Nature

Image

A red fox backlit in Bragg Creek


Forest panoramas in a storm

(Please click on any image to open a separate window to see these panoramas in a larger version)

I have been enjoying creating panoramas by merging a number of shots into one wide image.  The workshop that I went to on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington recently brought that approach back in to my plans.  It’s been a while since I shot them with any regularity.  The rainforests there are well into spring and were amazing to photograph for panoramic concepts.  Forests have incredible depth, details and patterns and that was a focus while I was in the Pacific Northwest.

When I returned home, a cold weather pattern was knocking around Alberta.  When a snowstorm blew in, I headed out to photograph the forest and see if any pano opportunities jumped out.  The storm grew into a blizzard.  It was cool to have the increasing density of snow as a variable to the images.  We’ve had a few really good days in the week afterwards.  Before the next one comes in this weekend.

 

 


Happy Mother’s Day

2013 © Christopher Martin

I had a great day with the mothers in my life.  I hope you have enjoyed the same, great memories or are the recipient of a lot of heartfelt thank you.  You have the privilege to have such influence over your (and personally, on my) children.  It is lucky for them it is so very well placed. Happy Mother’s Day.

2013 © Christopher Martin


Seattle perspective

A sketch of downtown while I rode the Wenatchee ferry across Elliott Bay.


A moose on the loose…

This moose was grazing in a marsh west of Bragg Creek when I drove by.  She stared at me for a minute, trotted through brambles a bit and then stared back to me again.

April 24th update: Thank you to The Mysterious Blogger for suggesting the title of this post – now updated.  And, to P.grover for improving my/our understanding of moose and threats to their health.


Eagles in the Columbia Valley

At the end of March, I had some time in Radium with my family.  I spent the mornings meandering along the Columbia River as well as some of the valley’s ponds and puddles.  This area of British Columbia seemed a couple of weeks further into spring than my home in Bragg Creek in Alberta.  Green was starting to show on the trees and in the grassland.  And on one lake, ice was still covering most of its surface.

The open water offered fish and the ice had some kind of insect, slug or some such on it.  Ravens and bald eagles were drawn in by both.  Over a couple of days I had some great opportunities to watch both and their occasional interactions.

 

 


American robin in a watercolor

 

Spring has returned the robins the fields and forests around Bragg Creek.  I found this one stirring up the leaves below these trees. She darted between the trunks and then flew up into the branches.  The diffused background from a narrow depth of field reminded me of a watercolor painting.  The monochromatic palette in the bark and dull yellow grass both warmed a little with the morning sun.  Her orange belly was a welcome splash of bright color.


The final hunt after an evening with a great gray

Watching from the branches, the owl dove after the sunlight had slipped away.  It had already been a great day of owls (long-eared, short-eared, snowy and great grays).  There was enough light for one more encounter.

 

The bird missed on the first plunge into the snow.  Then heard or saw something and shot upwards.   He flew away from me and quickly dove back to the ground.

With the second strike successful, he swallowed the prey and then returned to the trees.

Flying to a new perch after several minutes.  From there it alternated between watching the field across the road and the fence line directly below.

The light faded quickly and my fingers were happy when I returned to the vehicle.


Continuing on with an evening owl

Flying on from the beam, this great gray owl continued moving from one perch to the next.  Eventually it flew over my head and landed on the top of a tree still in the sunshine.

A couple of minutes, the portrait below and then it flew to a higher point overlooking another field.  That seemed a good point to leave her to her own purposes.

Almost immediately afterwards, we saw a second owl.  This one gliding between branches.  These trees were still in the sunlight and its warm tone wrapped around the bird as it flew.

The sun fell quickly.  The light and shadow drawing lines and space across the forest’s west-facing edge.  The owl weaved between those and the tree branches a couple of times before the daylight slipped away.  His eyes catching the light at some angles and hiding in the shadow at others.

 

There was a third owl that made a couple of sorties into a nearby field.  That was too far away to photograph.  And I was happy to stay with the owl in front of me.  That led soon to a pair of dives into the snow.


Spring equinox and the supermoon

I was happy to miss the moonrise on March 19th.  My daughter was performing one of her dance routines – where she sings too so I was in no rush to leave that.  Quick shout out to the Moto Café in Bragg Creek – thanks for hosting the recital – wonderful coffee, scones and atmosphere!

When the performers had all finished, I headed east towards the prairie and found the full moon still fairly low with the alpen glow hanging in the sky above it.  I knew this stand of trees and thought it’s silhouette, along with the color in the sky, would frame the golden supermoon well.  It felt like a great start to spring!


A crow’s silhouette

 

Raven's silhouette - © Christopher Martin-8363-2

Crows, like ravens, are known as clever birds but I think their beauty is under appreciated.  The iridescent purples and blues that can shimmer out of their black feathers are wonderful.  A couple of weeks ago, I watched a few crows flush off a fence near Cochrane.  I tracked this one and got lucky with this shot.  I loved the shape of the silhouette and how a tiny bit of that iridescence can be seen on one wing.


A snowy glance

Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9302

There is something magical when you lock eyes, however briefly, with a wild animal in their environment.  Last weekend this snowy owl favored me with a long glance as it flew over the prairies.  Here is the little story behind this image.

Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9139

I was driving the country roads east of Calgary and spied this owl on the top of a small hill a fair distance from the road.  The image above was taken with a big telephoto (500mm) so the bird was likely a kilometer away.  Distance can be a bit tricky on the prairie so I may be a bit off but it was too far away for any of the shots that I was looking for.  I left the car and slowly trudged up said hill on a parallel line from the owl.  I don’t like to spook animals so slowness is key when approaching and lot’s of stops to watch closely for signs of pressure in the bird.  After 45 minutes I was about 60 meters away, the owl continued to scan the fields from the high ground and I settled into the snow.

Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9189

The sun shone, the owl dozed a bit between scans and I had an internal dialogue about the sanity of sitting on a bare hilltop on a cold day.  It had warmed up compared to earlier in the morning when I photographed a prairie falcon a few kilometers away but a steady breeze kept things chilly.  None of that really mattered though, I was happy to be sharing time with the owl.

Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9280

Another 15 minutes passed and then so did a couple of ravens.  As they flew overhead the owl tracked them closely.  That seemed to stir her energy up and shortly after they passed she ruffled up her feathers, stamped a little bit and then took flight.

Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9297

She flew eastward into the sun which lit her beautifully.

Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9300-4Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9303.jpgFavoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9301-3.jpg

After a couple of wingbeats she looked my way and then stared at me for a couple more.  Was it curiosity, an acknowledgement of the encounter, her saying goodbye?  Probably not any of those but it was powerful, and as I said before, magical.

Favoured by a snowy glance - © Christopher Martin-9305-2