Welcome to 2021. Here’s to a happy and healthy year for you and yours. There is so much that will be nice to leave behind in 2020 around the world. I hope to remember the silver linings and the special moments from a long year and let the tougher ones fade sooner than later.
I’m visiting the Palouse for the first time over the weekend. The spring landscape in the early light this morning presented many of the hues in the Easter color palette. As for first impressions, this is truly beautiful country and it is a fantastic place to explore. There is much more to say, but the sun is shining and there are many more Easter eggs to find in these hills.
I was roaming the gravel roads east of south of Cochrane on the weekend. As dusk started to fall, I found a small herd of white-tailed deer in the middle of a field. There were two bucks standing apart from four does. The smaller male was prancing about a bit so I put on my longest lens and waited to see if anything would happen. We are still in the middle of the rut so I was hoping they might do some antler jousting.
And, as it turned out, they did. They clashed a couple of times with antlers cracking while they tangled head to head. The battle was short, frenetic and I felt very lucky to watch this moment play out.
After this skirmish the smaller one darted away and they stood apart for a minute before moving up a fold in the hillside back towards the seemingly unimpressed does.
There is a small hill that overlooks a farm and its fields in West Bragg Creek which is a favourite place of mine to photograph from. Throughout the year, the landscape is always beautiful, presenting an ever-changing face as the seasons cycle through. Late summer brings mist which stretches over the tall grass around dawn. These are a few of the photographs I’ve taken over the last week or so.
(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)
Leaving the Calgary this afternoon, I drove through some heavy rain pouring down from some dark gray clouds rolling over Calgary. As I reached the western edge of the city along Highway 8, I was back in the sunshine and enjoyed the drive past the fields. Drawing closer to home, I looked back east and found a rainbow straddling the road. The arch was a mile wide and looked brilliant against the dark clouds still dragging the storm through the city. I pulled onto one of the gravel top range roads and composed this image of the scene.
(click for a larger image)
On a drive back from Gleichen where I was photographing Snowy owls I noticed the sun sparring with chunks of cloud making for interesting lighting on the ground. With strong swathes of sunlight and shade striping the farmland, I stopped for more than a few minutes to enjoy the land and photograph a few takes on it.
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.
Last year when I was traveling in Myanmar we spent several days on the plains of Bagan. The dry season had a firm grip on the land and the fields and dirt roads erupted dust trails with any traffic passing through. These clouds of dust drew our attention to a small village where we talked with several of the farmers and cart drivers.
In the afternoon, the light was warm and there were nice images available with a nod or a smile from one of the villagers serving as approval to click the shutter.
At the suggestion of one of the farmers, we agreed to meet them in the early evening at one of the nearby fields that spread out from an impressive temple ruin.
This last image came as the ox teams were heading back to their homes. The grandpa and grandson took turns looking back as the rising dirt kicked up by hoof and wheel wrapped the carts and rose upwards.
Right now is a great time for sunrises. The sun is rising much later than in the summer and now is clearing the horizon after 7am. That makes photographs of the Prairie at dawn much easier to be awake and in place for.
This sunrise was in Springbank just west of Alberta. The hay has been harvested and the bales are still in the fields. With the mist from a watering hole and the silhouettes of the fence and the trees, there were lot’s of nice elements to work with.
This location, just west of Calgary, is one of my favourite places to photograph during the winter months when the sun sets behind the southern edge of the Canadian Rockies. Last night, a massive storm broke free of the mountains and stretched across the prairie. There were some great holes in the clouds that allowed sunlight to streak through here and there. A very dramatic scene to work with and create images of.
Behind the ominous forerunning clouds came the heavy rain. Here the rain is hammering Bragg Creek and moving quickly onto the fields.
As the storm’s intensity built, lightning seemed inevitable and I was lucky to catch this strike hitting along the Elbow River behind a hill in Redwood Meadows.
When the rain did arrive where I was photographing, cover in the car was the prudent option. It was no exaggeration to say this was a torrential downpour.
A few photographs from around the prairie west of Calgary as spring continues to build momentum.
The distortion of the windshield suggested the heat of a summer day. When this fellow came into view I waited for him to walk into position to balance the telephone poles.
The blue eyes of this horse were a little disconcerting. I had a quick read about blue eyed horses and although not particularly rare, there is an interesting history about them. Just looks a bit crazy to me.
There is a lot of standing water on the prairies right now. With the warmer weather, the snow has all melted so the water is starting to drain out of the minor depressions. This American Coot chose a true pond which won’t run dry in the middle of the summer – most of the waterfowl are pretty savvy in this regard but occasionally there is a small family that ends up making a trek from a slough that’s become a mud pit to a deeper body of water. That said, this photograph finds the bird swimming parallel to a rippled reflection of a telephone pole broken up across the water’s surface.
It’s funny the difference a few days can make. That’s true year round in this part of the world but I thought these pictures highlight how quickly things can change.
These winter photographs were made this afternoon in Springbank on the first day in over a week where it wasn’t frigidly cold (still -20 celsius).
And this fall harvest shot below was from just before Remembrance Day near Cochrane. These two farms are about 20 kilometers apart. I think this farmer is pretty glad he got his crop pulled up when he did.