Posts tagged “forest

A blizzard and a stream

Winter landscape - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I was walking along a forested stream that runs parallel with the Elbow River where they run under Highway 8 near Discovery Ridge on the western edge of Calgary on Saturday morning.  When the snow started to fall, it took very little time for the flakes to grow in both size and frequency.

In the blizzard - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The trees were soon cloaked in white, leaving the water alone to provide a little colour in the landscape.

Little rapids - 2013 © Christopher Martin

It was quiet with only the sound of the snow falling.  And a serene walk along this tributary to the Elbow River among the trees that edge its length.

The blizzard raven - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Near the end of the walk, a raven flew overhead – the snow visible between us.


First snow in Bragg Creek

With a dusting of snow - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The slushy rain we had for a couple of hours last night in Redwood Meadows was snow in Bragg Creek.  The kids and I toured through West Bragg to check out the first snow and see what wildlife we might find.

In the snow - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We found a few small groups of deer, Mules and White-tailed, in different places.  A young bull moose walked in front of us when we were on the edge of Kananaskis Country.  It was nice to see a few creatures out and about.

Young bull - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The afternoon was beautiful so I’m not sure if this first snowfall will stay on the ground or not.  It was great to work with white back in the color palette.

Reflections in Wild Rose - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Branches - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Snow on the shoreline - 2013 © Christopher Martin


A blue moon in the Khutzeymateen

The Khutzeymateen's Blue Moon - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500

On the last night in the Khutzeymateen there was a short break in the clouds right as the full moon was clearing the tree tops across the bay.  This was the fourth moon of the season earning the distinction of being a blue moon.  It seemed an appropriate way to end a spectacular visit to this wonderful inlet.


Hanging out with an owl

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250 of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500

I have had a couple of visits with a Great Gray Owl on one of the backroads in West Bragg over the past week.  This particular section of the gravel road has only yielded one moose a couple of years ago.  Still, it is a beautiful area so I often head up there as far as the private gate that cuts off the road’s climb out of the forest to a hilltop meadow.  Last weekend I was turning my car around and having a look up at the wind-broken treetops more out of habit than expectation.  The owl was perched in shadow just inside the forest’s edge.

Gazing up and over - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250 of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500

I hopped out and watched him for a minute before climbing up the hill across from the trees so that I could be at a similar height to the perch and hopefully catch some hunting action whenever the owl decided to dive down.

Note regarding the gender of this owl: I say him, because there was no urgency to this owl so I presume a nest full of owlets wasn’t waiting at home.  I could easily be wrong – I have not figured out how to determine whether a Great Gray Owl is male or female – yet.  So, I will stick with he for now as I much prefer that over “it”.  Either way, between concentrated stares into the tall grass below, feather grooming and very quick naps occupied his time.

Preening - 2013 © Christopher Martin-5533

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250 of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500

From his perch, the owl was busy looking around in the direction of any sounds or movement on the ground.  I heard little and saw less – the same was definitely not true for my figurative companion.   After the better part of an hour, he gave a quick shake and then dove almost straight down.

Free diving - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250 of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500.

I captured a few nice frames of the dive (the image above and the one that opens this post) but he disappeared from my view into the tall grass.  A couple of hops brought the now familiar head into sight and I could see he missed his target.

On the down low - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250 of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500

He launched back into the air and settled on the branch of a dead tree.  This time he was in the morning sun so he favoured me with a different setting to photograph him in.  Very photographer friendly was this fellow.

Settling onto a new perch - © Christopher Martin-5742

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/3200 of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600

I stayed on my hill for another half an hour and enjoyed watching the grooming, staring and napping habits.  I left him there and continued on the back roads.

In the forest - © Christopher Martin-5871

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/3200 of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600

This weekend, I had the house to myself and ended up sleeping in late on the morning I had planned to head out for sunrise.  Still, I was back on the same country road around 8 am with faint hopes of a repeat visit.  Scanning the broken trees again, I found no wildlife of any kind and completed my turn around.  Then, I saw the owl sitting in a branch about 20′ off the ground on the side of the road opposite where I had been looking.

Morning in the forest - 2013 © Christopher Martin-3289

Canon 5DII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + 1.4 extender at 121mm: 1/800 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 640

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Morning in the forest - 2013 © Christopher Martin-8597

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/3200 of a second at f/4 on ISO 500

He gazed at me for a few seconds, I nodded and he continued the pattern of watching, grooming and napping that I had watched the week before.  He added a bit of variety with a yawn here…

A big yawn - 2013 © Christopher Martin-8661

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + 1.4X extender at 280mm: 1/2000 of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 2500

A wing stretch there…

Owl yoga - © Christopher Martin-8734

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + 1.4X extender at 280mm: 1/2000 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 2500

After a half an hour, the owl flew to another stump and then went higher up into the trees further up the road.  As he launched out of the tree and went past me, I had a nice opportunity for a couple of in flight shots.

 Launch - © Christopher Martin-8759

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + 1.4X extender at 280mm: 1/1600 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 1600

Forest flight - © Christopher Martin-8762

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + 1.4X extender at 280mm: 1/1600 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 1600

He seemed to decide he had other places to be and flew deeper into the forest after just a couple of minutes perched in the canopy.

 Perched in the canopy - © Christopher Martin-8803

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250 of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500


Winter chaos

Winter chaos - © Christopher Martin-9847

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Winter chaos - © Christopher Martin-9847-3

A few echos of the blizzard from last week blew through since then.  More opportunities to photograph winter storms and with the image above I wanted to show the chaotic aspect often seen when the wind blows and the snow flies.  Click on the image to open a page with a higher resolution version.


Snowstorm through the trees

Snowstorm through the trees - © Christopher Martin-9870

A heavy blizzard blew through southern Alberta on Sunday.  The snow fell throughout the day with the wind keeping pace alongside.  The trees on the edge of Kananaskis Country caught pieces of the storm and twirled the snow around the branches in the evergreens.


Forest portraits of a Bragg Creek moose

Moose profile - © Christopher Martin-7302

When the mother and calf had retreated into the woods, this moose remained in the meadow and kept grazing.

On the down low - © Christopher Martin-7657-2

When she moved into a stand of brambles, I used larger apertures to minimize the depth of field to separate her head from the branches in the foreground and background.

Winter moose - © Christopher Martin-7580

The shallow plane of focus and a black and white conversion worked well for this image below.

In the brambles - © Christopher Martin-7372


Winter landscape: fire in the sky

Fire in the sky, winter edition - © Christopher Martin-6558-2

The glow before sunrise caught bands of clouds above the forests in West Bragg Creek.  With the temperature below -20°C, it was warming to see this early fire in the eastern sky.  I enjoyed taking a break from following moose tracks for a few minutes to watch the morning arrive.


Coyote on the move in Kananaskis

Jeff and I were driving back from the Kananaskis Lakes in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park when we saw a coyote trotting along the side of the road.  We pulled over, set up some long lenses and watched it approach.  As it drew closer, it neither sped up nor slowed down.  It cast a few glances our way but seemed to have some other place to be.

  The coyote crossed the road a couple of times, usually in advance of car coming.  Only two did while we watched and those drove it off of the pavement but not as far as the woods.

This animal looked to be in good health and did not look to be stressed as it carried on.  We were both very curious where it may have been heading.

After a few minutes, with the tail bobbing up and down with its bouncy stride, the coyote went out of sight as it rounded a corner further up the road.


Doe in a wet Kananaskis forest

A White-tailed deer stands wrapped by the forest in Kananaskis, Alberta

The rain fell hard up in Kananaskis on Friday morning and it served to make this deer almost glow in the wet forest.  There were a couple of coyote encounters and a beautiful sunrise that preceded this moment but this was really nice.


Elk in the forest in the Banff National Park

The trees in the forest were soaked and the rain was still falling as the morning brightened.  We found a large herd of elk in the woods in the Lake Minnewanka area of the Banff National Park.  There were seven or eight cows and two calves grazing, grooming and walking in the shadows.

And one beautiful bull.

He was back in the forest for quite a while and only came up to the edge of trees for a few minutes before moving slowly back again.  Nearby, one of the calves settled down on a patch of grass in a clearing.  It seemed to have only a passing interest in its observers.

The rest of the family was grazing through the forest.  The two below were content to share a clump of colourful leaves for lunch.

The bull came back for another lap along the frontline and we left soon after.


Sunrise along the Cowboy Trail

(please click on an image to link to a higher resolution version)

The Cowboy Trail runs through Bragg Creek and is lined with evergreen forest on either side of the town.  On the weekend I was heading out to Wild Rose to see about some of the birds there.  I left home as the morning colour was coming into the sky.  I was not planning to shoot the sunrise but within a few minutes of driving down Highway 22X, the road’s less evocative other name, I pulled over and spent a few minutes watching the clouds soak in the warm light.  It was an easy diversion and a great start to the day.


Bull Elk in the Jasper National Park

During the trip through the Jasper National Park last month, we found an elk feasting in a vibrant meadow on one of the evenings.  This bull’s antlers were one of the most impressive I have seen on a young elk.  The summer seemed to be moving along well for this beautiful creature judging by the growing rack and the shiny coat.

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Grizzly bear cub and a couple of trees

I was in Jasper photographing for a few days with a couple of good friends.  We had one day where we were able to get some glass on two separate mothers with their cubs.  One family was just the mother and her cub and it was this cub who proved to be an adept tree climber.

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The pair was snacking on berries when the little one trotted over to a tall tree and then shot up the trunk.  It stopped about 40′ up and looked around for a bit.  At that point we weren’t sure whether there would be a descent down the bark or a fall.

It was amazing to watch the bear when it decided to come down.  I can only describe it as a vertical slide and a very quick one.  The cub went back to mom and they foraged along for a while.  Then it climbed another tree, stayed up to enjoy the bird’s-eye view and then slid back down.  Very fast, very natural and really a treat to see this rascal go.

On the ground the bear did not appear agitated so I believe it was climbing out of curiosity and, possibly, just for the fun of it.


Spiritual Sedona

I enjoyed experiencing some of Sedona’s mystical places and the spiritual moments that have drawn ancient cultures and continues to pull people.

This trip was too short to really dive in but this photograph of the sun in the forest on the West Fork Trail near Sedona suggested something of the experience.


In the Oak Creek Canyon along the West Fork Trail

 

I went for a hike in late afternoon along the West Fork Trail which starts a few miles north of Sedona.  The trail follows Oak Creek as it runs against the contours of the steep Oak Creek Canyon walls.  These steep walls keep the heat found in Sedona at this time of year at bay and I found it to be a really nice temperature for a walk.  The trail itself is fairly level all the way up to the very last stretch so it was less a hike and more of a walk.  The forest with patches of wildflowers, many types of lush trees, birdsong and chittering insects was very enjoyable.  I spent a couple of hours on the trail, stopping to photograph a small outpost of butterflies, reflections of the scenery in pools formed in the shallows of slabs of red rock and everything else that caught my eye.  I saw this beautiful overhang of rock drawing the eye out to the greenery along the trail on my way up but it was a bit too bright for the image I had in mind.  When I came back that way on my back down, the light had cooperated and I was able to create what I was looking for.


Spring Snowstorm over Two Jack Lake

I drove around the Minnewanka Loop in the Banff National Park this morning on the search for wildlife, bears in particular.  The loop starts at the easternmost Banff townsite exit and goes uphill to Lake Minnewanka.  Along the way you can occasionally see wolves, bears, moose, elk, bighorn sheep and deer.  The snow was falling with great enthusiasm by 8 am this morning.  It made finding wildlife a bit more challenging but I loved how the sky looked filled with these huge flakes.

In the image above I was on a bluff looking over Two Jack Lake towards Mount Rundle.  This stand of trees is on a small point that juts out prominently.  With the snow this was the only feature of the lake that could be seen.  The trees looked like they were painted with brush strokes and this image shows some of that.


Great Gray Owl flights and perches in Bragg Creek

I had a great morning earlier this week watching this female Great Gray Owl.  She flew to several perches as she moved from the forest into the open meadows nearby.

She was watching for quite a while at each stop.   She seemed pretty relaxed, without any great urgency to hunt.

Down the field, the sun was reaching into the trees.  The light that got through was really beautiful.

I’m hoping to hang out again over the weekend.  We’ll see if she is thinking the same thing.


Wildlife in Bragg Creek this spring

I put together a portfolio of wildlife that I have photographed in Bragg Creek so far this spring and just published it to my Portfolios page.

(Click on the image to go to the slide show directly)

This was for a client’s review of local wildlife images for some prints they are interested in and I thought I would put it up on my website as well.  Reviewing the images from the past couple of months has served as a reminder of what a great season it has been to date.  There are a couple of weeks left in some areas around so I’m excited to see what else let’s me take its photograph.


Kootenay Landscape: Along the Vermilion River

Bobbi and I drove with the kids up to Lake Louise for a hike on Sunday.  The walk around the north side of the lake was nice and the kids had a lot of fun. Not much time to photograph, too busy throwing rocks in the water with Kian and Kezia, but there was some interesting light on the mountainsides when I did stop for a minute.

On the drive back we went on a detour along Highway 93 into the Kootenay National Park.  We turned around before Vermilion Crossing at the point where Floe Creek joins the Vermilion River which runs down the spine of the valley.  Kootenay National Park has had several large forest fires in the past 40 years and there are huge stretches of matchstick trees.  Under these ravaged trunks, evergreens have taken hold and bring color into the hillsides.  In the rivers, glacial silt paints the water a lovely blue.  Strong lines in the river’s canyon walls and in the burned out forest.  A lot of great elements to choose from and work with.

 

Here are a few images from this bend in the river.


The morning brought a snowstorm home…

One of our heavy spring snowstorms started early this morning.  When I woke up I went out for a walk in the forest with these huge snowflakes falling eagerly to the ground.

From yesterday’s sunny day where I was out playing at the park late into the afternoon, it was an abrupt change by any measure.

 


Kananaskis Wildlife: Hide and Seek with Whitetails

Yesterday, I was hiking in Kananaskis Country, west of Bragg Creek, morning along a trail that winds through the forest.  The trees are often well spaced out and allow a lot of streaming sunlight to reach down.  The highlight of the trek was finding a small herd of White-tailed Deer that were moving slowly towards the hills.

I stepped off the trail and shadowed their progress for a few minutes.  I waited for one deer to step into a shaft of light and then tried to create an interesting image.

There were a couple occasions where everything lined up and I got close to what was in my head.  In these pictures, I like the sense of the forest and the magic of sunlight.

I was enjoying the stroll in the woods when I was alone, save for the birdsong and angry squirrel reports, but crossing paths with these deer made it a very memorable day.


Hawaiian Landscapes: Limahuli Stream

I have been to the island of Kaua’i a couple of times before and each time I have enjoyed exploring the north shore particularly along the Na Pali coast.  If you drive up to Ke’e Beach and the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail, right near the end of the road you will cross over the Limahuli Stream.

On my last trip on one trip I passed the creek and I was captivated by the scene and wished we had time to stop.  Unfortunately, at that moment, we could not stop and I have honestly had many dreams about this location and photographing here over the past three years since that trip.  On this last visit, we made time to stop and I really enjoyed having a little time in this beautiful place.  Here are a few images from Limahuli.


On the Hawaiian forest floor

 

Before I was mesmerized by the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees at the Keahua Arboretum in Wailua’s highlands, I walked through the forest paths to get a feel for the area.  There was one spot near the stream that divides the park where Hibiscus blossoms were spread across the ground below the trees they had fallen from.  This flower was tucked into a curve in a tree root.  With the humidity, I don’t know whether the flower had just fallen or had been on the ground for a few days.  Either way it was beautiful and fun to photograph.


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