Landscapes

Autumn abstract

On the first day of October, I was in Banff National Park and found great fall colors across the Bow Valley.  I returned to Hillsdale Meadow along the Bow Valley Parkway where I expected the larch would be showing their best golds and yellows. I wasn’t disappointed!  For this image, I used a slow shutter to abstract the landscape similar to how I had done with the same stand of trees in July.  I moved the camera downwards during the 1/40th of a second exposure to exaggerate the vertical lines present in the golden trees and echoed in the evergreens in the mountainside behind.


Upper Kananaskis Lake image featured on National Geographic’s Daily Dozen Website

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.


Autumn Aurora

I walked my dog early this morning and when I looked to the north could see the Northern Lights rippling and snapping above the horizon.  The hound was returned home and replaced by my camera.  I walked down to the Elbow River which runs nearby and spent a couple of hours photographing the Aurora Borealis before it faded out against the approaching dawn.  I’m feeling very lucky to be able to enjoy such a show in my backyard!


Early autumn alpenglow in Kananaskis

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.

 


A grand morning at the Vermilion Lakes

Time spent at the Vermilion Lakes in Banff National Park is always worthwhile.  It had been a while since I had watched day break there so on the weekend I drove up to do that.  I went very early so I was able to make some long exposures at the second lake before the morning arrived.

With sunrise threatening, other people wanting to enjoy the quiet spectacle came down the road to find their spot.  I didn’t mind adding a light streak into the scene!

When the clouds above the Fairholme Range to the east began to glow the day soon rushed in behind.  The lake dazzled again, as usual, reflecting Mount Rundle and framing the energetic sky above as it ran through dawn’s color palette.

A small group of photographers assembled along the shoreline nearby as the sky’s performance heightened.  The tone of the hushed murmurs suggested they were enjoying the moment.  I certainly was.


Smoky Golden Moonrise

My son and I returned from a weekend hiking and camping with good friends in the Monashee Provincial Park in British Columbia on Monday night.  Wildfires have been a clear and present danger across the province for the whole summer and west of Golden we drove between two separate fires that were burning on mountainsides across the valley from each other.  The thick smoke obscured the flames and blocked out much of the sun.

It was powerful to directly observe something we have followed all summer remotely.  We stopped at a pullout briefly and then continued east towards home.  The day retreated and when we were nearing Golden, the moon rose above the forest and mountain ridge lines.

The smoke in the air from the fires, and likely others that were not visible to us, turned the sky a purple colour at dusk that moved quickly into a deep blue.

The nearly full moon shone brightly and had an orange cast to it.  Beauty from these wildfires that I enjoyed but that I would trade for rain there in a heartbeat.


Upper Kananaskis Lake – summer mornings

This summer I feel like I have rediscovered the Kananaskis Lakes located in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  In particular, I have spent a lot of time at the upper lake.  The peaks that ring the lake have appealed to me recently in a new way and I have been drawn to visit at different times of the day to photograph them.

The jagged profiles, mirrored reflections and rocky shoreline are all elements I love to work with and the Upper Kananaskis Lake knits these together in a beautiful way.  These are a few of the photographs I like from these visits.

And here are some evening shots from an earlier post this summer as well.  It’s a beautiful place to spend time.

 


Wedge Pond – mist, reflection and alpenglow

Wedge Pond is a favourite location of mine in Kananaskis Country.  She sits below the massive chunk of rock that is Mount Kidd and in calm moments mirrors the entire mountain on her surface.  Several more peaks along the Kananaskis River Valley are prominent from the shoreline as well.  Collectively they provide a lot of visually appealing elements to work with when photographing around this little lake.  I usually head there in late September when the aspen trees around the pond turn a brilliant yellow (previous posts with those images).  A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a friendly Australian photographer who will be coming this way next month and was looking for some local information about Kananaskis and Wedge Pond in particular.  That got me thinking about Wedge a little earlier than usual and I headed up in the wee hours on August 11th..

The mist was swirling early.  Cold, humid air and a gentle breeze combined to push the mist across the water.  On this day, the sky was clear and the alpenglow was visible above the mountains early and then slid down the surrounding peaks.  The morning exceeded all expectations I may have had and I was blessed with an amazing start to the day.  The red that first painted the peaks was soon washed over with golden sunlight and I headed up for a hike at Chester Lake.


Two mornings on Moraine Lake


Last weekend I spent two mornings waiting for, and then watching the sunrise, on Moraine Lake.  The two days were definitely not alike.  On Saturday morning, the clouds hung low obscuring the tips along the Valley of the Ten Peaks.  The color palette was decidedly cool.  It was reminiscent of the night before after the sun had set at Upper Kananaskis Lake.

The next day welcomed clear skies in all directions.  I would have welcomed a few clouds above the mountains to catch the alpenglow but the peaks down the valley soon did.  And that was beautiful to enjoy.  It had been a couple of years since the valley had shared this particular scene with me.

 

Watching the peaks glow red is stunning and I love watching that light spread down mountainsides, racing against the golden sunshine’s imminent arrival.  The transition is very fast with the alpenglow lasting 4-5 minutes before the sunshine blends in and the red disappears from the rock faces.


Upper Kananaskis Lake – sunset and thereafter

On my way up to the mountains this weekend, the sun continued its struggle with the smoke from the wildfires.  In the early evening I made my way along Highway 40 and stopped several times to watch the clouds and sun in this unusual scene.

I ended up on the shore of the Upper Kananaskis Lake about an hour before sunset.  It was a warm night which I was grateful for – even in summer the wind can blow hard and cold across the lake at anytime. Over the next couple of hours a loon, a few people fishing and one large, extended family came and went.  I moved down the shoreline slowly, taking photographs of the sun’s descent towards the jagged silhouette of the mountains the curve around the lake.

The smoke acts like a neutral density filter and drops the intensity of the sun’s light considerably.  That allowed me to spend a lot of time exploring how the atmosphere, the sunlight and the landscape could be composed.  All three changed in appearance and shape as the sun descended.

When the sun drew close to the mountains, the colors deepened and the silhouettes of the mountains were fantastic against the sky.

The fiery hues disappeared quickly once the sun fell behind the mountains.  That left cooler tones to quietly take hold.  At that point, I was alone on the shore and the tranquility held me there for a long while.

 

 


Smoky sunset on the prairie

 

The sun has taken on a strange appearance each of the last few evenings.  The smoke from the wildfires to the west was thick in the foothills west of Calgary last Thursday when I stopped along Highway 8.  The pink globe in the sky drew my attention and, once stopped, I enjoyed watching the small clouds drifting past.  This one looked like a dancing bull, or maybe a bison in full stride, as it charged across the sun.


A forest for all of its trees

There is a beautiful stand of aspen trees on the eastern edge of the Hillsdale Meadows which I have photographed for years throughout the seasons.  Last weekend I stopped for another visit with them.  This time around I was drawn to the contrast of the slender, white trunks and the dark spaces between them.

I worked a few different ideas before I found what an approach that allowed me to illustrate that contrast.  Using longer shutter speeds (1/8th of a second – 1/4th of a second) and moving the camera vertically during the exposure, the blurs created illustrated the contrast in a way I really like.