Winter

A Snowy owl’s elusive smile

A Snowy cry - © Christopher Martin-1524

This Snowy owl had been chirping at some ravens nearby when it was perched on a telephone pole and they were flying above.  Eventually one came too close which prompted the owl’s leap into the air.  She looped around the pole once before settling on another one further from the mischief makers.  While banking in the turn photographed above she cried out again.  This time proved an excellent opportunity to photograph her “smile”.


A Snowy Owl’s flight over the prairies

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1458

On the weekend I followed reports of Snowy owls northeast of Calgary near Irricana.  I left home early and arrived in the area just after sunrise.  I was lucky enough to spy the first Snowie of the day perched on a fence post glowing in the soft light.

Irricana Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-1415

The pure white owls were until quite recently thought to always be males.  That has been disproved leaving it hard to determine the gender from casual observation.  I will allow for the old convention though and refer to this one as a he.  The other four birds I photographed that morning were banded to varying degrees and I will refer to them as ladies in a future post.  It took only a few minutes before he launched and scouted low over the field for breakfast.  This was repeated a couple of times with each sortie ending with a return to the fence line.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1457

On the last flight that I photographed of this owl, he flew away from the fence and landed in the middle of the field on a pipeline valve which allowed for an interesting backlit shot as he flared his wings to land.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1474


Prairie landscapes

Prairie ghost light - © Christopher Martin-0264

An early morning east of Calgary near Strathmore looking for Snowy owls came up with only one shy one isolated in a field.  This allowed time to see the prairie landscape.  And, as it has turned out, one of the last days before the warm weather of the past couple of weeks came and melted all of the snow.  While I’m not missing the bitter cold, I did enjoy the icy air and snow-covered fields when I was out then.

Lonely Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-9963

Broke down - © Christopher Martin-0344

Backlight on the prairie - © Christopher Martin-9940


Snow in the forests

Snow branch - © Christopher Martin-5283

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

… and just about everywhere else in this part of the world is frozen solid.  Temperatures have been stuck below -20°C for the week.  Much too cold but rather beautiful.  This branch hung over a trail I was on near Johnson Lake in the Banff National Park.  It seemed to be a fitting summary of the change into full winter.


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


One more return to winter in Banff

Snowstorm on Banff Avenue 2014 © Christopher Martin

The snow returned for a weekend long storm.  I was in Banff for a night and this was the town on Saturday morning.  Heavy snow then and more since then.

Waiting at the bus stop - 2014 © Christopher Martin

The night before I was out for a walk and a friend at the bus stop suggested a photo of the storm.  The flash lit up the flakes of snow between me and them and illustrate this spring storm’s intensity.

Elk on the edge of Vermilion Lake - 2014 © Christopher Martin

A herd of elk fanned out on the edge of the first Vermilion Lake and, with a slight break in the low cloud, one flank of Mount Rundle came into view to make for a nice scene.


A blizzard at Elbow Falls

Elbow Falls - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 24-105mm lens at 65mm: 2.5 seconds at f/16 on ISO 200

I went back to Elbow Falls for the third time in the last couple of weeks.  With the snowstorm that blew in on the weekend, I was drawn back to see another face to the area.  Heavy snowflakes had piled up in the trees and across the rocks with more falling rapidly when I was up there.  A slip on the ice was my payment for passage but I liked the scene I slid into.  The falling snow gave the trees a charcoal sketched look while the rocks and water in the river had texture and character that seemed to suit black and white processing.


Raven flight

Raven flight - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 70-200mm lens at 200mm: 1/6400th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600

I went out for a long walk in Kananaskis this morning.  Along an old road I hadn’t traveled on before, I was kept company by the heavy snow falling and a lone raven that croaked as I was returning to the trailhead.  I stopped for a few minutes and heard another raven further down the valley that was talking with “my” raven.  This one flew off in that direction and I carried on.


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.


Ice and Snow: lines and shadows

20140301-163635.jpg

The waves of mild temperatures then bitter cold that have been winter’s pattern this year have played havoc with the ice.

20140301-163828.jpg

Along the Elbow River the once smooth sheets of water frozen layer on layer, have buckled and split along the channel.

20140301-164117.jpg

The temperature went into free fall yesterday but the blue skies pulled me outside this morning. Near the edge of the ice down the Elbow I spent some time photographing the forms created by the blanket of snow, broken ice cover, and the long shadows of winter.

20140301-164231.jpg


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,969 other followers