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My favourite wildlife photographs from 2015

 

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-2372

The past year was an interesting one for my wildlife photography.  I stayed largely in Alberta for the year and the animals presented in this gallery are almost all from close to my home.  Reflecting on that, I’m reminded what an incredible place I live in. Owls were prominent throughout the year with Snowy, Great gray and Great horned owls all sharing time with me.  Black and Grizzly bears were less seen for me but what I had were memorable for me.  I continue to deeply appreciate the more common animals and enjoyed revisiting some of those images when I was putting together this set.  The gallery is made up of 40 images and can be visited by clicking this link or the link above.

Bragg Creek spring owl - © Christopher Martin-5762

Looking back over the year, I pushed myself to create more dynamic images with a goal to show more of the animal’s power, grace and general movement.  I wanted to bring more patience to my time in the field and that has paid off with longer encounters and more enjoyment of the beautiful places I am in while I wait for something to fly, walk or run past.  I have continued to learn more about the animals that I spend time with and that knowledge benefits me in many ways beyond photography. This year I began connecting on a spiritual level with many of the animals that I encounter.  That continues to be an amazing journey whose benefit to my photography is significant but is a distant second to feeling the awareness of these beautiful creatures.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1945

I’m excited for the encounters that will come in the new year, the connections I will seek to establish and the places these intentions will lead me to.  Thank you for following my imagery through the year – I am honoured by everyone who chooses to spend time looking at, and hopefully enjoying, my photographs.  Let’s see where things go in 2016…

Jasper Black Bear - © Christopher Martin Photography-9739

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

 

 

Happy New Year!

From our family to yours, we wish you joy and love throughout the year.

New Year Fireworks - © Christopher Martin-8787

I’m excited about new opportunities, new encounters and new photographs in 2016.  I hope this year brings more of what is important to you and yours.

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve Eagles

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8610

A pair of Bald eagles were drawn to Redwood Meadows today.  My daughter and I spotted them flying overhead when we were on our way to grab an ice cream cone in Bragg Creek.  We stopped going there and again on the way back.  They were drawn by a deer that had died near the golf course.  Ravens were on the ground while the eagles bided their time above in the nearby trees.

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8528

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8554

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8609

 

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8568

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8578

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

More from the Yamnuska Aurora

Aurora Borealis over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-7995

On December 20th, the Aurora Borealis were very active above the Ghost Lake area.  I spent a bit of time photographing a prairie church with the Northern Lights before I went to Mount Yamnuska.  The colors visible against the night sky varied between green, purple and blue as the charged particles slamming into the Earth’s upper atmosphere interacted with different atoms.

Aurora over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-7561

Aurora over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-7774

Aurora over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-7881

Aurora over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-7868

After a couple of hours, it was close to 6am and I was pretty worn out.  One of my last images, below, I was facing northeast and caught the aurora along with the city glow from Cochrane and the earliest hint of dawn.  I went home and played catch up with sleep.

Aurora over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-8051

 

Christmas day around the house

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8254

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8226

Kezia and Kian had fun from early Christmas morning when Kezia told her grandparents she just missed Santa Claus.  We made it out sledding in the backyard before lunch and then we had family visit in the afternoon.

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8265

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8283

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8364

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8342

On Boxing day we had thirty family members come over for dinner – kids and adults all seemed to have a great evening.

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8407

Christmas Day with the kids - © Christopher Martin-8410

I hope everyone is enjoying a lot of family time!

Merry Christmas!

I hope that everyone is enjoying a Merry Christmas with those they love.  We had an early start with Santa’s stockings for the kids starting the morning off right.  Coffee helped the adults wake up, and then catch up, with Kezia’s and Kian’s enthusiasm.  A lot of laughs, smiles and hugs – just what this daddy was looking for!

Great horned owl at Christmas - © Christopher Martin-6717

This Great horned owl was a patient subject when I was guiding a new friend and fellow photographer from Colorado around the prairies.  We toured the gravel backroads east of High River and this was the first of three owls (two Great horned and one Snowy) we spent some time with.  With the very light plumage, I think of it as a Christmas owl.  It must be the season!

With warmest regards from my family to yours,

Chris

Aurora and the McDougall Church

McDougall Aurora - © Christopher Martin-7280

The Aurora Borealis was just starting to visibly glow when I arrived at the McDougall Memorial United Church near Morley, Alberta.  Cochrane’s city lights reflected off the large cloud behind the church which brought the peach hues into the scene.  It is a tranquil scene to look at while I recall the heavy wind and biting cold that came along with it.  Still, I was happy to be out and it was a beautiful start to a great night watching the Northern Lights.

Aurora over Yamnuska

Aurora over Yamnuska - © Christopher Martin-7588

On the weekend the Aurora Borealis leaped to life on both Saturday and Sunday night.  I was too tired to head out on Sunday night after staying out until 6am that morning.  The Northern Lights rippled for over five hours so I had the luxury of being able to travel around and photograph them in different locations.  I finished the night at the foot of Mount Yamnuska and watched them dance until just before dawn.  I will have more to share soon but wanted to post this one from the early selects where the charged electrons were interacting with Nitrogen in the Earth’s upper atmosphere to create the less typical purple flames alongside the Oxygen which creates the more common green glow.

A Stormtrooper in YYC

I caught Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday and absolutely loved it.  The continuation of the saga is a joyride I have been looking forward to enormously and the movie met my loftiest hopes :)

Star Wars - Stormtroopers in YYC - © Christopher Martin-7106

Earlier in the week, my kids and I went downtown for my birthday evening and we saw these Stormtroopers walking near The Bow.  Great foreshadowing for us.  There was a film crew with them so it was some form of promotional shoot.  That didn’t stop the kids and I getting really excited daydreaming about walking into the middle of a real life Star Wars scene.

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