Posts tagged “summer

Springbank electrics

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.

 

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Lightning over Lac Mercier

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.


A smoked sunrise over Springbank

 

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.


Lightning strikes over Lac Mercier

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.


Flashback Friday – a summer owl

There are a lot of photographs from the summer and earlier which I have not found a way to share to date.  I’m going to try using the Flashback Friday theme to publish some of these.  I thought I’d start with a morning in July spent watching one of the great gray owls in Bragg Creek hunting in a field.

Just after 7 o’clock, I spied this owl on the forest edge, perched in a tree overlooking the field.  I set up my tripod and long lens in time to catch her fly low over the grass.

This owl is one of a pair that have raised chicks in the same place for several years.  The other parent was likely minding the chicks in the nest hidden back in the forest.  So, the owl was busy crisscrossing the field, hunting for breakfast.

The summer sun rises early so it was fairly high by this time.  The owl flew in and out of the sunlight and the shadows throughout the morning.  That afforded some good opportunities to photograph that contrast.

After a half an hour, the owl was fairly close to me and I was surprised when she flew in my direction and alighted on the fencepost right in front of me.  She stayed there for almost 15 minutes before resuming the hunt.  A very special moment where I felt some level of connection – maybe an acceptance of my presence – that still makes me smile.

 

Here she flew off, dove into the grass, came up empty and returned to the same perch.  A robin joined the line on this second sitting.  The birds paid little attention to one another and the owl soon flew away.


Smoky sunset on the prairie

 

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.


An evening at the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo

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.


The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s 2017 Rodeo is underway

 

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.

 


Super fun at the Calgary Stampede Midway

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!


Calgary Stampede Rodeo – Day 1 Bareback

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.


Incoming

I found a small marsh as the day moved towards evening.  There were a few blackbirds, shovelers and other ducks swimming around the pools between the tall grass.  This mallard circled overhead twice and then surprised me by landing in the middle of the grass.  I expected the water would be preferred but I don’t know enough about these birds to pretend to know anything at all.  I was very happy to be surprised and she looked amazing as she flared her wings to land.


Rainbows over Medicine Lake at sunset

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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.

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