Posts Tagged "prairie"

Ian Toews’ Grasslands film screening in Saskatoon

Posted by on 14. April 2015 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Ian Toews’ Grasslands film screening in Saskatoon

Ian Toews’ Grasslands film screening in Saskatoon

Saskatoon audiences will have an opportunity to view the poetic documentary about Saskatchewan grasslands this week. The film, produced by Gemini award winning filmmaker Ian Toews, will be shown on big screen at the Frances Morrison Central Library theatre, 311 – 23rd Street East in Saskatoon on Thursday, April 16, 2015 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There is no admission charge and everyone is invited; bring along a friend or two. Following the screening, author and naturalist Trevor Herriot will provide an update on the state of the province’s grassland, and the work of Public Pastures – Public Interest (a citizen group that draws together rural and urban Canadians who share an interest in conserving public grasslands in Saskatchewan). Author Candace Savage will lead the discussion that follows. We will finish the evening with an informal get-together and refreshments.     The Grasslands documentary is a love letter to Saskatchewan prairies: endangered Greater Sage Grouse perform their mating ritual, herds of bison roam the vast open landscapes. We hear from ranchers and First Nations about their connection to the land. Conservation biologists explain the complexity of protecting the precious remnants of native prairie.     “This film illustrates the beauty and fragility of the grasslands ecosystem, threats to its preservation and efforts to sustain it,” said Trevor Herriot. “The film has been drawing enthusiastic audiences all over the province, a testament the value that Saskatchewan people place on our grasslands. It is an inspiration to those working to preserve this heritage for future generations.” “I wanted to convey that prairie was an expansive, flowing mass of grasslands. And then show people what it is today and what is being done to preserve it,” said the filmmaker and producer Ian Toews.     Originally from Saskatchewan, Toews earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film production from the University of Regina. His works are primarily concerned with the natural environment and often, its degradation. He is the producer, director, and DOP of 7 short films, more than 60 television episodes, and 5 full-length documentaries. Ian Toews’ films and videos have been widely acclaimed and awarded with numerous international awards, including the Grand Prix at the Tampere International Film Festival, the Jury Award at the New York Exposition of Short Film, Canadian Film & Television Producer’s Association Indie Award, 5 Gemini Award nominations, a Canadian Screen Award nomination, and a 2008 Gemini Award win for Best Arts Documentary Program or Series for the long-running arts series “Landscape as Muse”. Toews has screened his films in over 50 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The official Grasslands movie web site: www.grasslandsdocumentary.com You can see the trailer at vimeo.com/102805861 * Portions of this blog post contain information from a press release that I received this morning.      ...

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Stegner House Dinner and Art Exhibit

Posted by on 27. February 2015 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | Comments Off on Stegner House Dinner and Art Exhibit

Stegner House Dinner and Art Exhibit

If you happen to be near Eastend, Saskatchewan on Saturday, February 28th, do not miss the 28th Annual Stegner House Dinner and Art Exhibit. This event is a fundraiser put together every year by the Eastend Arts Council in efforts to to keep the Stegner House Artist Residency up and going. The Stegner House residency program is available to writers, visual and performing artists from around the world. Follow the link if you are interested in spending some time in Eastend to explore and photograph this unique part of the Canadian Prairies. The 2015 residency schedule is completely booked up, so do not delay with your application for 2016.     One of my large canvas prints will be on display and sale during the fundraising dinner. This canvas was part of the Visions of Eastend Travelling Exhibition that toured around Saskatchewan and Alberta over the last few months. Image of the sunset over rolling prairie hills was captured at the Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, the Nature Conservancy of Canada property near Claydon. OMB is about 45 km south-west of Eastend. This shot of canvas on display is by Saskatchewan artist Petrea Jensen. Trea put an incredible amount of work in organizing the traveling exhibit and I would like to express my gratitude for all of her efforts and dedication.     Bring the wallet with you  – this will be a perfect opportunity to support a good cause and take home a great art piece (in my not-so-humble opinion). And if you decide not to purchase any of the art pieces on display, you will have a chance to win a copy of the Great Sand Hills book as a door prize. The dinner will take place at the Eastend Memorial Hall, 135 Oak Street N. Cocktails start at 5:30 p.m. Main dinner is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the performance by singer & songwriter Catherine Lewans. Check out this cool video of her singing Amazing Grace inside an empty grain bin. I newer new that graineries could have stunning acoustic properties. Well, having a singer with great voice helps too. Guest artists, Saskatchewan poets Doris Bircham and Anne Slade will read some of their works. Doris is a wonderful lady who lives on a ranch just east of Maple Creek. I was fortunate to be able to contribute to Doris’ book of poetry Where Blue Grama Grows. My image of a prairie landscape in Cypress Hills close to her home graces the book cover. I also took the artist’s portrait.     Hope you can make it to the Stegner House Dinner and Art Exhibit. It will be a great evening....

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The Last Cowboy – a short documentary film about the human cost of PFRA pasture closures

Posted by on 5. December 2014 in Blog / Journal, Ranching | 4 comments

The Last Cowboy – a short documentary film about the human cost of PFRA pasture closures

A few days ago a friend alerted me to a marvelous and touching documentary film about Jim Commodore, a retired cowboy at the Val Marie PFRA Community Pasture. This 6-minute documentary conveys a message about the human cost of the Community Pasture System closure, told through the eyes of a long time cowboy Jim Commodore. The Last Cowboy was produced by Megan Lacelle and Kaitlyn Van de Woestyne, journalism students at the University of Regina. Jim Commodore was born at the Val Marie PFRA pasture in 1941 and spent his working career as a cowboy on the federally run community pasture. In a very humble and personal way, Jim conveys a message about the importance of maintaining healthy prairie environments for the benefit of rural communities, everyday people and the ranching culture of southwest Saskatchewan. Jim talks about the need to care for the livestock, for the grass and water, and the need to “always hold the balance”. The Community Pasture Program was initiated after the Great Depression in the 1930s, with a goal of stabilizing the drought-ravaged land and assisting small to medium-size mixed farm operations. After the federal government pulled out of the Community Pasture Program in 2012, Jim, like many other Saskatchewan residents, did not expect that politicians would shut down “probably one of the most successful programs the federal government has ever conducted”. Here is the mini documentary The Last Cowboy by Megan Lacelle and Kaitlyn Van de Woestyne, posted here with permission.   The Last Cowboy from Megan Lacelle on Vimeo.  Val Marie PFRA Community Pasture is located northwest of Grasslands National Park. It is the largest community pasture in Saskatchewan, with over 41,256 hectares (101,946 acres) of strikingly beautiful native prairie. The Frenchman River slowly meanders through the pasture, with rugged valley slopes adding to its appeal. Home to several species at risk, the Val Marie PFRA community pasture is a national treasure, and needs to be safeguarded and sustained for the benefit of future generations. This federally managed pasture is set to close in 2017. It will be transferred to the province of Saskatchewan, which plans to either sell the land or lease it to a yet-to-be-formed pasture patron association. The most poignant moment in the documentary is when Jim laments that the Val Marie community pasture might share the same destiny with him: “I am closing down too. I am at that stage in my life, so I guess, we are closing down together”   I have put together a photography tribute to the life of cowboys on PFRA community pastures, hard-working people who have been looking after the federal community pastures in the Prairie Provinces for over 75 years. At the end of that post, I included a few links to articles about the impact of federal Community Pasture Program closures on small rural communities. I would also recommend a recent article by Andrea Hill published in The Star Phoenix, Still at home on the range. Andrea writes about the impact of federal pasture closures on pasture managers and riders, and how they are adjusting to the change....

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Saskatchewan grasslands: a place like no other

Posted by on 12. September 2014 in Blog / Journal, News & Events, Ranching | Comments Off on Saskatchewan grasslands: a place like no other

Saskatchewan grasslands: a place like no other

I will be presenting an illustrated talk at the Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Regina on Friday, October 31, 2014 (1:30 p.m.): Saskatchewan grasslands: a place like no other Saskatchewan grasslands are magical, wide open spaces that support an incredible diversity of life; from the iconic plains bison and pronghorn antelope, to rare and endangered species such as Black-footed Ferrets and Greater Sage Grouse. Grasslands are also home to ranchers who depend on healthy grasslands to sustain their livelihoods. With less than a quarter of Saskatchewan’s original grasslands still remaining, there is a growing sense of appreciation for the beauty and benefits that grasslands provide to rural communities. In this beautifully illustrated presentation, I will take the audience on a journey of discovery through our unique prairie landscapes. Date: Friday, October 31, 2014 Time: 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Location: Gallery Building Room 106, Centre for Continuing Education – Lifelong Learning Centre, 2155 College Avenue beside Darke Hall, University of Regina, Saskatchewan Course fee: $10 (includes coffee). To register for this non-credit course, visit the CCE web site     Non-credit courses at the Lifelong Learning Centre are designed to be taken for personal interest and to realize the joy of learning. They are creative and intellectual, with no formal education required. Realize the joy of learning at the Centre for Continuing Education and its Lifelong Learning Centre!  ...

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A short visit to prairies of southern Saskatchewan

Posted by on 31. August 2014 in Blog / Journal | Comments Off on A short visit to prairies of southern Saskatchewan

A short visit to prairies of southern Saskatchewan

August went by in a blink of an eye. At least for me this year. I have been preoccupied with efforts to finish my thesis (I am currently enrolled in a Master of Sustainable Development program at the University of Saskatchewan). A self-imposed restriction on travel & photography resulted in a rather slim harvest of images. A week ago I had to attend a meeting in Val Marie, just a stone throw from Grassland National Park. An opportunity to take my camera gear on a short jaunt and deal with the nagging withdrawal symptoms. Last year Parks Canada started an extensive trail construction on the iconic 70 Mile Butte in West Block of Grasslands NP. Explanation we received from Parks Canada staff is that the new trails had to be built because of erosion and impact on vegetation due to increasing foot traffic. Thanks to the unfortunate combination of badly designed trails, use of heavy machinery on soils that a prone to erosion and a very wet spring,  the trail is in extremely bad shape. You can read more about the mess Parks Canada caused in the Grasslands park in a blog post by the Saskatchewan writer Trevor Herriot. By marking a deep scar on the landscape, the new trails are visible from almost every corner of the 70 Mile and Eagle Buttes. This part of the park will never regain its charm and rugged beauty.     Following the meeting, I had an opportunity to spend a few hours in the park and dust off my camera. After a weekend of heavy rains, the  skies cleared out just in time for us to get an afternoon and evening of blue skies filled with beautiful puffy clouds. The best possible therapy I could have received to lift my spirits.     On the return trip to Saskatoon, I stopped by the Auvergne – Wise Creek PFRA community pasture south of Cadillac, and managed to capture a few prairie landscapes. Hope you will enjoy browsing through.         The last image is a composite of two exposures: the original that you see here and a second exposure with added fill-in flash. The flash head was set to 105 mm setting to narrow down the light beam (I was holding the flash connected to camera with an extension cord and pointed it towards the large rock). I set up the flash exposure to manual setting at 1/4 power, just enough to bring in a touch of extra light on the rock. I wanted to have the artificial light source to be slightly warmer than the ambient, but forgot the colour correction gels in my car. The nice light on the clouds you see in the background was fading rapidly and I figured that I could miss the photo opportunity if I ran to the car to fetch the gels. Later on in post-processing I increased the global temperature of the exposure with flash (“warmed” up the exposure), and opened the two exposures as layers in Photoshop (chose the option in Lightroom under Photo > Edit In > Open As Layers in Photoshop). The images were perfectly aligned so I just ordered them in a way that the exposure with fill-in flash was “below” the straight-on shot. Then I used the eraser tool and carefully deleted part of the image with the rock so the layer below became visible. This allowed me to have a precise control of brightness and light tone on the granite rock....

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