Ice on these leaves softened their autumn colors. With the change of season over the past couple of weeks, I’m looking for fall scenes wherever I go. I’m really enjoying taking the time to explore and to photograph them.
I’ve been hunting for images of the autumn that has been hurriedly ushered in. Here is one from the day of the first snowfall last week. I was east of my home in Redwood Meadows and found this wonderfully coloured stand of trees. The snow continued on for much of the day and I looked for more scenes like this.
On the first day of October, I was in Banff National Park and found great fall colors across the Bow Valley. I returned to Hillsdale Meadow along the Bow Valley Parkway where I expected the larch would be showing their best golds and yellows. I wasn’t disappointed! For this image, I used a slow shutter to abstract the landscape similar to how I had done with the same stand of trees in July. I moved the camera downwards during the 1/40th of a second exposure to exaggerate the vertical lines present in the golden trees and echoed in the evergreens in the mountainside behind.
On the suggestion of a reader (thanks Jo Ann!), I hiked up to Boom Lake on the western edge of the Banff National Park near the British Columbia – Alberta border. The trail is a gentle ~5km hike complicated only by a bit of snow, ice and mud given the time of year. I enjoyed the walk through the trees and over the numerous streams. The lake appears suddenly and is walled in on the far side by Boom Mountain.
I would have thought the name came from the sound of the avalanches whose tears down the slopes can be seen in several places. However, I found that the lake was named Boom owing to the driftwood created by the trees that are pushed into the water by the avalanches.
Many of these logs are submerged but a large number have collected at the eastern end and where they poke out of the water suggested a logger’s boom to the person who formally named the lake in 1908. I found that interesting as I did the lake itself.
I scrambled over the rocks along the shore for a couple of kilometres while the wind, snow, sun all wrestled overhead, as they often do in these mountains.
Winter’s teeth have yet to be bared with any sincerity so it felt more like mid-October than mid-November. This little patch of vegetation drew my eye on the way down, the shock of color seemed a direct challenge to colder weather while the ice frozen over the leaf suggested its inevitability. Needless to say, I enjoyed my random thoughts and musings as I strolled back down the trail.
The snow fell hard enough to allow us to go sledding last weekend has melted away but it feels like winter will be here soon. It has been a good fall and I have looked for a few more intimate scenes to represent the season before it leaves.
A couple of these are from the Jasper National Park in the first few days of September. Banff is 350m higher elevation but, with her higher latitude, fall in Jasper seems to come at least a couple of weeks earlier. Kian was flanked by leaves starting to turn as he watched the water run down Tangle Falls along the Icefields Parkway .
By contrast, the cormorants on the Bow River in Calgary were photographed in an autumn season on the last day of September.
A small herd of bull elk were gathered near Moose Meadows on the Bow Valley Parkway when I was there on the weekend. The frost bleached the grass and the cold air made the breath visible.
These were mature adults with massive antlers and they were putting them to use. The rut is on and these elk were challenging each other repeatedly.
They would be eating grass and then stare at another one. Soon after, they would stalk slowly towards each other and lock antlers. Once entwined, a push and a pull fight would take place. Unlike Bighorn sheep battles where they smash into each other, these were shoving matches.
It was a cold morning which made for a particularly appealing scene to watch these giants battle. The elk below was noticeably larger than the others and only one bull challenged him in the half hour that I watched. That contest seemed like more of a measuring stick for the smaller one as it was short and there was no real challenge.
He wandered off after a while heading for the trees and leaving the others to graze and continue the odd skirmish.
On the weekend, I found a Grizzly bear traversing along the edge of the Bow Valley Parkway near the southeast entrance. The bear, a female with the tag #148 (I think), I could see where she had been digging up roots but when I saw her she was already on the move.
She crossed the road between a couple of parked cars and then disappeared into the trees. I played a hunch and drove a kilometre down the road and waited hoping she might continue in that direction. A little while later, she came down the road and scrambled up onto this rock shelf above the road.
That offered a great view of this beautiful creature and I was able to create some solid imagery when she paused to decide on her next route.
Leaving the rocks, she crossed a grassy meadow and then walked through the open forest for a few hundred metres. I loved watching her walk through the trees – at this time of the year her coat blends in with the autumn foliage.
She then crossed the road again and shuffled down the hillside. Out of sight again and this time she did not return. I saw a video of her fishing earlier this summer so maybe she went down to the river for that!
I visited Wedge Pond to check on the fall colors and their reflection in the water. The larch and aspen in Kananaskis now have their leaves falling but a week ago the golds were still at their best. Among the rippled mirror on the pond’s surface, there was a fisherman fly casting from a float. Seemed like a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
I started a great day in Kananaskis earlier this weekend walking along the shoreline of the Upper Kananaskis Lake in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. At sunrise I was photographing a pair of moose, a mother and her calf, in a meadow and I ended up spending most of the morning at the Sarrail Falls. However, when I parked near the boat launch at the lake, the soft light, subtle autumn accents, calm water and brilliant reflection of the mountains in the water mesmerized me for several minutes. I had the lake to myself for a little while and enjoyed the beauty immensely.
We have enjoyed a long fall season this year. Sometimes winter steals in before it seems like summer had closed off. This autumn is now closing in on two months and has been quite a nice season. I went to a small lake, Pilot Pond, which lies in the Bow Valley facing Pilot Mountain in the Banff National Park a week ago and felt the scenery around the water was a nice reflection of the fall we have had in the mountains.
(Please click any image to open a higher resolution version)
I was alone except for one female Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) out on the water biding its time, and once flapping its wings, before continuing south.
A female moose (Alces alces) had a meadow full of leafy trees and bushes all to her self when I found her in West Bragg. I hope to see a few more in these colorful settings before we roll into the next season.
This coyote was scouting along the banks of the small river which winds back on itself several times as it crosses the meadow beside the road up to Shark Mountain in the Spray Valley Provincial Park. It was almost cold enough for snow and the coyote’s coat was slick from the freezing rain. The resulting glow made this healthy canine stand out beautifully against the long grasses.
After watching us for a couple of minutes, the coyote continued along the edge of the river. Eventually it crossed over the meadow and climbed up the hill.
The days start cold but warm quickly. Still the trees show what the morning is just hinting at. The colours are coming in wonderfully and I have been enjoying my time out on the land enjoying them.
We were on the road for much of this weekend driving to Shaunavon, Saskatchewan for some family business. To break up the drive there and back, we stayed just outside of Brooks on Thursday and Friday night. We spent both nights at the Lakeshore Bed & Breakfast which backs onto the northern shore of Lake Newell – a lake that family friends used to take me boating on when I was 4! I have scattered memories of those days but I remember the massive number of birds that summered there so I was eager to see what I would find when I got out before dawn on Saturday morning. As we are halfway through October and winter is one storm away, I was not surprised when I felt the biting cold carried off of the water and across the beach. With ice on the car windows, I took that as a cue to layer up so I headed down to the beach decked out for an Arctic expedition.
It was about 6:30 when I started photographing and I started with just a faint line of colour to the east. With the sky brightening quickly, I kept reducing the length of my exposures to hold the intensity of the orange glow pretty consistent across the images I made over the next hour. Starting with two minute exposures (f/11 and ISO 400), I was down to 1.3 seconds (f/16 at ISO 100) by 7:30.
As dawn approached, I started to see more of the features around that part of the lake. We had arrived late on Thursday night, left early on Friday and returned in darkness again that night so I had not done any scouting of the shore before Saturday morning. Not ideal for planning but it was interesting to see shapes of trees, rocks, buildings and islands separate from the blackness. By 7:30, there were three things that had grabbed my attention and pulled the type of images I was working on in a different direction. Steady flights of gulls and ducks flew in front of the eastern sky and I could see hundreds of birds all gliding towards an inlet several hundred meters ahead of me. The cold air was rolling over the lake producing a steam that started gently but had increased to an endless rolling fog that would continue until well after sunrise. The third item I first thought was a tower as I walked towards the steam and the increasing congregation of birds but realized it was a lighthouse built on a small island at the mouth of the inlet to assist boaters sailing back to the marina in darkness during the summer months. The birds, the steam and the lighthouse were all in the same place so it was an easy decision to walk over there.
With the sun rising I worked with the lighthouse and shoreline in silhouette against the bright sky.
When the sun cleared the trees I worked several different compositions including this one below and the first photograph in this post.
Once the sun was up, the steam was rising higher and I was able to isolate these two elements against the clean background created. It was a great morning to play with different approaches and try to create a range of images across the shoot.
Lake Newell is a major birding lake on the prairies and I’m looking forward to returning next spring when the pelicans, cormorants and terns who summer there return and are joined by loons, four types of grebes and all manner of ducks and geese. As it was, for a late fall morning on the prairie, I had a great time there. The warm shower, hot coffee and delicious breakfast were the final pieces to a really good start to the day.
Last weekend I was back on the shoreline of Wedge Pond in Kananaskis waiting for sunrise. This time there were clouds in the sky and fog shrouds running across the water. The early light on Mount Kidd was obscured but there were many interesting pieces to play with, near and far, so I wasn’t disappointed with the misty view of the red light descending down the mountainside.
Fall has been really wonderful this year – fairly warm, great color in the trees, no snow below the peaks and an absence of strong winds to blow the leaves off. I hope to get in a couple more landscape sessions before we move into winter.
I photographed a pretty wide variety of landscapes through last year. Here are the ones that, for one reason or another, stand out to me.
A full moon setting over the mountains above Elbow Falls in Kananaskis, Alberta.
Sulphur Mountain and a shrouded Mount Rundle are reflected in the Third Vermilion Lake in the Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
The blowing snow, bright sunshine and cool colours showed a lot of the moods of the Canadian Rockies.
Sunset on the Elbow River as it was tightly wrapped in winter’s trappings.
Silhouette of the Rocky Mountains against clouds lit up by the setting sun.
Springbank sunset just west of Calgary, Alberta.
Sunrise over a prairie marsh in Springbank.
A scenic farmstead on the Prairies south of Gull Lake in Saskatchewan.
A storm rolling east out of the Rockies and onto the Albertan Prairies.
First snowfall in Kananaskis at Barrier Lake in September.
A long exposure of the rocks and ocean along Sunset Beach near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Bagan in Myanmar provided an incredible setting for landscape photography. I was able to enjoy sunrises, sunsets and even shoot from a hot air balloon while I was there in February.
We spent New Year’s Eve at our friends’ home, the Folk Tree Lodge, in Priddis. This was one of my last photographs from 2010 and certainly a favourite of mine.
2010 was a great year. I’m looking forward to this new one.
Fall came later to the Prairies of eastern Alberta and Saskatchewan than it did around Bragg Creek. We drove out through Medicine Hat and on to Gull Lake a couple of weekends ago to visit my wife’s grandparents. It was nice to fit in a bit more fall photography along the way.
Small hills break up the prairie fields near the Saskatchewan – Alberta border.
Motel sign at a truck stop along Highway 1, the Trans Canadian Highway, at the Highway 21 intersection in Saskatchewan near Maple Creek.
The prairie landscape blurs by from my view in the passenger’s seat near Gull Lake.
The white branches are starting to poke out as the leaves are falling to the ground.
Around Bragg Creek and on the prairies towards Calgary, there are still some nice autumn scenes but they are starting to go fast.
Good friends of ours told us about a small group of moose that settled in a field in West Bragg Creek a couple of days ago. This morning, I was out there early and quickly saw the young bull.
I made sure he saw me from a long ways off so that there were no surprises.
I moved slowly and watched his ears for signs of distress – if they get laid back then it is a sign that the moose is agitated. He is a young fellow maybe 4 or 5 years old judging by the immature rack. Nonetheless, still a very large animal and very impressive watching him track easily through the scrub brush and boggy grassland.
The cow was in the middle of a stand of trees to the side of the marsh where the bull was grazing.
She poked her head out to see what I was about. She quickly concluded that I wasn’t anything to be concerned with as she laid down in the grass presumably near her yearling. I didn’t see the young moose and had no interest in stressing the mother or getting into a dangerous position so I didn’t move any closer to the trees.
Great to see these young moose out. We have pretty decent numbers in the Bragg Creek area but I always worry about the impact of hunting so it is wonderful to see babies, yearlings and young bucks when they return to these parts of their range.
A young doe sauntered out of the forest and into our backyard this morning. She was in no hurry to pass through as she found a few flowers around our deck that were still available.
We have a small herd of mule deer that stay close to the community year round. It’s always great to see one of the family come around for a visit – even if they always dine and dash.
I was out for a walk with the hound this morning a little after the sun had crested the hill east of our home in Redwood Meadows. I just kept the long lens on the camera and looked for interesting details in the autumn landscape.
We went over to the banks of the Elbow River that run parallel to the road through Redwood Meadows. This yielded some interesting patterns and creative opportunities. We are nearing late fall here in Bragg Creek now. There are many trees with few leaves left to shed. Still a lot of beauty yet to be found before the season draws to a close.
I was in Calgary this morning and took a little time to shoot in the warm light as the sun came up over the horizon.
As I’ve written before, amazing colours this autumn.
We drove along the Bow Valley Trail between Cochrane and Canmore enjoying the autumn colours that are really incredible this year.
Between Ghost Lake and Morley is the McDougall Unite Church which is 135 years old. It is a prairie icon in Alberta and served its role as a contrast to the yellows and a point of focus admirably in this image.
I posted an image of this same church earlier this year in June.
I hope to post more fall images showing how special this year in particular is.
On the walk back I found a very colourful hedge of Cotoneaster along the roadside.