Alberta

Who knew deer don’t fancy fashion

Desirée and I were doing an autumn fashion shoot in Redwood Meadows for a local jewelry designer – Nicole at Stone Willow Jewellery – last night.

This young buck came by to see what was going on but wasn’t interested for long. Not much of a fashionista as it turned out. Silly deer – my lady was far more intriguing. He did enjoy the greens he found nearby though.


Aurora Prairialis

The Northern Lights have been increasing their activity into the southern Canadian latitudes lately. After what seems like close to a year of quiet night skies, it is wonderful to enjoy them again.

We found these dancing lights on the prairies south of Cochrane near the end of September. It was a calm display but hopefully a harbinger of things to come.


Cat Creek Waterfall

 

We started the September long weekend with a family hike up Cat Creek on the southern side of Kanananskis.  It’s a short walk through the forest that offers beautiful views down the Foothills and more intimate scenes in the valley.  It was late afternoon and we enjoyed being in no particular rush.  The trail has signs about the area’s history as main trail into Kananaskis last century as well as a short-lived period as a coal mining hotbed.  We arrived at the end of the main trail shortly after 5 o’clock and had the pond below the waterfall to ourselves.

Cold but not bitterly so, the youngest kids all had turns jumping in and taking short swims.  Desiree and I climbed up the cliff beside the waterfall and explored further upstream for a little while.  Above the cliff edges were striped with thick moss and the stream had several small drops.  However the waterfall at the end of the trail was rightfully the star of the show.  It is one of the prettiest that I have seen in Alberta.  That comment may be influenced by the company I was with – most of my very favorite people.  Nonetheless, it was a great location to take a few photos.

The walk back in the evening light was just as beautiful.  We finished with most kids sleeping on the way home.  A great day.

 


Perseid Meteor Shower over Bragg Creek

Desirée and I went out to look for shooting stars last night for our favorite meteor shower of the year.  The Perseids didn’t let us down and we saw a couple dozen on either side of midnight west of Bragg Creek.

The Milky Way stood out against the deep night and I was lucky to catch a few crossing that incredible arch.

 


Loon on the lake

A quiet moment watching a lone loon between his dives under the water.


Great gray owl in the late winter forest

On a solo outing to some remote roads, I found a gorgeous great gray owl perched on a telephone pole in warm afternoon sunshine.

A short wait ended with the bird gliding into the forest.  It found a perch there and moved to two other ones before flying to a knot of trees close by.

She scanned the sky occasionally, watched the ground steadily but did not find a target on or under the snow.  One launch had the owl drop onto a pile of deadfall.  I caught a nice launch off of a tree trunk and followed the bird up to her next perch.

Soon she flew across the nearby meadow and landed in a lone evergreen.  She flew along a frozen creek to a slender tee – a winter’s skeleton – that bowed under her weight.

 

And then she flew west, further afield, and well beyond my shooting range with the gear I have.

ng range.


Archive images: Last summer with black-crowned night herons

A small slough west of Calgary is a little gem for birds from spring until fall and one I like to visit now and then.  Last August I was surprised to find a few night herons perched among the long grass surrounding the water.  I had not seen them frequent this location previously so it was a pleasure to watch them for about a half an hour.

It was early evening, around 6pm, warm with only a rustle of wind – just enough to keep the mosquitoes away.  One heron found the conditions favorable and flew overhead at one point.

The herons were more active on the far side of pond.  However one bird was stationed closer to me and I kept my long lens trained on that one for the most part.  Eventually that paid off when a farm truck rumbled by on the gravel road behind me and set the heron to flight.  The launch yielded my favourite photographs – I am a sucker for images that capture motion and power – but I was spoiled across the whole time I was there.


Great gray owl – winter edition

 

Driving home through Millarville last weekend, I hoped to see a great gray owl along the edge of the forest that skirts the road toward Bragg Creek.  I had my camera beside me and my girlfriend and I kept eyes peeled for them on fenceposts or perched in the trees.

We found one amid a snow storm.  It was not in a stop friendly location so I took a couple of quick shots and continued along.

Happily, another one was waiting a few miles further along.  This one was watching over a field and was kind enough to have chosen a tree that was across from a small pullout.  We had time to point out the owl to the kids and for me to put a long lens on it.  After a few minutes, it launched out over the field and I had some good flight opportunities.

It had been a few months since I had seen a great gray owl so I was thrilled to get to see two that evening.  I’ll have to make sure I retrace my steps there again soon.


Evening over Sulphur Mountain

With the day slipping away from the Vermilion Lakes in the Bow Valley, the clouds began to light up in the last light of the day.  This column started out bright white and soon burned into a hot pink.  It hung over the valley between Sulphur Mountain and Sunshine Peak brushing them with a faint pastel hue before dimming as night took hold.


A Christmas owl

I found this great horned owl on December 20th.  She was perched a couple of meters off the ground in a stand of trees along the edge of a farm east of Langdon on Alberta’s prairie.  It was just before noon and the day was cool but not frigid.  The warm sun was lovely as I walked from the range road to a position with a better view of the owl.  I was excited to photograph the bird – especially once I had the sunlight at my back and I could catch the glow of the golden eyes.

She watched the ground intently at times and tracked any ravens that flew overhead.  I settled in on a mound and waited for the bird to launch. Despite a couple of shakes and repositions early on, the bird didn’t fly then and soon the eyes were shutting for increasingly long intervals.

For four hours I waited before the owl jumped into the air.  I was in a great position but was chagrined when she flew away from me.  Hope returned when she alighted on a branch 20 meters away and turned back towards me.  A few minutes along and the excitement returned.  This time the flight path was towards me and she flew beside me on her way to another line of trees towering over a snow-covered field.  This time afforded me a great angle on the owl.


Dalemead dawn

West of the hamlet, Desirée and I watched the sunrise over the frozen prairie.  Despite the slightly wicked cold, the beauty of the snowy fields, black tree silhouettes and the deep hues in the sky was overwhelming.  The lens was in my trunk so when I put it on, it frosted up.  That was partially by design and partially due to a lack of planning earlier in the morning.  I loved the haze around the frame that resulted and had a lot of fun shooting with that for a bit.


A pair on the prairie

 

I enjoy the backroads on the prairies.  This afternoon I found a pair of ravens perched on the peak of this weathered homestead east of Dalemead.  When they flew I tried to compose their flight against the field and the house.