Posts tagged “landscape photography

Catching sunrise in the clouds


I spent a morning up at Elbow Falls in Kananaskis Country a few days ago.  The sky was dark when I showed up there but I could make out the clouds as they ran eastward.  Dawn came quickly as it often does at this time of the year and I was pleased that a loose knot of these clouds had not yet disappeared behind the silhouetted tree line.  They caught the early light and spun it into reds, purples and oranges for a couple of minutes before the sunlight turned to gold and they continued the journey towards the prairies.

A second night with the Aurora Borealis


Only three days after I was able to watch a great showing by the Northern Lights, they came out to dance over the foothills again.  The clouds were heavier this time around and grew steadily through the night while I was out.  That set up for some backlighting by the aurora that looked really beautiful.  This time around, I started at the same small pond as before but then drive to a couple of different spots along Highway 1 before ending my night at the small lake beside the Sibbald Creek Trail (Highway 68) where it meets Township Road 252.




At first I was trying to get away from the cloud bank as it coalesced and then moved southwards and increasingly obscured my view of the night sky.  Soon I became a little hypnotized by the glow around and through the clouds so I settled down and enjoyed the moment.


After 2am, the clouds broke up and seemed to return back to the north.  I was too tired to see how far they retreated and made my way home just before 3.



A morning in the Valley of the Ten Peaks



Moraine Lake is a beautiful location in the Banff National Park to visit.  To photograph it often proves to be tricky and that keeps me returning.  The winds run haphazardly through, over and below the Valley of the Ten Peaks stirring the water, pushing the clouds low then high and generally making unpredictability the only thing predictable.  I love it but it continues to demand flexibility every time I go up.  There are a number of images that I have visualized, or maybe just dreamt about, but have yet to realize.  On my last visit with good friend and fellow photographer, Jeff Rhude, the sky looked promising as we drove up from Lake Louise.  Clouds were stacked along the peaks and the sky to the east was clear.  As we climbed the rock pile which gives the lake her name, the wind came up, pushing the cloud off the cliffs.  These slid eastward seemingly on a mission to block the early light of dawn.  I stopped for a moment with my back to the lake to photograph these broken clouds as the pink sunlight brushed through them.


We scrambled into a spot with a view down the valley which seemed to still be sleeping.  The wind was soft and the lake was calm, allowing for a beautiful reflection of the peaks and the sky above.


Around the valley the autumn colors were still hanging on while winter looked to be settling onto the mountains above the lake.


Rainbows over Medicine Lake at sunset


A double rainbow arched over Medicine Lake just before sunset in Jasper National Park.  Light rain fell on Kian and I as we watched these rainbows develop on the edge of a storm that had rolled up the Maligne Valley.  The sun was near setting so the sunlight was pure gold and the colors across the landscape were incredible.





A step towards winter: morning at Moraine Lake




I spent the morning at Moraine Lake today.  A cold front swept in last night and when I caught my first glimpse of the valley when I drove up, the snow line was visible amid the layers of forest, rock and cloud.


At the lake, daybreak started cold with a steady drizzle of rain.  The blue water’s hue varied as the amount of light let through by the clouds changed.  I enjoyed the morning with the whole valley changing steadily.






Dawn at the mouth of the Bow Valley

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2676

Dark clouds wrapped the eastern edge of the Bow Valley near Mount Yamnuska as the sky brightened at dawn last Friday morning.  The storm front to the west continued pushing towards the prairies and by dawn the line of rain was directly overhead Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail) where it crosses the TransCanada Highway.

A stormy dawn in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2561


To the west were the rows of mountains, one leading down the Bow Valley towards Canmore and Banff, the other through Kananaskis Country.  When the sun cleared the horizon, light met water and a double rainbow arched over the valley’s mouth.

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2679-2

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2538

To the east, the sunlight hit the clouds toning them in warm pastels before dawn.  As the sun rose, the colours continued to deepen absorbed by the clouds as well as skipping along the underside.

Rainbow sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2610

Sunrise in the Bow Valley - © Christopher Martin-2636

I loved watching the alchemy of the light mixing with the clouds and rain.  The whole sky, in all directions, was dynamic and changed continuously through sunrise.  A little later, the sunlight shone through falling rain, and I made this last photograph of the landscape of this part of the Stoney Nakoda Nation before heading up the Kananaskis Trail and spending the morning with a pair of Bald eagles at the Mount Lorette Ponds.

Sun and rain on the Stoney Nakoda Nation - © Christopher Martin-2778




Mount Rundle reflected in Two Jack Lake

Mount Rundle in Two Jack Lake - © Christopher Martin-0160

Two Jack Lake’s surface was pretty calm on a beautiful blue sky morning in the Banff National Park two weeks ago.  That meant that Mount Rundle’s reflection was a bit skewed but I liked the look that suggested a fun house mirror.

Mount Rundle reflected in Two Jack Lake - © Christopher Martin-0160-3

I preferred the graphic look of black and white in this image.  For comparison, I included the original color version.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7733

Sunday’s sunrise shone through a narrow break on the horizon.  A storm coming out of the mountains darkened most of the sky but with the light rode in from the east and painted the leading edges of the clouds.  I was east of Bragg Creek along Highway 8 as the colour started to build so I pulled in behind a stand of trees that have great lines.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7688

The branches silhouetted against the dawn gave me a lot to work with and here are three takes over a fifteen minute window before the colour drained out and the clouds stretched fully across the sky.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7701

Late afternoon along the Livingstone Range

Late afternoon at the foot of the Livingstone Range - © Christopher Martin-6240

Driving along Highway 22 after a day with the eagles, I was traveling parallel to the Livingstone Range of the Canadian Rockies.  The foothills lead up to it in a couple of rounded hills and then the mountains jut up sharply from there.  It was an impressive scene with the sharp contrast between hills and mountains as well as light and shadow of the late afternoon.

Banff and the early morning blues

Banff and the morning blues - © Christopher Martin-1413

I love when I can get out early in the morning.  When it is pitch black as I get to my destination, I get excited as I wait for the first hint of light on the eastern horizon.  As the sky slowly brightens, there is a magical time ahead of any color in the sky where blues of almost every hue color the world.  I enjoyed one of these mornings on the shore of the Vermilion Lakes in the Banff National Park a couple of weeks ago.

My favourite landscape photographs from 2015

Mount Athabasca in the first light of dawn in the Jasper National Park

I had fun pulling together this list of my landscape images that stood out to me.  Last year I spent time in some beautiful places near and far which certainly helps towards making pretty pictures.  Within those moments, I really enjoyed composing the images to try to create something more compelling than just pretty pictures – although I like those too!

Fireworks in Redwood Meadows to celebrate Canada Day

I felt like I put more effort into my wildlife photography last year but am happy with the progression with my landscape images.  The sky makes up so much of what makes or breaks a landscape image for me and I see my exploration of that continuing in 2016.  If you are interested in seeing these of images, please click on any image or this link to open the image gallery.  Thank you for visiting now and throughout the year.

A quiet prairie landscape before dawn near High River, Alberta

Photographing through dawn on the prairies

Dawn hoar frost landscape - © Christopher Martin-9565

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.

Dawn hoar frost landscape - © Christopher Martin-9614

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.

Dawn hoar frost landscape - © Christopher Martin-9755