Landscapes

Rainbows over Medicine Lake at sunset

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A double rainbow arched over Medicine Lake just before sunset in Jasper National Park.  Light rain fell on Kian and I as we watched these rainbows develop on the edge of a storm that had rolled up the Maligne Valley.  The sun was near setting so the sunlight was pure gold and the colors across the landscape were incredible.

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A step towards winter: morning at Moraine Lake

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I spent the morning at Moraine Lake today.  A cold front swept in last night and when I caught my first glimpse of the valley when I drove up, the snow line was visible amid the layers of forest, rock and cloud.

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At the lake, daybreak started cold with a steady drizzle of rain.  The blue water’s hue varied as the amount of light let through by the clouds changed.  I enjoyed the morning with the whole valley changing steadily.

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Jasper National Park: Sunset near Excelsior Creek

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On the Labour Day weekend, my son and I camped in Jasper.  I hadn’t been there in over a year and I was shocked to see a vast swath of burnt hillsides in Medicine Lake area of the Malign Valley.  Somehow I completely missed the Excelsior Wildfire that burned over a 1000 hectares between July 9th and 22nd, 2015.  We were looking for wildlife and enjoying the chaotic weather when the sun broke through to paint select trees amid the skeleton forest left behind as a stark reminder of the wildfire.


The Banff National Park through my son’s eyes

Banff in the Bow Valley - © Kian Martin-3389

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.

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3499

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.

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3445

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).

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3485

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3486

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on Sanson's Peak - © Kian Martin-3497

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.

Minnewanka's emerald waters - © Kian Martin 2016 -3503

The east end of Lake Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3555

Photographing Lake Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3558

Photographing Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3560

Photographing the mountains from Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3577

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.

Kian in the photobooth - © Christopher Martin-3518

Piloting Minnewanka - © Christopher Martin-3569

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.

Johnson Lake Black bear - © Kian Martin-3598

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).

Sunset from the Sibbald Creek Trail - © Kian Martin-3641

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.

 


Fernsehturm de Berlín in der Nacht

Fernsehturm de Berlín in der Nacht - © Christopher Martin-9495

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.

Fernsehturm de Berlín in der Nacht - © Christopher Martin-9510

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.

Berlín in der Nacht - © Christopher Martin-9375

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.

Alexanderplatz after the party in Berlin - © Christopher Martin-9634

 

 


Dawn at the mouth of the Bow Valley

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2676

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.

A stormy dawn in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2561

 

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.

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2679-2

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2538

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.

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2610

Sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2636

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.

Sun and rain on the Stoney Nakoda Nation - © Christopher Martin-2778

 

 

 


Nightlines and the Brandenburg Tor

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-9018

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.

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-9020

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.

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-9028

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.

Nightlines at the Brandenburg Tor - © Christopher Martin-8993

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.


More from the Canada Day lightning storm

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-390

When my children and I decided to head out from Redwood Meadows to find a good vantage point to watch the lightning storm hanging over the Bow River between Cochrane and Calgary, we stopped when we got past the edge of the forest and could first see the storm itself.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-184

We found a spot 10 miles from the closest edge of the storm and watched the show which rippled and flashed in the massive clouds rising off the northern horizon.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-201

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-292

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-570-2

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-301

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-431

At one point while we were watching the lightning erupting at 3, 4 or 5 different places at once, my son said, “Baby Thor is having a temper tantrum”.  That seemed about right and apparently he has an enormous amount of energy because the lightning flashed and the bolts flew constantly for the two hours that I was there.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-357

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-506

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-405

I re-worked the image that I first posted from the storm – cooling the white balance by almost 1000°K.  I really love how the lightning bolts crackle out of the cloud column.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-388

On the way back, I stopped by a pond where the western edge of the storm, still busy with sheet lightning, was reflected in its surface.  A beautiful final view of the storm before heading home.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-593

 


Shapes and shadows in Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-9020

The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States.  The rings of color which the rock, microbes and water create are amazing and I had hoped to be able to photograph them when I visited in late May.  The weather had other plans and the cold, wet air created a heavy mist over the scalding hot water.  The wind blew in on gusts from the south creating waves of cloud.

Roads of microbes wind towards the blue pool of the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park in May 2016.

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8805

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8853

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8793

Occasionally, the elements would conspire and rifts would open in the sheets of white lifting off of the spring’s surface.  I walked around the boardwalk twice, enthralled by the isolation created amid the fluid transitions blowing by.

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8784

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8815

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8908

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8903

Grand Prismatic Spring - people in the mist - © Christopher Martin-8957


Images of the Aurora over the Elbow River

Albertan Aurora over the Elbow River - © Christopher Martin-5945-2

When the Northern Lights brightly lit up the sky on May 8th, I went out to a favourite spot along the Elbow River on the edge of Redwood Meadows.  The river there is dotted with sets of rocks near the shore which provide interesting elements and break up the reflection in an attractive way.  The landscape is beautiful and supported the main show in the sky above well.  The Aurora streamed across the sky from the northern horizon to well past the zenith.  The image below was taken with the camera pointing almost straight up.

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5930

 

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5979

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-6030

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5938


Mother’s Day Aurora

Mother's Day Aurora Borealis - © Christopher Martin-5949

There was an intense auroral storm that started late on May 7th and rang in Mother’s Day with vibrant ripples and sheets until just before dawn.  This session of the Aurora Borealis was the most vibrant I’ve watched over the past five years.  For three hours I watched the sky being canvassed with impossibly bright streams of spray paint. I enjoyed watching them on the northern edge of my community along the banks of the Elbow River.  I thought it was a great start to Mother’s Day and certainly worth losing most of a good night’s sleep to watch the sky.


Prairie sunrise silhouettes

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7733

Sunday’s sunrise shone through a narrow break on the horizon.  A storm coming out of the mountains darkened most of the sky but with the light rode in from the east and painted the leading edges of the clouds.  I was east of Bragg Creek along Highway 8 as the colour started to build so I pulled in behind a stand of trees that have great lines.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7688

The branches silhouetted against the dawn gave me a lot to work with and here are three takes over a fifteen minute window before the colour drained out and the clouds stretched fully across the sky.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7701