Canadian Rockies, Southern Alberta »» Landscape Photography

Damn, Canadian Rockies … I miss you today.

There’s something so peaceful about being surrounded by the incredible landscapes where the Alberta prairies and the Canadian Rockies collide. I find many aspects of agriculture fascinating and really enjoy shooting the wide open crops and fields of our Alberta farmlands, especially when supported by a rocky mountain backdrop. I could easily spend much of my life roaming the land with a camera in hand. It’s a unique landscape and it’s one of the few places I actually find to be relaxing. Most of my mates travel around the world, and one day I’ll do the same, but right now I’m making the most of soaking up all the beauty Alberta has to offer. This should keep me going for a few more years, though my passion for our Alberta landscape will never fade.

Speaking of cameras, these photos were taken with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 14mm ƒ2.8L …. I mention these as I’ve recently sold the beautiful 14mm lens (sob) and I am selling the 5D Mark II body. While I’m still keeping my other Canon body and 2 Canon telephoto lenses, I’ve made the switch to the new Fuji X-T1 body. I needed something lighter for everyday use and since I’ve shot with the Fuji X-Pro 1 in the past, I knew it moving to another Fuji body wouldn’t disappoint me. I’ll miss my full frame body and ultra wide angle lens though — yowsa! I’ll talk more about the Fuji later on once I post some Fujilicious photos.

Double rainbow over Waterton Lakes National Park, early morning, late summer. Canadian Rockies, Alberta landscape.

Alberta landscape, Alberta Prairies, rural Alberta, agriculture, farmland, sunset, gravel roads, Canadian Rockies, wind turbines, wind farms, Pincher Creek

I’m almost done moving my galleries to another site and once completed, I’ll be linking up all the goods here on the blog. Until then, enjoy this selection of some of my favourites from my most recent trek to Southern Alberta.

Fading rainbow captured in the Canadian Rockies in Southern Alberta, early morning. Pincher Creek wind turbine during a late summer sunset with a Canadian Rockies backdrop. Alberta landscape. The rising sun casts a pink glow over the Canadian Rockies and farmland in Southern Alberta, late summer. Alberta landscape. Canadian Rockies, late summer morning in Southern Alberta landscape, Alberta farmland.

See you in the field!

Wildlife Viewing Tips »» Alberta Wildlife Photography

Posted in: National Parks of Canada, Resources, Wildlife on April 25th, 2014

Wildlife viewing can be one of the most spectacular adventures you can participate in outdoors. There is much to learn and enjoy from wildlife observations, and it’s important to know some of the things we should and should not do before heading outdoors.

Large bull elk (wapiti, Cervus elaphus) quietly eats food during the strong, early autumn morning light in Jasper National Park. Sidney Blake Photography.

While there are hundreds of tips for wildlife viewing and hiking in the great outdoors, I thought I’d share a handful of basic tips off the top of my head. Hopefully these will be of use to you.

  • Learn your target species. Even knowing the basic biology of a wild animal can help you safely view wildlife while causing no stress to the animal or yourself.
  • Bring your binoculars. Having these with you can help you accomplish a couple of important things:
    • alert you to animals lurking in the same vicinity as you, but you may not be able to spot on your own
    • allow you to safely observe and enjoy wildlife behaviour from a distance; this is especially useful for viewing larger predators such as bears or small alpine animals such as pikas.
  • Be prepared at the probability of crossing paths with a wild animal as you shuffle along the trails. This will probably be one of the highlights of your trek, but it’s important to know what to do when you encounter a wild animal. Whatever you do – do NOT run away. This goes hand-in-hand with learning about wildlife in the area and how to react should you encounter these animals on or off trails.
  • Give the wild animal some space. They are always aware when we are in their hood, so it’s up to us to respect them and their territory and learn to happily co-exist. No amount of stress to a wild animal is worth any photograph, video or viewing. If they are disturbed by your behaviour, you are too close and you need to move back or in some cases, move on.
  • Educate yourself on any local regulations and rules and obey posted signs with respect to wildlife distances you should keep, staying on designated trails and away from any protected and restricted areas. Respect these signs and closures. Ecosystems are often fragile and even footprints can damage an ecosystem. Know where you are walking and the impact each step you take can have.
  • Never feed a wild animal. Ever. Not even one you see as possibly being in distress or starving. The damage can be irreversible in a number of aspects.

Richardsons Ground Squirrel, Alberta wildlife, is standing guard at Elk Island National Park mid-morning during summer. Sidney Blake Photography.

Read on..

Trials & Tribulations of Wildlife Photography

Posted in: Elk Island National Park, In the Field!, Living, Wildlife on April 22nd, 2014

I finally headed to Elk Island after being away far too long, hoping to come across some moose or elk. My goal was to shoot wildlife as the sun rose, but after a couple minutes, the sun escaped behind the clouds and it stayed tucked away until I left about 2.5hrs later. This is the tricky part of photography this time of year — once the snow melts away, we are left with an ugly brown ground, littered with clutter. It can actually make for an interesting and moody landscape when all the elements of ugly come together, but it’s not easy to pull off.

My quest for wildlife was pretty much a bust, as I arrived about 15 minutes too late if I had to guess how far I saw moose and bison spread out by the time I entered park boundaries. I came close to bison a few times, but I chose to leave the lone stragglers be and I carried on. The light was not good, the wildlife were largely in hiding and because I faced gear, light and time limitations, I decided to really soak up the fact I was pretty much alone in the park, with the exception of park employees and the wildlife and I explored. And scouted. No matter how many times I’ve been to the park, I always find something else I need to add to my large EINP inventory, so it was a successful wildlife-turned-scouting trip.

Canadian geese,  Branta canadensis, survey the area after a change in weather, at Elk Island National Park.

I did however, come across one herd of bison and since it’s been a really long time I’ve been able to make my way to the park, I walked around a bit and just watched the bison. It was my first time using a larger lens in almost a year, and while I love the lens, I was reminded again of the limitations of a shorter focal length of 300mm. I usually carry my 1.4x converter with me, but I left it behind in a different camera bag. Oops. With it, I could have possibly focused on shooting just the bison up close without including their habitat this time, as let me tell you folks, it was a scene no one wants to see. Well, maybe a biologist doing a study, but that’s about it! The field was littered with bison pies! This is nothing new in bison country, but in this bland stage of the season where everything is so blah, bison pies really stand out. Haha!

I don’t like cropping wildlife images too much if at all, but this time I sliced the bottom right off as no one needs to see all the bison pies. What you see below is more than enough! This is the kind of photo I would never include in my gallery, but it’s a great example of when wildlife photography doesn’t work out as planned. So what is a photographer supposed to do?

Small herd of Plains bison grazing on nutrient-deficient vegetation at Elk Island National Park.

Read on..