A pair of mountain bluebirds were flitting around a bird house west of Calgary a few days ago. They caught my eye when I was driving past the farmland on the way to my daughter’s dance studio. I stopped for a few minutes, watching as they appeared to be moving into their summer home.
Autumn brings with it layers of clouds which often stretch across the morning sky and catch wonderful colors before and during the sun’s rise.
Driving west of Calgary last week, the colors in the sky at dusk were beautiful. I stopped at a pullout along a range road and photographed a bit of the prairie and the sky during the sunset. A storm was heading east out on to the prairie, its trailing edges spreading across the sky, catching the sunlight in a variety of hues.
The headlights of a car driving towards me created long streaks during the five second exposure. The streaks adding another element to an already interesting prairie scene.
I was exploring the country roads that divide up the fields along the prairie west of Calgary and found this old Ford 350 farm truck long since abandoned overlooking a river valley. The truck looked like it had been left where it finally broke down, just past a cattle guard on a dirt track that led down to an old farmstead.
With the deep blue sky of the early morning, the weathered reds and oranges of the cab and the hood made a nice contrast. I liked working in the white line on the horizon where the Rocky Mountains are still covered with snow. I will be back to this lonely Ford again soon to work in some star trails and light painting. When the new green grass comes in, I’ll return to work with the three strong colors (two primaries – red and blue, and one secondary – green) as they will allow for some dynamic compositions by varying the amount of each color in a frame. A great subject to find and I suppose it will be returning to work after having had at least a few years rest.
In the image below, I de-saturated the sky to emphasize the color in the truck (both the body and the rust on the bed’s frame. It creates an interesting feel to this image as the relationship between the truck and the surrounding environment is different.
In this final picture from this set, I walked down towards the valley so that the sun’s position relative to the truck changed from behind and streaming over my shoulder to behind the truck backlighting the truck and throwing a lot of reflected light towards the camera. The washed out color that resulted allowed for an image very different from the others.
Leaving Calgary on my way home to Bragg Creek, I came across a bald eagle perched on a fence post. I love to photograph birds of prey, so I pulled off the road and jumped out of the car, camera and long lens in hand. Some eagles stay year round here but they are not common so I’m always excited to see one. I was curious to figure out why it was so low to the ground and close to the highway. Usually they are up in trees and closer to rivers than roads. As I moved a bit closer to the bird, his choice of location became obvious – there was a deer, victim of an encounter with a vehicle, crumpled in the ditch. The eagle was in the right spot to swoop down and feed while being able to keep an eye on his prize in between. There were magpies and a couple of crows nearby but none on the deer, they seemed to be keeping their distance.
I waited for a while to see if the eagle would go back to the deer but I must have come along right after it finished one sitting because it showed no interest in going back at that time. Eventually it took flight and circled over the road and up to a large tree a bit further up the hill. I left it there but probably should have set up my field stool and waited for the inevitable return. Really nice to see one of these impressive birds in our area.
I was out at the Folk Tree Lodge yesterday and had time to wander around the farm buildings and visit the horses. It was a beautiful afternoon, a warm day after a long spell of cold weather. I was photographing with a Lensbaby Muse which is tricky to focus at the wide open aperture but is really fun for the slices of focus and blur you can work with in camera. I really enjoy using this lens in strong midday light when I might otherwise be tempted to put away the camera and wait for softer, directional light.
Alvise and Paola were making use of the day and working around the farm. Alvise was up and down the road hauling with his machinery. The colors of the hard hat and the tractor drew my attention and made good subject matter for a few photographs before I ended up talking to the horses. They were not as inquisitive as a few weeks ago but still fun to work with.
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.
The McDougall United Church is just east of Morley, Alberta. It sits on a bluff above the Bow River about midway between Canmore and Calgary.
The church was built in 1875 by Reverend George McDougall who was a missionary bringing Christianity to the people of the Bow River valley.
This church draws the eye if you drive the Bow Valley Trail (Highway 1A) between Cochrane and Canmore. It has been restored and the fence is far from original but it is a beautiful spot. The building stands out against the rolling prairie and has a lonely yet resolute feel.
I have shot at this location many times and when I was last there, in early evening, I shot this image with a black and white print in mind which would allow the separate elements to each stand out. I used an approach that Ansel Adams pioneered of exposing the blue sky as a deep black. The result is a graphic depiction of the building within the detailed prairie grass and fence posts.
I like the result – your mileage may vary.