Winter

Snowies east of Langdon

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0324

I drove east of Langdon in the evening a couple of days ago looking for owls.  At this time of the year the odds are decent to see Snowy owls perched on a silo or a fence line so I was looking for them as well as Short-eared owls that have been reported in that area recently.   It was about an hour before sundown when I found a Snowy owl perched a couple of hundred metres away along a fence line.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0380

This beautiful fellow flew between a few posts and was not interested in having me around so I headed west as the sun fell behind a tall bank of clouds standing over the Rocky Mountains.  I found the second, and final, Snowy of the afternoon on a small oil and gas installation built on a rise that was a bit of a hike from the road.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0571

She was perched on a storage tank and took only passing interest in me during my 15 minute walk towards her.  As I drew closer I took a few photographs and as color came into the sky with sunset, I took a bunch more :)!

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0602

She kept tabs on me but had her focus on the surrounding fields.  I didn’t see anything of note but it was a different story for the owl.

 

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0722

When she did launch she glided over to another small hill then dived into the field where it seemed she caught something.  It was too far for me to make out and when she flew again after a couple of minutes she went further away and I had no interest in chasing her any further.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0730


A Snowy owl against the evening sky

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0591

Canon 5DIII camera + 500mm f/4 lens: 1/640 seconds at f/4 on ISO 3200

I spotted this Snowy owl perched on this oil and gas installation east of Langdon.  She was about a kilometre off the road so I parked, grabbed my gear and headed over.  She was scanning to the east while I approached from the west side.  As I walked she kept an eye on my, swivelling her neck to watch me infrequently.  From a hundred metres away, with colour brushing into the sky as the sun set, I stopped to compose this photograph.  I love these birds and I love sunsets – these seemed to be interesting juxtapositions to the storage tank she was perched on.

 

 


Dawn along the prairie’s horizon

A fiery dragon over the prairie - © Christopher Martin-8907-2

Early morning is my favourite time to be out on the prairies at any time of the year.  There is a tranquility born out of the silence that hangs over the land before dawn whose beauty draws me in.  I love the big sky and where it meets the horizon as the sun approaches there is an evolving magic which shows different faces as the night retreats and slips away.

Prairie dawn - winter morning - © Christopher Martin-8959

This morning southeast of High River in early January this year was beautiful.  The silhouette of the trees and the grain silos provided great anchors in these photographs of the eastern glow and the blazing cloud that suggested a dragon’s nature to me.

Prairie dawn - winter morning - © Christopher Martin-8977

Prairie dawn - winter morning - © Christopher Martin-8857


De-icing planes at YYC – revisited

De-icing planes at YYC - 2014 © Christopher Martin-070025

I originally published one photograph of the patterns of steam created by workers de-icing planes in January 2014, the day after I took the picture when I arrived in Arizona.  I processed the image quite minimally as I believe I was working off of an iPad and had limited time to work on the images.  Last year, a more true to life, and to my eye more pleasing, version was recognized in the CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year competition.  This version required some processing as RAW files are quite flat and high contrast images can require a bit of work to bring them out.

De-icing planes at YYC - 2014 © Christopher Martin-070525

For a recent competition I entered, I submitted a series of different images from the same time.  I liked the abstract quality of the steam created by the patterns and swirls, backlit by the just risen sun.  I wanted to share those here – with the break in the freezing temperatures this morning, I thought it was a nice reminder of just how cold winter can be in Alberta!

De-icing at YYC - 2014 © Christopher Martin-070825

De-icing at YYC - 2014 © Christopher Martin-072725

De-icing planes at YYC - 2014 © Christopher Martin-070725

De-icing at YYC - 2014 © Christopher Martin-071425

 


Photographing through dawn on the prairies

Dawn hoar frost landscape - © Christopher Martin-9565

I spent a morning photographing the sun rising over the prairies west of Calgary on the weekend.  In the image above, the alpen glow to the west heralds the sun’s coming approach.  When the sun came up, the pink quickly washed out of the sky and painted the eastern flanks of the Rocky Mountains and then these stands of trees that break up this field along Highway 8.  I love watching these transitions as colors deepen, fade and change altogether.

Dawn hoar frost landscape - © Christopher Martin-9614

Facing a low sun, shadows stretched out long across the snow.  I played with those for a bit under the increasingly blue sky before heading home.

Dawn hoar frost landscape - © Christopher Martin-9755


Blue sky, white owl

White owl, blue sky - © Christopher Martin-9212-2

The cold morning cleared out a few early clouds and the afternoon east of High River was bright under a deep blue sky.  I found a couple of Snowy owls across the day with this one’s flight after launching from a telephone pole standing out due to the sunlight catching the yellow eyes brilliantly.  A great day on the prairies with these beautiful animals.


Elbow River Dawn

Elbow River Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1831-2

I went out for a mountain bike this morning along the Elbow River.  The temperature was near -20°C and the snow-covered trails were a bit slippery – and it was a great ride.  It was before the sun had come up and the land was emerging from the dark draped in soft, bluish light.  The alpen glow in the clear sky to the west added a magical pink hue to the scene.

Elbow River Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1826-2

These two images were taken before and after the sunlight lit up the Kananaskis mountains.  The first was at 8:27 and the next 13 minutes later, just a minute after sunrise.

Elbow River Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1841

 

 


A Sandcrawler stuck in the snow

Winter Jawas - © Christopher Martin-1535

Snow is exceptionally rare on Tatooine, the desert planet homeworld of Luke and Anakin Skywalker.  No matter how rare, snow fell near Wayfar recently and a Jawa Sandcrawler found a way to get stuck in it.

Winter Jawas - © Christopher Martin-1561

When Boba Fett arrived on the scene, things could have got much worse for the Jawas.  The Mandalorian bounty hunter may have come looking for something or someone but he did not stay long.  Nor did he help the Jawas which is not surprising given his occupation and general demeanour.

Boba Fett - © Christopher Martin-1581

Winter Jawas and Boba Fett - © Christopher Martin-1606

Winter Jawas - © Christopher Martin-1590

Note: I’m a Star Wars fan and with the latest release, The Force Awakens, my son and I have been spending a lot of time in that universe.  It was a fun bit of play making these setups.  May the force be with you.

Winter Jawas - © Christopher Martin-1538


Ice fog in the forest

Ice mist forest in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-3583

Cold morning air met the early sunshine and seemed to create ice fog that quickly flowed off the fields west of Bragg Creek into the trees.  The fog rose up as well and filtered the rising sun as well.

Ice mist filtering the sun over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-3585


Elbow Falls in winter’s clothing

Winter sunrise at Elbow Falls - © Christopher Martin-4076

We have had a few stormy blasts throughout November and the snow seems to be intent on sticking around right now.  With the beauty of the winter landscape running through my head, I went up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis early one morning to catch the sunrise.

WINTER DAWN AT ELBOW FALLS - © Christopher Martin-4088

It turned out to be a beautiful dawn matched only by the tranquility I was able to enjoy sharing the waterfall with the resident Dippers (small birds not swimmers!) and the rushing water.

WINTER DAWN AT ELBOW FALLS - © Christopher Martin-4106


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!


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”.


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