Kian and I spent a great day in the Banff National Park last week. We met my parents, his grandparents, in Banff and divided the day between the Gondola that runs up Sulphur Mountain and the Lake Minnewanka boat cruise. It was a lot of fun touring with my son and my parents. Here is a recap – I have used Kian’s photographs to illustrate the day.
When we got started, Kian asked me if he could use one of my cameras. The answer was, and always is, yes. We then spent big chunks of the day photographing away. This was one of the first times where he has really wanted to spend time doing it and I was happy to join him.
From the top of the gondola, we walked up to Sanson’s Peak and found Golden-mantled ground squirrels all around plus a couple of Hoary marmots on the rocks. Kian picked out these creatures and angled for good spots to shoot them (with a camera).
On the water, we covered the length of the lake and Kian made some very nice landscape images along the way. Coming back, he started experimenting with the reflection of his camera in the window against the scenery beyond. These were some of my favourites from his set. When droplets settled on the glass towards the end of the trip, he turned his attention to them framed with the mountains. Those joined my list of favourites too – great vision and creativity.
The next day, we spent a couple of hours post processing his work. It was fantastic! I love the way he sees things and creates images. I’m a one trick pony and didn’t do much more than photographing through the day. Kian however was also the safety model for the flotation device, shared ecological knowledge about the forest along the lake and took a turn piloting the boat.
After the boat ride, my parents headed back to Cochrane and Kian and I waded in the water for a bit – right up until our legs went numb! We then went down the Johnson Lake road to see if the Buffalo berries were ripe and drawing in any bears. They were and they did! We saw a Black bear and a Grizzly.
After all of that excitement, we headed for home. Dusk came quickly and we decided to pull off of the Trans-Canada Highway and drive up the Sibbald Creek Trail to find a spot to photograph the sunset for a few minutes. We found a small lake close to the road and this was Kian’s final picture from a great day. An absolutely wonderful landscape image and one we both agreed was among his best (so far).
He is a competent young man intent on trying out new things – I am exceptionally happy for him about the person he is choosing to become. And, I am very proud of him.
I stopped under a railway overpass to photograph a small piece of the morning commute in Berlin. It was interesting to see and compare the vehicles on a German roadway with what I’m used to at home in Calgary.
I have a lot of fun photographing things in motion and the half hour I spent on this street just outside of downtown was no exception. Playing with the shutter speed to isolate subjects as they speed by is a good challenge and can make for strong, dynamic images. Here then are a few more from that session beside the road.
The Berlin TV Tower rises up from Alexanderplatz in the heart of Berlin and is arguably the most prominent landmark in the city. To get an elevated view, I went to the Park Inn’s panorama terrace which is on the 40th floor and faces the tower. The netting wasn’t great for photographs but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to work with it.
The views of Berlin from that height were fantastic. I got there before the sun had set so it was nice to be able to see many of the cathedrals, museums and other sites I had spent the week visiting. The image below is looking to the west and the orderly yet somehow still chaotic mosaic of the city.
Just before midnight I went to the top of the tower itself. The windows at night had reflections to wrestle along with a bit of distortion in the glass so the photographs from Berlin’s highest perch were quite limited. Still great to take in the whole city wearing her night lights. The night market in the centre of Alexanderplatz under the tower nearly empty but provided some colorful lights to frame against the railing shadows I leaned against.
Dark clouds wrapped the eastern edge of the Bow Valley near Mount Yamnuska as the sky brightened at dawn last Friday morning. The storm front to the west continued pushing towards the prairies and by dawn the line of rain was directly overhead Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail) where it crosses the TransCanada Highway.
To the west were the rows of mountains, one leading down the Bow Valley towards Canmore and Banff, the other through Kananaskis Country. When the sun cleared the horizon, light met water and a double rainbow arched over the valley’s mouth.
To the east, the sunlight hit the clouds toning them in warm pastels before dawn. As the sun rose, the colours continued to deepen absorbed by the clouds as well as skipping along the underside.
I loved watching the alchemy of the light mixing with the clouds and rain. The whole sky, in all directions, was dynamic and changed continuously through sunrise. A little later, the sunlight shone through falling rain, and I made this last photograph of the landscape of this part of the Stoney Nakoda Nation before heading up the Kananaskis Trail and spending the morning with a pair of Bald eagles at the Mount Lorette Ponds.
For the second week in a row, I caught up Grizzly bear #152, and her smile, in Kananaskis’s Spray Valley Provincial Park. Once more she was feasting on Buffalo berries. Unlike the sunny encounter last week, the rain was falling steadily providing a sheen to the leaves, the bear’s coat and the tall grass.
The bear went in and out of the bushes, eating steadily along the way. Again I was reminded how easily they can disappear within the vegetation – they are a part of the land and seem to join it and separate at will.
A couple of hours after watching a Black bear in a patch of Buffalo berries, I found this Grizzly in another one a few kilometres away. She appeared to be a very happy bear, taking some anthropomorphic liberties, I even thought she smiled a few times as in the photo above!
This female’s tag has the number 152 and she has spent her life in Kananaskis Country according to what I could find online. With the poor berry crops of the previous two years, it is not surprising she is without cubs this year. I hope that the much better fortune this year will lead to her and the other females in the central Rockies bringing many cubs out of their winter caves next spring.
At one point, the Conservation officer attending blew the fog horn which startled the bear into a short run. One that ended at the next berry patch.
She dug up the ground near the second patch a little bit too. I expected her to be solely focused on the berries but maybe a few roots made for a better, and more complete, lunch.
When she turned around to dig in another spot, it was impossible to not stare at those incredible claws!
This summer’s weather – rain and sunshine in a daily tug-of-war – has been a perfect gardener for the wild Buffalo berries. These have ripened over the past week or two and are drawing in the bears throughout Kananaskis. This Black bear made it easy for me to find him when he sauntered across the road a couple of hundred metres in front of me. I pulled up to find him standing up in the middle of a patch feasting on the berries.
They are a great source of calories for the bears so it is wonderful to see so much fruit this year. Some years are not nearly as abundant and it seemed like that was not lost on this beautiful bear. He appeared to be relishing almost every bite. The berries stretched back into the forest and he slowly made his way further back as he ate. I lost sight of him shortly after these pictures but could see branches bend and hear the odd one crack for several more minutes before he vanished back into the wilderness as they often do.
The architecture on and around Museum Island is impressive to say the very least. I spent a couple of nights photographing the buildings along the banks of the River Spree and the canals nearby. The lighting on many of the buildings at night adds to the majestic feel which seems appropriate given the enormous efforts to restore them since Germany’s reunification. Above is the Altes Museum and below is Berliner Dom which shares the Lustgarten and its central fountain.
Further down the river, I caught the moon rising across the river from the Berliner Dom. I loved the reflection of the lights in the water.
A long exposure as a night cruise passed by this outdoor party blurred the lights on the water – and a couple of people along the boardwalk.
I finished the late night walkabout with a stroll back to the Brandenburg Tor to photograph the eastern side with the absence of the masses that visit during the day and evening. Afterwards, I crossed to the western side and photographed light trails under the gate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This was a quick shot of transportation by transportation while waiting for the metro on the U7 at the Jakob-Kaiser-Platz station.