Banff National Park

A clearing storm in the park

Storm clearing - © Christopher Martin-8704

This meadow in the Bow Valley often provides a reflection of the current of the weather affecting much of the park.  On this day in early November, the remnants of a storm was thrashing around in the mountains while more promising blue sky opened up above.

 

Vermilion overcast - © Christopher Martin-5473

Earlier in the morning, the clouds hung low over the Vermilion Lakes hiding all but the lowest slopes of Sulphur Mountain across the water.  Later in the day when I returned along the Trans Canada Highway the clouds were truly broken up and it proved to be a very nice autumn afternoon in the Banff National Park.

After the storm - © Christopher Martin-8897


Bow Valley – late autumn, early snow

First snow in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-8598

Winter snuck an early snowstorm into Banff National Park’s Bow Valley last weekend.  By mid-morning, most of the snow had melted away in the valley bottom but the upper slopes were still dominated by the white mixed with the green of the forest.  It was a beautiful landscape to enjoy – we’ll see how long it takes before the snow takes hold for a longer stay.


November snow reflected in the Vermilion Lakes

November in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5469

(Please click any image to open a higher resolution version)

Following an unusually warm Hallowe’en, the temperature dropped below freezing.  That low pressure system was accompanied by heavy clouds and snow flew for the first and second days of November in southern Alberta.  On Sunday, I left Bragg Creek early in the morning with the snow still falling fast.  By the time I was in Banff, the cloud ceiling was much higher and the snow falling much softer.  Before noon, the sun was out and the winter wonderland was starting to melt away quickly at the lower elevations.  I went down to the Vermilion Lakes to see how things looked and check if any of the wild residents were wandering about.  I didn’t find much wildlife, but the landscape looking beautiful with the shoreline’s snow gone but the belt of white starting only twenty or so metres above.  When the long chain of freight cars riding the rails on the far side of the second lake came into view I stopped to take a few photographs.

November in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5473


Autumn at Pilot Pond in Banff

Autumn - © Christopher Martin-6513

We have enjoyed a long fall season this year.  Sometimes winter steals in before it seems like summer had closed off.  This autumn is now closing in on two months and has been quite a nice season.  I went to a small lake, Pilot Pond, which lies in the Bow Valley facing Pilot Mountain in the Banff National Park a week ago and felt the scenery around the water was a nice reflection of the fall we have had in the mountains.

Pilot Mountain in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-6030

(Please click any image to open a higher resolution version)

Autumn - © Christopher Martin-6501

 

Autumn - © Christopher Martin-6569

 

Autumn - © Christopher Martin-6471

Autumn - © Christopher Martin-6530

I was alone except for one female Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) out on the water biding its time, and once flapping its wings, before continuing south.

Autumn - © Christopher Martin-5062

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Daybreak over Banff

  Waiting for sunrise over Banff - © Christopher Martin-5850 I watched the sky brighten above the Banff from Norquay Meadow.  The moon lit the mountain a little while the townsite’s lights glowed in the valley below.


Moonrise over Mount Rundle

 

Moonrise over Rundle - © Christopher Martin-9579

My son and I were in Banff for the weekend and went out for a drive along the Vermilion Lakes just before sunset on Saturday night.  We stopped at the first lake to watch the colors deepen on the face of Mount Rundle as the sun was going down.  Another photographer, Grace Chen visiting from Calgary, asked me where the moon would be rising.  I had to admit that I didn’t know – I hadn’t done any planning as Kian and I were water sliding all afternoon and the drive was a last-minute decision.  I was quite surprised when I next looked in the viewfinder and saw a sliver of white rising behind the mountain!  It was fun to point at the peak as a response to her question.

Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-9546
I had been a bit disappointed that there were no clouds but that proved to be very fortunate.  I loved the clean elements of the blue sky, white moon and reddish rocks.

Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-9590

 

The moon climbed quickly, becoming steadily brighter and I finished shooting less than half an hour after first seeing it.  The sunlight on the mountain moved from deep yellow to a beautiful red while the sky steadily darkened.  It was not quite a full moon, being at 98%, but was still bright and wonderful.

Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-9588

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Mount Rundle Moonrise Reflected - © Christopher Martin-4640

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Moonrise over Rundle - © Christopher Martin-4643

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Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-4647


A Banff Grizzly on the move

A summer's walk - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 300mm lens: 1/1600 second at f/4 on ISO 2000

I spent one morning in Banff on the weekend and came across a male Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) along the Bow Valley Parkway.  He spent some time in one roadside meadow chewing on a everything green he could see.

Stepping across the line - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DII and 70-200mm lens at 122mm: 1/250 second at f/4 on ISO 800

Before long, he crossed the road and then headed into the trees leaving a group of vehicles and their occupants behind.  I hoped he was heading towards a larger meadow about a mile east and drove there to wait and see.

2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 70-200mm lens at 149mm: 1/1000 second at f/4 on ISO 2000

Apparently the dandelions and lush vegetation were calling him and after not too long a wait he strode out of the forest and continued chowing down.  He stayed there for more than an hour, disappearing briefly a couple of times before finally heading deeper into the shadows.

Meadow lunch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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

Although winter felt slow to leave, the greenery now seems abundant and makes me hopeful this bear and the other animals in the park will enjoy a long summer feast.

In the garden patch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1600 second at f/4 on ISO 1000


Minnewanka sheep in the snow

Bighorn kid at Minnewanka - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Just off Lake Minnewanka there was a small herd of Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) grazing along the side of the road.  They were a mix of mothers, kids and young rams.  All told there were less than fifteen animals stretched over a hundred or so meters.  With the worsening weather, they looked to be a somber group and showed little interest beyond a few glances at much beyond the grass underfoot.

Calm in the storm - 2014 © Christopher MartinThe rain had just turned to snow which bothered me more than these animals it seemed.  I was hoping the storm might not be too heavy but this front edge had made me think that unlikely.  For this encounter, I was happy to have the snow in the air to provide a bit of interest to the area around the sheep in some of the shots.

Ram's stare - 2014 © Christopher MartinWe watched one another for a few minutes before I headed off.  The snow continued to pick up and almost a foot of snow (30cm) fell that night.  This herd was smart to dine on the soon to be covered up grass along the road before the weather hit.

A pair of sheep - 2014 © Christopher Martin-

Doubling back - 2014 © Christopher Martin


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.


Migrating through the Rockies

Rocky migration - 2013 © Christopher Martin

A skein of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) broke from the standard V formation as they navigated through the Bow Valley corridor.  It may have been wind shear out of the mountains that pushed the birds around but as I watched them rise over a forested hill and bank around a massive peak, I had a notion they were playing as they flew along.  Very likely just my imagination having a bit of a run but I enjoyed watching the constantly changing pattern created by their silhouettes against the Banff National Park’s early winter landscape.


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