Just about every year for the past 8 years or so, my friend Gerard Reardigan and I head off for a day trip into Dry Island Park in winter. Now, that sounds all great and everything, but the thing is you can’t drive in as they have a gate up from sometime in fall until spring, so you have to trek in on foot. For anyone who has been to the park you know just how steep the hill is, so steep that if you are in there when it is raining you could well be there for a bit. Anyway, we usually start our trek off with great gusto. It’s so easy heading down and such beautiful scenery that we don’t worry about where the vehicle is parked and what it will take to get back up to it. We simply enjoy ourselves, climbing up and down through the badlands for the day, usually having a lunch somewhere along the way, as we always stop at Tim Horton’s for some sandwiches and muffins when we leave town. A big thermos of hot coffee always helps too, especially if you can find a nice butte to sit down on and enjoy the view. So we photograph and talk for the better part of the day and once the sun starts to get low on the horizon, we know it’s time to start our uphill climb back to the vehicle. Well, it’s so easy to write this and laugh, but let me tell you, for anyone who isn’t in top condition physically (that’s me), it takes absolutely everything you’ve got to climb the steep road back up. Saying it’s a road also makes you think it can’t be all that bad. Keep in mind that the gate is locked shut up top, which means nobody comes down the hill to plow the road. There can be snowdrifts as high as your waist that you must struggle through. Gerard always beats me to the top, so it’s pretty obvious about who’s in better shape. The trip always has good memories and even though I feel completely exhausted at the end of the day, I still have the desire to do it all over again.
This image is from the trip we did last January, and if it looks cold it was, and windy too. If I recall correctly the temperature was in the mid -20C’s with a really strong wind out of the north. I made this image just after dropping down from the top of the valley where we were protected from the wind.
[Canon 5DmkII, Tamron 28-300mm(not a great lens by the way, but I wanted to try it out]
Same time and day as the last Chickadee post. Same camera, same lens, same technique. Different pose. You know these guys are so tiny, look at the needles it’s perched on, they aren’t even bending over!
I have been enjoying doing some interior design photos with my Lensbaby. These two are from our place.
We spent the weekend up at my in-laws again this past weekend as Alexander was playing in a soccer tournament in St. Albert, Just before we left last night I mnaged to grab a few images of the chickadees coming to feed from the seed that Elmer puts out for them. I prefocused on the branch here hoping that one would land before my arms gave out holding the camera up. Sure enough, one shows up and I was ready to blast off a salvo capturing this little guy. I was playing with the new Canon 70-300mmL IS lens and am quite impressed. It would lose focus and hunt sometimes, but all lenses will.It is very sharp throughout it’s range due to a floating focusing mechanism and the speed really isn’t too much of a problem as you can simply turn up the ISO if need be a stop or two. the only drawback to the slower apertures is the loss of shallow depth of field, but for the images I was taking there is plenty of separation between the background and the subject allowing it to really pop off the background. The lens is almost the same diameter as the Canon 100-400mm but is 46mm shorter in length and 330 grams lighter, so it makes a for a nice carry around size. Keep in mind it does not come with a tripod mount which would account for some difference in weight. You can however purchase a tripod mount for it. This lens is also fully weatherproofed and has the latest Image Stabilization from Canon which claims usability at four stops. They’ve also incorporated a Flourine coating which resists smears and fingerprints and really makes it a breeze to clean the front element. Rain and dust just don’t like sticking to Flourine either.
[Canon 7D, Canon 70-300mmL IS]
One last image from my in-laws acreage for now. The late day sun is having fun playing with shadows and organizing light paths through the trees. Organizing an image like this is so good for me. Searching out patterns and balance to me is what seeing is all about and I love the challenge. Winter truly is beautiful, now if only we could have this beauty somehow at +24C! Spring will feel so good this year, it’s been a long winter.
The late day sun is just peaking through a few breaks in the trees before another cold night takes over the forest. This is my in-laws(Yakimchuk’s) acreage north of Spruce Grove, Alberta.
Sorry for springing (pun intended) ahead with my last few posts. It felt nice to dream of the colour green and warm weather. Winter is still here and so here is another image made in the cold air.
August 3, 2009. This was an amazing thunderstorm as the sound was travelling close to 20-25km through rain before I could hear it. Usually I can’t hear thunder when the lightning gets to about 10-12km in distance, but this storm somehow allowed it and the long deep rumblings were fantastic to listen to. In total I made a 40 minute recording of which this is about 7:15 of the best part. Made using a Sound Devices 702 and two Audio Technica AT3032 mics in a binaural arrangement.
The image below was made just 6 days after I made the recording above just east of Red Deer near the NOVA plant at Joffre. Check out my post showing this same image and a few others along with a bit of a story about this storm.
I have started to post a few of my nature recordings on SoundCloud and will link them here. This first one was made in Police Outpost Provincial Park(PDF) which is in extreme southern Alberta, actually on the Montana border. A short trail takes you through some trees to the shoreline of Police Lake. It was amongst these trees that I noticed these insect sounds in one of the trees. I honestly have no idea what insect they are and if anyone knows I would love to hear from you. I was handholding a small digital recorder, an Olympus LS-10, which I can carry with me virtually anywhere due to it’s size and obtain great quality recordings.
A bit of a rare site found in the Alberta badlands near Drumheller, actually downstream close to Dorothy. Sure every spring it turns green in the badlands, but it rarely lasts as it is so dry like a desert, but last year was the exception. It rained and rained and kept things green for far longer than normal. In this image, using contre jour technique to accentuate the greens, there is even water running in the small channel. Almost always some stagnant water can be found, but running water is mostly only seen after a rainstorm. If I recall correctly, it hadn’t rained for a few days when I captured this image.
[Canon 5DmkII, 24mm f/3.5L II TS-E II]
Shooting directly into the sun, you must be very careful about making sure that the suns rays don’t shine directly into the lens at it causes massive flare and reduces contrast drastically. This second image shows you just how bad flare can affect you images. I simply held my hand out front of the lens to shade it for the first image shown, but a hat or a friend holding something will work great.