Driving the Winter Ice Road to Fort Chipewyan

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 5, 2016 in photos, video

// Update: On Jan. 19, 2016 I, along with more than two dozen other Journalists, lost my job at the Edmonton Journal after nearly nine years.

I have a lot to say about the Journal and my career in photojournalism. First, I feel like I need to blog about my last year of work at the Journal. I will be posting updates on this blog over the next few weeks and you can get updates on my Twitter. For now, I recommend you check out this story by my former editor-in-chief Margo Goodhand on what happened at the Journal.

// Back to the blog!

Winter Ice Road to Fort Chipewyan from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Take a ride up the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March, depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Video by Ryan Jackson, Edmonton Journal

One year ago this week I got to go on a little adventure to my favourite place in Alberta. Journal reporter (and now Globe and Mail reporter) Marty Klinkenberg and I got approval to head up north to Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan for five days to cover various stories. The best story is of the doctor up in Fort Chipewyan which I will be writing about in a future blog post. The coolest part (pardon the pun) was that we were going to drive the temporary winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan, Alberta’s most isolated aboriginal community. Fort Chipewyan is only accessible in the summer by air or boat via the Athabasca river. There is no way to drive to Fort Chipewyan except for a few weeks in the winter when an ice road can be made.

 

We were going for five days so I had to pack relatively light for the trip. I new it was going to be cold which means everything would slow down so the less gear the better. I was able to fit all my camera gear and clothing and supplies in two Thinktank Logistics Manager suitcases. I love these cases because they are tall enough to fit tripods and light stands so that you can literally have everything on wheels. I brought two Panasonic GH4 cameras for shooting video and a Canon 1DX for stills. I also squeezed in a Kessler Pocket Dolly and a Slik tripod and head for support.

We were going for five days so I had to pack relatively light for the trip. I new it was going to be cold which meant everything would slow down so the less gear the better. I was able to fit all my camera gear and clothing and supplies in two Thinktank Logistics Manager suitcases. I love these cases because they are tall enough to fit tripods and light stands so that you can literally have everything on wheels. I brought two Panasonic GH4 cameras for shooting video and a Canon 1DX for stills. I also squeezed in a Kessler Pocket Dolly and a Slik tripod and head for support.

We interviewed the Mayor of Fort McMurray and other local business owners about the economy and looming recession. The price of oil hadnÕt plunged anywhere near to where it would be a year later. I bet if we re-asked all the same questions today we would be getting very different answers.

We interviewed the Mayor of Fort McMurray and other local business owners about the economy and looming recession. The price of oil hadn’t plunged anywhere near to where it would be a year later. I bet if we re-asked all the same questions today we would be getting very different answers.

Here's a photo of me shooting some video on the hood of our rental SUV. The Panasonic GH4's handled the cold surprisingly well. I only had one incident where the camera literally froze up and the buttons stopped working. On the bright side it kept recording video and I didn't miss anything.

Here’s a photo of me shooting some video on the hood of our rental SUV. The Panasonic GH4’s handled the cold surprisingly well. I only had one incident where the camera literally froze up and the buttons stopped working. On the bright side it kept recording video and I didn’t miss anything.

 

It was incredibly cold that week but that was a good thing. We had a mild winter so far and the ice road had only recently been open to the public. Simply put, without cold weather and ice, there is no road. With warmer winters lately, the ice road is open fewer days each year which closes the window of opportunity to ship fuel, building supplies and cheaper groceries up to Fort Chipewyan.

It was incredibly cold that week but that was a good thing. We had a mild winter so far and the ice road had only recently been open to the public. Simply put, without cold weather and ice, there is no road. With warmer winters lately, the ice road is open fewer days each year which closes the window of opportunity to ship fuel, building supplies and cheaper groceries up to Fort Chipewyan.

Loading up on supplies. We bought all our groceries and got an extra snow shovel for our rental vehicle.

Loading up on supplies. We bought all our groceries and got an extra snow shovel for our rental vehicle.

The gate to the Fort Chipewyan winter ice road.

The gate to the Fort Chipewyan winter ice road.

he winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

The winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

he winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

The winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

A construction worker sprays water to build up ice thickness on the Firebag River along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

A construction worker sprays water to build up ice thickness on the Firebag River along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

This was the weirdest thing we saw on the ice road. This tree was literally in the middle of nowhere. A random tree is decorated in Christmas ornaments along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015.

This was the weirdest thing we saw on the ice road. This tree was literally in the middle of nowhere. A random tree is decorated in Christmas ornaments along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015.

Cracks in the ice over the Slave River crossing along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 6, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

Cracks in the ice over the Slave River crossing along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 6, 2015. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

A grouse on the side of the ice road between Fort Chipewyan and Fort Smith. The winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 6, 2015.

A grouse on the side of the ice road between Fort Chipewyan and Fort Smith. The winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 6, 2015.

Journal reporter Marty Klinkenberg poses for a photo at one of the river crossings along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015.

Journal reporter Marty Klinkenberg poses for a photo at one of the river crossings along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta on on February 4, 2015.

Journal reporter Marty Klinkenberg, left, and photographer Ryan Jackson try to push Isaias Morgan’s vehicle after he got stuck in a snow bank after losing control along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan.

Journal reporter Marty Klinkenberg, left, and photographer Ryan Jackson try to push Isaias Morgan’s vehicle after he got stuck in a snow bank after losing control along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan.

Journal photographer Ryan Jackson, left, and reporter Marty Klinkenberg try to add weight to the back of Isaias Morgan’s vehicle after he got stuck in a snow bank after losing control along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan.

Journal photographer Ryan Jackson, left, and reporter Marty Klinkenberg try to add weight to the back of Isaias Morgan’s vehicle after he got stuck in a snow bank after losing control along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan.

Journal reporter Marty Klinkenberg stands by as Ice Road Trucker Ed Sullivan pulls Isaias MorganÕs vehicle out after he got stuck in a snow bank after losing control along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan.

Journal reporter Marty Klinkenberg stands by as Ice Road Trucker Ed Sullivan pulls Isaias Morgan’s vehicle out after he got stuck in a snow bank after losing control along the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan.

We made it to Fort Chipewyan!

We made it to Fort Chipewyan!

You don't see buffalo crossing signs every day.

You don’t see buffalo crossing signs every day.

The worst! On our drive back from Fort Chipewyan had an incidentÉ. Marty drove the way up to Fort Chip and I drove back. It was my birthday that day and my wife and I were headed to Phoenix the next day for a nice warm vacation. I was so excited and happy to drive the ice road that I didnÕt notice when I missed the VERY IMPORTANT turn to head SOUTH to Fort McMurray and instead drove North for TWO HOURS before seeing this faded sign that said we were only 119 kms from Fort Smith, NWT. We were in disbelief for a moment. We thought we were almost back to Fort McMurray and here we are two hours north in the wrong direction! Lesson learned. Even in 2015, a compass can come in very handy.

This was the worst!
On our drive back from Fort Chipewyan we had an incident. Marty drove the way up to Fort Chip and I drove back. It was my birthday that day and my wife and I were headed to Phoenix the next day for a nice warm vacation.
I was so excited and happy to drive the ice road that I didn’t notice when I missed the VERY IMPORTANT turn to head SOUTH to Fort McMurray. Instead we drove North for TWO HOURS before seeing this faded sign that said we were only 119 kms from Fort Smith, NWT.
We were in disbelief for a moment. We thought we were almost back to Fort McMurray and here we are two hours north in the wrong direction!
Lesson learned. Even in 2015, a compass can come in very handy.

This experience reminded me of a great TED talk about being Wrong. Kathryn Schulz points out the important difference between being wrong and knowing that you are wrong. I spent two hours driving the wrong direction thinking I was going the right way. I ignored all the subtle sign that would have indicated I was going the wrong way (the sun, the different terrain, the lack of traffic) but I ignored them because I was certain I was going the right way.

Front page of the Edmonton Journal on Feb. 28, 2015.

Front page of the Edmonton Journal on Feb. 28, 2015.

Double truck story by Marty Klinkenberg in the Edmonton Journal on Feb. 28, 2015.

Double truck story by Marty Klinkenberg in the Edmonton Journal on Feb. 28, 2015.

Double truck story by Marty Klinkenberg in the Edmonton Journal on Feb. 28, 2015.

Finally, here is the fun video I made about the Ice Road. I put a GoPro on the front of our vehicle and recorded the entire drive and then sped it up 800% for the video.  We also interviewed an Ice Road Trucker and a Fort Chipewyan resident who have driven the road for years and offered great tips.

You can also read Marty’s story about the Ice Road here and Alex Zabjek interviewed me and wrote a nice little feature about the making of the video.

Winter Ice Road to Fort Chipewyan from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Take a ride up the winter ice road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta. The 200-km temporary road typically opens mid-December and closes mid-March, depending on the weather. During that short window of time all the construction materials, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel for the year is shipped up to the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan which can only be accessed by air or river barge in the summer. Video by Ryan Jackson, Edmonton Journal

My next post will be about the main reason we were up in Fort Chipewyan and what is probably the most important video I’ve ever made.

0
 

Looking for a fight: Boxer Jelena Mrdjenovich

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 28, 2015 in video

One of my favorite videos of 2015! Thanks to Topher Sequin for helping light this video.
Shot mostly with a Panasonic GH4 and a Canon 24mm f1.4L lens. The lighting at the gym was very dark and muddy so I had Topher shine a 300w halogen spot light at her and I exposed for highlights.
I then graded the footage in Final Cut Pro X and added some film grain to get the gritty look that I wanted.

Looking for a fight: Boxer Jelena Mrdjenovich from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Edmonton boxer Jelena Mrdjenovich is so good she can’t find anyone to fight. Jan 28, 2015. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

0
 

Keeping Coyotes from killing sheep in Alberta

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 22, 2015 in photos
Shepard Wesley Henning with his flock on his farm near Mayerthorpe, Alta. on January 22, 2015.  Henning says he loses 7-10% of his flock each year to coyotes and has taken measures such as deep fences and dogs help protect them.  (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

Shepard Wesley Henning with his flock on his farm near Mayerthorpe, Alta. on January 22, 2015. Henning says he loses 7-10% of his flock each year to coyotes and has taken measures such as deep fences and dogs help protect them. (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

Glenn and Patricia Mattson pose for a photo with their quarter horse Missy on their farm near Mayerthorpe, Alta.  on January 22, 2015. They say coyotes haven't been much of a problem for them in the 40-years they have raised horses and cattle on their farm with the exception of a cat that was attacked once. (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

Glenn and Patricia Mattson pose for a photo with their quarter horse Missy on their farm near Mayerthorpe, Alta. on January 22, 2015. They say coyotes haven’t been much of a problem for them in the 40-years they have raised horses and cattle on their farm with the exception of a cat that was attacked once. (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

Keeping Coyotes from killing sheep in Alberta from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Shepherd Wesley Henning tries to find a balance between hunters, fences and dogs to keep coyotes from killing his flock near Mayerthorpe, Alta. On Jan. 22, 2015. Video by Ryan Jackson, Edmonton Journal. Read the story.

0
 

Ghost LRT station in Edmonton

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 21, 2015 in video

Ghost LRT station in Edmonton: Future Station from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Take a tour of a hidden LRT station that was built in the 1970s but never used, and is the inspiration for Future Station, the 2015 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art in Edmonton. Video by Ryan Jackson, edmontonjournal.com

Shot with a Panasonic GH4 with a 12-35mm lens, a 7.5mm fisheye and a shoulder mount. Small LitePanels LED and Canon tungsten video lighs were used for illumination.

0
 

Taxi drivers opposed to Uber in Edmonton

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 20, 2015 in photos
Council chambers at City Hall were packed with Edmonton taxi drivers opposed to the ride-sharing service Uber coming into Edmonton to compete with existing taxi services in Edmonton on January 20, 2015. (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

Council chambers at City Hall were packed with Edmonton taxi drivers opposed to the ride-sharing service Uber coming into Edmonton to compete with existing taxi services in Edmonton on January 20, 2015. (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

0
 

Roxy Theatre Fire

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 14, 2015 in photos, video
Bradley Moss, Artistic Director of Theatre Network rummages through the rubble of The Roxy Theatre which burned down on Tuesday in Edmonton on January 14, 2015. (Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

Bradley Moss, Artistic Director of Theatre Network rummages through the rubble of The Roxy Theatre which burned down on Tuesday in Edmonton on January 14, 2015. (Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

 

Roxy Theatre fire aftermath from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Bradley Moss, Artistic Director of Theatre Network rummages through the rubble of The Roxy Theatre which burned down on Tuesday in Edmonton on January 14, 2015. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

0
 

New Years Fireworks and Babies

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 1, 2015 in photos

I worked New Years eve and day this year so that means fireworks and babies!

New Years Eve Fireworks in Churchill Square in Edmonton on January 1, 2015. (Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

New Years Eve Fireworks in Churchill Square in Edmonton on January 1, 2015. (Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

Jared Adams and Kayla McEvoy are the proud parents of a baby girl, Echo Adams, born New Years day at 12:02 a.m. at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton on January 1, 2015. They pose for a photo with their new daughter and their son Daniel Chartrand, 10.  (Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

Jared Adams and Kayla McEvoy are the proud parents of a baby girl, Echo Adams, born New Years day at 12:02 a.m. at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton on January 1, 2015. They pose for a photo with their new daughter and their son Daniel Chartrand, 10. (Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

0
 

Christmas Stocking Illustration for Edmonton Journal front page

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 24, 2014 in lighting, portrait

Every year the Edmonton Journal runs a Christmas related photo on the front page on Dec. 24th. This year we photographed Journal reporter Alex Zabjeck’s adorable kid Arjun.
For the image of him looking in the stocking, I placed a small LED video light inside to give the glow on his face.

Front page Christmas illustration with two-year-old Arjun Swatch in Edmonton on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Jackson

Front page Christmas illustration with two-year-old Arjun Swatch in Edmonton on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Jackson

Front page Christmas illustration with two-year-old Arjun Swatch in Edmonton on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Jackson

Front page Christmas illustration with two-year-old Arjun Swatch in Edmonton on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Jackson

Front page Christmas illustration with two-year-old Arjun Swatch in Edmonton on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Jackson

Front page Christmas illustration with two-year-old Arjun Swatch in Edmonton on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Jackson

Here's a look behind the scenes. I had a strobe above Arjun with a beauty dish wrapped in a white blanket. There is a golden reflector to the left with a small tungsten light to warm up the photo. The biggest challenge in lighting this photo was balancing the strobe with the tiny LED christmas lights. Hence needing to wrap the light in a blanket to make it dimmer.

Here’s a look behind the scenes. I had a strobe above Arjun with a beauty dish wrapped in a white blanket. There is a golden reflector to the left with a small tungsten light to warm up the photo.
The biggest challenge in lighting this photo was balancing the strobe with the tiny LED christmas lights. Hence needing to wrap the light in a blanket to make it dimmer.

0
 

BioWare and creating the world of Dragon Age in Edmonton

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 11, 2014 in video

BioWare is a great Edmonton success story. The video game company started in 1995 and have created some of the highest rated games of all time. I remember spending countless hours playing Shattered Steel back when I was a kid and now I’m addicted to the Mass Effect series.

Journal columnist Paula Simons and I got a tour of BioWare after they won Game of the Year for Dragon Age: Inquisition.

BioWare and creating the world of Dragon Age in Edmonton from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Take a sneak peak inside BioWare and learn about the immense storyworld of Dragon Age that is enjoyed by millions and is created here in Edmonton. Video by Ryan Jackson, edmontonjournal.com

Read the story here.

0
 

How to power through the Butterdome craft fair in 90 minutes

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 5, 2014 in video

If you are an organized and efficient person then you will love Kathy Kerr’s determination to do all her Christmas shopping in a mere 90 minutes. This was a fun video to make. I just used a Panasonic GH4 with a 12-35mm lens and a shoulder mount so I could stay small and weave through the crowds.

How to power through your Christmas shopping from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

With focus and strategy, Kathy Kerr gives tips for how to get in and out of the Butterdome craft fair in 90 minutes with all your Christmas presents. Video by Ryan Jackson, edmontonjournal.com

0

Copyright © 2016 Ryan Jackson Photography All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek.