Calgary

A lounge leopard

… not a real leopard but this one behind the behind the bar at the Calcutta Cricket Club on 17th Avenue in Calgary is stunning. I hope to see one in the wild – perhaps with my friends in India – sooner than later.


Downtown Calgary – Morning along the Bow River

On Saturday I watched the morning arrive on the shore of the Bow River.  I was across the water from Calgary’s downtown and used the Center Street Bridge as a focal point between the sky and the buildings.  I parked along Memorial Drive and checked the sky in a couple of test photographs.  Traffic came by and made for a good start.

On the other side of the road, the rocks, snow and ice along the river bank presented an interesting foreground.  It was a bit hectic teasing out compositions as the light was changing rapidly.  But that’s pretty fun chaos by any measure.

The eastern sky had bundles of pink cotton candy for a few minutes.  To the west the pink was a pastel that looked very pretty reflected in the Bow where it passed Prince’s Island Park.

Mallard ducks and Canada geese milled about flying up and down the river.  The cackling and quacking across the water along with the occasional group of vehicles passing behind me on Memorial Drive joined the river to perform the morning’s soundtrack.

 

 


Curves at the Central Public Library

Calgary’s new Central Public Library is an amazing space for many reasons. Last night I enjoyed circling the exterior for the first time, photographing interesting features at interesting moments as I went.

Above a patron standing at the stairs near the main entrance is silhouetted against the beautifully designed curving wall that leads to the doors.  A minute later, and a few steps to the north, a fellow photographer captured the curve in his own way while sitting outside.


A view from under the flyover

On my path towards the water for sunrise a couple of weeks ago, I passed under the 4th Avenue Flyover Bridge.  Curtis Van Charles Sorensen’s mural of the leaping foxes is a street art favorite of mine.  I liked how the curve of the bridge allowed me to connect it to the Calgary Tower.


A sunrise in the East Village

I stumbled upon the beginning of this sunrise as I was heading to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary last weekend.  Driving through downtown, the clouds in the sky looked interesting as dawn approached.  I parked in the East Village near the Bow River and grabbed my gear.

A long exposure, 6 seconds at f/16, made the dim glow to the east much brighter than it appeared to me then.  I saw this image on the back of my camera and raced to the water’s edge between the Reconciliation Bridge and the George C. King Bridge.

As the sun rose into the clouds, warm light filtered through the clouds spreading up from the horizon and across the sky.

A few minutes later, I framed a lone pedestrian crossing the bridge against this fiery backdrop.

The color faded to pastels just before the sun cleared the horizon.  A soft end to a beautiful daybreak in Calgary.


Here comes the sun…

As the eastern sky brightened yesterday morning, sunlight painted a line through a thin veil of clouds above the horizon.  With the sun heralding its imminent arrival, I was happy to wait and watch it rise.  A beautiful start to the day.


Wood ducks shakin’ in YYC

Wood ducks are one of my favorite species of waterfowl (side note: that is a weird word!)  I love the plumage of both genders.  To me, they are among the most beautiful birds.  Beyond that, I like watching them paddling around, chasing one another and most of all splashing during their cleaning routine.

Last weekend I spent a couple of hours watching them carry on about their day.  Every now and then, one would separate from the raft of ducks, presumably to get some space, before dunking their head under the water several times, shaking the water off, flapping wings, rising out of the water and then repeating it for as long as they saw fit.  I didn’t tire of watching the water drops fly!


Inglewood reflection

I’m heading down to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary to see which migrating as well as resident birds are around on a wet, cool afternoon.  Kezia and I were down there together last weekend and found some wood ducks, a variety of gulls, one heron and a good number of Canada geese.  This one was paddling on one of the ponds near the river.  Kez and I both like the serene aspects of this scene.


Calgary – a view to the tower’s lights

 


The night lights on the Calgary Tower caught my eye a couple of weeks ago.  I found an interesting perspective after moving around a bit.


Gulls in motion under the city lights

Last week one of the snowstorms that came through Calgary picked up intensity after dark.  I was staying downtown near the Bow River and watched as the increasing snowfall was illuminated by the city lights above one of the bridges crossing the water.  A silhouette sped in front of a light at one moment and then a dozen more did the same the next.

A colony of gulls threw waves of their silhouettes into the storm circling low over the water and then above the lights for several minutes before they appeared to settle down.

I don’t know if it was the weather, disturbance by a someone or something or members returning to congregate for the night but they were excited for a short while.  I loved the grainy sky created by the snow and the shape of these dark blurs as they flew into and out of the light.


A snowy morning downtown

It was a surprise, to me at least, that a snowstorm blew across Calgary this morning.  I thought that weather wasn’t coming until Friday.  I took a few photographs near City Hall as the snow fell.  It cleared off quickly but provided a wintry reminder that spring has not taken hold quite yet.

Snowstorm in downtown Calgary- © Christopher Martin-5262


Gulls in flight at Carburn Park

I like photographing birds – no surprise to those who follow this blog.  I’m not a birder with a long list of life birds but I really enjoy watching almost every bird I see, particularly when they are in motion.  Several days ago at Carburn Park the sky was overcast, snow fell and wind out of the north had a bit of a bite to it.  A great day to watch and photograph along the Bow River.

At one bend there was a small colony of California gulls.  A few flew off in the time I watched them.  Although these gulls are common around Calgary’s rivers through the winter, and can be easily found at any time, I had fun watching these ones fly by.

 


Welcome to the first day of spring

My children reminded me last night that today is the vernal equinox which marks the first day of spring.  It has been a severe winter here in southern Alberta so it is a little hard to believe spring could be arriving soon.  Last Sunday I was photographing at Carburn Park – one of Calgary’s beautiful parks along the Bow River – photographing ducks, geese and gulls along the water.

Snow fell through the day, wind blew in from the north and clouds slid low over the city.  I enjoyed the inclement weather for its photographic potential but I had no thoughts of spring as I went along for a few hours.

When I spied an American robin among the rocky shoreline, I have to admit I was surprised.  It looked and felt like winter – particularly on this day – but robins are wonderful harbingers of spring and I happily welcomed their presence as a sign of that change.  I dropped down to the ground and soon found that robin and seven others flitting about the rocks.  They know more than I do about season change or else they wouldn’t be here.  I hope you enjoy a beautiful spring!


Motion along Calgary’s skyline

Coach Hill, a rise in west Calgary, affords a great view of city’s downtown.  I found a place there where vehicles traveling along Sarcee Trail pass in front of the knot of skyscrapers. The play of perspective, especially the relative size of the cars to the buildings, was very interesting to me.


Light trails at dawn along the TransCanada

A couple of weeks ago I went to Springbank, just west of Calgary, and made a few long exposure photographs from the overpass that leads to Calaway Park to the south and the Springbank Airport to the north.  The TransCanada Highway runs west from Calgary, under this bridge and a few more, before heading into the Rocky Mountains.  As night faded, the line of the mountains in their snowy blankets stood out.

 

To the east the sun painted the scattered clouds before it rose above the eastern horizon.  The color from the headlights, tail lights and reflections in the shiny pavement patches balanced the sky in a way I liked.

Shortly before the sun rose, the landscape and clouds to the west were illuminated with soft, even light which helped the light trails to really glow.


Night into day at the Peace Bridge

Calgary’s Peace Bridge has become one of the city’s landmarks and is an important pedestrian connector into the downtown core.  Last weekend I went to Eau Claire a couple of hours before sunrise, walked over to the bridge and then photographed from dark night to bright morning.  The lines of the structure are beautiful and I really enjoyed working with them, as well as the color and lighting, while I was photographing.

The construction crane south of the bridge was working and it played a nice supporting role as an interesting element in a couple of the images as well.


Nightscapes of downtown Calgary

 

A few photographs of downtown Calgary from the north side of the Centre Street Bridge last week during the latest cold snap.

 

On this last photograph, I entered the frame with the help of a timer in order to provide a contrasting element in the foreground.


Flashback Friday – today I’m reminded of winter’s chill

Winter has gripped southern Alberta in a dramatic advance which has brought cold, snow and ice – all in significant measure.  I’m looking forward to shooting the wintry landscape but haven’t carved out time yet.  It has reminded me of this cold night last January when I was out photographing Calgary’s downtown from the Bow Trail Bridge.  It was somewhere below -25ºC then – we aren’t that cold yet!  The traffic leaving and entering downtown, along with the LRT train, traced out colorful lines during this 20 second exposure.

Olympic Plaza contemplations

A morning scene from the edge of the Olympic Plaza in Calgary’s downtown. It’s a small park with a million stories. This was a sunny morning earlier this week where the moment suggested the light and the dark sides of many of these stories.


Incoming

I found a small marsh as the day moved towards evening.  There were a few blackbirds, shovelers and other ducks swimming around the pools between the tall grass.  This mallard circled overhead twice and then surprised me by landing in the middle of the grass.  I expected the water would be preferred but I don’t know enough about these birds to pretend to know anything at all.  I was very happy to be surprised and she looked amazing as she flared her wings to land.


Splashing the clouds with color at dawn

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Before photographing down in the fog a week ago, I stopped along the Trans-Canada Highway on the hill overlooking Springbank to watch the sunrise.

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The eastern sky was starting to brighten quickly and I hoped the clouds would catch the early light.  The fog was quite close to the hilltop when I first arrived but it fell back down before dawn came.  The sunlight did bathe the clouds in amazing colors.  It was spectacular!

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Photographs from a foggy landscape

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Last weekend when fog stretched out across Calgary, I spent the morning photographing along the western edge near Springbank and east of the city around Delacour.  The density of the fog changed constantly which was great fun to play with in the images I made.

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At times the sun would break through the haze.  Some of those moments were incredible just to watch as shafts of sunlight pierced the fog and were then quickly absorbed.

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I returned to a weathered old truck that I’ve shot over the years.  The fog’s isolation allowed for some new images of this charismatic vehicle.

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Much like the train tracks above, I loved how the road disappeared – there is an ethereal quality that is lent to these images by the fog.

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The trees that dot the prairies individually and in small stands drew my eye throughout the morning.  Sometimes the fog hid them and sometimes it isolated them as with the truck above.  Often they were just beautiful scenes to enjoy and shoot before they changed into something new.

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Clearing fog under a rising sun

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On Monday morning fog rolled up from the rivers around Calgary and covered most of the city and surrounding areas.  I was near the Springbank airport at sunrise and the visibility was not much more than a hundred metres.  I photographed the sunrise from a hill above the fog and then returned to the airport.  This photograph was taken about 20 minutes after daybreak as the line of fog was receding towards Calgary.  I was surprised by the speed that it moved and even more so when it returned again a few minutes later.  This ebb and flow reminded me of the tides and was amazing to be in the middle of.  I will share more soon but wanted to start with this first view of the sun when the fog was rolling eastward.


Calgary at night: traffic in motion under the city’s lights

A view of Calgary's downtown at night - © Christopher Martin-0686

Late night light trails as vehicles move along Bow Trail.  The red tail lights streak towards downtown while the lights on the left climb out of the city centre.  Every few minutes the LRT, Calgary’s public transit commuter trains, slid along the tracks dividing the westbound and eastbound lanes of the roadway.

A view of Calgary's downtown at night - © Christopher Martin-0655-2

I walked to the Bow Trail Bridge near midnight in early January.  I often pass under this bridge and believed it would afford a good view of both the city’s skyline and the traffic passing under it.  The bridge itself has great curved lines and I shot it for a few minutes before photographing the cityscape.

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From the bridge deck, the view matched my expectation and it was fun composing for long exposures meshed with the skyline.  I’ll end with a slightly wider view of the scene.  I’m looking forward to a return on a starry night… or maybe during an exceptionally bright Aurora Borealis display.

A view of Calgary's downtown at night - © Christopher Martin-0643