Solar Activities at Night

A couple nights ago we got a spectacular display of northern lights here. Elk Island National Park is a dark sky preserve near Edmonton, and it was a great place to view them. Although a lot of people had a similar idea.

Also, if you missed the update on my last post, you can sign up for a Wildlife Photography Course I’m teaching at the Edmonton Valley Zoo here: City of Edmonton > Activities > Courses

12mm, f2.8, 20 seconds

Coyote

This fall I have a NAIT student doing work experience with me, and on our outing this week we ran into this friendly fellow. In fact, he was a little too friendly for his own good, and I worry about him, but I still really enjoyed hanging out for a while.

f5.6, 1/1000 of a second

Playing in the Snow

I just got some excellent snowshoes to make my winter excursions a little easier than in past years (I’m used to slogging it with just my winter boots). And hopefully I can get out to a bunch of new places. I tested them out in Elk Island National Park today and had a lot of fun. I came across this herd of bison hanging out with some unusual friends. Click on the image to make it larger to make it easier to spot them.

300mm, f5.6, 1/200 of a second

When There Was No Snow

Sometimes the light hits an un-extraordinary subject in just the right way and creates an extraordinary scene. My favorite part of this photo, though, is going to depend on your monitor being a reasonable brightness. In a print this is something you can easily control but online it gets harder — I love the dark fall tones and subtle evening light in the background.

Taken in Elk Island National Park, 150mm, f2.8, 1/800 of a second.

Drawing in Space

In my design studies at university, we had a fascinating sculpture assignment called “Drawing in Space”. We used strips and small blocks of wood to create a sculpture with interesting lines when viewed from any angle. Both the lines and the negative space they defined were equally important. I really enjoyed framing spaces and cutting into volumes of space, and that is something that I don’t get to do quite as much with photography. But when opportunities present themselves, as they did this last week, I get lost in the creating. I’m not sure how long I spent in this particular treasure trove of grass curls. The shallow depth of field I’ve used here really adds to both the ethereal-ness and the depth of the photo, letting you almost feel the space around the grass.




All taken with my 5d, 150mm macro, f6.3, 1/200 – 1/640 of a second.
Taken on the Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park.

If you’re still reading and interested, I’ll just write a quick note about composition. In the last two photos I’ve done something that is generally disapproved of in standard compositions – there is a strong line running vertically through the frame (even directly in the middle of the frame! the horror). In these cases I think it works as an unusual visual device to emphasize the depth of the photo. If the grass curls did not wrap around the vertical line it would not work.

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.

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.

Red Squirrel Moulting

I’ve never actually seen a Red Squirrel ( Tamiasciurus hudsonicus ) moulting into it’s summer pelage before, so I found this pretty interesting. And squirrels are always cute.

Taken in Elk Island National Park.

Friendly Wildlife

Some animals don’t require much of a telephoto lens. The chickadees at Elk Island (and almost everywhere else too) are a lot of fun to photograph, and are quite brave. They will come very close, even sit on you (briefly) if you stay perfectly still or if they think you have food. They’re also very acrobatic in the air, so it’s fun to try to catch them in flight.

This was taken with my slow-focusing and not very telephoto 150mm macro.

Moose Encounters

While hiking in Elk Island this week, I happened across this suspicious fellow. There were actually a pair of them, and of course the trail went right in between them. Between two moose didn’t seem like the safest place to be, so I stopped before I got too close. The one on the right ran off out of view, but I could still see the one on the left. It stopped, sniffed, eyed me, and the stalemate began. I stayed completely still, waiting for the moose to make its move. On the right, I saw some ears appear over the alders, and then disappear just as silently. I had no idea moose could be so sneaky in thick brush.

After about five minutes, the moose on the left started to move—tentatively at first, and then more confidently, chewing on a few available twigs. As it stepped out on the trail it looked me over and then moved off to do moose-type things. I was very happy with this development. Although moose are not generally agressive, the moose was very close, and I was very alone. And though I like to think that if I don’t bother animals, they won’t bother me, this only holds true until the first time it doesn’t. And that’s a little scary.