Last April, I was on Washington’s coast photographing in the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle. The Sol Duc Rainforest was one of the incredible forests that I spent time photographing in. I found the old growth with the density of wilderness to be stunning. It’s a beautiful location to get lost for days. I had a few hours and look forward, down the road, to get back for more.
Last June I traveled to Radium with my children. On our travels there we passed through the Kootenay National Park during an early summer snow storm. We stopped along the Kootenay River to photograph the icy blue water and bright green of the young forest being met by the white blizzard.
The home isolation as the world buckles down is hard. We are very fortunate to live in a forest so the time at home affords the opportunity to watch the trees and the wildlife that lives in it. These blue jays come by a couple of times a day. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more from my backyard for a while to come. Be safe, be isolated and find hope.
The crescent moon on my daughter’s birthday in January was beautiful. Here I framed it between the silhouettes of the trees along the forest in Redwood Meadows. During the exposure (0.8 seconds) I moved the camera slightly to play with the elements and see what would trace across the image. This one had an interesting look of motion in it.
I hope you are enjoying time with those you love these holidays. Warmest wishes to you and yours.
It has come too soon but I am enjoying the beautiful colors that fall has brought. Snow is falling this weekend so autumn may be cut short this year – we’ll see.
I’ve had fun playing with longer shutter speeds and moving through the focal length during some of those. Some of the images have an abstract, painterly quality which I love. I still like photographing the changing landscape in more straightforward ways too. Most scenes I end up shooting in a few different ways to see which works in that moment. Here are a few from the past couple of weeks in and around Bragg Creek.
On a side note, it has been a long time since my last post. I have kept shooting but haven’t made time to publish anything for a little over two months. A lot went on through the summer. The biggest change has been falling in love with a wonderful woman. Aside from my children and how they continually amaze me, that has been the highlight of a summer that has absolutely flown by.
(Please click on any image to open a separate window to see these panoramas in a larger version)
I have been enjoying creating panoramas by merging a number of shots into one wide image. The workshop that I went to on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington recently brought that approach back in to my plans. It’s been a while since I shot them with any regularity. The rainforests there are well into spring and were amazing to photograph for panoramic concepts. Forests have incredible depth, details and patterns and that was a focus while I was in the Pacific Northwest.
When I returned home, a cold weather pattern was knocking around Alberta. When a snowstorm blew in, I headed out to photograph the forest and see if any pano opportunities jumped out. The storm grew into a blizzard. It was cool to have the increasing density of snow as a variable to the images. We’ve had a few really good days in the week afterwards. Before the next one comes in this weekend.
Greedily, Old Man Winter has snuck past Spring once more and released another day-long blizzard across southern Alberta. The snow fell in thick flakes, speckling the sky then blurring the forest as it neared the ground. I’m looking forward to greenery, especially given how lovely Seattle was when I was there last week, but this was a storm which cast a beautiful spell over the landscape west of Bragg Creek.
I’m in Seattle for a dear friend’s photography workshop on the Olympic Peninsula this weekend. I was lucky enough to wander the gardens and forest around his wonderful home yesterday. Coming from Alberta, the blossoms, warmth and greenery was almost a shock to me. Certainly a glimpse of a future we will hopefully see within a couple of weeks. The light on the bark of this cedar danced well with the abstracted shapes in the background. Those were thrown out of focus by the a shallow depth of field using a 24mm lens at f/2.0.
I’ve been hunting for images of the autumn that has been hurriedly ushered in. Here is one from the day of the first snowfall last week. I was east of my home in Redwood Meadows and found this wonderfully coloured stand of trees. The snow continued on for much of the day and I looked for more scenes like this.
The wildfire smoke gave the setting sun a fiery hue as it fell towards the horizon on the first day of August. A few minutes earlier I had watched as it slipped into the clouds rendered indistinct in the hazy atmosphere. When the orb re-appeared just above the horizon, with the pink light tracing out the tops of the cloud bank, I enjoyed this beautiful moment.
The snow flew many times in December. This was one of the nights where I went out to enjoy one for a little bit. Owing to the falling snow blurring the street lamps were diffused balls of light. The snowflakes also played with the shadows, leaving some sharp while making others soft. This storm felt like there was a good-natured mischief-maker involved.
On the first day of October, I was in Banff National Park and found great fall colors across the Bow Valley. I returned to Hillsdale Meadow along the Bow Valley Parkway where I expected the larch would be showing their best golds and yellows. I wasn’t disappointed! For this image, I used a slow shutter to abstract the landscape similar to how I had done with the same stand of trees in July. I moved the camera downwards during the 1/40th of a second exposure to exaggerate the vertical lines present in the golden trees and echoed in the evergreens in the mountainside behind.
There is a beautiful stand of aspen trees on the eastern edge of the Hillsdale Meadows which I have photographed for years throughout the seasons. Last weekend I stopped for another visit with them. This time around I was drawn to the contrast of the slender, white trunks and the dark spaces between them.
I worked a few different ideas before I found what an approach that allowed me to illustrate that contrast. Using longer shutter speeds (1/8th of a second – 1/4th of a second) and moving the camera vertically during the exposure, the blurs created illustrated the contrast in a way I really like.
Last weekend when fog stretched out across Calgary, I spent the morning photographing along the western edge near Springbank and east of the city around Delacour. The density of the fog changed constantly which was great fun to play with in the images I made.
At times the sun would break through the haze. Some of those moments were incredible just to watch as shafts of sunlight pierced the fog and were then quickly absorbed.
I returned to a weathered old truck that I’ve shot over the years. The fog’s isolation allowed for some new images of this charismatic vehicle.
Much like the train tracks above, I loved how the road disappeared – there is an ethereal quality that is lent to these images by the fog.
The trees that dot the prairies individually and in small stands drew my eye throughout the morning. Sometimes the fog hid them and sometimes it isolated them as with the truck above. Often they were just beautiful scenes to enjoy and shoot before they changed into something new.
On the Labour Day weekend, my son and I camped in Jasper. I hadn’t been there in over a year and I was shocked to see a vast swath of burnt hillsides in Medicine Lake area of the Malign Valley. Somehow I completely missed the Excelsior Wildfire that burned over a 1000 hectares between July 9th and 22nd, 2015. We were looking for wildlife and enjoying the chaotic weather when the sun broke through to paint select trees amid the skeleton forest left behind as a stark reminder of the wildfire.
Sunday’s sunrise shone through a narrow break on the horizon. A storm coming out of the mountains darkened most of the sky but with the light rode in from the east and painted the leading edges of the clouds. I was east of Bragg Creek along Highway 8 as the colour started to build so I pulled in behind a stand of trees that have great lines.
The branches silhouetted against the dawn gave me a lot to work with and here are three takes over a fifteen minute window before the colour drained out and the clouds stretched fully across the sky.
Canon 5DIII camera and 300mm f/4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/16 on ISO 200
I drove along the Grand Valley Road in search of raptors and was fortunate to come across a small group of fellow photographers who had spied a Northern hawk owl in a roadside stand of trees. I will share a couple of photographs of that fine bird soon but wanted to first show the abstract images I made earlier in the day. Before finding any wildlife, I was spending time looking for them among the trees and meadows along the road. Early on, I found this stand of Aspens and I loved the vertical pattern and the stark contrast between dark and light within and between the tree trunks.
Canon 5DIII camera and 300mm f/4 lens: 1/500th of a second at f/9 on ISO 1250
I loved the straight image and once I dialled that in the way I liked, I wanted to drag my shutter and play with the blurred images that I traced out.
Canon 5DIII camera and 300mm f/4 lens: 1/30th of a second at f/16 on ISO 200
Autumn is nearing its end this year in my part of the world. When I was in Shangri-La, China last month fall colors had just started to appear in the forests. In the Puducao National Park, I found these brilliant leaves among the deep greens dominating the foliage along the southern shoreline of Shudu Lake. If you are interested in seeing other images from my trip, please click this link.
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.
I went to see an owl but found this cat quite high up in this tree instead. She looked pretty comfortable there before turning her body downwards and then, half scraping, half sliding, made her way to the ground.
I hope everyone who is out and about this evening has a fun, and appropriately scary, time.
This scene was waiting for me as a drove along the prairies towards Calgary this morning.
(Please click on the image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)
A hazy sky created deep, rich hues in the rising sun and the morning sky. A beautiful scene to watch unfold as the day grew but it was a small silver lining to forest fires burning across the province right now responsible for the haze. While we haven’t had forest fires around Bragg Creek and Kananaskis so far this summer, there are ten fires in Alberta currently. Most are being held or are under control presently with only one reported as being out of control. It is a testament to people involved in fighting these fires and a reminder of our place in this natural cycle that allows for rebirth.
Autumn is a great season for sunrises in the prairies around Calgary. The clouds at dawn can be spectacular. Last week, I was in Springbank and the sky was beautiful. The interesting silhouettes from this wind-broken stand of trees were a good partner to the light playing in the clouds.