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Stories and images about nature and photography on the Canadian Prairies

Nature photography with smartphones

Posted by on 1. May 2017 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | 1 comment

Nature photography with smartphones

Mark your calendars – I will lead a nature photography walk to Donna L. Birkmaier Park during the 2017 NatureCity Festival in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Learn how to use your smartphone to capture beautiful nature and landscape images you will be proud to share with your friends and family. Date: Friday, May 26, 2017 Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m. NatureCity Festival is a week-long festival featuring more than fifty nature-inspired events to help you discover, explore and experience nature in Saskatoon. We want to show you the wild side of our city; exercise your creative side and strengthen your understanding and appreciation for urban nature. People in the know claim that the best camera is one you carry with you all the time. With ubiquity of smartphones with cameras of ever-increasing quality, everyone has a potential to create artistic masterpieces. Nevertheless, rules of photography still apply. We will review images that you take along the trail and I will suggest possible improvements. Of course, if any improvements need to be made. What to bring: any type of a cell phone with a built-in camera, a snack, drinking water, insect repellent and a wind-proof jacket. We will be walking on rough terrain; please bring shoes with adequate ankle support, and you do not mind if they get slightly muddy (the best pictures are found off the beaten path). Event will be cancelled in case of heavy rain. There is no cost to participate. Location: Donna L. Birkmaier Park in Saskatoon. This is a naturalized park with ponds and wetlands rich in native species of trees, shrubs, flowers and all kinds of wildlife. More information about interesting thinks to see in the park, check out the publication by Saskatoon Nature Society “Nature viewing sites in and around Saskatoon” We will meet at the parking lot west of the ponds, near the intersection of Taylor Street East and Slimmon Road. How to get there? Drive east on Taylor Street East. After crossing the intersection with Boychuk Drive and Herold / Briarwale Road, take the next left (opposite Slimmon Road) and park in designated area. The closest public transit bus stop is on Pawlychenko Lane, near the intersection with Slimmon Road. From there, walk 200 m north of Slimmon Road and cross Taylor Street East to the trail entrance. Location coordinates: 52° 06′ 10.6″ N, 106° 33′ 26.0″ W Full event schedule for the 2017 NatureCity Festival is listed at www.wildaboutsaskatoon.org/festival-calendar...

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2017 Croatia Photography Tour announced

Posted by on 12. November 2016 in Blog / Journal, Workshops | Comments Off on 2017 Croatia Photography Tour announced

2017 Croatia Photography Tour announced

Details and pricing for the 2017 Croatia Photography Tour have been finalized. Join me for a two-week photography adventure tour to Croatia, one of the most beautiful regions of southern Europe. Explore and photograph majestic medieval castles, ancient Roman palaces, turquoise waters of Plitvice Lakes National Park, charming coastal town of Rovinj and the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, the walled city of Dubrovnik. We will visit and photograph six out of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites present in Croatia. When: October 2 – 14, 2017 Cost: Cdn$ 3,250 per person (based on double occupancy, all taxes included). Single room supplement is Cdn$ 400 Group size: minimum 8, maximum of 15 participants Registration deadline: March 15, 2017 Visit the 2017 Croatia Photo Tour page for more information.     One more announcement: next Tuesday, November 15, 2017 (7 – 9 pm) I will give a presentation for the Regina Photo Club titled “Photography with a purpose – reflections by a conservation photographer” I will share my experiences working in the field of conservation photography; efforts to capture hearts and minds and inspire deeper connection with nature. As part of the presentation, I will play several slide shows of Saskatchewan landscapes set to music. Open to the public. Location: St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, 3337 – 15th Avenue (corner of 15th Ave and Montague St) in Regina, SK. Please note: the meeting room is only accessible from the Montague St. entrance. There is no dedicated parking lot; park on the street anywhere in the area at no cost....

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“Croatia from Above” photography exhibit opens in Zagreb

Posted by on 11. June 2016 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | Comments Off on “Croatia from Above” photography exhibit opens in Zagreb

“Croatia from Above” photography exhibit opens in Zagreb

“National Geographic – Croatia from Above” photography art exhibit re-opened a few days ago in my hometown of Zagreb, Croatia. To make the artwork more accessible to citizens and visitors, the outdoor displays have been set up in one of the most beautiful open spaces in downtown Zagreb, city park Zrinjevac. This is a major photography art exhibit, a culmination of seven years of intensive field work and preparation by the author Davor Rostuhar. Rostuhar used aeroplanes, helicopters and drones to capture Croatia’s natural and cultural beauty. The exhibit had its premiere two years ago; it was since set up in 19 Croatian cities as well as in Milano, Italy during the EXPO 2015. Croatia from Above has been seen by over 1.2 million viewers, and has become the most visited Croatian photography exhibition. After the Zagreb showing closes on June 28, 2016, the exhibit will be displayed in several other Croatian cities: Porec, Veli Losinj, Zadar, Korcula and Samobor (full schedule is listed here: www.croatiafromabove.com/#events). If you happen to travel to Croatia this summer, you should definitely include it in your itinerary; I might be able to see it when I go home this October. You can view some of the stunning aerial images on the project web site at www.croatiafromabove.com or watch a 4 minute video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZTs0l5qwlk There is also a photography monograph with 200 of the best images printed in 18.9 x 12.6 inch (48 x 32 cm) format at the respected National Geographic publication quality. Each photograph is accompanied by a text describing that specific geologic, historic, economic, ecological, and cultural vignette. The publication cost is 29 euros (approximately Cdn$ 42 / US$ 33)....

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Grasslands on Canada’s top 10 endangered places list

Posted by on 26. May 2016 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Grasslands on Canada’s top 10 endangered places list

Grasslands on Canada’s top 10 endangered places list

The National Trust for Canada (NTC) has released today its latest Top 10 Endangered Places at Risk. NTC is a national charity that leads action to save historic places of cultural and natural significance. The organization’s goal is to inspire Canadians to identify and celebrate their heritage landmarks, cultural landscapes and communities, and conserve them for present and future generations. Two prairie landmarks made the top 10 list: Saskatchewan’s grasslands and wooden grain elevators. These places that define identity, community spirit and a sense of belonging are slowly eroding due to neglect, shift in economics priorities, inappropriate development and weak legislation. First published in 2005, the NTC Top 10 Endangered Places List has raised awareness and supported efforts by local groups working to save them. Incidentally, I have extensively photographed these disappearing natural and cultural icons over 18 years of my travels throughout Western Canada. I shared images and stories with wide audiences about the importance of maintaining these historic places and what they mean to our cultural identity and quality of life. Temperate grasslands are one of the major biomes on the planet. Because grasslands provide a very important source of food for human populations, they are one of the most altered ecosystems we inhabit. The majority of native grasslands in North America have been converted to grow crops for food and fuel and have lost their ability to stabilize the planetary systems. In the 1930s, a combination of unsustainable farming practices and extremely dry climate conditions caused extensive degradation of topsoil. You are probably familiar with the negative consequences of Dust Bowl and the impact on thousands of prairie farmers who abandoned their homesteads during the height of Great Depression. In 1935, Canadian Parliament established the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration with a goal to reclaim badly eroded agricultural lands and manage fragile grasslands through the Community Pasture Program. With a careful, conservation-based management, the CPP was successful in stabilizing and restoring grasslands throughout the Prairie Provinces. Today, 1.8 million acres of grasslands in the Community Pasture Program network represent the last remaining large tracts of prairie habitat, home to many species at risk as well as aboriginal and homestead heritage sites. In 2012, the federal government discontinued the CPP and initiated the transfer of federally managed community pastures to the provinces. Provincial interest in managing the land varies; the government in Manitoba expressed interest in supporting the unified management of pastures with conservation as a strong priority. In contrast, the Saskatchewan government is not interested in supporting conservation-based management and decided to relinquish control to small user groups and market forces. The second heritage icons that are vanishing from prairie landscapes are, once ubiquitous wooden grain elevators. These prairie sentinels are deeply embedded in Canada’s farming psyche. Nearly 6,000 grain elevators used to dot rural landscapes of Western Canada. They formed a sense of identity and belonging to a place. They were symbols of farming life and the strength of rural communities. Changing technology and industrialized scale of contemporary farming made many of the wooden structures obsolete. They have been torn down at an alarming rate. Today, less than 14 percent of the traditional wooden structures still stand. Only 23 elevators have received heritage designation, a minimal form of protection if there aren’t sufficient funds raised by local communities for their...

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Jane Jacobs – a 100 years of progressive urban thought

Posted by on 4. May 2016 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | Comments Off on Jane Jacobs – a 100 years of progressive urban thought

Jane Jacobs – a 100 years of progressive urban thought

Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) an American born journalist and activist, best known for her work on improving the quality of life in urban communities, was born on this day 100 years ago. Jacobs saw cities as ecosystems that had their own structure and dynamic that would change over time according to how they were used. She promoted city planning with higher population density (and criticized car-centric culture of suburban sprawl), advocated for support of local economies, and for mixed use of smaller, more nimble city blocks. In her influential and most cited book, The Death and Life of American Cities, Jacobs argued that urban development and renewal did not respect the rights and needs of most city inhabitants.     Jacobs carried her fight for community-based urban planning to Canada in mid 1960s. After moving to Toronto in 1968, she published six more books about city planning, economics, ethics governance and culture. Jacobs is credited, together with sociologist and historian Lewis Mumford, with inspiring the New Urbanist movement. I can personally relate to her ideas how people can build a solid foundation for their communities (see Jane Jacobs – Ten Big Ideas) especially by: Strengthening social capital – everyday activities and interactions among people that occur in neighbourhoods slowly build up a network of intertwined links between neighbours. This eventually provides a foundation for mutual trust, cooperation and resilience to stress in difficult times, Promoting citizen science – the people best equipped to understand the complexity of urban life (and its connection with the natural elements within city limits) are “ordinary, interested citizens”. With open eyes, and not limited by assumptions imposed by professional training and code of practice, city residents can more freely learn from what they see and encounter in their daily lives.     A strong believer that local residents should have input on how their neighbourhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to become familiar with the places they live in. I am proud to have participated in last three Jane’s Walks, citizen-led walking tours towards community-based city building inspired by the ideas and work of Ms. Jacobs. This year I will lead a nature photo walk to a beautiful prairie landscape on the northeast edge of Saskatoon (more info after the link). Hope you will be able to join us and continue Jane Jacobs’ legacy....

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