Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chester Lake - November 9th, 2013


I drove out to Kananaskis today to visit the mountains. It's been a while since I've been able to get out and hold my camera in my hands and make some photos. I picked up some snowshoes on Friday and was wanting to try them out. In my research there are lots of cross country ski trails, but there aren't that many official snowshoe trails around. Chester Lake has some snowshoe trails and had received quite a bit of snow last weekend.  I'd been up there recently for fall photos so there is where I wanted to go.

In regards to snowshoeing, I imagined to some degree that having snowshoes would allow me to float on top of snow and that somehow it would be this frolic-y "bound through the snow with a big smile on my face" kind of experience.. however as it turns out, snowshoes aren't wings, nor are they anti-gravity shoes. They do help distribute your weight over a larger surface area so you don't sink as much on packed snow and all the jagged teeth on the bottom of the shoe gives you a certain amount of traction but magic carpets they are not. A hill is still a hill regardless of what you have on your feet and a hill must be climbed and gravity overcome in order to scale it.

I got to the Chester parking lot and started gathering my stuff for the hike. It didn't take long before I spotted the moose. There were four of them in the parking lot and they were going around and licking cars presumably to get the salt. Moose are quite tall and lanky looking so I was surprised when they moved and showed how nimble and graceful they actually are.. I was trying to position myself so I could get a photo of a young male - without a car in the background - when some skiers came zipping off the trail and into the parking lot. They spooked the moose a little bit and it bound off into the trees. At this point I decided to leave the moose alone and start off on my journey to the lake on my fancy snowshoes.

It didn't take too long before I needed a rest. I wasn't pacing myself very well and with my unrealistic expectations at how easy the snowshoes would make this - I had run out of breath. I rested and after a bit started up again and quickly was tired again.. then I started to sweat - a lot.. which seemed OK because I had a number of layers on including some sporty shirt that is supposed to whisk sweat away. I unzipped my coat and continued on for a bit until I needed another rest.  In reading about snowshoeing I learned that the proper etiquette is for snowshoe-ers to stay off the ski tracks so I was trying to go on the side but the snow was loose and deep and it was hard work to walk through this kind of snow. Hence all the sweating.

The trail to Chester lake eventually flattens out once your in the upper valley. When I finally got there I was excited to see that the light was very beautiful. The clouds were blocking the sun from hitting the upper mountains so there was this nice bit of sunshine hitting the ground but there were shadows up above on the mountains. In addition there was snow blanketing the ground providing a lot of nice textures.

Trail
Once I got to the lake itself I found it was covered with snow and ice. I was hoping that there might still be open water for some reflective photos, but no such luck.. I followed some tracks around the lake that eventually led up into the trees again. I`ve read about the 'elephant rocks' at Chester lake but haven't seen them and didn't really know where they were. I was sort of hoping that the trail would lead to them so I followed the tracks up into the trees.  After about 20 minutes or so the trail entered a clearing and this was where the rocks were.. They weren't really rocks per-say but were large (very large, like two story house large) hunks of rock there were scattered around the clearing.  I was excited to find them so I started to make some photos.  As I worked my way around the rocks making different shots I found myself waiting for the sun to dip below the clouds so the light would hit the rocks.  It did it once or twice while I wasn't really paying attention so I figured it would do it again.

I was standing there waiting, looking at the rocks, forming my composition so that when the light came I'd be ready to make the shot. While I was waiting for the light I was looking at the rock formations when all of a sudden it clicked and I saw them. The elephants. In the photo below I see two.

Elephant rocks

I made some shots and waited around some more to see if the clouds would let the sun out again but they did not so I moved on and made my way back down to the lake. Walking downhill was easier so I made good time. Past the lake and down down down to the parking lot. When I got there there were about nine cars and there were two moose left licking the cars. I circled around so as not to get too close but ended up herding them towards my car. I used my remote lock to make the horn beep and scare them off a little bit so I could get access to my car. After unpacking and changing out of my sweaty clothes I started my drive back to Calgary. It was just after four in the afternoon. Sun was to set at 5:00pm but it was already darker because of the clouds. Heading back towards Canmore I saw a coyote and a large bull moose on the side of the road. I stopped to make some photos of both.

Coyote

Moose

Overall, it was an awesome day in the mountains. There are more photos from today posted and you can see them here.

Thanks for looking
Brad

Monday, October 14, 2013

Highway 66 - October 14, 2013


Yesterday the sky was overcast and cloudy, this morning there wasn`t a cloud in the sky which was disappointing because I was in the mountains yesterday but wasn`t today. After a late decision to go for a drive I found myself heading out of town. I wasn`t sure where I wanted to go and ended up driving down Highway 66 past Bragg Creek. The bridge is still out at Alan Bill from the floods this past spring so there was a bit of traffic as cars took turns going across the temporary bridge. It was such a nice day that there were lots and lots of people out on the road. Early on the drive I passed some trees that caught my eye but I didn't stop thinking that there would be lots of trees to look at. I drove all the way to the end of the road at Little Elbow. I was really hoping for more yellow leaves but many of the trees that I could see from the road were now naked. I was a tiny bit disappointed and on the way back stopped the car near the river to see if I could make a photo of something.

Walking along the edge of the river I noticed that there were some large rocks I could use to get a vantage point that would put the distant mountains just above some rapids. I knew going in that I should have changed my shoes but I thought I'd be careful enough that it wouldn't be a problem. The texture on the soles of my shoes wore away quite some time ago. When it rains I walk differently because there is a particular angle at which my shoes will hydroplane on things like wet tile, or plywood in construction zones, or even wet crosswalk paint. I'm not inexperienced at recovering from slipping in the streets and have only hit ground once that I can recall. So having hopped across a few rocks and noticing that one of my shoes had dipped into the river should have been a clear warning that my shoe would probably not be stable going forward. I was doing OK for a while but my attention was on getting the shot when my foot went full on into the water. I recovered but it wasn`t long before both feet had become submerged. I gave up on getting the shot when I fell backwards and found myself sitting in the river. Below is a photo that I captured from the middle of the Elbow river.

Elbow River

Luckily I had some extra clothes in the car and was able to get out of my wet pants, socks and shoes. I figured I should head home cause things just weren`t working out. As I drove I passed the trees that I`d seen on the way in I debated with myself about stopping and finally decided that I would. The fall colours are quickly fading and I wanted to take advantage of whatever is left. I parked the car along the side of the road and composed some shots of the trees.

Yellow

I`m pleased with this photo and capturing it helped make the trip worthwhile. I love photographing trees and I love fall.

Thanks for looking
Brad.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Elbow Lake - October 13, 2013

Made a short family hike out to Elbow Lake on Sunday looking for some Fall colours. On the drive out we passed lots of yellow trees but as we made our way further south along Highway 40 and into higher elevations the scenery started to become snow covered. Around the Highwood Pass a lot of the leaves have fallen already as winter starts to settle in. For our trip the sky was cloudy and overcast which made it feel even more like winter. We walked around the lake and down the Elbow valley a ways towards Tombstone mountain. I was hoping to get to Edworthy falls but it was a bit further than I remembered and we ended up turning around. Elbow lake is just staring to freeze over and there was a light dusting of snow covering the ice, for a few minutes the sun was illuminating Tombstone mountain and I made this photo.

Elbow Lake

With the overcast light and the low contrast on the snow the image looked monochromatic already so I finished it in black and white.

Before we turned around we came across a few wind-swept larches.

Wind Swept Larch tree

Thanks for looking.
Brad

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Larches at Chester Lake - October 6th, 2013


Larches at Chester Lake

I escaped the city a bit late (around noon) and wanted to drive down highway 40 to look for fall colours. My original plans for the day were to go to Chester lake to see the Larch trees that grow there. I'd been there a couple years ago with the kids in the summer and I had noticed that there were larch trees along the edge of the lake. Anytime I see larch trees I imagine going to that place in the fall to see them. For those of you that don't know larch trees are an evergreen (or Christmas tree) who's needles turn an intense yellow in the fall and fall off, just like a leafy tree. The needles grow out again in the spring and are soft like a koosh ball. They're usually found at alpine levels - high up on the mountains often at the top of the treeline. Now that it is early October and fall is quite established I hoped they'd be in their glory.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Kananaskis - Sept 6, 2013

Highway 40 into Kananaskis was just opened up from the winter gates for another 20kms. The highway had been closed due to the June floods causing all kinds of trouble with creeks and bridge crossings. There are still problems with the lower part of Highway 40 and it remains closed. The news sites were saying that the road was extended to the Lost Lemon Lookout. I was curious to find out where this was exactly because I'd really like to go explore Elbow lake and the Elbow valley before winter sets in. Looking on the internet, there is a Lost Lemon mine, but it doesn't really indicate where the lookout is on Highway 40. Searching for the term "Lost Lemon Lookout" would only show the news articles that said that the highway was now open to the Lost Lemon Lookout.. kind of redundant I think. So, after work on Friday I drove out there to see where the highway was closed.

The good news, if your also wondering, is that the Lost Lemon Lookout is past the Highwood pass summit by about 5 or more kms which is good news if you want to go to Elbow lake, Ptarmigan cirque or climb Mt. Rae or something near the Highwood pass.

Fall is in the pass at the higher elevations, the plants are starting to turn brilliant shades of yellow and red with many hues of green still present. While I was there the clouds were low and it was raining off and on. I was one of very few cars on the highway so I felt comfortable stopping whenever something caught my eye.

Below is a photograph I took of the fall colours just beyond the pass. It was raining at the time so I took the shot out of the window of my car.

Valley

On the drive out I also spent some time with a small herd of big horn sheep. They were at the corner of Highway 40 and the turnoff to the lakes and are often seen in this location. I like this group shot.

Small herd of bighorn sheep in Kananaskis

Sitting quietly in the grass the sheep eventually wandered close to where I was sitting.


Hello


Thanks for looking.
Brad.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dragons and Clouds - July 23, 2013

On the way home from work found myself driving through Bridgeland. There is a dog park on top of the hill there and I stoped to look for wild flowers. Instead I found that there were dragonflies about. This fellow sat on the twig and was reasonably still. I was using my 300mm lens with extension tubes on it. This was the first time that I'd tried the tubes out after picking them up more than a year ago. After a bit of wrangling with the equipment I was able to get a few macro shots of the dragonfly. In the original pic you can make out the lenses on the dragonfly's eyes which is pretty neat. I enjoy shooting macro shots like this not always for the end result but because I'm able to sit and focus (ha ha.. focus) on one thing for a while and forget everything else, like having a bit of tunnel vision. It's a nice escape from my mind - plus you get to stop, slowdown and look closely at something that you normally wouldn't see.

Dragonfly

Then later in the evening it looked like there would be some interesting clouds and maybe a rainbow out east of the city so off I went.. reminds me of that aloof person that's always off chasing butterflies and rainbows. Hey, that's me! Anyway, as I was driving down the gravel road following the rainbow but it wasn't very strong and I couldn't find a composition to put it in on. There was this cool light coming from the west where the sun was making its way down to the horizon. I spotted this line of trees that were creating cool shadows on the ground in my rear view mirror so I stopped made a photograph of it.

Shadows


Further down the road, I came across this farmers field where they had started harvesting. I liked the curves the hay makes on the ground and the interesting sky in the background. I tried to capture it using a couple of filters to block the light from the sky a bit so the camera could also capture the darker-in-shadow foreground.

First Harvest

I left here and while driving back stopped to photograph big storm clouds in the sky. As of yet, I've not posted any of those photos, but if I do, they'll show up here.

Thanks for looking,
Brad.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Morley Flats, again - July 18, 2013

Tonight I went back to Morley Flats in an attempt to try and capture the wildflowers with sunlight instead of shade. What's kind of cool is the mountains in the photo include both Mt. Yamnuska and Door Jamb mountain/Loder peak, which I've climbed recently. I used made two photos that I joined together to make a panorama.  I wasn't sure this would turn out when I shot it, but I like the results.

Two days ago I tried to take some photo's here and was attacked by mosquitoes and was bit on my hands by ants after bracing the camera against a fence post for stability. Today, in preparation I doused myself with bug spray to try and ward off the mosquitoes. This worked OK on my exposed skin but after the sun went behind the mountain the mosquitoes came out in force and were biting me through my shirt! Also, I was wearing sandals and ants were crawling onto my feet and biting my toes. There were ants everywhere,  it wasn`t like I accidentally ened up on an ant hill for a few minutes. I moved around a lot and every where I stopped the ants (and mosquitoes) were there. I would not recommend tenting on Morley Flats or lying down on the ground for any reason. However, if your looking for lots and lots of bluebells and brown-eyed susans with some mountains in the background this is the place to be.

Morley Flats

Any other shots from today that I upload will be here.

Thanks for looking
Brad.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Morley Flats - July 16, 2013


On the weekend I'd driven out to Kananaskis to climb the Wedge and on the way I'd passed Morley Flats and noticed the fields of wildflowers. I wanted to go back and try to capture them with some nice sunset light. So, after work on Tuesday I drove west towards the mountains. It was still a bit early and I figured I'd have lots of time to get there so I drove out on highway 68 towards Sibbald and stopped a few times to shoot some wildflowers along the side of the road.

Either it was further than I thought or I spent too much time dwindling because by the time I got to Morley Flats the sun had slipped in behind the mountains casting a shadow across the field. I wasn't going to get a field full of back-lit flowers that I'd hoped for.

As I balanced my camera against a fence post to make some shots I was attacked by swarms of mosquitoes and a few ants that had crawled up the post to bite my fingers. It made for a stress-full situation and I didn't hang out too long before I jumped back into the car. Unfortunately I'd left my windows open and a bunch of mosquitoes had flown into the car. I drove home with the sunroof and all windows open hoping that the wind inside the car would somehow suck the bugs out.

Morley Flats

I need to go and try again before the summer flowers fade. This time I'll get there early and spray down with bug spray. Any other photos from today can be found here.

Thanks for looking.
Brad

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Wedge - July 14th, 2013


After reading lots of on-line trip reports on the Wedge scramble route I thought it'd be fun to go and try as it seemed to be within my skill level. I was nervously excited about crossing from the false summit to the true summit as there is a narrow path between the two and I imagined capturing incredible pictures from the lofty peak. The recent floods in southern Alberta had washed out some bridges in Kananaskis and last Thursday they had announced that the bridge over Evan-Thomas creek had been restored to single lane traffic which you have to cross to get to the trail head at Wedge pond.

A lot of the trip reports I read are from the late 90's or early 2000's when everyone seemed to be cutting their mountain-scrambling-teeth on the routes that I'm just starting to discover. There was a bit of information about route finding and getting through the trees to the shoulder of the mountain. The approach trail was easy to find and after 15 years (since some of the earliest posted trip reports) of people climbing the Wedge that the trail was very well defined. There were a couple of washed out sections on the way up due to recent heavy rains but they didn't pose much of a problem.

I walked through the forest, up the shoulder and got to the base of the summit in about two and a half hours. On the way there was a spectacular view of Mt. Kidd and the Kananaskis valley.

Mt Kidd

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rainbow - July 4, 2013

The clouds were directly overhead of the house and I was on the driveway out front when I spotted a rainbow in the sky.  Hopped in the car and started driving east on McKnight blvd towards Conrich. The rainbow wasn't fully formed but the left leg was pretty strong. I stopped at the side of the road and made a couple shots with a longer lens to compress the landscape and zoom in on the horizon. I drove east some more, getting closer to the storm front. As I got closer the rainbow started to get stronger and soon I could see the whole thing. Next was to find a vantage point from which to shoot from. The fields are just starting to turn yellow so I turned off the main highway and onto a gravel road heading north to try and find a composition that would include the fields.

Rainbows are positional in that if you move or change the angle between you, the sun and the rain that's falling, the rainbow will move. If the angle changes too much the rainbow can disappear. As I drove north I was hoping that the rainbow wouldn't up and vanish. I came across this side road, stopped driving, hopped out and started making photos.

Double

I like this one because of the access road in it. I had a few where I was further to the left and it was just field but this one has some nice leading lines and the access road helps break up the foreground. There are also some power lines coming in from the upper right. I thought about cloning them out but decided to leave them in as they also help to direct the eye towards the center of the frame.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sibbald Meadows Pond - June 29, 2013

I had been itching to get out and see if the wild flowers were blooming. Many areas west of Calgary in the mountains are inaccessible due to flood damage. Conor and I drove out to Sibbald meadows pond for a bit of fishing. A few years ago I shot some wildflowers there and was worried that they'd be out by now and that I was missing an opportunity to get out there and shoot. As it turned out, many of the wild flowers I shot before were in late July and I was a bit early. There were still some out though. Conor and I fished the pond for a little while, without much luck, and after a while I traded my fishing rod for a camera and tripod.

Prairie Smoke

I had climbed up a pretty steep hillside and was trying to frame the prairie smoke. Unfortunately I`d forgotten my cable release in the car and so I had to make do without it.. the challenge is that at macro views if there is any motion in the object at all, the picture will be blurry. Even pressing the release on the camera can induce motion and make the picture blurry from camera motion. Using the cable release takes away one of these variables by keeping the camera steady during exposure. After taking many photo`s, I was able to find a composition that I liked and to position the focus where I wanted with out much blur.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peace Bridge - June 27, 2013

Parked the car in China town with my bike on the carrier, and rode around to try and find a place on the river to make an interesting picture. Ended up near the peace bridge. I took some shots from the south end into the tunnel of the bridge then made my way across to the north side.

As the sun was setting, I could see that the light was reflecting off of the surface of the water and wanted to make a long exposure to help enhance the light bands reflecting off the buildings.

Peace bridge

The river is still pretty high, but not as high as last Friday when the flooding occurred, but it's still muddy and brown.

I ended up talking to a random fellow for quite a while and missed some of the sunset. By the time we were done the lights on the bridge had come on which would have been a different photo but by then I was ready to move on and spent about 15 minutes on the bike paths looking for more shots. I didn't find any that would have prompted me to stop and get the camera out so I rode back to the car and came home.

Thanks for looking
brad.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Calgary Skyline - June 25, 2013

I'd parked near rotary park just above center street. I had my bike on the bike carrier, and used it to ride along the bike path's near the river. I rode down the hill and across the center street bridge to the suoth side of the river and ended up going east. The new foot bridge on the end of St. George island that is being constructed was in pretty bad shape because of the flooding and I tried to get a shot but the light quickly changed and it started to rain on me.

I moved towards the Langevin bridge and ended up hanging out underneath it to avoid getting soaked. Eventually the rain stopped. Actually, it didn`t really stop, it just kind of paused. I could see there was a pretty strong rainbow in the east but didn't feel like I was in a good position to capture it. I was on the bridge and was able to make a composition I liked that included the rainbow. The sun was very low and there were lots of very interesting clouds in the sky. The light was almost magical.
Langevin Bridge

Another view of the Langevin bridge.

langevin bridge


On my way back to the car, I paused and made this shot of the Center street bridge and some downtown buildings. There was lots of colour and reflections on the buildings. I think this shot turned out pretty good, I've tried in the past to get a similar view but I've not had nice sunset light to complement it.

Calgary skyline

Thanks for looking.

Brad

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bow River flood - June 21, 2013

The river has flooded due to heavy rain the past few weeks and a lot of the city is under water on this, the first day of summer.

Center Street Bridge

For part of the after noon I played tourist and went down to the river at Center street to see it in person. There were a number of curious on lookers walking around the area. The river is high and flowing very fast with a lot of debris racing by in the muddied water. I could hear the roar of the water and feel the unrelenting power of the river as it forced its way past the bridge. The railing in the foreground is part of the bike path that leads under the lower deck of the bridge. Normally the river water is about 15-20 feet below the lower deck, here the water is slipping just below the road. Curious onlookers risked walking onto the road in order to take some candid photos with the long exposure some of them have turned into ghosts.

There are a lot of people affected by this flood and the cleanup will be a long time. My thoughts go out to those who have lost or damaged property.

Thanks for looking
Brad.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Wasootch Peak - June 1, 2013


Climbed up to the summit of Wasootch Peak also known as GR334455. I'm somewhat new to climbing and peak names and so on and I'm not really sure what the GR334455 is other than maybe it's a map name and the name "wasootch peak" is really an unofficial name. I suppose I'll learn some of this over time, but for now it was fun to walk up the side of the mountain and make it to the summit.

The view below is just after passing the tree line looking back along the ascent route. Down below is Highway 40 and the road that leads to Kananaskis village and the Nakiska ski hill.

Above the valley

While I was walking I wore a GoPro on a chest harness and would sometimes take some video. The clip below is just as I climb up to the summit ridge. I thought it was kind of neat and offered a different perspective than just photos.




If your curious, you can see other photo's from this day here

Thanks for looking,
Brad

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Short Eared Owl - March 28, 2013

Short Eared Owl - Shot by Conor

Today was Clare's birthday. (Happy Birthday Clare!! I can't believe how quickly your growing up.) Conor and I had left dinner and were near to where I had seen the horned owls a few weeks ago. I thought we would just drive by and see if they were around. The sun was starting to set and I didn't anticipate taking any photo's as it was starting to get dark. When we drove to site where the Horned owls were last seen I saw something sitting high up in a tree. I pulled over to take a look. We couldn`t tell what it was from the road and Conor wasn`t real interested in stopping but he called dibs in looking through the camera and lens first and I said "Ok". This seemed to get his interest up and soon he was telling me what was in the tree. It turned out the `thing` was a bald eagle. We made a small attempt to get closer - which ment getting out of the car, walking down into the ditch and maybe climbing through a barbed wire fence. Shortly after getting out of the car the eagle was off and flying away. Bummer.

We drove a little further and looked at the tree where I think the Horned owls are nesting. Conor still had the camera and in looking said he didn't see anything I drove closer and parked the car. I looked and could see an owl in the nest, we got out and tried to go into the field to get closer. Quite soon after entering the field the nesting owls mate flew off. I didn't really see it until it was flying away. We walked through some really deep snow (made worse because we didn`t have proper foot ware) to get a view of the nest which is pretty high up in a tree on the outside edge of the tree cluster. Rubber boots are definitely needed right now as the field is quite wet and muddy our feet got pretty wet. Not wanting to disturb the nesting owl we soon left and made our way back to the car.

We were driving south back to the highway when I mentioned to Conor that this was the time of year that I'd seen short eared owls in the field near this location and they they fly in this real neat loopy way just above the field in the evenings as they hunt for food. I think their migratory and I wasn't sure when they would actually be around. I'd read of sightings near Frank Lake earlier this year. I told Conor he should look out for them and just after I said that I saw one flying above the field!

I excitedly pointed it out to Conor - who still had the camera in his hands. The short eared owl landed on a fence post and I tried to move the car close to it so Conor could take some shots. The owl was kind enough to wait a bit while Conor made some photos. Soon it flew off and we watched it almost bounce across the field. A couple of times it turned hard and dove at the ground. Both of us said "WOW" at the owls acrobatic flying abilities.

Driving again, we were scanning fence posts and spotted another one. By now the light was pretty low and it would have been difficult to get any good photos. This second owl didn't wait around either. It flew off pretty quickly after we slowed the car.

A few minutes later we spotted a coyote in the field. So, In a period of about 40 minutes we saw a bald eagle, two horned owls, two short eared owls, a coyote and hundreds of geese and ducks that are gathering in the fields. Spring must be in the air.

Thanks for looking.
Brad