Hiking Festival Steps Up to the Camera

By David Redwood

Lisa Dixon has hiked 200 kilometres since mid-July, much of it in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and every step of the way she’s had her camera.

It’s for memories, but also to record unbelievable spots she might find herself in so she can share with friends later.

“You are just hoping you are going to come across that big male moose standing in front of you,” said Dixon, laughing as she explained why she shoots pictures on the trail.

Dixon is a guide at this year’s Hike the Highlands Festival, and her interest in photography is not unusual. Many of the hikers who attend the festival pack sophisticated cameras, and new activities are scheduled this year to satisfy shutterbugs.

A popular photo workshop by Wally Hayes has been expanded to two days (Sept. 13-14), and participants will be encouraged to snap images for a new slideshow at the festival’s opening ceremonies.

“We wanted to make sure that this year’s workshop was different than any other year,” said Tom Wilson, chair of Hike the Highlands Festival. He said Hayes’ sessions will feature photo shoots at Black Brook Beach and Still Brook Falls, and includes subject areas like image editing and file management.

Hikers are naturally drawn to photography, Wilson said.

“When you hike you are going for the views, and of course when you are a photographer and you want to take pictures you are going for the views as well. It’s a real nice mixture,” said Wilson.

Hayes, the veteran photographer leading the workshop, said he enjoys shooting pictures at the Festival’s guided walks. Even non-photographers on the hikes develop an interest in what camera owners are shooting.

“There is a curiosity factor,” said Hayes.

He said while seascapes and mountain views are always popular, many photographers are drawn to fauna at foot level. Other hikers? Not so much.

“Most people who are not into photography are walking on these things and trampling them into the ground without even realizing it. Then all of a sudden they see somebody taking a picture of this mushroom, as an example, or wildflower, or whatever the case may be, and all of a sudden they become aware of it, and they say, ‘Oh my god. That’s incredible. I‘ve never noticed those before.’”

Hayes said over the last ten years he’s noticed that even hikers who don’t set out with a burning interest in photography are finding themselves on the trail with cellphones or tablets that pack powerful cameras. And they are using them.

“They want to get as much out of (the device) as they can.”

Hayes says new smartphone applications like LightTrac, which creates maps overlayed with the direction the sun shines at certain times, make it even easier for hikers to capture powerful images of sunsets and sunrises.

Festival schedulers are running a 6 a.m. sunrise hike on Sept. 15 at Middle Head trail, and, later in the week, a Sept. 19 sunset hike on the national park’s Skyline trail. A photo contest will be held after the ten-day festival featuring pictures from most of the 20 featured hikes.

For more information on hiking, walking or snowshoeing in Nova Scotia contact Hike Nova Scotia through www.hikenovascotia.ca.

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