Little Flashes of Light

Fireflies in a Manitoba Meadow

These fireflies seemed to like the swampy areas, but as the night went on they spread out to fly through the trees and around the meadows.

Taken in central Manitoba.
21mm, f5, 13 seconds

Shaped By a Glacier

The ridge around those spruce trees is called a “lateral moraine” and was left behind by the Athabasca Glacier as it receded. I took this photo at the Columbia Ice Fields on a dark and cloudy day. I get the sense that this moraine is protecting the trees — like they’re sitting safe in their own fortress. And then I notice the mountain behind, which, by it’s comparative mass, renders the trees and moraine almost insignificant.

If you’re not interested in lenses, feel free to ignore the next bit. The photo is taken with the Panasonic 100-300 lens on my Olympus OM-D. When I got this lens, I was worried about it not being very sharp. I have looked up many reviews, but a lot of the photos in the reviews had shutter speeds under 1/1000 of a second with image stabilization turned on. It seems to me that this comments on the effectiveness of the IS, but says nothing about how sharp the lens is. Even using the lens on a tripod I find to be questionable because the center of balance is far infront of the tripod. So I ordered a lens collar with a tripod foot from Rudolf Rösch Feinmechanik. It didn’t get here in time for my trip to the mountains, so I don’t have a definitive review on the sharpness of the lens, but my initial impressions are that, while not being razor sharp, it is fairly good. The lens collar itself is beautiful — I’m thoroughly impressed. I will be using it a lot in the next while, and I’ll report back on its effectiveness.

1/4000 of a second, f7.1, 140mm

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.

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.

How I Love Creepy Trees

Taken on the Hayburger trail in Elk Island National Park while standing in snow above my waist. It was powdery snow, but still – hard to move. Makes me wonder how the animals survive the winter. It must take an incredible amount of energy to move anywhere at all, and food looks like it would be pretty scarce.

Melting Ice on a Tamarack Branch

Another shot from the same day (as the last pic of the day). It was a warm December day and a fresh snowfall was melting and re-freezing into ice on the Tamarack trees (Larix Laricina).

The background is a completely natural artifact of having a large telephoto lens, leaving the aperture as open as possible, and having a fairly low quality lens. The telephoto focal length along with the wide open aperture (f5.6 in this case) made the background completely blurred out. The bright highlights become circles. If I had a much nicer lens, they might be softer-edged and not as distracting. I kind of like the way they turned out though. I suspect the little specks in them mean I had a lot of dust on the end of my lens.

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).

Fall Birch Trees by a Small Lake

Paper birch trees (Betula papyrifera).

Yes, these are getting shorter and shorter. But at least I’m mostly keeping up. In January I should have a bit more time to expound on all things photographical. Till then, enjoy the photos.

Finding Peaceful Spots

People seem a little out of place in the forest. We make trails to have a place that is not quite so wild and easier to navigate. We rush to complete a loop, or reach a destination. I find it very different to pick my way through an unknown forest to no particular destination. You can go 10 feet or 10 miles, there’s not much difference. There’s variety on every scale, from the moss to the trees to the elevation of the land. It’s always a little jarring to run into other people when I’m in this environment.

One of the benefits of doing craft sales is that I get to talk with people who enjoy similar activities. At Kaleido, I talked with a lady who pointed me to a couple new spots that I haven’t been to before. They’re out of the way, not many people know about them, and of course they are beautiful. I like sharing places I discover, because I think we’re better off when we’re more aware of and connected to nature. But when other people confide in me with their favorite spots, I feel it’s not my place to let the world know – I’ll let them do that. I went to one of these places a few days ago, and these photos are the result.