Posts tagged “photography

Flying low on the prairies

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I spent a morning on the prairies between Irricana and Langdon this weekend.  I met up with my good friend, and fellow photographer, Jeff Rhude in Delacour and continued east from there to see what we could find.  We were looking for owls and an hour before sunrise, we made out three individuals perched in different locations.  It was much too dark to photograph with any reasonable expectation of making a good image.  To us, their presence boded well for later, when the day was much brighter.  A glowing sunrise welcomed the day and after photographing that for a little bit, we began combing the fields and fence posts for snowy owls.  The ones seen in the pre-dawn gloom were nowhere to be found but several kilometres away we did find this one standing on the snow in a field.

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The snowy took flight and let the wind push her eastward, across the road in front of us, until she landed on a fence post.  She did not stay there long before diving into the snow on the far side of a frozen pond.  That was a bit too far to see if she caught something but it looked like she did.

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Soon after she jumped off the snow again and flew low over the ground before rising up enough to clear the fenceline.

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That flight took her up to the gate of a compressor station.  We photographed her for another three hours afterwards.  I’ll cover that in my next post.

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Holiday sledding at night

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7072

With the Christmas holiday in full swing around our house now, the kids and I went out night sledding on the 23rd.  The snow had started falling early that morning and kept going all day.  We went out earlier but had the most fun in the evening.

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7076

Kian had the idea to take some photos and I was onboard.  A drag of the shutter (1/10th – 1/6th of a second) with a flash of 1/200th of a second to create some motion blur while freezing the kids in action.

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7043

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7104

I played around as they sped down the great little hill just off our back yard.  They eagerly collaborated with the images – looking at the screen after each run to see what worked and what didn’t.

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7066

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7130

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7038

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7075

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7039

We had a blast – a great way for a daddy to spend Christmas Eve’s eve with his daughter and son 🙂


Barred owl: a little curious, a lot shy

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It was May of this year when I saw my first Barred owl in Bragg Creek.  I’ve lived here for ten years and spent a lot of time in the forests so it was a real thrill to find a new (to me) species in the area.  In late October, another one was waiting for me as I was walking in the woods along the edge of Kananaskis Country.  This time, the owl watched me intently for a few seconds, scanned the ground for prey for a few more and then repeated that for a couple of minutes while I watched and snapped a few images.  Eventually the owl flew a short distance away but they blend into this type of forest so well that I lost sight with the next glide that followed.  A beautiful creature.

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Bear scratching in Yellowstone

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Update: Following friendly inquiries by Morgan and John, I had a closer look at my photos of this bear and agree this is a female and not a male.  I always appreciate comments, corrections and questions – thank you both!  I have corrected the text below to refer to her rather than him (anthropomorphic license to some but one I consistently prefer to take).

I made my first foray into Yellowstone National Park last May and enjoyed exploring new terrain – of which there is much and varied.  The wildlife was abundant and I was lucky to have several encounters with bears that were fantastic.  One of these was with this Black bear in the Tower-Roosevelt area.  She had emerged into this clearing from a sheer cliff that leads down to the Yellowstone River (I would have loved to watch her scramble up the bank!)  She shook herself out as she walked across wet morning grass and stopped under this tree.  From the worn out ground under the tree, I think she and other bears frequent this spot often.  The bear raised up on her hind legs and proceeded to enjoy a back scratching session for a couple of minutes.

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With that important morning exercise completed, she shuffled through the grass munching on wildflowers before scrambling over a haphazard collection of fallen tree trunks.  The bear’s small vale was just below a river viewpoint pullout so she had drawn a large crowd by this point.  I enjoyed the quieter time earlier and left while she was still grazing amongst the deadfall.

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Bear play

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On our last day in Jasper, Kian and I went for a walk along Pyramid Lake that morning.  It was the first weekend of September so it was cool with a bit of mist on the water and the autumn colors were just starting to come in.  We headed back to town around 9am and spotted a Black bear in the open forest above the road.

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One bear soon became two when the other stepped out from behind a dense clump of Buffalo berries.  The berries were ripe at that time so the bears had been drawn in.  At first we thought they were a mother and cub but when they were side by side, and then when they were wrestling, we could see they were both the same size.

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To me, they seemed like they were near adults and given their play fighting I think they are siblings that are still hanging out together.  Whether related or not, they seemed to enjoy each other’s company and stayed close to each other as they munched through the patches of berries along the hillside.

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First day back to school

First day of school - © Christopher Martin-1477

It was a busy morning getting ready for the first day of school in time for the bus this morning.  Bobbi did a great job having everything planned out for the kids so it wasn’t chaos.  Kezia is super excited to get back to class to see her friends and get Grade 3 started.

First day of school - © Christopher Martin-1478

Kian and Bobbi are embarking on a home schooling adventure this year which will be amazing for both of them.

First day of school - © Christopher Martin-1506

Kian is very excited about the opportunity to dive deep into subjects and be more in control of where his efforts are placed.

First day of school - © Christopher Martin-1496

Both the kids are excited about each other’s path this year.

First day of school - © Christopher Martin-1523

It was fun to photograph them together, and get one with Kezia and I (thank you Bobbi), before she got on the bus to get her year started.

First day of school - © Christopher Martin-1533

 


The Banff National Park through my son’s eyes

Banff in the Bow Valley - © Kian Martin-3389

Kian and I spent a great day in the Banff National Park last week.  We met my parents, his grandparents, in Banff and divided the day between the Gondola that runs up Sulphur Mountain and the Lake Minnewanka boat cruise.  It was a lot of fun touring with my son and my parents.  Here is a recap – I have used Kian’s photographs to illustrate the day.

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3499

When we got started, Kian asked me if he could use one of my cameras.  The answer was, and always is, yes.  We then spent big chunks of the day photographing away.  This was one of the first times where he has really wanted to spend time doing it and I was happy to join him.

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3445

From the top of the gondola, we walked up to Sanson’s Peak and found Golden-mantled ground squirrels all around plus a couple of Hoary marmots on the rocks.  Kian picked out these creatures and angled for good spots to shoot them (with a camera).

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3485

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the run- © Kian Martin-3486

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on Sanson's Peak - © Kian Martin-3497

On the water, we covered the length of the lake and Kian made some very nice landscape images along the way.  Coming back, he started experimenting with the reflection of his camera in the window against the scenery beyond.  These were some of my favourites from his set.  When droplets settled on the glass towards the end of the trip, he turned his attention to them framed with the mountains.  Those joined my list of favourites too – great vision and creativity.

Minnewanka's emerald waters - © Kian Martin 2016 -3503

The east end of Lake Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3555

Photographing Lake Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3558

Photographing Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3560

Photographing the mountains from Minnewanka - © Kian Martin-3577

The next day, we spent a couple of hours post processing his work.  It was fantastic!  I love the way he sees things and creates images.  I’m a one trick pony and didn’t do much more than photographing through the day.  Kian however was also the safety model for the flotation device, shared ecological knowledge about the forest along the lake and took a turn piloting the boat.

Kian in the photobooth - © Christopher Martin-3518

Piloting Minnewanka - © Christopher Martin-3569

After the boat ride, my parents headed back to Cochrane and Kian and I waded in the water for a bit – right up until our legs went numb!  We then went down the Johnson Lake road to see if the Buffalo berries were ripe and drawing in any bears.  They were and they did!  We saw a Black bear and a Grizzly.

Johnson Lake Black bear - © Kian Martin-3598

After all of that excitement, we headed for home.  Dusk came quickly and we decided to pull off of the Trans-Canada Highway and drive up the Sibbald Creek Trail to find a spot to photograph the sunset for a few minutes.  We found a small lake close to the road and this was Kian’s final picture from a great day.  An absolutely wonderful landscape image and one we both agreed was among his best (so far).

Sunset from the Sibbald Creek Trail - © Kian Martin-3641

He is a competent young man intent on trying out new things – I am exceptionally happy for him about the person he is choosing to become.  And, I am very proud of him.

 


After the Osprey’s plunge

Osprey in the Bow River - © Christopher Martin-3235

The pair of Ospreys I photographed in the Banff National Park a couple of weeks ago spent most of the afternoon with her on the nest and him perched high in trees over the Bow River.  I waited a couple of hours for one of them to dive into the water for a fish.

Osprey on the Bow River - © Christopher Martin-3207

It happened once, and it was fast.  I missed the descent and the initial contact with the water.  That bugged me but I got locked in once he surfaced.

Osprey in the Bow River - © Christopher Martin-3227

I hoped to see a fish in his clutches but when his talons were out of the water and visible, there was no such luck – for them or me.  It was interesting to watch the lifting into the air so I was not dismayed in any real way.

Osprey in the Bow River - © Christopher Martin-3231-2

Flying past me, I waited to see where the next perch would be. I wanted to see if I would continue to be in a good location for the next dive.  The Osprey had other ideas, and flew upriver, disappearing around a bend several hundred metres away.  I watched that bend for a little while, in case there was a return flight, but ended the day shortly after that and headed home.

Osprey in the Bow River - © Christopher Martin-3267


Kezia and Finnegan

Kezia with a River otter at the Calgary Zoo - © Christopher Martin-2103

On the weekend, my children and I visited the Calgary Zoo for the better part of a day.  We used to go frequently when they were younger but it had been a couple of years since we went together.  We had a really great time there with a number of fun moments watching the animals and having fun with each other.  When we visited the river otters, Kezia had this wonderful interaction with Finnegan, the son of the other two otters.   The otters are so curious, which matches Kezia perfectly, so when he saw her at the glass he swam by performing spins and rolls.  When she put her finger against the window, he followed it around to her great delight.  Two beautiful creatures sharing a little time together.


Spread eagle

Livingstone Eagles - © Christopher Martin-5920

With the steady wind that was blowing, this near-mature Bald eagle only had to open its massive wing to take flight.  With the ~2 metre wingspan it easily glided over to a neighbouring tree where a couple other eagles were perched.  It was another great weekend on the high Prairie east of Lundbreck watching eagles.


A Bald eagle’s Prairie flight

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3331

Watching birds in flight is a source of great pleasure for me.  Perhaps it’s the freedom I imagine they enjoy (written just as two ravens glided by my window, acrobatically playing on the air currents outside) or the grace that many of them carry into the sky.  When I have the gift of watching them close to the ground, it gives a different perspective and one that I particularly enjoy photographing.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3315

So when two of the four bald eagles that watched for quite a while on the weekend glided off of their tree perch and landed out on the field nearby, I was excited.  I had hoped they may dive on the prairie dogs as they passed by.  They did not, it seemed that an alert had gone up as the little creatures were nowhere to be seen at that moment, and they alighted in the short grass.  They chirped a little at each other but it seemed like they were just enjoying the sunshine as they stood in their respective spots for close to ten minutes.  The adolescent launched first – I wanted to blur the wings in flight so I dragged my shutter.  I’m still evaluating those results – we’ll see another day if I think they are worth sharing.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3316

When the mature eagle lifted off the Prairie, I kept the shutter speed fast to freeze the motion and panned with the beautiful bird as it powerfully drove past.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3321

When it buzzed a magpie that had also been sitting in the field, that bird flew up and in front of the eagle for a short ways.  The eagle’s eyes were on this diminutive cousin of the raven and the crow but it was undeterred as it flew back towards its small convocation.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3329

As it gained a little altitude, I liked the way the elements in the background looked in soft focus.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3339

At one moment during this short flight it did look down at the field at one point – again raising my hopes of a dive – but nothing like that came of it.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3345

Both eagles rejoined the other two that had remained in the tree.  They all remained there for an hour before hunting over the fields individually later.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3581


A few more of the Burmis pine tree

Burris Tree and highway lights - © Christopher Martin-0241-2

When I photographed the Burmis tree, a limber pine that was between 600 and 750 years old when it died in the 1970s, I circled it a couple of times.  It presented very different looks as I moved around which was great fun to photograph.  I wanted to share a few of the ones I liked from this stop on the edge of the Crowsnest Pass.

Burmis Tree - © Christopher Martin-0245

Please note: those familiar with the Burmis tree will note that in three of images, and the image in the previous post, I have removed the metal pole that supports the long lower branch that extends away perpendicularly from the main trunk.  I rarely edit out things in my landscape photographs but I find that pole to be quite distracting.  It is necessary given that someone cut the branch in 2004 and nearby residents re-attached the limb and needed the pole to support the weight.  I am grateful they did this work but used some artistic license to create the final images as I imagined them.

A lone sentinel - © Christopher Martin-0261

Clouds from the west slowly advanced as I scrambled around, at first only hiding the stars but then dragging rain into the scene.  Sometimes that can make things more interesting photographically but at that late hour and with the wind picking up sharply, I soon packed up and carried on to Fernie.  I did have almost as much time as I wanted there so the weather’s turn was a nice push to get moving.

Burris Tree in black and white - © Christopher Martin-0230