Posts tagged “Prairies

A Black Diamond rainbow

A couple of weeks ago my son spied this rainbow as it arched out of a storm cloud rolling over the prairies east of Black Diamond.  I am very glad he did!


Snowy flight over the Prairie

I found this snowy owl perched along a forgotten fence line north of Lyalta (which is east of Calgary).  After a trek across the field to get to about 60 meters away, I leaned against a post and waited.  I set my exposure so that I would have a slower shutter speed at the start.  I wanted to show some motion in the wings and estimated that 1/200th of a second would allow for that.  Fifteen minutes later something drew his attention and he launched perpendicular to me and the fence.

 

I had two nice images of him flying towards the sun before he was past me.  The first had a soft blur in the wings as they were near level.  The other caught the wings at their full extension upwards.  Both images kept the head sharp so luck played to my hand when I was panning with the bird.  The shutter speed worked out well.  I continue to try slower speeds but have yet to nail one of those with a sharp face.  I will share those when I do.


My favourite landscape photographs from 2017

It was fun to look back over the past year’s photographs recently and recall the story behind them.  I’ve created a gallery of my favorite images you can check out here (or click on any image to open that page in a new window).  I moved in new directions with my landscape work which, through trial and error, yielded some work I really like.

I practiced a technique where I change the focal length (zoom) the lens during a long exposure which creates a variety of effects that I have had great fun exploring.

I walked into some of my images, to provide scale in some and interest in others, which I want to continue to explore and build on.  I also hope my children will join me for some of those in the coming year – if I can wake them up early enough!

I had a lot of fun scrambling around valleys and peaks in Banff and Kananaskis.  I wanted to hike more in the warmer months and was happy with the images I made from those outings to new locations.  I photographed through many nights along the lakes there and enjoyed seeing these amazing places under the stars.  I have always loved the mountains and that love continues to deepen.

A trip to the Palouse in Washington in May was a definite highlight.  The agricultural geometry laid over the rolling hills is beautiful.  Exploring the area and searching for interesting compositions filled a long weekend and a couple of memory cards.

Excursions on the Prairies, searching for snowy owls in winter and a long list of other birds in the other seasons, were regular for me in 2017.  These are often solitary travels for me and I find the landscape imagery often reflects that.  Lone subjects, standing as islands on endless fields, stand defiant under the massive skies in one image and vulnerable in the next.  I have much more that I want to create out there in this new year.

There were many pieces of last year that bring a smile when reflecting back.  And a few that well some tears up.  They combined to make for a good year.  For me, this gallery reflects that.  Thank you for following the visual journey I share here.


An autumn sunset in the sky

Sunset in the sky over Springbank © Christopher Martin-0767

The sky in late October near the Rocky mountains often serves as a fantastic canvas for clouds, wind and sunshine to paint as they mix, blend and tear apart.  I live on the eastern flank of the Rockies and am fortunate to be able to see a fair number of these beautiful collisions.  This one was just before sunset in the third week of October on a recently paved country road off of Highway 8 between Bragg Creek and Calgary.


My first night with the Northern Lights this fall

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September closed out with several strong Northern Lights displays that reached down to southern Alberta.  I was happy to make it out to the Foothills to photograph in the middle of the night for two of them.  These images are from the first foray which started around 11:30pm and continued rippling when I finally headed home around 2am on the 26th.

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The clouds seemed to move in slow motion and picked up the glow from Cochrane differently as the night progressed.  Above, the aurora’s color palette shifted into pastels.  A few of the later images reminded me of cotton candy and were fantastic to watch slowly ripple then fade away.  I imagined these were tie-dyed waves rolling in both over the pond but also the sky they were reflecting.

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Ursa Major and its Big Dipper were constant companions in the sky behind the dancing lights.  The stars would run in and out of the clouds, hiding at times and burning brightly at other times.  There was good magic to watch throughout.

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A coyote’s stroll across the fields

Coyote on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-2016

The warm February in southern Alberta has melted most of the snow on the Prairies.  This has made traveling over the fields much easier for wildlife.  Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen deer, elk, moose and coyotes on the grasslands near my home west of Calgary.

Coyote on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-1966

This coyote was hunting a little bit as she paralleled the TransCanada Highway near Springbank.  I hoped for a pounce but she was more focused on distance than hunger it seemed.

Coyote on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-2033

Coyote on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-2026

After she crossed an off ramp, she paused to stare in my direction before moving on.

Coyote on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-2000

I left at that point, not wanting to spook her and make her hurry across Highway 22.  I stopped a kilometre or so down the road and watched her wait for a quiet moment.  When that came she ran across the pavement and into another field.


Fox kits playing tug-of-war

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1579

At one point when I photographed a family of foxes in May, there was a ragged piece of cloth which served for a long-running tug-of-war at one point in the evening.

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1568

These three kits were the main players and they alternated between 1 on 1 and 1 on 2 battles.

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1467

For a while, a fourth looked interested in joining but they didn’t join in for very long.

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1451


Fox faces

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-1390

The fox pups, properly called kits, were playful and energetic when I spent an evening watching them.  In the moments between, and even during, the hectic activity, they flashed some beautiful looks.  I was really happy to be able to freeze a few of these.

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0875

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0775

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0950

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0883

The sun fell under the clouds late in the evening and provided a warm, buttery light to end the day.  That was special for a guy with a camera!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-1334

 

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-1394

Fox kits on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-1736


Prairie landscapes

Prairie ghost light - © Christopher Martin-0264

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.

Lonely Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-9963

Broke down - © Christopher Martin-0344

Backlight on the prairie - © Christopher Martin-9940


A sentinel on the Prairie

A sentinel on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0331-3

I spent one morning this weekend on the prairies north of Strathmore around Bruce Lake.  This trip along the backroads came in between two chinooks and there was a thin blanket of snow that had fallen the day before to cover the land in white.  I had not explored this area previously and when I saw this tree framed by the broken down fence line, I was happy I to have come this way.  I can only imagine the vignettes that have played out in front of this gnarled trunk over many years.


The setting of a supermoon

 

Supermoon setting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Moonset of the latest supermoon coincided with dawn last weekend.  I was photographing the prairie landscape and climbed up to a spot where I had a bit of elevation in order to look over the fields and be somewhat on level with the Rockies.  The mist laying low over the fields was a lucky bit of happenstance.


Sunset across the prairies

Winter sunset - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/45 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

A few days ago, the clouds were anchored along the eastern edge of the Rockies all afternoon and I was not sure how the sunset would develop.  Well, I guess I was sure that the winter sun would go down early and fast but what the light would do was the question.

Cloud fire - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/70 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

I found myself on the edge of Springbank, west of Calgary, at 5:30 and the clouds had stretched east across the prairies and were catching and filtering the rich glow from the sun now hidden behind the mountains.

Up to darkness - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/50 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

It was a scene that didn’t require much input from me to create images.  I did like the reflections on my car’s glass and hood so that provided an opportunity to play around a bit.

A thin slice of sunset - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/60 of a second at f/11 on ISO 800

Sunset reflected - 2014 © Christopher MartinFuji X100S with fixed 23mm lens: 1/40 of a second at f/8 on ISO 1600

Bobbi and I are off to Sedona, Arizona tomorrow for a week – this landscape session provided a nice warm-up for the spectacular red rock scenery I’m looking forward to photographing down there.