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My favourite wildlife photographs from 2017

It took a little longer to find time to complete my review of my wildlife images this year.  Due largely to general busyness and some measure of procrastination.  So I appreciated the irony that one of the areas I have put a lot of thought into, and work to improve, is patience.  Looking back, this focus on waiting is helping me to get closer to the wildlife imagery that I want to be creating.  Waiting for the animals, waiting on their schedule for something to happen, can be a challenge – sometimes, like in the cold, a significant one.  I’m happy that I laid down on the snow, crouched in marshes, hiked into valleys and froze my fingers to find those opportunities and try to do something with them.

The 2017 gallery can be viewed at this link or by clicking on any of the pictures in this post.

A comparison with my 2016 wildlife gallery suggests some subtle changes.  I see exploration into some ideas, blurs for one, that is interesting.  I’ve been trying to bring more imagination into my wildlife images.  Lot’s more to work on there.

Comparing years past with the last one, I like the direction and that stirs up the motivation coals.  The latter always being a good thing, I think.

A science fiction abstract

Any guesses what this is?  I’ve answered below but it’s kind of fun to let your imagination run on what it could be.

 

 

 

This is from a large inflated mat at the bottom of a tower at an indoor play structure we went to for my daughter’s birthday.  The cords were lit and looked super cool.  In post, I flipped the image, converted it to black and white and then darkened the two shadows at the bottom.  It became this abstract science fiction scene to me.

Flashback Friday: Pelicans flying over the Sea of Cortez

It has been a couple of years since I went to Cabo San Lucas.  Thinking about an image for Flashback Friday, one from a spectacular sunrise there came to mind.  The fiery sky had me thinking about where to set up for a landscape shot when I saw a brief of brown pelicans flying low over the water.  I switched to my camera with a telephoto lens attached and watched as they rose off the water.  This let their silhouettes contrast sharply from the background.  That got me excited and I squeezed off a couple of photos before they dropped down again and continued southwards.

If you are interested in seeing a few more images like this one, here is another photo from the same flight which I posted that morning in December 2014.  And, another post where one pelican flew very close to me a couple of days later and I isolated the lone bird against the sky and the rising sun.

A few minutes later, I returned to landscape hunting and was not disappointed in any way with what nature laid out before me.

 

Happy Birthday Kezia!

To my sweet girl…

You are a magical and wonderful young lady who delights in life.  And everyday you live that life with love, kindness and wonder.  Always I will be completely enthralled with you and everything you do.  It is my privilege, and an absolute joy, to be your daddy.  I am deeply grateful for each day I have watched you being and becoming the amazing person you are. I am excited for many more with you my dear.

Happy 9th birthday Kezia!

With all of my love,

Me

Snowy flight over the Prairie

I found this snowy owl perched along a forgotten fence line north of Lyalta (which is east of Calgary).  After a trek across the field to get to about 60 meters away, I leaned against a post and waited.  I set my exposure so that I would have a slower shutter speed at the start.  I wanted to show some motion in the wings and estimated that 1/200th of a second would allow for that.  Fifteen minutes later something drew his attention and he launched perpendicular to me and the fence.

 

I had two nice images of him flying towards the sun before he was past me.  The first had a soft blur in the wings as they were near level.  The other caught the wings at their full extension upwards.  Both images kept the head sharp so luck played to my hand when I was panning with the bird.  The shutter speed worked out well.  I continue to try slower speeds but have yet to nail one of those with a sharp face.  I will share those when I do.

My favourite landscape photographs from 2017

It was fun to look back over the past year’s photographs recently and recall the story behind them.  I’ve created a gallery of my favorite images you can check out here (or click on any image to open that page in a new window).  I moved in new directions with my landscape work which, through trial and error, yielded some work I really like.

I practiced a technique where I change the focal length (zoom) the lens during a long exposure which creates a variety of effects that I have had great fun exploring.

I walked into some of my images, to provide scale in some and interest in others, which I want to continue to explore and build on.  I also hope my children will join me for some of those in the coming year – if I can wake them up early enough!

I had a lot of fun scrambling around valleys and peaks in Banff and Kananaskis.  I wanted to hike more in the warmer months and was happy with the images I made from those outings to new locations.  I photographed through many nights along the lakes there and enjoyed seeing these amazing places under the stars.  I have always loved the mountains and that love continues to deepen.

A trip to the Palouse in Washington in May was a definite highlight.  The agricultural geometry laid over the rolling hills is beautiful.  Exploring the area and searching for interesting compositions filled a long weekend and a couple of memory cards.

Excursions on the Prairies, searching for snowy owls in winter and a long list of other birds in the other seasons, were regular for me in 2017.  These are often solitary travels for me and I find the landscape imagery often reflects that.  Lone subjects, standing as islands on endless fields, stand defiant under the massive skies in one image and vulnerable in the next.  I have much more that I want to create out there in this new year.

There were many pieces of last year that bring a smile when reflecting back.  And a few that well some tears up.  They combined to make for a good year.  For me, this gallery reflects that.  Thank you for following the visual journey I share here.

Snow flying at night in Redwood Meadows

The snow flew many times in December.  This was one of the nights where I went out to enjoy one for a little bit.  Owing to the falling snow blurring the street lamps were diffused balls of light.  The snowflakes also played with the shadows, leaving some sharp while making others soft.  This storm felt like there was a good-natured mischief-maker involved.

Snowbursts

Just before the holidays, and the cold snap that came along at the same time, my daughter and I played in the snow the day after a blizzard had blown through.

Kezia was brushing branches to watch the snow fall.  She called them snowbursts and with the bright sunshine lighting them, it felt like a bit of magic.

We had a lot of fun playing and taking pictures, as you can probably tell.  And so did our hound Lacey who chased snowballs and dove her head into the snow constantly!

We had been snow-free up to that point in December (the 20th) so the excitement to be returned to a proper winter wonderland was palpable.  I love hanging out with this sweet girl and this was a great day doing just that.

Happy New Year!

I wish you and yours a great 2018.  I hope the snakes are short and the ladders are long.

I created this image after the fireworks display in my small community (which was great!).  The full moon made the whole winter landscape gleam.  The lights from the skating rink to the right created interesting shadow layers in a covered trail across the sports field.  An abstract start to the new year.

For me, I’m eager for a new year and all of the experiences that will hold.  Looking back over 2017, I hope to crisply remember the many wonderful memories from the past year, and let those that were not soften.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

We are two hours away from 2018 here in Alberta.  I hope you are enjoying a great last night of 2017.  Our Redwood Meadows community had a great fireworks display to closeout the year.  This image was shot at the start of the show tonight.

A snowy owl flight

The deep freeze across southern Alberta has curtailed some of our outside activities over the holidays – but I’ve still managed to head out photographing a few times. I have been longing to see snowy owls again so on the 28th, I drove to the prairies east of Calgary in pursuit of these beautiful birds.  I left the house at 6am and it was -29°C.  That kind of chill saw me bundled up in heavy winter gear from top to bottom.  I drove the back roads between Delacour and Lyalta scanning telephone poles, fence posts and any other high points for the owls.  The heavy snowfall that has accompanied the cold made for a true winter wonderland so I enjoyed the drive immensely.  A short time later, I found a snowy perched on a telephone pole.

I parked and stepped out with my camera and then waited.  After 40 minutes the owl found something that was worth checking out and he flew across a field landing on a fence post a couple hundred meters away.

I trudged that way and waited to see what happened.  Five minutes later he flew back to the line of telephone poles.  I had a great view from the launch and until he flew past me.

With a great flight under the belt, and some very cold extremities, I returned to my car.  I watched the owl from its new perch on another pole while I warmed up.  The owl was alert, looking around steadily, but did not fly and I left a short while later.

Happy Holidays!

I hope you are enjoying time doing what you love with those you enjoy spending time with.  I have been able to do both with family and friends this holiday.  For Boxing Day I created some time alone and went up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis.  It is a beautiful location, particularly when blanketed in ice and snow.  The afternoon held broken clouds but the skies cleared as sunset faded.  The half-moon emerged from the veil and shone incredibly bright in the night sky.  The moonlight washed over the rapids above the waterfall while stars began to take their place above.  I deeply enjoyed being in this scene.

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