Llisa Bastard Photography: Blog https://www.llisabastard.com/blog en-us (C) Llisa Bastard Photography [email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Sat, 07 Jan 2023 04:57:00 GMT Sat, 07 Jan 2023 04:57:00 GMT https://www.llisabastard.com/img/s/v-12/u30594865-o498903957-50.jpg Llisa Bastard Photography: Blog https://www.llisabastard.com/blog 79 120 Coffee Grounds and Security Blankets https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2023/1/the-playground Truthfully, the elevation gains ahead of me combined with a backpack that seems to increase in weight every year had been weighing on my mind, and I had been fretting about it since I'd booked the campsite months before. The campsite was crucial to achieving a goal I'd set the year prior, but I had been younger then and probably full of hope and ibuprofen.  Some days, even the simple act of climbing a set of stairs in my house can leave me feeling absolutely gassed, my legs burning. The thought of climbing what would likely equate to over 200 flights of stairs with a 65 pound pack on seemed downright impossible.  And you're right, I could have lessened the strain by paring down the arsenal of camera equipment I had with me on top of the backpacking gear, but to choose between lenses is like choosing which kid is your favourite, and I couldn't stand the thought of leaving the spare camera body behind either. Besides, the sunrises weren’t going to watch themselves and fear about my own physical limitations wasn't going to be enough to keep me at home.  So, with a backpack full of every possible luxury I could cram inside, I stepped on to the trail, cursing the younger more motivated version of myself that had talked me into this kind of suffering. I would just have to take it one painfully slow step at a time.

Considering it was well into the autumn as far as the Rockies were concerned, it was warmer than I had anticipated, which slowed me more than any heavy pack ever could. I tied my bandana around the end of my hiking pole and plunged the fabric over a bridge and into a stream to soak. The cold fabric tied around my neck brought a little bit of relief from the heat as I laboured up the switch backs step after step, after step, after step.  The previous year my friend and I had done a through hike, ending our weekend in the backcountry by hiking down this section of trail. I had recalled the hike out had been long even with gravity on our side. That just meant that the way up was unrelenting. Once the forest began to thin and the views opened up, I would look back at the distance I had gained incredulously, and then I would look up at the distance I had to go... also incredulously.   After hours of slogging uphill, the trail bestowed the gift of a nice long downhill section, followed by the day’s destination. My home for the next few days.  Deep down I knew that regardless of my physical shortcomings, my stubborn streak would not have allowed me to give up and I would have made it to camp eventually, but it was nice not to have to set up my tent in the dark, and I knew that after a bite to eat and shot of whiskey I'd be no worse for wear than when I started. 

Spectacular fall colours along the trail

As I set my pack down and wandered through the campground, whatever trepidation I had about my ability to conquer the strenuous hike was quickly replaced with a growing sense of dread.   I walked down the trail peering through the trees at every single campsite and found no signs of human life anywhere. The campground was completely empty.  With every offshoot trail in the vicinity inspected, the fear of even being able to make it to camp to begin with was quickly being replaced with the unease about being completely alone, several kilometres into the backcountry.  What kind of stupid plan all in the name of photography had I come up with? I chided myself as a sense of dread planted itself firmly in the pit of my stomach. Logically, I knew what I needed to do to be safe in bear country, I knew the no trace principles and the camp was well appointed with bear safe lockers for food and toiletries.  I also knew that if I truly needed emergency assistance, I had with me a satellite device which could summon help.  Besides, any mishaps I may or may not have during the course of the next few days would not be prevented by the presence of other hikers, particularly since I knew I would avoid other people while in the backcountry almost as much as I avoided the other wildlife in the area.  Still, it would be nice knowing other people were around. I checked the last of the campsites and shuffled my way back to where I'd dropped my bag, for now at least, I would be very very alone.

All by myself, don't wanna be...


I'd already tackled one fear by hiking up the never-ending switchbacks in the first place and I wasn't about to let a little bit of abject terror about being all by myself ruin my day. I made myself busy by setting up my tent and rather than worrying about the lack of other people, I made a conscious decision to focus on being grateful for the solitude. After my little camp was set up, I wandered around with my camera in silence, you could call it a meditation of sorts, and soaked in my surroundings with a slow, hesitant smile. I marveled at the small brook trout splashing around in the shallow outflow stream of the lake, their spots blending them seamlessly into the algae covered rocks just under the water's surface. I lifted my face to the sun, closed my eyes and felt the warmth on my skin while I sat in the summer bleached grasses. When I opened my eyes, they came to focus on a smattering of golden larch trees glimmering along on the distant lake shore. I grasped onto my camera should a photo present itself, but it did not.  The afternoon would be for me and me alone.


 Later in the day when the other campers began to trickle in, solitude be damned, I was ecstatic to see them.  The hesitant smile I had been wearing morphed into a perma-grin and I finally started to relax. It's one thing to be grateful for your surroundings, but now I felt I could start to truly enjoy them. I packed away the camera which had been acting as a safety blanket of sorts, had a bite to eat and a little bourbon nightcap and crawled into bed. I was fairly confident that the racket the other campers had been making would be enough to scare away predators while I slept and seeing as how I am still alive enough to write this, I'd say they did a pretty good job.


I had learned a thing or two from my previous camping trips and opted to bring a second sleeping bag along. For once I was actually warm enough, though I still didn’t get much sleep.  Once it was dark out the campers ended their duties as predator security and crawled into their tents, the sound of nylon fabrics and zippers drifted through the valley bottom as weary hikers struggled to get comfortable in their lightweight cocoons. I laid in my own cocoon and listened to the rhythmic beating of my heart in my chest, interrupted occasionally by the sound of wind pouring through the trees, a symphony of wilderness and humanity lulling me to sleep.


At 5:15 my alarm rang, and I laid in the dark listening to the sound of rain drops against the tent until I drifted off to sleep again.


At 6:15 my eyes opened again “Shit! How long was I out for?” I wondered as I fumbled in the dark for my flashlight. I checked my watch. An hour later than I wanted to wake up, I cursed myself as I hastily changed into my hiking clothes and crawled out of the tent. Silently, I navigated tangled tree roots and buried rocks along the trail to the food cache, cleaned myself up, grabbed some snacks and hit the trail.  I waited until I was out of earshot of the sleeping campers before I let out a “Hey Bear” my first line of defense against meeting a wild animal on the dark passageway through the forest.  A defense that ultimately worked, and I reached a nearby lake without incident. 


I rock hopped along the shore, eyes scanning for compositions and bears. The lake was bordered by a steep mountain face opposite me, and a dense dark forest which created the perfect basin to corral both sunlight and wild animals. My ears strained for any sounds of movement in the area, but only a distant waterfall and outflow creek competed for the dominant sound in an otherwise silent locale.  I found a suitable perch in the middle of the creek which consisted of some relatively flat rocks to keep my feet dry and cotton grass for their cheerful little personalities in plant form - although I value them mostly for their foreground potential.  I dropped my bag and set up my tiny island with the usual accoutrements reserved for such an occasion - the camp stove, the coffee and the camera. While the coffee boiled, I huddled under an umbrella shielding myself and the camera from passing clouds which deposited a variety of precipitation ranging between a light drizzle and an all-encompassing aggressive mist. 


Despite the harried state I had rushed out of camp earlier that day, the clouds and precipitation lent themselves well to a very leisurely morning, I snapped a few photos without the chaos that a vibrant and ever-changing sunrise will create. The clouds hung low in the sky and the light remained a constant flat, blue grey. I squirmed around on the small island of rock I had chosen to park, flipping the camera this way and that to make the most of an otherwise unchanging scene all the while my mind was on high alert. Look behind you, look to the forests, listen for movement, like a deer venturing into the wide-open meadow, always on the look out for danger. Sure, I had the ritual of the coffee and camera to ground me while I waited for the sunrise, if it should happen to light up the sky, but on this particular morning it did not.  Without the chaos that erupts trying to fit every composition and exposure known to man into the time it takes for the sun to light up the sky into daylight, I had nothing to distract me from the potential dangers that most likely do not exist in the shadows of the forest beyond my island in the creek.  So, I did what any logical person or deer might do in that situation, I gathered my things and went to find the herd back at camp.



I had packed a pair of rubber soled bunny slippers to pad around camp with, and I donned them as soon as I arrived, located my favourite sitting stump near the lake from which I could watch the trout swim around and proceeded to laze around for the rest of the day while waiting for the sunset to arrive. Admittedly, sunsets are not something I typically `chase` as a photographer,  but to venture this far into the forest and skip out on some half decent light would be irresponsible of me. After about 10 hours of lazing about, I traded my slippers for boots again and fought my way through the brush for a chance at a decent scene.  I'd been thrashing around a particularly boggy part of the lake shore, feet sinking into the muck, tripod flailing above my head as I tried to navigate to a more photogenic and less quick-sand like locale when an excited photographer burst through the trees thinking all the commotion must have been a moose. I'd barely made it to firm ground and was sorting out the tangled legs of my tripod when I sensed the presence of another being and looked up in time to see the look of disappointment on her face as she realized there was no moose, only me, a very clumsy and not very subtle human.  And that is the story of how I met Lynn Martel, author, photographer and all around bad ass mountain woman who, unlike me, hears commotion in the forest and runs toward it rather than far, far away.  Later, Lynn had laughed at the oversized backpack I had with me and insisted on taking a photo before we parted ways, warning me that one day I would be happy to look back and marvel at what I used to carry. 

The view from my sitting spot

The entire point of this backpacking excursion however, was not to make new friends who mistake you for a moose, but to witness sunrise at the mountain pass beyond the camp.  The year prior, when my friend and I had hiked through, we had burst upon the pass and were so moved by it's beauty that we had both wept. We had raced around the meadows like excited children, leaping off of rocks, our tear stained cheeks drying in the mid day sun. Our pendulums swung between fits of happy tears and giggling at the absurdity of bawling our eyes out over a damn mountain.  But later, when another group of hikers emerged from the trees behind us and had the same reaction, their eyes shining with tears, hands clasped around their mouths, I knew we hadn't been over reacting.  If this place could bring us to our knees in adulation of the outside world at mid day, seeing it at sunrise would be a whole other level.


The alarm clock rang out in the dark again, but this time I did not dare close my eyes for a second. I fumbled around in the tent for my flashlight and readied myself for the morning ahead. Once again, I tip toed past the sleeping campers until I was far enough away to begin warning any potential threats of my impending arrival.  The light of the waxing moon assisted my headlamp as I picked out landmarks still fresh in my mind from the previous year. The rock slide, the sentry like old growth forest and even the crossroads in the trail,  all familiar to me even though I'd only set foot there once before. I steadily hiked along the moonlit trail, a little apprehensive as always, but I did not let the apprehension slow my steps, I only let it guide my senses through the dark forest.  Over the years, I`ve learned to calculate how long I will take to hike certain distances and elevations, and I arrived at the pass right on schedule.  In the twilight, I could see the forest open up to a meadow carpeted with golden grasses. A border of golden larches framed the formidable mountain face to the West, gleaming in the pre-dawn light. The place was just as stunning as I had remembered, and I raced across the pass to find the foreground I had made note of the year before.

I arrived at the small ponds to find them completely dried up, the weather conditions the previous year must have lined up perfectly to have both ponds and autumn colours in the alpine. My mind flashed to an image of me hiking here every autumn chasing a nearly impossible scene, not the worst white whale to chase, mind you, but in another 30 years my knees might have something to say about it, and that backpack gets heavier every year.  I pushed the thought out of my head and groveled at the frame laid out before me. A geometric foreground, a mountain vista bathed in blue light, and soon, the sun would come up and paint warmth across the entire scene.   I dug the small stove and pot I had packed along and started warming some water to make coffee.  Photos or no photos, I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be standing there.


As the sun rose, any apprehension I had about the trip, the remoteness, the potential dangers, they all sank into the rocky earth beneath me along with the twilight. And though the skies were a little overcast and grey, the sun was still able to peek through and highlight certain sections of the world around me in little slivers of light, as if to showcase a little larch solo on stage right and then give the boulders centre stage their time in the limelight too. I had 360 degrees of light and shadow and rock and sky to take in, and I sat cross legged, coffee in hand while a pair of Nikons fired away beside me soaking up as much of it as I could.


In the end, the sunrise itself was nothing to write home about, the sky didn't cooperate the way I'd hoped and the light didn't quite dance with the landscape how I'd imagined it would. Even the photos I captured aren't able to come close to what my eyes took in, but maybe that's because film cannot react to light quite the same way as heartstrings do. 


Some day I'll go back, maybe I'll be an old lady by then, unable to haul the heavy cameras or the luxury coffee pot up high mountain passes. I can sense a shift happening already as lenses get left behind and cameras get smaller in favour of lighter packs. It will be a gradual shift I'm sure, but some day I might learn to fully take in the mountains without the safety net those cameras and coffees cast for me.

No trip is complete with the self portrait

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Backcountry Banff camping Photography Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2023/1/the-playground Sat, 07 Jan 2023 04:53:26 GMT
Banff https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/11/banff Having a birthday in January would probably be a lot more fun to celebrate if I lived in the Southern Hemisphere, but I don't. I live in Canada where January means a measly 8 hours of daylight, snow, bitter cold and no fun unless you're a weird cold weather masochist (which I am not).

Every so often, thanks to a warm westerly wind drawn over the Rockies from the Pacific Ocean called a Chinook, I luck out and catch a glimpse of what people born in May must feel like on their birthdays:

Not Vitamin D deficient.

Such was the case of my thirty-fifth birthday, it was plus 8. PLUS EIGHT. In January. Plus eight, in January, in the mountains.  This hardly ever happens, and if you would like to prove how rarely this happens, you may take a look in my closet and see that I do not own any January party appropriate clothing, unless you count my awesome hat which I purchased for $2.00 from my local grocery store three days prior. It functions in all weather.


For the weeks leading up to my birthday, I was sort of tossing the idea of celebrating on a mountain summit somewhere, even contemplating the idea of spending the night alone, shivering in a tent, to facilitate the short day light hours and inevitable hours long slog through knee deep snow.  Instead, two things happened:  The first being that Mr. Bastard had the weekend off from work and suddenly I had a party partner.  The second was that it was plus freaking eight outside!   Suddenly my plans shifted from a solo trip (For the record, I have friends okay? But if you need more context, Google what introverts like to do for fun) to a leisurely weekend in Banff. We checked in to a hotel, and somehow I convinced Mr. Bastard to hike up Sulphur Mountain in the dark with me so we could watch the sun rise from the summit, drink Mimosas and eat cake for breakfast, and that's exactly what we did.

We donned our hiking gear in the comfort of our hotel room and took a leisurely five minute drive to the trailhead to begin our hike. I put on my boot spikes, headlamp and party hat and then we set out on the trail.  You have to love National Park trails, they are such a treat to hike on. Despite the snow, the trail was packed down by thousands of boots before us so we didn't need to worry about post-holing, the trail was wide and despite the elevation gain it was so nicely constructed it hardly felt like you were walking uphill at all. The only off putting thing was the occasional wide open swath of snow can be an avalanche hazard at times, and some weird animal noises in the dark, it's source a cause of much debate as we sauntered up the endless switchbacks.  Mr. Bastard thinks they may have been canine, I think the sounds could have been from deer. At any rate, we were not buried alive or mauled on our hike up so I will count that as a raving success.

Just before dawn we popped out of the trees and next to the Sulphur Mountain gondola and restaurant, a funny thing to see after hiking for so long. We changed in to some dry layers, added some more warm clothes and then scurried around the building towards the viewpoint.  Mr. Bastard took his time to read the signs along the way, but I was almost sprinting up the stairs ahead of him.  

Eventually, Mr. Bastard caught up to me and i's a good thing he did so could have an extra set of eyes with me, having never been there before I was at an absolute loss for where to set up my camera. I had no preconceived ideas of what I wanted to accomplish, no idea where the best vantage points would be and only a vague idea of what the light would do when the sun rose.  Apparently I was madly unprepared for the fact that I had about 240 degrees of good mountains and light to point my camera at, and only a few minute window to capture all of it in.  Whenever I settled in to a particular viewpoint, Mr. Bastard would be there to remind me to look behind me, and sure enough I would let out an excited holler, finish the exposure I was working on and then frantically set my camera up in another location. 

Fortunately, I had scored a bit of beta from a coworker who had been to the area the previous summer and showed me some cell phone photos, I had determined that I should bring a second camera body and my telephoto lens along with my normal wide angle set up.  It was worth carrying the extra weight, so that I did not have to waste time switching lenses, besides I actually like the telephoto shots more than the wide angle view. 

As the sunrise faded in to daylight, we retreated to a sheltered place to eat breakfast birthday cake and sip on mimosas while we waited for the Gondolas to begin running for the day.  After I was full of cake and champagne, I was spoiled to the easiest descent from a summit I've ever done as we floated down the slope in the gondola, our faces glued to the windows half wishing every summit had this sort of access but mostly glad they don't.  

Best. Birthday. Ever.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff National Park Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/11/banff Thu, 12 Nov 2020 17:54:50 GMT
Sunrise up High https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/9/sunrise-up-high I grew up with a love for music, and that love grew into a passion as I entered adulthood and picked up my first guitar.  But despite my love for music, no guitar riff rumbling out of an amp or song blaring from a speaker can compare to the best sounds in life: A creek tossing water over rocks as it tumbles down a valley. Gentle rain falling onto the roof of a tent, particularly if you, the occupant, are tucked safely into bed. A pot of coffee percolating over a gas stove, the rolling boil of water crashing through coffee grounds and the hiss of fragrant steam as it escapes the pot and marks a new day.  This trifecta of sounds greeted me as I woke from my nap and began to ready myself for the morning ahead.

Normally a hike in the dark would cause me a fair bit of anxiety, my heart pounding through my rib cage, a dose of adrenaline making its way through my system while I run through “what could go wrong” scenarios. This particular morning (or should I say night, 3 am should hardly be considered part of a day) the sounds of water in the form of creek, precipitation and coffee set my mind at ease, and I managed to step out the door and into the darkness with much less hesitation than normal.

A few minutes later I arrived at the trailhead, and I’ll admit to taking an extra minute to sit in the safety of my truck, administer myself a short pep talk about why this escapade was even necessary (come on Llisa, you know you could really use the self confidence boost that comes from pushing past fears and achieving a goal, think of how empowered this will make you feel) and also to remind myself that the sunrise waits for no one, and if I was going to get any photos at all I had better get a move on.

Initially, a false sense of bravado carried me up the first kilometre of trail at a steady pace, despite every inch of my body screaming to turn back to safety.  My voice meek as I called out to warn wildlife of my impending arrival. Eventually, my feet found their rhythm as I trudged up the path, my voice grew louder and I was becoming less anxious as each metre of the trail faded into darkness behind me.  As I gained the ridge my pace quickened, if the sun had not yet risen, its arrival was certainly impending, and I began to survey my surroundings.  For most people, hiking allows people to soak in the views and connect with nature. For me, it’s a constant source of inspiration in the form of compositions, and I was searching wildly for one.  My inspiration presented itself in the form of a high point on the trail with a delicate array of wildflowers.  I unearthed my arsenal of camera equipment from the depths of my backpack and got to work.  A crocus peering out of the grass, a cloud inversion flowing through a distant valley and the first rays of sunlight streaming through the clouds.  I snapped away happily, darting from one spot to the next and hurriedly switching between two different cameras for the occasional change in perspective.

Once I was satisfied with the morning’s catch, I turned my attention to the camp stove I had brought along, and prepared a cup of coffee to enjoy alongside the compositions. I lazed in the dew tipped grasses while sipping my coffee and observing a small cloud drift over up the face of the mountain I was on, and gently roll over the ridge. Clouds and dappled sunlight passed over distant and foreboding mountain ridges, constantly changing their appearance. I stared with great interest at the different forms a singular solid piece of rock could take.

Finally, with the coffee supply dwindling, the directional morning light erased by daylight, and a steady parade of hikers making their assault on endless switchbacks in the distance, my time had come to sneak away.  The magic developed by sunrise and solitude would leave the mountain for the day as hordes of hikers, seemingly unaware of their peaceful surroundings, would chatter in groups as they made their way up the quiet trail I had just taken.

The descent went quickly enough, my boots slipped down a combination of rock and damp clay for several hundred vertical metres.  Plant a pole, step. Plant a pole, step. Plant a pole, step. Plant a …”Oh, yes I am coming down already. The sunrise was nice. You’re almost to the top. Thanks, hope you have a good hike too” …pole, step. Plant a pole, step.  And so was the pattern of descent, and it was a good pattern until I reached an impossibly small rock band.  Plant a pole step. Trip. Flail. Plant two poles. Stepstep. Smash. Ouch. StepstepstepstepSTOP.

Things had gone so well up until that point.

I gingerly felt my right temple and cheek, instantly throbbing from the face plant I had taken in to the handle of my hiking pole.  I wondered if I would be arriving home with a black eye. I stood on the trail for a moment and really thought about how I felt.

"How do I feel?"


"No, not emotionally, physically. How do I feel physically?"

 Once the shock wore off a little bit, I decided that I didn't feel too bad, considering the knock to the head I had just taken. I straightened up, shifted my weight around to make sure nothing else was hurt, determined that tears, hysterics or helicopters would not be necessary today, and carried on. Plant a pole, step. Plant a pole, step.

Soon, the safety of my truck came back in to view, bringing the end of the day's lesson in empowerment and gravity.  My feet were thrilled to sit down and be freed of the constraints of my hiking boots, but the rest of me wished I was still on the trail, forging ahead through the wilderness trying to convince myself of my self reliance, bravery and coordination.  But my bruised toes and stinging cheek needed a break, and I suppose I could use one too.  I settled back in to camp, put a pot of coffee on to percolate and sat next to the creek to listen to the sounds of water tumbling over rocks and coffee grounds.  I jotted down notes about the day's adventure, and as I wrote the last sentence, a passing rain cloud spattered rain across the tent roof signalling my time to go indoors.




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Kananaskis Landscape Photography Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/9/sunrise-up-high Wed, 23 Sep 2020 03:50:39 GMT
Cold, Dark and Scary https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/9/cold-dark-and-scary The popular saying in the Rockies, is that “If you don’t like the weather, then wait 10 minutes.”  It’s not uncommon for 30 degree temperature swings, and such was the case when I set my sights toward a campground in the Kananaskis backcountry.

The day before had been 30 degrees, and I languished in the hot sun watching Mr. Bastard and our friend Shevaun cruise up the last climbing route of the day.  All three of us had required long rests on our way up the rock face, signaling our time to pack it in lest we sacrifice half a dozen quick-draws to stronger climbers.  As Mr. Bastard rappelled down, I slowly stood up from the smooth flat rock I’d been sunning myself on and waded down the creek next to us to an inconspicuous pile of rocks.  Beneath the rocks, chilling in the cool glacier fed creek were a trio of après climb beers, safely out of sight from a dozen or so other climbers in the small canyon, though I suspect ours wasn’t the only beer cache in the creek.  I reached in to the ice cold water to retrieve the drinks from their cooler, and handed them to my grateful climbing partners, who had also opted to wander through the creek to our picnic area rather than skip across a cleverly crafted log bridge.  After a quick snack, we slowly waded down the creek on our way back to the trailhead rather than scramble over a narrow, exposed trail through the canyon. A perfect way to end the day as we splashed through the water, pausing to take a sip of ice cold beer or talk about the day’s adventure. It was a perfect summer afternoon, and I soaked it in hungrily. If the forecast was correct, I would need all the sun I could get.

Backpacking + Photography - do not recommend.... - awkward parking lot cell phone photo

A mere 24 hours later, I found myself with a loaded backpack, hurriedly setting up camp before the rain began. The day had started out warm enough as I hiked through pockets of cool lush forest and pools of warm sunshine, but as I neared the day’s destination the skies began to darken and the air was thick with humidity. I knew the weather would change soon.  Once my camp was set up I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I had a dry place to sleep. The rain had mercifully held off while I set up my tent.

Not one to sit still, I packed a smaller bag with some camera gear and other essentials, and started on the trail again.  There were a few lakes further up the valley that I wanted to scout.  It wasn’t terribly long before I broke treeline and scanned the surrounding peaks for potential light catches. My ultimate goal was to be in this spot for sunrise the next morning, so I made note of landmarks as I wandered up the talus slopes.  From a distance, the valley would look like one large bowl full of rocks, but up close there was a switch backed trail climbing higher and higher in to the alpine.  Hug the trees to the left, stay south of the avalanche patch, turn right at the large cairn. I repeated the landmarks to myself, partially to prepare for doing the trail again in the dark in a few hours, but more importantly to distract myself from what could possibly be ahead of me at the end of the narrow valley I was closing in on.

The days prior I had been checking the trail reports religiously, through multiple sources. I was prepared for anything the trail could throw at me: gaiters for mud, boot spikes for snow and ice, hell I’d even had the forethought to pack little adhesive cushions to take the abuse level down a notch or two on my toes.  No, the trail itself wasn’t much of a concern, what bothered me was the sheer number of bear sightings being reported, and not just any bears, the trail reports had specifically mentioned “aggressive bears.” A momma grizzly and her cubs had charged a large group of hikers the week before. A black bear had been reported as chasing another group of hikers well over a mountain pass. And these were groups of hikers, as someone who generally prefers to travel alone, I was not entirely comfortable with how the bears were treating large groups of people, what would happen if a lone hiker were to run into one of these so called aggressive bears? Sure enough, when I had started the hike that morning, a small post-it note on the trailhead message board had noted yet another bear on the trail not even 24 hours before. 

Thankfully I’d reached the first lake without incident, and then the second lake. Finally I was nearing the third lake, its entrance guarded by a cliff band, a small canyon and a conveniently placed blind corner – all of which funneled me into a mountain bound bowl with a single point of entry.  Had it been earlier in the day, I would have thought nothing of stepping through the final doorway, a beautiful location would have had at least a few other humans on which to rely on if there were danger. But it was evening,  the weather was rapidly changing and sane people had gone home hours ago.  The last sign of life I had seen was a group of hikers picking their way down the opposite side of the valley over an hour ago. 

No. I was alone, and if there was an aggressive bear waiting for me around the bend, I would be meeting it on my own.  

Not one to be deterred by the abject terror I had welling up in my chest, I let out a few desperately loud “Hey Bear!” and turned the corner.  Instead of a bear, I was met with a picturesque turquoise lake, an impressive headwall and the first drops of rain. 

“Of course…” I muttered to myself as I quickly picked my way down a steep bank and dropped my bag behind a boulder so that it wouldn’t roll away into the lake.  My attention had rapidly switched from potential dangers to setting up the camera as quickly as possible.  The tripod and overstuffed camera bag were retrieved from my backpack and I perched the camera on the tripod. Then, an umbrella was unearthed from my bag, ceremoniously opened with a FWOOMP and then balanced exclusively over the camera set up.  A non-photographer might look at the addition of an umbrella to a backpacking gear list as a bit excessive, but as someone who can descend rapidly into a combination of blind fury and misery over a wet lens, the umbrella is invaluable. 

Low clouds drifted down the face of the mountain ahead, threatening to shroud the face completely and ruin the shot I had in mind. I clicked the shutter as a precaution, and then took a step back to watch the cloud snake its way through openings in the mountain.  Though the mountains may seem still from a distance, once you are fully engrossed in their elements, you begin to realize how dynamic they really are. A distant rock fall, a moving cloud, flowers and trees swaying in a stiff wind and precipitation in all forms come and go. Sometimes it takes the ability to be silent and still for the steady progression of the mountains to reveal itself to you.  A camera can never capture the gesticulation of the mountains, it’s a moment that is revealed to you and you alone, a gift provided to those who can open their eyes, their ears, their nose and their heart and allow the wilderness to seep in.

Quick! Take a photo before it disappears!

For me, if I didn’t have a camera and a constant mission to find nice places with good light during hours most people reserve to be safe at home, I too would be sitting around a kitchen table with family and friends, or sleeping cozily in my bed, or even trading stories with other hikers safely back at camp.  On this day, perhaps I would be heating up some dinner, or lazing in my tent with a book waiting for the weather to clear. My focus on the everyday tedium of life, unaware of the whispers of the mountains. Eons of secrets left unheard.

While I silently took in the views, listening for mountain secrets and camera clicks, the story back at camp was unfolding.  As forecasted, a low bank of fog was rolling into the valley, at first obstructed by the cliff band behind me, but the rain was slowly intensifying and I knew the storm was rolling in. I packed up my bag and began slowly stepping my way down the field of boulders until the lake my camp was at, far below me, came back in to view. Not long after I spotted the lake, it disappeared again in to a sea of atmosphere. The forecast had been for snow, and I giggled at what might be in store for me as I snapped one last photo and walked into the clouds.

Good bye summer, it was nice knowing you...

At 2 am the sound of rain beating against my tent changed. The sharp racket of rain drops suddenly dulled into a din of heavy splatters. Snow.

Being one of those people who is always cold, I probably should not have been surprised to find myself shivering in my tent all night. I was wrapped in a sleeping bag liner and my brand new North Face sleeping bag, with a -7C comfort rating, cinched tightly around me so that only my eyes and nose were visible. Over top my sleeping bag I had thrown two more down jackets. Underneath my sleeping mat I had also added a section of foam to add R-Value along the length of my core, and for a little extra warmth I had tucked a pair of hand warmers in to the waist of my pajamas.  Still, I shivered violently, and I could feel panic beginning to rise.  I had been too cold to sleep, and getting colder by the minute. My chin convulsed in a teeth chattering vibration.  Despite the addition of multiple layers around me in an attempt to stay warm, it wasn’t working, and I could feel the fear of hypothermia well up inside my chest.  I needed to get warm, but first I needed to get a hold of myself.

Deep, slow breaths. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause.  “You’re okay, you’re fine. Just move” I thought, but I curled up even tighter in my sleeping bag, cowering from the cold air outside. “MOVE!” I screamed silently at myself, and I began to do whatever movement I could inside my sleeping bag. I did sit ups and leg raises and tiny, constrained, prone jumping jacks. Finally, I could feel a little bit of warmth returning to my body, and I fell into a chilled and restless sleep until 4:15 am when my alarm clock rang.

Normally, getting dressed inside a cold, cramped tent is an exercise in flexibility and core strength as one attempts to put on a bra without touching moisture laden tent walls or tries to pull on a pair of pants with an impressive pelvic thrust while laying on a pile of sleeping bags.  But I was too cold for that.  Instead, I brought my cold clothes into my sleeping bag for a moment, in an attempt to warm them up, and then proceeded to disrobe and dress myself in tiny controlled movements while still wrapped tightly in my sleeping bag.  The entire process took an agonizing 45 minutes, and normally I'm pretty good at dressing myself.

I knew I was probably going to be late, not entirely a bad thing since racing against a clock is an excellent way to cast fear and hesitation aside when stepping outside a safe little tent and facing the cold, dark wilderness on your own.  And that is what I did.  I poked my head outside and looked at the ground, it had been transformed completely by a deep blanket of snow. A cliff near the camp had been shedding rocks weighed down by precipitation all night, and with a little help from me, my tent shed several inches of thick, wet snow.

Very comfortable camping weather - cell phone photo

After a quick stop at the bear proof food lockers to gather my breakfast, I started on the trail. The snowfall was slowed by the surrounding forest as I methodically stepped forward, yelling out the obligatory “Hey Bear!” into the darkness as I crawled higher up the mountain.  It wasn’t long before I broke treeline, and realized how difficult the next portion of trail would be.  Without a pathway of trees to guide me, the way forward disappeared into a featureless white sheet. The snow fell furiously from the sky in a dizzying dance across the light of my headlamp, threatening to send me in to the throes of vertigo. I stopped and surveyed my surroundings. An avalanche gulley to my right, a few sparse trees to my left. Yep, still on trail.

I took a few steps forward, the snow beat against my face at warp speed, and nothing else was visible beyond a flurry of snow and a blank canvas.  I paused again and seriously considered what I was doing.  Staying on the trail as I moved through the boulder field would likely be impossible until daytime, and the risk of slipping in the snow and injuring myself if I attempted to continue through the dark was high. My main objective for the morning was to capture the alpenglow on the headwall over the third lake, but given the socked in sky, the weather wasn’t likely to lift any time soon anyway.  Although I was disappointed, the risk just wasn’t worth the reward. Besides, I consoled myself, there’s always tomorrow, and I turned on my heel and started back towards camp. The view from the first lake would look identical to the morning’s objective anyway – snow, and lots of it.

I'm still not sure if I had fun or not - cell phone photo

Back at camp, I found a place along the lake shore and began the ritual I’ve grown to love. Set up the camera and point it at something pretty, in this case it was a set of snow covered logs laying in a sea of blue light. Next, brew a cup of coffee to sip, letting flavour and warmth travel down the body from lips to tongue to soul.  Lastly, while a long exposure counts down second by second on the camera, a piece of cheese is unwrapped and the first savoury bite is allowed to bring a smile to my face.  This is paradise. A cold, azure paradise.


Later that morning, as I once again shivered in my tent trying to warm up under a sea of various blankets and clothing, the truth of my situation began to settle in.

Despite the extra warm clothing, high tech sleeping bag and the care I had taken to stay dry (and failed) it would be foolish of me to stay another night.  The temperature was forecast to drop even lower overnight, and given my utter failure to stay warm the night before, I would likely be dangerously cold by the next morning. After the location research, the preparation, the effort and ultimately the failed execution - the mountains had won this round.  I wiped away hot tears, took down my camp and began the hike down the valley, pouting slightly but ultimately ecstatic at the thought of a hot shower and dry clothes once I arrived home.

At the valley bottom, the view back toward the camp was abysmal. A solid white wall of menacing clouds.  When I left the lake, the open areas had already received 10 cm of snow, I figured the total would easily reach 15 or 20 cm by the time the storm passed.

In civilization however, the weather was almost pleasant, at least compared to what I had just come from.  As I drove down the highway past a perennial favourite with photographers, I had to stop.  The piping hot shower I was craving would have to wait a little longer, as I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my camera gear and practically sprinted towards the shoreline of Wedge Pond.

A mid-morning photo wasn’t normally my preference, but the storm clouds swirling around Mt Kidd were too delightful to pass up. I giggled to myself as I clicked photo upon photo of the mountains, reflection and swirling clouds.  After all I had just put myself through in an attempt to get a single photo, battling the cold, the sore muscles, the fear and ultimately the disappointment -the photo I ended up capturing was a mere 50 paces from the highway.

Storm Clouds Over Wedge Pond


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Backpacking Failure Kananaskis Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/9/cold-dark-and-scary Tue, 15 Sep 2020 21:27:00 GMT
Scouting https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/7/scouting I have been called a lot of names in my life, and "late for dinner" is most certainly among them, so when my eyes shot open in the middle of the night, the familiar sinking feeling of "I'm late" wasn't really a surprise.  I fumbled around in the dark checking various clocks, and triangulated what real world time was, usually the difference of 10-40 minutes depending on how aggressive I was in blindly forwarding my clocks the night before.  A method I developed over the years to always keep myself guessing as to the real time in order to avoid being late, clearly it was working out well for me.

As usual my plan was to be well into a hike, but as per my modus operandi, by the time I had anticipated starting on the trail I had barely pulled on a pair of slippers, shuffled out of the bedroom and made my way toward the kitchen. The coffee pot suddenly a more enticing objective than a cold and windy summit. As I stood by the coffee pot, watching the slow drip of life giving nectar falling into my waiting cup, I began to formulate a back-up plan, calculating driving time and distance to various scenes logged in to the back of my mind and cross checked with a handful of calendars noting the position of the sun at any given moment. I considered atmospheric conditions, I reminisced about past success and failures. I daydreamed of hundreds of kilometres of rock and ice under my boots while I stood in the glow of a dim kitchen light, my worn out slippers planted firmly on the vinyl planked floor.  By the time the coffee was ready and the first taste hit my lips, I hadn’t come up with a back-up plan, but I had at least come up with a direction.  I would have to play the rest of it by ear.


When I finally pulled the truck out of the garage the Eastern horizon had already started to turn pink, but having been late a time or two before, I knew I would usually win a race against the sun by hiding from its grasp among the front ranges of the Rockies. Sure enough, by the time I had turned off the straight prairie highway and onto the winding mountain road through the hills, the light had once again faded into a sparkling blue twilight.  I divided my attention equally between the yellow line rushing by outside the windshield and snowy mountain peaks glowing against an azure sky. With one hand firmly wrapped around a travel mug full of coffee, I navigated the familiar stretch of highway while I contemplated a place to pull over and trade coffee for a camera.  Sure, there were the old standby locations, places that consistently give ample opportunities for inspiration, but why play it safe?

 I took a chance and pulled into a parking lot that I had never been before, my tires left the only tracks in the snow.  Clearly this was not a popular location, and I greedily imagined stumbling onto a secret photo location. I donned my photographers outfit, head to toe layers upon layers of warm clothing, a sturdy pair of weathered old boots and an oversized back pack full of lenses, cameras, tripods and anything else I could hastily stuff inside before rushing out the door. I looked like I was ready to spend a month in the woods, but very little in my bag would be of much use for survival, it’s more to maintain mental health. 


I chose a direction again, and without bothering to search for a boot beaten path through the brush, I stepped in to the forest bashing my way through snow, downed logs, prickly wild rose bushes and low hanging branches.  The forest closed in and reached toward me with every step I took until I thrashed my way into an opening, ahead of me, a small pond and creek gave me hope that the photo frame I was searching for was only steps away, but as I reached the banks of the creek, the view did not open up to reveal the picture perfect mountain scene as I had hoped. Not one to give up easily, I decided that the other side of the creek looked like it might be promising, and I made the executive decision to tromp my way across the water.

I gingerly stepped into a shallow spot and water lapped around the bottom of my boot.  The second step was just as delicate, but the water deepened with every inch I moved forward. By the time I had taken my third step, any hope I had of staying dry was lost, and my delicate approach to crossing the stream quickly morphed into an uncoordinated flailing of limbs as I slipped on algae covered river rocks and splashed through the water until I reached the bank on the other side. If my presence in the wilderness had gone unnoticed until then, it's inhabitants certainly knew I was there now. I crawled out of the creek, a bit damp but otherwise no worse for wear as long as I kept moving to stay warm.  Through the trees I could barely see a snowy summit ridge with sunlight starting to bounce off the face in a glorious blend of light and atmosphere.  I surveyed my surroundings, noting the dry brown forest, dead grass, molded old snow and surprising lack of sightlines, I decided to push forward in hopes of finding what was becoming an elusive view of the mountains. A task I did not anticipate being quite so difficult considering the general area I had chosen to wander.

Around every corner I expected the trees to open up to reveal the majesty of the Rockies, but every game trail I chose only lead to another tangle of branches grabbing at my face, a nagging worry of ticks and the sinking realization that I was most certainly going to miss out on the sunrise while wandering aimlessly through the forest. I bashed my way through soggy forest floor, snowdrifts and branches for a solid 45 minutes on the hunt for an inspiring new photo location, while the sky above me turned from blue, to a brilliant pink and then faded to daylight.  The early morning directional light blasting towards the landscape could only be seen in my imagination, and after an hour of bushwhacking I admitted defeat and began plodding down the long maze of game trails back toward the parking lot. Having not even touched the camera gear in my backpack, I giggled at the fact that I had woken up at 4 am to embark on a mere scouting mission, an activity generally reserved for mid afternoon hikes with the dog, yet I still felt satisfied. An early morning spent among towering trees, listening to the gentle meander of a creek is just as rejuvenating as a postcard view and the click of a camera.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Failure Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/7/scouting Thu, 09 Jul 2020 02:52:23 GMT
Sgt. Peanut - A (Mostly) True Story https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/1/sgt-peanut Day One.

Creepy dog has waged a war with the local squirrel, and I, by extension, have joined the battle.

It all started on Saturday afternoon when the curious rodent wandered in to our campsite. Immediately, Creepy dog had chased the Squirrel in to a tree, as is the natural order of things and, failing to understand she is a mere 14 inches tall, spent the better part of 10 minutes desperately trying to reach the squirrel who was perched a relatively safe distance up the tree (approximately 13 feet off the ground).  From my own perch in a near by chair, it would appear that all is right in the world, the sun continues to rise each morning and dogs continue to chase Squirrels. 

Eventually, the dog lost interest and returned to her bed while I lounged in the afternoon sun, thinking the squirrel would gracefully leap from tree branch to tree branch away from our site, you know, natural order of things and all.

Apparently I was ill informed on the inner workings of squirrel behavior. Instead of quietly walking away from the situation, Squirrel (I shall call him Sergeant Peanut) decided instead to embark on a 45 minute lecture from his lofty perch in the tree.  Of course no lecture would be complete without the occasional bits of tree bark and pine cones launched in our general direction alongside the equivalent of Squirrel insults. Other campers were beginning to take note of the racket emanating from our campsite, pausing  on their afternoon strolls to shoot curious looks in my direction as I tried my best to act casually. I buried my nose in my book and acted as if I was peacefully unaware of the disturbance. 

Of course, being verbally assaulted by a rodent was not the most glamorous  part of camping, and after enduring a barrage of chattering and bits of tree for close to an hour, I could stand it no longer and retreated indoors with the dog.  When I later emerged, the Squirrel had moved on and the forest was once again a peaceful refuge, or so I thought.

Day Two.

Sergeant Peanut has enlisted a companion, 1st Captain Jiffy.  Together, the Squirrels have advanced their enemy line a staggering 8 feet North from where yesterday's battle had taken place.  This has given Sgt. Peanut and his troop a marked advantage over the dog, namely the number of trees, posts and picnic table legs to wrap a leash around, which lie scattered across the battleground.  Indeed, with every squeak, chirp and nattering assault launched by the team of Squirrels, the dog's reach lessens. Her leash increasingly tangled around the picnic table and tree stumps, her tail taut with bloodlust she barks and whines and paces until the only thing she can reach is her bed. The dog lies down in a cloud of defeat while the Squirrels chatter farther and farther away high up in the tree tops.

Day Three.

I sleepily emerge from bed to ready myself for the day, it is early and the world is quiet. Creepy dog is happily buried under a pile of cozy duvets.  I stand at the door with a cup of coffee in silence, the sun is just beginning to cast a diffuse light through the trees, revealing the destruction around camp. A light fog rises from the ground as the sun warms up the morning dew, and evidence from the previous days battle come in to view. The battle between the Free Squirrel Republic army and dog has left wreckage littered around the trunks of every tree within a 25 foot radius around camp.  The Squirrels had advanced their terrirtory a staggering 17 more feet in yesterdays battle, unprecedented advancement for such a small army.  Tree needles, bark and pine cone form a solid defense line against little dog feet, combined with the battle wounds inflicted with the force of a 25lb dog reaching the end of her leash at full speed, the Squirrels have a strong advantage in this war.  Creepy dog, having put up another solid fight in yesterday's battle, lies in bed, fatigued, depressed, defeated.  She reluctantly crawls out of bed and approaches her bowl of kibble, too depressed to eat, too exhausted to keep fighting. Upon stepping out doors in to the forest, Creepy dog's tail, nose and ears perk and she soldiers on, and all is right in the world.  The sun rises each morning and dogs continue to chase squirrels. 

Me?  I don't really pick fights with Squirrels, least of all Sergeant Peanut. I just sit in my chair drinking coffee in the warm morning sun, weathering Squirrel insults and sticking my nose in my book to write about it in a concerted effort to act as casually as possible anytime somebody walks by and shoots bewildered looks in my direction.  I wonder what those nuts will come up with tomorrow.   



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Camping Dog Squirrel https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2020/1/sgt-peanut Sat, 18 Jan 2020 17:27:05 GMT
Looking Back on 2019 https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2019/12/looking-back-on-2019 If you've been a reader of this blog over the last few years, you may have noticed something different in 2019, that is to say that I hardly posted or wrote anything. 


Sometimes real life has a tendency to get away from you, between the high stress of real world obligations, more than our fair share of tragedies and a super lame bout of pneumonia (totally missed out on the nice shoulder hiking season), this year was not exactly condusive to creativity.  I know that my mental health suffers when I don't set aside time to be creative, and I'm working hard to make sure I can take time for myself to get out to the forest with a camera and a notebook. 

That's not to say I wasn't busy with photography this past year, in fact, I spent the first several months of 2019 hard at work to bring the Where in the World is Llisa Bastard project to several parks as one day pop up installations (A big thank you goes to the City of Calgary and Resolve Photo for their part in realizing the project)  The pop up galleries were a wonderful success (as long as the wind, snow, rain and hail stayed away...)  Finally seeing park goers discover that their afternoon jog or picnic in the park had coincided with a dozen or more prints scattered through out the park and seeing their surprise was a definite highlight for me this year. Each print was accompanied by a piece of trivia either about the park the installation was in or about the location of the photograph itself, so as an added bonus I have become well versed in some seriously useless knowledge. I am a hit at parties.

Nice day if you don't get stuck in a freak blizzard...



Another highlight of the year was my annual backpacking trip, this time my friend Mel joined me on a 55 km trek through the Banff backcountry towards the end of September.  Not only were the larch trees absolutely gleaming over the 2 mountain passes we hiked through, but the snow was kind enough to hold off until the last day during our hike out. One of the locations we hiked through (which shall remain nameless) was so stunning it brought us both to tears.  Relevant to note that the view also brought the pair of hikers coming up the trail behind us to tears too, so I know it wasn't just us being weepy.  I'm already scheming for next year.


Living dangerously in the middle of the lake...

 I felt like I had to ask these old larch trees permission to enter


But you don't want to hear me talk to you like I'm writing a Christmas card back home, you're here for the photos, so without any further rambling, here's a selection of some of my favourite moments from 2019.

From my birthday party, where I sneak away to go sit in a snowbank by myself.  I know how to get wild.
Canmore Three Sisters - not pictured, my friend and fellow photographer Monika Deviat and I chowing down on pastries.

First vacation to Vancouver Island, made poor Mr. Bastard stop at every waterfall within a 1000 km radius...

Taken at our friend Stevil's memorial show.


Super fun engagement session
(I was contracted to shoot their wedding, and when I found out they had met on the Centre Street bridge I had to beg
them to let me do a complimentary engagement session for them)

Composite band photo, super quick session before their gig
(Scale, Calgary)

Pure joy (bride & her bestie)

Cramped quarters for photography, but one of the most fun hikes I've done.
Creepy dog was less enthusiastic...

 When the weather conditions finally line up with your vision - on a weekend


Epitome of Summer

Puppy bum.
(Creepy dog watching the ice climbers)


I know I said I wasn't going to make this sound like a letter home, but I will anyway.  Thanks for your support in 2019,I hope you have a happy & safe holiday season!



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Band Photos Calgary Engagement Landscape Photography Wedding https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2019/12/looking-back-on-2019 Tue, 24 Dec 2019 21:59:19 GMT
Where in the World is Llisa Bastard- Roving Exhibition https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2019/2/where-in-the-world-is-llisa-bastard--roving-exhibition Three years ago I began a project called "Where in the World is Llisa Bastard" in which a small print would be hidden somewhere in a city park or on a hiking trail. If you've been following along with the project, you'll already know how it works.  A piece of trivia about the area the print was hidden in is posted to social media.  One part educational, one part geocache, the first person to correctly decipher the location based on the information provided, and explore the area thoroughly enough to locate the print is invited to keep the print as a prize. It's an incentive for people to learn more about the areas we recreate in, but more importantly, to go outside and explore it for themselves. Those who learn about and experience the natural world we live in, are more likely recognise the importance of protecting it. 

To date, over 30 prints have been hidden in places ranging from mountain summits to easily accessible city parks, the majority of which have been found.   The feedback I have received about the project so far has been entirely positive with many long time outdoor enthusiasts commenting that they had learned of new areas to explore because of the project.   My favourite story is of an elementary school class learning about geocaching, who found my print at the Okotoks Big Rock months after it was hidden and fostering what I hope will be a lifetime of curiosity and exploration.  

Now, I'm happy to announce the project is expanding in to a small roving exhibition.  In addition to hiding a small print for the first eagle eyed explorer to take home, you can also find a pop up gallery of some of my favourite landscape images.  Think you know how to find it?  Your clues are below:





[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) #yycarts Alberta Calgary Calgary Events Explore Alberta Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2019/2/where-in-the-world-is-llisa-bastard--roving-exhibition Fri, 15 Feb 2019 17:15:00 GMT
2018 Favourites https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/12/2018-favourites Ah yes, the annual photo round up, a time of year when photographers, despite how rarely they might post on their blogs, manage to scrounge together some words in reflection of the past 365 days.

For me, 2018 was a time of personal achievements, having inched closer to reaching my goal of being a fearless mountain woman although certainly not without having my moments of abject terror.  Coming face to face with a Grizzly bear comes to mind, although that moment was somehow less terrifying than trying to overcome the mental block required to do a solo midnight ascent of the East End of Rundle. I made it 2/3 of the way up before settling in to a cliff side for sunrise photos, believing that any potential predators would only be able to sneak up on me from one angle. Next year, I might make it a little bit closer to the summit before dawn and have one of those photos wind up in my best of 2019.  

So, with that introduction in place, here's my favourites of 2018.


This image is from my first real surprise encounter with a Grizzly Bear.  While it's not the strongest image I've ever taken, I'm beyond happy that I was able to fight through the adrenaline surge and walk away with a relatively well exposed, sort of in focus and somewhat composed image.  More importantly, having now had this sort of encounter I feel much more prepared should it happen again, mainly that my "grab the bear spray" instincts should probably take priority over my "grab the camera" instincts next time.  Don't worry, Mr. Bastard was with me and his "grab the bear spray  / remove wife from the camera and shuffle her away" instincts are finely tuned. 


The last months of 2018 have been quite busy in terms of showing (and selling) my prints, including taking steps to bring a long term project I've been working on to fruition. While I'm grateful for the opportunities and support I've had these last few months, I haven't left myself much time to actually go out and take photographs.
 I had noticed this tree  while walking the dog one evening. I didn't have high hopes for any photographs from the location but I kept it in the back of my mind for a day when I didn't have much time. My intentions were solely to spend a little bit of time photographing to decompress before starting my day, but my expectations for a nice photo sank even lower when I discovered how difficult it is to find a single tree in Fish Creek Park in the dark (who knew?)   Lucky for me, not only did I find the tree in time to set up and watch the morning light, but I also wound up coming home with an image I was happy with. 


I carry my full camera kit with me on most of the hikes I do, but truthfully it rarely makes it out of my backpack.  Mr. Bastard and I weren't out for a hike so much as a meander through the woods when we came across this scene, the light shining through the trees and rising mist was so nice we promptly forgot about hiking and sat down along the creek to enjoy the view instead. Although a photo could never capture a moment as serene as this, I'm happy Mr. Bastard was with me to soak it all in. I'm also happy I took the camera out of the backpack.

You Had to Be ThereYou Had to Be There

It's rare, but on occasion I can convince a non-photographer to wake up in the middle of the night, drive for a few hours, hike half way up a mountain in the dark and then stand around in the freezing cold for hours "Waiting for good light" Generally on these occasions my camera is pointed toward a mountain, but when Mr. Bastard joins me on an early morning adventure I can't help but try to sneak a few photos of him when he's not paying attention.  We stood together in reverence of the beautiful Mt. Sarrail that morning, it's the memory of spending time with him in the presence of such wild beauty (and Mr. Bastard's wild woodsman look) that make this photo one of my favourites of 2018.


I was worried that the wildfire smoke would ruin my trip to Assiniboine this summer, but not because it makes breathing difficult and I had a long way to hike. I was worried the smoke would make it difficult to get any photos.  (I have my priorities)   While the clouds and nice directional light I expected to have at dusk and dawn were certainly obscured, the haze made a soft surreal atmosphere that seemed to last for hours.  On my last night of the trip, it was difficult to tear myself away from Gog Lake. The surreal light had been nice to photograph but I knew that if I could just hold out a little longer I might be able to see the last rays of sun hit the mountain face. After crouching down in the cotton grass for hours, a subtle dash of light finally reached the mountain.  Paradise.

Over the course of 365 days I had made the long drive to Moraine Lake in the pre-dawn hours to attempt the hike to Minnestimma Lakes a total of 5 times.
Twice, I had lost my nerve altogether and wound up somewhere completely different altogether..
Another two times my courage only propelled me a fraction of the way up the trail before turning around.
Four times I had returned to the City feeling dejected and foolish for even trying.
This year, I finally made it and was treated to a beautiful show of atmosphere to point my camera at. More importantly, I was able to prove to myself that I had the courage to make it here on my own making this one of my favourite images this year.

I always feel accomplished when I reach a summit before sunrise, but it's a gamble whether the light and weather will cooperate. This particular morning was relatively warm, but more importantly, there was no wind.  I was able to spend hours relaxing and photographing from Miners Peak. 
 Although the sunrise that morning wasn't anything spectacular, the early morning contrast of light and shadow on the commanding face of Mt. Lawrence Grassi made the effort worthwhile and made for one of my top 10 favourite images this year.

As much as I love mountains, the simplicity found on the prairies is often a much needed break and a nice way to creatively reset myself. When locations are easier to access, I find there's less pressure to come home with a portfolio worthy photo and I'm able to experiment, knowing it's easy enough to return another day and try again.  As I sat in the grass conversing with the neighbouring field of cows, I waited for the sunrise lamenting the lack of clouds in the sky. I had low expectations for the resulting photos, but I was still quite content to lounge around with a cup of coffee and fiddle around with some different compositions.  Imagine my surprise when I came home with one of my favourite images this year, I was so smitten with this photo that it's now framed and available to purchase at Kahl's Downtown in High river

Normally, a tropical vacation wouldn't include a 2am alarm clock but when you're on the Big Island of Hawaii it is essential.  Driving up to the Kilauea volcano in the early morning twilight, I had to keep my excitement contained while Mr. Bastard slept beside me in the passenger seat. The moment we turned in to Volcano National Park, and Mr. Bastard stirred awake, a string of excited expletives exploded from my mouth and solidly continued until I was safely out of the car and behind my camera watching the stars, sunrise and glow of the lava lake interact through my lens.  Not only did I manage to capture my second favourite shot from 2018, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity as the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater collapsed not long after we returned to Canada.

At the Edge of The WorldAt the Edge of The World

It took me over 70 km of solo hiking over four days to get this shot, but the few kilometres hiking alone in the dark in unfamiliar territory, knowing a mother Grizzly and her cubs were in the area, was by far the most mentally challenging. Heavy smoke from the wildfires made the air heavy and my lungs were wheezing by the time I reached the first significant viewpoint along the trail.  With only minutes before sunrise, I noticed the view could be better, and decided to run up the mountain to the next view point before the sun crested the horizon. I made it just in time, and while the thick smoke obscured the sunrise and dulled the light, it made for a wonderfully surreal scene for more than enough time to capture several compositions. I had been dreaming of seeing this vista at sunrise for years and this year I finally made it a reality. As always, the photos I have to work the hardest for always hold a special place in my heart, and I worked hard both mentally and physically to capture this one. That's why this is my favourite of 2018.


Thank you all for your support in 2018!  

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape New Photography Top Ten Year https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/12/2018-favourites Fri, 28 Dec 2018 18:55:02 GMT
Minnestimma Lakes https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/minnestimma-lakes The alarm clock rang and my arm stretched out from under the covers to find it, I fumbled around in the dark and instinctively hit the snooze button.  Not that another ten minutes of lying in bed, wide awake, would do much for me, but the promise of at least a ten minute cat nap was too tempting. Despite crawling into bed at 8pm the night before, I hadn't managed to get a wink of sleep. Instead, I closed my eyes and let scenes of "What can go wrong when hiking alone in the dark" flash across my eyelids while I  waited for my 1:30 alarm. Alas, the apprehension of going solo night time hiking wasn't going to hold me back. Not this time.

The first attempt I had made the summer before would have been successful had I not hesitated in the parking lot of Moraine Lake for far too long.  Arriving at the trail head by 3 am gave me plenty of time to reach my goal before dawn and I had confidently donned my hiking boots and stepped out in to the cool mountain air before seizing with fear. I paced in the parking lot for nearly an hour, weighing my options between staying at the relatively benign Moraine Lake shore and going to a far more interesting but risky Minnestimma Lake nearly five kilometres away.  It wasn't until the parking lot started filling up with photographers headed towards the famed rock pile, that I managed to step in to the dark forest, determined to not take the same photograph as the rest of the crowd.  I had hesitated for too long.

As the sky began to lighten, I reached a scenic clearing along the trail and I had to make a choice. I could either press on, not knowing how far I had to go before reaching the lake, or stay in a clearing which at least afforded me some views.  If I pressed on, I ran the risk of not being able to see anything when the mountains began to glow, and so I opted to stay put.  The decision was a wise one, as the early morning light burst through the clouds shortly after I had set up my camera. Soon, the light dulled and I, having run out of the courage and will power to see what was around the next corner, scurried back down the trail towards home. It wasn't until months later, when a girl friend and I had made the trek up Paradise valley, over Sentinel Pass and down to Moraine Lake, that I saw just how close  I had been to reaching the lakes before dawn.  I vowed that next summer I would make it.

My headlights shone in to the numerous cars in the parking lot, their windows white with condensation from the occupants sleeping inside.  "I wasn't aware we were allowed to camp out in the parking lot now" I thought, as I killed the engine and moved my seat back so I could pull on my boots.  The rain pelted my windshield and I wiggled in to my rain suit before stepping outside and turning on my headlamp, illuminating the dizzying mist falling from the sky. I left the sleeping beauties behind and strode past the lodge and up the trail, reaching the first switch back with ease, and then promptly stopped.  "This is stupid" I muttered in to the darkness, it's raining, it's dark, it's scary, will it even be worth the effort? I turned on my heel and ambled back toward the parking lot.  Instead, I set my sights on the near by Consolation Lake, a much closer and lower elevation destination. If I was too cold and wet, at least the hike back to the warmth of my truck would be far shorter.

I strode past the lodge again, past the sleeping beauties in the parking lot and up the trail, reaching the junction to Consolation Lake with ease.  I picked my way down a small hill and in no time, reached a small boulder field and then promptly lost the trail in the dark. It might have been helpful if I had done this hike even once before in my lifetime, but I had not, and I turned on my heel and headed back toward the parking lot again. 

Now, I was getting annoyed at myself, and set myself towards the original goal for the morning.  I strode past the sleeping beauties in the parking lot, past the lodge and up the trail in the other direction again and that's where I lost my nerve altogether.  With rain falling gently down on me, I stood heartbroken on the trail in the dark, cursing my lack of resolve. Through the trees, I could see headlamps beaming from the sleeping beauties, they had woken up and were beginning their assault of the famed rock pile on the shore of Moraine Lake.  None of them ventured toward me. Determined not to take the same photograph as the rest of the crowd, I wandered along the shoreline away from the crowd, but never out of sight, before settling in for sunrise. It was better than nothing, still I left feeling dejected, and vowed that next time I would make it.

Despite carefully calculating the time I would need to reach my goal before dawn, I was running late. I had hit the snooze button a few too many times in an effort to stave off reality ten minutes at a time.  As I started on the trail for the third time, the sting of my previous attempt was still fresh in my mind and I had no intention of failing again. Not this time. I paused briefly at the information board to make sure it wasn't mandatory to hike in a group of four, and then began picking my way up the switchbacks at nearly double my regular pace.  As I made my way up the trail in the dark, a rustling noise in the brush made my heart flutter from adrenaline.  Fortunately, the only pair of eyes glowing in the light of my headlamp were from a small animal,  and I muttered "it's only a marten" to calm myself.  It wasn't long before I surpassed the turn around points from my previous attempts, and a pink glow formed on the horizon. I was nearly running through the alpine meadow, my heavy pack laden with camera gear jostling on my back.

Across the valley, a pair of lights appeared on the glacier of Mt. Fay and I watched fascinated as the lights moved up the glacier towards the summit before disappearing from view.  "Crazy bastards" I thought as I continued up the trail and the lakes came in to view.  I settled in to a small patch of gravel near the shore and set up my camera just as the sun began to peer through the clouds. 

I turned the switch of my camera on - nothing happened, and my stomach sank. I reached in to my bag and grabbed a back up battery and popped it in to the camera. I turned the switch, again, nothing happened and panic began to rise in to my chest.  I blew on the battery like an old Nintendo cartridge, but again, nothing.  "At least I made it" I thought, as I snapped a photo with my phone and held back tears.  Finally, I jammed the battery in with force to make the connections and the camera turned on. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned my attention to the view before me, raising my arms up in celebration and complete awe.

Soon, a pair of hikers appeared, and we excitedly marvelled at the light,"It's a hell of a way to start the day!" my grin stretched ear to ear as I set up a composition. Not long after the hikers left, a pair of photographers came to share the view and we exchanged elated high fives as the light danced around us.  Though the camera continued to threaten to fail, I managed to snap a few photos and my heart soared at having finally reached my goal. The marvellous light certainly didn't harm my good mood either. Setting the camera aside for a moment, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to soak in as much of the scene as I could until the weather changed and the views were replaced by a late summer snow storm. Finally, I became too cold to stay any longer, and I packed my bag and left the dreamy scene to return to reality. On my way down the trail, I vowed to make it to this magical place more often.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape. Minnestimma Lake Moraine Lake Photography Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/minnestimma-lakes Sat, 08 Sep 2018 17:07:40 GMT
Assiniboine Pt I https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/assiniboine-pt-i I hadn’t made it out of view of the parking lot before I began to question my decision to carry a pack nearly half my body weight over a mountain pass. How was I ever going to make it? More importantly, how would I make it home again?  “It’s a mental challenge more than a physical one” I told myself, and took another feeble step.

The weight of the pack sent razor blades across my back, after a hundred steps I’d had enough, I plopped to the ground and shimmied out of its grip. The contents of the bag were spilled along the trail and I tried to remember every internet article I had ever read about backpacks and how to pack them.  It turns out, I had unknowingly become well read in the art of packing a backpack for a trip, I’d just never done it in real life.  Once I had reorganized and balanced the weight of the gear, I sat on the trail again and shimmied back into the shoulder straps. In the parking lot I had put the pack on without issue, but I had used the tailgate of my pick-up truck and put it on while standing.  Here on the trail, figuring out how to stand up was quickly becoming a bit of a conundrum.

60 pounds of cameras and cheese

The nearby helicopter pad was busy shuttling Assiniboine bound passengers and they buzzed overhead while I flailed around helplessly on the trail like a turtle flipped onto its shell.  I could imagine the laughter from the comfortable passengers ascending over the trail above me, their conversations turning to the days ahead of them as my flailing arms and legs became mere  dots on the landscape. I grimaced at my awkward performance as I worked on gaining enough momentum to roll over on to my stomach. Finally, I rolled over, my knees ground in to the gravel with the weight now on top of me and I reached for my hiking poles to begin the mile long crawl to a standing position.  The pack felt slightly better, though the redistribution hadn’t made it any less heavy. I looked at the trail behind me, I looked longingly at my truck sitting in the parking lot.  I still had the opportunity to give up, maybe check in to a nearby hotel so nobody would know I had given up so quickly. I could claim my camera batteries weren’t charged when I came home in a few days without photos.  Instead, I took another step West, followed by many more steps.

The promise of a break at Watridge Lake kept me moving forward for the first few kilometres, but when the lake passed by on the trail I didn’t stop. Instead, I decided I would stop at the next creek crossing –whenever that might be, despite nearly every part of me screaming in protest.  I began to descend a very long hill as panic set in with the realization that what goes down, must go up again. What if I couldn’t make it back up this hill again in a few days? A future problem, I rationalized, as a refreshing creek came in to view. Somehow, I had managed to make it to the half way point of the day’s hike before taking a rest, and I celebrated with the delicious sandwich I had been promising myself since buying the ingredients a week before.

Dad's specialty sandwich and a view- this is the life

Refreshed, I waited for the last of the hikers in the area to move out of sight before I clumsily donned the pack again, and began the second leg of the day. The sun beat down on me mercilessly and I lost any hope I still had left of smelling nice on this trip. After hours of trudging along, I replaced my bear call with “Are we there yet?” and I yelled into the forest. The answer was a resounding silence which I took to mean “No”
Fatigue had set in and I began to will myself forward in mere 100 pace increments until I finally reached the day’s destination at Marvel Lake.  The half way point to Assiniboine – how people do the hike in a day I’ll probably never know, half way was more than enough for day one.

After modelling inefficiency setting up camp and feeding myself while increasing the day’s kilometre total by another 10, I was finally where I wanted to be. Plunked down on a lake shore with a camera.
The haze from nearby forest fires reduced the wilderness before me in to their most basic geometric shapes. The silence of the area, magnified by the lack of visual definition, was only broken by an occasional jumping fish.  Even the mosquitoes kept mostly to themselves, the whine of their wings beating against the thick smoky air was punctuated by the bees hovering among the reeds at my feet. A lot of bees. “Odd” I thought, but quickly turned attention back to my camera. In the distance, a single loon swam across the horizon, breaking the mirror like reflection and letting out a haunting cry. I hear you loon, I hope you find what you’re looking for. Day one was officially behind me and I made the last ascent of the day and crawled into my sleeping bag.

Smoke & Mirrors

In a mood, I cancelled my sunrise photos in lieu of an early start.  The night had been cold, despite wearing a base layer, down jacket, rain suit and toque inside my -7 sleeping bag I had shivered all night. I had barely slept, and I wanted nothing more than to be tucked in to bed in a nice cozy hut.  The thought of a nap spurred me out of bed and onto the trail ahead of schedule for the day’s slog over the Assiniboine Pass.  I grumbled back on to the main trail, a few years too old to be stomping my feet and pouting. It wasn’t long before I passed by the National Park Wardens Cabin nestled in the trees alongside Bryant Creek. The view from the historic structure was marvelous in the early morning light, and I delayed my early start and fished my camera out of the pack.  Maybe this hiking business wasn’t so bad after all, and my mood lifted as I meandered around with the camera. 


The camera had been a nice momentary distraction, but the amount of ground I had to cover that day weighed heavily in my mind, and I wrestled into the pack once again.  I moved rather quickly along the valley bottom in the cool morning air and I congratulated myself for my efficiency – until another scene caught my eye and my forward progress was halted in favour of the camera yet again.  At this rate, I’ll fill my cards up before I even get to Assiniboine. It was tempting to turn on my heel and head home, but I knew the best was yet to come. 

Early in the day, I had met two groups of hikers going the opposite direction, but that was the only sign of humanity in this wild valley.  I reached the junction between the horse and hiker trail over the pass, I had read that the hiker’s trail would be closed to allow the bear’s access to the bountiful amount of berries, but there was nothing indicating the closure.  I questioned whether I was on the right trail and dug my map and trail descriptions out of my bag. I studied the pair of trails before me, and after careful deliberation, I concluded that I wasn’t 100% sure where I was but that the trail to the left was probably good enough, and set off. If it turned out to be the wrong trail, I could always turn around and try again and since I was hiking alone, nobody would have to know that I’d made a mistake.

Oh super!

It wasn’t long before I regretted leaving so early in the morning, or heading on the trip solo altogether.  It had been hours since I had seen another person, and the narrow trail I was on had me wading through shoulder height berry bushes. If this was the open trail, I shuddered to think what the closed portion of trail looked like, as this was some of the nicest bear habitat I had seen. I needed to increase the amount of noise I was making in order to travel safely, and I nervously yelled a stream of consciousness into the dense brush.  It wasn’t long before I had crafted a rather fatalistic bear call. “Step Right Up!” I yelled, “Berries here, get them while they’re ripe!” Oh god, I thought, what if they know English. The thought of the stampede of bears rushing towards me in page boy hats, waving five dollar bills made me chuckle nervously.  “Juicy, juicy berries, great for bears! It’s a limited time offer, get them while they’re ripe!”  As much as I craved the safety knowing another person was around, I cringed at the thought of running into them now as I pitched my berry sale up the pass. 

This must be the way...

Sure, this seems safe...

The uphill, while generally a gentle grade, was relentless. I tackled the steeper sections with slow, small steps, pausing to rest often. The views weren’t great on the trail, but wildflowers were in abundance and I admired them anytime I stopped moving.  Unfortunately, the bugs were also in abundance and my rests were often cut short to get away from the little pests. I was part way up a particularly steep portion of trail when a strange noise made my heart leap into my throat.  I was woefully unprepared for an encounter of this sort and my mind raced at what I would do if I was attacked.  The noise became louder as I inched forward, on the trail ahead of me was a danger I had not anticipated. Bees. Hundreds of bees.  Like the bees near the lake the night before, they hovered just above ground, and I waded through them carefully. “Don’t stop – just keep moving” I urged myself, though I was in desperate need of a rest to catch my breath. I emerged through the cloud of bees without a single sting and the buzzing noise faded behind me. “Nobody is ever going to believe you.” I thought. Hell, I hardly even believed me.

After what seemed like an eternity of slogging uphill while descending into madness, I reached the top of the pass marking my long imagined entry into Assiniboine Provincial Park.


It was here that I finally ran into another group of hikers, and my heart rate slowed down. After a quick lunch and a chat, it was quick and easy travelling to the day’s destination, I was comforted knowing a group had recently travelled through the area.  After years of dreaming about it, I finally made it to this beautiful corner of our country.  My first order of business was to settle in to my bunk bed for a nap.

Read Part 2

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Assiniboine Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/assiniboine-pt-i Thu, 06 Sep 2018 05:47:09 GMT
Assiniboine Pt II https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/assiniboine-pt-ii I woke with a start, my head nodded rhythmically with my heart beat as I sleepily came to terms with my surroundings.  A bustling group of women, four long time friends, had burst through the door of the hut and jolted me awake.  I sat up groggily and checked the time, the women apologized for waking me, and then continued their conversations. It would be the theme for the day, the women later gabbing well in to the night.  I didn’t sleep much anyway, tossing and turning throughout the night. Finally, at 3:30 am I exacted my revenge, unintentionally of course.  I tried to be quiet, but as it turns out, extracting oneself from a sleeping bag and exiting a top bunk on little sleep, in a strange place and in the dark was harder than it sounded. A few bumps and bruises later, I snuck out the door to finish readying myself for the day in the cook shelter.

Luxury! Luxury!


After a gut wrenching breakfast of sugar bars and a sugar drink loosely resembling coffee, I was on the trail.  I hadn’t come this far to be denied a sunrise photo and I yelled my way towards Nub peak. Occasionally, I choked back fear as my head lamp illuminated a small path for me through the forest.  A mother Grizzly and her cubs had been calling the area around the Assiniboine Lodge home all summer, and I was petrified by the thought of running in to her in the darkness.  As the sun began it’s appearance for the day, I crested the Niblet, a scenic high point overlooking the valley and my goal for the morning. I set my camera up and began to settle in for the show.  I glanced at my watch, then at the glowing horizon.  I looked up toward the next high point on the trail, a few hundred metres up the trail, then down at my watch. This view could be better, I thought, and I should have just enough time to find out for sure before the real show begins.  I gathered my things again and practically sprinted up the final slope.  The views, as I suspected, were much better.  I busied myself shooting as many compositions as I could find. Like the first night on the trail, the smoke from nearby forest fires wasn’t doing any favours for the view, but it did make the golden hour last for nearly two. 

Forest fire smoke made for crappy views, but interesting colours

A marmot came to join me on the grassy slope, and he foraged for breakfast while I foraged for photos. Evidently used to humans, the marmot nibbled grass until it was nearly an arm length away.  I snapped a few photos of my new found model before quietly sneaking away and giving the animal its space back. How nice of him to share this place with me, but its demeanor makes me think he’s seen a few too many hand held goodies in his lifetime. I glowered at the lack of respect shown by hikers before me, but my mood couldn’t be dampened for long. I had spent a glorious few hours in solitude in this mountain kingdom, and I grinned from ear to ear back to the hut.

I had settled into a routine of taking short cat naps rather than bother trying to sleep, and after moving my things to the next hut for the night, took another nap.  My new dorm mates woke me up again, but at least they made an effort to be quieter than the last group.  Despite their efforts, I was awake again although not entirely motivated to wander too far from home base. I gathered my things and made my way over to Gog Lake to bask in the afternoon sun. I found a perch at the base of a waterfall to dip my feet and scribble in my notebook for a few hours.  I considered calling in dead to work and attempting to eke out a living from the base of the waterfall for the rest of my life, but a small group of hikers interrupted my daydream and I took their presence as my time to move on. 

I returned to Gog Lake after dinner that night, but rather than scope out a suitable foundation to build my new home, I simply settled in to photograph the evening light and hopefully bring a memory home with me instead. I found a particularly scenic place at the lake’s outflow and spent hours waiting for the sunset light to show itself. The light was nice, but I was convinced the best was yet to come and I was torn knowing that I had one more sunrise to shoot, followed by a very long day of hiking the next morning.  I didn’t want to stay up too late, but I also didn’t want to leave empty handed.  I would pack up the camera, move up the trail a few feet only to have the light change or a new composition unveil itself only to unpack the bag and set up the tripod again. This happened several times. Finally, I had to make a grown up decision and drag myself away from the scene and into bed despite the numerous, perfectly good photographs I walked past on my way back to the hut.  I had to at least try to sleep.

Read Part 3


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) assiniboine landscape photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/assiniboine-pt-ii Thu, 06 Sep 2018 05:47:06 GMT
Assiniboine Pt III https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/assiniboine-pt-iii The final sunrise alarm rang, I had been lying in bed waiting for it and my feet hit the floor in an instant.  My new polite dorm mates were treated to an equally polite Llisa as I changed out of my pajamas in the dark and quietly grabbed my bag, I snuck out the door far more gracefully than the morning before.  After another breakfast of sugar and sugar coffee I took the short hike towards the lake while vowing to never eat another cereal bar in my life.   I had scoped out a few compositions at Lake Magog on my first evening in the park and I confidently strode down to the shore in the hour before dawn to set up my camera. The smoke had somewhat cleared over night, and I could see faint clouds in the sky. I waded in the water carefully with my camera, I’d managed to go the entire trip so far without some sort of water related mishap, and I wasn’t about to start on my last day.

 Across the water Assiniboine rose towards the sky, commanding the view and I happily drank it all in. A handful of fish rose to the surface of the lake leaving rings in the glasslike reflection of the water, I had met a number of fishermen in the previous days but surprisingly, none of them were around to throw flies at the fish.  

It wasn’t as if I had been expecting there to be hordes of people lined up to take in the views like you might find around easily accessible locations around Banff, but I certainly hadn’t expected to have these locations entirely to myself, especially not every single day.  It wasn’t until I had returned to the hut and begun packing my bag for the long trip home that I ran into people that morning. Still, the moment I left the hut and set off towards Wonder Pass, I was alone again. I didn’t mind the lack of company for the first few hundred metres of my trip, until I passed the place I had spent hours the evening before.  Some time in the 10 hours between leaving Gog Lake and passing by on my hike home the next morning, the resident Grizzly bear had visited and subsequently passed a rather large bowel movement on top of the spot I had been photographing the night before.  I felt insulted, as if the bear had deliberately shat on my photo location and therefore my heart, but the feeling faded quickly with the realization that I now had to hike this stretch alone, knowing the resident Grizzly was around.

There’s no better motivating factor when hiking than the feeling of “I need to get the hell out of here” and I yelled my way towards the pass.  Just before I began the climb, I stopped and filled my water bottle in a creek, and fortuitously, a group of four day hikers came in to view. It wasn’t long before they had surpassed me on the trail, and I calmed knowing their chatter ahead of me would give any bear that might be ahead some advance warning on my behalf.

To my surprise, I crested Wonder Pass fairly quickly and easily. With the word “Pass” in the name I had braced myself for a long uphill slog, but the elevated starting point of the hike worked to my advantage.  I paused briefly at the summit to snap a photo before being chased off the pass by curious bees.  This time the bees weren’t hovering around my feet, instead they were hungrily eyeing the satchel of seeds and dried beef I had stuffed into my pants pockets. I didn’t need the extra incentive to get on the trail again, damn bees weren’t going to get any of my beef jerky if I had anything to say about it.

It wasn’t long before the group of hikers ahead of me faded from sight and I was alone again, picking my way down the trail toward Marvel Lake while picking food out of my pockets.  The elevation loss was steady, and while downhill is usually my favourite kind of hiking, my toes were beginning to complain. A lot. I’d barely made it off the pass and started along Marvel Lake when the pain really began to set in and I began to stop every so often to readjust my boots. Despite the trail levelling, the boot situation worsened. I’d tighten the laces and loosen the laces, pull up my socks and change my socks but to no relief.  While the trail was level, the slope it was carved into was steep and I struggled to get into my backpack after fixing my boots. At one point, I slipped down the slope, tumbling face first into the scree with the weight of the pack crushing down on me. I cursed at my clumsiness as I struggled to right myself and step back onto level ground.  Later, I tripped on thin air and the weight of the pack sent me tumbling on to the trail. “What the hell?!” the fatigue of the previous days was beginning to take its toll on my concentration and I promised myself I would stop and take stock of the situation once I reached the 13 kilometre mark.

Nice gentle slopes to fall down

Finally, I hobbled up to Bryant Creek, dropped my bag and stuck my poor feet into the water.  The campsite I had booked was a mere kilometre away, but it was only 1 pm. I nibbled on some lunch and pondered my options. It was Saturday, and between excitement, cold temperatures and general hut life, I hadn’t managed to get a good night’s sleep since the previous Monday. I had little hope of getting any more sleep in a tent.  The thought of my own bed, and actually being able to sleep was enough to forego any further pondering.  I removed a set of insoles from my boots to give my toes a bit more room, repacked my bag and gingerly stepped away from the river bank. While I was resting, another swarm of bees had surrounded me. What is it with these bees?  With the insoles removed, the boots felt a little better but the damage to my toes had already begun and a single toenail on each foot had begun to blacken.   Knowing that I would have day light until at least 10 pm, I made a plan to hike slowly and take a rest to soak my feet at every major creek crossing, I also took the liberty of soaking my shirt to stave off some of the mid day heat. I kicked myself for not thinking of it three days ago, although I had obviously started the hike with a bit more dignity than I was finishing it.

Feet go in here

Besides the pain in my feet, the long hill I had descended on my first day of hiking was now also weighing heavily in my mind, as I needed to get to the top of it in order to get home.  With every passing kilometre, the uphill sections never seemed quite as bad as I had imagined and I started to believe I might have exaggerated its significance. At the final creek crossing, I believed I was going to get away with avoiding going up the long hill altogether, and then I reached the bottom of the hill.  The path that stretched before me was far taller and far steeper than anything I had climbed in the days prior.  At the top of the hill, and seemingly in a very un-scenic and arbitrary location, sat a bench.  I decided that when I reached that bench, I was going to sit on it, and so I began the longest 100 metre uphill section of the trail.

After far too long, I reached the top of the final hill and the bench came in to view.  I mercifully collapsed on to its surface. It was at that point that the rain forecasted for the day began to catch up to me.  What the forecast had failed to mention, was that the rain was bringing with it a great deal of wind and lightning. I had barely sat down for my preapproved rest, when I was so rudely spurred back on to my feet again with a sense of urgency.  A storm had appeared from behind the mountains and was fast approaching me. The last four kilometres of trail that I had to travel on was on a fire road sorely lacking in cover, with lightning in the distance and my person covered in a fine assortment of lightning rods, I needed to get moving. 

My normal 2 kilometre an hour pace quickened to 4 kilometres an hour.  Fat rain drops began to pelt my face.  The 4 kilometre an hour pace was increased to five kilometres an hour.  My toes screamed at the pain as the wind picked up.  In the forest next to the trail, trees began to sway wildly.  The jolting crack of a tree breaking in the wind made my heart jump into my throat as my pace quickened to 6 kilometres an hour. The bear spray hanging from my shoulder strap pelted me in the face as I speed waddled down the trail.  The time between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder lessened as the storm grew near, every piece of me screamed to slow down, to rest. I chuckled at the thought of emerging unscathed after 70 kilometres of solo hiking, often in the dark,  over the past few days only to be wiped out by a tree or a lightning bolt a mere kilometre from the truck. Finally, the parking lot came in to view again and I leapt in to the truck, moments later the storm hit with full force and pelted my windshield in a down pour, “Do you want to go out for dinner tonight?” I texted Mr. Bastard, a full day ahead of schedule “I could really go for a burger and a beer”.

All for this

Read Part 1

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) assiniboine landscape photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/9/assiniboine-pt-iii Thu, 06 Sep 2018 05:47:03 GMT
Solitude At Its Finest https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/7/14/Solitude Canada Day long weekend, in theory, one of very few times a year that we can camp comfortably.  It seems every other long weekend in Canada involves snow.  Not surprising then, that it was the weekend Mr. Bastard chose for his back country trek from Ribbon Lake to Lillian Lake in Kananaskis, a 30 kilometre adventure with one of his best friends.  I wasn't invited. Neither was the dog.

Mr. Bastard and our friend returned a few days later to tell their tale of hiking mountain passes through whiteout blizzards in a kilt, decommissioned trails, a depressing amount of rain, and a legendary (albeit hilarious) hangover. But they aren't the writer of this blog, so you will have to track them down in person for the story. Not wanting to feel left out of the fun, I chose a more glamorous way to spend a few days in the mountains, and parked our RV in a car accessible campground.  Moments after I had declared my camp to be set up, ominous clouds tumbled through the valley and it soon became apparent that my choice of accommodation would be the more comfortable way to spend the weekend.  It rained. A lot. 

It rained enough to keep all but the most stubborn people out of the mountain playground. My kind of people.  The Kananaskis valley, normally crawling with recreationalists was eerily quiet on the most popular camping weekend of the year.  The majority of the people who opted to stay home didn't know what they were missing, to be entirely truthful I didn't know either, but with a 5 minute commute it was silly not to have a look.

The luxurious 4:30 am alarm clock brought me out of a dream, a nice change from the midnight alarm clocks as of late.  The sky was already light enough that I didn't have to struggle to find my matches to light the stove.  The sound of coffee percolating in the twilight was about the happiest noise I could hear as I readied myself for the day ahead.

Creepy dog, buried somewhere underneath a fleece blanket and two feather duvets, didn't even budge as I tip-toed out of our mobile abode. Despite the forecast, the sky was a brilliant, cloudless blue in the early morning light. I cursed the sky. I had been expecting dramatic clouds that follow a rain storm. I made my way to Wedge Pond, shouldered my camera bag and gave a meek call in to the forest. The call was met by silence.  I took a few steps away from my vehicle and called again, this time with force "GOOD MORNING!"  My call was met with singing birds and the chattering of squirrels.  I confidently strode down the path towards the water and gasped at my good fortune. Although the rain had ceased for a brief reprieve, the wildly popular location for sunrise photography was deserted, save for a few deer that quickly vacated the area. 

Mist rose from the water creating an enchanting atmosphere, and as luck would have it, some clouds had begun to form above the mountains. I dropped my camera bag and snapped a shot, light can be a fickle mistress and I daren't miss a shot for taking too long setting up a composition. 

With a single frame already captured, I speed walked along the shoreline in search of a second shot. Within a hundred metres, I located the solitary piece of driftwood I had launched years ago and shuffled it into place. I had been photographing this log for years, it would be a shame to forego the tradition on a morning like this.  I scurried along the shoreline again to gather my things. It's amazing how much mess I had managed to make the moment I had a place to myself. It took a few trips up and down the shore to collect everything, but soon the coffee, camera bag, a few filters, tripod and camera were consolidated next to my foreground interest.

With driftwood and camera in place, I settled in with my coffee to watch the light dance with the clouds and flirt with the mountain faces. The stress of the week prior melted in to a sea of forest green and sunrise pink hues. The camera clicked, a few shots here and there and in between shutters I stood with jaw agape at the scene before me.  I silently crowned myself the title "Llisa the Ready, Grand Duchess of Stubbornness , Drinker of Coffee, Holder of Cameras" as I sipped my coffee and watched the mist rising in the dawn. So far the name hasn't caught on. I think it might be too short.

I always wonder what makes a photographer drag themselves in to the wilderness before dawn just to watch a sunrise. It is a wholly meditative experience to witness the play between atmosphere and light, an experience that one would think should be reserved for the spiritual or religious. Instead, Nikons are raised in salute to the sun, capturing a moment in time so peaceful that if we could convince the world to wake up early enough, perhaps we would live in a more harmonious society.  It's truly a shame more people don't make an effort to greet the day this way, still, I don't mind the solitude.



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Kananaskis Landscape Photography Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/7/14/Solitude Sat, 14 Jul 2018 16:02:04 GMT
The Big Island Part II https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/7/the-big-island-part-ii The ocean lured me closer with every crashing wave, and with pants rolled up I waded through warm tide pools, illuminated by distant street lights and the glow of my headlamp. In the dark, I could hear the tide thrashing into a small band of cliffs with a thunderous roar, occasionally spilling cool water over the top and into the pools I was occupying to lap at the bottom of my pants.  As twilight began to form silhouettes of compositions for me, I set my bag down and made my way through the labyrinth of pools, anemone and rocks to set up my camera. This is the life.

Happy Surprise TreeHappy Surprise Tree


It just wouldn't be a proper vacation, without returning home feeling completely exhausted, in need of a 3 day nap and a hot shower.  In that regard, Hawaii was a complete success.  That's not to say there wasn't a good deal of relaxation and downtime, there was.  While Mr. Bastard and I were there, we sampled more than our fair share of local beer, Kona coffee and a lifetime of Spam in flavours I didn't know existed - the finer things in life. But more often than not we just weren't content with a day of lounging around on a beach.  Our days were full of hiking, snorkelling and exploration.  On top of that - photography, the most exhausting hobby I could have possibly fallen in love with.    

It seemed strange to continually drag myself out of bed at 4 am to take a cold shower (Note to self: next time book a hotel that has hot water...)  while on vacation.  Leaving my peacefully sleeping husband behind in the cool air conditioned room to walk out in to the stifling heat, alone, in to a city I was not familiar with wasn't an easy thing to do, but the reasonable sunrise and sunset times were too hard to resist and with only a week to capture as much as I could, I was determined to make the most of my time on the island. 

Thin LineThin Line


I consider myself lucky, either that or extremely persuasive, in that Mr. Bastard agreed to join me on a rather ambitious sunrise excursion.  I had been up for an hour already by the time Mr. Bastard's alarm clock rang around 2am, signalling our time to hit the road.  With eyes open just enough to make it from the hotel door and into the front seat of the car, he quickly fell back asleep while I drove through the night, drinking cans of cold brew coffee like it was my last day on earth.  As we neared the summit of Kiluea volcano in the dark, the glow of the crater could be seen on the horizon and I quietly lost my mind.  Mr. Bastard slept peacefully in the passenger seat unaware of the sights before us, as I began to swear a string of curse words under my breath that continued relentlessly for the next thirty minutes.  

Finally, we pulled in to Volcano National Park and Mr. Bastard began to wake up.  I could hardly contain myself, and the moment I knew he was awake I let my curse words bubble to the surface like lava.   I won't repeat them here, but they sounded like "roly duck" except a lot louder, a lot more of them and I may have forgotten to breath in between words.

We parked our rental car at the summit of the crater, I let out the last of my "roly ducks" as I grabbed my camera bag, and then joined the few but dedicated pyjama clad tourists in awed silence.  Nobody spoke but to whisper to the person next to them as the glow of the crater battled starlight and sunrise for attention. The lava, miles away, hissed, and bubbled and roared at our silence. Had I not been intent on capturing the glow of the crater in the night, it's likely we would have opted to stay in bed only to visit during waking hours.  Twilight at the Kiluea crater was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever laid my eyes on, and I'm grateful my camera made me do it.



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Hawaii Kiluea Landscape Lava Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/7/the-big-island-part-ii Sat, 14 Jul 2018 00:47:57 GMT
The Big Island Part I https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/5/the-big-island I have never been to a tropical location before. Every vacation I have ever taken has been safely in the Northern Hemisphere, far, far away from the sun where a comfortable summer day is a balmy room temperature.  I take Vitamin D supplements in lieu of seeing sunshine for all but three months of the year.  The three months in Canada that we see days above 20 degrees Celsius, I'm generally complaining about the heat.  The thought of spending a week close to the equator made me very, very nervous.   Six days before the flight was scheduled to take off from the depths of Canadian winter and deposit Mr. Bastard and I into our first tropical vacation , I realised I did not own three crucial items.  Sunscreen, sandals and a hat.

This blog post is really so I can show you my family vacation photos. Sorry if you're not into that.

Having heard horror stories about vacations ruined by the pain of something called a "Sunburn" sunscreen was on the top of my list. Surprisingly, it was procured with relative ease, and Mr. Bastard and I each packed a bottle of the most waterproof, S-P-F-iest sunscreen money could buy.  We may be the only two Canadians who returned from the beach with skin as pasty as when we left. I consider that a great success.

The shoes were a little bit harder. I ran through every shoe section in every store I could find. I knew what I wanted, I wanted a cross between sandal and hiking boot, an oxymoron in shoe form.  I was pretty sure what I wanted existed, but after efficiently spending one minute or less in every shoe store in South Calgary I determined that what I wanted definitely was not in stock.

 Eventually I admitted that I should have been more prepared, and shopped for summer items in Canada when it was still summer. Sandals aren't exactly a big seller when wearing them out of the store means certain frostbite.   Eventually, I gave up on finding the perfect sandals that I wanted and took a chance ordering them online.  With 6  days to spare, I placed my order and the perfect pair arrived at my door step approximately 36 hours before we left for our trip. I like to live dangerously. Team Bastard Where the Sun Don't Shine

You know what's awesome in Hawaii? Lava tubes, they are cool and I can walk through them without sweating.

Finding the hat however, was a lesson in retail hell. Not because I'm picky. Not because it's winter and toques outnumber sun hats 10 to 1. Not because I have a tiny head. But because I have a tiny head, I'm picky, it's winter and toques outnumber sun hats 10 to 1.  It. Took. Hours.  I still don't know why or even how Mr. Bastard kept up with me.  I tried on every hat in every store in every department in Southern Calgary.  Kids hats fit better.  Ladies hats look better. Why don't they make this hat style, with that material, in this size and that colour? Eventually, and after many, many, many trips to the mirror, I found a hat. It wasn't perfect, but it was the material I wanted, it mostly fit and I had been dragging Mr. Bastard through store after store for hours.  I bought it, and was happy that my head and face would be protected from the sun. Mr. Bastard was also happy.

Have I mentioned the sun makes me nervous?  I'd never been to a warm place, ever. I have never had a reason to really fear the sun, but some days in Calgary it can be 30 degrees Celsius, and wow. That is hot. My brain turns to mashed potatoes. I get fatigued. I hate the heat yet here I was about to embark on a tropical vacation, but I was armed and ready. I had sunscreen. I had sandals. I had a hat. 

Within 16 hours of arriving in Hawaii, Mr. Bastard and I had picked up our car, checked in to our hotel, slept, woke up, procured breakfast, driven across the entire Island, found a very cool waterfall to explore and I immediately lost my hat.

This is the last known location (and only photo) of my hat. 

We then spent four of our seven days in paradise searching for the perfect replacement....  

The replacement. I did not lose this hat.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) big island hawaii photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2018/5/the-big-island Wed, 09 May 2018 03:49:49 GMT
The Greatest Adventure https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/10/the-greatest-adventure When I pointed the jeep toward the mountains after work, I didn't expect the biggest adventure would take place miles away from the hike I had planned.  With Creepy dog quickly bored of the passing scenery and settled into her bed, and a mass of camera gear, hiking boots and a comically oversized back pack occupying the entire back seat, we throttled toward the trail head. But first - I needed to eat some dinner, and not just anything would do. I wanted a burger. Something that would fuel me for the hike ahead but would be fast to pick up and eat. I would sooner starve than miss out on some good light. 

In my haste to beat rush hour traffic however, I had chosen a route void of fast food options. As I ventured out of city limits, the burger options dwindled, and soon became mere cows dotting the landscape. I pointed the cows out to Creepy and she immediately jolted out of her slumber and stared in the opposite direction I was pointing. Creepy loves cows.

I wasn't worried about the lack of fast food options though, I was approaching a cluster of small towns located in some of the finest farming and ranching areas in the province, surely, I would be able to find a burger. And I did.

I walked up to the trailer window to look at the menu while Creepy dog sniffed around the patio for leftovers. My first thought probably should have been "Why am I the only one here during dinner time?" or "The granola bars I packed will probably be good enough" or even a simple "Food poisoning is bad for you" but instead I went with "Oh! Well that sounds good!"

I placed my order and watched as the cook slapped a great deal of meat onto the grill. This wasn't going to be as fast as I thought it would be, and I took Creepy dog for a walk around the block. When I returned, there was a parcel waiting for me on the counter. I peeked inside and discovered it was my dinner. I decided I would dig in once I was on the highway again to save time, and loaded the parcel into the jeep.  Once in the drivers side again, I noticed the burger occupied a great deal of the dashboard space and created a slight blind spot.  I did my best to keep my eyes on the road ahead while Creepy kept close watch over the burger. 

Back at cruising speed again, I retrieved the parcel from the dashboard and peeled the packaging slightly in order to contain the burger . I attempted a bite and came out with a mouthful of lettuce, paper and regret. I had greatly underestimated my road food capabilities. The burger was placed back on the dashboard and I began a 67 kilometre decision making process.

Do I pull over and just eat?
It's too hot out, I'd need to find somewhere shady to park.
I've been driving for an hour now, how can it be the middle of the prairie still? How long until I find the next trees?
I could go until the trail head, there's trees there, it will be cooler in the mountains too.
No, can't do that, the burger will be cold by then.
What if I just tried to drive and eat, but ... just ... do it better this time?

The burger was retrieved from it's perch on the dashboard, and another bite attempted. This time, I emerged victorious with a mouthful of food, but there was a problem.  I had damaged the structural integrity of the burger, and it was now losing sauce. The packaging was reaching critical sogginess. I had no choice. I pulled over to the side of the road to tackle the burger with everything I had.

In the sweltering heat, I visually inspected the burger.  It was a mass of bun, meat, other meat, and a pile of vegetables. I opened my mouth as practice, I wasn't entirely confident the burger would fit.  I rotated the burger 12 degrees clockwise and opened my mouth again.  It just didn't seem like it would be physically possible to get a bite with a good bun -fixin's- burger ratio without causing myself physical harm. I longed for a table, a plate a knife and fork and maybe a cheerleader or two for moral support.  As I studied the burger and packaging, deciding on the best course of action, Creepy dog stared intently at me from her seat next to mine. Creepy loves cows.

Finally, I threw caution to the wind and took as big of a bite as my jaw would allow.  Immediately, the burger exploded within the confines of the parcel, and the sauce made it's way through the bottom of the packaging and onto my lap. I placed a napkin on my lap to catch the drips, but the sauce soon began creating a precarious jalapeno flavoured time bomb in my crotch.  I panicked.  One hand punched the burger out the open driver's side window, sauce dripping  down my arm and into my armpit.  In the other hand,  I scooped the napkin up and flung the sauce out the window, dripping it down the side of the jeep. There is a slight chance the sauce permanently discoloured the driver side door paint of the jeep, my armpits, however, survived unscathed.

This was messier than expected. 

I stretched my body up against the steering wheel and strained to reach my face out the window to match my dinner laden fist. I tried to take a bite, my upper torso leaning out the driver's side window but I was just too short  to make it work. Defeated, I slumped back in to the driver's seat, my left hand slowly became saturated with sauce as it held my dinner just out of my reach.  When the flies  began to buzz around, I shook my hand to drive them away and lettuce flew out of the burger. A fly, caught in the crossfire struggled on the windowsill, covered in combination of lettuce and sauce, much like I had done moments before.  I desperately looked around for a solution, there had to be a better way.

I spotted Creepy's portable hiking water dish, unfolded it and placed the dish daintily on to my lap, like the classy lady that I am.  I centred the burger over top the 3 inch diameter target, and rolled up the window to keep out the flies.  This burger had put up a good fight, but I don't lose fights to food. It was getting uncomfortably hot in the jeep, and I just wanted to get this ordeal over so we could get moving again. With Creepy on standby to pick up the pieces, I tore in to the burger and somehow wound up with an entire essay about it.

Proof of the size of the burger, you can barely see my legs! Okay, maybe the cell phone photo doesn't really do it justice, but the fact that I saved the photo after all these months should say enough. 

I will spare you the most graphic details of the burger consumption, I'll just say that by the end, my sunglasses were so greasy, I was unable to clean them enough to drive safely. Fortunately, I had a spare pair along with me.  The greasy sunglasses may have explained the butter I found on my eyelid later, but what confuses me is that 3 hours passed by the time I noticed I'd been wandering around with a buttered eyelid.  To complete my burger ensemble, I found chunks of onion and lettuce on my left shoulder - I'm going to tell you that I don't know how that happened, but truthfully, I was probably trying to fan myself with the burger in an attempt to cool down. As I sat there, about to finish eating and move on, some fishermen appeared across the highway. The fishermen looked at me, and smiled pityingly as they climbed into their trucks and drove away. I still wonder how much they had witnessed.

Once I was sufficiently marinated in hamburger fixings, Creepy dog and I went for a solo sunset hike in the alpine.  That seems like that's where the adventure should begin, but I had already tackled the greatest challenge of the day and succeeded.  A solo walk into grizzly country would be a piece of cake. As delicious as I must have smelled, not even a raven disturbed the peaceful valley we hiked into. No passing cars or distant sirens, no ringing cell phones or chatter, not even the sound of a plane passing overhead. The only sound was from my boots steadily gaining distance on the trail, the water trickling down the valley from unknown sources and the wind whirling clouds above me. 

But that's not what's important here, the important thing is that I ate that entire burger without any help from anyone. I'll admit, it wasn't always pretty but a little recognition would have been nice, like a polaroid on the wall and a plaque with my name engraved on it next to the cash register. I don't ask for much. 

Creepy and I scrambled up the creek for a better vantage point so I could watch the last light of day leave the mountains in the Elk Range.  With so much empty and beautiful space laid out in front of me, the sense of isolation left me feeling both utterly terrified yet completely elated. It was a strange and wonderful feeling. I felt full, and I don't think it was because of the burger.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) burger calgary failure kananaskis landscape https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/10/the-greatest-adventure Tue, 17 Oct 2017 03:17:43 GMT
Ha Ling https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/7/ha-ling The clock read 10:43 pm as I set my alarm to ring at midnight, a mere hour and seventeen minutes to fall asleep and wake up again. "Photography is a stupid hobby" I muttered to myself, and shut off the bedside lamp. Instantaneously, the "It's 12:30, you're late, you should probably skip the shower" alarm rang and I bolted out of bed before I had the chance to protest.  Not this time Llisa. Not this time.

Approximately 30 minutes prior, at the ringing of the first alarm, I had somehow convinced myself that I was definitely awake and was only going to rest my eyes for a few minutes before getting out of bed. I had accomplished this by placing my left foot on the ground and promptly falling asleep. The memories of the incident are hazy, but the outcome was clear - I had fallen for the oldest line in the book. The morning's objective was to be in the mountains and well above tree line before the sun rose, I did some mental math to calculate sunrise minus drive and hiking time and decided to ignore the alarm clock for a second time that morning. Despite the warning on the alarm clock to skip the shower, I turned on the bathtub faucet and stepped in to the tub. I figured cleaning the dirt off could only help a person become more aerodynamic, and I could use all the help I could get now that I was behind schedule. 

The familiar drive from Calgary to Canmore, punctuated by dots of light on the horizon from approaching cars, was made more interesting by making up the life story of the occupants.  What kind of crazy person would be out driving at this time of day, I wondered as I daydreamed my way West. In a flash, I pulled in to the trail head parking lot.  The drive had flown by, yet somehow, I was still 30 minutes behind schedule. 

Normally, my pre-dawn-pre-hike routine starts by cracking the door of the truck open an inch to let some reality in, followed by the talking into or out of what I have planned, carefully weighing pros (sunrise photos) and cons (might miss the sunrise and this will be a waste of time, death) The culmination of the talk can end one of two ways, either the door is flung open and a pair of hiking boots hit the ground, or the door is carefully shut, ignition key turned and I retreat feeling a little bit sheepish. On this day however, the schedule was too tight for pep talks, and my boots hit the ground before I had a chance to properly consider my options.

Having hiked the Ha Ling trail once before, in the daytime, two years ago, with a horde of fellow hikers, I was fairly confident in my ability to hike it again, in the dark, alone.  I reached the obvious monument marking the beginning of the trail with ease and I commended myself on my excellent route finding abilities as I stepped into the forest. The glow of my headlamp illuminated the gnarled tree roots exposed by thousands of boots, and I picked my way over every tripping hazard, slowly forging upward. Occasionally, I would find myself in a grove of bushes, and once, I found myself with toes toward a rather intimidating cliff overlooking the valley.  Each time I would use my superior deduction and route finding skills to figure out that wasn't part of the trail, turn myself one hundred eighty degrees, and follow my flashlight towards a safer, more easily travelled path.  My underwear was clean, but it wasn't emergency room clean and I wouldn't want to embarrass my mother like that. Not today Llisa. Not today.

If there's one thing I have learned about hiking over the past few years, it's the importance of pace. My own pace is an embarrassing rate at which to travel. It's not unlike an octogenarian's epic journey toward the bathroom light at 2 o'clock in the morning. I move forward a mere six inches at a time, my feet barely crossing in front of each other, at turtle speed. I'm painfully aware that I look like I might keel over and die at any second, but oddly enough, with my old man mountain shuffle I can now complete hikes in a fraction of the time they used to take me, without getting too tired.  It's doubly satisfying to shamble past hikers who previously left me in their dust on their numerous breaks, but that is a daytime hiker's game and there was nothing on this trail to race except the quickly approaching dawn.

It could have been my old man mountain shuffle that brought me above treeline well ahead of schedule, or perhaps it was my freshly shorn legs and lusciously shampooed hair cutting down on wind resistance. I set my camera bag down right in the middle of the saddle between Ha Ling and Miner's Peak, not only before sunrise, but with enough time to spare to change into some warmer clothes, brew a cup of instant coffee and settle in for the show. The wind howled high above Canmore, and I teetered around with my tripod for stability, bracing myself against the force.  I found a little bit of shelter behind a boulder and observed tiny specks of hikers far in the distance, giving scale to the immense rock walls below them. I silently saluted their insomniac insanity, and snapped a photo.  

As the sun rose in the East, it lit up the mountain underneath my feet in an orange glow and I marvelled in every direction. The warmth of my blue speckled enamel coffee mug touched my lips and I drank it all in, both the coffee and views.   The camera was poised and ready, but I ignored it for a moment in order to fully appreciate the scene unfolding before me as the clouds turned a brilliant pink and the first rays of sun touched my face.  I always thought it was a shame that more people don't put the extra effort in to witness the sun rise, but as I stood there beaming back at the sun, I didn't mind the lack of company. Maybe photography wasn't such a stupid hobby after all. 

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Canmore Ha Kanananaskis Landscape Ling Photography Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/7/ha-ling Sun, 09 Jul 2017 06:26:36 GMT
A Dirty Mind https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/4/a-dirty-mind The landscape of my psyche could probably be best compared to a dive bar bathroom. Unapologetically messy, a little bit dark and littered with tips about where to go for a good time.  Unfortunately, just like the scribbled notes written on the wall of a bathroom stall inside a dive bar, there's also a lot of half formed ideas and misinformation thrown into the mix. This misinformation occasionally makes it a bit difficult to decipher where I should actually go for a good time, and where I should go if I just want to wind up feeling kind of dirty and wholly unrewarded.

Of course, I'm talking about landscape photography locations.  Rather than poorly translated phone numbers scribbled on to napkins, there are notes strewn around my house with tales of mountain faces, lakes and other assorted neat looking things to point a camera at. But just like a randomized ten digit number, not all of those scraps of paper are a sure thing. In fact, lately I've been striking out seemingly every time I head for the door, a real dry spell despite my penchant for coming home soaking wet after standing around in various pools of water.

Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's bad timing, the wrong location or some cruel combination of the three. Maybe it's the camera gear or heaven forbid that human located behind the lens.

Maybe my standards have risen beyond my capabilities for the time being. It happens from time to time, a necessary part of growing, but damn if it doesn't start to get a little bit discouraging after a while.

Whatever the issue, it's made for some long, cold, boring photo shoots these last few months.

Just the other morning, I spent nearly two hours fidgeting in a muddy puddle along the side of the highway waiting for the sun to rise. I rearranged rocks along the side of the ditch. I shuffled my feet, sometimes dancing to poorly hummed music, but more often silently to stay warm. I pointlessly narrated every lens change, every filter change every shuffle of the tripod to my audience of birds. I knelt down in the mud and stirred all the ice in the puddle with a stick until it was broken up into tiny little pieces. At one point, I even spent a few minutes imitating the initial wash cycle of an old top loading clothes washer, twisting my torso back and forth with rubber arms and letting inertia wrap them around my body. Limp, spaghetti arms flailing from side to side to side to side to side. Still, the sun would not show itself. 

If you're getting into photography so you can tell your friends about the glamorous life you lead,  you have two options: Don't get into landscape photography, or lie.

Notice how the puddle is ice free?  I did that with only a small stick and a great deal of time.

The most common way for me to pass time while I wait for an unavoidably anticlimactic rising of the sun has been to pull a second camera out of the bag with my squeaky old telephoto lens, and kill time zoomed in to 200mm.  It's how I have accidentally produced the beginning of a new series which I desperately hope not to have to continue working on, but know that it's continued progression as a body of work is as inevitable as cloudy mornings in the Rockies.  The series is yet to be named, partially because I'm afraid if I name the images my discontent with the conditions under which they were made will shine through, and partially because despite all that I still like them. Besides, at the end of the day I don't really mind standing in a drainage ditch for hours on end, because time spent doing what you love, is still time well spent, and even if all I'm doing is flailing my arms from side to side -  I still have a camera in my hands. 



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Failure Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/4/a-dirty-mind Wed, 19 Apr 2017 01:34:27 GMT
The Distortion 10 Year Party https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/2/distortion-10-year-anniversary The team at Calgary's haven for live music, Distortion (affectionately known throughout it's four locations simply as "The D") recently celebrated their 10th anniversary of entrepreneurship.  I've attended many shows at the club in it's current location as well as the Distillery locations in the decade before.  Like most of the family that frequents the space, the memories we've made over the past ten years are cherished.  For myself, I played some of my first gigs on bass at it's 5th Avenue location, got married in the Ballroom location and photographed my first wedding at the third location.  Most importantly, and a common theme among it's patrons, I made lifelong friends under it's roof. 

The party to celebrate those ten years of memories was, considering the venue, appropriately chaotic.  With performances from some of the city's best long time running bands, reunion shows, freak shows, dancing girls and more, I came home bruised and grinning from being in the mosh pit like I was 20 years old again.  With a beer in one hand and a camera in the other, I tried my best to balance documenting the night and toasting those who have spent the last ten years not only building up a business, but tirelessly cultivating a community in the process.

Here's to another 10 years Distortion.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Calgary Distortion Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/2/distortion-10-year-anniversary Tue, 14 Feb 2017 19:56:19 GMT
Sleeklens Review - https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/2/sleeklens-review I'll be the first to admit, I suck at editing photos.

I'm impatient, slow to learn new techniques and generally an old fashioned curmudgeon when it comes to editing photos. I don't like to go too crazy in Photoshop on an image, partially because it's kind of boring to sit around on a computer, but also because I spent a bunch of money on camera filters to get things right in camera (And then watched them bounce 100 feet down a cliff face. Thanks Mt. Yamnuska)  So when Sleeklens recently got in touch with me and offered to send over a sample of their Adventure Landscape photoshop actions to review for them, I was a bit hesitant to say "yes."  However, I am a HUGE fan of free things, and so I found myself with a new toy to play with and a review to write.

I've never used Photoshop actions before and I was a bit relieved when Sleeklens also provided some foolproof youtube instructions on how to get started along with their loot. I watched a few seconds to get the basic idea because I'm impatient and then with barely enough knowledge to be dangerous, hunkered down to dig out some photos to edit.  

I chose a recent image from Marble Canyon to play with, having edited my own version the day before and coming up with the photo below, I wanted to see how these Sleeklens actions compared to my normal workflow. I wasn't expecting much, but I was basing my entire opinion of the workflow on their brand name Sleeklens. The name kind of rolls off the tongue, it sounds smooth, and cool and maybe a little bit like a guy who uses too much pomade in his hair. I was intrigued, slightly uncomfortable and I may have accidentally agreed to a second date. I don't know....

What have I gotten myself into? 

Above: My own edit, the old fashioned way with luminosity masks the way Ansel Adams intended!

I chose a similar photo and brought it in to Photoshop for basic raw adjustments as I normally would do:

Oh yeah. To hell with highlights, give me some more of that clarity slider baby.

And then took some time to deal with my dust spots.  
A lot of time.
This isn't even the worst image I have for dust either.
Who the hell shoots at F16? Fricken idiots, that's who...
This dust business is out of control.
What the hell.
I digress....

Finally, I added a few Photoshop actions to finish the image up. You can see the ones I used on the right side of the screen cap, below,  although I found myself  bringing the opacity of each action way way down.  The basic adjustments the actions are set to are, in my opinion, overpowered.  I prefer to keep things at least semi realistic and it was easy to get completely out of control. I hope I managed to keep the final image within believable range.

I did really enjoy choosing the "Enhance" actions, likely because of my odd internal monologue repeating "Enhance" in a robot voice any time I clicked the play button and then giggling madly to myself when it actually worked. 


Final image: Sleeklens workflow. Enhanced.
I will admit, the weather in my area certainly has played a part in how thoroughly I have been "researching" these new Photoshop actions, a foot of new snow and temperatures hovering just above -30C have me happily committed to my desk for the foreseeable future.  Had this review been written in the summertime, I likely would have played around with them for a photo or two and then hastily declared the actions to be not for me, not for my workflow and left it at that.  Many of the actions are over the top. They're gaudy if you don't take advantage of masking them in properly or substantially lowering the opacity of the layer. Often,  I found them to be generally inappropriate for the image. But like anything in Photoshop, the advantages come along with an adjustment and learning period. I know, whoever thought I would be learning at my age?.  But with time to kill, I had some time to learn how to use them, and found that once you can find out where they fit in to your own process, they are quite useful.  You just need to set aside the time to learn when and where to use them.

I decided I would see just how far I was willing to push things and it quickly escalated

Start off slow, I'm only enhancing what was already there. Maybelline style.

Maybe I'll push it a bit further, see if anyone will notice....

Fuck it.  Let's create  a golden hour at mid afternoon because we can.  (The original photo was vastly different, taken in mid day light and converted to black and white)

That's when my inner Jeff Goldblum shut me down.
Just because I can, doesn't mean I should.


As it turns out, you can do quite a bit with this little set of Sleeklens Photoshop actions. Given my grumpy old lady stance on editing photos, I don't think they're the be all and end all of photo editing, but that's totally fine. It's good practice to start with a solid image worth putting time into, and not rely on Photoshop to go on a recovery mission. The images I edited that I thought sucked to begin with, still sucked after throwing some Sleeklens actions at them. Garbage in, garbage out.  

I would like to see these actions improved upon in the future with more options for using layers and layer masks, I like to have a safety net to fall back on when I'm editing and a lot of the processes tend to have you working on the background layer which makes me cringe and hit undo a lot. Even as they are now I'll likely be adding them to my arsenal of "Photoshop things that I know how to do" in the future, it's nice to have a new little tool in the kit, and they are useful tools if you take the time to learn how to use them.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Landscape Photography Photoshop Review Sleeklens https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/2/sleeklens-review Thu, 09 Feb 2017 05:43:23 GMT
Another Trip Around the Sun https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/1/another-trip-around-the-sun

I recently spent the weekend nestled in a cabin in the mountains between Banff and Lake Louise to celebrate another trip around the sun.  I could have happily stayed out there forever, but Creepy-dog was a bit concerned that we lived there now, and spent every night crying to go home.  Sleep deprived, I was determined to make the most of my time and set my alarms to make sure I didn't miss out on any good light to point a camera at.  As I sat at the kitchen table in the dark at 6 am, nursing a precious cup of coffee and calculating how long I could nap before the sun rose, I was painfully aware that only a few years ago the annual celebration would have seen me awake from dusk to dawn with only a fraction of the effort and only self inflicted pain. I finished my coffee, scrutinized the dark circles under my eyes, grabbed my camera bag and hobbled out the door, wondering if the local wolf pack would accept a cute new member by the name of Creepy.

The week before,  I had unsuccessfully scouted a location near Lake Louise for a potential sunrise photo, losing a pair of hiking poles in the process.  After trudging through the snow for a few hours, I determined that the best views were in fact, at the trail head parking lot.   Fortunately the scouting trip wasn't a complete waste of time, I had noticed a far more accessible location earlier in the day, and upon returning a week later, made it my first stop for sunrise.  

As hundreds of vehicles whizzed by, I slowly waded through open channels of the Bow River and quickly tuned out the sounds of the Trans Canada Highway. 

I kicked myself for choosing an East facing range to focus on with such an explosive sunrise behind me, but just as I suspected, the first light of the day lit up the peaks of the Massive Range to the West in a brilliant display of alpenglow. I tried my best to steady the tripod on mounds of ice over the open water, failing often but occasionally succeeding.  

After the sun rose, I met up with Mr. Bastard and Creepy for a quick little hike in to one of the quiet hidden gems in Banff National Park,  Silverton Falls. Located under a kilometre from the road, by 10 am I was in bed for my first nap of the day. 

Later, we drove up to Johnstons Canyon and upon seeing the chaos in the parking lot, decided the lesser known Marble Canyon in nearby Kootenay National Park was a much more desirable afternoon stroll.  

Mr. Bastard struggled up some of the trail at Marble Canyon while I lagged behind him, bragging about my grippy yak-traxed hiking boots and breezing up the snow packed hills. Unfortunately, my grippy boots couldn't save me when, to the delight of Mr. Bastard, I fell into a snow covered hole and did a dramatic slow motion face plant into the snow. I shut up about my boots after that...

(Mr. Bastard would like to state for the record, that despite his non-grippy boots, he didn't fall, not even once)

Bastard family portrait, me coated in a fresh coat of snow after a less than graceful moment

I decided the area would be my next sunrise destination, and early next morning I yak-traxed my way up the trail again and set up my camera and tripod on a bridge overlooking the canyon.  The stillness of a cold winter dawn enveloped me and everything in sight. Feeling very alone but not wanting to miss out on a potential photo, I fidgeted nervously as I waited for the sun to rise. Fiddling with the camera, re-positioning the tripod and cursing at the one tree in the frame that I couldn't cut out.

Suddenly, I heard a peculiar squeaking sound and my heart leapt in to my throat.  It's the middle of winter! What could possibly squeak out here? My mind settled on the most logical conclusion.


My eyes darted nervously as I gripped my bear spray, looking for the squeaking pack of ravenous wolves.  They must be famished if they can only muster out such a pathetic squeak.  My hands trembled as I started to move my camera gear back towards the bag to pack and make a hasty exit.  The tripod legs brushed against the bridge railing, squeaking as they folded in.  With solid evidence refuting my hypothesis about a pack of ravenous squeaking wolves now laid before me, I still required a few deep breaths to calm the nerves and steady the camera.

"It's only the tripod" I muttered to myself.
I yelled out "IT'S ONLY THE TRIPOD!" injecting a little bit of humanity into the stillness of the morning.
I felt better, and with the sun rising, there was no more time for silly fears.  
I snapped a few photos of the composition I had decided on the day before, but noticing the light on the mountains in the distance further down the highway I abandoned my post and sprinted down the trail.

Only a few kilometres down the road, it became clear that I was going to miss out on the light I was chasing, and turned the truck around to head for home. Feeling a bit dejected, I pulled into a little rest stop to try to salvage some scenery and early morning atmosphere while I still could. I waded through thigh deep snow, using the squeaky legged tripod to keep me upright. It wasn't long before I found a little pocket of photographic goodness.  I smiled as I knelt down in a pool of open water among the snowdrifts, snapped a photo and vowed to return before I had even left.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff Banff National Park Calgary Kootenay National Park Landscape Photography Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2017/1/another-trip-around-the-sun Wed, 01 Feb 2017 02:41:39 GMT
2016 Favourite Moments https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/12/2016-favourite-moments  

My first photography outing of 2016 was on the coldest day of the winter, I’d left the house without a clue where to go and had been aimlessly driving around the city for hours, feeling completely uninspired. For me, trying to capture a photo I’m happy with before having at least a location in mind is usually a recipe for disaster. With the sunrise only minutes away, the morning’s effort to crawl out of bed, go out in frigid temperatures and commit the rest of the day to exhaustion was soon to be a massive waste of time. On track for disaster, something finally clicked and I had the idea I’d been waiting for. 
I sped over to Nose Hill Park and paid a visit to a tree that I’ve been photographing since I was but a wee fledgling landscape photographer. I’d never put in a decent amount of effort at that particular location, and with minutes to spare before dawn I was able to compose a photograph that I’m still really happy with. When the sun peeped over the horizon and set the frosty tree ablaze, I knew it was going to be a good start to the year.



Red Rock Coulee has been on my radar for ages, my birthday gift to myself this year was a luxurious car camping trip in the middle of January where I spoiled myself with a $4 pack of cheese strings and some warm premade caesars. I had to cut my trip short due to a winter storm, which made me really want to see the place in the summer. 6 months later I returned for another attempt at seeing a nice sunrise, instead I got more than I bargained for when I woke to find myself in the path of a wild prairie storm. Being completely alone on the prairies, surrounded by lightning was an unforgettable experience, although a tad bit nerve wracking.



Lake Agnes is high on the list of favourite places of mine. I love to visit in the early hours of the morning before the sun and the crowds arrive. However one of the highlights of my year was spending a night above the lake during the summer solstice to watch the sun go down and wait for the stars come out. Even better was the leisurely downhill hike for sunrise.

Fairy Tale in Lake AgnesFairy Tale in Lake Agnes


When we made the decision to wander down Highway 22 early in the New Year, our plan was to pick random roads heading West to see what we could find for a nice Saturday afternoon drive. We found some lovely areas tucked away in the South West corner of Alberta, but eventually we also found some trouble.

The deeper we got into the mountains, the more snow we found and eventually we were driving in some ruts in the hard packed snow. Twenty kilometres away from anything, out of cell range, on a steep mountain road with a cliff on one side, the hard packed snow gave way. The jeep sunk. We were stuck. We had unknowingly ended up driving the jeep on a snowmobile trail.

With darkness falling quickly we debated what to do. Do we stay the night and walk out in the morning? Do we try to keep on going and try to make it to the next town? Could we get the jeep turned around without going over the cliff? Though we had supplies packed in case we had to spend the night, our adrenaline was through the roof and our normally hyper Creepy-dog cowered in the back seat of the jeep.

With the help of some shovels and some rather tense manoeuvring, we managed to dig our way out and get turned around. This is the triumphant Mr. Bastard and Rambo (the jeep) posing in a freezing cold wind tunnel shortly after returning to solid ground. It may not have resulted in the best photos, but it was definitely a memorable moment for us in 2016.


It’s not often I get to hang out with my little brother, it’s even less often I can convince someone to wake up at 3 am and start walking up a mountain with me but I got to do both at the same time with a sunrise hike up Abbott Ridge in Glacier National Park. The opportunity to watch the sun peek over Mt Sir Donald while sipping a cup of hot chocolate with my little brother ranks as one of my favourite moments this year.

Mt Sir DonaldMt Sir Donald

My most memorable moment of 2016 - Rawson Lake at Sunrise

I have attempted to get here for sunrise on multiple occasions in the past few years and failed, most of the time due to the fact that I find hiking 4 km alone in the dark more than a little terrifying. Rawson Lake seemed to be the unattainable location and I had built the place up in my head a little bit. A dangerous thing to do, as I could have been setting myself up for a major disappointment.
However, this fall, after sitting at the trail head two weekends in a row trying to convince myself to leave the safety of the truck I finally made it. As I approached the lake in the moments before dawn and saw the head wall gleaming through the trees, the beauty of the scene left me breathless and the only words I could mutter into the silence was a hushed "wow"
I was treated to a gorgeous sunrise and the nice feeling of having achieved a goal before hearing (probably imagining) an animal in the trees behind me and took that as my cue to leave.


A Very Rawson MorningA Very Rawson Morning A Super Rawson MorningA Super Rawson Morning


Happy New Year everyone, thanks for following along.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Failure Glacier Landscape National Park Photography YOHO https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/12/2016-favourite-moments Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:57:20 GMT
Nate Trash's Birthday Show https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/12/nate-trashs-birthday-show Select photos of World Class White Trash, Bogue Brigade and Snakepit at Nate Trash's birthday party.
Distortion, Calgary, AB 
All rights reserved, for licensing requests please use the contact form

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Distortion Metal Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/12/nate-trashs-birthday-show Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:31:54 GMT
Press Gang CD Release https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/press-gang-cd-release Select photos from the Press Gang CD Release party  with Pelican Death Squad, The Foul English, Electric Revival & The Press Gang

October 29, 2016
Distortion, Calgary, AB 


Pelican Death Squad


The Foul English with their brand of "Dadcore" punk.


I love photographing The Electric Revival, not only because of the awesome music but for Dan's hair.  Just once, I wanted to get a photo of Dan's hair whips with his face visible and I was able to get quite a few shots I liked. 

The Press Gang, home from a very successful cross Canada tour. It was great to hear the new Album from start to finish and to finally have the new cd in my hands. You can get your own copy here

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Calgary Metal Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/press-gang-cd-release Mon, 31 Oct 2016 18:34:06 GMT
Chester Lake https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/chester-lake Tossing and turning until well after midnight, I can't say I was all that surprised that I slept through my 2 am alarm clock, still, I was a bit disappointed in myself.  Mr. Bastard had gone to Saskatoon the day before and I was looking forward to spending the day in the mountains.  I dragged myself out of bed, 7 am, too damn early for a Saturday and yet still too late to catch any of the good light.  These weekends go by so fast, I feel guilty when I waste a perfectly good opportunity to go photograph things.  I slunk toward the kitchen, warmed a cup of day old coffee in the microwave and then collapsed onto the couch.  I didn't quite feel sick, but I sure didn't feel well either. A mere flight of stairs had already felt like too much effort and I decided I would need to formulate a new plan that was a bit more gentle on the body than the intensive two day sunrise chasing photo frenzy I had hoped for.

I mulled over my options. I'd heard about something similar to the sunrise phenomenon that might also afford good photographic opportunities, and then it dawned on me. 


Of course!
It had all the qualifications I was looking for: golden light, reasonable hours of operation and I could even make up for the missed sunrise.  I did some calculations in my head, sunset at 6:30 pm minus one hour fifty four minutes driving and 5 km hiking equals I have to leave the house at 2:30 pm. So I left promptly at 2:30 and arrived at the trail head deep in the mountains two hours later, already six minutes behind schedule.  Sunset, with it's reasonable hours,  had one drawback as I grumbled about the amount of traffic I'd encountered.  I wasted no time and began lacing up my boots when I noticed a peculiar sound emanating from the rear of the jeep.




The tire was losing air at a rapid rate and I didn't have a spare.


I dug around in the jeep for a pen and scrap piece of paper and scribbled out some instructions and a phone number. 


Flat tire

Chester Lake Trail head

No Rush


Maybe sunset with its reasonable hours, wasn’t so bad, I thought, as a young couple wandered out of the forest right on cue. “Excuse me” I asked “Are you returning to civilisation?”  The couple stared at me. I remembered we were in a parking lot, in the woods and the parking lot was nearly deserted. I tried to smile and curled my mouth upwards in the least axe murdery way I could. “Civilisation, are you headed to town? I have a flat tire, can you text my husband for me?” The couple inspected my flat tire with pitying looks and readily took the piece of paper I scribbled on. Mikey was on his way home from Saskatoon last I’d heard, it would be  a few hours before he got my message. I thanked the couple and then started up the trail.

The whole sunset business had quickly gained another point, hiking alone in the day light is significantly less terrifying than hiking in the dark and I marvelled at the scenery around me. Birds chirped in the trees and I welcomed the sound rather than freezing in terror wondering what that noise was. The mountains soon appeared over the tops of the trees as I gained elevation and I resisted the urge to stop and photograph them, I knew that the view would keep getting better if I kept on. I reached the meadows before the lake as the sky began to glow a brilliant gold, and that’s when I noticed the bear in the distance.

I stopped dead in my tracks. The bear stopped grazing and turned towards me. We stared at each other across the meadows, sizing up the situation, frozen, neither of us quite sure what to do.  My heart beat at a million miles a minute, its times like this I hate hiking alone.  I debated with myself. Should I leave? Should I keep going?  I’m safe now, but what if it wanders closer to the trail while I’m at the lake?  I clutched the bear spray in my hand, my eyes darting between the golden light and the bear, between certain photographic opportunities and possible maybe certain death.  It was a tough choice until I noticed a gleam of white reflecting in the sun. Antlers.  It was only a moose-bear, more commonly known as a moose that only looks like a bear from far away to the paranoid hiker.  I relaxed a little bit and scurried towards the lake.

Moose-bears, flat tires and traffic notwithstanding, I had timed the trip a little bit too perfectly. Driving time and hiking time were well accounted for, and I arrived at sunset as I had planned.  What I forgot to account for was the absolute chaos that broke out once I arrived at the lake. Layers I had shed on the way needed to be put back on, right side out. The boots came off and then had to be put back on and re-laced.  My camera bodies had no batteries, no memory cards and no lenses attached and the assembly was a little difficult with my cold fingers. My tripod, nearly frozen shut, required coaxing to open and then there was the issue of a composition.

 I’ve grown accustomed to having some sort of a plan in place when I take photos, but having never laid eyes on Chester Lake before I had no idea what to expect. I had no plan for this place and it showed. I ran across a bridge with my gear in tow and immediately negated having used the bridge at all when I splashed into the outflow creek, nearly slipping on the algae covered rocks.  I set up a camera squarely in the middle of the creek and then promptly decided to switch lenses for each camera. I juggled all the gear precariously, somehow rescuing the leaning camera laden tripod without spilling an armload of lenses into the water. My backpack laid in the snow nearby vomited assorted accessories. I was uneasy about being alone, but entirely pleased that I had the place to myself.  Chaos doesn’t like an audience.

Finally, after a multitude of lens changes and filter swaps, I got into a system and snapped long exposures with one camera while using the other camera to shoot some telephoto photos in the opposite direction.  I finished one last long exposure and, seeing the swath of sunlight bathing the mountain face in a pastel pink wash, decided I’d need yet another lens swap and a slightly different composition for that particular shot.  I stuffed as much of the gear into the backpack, shouldered the tripod and carefully tiptoed across the creek once more.  I sprinted up the bank of the creek, threw the backpack in another pile of snow, plunked down the tripod, swapped lenses, readjusted the composition, removed a filter, readied the camera to take a photo, placed another filter back on and pressed the shutter just in time to see the last of the light leave the mountain face.

I missed it.

I bloody missed it.

I couldn’t believe it.

I stared around me in disbelief half expecting the sunlight to reappear but it was gone. 

I shook my head at the thought of coming all this way just to miss out by mere seconds.  I snapped a consolation photo and surly stuffed my gear into the backpack. I checked the time, sunset was definitely over and I’d been barely been at the lake for fifteen minutes.  It seems absurd to put in so much effort only to turn around fifteen minutes later.  At least I’d been shooting with two separate cameras, so it was sort of like I was there for half an hour.  By my calculations, I would have just enough time to hike back to the trail head and cook a bit of dinner before Mr. Bastard came to help deal with the flat tire.  I stepped back onto the trail in the quickly darkening forest and hurried back towards civilisation. Once back at the immobilized jeep with a pot of snow and oatmeal slowly turning into dinner on the stove,  I studied the back of my camera screen. I felt like a fisherman coming home with the catch of the day and raving about the one that got away. 



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Failure Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/chester-lake Thu, 27 Oct 2016 01:03:17 GMT
Mice https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/mice Vermin.

I couldn't have been any older than 16 years old by the time I decided that I would instate a lifelong objection to mice and mice related critters which I have deemed to be "gross" or "icky" This lifelong objection shall include, but not be limited to rats, voles, deer mice, field mice, shrews and packrats. Critters related to mice but classified as "cute" or "awwwww" shall not be included in the lifelong objection. 

One dark winter evening, I had entered our dog run after dinner to feed our dogs and refresh their water.  The only light shone from the bulb used to heat the dog house, but I'd performed the chore hundreds of times before and didn't need the light to know where everything was.  I could make my way from the house into the carport and through the gate to the pen with my eyes closed.  The evening I began my lifelong objection to mice, I refreshed the water bowls and went to grab some food for the pups, they wriggled with anticipation as I reached for the 10 gallon bucket high on the shelf above me.

I don't know what happened next, it all happened so quickly and I've been relatively successful at blocking the entire episode from my mind.

Did I reach inside the bucket for the scoop first, or had I clumsily knocked the bucket over before I knew what was inside?
Was my hand, clasped around the scoop, still shoulder deep in the bucket? Or perhaps it was the action of recoiling in horror that caused it to tip towards me.
When the contents of the bucket spilled over me, were the mice satiated from the dog food they had gorged on and happy to be free? Were they upset about losing such a wonderful food source? Had they been planning the ambush all along?
I may never know how that bucket of mice felt about being poured all over me, but I do know what 100 sets of tiny little claws feel like, and I know I don’t like mice.



But the thrill of the camera poised and ready just before dawn can make a girl do strange things. Brave things.

Standing in the farmer’s field early one morning, the countdown to the moment of sunrise in its final minutes. Prairie morning chattering in surround sound.  Early birds chirping loudly as they fly startlingly close to my head in search of the worm they were promised. Wind picks up and rustles golden wheat fields as the first light of the day warms the cool night air.  A peculiar scratching noise in the grass at my feet. What was that? I looked down and noticed the field mice ducking in and out of view between blades of grass. Was it the mice that made that squeaking noise? I think it might have come from me.

"GO AWAY!" I yelled. "SHOO!" Yeah. I shooed the mice away like an irate Disney princess, but the critters continued to rush around my feet, apparently un-phased by my yelling. I shuffled around nervously and stomped my feet as menacingly as I could but the mice laughed in the face of danger and defiantly bumped into my shoes. A mere three layers of rubber, leather and socks were all that protected me from their… touching.   I shuddered at the thought of their tiny little feet touching mine and briefly considered yelling out “FEE FI FO FUM” to remind them of the giant in their midst but thought that might have been a bit cliché.


Despite my best efforts at scaring them away, the mice were not vacating the premises, and continued along with their morning activities.  Right on cue, the sun began it’s grand entrance onto the stage. 

I turned my attention to the task at hand and tried to line up a composition but needed to get a bit lower to make it work.

I tried to get lower to the ground without bending my knees, keeping as much of my body above the grass as possible in case the mice jumped.  The composition needed to be just a little bit lower still.  I bent at the waist and teetered unsteadily, craning my neck to see into the viewfinder. I needed to be just a little bit lower still, and the sun was not waiting around for me to figure out how to do that without touching the ground.

I reluctantly bent a knee.  The left one. Slightly at first but as the photo came into view the knee began creeping towards the ground until finally it landed with a soft thud.  The right knee followed suit and my face, glued to the viewfinder was soon at grass level. The danger zone, but I was already too immersed in the camera to notice.  It wasn’t long before I was scurrying around in the grass on all fours like the very mice I had been avoiding. Once the sun was up and I clicked out of photographer mode, I realized what I had been doing without fear of mice for close to an hour. I briefly considered lifting the lifelong objection, until I arrived back at home to find some telltale little pellets on my kitchen floor.






[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/mice Fri, 21 Oct 2016 03:50:06 GMT
Not so Fearless https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/not-so-fearless One of the ways I like to scout out locations for sunrise photos is Google maps, and I've had a pin set on Rawson Lake for years. The picturesque, mountain bound lake is situated at the bottom of a big rock wall with enough open space to the East to promise some excellent morning light. My absolute favourite kind of location.  So why did it take me so long to get there?

I've used every excuse in the book to mask the fact that ultimately, I was just scared to go there alone.
"There's been a Mama Grizzly bear in the area"

"I can't convince anyone to wake up at 2 am and go hiking with me"
"I slept in" 
"The bridge is out" 
"This other spot is guaranteed to be good, why risk the unknown?" 
And most recently, "Is it really, truly, actually worth doing in a snowstorm?" 

Not that I've ever let a snowstorm stop me in the past, but at least the excuse worked out in my favour.  

I arrived at the trailhead for Rawson Lake promptly at 5:30 am to find that a wall of snow had formed seemingly out of spite along the trail I planned to walk.  I sat there, willing away the clouds and sipping my coffee.  I geared up for the hike anyway but then returned to my seat inside the truck. I perched there studying the clouds and sipping my coffee. I drove away towards the highway only to turn around 5 kilometres later and return to the trailhead.  I sat in my truck sipping coffee and contemplating the clouds.  I drove away again only to return for a final round of shaking my fist at the clouds and sipping my coffee.

Somewhat relieved, I gave up Plan A in favour for Plan B.
The continuation of the snowstorm at Plan B lead me to opt for Plan C.

Plan C was abandoned after only a single photo when the potential of Plan D was realised.
Half a tank of gas later I arrived at the conveniently located roadside Spray Lake just before the sun arrived.
In the end, the choice was a good one and I watched as sunlight flirted with the wall of clouds I had left over an hour before. But it was as if I was being rewarded for my flakiness.

Still, I had been so close to finally seeing a sunrise at Rawson Lake that nothing else would suffice in its place.

It wasn't a week later that I found myself at the trailhead. 


Determined not to make any more excuses.  

Like, for real this time.

The weather conditions were perfect, the bridge was in place, I had just enough time to make it to the lake before the sun and I supplemented two cans of bear spray in lieu of courage and hiking companions.

I set off into the woods, wielding camera lenses and yelling my battle cry of "boats! Boats! BOATS!" into the darkness.  Steadily I climbed, not daring to take a rest lest my fortitude relied on inertia.  The promise of light tumbling down the sheer rock face kept me moving until the mountain appeared through a break in the trees and I froze in place, breathless.  A hint of dawn illuminated the cliff in front of me, it's imposing beauty doubled by the calm reflective waters of the lake. High up a dusting of snow and clouds swirled  in an ethereal dance and for a moment I forgot every problem, every excuse and every fear I had. 


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/10/not-so-fearless Wed, 05 Oct 2016 04:59:29 GMT
Lake Windermere https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/9/lake-windermere It didn't take long for rumour to spread  Moments after our arrival we heard the sordid details from some friends in the campsite next to us.  Allegedly, at 5 o'clock that morning, the campers across the road had woken to the sound of a mother black bear and her two cubs sniffing around their tent and digging into a bag of potato chips.  We surveyed the camp site from a distance, noting the items left on the picnic table and concluding the campers definitely had not learned any lessons about bear safety.  But then attention turned to the campground itself and it's lack of bear proof garbage containers. Maybe bear sightings were such a rare occurrence in the area that I could just push the idea of bears roaming wild in the streets at 5 o'clock in the morning out of my head.  More likely however, that the place was known as one of the best buffets in town among the local wildlife.

We were staying in a resort like campground on Lake Windermere for the weekend to celebrate the impending marriage of two friends, but with me being the kind of friend who shows up to a party with a disembodied head in the back of her truck, I was able to sneak away to partake in some photography with my little pal Deadgar. Unfortunately the time for me to sneak away happened to coincide with the bear laden pre-dawn hour of 5 am.

My pal DeadgarMy pal Deadgar

Above:  Deadgar 

I woke with a start to the shaking of our holiday trailer. The clock read 5 am, the same time of day the bear had been sighted, could it be back and trying to get into my trailer? Do bears have internal clocks that wake them up so they grudgingly get out of bed to go foraging every morning? Did the trailer even actually move, or did I?  I laid in bed for a while pondering my sanity and decided that I was somewhere on the scale between "I like to wake up at 5 am to take pictures" and "I'm okay, I just have vertigo" I got out of bed and peeked out the door, it was dark but as far as I could tell there were no life threatening dangers between me and the bathroom across the campground. I gathered supplies for my morning shower, a can of bear spray in one hand and flashlight in the other.  As an afterthought, I also packed some soap and threw a towel around my neck before setting out for the daily pilgrimage to the bathroom. 

I silently made my way through the dark campground, tip toeing past rows of tents and their peacefully snoring occupants. I opted to forego my usual tactic of yelling out "boats! Boats! BOATS!" to scare away bears in lieu of being a courteous fellow camper.  The sounds faded to silence as I approached the yellow light cast from the bathroom windows. I reached the bottom stair to the building and as I took a step upwards something snorfled underneath my feet.  I jumped up the next four stairs, flung open the door stumbled inside and crashed into a wall. I fumbled around in the dark, did the door push or pull? PUSH OR PULL?  It was pull. I violently pulled the door closed and turned the lock. Then I unlocked it in case someone had to pee. Then debated leaving the outside door unlocked but locking the door to just the women's side but eventually reached a decision to just leave both doors unlocked because whatever the hell had just snorfled at me obviously couldn't open doors very well if it was sleeping underneath a set of stairs. 

This day was not off to a good start. 

I showered, and after a few deep breaths to lower my heart rate, stepped outside to take stock of the situation. The space between the stairs was no bigger than a foot wide and using my superior reasoning skills I deduced the snorfling creature living underneath said stairs would have to be quite small to fit and therefore couldn't be too detrimental to my health.  With newfound confidence, I traded in my soap and towel for camera gear and cup of coffee and meandered my way to the beach.  

I switched back and forth between a wide lens and a telephoto, pointed my camera every which way and ended up feeling a little bit like the bears decided not to leave anything that was just right for Goldilocks. If I looked one way, I was dissatisfied with the view, another direction had too many campers in the frame, another direction yet held promise but the light wasn't interesting.  Nothing was good enough. Finally, I decided to try another tactic altogether and hauled my camera gear, coffee and a disembodied head (Deadgar) up a hill.  Below me, tents and campers sprawled out in as far as I could see, but if I kept the camera pointed in a particular direction, it was just right.   

A Matter of PerspectiveA Matter of Perspective


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/9/lake-windermere Wed, 21 Sep 2016 19:01:11 GMT
An Evening Hike https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/8/an-evening-hike Mr. Bastard claims it was misinformation and flat out lying on my part.

I merely mentioned it was approximately 3.5km to Lake Agnes, and that to get up the Big Beehive was an additional thirty minutes. I may have also said something along the lines of "just because the sun is going down, doesn't mean we'll be hiking in the dark". Technically that was all true.

I may have left out some pertinent information for Mr. Bastard though.  Things like the distance to Lake Agnes mentioned was only one way, that extra thirty minutes tacked on to the Beehive portion of the trip didn't actually account for exploration time or getting home again.  Also, despite the sun visibly ducking behind a mountain in front of our eyes, the sunset was closer to 10 pm, though that intel may or may not have have been from a few months ago during the summer solstice. Still, it was light enough to hike without flashlights by the time we were headed home, barely.

I'd been wanting Mr. Bastard to see Lake Agnes for himself for months now, and we had planned to do some hiking on Friday afternoon anyway. It seemed like the perfect opportunity as long as we could get the timing just right and somehow I'd actually convinced Mr. Bastard to opt for an evening jaunt to Lake Louise instead of going to a "very fishable lake" in the much closer and quieter Kananaskis area. You see Lake Louise in the throes of summer is a hell hole for the people like us, who prefer to avoid crowds of people and line ups at all costs. The lake is beautiful, yes, but the beauty is usually accompanied by clenched jaws and a murderous gleam in our eyes as we circle the parking lot in search of a space and then wade through the sea of people around the lake shore.  If you're like us, you usually avoid the area and go elsewhere, but you might be surprised to learn that it's actually not so bad at Lake Louise in the summer if you arrive at off peak times (shhh, don't tell anyone). For me, that time is usually around 3 am so I can be half way up the mountain by the time the sun rises and the tour buses start rolling in, but this particular day we arrived a little after suppertime. The lake in front of the famed Fairmount hotel was still fairly crowded, but we can usually gain extra solitude points with a determined and deranged look on our faces. We've really mastered the look, although our entirely black outfits with skulls on them probably helps in clearing a path - pro tip: it's also extremely useful in shopping malls around December.  Once we made our way through the selfie stick wielding hordes and ventured into the forest, all was quiet. 

Once at Lake Agnes we made ourselves a bite to eat and a cup of coffee while Creepy-dog attempted to chase squirrels, her leash wiping out a cup of coffee in the process.  I took off my shoes and splashed around in the lake for a few minutes in order to take a single photo.  It helps to justify carrying the extra weight of my camera all the way there, even though I tell myself it's good exercise whether I take the camera out or not. When we were finished our dinner and evening cup of coffee, we continued our way around the lake and over the Beehive for a few minutes (and a few more photos) before finally heading home.  

It was a beautiful way to spend an evening.  The weather managed to save some sunshine for us and the views were spectacular. In fact, the hike may have been so enjoyable that I think Mr. Bastard has even forgiven me for misleading him, though he vanished along with his fishing rod the next day. I'm guessing it was a precautionary fishing trip in case I tried to trick him into another 11 km hike.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/8/an-evening-hike Wed, 10 Aug 2016 22:07:31 GMT
Return to Red Rock https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/8/return-to-red-rock Ever since my visit last January, I've had a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind that Red Rock Coulee, tucked away in the South East corner of Alberta, might be even more photogenic in the summer.  I was finally able to confirm that suspicion early last week when I packed up my truck and set out on an afternoon drive.

In stark contrast to my last trip, the parking lot was fairly busy when I arrived and several groups of people were roaming around the boulders, snapping photos and chatting among themselves. I hadn't really expected the company and since I had dressed for a long hot drive I felt terribly out of place standing in the parking lot wearing only a pair of sandals and a sun dress.  I quietly flipped down the tailgate of the truck and crawled underneath the canopy as gracefully as I could manage (which is to say, not very gracefully at all), stealing glances over my shoulder to make sure the people I was currently displaying my underpants to weren't paying attention. They weren't, or if they were, at least they were being more discreet than I was.  I emerged from the cocoon of the truck no longer resembling a $2 whore, grabbed my camera bag and checked the time.  Three hours forty four minutes until sunset. I had some time to kill.

Above: Instagram worthy self portrait without needing to drive out of the the parking lot

I set down my camera bag, opened a can of soup to cook for supper and grabbed a beer from the cooler instead. 

At three hours thirty six minutes to sunset, having eaten my supper, I decided I may as well poke around and decide on a few compositions to shoot later in the day. Like a gleeful kid in a candy store, I skipped my way towards the boulders and the thousands of opportunities they presented.  

At one hour seventeen minutes to sunset, having decided on a few choice boulders to focus on, I perched on top of a picnic table and watched the last group of people leave the parking lot.  They piled into the car, arguing about where to go for dinner even though Mom repeatedly said "I'm not hungry". I wished I was hungry so I could cook more soup and have something to do. Instead, I sipped my beer and picked off interesting lines in the distance with my telephoto lens and occasionally flailed at the mosquitoes.  A storm was brewing in the distance and I wondered if it would ruin the sunset for me. 

At one hour six minutes to sunset, the sun began to duck behind the storm clouds, casting a pale pink light across the landscape.  The normally impeccably punctual sunset was over an hour early, and I still had not finished my beer.


All hell broke loose as I scrambled to get in position before the light faded away for good, frantically changing over to a wide lens and throwing myself into the dirt.  On my drive that afternoon I'd been concerned about meeting a rattlesnake, but as the sun set behind the clouds it was the snakes who were more concerned with me as I slithered across the terrain.

After the sun set and the dust settled, I crawled into the cozy bed under the truck canopy and waited for my alarm to ring. Finally, at 3:50 am, my clock gave me permission to stop trying to sleep and I poked my head outside.  With over an hour to wait until sunrise, I lazed about in the drivers seat of the truck and boiled a pot of water on the console beside me.  In the distance, a storm was brewing, possibly the same storm that had so rudely interrupted my sunset last night.  A streak of lightning flashed across the sky as I poured the water into metal cups for my coffee and oatmeal. I didn't even have a chance to put the cup of coffee to my lips before another bolt of lightning illuminated the landscape.


Again, all hell broke loose as I scrambled for my camera and tripod.  Sunrise be damned, it's not every day you're presented with a lightning storm in a location as scenic as this.  I shimmied through the gate of the barbed wire fence and set up my photo gear for a series of long exposures.  I just needed one shot to work, maybe two or possibly three but definitely no more than four, five max.  The bolts struck the ground in the distance, silently at first but then the thunder became audible.  I glanced around me and noticed I was becoming surrounded on three sides by lightning.  With each thirty second exposure, the lightning strikes approached and I stopped losing count between the flashes of light and the sound of the thunder.  Just a few more shots to make sure I've got something usable as I fumbled around in the dark with the camera.  With every passing exposure, I was becoming acutely aware of how positively reckless it was to be standing on top of a coulee in the middle of the prairie with a metal tripod in my hands and I backed away with every click of the shutter, as if it would make a difference. I was in a game of chicken with the storm, and I was never very good at that game.

The rain began to fall, gently at first, but with rapidly increasing intensity. Then the wind began to howl and pelted the rain against my face. I decided to pull the plug and bolted back towards the truck, throwing the camera and tripod into the front seat and starting the engine.  The windows fogged immediately and hail began to bounce off the windshield. I wondered if being hit by lightning would fry the electronics in the truck and decided against sticking around to find out.  I threw the truck into drive and peeled out of the parking lot knocking the remaining pot of water onto the floor. I'd forgotten all about breakfast, my cup of oatmeal sitting hardened and cold in the passenger seat next to my camera.  Within a few hundred metres, I'd driven out of the rain and a beautiful sunrise lit cloud was forming in front of me. I frantically looked around for foreground interest, and finding nothing, decided a few exposures in the ditch would have to do before the storm was on top of me again.

Above: I named this photo "Rodney" because Dangerfield (get it?) apparently nobody thought it was funny. Wow, that joke fell flat...

I'd expected Red Rock Coulee to be more photogenic in the summer and I was right, but never in a million years would I have guessed that a visit to the prairies could be outright exciting.




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/8/return-to-red-rock Sat, 06 Aug 2016 20:39:50 GMT
Leftover Crack https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/8/leftover-crack XRay Cat, Crystal Mess, Copsickle, The Motherfuckers, Days N Daze and Leftover Crack
June 29 & 30 - Dickens Pub - Calgary, AB
All rights reserved, for licencing requests or to see more photos from the set, please use the Contact form

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Days n Daze Leftover Crack Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/8/leftover-crack Thu, 04 Aug 2016 00:18:14 GMT
Canola Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/7/canola-sunrise I can't even count the number of times I've seen the movie Twister. You know the one, that mid 90's gem starring Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton and their convoy of scientists and weather junkies chasing storms across the country. There's rivalry, there's romance, there's convoys (I love convoys) and best of all there's danger and excitement in the form of twisters!  If that hasn't got you hooked, there's flying cows. Who doesn't love flying cows?

So every summer when the weather starts churning out storm after storm, I sit at my desk in my office all afternoon, watching the storms blip across the radar on all three of my favourite weather websites.  Having found myself with no desk to sit at on Monday afternoon, and with Environment Canada issuing strong weather warnings across Southern Alberta, I decided to take a little drive to see what I could see. 

I didn't make it very far.

I didn't even make it out of the city.

Something stopped me dead in my tracks.

It wasn't a twister, it wasn't even a storm, it was four nice old trees in a field blooming with canola. The very antithesis of excitement, unless you're a photographer.

I waded through the thistle lined ditch in my flip flops and snapped a few pictures.  Not bad, but they could be better. I noted the location and figured the trees would look pretty nice at sunrise with a good chance that I could even line up the sun perfectly in between them.

Having quickly abandoned the notion of becoming a bonafide storm chaser, I returned home and moments later the storm hit our house. Rain. Hail. Lightening. Thunder. Flash flooding across the city! I watched the storm, darting between windows, but didn't venture outside.

With all the day's excitement, I didn't sleep a wink and when the alarm rang at 4:30 am, I was happy to finally get up for the day and make my way to the trees again.

A pair of deer called to each other in the brush a hundred metres to my left.  Another few deer barely visible through the tall canola grazed lazily a few hundred metres to my right. Birds darted through the sky in the distance. A raven parked itself on the fence post next to my truck, observing me with curiosity and cawing out the occasional story.

Only hours before, the city sounds had been overpowered by nature's fury but now they were silenced with nature's serenity. When the sun arrived, I was ready with my camera for a different kind of chase. 

Canola SunriseCanola Sunrise


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/7/canola-sunrise Wed, 20 Jul 2016 17:10:13 GMT
Fairy Tale Creatures https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/6/fairy-tales Most of my youth was spent in a little hamlet nestled among towering evergreen trees.  Summer time was spent finding as much trouble as possible, riding our bicycles through trails or salvaging scrap wood and rusty nails to construct fortress-like shrines to the almighty tetanus vaccination among the tree branches.  We were generally carefree kids, yet even the youngest among us knew to keep an eye and an ear on the forest for predators, occasionally halting a game of hide and go seek with someone yelling out "BEAR!" We'd emerge from our hiding places and gather together silently to listen for the breaking of branches, straining our eyes towards the thick underbrush in order to verify if the danger was real or imagined. 

In the daytime, with every kid in town behind you for courage, it was easy to defiantly rush towards the edge of the forest, yelling and chasing off potential predators, earning the respect and admiration of your peers in the process.  More often than not, the alleged bear would turn out to be a shadow among the leaves, but occasionally a grazing deer would lazily glance up at us, chewing it's grass and wondering what we were carrying on about. Once darkness fell though, it was less easy to find the courage to stare down a hungry animal as one by one the kids drifted home to bed until you were alone.

Little Tree in a Big WorldLittle Tree in a Big World

My house was situated on a hill at the edge of town, tucked neatly into a corner and surrounded by forest capable of harbouring hungry bears, cougars and wolves. We knew this to be fact, not only from the signs left by the bears on our trails through the woods,  but the rumours that spread like wildfire whenever an emboldened cougar or wolf stole into town in the middle of the night searching for an easy snack in the form of pet dogs and little girls who didn't listen to their mothers.  As night settled in, I'd set off towards the sound of my Mom's increasingly frustrated voice calling my name to come home. Walking briskly from the other end of town along the edge of the forest, but not too briskly because everyone knows, when a predator stalks you, the last thing you should do is run. Ahead, a lone streetlight cast a meagre puddle of yellow light on the gravel road, the last semblance of safety before beginning the impossibly long ascent up our driveway and into the darkness. With every quick step I took, the light from the streetlamp faded and the urge to run from the creatures lurking beyond sight intensified. I restrained myself, trying my best to ignore the potential threat mere feet away among the towering evergreen trees. Was that a growl I just heard?  I forced myself to walk at a regular pace until the pressure built and I could no longer stand it. I sprinted the last fifty metres to the house with a stampede of teeth and claws hot on my heels. The porch light clicked on as I whizzed past, illuminating a shortcut between the garage and the house as I swung around the corner, ripped open the door and threw myself inside the house amazed I was still in one piece. 

For years, it was a nightly routine.

I can't say with confidence that I've grown out of it.

The games of hide and go seek long over, these days the lure of the camera entices me out of the city with it's millions of streetlights casting safety nets into the night, and back towards the dark forest and the creatures it hides.  Because along with the creatures and the potential for danger, the wilderness holds within it a magical light that neither myself nor my camera can resist.  That's why I found myself packing up a bag full of gear one Friday afternoon, and stepping onto the trail towards the setting sun despite the 10 year old version of me inside begging "Don't go". As dinnertime approached, the number of hikers I met dwindled until finally I was alone among the evergreen trees, placing one foot in front of the other at a snails pace lest I require the energy to fend off a bear later. (You know, in case the two bottles of bear spray I had weren't good enough)

I reached the top of the Big Beehive above Lake Agnes an hour earlier than I had anticipated, and surveyed the area for potential compositions to remember when the sun began to set.  I opened my backpack and took out a bag of beef jerky, breaking the seal and immediately cursing myself for packing something that smelled so strong.  Surely every Grizzly Bear within 100 kilometres would now be on it's way to find out where the delicious aroma was coming from. I hurriedly finished my dinner and sealed the garbage in it's bag as tightly as I could, and then the waiting began.  

I waited for the sun to set, busying myself with changing into warm dry clothes before I got too cold, then with setting up the tripod for long exposures time and again. Once the sun had set and the light began to fade, I waited for darkness to arrive and bring the stars with it. And waited. I had the camera set up and ready to fire when the time was right but the summer solstice was only a few days away and the faint glow of the sun was taking it's sweet time leaving the sky.  

I strained to hear through the silence for any sign of life near by. Occasionally I'd think of something to say that might deter any large hungry, mammals from venturing too close, wondering if loudly reciting a recipe for wild game stew would make the situation better or worse. I made pleasant small talk with a nearby bird, remarking on what a nice night it was.  I nervously fidgeted, sitting down, then standing, then pacing and finally sitting again.  Still, the light in the distant sky did not fully dissipate until well after midnight, by then, I'd been perched on the rock high above Lake Agnes for nearly six hours. More than enough time for a hungry bear to make the trek to find me.

I focused intently on the camera, a tactic that had been working fairly well at keeping my imagination reigned in.  But as the sun set and the moon rose, and the shadows in the trees became longer my imagination began wander.  Soon the shadows grew wider and they began to grow legs and snouts and ears, it wouldn't be long before the shadows began to move, and think, and prey on women who smelled distinctly of warm beer and Teriyaki flavoured beef jerky.

Rising Moon vs Setting SunRising Moon vs Setting Sun

A rustling of leaves in the underbrush and then a pair of eyes glowing in the light of my headlamp.  "HEY THERE" I said in my manliest, scariest voice. The animal froze in it's steps. I froze in mine.  The eyes staring at me were less than six feet away.  The animal, no bigger than my shoe, was merely a Pika. "Shoo!" I yelled and the Pika scurried off into the night.  I giggled nervously and returned to my camera. Just a Pika, no need to panic.

A rustling of leaves, again the Pika hopped in to the light of my headlamp and began stealing it's way toward my backpack, but I was prepared this time.  "Hey, you again, GET GET GET" and I stomped my way menacingly toward the Pika.  The Pika shit it's pants, ran away and disappeared behind some rocks. Feeling a bit guilty, but satisfied that the Pika would not be returning,  I turned to my camera.  Just then, the rustling was heard again. This time, it was directly underfoot and I looked down in time to see the leaves beside my boots moving.  I screamed, but it was not a girly, high pitched, cutesy little scream that you would expect from someone as girly and cute as me (super cute by the way, ask my parents). This scream was an involuntary sound. A scream that accidentally slipped from my face in a kind of low, moaning reserved specially for the occasion of my death as I had indeed, just died a little bit.  I jumped back. The new, more dangerous Pika jumped back the other way and left me alone again in the darkness. I'd officially had enough.

Pictured Below: the very cute but totally murderous Pika

I packed my camera into my bag and checked the time, nearly 2 am.  It was time to go anyway. I'd have enough time to hike down to the lake, make myself a bit of breakfast and a few dozen cups of coffee before the sun rose.  I picked my way down the trail, keeping a brisk pace, but not too brisk because everyone knows, if a predator stalks you, the last thing you should do is run.  Soon, the Lake Agnes Teahouse came into view and I restrained my urge to sprint towards it because I'm an adult now, and adults are not afraid of the dark. I settled in on the porch of the Teahouse with a cup of coffee brewed from the lake water, and waited for dawn.

If anyone asked, I would be able to say I'd planned the whole thing out this way and that I hadn't let a couple of curious little Pika's scare me off the mountain.

Fairy Tale in Lake AgnesFairy Tale in Lake Agnes

Dawn on Lake AgnesDawn on Lake Agnes

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Failure Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/6/fairy-tales Wed, 22 Jun 2016 05:48:39 GMT
Crayons https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/crayons Out of the entire box of 64 Crayola Crayons (with built in sharpener) Emerald Green was my all time favourite crayon. It's wax left a smooth, shiny green line with every mark I made. In fact, I had made so many marks with my Emerald Green Crayon that it's paper had been torn off time and again so that the only words visible were "rald Green."  It was the best crayon. Even better than "Sky Blue" and definitely better than "Flesh" in my humble opinion.

Slowly throughout my very first year in big girl school 63 out of the 64 Crayola Crayons I had to my name had been shared with my fellow 1st graders, never to be seen again.  But that's okay, because I still had the Emerald Green crayon and it was the best one, and even though we had been told it was polite to share, I kept the Emerald Green crayon all to myself. 

Swept AwaySwept Away

One day we were given a new assignment, and sheets of paper with a little picture on it were handed out to every student.  We were to listen to the teacher and colour in the sheet with our crayons as she instructed. 


"The tree is to be coloured green"  the teacher said.  I smiled to myself, as I filled in the tree shaped lines with my Emerald Green crayon.
"The teddy bear is to be coloured brown."  I knew damn well what the colour brown was, it was the marker that smelled like cinnamon, but the teacher clearly instructed we use crayons. Seeing no other option available, I coloured the teddy bear with my Emerald Green crayon.
"The sun is to be coloured yellow"  I frowned, this was not going well, as I coloured the sun with my Emerald Green crayon.
"The sky is to be coloured blue"  and the rest of the page was coloured as neatly as I could with my Emerald Green crayon, making sure I mostly stayed within the lines.

I clutched my Emerald Green crayon in my hand so as not to lose it to another wily 6 year old and handed in my paper to the teacher.  She did not look impressed, and I, being a studious little overachiever even at the ripe old age of 6, was not impressed either. I had been made out to look like a person who didn't know her colours yet and I totally knew at least 64 colours. 

I have hated sharing ever since.

So when the weather forecast called for 30 apocalyptic centimetres of snow in the mountains last weekend, I took that as my cue to head to the perpetually popular Lake Louise and hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House, thinking the weather would keep the crowds at bay.  A soggy trail is better than a crowded one, and a soggy photographer is at least marginally less grumpy than an interrupted one.  Knowing that the weather would be crummy and the sunrise non-existent, I decided to leisurely make my way to the mountains, starting with a late alarm clock at 2:30 am.  After losing and finding my umbrella twice between the house and the garage and  then opting to ditch a camera body to balance out the extra layers and coffee pot I'd packed - I finally hit the road. I gently reminded myself that the experience is more important than the resulting photos as rain pelted the wind shield, combated by the constant woosh woosh of the wipers as I headed into the mountains.

Just after coffee number three, and shortly before sunrise, I arrived in Banff.   Although my assumption that the sunrise would be lacking was shaping up to be correct, I didn't want to miss out on a perfectly good photo opportunity should it arise. I detoured slightly and positioned my camera at the ready on the shore of Two Jack Lake in case something interesting happened.  

Nothing interesting happened. 

The world was drenched in a dull grey wash, but I still took a few shots of some clouds lazing around in the tree tops for good measure before continuing my journey.

In a completely unrelated and wildly off topic note, I'd like to take this moment to point out that the outhouse at the corner of Lake Louise Drive and Moraine Lake Road is THE BEST place to stop for a pee. It smells of a delightful cedar forest and never fails to justify drinking a fourth cup of coffee between Banff and Lake Louise. If you're ever in the area on a cool summer's morning, pee there.

Five Stars! Would recommend.

Moving on.

I arrived in Lake Louise, and as I had hoped, found myself in an empty parking lot.  I celebrated with a wonderful 30 minute power nap before heading towards the trail.  I met a grand total of four other people on my way up towards Lake Agnes and I started to question my level of preparedness. One lady who had passed me going up the trail was wearing flip flops, shorts, a light jacket and a garbage bag to ineffectively fend off the rain. In comparison, I had packed a small stove and coffee pot, assorted beverages and tea bags, pickle and cheese sandwiches, my winter coat, extra socks, mittens and toque, an umbrella and various camera gear. Not to mention the boots, wool socks and multiple layers I was wearing.  I stopped at Mirror Lake to take a few photos, the flip flop lady went by again, this time on her way home. She mentioned the tea house was closed. I could have told her that. She was very wet. She didn't look very happy. I stopped questioning my level of preparedness, and comfortably (okay, probably a bit smugly too) hopped along the lake shore.

Arriving at the Tea House I was not surprised to see... well... very little.  The mountains were obscured by the heavy precipitation, turning the valley into a calm, nearly monochromatic picture. I treated  myself to a pickle and cheese sandwich and a hot cup of English Breakfast tea, courtesy of my over prepared backpack.  As I sat eating my sandwich and sipping my tea, the rain which had been steadily falling all morning quickly changed to snow. I'd been considering hiking over the beehive but seeing the back end of the lake still covered in snow and having absolutely zero avalanche training, I opted to hike back the same way I'd come. After taking a few pictures of course.

I gingerly stepped my way over some boulders and set up my camera, balancing precariously on the rocks and holding an umbrella with my chin to feebly hold some of the moisture off of the lens. In the distance, I could hear giggling and strained to see a pair of hikers silhouetted against the snow.  They picked their way down a set of switchbacks on the other side of the lake.  I studied the steep, snowy terrain they were about to cross and eagerly waited for the composition to unfold.  I selfishly thought about switching lenses and then wondered, more importantly, if they should maybe head back the way they came. 

Just then, the thundering crack of an avalanche echoed in the valley followed by the rumbling crash of snow and boulders.  The hikers froze. I looked around nervously.  The visibility was next to nothing further down the lake and I strained to see where the avalanche had occurred, hoping the hikers would not be affected. The crashing subsided and the pair continued making their way around the lake, a little more sombrely than moments before. They paused briefly to snap photos of each other.  I snapped photos of them too, though the combination of falling snow and shutter speed rendered the photos nearly useless from the splotches of snow. I returned a lens to my bag and noticed the bag appeared to be gaining some weight.

Despite already relieving my backpack of a few sandwiches and a victory beer, the snow and rain had completely saturated it's outer layers making it even heavier than before.  Aside from the additional weight of the excess water I would now have to carry I wondered how the camera gear would fare on the way back.  I wrapped the cameras and lenses in some cloth to protect them as best as I could and started making my way home, stopping momentarily to photograph the falls flowing out of the lake. More people trickled up the trail as I was on my way down.  A cute little dog in a snazzy little rain coat preceded more people clad in garbage bags and we joked about how well the dog was dressed compared to it's people. But I quickly grew weary of passing on my smiles and "hello's" and the "nice day if it don't rain's" to the increasingly steady flow of hikers and turned onto the horse trail to finish the hike with only the steady plodding of my boots and beating of my heart for distractions.

Swept upSwept up

Once back in the parking lot, I checked the clock and determined I'd have just enough time to scoot into Silverton Falls, a spot I'd only ever visited before with Creepy-dog in tow.  My surprisingly strong 25 pound dog has a habit of anxiously tugging on the leash and helping me produce less than stellar photos in the process and though I love her company, she is not as patient as I am when it comes to photography. I was looking forward to a more relaxed visit.   In stark contrast to the last location, I had the place to myself, normal for this set of falls but still surprising considering the proximity to the highway. The sun started to peek out of the clouds, illuminating the emerald green forest around me.  It was nice to not have to share and I smiled to myself as I clicked the shutter.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff Calgary Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/crayons Wed, 25 May 2016 01:42:37 GMT
Retro Prom https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/retro-prom Saturday night marked another installment of the annual Hang the DJ Retro Prom at Dickens Pub.  A night of merriment, 80's tunes and some seriously impressive feats of hairspray. I was asked to help create some memorable awkward prom photos as well as a few not so awkward photos because now that we're all grown up, dancing with your date isn't nearly as icky as it used to be.


I'm often reminded by Mr. Bastard that my head is abnormally small compared to most adults,  the large shoulder pads sewn into the stylish canary yellow ladies blazer I'd chosen as my costume really helped to accentuate that. I'm not sure if that's really the best feature to show off but I'll work with it. At any rate, I had a blast giggling behind the camera all night and I may have inadvertently sold someone a house with my sweet 80's young urban professional attire.  



I wrapped up the photo booth around 2 am and with rapidly drooping eyes, headed homeward.  It was cool out, but my stylish canary yellow ladies blazer helped keep the chill off. I turned on to my street and looked up to see the northern lights dancing in the sky.  I like to think that it was the 80's tunes that brought them out, I couldn't help but tap my feet and bob my tiny little head with the songs of Corey Hart still ringing in my ears. I pulled over to the side of the road and contemplated for a moment, with all the camera gear loaded in the truck already it would be a shame not to at least try to capture a few shots of the lights dancing over the city.  I was exhausted and no more than 200 feet away from my bed at that point, but the call of the camera convinced me to turn the truck around and drive back down town.



I have been known to wear inappropriate clothing when shooting landscape photos in the past. I'm usually too hot, too cold or standing knee deep in a lake when my boots only go up to my ankles.  That part is not new. What is new, is freezing my ass off in a bright blue mini dress and a stylish canary yellow ladies blazer at 3 am while standing in a typical photographer stance desperately hoping that the cars and pedestrians slowly going by don't recognize me.  

"Hey Llisa, we were just talking about you! We wondered if you were out taking pictures tonight"  I heard as the faces slowly emerged under the street lamps.  It was my friend Rob of Copsickle fame and his Missus, on their way home from a show.  I had been taking photos of the faint aurora looking south to the skyline, but had recently given up in favour of a selfie.  I hoped they hadn't noticed me trying to do a long exposure of jazz hands on the steep grassy slope while wearing footwear more suited to places like a pub or in a box in the back of a closet.  

Actually, I'll level with you - it was three selfies, the first two didn't turn out. My jazz hands were too jazzy. 

Fortunately,  Rob and Megan had been riding their bicycles north and were treated to a good enough show in the sky that they didn't mention any of the slipping and jazz handing I'd been doing. That would have been embarrassing. However, their excitement over the aurora in the sky confirmed my suspicions that I would have to move to my second favourite skyline picturing location on the other side of the city thus prolonging my bedtime for at least a little while longer.









[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Dickens Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/retro-prom Tue, 10 May 2016 16:37:03 GMT
Doctor Who https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/dr-who Will and Lisa are one of those couples with such a harmonious blend of personalities and that have been together for so long you can't imagine one without the other. So I was quite surprised when they asked me to photograph their Doctor Who themed wedding, I'd always assumed they would have gotten married years ago.  Who knows, maybe the young couple has been married over and over again since 1963. (That was probably a poorly written joke about Doctor Who.  I admit I know almost nothing about the show)  Here's a selection of some of my favourites photos from their wedding.


The First Dance


I had to google Doctor Who before the big day to learn a bit about it and get an idea for some of the more stylized wedding photos. Orange gels on my flashes allowed me to get a more otherworldly feel.

The wonderful little details  


Congratulations Will and Lisa, I know you'll have many many more happy years together!


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Wedding https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/dr-who Fri, 06 May 2016 17:45:17 GMT
Sleepy Sunday https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/sleepy-sunday Eventually there comes a point when there’s only so much a person can ignore, that point came for me one afternoon when I forgot what a broom was (A cleany cleany floor thing Llisa? You mean a broom?). It wasn't the first time either, I'd been forgetting the names of close friends and family and drifting off in the middle of stories leaving friends staring at me wondering if I'd ever finish my sentence. Okay, there might possibly be something wrong. Maybe.

 For years I had a continuously growing host of bizarre symptoms that I would find ways to rationalize, or assume I was being a drama queen and they were all in my head. The fatigue I chalked up to a busy life style despite sleeping for up to 13 hours a day, and rarely less than 10.  When my arms, legs and face started going numb and tingling from time to time, I brushed off the notion that I might be having a stroke or heart attack.  Do I have a pulse? Yes. Can I breathe? Yes.  Okay - I'm sure it's fine - carry on. A severe bout of vertigo was combated with physio at least to the point where I could drive again and walk without running into walls most days.  Heart palpitations? Must be stress.  Body temperature of 94.5F?  Maybe I didn’t eat enough today.  Sore joints? Swollen, painful lymph nodes? I'm sure I'm just fighting off a cold. The headaches I brushed off at first, until they reached a tipping point of 10 to 30 icepick headaches per day, every day, for over a year.   I was beginning to realize that healthy people don't feel like this. It was time to admit that something was not right.  

Fast forward another year, several rounds of blood tests, MRI’s and visits to the fancy pants neurology department and I finally got an answer.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It's nice to know it's not all in my head (and I have witnesses)

 The weekend I received a handful of pamphlets from my doctor, I went to a birthday party, a 10 km hike in the mountains,  woke up at 3 am for a sunrise photo session and then capped it all off with an afternoon at the climbing gym. Maybe just to prove that I can.  I had been incorrectly assuming that because I sleep like a rock (glorious, glorious sleep!), my exhaustion is imagined and I can push through without consequence.  "Well", I'd think "If I'm this tired and breathless after the first 10 feet of a hike, there's no way I can feel any worse after the next 10 km" and continue on, putting one foot in front of the other.  That I must be feeling wiped out on hikes because I’m out of shape and I should just work harder.   But the harder I worked to get in shape, the farther I'd fall behind. I'd feel breathless and tired after climbing a single flight of stairs or need a break after my morning shower. 

These days I have been tasked with learning how to slow down, so that I can start to feel better and eventually pick up the pace again.   It's not an easy thing for someone who doesn't like to sit still. Ever. Especially not while seeing my peers tackle mountain summits and beautiful locations I'd love to photograph, but for now I have to take it easy and photograph some less strenuous locations. I'm lucky to live in a place that affords me beautiful photographic opportunities without even having to leave the parking lot, so I'm hoping to remain busy as ever, I might just be a little bit slower at it for a while.

SurrealLake Minnewanka under a blanket of clouds


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) CFS Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/5/sleepy-sunday Tue, 03 May 2016 22:04:18 GMT
Ultrviolence https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/4/ultrviolence

I had the chance to photograph Calgary post punk trio Ultrviolence at their gig a few weeks ago.  Originally I'd been asked to catch their live set, but as I set towards the door I grabbed a set of transmitters for my speedlight and stuffed them into my already overburdened gig bag.  I was glad I did.

The show was already running behind schedule by the time I showed up, the first band hadn't even taken to the stage yet.  The guys mentioned they needed a few posed shots on top of the gig photos and suggested a location in a corner of the room.  Not wanting to conduct a shoot in the middle of another band's set, I  ducked into the alley and found a more suitable location behind the venue. With the help of a nice voice activated light stand and a single speedlight we managed to shoot a few rushed frames in between the opener sets while the smell of decaying food wafted over us from a nearby dumpster. Not the most glamorous location, but functional.    

Here's a few shots from our impromptu back alley photo shoot and their set at Broken City that night.  

If you happen to be in Western Canada next month, they'll be touring their new album, check them out!

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/4/ultrviolence Mon, 18 Apr 2016 23:23:13 GMT
Learning https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/3/learning I believe a life that's too easy is probably also a life that's not very fun nor entertaining. If you've been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you may have noticed that my favourite time to write a post is after something goes horrifically wrong. In those moments of utter chaos, confusion and cameras I can only laugh at the absurdity of what I do for fun and then push forward, eager to make things work.

If I can't laugh at myself, then at the very least, I like to learn from my mistakes and ensure the next trip will be a little less eventful and a bit more productive.  Apparently I've been learning a lot recently, so that's why this post is probably not very fun, or entertaining, but I have taken some photos in the last little while that I would still like to share here.  I just have to admit to you that the trips I took in order to capture these were very pleasant and I arrived home again at the end of the day without incident.  

Moonlit MinnewankaMoonlit Minnewanka

This WayThis Way

Ice JamIce Jam

Spring FedSpring Fed



Hey, you made it through the whole post.  Thanks for looking! If you saw anything you like you can click the image to purchase a print!


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/3/learning Sun, 20 Mar 2016 04:53:17 GMT
Live Music https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/3/live-music I've been asked to shed a bit of light on my process for shooting live bands in those dingy, terribly lit bars I love so much.  I really enjoy shooting in these conditions because it's a challenge that forces me to think on my feet, adapt to constantly changing conditions and dodge fellow concert goers all while having a beer and listening to rad music.  

ISO 5000  
F 3.2

The Gear

Nikon D7000 w Nikkor 35mm 1.8 lens attached
Nikon D7200 w Tokina 11-16 2.8 lens attached
Nikkor 55-200mm 4-5.6
SB700 Speedlight (for emergencies only)

Because the lighting at a gig is so dynamic and unpredictable, a good knowledge of the exposure triangle is your best friend in low light, fast action settings.  I start with my aperture as wide as it will go, a shutter speed around 1/60 to 1/100 to freeze the action and ISO 1000 adjusting up to ISO 3200 or even 5000 if the situation requires.  Most often, stage lights will be brightest around the musician's face so I prefer to shoot in manual mode with spot metering on the subject's face to ensure the face has a decent exposure and let the rest of the chips fall where they may, often letting the legs or body fall into shadow. 

ISO 2000  


In Photoshop or Lightroom I usually only do basic raw adjustments and leave the rest of the image alone. A typical adjustment will be to lower contrast, increase white, highlight, shadow levels and finally lower the black slider so the clothes don't look like they haven't been put through the wash a thousand times (you might notice most of the punks and metalheads I photograph tend to wear black)

 The White Balance is the biggest struggle in live music photography because of the hodge podge of coloured lights to contend with.  I like to leave a bit of colour cast to the images but I typically prefer that it doesn't overpower the image unless the colour wash is particularly even throughout the image.  The way I correct the white balance is to note the original colour temperatures, click the white balance eyedropper on a white or grey portion of the scene (whites of the eyes or teeth are often a good bet) and then adjust the colour temperature sliders slightly back towards their original locations. 



The Etiquette

It's important to realize that your presence can have an enormous impact on the way a band will perform on stage when you're sticking a camera in their face.  Your presence will also affect how the audience will behave often choosing to protect you and your gear rather than having fun. ​Having a photographer in the room, especially one front and centre changes the dynamic of the show, often band members will perform for the camera rather than their audience and the crowd is less likely to dance and mosh around enjoying the band and will instead hang back to ensure the photographer and their gear don't get mangled.  

I try to minimize my impact on both the band and audience as much as possible being mindful that it's the band's show and not a chance for the photographer to show off their sweet photography stance (My photography stance is awesome by the way, like an old school wrestler in a mini skirt, physically it looks like I can withstand a tornado without budging yet I still give the appearance of being highly unstable) With the increasing number of photographers jostling for position at local shows, often times I find myself putting the camera away altogether unless I've been specifically asked to shoot in order to minimize the number of photographers and increase the number of actual audience members. 

ISO 3200  
F 2.8 

If I need to get close to the stage for a shot I'll move in for the shot but once I have what I need I'll sneak away to the back of the room to allow the audience their space to enjoy the music.   The same goes for switching sides of the room, I try to use the back of the room as much as I can rather than walking through the front of the crowd.  Besides, the vantage point at the back of the room often allows for some fun crowd shots.

ISO 3200  
F 2.5

A good selection of wide and close shots of each band member as well as entire stage photos will be nice variety for the band to choose from.  It's easy enough to get a good selection of photos right off the start and then use the rest of the time  to find interesting ways to frame shots using audience members, pieces of gear, lighting etc...

ISO 3200  

 The biggest pet peeve I have while I'm playing with a band on stage besides spilling a shot of jagermeister all over my strings is having a photographer come up, jam a camera in my face and blind me with a flash.  It's probably because I'm a marginally okay bass player at best and prone to short term memory loss, but camera flash can be incredibly distracting.  If you can, keep the flash off your camera unless it's absolutely 100% necessary, even better - if possible ask the band if it's okay before their set.  Be mindful of the flash blinding both the band and audience members. If I have to use flash, I prefer to set it to a very low power setting to just give a little pop of light so it's not quite so noticeable by everyone in the room. 

Instead of using flash, often the lights in a venue are set to a certain rotation which, after a bit of observation, can predict when the "good light" will be available for certain shots.  Occasionally, you can even request the person behind the sound/light  board to help you out with a bit of extra white lights on stage which will be useful for easier white balance adjustments in post.


ISO 2500  
F 208 

Perhaps the most important tip for photographing a live music performance though, is to remember to put the camera down once in a while and enjoy the show.

Have any of your own tips for live music?  Post them in the comments! 


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Metal Photography Punk Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/3/live-music Tue, 15 Mar 2016 02:20:44 GMT
Landscape Photography - Car Sleepin https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/3/landscape-photography---car-sleepin There are countless articles floating around on how to become a better landscape photographer. They range from composition tips and preferred gear to using wonderful tools for finding locations like my favourite TPE.  But one article I haven't come across yet, and one I think can be fairly integral to a successful landscape photo is how to sleep in your vehicle.

My Mom will probably hate this post.

Hi Mom, I've gone car camping many times and not only have I lived to blog about it, but I have never had any instances where I even thought I might not live to blog about it. It's not as scary as you think, trust me.

But first, a story:

A long time ago, Mr. Bastard and I (before I was Mrs. Bastard) spent 10 days sleeping in a tent together in some lovely locations across North America.  We walked away from that excursion having learned a few lessons like "Don't ever go camping with Llisa in a tent for 10 days" and "How to get over the weird guy in the next camp site watching you try to bathe and shave your legs using only a cooler and a rubbermaid lid so you can just get on with your day" or "Llisa is a high maintenance princess who turns into a super bitch if she goes too long without the comforts of home." The biggest lesson we learned was that if our relationship was going to last, we were going to have to buy an RV for any camping trips we do (we did, and we've been happily married for nearly six years now).  

 Having established that I'm a high maintenance princess, what are we talking about car sleeping for?  Well friends, sometimes hauling a 16 foot 4000 lb trailer with everything including the kitchen sink plus a few hidden bottles of vodka (for emergencies) just isn't practical for a simple overnight trip to the mountains, but that photo at sunrise requires a 5 hour drive and there's no bloody way you're waking up at 1 am. So without further adieu, here are some tips for mastering the art of car sleeping. 


Location Location Location!

There are a few things to consider when scouting around for a place to camp out for the night:

Is it legal?  Rest areas and Walmart parking lots are good places to have a snooze but not all parking lots are created equally.  Check around to make sure there isn't a sign prohibiting overnight camping. My inner punk says "Stick it to the man! maaaan!" but only during business hours, I have no time for anarchy when I'm trying to catch some zzzz's and the nice officer is knocking on the car window at 3 am.   Alternatively, campgrounds work if the season allows but then you may as well just bring a tent like a normal person and skip the rest of this post.

Where is the closest bathroom? Bears might shit in the woods but I am not a bear and you probably aren't either.

How heavy is the traffic? If I have a choice between sleeping on the side of the Trans Canada Highway or some secondary highway in the middle of nowhere, I'll probably choose the middle of nowhere option.  The sound of big rigs rushing by at 130 km/hr just doesn't lull me to sleep effectively.

Cell service, while not essential, is useful to have and I admit I've been known to give up bathroom proximity for the ability to message Mr. Bastard or post selfies to facebook at midnight.  

Distance to your intended location, the closer the better because there's nothing more satisfying than waking up and having a magical location to photograph while the coffee is brewing.

Ice EncrustedIce Encrusted


Some common sense is required, if the area makes your spidey senses tingle, it might be better to either camp out elsewhere or visit your closest pharmacist for some special ointment.  

Have a look around to make sure your vehicle isn't parked in an area prone to avalanches or flash flooding.  Before you say "Llisa, avalanches I can sort of see, but flash flooding? Be serious" there are places in this province known to host the occasional camper who wakes up the next morning with their vehicle in a foot of water ie: Abraham Lake or that soggy place I happened to be at last week. 

Another thing to be wary of is vehicle visibility, especially when camping out on the side of the highway. Make sure your vehicle can be seen from far enough away to allow night time drivers the chance to give you space lest you want to wake up dead.

Finally, though it's tempting to leave the engine running all night long for warmth - it's probably better to refrain.  A few minutes here or there is fine but sleeping in an idling vehicle can put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, especially in the winter when snow can build up around the exhaust pipe. 



I will admit, I do have a few advantages when it comes to car sleepin' the first being the width of my truck.  Another advantage I have is my height which is, as I've been told (I still don't believe it for myself) a bit on the stumpy side.  Both of which lend well to folding myself into the back seat more comfortably than simply resting my forehead on the dashboard.

A trick I've learned is to pack a milk crate and pillow to put between the front and back seats to give yourself a little extra leg room by lying diagonally. If you're short on space, a backpack or even your water supply work equally well. 

It goes without saying that a good sleeping bag is paramount, but so is cracking a window. Waking up with condensation coating the inside of your vehicle not only leaves you feeling gross and clammy, but your camera gear will be in the planning stages of waging a revolution against you and your moisture laden ways. 


I'm a fan of privacy and a cheap wind shield cover picked up from your local Dollar Store combined with a jacket or two hung from the windows work wonders for keeping prying eyes to a minimum when you're changing into your jammies.  Another bonus is the protection from sunlight if your trips involve afternoon naps as often as mine do.



The most recent addition to my truck camping arsenal is a small backpacking stove and a pot which officially puts me into the most glamorous level of roughing it. Not only can I make a pot of coffee on the tailgate (I prefer instant coffee because it's easier to clean up afterwards. Also the whole instant thing really works for me, because I just can't wait a few extra minutes for coffee)  I can also cook soup or freeze dried meals for dinner. Just don't forget the can opener and the matches!


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Camping Car Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/3/landscape-photography---car-sleepin Wed, 09 Mar 2016 21:24:25 GMT
boats! Boats! BOATS! https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/2/boats-boats-boats If there had been anyone near by last night, they would have heard a strange stream of consciousness emanating from the darkness. Wandering down the banks of the Kananaskis River, I needed something to shout to the world, my voice being the first line of defence against hungry bears waking from their slumber.  Unfortunately, that something was a phrase from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother that tends to pop into my head during inopportune moments such as this.  "boats! Boats! BOATS!" I shouted gingerly, half hoping a fellow photographer or hiker would appear out of the darkness to converse with in lieu of yelling this stupid phrase, the other half hoping I was the only person left on earth so nobody would hear me shout such absurdities to myself.

I was alone, joined only by the stars sparkling in the sky above and the river babbling quietly to itself, much like me. The soothing music of trickling water interrupted only by the occasional sound of snow and ice succumbing to the recent warm weather and calving into the water. I spotted a shallow area in the stream and splashed through the mere inches of water to a sizeable gravel island to begin setting up my shots. "boats! Boats! BOATS!

With two cameras each firing and a refreshing beer in hand, I busied myself with the gear trying my best to ignore the potential danger that lie beyond the scope of my headlamp in order to enjoy the moment.  A shuffle of the scarf on the ground protecting my older camera which was precariously balanced in the sand and rocks "boats! Boats! BOATS!" I took a turn to marvel at the sky above before moving over to the camera on the tripod to tweak the composition and settings "boats! Boats! BOATS!

The sky now enveloped in a glittery velvet robe and mountain peaks gleamed in the distance.  The world advancing in zen-like thirty second increments.  I crouched next to the tripod to frame the next shot and relished the cool water lapping over the toes of my boots.  Cool water that hadn't been there thirty seconds ago.

Uh oh.

"boats! Boats! BOATS!

Starry NightStarry Night

I scanned around with my flash light, my island in the stream was significantly smaller than it had been a few moments ago.  Cameras were flung into the bag mid-exposure, tripod fastened in record time and my hiking poles were in hand along with a stronger flash light in under a minute as I stepped off my patch of dirt towards the shallow location I had crossed only an hour ago.  

The stream had rather suddenly transformed from the babbling brook to a proper river. I navigated through the now thigh deep black water thankful I had brought my hiking poles to help keep me upright against the current. Though the unexpected river fording was only a few metres wide, I envisioned every step being my last should I misstep and be pulled under water with my heavy winter clothes and backpack.  I made it across the river now sopping wet and with saturated winter boots so heavy I had trouble lifting my legs to get up the embankment.  Note to self: Google "leg day"

Witching HourWitching Hour

Eager to get back to my truck before the chill set in, I boats! Boats! BOATSED my way through the tangle of bushes next to the river, my tripod catching on branches illuminated by my light. I scrambled up the icy ditch to the highway and made it to my truck where I stood pantsless and sockless on the side of the road hoisting water laden boots into the bed of the truck and nervously giggling at my ordeal.  

It would appear that since the Kananaskis River is dammed, levels can fluctuate quite drastically and it would be in your best interest to bring a boat! Boat! BOAT!

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Failure Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/2/boats-boats-boats Sun, 28 Feb 2016 04:36:07 GMT
Portraits https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/2/portraits When I think of portrait photography, I tend to think about the airy light photos found on pinterest.  Happy couples announcing their engagements, expectant mothers delicately covered in lace, smiling families or newborn babies.  The photos all set in a bright, sunny grass filled field with a 20% opacity layer of white over top the whole package to give it the cosy feel of perfection.  

I too enjoy taking portraits, but as my wardrobe will attest, you'll have to go elsewhere to find sunshine and lollipops. My favourite locations to drag willing subjects tend to be culverts, alleyways, breweries and mountains. Jostling for a spot among 12 other lifestyle photographers and their subjects at the park doesn't sound like fun to me, I'd rather drag 60 pounds of gear through gutters in the middle of the night along with a six pack thrown into the camera bag to share after the shoot.   It occurred to me that I haven't shared any of my portrait work on the blog, so here's a few of my favourites from local bands Class Action, Jason Hastie & The Alibi, The Press Gang, Oh Shit, Stenno and my favourite Crustacean Jean Guy. 

And now for the shameless self promotion:
These were shot on location in Calgary and surrounding area, if you like what you see, get in touch! My sessions start at $200.

Class Action - PromoClass Action - Promo

Class Action - PromoClass Action - Promo Jason Hastie & The Alibi - PromoJason Hastie & The Alibi - Promo Oh Shit - Full Length AlbumOh Shit - Full Length Album


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Calgary Photographer Calgary band photographer Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/2/portraits Wed, 24 Feb 2016 18:21:05 GMT
31 https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/1/31 I had a very short wish list for my 31st birthday.  I wanted a hair cut, three tanks of gas and cooperative skies.

My first two wishes were granted with the help of the birthday genie (aka the almighty and powerful debit card) the skies on the other hand, could have been a little bit more gracious.

I left the city shortly after 8 pm on Friday night ready to camp out in my truck (Sir Trucks-a-Lot, I like big trucks and I cannot lie) for the weekend. A new to me Nissan Titan with the most wonderful interior storage I could ask for. Camping stove in the map pocket, lighter and toothbrush on the dash board and a little bed set up in the back seat.   I even had a weekend's worth of food stashed in the centre console furthering my suspicions that I may actually be a squirrel. 

Ready for anything I set out towards the Drumheller hoodoos, a location I feel holds so much potential for great photos whenever I'm not around.  As I had expected, the skies were cloudy when I arrived and I opted for Plan B - I'd settle in for a few hours sleep and wake up with enough time to a) shoot the hoodoos if the skies miraculously cleared and b) still make it to my next location in time for sunrise.

3 am and the multiple alarm clocks started to ring.  I had been dreaming of breaking and entering a hydro-dam and was thoroughly confused when I was no longer encased in a cement box once I opened my eyes.  Despite the open window, moisture had coated the interior of the truck and I wiped it away to stare out at the clear sky.  The clouds had dissipated and a smattering of stars lie above me, I almost grumbled at my good fortune. It would have been so much easier to just go back to sleep. I boiled some water, added 3 generous spoonfuls of instant coffee and walked across the parking lot to quickly snap a few photos and then hit the road.

The coffee I had concocted was strong enough to induce the worst caffeine jitters of my life as I twitched farther South and East across the province than I have ever been before. My legs jerked violently and I tried to dance away the energy but the coffee had been too strong, but not strong enough for me to skip another 40 minute nap along the Trans Canada Highway. I woke feeling groggy yet opted to forego another cup of coffee, there was no need - the sky was starting to lighten and it invoked a sense of urgency as I passed through the sleeping city of Medicine Hat and veered West again to reach my destination. Red Rock Coulee had been on my "to shoot" list for ages and I happily scampered into the hills to snap photos as the sun breached the horizon.

Once the sun was up, I napped again.  It was starting to be the theme of the weekend.

A few hours later I woke up groggy, wiping the sleep from my eyes and the sweat from my brow. The warm sun had made the interior of the truck quite toasty and I lazed around snacking on a can of soup and formulating some kind of a plan. I had originally assumed that I would stick around all day and wait for the sunset, but with 5 hours to kill I opted to go for a drive and see what kind of secrets the prairies were keeping. I turned into the quaint town of Etzikom to check out their fine collection of windmills and was disappointed to see that the museum was closed for the winter. Long ago, I had considered the location a good potential for sunrise photos, but now I think it will have to be a summer time location.

 I continued driving, surprised at the vast amount nothing that I came across as miles of stark fields and grasslands stretched before me dotted only with the very occasional farm.  I kept my eyes peeled for ancient homesteads and found a few, but none looked like they would welcome trespassers, even ones armed only with cameras.  The resurgence of popularity in distressed wood for everything from picture frames to kitchen tables have left these old sentinels at the mercy of thieves, harvesting the old boards for an easy profit.  I came across a single old home caving in on itself by the highway and took it's proximity to the road as an invitation to step out of the truck and photograph it.  Gingerly peeking my head inside the door and revelling in the perfectly placed beam of sunlight illuminating what was left of an old chair, I thought a fellow photographer must have been there before me to line up the prop so perfectly but the muddy footprints left by coyotes across the weather beaten living room floor were the only sign of life.

Returning back to the coulee, I snacked on chips and enjoyed a beer pausing to snap a few photos during an incredibly lacklustre sunset. The grey and dreary landscape held out on me and I was thankful the sunrise had secured at least a few photos.  By 5:30 pm I was back in the sleeping bag, hoping to wake up to clear skies in order to photograph the stars but a mere 2 hours later I woke to a familiar noise.  The wind whistling around the truck carried the song of a snowstorm, strange how I immediately recognized the sound. A quick check of the weather forecast on my cell phone confirmed what I already knew, and I abandoned hope of a starry night to photograph.

I opted to head home a day early rather than fighting 300 km of snowy highway after another restless night.  I was disappointed about cutting the trip short, but by the time I was 100 km out of Calgary, the snow had already begun accumulating and the rear end of the truck fishtailed with every depression of the accelerator. I knew I had saved myself 200 km of precarious driving and I was placated knowing that I will likely make the coulee an oft visited location over the next few years.   Once I was home, I collapsed into bed for a glorious 13 hours of continuous sleep.  Party. Animal.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Abandoned Alberta Drumheller Landscape Photography Red Rock Coulee hoodoos https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/1/31 Wed, 27 Jan 2016 00:59:58 GMT
Too Many Options https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/1/too-many-options The clock read 3:30 am when my brain decided it was time to wake up Saturday morning, a mere 3 hours after going to sleep.  I huddled under the covers half heartedly trying to get back to sleep but mostly doing research on my phone trying to weigh my options.
If I get out of bed now, I can be in the mountains and maybe get some star shots in before the sun rises. 
Nah, it’s -30 outside, it’s hardly worth the trip when I won’t be able to stay outside more than a few minutes at a time. Besides, it’s extra gas money and I’m going snowshoeing in the mountains tomorrow anyway. 

I could just try to go back to sleep.
Come on, it's silly to waste a perfectly good sunrise when I’m clearly wide awake and at this rate I won’t be able to fall asleep anyway.  

What about that place to the North? 
Let’s see, shower time plus coffee time plus driving time minus the amount of time before the sun will rise plus 30 minutes for safety equals best save that one for another day.

Maybe I should try to sleep more? 
Well, I think I feel fine, I got 3 hours of sleep, I can probably keep going until midnight with enough coffee.

Should I make another run out to the location that refuses to cooperate?
No, not today, I’m getting sick and tired of looking at that place and I have plans to visit it in a few weeks already.

Hey, that place to the South looked promising…..
All the way down there? Are you crazy? (As if this blog post doesn't make it painfully obvious....) I'll end up falling asleep at the wheel.  That's an overnight trip, you should plan that soon though. What are we doing tomorrow?

Is sleep still an option because it sounds like a pretty good one to me.  
No way, it's almost 5 am, don't want to waste a perfectly good opportunity. Besides, it's -30 out and the frost on the trees will be great this morning.

Well fine then. Get out of bed!

So I did.

And it was cold.

And it was dark.

And it was kind of grumpy.

And it wasn't very creative.

And it was uninspired.

And it was still cold an hour later. 

And I didn't go very far from home even though I drove around a lot thus foregoing any attempt at saving gas money by sticking close to home.

And did I mention it was grumpy?

But then as the sun was starting to make its presence known and I was in yet another debate with myself over where I should be standing when the light was getting good, I remembered an old standby location right in the middle of the city that I've been visiting for years, pulled into the parking lot and once the camera was in hand the rest fell into place.

And it was still cold, but it was also a little more inspired, a lot less grumpy and overall pretty good. 

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2016/1/too-many-options Tue, 12 Jan 2016 23:50:29 GMT
Flash Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/flashing I have been thinking back on some of my favourite images I have made this year, and I noticed a startling, though not overly surprising pattern. 

Life & Death on the PrairieLife & Death on the Prairie

I always thought that the phrase "Caught with your pants down" meant to be caught doing something wrong, but in my case, the more literal interpretation applies a little too often.  Quite a few of my favourite images were made on days I accidentally mooned people.   

Now I don't know who Murphy is, but I can say with absolute certainty that I'm not a fan of his law.  
After driving for an hour without seeing a single soul last winter, the second I stopped for a bathroom break on the prairies....you probably already know how this ends.....  A  lone farmer drove by and witnessed me scrambling to pull up the half dozen pairs of pants I chose to wear that frosty morning.  Not an easy task at the best of times, but almost impossible to do while rushing and trying not to fall down a ditch at the same time.   Subtlety was never one of my strong points, my only regret is that I wasn't able to charge admission to the show.

Morning LightMorning Light

Speaking of Murphy's Law, Canada Day at Moraine Lake began the same as any other day I head out to photograph a sunrise - with a nice shower, so a few graceful and well placed steps deep into the creek later that morning barely saved me from taking an unnecessary bath. The road into the lake had been eerily quiet all morning, and I thought nothing of changing out of my wet pants beside my truck.  My bare spindly legs stuck into comically oversized hiking boots were poking out of the bottom of my jacket when the first tour bus of the day rounded the corner and drove past me giving the passengers a good look at the local wildlife...

Moraine out of the MistMoraine out of the Mist


 2015 was a classy year.....and a bit drafty.   In photography, timing is essential and I guess the same can be said of changing out of wet clothes or trying to sneak a roadside bathroom break. I like to think that I traded in my daily allotment of good timing in exchange for a shot at a decent photographic opportunity.  


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Failure Flashing Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/flashing Wed, 30 Dec 2015 22:10:44 GMT
Time Spent https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/time-spent
I've been trying to get a very particular shot for about 8 months now, and my latest attempt this week resulted in yet another failure. I'm beginning to come to terms with the fact that my only other option aside from altering the earth's course of rotation might be photoshop.
The latest attempt
Day one, nope nope nope. Attempt # 3, I think.
I was in a bit of a bitter mood as I packed up my gear having wasted half of my Christmas Eve for one lousy shot, but as I headed home, I reminded myself that time spent doing something you love, is time well spent, regardless of the outcome. After the change of heart, I was able to snap a few photos that made me feel a bit better about the effort I'd put in that morning.
[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Failure Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/time-spent Wed, 30 Dec 2015 20:31:44 GMT
Ungulates https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/ungulates I had been puttering around in the dark for some time Friday night, snapping a few test photos and digging around in the snow to arrange a composition.  I finished setting up my camera and was in the tedious process of arranging a rather unbalanced prop, when I switched on a stronger flash light and noticed a pair of eyes glowing about 30 feet away from me. A quick scan with the light revealed 29 more pairs of eyes and I realized I had quite an audience. My heart skipped a beat. I had been unknowingly sharing my location with a rather large herd of elk.  A bit startled and a little unnerved about my lack of observational powers, I decided to pack up and move closer to humanity. Besides, I felt the deer skull I was parading around in front of the group of ungulates was a bit insensitive on my part.

Life & Death in the MountainsLife & Death in the Mountains



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff Landscape Night Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/ungulates Mon, 14 Dec 2015 00:22:02 GMT
Rust in Pieces https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/rust-in-pieces It was determined recently that it would be in the best interest of my sanity, safety and bank account to issue the Do Not Resuscitate order for my beloved truck Mrs. Beastly.  With two cylinders gone bad and a cracked block to drive the nail into the coffin, our time together has come to an early end.  I always said I was going to drive this truck into the ground, I just didn't expect it to be quite this soon, but with 250000 km and many years of hauling a heavy trailer around the Western part of Canada I shouldn't be surprised.  

Digging ourselves out of a ditch

Sunny roadside naps in the box after a 1 am wake up to shoot the sunrise.

The back seat in between shooting a sunset and waiting for the sunrise.  It would appear I spent more time napping than actually driving....



It's sad to say good bye to an old friend when you've had so many adventures and happy memories together. So here's to Mrs Beastly, the scrappiest little truck I've had the pleasure of driving, I couldn't have taken most of my photos without her.

On the brighter side of things, in time, I'm looking forward to finding a new truck that will fit the name "Sir Trucks-a-lot"   

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape Mrs Beastly Photography RIP Truck https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/12/rust-in-pieces Tue, 08 Dec 2015 18:09:30 GMT
Be Good to One Another https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/11/be-good-to-one-another A bit of a rant, if you'll be so kind as to indulge me

I'm very fortunate to be part of multiple artist communities, in person and online.  Communities that offer love and support, guidance and advice, camaraderie along with a healthy dose of constructive criticism.  It's a good situation to be in, and the opportunity to interact with artists of all levels of experience is as enriching and useful for the seasoned professionals as it is for the newcomers.  We can learn from other's mistakes and successes as well as our own.  So it's with great disappointment that I comment today on the attitudes seemingly held by many photographers.  As I scroll through blog posts and read my daily social updates, there has been an influx of thinly veiled jabs hurled out from every platform, from instagram captions to lengthy articles in normally respectable outlets.  A flurry of photographers hell bent on one upping each other by making their own motivations and creative processes seem like the only correct motivation and process to have. (I won't name and shame here, I'm trying hard not to be part of the problem)

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and the rule has never been more true than it is in the world of photographers lately. With every inflammatory article posted, a new rash of photographers emerge, staunchly taking sides against each other over some arbitrary hot topic.  If one photographer is happily sponsored by a company, another photographer will be there denouncing the practice and throwing out accusations of disingenuity.  One photographer only photographs during the golden hour while another shouts into the void about "real  photographers" being able to make beautiful images at any time of the day. Photographers are finding passive aggressive ways to undermine each other over every meaningless little thing. Debates over sponsorship and daring to use social media to their advantage, not being adventurous enough to "deserve" taking a landscape photo as if the difference between hiking or flying to a location will make or break an image.  I see unsolicited criticism about subject matter, techniques, self promotion and the list goes on.

I've even seen photographers get criticized for taking photos of subject matter that is too beautiful and therefore taking the easy way out.  As if the inherent quality of a photo worthy of our praise is the amount of strife a photographer must battle before clicking the shutter.  Kind of silly isn't it?

 It’s frustrating being part of one community of artists and knowing how enriching supporting one another can be for both the experienced and inexperienced and yet I see photographers with a sense of elitism pass on the opportunity to develop their community time and again. 

The Press Gang PromoThe Press Gang Promo

If one photographer is driven to create an image because she's being paid to, and another photographer is driven to create an image from something within himself, who are we to sit behind our computer judging them and exclaiming  one is more worthy of the title of being an artist? It seems to me that if every photographer focussed more on developing their own unique voice and creative processes than their neighbours, everyone would get a lot more work accomplished and we'd all be in better moods because of it. 

For those who still find it absolutely necessary to call a fellow photographer's motivations into question without first bothering to learn why that photographer made the choices he or she did, ask yourself first if you're doing it out of a place of genuine concern for that artist's growth, or is it because you might be feeling insecure about your own work.


I realize that this blog post might be a bit hypocritical by committing to shouting into the void, but can we all just grow up, stop with the petty insults and simply support one another so we can all grow as artists?  

At the end of the day, it's the image and what it says to the audience that matters. How the photographer actually arrived to making that photo is probably nobody's business but their own.  Instead of criticizing why the photographer was driven to take a photograph, we should be asking ourselves what the photographer is trying to say with the image.   

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Photography Rant https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/11/be-good-to-one-another Wed, 18 Nov 2015 21:57:58 GMT
Stability Sticks https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/10/stability-sticks It's funny how something as simple as a set of hiking poles can open up so many possibilities, but with my new little sticks of stability, I’m suddenly not restricted to teetering around in the dark beside my truck any more, relying on a heavy camera laden tripod to stop me from tipping over when it’s too dark for my eyes to keep me vertical.  So it was with my new poles in hand I found myself at a trail head in the dark two weekends in a row.


The first weekend I met up with fellow photographers Monika Deviat, Becky Simrose and Lucas Foran for a hike to Lake Agnes tea house for sunrise and a much needed cup of coffee. It was deliciously foggy and that will ensure that my next venture to the tea house will be just as new an experience as the first, since the visibility was low enough to keep the mountain vistas secret for now.  


Out of the DarkOut of the Dark

Afterwards we trekked into the clouds over the Beehive and down to the toe of the glacier on Mount Victoria just in time for the sun to finally peek out of the clouds. When it was time to leave, we meandered down the river until we finally reached Lake Lousy, errr, Lake Louise, and valiantly fought our way past the hordes of selfie stick wielding tourists. Someday I may actually shoot a sunrise at Lake Louise, but so far the sheer number of people have been pretty effective at keeping me far, far away from the location. I'm just glad the crowds are relatively concentrated in one spot and therefore easily avoided, allowing some solitude for those of us who prefer to be alone. 

Thanksgiving weekend was spent camping in Peter Lougheed park with Mr. Bastard, our annual tradition.  We had some family members visit and we all stayed up late into the night under the trailer awning out of the rain,  huddled around the lantern for heat. We were sort of damp, kind of cold and a little bit pathetic looking, but with enough laughter and a bit of rum we were able to make it through.  A perfectly marvelous way to celebrate thanksgiving, I was especially thankful for the furnace in our trailer and the warm dry place to  sleep that night.  I was also thankful for a bit of company when I woke up  in the middle of the night again to tromp into the forest with my camera. This time, with my Mother in law in tow, I was on the trail to Rawson Lake. I had been there a couple of months ago but not recently, and the high water level at the creek crossing surprised me.  I scampered up and down the bank with my flashlight but could not see a suitable way across in the dark and ultimately we decided it would be better to turn back. The hiking poles can only take me so far in the balance department, and my cameras don't know how to swim.  I felt a little bit dejected, but with a little time to spare, another location was still in reach and we raced up the highway and into Elbow Lake just before dawn broke.  Again, the sunrise wasn't what I had expected but with any day in the mountains the lack of predictability is what makes it fun.  I'm looking forward to making as many trips as I can before the snow flies. 

Afternoon in the Elbow PassAfternoon in the Elbow Pass


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/10/stability-sticks Mon, 26 Oct 2015 20:21:44 GMT
Lower Kananaskis Lake https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/9/LowerLake I had planned to be about 4 km into the woods by the time I opened my eyes Wednesday morning but the pink glow in the sky that greeted me as I looked out the window confirmed my suspicions. I had slept in. It was no surprise really, despite 13 months without one, somehow my idea of “vacation” meant waking up earlier than if I had to go to work.

Out on an IslandOut on an Island

Still, if I was going to miss my alarm clock anywhere, I couldn't have picked a better place to do it.  Despite choosing the campground well in advance, and being fairly familiar with the area, the view out my window caught me off guard and was a strong motivation to get my feet out from under the cozy blankets and on to the freezing cold ground.  My breath turned white and curled in the air as I changed out of my pajamas, grabbed my disorganized bags and scampered the 60 feet or so to the lake shore.  The camera equipment, miscellaneous items and my trusty can of bear spray haphazardly strewn across the rocky beach, I scooted around with both camera bodies churning out compositions. My head going a million miles a minute, trying to take in the view with the cameras and do the scene before me justice, while reminding myself to put the damn things down and enjoy the moment for myself (in between frames at least). 


 My approach to photographing a scene, especially one I haven't planned for, is typically done in the same frantic manner I encounter while trying to leave the house: No matter how many times I tell myself to slow down, I end up losing the car keys 37 times, wearing two different pairs of shoes and somehow still leaving the house without pants. I do envy those photographers who can approach a scene with a calm, cool finesse, take a pretty picture and still manage to emerge from the event with some semblance of dignity.  Then again, if I had any dignity left at the end of a good morning photo session in the mountains, I'd have nothing to talk about here, so I'll move on.

After about an hour the colour in the sky subsided, the mist lifted off the lake and the sun covered the mountains entirely in a static wash of light.  With the sun fully up I began  the long process of packing and went to retrieve my cameras set up along the shore when all of a sudden a haunting, peculiar sound began emanating from the forest. Wind chimes.

GRIZZLY BEAR! I immediately thought, and scanned the forest for the furred, jingly intruder while rushing over to where I had left the bear spray.  I began cramming precious cameras in my bag in order to save them from a toothy demise. When a ravenous, wind chiming bear did not appear, I realized that it was in fact Cows and Kitties that typically wear bells around their neck and not the Ursus arctos.  

The sound persisted.

My mind turned, briefly, to rational thoughts and I strained to see if some eager camper was near by hanging chimes outside the tent to spruce the place up a bit, or summoning loved ones for a plate of campfire cooked bacon. Not a soul had stirred awake. 

The sound persisted, louder now, faster as if a ghostly, wind chime bearing apparition was rushing back and forth through the trees. Ghosts.  Angry, twinkly sounding ghosts hidden in the shadows of the suddenly evil forest, waiting to strangle me with the long ropes of their stupid wind chimes, but no ghosts emerged from the forest either. 

The sound persisted. 

I don't like this campground anymore.

Maybe the sounds were in my head. Was this my official descent into madness? Would the wind chimes ever stop? Is that why no other campers were crawling out of their tents curious to know what could cause wind chimes to echo through the forest?

The sound persisted. 

I began to cry.

With tears welling up in my eyes, snot welling up in my nose and my face slowly turning fifty shades of red I finished packing my bags, eager to rush the 60 feet back to my bed and crawl under the covers. I pulled my phone from out of my coat pocket to pack it away - 8 am it said, chiming in that it was time to wake up.  My alarm clock had been ringing.

Sunken TreasureSunken Treasure

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Failure Humour Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/9/LowerLake Wed, 23 Sep 2015 05:02:17 GMT
Bring a Towel https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/9/bring-a-towel I uploaded a new photo to my Iceland gallery this week.  Well, not exactly new, it's over a year old now, but new for the public eye. 

I was sure bummed out when I came home from vacation last year and viewed the photo on my big computer screen.  Water droplets everywhere. I had packed lens tissues, but the flimsy little papers just couldn't keep up with the torrent of water and mist spraying from the waterfalls.  The moment I laid eyes on this particular waterfall, I knew I had to photograph it, despite stopping at close to a dozen other equally impressive waterfalls over the course of the previous three days.  Tired and aching from a long day, the car pulled over and both my Dad and Mr. Bastard entertained themselves while I waded around in the river trying to hold the tripod steady against the current. I captured the composition I wanted and took an extra photo with a longer lens before I hopped into the car just to be sure, and away we went again.

The photo with the long lens made it into the gallery in the first batch. It wasn't my favourite, but it was the only one that I considered a success from that particular stop. There's nothing wrong with it, but I knew what else I had tried to capture that day and I knew that I had failed. It didn't help that every time I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (which is a LOT) I would spot the scenic little spot as Ben Stiller's stunt double careened past on a long board.  There's that waterfall again.  Thanks a lot for reminding me Walter.

  The rejected photo sat on my hard drive as a reminder to bring a towel next time and to slow down, something I have struggled with my entire life.  I rushed through, I didn't look carefully enough at the lens when I cleaned it, I didn't examine the LCD rendering closely. I packed up and left before I was certain I had met my expectations.  It was an expensive mistake and I hated the photo for reminding me.  But something changed over the course of the year, and it wasn't the photo, which had patiently waited on my hard drive to be recognized. It was me.  Somewhere over the course of the last year, I had stopped berating myself for screwing up and started to kinda think that maybe the photo might be sorta okay in it's own way.  Instead of dwelling on my failure to achieve my original vision for the photo, I was able to work with the photo I had. A conversion to black and white, some adjustments to emphasize the water droplets rather than trying to hide them, and I was finally able to view the photo with fresh eyes.

A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.  The same holds true for photographers.Some hard lessons were learned in Iceland last summer.A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. The same holds true for photographers.Some hard lessons were learned in Iceland last summer.

Sometimes it just take a little bit of time and a few steps back from a photo to realize it's potential.  I do occasionally troll through my archives to find a photo which I may have written off before giving it a proper chance.  So don't press the delete button on your reject pile immediately, because even though they may not meet your expectations right away, occasionally they prove themselves in different ways after the dust has settled. 


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Failure Iceland Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/9/bring-a-towel Sat, 05 Sep 2015 00:16:54 GMT
The Gypsy Bears https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/9/the-gypsy-bears

The first time I heard of The Gypsy Bears was back in 2006 or 2007, and I'd missed their set.  I had arrived at a show shortly after they left the stage to find the crowd absolutely buzzing with excitement. Who were these kids?  Nobody seemed to really know them, but anyone I talked to that night excitedly described this weird band they had just experienced.  I heard tales of programmed drums, back flips off of amps, frenzied members running around the stage intentionally detuning each other's guitars, band members and crowd alike taking hits off the fog machine.

Pure chaos the crowd said, the music wasn't exactly the greatest, but you just have to see them live, they're amazing.

And so I did, a lot, and I got to see the band change and evolve over the years. Members came and went, the programmed drums were eventually traded for a human drummer, the music became great and eventually the guitars even stayed in tune for the whole set. But one thing remained constant: The chaotic energy on stage which always makes seeing The Gypsy Bears a memorable experience. 

Here's a few of my favourites from their set at Verns last weekend.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Punk yyclivemusic https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/9/the-gypsy-bears Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:54:44 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (10) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-10  

Today's tip about landscape and outdoor photography is a little bit counter intuitive, and it might make you question my sanity if you haven't already, but it's one that I believe is truly important. And for the record, my sanity is relatively intact it's usually just my pants or car keys that I've lost.   


Make Mistakes!  On purpose!  (gasp, what did she just say? I am questioning her sanity)


Have you learned the rules of composition?  Can you recite your f stops? Do you know what the hell ISO does?  Do you know what you need to do to make your photos nice and sharp like a good little photographer?  Great.

It's the nice thing about learning all the rules, once you've got them figured out, you can also figure out when to completely ignore them.  It's kind of like being an adult and getting to eat ice cream for three meals a day - you may know the reasons why you shouldn't do it, but there's also absolutely nothing to stop you from doing it anyway. So go ahead, eat ice cream, make mistakes and enjoy.

Focusing strictly on following the "rules" of photography can get in the way of your own vision and leave you frustrated with the entire process. Not every photo has to be perfect in every way and portfolio worthy.  Holding yourself to impossibly high standards might do more harm than good when something doesn't work out as planned and it gets to your head.  Besides, nobody has to know if you snap some photos that aren't perfect once in a while. (Unless you tell them, I usually prefer to keep my mouth shut and my delete button at the ready though)  If you allow yourself the freedom to experiment and make mistakes without beating yourself up about it, you might surprise yourself and produce something you really like in the process and at the very least, be able to learn from your errors. 

Try jogging down a path with a slow shutter speed.

A Walk in the ParkA Walk in the ParkRules? We don't need your stinkin' rules! Throw your camera in the air, don't worry, the crowd of tourists across the street aren't pointing and laughing at you, only at your actions. Try not to pay attention to them anyway, your camera is careening through the air towards your face.

The Sky is FallingThe Sky is Falling

Subject? Focal point? Pffft.


A beautiful lake surrounded by a majestic mountain range, or, zoom in an extra150 mm and see what else is around. Not every sweeping vista needs an equally wide angled lens.

Earth and WaterEarth and Water

Most people would cringe at the thought of using Vaseline on a camera, but it's not just useful for dry skin (tip: check out ebay for cheap UV filters, I'd highly recommend using one if you're going to play with vaseline and other lube like substances around your camera. I picked up mine for 99 cents each)

Vision quest IVVision quest IV

So go ahead, ditch the rules and have a little bit of fun, it's allowed once in a while. You might be surprised at what you can come up with. Happy shooting!

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-10 Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:18:14 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (9) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-9  

I often get asked by my Mother why my pictures are so much nicer than hers, and I tell her the same thing I'm about to tell you, I'll give you a hint. It has nothing to do with what camera we're using. My Mom's 97 million megapixel ultra high def camera phone is probably a lot more capable than many cameras I've used in the past. But the thing that sets my photos apart from hers, is Time.

The time to learn how to use the equipment, to practice getting good compositions. Time to fail miserably and even more time to pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and eventually improve. It takes time out of your day to reach a location and to shoot, and to make it home, edit and print.  The time it takes for all the uncontrollable variables to line up perfectly in order to match the vision in your head to what's presented in front of you. (Hint: Sometimes it takes years)

Slivers of SilverSlivers of Silver

eh, it's nice...but nope


Nope, definitely not this either.




Hmmmm.... This might work... but I should probably visit this location 37 more times in the next few years just to make sure.

Time is probably the one thing most photographers struggle with, including myself.  It's hard to find a free moment to slip away from real life and have some quality camera time. It's frustrating to want to translate what's in front of you into a photo, but lack the experience to do the scene justice. It's maddening to see the images a more experienced photographer has captured and think "Why don't mine look that good?".  The truth is, every photographer has been there before, but with time their photos improved just as yours will.  If you can set time aside for the mundane tasks like grocery shopping or laundry, why can't you set time aside to go out and capture some images?  A little bit of time here, a little bit of effort there, and at the end of the decade you might find yourself becoming a pretty decent photographer without even realizing it.  A surefire way to get great images is to put the time and effort in to get them, and recognize for your own sanity (and perhaps the sanity of those around you too) that it does take an awful lot of time and effort on your part.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-9 Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:20:14 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (8) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-8

I'm posting landscape and outdoor photography tips that don't have anything to do with camera gear. That's not to say they aren't things, you just might not pack them into your camera bag.  Today's tip probably should have been tip number one, it's the best tip that I have and it's the one that I absolutely loathe.

Set Your Alarm Clock

I have three alarm clocks.  I hate all three of them.  They are extremely effective and surprisingly impact resistant. 

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin IIBrandenburg Gate, Berlin II
Brandenberg Gate in Berlin is an absolute circus during the day, but once the sun goes down it's much more peaceful. Mr. Bastard and I spent a lot of time sitting on the sidewalk, enjoying convenience store beer and waiting for the place to settle in order to snap this photo.

One way to guarantee getting a photo that doesn’t look like every other photo out there, is to shoot during the times when less people are likely to be viewing a particular scene. I know the popular saying is “Nothing good ever happens after 2 am” but for a photographer, that doesn’t quite hold true.

You've probably heard of "The Golden Hour" and "The Blue Hour"  they're good hours, sometimes they even last more than an hour and sometimes they're over in 10 minutes. It's the time around sunrise and sunset when the light is pretty, the sky is lovely and the rest of the world is usually either tucked safely in their beds or sitting around the dinner table.  Try not to think about how nice their life is compared to yours right now, those people - cozy in their beds dreaming. Those people, surrounded by delicious home cooked meals and family, the sound of gentle laughter wafting through the air.  You - crouched down in a manure laden field, gingerly feeling around in the dark for a poo-free place to rest your hand.  The dew drops soaking through your sneakers while you sit silently, freezing and being viciously mauled by 300 pound mosquitoes. The 6 cups of coffee you used to power through the 2 am alarm clock pounding on your bladder door.   Remember you're there for the photo. Do it for the photo.

3 am is a Beautiful Time to be Alive in Iceland3 am is a Beautiful Time to be Alive in IcelandIn my only pair of jammies, rolling around in sheep manure at 3 am.

3 AM under a midnight sun in Iceland. 

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-8 Sun, 23 Aug 2015 17:45:00 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (6 and 7) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-6  

I'm back with my serious tips for Landscape photography, brought to you by serious Llisa. So serious.

Safety (See, I told you. Serious stuff)

I’m a big fan of being safe and it all boils down to having an understanding of where you’re shooting, recognizing the potential dangers and not being so intent on getting the shot that you risk your own personal safety. That pretty much sums it up, if a situation makes your spidey senses start to tingle, it might be a good move to remove yourself from that situation. 

Since January, when I started struggling with my balance, I have found myself turning away a little more often from things that normally wouldn't bother me.  I have also found myself singing "I'm a little teapot, tip me over and pour me out" on a loop, but I won't sing it for you here, I wouldn't want it to get stuck in your head too.  Now when I'm on my own, I have to stick to places with nice wide paths and little exposure in case I tip over sideways.  I might be able to get into a location okay, but if there's a chance I can't make it out again, I tend to err on the side of caution and find a less risky alternative. 

Lundbreck Falls in B&WLundbreck Falls in B&W Wedged in between two rocks, three points of contact with the ground, I wasn't exactly comfortable, but I also wasn't in danger of going anywhere either!

Similarly, my eyes are often on the ground watching for signs of bears or other large predators, being aware of your surroundings is never a bad idea. 

I took this as my cue to leave.

I wasn't sure what animal left this print, it looks like dog (a really really big dog).  But with absolutely nobody in the area, I took this as my cue to leave.

I'd like to say that no photo is worth your life, but if, for example, you're absolutely convinced you're going to die at the hands (hooves) of a horny, angry moose, you may as well go out with your finger on the shutter.  (Rather than reaching for my bear spray when faced with a potentially aggressive moose, I switched to a telephoto lens, the wrong choice on many levels.)



And in a rare but suitable double post since it's along the same lines as safety.
Be Prepared

I’m not talking about remembering to pack your circular polarizing filter either.  I’m often surprised at the number of people who try to convince me that it’s best not to leave the house and venture out into the world, especially in the winter. 

Not leaving the house is a really good way to miss out on perfectly good photographic opportunities.  

Perhaps my confidence lies in the gear I have stashed in my truck or backpack.  I have a fairly extensive pile of things that I have included in my “Adventure Box” which is a pre-packed Tupperware that I throw in the back of my truck with enough little doodads,  knick-nacks and snacky snacks to help get me through or out of a number of unpleasant situations when I'm on the road. 

Hey Llisa, what's in the box?

Toilet Paper
Waterproof matches

Bivvy Bag

Heat/Cooking candles

Beef Jerky. Om nom nom

Granola Bars


Tow Rope

Jumper Cables


Come-A-Long (Hand operated winch)

Assorted tools

Air compressor

Extra gloves, socks and shoes

First aid kit

Vehicle fluids (Oil, coolant, washer fluid etc...)

It's especially useful for winter driving when the amount of people out driving lonely mountain roads drops.

Being self sufficient can give you the confidence you need to actually get out there and make photos.




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-6 Sat, 22 Aug 2015 17:45:00 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (5) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-5  

Aretha Franklin knew what was up, just a little bit of R-E-S-P-E-C-T baby and it's a good thing to remember if you're an outdoor photographer.   Now to be honest, I don't know if this tip will make you a better photographer, but I can guarantee it will make you less of an asshole, and other photographers might be more willing to cooperate and help you along your photographic journey.  So in a roundabout way, having respect has it's direct benefits for you too, not just the world around you.

Stop for a second and think about how much life must suck for a plant trying to eke out a living among the rock high up in the alpine. Sure, the view is great, but the soil conditions are crummy, the growing season short and sooner or later, something big and furry comes along to eat you. 

Bigger than a flower, furry and hungry. I didn't specify how big

When I scrambled into this area to chase after wild flowers, I was careful to ensure my feet didn't touch a single flower on the way up, which, if you've noticed how often I fall into lakes, was no small task.  If I had crushed a plant on the way up, it's only one plant, but if 10000 photographers crush a plant each, then sooner or later, there are no more plants and the cute furry things (who also happen to make excellent photographic subjects) start to die of starvation. 
There's a saying I like to remind myself when I'm out in the wild "Take only pictures, leave only footprints" and I do my very best to adhere to that.  Respecting the area you're shooting is often simple to do, but unfortunately many people forget to do things like pack out any garbage that they may have brought in, stick to the marked trails to reduce impact on sensitive ecosystems or don't feed the wildlife.  


While respecting the local flora and fauna might be a rather lonesome activity, respecting the other people around you can actually be a fun experience, and a good way to make friends.  When you're setting up at a location, have a look around you once in a while to make sure you're not stepping on toes, or ruining the experience of the people who may have travelled thousands of kilometres to see the view you might be currently blocking.  Common courtesy is appreciated by those around you, and you will probably receive the same courtesy in return.  

​  HoodoosHoodoos

I met a fellow photographer at this popular location early one morning, but with mutual respect for one another and a bit of communication we were able to work in relatively close quarters without ruining each other's shots. We even offered to share some filters with one another.  See, I told you not being an asshole has benefits. 

Too often I see an image hungry photographer unintentionally disrespect the other people around or even the very land he's so desperate to capture. So remember to keep an eye out for the folks around you and even more importantly, tread lightly and mind the earth under your feet so that the generations of photo snappers that follow still have pristine subject matter to capture.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-5 Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:15:28 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (4) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-4  

My last non-Camera gear related tip dealt with planning a shoot. But what happens after you actually arrive at the location doesn't always go according to plan.  

Having a Good Attitude and being flexible is crucial to successfully getting the shot because let’s face it – things go wrong. Super wrong. All the time.  I wouldn't have nearly as many stories to tell around the dinner table if things went right.  (It's one of the biggest reasons I have this blog in the first place)

The following events preceded this nice serene looking photo: SolitudeSolitude

Peaceful looking pictures must mean it was a peaceful place right?  Not always...

1.  I enjoy a lovely peaceful morning drive out to the lake, I appear to be the last person on earth. The highway is mine and mine alone. Open road. Coffee. Freedom.
2. In the distance, headlights appear. A comically large convoy is moving on the horizon and soon, no less than 30 photographers join me in the parking lot one by one by one.
3. Someone shines a flashlight in my face. I am not the droid they're looking for. I am now also slightly blind.

4. Swerving, stumbling and swearing, I valiantly fight my way through the thorny bramble to reach the lake side.
5. Arranging a piece of foreground interest in the water and feeling confident in my rubber boots, I overstep their limits and fill them with freezing cold water. Soon after I crouch down and inadvertently dip my bum in the lake to ensure it matches my socks.
6. A sewage truck shows up shattering any semblance of serenity in the mountains when it loudly begins to pump the outhouses.
7.  I take a somewhat crappy photo

Bow LakeBow Lake
Exhibit A: Somewhat crappy photo

8.  Speaking of crap, the smell emanating from the sewage truck seeps into my nostrils. 
9. I leave my breakfast in the bushes. Classy.
10. I discover a wide, paved pathway from the lake side to the parking lot and hope nobody recognizes me as the idiot who recently tried to fight through the thorny bushes.
11. I abandon my composition to move 300 metres up the road in search of a bit of peace and quiet and find it located conveniently next to suitable foreground interest.

Despite all the inconveniences, I found the whole situation to be amusing and managed to have a blast. I had beautiful scenery and a working camera, there's little else I need in life. 

Having a positive state of mind will not only help you enjoy the shoot despite its shortcomings, but it might help you see past a failed attempt towards an even better shot. 

When I fall in a creek I don’t let it ruin my day, pack up and go home - I laugh about it, change my pants in front of a tourist bus, laugh even more about the embarrassing moment and then spend the rest of my day happily taking pictures, even if they are only pants-less selfies.   

Right in line with a positive attitude is flexibility, I usually have a loose plan in mind for any given location which I can use as a jumping off point.  I’ll get the shot I’m after and then spend some time exploring other options I may not have thought about. Often it’s the shots that present themselves later on that have a greater impact.

What if you were so intent on photographing a spectacular sunrise in the mountains that you didn't bother to look around you and missed out on photographing something amazing.  Let's say, Bigfoot, who was on fire.  Right - Bigfoot on fire ran right past you, and you missed it because your camera was pointed at a mountain that's been there every day in the same place for millions of years.  A hard way to learn that you need to be flexible, be ready.

Remember not to be so focused on the shot you’re after that you lose sight of what’s around you!

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-4 Thu, 20 Aug 2015 16:06:14 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (3) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-3 This week, I'm posting a series of tips for Landscape photographers that have nothing to do with Camera Gear which means I get to tell you about one of my favourite things about landscape photography:


 Whether it's scouring maps for interesting formations, searching for ghost towns and neat old buildings on the google machine or justifying a leisurely Sunday drive in the name of "location scouting" I love planning photos.   Potential locations appear on the back of my hand in marker, get hastily recorded in voice notes on my phone, or noted on my personalized google map full of potential locations (aka "The To Do List").  When a concept comes to mind without a location, I have any number of possible places already noted. Once a location is decided,
I use The Photographer’s Ephemeris to help me decide on the best time to visit. 

My biggest reason for stockpiling so many ideas is the motivation a solid plan gives me to get out of bed in the morning.

Sunrise on Upper Kananaskis LakeSunrise on Upper Kananaskis Lake Camping near this location the night before gave me the opportunity to be at the location and ready to shoot before the sun rose.  I had known the sun would hit the mountain face in an interesting way by consulting maps and The Photographer's Ephemeris. Without the research to motivate me, I likely would have stayed in bed.

I can sleep for 13 hours a day if I don't have a good reason to get out of bed. (I went to bed at 6:45 pm yesterday. Party Animal...)  If I’m planning to get a specific shot at a location three hours away and the sun is going to rise at 5:30 am, then it’s a lot easier to leap out of bed at 1 am than if I only have a vague idea of where I want to go or see. 

An additional bonus of having a long list of photos to take is it allows me to keep shooting during the times when I may not be feeling creative. The shot list I have on hand helps spur me into action. Saturday with nothing to do?  Consult the list and suddenly have a good reason to get dressed and out of the house.

So what am I making a note of when I'm searching out all of these locations?  Here's a few things to keep in mind:

1. What direction will your camera be facing in relation to your subject? This will help determine if there's a particular time of day that's better to visit.
Goodbye BlueGoodbye Blue
 When I noticed that this old house faces East on google maps, I knew that the sunrise would be a perfect opportunity to catch the rising sun in it's windows.


2. Is there a particular kind of vegetation or weather pattern that would best suit the scene?  Am I so far north that the sun won't rise during certain parts of the year no matter how much I plead?  This will help decide what time of year to visit. 


Mountains are nice and all, but flowers are nicer.  Hey, wouldn't it be great to combine flowers and mountains in one single photo? Best visit in July.

3. How long will it take to arrive? There's nothing worse than underestimating how long it will take to reach a location and missing out on a pivotal moment. Is the Milky Way going to be perfectly situated in your composition at a particular time, best arrive a bit before that to set up.  Moments like a sunrise or sunset can happen quickly and are highly unlikely to accommodate anyone's schedule but their own. Don't be late.

The MomentThe Moment

The sun is almost here, the sun is almost here!  Better get ready....

4. Often overlooked but important details to note: Where are the bathrooms, gas stations, coffee shops and rest areas suitable for napping? It's not always about the photo.  Remember to look after you.  I've had many a roadside nap in the back of my truck and I find that the best places are a little bit off the beaten path so they're  quiet, but still have a bathroom near by.
Most people think that I spend my time photographing things when I'm out and about, but they're wrong. I'm usually just finding scenic and sunny places to nap.

4. Before you leave, if the option is available check to see if there are road or trail closures due to accidents or nearby aggressive animals.
5.  This is probably obvious, but what's the weather supposed to be like?  Is the cloud cover at the right altitude to create a great sunrise or sunset?  Are the skies going to be clear enough to capture those star trails? Or are you going to drive for 3 hours and get within 10 km of your destination only to be greeted by a ridiculous wall of snow?
Green Trees in a SnowstormGreen Trees in a Snowstorm
Last time I was in the area, there was a rather large mountain and lake behind those trees...

Do you have any other tips for planning a photo?  Leave them in the comments!
[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-3 Wed, 19 Aug 2015 16:04:17 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (2) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-2  

This week, I'm posting a series of tips for the Landscape (or Outdoor) photographer that have nothing to do with Camera Gear. That doesn't mean it won't leave you with a bit of a shopping list though.  Today's super tip is all about Wearing the Proper Clothing

Ugh. Okay Mom.

I’m guilty of ignoring this tip as evidenced by my often frostbitten fingers and soggy feet -  but do as I say, not as I do.  Going to the lake? Bring rubber boots.  Is it snowing? A pair of good gloves will go a long way.  Does the weatherman think it’s going to rain?  Sometimes he's actually right you know, so remember to pack a raincoat for yourself, not just the camera. Check the forecast and throw some extra warm, dry clothes in the truck whether you think you’ll need them or not. 

Sunrise at Frank LakeSunrise at Frank Lake

The morning I took this photo was a seemingly balmy Canadian spring morning.  Sure, 3 degrees felt nice and warm when I left the house wearing a pair of sneakers, but as my feet broke through the thin layer of ice coating the marsh I changed my tune.  Hobbling back to the truck on frozen feet with tears streaming down my face  made me realize something: I needed to buy some rubber boots.  I spent years fighting my parents on the topic of rubber boots, mostly because there's absolutely no way to look good in them, but these days I'm a proud owner of an $11 pair of ugly rubber boots that I picked up at Canadian Tire because a comfortable photographer is a productive photographer.   Do I look good in them?  Well, if you think an ultra prepared, slightly clumsy walking photographer with warm dry feet is sexy, then yes, I look pretty damn fine.

The problem I find however, especially in the winter, is that when I get into a composition, like...really into a composition, I find myself shedding all the important clothes I've put on.  Not like, "Ooooh man, this photo composition is making me kinda hot!" shedding clothes but more in the realm of "These stupid mittens are slowing me down!" or "I can't bend my knees with these 80 pairs of snow pants and the foreground interest is way down by my feet!"  and then sooner or later my warm clothes are strewn about the snow, I'm crying because I got frost bite again and all  I have to show for my stupidity is a really rad photo.  I am learning though, and I'm here to tell you (I'm using my motivational infomercial voice right now, in case you didn't catch on) there are clothing products out there that allow both function and comfort.  Seek them out, try them on in the store and do some squats in the dressing room, don't forget to wave at the hidden dressing room video camera and wear those functional and comfortable clothes in the field. You'll be a lot more productive, and you won't have to worry about the sound of your mother's voice swimming in your head repeating "Are you really leaving the house like that?"

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-2 Tue, 18 Aug 2015 15:43:03 GMT
Landscape Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do With Gear (1) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-1  

I see an awful lot of articles about landscape photography and they usually have one thing in common: Camera Gear.  You need this lens and that filter and don't you dare leave the house without a tripod.  

I get it.

We all get it.  

The funny thing is, you can do landscape photography with whatever camera you've got lying around. You don't need every piece of gear on the wish list to take a landscape photo. Some of my favourite work has been produced on an entry level DSLR, a kit lens and the last $20.00 to my name thrown into the gas tank.  If you're willing to put the effort in, you can make a photo work with whatever gear you have.  So I'm going to put the gear wish list aside (oh, and it's a beautiful shiny list isn't it?) and put together a practical list to help you on your next landscape photo outing. 



Leave a Note

This is rule number one around our house - if you`re going out into the wilderness or even just for a drive somewhere, leave a note. It takes five seconds to let someone know where you're going.  Even when I only have a vague idea of what my shoot will entail, I leave a note for my husband telling where I’m planning on going, what my plan B might look like, a reminder of what my licence plate is and a time for him to start panicking and assuming the worst. It's a big country we live in, so it's good to narrow down the space for people to start looking for you.
And before you argue with me "But Lisa, give me a break, I have a phone on me at all times"  I will gently remind you that cell phones don't always work in this big country of ours and even if they do, sometimes the holder of the cell phone drops it into a lake rendering it useless . Stranger things have happened.

This is what "Welp.... I'm screwed" looks like.


If you think leaving a note is kid stuff my recommended reading to you is Aron Ralston’s “172 Hours” (Or you can watch the movie if that’s more your speed) Not only will it beat you over the head with a very valuable lesson about letting people know where you're going (kind of like what I'm doing now, except nobody is going to pay me to let James Franco act out this blog post), it's actually a pretty great book/movie.  Spoiler alert: Aron didn't leave a note and bad things happened to him. Very bad things. He could have died because he didn't leave a note.  I don't want bad things to happen to you, so remember to tell someone what your plans are. 

I promise I won't be quite so stern with tomorrow's post.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) How To Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Photography Tips Photography Tips https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/8/landscape-photography-tips-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-gear-1 Mon, 17 Aug 2015 20:34:40 GMT
Chance https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/7/chance The ringing of my two alarm clocks went unnoticed for over half an hour, but at 2:41 am, the sound of thunder and rain slamming against the house brought my heavy but brief sleep to an end.  I leapt out of bed, hoping to trick myself into action before I could fully realize how stupid waking up before 3 am and leaving the house in the middle of an electrical storm was. Fortunately, I’m a bit slow in the brain department at that time of day, and before I could protest, I found myself on the highway though I was still 30 minutes behind schedule.

What is quickly becoming a Canada Day tradition, I was on my way to Moraine Lake.  A 2.5 hour drive from the city and with sunrise at its unapologetically punctual 5:30 am time slot, there was no time to even grab breakfast or stop for a bathroom break. 
Moraine out of the MistMoraine out of the Mist
When I’m driving,  my eyes are on high alert for interesting photos and that morning, I passed by a number of fantastic opportunities.  A small pond glowing pale orange with light pollution from the city and reflecting flashes of lightning on the outskirts of Calgary. Outside Banff, the popular Vermillion Lakes and Cascade Ponds showed real promise of the kind of sunrise and cloud movement I’ve desperately tried but never managed to capture for myself.  With no time to spare I pressed on, opting to stray away from a sure thing in the hopes that something better was around the corner.

With a particular photo in mind, but absolutely zero idea how or where it could be achieved, I pulled into the Moraine Lake parking lot and sprinted up the trail. I was relieved to see that a suitable position for my camera was much closer than I thought and I gingerly hopped along boulders until I found a perch in the middle of a creek.  Perhaps it was the combination of adrenaline and coffee that had my legs shaking violently that morning, making the entire process of setting up my camera difficult but I used my extended tripod for support and reached a place to sit down without getting anything important soaked. I must have been a little bit too lucky on the approach considering my track record of dunking myself and other important gear into glacial streams, at one point, I removed the towel which had been keeping my camera relatively dry from the spray of the creek to find that my filter holder and graduated filter had been sacrificed to the camera gods by way of the water (or littering in a National Park if you choose to look at it that way).  With the water induced sacrifice out of the way, all was right in the world and the sun began it's journey around the globe.
 The clouds rolled in and out of the valley of the ten peaks at a surprising speed and I snapped away but as the sun peeked above the horizon and lit up the rock wall before me, the clouds gave way to a brilliant blue sky. The difference in photos seem like they should be taken days apart, but they are only separated by minutes. I glanced upwards and noticed a gaggle of photographers had clambered on to the famed rock pile and I silently thanked them for sticking to convention and letting me have a nice solitary albeit somewhat damp place to work far below them.  


Later in the morning, I clambered up a hill some distance from the lake in search of wildflowers and upon finding a beautiful scene, I damned myself for not being able to be two places at once while the sun rose.  Perhaps next time I won't wait an entire year before returning.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff Calgary Landscape Mountains Photography Rocky Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/7/chance Sat, 04 Jul 2015 00:36:02 GMT
Time https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/6/time I have been trying to get out while the weather is warm and knock as many items off my "To Shoot" list as I can this year. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, sometimes I like to use up as many of those hours as I can to run around taking pictures.  

We had friends from Vancouver staying at our place while they were in town to play Sled Island, I was looking forward to catching their set on Saturday night.  I had also been looking forward to a local band's farewell gig and album release on the same night.  With our guests planning to leave early Sunday morning, and some other friends wanting to meet up to go frolick in the water in the mountains somewhere, I devised a plan.

Exercising the dog with a series of 10 second timers.

I would catch both shows on Saturday night, say my good byes to our friends once they arrived at our house at the end of the night, drive out to the mountains, shoot the sunrise, nap in my truck for a few hours and then wake up once my other friends arrived to sit in the sun and play in the water all day.

It was a good plan. 

It was an ambitious plan. 

I'm still kind of surprised it worked.

I am sunburned, I am (still) exhausted and I have a memory card full of new photos to share.


First plan of action was to see the relatively new band "Low Levels" (Vancouver) absolutely light the crowd up at the Palomino. I'm really looking forward to seeing them again, hopefully they'll have some recordings by then, and I know I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Immediately after their set, Mr. Bastard and I scurried over to Distortion to see Chakobsa play their final gig.  We managed to get there just as they took the stage. The heat absolutely radiated from the crowd at the front of the stage and I wasn't able to shoot photos for long before my eyes went blurry from the heat.  Kudos to the boys for being able to play a great set in that heat while standing underneath the stage lighting. 

After the shows, I put the view of the city in my rear view mirror.  Creepy-dog had to share the passenger seat with a stockpile of coffee.  We managed to get to Sheep River Falls shortly before the sun rose and we scurried over to a viewpoint that I had chosen during a previous visit.    Creepy is an excellent pal to have along on road trips, but she's a terrible photography assistant. 

 She has 3 modes of operation when I'm trying to take a photo:

1. Pull on leash as hard as she can back towards the truck and crying incessantly 

2. SQ SQ SQ SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Wandering into the frame

Still, I was happy to finally get to see the sun rise over the falls and the distraction of having Creepy in tow made me work quickly. 

Smoky SunsetSmoky Sunset


Once the sun was up, I wandered back to the truck and dozed off for about three hours.  First in the front seat until my legs went numb, and then in the back seat until it was too hot to stay in the vehicle any longer.  My friends showed up and I happily played in the water all afternoon, skipping rocks and lounging until it was time to finally go home and go to bed.  A fine way to cram a weekend's worth of fun into a single day.



Creepy & Buddy


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Band Photography Calgary Landscape Photography Punk Sunrise Vancouver https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/6/time Wed, 01 Jul 2015 01:27:12 GMT
Prairies and Parades https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/6/prairies-and-parades Last weekend Mr. Bastard was out of town on a fishing trip so I packed up the truck, loaded in Creepy-dog and headed East.  With no real goal in mind, I aimlessly zig zagged across the prairies making a series of right hand turns down endless highway and dirt roads in search of a change of scenery and some simple compositions.    Prairie Simplicity III B&WPrairie Simplicity III B&W

At one point, the road dipped into a coulee and I suddenly found myself in the middle of a small and surprisingly busy little town.  There were people everywhere I looked, and part way through town I began to notice a pattern.  The townsfolk were either sitting in lawn chairs along the sidewalk (odd, I thought), or loitering in small groups around the tail gates of their pick up trucks which had been backed up in parking lots facing the street (slightly less odd, I thought).  When a stranger drives through a small town, it’s noticeable to the people who live there that someone new is around. I garnered quite a few looks from the people along the street, but paid little attention to their glances. (As a person who grew up in a town of 225 people, yes, we do know you’re not from here and yes, we are staring at you)

Still, maybe they had somehow known I would drive through town that day and gathered to see me and Creepy-dog.  (Gather round one and all! Llisa and Creepy, racing across the prairie!  See the famed truck Mrs. Beastly in her currently operating state!  Watch as woman and fur-beast awkwardly try to drive while eating snacks not designed for consumption while driving! See them occasionally stop to take pictures or scoff at poorly maintained bathrooms!)  Egomania be damned, it wasn’t until I looked down a side street towards the end of town and noticed a colourful parade at the end of the block that I put two and two together. 

I had unintentionally become a parade marshall. 

In hindsight, I should have been throwing candy  out the window (or in my case, oodles of pickle and cheese sandwiches).   At the very least, I should have waved.

Giggling madly to myself, I continued on my journey with less of an audience. I made notes of places that would be good places to photograph at sunset or sunrise. On the outskirts of Drumheller, I noticed a small canyon that would be dynamite at sunset and decided I would come back around 8 pm. I spent the rest of the day roaming around aimlessly, watching the sunlight play tag with the rain clouds and cast pockets of light and shadow across the prairie landscape. Occasionally long skid marks would appear under the tires of my truck on lonely gravel roads after seeing a composition I found pleasing. Other times, the skid marks would appear simply because it's really really fun to spin around in the dirt. (The new truck tires I bought last year were money well spent)

Prairie Simplicity VPrairie Simplicity V

As sunset approached, I made my way back to the canyon I spotted early in the day, and set up my camera in the nick of time to capture what I was after.  I couldn't believe my good timing once  the light quickly became flat and boring again.  I had assumed that would be where I spent my evening, but with new found time to spare I headed towards the Hoodoo formations on the other side of Drumheller.

I had vowed to not take photos of grain silos while on the prairies, but I stopped briefly to snap a few more photos of a grain elevator bathed in golden sunlight. Although they are still common photographic subjects, the grain elevator is a quickly disappearing icon of the prairie and the opportunity was too good to pass.

Andrew FarmsAndrew Farms

I made it to the Hoodoos with the intent of taking the easy way out photographically speaking, and shooting the famed formations.  However, as I entered the parking lot a less typical scene caught my eye. I ended up crouched down on the side of the highway in a drainage ditch while the sun disappeared behind the horizon.

With a certain photo in mind for sunrise at the Hoodoos, I set up an uncomfortable bed in my truck and spent the night in the parking lot. The nice thing about truck sleeping in the summer is the short amount of time to wait before the sun rises again.  

This truck ain't big for the two of us Creepy-dog

A few hours later I was up and sharing the view of a lacklustre sunrise with a fellow early rising photographer.  "Any minute now" I kept saying, but the sun and clouds did not cooperate as I had hoped.  After a while, I noticed a ball of light hovering 90 degrees to the left of my camera and realized the photo I had in mind for that morning, wouldn't be achievable for another six months or so.  A cold sleepless night for nothing. Note to self: Research before leaving the house.  

 I waited around for two hours hoping something interesting would happen with the light, depleting my coffee source in the process but alas I had been skunked. I took a few consolation photos, packed up, drove home and crawled into bed for an award worthy nap.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Landscape Photography Prairie Sunrise Sunset https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/6/prairies-and-parades Thu, 18 Jun 2015 04:46:00 GMT
May Long - Day Three https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/6/may-long---day-three Just a sample shot from Sheep River Falls

Day Three of the May Long weekend included a rather sore Mr. Bastard, who had been practicing his Mad Max style jumps from one moving vehicle to another all weekend.  I hear stories that it's harder than it looks and so our plan for an afternoon hike was amended to a leisurely drive with minimal walking.  Again, wanting to keep a bit of gas money in our pockets so we could get to work all week (always spoiling the fun) our options were a bit limited.  We could drive out to Elbow Falls for the millionth time or we could take a chance and find somewhere new.  We opted to go somewhere new.

I am embarrassed to admit this, but I had never been to the portion of Kananaskis Country straight West of Turner Valley before. I thought the area was comprised solely of pump jacks and ranch lands, the idea that there could be mountains and wild animals and waterfalls tucked in behind the hills didn't even cross my mind.  I wasn't completely off, our travels were briefly halted while cowboys (real ones, on horses and everything)  drove a herd of cattle across the highway. 

We toodled around, turning down every road we came across, just to see what was around there until we finally stopped at the Indian Oils area.  "Let's just take a quick peek down this trail, we won't take long" I said, while strapping on my camera bag. "Look, it's a nice, open, gently graded path, it won't be too hard on your hurt leg" and I convinced  Mikey to hobble away from the comfort of the jeep.

It didn't take long before we reached the Sheep River and I found myself face down, uncomfortably photographing a flower growing out of the rocks "I just want to take some sample pics so I remember to come back when the light is good" I mumbled to Mikey.  An elderly couple slowly meandered by, pointing and laughing at the contorted photographer lying at their feet. I flashed a grin at them, quite conscious of how stupid I looked but not willing to leave the camera in an attempt regain some semblance of dignity.  Meanwhile, Mikey, had taken Creepy-dog up the river in order to distance himself from the weird middle aged lady squirming around the rocks.

After I snapped a few shots, I sprinted and joined Mr. Bastard and Creepy-dog up the river bank some distance away.  Limping, Mikey was ready to go back to the car.  I agreed, but I just had to see what was up ahead around the corner. “ I just want to see if there’s a better vantage point to get a picture of that mountain at sunrise, and then I’ll run right back, I won't even take the camera out”  I said as I took Creepster’s leash and began hopping along the rocks, I looked back to see Mikey hobbling towards us. 

With Mikey already on his way over, it didn’t take long before I had unpacked my camera bag to take a few more “sample shots” beside a cliff, and not long after that I looked up and saw that Mr. Bastard, being unable to resist said cliff, had clambered to the top while Creepy, being too short to join him, lost her mind.

Creepy - too short to get to Dad, looks to Mom for help. Good to know where I stand.
Mikey yelled down  “Hey, you can see the falls really good from up here” Words to inspire action, the camera bag was packed again and I found myself scrambling into the forest and teetering up a steep incline trying not to let the weight of the bag tip me over backwards. I hoisted Creepy dog up to Mikey’s outstretched arms and pulled myself onto the top, belly down in the dirt again.  I looked up just in time to see the elderly couple from earlier sauntering by, looking down at me and chuckling.  (Apparently there is a nice easy trail that normal people take. Unfortunately, we are not normal people)

Mikey was right, the view of the falls was lovely and once again the bag was unpacked. Too tired to make his escape this time, Mikey impatiently rested on a rock as I rolled around in the dirt at his feet.   “Just one more shot, just one more and then we can go” I promised.  I had some rather dark filters on so each shot was quite long. I took three more to be sure. Finally, I packed my bag for the final time, but feeling a bit of separation anxiety, I immediately retrieved my cell phone camera out of a pocket.  “Mikey, let’s get someone to take our picture. Please?” Knowing it was probably the only way to get me out of there, he consented and some passersby agreed to take our picture (and then two more, just to be sure) before we finally made our way home again.  Thanks for being so patient Mikey.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Kananaskis Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/6/may-long---day-three Tue, 02 Jun 2015 19:26:51 GMT
May Long - Day Two https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/may-long---day-2 Sleep.

Glorious sleep.... is what I would have had if Creepy dog hasn't recently learned that when I wake up, she gets breakfast. Needless to say, she has also learned that 10 minutes of pathetic whining, followed by barking and dancing on the bed is a good way to wake me up. 

Awake, and early too. Thanks Creepy.

Having spent the last day driving and pouring my weekly allowance of fun money into my gas tank, I was hesitant to hit the road again.  My alternative option was to tackle the increasing pile of house and yard work and so I compromised and took a quick trip out to the Elbow Falls area just outside of the city.  Sitting around doing nothing makes me a bit antsy, but then again... so do chores.

I have always wanted to find a good way to the bottom of the falls so Creepy Dog and I parked a few kilometers away and started hiking up the river bed.  We didn’t last long.  About 10 minutes later I began to see some rather large paw prints in the mud.  Originally, Creepy dog was brought into our lives to help keep me safe when I’m out in the forest, but now I would do anything in my power to keep her out of harm’s way including bare knuckle boxing a wolf if I have to.   So if looking out for the dog (never mind my own safety) means giving up on a good photo opportunity then so be it. I opted not to find out if the trail of prints lead to someone furry and hungry and we turned around and wandered some trails populated with a few more humans.  The camera stayed in the bag for another time.  It happens.

Proof! Keep in mind the size of my gigantic man-hands.

A few hours later I found myself at home with sunset quickly approaching and a location that I have been itching to revisit on the opposite side of the city.  I left Creepy in the capable and loving arms of her treat dispensing toys, threw my bicycle in the back of my truck and sped up the road.  I arrived at the Glenbow Ranch parking lot just as the sky began to change colour and raced down the hill on my bike. I arrived at the bottom with my hair blown about wildly, sniffling and watery eyed from the wind and bugs peppering my teeth.  Lucky for my sense of vanity, the park was absolutely deserted.  The solitude found so close to the city is something that always surprises me considering it's beauty but for now - I don't mind having it all to myself.  The park is large and I have only begun to explore what it has to offer, sticking to just one single location for now until I get it right. I set up the camera and snapped away while the local Ravens sat in the trees behind me and told me stories.

Glenbow Ranch EveningGlenbow Ranch Evening

Satisfied with what I captured and with a deceptively long hill to climb to get home, I packed up and started pedaling upwards.  By the time I reached the top, I had started mentally berating myself for owning more than a point and shoot camera. The backpack will only get heavier over time, if nothing else, this photography habit will help whip me into shape.   

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Canada Cochrane Landscape Photography Prairie Sunset https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/may-long---day-2 Mon, 25 May 2015 22:43:26 GMT
May Long - Day One https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/may-long It rained.

It rained a lot.

It wouldn't be May Long weekend without a bit of weather....

Friday evening was spent taking in the newest Mad Max movie, not the greatest idea right before bed.  With adrenaline coursing through my veins and visions of my truck welded onto a bigger truck and wielding flame throwers I fell into bed and drifted off while contemplating the pros and cons of a 4x4 vs tank tracks.  I woke up Saturday morning and for the first time in a long time - I had absolutely zero obligations.  With visions of highway dancing in my head, and  Mr. Bastard headed north to live out his own Mad Maxian fantasies (next time you see him, ask him why he's limping and how difficult it is to jump from one moving vehicle to another......)  I packed up my suddenly substandard truck, grabbed Creepy-dog and hit the road.

I had a specific photo in mind that I wanted to make and it required a rather robust flash light, five minutes later and I found myself in the Canadian Tire parking lot with soaking wet feet.  We were off to a good start....

Creepy and I arrived in the Crowsnest Pass shortly after 1 pm and pulled into the parking lot at Lundbreck Falls.   Our first order of business was to immediately get the rest of ourselves soaked with a quick jaunt around the area to scope it out. Wet feet, newly wet clothes, shivering wet dog and a sudden hankering for warm coffee and lunch, we hopped back into the truck and roared towards Blairmore.

Already soaked, I thought nothing of wandering around town for a little bit to give Creepy some exercise, I was delighted to see 6 train engines roll through town, though I decided they wouldn't be nearly as cool in a post apocalyptic Mad Max world.  I stopped in at a local coffee shop for a cup of java and headed back towards a municipal campground to cook up a bit of lunch.  I set up my picnic in a shelter while Creepy investigated every disgusting little thing on the ground.  Hoping to keep her occupied while I ate, some of my stir fry "accidentally" wound up on the ground.  Now when Creepy hears the words "oops" she suddenly pays very close attention to me.  The lunch break didn't warm me up however and soon we were back on the road with the windshield wipers and heater on full blast.

I stopped in at Lundbreck Falls once again, this time armed with a rain suit, boots and an umbrella (Dignity be damned, I need one of those stupid looking umbrella hats).  I left Creepy in the truck and huddled next to the river bank to snap a photo in the time between waves of families pausing occasionally to assist the odd tourist with their vacation cell phone photos.  One tourist even went so far as to apologize to me for the small size of his cell phone camera compared to the 30 pounds of gear I was lugging around.  No need to apologize, the cell phone photos I snapped this weekend outnumber my "real camera" photos by about 10 to 1. Convenience is King.


Cell phone snaps from May Long - Day 1

Lundbreck Falls - Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

After I was satisfied, I rejoined Creepy in the truck and together we headed for Waterton National Park.  I was expecting the same glorious mountainous views as I'm normally greeted with in the area, but instead we were treated to a flat grey cloud that covered the landscape nearly to the ground.  We wandered around the town, had a bite to eat and then I settled in at Cameron Falls to wait for nightfall.  I had a particular vision for this set of falls but as the rain began pouring down harder than before soaking me and my camera gear faster than I could mop the water up, I took a consolation photo, tucked my camera away in it's soggy bag and headed for home. I wasn't too upset though, the falls aren't likely to go anywhere and like most landscape photos - sometimes it takes a couple of visits before everything lines up in real life the way it does in your head.

The drive home was typical of May Long weather, strong winds blew the rain across the highway in horizontal sheets lit up with headlights from the oncoming traffic.  Soon after getting onto the northbound highway, the pouring rain turned into a dizzying pouring snow.  After 12 hours on the road, I was glad to finally be home, dry and tucked into bed. Perhaps Day 2 would be a little more comfortable and successful.


Lundbreck FallsLundbreck Falls



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Crowsnest Pass Landscape Lundbreck Falls Photography Waterton https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/may-long Wed, 20 May 2015 20:15:16 GMT
Press Gang CD Release https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/press-gang-cd-release Gig photography can be immensely fun and rewarding, combining both live music and photography in to a single riotous event  The challenges that arise with capturing the lighting and frenetic movement of the performers all while dodging drunken party goers guarantees to keep every gig interesting. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, once the final guitar has been loaded into the van and after a solid night of sleep, the editing process begins.  Often this means hours of colour correction, small edits and the occasional journey into photoshop on each individual photo.  Unless the lighting at the venue remains constant (which is very rarely the case) batch editing just isn't an option, so after a rowdy night of music, Sunday afternoon rolls around (and usually several evenings after Sunday too) and the routine is to sit on the couch ignoring the sunshine outside and pick apart each image.

At times it can be boring, tedious even frustrating work, as image after image requires similar but slightly different treatments all at the expense of having a life beyond the computer screen.  But sometimes when the energy of the crowd and bands reach a certain threshold the photos become more fun to edit and I look forward to finishing one image so I can dive into the next.  Such was the case of the Press Gang album release, the culmination of nearly a year's worth of hard work by the band.  A great deal of promotion from everyone involved in putting on the show meant a celebratory atmosphere now that the big day had arrived. I was on hand at Dickens Pub to capture the night, it always goes by so much easier when the bands are so damn good.  I really enjoyed seeing Magdalene, Citizen Rage and Craic the Lens bring their own individual styles to the stage and as always, the Press Gang delivered. Here's a few select images from the night, with more to come in this album in the coming days.  I'll also post a link to the Press Gang's youtube channel for you to check out in the next few days as their entertaining new video should be posted soon. DIY done right.  As always - thanks for looking!


I do apologize about the rampant watermarking these days,  I've been finding a lot of uncredited instagram filtered photos of mine pop up lately.  I get annoyed when I work hard to get the colours the way I like them only to find some brown coloured version floating around the interwebs.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Band Calgary Calgary Punk Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/press-gang-cd-release Tue, 12 May 2015 05:24:32 GMT
and lately https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/and-lately I haven't posted in a while, I've been quite busy with life.  Summer has arrived early and the mountains have been calling, I've had a few hiking adventures with friends and have also been volunteering to help organize an upcoming art festival in Calgary.  Fun and games aside, I've also been  working on a few different sets for some band's upcoming albums that I thought I'd share so you know I haven't been neglecting my camera altogether.  

The Press Gang - Album release is May 9, 2015 at Dickens Pub

Class Action - album coming fall of 2015


Jason Hastie & The Alibi - PromoJason Hastie & The Alibi - Promo Jason Hastie & The Alibi - album coming fall 2015

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Band Calgary Metal Photography Photos Promo Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/5/and-lately Sun, 03 May 2015 21:02:40 GMT
Gear Review: Youngnuo 622N TX (Nikon) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/4/gear-review-youngnuo-622n-tx I'd picked up a set of YN622N radio transceivers about two years ago and tried to use them with a master speedlight (SB 700) on camera and another SB700 off camera.  They did work but they were not reliable in the slightest. I hadn't bothered picking them up since the day they failed me at a wedding and I was really disappointed (read: pissed off) with them. They sat on a shelf for 2 years and a few weeks ago I considered selling them and started poking around the internet when I noticed that Youngnuo had come out with a separate radio controller for them (622N-TX).

I sent Mr Bastard on a long weekend rush hour errand run to pick one up before my shoot yesterday. He was not happy, but I was.  (He is too good to me)

Cripes what a difference!

I tested them to see if they'd work the night before the shoot with my flashes in a room on the other side of the house and they seemed to work.  Took them to my photo shoot yesterday and abused the hell out of them shooting fairly steadily for about 7 hours.  We were outdoors in full sun, indoors in cramped attics, getting kicked down a pathway (the lady that did it had a look of complete and utter fear on her face)  dropped repeatedly (never ever buy used gear from me)  and not a single misfire all day.

They're ttl capable and they also support manual modes, a few different groups available and 3 channels to shoot on.  I'm really happy with them (and happy I didn't sell the receivers before I gave them one last chance), especially since the 2 receivers and controller only cost me about $175 altogether. I shoot with Nikon, but from what I've read the Canon versions are even snazzier.

They get a solid thumbs up from me, and I'm so excited to play with them again I might even have to update my head shots soon.  Class Action



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Photography Review Youngnuo https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/4/gear-review-youngnuo-622n-tx Sat, 04 Apr 2015 19:06:05 GMT
I'm Back in the Game! https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/3/im-back-in-the-game Goodbye BlueGoodbye Blue

It's been close to two months since I was able to stand up while holding a camera viewfinder to my face without tipping over like a little teapot.  While I still have trouble with my balance, occasionally stumbling around and giving the impression that I pour vodka on my cornflakes in the morning, as of yesterday morning I'm back in the game!

The game being one that requires me to wake up at 2:45 am.  The game that pushes the limits of my gas tank on a gravel road somewhere South East of Calgary. The game that pits 42 cups of coffee against 1 bladder.  

Why is it that I can drive around the middle of the prairies at 6 am on a Saturday morning and not see another soul for over an hour - but the second I stop to pee, someone drives by?

Ah yes, sunrise on the prairies.  

Thanks to the magical powers of google, I had found a location near Cessford that I put on my to-shoot list this year.  I left the house around 4 am with a couple of highway numbers in my head- hoping that I could find the location in time for sunrise, but not expecting to be successful even finding it, let alone in time.

Somehow, the Google Gods had smiled on me, and I arrived promptly at 7:00 am, minutes before the sun was about to rise.  I put on a second pair of pants, my boots, snow pants, sweater, other sweater, jacket, toque, and gloves, grabbed my tripod and camera bag and walked 6 feet to a barbed wire fence.  Put down the tripod, the camera bag and then stared at the fence with the age old dilemma:  Over or Under.

Morning LightMorning Light

I chose under and with my puffy un-bendable layers of clothing- managed to weasle my way through like I was Angelina Jolie dodging laser beams - except 300 pounds heavier and with the same grace as ....  Okay, fine, I looked like a flailing walrus but at least I made it through without any clothing casualties.

I set up the tripod just as a speck of sunlight peeked over the horizon and began quickly rising.  It didn't take long before I abandoned the tripod and spent the next 20 minutes capturing as many compositions as I could. Darting from one side of the ruins to the other chasing the sun through the window frames.

I had my 11-16mm lens on, and after I had grabbed the compositions I wanted, I thought about switching to a longer focal length to get some variety, but the sun rise happened so fast, I didn't dare take the split second to change lenses for fear of missing something important.  A perfect reason to go back another day.



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Abandoned Alberta Landscape Photography Prairies Ruins Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/3/im-back-in-the-game Sun, 01 Mar 2015 17:48:21 GMT
Exposure Festival 2015 https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/2/exposure-festival-2015 Last Friday marked the opening of my Exposure Festival exhibition at Verns in Calgary, my first time in a solo show. It's a large collection of photos I've taken at punk gigs over the last few years of the musicians, fans and venue owners.   The opening night went fantastic with performances by Evan Symons, Franky Frog Liquor, Nevertime High and the Bloody Hells.  We had close to 160 people come through the door over the course of the evening and I've been told that people have been trickling in ever since then.  The majority of viewers are members of the music community and they have given me some wonderful feedback, stating the photos are definitely a nostalgic trip for them as I had hoped they would be. As always, but perhaps now more than ever, I am extremely grateful for their continued support. So to those of you who came to the opening or even just stopped by on your way to another show - thank you.

The space- our beloved basement venue, has hosted bands, burlesque troops, poets and even the occasional theatre troop, over the course of it's existence.  I played my very first show ever with The Rigormorticians on it's weathered stage.  While perfect for the content of the photos, it wasn't exactly ideal for a photo show with comically uneven walls (dart boards) and poor lighting.  After several failed attempts to hang some large pieces of foam core (4 ft x 4 ft) from the ceiling, I eventually had to concede defeat and by the end of day 2 after receiving yet another message from  a friend informing me that the display was all over the floor, I resorted to an emergency plan and used a bit of spare lumber to prop the displays up.   It's not the prettiest looking way of holding photos up, and there's more duct tape behind those white boards than I care to admit, but I just keep telling myself that it all adds to the Do It Yourself punk attitude and authenticity of the display.

Despite all this, my new friend Martin Aak still had this to say:

"If you're downtown in the next few days, I recommend that you take some time to visit Verns Bar on 8th Ave across from the Globe Cinema to view this exhibition by photographer Llisa Bastard.  She's done excellent work here to document musicians in Calgary, many in live performance! Her ability to use existing light and approach to composition to capture the "live" action is outstanding!"
To round off your visit, Vern's has Calgary's Village Brewery on tap and they buy their produce fresh at the Farmer's Market, so it would make a good lunch destination I would suggest to you"

(I can put that here without feeling like a self involved asshole because I'm not the one who wrote it)


So swing by Verns (622 8 Ave SW Calgary) and check it out if you get the chance, let me know what you think, and please - don't look behind the boards.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Exposure Festival Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/2/exposure-festival-2015 Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:52:58 GMT
Dawn on 30 https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/2/dawn-on-30 I recently celebrated my 30th birthday a few weeks back and months before Mr. Bastard had booked a weekend stay in a cabin nestled underneath the impressive Castle Mountain in Banff National Park to celebrate.  The plan that he would hunker down in the cabin and let me have a weekend with my camera was a pretty sweet one and I was looking forward to. It was a good idea in theory, but a few weeks back I was in the throes of some rather hilarious but life interrupting vestibular issues which led to some compromises from both of us.  

I think deep down Mikey already knew the answer when he asked what I wanted to do on Saturday morning.  He was probably hoping that because I couldn't walk in a straight line to save my life, or sit in a car without feeling like I was piloting a space ship, that I would be happy to stay close to the cabin, but that's never the case when my camera is close by.  I decided to take the 2 hour head start afforded to us by staying the night outside of the city, to go just a little bit further into the mountains for sunrise than I can normally make it.  Because it was my birthday, and I couldn't drive, Mikey got to wake up at 4am to chauffeur me through freezing rain and snow to Waterfowl Lake to make sure the sun came up. (Lucky him!) The sun indeed rose as it said it would and I clumsily photographed  the mountains while trying my best not to tip over sideways, relying on the tripod for balance. 


Morning Before ThirtyMorning Before Thirty

The next morning, there was no convincing Mr. Bastard to ruin a perfectly good Sunday morning by waking up earlier than we're known to go to sleep on the weekends and tackling another sunrise scene, so I decided I would walk down the road from the cabins to an old standby location.  The river next to the highway and under Castle Mountain has proven to be a good location time and again for many a photographer, and it was the best that I would be able to reach that morning.  The proximity to the cabins was a real treat as I woke up, showered, cooked myself some breakfast and bundled up with plenty of time to spare. 

I stumbled and staggered and swayed and swaggered my way down the road, crashing into snowbanks and giggling at the irrational footprints I left in the snow. I made it to the river, surprised to see the ice and snow had significantly melted over the last day, and plunked myself down on a bit of ice and waited for the sun to arrive.  Rain gently fell out of the sky and the ice that was piled up on the banks of the Bow slowly melted out from underneath me leaving me kneeling in a steadily flowing stream melt water.  It was a nice quiet morning and I was happy to begin the next decade of my life so peacefully.  I had the place all to myself for a few hours, but by 9 am I was freezing cold, soaking wet and it would soon be time to check out of the cabin.  Later, I grinned as we drove away at noon, and saw the crowd of photographers in the same location I'd had to myself all morning. They had all missed the best part of the show. 

Morning Of ThirtyMorning Of Thirty


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Photography Sunrise Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/2/dawn-on-30 Thu, 12 Feb 2015 02:47:46 GMT
Vertigo https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/1/vertigo I have mysteriously come down with a case of vertigo this past week.  Attempts to to bring a camera to my face have so far led to me tipping over sideways like a little tea pot - comical, yes, but not conducive to  good picture taking. My plan for an early morning shoot East of the city has been postponed until I can drive again without feeling like I'm in a spaceship and any photo editing (a poor consolation prize if you ask me) has to be done in tiny little increments.

I thought it would be a fitting time to show some of my series of impressionism photos. It's at least a semi-productive way to bide my gravol ridden time while I wait for this little episode to clear up. (I'm trying not to be a whiny little brat about it, I'm just sour because I've lost a good portion of my independence)

A number of these photos were shown in the 2013 Exposure Photography Festival at Dickens Pub. They were achieved with various techniques - panning with slow shutter speed, jogging, throwing the camera in the air and vaseline over the lens (on a 99 cent UV filter, for the love of photos - don't put the  vaseline directly on the lens!)  It's a really easy and fun way to take a new  approach to the same old scenes.

In FlightIn Flight


Change of SeasonsChange of Seasons


Prince's IslandPrince's Island


The Fog Hangs Low in the ValleyThe Fog Hangs Low in the Valley



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Impressionism Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/1/vertigo Mon, 19 Jan 2015 23:04:03 GMT
Print Draw https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/1/print-draw Oops, I forgot to mention here, I'll be giving away a 12x18 print to one lucky winner over on my facebook page for my birthday.  Yes, my birthday and you get presents- steal of a deal.    

The contest draw will be January 25

Between Rock and a Hard PlaceBetween Rock and a Hard Place

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Landscape Photography Prints https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/1/print-draw Thu, 15 Jan 2015 03:12:21 GMT
New Year https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/1/new-year New Year's Eve came and went leaving me feeling like I'd run a marathon while playing Jeopardy.  Physically, mentally drained and happy as can be.

The day started off with a pre-dawn walk around Glenbow ranch.  After two 3:30 am wake up calls for mountain trips the previous days, I was not looking forward to another early morning.  A quick check of my weather sites while laying in my comfy bed convinced me otherwise - partly cloudy, low ceiling and a good strong wind.  The near perfect conditions had my feet touching the cold bedroom floor before I had time to protest.

I had the entire park to myself as I set up my tripod around the old Glenbow Store at first light.  A chinook wind was threatening to blow through the valley, but it wasn't trying hard enough, by the end of my walk I was shivering and my water bottle was frozen shut.  The sunrise  over the city was beautiful enough to provoke a text from Mr. Bastard making sure I had made it out of bed for the occasion.  I haven't had time to fully review the mornings captures but at first glance, I'm not entirely happy with how my own photos turned out. They're missing that "something" still so I'll have to keep exploring the area and visiting until I get it right.

I can't be upset about the early morning wake up, a location has to have it's first photo run through and they can't all be wildly successful.  It would have been nice with a few more hours of sleep though, because a few hours later I was host to a few friends at my place and soon we were off to the Stetson for a 10 band New Year's Eve show. The culmination of the Calgary Beer Core's Punk vs Metal tournament (props to Thrashadactyl who won this years competition)

I can only compare the amount of physical and mental exertion of shooting a 10 band bill to shooting a wedding in high speed.  Bands are on and off the stage within 25 minutes leaving little time to get the required shots for each act. Especially since I try hard not to impose on the band or the fans experience, it ends up being a lot of crouching and sneaking through the crowd trying not to be a giant douchebag with a camera.  Operative word is try, as it's sometimes difficult to be discreet. 

By the end of the night, I had turned into a roving portrait photographer capturing groups and couples in their blissful states as well as the usual slough of incriminating photos that come with the territory. One friend even remarked how impressed she was at my ability to make people look good, and refrain from posting the embarrassing photos publicly. I may not be able to exercise self restraint around a Havarti cheese sandwich, but I can bring myself to hit the Delete button.

As the clock struck 12, I found myself balanced on top of a PA system trying to catch some of the celebratory action, completely forgetting about the tradition of kissing someone at midnight (read: Husband-guy)  I can officially say that I rang in 2015 with my camera.  Oops - sorry Mikey!

Here's a few photos from the night. If you enjoy seeing these, make sure to come to my exhibition at Verns (622 8 St SW Calgary) for this year's Exposure Photography Festival.  My show runs February 20 - 28.  The opening night will feature some great bands and joyful hugs from yours truly.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Failure Metal Photography Punk Sunrise Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2015/1/new-year Wed, 14 Jan 2015 17:05:39 GMT
The Highs and Lows of 2014 https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/2014-review Ok, I have a blog therefore I'm obligated to do a year in review post, is that how it works?

2014 was a strange one, photographically speaking it was full of a lot of highs and I'm happy that it has been my most successful year yet (though I intend to say that of every year), but personally,  it was a challenging year and I'm very happy it's nearly over. I'll let you know about the crappy parts of 2014 - but I'll keep the downers to a minimum, that's not why the internet was invented:

A few weeks after bringing her home, our new puppy was attacked by wild dogs while I was on a sunrise photo shoot.  It happened right before our 3 week European vacation setting us back a large chunk of cash, though without the amazing generosity of some good friends (and strangers) we would have had to cancel our trip altogether.  Creepy recovered fairly well aside from some behaviour issues that continue to improve over time. The attack on the poor pup scared the hell out of me and it has been a long road to even be able to leave the safety of my vehicle for those sunrise photos I love so much. I have managed to gather the courage to leave my truck by myself exactly one time since the end of May, though I'm determined there will be more. 

Shortly after Creepy's attack every appliance in the house broke at the same time and then at the end of summer our neighbour started a 2 alarm fire and nearly burnt down both of our houses.  It was, as one friend pointed out "A very grown up thing to have to deal with"  When the tree between our houses lit on fire, priorities were  surprisingly very straight: Evacuate beloved Roommate, Capture terrified little Dog, Grab Photos. I attempted to find my Grandfather's banjo but I had, in my super quick thinking as the power lines lit on fire, shut off the breaker box a bit prematurely and couldn't find the banjo in the dark.  Fortunately, the damage to the houses was minimal and only our wallets and insurance ratings suffered along with some stuff. Just stuff.


A photo posted by Llisa Bastard (@llisabastard) on

This past autumn also marked the end of both of my bands, one petered out naturally and The Rigormorticians went out with a bang with the release of our final album.  I'm sad to see it go as I credited The Rigors with a large portion of my identity and feel as if a part of my "self" is missing now. I am adjusting, though I'm quite looking forward to playing bass in new projects when they arise, especially ones that don't require dealing with the multitude of annoyances that come with being covered in fake blood, even if it's minty fresh flavoured.


The Rigormorticians - Album CoverThe Rigormorticians - Album Cover

Fortunately, through all this I had photography as a constant passion to distract me, motivate me to better myself and challenge me to face my fears. Plus, now that I find myself with a lot more free time, it keeps me busier than ever and I'm excited to see what the new year brings.  So without any further woe is me self indulgent BS, on to the happy year in review stuff!



On the photo side, and the brighter side, 2014 was a lot better looking. I was a top 10 contender in the Alberta Emerging Photographer contest (for the under 30's). I've been told that I had one of my photos on a billboard though I never did get to see it in person.  

Through the ReedsThrough the Reeds


I put together another successful Sixth Degree Collective exhibition for the Exposure Photography Festival, this time on my front lawn. I stuffed about 80 people in my house for the opening party and then stuffed the guests full of chocolate chip cookies while musicians kept tunes flowing out of my basement.   I was even asked to speak a bit about my own photos in the exhibit at a small gathering put on by the Exposure Fest. I did speak. The words were coherent.  Some people even laughed at my jokes -always a bonus when they laugh with you.


A big plus for 2014. (Really, I'm not being facetious) I bought some rubber boots. Finally! (How sad has my life become that an $11 pair of ugly rubber boots makes a year in review post)  I still have a tendency to overstep my boundaries - with the boots - and wind up with soaking wet feet, but I'm learning.  They really do open up new possibilities for photos, not that the lack of boot ever stopped me before, but at least I'm more comfortable now and less likely to get hypothermia.  Now if I could only find some gloves that I don't immediately rip off when I'm trying to work I'd be set.



I added an 11-16mm 2.8 Tokina lens to my arsenal this year, a lens that I don't know how I lived without for so long.  She's pretty, she's beastly and she's a lot of fun regardless of the situation - landscape or punk rock shows. I have managed to keep the gear acquisition syndrome to a dull roar, and I only buy items once I simply can't go on without them, but I had my eye on this one for a while and I was thrilled to see it in my camera bag at last.



A definite highlight of my year was living out my dream of showing my camera around Iceland.  I was also able to add a much needed visit to my family in Denmark to the trip as well.  I left my heart buried in the black sand beaches on the southern coast of Iceland and I can't wait to go back.  I have been slowly editing photos from the trip and adding them to my Iceland gallery, there are prints available if you're so inclined. 

Vik SpiresVik Spires


I also ramped up my work with the Calgary Beer Core, taking over their Instagram account and managing to attend a good number of punk/metal shows in the City. I do love a good rowdy gig and there were plenty to choose from this year.  I had an impromptu collection of photos turned into a collage for the annual awards show this year which planted an idea in my head.  The ongoing photos of the punk and metal community over the last several years has provided me with enough material to put on a solo DIY show, so I let my mouth do some talking before my brain could convince me otherwise. The show will be at Verns for the next Exposure Photography Festival in February (but that's 2015 year in review stuff)


The biggest joy this year though has been the introduction of our pup Creepy Bastard, making our little family feel complete. So from our family to yours, have a safe and joyous holiday season and a here's to a great 2015.  See you next year! 

The BastardsThe Bastards


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Landscape Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/2014-review Tue, 23 Dec 2014 17:05:58 GMT
The Weekend That Wasn't https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/the-weekend-that-wasnt I had grand plans this weekend.

Plans of adventure, of location scouting, photos of sunsets, sunrises and everything in between.  Long exposures and longer drives. Coffee stops, roadside naps. The works.

So what happened?  

Day 1 started early, too early.  My alarm rang at 3:30 am and I found myself awake, lying paralyzed in my bed for a few moments while my body was briefed on my brains plans for the day. Reluctantly, my body agreed to the plans and I regained the feeling in my face and tongue. That was weird.

I hit the road with Creepy-dog, headed south towards the Crowsnest pass. I haven't spent serious photography time down there yet, so I had planned to stick to the cliche easy spots for sunrise and then scout around for the afternoon.  The rain was drizzling lightly as I was leaving Calgary, and though the forecast called for freezing rain and flurries, it only fueled my motivation to see some interesting light.

I made it South West of Nanton before the weather changed for the worse,  freezing drizzle had slowly turned into freezing downpour, and then shortly after that, blizzard.  Snow flew sideways across the highway and quickly covered the tracks of the truck ahead of me.  I pulled over to check the weather, but without cell service I couldn't see how big the storm was. I opted to keep going, but a few more minutes down the road I started thinking like a responsible adult (ew. gross) I reasoned that at the speed I was going, I was going to miss the sunrise, and at the rate the snow and wind were flying, there was a solid chance I wouldn't be able to make it back home again. 

I turned around, one of very few times in my life I have.  I must be getting old.

I managed to make it to a new location before sunrise, The Okotoks Big Rock, but nothing exciting happened.  I had some breakfast, Creepy had some breakfast, it rained, I got wet and the sun lazily decided it didn't feel like making an appearance. (Jerk)  The rock also did nothing, but I suppose that's the point. 

I went home. Feeling deflated, but still determined to make something of my weekend. 


Day 2 came with a slightly longer sleep, a better packed camera bag and a brand new plan.  The Glenbow Ranch on the outskirts of the city at dawn. It was a good plan.   This time I was joined by Creepy-dog and even the elusive Mr. Bastard.  We arrived early and set out on the trails towards the river, down the hill.  Freezing cold Creepy trotted along the path evoking many "D'aaaawwwwws" from us due to her stylish winter boots and sweater.   After a short walk, my goal came into view and with time to spare to scout a good angle from which to shoot.  I plopped down the tripod, ripped off the headlamp, threw the gloves on the ground, wriggled off the camera backpack and set to work.  

On the camera went and the dazzling LCD screen lit up..... -E-


I'd left the memory cards at home in the other camera bag.

I have absolutely nothing to show for this weekend besides some hastily written notes on the back of my hand, and significantly less gas in my tank than when I started. So here's a photo of a time when things actually worked in my favour.  I'll have to keep trying to get the shots I was after in the meantime.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Failure Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/the-weekend-that-wasnt Sun, 14 Dec 2014 17:44:08 GMT
I am the Walrus or ... Tripod Induced Yoga https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/tripod-induced-yoga A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hanging out at Two Jack Lake in Banff NP for a sunrise.  When I arrived I had the place to myself, but a few other photographers showed up shortly after.  

The lake had started to freeze over and the ice was making incredible noises.  It sounded like spaceships having a laser gun battle IN SPACE! (space space space space) I was hoping I would be able to time my trip to see some frost flowers, and while there were a few clinging to the surface of the ice, they weren't as prominent as I'd hoped they would be.  I did find a rock poking through the ice near the lake shore and decided that would be a much better photo instead.

But there was a problem.

Because the bank of the lake was so close to the rock, I couldn't get my tripod set up low enough. I knew there had to be a way to flip the tripod head around, and I sat down on the bank struggling with the tripod for several minutes while the light continued to get better and better. Meanwhile, the other photographers near by scampered about taking advantage of the reddening sky.  Nervously, I glanced at the other photographers, making sure they hadn't noticed my fumbling about. I wouldn't want to attract attention myself and seem like I don't know what I'm doing.

Finally, I gave up and tried to hand hold the camera, and then things got weird.  Clad in a puffy jacket and snow pants, with my toque falling down over my eyes, I did my best contortionist impression. As someone who has never been able to touch their toes, it was a bit of an ordeal.  Stretching and bending, slipping and falling.  Lying down on the ice, feet kicking out randomly as their tenuous grip on the ice faltered.  At one point I even attempted a belly slide, but if the space was too small to set up a tripod, it was certainly too small for me. Fortunately, the photographers near by averted their eyes during the episode, and most importantly, their cameras pointed away from me so as far as I'm aware, there is no pictorial evidence.  Perhaps it was just as embarrassing for them as it was for me.  On the bright side, I now have a whole new level of respect for the Walrus. They may not be the most graceful creature on the planet, but on that day, they put me to shame.

After giving up hand holding the camera, I eventually found a way to get my tripod to work, it was not ideal, but at that point, it would have to do.


Crack of DawnCrack of Dawn


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Failure Landscape Photography Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/tripod-induced-yoga Tue, 09 Dec 2014 06:47:09 GMT
Textures https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/textures During the whirlwind trip in Iceland, we adhered to a tight schedule.  We studied a map with our drinks every evening, carefully highlighting things to see and do the next day.  By 8 am we were awake, showered, fed and on the road, motoring to the next spot on the map.  However, our schedule was never quite right as there are more than enough distractions along the highway.  One thing I really liked about Iceland was the variety of textures and colours I saw.  Layers of moss and snow, rock and brightly coloured soil and even steam dotted the landscape.  Every so often on our trip around the country, I'd come to a screeching halt in the middle of nowhere and hop out of the car to grab a shot of seemingly nothing - much to the bewilderment of my passengers. 

One day, after spending a few hours tediously passing car after car puttering along the highway in the Northern mountains we arrived at a summit and pulled in to a parking lot to have a peek around.  The light dappled the valley below and I grabbed my telephoto lens and began snapping a few pictures.   One by one, the cars that we had worked so hard to pass began to pull in to the lot, and families began hopping out of their cars for quick family snapshots and then making their way back to their cars.

My Dad and Mr. Bastard looked at me with panic in their eyes, they knew that I could photograph a scene for hours if given the chance but I immediately knew what they were thinking. If we don't leave now, all these cars that we worked so hard to pass will be in front of us again, and we'll have to cut at least one stop out this afternoon.  The three of us rushed back to our vehicle, Dad and Mr. Bastard ran and slid across the hood of the car and climbed into the front yelling at me to hurry up.  I did a triple salchow over a senior citizen and stowed away the pile of camera gear into the cargo area.  The team of NASCAR pit stop dudes re-fueled the car.  Zzziiiiip ziiip went the drills as new, faster tires were placed on the car (do they use drills to change the tires? For the purposes of this post let's just say they do) "Let's Go! Let's Go" I yelled as I dove in to the back seat head first. The dozens of tourists, clad in their baseball caps and holding pitchers of beer cheered us on as we successfully made it out of the parking lot first and on to the next stop.

Iceland Texture IIIIceland Texture III

Iceland Texture IIIceland Texture II Iceland Texture IIceland Texture I   Iceland Texture IVIceland Texture IV

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Iceland Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/12/textures Mon, 01 Dec 2014 22:23:32 GMT
Patience https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/11/patience I don't think I would describe myself as a patient person.  I get annoyed in slow traffic. I try to finish people's sentences. I can't sit still through a movie. Photography is the one thing that might be able to bring out my inner patient person. My inner patient person probably thinks before she speaks and wears hand knit cardigans like Mr. Rogers did.  

After my last trip to Berlin in 2008, and a very rushed and crowded visit to the Brandenburg Gate, I knew that I wanted to photograph the structure at night. That was my goal while we were in Berlin and it took several attempts to achieve it.

The first visit on this particular trip, was 800 degrees C and the place was crawling with tourists... but most importantly it was the middle of the day. The middle of the day, I deduced, is a bad time to try and get night time photos so we continued on our walking tour instead. 

The next day with the help of my Aunt, Mikey and I had gained our bearings around the city and could successfully find the following:

The train station
The bus stop
The record store (because big cities only ever have one right?)

Brandenburg gate 
Our hotel
Several convenience stores from which to procure cheap beer

That was all we needed and we were off. After wandering around all day gathering new music and reveling in the old (we visited the Ramones Museum - so cool!) we finally made it to the gate around dusk. Mikey patiently loitered around, amusing himself by sneaking his way into random tourist group photos while I composed a few photographs, trying to use long exposures to blur out the same tourists.  I had a few photos that I thought I could work with, and we continued on with our evening of walking (so much walking)   

Once we were completely exhausted from walking, legs sore, feet aching and blistered, shoes falling apart at the seams, we began tracing our steps back. Not exactly well planned on our part, but we hobbled until we reached the bus stop.   We hopped on the next bus and soon found ourselves....somewhere unfamiliar.  I think it might have been Potsdamer Platz, I'm not 100% sure, but it was a very pretty and colourful place to be lost and so I set up my tripod, dug out my camera, and composed a few shots.  Lost in my own head, I'm not sure what Mikey was doing while I photographed the scene, but I'm assuming he acted responsibly and consulted a map. 

We didn't want to risk taking the bus again...so we retraced the bus route on foot (terrible idea, I still have scars from the blisters) and found ourselves at the Brandenburg gate again. By that time, the square had emptied considerably and I found a place to quickly grab one final shot.  Well.... a few more after that just for insurance. When you're thousands of miles from home, it never hurts to take a few extra just in case.  I like to think that photography makes me a more patient person, but it's more likely that I'm just terribly stubborn and Mikey is the true patient one.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Berlin City Night Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/11/patience Wed, 05 Nov 2014 02:24:54 GMT
3 AM https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/11/3-am Just below the arctic circle where the sun stays up all night, I too was in the midst of a sleepless night.  The brand new hotel we were in smelled weird, the beds stiff and the thousands of flies outside kept us from opening the window to let in some cool air.  I'd even skipped our nightly tradition of enjoying a drink on whatever patio we could find because the bugs wouldn't leave me alone. It  certainly wasn't the finest evening of our trip.

Sometime around 3 am, after a few hours of tossing and turning, something must have spoke to all three of us.  Mikey woke up, and when Mikey woke up I decided to get out of bed to look out the window and see what was happening in the stark landscape outside.  Unbeknownst to me, my Dad in his own room had woken up as well, and was currently videotaping out his window.  When I pulled back the curtains, I was flabbergasted.  The sky was lit up in a near neon array of pink and orange and golden hues. I had the sense of mind to call Mikey to the window, and by the time he saw why and asked "Are you going now?" I already had a pair of soggy shoes on my feet. 

Used to the quick sunrises in Canada, I grabbed my camera with the telephoto lens still attached to it  from the day before and sprinted out the door. I didn't think to grab anything else.  I ran past the confused looking desk attendant, out the door and then ran away from the parking lot towards the lake across the highway.  I stopped short when I reached the electric fence.  It was meant to keep in the sheep, but it did a fine job of keeping me close to the hotel. I knew the sun rose in Iceland, I just didn't expect to see one for myself at that time of year, and I didn't expect that it would be electrifying in so many different ways.

Not wanting to waste any time finding the end of the fence, I began frantically looking for a composition, no easy feat with the long lens and lack of tripod. I wasn't having much success, and the adrenaline and sleep deprivation clouding my brain were not much help either.  

Outtake from Lake MyvatnOuttake from Lake Myvatn

I crawled. I slithered. I ate a bit of fine Icelandic dirt. I bum scooted.  My pajamas coated with a layer of dust and probably more than a few smears of sheep manure and I found what I was looking for.  

Unlike the sunrises I was used to seeing, the sunrise that morning lasted longer than I did.  Exhausted, I went back to the hotel and crawled into bed and the sun didn't sleep, and neither did I, but I was smiling.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Iceland Lake Myatn Photography Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/11/3-am Sat, 01 Nov 2014 18:39:33 GMT
Not A Shipwreck https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/10/not-a-shipwreck With nearly 5000 km of coastline in Iceland, how hard could it possibly be to find a shipwreck?  According to the googles, harder than I thought, but what my search turned up was just as interesting and far easier to reach.

The directions, granted, were akin to finding the great valley in the Land Before Time but instead of going past the rock that looks like a long neck, we were to go past a waterfall and then turn right into the farmers field and follow the "road" until we found what we were looking for.  The road was just a set of reflective markers in a seemingly endless field of black gravel and sand, potholed and twisting unnecessarily through the stark landscape.

Suddenly, we came around a bend into a little valley and it was there in front of us. The wreckage from a US Naval plane crash, left on the beach since 1973. 

I hopped out of the rental car and then chased my Dad out of the range of view before he parked the car.  Back up Dad, no, not that way, no, not that way either what if I want to shoot from that direction too? Back up farther....farther... keep going....  Finally the car was tucked safely out of sight and my Dad begrudgingly made the long trek back into view, on foot this time while I motored around taking pictures like a squirrel on some kind of methamphetamine laced peanut butter. 

The wreckage is not a tourist attraction so we had the entire place to ourselves, which was for the best as I had my hands full chasing Mikey out of the plane, and then chasing my Dad out, and then chasing the both of them away again and again. They were all too eager to crawl around inside, poke around outside and busy themselves exploring the wreckage while I busied myself with the camera.  

My Dad peering out of the Wreckage

Despite all the amazing natural sights to see in Iceland, this was the one place I had on my list of "must see" when we visited Iceland and I was sure happy we made it.  Even Mikey and Dad admitted that the photo-related detour I made them take was actually cool for once. 

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Iceland Photography Plane Crash https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/10/not-a-shipwreck Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:42:14 GMT
The Beach That Stole My Heart https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/10/the-beach-that-stole-my-heart Iceland.

I made it to Iceland.

We made it to the Vik area early, and spent the afternoon exploring the Dyrholaey peninsula and when I say exploring, I mean putting our feet in every nook and cranny we discovered.  Mikey and I spent several hours bounding up the cliff, down to the ocean, up the cliff again, over to the other side of the cliff, down to the ocean.  A puffin on those cliffs over there, a seal in the water over there, look at the waves in this spot and on and on.

After Dyrholaey had no stone left without inspection, we ventured a few minutes up the road closer to Vik and Mikey and I ran up the beach again. We were treated to basalt columns, caves and pounding waves.  Mikey scrambled through a little tunnel in between waves and after a bit of convincing, I followed and was treated to a different view of the famous Vik spires.  I credit Mikey for talking me in to taking a slight risk going through the tunnel,  it's one thing to get swept away to sea, but it's another thing entirely to ruin a perfectly good set of camera equipment in the process.

The next morning I woke up early and trotted away from the cozy little cabins we were staying in and into the fog. I stopped at a gas station for some coffee and learned that it was free. Free! A rarity in Iceland as far as I could tell.  With a smile on my face I made my way through the black sand, closer to the spires.  I had been envisioning a photo of my bright yellow Rubber Duck against the black sand for months, and the conditions were absolutely perfect that morning.  The combination of the black sand and fog made the scene before me moody and mysterious.  The town still save for the crashing waves at my feet. 

I set my coffee down in the sand a respectable distance to the water and then proceeded to play wave roulette with my last pair of dry pants and shoes.  I lost. Several times.  It was worth every second to have those introspective hours by the water in the quiet morning. I left a big part of my heart buried in the black sand beach outside the sleepy town of Vik and I intend to go back and retrieve it as soon as I'm able.




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Iceland Photography Vik Vik Spires https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/10/the-beach-that-stole-my-heart Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:37:20 GMT
Summer Awaits https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/7/summer-awaits I have been a bad blogger.  I'm still around and I have lots of fun stories to tell of punk rock folk singers, Akavit shots, CD Release parties, Recording albums and mountain adventures.  But with a nice long trip to Iceland & Denmark around the corner (I'm beyond excited) and a ton of editing to catch up on before I leave, the stories will have to wait until I return.

Have a wonderful summer friends, I'll be out enjoying all the sunshine while it lasts. There will be plenty of time for blogging when it's cold.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/7/summer-awaits Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:05:36 GMT
One Year Later https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/6/one-year-later One year ago, I was underneath a bridge by the Calgary Stampede grounds, photographing the river which had been steadily rising throughout the day.  The water was moving fast and nearing the top of the banks, but it didn't look too bad. There was talk of flooding, but I paid no attention to it, even if it did flood, it probably wouldn't be catastrophic. That kind of thing doesn't happen here.

A quick check on facebook revealed a different story, as a friend and fellow band mate who lived near by had a status update about being evacuated. Weird, I thought, but knowing that she does not drive, I called her up to ask if she needed a ride.  She said yes, and within 10 minutes I was in her apartment staring at a very bewildered and panicked young woman.  She was standing still in the middle of her living room, wildly looking around her saying "What am I supposed to do?"   We gathered up some essentials for both her and her cat, tucked away her valuables and set off to some friends to house her and her cat in the very north part of the city. It was when we were driving over the Bow river near Bowness park, with the emergency broadcast system blaring on in the background, that the seriousness of the situation began to set in.  The park was already under water and with the river estimated to continue rising for another 12 hours I decided that I would have to document as much as I could.  Armed with a camera and a rubber duck, these are some of the photos I captured over the next 48 hours.

I know this isn't the greatest photo, hand held with a long shutter speed while furiously battling mosquitoes, but the power of the river behind them really shows.  Within a few minutes of them passing by, the path was under water.


Working through the night to build a berm

A crowd gathers on top of the hill to watch the river. 

5 am June 21, the City is eerily silent. 

Lake living.

5 am June 21, city workers gather to see how the berm they spent the night building holds up.


Centre Street bridge.

A family in Bowness left new teddy bears for the kids who may have lost theirs.  The writing in the window says I <3 Bowness


Today, many Southern Albertans are still dealing with the damage, and there are still families unable to return to their homes. 


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Flood YYC https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/6/one-year-later Sat, 21 Jun 2014 23:25:47 GMT
Authority Zero https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/6/authority-zero I'll be perfectly honest with you, until the last time the Calgary Beer Core brought in Authority Zero to play a show last autumn, I'd never even heard of the group.  Evidently I had been living under a rock, judging by the size and frenetic energy of the crowd that showed up to see them play.  I was pleasantly surprised not only by the energy of the crowd but the band itself, so when the Beer Core brought the group in again last month, I was really looking forward to photographing the event once again.

The entire evening did not disappoint with local heavy-weights Black Earth, The Press Gang  & Torches to Triggers opening the night, but the show really got started once Authority Zero took the stage, bringing everyone to the front of the room for a solid hour and a half of music.  Everyone from the youngest punks to the sweetest elderly lady, who out-danced and out-smiled everyone in the room and put us all to shame.

I have been slowly dialing in my Tamron 11-16mm 2.8 lens, and while it's not quite adjusted the way I would like yet, it's sure fun to play with at gigs.  I shot the entire evening with my current trifecta including the new Tamron, my trusty go-to Nikon 35mm 1.8 and the 55-200 mm 3.5-5.6, which handles surprisingly well at gigs.

Here's a few of my favourite shots from the evening.



The full gallery can be viewed here

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Authority Zero Calgary Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/6/authority-zero Fri, 06 Jun 2014 01:03:12 GMT
Superstitions are stupid.... maybe https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/creepy-dog Some of you might remember the Moosehole story last year, and the odd dream leading up to it. I dreamed that I had a little Fox mocking me while I floundered in the water and drenched my camera at my chosen location. That morning as I was driving to the location I had a coyote (very similar to a fox) trotting along on the road ahead of me for quite a distance, and I took that as a sign to stay out of the water. What ended up happening, is not a wet camera, but a very close call with a moose instead (who are big mean bullies who will trample you for the hell of it) Luckily I got away unscathed, but it scarred me a bit and I got a little doggy companion to join me on my adventures and warn me of mooseholes in the future.

Well, this morning I was set to go on another sunrise shoot, and last night I dreamed of running into a grizzly bear in the brush at my chosen destination. Just like last time, I took that as an omen and went to a location that had no brush, it was a field right near two highways, ample room to spot a bear in time. As I was leaving the city, once again a coyote crossed my path, this one with a dead rabbit in its mouth, and though I remembered the last time that happened, I didn't pay much attention since clearly, I do not believe in superstitions (though my Native friend has suggested I may have found my spirit animal)

Long story short, I didn't get too many photos this morning, little Creepy-dog spotted another dog to play with and bolted, yanking the leash away from me. That big dog ran away from her for a bit, farther away from me, and before I knew it, there were four big dogs viciously attacking Creepy. I ran towards the dogs but with nothing to protect myself or stop them, I turned back, ran to the truck and grabbed my air horn. The horn did nothing to deter the dogs, so I sprinted back to my bag and then back to the truck, trying desperately to get my bear spray off it's hook. I couldn't (note to self, that system doesn't work in a panic) so I drove as close to the mauling dogs as I could and laid on my truck horn. That didn't stop them either, and I thought that would be the end of Creepy. 

Somehow, she survived the mauling, broke loose and got back into my truck and we sped (oh, and how) on my horribly bald tires back to the city.

She's currently in surgery now, lots of bad bites and possibly some internal damage but the Surgeon has been called in and we're waiting for word back on how she does later this afternoon.

So, keep this little Bastard family in your thoughts today, none of us are doing too well at the moment. 

And next time a coyote crosses my path on the way to a photo shoot, I think I'll just become superstitious no matter how stupid I may feel about it, turn around and go back to bed.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/creepy-dog Sat, 31 May 2014 17:58:28 GMT
Lucky Ones https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/lucky-ones There's something to be said about being known for having a camera attached to may face (Doctor says it's benign, don't worry) when it affords me opportunities to witness something not many get the chance to.  This was the case when Jenna and Sean asked me to photograph their wedding day, being one of only a handful of people lucky enough to witness the small ceremony. I felt absolutely honoured to be in attendance while they exchanged their vows in the Rouge Restaurant in Inglewood. 

Not the couple to be super traditional, I was also able to catch up with the two early in the morning and shadow them as they calmly prepared for their big day together, taking everything in stride from the flowers being late to the crazy drunk man chasing people downtown while we tried to take pictures.

Here are a few of my favourite shots from the day, congratulations again Jenna & Sean.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Calgary Photography Wedding https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/lucky-ones Wed, 28 May 2014 22:27:35 GMT
Two Jack Lake https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/two-jack-lake As the days get longer and longer, I remember why it's so much easier to get sunrise photos during the winter. I opened my eyes this morning at 3 am saying "No. No. Nonononononononono. It's too early to get up"   but, as my pajama clad feet hit the carpet, I knew there was no convincing myself to stay in bed.  I retrieved a sleepy and reluctant Creepy-dog from her bed and we headed out of the city. With the pink light of dawn kept safely in my rearview mirror, we raced Westward over the prairies and back in to the blue hour.  


When we arrived on the scene, a very excitable Creepy and I bounded over to the lake, trying desperately not to upset the quiet serenity of the morning and fellow photographers (it was a happening place for 5:30 am on a Tuesday morning)  As I plunked Rubber Ducky in to the water and began to photograph, I chatted with local photographer Colin (You can find him on Instagram as "Mebzy") about his sunrise project at Two Jack, learning that yesterday was the best sunrise in over a month while Ducky floated farther and farther away from shore.  

Creepy couldn't be bothered to retrieve my little yellow companion, and I, clothed in mere jeans and sneakers, was considering a small sacrifice to the god of sunrises and bath toys when Colin waded in and saved me from a pair of wet feet.  Sadly, his efforts were for nothing as a short while later both the dog and I ended up in the mud anyway.  I picked up Creepy and we went for a quick dunk into the lake to try to rinse off some of the muck, but it didn't help much.  As I type this, my feet and good portion of my clothing are sporting a fine tan coloured crust.  

This morning marked my first sunrise excursion specifically to visit Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park, surprising considering it's proximity to Calgary and ease of access, but there always seems to be more alluring locations.  Lesson learned, I should have visited years ago.  It was an absolute treat to witness the first bit of sun kiss the slopes of Mt. Rundle while the geese and loons paraded around in front of me  and the sound of a distant coyote echoed through the valley. Lovely doesn't even begin to describe it.  However, with the sun high in the sky and both dog and photographer in their typical freezing cold and soggy state, it was time to move on.

The rest of the day was spent cruising around and enjoying the abundant scenery and wildlife.  At one point I stopped to photograph a moose, and ended up being treated to a Grizzly bear sighting instead.  It would have been a perfect time to own a longer lens as this photo is cropped quite a bit, but sometimes it's important to remember just being there and in the moment is worth more than any photo. 


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff Landscape Photography Sunrise https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/two-jack-lake Tue, 20 May 2014 23:06:20 GMT
Editing https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/editing Between some exceptionally busy days at work and photo editing, I have been spending a lot of time in front of the computer recently.  Editing is my absolute least favourite part of the photo process (unless it's raining killer zombies from outer space, then staying inside is not so bad) I just feel guilty sitting on the couch while the TV drones on in the background, sifting through image after image when I could be outside somewhere.   My camera is a lovely little beast and I know she misses me, but the thought of editing photos after a shoot has me convinced to leave the camera in it's place.

The vast majority of the editing I have been doing lately are for headshots, weddings and music gigs so I have been intently staring at people on my computer screen.  I do enjoy photographing people, they are much more engaging to talk to than a moutain, but after a few weeks of carefully selecting, masking,  dodging and burning images long after the conversations have ended, I had to give myself a bit of a break from all the eyes staring back at me from my computer screen.


In hindsight, perhaps the break I should have taken was one away from the computer, but it was a snowy day and though there were no killer zombies from outer space falling from the sky, I decided that snow was almost as bad and I opted to stay inside.  With no new landscape material to edit, I started to revisit old sets from the past several months and work on some photos that didn't make the first cut.



My eyes were just as fuzzy and my brain just as foggy when I returned to the work I needed to do, but the change of pace was a welcome break.  I'm excited to get back out in the world just the camera and me,  once all my work is done.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Editing Landscape Photography Rant https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/5/editing Tue, 06 May 2014 21:20:26 GMT
New Addition to the Family https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/4/exciting-things-afoot After having a bit of a scare with a moose last fall, the thought of having to go out into the woods alone for photography has weighed heavily on my mind.  Sure, I could invite Mr. Bastard, fellow photographers or friends to come along, but the process of convincing people to wake up before some would even go to bed has proven time and again to be a pointless endeavor. A more reliable answer to combat the lonliness was on my mind, but it took a little bit of persuasion to get Mr Bastard on board.

He finally caved, and last week we adopted a young dog (1 year old) from a family whose little one was suffering from allergies. Her name is Creepy (yes, Creepy Bastard, you didn't think we'd name her something normal did you?)  and she has quickly become the third and definitely the cutest member of the Bastard family. We are both absolutely smitten with her. I admit, I have been a lazy photographer and I have a slough of crappy iphone photos and videos of our new addition, but sadly, no real photos to share yet.

Eager to put my new photo adventure partner into action, I woke up at 3:30 Sunday morning to make sunrise at Castle Junction in Banff National Park. We arrived just as the sun was peeking out from behind the mountains and I strapped the usual camera bag, bear spray and tripod to my waist.  The dog leash was added onto the belt and away we went, trading turns pulling each other along the path.  (She doesn't do leashes very well yet)

Not long after setting up my camera and tripod on the banks of the Bow river, Creepy warned me of an approaching intruder into our slice of paradise.  A fellow photographer had joined our ranks along the river to wait for that moment when the light hit the mountain and Creepy barked and growled and nearly dragged me off my feet to meet him. After a while, the photographer, who mentioned he had been shooting star trails all evening, headed back to his vehicle for a much needed rest, Creepy barked and growled to let me know he was coming near us again.

Perfect, I thought, she's much more aware of our surroundings than I am, she'll add a great set of ears and eyes while I'm lost in my world of apertures and shutter speeds.

Not ten minutes later, a vehicle backed up over the bridge I was crouching under and the photographer shouted a warning, there was a coyote on the other side of the river headed our way. I thanked him and watched for the animal.  Sure enough, the Coyote emerged out of the brush on the other side of the river, not 30 feet away from us, as Creepy sniffled around the riverbank, oblivious to the animal's presence.

Some watch dog she turned out to be, but it was still nice to have company

Sadly, after all the effort put in to the trip, the light did not work in my favour and I came home with very few photos to process.  Can't win them all, though I seem to have my fair share of stinker trips this year.

 I did take the opportunity to scout around some of my favourite locations to check the status of the ponds, streams and lakes to determine where my next morning adventure will be and I already have a brand new location in mind that I'm excited to explore.



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Dog Landscape Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/4/exciting-things-afoot Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:29:57 GMT
CD Release Party https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/4/cd-release-party The Stetson doesn't host nearly as many shows as they used to, so it's always a treat to see bands there again. In it's heyday, the room would be full of music lovers every weekend and it's where I first recall seeing The Press Gang many years ago.  The band has certainly come a long way since the early days, so I couldn't miss their CD release show last weekend, especially with such a fantastic line up of bands to round out the night.  


Nekro Trioxin of Frightenstein

 Frightenstein - Horror Punk/Metal act with a well rehearsed theatrical live performance. Underneath all the costumes and fake blood are some of the nicest people you could every meet.


Bloated Pig

Bloated Pig- Metal band which has been one of my favourites since their start circa 2006.  They write music that is excellent for driving topped with a healthy dose of  meeeeedly meeeeedly weeeeeeees!


Colin - The Press Gang

The Press Gang - fast, heavy and fun. They play their sets like their gear will blow up if they slow down too much which leads to great onstage energy. Bonus points for the most unpredictable and delightful on stage banter between songs. 

Shows like this make me really like my life. I get the opportunity to be around great people, see really good bands, satisfy my compulsion to point my camera at stuff and enjoy a brew ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Band Calgary Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/4/cd-release-party Mon, 07 Apr 2014 07:05:35 GMT
Who me? Clumsy? https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/who-me-clumsy From the number of times I mention falling in creeks and lakes, it should come as no surprise to hear that I consider myself to be a bit clumsy. While my first instinct is always to protect the camera at all costs, the other gear I work with holds a slightly lower priortiy and is dealt more than enough abuse.

That's why I decided that today, I should extoll the virtues of my Nikon SB700's.  The little beasts have been sprayed with liquid, knocked over, sat on and most recently, dropped from about 4 feet in the air onto a cold concrete garage floor.  The sound of the light hitting the ground and multiple pieces breaking and spinning away broke my heart and then I looked down.  A tiny little plastic cover had come off which easily snapped back in and that's it.  I powered up the flash, hit the test and it fired like nothing ever happened. 

Not that I would really recommend recreating the test to verify it's accuracy, but I'll stand by my new undying love for the SB700's.  They might not be as powerful as the 910's, but for the price point and durability, I couldn't be happier.

If history has taught me anything, I forsee more gear reviews based on smashability factors in this blog.

And now, here's a picture of The Press Gang, who are releasing a CD this Saturday at The Stetson (Calgary) (and who are lit with a single SB700)  The Press Gang PromoThe Press Gang Promo


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Gear Gear Review Photography Review https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/who-me-clumsy Tue, 25 Mar 2014 04:26:06 GMT
Sleep https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/sleep Sleep is something my life has been lacking lately, I would probably be more upset about that if it wasn't self inflicted.

Friday night was spent saying farewell to a much beloved local music venue The D (for now). By the time I arrived around 8pm, they had already run out of beer.  In the few hours I was there, they had supplied the fridges and subsequently ran out two more times, I like to think I helped play a small part in that.

 Our friends know how to throw a good-bye party and I'm always happy to see the punk and metal communities rally around their friends in support. I always feel so lucky to be surrounded by such genuinely good people, but as I fell into bed that night around 1:30 am, my mind turned to the days ahead of me. Where to go, what to shoot, what to pack and most importantly, what to not forget.

Camera battery is charging, don't forget it.
Snowpants, remember to pack snowpants.

Tripod is leaning up in the bathroom (why is the tripod in the bathroom?), don't forget it.  
Maybe I should pack rubber boots.
Good idea, don't forget rubber boots.
Where did I put the bear spray? Have to remember to grab bear spray.
Oh, there's a memory card in the computer, don't forget it.

By some stroke of sheer madness, I managed to wake up at 5am, pack everything I needed and make it out the door just in time to catch the sunrise at Vermillion Lake in Banff.  An old go-to location but with little time to spare, it would have to do. 

I pulled up beside the lake, Rubber Ducky in hand and finally with my brand new rubber boots on my feet. The weather was mild and I opted to forego snowpants.  I splashed into an open patch of the lake, plunked Ducky into the water, crouched down and got to work.  As I composed the first few shots, I could feel that old familiar sensation of water seeping into my socks.  By the time I finished the open water shots, I was soaking wet from the waist down. So much for the rubber boots keeping me dry. 
But with the good light fading fast, and no time to think about staying warm or dry, I headed over towards a good bit of ice and continued photographing.

I like to think I looked graceful, but deep down I know in reality I was a rubber booted (the ugly kind that my parents had to force me to wear when I was a kid), soaking wet photographer, wild eyed and messy haired, floundering around on my stomach with my camera like beached whale.  If that's not enough to attract unwanted attention from the other nearby photographers, I went on to do a roadside strip down to my ill fitting longjohns and bare feet before I got back in to my truck. (pure sexiness, she said sarcastically)

Normally, the day would end there, but instead I headed north to the David Thompson highway to meet up with fellow photographer and Sixth Degree Collectiver Jason Gendreau to explore the Abraham Lake and Kootenay plains area.  We managed to find a Stoney Vision Quest site and spent some time photographing the area.  The colourful fabric paired with the natural surroundings was a joy to see, and though it would be simple to recreate in any location, I think the sense of reverence would be lost.  If it's not felt behind the camera, then it won't translate into a photo. 

In order to keep the ethereal quality of a vision quest, I opted to depict the scene with more impressionistic techniques (camera movement and my favourite standby- vaseline. Great for chapped lips AND photography, who knew?) I captured a few scenes with this method, but one particular tree, with it's striking red, yellow  and blue fabric, was my favourite one to photograph.  Like a bear to a rub tree I found myself returning to that location a few times over the course of the next two days.

Of course no trip to the Kootenay Plains region is complete without an excursion on to Abraham Lake, unlike the last time I visited, the ice was snow free and the sky was relatively clear.Unfortunately, the light wasn't the greatest mid day and we weren't treated to a sunset worth writing home about.  However, we still shot up to 10pm until the snow began falling heavily and we decided enough was enough. 

I folded myself into the back of my truck and made an attempt to catch a few hours of sleep while the wind pasted chunks of snow onto the world outside. Freezing cold, cramped, exhausted and happy. After a few hours, I woke up, stretched out as best as I could and waited the 2 hours for my alarm to ring. The hopes for a pretty sunrise reflected onto the shimmering ice were dashed as soon as the sun threatened to rise. Overcast featureless skies hung over the stark white landscape (ugh. Been there, done that) so we opted to try the Vision Quest site once again for some more detail shots. A few more hours spent photographing in the drab light and we decided it was time to call it a day.

Despite the snowstorm, I decided to take the Icefields Parkway home, a fun drive with all the fresh snow but a little dicey with bald tires and only a couple hours sleep over the last few days. The snow was flying up past the windows and over the hood of my truck and I spent a great deal of the ride home yelling "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" at the top of my lungs.   All that driving and yelling had me beyond exhausted by the time I got home and I curled up on the couch to wait for bedtime. Some people say no sleep til Brooklyn, but I say No sleep til the photos are done. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but that's why I'm a photographer and not an MC.  I couldn't resist getting to work right away and I had my picks edited and posted before my burning eyes were finally allowed to be closed.



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Abraham Lake Alberta Landscape Photography Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/sleep Tue, 18 Mar 2014 22:20:42 GMT
Backlog & Memories https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/kicked-in-the-teeth I appear to be sorting through a bit of a photo editing backlog.  Actually, that's an understatement.  I realized this week that I'm really far behind editing photos from gigs and that's a bad habit to get into (shame on me!)  All of a sudden it was the middle of March and I've barely touched anything since late January. Yeeesh.

I just finished editing a set from a Calgary Beer Core show at the beginning of February featuring three fantastic metal bands - World Class White Trash, Leave the Living & Burning Effigy. I know it's cliche to always say "if you get a chance to see any of them, you should totally check them out" but whatever. Cliche away, you should totally go see them if you get the chance.  I think we're quite spoiled by the amount of talented musicians in Alberta. 


Back to the enormous backlog of photos for a second.  I have a fairly crappy memory and I have to see a band a few times before I can actually remember their name. I'm getting old and I go to a decent number of shows, it happens.  That's the wonderful thing about having a camera with me everywhere I go, once I edit a photo I can look back and think, "Hey, I remember seeing them, they were great!"  Then I'll check to see the date I took the photo and cross check it with the Facebook event page to figure out the name of the band.  I don't know if all this technology helps me remember, or makes it so I don't try hard enough, but it sure is great.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/kicked-in-the-teeth Wed, 12 Mar 2014 05:04:55 GMT
More Bass https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/more-bass It's been cold and if you have been a reader of this blog (even just a tiny little bit) it's probably already been established that I'm a wimp. What that means is that at the moment I have no new photos to share or stories to tell. As much as I'd love to be getting chased by moose or clumsily falling into a lake right about now, I'm afraid I have to refuse to leave my house. My camera sits idle save for a few pictures of household shenanigans.

That doesn't mean I haven't been busy, oh no, both bands I'm in are spending time in the studio. Last weekend the Rigormorticians did a one night basement extravanganza recording session in order to provide a current single for a compilation CD (coming May 2014) - hence the household shenanigans.  This upcoming Saturday my other band Fist Kitten is going to a studio in Black Diamond to record as much as we possibly can before our drummer defects to Winnipeg... 

That reminds me, if you know of any talented and cool girl drummers looking for a laid back (but committed) girl band in Calgary, let me know. 

In the meantime, because I am one and because I can: here's a collection of bass players.  (Psst: if you're in a band and need promo pics, I'm your girl, especially if you tend to play indoors)


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Bass Calgary Metal Photographer Photography Punk Recording Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/3/more-bass Thu, 06 Mar 2014 04:12:57 GMT
I'm Back! https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/2/whirlwind  


It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks, but it's all finished now and I have marked my return to photography with a sunrise trip to the mountains yesterday morning.  It feels so good to be back that I may go winter camping next weekend. 

With the 2014 Exposure Photography Festival in full swing, we were in a mad scramble to get things ready in time for our opening on February 8th.  The Sixth Degree Collective display "Home" is mounted in two  8ft by 4ft sections of plexi-glass on my front lawn, not a small undertaking, especially since the yard was buried in snow and ice.  It's still up for another week so there's still time to swing by Mike and Lisa's place to check it out.  Mr. Bastard was beyond helpful as were a number of our friends and I could not have pulled it off without their help. 

I have spent a considerable amount of time over the last few months getting things ready for the exhibition. Sitting behind the computer editing my own photos,  buying supplies, mounting photographs, measuring, marking, typing, answering questions, presentations...and of course, shoveling snow.  So when I finally had a weekend with no obligations or work to do, I was elated to set my alarm for 4:45 am for a much needed trip to the mountains.

I woke up at 4:30 am and though I felt rather cheated out of what could have been a glorious extra 15 minutes of sleep, I crawled out of bed.  The weather forecast looked pretty grim, snowing everywhere and as I set out on the highway, the moment I reached city limits the snow had already started.  I kept telling myself I needed the trip not just for photos but for my sanity as well so I pressed on. I arrived at Johnson Lake as the sun was threatening to peek over the mountains and I quickly set up my gear under a tiny little pedestrian bridge (I have been to the lake a number of times before so I already had my composition and location in mind. Scouting missions do pay off)

As I crouched under the bridge like a troll, I plunked the camera and tripod in a freezing little stream and switched the live view on.  I wasn't quite happy with the composition and had to move the camera further into the middle of the stream.  Of course you know what happens next right?  Into the water goes the feet, then I knelt down in the water to better see the composition and finally in goes a single hand to steady myself.  On the bright side, I have since learned why I can't find a pair of mittens or gloves that successfully keep my hands warm while photographing - I keep taking them off to better manipulate the camera buttons and then get so involved in what I'm doing that I don't put them on again. I'm sure plunging them into a freezing cold stream doesn't help matters much either.  Someday I'll learn...

It's not often that I will "chase the light" and attempt numerous locations in one morning, but like a kid in the candy store I continued up the Minnewanka road and then back down the hill to Vermillion Lakes, stopping wherever my eyes desired.  The rest of the morning went without incident, a photo here, a frozen foot dunked into another pool of water there. Rubber Ducks miraculously rescued by timely procured sticks and cheese sandwiches. The usual.

After the sun peeked over the mountains, and I was positive it wouldn't do anything interesting the moment I turned my back, I took a coffee and snack break before heading into town to poke around.  The snow, which had been falling lightly all morning, held off for a while, but sadly it was falling too hard for me to catch a good sunset in the evening and I made my way back to the city.  A little bit soggy but feeling rejuvenated. 




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff Landscape Photography Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/2/whirlwind Sun, 23 Feb 2014 21:47:13 GMT
Rubber Duck Gains a Voice https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/2/rubber-duck-gains-a-voice My little yellow companion wasn’t always such a bitter little mouth piece.  In fact, when I first employed the use of the little bath toy, it was simply to add a recognizable subject into my landscapes without using a human form.  I don’t particularly care for landscape images with people in them unless I know the person, but I do understand the appeal and wanted  to provide something for viewers to have “someone” to connect with. Enter the rubber duck. 

It began simply enough with a trip out to Airdrie’s Big Hill Springs park and a goal to photograph a static ducky midst the rushing water.  I tromped around searching for a suitable location and once I found it, I began shoving coat hangers and miscellaneous twigs into the bottom of the duck in order to hold its place against the water.  It was only when I was knee deep in a cold creek, holding an impaled rubber duck in one hand and a camera in the other while passersby gave me confused and concerned looks, when the rubber duck uttered its first caption.  “Rubber Ducky thinks the photographer is nuts.”  Yeah, Rubber Ducky, you’re probably right, now hold still while I grab my tripod.

I took quite a few more shots that evening, soaking my shoes, pants and sweater and gaining a fair bit of attention from park users in the process, a wild eyed grown woman soaking wet and wielding a tiny rubber duck in a public park isn’t something you see every day.  The bitter little Rubber Duck nay-sayed everything I did, acting as the voice of the sane person I had buried the moment I picked up a camera.  Since then, the duck has become the subject of a separate photo project and the voice of my own pessimism so I can be left to photograph in peace, but  "All Rubber Ducky Ever Wanted, Was a Warm Bath"

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Photography Rubber Duck https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/2/rubber-duck-gains-a-voice Tue, 04 Feb 2014 21:42:14 GMT
Facts https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/facts Some cold hard facts about adventuring with your camera:

1.  If you are prepared for animal sighting, and remember to leave your telephoto lens on camera, you will not see ANY animals at all. Not even a squirrel.

2.  If you are prepared for great landscape opportunities, and leave your wide angle lens on camera, the light will be either be completely boring or way too harsh, but you will see a lot of really cool animals that are far away.

3.  If you dare to stop and eat dinner, the service will be horribly slow and you will leave the restaurant just as the amazing light is fading.

4.  If your battery dies, you are guaranteed to see a majestic grizzly bear ninja kick a wolf in the midst of a wonderful landscape in the best light of your life, and nobody will believe you.

5. Sometimes it's better to leave the camera at home, and enjoy an adventure with your loved ones the old fashioned way.  (with your camera phone)

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/facts Tue, 28 Jan 2014 07:21:40 GMT
Finalist! https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/finalist Had a really nice surprise this evening when I found out I am one of the finalists for the Exposure Photography Festival's emerging photographer competition. Looks like I have some stiff competition too.

Voting starts tomorrow!


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/finalist Mon, 20 Jan 2014 05:28:01 GMT
Failure at Abraham Lake https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/failure-at-abraham-lake Another failure post, I know, but this time it's not my fault. I swear.

I went to Abraham Lake to do some landscape photography on the weekend and I was so well prepared, you would be proud of me. The weather forecast looked good, the cloud tracker looked perfect (just the right amount of cloud cover)  I had lots of warm clothing to wear. I had emergency supplies packed in the truck. I even woke up on time so I wouldn't be rushed in the morning (2:45 am comes really early). It's a good thing too, as I stopped at an accident scene to offer my assistance, fortunately nobody was hurt and I was able to continue on my way.  Besides the highways being rather dicey due to the drifting snow, everything was going exactly as planned.

Then I turned a corner about 10km away from my destination, and was greeted by a wall of clouds, conveniently located where I wanted to be. Those clouds happened to be snowing.  Snowing really hard.  Snowing really hard all day.  That was not what the weather forecast and cloud tracker told me to expect. Instead of majestic sweeping landscapes full of happiness and rainbows that I had envisioned, I came home with a very bleak,  realistic depiction of Abraham Lake. 


That's in colour too by the way.  No mountains. No beautiful ice formations. No happiness. No rainbows, barely even a stitch of colour to be found save for those rare moments when I could see the lines on the highway. Now don't get me wrong, I do actually like the photo because of the texture and I'm a fan of minimalism, but as far as landscapes go - it's kind of a downer.  Especially after waking up early and enduring 800 kilometres of driving on crappy roads to capture something I could have captured at home by photographing a slightly crumpled blank piece of paper. (Note to self: see what  happens when you photograph slightly crumpled blank pieces of paper, I think I'm on to something here)


But if you remember, all these failure stories need to have a happy ending so I did have some success stories throughout the day, you know, making lemonade when life hands you lemons. Or, in this case, making photos when life hands you a stark white canvas that wears out your windshield wipers and tries to pull your truck into the ditch at every turn.

The first success being that for once I didn't get cold. Don't make fun - that's a big success. I'm a certified wimp and snowstorms are cold. I'll look back on this day fondly when I'm older and remember, "I wasn't cold that day" and then sigh happily and return to my daytime soap operas while sitting in my comfortable room temperature home.

The second success is entirely irrelevant to winter adventures and photography, but it's my blog and I'll tell you anyway. I ate three bananas. I don't know why I even thought I should bring bananas as my snacks for the day since I don't particularly like them, but I ate them and I didn't complain and they didn't kill me.  That should take care of my yearly fruit intake (ick), I'll stick to vegetables for the next 11 months. That should make Mom happy anyway. (Hi Mom)

Success number three was the wildlife sightings and managing to capture them without too much interferance from the gigantic snowflakes. Not an entirely easy task.   Deer, bighorn sheep and a total of six Grey Owls.  Before that, I could count on one hand the number of times I had seen an owl in the wild, I was apparently looking in the wrong direction my whole life.

So even though I did not really capture what I set out for, the day wasn't a total waste. Just another excuse to come back to visit soon, but I hope the weather cooperates next time.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Abraham Lake Alberta Failure Landscape Photography Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/failure-at-abraham-lake Mon, 13 Jan 2014 18:36:10 GMT
NYE https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/nye Well, New Year's Eve came and went. I celebrated by dragging my best friend to a 10 band bill at the Stetson for the Calgary Beer Core's Punk vs. Metal finals.  Thrash metal band Blackest Sin took the top honours for the evening after a few days of deliberation (read: curing hangovers) by the judges. 

What a night! What chaos! What fun! What copious amounts of liquor!  It was a real treat to spend the night with such great company. I had my camera along with me, but opted to only take a few shots per band and spend time with my friend instead of being glued to the viewfinder. It was sure an odd change to view bands through regular eyes and ears rather than a lens, I often found myself not knowing what to do with myself, what are people supposed do with their arms when they're not taking photos? Do you cross your arms and look mad?  Do you jump into the mosh pit with reckless abandon? Do you drink two beers at once? I tried for a clumsy combination of all three. 

Even without spending the entire night behind the camera, I managed to walk away with some nice shots for each of the bands that played with the exception of my own. Someday I'll learn how to do on stage selfies and play at the same time for the ultimate self indulgent experience.   Until then, I rely on you gentle readers, armed with your iphone in one hand and slopping pint of beer in the other. 

Here's Blackest Sin during their winning performance of the metals:



Select photos from the entire tournament and finals can be viewed here

Happy 2014 everyone, see you in the pit!


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Calgary Calgary Beer Core Metal Music Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2014/1/nye Tue, 07 Jan 2014 02:28:33 GMT
Advenutreday! https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/advenutreday As I was leaving the bedroom after a mere 4 hours of sleep yesterday morning, Mikey's voice came from the darkness with two words for me "You're mad" he said, "Yes, I have to agree with you" I replied, and headed out the door to go find a sunrise.

I had somehow misplaced my snowpants from the last adventure day, but I thought, I'm going to the prairies so how bad could it possibly be out there? Exhausted, I arrived in Dorothy just before sunrise and quickly grabbed my gear out of the truck and headed into a field to set up and instantly sunk in the snow up to my thighs. We have been getting record snowfall amounts in Calgary, and apparently east of the City is no different. I grumpily set up my tripod, plunked my bum down in the snow and started shooting the grain elevator I had come to see bathed in morning light.  

Dorothy is a picturesque ghost town located on the "Hoodoo Trail" in the Badlands of Alberta, and one of my favourite prairie towns to visit. The grain elevator is not the only building worth shooting, but by the time I had gathered my photos of the building, I was soaking wet, freezing cold, sleepy, hungry, grumpy, craving more coffee but most of all I just wanted to go home and go back to bed. I know, I'm such a party pooper!

Knowing that I had captured the photo that I came for (no more and no less) I cut my adventure day short and begun the two hour drive back to the city. When I drive, my eyes wander around looking for more picture possibilities and then I saw a perfect row of trees that had been planted for a windbreak.  Yep, that would make a good picture, I thought and kept on driving, anxious to get home.  But the image of the trees plagued me for several kilometres down the road even though I tried my best to ignore it, trying to convince myself that there are trees everywhere (It's the prairies after all, known for it's abundance of trees). Finally, just as I was reaching the next town on the way home, I succumbed to the nagging photographer in the back of my mind (sometimes she can be a real pain) turned around and drove back up the highway to find that row of trees again. I begrudgingly hopped out of my truck and shot a few frames and then turned around again and went home for a nap. I'm happy I went back for the photo, I'm glad the little photographer that lives in my skull is so convincing.

 I absolutely love adventure days, but they can sure take a toll.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Dorothy Ghost Town Landscape Photography Prairie Sunrise Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/advenutreday Sat, 28 Dec 2013 19:57:56 GMT
Punk vs Metal https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/punk-vs-metal I was fortunate to catch a few of Calgary Beer Core's Punk vs. Metal shows over the last few months, both as a performer and a photographer.  The camaraderie, encouragement and beers shared between bands is always great to see at these shows, even though technically they are competitions. 

In previous years, the Beer Core dedicated their November and December shows to raise money to buy toys for kids and donate them to a local charity.  This year, they took a slightly different approach and raised money for a family in need.  Because of everyone's generosity at Saturday's punk vs metal gig the bands and fans were able to raise over $900.00 to make one family's Christmas a bit merrier.  My hat is off to everyone who made that happen.

It's been a great few months, the talent in this city never ceases to amaze me and I'm definitely looking forward to the finale at the Stetson.  It's 10 bands for $10 on New Years Eve. And yes, this is absolutely a shameless plug, not only will I be there with camera in hand, my band will be one of those on stage as well. Hope to see you there!

 Here's to a few...


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Calgary Calgary Beer Core Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/punk-vs-metal Tue, 17 Dec 2013 05:31:54 GMT
Confession https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/confession I have to confess something, I'm scared of bears.  I've spent most of my life living in areas where it's not out of the question to have a bear wander through your front yard so while I have a good level of respect and a great deal of education regarding them, it hasn't helped my adrenaline levels from unnecessarily shooting through the roof when I'm out in the woods. 

While Mr Bastard and I were vacationing in Wells Grey Provincial Park (British Columbia) in the summer of 2012 we ran into our fair share of bears.  We even chased one out of the campground one morning before we went on a nearby hike (you see where this is going yet?)

The campground we were staying at was quite remote and the hike we were going on appeared to be even more so as we had to use my 4x4 truck to get us up a trail (apparently it was a road?) in order to even get to the trail head. We parked the truck and started our hike surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful, lush wild raspberry bushes. Prime place for a bear to hang out. Great. Just Great.

After already chasing a bear earlier that day my spidey senses were screaming to pack up, go back to the city and spend the rest of my life surrounded by safe loving concrete, but we kept going deeper into the forest.  It was the kind of hike that you bang sticks together and talk about how awesome the cold eggs and burnt toast you had for breakfast was just to make enough noise to keep the teeth and claw club away, but not enough noise to occasionally hear a rustle coming from somewhere in the dense raspberry bushes.  

Whenever we heard a rustling noise we would freeze and listen for a moment, trying to pinpoint from which direction, how far away it was and more importantly -how big.  We discussed turning back, but we had already made it half way through the hike so we pressed on. Finally, the rustling noise became very very close and we froze on the trail yet again, not knowing which direction we would have to use as an escape. I was having a mild heart attack in the middle of the forest when we finally spotted our culprit as it leapt across the trail mere inches in front of us.  An adorable little toad.

We laughed it off and continued our hike but we didn't stay very long at the waterfalls we had traveled to see.  By the time the truck was in view again, I practically sprinted towards it and leaped inside, happy to be safe away from the toads and other murderous creatures in the raspberry patch.

Note: Not that I have painted a particularly appealing picture of Wells Grey Provincial Park, but I do sincerely recommend exploring the area if you are able, especially if you are the kind of person that enjoys frolicking through forests and looking at water. Still water, rushing water, bubbling water, falling water.   It's an enchanting area of British Columbia with crystal clear lakes, numerous waterfalls and a lot fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. 

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) British Columbia Grey Photography Wells https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/confession Tue, 10 Dec 2013 07:15:04 GMT
Bow Lake https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/bow-lake After going on a shopping spree to pick up some new winter gear, I needed to test it out!  Had I known less than a week later, southern Alberta would be engulfed in a full blown blizzard, I may have been able to save some gas money, but catching the sun rise over Bow Lake was well worth it.

I woke up at 3 am to shower and grab some coffee and snacks, I was surprised to find out that Mr. Bastard was awake and planning on joining me as photo adventures are exceedingly boring for those without cameras.  I was happy that he came along though, company is always nice

The road conditions from Calgary all the way up the Icefields Parkway were less than ideal and the drive was slow going, lots of black ice and drifting snow on the highway. We were in the middle of a chinook and the wind gusts were polishing the pavement with snow.  Good thing we left early because we arrived at Bow Lake not long before sunrise. We had very little time to trek through the waist deep snow ( Just in case you thought walking through waist deep snow sounded fun, you are mistaken. It sucks.) and onto the ice.  Fortunately, the ice was clear and the frost flowers were in full  bloom. Something I have not yet had the opportunity to see in person, they are beautiful little formations that delicately flutter in the wind.


We hung out on the lake for the better part of 2 hours and were treated to a beautiful sunrise before the sky clouded over.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Banff Bow Lake Landscape Photography Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/12/bow-lake Mon, 02 Dec 2013 18:35:32 GMT
Murder! https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/murder When working on my Rubber Ducky series, I expect to sacrifice a few of the little dudes in the process, it's part of their job and I don't care to risk it all just to save them from their fate. So I was not at all surprised when I lost Ducky #1 to the river one afternoon last year, but I did not expect the tragedy to unfold quite how it did.  

I showed up at the weir on Calgary's Bow River, a great spot for watching seagulls and other birds. I had been there before and knew that the seagulls liked to hang out at a particular portion of the bank, my plan was to set up Rubber Ducky and retreat a short distance away and wait for the gulls to return.  The gulls must have gotten my memo because it wasn't long before they returned and I was able to start snapping photos. 

What I expected to have happen to ducky was that a bird would inadvertently bump the little dude off the bank and into the river. Like they don't know how to control their tail feathers, but that's not what happened at all. I should have known better.  

A bit of time had passed and the majority of the gulls had moved down the river a bit, but one conniving gull remained and sidled up beside wee inanimate ducky. I could tell by the way the bird kept slowly side stepping towards ducky, that the gull was up to something.

Before I knew it, the gull had very deliberately and precisely flipped ducky on it's side and then kicked him into the river, like booting rubber duckies into a watery grave was just all in a day's work.  I know, you totally don't believe me do you? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, though I have to apologize for their poor state. The photos I managed to capture of the murder itself are blurry to the point of being unsalvageable.  I was laughing so hard I could barely sit upright, let alone operate my camera.   




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) bird ducky murder photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/murder Sat, 30 Nov 2013 23:56:05 GMT
World through warming filter #85 tinted glasses https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/seeing-the-world-through-warming-filter-85-tinted-glasses There are two types of items that I absolutely can not keep track of no matter how hard I try, they are sunglasses and lens caps. If I had a nickel for every time I lost one of those items, I would have enough nickels to buy a few replacements and probably piss off some retail clerks in the process.

Fortunately, I subscribe to the "Know Thyself" train of thought and I purchase replacement lenscaps in bulk from the interwebs and I refuse to purchase sunglasses that cost over $7 because I know I will lose them immediately.  (And yes, I've already checked the fridge but all I found in there was last week's potato salad and my car keys)

My latest pair of sunglasses (They cost me a whopping $1.00 and they're so stylish *cough*) have me seeing the world in a brand new light.  Literally. I'd put them somewhere around a #85 warming filter.  I get the warm fuzzies every time I try to decipher what colour a traffic light is, is it yellow, red or just sooo pretty against the sky? I feel like I'm perpetually wandering around in a utopian golden hour, it took me a moment to get used to but now I don't want to take them off. The warm light just puts me in the best moods.  Seeing the world through non-sunglassed eyes has actually become a bit of a bummer since the light is so drab and normal looking.  However, the office is a bit too hard to navigate with them on and I'm getting tired of hearing people sing Corey Hart songs at me so I save the sunglasses for those special outside situations (ie: daylight).

Normally I think my photos tend to be a bit on the cool side, I just love those chilly looking blue tones.  These new sunglasses have me thinking it might be time to thaw those photos out so I am issuing a challenge to myself - more warm toned photos. Finally, a cure to my winter season depression. There will be happy warm snow and happy warm ice in the middle of happy happy warm November. So if you see me posting too many cool toned photos this winter, tell me to snap out of it because it's too cold out for cool toned photos.


JuxtaposedJuxtaposedWarm toned photo taken with frost bitten hands.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Challenge Filter Happy Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/seeing-the-world-through-warming-filter-85-tinted-glasses Wed, 27 Nov 2013 18:58:59 GMT
New Gear Day! https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/new-gear-day No, not camera gear, but it's just as important to landscape photography as the camera itself.  It seems fitting that I'm writing this post after the first winter storm of the year,  I finally caved and went on a shopping spree and got the winter clothing I've had my eye on. I've been putting off getting new winter gear for ages, but last year the winter landscapes tried to best me so this year, I'm ready.

My "Sessions" winter jacket is designed for snowboarders and skiiers, I really enjoy these jackets because they have a lot of internal pocket space for cell phones/ipods and spare camera batteries. They usually have zippered vents to cool you down and prevent you from sweating which is very important when you need to stay warm.

It also has a RECCO reflector which I have never heard about until today.  If you are caught in an avalanche many organizations have RECCO detectors (including the majority of search and rescue organizations in my favourite landscape photography areas)  From what I understand the reflector has a diode that generates a harmonic when it is hit by the radar signal from the search equipment.  Obviously, it doesn't make up for using common sense while out in the wilderness, but it's nice to know that if I get buried in an avalanche my body could be located. 

The next item I splurged on is a pair of thermal socks.  I put them on the moment I got home and went to shovel snow in some thin shoes, what a difference these socks make, I'm actually quite surprised and now I'm excited to put them to the test out in the mountains.  

Speaking of feet, I also picked up a set of ice cleats that strap onto your regular boots.  This year when I venture on to Abraham Lake I'll be better prepared for the ice, now I'll have to find a set of camera backpack cleats so the wind doesn't blow it away from me again.

The last set of items are a pair of gloves that will work with touch screens, no more taking my gloves off to use the phone, they are also thin enough to operate my camera gear.  I also picked up a pair of electric warming mittens that run on batteries. They were relatively cheap so time will tell how effective they are but it's worth a shot. It seems no matter how much I try, I can not keep my fingers warm and I've had to miss out on great light in the past because I had some mildly frostbitten fingers and could not stay outside any longer.

So, bring it on winter, I'm ready for you this year. 




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Clothing Gear Winter https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/new-gear-day Sun, 17 Nov 2013 23:56:19 GMT
Improper Ventilation https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/improper-ventilation My photo "Improper Ventilation" has been the most expensive photo I've produced to date.  I like to say that with an air of pretentiousness until someone actually believes me and then I tell them the rest of the story. The cost to produce this photo is somewhere in the range of gutting and rebuilding the entire addition on my house.  If you're interested, prints are available for sale for approximately the same cost as a few batts of insulation.

Here's a handy dandy tip for you, if you have a hot tub inside your home, opening windows and doors doesn't count as proper ventilation (It's my first home and first hot tub... who knew?!).  It's also great if you can verify that the materials used to build the area surrounding said hot tub aren't just made to look like they're moisture proof.  In our case, drywall had been nicely wrapped  in textured wall paper to look like moisture resistant material (and when I say wrapped, I mean they were wrapped nicer than your Mom wraps sneak proof birthday gifts).  In fact, the drywall was wrapped so nicely, that when the ceiling began caving in last spring it was the wallpaper that held the whole place together. 

The funny thing, as disgusting, messy, unhealthy and smelly as the whole ordeal was, I quite like the patterns and tones in the photo I managed to capture.   Today, I'm happy to have a new moisture resistant and propertly ventilated room and, maybe this makes me weird, but I have a snazzy print of mouldy drywall hanging on my new walls.  

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Abstract Mould Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/improper-ventilation Wed, 06 Nov 2013 20:01:27 GMT
On Flashing the Band https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/on-flashing-the-band There is a right way and a wrong way to flash the band. Both are distracting in their own ways but generally one is more accepted than the other. Having been on the receiving end of both good and bad flashes I thought I could share some insight.

The right way to flash the band often (but not always) involves the female form and a briefly exposed pair of breasts shown as appreciation for the music. It often results in many members of the band missing a note or two but overall it increases morale for the band and that results in a much better show for the audience.  Also acceptable for showing appreciation for the band is moshing, beer spitting (in some scenes) and tasteful microphone hijacking for those raucous sing along chorus.

Very important and serious side note:  Obviously I do not play in the kind of mysogynistic bands that encourage women to "show us your tits"   because we all believe breast viewings offered out of love and appreciation for the band are better than ones offered to shut the assholes on stage up.

We believe bands who piggishly demand boobie flashes from audience members should take a course on manners before being allowed back on stage.

The wrong way to flash the band has to do with photography and I can honestly say that getting blinded 97 times during a 30 minute set is 100% annoying.  (I'm not bitter, I'm just sayin it kind of sucks)  Stage lights, while hot and bright, are typically gentle enough on the eyes as long as you don't look directly at them, kinda like the sun.  On the other hand, surprising bursts of bright white light eminating from the audience and directed towards the face are both distracting and painful. They often result in missed notes from the one blinded member of the band and it makes that blinded member of the band look like a hack.  It also sucks for the audience members who happen to be stuck behind the flasher.

On the photography side, unless the photographer has a firm grasp on the technicalities, flash has a tendency to wash out the stage lights in your photos which are half the fun of photographing live music performances.  If you have to use flash (and sometimes it is necessary, especially when photographing those elusive bass players and drummers that lurk in the shadows or to achieve a certain style ) be a considerate photographer and use those bright lights sparingly or, even better, ask permission from the band first.  Remember my photographer friends, it's the band's show, not yours so try not to hog all the attention with your light show.  Super bonus points if you can remember to put the camera down and enjoy the show.



[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Concert Rant https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/11/on-flashing-the-band Mon, 04 Nov 2013 23:52:15 GMT
Failure at Vermillion Lakes https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/failure-at-vermillion-lakes Photographers will stop at nothing to get the shot they want. They attempt to defy logic, gravity, personal humiliation, personal safety, laws...and I am no exception. What a great opening hey?  I've really set you up for another story about FAILURE! 

I was on a romantic date with my husband in Banff, we were eating dinner at a pub and the sunset and golden hour, according to the sky tracker I have on my phone, was fast approaching. Mr Bastard knows me well, and as the sun started to set, and I started to twitch, he grudgingly agreed to take "just... just a wee quick little detour" on the way back to our campsite. We rushed over to Vermillion Lakes on the outskirts of town, one of the more popular photo locations around, and in typical summertime fashion the good spots were starting to fill up with photographers.

I opted for something a little different and started sneaking into the cattails to get some foreground interest.  A group of about 10 snap happy photo enthusiasts had claimed the oh so perfect pier beside me as their own, but I was on to something good. I could feel it.

I found my composition, bounced back up and down the bank for lens changes and necessary filters and I was set. The light was getting good, I was going to get the shot I wanted. I snuck a little farther into the reeds to get the composition just perfect and everything gave way. 

See the nice thing about Vermillion Lakes is that there's a hot spring feeding into it, it's especially nice in the winter because you can still get open water for reflections. In the summer, it just makes the place a bit of a smelly mess, and that's exactly what I found myself  and my tripod thigh deep in.  A smelly mess. I struggled to keep my balance and keep the camera away from the reedy, sulphur and poo smelling mud.  I somehow managed to climb out of the muck without the use of my hands while the group of photographers near by witnessed the entire ordeal.

I did not get the shot that day. I got a red face, a smelly muddy truck seat and a new pair of pants and shoes.

I learned my lesson though and waited for winter, when the marsh would be frozen over. Returned to the location and emerged triumphant with a shot in two styles.  Joke's on you swamp.

So what have we learned from this? Two things.
1. If at first you don't succeed, be patient and wait until the conditions are definitely 100% in your favour, carefully calculate your approach  and THEN try again. 

2. Don't try to pull off the "Look how cute I am! I'm covered in poo mud tee hee" thing on a romantic date, it doesn't work. 


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Banff Failure Impressionism Landscape Photography Vermillion Lakes https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/failure-at-vermillion-lakes Tue, 29 Oct 2013 19:38:03 GMT
Upper Kananaskis Lake https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/upper-kananaskis-lake I have lived in Calgary for going on 9 years now and during that time I like to think I had the place pretty well explored. I know of a lot of beautiful nooks and crannies nestled in the prairies, foothills and Rockies, perfect for landscape photography. I have traveled around British Columbia and Alberta for most of my life, leaving very few places unexplored.  So with this in mind, I am more than a bit embarrassed to admit that I had never been to Upper Kananaskis Lake until this month.  

What a stunning location. 

Actually, I'm going to say that again a little louder. What a STUNNING LOCATION

It was so stunning, after I learned of the lake I reserved a campsite near by for Thanksgiving weekend and then dragged my husband, mother in law, friend and his dog to go look at it. I clown carred my mother in law into the tiny back seat of my truck with a stranger and a dog and as far as I'm aware, I'm still in the good books. It's that beautiful. We just stood on the shore and breathed it all in.  If you are in the area, I recommend doing the same, it's good for you.


[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Alberta Kananaskis Landscape Photgraphy https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/upper-kananaskis-lake Mon, 28 Oct 2013 05:36:37 GMT
The Press Gang https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/the-press-gang I have just finished going through the photos I did recently for bringers of the heavy, staples of the Calgary punk scene for the last 7 years and all around nice guys The Press Gang.  I must admit, while going through these photos there were a number of instances where all I could do was stare at the screen in disbelief and just laugh.  Not only is the Press Gang a great band to see live, they're fantastic to work with and seeing their giggle fits and shenanigans captured on my computer screen kept me entertained long after the shoot was over. 


The Press Gang PromoThe Press Gang Promo

Out takesOut takes

Out takesOut takes

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Calgary Metal Photography Press Gang Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/the-press-gang Mon, 28 Oct 2013 05:23:50 GMT
Failure At Frank Lake https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/failure---an-ongoing-series One of the things I notice when following other photographers, is they typically don't talk about their failures, they're always going on about their successes and how damn awesome they are. I agree, they're awesome, but people who are that awesome usually have some terrible horrible secret like they're currently wearing a coat made from their neighbour's skin.

I am only awesome some of the time, other times I suck and I currently do not have a torture chamber in my home. Science.

I'll start with my failures at Frank Lake. 

Frank Lake is a lake slough south east of Calgary, loved for its great bird watching opportunities.  Now I'll admit, sometimes I have delusions of grandeur so early one cold spring morning I woke early to go photograph some birds with my measly 200mm lens. 

Failure #1. I got lost.  Fortunately, I often get lost and had budgeted "lost in the middle of the prairie at 4:30 am" into the timeline of the day. I eventually found the place just as the sun was coming up.

Failure # 2. Right in line with my delusions of grandeur, I seriously over estimated how long a 200mm lens was.  I found the birds all right, thousands of them. Geese, ducks and swans swimming and flying around all birdlike and cute.  Could I get a decent shot?  Not if my life depended on it. The whole reason for being there, kiboshed. 

Failure # 3.  Did not scout a bathroom. Granted, this failure could have ended much worse as accidents were avoided but do you know how difficult it is to locate so much as a tree on the prairies? The entire place was not designed with women in mind.

Failure # 4. This is a doozy.  I did not properly prepare myself  for tromping around a slough.  It was surprisingly freeeeeezing cold and I had not brought proper freeeeeezing cold clothing.  I also failed to pack rubber boots, which are apparently essential for tromping around a slough (pft who knew?!).  This is where the failures culminate into plain stupidity.  I didn't have proper clothing and my lens was not sufficient for what my goals for the day were, so I tip toed closer to the birds to try to get a decent photo and wound up getting sucked into the mud and water a good distance away from the truck. I ended up soaking wet in freezing weather and my feet were so unbelievably cold I had to hobble back to the truck. At that point I gave up. I also gave up my hopes for ever climbing Everest.  Evidently I don't do well with cold.

However, with every good failure, there should be a success story so as to not get you down, so I can happily say that I did come back from that trip with some of my favourite prairie landscape shots. Just no birds. Or toes. 




[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Failure Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/failure---an-ongoing-series Mon, 28 Oct 2013 04:59:29 GMT
Calgary's Flood https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/calgarys-flood When much of Southern Alberta flooded in June of 2013 I could barely sleep, I knew it was history in the making and I had to be out with my camera. I drove around for three days, running on very little sleep, taking it all in. The water rose higher and higher while the City was at a standstill, bracing for the worst. Experiencing the great flood of 2013 first hand was eerie, sad and awe inspiring.     I was able to witness strangers standing side by side on hill tops  in complete silence watching the water rise, helpless to do anything but wait and see what comes next. I was also able to witness the mindblowing amount of kindness and generosity shown by strangers from all over the city, province, country and world that could restore even the most grinchlike person's faith in humanity. 

  DAY 2 RIDERS - TheRideAB-344DAY 2 RIDERS - TheRideAB-344

The sheer amount and power of the water was hard to comprehend. It still is.  Downtown sat closed off and silent save for the sound of rushing water, sirens and distant generators furiously trying to keep flood waters at bay. The radio was a constant barrage of road closures and updates on water levels dotted with the Emergeny Broadcast System reports as one by one communities across Alberta were evacuated.



When the water receded and the damage fully revealed, it was difficult for every body. It was difficult for those who lost their loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods, their possessions. It was also difficult for the countless volunteers who helped strangers rebuild, knowing that no amount of work they do will make it hurt less for their neighbours.   The moment that the sheer amount of loss struck me was after an evening of volunteering in Bowness.  I drove past pieces of a piano that had been left curbside and I knew I had to photograph it. To me, the single image of a lost family heirloom, sitting abandoned at the side of the road embodied the loss more than any photo of a water logged basement or  mangled bridge could. I went home that night and cried. The photo is now framed and hung in my own house and serves as a reminder to be thankful for what I have. 

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Calgary Flood https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/calgarys-flood Mon, 28 Oct 2013 04:30:01 GMT
Halloween 2013 https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/halloween Playing bass in The Rigormorticians means that Halloween is the busiest time of the year for us and this year was no exception.  I'm curled up on the couch after a whirlwind weekend hosting guests, playing gigs and house parties and hauling gear all over the place.  Despite the madness, I was still able to get the camera out.

This year, the annual Halloween gig was held at Verns in Calgary with The Spastic Panthers, The Escorts and our  favourite ghouls in arms from Saskatoon The New Jacobin Club.  I could photograph The New Jacobin Club til the day I die, not only are they a fun band to see live there's something new every time I see them.  This time there were staple guns, mouse traps and grinders all wielded by one lovely lady by the name of Jennifer. I'm always surprised when the sparks start flying and my face melts but somehow my lens and camera always stay intact.  Magic how that works out.

It was a great party, though an evening at Verns always is, and an even better show with top notch performances from everybody. 

The entire set  of photos can be found here, but for now, here's two  of my favourites. 


Tom (bass) and Steve (drums) of The Escorts Fame.


Face melting Jennifer of the New Jacobin Club

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Calgary Metal Photography Punk https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/halloween Mon, 28 Oct 2013 03:50:20 GMT
I Win at the Wilderness https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/i-win-at-the-wilderness Let preface my exceedingly long story and tell you about the dream I had the night before wherein I was at the location I was going to, about to wade across the creek in fishing waders (the ones I had already packed) I stepped in, camera in hand, and found only a muddy bottom, sunk and was immediately in WAY too deep. Managed to scramble out but got my camera soaked and destroyed in the process, all while a little red Fox swam around in the creek mocking me. I woke up and said - I'm going to not going to go in the creek today as it is a stupid idea.

I woke up at 3:30 am, drove to the location (chasing a coyote a great distance down the road, similar to a fox. "Weird" I thought) showed up at the meadow I had decided on early, about an hour and half before sunrise, and started to scout a proper location, I was trying to get some leading lines towards the mountains using the creek - a creek snakes through the valley so I figured it should be easy. I spotted some suitable areas and started making my way over to it, but the meadow was a lot marshier than I had expected and reaching the water not as simple as I'd hoped. I wasn't going to venture too far away from safety at that time of day.   I spotted a nice big rock to use as foreground interest instead and started making my way over. 

I was pretty close to the rock, when it MOVED AND LOOKED AT ME. I froze. A Moose! No A Bear! (shit) No.....A Moose! I apologized to the moose, announcing my presence and backed off to a safe distance to take non-foreground interest photos instead. (they sucked)After a while, the moose wandered away.

I was about two feet from the creek behind me snapping away when I just happened to take a shot of the bridge over the creek behind me when the moose - hereinafter referred to as "Mooshole" reappeared at the bridge - blocking the only way I had out of the meadow and back to my truck. 

That (expletive deleted) had circled through the nearby lodge parking lot to come and corner me, try to do a ninja sneak attack from behind. 

So I did what any of you would do and switched to my telephoto lens all the while talking REALLY REALLY LOUDLY to the Mooshole. Normally, that would scare an animal away because people = scary but not this Mooshole. It's sexy season for animals like that so Moosholes are more full of rage than normal (I'm talking in my serious voice here - Moose are some of the most dangerous animals you will find in the mountains because they can fly off the handle as quickly as that crazy steroid guy you see at your gym, except Moose are way more buff than that guy) Instead of running away from me and my scary voice, Mooshole started coming closer... and closer...and closer ... and closer. It just wasn't backing off at all.

At this point I was weighing my rather meagre escape options. I could use the backpack full of camera gear to try to protect myself from the rage trampling I was about to receive. I wasn't sure insurance would cover my camera in case of moose tramplings though.  (Note to self: Call insurance broker next week, have cameras covered in case of moose tramplings)  Or, I could make a dash for it down the embankment and through the creek behind me, but according to the dream I just had, that wasn't much of a good idea either. I'd rather die a horrible painful death than get my camera wet. Priorities.  (No. I did not think to use the bear spray I had, don't know if it would have worked anyway, might just make Mooshole angrier and more tramply)  Mooshole made it about 15 feet away from me before finally moving on. (Just a quick calculation for you - 15 feet from a Moose equals about "holy $&^@ I'm going to die" in Metric.)

Once Mooshole was a safe distance away I called it a string of choice words, went over the bridge back to my truck and called it quits on that location.

Here is a comparison for you:

Safe Distance - Moose @ 200 mm

Mooshole is running away in this photo because I hurt her feelings

Super Uncool Not Safe Distance - Moose @ 55mm

Adrenaline is the worst contributing factor to camera shake.  Before your next shoot, try taking a strong sedative to improve your photography.

The worst part - the sunrise was boooooring, all that work for nothing. And yes, after that I had a pretty good adventure while staying safely beside my truck, but I'm probably not going on any early morning solo adventures for a while.

[email protected] (Llisa Bastard Photography) Failure Kananaskis Moose Photography https://www.llisabastard.com/blog/2013/10/i-win-at-the-wilderness Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:40:21 GMT