Leaping Tiger Gorge – a legendary canyon below the Tibetan Plateau

Leaping Tiger Gorge - © Christopher Martin-9392

The Leaping Tiger Gorge is a deep canyon created by the Jinsha River whose headwaters are in the Tibetan Plateau is the upper course of the Yangtze River.  The water volume is immense and with the amount of ground carved away always runs a earthy colour.  The color is repeated with some of the ripples in the rock exposed between the water and the edge of the forest which traces a ragged line above the river.

Leaping Tiger Gorge - © Christopher Martin-9345

There is a visitor site that is interesting and allows you to descend several hundred feet down to the river level.   The legend holds that a tiger was once seen leaping across the gorge.  At a minimum distance of 82′ (25m) that would have been amazing to watch.  Being able to feel the spray off of the rapids and hear the roar of the water up close was beautiful.  I think I will remember my time in the gorge for a very long time.

Leaping Tiger Gorge - © Christopher Martin-9351

Leaping Tiger Gorge - © Christopher Martin-9406

Leaping Tiger Gorge - © Christopher Martin-9390

Vicki Alford made the excellent suggestion to include some imagery to show the river’s power.  I have included an image with a faster shutter speed taken from a viewing deck roughly halfway down the canyon.

Leaping Tiger Gorge - © Christopher Martin-9281


Blowing snow abstracts along the Continental Divide

Blowing snow off of Beatrice Peak - © Christopher Martin-3028
After hiking along the Boom Lake trail last weekend, I drove into the Kootenay National Park for a little ways.  I stopped when I noticed the snow blowing off of the peaks along the Ball Range that is a line of mountains along the Continental Divide.  Looking up from the British Columbia – Alberta border on Highway 93, the snow was backlit by the sun which had still not risen above the wall created by Storm Mountain, Beatrice Peak and Stanley Peak.

Blowing snow off of Beatrice Peak - © Christopher Martin-3022

Wind pushed veils of cloud up the valley obscuring the ridgeline for seconds or minutes.  When the view was clear, it presented a constantly changing scene as the snow lifted into the air.

Blowing snow off of Beatrice Peak - © Christopher Martin-2968

A glimpse of winter at Boom Creek

Boom Creek dressed for winter - © Christopher Martin-2829

I went for a hike along the trail to Boom Lake on the weekend and felt like I walked into a preview of winter.  The lake is near the aptly named Storm Mountain on the western edge of Banff National Park and the area was already blanketed in 1-1.5′ (30-45cm) of snow.  With the sun shining, I was happy to walk along the trail for a couple of kilometres as it was an area new to me.  From the trailhead a bridge crosses over Boom Creek almost immediately.  I slipped under the bridge on my way out and set up the photograph above which I felt illustrated the wintry feel.  This image is also the December image on my just completed 2016 landscape calendar so it was a worthwhile hike on a couple of fronts!

Dawn at Two Jack Lake in the Banff National Park

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2600

With the cooler days that have come with November, we have had some snow fall up in the mountains.  I went up to Two Jack Lake for sunrise on Friday to see how things would look with a bit of snow in the picture.  Facing Mount Rundle and her reflection in the water there was just the odd skiff of snow along the shoreline.  The color deepened in the sky for a few minutes before it started to color the clouds clinging to the mountain.

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2610

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2607-2

When I first arrived, the sun was still a while away from lighting up the clouds.  The darker scene, below, allowed for a longer exposure and more stretch to the clouds and water.

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2585

I love this time of year when snow starts to build up and the scenic opportunities shift to one dominated by the white blanket that settles unevenly across the land.  Winter in the Banff National Park is probably my favourite time of the year there.  It is exciting to be on the edge of it.

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2648



Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park

Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1817

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.

Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1698

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.

Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1733

(Please click on any image to see a higher resolution version)

Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1772

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.

Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1801

Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1808

The pink softened quickly and pastels held the sky until the sun blew away the soft hues of the early morning.

Vermilion Lakes Sunrise in the Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1831





Ganden Sumtseling Monastery at dusk

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery at dusk - © Christopher Martin-6850-3
(please click on the image to open a higher resolution version)

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.

Autumn dawn at Elbow Falls

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1173

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.

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1160

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1132

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1108

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1121

Sarrail Falls – a waterfall in the woods

Sarrail Falls in Kananaskis - © Christopher Martin-0634

The Sarrail Falls that spill across several terraces before emptying into the Upper Kananaskis Lake is a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by heavy forest in the steep hillside of Mount Sarrail’s lower slopes.  The path to this waterfall starts at the lake’s eastern parking lot and is set just above the shoreline.  It is a comfortable trail that is about 1-1.15 km to this feature but carries on around the entire lake.  I had planned to complete the loop but spent almost two hours watching, photographing, enjoying and studying the waterfall instead.

Sarrail Falls in Kananaskis - © Christopher Martin-0727

The 2013 flood hit this creek heavily destroying the bridge as well as sending tree trunks and boulders cascading down.  These are still found perched, lodged or lying nearby all along the water’s path.  I found a beauty in these that added to the overall scene and suggested to me the cycles of birth, growth and death as well as of constant change.  Along with the varying crescendos of the water’s orchestra, I found myself enjoying some deep thoughts and the time to chew on them – a luxurious gift to allow oneself!

Sarrail Falls in Kananaskis - © Christopher Martin-0665

At the end, with the morning moving quickly towards noon, I chose the short walk back and the lunch I had waiting for me.

An autumn morning reflected in Upper Kananaskis Lake

Upper Kananaskis Lake - © Christopher Martin-0586

I started a great day in Kananaskis earlier this weekend walking along the shoreline of the Upper Kananaskis Lake in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  At sunrise I was photographing a pair of moose, a mother and her calf, in a meadow and I ended up spending most of the morning at the Sarrail Falls.  However, when I parked near the boat launch at the lake, the soft light, subtle autumn accents, calm water and brilliant reflection of the mountains in the water mesmerized me for several minutes.  I had the lake to myself for a little while and enjoyed the beauty immensely.

Morning reflected in Upper Kananaskis Lake - © Christopher Martin-0593

Eclipse of the super moon

September's super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0370

Last night was the lunar eclipse where the moon turned a deep red which lasted for more than an hour.  I traveled to south to get to the edge of the clouds which had rolled in over my home in Bragg Creek before sunset.  In Turner Valley I found clear skies and set up as the moon was entering the earth’s shadow.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0337

I was awestruck, as usual, with this fourth of the tetrad of lunar eclipses which have been spaced six months apart starting in April 2014.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0413

It was a beautiful transit with the moon’s surface moving through oranges and reds before returning to her brilliant white.  It has been an incredible series of events to witness and I have enjoyed photographing them immensely.  I’m excited about the new beginnings and opportunities they herald.

Super blood moon - © Christopher Martin-0468

Evening skies over the Waterton National Park

Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-4026

The night skies around Waterton were magical in the weekend that we were down there (Aurora and the Milky Way).  Even better were the sunsets we were treated to as night fell.

Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-3345The golds came in softly and then gave way to deep purples and pinks as the waning light skipped under the clouds above the western flank of Waterton National Park in southern Alberta.   The first and last files were in-camera HDR images taken with my Canon 5DIII – I use this function rarely but for the second night’s sunsets, it seemed well suited to me.

Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-3388



Waterton Sunset - © Christopher Martin-4020

The Milky Way over Waterton

Milky Way over Waterton - © Christopher Martin-3462

The stars in the Waterton area shine brilliantly under the dark sky.  From our campsite, my son and I could make out the Milky Way as it rose out of the mountains that line the valley from the town and down the lake.


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