Independent Photography

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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


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.

I01

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

I02

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

I03

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.

I04

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

I05

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

I06

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.

I07An early morning coming into the valley towards the bridge that crosses the Peace River.

I08

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.

I09

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.

I10

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


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


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


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


El fin de Mayo

Nosara is a strange place sometimes.  Electrical brownouts are quite a common thing, all businesses have surge protectors designed to store power to keep desktop computers on during the brief flickers.  There have been the odd power outages too, for a few hours at a time, they usually occur during storms.  Last Tuesday in the middle of the day, under a blue sky the power suddenly cutout.  I wasn’t able to continue working so I went to the beach to pass the time until the power came back on.

A female Howler monkey and her baby.

As I got near the beach one of the real estate guys who works in the plaza near the beach saw me, “hey, got your camera with you?” he asked.  I looked where he was pointing and there was a dead Howler monkey hanging from a power transformer, here was the cause of the blackout.  I took some pictures, but what I found interesting was not the dead monkey, but the family of Howler monkey’s across the road who had gathered and were screaming.

A dead Howler monkey hangs from an electrical transformer in Playa Guiones.  The monkey grabbed an exposed part of wire with it’s tale, electrocuting itself to death.

An hour and a half later the monkey had fallen to the ground, it was several hours before the body was picked up.

It’s a common thing in Costa Rica, the monkey’s use power lines to cross roads and jungle, and if there is a hole in the rubber casing or they touch a transformer they’re either horribly mutilated or killed.  There are several organizations set up to rehabilitate the monkeys, in some cases they have built bridges over the lines.

A female Howler monkey carrying her baby makes her way across a power line on the other side of the road.

Although the dead monkey was sad, the gathered monkey’s mourning on the other side of the road gave me an excellent opportunity to get some nice pictures of this endangered species.

A mourning Holwer, howls across the road from where another was killed on a power line.

Last Friday was a somewhat busy day; I was supposed to go to Nicoya for the opening of a new music centre, although, because the bus was late I missed out, so I ended up not going Friday.  However, while waiting for the bus there were a bunch of mountain bikers who biked by.  They were part of a five-stage race across the province of Guanacaste; the third stage took them through Nosara.

A one armed mountain biker taking part in the Guanaride bike race, from Ciudad Blanca in Liberia to Playa Naranjo in Puntrenas, passes through Nosara on his way to Samara during the 3rd stage of the 248 mile race on May 25. There are five stages in total, one per day, from May 23-May 27, the third stage started in Playa Langosta and ended in Playa Samara, 68 miles down the coast, passing through Nosara.

The next week I went to Nicoya to follow-up on the opening and try to get a photo.  At first I was worried when I got there, it was just a big open, empty room, with some smaller rooms off to the side where kids were having music lessons.  I wandered around and was invited into a few of the lessons, one pair was completely cool with me photographing them during a practice session, so at least I came away with a few nice pictures.

Yogathan Madriz Berrios, professor of violin and viola an the Nicoya music school, instructs Laura Gomez Diaz, 18 from Hojancha during a viola class on May 28. In addition to the two practice rooms, storage room and massive performance space, the building also has a shaded patio in the back for lessons.

Finally there’s been a community reforestation project on the beach for the last few days.  From Sunday-Tuesday volunteers came out to plant trees, it was a follow-up to an event last year where they planted over 1000 trees… 80% died.  This year they only planted 310 and used different compost and planting methods, organizers hope that more will survive this year.

Christian Santamaria, a local surfer, passes a tree to be planted to a student from Del Mar Academy. On Tuesday May 29 35 students from Del Mar took part in the reforestation effort.

Student’s from Del Mar Academy sit with a tree ready for planting while they listen to instructions on how to properly plant the trees.

Local surfer Christian Santamaria leads a group of students from Del Mar Academy to the planting site in southern Guiones.

Students from Del Mar Academy plant a tree during near the cemetery on Playa Guiones during a reforestation effort.

So yeah, that’s the kind of week and half it’s been, tomorrow I head to Nicaragua, first I have to take a bus to Liberia, then I’ll stay there overnight and take a direct bus to Granada, Nicaragua.

I’ll end off with this picture taken by Surfing Nosara, they have photographers on the beach everyday taking pictures of people surfing in the hopes those people will buy those photos later.  Their photog was a little bored Tuesday morning I think, and he took a bunch of pictures of people planting trees, there was one where you can see me at work.

See if you can spot me…

Next post should have some pictures of my Nica-adventures.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Into ‘Winter’

I haven’t seen blue sky in five days, we’re entering the edge of what locals here call ‘winter,’ which means rain. It looks like the clouds may be starting to break though, so hopefully…

I’m going to try something new with this blog post, rather than chronological order I’m going to start with my favorite photos and work down.  I should also make two notes, there are sunset photos near the end, for those who are followers of this blog you’ll note there are lots of sunset photos, you have been warned.  Secondly there will be a geeky final paragraph about some film stuff, if you don’t want to read a lot of technical film/photography jargon, then skip that too.

There were a lot of ‘firsts’ for Nosara this month, first mini-golf tournament, first charity race and first motocross race.  The motocross race on May 13 was cool, it was hosted in a field in the north part of town, and like most events here was low infrastructure.

I was able to wander all over and cross the track even during the race.  I’ve also always wanted to shoot motocross, so this was cool.  It was a loud muddy overcast affair, but I came away with some good clean pictures and had the chance to be creative.

Wicho, a rider in the rookie category flies past a lap marker during his race. Despite an earlier fall he tied for 7th out of 12 riders in his category.

Wicho falls off his bike after bumping with a rider in mid-air. There were no injuries and Wicho got back on the bike and finished 7th out of 12 for the day in his category, but held a position as 5th overall out of 20 riders because of points from previous rounds.

From left to right, Carlos, Wicho and Luis Diego follow each other over a jump during the rookie race at Nosara’s first motocross race on May 13.

I tried to slow the shutter here to keep the crowd sharp and the riders blurry.  I didn’t think to use a flash, second curtain sync would have given me the same picture with a slightly sharper view of the bike at the end of the blur, would’ve been cooler.

Riders land a jump in front of a crowd of onlookers perched on a hill near the start line.

A week and a half earlier there was a community outreach event.  A local hotel, provided dental services for school children from neighboring communities over two and half days.  Harmony Hotel has a community sustainability committee whose job is community outreach and development.

Dental access, like everything in Nosara, is limited.  Dentists from Nicoya visit once a month but their time is limited.  However, the university of Costa Rica’s dental program has an internship component.  Usually students fulfill this obligation by doing volunteer work in Costa Rica’s countryside.

Harmony Hotel’s sustainability committee contacted the university and offered to pay for transportation and accommodations for the dental students.  Several students and their prof showed up in the afternoon of May 2 and took over one of the hotel’s cabinas to use as an impromptu dental office then for the next two days then cleaned kids teeth and wrote referrals for anything serious.

A student from Garza’s school has his teeth cleaned in a Harmony Hotel room on May 4.

Saturday morning was a much-anticipated charity run through the jungle, I’ve been asked to write two preview articles for it to date.  There was both a 12k and a 5k race and the money went to charity, run of the mill stuff but I like the starting line picture.

Runners take off from the start-line for the first Adventura Nosara charity run. Both the 12k and 5k races started and ended at the same point in Playa Guiones on May 13. Proceeds from the race will fund three programs in town, the firefighting, security and recycling associations.

A week before on May 12 there was a mini-golf tournament, welcome to small town news.  It was little affair, surprisingly popular with the adults…

Two kids take part in the Mini Jr (Under nine) category of Nosara’s first ever mini-golf tournament on May 12. The course was designed by Mael Van der Weid, the 10 year-old son of CafŽ de Paris’ owner Thierry Van der Weid, Mael funded the course construction, all $20 000 through the sale of his paintings. Mael said he likes trophies and a tournament was an excuse to have trophies made.

During the first two weeks of the month my girlfriend Yamina came to visit again, it was pretty awesome, the next three pictures were taken while she was here and we were wandering around.

Horseback riders make their way along Playa Guiones in front of a storm front on May 4. Climatologists believe the oncoming rainy season, referred to locally as ‘winter,’ will be milder this year, with much less rain. Speculation focuses on the ‘El Ni–ño’ phenomenon and effects of global warming.

Here are the sunsets…

and here is the geeky post…

I like to shoot film, I brought a Baldex med format folding rangefinder with me, some Kodak D-76 developer, fixer powder and my developing tank.  I had never used the Baldex before so I’ve been testing how it works with some expired Tri X 400 a friend gave me as a birthday present.

I was able to develop two rolls so far, one at 400 ISO and one pulled to 200 ISO.  Although I don’t have an enlarger or a med format scanner to scan them, I saw a post on Petapixel (a photoblog I follow) which detailed how to build your own med format scanner with a remote flash, a DSLR and a cardboard box.

A Canon 5D mkII with a 135mm f/2 and 2x extender is used to ‘scan’ medium format negatives. The negative is held in a box with a flash placed behind it. The flash is triggered by a remotely by a pocket wizard and digital picture is cropped and the curve inverted to turn the negative into a positive.

The cardboard box I modified to light the negative and take a picture.

The results I got were ok, although I’m not sure if that was the expired film doing weird things or the ‘scanning.’  I have some rolls of still good Panf 50, so I’ll try that next and see.  At the very least it’s a good way to quickly scan negs to make digital contact sheets.

Picture of a palm tree on beach shot n the Baldex scanned with the 5D.

So yeah that’s it, some community meetings/events this week, then it’s back to Nicaragua for another visa run at the start of June.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


April

Ok so it’s been a month since my last post.  April was a bit of a slow and weird month, I spent a lot of time working out the details for my return home and my replacement in July.

However, that’s neither here nor there.  I spent most of the month working on a feature about the volunteer firefighters here in Nosara.  Aside from that it was the odd assignment for the web.  There has been some reorganizing of the staff internally and it’s been a somewhat confusing to say the least, but everything is starting to straighten itself out.

So going in chronological order…

Early in April I stopped by the Nosara Yoga Spa for a trippy little concert featuring three very talented guitarists.  One of them, Bill McPhearson, is credited with starting the live music scene, more or less, in Nosara, with a Tuesday night acoustic set at the Gilded Iguana, a popular bar/hotel in town.

Spectatoars watch and listen to a concert featuring three acoustic guitarists at the Yoga Spa in Nosara, Costa Rica. Above on the ceiling 'transvisualizations,' projected visuals used to 'visualize' live music, are projected by a VJ.

Tuesdays at the Iguana have now become an iconic part of Nosara’s nightlife.  McPhearson has also left Nosara to take up a teaching post in California.  However, he is married to a Tico (slang for Costa Rican) so he plans to return once a year at least.

Bill McPhearson, an American who is credited with kickstarting the live music scene in Nosara, Costa Rica performs on April 4 at the Yoga Spa. McPhearson has since left Nosara for a teaching position in California, however, he intends to return and play at least once a year, if not more.

About a week later I went to the animal rescue centre for a web feature on adoptable pets.  It was fun, the animals were cute and the woman who runs it is incredibly dedicated.

Plus I shot all the portraits at f/1.4 it’s the newest coolest thing in photojournalism (I say that somewhat sarcastically).  Basically it means shooting with the shallowest depth of field you possibly can, hence in this photo, literally only one eye is in focus.  More and more photographers are paying big bucks for lenses that open to f/1.4, 1.8, 2, and I guess the logic is, if you’re paying for it why not use it?  This was one of the first times I found it useful for an assignment that wasn’t a portrait.

An adoptable puppy inspects a camera lens. The Nosara Animal Rescue, run by Canadian Sarah Foster, takes in hundreds of neglected animals each year, they are cared for and given access to healthcare then put up for adoption.

I’ve also been getting into shape somewhat.  We’ve been running a blog-style post a week on the web about fitness options in Nosara.  What it means is I get to take a variety of free classes, ask some questions snap some pics then write a brief first person perspective on it.

So far there’s been Crossfit, which defeated me (I’m picking words carefully here), a Zumba/Bootie Fit class and today Tai Chi, my favourite thus far as been Tai Chi. although Crossfit made me feel like the hulk and Zumba/Bootie Fit left me feeling like a back up dancer in a rap video…

Anyway the photos weren’t anything special from any of the classes, but I like this one because I’m visible.  I never ‘see’ myself at work, and after looking at this photo I think that’s a good thing.

Yoga House founder and Zumba instructor, Jodie Buehner, teaches a Zumba/Bootie Fit class on April 20 at the Yoga House in Nosara Costa Rica. The class is a fusion of the fitness regime Zumba, which was designed by a choreographer in the mid 90's, and 'Bootie Camp,' which provides core strengthening, with a focus on 'the bootie.'

So this will mark the third post I have with rodeo pictures.  This time it was in the beach town of Garza, about 10km outside Nosara.  It was pretty cool and it operated the same way as the Nosara fiestas, after two of which, I had a system down.

One of the rodeo games played at the first annual Garza Fiestas, on April 21. The games are a combination of bullfighting and rodeo riding. Safety gear is completely optional.

The big thing at this fiesta was this psychotic bull called ‘Malacrianza,’ which I was specifically asked to get a picture of.  Talk about pressure, the rider lasted 7 seconds.  At three frames per second (5D Mk II) that gives me a max of 14 photos.  I had 8 useable ones, these two are my favorites.  It was crazy though the arena was sparsely lit with these flickering floodlights, every photo the white balance is a little different then the last.  Also Malacrianza was bucking in he part of the arena where my placement counter to floodlights left my pictures washed out.  For those familiar with Adobe Lightroom, these photos have the contrast and black toned tab turned up 100%,  and even still the photo lacks contrast…

Orlando Tellez Aguilar, 28 from Santa Cruz rides the infamous 'Malacrianza' during the second night of Garza's first ever fiesta's. Aguilar lasted for 7 seconds before being tossed by the bull.

I like that he wore a hockey helmet, it’s the second one I saw in Costa Rica, the first one was on a motorcycle driver…

Orlando Tellez Aguilar, 28 from Santa Cruz rides the infamous 'Malacrianza' during the second night of Garza's first ever fiesta's. Aguilar lasted for 7 seconds before being tossed by the bull.

These fiestas are crazy… people in and out of the ring.

Spectators inside and outside the arena wait for the start of the second night of rodeo games at the first annual Garza fiestas on April 21. The rodeo games feature audience participation, in that, after the bull throws his rider spectators get on the field and try to anger him without getting hurt.

Over the course of the month I’ve been meeting with the Nosara firefighters, speaking with their funders and founders, and other towns nearby about their situation for a feature on the underfunded and overworked volunteer department here.  The feature sprang from an idea I pitched in March about a series of portraits of the firefighters with bios and their opinions on what they needed to better do their job.

The idea was based off a project I saw by Canadian Photojournalist Louie Palu, he worked in Afghanistan for a while and shot a really stunning series of portraits of the soldiers he was with.  More pics shot at f/1.4.  Palu’s work is here, check it out, I still don’t have anything on it, but that’s how painters in the renaissance learned, first by painting work done by masters before them, then developing past or outside that.

Kyle Bombard, co-owner of Reef Realty, is one of three brothers who grew up on Santa Catalina Island in California then moved to Nosara. There was no professional fire department in Santa Catalina, so everyone in the town would help to fight fires. Bombard says the biggest issue they face is proper safety equipment, he cites a recent fire at the Nosara dump which had fire fighters breathing in fumes from burning plastic, silicone and other materials for close to 12 hours, with little to protect them except scarves or dust masks. Currently the volunteers supply their own gear and vehicles.

I’ve never been to or photographed an orchestra before, so this past Saturday was cool.  In March I wrote a preview story about a group of parents at the local Montessori school, they were planning to bring an orchestra from Nicoya comprised of high school music students to perform in Nosara.  It was big, more than 400 people turned out to see it.  Most of whom had never seen a show like that before.

Conductor, Juan Luis Guevara Mora leads the violin section during a performance at the Nosara catholic church on April 28. The orchestra, named 25 de Julio, is based out of Nicoya and is the only orchestra in the Guanacaste province.

The conductor was great, he was so emotive I had a hard time filing down pics.

Conductor Juan Luis Guevara Mora conducts the Nicoya youth orchestra during their first ever performance in Nosara. The choir is made up of music students from the area around the city of Nicoya.

I shot a bunch of regular photos of people playing instruments but to be honest, just a straight photo of someone playing a violin is boring, unless they’re really emotive or flamboyant.  So I was looking for something different.  Because they were kids most barely saw over their music stands, I decided to play around with that, this was my favorite.

One of the violinists in the 25 de Julio orchestra watches for the conductors cues during a free concert in Nosara on April 28. The concert was organized by a parent group from the Del Mar Montessori School called the community service committee.

This one falls outside the chronological order of the post as I shot it on the 24th.  I looked outside my window and saw a strangely bright star, I looked it up on Google and it turns out that night Venus was going to rise with the moon and be visible to the naked eye.  I set up a tripod and took a photo, I haven’t done much astrography, but I want to try more.  It’s more accessible than I thought, I mean this was taken at a 270mm focal length, nothing huge, you just have to know when and where to look.

The crescent moon (left) sits almost horizontal with Venus, visible to the naked eye on April 24 from Nosara, Costa Rica.

On the 5th of May there will be what’s called a ‘super moon,’ basically based on the Earth and Lunar orbits this will be the closest the moon comes to the Earth all year, making it look much brighter, bigger and visible.

I think I’ll bust out my medium format, which by the way works.  I had this old 50’s folding 6×6 shipped to me and I processed the first roll of film, some expired TriX a friend gave me.  Camera works great and it felt badass to process film in Central America.  #imanerd

Anyway, that’s it for now.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Solo at VON

Okay so a post every two weeks is pretty good right?

The biggest change so far has been the departure of my editor.  She’s been in New York on business (the paper’s owner lives there) for the last two weeks and returns today.   The biggest change for me has been that I have mostly been in charge of the breaking news in Nosara.  Yes sometimes there is breaking news.

Like the first weekend after she left, which left me exhausted.  It was the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, on Saturday I was supposed to shoot the second round on an ongoing surf contest in the morning then a St. Patrick’s Day event in the evening.

So I drove the 15km to Playa Graza at 6am to meet the boats and waited an hour, no one showed up.  Frustrated and confused I left and drove back to Guiones to the Tico Surf school, they’re the ones who organized the contest.  I walked into the office and saw all the organizers watching TV on a laptop, turns out the waves that day sucked so they had decided to post-pone. I went home and started to relax.

Then came a call from the Nosara firefighters saying they were dealing with a fire in the nearby town of Esperanza.  I drove out there, it turned out that a farmer had tried to clear land by starting a brush fire, then the wind blew it up a hill and it spread out of control.  Although there weren’t flames, in dry brush fire travels along the ground, the hill was burnt.

I went back home, wrote a story ate dinner then drove out to cover St. Patrick’s Day.  I went to a bar called the Black Sheep, which only opens a few times in the year.   It’s an English pub, a legit looking English pub, in the middle of the jungle.  It quickly denigrated into a drunk fest…  Literally people almost drank the place dry, here are some pictures.

The line-up at the bar was took about ten minutes to get through. By the end of the night the Black Sheep was out of all but two types of beer. The only people decked out in green seemed to be the staff.

Ok so if the white balance above looks a bit off… it is, I might have turned up the green channel, for ya know, St Patrick.

The Irish Car Bomb station served Guinness beer with shots of Baileys and Whiskey dropped into the glass. This is how mistakes happen.

And then they were drunk.

Things got a little rowdy after midnight... Including people jumping fully clothed into the pool. When they saw the flash firing from my camera... more people started jumping, then the owners came out and put a stop to it. Something about safety.

The next morning started early.  I had gotten home the night before around 2am and had to be on the road by 6am to be at Playa Garza in time to catch the boats.  As it happened I woke up a little later than I intended to and made it just in time to get on the second last boat.  The second round of the surf contest was hosted at an off shore reef.  According to one of the organizers it was the largest surf contest, held off shore ever in Costa Rica.

Horses (not wild) gallop along Playa Garza before the start of the second round of the Triple Crown Surf Contest. Before Tourism hit the area, fishing and ranching were the two biggest economic activities. Some ranchers now offer sunset horseback rides for tourists.

No big deal just some horses racing along the beach for some reason.

Maikol Alvares Helps to raise a banner for the Triple Crown Surf contest from the top of the judges boat.

Raising the flag at Triple Crown.

A sea taxi sits waiting in Garza bay, sea taxi's are used to transport people from shore to fishing boats which anchor further out. This is due to tidal changes, however, for the purposes of the Triple Crown Surf Contest they ferried people from shore to the boats further out.

That guy later ended up driving me back to shore.  When I got in the boat I noticed three empty beer cans on the floor and one in his hand.  As the boat pulled away from the judges boat he a) finished the beer he was drinking b) threw that can in the ocean (unlike the others c) opened another, then d) lit a cigarette…

Maikol Alvares dives into the water in preparation for his heat in the second round of the Triple Crown Surf contest on March 18. The contest was Costa Rica's first offshore surf contest of this size.

The unfortunate part was that I couldn’t actually see the contest.  Even from where the boats were the surfers were on the horizon, it was way too far away for a decent shot.  So I focused on the side show of the floating crowd.  After about two hours the contest was still going on, I was exhausted and there were no more pictures to take, I figured I would go home and take a nap, so I hoped on a sea taxi and went to shore.

I got home and started making lunch, literally just as I put it in the oven the Nosara firefighters called.  It turns out there was a field fire in the neighbourhood of Santa Marta, started by someone burning trash, once again the wind carried it into a field and started a slow burn of a field.   I went home filed a story and went to sleep finally.

Since then I worked on a few other smaller things.  I covered a police briefing with community members, the arrival of a new police car, a preview for a reggae concert in the nearby town of Samara.  In the interim while writing stories I’ve been working on a personal project and trying to make interesting pictures… so here are some sunset and nature pics.

A woman rides into shore on her knees on a surfboard at Playa Guiones on March 29.

Knee surfing, a new sport?

A man walks along Playa Guiones at sunset on March 29. Sport fishing is gaining in popularity amongst tourists in Nosara.

No budget woes here…

A howler monkey looking for food in a tree. The howlers are considered endangered, as well as some of the slowest monkeys. They communicate by howling, which sounds like a dog bark or warthog, they can be heard up to 3 miles away. This one was camped in a tree not 15 metres from my front door.

No big deal, endangered animals hang around outside my apartment.

Anyway that’s all for now.  For a better look at what I’ve been doing with Voice of  Nosara check out www.voiceofnosara.com (although new recent updates mean you have to scroll way down to see my stuff 😦 two days ago I dominated the top of the page)

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


A busy week

I’ve now been back in Nosara for about two weeks.  The First week was a slow ease into things but last week, starting on Thursday, was incredibly busy.  There was a movie opening, a concert, a surf tournament and a few articles and multimedia pieces I had to do coupled with a sudden fire that sprang up Sunday night.

I think the easiest way is explain is to go through this chronologically.

From left to right, Emiliana Garcia (Voice of Nosara editor), Dennis G—mez (one of the producers of 'El Fin'), and Miguel G—mez (director of 'El Fin') set up a projector for the screening of 'El Fin,' a Costa Rican dark comedy bout the end of the world. The screening was hosted at the Nosara rodeo grounds on March 8.

On Thursday March 8, the Voice of Nosara had organized an event with a Costa Rican filmmaker.  The Movie, ‘El Fin,’ which is a dark comedy about the end of the world caused by a speeding asteroid, was played.  We couldn’t find a big enough sheet or a suitable theatre so instead the film was projected on the side of a truck.  We had some 350 chairs and 400 people showed up to watch the movie.  Personally I enjoyed it; it was really well written, funny and yet dark.

About 400 attendees watch the screening of 'El Fin' under the stars on March 8. Nosara has no theatre so the film was projected onto the side of a white truck.

Some of the scenes were shot at Pelada beach, about 15 minutes walking from my house.

An attendee watches a scene in the film 'El Fin,' which was partially shot in Pelada Beach, one of the beachs of Nosara. The screening, on March 8, was projected onto the side of a truck outdoors to about 400 people, including the films director and of the producers.

The next morning I was up early for an interview.  The local Montessori school is bringing a 90-piece symphony orchestra for a free performance in Nosara; it’ll be the first time a show like this is put on.   The organizers are all parents of children at the school, so I had to meet them before they went to work for the day.  The interview went well, although transcribing it was fun… I hate transcribing interviews anyway and trying to do it in a foreign language is just that much more tedious.

However, there wasn’t much time to work on it, that evening was the opening night of the second round of Nosara’s fiestas.  The first round, held January 28, had been one of my first assignments with Voice of Nosara.  I’d be lying if I said I was pleased with the pictures I got from the first round, they sucked.  Partially that was because I was still figuring everything out then but that’s not really an excuse.  In the intervening month and a bit I had sent photos out to different photographers for critiques, people were generous with their time and responded, I took all the advice I received and kept it in mind and came away with what I considered to be a pretty good showing, especially compared to last time.

A rider is tossed but attempts to maintain his composure as he falls off a bull during the opening night of the second round of the Nosara fiestas on March 9. Audience size was down considerably from the opening night of the first round held on January 28.

There was a doubles ride which seemed like a bad idea…

A rider is tossed from a bull during a doubles ride on the opening night of the second round the Nosara Fiestas on March 9. Although assisted out of the ring the rider did not suffer any severe injuries.

remarkably no serious injuries…

A potentially deadly game ends in bruises and a sore head. The rider was riding doubles on a bucking bull without a helmet and was run over after ring tossed.

However, a decline in attendees was bad news for food vendors and games operators.

Carnival games operators wait for participants to play during the opening night of the second round of the Nosara Fiestas on March 9. The night was tough for vendors at the event which experienced a dramatic decline in attendees compared to the same event hosted a month earlier on January 28.

I got home from the fiestas around 11:30 then started editing, I wanted to stay on top of it otherwise I knew it would catch up.  Importing my photos, took twice as long as normal because I accidently broke my card reader so I’ve had to use the camera to import.  However, I did download a trial version of Adobe Lightroom 4, it has gotta be the most powerful photo editor I’ve ever used.  I finished up around 2am and went to sleep.

At 6:30am the next morning I had to get up to meet my ride to the Triple Crown Surf contest, the first of three surf contests.  This one was hosted at Playa Ostional, some 15km from my house and because the quad needed repairs I was getting a ride from my bosses friend.

Stone Van Timmeren, cuts the top of a wave during the first heat of the the Triple Crown surf tournament hosted at Ostional beach near Nosara, on March 10.

Upon arriving I saw something I haven’t seen in a while… other photographers!  There were three of them, all setting up big tri-pods.  Curious, I got talking with one guy who told I needed at least a 400mm lens to be able to properly shoot surfing… I hate when people tell me this, “You can’t shoot such and such, because you don’t have such and such.”  It happened for years shooting basketball at Carleton, and I more than made it work.

Christian Santamaria, carves through a wave during the third heat of the first day of the Triple Crown Surf contest held at Ostional beach on March 10. Points are still being tallied but those who have enough will advance to the second round on March 17.

By the numbers here’s the advantage: All the surf photographers were using 7D’s, whose sensor is slightly smaller than my 1D, this meant that a 400 on their cameras had a true focal length of something like 620mm.  The longest lens I have is a 135mm, I also have a 2x teleconverter, which doubles the focal length to 270mm.  On my 1D its true focal length, because of sensor size, is 320mm giving them twice the reach.  My solution was to wade into the water up to my waist further proving that you don’t ‘need’ a 400mm to shoot surfing.

Selena Moberly rides ahead of huge crashing wave during the third heat of the first day of the Triple Crown Surf contest hosted on March 10 at Ostional Beach near Nosara. The contest had about 55 contestants making it one of the biggest surf contests ever hosted in the area.

I got home in the early afternoon; exhausted I edited some pictures then fell into a deep sleep.  I woke up just in time to get on the shuttle bus headed up the hill to the 4th Annual Caricaco music festival hosted at the hotel Tierra Magnifica.  The set up was unreal, it looked like one of those shots of an after party location in Entourage, the OC or the Hills.  There were projectors with fancy light patterns, and open pool in front of the stage, sushi bar etc.  The eight bands that played were also excellent.  My favorite was one of the local acts called ‘Calle.’  They played ska and did a really good job of it.  The lead singer, who wore an Alexisonfire t-shirt, also happens to be the general practitioner in Nosara… Small town.

Psychedelic lights projected onto a wall at the side of the Tierra Magnifica Hotel in Nosara. The lights were part of a series of elaborate decorations at the 4th annual Caricaco Music festival on March 10.

As I said, the set-up was unreal…

On another much larger wall a live view of the concert is projected onto the side of Tierra Magnifica Hotel. Throughout Caricaco people were in and out of the pool as well.

SKASKASKASKASKASKA!

Nosara's ska band, Calle performs during the 4th annual Caricaco music festival. There were eight bands of varying genres.

Crazy fans…

A fan screams during a performance by the band 'Calle,' a ska band from the Nosara area during the Caricaco music festival at the Tierra Mignifica Hotel on March 10. Alejandro Gutierrez, Calle's lead singer, is also a medical doctor in Nosara.

And some fire dancing…

A fire dancer performs during the fourth annual Caricaco music festival, poolside at the Tierra Magnifica Hotel, held on March 10. You can see the full-moon in the middle of the fire circle.

It was capped off with fireworks before the last band, although I asked for the names and even offered digital prints they flat out refused and started making-out.  Bah.

A couple (name not given) watches a display of fireworks during the 4th annual Caricaco music festival held at the Tierra Magnifica Hotel on March 10.

By the time I got to sleep again it was close to 2am, although this time I wasn’t able to edit before bed, I was too tired.  The next morning I wanted to sleep but there is construction across the road from me and they start with power tools at 6am everyday and go until 7pm.  I was up so I started editing pictures and working on a video for the Voice of Nosara website, I’ve started doing more multimedia, its not something I’m good at or comfortable with yet, but I need to learn and the practice is good.

Sunday night I was looking forward to being able to relax again.  However, literally just after I finished editing photos from the night before and having decided to make dinner I received a text message from my boss saying the dump had caught fire and she was looking for a ride for us to get there.

We got there just as the sun went down, which made pictures fun.  I used my flash a bit, but in the pitch darkness it just ended up flooding the scene and destroying the drama in the pictures.  The Nosara volunteer fire dept. barely has functioning hoses much less a system of flood lights, however, in one area they were using the light of a pick-up truck to work by, I settled in there to shoot some silhouettes and actually came away with one picture I’m fond of.

A firefighter with the Nosara volunteer firefighters dismantles a fire hose by the light of a pick-up truck. At 12:30pm March 11 the firefighters responded to a call at the dump, after fighting the fire for seven and a half hours the Nicoya firefighters arrived. However, flares-ups began again and the fire continued to smoulder under the trash over the next few days. The Nosara fire department, which runs on donations and volunteers, says several of their hoses were damaged by shards of broken glass in the dump.

Monday was tying up lose ends.  I finished captioning pictures and re-edited a few and finished a multimedia piece on the fiestas.  Then Tuesday I returned to the article about the symphony, the interview now four days old it took a while to get into writing it, and then I finished a multimedia piece on Caricaco.

Yesterday after finishing everything off I decided to unwind a bit by going to the beach to read.  While there I spotted some locals climbing the trees.  Snapped a photo then went over to chat, they ended up offering me a coconut fresh off the tree, sooo good.

Victor Ovanado, sits a top a four metre high palm tree on Guiones beach on March 13. using his feet Ovanado kicked down ripe coconuts, which could be cracked by a machete. Once cut open they offer a nectar called, 'coconut water,' which as well as rehydrating a person is highly nutritious.

Today I’m treating like Sunday, as a day off.  Then starting tomorrow I wanna get a head start on an article I’m doing freelance, it’s a travel piece I hope to sell to Canadian media.  After that I have several events coming up and I’d like to be ahead of the game for once so I think I’ll contact the people involved in organizing them ahead of time.

Below are some links to the stories from the last couple of days including links to the multimedia pieces.

Caricaco music festival

Triple Crown Surf contest

The Fiestas

The dump fire

The screening of ‘El Fin’

Also the Voice of Nosara has started working with other Costa Rican papers, mostly online stuff.  We share stories that are relevant with them and they do likewise.  The idea is to create more web traffic.  One of my photos was used on elpais.cr and my preview about the Triple Crown Surf contest was just reposted to insidecostarica.com

So that’s it this week, coming up there’s a second round of the triple Crown Surf contest this Saturday.  Saturday night is a picture story about St. Patricks at the Black Sheep pub, the only Irish-style pub in Nosara and on the 20th fiestas come to Garza a town 10km away.

Paz siempre,

Adam


Into Nicaragua

Well, it has been a long time since I posted.  Mid February was a little slow I was working on a few different stories but not much too exciting happened.

Then the last week of February my girlfriend Yamina came to visit, we had a pretty excellent time here, lots of beach time and seaside drinks.  Then suddenly she was gone.  Although I didn’t really have time to miss her right away…

Some dweebs playing photographer at a restaurant we ate at, the guy on the right was hanging out a restaurant in a speedo, enough said.

There were long walks on the beach after sunset…

Yamina on a walk home shortly after sunset.

And a trip into the jungle on ziplines…

Some good form coming towards the end of the third line.

The guides were pretty awesome people.

The ride over to the start of the course was in the back of a truck, the guides were super fun and super cool.

Complete with a sarcastic sense of humour…

The first line of the course

Our last night was so romantic, they should make a movie.

Beachside campfire, weenie roast, sunset, box of wine oh and the moon.

The day after she left I had to go to Nicoya, the capital of the province Nosara is in.  The paper wanted some stock photos of the of the members of town council there for future stories about their decisions.  It was nice and easy, I was also asked to shoot some stock pics of key places in the city.

In Nicoya the main Catholic church at night with a parishioner on her way to the alter. The framing in this photo isn't what I wanted, I saw the picture just as it was happening and had to race to pull my camera outta my bag, I shot this then took a step to the right to re-frame but she had taken her seat already. It drives me a little nuts. Its a weak excuse but I like the picture enough despite the error to include it.

The next morning rather than going back to Nosara I had to leave the country because my visa had expired.   When you enter Costa Rica you’re supposed to get a visa good for 90 days, however, mine was only good for 40 days, although I’m not sure why I think it was because I didn’t have a return flight booked.

So I left Nicoya at 6am for Liberia in northern Costa Rica then caught another bus to the border town of Peñas Blancas.  I walked across the border and hit two snags: first I got screwed changing money, I changed $50 and the guy that did it took a $20 commission, then I left Costa Rica, at the Nicaraguan immigration booth I was dealing with my visa, just before we were finished the border guard became somewhat sketchy and quiet and told me I need to pay extra because my passport was dirty.  While it is true there’s a coffee stain on it, that hasn’t been an issue for Canadian, American, Costa Rican or Peruvian authorities, this ass was soliciting a bribe.  So I made him repeat himself then said I didn’t understand and asked him to explain exactly what he needed.  It’s a technique I used in Cambodia to minimize or limit bribes required for border officials, making them state loudly and clearly, “I want you to pay me $X because your passport is dirty.”  The idea being, the guard won’t want to be overheard by superiors or coworkers, the tactic worked and he growled at me, stamped my passport and I was on my way having only paid the prerequisite $12 for a tourist visa.

I got into the town near by and looked for a bus, I found a brightly coloured school bus headed to the capital, I hopped on board and we pulled out.  The town of Peñas Blancas on the Nicaraguan side was like the wild west meets shanty town, people selling stolen watches, wallets and homemade food.

The bus dropped me off on the side of a highway about a kilometer from the hostel I was staying at.  The hostel was located in the village of Poste Rojo, about 10km outside of the larger town of Granada.

One of the more conservative "chicken buses" in Nicaragua, so named because people on occasion bring on chickens.

Poste Rojo is a series of tree houses in the jungle.  They rent small cabinas, private rooms, dormitory beds and hammocks, the latter was only $4 a night so naturaly that’s what I took.

Sunset from the reception area of Poste Rojo Hostel.

Some of the areas were accessible via bridge.

The suspension bridge at Poste Rojo Hostel.

My bed…

Can you imagine anything more relaxing? Nah me neither.

I slept well enough.  In the mornings though between the sun, Howler Monkeys and Cicadas it was hard to sleep in past 7am.   The sound made by thousands of Cicadas during the day is completely deafening and I had a mild headache by the end of most days, thankfully at night they go quiet.

A big spider with a Cicada it caught. The spider lived in the hole above the light, after catching and killing the Cicada it took it five minutes to maneuver the body into the crevice. Nature is gross but cool.

The day after I arrived was free rum night, yes all you can drink free rum…  Everyone seemed to either black out, vomit or both… I didn’t though, I know how to drink without making an ass of myself.  The party included a cow costume with a hole in the udder to feed rum out of and a visit by the Nicaraguan police…  The cops, however, were dissuaded from doing anything when the hostel owner offered them beer and rum and a pack of cigarettes, they then joined the party.  We took turns wearing their helmet and holding their shotgun for photos, then the cops sorta joined the party for a little while, I’m still not sure what to think about this.

My last full day in Nicaragua I joined a few other backpackers, two girls from Tilsonburg a guy from Germany, a guy from Sweden and a Nicaraguan-born Canadian, headed to a dormant volcano.  The volcano, now called Laguna Apoyo has become a huge lake and is one of the deepest lakes in all of Central America.  The water was beautiful, bath-tub warm and didn’t have salt!  After a month and a half of the surf and salty pacific, a fresh water lake was amazing.

Yeah that's me standing in a volcano...

The walk down and up the crater was killer though…

Some of the people I met at the hostel. The lake was at the bottom of the volcanic crater a full 40 minutes walking uphill to get out, needless to say we were a little exhausted.

The next morning I headed back on what became one of the most epic single day treks of my life.  By the numbers: it was eleven hours, six cities, five buses, 2 countries and about $5.  I also had trouble at the border, again, the Costa Ricans wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a copy of onward travel.  I explained I only had a confirmation number for an electronic plane ticket, I couldn’t find an internet café to print out the number so instead I purchased a bus ticket from San Jose to Managua good for one year and then they let me in.  I’ll need to leave again in three months to renew my visa anyway, so now at least I have a ticket direct from San Jose to Managua, next time I go I’ll bring a copy of my itinerary with me.

Interesting point too about Nicaraguan buses, they’re recycled school busses from North America, the one I rode from Poste Rojo to a town near the border actually said the words “Canadian Bluebird” in it and the emergency exit signs were in French and English (neither of which is widely spoken in Nicaragua).  I wondered if maybe I’d been on the bus before, perhaps headed to a field trip as a young kid?

A strange piece of home in a a faraway land... The photo was taken on my cellphone though because I didn't feel comfortable pulling out a $4000 camera setup on the crowded bus...

When I got back to Nosara I had dreams of a quiet beer and Skype with the girlfriend, however, that was not to be.  My boss and the other reporter were at the office.  Voice of Nosara has set up something big in August and she wanted to celebrate, so we got a bottle of Glenfidditch and went to a bar in town, bought some pizza and got a little silly.

This morning it was back to work, preparing an article about an upcoming surf competition and looking into some confusing rules relating to the Nosara airport terminal.

I promise I will try to update more often.

For now though that’s it.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich


The Red Cross and fire

I spent the last Thursday to Sunday with the Red Cross unit here in Nosara.  Here is some key background about healthcare in Nosara: Healthcare in Costa Rica is universal, provided by the state.  Doctors and hospital services are allocated based on population size and density.  In Nosara, a town with a fluctuating population (due to tourism) health service are few.  The Red Cross (a non-governmental organization) set up to provide basic, essential, paramedic and emergency services.  However, due to the lack of adequate healthcare in the region they have slowly become the main providers of health services in Nosara and surrounding areas.  They cover everything from pregnancy, injuries, illness, even hospice services.  The government only reimburses the Red Cross for emergency services and the organization itself survives on donations and volunteers.  As a result, the Red Cross in Nosara has had to cut back on non-essential services in recent years.  The people of Nosara put the blame on the Red Cross, in reality the government has failed to provide adequate healthcare to the people of Nosara and are content to let the Red Cross shoulder their blame.

 

Victor Hugo, a full-time paramedic, answers the phone, this time its not an emergency but someone with the flu. Due to a lack of proper healthcare services in the Nosara region locals often turn to the Red Cross for minor health concerns. Despite the fact that it costs them money, money the state won't pay back, the Red Cross answers every call as if its an emergency,

 

Thursday: A simple affair, I followed Victor Hugo, a full-time paramedic, as he went about his evening shift.  Thursday’s are typically slow. He dealt with a dog bite and a sick infant then made dinner and relaxed.

 

Victor Hugo, one of three full-time paramedics at the Nosara Red Cross cleans and dresses a dog bite in the Santa Marta neighbourhood of Nosara. Although rabies has been eliminated from Costa Rica, dog bites are a major issue in the country infections can develop after.

 

 

Following the dog bite, Victor Hugo fills out an emergency report in his ambulance. Although the Red Cross operates independent of the Costa Rican state, the state health insurance provider will reimburse the Red Cross for emergency services. This is part of the states national healthcare strategy, these forms are vital for receiving reimbursement from the state and thus maintaining Red Cross operations.

 

 

After a long day Victor hugo eats dinner in the Red Cross office in Nosara. Shifts can be 8-12 hours and the office is open 24 hours a day, staff and volunteers nap in the dormitory's just to the left of Hugo. Further left, volunteers review notes from the days board of directors meeting before sending them to the Red Cross central office in San Jose for processing.

 

Friday: A quiet day for most of it.  In the evening I hoped in the back of a local’s SUV with Hugo.  The Red Cross has limited ambulances and on Friday they were all out (one was in repair, two were making trips to the nearest hospital, 60km away and the fourth was on a call).  The SUV took us to a house in Santa Marta, a neighborhood outside Nosara, inside a family’s matriarch was dying of emphysema.  Hugo told me after she had a week, maybe less.  He hooked her up to an oxygen tank, explained its use to the family and left.  I didn’t shoot a single frame, something about it seemed wrong, as there were 15 members of the family standing around me watching.  Although I had permission to take Hugo’s picture, I did not have the matriarch’s permission, I chose to respect her privacy.

 

Ilse Lopez Juárez, the office administrator takes a break from filing receipts and accounting to clean and dress a wound from a motorcycle accident. The staff at the Red Cross (three full-time paramedics, one administrator and 18 volunteers) is severely over worked due to a lack of political interest in extending healthcare services to Nosara.

 

Saturday: Another slow day, the crew at the office busied themselves with maintenance and cleaning.  At dusk I followed David Perez Montiel, a volunteer paramedic, to the Nosara soccer field.  The Red Cross sponsor’s a kids soccer team as part of a community outreach effort, he brought pop to give out to the kids at the end of the game.   That night the Red Cross had six different calls and had to make two trips to the hospital in Nicoya, 60km away.

 

Gustavo 'Pelon' Díaz, a volunteer driver and mechanic washes down an ambulance. Volunteers have their uniforms paid for and are given free meals while on shift. Despite that, Díaz says he volunteers to give back to the community and because he likes the people he works with.

 

 

Carlos Villalobos Espinoza (in red), president of the red Cross committee in Nosara fills out an emergency report, while volunteer paramedic Gabriel Chavarria Acevedo looks on holding supplies. In the room, volunteer paramedic David Perez Montiel attends to a patient with epilepsy. The patient was later transferred from his home in Nosara to the Nicoya hospital, 60km, away for treatment.

 

Sunday Morning: I was offered breakfast, consisting of fried pork and fried cheese in a tortilla, as well as a trip home to Guiones beach in the ambulance.  On our way back, as we rounded the second to last corner, the road was filled with police and firefighters.  I realized this was the fire my boss had texted me about earlier that morning.  Because there hadn’t been any injuries the Red Cross wasn’t called, I asked them to stop and I hopped out and started shooting.  Unfortunately, I missed the flames, which had been doused by 8-8:30, I arrived at 10:30 and was only able to catch firefighters dousing hotspots.

 

Firefighters from Nicoya work to douse a few remaining hots sports at a fire just outside of Nosara. Volunteer firefighters from Nosara had the blaze 80% under control by the time 'professionals' arrived from Nicoya (60km away). The cause of the fire remains unknown, one volunteer freighter speculated that a power line fell on dry leaves while the property owner blamed arsonists.

 

This one was my favourite because of the faces.

 

Firefighters from Nicoya work to douse a few remaining hots sports at a fire just outside of Nosara. Volunteer firefighters from Nosara had the blaze 80% under control by the time 'professionals' arrived from Nicoya (60km away). The cause of the fire remains unknown, one volunteer freighter speculated that a power line fell on dry leaves while the property owner blamed arsonists.

 

I also saw the paper copy for this month; I have about 90% of the photo credits in it… Now its back to work.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Days of sun and boredom

The last couple of days have been real slow, I didn’t shoot anything on the 30th.  However, all of that changes today, I’m headed out of the office for four days and living with the local Red Cross unit until Sunday.

In Costa Rica, there is universal access to health care, although the state covers most healthcare costs and processes, paramedic work is carried out by the Red Cross then billed to the state insurance provider.  In Nosara there is an issue though, many of the locals understand that the Red Cross provides paramedic services, however, when they call sometimes there’s no answer…  The reason is because all emergency services are routed through the 911 system here, which is based out of San Jose, the number most people call, is the administrative office of the Red Cross in Nosara.

Really its an issue of popular misconception… why call 911 in San Jose, when the Red Cross is in Nosara?  Except the number for the Red Cross is their administrative line…  So the idea of this piece will be to dispel some popular myths about the Red Cross and hopefully open up the organization to people here.

For me it’s an opportunity for a hell of a picture story, maybe some multimedia too.  The access is pretty incredible, as the Red Cross station is staffed 24 hours, I’ll be with them the entire time and I’ll likely be following them on calls.

In the interim here are some photos for yesterday… I camped out at the edge of the beach, read a lot and shot some random stuff and more sunsets…

A man wades ashore with his fishing net empty after an unsuccessful attempt, while birds, I think a type of Heron? continue to look for fish. Everyday right before dusk the edges of the beach are filled with locals fishing.

Those birds were huge… but they weren’t the only ones.

A.... I think they're some kind of Turkey Vulture? Circles over the ocean looking for fish

The moon too is consistently visible in the sky from about 2pm on.  Its kinda cool to see them both there as the sun and the moon control the tides and thus in a way, beach life.

The moon, clearly visible at about 4pm.

Low tide reveals these sea rocks everywhere, worn and shaped by the ocean into weird shapes.  In the pools left by the ebb tide there are tiny crabs and minnows.  I picked up a seashell thinking it looked nice… it turned out there was a hermit inside.

A man makes his way across the beach shortly before dusk, in front of him is a field of sea rocks which will be covered by the tide in about an hour.

Then the sun started to set in earnest, so I made my way back…

An elderly couple watches the sun set in some beach chairs they brought out.

And another…

a man standing in the shallows watches as the sun dips below the horizon.

***The following contains camera talk, follow the hyperlinks to better understand***

I recently watched a PBS documentary on Ansel Adams, perhaps one of the most famous fine art photographers in history.  He belonged to an informal group of photographers (painters have ‘movements’ photographers have ‘clubs’) called ‘the f/64 club.’  So named because they would shoot landscapes at f/64, which means the aperture of the lens is super small, which means the depth of field is huge which means the area in focus is huge.  Back then too (the 20’s) film (or rather glass plates) had really low light sensitivty, well below what we would call ISO 50…  Until now I’ve never had a lens combo that lets me shoot at f/64, they’ve always capped out at f/22.  However, the 135 and the 2x extender make this possible.  So just after the sun went below the horizon I found a rock, stabled the camera on it, set it to ISO 50 (the lowest I can go), f/64 and a 30 second exposure.  The low light sensitivity meant really smooth tones, the slow shutter speed turned the ocean to fluff and the narrow aperture made everything sharp enough.

A rock sits in the surf just after sunset. I can't wait until my medium format gets here, I have some Ilford Pan F plus (50 ISO) to use...

Then I decide to cast myself in the photo.  I set the timer and ran in.  The distance from camera to rock was about 75-80m so it took me  just a little more than the 10 second timer to run in, however, because of the 30 second exposure I still had time.  Looking at this photo though, I think it too should be in black and white…

Nice end to the day

Well thats it.  My boss will be here in about an hour, then I’m off to Nosara.  I intend to post this coming Sunday, which I’m sure will be a  long night of editing…

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


Cowboys and surfers

This week has been a little hectic, compared with the previous one at least.  It’s production week for the paper meaning decisions about cover, content selection and layout need to be made.  I’ve worked production at a paper before, however, the charlatan is a weekly publication, the voice of nosara publishes once a month.  Which means content relevance is perhaps the most challenging aspect, since the issue will sit on stands for a month, the stories and pictures inside need to be relevant for the whole month.

So on Wednesday I was asked to go to a hotel in town to get a photo of liquor for a story on the changing liquor laws here.  Apparently there are a limited number licenses available depending on community size, most of those licenses have already been bought up at prices as low as $6, the owners of those licenses in many cases rent them out for as much as $3000 a month, that’s a hell of business plan.  Most license owners purchased theirs as far back as the 30’s and have held on, clearly some updates to the law are needed.

The folks at the hotel agreed to make me a cocktail so I could photograph it.  I was supposed to keep logos and faces out so as not to implicate the hotel as one of the abusers of the liquor licenses… the photos were kind of boring but the drink was on the house, so I lingered by their pool and sipped it after.  Not too bad.

 

Sometimes its hard to do what I do...

Thursday was an equally quiet day; all I did was work on a few police briefs for the printed copy then hit the beach.  We managed to figure out that the suspected thief captured in Nosara the other week had been released on his own recognizance pending a trial date.  The police seem to have a case against him although the residents are still paranoid.  After that I worked on another brief about a car fire from a week ago, seems a battery shorted and the hood caught on fire, otherwise no major issue.

That evening I decided to go to the beach to read.  I ended spending more time photographing surfers in the fading light, I got a few nice ones…

 

This pretty much defined the evening...

As I said.. less reading more photography…

 

Surf instructors hit the waves at sunset because its after work and they have free time, the birds hit the waves for the fish.

Sunsets here are beautiful, though I think I’ve stated this before.

 

A surfer watches the sun set, they paddle out and sit and wait for waves to come. The light is beautiful...

 

Though it looks like there’s no waves they show up.  One minute the ocean would be calm as can be, then suddenly it would swell and there would be waves.

 

A surfer paddling to catch the front of a wave. The trick is to get just ahead of a wave before it breaks and quickly stand up.

This time I used the 5D, shooting at 6400 ISO gives you a lot more more leeway, just fewer fps for catching peak action.

 

This guy was good, he would ride the wave until it finished then lower himself back onto the board to paddle out again. No crashes, no falls.

Finally the sun hit the horizon and everyone just kind of stopped to watch it.

 

Two seagulls fly low looking for fish while a surfer waiting for a wave watches the sun dip below the horizon...

Friday was the start of two busy days…  First I was given a driving lesson on the quad and access to the keys.  It was maybe the third time in my life I’d driven a quad and the first time I’d driven a manual transmission vehicle.  The driving lesson was mostly my boss groaning every time the quad lurched as I tried to change gears…

 

Me and my new ride. The travel scarf is needed to keep from swallowing a dustball, as are the glasses and the helmet well safety first.

The reason I needed access to the quad was to get to Nosara for the fiestas of Nosara, a three-day rodeo and festival on the edge of town.  The event opened on Friday evening, it was part rodeo, carnival, running with the bulls and community dance.

 

A food vendor adds fuel to his cooking fire at the Nosara rodeo. There were more than 10 different places to eat mostly serving refried meats.

Safety precautions were not quite what they would have been in Canada, spectators are allowed right up to the fence, they can even sit on it.

 

A young rodeo fan watches the introductions before the start of the first rodeo game.

 

There was a big arena set up in a field outside of town; the rodeo games began with an introduction of the rodeo riders, complete with a prayer.  Then they released the first rider, after he was thrown the real games began… Drunk locals and tourists then would taunt the bull until he charged them, then they try to get out of the way…  I personally couldn’t believe it, in Canada the Calgary Stampede takes flack every year for potential animal abuse, in Costa Rica participants take their lives in their hands without even signing a waiver…

 

A festival participant tries to avoid a charging bull. Had I wanted to, I probably could have joined in I won't lie though I was a little nervous.

Although I didn’t get in the ring I did spend most of the time sitting on the fence, at one point a bull charged and in my rush to get back over my sandal caught the edge of the fence and I fell about 5 feet.  I din’t break any equipment or bones and I landed on the right side side of the fence.

 

A rider is tossed from a bull while festival participants rush in to distract and draw the attention of the bull, no one was hurt. To give you an idea of how close you can get to the action, this was shot with a 24mm on a full frame camera with little cropping. A minute later that bull charged the fence I was sitting on.

Of course I might have been overreacting… I mean if drunk, barefoot tourists can get in the ring without spilling their beers, I probably would have been ok.

 

A tourist protects himself and his beer from a charging bull. There were several tourists who participated in the rodeo games most of them were wasted.

Friday was a late affair; the event started at 8pm and went until about 2am.  I left around 12:45, because after 12 the rodeo was finished, the sober people left and the dance began.  I was tired and drove home to edit.  Having never shot a Rodeo before, and having to compete with some truly shitty lighting I somehow shot just over 1200 frames, I have never shot that many in a single night.  I trimmed them to a further 76 then finally down to 15 for use on the voice of nosara’s facebook page, it was about 3am when I finally got to bed.  Apparently they’ve set aside two pages in the paper as well, so some should make it in there as a pictorial story.

Saturday was thus a slow start, however, after lunch it was back on the quad to head to the second event called the Tope (pronounced toe-pay).  The Tope is basically a big lunch and party, complete with some cowboy skills competitions.  Since I’m missing the all-star game in Ottawa, this is the best I could do…

 

Cowboys arrive on horseback to the Tope, a big day of eating, drinking during the fiestas of Nosara on January 28.

 

It was brutally hot, I’m not sure how people could drink beer and whiskey for 3 straight hours in that heat and still ride home…

 

A young boy rests on bags of horse feed. Although the Tope was held in the shade, the day was immensely hot.

 

I tried some shooting from the hip, there’s an old photography adage, “F/8 and be there,” it means closing your aperture enough to increase your depth of field, allowing you to shoot without have to worry too much where your focus is.  In this case it let me catch this without having to be obvious about it.

 

Friends great each other near the beer truck at the Tope. The day was a relaxed feast and social event.

 

And of course there were lots of horses.  I spent some time on a farm in Uruguay in 2007 which cultivated a real appr