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A night in the old port of Montréal

A silhouetted self-portrait in the Old Port, Vieux-Port, of Montréal in Québec, Canada.

Following the enjoyment of watching the fiery, hazy spell cast by la Joute fountain in front of the Palais des congrès, I continued on to the old port.  This area is the historical heart of Montréal and one I had not spent time exploring before.  Restaurants and cafes were winding down for the night as I walked past and people were making their way home.  That left the cobblestone streets, lined with some of the oldest buildings in Canada, to me and the occasional group of merrymakers and travelers.  I played with some long exposures, stepping into a few of those frames, and some motion blurs (images of the Ferris wheel on the waterfront from that night can be seen here).  I ended up getting pretty tired towards the early morning so  that impacted the photographing a bit but I’m glad I had time to have a look around.  I’m excited to get back there again in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully with more time and during daylight too!

La Joute – a fountain of water, fog and fire

Recently I was in Montréal and my first destination was the Palais des congrès.  A stroll down Avenue Viger led me to this convention centre and the beautiful façade of colorful glass windows that drew me there.  I crossed the street to frame the windows behind the fountain in the park there.  La Joute is the name of the sculpture fountain and it breathes fire!  I didn’t know that when I arrived though.  Standing at the edge of the fountain’s pool, I overheard a boy ask his brother when the fire would start so I decided to wait and see what would come next.

A few minutes later, a thick haze started to roll over the water and soon covered the pool and rose up towards the bronze sculptures of animal and human figures.  The presentation was impressive and had a gentle flow as it moved from water into fog.

A few people had gathered and were enthralled, as I was, when the first flickers of flame began to appear around the central statue.  These flames connected into a complete ring of fire and rose a foot or two off of the water.

The backdrop of the Palais made for a lovely atmosphere and a great scene to photograph throughout the sequence.

La Grande roue de Montréal

I had an extended layover in Montréal a couple of weeks ago and spent the night photographing in the old port area.  The ferris wheel on the harbour front opened last year and is eye-catching addition to the city’s skyline. I wandered down to the waterfront close to 11 with a warm rain starting to fall which found me thinking about puddles and reflections.

The wheel closed at 11 so I was lucky to arrive in time to watch a couple of the different colors they project onto it while it is open.  Afterwards it is lit in simple white but I liked photographing that too.  I will share some photos from around the old part of the harbour but for this one, it’s all about La Grande roue de Montréal.  There may have been controversy behind this installation and I am a sucker for Ferris wheels but I think it works as part of the waterfront.

This last one was taken quite a bit later in the night.  I went into the frame to fill the narrow slot with my silhouette.  I didn’t intend for that to add a slightly foreboding tone to the image.

Flying toward the sun

Not quite Icarus, but after this owl had descended into the grass after a rodent of some type, she flew up and into a shaft of early sunlight that had pierced deep into the forest.

Into the forest with an owl

A great gray owl was hunting across a meadow near Kananaskis Country earlier in the week.  I watched her across the field for a while before she flew to the forest edge and landed in a tree branch a couple of meters off the ground.  Eventually she launched and dove after something in the tall grass.

That proved to be unsuccessful.  And the owl flew across the hillside into a stand of trees to the north.  I was able to watch her work between a couple of different perches until she found one in the sunlight.

The warmth in the sun may have been part of the reason she stayed there for a few minutes.

 

When she moved on, she flew low over the wet grass, then climbed into the trees and disappeared.

Evening flight

I found a Swainson’s hawk south of Cochrane last week.  When the bird eventually pushed off from this tangle of branches I took a couple of photographs with the wings at full extension.

A Black Diamond rainbow

A couple of weeks ago my son spied this rainbow as it arched out of a storm cloud rolling over the prairies east of Black Diamond.  I am very glad he did!

Northern Lights… softly

On the weekend there was a minor geomagnetic storm which enveloped the Earth for a couple of days.  Around midnight on Sunday I could see a green glow along the northern horizon so I walked down to the Elbow River.  It runs near my backyard and I was quickly down at the water.  A couple of hours saw a few sprites stretch away from thick Aurora band which stayed low in the sky.  However the Northern Lights were comfortable doing a slow waltz on this night.  Next time I’ll hope for a more energetic dance but I certainly enjoyed the quiet beauty that was shared.

 

Red-winged blackbird in flight

A red-winged blackbird flies among brambles in a marsh west of Bragg Creek in Alberta, Canada.

This blackbird’s flight from earlier this morning was an interesting one.  He crouched low on the branch for a few seconds, longer than I was expecting, before it launched.  When he did, there were a couple of quick wing beats before diving out of sight into the brambles.

 

A good morning with a great gray owl

This great gray owl was hunting across a field when I was out photographing.  I set up my camera and watched her glide low over the grass scouting for movement.  She caught a mouse and ate it before crossing the field, landing on a fence post close by.

She worked along the fence line for a little bit before returning her attention to the seemingly more productive ground she had started the morning at.  I waited for a couple of minutes, watching while she made short flights and dives.

Inevitably she added to her breakfast count and then returned in my direction.  This time to a weathered wood fence which was directly in front of me.  She flew from fence, to the red pipe and to the fence again in quick succession.

That gave me the opportunity to photograph her in flight up close which was a wonderful gift from this beautiful owl.  Before long she launched once more, crossed the field into the sunshine and landed in a tree on the edge of the forest.

The last of this winter’s snowy owl encounters

 

 

Most weekends in the first couple of months of the year I spent driving the country roads east of Calgary in search of snowy owls.  I had a number of great encounters this year amid some frigid temperatures and heavy snowfalls.  The last of these visits was in early March.

I found this owl perched on a fence post in the middle of a field on a beautiful sunny morning east of Delacour.  I waited for quite a while before the owl chose to fly.  When she did, she caught the wind and rose upwards quickly before she looked my way and banked above me.  She crossed the field and dove into the snow by another fence line.  She was too far to see clearly what she caught but she finished it quickly and then flew off out of sight.

Some people continued to find snowies into April but I have been drawn to the mountains and the waterways running out of them for the last few weeks so I will look forward to next winter when I hope to find these beautiful birds again.  For now, I am enjoying the arrival of spring as I’m sure they are too as they return to their summer range north of the Arctic Circle.

Signs of spring – mountain bluebirds

A pair of mountain bluebirds were flitting around a bird house west of Calgary a few days ago.  They caught my eye when I was driving past the farmland on the way to my daughter’s dance studio.  I stopped for a few minutes, watching as they appeared to be moving into their summer home.

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