A touch of winter froze blades of a partially submerged mound of grass and laid down several sheets of snow on the peaks ringing the lake before autumn returned. Photographed in Kananaskis Country’s Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada on October 7th.
A 25 second exposure and a fast lens (in this case, a Canon 24mm f/1.4 set at f/1.8) revealed wisps of clouds stretching east across the Kananaskis River valley a little after 4 in the morning on October 7th. The soft green glow betrayed the Aurora Borealis pulsing low over the northern horizon.
Red light from my headlamp illuminated Highway 40 in this 10 second exposure that centered on the hazy Northern Lights.
Ahead of the winter storm which hit late Monday, I went to Kananaskis to enjoy autumn in the mountains. The clouds were leaden, already suggesting snow when I watched them wrap around Mount Kidd in the fading darkness.
I waited for dawn on the low ridge above Wedge Pond. The little lake looked beautiful but the brightening sky was much less so. The clouds did diffuse the light which supported taking a few landscapes of the larch that ring one side.
I wanted to get a hike in so I packed up and headed off to the trailhead for the Galatea Lakes. I grabbed my tripod, threw on my backpack and headed up.
The trail followed Galatea Creek as it wound up the valley towards the lakes. I photographed steadily as I wandered along. It came as no surprise that I hadn’t covered more than a couple of miles before I needed to return home. It was nice to get lost really seeing and enjoying the forest, the splashing water and the mountains for a couple of hours.
A common loon swims in front of a low, rocky island on a calm, smoky morning on Upper Kananaskis Lake. Haze from the wildfires to the west was thick in the mountains and often hid the mountains that ring the lake.
On a morning drive to the Upper Kananaskis Lake, I found a grizzly with her cub foraging beside the road. A Kananaskis conservation officer was watching them from his truck across the road which made me feel better with respect to the risk of a vehicle colliding with them. I did not want to bother them so I stopped for only a few seconds to watch as the little one munched away – her head didn’t come up as she seemed intent on her breakfast – so I continued on.
About twenty minutes later, I was heading on to the Highwood Pass for some hiking and passed by them again. This time the cub favored me with a quick glance when I stopped before she returned to the grass and wildflowers.
In December while my son was in snowboarding lessons at Nakiska, I drove further into Kananaskis Country. At Spillway Lake, along the Smith-Dorrien Trail, I found the sun laying low above the silhouettes of the forest and the mountain ridge lines.
It was fun to look back over the past year’s photographs recently and recall the story behind them. I’ve created a gallery of my favorite images you can check out here (or click on any image to open that page in a new window). I moved in new directions with my landscape work which, through trial and error, yielded some work I really like.
I practiced a technique where I change the focal length (zoom) the lens during a long exposure which creates a variety of effects that I have had great fun exploring.
I walked into some of my images, to provide scale in some and interest in others, which I want to continue to explore and build on. I also hope my children will join me for some of those in the coming year – if I can wake them up early enough!
I had a lot of fun scrambling around valleys and peaks in Banff and Kananaskis. I wanted to hike more in the warmer months and was happy with the images I made from those outings to new locations. I photographed through many nights along the lakes there and enjoyed seeing these amazing places under the stars. I have always loved the mountains and that love continues to deepen.
A trip to the Palouse in Washington in May was a definite highlight. The agricultural geometry laid over the rolling hills is beautiful. Exploring the area and searching for interesting compositions filled a long weekend and a couple of memory cards.
Excursions on the Prairies, searching for snowy owls in winter and a long list of other birds in the other seasons, were regular for me in 2017. These are often solitary travels for me and I find the landscape imagery often reflects that. Lone subjects, standing as islands on endless fields, stand defiant under the massive skies in one image and vulnerable in the next. I have much more that I want to create out there in this new year.
There were many pieces of last year that bring a smile when reflecting back. And a few that well some tears up. They combined to make for a good year. For me, this gallery reflects that. Thank you for following the visual journey I share here.
I hope you are enjoying time doing what you love with those you enjoy spending time with. I have been able to do both with family and friends this holiday. For Boxing Day I created some time alone and went up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis. It is a beautiful location, particularly when blanketed in ice and snow. The afternoon held broken clouds but the skies cleared as sunset faded. The half-moon emerged from the veil and shone incredibly bright in the night sky. The moonlight washed over the rapids above the waterfall while stars began to take their place above. I deeply enjoyed being in this scene.
This black-capped chickadee chirped and sang from the woods beside a small peninsula on Upper Kananaskis Lake. I sat down and waited for a little while to see if it would come into view. They are curious little birds and it didn’t take long for this one to perch among the golden leaves nearby. With a quick check done, it soon flitted off and I continued on towards the windswept side of the lake across the peninsula.
This was easily one of the sweetest moments I’ve seen when this bull moose nuzzled with his calf.
The bull is likely mating with the cow again this year which brings him into the same area as the calf. I didn’t expect them to have a bond but when this tender moment happened on the weekend, I was obviously wrong.
This calf was born in 2016 and still stays close to his mother. The three moose have been hanging around each other again during this year’s rut. I don’t know how long they will stay together as a little family before the bull returns to the solitary life.
When I started watching them, the calf was laying down while the parents grazed separately nearby. Over the next hour they all moved slowly around the small meadow and the edge of the forest. It was a relaxed atmosphere which I think is reflected in the photographs.
Eventually the big fellow laid down and was soon napping. The cow and calf continued grazing. And I headed home.
This image of a summer sunrise at Upper Kananaskis Lake in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park has been selected as one of National Geographic’s Daily Dozen for October 5th.
The yellow border is a siren call for many photographers – and certainly is for me. I have had several images published on National Geographic’s websites but the novelty never wears off so it’s a great start to the day!
There is voting on each day’s twelve images that are selected by one of the National Geographic editors. The image which receives the highest number of votes has the potential to be published in the National Geographic magazine. If you do check out the today’s Daily Dozen, have a look at the images and vote for the one that you like best. I really love Nguyen Tat Thang’s photograph of mist and fog over the city of Dalat in Vietnam.
I’ve been lucky to enjoy a number of great mornings (here, here and here) in the mountains as summer has wound down. Last weekend I went to Kananaskis to see how the autumn colors were coming in at the higher elevations. I went to Wedge Pond ahead of the sunrise and waited for the darkness to lift. Soon enough it did, and quickly, revealing the larch along the shoreline were starting to turn but there were more lime greens than yellows and golds. I’ll be back again in a week or two to try to catch the stands of gold before the needles fall and the leaves blow away.
I was not disappointed in any way though. The mist swirled across the calm water, drawing a line through the middle of the mountains and their reflections as the early morning blue gave way to the alpenglow.