Woofers! This dog is expressive.

This is Chester. He’s an 8 year old Australian Sheppard who just couldn’t wait for us to say ‘go play in the water’.

Chester was AH-Mazing to work with. Yes, he did get a lot of treats to model but he busted out some crazy smiles, drools and poses. Did I say model? Haha!! I let dogs be dogs and I go with the flow. If Chester wanted to sit and smile than I took his picture. If he wanted to run and be goofy I let him be because I want photos to be real. And, Chester didn’t disappoint.

I’m an outdoor person and inclement weather doesn’t bother me. Nor does it bother your dog (usually). I’m available to immortalize your furry friend and their big personality in a series of photos that I know you’ll love. Let’s talk. I’d love to hear from you.

Real Life, Real Photos, Real Time.

 

Syéx̱w Chó:leqw Adventure Park

There’s a new Adventure Park in town and I openly admit I cannot remember how to pronounce it.

What I can tell you though is that it lies half way between Agassiz and Hope, BC, and, it’s chock-full of goodness for art lovers, nature lovers and mountain bikers.

I was commissioned by the BC Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program to take photos of the parks opening celebration September 14, 2018. The AYMBP are mountain bikers, coaches and community leaders who support and encourage Aboriginal youth and communities to participate and excel in the sport of mountain biking. They work with First Nations communities to encourage their people to get outside and reconnect with nature and live healthier active lives. The trails were built and designed by the AYMBP and the good people at First Journey Trails. These two groups are pretty cool in my books!!

I was most impressed at how the creators weaved the trails with the arts. From painted bridges to wooden carvings, the park offers a unique outdoor experience with an educational component to entice all levels of art connoisseurs as well as respecting the land, and the culture, on which the trails are built on. The carvings are influenced by the forests, the surrounding wildlife and lifestyle of the Coast Salish.

The park is family friendly. It’s a perfect place to introduce shredders to mountain biking. The relatively smooth terrain will allow them to learn the basics and keep them happy. The trails are challenging enough to build endurance and will also allow for a safe progression into the more technical  skills park area. Along with a 90,000 square foot children’s park, the big kid in you and your children will be happy.

 

Horse Power

This is Laird. He’s a 20 year old stallion and he’s majestic.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take photos of a few horses. I loved every minute of it for several reasons:

  1. Like most girls, I always wanted a horse. But, growing up in an inner-city Toronto neighborhood that wasn’t going to happen. I did ask my grandfather in France to get a horse instead of all the cows he kept on the farm. But, that didn’t work either. Probably because the tractor had already replaced his horse a long time ago and, most likely, because I was only there for 3 weeks.
  2. It was a challenge. Horses, unlike mountain bikes or motorcycles, have a mind of their own and they are 1500+ lbs of pure muscle.

But, I like a challenge. I had already envisioned the type of photo I wanted to create and capture. I purposely chose a black background for Laird because, well, he’s black, and I thought that suited him, but also because he exudes confidence. With minimal detail in the photo I found it was a colour he could pull off largely because of his personality.

I am quite comfortable taking photos of 2-wheeled machines and used that experience to help me take photos of these 4-legged creatures (gasp! How dare I compare a horse to a bike). In all honesty though, in the world of photography, horses and bikes really aren’t that different. Many of the same photographic principles (technique, composition, lens choice) apply. I knew what lens would make him look his best and where to place the strobes to highlight and give depth to his coat. I also understood where I should aim the camera to compliment him.

I will be the first to admit that taking photos of bikes is far easier than taking photos of horses. Horses don’t perk their ears forward on demand, nor do they turn their neck when asked. And, at the slightest hint of fear or the unknown those ears go back fast and their nostrils flare which doesn’t make for flattering photos. While there are tricks (and, we used them all) patience is key for a successful, and safe, portrait.

Luckily, for me…I like horses and I have patience. As did the handler and co-owner of Laird, Candice. A mighty big thank you to her for her assistance handling her horse, and her endless supply of carrots and mints while I worked the camera and the flash.

I would love to have the opportunity to work with your horse. If you would be interested in a photo session please feel free to contact me so we can talk about what you can expect, how long it will take, prices and what type of photo you are after.

Thanks for reading!

Cecile

 

 

Mount Robson with an iPhone 7+

I left my cameras at home and relied solely on my iPhone 7+.

I recently took a 3 day camping trip into Mount Robson’s provincial park with my family. As my kids are still young they can only carry so much. We, the parents, have to carry the rest. So, I decided to leave my cameras at home in lieu of food, and clothing for chilly (and rainy,) September days.

Did I make the right decision? My back says yes. Would I have liked my big, heavy, cumbersome Nikon DSLR or even my smaller Fuji XT-2? Of course, but the ease of whipping out my iPhone from my pocket and not having to carry heavy gear in an already heavy backpack full of camping equipment was really, really nice.

I’m amazed at what cell phones can do these days and I really wanted to push myself and the phone to what it could do. I learned how to make the phone work for my style of photography. I like to take energetic photos but cell phones don’t typically do well freezing motion so you have to work around that. Example, I usually have my subject ride, or walk towards (or away) from me. Or, if they ride parallel to me I pan with them before I release the shutter. I also love the pano(rama) mode. But, it’s easy to over do the length of the shot and you have to constrain yourself.

I don’t have the latest phone out there and the photos are standard JPEGS. But, the photos are pretty good, IMO. It’s not until I zoom in close do I really see a difference in quality and detail. In other words, if you plan on keeping the photos for memories and sharing through various social media platforms than by all means – cell phone pics are great. If, however, I wanted to sell a photo, or print larger than a 4×6 than no. It all depends on the photo’s end use.

 

I Suck at Trials (me not them)

Fifty-one thousand, two hundred!!

Whaaat?

No, no…not him. It’s me just nerding out on some photo talk. Anytime I can mix in 2 wheels with photography I’m in heaven. I loved getting back behind the lens and in front of the action. Even in the rain, as it did this past weekend during a very important event that saw the best North American riders travel compete for an FIM Trials competition, and the CMA National Championships in Ioco, BC. Having the opportunity to watch the number 1 plate, Pat Smage from the USA, and our very own homegrown riders was indeed a treat and a very real reminder that I suck on the trials bike.

I made a conscious decision to not take photos close to the start line so I could be away from the masses. Instead I hiked deep into the woods to find the magic, the eye-candy – the lush, green, mossy rocks and massive tree-trunks – that BC rain forests are known for. I was rewarded with sublime colours, unequivocal quietness and unreal action as riders either scampered easily over boulders or, sampled dirt. The light was even but very sombre. I didn’t want to use flash so I could move easily in and out of sections and, relied instead on my D5. It’s a powerful camera and much like a rider with his motorcycle you have to know your equipment and, what it can and can’t do. Today I pushed it shooting in constant hard rain, and with high ISO’s.

The riders completed three loops and as fatigue set in the course became slicker as rain fell harder. Real giant bunny rabbits. That’s what trials riders remind me of hopping from one area to another. And, then there are splatters. Rabbits don’t do these (well, not on purpose) and it baffles my mind how suspension and gonads can work together to climb a vertical wall. Way cool.

Thanks to Christie Williams Richards, Steve Farcy and a host of other fine people from the CPTA for making this event happen. It takes a lot of planning, and time to put together a successful two day event. Getting off a mostly dry season I believe many riders were humbled at the sight of greasy rocks and roots. Made for an excellent challenge and show.

The photo of Wojo falling was taken at 51, 200 ISO. I know my equipment and I didn’t hesitate shooting at an ISO this high.

 

 

Skinning with the Kids!

No, this isn’t a click-bait article and we did in fact go skinning with the kids this past weekend. It was our first time skiing in the backcountry as a family and as the term skinning suggests we skinned up and we skied down.

Before we got ourselves into trouble though we decided to hire a guide because we like our lives. Neither my husband or myself have our avalanche training so we played it safe. Our guide, Jean-Francois of Coast Mountain Guides, was friendly, knowledgeable, great with kids (he’s got two himself) and he speaks both French and English! As well as guiding us he also educated us on safety, snow packs, contour lines, weather and beacon training throughout the day. No wonder my little one didn’t want to go to school Monday morning. He most likely learned more in the 7 hours we were out over a week of school.

Backcountry skiing is something my husband and I had wanted to do for a while but had to wait for our children to be old enough. We like the idea of being able to go where few people do, surrounded by snow capped mountains and skiing in pristine powder. Our youngest is now 8 and our oldest is 10. They both ski very well and have no issues on single blacks at Whistler Blackcomb. Jean-Francois catered the route towards the kids to keep them happy so they would want to go again. Both kids were enthusiastic. Annnnd then we had lunch when our oldest decided to bust out the rescue shovel to create snow-furniture so he could sit properly to eat his lunch and our youngest – well – he just decided to dig a hole in the snow at the edge of the lake and dangle his feet in the slush. Ugh.

After lunch we skied out of the valley and towards our final climb of the day which would lead us to what JF affectionately called ‘Moon Rocks’. This would take us into our final descent out of the backcountry and into Blackcombs’ in-bound ski area. This is where ‘mommy-dearest’ fell one more time proving that I really suck at steep, narrow shoots. Let it be known that on Sunday, February 11, 2018 my kids have officially become better skiers than me. And for the record, I’d like to blame it on my skis that are 10cm longer than what I’m used to.

For equipment, we outfitted ourselves with brand new miss-drilled skis – David’s were 50% off the ticketed price – and backcountry style bindings with pins. All my gear were misfits as well – miss-drilled, miss-used and near misses. But, they were on sale. We found used rental boots, also on sale, and they didn’t stink. In fact, I don’t believe they were used more than 3-4 times as there were very little scuff marks. For our youngest we found a pair of new 2016 boots online. This was the last pair and on discount. We also hit the Whistler Blackcomb Outlet Store in Squamish and found a pair of used Atomic powder skis for the kids – fairly light and fat. For the bindings we bought new from Hagan – a small Austrian based company selling backcountry equipment with a US distributor. The bindings are relatively light, and versatile – fitting smaller boot sizes with a DIN from 2 to 7. We should be able to get 2-4 years before they out grow them.

We had an amazing time. My husband will be taking an avi course and I will follow up with mine soon after. This was an unforgettable experience that the entire family enjoyed. It doesn’t come without dangers though. Safety and experience is essential and not something to skimp on. If you don’t know your way around the back country than hire a guide. That’s what they are there for!

See what I did there? I put in that sentence about dangers so that you don’t attack me in the courts. I told you, and you read my post.

Interested in documenting your adventures or vacations? Or, having that unique family portrait that isn’t staged? I’m good at this. Let’s talk.

 

Dog Gone It. That was a Fun Ride!

 

Dog Gone It! That was a FUN Ride with the pups!

Over the past few weeks I have been meeting and documenting some pretty hardcore 4-legged friends that can seriously shred the gnar. I’ve watched them hop, run, walk, play, eat, and even steal doggie treats out of my camera bag.

In preparation for an upcoming article with Mountain Bike For Her I turned to social media to find my eager models (2 and 4 legged ones). Riding again with a furry friend made me think a lot of our family dog when we used to take her riding. How she loved it. And how I loved watching her gracefully clear fallen trees yet aggressively tackling a tight turn. I marvel at a dogs athleticism…and their ability to find the route of least resistance. I’ve always said that if you want to win a DH race follow your dog. It might not always make sense but it’s fast.

These action shots weren’t easy to get and I cannot wait to show you the rest once the summer issue of MTB4Her comes out. In other words, can’t release the ‘hounds’ just yet. Get it? Anyways, I’ve got some real beauties and am totally stoked at the results.

Thanks to my new furry and non-furry friends for making this real. Your exuberance is infectious. Let’s go ride again!!

Woof!

 

Following the Udovics at Big White

I recently had the opportunity to photograph the Udovic family at Big White ski resort in BC, Canada. Following this family required me to be my best in moguls, narrow runs and all types of weather conditions as we endured fog, rain, icy conditions, wind and finally sun.

My focus was to get a few group photos of the family with the intention that they could print one to hang on a wall in their home. As well, as getting a few shots of the family in action.

Aside from a (few) bathroom breaks this family can SHRED!!! It was awesome to see both the almost 5 and 7 year olds rip down the hill with steeze and control. So good to see!!

Thanks to the Udovics for a great time on the slopes!! If you and your family would like photos of your family in action – ski, mountain bike, hike, snowshoe etc. – drop me a line. I would love to document your family’s adventure, vacation or day.

Cecile

The Winter Blues Got You Down? Trying Riding. It’s a Bonafide Cure!

Winter. It’s cold and it’s beautiful. And just because there’s snow it shouldn’t mean you should stop riding.

The Bike:

For snow…fatter is better.

Honestly, I had no idea that fat-bikes were a game changer until I tried my friends’ Rick on a wet-snow kinda day. I was squirrely riding down on my regular mountain bike and barely making the uphills. The fatter tires in comparison gave me stability, control, traction and renewed confidence.

As much as I’d love to own my own fat-bike my bank account says otherwise. And I hate cheap, heavy equipment. Call me a snob but over the years I have gotten used to quality. So I rent. I found Flying Spirit Rentals based in Squamish, BC. They have high-end rentals. I can also rent bikes at the Whistler Olympic Park. They have both electric assist and non-assist bikes. And don’t think that having an e-bike is cheating. Riding in snow is just as hard regardless of your choice of weapon.

The Clothing:

I layer. And I usually have a big honking backpack with me to carry both my camera gear, food and extra clothes. I like to wear my ski helmet and goggles on colder days. I also find the goggles provide better protection on sunny days with a high UV factor and brightness from the snow.

For my feet I have a pair of 45NRTH Wölvhammer winter boots. They are equipped with Shimano SPD’s. And they rock. Warm, waterproof, rugged and built for cold, winter days. If I’m on flats I use a pair of warm, waterproof winter boots. While climbing clipless pedals make the job easier I also like the freedom of flats. On warmer days snow can also ice up rendering cleats useless.

On my face I always wear a balaclava. This is mostly because I’m a wimp to the cold and hate having chapped lips. But the main reason is to keep my cheeks warm so that the air entering my lungs has been warmed up slightly. For asthmatics this is important. Wheezing is not fun.

Finally, on my hands I alternate between a pair of Pearl Izumi Lobster Claws and a pair of Black Diamond gloves which are water resistant and windproof. In my bag I always carry an extra set of gloves as well as an extra pair of socks. Just in case.

The Fun-Factor:

The fun-factor is high. Very high. As is the sense of adventure and exploration. Skiing is fun too but the bicycle can take you places and it’s always an adventure. There are days when you can slice through powder and other days when the you get all squirrely. There are also crashes. But they usually don’t hurt.

So you see riding in winter doesn’t have to be scary. You just need to be prepared and have a positive attitude. Besides with a fat-bike you can ride anywhere you want, any time you want!

Letting Kids be Kids

© Cecile Gambin PhotographyI love how innocent kids are and I love watching them being kids and playing as they should.

My children and myself found a rather large patch of tall, dry grass and an abundance of rocks while on a modified hike atop Grouse Mountain. I say modified because we never made it to where we had intended to go but, instead, found laughter and fun as they began to play hide-and-seek, and tag. Seriously, why drag them into a hike when clearly they were having more fun here? And, without them knowing it, getting more exercise as they ran up and down the mountain side.

Within time, a young girl and her family came along and asked if she could play with my two boys. While her mother and I talked the kids played, laughed, shared, ran and jumped.

I grew up in an apartment in a rough Toronto neighborhood and to this day the most fun I had were those years where I did just what my children were doing – being kids. I ran up six flight of stairs and raced down them as fast as I could (elevators were boring); I climbed trees, we played British Bull-Dog, Cowboys and Indians, climbed trees, jumped our bikes over our friends and, generally, ran lots. I wasn’t involved in team sports, nor had a plethora of afterschool activities but I did climb school roof tops to retrieve tennis balls and I also clearly remember crumpling up pieces newspaper and lighting them on fire in our building’s underground garage (right behind parked cars no less). While perhaps that wasn’t the swiftest thing I ever did (and really hope my own children don’t do that) I also remember setting off the buildings outdoor sprinkler system to jump over the stream of water as it rotated. Hours of fun.

My point is, today children are taxied left, right and center. Whether it’s a music lesson, a soccer or hockey practice, gymnastics, swimming, or art clubs it seems to me that kids are no longer kids. A chance to laugh, play, be with friends, share, talk, run, fall, and cry. The chance to socialise and to make friends on their own terms seems to be lost. The opportunity to make up games, play make-believe and run for fun is disappearing and replaced by a generation with their heads stuck in their mobile devices.

Find a playground. Let your kids play good old-fashion games and join in on the fun. Cuts, bruises, tears and messes. It’s all good. And if you can find an old sprinkler system put a popsicle stick in them to set them off…and run away quickly. Tons of fun and great exercise too.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography