When we were in Osoyoos in August, we stayed at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort. It is a great place to stay and its location above the lake and across from the city gave us a beautiful view of both as well as the hills to the west.
On our last evening, I watched the sunset from one of the rooftop patios and enjoyed the light and its changes on the land and in the sky. As the sun sped away, there were interesting scenes that kept my interest sharp through into night.
(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)
The heavy rain last night created thick mist this morning. I went out looking to work with the ethereal and had a great time working around a gravel backroad in Bragg Creek and a trail on the edge of Kananaskis. The weather has been fantastic during the day with storms at night for the past week or so. I’m happy for this pattern to continue.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600
A Bald Eagle spent a couple of mornings in and around a field east of Bragg Creek where the prairie starts.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600
He landed in the grass in one general spot a few times on the two days that I stopped to watch so I suspect there was a carcass that was an easy meal.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/25ooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800
The only distraction came from a pair of ravens that pestered the eagle in the air and on the field. They proved to not be a significant deterrent as the eagle muscled them out away.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens at 17mm: 2 seconds at f/22 on ISO 200
I have spent a fair bit of time hiking and travelling around Kananaskis Country. That said, I have only seen a small amount of its beautiful landscape. It is always wonderful to find a new place. On the weekend, I was revisiting a few favourite spots that I had not been able to see since the flood. Along the drive between two such spots, up Highway 66, the morning mists and fog were slowly rising up in the warming air in a small meadow I have passed by many times but never explored. I stopped this time for a few minutes to photograph the light and shadows playing with one another. There was a roar of water nearby but it was hidden deeper into the forest and I had another spot on my mind so I headed on.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens at 81mm: 1/400th of a second at f/11 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens at 135mm: 1/200th of a second at f/11 on ISO 400
On my return past the same place an hour later, I pulled off and set out for a little exploration. I found a trail that led down from the meadow and into the woods. Following that for a few minutes, I walked up to the top of this small waterfall. It was the source of the roaring heard earlier. The water drops only a few metres but it falls into a narrow bowl of rock which intensifies the sound significantly.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens at 17mm: 6 seconds at f/22 on ISO 50
A bit of mountain goating saw me step and then jump down into the bowl. Water vapour was heavy in the air which played a little havoc with the front of my lens but it was nothing a couple of cloths couldn’t handle over the time I was down there. I stayed for more than an hour – at one point just sitting down and enjoying this wonderful little place.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens at 23mm: 5 seconds at f/22 on ISO 50
The stream is only a metre wide above and below the falls. At the base, the pool opens up to a few metres across. There were some signs of recent high water activity but it seems the flow was not enough to damage the trees and bushes that overhang the channel.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens at 19mm: 2 seconds at f/16 on ISO 50
I believe this stream falls into the Elbow River but I’m not sure if it, or this waterfall, have their own names. I have to find out from a few of the locals who know Kananaskis Country in a way I hope to some day far down my path.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens at 39mm: 5 seconds at f/22 on ISO 200
So, for me at least, this waterfall remains unnamed. In truth, I like it that way for now. I really enjoyed that narrow wedge of rock and water below the forest and will be returning there soon.
(please click on the image for a higher resolution version)
I noticed one of the first hints of summer fading when I was out in West Bragg Creek this morning. The night air has cooled noticeably over the past week and today the dew had coated the leaves, flowers and grasses across the countryside. This spider web did not escape and I moved around so that the sun was lighting it up from behind. The backlighting on the threads made it glow. It looked like an elaborate, if somewhat haphazardly designed, piece from a weaver’s loom. Summer should run on for another month and a half or so but this is one of those early signs that fall is somewhere over the horizon, not so very away.
After I finished up on the dusk landscapes along the shore of Buffalo Lake, I rejoined my friends and took a few quick photos as the handful of fireworks we had were lit and shot off.
A good time with some good guys. I’m looking forward to the wedding next weekend.
I was down at the rodeo with my kids and my parents for a couple of hours yesterday. Here are a few from the events that I pulled off between runs to the fair ground and the snack tent. After a rainout the night before, Saturday was beautiful. A great small town rodeo – definitely part of what summer in Alberta is.
My uncle had a picnic on Saturday afternoon in the Crowsnest Pass southwest of Calgary by about 2 1/2 hours. We drove down with the kids enjoying the ride. After playing hard with their cousins for the afternoon, both Kian and Kezia fell asleep before we got started on the drive back home at 6pm. Left with a quiet vehicle and a beautiful summer evening, Bobbi and I had a great drive home. The highlight came in the Turner Valley near Chain Lakes Provincial Park where there was a hawk circling above or perched on a fence post every mile or two. We identified Red-tailed, Rough-legged and Swainson’s hawks before spying this Bald Eagle.
We pulled over and then both spent the next half an hour photographing this bird. It was not intimidated by us and while Bobbi stayed by the van, I slowly walked closer until my 300mm lens was too big – less than 25′ from its perch.
As the sun dropped behind some clouds, the eagle leapt up and spun away down towards the lakes. A fitting end to a wonderful encounter.
In June, we drove to Invermere, BC for a long weekend. My drove through the Kootenay National Park on our way to Radium and the Columbia River Valley. The dandelions were in full bloom in the meadows and the ditches along Highway 93 leading into Radium so I had high hopes of seeing some bears on the way. With the bright overcast making the wet grass and flowers shine, I knew the light would be a bit of a challenge but when we found this Black bear (Ursus americanus) mother and very young cub all worries about available light, blown out grass and shiny wet fur flew far out of mind. Bobbi and both kids were there so it was special to watch them together.
Click on the images to see larger, and sharper, versions of each image on its own page.
Everyone around stayed in their cars and the bears carried on with minimal concern. After half an hour, the cub sauntered back behind the trees. Mom stayed close to the forest’s edge but grazed for a few more minutes before joining her baby.
I roamed the back roads west of Calgary for a couple of hours last night as a storm blew across the prairies giving way to a pretty sunset. I really enjoy the opportunities to wander without a specific image in mind, working with what I discover along the way. My wife and children are still vacationing in Nelson so it’s nice to spend the evenings with a camera in hand and stave off the loneliness of the empty house. It will be great when they return home tomorrow.
As the days slipped away, I had a nice chat with Alan, the farmer whose field this tractor stands in. A fellow photographer, Alan and I found a common interest to build on after introductions. The tractor is a White 2-85 but I don’t know too much more about it beyond it running with a 6 cylinder Perkins diesel engine and the line being manufactured between 1975 and 1982 (I have no idea what year this vehicle is). Not the best looking tractor (as tractors go!) but the plain color scheme allows the color in the sky to catch the eye.
This massive cloud settled over Calgary about an hour after this photograph. I was chasing the sunset then but could see a great lightning show flashing just after sunset.
I thought this Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis calurus) had a great perch atop the exhaust stack of this old International Harvester 706 tractor. The 706 is a really classic looking tractor, they were made between 1963 adn 1967 so it is great to see this one still on active duty.
Just before the long weekend, I had an evening free to tour the back roads around Bragg Creek. As the shadows grew longer and the heat of the day softened a little, I hoped to see some wildlife come out of the trees. A few miles off the main road, I saw a Great Grey Owl perched on a fence post right on the forest’s edge. It was pretty calm and just stared at me when I stopped my car and walked back towards it.
It flew a couple posts ahead of me and I expected it to not let me get too close. Then it flew just in front of me, crossing the road, and landing on a post on the other side of the road right in front of me. I was using a long lens which meant I couldn’t fit the bird in the frame as it landed in front of me. It is always fantastic to be that close to Great Greys. I took a couple of steps backward and enjoyed watching as the owl scouted for the field mice and rodents touring through the long grass along the fenceline.
I thought the owl might dive into the grass as it stared down periodically for several minutes. In the end, it chose to fly off for a higher branch.
Kayaking is a sport I’ve always been interested in. On the weekend, my friend Jeff and I met up with a team of kayakers at Canoe Meadows on the Kananaskis River. We had arranged with their coach to meet the team during one of their training sessions and photograph them while they practiced on the water.
The fast pace of the downstream sections provided a nice opportunity to drag the shutter and abstract the action a little.
Cody Cover Chuck during his championship ride in the bull riding event at the 2011 Tsuu T’ina Rodeo on July 24th. Cody’s young, just in the tail end of his teens, but has a long string of championships through youth and junior rodeos. The way he rides, there would be no surprise if he earns a spot on the pro circuit sooner than later.
This year’s edition of the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo was great fun. With people attending from across North America, this rodeo has a great breadth of people involved in competing, organizing and enjoying. The level of competition was really high this year with some cowboys making some impressive rides. The finals were on Sunday and I was able to work with some of the guys managing the chutes to get great access. Some of the resulting images are from quite a different perspective from where I normally shoot the rodeo.
The athletes, competitors and visiting people are very friendly and this is the second year in a row where I have made a couple of great new friends. Robert and Dave, I hope you like these images as you guys helped me so much by allowing me to stand on top of the gates and letting me know when the bulls were moving up – thanks!
This fellow was a funny guy and a very good rodeo clown. The clowns are some of the hardest workers in the corral – this guy was no exception.
I love watching the barrel racing teams sprint towards the line after the last barrel. It provides a great opportunity to capture the motion of the rider and horse, especially when they are both leaning into it.
This cowboy had a really good ride. When the bulls get out of the gate and then start jumping and spinning, there is every chance of a great score… if the rider can stay onboard.
Another great rodeo at the Tsuu T’ina First Nation near Bragg Creek. Thank you to all of the cowboys, cowgirls, horses and bulls who put on a great show.
This location, just west of Calgary, is one of my favourite places to photograph during the winter months when the sun sets behind the southern edge of the Canadian Rockies. Last night, a massive storm broke free of the mountains and stretched across the prairie. There were some great holes in the clouds that allowed sunlight to streak through here and there. A very dramatic scene to work with and create images of.
Behind the ominous forerunning clouds came the heavy rain. Here the rain is hammering Bragg Creek and moving quickly onto the fields.
As the storm’s intensity built, lightning seemed inevitable and I was lucky to catch this strike hitting along the Elbow River behind a hill in Redwood Meadows.
When the rain did arrive where I was photographing, cover in the car was the prudent option. It was no exaggeration to say this was a torrential downpour.
Wild Card Saturday on July 16th was the last day of the competition before the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Finals. Billed “Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon”, Showdown Sunday is the day all of the athletes were gunning for throughout the event.
The top four money winners in each pool leading up to the weekend had their ticket to the Finals in hand so they had the day off. For the rest, this was their last shot to qualify for the finals. There were two wild card spots in each event so getting to Sunday was no easy task. Here are some images from the rail.
Bell Dinger bucked Chad Besplug of Claresholm, Alberta off just after the gate was opened ending this cowboy’s run to the Finals for 2011. Chad had a good ride on Monday with an 84, I hope he gets invited back next year.
Seven Persons, Alberta bareback rider, Reid Rowan, in the middle of a battle of wills with Gorgeous Connie. Reid won with a full time ride but scored 80 and missed the Final.
Sierra Stoney from DeWinton, Alberta bares down on the second barrel. Sierra’s horse knocked this barrel down while exiting the turn and she finished outside of the top two spots.
Despite appearances, Tyler Corrington rode Awesome for the full 8 seconds. He scored 83.50 and missed the Finals by half a point. The Wild Card saddle bronc event had a two point spread between the top spot and 6th place. Very tough to sit out Sunday when you’re that close to being in.
Ryan MacKenzie of Jordan Valley, Oregon stares down the neck of Gross Beetle during a 79.50 point ride in the Saddle Bronc event during Wild Card Saturday at the 2011 Calgary Stampede Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
A final one from Reid Rowan, well known for his curly mane and his exuberant flair, here disappears altogether to suggest that the Invisible Man has taken up rodeo – for one kick anyways.
This is a visual story detailing one cowboy’s 8 second battle with a horse named Buck Wheat on Thursday afternoon at the Calgary Stampede.
The cowboy’s name is Matt Lait and he hails from just north of Calgary in Balzac, Alberta. He rode the beast for full time and scored in the middle of the pack on the day. However, the expressions by both the man and the horse throughout the ride made for an entertaining series. Matt’s face displays how demanding this event is on concentration and how punishing it is on the human body. Click on each to see a frozen moment within that 8 second ride.
I spent the afternoon back at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Sunday. Some great rides across all events matched with fine weather made for a great afternoon. The rain came with a fury later during the chuck wagon races but left us alone for the rodeo.
As is the custom all of the day’s competitors come out at the beginning to tip their hats to the crowd and stand for the national anthem.
Here one of the mares, Lush Margie, launches Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta on a short-lived flight.
Wade Sumpter of Fowler, Colorado leaps on a mini bull before trying to wrestle it to the ground.
Leaping out of the chute like a beast on a mission, Broken Lady gave Ryan Gray of Petersburg, Texas a pretty entertaining ride.
Joe Gunderson of Agar, South Dakota pulls free of his ride, Kalispell Whiskey, as the horse runs along the rails sending the cowboys up the rails to get out of the way.
Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyoming in the middle of a good test with Jay Bar Nine.
A break in the action for the Red and White
Clint Cooper leaps while his horse stands on the brakes during the tie-down roping event.
Mid-flight after being flung well clear of the saddle during the saddle bronc event.
Lane Stuckey of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta competing in the novice saddle bronc event gets bucked off Tough Alloy.
Cory Hines from Rocky Rapids, Alberta as he and Super Nest leap out of the gate during the novice saddle bronc event shortly before parting ways as seen below.
I had a full day along the rails down at the Stampede yesterday. Here are a few photographs I liked from the quick scan of the wagon load I took yesterday.
The rodeo is a great event and I’m amazed by the performances of both the athletes and the animals. Huge helpings of strength, balance and sheer will on both sides. And, a lot of fun to watch.
I’m just heading down for today’s rodeo, can’t wait to get back down there.
With the regular excitement leading up to Stampede amplified by the attendance of the young royals during their honeymoon tour across Canada, Calgary is in great spirits right now. The Stampede Parade this morning kicks off the crazy ten day party. Rick Hansen is the Parade Marshal which is an inspiring choice. Canada’s Man In Motion will no doubt add more fuel to the fire in the city.
As the Stampede gets closer, more people start to don their Western attire and businesses deck their store fronts (and walls, alleys, staff, windows, etc.) with fanciful cowboy characters, horses and chuckwagons (mostly artwork but there are living embodiments if you go to the right bar or corporate lobby). One of my favourite decorations is this cowboy that Canadian Pacific Railway perches on top of their black locomotive that is set along 9th Avenue in front of their offices in the Gulf Canada Square building on 4th street.
This year I have a few framed prints showcased at the Western Photo Gallery which is one of the five areas of the Western Art Show at the Stampede. I was there for an opening party on Wednesday night and the artwork on display was incredible. Some of the paintings and sculptures are truly incredible. If you visit the Western Showcase in Halls D and E in the BMO Centre at the Stampede Park you will have a great opportunity to see the work of some incredible artists – and a couple of nice photographs too!
I have been accredited to photograph the rodeo and the chuckwagon races for the second time this year. Thank you to Dwayne Zaba and Roy Anstey at Bragg About the Creek magazine for your sponsorship. I can’t wait to get on the rail to watch these events – I didn’t grow up competing but had a number of cousins who did so I appreciate the level that both the animals and the people perform at during the Stampede. I’m sure I will be posting a few images over the next couple of weeks.
If you are in Calgary and make it to the Stampede this year, I hope you have a great time. If you aren’t, try to visit sometime down the road, I don’t argue with their slogan, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”.
I went out for a photo shoot of the Elbow Falls in Kananaskis, Alberta with a couple of fellow photographers last week. The flow of the water and the textures created by the currents and the rocks were mesmerizing.
The river is still rising from the spring runoff from the snow. Spring was late and so is the peak of the high water from the melting snow and ice in the mountains. The flow is very different from the rest of the seasons. The waterfall is engulfed right now so that the normal lip is overrun. This creates a very different face for the falls which is great to explore with a camera. Here are a few from the edge and around.
As night took hold, blue colors were accentuated creating a cool, dreamy feeling to the long exposure images. This is one of my last from the evening.
I wandered away from the Lake Windermere shoreline and up a trail to this marshy field. There were two young mule deer stags lounging away the early evening in the tall grass. They showed a little interest for a minute and then went back to relaxing.
This buck stood up to walk over to a fresh set of grass. There was a bit of a glow off the velvet of the growing antlers in the soft light. With the buttercup wildflowers providing a little color and detail to the scene it was pretty easy photography. The osprey and the river otter proved to be more challenging when I finally headed back to the water’s edge.
Between Banff and Radium, in the Kootenay National Park, I found this young bear grazing on dandelions on a steep hillside at the forest’s edge. Probably three years old given the size but still impressive in appearance and bearing. I was happy to have a long lens to bring this one close.
This subspecies of the black bear has even earned its own formal name, Ursus americanus cinnamomum. They are beautiful animals no matter the color but it was great to see one that had such a distinctive rust hued coat. With the rain, the colors really saturated and created a sheen that worked at some angles but was a challenge at other ones.
I was in a great location to watch the storm that had rolled in Friday night and dropped many, many buckets of rain through Saturday afternoon start to break up.
The drama in the clouds west of Calgary was beautiful to watch build and fall away for a few minutes.
Certainly a different feel in black and white. In the version above I wanted to bring the weathered barn to greater prominence. I ended up shedding the color and adding a little grain to create a more historical, antique feel.