Last Tuesday, April 17th, Venus shone brightly as dusk fell. It joined a beautiful crescent moon in the northwestern sky. Stars began to pop out while the night took hold. I had been out walking my hound and thought the silhouettes of the line of trees above the Elbow River near my home would help frame the conjunction nicely. When I got back to the house, I quickly gathered my gear and went out to the river – I’m glad I did.
As the moon dropped, I kept moving west, upriver, the descending tree line allowing me to keep the Moon in sight. Some gauzy clouds came in low and afforded some interesting, hazy halos around the Moon.
Eventually the Moon slipped behind the trees and quickly disappeared leaving Venus glowing in a sky filling up with stars.
Before I packed up, I took one last long exposure facing west where the river winds past Bragg Creek and on to the front range of the mountains in Kananaskis Country.
Last weekend there was a break in the storms where blue sky appeared for an hour or two in the afternoon. It was cold but the sunshine was inviting so I strapped on snowshoes and headed outside. The Elbow River is still largely frozen over so a walk along the plain at the north end of Redwood Meadows seemed a good call. The clouds left with snow trailing just behind their departure.
I ended up playing around more than covering any real distance. The slope from the berm to the river was a fun distraction as I jumped down into the snow and clambered up again a few times.
I ended with a short trek onto the plain and then back along the forest. A few photographs of some wintering berries close to the berm coincided with the clouds closing in again. The snow began to fly and I made my way home.
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.
I was very excited to get out to photograph the most recent lunar eclipse. I kept an eye on the weather forecasts and knew clouds were moving over southern Alberta that night. I hoped for a break in the clouds but when I woke up early that morning the sky was low and heavy with no stars, or moon, to be seen. So, I packed up and headed west to see if I could get the western edge of the cloud front. My first glimpse was between Canmore and Banff when I came around a corner and the moon was hanging in the sky. That was not a safe place to stop and the moon alone in the blackness was not the image I had in mind so I kept going to Banff. Thought I still did take that shot a little while later!
Clouds returned by the time I was in the townsite so I headed up towards the hot springs to see if I could find a good vantage point. That didn’t pan out but when I came back down, the moon re-appeared. Now it was falling quickly towards the western flank of Cascade Mountain. Her and I then played a game of hide and seek as the clouds continued to drift in front of the red globe.
I framed the moon using trees and the mountain’s ridge line when the opportunities came. Within a few minutes it disappeared. I didn’t realize the image I was looking for but had a great time watching the spectacle. I have been able to photograph several lunar eclipses and always deeply enjoy the otherworldly beauty as the moon slips into and eventually out of the sun’s shadow.
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 has been a couple of years since I went to Cabo San Lucas. Thinking about an image for Flashback Friday, one from a spectacular sunrise there came to mind. The fiery sky had me thinking about where to set up for a landscape shot when I saw a brief of brown pelicans flying low over the water. I switched to my camera with a telephoto lens attached and watched as they rose off the water. This let their silhouettes contrast sharply from the background. That got me excited and I squeezed off a couple of photos before they dropped down again and continued southwards.
If you are interested in seeing a few more images like this one, here is another photo from the same flight which I posted that morning in December 2014. And, another post where one pelican flew very close to me a couple of days later and I isolated the lone bird against the sky and the rising sun.
A few minutes later, I returned to landscape hunting and was not disappointed in any way with what nature laid out before me.
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 wish you and yours a great 2018. I hope the snakes are short and the ladders are long.
I created this image after the fireworks display in my small community (which was great!). The full moon made the whole winter landscape gleam. The lights from the skating rink to the right created interesting shadow layers in a covered trail across the sports field. An abstract start to the new year.
For me, I’m eager for a new year and all of the experiences that will hold. Looking back over 2017, I hope to crisply remember the many wonderful memories from the past year, and let those that were not soften.
We are two hours away from 2018 here in Alberta. I hope you are enjoying a great last night of 2017. Our Redwood Meadows community had a great fireworks display to closeout the year. This image was shot at the start of the show tonight.
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.
Snow fell hard last night across southern Alberta and we had several inches blanketing the landscape by morning. Here, my hound and I went out for a walk late.