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.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 2500
On the last night in the Khutzeymateen there was a short break in the clouds right as the full moon was clearing the tree tops across the bay. This was the fourth moon of the season earning the distinction of being a blue moon. It seemed an appropriate way to end a spectacular visit to this wonderful inlet.