The early spring this year may see the Snowy owls leave their wintering grounds around Southern Alberta soon. When I was in Irricana photographing this owl, it was 16°C and she was panting to stay cool. I’m not concerned about their health in this heat as their nesting sites in the north get into, and above, these temperatures in the summer. However, I don’t know when it, or something else, will prompt them to leave as they always do.
The Aurora Borealis has been very strong for a few nights in a row, reaching southern Alberta regularly which comes after what has seemed like a very long absence. Perhaps it has just been me that was absent for shows since last year but being out for this one on the night of March 18-19. When I went out at 11pm, there was a dull green bow low in the sky towards Calgary. After a while, the arch began to glow brighter and stretch higher. Columns then started to separate from the green band and the arch itself dissolved. For the next couple of hours the lights shifted their shapes, colors and intensity.
I was out on the berm that sits between Redwood Meadows and the Elbow River. The height of the berm, the rocky shoreline and the snow remnants allowed for a variety of perspectives. The three and half hours that the Northern Lights performed allowed me the time to explore these. It was an amazing night.
Canon 5DIII – 24mm lens: 6 seconds on f/1.8 at ISO 3200
In the middle of the active Aurora that reached southern Alberta the lights were reflecting brightly over the waters of the Elbow River in Redwood Meadows.
The night after St. Patrick’s Day brought out the Aurora Borealis over southern Alberta. Along the Elbow River, west of Calgary, the bands of color rippled in the sky and on the surface of the water for several hours. I met two photographers, Stacey and Clif, out on the berm. They had come out to Redwood Meadows in search of the Northern Lights. The show took a little while to start so it was nice to chat while we waited. When the lights did start to dance it was beautiful. I will share more images from the night soon as the colours and mood changed throughout the night and allowed for great variety.
I returned to Irricana recently to look for Snowy owls. I left early and arrived well before night had given much ground to day. Having criss-crossed the backroads west of the town, I have a decent feel for the farmland in the area and took the opportunity to photograph a couple of locations while the clouds were glowing pink ahead of the sunrise.
A lost wallet and a flat tire, both noticed about an hour after the last of these photographs was taken, made me feel like I earned these images a bit more than usual. The wallet had fallen out of my pocket unnoticed when I was at the farmstead above. A fair bit of time spent retracing my stops before finding it undisturbed in the middle of the gravel road. When I picked up the wallet, I noticed the flat rear tire. Along the way to Irricana, I apparently drove over a hardware store as Phil’s Auto in Irricana (very friendly people – thank you for the coffee!) later showed me the 3 inch long screw that had lodged into the tire. The wallet was recovered before I found the first owl and by the time of my appointment at 3 pm, I was happy to have had several good encounters with 5 different Snowies. I will share those soon. These prairie landscape images from a beautiful morning heralded what became one of the more interesting days I have had out on the prairies.
I found this pair of Coyotes while driving the backroads west of the Springbank airport last weekend. The male was laying down and enjoying the sun when they came into view. The female, seen in the image below, had been trotting around nearby and only stopped when she saw me. She stared at me for a few seconds but with the headwind and the sun in her eyes she took a long blink before turning away and taking up a sitting position a bit further from me.
The male rose up and crossed warily along a low ridge parallel to me before heading back towards the female. They both looked healthy and I believe the patches on the female’s side are her winter coat shaking out rather than mange or some other irritation. I hope they are planning to den in that area – I’d love to watch their pups this spring.
I have created a gallery of scenic images that I curated from a recent look back at 2014. If you are interested in seeing these landscapes, please click on any image or this link.
In 2014 I spent much of my time waiting for wildlife when I was out with my camera. That came at the expense of some time I may have used to search for interesting landscapes and compelling ways to interpret them in my imagery. Far from being lost opportunities, I treasured the time when I was focused on the land a little more than I have previously.
Reviewing last year’s images, I see growth and feel like I am successfully bringing more of my emotion in the moment and some of “me” into the landscapes I am photographing. It is that interpretation where I am happily expending energy focusing on.
To my son Kian, you are a strong, brilliant warrior. I love your sense for doing what is right, your passion for knowledge, your rough and tumble physicality, and your love of life, light (and Minecraft!). And, above all else, I simply love you.
You have held my heart in your hand everyday since you were born eight years ago. There is no place I would rather it be.
Kian just after his 1st birthday. And below, from last fall flushed after a long play in the leaves.