These horses were walking slowly alongside one of Water Valley’s backroads. We pulled over and I took a few minutes to compose them and a couple of cows in a few different ways. This was my favorite. The animals were languid on a nice afternoon in the Foothills. This field was beautiful to my eye with green and pale gold sharing space across the uneven ground. I used a small aperture of f/22 to keep the three horses each in sharp focus while separating them from the forest in the background. Beautiful country there. I’ve enjoyed wonderful encounters with great gray owls there. It was nice to enjoy another aspect.
I liked it in black and white too!
Sunset over a field in Springbank west of Calgary.
I spent a morning photographing the sun rising over the prairies west of Calgary on the weekend. In the image above, the alpen glow to the west heralds the sun’s coming approach. When the sun came up, the pink quickly washed out of the sky and painted the eastern flanks of the Rocky Mountains and then these stands of trees that break up this field along Highway 8. I love watching these transitions as colors deepen, fade and change altogether.
Facing a low sun, shadows stretched out long across the snow. I played with those for a bit under the increasingly blue sky before heading home.
Owls don’t care about what day it is, but, on some level I guess I do. I went out this morning when the sun was shining and the day was quickly warming up. I was happy that the first day of May picked up where April left off as I was able to continue spending time with owls. This owl was hunting around a farm field and a horse meadow in Bragg Creek.
This Great gray owl was landing on some strategically placed posts in the middle of the field and successfully grabbed a couple of mice over a short span. I haven’t watched owls hunt on this field before but I will be back as it appears to be a very productive spot for this owl.
I returned to Irricana recently to look for Snowy owls. I left early and arrived well before night had given much ground to day. Having criss-crossed the backroads west of the town, I have a decent feel for the farmland in the area and took the opportunity to photograph a couple of locations while the clouds were glowing pink ahead of the sunrise.
A lost wallet and a flat tire, both noticed about an hour after the last of these photographs was taken, made me feel like I earned these images a bit more than usual. The wallet had fallen out of my pocket unnoticed when I was at the farmstead above. A fair bit of time spent retracing my stops before finding it undisturbed in the middle of the gravel road. When I picked up the wallet, I noticed the flat rear tire. Along the way to Irricana, I apparently drove over a hardware store as Phil’s Auto in Irricana (very friendly people – thank you for the coffee!) later showed me the 3 inch long screw that had lodged into the tire. The wallet was recovered before I found the first owl and by the time of my appointment at 3 pm, I was happy to have had several good encounters with 5 different Snowies. I will share those soon. These prairie landscape images from a beautiful morning heralded what became one of the more interesting days I have had out on the prairies.
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.
Canon 5DIII and 24mm lens: 1/25th of a second on f/11 and ISO 800
The early morning sky was beautiful this morning. I stopped for a while to watch the clouds move from the pinks and purples to the reds and oranges and then into the yellow and golds. This bull was not impressed by any of that – he was calling from his solo field to the cows in the field across the road. He stared at me at one point and that worked for me.
With the cooler mornings of late August, mist becomes a frequent visitor before dawn in Bragg Creek. This young White-tail stag stared at me from a field near the hamlet which gave me a moment to photograph him surrounded by, and almost a part of, the mist on the weekend on a day that started very close to freezing.
So far, spring has come in fits and starts. Over the weekend we had a day long snowstorm on Saturday and then it was warm enough to wear shorts outside on Sunday! Crazy stuff but not too far from normal in April on the prairies.
My son and I were out for the day and I photographed these horses when we were in Springbank, west of Calgary. I appreciated their ignorance of sleet falling and the cold winds.
The horse that ended up posing for me before padding away led the small herd up the hill towards me. During one of their pauses on the way up I took the opportunity to frame them as part of the larger scene of dawn on the prairie. As I said before, I wish I had brought some horse-friendly snacks.
Last weekend I was touring around Bragg Creek’s back roads in the morning looking for wildlife. I did not have any close encounters but had this great moment where I watched this moose dash across the meadow and into the dormant forest. Moose have a grace of movement that you wouldn’t expect from a huge animal. With the mild winter so far, the grass hasn’t been blanketed by snow which allowed this bull to keep a fast pace and he was gone in a few seconds up a slope that would have taken me a few minutes.
Went by this old truck for another visit on the weekend. The last time I was there the morning light was pretty warm, today it was harsh but still fun to shoot and then play with the image.
Nice subject even in the middle of the day under a lot of bright light.
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.
My wife and I were out at the Folk Tree Lodge near Bragg Creek, Alberta to give the kids a night with the grandparents. We spent New Year’s Eve there with a great group at the invitation of Paola and Alvise so it was great to spend another night there – such a great retreat.
In the morning I had plans to wander the trails around the ranch and find a good spot to photograph the sunrise. I threw those out once I came up to the fence for the horse paddock. Paola and Alvise have a small herd of horses they take care of. In the pre-dawn I could make them out on the far side of the large field so I decided they would be the subject of the morning’s shoot. All the horses had to do was cooperate. Horses can be wary but their curiosity will usually takeover if you can remain still and just wait for them. It took a while but once two horses approached the rail and, after a good pat, went back to the herd, then the rest of the horses relaxed and followed me around as I worked with the increasing light and rising sun out of the east. I really enjoyed talking to them and playing with them as I was photographing.
In the processing of the images, I worked on a few different approaches. I will give the summary of what work I did in post for the applicable images in case you are interested.
Shooting towards the sun washed this photo out a little bit so I brought it back by increasing the contrast and black level in Lightroom.
This mare was easily the most curious in the group, followed closely by the black horse. Both enjoyed the attention and the scratches on the cheek and behind the ears.
The curious horse playing shy among the trees on her way over to the fence.
Brightened slightly in Lightroom and then I increased the saturation in the coats and trees while cooling the white balance in the snow. I spent about one minute on this image which is more than usual but I like the result.
This was the first horse to approach once the herd had moved across the field, into the trees and close to me on the fence. The sun was still a while away from rising so the deep colours in the coats was not there yet so I preferred this image in black and white. I converted it using the split tone functionality in Lightroom’s develop module. I like to use a a pale gold color for the highlights and a blue gray for the shadows. I increased the exposure to accomplish two goals: bring out the details in the foreground horse’s face and to lend an abstract, graphic feel to the other horses.
I desaturated this image in Lightroom and then used Topaz Adjust to bring out detail and to do targeted exposure adjustment. The sun backlit the horses and I loved the way it highlighted their coats. I used the adjustments to brighten the faces and bring out the detail.
Great subjects and fun to work with these images a little bit on the computer. Thank you to Alvise and Paolo for enabling a night (and morning) in their wonderland.
The drive between Bragg Creek and Calgary along Highway 8 is Alberta Prairie most of the way. Crop fields and cow pastures divide up the land on either side of the road. At the far end of Springbank near the Highway 22X (The Cowboy Trail) intersection is a herd of cows with a pretty steady uniform of black. There are a couple of exceptions to the solid black coats and I stopped the other day to take a few portraits of these trend dodgers.
A last one…
I’m not sure how long autumn will stave off its colder cousin. I’m finding snow on my mind a lot lately so I hope that isn’t imminent foreshadowing at work.
This image is from a field in Springbank the morning before the current stretch of rain settled over us.
I still need to get out to capture the fall colors which are really coming in now.