Posts tagged “morning

Broken tree sunrise

Broken tree sunrise - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Autumn is a great season for sunrises in the prairies around Calgary.  The clouds at dawn can be spectacular.  Last week, I was in Springbank and the sky was beautiful.  The interesting silhouettes from this wind-broken stand of trees were a good partner to the light playing in the clouds.


Among the clouds at Wedge Pond

Moutn Kidd cloaked - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I was up in Kananaskis a few days ago to explore the recently opened stretch of Highway 40 up to the Highwood Pass.  Leaving home in the dark, I arrived at Wedge Pond just as light was creeping into the eastern edge of the sky.

Peeking at the peaks of Mount Kidd - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We had several days of rain preceding this visit so I was unsure what the weather would be like in the mountains.  The reports called for partly sunny with showers.  From experience, that can mean anything from empty blue skies to heavy, wet gray clouds.  I don’t mind either so I was happy to head up and find out.  That morning the mist was swirling above the pond and rising up to meet the low hanging clouds that were stuffed into the valley.  I trotted down to the water’s edge and moved along keeping an eye on Mount Kidd.  The mountain catches the early pre-dawn Alpen glow and can be spectacular right through sunrise.  The view over Wedge and up to Kidd whispered of something good that might come and I was happy to move around, watching and waiting.

Sunrise at Wedge Pond - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Dawn along the shore - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Seven minutes later, pink light was hitting a few of the higher clouds.  The lower clouds were breaking up and it seemed like a clear view of the mountain was coming forward.

Dawn sneaks a look down at Wedge Pond - 2013 © Christopher Martin

It didn’t – the clean view was swallowed up by the clouds as the rich colours on Mount Kidd came in.  I didn’t mind at all as a few fleeting openings afforded beautiful views of one or two of the peaks for the next couple of minutes.

Morning in the mountains - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I have not had such a dynamic encounter with the weather up at Wedge Pond and I had a great time.  It was fun to play around with the moodiness under the clouds balanced (and thrown out of balance) with the sunrise opening above.  I’m enjoying the late resurgence of summer we are enjoying but I found myself looking forward to the fall colours that always look so wonderful in this special place.  I will be there and would be very happy if these clouds returned then too.


A return to Elbow Falls

 Elbow Falls Dawn - © Christopher Martin-7467

Since the floods, I have been eager to drive up Highway 66 which runs in and out of the valleys where the Elbow River unwinds out of the mountains.  A few weeks ago, the road reopened and I have been back into this quieter side of Kananaskis Country a couple of times since.  On the first trip I went straight to Elbow Falls to see what remained.  Rumours through June and July ranged from the Elbow Falls being reduced to a set of rapids through to vast swathes of land disappearing, replaced by river rock spread over the lost forest area.  The former is not true – the falls remain, as seen in the image here from that first visit after the floods, and are still beautiful.  The latter is very true in many places – many favourite spots, including the winding river path above the falls, have been drastically reshaped.


Dawn over the prairies

Dawn down the road - 2013 © Christopher Martin

On the weekend, I found myself on a hill overlooking the farm fields south of Cochrane waiting for the morning to arrive.  I had went out at 4 in the morning looking for the Northern Lights but they eluded me.  This time of the year dawn comes early and by 4:30 there was already a bright line on the horizon to the east.  I enjoyed listening to the birds waking up as I sat beside this gravel road hoping for a nice sunrise.  As the sun prepared to rise, this wonderful cloud caught the early light and met all expectations that I brought to the day.

Sky light - 2013 © Christopher Martin

A few minutes later, the cloud hanging above the farmland took over the show.  The colours and textures were brilliant.  Dawn comes early but I’m rarely disappointed when I do force myself to roll out of bed and get out to enjoy it.

Moonset over the Rocky Mountains - 2013 © Christopher Martin

While the sun and the cloud were performing magic, the moon was full and glowing above the Rocky Mountains.  I’m glad I had a look behind me while I was changing lenses as the view to the west was on equal terms with its eastern counterpart.


Dawn at the Lion’s Gate Bridge

The Lion waits for dawn - 2013 © Christopher Martin

(as always, please click on any image to open a higher resolution version)

In March, I spent a weekend in Vancouver photographing birds, Granville Market and a few other things with a good friend.  On one of the mornings we headed down to Stanley Park around 4:30 AM to see about sunrise.  We walked to the seawall along the Burrard Inlet and worked for a while with the lights of North Van across the water.

Dawn on the Burrard Inlet - 2013 © Christopher Martin

As dawn came in, we moved slowly towards the Lion’s Gate Bridge and I had a lot of fun working with this dominant structure.  I was very happy that they left the bridge lights on right through sunrise.  I used to spend a lot of time exploring the park when I went to school in Vancouver but this was one of only a few times that I have photographed there.  It is a beautiful place to spend time – with or without a camera.

Under the Lion - 2013 © Christopher Martin

With morning came the runners that pile on miles along the pathways year round.  I enjoyed working them into a few photographs before packing up for breakfast.

Stanley Park - morning run 2013 © Christopher Martin


Sunrise over Mount Rundle

Sky fire reflected - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The second sunrise at Vermilion Lake this weekend produced some wonderful images this weekend.  There was a break between clouds and mountain peaks farther east so the clouds above Mount Rundle and the lake were painted with this amazing light.  One of the best mornings that I have had in the Banff National Park.

Out of the grasses and into dawn - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The hot springs that seep into the water along the chain of lakes allow for a few pools without ice to remain open through the winter.  These pools pull many photographers to their shores and this morning was no exception.  It’s always interesting how quiet these moments become even with five other photographers nearby.  The better the light gets, the quieter it usually becomes.  It was silent at the peak of this morning’s sunrise.

Rundle winds - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Vermilion reflections - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Starting the rise - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Backyard Chickadees

Successful ground foraging - 2013 © Christopher Martin

It was a sunny morning today so I spent some time photographing the Black-capped chickadees that live in our backyard.  There are several of them that share the bird seed we put out with a large flock of Common redpolls and a few Red-breasted nuthatch through the winter.

Perched but looking away - 2013 © Christopher Martin

As from a couple of weeks ago with their redpoll cousins, the chickadees were elusive to capture nicely in flight.  But it was a very nice time with my backyard neighbours.

Dive bomber - 2013 © Christopher Martin

A couple from the morning.

Chickadee in flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I like my backyard, it’s a cool place.

A feast - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Calgary’s cityscape at dawn

Fire on the eastern front - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The sky to the east was beautiful this morning.  I had a chance to photograph from a good elevation which let me see the horizon towards the east and the downtown cityscape in the other direction.  I loved the explosion of color in the clouds preceding the sunrise and those added nice reflections in some of the glass facades of Calgary’s prominent buildings.

Calgary's cityscape at dawn - 2013 © Christopher Martin


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.


Spirits on the beach

Spirits on the beach - © Christopher Martin-5071

Ahead of a stormy sunrise, people were moving along the beach, talking with others and taking photographs.  I used a 20 second exposure (with f/16 at ISO 200) with the intent to blur the water and the clouds.  When I saw how the people took on an ethereal quality in varying amounts, dependent on how long they stayed in place during the exposure, I played with that idea for a while.


A veiled sunrise along Nukoli’i

A veiled sunrise - © Christopher Martin-4035

(please click on the image for a higher resolution version)

The first sunrise of this visit to Kaua’i was spectacular.  I watched the clouds retreat towards the horizon under the moonlight before dawn and when the day started to come, they were a heavy veil stretching up from the ocean.  A few minutes after sunrise, the sun shone red through a thin spot in the clouds.  For the next twenty minutes the sun broke free here and there while the waves kept crashing in and the sky steadily brightened.  Nukoli’i Beach is a long stretch of sand along Kaua’i’s eastern shore.  At this time of the year, the sun rises directly off the beach.  When the clouds cooperate, the mornings can be exceedingly beautiful.  This morning was exactly that.


Winter at Lake Minnewanka

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.


With a horse at sunrise

This morning I hiked up a hill for the sunrise.  As the light started to brush the clouds stacked above the eastern flank of the Kananaskis mountains, a horse came up close to where I was set up.  She nuzzled around for a bit but I didn’t have any carrots with me.  Just after turning back towards her colt, she paused for a few seconds and I framed her against the bright horizon.


Gold at Elbow Falls

(please click on this image to link to a higher resolution file)

Clouds blocked the early pink light at down this morning but as the color went to gold, nice breaks higher off the horizon let the sunlight in.  The light reflected on the water and the look of the rocks under the water made a very pretty scene.


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.


Emerald Lake Landscapes

We stayed one night in the lodge on Emerald Lake in British Columbia so I was able to be on the water’s edge well ahead of sunrise the next morning.  In the deep blues of the early morning, I could make out some heavy clouds in the sky so I was uncertain if a fiery sky was coming.  The mountains that ring the eastern edge of the lake were streaked with thick fog rising off of the water and mixing with the clouds.

The sunlight was held up by a bank of grey so the drama never painted the sky however the details in the canoes, the bridge and along the shore as well as a slow shutter to drag out the sky and its reflection made for an enjoyable scene to work with.

I’m looking forward to getting back to this literal jewel of the Yoho National Park near the town of Field.  A glowing sky of pinks, reds and oranges would be wonderful to see in this valley and reflected in the lake.

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A screaming hawk in Springbank

This Red-tailed hawk is often perched on one of the telephone poles which line a gravel road along Highway 8, west of Calgary.  This morning I turned off to see if I could find her.  I did and she wasn’t overly pleased to see me.  As soon as I stopped near her pole-top perch, she took flight.  I felt like I stole this one before she flew further down the road.  I was happy with this image and didn’t want to harass her further so I left her alone.


Coyote along the water in Wild Rose

(please click on the image for a higher resolution version)

A coyote checked me out for a minute while I was waiting for birds to start fishing.  It watched me for only a few seconds before retreating away from the lake’s edge.


Morning dew on a spider web


(please click on the image for a higher resolution version)

I noticed one of the first hints of summer fading when I was out in West Bragg Creek this morning.  The night air has cooled noticeably over the past week and today the dew had coated the leaves, flowers and grasses across the countryside.  This spider web did not escape and I moved around so that the sun was lighting it up from behind.  The backlighting on the threads made it glow.  It looked like an elaborate, if somewhat haphazardly designed, piece from a weaver’s loom.  Summer should run on for another month and a half or so but this is one of those early signs that fall is somewhere over the horizon, not so very away.


Swimming in the Okanagan

This duck was out for an early swim across the water from Kelowna.  Me and the bird were the only creatures moving around near the shore at that time.  The ospreys, eagles, grebes, loons and a muskrat stirred soon after.  But, for a few minutes, this one duck was sole proprietor of the inlet.


Moraine Lake – a night and a day in the Valley of the Ten Peaks

Moraine Lake is one of the Canadian Rockies most iconic landscapes.  I have been there many times and it continues to share new magic with each visit. I was up on top of the rock pile with a couple of good friends for a quiet evening and we returned a few hours later for a cloudy sunrise.  Both times presented views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the lake that I had not seen previously.  I enjoyed them all immensely.

The evening watched as the clouds ran towards the horizon leaving open sky above the peaks that loom above the lake and curl west down the valley.  The soft light near sunset looked beautiful where it touched the peaks and provided a very subtle contrast to the deepening blues and greens that ushered in the night.

When I was crossing the stream where the lake most visibly drains out, the bright colors in the landscape’s palette had been wrung out so I was drawn to the speck of orange upstream.  I liked how this small information shelter’s log frame stood defiantly against the gloom.   At this point, some great clouds had stretched out above the water and they provided an abstract mirror of the river’s folds as revealed in this 13 second exposure.

When we returned around 5am, the clouds had staked out all four corners of the sky.  We watched breaks in the sky expectantly for more than an hour, taking us through sunrise without any light painting the peaks or the clouds curling around them.  We were joined by a hopeful couple from Japan and two Chinese ladies on top of the moraine.  Quiet chattering among the separate groups along with the occasional shutter click marking the time shuffling by.  It was nice, not the dramatic alpen glow or early light that I have seen before but another interesting side of this valley.

Around 6:30 a large break in the clouds developed in the east and 15 minutes later the first shafts of sunlight hit the mountains.  The light was still pretty warm and the drama I had been looking for unfolded for the next 45 minutes before the sun had risen too high for my landscape photography tastes.  I enjoyed watching the color in the lake swirl and change as the house lights of the day came up.  With stray clouds still wrapping peaks occasionally and the sunlight marching down the forest side of the lake, there was a lot to watch and to photograph.

Packing up, I retraced my steps down the path back towards the lodge.  Crossing the river once more, I was drawn in again.  This time the wet rocks were sparkling in the sunshine and I found the light on Yamnee (Mount Bowlen), Tonsa and Sapta (Mount Perren) particularly attractive. Breakfast was calling my friends (and me too – if I had been listening) and it was a good final image to complete this time with the lake, the valley and these wonderful peaks.


Great Gray Owl – Flight through the open woods

(please click on the images for a higher resolution version)

The last week has held a series of great encounters (and here) with one of my favourite animals, the Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa).  Through the course of these moments, I have been able to make some in flight images that I’m really happy with.  I have photographed this same owl for the past four years.  I have photographed it in all seasons but sometimes several months have gone between sightings.  So far, this May has exceeded even my most out of reach expectations.

I had a gentleman express some concern via Twitter regarding me spending that much time following the owl.  I strive to not impact all of the animals that I photograph and I feel I am successful at this.  Particular to this owl, I know where its nest is but I have never ventured close to that stand of trees because that represents risks that I do not have the knowledge and experience to be sure I will avoid (like driving the mother away from the nest, stressing the owlets, etc.).  I do not use blinds or hide from these owls – I make sure they see me and know where I am at all times.  I have spent a lot of time learning what owls like to perch on and where they like to scout from.

I try to use this knowledge to anticipate a spot where an owl may choose to fly to and launch an attack from.   In the open meadow and mixed forest settings I usually find owls in, they have many options and I select one that I think they may choose. It’s a bit like laying down a bet, if they fly my way, I’m in luck.  If they choose one of the myriad other options, I may be too far away or just not in a good location for photography.  I do not follow right behind the owl – it makes for many shots of them flying away which aren’t what I am looking for.  I stand a few yards away from a perch I think they may like and wait.  When they fly away, I may stay there and see if the owl comes back or I may move to another location to see if they go there.  Either way, I don’t chase the owl and to me, that helps to allow the owl to continue its activities (hunting, watching, preening, eating, etc.) uninterrupted.

With this owl, several times of late I have set up my tripod in a location more than a hundred yards away from the bird and, after some time – up to an hour later, the raptor has flown in my direction and landed within ten feet of me.  That is an incredible experience and I strongly believe it is due to the comfort level the owl has with my presence.  During the encounter when these images were all taken, the owl stayed beside me as it scanned the meadow for about 15 minutes.  When it left, it dove on the far side of the gravel road and came away with a field rodent of some type.

When it was close, I used the long telephoto lens I had attached to take a couple of portrait shots.  Rarely have I had a better model.  Two days later, on the holiday Monday, I spent some more time with this owl on an open meadow about a mile south of this location in West Bragg Creek.


Prairie Landscapes: Fog in the Foothills

Dawn Fog © 2011 Christopher Martin-2240


Driving in the dark before dawn the fog was thick and slowed us down a bit.  As the light came up we came to the edge of the fog, near the Sibbald Creek Trail underpass on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary.  We were on a dirt back road and drove up a small hill to get some separation from the wall of fog blocking the horizon.

It was fun to work with the challenging light and minimalist elements in the landscape.


Prairie Landscapes: An autumn sunrise at Lake Newell

Steam at sunrise © 2011 Christopher Martin-1588

We were on the road for much of this weekend driving to Shaunavon, Saskatchewan for some family business.  To break up the drive there and back, we stayed just outside of Brooks on Thursday and Friday night.  We spent both nights at the Lakeshore Bed & Breakfast which backs onto the northern shore of Lake Newell – a lake that family friends used to take me boating on when I was 4!  I have scattered memories of those days but I remember the massive number of birds that summered there so I was eager to see what I would find when I got out before dawn on Saturday morning.  As we are halfway through October and winter is one storm away, I was not surprised when I felt the biting cold carried off of the water and across the beach.  With ice on the car windows, I took that as a cue to layer up so I headed down to the beach decked out for an Arctic expedition.

It was about 6:30 when I started photographing and I started with just a faint line of colour to the east.  With the sky brightening quickly, I kept reducing the length of my exposures to hold the intensity of the orange glow pretty consistent across the images I made over the next hour.  Starting with two minute exposures (f/11 and ISO 400), I was down to 1.3 seconds (f/16 at ISO 100) by 7:30.

As dawn approached, I started to see more of the features around that part of the lake.  We had arrived late on Thursday night, left early on Friday and returned in darkness again that night so I had not done any scouting of the shore before Saturday morning.  Not ideal for planning but it was interesting to see shapes of trees, rocks, buildings and islands separate from the blackness.  By 7:30, there were three things that had grabbed my attention and pulled the type of images I was working on in a different direction.  Steady flights of gulls and ducks flew in front of the eastern sky and I could see hundreds of birds all gliding towards an inlet several hundred meters ahead of me.  The cold air was rolling over the lake producing a steam that started gently but had increased to an endless rolling fog that would continue until well after sunrise.  The third item I first thought was a tower as I walked towards the steam and the increasing congregation of birds but realized it was a lighthouse built on a small island at the mouth of the inlet to assist boaters sailing back to the marina in darkness during the summer months.  The birds, the steam and the lighthouse were all in the same place so it was an easy decision to walk over there.

With the sun rising I worked with the lighthouse and shoreline in silhouette against the bright sky.

When the sun cleared the trees I worked several different compositions including this one below and the first photograph in this post.

Once the sun was up, the steam was rising higher and I was able to isolate these two elements against the clean background created.  It was a great morning to play with different approaches and try to create a range of images across the shoot.

Lake Newell is a major birding lake on the prairies and I’m looking forward to returning next spring when the pelicans, cormorants and terns who summer there return and are joined by loons, four types of grebes and all manner of ducks and geese.  As it was, for a late fall morning on the prairie, I had a great time there.  The warm shower, hot coffee and delicious breakfast were the final pieces to a really good start to the day.

 


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