Backpacking Limestone Lakes in Height of the Rockies

Limestone lakes in Height of the Rockies Provincial park is without a doubt one of the most incredible backcountry venues I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.

Limestone lakes in Height of the Rockies Provincial park is without a doubt one of the most incredible backcountry venues I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. It’s remote and difficult to get to location also keeps the flocks of tourist and backcountry users at bay. For good reason, route finding and proficient gps experience is required. Moreover, it’s prime grizzly country. I experienced my worst bear encounter on this trip.

On day one we followed a trail about 10km to our first cowboy camp. The trail runs parallel along the adjacent river most of the way up the valley. Then second day we ascended above the tree line. There’s an option to navigate around a large ridge line, but w-e opted to gain the ridge and then loose elevation on the other side. We thought the views might be worth it, and we were rewarded for our optimism.

After a full second day of bushwhacking and navigating limestone cliffs, we finally arrived at the stunning lookout above Limestone Lakes.

We spent another two nights at Limestone Lakes. The extra time and lighter packs afforded us the opportunity to explore the area a little more. We spend much of the third day swimming in the lake and enjoying the sun. We lucked out with weather, there was hardly a cloud in the sky the entire trip. The fourth day we hiked back out of the alpine lakes area and descended back into the valley below. We opted to go around the ridge climb, saving our legs for the 25km trek back to our vehicle.

Photos and words by Ryan Richardson.

Michelle Lakes via Owen Creek to Pinto lake Backpacking adventure

There are few hidden gems in the Canadian Rockies yet to be discovered by many. Michelle Lakes is one of those gems.

There are few hidden gems in the Canadian Rockies yet to be discovered by many. Michelle Lakes is one of those gems. Upper Michelle lakes is only 11 or so km from the trailhead on the David Thompson highway in Clearwater County. The Michelle Lakes trail via Owen Creek is also part of the Great Divide Trail (GDT) which is a 1,130 km trail that essentially runs the length of the Canadian Rockies north to south, following roughly the continental divide.

The 50 km section of trail we tackled on this trip began at the Owen Creak trail head through Michelle Lakes, Pinto Lake, and ending at Norman creek Trailhead along the Icefields Parkway (highway 93n).

The elevation gained climbing towards Michelle Lakes is the highest point of the entire 1,130 km GDT. The altitude and it’s proximity to neighbouring icefields along the Icefields Parkway – not to mention Wilson glacier – makes for a really small hiking season here. Our camp fell to nearly -10 degrees the first night. We woke up to frozen puddles around our tents.

Michelle Lakes boats one of the most magnificent backcountry venues I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. Our small group of five were the only hikers there that night. We climbed over the unnamed pass the next morning and headed into the next valley before ascending and descending the next pass leading to Pinto Lake.

The hiking from Michelle Lakes to Pinto lake is all world class. Climbing up unnamed passes and in the shadow of some of the biggest mountains in the Canadian Rockies. We set camp at Pinto Lake for the night before eventually making our way out towards the Icefields Parkway where we had arranged a pickup.

There is another way to approach Michelle Lakes. The alternative route is a more gradual climb and apparently just as scenic. I’ll definitely be returning to Michelle Lakes again next summer and when I do, I’ll try it from the other valley over.

– Photos and words by Ryan Richardson

Your Hashtags are Giving Companies Permission to Steal Your Photos AND Copyrights

Find out how you are unknowingly giving away the copyrights of your photos to be used by the brands you admire.

User Generated Content.

If you make on honest living as a creative, you’ve probably learned to loathe the term “user generated content”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this new marketing term… User generated content is content that is published online by an end user, and then gets republished. Often republished from commercial entities like tourism boards, hotels, and clothing or equipment brands.

Pre instagram, commercial organizations would allot a percentage of their earnings to be spent on marketing. Then a fraction of that marketing budget would be assigned to hiring a professional photographer or filmmaker. Said photographer or filmmaker would be commissioned to create a marketing campaign specifically tailored to the brands vision.

They’re stealing the one thing no photographer would ever sell too.

Today, in large, commercial companies have worked out a way to legally steal your photographs, instead of hiring you to create them. They’re not just stealing your photos either. They’re actually stealing the one thing a photographer would never ever sell, the copyrights to their photographs.

How they’re doing it.

They’re counting on you basically being too lazy to look at the fine print. All of these companies have their terms pertaining to user generated content hidden deep inside their websites. Not on Instagram where they intend to steal your work. Definitely not in plain site either.

The paragraph below is a screenshot from the outdoor apparel brand Fjallraven. This is their “terms and conditions” for user submissions. User submissions is what they consider to be anyone whom tags their account or uses their companies hashtags. The hashtags they promote and encourage everyone to use to “share their adventurers.”.

Here’s the important bit.

In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and warrant that you own and have the right to assign and transfer to Fjällräven, without permission or consent of any third party, all right and interest in the User Submissions and in the intellectual property, and any other proprietary right, contained therein without limitation.

C. By tendering the User Submissions to Fjällräven, you warrant, represent and agree that all intellectual property rights contained in the User Submissions, including all copyright, trademark, trade secret, and any other proprietary rights are thereby assigned and transferred to Fjällräven without any further documentation and that Fjällräven shall thereafter be the sole and exclusive owner of the User Submissions and of all intellectual property rights and proprietary rights contained there without exception or limitation.

By tendering the User Submissions, you warrant, represent and agree that Fjällräven shall have the sole and exclusive right of use of any and all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to the User Submissions without limitation.

I’ll break that down.

In other words, all you need to do to “submit” your photo, and give Fjallraven complete ownership of your intellectual property, is to to post an image on your account and use their hashtag. #fjallraven and #natureiswaiting.

Most users hashtag their favourite brands as a way to share photos in their niche community.

Since all these organizations have learned that users are so keen to share their photos with them to be republished. It’s made exploiting users even further just as easy. Now, instead of just sharing your photos and basically acquiring free social media marketing. These companies are stealing your copyrights so they can use your stolen photos for all of their marketing needs.

They used my photos for facebook ads and marketing ads.

I used Fjallraven’s hashtag on Instagram. Instead of simply sharing my photos on their accounts. I found them running Facebook ads and marketing ads with them. I’ve had work stolen before. So I promptly sent their marketing a cease and desist letter. The letter stating they had the option to pay for the photos they were using, or to immediately stop advertising with them.

This was the response I received:

This is one company among thousands and thousands.

I’m picking on Fjallraven because they’re the only company I have personal experience with. However, I’ve since taken the time to research other brands who encourage their users to hashtag them. I won’t list them all here because the list goes is infinite.

I can guarantee you that most of the hashtags you’re using right now are giving permission to random companies to take your copyright. Making money from your intellectual property and unique vision.

Stop using hashtags by companies, tourism boards, hotels, etc.

User generated content is saving massive corporations millions of dollars on marketing every single year. Instagram is now the largest advertising platform in the world. Thanks to us photographers who simply want to share our memories, favourite travel moments, or online portfolios. Now commerce and greed has followed close behind.

Your work has value. Know the value and charge what you’re worth. Most importantly, protect your assets. If you’re a photographer, your most important assets are your photographs and your intellectual property.

8 Outdoor Photographers You Should be Following

Here are 8 outdoor photographers you should be following, photographers that provoke questions like “Where in the world is this?”, “How was this captured!”.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably always keep an eye out for inspiring images that provoke questions like; “How the hell did she take this?”, “Where in the world is this?”, “Why have I never seen this before?”. Here are 8 outdoor photographers you should be following, photographers that provoke those questions.

Zach Baranowski

Zach Baranowski is a breath of fresh air when scrolling through your feed in search of outdoor photography inspiration. The ever popular “moody” or “doom and gloom” vibe that is massively popular on social media can be such a drag. Zach’s approach to his nature photography is intentionally warm, vibrant, and hopeful. Zach’s photography is the solution to everything wrong that you’re seeing on Instagram right now.

Instagram Feed.

Alex Buisse

Alex Buisse manages to make me ask this question to myself every single day… “Why I’m not living in Chamonix, France”? Alex’s adventures in the mountains around Chamonix are seriously intense. The coolest part about his day to day adventures are the epic photos that he manages to capture along the way. Alex’s outdoor photography will have you booking a flight to Chamonix, France in no time.

Instagram feed.

Tim Banfield

Tim Bandfield’s photos have the ability to transport you through time and space. Placing you right in the middle of the action, at the precise moment in time where he pressed the shutter release of his camera. Tim is not only an incredibly talented photographer. He’s also a strong athlete who actively participates in the activities that he’s shooting. It’s not enough to be an observer. Tim really throws himself into the middle of the chaos, and refuses to put his camera away when conditions get tough. Tim Banfield is an outdoor photographer you should be following.

Instagram feed.

Myke Hermsmeyer

If you’ve ever picked up an Outside Magazine, Trail Runner Mag, or if you follow basically any pro ultra-runner, chances are, you’ve seen Myke Hermsmeyer’s outdoor photography. Myke manages to make “event coverage” look like a million dollar commercial photoshoot. Myke’s ability to cover realtime events in extremely inhospitable environments is seriously impressive.

instagram feed.

Ian Corless

Sometimes photographers wish they could be a “fly on the wall”. This isn’t the case for Ian Corless. Ian would rather run up a mountain, and throw himself right into the middle of the action. Ian’s unique understanding and experience in the sport that he shoots, gives him unparalleled insight. That insight, combined with his vision, creates absolutely stunning imagery.

Read: Ian Corless Getting the Shot

Jeff Skalla

I just discovered Jeff Skalla, and I’m really stoked about it. I’ve been binging on his photos, wishing that I was back in Utah! Most of Jeff’s work features athletes bouldering all over beautiful landscapes in the South-west. I really like how Jeff posts his RAW images beside his final images. It’s really a unique look behind the lens. The original RAW photos reveal a “behind-the-scenes” perspective into what Jeff was seeing when he created the photos.

Mathis Dumas

Mathis Dumas is badass. He’s often summiting massive peaks and flying off mountains, I mean, literally flying off of them. Dumas has a really well rounded mix of beautiful mountain portraits, intense high action adventure shots, and really surreal “in-between” moments. The in-between moments that Mathis captures in his outdoor photography are among my favourite photos.

Instagram feed.

Philipp Reiter

Philipp Reiter, making adventures in the mountains fun again. Reiter is an ultra-runner turned photographer. Philipp seems to have just as much fun running the races, as he does photographing them. However, As the seasons change in the mountains, the sports that Reiter shoots inevitably do as well; running, turns into skiing. No matter the sport though, Philipp always manages to capture moments in the outdoors beautifully.

Read: Philipp Retier Getting the Shot.

Who are some other outdoor photographers that make you want to grab your camera and throw yourself at the outdoors? Let us know below!

Ian Corless Getting the Shot

“I think one of the key elements of my photography works is that I never just stand on the trail and take photographs.” – Corless

Ian Corless Getting the Shot

An Introduction to Ian Corless.

It would be impossible to introduce Ian Corless, and describe his passion for photography and his approach to getting the shot, as well as his involvement with ultra running better than Killian Jornet’s words in Corless’ book Running Beyond

To quote Jornet:

Ian Has been there to witness the stories. He knows the sport, he practices it and he has been involved involved in many different aspects of it, all of which provides him with a great overview. He has the strength and the character to work many hours, even practicing his own ultra with cameras in order to to capture the emotions and the passion from inside the sport. Ian’s photographs convey the passion of the sport, and the beauty of his images immerse you in the aura of each race. We are able to feel what the runners have felt, and it is the closest you will get without being there yourself.  – Killian Jornet

Running Beyond takes you on an epic visual journey.

Corless’ book Running Beyond, is jam packed with stunning mountain scenery and visceral emotions from runners as they experience the highs and the lows of running in these extreme environments. Corless manages to grab the reader and take them along on a journey to some of the most beautiful mountain and desert landscapes on earth. From the high mountains of the Himalayas, to the deserts of Africa. Ian’s book truly gives you a taste of what it might be like to run in these remote destinations.

Runner running through prayer flags on mountain.

How do you prepare to get ‘the’ shot?

I think one of the key elements of my photography works is that I never just stand on the trail and take photographs. I research races, I look at maps, decide on the best places to capture an image. Often, it can take me 2, 3, 4 or more hours to reach a location to get the best shots. One must commit to the shots and seek the best. I’m very demanding at a race and hard on myself to get the best I possibly can.

Runner runs through river while soaking wet.

I’d love to learn a little bit more about that process. How you’re not just a bystander, but an active participant.

I come from a racing background so I understand the dynamic of the action. The best and unique shots come when you work for them. Also, you get a shot that nobody else gets. You get out of a race what you put in. Like I said, research on the course. Try understanding the best places for images, and then commit to getting there. That may mean less shots in a race, but I go for quality over quantity.

Runner approaches cliff on mountain side.

What are some visual aesthetics you look for when creating an image at a race?

While the runner is important, often, the landscape is equally if not more important. When you combine a great runner with a great landscape, you have a winning combination. I often like to provide perspective, show how small the runner is within the place they are running. You also need blood, sweat and tears. For that, you need to get close.

Two runners race up mountain with sand dunes in background.

What advice would you give to a photographer who want’s to photograph these athletes and destinations?

Get out and shoot. Understand the sport, understand the dynamics, and research. You can start by doing any sporting event to initially master the skills required. It so much more than any one thing though.

All images by Ian Corless and used with permission.

To read more in our series of “getting the shot” visit Life Outside.