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.
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.
When the mother and calf had retreated into the woods, this moose remained in the meadow and kept grazing.
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.
The shallow plane of focus and a black and white conversion worked well for this image below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I went upland to the Keahua Arboretum in Wailua yesterday hunting for a native species that I wanted to shoot. Of course by shoot I mean photograph and the target species was a type of tree. The Rainbow Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus deglupta, is one of the most incredible trees I have ever seen. The bark is made of multicolored hues ranging across bright green, red and deep purple. The trees are tall and slender with branches only starting about 40′ up. The patterns in the tree trunks are beautiful and I spent a couple of hours alternating between composing images and ducking under shelter from the intermittent rain showers.
The gnarled roots share the distinctive colors and seem to provide a shelter for new growth at the base of the trees. These micro landscapes presented interesting elements to work with.
The stand of trees are clustered around a grassy slope that is part of the 30 acre forest park. The park is divided by the Keahua stream with the stand of eucalyptus being on the far side. You can drive across but I didn’t want to take chances with my rental car so I walked across the foot deep water. A very small price to pay to see these amazing trees.
The trees can be found alone or in small groves around the island but I enjoyed heading up to this retreat in highlands at the base of Mount Wai’ale’ale. Aside from the rainbows, there are mango and monkeypod trees that stand out from the verdant forest. The arboretum is a special place with an appeal that stems not just from the trees but also the solitude and peacefulness that you can find there. When the sunlight broke through the clouds and filtered down it created great spot lighting on the trees which kept me there a while longer.
Just before the long weekend, I had an evening free to tour the back roads around Bragg Creek. As the shadows grew longer and the heat of the day softened a little, I hoped to see some wildlife come out of the trees. A few miles off the main road, I saw a Great Grey Owl perched on a fence post right on the forest’s edge. It was pretty calm and just stared at me when I stopped my car and walked back towards it.
It flew a couple posts ahead of me and I expected it to not let me get too close. Then it flew just in front of me, crossing the road, and landing on a post on the other side of the road right in front of me. I was using a long lens which meant I couldn’t fit the bird in the frame as it landed in front of me. It is always fantastic to be that close to Great Greys. I took a couple of steps backward and enjoyed watching as the owl scouted for the field mice and rodents touring through the long grass along the fenceline.
I thought the owl might dive into the grass as it stared down periodically for several minutes. In the end, it chose to fly off for a higher branch.
Between Banff and Radium, in the Kootenay National Park, I found this young bear grazing on dandelions on a steep hillside at the forest’s edge. Probably three years old given the size but still impressive in appearance and bearing. I was happy to have a long lens to bring this one close.
This subspecies of the black bear has even earned its own formal name, Ursus americanus cinnamomum. They are beautiful animals no matter the color but it was great to see one that had such a distinctive rust hued coat. With the rain, the colors really saturated and created a sheen that worked at some angles but was a challenge at other ones.
Yesterday, while driving along the backroads between Bragg Creek and Cochrane, my wife and I noticed two fluffy balls popping up from a huge nest that I thought was still abandoned. We could see from the edge of the road that they were Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) owlets so we waited a few minutes to get a sense of that stand of trees and whether the parents were nearby. I walked to the fence dividing the ditch from the forest and with a long lens coupled to an extender was able to get some nice images without getting these adolescents worked up.
Below is the view of the nest from the road
I have watched this nest for a couple of years and this is the first time I have seen chicks being raised in it. I hope this pair make this a summer home and return every year. Now, to see about photographs of the family together…