It seems longer than a month ago when Kian and I went to the Columbia Valley in British Columbia for the Labour Day long weekend.
(please click any image to see a higher resolution version)
We had a great time skateboarding in Invermere, touring around Fairmont and even did a little swimming which was unreasonably cold for the late summer.
Photography wasn’t the focus of our trip but, unsurprisingly, I fit a little in here and there. Easily the best of these was our walk along the narrow channel of the Columbia River where it meets the northern tip of Windermere Lake. We found five kingfishers chattering, flying and occasionally diving along the water.
This juvenile alighted on the pillar near us as we were watching another one flying on the far side of the river. He stayed for several minutes. Drawing a flyby from one kingfisher but mostly left alone to scout for dinner before the sun set.
The thunder and lightning rolled over the prairies several times over the past couple of weeks. On August 1st, I went out to photograph dusk as the smoke from the wildfires has helped create some beautiful evening scenes. The haze thinned after sunset and a large cloud took shape from it as the sky cooled into night.
While the color slipped away, the cloud grew and I caught a flicker of lightning on the northern edge. Rain didn’t fall and the wind never really picked up. However a fork crackled through the air every few minutes for the next couple of hours.
The storm slowly churned east towards Calgary and the open prairie beyond. The trailing edge left behind a clear sky dotted with stars. This last photograph caught the moon illuminating the cloud as it rose.
This lake is near Mont-Tremblant and has a lovely beach where my son and I swam the day before this heavy storm blew through the Laurentian Mountains.
The lightning strikes came in sets, striking the hills across the water. Beside the beach is a pier and a small covered area where I was able to hide from the rain. That afforded a wonderful view of the lake and back towards the vibrant little town. Of course, much of that view was illuminated only by the flashes of lightning – most along the hills across the water but a couple were over the community.
I felt the accompanying thunder from those deep in my chest. Frequently, the wind ripped through the valley and drove the rain horizontally. The temperature dropped fast when the storm approached and stayed cool through the evening. I was glad for the rain gear I had stashed in my pack.
There were occasional stretches where everything calmed down, almost to catch a collective breath, but the storm crashed across the mountains relentlessly otherwise. A proper summer storm by every measure. After a couple of hours, the rain picked up even more and I thought it was well past time to get home.
Smoke from wildfires to the west has brought a haze to the sky around Calgary. That saturated the sun’s appearance as it rose off the horizon. I watched the sunrise at the same time as the moonset from a hill near of Springbank.
A fierce thunderstorm in the Mont-Tremblant area of the Laurentians in Québec last night. Steady sheets of lightning, howling wind and hammering rain accompanied the thunder that rang across the valleys for hours. This photograph was from Lac Mercier just after midnight. When this lightning cracked, it shook the gazebo I was standing under. I left a few minutes later – I’d had enough and the rain that followed shortly afterwards was of an almost biblical level. It was time to get home. I will share a few more from the night soon but my son and I are off to Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill.
The sun has taken on a strange appearance each of the last few evenings. The smoke from the wildfires to the west was thick in the foothills west of Calgary last Thursday when I stopped along Highway 8. The pink globe in the sky drew my attention and, once stopped, I enjoyed watching the small clouds drifting past. This one looked like a dancing bull, or maybe a bison in full stride, as it charged across the sun.
Under mild protest my son and I watched the last half of the evening set of the Tsuu T’ina’s 43rd annual rodeo last night. Kian found a few boys to play kendama with so that bought me a little time to photograph. The sun dropped into some wildfire smoke that laid above the horizon which made for dramatic backlighting. I will share more soon but I’m packing my gear and heading over for Sunday’s short go this afternoon. Here a cowboy lifts the calf into position to fix three of the legs with a half hitch knot to complete his run in the tie-down roping event.
Kezia and I went to the first night of the Tsuu T’ina Nation Annual Celebration’s 43rd Annual Rodeo. Kezia’s friend was dancing in the Pow Wow so we did not stay too long. Definitely looking forward to getting back tonight.
My children and I went down to the Calgary Stampede on Friday for a day on the grounds. We ended up staying for 10 hours and they spent most of that riding, sliding, dropping, stopping and flying around, over, through and across the midway.
We rode on the Skyride which takes you over the middle of the fairgrounds and affords a great view and an opportunity to map out the order of rides, games and food.
It was hot, by Calgary standards – around 32°C, so the misting and water stations were important oasis stops for us throughout the day.
One of those water bottle refill spots was in the Agrium building. The cool air and really interesting agricultural kiosks and interactive centres kept the kids interested and allowed us to lose some heat! Kezia loved feeding the chickens in particular while Kian enjoyed watching the day old chicks waddle around their pen.
Ice cream after lunch and slushies in the afternoon were necessary – at least to us!
But, this was a day of rides and we did that with very few other breaks. It was the first time the kids have come down to the Stampede and I am really happy that they loved it. I’ve always had a lot of fun down here – on the midway, at the rodeo, watching the chuckwagons and the grandstand show, etc. I’m excited to share more of the fun that the Stampede has to offer with them.
They hit the Euro Slide early in the day and later in the afternoon. The sun was behind them for the afternoon rides which allowed for a cool look by over-exposing the shots. I definitely had a lot of fun playing while photographing these cool cats!
The Outlaw Roller Coaster was one of Kian’s two favourite rides. He made a couple of runs solo on that after going with his sister the first time. He didn’t mind having the front seat all to himself – and it worked well for the photographs too! My favourite is the riding philosopher as he finished his last ride on this one.
And then there was the Starship 4000! It was the consensus favourite and they both rode it A LOT. Kian went 13 times and Kezia rode 16 times – in a row! Dad was a bystander while they racked up their circular miles inside the spaceship. It spun around pasting the riders against the wall but still allowing them to move around a bit. I didn’t go on this one but I have been told by both kids it was AWESOME!
We didn’t even get into the games that line the midway alongside the rides. Kian definitely liked this pink monkey so he’s looking forward to trying for one of them next year.
We finished the day off with a couple of flights on the hang gliding ride called the Cliff Hanger. I liked flying like Superman – the kids did that and enjoyed making faces and having a blast as they spun around.
A great day at the Stampede – we’ll be back next year!
I was fortunate to be able to join a great group in the infield for the first day of the 2017 Calgary Stampede Rodeo (thanks Todd!). It’s been a couple of years since I had a good opportunity to photograph down there. Our seats were at the top of the infield which afforded a great view from above the chutes. The bareback event was foreshadowed by the novice bareback riders and they had exciting rides. Below, Lane Ferguson from Granum, Alberta rode Xotic Departure to the day win in the novice bareback event.
A little while later, the professional bareback riding got started. Caleb Bennett and Up Ur Alley put up an 85.50 on the first ride.
Cole Goodine on Soap Bubbles went the full time as well but fell a little short of Caleb’s opening mark.
I’m always amazed watching both the cowboys and the horses – balance, power and speed on both sides of the contest. All are world class and they did more than their share to help the Stampede to live up to its name as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Richie Champion astride Twin Cherry won the Day 1 money with a score of 89.00. The first image in this set shows Richie set up well on the horse during the winning ride. Below, the pair explode out of their gate – setting the tone for a great ride.
A double rainbow arched over Medicine Lake just before sunset in Jasper National Park. Light rain fell on Kian and I as we watched these rainbows develop on the edge of a storm that had rolled up the Maligne Valley. The sun was near setting so the sunlight was pure gold and the colors across the landscape were incredible.
Last week I spent a day walking, sitting, waiting and watching along the Bow River in the Banff National Park. I was enthralled with the comings and goings of four Ospreys centred around their part of the river at the Castle Junction between Banff and Lake Louise.
My last visit with them was in April and there were only two of these sea hawks flying around. It was wonderful to see their two chicks now almost fully matured.
Four large raptors on one nest, even theirs which is massive, is pretty crowded accommodations.
The parents seemed very feisty with the young ones, cajoling them to get airborne with squawks and dive bombs.
Amid all of the excitement, the birds circled the nest, perched in the trees over the river and they flew nearby several times. I would imagine they will migrate south in less than a month so I will try to get back to spend time watching them before they go.
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.
A couple of hours after watching a Black bear in a patch of Buffalo berries, I found this Grizzly in another one a few kilometres away. She appeared to be a very happy bear, taking some anthropomorphic liberties, I even thought she smiled a few times as in the photo above!
This female’s tag has the number 152 and she has spent her life in Kananaskis Country according to what I could find online. With the poor berry crops of the previous two years, it is not surprising she is without cubs this year. I hope that the much better fortune this year will lead to her and the other females in the central Rockies bringing many cubs out of their winter caves next spring.
At one point, the Conservation officer attending blew the fog horn which startled the bear into a short run. One that ended at the next berry patch.
She dug up the ground near the second patch a little bit too. I expected her to be solely focused on the berries but maybe a few roots made for a better, and more complete, lunch.
When she turned around to dig in another spot, it was impossible to not stare at those incredible claws!
I’ve lived in Redwood Meadows for over 9 years and have never photographed a Great gray owl in the daylight here. A little while ago, I was driving back from Bragg Creek and spotted this owl perched on a fence post. I watched him in the sun for a little while before he flew. Then he quickly moved from post to post for a couple of minutes, with short breaks between flights.
Eventually he flew to the top of a nearby tree for a better view. That did not last long and he flew directly in front of me as he crossed the road (the first photo int his story) and flew into the heavier forest on the edge of the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo and Pow Wow grounds.
On one of our morning drives, Kian and I came across a few Bighorn rams on the Akamina Parkway near Cameron Lake in the Waterton National Park. These were adolescents, not the adult males which will battle for the attention of the ewes in the fall. Nonetheless, a couple of them were practicing their rutting between grazing on the roadside vegetation.
When the big boys crash their horns together it can echo across a valley. These battles didn’t carry that kind of power but it was great action with no lack of enthusiasm. We were able to watch three battles and my son and I both loved watching, and hearing, the collisions.
I do wonder if concussions are a problem as they are with human contact sports.
Frank Lake is just east of High River in southern Alberta and is a great location for birding throughout the year. In the summer, ibis, herons, avocets, blackbirds, ducks, pelicans and a menagerie of other avians congregate there for their summer residence.
On a recent visit, I enjoyed watching and photographing a number of these birds. The Black-crowned night heron above was of particular interest to me as it stalked along this fence above a stream where it emptied into the lake.
This wild rose (Rosa acicularis), Alberta’s provincial flower, was glowing among the trees a couple of mornings ago when I was out early in Bragg Creek. The sun had just cleared a hilltop across the fields so the light was still soft and warm. Early mornings in the summer are a source of great inspiration from and communion with nature for me.
My son and I were in Banff for the weekend and went out for a drive along the Vermilion Lakes just before sunset on Saturday night. We stopped at the first lake to watch the colors deepen on the face of Mount Rundle as the sun was going down. Another photographer, Grace Chen visiting from Calgary, asked me where the moon would be rising. I had to admit that I didn’t know – I hadn’t done any planning as Kian and I were water sliding all afternoon and the drive was a last-minute decision. I was quite surprised when I next looked in the viewfinder and saw a sliver of white rising behind the mountain! It was fun to point at the peak as a response to her question.
The moon climbed quickly, becoming steadily brighter and I finished shooting less than half an hour after first seeing it. The sunlight on the mountain moved from deep yellow to a beautiful red while the sky steadily darkened. It was not quite a full moon, being at 98%, but was still bright and wonderful.
There is a small hill that overlooks a farm and its fields in West Bragg Creek which is a favourite place of mine to photograph from. Throughout the year, the landscape is always beautiful, presenting an ever-changing face as the seasons cycle through. Late summer brings mist which stretches over the tall grass around dawn. These are a few of the photographs I’ve taken over the last week or so.
(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)
We are enjoying some family time at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort in Osoyoos, British Columbia. The trail down to the water is through the Nk’Mip Winery and their vineyards. When we went down last night for a swim in the lake, it was great to watch the kids running down the pathway.
With the nightly storms, I have had a couple of opportunities to get out and photograph the lightning. These are the remaining shots from the first night that I went out and had great forks of lightning stretch out in the clouds near my home. The storm’s strikes would come in waves and resulted in several nice images.
I wanted to put a person into the scene and I graciously accepted the invitation to do so 🙂