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.
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.
Soon after she jumped off the snow again and flew low over the ground before rising up enough to clear the fenceline.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We had a blast – a great way for a daddy to spend Christmas Eve’s eve with his daughter and son 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kian and Bobbi are embarking on a home schooling adventure this year which will be amazing for both of them.
Kian is very excited about the opportunity to dive deep into subjects and be more in control of where his efforts are placed.
Both the kids are excited about each other’s path this year.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.