I spent a lot of time on the prairies in December. These days started early in the morning so I was able to enjoy watching night give way to day. And several hours later, watch the principles switch as the short daylight hours ran out.
The headlights of a car driving on Highway 66 draw a line of light under the pre-dawn sky during a long exposure in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
I spent a morning up at Elbow Falls in Kananaskis Country a few days ago. The sky was dark when I showed up there but I could make out the clouds as they ran eastward. Dawn came quickly as it often does at this time of the year and I was pleased that a loose knot of these clouds had not yet disappeared behind the silhouetted tree line. They caught the early light and spun it into reds, purples and oranges for a couple of minutes before the sunlight turned to gold and they continued the journey towards the prairies.
Moraine Lake is a beautiful location in the Banff National Park to visit. To photograph it often proves to be tricky and that keeps me returning. The winds run haphazardly through, over and below the Valley of the Ten Peaks stirring the water, pushing the clouds low then high and generally making unpredictability the only thing predictable. I love it but it continues to demand flexibility every time I go up. There are a number of images that I have visualized, or maybe just dreamt about, but have yet to realize. On my last visit with good friend and fellow photographer, Jeff Rhude, the sky looked promising as we drove up from Lake Louise. Clouds were stacked along the peaks and the sky to the east was clear. As we climbed the rock pile which gives the lake her name, the wind came up, pushing the cloud off the cliffs. These slid eastward seemingly on a mission to block the early light of dawn. I stopped for a moment with my back to the lake to photograph these broken clouds as the pink sunlight brushed through them.
We scrambled into a spot with a view down the valley which seemed to still be sleeping. The wind was soft and the lake was calm, allowing for a beautiful reflection of the peaks and the sky above.
Around the valley the autumn colors were still hanging on while winter looked to be settling onto the mountains above the lake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I love when I can get out early in the morning. When it is pitch black as I get to my destination, I get excited as I wait for the first hint of light on the eastern horizon. As the sky slowly brightens, there is a magical time ahead of any color in the sky where blues of almost every hue color the world. I enjoyed one of these mornings on the shore of the Vermilion Lakes in the Banff National Park a couple of weeks ago.
Early morning is my favourite time to be out on the prairies at any time of the year. There is a tranquility born out of the silence that hangs over the land before dawn whose beauty draws me in. I love the big sky and where it meets the horizon as the sun approaches there is an evolving magic which shows different faces as the night retreats and slips away.
This morning southeast of High River in early January this year was beautiful. The silhouette of the trees and the grain silos provided great anchors in these photographs of the eastern glow and the blazing cloud that suggested a dragon’s nature to me.
I had fun pulling together this list of my landscape images that stood out to me. Last year I spent time in some beautiful places near and far which certainly helps towards making pretty pictures. Within those moments, I really enjoyed composing the images to try to create something more compelling than just pretty pictures – although I like those too!
I felt like I put more effort into my wildlife photography last year but am happy with the progression with my landscape images. The sky makes up so much of what makes or breaks a landscape image for me and I see my exploration of that continuing in 2016. If you are interested in seeing these of images, please click on any image or this link to open the image gallery. Thank you for visiting now and throughout the year.
I spent a morning photographing the sun rising over the prairies west of Calgary on the weekend. In the image above, the alpen glow to the west heralds the sun’s coming approach. When the sun came up, the pink quickly washed out of the sky and painted the eastern flanks of the Rocky Mountains and then these stands of trees that break up this field along Highway 8. I love watching these transitions as colors deepen, fade and change altogether.
Facing a low sun, shadows stretched out long across the snow. I played with those for a bit under the increasingly blue sky before heading home.
It was -26°C as I stood with my tripod watching the sun climb off the horizon to start the day. Hoar frost enveloped these branches creating a beautifully tangled, chaotic pattern. The sunlight streamed in, reflecting off of the ice and snow.