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Nightlines and the Brandenburg Tor

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-9018

The Brandenburg Gate is a beautiful monument that has been at the centre of pivotal moments in history since its construction completed in 1791.  The Tor was commissioned by King Friedrich William II as a sign of peace; Napoleon marched through it in triumph; it was closed to all through the cold war, dividing Berlin – and the world,  and divided Berlin and the world; and then it was where the wall first fell and was where the city and Germany reunified.  Coming full circle, it has now come to represent peace as well as unity in the country and in Europe.

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-9020

I was excited to photograph this icon and visited there several times through my week in Berlin.  One visit was after midnight and I set up on the west side of the where three streets meet.  I wanted to create some long exposures to let the lights from the vehicles create streaks in front of the gate.  It is a stunning structure and I enjoyed spending time there and making these images.

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-9028

When night fell, I had been hanging around the Spree River near Berliner Dom so it was not a very long walk to the Tor.  Coming from the east, I photographed the front of the gate first.  The Quadriga of Victory looks like it about to leap off the top and carry forward.

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-8993

It is a stunning structure and I enjoyed spending time there and making these images.  With recent events within Germany and other parts of Europe, a visit seemed timely and it would serve many well to consider what the Brandenburg Gate has come to represent from many years of hard learned lessons about peace and unity.

Blasting off from Berlin

Berlin's Fernsehturm - © Christopher Martin-9314

The week flew by here in Europe with a weekend in Gent and then five days in Berlin.  I met up with my cousin and two other very close friends and had a blast the whole time.  It was fast but I am a little surprised how much was stuffed in.  Last night, I spent the evening around Alexanderplatz and went up the Fernsehturm for a true bird’s-eye view of the city.  Berlin’s TV Tower is referred to by some as the toothpick and the TV asparagus I’m told.  I expect there are more nicknames but its status as an icon of Berlin and a dominating presence in her skyline elevates it above reproach in my book.

When I was down on the ground, the Berlin lacht festival was in full swing so the performances, partying and laughter overran the square.  This image shows a bit of the colours and mood of this event – all under the watchful eye of the tower with a lump in its throat.

Anyways, a quick image while I wait for my plane and get home to my kids.  I will share more from the whirlwind soon I hope.

Finding Berlin

I crossed the pond last night to come to Berlin for a whirlwind visit with my cousin.  I did find Berlin, and him so the trip’s off to a great start.  We’re off to Belgium for the weekend and then I will be looking forward to finding much more of Berlin.

Berlin Underground on the U7 - © Christopher Martin-6436

This was a quick shot of transportation by transportation while waiting for the metro on the U7 at the Jakob-Kaiser-Platz station.

Calgary Stampede – running and riding at the rodeo

Calgary Stampede Day 1 Rodeo - © Christopher Martin-245-2

I started this year’s Calgary Stampede with an afternoon at the rodeo with two good friends.  We were part of a larger band of harmless troublemakers so the party started before and continued after the rodeo was over.  Photography wasn’t my focus on this visit to the grounds but I did have some good opportunities from the seats in the infield right above the chutes.

Calgary Stampede Day 1 Rodeo - © Christopher Martin-95

Calgary Stampede Day 1 Rodeo - © Christopher Martin-105

Calgary Stampede Day 1 Rodeo - © Christopher Martin-156

Calgary Stampede Day 1 Rodeo - © Christopher Martin-3

It was great to see the cowgirls, cowboys and all of the animals in action.  Judging by the capacity crowd and all of their happy faces, I wasn’t alone.  Happy Stampede!

More from the Canada Day lightning storm

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-390

When my children and I decided to head out from Redwood Meadows to find a good vantage point to watch the lightning storm hanging over the Bow River between Cochrane and Calgary, we stopped when we got past the edge of the forest and could first see the storm itself.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-184

We found a spot 10 miles from the closest edge of the storm and watched the show which rippled and flashed in the massive clouds rising off the northern horizon.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-201

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-292

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-570-2

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-301

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-431

At one point while we were watching the lightning erupting at 3, 4 or 5 different places at once, my son said, “Baby Thor is having a temper tantrum”.  That seemed about right and apparently he has an enormous amount of energy because the lightning flashed and the bolts flew constantly for the two hours that I was there.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-357

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-506

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-405

I re-worked the image that I first posted from the storm – cooling the white balance by almost 1000°K.  I really love how the lightning bolts crackle out of the cloud column.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-388

On the way back, I stopped by a pond where the western edge of the storm, still busy with sheet lightning, was reflected in its surface.  A beautiful final view of the storm before heading home.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-593

 

Eagle fishing in the Banff National Park

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5085

I watched this eagle glide across the Vermilion Lake from its nest on the far side.  Ahead of his arrival on the shore in front of me, waterfowl and a couple of Great blue heron scattered in all directions.  The eagle flew higher and circled a couple of times, staring into the water.  He dove, his claws slicing the water, but finding no joy.  The raptor pulled up into a branch of a dead tree to reconsider its approach.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5077

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5078

Twenty minutes passed before his second flight.  He flew in a wide arc, gaining a little more altitude.  The birds that had been on the water, had not returned so the eagle had a clean line this time.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5086

He dove, again, and this time his talons came off the surface with a fish in their grasp.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5089

The fish was quickly moved from talons to beak and then swallowed mid-flight.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5093

The eagle flew back up to the same tree and settled on a branch near where it had been pestered by the blackbird earlier.  From there, I hoped he would fish again and I waited for more than an hour.  Along the way, he called out a few times which gave some interesting head and beak positions to photograph.

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5253

Eagle fishing in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5420

Lightning in the clouds over the Foothills

After the fireworks at Redwood Meadows last night, my children spotted lightning flashing to the east.  At that moment we voted to become storm chasers and we headed towards the prairies to see what the storm was all about.   It turned out to be far beyond my expectations!

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-388

This storm was hanging over the northern ridge above the Bow River and stretched from Cochrane to Calgary.  The size was impressive, but the electrical activity was truly spectacular.  The lightning flashed throughout the peaks and valleys of the clouds constantly for the entire two hours that we watched from a high spot near the Springbank Airport.  I will share more images from the night soon but when I saw this one, taken with my telephoto lens aimed at one spot that had been flashing steadily, I was excited to get a quick post out!

Buzzing a Bald eagle

Eagle and Blackbird in Banff - © Christopher Martin-5036

This Bald eagle perched along the southern shore of the first of the Vermilion Lakes in the Banff National Park.  A Redwing blackbird did not like this visitor and buzzed the much larger creature.

 

 

 

Happy Canada Day!

To my fellow Canadians, and anyone else with a soft spot for the country, Happy Canada Day!  149 years old today!

Canada Day bike parade- © Christopher Martin-54

This was the annual bike parade in Redwood Meadows led by our local Fire Department.  And followed closely by my daughter, Kezia, in the middle looking back.

A Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3782-3

I’ve lived in Redwood Meadows for over 9 years and have never photographed a Great gray owl in the daylight here.  A little while ago, I was driving back from Bragg Creek and spotted this owl perched on a fence post.  I watched him in the sun for a little while before he flew.  Then he quickly moved from post to post for a couple of minutes, with short breaks between flights.

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3714

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3730

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3735

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3736

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3737-2

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3738

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3748

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3749

Eventually he flew to the top of a nearby tree for a better view.  That did not last long and he flew directly in front of me as he crossed the road (the first photo int his story) and flew into the heavier forest on the edge of the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo and Pow Wow grounds.

Great gray owl in Redwood Meadows - © Christopher Martin-3780

 

An evening with Grizzly bears in Yellowstone

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9331

The second time I crossed paths with this family of Grizzly bears it was deep into dusk.  I spotted the mother in the hill above the Swan Lake Flat about an hour earlier but quickly lost her and the cubs in the rolling slopes as they made their way down.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9292

When they did appear it surprised me how close they got before I saw them.  Knowing the size of an adult Grizzly, it showed me how high those hills are.  The trio walked and grazed, with he twins play fighting along the way, towards the Grand Loop Road eventually settling about 150 metres away.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9348-3

The failing light made photographing the bears a fun challenge.  The golden halos created by the glow from the western horizon being caught by the hair in their coats was amazing.  That alone was more than worth the wait.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9360

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9395

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9352

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9423

They moved parallel to the road for about 20 minutes before heading back into the hills.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs at dusk - © Christopher Martin-9481

A family of Grizzly bears in Yellowstone

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8002
This mother Grizzly bear brought her cubs down to this sage brush meadow on the Swan Lake Flat above Mammoth Hot Springs several times in the four days that I was in Yellowstone National Park.  Two of those walkabouts coincided with me being in the area so I was able to watch them for a couple of hours in total.  These photographs are from the first encounter in the evening on May 20th.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-7922

The twins were playful.  Carefree knowing their mother was watchful of the crowds that invariably developed along the Grand Loop Road as well as for any Grizzly males who might cross their path.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8030

The mother had a lot of character in her face, with a bit of a bend in her snout and lighter colouring in the fur in the outer disc.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8108

Both cubs tackled each other, bared their teeth and tried on attacks and defences back and forth.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8045

For the most part, momma didn’t mind but when they drifted too far away a huff from her would send them scrambling back to her side.  She was hungry and spent her time digging up roots but did play with them a little bit.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8154

Occasionally, the little bears would stop and watch the people watching them.  I wondered what they made of all of us hugging the edge of the road, lined up facing them.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8214

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8173

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8126

I watched the trio for an hour that evening.  With the shadows lengthening, they moved slowly away from the road into the rolling hills eventually melting into the plateau.  Before then, I took the opportunity to frame them in their surroundings.

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8249

Yellowstone Grizzly bear mom and cubs - © Christopher Martin-8258-2

 

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