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.

On Being Prepared and the Full Moon

I feel a little guilty about today’s photo. First of all, it’s late, but secondly (and more importantly) it caught me by surprise. I should have known that there would be a full moon. I even have a little iphone app that tells me all the moonrise times and locations (as well as sunrise, sunset, and all about stars and constellations—it’s called “Planets”). But perseverance and awareness of my surroundings saved me this time, and just as it was getting too dark to see, a huge orange moon peeked over the horizon. If you’ve ever watched a moon rise, you know it happens very fast.

I got to a clear spot where I could see more moon than tree branches a few minutes after it rose. It was just starting to disappear behind a bank of clouds. I had to set my camera to mirror-lockup (so my camera doesn’t shake) plug in my remote (so I don’t bump the camera when I press the shutter button), and set up the tripod pretty quickly to get this shot. I like the way the clouds diffuse the light, making it a little different than the average clear-sky moon shot.

The full moon as it rose behind a bank of clouds last week.

Harvest Moon

Shots of the moon are hard to get. With a wide angle lens, the moon is a dot in the sky. With a telephoto, you have to make sure your exposure is short enough – the moon actually moves pretty fast. While keeping your exposure short, you still want enough depth of field to keep some detail in the foreground. If the moon is exposed correctly, everything else is too dark, and if everything else is exposed correctly, the moon is completely blown out (although both of these can look good). And then you have the whole chromatic aberration problem unless you have an amazingly expensive lens, because the scene is so high contrast. So I’ve never shown these before. These are not the sharpest photos in the world – I didn’t have the highest quality telephoto lens at the time. But I’m pretty happy with them too. They have a great feeling to them. This was at Cooking Lake Natural Area last year the night of the harvest moon.

The Light You Can’t See

I’ve been super busy lately with everything from web design work to McBain work to photography and product design work. Which is good, but makes it hard to get out shooting. A couple days ago, I was planning on going out for the day, but got so wrapped up in other things that I didn’t make it out until it was dark. Which was interesting.

I walked out into the darkness of the Beaverhill Lake plains. And it was really dark. New moon again (I seem to time those just right), but interesting for photography anyway. I really need to get a fast prime for night shooting. These are with my 17-40 f4.

Yes, those bright, out-of-focus dots are indeed stars. It was really hard to see to compose for this picture – I had a flashlight to help out which ruined my nightvision for the next ten minutes.

Limited Light

It’s one of those fall days where you look outside and shudder. Winter’s coming. It’s dark, grey, and just below freezing in the middle of the day. It’s not the kind of day that inspires one to get outside, but once I feel the crisp bite of cold air on my face and hear the silence magnified by the foggy air, I am reminded that almost any conditions can be magical if you embrace them.

All photos taken in Elk Island National Park.

New Thoughts on Old Photos

A couple days ago I was cleaning up my library of photos and came across a couple photos that I haven’t seen in a long time. For some reason I had originally rated them quite low and they were lost in the depths of my computer until I stumbled on them again today.

The first is from my Yellowstone trip of 2007. There seems to be some sort of interesting complimentary / reflective thing going on here. The yellow reeds are almost exactly mirroring the trees and mountain, and the water contrasts the sky – the tones are almost reversed while the colors are complimentary. Anyway, it caught my eye, and after staring at it for a while I do believe I like it.

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The second is just from last year in Jasper, but it got lost in the shuffle of more bold and colorful pictures (or maybe dark and brooding, I occasionally gravitate towards that). This one has a more quiet feel but still has a lot going on.

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