C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography: Blog https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog en-us (C) C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography [email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Tue, 19 Sep 2023 23:11:00 GMT Tue, 19 Sep 2023 23:11:00 GMT https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/img/s/v-12/u943200094-o701726236-50.jpg C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography: Blog https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog 120 120 A Night in Mexico https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/9/a-night-in-mexico A Night in Mexico is becoming a much anticipated event as part of the Culture Days celebration in High River. A Night in Mexico

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) celebration fine art photography The Venue https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/9/a-night-in-mexico Tue, 19 Sep 2023 23:08:37 GMT
High River Garden Tour 2023 - Wildernest https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/8/high-river-garden-tour-2023---wildernest Join me for a visit to the Canadian Shield on the prairie with a bit of the Rocky Mountains mixed in.




[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens high river high river garden tour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/8/high-river-garden-tour-2023---wildernest Thu, 31 Aug 2023 21:08:29 GMT
High River Garden Tour - Corns_Leitch Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/8/high-river-garden-tour---corns_leitch-garden Join me on a walk through this historic home's garden which was begun in 1929 and recovered in 2013 to what it is today. Simply splendid!

The Corns_Leitch Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens High River Garden tour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/8/high-river-garden-tour---corns_leitch-garden Tue, 22 Aug 2023 20:39:29 GMT
High River Garden Tour - Powys-Libbe & Lavoie Gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/8/high-river-garden-tour---powys-libbe-lavoie-gardens Good neighbours are a blessing - this quote sums up a couple of the gardens in the tour this year and definitely the Powys_Libbes and Lavoies.

The Powys-Libbe & Lavoie Gardens

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers garden tour gardens High River https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/8/high-river-garden-tour---powys-libbe-lavoie-gardens Fri, 11 Aug 2023 16:12:25 GMT
Hollyhock Lane - High River, AB https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/7/hollyhock-lane---high-river-ab You won't find it on a map but it is worth looking for. Join me on a visit to Hollyhock Lane. Hollyhock Lane

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardening gardens guerilla hollyhocks https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2023/7/hollyhock-lane---high-river-ab Thu, 20 Jul 2023 21:12:15 GMT
Day of the Dead https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/11/day-of-the-dead I was invited to photograph the various activities taking place at the Highwood Memorial Centre in celebration of the Day of the Dead. What a wonderful learning experience but perhaps none more so than that of the altar. I have tried to share what I have learned so far about the traditions surrounding the creation of the altar. I hope you enjoy it too. Day of the Dead

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful Day of the Dead fine art photography https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/11/day-of-the-dead Sat, 05 Nov 2022 04:50:24 GMT
Hot Glass for Your Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/8/hot-glass-for-your-garden I get frustrated with social media sometimes but when you catch a tidbit of news that sparks your interest all the frustrations are forgotten. That's how I felt when I saw a post from a nearby garden centre. The story is in the blog so keep reading. Hot Glass

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/8/hot-glass-for-your-garden Thu, 01 Sep 2022 05:08:38 GMT
Ten Gardens - One Day https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/8/ten-gardens---one-day The second annual garden tour took place on July 9th. Ten gardens were available for the public to visit and enjoy. This is a recap of what you saw - if you attended and what you missed - if you were not able to attend.

Ten Gardens - One Day

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/8/ten-gardens---one-day Mon, 15 Aug 2022 21:21:16 GMT
U of L Coutts Centre - Artist in Residence Final Day https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/u-of-l-coutts-centre---artist-in-residence-final-day How does time move so fast? If I were doing house chores I certainly don't think they would speed by as fast as they did for those three days. Coutts Centre for Western Heritage

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful coutts centre for western heritage fine art photography flowers gardens uofl https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/u-of-l-coutts-centre---artist-in-residence-final-day Sun, 24 Jul 2022 18:16:26 GMT
The McCracken Garden - June 30, 2022 https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/the-mccracken-garden---june-30-2022 I really do love to walk around people's gardens. Find new plants, and ideas and learn about their garden philosophy.

Mel McCracken's Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/the-mccracken-garden---june-30-2022 Tue, 19 Jul 2022 03:18:16 GMT
U of L Coutts Centre - Artist in Residence Continued https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/u-of-l-coutts-centre---artist-in-residence-continued It's interesting what triggers our memories but staying in the home was like visiting my grandparent's house. Such fond memories.

U of L Coutts Centre

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/u-of-l-coutts-centre---artist-in-residence-continued Sun, 17 Jul 2022 20:22:24 GMT
U of L Coutts Centre - Artist in Residence - June 26 - 29, 2022 https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/coutts-centre-for-western-heritage---artist-in-residence---june-26---29-2022 What a wonderful opportunity - to stay at the property, in the Coutt's homestead, all by myself, for three days. Oh my! What a treat.

Coutts Centre for Western Heritage

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful coutts centre for western heritage fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/coutts-centre-for-western-heritage---artist-in-residence---june-26---29-2022 Fri, 15 Jul 2022 16:20:08 GMT
U of L Coutts Centre - June 22 https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/u-of-l-coutts-centre---june-22 The Lupine were insane with their rainbow of colours! Join me in a walk-about to enjoy these beauties. The Coutts Centre

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/7/u-of-l-coutts-centre---june-22 Tue, 05 Jul 2022 16:22:43 GMT
U of L Coutts Centre - June 9th https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/6/u-of-l-coutts-centre---june-9th Join me on my fifth visit to the gardens of the Coutts Centre as the blossoms welcome the birds and the bees to this wonderful place.

Coutts Centre for Western Heritage

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/6/u-of-l-coutts-centre---june-9th Sun, 12 Jun 2022 03:23:57 GMT
U of L Coutts Centre - May 26th https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/u-of-l-coutts-centre---may-26th My third visit to the centre this year and I am energized by the thought of coming for my next visit. UofL Coutts Centre for Western Heritage

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens u of l coutts centre https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/u-of-l-coutts-centre---may-26th Tue, 31 May 2022 00:52:54 GMT
Mother's Day Garden Tour - Day Two https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/mothers-day-garden-tour---day-two  Day Two of our garden tour weekend in Victoria. The rain stayed away, for the most part. The only rain we had was while we were driving - how's that for hospitality?

Mother's Day Musical Garden Tour - Day Two

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/mothers-day-garden-tour---day-two Sat, 21 May 2022 04:37:53 GMT
UofL Coutts Centre for Western Heritage - May 16th https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/uofl-coutts-centre-for-western-heritage---may-16th In keeping with a promise to myself to visit the grounds of the Coutts Centre every two weeks and weekly if needed this is the second visit for me in 2022. Looking forward to the rest! The Coutts Centre for Western Heritage

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens uofl coutts centre for western heritage https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/uofl-coutts-centre-for-western-heritage---may-16th Thu, 19 May 2022 03:36:58 GMT
Morther's Day Garden Tour, Victoria BC Day One https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/morthers-day-garden-tour-victoria-bc-day-one From the moment I first heard the Victoria Conservatory of Music hosted a Mother's Day Garden Tour I began planning my visit. I talked a couple of friends into joining me - it wasn't hard after all no one had been much of anywhere for a couple of years!

The date arrived and we dusted off our suitcases and headed out. What a wonderful weekend!

Thank you, Val and Sandy, for joining me and thank you Nancy for chauffeuring us around the city - you are indeed a rock star!

Mother's Day Musical Garden Tour

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens mother's day garden tour victoria conservatory of music https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/5/morthers-day-garden-tour-victoria-bc-day-one Fri, 13 May 2022 04:51:47 GMT
Handmade Memories https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/3/handmade-memories I was given the opportunity to share in a project from the heart and It turned into a special memory for me. Handmade Memories

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography projects special https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2022/3/handmade-memories Thu, 31 Mar 2022 03:52:58 GMT
High River Garden Tour 2021 - The Moshenko Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/9/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-moshenko-garden Join this tour of another of the gardens visited during the High River Garden Tour 2021.

I was kind of taken by surprise by this highly thought out, totally unique garden. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The Moshenko Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens high river garden tour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/9/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-moshenko-garden Fri, 10 Sep 2021 03:11:23 GMT
High River Garden Tour 2021 - The Chaput Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-chaput-garden This garden is not particularly easy to find. While it's easy enough if you know the address, you are unlikely to just happen to drive by it as it's located on a quiet road and is tucked into a corner lot with mature trees adding to its privacy. It's kind of a shame, really, that more people don't happen by to appreciate the special place that it is.

The Chaput Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens high river garden tour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-chaput-garden Mon, 23 Aug 2021 17:28:20 GMT
High River Garden Tour 2021 - The Miller Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-miller-garden Join me for another tour of the gardens of the High River Garden Tour 2021. This time we will enjoy the wonderful garden of Sandy Miller. As a full-time nurse, Sandy relaxes and rejuvenates in her garden. That is when she isn't planning, planting, dead-heading, pruning and otherwise tending to this wonderful space.

The Miller Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens high river garden tour 2021 https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-miller-garden Sat, 21 Aug 2021 01:18:33 GMT
High River Garden Tour 2021 - The VanDonzel Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour---the-vandonzel-garden They brought their Dutch heritage with them and created a wonderful garden here in High River.

It's interesting, I had never been to their home before joining the garden tour committee then in a very short time I came to feel welcomed and comfortable in their lovely yard. 

Join me on a visit to Frank and Joanne VanDonzel's wonderful garden.

The VanDonzel Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers Garden gardens High River Tour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour---the-vandonzel-garden Tue, 10 Aug 2021 14:30:00 GMT
High River Garden Tour 2021 - The Maccoy Garden, Sheppard Family Park https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-maccoy-garden-sheppard-family-park I was terribly impressed by the efforts that have gone into rebuilding the gardens of Ruth Maccoy. Devastated by the flood with only the peonies surviving this garden has been lovingly rebuilt to replicate what one would expect to see in a "cottage garden". I am sure Ruth would be pleased with the result.

High River Garden Tour

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens sheppard family park https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/8/high-river-garden-tour-2021---the-maccoy-garden-sheppard-family-park Tue, 03 Aug 2021 15:00:00 GMT
High River Grden Tour 2021 - The Byers Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/7/high-river-grden-tour-2021---the-byers-garden I was so glad to hear there was a garden tour planned for this year. It was something I thought would be a wonderful thing for the town and after last summer's shutdown, the timing was wonderful. Of course, considerations had to be made in the planning stages because no one knew what the Covid restrictions would be so decisions were made to accommodate the regulations that were in place at the time of planning.


With the cooperation of the attendees, the volunteers, the gardeners and Mother Nature, the event was pulled off with very few hitches.


Thanks again to all the gardeners for allowing me early access to photograph.

The Byers' Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/7/high-river-grden-tour-2021---the-byers-garden Sun, 25 Jul 2021 19:44:35 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Audrey Orosz https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/7/in-the-artists-studio-with-audrey-orosz I met Audrey a few years ago and immediately became a fan of her work. Being a frustrated watercolourist at one point in my life I appreciate what it takes to work in that medium and believe me, she works well in it.

In The Artist's Studio


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) art artist colourful fine art photography high river art society watercolour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/7/in-the-artists-studio-with-audrey-orosz Wed, 21 Jul 2021 03:38:18 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Jane Russell https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/7/in-the-artists-studio-with-jane-russell In this edition, we will visit the office turned studio of graphic designer turned artist of Jane Russell. An artist of many colours and mediums.

In the Artist's Studio With Jane Russell

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) artist colourful fine art photography Highwood Gallery and Gifts pastels https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/7/in-the-artists-studio-with-jane-russell Tue, 06 Jul 2021 03:30:24 GMT
A Visit With an American Dipper https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/6/a-visit-with-an-american-dipper I travelled to Waterton to enjoy the wildflowers but the highlight turned out to be an hour-long visit with a Dipper and chick.

American Dipper

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) american dipper fine art photography https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/6/a-visit-with-an-american-dipper Tue, 22 Jun 2021 04:22:46 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Fia Bruinsma https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-fia-bruinsma I had the distinct pleasure to visit Fia Bruinsma's studio this time which was very much a departure from what I am used to. Fia is a silversmith & jewelry artist and her tools are quite different from the ones I usually see. Check out this Spark page to learn about the woman and her craft.

In the Artist's Studio With Fia Bruinsma

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) artist fine art photography jewelry https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-fia-bruinsma Sun, 30 May 2021 21:08:32 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The U of L Coutts Centre, Nanton AB https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-u-of-l-coutts-centre I was finally able to visit the gardens for a Spring photoshoot! We decided to make the drive into more of a road trip but the main event was the gardens. It All Began in a Garden - U of L Coutts Centre for Western Heritage

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful Coutts Centre for Western Heritage fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-u-of-l-coutts-centre Tue, 18 May 2021 23:17:18 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The Glendale Garden at HCP, Victoria BC https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-glendale-garden-at-hcp-victoria-bc Please join me in a walk through this "not to be missed" garden. After years of visiting Victoria, I was finally introduced to this lovely garden. I highly recommend it - if you are visiting the area.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) bonsai fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-glendale-garden-at-hcp-victoria-bc Sat, 08 May 2021 21:00:00 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Sue Stegmeier https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-sue-stegmeier Sue Stegmeier is a long-time resident of High River and was known locally as the driving force behind the Literacy for Life program in town, now retired. If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Sue then I am very pleased to introduce you, in this blog.

In the Artist's Studio With - Sue Stegmeier

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) art artist colourful fine art photography pencil crayon artist wannabe clown https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-sue-stegmeier Sat, 01 May 2021 23:32:43 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Dunedin Botanical Garden, Dunedin NZ https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/it-all-began-in-a-garden---dunedin-botanical-garden-dunedin-nz As we move ever closer to Spring I am coming nearer to running out of gardens to visit with you. I have been offered a visit to a "Mountain Bluebird Trail" which I am very excited about. I'll change my focus for these blogs to nature and local cultural events. But for now I have a few more gardens to visit with you.

This time let's go back to New Zealand and the Dunedin Botanical Garden, in Dunedin on the South Island.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful Dunedin Botanical Garden fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/it-all-began-in-a-garden---dunedin-botanical-garden-dunedin-nz Thu, 29 Apr 2021 15:00:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Libbie d'Esterre, High River AB https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/it-all-began-in-a-garden---libbie-desterre-high-river-ab Soon, soon winter will certainly release its grip. Sunshine and raindrops will welcome new growth, we will walk in the grass and dig in the soil and our senses will be treated to the sights and scents in the garden.

Soon, but not quite yet. Until then join me on another virtual garden visit. It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/it-all-began-in-a-garden---libbie-desterre-high-river-ab Thu, 22 Apr 2021 15:15:00 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Sandy Evans https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/in-the-artists-studio-with-sandy-evans Join me as I visit another of High River's artists. Sandy Evans has been creating pieces of whimsy and fun for about 6 years now, ever since she took her first watercolour course she has been evolving and improving as an artist.

In the Artist's Studio With Sandy Evans

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art artist colourful fine art photography highwood gallery and gifts https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/in-the-artists-studio-with-sandy-evans Sun, 18 Apr 2021 15:00:00 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Marg Smith of Lavender Art https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/in-the-artists-studio-with-marg-smith-of-lavender-art From garden visit to artist's studio and back again.

This time we are revisiting the studio of an very accomplished oil painter who can't be slotted into one genre. She paints what she sees, what speaks to her and asks her to put their likeness to canvas.

In the Artist's Studio with Marg Smith

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) alberta artists art artisans of the highwood gallery & gifts artist colourful fine art photography foothills arts gallery&gift https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/4/in-the-artists-studio-with-marg-smith-of-lavender-art Mon, 12 Apr 2021 15:00:00 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Marianne Aspinall https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/in-the-artists-studio-with-marianne-aspinall I am, once again, taking a departure from my virtual garden walks to visit an artist in her studio. This time I would like to introduce you to Marianne Aspinall, acrylic and pastel artist.

I first met Marianne when her husband Ray began selling his woodworking pieces at a local arts and crafts store. It was after Ray joined the ranks of artisans at Highwood Gallery & Gifts that I learned Marianne was an artist as well.

In The Artist's Studio With Marianne Aspinall

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art artist colourful fine art photography https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/in-the-artists-studio-with-marianne-aspinall Mon, 29 Mar 2021 18:45:41 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The Bellagio Casino, Las Vegas NV https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-bellagio-casino-las-vegas-nv This is not a location I ever expected to visit let alone return to many times over the years. Since discovering this lovely oasis in the midst of the Las Vegas hustle and bustle I visit it whenever visiting the city that never sleeps.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) acrylics colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-bellagio-casino-las-vegas-nv Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:29:15 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The UIV Milner Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-uiv-milner-garden Join me on another virtual garden visit.

It All Began in a Garden - UIV Milner Gardens

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-uiv-milner-garden Fri, 12 Mar 2021 16:00:00 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Joyce Brown https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/in-the-artists-studio-with-joyce-brown I'm taking a bit of a departure from my usual virtual garden walks today.

I have been a member of a group of artist's who sell their work out of Highwood Gallery & Gifts in High River AB for about a year and a half now. The artists struggle to share the word about the gallery and the work they offer there. In an effort to help out I offered to re-invent a blog theme I use to do for the members of the High River Art Society and so I will alternate blog topics between It All Began in a Garden and In the Artist's Studio for the next while.

I would like to introduce you to Joyce Brown - Fibre Artist. In the Artist's Studio with Joyce Brown

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art artist fibre fine art photography textiles https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/in-the-artists-studio-with-joyce-brown Fri, 05 Mar 2021 16:00:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Patti Frostad's Peony and Alliums https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/it-all-began-in-a-garden---patti-frostads-peony-and-alliums As we wait and wait through this long winter I sometimes wonder - will Spring ever come. Then we have a few mild days like yesterday and today and I truly believe! Yes we will have Spring - we will visit lovely gardens again. It's still a while away and until that time comes I hope this virtual garden walk will help you pass the time. It All Began in a Garden - Patti's Peonies and Other Beauties

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/3/it-all-began-in-a-garden---patti-frostads-peony-and-alliums Mon, 01 Mar 2021 15:30:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Happy Valley Lavender and Herb Farm https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/2/it-all-began-in-a-garden---happy-valley-lavender-and-herb-farm What a wonderful find the Happy Valley Lavender and Herb Farm was! Thanks to my sister-in-law for suggesting it. I hope you enjoy the virtual garden tour as much as I did revisiting it while I put this presentation together. It All Began in a Garden - Happy Valley Lavender and Herbs

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/2/it-all-began-in-a-garden---happy-valley-lavender-and-herb-farm Sat, 20 Feb 2021 15:30:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Government House Gardens, Victoria BC https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/2/it-all-began-in-a-garden---government-house-gardens-victoria-bc I love visiting Vancouver Island. My husband and I get out there at least once a year and now that our son has moved there we have twice the motivation to visit. Happily he has taken up residence in Victoria which has an abundance of wonderful gardens. Did I mention I love visiting gardens? We are so looking forward to our next trip west and will definitely be planning a walkabout in a few of their many gardens while there.

Everyone has seen images of the BC Parliament Buildings with their iconic view of the harbour and the gardens there are lovely but the real gem is to be found at The Government House gardens. These gardens are absolutely worth seeking out. They can be a little hard to find but thankfully with Google maps and GPS any place can be found.

This Spark presentation was created from images taken during two visits to the garden. I can't recommend a particular season to plan a trip for - all seasons offer wonderful blossoms.

It All Began in a Garden - Government House, Victoria BC

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens Government House Victoria BC https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/2/it-all-began-in-a-garden---government-house-gardens-victoria-bc Mon, 08 Feb 2021 16:00:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The U of L Coutts Centre for Western Heritage in August https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-u-of-l-coutts-centre-for-western-heritage-in-august Join me on a garden visit to the U of L Coutts Centre for Western Heritage in August. As we wait for Spring to arrive and have the snow leave and the new growth begin this will have to do.

We are fortunate to have this lovely facility so near by.


It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-u-of-l-coutts-centre-for-western-heritage-in-august Sat, 30 Jan 2021 23:14:02 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Ribbet the Exhibit https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---ribbet-the-exhibit During a visit to South Carolina I found we were fairly close to the Brookgreen Garden. I did a blog back in August about my visit there. Ribbet the Exhibit was a special exhibit at the garden created by artist Andy Cobb. I would visit these wonderful characters again in a heartbeat if they come to garden near me!


Enjoy this virtual visit to the frogs of Ribbet the Exhibit.


Ribbet the Exhibit

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---ribbet-the-exhibit Sat, 23 Jan 2021 00:54:48 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The Shire https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-shire Off to New Zealand again with a side trip to Hobbiton.

It All Began in a Garden - The Shire

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) artist colourful fine art photography gardens Hobbiton https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-shire Fri, 15 Jan 2021 16:00:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The Flora of New Zealand's South Island https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-flora-of-new-zealands-south-island From the top of New Zealand to the bottom, take a tour of the garden that is New Zealand, with me as I re-walk six weeks in this Pacific gem.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography flowers gardens travel https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-flora-of-new-zealands-south-island Sat, 09 Jan 2021 15:30:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The Flora of New Zealand's North Island https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-flora-of-new-zealands-north-island Still no travel and winter settles in. If you're longing to head out on an adventure perhaps this will help quell any angst those unfulfilled desires may cause. Join me on a virtual visit to New Zealand's North Island to enjoy some of the interesting and unique plant life that abounds there.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens new zealand north island https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2021/1/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-flora-of-new-zealands-north-island Sat, 02 Jan 2021 01:00:00 GMT
George Lane Park All Decked Out for Christmas https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/12/george-lane-park-all-decked-out-for-christmas An annual event initiated by the local Rotarians and eagerly awaited for by everyone in town! While you can get in your car and drive down to the park you can also sit in the comfort of your home and enjoy the lights here and now.

George Lane Park

I'll be getting back to sharing gardens soon.

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) christmas lights" fine art photography George Lane Park High River https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/12/george-lane-park-all-decked-out-for-christmas Sat, 26 Dec 2020 20:04:49 GMT
Nativities https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/12/nativities
Another event lost to Covid restrictions this holiday season was the annual LDS Church Nativity Display. I have chosen a selection of images from past years and put them together for your enjoyment.
One of these years I will ask permission to access the display at a time when it is not open to the public. Maneuvering a tripod around with the crowds of visitors is not an easy task and can be downright hazardous.
So join me now for a visit to the display and let's all hope that next year we will be able to browse this wonderful event in person.
[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) fine art photography High River Christmas nativities https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/12/nativities Sun, 20 Dec 2020 02:52:13 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Ethel M Botanical Garden at Christmas https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/12/it-all-began-in-a-garden---ethel-m-botanical-garden-at-christmas What began as a disappointment quickly became a pleasure. That was how I reacted when I realized that the garden I had come to visit was covered in strings of lights. We all must embrace what we cannot change and so a visit to the garden after dark was planned instead. This is the result.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) christmas light display fine art photography gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/12/it-all-began-in-a-garden---ethel-m-botanical-garden-at-christmas Tue, 01 Dec 2020 15:00:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Patti's Clematis and Delphiniums https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/11/it-all-began-in-a-garden---pattis-clematis-and-delphiniums Join me on another virtual garden walk. This time we will return to Patti Frostad's beautiful garden in High River, AB and focus on her abundance of clematis and delphiniums.

It All Began in a Garden


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/11/it-all-began-in-a-garden---pattis-clematis-and-delphiniums Thu, 12 Nov 2020 15:30:00 GMT
Field of Crosses https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/11/field-of-crosses Not my usual walk through a garden but similar. Join me in a walk through the Field of Crosses. A memorial to the men and women of Southern Alberta who did not make it home from serving their country.

Field of Crosses


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) field of crosses remembrance day https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/11/field-of-crosses Mon, 09 Nov 2020 02:39:33 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The Coutts Centre for Western Heritage in June https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/10/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-coutts-centre-for-western-heritage-in-june The Coutts Centre for Western Heritage is a gift given the people of the area by the late Jim Coutts when he choose to gift his families farm on which he had developed beautiful gardens, to the University of Lethbridge.

The centre is about a 20ish minute drive away and as a result I get there several time a year. As a result of those frequent visits I have compiled quite a collection of images. I decided to share these images by month and will be sharing them as June, July and August. We begin with June.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/10/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-coutts-centre-for-western-heritage-in-june Thu, 22 Oct 2020 14:30:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Abkhazi Garden, Victoria BC https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/10/it-all-began-in-a-garden---abkhazi-garden-victoria-bc One of my favourite activities when visiting anywhere, but especially Victoria, is finding gardens open to public viewing. They are inevitably tranquil, relaxing places to be in.

When I first heard of the Abkhazi garden I knew I had to seek it out. The garden in built on love - literally! Their website calls it the garden that love built. Who would not want to visit that?

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Abkhazi fine art photography flowers garden gardens Victoria BC https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/10/it-all-began-in-a-garden---abkhazi-garden-victoria-bc Fri, 16 Oct 2020 14:30:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - The Powys-Libbe Garden, High River AB https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/10/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-powys-libbe-garden-high-river-ab I am gifted to have several fabulous garden friends right here in High River. A visit to their gardens is a double win as I get to spend time in a beautiful place and also visit with friends. When visiting Reg and Marlene's garden I also get to see award winning gladiolas as they continue to develop new and beautiful variants of these plants.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) award winning gladiolas colourful dahlias fine art photography flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/10/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-powys-libbe-garden-high-river-ab Sat, 10 Oct 2020 16:17:11 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Metchosin B.C. https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/9/it-all-began-in-a-garden---st-mary-the-virgin-anglican-church-metchosin-b-c Take a peaceful walk through the grounds of this historic church and enjoy the gift of Spring with the blooming of the fawn lilies and their supporting cast.


It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) churchyard fawn lily grape hyacinth metchosin bc muscari scilla shooting stars https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/9/it-all-began-in-a-garden---st-mary-the-virgin-anglican-church-metchosin-b-c Wed, 30 Sep 2020 05:36:39 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden, Las Vegas NV https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/9/it-all-began-in-a-garden---ethel-m-botanical-cactus-garden-las-vegas-nv While not exactly in Las Vegas, it's pretty close in Henderson. One city flows into the next sometimes. Just so you know there is much more to Las Vegas than casinos and "the strip". There is a wonderful cactus garden that is well worth a visit. And as an aside, although I did not go in, there is a tour of the candy factory right beside the garden.


It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) cacti Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden fine art photography gardens nature photography https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/9/it-all-began-in-a-garden---ethel-m-botanical-cactus-garden-las-vegas-nv Mon, 21 Sep 2020 14:30:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - the U of L Coutts Centre for Western Heritage in July https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/9/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-u-of-l-coutts-centre-fro-western-heritage-in-july The Coutts Centre, located a few kilometres outside Nanton Alberta is a wonderful place to visit for anyone seeking a little peace and loveliness in their life. Take a picnic and plan on enjoying the space as long as you like. Even when they close they don't kick you out - they just lock the washrooms and any other buildings. As a photographer, shooting early in the morning or later in the day is preferred, so no problem there.


If you have been following this blog you will know to click on the image and you will be taken to the Adobe Spark page that holds this presentation. I hope you enjoy the visit as much as I enjoyed it. It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Coutts Centre for Western Heritage fine art photography gardens U of L virtual visit https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/9/it-all-began-in-a-garden---the-u-of-l-coutts-centre-fro-western-heritage-in-july Wed, 16 Sep 2020 21:35:02 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Brookgreen Garden, Myrtle Beach, SC https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/8/it-all-began-in-a-garden---brookgreen-garden-myrtle-beach-sc Our visit to South Carolina was a little too soon in the season to capture all the floral beauty but with the amount of statuary there was plenty to admire. It All Began in a Garden Brookgreen GardenSpring in South Carolina

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Brookgreen Garden gardens photography statues https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/8/it-all-began-in-a-garden---brookgreen-garden-myrtle-beach-sc Thu, 20 Aug 2020 14:30:00 GMT
It All Began in a Garden - Patti's Lilies & Irises https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/8/it-all-began-in-a-garden---pattis-lilies-irises Another in my series of Gardens I Have Visited. Close to home in High River this time, at my friends amazing garden. But only part of it... since her garden is bountiful and so close to get to I have visited it more often and therefore have more images to share. This Spark presentation will be of her Lilies & Irises.

It All Began in a Garden

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) colourful flowers gardens High River AB iris lily Patti and Blair Frostad private garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/8/it-all-began-in-a-garden---pattis-lilies-irises Sun, 16 Aug 2020 20:36:55 GMT
It all began in a garden - Reader Rock Garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/7/it-all-began-in-a-garden---reader-rock-garden Another of my favourite gardens to visit. So lucky to be close to this wonderful garden tucked into a busy corner along Macleod Trail. Once on the grounds you would never guess the pace of life that is going on so close at hand.

It all began in a garden


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) flowers gardens reader rock garden https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/7/it-all-began-in-a-garden---reader-rock-garden Mon, 27 Jul 2020 03:47:56 GMT
It all began in a garden - Bibler Gardens, Kalispell MT https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/7/it-all-began-in-a-garden These words are the inspiration for a series of blogs in intend on posting. As we continue through this summer of Covid, not traveling as we might have, we look for things to do closer to home.

Luckily there is a garden nearby that I love to visit but that got me thinking about how I could share the experience with others. Kind of like museums and zoos were doing during the worst of the shut down. Sorry I didn't think to do this earlier but better late than never?

So here is my first offering. It is of the Bibler Gardens in Kalispell MT (won't be crossing the border any time this summer) but that wouldn't help you visit this garden because it is only open to the public once a year as a fund raiser for the Flathead Valley Community College. I was fortunate to snap up the last remaining ticket one year and got to visit this amazing private property.

The link will take you to an Adobe Spark presentation which contains the images from that visit.

Please enjoy. "It all began in a garden"

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) flowers gardens https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2020/7/it-all-began-in-a-garden Sun, 26 Jul 2020 03:38:46 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Natalie VonRaven https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2017/1/in-the-artists-studio-with-natalie-vonraven I first met Natalie VonRaven several years ago when we both participated in the downtown Artisan’s Market. Since that time, I have learned how committed she is to her town! Having moved to High River as a young married couple 13 years ago Natalie and her husband have put down some deep roots here.

Thanks, Natalie for allowing me to reboot my blog by welcoming me into your creative space! And what a wonderful space it is, surrounded by an eclectic collection of bits and pieces of this and that. Small gems, things she has created and treasures she has found from here and there. I do enjoy visiting other artist’s creative spaces. They are as varied and unique as the artist’s themselves. If there was a game of match the artist with their creative space I think most people would be able to match Natalie and her studio – okay, maybe the purple wall is a giveaway!

NatalieSurrounded by things that inspire.

It’s easy to judge that if someone has a purple swath of hair that they are a little “out there” so I asked Natalie why the purple hair expecting some kind of quirky reason but the reality was so much more – “because I like purple“, was her answer. Of course, after visiting her studio, that was no surprise. It’s kind of endearing to me because it happens to be my daughter’s fav colour as well.

Where the magic happens

Natalie is a very talented artist. As a teenager she marched to her own drummer which was not always appreciated by her teachers. She had the good fortune to meet a teacher who recognized her love of art and allowed her to work on her own projects and grade them accordingly. Other than her school years Natalie is self-taught. She learns from other artist's - as she describes it – seeing a piece of art she likes and reverse engineering it to figure out how the artist achieved the result. Lots of trial and error, I expect, but learning every step of the way.

Whoo Me?The eyes are the window to the soul.

I asked Natalie about the eyes in her images – they are often a focal point in her works. As she explains it, she is attracted to people’s eyes (window to the soul and all that) so it was a natural progression to key on the eyes. As well she focusses on other facial features like the distinctive cheek bones and lips of her portraits. I love when she brings her own special brand of whimsy to her animal portraits. Almost caricaturizing their features while adding personality that touches the viewer. Or as she puts it “persoNatalie”!

I can't take my eye off of you.Well - that's how I feel when I see this fellow.

When Natalie joined the HRAS she brought both energy and enthusiasm. If there was a job needed doing she readily joined in, taking on the position of Chair of the Show Committee as well as joining numerous other committees that arise out of a need. She is a champion example of rolling up the sleeves and pitching in. Most recently she has joined the art society executive in the role of vice-president.

I have worked with Natalie on a number of committees and am always impressed at how quickly she gets the job done. Is that the sign of a highly organized person? Yes, it seems it is. Her work area reinforces this observation.

Tools of the TradeA place for everything and everything in it's place.


I’m always very aware of the art people hang in their homes and it is especially nice to see a varied collection of artist’s original works finding a home with another artist. I feel it’s a real compliment when someone who can create wonderful works of art also appreciate the work of others. What they choose to surround themselves with is also very telling about a person and Natalie loves to have a wonderful collection of her "little" treasurers close by.

Little ThingsFrom a teeny tiny teapot to even tinier books that have actual pages Natalie may identify with Gulliver! Red and BlackYes - she can play the concertina! Perhaps a little gypsy in her DNA.

DSC_6587Quick Lesson I asked about how she achieved such a smooth transition of colour in her pieces and received an impromptu tutorial on how she creates the effect. I love how artist's are always willing to share with others.


Natalie’s art can be found at her website www.natalievonraven.blogspot.com as well as on Etsy or Deviant Art. You can also check out her Facebook page. Natalie regularly shows her works at the art society sales and markets in the area throughout the summer. She also has a couple of banners along 12th Ave.

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art High River Art Society acrylics artist persoNatalie whimsy https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2017/1/in-the-artists-studio-with-natalie-vonraven Tue, 17 Jan 2017 05:43:11 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Marg Smith https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2016/2/in-the-artists-studio-with-marg-smith On a bet and a dare is how our next feature artist for In the Artist’s Studio describes the beginnings of her love affair with painting. Marg can be found in her studio creating art for at least a part of every day.

Marg Smith of Lavender Art Studio in Okotoks has been creating her wonderful works for about 13 years and in that time she has taken her art from zero to wow and has moved from student to teacher. Although all artists readily accept that they are never really finished being students.

Lavender Art Studio

In her lovely light filled studio – Marg has converted the major portion of the lower level of her “walk-out” home into a wonderful studio/gallery  - is where you can find her painting or teaching most every day.

The subjects Marg gravitates to range from landscapes and nature to children and critters and they all reflect her love of light and colour.

While she is a very busy artist, Marg also finds time for volunteer work with the Foothills Country Hospice where she shares her talents as both a teacher and an artist. She is a founding member of the Brushed With Flair group who host a major fund raising effort on behalf of the hospice each spring. Known as Art with Heart be sure to look for it this April.

Marg is not just busy as an active artist and community volunteer she is also a member of a number of professional associations and organizations. The list is long and impressive. Among others it contains the Federation of Canadian Artists, Visual Art Society of Alberta and Alberta Society of Artists. How does she find time to attend High River Art Society meetings – I don’t know but I am glad she does!

Tools of the trade.

As a teacher, Marg encourages her beginner students to “get lost in the domain of colour and fun”. Her philosophy carries over into her own creations as they abound with colour and light.  

Colour is a mainstay of Marg's art.

In addition to private and group lessons, Marg has recently begun welcoming groups into her studio for an evening of goodies and refreshments while sharing with them the fun of creating art in a social setting. When all is done the participants get to take their new creations home to be proudly displayed and fondly remembered.

New enthusiasts - future artists

Although Marg is largely self-taught, her art style has been influenced by some notable instructors, such as: Andrew Kiss, Roger Arndt, Murray Phillips and Doug Swinton. She has worked in watercolours and acrylics but now finds she prefers to work mainly in oils.



While visiting her studio I did notice that Marg continues to develop her craft by experimenting with new materials and styles. I will be interested to keep an eye on her new work as she grows and develops her style.

As a student of art - Marg continues to explore new styles and techniques.

In addition to creating art, Marg actively promotes and sells her work. Through her website at www.artsmithsstudio.com, by appointment at her studio/gallery or at numerous shows, works by M.L. Smith can be found and enjoyed. She is currently displaying a number of pieces at Highwood Art in High River, Okotoks Art Gallery, Elevation Art Gallery in Canmore and the Leighton Art Centre. Marg’s art has been juried into an impressive list of shows over her career and has found a home in corporate and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic.

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art artist colourful High River Art Society light. oils https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2016/2/in-the-artists-studio-with-marg-smith Mon, 29 Feb 2016 00:15:37 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Rita Ku https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2016/1/in-the-artists-studio-with-rita-ku It’s a new year so it’s a fitting time to publish a new installment of In The Artist’s Studio with one of the newer members in the High River Art Society - Rita Ku. New to the group, perhaps, but certainly not new to High River. Rita and her family arrived here in June of 1976. Originally from Switzerland (that’s where her cute accent comes from) she arrived in Toronto and ultimately made her way west to Alberta. Since joining the art society Rita has not shied away from being involved and soon took on the job of vice-president for which we, the members, are grateful!

Rita working on one of her favourite themes - flowers

Rita is largely a self-taught artist. Since sharing her passion with a like-minded friend while in grade school to courses through Continuing Education, she has developed her style of art in both acrylics and more recently, watercolour.

Demands of raising a family and a working career meant that she has not always been able to pursue her artistic nature. Time has not diminished the passion she holds for creating works of art now. In her words she is “awed by the natural beauty of God’s creation”

When viewing works by Rita it does not take long to recognize her appreciation of nature as many of her pieces contain images of our feathered friends against a background of shades and shapes of the natural world.


The other thing it does not take long to recognize is Rita’s detailed and precise style. When I visited her home and studio it came as no surprise to see a very organized and tidy workspace that surely reflects in her works of art.

Tools of the trade

Her colour sampler is a wonderful example of her neat and tidy personality, as is her painting style.

Her neat and precise traits shine through

A grand source of nature’s inspiration is no further away than her backyard. Although now neatly put to bed for the winter, her garden is obviously well tended and prolific. During the growing season it provides inspiration for her many lovely floral works.

A departure from her usual style these bold and colourful poppies dominate one wall in her studio while filling the space with glorious colour.

Her workspace enjoys the benefit of lovely soft north light from a large window in her dining room turned artist’s studio, which looks out to her backyard. In order to keep the winter blahs at bay she keeps a splash of colour close by at all times.

Rita is not confined to one particular style of painting. At times she will be very deliberate in what she is creating – working from a clear plan in her mind as to the final image, while other times, in a more playful manner, she will allow the painting itself to dictate it’s final shape.

Acrylics and WatercoloursTwo mediums for two looks

It was while participating in a HRAS “Art Challenge” in which participants were challenged to create a 5 x 7 painting each day for five days, that Rita discovered the medium of watercolour. She found that she loved the easy flow with which it allowed her to work and the unpredictability of the paint and water. Since then she has been experimenting with tissue paper, plastic and other household materials to create random textures, quite a departure from her classic precise style.

While visiting Rita I enjoyed viewing her collection of paintings. Both those created by herself and those collected while on travels with husband Yee. It was then I spotted two pieces of art, while familiar in Rita’s style they also stood distinctly apart. I commented on them and she explained that these two paintings were “not for sale” but I hope she will either rethink that decision or create other works in that particular style as I think they were unique and very appealing.

An extremely interesting pair

I’m looking forward to seeing what Rita produces over the next few months as she calls on the images she captured while vacationing in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji this fall.

Thank you Rita for allowing me to poke about your home, for your open and friendly conversation regarding your art and certainly for the delicious home grown mint tea.

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art High River Art Society acrylics artist watercolour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2016/1/in-the-artists-studio-with-rita-ku Tue, 05 Jan 2016 18:31:54 GMT
In the Artist's Studio With Lori Connors https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/9/in-the-artists-studio-with-lori-connors I had the pleasure of meeting Lori Connors when I went out to Cayley to chat, shoot and prepare for my last blog, but I came away so overwhelmed by the two ladies (Estelle & Lori) creating their art in an old church that I had to ask Lori to meet me again so I could pry deeper into her history. I realize now why I didn’t feel I had got a good handle on her story – she is a private person who has difficulty in putting herself into the limelight. The bio she shared with me is all of a paragraph long! But as I was to quickly learn, there is much more to the lady and the artist.

LoriNot one who enjoys having her picture taken - I had to be a little sneaky getting this shot.

Lori was born and raised in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan but has been a resident of Nanton for the past 42 years. Saskatchewan’s loss is Alberta’s gain!

It was as a student in Thevent College that she was first introduced to the work of the old masters as the halls of the school were lined with reproductions of their works. It was there also that she was given her first paintbrush and a love affair was born.

Like so many members of the art society, Lori set aside her love of painting for “paid” employment and the demands of motherhood. Also, like many members, as those demands on her time lessened, she rekindled her love of creating works of art.

Bold & Beautiful

Lori has studied the medium of oils and acrylics in numerous art workshops. She cites one of the most important lessons learned, delivered by notable Canadian artist Robert Genn when he said - “better 10% underdone than 10% overdone”. Those are certainly valuable words of wisdom as most artists struggle with knowing when a work is complete. Or as another instructor (Doug Swinton) is known to say “it’s time to start stopping”.  It’s easy to kill a good work by overworking it but these words of wisdom resonate with Lori and have saved her creations from that awful fate. In addition to her ongoing studies in oil Lori studied Interior Design at Mount Royal College, which may have influenced her confident use of bold colours.

Lori loves bold coloursMany of which can be found on her cupboards as her kitchen has become her studio of choice.

Although equally accomplished using an impressionistic style she has found her true artistic voice using a more abstract style. I found myself feeling images within her works as she truly has a way of portraying the impression of her subject in an abstract form.

Accomplished in an Impressionists style as well.

At work with the colours she loves

As the mandate of the Nanton Art Society, of which Lori is also a member, is to assist their members in becoming better artists - they invite “professional” artists to their meetings to work with their members on a monthly basis. Lori enjoys this ongoing opportunity to develop her talent. She credits her good friend Estelle Selin with mentoring her as she grows in her art.

This oversized raw canvas was the result of a collaborative effort - paint pouring exercise.

As a member of A.C.A.C.A. Lori was the recipient of a number of awards, most notably The Martha Houston Award. She does not affiliate herself with a gallery so your only opportunity to see her works on display is limited. One of the best opportunities would be at High River Art Society Shows and Sales or occasional shows such as the Rotary I Love Art Fund Raiser where you will find this most recently completed work by Lori Connors.

Ready in timefor the Rotary - I Love Art Fundraiser

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art High River Art Society abstract acrylics artist bold colourful oils https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/9/in-the-artists-studio-with-lori-connors Mon, 21 Sep 2015 14:15:00 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Estelle Selin https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/8/in-the-artists-studio-with-estelle-selin-and-lori-connors Estelle Selin and Lori Connors work in the same studio space so I was able to get shots of both their works and their work space in one visit a couple of weeks ago just before I headed out on a short holiday. The actual interview process was a little more complicated as their stories often wove together and yet were very individual. Therefore I will write two blogs from the one visit - first one up is Estelle in blog post #5.

You will quickly learn to recognize a work by this artist as bold, dramatic and in most cases large! Her style is reflected in the way she signs it - Estelle. Like Fabian or Prince nothing more is required. It makes a statement about the art and the artist!

Never one to shy away from new techniques

Estelle was raised in Northern Ontario in a family of thirteen children where art was integral to their homelife. What a household that must have been. I smile thinking about it. She began with painting watercolours in 1988 and is now exploring the qualities of acrylics. To quote the artist she "likes the freedom this medium offers; one minute loose and wet, like watercolour, and the next thick and textural." The above image is a perfect example of that statement.

Thankfully she made the move to Alberta thirty years ago and has since been inspired by the open space and big sky which she incorporates into many of her images. To help with the process Estelle keeps a camera close at hand and has become adept at drive by shootings - of the landscape kind.

The inspiration board and the inspired

As most of us know and appreciate it is wonderful to have a spouse or partner who understands that we, as artists, often call out "Stop the car!" unexpectedly.

Estelle's formal art education has included studying with several notables in the field - George Aleg, Brent Heighton, Susan Woolgar, Elizabeth Pitura and Doug Swinton in addition to night school classes at the Alberta College of Art.

Works by the artist

A walk around Estelle's studio and you can quickly tell that nature plays an important role in her creations. Be it prairie fields, aspen woods, fog shrouded mountains or glorious blossoms, all are views of our natural environment.

Nature plays an important role in Estelle's images

Speaking of her studio - what a grand space and interesting story!

The Cayley United Church was looking to sell their building and had been trying to find a suitable purchaser for sometime when Estelle and her husband decided they would like to purchase the property. At the present time they are unsure what precisely they would like to do with the building so while they figure that out what a great studio space Estelle and Lori have at their disposal. The possibilities are certainly intriguing.

A great second life for this place

What a work space

I usually like to include a shot I call the tools of the trade, that includes the paints and brushes the artist uses, in my post, but in Estelle's case a shot of her palette spatula seemed more appropriate.

Tools of the Trade

One of the benefits of working close to another artist is collaboration. In Lori & Estelle's case they can assist each other when an additional set of hands is required, especially when working with oversized pieces like these. Developing creative ideas on new techniques like those used in their latest endeavour - pouring paint onto raw canvas with spectacular results. I'm looking forward to seeing this one stretched.

Something new

It's always nice to have a friend stop in for a visit but it's especially nice if that one does not require you to stop what you're doing other than for a head pat or chin scratch.

Just a little camera shy

Estelle has participated in many group shows and several solo shows but is not presently showcasing her works in galleries or online so when it is available at shows like the High River Art Society's Spring Art Show and Sale it is advisable to get there early if you aspire to own one of her beautiful pieces. Hopefully we will see her latest creations at the Fall Show and Sale in October.

Artist's statement

Until then may she continues to create her masterpieces in the wonderful surroundings she finds herself with friend Lori.


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art Estelle Selin High River Art Society acrylics artist foothills https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/8/in-the-artists-studio-with-estelle-selin-and-lori-connors Sat, 22 Aug 2015 04:32:09 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Dianne M. Riva Cambrin https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/7/in-the-artists-studio-with-dianne-m-riva-cambrin After a bit of a break I am back with In The Artist’s Studio, this time highlighting Dianne Riva Cambrin, who, for those of you that don’t know, is a glass artist and long time member of the High River Art Society.

DianneOutdoors, where so much of her inspiration is derived.

I met with Dianne and after tea and cherry crisp came away knowing so much more about someone who I thought I had known for years. Our sons played hockey together but as hockey parents you often only get to know that limited side of a person. I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet Dianne the artist, who like so many has multiple layers and facets to her personality.

I’m here to help you get to know about her art, how she came to it and how her life is affected by it. I have always been attracted to glass works, the manner that glass melts and flows with heat, yet stays uniquely itself, never blending it's colours like paint makes it a challenging medium to create with. For Dianne, like fabrics for the quilter and clay for the sculpture - glass is what gives life to her creative drive.

Art & Creativity Explained

Having developed arthritis from repetitive keyboard work, Dianne lost the ability to hold a paintbrush and the lack of that creative outlet left a hole in her that her children recognized needed to be filled. They presented her with a gift certificate to a glass beading class and while that did not end up being the outlet for her, it did make her think working with glass may be something she could handle. And handle it she did and does - beautifully. One of the side benefits of working with the tools required for her glass creations is the improvements to the mobility and strength in her hands. While she must limit time spent working her glass creations to one hour parcels those hours are therapeutic and help to combat the effects of the arthritis.

Like a jigsaw puzzle that you get to make the pieces for.

Like most High River artists, Dianne’s studio was severely affected by the flood, but also, like so much of town, her new studio is much improved. A more organized space I have not seen (well maybe Sue Jones’ studio could compare).  It provides her with all the tools she needs at hand and storage for items that will become part of her future pieces.

A place for everything and everything in it's place!Notice the band-aids, a necessary item for anyone working with glass. Dianne begins all her pieces with her own original designs. The inspiration for which is often drawn on by the nature that surrounds her home. Love of the out of doors comes through in many of her pieces from trout in a stream to chickadees singing on a branch and like snowflakes – no two designs are the same.

A place for everything...

and everything in it's place.

But wait! There's more to her area of expertise than traditional stained glass pieces. She has branched out to include fused glass creations, slumped glass and jewelry, all of which can be found on display on her website, aptly named www.chickadeeglass.ca. The addition of a kiln to her workshop/studio opened doors to new opportunities and has expanded her ability for creating wonderful new designs. Sometimes she even creates a fused glass piece that becomes part of a stained glass work.

In the KilnThis piece may find it's way into a new stained glass creation or stand on it's own. Fused glass, one of a kind jewelry and stained glass expands her creative juices.

Some of Dianne's works are also on display at Highwood Art in downtown High River as well as being available for purchase in shows like the Spring and Fall Show & Sale hosted by the High River Art Society.

OR if you have an occasion upcoming and are looking for something unique for someone contact Dianne via her website and she will create a one of a kind piece that is tailored to your wants and needs.

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art Dianne Riva Cambrin High River Art Society artist fused glass glass jewelry stained glass https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/7/in-the-artists-studio-with-dianne-m-riva-cambrin Wed, 08 Jul 2015 14:00:00 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Valerie McLenahan https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/6/in-the-artists-studio-with-valerie-mclenahan This next in the series – In the Artist’s Studio highlights the president of the High River Art Society, Valerie McLenahan. HRAS member since 2004 and president since 2006 she is committed to the society’s mandate to support the arts community in the Highwood area.

I met with Valerie last week and gained insight into her style as well as her personality. I must say her style is every bit a reflection of the space she has created in which to work her watercolour magic. It’s fun and unconstrained.

In the studio with Valerie

To quote her artist’s statement she is “inspired by flow and mingling of colours [and] inspired by shapes. Colours I like to paint with are reds & earthly colours but purple is my favourite.”

Valerie will paint every day for weeks or months and then take a week or two off to recharge the batteries.

A pencil sketcher since childhood, Valerie aspired to attend art college but was persuaded that a business career would be more practical. She never lost her desire to put pencil to paper and capture the moments around her. Practicing drawing is still fundamental to her creative process.

When she is not painting she can be found sketching or photographing inspiration for her next painting.

Before I met the lady behind the paintings, when I joined the art society, I already knew she loved animals, I had seen some of her work at shows and that love came through loud and clear. After a visit to her home that love was never more evident.

The big fella was very tolerant with the idea of being "painted" and the cat was just plain curious!

The space that nurtures creativity must have had an affect on her children as well as her husband as they all have taken to creating music, which in turn is reflected in her art.

Surrounded by a family of musicians can't but help to add fodder for creativity

Valerie is a busy lady, but she finds a creative balance by combining her busy social side with the development of her art. She is a founding member of the Blackie Artists Guild, as well as her active role in the High River Art Society and she belongs to Okotoks Station Artists.

Artist, active community member, mother, wife and now teacher = a busy lady.

Teaching is a relatively new undertaking for Valerie but one that she says inspires and reinvigorates her creativity. Next opportunity to catch one of her classes will be in November at the High River Library. (Thursdays, 1:30 – 4:30)

Matted prints available for sale.

If you don’t want to wait until the HRAS Fall Show & Sale in October, for an opportunity to enjoy Valerie’s work up close and personal, you can catch her at the summer market hosted by the Okotoks Art Gallery – Thursdays, July 9 & 23 or August 6 & 27 from 4 – 8:00 p.m. She also displays at 2nd floor of the High River Hospital and Blackie ATB Financial.  You can go online to www.valeriemclenahan.ca to visit her portfolio as well.

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art High River Art Society Valerie McLenahan artist watercolour https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/6/in-the-artists-studio-with-valerie-mclenahan Mon, 08 Jun 2015 19:50:21 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Cathie Johnson https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-cathie-johnson This is the second in the series of blog posts created from conversations I plan on having with the artist members of the High River Art Society. If the first two visits are any indication I am going to like this project. I have learned much about two very talented yet dissimilar artists.

Cathie is an accomplished watercolourist and is an active member of the HRAS. She is also an active member of the Canadian Federation of Artists and has a number of her pieces displayed on their website.

I had heard that Cathie was a teacher before her retirement so I made the leap and concluded she had been an art teacher, after all someone with her ability must have been creating art for years... or so I thought. Wrong! Cathie only took up the brush after retiring from the classroom - to stave off boredom. I for one, am glad she did, as I love her free flowing style on yupo paper as well as her tighter more detailed pieces that are almost graphic in nature.

To quote Cathie, "I derive inspiration from the flow of life... movement is the key to my painting." Movement and colour are certainly words that come to mind when looking for descriptors for Cathie's style.

Cathie will often sketch her design on her paper and then let the paints flow, it is that flow that leads her choices of colour and direction. And of course that eternal artists quandary - when to stop!

While much of Cathie's style was developed as a "self-taught" artist the lessons she received from Canadian artist Willy Wong was certainly time well spent. Her negative watercolours are beautiful indeed. As well she has advanced her knowledge by participating in several artist lead workshops and continues to add to her skill set through books, tutorials and studying the work of other artists.

Her negative watercolours are beautiful.

The HRAS Spring or Fall Shows are not the only place you may enjoy Cathie's work, you can visit her website at www.artsmithsstudio.com, visit the Leighton Centre or on 2nd floor of the High River Hospital.

Tools of the artist Cathie has been juried into a number of prestigious shows including the Federation of Canadian Artists "All Things Spring" in 2014 and the Alberta Society of Artists "Festive Spirit" amoung others. You may have seen some of Cathie's work prior to her watercolour phase if you saw Catherine Warren Designs jewellery which she created for a Western Canadian clothing company or possibly some of her hand painted silk scarves that were selected for sale at the 1988 Olympic gift pavilion.

Cathie continues to create her bright and lively works from her home studio in High River.





[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art artist Cathie High River Art Society Johnson https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-cathie-johnson Mon, 25 May 2015 16:31:38 GMT
In the Artist's Studio with Suzette Jones https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-suzette-jones It was great fun to visit with Sue in her studio today and have a conversation with her about her art and how she came to be where she is now as an artist and a teacher.

Thank you Sue, for being my guinea pig, in this, the inaugural article/blog featuring artists of the High River Art Society.

Thank you Sue, for being my guinea pig, in this, the inaugural article/blog featuring artists of the High River Art Society.


Like so many artists Sue did not pursue her interest in art to the degree she does now until her family was raised. She is accomplished in a variety of mediums including pastels, pen and ink, oils and acrylics. While she is mostly self taught in her acrylics, classes taken in 1978 with the notable Dutch Canadian artist Dick van den Hoogen were of particular benefit to Sue as a budding artist.  Followed up by watercolour classes in High River and Sue was on her way in developing her style of art.

What a beautiful style it is.  A work by Sue is consistently selected “People’s Choice” winner at the spring and fall art shows hosted by the High River Art Society of which she has been a member since 1998.

SunflowersCreated from a four colour palette.

Sue keeps her palette simple, as she says – it gets confusing having too many colours on the go. One piece that particularly struck me is this one of sunflowers, which she created using just 4 colours.

Sue at work

I asked if her studio was always so neat and tidy! She admitted that when she was in the process of working on a piece that is not the case. She is just beginning a new piece here. I can't wait to see the finished work.

Realism with a touch of Impressionism Sue describes her style as “generally realistic with a little impressionism to keep her paintings from being too photographic in appearance”, although much of her work is done from photos of people or places she has visited.  The flood wiped out many of the photos she had collected for artistic inspiration but she is slowly creating a new catalog of images for future paintings.

Beloved family friend

Some of Sue's work can be viewed at Highwood Art Gallery in High River, on the second floor of the High River Hospital or by appointment in her lovely studio where I saw this one of a beloved family pet. And of course, at the High River Art Society shows.

Tools of the trade

These tools of the trade are a testament not only to the creator of some exceptional works of art but also to the loyalty of the artist as she never throws out a brush just because it is worn down to a nub, after all - they make the best trees!

Sue is currently creating one of a kind bookmarks that will be available for sale at the High River Art Society Fall Show & Sale to be held October 16 & 17th at the Highwood Golf & Country Club.


Painted on canvas with a backing and sealed to protect the painting these will, undoubtedly, prove popular at the sale.

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) Art High River Art Society Suzette Jones artist https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/5/in-the-artists-studio-with-suzette-jones Fri, 15 May 2015 03:42:57 GMT
Our Kiwi Adventure - Week One https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/3/our-kiwi-adventure March 2 - 4th

Monday morning, the temps dropped, wind picked up and the snow blew. A fine day to start an adventure.

Somewhere between LAX and Auckland we lost an entire day but that's ok apparently we'll get it back on the way home.


Our arrival in NZ was quite uneventful. I had a brief encounter with a security beagle who was interested in my camera bag. Turned out he was picking up the scent of some elk jerky Rob had put in to our bag of trail mix. The meat was gone but the aroma lingered. Pretty impressive canine.

We picked up our rental and had our first unnerving experience with driving on the "wrong side" of the road.

Our first resting stop was a lovely little B&B called Bush Haven in the City, the thinking being after a 26 hour travel day we would need a couple of days to get acclimatized to NZ. A good thing we did because I had a plan to switch my phone to a NZ plan but Telus had other ideas and it took an online chat and a mall visit but we got connected. The other thing we wanted was a cooler bag which we learned is locally called a chilly bag. It's been very useful!


March 5th - Hobbiton - The Movie Set

As soon as we decided we were going to New Zealand I knew I would make the trek to Hobbiton. Rob was a good sport about making sure I got my trip checked off our "to do" list right away.

Our visit there was magical. I would not have been surprised to meet Bilbo or Frodo Baggins walk out the door of "Bags End" and enjoying  a refreshing mug of gingerbeer at The Green Dragon Inn was a special final treat.


March 6 - 12th - Paihia

Off to the Bay of Islands and our first RCI resort Club Paihia.

I picked up a cold along the way (probably on the airplane) and by the time we arrived in Paihia it had settled in on me. I tried not to let it stop our outings so Saturday morning we headed out to The Old Packhouse Market in Kerikeri where we got a wonderful first taste of NZ and I got a much needed sun hat. Returning to Paihia I opened my car window to get some fresh air, unfortunately, when I tried to close it, nothing happened. So began our next adventure - getting a rental car fixed on a weekend. After two days of aggravation Rob took the car to a mechanic who fixed the issue in quick order and we were able to get on with our holiday.

The Cream Trip, a cruise out to the bay where we toured around historical points of interest, watched a pod of dophins (babies included) frolic in the waters of the bay, spotted some blue penguins, stopped for a picnic lunch at Otehei Bay, watched on as a group of hardy souls swam with, or rather, tried to swim with a small pod of dolphins, visited a colony of gannets and finished the trip off with a passing through "the hole in the rock" a maneuver that is only possible occasionally and when conditions are just right. 

Club Paihia Mixer, it's always fun getting together at resort mixers, it's an opportunity to meet other travellers, compare notes and learn things about the area we are travelling through.

Cape Reinga via Ninety Mile Beach, we had planned to drive up to Cape Reinga, which we thought was the most northerly point on the north island, close but no cigar. When we heard that the bus tour drove up Ninety Mile Beach and included sandboarding at Te Paki we opted to go with the tour. Good choice! Ninety Mile Beach is not actually 90 miles (more like 50) but still it's amazing. Tide was coming in which would push the bus higher up the beach and may cause us to become stuck in the sand (it happened to another bus). At one point the water was splashing as high as the windows. There was an international fishing derby underway so there was a great stretch of fishermen along the beach all hoping for the $34,000 top prize. Then it was time to dune surf. Visions of goldrushers on the Chilicoot Pass! Before you can boogie down the dune you must climb it! Quite a few people crashed in the same spot so it began to get pretty roughed up, when Rob came through he got bucked off. Lots of good fun, but a shorter trial run would have been a good idea.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the Bay of Islands is a historically significant area for the Maori people. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds honour that history. During our visit we took in a cultural performance by a Maori troupe who welcomed us in their traditional way - by challenging us! Then they shared many of their chants, songs, dances and games with us. Very impressive.

Paihia & Kerikeri, we used our last day in the area to check out the local town history. Paihia is very much a tourist spot but there are some historical spots to check out, Kerikeri is also a tourist centre but offers a little more of the historical perspective of the area.

Meeting folks from home! You just never know when it's going to happen but you can pretty much count on it! We were parked downtown Paihia while Rob popped into a pharmacy looking for some cold remedy for me and while I sat there feeling sorry for myself I noticed Pat & Dave McDonald across the road! I quickly honked our horn but, of course, they would not be expecting someone to be trying to get their attention. So I jumped out of the car and called out to them. Small world.

Russell, a small town across he bay from Paihia that was once nicknamed "hell hole of the Pacific"!  No longer that, it is a lovely little place full of old world charm. We went over for dinner at The Duke of Marlborough Hotel. Delicious! Albeit a little pricey. Then enjoyed a beautiful sunset before ferrying back to Paihia. 

Thus ends the first nine days of our Kiwi adventure! 




[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2015/3/our-kiwi-adventure Wed, 18 Mar 2015 04:25:09 GMT
Flood 2013 - Around town https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/7/flood-2013---around-town As a continuation to my last post, here are a series of images I took when Rob and I went out to find a bin for a load of garbage. We just could not bring ourselves to create a pile of it in the front of our place so we loaded the truck up a number of times and went in search of a dumpster bin with space.

After we were allowed access to our neighbourhood we soon realized that life in High River, for the near future at least, would be considerably different. Firstly - a large percentage of the population were not presently residing in town. We soon found that early mornings and evenings were the best time to go out and see how our town had been impacted by the waters that rushed through.

Ball diamonds at the RecPlexDSC_1156 Even at this early hour of the day seeing an ambulance passing by in a hurry quickly became common place.

Sales office for MontroseDSC_1160 While this looks impressive this was a temporary structure on a temporary foundation. Still the fact that it moved at all is a testament to the power of water.

Strange landingsDSC_1162 Someone was good enough to tether this boat to a whistle sign. Not sure if they thought it might go somewhere but thoughtful nonetheless.

drying mudDSC_1165-Edit






























The mud was so deep in places that it was still not dry almost two weeks later.

The playground in George Lane ParkDSC_1167 There was no place that the waters touched that did not receive a coat of muck. Sometimes inches and sometimes much more.

Once a peaceful tranquil viewDSC_1171 This is normally a peaceful view of sunlight shining through the leaves onto the grass. We have the sunlight and the leaves but the grass is buried beneath a foot of mire.

Outfield fence at the ball diamond in George Lane.DSC_1173 I think this must be about a 6 foot fence so we can see how high the water was as it ran through this area.

rearranging the picnic tablesDSC_1176 Nothing stayed where it had been including the picnic tables in the park.

more floating hazardsDSC_1179 This set of stairs didn't travel too far before becoming hung up against some trees but can you imagine if these had not been stopped the damage that they could have wrought.

animal tracksDSC_1184 Deer tracks through the muck. People were not the only ones affected by the flood. The poor creatures who make their homes along the river were also put in peril. How many were washed away while they tried to flee the raging waters?

The gazeboDSC_1187 I would have liked to get closer but the ground was too soft and I had no desire to get stuck in mud up to my calf. Two years ago we were celebrating our daughters wedding here. I was told it had been washed away so when I saw it intact, albeit a mess, I was so relieved.


I like to take pretty pictures but there is not much beauty in what has befallen High River or it's residents. I do have faith that there will be wedding vows exchanged in the gazebo again. I believe that parents will bring their children to play in the park again. I also trust that the campers who normally keep the campground full all summer will once again be roasting hot dogs over their fire in the park. And I believe that the community will gather here again on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy some music. Precisely when all of those things will happen - well probably not this year but certainly by next summer! There are a lot of people working very hard to make that a reality so I owe it to them to believe.


Until next time,


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/7/flood-2013---around-town Sun, 28 Jul 2013 02:02:39 GMT
Flood 2013 https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/7/flood On June 20th I was enjoying an outing at the Waterton Wildflower Festival with two of my sisters (Cheryl and Connie) and a friend (Judy) when word began to arrive that all was not right at home in High River. Being old flood pros,  Judy and I figured it was a little "high water" which was understandable given the amount of rain that had been falling. As the day progressed and we heard that people were being evacuated from areas that were not traditional flood zones, we realized that this was not the little high water we had assumed it to be and we decided it was time to head for home. Little did we know it would be almost two weeks before we actually made it there.

As we left Waterton we began to get an inkling of what we were headed into. By Claresholm our cell phones were beginning to loose their signal as Telus was hit with the calamity and the extreme demand that was being placed on the system with people trying desperately to contact their loved ones. We learned that Judy's daughter in law, who had been at work at the Manor, had been evacuated to Nanton - What the Hell? Nanton? What was going on? The evacuation centre was suppose to be at Highwood High School in town.

We stopped at the chaos that was the Nanton Evac Centre and Judy was able to locate Ramona, I don't know how she found her so quickly it looked like pandemonium there. While we waited we heard the #2 highway had been closed south of High River - there would be no getting home that way.

We fell into a line of traffic headed east in the hopes of reaching the Blackie Evac Centre to meet up with my husband Rob, who I thought might have headed out there when the evacuation order was given to clear out of town. As we arrived in Blackie I realized right away this was not where he would be and we headed for Calgary. We had left my sister Connie's car in High River when we left town the day before and there would be no picking it up for her to get home in. So leaving behind Connie's car for what would be an extended stay, the five of us headed north. There were rumours running rampant that the #2 was cut off north of High River as well and while I doubted the news the thought of bridges we would be required to cross to get to the city made me think we would be wiser to head east once again and cross the Bow River at the Carseland bridge.

Eventually I had a text from Rob letting our kids and myself know he was safe and sound at a Tim Horton's in Calgary. He had stopped for a coffee and to use their WiFi. He had been doing sewer backup damage control when told to leave town, he packed a bag, grabbed our dog and hit the road. We would meet up at my sister Cheryl's house where we would become extended house guests. Judy and Ramona were dropped off in Calgary as well where they met up with her family for how long we did not know, but in our wildest dreams we never thought it would be as long as it was.

For the next few days we stayed glued to the television coverage of the ongoing devastation in Banff, Canmore, Morley, Bragg Creek, Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Calgary and High River knowing what was carrying on down the Bow towards Siksika and Medicine Hat.

By Monday the desire to get home and get to work on possible damages kicked in. Still no time line on when we would be allowed back. We drove out to Turner Valley to check out the damage there, we were confused, if High River was anywhere similar to what we were seeing elsewhere it made no sense that we were being kept away from our home.

Rob is a school Principal and he still had work to do so he was now commuting from NE Calgary. If we had ever considered city living those thoughts would have been squashed by the ugly commute he was required to make for the next week.

Nine days after the evacuation people were finally being allowed back to their homes - but only on a limited, section by section basis. I'm not sure I agree with the approach that was taken with re-entry on such a restricted basis but I understand that decisions were being made on the fly and that it was probably done to try and secure the remainder of the town from unsavory types but that did not lessen the frustration felt by homeowners knowing that in order to minimize damages to their homes fast action was required. By this time we had reliable information that our home was untouched by flood waters but what awaited us that may have come in through the sewer system left us feeling anxious, frustrated, helpless and increasingly angry.

One bright spot in the wait was that we had time to return to Waterton to enjoy the wildflowers without the rain that had dampened my earlier visit there. This time in the company of my husband, we stayed at the Prince of Wales Hotel with a view of the village and the lake - it was lovely. For bits of time that weekend we were able to forget what was happening at home and that was wonderful because soon enough we would see just what had happened to our lovely little town we moved to 36 years ago.

I got my first look at the devastation when I went to lend a hand to my friend Judy who was allowed access to her home two days before us. It was - shocking, awful, ugly and so terribly sad.

Then finally it was our turn. All residents were to check in with the "Welcome Centre" upon returning to town. There we would receive the news - would we be Green - good! Yellow - not so good but nothing that can't be handled with a little work, Orange - worse, lots of work to be done and personal loss. The worst news - Red! We were not expecting Red or Orange, we hoped for Green but found out we were Yellow. It could have been worse, much worse. It could have been like some neighbours with 4 inches of crap throughout the basement but the work Rob was able to do before the evacuation order came prevented that. His idea to stuff our drains with towels and put tubs of sewer water on top (about 80 - 100 lbs worth) probably prevented major damages. I hope the insurance company appreciates the work he did - I know I do.

Throughout our enforced stay away from our home one of the most frustrating issues was that of communication. In the age of social media there was really no reason that the residents could not be kept informed of the reasons for not being allowed back. As the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words so if we had been shown the state of the infra structure like roads I'm sure some of the angst people felt could have been minimized. It was after all, our town! As the days dragged on the town's Facebook page improved and useful, pertinent information was eventually shared.

So now we have been back home for 18 days. Much has happened in that time. First and foremost we have become grandparents. What a marvelous bright spot in a not so wonderful time. I will write a blog about that experience a little later - when I have digested it. For our town day by day it is being put back into place. Day by day people are able to return to live in their homes. We hear this family or those friends are moving back and it takes the town one step further down the road of many, many steps to recovery. Not so, unfortunately, for the residents of the Hamptons who are now locked out once again due to mold issues.

As we settled into post flood life in High River we began to notice an interesting phenomenon - we would wake early, 6:00 a.m. to the sounds of heavy trucks moving about town. The sounds of the pumps moving water out of Sunshine Lake and Sunshine Lake Extension were constant but only heard as an individual sound throughout the night when the trucks weren't running. Around about 8:00 the army of volunteers would start to arrive. It was rush hour like we had never seen before. By mid-morning the roads would be clogged with vac trucks sucking out basements and sewer lines, volunteers and homeowners would be busy mucking out basements creating massive piles of garbage on front lawns that would begin to spill out onto the road, fridges and freezers that had been taped up with their contents rotting due to a lack of electricity for 2 weeks were lining most roads in town waiting for the flat decks to pick them up and haul them away.

Just where was all this insane amount of garbage going? To the Foothills Regional Waste Management Facility or course. There was a huge bottleneck there that resulted in trucks having to wait hours to off-load their cargo. The landfill road was to be avoided if traveling to Okotoks. At the landfill every truck heading in to deliver a load had to be weighed and again as they left the facility they were weighed so the government could be billed accordingly. It is estimated that the equivalent of ten years worth of household trash would be delivered to the landfill for each and every home in High River. That means the present site's lifespan has been cut by ten years - another casualty of this calamity.

Just as the town woke up to trucks and cars arriving  - at the end of the day the process was reversed. Many of the big trucks would be parked at a heavy equipment staging area and the operators would join the exodus of volunteers heading home. Joining them would be many homeowners who were unable to live in their homes in their present condition. Back they would go to whatever living arrangements they had found for themselves. These were the lucky ones. They were the ones who owned an RV and had a place to park it. They were the ones with families in the surrounding area. What about the ones who were not so fortunate? They continued to live in the evacuation centers, on cots for beds, with no privacy and few possessions.

In those early evenings we drove around town, checking up on friends homes while digesting the reality what was around us. It was eerily quiet. Such a turnaround from the hive of activity hours before. I started taking a few shots here and there and I thought I really should be documenting all of this but how do you do that when your heart is really not into it? We were almost a ghost town with 75% of the population not living in town through the night.

We were so happy when Tim Horton's managed to set up their own water supply and re-open for business. Another small step on the road of many steps but one that was greatly appreciated. Then Subway re-opened and then Co-op and another and another, one by one, businesses that were not in the downtown core where the devastation was greater, but signs of a return to the "new normal" nonetheless.

The work load faced by townsfolk was and is daunting. It is work better suited to strong young men but there were not enough of them to do it all. Rob went off to help friends with their cleanup and I was left feeling rather futile when the idea came to have different people working on their properties over for supper. The idea being that they needed to get away from the muck and the worry and sit down to a regular dinner, we were able to do that several times before we had the opportunity to host some volunteers from Red Deer who our son was working with in town. David, our eldest, had come from Red Deer to lend a hand in the clean up effort. What a great experience that was, great young people who heard what was happening and took time out of their lives to lend a hand for four days in July to a bunch of strangers down the QEII.

Workers need food! I know the day I helped out Jude I was never so appreciative of lunch than when it arrived after several hours of hot dirty work. I knew I would have to do that myself during the clean up efforts. It was truly humbling to be thanked for a couple of bunwiches, an apple or granola bar and a bottle of water. I was the one thankful for their efforts and yet they were thanking me?

Bit by bit I started to come around and finally one evening I said to Rob that I was ready to take my camera out for an hour before sunset when the traffic had subsided and the frenetic pace of the day had calmed. I'm so glad I did at that time or I never would have got a shot of the twisted mess of railroad tracks that has since been cleaned up and is starting to look somewhat back to it's former state. We toured around for an hour fighting mosquitoes which had hatched by the millions in all the pools and puddles of water left behind from the rains and the flood. I was also glad that I had taken the few shots I did in George Lane park as it is now closed to the public for a cleaning.

Yesterday I walked around downtown with my camera. There is a time when a photo just does not cut it when trying to share an experience like this. Seeing every business, absolutely all businesses spaces empty and stripped to the walls. A photo will not share the aroma, no I should call it what it is - the stink that is everywhere. You don't hear the noise all around you in a photo, the wail of saws, the hum of the massive airmovers and a constant but unidentified pounding.

High River has never had a transit system but we do now. There are three routes that cover the vast majority of the town. I've seen stops at various locations around town and so tomorrow I plan on taking the bus around each of the routes to see what there is to see from that perspective. I am hopeful that each route will only take about an hour to complete and I hope to start about 8:00 a.m.

I have come to a decision with this post - it will be a non-photo blog. It's too long already! But there was so much to share. Tomorrow I will begin putting shots of the disaster together into a posting and I will elaborate on some of the points I touched on here. But for now, for those of you who might read this who do not have a tie to this community it can be very hard to relate to the level of loss that has been experienced. Homes were destroyed, retirements put into question, businesses devastated, jobs lost and any control we thought we had over our lives striped away. In many cases more than one issue per family. Often it was a home lost as well as a business or a job, which in turn put a retirement into question. Years worth of personal memories and mementos were thrown out with the muck and the slime. There may be health implications that will haunt people for the remainder of their lives.

It will be years before this town has been put right. During that time we will fret with every forecast of rain in the spring, we will want to know how high the snow pack in the Highwood watershed is. If we hear of a weather pattern bringing us rain from the northeast and stalling at the mountains we won't sleep because we will be on river watch. There will be questions that need answers on how things were handled throughout this ordeal and I would love to have a voice in that process. But for now writing this has been a healing exercise. If anyone asks me about the flood I will give them a link to this post.

Thank you for all your good wishes, thank you also for your donations to whatever charity you choose for flood support. There are many people here who really need your support now and into the future.

Ta for now,


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/7/flood Sun, 21 Jul 2013 22:21:38 GMT
Frank Lake Round Two https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/4/frank-lake-round-two
DSC_3034 After being snowed on last weekend at Frank Lake I decided to return on Saturday and see what I might have missed that day. There is a wonderful observation blind that stretches out into the water, still within the reeds but with a great view of open water too. I found that if you stay in there long enough a variety of waterfowl will pass through the clearing. In addition there are the birds who have decided to make the area their nesting ground.boardwalk to the observation blindDSC_2889

I went out there solo but I was rarely alone, birders and photographers were constantly passing through the blind. As with any collection of people, some are friendly and eager to talk to strangers and some prefer their own company. I was fortunate as most of these birders were enthusiastic about sharing where and what they have seen. And you know me – always willing to have a chat. birder/photogsDSC_2888

While watching the Canada Geese in the area it quickly became apparent that there was some sort of territorial dispute going on. There seemed to be three couples vying for two nesting mounds. To complicate matters a rather dominant pair were trying to keep both sites for themselves, maybe they were trying to decide which one they wanted to set up housekeeping on. As a result they were pushing the younger, smaller pairs off whichever mound they had temporarily vacated.

house hunting young pair of Canada GeeseDSC_2703 Canada GeeseDSC_2693

It seems the most effective tactic is to make a lot of noise, make yourself appear as large as possible and attack swiftly scaring the would-be squatters off your mound. After the interlopers flee make a tour around the area with your head down and ass up trying to look as sinister and threatening as possible so they think twice about returning. It never really worked because as soon as Mr. & Mrs. Macho returned to nest number one, another attempt would be made at acquiring the vacant nest. DSC_2977

Canada Goose on patrolDSC_2525 American CootDSC_2614

In addition to the geese there were a number of American Coots who seemed to have set up housekeeping in the area. They are a solitary little bird that kept close to the reeds.

As my Birds of Alberta book refers to them "a delightful blend of leftover pieces from other birds: it has the bill of a chicken, the feet of a grebe and the body of a duck".

male Ruddy DuckDSC_2591 While I waited in the blind I was fortunate to observe several varieties of ducks as they passed through the clearing. First up were three Ruddy Duck. The male was a pretty fellow with the bluest of bills. The girls must have thought him handsome since there were two of them following him around.
female Ruddy DuckDSC_2574

Next visitor was a Greater Scaup with his mate. They may have been put off by the constant squabbling of the geese because they did not stay long.

Greater Scaup pairDSC_2748

I was distracted by some bird sounds outside my view from the blind so I left for a moment to check it out – nothing to report, but when I returned, there sitting in the middle of the clearing was a pair of Horned Grebe. What a treat! Horned GrebeDSC_2851


Apparently grebe do an amazing courtship dance and I hope to catch it on (hmm I was going to say on film but of course that would be wrong) I hope to catch it in digital (doesn’t have the same ring).

The pair checked out the area for 5 minutes or so and then they too where on their way. As they swam out to open water I spotted, what I thought at the time, was another horned grebe but it turned out to be an Eared Grebe. It would have been lovely to have him swim in closer but he didn’t so a cropped in image is the best I could do.


While I was bird watching with NO binoculars, a fellow with a mega spotting scope set up shop and was spying on some grebe’s doing "their dance" in the middle of the lake. I had to take his word for it, all I could see was a little dot that turned out to be this Western Grebe when cropped close in.


Western GrebeDSC_2967

Northern ShovelerDSC_3061 I was headed for home when I met a friend who thought he could help me find the courting dancing grebe so I did a quick turn around and headed back out. We didn’t find any dancing grebe but did come upon a couple of hundred Northern Shovelers. I tried to put the sneak on them but they were pretty nervous and I did not get very close before they lifted off – maybe they had been hunted hard before getting back to Canada and our no spring hunting season.

Northern ShovelerDSC_3067

The flashes of blue on the wings made for a striking sight.


There were a number of Canvasbacks on the water who were not nearly as concerned as the shovelers – maybe they had not been shot at on their migration back to the north country.


Marbled GodwitDSC_3151 Marbled GodwitDSC_3168 Marbled Godwit stretching his wingsDSC_3191 Finally our search brought us to a group of Marbled Godwits. We had to hike across a stretch of prairie and I can see I will be needing to purchase a pair of rubber boots if I’m going to be doing much of this kind of birding activity. They were pretty unconcerned about our presence but then we couldn’t get too close due to the marshy conditions. Not sure what they were up to some of these guys were stretching their wings out which showed off a lovely russet colour. Eat, preen, sleep, repeat seemed to sum up their routine.

Black-necked StiltDSC_3201 Last but not least a few Black-necked Stilts. I love that name, with legs like those what else could they be called that would be more descriptive.

And so ended Frank Lake Round Two. Looking forward to round three, four, five etc. I'm sure there will be many more outings there. There are more species yet to arrive home from their time down south - as the local experts were saying the bug eaters have not returned yet due to a lack of food. Even without them there is plenty of activity with lots of species passing through or setting up nests, while still plenty yet to arrive. I am especially looking forward to baby season. I understand watching baby grebes and coots is amazing. Anyone want to join me just give me a shout and we will work it out.

I did pick up another tip – when shooting in less than ideal conditions (it was some kind of windy!) check your lens periodically. It’s easier to keep it clean than to remove unwanted spots on your images from some foreign objects that has attached itself to your glass.

I know sometimes when packing up gear to go out shooting it feels like you've packed up everything but the kitchen sink, nevertheless, consider adding one more item when hoping to photograph birds - a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. They will make your experience much more enjoyable.

Until next time!




[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/4/frank-lake-round-two Mon, 29 Apr 2013 22:16:22 GMT
Frank Lake https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/4/frank-lake It’s been awhile since I was out shooting, the weather has been miserable and I’ve been holed up inside wishing and hoping and waiting for spring. Had a visit to Las Vegas recently and it probably did more harm than good because coming home to cold and drab put me in a weather funk. However, I had signed on to host a group of photographers out at Frank Lake and after one postponement due to weather it was decided to try it regardless of conditions. With that being the case Sunday was committed to a photo shoot.

True to form the weather conditions were, to put it politely, difficult. Grey skies, biting north wind of about 15 - 20 kph, and intermittent snow. Nevertheless eight photogs arrived for the shoot. (I was looking for an adjective to describe them. Choices being – avid, dedicated, or nuts.) I had also invited a friend, who is a passionate and extremely knowledgeable birder, to join us and share some of his knowledge about the area with the "out of towners" who are not familiar with the Frank Lake area, it’s history and it’s amazing wealth of waterfowl species.

BulrushesFrank Lake CattailsFrank Lake
Frank Lake

Greg was crazy enough to arrive as promised and spent the day sharing, teaching and guiding our pack of shooters around the hidden secrets of this amazing place. I’ve got my map and hopefully can find my way back to these locations often throughout the spring (if it ever arrives), summer and fall.

Frank Lake Frank Lake
The reeds provide habitat for an immense number of breeding waterfowl - they teem with life

I have always considered myself a bird lover, song birds especially, it’s easy, put up a feeder in your back yard and watch them from the comfort of your home with a pair of binoculars. There is another kind of bird lover who gets out to where the birds are and learns about their habits and habitat. Oh Lord – have I added another element to my obsession?

I use to see something flying in the distance and ask Rob – ducks or geese? That is kind of like asking of a vehicle on the highway – car or truck? A duck is not just a duck. It might be a Mallard (who doesn’t know them?), but it also might be a Gadwall, or a Wigeon (there are a couple of versions of them – eurasian and american), a Teal (blue-winged or cinnamon), there are Shovelers and Pintails, Canvasbacks and Redheads not to mention Scaups and Scoters, best not miss the Bufflehead, Goldeneye or Mergansers and oops almost forgot the Ruddy Duck. That’s just some of the waterfowl. There are Geese and Swans, Loons and Grebes.

Then there are the shore birds! Oh what have I done, what have I gotten myself into?

Mallards in their fanciest courting coloursFrank Lake Bufflehead still looking for a mateFrank Lake
Frank Lake
Mallards, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye

But enough of my panic attack, back to the topic at hand – Sunday at Frank Lake!

After an informative recap of the history and biology of the area, from the relative comfort of the observation blind, our caravan of vehicles (7 in all) head out on our guided tour. We were treated to the best places to watch and photograph the waterfowl Frank Lake is home to or is a stopping off place to, for the numerous species just passing through to more northerly destinations.

Frank Lake Frank Lake
Frank Lake
These American Avocet cooperated by staying relatively close to shore. The better to shoot!

Whoo whoo are you looking at?Frank Lake

We were even treated to a side trip to view the nest of a Great Horned Owl. Mrs. Owl was home, seated on her future off-spring but did not look very impressed by our visit. I didn’t get a decent shot of her – I’m still trying to master the focus on my camera and could not achieve a sharp image due to the number of twigs and branches between the nest and me. But I saw her watching us watching her and she was either bored or cross, I'm not sure which.

American AvocetFrank Lake

American Avocet

I did learn some more invaluable lessons on this shoot. The first and foremost being to take more layers of clothing than you think you are going to need. You can always take something off but if you don’t have it you can’t put it on.

I pre-selected my camera settings based on the morning conditions and for the most part they worked out. Slightly higher ISO to make up for the low light. Mid range f stop because when shooting a moving target that would give me a great range of things in focus.

I even made adjustments for certain shots and remembered to set things back to the original when done. While that is not a lesson learned on this shoot it served me well that I learned it previously.

If you leave your tripod in the vehicle – you will wish you had it with you. If you lug your tripod over the rough terrain to the place you plan to shoot from you will have no need of it. Set it up and take a shot anyway – you will feel better.

Thanks to Greg Wagner for sharing his time and expertise with a group of strangers on a Sunday morning that stretched into a Sunday afternoon.

Oh and one other thing – make sure you marry a great guy who not only gets the house ready for the possible arrival of a group of strangers for coffee (that doesn’t happen). But also makes a delicious seafood pasta dinner for you when you do arrive home after a 7 hour absence and head straight for the computer to download your days images. Don’t forget to thank him! Which I did - forget I mean. Hopefully he'll read this post and know how much he is appreciated.

Until next time!


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/4/frank-lake Mon, 22 Apr 2013 22:03:56 GMT
Return of the Swans https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/3/return-of-the-swans Another example of why you should let people know what you are up to is what happened on Wednesday. A couple of friends who live in the country let me know where they saw a large flock of swans. Hurrah! The geese are returning, I saw robins the other day and now swans are passing through – Spring is arriving!

We headed out armed with the information on where to head on our swan quest. It didn’t take long and we found them right where we hoped to close to Frank Lake. We are lucky around here to have a place like Frank Lake close by. For those reading this who don’t know about Frank Lake – it is a waterfowl paradise.

Of course whenever you go looking for one thing (like swans) you are likely to spot something else and such was the case today.Horned LarkDSC_1974

Horned Lark

You ever drive along a gravel road and have a nondescript little bird fly up suddenly in front of you? If you’re in Southern Alberta there’s a good chance it was a Horned Lark. The problem is these guys don’t pose. They are there one second and gone the next but today I got lucky and caught this guy perched on a fence post – how awesome for me!

DSC_1986-Edit We found this group in a run off pool reasonably close to a fence line that had an opening so I could walk down to them partially hidden by the grass along the fence. It wasn’t ideal but it beat setting up a blind and sitting in it while I wait for birds that may or may not come by.DSC_2104 DSC_2027

Pair of Tundra SwanDSC_2138-Edit You have to have a certain amount of luck and I certainly had my fair share today as a pair of Tundra Swans left the group and circled around overhead, maybe they were checking me out – I was certainly glad they flew over, whatever their reason.

Running take offDSC_2171 Eventually the majority of the group decided to leave their little pond. I love watching them kick up water as they use a running start for lift off.

DSC_2230 At this watering hole there were a variety of waterfowl. I identified American Wigeons, Mallards, Canada Geese and of course Trumpeter Swans. Not sure if any in this group were Tundra Swans. I post this photo to show the size differences in these birds. Geese are large birds but they are small compared to the swans whose wing span can be as much as 2.4 meters.










Finally after being stuck in the vehicle while I walked out in fields our Springer – Suzie is allowed out for a run. She is so hard to photograph, as soon as she sees the camera she turns away but I managed to get a couple of shots off before she made a hard right turn on me. I don’t know why she is so camera shy – I’m sure she is not in a witness protection program.



And the final sign of Spring - a Richardson’s Ground Squirrel or as we know them a Gopher.

Lessons learned on this shoot? I set my camera on the settings I thought I would find most likely and for the most part they worked well. I did up the ISO at one time to try and get a faster shutter speed. It was a bright day so that should not have been an issue but I was tinkering. Just remember – when you tinker, reset your camera or you may end up with settings not to your liking.

I don’t really have the lens necessary to get really close to wildlife. I tried walking down the road but these cautious creatures kept their distance from me so I had better luck staying in the truck and shooting from the window.

If you take your dog – make sure you have a supply of doggie breath mints – whew that was not nice.


It was a gorgeous day, great subject matter and nothing I would have rather have been doing.

Until next time!



[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/3/return-of-the-swans Sat, 30 Mar 2013 04:14:12 GMT
Expectations https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/3/expectations

What happens when you head into a photo shoot with an expectation in your mind about what you are going to see and shoot and the reality of the event is light years from your expectations?

There is a small log cabin in town that is about to be moved or demolished. It’s located on a main road so if you are heading to the west side of town you are likely to pass by it. It’s quaint and it has always tweaked my curiosity. You know someone lives there, but who and what’s their story. What makes them stay in such a small home, how did they come to live there? What is the history of this place that is so out of time with the other homes in the area?

I got a call the other day from a friend who saw a development notice posted on the property - yes, I am most certainly interested in photographing the place before it’s gone forever. With the help of another friend it comes together that I could possibly have access to the interior of the house as well. Great! My mind races with the possibilities. It’s set. I plan my shoot. I’ve got a grin on my face in the frosty temperatures as I shoot the exterior while waiting to get inside.


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DSC_1914 DSC_1772


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Then the reality of the situation sets in. It’s a disaster, I’m anticipating old dilapidated charm but the truth is so far from anything charming. It’s filth and decay. So sad. I shoot anyway. This was someone’s home, they dreamed their dreams here and made their life here. I must respect that.


Going through the images of the shoot I think to myself – what the hell can I do with these? The exterior has it's charm, It’s from another time, albeit deteriorating due to time and weather. I must look beyond the big picture and seek answers in the details.

DSC_1867-Edit DSC_1840














The living room – what a wonderful window for this room, it is almost the entire length of the room. Look beyond the big picture and focus on the details. In this case it’s not what is inside but what is outside.

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The front door - there are wide gaps around the uneven frame that must have allowed icy winter winds free access to the occupants inside. I focus on the Yale lock, how many nights did it click securely allowing those inside to sleep in peace?

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The bedroom – gone are reminders of the homeowner, nothing left but a few forgotten bits of handmade jewelry and the lacy window coverings that tell me someone once cared for this place.

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The bathroom – when this home was built indoor plumbing was probably non-existent. The demolition has already begun here and little of this place remains to document.



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The kitchen – once the heart of the home, but now the heart is gone from this place and only distant memories of it remain. It may have been cute in it's day, with sunlight shining in through the generous window. Now the light is filtered through layers of accumulated grunge and what does make it’s way into the room only serves to light some long forgotten pay records and the decay that has befallen this place.



Lesson one I’ve gotten into the habit of reviewing my camera settings as I prepare to set out on a shoot based on the light and conditions of the day. This shoot though involved a significant change of conditions, outside to inside and hand held to using a tripod. Unfortunately, I did not turn off the Vibration Reduction setting on my lens when I started using the tripod – mistake! VR should only be used when hand holding.

Lesson two keep an open mind about where you are headed and what you are likely to see. It will help to minimize disappointments.

Lesson three not all images need to be pretty pictures. Pictures need to tell a story and maybe the ones that are harder to achieve tell a more powerful story.

Lesson four don’t judge, you don’t know the whole story.

What happens when you head into a photo shoot with an expectation in your mind about what you are going to see and shoot and the reality of the event is light years from your expectations? You carry on and make the best you can of your situation. Something I heard with regards to sports may also apply here, you learn more from a tough game, one in which you are challenged rather than in one that is an easy win.

Until next time!



[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) decay grunge old https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/3/expectations Sun, 24 Mar 2013 04:31:18 GMT
Snowy Owls https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/3/snowy-owls

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to go out shooting Snowy Owls. What cool birds they are! These guys summer on the arctic tundra, so they are not as reclusive during the day as other owls, Your chance of seeing one during the daylight hours are greatly improved. Thanks to Tim Lee for inviting some fellow photogs out and sharing his knowledge on the hows and wherefores of shooting this amazing creature. Lots of lessons learned on this outing.

The day started early as we had to meet up in NE Calgary at 7:30 a.m. We didn't know if the weather would co-operate but we headed in to the city anyway and I'm sure glad we did. We joined a convoy of five vehicles, headed east of the city and it wasn't long before our first owl was spotted. Seeing five vehicles coming to a stop along the road convinced him it was time to leave. Rob was driving for me and as you may know, he's a hunter, so we gave chase! I got some terrible shots and we lost our convoy in the process.


The chase was on! But given that we were restricted to the road and this fellow had the freedom to go wherever he choose we didn't stand a chance. Besides you really don't want to cause anxiety to any critters as you try to photograph them.

We tried to find our group again, to no avail. That may have been for the best as we learned throughout the morning these owls are a pretty cautious breed. We drove up and down range roads and township roads, keeping in mind what Tim had shared with me - Snowy Owls seem to like power poles rather than trees or fence posts and true to his information that was generally where we spotted them throughout the day. Perched on a mass of old strawDSC_1480

I kept thinking, if I were an owl where would I like to be and the answer I came up with was - where the food is.

Whoo wants to take my picture?DSC_1484

We came upon this guy quite suddenly, not on a power pole or a fence post. Possibly he had just finished his lunch of one of the mice that I'm sure habituate this mess of old straw. I spotted him and called out to Rob who stopped as soon as possible and then backed up into a road approach to the farm yard. I had the window down and was firing off a number of shots as we came to a stop. I had already learned to stay in the vehicle if at all possible because the owls seem less concerned about your presence if you stay in your vehicle but open a door and they are gone. He tolerated me for a moment or two but just as I was about to try composing a shot instead of firing frantically, he flew off.

Thanks to the power of the crop tool and the extra pixels my D600 offers I was able to get an image that seemed a lot closer than I actually was.

By this time the snow was falling and the wind was blowing. We would soon be in the grip of a good old prairie blizzard. Shooting while it's snowing offers a whole new set of challenges. Can see the grey spots on the above image? That snow can fool your camera's auto focus into focusing on the wrong thing. If time were not a factor while setting up my shot I would have been better to manual focus but I was not confident enough to make the change in my settings on the fly. I was using an ISO of 400 (it was a grey, dimly lit day) and an aperture of 5.6 with an exposure compensation of +.07 as the recommended settings provided by Tim at the start of the day, hoping to get a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 of a second. Upon reflection I should have tried a higher ISO, my camera is suppose to be able to go higher without the troublesome noise associated with high ISO. That may have allowed me to close down the aperture a stop or two which in turn may have made for a slightly crisper shot. Will you annoying people never leave?DSC_1524

He kept a close eye on us at all times while flying from perch to perch.

Our final encounter with a Snowy Owl this day came when we were working our way back home. This time we spotted one perched on a telephone pole, unfortunately it was on the wrong side of the road for me. We tried to put the sneak on him but as soon as we got to within the space between two poles he left his perch and flew back to another pole a few behind us. Since we had the road to ourselves we backed up to try to get a closer shot. Again, as soon as we got to within the space between two poles he flew off again. This time back to his original perch. Was he playing with us? We drove forward again and back again. Rob even tried getting the shot from the driver's side window. Enough of this says I, as I jumped out of the truck and fired off a few hail Mary shots at him as he flew by for the last time. He seemed to look over and say If you guys don't leave I will just go park myself out in this field. Which he did.

Winter roadsDSC_1552-Edit

We had headed for home by the time things got too nasty. The last hour or so on the road was a little nerve wracking and I was very happy to get home. I jumped out to get this shot and could hardly get back into the truck the wind was blowing so hard against the door. We were familiar with the roads we were on and had both packed extra clothes in case anything went wrong so we were fine but I would not have wanted to be traveling much farther on this day.

This won't be my one and only attempt at capturing images of Snowy Owls, I may even get another chance on Friday!

Lessons learned this time out?

  • Spread the word what you are up to, you never know when someone has the information you need.
  • Sharing knowledge is a good thing! On this outing I was once again shooting something that was new to me, but I was helped by another photographer who was generous enough to share the knowledge and expertise he had gained through trial and error, what a savings in time that was for me.

Until next time

Ta for now, Cathy


[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/3/snowy-owls Wed, 06 Mar 2013 18:22:13 GMT
Wrestlng https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/2/wrestlng In light of the IOC decision to rethink whether wrestling will remain a competition in the Olympic Games, visiting the Rural Provincial Wrestling Tournament held in High River this past weekend made me wonder where their heads are. I've always enjoyed an event that brings kids together in a positive environment like this. Isn't this so much better than hanging out at a mall all weekend?

As I said in my last blog, being familiar with the event one is planning to shoot and familiar with the equipment you plan on using is very helpful. My daughter was a wrestler in high school so I had been to a few tournaments and felt I had a pretty good understanding of the sport. I am still learning about my camera, however, and was unable to make necessary changes as quickly as I would have liked. Although I felt I was familiar with the sport, I soon learned that shooting wrestling is decidedly different than watching it from the stands.

Wrestling is an incredibly intense sport and it was to capture and share a sense of that intensity that was my objective with this shoot.

looking for controlDSC_1083










During the times competitors are grappling with each other, wrestling could lure you into thinking it is a slow moving sport. Don't let looks deceive you, it is anything but slow. The times when combatants are vying for position are a battle of will and patience. Then BLAM, there is a flurry of action and the entire match can be over. You have to be ready at all times because when there is action, it is intense.


How to get out of this?DSC_1044 Wrestling is interesting in that it is a solo sport participated in with your team. You could end up competing against someone from your own squad. DSC_1008 There is a place for everyone on a wrestling team who is willing to learn and train. No one is too big or too small, there might be a smaller number of competitors in a weight category but there will be a category that fits all sizes.


There's no one to pick up the slack if you make a mistake, you screw up and you are most likely pinned. Game over.













A wrestler better have a pretty high pain tolerance because it looks like it could get painful out on that mat.










DSC_0953 DSC_0973





















Matches consist of two rounds of two minutes each. That may not seem like long but even though these competitors are highly trained you can see the exhaustion appear in their eyes as a grueling bout winds down. Sometimes you can see the defeat appear in their eyes as well due to the sheer exhaustion of it all.





















Preparing mentally for a bout can be equally challenging.


QuotesDSC_0992 I enjoyed the quotes many wrestlers wore on their clothing. It says to me that the mental game or the motivational tactics a coach employs may be an important element in a wrestler's preparation.

VolunteersDSC_0993 No tournament is successful without a body of volunteers. This young man was absorbed in the action, better not miss the points signaled by the official!













This shot quickly became my favourite of the day. I loved that I was lucky enough to catch his eyes looking at the ref, "Do I have the pin?" He seems to be asking. Does he?















Gym lighting is certainly one of the major challenges in a shoot like this. I boosted my ISO as high as I was comfortable with and kept the aperture wide open to get as much light in to the sensor as possible, of course then I had a shallow depth of field. I thought the faster shutter speeds that afforded me would help produce good, sharp, stop action images. While that was the case in some of the shots it did not always work out that way.  The shallow depth of field was problematic when I got a blurry elbow or foot but also beneficial when a busy background was rendered less distracting.  I expected a bad colour cast on these images due to the lighting but the camera (Nikon D600) did a really good job with the white balance. There seemed to be a pinkness to many of the images that needed to be toned down in Lightroom.

No one seemed overly concerned that I was walking around taking pictures and I didn't bother to obtain model releases. It was a public event after all but I guess I should have been prepared with them in case I got a shot that was one of those one in a million clicks. Another lesson to take to another shoot.

Thanks for stopping by! Until next time Happy Shooting.

Ta for now, Cathy

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/2/wrestlng Fri, 01 Mar 2013 05:39:11 GMT
Ice Climbers https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/2/ice-climbers I've been participating with a couple of Meet Up groups in an effort to get out shooting more often. One of the challenges of non-studio photography is finding locations, topics and company. Joining a photography group helps on all counts. On Saturday I joined an outing to Banff's Johnston Canyon to shoot ice climbers. With any sporting shoot it helps if you have seen the sport before or are familiar with the area, in this case I was neither.

The day started early, 5:30 to be exact, but to be fair 5:30 isn't all that early for a photographer looking for great morning light in May, but this is still February. A coffee from Tim's (it is Roll Up the Rim season) and I'm on the road in to Calgary. After meeting a few more more shooters it was off to Banff. We arrived at the trail head, geared up, and headed out.

After an icy experience at Elbow Falls a few weeks ago I knew I did not want to challenge a mountain trail without some ice grippers. A pair of YakTrax from MEC did the job for me. Also, thanks to Ian who offered me a walking pole, wow, those things are great. I'll be putting a set of them on my wish list.

The National Park Service does a great job of making nature accessible and the trail up to the falls, while snow packed, was wide and had railings in all the places that needed them. It was also built out from the canyon edge in places that would have otherwise been near impassable for any others than mountain goats.

Lower FallsDSC_1253










The Lower Falls, where I had thought we were headed, was a lovely 1.1 km walk, but alas, there would be no climbers challenging the ice formations on those falls. The Upper Falls were another 1.6 km up the trail. So after a brief photo op it was back to hiking.










Along the trail to Upper FallsDSC_1274 A million visitors make the trek to the falls annually and it seemed a goodly number of them were on the trail this day. I overheard a group at one viewpoint discussing heading back thinking they had arrived at the Upper Falls and had seen all there was to see. I told them the Upper Falls was still ahead but some in the group were about done in. Just then another group arrived at our location from the other direction, they told us the Falls was only another block and a half. Good news! After telling them to expect ice climbers up there they decided to carry on. What a shame it would have been for them to turn back when the final destination was so close. And what a destination it was.

A short ways further and we were at the Upper Falls. True to what we had heard, ice climbers were scaling the falls.

Ice climbers on the Upper Falls of Johnston CanyonJohnston Canyon Pano What a rush that must be! Thirty metres of frozen water over several routes with varying degrees of difficulty on which to practice their sport. As well as the sound of rushing water beneath the ice constantly in their ears

Access to the starting point.DSC_1348









Access to the falls base for the climbers is to scramble over the view point railing, step down onto a narrow edge of rock (hard enough in regular footwear but try it in ice spikes!) and a further drop of almost 2 meters. Don't want to miss that first step.







Half way up with plenty of climb leftDSC_1330













You may have spotted these guys on the large shot of the falls a few pics ago but it would have been easy to miss them. They were just right of centre about two thirds of the way up the ice. Check it out.








Looking for a toe holdDSC_1334 Looking for a pick holdDSC_1295













Looking for a toehold by kicking at the ice, or digging a notch for an ice pick to cling to can cause chunks of ice to come hurtling down on your climbing partner below. The first time I heard "ICE" called out it certainly got my attention. The clatter of ice bouncing off the walls and splashing into the pool below were a reminder of what could happen to one of these ice wall dare devils.

Veterans of the ice climbsDSC_1395 Time for lunch and a rest but never really relaxing as these guys keep an intent eye on the "kids" on the ice.

The holders turn to climbDSC_1447









After his partner achieved the top and secured the ropes it was his turn. No one to pelt with falling ice cubes below him and the path somewhat laid out for him, this looks a little less intimidating. Really? Maybe just a tad safer.











Tools of the tradeDSC_1376 I like to call this one "tools of the trade" waiting for their turn to dig into the ice and scale the frozen falls.

I've not been much of a hiker in the past but this outing has whetted my appetite for other experiences like this. I learned some valuable lessons about both hiking and photography on this trek. One is to know your equipment before you start out, I learned this one the hard way with my camera pack. It's heavy and awkward to get on and off - guess you get what you pay for and this one was free. My new camera is too heavy to sling around my neck for 5 km so another system to carry it will have to be investigated. I carried a water bottle but did not hydrate nearly often enough and paid the price the next day. I also packed a snack which I did not eat - another mistake. Feed and water your body if you are asking extra of it. The nice thing about hiking in Banff is there are lots of options for dining when you are done and ready for a meal.

Thanks for stopping by. I'll be blogging about my photo outings, things I hear about that I find interesting and hope you may too, and tips and tricks I learn. More images from this outing can be found in my Johnston Canyon gallery. Feel free to look around, leave me a comment, or just say Hi!

Ta for now! Cathy

[email protected] (C.J. Bennington Fine Art Photography) https://www.cjbenningtonphotography.ca/blog/2013/2/ice-climbers Mon, 25 Feb 2013 00:19:49 GMT