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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.

Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow: Friday’s Grand Entrance

The Pow Wow is the centre of the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Annual Celebrations.  Last Friday evening Kezia and I went to the Redwood Meadows Fairground before the Grand Entrance.  Kezia was invited to join her friend dancing afterwards which hit the night out of the park for her.  The photography was great along the way with the beautiful regalia in the late sunlight.

 

Tsuu T’ina Rodeo: More from Friday night

On Friday night at the rodeo, my daughter and I watched the barrel racing.  We had a lot of fun watching these amazing partners tear around the barrels.

 

An evening at the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo

Under mild protest my son and I watched the last half of the evening set of the Tsuu T’ina’s 43rd annual rodeo last night.  Kian found a few boys to play kendama with so that bought me a little time to photograph.  The sun dropped into some wildfire smoke that laid above the horizon which made for dramatic backlighting.  I will share more soon but I’m packing my gear and heading over for Sunday’s short go this afternoon.  Here a cowboy lifts the calf into position to fix three of the legs with a half hitch knot to complete his run in the tie-down roping event.

The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s 2017 Rodeo is underway

 

Kezia and I went to the first night of the Tsuu T’ina Nation Annual Celebration’s 43rd Annual Rodeo.  Kezia’s friend was dancing in the Pow Wow so we did not stay too long.  Definitely looking forward to getting back tonight.

 

Kingfishing on the water

A family of belted kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) live and fish around a small lake west of Bragg Creek in Alberta, Canada.  They are tricky to photograph but a lot of fun to try.  Over a couple of hours there were a few close flybys.  Some I missed completely, they are very fast and can change direction instantly.  But there were a few that got closer to what I have in my head.  I’ll be back soon!

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.

A chaotic sunrise in Banff National Park

Before the sun rose over the Fairholme Range, the scattered clouds stacked up in layers over the mountains.  They fought to catch the early splashes of pink and peach as the day approached.  The chaos of these splashes of color across the broken sky were beautiful to watch.

Super fun at the Calgary Stampede Midway

My children and I went down to the Calgary Stampede on Friday for a day on the grounds.  We ended up staying for 10 hours and they spent most of that riding, sliding, dropping, stopping and flying around, over, through and across the midway.

We rode on the Skyride which takes you over the middle of the fairgrounds and affords a great view and an opportunity to map out the order of rides, games and food.

It was hot, by Calgary standards – around 32°C, so the misting and water stations were important oasis stops for us throughout the day.

One of those water bottle refill spots was in the Agrium building.  The cool air and really interesting agricultural kiosks and interactive centres kept the kids interested and allowed us to lose some heat!  Kezia loved feeding the chickens in particular while Kian enjoyed watching the day old chicks waddle around their pen.

Ice cream after lunch and slushies in the afternoon were necessary – at least to us!

But, this was a day of rides and we did that with very few other breaks.  It was the first time the kids have come down to the Stampede and I am really happy that they loved it.  I’ve always had a lot of fun down here – on the midway, at the rodeo, watching the chuckwagons and the grandstand show, etc.  I’m excited to share more of the fun that the Stampede has to offer with them.

They hit the Euro Slide early in the day and later in the afternoon.  The sun was behind them for the afternoon rides which allowed for a cool look by over-exposing the shots.  I definitely had a lot of fun playing while photographing these cool cats!

The Outlaw Roller Coaster was one of Kian’s two favourite rides.  He made a couple of runs solo on that after going with his sister the first time.  He didn’t mind having the front seat all to himself – and it worked well for the photographs too!  My favourite is the riding philosopher as he finished his last ride on this one.

And then there was the Starship 4000!  It was the consensus favourite and they both rode it A LOT.  Kian went 13 times and Kezia rode 16 times – in a row!  Dad was a bystander while they racked up their circular miles inside the spaceship.  It spun around pasting the riders against the wall but still allowing them to move around a bit.  I didn’t go on this one but I have been told by both kids it was AWESOME!

We didn’t even get into the games that line the midway alongside the rides.  Kian definitely liked this pink monkey so he’s looking forward to trying for one of them next year.

We finished the day off with a couple of flights on the hang gliding ride called the Cliff Hanger.  I liked flying like Superman – the kids did that and enjoyed making faces and having a blast as they spun around.

A great day at the Stampede – we’ll be back next year!

May Aurora Borealis at Lake Minnewanka

The aurora storms in May were beautiful.  This is one photograph from May 20th in Banff National Park along the Lake Minnewanka shoreline.  There is a good chance of more displays this weekend.  I’ll be looking up and hopefully the ribbons of red, green and purple will be dancing above.

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