right up now and the shop linked to on my new shop page: Aurora Borealis, Japanese Gardens, Polar Bears, and The Road Less Traveled.  I invite you to check out what’s available, and maybe even consider picking a set or two up yourself the next time you are needing greeting cards.

And on that note, back to spending the day with mom.  We’re making steak, and I’m pretty excited about that too.

May 11, 2015 - 4:49 pm

Leane - Congrats on this new venture David!

May 13, 2015 - 11:53 am

Kyle - Ummm, yeah! Sign me up – this looks awesome!!

Spirits in the sky.

The aurora borealis are a beautiful wonder of nature.  Over my entire life, I have seen the night sky erupt in dancing northern lights a few times – usually unexpectedly when I am camped in the woods and I happen to poke my head out from the tent in the middle of the night.  Watching them silently move across the sky, it is easy to understand how people have believed them to be spirits of animals and ancestors.  In all honesty, in the awe of the moment it is still easy to believe this.  It really is a magical experience, and one that I have found to be elusive and unpredictable.

Generally, the further north you are the greater your chances are of witnessing the aurora.  This past summer when I was pushing north in the Yukon I had high hopes of seeing some spectacular displays, but these hopes were dashed by evening clouds and short summer nights.  Only on one night, across sections of twilight sky peaking through the patchwork clouds, were lines of aurora.  Enticed, we kept an eye on the sky on subsequent nights, but to no avail – it was just a tease.

My home on the Canadian prairies is on the 49th parallel, which is the far south as far as aurora activity is concerned.  But the prairies are flat and with this comes the advantage of unobstructed views far into the distance.  Without hills to block the view, you can sometimes glimpse the aurora’s green crown on the northern horizon.  When luck would have it, a solar storm bombards the earth with cascades of light particles and there is a very real chance of seeing that faint green crown erupt into a dance across the sky.  Aptly, this past St. Patrick’s Day the green danced over our heads – not to mention the purples, reds, and oranges usually not visible to the naked eye.

On this particular night, I had already been watching the weather satellites closely and was considering going aurora hunting if I could wrangle a couple friends into it – all too often the aurora doesn’t show itself and, on these nights especially, good company is…well, good.  Intense solar flare emissions were on their way, the sky would be dark and moonless for the greater part of the night, and cloud cover looked like it would be minimal.  The conditions were just right for a chance at an aurora show.  Around 8pm, a text from a friend came in just after sunset saying that she could see the aurora from downtown Winnipeg.  Stopping what I was doing, I looked out my window and there they were – and I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to be getting much sleep this night.  It was time to find some dark skies.

Getting a late start, I missed most the early aurora show…well, kind of – I was on the highway and they were dancing over me like spirits.  As I reached my favourite stargazing field however, they faded away into my imagination.  The sky quickly went quiet, as it so often does.  A while later with no new activity, the friends I was with decided to go home and call it a night.  Persistent, I set up my hammock in the cold night air and counted falling stars to pass the time.  A couple of hours later, the late night aurora show commenced and I was glad I had stayed.  An owl to my left began to hoot in his metronomic way and a pack of coyotes started howling in the distance to my right.  The animals were there to bear witness, and so was I.

The full color spectrum of the aurora borealis

Arriving at my favourite stargazing field the greens had already faded, but the the rest of the color spectrum lingered for another moment or two…

The green crown of the aurora borealis

…before fading as well.  As is typical, the crown of the aurora settled on the northern horizon for a couple of hours in nothing but a faint green mist.  At this point it is uncertain when, or even if, the dance will start again.

Aurora borealis crown begins moving

But on this night, just a couple of hours later, striations and bright spots started appearing in the crown as activity began to ramp up.

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April 1, 2015 - 9:48 am

Britney Quiring - So beautiful!!! You did an AMAZING job of capturing their beauty

April 1, 2015 - 12:01 pm

Chuck Leibert - They were beautiful. Thank you for thinking of the bourbon that made them look even better.

April 1, 2015 - 5:43 pm

Miguel Yetman - stunning david just stunning

April 1, 2015 - 9:10 pm

Heather Kingdon Sirkovsky - absolutely gorgeous photos, David!