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.
The slushy rain we had for a couple of hours last night in Redwood Meadows was snow in Bragg Creek. The kids and I toured through West Bragg to check out the first snow and see what wildlife we might find.
We found a few small groups of deer, Mules and White-tailed, in different places. A young bull moose walked in front of us when we were on the edge of Kananaskis Country. It was nice to see a few creatures out and about.
The afternoon was beautiful so I’m not sure if this first snowfall will stay on the ground or not. It was great to work with white back in the color palette.
Winter is beginning to win the hearts and minds of the mountains in Kananaskis Country. After the sunrise at Wedge Pond, I hiked around the Upper Kananaskis Lake for a little while. There are some lovely yellows and golds in the trees reaching up along the lower flanks. With a few days of cool weather the patches of snow have knitted together and trekked down the slopes to meet, and pass through, the forest.
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.
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.
The moose around Bragg Creek, and elsewhere I would imagine, like the cold. When the thermometer drops below zero, they seem to come out. The colder, the better. This weekend we have stayed below -20°C and I found moose in a few different places around West Bragg Creek.
I got to spend an hour with a small herd of three cows and one calf. They were pretty docile, grazing on slender, red branches for much of the morning. They moved together and apart between stands of these branches and more open meadow. The young one played a little bit, running between mother and minders a couple of times.
This week’s cold snap came with a lot of moisture and it wrapped the prairie in a thin sheet of white. This old truck, long parked in this spot and used to advertise a nearby tree farm, did not escape the icy snow either. Drawing in closer, I really liked the details in the front, particularly the grille.
A cold snap has taken hold of the prairies around Calgary for the past few days. I saw this eagle picking away at some bones out in a field in Springbank and stopped to photograph it for a few minutes. After a few minutes, it took to the air to find the next meal. Given the damp cold, I would suggest it carry on the migration that brought it our way last week and head for somewhere more temperate. That said, I will be very happy if I have the chance to photograph it a few more times before then.
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.
These two moose crossed a farm field moving towards the heavier woods of Kananaskis, west of Bragg Creek. The mother kept up a brisk trot but the calf seemed untroubled by the pace. She came towards me across the field and then joined a path that crossed a low point in the fence a hundred feet in front of me. On the road they paused for a second and then hiked up into the forest.
The morning sun provided dynamic light on the slopes and ridges on the eastern side of Cascade Mountain in the Banff National Park. Another chapter in the long running story of light and shadow.
The week I spent in the Jasper National Park at the end of October coincided with a heavy snowstorm which gripped the park area for most of the week and gave winter a firm grasp over it. I was there to photograph wildlife with a small group but stole a few opportunities to capture the landscape freshly trimmed with its winter coat.
During a scout along the Athabasca River looking for tracks, I stopped to work into this scene for a few minutes. With a bit of time to find something to work with in the foreground, waterproof(ish) boots so I could set up out in the water a bit and a polarizer all helped to realize what I had in mind. Namely, a subtle winter landscape in this national park.
The last day had some of the heaviest snow in the morning but also afforded the only sunshine of the week. This image was along the river’s edge east of Jasper a little while before the clouds started to knit back together.
Wind blows snow off of Mount Rundle’s eastern peak. This was the vanguard of the storm that brought snow out onto the prairies over the weekend.
A Black-billed Magpie watched me photographing the snow this morning. Before I left, I turned his way to catch an image of him on this snow-covered branch.
After a warm weekend where we crested 25°C, winter jumped out of his hiding place and threw snow down overnight. The weather report calls for rain by this afternoon and then warming up to 17°C by the weekend. It would seem that this is a short reminder of what will come. It would be nice if autumn held on a little longer – we’ll see.
(Please click on each image if you are interested in higher resolutions)
The weather this weekend was more winter than early summer – In the Banff National Park it was cold. Large, heavy flakes of wet snow fell fast for a couple of hours in the morning. I drove up to Lake Minnewanka and this was the only mammal I saw on the drive up and back down.
This young Bighorn sheep was walking alone on the edge of the road away from the water. When I pulled over, he walked 100 metres towards me and then sauntered nonchalantly right past me.
He stopped a few times on both the approach and as he walked away. Which gave me some nice photo opportunities to work with the animal, the snow and the even light.
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.
Following Saturday’s snow storm, we had a beautiful day today. Sunrise came along at 6am sharp this morning and I drove up to Elbow Falls early and met the day there. The snow was still holding onto the trees and rocks so the landscape along the river had a strong winter tone. I was hoping for the early, pink light to reflect off of the clouds stacked above the mountains into this scene. That did not happen, some clouds eastwards blocked the sunlight until the sun was well clear of the horizon. When the sunlight did reach into the valley, it was beautiful.
On the way up to the falls I even had a minute to take a nice photograph of a moose sitting up in her bedded down spot from the quick ending night. A pretty great morning in my photographic book.
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.
Red Rock Coulee is in Southeast Alberta near Medicine Hat. It is rarely visited and the few paths see little travel. For me, this is a wonderful landscape to photograph.
Heavy clouds and a prairie snowstorm made my visit there last weekend a fun challenge and created some very nice opportunities. It had been a year and half since my last visit there and I enjoyed seeing this more wintry side of the area.
We were in Banff to celebrate my father’s birthday on the weekend. Sunday morning I was on my own and I decided to explore the Bow Valley Parkway as I have not spent any time there this winter. I stopped at the lookout above the Backswamp and was there for a while before I noticed a light-colored wolf laying down out in the middle of the plain. Some small motion must have caught my eye finally because I had mistaken her for a tree stump from that distance of close to a kilometer. Once I started watching this wolf, a companion cleared the forest and trotted over to the first one. They were pointed west and when they met up, the two wolves slipped across the snow in that direction. I lost sight of them behind the tall trees on the river’s edge a couple of minutes later.
These were the first wolves that I had seen anywhere in the Banff National Park so I did not that to be the end of this encounter. I thought I would try to flank them by driving further west to Muleshoe where I could park and then hike down to the river. The hope being to meet up with the wolves when they passed by – if they did go that way and I was able to notice them.
When I got to Muleshoe, I slung my camera and tripod over my shoulder and started down. My stroll was a bit more arduous than anticipated as the crust of snow was thin so most of my steps broke through. This slowed my progress a bit but it paid off well once I got down to the tracks. There, about two hundred meters east of me, were the two wolves walking briskly along the train tracks. I watched them quietly for a minute before the sound of an approaching train drew their attention and the wolves ran into the forest. The pale wolf went north towards the lower slopes of the mountains along the Parkway. That was my last glimpse of that beautiful creature on the day. The black one slipped into a thin line of trees between the tracks and the river and disappeared.
When the train had passed, I discovered my new friend crossing the snow-covered ice at a bend in the river. The black wolf caught sight of me at that point and hastened to the other side.
Once on the far bank, I was drawn in by the gleaming yellow eyes that stared out above the snow where it had just laid down to watch me.
The wolf waited for more than a few minutes, even laying its head on the snow suggesting it may have a nap, before getting up again.
Stretching a little as it stood up, the wolf kept its eyes on me and then walked in an arc away from me and north towards the tracks. Against the dormant nest of branches I photographed the wolf a couple more times. Then it dashed up the berm to the railway, crossed the line and disappeared into the brush on the northern side.
It was a special first encounter with a couple of the Bow Valley wolf pack. I hope to see them in another quiet moment again soon.
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
My post yesterday, Downward Spiral, had me thinking about patterns and prompted me to dive through my image library for patterns in nature. As I looked at these images, I assembled a loosely connected collection under this theme.
Pulling together this short set, really fired me up to go find new patterns in the forests, fields, rivers and mountains where I get to spend my time.