DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

going back to the well

I’ve shot this building
many, many times. Some days I find it just mesmerizing, like a giant bug eye.



The Cobalt at night

Hi friends,

The sky was crazy last night. Since the Cobalt is crazy every night, it seemed a natural subject.


buy a canvas)


September Wallpaper -Canvas

Hi friends,

I was so stoked on the response to the free wallpaper calendar that we did this month that I decided to go ahead and offer it up as a 36x24 inch canvas! First of all I had to order one myself to make sure that it was going to be up to a high enough standard for all of you all. It looks even better than I imagined so I’m very proud to bring it to you now.

I made a sales page up HERE so take a look and remember, Christmas is coming soon!

Here is how it looks on my wall:


And this is the original image.


Vancouver photo on canvas. Leaves, trees, fall, forest, autumn, north vancouver, north shore, sale,

Some more.

When you get a new system you have to shoot a lot, just to get used to the ergonomics and functionality. Sometimes this creates crap, and sometimes it creates greatness.





Walkin around

Some photos from this morning. A really low tide in False Creek.


flower water
break time
coast line
piling on.
lost at sea?

best looking dumpster in town.

Busy weekend, not too much to say.



On luck.

Hi friends,

I think that if you are tall, naturally thin, or super handsome/pretty, then you are lucky. Also, being born in Vancouver is lucky, (of course, I’m biased). What these things have in common, is that you have absolutely no control over them. Good genes? Sure, but you don’t get to make that call in utero, it just happens, and you are lucky. Here are some things that are not lucky:

-Nailing a picture of a snowboarder in mid spin as he stomps a trick first try in fresh powder.

-Getting a job with a fearless company, doing something really unique and interesting.

-Spending time in a tropical destination doing things that you love.

These are all things that have been part of my life, and time and again I’ve been accused of being extremely lucky. I will concede this: I was lucky to be born where I was and I was very lucky to move to a mountain town just as snowboarding was gaining traction. But you know what? 2 thousand people moved to that town that year. Not to mention the hundred other ski towns that thousands of people moved to that season. And that many again the next. Were we all lucky then?

Good luck is when something positive happens TO you, and you have absolutely no control over it.

When something really positive happens in your life, and it is a result of planning, preparedness, and foresight, that isn’t luck. I think that “unlucky” people have often been right in the crosshairs of “luck”, but failed to be “lucky”. Why is that? Because “lucky” takes balls.
Often times, six months before you become “lucky” you are presented with a decision that is “terrifying”. The difference between the people who find the luck and those who don’t then, is often intuition and courage. It takes a lot of nerve to take a chance on something instead of sticking with what is time tested and proven. It takes a different kind of thinking to drop everything to chase a dream for a while. You have to be prepared for the worst, have a good plan, and then work like your life depends on it. Just to be lucky.

People often remark to photographers “you must have a really good camera.” They have the best intention, but this is pretty insulting to us because it equates the quality and value of your work to a purchased item of equipment. Professional photographers have professional cameras, but often that is a function of durability and ease of use as much as anything else. These days there are hundreds of consumer cameras that take pictures as good as professional cameras, they just may not last as long.

That’s why I find the “lucky” tag to be insulting.
I’ve taken so many chances in my life, and some of them have worked out spectacularly, but sometimes I’m unemployed, running out of money, and feeling creatively bankrupt. Nobody is calling me lucky then. I have been told time and again that I’m lucky to spend so much time in Roatan, diving several times a day in a tropical paradise. Well that luck has come with a price tag too, (try to maintain a normal career when you disappear for months at a time!) but I just nod and suggest that “you should try it, all it takes is to go there.”

With the exception of where I was born and a few other minor details, I’ve made my luck with risk taking, hard work, and a self reliance and intuition that I value more every day. Finally, a quote attributed to the American film producer Samuel Goldwyn:

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Right time, right place? Sometimes you just have to be in the right place and hang around long enough for it to be the right time.

Fishing the Sakgit, again.

When we made plans to go fish this Saturday, the forecast was for rain. I packed TWO rain jackets the night before.

The river had different plans for us. We awoke to a few clouds and as the day went on it got warm, the sun shone, and it was as nice a day as anyone could expect on the river. I went with a Jon, a John, and a Lisa, more people than I’m used to fishing with on a river, but we kept out of each others way for the most part, and had a perfect day fishing. I got another big Dolly, had another spit the fly, had a big rainbow spit the fly but managed to fool a half dozen or so of his brothers. I didn’t think there were any cutthroat left in the Skagit, but there were clearly orange marks on a fish I got later in the day.

One of the coolest things that happened all day was running into snorkelers doing a fish count. I’ve always heard of this happening on various rivers (in fact I’ve always wanted to do it) but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. These guys cover 7 kms a day in water that is between 4 and 7 degrees! When they go through a pool, they make little “beep” noises through the snorkel every time they see a fish. They mark their slates and every so often dump the data to the other guy on shore. We talked to them for quite awhile and found out that they are contracted by the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission in partnership with the BC Ministry of the
Environment. What we learned was that the rainbows we are catching are the normal sized fish for the upper Skagit and that there are very few larger ones, but they are there. The population of Dollys is growing and the average size is too. There are huge char in that river and lots of them. In one run that is less than 100 yards long they counted 80 fish. Whoa.

As amazing as this river is, I can only imagine what it was like before they dammed it and it had runs of salmon and steelhead. It could have been one of the best Flyfishing rivers in the world. I hate dams. But i like cheap electricity.

At the end of the day, we were packed up and driving home, the sun was setting and it was starting to get cloudy. Just as we left the gravel and hit the pavement the first drops hit the windshield. By the time we hit Highway 1 West, it was pouring rain. We got lucky today.

Ok, enough words, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.


We drove out under an amazing sunrise. 20100911_0058
John, hittin’ the water
Nice drift.
Lisa working out the rust.
Thanks for the info guys!
Signs of Fall are showing up.
One Jon.
And a John.
Jon gets stealthy.
Lisa casts into the deep pool.
John puts a nice tight cast where he wants it.
Lisa brings a nice bow in.
This was a BIG dolly. Smart too, wrapped her around some roots and broke off.
Jon gets into one.
Look at the big ugly stonefly nymph!
Too bad about the crappy scenery
A SERIOUSLY beautiful river.
Jon plays one more.
Location is everything...

random shots

Hello friends,

Just going through some shots from the last few days and thought I should share. There was a super crazy sky here two nights ago and after looking at
this shot I pulled out a couple of mine. I came outside a little later and watched as the neon tones faded, there was so much crazy tone in the sky after.

the park


I took the Zeiss Sonnar 90mm out on a walk yesterday. Not much was going on so I was just trying to get really good focus, handheld. It worked out pretty well. I guess I’m getting more used to it. I think the EVF would help a lot because you aren’t holding the camera steady 20 cms from your face in mid air. But then, you have a bigger system.


Finally, the
Cirque left my hood this week. This one is from a lil ways back, some workers up on the top of the tent, taking a break. My wife pointed out this shot. She has a good eye.

Have a good day.



Switch: Canon G9 to Panasonic GF1

From Canon G9 to Panasonic GF1

warning: this blog contains photo geekery, pictures of flowers and real opinions.

I loved my Canon g9. I shot the hell out of that camera. In fact, I bought a spare, that’s how much I loved it. I walked around with it all the time, bought an underwater housing for it and found myself falling in love with photography again, largely as a result of having a very versatile and capable camera with me at all times.

After a couple years of non-stop use though, I started to see some of its limitations and when I started to see the reviews of the micro four thirds cameras, with their relatively large sensor and ability to use high quality lenses, I felt the very real pangs of camera envy growing.

I read review after review, dug out my old Contax G2 with its 45mm f2 and 90mm f2.8, read reviews of all the adapters, looked at shots and video clips and opinions on message boards…I obsessed. Then after I got home from Sweden this year, I pulled the trigger. I ordered the GF1 with the 20mm f1.7 and the 7-14 f4 from
“The Camera Store” in Calgary. I like supporting a small non-chain camera shop, and the fact that they support my friend Mark Gallup clinched it for me. The price was as good as I could find in Canada and from the time I hit the “buy” button until the time it was in my hands was about 4 days. My review of “The Camera Shop” is 10 out of 10.

So you get a new camera…what next? Charge the battery, read just enough of the manual to take a picture, and shoot the first thing you come across. I walked out on the deck, cranked the 20mm wide open and shot the garden. Then I shot the dog. Then I took some video. I’m sure you know this story. I worked my way through the ISO settings, shot inside and out, checked the close focus distance and started to download the shots to take a peek.

The 20mm, wide open at 1.7, 1/1600th ISO 100. Looks pretty good eh?
100% crop of the above image with no sharpening, noise reduction or whatever. Hmmm. Nice.
This is what my patio looks like with the 7-14 on 7mm, f4, 1/2000. Note the interesting distortion and fabulous teak patio furniture.

My computer didn’t recognize the rw2 files. I use CS3 and bridge. I like it, don’t try to convert me. I’m happy. I used to be able to download, rename, convert to .dng and add metadata all in one step, but obviously I was going to have to change my workflow. After some tinkering I figured out how to convert to .dng, and realized that for my needs, mpeg was going to be way easier to deal with than avhdc codec for video format. So now my downloading takes a little longer. The “Silkypix” included software has a smattering of followers and supporters so I downloaded it, but the UI turned me off. I might get there eventually, but I’m too impatient to learn a new system right now.

Eventually I ended up with the .dng files that my computer knew what to do with and I was ready to get started. And the files were good. First the 20mm lens. It’s sharp as shit. Wide open sharp, stopped down sharp, really good. It’s also fast, and that, combined with improved performance at higher ISO compared to the G9, makes this setup a killer in dim light. Which is good, because I’m not that enamoured with the GF1 onboard flash.

The 7-14 is not as fast, but it’s a really nice lens. It’s expensive though, and I probably should have thought about some longer lens options before I got something so specialized. I did however, have to shoot some house photos for a Real Estate listing the day after I got it, and found it to be pretty much the perfect lens for the job. No barrel distortion makes for a nice open room without the freakshow angles. I haven’t really done a ton of walking around with it yet, but I liked it for landscape and environment shots when I was

Shows the whole room without the crazy distortion of a fisheye.
I didn’t use this one for the listing, but I like the symmetry.

So one of the things I was most excited about with this camera was the ability to use some of the lenses from my old Contax G2. I read extensively about the pros and cons of all the adapters, and it sounds like some of them were evolving as I was reading, but I eventually settled on the Metabones because of its large focusing ring. (Bought on ebay, shipped from hong kong, took about ten days -ish)

After it finally arrived, I was back out on the patio, shooting the garden, checking out the specifics of the lenses and trying to get used to manual focus with and lcd and 90mm that is equivalent to 180mm on 35! Here is what I have to say about all that. Handheld is really hard with the 90mm. The GF1 helps you to manual focus by zooming in on the screen, and it’s really effective, except that when you are using such a long lens any minute movement from your hand translates to a drastic shake on the screen. Is it impossible? No, of course not, and I have used the 90mm quite a bit, but it is difficult. So I mentioned it. You could easily solve this problem with a tripod, but then you’re carrying a tripod. The 45mm was quite a bit easier to focus because of its shorter pull and it is a pretty amazing piece of glass. I leave the adapter on it most of the time.

Back out to the garden with the 45mm. OOOOooooooo!
100% crop. No processing.

The process of shooting slows down with the manual focus prime lenses, and for some this defeats the purpose of a small, high quality camera. I admit, when I’m out walking the dog with my wife and she’s just trucking away, I often have mere seconds to compose, focus and shoot before being left behind. In that situation the Zeiss lenses aren’t my go to choice.

No chance I’d be pulling out my DSLR in this situation. 20mm, 1.7, 1/25th with +2/3 stop exposure comp
I found the autofocus to be extremely fast and accurate, catching moments like this where the g9 would have lagged.

So here is the crux of the issue; when does your small camera become too big? That’s obviously different for everyone, but for the GF1 to be truly portable for ME, the 20mm is the lens I’m working with. When you start using the other lenses it becomes a whole different class of camera. And that’s not bad, because the quality is in a whole different class. But I miss the versatility of the G9’s zoom relative to its body size.

I went by the Monster office the other day and there was one of the MTB athletes in there. They needed a quick portrait for the website and I had my GF1 and 20mm. In 5 minutes, with ambient light, I had a shot I was happy with. To me, that tells the whole story. Could I have got it with the G9? Well sure, I mean, they’re all just cameras, but the quality of the image with the GF1 is better and I feel way more confidant pulling it out to get the job done.

This isn’t the shot, but you get the idea.

There have been lots of times when I have wished that I still had the G9 in my pocket, but so far I still reach for the GF1 when I’m walking out the door. I have lots of opinions and impressions, if I haven’t covered something that interests you, leave a comment.


GF1 Pros:

Image quality
Lens quality and variety.
Speed of operation

G9 Pros:

Camera size

Everyone loves sunsets
Long exposure with the GF1 balanced on a mossy rock and 2 sec. self timer. 1 sec, f22.
The 7-14 excels at this sort of thing.
Nice light in the woods.
Black and white? I hear the black and white mode that’s built in is nice. Haven’t tried it yet.

Fishing again. The Skagit.

Since moving to Vancouver my fishing has suffered. In Whistler I used to pop out to the lake several times a week, and hit up the rivers fairly often as well. Vancouver was intimidating. Where to go? How could I fish without going shoulder to shoulder with the crowds of tin-chucking meat harvesters? I don’t keep fish often, it’s a pain in the ass to clean, carry and care for them and the truth of the matter is, I’d rather fish for a big trout in a catch-and-release only stream than a million average trout in an overstocked put-and-take fishery. But that’s me, I don’t judge.

Last week I finally got out to the Skagit. To say that it’s “local” is a bit of a stretch, the drive is over 2 hours from downtown. In fact, I could probably get to the Birkenhead faster, but I’m looking for new water and the Skagit is that. Plus I went with Jon Cartwright and he’d spent a productive day there last year, pulling decent fish on the dry fly, so I wasn’t going in completely blind.

First of all, this is some beautiful water. Right now you can wade it everywhere, there are perfect deep holes, riffles, undercut banks and best of all, fish. Almost right away we started to see big silver flashes in the deeper water. Like, BIG flashes. That and lots of surface action. Then I started turning over rocks and what I found blew me away. Huge mayfly nymphs, massive cased caddis, and lots of stoneflies. Eventually I found one of the biggest I’ve ever seen, almost two inches long!

There were a few fishermen and women around but people moved frequently and we never felt crowded. The rainbows here are as cautious as they are plentiful. I found a noticeable difference in my luck when I switched up and fished 5x tippet after a relatively slow patch with 3x fished wet. We had luck on dark stone nymphs, not so much with the golden stones that had been recommended and all sorts of dries. At first we concentrated on elk hair caddis, but after we started to see more mays coming off, we moved to green, yellow and black humpies and had the most action. Really pretty rainbows between 12 and 14 inches were the order of the day.

Near the end of the day I got too curious about those big silver flashes and put a big black bead head leech on my sinking line, dropped it into a deep slow running hole and waited. A minute later as I slowly retrieved I felt a heavy weight. At first I thought I had bottom, then the bottom did a head shake and I knew I was into something better. I could tell pretty quickly that I was into a Dolly. He took a few sharp runs but mostly just bulldogged me and worked his way into the current whenever he could. On the 5 weight, he was a perfect fish. He measured out just over 18 inches when he finally gave up and showed off his vibrant peach-coloured spots and flashy sides. He was a little skinny, but clean. From the flashes I saw, I’m pretty sure that he was small to average, I’d wager there are some of his far bigger brothers in there too. But that’s for another day.

So I’ve got a little gem in my pocket now, I’ve seen some beautiful water, not too far from home, and am looking forward to learning more about this beautiful river.

First look
First fish on a black nymph
Jon tests the banks
A small stone nymph. The huge one I found was a little too active for a photo.
Jon releases a bow.
and casts for another one.
Under these rocks, lots of fish food.
The dolly.
Full length.
End of the day.

Vancouver is Awesome.

Hello friends,

Followers of the blog will probably know that I have spent quite a bit of time away lately; Honduras and Sweden have taken a couple month chunk out of my summer and a little time in Arizona rounded out a lot of travel. But now I’m home. I’m committed to a year in Vancouver. No taking off to go dive for a month. No galavanting with foreign friends in far off lands.

So I need a job. And until that happens, I found something else to keep me busy. The other day, my favourite website picked one of my photos for their Flickr photo of the day, which is always cool. The very next day this notice showed up in the place of the daily Flickr photo. I thought to myself; “Well that seems right up my alley. I’m a photographer, I’ve been a photo editor...” So I shot Bob a note, and here we are, a few days later, and me with my first pickr, from flickr.

I’m going to be doing that for the next 3 months and I’m looking forward to seeing a ton of photos, but I want to encourage all my Vancouver friends who aren’t part of the Vancouver is Awesome flickr pool to join and submit some photos. Be part of the best website in the city.

Enjoy your labour day!


PS: I caught this Dolly Varden in the Skagit River on Friday. It was around 18 inches and super clean.


Calendar Wallpaper!

Inspired by the talented photographer and personal marketer David DuChemin, I’ve decided to roll out some Wallpaper Calendars for you all. I shot this today on a little walk near the Cleveland Dam in Capilano Canyon on Vancouver’s North Shore. It feels like it represents late summer/ early fall to me so I decided to offer it up to y’all. If it’s popular I’ll do this every month from now on.

Wall papers come in Large (2400x1500 pixels), Medium (1280x800) and ipad (1024x768). These correspond to the most common screen resolutions of visitors to my website according to google analytics. I just did this on a whim, so feedback is welcome and important. Enjoy!

It looks like this: