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Closing one door to open another

I didn’t expect to leave Peace River after eight months.

There were several competing circumstances, which eventually led to my decision to change jobs. I have now been in my new home, Whitecourt, Alta. about 300 km southeast of Peace River, or 175 km northwest of Edmonton working at the Whitecourt Star, the weekly newspaper in town, for just over a month.

More to come on Whitecourt, though in another post – for now a wrap up of Peace River.

Below is the text of my final column in the Record-Gazette, it sums up my feelings on leaving the town pretty well. Below that, are a bunch of photos from the summer in Peace River, June – until my departure in early September.

The opening ceremonies of the first day of the Peace River Pow Wow hosted at the fairgrounds in Peace River Alta. on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

The opening ceremonies of the first day of the Peace River Pow Wow hosted at the fairgrounds in Peace River Alta. on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From the Peace River Record-Gazette Sept. 10, 2014

Well Peace River this is it for us.

This will be my final column in the Peace River Record-Gazette and this is the final issue I will be working on.

Starting this Wednesday I will be taking up a position at the Whitecourt Star.

Peace River will forever hold a special place in my heart. Not just because this was my first full-time job in journalism but because Peace River is a truly special place.

This is a town where a trip to the grocery store can involve seeing the northern lights, deer, or a moose or two.

It’s a place of immense natural beauty coupled with great opportunity. Not every small-town is like that.

One of the indicators I noticed are the number of young professionals in town who are from town. The number of kids who move away for post-secondary then return to pursue a career here must be disproportionate, compared to other similar sized towns.

What it says, is that even after ‘getting out,’ seeing the world, and living in the city, lots of the youth still want to come back.

That really says a lot about this place.

What is stunning is the self-awareness of the people here as well. Many of the people I talk to understand not only what a gift a place like this is but also the responsibility it entails.

You see that in the community groups that spring up and the ability of the community to fundraise for certain projects.

Urban centres would pay untold amounts of money to have this kind of community spirit and Peace River has it in spades.

It’s going to take a while to digest all the things that Peace River has taught me.

However, to everyone in this community I want to say thank you, thank you for reading, thank you for caring and thank you for being you.

For all of us here at the Record-Gazette, you stay classy Peace River.

– Adam Dietrich

Mona Weaver has Botox injected during the opening of Zen Spa in Peace River Alberta, on Thursday June 5, 2014. Botox is one of the new services the spa offered. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Mona Weaver has Botox injected during the opening of Zen Spa in Peace River Alberta, on Thursday June 5, 2014. Botox is one of the new services the spa offered. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Neil Parman, a crane operator and inventor, races one of his inventions called a 'head sled' down 99 Avenue in Peace River Alberta on Thursday June 5, 2014. Parman, who is from Nanaimo British Colombia was in Peace River to help with the maintenance at the DMI pulp mill outside of town. The sled can reach speeds of over 90 km/h.  Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Neil Parman, a crane operator and inventor, races one of his inventions called a ‘head sled’ down 99 Avenue in Peace River Alberta on Thursday June 5, 2014. Parman, who is from Nanaimo British Columbia was in Peace River to help with the maintenance at the DMI pulp mill outside of town. The sled can reach speeds of over 90 km/h. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From left to right, drag queen Victoria SecRet, Amber Pratt, Mayor Tom Tarpey and Ashley Pratt lead the Peace Regional Pride Parade through downtown Peace River Alberta on Saturday June 7, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From left to right, drag queen Victoria SecRet, Amber Pratt, Mayor Tom Tarpey and Ashley Pratt lead the Peace Regional Pride Parade through downtown Peace River Alberta on Saturday June 7, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Half marathon runners run down the dyke path at the start of the Heritage Run in Peace River Alta. on Sunday June 8, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Half marathon runners run down the dyke path at the start of the Heritage Run in Peace River Alta. on Sunday June 8, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

 From left, Ali Dalman and Ming Gaunt work to prepare pizza dough in the back of Matt's Pizza prior to opening on Saturday, June 14, 2014 in north-end Peace River, Alberta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From left, Ali Dalman and Ming Gaunt work to prepare pizza dough in the back of Matt’s Pizza prior to opening on Saturday, June 14, 2014 in north-end Peace River, Alberta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Braider Cyrina Bull, a Cree dancer from Red Pheasant, Sask. braids the hair of Ojibway dancer Rolanda Wilson from Fox Lake, Alta. while Cyrina's son, Bradson Crain watches from the trunk of the car, on the second day of a Pow Wow hosted at the fairgrounds in Peace River Alta. on Sunday, June 15, 2014.  Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Braider Cyrina Bull, a Cree dancer from Red Pheasant, Sask. braids the hair of Ojibway dancer Rolanda Wilson from Fox Lake, Alta. while Cyrina’s son, Bradson Crain watches from the trunk of the car, on the second day of a Pow Wow hosted at the fairgrounds in Peace River Alta. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Elder Stan Testawich from Duncan's First Nation is pictured at his campsite at the Peace River Pow Wow in Peace River Alta. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. The pow-wow included a gathering of elders from all over, Testawich was one of the ones who made the journey. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Elder Stan Testawich from Duncan’s First Nation is pictured at his campsite at the Peace River Pow Wow in Peace River Alta. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. The pow-wow included a gathering of elders from all over, Testawich was one of the ones who made the journey. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

 Muhammad Ashiq, left, prays with fellow Muslims at the Peace River Islamic Centre in Peace River, Alta. on Friday, June 20, 2014. Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, began on June 28, 2014. During Ramada, Muslims fast and abstain from all food and water from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. In Peace River, a small group of Muslims hold weekly prayers, alternating each week who leads the prayer. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Muhammad Ashiq, left, prays with fellow Muslims at the Peace River Islamic Centre in Peace River, Alta. on Friday, June 20, 2014. Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, began on June 28, 2014. During Ramadan, Muslims fast and abstain from all food and water from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. In Peace River, a small group of Muslims hold weekly prayers, alternating each week who leads the prayer. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Luminaries, used as memorials by those who have been affected by cancer, are pictured next to the Glenmary High School track, while walkers from the Relay for Life walk it during the Relay for Life on Friday, June 20, 2014 in Peace River Alta. After taking 2013 off, the relay this in 2014 hoped to raise $25,000 for cancer research and they succeeded by raising $36,666. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Luminaries, used as memorials by those who have been affected by cancer, are pictured next to the Glenmary High School track, while walkers from the Relay for Life walk it during the Relay for Life on Friday, June 20, 2014 in Peace River Alta. After taking 2013 off, the relay this year head hoped to raise $25,000 for cancer research – they succeeded by raising $36,666. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Luminaries, used as memorials by those who have been affected by cancer and bearing personal messages, are pictured next to the Glenmary High School track, during the Relay for Life on Friday, June 20, 2014 in Peace River Alta. The relay raised over $36,000 for cancer research. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Luminaries, used as memorials by those who have been affected by cancer and bearing personal messages, are pictured next to the Glenmary High School track, during the Relay for Life on Friday, June 20, 2014 in Peace River Alta. The relay raised over $36,000 for cancer research. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From left, Aireen Gorman, her daughter Kimberly and her son Clarke play with bubbles during the Relay for life at the Glenmary High School track in Peace River Alta. on Friday, June 20, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From left, Aireen Gorman, her daughter Kimberly and her son Clarke play with bubbles during the Relay for life at the Glenmary High School track in Peace River Alta. on Friday, June 20, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

High Level Aurora Boriellas' Kiw'd Up, falls to the ground during the Solstice Slam Jam roller derby at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River, Alta. on Saturday, June 21, 2014. Roller Derby, typically popular in urban areas, is starting to gain popularity in Alberta's north. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

High Level Aurora Boriellas’ Kiw’d Up, falls to the ground during the Solstice Slam Jam roller derby at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River, Alta. on Saturday, June 21, 2014. Roller Derby, typically popular in urban areas, is starting to gain popularity in Alberta’s north. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Elder Dave Matilpi performs a dance, in front of a crowd of Good Shepherd elementary school students, on the last day of the Sagitawa and DMI living tipi village at Misery Mountain ski hill in Peace River, Alta. on Thursday June 26, 2014. The event was meat to promote reading, literacy and awareness of Aboriginal history. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Elder Dave Matilpi performs a dance, in front of a crowd of Good Shepherd elementary school students, on the last day of the Sagitawa and DMI living tipi village at Misery Mountain ski hill in Peace River, Alta. on Thursday June 26, 2014. The event was meat to promote reading, literacy and awareness of Aboriginal history. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From left, Tyler Adamson, Brianna Thibault and Lisa Wedderburn participate in an event called 'Run and Scream,' which helps build endurance on the last day of the Sagitawa and DMI living tipi village at Misery Mountain ski hill in Peace River, Alta. on Thursday June 26, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

From left, Tyler Adamson, Brianna Thibault and Lisa Wedderburn participate in an event called ‘Run and Scream,’ which helps build endurance on the last day of the Sagitawa and DMI living tipi village at Misery Mountain ski hill in Peace River, Alta. on Thursday June 26, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

A security guard from Patman Productions is tended to after his leg was broken while trying to remove an unruly person from the Peace Fest beer garden on Saturday, July 12, 2014 in Peace River, Alta Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

A security guard from Patman Productions is tended to after his leg was broken while trying to remove an unruly person from the Peace Fest beer garden on Saturday, July 12, 2014 in Peace River, Alta Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

A Peace River firefighter checks out a RCAF Snowbird on display at the Peace Regional Air Show on Sunday, July 13, 201 in Peace River, Alta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

A Peace River firefighter checks out a RCAF Snowbird on display at the Peace Regional Air Show on Sunday, July 13, 201 in Peace River, Alta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Steven Turner, from Cochrane, Alta. tries to wrestle a steer during the second day of the North Peace Rodeo on Saturday August 2, 2014 at Lac Cardinal in Grimshaw, Alta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Steven Turner, from Cochrane, Alta. tries to wrestle a steer during the second day of the North Peace Rodeo on Saturday August 2, 2014 at Lac Cardinal in Grimshaw, Alta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Left to right, Nicholas Lavoucan and Bryn Lizotte both 15-years-old from Peace River and Jesse Lawson, also 15, from Grimshaw, watch as Darren Kramer, from the Ottawa Senators, demonstrates a drill during a morning dry land hockey camp at Glenmary high school field in Peace River, Alta. on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Kramer, who is originally from Peace River, helped to coach a six-week skills camp for elite Peace Country hockey players by using some of his conditioning knowledge learned in the NHL. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Left to right, Nicholas Lavoucan and Bryn Lizotte both 15-years-old from Peace River and Jesse Lawson, also 15, from Grimshaw, watch as Darren Kramer, from the Ottawa Senators, demonstrates a drill during a morning dry land hockey camp at Glenmary high school field in Peace River, Alta. on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Kramer, who is originally from Peace River, helped to coach a six-week skills camp for elite Peace Country hockey players by using some of his conditioning knowledge learned in the NHL. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Dennis Simoneau, one of the co-owner's of Simoneau's Honey Buzziness in St. Isidore, Alta. checks on his bees. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Dennis Simoneau, one of the co-owner’s of Simoneau’s Honey Buzziness in St. Isidore, Alta. checks on his bees. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Dennis Simoneau, one of the co-owner's of Simoneau's Honey Buzziness in St. Isidore, Alta. drives back from his bee field with his dog after checking on his bees. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Dennis Simoneau, one of the co-owner’s of Simoneau’s Honey Buzziness in St. Isidore, Alta. drives back from his bee hives with his dog after checking on his bees. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Jessica Raymond, from Peace River, celebrates completing the Paddle the Peace event in Peace River, Alta. on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Jessica Raymond, from Peace River, celebrates after completing the Paddle the Peace event in Peace River, Alta. on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Parmdalip Goais runs through a field outside St. Isidore, Alta. during the Guru Nanak Shahi Langar celebration at Hilltop Auto Wreckers on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. The event is a Sikh religious and community event where a member of the community opens a free kitchen to the community. Sikhs from Alberta and B.C. came to celebrate. Non-Sikhs from the region also came out to join in the event, which was organized by Bill Singh Dhaliwal, who owns the auto wreckers. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Parmdalip Goais runs through a field outside St. Isidore, Alta. during the Guru Nanak Shahi Langar celebration at Hilltop Auto Wreckers on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. The event is a Sikh religious and community event where a member of the community opens a free kitchen to the community. Sikhs from Alberta and B.C. came to celebrate. Non-Sikhs from the region also came out to join in the event, which was organized by Bill Singh Dhaliwal, who owns the auto wreckers. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Jesse Labatiuk drinks some water before starting the bicycle portion of the TriRiver Triathlon on Peace River, Alta. on Sunday Aug. 24, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Jesse Labatiuk drinks some water before starting the bicycle portion of the TriRiver Triathlon in Peace River, Alta. on Sunday Aug. 24, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

People in a boat fish in the Peace River on Tuesday afternoon in Peace River on Sept. 2, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

People in a boat fish in the Peace River on Tuesday afternoon in Peace River on Sept. 2, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

The Northern Lights are pictured over the Peace River, near the north-end boat launch in the town of Peace River, Alta. early on Thursday morning, Aug. 28, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

The Northern Lights are pictured over the Peace River, near the north-end boat launch in the town of Peace River, Alta. early on Thursday morning, Aug. 28, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency

Well that’s it.

Next post will be about Whitecourt I guess.

Adam Dietrich


Spring forward

May started off hot and dry. It was the firs month where the weather started to feel like spring, every week.

I started driving with the window down.

So one day when I spotted a huge plume of smoke coming from the other end of town I assumed a field was on fire.

As I pulled up to the scene, I realized I was right, sort of.

There was a field on fire but it was a controlled burn. The hot dry conditions had prompted local fire firefighters, with some help from Provincial wildfire fighters, to start burning large swaths of land around town.

The problem was the wild grass grows right up to a subdivision, so if a wildfire had started, it could very quickly spread to the homes and engulf them. By burning it in a controlled manner, they reduced the risk dramatically.

Justin Dobratz sprays water on a controlled hazard reduction burn in the town of Peace River, Alberta's south-end on Thursday May 1, 2014. Firefighters from the Peace River Fire Department and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development burnt away dead brush in a controlled manner. The brush posed a wildfire hazard to the homes nearby so it was removed. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Justin Dobratz sprays water on a controlled hazard reduction burn in the town of Peace River, Alberta’s south-end on Thursday May 1, 2014. Firefighters from the Peace River Fire Department and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development burnt away dead brush in a controlled manner. The brush posed a wildfire hazard to the homes nearby so it was removed. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

That same day while driving, I spotted Danny. Danny is – an interesting character. He is a philosopher of sorts, a musician, and somewhat homeless. I know he lives in a trailer on the edge of someone’s land and that he hangs out downtown collecting bottles and I see him working through my buildings trash once a week.

We’ve chatted before, on occasion he gives our staff gifts. Most recently he gave me a fuse from an electrical pole along the Alaska Highway, or so he said. He also gave our 19-year-old female receptionist a roll of saran wrap and told her it was for her to wear at Peacefest, a concert that happens here in July.

Regardless – as I drove past him on the bridge, guitar slung over his shoulder, big black duster jacket, I knew it would make a pretty sweet picture. So I pulled over, took the photo then went up and chatted with him. I realized I didn’t actually know his last name.

Danny Pilkafski carries his guitar over the Peace River bridge on thursday May 1, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Danny Pilkafski carries his guitar over the Peace River bridge on thursday May 1, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Spring obviously means football… right?

Well it does for the Grande Prairie area Pee Wee league.

I have to admit, I was REALLY excited to photograph football. I haven’t had the opportunity to do it yet and it’s one of those sports that produces really intense peak action photos. This was Pee Wee, but the kids were pretty motivated and I considered it a training and education in preparation for the fall when the Bantam and/or Midget/high school teams start.

This photo is not peak action but it is from the first game I shot.

Peace River Panthers coach Austin Farrow helps Lars Anderson after a hard tackle during their season opener in the Grande Prairie Pee Wee Football League against the Red Rams. The Panthers lost 14-0.  ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Peace River Panthers coach Austin Farrow helps Lars Anderson after a hard tackle during their season opener in the Grande Prairie Pee Wee Football League against the Red Rams. The Panthers lost 14-0. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

May was a season of wrap-ups for winter extracurricular activities. Recitals, final performances, playoffs etc. I found it a little stressful only because EVERYONE pulls at you because it’s do or die for all the groups. I did my best to manage it and cover all the groups as they came up.

Chloe Stafford from the Wednesday Beginners class at the North Peace Gymnastics Club performs at the club's finale 'Everything is Awesome,' on Sunday May 4, 2014 at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Chloe Stafford from the Wednesday Beginners class at the North Peace Gymnastics Club performs at the club’s finale ‘Everything is Awesome,’ on Sunday May 4, 2014 at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

When I was in Grade 11 we took a field trip to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Ont. During that day we toured the ICU, the physical rehabilitation centre, spoke with police, paramedics and firefighters. The goal was to scare kids into not drinking and driving.

What I didn’t know was that the P.A.R.T.Y (Preventing Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth) program, had gone nation-wide.

So 10 years after taking part in the program myself, I found myself in a field in St. Isidore photographing a mock car accident.

The looks on the students faces reminded me of the looks on our faces during our trip. Some were, literally traumatized by the experience, others were sick. Myself, I remember feeling sad for days. BUT statistics show that since the program has come into practice, alcohol related deaths in youth have dropped. So what does that mean?

Is a day of coordinated and controlled trauma excusable if it helps to prevent a much worse one later?

I kinda lean towards agreeing that in the case of booze and driving, yeah, it’s not a bad idea to show kids EXACTLY what the consequences are. Better they see an upsetting play, a theatrical performance, than live it themselves later.

Layne Hankins, a junior firefighter from Nampa, plays dead while Peace River Alberta Health Services' Paramedic Tyne Lunn covers her with a blanket during a simulation of a fatal car accident for Peace River area high school students at the the St. Isidore fire hall on Wednesday May 21, 2014 In St Isidore Alberta. The simulation was part of the Preventing Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) program, which is designed to curb risky behaviour in youth by exposing them to the consequences through live dramatizations and presentations from law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters as well as victims and survivors. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Layne Hankins, a junior firefighter from Nampa, plays dead while Peace River Alberta Health Services’ Paramedic Tyne Lunn covers her with a blanket during a simulation of a fatal car accident for Peace River area high school students at the the St. Isidore fire hall on Wednesday May 21, 2014 In St Isidore Alberta. The simulation was part of the Preventing Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) program, which is designed to curb risky behaviour in youth by exposing them to the consequences through live dramatizations and presentations from law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters as well as victims and survivors. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

And as an example of the diversity of my job, two days later I was in a church photographing the Peace River community choir’s final performance of the season.

Darrilyn Bastell sings with the Peace River Community Choir's final performance of the year at St. James Anglican Church in Peace River Alberta on Friday May 23, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Darrilyn Bastell sings with the Peace River Community Choir’s final performance of the year at St. James Anglican Church in Peace River Alberta on Friday May 23, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

This next photo was all kinds of fun for me.

I was sitting in my office when a call came in from ATCO Electric, the utility company up here. To be honest I thought I was about get some kind of bad news about my account or something. Turns out they had constructed an Osprey nest and they wanted me to come take a picture of it.

They had built a pole near some power lines with the idea of enticing the Osprey to build a nest there instead of on top of the power poles. Last year an Osprey had done that and it started a fire and caused a power outage in the area.

Turns out the company’s plan had worked and the Osprey had built a nest on the platform. So they invited me, and the reporter from the newspaper in Grimshaw, to come out and take pics. Best part was they put us in a bucket truck and raised it up.

Unfortunately all the activity spooked the birds and they left the nest, so it became about trying to take a picture as the bird flew past the nest.

An Osprey flies near power lines and it's nest next to Highway Two  north of Grimshaw, Alberta on Friday May 30, 2014. The nest was built on top of a platform constructed by ATCO Electric which was trying to encourage the Osprey to nest on that pole as opposed to live wires. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

An Osprey flies near power lines and it’s nest next to Highway Two north of Grimshaw, Alberta on Friday May 30, 2014. The nest was built on top of a platform constructed by ATCO Electric which was trying to encourage the Osprey to nest on that pole as opposed to live wires. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

And once again back to football. I was learning by now that the Pee Wees didn’t hit that hard, they’re just too young and light.

I’m not a big football fan, so this gave me a chance to learn the rules, how the game worked and frankly gain an appreciation for the sport I didn’t have before.

Peace River Panthers, Harrison Drummond, tries to push past the Sexsmith Little Rocks defence during a game on Saturday May 31, 2014 at the Peace River High school in Peace River Alberta. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Peace River Panthers, Harrison Drummond, tries to push past the Sexsmith Little Rocks defence during a game on Saturday May 31, 2014 at the Peace River High school in Peace River Alberta. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

The final two pics were really fun to be a part of.

In 2013 I photographed Ottawa Fashion Week. It was fine, I’m not really into fashion. I just wanted to do it to check it off my list and I had a free pass because I was volunteering my time.

While there though there was a collection by the wife of a certain diplomat from a certain country that has a certain bloody colonial history regarding Canada’s First Nations. However, she had a whole collection that was ‘Native inspired.’

I felt sick.

I actually turned my cameras off during that show. The mutterings backstage were all the same, people seemed to think it was in poor taste but no one would say it to the designer herself.

So when the Peace River Metis and Aboriginal interagency committee put on a fashion show it was an opportunity to photograph native inspired fashion, made by First Nations and Metis designers and worn and modeled by First Nations and Metis people.

The difference between the two shows couldn’t be more blatant.

Designer Lara Flesing applies a final layer of makeup to model Valerie Ghostkeeper before the start of a fashion show held at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday May 31, 2014. The fashion show was part of a gala fundraising evening to raise money for the upcoming pow-wow. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Designer Lara Flesing applies a final layer of makeup to model Valerie Ghostkeeper before the start of a fashion show held at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday May 31, 2014. The fashion show was part of a gala fundraising evening to raise money for the upcoming pow-wow. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

I will say this though – my experience at Ottawa Fashion Week taught me HOW to shoot an event like a fashion show. So I remain glad I went just over a year ago as a student.

Model Jessica Lapretre applies a final layer of makeup to her face before the start of a fashion show held at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday May 31, 2014. The fashion show was part of a gala fundraising evening to raise money for the upcoming pow-wow. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Model Jessica Lapretre applies a final layer of makeup to her face before the start of a fashion show held at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday May 31, 2014. The fashion show was part of a gala fundraising evening to raise money for the upcoming pow-wow. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

That’ a look at May through the pages of the Record-Gazette. Below is a look at the random crap that happened through some Instagrams.

 

I’m not Catholic but covering the mass that preceded the graduation of the Catholic high school kids was pretty cool. I appreciated being allowed to take pics unfettered too.

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There was a big conference in early May called the Peace Oil Sands conference, which was about oil. It featured a tradeshow that was mostly boring (to me as a non-oil business type) with the exception of a massive crane that was giving rides.

Naturally as a member of the press it was my responsibility to take a ride to document it for the future…

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During the conference I had a chance to meet political pundit, and I guess you could technically call us co-workers, Ezra Levant. For those who don’t know Ezra he works for Sun News and hosts a TV show that has been somewhat – contentious. Regardless sitting with him and picking his brain on a variety of subjects in private was VERY interesting. This is a pic of our office’s manager talking to him in a back room of the conference centre.

He was there as the keynote speaker.

 

I-Blog003During May I had a visit from a buddy of mine. James Wood(s) and I went to Loyalist together. We were in different sections but the same year. He got a job at the Lloydminster Meridian-Booster, also owned by QMI, in Lloydminster.

He came up to Peace River and we wandered around, it was fun.

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This next one was one of those rare times I thought about using an Instagram in print. It’s a photo of Peace River fire chief Lance Bushie spreading fire during the burn controlled burn.

 

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During the fire I drove up to the 12-Foot Davis gravesite, which overlooks the town. I wanted to see what the plume of smoke looked like from a distance.

 

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Another day same lookout this time though epic car porn photo.

 

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This next picture was from the P.A.R.T.Y program – after the mock car crash I spotted some very able-bodied firefighters playing around with some wheelchairs. The wheelchairs were there as an obstacle course for the kids to do. The idea being – do you see how hard this is? Don’t drink, don’t drive and you won’t suffer a spinal injury in a car crash.

The kids were on lunch and the firefighters were racing the chairs… Big kids.

 

I-Blog008More car porn – out exploring some back roads.

 

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While out exploring the roads I found this hill, popular with dirt bikers, I saw a guy sitting there, taking in the view before descending – so I snapped some pics.

 

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Later that week we said goodbye to one of the town’s other reporters. They exist they just work at the radio station. Megan was moving onto a job as a videojournalist at City TV Edmonton. So obviously that meant a pub night to celebrate.

Midway through the mayor popped by. He was there with some councilors for wings so he came over to say bye.

 

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As the weather got nicer and my car functioned more frequently, I started taking regular trips up to various lookouts around town. In a few cases I went there with my laptop to write stories or editing pictures.

It was a nice office view.

 

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Here’s a better picture of the view.

 

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As May closed, Peace River’s very short spring was over. Summer, although still three weeks away, felt like it was here.

And the days started getting much, much longer.

 

Cheers,

 

Adam Dietrich

 

 


April: Turkey, copy and high waters

April – dawned full of promise.

BUT a week into the month my car was not working again, this time it was corroded brake lines and an electrical issue that kept the running lights and cabin fans on – even with them turned off, fuses pulled and the car off.

So I focused on my work – it became a mantra during some difficult times ahead. I would close my eyes and remember the reasons that I had come to Alberta in the first place.

The month kicked off with a high school aged provincial performing arts festival.

Luke Kramer performs at the North Peace Performing Arts Festival Grand Concert on Friday April 4, 2014 at the First Baptist Church in Peace River. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Luke Kramer performs at the North Peace Performing Arts Festival Grand Concert on Friday April 4, 2014 at the First Baptist Church in Peace River. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Spring was now springing but that meant nothing for the midget hockey series. They were still pushing their way through their playoffs.

Peace River Royals forward Trevor Tokarz, left, and St. Albert Crusaders defence Elias Chaulk battle for the puck during game four of the Northern Alberta Midget Hockey League finals on Friday April 4, 2014 at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta. The Royals defeated the Crusaders six to five to force a game five the next day.  ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Peace River Royals forward Trevor Tokarz, left, and St. Albert Crusaders defence Elias Chaulk battle for the puck during game four of the Northern Alberta Midget Hockey League finals on Friday April 4, 2014 at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta. The Royals defeated the Crusaders six to five to force a game five the next day. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

However, the Junior B hockey team, the North Peace Navigators, had finished their season and were now touring the town with their trophy. They stopped by a gymnastics centre to donate some money and the kids got to get up close and personal with the cup and some players.

Austin Leadlay, 7, looks at his face reflected in the North West Junior Hockey League Senators Cup during a visit by three of the North Peace Navigators to the North Peace Gymnastics Club in Peace River Alberta on April 7, 2014. The Navs were at the DMI Endurance Centre to drop off a check for $7800 to pay the gymnastics club for providing security Parents of children at the gymnastics club worked as security at the Baytex Centre during Navigators home games in order to fundraise money for the gymnastics club this season. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Austin Leadlay, 7, looks at his face reflected in the North West Junior Hockey League Senators Cup during a visit by three of the North Peace Navigators to the North Peace Gymnastics Club in Peace River Alberta on April 7, 2014. The Navs were at the DMI Endurance Centre to drop off a check for $7800 to pay the gymnastics club for providing security Parents of children at the gymnastics club worked as security at the Baytex Centre during Navigators home games in order to fundraise money for the gymnastics club this season. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Then I had one of the craziest weeks thus far.

It started with a series of unexpected text messages – it became clear my girlfriend in Lloydminister was using the medium to break up with me. I felt hurt and pretty deeply disrespected over the whole situation.

But again my mantra played through my head.

I decided to focus on my work and building friendships in Peace River. That week a friend and I were driving through town on a particularly warm day to go to the movie theatre. I turned a corner and the road was blocked and flooded…

So I dropped off Tyler, went home grabbed my cameras and went to work.

Firefighters walk along the outside of a building along 98 Street in downtown Peace River, Alberta after flooding occurred in areas around 98 Street and 100 Avenue on Tuesday April 8, 2014. According to authorities at the time the flooding seemed to be coming from a section of the Pat's Creek Culvert near that intersection. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Firefighters walk along the outside of a building along 98 Street in downtown Peace River, Alberta after flooding occurred in areas around 98 Street and 100 Avenue on Tuesday April 8, 2014. According to authorities at the time the flooding seemed to be coming from a section of the Pat’s Creek Culvert near that intersection. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

This was my first experience with the QMI wire. This photo of a Ford Probe was used with papers owned by Sun Media around Canada, accompanied by a brief. Parts of downtown Peace River had been put under voluntary evacuation that night – so it was news.

Water floods a segment of 98 Street in downtown Peace River, Alberta after flooding occurred in areas around 98 Street and 100 Avenue on Tuesday April 8, 2014. According to authorities at the time the flooding seemed to be coming from a section of the Pat's Creek Culvert near that intersection. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Water floods a segment of 98 Street in downtown Peace River, Alberta after flooding occurred in areas around 98 Street and 100 Avenue on Tuesday April 8, 2014. According to authorities at the time the flooding seemed to be coming from a section of the Pat’s Creek Culvert near that intersection. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Interesting note about the Probe… My first car, a ’96 Mazda 626, was built on the same frame and chassis as the Probe – they were built at the same plant in Flatrock Michigan. The Probe is a two-door coupe though and I was looking to buy a Probe or an Integra in December ’13 when I started looking for a car to replace my 626. I found an Integra.

Firefighters from the Town of Peace River and the County of Northern Lights survey River Road, which had flooded, near Riverfront Park in downtown Peace River, Alberta after flooding occurred in areas around 98 Street and 100 Avenue on Tuesday April 8, 2014. According to authorities at the time the flooding seemed to be coming from a section of the Pat's Creek Culvert near that intersection. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Firefighters from the Town of Peace River and the County of Northern Lights survey River Road, which had flooded, near Riverfront Park in downtown Peace River, Alberta after flooding occurred in areas around 98 Street and 100 Avenue on Tuesday April 8, 2014. According to authorities at the time the flooding seemed to be coming from a section of the Pat’s Creek Culvert near that intersection. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

The next morning was my day off but I was up for an emergency council meeting. Then I left to go and find someone who had left their home the night prior due to the floods. I found this fellow whose ground floor and basement had been demolished by the waters.

Ted Sisson, who had to leave his home after water flooded his house on Tuesday night, heads to the basement of his home which was still most flooded the next morning, in his home along 98 Street in downtown Peace River Alberta on Wednesday April 9, 2014. The night before Pat's Creek Culvert clogged and flooded sections of downtown. Sisson's basement and first floor were flooded, leaving mud and damage all over. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Ted Sisson, who had to leave his home after water flooded his house on Tuesday night, heads to the basement of his home which was still most flooded the next morning, in his home along 98 Street in downtown Peace River Alberta on Wednesday April 9, 2014. The night before Pat’s Creek Culvert clogged and flooded sections of downtown. Sisson’s basement and first floor were flooded, leaving mud and damage all over. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Later that day I was driving home and as I pulled up to my street I spotted two moose grazing across the road.

I pulled over and grabbed my cameras and took some pictures.

I went home and remember thinking that despite how rough the month had started – this was a pretty beautiful place and the beauty just kind of slaps you in the face when you don’t expect it but need it the most sometimes – there were good things happening.

Two pedestrians look at a moose on 101 Street in the south end of Peace River, Alberta on Wednesday April 9, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Two pedestrians look at a moose on 101 Street in the south end of Peace River, Alberta on Wednesday April 9, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

The photos were for me but I’m also the town reporter – so I figured I should file them. I found out later they were used by the Toronto Sun to illustrate a recap of the “10 most Canadian News Stories Ever.” That happened a few moths later but when it did I smiled.

Two moose eat from trees along 101 Street in the south end of Peace River, Alberta on Wednesday April 9, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Two moose eat from trees along 101 Street in the south end of Peace River, Alberta on Wednesday April 9, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

All in all April was actually a slow month for me, photographically. There was a lull in events and I was trying to step up my game as a writer. After March I had grown cocky and complacent – not good. Going into April I gave my head a shake and focused on writing and finding better stories, improving my photography was put on the side.

While I struggle with this decision I have thought about it like this: I actually never wanted to be a photojournalist, I wanted to be a journalist. Photography seemed like a means to an end. In the process I got wrapped up in the competition and I forgot about the journalism part, until I moved out here.

Putting the emphasis on being a journalist I know I can take good pictures. But I know those pictures will have more legs if I can write about the subject, interview sources, experts and write bout it later.

Still I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a creative portrait when I did a portrait of a denturist in town. In her office there was a dentist light used to light the inside of your mouth and I thought – perfect, I’ll use it to light her.

Denturist Rachelle Brochu is pictured holding up a sample of one of the dentures she builds in her Peace River Alberta office on Saturday April 12, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Denturist Rachelle Brochu is pictured holding up a sample of one of the dentures she builds in her Peace River Alberta office on Saturday April 12, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

After April I was broke trying to cover my still breaking car. Despite that, I knew I had been able to grow quite a bit as a writer, I was much more comfortable with the crappy parts of journalism too – tracking down a source, transcribing notes and endless cold call phone calls to strangers. Those are the parts NO ONE emphasizes when they start talking about how cool it would be to be a journalist.

Going into May I figured I decided I would step up my photo game again, now that I had a better handle on this writing thing. As for the car – she was slipping further away.

In the settler era, when wagon trains left the east to settle in the west, oftentimes the weeks long journey would result in deaths of settlers en route. So they had to bury them, place a cross and move on. Once these colonies were established there was a high mortality rate in the first year.

Cat and myself made it here safely, Brea, unfortunately had started to show she had not recovered from the sickness she incurred from our crash outside Winnipeg. I started to come to terms with the fact that my party may face a 33 per cent mortality rate.

Unfortunately I had no other options but to continue to use Brea the Integra for the time being.

In the Instagram world…

With Spring on the way I took this picture of Peace River as it started to melt.

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Cat had started to grow used to her new home – however, even by April it was clear she hadn’t forgiven me for the trip west.

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This is the Instagram photo I took of the moose crossing the street. The orange apartment building behind it is where I live, you can se my living room window from this picture.

Iblogpics003As a reporter in town I was invited to be a guest judge at an elementary school heritage fair event. The fair is like a science fair where kids make projects about Canadian history and heritage. It was pretty cool.

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This is a photo of the full moon over the town. The view is from my living room window. I wanted to go to a lookout spot outside of town but my car wasn’t working that night, so I wasn’t able to.

I have been waiting for a night like this since.

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A few weeks later when my car was working, it was Easter. There was a morning church service on one of the lookouts – it was pretty cool.

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That weekend some friends came over to my apartment and we baked a turkey. This a pic before it went in.

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In a search for affordable and fulfilling pastimes I got a library cards and some books.

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On a rainy day when my Integra was working. Car porn.

Iblogpics009One day I left a half-eaten banana on the counter and discovered my cat likes bananas…

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At one point work took me to the nearby town of Grimshaw so I snapped some pics.

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In Grimshaw the Mackenzie Highway starts. The highway goes to Yellowknife, one day I’d like to drive it.

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More to come on May.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Life in Peace River: Part 1 – The Land of Winter(fell)

It’s been four months since I updated this blog – I think that is some record.

This will be the first part in a four part series catching my blog up to the point where I’m at.

My previous post, just Instagrams and my own personal story left off with my arrival in Peace River, Alberta. Where I started work as THE reporter – photographer at the Record-Gazette newspaper.

The Record-Gazette serves the town of Peace River and its surrounding communities.

It’s a beautiful town – in the middle of nowhere – a small bastion of progressive principles in northern Alberta. Which is odd because we’re in the heart of Conservative oil country.

There is an incredibly strong sense of community here. People work long hours, then volunteer to coach soccer, ref hockey, fundraise, or run some sort of non-profit. Despite the fact that the town is near the heart of a swirling oil and gas controversy, and has experienced some abhorrent environmental and social behaviour from that industry in the region decades ago, the people who live here – in Peace River – see themselves as guardians of a valuable commodity and a pristine wilderness setting.

That dichotomy – and the conflict that comes with it – has made Peace River into a very interesting place to live.

There is an enviro-friendly café that serves great coffee down the road from a major oil company’s office. There is a Yoga studio and wellness store across the road from a western menswear store (with a huge selection of cowboy boots).

This first photo came from my first week on the job solo, in late February. We have a weekly feature called ‘Seniors of the Peace.’ Essentially I sit down with a senior, any senior who wants to tell me a story about their life, and I do my best to tell it.

I liked the idea – though at first it intimidated me a lot – Betty-Lou was the first one I interviewed, her story is here.

Betty-Lou Munro, 77, is pictured in the living room of her Peace River home on Friday February 28, 2014.  Munro has lived in the same home since moving to Peace River in 1979. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Betty-Lou Munro, 77, is pictured in the living room of her Peace River home on Friday February 28, 2014. Munro has lived in the same home since moving to Peace River in 1979. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

My first couple of assignments were school-related events. This one was from a diversity day event at Good Shepherd, the local Catholic elementary school.

Sheaya Himer, grade one, dances during Good Shepard School's Pink Day Assembly on February 26, 2014 at Good Shepard School in Peace River, Alberta.  Students celebrated anti-discrimination and anti-bullying by wearing pink.  ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Sheaya Himer, grade one, dances during Good Shepard School’s Pink Day Assembly on February 26, 2014 at Good Shepard School in Peace River, Alberta. Students celebrated anti-discrimination and anti-bullying by wearing pink. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Crossing into March I was still VERY green. One of the ironies early on was, while I had strong sports photography skills, I had terrible sports writing skills, more of that in part three though.

Deanne Nichol from Peace River throws a rock down the ice during the final game of the Peace River Ladies Bonspiel on March 2, 2014.  Grand Prairie's Team Sharon Chrenek team defeated Peace River's Team Deanne Nichol team in the final game 9-7 in seven ends. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Deanne Nichol from Peace River throws a rock down the ice during the final game of the Peace River Ladies Bonspiel on March 2, 2014. Grand Prairie’s Team Sharon Chrenek team defeated Peace River’s Team Deanne Nichol team in the final game 9-7 in seven ends. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

This photo required me to get up early, truck out in cold weather and was never published – it’s not even a great pic. But it was a sentimental one to take for me. The war in Afghanistan began when I was in Grade 7. I remember growing up with the conflict on the constant periphery of Canadian society, culture and politics. Regardless of your views on the war it’s shaped Canada dramatically. Peace River High School was going to lower their flag to half-mast at sunrise on the day of Canada’s withdrawal. Unfortunately we’re in a valley and at sunrise the sun hadn’t come over the hills so we were in one big shadow. I remember thinking about where I was when airplanes of soldiers landed over seas – there is so much that has changed, everywhere since then.

Mark Owens, Principal of Peace River High School lowers the Canadian flag in front of the school to half mast, in Peace River Alberta on Wednesday March 12, 2014.  Flags across several provinces were lowered at sunrise, to be raised at noon at government buildings and offices in honour of the end of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.  March 12 marks the official withdrawal date for Canadian soldiers after more than 12 years of the Afghan mission.  ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Mark Owens, Principal of Peace River High School lowers the Canadian flag in front of the school to half mast, in Peace River Alberta on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Flags across several provinces were lowered at sunrise, to be raised at noon at government buildings and offices in honour of the end of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. March 12 marks the official withdrawal date for Canadian soldiers after more than 12 years of the Afghan mission. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

I shot a lot of hockey this winter. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, I am in northern Alberta after all. My ONLY issue is, the lighting at the local arena sucks… the bulbs are all on different colour balance settings, so it is actually IMPOSSIBLE to get a clean looking white balance. Also there aren’t any port holes in the glass for cameras and it looks like they’ve never washed the puck marks off the glass.

THAT BEING SAID – the North Peace Navigators is another sign of Peace River’s uniqueness – the ‘Navs’ took the cup this year, first time in six years in the Northwest Junior Hockey League (NWJHL). I arrived just in time for the start of playoffs and despite the lighting/glass issues I got some fun photos.

 

County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings defence Colton Sandboe, goes to the ice after colliding with North Peace Navigators forward Dustin Gach and JDA Kings goalie Tallon Kramer during the opening game of the NWJHL playoff finals at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Thursday March 13, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 4-2. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings defence Colton Sandboe, goes to the ice after colliding with North Peace Navigators forward Dustin Gach and JDA Kings goalie Tallon Kramer during the opening game of the NWJHL playoff finals at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Thursday March 13, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 4-2. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

This goal was disallowed. Lol.

North Peace Navigators forward Samuel Lauzon ends up in the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings net instead of the puck following a break away during the opening game of the NWJHL playoff finals at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Thursday March 13, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 4-2. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

North Peace Navigators forward Samuel Lauzon ends up in the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings net instead of the puck following a break away during the opening game of the NWJHL playoff finals at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Thursday March 13, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 4-2. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

In neighbouring Grimshaw they have a newer arena with consistent white balances, I photographed a minor hockey game there.

Wainwright Polar Kings goalie Paul Laferriere watches the puck bounce back out of the net after a Peace River Royals goal was scored during the second game of the NAMHL semi-finals at the Mile Zero Regional Multiplex in Grimshaw Alberta on Saturday March 15.  The Royals lost to the Kings in overtime 4-3 but won the next night to win the series 2-1. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Wainwright Polar Kings goalie Paul Laferriere watches the puck bounce back out of the net after a Peace River Royals goal was scored during the second game of the NAMHL semi-finals at the Mile Zero Regional Multiplex in Grimshaw Alberta on Saturday March 15. The Royals lost to the Kings in overtime 4-3 but won the next night to win the series 2-1. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

But then that minor hockey series returned to Peace River.

Peace River Royals forward Dolan Bjornson, puts the puck in the net during the final game of the NAMHL semi-finals against the Wainwright Polar Kings on Sunday March 16, 2014.  The Royals defeated the Kings 5-1 and won the series 2-1. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Peace River Royals forward Dolan Bjornson, puts the puck in the net during the final game of the NAMHL semi-finals against the Wainwright Polar Kings on Sunday March 16, 2014. The Royals defeated the Kings 5-1 and won the series 2-1. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

The senior feature has given me a chance to learn about Peace River and the area from people who have lived here for decades, their stories range from happy, sad, heartwarming, full of lessons and everything in between. It’s also a chance to do a quick on the spot environmental portrait once a week.

Arlene Staicesku is pictured in her Peace River home on Sunday MArch 16, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Arlene Staicesku is pictured in her Peace River home on Sunday MArch 16, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

When I spoke about Peace River’s dichotomy earlier – the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) office is two stories up and directly across the road from the local Progressive Conservative MLA’s constituency office. Which mean AUPE’s office is LITERALLY looking down on the MLA.

In March, in minus 18 weather, AUPE and other supporting unions came out to picket new changes to public service pensions and labour negotiating rights.

Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), Health Services and other supportive unions march in front of the constituency office of MLA Frank Oberle in Peace River Alberta on March 20, 2014.  The picket was part of a province-wide day of action held by several unions to protest proposed cuts to the pension plan for provincial employees and public sector workers. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), Health Services and other supportive unions march in front of the constituency office of MLA Frank Oberle in Peace River Alberta on March 20, 2014. The picket was part of a province-wide day of action held by several unions to protest proposed cuts to the pension plan for provincial employees and public sector workers. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

And then more hockey, this time it was the Navs final game of the playoffs, the Record-Gazette published a photo gallery here.

North Peace Navigators defence Maxime Richard, right, celebrates after the Navigators scored their first goal in the second period of the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014.  he Navigators defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

North Peace Navigators defence Maxime Richard, right, celebrates after the Navigators scored their first goal in the second period of the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. he Navigators defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Went looking for some creative crowd shots between periods.

North Peace Navigators goalie Talon Walton stretches outside the Navigators change room while Faron Knott, right, laughs with friends before the start of the third period of the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. The Navigators defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

North Peace Navigators goalie Talon Walton stretches outside the Navigators change room while Faron Knott, right, laughs with friends before the start of the third period of the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. The Navigators defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

This puck got caught in the netting, with a boost this little girl went home with a game puck.

Taya Johnston, 7, with some help, pulls a game puck that was stuck in a netting after a high shot during the NWJHL championship game between the North Peace Navigators and the Grande Prairie JDA Kings at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Taya Johnston, 7, with some help, pulls a game puck that was stuck in a netting after a high shot during the NWJHL championship game between the North Peace Navigators and the Grande Prairie JDA Kings at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

And finally the ‘jubo shot,’ photojournalism slang for ‘jubilation shot,’ basically a photo of the celebration. My FAVOURITE part of shooting sports tournements is when the team wins and media/league people come on the game/ice surface, it’s the only time it’s allowed and it makes me feel bad ass. BUT you’re there to work, so I took a bunch of pics.

North Peace Navigators defence Joseph Doerksen celebrates with team mates after they defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime in the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

North Peace Navigators defence Joseph Doerksen celebrates with team mates after they defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime in the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Finally March was capped off with a trip to the Underground Music society’s monthly show. It’s musical proof of that dichotomy I mentioned earlier. This is a country and western/classic rock town. But the Underground brings in bluesy, jazz, new rock stuff – it’s Peace River’s official underground music scene.

Ben Sures a singer from Edmonton, performs at the Peace River Seniors Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 29, 2014. Sures was in Peace River with his band the Son of Trouble Orchestra performing at the Underground Music Society. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Ben Sures a singer from Edmonton, performs at the Peace River Seniors Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 29, 2014. Sures was in Peace River with his band the Son of Trouble Orchestra performing at the Underground Music Society. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY

Coming into March I truly felt out of depth and green. By the end of it I finally felt like I wrestled the workload down and had gotten on top of it. That feeling definitely carried into April.

On the more personal side.

One of my first days here, while walking to my car, a heard of deer came rushing by. Later in the spring I found them grazing on the lawn outside my building.

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This is the view from highway 2 heading into town, basically what it looked like when I drove in.

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This is the mouth of the Heart river near my place. These are deer tracks over the ice in the winter.

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When I first moved out here I was dating a girl who lived in Macklin, Sask. at the time. During one of my trips there we ended up in Denzil, Sask. which just felt like Corner Gas.

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Right here, these are the essentials of my job, technology-wise.

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Once again car problems, this time it was a frozen battery, but it was the start of a cascade of problems…

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Peace River was beautiful in the winter, I thought. Locals kept saying, “wait until it gets green.” That was a fair statement, but still, it was nice here in the winter.

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A little over a week after I started at work I was in a local gas station paying for gas. The guy in front of me was buying the Edmonton Sun and the Record-Gazette, which had my first cover on it. I felt pretty awesome standing in line behind him.

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Finally my companion, Cat. She’s adjusted to life out here by peeing on everything, we’re working on that. But I know she has an affinity for high places so I found a way to put her bed on a perch. She likes being able to look down on me.

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Next will be about the month of April, posted on Monday July 14.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich

 


#ADGoesWest

Sunset over Lake Superior during my drive from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario.  It was the first day I saw the lake, Superior was the only great lake I had never seen before.

Sunset over Lake Superior during my drive from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was the first day I saw the lake, Superior was the only great lake I had never seen before.

This blog post will deviate in several ways from my typical ones, it will be a bit more personal and candid than I typically am.  That being said, everything about me, and my online presence including this blog, which I have maintained in some capacity since 2009, may also change dramatically at some point in the near future.

If you are only here to look at picture of my road trip, by all means please scroll down, there will be info in the captions, which should provide context.

Part One: From lost 18-year old to staff reporter

In reality this story began on the edge Lake Osoyoos in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Colombia in late June 2007.  I was 18, less than three weeks out of high school and four provinces from home.

As a diversion from more school I had applied for the Canada World Youth exchange program, a six month international youth community service exchange.  We were in Osoyoos, ten random Canadians from across the country, each matched with a counterpart from Uruguay.  We lived with host families and worked as volunteers in the community during the days.  We came from all walks of life.

A week and a half into the program, I was walking down towards the lake on a very warm, dry evening getting to know a guy named Dave Stacey, he was from Stephenville Newfoundland and a student at Memorial.  He was taking a break to do this exchange.

We smoked cigarettes and talked about the different types of winter Ontario got versus Newfoundland, then he asked me what I wanted to do.

The question stunned me, I was on this exchange to escape that.  So I told him that, he looked at my camera hanging on my shoulder.  A Canon 10D with a 35-85mm f/4-5.6.  It was a piece of crap in current terms, but in that time and place it was a show piece.

“What about photography?”  He asked.

“Oh,” I said, “No I’m not interested in that, I just wanted to have a decent camera for this and my dad was switching formats so he sold it to me cheap.”  I said.

He paused for a moment then spoke.

“There’s more to photography than photography, you ever thought about photojournalism?”

“No,” I said, truthfully I didn’t know what that was.

“Oh man,” he said, “It’s photography for newspapers, magazines, documentary, like National Geographic.”

My ears perked at this.  As the program wore on there were a lot of things that happened but I will come back to that later.

I knew nothing about photography, but I had a camera.  And so for the rest of the program I started fiddling with the settings figuring out what the shutter did, the aperture did etc.  I didn’t have ready access to photography teachers or the internet at the time.

When I came home in December of 2007 I was 19, I thought I knew everything and my focus centered on escaping again. I started working as a temporary laborer in Guelph while living at my parents to save money.  When I had the funds I left for Southeast Asia.

Again, the details of these three months could fill pages.  But I realized something, I thrived on the sense of adventure, I could socialize well, and I was smart.

In September 2008 I arrived in Ottawa to begin my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.  I had really grand intentions, however, I quickly filled my plate with school, work and the Charlatan.

The Charlatan, the school newspaper became my second home.  I sat on the couch and absorbed the conversations of the editors and the writers.  Many of whom are successful journalists today.  I felt so fortunate to be surrounded by such talent.

However, I was motivated by visuals I never really considered writing.

It was also during this time that I started this blog.

When I left Carleton it was with the worst of mixed emotions I had achieved a lot.  I had been published nationally multiple times, I had out-filed the wires on a few big assignments, I had a front page of a national newspaper, and more covers of the Charlatan than I could count.  I had a partner, someone I loved deeply, and I had friends, really I had a family of people.

I look back on the years 2009-2011 with the uttermost fondness and joy, I can’t begin to describe it.  Simply put I thought I would never leave Ottawa completely.

Then one drunken night in 2011 happened, it was May, the playoffs were on and I was at the Georgetown pub with some friends watching and drinking.  Suddenly my friend Joel Eastwood, who had been like a brother and a somewhat kindred spirit throughout Carleton, turned to me and passed me his phone.

On it was an email from the Carleton school of journalism apprenticeships advisor passing along an email.  The email was looking for a photojournalism student who spoke both English and Spanish to participate in an expenses covered six-month exchange.

I told him so send it to me so I could look it over the next morning, sober.

I never thought I would get it, I applied on a whim.  Yet there I was standing in a bus shelter at 5am in January, sick, sleepless, wearing everything warm I had to bring to Costa Rica.

It was one of those biting Ottawa winter nights in Early January, -35 plus wind-chill.  I had spent the night refusing to sleep because it was my last night in the apartment I had shared with my girlfriend Yamina, an there was a big part of me that regretted leaving.

When the time came to leave, walking out the door and down the road to the bus stop was indescribably hard.  That whole 48 hour period and trip to Costa Rica was a blur of sad and tragic feelings mixed with the greatest joy and excitement.

I was moving to Costa Rica for six-months to be a reporter-photographer at a local newspaper there.

After I arrived I felt like I was immediately over my head.  I hadn’t written much before, I knew only the basics of actual written reporting and my Spanish was not good enough to keep up.

Somehow I made it, and I learned a lot along the way and produced some good work.

When I returned to Canada I was now on a mission.

I started attending Loyalist College in January of 2013 as a fast-track student, meaning I could skip the first semester.  My first priority was to find a summer job.

In the end it came down to one job left at Toronto Community News.  A collection of nine newspapers owned by Metroland Media, which operated out of the same newsroom.  The final candidates were myself and one of my best friends a guy named Chris King.  In the end I got the job.

As I settled in, I had a mix of feelings.  I’d never done anything this cool, yet my success felt tempered because I knew Chris was still looking for work.

He found summer work as a reporter at a local newspaper in Whitecourt, northern Alberta.  When we moved in together for our second year of Loyalist and started talking about our summers, I had to confess, I was a little jealous of his experience.

I wanted to work in Alberta, drive across Canada and be a local reporter suddenly.

Then it happened, in early December I had the week of all weeks. My car broke and had to be scrapped, my girlfriend of three years broke up with me two days after planning a surprise birthday party, I found out I had failed to get an interview for the Globe and Mail summer job and I failed one of my classes.

I felt like I’d gone from being on top of the world in August, to considering giving up in December.

Then January happened.

Over December I had made peace with my lost interview opportunity, spoken with a prof and done some extra credit work to pass.  I had replaced my crappy old Mazda 626 with a modded out Acura Integra with a stick shift, and I was starting my final semester.

I couldn’t help but feel depressed though.  So as an exercise I started applying for jobs on Jeff Gaulin’s journalism job site.  I genuinely expected nothing to happen.

I continued to live my life, I fell in love again with a girl who I had just met.  She pretty much literally fell out of the sky.  As we got to know one another it turned out we were in very similar places in life, love, ambition, career and goals.  She’d been in Alberta for the previous few years, and had returned east after the rug was pulled out from under her to regroup around friends and family.

Just as life in Belleville was starting to improve though I got an email.

It was from the editor of the Peace River Record-Gazette, in Peace River Alberta asking if I was free for an interview.

It’s hard to describe how I felt, this was a version of a dream come true.  The job included a lot of writing and I had my doubts.  However, I agreed to the interview.

Two days later I found out I had the job.  It had taken seven years, almost, from the time I decided being a photojournalist would be an interesting career to the point where I was accepting a full-time staff job as a Multimedia journalist.

Part Two:  From Belleville, Ontario to Peace River, Alberta

I gave myself a week to pack up in Belleville, then a few days in Guelph to see my family and finish preparations. At the last minute I decided to take the family cat Coco.

In December when I was thinking of buying something cooler than a 626 I thought an INtegra would be great because it's a hatch-back and has a lot of storage space.  Seriously, the little Acura can haul a lot.

In December when I was thinking of buying something cooler than a 626 I thought an INtegra would be great because it’s a hatch-back and has a lot of storage space. Seriously, the little Acura can haul a lot.

Coco the cat.  She spent most of the eight day trip yelling at me.

Coco the cat. She spent most of the eight day trip yelling at me.

My final week in Belleville was intense.  I suddenly became aware that the friendships I had formed weren’t just out of convenience, I was actually going to miss these people.  Then there was Cynthia, she basically spent the week at my apartment, we weren’t anything official yet, but it was still painful to leave everyobe on some level.

Then I got sick from exhaustion.  I waited an extra day before leaving, on Saturday February 8th I hit the road.

My first stop was Sudbury, I have family there but didn’t have time to pay them a visit, thankfully I saw them all recently at Christmas.  I stopped by Big Nickel Mine for a photo, because it is such a huge attraction, then continued on.  That night I pulled into Sault Ste. Marie Ontario around 9pm and crashed for the night at a Super 8 Motel.

A selfie I took at Big Nickel.  I remember this being a landmark en route to Elliot Lake when I was a kid to visit my grandparents.  I remember visiting the mine as a kid.  I remember when highway 69 was two lanes from just south of Parry Sound north...

A selfie I took at Big Nickel. I remember this being a landmark en route to Elliot Lake when I was a kid to visit my grandparents. I remember visiting the mine as a kid. I remember when highway 69 was two lanes from just south of Parry Sound north…

The next day I hit the road early hoping to make it to Thunder Bay.  I was now in a part of the province I’d never really seen before.  I remember loving that day of driving so much, the roads were clear and dry the scenery was beautiful and it was the first time I saw Lake Superior.

I saw the signs, and the BAM there was the one lake I had never been in, fished in, swam in, sailed in or even actually seen.  Fortunately at the top of the hill there was a snowplow turnout so I parked my car, taped my phone to a mono pod and jammed it in the snow.

I saw the signs, and the BAM there was the one lake I had never been in, fished in, swam in, sailed in or even actually seen. Fortunately at the top of the hill there was a snowplow turnout so I parked my car, taped my phone to a monopod and jammed it in the snow.

I had always heard about the giant goose in Wawa, Ontario.  I had never actually seen it before though.

I had heard about the giant goose in Wawa, Ontario. I had never actually seen it before though.

This was in Marathon, Ontario.  It was the first time I touched the lake.  I'm a tactile person, I need to see and touch things to really appreciate them.  This was a huge highlight for me.

This was in Marathon, Ontario. It was the first time I touched the lake. I’m a tactile person, I need to see and touch things to really appreciate them. This was a huge highlight for me.

This is a photo of my car in the parking lot where I stopped for the previous photo.  Over the next bit the number of photos of my car, and my gushing about may seem excessive.  But literally I put my life and my cats life in her hands, then put her through 4000km of driving in the middle of a Canadian winter.  It's a 20 year old Honda and it kicked ass, I literally owe my life to this car at this point.  So if it seems like I love her that's why.

This is a photo of my car in the parking lot where I stopped for the previous photo. Over the next bit the number of photos of my car, and my gushing about her may seem excessive. But literally I put my life and my cat’s life in her hands, then put her through 4000km of driving in the middle of a Canadian winter. She’s a 20 year old Honda and she kicked ass, I literally owe my life to this car at this point. So if it seems like I love her that’s why.

Finially as I neared Thunder Bay, Ontario I saw the sun about to make it's final dip below the lake.  I had literally watched the light on the lake all day, from early morning and now sunset.  I pulled over and used both my digital camera and my phone to take a pic.  The picture at the lead of this post was taken on my digital camera moments before this Instagram photo was taken.

Finally as I neared Thunder Bay, Ontario I saw the sun about to make it’s final dip below the lake. I had literally watched the light on the lake all day, from early morning and now sunset. I pulled over and used both my digital camera and my phone to take a pic. The picture at the top of this post was taken on my digital camera moments before this Instagram photo was taken.

I rolled into Thunder Bay around 9pm, this time I was staying with friends of a former co-worker.  Natalie and I had worked together at a café in Guelph called With the Grain the year before.  Now a student at Lakehead University, she had friends who had a couch I could sleep on.  That was amazing.

I got into Thunder Bay after dark.  It was cold, colder than I had ever felt.  But I had to kill sometime before meeting Natalie. So I went to the Terry Fox memorial, it was Thunder Bay where Terry's cancer returned during the Marathon of Hope.  Growing up I'd always thought Terry Fox was a really inspiring person, and being in Thunder Bay for the first time, alone at his memorial felt overpowering.

I got into Thunder Bay after dark. It was cold, colder than I had ever felt. But I had to kill sometime before meeting Natalie. So I went to the Terry Fox memorial, it was Thunder Bay where Terry’s cancer returned during the Marathon of Hope. Growing up I’d always thought Terry Fox was a really inspiring person, and being in Thunder Bay for the first time, alone at his memorial felt overpowering.

As I mentioned I love my Honda Integra.  This was at a rest stop where I took a selfie of myself and threw some trash in the garbage.  Then the light hit my car just right in the fridgid morning.  We were about to enter Manitoba and disaster lay ahead for BREA the Integra.

As I mentioned I love my Honda Integra. This was at a rest stop where I took a selfie of myself and threw some trash in the garbage. Then the light hit my car just right in the frigid morning. We were about to enter Manitoba neither she nor I knew it yet but disaster lay ahead for BREA the Integra.

OK so technically I lied in the caption I posted on Instagram.  This was NOT my first time in CST, Costa Rica is CST.  But it was my first time in CST in Canada.

OK so technically I lied in the caption I posted on Instagram. This was NOT my first time in CST, two years earlier when I lived in Costa Rica had been my first time in CST. But it was my first time in CST in Canada, which was a lot colder than it was in Costa Rica…

I love coffee.  I worked my way through Carleton at a student-run coffee shop called Roosters.  Finding this place outside of Vermillion Bay just past Dryden, Ontario was a genuine joy.  The coffee came in a to-go French-press cup and was an incredible break from the hot black piss that Tim Horton's sells.

I love coffee. I worked my way through Carleton University at a student-run coffee shop called Roosters. Finding this place outside of Vermillion Bay just past Dryden, Ontario was a genuine joy. The coffee came in a to-go French-press cup and was an incredible break from the hot, black, piss that Tim Horton’s sells.

Kenora, Ontario was always one of those places in Ontario's northwest I had heard about.  It was synonymous with "way the hell up there there and very far from Toronto."  It was a great town, I had lunch, bought some beer (for later there's a famous micro-brewery Lake of the Woods, Id had their beer before) and continued on.

Kenora, Ontario was always one of those places in Ontario’s northwest I had heard about. It was synonymous with “way the hell up there and very far from Toronto.” It was a great town, I had lunch, bought some beer (there’s a famous micro-brewery, Lake of the Woods, I’d had their beer before and liked) then I continued on.

Chip stand. in the middle of winter.  I've always associated chip trucks with northern Ontario, mostly because of memories I have from my Grandparents' cottage on Manitoulin Island. I loved that he was open in the dead of winter.

Chip stand. in the middle of winter. I’ve always associated chip trucks with northern Ontario, mostly because of memories I have from my Grandparents’ cottage on Manitoulin Island. I loved that he was open in the dead of winter.

Lake of the Woods.  Another one of many places I saw in Ontario that I had grown up hearing about, but never actually been to.  I'd love to find a reason to do this trip in reverse in a different season.

Lake of the Woods. Another one of the many places I saw in Ontario that I had grown up hearing about, but never actually been to. I’d love to find a reason to do this trip in reverse in a different season and see these spots again.

Manitoba.  A province with a lot of signifigance to me that I had never visitied,  Finally after two and half days of straight driving, and I started in the centre of the province, I was out of Ontario.  I really feel like in the last few years I discovered it.

Manitoba. A province with a lot of significance to me that I had never visited. Finally after two and half days of straight driving, and I started in the centre of the province, I was out of Ontario. I really feel like in the last few years I discovered it.

The day was going just fine until I got to Ste. Anne about 45 minutes east of Winnipeg.  I decided to take a picture of the sunset over the prairies, it was my first time seeing it, and I misjudged the shoulder and found myself in a ditch.

My first time watching the sunset over the prairies.  Also this photo ended up costing me $1025, seriously though, I will never forget my first night in Manitoba.

My first time watching the sunset over the prairies. Also this photo ended up costing me $1050, seriously though, I will never forget my first night in Manitoba.

Some ‘friendly Manitobans’ came by with a truck and a chain and pulled me out, we said our goodbyes and I was on my way.

Then it happened again.

I figured I would get a second picture, because now the sun was touching the horizon. So I pulled over preparing to do a three-point turn.  And once again found myself in the ditch.  I was livid, mostly with myself.  I screamed at the prairies, then tried to jack my car up to put it on my floor mats to get out.

It didn’t work, I tried shifting the weight in the car, using kitty litter everything and in the process I burnt out my radiator and overheated the engine.  Now it was minus 45 Celsius, my heater was broken the winds were picking up and it was dark.

I never took the second picture.

I called CAA, it was almost two hours before I saw a truck.

When CAA came they helped me out, then I drove to Winnipeg.  The whole way there my windows kept fogging up, the defrosters weren’t working, the engine sounded off.  I was so worried, stressed and I could no longer feel my toes but I was 100% focused on getting to my friend’s house safely.

As I pulled onto their street my engine light, maintenance light and oil light all came on and my car started stalling while I was shifting, normally my engine would stall at under 400 rpm now it was stalling at anywhere between 400-1500 I had no idea what was wrong.  I decided I would deal with it the next day.

Taking her to Southglen honestly felt like leaving a loved one at the hospital.  I swear I wasn't able to sleep or do anything that night.  I went back to my friend's house and uttered around, playing with his son, his dogs, my cat and sleeping.  I hadn't really processed where I was yet, i was convinced that halfway across Canada Brea was dying, and I was stranded.

Taking her to Southglen honestly felt like leaving a loved one at the hospital. I swear I wasn’t able to sleep or do anything that night. I went back to my friend’s house and puttered around, playing with his son, his dogs, my cat otherwise killing time. I hadn’t really processed where I was yet, I was convinced that halfway across Canada Brea was dying, and I was stranded.

The next morning it wouldn’t start.  The battery was frozen, I called CAA again and there was a tense moment where I was worried the engine wouldn’t turn over because the car was now literally out of oil.  With the fried radiator the engine had been overheating while I drove 75km to Winnipeg, it had burned off all the oil.

We poured some in, the tow-truck driver connected my battery to his charger and I got in my car. I said a small prayer (something I NEVER do) then turned the key.  The engine sprang to life and at that moment I could have almost cried I was so happy.

I followed the CAA guy to a local shop and dropped my car off.  It took them just over a day, but they replaced that radiator, put in more coolant, and checked the car over.  There was one little issue: the running lights and blowers weren’t turning off, even with them turned off the key out and the fuse pulled.

It suddenly became clear the previous owner has rewired the entire car.  It took the mechanics 4.5 hours to fix it.  I walked away with a functioning car and $1050 poorer.

Before I left I arrogonatly posted a facebook status that I found on a Honda hastag search on Instagram.  The lines were a rip-off of the Jay-Z song '99 Problems' off his 2003 release the black album.  I had taken the gist of the meme, changed it to suit my specific model year and posted it on facebook. "If you're having car problem's I feel bad for you son, I got a '96 Honda and it still runs."  I thought maybe now I was eating my words then I realized... The snowbank had broken the plastic bumper a bit, frozen the battery and the insulated heat from the engine had melted a radiator cap... but the engine, her heart, despite being put through the worst Canadian hell (bearing in mind she was built 20 years ago in Japan for Japanese conditions) was still beating.

Before I left I arrogantly posted a Facebook status that I found on a Honda hashtag search on Instagram. The lines were a rip-off of the Jay-Z song ’99 Problems.’ I had taken the gist of the meme, changed it to suit my specific model year and posted it on Facebook. “If you’re having car problem’s I feel bad for you son, I got a ’96 Honda and it still runs.” I thought maybe now I was eating my words then I realized… The snowbank had broken the plastic bumper a bit, frozen the battery and the insulated heat from the engine had melted a radiator cap… but the engine, her heart a Honda 1.8 litre B18, despite being put through the worst Canadian hell (bearing in mind she was built 20 years ago in Japan for Japanese conditions) was still beating.

Seriously though.

Seriously though.  Thankfully my parents chipped in and lent me some money to help cover me until I actually start getting paid.  Otherwise I’m not sure how I would be here right now.

When all else fails play fuzbol in your friend's basement.

When all else fails play fuzbol in your friend’s basement pass the time.

Now though I wanted to explore Winnipeg.

Richard and Melissa are two of my oldest closest friends.  We met in 2007 during my exchange, Richard was from Ottawa and Melissa was from Winnipeg.  During the program I watched them fall in love.  Since then they’ve gone to school together, lived together, had a baby together and this summer are getting married, I get to photograph it.

Richard and his son on the right of the frame.  Nice middle of the day play date for dad's and son's.

Richard and his son on the right of the frame. Nice middle of the day play date for dad’s and son’s.

Without question they let me into their home, fed me and gave me and my cat a place to stay.

Hung out with Richard and his friend on the day Brea was in hospital and watched them make beer.

I hung out with Richard and his friend on the day Brea was in the hospital and watched them make beer.

Richard and Melissa gave me the breakdown of what happened...  This statue of a Golden Boy sits a top the Manitoba Legislature in downtown Winnipeg, it's the largest provincial legislature in the country, larger than Queen's Park.  The reason is because at the the end of the 19th century when they were building it, Winnipeg was set to explode as a major American trading hub.  because the city is basically in the middle of the province it was a major rail hub for trade.  Then (and this is where my experience south comes into play) The United States backed the Panamanian independance movement, but forced them to allow soverign control over the canal.  In the end it ruined Winnipeg.  The city that was supposed to be Canada's first to hit two million people never even hit a million.

Richard and Melissa gave me the breakdown of what happened… This statue of a Golden Boy sits a top the Manitoba Legislature in downtown Winnipeg, it’s the largest provincial legislature in the country, larger than Queen’s Park. The reason is because at the the end of the 19th century when they were building it, Winnipeg was set to explode as a major American trading hub. because the city is basically in the middle of the province and it was a major rail hub for trade. Then (and this is where my experience south comes into play) The United States backed the Panamanian independence movement and with their support they were able to gain independence from Colombia but at a cost, they were forced to hand over sovereignty of the canal to the US. In the end it ruined Winnipeg. The city that was supposed to be Canada’s first to hit two million people never even hit a million.

Portage and Main, infamous to me as a cold and windy place.

Portage and Main, infamous to me as a cold and windy place. Also a major socio-economic divider within the city.

This may be one of the first times I saw a block heater in use.  Honestly.  It doesn't get cold the same way in Southern Ontario.  Anyway, I have one in my car now and i use it.

This may be one of the first times I saw a block heater in use. Honestly. It doesn’t get cold the same way in Southern Ontario. Anyway, I have one in my car now and i use it.

A selfie on The Forks in Winnipeg.  It's where the Red River meets the Assiniboine River.  Honestly I love Canadian history, so to be on these rivers for the first time was incredible.

A selfie on The Forks in Winnipeg. It’s where the Red River meets the Assiniboine River. Honestly I love Canadian history, so to be on these rivers for the first time was incredible.

Driving west I noticed these as far east as Belleville, and throughout my drive.  Big shiny containers of Alberta crude.  It was a reminder of where I was headed.

Driving west I noticed these as far east as Belleville, Ontario and throughout my drive. Big shiny containers of Alberta crude. It was a reminder of where I was headed.

Skating at The Forks (that's not me, some random person).  Winnipeg, in many ways reminded me of Ottawa.

A person skating at The Forks. Winnipeg, in many ways reminded me of Ottawa.

The night ended with a trip to the Toad in the Hole, a bar that SEVERAL people had told me to go to.  I drank an Old Fashioned for the first time, the best whiskey sour i'd ever had and this, a prairie fire shot, tequila and lots of tabasco.  We had agreed not to touch our phones while at the bar, and I failed after about an hour and half, so I had to digest that...

The night ended with a trip to the Toad in the Hole, a bar that SEVERAL people had told me to go to. I drank an Old Fashioned for the first time, the best whiskey sour I’d ever had and this, a prairie fire shot, tequila and lots of Tabasco. We had agreed not to touch our phones while at the bar, and I failed after about an hour and half, so I had to digest that…

Melissa stole my phone and took the previous photo of me taking the shot.  Then she turned it around for selfie of herself while I tried to deal with my burning mouth.

Melissa stole my phone and took the previous photo of me taking the shot. Then she turned it around for a selfie of herself while I tried to deal with my burning mouth.

I saw Portage and Main, The Forks, the Toad in the Hole, St. Boniface and downtown.  Not a bad little tour.

The next morning I rolled out of Winnipeg.  While my trip there had been tarnished by an expensive Instagram, a frozen night on the prairies and some bad memories of a previous relationship, I did realize something: I really liked the city, it was beautiful and the vibe I got was right up my alley.  Plus now that I had dealt with the negative feelings there I felt like there was space to come back and rediscover the city.  I can’t wait to do so.

Winnipeg was a far more significant stop in my journey than I had ever intended it to be.

I continued across the Prairies now crossing into Saskatchewan, it was also my first time in that province.  I suppose this goes without saying but I have NEVER seen a place that was so flat in my life.  Their license plates say “Land of the living sky,” I understand that now.

After crossing into Saskatchewan it leaves only the territories and Newfoundland and Labrador as places I haven't been to in Canada.

After crossing into Saskatchewan it leaves only the territories and Newfoundland and Labrador as places I haven’t been to in Canada.

Along the road I had to stop outside a grain elevator and take a picture.  Also it was the first day back on the road with Brea, everything seemed pretty smooth.

Along the road I had to stop outside a grain elevator and take a picture. Also it was the first day back on the road with Brea, everything seemed pretty smooth.

Literally the flattest place I had ever seen aside from Uruguay.

Literally the flattest place I had ever seen aside from Uruguay.

Potash.  The new prairie gold.

Potash. The new prairie gold.

I rolled into Saskatoon around 8 and met up with a friend of mine, Alexandra Stang.  We’d gone to university together and I knew her through the Charlatan.  She had actually officiated the election where I was elected photo editor.  That was 2010, it felt like a lifetime ago.

We chatted and she gave me a list of spots to check out in Saskatoon.  So the next morning I went and checked them out.  Saskatoon was another city that very pleasantly surprised me.

My cat attacking me after I let her out in Saskatoon.  five days in an her patience for me was very, very thin.

My cat attacking me after I let her out in Saskatoon. five days in an her patience for me was very, very thin.

Downtown Saskatoon in the morning.  I went for breakfast at a place called Jake's, it was great.

Downtown Saskatoon in the morning. I went for breakfast at a place called Jake’s, it was great.

One of the many bridges in Saskatoon.  it was a really pretty city.

One of the many bridges in Saskatoon. it was a really pretty city.

As I went west I saw this and I had to stop to take a picture.  I'm not 100% sure where the referenc is for me, but this EXACT image, of an old red grain elevator with the word's 'Saskatchewan Pool' written on it is forever a symbol of the province to me.

As I went west I saw this and I had to stop to take a picture. I’m not 100% sure where the reference is for me, but this EXACT image, of an old red grain elevator with the words ‘Saskatchewan Pool’ written on it is forever a symbol of the province to me.

Again, so flat.  Hay bales in the snow on the way to the Alberta border.

Again, so flat. Hay bales in the snow on the way to the Alberta border.

Now I felt like I was nearing the end of my journey, certainly it was the end of 800km+ days.  That afternoon I drove the three hours from Saskatoon to Lloydminster, a city where the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan literally runs through the middle.  My friend from Loyalist, Jeff Peters, work there as a reporter at the Lloydminister Meridian Booster, he’d moved out here almost a year earlier.

Jeff Peters, a.k.a. Rusty.  Last year he and I hiked through the bush in Mowhawk territory outside of Belleville for pictures of a railway blockade in support of Idle No More https://adietrich.wordpress.com/2013/02/ it's at the bottom of the post.  It's amazing to see where people are one year later.

Jeff Peters, a.k.a. Rusty. Last year he and I hiked through the bush in Mowhawk territory outside of Belleville for pictures of a railway blockade in support of Idle No More https://adietrich.wordpress.com/2013/02/ it’s at the bottom of the post. It’s amazing to see where people are one year later.

Inside the Meridian Booster's newsroom.

Inside the Meridian Booster’s newsroom.

It was nice to see him and get a feel for the work he was doing, I thought it was a bit of a preview for my upcoming work life.  We checked out a highway accident and a children’s play.

A car lies on it's side on the side of the Trans Canada highway.  both passengers walked away from the accident.

A car lies on it’s side on the side of the Trans Canada highway. both passengers walked away from the accident.

You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.  In Lloyminister.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. In Lloyminister.

The Husky upgrader outside of town under the moonlight.  I was now into oil country.

The Husky upgrader outside of town under the moonlight. I was now into oil country.

Ironically, in a city where gas was $1.08 a litre, Rusty runs out of gas in the middle of town.

Ironically, in a city where gas was $1.08 a litre, Rusty runs out of gas in the middle of town.

Literally the town is divided by two provinces.  Though for simplicity sake it runs on MST.

Literally the town is divided by two provinces. Though for simplicity sake it runs on MST.

The next morning we had breakfast, then spent three hours looking for my cat, which had gotten loose in his house and hid herself.  When I finally had her I hit the road to Edmonton.

Only two hours away, I rolled into town completely exhausted.  I pulled into the Super 8 there and spent the night.  It was noticeably warmer here, only about -5.  I decided against touring the city, I was too tired and Edmonton is only 4-5 hours from Peace River, I figured I’d be back.

I slept in late and almost missed my checkout.  I rushed out the door and hit the road.  I was so excited to get to Peace River, I may have had a bit of a heavy foot cruising down the Trans-Canada.

Finally I turned north.

And if I’m being totally honest here, for the first time it actually hit me.  As the mileage markers for Peace River continued to march along the road in front of me, so did the faces of my life in Ottawa, Belleville and Guelph.  Ontario is the only province I have ever called home.  I grew into independence in Guelph, I grew into adulthood in Ottawa and I grew into maturity in Belleville.

Tears rolled down my face as I motored north of Valleyview.

Seriously, after this roadsign there was a lot of ignoged/pent of emotions, thoughts and feelings that sort of burst the dam.

Seriously, after this road sign there was a lot of ignored/pent of emotions, thoughts and feelings that sort of burst the dam.  It seemed appropriate that the turn-off sign, out of all the communities it could have listed put a) the place where my friend had worked, which had made me think of Alberta in the first place, b) the place where my boss works and where the Record-Gazette is laid out and printed and c) my destination.

The sun was setting and the roads were getting worse.  I was growing more and more anxious, desperately wanting to be in Peace River.

Still had time to stop for one more car photo.  We made it, through blizzards, snow, ice, damage she kept moving.

Still had time to stop for one more car photo. We made it, through blizzards, snow, ice and damage she kept moving.

About 75km outside of Peace River I started to see a lot of these rigs, I tried counting I got to over 30 before I arrived, and that was just what I could easily see from the highway.

About 75km outside of Peace River I started to see a lot of these rigs, I tried counting I got to over 30 before I arrived, and that was just what I could easily see from the highway.

Then suddenly I came over a hill, below me sprawled out along the floor of a valley was a small town with a frozen river that sliced through the middle.  I had arrived in Peace River

I actually took this picture while at Peace River High doing an interview a week ater I arrived, but I didn't take a photo of Peace River immediately when I arrived.  Frankly I wanted to get home.

I actually took this picture while at Peace River High doing an interview a week after I arrived, but I didn’t take a photo of Peace River immediately when I arrived. Frankly I wanted to get home.

That night I met the office manager here, Shelly, she took me out for dinner, told me about the community and the people.  It was a really nice introduction to the town.  That night I slept in my own apartment.

Me outside the Record-Gazette office the evening I arrived.

Me outside the Record-Gazette office the evening I arrived.

I’m now here, I’ve been at work for just over a week.  I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.  As I move forward here I will post about my experiences in the town.

ADGoesWest052

Some deer I saw run behind my building my second morning in Peace River

My living room two days after arrival.

My living room two days after arrival.

For those of you who read this whole post, wow, just wow, I hope you enjoyed it.

The blog will return to it’s normal format, whatever that is, starting next week.

The posts will DEFINITELY be shorter going forward.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Fire and Ice – Winter has come

Well here we are in 2014.  I haven’t really been into the blogging much these last few months, however, I have a really good reason: I’ve been insanely busy.

The irony though is I actually have less to show for it than I normally would…  The latter half of this past semester was focused on writing, multimedia and longer form photo pieces.  Meaning while I was busy it was doing things, like calling sources, conducting interviews and video editing as opposed to just taking pictures.

I am feeling a little more refreshed after the winter break and upon my return to Belleville my roommate and I and stumbled onto some news.  This morning after breakfast we noticed a huge plume of smoke rising about eight blocks away and decided to check it out.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) - Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) – Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

Frankly Chris (my roommate) and I hesitated to leave, it was minus 30 today and we’re still on vacation.  However, we ended up trekking out.  By the time we got there the fire department had already cordoned off the block.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) - Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) – Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

I spoke with some neighbors who were huddling in the cold, they speculated on the cause of the fire.  They also told me everyone made it out safe, with the possible exception of one of the neighbors cats.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) - Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) – Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

We didn’t stay long because of the cold.  However, sitting at my kitchen table editing I was able to watch as the smoke plume dwindled over the course of an hour or two from the comfort of my own home.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) - Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (3/1/14) – Fire crews work to douse a fire which sprung up in a two storey home on Grier Street in Belleville Ontario shortly before noon on January 3, 2014. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

Now, rolling back the clock a bit to early October, we had a news video assignment due for multimedia class.  We had to find a community event and shoot and edit a short news video about the event.  So I did some research and found a small concert series that was kicking off an eight-month season of monthly shows featuring local musicians.  It was a really fun assignment and good chance to further improve my video skills, which is a medium I am growing to love more and more.

As October wore on I dove into one of our major, and cross-platform, assignments.  It was called Sense of Place and we had to visually connect a Belleville resident with a significant place in their life in town.

I found Lois Foster, a wonderful lady who has become one of the cities best known archivists (which is important in a small town with a big past).  Her home was once a veterinary hospital staffed by her and her husband, they ran the clinic for 40 years before her husband died nine years ago.  She still occupies the house that they shared and worked out of.

At the time I thought it was a really touching story about love, commitment and devotion and their story reminded me of my own maternal grandparents.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (24/10/2013) - Lois Foster is pictured at her home in Belleville Ontario.  For more than 30 years she helped her husband run a veterinary practice out of their home, doing field work with farm animals and small animal sugary in their garage.  Now nine years after his death Lois still lives in the home they shared and has become one of Belleville's most respected archivists having helped author several books on historical properties in town.  (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (24/10/2013) – Lois Foster is pictured at her home in Belleville Ontario. For more than 30 years she helped her husband run a veterinary practice out of their home, doing field work with farm animals and small animal sugary in their garage. Now nine years after his death Lois still lives in the home they shared and has become one of Belleville’s most respected archivists having helped author several books on historical properties in town. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

Underscoring this whole term has been a news photo assignment we needed complete.  The spot news assignment requires you to get a photo of an unplanned news event.  Really the only challenge is in finding the event, after you show up just get a good angle/vantage point and wait for the decisive moment.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (21/11/2013) - A man is taken into custody after a three hour standoff with armed members of Belleville's emergency task force on November 21, 2013.  Police arrived at 56 Everett Street in the city's west end around 11am and apprehended a suspect around 2pm.  The man was later released without charge. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (21/11/2013) – A man is taken into custody after a three hour standoff with armed members of Belleville’s emergency task force on November 21, 2013. Police arrived at 56 Everett Street in the city’s west end around 11am and apprehended a suspect around 2pm. The man was later released without charge. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

I had a big telephoto on that, to give you an idea of what I mean here is a photo from my Instagram that I took showing the view I had without a telephoto.

I did have permission from the property owner to be here, they were very helpful.

I did have permission from the property owner to be here, they were very helpful.

In addition to videos and stories, I’ve been working on a documentary project about the issue of gender dysphoria, which in a nutshell, is a disorder where someone is born the wrong sex.  The story is a work in progress and I have more images here.  Below is a portrait of the subject of this story, a trans-man named Martin.

OTTAWA Ont. (12/11/13) - Martin a trans-man sits outside the Loyalist College Residence's in Belleville Ontario on November 12 where he is currently studying journalism.  (Photo Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA Ont. (12/11/13) – Martin a trans-man sits outside the Loyalist College Residence’s in Belleville Ontario on November 12 where he is currently studying journalism. (Photo Adam Dietrich)

That project sprang from one I started working on last year, also for class, on a drag queen in Ottawa named Savannah Couture.  I have a written profile and photo story here.  However, when it came time for us to do our final video this semester I thought it would be interesting to go and check out one of her performances with my camera, below is the result.

Also please check out this group project I had the pleasure of collaborating on, it’s a sweet story about a former CN brake man who now runs the Belleville model train society.

Finally with the passing of 2013 I feel it’s time to declare a theme, for me, it was the year of the car.  In January 2013 I bought my first ever car, a 1996 Mazda 626 DX.  It was a gutless, featureless, rust-bucket that cost less than most of my lenses.  But she bore me safely across 50 000km (Largely from trips to Ottawa) and through my summer in Toronto.  In October the problems started.  First a leaky tranny line, then the exhaust rusted off then I was told the engine sub-frame was rotten and needed replacing (about $1000…) however, when they took it apart I was informed the rust had spread further than they knew, in short, it was terminal.  We went for a final ride, and then I stripped her of her logos and useful components before dropping her off to be scrapped.

Brea I resting at Silver Lake this past summer, a rest stop on Highway 7 between Tweed and Ottawa, Ontario.

Brea I resting at Silver Lake this past summer, a rest stop on Highway 7 between Tweed and Ottawa, Ontario.

It took a month of concerted effort, but it was worth it, for the same price I paid for my 5D mkII I found a 1996 Acura (Honda) Integra RS, so for you Honda nerds that means there’s no Vtec, although I don’t care because I don’t wanna burn oil, use premium fuel or need to drive at 5500 rpm with any regularity.  That being said, the previous owner added a short ram air intake, heders, custom exhaust and three strut bars.  The car has a lot of power for a 1.8L and literally floats on air around corners and because it’s a hatchback, I still have the same cargo space I had in my 626.  It’s also the first manual transmission I’ve ever driven, and I am hooked, I never want to drive automatic again.

Brea II getting saftied in Waterloo just prior to taking ownership a week ago.

Brea II getting saftied in Waterloo just prior to taking ownership a week ago.

So last semester was a tough one, but standing on the edge of 2014 with a bad ass new car, and a confident set of skills I’m pretty excited for what 2014 has in store.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


School Times

School is definitely back in session.

I feel every bit as busy as I was over the summer, only this time I’m paid in marks rather than money and publication.

While the school year is gearing up I find I’m not out shooting a lot but focusing on other things, writing, story planning and video stories.  I realize that with a year left in school now is the time to focus on areas that aren’t as strong as my photography.

I’m also in a mode where everything I do feels like it’s dictated by school’s needs.  Including this blog post!  Which will be read and marked by one of my wonderful teachers for our digital web pages and online class, so uh… Hello Dan!  Welcome to my blog.

After moving back to Belleville I was here the first weekend in September, but then the second weekend I went to Ottawa for the 10th anniversary of the House of Paint Hip Hop festival.

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) - Stephen 'Buddha' Leafloor, longtime Ottawa B-Boy and member of Canadian Floor Masters, Canada's oldest B-Bpy crew dating back to 1983, performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario.  The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) – Stephen ‘Buddha’ Leafloor, longtime Ottawa B-Boy and member of Canadian Floor Masters, Canada’s oldest B-Bpy crew dating back to 1983, performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario. The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

It’s an event I’ve photographed before, namely because it’s located under a bridge right next to the Carleton University campus, so while I was studying there it was convenient.

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) - Polaris Prize Nominee Zaki Ibrahim performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario.  The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) – Polaris Prize Nominee Zaki Ibrahim performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario. The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

What’s cool about the event is the way it blends, hip-hop, graffiti, breaking and other subcultures into a single festival.  This year was a bigger setup than in years prior.

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) - Montreal-based rapper Yassin 'The Narcicyst' Alsalman performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario.  The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) – Montreal-based rapper Yassin ‘The Narcicyst’ Alsalman performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario. The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

It was a lot of fun working with the lights on stage, and I was really impressed with the range of musical artists involved.

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) - Polaris Prize Nominee Zaki Ibrahim performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario.  The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, ON (13/09/2013) – Polaris Prize Nominee Zaki Ibrahim performs at the SoundClash concert during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario. The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

In addition to the music and breakdancing, there was graffiti writing ongoing throughout the event.

OTTAWA, ON (14/09/2013) - A graffiti writer, who requested he not be identified, selects a paint can while working on a piece during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario.  The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, ON (14/09/2013) – A graffiti writer, who requested he not be identified, selects a paint can while working on a piece during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario. The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

The writers weren’t nearly as forth coming with info, like names, about themselves as the dancers or rappers.

OTTAWA, ON (14/09/2013) - A graffiti writer, who requested he not be identified, works on a piece during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario.  The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, ON (14/09/2013) – A graffiti writer, who requested he not be identified, works on a piece during the tenth annual House of PainT urban arts and culture festival in Ottawa Ontario. The festival brings together graffiti writers, break dancers and hip-hop music under an overpass for four days of music and art. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

I used that first picture for a news feature assignment, the class this year is one of my favorites, like last year.  That’s because it is straight forward photography and critique, and because I’ve done well in that class in the past.

Our first assignment was to submit a feature photo.  In addition to the one above I tried other things including a weather feature.  I wandered over to a dog park here in Belleville a few weeks ago when we had record breaking heat (plus 30 degrees in September!).  The park was empty, but I had fun with framing.

BELLEVILLE, ON (10/09/2013) - Andrea DiRocco talks to her son on her cellphone while taking in the sun at East Zwick's Centennial Park in Belleville Ontario on a day when temperatures tied a 30 year high nearing 31 degrees celsius in the sun. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE, ON (10/09/2013) – Andrea DiRocco talks to her son on her cellphone while taking in the sun at East Zwick’s Centennial Park in Belleville Ontario on a day when temperatures tied a 30 year high nearing 31 degrees celsius in the sun. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

Another assignment in class for news is our long-term project.  We have to either shoot eight weather features, or follow one team, go to at least three games and submit eight gameplay photos.  I decided to go with sports because it’s easier to schedule in a few games and know I will get the assignment done rather than banking on some inclement weather between now and October 21.

About two weeks ago I went and photographed a Loyalist women’s soccer game.  It turned out well and having photographed soccer before I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it, so I’ve been trying to explore more creative sports photography.

BELLEVILLE, ON (17/9/2013) - St. Lawrence College's Stephanie Lelenka heads a ball during a game at Loyalist College on September 17.  St. Lawrence defeated Loyalist 1-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE, ON (17/9/2013) – St. Lawrence College’s Stephanie Lelenka heads a ball during a game at Loyalist College on September 17. St. Lawrence defeated Loyalist 1-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

The next week I was once again out at a Lancer’s game, this time in the middle of the rain.  Great soccer weather I guess?  Anyway I stuck my umbrella stick down my shirt, wore it like a hat and continued on like nothing had changed.

BELLEVILLE, ON (21/09/2013) - From left to right, Loyalist Lancers goalkeeper Kaitlyn Sanford, holds back Seneca Sting's Stefani Bisogno while Loyalist's newsiest addition Denissa Palmer tries to get the ball out.  Seneca defeated Loyalist 3-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE, ON (21/09/2013) – Loyalist Lancers goalkeeper Kaitlyn Sanford, tries to stop a ball headed out of bounds during a game against Seneca College on September 21. Seneca defeated Loyalist 3-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

While there I noticed that there was a group of motorcyclists in the parking lot behind the field, I assumed (and discovered later I was right) it was an M1 training course.  So I snapped a pan of the instructor riding by.

BELLEVILLE, ON (21/9/2013) - Leo Burosch, a motorcycle instructor, rides past a group of trainees during a motorcycle training course held at Loyalist College on September 21, 2013. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE, ON (21/9/2013) – Leo Burosch, a motorcycle instructor, rides past a group of trainees during a motorcycle training course held at Loyalist College on September 21, 2013. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

Finally this last Friday was the last of my three games for the long term assignment.  In contrast to earlier in the week Friday was a wonderfully sunny and warm day.

BELLEVILLE, ON (27/09/2013) - Loyalist Lancer's Kristen Larone is tripped while trying to get the ball past Cambrian College Golden Shield's Mary-Ellen Schroeder during Loyalist's final home game of the season on September 27.  Loyalist lost to Cambrian 4-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE, ON (27/09/2013) – Loyalist Lancer’s Kristen Larone is tripped while trying to get the ball past Cambrian College Golden Shield’s Mary-Ellen Schroeder during Loyalist’s final home game of the season on September 27. Loyalist lost to Cambrian 4-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

I tried getting close again to the goal, this time hoping to get the same shot I have above, only as a goal, however, the ref yelled at me an told me to back up.  I was a little surprised as I wasn’t interfering with play and was still more than a metre behind the boundary line.  I’ve never had issues before, however, it’s their field so I moved.

BELLEVILLE, ON (27/09/2013) - Loyalist Lancer's Sonya Dronsfield watches as a ball headed by Cambrian College Golden Shield's Mary-Ellen Schroeder during Loyalist's final home game of the season on September 27.  Loyalist lost to Cambrian 4-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE, ON (27/09/2013) – Loyalist Lancer’s Sonya Dronsfield watches as a ball headed by Cambrian College Golden Shield’s Mary-Ellen Schroeder during Loyalist’s final home game of the season on September 27. Loyalist lost to Cambrian 4-0. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

That about catches me up to where I am now, about to go into October.

We also started publishing the Pioneer in Class, I was on the second group of editors, we were short for content so I wrote a story about the soccer team, it was my first time ever writing a sports story.  You can check it out here.

 

Until Next time,

 

Adam Dietrich

 


The End. (At TCN)

My time here as Metroland’s summer photography co-op student at Toronto Community News is over.  Today is my last day, my last assignments have been filed and tomorrow I’m moving things to Belleville.  School orientation starts this week and it is going to be a crazy year.

I’ll start this blog post in mid-August.  Two Thursday’s ago I went to Albert Campbell Square in front of Scarborough’s Civic Centre.  It was India’s independence day, so the local Indian community came out to celebrate.

Yog Gulati holds an Indian flag outside Scarborough Civic Centre at the Hindu Cultural Society of Canada's celebration of India's Independence on Thursday. (August 15, 2013)

Yog Gulati holds an Indian flag outside Scarborough Civic Centre at the Hindu Cultural Society of Canada’s celebration of India’s Independence on Thursday. (August 15, 2013)

As the sun was setting it was a great time for pictures, with some dramatic light.

Tandra Mantri, left, applies make-up to dancer Akantsha Baish before a performance at Scarborough's Civic Centre during the Hindu Cultural Society of Canada's celebration of India's Independence on Thursday. (August 15, 2013)

Tandra Mantri, left, applies make-up to dancer Akantsha Baish before a performance at Scarborough’s Civic Centre during the Hindu Cultural Society of Canada’s celebration of India’s Independence on Thursday. (August 15, 2013)

Also interesting dances with great symmetry can make nice pictures.

Dancers perform at Scarborough's Civic Centre during the Hindu Cultural Society of Canada's celebration of India's Independence on Thursday. (August 15, 2013)

Dancers perform at Scarborough’s Civic Centre during the Hindu Cultural Society of Canada’s celebration of India’s Independence on Thursday. (August 15, 2013)

And then Ghanafest was happening in North York.  A colourful day celebrating all things Ghanian.

John Kamassa dances with a Ghanian flag at the second annual Canadian Ghanian festival of art an culture on Saturday in Earl Bales Park. (August 17, 2013)

John Kamassa dances with a Ghanian flag at the second annual Canadian Ghanian festival of art an culture on Saturday in Earl Bales Park. (August 17, 2013)

On Sunday I went to a car wash in Parkdale (over)run by zombies.  The Toronto zombie walk was there washing cars in blood, then soap, although one zombie told me blood was preferred over soap…

A zombie menaces passengers in a car during a zombie car wash at The Classic Coin Wash on Sunday to raise money for the Toronto Zombie Walk. (August 18, 2013)

A zombie menaces passengers in a car during a zombie car wash at The Classic Coin Wash on Sunday to raise money for the Toronto Zombie Walk. (August 18, 2013)

I capped off the day with a trip to a multicultural street festival on Eglinton Avenue.  It was actually pretty empty and low key when I got there, however, I found these steel drummers performing under and awning and the main drummer

Leroy (Ants) plays the steel drums at the York - Eglinton    International Street Festival on Sunday. (August 18, 2013)

Leroy (Ants) plays the steel drums at the York – Eglinton International Street Festival on Sunday. (August 18, 2013)

When I returned next week on Thursday I started off heading to the renaming of Toronto’s island ferry terminal.  It was renamed for the late-leader of the opposition Jack Layton.

Olivia Chow, MP for Trinity—Spadina and wife of the late Jack Layton, speaks at the unveiling of a statue of the late leader of the NDP at the Toronto Island Ferry Terminal renamed the Jack Layton terminal in his honour on Thursday. (August 22, 2013)

Olivia Chow, MP for Trinity—Spadina and wife of the late Jack Layton, speaks at the unveiling of a statue of the late leader of the NDP at the Toronto Island Ferry Terminal renamed the Jack Layton terminal in his honour on Thursday. (August 22, 2013)

Members of his family, unions and supporters were on hand, and they unveiled a statue of him riding a tandem bike.

Ward 19 Councillor and Jack's son Michael Layton smiles after the unveiling of a statute of his late father Jack Layton at the Toronto Island ferry terminal, now renamed the Jack Layton ferry terminal in his honour on Thursday. (August 22, 2013)

Ward 19 Councillor and Jack’s son Michael Layton smiles after the unveiling of a statute of his late father Jack Layton at the Toronto Island ferry terminal, now renamed the Jack Layton ferry terminal in his honour on Thursday. (August 22, 2013)

It’s the back to school season as well.  So I was sent to shoot a portrait of a school principle in a newly renovated wing of his building.  I confess portraits are still a weaker point of mine, I thought I would be shooting more of them this summer but I didn’t.  We tried a couple of things but I figured this one was my favorite, nice and simple.

Carmelo Nanfara the principle of Cedarvale Community School sits in the newly renovated wing of the school on Friday. (August 23, 2013)

Carmelo Nanfara the principle of Cedarvale Community School sits in the newly renovated wing of the school on Friday. (August 23, 2013)

In a sure sign my summer was ending, later that day I was sent to cover an exhibition game between the University of Guelph and University of Toronto baseball teams.

University of Toronto Varsity Blues' Oshima Yusuke checks for an umpires call after safely sliding into third base during an exhibition game against the University of Guelph Gryphons on Friday.  Toronto defeated Guelph 7-6. (August 23, 2013)

University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ Oshima Yusuke checks for an umpires call after safely sliding into third base during an exhibition game against the University of Guelph Gryphons on Friday. Toronto defeated Guelph 7-6. (August 23, 2013)

The day after was a day of ethnic celebrations.  The Toronto Chinatown Festival kicked off with politicians, Chinese dragons and traditional music.

A young girl peaks out from under a Chinese dragon costume at the opening of the Toronto Chinatown Festival on Saturday. (August 24, 2013)

A young girl peaks out from under a Chinese dragon costume at the opening of the Toronto Chinatown Festival on Saturday. (August 24, 2013)

Later that day I drove north to Downsview Park and Rastafest.  It was a hot day in direct sunlight, but pretty interesting nonetheless.

Adam Malaku waits for a performance to start while wrapped in a Rastafari flag on Saturday at the 2013 Rastafest at Downsview Park.  The flag is the same flag used by the state of Ethiopia 1897-1974. (August 24, 2013)

Adam Malaku waits for a performance to start while wrapped in a Rastafari flag on Saturday at the 2013 Rastafest at Downsview Park. The flag is the same flag used by the state of Ethiopia 1897-1974. (August 24, 2013)

And finally this past Sunday I started down at the beaches, where an organization called surfers healing has been running a free day camp for autistic children.  The camp pairs up kids with a pro surfer who teaches them how to stand up paddle.

A surfer helps a camper with on a stand-up paddle board during the second day of Aloha Toronto at Cherry Beach on Sunday.  The event, hosted by Surfers Healing Camp is a free camp which pairs up children with autism and professional surfers who teach them how to surf or stand-up paddle. (August 25, 2013)

A surfer helps a camper with on a stand-up paddle board during the second day of Aloha Toronto at Cherry Beach on Sunday. The event, hosted by Surfers Healing Camp is a free camp which pairs up children with autism and professional surfers who teach them how to surf or stand-up paddle. (August 25, 2013)

That afternoon I was in east Scarborough at a private home for a fundraiser for the Scarborough Terry Fox run.  There was a family of five there who all agreed to either have their heads shaved or dyed to help raise money.

Piet Weert has his head shaved to raise money for the Scarborough Terry Fox Run at a garden party in the Neilson road and 401 area on Sunday. (August 25, 2013)

Piet Weert has his head shaved to raise money for the Scarborough Terry Fox Run at a garden party in the Neilson road and 401 area on Sunday. (August 25, 2013)

Cecilia Avarino from EM Hair Fashion Place shaves Piet Weert's head raise money for the Scarborough Terry Fox Run at a garden party in the Neilson road and 401 area on Sunday. (August 25, 2013)

Cecilia Avarino from EM Hair Fashion Place shaves Piet Weert’s head raise money for the Scarborough Terry Fox Run at a garden party in the Neilson road and 401 area on Sunday. (August 25, 2013)

And with that I’m signing off.  My next post will be about the return to school.

Cheers,

Adam Dietrich


Dog Days

August has dawned, nights are cooler and days are getting shorter, as is my time here in Toronto.

This past week I got to shoot the Rogers Cup.  It was my first time shooting a world class sporting event.  I’ve photographed University level sports and even professional level hockey with the Belleville Bulls, I even once photographed a Raptors scrimmage in Ottawa but nothing at this level or speed.

Germany's Anna-Lena Grönefeld returns a ball during the final round of the women's doubles at the Rogers Cup at Rexall Centre on Sunday.  Grönefeld and her Czech partner Květoslava Peschkeová lost to Serbian Jelena Janković and Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik. (August 11, 2013)

Germany’s Anna-Lena Grönefeld returns a ball during the final round of the women’s doubles at the Rogers Cup at Rexall Centre on Sunday. Grönefeld and her Czech partner Květoslava Peschkeová lost to Serbian Jelena Janković and Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik. (August 11, 2013)

To say it was a challenge is an understatement, not only have I not photographed sports at this level before, but I’ve never taken a single picture of people playing tennis.  Ever.  I had ideas of where to stand and which pics to get but factoring in my ignorance of the game and the insane speed of the players it was a bit of a challenge.  After ten minutes of fumbling around and getting lots of pictures of returns with no ball visible I started to anticipate better and they started rolling in.

Romania's Sorana Cirstea wipes away tears after being defeated by America Serena Williams at the women's single final of the Rogers Cup at Rexall Centre on Sunday. (August 11, 2013)

Romania’s Sorana Cirstea wipes away tears after being defeated by America Serena Williams at the women’s single final of the Rogers Cup at Rexall Centre on Sunday. (August 11, 2013)

My biggest disappointment was not getting to court level in time to see Serena Williams play.  I had a job at the same time her match started, and I wanted to do a good job of both assignments.  By the time I drove to North York (30 minutes from the previous job), parked, got my media pass and got in she was well on her way.  My route to court level took me past the top of the upper bowl so I snapped a few pics just in case I couldn’t get lower in time.  As it happened by the time I had all my passes and was in the right place, her match was over.  Although I was court-side for her accepting the trophy and for the doubles match which followed. A full gallery of what I filed is online here.

Serena Williams celebrates with the Roger's Cup after defeating Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-0 in the women's single final at Rexall Centre on Sunday.  (August 11, 2013)

Serena Williams celebrates with the Roger’s Cup after defeating Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-0 in the women’s single final at Rexall Centre on Sunday. (August 11, 2013)

Earlier that day I attended a Catholic Mass at St. Clare’s church, they were celebrating their 100th year anniversary.  It was double booked for me though because the Roger’s Cup Women’s Final started at the same time as this assignment.  Somehow I managed to be in two places at the same time.

Father Vito Marziliano, right, accepts a book from a parishioner during a mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Clare's Catholic Church on Sunday.  The church marked it's centennial  with a solemn mass and and unavailing of a new statue of St. Clare. (August 11, 2013)

Father Vito Marziliano, right, accepts a book from a parishioner during a mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Clare’s Catholic Church on Sunday. The church marked it’s centennial with a solemn mass and and unavailing of a new statue of St. Clare. (August 11, 2013)

It was interesting, I find faith and religion fascinating and Catholic Masses are so ornate and full of ritual.  Having some degree of access near the alter was really enjoyable.

Parishioners pray during a mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Clare's Catholic Church on Sunday.  The church marked it's centennial  with a solemn mass and and unavailing of a new statue of St. Clare. (August 11, 2013)

Parishioners pray during a mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Clare’s Catholic Church on Sunday. The church marked it’s centennial with a solemn mass and and unavailing of a new statue of St. Clare. (August 11, 2013)

On Friday I was at the opening of the Taste of Danforth, a huge Greek food and culture festival in eastern Toronto.  The festival was opened with an event called the Danforth Dash.  Corporate teams of four raced hospital beds down Danforth Avenue to raise money for the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation and to be the winners of the coveted Gold Bed Pan Trophy.

The Amalgamated Transit Union team races a bed down Danforth Avenue during the 7th annual Danforth Dash on Friday.  The event opened the Pilaros Taste of the Danforth festival and raised money for the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation. (August 9, 2013)

The Amalgamated Transit Union team races a bed down Danforth Avenue during the 7th annual Danforth Dash on Friday. The event opened the Pilaros Taste of the Danforth festival and raised money for the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation. (August 9, 2013)

Rewinding a week earlier, I was out on feature patrol looking for standalone to help fill space.  I’d wandered over to the Ashbridge’s Bay Skatepark down by Toronto’s beaches.  Usually I have good success with the skateboarders there, but this time there was nothing.  So I wandered up to one of the upper bowls in the park and found a scooter team doing tricks, they were really good, so I asked to take some pictures,  one kid eagerly hoped in and promptly did a backflip for my camera.

Jack Kelly a scooter rider with Scooters Canada does a back flip in a bowl at Ashbridges Bay Skatepark on Sunday.  The Scooters Canada team was on a province wide skatepark tour, doing demonstrations in six skateparks in three days over the long weekend. (August 4, 2013)

Jack Kelly a scooter rider with Scooters Canada does a back flip in a bowl at Ashbridges Bay Skatepark on Sunday. The Scooters Canada team was on a province wide skatepark tour, doing demonstrations in six skateparks in three days over the long weekend. (August 4, 2013)

The day before I was down at the famous Caribana festival for the grand parade, due to a logistical issue I spent over an hour waiting outside.  It turned out the media check-in booth was inside the paid admission area, which I wasn’t able to access until I picked up my media pass from the media check-in which was located in the paid admission area which I couldn’t access…. The only way I got out of that repeating loop was because a photographer friend of mine who had a pass went into the event and came back with mine.

A masquerader performs on Lakeshore Boulevard on Saturday during the Grand Parade of the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival. (August 3, 2013)

A masquerader performs on Lakeshore Boulevard on Saturday during the Grand Parade of the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival. (August 3, 2013)

That headache set me back and meant I was only able to spend little under an hour at Caribana, and never quite got into the vibe.  Maybe next year?

A masquerader performs on Lakeshore Boulevard on Saturday during the Grand Parade of the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival. (August 3, 2013)

A masquerader performs on Lakeshore Boulevard on Saturday during the Grand Parade of the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival. (August 3, 2013)

My week that week started in the extreme ends of Toronto.  On Thursday morning I headed into Etobicoke in Toronto’s west end, it was my first time working in this part of the city.  Seems a local boy, Dave Bolland, was in town with the Stanley Cup.  Bolland won it playing with the Blackhawks, but everyone there was excited because he had just announced he’d been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The crowd was a mix a dejected Blackhawks fans and hopeful Leafs fans.

Former Chicago Blackhawk now Toronto Maple Leaf Dave Bolland holds the Stanley cup over his head during a parade down Mimico Avenue on Thursday. (August 1, 2013)

Former Chicago Blackhawk now Toronto Maple Leaf Dave Bolland holds the Stanley cup over his head during a parade down Mimico Avenue on Thursday. (August 1, 2013)

Did I mention it was Etobicoke on the day of the by-elections?  Rob and Doug Ford were there leading the parade and campaigning for their guy Doug Holyday who ended up winning Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Mayor Rob Ford waves at people on Mimico Avenue as he leads the Stanley Cup Parade on Thursday.  (August 1, 2013)

Mayor Rob Ford waves at people on Mimico Avenue as he leads the Stanley Cup Parade on Thursday. (August 1, 2013)

That gave me the rest of the day and evening to get across town into Scarborough where another by-election was happening.  It was my first time shooting political news, unless you want to count student council election at Carleton University.  It was intense because I was fighting with crowds and other photographers.  I know a few of the photographers ended up on insanely tight deadlines because Mitzie Hunter arrived late to the after party (by insanely tight I mean they had 15 minutes to shoot, file, edit and transmit).  For my part Inside Toronto wanted their pictures that night as well, although I was had more time.

Mitzie Hunter, left, and premiere Kathleen Wynne celebrate a Liberal victory the Scarborough-Guildwood by-election on Thursday. (August 1, 2013)

Mitzie Hunter, left, and premiere Kathleen Wynne celebrate a Liberal victory the Scarborough-Guildwood by-election on Thursday. (August 1, 2013)

The last two weeks have been busy but good, with a few bigger assignments.  While the stress level is always much higher with these types of events so is the reward.

That being Said I’m now into the last two weeks before school resumes and the summer job ends.

Cheers,

Adam


Chau Julio

Well as I approach the end of July and the start of my final month here at Toronto Community News, it feels like it’s been a valuable summer so far.

I’ll start with this past weekend at the Beaches International Jazz fest.  I was sent to cover a specific singer, but once you have a decent shot of them performing it’s fun to look around and see what else is there.

Jeff Boyd and Sarah Thomas dance during near the main stage of the Beaches International Jazz Festival on Sunday at Woodbine Park. (July 21,2013)

Jeff Boyd and Sarah Thomas dance during near the main stage of the Beaches International Jazz Festival on Sunday at Woodbine Park. (July 21,2013)

Earlier that Day I had been at Scarborough Town Centre for a vintage car show, it took me a while to find the actual part of the parking lot where they were, but once you found it, all those shiny old cars stick out.

A visitor checks out the interior of a 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible on display in the parking lot of Scarborough Town Centre during the second annual Show 'n Shine car show on Sunday.  Proceeds from the event went to support  the Rouge Valley Health System. (July 21, 2013)

A visitor checks out the interior of a 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible on display in the parking lot of Scarborough Town Centre during the second annual Show ‘n Shine car show on Sunday. Proceeds from the event went to support the Rouge Valley Health System. (July 21, 2013)

The day before I was downtown at Yonge – Dundas Square for the Unity Festival. It featured music and breakdancing, the breakdancing took me back to shooting Ottawa’s House of Paint event on film a few years ago.

Tristan Mina, 16, break-dances on one of the side stages at Unity Festival in Younge and Dundas Square on Saturday.  Proceeds from the show went to support the Unity charity which provides leadership outreach to youth. (July 20, 2013)

Tristan Mina, 16, break-dances on one of the side stages at Unity Festival in Yonge and Dundas Square on Saturday. Proceeds from the show went to support the Unity charity which provides leadership outreach to youth. (July 20, 2013)

Earlier on Saturday though I got to check out a rugby game down in the Beaches area.

The Balmy Beach's Emily Calley protects herself after being tackled in a scrum during the teams only home game this season against the Oshawa Vikings at Tubs and Gee Gage field on Saturday.  Oshawa defeated the Beach's 24-17. (July 20, 2013)

The Balmy Beach’s Emily Calley protects herself after being tackled in a scrum during the teams only home game this season against the Oshawa Vikings at Tubs and Gee Gage field on Saturday. Oshawa defeated the Beach’s 24-17. (July 20, 2013)

My weekend started off with some huge technical obstacles though.  On Friday afternoon I went to photograph a graduation ceremony for some new Toronto Paramedics and EMS workers.

Kelly Aravena receives her epaulette becoming one of Toronto's newest paramedics on Friday at Toronto EMS Headquarters. The city welcomed 25 new paramedics to the EMS service. (July 19, 2013)

Kelly Aravena receives her epaulette becoming one of Toronto’s newest paramedics on Friday at Toronto EMS Headquarters. The city welcomed 25 new paramedics to the EMS service. (July 19, 2013)

Member of the Toronto EMS Honour guard stand during the opening procession of a graduation ceremony for new paramedics on Friday. (July 19, 2013)

Member of the Toronto EMS Honour guard stand during the opening procession of a graduation ceremony for new paramedics on Friday. (July 19, 2013)

However, I started noticing a black bar across my photos, when I checked the sensor I realized a shutter blade was loose. That black bar has turned into a horizontal light leak across my sensor.  The biggest issue is it’s my 1D MKII body, it’s one of Canon’s proline camera body and I use it in inclement weather or situation where I fear for the safety of my, much more fragile, 5D MKII

The above photo was shot on my 5D.  The photo below was on the 1D after the light leak, at that point it was still only affecting some of my pictures.  It was at the Cultura Festival in Mel Lastman square and there was a sudden thunderstorm, blowing rain sideways, I was soaked from head to toe in seconds, this is the type of situation where I need this kind of bulky camera.

Vendors try to protect their stands against high winds and heavy rain in Mel Lastman Square on Friday.  Sudden thunderstorms and high winds delayed the start of the final day of the festival by over an hour.  (July 19, 2013)

Vendors try to protect their stands against high winds and heavy rain in Mel Lastman Square on Friday. Sudden thunderstorms and high winds delayed the start of the final day of the festival by over an hour. (July 19, 2013)

Here is a sample of just how the loose shutter blade was affecting my pictures, until I can find a repair quote (because I’m not sure Canon Canada still services this make) I’m down to one body.

A ruined picture because of a shutter blade, the big black section taking up a third of the frame...

A ruined picture because of a shutter blade, the big black section taking up a third of the frame…

The weekend before that I got to check out the Thai Festival in Nathan Phillips Square.

Performers at the Taste of Thailand + ASEAN Festival throw water at onlookers as they demonstrate a Thai new year celebration on Sunday at Nathan Phillips Square. (July 14, 2013)

Performers at the Taste of Thailand + ASEAN Festival throw water at onlookers as they demonstrate a Thai new year celebration on Sunday at Nathan Phillips Square. (July 14, 2013)

Sometimes interesting photos come from other things too, like off to the side of the Mad Pride Parade in Parkdale. Mad Pride is a march to celebrate of those who have interacted with the mental health system and while waiting for the march to arrive at an intersection I looked down the road and spotted a lady leading another one by a leash.  Not something you see everyday, so I instinctively took a picture…  Before I got the chance to go over and introduce myself, they turned and came towards me and offered a business card asking for a copy.

Kai'enne leads her sub, Ava, down Queen Street West on Sunday. (July 14, 2013)

Kai’enne leads her sub, Ava, down Queen Street West on Sunday. (July 14, 2013)

The evening before I popped by the Latin Arts Festival in Mel Lastman Squre in North York.  While it was slow to start, in terms of interesting pictures, it turned out to be quite the event.

Danilo Rosa, a Samba dancer, leads a Samba performance on Sunday at the Latin Arts Festival in Mel Lastman Square.  Samba, which is native to Brazil, is hugely popular and features large marching drum bands, whistles and dancing with colourful costumes. (July 14, 2013)

Danilo Rosa, a Samba dancer, leads a Samba performance on Sunday at the Latin Arts Festival in Mel Lastman Square. Samba, which is native to Brazil, is hugely popular and features large marching drum bands, whistles and dancing with colourful costumes. (July 14, 2013)

While the event was still gearing up I walked around to a few vendors and asked to do some portraits.  One of them, an artist from Buenos Aries, had great pieces for a backdrop but I discovered quickly spoke limited English, at one point he asked, “Hablas Espanol?” Which coincidentally, I do, so we had a brief conversation I snapped a picture and continued on.

Padulo, an abstract artist originally from Buenos Aries Argentina, is pictured with his work at a booth at the Latin Arts Festival on Sunday in Mel Lastman Square. (July 14, 2013)

Padulo, an abstract artist originally from Buenos Aries Argentina, is pictured with his work at a booth at the Latin Arts Festival on Sunday in Mel Lastman Square. (July 14, 2013)

It had been a South American kind of day.  Before the Latin Arts Festival I had been to the Salsa on St. Clair festival, a huge dance festival on St. Clair Avenue downtown.  Nice light, low film speeds, almost wide open apertures and cool dancing made for some interesting pictures.

Harry Anderson, left dances with his wife Ernestine on Saturday at the Salsa on St. Clair festival. The two day festival took place on St. Clair West between Winona and Christie. (July 13, 2013)

Harry Anderson, left dances with his wife Ernestine on Saturday at the Salsa on St. Clair festival. The two day festival took place on St. Clair West between Winona and Christie. (July 13, 2013)

However, the biggest surprise was twenty minutes after arriving  while I was still making my way down the festival from one end to another the first time when I came to a road block.  The police had set up tape and were blocking access to a section of the street.  I learned later that two people had been stabbed pretty much at the same time I was arriving at the festival at the other side, about twenty minutes earlier.  One man had been taken to hospital with a chest wound, the other was in the ambulance still on scene about to leave with a hand wound.

A member of the Toronto Police Auxiliary force speaks with a bystander after a man was stabbed in the chest and another cut during a fight at the Salsa on St. Clair festival on Saturday. The two day festival took place on St. Clair West between Winona and Christie. (July 13, 2013)

A member of the Toronto Police Auxiliary force speaks with a bystander after a man was stabbed in the chest and another cut during a fight at the Salsa on St. Clair festival on Saturday. The two day festival took place on St. Clair West between Winona and Christie. (July 13, 2013)

Blood was still fresh on the pavement, CBC was a sponser of the event and had been handing out pins.

Blood, clothes and a pin belonging to one of the victims of a stabbing incident at Salsa on St. Clair, lay on the street on Sunday. (July 14, 2013)

Blood, clothes and a pin belonging to one of the victims of a stabbing incident at Salsa on St. Clair, lay on the street on Sunday. (July 14, 2013)

That Sunday was a busy day, before Salsa on St. Clair I stopped by a local hockey arena, the ice had been melted and a massive all day roller derby was happening.  I only had time to photograph one game, and by total coincidence (honestly) the game that I ended up shooting was Ottawa Vs. Guelph (my two homes).  Guelph destroyed Ottawa.

Top Herloins' 'Steamy Steelborn,' in orange, from Guelph takes a check from the Cannon Dolls' 'Punch Buggies,' from Ottawa, battle it out at the start of a bout during The Fresh and the Furious an all day roller derby hosted at Ted Reeve Arena on Saturday. (July 13, 2013)

Top Herloins’ ‘Steamy Steelborn,’ in orange, from Guelph takes a check from the Cannon Dolls’ ‘Punch Buggies,’ from Ottawa, battle it out at the start of a bout during The Fresh and the Furious an all day roller derby hosted at Ted Reeve Arena on Saturday. (July 13, 2013)

Even earlier in the day before, the Roller Derby, I went to Ashbridges Bay Skatepark, the beaches editor wanted some filler, in the form of nice pictures of regular things happening.  Skateboarding is always fun to shoot and that’s where the photo request said to go.

Phillip Daoust rides a wall on a sunny Saturday at Ashbridges Bay skate park. (July 13, 2013)

Phillip Daoust rides a wall on a sunny Saturday at Ashbridges Bay skate park. (July 13, 2013)

The day had started off near the harbor at Yonge and Lakeshore heading south.  The festival of India had begun and they started with and epic parade down the centre of Toronto to the harbor front, where the festival then moved to Toronto Island.

Surendre Gandhi, Originally from Bombay India f dances down Queens Quay as part of the Festival of India parade on Saturday.  The parade went down Younge Street from Bloor to the waterfront where the festival moved to Toronto Island for two days of festivities. (July 13, 2013)

Surendre Gandhi, Originally from Bombay India f dances down Queens Quay as part of the Festival of India parade on Saturday. The parade went down Yonge Street from Bloor to the waterfront where the festival moved to Toronto Island for two days of festivities. (July 13, 2013)

Going into my last month I’m pretty excited, there’s a by-election in Scarborough next week and soon it will be the Rogers Cup.  Until next time.

Adam


Into July

A driver attempts to push his car through a flooded Todd Baylis Blvd near Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Ave West on Monday.  Behind him is a stranded TTC bus and another car.  Shortly before 5pm a sudden and severe thunderstorm swept the Toronto area causing occasional flooding. (July 8, 2013)

A driver attempts to push his car through a flooded Todd Baylis Blvd near Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Ave West on Monday. Behind him is a stranded TTC bus and another car. Shortly before 5pm a sudden and severe thunderstorm swept the Toronto area causing occasional flooding. (July 8, 2013)

On Monday I was just leaving the office as some nasty storm clouds rolled in.  I started to drive home and after I got off the highway it became apparent this storm was more intense than a regular one.  I spotted a road off to the side where cars were trying to push through more the 3ft of water in some cases.  Not realizing then how widespread the flash floods across the city were I found a parking lot a little further down, threw on my rain gear and went to work.  The pictures turned out great and ran on the front page of the York Guardian and inside all the others.  I felt vindicated for my unpaid over time, which had me standing waist deep in water.

The greatest part though was the irony I encountered.  An hour before the storm, one of the reporters in the newsroom made a crack about journalists being soft these days coming out of school.  Soft, pfft.

A man uses his cellphone in front of his car and a TTC bus, both of which became stranded after flooding on  Todd Baylis Blvd near Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Ave West on Monday.  Shortly before 5pm a sudden and severe thunderstorm swept the Toronto area causing occasional flooding. (July 8, 2013)

A man uses his cellphone in front of his car and a TTC bus, both of which became stranded after flooding on Todd Baylis Blvd near Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Ave West on Monday. Shortly before 5pm a sudden and severe thunderstorm swept the Toronto area causing occasional flooding. (July 8, 2013)

The weekend before was very busy, very hot and also very wet I found myself with eleven assignments over the two days, although that’s common on weekends.  There was the Taste of Lawrence festival in Scarborough, which featured performances and food.

Jimmy 'Tosquia' Libaque performs a complex flip during a Capoeira performance at the taste of Lawrence Festival on Sunday.  Capoeira is a dance form and martial art developed by Brazilian slaves, traditionally each practitioner is given a nickname by their master, 'Tosquia' means 'to clip' in Portuguese and was a reference to the patterns Libaque would have shaved into his hair. (July 7, 2013)

Jimmy ‘Tosquia’ Libaque performs a complex flip during a Capoeira performance at the taste of Lawrence Festival on Sunday. Capoeira is a dance form and martial art developed by Brazilian slaves, traditionally each practitioner is given a nickname by their master, ‘Tosquia’ means ‘to clip’ in Portuguese and was a reference to the patterns Libaque would have shaved into his hair. (July 7, 2013)

Jeisa Rodriguez and her son Nico watch a Capoeira performance on Lawrence Ave East during the Taste of Lawrence Festival on Sunday.  Capoeira is a martial art originally used by Brazilian slaves, it was designed to look like a dance so the plantation owners didn't know their slaves were training to fight, now it is an increasingly popular martial art. (July 7, 2013)

Jeisa Rodriguez and her son Nico watch a Capoeira performance on Lawrence Ave East during the Taste of Lawrence Festival on Sunday. Capoeira is a martial art originally used by Brazilian slaves, it was designed to look like a dance so the plantation owners didn’t know their slaves were training to fight, now it is an increasingly popular martial art. (July 7, 2013)

Mark Williams flashes the peace sign as he sits at his post under a brightly coloured umbrella during the Taste of Lawrence Festival on Sunday.  The umbrellas were used to protect against both rain and shine during the weekend. (July 7, 2013)

Mark Williams flashes the peace sign as he sits at his post under a brightly coloured umbrella during the Taste of Lawrence Festival on Sunday. The umbrellas were used to protect against both rain and shine during the weekend. (July 7, 2013)

There was a baseball game that was very nearly rained out, and I had to devise a system to stay dry while standing in a field in a rainstorm.

Etobicoke Ranger's Lucas Storm strikes out during a rainy Toronto Baseball Association Pee Wee game on Sunday at Talbot park in Leaside.  Etobicoke went on to win 7-5. (July 7, 2013)

Etobicoke Ranger’s Lucas Storm strikes out during a rainy Toronto Baseball Association Pee Wee game on Sunday at Talbot park in Leaside. Etobicoke went on to win 7-5. (July 7, 2013)

Etobicoke Ranger's Leo Markotic throws a pitch against Leasides Chris Dinnick during a rainy Toronto Baseball Association Pee Wee game on Sunday at Talbot park in Leaside.  Etobicoke went on to win 7-5. (July 7, 2013)

Etobicoke Ranger’s Leo Markotic throws a pitch against Leasides Chris Dinnick during a rainy Toronto Baseball Association Pee Wee game on Sunday at Talbot park in Leaside. Etobicoke went on to win 7-5. (July 7, 2013)

Then there was the Italian Festival, which happened to get soaked in heavy rains while I was there.

Peter Elias dances to music in the rainy Corso Italia on Sunday during the Italian Festival.  Powerful afternoon showers poured over the festival on Sunday. (July 7, 2013)

Peter Elias dances to music in the rainy Corso Italia on Sunday during the Italian Festival. Powerful afternoon showers poured over the festival on Sunday. (July 7, 2013)

The weekend though began with fun in the sun at the Heatwave Charity volleyball tournament.  Metroland had a team, and their own photographer (me).

One of Metroland's staff returning a serve.

One of Metroland’s staff returning a serve.

Prior to the busy weekend though I spent my Friday evening wandering around Ford Fest, the Mayor’s annual BBQ, it was a very interesting assignment for me.

Mayor Rob Ford greets Aiman Abaujabeen at the annual Ford Fest BBQ on Friday, this year it was hosted at Thomson Park in Scarborough instead of Etobicoke. (July 5, 2013)

Mayor Rob Ford greets Aiman Abaujabeen at the annual Ford Fest BBQ on Friday, this year it was hosted at Thomson Park in Scarborough instead of Etobicoke. (July 5, 2013)

Kathy and Mike Ford check their phone in front of a banner at Ford Fest, the mayor's annual BBQ hosted in Thomson Park in Scarborough on Friday.  The Ford's live in Bowmanville but travelled to Toronto for the event because they admire him as a mayor. (July 5, 2013)

Kathy and Mike Ford check their phone in front of a banner at Ford Fest, the mayor’s annual BBQ hosted in Thomson Park in Scarborough on Friday. The Ford’s live in Bowmanville but travelled to Toronto for the event because they admire him as a mayor. (July 5, 2013)

Joseph Florio, 84, hold his dog Coco and a sign in support of the Mayor during the Mayor's annual BBQ which was hosted in Thomson Park in Scarborough on Friday instead of Etobicoke this year. (July 5, 2013)

Joseph Florio, 84, hold his dog Coco and a sign in support of the Mayor during the Mayor’s annual BBQ which was hosted in Thomson Park in Scarborough on Friday instead of Etobicoke this year. (July 5, 2013)

Earlier that week I went to Ottawa for fun, and even earlier that week was Canada Day.  I took lots of flag waving pics in Scarborough, but my favorite one for some reason was this one below.  It never even ran I just like it for some reason.

Dancer Luksima Siva, 19, performs at the Canada Rocks! pre-Canada Day event on on Thursday night. (June 27, 2013)

Dancer Luksima Siva, 19, performs at the Canada Rocks! pre-Canada Day event on on Thursday night. (June 27, 2013)

Prior to Canada Day I had, had another busy weekend.  Including a soccer tournament called the Robby.  It had been a long time since I photographed soccer but I felt like I fell back into it quite well.  This one ran on the front page of the City Centre Mirror.

Ajax FC's Kevon Grant dives to stop an attack by Moordale Lightning's Wilfred Robinson on Saturday as part of the U-13 division of the Robbie International Soccer Tournament .  Mooredale defeated Ajax 2-0 at Highview park. (June 29, 2013)

Ajax FC’s Kevon Grant dives to stop an attack by Mooerdale Lightning’s Wilfred Robinson on Saturday as part of the U-13 division of the Robbie International Soccer Tournament . Mooredale defeated Ajax 2-0 at Highview park. (June 29, 2013)

The week before many of the assignments were about the run-up to Canada day.  Like the Canada Rocks event which was hosted at the Scarborough museum, and where I took this picture.  This and the Capoeira photo of Jimmy doing the flip were my two favorites from the last two weeks.

A drummer with the Highland Creek pipe-band performs in the Lawson Road Legion, Canada Day Parade in Scarborough on Monday. (July 1, 2013)

A drummer with the Highland Creek pipe-band performs in the Lawson Road Legion, Canada Day Parade in Scarborough on Monday. (July 1, 2013)

And before that?  Well that’s detailed in the previous post.  Anyway for now it’s back to work.

Adam Dietrich


First week in

It’s been just over a week since my job officially began here at the Toronto Community News.   It’s been a fun and challenging week, with a steep but manageable learning curve.

I should start by saying Toronto is the biggest city I have ever lived and worked in.  I grew up In Guelph and Milton, so I’ve visited Toronto often and the cultural impact of the city on southwestern Ontario is huge.   Living in the shadow of the city is different than living in the city itself.

However, once I find myself on assignment there’s no much that makes working in Toronto different than working in other towns.  I should point out through my beat is mostly community news.  The company that owns Toronto Community News, Metroland Media Group is a subsidiary of Torstar media.  Torstar’s flagship publication is the Toronto Star.  So while I’m in Toronto most of the events I shoot are at the community level, or typically the things that the Star wouldn’t catch.

So I approach each assignment with an old acting adage ringing in my ears, “There are no small parts assignments only small actors photojournalists.”  In my first week I covered multicultural festivals, cricket events, a midget level baseball game, a regional track meet, the tall ship festival, Guyanese independence day, one of the Toronto Jazz Festival events and community fundraisers to name a few.

Most of the papers publish on Thursday’s some like the North York and Scarborough Mirror’s publish on both Tuesday and Thursday. I had Tuesday and Wednesday off this week so when I came in this morning I got to see my pictures in print.  This isn’t the first time, but it’s the first time in a while and it is still exciting to see your pictures in print.

With this introduction aside here are some pictures running loose in reverse chronological order.

On Sunday I only had four assignments, however, they were mostly outside and Toronto was under an extreme heat and humidity advisory for the day.  I averaged drinking a litre of water per hour just to keep hydrated.  Considering the athletes at the baseball game and track meet I photographed though I don’t think I can complain.

David Zhang, of the Scarborough Stingers throws a pitch during a game against the East York Bulldogs during a game on Sunday.  The Bulldogs defeated the Stingers 7 - 1. (June 23, 2013)

David Zhang, of the Scarborough Stingers throws a pitch during a game against the East York Bulldogs during a game on Sunday. The Bulldogs defeated the Stingers 7 – 1. (June 23, 2013)

It was my first time shooting baseball at any level.  I really liked it.  I like the sport anyways and it’s great for pictures.  Hopefully I will shoot more baseball games this summer and get better.

John West of the Scarborough Stingers slides into second base during a game against the East York Bulldogs on Sunday. The Bulldogs defeated the Stingers 7 - 1. (June 23, 2013)

John West of the Scarborough Stingers slides into second base during a game against the East York Bulldogs on Sunday. The Bulldogs defeated the Stingers 7 – 1. (June 23, 2013)

After the baseball game I rushed out to Centennial College’s progress ave. campus for the Toronto Guyanese community’s celebration of their independence day.  Guyana was celebrating their 47th year of independence and their President happened to be in Toronto visiting that weekend so he came by to visit the celebrations.

President Donald Ramotar of Guyana, shares a laugh as he poses for pictures with dancers from the Multi-Culture and Folk Arts Association of Canada during the 47th Guyanese independence day on Sunday.  The Chinese are one of the 11 major ethnicities that migrated to Guyana and helped found the current country. (June 23, 2013)

President Donald Ramotar of Guyana, shares a laugh as he poses for pictures with dancers from the Multi-Culture and Folk Arts Association of Canada during the 47th Guyanese independence day on Sunday. The Chinese are one of the 11 major ethnicities that migrated to Guyana and helped found the current country. (June 23, 2013)

My Sunday though had started out at York University in the morning.  There was a regional high school track meet hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion.  In the 40+ degree heat, running a 100m or 1600m race is not my idea of fun.  Photographing it was good though.

I also got my first cover photo with Metroland there, the photo below ran on the front page of the Tuesday edition of the North York Mirror, hopefully there’ll be more of these in the following weeks.

Runners line up on their blocks to await the start of the youth boys 100m at the Royal Canadian Legion District D Track and Field event.  Despite high that and humidity athletes pushed themselves in the Sunday competition. (June 23, 2013)

Runners line up on their blocks to await the start of the youth boys 100m at the Royal Canadian Legion District D Track and Field event. Despite high that and humidity athletes pushed themselves in the Sunday competition. (June 23, 2013)

This photo was me trying different things, while I have no issue getting the ‘standard’ images required.  After that it’s fun to play around and try new things and new ways of telling the story.

Runners pass by a hurdle beside the track during the youth boys 100m race at the Royal Canadian Legion District D track and field competition on Sunday. (June 23, 2013)

Runners pass by a hurdle beside the track during the youth boys 100m race at the Royal Canadian Legion District D track and field competition on Sunday. (June 23, 2013)

My Sunday was capped off with a nice walk around the Fairbank Village area of Toronto near Eglinton and Dufferin streets.  There was a multicultural festival on the street that day.  While actual cultural activities seemed to be lacking there were food and buskers.

Sophie Ouckama, 10 receives a balloon flower on Sunday at the Fairbank Village Multicultural Summerfest. (June 23, 2013)

Sophie Ouckama, 10 receives a balloon flower on Sunday at the Fairbank Village Multicultural Summerfest. (June 23, 2013)

The day before had me running all over town for six different assignments.  Once again most of them were outside except on this day instead of extreme heat it was periods of thunderstorms.

This photo was from a block party neighborhood event; the rain kept most people home or seeking shelter under things.

A family takes refuge from the rain under a store sign during the Neighbours' Night Out event on Overlea Boulevardd on Saturday.  (June 22, 2013)

A family takes refuge from the rain under a store sign during the Neighbours’ Night Out event on Overlea Boulevardd on Saturday. (June 22, 2013)

I was also able to catch part of the Toronto Jazz Festival, at one of the satellite shows at the Shops at Don Mills.  There was a performance by the Toronto based Dixie Demons, it was pretty fun, despite the small crowds and rain.

Dan Douglas of the Dixie Demons plays the trombone during a performance on Saturday at the Shops at Don Mills as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. (June 22, 2013)

Dan Douglas of the Dixie Demons plays the trombone during a performance on Saturday at the Shops at Don Mills as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. (June 22, 2013)

On the Friday before I was asked to go and shoot the Redpath Waterfront festival, a four-day festival along Toronto’s waterfront featuring a fleet of tall ships.  They also had events and performances; one of these events was a Flyboarding demonstration.  Which was one of the coolest things ever.

Daniel Kaufman, right, demonstrates flyboarding at the Redpath Waterfront Festival at the Toronto harbour front on Friday.  Water pressure is used to hover above the water, the pressure is generated by pumping water from the Sea-doo driven by  Patrick Vallières, through a hose and out of the bottom of the Flyboard. (June 21, 2013)

Daniel Kaufman, right, demonstrates flyboarding at the Redpath Waterfront Festival at the Toronto harbour front on Friday. Water pressure is used to hover above the water, the pressure is generated by pumping water from the Sea-doo driven by Patrick Vallières, through a hose and out of the bottom of the Flyboard. (June 21, 2013)

Personally though I was interested in the ships.  About ten years ago I sailed aboard a ship called the STV Fair Jeanne, which sails out of Ottawa.  I distinctly remember being on watch at 4am in the middle of a rainstorm in June, under sail into Toronto harbour as the sun slowly started to rise behind us.  The event lets people who may be interested tour the ships and get a feel for them before they all move onto the next stop and the Fair Jeanne was there this year too.

Jesse Moniz, 19, left, and Giuseppina Fazio, 19, share a moment in front of the Liana 's Ransom during the Redpath Waterfront Festival along the harbour front  on Friday .  Eleven tall ships docked in Toronto for the four day festival. (June 21, 2013)

Jesse Moniz, 19, left, and Giuseppina Fazio, 19, share a moment in front of the Liana ‘s Ransom during the Redpath Waterfront Festival along the harbour front
on Friday . Eleven tall ships docked in Toronto for the four day festival. (June 21, 2013)

Last Thursday was one of my first officially assigned assignments at a small community park in York.  The Jays Care Foundation, or the charitable wing of Toronto Blue Jays, had just refurbished a local ball-park, they had some community leaders and two former Jays on hand for the event.

Baron Catena, 10 months old, held by his dad Shawn touches the face of former Blue Jay and hall of famer Roberto Alomar.  Alomar was one of the many people who spoke at the opening of the newly refurbished Smythe Park baseball diamond. (June 20, 2013)

Baron Catena, 10 months old, held by his dad Shawn touches the face of former Blue Jay and hall of famer Roberto Alomar. Alomar was one of the many people who spoke at the opening of the newly refurbished Smythe Park baseball diamond. (June 20, 2013)

They also had some of their trainers on hand to offer up a skills clinic to local kids.

Kids from the Blue Jays Baseball academy take part in some skills drills after the unveiling of the newly refurbished Smythe Park baseball diamond.  The drills also included kids from the rookie leagues which is a summer program for kids living n under resourced areas across Canada. (June 20, 2013)

Kids from the Blue Jays Baseball academy take part in some skills drills after the unveiling of the newly refurbished Smythe Park baseball diamond. The drills also included kids from the rookie leagues which is a summer program for kids living n under resourced areas across Canada. (June 20, 2013)

When there’s down time and during the first day or two I was asked on occasion to go look for enterprising or feature pictures.  These are standalone photos of daily life in the city.  Sometimes they can have a newsy focus though it’s not needed.  An example would be weather pics on a hot or rainy day.

Miru Park, 16, (left) watches as Chris Foley, 38, grinds and edge at Woodbine Park Skate Park.  (June 20, 2013)

Miru Park, 16, (left) watches as Chris Foley, 38, grinds and edge at Woodbine Park Skate Park. (June 20, 2013)

Feature hunting as it’s called is just walking around taking pictures and talking to people, not a bad way to spend a few hours on a working day.

It’s been a diverse week and while the past week was mostly settling in I think the next few will go well.  I look forward to shooting more and posting more, and if you’re in the Toronto area check out the Metroland Mirrors you might see my pics.

Cheers,

Adam Dietrich


Summertimes

I have been an inactive blogger for sometime.  I think in February I thought life couldn’t get busier than it was but that changed in March, when I had an assignment (at least one) due every day for the entire month.  By April things started to slow down, and since May it’s mostly been a waiting game.

However, while things in April started to slow, I had also begun my chase for summer work.  Initially I began with high hopes, at one point in mid-April it seemed like there were at least three reasonably likely prospects with different newspapers.  Those petered off and by mid-May I began fearing I’d have to find work outside photography for the summer.

So I travelled to Ottawa, there I found work as a student house painter.  On the day I was supposed to start working though I received an email offering me a job with Metroland’s group of newspapers in Toronto.

While I start tomorrow I realized I hadn’t posted a blog update in months.  First I was too busy, then I was too lazy and on summer vacation and finally my computer was in for repair.  So now I’ll catch up.

My last blog posted was at the end of February, so I’ll start in February in Ottawa.

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/2/13) - Ottawa Senators defence, Erik Karlsson and his wife Therese, watch as model walk down the runway during Ottawa Fashion Week on February 10. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/2/13) – Ottawa Senators defense, Erik Karlsson and his wife Therese, watch as model walk down the runway during Ottawa Fashion Week on February 10. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

In mid-February I photographed the Ottawa Fashion Week for FAJO Magazine.  It was an interesting affair and my first time shooting anything in the fashion world.  While most of the weekend was spent at the end of the runway, I was able to get some interesting moments and get a tour backstage.

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/2/13) - Models wearing designs by Anjoreen Couture walk down the runway on Feburary 10 the final night of Ottawa Fashion Week. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/2/13) – Models wearing designs by Anjoreen Couture walk down the runway on Feburary 10 the final night of Ottawa Fashion Week. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

My trip backstage was brief, I was only allowed ten minutes but it was fascinating to see what happens behind the scenes at a fashion week event.

OTTAWA, Ont. (9/2/13) - Models wearing designs by Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi have their make up checked before walking down the runway on February 9 the second night of Ottawa Fashion Week. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (9/2/13) – Models wearing designs by Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi have their make up checked before walking down the runway on February 9 the second night of Ottawa Fashion Week. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

Most of my other February exploits are detailed in a previous post here.

As March dawned the second years began finishing up their final projects in preparation for their end of program internships.  The first years meanwhile were trying to keep from drowning in tedious assignments.  The program is four semesters long and semester two and three are notorious for their intensity.

On the second weekend in March I returned to Ottawa to photograph the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 men’s basketball championships.  It’s Canada’s version of NCAA final in March.

OTTAWA, Ont. (9/3/13) - University of Ottawa Gee Gee's forward Vikas Gill and Acadia University Axemen guard Tyler Scott rush for an open ball during the bronze medal game of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's basketball championship at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario on March 10.  The Axemen lost the bronze medal to the Gee Gee's 92-85 in overtime. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (9/3/13) – University of Ottawa Gee Gee’s forward Vikas Gill and Acadia University Axemen guard Tyler Scott rush for an open ball during the bronze medal game of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball championship at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario on March 10. The Axemen lost the bronze medal to the Gee Gee’s 92-85 in overtime. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

The games were hosted at Scotiabank place in Ottawa, and they were very well attended.  As a student at Carleton I photographed this tournament twice before for the charlatan, Carleton’s student newspaper, you can check out some of those pics here for a look at some of my older stuff.  I was flooded with nostalgia, especially because several friends from Ottawa were also there photographing the event it felt a bit like a working reunion.

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/3/13) - University of Ottawa Gee Gee's player's jump up to celebrate as the buzzer goes off during the end of the bronze medal game at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, on March 10.  The Gee Gee's took third place overall at the national men's basketball tournament. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/3/13) – University of Ottawa Gee Gee’s player’s jump up to celebrate as the buzzer goes off during the end of the bronze medal game at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, on March 10. The Gee Gee’s took third place overall at the national men’s basketball tournament. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

For a while it looked like it was going to be an Ottawa vs. Ottawa final, but The University Ottawa Gee Gees didn’t quite make it.  The Carleton Ravens won again making it a record number championship wins in CIS history.

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/3/13) - Carleton University Ravens star forward Tyson Hinz watches to see if a layup circling the rim will go in during the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's basketball championship in Ottawa, Ontario on March 10.  The Raven's defeated the Lakehead  Thunderwolves 92-42 winning the championship for a record 9th time. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/3/13) – Carleton University Ravens star forward Tyson Hinz watches to see if a layup circling the rim will go in during the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball championship in Ottawa, Ontario on March 10. The Raven’s defeated the Lakehead Thunderwolves 92-42 winning the championship for a record 9th time. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

Next weekend I drove a carload of Loyalist students past Ottawa to Montreal for the annual anti-police brutality protest.  The protest was begun 17 years ago in response to suspicious deaths at the hands of Montreal police officers.  However, in the years since, the march has attracted a more dubious reputation as an opportunity to confront the police directly on the streets.

After last year’s student protests in Montreal new legislation had been passed.  In addition to the more controversial Loi 78, Montreal passed municipal laws requiring rally organizers to submit march routes in advance for approval from the police.  If not then the protest could be declared illegal and that gave the police sweeping powers of arrest.  Which is exactly what happened, as soon as marchers began assembling the police declared the protest illegal and began dispersing it and making arrests.

MONTREAL, Que. (15/3/13) - A protestor is arrested by Montreal Police during the 17th annual march against police brutality in Montreal on March 15.  About 300 people were arrested during the march, which was declared illegal by the police.  Most of those arrested were issued municipal fines for participating in an illegal protest. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

MONTREAL, Que. (15/3/13) – A protestor is arrested by Montreal Police during the 17th annual march against police brutality in Montreal on March 15. About 300 people were arrested during the march, which was declared illegal by the police. Most of those arrested were issued municipal fines for participating in an illegal protest. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

Loyalist students, completely by accident, went en masse to Montreal.  There were about 23 of us in total.  We stayed at hotels and spent a few hours chasing columns of police who were chasing the scattered protestors around the downtown core.

I ended up in a CTV News clip during one of the several on street interactions with the police.   You can view it here, I’m on the left of the screen taking pictures when the police charge, it’s at the 48-second mark in the clip.

Just before 7pm, two hours after the protest started, the scattered protestors and police now converged at the intersection of Rue Sainte Catherine and Rue Saint-Andre.  The police formed a kettle and closed ranks.

MONTREAL, Que. (15/3/13) - A resident in a motorized wheelchair passes by a line of riot police during the 17th annual march against police brutality in Montreal on March 15. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

MONTREAL, Que. (15/3/13) – A resident in a motorized wheelchair passes by a line of riot police during the 17th annual march against police brutality in Montreal on March 15. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

Partly by chance and partly because of experiences learned from the G20 I jumped back, narrowly avoiding a gloved hand that was pulling people in.  As we found out later 15 Loyalist students were caught up in the kettle.

Some were released on the street, after Montreal police filmed them, and took down their info.  They were told they’d be mailed a $640 ticket and to return home, that if they were found out on the streets again that night they’d be arrested, spend the night in jail and face possible criminal charges.  Those not released on the street were loaded onto a repurposed city bus and taken to various precincts where they were processed and released.  By 10:30pm we had confirmation that everyone was out and everyone was safe.  By the numbers Loyalist students, there to photograph the demonstration, accounted for 8% of total arrests that night.

MONTREAL, Que. (15/3/13) - A resident takes a photo of riot police on his cellphone during the 17th annual march against police brutality in Montreal on March 15. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

MONTREAL, Que. (15/3/13) – A resident takes a photo of riot police on his cellphone during the 17th annual march against police brutality in Montreal on March 15. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

Everyone in my car, myself included, avoided the kettle and arrest and the next day we were all cheerfully headed back to Belleville, where Loyalist College is located.  Along the way as we were passing Napanee, which is near Belleville, we spotted a huge plume of smoke rising from a field off the highway.  We pulled off the highway and found the source of the fire, a barn in a farmer’s field and began taking pictures.  The timing was convenient as we had a spot news assignment, any news that is not scheduled, due in class in two weeks time.

GREATER NAPANEE Ont. (15/3/13) - Firefighters from Greater Napanee attend to a barn fire on March 16.  The barn was no longer in use and had stood on the property since the 1940's, no one was hurt. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

GREATER NAPANEE Ont. (15/3/13) – Firefighters from Greater Napanee attend to a barn fire on March 16. The barn was no longer in use and had stood on the property since the 1940’s, no one was hurt. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

Later that week came the second round of advisory board meetings of the year.  Advisory board is a once a semester picture review with photographers and editors from newspapers and newswires across Canada.  I sat down with four different people and showed them the same sets of pictures, I heard four different critiques ranging from, “Yeah! This is great!” to, “None of your pictures are memorable.”

The most useful piece of advice I received was to stop pursuing things I thought others wanted to see and instead go with my gut more.  So I decided to try and do that, although I was a little uncertain what that meant, I thought I had been going with my gut before.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (18/3/13) - Justin Chin (centre) a first-year photojournalism student at Loyalist College rubs his face while chatting with classmates during a break at advisory board day on March 18 in Belleville.  Advisory board is an opportunity for students to present their work and portfolios to news photographers and editors from across Canada. (photo Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (18/3/13) – Justin Chin (centre) a first-year photojournalism student at Loyalist College rubs his face while chatting with classmates during a break at advisory board day on March 18 in Belleville. Advisory board is an opportunity for students to present their work and portfolios to news photographers and editors from across Canada. (photo Adam Dietrich)

Around this time we had a whole host of different projects to work on, from videos to picture documentaries, and once a week a lighting assignments.  One of the more interesting lighting assignments was the environmental portrait.  Which is a fancy way of saying a portrait in a relevant environment… So a firefighter in a fire hall, or a doctor in a hospital.  Ours was specific, we had to find either a CEO or business owner, a blue collar worker or a luthier (someone who repairs stringed instruments, specifically lute based designs).  I was in Ottawa one weekend, so I started phoning luthiers in the city and David (below) agreed to pose for a photo.

OTTAWA Ont. (23/3/13) - David Doyle, a violin maker, restorer and luthier catches his breath after a busy afternoon before being photographed with his work on March 23 in Ottawa, Ontario.  Doyle was a concert violinist before he started repairing the instruments.  He says a passion for the instrument is what drew him to repair and restoration after performing was no longer profitable. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA Ont. (23/3/13) – David Doyle, a violin maker, restorer and luthier catches his breath after a busy afternoon before being photographed with his work on March 23 in Ottawa, Ontario. Doyle was a concert violinist before he started repairing the instruments. He says a passion for the instrument is what drew him to repair and restoration after performing was no longer profitable. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

A week later I found myself once again in Ottawa.  It was now the end of March, school was truly slowing down and I was trying to find a way to keep busy.  So I returned to photographing the drag queen Savannah Couture.  Savannah had agreed to let me photograph her before during and after performances a few times and the project had been universally well received amongst the advisors I met with.

Savannah started drag professionally only a month earlier, but with the help of her brother, who also happened to be a well-known queen in Ottawa, she was able to secure a regular weekend performance at Edge, a well-known gay bar in Ottawa.

OTTAWA Ont. (29/3/13) - Savannah Couture performs at Edge Nightclub in Ottawa Ontario on March 29.  Her solo set included songs by Taylor Swift, Savannah's outfit and hair were inspired by Swift. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA Ont. (29/3/13) – Savannah Couture performs at Edge Nightclub in Ottawa Ontario on March 29. Her solo set included songs by Taylor Swift, Savannah’s outfit and hair were inspired by Swift. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

A drag performance is essentially three parts, the first is the dress, which needs to compliment the queens own style and the song choice.  The second is the performance, which is generally a lip sync set to music, song choice determines clothes, hair make-up and the dance itself, and most queens won’t repeat songs, every weekend it’s something new.  The final part is audience interaction, like at a burlesque show in part drag is a celebration of sexuality, and so queens interact with and tease audience members usually as part of the show.

OTTAWA Ont. (29/3/13) - Savannah Couture (right) kisses a spectator on the cheek during a performance at Edge Nightclub in Ottawa Ontario on march 29.  (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA Ont. (29/3/13) – Savannah Couture (right) kisses a spectator on the cheek during a performance at Edge Nightclub in Ottawa Ontario on march 29. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

On this night there were three individual queens who performed and a fourth, Savannah’s brother and drag mother, who MC’d the evening.  The night ended with all four of them dressing like the girls from the Lady Marmelade music video and performing the song as a quartet.

OTTAWA Ont. (29/3/13) - Savannah Couture performs as part of a drag quartet during a performance of the song Lady Marmalade on March 29 in Ottawa Ontario.  The performance also included Savannah's drag mother, Icesis Couture the two are brothers in real life, and work together in Ottawa's drag scene. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA Ont. (29/3/13) – Savannah Couture performs as part of a drag quartet during a performance of the song Lady Marmalade on March 29 in Ottawa Ontario. The performance also included Savannah’s drag mother, Icesis Couture the two are brothers in real life, and work together in Ottawa’s drag scene. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

I had produced far better performance pictures that night than I ever had but I also recognized the familiar symptoms of artistic burn-out starting to set in.  All of my pictures looked like crap, or that’s how I felt at the time.  Scrolling through contact sheet after contact sheet they all looked uninspired.  I began to understand what the advisor had meant about photographing things as I felt others wanted to see them.  As the end of semester began to wind down I started focusing more on the multimedia projects I had to do, and writing.

In the final week of classes I received a call from the Oakville Beaver, they had been one of the many places I’d applied for a summer internship with.  I had been selected for a working interview of sorts along with two others.  So I scheduled a day to come down to the 905 and work for the Beaver for the day.  In addition to a job interview I was asked to photograph two assignments as a freelancer, one for the Oakville Beaver and one for the Burlington Post, they both work out of the same office.

The first event was a children’s French ‘rock’ concert with Gregg LeRock, I remembered going to a similar show with a guy named Etienne who had songs like, “Etre is to be not, not, to be…” and other such clever things.  The kids seemed to genuinely like it though which was the point after all.

BURLINGTON, Ont. (24/4/13) - Musician Gregg LeRock gets some help from an audience member during a performance at Compass Point Church in Burlington on April 24. The Juno nominated performer teaches French to younger children through original rock songs and performances. (Photo: Adam Dietrich/Burlington Post)

BURLINGTON, Ont. (24/4/13) – Musician Gregg LeRock gets some help from an audience member during a performance at Compass Point Church in Burlington on April 24. The Juno nominated performer teaches French to younger children through original rock songs and performances. (Photo: Adam Dietrich/Burlington Post)

Next I had to hop on the 403 and race to Oakville for a presentation at a local public school about a new energy use and education initiative that was being launched in the region.

OAKVILLE, Ont. (24/4/13) - Julie Millington from Oakville Hydro speaks to students at Joshua Creek Public School on April 24. The presentation was about a new program called energy drill which seeks to educate elementary kids about ways they can reduce energy consumption in their daily lives, the presentation was timed to coincide with earth week activities. (Photo: Adam Dietrich/Oakville Beaver)

OAKVILLE, Ont. (24/4/13) – Julie Millington from Oakville Hydro speaks to students at Joshua Creek Public School on April 24. The presentation was about a new program called energy drill which seeks to educate elementary kids about ways they can reduce energy consumption in their daily lives, the presentation was timed to coincide with earth week activities. (Photo: Adam Dietrich/Oakville Beaver)

A week later I was told I didn’t get the job.  Later that afternoon I applied for another job at Inside Toronto another paper owned by the same company.  After an interview there and a few more weeks of waiting I was offered a paid-summer internship there.

Starting Monday I expect to be busy for at least the next calendar year.  This internship has me working full-time until I start school, then I enter into the most important and competitive parts of the Loyalist program and hopefully that leads to an internship and summer job next summer.  All of that is to say I spent the last week watching cheap made-for-tv documentaries on Netflix and playing computer games, biking, reading and generally having a pretty ideal summer break.

Fortunately I have a friend who has agreed to rent me an air mattress in a corner of his bachelor’s apartment near High Park and the Junction.  So for two months I’ll be living the dream… of sorts.

So with a new job in hand, motivation, functioning computer and period of artistic burn-out conquered, hopefully I’ll be inclined to blog more regularly.  I think the summer’s going to be a good one.

Adam Dietrich


In the thick of it

This Loyalist PhotoJ program is pretty intensive…

As of right now I have a few projects ongoing and essentially an assignment due every school day in March.  I should clarify this is not me complaining, but rather just me remarking on a fact.  Frankly I’m relishing the pace and pressure, although this week (break week) has been a much needed respite.  It’s allowed me catch up on homework and sleep, resume blogging and reinstall Civilization IV (because it is better than V).

But I digress…

The week before break week I finally got around to shooting the local OHL team, the Belleville Bulls I timed it so I got to see them play the Ottawa 67’s, the OHL team from the city I lived in for the last several years.  I wanted to see the Guelph Storm, but they’re in a different division and don’t play Belleville very much.

The game was good although incredibly high scoring with the Bulls winning 8-5.  It was also pretty dirty, a few fights and some nasty penalty-deserving plays in the third period.  I’ve never photographed hockey at this level before, really the only practice I had was with the Carleton University Ravens and they’re just not as fast or aggressive as their OHL counterparts.  It also gave me the chance to practice in game filing, meaning I shot the first period then found a spot, pulled out my laptop and edited and captioned my pics from the first period before the start of the second.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (20/02/13) - Ottawa 67's left winger Connor Brown takes a shot on goal during a game against the Belleville Bulls in Belleville Ontario on February 20. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (20/02/13) – Ottawa 67’s left winger Connor Brown takes a shot on goal during a game against the Belleville Bulls in Belleville Ontario on February 20. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

I spent a lot of time trying to anticipate plays rather than follow the action, goalies make for great places to anticipate.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (20/02/13) - Ottawa 67's goalie Jacob Blair falls to the ice after blocking a shot on goal during a game against the Belleville Bulls in Belleville Ontario on February 20. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (20/02/13) – Ottawa 67’s goalie Jacob Blair falls to the ice after blocking a shot on goal during a game against the Belleville Bulls in Belleville Ontario on February 20. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

This photo is missing a few elements to make a good pic for a newspaper, but as just a picture I like it.

BELLEVILLE Ont. (20/02/13) - Belleville Bulls goalie Charlie Graham lets in a shot during a game against the Ottawa 67's in Belleville Ontario on February 20. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE Ont. (20/02/13) – Belleville Bulls goalie Charlie Graham lets in a shot during a game against the Ottawa 67’s in Belleville Ontario on February 20. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

At the risk of inundating this blog post with hockey pictures I will cut it off there and continue.

The weekend before I was once again in my adoptive hometown of Ottawa.  This time I went to Edge Nightclub, up above Sparks and Bank St. with some friends for a special outdoor drag show.  The club is Ottawa’s only gay nightclub, I’m told there are many gays bars and places with a bar/club but Edge is the just nightclub place.  It’s also home to one of Ottawa most successful drag queens Icesis Couture.

It was a frigid affair, hosted on Edge’s rooftop patio, you could hear the music two blocks over on Metcalfe St, and the club had put out heaters on the patio, but I would argue there were not enough.

The performance was pretty awesome, although I was told Icesis’ hair was tamer than it normally is…

OTTAWA Ont. (16/2/13) - Icesis Couture, one of Ottawa's most successful drag-queens, performs at Edge Nightclub in Ottawa on February 16.  (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA Ont. (16/2/13) – Icesis Couture, one of Ottawa’s most successful drag-queens, performs at Edge Nightclub in Ottawa on February 16. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

The day before going to Ottawa Justin Trudeau came to Loyalist College as part of a promotional tour.  The college had secretly arranged an emotional presentation for Trudeau, which you can view here, you can also see me in action at the start of the video while he’s walking down the hall. The reason I’m not going to talk about it is I missed the golden moment, I had to leave the presentation early because I had to get to a class, and though for this I would have skipped class I couldn’t really.  The week before car trouble had me stranded in Ottawa for a week and I skipped a bunch of classes, following that I felt I couldn’t skip anymore.  Plus my teacher’s reaction when I said might be late went like this:

“Hi, so I might be late I’m shooting Trudeau.”

“Yeah… so is everyone else.”

“…”

“Get your pics quickly and come to class”

“Ok.”

So I left when I thought the thing was almost over, still cutting it close, and while I was in class Trudeau gets presented with a photo and tears up.  Again check the link.

BELLEVILLE, Ont (14/2/13) - MP and Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau is scrummed by students from Loyalist College's Photojournalism program during a tour of the college in Belleville Ontario on February 14.  Trudeau has been touring post-secondary institutions as part of his campaign. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

BELLEVILLE, Ont (14/2/13) – MP and Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau is scrummed by students from Loyalist College’s Photojournalism program during a tour of the college in Belleville Ontario on February 14. Trudeau has been touring post-secondary institutions as part of his campaign. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

During the weekend before while staying at my friend’s place I was able to complete my spot news assignment.  I was at his place on Flora St. when I saw on Twitter that a car had flipped on its roof a block away at Bronson.  I raced out and snapped some pics of the fire crews righting it and towing it away.  I also got a chance to talk to the driver, who was unscathed amazingly.  He said he swerved to avoid a car and clipped the edge of the snow bank and then the car flipped.

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/2/13) - Emergency crews attended to a single car accident at Bronson St. and Flora St. on February 10.  The car was removed by a tow-truck, the driver, who was the single occupant was not injured. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (10/2/13) – Emergency crews attended to a single car accident at Bronson St. and Flora St. on February 10. The car was removed by a tow-truck, the driver, who was the single occupant was not injured. (Photo by Adam Dietrich)

Stepping back further into January, I skipped school on 28th of January.  I don’t normally do that but I was in Ottawa that weekend and I found out there was an Idle No More Day of action on the Monday.  I was also buying a car that weekend.  So Monday morning I photographed the protest, which was much, much smaller than the one two weeks earlier, then bussed out to South Keys to pick up my fancy not-new ’96 Mazda 626, oh yeah.  It runs pretty nicely and I got to test it out driving back to Belleville that night, the snow in the day turned to sleet and freezing rain that night and a 2.5 hour drive became four.

OTTAWA, Ont. (1/28/13) - Idle No More protestors make their way down Wellington St. to Parliament Hill in Ottawa Ontario on January 28.  The protest was part of a national day of action and saw dramatically diminished numbers compared to the same event which happened two weeks prior.  The march originated on Victoria Island in the Ottawa river where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence had been protesting by consuming only tea and fish broth for a month. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (1/28/13) – Idle No More protestors make their way down Wellington St. to Parliament Hill in Ottawa Ontario on January 28. The protest was part of a national day of action and saw dramatically diminished numbers compared to the same event which happened two weeks prior. The march originated on Victoria Island in the Ottawa river where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence had been protesting by consuming only tea and fish broth for a month. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

Also that weekend I assisted a friend on an engagement shoot on the Saturday, we were in Alymer Quebec and I noticed tons of ice fishing huts.  The next day I came back with my gear to shoot what Loyalist calls ‘feature photos’ basically just a fun photo of things happening.  In this case because we had so much leeway I borrowed Loyalists 300mm f/2.8 which is a big obnoxious white lens weighing 2.5kg (5.6 lbs), I also own a 2x teleconverter which doubles the focal length of your lens, so I wandered around with the 600mm and discreetly photographed ice fishers.  Our news photography teacher loved the ridiculous telephoto and wanted to know if I’d ever stacked converters, I haven’t yet…

OTTAWA, Ont. (27/01/13) - A man ice fishes in the Ottawa River near Alymer, Que. on Jan. 27, 2013.  The river was frozen enough to allow snowmobiles and cars to drive over it following an especially cold weeks which saw temperatures of minus 40 making Ottawa the coldest Capital on Earth. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (27/01/13) – A man ice fishes in the Ottawa River near Alymer, Que. on Jan. 27, 2013. The river was frozen enough to allow snowmobiles and cars to drive over it following an especially cold weeks which saw temperatures of minus 40 making Ottawa the coldest Capital on Earth. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

That weekend though I was mostly in Ottawa for Raven’s basketball, I was trying to get four assignments done in one weekend and I succeeded, sports feature, sports action, sequence photo and portfolio.  Talk about efficiency, three classes, four assignments in two games.

The second game I was specifically looking for features, so I spent little time shooting the game and more time shooting everything else.

OTTAWA, Ont. (1/25/13) - Joe Scanlon, a blogger with the Carleton University Athletics, takes notes as the Ravens sink another three-point during a home game on January 25 in Ottawa.  The Ravens are once again the number one seeded team in the league going into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 championship. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (1/25/13) – Joe Scanlon, a blogger with the Carleton University Athletics, takes notes as the Ravens sink another three-point during a home game on January 25 in Ottawa. The Ravens are once again the number one seeded team in the league going into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 championship. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

That was the second weekend in Ottawa shooting Ravens basketball, the previous weekend I decided to come up for something to do and ended up doing that.  I also managed to double up on another assignment, for news photography we had to shoot a collector for what is known as an ‘environmental portrait,’ basically a person known for something photographed in the context of that something.  In this case the something a collection.  My friend’s roommate collects ‘physical media’ meaning DVD’s, Books and Comics, and has one big shelf dedicated to each collection, alphabetized, I ended up using the pics for our portfolio class and our lighting class in addition to news photography.

OTTAWA, Ont. (19/01/13) - Daniel Link a self-proclaimed 'collector of physical media' poses amongst his collection in his Ottawa, Ontario home on January 19. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont. (19/01/13) – Daniel Link a self-proclaimed ‘collector of physical media’ poses amongst his collection in his Ottawa, Ontario home on January 19. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

After shooting the portraits I went to Carleton to shake the cobwebs out of my head.  It had been a year since I photographed any sports, not including surfing.  And frankly I was surprised how quickly I fell back on the saddle.  I spent a lot of time watching Dave Smart the coach whose animated coaching style made basketball games during my four years at Carleton that much more entertaining.

OTTAWA, Ont (19/1/13) - Carleton Raven's head coach Dave Smart reacts to a play by guard Carleton Gavin Resch during a game in Ottawa, Ontario on January 19.  Despite Smart's dramatic reaction to his teams defensive plays Carleton defeated the Queen's University Golden Gaels 104 - 63. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

OTTAWA, Ont (19/1/13) – Carleton Raven’s head coach Dave Smart reacts to a play by guard Carleton Gavin Resch during a game in Ottawa, Ontario on January 19. Despite Smart’s dramatic reaction to his teams defensive plays Carleton defeated the Queen’s University Golden Gaels 104 – 63. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

That brings me all the way to the week following my last blog post, when Idle No More was still headed off at full steam.  There had been a day of action the previous week with thousands of people in the streets and a historic meeting between Indigenous peoples, the Crown and the State.  That was followed up with the promise of a day of action and that the next Wednesday blockades would happen all across Canada.

There is a Mohawk reserve, Tyendinaga, near Belleville, it’s where I get my gas (avg $1.20/L) and it is also the location of a CP/CN rail line intersection.  I found the whole situation immensely interesting.  As photographers and journalists we spent the day trying to figure out where and when this would happen.  When we found out where the blockade was we had to walk through back woods trails to get to the intersection.  A few falls, bruises and cold, wet feet later we found the blockade, although they were absolutely not happy that we were on their land taking pictures.

This is where I found the situation more interesting, technically the rail lines are federal property, but they run through a reserve.  In this case the rail line carries Via passengers from Toronto to Montreal and is a pretty important one, but I understand why the police mostly stood back and watched.  As it was the protestors hung around for a few hours and made their point, which was that they have the power to do this, then left and things continued on.

TYENDINAGA, Ont. (1/16/13) - A Mohawk from Tyendinaga Ontario crosses a Canadian National Rail track, above him the Mohawk warrior flag and the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy fly over a Canadian Pacific track, both tracks were blockaded for several hours on January 16 by Idle No More Protestors as part of a day of action.  This reserve in Eastern Ontario is one of the few places in Canada where both CN and CP rail lines intersect it impacted freight transit and delayed Via Rail passenger Trains on the Toronto-Montreal corridor for several hours. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

TYENDINAGA, Ont. (1/16/13) – A Mohawk from Tyendinaga Ontario crosses a Canadian National Rail track, above him the Mohawk warrior flag and the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy fly over a Canadian Pacific track, both tracks were blockaded for several hours on January 16 by Idle No More Protestors as part of a day of action. This reserve in Eastern Ontario is one of the few places in Canada where both CN and CP rail lines intersect it impacted freight transit and delayed Via Rail passenger Trains on the Toronto-Montreal corridor for several hours. (Photo: Adam Dietrich)

As I mentioned March will be a busy month and April will be a lot of wrpping up.  For my part though it was nice to have a few days at least to check out mentally and play Civ, but I think those days are past time to get back to work.

Adam


Viva Bellevegas!

Goodbye Guelph – Hello Belleville, home of Loyalist College and it’s renowned photojournalism program.  My new base of operations, so to speak.

I’m going to work chronologically backwards to my last post and start with some pictures I shot this past Friday in Ottawa during the Idle No More protests surrounding the meetings between First Nations chiefs and the heads of Canada’s government and state.  The protest brought what seemed like thousands of First Nation’s people into the streets of Ottawa, as well as cities around the country, to protest the government, Bill-C45 and many other grievances.

Ottawa, Ontario - A demonstrator stands in front of the main entrance to the Prime Minister's Office, singing while holding the flag of British Columbia.  The protest, part of the 'Idle No More' movement, marched down Wellington street then peacefully surrounded the PMO before ending at Parliament hill.

Ottawa, Ontario – A demonstrator stands in front of the main entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office, singing while holding the flag of British Columbia. The protest, part of the ‘Idle No More’ movement, marched down Wellington street then peacefully surrounded the PMO before ending at Parliament hill.

I loved the picture above, until I found out another Loyalist student in second year took the EXACT same shot.  So I’ll have to get more creative next time.

Ottawa, Ontario - A demonstrator adjusts his mask during an 'Idle No More' protest on January 11. The protest coincided with a working meeting between some First Nation's chief's and a ceremonial meeting with the Governor General.

Ottawa, Ontario – A demonstrator adjusts his mask during an ‘Idle No More’ protest on January 11. The protest coincided with a working meeting between some First Nation’s chief’s and a ceremonial meeting with the Governor General.

This next picture I’m uncertain about, I think it looks cool, but a lot of it is just optical fanciness.  The lens has a minimum f stop of 1.4.  In laymen’s terms the lens has the ability to make an area the width of a coin appear sharp as a tack while blurring everything else almost past recognition.  In this case I did this to draw attention to the demonstrators hair.  Because we were in a crowd it was hard to make the hair prominent whilst making the crowd part of the background, so I used the lens wide open.  It worked, but like I said I’m uncertain.

Ottawa, Ontario - Demonstrators gather to listen to speeches in front of Parliament on January 11. The protest coincided with a working meeting between some First Nation's chief's and a ceremonial meeting with the Governor General.

Ottawa, Ontario – Demonstrators gather to listen to speeches in front of Parliament on January 11. The protest coincided with a working meeting between some First Nation’s chief’s and a ceremonial meeting with the Governor General.

The weekend before my friend and I travelled to Theresa Spence’s camp, she’s the Attawapiskat chief who has been fasting, consuming only tea and fish broth for the last month.  The island itself is located in the Ottawa River between Gatineau and Ottawa.  The symbology is perfect because the island is pretty much literally in the shadow of parliament.

Ottawa, Ontario - An indigenous youth looks on as Karl Keeshig, a civil servant with Aboriginal Affairs and a supporter of Idle No More, speaks to supporters outside the tent of Chief Theresa Spence on January 6, 2012.

Ottawa, Ontario – An indigenous youth looks on as Karl Keeshig, a civil servant with Aboriginal Affairs and a supporter of Idle No More, speaks to supporters outside the tent of Chief Theresa Spence on January 6, 2012.

So we took photos from around the camp and some of the happenings while we were there.

Ottawa, Ontario - Fred McGregor from Kitigan-zibi Anisinaeg First Nation near Maniwaki Quebec passes a bowl of tobacco during a ceremony at Chief Theresa Spence's camp on Victoria Island in Ottawa on January 6, 2012.  The tobacco was collected in a bowl and burned as a prayer.

Ottawa, Ontario – Fred McGregor from Kitigan-zibi Anisinaeg First Nation near Maniwaki Quebec passes a bowl of tobacco during a ceremony at Chief Theresa Spence’s camp on Victoria Island in Ottawa on January 6, 2012. The tobacco was collected in a bowl and burned as a prayer.

I wasn’t able to get a picture of her though.  The supporters in the camp were very welcoming, but we were told we could not take pictures near the sacred fire.  Spence was on the other side of this fire flanked by tarps and wind blinds.  There was no way to get a picture without being immediately removed by some angry supporter, and it would have been grossly disrespectful.

While Idle No More has largely been my focus since I got to Belleville, in the month before coming to school I had been fascinated by the growing teacher’s unrest.  In Guelph in early December Elementary teachers staged a one-day walkout as part of a series of province-wide one-day strikes to protest new legislation, which would eliminate their right to strike and other collective bargaining rights.

Guelph, Ontario - Lisa MacPherson, a kindergarten teacher at Sir Isaack Brock Elementary school, shares a laugh with colleagues on the picket line.  MacPherson is one of 700 Guelph teachers who picketed the constituency office of MPP Liz Sandals, during a one day strike on December 14.

Guelph, Ontario – Lisa MacPherson, a kindergarten teacher at Sir Isaack Brock Elementary school, shares a laugh with colleagues on the picket line. MacPherson is one of the many Guelph elementary teachers who picketed the constituency office of MPP Liz Sandals, during a one day strike on December 14.

In the days leading up to the strike I emailed several news outlets to say I would be there, looking to see if there was any interest.  I received an email from the Canadian Press while I was at the event asking if I could call when I had photos.  After working at top speed, I rushed home, the nearest source of Internet, and started editing.  The photos were filed by noon and by 2pm I was elbow deep in dish water at the café I was working at.  The universe raises up and casts down.

350 elementary school teachers from Guelph picketed the constituency office of MPP Liz Sandals during a one day strike on Friday December 14.

Guelph, Ontario – Elementary school teachers from Guelph picketed the constituency office of MPP Liz Sandals during a one day strike on Friday December 14.

My pictures ran briefly on the Guelph Mercury’s website, as well as in print and online with the Toronto Star and online with CTV.  It was my second time selling pictures to a wire and reminded me why this is where I want to work some day.  It’s so exciting to send in your pics, then wait and watch where they appear and in some cases where they don’t.

Guelph, Ontario - Picketers pass by the constituency office of MPP LIz Sandals during a one day strike on December 14.  The strike is part of a series of rolling strikes around the province to protest changes in legislation which the teachers say will limit their bargaining rights.

Guelph, Ontario – Picketers pass by the constituency office of MPP LIz Sandals during a one day strike on December 14. The strike is part of a series of rolling strikes around the province to protest changes in legislation which the teachers say will limit their bargaining rights.

Prior to December though, I wasn’t doing a whole lot.  Some personal stuff and some commercial stuff.  But I was mostly saving money for school and taking it easy.  I did finally process the remaining rolls of film I had from Costa Rica.  There is still one more stage though, I need to actually print pictures from the negatives.  I finally got a hold of the remaining printing equipment I needed, thanks to the generosity of my aunt’s dad.  However, when I moved to Belleville I brought the equipment, but forgot the negatives.

Image

This photo is a a digital picture of my negative. I literally handheld the neg in front of a light and photographed it with my digital camera held in the other hand. This is a church in Nicaragua, photographed during my short visit there at the beginning of June 2012. corrected it in photoshop.

Needless to say if a crude scanning method looks like this I REALLY want to print them soon.

Image

‘Scanned’ using the same method as the previous photo, this is actually in Ottawa, during a visit after I got back in August 2012.

SO from this point forward my posts will focus on my progress through Loyalist College’s photojournalism program.  That should mean I’m shooting a lot more and have more to post.  What’s exciting for me is it gives me the chance to return to some of my old haunts in Ottawa, like this weekend for example.  Hopefully I’ll be able to shoot some sports at Carleton.

Until the next post.

Adam Dietrich

P.S. To the staff at With the Grain, thank you for making this fall way better than it might have been.  A definably crappy job was made much, much better because of you guys, dishwashing was never so good, so thanks… a lot.


Back at work

So it’s been well over a month since my last post.  Whoops?

Frankly since this blog is mostly about me I’ve been waiting until I had some interesting pictures to share.  My main focus over the last month has been finding work.  It’s been a pretty decent month, albeit low key.

First off though I want to show some pictures from Nosara.  Since being back I’m now slowly working my way through the unprocessed film I have.  While there I used two rolls of Fujichrome 100F.  It’s a beautiful daylight slide film and it worked pretty well in combination with my antique Baldex.

The film was processed by a place in Ottawa, Labworks, where I’ve been going for years.  They have a great deal too on 120 prints; one processed roll plus a set of 5×5 prints for about $12.  Since I don’t have a medium format film scanner I scanned the prints and at 2400dpi it managed resolutions at 6000px x 6000px.  Which is higher resolution than my 5D mkII.  Not bad for a 65 year old camera…

A selfie using the timer on the Baldex, this was taken at Playa Nosara, near the river mouth.

Slide film doesn’t have a lot of latitude.  You either get the exposure or you don’t, which made shooting with it much more difficult because I had no lightmeter… so I guessed most of the exposures, using some basic photography principles like ‘sunny f/16,’ and some basic math.  However, the following two were a little overexposed and pulling down the exposure using modern editing techniques did some cool things to the colour.

Guiones beach at sunset, a scan of a print made from a 120 Provia slide.

This one from when Yamina (girlfriend) came to visit me the second time in May.

Yamina stepping off some rocks at Playa San Juanillo, about 20km north of Nosara.

So I’ve been trying to keep busy and keep some of the momentum gained from school and Nosara as I continue through the fall.  I am slated to start at Loyalist College’s Photojournalism program in January 2013 but that’s a few months away.

School went back two weeks ago and though I wasn’t there, my good friend was, and I’ve been receiving reports on the program and what to expect.  Including some of the assignments.  Each week there is a photo assignment where you have to do something specific.  In abstentia I’m going to try to do as many as I can.

The first one was to take a picture of an interesting person, who is not a friend, family member or member of the Loyalist community.  It took a day or two to set up the interview, but I ended up doing a photo of the dude who repaired my cellphone a few weeks ago.  He has a unique operation run out of his apartment.  So I showed up and photographed/interviewed him while he worked on a clients iPhone.

Roun Gew, aged 30, came to Canada from the Sudan in 1990. For the last 10 years he has repaired computers in Guelph, Ontario and for the last year he has repaired cellphones which he said now brings in the bulk of his income. He learned how to repair phones by watching Youtube videos. In this picture he is dismantling an iPhone 3Gs which had been water damaged. The blue line attached to his wrist keeps him grounded and prohibits electronic shock during repairs.

Photography has not been my main pursuit recently though, finding a job has been.  I succeeded in finding a job as a full-time dishwasher at a restaurant/café around the corner from my house called With the Grain.  I also got a job as a nightclub photographer for Guelph nightlife promoters Freshmedia.  Tonight is my first night with them and it will be at the Vinyl (always the Trasheteria in my heart) and Friday and Saturday will be at the Loft.

However, whilst job searching in August I had a pretty fun time running around Ontario.  I went to My dad’s cottage in Huntsville, stayed with my girlfriends family in Ottawa, saw some old friends and spent a day wandering Toronto before landing back in Guelph.

In Toronto I took a lot of pictures of the CN Tower…  I haven’t actually tried to photograph the CN Tower since I got into photography, so it seemed like a good idea.  But I was trying to find something unique and I think I did beyond just a tourist shot.

Edge walkers leaning over the edge of the CN Tower’s observation deck. I really wanna do this some time.

Toronto has a lot of Pigeons and there were a lot in the park near Kensington where Yamina and I ate lunch, I spent more time than I should have trying to photograph the nearby scavengers…

A flying rat! Dunno why I felt this needed inclusion, I guess I thought it was a nice look at an ugly animal.

To get there we took the GO Train from Guelph to Toronto, which meant an early morning, by the time we arrived in Toronto I needed coffee.  So we stopped at this place on Queen St West.  It looked like grunge and dirt was the theme of the place….

In a bathroom at a coffeeshop/bar on Queen St. west. I think they were intentionally going for the, ‘grungy as hell,’ look.

Over the Labour Day weekend I had the opportunity to go to my dad’s cottage on Cowan Lake near Huntsville.  There are great sunsets and glass-like water.  I spent most of the weekend sitting on a dock drinking beer.

Cowan Lake near Huntsville, Ontario. The morning calm, not a wave on the water.

Also hung out with this wonderful lady.

Yamina, again, this time as the intrepid explorer.

See what I mean?  Great sunsets…

Cowan Lake at my dad’s cottage near Huntsville, Ontario at sunset.

So that about sets the tone for the next few months here.  I’m trying to work as many hours as I can in anticipation of school, and keep from falling behind.  This week we need to make three pictures, all themed around motion: one using a panning motion, one freezing motion and one blurring motion.  So this Sunday I think I will pop over to the University of Guelph for some sports.

I’ve also been looking for assistant work in Guelph and have had some minor luck.  I photographed a wedding with Trina Koster Photography on August 11, pictures are here and I assisted Ross David-Pilon from studio 404 during a commercial shoot with the Brampton Arts Council as an onsite editor.  I’ll tease my new wedding post with one picture below.

The happy couple.

Autumn must really be coming and for the first time since January it actually feels cold…

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Back In Canada

I am back from Costa Rica.  I left Canada on the 16th of January for Costa Rica and I returned on the 25th of July.  I flew through Houston into Toronto and cleared security sometime just before midnight.

Back in the Royal City, as it’s called. It’s not a huge sprawling metropolis, but compared with Nosara, it might as well be.

One of the biggest changes coming back, is that I am no longer living in Ottawa.  Frankly I have no reason too.  I went there for university and I finished that shortly before leaving.   I will be going back to school in January at Loyalist College for Photojournalism, but until then I will be in Guelph.  Hopefully I will be able to find some work in photography while I’m here otherwise… waiting tables?

Needless to say emails are going out today and tomorrow, to let people know, I’m here and I can do photography.

However, this post is going to recap my final days in Costa Rica.

I was at the Caribbean!

Does a picture of a Caribbean beach get more stereotypical?

I mentioned the hostel I was staying in my last post, as a somewhat unique place, and not for good reasons necessarily.  One of the drawbacks was that the beach in front of the hostel was rocky and kind of sucked.  However, I had been told that about a 20 minute walk away was a nice sand beach, and there was so I spent a few hours there.

A sand crab; these guys were all over but really skiddish, as soon as you stood up they would hide back in their holes.

There was also a small island off the coast that reminded me Jurassic Park…

I’m pretty certain that’s Ilsa Sorna. I also had the opportunity to talk to some Tico’s who had seen Jurassic Park, they didn’t like that San Jose was portrayed as a small beachside town, when it’s a) huge, b) several hours from the nearest beach and c) surrounded by mountains…

More interesting than another white sand beach (I know I was spoiled) were the jungle paths.  The jungle basically pushed right up to the beach and there were some cool paths to some deserted places I went along.

One of those paths led up to a cliff with a sheer drop 50m into the ocean.  It was a dramatic place to sit and read for a while, although one that required caution while climbing around.

Nice spot to sit and read for a little while.

On the 24th I packed up my stuff and set out into the rain. It had been pouring that morning but had slowed to a light drizzle around 10am when I left.  I boarded a bus to San Jose and 5 hours later I was back in the big city.

I made my way 20 blocks across town with my backpack and found myself back at Galileo Hostel, the place where this had all began, so to speak.  I stayed there for two nights when I first arrived and had nothing but nice memories of the place.  Sure enough the experience was about the same this time around.

Self-portrait in the same place where I wrote my first blog entry in Costa Rica some six-months ago.

I spent the evening at the hostel bar, chatting with other people staying there.  It was a little strange.  As the night wore on, I was tired and wanted to sleep, but at the same time sleeping meant I would wake up, and waking up meant it would be over.  I didn’t want it to be over.

The next morning while waiting to depart for the airport I took some pictures of a map they had spread out on a table at the hostel.

Just a few small points on a map…

I decided to do an overhead shot and then I put the map photo into Photoshop and used the paint tool to circle all the places I was, and the roads I traveled to get there.

Magenta is where I went, circles are places I stayed.

Considering I was just there to be in Nosara I think I got some pretty decent travelling around in as well.

Three hours later I was in the air to Houston, Texas.

My final glimpse of San Jose and one of the last moments on Costa Rica soil just before take off.

Here is a short video I took out the airplane window of our take off, and my final glimpses of Costa Rica.  I think the best part is the commentary from the four-year old sitting next to me.

I’m gonna miss Costa Rica.  In my list of places to visit in my life, frankly Costa Rica wasn’t on it.  I only went because the Voice of Nosara offered me an amazing opportunity.  As I look back over previous travels though there seems to be a pattern of ending up in places I never intended to visit, which I then grow to love.

I hope I’ll be able to return someday soon.  Financially speaking I should be able to, it’s almost cheaper to fly to San Jose from Toronto than it is to fly to Vancouver.  And now West Jet is flying regularly to Liberia, Guanacaste.

Until then it’s time to hit the ground running.  Photojournalism is an intensely competitive industry and I’m going into Loyalist with experience and a competitive advantage, the next two years are going to be fun.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich

P.S. To the regular blog followers who I haven’t met, glad you’ve enjoyed reading, hopefully I will be able to keep this interesting as time goes forward.

P.P.S To those at Voice of Nosara and the people of Nosara in general, thank you very much for everything over the six-months.  Thank you very much.


Retirement

It’s done.  Gio is working for Voice of Nosara and I am on the Caribbean coast one the other side of the country.

Gio and I went out to shoot sunset on the 19th, my second last in Nosara. That’s Gio putting the tripod to good use. The photos from the last sunset were taken on a roll of Provia I had been saving and will have to be developed when I get home.

My last few days were an odd mix of nostalgia, excitement, limited sleep and booze.  I tried to pass on everything I’d learned in six-months to my replacement Gio and at the same time we spent each night drinking and getting to know each other.  It’s funny, though we’d never met we know many of the same people back home.  To give you and idea of how small the photojournalism community in Canada is.

Gio on January 17th at Playa Guiones after his first full day in Nosara.

My trip here was epic, and started when Gio drove me from the Voice of Nosara office, where I’ve lived for the last six-months to a friends house a few kilometers down the road where I was spending the last night.  I had a bag with me and he had his gear bag so I had to sit on the luggage rack and face backwards.  I watched Playa Guiones and all the places I’ve come to know so well fade into the night as we sped away.  It seemed like the most appropriate metaphor.

My last assignment was to photograph an art class at a pre-school for a story on the creative teaching methods they have. I figured the best way to show the uniqueness of what each kid was painting was from this angle.

Saturday morning was early.  I didn’t get to sleep until about 12:30 and I had to be up at 4:30 to meet the bus in time, shortly after 5am.  Tired and nursing a small hangover I set out for Nicoya, then San Jose.  When I arrived in San Jose I realized the last time I had been there had been in late February to meet my girlfriend Yamina at the airport when she arrived for her first visit.  It was only five months ago but it feels like a lifetime ago.

An abandoned barge at Playa Negra, near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It’s called Playa Negra because of the black sand that makes up the beach.

I transferred bus stations, the Caribbean bus station was about eight blocks away, had some lunch and boarded the final bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in Costa Rica’s eastern-most province.  I arrived shortly after 7pm and took a taxi to Rockin’ J’s hostel, which is sort of like a warehouse of drunk tourists.  I plan to take it easy and enjoy the chill vibe during the day though.  I’m on a very tight budget now.

The entrance features a mosaic serpent. These gaudy mosaic works were all over and sort of reminded me of Barcelona.

In addition to the standard dorm or private options, this place lets you rent a tent or pitch your own.

The tent section of the backpackers warehouse called Rockin’ J’s (yes it’s the dumbest name ever).

They also let you rent hammocks or hang your own.  Aside from camping with your own tent or hammock renting a hammock is the next cheapest option, so I jumped on it.

The hammock section, mine is the seventh in on the right (blue) I also got a lock box big enough for all my stuff for $7 a night.

The different warehouses border a central courtyard which is nice and relaxed

The central field with the hammock warehouse i’m staying in on the right. The beach is about 20m to the left.

Did I mention the gaudy mosaics?

More gaudy mosaics, this time the entrance to the main hostel from the ‘garden,’ which is really just an empty field with some more mosaics.

The next photo was taken just inside this entrance.

Inside the warehouse, some dining tables, and… More Mosaics.

Before I went east everyone told me the Caribbean was a very different place from the west-coast.  I’ve been here less than 24 hours and already know they’re right.

A local fishing in the Caribbean. One thing that jumps out here is the the Creole slang worked into the local Spanish and the black people. I think Nosara had two, maybe three. Here though slaves who fled Jamaica found a new home and make up, what I estimate to be, about half the local population.

When I said, ‘warehouse for drunk tourists,’ I meant all of it.  I woke up around 9am and walked to my locker where two girls were drinking a litre of wine, their conversation was mostly about how they’d been drunk all day the day before too.  I left  for an hour to buy groceries and when I came back they were gone, but the empty bottle (which had been full) was still there.  Then I went to the beach.

Passed out or just a mid-morning nap? The beach outside the hostel, not quite as nice as Playa Guiones. Also the tide here seems to be a little more constant, I’m thinking that’s because of the shelter created by the Caribbean? But I’m not sure.

I miss Nosara already, the people, the place and the beauty.  I haven’t travelled a whole lot around Costa Rica, but every place I have been to palls in comparison.  Still I am excited to be coming home, though not excited to be coming home broke and in debt.  However, with five months in Guelph before I need to go back to school hopefully I can save up some coin and make a dent in the debt.

Ultimately it was totally worth it though.  And I know I’ve left the paper in good hands with Gio there, if you want to keep up with his travels in Nosara check out his blog.

On Tuesday I will catch a bus back to San Jose I hope to stay in the same hostel I stayed in during my first two nights in Costa Rica back in January.  Then on Wednesday I’ll taxi or bus to the airport and leave for Canada.

Until then I’m going to take it easy on the east-coast, where reggae pours out of every bar, black guys with dreadlocks cruise through town on beach bikes and every other place sells Caribbean style fried chicken.  Not a bad place for my retirement from Voice of Nosara.

Me typing this blog post, it’s been a while since I was blogging from a new interesting location, I think the last time I did this picture was when I first arrived in Nosara. The Caribbean is about 15m behind me.

Paz  siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Beginning of the End

It’s the final stretch for me in Nosara now.  A week from now I plan to be in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, in the eastern province of Límon.  Until then I’m finishing up a few final stories and assignments and rounding out the things I wanted to do here.

So, last weekend I finally got to Samara, some 25km from Playa Guiones where I live, I left Friday night and returned Sunday.  Without a functioning quad I had to take the bus though, which requires going about 30km out of the way and transferring buses.

Nicoya’s west-coast playground.

I stayed at a place called Las Mariposas.  Their dorms, at $15 a night, were expensive for Central America but affordable for Samara.  The place was nice and the people were good.

Overall I prefer Nosara, the big thing is the beach.  Samara’s is crowded and the sun doesn’t set over the ocean.  From Guiones to Ostional, 6km north, there is a turtle refuge for the Olive Ridley sea turtles who lay their eggs there.  So there is very little beachside development, save for a handful of lots who have concessions from the government.

Samara beach in low season, way more crowded and developed compared to Guiones.

I also saw the biggest land crab I’ve seen yet.  It crawled into the hostel grounds and ended up trapped in a case of empty beer bottles.  We tried to help it free but it freaked out, fell down and ran off.

The crab that wandered into the hostel.

He was big enough to arract the attention of people walking by.

This must have been a big crab. These people were walking ouside the hostel and stopped to take pictures.

Sunday morning I was up at 5:45am to meet one of the editors.  When I told her I was going to Samara, she asked if I could come on a finca tour Sunday morning to take pictures for an article she’s working on for next print issue.  Samara is close enough to Nosara that we cover events there too.

A finca is a plantation basically, as well as a colonial status symbol brought over by the Spanish, they exist all across Latin America.  In this case this one is overgrown, with some small-scale logging.  The owners, who bought it a few years ago, want to use the jungle space they have as an eco tour business.

So we were given a short version of the tour and walked for two hours, mostly through a river because they haven’t cut many trails.  We saw lots of cool stuff, but there was only one pictures I really liked.

A Golden silk orb-weaver spider in the morning sun. When they feel disturbed, for example by a photographer, they curl up defensively.

Rewinding a little bit, earlier that week on July 4th I helped shoot another wedding.  I’m not really going to post pics here though.  Instead i’ve made some site changes, the navigation bar at the top now links to my twitter account, my new facebook page, and two new blogs I set up and linked here, portfolios and weddings.

Check them out they’re part of my effort to expand my online presence and commercial photography business.  However, I will include one picture from my most recent wedding, it’s not in the album on my weddings page though.  It’s what I would call wedding B-roll, but I really like this photo.

One of the groomsmen listening to instructions from the main photographer. When we found the groom he and his friends were chilling in the pool with some beers. Not a bad wedding pre-party.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Un Junio Tranquilo

It is July, that means I’m now in my final month here in Nosara.  It’s prompted a few interesting reflections, some I will share now, others I will have to think about a bit more.  One thing I know is I will miss this place, maybe not right away, but at some point down the road I know I will.  Below is part of the reason why, I haven’t used high dynamic range editing in more than a year, but Monday’s sunset prompted one.  This is me on top of a ridge separating playas Guiones and Pelada.

There’s a narrow ridge that separates Playa Guiones from Playa Pelada, it’s a little vertigo inducing, about 50m high with sheer drops. This is also the first HDR picture I’ve down in a while. It’s actually comprised of three stacked pictures, which expose lights, darks and mid-tones in high contrast scenes. it’s usually frowned upon in photojournalism because it requires stacking three different pictures from three different times but this was just for fun.

What’s more my replacement is picked, a guy named Giordano Ciampini, he’s leaving Canada on July 5th and wisely getting some pre-internship travel in.  For the last little while he’s been based out of Toronto as a freelancer, he also graduated from the same program at Loyalist I’m going into, and last year he was in Egypt during the revolution under his own steam.  He has a tumblr here with some cool stuff for those interested.

Before I go though I have a list with some unfinished things and unexplored places.  Off the top of my head, the town of Samara, 35km away and playa Rosada, a pink sand beach only really accessible during low-tide.  More importantly as I look back over the last six-months I realize I got what I needed from this experience.

My Spanish, though still rough, has improved dramatically, I’m still limited in my own vocabulary but I seem to understand around 80% of what is said at a regular speaking pace.  My portfolio is now more than half comprised of photos from Nosara.  I’ve gone from being a terrible writer to a passable one, and pitched stories that landed on cover.  In a few cases I produced features which required, video, photos and text.  While there is still time to do more, I’m happy with the way things have gone.

Conveniently too I have been hired as an assistant for two weddings here.  I say convenient because I have been looking towards what I’ll do from August to January in Guelph, and frankly I’m hoping to do some weddings.  However, my wedding portfolio was sorely lacking, so the two here have given me an opportunity to step up that part of my game.

I like wedding photography, for different reasons than journalism.  Weddings are generally happy days, people are usually looking their best and want you to take their pictures, creativity is a must, if you’re not trying something new each time you’re not really trying, I feel.

Nosara is a great place for a wedding too, on the beach with the setting sun.  Here’s a few samples from last Wednesday, the next one is tomorrow night.  I’ll be putting up a new blog for wedding stuff soon, and a Facebook page, which will have more samples.

The classic prep shot, framed through a mirror.

Fun with reflections in tidal pools.

Getting in close, they asked for a picture that featured that red dot in a visible way, this seemed like the best option.

The wedding planner had these sky lanterns, a Thai tradition, that were lit and let off into the sky.

The next day the newspaper got a call from someone asking about floating lights over Guiones, also one of my friends caught one when it landed near his house, he wasn’t sure what it was so he kept it.

In terms of assignments, it has been a slow month and none of them have really been great for pictures.  I’ve also done a lot more writing this month and I’ve been playing around with video more.

I’ve been hoping to do a video on what it’s like to drive in Nosara – beautiful views, jungle, choking dust, mud, 2ft deep pot-holes, the pacific etc. I figured the easiest way was to drive from north of town to the beaches, through different neighborhoods on a quad with my camera straped to my chest for a POV video.

Problem is the quad keeps breaking so I haven’t had a chance…  But a few weeks ago on a quiet day I decided to test my, ‘camera-mounting system,’ which is a belt and a carabiner and go for a test-drive.  I wondered if the sped up video would work and if the POV would work or if it would be too shaky.  I feel like it worked, although some minor adjustments need to be made and once the quad is functioning again I can do the actual drive.

And for those of you who have five5 minutes and want to see the slower and thus more scenic tour.

I also played around with stop motion animation for a feature on coffee.  Basically I boiled water and set up a cup, a cloth coffee filter, which is how the Tico’s brew their coffee, and my camera on a tripod.  I used the cable release, and put the running lock on, once the 5D hit its buffer it shot roughly 1.5 frames per second at a consistent rate for as long as I neeeded, then I started brewing coffee.  After I used iMoive (I need to graduate to Final Cut) stacked the pics (120 in total) and set the view time for .2 seconds each.  It could probably also be made into a .gif…

I’ll also include a few pictures from my trip to the coffee farms.  Earlier in June I went into the mountains in Nicoya to visit two coffee farms with a writer, it was a really fun day of sightseeing for me.  Unfortunately coffee season is not now, so both the farms were empty and dormant, the coffee plants won’t flower until around November-December.  In both cases we were toured around an empty farm, it was still interesting but a lot harder to make pictures of the farms…  The full feature is coming out later this week in print and sometime shortly after online I think.

Wilberth Rom‡an, the Manager of the coffee co-op Coopepilangosta, stands in front of the co-op gate with a juvenile coffee plant on June 8. The co-op is located in Hojancha in the canton of Nicoya and produces both organic and non-organic fair-trade coffee. The gate behind him reads, ‘Benefit Matambu’ and is an homage to the indigenous Matambu whose land the co-op is on.

A view of the mountains near Los Angeles de Nandayure in southern Nicoya on June 8. Beyond the last mountain is the Gulf of Nicoya. The topography here is very different from Nosara and the climate is cooler and damper.

Daniel Chaves, the administrator at Coopecerroazul in Los Angeles de Nandayure talks with Voice of Nosara reporter Wilberth Villalobos Castrillo during a tour of the farm on June 8. The Silo’s are used to store coffee which has been dried but not yet roasted or packaged. Because June is not during harvest time the silo’s are empty, and cleaned.

This past Friday I was hired to shoot a graduation ceremony at Blue Spirit.  The Blue Spirit centre is a Yoga training fortress, situated on a mountain overlooking Playa Guiones, protected by guards, razor-wire and walls.  The Yoga monks inside are quite nice though, it’s an interesting community they have there.  While I was in their studio I was able to see over the tree-line to Playa Guiones from a height I haven’t before, it was pretty cool.

The view of Playa Guiones from Blue Spirit’s yoga studio. The tip at the end is where the ridge from the first photo is. The beach break is a few kilometres long.

I was hired to shoot a group photo of all 70 students, I’ve never shot a group photo that big before, but they had a ladder.  They also wanted a portrait of each student with their teachers and certificates during the ceremony.  I used a portrait lens and a flash to fill them in and with my remote trigger and a tripod, it was like a factory line.

After the ceremony though, the students had a presentation that they’d prepared.  It involved a lot of kow towing, rhythmic dancing and flowing white dresses.  I wasn’t hired to shoot this part, but I did, cause it was kind of cool.  I wanted to be more unobtrusive though, so I tried to use a slower shutter and very narrow focus to do it with the limited natural light.  I think it kind worked.

The Blue Spirit people were very friendly, and the facility is absolutely beautiful.  Plus they let me eat at their buffet… I was stuffed I had 4 plates I think, there was a random mix or American, European and Tico food so for example, rice, beans, French bread with guacamole and peanut butter.

So coming up is another wedding tomorrow, I’m planning on heading to Samara for the weekend, and hopefully next week there will be an Arribada in Ostional, it might require a late night and early morning but I want to shoot one sooooo bad.

For now though this is it.

Peace,

Adam Dietrich


La Segunda Vez: Nicaragua

Ok, I wanna start this post with a picture, pulled from near the end of this very wordy post, of a red-eyed tree frog.  Why?  It’s cute.

The red-eyed tree frog is native to the rain forests of Central America, it’s not poisonous nor endangered though it is considered threatened. They come out at night to hunt and in this case wandered into the hostel reception area.

What a week it’s been.  When I posted last it was the eve of my tri-monthly departure from Nosara, colloquially referred to as a ‘visa-run.’  Basically every three months Costa Rica demands those here on tourist visas leave for 72 hours, I assume to ponder whether you want to return or not…

I left Nosara on June 1st for Nicoya, the capital of the canton, similar to a municipality, which Nosara is in.  I briefly stopped at the bank, if you call an hour to get a cheque cashed ‘brief,’ and then was on my way to Liberia, capital of the province of Guanacaste where Nosara and Nicoya are located.  It was my stopping point for the night.

My hotel in Liberia, also where the bus to Nicaragua met me. No, not an Instagram photo, rather a Blackberry rip off called ‘Pixtrix.’ What’s more hipster than Instagram? Not-Instagram, that does the same thing.

The last time I went to Nicaragua to renew my visa I had trouble re-entering Costa Rica.  The Tico’s required proof of onward travel in the next three months or they refused to grant a visa.  Trapped in limbo between Nicaragua and Costa Rica I had no choice but to buy and international bus ticket from one of the reps wandering around, likely for this exact situation, I purchased a direct bus from San Jose to Managua good for one year.

I had this ticket lying around so I figured I would use it, but meeting the bus en route in Liberia is easier then going all the way to San Jose.  Leaving from the country’s capital would require six hours busing to San Jose, an overnight then it would be five more hours before the bus passed through Liberia, or I could travel the four hours from Nosara to Liberia, stay over night and meet the bus there, saving at least seven hours of my life.

My bus to Nicaragua parked at the border. I love the rainbow, although it’s missing a unicorn.

Crossing the border was a bigger pain in the ass on an international bus than using local buses and walking across, as everyone’s visa has to be processed then everyone’s bag had to be searched by a border guard who put no effort into it.  After two hours of slowly stepping over an invisible dotted line in the sand we were on our way.

However, I didn’t want to go to Managua, I wanted to return to the pueblo of Poste Rojo and the little treehouse hostel near it.  The route from the border to the capital of Nicaragua doesn’t bring me to Poste Rojo, it splits and one road goes to Granada, the other Managua.  The bus stopped and I jumped out and it drove off.  I found myself in a little town called Nandaime on the side of the Pan-American Highway.  I waited at the side of a dusty road, soliciting stares from the people waiting for a bus with me.

After about ten minutes a local bus, occasionally called a chicken bus because in Honduras campesinos are known to transport chickens in them, arrived.  It was in reality a brightly painted recycled school bus from North America, mine was a Bluebird, with the logo painted acid green and the bus painted black.

The bus was headed to Granada, on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, I asked it to drop me at Poste Rojo and began the exhausting 200 metre climb to reception, it’s almost completely vertical.  An hour later I was watching the sun dip over the jungle while tree frogs and howler monkey’s made noise, sipping a beer, reading whilst swinging in a hammock.  I did that all next day too, lazy Sunday.

Monday I realized I was leaving Tuesday so I figured I would head into town, I hadn’t yet been to Granada.  It’s the capital of the province of Granada in Nicaragua’s southeast; it’s on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the biggest lake in Central America.  The lake was of strategic importance for the Spanish colonizers because of a small navigable river that connects Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean.  It made for an excellent inland bay to load up treasure ships safely with stolen gold from the Maya and Aztec in the north and the Inca in the south.

Main st. Granada. Although a little tired looking now, Granada was once a jewel in Spanish Central America. It was modelled after the city of Granada in southern Spain, as a result Granada, Nicaragua is an odd combination of Spanish architecture with Ottoman influences, and materials and tweaks from local influence. It’s a busy, busy place too.

~~~ here comes a political-historical deviation ~~~~

As a result of this historical strategic importance Granada is full of beautiful architecture.  Most big cities in Central America are somewhat devoid of ornate colonial architecture because it wasn’t a source of administrative importance or power for the Spanish unlike Lima, Buenos Aries or Caracas, which are littered with ornate architecture.  However, Granada’s relative importance warranted it a greater level of fancy buildings then I have seen elsewhere so far.

The irony of course is that the city is in terrible disrepair after decades of internecine war fueled by foreign powers.  The Somoza dictatorship and the successful Sandinista (FSLN) revolution was a proxy war for the cold war powers.  The FSLN is Marxist in its ideology although post-Somoza Nicaragua has found it’s own mix of socialism and religion.  One election poster I saw a lot read, “Nicaragua: Christianity, Socialism, Solidarity,” strange combination indeed.

The Cathedral of Granada looks out over a neighbourhood with Sandinista graffiti on the telephone poles. Granada was founded in the 1526 by Francisco Hern‡ndez de Co—rdoba, and is the oldest European city in Central America. It has been a major site in all of Nicaragua’s big historical events.

The FSLN is currently in power and they’ve steered Nicaragua in an interesting direction.  One could argue that the tired looking architecture in Granada is symptomatic of a lack of focus on development.  That’s just not true.  The fact is political leaders in Nicaragua are tasked with reversing a century of privilege and their priorities are elsewhere.

In the early 1900’s the US intervened in most Central American countries, as per their manifest destiny belief the US wanted a canal through Central America, originally they proposed building it in Nicaragua.  That plan failed and instead they supported Panamanian independence movements seeking separation from Colombia, the cost was a sovereign American strip through the country to build a canal and then they proceeded to pacify Panama’s neighboors.

One of the churches I wandered by, Iglesia Guadeloupe, is at the entrance to Granada from the lake. Construction began in 1626 and it was periodically used as fort to defend against pirate attacks. In 1856 William Walker, an American who tried to make himself president of Central America, and 18 troops were cornered inside by Nicaraguan troops, the encounter left pot marks in the church which weren’t fixed until the 1940’s.

In Costa Rica, it was political which lead to revolution in the 40’s and in Nicaragua it was political with a little direct military intervention to assist it.  Then in the 30’s they assisted in establishing Anastasio Somoza García as a ‘king’ of sorts.  Until 1979 he and his sons used Nicaragua as a personal bank account.  They pillaged all the public services, assassinated and tortured dissidents and pushed the campesinos into civil war.  The Sandinista’s, named for Augusto César Sandino a general who led a guerilla war against the US marines occupying Nicaragua in the 30’s and the government they were backing, beat out the Somoza dynasty in 1979.

For the next decade the US carried out a covert war using black ops ‘Contra’s,’ short for ‘contrarevolution’ or ‘counterrevolution’ in English.  Most of them were Nica’s trained by the US, although the Green Berets were also evident.  By 1987, after almost a century without democratic rule Nicaragua began the transition back, in 1990 Violeta Barrios de Chamorro was the first female elected head of government in the America’s.

Nicaragua is still recovering from decades of war, and whilst Costa Rica was allowed to spend all the time marketing themselves as a Central American heaven, Nicaragua was busy fighting for basic human rights.  Now Nicaragua is finally at a point where Costa Rica was in the 1950’s, but the Nica’s have big dreams.  The Sandinista government recently outlawed misogyny, while it is a hard law to enforce; especially with a poorly trained corrupt national police force (see earlier post) it’s a lofty goal.  One the rest of America could perhaps consider looking at.

A man walking by the municipal library, a much more modest looking building than the churches.

There are more concrete measures on the ground too.  However, restoring colonial edifices falls somewhere behind education for all, equality amongst class and sex, access to universal healthcare etc.  I would argue Granada is still beautiful, and more so when you realize that the tired old colonial buildings, actually means Nicaragua has their development priorities sorted out

~~~ and back to the regular post ~~~

Iglesia Merced, was built in the mid-1700’s. During independence from Spain it was burnt badly and the inside was gutted during the revolution. It’s dramatic on the outside though.

A brightly coloured barbershop in Granada.