The waves of mild temperatures then bitter cold that have been winter’s pattern this year have played havoc with the ice.
Along the Elbow River the once smooth sheets of water frozen layer on layer, have buckled and split along the channel.
The temperature went into free fall yesterday but the blue skies pulled me outside this morning. Near the edge of the ice down the Elbow I spent some time photographing the forms created by the blanket of snow, broken ice cover, and the long shadows of winter.
We are just coming out of a long cold snap here on the eastern flanks of the Rockies. Temperatures started out around -10°C (14°F) last week and then dropped to -25°C (-13°F) a couple of days ago and have stayed there. This image is from a stretch of the Elbow River just a couple hundred meters from my home in Redwood Meadows (west of Calgary). Most of the river there is now iced over but I haven’t been back at dawn to photograph the difference.
Apparently we start climbing upwards later today and should be just below freezing by the weekend. That will feel balmy – I hope the forecasts hold! I love the winter landscapes but this year when the temperature fell below about -15 my enthusiasm for the season fell too. Maybe some powder skiing on the weekend will remind me of the upside of winter.
This coyote didn’t seem impressed with the storm that tore across the Foothills on the weekend. The front of the blizzard was pretty wet so when the temperature started to drop, everything built up a layer of ice. I suppose this creature didn’t feel like trotting around with the extra weight, and the blinding snow, so it laid down and burrowed in. It was resolute to stay put and only watched me as I set up my camera and lens for this picture. Most coyotes will perk their ears so I wondered if this one may have been injured or sick. However, I went by a couple of hours later and the coyote had moved on. The storm was still raging so maybe dinner had called her to action. When I’d seen her earlier, I thought she might not leave until the weather improved considerably.
Dawn at the second Vermilion Lake was beautiful with some lovely colour in the sky around Mount Rundle early in the sunrise. As the sun climbed, I moved into the contrasts and this one worked well in black and white.
Lake Minnewanka has a beautiful shoreline on its southeastern edge. I have not spent much time along the rocks there but a few days ago I was there for about an hour in the morning and really liked the area. The ice coating the rocks where there were gaps in the snow worked in nice contrast to the stormy skies crowding over the ridges of Inglismaldie on the far side of the water.
During the lunar eclipse last December I was shooting off the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary with the moon to the west of me. As the moon came out of eclipse, I turned my attention to the east and photographed the sunrise over the Bow River looking east from downtown.
I wrote a short post on the eclipse the next day but then we left on vacation and I forgot about these images. Looking through Calgary sunrise photographs in my library, I rediscovered these and put them together here.
After the big snowstorm Monday night, the clouds cleared and towards the evening, the light was beautiful and I was pulled outside.
Before the sun set, I photographed the sunlight on the tree boughs along the path to the Elbow river. Getting down to the river, the snow was over a foot deep. It was fun to walk along and photograph this river delta just before night fell, looking for interesting relationships in the landscape.
I walked to the far side before I found some breaks in snow and ice where I could see the water.
I used a telephoto lens to close in on the ice formations with a tripod to keep the camera steady over the exposures which stretched up to 10 seconds.
I returned home under moonlight which was very enjoyable as well
I walked up to a small group of horses in West Bragg Creek this morning as the sun was slowly warming up their frigid meadow. They were lined up along the fence, likely waiting for their morning hay. This mare walked towards me and when she was close I noticed the ice frozen onto the whiskers around the mouth. It was -19°C so the moisture in her breath was freezing as soon as it was exhaled. The distortion in perspective of a wide angle lens created an interesting view of her head when I lowered the camera and put it very close to the nose.
I went up to Elbow Falls on Sunday following a heavy snowstorm over the weekend. There were a few warm days leading up to the blizzard so I was hoping for heavy snow in the trees and on the rocks with some good stretches of open water on the river. I was not disappointed.
I’ve tried to stay away from this section of the river but haven’t been able to do it with any consistency. It is a beautiful place and a very special location for me to photograph.
The flow of water above, over and below the layers of rock that create Elbow Falls is a beautiful photographic subject at any time of the year. In winter, with the ice and snow draped around the waterfall, I find the magic a little easier to work with and creating some compelling images a bit less elusive.
For as long as I have been photographing this spot, I have always seen the face of a chief in the rock outcropping that sits just below the waterfall. Not only a face in the rock, the lines that draw the lips, the cheeks, chin and nose outline a sketch of the man who watches over this stretch of the river west of Bragg Creek in Kananaskis Country.
An early morning at one of my favourite places in Kananaskis, Elbow Falls. With the stretches of deep cold this winter broken up by the occasional warm chinook arch, the layers of ice along the river and the waterfall that shares its name are really beautiful right now. The color didn’t build in the sky this morning but that allowed me to stay focused on the ice. A very nice morning to spend outside with a camera in hand.
On Third Vermilion Lake where the hot spring creates a break in the ice I found an American Dipper diving for food, hopping in the reeds and seemingly enjoying the warm water. I caught it during a quiet moment along the edge of the ice. The Vermilion Lakes are just west of Banff (a 10 minute ride) in the National Park. Moose, deer, eagles and ravens can be seen year round along the lakes. And, dippers – where there is some warm water.
Here I wanted to work with a dominant pattern across the water and up on the mountains. The diagonal lines of the ridges along the mountain slopes were receding into darkness but I had time to work within this composition.
With the snow that was falling and being blown around by the wind, the lines fade increasingly into the storm. One of the myriad looks of winter in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
This photograph is from the Third Vermilion Lake just outside the Banff townsite. I was out there for sunset on Saturday and things looked promising when a gap in the clouds started to open up but by the time the sun was low and there would have been some color in the sky, the storm had closed in and the grand sunset landscape was filed into the next time folder. I enjoyed watching the snow fall, an American Dipper play in the hot spring water and the winds blow across the ice and through the trees. It was a very nice evening outside.
A photograph from a morning along the shoreline of the second of the three Vermilion Lakes near Banff in the National Park. Mount Rundle looms above Tunnel Mountain across the water. The ice gives way to this stretch of open water due to a small hot spring that seeps out of the rock and soil into the lake.
In several spots along the Vermilion Lakes in the Banff National Park there are sections of open water despite the sustained cold that has frozen over all three lakes this winter. These breaks in the ice are due to runoff from underground hot springs that ring the lakes. The warmer water attracts birds and the occasional mammal in the winter. On the weekend, I saw an American Dipper and followed it flitting amid the reeds and diving for bits in the water. Following that, I turned my attention to working with patterns created by the sticks and reeds and their reflections in the water along the shoreline.
Here are two that I liked in particular. One presenting dominant vertical lines and the other creating horizontal movement across the frame. I enjoy working on these type of compositions while waiting for the dramatic landscapes to fill with clouds, light or anything else of interest. Sometimes those come, other times they don’t. Having a list of different types of images I want to create helps avoid a strikeout when things aren’t cooperating.
I was in Banff at Vermilion Lakes on Sunday morning. The cold was there, the snow was there, as were the clouds. The light teased me and certainly provided enough to work with. This is one from the second of the Vermilion Lakes looking at a small patch of open water, across the ice towards Mount Rundle.
2010 rolled up and down like a boat on the ocean and I enjoyed most of the ride. I’m excited to move into a new year. Here’s to a great 2011.
All the best to you and yours in the new year.
On Boxing day the afternoon gave way to evening in a rush of color that pulled me outside, running down the path to the river. I had enough time to get the tripod set up and make a few photographs before the pastel hues evaporated, leaving the dark shades of blue to fight briefly against the night.
This river is the Elbow and it runs down from the Canadian Rocky Mountains, east through forests in Kananaskis and out onto the Albertan Prairie through Springbank. The Elbow River’s source is Elbow Lake, from there it runs through a large section of Kananaskis, past Bragg Creek and enters Calgary at Weaselhead Flats. West of the Calgary Zoo, the Elbow joins the Bow River and they continue eastward joining the South Saskatchewan River and finally entering Hudson Bay. It does not draw as much attention as the Bow River which runs through Banff, Canmore and Cochrane before reaching Calgary. However it hosts many beautiful locations and is where I spend much of my time photographing when I’m outdoors throughout the year.
I spent Sunday morning working upstream of the Elbow Falls in Kananaskis. I really enjoyed looking for patterns and shapes in the ice and the water.
I used a macro lens to get close to the ice and a tripod to keep the camera steady during the longer exposures that I used vary the blur of the water.