Posts tagged “snowstorm

Forest flights in a snowstorm

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4970

A snowstorm hit Bragg Creek last weekend quickly draping the area in white and pushing the temperature way down.  I caught sight of this owl along a familiar stretch of open forest divided by a gravel road.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4954

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4968

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4972

It was a steep challenge keeping sharp focus as she flew through the trees and with the heavy snowfall but I had a great hour or so watching her and trying to keep up.  I ended up with many in-focus tree, out-of-focus owl shots but when it worked out the other way around there were some interesting images.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4916

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4914

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5159

When I did return to my car, it did take a few minutes for my fingers to thaw – that’s always painful but quickly forgotten.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5244
She was very successful during the time I watched her.  Three field mice were the first courses for breakfast from five silent descents into the tall grass.  When time allows, I will share a few of those action shots in another photo story here.


Alces alces in a Kananaskis snowstorm

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As dawn broke on a recent morning when I was up in Kananaskis, the skies were leaden and threatening to drop some form of precipitation.  It was cold and windy so it seemed an open question whether it would be rain, snow or a frozen mix of the two.  The weather foiled my plans for a sunrise shoot of Mount Kidd but made it an easy decision to drive further up the valley into the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  I passed a few White-tailed deer but did not see much else on the way up.  Apparently I had an appointment (unbeknownst to me at the time) with this wonderful family of moose.  They were standing around this marsh in plain view beside the turn off of the Kananaskis Lakes Trail up to the Upper Lake’s parking lot and trailhead.

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The calf stayed close to her mom but was not very shy.  Staring at me several times to satisfy her curiosity about what I was and whether I was something of interest or not.  The bull was hidden within a few trees at first so it was a great surprise when I saw his antlers first come into sight.

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When a snowplow passed by, its scoop loudly grinding against the asphalt, the young one was startled and ran a little ways off from the roadside.  Mom followed and they munched along as they slowly headed into the forest.

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The bull was a magnificent creature.  Healthy and very confident, neither the vehicles nor my presence made any impression on him.  He kept his eyes on any activity around him but was focused on grazing.  I watched him for the next hour as he moved between trees, bogs and little fields.  Their ability to blend in and disappear, despite their size, was observed many times and always surprises me.

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The storm’s intensity ebbed and flowed through the morning and the snow followed accordingly.  At times falling hard, at times almost stopping completely.  Along with adjusting the camera settings to drag the shutter and blur the snow’s motion or freeze the flakes in action, it was a great setting to photograph these moose in.

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The bull kept an eye on the family as they went into the trees and eventually followed them away from the marsh.  The encounter ended shortly thereafter but I would not ask for anything more.  It was a great day in Kananaskis.

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Snowstorm silhouettes

Snowstorm silhouettes in Kananaskis Country - © Christopher Martin-0890

I love the abstract quality that snowstorms can bring to landscape.  A heavy snowfall in Kananaskis near the Highwood Pass changed the treeline into softened silhouettes.  The scene was suggestive of charcoal sketches I still enjoy drawing.


Snow… already?

September Snowfall - © Christopher Martin-9686

It was 27°C (81°F) on Sunday in Bragg Creek and we enjoyed a wonderful summer day.  Monday was an altogether different story.  It dropped to 0°C (32°F) overnight and freezing rain turned to snow before noon.  By the afternoon the fields towards Calgary were white and in Redwood Meadows, the tree boughs were weighed down by a thick blanket of snow.

September Snowfall - © Christopher Martin-9707

The forecast indicates that this unseasonal (though far from unheard of in these parts) weather will not last long.  By next weekend, we should be over 20°C again – here’s hoping!


One more return to winter in Banff

Snowstorm on Banff Avenue 2014 © Christopher Martin

The snow returned for a weekend long storm.  I was in Banff for a night and this was the town on Saturday morning.  Heavy snow then and more since then.

Waiting at the bus stop - 2014 © Christopher Martin

The night before I was out for a walk and a friend at the bus stop suggested a photo of the storm.  The flash lit up the flakes of snow between me and them and illustrate this spring storm’s intensity.

Elk on the edge of Vermilion Lake - 2014 © Christopher Martin

A herd of elk fanned out on the edge of the first Vermilion Lake and, with a slight break in the low cloud, one flank of Mount Rundle came into view to make for a nice scene.


Dark snow

Night snow - 2014 © Christopher Martin

A blizzard swept out of the mountains on the weekend.  The ground had been almost bare but winter felt everyone’s enthusiasm for spring was premature.  The snow fell through the night and in the morning there was almost a foot blanketing the grass, the trees and almost anything else that doesn’t move.  In the middle of the storm, I went outside to watch the snow and enjoy the sound of the huge flakes touching down and watching them tumble through the darkness.


Raven flight

Raven flight - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 70-200mm lens at 200mm: 1/6400th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600

I went out for a long walk in Kananaskis this morning.  Along an old road I hadn’t traveled on before, I was kept company by the heavy snow falling and a lone raven that croaked as I was returning to the trailhead.  I stopped for a few minutes and heard another raven further down the valley that was talking with “my” raven.  This one flew off in that direction and I carried on.


A blizzard and a stream

Winter landscape - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I was walking along a forested stream that runs parallel with the Elbow River where they run under Highway 8 near Discovery Ridge on the western edge of Calgary on Saturday morning.  When the snow started to fall, it took very little time for the flakes to grow in both size and frequency.

In the blizzard - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The trees were soon cloaked in white, leaving the water alone to provide a little colour in the landscape.

Little rapids - 2013 © Christopher Martin

It was quiet with only the sound of the snow falling.  And a serene walk along this tributary to the Elbow River among the trees that edge its length.

The blizzard raven - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Near the end of the walk, a raven flew overhead – the snow visible between us.


Winter chaos

Winter chaos - © Christopher Martin-9847

Winter chaos - © Christopher Martin-9847-3

A few echos of the blizzard from last week blew through since then.  More opportunities to photograph winter storms and with the image above I wanted to show the chaotic aspect often seen when the wind blows and the snow flies.  Click on the image to open a page with a higher resolution version.


Snowstorm through the trees

Snowstorm through the trees - © Christopher Martin-9870

A heavy blizzard blew through southern Alberta on Sunday.  The snow fell throughout the day with the wind keeping pace alongside.  The trees on the edge of Kananaskis Country caught pieces of the storm and twirled the snow around the branches in the evergreens.


Banff Wildlife: Snowstorm Grizzlies

Last weekend, on June 9th, winter crept in a side door and threw some weather at the Rocky Mountains around Banff.  I was hoping to find bears on my drive but wasn’t sure if the snow would convince them to stay hidden deeper in the forests.  Around 8 am the gloom lifted a little after I photographed a young bighorn on the edge of Lake Minnewanka.  I drove back towards Banff, passed a lone elk on the far side of a meadow and merged back onto the Trans-Canada Highway.  I was on the way to Highway 93 which runs down the spine of the Kootenay National Park and is a haven for black bears and grizzly bears at this time of the year.  As I approached the westernmost entrance to the Banff townsite, Vermilion’s siren call beckoned.  I pulled onto the off ramp and then slowly glided along the lakeside road scouring the trees for wildlife.

On the second pass, I found #64 and her three cubs.  The snow was falling in big, wet flakes.  The moisture on the leaves, grass and everything else seemed to create a soft glow which was beautiful.  The bears were only 15 or 20 metres off the road but clean, clear shots were hard to come by.

That didn’t bother me too much as I wanted to show the weather in the images I was making of the bears.  They lingered in that spot for a few minutes and then trundled off, slipping back into the woods.  The next day provided an easier vantage point to photograph this same family from.  However, the image at the top of the post was easily my favourite from the weekend.


The morning brought a snowstorm home…

One of our heavy spring snowstorms started early this morning.  When I woke up I went out for a walk in the forest with these huge snowflakes falling eagerly to the ground.

From yesterday’s sunny day where I was out playing at the park late into the afternoon, it was an abrupt change by any measure.