Alberta

The sun’s fire in the trees

Fire in the trees - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on the image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)

A hazy sky created deep, rich hues in the rising sun and the morning sky.  A beautiful scene to watch unfold as the day grew but it was a small silver lining to forest fires burning across the province right now responsible for the haze.  While we haven’t had forest fires around Bragg Creek and Kananaskis so far this summer, there are ten fires in Alberta currently.  Most are being held or are under control presently with only one reported as being out of control.  It is a testament to people involved in fighting these fires and a reminder of our place in this natural cycle that allows for rebirth.


Eagle along the Cowboy Trail

On to the perch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

A Bald Eagle spent a couple of mornings in and around a field east of Bragg Creek where the prairie starts.

2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

He landed in the grass in one general spot a few times on the two days that I stopped to watch so I suspect there was a carcass that was an easy meal.

Scouring the field - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/25ooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800

The only distraction came from a pair of ravens that pestered the eagle in the air and on the field.  They proved to not be a significant deterrent as the eagle muscled them out away.

Bird jousting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800


The Prairies in Chief Mountain Country

Morning on Chief Mountain - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/6400 second at f/4 on ISO 400

We stayed near Cardston in southern Alberta a couple of weeks ago visiting family who have a cabin there.  I went out for a morning on the prairie to see what would catch my eye.  I was looking for wildlife initially but the prairie landscape became the focus.

A farm on the foothills - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 24-105mm lens at 32mm: 1/2500 second at f/4 on ISO 1600

Forgotten on the prairie - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2500 second at f/4 on ISO 800

Tractor on the prairies - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1000 second at f/8 on ISO 400

I photographed some farm scenes, abandoned buildings and foothill landscapes.  Chief Mountain stands out from the line of peaks that are the Rocky Mountains where they cross Canada into the United States.  The mountain is close to Cardston on the edge of Waterton National Park and holds dominion over the rolling hills east of the mountains.  I have not photographed this mountain before and I liked working with the contrast of the surrounding farmland.

Barn and Chief - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/160 second at f/16 on ISO 400

 


Red-tailed Hawks have returned to the prairies

Red-tailed flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) have the good sense to avoid winter on the prairies and they head south in late fall each year.  It’s always exciting when they start to return and I have been seeing them more and more over the last couple of weeks.  A little while ago, I found this one perched in a great, wild-looking tree along Highway 8, west of Calgary.

Perched but ready to fly - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I could see the hawk was getting ready to fly so I watched from the ditch for a minute until it launched.  There was a second hawk, presumably its mate, in a tight stand of trees so I figured that would be the direction it flew.

Flying through the trees - 2014 © Christopher Martin

It landed beside its partner and when I drove past them I could see a nest buried in the far side of the trees.  Photographs of the nest would not be in their best interest but I hope to see chicks fledge later in the spring.

Perched together - 2014 © Christopher Martin


Prairie storm

So far, spring has come in fits and starts.  Over the weekend we had a day long snowstorm on Saturday and then it was warm enough to wear shorts outside on Sunday!  Crazy stuff but not too far from normal in April on the prairies.

Prairie - 2014 © Christopher Martin

My son and I were out for the day and I photographed these horses when we were in Springbank, west of Calgary.  I appreciated their ignorance of sleet falling and the cold winds.


Elbow Falls in winter’s clothing again

Elbow Falls in winter's clothing - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 17mm: 1/3rd of a second at f/16 on ISO 200

With fresh snow on the ground, I went back up to Elbow Falls to see how the valley would look in a return to winter clothing.  I was there only a week ago and the change, beyond the cold, was significant.  I love snow-covered landscapes so I found this visit to Kananaskis to be a very beautiful one.  I think spring is coming soon but when winter is this pretty, I don’t mind a little delay.

Early morning blues - 2014 © Christopher MartinThe blues before dawn…
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 26mm: 3.2 seconds at f/11 on ISO 200
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2014 © Christopher MartinFirst light in the mountains
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 25mm: 1.3 seconds at f/11 on ISO 50
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2014 © Christopher MartinSunshine into the mist
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 17mm: 1/8th of a second at f/16 on ISO 50

 


Wind in the mountains

 Wind in the mountains - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII + 300mm f/4 lens: 1/4000th of a second at f/11 on ISO 400

The winds that came with the weather change last weekend were heavy when I left my home in Bragg Creek for the Banff National Park in the morning.  When I got into the mountains, the Bow Valley was pretty calm but higher up on the slopes, the snow was blowing around in opaque sheets while the clouds raced by above.  Watching from the Vermillion Lakes shoreline, I was mesmerized by the view of Mount Rundle.  The sun catching the wispy snow drawn out over the slopes before fraying into the shadow as it flew over the cliffs was beautiful to watch.


Sunset across the prairies

Winter sunset - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/45 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

A few days ago, the clouds were anchored along the eastern edge of the Rockies all afternoon and I was not sure how the sunset would develop.  Well, I guess I was sure that the winter sun would go down early and fast but what the light would do was the question.

Cloud fire - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/70 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

I found myself on the edge of Springbank, west of Calgary, at 5:30 and the clouds had stretched east across the prairies and were catching and filtering the rich glow from the sun now hidden behind the mountains.

Up to darkness - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/50 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

It was a scene that didn’t require much input from me to create images.  I did like the reflections on my car’s glass and hood so that provided an opportunity to play around a bit.

A thin slice of sunset - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/60 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

Sunset reflected - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/40 of a second at f/8 on ISO 1600

Bobbi and I are off to Sedona, Arizona tomorrow for a week – this landscape session provided a nice warm-up for the spectacular red rock scenery I’m looking forward to photographing down there.


Winter’s raptor

Prairie hunter - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The Rough-legged hawks (Buteo lagopus) have arrived along the prairies with winter back.  Along with Snowy owls, they will dominate the skies until well into spring.

Launch - 2013 © Christopher Martin
I was excited to see Snowies a couple of times in the morning last weekend but they were less enthused to see me and flew away before I could stop.  This hawk was much more tolerant, I was able to photograph it for half an hour as it perched and flew along the fence line.

Rough command - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Cotton Candy

Cotton candy above - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Fuji X100S: 1/30 of a second at f/8 on ISO 800

I couldn’t help but think of the carnival ground food staple when I was photographing at dawn a couple of days ago.


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