Posts tagged “Elbow River

An icy sunset on the Elbow River

I walked down to the Elbow from my home this evening as the sun neared the western horizon.  Dusk brought some lovely color the clouds stretching eastward.  I found this sliver of open water and the interesting ice around it which anchored the scene nicely.


Dippers at Elbow Falls


American dippers are year round residents below the Elbow Falls.  When I was there before sunrise, I could hear an occasional chitter from one pair as they flew up and downstream.  As the day brightened I saw them a couple of times while I was photographing the landscape around the waterfall.

I shifted my attention to them and had two lengthy sessions photographing them.  The first began when I was taking the last couple of shots above the falls and noticed one dipper fishing in the small rapids there.  The bird splashed here and there, submerged in the flowing water and managed to hunt down a good number of insects in there.  After several minutes, breakfast concluded and the bird flew down the river and quickly went out of sight.

An hour’s wait separated me form the second encounter.  Eventually one of the dippers flew by and landed at rapids upstream from the falls.  That was too far for any reasonably interesting photographs but a second dipper followed only a little while later.  This one returned to pools above the waterfall which I have enjoyed watching them at often.  When the bird alighted in the water this time, I laid down on the snow to get close to eye level with the little bird.  I was well rewarded as it soon chose to ignore me and walked close by.


Winter at Elbow Falls – water, snow and ice

There is a beautiful balance of running water, ice forms along the river’s edge and drifts of snow at Elbow Falls right now.  Following an early start, photographing the waterfall before dawn, I stayed for a long time playing with these elements.  This is one of my favorite waterfalls and was happy to find a few new ways to photograph it on this visit.  A couple of American dippers kept me company and I eventually turned my attention to them as splashed around hunting for breakfast in the fast-moving water.  I look forward to sharing those images soon.


Northern Lights… softly

On the weekend there was a minor geomagnetic storm which enveloped the Earth for a couple of days.  Around midnight on Sunday I could see a green glow along the northern horizon so I walked down to the Elbow River.  It runs near my backyard and I was quickly down at the water.  A couple of hours saw a few sprites stretch away from thick Aurora band which stayed low in the sky.  However the Northern Lights were comfortable doing a slow waltz on this night.  Next time I’ll hope for a more energetic dance but I certainly enjoyed the quiet beauty that was shared.

 


Snowshoeing on the Elbow River

Last weekend there was a break in the storms where blue sky appeared for an hour or two in the afternoon.  It was cold but the sunshine was inviting so I strapped on snowshoes and headed outside.  The Elbow River is still largely frozen over so a walk along the plain at the north end of Redwood Meadows seemed a good call.  The clouds left with snow trailing just behind their departure.

I ended up playing around more than covering any real distance.  The slope from the berm to the river was a fun distraction as I jumped down into the snow and clambered up again a few times.

I ended with a short trek onto the plain and then back along the forest.  A few photographs of some wintering berries close to the berm coincided with the clouds closing in again.  The snow began to fly and I made my way home.

 


Morning at a bend in the Elbow River

A morning walk brought me to this scene along the Elbow River a little after sunrise.  With snow falling outside as I write this, it feels like that may have been one of the last autumn landscape photographs for me for the year.


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!


Aurora over the Elbow River

Last weekend there was a massive storm in the sky on Saturday night.  Not the thunder and lightning kind – though there was a very energetic rain shower around 2am – rather a geomagnetic storm.  With that came bright auroras which rippled and shot for several hours.  The rain actually woke me up and when I looked outside, I could see the Northern Lights between gaps in the clearing clouds.

I picked up some gear and headed outside right away.  Living near Bragg Creek we have dark skies except for the glow from Calgary to the east so it was easy to see the show right from my deck.  When I walked over to the banks of the Elbow River, it coincided with an intense burst that lasted for almost twenty minutes.  I woke my daughter up later when I went back home and we were able to catch another smaller outburst – her first in real-time.  Easily the best part of a great night.

 


Images of the Aurora over the Elbow River

Albertan Aurora over the Elbow River - © Christopher Martin-5945-2

When the Northern Lights brightly lit up the sky on May 8th, I went out to a favourite spot along the Elbow River on the edge of Redwood Meadows.  The river there is dotted with sets of rocks near the shore which provide interesting elements and break up the reflection in an attractive way.  The landscape is beautiful and supported the main show in the sky above well.  The Aurora streamed across the sky from the northern horizon to well past the zenith.  The image below was taken with the camera pointing almost straight up.

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5930

 

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5979

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-6030

Albertan Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5938


Mother’s Day Aurora

Mother's Day Aurora Borealis - © Christopher Martin-5949

There was an intense auroral storm that started late on May 7th and rang in Mother’s Day with vibrant ripples and sheets until just before dawn.  This session of the Aurora Borealis was the most vibrant I’ve watched over the past five years.  For three hours I watched the sky being canvassed with impossibly bright streams of spray paint. I enjoyed watching them on the northern edge of my community along the banks of the Elbow River.  I thought it was a great start to Mother’s Day and certainly worth losing most of a good night’s sleep to watch the sky.


Elbow River Dawn

Elbow River Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1831-2

I went out for a mountain bike this morning along the Elbow River.  The temperature was near -20°C and the snow-covered trails were a bit slippery – and it was a great ride.  It was before the sun had come up and the land was emerging from the dark draped in soft, bluish light.  The alpen glow in the clear sky to the west added a magical pink hue to the scene.

Elbow River Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1826-2

These two images were taken before and after the sunlight lit up the Kananaskis mountains.  The first was at 8:27 and the next 13 minutes later, just a minute after sunrise.

Elbow River Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1841

 

 


The Northern Lights over Southern Alberta

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2319
The Aurora Borealis has been very strong for a few nights in a row, reaching southern Alberta regularly which comes after what has seemed like a very long absence.  Perhaps it has just been me that was absent for shows since last year but being out for this one on the night of March 18-19.  When I went out at 11pm, there was a dull green bow low in the sky towards Calgary.  After a while, the arch began to glow brighter and stretch higher.  Columns then started to separate from the green band and the arch itself dissolved.  For the next couple of hours the lights shifted their shapes, colors and intensity.

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2522

– Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2382-2

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Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2572

I was out on the berm that sits between Redwood Meadows and the Elbow River.  The height of the berm, the rocky shoreline and the snow remnants allowed for a variety of perspectives.  The three and half hours that the Northern Lights performed allowed me the time to explore these.  It was an amazing night.

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2549

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2539

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2491

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2505

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2383

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2529

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2472


Aurora over the Elbow River

 

Spring Equinox Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2500-3

Canon 5DIII – 24mm lens: 6 seconds on f/1.8 at ISO 3200

In the middle of the active Aurora that reached southern Alberta the lights were reflecting brightly over the waters of the Elbow River in Redwood Meadows.


Saint Patrick’s Aurora

Saint Patrick's Aurora - © Christopher Martin-2473
Canon 5DIII – 24mm lens: 2.5 seconds on f/1.8 at ISO 6400

The night after St. Patrick’s Day brought out the Aurora Borealis over southern Alberta.  Along the Elbow River, west of Calgary, the bands of color rippled in the sky and on the surface of the water for several hours.  I met two photographers, Stacey and Clif, out on the berm.  They had come out to Redwood Meadows in search of the Northern Lights.  The show took a little while to start so it was nice to chat while we waited.  When the lights did start to dance it was beautiful.  I will share more images from the night soon as the colours and mood changed throughout the night and allowed for great variety.


Dawn at Elbow Falls

Elbow Falls Dawn - © Christopher Martin-9682-2

The early light worked well with a few interesting clouds hanging above Elbow Falls on the day I was up there this weekend.  The soft pink ahead of sunrise shared the sky with the waning full moon early.  As the clouds turned to a deep peach color I moved just above the waterfall.  From there the reflections of colour on the excited water were beautiful and I watched the morning open up.

Elbow Falls Dawn - © Christopher Martin-9699-1

Elbow Falls Dawn - © Christopher Martin-9722

 


A halo around the sun

Sun halo - © Christopher Martin-9284

Mist rising off the Elbow River near Bragg Creek catches the sun in its own halo of sunlight.


A blizzard at Elbow Falls

Elbow Falls - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 24-105mm lens at 65mm: 2.5 seconds at f/16 on ISO 200

I went back to Elbow Falls for the third time in the last couple of weeks.  With the snowstorm that blew in on the weekend, I was drawn back to see another face to the area.  Heavy snowflakes had piled up in the trees and across the rocks with more falling rapidly when I was up there.  A slip on the ice was my payment for passage but I liked the scene I slid into.  The falling snow gave the trees a charcoal sketched look while the rocks and water in the river had texture and character that seemed to suit black and white processing.


Elbow Falls in winter’s clothing again

Elbow Falls in winter's clothing - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 17mm: 1/3rd of a second at f/16 on ISO 200

With fresh snow on the ground, I went back up to Elbow Falls to see how the valley would look in a return to winter clothing.  I was there only a week ago and the change, beyond the cold, was significant.  I love snow-covered landscapes so I found this visit to Kananaskis to be a very beautiful one.  I think spring is coming soon but when winter is this pretty, I don’t mind a little delay.

Early morning blues - 2014 © Christopher MartinThe blues before dawn…
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 26mm: 3.2 seconds at f/11 on ISO 200
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2014 © Christopher MartinFirst light in the mountains
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 25mm: 1.3 seconds at f/11 on ISO 50
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2014 © Christopher MartinSunshine into the mist
Canon 5DIII + 17-40mm lens at 17mm: 1/8th of a second at f/16 on ISO 50

 


A calm morning at Elbow Falls

First light above Elbow Falls - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I went up to Elbow Falls last weekend and ice-covered all but a sliver of the river and most of the waterfall too.  With the warm days since then, I wanted to see how this beautiful spot looked now.  Much of the snow and ice has melted, opening the waterway and showing another side of Kananaskis.  Spring may be around the corner.


Ice and Snow: lines and shadows

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The waves of mild temperatures then bitter cold that have been winter’s pattern this year have played havoc with the ice.

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Along the Elbow River the once smooth sheets of water frozen layer on layer, have buckled and split along the channel.

20140301-164117.jpg

The temperature went into free fall yesterday but the blue skies pulled me outside this morning. Near the edge of the ice down the Elbow I spent some time photographing the forms created by the blanket of snow, broken ice cover, and the long shadows of winter.

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Aurora Borealis over the Elbow River

Aurora over the Elbow - 2014 © Christopher MartinAurora over the Elbow
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 2.5 seconds at f/1.6 on ISO 1600

The Northern Lights came to life over my home in Redwood Meadows a couple of nights ago.  I threw on some winter gear and walked down to the Elbow River with my camera and tripod.  The moon was waning but was close to full and lit up the snow and ice so my headlamp wasn’t needed.  I went out on the ice and watched the Aurora ripple across the northern quarter of the sky.  It was a cold and very late show.  And I loved it.

Note: Click on any photograph to open a higher resolution version of the image.

Aurora fire - 2014 © Christopher MartinNorthern Lights on ice
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1.6 seconds at f/2.5 on ISO 1600

 

Aurora Flare - 2014 © Christopher MartinAurora Flare
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 4 seconds at f/2.5 on ISO 1600

The colors dimmed after an hour or so and I could barely make out the lights.  The camera could still resolve them and I liked the subtle color in one of the last images from the evening.

Fading Aurora - 2014 © Christopher MartinFading lights
Canon 5DIII + 24mm f/1.4 lens: 3.2 seconds at f/2 on ISO 1600

 

Searching for the Northern Lights - 2014 © Christopher MartinSearching for the Northern Lights
Canon 5DIII + 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm: 8 seconds at f/8 on ISO 1600


It is too cold!

We are just coming out of a long cold snap here on the eastern flanks of the Rockies.  Temperatures started out around -10°C (14°F) last week and then dropped to -25°C (-13°F) a couple of days ago and have stayed there.  This image is from a stretch of the Elbow River just a couple hundred meters from my home in Redwood Meadows (west of Calgary).  Most of the river there is now iced over but I haven’t been back at dawn to photograph the difference.

Winter along the Elbow River - 2013 © Christopher Martin
Apparently we start climbing upwards later today and should be just below freezing by the weekend.  That will feel balmy – I hope the forecasts hold!  I love the winter landscapes but this year when the temperature fell below about -15 my enthusiasm for the season fell too.  Maybe some powder skiing on the weekend will remind me of the upside of winter.


A return to Elbow Falls

 Elbow Falls Dawn - © Christopher Martin-7467

Since the floods, I have been eager to drive up Highway 66 which runs in and out of the valleys where the Elbow River unwinds out of the mountains.  A few weeks ago, the road reopened and I have been back into this quieter side of Kananaskis Country a couple of times since.  On the first trip I went straight to Elbow Falls to see what remained.  Rumours through June and July ranged from the Elbow Falls being reduced to a set of rapids through to vast swathes of land disappearing, replaced by river rock spread over the lost forest area.  The former is not true – the falls remain, as seen in the image here from that first visit after the floods, and are still beautiful.  The latter is very true in many places – many favourite spots, including the winding river path above the falls, have been drastically reshaped.


The flood at Redwood Meadows

These clouds dropped massive rain in the mountains and on the Foothills for several days, swelling the rivers that run towards Calgary.

These clouds dropped massive rain in the mountains and on the Foothills for several days, swelling the rivers that run towards Calgary.

Our community of Redwood Meadows is located along the Elbow River west of Calgary.  Normally, the river is a steady flow that winds out of Kananaskis Country through the Foothills and drains into the Weaselhead delta in the city.  For the past week, heavy rain and snowmelt swelled the river far above its channels and in many places along its path expanded well beyond its banks.

On June 20th the water was still rising when I took this photograph along the bank of the Elbow River.  The water continued to rise for several hours afterwards.  The line of the berm created by the rocks, sandbags and the trees along the left side were all eroded by the river and disappeared by June 21st.

On June 20th the water was still rising when I took this photograph along the bank of the Elbow River. The water continued to rise for several hours afterwards. The line of the berm created by the rocks, sandbags and the trees along the left side were all eroded by the river and disappeared by June 21st.

Owing to a sustained fight by emergency workers, volunteers, community members and skilled heavy machinery crews to reinforce the berm that separates the town from the river, the water was kept out of most houses.  I did not stop to take many photographs during the river’s rise, we were sandbagging and racing to shore up the berm.  I did grab a few afterwards to remember how close the water came to making things significantly worse in Redwood Meadows.

By June 22nd, when this photograph was taken, the Elbow's waters had crested.  Here the emergency work to shore up the berm can be seen.  The bend in the river here had carved out the bank and nearly collapsed a wide section of the berm.

By June 22nd, when this photograph was taken, the Elbow’s waters had crested. Here the emergency work to shore up the berm can be seen. The bend in the river here had carved out the bank and nearly collapsed a wide section of the berm.  The small trees fallen over on the left are what remains of the stand that can be seen in the image above. 

The reinforcement of the berm continues with many truckloads of concrete blocks and rock boulders being positioned to defend against the next time the Elbow’s temper flares again.

A member of the Redwood Meadows Emergency Services patrols a weak point of the berm along the river.

A member of the Redwood Meadows Emergency Services patrols a weak point of the berm along the river.

The story of this year’s flood from Bragg Creek and into Calgary (where the Elbow joined the Bow River and unleashed true destruction), is still unfolding.  The waters have crested, many people are back in their homes and the cleaning up has begun.  There is great community spirit at all places affected and we will all need that over the next weeks and months.

A layer of mud blankets the forest near the Elbow.

A layer of mud blankets the forest near the Elbow.

The water ripped away trees and changed the shape of the valley.  It carried mud through the forest and left a heavy layer behind when it receded.  I found this small flower which had weathered the deluge and seemed to be a good symbol of strength and resilience.  Two qualities I have seen in my neighbours, friends and strangers who rallied to save a town and continue to work to bring it back to normal.

Resilience - 2013 © Christopher Martin