Blog.

5 Environmental Tips for Photographers.

1. Buy Used Gear

This alleviates the constant flow of new gear entering the market. It also lengthens the time materials are used and not discarded. Too often photographers get caught up in buying the newest, best, and shiniest camera's and consequently their skill often doesn't scale with the amount they spend.

2. Use Equipment Extensively then Repair or Recycle

I'm relatively easy on my gear but I do know other professionals who are somewhat careless with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Of course, accidents happen to all of us and once one does, rather than throwing it out or replacing it, repairing it will again aid in preventing those materials ending up in a landfill. Worst case scenario, drop it off to be recycled.

3. Print with Eco-Friendly Material

One of my favourite parts of the photography process is printing my work. With that being said the materials and ink used the produce stunning wall art is not always the easiest on the environment. I still have yet to find a Canada based company who offers recycled material printing or environmentally friendly ink, and due to this, the amount I'm printing has subsided.

4. Don’t Geotag

By visiting uncommon places it prevents the promotion of already heavily trafficked tourist destinations. In addition to lessening foot traffic in common places, you can bring awareness to the subtle beauty that is found everywhere. When posting on social media with a large following do your best to avoid geotagging specific location so there isn't an unsustainable influx of people.

5. Shoot Local

Personally, this tip has been one I had to learn after doing plenty of travel. I'm definitely not suggesting to entirely cut out travel, but participating in a way that doesn't use excess transportation seems important. By photographing your local environment you become more aware of how to share what it close to you. Learning how to communicate what has formed you and how you view the world is not easy, which is why as a photographer it will push you to change your perspective on scenes that are all too familiar.

Thanks for reading and if you have any other ideas I'd love to hear them! It would mean a lot if you sent this to your other photographer friends so we can all work towards using our craft in a way that promotes sustainable practices.

The Voyage to Spirit Island pt. 2.

Engulfed in nearly complete darkness, I lifted the canoe onto the shore to simply drain it out with the internal plea that this wouldn't be foreshadowing to how the trip would go. Somewhat miffed about the sandy, wet seats, we uncomfortably got situated and kicked off from shore to begin paddling toward Spirit Island.

Overall the canoe ride was quite peaceful. We slowly zig-zagged our way along the perfectly calm water in hopes of not tipping over with our cameras. Since I was in the back, I had the responsibility of steering and all I could do to navigate was keep the faintly lit mountains to our right and left in those general directions. It was probably an hour or two into our ride when we started to notice flashes of light above us. We knew there was a chance for a storm in Jasper but after looking at a few sources we concluded it wouldn’t hit us. Another peculiar characteristic of this lighting is that it was silent and seemingly launching from cloud to cloud rather than towards earth. The flashes would momentarily illuminate our desired path but really just created a more eerie ambience. Total silence, complete darkness, motionless water, and aimless navigation all contributed to the sensory deprivation that could have calmed us to sleep if it weren’t for our monotonous paddling.

We eventually arrived at where we thought Spirit Island should be but really had no idea due to the lack of photons. Partially relieved and entirely exhausted we realized about 1.5 hours remained before sunrise. Unsure of what the area offered in terms of terrain or wildlife we decided to attempt sleeping in the canoe for a while. With ease, I managed to fall asleep as we lulled along in the water. If it wasn’t for the gentle knocking occurring from the canoe nudging the shore I could have slept a while longer. The first time it happened I paddled us out again and fell right back to sleep. Apparently, Elliot had to do the same thing but the third time it was just bright enough for us to see the outline of the trees and a dock. As soon as we glided into the dock I was internally ecstatic, knowing that the light was soon to come and I was about to get the image we put in all the work for.

It quickly grew brighter, which allowed us to start scouting out different compositions in hopes of finding something unique. Considering this is a location with millions of photos acquired while standing on the observation platform it wasn't likely that we were going to achieve anything groundbreaking but the pursuit is my favourite adrenaline rush. The light seemed to be optimal as it lit up the cliff faces in the background. In the one image I found a few rocks with intriguing cracks and used those as a foreground but what I really wanted was some of the warped driftwood off to the right. Unfortunately, the angles just didn't line up even after attempting to make it work for at least 45 minutes. Regardless of the light, we shot an abundance of images and I was just hoping that in my exhaustion I remembered to focus and use acceptable settings. I guess that's for you to judge by looking at the technical aspects of the images, yet I doubt many people actually care about that part and mostly focus on how the photos make them feel.

Feeling is an integral piece of photography and far too often ignored by the photographer in this somewhat technical art form. The magical, nostalgic, nuance, atmospheric sensation you are able to portray in a single frame is only half of the experience. Often photographers miss being aware of the emotions they feel while creating an image. Spirit Island is one of those places where I was nearly brought to tears by how wonderful the scene and experience as a whole was. Increasingly I force myself to make a mental note of how I felt at a location, whether I'm pulled over on the side of the road or have hiked multiple kilometres to a mountain pass, the image should erupt emotion from the viewer. This comes into play immensely when editing because it's at that point I can decide to punch you in the face with excess vibrancy and clarity or decide to have a more muted, soft presentation.

I've somewhat strayed away from the riveting story and fallen into photography philosophy so let's resume. After a certain amount of time you can only shoot so many images of the same tree island so I was looking around for different scenes. While Eliot and I were both walking down the path, in search of a new angle, I saw something emerge from the trees. Usually, I'm stoked to see wildlife but the common trend is that whenever I have my long lens I see nothing and when I don't everything seems to present itself. However, in this situation, I was immediately filled with trepidation because it was a bear! We slowly walked back to the dock where our bear spray was as it sauntered down the path towards us. Our gear was scattered all over so we didn't have time to pack it up but we managed to get the bear spray out and a leg in the canoe right as it reached the front of the dock.

Of course, I have to end it there this week. Thank you so much for reading and come back for the third and final part of our time at Spirit Island. If you're enjoying this story and images it would mean a lot if you could share it to social media or just with a friend. Have a great week!

Travel Writing Contest!

     I'm always so thankful for each of you who takes the time to read what I write and share. Recently, I entered a writing contest with the travel company I went to Tibet with in 2015, Extravagant Yak. To my amazement, I made it to the top 10 and in order to advance to the finals I need as many public votes as possible, which is where you come in. It would mean the world to me if you followed the link below, scrolled to the bottom of my article, and clicked the 'like' button. Having the opportunity to win a trip to Tibet is incredible and I know with the help of the community around me I can get one more step closer. Thanks again for the support and feel free to share the link with anyone you know who might enjoy what I wrote about. 

https://extravagantyak.com/blogs/writing-contest/mason-unrau

Discovering the Hidden: Drumheller.

     As many of you know, I feel like I’m at healthiest when I’m out in nature taking photos. A month or so ago I was fortunate enough to take the day to go to Drumheller all alone just for photography. I could say a lot about a few images below but for each one of them I allotted ample time to compose, think about, and process the scene in front of me. Even though there wasn’t a stunning sunset or even the best light I managed to make due with what the weather provided and created a few, somewhat, compelling images. 

     Every image I made was at least a 30 second exposure to allow time for the clouds to streak across the sky and add some interest to what would have been a boring upper portion of the frame. If I had to narrow it down I think my favorite image is the one right after the suspension bridge. The primary reason I enjoy it is because of the cloud that streaks perfectly above the old mining structure. Fortunately, the clouds had been moving pretty hastily that day so I only had to wait a few minutes for it to get into the desired location and then I took a 30 second exposure. In addition to the little white cloud, I love the contrast between the light and dark hills on both sides, the sunlight barely streaming over the left hill to light up the foreground, the motion in the grass, and most of all the stark tones. A lot of the time its not the grand scenes that I get excited about but more so the subtle overlook locations that leap out at you only after spending time with them.

     I hope you enjoyed this batch of images and I look forward to sharing another post with you next week! Thanks for reading and if you got this far I have a secret for you; I’m making YouTube videos now!

Barrier Lake Instameet.

     You stuck around! Thanks for hanging out while I was gone. I genuinely appreciate it and even though it technically wasn’t that long since my last post, it feels like a lot has happened. The need to have something to work towards weekly or monthly is a must for me and currently that’s this blog. I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a YouTube show where I simply go through some of my photos and tell the stories behind them or go through the editing process but who knows if I’ll have time for that. Just to catch you up, my hours at work got cut so now I either have to find another part time job or dive head first into my personal photography career and other creative endeavors! Since Celine isn’t working yet I might have to look for that part time job, but dang it’s tempting, scary, and exhilarating to ponder the possibility of investing 20 hours a week into whatever creative outlet I desire. Speaking of creative outlets, I also started a terrarium business, called Capsule Terrariums (Instagram / Facebook), but I’m not sure how it will do since this first batch didn’t sell immediately like they did last summer. Anyways, Celine is graduated, we’re moved back to Bonnyville, Celine’s getting back from China on Wednesday after two weeks of hiking, Aspen our puppy is growing fast, Herb the fish is still swimming, the “Where’s the Line” podcast with Caleb is still in development, and once again my mind is being infiltrated with fantasies of where my next career move should be since I don’t have the hours I’m used to. 

     I hope that quick update is sufficient for you all and if you have any insight, advice, or wisdom for where or what I should do for money I’d love to hear it. Something else that’s been on my mind lately is how can I use my photography for a more important cause than mere marketing material. By no means do I think marketing or the industry is bad but it feels helplessly shallow for me. I was thinking it might be cool to start an environmental initiative / organization that partners with Church’s to do something to help the environment since were explicitly called to be responsible in the way we live. I don’t think there’s anything like that right now but who knows and it’s an extremely rough concept right now. I digress…

     Now to the part I’m always passionate to talk about; the photographic process and why the first image below is my favorite. If you don’t agree with my personal choice that’s fine but here’s why I chose it. To start, the combination of six 30-second exposures creates movement in the clouds that helps give a dreamy appearance. Also the colours were at their peak while I was taking the succession of photos and lastly the foreground of ice and snow create a path that leads your eye to the mountains. Comment below on which image is your favorite and for those of you who don’t know what an Instameet is, it’s where people on Instagram meet up in real life to take photos and hang out. Maybe that sounds sketchy to some of you but when there are a lot of people who are all getting together with the key purpose to take gnarly photos I think it’s exciting.

     I’m going to conclude with admitting that my competitive spirit, that was once alive and well when playing sports, silently comes through when taking photos with other photographers. Something about other people creating images of a similar subject stirs up this drive to make sure I have the best final result. But seeing some of the other photographers working the scene really reminded me that there’s no such thing as being the best photographer and that it’s all subjective... With that in mind I just need to focus on practicing this craft and improving my own skills. I’m hoping to finish up the posts from past shoots and get up to date with my life so that I actually have to go out weekly in order to have new content and not rely on past excursions. As always, thanks so much for reading and checking out my images.