Sunday morning, we got up early enough so we could arrive at our first stop, Johnston Canyon just as the sun was coming up. It was a canyon afterall so the light would help but by getting there early, we could also beat the crowds. That was the plan anyway.

This was my first canyon experience I think. I’m not really sure what I was expecting – I guess I just associate trails with hiking. Most of the trail to the lower falls though was made up of bridges and walkways hanging off the side of the rock.

Thankfully I do better with heights now that I went skydiving because the walkways had grated bottoms for portions of it so you could see straight down – which is pretty far. The water was crystal clear here as well and didn’t look real.

When we got to the lower falls, we crossed another bridge and there was small cave to walk through to get another vantage point of the falls.

The water was so white that it looked super fake using my phone’s my auto white balance.

Once Cory got his shot set up on the bridge, he left me with his wireless remote to make sure it kept running while he went to the other side of the cave.

All of a sudden, a swarm of people showed up and flooded the bridge. I have never seen Cory move so fast or smoothly with a decked out camera on a tripod through a crowd on a narrow bridge.

As they were all taking pictures, we thought about packing up to try and beat them to the upper falls. But Cory still hadn’t gotten his photo so we decided we would just wait them out. It’s a good thing we did because they were gone as quickly as they came – all in all probably just a minute or two so Cory reset his shot.

Once he had what he wanted, we packed up and headed back on the trail. Since we had time, we ventured off the trail to get a shot of the base of the canyon. One of the reasons I like watching Cory photograph is because you literally never know where he will end up by the time he decides on his framing. If it wasn’t for his blue coat, sometimes I think I would lose him.

 

Next we headed for the car. I wanted to get a picture of us at every trail we went on and I almost forgot! So we snapped a quick one in the car because it was too cold to actually get out again once we had de-layered.

We went back to the cabin to change out of hiking gear and grabbed a quick bite to eat. Then we headed off to the film festival.

The showing opened with the festival intro featuring highlights from all the films showing throughout the week. It was incredibly well done. I suggest watching it. From connecting camera movements, to eye movements, to sound design, to visual interplay with the music – it was amazing. It’s long because of the middle section featuring all the sponsors but the actual trailer part of it – so good.

For this program, we saw 4 films centered around the theme of struggle. I chose this set of films for the theme (because how can you not be inspired) but also there were some foreign directors and DPs for these. I always love seeing their work because it’s always different from what I’m used to and a lot of times the style of how I shoot as well.

My favorite by far was Tarfala (the trailer is available online). It was shot by Johannes Östergård and it was nothing short of amazing. It’s about a guy who lives north of the Arctic Circle to take care of a hiking hut. The way he made you visually feel the loneliness, the coldness, the brutal elements of that environment was incredible. He did a really great job of using framing as well as silence to tell the story. That was my favorite.

After these, we went to Eddie’s Burger Bar for an early dinner. It was a bar turned burger restaurant. And as you probably guessed, we got burgers.

We had tickets for another showing, this time a feature length film: Blood Road. I knew if nothing else, this would be visually pleasing because it was put out by Red Bull Media House. I wasn’t disappointed on that aspect. Drone shots, go pro shots, epic shots, slow motion – the usual Red Bull stuff.

I had high hopes for this film because it was the only one I saw that had a strong female storyline. Unfortunately, the main subject had a hard time opening up and being vulnerable on camera which was only made more obvious when they used her cycling partner to verbally tell the audience how she was struggling. So it was pointed out twice basically which is one of my biggest pet peeves.

I also struggled with the story. The whole point of her journey was to get to her father’s crash site half way down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. But since the film started out talking about how important it was to her to ride the whole trail, 85% of the movie was about her getting to the crash site and then exploring it. Then all of a sudden, they threw a bunch of montage stuff in to get her to the end of the trail (and the film) where everyone was waiting and smiling and happy and then they let the credits role. It was a bit of whiplash.

After the film, Cory and I went back to an overlook we had scouted out earlier in the day so he could get a night shot of Banff. The moon was so bright though, that we didn’t even need our headlamps. Sadly this made the stars not quite as bright in Cory’s photo (below).

After this, we called it a night and headed back to the Beaver Cabins.

If you want to see more of Cory’s pictures, check out his website or his blog for more stories.

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