Autumn is nearing its end this year in my part of the world. When I was in Shangri-La, China last month fall colors had just started to appear in the forests. In the Puducao National Park, I found these brilliant leaves among the deep greens dominating the foliage along the southern shoreline of Shudu Lake. If you are interested in seeing other images from my trip, please click this link.
The kids in Redwood Meadows were out on the prowl last night tricking and treating their way around the town. Our troop of cousins, friends and a couple of adults headed out just before dark. The neighbours were characteristically generous and all of the children made out like bandits.
Kian was a skeleton assassin and Kezia was a leopard. Both stayed in character for much of the night – except when daddy asked them to pose together for a quick shot together.
The Redwood Meadows firefighters had one of their trucks parked outside and stopping there was a highlight for the kids (and another source of heaps of candy!)
Everyone had a really great time – running between houses, jumping around and sharing a lot of laughs.
When I set up my gear on the shore of the first of the Vermilion Lakes, it was cold and dark. I wanted to be there early to catch Jupiter and Venus in the eastern sky before it brightened too much. The pair, with Mars less visible to the left, were directly above Mount Rundle’s peak when I arrived.
As the horizon brightened the stars faded while color started to creep into the clouds. The lake was frozen with a thin cover of ice which gave abstract reflections of the sky and the silhouettes across the water.
(Please click on any image to see a higher resolution version)
Early sunshine brought a cloud to life as it stretched and broke up over Mount Rundle. Before long, bright pink strands hung above the Bow Valley. It was a beautiful morning and I loved watching it build from darkness into light.
The pink softened quickly and pastels held the sky until the sun blew away the soft hues of the early morning.
A small herd of bull elk were gathered near Moose Meadows on the Bow Valley Parkway when I was there on the weekend. The frost bleached the grass and the cold air made the breath visible.
These were mature adults with massive antlers and they were putting them to use. The rut is on and these elk were challenging each other repeatedly.
They would be eating grass and then stare at another one. Soon after, they would stalk slowly towards each other and lock antlers. Once entwined, a push and a pull fight would take place. Unlike Bighorn sheep battles where they smash into each other, these were shoving matches.
It was a cold morning which made for a particularly appealing scene to watch these giants battle. The elk below was noticeably larger than the others and only one bull challenged him in the half hour that I watched. That contest seemed like more of a measuring stick for the smaller one as it was short and there was no real challenge.
He wandered off after a while heading for the trees and leaving the others to graze and continue the odd skirmish.
On the weekend, I found a Grizzly bear traversing along the edge of the Bow Valley Parkway near the southeast entrance. The bear, a female with the tag #148 (I think), I could see where she had been digging up roots but when I saw her she was already on the move.
She crossed the road between a couple of parked cars and then disappeared into the trees. I played a hunch and drove a kilometre down the road and waited hoping she might continue in that direction. A little while later, she came down the road and scrambled up onto this rock shelf above the road.
That offered a great view of this beautiful creature and I was able to create some solid imagery when she paused to decide on her next route.
Leaving the rocks, she crossed a grassy meadow and then walked through the open forest for a few hundred metres. I loved watching her walk through the trees – at this time of the year her coat blends in with the autumn foliage.
She then crossed the road again and shuffled down the hillside. Out of sight again and this time she did not return. I saw a video of her fishing earlier this summer so maybe she went down to the river for that!
The Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is often referred to as the Little Potala given its resemblance to the Dalai Lama’s original home, the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. I have not yet visited there but Sumtseling, in Shangri-La on the western edge of China was a very meaningful place for me. I spent the morning exploring the complex and listening to the resident monks chanting in one of the great halls housed under the golden roofs. In the afternoon, I wandered around the lake that sits at the foot of the monastery. In the image above, I framed Sumtseling against the darkening sky whose clouds were gently catching some of the color ahead of sunset. The hill in the mid ground, above the light green trees, hides the small village that sits under the monastery and serves to keep the magnificent complex uncluttered from this view.
When I was in Shangri-La last month, I spent one day touring the Pudacuo National Park (also called Potatso; in Chinese it is 普达措国家公园). Not enough time by any stretch of my imagination but I enjoyed the time I had. In the morning I walked along the shoreline of Shudu lake and early on came across this White wagtail (Motacilla alba alboides) hunting for insects.
From this partly submerged perch, he flew down and skimmed the water’s surface. Each dive appeared to be successful and after a few minutes the bird flew into the trees and disappeared.
Elbow Falls is a place that I have spent a lot of time at over a number of years. This past weekend the morning was one of the most enjoyable mornings I have had there. The sunrise came in gently and the colors grew beautifully – painting the clouds and reflecting in the water above and below the waterfall.
It was a great surprise when I learned earlier in the week that I was the regional winner for the Americas in this year’s Urban Photographer of the Year competition. There are three regions that this contest divides the world into as well as recognizing one overall winner. They had over 21,000 entries to this unique competition so it is an honour to have my image selected.
My image is of a plane being de-iced at the Calgary International Airport. I described the scene as follows in my submission, “On a cold morning in January, airplanes required de-icing before being able to takeoff. As I waited for my flight to warmer climes, I watched a crane truck approach this plane. It stopped a few metres away, the bucket then extended upwards with this gentleman waiting to go to work. When he turned on the spray from the hose, the steam lit by the rising sun made for a compelling image.”
This link shares the winning images and presents striking imagery. I commend all the winners and whole heartedly agree with the committee’s selection for the overall winner. That image, “Xyclops”, by Oscar Rialubin is a stunning portrait and window into a craftsman’s work and personality.
I visited Wedge Pond to check on the fall colors and their reflection in the water. The larch and aspen in Kananaskis now have their leaves falling but a week ago the golds were still at their best. Among the rippled mirror on the pond’s surface, there was a fisherman fly casting from a float. Seemed like a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
The countryside surrounding Shangri-La is a rural landscape of small farms, fields and villages divided by densely forested hills, soaring mountains and deeply carved rivers. When I was in China last month I spent a couple of days driving the narrow roads that connect these places. These are a selection of these scenes as I experienced them.