The moon was scribbling on the surface of one of the Vermilion Lakes in Banff National Park on the weekend.
After a long night of spectacular auroras which I enjoyed from the western shore of Lake Minnewanka (one post here and the other there), I went to nearby Two Jack Lake to catch the sunrise. The clouds, the sun and the mountains all conspired to present an amazing start to the morning. The wind was a bit mischievous as it blew softly but steadily over the water breaking up Mount Rundle’s reflection in the image above and Mount Girouard’s in the one below.
At one point a Canada goose entered the water and I liked the way she showed up in this image blurring slightly during the 1.6 second exposure as it paddled by.
The goose carried on to the far side of the lake. Later a paddle boarder followed the goose’s lead and went out for an early tour around the lake. She was there with a photographer for a shoot – a pretty great morning for that. I liked being able to add in a shot of her gliding across the water.
I packed up the tripod as the colour in the sky started to fade out and with the boarder making several passes in front of the scene which kept the water rippled. I stopped at the overlook above the lake about twenty minutes later and made this last image of the paddle boarder silhouetted against the sunlit mountains reflecting in the water.
Last weekend when fog stretched out across Calgary, I spent the morning photographing along the western edge near Springbank and east of the city around Delacour. The density of the fog changed constantly which was great fun to play with in the images I made.
At times the sun would break through the haze. Some of those moments were incredible just to watch as shafts of sunlight pierced the fog and were then quickly absorbed.
I returned to a weathered old truck that I’ve shot over the years. The fog’s isolation allowed for some new images of this charismatic vehicle.
Much like the train tracks above, I loved how the road disappeared – there is an ethereal quality that is lent to these images by the fog.
The trees that dot the prairies individually and in small stands drew my eye throughout the morning. Sometimes the fog hid them and sometimes it isolated them as with the truck above. Often they were just beautiful scenes to enjoy and shoot before they changed into something new.
I spent a lot of time on the prairies in December. These days started early in the morning so I was able to enjoy watching night give way to day. And several hours later, watch the principles switch as the short daylight hours ran out.
When I set up my gear on the shore of the first of the Vermilion Lakes, it was cold and dark. I wanted to be there early to catch Jupiter and Venus in the eastern sky before it brightened too much. The pair, with Mars less visible to the left, were directly above Mount Rundle’s peak when I arrived.
As the horizon brightened the stars faded while color started to creep into the clouds. The lake was frozen with a thin cover of ice which gave abstract reflections of the sky and the silhouettes across the water.
(Please click on any image to see a higher resolution version)
Early sunshine brought a cloud to life as it stretched and broke up over Mount Rundle. Before long, bright pink strands hung above the Bow Valley. It was a beautiful morning and I loved watching it build from darkness into light.
The pink softened quickly and pastels held the sky until the sun blew away the soft hues of the early morning.
After a chilly night photographing and then sleeping at the foot of the Athabasca Glacier, I shook off the cold with a cup of tea before getting out of my sleeping bag and taking a look around. It was about 5:30 am when I was up and the blues and whites in the sky and on the mountains were lovely as they waited for the sun to light them up.
The image above was made at 5:47 am and less than 10 minutes later, the pink sunlight of dawn was splashing the upper reaches of the mountains on either side of the glacier. It was beautiful and I took turns between watching the light move across the slopes and trying to remember to photograph.
I started where the light first reached along Parker Ridge and Hilda Peak on the western side of the Sunwapta Pass, then worked to the right watching as Mount Athabasca and Mount Andromeda were hit with shafts of light here and there.
I panned across the Athabasca Glacier towards the Dome Glacier and saw the light show unfolding there a couple of minutes behind my location. I ran to my car and drove to a viewpoint where I could see up the valley to the glacier and up to the peak of Mount Kitchener (the first image in this post). It proved to be a good move and I was able to watch the sunlight as it transitioned from pink into gold.
When the golden hue started to drain out of the light, I packed up and headed north towards Jasper. A couple of kilometres down the road, I noticed this peak still basking in beautiful light. I stopped and made this last image of a fine morning in the Rocky Mountains.
An early morning east of Calgary near Strathmore looking for Snowy owls came up with only one shy one isolated in a field. This allowed time to see the prairie landscape. And, as it has turned out, one of the last days before the warm weather of the past couple of weeks came and melted all of the snow. While I’m not missing the bitter cold, I did enjoy the icy air and snow-covered fields when I was out then.
The early light worked well with a few interesting clouds hanging above Elbow Falls on the day I was up there this weekend. The soft pink ahead of sunrise shared the sky with the waning full moon early. As the clouds turned to a deep peach color I moved just above the waterfall. From there the reflections of colour on the excited water were beautiful and I watched the morning open up.
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)
That went by quick. Seems like things are speeding up and 2012 went by in a flash. I reviewed a large set of landscapes from the past year and it was fun to recall those moments. But, I was a little surprised that a year has gone by since I pulled together a list of my favourites from 2011. I suppose I have little control over how quickly time rolls – I will just continue to try to stuff as much into it as we go. Before I move with my camera forward into 2013, here are some images of mine that stood out for me from 2012.
The mountains in the Albertan parts of the Rockies pulled me close many times over the year. I really enjoyed photographing Mount Kidd from a new location in the fall. Above, the reflecting pools along Highway 40 just past Wedge Pond were a new place for me. And I enjoyed a couple of mornings down along the shoreline of Wedge Pond with the image below resulting from one beautiful morning.
I also was pleased with the images I put together from Banff, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Jasper as well. The photograph of Lake Louise’s canoe cabin is subtle and is a vein of imagery that I am continuing to work in.
The view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks from the top of the rock moraine at the near side of Moraine Lake is spectacular – particularly the alpen glow in the morning. This summer I went up in the evening and was rewarded with a different, and equally beautiful, look at sunset.
This hoar-frost on branches stretching out of a small pool in the marsh west of one of the Vermilion Lakes in Banff provided for a nice abstract composition.
I spend a fair amount of time photographing wildlife and landscapes on the prairie. The storms in the summer can be incredible but the clouds this winter have been really inspiring. In the photograph below I watched a dragon form and stretch towards the east to meet the sun. Beautiful colours and great to let imagination have the reins.
Before the snow flew, I was working to photograph the warm autumn sunrises on the fields. When I had these horses approach as the sun cleared the horizon, the image really came together.
The sunrise photography extended west in Bragg Creek and the image below was made along the Cowboy Trail (Highway 22X) just east of the town.
In the summer I joined Bobbi on a journey to Sedona in Arizona. It was my first visit and is a place I was excited to return to as soon as I had returned home. The variety of landscapes in the Coconino National Forest and the time to hike into a few places were great luxuries I enjoyed on the trip.
Cathedral Rock is an iconic subject and it deserves its high standing with artists. Our first day in Sedona we walked along the river to the base of the rock and watched the shadows climb up the red rock. On a hot afternoon, I escaped to the West Fork Trail which meanders up the Oak Creek Canyon. The calm water, lush forest and red rock made many bends in the creek picture worthy and this was my favourite from a productive hike. And there were wonderful butterflies flitting around in one meadow of flowers too.
One of the evenings, I went out to the top of a mesa and photographed the night sky. It was a bit remote so I had the trees, the stars and a few strange sounds in the desert night all to myself. That was another side to Sedona that I was very happy to have experienced.
There were a few other nightscape photo outings through the year but the highlight was photographing the Northern Lights in October. I had missed several good Aurora nights through the summer so I was excited when I got to watch them rolling down from the north for almost two hours.
Later in October I was in Jasper on a wildlife photography trip. The animals were the focus of the week spent driving and hiking along the Icefields Parkway and around Jasper but this gentle scene where snow had just blanketed the valley along the Athabasca River demanded to be photographed (despite some good-natured heckling from my companions).
And in late November our family headed to Kaua’i the northernmost of the populated Hawaiian islands. Time dripped by and we had a great vacation. I had almost too much fun photographing creatures above, on and under the water and those are the images that first came to mind when I was looking back at our visit. However, once I worked through the catalog over the Christmas break, I realized that the landscape images from this year’s trip to the island were solid additions to my Hawaii portfolio.
We stayed a stone’s throw from Nukoli’i Beach on the east shore so the sun rose directly in front of us each morning. I spent a few mornings down on the beach photographing what the ocean delivered with morning sun.
The warm light following the sunrise provided beautiful illumination on the beach and through the waves. One of those places that is easy to spend a whole day shooting, painting or playing at.
We covered a lot of ground during our time in Kaua’i and one of the favourite places for seals, snorkelling, swimming, waves to watch and coastline views was Ke’e Beach on the northern edge of the Na Pali Coast. The last night in Kaua’i we spent at Ke’e and at one point there was a rainbow over the beach when I looked to the east and the mists and violent waves of the Na Pali in winter to the southwest.
A couple of days earlier, the spray kicked up from the waves hitting the rocks rolled up the forested mountainsides to create another magical scene.
An amazing lightning storm over the Hanalei Valley provided the last image for this collection. The rain held off for almost three hours before forcing me into my car and back to the apartment.
Ahead of a stormy sunrise, people were moving along the beach, talking with others and taking photographs. I used a 20 second exposure (with f/16 at ISO 200) with the intent to blur the water and the clouds. When I saw how the people took on an ethereal quality in varying amounts, dependent on how long they stayed in place during the exposure, I played with that idea for a while.
2011 was a good year for my landscape photography as I got into a variety of beautiful scenes and had the opportunity to create some interesting images. Tonquin Valley and Kaua’i stand out in particular and I also enjoyed working through the seasons on the prairie. Here is a large set of photographs which I was happy to add to my portfolio over the past year.
Pink sunlight streaked across the ceiling of clouds and painted the tips of The Ramparts in Jasper National Park’s Tonquin Valley.
The warm light of late afternoon in the Tonquin Valley wrapped around the mountains and the clouds just ahead of dusk. A polarizer allowed me to play with the reflection and transparency of different parts of Amethyst Lake and I loved how this image ended up.
I seem to have an addiction for this weathered log and this view across the Vermilion Lakes towards Mount Rundle. The hot springs that trickle into the lake open a large hole in the ice in the winter revealing the chaotic patterns of grass, sand and rock underneath.
I’m sure I’ll continue to work in this location again this year.
The Elbow Falls are in Kananaskis not too far from my home in Bragg Creek. I tour up there regularly throughout the year. Photographing the area in winter is a favourite when the ice and snow layer more patterns on the textures in the rock and running water.
I found this interesting chunk of ice just above the falls. I played with the shutter speed until I found a balance that I liked between the movement and energy in the water and the repeating patterns in the ice.
A late snowstorm in my backyard was illuminated by sunlight that broke through the clouds for a minute.
Noctilucent clouds high in the atmosphere are lit up by the sun creating this amazing midnight scene. I was driving back from a late landscape shoot and had to stop and was happy to set everything up again. I had not seen a sky like this before and haven’t since. Thank you to Olivier Du Tré for identifying what these clouds are – until he corrected me, I had thought they were a strange incarnation of the Aurora Borealis. Note: please do click on Olivier’s link and visit his site, his photography is high art.
A weekend at a friend’s cabin on Buffalo Lake, east of Red Deer, found me on the beach with a chair during a gentle slide into night.
A storm threatening rain and lightning curled and stretched above the prairie in Springbank, west of Calgary, Alberta.
A broken fence caught my eye on one of Bragg Creek’s back roads and led me into this forest which had the best of autumn’s colours on display.
Wedge Pond, along the Kananaskis Trail (Alberta Provincial Highway 40), captured my heart for the month where summer gave way to autumn. The classic shot is with Mount Kidd reflected in the calm water but I found opportunities for beautiful images from many locations all around the lake and the surrounding hills. This image shows Fortress Mountain reflected in the pond surrounded by fog and the autumn colors. Another magical spot I’m looking forward to heading back to soon.
…And, I could not escape the siren’s call of the classic reflection of Kidd under alpen glow before sunrise in the calm water on Wedge Pond.
There were a few sunrises over the prairies that I was amazed to be in the middle of this fall. The light was delicate and warm, washing over the fields and sharing an incredible glow. Here, in Springbank along Highway 8, the red landscape contrasted beautifully with the blues and purples in the sky.
Frank Lake is near High River and is an important staging ground for bird migrations in the spring and fall. Waiting for one of the flocks to launch off the water, I was enchanted by this abstracted landscape with the steam rising off of the lake and the more subtle elements which define the prairies for me. Namely, clouds, sky, farmsteads and long horizons.
Anticipating that winter would be attacking Alberta with frigid temperatures and heavy snow, we booked a December trip to Hawaii’s garden island, Kaua’i. The winter was, and remains, fairly mild but we had no regrets spending a great stretch of days on the coast, in the ocean and up along the ridges of this wonderful place. The images above and below are from separate sunrises from a stretch of shoreline just north of Kapa’a on Kaua’i’s east coast.
Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and is worthy of as much time as you can spend there. On our way back down from the Kalalau Valley overlook along the Koke’e Road (Highway 550) the clouds rushing across the western slopes of the island were lit up by the evening sun with some light reflecting off of the asphalt for a little extra detail.
On our last evening in Kaua’i, Bobbi and I hiked a little north of Ke’e Beach and enjoyed the many faces of the Na Pali coast leading up to and following sunset.
Almost an hour after sunset, a long exposure revealed the colours still present in the sky over Hanalei Bay and further along the coast towards Bali Hai.
The collision of incoming waves hitting those rebounding off of the vertical cliffs sent sprays of water 60 or more feet into the air. With the sun filtering through the water droplets, a beautiful image was there for the making.
Shortly after the sun set into the ocean, the fading light took on a green hue. I have heard about that but it was the first time I seen it. The light changed from warm yellows and oranges to green quickly. I was very surprised how quickly it changed again to the purple hues of late evening in the tropics.
Thank you for wandering through a few of the places I dug my tripod legs into over the past year.