Posted by: danilefrancois | August 16, 2010

Go West Trip Journal – Days 3,4,5, 6 and 7

June 12th

Got up for another sunrise, and after learning the previous morning the only place for sunrise is Vermilion Lakes. As hoped the area did not disappoint. I caught some awesome alpine glow on the first morning without thick cloud cover and fog. Saw a beaver in the distance, which was real special. Since there weren’t any clouds in the sky, I headed back to the hotel to get ready for the day. Our plans for that day was to head to Drumheller, AB. This is not the place you wanna go to under clear skies and hot sun! It really did make it feel like a desert. We were there during the middle of the day so I didn’t take any photos of the area. It had potential, but needed the right light to set it off. We instead explored the dinosaur museum. Saw lots of bones. ūüôā Then it was on to Edmonton for the rest of the weekend.

How I do

How I Do - A photo of me taking a photo. Photo by: My Mom

Alpine Glow

Alpine Glow - Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes

June 13

Spent the day in edmonton not taking photos..:( Then headed back to Banff in the evening.

June 14

On this day we had planned to go to the Athabasca Glacier and explore the area, but as usual, it was raining. So instead we took a drive through Kananaskis Country in the rain. Since this was June 14th the section of Highway 40 through Kananaskis Country was closed. Due to open June 15th. That gave us a laugh for sure. So we followed the sign that said Canmore. This road started out kind of paved but then turned into a gravel road. Along the drive we came across 2 groups of firemen who were scouting for control burn areas. There were signs warning us of control burns in the area. The road seemed to never end, and the scenery was beautiful even in the rain. Eventually we came across this really crazy semi narrow road right on side of the mountain and water directly next to it on the other side. After this crazy road came a crazy hill. This was a narrow, steep winding grade down to the town of Canmore. We ended up out near the Grassy Lakes in Canmore (which I googled later and am kicking myself we never stopped to go there) We saw a loon in the reservoir area by the Nordic Center. After that exciting drive we headed back to Banff for the evening and sunset. Of course playing it safe and knowing there were still many more things to get we went to vermillion lakes for sunset. We ended up catching some interesting clouds around the mountains. As the sun was setting the light was bouncing off the clouds between the mountains and it looked so much like the clouds were fire and the side of the mountains were engulfed.

Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country - Neat rocks


Loon - Canmore AB

Clash of The Gods

Clash of The Gods - Vermilion Lakes

Blanket of Light

Blanket of Light - Vermilion Lakes

Special Light between the mountains.

June 15

On this day we needed to head to Edmonton once again, but this time we took the scenic route through the mountains. We started out the day with a bull elk in our hotel parking lot and Japanese tourists trying to get a photo while getting too close. We then headed on our way through construction just outside Lake Louise and then on to the Icefields Parkway. After not seeing any bears so far during this trip I was very excited to be on this road as it is a wildlife hotbed. Not even 30 minutes on the road, we came across a black bear in the ditch, just eating away. Then we stopped at Bow Glacier and Bow Lake for a walk around and check out the sights. Clouds were very low and it looked like it was going to rain/snow. We were going to stop at Peyto Lake, but apparently the road to it was closed… according to the sign?.. I wasn’t exactly clear about what went on there. But I didn’t get to see it. About an hour after seeing the first bear, we came across 3 more! 2 black bears, this time a mother and an older cub were eating away along the side of the road at the base of a glacial riverbed. While I was photographing the bears, my mother pointed out a coyote on the top of the riverbed. The bears were oblivious to the coyote. He didn’t stay long, only long enough for me to get 5 shots. As we left the bears in peace we saw another bear about .5km past the other 2, but we didn’t stop. We drove up a big mountain, saw a bunch of waterfalls and some amazing rock layers. Since the climb in elevation our rainy day turned into snow. We came to Parker Ridge and it was covered in snow and couldn’t see anything around us but snow blown trees. We get to Athabasca Glacier and its completely covered by the fog of snow and not visible at all! About 10 minutes past Athabasca Glacier, we got a big surprise, out of the fog and snow there appeared a MASSIVE waterfall known as Tangle Falls. Amazing little gem. Then on to Jasper we went. Didn’t end up making it to Maligne¬†Lake or Medicine Lake, or the Jasper Lake Sand Dunes. Go to Edmonton for dinner.

Good morning elk.

Black Bear - Icefields Parkway

Black Bear - Icefields Parkway

Black Bear - Icefields Parkway

Black Bear - Icefields Parkway

It's In The Air - Coyote - Icefields Parkway

Black bear

Black Bear - Icefields Parkway


One of many waterfalls along the Icefields Parkway


Neat rocks on a mountain side - Icefields Parkway


Snowy trees near Athabasca Glacier

Tangle Falls

Tangle Falls - Icefields Parkway

June 16th

Last day with the family, before the headed back to Ontario and left me behind in Alberta =D. We said our goodbyes to family in Edmonton and then headed to Calgary to catch their flight home. Said bye to my family and then waited for Grant Mills to pick me up and start out 5 day trip. We headed to Banff for the night but stopped in Canmore to catch some neat clouds instead of sunset.


Canmore's interesting clouds.

Posted by: danilefrancois | July 30, 2010

Go West Trip Journal – Day 2

June 11th:

Another early 4:30am morning wake up for sunrise. On this morning my plans were to find another spot within Banff to take shots. We ended up at the parking lot area of the Banff Gondola which had an alright view of the town and mountains. As the sun started to rise I realized the comp just wasn’t going to work. We packed up everything quick fast and headed back to the Vermilion Lakes. The fog was thick in the valley. As we came around the first corner into the Vermilion Lakes area, we saw a herd of around 15 elk, including 5 elk calves crossing the road. We waited for them to get up on the hill before we passed them as to not scare them. We parked the car just past them and I got out and quietly set up. We watched them graze the hillside. One of the males kept his eye on me tho. No funny business! Took a bunch of shots of them in the fog and watched a calf¬†nurse, which was pretty amazing! Got some foggy landscape shots before we left the lake area.

The sun still hadn’t fully risen yet so we decided to take the Trans Canada Highway towards Calgary to find some mountain ranges we saw coming into Banff. We ended up stopping on the side of the road and just watching the sunlight bounce off the clouds ¬†hovering over the dark mountain and fog covered valley.

That afternoon we took a trip to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Landscapes weren’t what I was looking for so I turned my concentration towards to birds. Saw many birds I have never seen before like the Steller’s Jay, Gray Jay and Clark’s¬†Nutcracker. Lake Moraine’s water was very low due to the time of year we were there. When I went back less than a week later it was¬†noticeably¬†higher.

Headed back to Banff for the late afternoon and checked out the Hoodoos within Banff on Tunnel Mountain. Lighting wasn’t the best but the area was still¬†picturesque. Next up was an evening gondola trip to the top of Sulphur Mountain.¬†¬†We were planning on staying up there for sunset but the last gondola down was at 9pm and the sun sets at 10pm. We stayed until almost 8pm and the sun wasnt even close to setting. So that was a bit of a disappointment. There was a random rainbow in the valley while we were up there.

Spent part of the evening scouting sunset places but all the clouds started to runaway so we called it a night and went to sleep early in anticipation for another early morning.

Here are some photos from the second full day in the Canadian Rocky Mountains:

Among the Fog

Among The Fog - Elk at the Vermilion Lakes

From Highway 1

Shot from the Trans Canada Highway - Banff, Alberta

Lake Moraine

Lake Moraine

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker - Lake Louise

Steller's Jay

Steller's Jay - Lake Louise

The Hoodoos

The Hoodoos - Banff, Alberta

Gray Jay

Gray Jay - On top of Sulpher Mountain, Banff, Alberta


Rainbow In The Mountains - Banff


Overview of The Town of Banff

Posted by: danilefrancois | July 29, 2010

Go West Trip Journal – Day 1

June 9th:

Left rainy Hamilton, Ontario at 7:15am and arrived in equally rainy Calgary, Alberta at 9:15am local time. It rained all the way to Banff. Bummed around town all day in the rain. Opted to ditch sunset as it was still overcast and raining.

June 10th:

Woke up at 4:00am to shoot the sunrise at the Vermilion Lakes. On out way in we accidently startled a bald eagle from its perch, but it’s new perch made for a good photo op. There was no actual sunrise, but the cloud cover was dramatic enough to enjoy the morning. On the way out of the lakes area, we saw some mule deer in the field and a pair of teals in the first lake. There were a few elk on the road on our way back to the hotel.

Since it was rainy all day, we spent it doing the Lake Minniwanka Loop. Saw lots of animals along the way. At one point I got out of the car a safe distance away from a pair of rocky mountain sheep to get some shots. Then got back into the car when they started to head my way. The male sheep stopped at my car door and stared my camera down. I was sure if it saw my face it would have rammed the car.

We stayed in for sunset as it was raining still, except the rain and clouds broke for 15 minutes as the sun was setting. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to go out to shoot, so I just enjoyed the view from the hotel room.

Here are some photos from the first full day in the Canadian Rocky Mountains:

The Morning Rundle

The Morning Rundle - Vermilion Lakes, Banff

Watching Over

Watching Over - Bald Eagle and Mt Rundle @ Vermilion Lakes, Banff

L'aigle de la perche

L'aigle de la perche - Vermilion Lakes, Banff

Rocky Mountain Sheep

The Stare Down - Rocky Mountain Sheep near Lake Minniwanka

Sitting In The Rain

Sitting In The Rain - Lake Minniwanka

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler - Lake Minniwanka

Posted by: danilefrancois | April 14, 2010

Gone Birding

For the last 3 days I have dedicated my mornings to go birding. I went to a fairly well known area of the city, that is always full of birds and wildlife. Each day brought new things to see.


The Red Wing Black Birds were in high attendance and were VERY vocal. I was happy to see them low in the trees so I could get some decent shots. Along with the many Canada Geese, I saw a Song Sparrow which was a new one for me. I also got the chance to see a Kingfisher flying, and a Wood Duck flying. Over all for the first morning being there it was a pretty good day.


I had to work in the morning, so I wasn’t able to get out to the pond till after noon. I wasn’t expecting to photograph much. I was mainly going to see if there is any different kinds of animals that are out at that time of day. Well at that time of day the turtles are out, and oh boy do they take over the place. There was probably close to 200 turtles. I had got 39 turtles in one shot. Since it was midday, the lighting wasn’t the most friendly.


This morning I once again went back to the pond, this time there was actually cars in the parking lot which was a surprise. So I unpacked my stuff started walking down to the pond when I noticed another big lens in the distance. I went over and said hi and to see what he was shooting. Turns out there was a Teal on the other side of the pond. He let me look through his lens (he said he was shooting at 850mm, totally dwarfed my 100-400L) It was pretty cool to see the Teal, as I had never seen one before. About 45 minutes go buy and I was just about to head home when the bird I’ve been waiting to see for the last 3 days appeared. The Great Blue Heron. I stuck around and watched him fish for another 45 minutes. It was soo cool.

Photos of the GBH in next post.

‚̧ daniiiiii

Posted by: danilefrancois | February 25, 2010

Niagara Falls In The Winter

Niagara Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Canada (and USA), and most of the tourist season is spring, summer, fall. There isnt much traffic in the winter so it is up to us locals to keep the place alive.!

Winter in Niagara Falls is my personal favourite out of all the seasons. The snow, the contrast of the water and the soft winter light is always sooo beautiful. Not to mention the lack of tourists so its easy to get around and park.

At the beginning of this month I got my drivers license so now my photography limitations on locations has been lifted. This month I got up bright and early before the sun even rose. Checked outside to make sure it wasnt too cloudy, I saw stars so I was happy (it was supposed to be overcast). I got my stuff ready and was out of the door by 5:40am. Swung by the mandatory Tim Horton’s for my morning cup of French Vanilla cappuccino and I was on the highway heading to the Falls.
It was still dark so i couldnt see the falls when I got there. I found the parking lot. No parking between midnight and 6am, I look at my clock… 6:06am and it was FREE.. awesome!

I gathered my stuff form the car, walked across the new foot bridge over the roadway and walked through the building and exited right beside the falls. Took 2 steps and promptly fell on a patch of black ice in the shadows on a brick sidewalk. I managed to scrape my knee, but i did NOT spill my coffee! So after my fall that no one saw i set my camera up and took some test shots of the falls at night. Didn’t work out as i hopped. Since i had the place to myself, which was an eerie feeling, i had any and all vantage points covered. I found my spot, took some panos and then waited for sunrise… which was at 7:08am.

I always enjoy my time at Niagara Falls. I recommend if you want a unique view of the falls that not everyone gets to see, I say go in the winter!

Posted by: danilefrancois | February 25, 2010

New Website

So it seems that every couple months or so I get sick of my website design and remake it. It was just 2 weeks ago that I had redone it for the like bazillionth time. I was happy with the bones of the site and the galleries, but I wanted to add more options so I wouldn’t have to redo it for another year.

So right now I am in the process of putting everything together and hopefully have it ready for launch the first week of March. I am very excited with all the new things, including this blog!

Thanks for reading!

Posted by: danilefrancois | February 24, 2010

First Post

Welcome to my WordPress Blog. I plan on updating this with new adventures and photos. Along with my own work, I will post links to other artists and photography related tips.

Thank you for reading!!

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