I think most photographers have compiled a list of their top ten images in 2011, publicly or not. One Alaska photographer made a top 100 list of his images ~ ambitious, right? I was going to come up with a top 10, but instead I decided to just look through my inventory of edited images (don’t judge my lack of edits too much!) and choose the images that mean the most to me.
The black & white below is definitely my favorite. It sums up my 2011 in many ways. I’m planning to print and frame this image for my living room.
I like this image because it was a great morning hanging with a fellow photographer and friend, plus I love how the trees came out through the fog.
After an early morning start at the park (which resulted in a surprise confrontation with a large bull bison by Astotin – more on this in another post), a couple hours later I ventured out to the bison loop one last time to see if I could spot any deer or elk to photograph. Not an animal was to be seen at first, but then I spotted this lone bison. Even though I was a fair distance away, he froze as soon as I was in his zone, clearly not wanting to be disturbed. Normally I would have moved my positioning so I could observe him in a manner where my presence would no longer interrupt his routine after a little while, but he looked so sluggish and disconnected with the world, I decided to pack up my gear and head home.
Whether or not this was actually the case, between my earlier run-in with a bison and the behaviour of this bull, I respected the fact sometimes nature should be left alone. There will always be another opportunity to observe and photograph wildlife. It was more important for me to practice what I’ve learned through research and observation of plains bison instead of trying to force something that wasn’t meant to be that morning.
See you in the field!
A couple weeks ago I was asked by a friend what was on my mind, as he could see the wheels spinning in my eyes. He was probably expecting something serious, given the situation we found ourselves in at that moment, but instead I turned to him and said I still can’t believe I missed hearing a bull elk bugle this year.
Every year I wait for this moment to arrive; the annual elk rut, which takes place late summer to early fall. The sound of a bull elk bugling is not only bone chilling, often silencing the area, but it’s also extremely fascinating as it represents the first steps where new life will be created and legacies will be left behind for years to come.
There is something very special in being able to safely observe nature hard at work and watching bull elk wrangle up his harem (herds of cow elk). If you’re lucky enough, you can also witness bull elk sparring, the dominate elk usually gaining control of the harem.
Even though I was under the weather, I headed out to Elk Island for a few hours with one mission – to photograph coyotes. After running into my co-host and his photography posse as soon as I entered the park, I wasn’t expecting too much action as they informed me the park was extremely quiet, wildlife and public wise. I moved forward with my mission regardless, hoping I could prove them wrong (nothing like a little friendly competition, right?).
Between driving around the main parkway, parking myself and my gear on a few trails, nothing was happening. The thing about winter is the tracks never lie, so I knew there had to be tons of movement, given the number of fresh tracks everywhere in the snow. Obviously the wildlife were outsmarting us all once again and this mild winter morning was no exception. I felt like a detective once I spotted very fresh moose tracks in the Sandy Beach campground at Astotin, as I was on the case and I looked everywhere for that damn moose. Nothing! After a couple hours, I headed across the highway to the South Loop, hoping I could find my coyote without hiking too far in. I only made it a quarter of a kilometre in when I decided to pack it in, as I wasn’t feeling it today. A three hour late start to my morning was obviously indicative of how my day would pan out – not as planned.
Gear partially packed up, I headed back to the main parkway for one more chance and there she was …. a lone coyote, the object of my photography affections. My tripod and bean bag were packed away, so I carefully slid out of my vehicle and crouched to the ground and captured a few frames before I was detected and she would quickly disappear into the woods.
This little adventure sparked my desire to romp with nature, which was much needed of late. As soon as I’m back to feeling 100%, I’ll be heading outdoors again to see what I can find. Maybe the elusive Elk Island bull moose and I will finally cross paths. Until then, here are a couple of images I managed to crank out. Meh, I suppose they’re not too bad for a sick photographer and a hell of a quiet morning at Elk Island … Enjoy!
See you in the field!
With so many wondrous features in Jasper, it’s easy to miss out on the some of the more hidden and not so hidden gems within the park. Most visitors are in such a hurry to get inside the park and unpack for their stay, they drive right past the airfield without stopping by.
Until now, it’s been a secret to most I want to obtain my private pilot license, and it’s something I’ve been considering for a number of years, so as I ever so slowly work towards this rather expensive goal, I can only dream of the day I pilot a small aircraft in and around the Canadian Rockies. It would be an absolute dream come true and privilege to do so.
I haven’t spent enough time in this airfield during my last couple of visits, but maybe next time I have a friend in tow, I’ll spend more time wandering around this little slice of dreams in the park.
See you in the field!
It’s been a while since I’ve trekked through Jasper National Park. It’s been on my mind a lot of late, as the need to escape for a few days has been growing as the end of the year nears us. One of the most photographed areas in the park is Maligne Lake. While most images showcase its incredible color and open waters, I prefer photographing the other side of the lake, across from Miette River. On this particular cold, rainy early morning in May, there was not another soul around. I was convinced I would see hoards of photographers as I arrived at the lake by 7am, but outside of the odd squawk from a nearby eagle, I was on my own. Or so I thought. There were earlier reports of a female grizzly wandering the area, so as I laid down on the bridge to photograph the lake (sans tripod), I made sure my spidey senses were on full alert and my bear spray was ever so close. Our paths never did cross.
I’m looking forward to heading back there soon, tripod in hand, as I hunt for an even more interesting vantage point. A light snowfall would certainly add to the atmosphere and mood, wouldn’t it? Fingers crossed …
See you in the field!