Posts tagged “Prairies

The setting of a supermoon

 

Supermoon setting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Moonset of the latest supermoon coincided with dawn last weekend.  I was photographing the prairie landscape and climbed up to a spot where I had a bit of elevation in order to look over the fields and be somewhat on level with the Rockies.  The mist laying low over the fields was a lucky bit of happenstance.


Sunset across the prairies

Winter sunset - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/45 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

A few days ago, the clouds were anchored along the eastern edge of the Rockies all afternoon and I was not sure how the sunset would develop.  Well, I guess I was sure that the winter sun would go down early and fast but what the light would do was the question.

Cloud fire - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/70 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

I found myself on the edge of Springbank, west of Calgary, at 5:30 and the clouds had stretched east across the prairies and were catching and filtering the rich glow from the sun now hidden behind the mountains.

Up to darkness - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/50 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

It was a scene that didn’t require much input from me to create images.  I did like the reflections on my car’s glass and hood so that provided an opportunity to play around a bit.

A thin slice of sunset - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/60 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

Sunset reflected - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/40 of a second at f/8 on ISO 1600

Bobbi and I are off to Sedona, Arizona tomorrow for a week – this landscape session provided a nice warm-up for the spectacular red rock scenery I’m looking forward to photographing down there.


An abandoned barn for owls

Reserved observation - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I went out on the prairie a couple of times on the weekend.  I was looking for owls.  On the “hope to see” list were Great Horned, Snowy and Short-eared.  I went to the back roads around Frank Lake.  I encountered a couple of Snowies but it was too dark to photograph them.  I returned to both locations in better light a couple of times but unsurprisingly they had both moved on.  Nice to know they were around though.  Short-eared proved elusive and I did not see any ears, short or otherwise.

Barn sentinel - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4X extender: 1/640 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 1600

I did find a great old barn set off in a remote spot with a couple of grain silos on the first evening.  That scene was great on its own but the Great Horned Owl I saw perched in a window.  The window frame was weathered with peeling red paint so character was not in short supply.  The owl was shy once I stopped my car and it hopped inside the barn to perch on a beam.   I set up a ways back from a west-facing window at the other end of the barn in the hopes that the owl might fly through it as dusk approached and it went out to start hunting.

Framed - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4X extender: 1/320 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 3200

A chilly wait through the golden light had no results and when the owl did head out, it flew through the eastern window.  While I waited, a long lens and high ISO allowed for a couple of nice shadow dominated images.  I left the owl the first night with it perched on a fencepost near the barn.  When I returned home and looked at the images, I was surprised to see a second owl buried in the shadows inside the barn.  It had been invisible to my eyes but had just barely resolved on the highest ISO images.

I returned two days later before dawn and saw the pair of owls working out of the same eastern window.  I set up on the same western window and could see them through main entrance as the sun rose.  Their activity wound down as the day wrestled with the night and soon they were perched on the same beams as before.

In shadows - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 500mm f/4 lens: 1/80 of a second at f/4 on ISO 2000

This time, I took a wide path around the side of the barn and was able to photograph each owl on their respective beams through the eastern window (per the image at the top of this post and directly below).

In the barn - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4 extender: 1/100 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 3200

I returned to my original spot and as I came around the barn saw that one of the owls had flown up to the top of a silo.  It was perched there scanning the fields.  I guess it wanted one last snack before its nap.

Up on a grain silo - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4 extender: 1/1000 of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 1600

It stayed up there for ten minutes and then flew along the fence-line, dropped on a fence post for a minute and then glided over the patchwork of snow and grass to a mound of earth a few hundred meters away.

Fence flight - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 500mm f/4 lens: 1/1600 of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600

I waited a while longer to see if the owl would come back or its mate would head out.  Neither happened and I packed up as the owl inside the barn dropped off to sleep.

I’ll head back to see about that window again in a couple of weeks.  Maybe they’ll give me an opportunity then.  It was great to see these beautiful birds either way.  They have amazing faces and I really enjoyed studying them for a couple of hours.


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.


Sunrise over the Trans-Canada Highway

Driving away from the morning - 2013 © Christopher Martin

A co-operative cloud anchored itself just above the horizon as dawn broke west of Calgary.  I set up in the dark on the Jumping Pound overpass with my camera and tripod.  When the sunlight started to paint the clouds, I liked how it contrasted with the vehicles and the lines on the road.


Lightning strikes on the prairie

 Night lighting - © Christopher Martin-0417

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 6.0 seconds at f/6.3 on ISO 800

(click on any image to open a page with a higher resolution version)

A couple of nights ago, lightning was being thrown around by several large storm clouds as they spread out and rolled over the prairies.  After a spectacular sunset in Kananaskis Country earlier (the image below), I had just drove out of the mountains when I saw these strikes lighting up both the fields and the clouds.

Night's march above Kananaskis - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40 lens: 1/160th of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 800

I ended up pulling off of the Trans-Canada Highway at Hermitage Road to watch this summer performance.  It was just before 11pm when I set up my camera along a fence which was busy splitting up a meadow of wild grass.  The moon was out and waxing near full so the land was gently lit up.  

Moonlit - © Christopher Martin-0433

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 2.5 seconds at f/5.6 on ISO 1600

It was warm but the mosquitos compelled me to put on a light jacket.  When a breeze came up around midnight, it was a perfect night to be outdoors.  

A lone fork - © Christopher Martin-0568

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 10 seconds at f/8.0 on ISO 1600

Two hours flew by largely unnoticed before the storms had moved out of view and I decided to head home.

Lightning forks - 2013 © Christopher Martin-0416

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 6.0 seconds at f/6.3 on ISO 800


#83 – a cow in a field

#83 - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/000 of a second at f/4 on ISO 800

The evening light was soft and warm last night.  I loved the colour in the coats of this small herd in Springbank.  #83 was particularly interested and turned out to be particularly photogenic.


An afternoon with a Snowy owl

Snowy owl in flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

With visions of the Boundary Bay owls still streaming past my mind’s eye, I went out for a drive on the Prairies this weekend.  I have been working on my Snowy owl imagery pretty steady this winter and have found a few images to be elusive to create.  For this trip east of Calgary, I was hoping to get some interactions showing a little personality as well as head on flight images.  It turned out to be a great afternoon for both.

Along the fenceline - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I went east on highway 22X and roamed a few of the range roads north of Carseland.  I found a hawk followed by an eagle in the first couple of miles.  I left the Bald eagle on its perch in a barren tree and zigzagged back towards the highway.

Eagle tree - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Well short of the main road, I found this Snowy owl perched on a fencepost a few hundred yards into the field.  I waited for 15 minutes and then the bird launched and flew in front of me along the fenceline and crossed the gravel.  I picked it up on a telephone pole nearby and that was its field base for the afternoon.

2013 © Christopher Martin

Over the next couple of hours, the owl dove off the beam several times and earned a few snacks along the grass and snow.  At launch and during its return flights to the perch, it gave me some wonderful opportunities as it would keep an eye on me now and then.

Leap - 2013 © Christopher Martin

During the long breaks between sorties, the owl sat largely motionless except for the full circles carved in the air by its head.  There were a few great moments with interesting yawns,

Snowy yawn - 2013 © Christopher Martin

ear scratching,

Taking a break - 2013 © Christopher Martin

and humorous facial expressions.

Squinting - 2013 © Christopher Martin

One of the tours detoured to a long abandoned windmill which made for a great scene.  The blue sky and white bird can make even a worn out relic look great!  Well, that particular structure has a lot of good character on its own but I think you know what I mean.

Gliding off of the windmill - 2013 © Christopher Martin

So we had a good rhythm for quite a while and when I finally packed up it was in the middle of a glide back to the same perch.  I would have loved to stay until the evening light but the hands were cold and the bird had been a very accommodating host so no reason to wear out the welcome.

Snowy flight and gaze - 2013 © Christopher Martin -

Peeking over wing - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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Sky dive - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Eagles on the Prairie

Scouting low over the Prairies - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I’ve spent a lot of time this winter driving the township and range roads which divide the prairie up into a grid work of  crisscrossing dirt roads.  The primary goal has been to photograph Snowy owls during their winter stay here but I’m always happy to see bald eagles when I happen across them.  These were two separate encounters.  Above, the eagle was flying low over the fields west of Calgary and I parked at a driveway in time to photograph the bird flying past.  In the photograph below, the eagle was perched in this tall tree near Gleichen east of Calgary for ten minutes while I watched before it launched and headed out over the fields.

A tree launch - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Autumn Landscapes

A short collection of some images from around Bragg Creek over the last couple of weeks of fall.


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