Latest

Snowy owls aloft in the blue sky

Overhead, underview - © Christopher Martin-2425
A sky free of clouds and a polarizer filter allowed for rich blue sky backgrounds for the flight shots I was able to take from morning through to noon last weekend.  South of Irricana, along Highway 567, there were five owls that I saw.  I was able to have eight separate encounters with these owls as I drove between their respective territories.
Snowy owl mid-flight - © Christopher Martin-1519
-
Full extension - © Christopher Martin-1517
It was pretty cold, -20°C, so waiting for each of the launches was a bit numbing.  But I like the set of images and the fingers did warm up later in the day.
Shadow wing - © Christopher Martin-2469
With the mild winter, that day excepted, that we have enjoyed so far, I have no idea how long the Snowy owl population will stay before they head north to their breeding grounds.  While they are here, it is great fun to be able to spend some time watching and photographing these most beautiful of birds.
Wings up, landing gear down - © Christopher Martin-1509

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

A Cabo dawn on the rocks

Dawn on the rocks - © Christopher Martin-1085

When we were in Los Cabos last December, we were able to enjoy beautiful sunrises almost every day.  This morning’s dawn was a favourite and I was out early to catch the sun rising out of the Sea of Cortez at these fingers of rock that I had scouted a few days earlier.

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

Cabo traffic’s night moves

Cabo traffic's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3351

Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/10th of a second at f/4.5 on ISO 640

Cars, motorcycles, buses and rickshaws swung by me one evening while I was in the heart of Cabo San Lucas.  With the neon signs hanging above many of the shops and the sky still deep blue, I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to drag my shutter and play with what images I could create.

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3364Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/5 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3432Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/5th of a second at f/13 on ISO 1600

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3283Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 4/10ths of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 200

When practicing motion photography, I like to try different techniques.  I switch between keeping the subject sharp by panning in sync with its movement and panning out of sync so that only a small part is sharp or the whole thing has a large or small amount of blur that pushes the image into an abstract shot.

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3339Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/4 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3372Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/3.5 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3296Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 3/10ths of a second at f/8 on ISO 640

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3419Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/4th of a second at f/10 on ISO 1600

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3383Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/13 on ISO 1600

 For the better part of an hour, the traffic kept me happily occupied while I waited for my bus to arrive.

Cabo's night moves - © Christopher Martin-3495Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 3200

An eagle in the woods

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0573-4

There was a murder of crows circling a wooded spot east of Bragg Creek that caught my attention.  I was driving into Calgary and pulled over to see what was going on.  At that moment, this Bald eagle flew out of the trees and blasted through the middle of the group.  They scattered and the eagle landed on a branch close by.

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0533

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0568

Whatever had drawn these opportunists in must have been deeper in the woods as I couldn’t see anything from where I was parked.  While the eagle looked around I had time to switch lenses in favour of the longest one I have so I was able to get in quite close.  The detail in the feathers was nice especially with the strong lighting – the relatively low angle of the sun in winter helped me here.

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0574

After a couple of minutes the eagle launched and banked into the forest.  The crows had not yet returned so I imagined that he was hoping to finish his meal before being bothered again.

 

A sentinel on the Prairie

A sentinel on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0331-3

I spent one morning this weekend on the prairies north of Strathmore around Bruce Lake.  This trip along the backroads came in between two chinooks and there was a thin blanket of snow that had fallen the day before to cover the land in white.  I had not explored this area previously and when I saw this tree framed by the broken down fence line, I was happy I to have come this way.  I can only imagine the vignettes that have played out in front of this gnarled trunk over many years.

Foxy runner

Foxy runner - © Christopher Martin-0195

 

I found this Red fox sprinting away from a farm west of Springbank, Alberta.  A dog was just giving up the chase when I caught sight of the fox running at full speed in the ditch.  By the time it passed me it was out of pursuit and was cantering along.

2014 Favourite Wildlife Photographs

Bald Eagle in the Prince Rupert harbour - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Eagles, owls and bears were chief among the highlights when I look back over my wildlife photography in 2014.  I spent time with Grizzlies in the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country and the Banff National Park.  Eagles were often elusive, spiralling far above or banking around a corner, but I had great encounters in Prince Rupert and in the Great Bear Rainforest.  Closer to home, Great Gray Owls and Great Horned Owls let me find them now and then in the foothills and out on the prairie.

(Please click on any image to open the gallery of 2014 wildlife images)

A flight over wildflowers - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Beyond these animals, interesting and beautiful wildlife in Mexico, Arizona and around southern Alberta also grabbed my attention.  Taking a bit of time to enjoy recalling all of these highlights, I created a gallery with 45 images that meant the most to me.  If you are interested in having a look, please click on any image or this gallery link to open a new webpage with my collection of these photographs.  It was a good year and I’m looking forward to more exciting encounters, taking more opportunities to learn more about the animals I photograph and to keep learning to see deeper and to create interesting imagery that tells some of their stories.

Banff Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-8215

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,013 other followers