After waking up from a much needed nap on my first day in Sochi, I ventured out to explore a bit. I had a few things I wanted to accomplish on this first day, since I didn’t have any events scheduled until Day 3:
1. Pick up my media badge at the Sochi Media Centre
2. Get a SIM card for my phone
3. Buy the postcards that I had promised to my Kickstarter backers
The city of Sochi is about an hour’s train ride from Adler and the Olympic Park. I left the hotel, hoping to find a bus to the train station, but there were no bus routes nearby. The nearest bus stop was a 20 minute walk away. So off I went to find it from the broken Russian directions I got from the hotel’s front desk. I finally found a bus that took me to the train station, where I caught my very excited first glimpse of the Olympic Park and Bolshoy Arena from the train platform!
It was a gorgeous day, which made for a beautiful train ride along the Black Sea.
My first task was to find a SIM card for my phone. From my research before arriving, I had decided to go with the Megafon Olympics package for only 400 Rubles (about $12) giving me 5GB of data. I found it and I was in business!
From there I met up with a lovely Canadian, who I had met on the Canadians to Sochi Facebook group, for lunch and we exchanged travel stories and information. She had taken a 24 hour train from Moscow to Sochi! Wow!
My new friend knew exactly where the Sochi Media Centre was, so she led me there after lunch. I was really surprised to find that no one in the media centre spoke English. I communicated completely through my phone’s Google Translate app and after about 20 minutes, walked out with my pass.
Next, I walked around Sochi looking for postcards, Olympic landmarks and fun touristy stuff. I never found the postcards that day, but I did find these:
Sochi was a beautiful city with lots to see, beautiful architecture, and the warm weather (about 17 celsius) made the experience that much better! I would have loved to spend more time there, but it wasn’t possible with my crazy Olympic event schedule.
I returned to Adler in the late afternoon/early evening and headed to the Olympic Park to try and get the lay of the land. Stay tuned for that story and my inspiring first visit to the Canada Olympic House!
This morning I had my first ever television interview!
It was with Heather Hiscox of Toronto’s CBC News Now morning show, featured on CBC’s Road to the Olympics segment. Because of the 3-hour time difference, my alarm went off at 4:30am to be awake and ready for the 5:20am call. Here’s how it went:
The whole thing went so fast! I’ve been both excited and nervous about this interview for over a week, and waiting for my 5 minutes of fame felt like forever. I called in via Skype and was on hold and listening to the show (I had no video on my end) for the longest 10 minutes of my life, and then Heather started talking to me and the next thing I knew, it was over.
Overall, I’m happy with how it went, despite a couple of verbal stumbles. After seeing the replay however, there are a few points I’d like to add.
The plan is to spark the Olympic Spirit back home while in Sochi. Those who will be in Sochi are driven to be there by their Olympic Spirit, which I will be there to document. But what I am really aiming to spark is the spirit back in Canada and beyond! It’s challenging sometimes to get excited about a world event when all you hear about are the controversial issues and security threats. So I hope to spark the spirit in YOU from Sochi through the stories of my experiences and my images.
It’s time to put the focus back where it belongs: on the sports, the athletes and the fans.
I’m not saying that these other issues are not of concern to me, because they are. I am definitely aware of what’s happening and concerned but I’m also prepared to be cautious and safe. It’s not going to stop me from going and supporting our athletes and capturing the true Olympic spirit of the 2014 Winter Games.
I invite YOU to be a part of the excitement as well, through social media where I will be posting the images and stories throughout the experience. I’ll be posting to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as often as connectivity allows, so please be sure to follow along so you don’t miss any of the excitement. And of course, please share the excitement to grow that Olympic Spirit even more! (I will post the final edited images to Flickr as well.)
As of today, there are 10 days and 40% remaining to be raised on the Kickstarter. Please pledge what you can to bring the Spirit to life.
The Olympic Spirit Project is in the news! The project was featured in this weekend’s local newspaper in my hometown of Duncan, BC, Canada. It was even the top story on the paper’s website all day Friday! The traction this project is getting is so exciting!
This coming Tuesday I’m scheduled for a live interview via Skype with CBC Toronto’s Heather Hiscox for the morning news! I hope to have a video to share with you after the show airs.
I’m happy and excited to report that yesterday the Kickstarter campaign passed the 50% mark! There are still 13 days left in the campaign, so please pledge your support today and be a part of the spirit in Sochi!
I’m so excited that the Olympic Spirit is starting to spread both through all of my backers and supports as well as in the news. Thank you all for the continued support.
I opened my Olympics memory box this week and am now even more excited and inspired for the Olympic Spirit Project at the Sochi 2014 Olymipc Winter Games!
Here are a few of the item that I found:
The 2010 Olympics section from the Vancouver Sun from March 2, 2010.
My 2014 Olympics uniform for Sochi 2014 in Russia.
My BCMC media accreditation badge, official IPC (International Paralympic Committee) media accreditation badge, and my IPC photographer sleeve from Vancouver 2010.
Sochi 2014 media badge from Sochi House at Vancouver 2010, My True North Media House badge, House of Switzerland media badge, Holland House Press card, and Samsung media badge. All from Vancouver 2010.
Vancouver 2010 Ice Hockey and Speed Skating tickets, and London 2012 Athletics ticket.
My pin and memorabilia collection from Vancouver 2010, and a single pin from London 2012.
My Canada t-shirt that I wore at London 2012, and an awesome “eh!” t-shirt given to me to wear at Sochi 2014.
A mix of Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 clothing to wear as my Sochi 2014 fan uniform.
The Vancouver 2010 mascots! Quatchi, Miga, Mukmuk, and Sumi.
I’ve recently launchedmy first Kickstarter campaign to support the creation and publication of my very first photography book! YAY! I’m so excited that after 2 days I’m already at 10% of my fundraising goal, but there is much work left to be done to raise the balance of the funding and I’ve had a few people ask me, “What’s this Kickstarter thing?” So here’s a quick rundown.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is the collective effort of people to pool their money to support the efforts of other people. Crowdfunding is used to support a wide variety of activities, including creative projects, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, startup company funding, and more. My Olympic Spirit Project is an example of a creative project.
How does Kickstarter work?
Thousands of creative projects are added to Kickstarter everyday. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen.
Are you guaranteed to get funding?
No. With Kickstarter, projects will only get funded if the total funding goal is reached. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding target, all backers’ credit cards are charged when the project reaches its deadline. If the project falls short, no one is charged and the project does not get funded.
Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.
With the all-or-nothing model, it’s important to get the momentum of the campaign rolling early so that the campaign has a chance of getting on the “Staff Picks” page of the Kickstarter website. This allows the project to get more views within the crowdfunding community, and in turn more pledges.
Remember that your credit card does not get charged unless the project succeeds. Therefore your pledge is more important at the start than it is near the end of the funding deadline so that the momentum builds for the project.
What is the Olympic Spirit Project?
The Sochi 2014 Olympics have been labeled as the most controversial and most expensive Games of our time, and I feel that the Olympic spirit has been lost for many. Some are even boycotting the Games completely.
After experiencing the Olympic energy in Vancouver in 2010 as media and again in London in 2012 as a spectator, I am inspired to recreate that feeling in Sochi this February to support our athletes (and their competitors) as they compete in the biggest competition of their lives. The athletes have worked so hard to get to this point and it’s unfair to them not to support their efforts in what for most is a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country.
The goal of this project is to get on the ground in Sochi Russia for 10 days during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to photograph and document the Olympic spirit. I will attend both official Olympic and cultural events and photograph the different ways that cultures celebrate a win, or display their disappointment in a loss. The images I capture during my time in Sochi will be edited and compiled into the Olympic Spirit photo book, with a targeted publishing date of September 2014.
Because funding on Kickstarter is all or nothing, I need your help to get the momentum rolling on the funding campaign now. Every dollar counts! Two dollars, five dollars, twenty-five dollars, it all adds up! And please share the project with your friends and family to help spread the Olympic Spirit even further!
In exchange for your generous support, I’m offering some great rewards. From digital and hard cover copies of the finished book to the opportunity to join me at an official Olympic event during the project! And of course every backer will be acknowledged and thanked in the book itself on the Project Contributors page.
Please click the Kickstarter button below to pledge your support today!
I thank you for your generosity and support, and look forward to creating an amazing and inspiring book!
If you have any questions about either Kickstarter or the Olympic Spirit Project, please shoot me an email or leave a comment below.
As most of you know, I am working to get to Sochi in February to photograph the fan and cultural side of the 2014 Olympics. I launched a fundraising campaign a few weeks back, and have received a lot of feedback that this campaign did not really encompass my passions. I appreciate all of your honest feedback and have as a result created a new project that encompasses my passions for photography and the Olympics and is way more ME!
I feel that with all the controversy surrounding the 2014 Olympic Games, the Olympic spirit has been somewhat lost. This is unfair to our Canadian athletes as well as their international competitors who have worked HARD to qualify for the biggest competition of their lives. They need our support! This project is geared at reviving the Olympic spirit and putting the attention back where it belongs: On the Athletes!
The goal of the Olympic Spirit Project is to capture images illustrating the Olympic Spirit through the eyes of different cultures from around the globe, in Sochi during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. I will share some of the images and stories with you from Russia on my blog, and after the Games are over the images will be edited and compiled into a book, which will then be available for sale. The targeted publishing date is September 2014.
What’s in it for you?
In return for your support, I am offering rewards from a hand written postcard from Russia to the opportunity to experience an official Olympic event with me at the Games. All backers will be acknowledged in the final printed book.
All Levels: Thank-You Postcard from Russia – All backers pledging $10 or more will receive a hand-written Postcard sent from Russia during the Olympic Games.
All Levels: Your Name Featured in the Book – All backers pledging to the project will acknowledged on the Project Contributors page in the final printed book.
$25 Level: 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project, and a digital copy of the finished book.
$85 Level: A digital copy of the finished book, a signed 5×7 print featuring an image from the project, and a 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project.
$150 Level: A digital copy of the finished book, 2 signed 8×10 prints featuring images from the project, and a 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project.
$350 Level: A hard cover copy of the finished book, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks.
$1000 Level: 2 signed hard cover copies if the finished book, a signed 11×14 print featuring an image from the project, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks.
$1500 Level (9 available): 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, a (used) official 2014 Olympic event ticket, a signed 11×14 print of an images from the project, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks. (there are
$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Men’s and Ladies’ Team Pursuit Speed Skating event on February 21st, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.
$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Women’s Hockey Play-off Semi-FinalGame on February 17th, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.
$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Men’s Hockey Play-off Quarter-Final Game on February 19th, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.
$2500 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Bronze Medal Men’s Hockey Game on February 22nd, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.
All Levels: Karma points and huge gratitude from me! : )
How You Can Help
With your support this project will come to life. Click the Kickstarter button below for full project details and for an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding the Olympic Spirit for our athletes in Sochi this coming February.
I’ve had a few questions regarding what’s in my camera bag when I travel, so here it is! I try to pack as lightly as possible and take only things that I know I will use, to avoid carrying around too many “just in case” items.
I always carry my unlocked iPhone with me when I travel. Depending on the trip, I may get a local SIM card at my destination, or I’ll just rely on local wifi. I use my phone on to check reviews for restaurants, hotels and attractions online or on Trip Advisor. And of course for the more fun stuff like quick happy snaps to post to Instagram or Facebook during the trip.
If you use your smartphone camera and social media apps as much as I do, your battery probably isn’t going to last as long as you like. So I carry a portable battery charger to recharge my phone on the go, no outlet required.
I recently upgraded from my Nikon D90 to the D7000. Costa Rica was my first trip with this camera and I loved shooting with it. The biggest improvement over the D90 is the low light photography, with the capability to go to 6400 iso, while the D90 was limited to 3200 iso. It shoots amazing HD video as well.
The 35mm lens is just wide enough to capture environmental shots like landscapes, and have the depth of field needed for portraits and close ups. For travel photography, the fixed focal length forces you to get close to the action, which helps you get over your shyness of shooting in new places. The 1.8 aperture is perfect for catching sharp images in low light conditions. I’ve found that using a prime lens has been great for crafting my photography skills and image framing. I also found, during my travels in Costa Rica, that the 35mm lens was excellent for shooting video.
A perfect all-purpose lens. I’ve taken many trips with a downsized kit and carried only this lens, and have always been happy with its’ versatility. You have the wide angle at 18mm for those landscape shots and then decent zoom ability up to 105mm for those more intimate shots. I love this lens and don’t see it leaving my kit any time soon.
This is a good lens to have with you if you’re doing nature or sports photography. I used this lens quite a bit while in Costa Rica to shoot wildlife that you either cannot or should not get to close to (eg. crocodiles). I also used this lens a lot during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver to shoot the sporting events and caught some amazing images! If you travel with this lens, I recommend also carrying a tripod or monopod, as the more you zoom, the more camera shake becomes an issue.
I always take a point and shoot camera with me when I travel for those crazy adventures (like zipling) that make it difficult to carry a DLSR. I chose the Canon G12. This camera gives you to shoot on full automatic mode, while also allowing you the option to fully control everything manually. It’s a great camera to have for scuba diving as well, in which case you would need to buy an underwater housing for it.
It’s always a good idea to back up your images and other data while traveling. For this reason I carry a portable external hard drive with me when I travel. I shoot in RAW format, so storing them in the cloud is not always ideal with such large files and unreliable internet connections. An external drive is always a good alternative.
I use this to transfer files and images from people I meet along the way. These days most people travel with a small laptop or an iPad and when you have fun experiences with people, it’s always fun to share the images. A USB stick makes that quick, easy and instant, instead of relying on people to send you the images via email later.
Polarizing filters increase color saturation and decrease reflections. This is one of the only lens filters that (so far) cannot be replicated using digital photo editing. This filter is an indispensable tool that I always keep in my camera bag. They can get fairly expensive, but they are worth every penny!
This is a great alternative to carrying around a big bulky tripod. The legs are designed to wrap around and bend, allowing you to attach the tripod securely to almost any surface. It’s small and compact and will fit into your daypack or shoulder bag.
You can never have too many memory cards. Conveniently, both my DSLR and my G12 use the same type of memory cards. I currently have one 32gb card, two 16gb cards and four 8gb cards. I switch them out and download the images to my external hard drive right away, but then I avoid formatting the cards until I need more space, and then I start with the oldest images first. I mark each memory card with a sticker, so I know which order to use them in. This allows for an additional backup, just in case.
This goes without saying, but you should always have a clean lens! Carrying a lens cleaning cloth is always a good idea to avoid wiping your lens with your potentially sunscreen or sweat contaminated clothing, which may leave greasy streaks on your lens.
I carry a few of these as an alternative to the lens cleaning cloth. They are moist cloths that help remove any oils you may get on your lens. It’s not a bad idea to keep a few around, they’re small and don’t take up much space. I generally use these after any big day trips to ensure my lenses are clean for the next adventure. If you have any questions, please comment below, or feel free to email me.
What must-haves to you carry in your camera bag when you travel?
This is Steve. Steve lives in Tamarindo. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him several times, and it blows my mind how stupid some people can be when it comes to viewing and photographing wild animals. There were tourists getting dangerously close, and it makes me wonder:
“Are they aware that Steve is a killing machine???”
I mean seriously! He is a crocodile! In the wild! His brain is the size of a pea! All he knows how to do is kill, eat, sleep and sunbathe! This is not a zoo!!!
So some facts about crocodiles:
They are DINOSAURS!
They have GIANT TEETH!
They are PURE MUSCLE!
They eat EVERYTHING!!! (Even you!)
The jaw of an 18 foot crocodile is more than 5,000 lbf (pound force). To put this in perspective, a great white shark is 670 lbf (source: Wikipedia)
they can run up to 17km/hr in short spurts (that’s faster than you!)
They WILL kill you!
Then the will EAT you!
I kept my distance and let my zoom lens do the rest. Even this made me nervous, especially after seeing how prehistoric he actually looks!
Nature does not discriminate. If you piss off a crocodile, it will not end well for you. You WILL lose! I could just see some crazy Crocodile Dundee situation happening with some of these other people. Wow. (Scroll to 1:52 in the video below video)
Keep your distance. Don’t be stupid. Respect nature!
Staying fit while traveling can be a challenge. It can be tough to get into a routine when your location changes often. While in Costa Rica I’m happy to say that I’ve been getting a workout in almost everyday. My favorite has been the beach workouts. I started doing them every morning while in Tamarindo, either with a local personal trainer or self-led HIIT workouts at the water’s edge.
For the personal training sessions, we used Nick Holt Fitness. We did several amazing TRX suspension training workouts with Nick. He tied the TRX to a tree, and with the jungle on one side and the ocean on the other the view was gorgeous, no matter which way we turned.
We worked out barefoot in the sand with the TRX and used a log for ground work and kettle bells for an added challenge. Nick pushed us HARD and our post-workout dip in the ocean was well deserved. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to maintain regular training while in Tamarindo and surrounding area.
While traveling around Costa Rica, I continued my beach workouts wherever possible. I would do a 35 minute HIIT workout with a different combination of exercises each time. With the heat and humidity I would do half my workout in the water. It was perfect!
What I love about the HIIT workouts is that you don’t need any equipment, and if you’re doing them on the beach, you don’t even need shoes! All you need is a timer of some kind and music to keep you moving. (I use my iPhone for both.)
All exercises are are completed using your body weight. Some examples of some would be:
Lunges (walking or stationary alternating or reverse)
Lizard Crawls (these are fun when you do them on the beach when you see your lizard tracks in the sand)
Planks (do them in the water and let the waves pull the sand out from under you for added challenge)
Single Arm Alternating Planks
Site-ups / Crunches
Burpees (the one everyone loves to hate)
I always include squats and planks in my workouts (cuz who doesn’t want a nice beach bum and killer abs?), and then I mix in a bunch of other exercises, depending on which are I want to focus on. I could add many more to the above list, but these are great if you’re just getting started with HIIT.
I drink a protein shake about an hour before I workout and I always ensure that I’m well hydrated. You should always make sure you drink plenty of water but if you’re traveling in the tropics this is especially important. In warmer climates your body loses a lot more water through sweating, so make sure you are drinking LOTS of water throughout the day. This will ensure that you are well hydrated for your workout as well as for general your health.
While in Costa Rica, I have had several days where I’ve missed my beach workouts, but those days are usually spent exploring which involves a lot of walking and/or hiking, so I get my exercise in other ways. When I returned from Central America I was so hooked on the TRX that I bought one to use at home and I love it!
Travel is no excuse to get lazy!
How do you stay fit while traveling? Please share in the comments below.
To give you a little taste of my workouts, this is my gym in Montezuma: