Sunlit Coyote on the Prairies
Driving along Springbank’s backroads, west of Calgary, I found this coyote touring through a field as a storm cleared and the sun had just broken through. Very nice light in the early evening off this resident of the Prairie.
The coyote watched me suspiciously for a minute and then trotted off, heading north across the field.
The last glimpse had her looking towards the west and staying very wide of a farm on the top of the hill.
Autumn on the Saskatchewan Prairie
Fall came later to the Prairies of eastern Alberta and Saskatchewan than it did around Bragg Creek. We drove out through Medicine Hat and on to Gull Lake a couple of weekends ago to visit my wife’s grandparents. It was nice to fit in a bit more fall photography along the way.
Small hills break up the prairie fields near the Saskatchewan – Alberta border.
Motel sign at a truck stop along Highway 1, the Trans Canadian Highway, at the Highway 21 intersection in Saskatchewan near Maple Creek.
The prairie landscape blurs by from my view in the passenger’s seat near Gull Lake.
Red Rock Coulee on the Prairie in Southeastern Alberta
I was visiting family in Saskatchewan over the Thanksgiving Weekend and we stayed in Medicine Hat last night. This morning, my dad and I went left the hotel in darkness, heading for Red Rock Coulee, about an hour’s drive south of The Hat. The rocks giving the area its name have beautiful color and textures to match their unusual shape and size.
The coulee is part of a gently sloping hill that rises well above the plains to the south and the west affording a view across the prairies to Montana and Alberta. Along with the elevated position came a steady wind which pulled in heavy rain to accompany the grey clouds stretched across the sky. The wet rocks were a treat to photograph, which made up for the uninspiring sunrise (flat and grey).
It could be a Canadian rock band but here I am talking about a duotone process for creating black and white images of a moose I photographed yesterday.
Lately I have been experimenting with using the split toning controls to replace my black and white conversion workflow. The slightly metallic look appeals to me and I like the dimensionality that I can create using this technique. I have applied this technique to people and landscapes and wanted to try it on a wildlife subject. This moose looked great among the warm fall colors so it was fun to take that starting point and try to create a different feel to the images.
The specific process I follow starts in Adobe Lightroom’s Develop module but is applicable to Photoshop or any other editing program where you can set the colors. First I zero out the import settings so that I am starting with the unaltered RAW file and then I build the image following these are the steps to create this look.
Split Tone Color:
I like to set my highlight color to a shade between gold and silver (in LR I adjust the hue and saturation to get the tone I like). For the shadows, I set the color to some shade between blue and grey.
I apply an S curve and then tweak it to find the balance of shadow and highlight that works for me on that image.
Next, I adjust the Blacks, Fill, Clarity and Exposure to find the final look that I am looking for.
To finish I, like many, apply any noise reduction and sharpening that I feel adds to the image. I don’t use either very much but here with the fine detail in the moose’s coat, I found raising the sharpening amount and detail added to my enjoyment of the images.
Usually I have a pretty good idea of what I want the image to look like with this technique but a change to the tone colors or the mix of settings can make a surprising change to the feel of the image.
Mule deer in the backyard
A young doe sauntered out of the forest and into our backyard this morning. She was in no hurry to pass through as she found a few flowers around our deck that were still available.
We have a small herd of mule deer that stay close to the community year round. It’s always great to see one of the family come around for a visit – even if they always dine and dash.
Warm Autumn Light
I was in Calgary this morning and took a little time to shoot in the warm light as the sun came up over the horizon.
As I’ve written before, amazing colours this autumn.
A really spectacular sunrise pulled me off the road on the way into Calgary this morning.
These photographs were made east of Bragg Creek along Highway 8 in Springbank, Alberta.
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.
Edges of the day at Elbow Falls
I have been up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis a couple of times over the last while. It is a beautiful spot and it had been a few months since I spent any serious time up there with my camera so I’ve enjoyed these outings immensely.
This image was made well after sunset using a tripod, a long exposure and a bit of light painting on the water. I went crazy over the moonlight reflecting in the water, it has such an incredible tone to it.
I took the following photograph this morning with the falls at my back, looking east towards the brightening sky. I waited to see how the morning light would develop ahead of the rising sun and was rewarded with some clouds that moved in from the west and caught the early light.
The Tsuu T’ina First Nations Rodeo
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s reserve lands run on both sides of Highway 22x, The Cowboy Trail, as you approach Bragg Creek from the east. Every year, the band holds a Rodeo and Pow Wow in July at their Beaverdome and rodeo grounds across the road from the Redwood Meadows Golf Course.
The event is attended by nations from all across North America. The rodeo is a major pull for competitors and fans alike. Drawing on a rich history of horsemanship and true cowboy toughness, these men and women put on an exciting, unpredictable and truly enjoyable show.
Here is a sequence showing a great ride ending with a hard, hard landing…
… I spoke to this gentleman afterwards where he had missed a full ride by less than a second. He told me he almost had him and all he wanted to do was get back on tomorrow. Awesome! Pretty mean looking horse too.
I stayed late on Saturday night, with the sun leaving us in twilight, a moon drifting higher in the east and the bulls seeming to gain the upper hand over the would be riders. It was a relief at the end, as there were a couple of bad tramples. There may have been a couple of broken bones but not many moans. It has been said how tough cowboys are and watching a bull stomp on a rider’s knee or chest, that comes to light in the aftermath.
The breath holding eased as the last of the riders made their way off the dirt. Giving room for the beauty of the area and a great sporting event to take back center stage in the minds of the crowd as we shuffled out of the grandstands.
I already can’t wait for next year’s rodeo (July 22-24). If you can make it, you will have a great time and meet some wonderful people.
Great Blue Herons at Wild Rose
This great blue heron returns to this small lake on the eastern edge of Kananaskis near Bragg Creek. The great blue is the largest heron in North America. They can stand over 4 feet tall with a wingspan just shy of 7 feet. Very graceful to watch in flight and their takeoffs and landings are performances.
This year it has a mate so I’m keeping my eye out for young ones. It would be great to see this pair grow to be a small rookery in the next couple of years.
I first photographed these birds in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. I still think it is special every time I see them right near my home.
Whitetail Deer in Bragg Creek
The cloudy mornings over the weekend created very even, diffused light around the backroads of West Bragg Creek. I was out with the family enjoying the scenery and we came across a lot of whitetail deer. Some young lone males, mothers with one or two babies and a few older groups of twos and threes.
Very nice light to photograph these beautiful animals in. They and their cousins, the mule deer, are very common around Bragg Creek but I can’t imagine getting tired of seeing them.