A blizzard swept out of the mountains on the weekend. The ground had been almost bare but winter felt everyone’s enthusiasm for spring was premature. The snow fell through the night and in the morning there was almost a foot blanketing the grass, the trees and almost anything else that doesn’t move. In the middle of the storm, I went outside to watch the snow and enjoy the sound of the huge flakes touching down and watching them tumble through the darkness.
Rain has been a rare commodity in northern Arizona for the last couple of months. When clouds started to roll in from the north while we were down there people were hopeful that they would drop some of their precipitation before moving on. The rain did come eventually and the evening before I hiked along the airport trail to watch the storm’s approach.
I was content to watch the blues and greys in the sky deepen with night coming. However, a break in the clouds to the west allowed for some color to break through and I turned my attention out over West Sedona’s forested cityscape.
There was an uneven stream of traffic passing below me towards the airport and the lookouts around the mesa. Long exposures of cars driving up and down the road to the airport seemed to work well with this sunset.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105 lens: 6.0 seconds at f/6.3 on ISO 800
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.
From a small pond in Granville Island where a light rain was falling. The circular ripples created by the raindrops hitting the water distorted the reflections of trees above.
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.
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.
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 storm threatened to cross over the western ridges in Kananaskis yesterday when I was in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The ridge above caught my eye and displayed the tension high up on the mountains.
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.
(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.
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.
On the drive across the prairies to Medicine Hat last weekend, Bobbi and I drove through an early spring storm near sunset. The trailing edge of the storm clouds were to the west and the sunlight slipped in along with some amazing color.
To the east, the strongest part of the storm was still releasing wind, rain and a bit of lightning. With a few 30 second exposures I got lucky and caught this bolt as it shot out of the darkness.
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.
This location, just west of Calgary, is one of my favourite places to photograph during the winter months when the sun sets behind the southern edge of the Canadian Rockies. Last night, a massive storm broke free of the mountains and stretched across the prairie. There were some great holes in the clouds that allowed sunlight to streak through here and there. A very dramatic scene to work with and create images of.
Behind the ominous forerunning clouds came the heavy rain. Here the rain is hammering Bragg Creek and moving quickly onto the fields.
As the storm’s intensity built, lightning seemed inevitable and I was lucky to catch this strike hitting along the Elbow River behind a hill in Redwood Meadows.
When the rain did arrive where I was photographing, cover in the car was the prudent option. It was no exaggeration to say this was a torrential downpour.
Sunset was 10pm last night but the sky was still quite bright in the northwest after midnight.
These clouds were incredible and worth pulling off to the side of the road in the middle of the night.
I was in a great location to watch the storm that had rolled in Friday night and dropped many, many buckets of rain through Saturday afternoon start to break up.
The drama in the clouds west of Calgary was beautiful to watch build and fall away for a few minutes.
Certainly a different feel in black and white. In the version above I wanted to bring the weathered barn to greater prominence. I ended up shedding the color and adding a little grain to create a more historical, antique feel.
Now spring seems to have asserted control and with that comes the storm clouds that roll out of the mountains through the summer. Here then are a couple of image from the start of the storm season from this afternoon.
There was a blizzard that flew out of the mountains this evening. Huge snowflakes swirled around the trees off my deck and it was a really beautiful storm to watch. As the sun began to set, it fell below the storm clouds and sunlight backlit the trees and the snow. A surreal dreamscape that was great to photograph.
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.
I was visiting family in Saskatchewan over the Thanksgiving Weekend and we stayed in Medicine Hat last night. This morning, my dad and I went left the hotel in darkness, heading for Red Rock Coulee, about an hour’s drive south of The Hat. The rocks giving the area its name have beautiful color and textures to match their unusual shape and size.
The coulee is part of a gently sloping hill that rises well above the plains to the south and the west affording a view across the prairies to Montana and Alberta. Along with the elevated position came a steady wind which pulled in heavy rain to accompany the grey clouds stretched across the sky. The wet rocks were a treat to photograph, which made up for the uninspiring sunrise (flat and grey).
I got out on the Friday morning for an early shoot in Kananaskis and I was met by an inch of snow outside my front door. Rather excitedly, I carried on to the back country and the snow had raised up to two inches off the grass.
I went to the South end of Barrier Lake and walked along the beach looking for images that would convey an autumn snowfall. This was my favourite, taken just off the water across the lake.
It would have been great to get a bit of sunlight this morning but it was very beautiful and quiet. A really wonderful morning up in the mountains.
O’Shaughnessy Falls in Kananaskis along Highway 40 near Barrier Lake.
I’ve driven by this small set of rapids a number of times and this looked like a great morning to stop and look for some different looks to this waterfall.
A bit of a hike up along the stream into the forest, I liked this scene of a lone flower amid the dark trunks and patches of snow on the ground. It has been a strange year weather-wise and this first image in this post seemed to speak to that. Below is a couple of alternative compositions of that scene.
This storm front came marching down out of the Rockies past Canmore and swept out on to the Prairie on Friday. We have had a number of these big storms over the summer which has afforded a few really great landscape photographic opportunities.
I made this image while stopped on the Springbank overpass on the Trans Canada highway west of Calgary where the road climbs up towards the mountains.