Stand of Aspen on an Elk Filled Fall Evening

This photo was taken in Cooking Lake Provincial Rec Area. Actually the name is “Cooking Lake – Blackfoot Grazing, Wildlife Provincial Recreation Area”, but that’s a ridiculously long name, and I don’t intend on typing it out every time I mention it. Anyway, this is the area just south of Elk Island National Park. It’s almost exactly the same, except it has a few fields and no bison. And you don’t have to pay to get in. All in all, a great area to go hiking.

This was an overcast day, and a little misty. There were water droplets on the grass and a bit of a breeze rustling the leaves too. It was in this muffled darkening atmosphere that I first noticed the elk. The bull was watching me, with his herd off to the side, behind a copse of apsen.

I crouched down and watched them for a while. A calf was still nursing, and many of the elk were grazing, but the bull kept watching me. As the light faded along with my vision, the herd moved off into the trees. That first photo was taken in the trees where the elk disappeared into, after it had become quite dark.

Aspen on a Clear Night

This was a 20 second exposure on a clear, still, moonless night in Dillberry Lake Provincial Park. This took some accurate esimating of the distance from me to the tree and a focus distance indicator on my lens. I’m not sure if some modern SLRs could autofocus in this kind of darkness, but mine certainly can’t.

I’m starting to enjoy night photography more all the time. It forces me to slow down — once it’s dark there’s really no rushing necessary. Sunsets and sunrises can be a little more stressful as they’re very time-limited. Finding the balance between enjoying the outdoors and becoming a professional photographer can sometimes be hard. There’s always pressure to get a better shot, a different composition. But coming up with something new is also extremely rewarding.

Trembling Aspen

Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) are often called poplar trees (which is a broader group — genus Populus). I have often called them poplar trees when talking with people (and in posts here), but I’ve decided that aspen is a much more attractive and accurate word.

This is a thick young stand of Trembling Aspen in northern Alberta.

Balsam Poplar at Beaverhill Lake

I’m taking one university class this winter, and I’m getting pretty excited about it. After getting half way through a design degree I’m switching gears completely and taking “Wildlife Biodiversity and Ecology”. Should be very interesting in a completely different way. This is possibly an explanation for my renewed interest in correctly naming trees and animals in my posts. I’d love to know all this stuff thoroughly.

I grew up differentiating poplars between white poplars (what I now know is trembling aspen – white poplar is actually a completely different tree from Europe) and black poplars (a kind of balsam poplar). Not sure if these were local names from Saskatchewan or mistakes. Anyway, these are a kind of balsam poplar near Beaverhill Lake. Not sure if they’re Ontario Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera) or Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa).

Old House, Young Aspen

I think the whole reason I like this photo, and what brings it all together, is the yellow glow. Without that it is such a dark and weary scene, but the yellow seems to add some depth and some hope.

The Last Photo

Wednesday night as I was driving home from a day of hiking an owl decided to sit in the middle of a dark road — in front of my car. I braked and swerved, as anyone would who likes owls at all. Despite my efforts there were two casualties. The first is obvious (the owl didn’t make it), but the second is a little more strange. When I got home, I opened the door of the car to grab my camera from where it had been sitting in the back seat. I got the camera, but strangely there was no lens attached. Or more accurately, there was part of a lens attached. My Sigma 150 macro had broken in two. The lens is held together in the middle by three small screws in plastic. After seeing this, I’m not sure how it stays together at all. So here is the last photo taken with this lens for now.