The Aurora Borealis lit up for a couple of hours last night so Jack and I were out until 5 AM watching the ribbons stripe the night sky. There were few clouds and it turned out to be a very enjoyable performance.
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.
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.
Pele is one of the Hawaiian deities and is often associated with the volcanic activities on the islands. She also holds dominion over lightning, wind and fire. One evening, I watched her play with lightning, throwing it over the ridges that rise up from the Hanalei Valley on Kaua’i's north shore. For almost three hours, beginning at dusk, the clouds lit up with strikes that branched across the sky.
I watched the storm from the Hanalei outlook in Princeville. That put me at almost the same elevation as the strikes which hammered the far side of the valley. With each flash, the taro field ponds lit up as well. The deep blue sky early in the evening tempered the color in the sky. When the valley was totally dark, each flash illuminated the scene in wild shades of purple. It was incredible to see the changes in the color, the clouds and the storm through the night.
Pele became more ferocious as the night deepened. Gradual at first, with the wind picking up slowly but steadily and the lightning coming every couple of minutes. Then increasing quickly along with drops of rain that turned into a downpour after just a few minutes. I retreated to shelter with the rain drenching me and the lightning tracing arcs directly above me. It was raw power and I enjoyed watching the goddess at work – by the end there was a determined nature to the storm that made it feel like play had been joined by purpose.
My friend and fellow photographer Jeff Rhude and I made it up to the reflecting pools which provide a beautiful mirror for Mount Kidd while it was still dark. While dawn was still only a bit of light to the east, I used an exposure just a bit over two minutes long to see this early morning.
The wind was blowing in short blasts as we were waiting and once it was brighter I took an opportunity to show a bit of that in the blurred water.
I am drawn back to Mount Kidd in Kananaskis over and over. In the morning the eastern light accentuates the crags and patterns in the rocks and dominates the skyline from many viewpoints along Highway 40. From these reflecting pools a bit further south the mountain doesn’t dominate in the same way but I like the balances that can be found between the peaks and the elements along the shoreline. Later in the morning, I worked the scene with black and white images in mind but with the first light, I was enjoying the splashes of colour.
Green algae under one of the ponds provided a green cast to some of the reflections. I thought the shapes under the water along with the colour were really interesting.
This pond had a floor of stones which was another detail to play with.
With the pink light receding to warm morning sunlight, I liked how the land still in shadow had a cool tone contrasted with the mountain and its reflection.
The morning got bright quickly when I was at a set of reflecting ponds just west of Wedge Pond and the Galatea Trailhead in Kananaskis. I met a fellow Calgarian photographer, Graham McKerrell, along the water’s edge and we watched the most promising cloud slip behind the mountain just a couple of minutes before the sunrise hit the face. The early light was still beautiful on the rock of Mount Kidd and its reflection. I really had fun once the morning sun was well established as I switched from hunting warm light to thinking about the sun and shadows for black and white images as seen here.
(please click on the image to link to a larger, higher resolution version)
These ponds are a beautiful location to welcome the morning, I hope to get out there once more this season.
The small lake in Wild Rose, west of Bragg Creek, has been a great place to enjoy photographing birds this summer. I have spent a number of mornings along the strip of land that divides the pond. Several of these mornings have been spent with a few different Common loons. These are a few of my favourites from these times.
(please click on any image to go to a higher resolution version)
The morning was cold as I walked down to Wedge Pond on Friday. No frost, but very chilly under the clear skies. I woke early so I was there before the skies had started to brighten. The only sounds were the splash of the occasional fish jumping and bull elk bugling challenges nearby in the forest. It was a special moment to take in. In the darkness the exposures ranged up to five minutes to show the pre-dawn scene as below. The slowly lightening sky to the east reflected on the upper flanks of the mountain.
As the sun approached, the birds started chattering and a few other photographers showed up for the alpen glow and then first light on Mount Kidd. Kananaskis lived up to expectations again. It was lovely to be on the lake’s shore for the morning with the autumn colours coming in.
(please click on the image to link to a higher resolution version)
A Red-breasted merganser on the western shore of Lake Okanagan from a quiet morning a few days ago. The color in the water is the reflection of the late summer foliage in the trees hanging over the beach.
I was photographing on the small lake that Wild Rose surrounds in West Bragg Creek early this morning. Three loons were diving for fish, splashing around and seemingly enjoying one another’s company. This one rose up to flap its wings and presented a beautiful profile for me to work with. As always, click for a higher resolution image if you are interested.
I was photographing ducks, geese and seagulls on the edge of the Bow River at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary this evening. It is a favourite spot and as evening falls, flights of birds come in from all points of the compass to bed down on the rock islands that lie in the middle of the river. As the sky darkened the street and building lights from the far side of the river appeared brighter and brighter reflecting in the water.
I found a nice bend in the shallows where the light was broken up by the current and the rocks and photographed until the stars stood out against the black sky. Most of the exposures were 30 seconds with the camera on a tripod to allow the stones to stay sharp while the water softened and stretched the lights.
I have been spending a fair amount of time in Kananaskis Country as autumn has taken hold across the Rockies in Southern Alberta. A couple of mornings I have spent daybreak on the shoreline of Wedge Pond just off Highway 40 a few kilometers south of the Nakiska Ski Resort. Before the sun rises high enough to hit Mount Kidd’s ridges, the whole mountain glows red in the pre-dawn light.
After only a couple of minutes, the sunlight reaches over The Wedge and Mt. McDougal to Kidd and then it quickly runs down the mountainside as the sun climbs into the sky.
The image above with the sun drawing a red band along the top of the mountain was from September 5th where all the trees skirting the pond were still in summer green. The first two images were taken just under three weeks later. A couple of cool days got the seasonal change kickstarted and the transformation to yellow and orange was complete in just a few days.
Along 9th Avenue in downtown Calgary, Gulf Canada Square’s dark panes of glass often provide a large mirror that abstracts the traffic heading east on the one way road.
I watched traffic for a while, looking down from the 12th floor of Banker’s Hall, until this taxicab drove by distinctive and separated from the other vehicles in that moment. The slight curvatures of the glass did the real work to create this warp of a simple scene.
The Ring-billed Gull is sometimes called the fast food gull. They have earned the name as they will often hang around fast food restaurants scavenging for food.
This gull was one of two foraging around a mall parking lot. With the warm, evening light and puddles reflecting the bird and the blue sky, I was happy to spend a few minutes photographing in an unusual wildlife location.
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.
I am preparing entries for the Travel Photographer of the Year contest and reworked some of my images from Inle Lake in Myanmar that I made in February.
Very good people I met on the water. I look forward to the next encounters I have on Inle somewhere down the road.
This great blue heron returns to this small lake on the eastern edge of Kananaskis near Bragg Creek. The great blue is the largest heron in North America. They can stand over 4 feet tall with a wingspan just shy of 7 feet. Very graceful to watch in flight and their takeoffs and landings are performances.
This year it has a mate so I’m keeping my eye out for young ones. It would be great to see this pair grow to be a small rookery in the next couple of years.
I first photographed these birds in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. I still think it is special every time I see them right near my home.