Twisting Grass

The curving lines of dry grass provide so much picture fodder.

Taken in Elk Island National Park.


Taken near Beaverhill Lake.

If anyone knows what species of grass these are, I’d be very curious. I’m getting better at my fauna taxonomy, but when it comes to grass, I’m lost.

Dirty Snow

The wind picks up soil from the windward side of this hill, and deposits it here, on the leeward side. It also creates these fantastic swirls on the snow here at the edge of the ice. Taken beside Abraham Lake.

Glorious Summer Days

Sometimes it’s great to see what we have to look forward to. As much as snow and ice are interesting, they are cold. So this is a little taste of summer to whet your appetite. This is a photo from a warm summer day at the Ya Ha Tinda ranch near the forestry trunk road in central Alberta. Flowery meadows are my idea of heaven, and the ranch has those in abundance. I can’t wait to get back.

Inspiration

There are photographs everywhere—online, in coffee shops, in museums, on billboards. That makes it easy to be aware of what photographers and artists are doing. Artists are often inspiration to each other, and I have definitely experienced this in my interactions with artists in all kinds of mediums. Sometimes the inspiration is conscious and sometimes subconscious, but it happens all the time. I want to acknowledge some of the photographers who have inspired me, and this could be a long list. So I’ll mention them as they come up. I already mentioned Darwin Wiggett a few days ago. This photo was inspired by Jonathan Martin-DeMoor, which I guess means we have a cycle of inspiration going. That is awesome, and often when you get new and interesting work happening—when two artists spur each other on.

Just so it’s clear, I’m not talking about copying. This also happens all the time, and I’m not a fan. This is one thing I was worried about going out to Abraham Lake after seeing photos of it. You actually have to work at avoiding taking the same picture as everyone else. Or maybe you have to take it to get past it, I’m not sure yet. But I am never happy to have the same composition I’ve seen before, even if the light or the weather is different. I’m a creative person, and I want to interact with the landscape myself, not just see it through someone else’s eyes.

Sometimes I want to go to the same places I’ve seen photographed when the area looks interesting, but I’m never interested in duplicating someone else’s work. That is how the landscape spoke to them, not me. I want my photography to share my personality.

The X Composition

Just a quick photo today—I’ll continue the account of my trip tomorrow. Ice and snow on Abraham Lake.

For the record, I’ve never heard of an X composition, and intuitively it doesn’t seen like it would work to me. But for some reason I like this photo.

Tripods on Ice

Tripods are extremely important for landscape photographers, and I have a couple good tripods that I’ve collected over the years – not my dream tripod yet, but close. I’ve heard of people at the camera store asking for spikes in the feet of their tripods, and always thought it might be a little perk but didn’t really matter. After all, in years of taking photos all over the place, I’ve never really missed having spikes on the feet of my tripods – rubber feet have always worked great.

Well, this week it all changed. Out on the icy surface of Abraham Lake, with the wind blowing constantly and extremely hard, my tripod was useless. In fact, it made everything less steady – it provided more surface area for the wind to catch. The rubber feet had no grip at all on the ice. If I let go of my tripod on the ice, it would start to move away from me as the wind pushed it across the ice. Luckily it never fell over. The best I could do was to hang on to it, put a bunch of my weight on it, and hope no super large gusts came up during the exposure (the gusts were blowing me around a bit too, despite my crampons).

So I now understand the desire for spiked tripod feet, although I’m still not sure how much they would have helped in this case. I think my conclusion is just that it is extremely hard to take long exposures on ice in extremely windy conditions.

I’m not finished going through my photos from Abraham Lake yet, but here’s a preview. This is from Wednesday morning.